Why it’s tough to save (and how to help)

I think most of us can relate to having wondered if we'd be able to save enough for our goals at some point in our lives. For one thing, it can be much more fun to spend than to save - especially with the instant gratification of receiving whatever it is you just purchased. Saving can seem like it takes forever, and it may not look like the money is growing, or it isn't growing fast enough.

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Charitable Giving - A Gift To Yourself

I think most of us know it's possible to receive a deduction from your income taxes when you donate to a charity, whether it's clothes, cash or even a vehicle; but if you're like me this in and of itself is not enough incentive to give.

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Love means My Will is Up to Date

Having worked for two bank trust departments and observed so many complex problems created by the lack of a will, I have always urged clients, friends, and family members to keep their estate planning documents up to date. Those documents include a will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and several other documents in many situations.

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THEY DID WHAT????!!!!!!

I think it's safe to say we've all either been in a position to say this, or know someone who has. This article is specifically focused on the titling of your estate. Far too often, in my opinion, there is conflict or confusion about what to do when someone passes away, and which is the last thing anyone should have to deal with when mourning.

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Where do I Start??!!

The New Year has lost it's luster, many of us who started with the best of intentions and a resolution of "this year's gonna be different" are finding ourselves back on the treadmill to nowhere, and may be getting very discouraged. Or maybe you aren't a resolution person, but you do have something you want to change and aren't sure where to begin. With so many possibilities how do you know which is right for you?!

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Dow Hits 20,000: Now What?

Hey folks, it’s just a number. It has very little to do with your long-term investment plan. After all, it’s only 30 stocks that are mostly not industrial anymore. The media likes drama. In fact, other parts of our society like drama too. The purpose of marking these events has people reading, watching or listening to stories or posts that supposedly bring them insight into how they should live their lives or change their lives or habits. However, in my opinion, it lets advertisers entice you to click on an ad if you’re digital or glance at an ad in a paper format.

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Beware the Deal

Ever feel like the deck is just stacked against you when it comes to saving money? After all, no matter how hard you try, something always seems to come up - and usually just when you're starting to get ahead. No doubt sometimes this is true, after all, I think we've all had those "oh crap" moments and watched our emergency savings dwindle away to nothing. However, I think if we were an impartial viewer we may draw some different conclusions. Having an unforeseen crisis occur and wipe out the money you saved is not to be confused with not having an emergency fund established because of bad saving habits, compounded by life event which would not have been considered "traumatic" if you'd done a better job saving.

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Look Before you Leap

How many of us have had something so enticing dangled in front of us we felt we just had to take advantage of it? Could have been a new car, a new home, new job - you get the idea. Frequently though, there are unintended consequences; that if we'd taken a little more time to step back and consider whatever it was unemotionally we may not have made the same decision. Or, if we had made the same decision, we would have been more prepared for what came next.

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Taking Your First Steps Towards Financial Fitness

Wow - it's already a week into 2017, and this year we're really going to get our finances straight. It's a common theme, yet something happens and often nothing changes. It's tough, overcoming what has become - whether you want to admit it or not - a habit. Much like quitting smoking or dieting, there are frequently reasons you can't save "yet". Welcome to life; where curve balls seem to be the order of the day - so what can we do?

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Wellness Time

It's the beginning of the year. Did you set any goals last year, or are you like most of us who have those good intentions, but they seem to be mostly gone by February? My job as a financial writer is to inspire and educate you. Let's try inspiration and follow up with a little education. Here are some resolutions to consider for 2017 along with an idea of how you might achieve them to help yourself and others, too.

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New Year, New You?!

Welcome to 2017! How many of us have resolved this year will be different? Perhaps this is the year you get rid of those stubborn pounds and fit back into your high school/college jeans, or maybe your focus is on paying down debt and increasing your savings. Whatever the goal, what can you do to make it happen?

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Stop Labeling Yourself

In my profession, a question I hear posed to prospects and clients very frequently is "are you a spender or a saver?" In fact, until recently I was guilty of doing this as well - unfortunately it's not helpful. You may enjoy spending or saving, but it's not "who" you are; any more than enjoying a good book makes you a "reader". We (humans) are not one-dimensional creatures, yet we assign labels almost willy-nilly to help put those we interact with into a box.

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Resolution Time

It's the end of the year. A new year looms in just a few days. Imagine that. Who would have thought last Christmastime we would be where we are now? Did you set any goals last year, or are you like most of us who have those good intentions, but they seem to be mostly gone by February? My job as a financial writer is to inspire and educate you. Let's try inspiration and follow up with a little education.

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Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit Could Fund Long-Term Care

There’s a 70% chance that people over 65 will need some kind of long-term care, including services such as home care, assisted living and skilled nursing, according to government statistics.

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Don’t Buy into the Hype

If you’re watching the markets you’ll have seen them enter record territory, and people predicting all sorts of potential endings. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the market is going to do in the immediate future unless you plan on withdrawing from your accounts. And if you’re planning on withdrawals, my hope is you’ve already shifted to a more conservative stance.

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Get Rich, Quick?!

In my experience, there are (3) time proven methods to getting "rich" consistently. And much like losing weight and keeping it off, none of them are magic buttons or are going to happen overnight. Sure, there will always be those who win the lottery or inherit, but for most of us this is not our reality. For us it comes down to increasing income, decreasing living expenses, and/or decreasing debt.

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How to Make Successful Resolutions in 2017

I don’t think any of us plan to work at our New Year’s resolutions for just a few months before giving up, but that’s exactly what many of us end up doing. Changing a habit is hard, and resolutions require that. Here are three characteristics of successful resolutions. The examples deal with saving money, but this advice can apply to other financial goals or goals about fitness, being more conscientious, keeping in touch with friends and family, and other aspects of our lives.

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Why to Avoid Financial Planning Over the Holidays

It’s that time of year when retailers step up their game and try to convince you that you need what they sell and that you can save so much more by buying from them. On the flip side, you can’t get away from advice to set up a plan to save for your goals — no matter how many times you’ve tried before and failed. For many people, this all leads to the nagging sense that they really should sit down with a financial advisor and make a plan.

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Why you should wait until 70 to file for Social Security when you have disabled child

Social Security makes up a very large portion of the income most people receive in retirement, and it makes sense why they would want to start collecting it as soon as possible. However, according to the social security administration, if you start collecting it before your full retirement age you could be leaving between 20 - 30% of your benefit on the table - meaning you will forever miss out on this money. However, if you wait until age 70 before collecting benefits you could earn an additional 5.5 - 8% each year you delay past your full retirement age (delayed retirement credits).

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Overcoming Obstacles to Achieving Financial Goals

We are in the goal business. Helping people define, refine and achieve their financial goals. What does it take to achieve and surpass financial goals?

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Gifts - It's Okay to say "No"

I'm always a little nervous about sharing this particular opinion, especially during this time of year; because of the passion people seem to have about gift giving. I find myself wondering if they're truly caught up in the spirit and overwhelmed with generosity, or do they feel an overpowering sense of duty to give because they "know" they'll be getting something and/or it's expected. Maybe there is a little bit of both going on.

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Holiday Gifts: Creative and Free (almost)

As the holidays approach and the budget is thin or you just need to be creative, why not start now to find creative ideas for gifts? These suggestions can keep on giving and demonstrate affection by being very personal. Here’s a collection of my favorites:

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What to Know About Tax Breaks for Disabled Individuals

It can feel overwhelming to provide the care and services a disabled family member needs. And unfortunately, many families overlook tax credits and deductions that could help defray the costs of that care. These include the medical expense deduction and the child and dependent care credit, and disabled taxpayers may take deductions for impairment-related work expenses.

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A Life Insurance Strategy for Families With Special-Needs Children

‍For families who have children with special needs — for example, a mental or physical disability — the question isn’t whether the parents should own life insurance, it’s how much they can afford. Generally speaking, families with special needs are planning retirement for two generations — the parents and the child — because the child may not be able to earn income as an adult and support himself or herself.

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Money Market Accounts Could Drag Down Your Retirement Savings

After the stock market meltdown of 2007 and 2008, many Americans grew wary of investing and moved more of their savings into money market deposit accounts. These have less volatility than stocks and a higher return rate than traditional savings accounts. In fact, the total amount in money market accounts has nearly doubled since the stock market crash, from around $2.7 trillion at the end of 2007 to more than $5.1 trillion as of this June, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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Don’t Skimp on Your Insurance

Often I hear people say, “Insurance is a scam” or, “It’s too expensive.” But I’ve never heard anyone complain about insurance when they’ve needed it. Some types of insurance are required. Banks require you to purchase homeowners insurance when you buy a home, for example, in order to protect their loan and make sure they get paid. But some types of insurance are voluntary. Nobody is forcing you to purchase policies that protect your income or assets, or that ensure your funeral expenses will be taken care of. Let’s take a look at a few of these voluntary policies and highlight key points you should know:

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Financial Planning for the 21st Century

The world is changing quickly, and it’s time for financial planning advice to catch up. It’s no longer commonplace to work at one company for your entire career and walk away with a nice pension to help you live a comfortable life in retirement. New technology combined with a surge in freelancing and the on-demand gig economy means many people no longer rely solely on their 9-to-5 income. Though in some ways this may complicate your financial plans, it also brings new opportunities to build wealth, diversify income streams and gain control over your finances.

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4 Tips to Slash Unnecessary Monthly Expenses

Most of us pay our bills around the beginning of the month, and about this time the stack can get pretty high — as does the hit to your bank account. If you’re like me, you often think, “What can I do this month to cut my expenses, in a smart way, and waste less money while I’m at it?” I’ve got some ways to do exactly that. Here are my four tips that you can implement today:

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How to Turn Big Dreams Into Financial Goals

‍A dream without a plan is just a wish. To make sure you can achieve the big dreams and desires you have in life, it’s important to turn them into attainable financial goals. Then you must prioritize your goals and consistently track your progress toward them. The following steps will help you define and prioritize your goals so you can make your dreams a reality:

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Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans

Veterans have access to health and long-term care benefits that can have a significant impact on their family’s finances. The Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for certain long-term care services for disabled and low-income veterans. With help covering long-term care costs, many veterans and their families can focus on other important aspects of their financial planning. There are many options for veterans to take advantage of as they age and require care, but often veterans don’t even know they may be eligible. Here’s a look at the various benefits available:

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ABLE Accounts Help Foster Independence for Disabled People

Most parents don’t expect to provide financial support to their children for their entire lives. But families of children with disabilities may have to. Recent legislation makes it easier for families to set aside money explicitly to provide for the needs of loved ones with disabilities, while also helping them to become more independent. New state-sponsored accounts allow disabled people to accumulate assets in their own name, without the risk of losing their Social Security disability benefits.

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Essential Traits of a Good Investor

Investors frequently make mistakes simply because they are human. Very natural and understandable feelings, like fear and desire for wealth, can cause us to behave in ways that actually harm our financial goals. Good investors, however, are able to resist the influence of emotion on their investing decisions and often can avoid these mistakes altogether. They also tend to see positive results from their investing efforts.

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Smart Steps to Plan for Retirement

Many people worry that Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare won’t be available to them in the future. Recent reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees indicate that if Congress doesn’t act to better fund these programs, they will face shortfalls in the coming years. However, Social Security and Medicare are incredibly important programs that many people rely on heavily, so it’s hard to imagine that politicians won’t act to ensure their survival. Even so, while we hope Congress will do something, there are steps we can take on our own to plan ahead. To make sure you have enough savings to cover health care and other costs in retirement, here are some strategies you might want to consider:

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The Art of Doing Nothing

Living in the 21st century, we are weighed down with activities, tasks, endless to do lists, technology. We are ON 24/7. It’s hard to disconnect. But we must, in order to keep our sanity.

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Divorce Doesn’t Preclude Social Security Spousal Benefits

Social Security retirement benefits are administered under a complicated set of rules that most participants don’t completely understand. Adding divorce into the equation can result in even more confusion.

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For Social Security Benefits, Timing Is Key

When to begin receiving Social Security benefits is one of the most frequently asked questions among those nearing retirement. The answer is complicated because there are so many factors involved, some of which are not easy to quantify or predict. For instance, you’d have to think through how long you’re likely to work, and even how long you’re likely to live.

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Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing Out Your Credit Cards

School is out, and summer is upon us. It’s time to let loose and have some fun. That sounds great in theory, but it can be horrible for our finances if we aren’t careful — especially when it comes to taking summer vacations.

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Life without cable TV

Something occurred to me during my monthly flight from San Francisco to Baltimore this past August. I was coming back to my seat from the back of the pane. As I walked down the aisle, I noticed that about 75% of passengers had a tablet or computer on and were watching something. Not reading, mind you, but watching. This observation really gave me pause me and got me thinking about the fact that I haven’t watched any movies in quite some time. And then another thought came. When was the last time I sat down to watch TV? I couldn’t remember!

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How the ‘Five-Finger Checkup’ Can Save Your Financial Life

Financial planning isn’t all that complex. Whether you live paycheck to paycheck or have considerable wealth, it comes down to planning ahead to avoid the financial ruin or distress that afflicts so many. I came up with a simple way to remember what you can do to reduce or eliminate debt, plan for the future, and live the life you want. I call it the “Five-Finger Checkup” — one question for each finger:

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Tips on Taking Over a Family Business

Taking over a family business combines two of the most important parts of our lives — family and work — in a potentially volatile process that can affect relationships and keep the transition from being as smooth as it could be.

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The Internet is a Dangerous Place

You know it and I know it. The Internet is a dangerous place. It can help us do wonderful things not imagined a generation ago. But with the internet rewards come risk and that risk is getter worse.

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How Couples Can Manage Money When Income Fluctuates

When you’re a married couple and your bills are steady but your income now isn’t because one of you has become self-employed, how can you manage your finances? Here are six recommendations to keep your finances on track as one spouse takes on a new business or creative pursuit and moves to a more variable income. by: Lucy Lazarony, Next Avenue Contributor, quoting Anna Sergunina

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7 Tips for Managing Money with Your Roommate

Living with a roommate certainly has its perks, such as having someone to split the bills with. But like with any relationship, financial conflicts, if not handled proactively, can make your life miserable.

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Do you need a will? What to know about estate planning

Do I need a will? How do I get one? The answer financial planners usually give is that it depends. But generally speaking, you should have an up-to-date will, as well as a durable power of attorney for health care, also called a health care proxy, and an advance health care directive, also known as a living will, for estate-planning purposes.

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Tax-Reduction Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses face many challenges, especially in the early days, including developing a product or service, targeting it to the right market, hiring the right employees and keeping expenses under control. Meanwhile, taking the right approach to taxes is a crucial factor that sometimes is overlooked.

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Break the Cycle

Recently my son’s teachers and I met for his IEP (individualized education plan) and one of the goals we discussed was using money.

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Why Hire a Professional?

Over the years I’ve been asked, and I used to ask myself, why hire a professional – I can do this myself and save some money! This has ranged from things as complex as my estate plan to as mundane as getting a housekeeper; but they all have a few common themes.

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MONEY “DATES”

The idea of “Money Dates” has recently resurfaced in my mind. I was having a discussion with my husband about our finances. We had just re-balanced our portfolio, with the help of our advisor, Jim Ludwick!

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A Personal Finance Crash Course For Recent College Grads

A wonderful set of parents recently sent their son to me for financial advice. He was a new college graduate and was about to start his first “real” job. Prior to this session,...

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6 Habits Of Highly Successful Savers

By Jim Ludwick, CFP Learn more about Jim on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor With the utmost respect and honor to Stephen Covey for my very similar title (Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly...

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NerdWallet – Insurance Help With Jim Ludwick

Question: I'm really confused about what type of life insurance coverage to purchase for myself and for my husband. Any advice? People buy insurance to reduce or eliminate the financial risk...

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Be On The Lookout For These 7 Everyday Scams

Each year, hundreds of thousands of older Americans are victims of abuse, particularly financial abuse. As a financial advisor, it’s part of my job to be on the lookout for...

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Maximize Your Employee Benefits

Being your own boss might seem like a sweet deal, but one of the advantages of working for a company is the employee benefits package you’ll usually get. Typical benefits include a retirement plan,...

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How To Avoid Getting Stuck With A Rental-Property Dudd

If you’re thinking of buying a residential income property or converting your current residence into a rental, you might want to think again. A deal that looks good on the...

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