Half of Americans are “Financially Fragile” – How Not to be One of Them

A disturbing article from the Wall Street Journal reports that Nearly Half of Americans Are ‘Financially Fragile’, which is defined in the article as households who “definitely or probably couldn’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days.”

The $2,000 figure was chosen because it’s roughly the cost of “an unanticipated major car repair, a large co-payment on a medical expense, legal expenses, or a home repair”—in other words, expenses that are hardly out of the question for a typical household.

According to the article 46.5% of all respondents are living very close to the financial edge—in other words, nearly half of America.  And it’s one of the worst rates in the world—in Italy for example, the rate is only 20%.  But it gets even worse; an additional 25.1% of U.S. respondents answered that they were “probably able” to come up with $2,000—meaning that they aren’t entirely sure.

That’s a sad state of affairs no matter how you interpret it.

How should we respond to this information? By making certain we don’t fall into the same category!Continue Reading

What Is a Probate Lawyer and When Would You Use One?

At one point or another throughout our lifetime we hear about probate lawyers.

If you’re like most people you don’t pay attention until one day you’re faced with the inevitable – you need a probate lawyer.

So what specifically is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer manages the filing of the last testament or will of a deceased individual.  Sometimes there are some wicked disputes that arise from the disposition of property.  Basically a probate lawyer is an estate or a trust lawyer.

Far too many people do not think about finding a probate lawyer until someone has passed away.  When this happens, then there is a sense of urgency to hire a probate lawyer therefore not allowing time to shop around for the lawyer who will best represent your interests.
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What Are You Doing with Your Payroll Tax Cut?

At the end of last year, Congress hurried through a tax package.

One of the credits that was allowed to expire was the Making Work Pay tax credit.  However, our representatives replaced the Making Work Pay tax credit with a reduction in the payroll tax paid by employees. This means that you should be seeing a paycheck that is a little bit bigger.

Our leaders, of course, want you to go out and spend that money, pumping it back into the economy.  The whole point of tax cuts is to encourage you to spend so that we can keep the economy, which relies a great deal on consumer spending, moving in a direction of positive growth.  However tempting it might be to spend that extra money, though, it is a good idea to consider how that money can help you down the road.
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Kids & Money – The Financial Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Changes you can do to teach financial literacy to kids

For those of us with kids, we hope to pass down certain traits—good looks, agility, perfect vision, smarts, business savvy. But what of our money management skills?  Financial finesse rarely makes it onto our list of personal strengths, yet it’s a crucial life skill everyone needs to acquire.  A Charles Schwab 2010 Families and Money survey found that “not saving early enough for retirement (43%), not saving money for emergencies (42%) and carrying credit card debt from month to month (30%) [were] cited as the top three financial mistakes [parents] fear their kids will repeat.”  Don’t let your kids make your same mistakes or fall into that ever-growing percentage of 18-24 year-olds who file for bankruptcy.

Here are 4 simple things to do differently (or start doing) as a parent, to ensure your kids gain financial awareness from an early age and build responsible habits.

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Bankruptcy – What it is, When it’s Used, and How it Works – Adapted from Debt Free for Life

Debt Free for Life

I had the pleasure of receiving a publisher’s copy if David Bach’s latest book Debt Free for Life – The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom. Rather than give a general overview of the book, I’m going to talk about chapter 14 – How Bankruptcy Works, When to Use it, How Long it Will Take to you to Recover.

Bankruptcy is pretty much a last ditch effort to help save your financial situation (and perhaps your overall health and life).  The hope is that no one will ever need to know about bankruptcy but the truth is over a million and a half people in 2010 will file for personal bankruptcy.
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Is It Worthwhile To Move To Save Costs?

Are you trying to cut costs?  Did you have a sudden drop in income?  Are you a college student trying to avoid student loans?

One of the most common suggestions personal finance authors make is to move to a cheaper location to save costs, but does it really save that muchHow long do you have to be in the new location to reap the rewards of moving?

My husband and I currently live in a spacious, 1,000 sq. foot, two bedroom apartment.  We live in an urban area and find our $1,000 a month rent competitive with the area.  We have not had a rent increase in two years, and most two bedroom apartments cost more than ours does.  I will use our current situation as the example for the purpose of this exercise.
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Fighting Fair: How to Disagree About Money in Marriage

Don't let money be a sore point in your marriage

Marriage can be hard enough some days. Throw money into the mix, and things can get downright ugly.  However, just as disagreements in other aspects of your married life don’t have to result in permanent rifts, disagreements over money don’t have to ruin your relationship.  As with all things in marriage, money issues need to be worked through. Here are some ideas for overcoming disagreements about money in marriage:

Know Thyself

One of the best things you can do is understand your relationship with money.  In order to articulate your position on money to your partner, you need to be able understand.  Think about why you spend (or save) money the way you do.  You should also come to grips with why you don’t like the way your spouse handles money, and determine whether or not your own preferences and money prejudices are coloring the situations.
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