Diamond Jewelry Valued For More Than the 4 C’s

People are flocking to jewelry stores around the country to buy that special someone something that sparkles. So what makes one diamond more valuable than another? Ask any diamond and jewelry professional, and they will tell you the factors that influence the value of diamonds are much more complicated than the commonly referred to 4 c’s: Clarity, Color, Cut, and Carat Weight. But, the 4 c’s are really just the beginning of the factors that make up the value of a diamond. I call the remaining considerations ‘Characteristics,’ making a fifth c if you will. Characteristics include any properties that may affect the overall value of the stone, such as the construction of the diamond, the nature of imperfections, as well as natural or man made characteristics. Proper Ratio of Depth and Table Percentages – Depth and table percentages will affect the value of a diamond because they are an indication of a well-proportioned stone. If a depth percentage is too big ...

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10 Money Saving Deals On Veterans Day

There are so many ways we should thank our Veterans on this special day.   In this great country of ours, many restaurants and shops across American are giving back to our military and offering them some really amazing deals.  Here are ten of my favorites for Veterans to check out and please go to a great military blog http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/ to check out the full list. (source: TheMilitaryWallet)  Make sure to have the appropriate I.D. with you before you go and always check local stores to make sure they are participating in the program. Applebee’s, free meal, Nov. 11, 2014: Last year, Applebee’s served over one million free meals to military veterans and active service members. Applebee’s is again offering a free meal to military veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. There will be 7 entrées to choose from, beverage and gratuity not included. Military ID or proof of service required. More. California Pizza Kitchen, Nov. 11, 2014. Choose ...

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Do You Understand The Term Diversification?

Diversification is a term that is often discussed, but is still widely misunderstood amongst investors today. When the financial markets collapsed in 2008, many investors were left wondering if the opportunities to truly diversify were fewer than they once believed. Diversification: Is NOT having your money at four different banks. Many investors still do not understand how FDIC insurance works. Diversification: Is NOT having your money at four separate financial institutions. Many wealthy investors often believe they spread their diversifications risk by hiring money managers at different brokerage houses. This is hardly ever the case. Diversification: Is NOT leaving your 401(k)’s at three old employers. It’s extremely scary to see how many people buy the same mutual funds through their 401(k) at different employers and never really look at their investment strategy as a whole. Diversification: Is NOT necessarily done by buying different mutual funds or exchange traded funds from the same fund family. Diversification: Is NOT subtracting your age ...

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Did You Just Get A Raise In November

It’s pretty amazing to me how many people truly still don’t understand our payroll tax system.  When you work as a W-2 for an employer, both you and your employer are going to pay certain payroll taxes.  The two main types of taxes are the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax and the Medicare tax.   Both you and your employer pay 6.2% into FICA up to $117,000 this year and Medicare is a perpetuity tax at 1.45%.  In 2014, when wages, compensation, etc. get above $200,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a married couple, you will incur an additional .9% Medicare tax this year.   When your w-2 gets above $200,000, your payroll provider should be deducting that amount from your paycheck now, but it is important you double check at work. Since there are many individuals who pay their full amount into social security and their income exceeds $117,000 in a particular calendar year, unfortunately your HR department won’t ...

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I Can’t Take Money Until 59 1/2

There is an ever-changing landscape of families and individuals who are working on making work-optional by the age of 50 or 55. This doesn’t mean that they won’t continue running some small business or choosing projects to work on that they really enjoy, but at this financial juncture in their lives they are wondering how they may be able to tap into their retirement savings accounts. The biggest misconception people have about retirement savings accounts is that they simply cannot touch the money before the age of 59 ½ or they will pay significant penalties to the IRS. You’ll want to check this IRS link out. (http://1.usa.gov/1rB1ufw) Essentially, IRA owners have an option called Substantial Equal Period Payments which would allow them to withdraw money from their IRA or qualified plan before the age of 59.5 without incurring the IRS 10% early withdrawal penalty. The IRS will require individuals to continue the SEPP program for a minimum of five years ...

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7 Ways to Cut your Cellphone Bill

Today’s household has to deal with so many expenses that my parent’s generation did not have.  When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, we did not have a cable bill, an internet bill and most certainly no cell phone bill.  Now, we cannot do without these items.  If we are going to have these extra expenses, we might as well get the best deal possible.  Consider some of these cost cutting items. Consider prepaid service. Pay-as-you-go services have gotten a lot better recently.  If you are not a heavy cell phone user you usually come out better by only paying for what you use. Check for discounts. Many carriers offer discounts if you are an employee of a company that uses their service.  Do a Google search with the carrier’s name and the words “employee discount”. Look for a family plan. If you need multiple lines, most carriers will offer a better per-line price than their standard ...

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Is it time to make an appointment with the doctor?

Getting laid off from your job can trigger a myriad of emotions. There are often important financial considerations to make during this period of time, but the number one investment step for someone to take who gets laid off is to review all of your group insurance benefits at work and determine the best course of action for this important foundation of your overall financial plan. You should immediately make any doctor and dentist visits for you and your family before you officially terminate from your company. Another smart idea is to assess how close you are to your deductibles year to date and potentially schedule any surgeries that are necessary, especially if you are getting close to the end of the year. Most large companies will allow you the opportunity to continue your coverage under COBRA, but if you work for a company of less than 20 employees you may only be eligible for state continuation. You could also ...

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5 Ways To Stop The Energy Vampires

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.   Handing out candy to all of the kids in my neighborhood never gets old, and at least one child each Halloween season is dressed up as a vampire.   Computers, cell phones, cable boxes, and printers can be the Vampires that suck up your money by giving you a bigger monthly electricity bill.  The EPA estimates that plugged in devices can suck up $100 a year or more to keep power going to devices not being actively used.   What are five smart money moves that can be used to stop the energy vampires from biting you? Suzanne Jones, Interim President and CEO of the Association of Energy Services Professionals says, “We estimate that by spending $500 on energy efficiency devices that more than $1,800 in energy savings can be generated.” Use A Smart Shower Head- There are many devices on the marketplace that will stop the water flow when the water ...

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Four Money Moves To Make When You Get The Pink Slip

The Pink Slip.  It’s the dreaded official notification from your employer that they no longer need your services.   You’ll often hear the corporate rumors flowing within your company about the impending layoffs, but you’ll never suspect that you might be a person on the hit list.   We never imagine that we will be that person who gets called in for dismissal time.   While getting a pink slip is an awful feeling, it’s also a phase in your life where you need to immediately get your financial act together.  Here are my four smart money moves to make when you get laid off from work. Time To See The Doctor- Health insurance is one of the biggest items for consideration during a layoff.  You should make all doctor visits before you separate from service with your current employer.   You should get the details of what happens to your health insurance plan if you get laid off. Are you under COBRA or ...

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Does Jim Cramer Run Your Portfolio?

About a week ago, Marketwatch (www.marketwatch.com) ran story called, “The Most Dangerous Stock Market Since 2008.”   In the past six years of bringing you my Your Smart Money Moves Column, I have shared with you how media can influence what happens in the markets in a very significant way.  Without even reading a lick of this column, would it be any stretch of the imagination to say that if the market hits all time highs that the potential danger gets higher and higher for some type of market pullback? If you really want to see something funny, spend eight minutes today watching this 2009 video of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.  This particular program poked fun almost five years ago at Jim Cramer, Rick Santelli, and other financial pundits for telling people to continue to buy stocks in a raging bull market before the bottom fell out (http://bit.ly/1aZk5rZ).  The video is particularly amusing with one of Stewart’s great quotes “I ...

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