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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Karen Chan
smile what makes you happy

Things I Used My Money for That Were Well Worth It

Posted by Karen Chan - Karen Chan

Does money make us happy? Most of the time when I talk about money, it's about how to spend less, save more, invest those savings, etc. Today, I decided to talk about something different: the things I have done with my money that were well worth it. Some of them even made/make me happy! As I wrote this, I also began to realize how these particular expenses and decisions have affected my...

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The Easy Way to Set Up a Spending Plan.

Have you ever thought about setting up a spending plan (aka budget) but it seemed like too much work? Here's an idea that can help jumpstart that process. Usually financial experts suggest that you track your expenses for a month first, to see where your money is actually going. Then you create your budget based on that information. That's a useful process. But I have a different approa...

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taxes-1015399 1920crop

How will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affect you? Inflation Adjustments, IRAs, 529 Plans, ABLE Accounts, Student Loans, & Estate Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affected so many different parts of the tax code that it's taken us three posts to cover them (see Part 1 – a line by line comparison for 1040 and Schedule A , and Part 2 – Tax Rates ). But that's OK because these rules don't affect the taxes you're filing now for 2017. They went into e...

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tax brackets 2018

Tax Rates: How Will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Affect You, Part 2

How much income tax you owe is depends on two things: 1) how much taxable income you have and 2) the tax rate applied to that income. Taxes = Taxable Income x Tax Rate Last month , I showed you how the new tax law will impact the calculation of your taxable income, as a result of numerous changes to deductions, ex...

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1040 2017 NOT VALID FOR 2018

How will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 affect you? Check this head-to-head, line-by-line comparison of your 2017 and 2018 tax returns

As you're filling out your 2017 tax return, take the opportunity to think about how the new tax law will impact you for 2018 and beyond. To help, I've put together a list of the changes, organized by line number on the 1040 and Schedule A (Itemized Deductions). If you file the 1040A or 1040 EZ, your lines numbers will be different. There's been a lot in the news about the changes, but i...

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Investing 101: Mutual funds can make investing simple

You don't have to have a lot of money to get started investing. You don't even have to buy stocks and bonds to be an investor. And you can reduce the risks associated with owning individual stocks and bonds. It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? But a thing called mutual funds can do all that. This is the third post in a series about the basic...

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Risk

Investing 101: How many kinds of risk are there?

This is the second in a series about the basics of investing. Last month, we met Aunt Jane and George. Their investing experience helped us learn about stocks and bonds. This month, they'll illustrate the risks that stockholders and bond owners face. Next month, they'll learn how to invest without having to buy individual stocks or bonds. To find all the posts in this serie...

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Investing 101

Investing 101: A story that will teach you about stocks and bonds

Many of us choose investments for our IRAs or 401(k)s without really understanding what we're doing. So over the years that I've been teaching about personal finance, I started using a story that would help listeners understand stocks and bonds – without me ever using the words. So sit back with a cup of coffee (or even better, hot chocolate) and meet Freddie. Freddie wants to s...

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all-my-money-box
click image to view 6 more

2-day training for agencies working with limited resource audiences on financial management

Does your agency work with low to moderate income clients on debt management, budgeting, or understanding financial products like payday loans and prepaid debit card? University of Illinois Extension's All My Money: Change for the Better curriculum was created for you! All My Money: Change for the Better is designed s...

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DECISIONS 2

Buyer's Remorse: The Consequences of My Quick Decisions

Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to overthink things. I'll research even the smallest decision. Major decisions can take forever. I like to joke that I do my buyer's remorse before I make the purchase: I'll already know what the potential disappointments are, or trade-offs I've made, before I hand over the credit card. No surprises! On the one hand, I know that this is ho...

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Quilt

“Being saving”

Have you heard that phrase – "being saving"? If not, you might have thought there was a typo or that I've forgotten the rules of grammar. But actually, it's a phase I grew up with. it might be a "regionalism" – a word or phrase whose use is limited to one part of the country – or an antiquated phrase. When I searched online, I found two books from the early 1900s that used it. One even had an e...

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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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Slide1

Don't risk a lot to save a little. Or said a different way, stupid ways you can waste your money!

"Don't risk a lot to save a little." That simple phrase has stuck with me through many years since I learned it while studying for my Certified Financial Planner designation. It was one of three basic principles of risk management. (I've forgotten the other two.) The idea is, don't try to save a nickel when that decision might end up costing you $10. Over the years, I have often thought...

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1040-es

I thought I hated estimated taxes. But maybe I don't.

Over the past several years, my tax prep software has often said that I should file estimated taxes. You know, those pesky payments that you send to the IRS four times during the year so that you pay enough in advance to not be hit with an underpayment penalty when you file? I always saw estimated taxes as a bother and a detail that I just didn't want to deal with. Who needs to keep tra...

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Tax brackets 2016

What Can You Learn from Your Tax Return?

President Trump's tax returns have been front-page news this week. Perhaps it's a good reminder that we should each take a look at our own tax returns to see what we can learn from them. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Be sure to read to the end, where I list some of the actions you can take right now. How much of your income avoided income tax?...

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I Love My Library

Using My Library to Save Money

I love my library! In case you hadn't noticed, your library offers a lot more than printed books. Recently, I began to realize that I'm benefitting from my library more and more – and saving more money – because of all the various services they provide. I still occasionally go the library and borrow a printed book. But more often, I'm using my library in different ways:...

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Shopping for insurance

My Insurance Shopping Adventure

Last summer, Sasha gave tips for shopping for car insurance . I have had shopping for insurance on my To Do list for months, maybe years. Her post encouraged me to actually do it. Since I'm trying to get my financial house in order , now seemed like a good time to tackle this task. I learned a several things fro...

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financial house v2

Getting My Financial House in Order for the New Year

It's that time of year when our minds turn to getting our lives ship-shape. Big box stores have set up huge displays of storage containers and gadgets to get us organized. Ads are pushing dieting and getting in shape. My personal goal is to get my paper and electronic records cleaned out and ready for another year. I want to know that I can find a document when and if I need it,...

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Venn diagram

Are there advantages to a trust compared to wills and beneficiary designations?

There are lots of different tools you can use for estate planning. (See the last part of my post from March for a list.) So it's not surprising that a lot of us don't know how they work together, or which ones we should use. Last month , I answered the first part of a reader's question, about whether you need a...

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Venn diagram

Do I need a will if I have named beneficiaries on most of my assets?

After my recent post about mistakes people make about naming beneficiaries – and the unintended outcomes that result – I received this question from a reader: If our beneficiaries are in place, is a will still important for transferal of things? In what areas and ways? Does it speed up the process or limit lawyer ent...

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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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Designation of Beneficiary v2

Naming Beneficiaries: Have you made any of these mistakes?

I bet you've named a beneficiary on something: maybe an IRA, a life insurance policy, or your 401(k). It's quick and easy to do. And being named as a beneficiary makes it quicker and easier for your heirs to receive what you've left to them, compared to the costs and delays of probate. But that doesn't mean beneficiaries are fool proof. Check out these stories. Have you made any of thes...

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Financial clutter 2

Do you have financial clutter?

Most clutter is obvious: the stacks of papers on the desk, the recipes torn from magazines or printed from websites, the collection of cords, cables, and power supplies that seem too valuable to toss. I once wrote an entire website about how to deal with it! But what about financial clutter? The symptoms are more subtle, but just as r...

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retire spend smile

How Much Will You Spend In Retirement? It’s a Tricky Question.

Say you spent $50,000 in your first year of retirement. How much would you expect to spend in Year 2? Year 3? If you're like most people, you said that you'll probably spend a little more each year, simply because of inflation. You would be in good company, because most estimates of how long our money will last in retirement make the same assumption. But it may be wrong. And if it is wr...

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MSW ORG A 2016

Learn the Secret Code of Personal Finance During Money Smart Week

In some areas of life, it seems that one group of people has the gift - they know what to do or how to behave so that they are successful and accepted. They know the Secret Code. In 1922, Emily Post published her book on etiquette. It was groundbreaking, because for the first time it revealed the secret code known only by the wealthy elite about how to behave and talk in high society....

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