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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Budgeting
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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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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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Wedding Season is coming... is your wallet ready?

Ah, wedding season. The time of the year when we celebrate the love of two people to be bound legally together. Whether you're in the bridal party, parent, grandparent or friend... weddings these days can be costly! According to The Knot's 2016 Real Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $35,329 dollars (and that doesn't even include the honeymoon!) Even attending a wedding as a guest can g...

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Jan 17 Save Money

Seven Ways to Save Money This Year.

January is a time when we all take a look at our finances and decide "I need to do something different". Whether it's the bills coming in from Christmas or the looming doom of paying your taxes, we could all use a little extra for something. I'll admit that I am terrible at some of these items and pretty good on others. So I have challenged myself to become better at watching every penn...

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Holiday Spending Tips

The holidays are coming up… and with it is the ability to overspend. Whether you're shopping for a few or many, having a plan for the holidays can help. Below are my top 3 holiday spending tips! 1. Use a budget within a budget. Although this seems tedious, having a budget within a budget will help to keep your spending in check. In a normal spending period, you have all of your...

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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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Life Transitions - Change is Constant

"The only thing that is constant is change."-Heraclitus Life seems to move faster and faster as we age. I know from experience that when I started working for Extension I was a single person, then engaged, then married. Our readers have followed me along in my home buying series and now I'm excited to share that we'...

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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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How Much are You Willing to Spend for Time, Convenience, Taste, Etc.

In your daily life, what questions are you asked? I suppose philosophers ponder questions like, ""If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" As a financial educator, I've been asked questions lately like: Does a Subscription Box save people money? Should I pay someone to mow my lawn or clean my house? Can you actually s...

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Transitions: How does leaving a job affect your income taxes?

Most of us expect our income taxes to take care of themselves, except for filing that pesky return: money gets withheld over the course of the year, and then we hope to get some of that back as a refund. When you leave a job, income taxes can get a bit more complicated. If you're retiring or being laid off, the last thing you need is an unexpected tax bill or penalty. On the other hand,...

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A Timely Conversation: Revisiting College Budgets

It seems like only yesterday that we were saying goodbye as our students left for college, and now the semester is quickly winding up. As the students return home for the holidays, now is a good time to revisit financial plans. Spending plans (budgets) are working documents. After using a plan for awhile, it's important to evaluate and adjust it. This is true for everyone but especially for ne...

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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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Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: A Four Month Spending Spree!

Brightly colored scarecrows crowded by pumpkins, yummy pie recipes featured online, holiday lights displayed in local stores, it's that time of the year: the holidays are upon us! It can be a wonderful time of the year to catch up with friends and family, and enjoy the changing seasons. But with first Halloween, then Thanksgiving and winter holidays, all the way to celebrating the New Y...

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Dear Young Friend: “Cheap Insurance” for the Things You Worry About

Dear Young Friend, If you're twenty-something, what do you worry about? Karen ___________________   That's the question I posed on my Facebook page when I was working on last month's post, How to Think about Risk and Insurance , as part of my...

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Saving the Food Budget

Have you noticed that food prices are going up, up, and away? Flooding in the Midwest. Drought in the West. Bird flu among poultry. The price of meat higher than the price of gasoline. Where will it stop? It seems like there is not much we can do other than pay more and get less. Most people look for one simple fix that will get them to where they want to be (going vegetarian co...

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Dear Young Friend: How to Think about Risk and Insurance

Dear Young Friend, We haven't talked much about insurance and risk. Before we wrap up our conversations, I wanted to share some thoughts on this. Karen ________________   Here's a question for all my twenty-something friends: What do you worry about? What kinds of things should...

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Financial Education: Not Enough for All Financial Problems

I believe in the importance of financial education; I am a financial educator. I believe with good information people can avoid many costly errors and utilize their money to reach their dreams and goals. But it's not enough! And, as I talked to people during Money Smart Week I realized that it may sound like I think it is. However, it's clear to me that before people can make educated decisions...

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The Rising Cost of Prom and the "Promposal".

I think that social media is costing us much money. Until a few days ago, I had never heard of a promposal. Granted I went to high school in the stone ages when boys awkwardly asked girls at their lockers to go to the prom. My children's experience was not far removed from that other than all the couples went as a big group rather than as individual couples. My son even waited until the night b...

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The Odious Task of Tracking Expenses

I come from a long line of habitual expense trackers. Growing up, there was always a legal-sized ledger book in the drawer. A new page was started for each month. Every receipt was entered. There were often a few loose receipts tucked into the book, waiting to be logged. When my mom passed away and I became the keeper of my grandfather’s papers, they included his ledger from 75 years ag...

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Top Five Tips and Strategies to Save Your Sanity and Budget This Holiday Season

Top Five Tips and Strategies to Save Your Sanity and Budget This Holiday Season Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, the end of the year is a budget buster, and the financial hangover can last for months. The problem is no one wants to be seen as a Scrooge or a Grinch. One key is not just to buy less but shop smarter. Retailers are masters at running promotions...

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Back to school shopping: It’s as Easy as A-B-C and 1-2-3

I saw my first television ad for back to school supplies on July 1 this year and I just shook my head. For many school-aged children, especially in the Midwest, school has barely ended for the year and they are reminded that it is all about to start over again. Why, they have not had a chance to get bored yet! My all-time favorite commercial shows a dad shopping for his two children. He...

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Paying Down that Dastardly Debt

Recently, I have been receiving requests from many of my friends about what they can do to work on paying down their dastardly debt. Whether it is student loans, that amazing vacation you splurged on or that new 70 inch TV complete with Blu-ray and surround sound you financed via credit card, most of us have some sort of debt we would like to take out of the picture. The problem many face is th...

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Stress Test Your Financial Plans

When I faced a major life decision two years ago, looking at my financial situation was a big factor in the decision. I estimated what my future expenses would be, and compared those against my expected income. I did a net worth statement , which forced me to total up my assets and liabilities. I even guesstimate...

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The Frugal Gardener

I love growing perennials in my small suburban lot. But I'm very cost-conscious about it. I've sometimes thought about giving my garden a name, but The CheapSkate's Garden doesn't sound too appealing. However, I thought that readers of this blog might enjoy hearing about some of the things I've done to cut costs in my garden. Edging: One garden chore I don't enjoy is ed...

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Summertime Staycation

Last month I wrote about Vacation Getaways and one of the options that I discussed was the concept of a "Staycation." So, what is a "Staycation?" A "Staycation" is a vacation in which you stay close to your home, exploring the area where you live, or having an opportunity to enjoy the smaller things in life that you may not...

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