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What are some strategies for paying off credit card debt?

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to get caught up in the cycle of credit card debt. In fact, it’s become a growing problem for many Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. credit card payments reached 111.1 billion in 2016, up 7.4% from 2015.1 If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card debt balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate your credit card debt altogether: Pay off cards with the highest…

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What are some tips for creating a budget and sticking to it?

It’s a common problem for many individuals — wondering exactly where your paycheck goes each month. After paying expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and credit card bills, you may find little left to put toward anything else. Creating a budget is the first key to successfully manage your finances. Knowing exactly how you are spending your money each month can set you on a more clear path to pursue your financial goals. If you become sidetracked when it…

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Government Report Details Household Finances

Every three years, the Federal Reserve sponsors the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which collects information on the financial state of U.S. households. The survey is one of the nation’s primary sources of information on the financial condition of different types of households. Here are a few interesting observations gleaned from the most recent surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016, with the latter comparing changes during that timeframe. Income The typical household’s median family income rose 10% between 2013…

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Will a government pension reduce my Social Security benefits?

If you earned a government pension from a job not subject to Social Security tax withholding (“noncovered employment”) and are also eligible for Social Security benefits through a job where Social Security taxes were withheld, two provisions might reduce your benefits: the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO). The WEP affects how a worker’s Social Security benefit is calculated. If you’re subject to the WEP, your benefit is calculated using a modified formula, possibly resulting…

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How does working affect Social Security retirement benefits?

If you’re thinking about working as long as possible to increase your retirement savings, you may be wondering whether you can receive Social Security retirement benefits while you’re still employed. The answer is yes. But depending on your age, earnings from work may affect the amount of your Social Security benefit. If you’re younger than full retirement age and make more than the annual earnings limit ($17,040 in 2018), part of your benefits will be withheld, reducing the amount…

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College Saving: How Does a 529 Plan Compare to a Roth IRA?

529 plans were created 22 years ago, in 1996, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Roth IRAs were created a year later, in 1997, to give people a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. But a funny thing happened along the way — some parents adapted the Roth IRA as a college savings tool. Tax benefits and use of funds Roth IRAs and 529 plans have a similar tax modus operandi. Both are funded with…

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What are some tips for reviewing my Medicare coverage during Medicare Open Enrollment?

During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15 through December 7, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage that will be effective on January 1, 2018. If you’re satisfied with your current coverage, you don’t need to make changes, but it’s a good idea to review your options. During Open Enrollment, you can: Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage…

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Is the Social Security Administration still mailing Social Security Statements?

Your Social Security Statement provides important information about your Social Security record and future benefits. For several years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) mailed these Social Security statements every five years to people starting at age 25, but due to budgetary concerns, the SSA has stopped mailing Social Security Statements to individuals under age 60. Workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits will still receive paper statements in the mail, unless they opt to sign…

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Examining the Taxpaying Population: Where Do You Fit In?

Every quarter, the Statistics of Income Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes financial statistics obtained from tax and information returns that have been filed with the federal government. Recently published reports reflect data gleaned from 2014 individual federal income tax returns. These reports offer a snapshot of how the U.S. population breaks down as taxpaying population. The big picture For tax year 2014, U.S. taxpayers filed roughly 139.6 million individual income tax returns.1 Total adjusted gross income…

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Managing Debt While Saving for Retirement

It’s a catch-22: You feel that you should focus on paying down debt, but you also want to save for retirement. It may be comforting to know you’re not alone. According to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, 18% of today’s workers describe their debt level as a major problem, while 41% say it’s a minor problem. And workers who say that debt is a problem are also more likely to feel stressed about their retirement savings prospects.1 Perhaps…

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