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November 27, 2013

Charitable Gift Giving

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year that brings feelings of wanting to "give back" to our community and wanting to make a difference in someone's life. Unfortunately, thieves oftentimes take advantage of this goodwill and may pose as a real charity in order to steal money or to get private information to commit identity theft. Below is a list of how thieves prey on their potential victims and what you can do to avoid being a victim this holiday season.

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June 17, 2013

Summer Travel Tips

Whether you're going away for a quick weekend get-away or going on an extended dream vacation, make sure you take care of things at home before you take off. Although you may have a checklist of items to take on your trip, many people forget the things that need to be done at home before you actually leave. Taking care of these items before you leave will help you to be able to relax more when you are at your final destination. Here is a checklist:

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March 26, 2013

Traveling Tips - Getting There Comfortably

Planning a trip soon? Everyone gets excited about the prospect of planning a trip - your ultimate destination, your hotel accommodations, your side trips or excursions, and for the women - what are you going to wear??!!! No one really gives thought to how to stay healthy and comfortable while en route so you can enjoy your vacation. Whether you're driving several hours or flying long distances you should keep the following tips in mind so you can thoroughly enjoy our trip when you get there:

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February 22, 2013

Tips for your Upcoming Cruise

As springtime edges closer, so does the thought of taking a vacation -- possibly a vacation cruise.... One of the best parts of taking a vacation cruise is that typically everything is taken care of for you and all you have to do is show up and enjoy! However, if you're not prepared for the unexpected, your dream cruise could be your vacation disaster. Do some simple planning in advance, so you are ready for anything. Below are some helpful tips:

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September 10, 2012

Overseas Travel Tips

Are you planning on traveling overseas in the near future? You might assume that knowing a few key phrases of the language for the country you are traveling to might be enough. However, have you ever thought about the need for an emergency physician referral or a much-needed up-to-the minute alert on a local epidemic or a security threat? These are real issues that could happen to you and as the old saying goes: " It's better to be safe than sorry". To ensure a safe trip overseas, take a look at these safety tips.

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September 1, 2011

IRS Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses

The Internal Revenue Service has disaster assistance and emergency relief available for those who have suffered as a result of Hurricane Irene. There are tax provisions that may help both individuals and businesses recover financially from the impact of disasters, such as Hurricane Irene, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area.

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November 24, 2010

Marriage and Money

If married couples are unable to agree on basic money issues, they can become a constant source of conflict. To help avoid money conflicts within a marriage, consider these tips:

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October 27, 2010

How to Start Saving

Have you heard about the principle of human inertia? It's basically that we tend to keep doing what we have always done in the past and shy away from doing something new. The principle may work against you at first. If you're not used to saving money, it can be hard for you to get started. But once you start saving and then gain some momentum with your new saving habits, it will be relatively easy for you to maintain. If saving money is something that you have never done before, or if you are currently not saving enough money, below are several tips to get you started:

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September 15, 2010

Teaching College Students to Handle Credit Cards

Although the recently enacted Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 imposed credit card restrictions, credit cards continue to be a great convenience for both college students and their parents. Under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, if you are under age 21, you will need to show that you have the income to make required payments or get a co-signer age 21 or older who has the ability to make such payments. The advantages of credit cards are many: it reduces the need to carry cash; enables students to purchase books, clothing, and other incidentals; and provides a ready source for emergency funds. There is also another advantage -- students who handle their credit cards responsibly have a head start on establishing a good credit history that can help them gain access to lower-interest credit after graduation.

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September 7, 2010

Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010

On March 30, 2010, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was signed into law, representing a massive overhaul of the health care system that will affect almost all taxpayers, many employers, and much of the health care industry. However, the provisions will be implemented over a number of years. Here is a summary of the major provisions by implementation date:

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July 14, 2010

How to Evaluate P/E Ratios

Price/earnings (P/E) ratios are a common measure of stock value, both for individual stocks and the overall market. Calculating a P/E ratio is straightforward -- it is simply the price of a single share of stock divided by the company's per share earnings. For example, a stock selling at $50 per share with $2 per share of earnings would have a P/E ratio of 25. However, P/E ratios can be calculated using different earnings numbers. Trailing P/E ratios, which are typically reported in newspapers, use earnings per share for the most recent four quarters, while forward P/E ratios use forecasts of future earnings per share.

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May 12, 2010

Advice for Children in their First Full Time Job

Your child has finally finished college and started his/her first full-time job. What is the most important financial advice you can give your child?

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April 24, 2010

Pay Yourself First

The advice sounds simple enough -- to force yourself to save regularly, treat those savings as a bill to yourself and pay that bill first every month. But when you're faced with a stack of bills that includes your mortgage payment, your car lease, and groceries to feed the kids, you're likely to skip paying yourself for at least another month. Unfortunately, those months can add up with little in the way of savings. If you're looking for ways to start paying yourself first, consider the following:

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March 29, 2010

Assessing Your Risk Tolerance

Typically, before deciding how much to allocate to different investment categories, you answer several questions about your tolerance for risk. While it can be difficult to judge how you will react to different scenarios, the recent stock market fluctuations have provided a real-world test of theoretical answers. Many people have been surprised to find out that their tolerance for risk is not as high as they thought. That's not unusual. When the markets are performing well, it's easy to think you have a high tolerance for risk. But when the markets start to decline, our tolerance for losing money is not very high.

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March 11, 2010

Caught in the Financial Middle

At a time when baby boomer couples should be saving for their own retirements, many feel squeezed by competing financial needs. Having started families later than past generations, their children may just now be entering college or still living at home. At the same time, aging parents may need financial assistance. It is a dilemma that is likely to become more common in the years to come.

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March 4, 2010

The Problem with Using Average Returns

When setting up an investment program, the assumed rate of return is typically an average return for some historical period. While that is generally viewed as a conservative approach, there are some problems with using an average return:

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February 25, 2010

Finding Money to Save

Everyone knows that they should be saving at least 10% of their gross income for retirement, but that can seem like an impossible goal after paying all your bills. However, don't just figure that goal is unachievable without first looking at the after-tax cost.

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February 22, 2010

Updating Your Documents

Whether this is your first, second, or subsequent marriage, take a look at major legal documents to see if changes are needed. Even if you've been married for a while, it's not a bad idea to review these documents:

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January 28, 2010

Calculate Your Personal Financial Ratios

When reviewing the financial health of a company, it's common to look at financial ratios, such as earnings per share, price/earnings ratios, book value, and total return. The reason financial ratios are so popular is they give you a means to evaluate financial information, while allowing you to track changes over time.

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January 25, 2010

Why Budgeting is Necessary

A budget serves as a road map for your spending, helping you find ways to save more money for your financial goals. For a one-month period, keep track of every dollar you spend, whether by cash, check, or credit card. Break down those expenditures by category and total them for the month. Are you surprised by how much small expenditures add up over a month? Did you realize how much you were spending on things like dining out, clothing, and impulse purchases?

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January 20, 2010

Teaching Financial Lessons to Children

Even though it seems like money and financial topics are discussed everywhere, these are not concepts your children will learn automatically. Some of the most valuable lessons you can teach your children involve basic money concepts, such as the value of saving and investing. Below are seven strategies you can use to help teach these concepts:

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January 5, 2010

Tips for Achieving Your New Year's Resolutions

How often have you drawn up an ambitious list of New Year's resolutions, only to find you've given up on them after a few weeks? Don't let that happen to you in 2010. If you want to make significant strides toward achieving your financial goals, determine why your resolutions have failed in the past and find ways to overcome those obstacles.

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December 23, 2009

Reassess Your Portfolio During Market Volatility

The recent market volatility has been more pronounced and of longer duration than many expected, making it difficult to determine how to adjust your portfolio. Should you leave it alone, hoping the market will quickly rebound to much higher levels? Or should you sell everything and stick your money in cash accounts? The appropriate answer probably lies somewhere between those two extremes. What you should do is thoroughly review your portfolio and make any necessary adjustments. Consider these tips when analyzing your portfolio:

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December 16, 2009

The Recession's Impact on Higher-Income Families

It's commonly believed that recessions impact lower-income families more than higher-income families. However, a recent study by economists at Northwestern University found that the relative income loss during recessions for the top 10% of the population is 26% greater than the average household, while it is double the average household for the top 1% of the population. It is still probably tougher for the average family to deal with income declines, but the impact on the economy is certainly greater when higher-income families lose income. Consider the following (Source: Newsweek, July 20, 2009):

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October 24, 2009

Organizing Your Financial Accounts

It's not uncommon to accumulate things over the years, without taking time to straighten them out periodically. That applies to our finances as well as to our possessions. How many credit cards do you carry? How many stocks and bonds, brokerage accounts, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) do you own? It's not just a matter of finding time to keep track of all these different financial assets. Often, these assets are acquired without a clear-cut strategy, so you may own assets with similar investment objectives or that are not compatible with your financial goals. When organizing your finances you should consider these four steps:

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September 17, 2009

Segregate Your Financial Goals

Your willingness to assume risk with your investments is not necessarily a static concept. You may be less willing to take risk with investments designated for an essential financial goal, while you may be more willing to take risk for nonessential goals. However, those varying risk levels may be difficult to assess if all of your investments are commingled in one account.

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July 24, 2009

Saving Money is the Best Way to Reach Your Financial Goals

The whole point of an investment program is to accumulate sufficient funds to meet your financial goals. So what is the most fundamental investment principle: selecting the proper investments, accumulating the correct combination of assets, or timing the market to avoid corrections? Actually, the principle may not even sound like an investment principle at all. To help ensure you meet your financial goals, you must save significant sums of money on a consistent basis. That one habit will do more to help you reach your financial goals than anything else. The sooner you start this habit, the less you need to save. Consider the following example.

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July 16, 2009

Job Search Scams

Looking for employment? Watch out for scammers. The economic downturn has left millions without work and vulnerable to unscrupulous who are hoping to rip-off desperate people looking for work. The Colorado Attorney General John Suthers recently issued a consumer advisory warning of an uptick in the number of reports of fraudulent job listings on Craiglist and other popular job-search Web sites and the California Society of CPAs also addressed the issue.

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June 29, 2009

Develop Good Investing Habits

Good investing habits are needed to ensure that you follow through on your investment plan. Below are several tips to sharpen your investing habits:

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June 9, 2009

How to Stretch Your Salary

In the current economic climate, many employers are cautious about increasing expenditures. That means your best bet for the near term is to make your current salary stretch farther. Some tips to consider include:

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May 1, 2009

Get Your Finances in Order

You'll probably need significant investments to reach your financial goals. But before worrying about investing, you should get your finances in order. Consider these tips:

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April 3, 2009

Reevaluate Your Portfolio

With the recent market declines, it may be painful to reevaluate your portfolio in depth, especially if your portfolio contains large losses. But this review is necessary to see if changes are needed to your portfolio. Below are 4 factors to consider:

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March 12, 2009

How to Determine a Reasonable Rate of Return

How do you know if you're saving enough for a future goal? You must get three factors right: how much do you need; when do you need the money; and, how much you'll earn on your investments. You can then calculate how much you should save on an annual basis.

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February 17, 2009

Financial Road Map

Are you making progress toward your financial goals? Are your finances in order? Are you prepared for a financial emergency? If you're not sure, take time to thoroughly assess your finances so you have a road map for your financial life:

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February 13, 2009

Raising Financially Responsible Children

It's not unusual to have concerns about the impact money may have on your children's lifestyles. Even beyond basic financial responsibility, you want to make sure that wealth does not remove your children's incentives to work hard, to pursue meaningful careers, or to care about other people. How do you help your children obtain the values you'd like them to have? Consider these five tips:

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February 9, 2009

Identity Theft Incidents on the Rise

A new report released by Javelin Strategy and Research shows that identity theft was on the rise in 2008, but many consumers may be surprised to learn that the number one source of stolen information had nothing to do with the internet. In a press release, Javelin revealed that 9.9 million consumers were victimized by identity fraud during the year just ended, 22 percent more than in 2007. Yet the company says, despite the average take for thieves being $4,896, the average cost that was born by the consumer for having their identity stolen has fallen dramatically from $718 per incident to $496. This is likely because people are paying more attention to their financial transaction records and are catching the fraudulent charges earlier.

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February 6, 2009

Be Prepared for a Layoff

In these economic times, job security is a notion from the past. All workers should be prepared financially for the possibility of a job layoff. Here are a few tips to help with that process:

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December 12, 2008

The Habit of Saving Money

Habits are all about the principle of human inertia: we tend to keep doing what we've always done and shy away from doing something new. That principle may work against you at first. If you're not used to saving money, it can be hard to get started. But once you gain some inertia in your new saving habits, it'll be relatively easy to keep it up.

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November 19, 2008

Your Next Vehicle: Purchase or Lease

If you're in the market for a new car, chances are you're trying to decide if you should purchase or lease your next vehicle. Although many people prefer leasing over purchasing or vice versa, there are advantages and disadvantages of both, so your final decision will depend totally on what exactly you're looking for. By weighing the pros and cons of both, you should be able to make a decision that you and your family will be satisfied with for years to come.

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November 7, 2008

Financial Lessons for Kids

It's a common enough goal -- to live a better life than your parents. While you may be able to say you accomplished that goal, how likely is it that your children will be able to say the same thing? To help them with that pursuit, make sure to teach them these important financial lessons:

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October 13, 2008

Prepare your Spouse to Handle the Family Finances

In many families, one spouse takes primary responsibility for the family's finances, doing everything from paying bills to making investment decisions to reviewing insurance policies. If that spouse dies first, the other spouse may have difficulty taking over these tasks. Thus, as the primary money matters person in your marriage, one of your most important financial duties is to prepare your spouse to handle the family's finances. Some strategies to consider include:

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October 3, 2008

Smoking Cessation Products: Totally Worth it or Totally Wasteful?

Everyone knows that smoking is an extremely bad habit with many possible health risks. Unfortunately, many Americans smoke at least a couple cigarettes on a regular basis. Some claim that smoking helps calm their nerves, others say it helps curb their appetites and keep their weight in check, but whatever the reason people smoke, most desire to quit. It isn't always quite so easy to quit, though, and although some are able to easily give up their habit, others struggle greatly. Fortunately, there are many products that can aid you in your quest to stop smoking, but the question is, do these products really help or will you just be throwing away your money?

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September 29, 2008

Getting Your Money's Worth with Online Dating Services

With the busy lifestyles of most singles these days, it's oftentimes difficult for them to find the time to date. Unfortunately, due to their packed schedules, many choose to remain single rather than take the time to find that special someone. If you find yourself in such a situation and feel you don't have time to meet someone special, there is no reason to settle for loneliness. The solution to your problem may be to sign up for an online dating service. Despite what many people think, online dating services can offer a fun and convenient way for you to meet a companion. Unlike outdated dating services, online dating services enable you to have a positive dating experience. You set your particular preferences, which means that you'll only be sent perspective dates that meet your criteria.

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September 26, 2008

Unclaimed Cash: Does Your State Owe You Money?

With the economy in its current negative state, just about everyone could use some extra money to help pay off some bills. Some people may feel silly for sitting around, wishing for "unexpected" checks to show up in the mail, but believe it or not, it's not as farfetched as some people may think. Money from one or more sources may be owed to you, money that you may have forgotten you were entitled to, or even money that you never had any knowledge of. What happens is a company, oftentimes a bank, insurance company, former employer, etc. realizes years later that you are entitled to receive a certain amount of money for whatever reason. If the agency is unable to contact you at your last known address, eventually, because of state laws, the money must be turned over to the state. Unclaimed items aren't limited to cash, as there may be unclaimed property as well.

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September 22, 2008

Cable Television versus Satellite: Which is Really the Best Deal?

With traditional televisions soon becoming obsolete, many people who don't already have some type of cable or satellite service will be forced to subscribe to one, unless they opt for a special converter box. If you will soon face the decision of whether to subscribe to cable or satellite service, one important determining factor will probably be the cost. According to the outlandish commercials advertising cable service for the popular Comcast Cable, cable service is superior to satellite as far as price and service. When it comes to pricing, there really isn't a big difference in cable and satellite service. Both services offer similar packages and channels for about the same price. The more channels you want, of course the more money you'll pay. Satellite service typically offers some of the premium movie channels as part of a lower-priced package, as opposed to cable, but otherwise there is no big difference in prices. You can always choose to take advantage of the specials that cable and satellite providers offer for new customers, and save a great deal initially.

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September 20, 2008

Steps to a Financially Healthy Marriage

Money is one of the great battlegrounds of marriage. It's the factor responsible for the most divorces, and according to a survey by Money magazine, the subject married couples argue about more than any other topic except one (that honor is reserved for household chores).

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September 18, 2008

Some Perspective on the Current Financial Crisis

The current housing and banking crises are both unique and severe. Billions of dollars of wealth have disappeared over the last year, in some cases in just a matter of days. Companies that have been household names have gone bankrupt with others on the verge of failing as this article is being written. Make no mistake; these are scary times with both professionals and the public wondering if their money is safe. Is this the end of the U.S. financial system?

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September 15, 2008

What Has Happened to Savings in America?

What has happened to Savings in America? A number of factors may be affecting America's shrinking savings rate such as: the wealth effect, declining interest rates, and easier credit options. What can we do? Consider the following:

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July 14, 2008

Preventing Financial Problems for Your Child's Future

Compared to 25 or 30 years ago, more and more college students and those under the age of 25 are getting into debt at alarming rates. Some college students don't have the money to pay for school, forcing them to work fulltime jobs just to put themselves through school while simultaneously supporting themselves. This makes them more likely to incur debt that they often aren't able to pay, which leads to bad credit and often even bankruptcy. Many are maxing out credit cards in order to pay for living expenses and other important bills, yet they have no means of repaying them. The good news is that by being a good financial role model, you can help prevent such a dire future for your child if you work hard at it.

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July 4, 2008

What Is Your Investment Risk Tolerance

Your individual risk tolerance will significantly affect the look of your portfolio, so you should have a good understanding of what it means and how it is applied to your investments.

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June 20, 2008

How to Develop a Budget

Almost no one enjoys the process of analyzing and budgeting expenditures, but inefficient and wasted expenditures can be major impediments to accomplishing your financial goals. It is difficult to manage your money if you don't know how much you have or where it is going. Consider these steps when developing your budget:

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April 25, 2008

How to stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

No matter how hard they work, many people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck, which means that they spend all or just about all of their paycheck each payday, just to make ends meet. People who live paycheck to paycheck are often depressed and feel that they are in a rut they just can’t get out of. Unforeseen expenses, such as a car breakdown, household repairs, etc. can really cause a financial crisis. If this describes you and your current life, the good news is that you can get out of that rut you’re in, and you can start saving money, going on trips— living. By following easy life-changing strategies you can greatly reduce the stress in your life, as well as improve its quality.

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April 4, 2008

Reevaluate Your Portfolio Annually

The market changes. Companies change. Investments change. Your needs and goals change. That’s why it’s important to check, at least once a year , if your investment portfolio also needs to change. Here is a disciplined approach to reevaluating your portfolio.

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February 27, 2008

Preventing Identity Theft

Unfortunately, a large number of Americans have been victims of identity theft this past year, alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, over 42 percent of annual consumer complaints are due to this damaging crime. It can damage your bank account, credit, and many other aspects of your financial life. Identity theft can take years to recover from, and surprisingly is often committed by someone that the victim knows. A thief in the family is able to obtain your personal information easier than a stranger. So if you're aware that someone you now is a thief, by all means, keep your private information out of their reach. As scary as it may be, identity theft can be kept to a minimum, and even prevented in most cases, as long as you practice the following easy steps.

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February 13, 2008

Financial Decisions Affecting Your Children

Caught up in the day-to-day routine of raising your children, it's easy to forget to take care of other financial decisions involving them, including: naming a guardian for your children; insurance coverage; saving for college; and more.

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January 9, 2008

Narrowing the Gender Wage Gap

For decades, we have heard that men earn more than women for the same type of work. While that is still true, the gap between wages for men and women has narrowed significantly. In the 1960s, women earned approximately 60 cents for every dollar men earned. By 2006, that amount had increased to 81 cents (Source: Economic Letter, May 2007). More sophisticated analysis that accounts for variables such as education, work experience, occupation, and family factors, however, show even greater progress in reducing the wage gap. For instance, one study found that women between the ages of 35 and 43 earn 97.5% of what men earn (Source: Economic Letter, May 2007).

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January 7, 2008

Getting Your Adult Child to Participate in a 401(k) Plan

Your child has finally finished college and started his/her first full-time job. What is the most important financial advice you can give them at this point in their lives?

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December 24, 2007

Eliminating Money-related Holiday Depression

The holiday season is a wonderful, joyous time of the year that is greatly enjoyed and anticipated by many people. Unfortunately for others, the season that is so happy for some people, is depressing and dreaded. The reason that the holiday season brings great melancholy for some people is because of lack of money to celebrate how they wish. Many people feel that it isn't Christmas if they don't buy luxurious gifts for their friends and families, or host extravagant holiday parties. Children may request or even demand expensive holiday gifts that parents simply can not afford to purchase. If you find yourself suffering from the holiday blues due to lack of money, then don't fret, because there are many ways to remedy this.

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December 21, 2007

Which Financial Paperwork Should You Keep

Feel like you're buried under an avalanche of paper? The steady accumulation of paper over the years can make even the most organized system seem uncontrollable. Some general guidelines on which papers to retain and which to toss include:

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December 19, 2007

Giving to Charities at Christmas: Where is your Money Really Going?

Many people look forward to the holiday season each year and are eager for the celebrations, decorations and to eating high calorie yet scrumptious goodies. One thing that many people seem to take for granted is the fact that they have enough money for food, gifts and shopping, but unfortunately, many people don't have enough money for these things. They may have been laid off from their jobs, be in debt, or simply work low-paying jobs that prevent them from having enough money left over after paying bills for extras. This is why there are nonprofit organizations available to help make the holidays more fulfilling to individuals in such situations. Unfortunately, these charities don't always use the donated funds as they should, and many charity workers have been prosecuted after being convicted of fattening their own pockets with funds designated for needy families.

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December 17, 2007

Reasons to Buy a 2007 Vehicle Instead of a 2008

If you're in the market for a new vehicle, now is the time to buy, by the last day of December. With the year 2007 rapidly coming to an end, many car dealers are anxious to get rid of 2007 cars and trucks in order to make room for their new inventory of 2008 vehicles. You may find yourself, despite credit problems, little cash for a down payment, and the cost of the vehicle, paying less than you ever thought possible to own a brand new car or truck. Finance companies may temporarily slacken their credit requirements, and sales persons may drastically reduce the overall cost of the vehicle as incentive for you to buy. You may also be able to receive lower monthly payments as part of the package.

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December 14, 2007

How to Set Financial Goals

To help pursue your financial goals, you need a financial plan to help you get there. These five basic tips can help you achieve your goals:

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November 23, 2007

How to Become a Millionaire--or as Close to One as Possible

If you're like many other Americans, you have a desire to live any easy life and become prosperous. While most people may think that it's impossible for the average person to become rich, with great persistence and hard work, it is quite possible to live comfortably and possibly even become rich. It won't happen overnight unless you win the lottery, but there's no reason why you can't actively work towards becoming a millionaire, or at least quite well-off.

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November 16, 2007

Use Creativity to Save on your Afterlife Expenses

With funeral costs reaching astronomical proportions, many individuals are opting for alternative funerals in order to cut costs and allow their loved ones more money to pay bills and other necessities. For this reason, alternative funerals have become extremely popular in the past 15-20 years. Another reason why alternative funerals have become popular is because more and more people would rather their loved ones celebrate their life and treat the ceremony as a happy one as opposed to traditional funerals with crying and grieving.

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November 14, 2007

Reviewing Your Investment Portfolio

Before the year end, get all your investment information together, thoroughly analyze it, and clean up your portfolio. Here are 4 main points to consider during this annual review process:

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October 24, 2007

What Fees Are Included in the APR or Annual Percentage Rate?

Financial lenders calculate the APR or annual percentage rate using a formula that takes into consideration the various expenses associated with the mortgage. Some fees are always calculated into the equation while others are never included. In fact, some fees are considered when calculating the APR by some lenders, but not by others.

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October 15, 2007

Teaching Your Child to Save

Our mortgage payments are high. The bills are mounting up. School fees and kids activities don't come cheap. Most parents are both working--some with two jobs each. It is difficult for adults to have any money left over to save. So how can we possibly teach our children to save? It is extremely important, however, that we do teach our kids the lessons of saving-especially when the costs of tuition for schooling are rising, the cost for weddings today is astronomical, they will benefit from a head-start for a down payment on a house, or they may even need to start saving for their retirement from early on.

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July 30, 2007

Choosing a Funeral Home

Choosing a funeral provider can be a stressful experience for those with little experience and who may be emotionally distraught over the sudden death of a loved one. It is not required by law to use a funeral home, but the many legal requirements and details may make using the professional services of a funeral home more convenient for the family.

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July 23, 2007

Tips for Opening a Checking Account After Being Reported to Chexsystems

Just about everyone can appreciate the convenience of having a checking account. Checking accounts allow you to easily pay your bills, whether on the phone, on the web, by mail or in person. You can also set up automatic withdrawals with a checking account, to avoid late payment penalties and eliminate the need to remember when certain bills are due each month. The list of the advantages goes on and on, depending on how you choose to use your account and what goals you have in mind.

What most people fail to realize, though, is that having a bank account is a privilege, and if for some reason you don’t responsibly handle your account, that privilege will be revoked.

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June 5, 2007

Tips to Avoid Internet Fraud

The Internet has made online transactions commonplace. However, you should be aware of two forms of Internet identity theft: phishing and pharming. In 2006, losses from this type of identity theft totaled $2.8 billion, or $1,244 per victim. Consumers were only able to recover 54% of the amount lost (Source: AARP Bulletin, February 2007).

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June 1, 2007

Establishing Good Investing Habits

Good investing habits will help ensure you follow through on your investment plan. Below are four tips to hone your investment habits:

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May 22, 2007

Finding Money to Save

We all know that we should be saving at least 10% of our gross income for retirement, but, that can seem like an impossible goal after paying all of our bills. Before coming to the conclusion that you can’t come even close to saving 10% of your income, you should look very closely at the after-tax cost.

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May 14, 2007

People Must Learn to Pay Themselves

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April 20, 2007

Things to Consider Before Purchasing An Investment

Before purchasing an investment for your portfolio, answer the following questions about that particular investment:

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April 19, 2007

Using an IRA Distribution for Charitable Contributions

As part of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, taxpayers age 70 ½ and older can take tax-free distributions, up to $100,000 in 2006 and 2007, from traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for charitable purposes. This provision is expected to increase charitable contributions from IRAs. Without this provision, donors typically find that the income tax deduction for the charitable contribution is not enough to offset the tax bill generated by the IRA distribution. With this provision, the income from the IRA is not included in gross income, and the charitable contribution cannot be deducted on the donor’s tax return.

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April 13, 2007

How Much Can You Safely Withdraw from Savings

In a recent survey, respondents were asked what percentage of their retirement savings could be safely withdrawn every year without running out of money in their lifetime. Approximately 42% of the respondents did not know, 6% said 25% or more, 6% said 15% to 24%, 17% said 10% to 14%, 19% said 5% to 9%, and 10% said less than 5% (Source: National Underwriter, May 8, 2006).

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March 15, 2007

Check All Factors Before Switching Jobs

When considering a job change, it’s tempting to just look at the difference in salary between the two positions and base your decision on that. But before deciding whether to change jobs, you should consider a number of factors, including the following:

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March 12, 2007

Protecting Your Family's Security

One of your first financial goals should be to protect your family’s financial security from major catastrophes. To protect your family's financial security consider these four items:

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February 7, 2007

Using Average Returns in an Investment Program

When setting up an investment program, the assumed rate of return is typically an average annual return for some historical period. While that is generally viewed as a conservative approach, there are some problems with using an average return:

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January 23, 2007

Loan Carefully

Responding to a request for a loan from a family member or friend can be difficult. Often, the reason they're asking is because a bank or other lending source has turned them down, making them less than an ideal credit risk. Carefully consider such a request before agreeing to loan money. Consider these points:

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January 18, 2007

Get the Basics Right

The sheer number of financial decisions required to manage our finances can seem overwhelming. But often we spend an inordinate amount of time on small stuff like getting the bills paid on time, reconciling bank accounts, and calling to have a late charge waived. While those things need to get done, how do we judge whether we are headed on the right course? There are six basic financial decisions that can determine the course of your financial life:

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January 7, 2007

2007 Tax Favored Savings Plan Updated Limits Summary

Are you confused about plan limits? This quick reference for 2007 should make your savings planning a little simpler.

If you do not know which plans may be best for your business structure, or what plans you are eligible to use, consult with a qualified advisor for assistance. They will also be able to do a comparison of your individual options.

Remember the maximum allowable compensation that can be used to determine plan contributions in 2007 is $225,000. For highly compensated employees, the ceiling is a much lower $100,000.

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November 2, 2006

Finding Your Lost Pension & 401(K) Funds

People change jobs many times over a working career. Women marry and change their name over their working careers, many more than once. Adults move on with their lives, sometimes to another city, perhaps you moved across state lines. Some workers will venture across country borders forgetting they were at a particular employer long enough to have become vested with a pension benefit. As the years pass, when they don't leave a forwarding address, it becomes harder to find them and remind them of these waiting benefits, if not impossible.

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October 29, 2006

The Loser's Game

Warren Buffett, perhaps the greatest investor alive today, has an amusing way to describe his rules for investing:
Rule #1 — never lose money
Rule #2 — don’t forget rule #1

Although this may seem like an overly simple and conservative way to succeed, I hope to show you that these simple rules hold the key to successful investing for the vast majority of people: understand when you are playing a loser’s game and then play accordingly.

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October 13, 2006

Securing Your Financial Identity

It is estimated that 4.25% of American adults are subject to identity theft every year (Source: Money, July 2005). Approximately half involve credit card fraud, where a thief steals a credit card number and charges items to it. While an inconvenience, this does not have a lasting impact on a person’s financial identity, and the person does not have to pay the fraudulent charges. The more significant worry, which occurs in 25% of identity thefts, is when another individual obtains sufficient information to borrow money or open accounts in your name. According to a Federal Trade Commission survey, victims spend an average of 60 hours and $1,200 to clear their names.

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August 31, 2006

Teaching Children About Money

Even though it seems like money and financial topics are discussed everywhere, these are not concepts your children will learn automatically. Some of the most valuable lessons you can teach your children involve basic money concepts, such as the value of saving and investing. Some strategies you can use to help teach these concepts include:

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August 9, 2006

Considering Your (Stock) Options

To attract and keep top employees, more companies are offering them employee stock options. If you receive employee stock options as part of your compensation package, careful planning can help you make the most of them.

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August 4, 2006

Resolving Financial Issues before Marriage

Personal financial topics are often some of the most difficult topics for people to discuss. But since financial issues often cause significant problems in marriages, you should try to reach agreement on your finances before your wedding. Some items to consider include:

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July 20, 2006

Reviewing Your Portfolio's Performance

At least annually, you should review your portfolio’s performance, comparing it to relevant benchmarks and determining whether you are making progress toward accomplishing your financial goals. Consider these steps in the process:

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July 5, 2006

Helping Your Parents with Their Finances

Discussing financial matters with your parents can be difficult. You don’t want to seem concerned about how much money they may eventually leave you, while they may fear you are interfering in their lives. Yet, without discussing these matters beforehand, you may have trouble finding all their financial records or determining their wishes if you need to take over their finances.

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June 12, 2006

Organizing Records for an Emergency

After all the natural disasters of 2005, you should give some thought to what you would do in the event of an emergency. If you had to evacuate your home, could you quickly get your hands on all important financial documents? Consider organizing and keeping those records in one place, preferably a fireproof, lockable box. Items that should be placed in the box include:

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June 7, 2006

Financial Tips for Your Children

As a parent, you often wish you could impart wisdom you have gained over the years so your children don’t have to make the same mistakes you made. What are the most important financial tips you should pass on to your children? Try these:

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May 9, 2006

Use a Budget to Control Spending

First, keep this in mind, almost no one enjoys the process of analyzing and budgeting expenditures. But inefficient and wasted expenditures can be major impediments to accomplishing your financial goals. It is difficult to manage your money if you don’t know how much you have or where it is going. Consider these steps when developing your budget:

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May 3, 2006

Check Your Personal Financial Ratios

When reviewing the financial health of a company, it’s common to look at financial ratios, such as: EPS (Earnings Per Share), P/E Ratios (Price/Earnings Ratios), Book Value, and Total Return. The reason financial ratios are so popular is they give you a means of evaluating financial information, while allowing you to track changes in a company’s performance over time. Consider using the same concept to assess and track your personal financial situation.

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April 12, 2006

Have You Assessed Your Risk Tolerance?

While investors want the highest returns possible, returns compensate you for the risks you take — higher risks are generally rewarded with higher returns. Thus, you need to assess how much risk you are willing to take to obtain potentially higher returns. However, this can be a difficult task. It is one thing to theoretically answer questions about how you would react in different circumstances and quite another to actually watch your investments decrease significantly in value. What you are trying to assess is your emotional tolerance for risk, or how much price volatility you are comfortable with. Some questions that can help you gauge that risk tolerance include:

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March 29, 2006

Spring is in the Air - Time to Buy a New Home

Whether you think the Real Estate Market is softening or not, if you need a new home you need a new home. And Spring is when most people get serious about their shopping so they can get settled in before the kids start at the new school. Les Christie, with CNNMoney.com, has come up with a five point checklist every potential buyer should go through before they actually start shopping. In addition, CNNMoney list some new websites, like Zillow.com, that give potential buyers new tools that help expedite the process. For additional tools such as Homeplans, Real Estate Software, or to locate a Realtor®, visit the Managingmoney.com Real Estate Center. http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/29/real_estate/spring_home_buying_2006/index.htm?section=money_pf

March 8, 2006

Kiplinger on Prepaid Credit Cards and Teenagers

Kiplinger.com makes the case that there are circumstances when a Prepaid Credit Card is appropriate for your teenager... http://www.kiplinger.com/personalfinance/columns/drt/archive/2006/dt060308.html

January 25, 2006

Is Saving 10% Enough?

A common rule of thumb when planning for retirement is to save 10% of your gross income during your working years. Since this rule of thumb has been around for a long time, it's logical to question whether it's still an appropriate guideline.

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December 14, 2005

Make Your New Year's Resolutions Work

How often have you drawn up an ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions, only to find you’ve given up on them after a few weeks? Don’t let that happen to you in 2006. If you want to make significant strides toward achieving your financial goals, determine why your resolutions have failed in the past and find ways to overcome those obstacles.

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July 12, 2005

Your Children and IRAs

Once your children start working, help them develop good savings habits by encouraging them to fund an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Even if your child only contributes for a few years, an IRA can provide significant funds for retirement.

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June 15, 2005

How Our Emotions May Affect Investment Decisions

The biggest obstacle in making good investment decisions is probably our emotions. Numerous studies over the years have found that investors have certain psychological biases that get in the way of making purely rational decisions such as the following:

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Useful Investing Tips

Having your money grow competitively over the years is both a combination of good planning and a little luck. Although there is not much you can do about the luck part of it, you can implement some basic principles to put the odds in your favor on the planning side of things. Here are 6 important concepts to consider:

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March 13, 2005

Stretching Your Salary & Other Savings Ideas

Even though all indications are that the economy is recovering, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a large raise is on the near-term horizon for you. Your best bet for the near term is to make your current salary stretch farther. Here are some thoughts on how to do that:

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February 13, 2005

Review Your Social Security Statement

The Social Security Administration automatically mails Social Security statements to all workers age 25 and older who do not yet receive benefits. The statements arrive annually, approximately three months before your birthday, and contain the following information:

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December 11, 2004

Start the New Year Out Right

A new year is typically viewed as a time to reflect on the past year and to set new personal goals. But it is also a good time to review your current financial situation, resolving to make significant strides toward achieving your long-term financial goals. Consider some of the following resolutions for your 2005 list:

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November 13, 2004

Money and a Happy Marriage

If married couples can't agree on basic money issues, these issues can become a constant source of conflict. To help avoid money conflicts, consider these tips:

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August 10, 2004

Teaching Money Lessons to Your Children

One of the most valuable lessons parents can teach their children is how to responsibly manage money. Some strategies to teach these lessons include:

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May 1, 2004

Protecting Your Financial Life

No one expects it to happen to them. You think you're careful with financial information, so how could someone steal your identity? However, very little information is needed to steal your identity -- just your name, Social Security number, and birth date. Armed with that information, thieves can obtain credit cards, get loans, purchase a car, or apply for a job -- all in your name.

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December 1, 2003

Resolving For A Better Financial Year

As a new year approaches, resolve to start working on accomplishing your financial goals. If you can't count on a rapidly advancing stock market to help achieve your goals, what strategies should you use? Consider the following:

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November 1, 2003

A Portfolio Review

With market declines, it may be painful to look at your portfolio in depth. But that review is needed at least annually to determine whether you are on track to accomplishing your goals. Consider these steps to help in that process:

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July 1, 2003

Straightening Out Your Personal Finances

Many of us purchase and accumulate things over the years, without taking time to clean them out periodically. That applies to our finances as well as to our possessions. How many credit cards do you carry? How many stocks and bonds, brokerage accounts, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) do you own? It's not just a matter of finding time to keep track of all these different financial assets. Often, these assets are acquired without a clear-cut strategy, so you may own assets with similar investment objectives or that are not compatible with your financial goals. If you sense it's time to straighten out your finances, follow these steps:

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Teaching Money Basics

Even though it seems like money and financial topics are discussed everywhere, these are not concepts your children will learn automatically. Teaching your children basic money concepts, including the value of saving and investing, can benefit them for a lifetime. Some strategies to help teach these concepts include:

Continue reading "Teaching Money Basics" »

June 1, 2003

Another Look at Risk Tolerance

After all the pain caused by market volatility over the past three years, how much have we learned about our tolerance for risk? We know we're much happier when the stock market is going up rather than down. We probably realize our portfolios were too risky back in 2000 and wish we had made different choices back then. But how many of us have actually assessed our tolerance for risk and made portfolio choices based on that assessment?

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May 1, 2003

Follow These Three Principles to Reach Your Financial Goals

Be honest. How much progress are you making toward your financial goals? Are you getting somewhere or does it seem like you fall a bit further behind every year? If you can't seem to make any financial progress, resolve to follow these three fundamental principles:

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April 1, 2003

Updating Your Important Documents

Whether or not this is your first marriage, you'll want to review major documents to see if changes are needed. Even if you've been married for some time, it's not a bad idea to take a look at these documents:

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