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Review Category : Budgeting

Should You Be Self-Gifting On Black Friday

As the holiday season approaches us, one of the trends that is growing is called self-gifting.  Have you been annoyed in holiday seasons past because you end up getting gifts that you’ll never use or a drawer full of gift cards from stores you don’t really like?  We get so cautious about telling people what kind of gifts we want because we still like the element of surprise, but more often than not you end up dissatisfied because your expectations are unmet by gifts that just don’t cut the mustard.  So, is self-gifting an indulgence or is it an investment that will help us flourish going into 2020? Is it time like they say on Parks and Recreation to treat yo’self? Probably the most famous investor is the Oracle of Omaha who said, “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”  Last year, I wrote a significant piece that made the front page of the Wall Street ...

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Know What You Own and What is a Bad Financial Product

As an advisor pre/post- the 2008 financial crisis and throughout subsequent periods of market volatility (such as 1994, wars, terrorist events, Brexit, you name it), when working with a new client I am regularly surprised by how often they do not have a handle on what is in their portfolio and/or purposes of an asset allocation or lack thereof. During periods like the one we are in now, we watch television pundits that depending on the channel/time of day, are either predicting total market chaos, or a continuation of an extended bull market. Inevitably, it can create a lot of stress and confusion for an investor (and some financial advisors). In the end, investing should have the intended goal of creating “peace of mind” that a person(s) is on track so that they can breathe easier® (shameless plug), feel okay when they turn on the news and can live their lives the way they want to. Knowing What You Own ...

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How To Avoid A Holiday Charity Scam?

Over the past few weeks I have covered elderly scams and romance scams, but this one could hit one of your family members over the holidays… Last year, a New Jersey couple launched a fundraiser for a homeless man.  Donations poured in as hearts were ripped out about this tear-jerking story.  We see charitable causes all the time that pull the purse strings of our wallet, especially during the holidays. The story of the homeless man and the $400,000 GoFundMe money unraveled and we learned about the money that completely disappeared.  Everyone behind the GoFundMe campaign was playing America, but inevitably, they were outed. As we approach the season to be jolly, here are some tips on how not to get scammed when giving to charity. Start with the IRS – Yes, the IRS.  The IRS website has a Tax Exempt Organization Search you can use to see if the charity is in fact a legitimate organization.  Remember, you want ...

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Is Your Sister Or Brother Laughing All The Way To The Bank?

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I say it makes it grow absent.  One of the most challenge items facing families today is the fragmentation of brothers and sisters spread out across the country and the challenge of who will ultimately become Mom or Dad’s caregiver.  What does this mean to the family inheritance?  Should your brother or sister get paid?  Is the total decisions a proxy by proximity or something that should be more fully discussed?  It’s challenging to get siblings on the same page when it comes to money and it’s why so many squabble about the family inheritances even before Mom and Dad pass away.  Here are some tips to make sure your brother or sister aren’t laughing all the way to the bank as you discuss this delicate situation with your parents. Have An Estate Plan This means that your parents should have something more in many cases than just a will.  It ...

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Would You Spend Less Than $100 On An Engagement Ring?

Buying an engagement ring can be an emotionally draining purchase. For most people, it’s more than jewelry: It’s a symbol of love and affection and of the serious commitment they want to make to a lifelong partner.  For years, it’s been bandied that the diamond industry spearheaded this notion that you have to spend 3 months of your salary on an engagement ring.  As we have witnessed millennials and now generation Z changing the way we do many things in their lives, are they going to change what we spend on engagement rings?  How much is love worth? In a recent study that was one, here is what late-stage millennials and generation Z had to say about engagement rings:  Engagement rings should cost… Less than $100: 11 percent of Gen Z and 8 percent of young Millennials  Between $100 and $999: 43 percent of Gen Z and 31 percent of young Millennials  $1,000 to $2,499: 28 percent of Gen Z ...

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Why Your Parents Financial Advice Might Be Wrong (Sort Of……..)

A recent study that came out on CNBC showed that when it comes to debt, Gen Xers are now at the top of the class.  Especially in the category of personal debt where the average Generation X individual (ages 39 to 54) has racked up $36,000 of personal debt.  This is on top of the student debt that is still lagging in the background and potentially taking on new college debt for their children. I think about the advice I got from my parents and the advice that I am giving today.  We all need to consider that as life evolves, so may some of the traditional financial advice that we give when it comes to money decisions.  Here are four areas where parents’ financial advice may be (kind of) wrong: Go To College And Get A Degree:  Let me say up front, I’m not advocating that a college degree is a bad idea.  But we need to consider what’s ...

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Do You Want To REALLY get FREE College Money?

The debates are on and every presidential candidate is promising thousands and thousands of dollars of FREE college money. Wouldn’t that be nice? Now that the kids are back in school and the football season is in full swing, most families don’t realize that applying for free financial aid is literally right around the corner for the school year in 2020. The problem is that most people don’t understand how the college aid process actually works and often sell themselves short of getting free money that could help offset the growing cost of college. Here are seven mistakes that could crush your ability to get free money for 2020. Filling out the FAFSA form AFTER October 1st– If you are interested in getting the most possible money from the Free Application For Student Aid, then you must fill out the forms by October 1st.   Some of the financial awards are issued on a first come first serve basis, so when ...

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How To Save $2000 Per Year

This past month we finally had enough after receiving our cable bill that again crept up to over $280 per month from our local cable provider which was littered with equipment, taxes, and random unexplained charges. For years the cable companies operated like the monopolies that earned them that moniker, yet every year we would call in to the service line playing as good of an Oscar role as we could muster to bluff like we were calling into cancel. We would say that we had some place better to go, while knowing there was someone on the other end laughing their ass off, mocking us while hitting the mute button thinking we were full of shit, as there was no other island we could travel to.  Until now! It went something like this: Me: “Ya, our cable bill is now $280.00 again, we are thinking of canceling. We don’t need 270 channels, you made us get a house phone, ...

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How I Kicked My Post College Kid Out Of The House- And You Can Too!!

It’s official – apparently you can to home again. A recent TD Ameritrade survey found that 50% of “young millennials” plan to move back home with their parents after college. The survey polled 1,027 members of Generation Z (which the survey defines as ages 15-21), 1,026 millennials (which the survey defines as ages 22-28) and 1,001 parents. This issue is actually very personal for me. With my oldest child Olivia having recently graduated college and two others at home closely following in her footsteps, I made a strategic decision. I needed to kick Olivia out of the house and get her living on her own as soon as possible.  You know I love my kids more than life itself.  You know I only want the best for them.  But I remember the struggles I experienced when I started living on my own with less than $100 in my bank account. I lived on a waterbed and ate a steady diet ...

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Americans Are Paying Billions In Hidden Fees

We’ve all thought about it before when buying a ticket to a concert or a sporting event.  How did the price of the seat come up at $200 a seat and then by the time we checked out it cost $250 a seat?  When you last set up your phone bill and they told you it would be $50 a month all in and then you got a bill for almost $70 a month, didn’t you wonder what made up that extra money? A recent study done by Consumer Reports showed that 85% of Americans have experienced a hidden or unexpected fee over the past two years for a service that they have used. In 2018 alone surprise charges included more than 7.6 billion in reservation changes and baggage fees for the airlines and almost 3 billion in resort fees for hotels throughout the United States.  Are we all getting chewed up by these unknown and hidden fees? Who Are ...

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