Detroit Files for Bankruptcy and Links

40% of the street lights in Detroit are turned off to save money.

It takes police about an hour to respond to an emergency call.  The city’s population has dropped by more than 25% since 2000.

Detroit is in trouble.

So much trouble that the city filed for bankruptcy protection.  Currently facing total liabilities of about $18 billion, there just isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel without bankruptcy protection.

Unions are worried about pensions being slashed; involuntary cuts to pensions has rarely occurred in municipal bankruptcies because many of the pensioners still live in the municipality or are still working at the jobs that promised them a pension.

It is a difficult situation.

The city is shrinking, crime is high, and unemployment still sits over 16%.  From a financial perspective there doesn’t seem to be much else to do besides file for bankruptcy.  Despite this the plans to build the Detroit Red Wings a new arena — at a cost of $444 million — is still going through.  The emergency financial manager of Detroit and the state of Michigan agree that it will create jobs, but is it the best way to spend a half-billion dollars?  Only time will tell.

Avoid the dire circumstances Detroit is facing in your own finances. These great reads will help you keep your finances running smoothly:

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Oh Crap, We Forgot to Save for College! How to Save Money for College When Your Kids Are Older

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When you first bring children into the world your concerns are on the immediate: keeping them alive, keeping them fed, and every once and a while trying to clean up the house.

College seems a long, long way off and there are more pressing issues in between now and then like soccer practice and birthday parties.

Before you know it college isn’t too far off and your retirement is right behind.  You bravely check the college education saving coffers and find nothing but cobwebs.

Is it too late to start?  What can you do?  Will your kids fail at life and be trapped in student loans forever?  Will they not be able to get in to the best schools?

Take a deep breath for me.  This is fixable.

How to Start Saving for College Late

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Can I Get a Credit Card If I’m Unemployed? Should I?

Credit cards are terrible and wonderful things wrapped up in the same shiny piece of plastic.

The right credit card can whisk you off on a dream vacation with reward points.  The wrong card can catch you with a late payment and jack your interest rate up to 20%.

A common question about credit cards revolves around getting one if you are unemployed.

Is it even possible to complete a credit card application when you’re unemployed and be accepted?  And even if it is possible, is this the wisest financial move you can make?

Let’s look at some scenarios to dig deeper on this problem.

Can I Get a New Credit Card When Unemployed?

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Stocks Reach New Highs and Links

I thought the economy was still in shambles?

Isn’t unemployment a little higher than we’d like?  Isn’t the Fed going to end stimulus and the economy is going to tank?

Don’t tell it to Wall Street.

The stock markets are breaching new highs it seems every week.  This leads to fear in some investors and greed in others.  Some see opportunity and others see the market only has one way to go — down.

But investing based on your emotions and “gut feeling” of the market won’t work.  You need an investing plan that you will stick to.  Sticking to any financial plan will help you weather the ups and downs of life and the stock markets.  You still might react a little bit, but if you hold close to the plan you are less likely to make vast changes that ultimately will hurt you more than they help you.

Here are some great reads this week. Use them to put together your financial plan:

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What’s This Federal Reserve and Why Is It In the News All the Time?

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We hear about “the Fed” or the Federal Reserve doing various things in the news, but what exactly is the Fed?

How can one institution be responsible for rising and falling interest rates, and why does the stock market bounce around every time the Federal Reserve Chairman speaks?

Understanding the Federal Reserve System

How can you understand a quasi-Federal agency that is still independent, has mysterious meetings that impact the nation’s economy, and can cause the stock market to go wild?

Here are some key areas to understanding what the Federal Reserve is, what it does, and the tools it uses to achieve its goals.

What is a Central Bank?

The Federal Reserve is the United States’ Central Bank.  A central bank is a quasi-government institution that manages its country’s money supply and interest rates.  Most central banks also are in charge of regulating the banking environment of the country.
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College Savings or Retirement Savings – Which Should I Save For First?

There is a deep, deep instinct within parents to care for their children. Every parent I’ve ever known wants their children to have it better than they did.

Often this means Mom and Dad sacrifice for their children.  These sacrifices can be small such as not ordering dessert when eating out or driving the old beat up (paid off) car one more year before buying something manufactured in the last 5 years.

Other times the sacrifices made by parents can be financially devastating.

The desire to provide for children is so strong that choices are made that can make things worse than they need to be.

The classic question of saving for your children’s college funds or for your retirement falls right in line with this idea.  Is it a terrible idea to set aside your retirement needs to save some extra dollars for the college fund?  Or can you justify putting off retirement savings to make sure there is enough money to pay the college bills?

Deciding Whether to Save for College or Retirement

Here are 6 factors to consider when making the decision of whether to save for college education costs or your retirement.

1. Why Not Do Both?

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Stocks Drop 2% This Week and Links

The US stock markets dropped about 2% this week.

Is it time to abandon ship on stocks?

Maybe!  Or maybe not.  How can you tell?

It all comes down to your asset allocation and investment plan.  You shouldn’t make significant investing moves just because the stock market goes up or down.  Your shifting of assets should only occur inside your investment plan’s rules rather than because of an emotional decision.

Not sure how to handle your money or investments? Here are some articles to help out:

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