Editorial Results (free)
1. Pre-Planning For The End
- Thursday, July 23, 2015
Pre-planning your funeral may well be the most important and considerate gift you leave your family.
When you plan in advance, there is time to contemplate decisions such as what type of service you would like – traditional or unique and related to the life you have led. You also limit costs when you plan in advance, limiting the trauma and “upsell” risk to your family. When you plan in advance, you decide the priorities.
2. Life Events and Your Financial Plan
- Thursday, July 16, 2015
Ray’s take: The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Nothing endures but change.”
When it comes to creating a financial plan, there’s always room for change. There are major events that occur in life that will require a review of, and revision to, your existing financial plan.
3. Building Blocks of Estate Planning
- Thursday, July 09, 2015
Ray’s take: Estate planning is one of the most important steps any person can take to ensure their final property and health care wishes are honored when the time comes. You may not be able to take it with you, but you can have a say about where it goes.
4. Timing the Market
- Thursday, July 02, 2015
Ray’s take: I once had a client tell me that all she wanted me to do was have her in the market while it went up, and get her out of it before it went down. Sounds great! The only problem is that an honest person can’t do that on a consistent basis.
5. Things or Experiences: Which Mean More?
- Thursday, June 25, 2015
Ray’s take: We talk a lot about budgets in financial planning, but less often about the type of spending we should do. Finances, like so much in life, are personal.
Some prefer to spend money on things. A newer, bigger TV. A nicer house or car. These things are items that should take some thought before buying. But what about impulse buying? Does that make us happy in the long term? For some the answer is yes.
6. Managing an Inherited IRA
- Thursday, June 18, 2015
Ray’s take: I remember when the original law went into effect creating IRAs. It was a short read. Now it’s a monster with more options, opportunities, and risks than anyone ever imagined. Here are a few of the most common mistakes made with inherited IRAs:
7. Deadlines Everyone Should Know
- Thursday, June 11, 2015
Ray’s Take: Deadlines are good for the soul. It’s always important to keep track of significant ones in life. At 16, we can drive, and at 18, we can vote. Your taxes are due on April 15. But what about other significant deadlines that may not be as familiar?
8. Gift It or Will It?
- Thursday, June 04, 2015
Ray’s take: Is it better to give now or leave items in your will to beneficiaries? This depends on your own plans, but here are some things to consider.
You can currently make annual tax-free gifts of up to $14,000 per recipient. If you are married, you and your spouse together can give $28,000 per recipient per year. You can either give $14,000 each, or one spouse can make a $28,000 gift with the consent of the other spouse on a timely filed gift tax return. You can also give an unlimited amount for tuition and medical expenses, if you make the gifts directly to the educational organization or health care provider.
9. Heirloom Jewelry and Your Heirs
- Thursday, May 28, 2015
Ray's take: One of the most contentious issues when distributing an estate can be the division of heirlooms. It would help to know which family heirloom holds special meaning to which heir. An item that you think is the most important may not be the most important to others.
10. How Deflation Impacts Your Portfolio
- Thursday, May 21, 2015
Ray’s take: Last month, we talked about inflation and how it can impact financial planning. This month, we’re taking a look at inflation’s opposite – deflation – and how that can impact your planning.
11. Financial Information in the Digital Age
- Thursday, May 14, 2015
Ray's take: As we spend more of our lives online – paying bills, collecting credit card rewards points, shopping, creating photo albums, emailing – it's increasingly important to consider how beneficiaries can access those accounts and any assets they hold, once we're gone.
12. Planning for Those With Special Needs
- Thursday, May 07, 2015
Ray’s take: Sometimes life throws us a curve in the form of a child with special needs. And when that happens, the best gift we can give them, beyond our love and care, is a future securely planned to meet their individual needs.
13. Multigenerational IRAs and Estate Planning
- Thursday, April 30, 2015
Ray's take: A multigenerational IRA is an individual retirement arrangement that works well not only to first-generation beneficiaries upon your death, but also to subsequent heirs who follow the original beneficiaries. These are also sometimes called a “stretch IRA.”
14. Inflation and Your Plan for the Future
- Thursday, April 23, 2015
Ray’s take: Inflation is one of the financial facts of life. You cannot control it, and you do not know what it will be in the future. Inflation is a silent thief.
You must take inflation into account when planning for future expenses, particularly for retirement. Maintaining the financial lifestyle you desire in your retirement years is dependent on how much you have accumulated by the time you retire, how fast you spend those funds during retirement and what those funds can buy going forward.
15. Estate Planning and Your Collectibles
- Thursday, April 16, 2015
Ray's take: We’ve all heard those stories about someone inheriting Great Aunt Matilda’s Avon bottle collection and having no idea what to do with it. But the collection meant something to Aunt Matilda. She could have planned differently for her collection and it might have found a home with someone (or somewhere) who loved it.
16. Enjoy Now While You Build Your Future
- Thursday, April 09, 2015
Ray’s Take Invariably, one boring little word seems to be the answer to virtually every personal finance question you’ll face: save. Save, save and save some more. Frugality is the new black.
17. Making Sense Of the 1099 Alphabet
- Thursday, April 02, 2015
Ray’s Take: As the April 15 deadline for filing taxes approaches, we are all looking at the various forms we’ve received related to tax filing.
Many people receive one or more 1099 forms with various letters following the number. These can be confusing if you don’t know what they mean, and not all dollars reported on 1099s should show up on your 1040 form as taxable income. Whatever you were paid last year, if it wasn’t wages on your W-2, it’s likely to be on a Form 1099.
18. Utilizing Health Savings Accounts
- Thursday, March 26, 2015
Ray's Take: Health savings accounts turned 10 in 2014. These accounts, which allow individuals to set aside money for current or future health care costs on a tax-free basis, are an under-utilized tool that few of us take advantage of.
19. Self-Employment and Retirement Planning Responsibility
- Thursday, March 19, 2015
Ray's Take: Being self-employed has some great perks, such as the financial freedom to expand your business on your own terms. You decide about days off and holidays. You make all the executive decisions. But with those freedoms, comes responsibility.
20. Prepare for the Unexpected
- Thursday, March 12, 2015
Ray’s Take: In the last 15 years, we have seen a cratering of housing prices, the near-collapse of the banking system, double-digit unemployment and two of the most extreme market cycles since the Great Depression. So, unfortunately, bad news has become somewhat of the norm.
21. Good Health, Wealth Go Hand in Hand
- Thursday, March 05, 2015
Ray’s Take: One of the biggest and most challenging issues in retirement is how to plan and pay for health care expenses. Medical bills can mushroom in later life and empty nest eggs. Reimbursements are being reduced regularly. The healthier we are, and remain, the lower our health costs will be. Especially in a world where health costs are rising more each year.
22. Tax-Smart Investment Strategies
- Thursday, February 26, 2015
RAY’S TAKE: I’ve heard it said that it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that counts. Taxes matter, and over time they matter a lot. Using tax smart investments can reduce the amount of taxes you pay while you are in your accumulation years and also impact taxes you pay after you retire.
23. Retirement for the 'Sandwiched'
- Thursday, February 19, 2015
Ray's Take: If you’re in the “accumulation years” – meaning before retirement – you may find yourself in a tough situation.
You may be sandwiched between adult children trying to find their feet in a tough economy and aging parents needing care and support. Helping both often comes at the expense of your own long-term security.
24. One Size Does Not Fit All
- Thursday, February 12, 2015
Ray’s take: Some things are always true about financial planning. Everyone should have a plan. Everyone should review his or her plan on a regular basis.
But when it comes to more specific things like, “How should I invest?” “Should I retire at 65 or 67?” or “Should I invest in a 529 plan for my kids’ college?” the correct answer will be, “It depends.” This is the point where the one-size-fits-all train goes off the rails. Because everyone is different and their financial plan should be as individual as they are.
25. Save More Or Earn More?
- Thursday, February 05, 2015
Ray’s Take There are two main ways to increase funds for retirement purposes. Save more of what you currently earn (by spending less) or earn more than you currently do. It’s all about having funds available to invest for your future.
26. IRA Rollover Changes for 2015
- Thursday, January 29, 2015
Ray’s Take: Recently, new regulations went into effect that affect your IRAs and rollovers. Prior to 2015, the rule in effect allowed you to do a rollover each year, in which you received a check made out to you, rather than to another IRA custodian, on each IRA you own.
27. Save Time in Addition to Money
- Thursday, January 22, 2015
Ray’s take: I’ve often heard that you can tell more about a person by looking at how he or she spends their time and money rather than what they claim is important to them. January is a good time to take stock of not only your finances but also how you spend your time. And the two can be related.
28. Financial Terms You Should Know
- Thursday, January 15, 2015
Ray’s take: Do you know the RMD for your IRA? How about your AGI for the IRS? Or does the alphabet soup of financial terms leaving you scratching your head?
Some people watch interviews with investment professionals and look for subtitles, as if the conversation is in another language. It often is. Investment and tax news is typically delivered in cryptic acronyms which seem to be designed to confuse rather than inform.
29. Money Management Principles
- Thursday, January 08, 2015
Ray’s take: Most things in life involve a set of basic principles, and money management is no exception to the rule.
First, you should know and understand what you earn. You should not only know your gross salary and net pay amounts, but you should also understand your withholding and insurance benefit withdrawals. Without earnings, there would be no need for money management principles. Make the most of what you earn by following other principles.
30. ‘Hidden’ Fees and Charges Add Up
- Thursday, January 01, 2015
Ray’s take: It’s the beginning of a new year, a time for reflection and taking stock. New Year’s resolutions typically are significant changes. Big changes are difficult. I suggest considering a series of little ones. Your odds are better and the little fees and charges in our lives can add up and throw our budgets and plans off track.
31. End of The Year To-Do List
- Thursday, December 25, 2014
Ray’s Take In an ideal world, we would always stay on top of all of the intricacies of our financial lives. The real world seems to work a little differently. If it weren’t for the April 15 deadline, I doubt we would ever get around to filing our taxes. Deadlines are good for us, actually. So as we roll quickly toward the end of the year, let’s review a few.
32. Roth Conversion, Should You Do It?
- Thursday, December 18, 2014
Ray’s Take There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about Roth accounts, specifically the Roth IRA and the Roth 401(k). Maybe you’re wondering if you should convert your own accounts but aren’t sure.
33. Reinventing Retirement
- Thursday, December 11, 2014
Ray’s take: At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was 47 years. Today, the average American can look forward to about 78 years of life. The average life expectancy for today's 65-year-old has increased to 84, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. I currently have twelve clients over 90.
34. Required Minimum Distributions
- Thursday, December 04, 2014
Ray's take: Once you reach age 70 1/2, you are required by law to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMD) from your tax-advantaged retirement account, or accounts, each year.
This is a time when you need to take advantage of all the tools available to make this as simple as possible as well as to allow the volatility of the markets to work for you.
35. Hackers and the Holidays
- Thursday, November 27, 2014
Ray’s Take: Cybersecurity is a big topic of conversation in the financial world these days. Securing personal data in addition to bank accounts is a growing concern. As we approach the holiday buying season, debit and credit card information hacking is on a lot of people’s minds.
36. Estate Planning and State Taxes
- Thursday, November 20, 2014
Ray’s take: A lesser-discussed aspect of estate planning is state inheritance taxes. Some states have tax separate and in addition to federal estate taxes. And to make it even more confusing, some states collect estate taxes and some states collect inheritance taxes, while two states collect both.
37. Ask Your Parent the Difficult Questions
- Thursday, November 13, 2014
Ray’s take: The whole idea of talking to your elderly parent about their finances and estate planning may make you feel slightly ill.
You may worry that they’ll think you’re invading their privacy, don’t trust their judgment or are trying to make a grab for their money, all of which seem like good reasons to put off that conversation. The more financially successful many parents are may make them more patriarchal.
38. Financial Literacy Is a Must
- Thursday, November 06, 2014
Ray's take: I occasionally am asked to teach a short financial literacy course in the Shelby County Schools system. I am amazed how many 11th and 12th graders already have credit cards. When I ask if they pay off their cards each month, they usually respond, “Oh yes, I pay the minimum balance every month!”
39. Charitable Giving a Win-Win
- Thursday, October 30, 2014
Ray’s take: The UBS Investor Watch “Doing Well at Doing Good” report released recently says, “In spite of the recent economic uncertainty, America's ‘giving gene’ remains intact, and donations of money have actually increased.”
40. A Gift That Can Give For A Lifetime
- Thursday, October 23, 2014
Ray’s Take Every so often, a client calls and asks if I would spend some time with their son or daughter to help them get off on the right foot financially. When they look back on their own early choices, they can see how much a few right decisions, and the avoidance of a few poor ones, would have been worth.
41. Choosing Your Own 401(k) Mix
- Thursday, October 16, 2014
Ray’s take: Recently, we talked about Target Date Mutual Funds and how these preset funds could be an effective tool for your retirement. These funds have a particular mix that changes as you approach your projected retirement date. These can be good as long as you have researched the funds and determined if the “mix” meets your unique retirement goals.
42. Retirement: Savings-to-Income Ratio
- Thursday, October 02, 2014
Ray’s take: If you've at least started planning for your retirement, congratulations. It's often a hard first step. Follow-up steps are just as important.
When you are looking to buy a home, the mortgage company uses something called the “debt-to-income ratio” to determine if you qualify for the loan you are seeking. When determining the savings required to reach a retirement income goal, you can use a similar process to determine if you are targeting the correct ratio.
43. Certified Financial Planner – One Big Thing
- Thursday, September 25, 2014
Ray's take: In today’s world of financial specialists, each one has their own view of what you should do – because each one is focused on their own focused area of the big picture: the CPA, the insurance agent, the attorney, etc.
44. Target Date Mutual Funds – Should You Go With the Flow?
- Thursday, September 18, 2014
Ray's take: Target date funds take their name from the year in which an investor plans to retire or stop contributing to savings and is increasingly the default choice for 401K plan contributions.
45. Seniors and Student Loan Co-Signatures – Should You?
- Thursday, September 11, 2014
Ray’s take: Your grandchild has been accepted to his or her college of choice. Great news! But now that the celebration of acceptance is over, it’s time to do a realistic budget and figure out where the money will come from to pay for tuition and all the other expenses associated with attending college.
46. Late Cuts, Pickups Reveal Titans’ Talent Shortfall
- Saturday, September 06, 2014
What exactly does it say about the Tennessee Titans that, after they made their own cut to 53 players, they were still sifting through the scrap heap of other teams’ cuts and making five more moves?
47. US Savings Bond – A Golden Oldie
- Thursday, September 04, 2014
Ray’s take: U.S. savings bonds are debt instruments issued and fully backed by the federal government and were once touted as a great way to be patriotic. Their attraction historically has been safety (yes), deferred taxes (yes) and convenience (maybe). Traditionally, they were a staple gift for graduates, newlyweds and newborns.
48. Beneficiary Forms Trump Your Will
- Thursday, August 28, 2014
Ray’s take: Few people like to think about death – particularly their own. But a sound estate plan includes dealing with that possibility to be certain your wishes are honored after you “make the switch.”
49. Vols: Looks Like 6-6 Season
- Saturday, August 23, 2014
Pull out your 2014 schedules, UT fans.
Fall camp is done, and it’s time to get in game-week mode with the season opener against Utah State fast approaching.
So go to the little box next to each of UT’s opponents on the 2014 schedule and pick the winner.
50. In Case of Incapacitation
- Thursday, August 21, 2014
Ray’s take: A financial power of attorney is a powerful tool in your financial planning arsenal in the event your investments or other financial matters need action and you can’t do it.
51. Over 50 – Should You ‘Catch Up’?
- Thursday, August 14, 2014
Ray’s Take: If you’re age 50 or older, you can make extra “catch-up” contributions to certain types of tax-favored retirement accounts.
Is this something you should take advantage of? On the surface, it seems like a positive for your retirement account. But take a long honest look at why you are going to make those catch-up contributions and check your plan to make sure you qualify. There is a lot of information out there regarding these types of contributions, and you need to separate the good from the not so good.
52. How Much Should I Save for Retirement?
- Thursday, August 07, 2014
Ray’s take: Saving for retirement. It’s something we are all aware of and working on regularly. But how much do you need to save for retirement?
That is the quintessential question everyone asks. And the answer is not so clear. It depends. Truly.
53. What’s Your Investment Risk Profile?
- Thursday, July 31, 2014
Ray’s Take Risk. It’s something we are all involved in every day – sometimes consciously and sometimes not.
Just walking out the door of our homes and driving our cars involves a level of risk we don’t think about. We just assume we will arrive at our destination in good shape. There’s our daily subconscious risk.
54. Develop Interests Before Retirement
- Thursday, July 24, 2014
Ray’s take: Retirement success is not automatic. It takes planning – and not just financial planning. According to a study by University of Missouri – Columbia, couples should plan for retirement, both financially and socially, and consider the changes that may occur in their relationships and day-to-day activities.
55. Thoughts for 30-Somethings
- Thursday, July 17, 2014
Ray’s take: You spent your 20s setting up your life – developing some marketable skills, getting a career started, (hopefully) creating a budget, and learning to live with it.
56. Alternative Banking – Is It For You?
- Thursday, July 10, 2014
Ray's take: The world of banking is evolving. Over the past decade we’ve seen an increase in the number of online only, or alternative banks. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on whom you talk to about it.
57. Vacation Home – Is It Time to Buy?
- Thursday, July 03, 2014
Ray’s take: It’s summertime and the vacation season is upon us. Sometimes, it sounds wonderful to own a beach or mountain getaway. Many Americans share that same dream – a “summer place” to enjoy and perhaps pass down through the generations.
58. What to Do With a Windfall
- Thursday, June 26, 2014
Ray’s take: You’ve just received a pretty nice amount of cash. It could be a tax refund, a bonus or a surprise inheritance. What will you do with that extra money?
You may decide to pay down some debt or stash it away for an emergency. But somehow, that doesn’t feel like much fun.
59. Identity Theft and Social Media
- Thursday, June 19, 2014
Ray’s take: You just logged into your online banking and your account is empty. You go to apply for a loan and are told you don’t qualify due to overextended credit. You file your tax return only to discover it has already been filed and your refund check issued and cashed. These are some of the very real things that have happened due to identity theft.
60. Shouldering Health Care Costs
- Thursday, June 12, 2014
Ray’s Take: The employer health care benefits that began in the 1950s as a perk to lure top workers have become an industry standard that many of us take for granted. Now the pendulum seems to be swinging back the other way in the face of rising health care costs.
61. Homeownership: Still the American Dream?
- Thursday, June 05, 2014
Ray’s take: There was a time when owning a home was a key factor in achieving “The American Dream.”
That was when it was actually considered a home and not an investment. Sometime between the end of World War II and the 1990s, a home became a house. It was less about the place where you created memories and more about equity and resale value. Then it all came crashing down.
62. Discussing Family Finances with the Kids
- Thursday, May 29, 2014
Ray’s take: The March 2013 T. Rowe Price Annual Parents, Kids and Money Survey indicates that 73 percent of parents discuss money with their kids. This is good news! It’s an important part of a kid’s education to understand money and finances. Kids may not have to worry about mortgage payments just yet, but learning about money while they’re young can set them up to become financially responsible adults.
63. Your Life in Five Years
- Thursday, May 22, 2014
Ray’s take: A typical job interview question is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” So should you be asking yourself this question in general? Is a five-year plan a must to your fiscal future?
64. Debt: Prepay or Let It Ride?
- Thursday, May 15, 2014
Ray’s take: There was a time when debt was something to be proud of. It was the badge of progress and a good credit rating. 2008 made us all rethink the place of debt in our lives.
If you have debt, you should think carefully about keeping it or prepaying it.
65. Merging Financial Identities
- Thursday, May 08, 2014
Ray’s take: Americans are getting married later. The 2013 figures from the Office for National Statistics show the average age at which men get married is 31 years, while women are typically aged 29 years when they tie the knot.
66. Malone to Challenge Luttrell In August Mayoral Showdown
- Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Former Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone will challenge incumbent Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in the August county general election after winning the Tuesday, May 6, Democratic mayoral primary.
67. Paying for the College Dream
- Thursday, May 01, 2014
Ray’s Take: Education is one of the greatest gifts you can give, and the value is clearly calculable. It’s also something that deserves a serious conversation.
Per Sallie Mae’s article “How Americans Save for College 2014,” roughly 50 percent of families are saving for college. Of those not saving, 22 percent expect their children to obtain financial aid or scholarships to pay for college and 16 percent believe it is their children’s responsibility to pay. So should parents pay for college, or should the kids “have some skin in the game” and pay for part or all of it?
68. How Much of Your Net Worth is Yours?
- Thursday, April 24, 2014
Ray’s take: Net worth is defined as the single amount that represents how much a person would have if he or she sold all assets and paid off all debt. In other words: Assets - Liabilities = Net worth. Seems pretty straightforward. But that does not paint the total picture.
69. Understanding Job Change and Your 401(k)
- Friday, April 18, 2014
Ray’s take: A recent CareerBuilder survey shows that one in five workers said they plan to change jobs this year or next.
If you’re thinking of changing jobs, there are some very important things you need to consider regarding your 401(k). Making smart decisions now could save you thousands in employee matching funds, taxes and potential penalties.
70. Diversify to Help Your Taxability
- Thursday, April 10, 2014
Ray’s Take: Planning for the tax portion of your retirement can have an important impact on the longevity and quality of retirement savings. Various investment and savings instruments are taxed in different ways, so building a pool with different levels can help you with your taxes.
71. Invest Early For the Best Retirement
- Thursday, April 03, 2014
Ray’s Take The very best friend a young investor has is time. Someone who puts $4,000 per year into retirement accounts starting at age 22 could have $1 million by age 62, assuming an 8 percent average return. Waiting 10 years to start contributing means you would need to put in $8,800 per year to get the same results.
72. Time to Ignore Financial Predictions
- Thursday, March 27, 2014
Ray’s Take. Financial “experts” like to make predictions about what the markets, the economy and sundry other things financial will do in the months ahead. At the beginning of 2013, one well-known economist predicted 2013 would bring 50 percent unemployment alongside a 90 percent drop in the stock market. Thankfully, he was about as far off the mark as you can get. What’s in store for 2014?
73. Manage Your Credit, Not Your Credit Score
- Thursday, March 20, 2014
Ray’s Take You must have a great credit score to do anything these days, or so the lending industry would like for us to believe. Increase your score! Buy more stuff on credit!
It is important to have a good credit score, but not in the obsessive way that we are led to believe. When you give your credit score more importance than it actually holds, you can easily lose sight of much more important priorities like your ultimate financial independence by obtaining more and more credit to increase your credit score. It can be a vicious cycle.
74. What’s Your Retirement Status?
- Thursday, March 13, 2014
Ray’s Take: What are your thoughts about contributions to a 401(k), an IRA or any other tax-qualified investment vehicle? Are you thinking about the “right now” advantage of a tax break or are you thinking long term about what kind of life you would like to live in retirement?
75. Do You Feel Lucky?
- Thursday, March 06, 2014
Ray’s Take: When thinking about your future, do you believe that you will be taken “feet first in a pine box” out of the home you worked so hard for during your younger years? Or do you sometimes get that uncomfortable feeling that you need to “knock on wood” as you look around at friends or acquaintances who have experienced a sudden change in health forcing a change in venue?
76. Kids' College Versus Your Retirement
- Thursday, February 27, 2014
Ray’s Take: Most parents want to give their kids the best college education possible. At the same time, they know they must finance their own retirement. It’s hard to objectively prioritize, especially when your precious children are involved.
77. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August
- Friday, February 21, 2014
One of the six Shelby County Commission incumbents seeking re-election this year was effectively elected to a new four-year term in a new district with the noon Thursday, Feb. 20, filing deadline for candidates in the May county primaries.
78. Is That Big Move Going to Pay Off?
- Thursday, February 20, 2014
Ray’s Take You’re contemplating moving to another home – maybe even to another city or the country. The catalyst could be a job offer, school changes, the desire for more living space or to be near family. While your personal, family and career situation will be major factors in the final decision, don’t forget to consider the financial angle as well. There are more costs for a new home than the selling price alone.
79. Are Weddings Really Worth Huge Expense?
- Thursday, February 13, 2014
Ray’s Take I once heard it said that large cathedral weddings cost around $1,000 per step – and some churches have long aisles! According to TheKnot.com, U.S. couples spend an average of over $25,600 on their weddings. Of course, that’s the “average” amount. When you take the mean cost – the point where most weddings cluster – the cost is just over $18,000 – still a substantial sum.
80. College Housing Options Have Different Costs
- Thursday, February 06, 2014
Ray’s Take: As if college tuition – and books – weren’t expensive enough, there’s also the cost of housing for your college student. Unlike the other two, however, this is one area where you can possibly have a little control over how much money is spent.
81. Traveling is a Worthwhile Investment
- Thursday, January 30, 2014
Ray’s Take When you set your spending priorities, don’t forget to consider travel. Assuming your finances and budget are adequately on track, investing dollars in traveling can repay a host of personal dividends.
82. You Can Save Too Much for Retirement
- Thursday, January 23, 2014
Ray’s Take Around half of all workers older than 55 have less than $50,000 saved for retirement. We hear this message over and over along with warnings that many Americans may never be able to afford to quit working. Some respond by effectively giving up hope. Others keep saving, but live in constant anxiety that it probably won’t be enough. They may be fine and not even know it!
83. Dual-Income Families Come with Big Costs
- Thursday, January 16, 2014
Ray’s Take: DINKs (dual incomes, no kids) might not actually be bringing home as much additional gross income as they think. When kids enter the picture, it’s probably time to take a long and hard look at the pluses and minuses – financial and otherwise – of continuing to have both parents work outside the home.
84. Get Ready for 2014 Taxes Now
- Thursday, January 09, 2014
Ray’s Take: Some of us have already started gathering our records and receipts in preparation for completing our 2013 federal income tax forms. However, it’s not too soon to be thinking about 2014 taxes as well. Changes in the tax code – from bracket revisions to the 3.8 per cent investment tax – could have an impact on your withholding and tax bill a year from now.
85. Swear Off Spending That Causes Holiday Hangovers
- Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Ray’s Take: It was a great holiday. The decorations sparkled, the food was opulent, and the gifts were worthy of the best Santa Claus. However, in a tradition nearly as old as the holiday itself, now the mailbox is stuffed with bills and your bank account is depleted.
86. Does Your College Student Know Debt?
- Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Ray’s Take Too many of us are sending our kids to college with no understanding of how to handle – or better yet avoid – debt. A recent survey revealed that while 70 percent of undergrads had credit cards, fewer than 10 percent paid them off in full each month. Even worse, a mere 14 percent knew what their interest rate was!
87. Don’t Panic Over Scary Financial News
- Thursday, December 19, 2013
Ray’s Take If it’s not another country defaulting on their debts it’s political gridlock on economic issues here or ominous predictions about the Federal Reserve. The news seems to be featuring more than its share of scary economic news these days.
88. Don’t Lose Your Investment Balance
- Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Ray’s Take What’s the right portfolio balance for you? There are no stock answers (no pun intended). The makeup of your personal stock, bond and investment portfolio balance is as individual as your fingerprints. It depends on your age, the number of kids you have, your fixed and discretionary costs, your income, risk tolerance, your health, your spending habits, and much more – not to mention your specific financial goals.
89. What If You Need Money – Fast?
- Thursday, December 05, 2013
Ray’s Take Sometimes bad things happen. Despite careful financial planning you can simply hit something you’re not prepared for. The fact is no matter how well you plan for financial security, something outside of your control can happen and threaten your plan, your lifestyle, and potentially your solvency.
90. Americans Click for Deals on Cyber Monday
- Tuesday, December 03, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) – Power up and shop.
Millions of Americans took advantage of online deals ranging from free shipping to hundreds of dollars off electronics and half-price clothing Monday, which was expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year.
91. Impulse Buying Can Come at a High Price
- Thursday, November 28, 2013
Ray’s Take There’s a billion-dollar reason the racks of magazines, candy, and soft drinks are right by the checkout counters and at check-out on many a website. It’s called impulse buying, and it’s as bad for your budget as those candy bars are for your waistline.
92. How to Handle Your Child’s Financial Trouble
- Thursday, November 21, 2013
Ray’s Take You’ve finally reached the point where your children are grown and launched, and are looking forward to a secure retirement, or at least a slower financial headwind. Suddenly, catastrophe strikes one of your kids. Should you help, even if it could jeopardize your own future?
93. Go Homemade This Christmas
- Thursday, November 14, 2013
Ray’s Take Black Friday may be getting close, when the rush of holiday shopping begins in earnest, but I’m already seeing decorations up. You could do yourself, your wallet and your loved ones a big favor by skipping all the crowds, hassles and budget-busting store temptations by dedicating this season to a homemade Christmas.
94. Automate for Painless Saving
- Thursday, November 07, 2013
Ray’s Take Saving is hard. There are so many temptations when you have to make a conscious decision to put money aside each paycheck. For many, the money goes straight into a checking account, and then flows right out again to pay an endless stream of bills.
95. Plan Your Legacy
- Thursday, October 31, 2013
Ray’s Take Webster defines legacy as “something received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” Our personal legacy is what we are remembered for; the contributions we have made to our family, our community, and our world.
96. Could You Be Facing Disaster?
- Thursday, October 24, 2013
Ray’s Take Studies claim 70 percent of Americans are a mere three weeks from being unable to pay household bills – largely because they live paycheck-to-paycheck with little to no reserves to fall back on if anything out of the ordinary happens. This is not just at the lower income strata. It includes high earners too.
97. Talk to Your Parents About Their Future
- Thursday, October 17, 2013
Ray’s Take It’s a conversation no one wants to have; however, it’s important to have at least an idea of how financially prepared your parents are for their retirement. People are living longer – much longer – and the costs for senior care are soaring. Many older Americans saw a large portion of their nest egg disappear in the last recession.
98. Lessons of the Great Recession
- Thursday, October 10, 2013
Ray’s Take This last recession was a real wakeup call for everyone: once secure jobs evaporated, homes values were halved, retirement portfolios surrendered a decade’s worth of gains. It was a painful experience all around.
99. Don’t Leave Your Kids a Big Mess
- Thursday, October 03, 2013
Ray’s Take You may believe your financial records are fairly well organized. However, you could unwittingly be leaving your loved ones a big mess. No one likes to dwell on dying, but one day we’ll all “make the switch,” and a little planning can greatly ease the pain for those left behind.
100. Think Twice Before Picking Retirement Date
- Thursday, September 26, 2013
Ray’s Take “When I hit age 65, I’m out of here,” is a common enough observation. Global competition, increased governmental regulation and the speed of technological innovation have made working careers more unnerving than ever. That magical number “65” was selected a long time ago when life expectancies were a good bit shorter. We run our retirement models to at least age 95 now. Delaying retirement beyond that magical number of 65 for even a few years can make a significant difference in your financial security.