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How can I improve my credit report?

Most lenders use credit report information to evaluate the creditworthiness of potential borrowers. Borrowers with good credit are presumed to be more creditworthy and may find it easier to obtain a loan, often at a lower interest rate. You can do a number of things to help improve what’s on your credit report, including the following. Pay your bills on time. Your credit report provides information to lenders regarding your payment history. For the most part, a lender may…

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How can I lower my credit card debt?

If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate your credit card debt. Pay off cards with the highest interest rate first. If you have more than one card that carries an outstanding balance, one option is to prioritize your payments according to their interest rates. Send as large a payment as you can to the card with the highest interest rate and continue making payments…

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Closing Gaps in Your Insurance Coverage

Buying insurance is about sharing or shifting risk, but you may think you’re covered for specific losses when, in fact, you’re not. Here are some common coverage gaps to consider when reviewing your own insurance coverage. Life insurance In general, you want to have enough life insurance coverage (when coupled with savings and income) to allow your family to continue living the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed. But changing circumstances may leave a gap in your life insurance coverage….

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The SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals and Businesses

The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) is major legislation that was passed by Congress as part of a larger spending bill and signed into law by the president in December. Here are a few provisions that may affect you. Unless otherwise noted, the new rules apply to tax or plan years starting January 1, 2020. If you’re still saving for retirement To address increasing life expectancies, the new law repeals the prohibition on contributions…

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Tips for Targeting Your Retirement Savings Goal

What if you’re saving as much as you can, but still feel that your retirement savings goal is out of reach? As with many of life’s toughest challenges, it may help to focus less on the big picture and more on the details. Regularly review your assumptions Whether you use a simple online calculator or run a detailed analysis, your retirement savings goal is based on certain assumptions that will, in all likelihood, change. Inflation, rates of return, life…

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How Consumers Spend Their Money

Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on consumer spending patterns. According to the 2019 report, consumers spent an average of $61,224 in 2018.*           Share of Total Spending for the top 5 categories Housing 33% Transportation 16% Food 13% Insurance & Pension Contributions 12% Health Care 8% *Average annual expenditures per consumer unit. Consumer units include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, and…

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Could you survive a no-spend month?

Would you take on a 30-day challenge to spend money only on necessities such as rent, utilities, and groceries? During a no-spend month, many common activities — including dining out, buying movie or concert tickets, and shopping for clothes — are avoided at all costs. The idea behind a 30-day challenge is that the time period is just long enough to help change bad habits without seeming intolerable. If frugality isn’t normally your forte, closely scrutinizing your spending could…

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Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2020

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and various tax deduction, exclusion, exemption, and threshold amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2020. Employer retirement plans Employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans can defer up to $19,500 in compensation in 2020 (up from $19,000 in 2019); employees age 50 and older can defer up to an additional $6,500 in 2020 (up from $6,000…

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Hindsight Is 2020: What Will You Do Differently This Year?

According to a recent survey, 76% of Americans reported having at least one financial regret. Over half of this group said it had to do with savings: 27% didn’t start saving for retirement soon enough, 19% didn’t contribute enough to an emergency fund, and 10% wish they had saved more for college.1 The saving conundrum What’s preventing Americans from saving more? It’s a confluence of factors: stagnant wages over many years; the high cost of housing and college; meeting everyday…

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Socially Responsible Investing: Aligning Your Money with Your Values

Sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing (also called socially responsible investing) has been around for a long time, but growing interest has moved it into the mainstream. U.S. SRI assets reached $12 trillion in 2018, 38% more than in 2016. SRI investments now account for about one-fourth of all professionally managed U.S. assets.1 Surveys suggest that many people want their investment dollars to have a positive impact on society.2 Of course, personal values are subjective, and investors may have…

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