pouring clean water into a glass

When the water crisis in Flint, Mich., started to gain national attention, I took notice, as did all concerned citizens. I was horrified at the images of the murky, discolored water coming out of their taps. No one should be subjected to drinking water that can make them ill. While I was confident my own tap water was pristine, I decided to do some investigating anyway. And I didn’t like what I found. Chlorine I was living in Madison, Wis., at the …

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IDEA: Start a personal finance blog. Two Cents? Articles focused on practical stuff, positive, straightforward, earnest. Personal finance is easy to understand but hard to actually do. A friendly voice – do people need a “money friend”? I’m not sure exactly what day The Simple Dollar was “born,” but I can say this: Ten years ago today, I wrote an entry in my personal journal describing the basic idea of launching a personal finance blog which I tentatively called “Two …

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Last week, we discussed how the way you pay (or don’t pay) your bills has the single biggest impact on your FICO and VantageScore credit scores. A close second, however, is how well or poorly you manage your debt. What’s more, the metrics that make up the “debt” category of your credit scores are much more actionable — meaning you can control how well you perform in this category, as long as you follow some basic rules. How Much Does What You Owe Matter? “Debt burden” accounts …

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What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. 1. Why Trent isn’t financial advisor 2. SEP-IRA basics 3. Holding onto sold yardsale items 4. Vesting schedule questions 5. Late model used electric car 6. Pressure cooker question 7. Marrying into very wealthy family 8. Super expensive wedding registry 9. Damaged books? 10. Saving old financial statements 11. …

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The Roth IRA is one of the most powerful retirement tools available, giving you the benefits of tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals. It’s also an incredibly flexible tool, with possible uses ranging from holding your emergency fund, to serving as a down payment on your first house, and even paying college tuition. In fact, one of the most interesting ways to use a Roth IRA is as a launchpad for your child’s financial independence. That’s right! If your child has earned …

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More than $1.3 trillion dollars, with $2,726 added every second. That’s how much student loan debt Americans have accumulated, and how much debt gets added with every second that ticks by. To many people, this amount is nothing more than an outrageous number to balk at – an anomaly shared on the nightly news. But for others, their share represents so much more. Fear. Shame. Frustration. A lifetime sentence of debt. And for most, it represents regret – and a whole …

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It’s an annual tradition of sorts for parents all across the country. The summer starts to wind down. They get a letter from the school telling them about their student’s enrollment for the next year and who their teacher is. They start seeing hints of “back to school” at the store and in their mailbox. Their children are dressed in clothes that are almost too small and are worn from a summer of play. It’s time to start thinking about …

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More than half of used cars and a full 86.3% of new cars were purchased with a loan in the first quarter of 2016, according to Experian. The average new car buyer borrowed $30,032 for 68 months for their new ride, while the average used car buyer borrowed $20,723 for 66 months. Compare those figures to last year’s, and you’ll notice an expensive trend. Each year, Americans commit to borrowing more money to buy both new and used cars – …

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Price: It’s the single most important factor for a lot of car insurance shoppers. Choosing a policy based on rates alone could cost far more out of pocket when filing a claim, however, and, statistically speaking, that will happen to each driver at least once every 18 years. It pays to get the right amount of coverage, whether it’s the cheapest package or not. The best auto insurance companies have more than just competitive prices; they also offer versatile coverage …

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A few weeks ago, I made an offhand mention in a reader mailbag about the wonderful book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth defines grit in very simple terms – it’s simply perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Since long-term goals are a huge part of personal finance success, there’s naturally a lot of overlap between this idea of grit and some of the smarter strategies for your money. Grit offers up a four-step recipe …

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