Estate Planning Basics: How to Get Started

Estate planning is about protecting the people you love, regardless of your age and income. That’s why everyone—not just the wealthy—needs to have a solid plan in place.  But what exactly is an estate plan, what should it include, and what might happen if you never get around to creating one? Knowing the answers to these questions can give you the basic tools you need to put together a solid plan... Continue reading

Financial Planning 101: How to Remain Realistic

An effective financial plan can help you live within your means, determine your long-term financial objectives and gather the funds you need to achieve those goals. These plans can provide a feeling of financial security and can offer you some control over your financial future. A solid financial plan starts with assessing the reality of your current financial situation to build long-term... Continue reading

Small Ways to Save Big Money

Often, the biggest budget-busters aren’t things like your mortgage. They’re the smaller expenditures that add up at month’s end, and required expenses such as insurance premiums that seem carved in stone. Both can usually be reduced if you’re determined to save a lot of money, but it may not happen overnight. Your savings might have to accumulate over time. Know What You Spend If you want... Continue reading

5 Questions to Ask Before Writing Your Will

Don’t leave behind a legacy of needless taxes, legal bills and disputes. Only a properly written will can ensure that the assets in your estate go where you want them to, from cash gifts to complex trusts. Answers to these basic questions can help protect your assets and your heirs. How should I express my intentions? Whether you draw up a will yourself or seek professional guidance, start by... Continue reading

10 Basic Principles of Financial Management

Organizing your finances is the first step to creating wealth. Credit cards, bank accounts, personal loans, brokerage accounts, mortgages, car loans and retirement accounts should to be tracked. Budgeting software can provide complete solutions to track all such accounts, make on-time payments and more. Jeff Morris, a certified public accountant in Bethesda, Maryland, points out: "Once you enter... Continue reading

Budgeting 101: Saving to Buy Your First House

Buying a home is the largest purchase many people will make during their lifetime, so it's important to have a clear idea of how you are going to pay for the home. Budgeting for your first home means saving enough for the down payment and other purchase costs, but also budgeting for life after you make the big move. Planning for a Down Payment Though it's possible to get a mortgage with a... Continue reading

Is Staying Single Better for Your Finances?

You know you're in love and you know you want to spend your life with your partner — but does getting married help your finances, or leave them worse off? Before you walk down the aisle and commit to each other “for richer or for poorer,” make sure you understand the financial ramifications of your nuptials. That knowledge will help you set out on a “for richer” journey together. The... Continue reading

Rich Rewards: The Best Deals for Your Credit Card Points

As an extra payoff for judicious use of credit cards, disciplined consumers may enjoy a bonus: Depending on the card program, paid bills accumulate points redeemable in rewards that range from electronics to stays at plush resort hotels. Banks, credit card companies, credit unions and other financial institutions use reward points to spur spending and loyalty. Nearly three fourths of all... Continue reading

6 Ways to Practice Efficient Money Management

Getting organized in the home is the first step in dealing with personal finances. This means setting up a desk or dedicated space for the time you'll be spending with household taxes, bills, banking and investments. Keep the paperwork separated in files and stored in a safe place away from traffic and bustle -- a small filing cabinet or even a sturdy banker's box will work. For stuff that you... Continue reading

Taking Financial Inventory: Examining Your Spending Habits

Understanding how and where you spend your money is a big step toward hitting your financial goals. Even if you do not fall victim to the problem of having "month left at the end of the money," you may not be mindfully spending or saving your income in ways that reflect what you really want. An analysis of your spending habits can result in a low-maintenance and achievable way to watch your... Continue reading