Budgets and Planning

When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees.

Is Your Credit Card Safe This Holiday Season?

Every year now seems to be the “Year of the Data Breach.” In the past, we’ve seen massive breaches at Target (110 million customer records hacked), Neiman Marcus (1.1 customers compromised), Michaels (3 million customers compromised), Home Depot (as many as 56 million cards compromised) and many others, including smaller retailers. As you gear up […]

Ten Ways to Save at Christmas Without Looking Like a Cheapskate

You don’t need to check your January credit card statements to know that Christmas always has a way of wreaking havoc on your finances. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans on spending $992 on Christmas gifts alone in 2018. That doesn’t even include holiday decorations, ugly sweaters, and all the food […]

Three Credit Card Tricks to Help During the Holidays

Want to hear the most obvious statement in the universe? Credit card companies want you to sign up for their credit cards. Yep, we said it was obvious. In fact, credit card companies want your business so bad, that they are often willing to shell out some nice rewards right out of the gate in […]

Five Ways to Make Some Extra Cash During the Holiday Season

The holidays aren’t cheap, especially if you love buying lots of gifts for your kiddos and extended family or if you plan on traveling. Additionally, if your goal is to start the New Year on more solid financial footing, making a few extra bucks in the last months of the year can help you pay […]

Buying a Home is Way More Expensive Than You Think. Can You Really Afford it?

Buying a home is a huge life accomplishment. It symbolizes success, security, and maturity. It can also serve as an important asset that grows in value over time. As the earliest millennials hit their 30s, start climbing the career ladder, and walk down the aisle, a whole new generation is beginning to dream of home […]

Five Reasons Millennials Are Struggling to Get Ahead

It’s Not the Avocado Toast Hating on the millennial generation has become a favorite pastime of many social commentators. We are vain. We are delicate little snowflakes. We want to save the world but are too busy taking selfies. We would rather stuff ourselves with insanely expensive avocado toast than actually save for retirement. Now, […]

Five Reasons to Take Out a Personal Loan

You’ve heard of home loans, car loans, and student loans, but what if you need money to pay for other big expenses in your life? For everything else, you may be able to qualify for what is known as a “Personal Loan.” These are typically unsecured loans that you can apply for with certain online […]

How Your Credit Score Is Determined

For something so important, it’s amazing how many women don’t know how their credit score is calculated. Your credit score could be the thing standing between you and that mortgage loan you need to buy your first home. It might tip the scale for or against you when you apply for your dream job. It […]

It’s Time to Change Your Money Habits

Here’s How to Do It Are you living from paycheck to paycheck? Do you hate the way your credit card debt keeps creeping up? Do you dream of buying your own home or a new car but don’t think you’ll ever have enough money? There are no magical solutions to suddenly getting out of debt, […]

Financial New Year’s Resolutions

This year, resolve to have a more prosperous new year by creating good financial habits that will last a lifetime. Good financial habits are truly a gift to yourself that keeps on giving — and they are much more fun than vowing not to eat another piece of chocolate cake! I Will Monitor My Spending […]

Seven Tips to Help You Afford the Holidays

The holiday season is fast approaching. Just as it’s easy to overeat during the holidays, it’s easy to overspend, especially if you buy on credit. Research shows that people spend about 15 percent more on purchases paid with a credit card. (So easy when you can just swipe and forget about a purchase.) To help […]

Finance 101 for New Graduates

Graduation is a time for new beginnings. As you join the world of work, realize that you have a tremendous power to shape your financial future.  That’s because you hold the greatest of all assets—time!  The ability to set goals and know what needs to be done to reach them begins the exciting journey toward […]

Congratulations, You’re Pregnant! Here Are the First Five Money Moves New Moms Need to Make

Wow, you are going to be a mother! How exciting, and perhaps slightly terrifying. If you’ve talked to other new parents, then you know that the miracle of life also has a way of turning into the miracle of the disappearing paycheck. Babies are wonderful…and expensive. That’s why it is so important to plan now, […]

Spring Clean Your Budget in Five Easy Steps

Isn’t it amazing how you’ll spend an entire back-breaking day cleaning your garage every few years and promise yourself that you’ll never, ever let it revert back into the cluttered mess that it was? Then, come next spring, your beautiful, spic-and-span garage has somehow de-evolved once again into something that looks suspiciously like a landfill. […]

Here’s the Worst Credit Mistake You Can Make

I have a friend, and I’m completely jealous of him. Financially jealous, that is. You’ll probably be jealous of him too. This is a guy who made it through college and grad school without a cent of debt through a combination of scholarships, working, and some support from his parents. Now, only in his late […]

Are You Ready to Finally Start Your Emergency Savings Fund? Take the 21-Day Savings Makeover

If you got a bill for $387.81 right now, could you pay it off without using your credit cards, begging family members, or taking out a payday loan with a huge interest rate? It just so happens that $387.81 is the average cost of a car repair when the check engine light comes on. If […]

Eight Big, Game-Changing Ideas to Finally Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt This Year – Part Two

If you thought we proposed some pretty big ideas to pay off your credit card debt this year in part one of this series, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We’ve saved our biggest, boldest, and most serious ideas for this article. If you’ve got thousands of dollars in credit card debt to pay down, you […]

Eight Big, Game-Changing Ideas to Finally Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt This Year – Part One

You’ve got credit card debt, and you hate it! Maybe a snapped timing belt in your car (and the huge bill that followed) sent you into a credit card spiral, or you lost your job, or you simply have a habit of swiping now and worrying about the consequences later. Whatever the reason, your credit […]

How to Afford the Education You Need After a Divorce

After a divorce, your financial life is likely going to take a big hit. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, men will, on average, see a 23% reduction in their household income. Unsurprisingly, that number is much higher for women. They will see an average drop of 41% in household income after […]

The Age-Old Question – Should You Rent or Buy a Home?

In your life, you’ve had to face some difficult questions. Do you take the job you love but that pays a pittance or the dull job with the juicy paycheck? Do you marry the boring guy you’ve been dating for three years or cut him loose in the hope of finding your Prince Charming? Do […]

Does It Ever Make Sense to Invest When You’re in Debt?

Being in debt feels kind of icky, doesn’t it? It itches in the back of your mind, constantly reminding you that you’re on the hook. You probably dream of the day when you can make that last payment on your mortgage, your car loan, your student loans, or your credit cards, but should you really […]

Can You Really Afford a New Pet?

Pets bring their humans companionship, love, and lots of joy…but they also bring costs. That monster-sized bag of dog kibble isn’t going to buy itself, and that trendy new cat condo doesn’t exactly grow on trees. Adopting a new pet is a financial decision — and one that will impact your budget for the length […]

Never Pay Interest on a Credit Card Again – Credit Card Balance Transfers

Life happens, and life can be expensive. Maybe the radiator of your car blew out and you suddenly find yourself handing over your credit card to cover a $2,000 mechanic bill. Or you have to suddenly fly across the country for a week to take care of a sick parent. Or, perhaps you lost your […]

Can a Couple with 13 Kids Really Pay Off Their Seven-Bedroom House, Live Debt-Free, and Retire Early?

If you either want to feel extremely inspired or extremely terrible about your own financial habits, head on over to the Washington Post and read the story of the Fatzinger family. Rob and Sam Fatzinger are devout Catholics with thirteen children. Sam is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her children. Rob, a software tester, earns […]

Are You Spending Too Much Time Trying to Save Money?

Trying to save money on the things you already buy or want to buy is a smart idea, especially considering that according to NerdWallet.com, the average household with credit card debt is carrying $15,310 on its cards. Ouch! Sure, every penny you save counts, but there are smart ways to save and then there are […]

It’s Time to Start Saving for the Holidays

Hear those sleigh bells ringing? Nope, neither do we, and that’s the point! The holidays may feel like a long way off, but that’s exactly why you should start saving for them right now. Every year, the vast majority of us refuse to remember how expensive the holidays are until right around November when we look […]

Do You Need an Asset Protection Plan?

Think about all of the things that you own, from every dollar sitting in your retirement account, to the home you just bought, or the business that you’ve slowly grown into a successful enterprise over the last ten years. Now, think about how much time, effort, blood, and sweat went into earning the money in […]

Should You Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance?

If your grandmother was born in the year 1900, her life expectancy wasn’t much higher than 50, according to the National Institute on Aging. However, if you are 65 years old today, the Social Security Administration predicts that you will be able to blow the candles out on your 86th birthday cake if you are […]

Should You Refinance to Remodel Your Home?

Have you been dreaming of remodeling your cramped and outdated kitchen forever? The cost of even a small remodel can quickly reach five digits, and it isn’t uncommon for larger remodels, especially whole home remodels, to reach six or even seven digits in price. Most of us don’t have $10,000 just sitting around, much less […]

How Much Did a House Cost Ten Years Ago?

What were you up to in 2005? Maybe you spent your days humming the new Brittney Spears song Poison, standing in line to grab a ticket to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or checking out an odd new video website called YouTube. In 2005 George W. Bush started his second term in office, […]

Five Easy Steps to Budget and Save Like a Financial Wizard on a Fluctuating Income

Working for yourself or on commission has a lot of upsides. You might get to work in your comfy flannel PJs, or perhaps your job allows you to spend more time with your kids or earn more than you ever could staring at a cubicle all day. Of course, self-employment or the sales life isn’t […]

Take a Deep Breath – It’s Time to Talk About Saving for Your Child’s College Costs

College. That single word can lift a parent’s spirits and send an icy jolt of fear down their spine at the same time. A college education can play a huge role in a child’s chance for career and financial success, but the price tag can be breathtaking (and not in a good way). According to […]

Top Ten Low-Cost Tips for Cleaning and Changing Your Home After Divorce

If you are coming out of a rough divorce, then spring cleaning is the perfect time to physically and metaphorically scrub away all the lingering bad memories of your marriage. Rooms, objects, and even décor all have the ability to absorb meaning, emotions, and memories. Walking into your bedroom may remind you of the fights […]

Who’s Paying For College? Part Three: Finding a Middle Ground for College Costs

College…it’s expensive. No, really expensive. The sticker price even for an in-state public school can still reach $24,000 a year or more according to CollegeData.com! The question of how to pay for a child’s higher education or even if you should is one that every parent must face. In the previous two articles in this […]

Do You Know Your Net Worth…And Does It Matter?

How to Compute Your Net Worth You may have heard someone at a party brag about their “net worth” (usually after a few drinks). At its most basic level, a person’s net worth is simply the amount of their assets (the things they own) minus their liabilities (how much they owe). The fair value of […]

I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Your…Credit Report

Why You Must Have the Money Conversation Before Marriage If you are in a serious relationship, you probably know your partner’s favorite color, his dream car, and at least a few embarrassing stories from his childhood. But do you know his credit score? If not, then you don’t really know your partner at all, and […]

Four Tips to Slay the Monster Cost of College

A college education is almost a requirement these days in order to break into most well-paying jobs (unless your child is itching to start the next great tech company). However, the cost is steep! According to Collegedata.com, the average cost for a public, in-state college was $23,410 for the 2014-2015 year and $46,272 for a […]

The Growing of the Green

If this March finds you wondering where to get a little more of the green stuff to cover life’s expenses, you’re not alone. Stories of rising prices and falling income fill the news—as if we hadn’t noticed.

Six Savvy Tips to Spend Less and Save Smart

Who doesn’t want to increase their savings so they can afford a great vacation each year or retire in style at age 55? Here’s a tip: Savings are directly tied to spending. The less you spend, the more you can save. If your spending is out of control, here are six more savvy tips to […]

Get Your Financial Life In Order This Year

Is your financial life a little out of shape? Do you want to make it strong, fit, and healthy in the next year?  This type of makeover doesn’t happen overnight, but you can get started right away. Think of improving your financial life as a staircase with many flights. You can’t leap to the top […]

Here are Five Big-Ticket Items You Shouldn’t Buy During the Holidays.

Think You Get The Best Deals During The Holidays? Think Again! It’s holiday season, a time of carols, decorations, and cut-rate deals. Black Friday is infamous for the deep discounts retailers are willing to offer to entice holiday shoppers through their doors. These deals may be tempting, but savvy shoppers can save even more on […]

OMG, I’m Rich! Now What?

Five tips on how to save and play responsibly with your newfound wealth Have you just landed a big windfall? Maybe you’ve received an inheritance, gotten a bonus at work, sold your business, or won a lawsuit. Congratulations on this infusion of cash. You now have the means to create more financial stability in your […]

Seven Simple Secrets to Transform Your Financial Life

Put down the lottery tickets! You don’t have to pray to the God of Powerball or wish on a shooting star to improve your financial life. You have the power to turn your finances around and sail into retirement on a metaphoric yacht of financial stability. Change your habits and change your financial life with […]

Estate Planning, Especially for Women

Everyone who’ll be leaving this world needs an estate plan, and they probably need financial planning while they are here. Women in particular should pay attention to this crucial and life-affirming process. Regardless of marital status or net worth, women need to make decisions and arrangements today in order to protect themselves, their husbands or […]

Holiday Shopping Tips to Keep You from Breaking the Bank

Here are some smart planning tips courtesy of Bills.com that can help you save $500 or more before the holidays. Budget Before employing any other savings tactics, create a holiday budget. Calculate the amount available to spend on holiday festivities, including gifts, cards, postage, decorations, entertaining, tips and travel costs. Break up with the barista  Breaking […]

What To Do If You Are Laid Off

With unemployment still a problem in many locales and occupations, many people fear the possibility of being laid off. Here are some tips for coping with that prospect, courtesy of Ethan Ewing, president of free online consumer portal Bills.com. Negotiate well. If you are laid off, negotiate for a layoff package just as you would for a […]

To Lease Or Not To Lease, That Is The Question

If you are in the market for a new car, you may have been tempted by the low monthly payments featured in the advertisements for leasing arrangements. With a lease, you can expect to make little or no down payment and make lower monthly payments. At the end of the lease period, you don’t have […]

Get Off the Credit Card Roller Coaster

Remember your New Year’s resolution? Not the one about losing weight, the one about finances. You resolved to save more this year and only use your credit cards in an emergency. Then your favorite department store had that great half-price sale and your resolve disappeared. You are in good company. The American Banker’s Association says […]

Mortgage Insurance

Dear Dollar Stretcher, My husband and I bought a house 18 months ago. We went in with less than 20% down, and so are stuck paying mortgage insurance to the tune of over $80 per month. What exactly is mortgage insurance for, and is it possible for us to “cancel” our mortgage insurance by showing […]

Bartering Clubs

Hi Gary, I just read an article on joining a bartering club in order to barter for bargains. The fee to join the club is $350. Is it worth it and are there other clubs available with lower membership fees? — Donna Even though we might not think of it, almost everyone is part of […]

The Ten Secrets To Attracting Money

Are there really secrets to attracting and saving money that most people don’t know? Probably not. When you get right down to it, most money management concepts are centuries old. But, sometimes it’s worth our while to refresh our memory of what we already know to be true. So with that in mind, here are […]

The Dollar Stretcher

Dear Dollar Stretcher My husband and I aren’t quite sure which way to go to conserve on our heating bills. We have steam radiators in our old Victorian house and just replaced the boiler. The old one was over 60 years old and very inefficient. We have a programmable digital thermostat. Does it make more […]

A Five-Step Blueprint for Growing Your Money

Mutual funds are supposed to make inventing easy, but picking and managing mutual funds is bewildering for most novice investors. Fortunately, you don’t have to know a great deal about investments to make money in mutual funds. All you need is a reasonable knowledge of your own financial situation and goals, and some basic guidelines […]

The Utility Scam and Three Days to Cool Off

The Utility Scam A member tells us that she was recently contacted by a utility company about an overdue electric bill. Her estranged husband had agreed to pay the utility bills, and she was surprised to learn that he had not. The caller threatened immediate disconnection and pressured her to send a check right away, […]

Starting Your New Business the Right Way

If you decide to start your own business, you will need an idea, a plan, and financial backing. Your business is unlikely to succeed without all three, and while most people who go into business start with an idea, most businesses that fail do so because they were undertaken without enough financing to sustain them […]

Maybe There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Here’s something that is more promising than a lottery ticket – an unclaimed property that may be waiting for you. And now it’s easier than ever to find that property using the Internet. Unclaimed property comes in many varieties. Perhaps it’s a savings or checking account you’ve forgotten about. Or it could be an uncashed […]

Four Smart Ways To Save Money On Health Care

Health care has been on Congress’s menu lately, from prescription drugs for Medicare recipients to HMO legislation. But regardless of what Congress decides to do, there are four steps that you can take right now to protect yourself from the high costs of health care. Step one: Become an educated consumer. Remember that you are […]

25 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke

Excerpted from the booklet “150 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke“ Divorce is the largest single financial transaction of most people’s lives, raising important questions that demand immediate answers. Here are some helpful tips on every aspect of divorce, including: before the divorce, gathering records, alimony, tax returns, navigating the divorce, accumulating cash, hiring an […]

Signs of a Healthy Approach Toward Money

Your financial future is up to you. No matter what your past financial history has been, you can begin today to build a solid financial foundation. With a healthy approach toward money you can cultivate sound financial management. How many of these traits do you have? You feel in control of money rather than being […]

Your Relationship with Money

Writing your money history can be helpful in identifying which money issues from your past were most important to shaping your attitudes today. Use these questions to begin exploring your relationship with money. Take one page and don’t worry about making it perfect. Write what you think and feel and get it down on paper […]

Your Money Style Quiz

Printer Friendly Format 1. You lucky devil! Upon arriving in Las Vegas for a week-long vacation, you win $1,000 on your first bet. What do you do? a. Wire the money to your tax-free bond fund immediately and stick to your pre-arranged spending plan for the rest of the trip. b. Put it all on […]

How Much Money Does it Take to Change Your Life?

Is more money what you need to change your life or add value to your lifestyle? Will an increase in your net worth have a big impact on your life-or not? Are you willing to take risks to improve your financial picture? Or is it most important for you to minimize the risk of losing […]

Five Financial Fixes for Tough Times

1. When the surf’s up, ride the waves. Dramatic fluctuations in the stock market allow you to “buy the dips”. With stock prices so volatile, prices may be down next payday when you contribute to your 401(k) plan. This means that you’ll be getting more shares for your money. Let’s say that you contribute $500 […]

How Do You Really Feel About Money?

How we feel about money-whether fearful and constricted or open and generous-greatly affects how we approach our financial lives. Use this exercise to identify your money attitudes and develop a positive approach toward your financial life. Circle the words that best describe your feelings about money and finances at the moment. Circle as many as […]

Facing Your Money Fears

Let’s clean out the old subconscious, shall we? People hang onto their money fears long after the danger has passed, and they worry about things that will never, ever come to pass. How much of what you worry about actually happens? For this one, you’ll need some paper and a timer. Set the timer for 15 […]

“If Only I Had More Money…”

“If Only I Had More Money….I could _______ (fill in the blank).” It’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly can help you live the life of your dreams. You don’t fancy investment strategies to become financially secure, and you don’t need to win the lottery either. Here are five simple steps you […]

Budget Bonanzas

Most people think that budgeting is too much work. Here are some tips to help you easily create a meaningful budget that will save you money. Review budget categories in which you spend the most money. Trimming 5 or 10 percent from these categories will make a big difference in your savings. Prime categories to […]

Choose Your Budget

When it comes to budgeting, one size does not fit all. A detailed budget will help you control every expense. But if you tend to overspend in just one or two categories, you may not need an elaborate budget. Here are five different types of budgets, one of which is right for you: A Comprehensive […]

Living Dangerously: The Lies We Tell Ourselves about Disability Insurance

Do you have disability insurance? Many of us don’t. A survey by The Consumer Federation of America and The American Council of Life Insurers found that 82% of people do not have long-term disability insurance or believe their coverage to be inadequate. One-third of working adults say that their families could only live for three […]

Insurance Coverage You May Not Know You Have

Here are some insurance coverages you may not even know you have! Your homeowner’s policy may cover lost luggage, as well as items stolen from your car and other locations, such as your purse. It also may cover items you have borrowed, property damaged by vandalism, or property damaged in a move. Your credit card […]

Mistakes People Make Buying Insurance

A catastrophic loss can scuttle any financial plan, and bring your savings to its knees. You need insurance to protect yourself against medical costs, sudden loss of life, and loss of property or earning power. Many people are mostly in the dark when it comes to insurance coverage. They worry that they are underinsured, but […]

Long-Term Care is a Woman’s Issue

Women! Hear us!  We know you don’t need anything else to worry about, what with working, caring for children, and being the only one who replaces the toilet paper roll when it’s empty. But there is a crisis in long-term care coming to America that will affect you and your family profoundly. According to US […]

Setting Up Your Budget

In Dutch it’s “begroting,” in Spanish, “presupuesto,” and the Germans say “haushaltsplan” (which make the most sense, as in “How Shalt YOU plan?  In any language, we either love or hate the word and the idea of it.  But if you have no idea where your money goes, you are bound to end up in […]

A Man Is Not a Financial Plan®

My husband and I have been married for almost three decades, and we’ve worked together for most of them.  But we both know that even the most successful marriages end, in either death or divorce. That is why a man is not a plan, even in the best of marriages. If you are married, each […]

Clean Up Your Credit

Spring is a good time to check your credit report and clean up any problems. But don’t sweep any dirt under the rug. That’s what Katherine learned the hard way. Katherine is an ambitious, intelligent business woman who had never missed a payment in her life. But when she reviewed her free credit report, available […]

Financial Workout Tips

If you vowed to lose weight and get more exercise this year, you aren’t alone. But how about extending that fitness regime to your finances? Here are some financial workouts tips to get your finances in shape. 1.  Put Your Spending On A Diet Carrying too much debt is as exhausting as carrying extra weight. […]

Financial Advice: Four Good Reasons To Save Money This Year

It isn’t hard to find financial advice on how to save money. But have you ever thought about why saving money matters so much? Sure, it’s important to set aside money for retirement, for the kids’ college education and for those unexpected life expenses, but there’s another reason why it’s more blessed to save than […]

Uncommon Sense: Some Money Rules That Might Surprise You

Most money wisdom is pretty straightforward. You simply have to use your common sense to figure out that it’s good to save for a rainy day, spend wisely on things you really need, and keep a hopeful outlook for your financial future. Sometimes, though, a money rule comes along that calls upon your “uncommon sense” […]

Is Bankruptcy the Answer?

Are you considering bankruptcy as a solution to your financial woes? Bankruptcy is a very serious issue, so consider all of your options before you take action. Here are some steps to take before you file, courtesy of Bills.com. Pull a credit report first.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report. Confirm that all information is accurate […]

Organizing Your Family Records

Got records? Most people do. But can you find last month’s bank statement? A copy of your will? The manual for your DVR? If your answer was something unprintable, you need to get a bit more organized. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to set up a financial record-keeping system for […]

Financial Advice: Lessons from Scrooge

When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, he was driven as much by financial desperation as inspiration. The story met with instant success, selling six thousand copies within a week, and it has never been out of print since it was written. Dickens wrote and published the classic tale to pay off crippling […]

Ten Tips to Save Time and Money This Holiday Season

The holiday season is coming fast upon us, along with many demands on our time (there are just so many cookies to eat, it’s hard to know where to start!), and demands for our money. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend $929 on holiday gifts in 2016…and that’s only […]

Who’s In Control, You Or Your Credit Cards

Time to start with a clean financial slate.  Bail out your sinking ship of credit card debt so you can spend the next century sailing smoothly toward your financial goals. Much of our spending is attributable to spur-of-the-moment decisions: “It’s on sale!” “It’s more than I wanted to spend, but I love the extra options.” […]