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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Investing
Invest allocation

I want to start investing. How much of my savings should I invest?

I was recently posed this question by a workshop participant I'll call Rick: "I have accumulated some money, and it is all in bank accounts. I feel like I should have some part of it invested in things like stocks and bonds. But how much? And how do I get started? I'm worried that stock prices seem like they're very high right now, but the interest I'm gettin...

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Holiday gift cards-Beware the Scams!

Holiday gift cards-Beware the Scams!

Over the years, gift cards have become a favorite gift. You don't have to worry about color or size, and there is one for every taste. Shipping costs are minimal, and you can purchase them almost everywhere. If you get a gift card for somewhere you don't shop, or for a store that's not in your area, there are websites where you can sell or exchange them for cash. However, gift cards hav...

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retirement cash flow

My Decision to Retire - Revisited

Four years ago, I announced my retirement here on the blog . I talked about the decision-making process that I went through, and the kinds of financial information that I used. (If you're reading this, you probably know that I was lucky enough to return to Extension on a part time basis and continue writing for the blog.) Four years into my so-called...

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Transition

Transitions: Strategies for your 401(k)

Deciding what to do with your 401(k) when you leave your job could be one of your biggest financial decisions. Same goes if you have a 403(b), 457, SEP or SIMPLE plan. I'm hoping you already know that, unless you absolutely can't put food on the table without it, you do NOT want to cash out your 401(k) or any other retirement plan when you leave your job. You got that, right? An...

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Maui 2015

Reflecting on 2015 ... Moving Forward in 2016

During the holidays I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Maui. As I walked along the beach, listening to the surf and marveling at the full rainbow over the ocean, I thought about where I am in my life and what I'd like to do in 2016. I believe in the value of reflecting on what we've done as well as setting goals for the future. In this mood, let's take a quick look at the Pla...

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blogaward2

Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

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Buckets for your money larger

Dear Young Friend: Investing Your Long Term Money

Dear Karen, We've talked about the need to keep some money handy for expenses, and some more where I can get to it in case of an emergency. So what do I do with Bucket #3. I'm still a little uncomfortable with the idea of investing. It seems like the stock market has been a bad place to have your money pretty often over the last few years. Your Young Frien...

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MP900442414

The Magic of Saving Money

Saving money can be magical. Start small, contribute regularly, and through compounding returns amazing things happen! Compounding returns is a fancy way of saying that money in savings and investment accounts earns MORE money for you – it works for you. In a savings account, you earn interest. In an investment account you earn returns such as dividends, interest, and growth in value. These ret...

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letter

Dear Young Friend: Three Buckets for Your Money

I have been talking with a young friend about a lot of different financial topics over the past couple of months. I realized that the challenges my young friend faces are the same things that almost all young adults deal with. Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some of our conversations. Maybe you're wrestling with some of the same questions. Or, like me, maybe you have a young frien...

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Tax Uncertainty? Tax Diversification to the Rescue

Diversification is the first rule of investing. You knew that, right? But have you thought about tax diversification? Yep. Smart investing isn't just what you own, it's where you own it and how it gets taxed when you take it out. From a tax standpoint, you have three different types of accounts: Regular (taxable) accounts, like your checking and savings accounts and accounts with...

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401k road sign

What to do with your 401(k)? Consider costs, investments, and services

The decision of whether to leave money in your old employer's retirement plan, or to move it to your new employer plan or an IRA, doesn't always have an obvious answer. Last week , we looked at factors concerning your age and when you want to have access to your money – or be required to begin distributions. Today, we'll talk about comparing costs, investmen...

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what to do w 401k

What to do with your 401(k)? Think about when you want your money.

You retired. Or changed jobs – maybe several times. So did I. And at many of those jobs, we had a 401(k) or some other type of retirement plan. If your account held less than $5000, you may have been forced to make a quick decision about what to do with the money. Otherwise, you probably did what many of us do so well: procrastinate . Maybe now is a...

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savings bond

About those savings bonds…

I am one of the 55 million Americans who own savings bonds. Almost all of those bonds are the old-fashioned paper ones, like mine. And my guess is that most of us do the same thing with our savings bonds: put them away and forget about them. That's okay for a while, but any financial asset needs to be reviewed periodically. I did that last week, and here are the things I thought about....

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I Love Money Smart Week

I love Money Smart Week! As Karen Chan mentioned in her blog post on March 12th, Money Smart Week is the best time of year to learn anything you want about managing your finances. All week people are talking about finances, how to manage money, how to talk with others...

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thumbs up down

Health Savings Accounts: Ten Things to Do and Not Do

My husband is contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), so of course I wanted to learn all the in's and out's of this relatively new animal. If this is new to you, check out the benefits and who qualifies in last month's post . If you take a few moments to learn the rules, you can reap significant benefits for y...

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retirement sign

Solutions for Investment Procrastination, Part 3

Target date retirement funds are the third tool that might help you get things done where investing is concerned. Like index mutual funds and automatic rebalancing that I wrote about previously, this is a tool that might simplify your investment decisions...

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pie chart copy

Solutions for Investment Procrastination, Part 2

Last month , I promised to introduce you to three services or investment products that can help you get the job done and stop procrastinating when it comes to investing. Using index mutual fund s as a way to simplify investment selection was the topic of la...

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Solutions for Investment Procrastination, Part 1

I would rather do lots of things than pick a mutual fund to invest in. Re-balancing my account isn't high on my list of fun things to do, either. My guess is that most people don't like these tasks any more than I do. So what happens? We procrastinate: these things are on my To-Do list, but I never seem to get around to them...

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Accumulating Actions: Saving for Retirement Early

During my college years I discovered it to be quite difficult to save for my retirement. As a financial planning student I knew it was something that I absolutely HAD to do. It was deep-rooted in my brain to save early, save often, and you'll have millions of dollars (no guarantees implied!) by the time you are ready to retire. Unfortunately life got in the way of all that, and I promi...

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The Tricky Business of Measuring Financial Knowledge

Many times when I read a survey that's designed to measure financial knowledge, I come away skeptical. Too often I feel that the survey questions measure financial jargon, rather than measuring useful knowledge or financial literacy. The FINRA Foundation's Financial Capability Sur...

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Pay Down Debt or Invest My Money?

Should I pay extra on my student loan or invest in a Roth IRA? Build up an emergency savings fund or pay off my credit card debt? Pay off my mortgage or put more money in my 401(k) retirement plan? In one form or another, the trending question lately has been, "Is it better to pay down debt or build up savings and investments?" Like many real-life questions, the answer is not black and white....

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Financial Fraud: Do You Believe that It Could Happen to You?

Nationally the problem of consumer fraud is huge. The Financial Fraud Research Center in in their report "Scams, Schemes & Swindles: A Review of Consumer Financial Fraud Research" estimates the annual cost of consumer financial fraud in the U.S. as approximately $50 billion." It's not only the financial amount loss that hurts victims; victims also lose time and may be affected psych...

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Tooth Fairy App

How Money Savvy is the Tooth Fairy?

Just what can we learn from the Tooth Fairy about money? Well, to start with, it seems that the Tooth Fairy feels that economic conditions in the U. S. are improving. A survey released by Visa shows...

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Rule of 72 with coin stack

See -- You Do Want to Start Saving Early!

When we save and invest our money for retirement, the money we invest will likely earn a return on investment in the long-term. This return may be from earning interest, dividends, or capital gains from when we sell the investment. The Rule of 72 helps us estimate how time and the rate of return affects our investment. If we divide 72 by the rate of return, we can estimate how l...

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Market-linked CDs: The Details are Important!

Just when you think you know the basics of saving and investing, something new comes along! Many of us have think of a Certificate of Deposit (CD) as a completely safe investment – guaranteed to provide a certain amount of return and insured by the government. And, while that is still true for many CDs, market-linked CDs are different. While market-linked certificate of deposits have bee...

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