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Archive for 'Make Money' Category

6 signs your date is a financial dud

Published 1/28/11  (Modified 3/22/11)

6 signs your date is a financial dud By MoneyBlueBook

Dating is like walking on a minefield: You never know what your next step will bring. Now to make it even harder, dating experts are adding a new twist.

It used to be as easy as intuition, dinner and a movie, but now experts say that financial compatibility is an important factor in finding the right person. If turns out that if the man or woman you are dating is a financial mess, they can take you down with them.

If you survived the dating battlefield like me and are now married, you probably have some of your own war stories. But if you are still out there in dating never-never land, you may need a little help. I can give you a few tips on how to figure out if your date is a financial dud.

You just have to read the signs:

1. Overspends like crazy

If your date keeps trying to impress you with how much everything they own costs, you might think twice about your future with them. Wild spending can lead to all kinds of financial problems as witnessed by the record number of mortgage defaults and credit card delinquencies seen in the last couple of years. If your date seems overly impressed by their own spending, it may be that they are forgetting an important fact: Eventually they have to pay for it all.

2. Leases to impress

Although it is not a set rule, in most

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How to use rewards credit cards

Published 12/3/10  (Modified 12/12/13)

By Jim Sloan

I never really paid much attention to the rewards programs offered by different credit card companies. I was raised to use credit cards only for emergencies and not for everyday use, so my sole criteria for getting a card was that the interest rate be as low as possible.

But then a friend of mine told me he was planning a trip to China, and was going to pay for his plane ticket through the rewards he was earning on his credit card.

"I'm paying for everything with my card," he said. "All my monthly bills - the rent, the groceries, the phone bill, everything. Then at the end of the month, I just write a check to the credit card company instead of eight or 10 checks to all these other places."

And it worked. After several months, my friend and his wife were able to get the tickets for next to nothing--all thanks to the judicious use of their credit card.

The fine print of rewards cards

Even if you're not planning a trip to China, this approach can work for anyone, provided you keep a few things in mind as you decide which rewards credit card programs works best for you:

  • Rewards cards usually carry higher interest rates than non-rewards cards. That means if you're not paying off the balance every month, your interest payments will quickly exceed your rewards.
  • Look for rewards that you'll use. The points you earn
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Are you investing in China yet?

Published 11/17/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

Are you investing in China yet? By Clark Schultz

The Chinese Revolution

If you are like me, when you think about China you almost get dizzy. It's hard to imagine over one billion people living in a country with a market for goods and services that is literally exploding as the country modernizes. By 2014 the International Monetary Fund estimates that over 10 percent of the world's GDP will be accounted for by China. Now that's an economic revolution.

You just can't help but wonder what kind of investment opportunities exist in China for individual investors like us?

Should you invest in China?

Before we discuss investment strategies, we should consider if it's unpatriotic to invest abroad. My answer is a simple no. First of all, if you invest in China and earn dividends or take profits, that money comes right back to the United States. Also, in the global economy countries rely on each other. We need the Chinese to keep buying our foreign debt and they need us to keep buying their goods.

China has a lot of long-term economic potential. This means that the earlier in your life you can start investing in China, the better off you may be. Even just a few dollars from your monthly paycheck could mean a big payoff at retirement if growth in China is as strong as projected. If you have an IRA account, investing in China may be even more advantageous due to the tax advantages and the power

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The Rewards of "Rewards" Checking Accounts

Published 11/9/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

The Rewards of By Marcia Passos Duffy

I have to laugh when I see the interest my bank deposits into my checking and savings accounts each month. It is barely worth the effort to add in the pennies (but I do).

But if you think, like I once did, that you are doomed to get low percentage rates on any money you have squirreled away in you bank, you are mistaken. You don't have to settle for miserly interest rates -- particularly if you have enough accumulated in your combined checking and savings accounts to open up a "rewards" checking account.

Rewards checking accounts are typically no-fee, no minimum deposit, and can earn up to 3 to 6 percent in annual percentage yield (APY). This is higher than most savings accounts, CDs, and even money market rates. What's the catch? Well, there are actually five.

The basics of a rewards checking account

To get the "reward" of a high interest rate checking account you do need to fulfill some basic conditions (banks may vary on conditions), but these are generally what's required:

  • 8-15 debit or signature transactions on your debit card per month. (ATM fees are reimbursed each month)
  • One direct deposit or direct bill pay each month.
  • Agree to only get electronic statements (no more paper statements).
  • Log into your account at least once a month.
  • Maintain a balance of less than $25,000 (some banks are higher, some lower).
  • One other important catch: The highest interest rates for rewards checking accounts are often given by local and regional banks, and credit

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    A quick guide for moving into mutual funds

    Published 11/5/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

    A quick guide for moving into mutual funds By Michele Lerner

    Like many people, the recession encouraged me to take a harder line with my budget. I'm definitely saving more and being more careful with spending.  But I'm also looking past just saving the money I already have -- I'm looking into earning it.

    This morning, I checked on the interest rate on my emergency savings account, and it turned out to be less than 0.5 percent, much lower than I realized! As a result, my next financial move will be to shift some of those savings into a fund where the interest is higher. I decided to do some research, and thought it might be helpful to those foraying into this higher return territory.

    From savings accounts to mutual funds

    While your basic emergency savings should stay intact in a fund where the money can be accessed quickly when necessary, as soon as that savings account has reached your target comfort level it is time to move into slightly riskier territory to increase the return on your money.

    Investors with a deep understanding of the stock market might feel ready to invest in individual stocks, but individuals who are new to the investment world tend to opt for a mutual fund. A mutual fund pools money from investors and builds a portfolio of investments within the fund, with the investors sharing in the gains or losses of the fund.

    The main reason new investors opt for mutual funds, besides their professional management,

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    2011 IRA contribution limits: 3 ways to maximize your retirement tax advantages

    Published 10/29/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

    2011 IRA contribution limits: 3 ways to maximize your retirement tax advantages By Richard Barrington

    Have you ever run a long-distance race?

    I find it useful to think of saving money like distance running. If you obsess over the total distance, then each step seems hopelessly insignificant in covering the necessary ground. If instead you just start making those steps, and concentrate on finding a comfortable and consistent pace, you'll find that before you know it, the distance will take care of itself.

    In other words, focus on the next step, because that is what you can most directly control.

    In terms of saving money, a great way to make that next step is with a contribution to an IRA -- either a traditional or a Roth IRA. To help you make that step, there are a few things you should know about IRAs, including important information on IRA contribution limitations for this year.

    1. Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limitations

    Both traditional and Roth IRAs have certain tax advantages, which will be discussed below in "Deciding on a traditional vs. a Roth IRA." However, for anyone considering starting an IRA this year or making continued contributions into an IRA account, it's critical to know that there are limits on how much you can contribute to IRAs each year.

    To start with the simple part, the basic contribution limits for both traditional and Roth IRAs are the same, and are unchanged for 2011. The only difference is that taxpayers who are aged 50 and over are allowed to make higher,

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