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Unsexy Personal Finance: 6 Things You Need to Take Care Of

Personal finance isn’t always the exciting place that we personal finance bloggers seem to think it is.

While there’s something sexy about finding the right index fund for your Roth IRA, there are plenty of other unsexy things that you just have to do.

Unfortunately, some of the most important items related to your financial situation are often the things that are overlooked.

So, while it might be unsexy, here are 6 personal finance actions you need to take:

1. Create a Will

Thinking about death isn’t usually a lot of fun.  But it needs to be done — preferably before it happens.

What will happen to your assets if you die unexpectedly?  Who will care for your children?

These are questions that deserve serious thought, especially if you care about your family.  Consider how you would make sure your children are cared for, and how you would make sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
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3 Debt Lessons from Game of Thrones

“A Lannister always pays his debts.”

Growing up, Tyrion Lannister learned that lesson from his father.

Whether the debt was in promised payment for a deed done, or whether it was revenge for a debt of honor, that theme is something associated heavily with Tyrion Lannister in the A Song of Ice and Fire books (made famous by the HBO show Game of Thrones).

Warning: There may be spoilers, since this piece is based on the books, and not the TV show.

Even though it might take time to engineer your plan to get out of debt, it’s important to do what you can to reduce your obligations, and Tyrion Lannister is a perfect example of this.

Debt Lessons from Game of Thrones

Make a Plan to Pay Off Your Debt

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Is an Associate’s Degree the Best Path to a Lucrative Career?

The romantic ideal of going to college to study what you love and to learn how to be a learner, so to speak, is rapidly falling by the wayside. 

As college costs soar and new graduates struggle to find a job as well as pay off student loans that average $25,000 per student, many people are arguing whether going to a four year university is even worthwhile.

Another option that many don’t think about is pursuing a two year associate’s degree. 

A community college is often seen as a lesser quality, less expensive option to a four year college.  Many see it as a stepping stone for a mediocre high school student to improve his academic record to transfer into a four year college.

However, this thinking denies the student another important, cheaper, option–attending a community college to earn a practical degree and begin working right away.

How An Associate’s Degree Can Be Better Than a Four-Year Degree

All the Benefits without the Debt

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What You Must Consider Before Opening a Brokerage Account

Picking stocks

Shopping for a brokerage account is very unlike choosing a bank.

People often choose a bank based primarily on a convenient location.  Since banks are tightly regulated, and all provide essentially the same services, convenience can be the deciding factor.

There’s a lot more to consider when opening a brokerage account however, since the transactions you enter into with investments will be both more complicated and more diverse.

Consider the Following When Opening a Brokerage Account

Investment choices

How important investment choice is to you will depend on what you intend to do with the account.

For the most part, you’ll want a brokerage account that has the widest investment choices available.  That will include stocks – both foreign and domestic – mutual funds, ETF’s, options, REITs, bonds and other debt securities, and even commodities.  You’ll also want the investment choices within each asset class to also be as wide as possible.

But if you plan to maintain the account for a very specific purpose, you may be more interested in a specialized account.
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Ten Things The Walking Dead Can Teach You About Life and Money

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You don’t really believe a zombie apocalypse will come to fruition, do you?  [Well, not really...]

But you may be one of the millions that loves the AMC show The Walking Dead.

Like most great series you get more than just entertainment from The Walking Dead.  If you pay attention you can learn a lot of great lessons that can help you, even without a zombie-pocolypse.  (This is a continuation of our previous article on our site, 10 Life Lessons from the Television Series “The Walking Dead”.)

Here are ten things to learn from The Walking Dead about life and money:

1. When It Comes to Survival Tools, Simple Is Better

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New Options for Taking the Home Office Tax Deduction

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Even as you gather your documentation to prepare your 2012 tax return, it’s time to look ahead and begin planning your tax situation for the next tax year.

One of the things to consider as you plan for this year is the new option for taking the home office tax deduction.

There are a number of tax-deductible business expenses that you can claim with your home business.  One of those is a deduction for the cost of the space you are using in your home.

If you plan to take the home office tax deduction, you are required to fill out Form 8829, which consists of 43 lines and can include depreciation and carryovers of deductions you haven’t used.  In some cases, the IRS even acknowledges, figuring the deduction can be a bit complex.  Plus, if you make mistakes on this form, it can red-flag your return for an audit.

Recognizing that home offices are becoming increasingly popular for the growing number of self-employed taxpayers, as well as for telecommuters, the IRS has released an optional method of claiming the home office tax deduction.  It comes into effect this year, in 2013, so you will be able to claim it (if you choose) early next year when filing your 2013 tax return.

New Option for Claiming the Home Office Tax Deduction

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Selection Sunday and Links

Today is Selection Sunday and college basketball teams around the country are anxiously waiting to learn their fates.

Will it be that coveted last spot in the NCAA tournament?  Or relegated to the NIT?  (Sure, playing in any tournament is nice, but the NIT pales in comparison to the real deal.)

If you are like me and your team is sitting in the first four out list (as of time of this writing) you see a lot of similarity to financial issues.  My team, the University of Tennessee, is on the outside looking in.  They lost in their conference tournament when a win would have likely locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Instead they lost, but even with a loss they aren’t completely out of the running.  They are just reliant on a bunch of other teams losing in order to propel them into one of those last few spots in the tournament.

Don’t we often run our finances this way?

We miss doing things right and do just enough.  We cut corners, and suddenly find ourselves reliant on someone or something else to save us.  That might be a relative lending us money or just hoping that our employer continues to employ us.

Don’t live your financial life like a NCAA basketball bubble team. Take control of your finances with some of these great reads:

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