15 Ways to Cut Your Vacation Costs

piggy bank at the beachAre you ready for the summer vacation season? Part of preparing for a vacation is knowing how to save money on your travel. Here are 15 ideas to get you started: 1. Consider a travel-related credit card. If you need a credit card, consider airline cards that offer tens of thousands of miles as a sign-up bonus. You may also want to consider a reward credit card that lets you earn points that can be transferred to...
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Best Practices for Online Security

secure computerTechnology is always evolving, and keeping up with security advice can be confusing. The guidance on securing your digital world can appear complex and overwhelming. While the details of how to stay secure may change over time, there are fundamental things you can always do to protect yourself.  Secure You Keep in mind that technology alone will never fully protect you. Criminals know that the easiest way to...
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Don’t Overlook the Fees

money drainSticker prices aren’t always what they seem. Too often consumers end up paying more than the face value of items due to hidden costs. Here are some pesky fees that deserve extra scrutiny:  Telecommunications fees. These extra fees won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has tried to decipher a telephone bill. They include monthly access fees, upgrade fees, overage fees and more. The Consumer Federation of America recently published a...
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Tips for Buying a Home

number of U.S. house sales Are you planning to buy a home this year?  As shown in the chart below, the rate of home buying dropped during the Great Recession but has picked up pace in the last few years. Current mortgage interest rates are still low, so now may be a good time to purchase a home if you’re in the market. As the Federal Reserve increases benchmark interest rates in the coming months, it’s likely that mortgage...
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Resources for Navigating FAFSA Updates

graduatesFamilies that have tried completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) recently have discovered that it’s gotten harder. In March, a valuable IRS tool that parents use to file the application suddenly disappeared from the FAFSA website. The Data Retrieval Tool allows families to pre-populate the FAFSA with information from their tax returns stored at the Internal Revenue Service. When completing the FAFSA, a parent can...
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Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

parachute of moneyAre you getting a tax refund this year? Through the first week of April, most American taxpayers were owed a refund. Of the nearly 101 million tax returns filed, 80.2 million were due a tax refund averaging $2,851. If you don’t yet have a plan for your refund, here are some suggestions: Contribute to an Individual Retirement Account. For most Americans, the Roth Individual Retirement Account will be the best IRA option....
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15 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Questions to Ask Your Financial AdvisorThe federal regulation that was intended to protect retirement investors from dubious financial advice is in jeopardy. The April implementation of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule that was six years in the making may be postponed. The purpose of the rule is to require financial professionals to act in the best interest of their clients. That might seem like something that isn’t...
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Don’t Make This Mistake With Your College Loans

The average debt that college students are graduating with continues to rise. Nearly seven out of 10 graduating seniors in 2015 left college with student debt, according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). The average debt of the Class of 2015 was just over $30,000. That’s a four percent rise over the previous year and represents a historic high. Borrowers repaying the average debt will face college loan payments of more than $300 a month for 10 years. Nineteen percent of the college debt came from private lenders, as well as state programs, while the rest...
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Is There Still Time to Contribute to Your IRA or Roth IRA for 2016?

Opportunity If you would like to maximize your tax-deferred assets and you have not fully funded your traditional IRA or Roth IRA for 2016, you have until April 18 to make a contribution, since the usual tax filing date of April 15 falls on a holiday weekend this year. For those under the age of 50, the maximum you can contribute for 2016 (as well as 2017) is $5,500; if you are 50 or older you can contribute $6,500...
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Beware of These Two Tax Scams

looking at taxesCompleting your tax return every year is a hard enough task without worrying about tax scams. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scam artists out there who have ripped off countless Americans. Here are two common fraudulent tax schemes to be aware of:  1. Impersonation of Internal Revenue Service agents.  You may have heard stories about taxpayers getting automated telephone calls or emails from thieves claiming to be...
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