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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Investing
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Bad decisions I made with my money

Last month, I wrote about some of the things that I have bought or done with my money that I think were well worth what they cost . So it's only fair that this month, I look at the opposite: mistakes I made with my money. I suppose I should be writing about things I bought that weren't worth it, but I had a hard time coming up with that lis...

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Ads, Ads, Ads: Digital Advertising on Our Social Media Pages

There has been an important focus on digital advertising on social media platforms. For those of us who grew up prior to the advance we now see with technology and streaming services, we had to sit through all the commercials if we wanted to watch our favorite shows. Marketing strategies have changed to expand the reach and keep up with consumer behaviors. Additionally, we have seen a lot in th...

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Should I ask for donations instead of birthday gifts?

There seems to be a recent trend, thanks to Facebook, of asking for donations for your (or someone else's) birthday instead of gifts. For the last two years, we have asked for donations to our son's birthday instead of toys or gifts that he might play with for a few minutes and then forget about. Here are some items to consider if you've been wanting to ask for donations for your birthday or a...

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Is Gardening Garbage or Great

Is Gardening Garbage or Great?

For the last two summers, my family and I have had a garden in the backyard. We take the time to till the soil, plant the vegetables and herbs, then wait. This summer I want to track my spending and see if my time and money it's really worth having a garden. This year we planted: 7 tomato plants (roma, heirloom and cherry) 4 bell pepper plants 1 jalap...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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...

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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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