Dow Crosses 14,000 and Links

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 14,000 this week.

This achievement was a big milestone for the bull market, yet no one seems to be celebrating too much.  Some traders think the market will begin to cool off while others think the government will work with the Federal Reserve to continue pushing the economy and markets up.

For all the talk of the Great Recession, the Lost Decade of 2000 to 2010, and so forth the markets have done surprising well.  The S&P 500 is up 37%, the Dow Jones is up 36%, and the Nasdaq is up 44% since the beginning of January 2010.

If you had funds invested in the market through a low cost index fund, you’ve probably done well.  And that’s not even taking into consideration dollar cost averaging your investments into the market which would catch some of the lows along the way and drive your returns even higher.

Will the bull market continue?  No one really knows and making drastic portfolio changes based on your gut is unwise.

Focus on what you can control with these articles:

Continue Reading

Should You Break Up With Your Credit Card? When to Move On

I’m a big believer in using credit cards to better your financial situation.

That means using your credit card like a debit card, not like a free flowing spigot of money.  There are too many benefits to using a credit card like a free month of float on your money and free warranty extensions on products you buy to ignore credit cards completely.

That isn’t to say that credit cards are risk-free.

Obviously, many people get trapped in credit card debt paying high interest rates with balances that take forever to pay off.  (Many times this is through their own choices of spending too much money on the card, but I digress.)

Just like any other tool credit cards can be used for both good and bad.

The choice on which is up to you.

Even if you aren’t up to your eyeballs in credit card debt there are times when it is just time to move on and decide this isn’t a good card for you.

3 Big Reasons to Break Up With Your Credit Card and Find a New Card

Continue Reading

Stamp Prices Increase and Links

The cost of stamps will rise to 46 cents per stamp on Sunday. 

The US Postal Service is in dire shape; the organization nearly defaulted on payments it is required to make twice last year.  A decline in demand for sending items through the postal service combined with rising healthcare and pension costs has put extreme pressure on the Postal Service.

When is the last time you sent a letter to someone?

Aside from occasional bill payment or sending a birthday card, my use of postal services has dropped significantly.  What will the USPS do as demand continues to drop?  Only time will tell.

When things change financially you have to take action. Don’t wait for a Congressional bailout like the USPS. Take action with these articles:

Continue Reading

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

last_will_testament

Thinking about your own death is often unpleasant yet unfortunately necessary.

When you die there are a certain set of rules that dictate how your assets will be distributed to your heirs.  Those rules are set by your state’s estate tax laws.

If you don’t want your assets to go to the state and likely take years to be doled out to your heirs then you need a will.  Some people may also need a trust, but a will and a trust are two different legal issues.

Finding out the difference can be pretty confusing and having the wrong type of legal protection for your assets can be a catastrophic estate planning error.

How are a Will and Trust Different?

Continue Reading

Flu Season in Full Swing and Links

The flu season has hit with surprising force this year.

Some are calling it an epidemic while others think it is just a stronger flu season than normal.  Nonetheless it seems to be everywhere across the country.  Some areas are running out of flu vaccinations which isn’t helping matters.  The government has set up a pretty slick website over at Flu.gov to guide you in getting through this year’s flu season.

Be sure to check with your insurance company to see if they cover flu shots.  Even if they don’t most walk in clinics charge about $25.  Compared to feeling ill for 7 days and having to miss work, $25 still seems like a bargain to me.

Avoid feeling ill when you look at your bank account and credit card statements by using these great articles to get better with your money:

Continue Reading

What is the European Debt Crisis and How Can It Affect You?

For the past several years the European Union — also called the Eurozone — has been enduring a deep financial crisis that has shaken the faith of the markets in the region.

The issue is complicated and difficult to summarize in a basic article, but having even the most basic understanding of how it might impact you personally is important.

The goal of this article is to highlight some of the key aspects of the European debt crisis so you as an individual are better prepared to seek more information on your own and avoid making critical financial mistakes.

What is the European Debt Crisis?

Continue Reading

Last Minute Fiscal Cliff Deal Kicks Can Down Road and Links

As expected our saints in Congress “came through” at the last possible moment to kick the proverbial debt, tax, and spending can down the road for a little bit.

A deal was struck, the middle class was “saved” — or was it? — and everyone can focus on using this small planned victory in the next election cycle.

…said the cynic.

Nonetheless your taxes won’t be jumping up by 27% next year.  Instead, a 2% discount in the Social Security tax that has been in place for a few years will disappear.  Many will moan and complain about having less money in their pockets and how this is a tax increase.  I see it more as you used to be able to use a coupon someplace, but now the store isn’t accepting 2% off coupons anymore.  The drop from 6.2% tax to 4.2% was meant to be temporary to boost the economy.

Considering the rate has been 6.2% since 1990, hasn’t been below 5% since 1973, and hasn’t been below 6% since 1988… I’d say it is the removal of a discount.  But people will still complain about losing 2% next year, and that’s understandable I suppose.  Just realize that you shouldn’t have had that extra 2% for the last few years, move on, and try to save or earn more money this year.

You can cover that extra 2% in Social Security tax easily by implementing a great financial plan to pay off your debt, earn more money, and save for a rainy day.  Here are some articles to help you do just that:

Continue Reading