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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Kathy Sweedler
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How to Choose a Financial Professional

We can't be an expert in all topics. That's why we seek help from people who have expertise in areas we don't. Financial professionals can help you explore alternatives and strategies to best manage your finances. People seek help from financial professionals for a variety of reasons, and you likely will have different reasons over your lifetime. You might not have the e...

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A Kitchen Remodel: Excitement and Trepidation

This summer, my husband and I are starting a kitchen remodel project -- yikes! Our house is over 60 years old and the kitchen is desperate for an update. In the next few months, I will blog about our journey – hopefully, this will be helpful to others facing remodeling projects. Home remodeling projects can be scary to start! Since we bought our home, my husband and I have done several...

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Let's Help Each Other Prevent Financial Exploitation

Do you have an older relative or friend who has been acting differently with their money lately? For example, are they: fearful or unusually anxious about their finances; wiring money to a new friend or contact; having trouble paying their bills or are making extra withdrawals of money; making abrupt, unexpected changes in their will, insu...

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Three Money Strategies You Can Do with Your Children

Youth manage money better as adults if the following happens while they are young: conversations about money happen regularly, a savings account is opened in their name, and they are given opportunities to practice using money and to talk about these experiences. Adults share the responsibility of helping youth and young adults learn how to man...

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GOOOOAAAALLLLSSSS

In February's Podcast, Kathy, Camaya and Sasha discuss goals and goal setting. You can listen to the podcast on SoundCloud ! Laugh and learn with us as the consumer economics team discusses goals together and how to make them less scary!...

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Join Us Online #ASW19

Come to our party! We're celebrating America Saves Week online on Wednesday, February 27th! At noon, we kick off with a webinar about Money and Relationships . Register at go.uiillinois.edu/GetSavvyWebinars to be sent login information. Ta...

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Celebrate America Saves Week! #ASW19

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year!  Why? Because it's like a BIG party across the nation celebrating saving money! America Saves Week takes a simple message -- save money regularly -- and let's us focus on it. The message is simple, but the reality of saving isn't always! This week the Illinois Extension educators behind Plan Well, Retire Well are involved in numerou...

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Stressing about Taxes? Survival Steps!

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 passed, I thought it might be a little extra stressful to prepare my tax return for 2018 with all the different changes. Well, now tax filing time is here and the number crunching begins! Let's look at steps you can take to reduce tax filing stress. Before you pull out a calculator or login in to a tax return preparation program, take time to...

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Family Finanical Feuds - Who Are We With Money?

In November, Kathy Sweedler wrote a blog post titled "Money Avoider? Giver? What's your Money Personality?" Kathy and I really enjoy discussing money personalities, scripts and even habitudes, so much so we recorded a podcast about it. Listen to "Who Are We With Money?" this...

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Visualize Your Financial Well Being

The beginning of a new year is often a time to set new goals and plans, and often these goals involve money. This year let's talk about financial goals in a little different way. Think about your financial well-being: where you are now? where you'd like to be in the future? Take a look at the eight i...

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Strategies to Lower Health Insurance Costs

When I was a young girl, I remember my grandmother saying she was thankful our family had good health. At the time, I thought that was a silly thing to be thankful for – now I have a better understanding of what she meant. When we're healthy, we tend to take health for granted; however, our lives change dramatically when poor health or an accident occurs. Health insurance protects us fr...

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Money Avoider? Giver? What's Your Money Personality?

Money and the holidays. For some of us, we happily swing into the spending mode. I look forward to the excuse to buy people gifts and spend money on treats. Each store I walk into is full of tempting, fun, creative, and exciting things all waiting for me! One of my strong money personalities is "giving" and this is my season. While we were raised in the same household, my sister does no...

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#TBT Applying for FAFSA, Managing College Expenses, Student Loans – Oh My!

Are you planning to attend college or career school in 2019-2020? You can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online – also known as FAFSA -- starting October 1, 2018 . Completing the FAFSA is necessary to apply for federal student aid, as well as other aid and scholarships. Remember, you have to fill o...

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Who Do You Live With? Why?

Do you live alone or with others? How has this changed for you over your life? In my life, who is under the rooftop has been a story of change: people moving in and out during life transitions. I am not alone. Many people today live in households with adults from different generations (multigenerational). In fact, in 2016 a record 64 million people – 20% of the U.S. population – lived w...

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Save on Food

How to Realistically Save Money on Food

One thing we all have in common, we need food. Likely, every week you spend money on food. How can you keep your costs down? Planning our food purchases and comparison-shopping can help. Planning your meals helps keep food costs down and decreases food wastage as well. Planning includes: checking what's in your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer,...

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Help Your Child Be a Good Financial Manager

Do you have youth and teens in your life? This summer may be an excellent time for them to learn skills and knowledge they need to be good financial managers as adults. Knowing we want to help develop positive skills and knowledge is one thing; being able to do it is another! Each child comes with their own personality and approach to daily challenges. As a parent, I realize I'm only on...

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Let's Shop for Mortgage Loans

Are you shopping for a new home to purchase? If so, are you spending enough time shopping for your mortgage loan too? Shop around to find the best interest rate you can on loans. According to research from the Consumer...

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Money Smart Week: A Chance to Keep Up with Changing Realities

After over 20 years of teaching personal financial management, I am still looking for more ways to empower people to use money to reach their goals and dreams. As our economy, societal practices, and laws change, our approaches to financial management education need to change too . In the past few weeks, our Extension office presented "Welcome to the Real World," a finan...

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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...

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Singing the Credit Card Blues

Now is when the holiday bills arrive and our budgets feel stretched! It's easy to feel overwhelmed by debt payments and end up avoiding them. But when you don't take control of your debt payments, the interest charges pile up – and grow and grow! Let's consider strategies to help take control of credit card bills. First, get organized. Make a list of each credit card or...

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Invest in Your Future!

Happy New Year 2018! The New Year offers opportunities for a fresh start and new resolutions. As you reflect on possibilities, I encourage you to include investing in your personal finance as a high priority for 2018. We choose to do many things with our time and energy, and it's easy to let our finances become "another day" activity; however, time spent today will reap many benefits in the fut...

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Test Your Knowledge about Health Insurance

Just how well do you understand health insurance policies? It's a challenging topic! Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed people about health insurance terms and concepts; only 4% answered all of the 10 questions correctly. However, that quiz is from 2014. With the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) enrollment period now open, this seems like a good time for a new qu...

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How to Protect Yourself When Your Social Security Number is Public Information

In the last few years, we've had data breaches at the IRS, grocery stores, retail stores and now a major credit bureau. After much thought, I've come to accept that my Social Security number is no longer private, and won't be for the rest of my life. In addition, because I care more about someone using my identity for financial gain than anyone else, it's up to me to monitor my financial ac...

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Cut Expenses While in College

Clearly college is expensive. However, most of the cost is not tuition! According to the National Center for Education Statistics , public 4-year, in-state costs in 2015-16 for students totaled $19,189 and tuition and fees was only 46% of total costs; room and board was the remaining cost . A...

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To Freeze or Not Freeze My Credit Report?

With the recent data breach at Equifax, a credit bureau company, you may be wondering whether you should freeze your credit report. I am one of the people Equifax has identified as "potentially impacted" by the data breach so I've been pondering my actions. First, what is a credit freeze? A credit freeze stops the credit bureau from releasing your credit report...

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