Take The Equifax Data Breach Very Seriously. Take These 5 Steps.

 

You don’t want identity theft.  Believe me.

One of the scariest moments of my life was when my data was stolen. A woman walked around Sacramento with a drivers license with her picture and my data.  Since she had my Social Security number and date of birth, along with false documents, she opened up instant credit (or tried to) with over 15 retailers including Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Home Depot.

The police recommended I report this to all three credit reporting agencies.  When I tried to create an account with TransUnion online, I was told that I already had an account but it was locked out.

A shiver of fear went up my spine. I’d never been on the TransUnion site before.

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5 Ways Your HSA Can Unlock Benefits In Retirement

 

Aging is inevitable. There are things we can do to stay healthy, but let’s face it: Sometime in the future, our hearing, sight, and even the quality of our teeth will start to diminish.

 

That knowledge probably makes you want to set aside funds now for your (basically guaranteed) health expenses in the future. A Health Savings Account (HSA) is the perfect account for that purpose.  

 

An HSA has triple tax benefits. Contributions are pre-tax, the account value grows tax-deferred, and “qualified” distributions—those used for medical expenses—can be withdrawn free of income taxes.  

 

If you have a high-deductible medical plan, you may qualify for a health savings account. The IRS allows individuals to put aside $3,400 and families to put aside $6,750 in 2017. The year you turn age 55, you can add another $1,000 as a “catch-up” contribution (even if you’ve always maxed out your account).

 

Even if you don’t need to use your HSA for out-of-pocket medical expenses now, you may want to let your balance grow for the future to cover these common medical costs:  

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5 Money Moves To Make 5 Years Before You Retire

 

 

Retiring is a decision you usually can’t undo.

Your employer has most certainly made plans to replace you with a successor who’s been waiting in the wings. So this isn’t one of those choices where you can come back and say, “I’ve changed my mind.”  

Retirement planning is complex; there are so many moving parts that it can be a challenge to know if you’ve done enough. You run retirement calculators, rebalance your investment portfolio, and get a second opinion from an unbiased financial planner. All these steps are positive! But there are a few more to take.

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Exercise Your Brain: Take The 4-Word-Story Challenge

 

Many locals in Park City, Utah will tell you, “I came for the winters but stayed for the summers.”

There is so much to do in Park City in the summer; hiking, mountain biking, outdoor festivals, concerts, and so much more. In fact, there is almost too much to do if you live here full time.

My furniture carries a thin layer of dust, as my living room only gets a quick vacuum on the weekends. I’d much rather be out enjoying the beautiful summer days in the mountains than being indoors.

I asked a few locals to share what makes them happy in the summers at Deer Valley Resort in a “four-word-story.” This is an idea I picked up from writer, Maya Kachroo Levine, who collected stories from people of all ages on what made them really happy. Why don’t we try it here in Park City?

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Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Before I Retire?

 

Many people, including me, dream of having a “mortgage burning” party the week they retire. The very thought of making my last mortgage payment makes me jump for joy. No mortgage payment means peace of mind, freedom and a strong sense of security.

But is it a false sense of security?

Given today’s low interest rate environment, it might make sense to hold onto a mortgage, since the cost of money is relatively inexpensive. With the uncertainty around health care costs, maybe it’s not smart to tie up assets in an illiquid investment.

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Big Money Wasters: Break These 10 Expensive Habits Today

 

While we may have goals to build a solid emergency fund, buy a home, retire early, or pay off debt, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

Let’s face it — we all make poor money choices. Sometimes we may even be sabotaging our finances unconsciously. We are only human, after all.

Breaking those bad financial habits can get us closer to meeting our goals.

Here are a few to avoid:

  1. Letting groceries go to waste because you picked up takeout on the way home.

I have to raise my hand here and say “guilty,” because I’ve done this many times in the past. When you are hungry and tired after a long day at work, it is tempting to pick up food on the way rather than taking the time to cook.

Financial Planner tip: Plan meals ahead with a weekly system. Add “take out” to the meal plan on certain days when you know you won’t want to cook. Set up the slow cooker or make extra meals and freeze them to make weeknight dinners easy.

Check out Just a Girl and Her Blog for some free printable weekly meal plans.

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5 Powerful Money Lessons To Teach Your Daughters

 

When you teach your children about money, you have to be aware of the unspoken messages you impart to them — especially to your daughters.

My parents always told me that the sky was the limit, and that I could be anything I wanted — but their actions told me something different. When my brother was 12 years old, he was gifted 200 shares of stock for his birthday. When I turned 12 the following year, I was filled with anticipation of receiving my very own shares. But none came.

I am sure I received a wonderful present for my 12th birthday, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what that gift was. All I remember is that I didn’t get stock shares like my brother did. The unspoken message I heard was, “Investing is for boys.”

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Missing Money: How I Found $140 In Five Minutes And You Can, Too

 

Our financial lives can get complicated, and sometimes things slip through the cracks.

I forgot about an old account when I moved from California to Utah a few years ago. I kept $140 in a checking account at a credit union to maintain membership, since credit unions often have great auto loan rates. The account slipped my mind, and I never notified them that I had moved.

I often run “missing money” searches for my clients, and for fun, I ran one for myself. Lo and behold, I got a hit! I found that old checking account. So I called them to prove my identity, and they sent me a check for a little over $140.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, in 2015 $3.2 billion was returned to its rightful owners by unclaimed property administrators.

Could you unknowingly be owed money?

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