child looking out the window sadly on a rainy day

You’ve spent months planning the perfect vacation, and it’s finally here. Your bags are picked, the kids are bouncing off the walls, and you’ve finished up loose ends at work. Once you make a final trip through the house, you can pretty much lock up and go. Unfortunately, bad news is on the way in the form of inclement weather. Upon checking the forecast, you find out there’s a good chance of rain for much of your trip. I’ve been there – …

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Two days ago, I posted an article entitled Nine Skills Worth Learning for Any Career – and How to Learn Them. The goal of the article is to point to some fundamental skills that have value in almost every professional situation and offer some suggestions in how to cultivate them for yourself. As I was putting the finishing touches on the article, my oldest son walked up behind me. He’s a middle schooler these days and is beginning to really …

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Nadine writes in: Does it make sense to use a Roth IRA as an emergency fund? It seems like I could contribute money to it, have it build tax free for a while, then I take out the contributions in an emergency and just keep those earnings for retirement. Why not do this? Well, as you can see from the title of this article, I don’t actually think this is a very good idea. While Nadine’s point is accurate – …

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I recently had the pleasure of reading Scott Adams’ book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. At one point in the book, Adams refers to a set of skills that will serve a person well in succeeding in virtually any career path that they might choose: Public speaking Psychology Business writing Accounting basics Design basics Conversation Overcoming shyness Second language Golf Proper grammar Persuasion Technology basics Proper voice technique I found this list quite compelling, but …

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With traditional pensions all but disappearing, the workplace retirement plan has become the bedrock of many people’s retirement savings strategy. Four out of five Americans work at a company that offers a 401k (or a variant such as a 403b). And while far too many workers still don’t or can’t contribute to their 401k, it’s a great tool for those who do, for several reasons. For starters, a 401k is one of the easiest ways to begin investing: You don’t …

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This is the final entry in a short summer series covering smart strategies for using leftover staple foods – things like rice, beans, pasta, and so on. Here’s what you do when you cook a bit too much and don’t know what to do with the rest! Before we dig into techniques for using leftover sweet corn, let’s look back at the earlier entries in this series: 10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover Rice 10 Smart Ways to Use Leftover …

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If you started summer with the goal of picking up part-time work, you might wish you had started searching sooner. While it’s still possible you’ll pick up some seasonal employment, most summer job openings have come and gone – at least until next year. But, there are other ways to earn money, some of which don’t require working for someone else. If you could pick up a gig as a dog sitter or house sitter, for example, you could earn …

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One common question that readers send into the Reader Mailbag revolves around learning a particular language without a lot of expense. Most of the well-known methods of learning a language – classroom learning and Rosetta Stone, for example – are quite expensive and, for many people, only really make sense if you have an immediate and urgent need to learn a language for your career path. What if you’re in a less urgent situation, though? Perhaps you want to learn …

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Credit scores aren’t static. They don’t rise and fall like temperature. No, credit scores are simply a snapshot evaluation of your credit report information at a given point in time. But when the information on your credit reports changes, your scores will generally be different the next time they’re calculated. Certain credit events may lead to a predictable difference in your credit scores. For example, if your credit report shows a new missed or late payment, a new collection account, or a …

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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. Income change and credit limits 2. Water filter advice 3. Figuring out lifestyle inflation 4. Upgrading wardrobe to “professional” 5. Finding specific used items 6. Best place for Roth IRA? 7. Value of rice cooker 8. Resolving banking error 9. Parking money in retirement 10. Next step after …

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