Editorial Results (free)
1. 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?
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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!
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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!
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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?
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. Be Aware of Your Company’s Finances
- Thursday, September 19, 2013
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.
28. De-Clutter for Cash and Control
- Thursday, September 12, 2013
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.
29. Buying Used Can Save You Money – Most of the Time
- Thursday, September 05, 2013
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.
30. Bundle of Joy Can Cost You Bundle of Cash
- Thursday, August 29, 2013
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.
31. Your Budget May Need Revising
- Thursday, August 22, 2013
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!
32. Rich Doesn’t Mean Successful
- Thursday, August 15, 2013
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.”
33. Value Your Time
- Thursday, August 08, 2013
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.
34. What Do Your Kids Know About Money?
- Thursday, August 01, 2013
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.
35. Why Invest Anyway?
- Thursday, July 25, 2013
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.
36. Handling Long-Term Care Costs
- Thursday, July 18, 2013
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.
37. Get Real About Selling Your Home
- Thursday, July 11, 2013
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.
38. Think Before Giving Money to Children
- Thursday, July 04, 2013
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.
39. Should Kids Work?
- Thursday, June 27, 2013
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.
40. Investing In House To Sell
- Thursday, June 20, 2013
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.
41. Learn From Insurance Investments
- Thursday, June 13, 2013
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.
42. Take It From 30 Years of Experience
- Tuesday, June 04, 2013
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.
43. Withdraw From Funds With Care
- Monday, May 27, 2013
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.
44. Consider Retirement Funds Before Job Change
- Thursday, May 23, 2013
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.
45. Talk About Money Before Taking Vows
- Thursday, May 16, 2013
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.
46. Wise Investors Know to Avoid Distractions
- Thursday, May 09, 2013
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.
47. Consider Norwegian Approach
- Thursday, May 02, 2013
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.
48. Should You Delay Drawing Social Security?
- Thursday, April 25, 2013
Ray’s Take Persistent high unemployment and more than a decade of volatile stock markets have many people anxious to draw Social Security as early as possible even if they are shy of full retirement age. Some are so anxious about the system they want to get what they can before it goes bust. No one has a crystal ball, but more often than not, this is not the best plan.
49. Dream Home Nightmares
- Thursday, April 18, 2013
Ray’s Take As the real estate market recovers, more families are pulling out their dream home plans. They would be wise to watch that classic movie, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home.”
50. Take Time to Budget Your Vacation
- Thursday, April 11, 2013
Ray’s Take It’s that time when people start looking forward to summer vacations. Unfortunately, all too often, the aftermath of those vacations turns out to be more than just wonderful memories – a blown budget and burdensome debt.
51. Disconnecting Could Mean a Richer Life
- Thursday, April 04, 2013
Ray’s Take Every time you go out to lunch you see it: everyone’s smart phones are right there on the table, ready for texting, talking, checking emails, or some quick research. What happened to simply staying connected to the ones right there in front of you?
52. Are Foreclosures or Short Sales Worth It?
- Thursday, March 28, 2013
Ray’s Take This is in many ways a fantastic time to be looking for a new home. In addition to historically low mortgage rates, there are a lot of distressed properties on the market – homes for sale as foreclosures or short sells. There are plenty of bargains to be had, but also plenty of risks and financial pitfalls along the way.
53. Explore Alternatives to Banks
- Thursday, March 21, 2013
Ray’s Take In decades past you built a relationship with your bank and, more importantly, your banker. After so many mergers, that’s become harder to do. Generation low interest rates have banks piling up fees on their customers as well as limiting services It might be worthwhile to at least consider options other than the neighborhood brick-and-mortar bank.
54. Review Your Will Regularly
- Thursday, March 14, 2013
Ray’s Take Let’s assume you’ve done the right thing and have a will in place. That is a good start, but it’s not enough. You need to regularly review your will to make sure it stays in line with your intentions and the law. Congress continues to kick the can down the road on important income tax and transfer payments, but we now have pretty good guidance on estate tax laws both federally and in Tennessee.
55. Don’t Dwell on Market Downturn
- Thursday, March 07, 2013
Ray’s Take In my 30 years of investment management, I’ve found there is always someone predicting another market downturn. Eventually they’ll be right. After all, historically, there’s been a bear market about every three years. Should you be concerned? Not overly, unless your decisions make a market downturn even more painful.
56. Savings Isn’t Only Pillar of Successful Retirement
- Thursday, February 28, 2013
Ray’s Take I’m always emphasizing the importance of saving for retirement. However, you need more than a savings plan if you want to improve your odds for a more fulfilling “third act” of life. You also need to have a plan for what you actually want to do with your time.
57. Do You Need Life Insurance?
- Thursday, February 21, 2013
Ray’s Take For most people, life insurance decisions depend on two things: 1) whether anyone depends on your income to support their standard of living, and 2) whether you have enough other assets that could provide what is needed.
58. Is College Really Worth the Cost?
- Thursday, February 14, 2013
Ray’s Take The struggle recent graduates have had finding jobs has many people wondering if college is still worth the expense. According to some reports, it is. Consider this recent finding by the Lumina Foundation and Georgetown University’s Center on Education: The unemployment rate for college graduates is 6.8 percent, but it’s nearly 24 percent for those with only a high school diploma.
59. Reconsider Your W-4 Withholding
- Thursday, February 07, 2013
Ray’s Take It’s that time of year again. Your mailbox is receiving the annual tax form allotment. In addition to filing your income tax, take time to evaluate your withholding. It might be that you should adjust the deductions on your W-4 form to change the amount withheld from your paychecks.
60. Count On Rising Health Care Costs
- Thursday, January 31, 2013
Ray’s Take Think you have your retirement plan figured out? Here’s a sobering report: Fidelity Investments recently predicted that a 65-year-old couple that retired in 2012 would pay $240,000 for health care over the remainder of their lives. Those are expenses in addition to costs covered by Medicare under existing legislation, which could change.
61. You Can Still Save for Retirement
- Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ray’s Take It may feel as if those gray hairs are multiplying faster than your 401(k). Or maybe your career or other life experience has thrown you curve balls that ate through your savings. Either way, it’s not too late to save for a more comfortable future!
62. Factor Inflation in Your Retirement
- Thursday, January 17, 2013
Ray’s Take Did you realize that just a 2 percent annual inflation rate would result in 27 percent higher prices in a mere 12 years? If inflation were at 3 percent during that time period, prices would soar 43 percent. Three percent is the historic average inflation rate, but it has been much much higher at times. We have all been lulled into complacency in recent years with historically low inflation rates.
63. Set Goals to Make Saving Easier
- Thursday, January 10, 2013
Ray’s Take I’m always emphasizing the importance of saving. However, saving without specific goals in mind with their time horizons is extremely hard to do. There are just too many distractions in this world – too many well-trained marketers with different agendas. Goal setting is an essential step in the planning process. It’s the primary motivating factor. After all, if you haven’t identified any goals, what’s driving you to save? Just as important, how do you know when you’ve saved enough?
64. True Cost of Vacation Homes
- Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Ray’s Take You’re on vacation with your family. Everyone is relaxed and having a great time, so you think: Why don’t we quit “renting” our vacation and buy a vacation home here? What could be better than having a place to build family memories for years?
65. Tight Credit is Your Friend
- Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Ray’s Take Credit is tighter than it used to be. Loans are harder to come by. That’s good news as far as I’m concerned. Many people are still longing for those “glory days” when credit was easy for anything we wanted. Well, they didn’t end well for most people.
66. Consider a Revocable Living Trust
- Thursday, December 20, 2012
Ray’s Take The main advantage touted for having a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) is to avoid probate, but its strengths go far beyond that.
An RLT is a legal document created by an individual to hold all or part of his or her assets. Typically the owner of these assets is also the Trustee, retaining complete control over how these assets are handled and along with the having ability to make changes to the Trust as needed. Trust directives can even extend beyond the grave.
67. Invest in Your Career
- Thursday, December 13, 2012
Ray’s Take The days of lifetime employment until retirement are gone for good – just like that traditional gold watch. Today, companies merge and splinter or boom and bust constantly. It’s no longer enough to be well prepared at the start of your career with a good education, you have to keep up your skills to remain valuable.
68. Is Going Green Worth It?
- Thursday, December 06, 2012
Ray’s Take No matter what your position on global warming, going green and using fewer natural resources still makes sense. Why not preserve as much quality of the air, water, and earth as possible for our grandchildren? It’s another form of saving for the future. Plus, a lot of times it can save you money as well.
69. It Might Be Time to Refinance … Again
- Monday, November 26, 2012
Ray’s Take Here’s a surprising fact: the average American homeowner refinances their mortgage every four years.
Right now might be a good time to do just that, even if it feels like you just did it. We have some of the lowest mortgage interest rates of the past 50 years or so. Consider pulling out the calculator to determine how much refinancing your home could save you each month as well as over time.
70. Is Your Pension Plan Safe?
- Thursday, November 22, 2012
Ray’s Take While most companies have abandoned pension plans for 401(k) programs, there are still countless employees counting on their pension plan to fund their retirement years. The question is: Will that pension plan still be around when the time comes?
71. Think Twice to Stop Impulse Buying
- Thursday, November 15, 2012
Ray’s Take We all know that impulse spending can put you in massive debt and destroy your chances of reaching other financial goals. However, we still do it. It’s easy to say, “Think of your long-term financial plan” when confronted with temptation, but that’s not always easy to do.
72. Consider a Family Limited Partnership
- Thursday, November 08, 2012
Ray’s Take A Family Limited Partnership (FLP) can not only be a good idea for reducing estate taxes, it can also bring a number of other advantages.
73. Splitting Bills Without Splitting Hairs
- Thursday, November 01, 2012
Ray’s Take If anyone in your household has a problem with how bill paying is divided, it’s a problem for everyone. Resentments that build up over finances have a way of poisoning other aspects of a relationship. If you’re both willing to compromise and aware of your emotional responses to money, you should be able to work it out.
74. You Better Care About Global Economy
- Thursday, October 25, 2012
Ray’s Take Most people tend to think provincially. We see and weigh what is closer to us more heavily than things and events that are further away. Americans in particular have long believed that what happens to the economies outside our borders doesn’t really affect us. The euro may be threatened and certain countries facing default, but we tend to believe that our economy is so massive and insulated that it won’t really bother us.
75. Think Twice Before Pre-Paying A Mortgage
- Thursday, October 18, 2012
Ray’s Take With savings interest about nil and the stock market still volatile, a lot of people are wondering about paying off their mortgage early. For some, this may be a good idea, as we have all discovered a healthy respect for debt, but for other homeowners, there may be better options for extra cash.
76. Are You Recession Proof?
- Thursday, October 11, 2012
Ray’s Take People make all kinds of predictions about the economy and someone is bound to be right, for good or for bad. If those predicting another recession actually get it right, are you prepared to ride it out?
77. Does Your Net Worth Really Matter?
- Thursday, October 04, 2012
Ray’s Take Do you know your net worth? Mathematically it’s the dollar amount by which your assets exceed your liabilities. It can be a nice number to know and it’s important to keep tabs on it. However, it’s not all that important in and of itself. What is important is how closely you are on track to reaching your long-term financial goals.
78. Discover How Different Paying in Cash Feels
- Thursday, September 27, 2012
Ray’s Take Credit cards make shopping so easy. A simple swipe, one signature and you’re done. Then 30 days later the bill comes due and you wonder how you managed to spend all that money.
79. Don’t Buy Into TV Financial Programs
- Thursday, September 20, 2012
Ray’s Take Programs offering insider investment tips and advice on financial strategy abound on television. You might occasionally learn a valuable nugget to apply to your own unique financial needs, but a study by Case Western Reserve University showed that investors who followed televised recommendations actually lost money over the six months following.
80. High Credit Scores Not How You Win
- Thursday, September 13, 2012
Ray’s Take What’s your credit score? I say, “Who cares!“ A great credit score simply means you have successfully borrowed and repaid a lot of money. Which in turn means you are great at loading on debt. That’s not exactly a goal to aspire to.
81. Smart Investing Made Hard
- Thursday, September 06, 2012
Ray’s Take As if the complexities of stocks, bonds, and other investment options weren’t challenging enough, our own bodies can push us into poor financial decisions. The study of neuroeconomics – a discipline that encompasses economics, biology, and psychology – has determined that our brains simply aren’t hard-wired to make rational decisions involving risk. And, investing is all about risk management in one form or another.
82. Homemade Wills Can Cause Woes
- Thursday, August 30, 2012
Ray’s Take The Internet is loaded with do-it-yourself will instructions and fill-in-the-blank documents. I do not recommend using any of them. Not only is there no assurance there aren’t errors in the document you may select, they may well lead to greater problems for the very people you had intended to help.
83. Finding Relief From High Energy Bills
- Thursday, August 23, 2012
Ray’s Take We just got hit with a whopper of a utility bill and I’m sure we’re not alone. With hotter summers to come and rising energy costs, I don’t expect things to improve. Like many, we’re setting our thermostat a bit higher and using its programmable features. However, these are passive measures. We’ve recently taken a step that will eventually let us actively control what we pay for energy.
84. Squelch Those Money Squabbles
- Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Ray’s Take Disagreements over money can literally tear families apart – it’s the No. 1 reason for divorce. One reason financial matters give rise to so much conflict is that only one person typically takes on family money management responsibilities. This easily leads to the other partner becoming financially oblivious and that imbalance can lead to problems.
85. Sign Up for Your Co.’s 401(k) Plan
- Thursday, August 09, 2012
Ray’s Take The most important thing to know about 401(k) retirement savings accounts is pretty simple: Do it, and participate to the maximum you possibly can. Don’t wait and don’t quit.
86. Entertainment Costs Are Not Amusing
- Thursday, August 02, 2012
Ray’s Take If a family of four goes out for an evening at the movies, admission alone runs about $34, and you can add almost 24 percent more if it’s a 3D movie. All that’s before the sticker shock of the refreshment counter. Two hours later, it’s all over and you go home about $50 poorer. That’s a lot of money for a brief experience. Yet, even as families struggle through the recession, the average amount of money spent on entertainment admissions (along with video games and gambling) has increased 18 percent since 2000.
87. Financial Records: Shred Or Keep?
- Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ray’s Take Many people save all their financial records, quickly accumulating boxes and boxes of paper, and then find it nearly impossible to locate the one piece of information they need. My mom recently helped a friend move out of her home of 50 years, and found that she kept canceled checks for utility bills that dated back to the 1960s! She was afraid to get rid of them, thinking she might need them someday. I think there are a lot of files and boxes of financial records out there.
88. You Are Not Warren Buffet
- Thursday, July 19, 2012
Ray’s Take There’s no doubt Warren Buffet is an investment genius. He’s truly one of a kind. Still, the Internet is loaded with websites insisting you can invest – and excel – just like Warren Buffet.
89. Where Do Retirement Dollars Go Further?
- Thursday, July 12, 2012
Ray’s Take There are many things to consider when selecting a place to spend your retirement years, or as I prefer to call them, your financial independence years. Not the least is selecting a place where your financial resources have the best odds of achieving your goals. State policies on property, income, sales, and estate taxes have a large bearing on this. However, the right combination for each retiree is different.
90. Credit Card Companies Want You in Debt
- Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Ray’s Take The very last thing a credit card company wants is a customer who carefully pays their balance in full and on time and avoids having to pay any of their interest and small print penalties and fees. The companies that issue credit cards usually have the words “for profit” in their charters, and they want you in debt – the deeper the better. They certainly are successful at keeping us that way: the average American family carries some $8,000 in credit card debt, and they’re paying some of the highest interest rates that legally exist.
91. Think Twice Before Getting Reverse Mortgage
- Thursday, June 28, 2012
Ray’s Take Anytime you see celebrities promoting a financial product on television, it should give you pause. The past few years everyone from James Garner to the Fonz has hyped the advantages of a reverse mortgage, so take warning.
92. Be Careful With Charitable Giving
- Thursday, June 21, 2012
Ray’s Take Charities are facing increasing demand and costs and more cautious donors given the uncertain economy. They look to individuals for more than 80 percent of their funding. Many believe that “giving back,” if they can afford to and are meeting their other responsibilities, is part of being a good citizen. However, it is important to do basic due diligence so your donations are effective.
93. Not All Home Improvements Equally Wise
- Thursday, June 14, 2012
Ray’s Take As the housing market has cooled, the frequency of home renovations and upgrades has grown. While there is certainly nothing wrong with making improvements you can afford that will enhance your life, don’t expect them to add to the value or even the salability of your home in the future.
94. You Could Soon Determine Health Insurance Costs
- Thursday, June 07, 2012
Ray’s Take A generation ago, corporations pushed the responsibility for retirement planning onto employees by dropping pensions in favor of 401(k)s. While the jury is still out on how this is working, it looks like the next frontier may be health care.
95. Consider Buying Your First Home
- Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ray’s Take I’ve long believed the economic benefits of home ownership are overrated and renting is under-appreciated. However, for some first-time homebuyers the math has started to turn and they may find it less expensive to buy a home than rent!
96. Keep Emotions Out of Your Investments
- Thursday, May 24, 2012
Ray’s Take It’s pretty much impossible to completely suppress your emotions when making financial and investment decisions. Even though you can’t be completely cold blooded, it is important to develop a discipline to control your emotions as much as possible.
97. Teach Kids To Save
- Thursday, May 17, 2012
Ray’s Take Teaching kids the value of saving money is a tough sell. They are usually anxious to spend any cash they get, often on the first thing they see. Not only are you encouraging them to save, you also have to teach them to rein in impulse spending.
98. Should Teens Have Credit Cards?
- Thursday, May 10, 2012
Ray’s Take While I don’t like debt – especially credit card debt – I do realize that credit cards are a necessary tool today. This means part of raising your kids to be responsible adults requires teaching them how to use credit cards the right way; by teaching them to control their spending and pay off their credit card each month, on time and in full. I have seen an extraordinary amount of pain and suffering result from a lack of understanding of credit cards.
99. Eat Local For Health, Economy
- Thursday, May 03, 2012
Ray’s Take It’s the time of year when local farmers’ markets start to crop up. Patronizing these markets – along with other sources for locally grown food – can be beneficial to your health and taste buds, your family culture, and even have a positive impact on our local economy.
100. All-Inclusive Trips Help You Relax
- Thursday, April 26, 2012
Ray’s Take We recently returned from a family vacation at an all-inclusive resort. It’s the fourth time we’ve done for many good reasons. As the person whose wallet usually gets the biggest workout on family trips – opening it up repeatedly for meals, snacks, beverages, activities, and more – I really appreciate the value of an all-inclusive resort, but there other advantages, as well.