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Editorial Results (free)

1. Tax-Smart Investment Strategies -

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.

2. Retirement for the 'Sandwiched' -

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.

3. One Size Does Not Fit All -

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.

4. Save More Or Earn More? -

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.

5. IRA Rollover Changes for 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.

6. Save Time in Addition to Money -

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.

7. Financial Terms You Should Know -

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.

8. Money Management Principles -

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.

9. ‘Hidden’ Fees and Charges Add Up -

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.

10. End of The Year To-Do List -

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.

11. Roth Conversion, Should You Do It? -

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.

12. Reinventing Retirement -

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.

13. Required Minimum Distributions -

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.

14. Hackers and the Holidays -

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.

15. Estate Planning and State Taxes -

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.

16. Ask Your Parent the Difficult Questions -

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.

17. Financial Literacy Is a Must -

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!”

18. Charitable Giving a Win-Win -

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.”

19. A Gift That Can Give For A Lifetime -

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.

20. Choosing Your Own 401(k) Mix -

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.

21. Retirement: Savings-to-Income Ratio -

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.

22. Certified Financial Planner – One Big Thing -

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.

23. Target Date Mutual Funds – Should You Go With the Flow? -

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.

24. Seniors and Student Loan Co-Signatures – Should You? -

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.

25. Late Cuts, Pickups Reveal Titans’ Talent Shortfall -

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?

26. US Savings Bond – A Golden Oldie -

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.

27. Beneficiary Forms Trump Your Will -

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.”

28. Vols: Looks Like 6-6 Season -

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.

29. In Case of Incapacitation -

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.

30. Over 50 – Should You ‘Catch Up’? -

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.

31. How Much Should I Save for Retirement? -

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.

32. What’s Your Investment Risk Profile? -

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.

33. Develop Interests Before Retirement -

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.

34. Thoughts for 30-Somethings -

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.

35. Alternative Banking – Is It For You? -

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.

36. Vacation Home – Is It Time to Buy? -

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.

37. What to Do With a Windfall -

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.

38. Identity Theft and Social Media -

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.

39. Shouldering Health Care Costs -

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.

40. Homeownership: Still the American Dream? -

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.

41. Discussing Family Finances with the Kids -

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.

42. Your Life in Five Years -

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?

43. Debt: Prepay or Let It Ride? -

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.

44. Merging Financial Identities -

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.

45. Malone to Challenge Luttrell In August Mayoral Showdown -

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.

46. Paying for the College Dream -

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?

47. How Much of Your Net Worth is Yours? -

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.

48. Understanding Job Change and Your 401(k) -

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.

49. Diversify to Help Your Taxability -

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.

50. Invest Early For the Best Retirement -

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.

51. Time to Ignore Financial Predictions -

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?

52. Manage Your Credit, Not Your Credit Score -

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.

53. What’s Your Retirement Status? -

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?

54. Do You Feel Lucky? -

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?

55. Kids' College Versus Your Retirement -

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.

56. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August -

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.

57. Is That Big Move Going to Pay Off? -

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.

58. Are Weddings Really Worth Huge Expense? -

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.

59. College Housing Options Have Different Costs -

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.

60. Traveling is a Worthwhile Investment -

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.

61. You Can Save Too Much for Retirement -

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!

62. Dual-Income Families Come with Big Costs -

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.

63. Get Ready for 2014 Taxes Now -

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.

64. Swear Off Spending That Causes Holiday Hangovers -

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.

65. Does Your College Student Know Debt? -

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!

66. Don’t Panic Over Scary Financial News -

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.

67. Don’t Lose Your Investment Balance -

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.

68. What If You Need Money – Fast? -

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.

69. Americans Click for Deals on Cyber Monday -

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.

70. Impulse Buying Can Come at a High Price -

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.

71. How to Handle Your Child’s Financial Trouble -

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?

72. Go Homemade This Christmas -

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.

73. Automate for Painless Saving -

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.

74. Plan Your Legacy -

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.

75. Could You Be Facing Disaster? -

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.

76. Talk to Your Parents About Their Future -

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.

77. Lessons of the Great Recession -

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.

78. Don’t Leave Your Kids a Big Mess -

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.

79. Think Twice Before Picking Retirement Date -

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.

80. Be Aware of Your Company’s Finances -

Ray’s Take In the “good old days,” many individuals felt comfortable with a lifetime employment approach to their careers. Perhaps they might not become wealthy, but they felt their jobs and pensions were secure. They would then blithely go about their tasks without paying attention to what else was going on in their company. The world is very different now, and it is now essential to regularly scan the health of your career, the company you work for and its competitors.

81. De-Clutter for Cash and Control -

Ray’s Take Marketers are very good at persuading you to buy stuff. That’s why so many homes are literally stuffed so full that additional storage facilities have become a booming business. Instead of you controlling your stuff, it controls you.

82. Buying Used Can Save You Money – Most of the Time -

Ray’s Take: Too often as individuals consider ways to improve their financial situation they first look at the income side of the ledger; how to earn more money or increase their investment return. More often than not, we have much more control over the expense side of the ledger. You can save a lot of money buying some things used rather than new. However, you can also waste money that way, too. Doing your homework and knowing the worth of what you’re buying can make all the difference.

83. Bundle of Joy Can Cost You Bundle of Cash -

Ray’s Take I was asked once if two could live as cheaply as one. I answered, “Certainly, as long as one of them didn’t eat or wear clothes.” Most couples realize having a baby is going to mean extra expenses. However, many are shocked when they realize just how high those expenses are. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, a child born in 2011 will cost an average of $235,000 to raise to age 17. That number doesn’t include a penny for private tuition or college.

84. Your Budget May Need Revising -

Ray’s Take No one ever likes it when I use the “B” word, but there’s a reason I do it.

A budget helps you achieve your goals in life, whether they’re for a luxury vacation, the kids’ education, or retirement. Without one, you don’t really know where you are financially, much less where you are headed. You are out of control. There are a lot of smart, hard-working people scheming this very instant on how to separate you from your money. The best ones even make you think it was your idea!

85. Rich Doesn’t Mean Successful -

Ray’s Take Society tends to equate the possession of riches with a happy, successful life and the pursuit of riches as the best course to achieve success. That’s a rather limited definition, however, and reality doesn’t bear it out. Studies show that the 100 richest people in this country are only slightly more satisfied with their lives than the average person. As the saying goes, “money doesn’t buy happiness.”

86. Value Your Time -

Ray’s Take Time is one resource that can’t be reclaimed. While you can regain lost investments and recycle natural resources, once time has passed it is gone forever. In our youth, we trade it for money. As we get older we realize we can’t trade our money back for time. Unfortunately, people are inclined to regularly undervalue one of the scarcest assets around – time.

87. What Do Your Kids Know About Money? -

Ray’s Take A survey by T. Rowe Price revealed that 77 percent of parents lie to their kids about money-related issues. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 44 percent of Americans learned the most about handling money from their parents. The Council for Economic Education disclosed that just 14 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance.

88. Why Invest Anyway? -

Ray’s Take: There’s only two ways to earn money honestly. One is by working and the other is by investing so your assets work to make money for you. Unless you want to work forever or make so much money working you can’t spend it all, investing is the only way to be financially independent or achieve long-term goals like funding the kid’s college education or buying a vacation home.

89. Handling Long-Term Care Costs -

Ray’s Take The cost of long-term nursing home care is increasing at a dramatic pace. According to the latest Genworth Financial report, the median annual cost is now $83,950 and has risen 4.5 percent annually over the last five years.

90. Get Real About Selling Your Home -

Ray’s Take Selling your home is one of the biggest financial transactions you’ll probably make. It’s a time to stay cool and realistic. However, most of us have a big emotional investment in our homes alongside a significant financial one. You probably selected it because you loved it, were excited to move in and built special memories there.

91. Think Before Giving Money to Children -

Ray’s Take It’s natural to want to help out your adult kids or grandkids financially. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on your own financial situation as well as consider how any gifts could change your relationship with the recipients.

92. Should Kids Work? -

Ray’s Take Like it or not, eventually most kids are going to have to enter the workplace, so why not let them learn something about the “real world” while school is still their main focus? After all, learning to balance work and other pursuits is central to a successful life.

93. Investing In House To Sell -

Ray’s Take Finally and thankfully, the housing market seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Those years of drought actually created a pretty significant pent-up demand. However, homebuyers still expect more for their money. Exactly what that means varies: some want the biggest house possible and are willing to upgrade. Others want a move-in-ready home. The truth is even people willing to upgrade are more easily sold on a house that already looks great.

94. Learn From Insurance Investments -

Ray’s Take Insurance companies typically keep a relatively small amount of money in cash in order to pay claims, including a reserve to respond quickly to catastrophes. The rest of their funds they invest for the long term, focusing on options like corporate bonds and real estate holdings.

95. Take It From 30 Years of Experience -

Ray’s Take I started my career as a professional financial planner 30 years ago this month. Just as I do with my clients every year, I think it is important to review what has happened, what has worked and what has not, in order to improve.

96. Withdraw From Funds With Care -

Ray’s Take While you’re allowed to withdraw funds from your tax-qualified plans as early as age 59 1/2, many people delay making withdrawals until they have to, at age 70 1/2. There certainly can be advantages to deferring that tax liability those extra years if there are other assets available for retirement. However, if you fail to make required minimum withdrawals (RMDs) then, the penalties are substantial – a whopping 50 percent tax above the regular income tax.

97. Consider Retirement Funds Before Job Change -

Ray’s Take Job hopping, especially in the early years, is more common than ever. Careers are more evolutionary now, as the days of lifetime jobs seem long gone. However, a lot of retirement savings can wind up lost if care is not taken when changing jobs.

98. Talk About Money Before Taking Vows -

Ray’s Take You’re blissfully in love and happily engaged to your soul mate. The future looks idyllic. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your fiancé is your ideal financial mate. In fact, a study by professors from The Wharton School and Northwestern University revealed financial opposites tend to be attracted to each other, and those marriages often face significant challenges. With some honest and open discussion in advance, that doesn’t have to happen to you.

99. Wise Investors Know to Avoid Distractions -

Ray’s Take Hopefully you have a financial plan to guide you to your goals, whether they are college for the kids, a vacation home or a secure retirement. However, one of the key indicators as to whether you will be able to achieve those goals is your ability to avoid distractions from your plan.

100. Consider Norwegian Approach -

Ray’s Take Modern Portfolio Theory argues it’s essential to determine the right mix of investments for your portfolio so your level of risk tolerance is balanced with opportunities gained. A portfolio of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds has long been considered a standard.