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Resources / Education

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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Should I sign up for an identity theft protection service?

Unfortunately, data breaches are now normal, everyday occurrences in our society. As a result, many companies are offering services to help you protect your personal information. If you want an extra layer of protection, an identity theft protection service is a good option. However, the term “identity theft protection service” can be misleading. The reality is that no one service can safeguard all of your personal information from identity theft. What most of these companies actually provide are identity…

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For College Savings, 529 Plans Are Hard to Beat

Raising kids is hard enough, so why not make things easier for yourself when it comes to saving for college? Ideally, you want a savings vehicle that doesn’t impose arbitrary income limits on eligibility; lets you contribute a little or a lot, depending on what else happens to be going on financially in your life at the moment; lets you set up automatic, recurring contributions from your checking account so you can put your savings effort on autopilot; and…

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Take This Quiz: The Social Security Retirement Earnings Test

Can you work and receive Social Security retirement benefits at the same time? Yes, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply an earnings test. Part or all of your monthly benefit may be withheld if you earn too much. To help avoid surprises, take this quiz to find out what you know — and don’t know — about Social Security earnings test rules. QUESTIONS 1. The retirement earnings test applies only if you are receiving Social Security benefits…

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How to Give Like a Billionaire When You Don’t Have Billions to Give

Since Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge in 2010, more than 200 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and couples have committed to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic or charitable causes. Although the Giving Pledge only invites billionaires to join, “it is inspired by the example set by millions of people at all income levels who give generously — and often at great personal sacrifice — to make the world a better…

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Four Tips for Increasing Your Retirement Dollars

1.          Don’t Cash Out Retirement Plans When Changing Employment When you leave a job, the vested benefits in your retirement plan are an enticing source of money. It may be difficult to resist the urge to take that money as cash, particularly if retirement is many years away. If you do decide to cash out, understand that you will very likely be required to pay federal income taxes, state income taxes, and a 10 percent penalty if under age…

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