Extension Educator, Consumer Economics
Extension Specialist, Consumer Economics
Extension Educator, Consumer Economics
May 23, 2011
As the final days of the Oprah Winfrey Show quickly approach, I am reminded of being a high school senior and Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper. I was assigned the daunting task of going with one of my reporters to get the scoop on Oprah, then A.M Chicago host getting ready to go national. Needless to say, after jumping through hoops and convincing the ABC Channel 7 security guard to let us up to see her, we were pleased that we did get the interview in her then small office in the ABC news building in Chicago.
I had no idea that I was staring a living legend in the face. I had no idea that this now local Chicago TV talk show host would catapult into a talk show goddess. So, what did Oprah do that most of us hope that we could do to obtain a fraction of her success? If you plan to retire well, here are a few things that I noticed Oprah did that made the difference:
Oprah is retiring with a net worth of about $3 billion. While you may not be able to retire in the financial position that Oprah did, there are steps that you can take to insure your retirement years are "golden" for you. In addition to the previous, you can:
Obtaining financial freedom is a process. If you want to achieve it, it takes time and dedication. Your small steps today will make a big difference in the future. So, if you haven't started, or feel that you need to play catch-up, start making small changes today. No matter how small the change may seem, it will get you one step closer to your goal. Best wishes. Until we talk again...
May 12, 2011
What do you look for in a mutual fund? An investment objective that matches your goals? Historical returns? Tenure of the manager? Indexing versus active management? Cost? Those are all good things. But here's another to add to your list: how well a mutual fund treats its investors.
According to a recent study, funds that treat shareholders well may also do well for them financially.
Morningstar, the 600-pound gorilla in mutual fund research, has long been the go-to place for mutual fund data. In a report released in March, they conclude that funds who rate well on their "stewardship" are more likely to 1) stay in business and 2) provide "competitive" returns. Many funds who ranked low in the stewardship scale disappear, either through merger with another fund or liquidation. And both of those are signals that the fund was not doing well.
What does Morningstar mean by stewardship? According to the report, there are five components: "(1) the corporate culture of the fund's parent organization; (2) the quality of the board of directors overseeing the fund; (3) the fund managers' financial incentives; (4) the fund's fees; and (5) the fund firm's regulatory history."
No one is arguing that "stewardship" should be the prime factor in your decision. But isn't it nice to hear about a situation where the do-gooders come out ahead?
May 4, 2011
WOW! Gas prices are over $4.00 a gallon now in my town, and I spent $4.19 a gallon driving to Chicago last week. It looks like we're in for high prices for awhile. Now is a great time to rethink how and when we use our vehicles, and if there are some changes we can make to keep our costs down.
Everyone has their "tricks" for saving fuel and some are more effective than others. According to Consumer Reports' studies, here are two myths related to fuel savings.
1. Opening the windows – even when going 65 miles per hour (mph) – does not reduce your gas mileage. However, using your air conditioner (at 65 mph) reduces your gas mileage by over three miles per gallon (mpg).
2. Driving with a dirty air filer does not affect gas mileage on new cars that use computers to control air and fuel ratio. (There are other reasons to have a clean air filter, though.)
What does work? One of the most effective things you can do to use less fuel is to slow down. Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 mph or more can save you five to ten mpg. Also, try to drive smoothly. Frequent bursts of acceleration and braking can reduce your mileage by two to three mpg.
As a society and as individuals we need to rethink how we use vehicles. Consider using your car for transportation as the exception rather than the common practice. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Walk or bike to your destination. For shorter trips that don't require the use of a car, walking or biking can save on gasoline and provide exercise as a bonus.
2. Explore public transportation – and help your kids learn how to use it too.
3. Plan your trips. Instead of making several small trips, maximize your gas usage by mapping out your trip to include several stops along the way.
4. Increase the amount you carpool. Not just to work, but also to your child's soccer games or other events, and your social activities.
For more fuel saving tips, visit U of I Extension's Spend Smart Tips.