School supplies

Attention, back to school shoppers: If you didn’t get to everything on your shopping list before the big sales ended, it might not be too late for a makeup exam. Find out if your credit card can help you save some money and earn some rewards points on school supplies and more. Many school districts and colleges have already started the academic year, and almost all of the state tax-free holidays have ended (think fast, Connecticut). Don’t lose heart, though. …

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I did very little reading the summer before I started college. I was focused on figuring out which roommate was going to bring the mini-fridge to the dorm, what posters to hang, and what classes to take. I wish I would have realized how many engaging, well-written, informative books there are that could have helped me get more out of my college experience. While none of them would teach me the finer points of suppressing the need to burp while …

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In the year 2011, the Baby Boomer generation started turning 65. Over the next 13 years, 10,000 Boomers will reach retirement age every day. For the adult children of the Baby Boomers, these are not abstract statistics but real-life turning points that can provoke uncertainty and anxiety. But consider the advice of certified financial planner and author Lise Andreana: “There is no time like the present to begin preparing for your aging parents’ financial future. Being proactive can help minimize …

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Like many people, I spent my college years being extremely frugal. I did all kinds of things in college to save money. I ate absurd amounts of ramen noodles, as it was an extremely cheap form of calories. I lived in a tiny apartment with as many as seven other people to get rent well below the $100 per month line. I went to all kinds of on-campus events mostly under the lure of free food. I avidly traded textbooks …

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Sure, I acknowledge this may seem like a pretty silly question. After all, why in the world would you send your 18-year-old off to school with the massive buying power associated with a credit card? I mean, certainly it’s better for them to not learn how to use plastic properly and, instead, carry around a bunch of cash or a prepaid debit card that charges fees so they can use their own money. (Is this where I insert a #sarcasm …

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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. Credit and unpaid medical bill 2. Buying mattress through the mail 3. Cheap startup camping? 4. Getting rid of parents’ papers 5. Value of financial advisor? 6. Stock market basic question 7. Afraid of retirement 8. Explaining financial goals to wife 9. Moving away from a bank 10. …

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Worried about paying too much in investing fees? It might be time to take stock of your investments and their ongoing costs, then search for a better deal. Expense ratios for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) fell to a record low in 2016, according to Morningstar, with the average investor paying just 0.57%. But this isn’t the result of mutual funds and other investments lowering their ongoing management fees; on the contrary, these lower costs are the result of investors shopping …

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I used to think anyone who lived in in their vehicle was facing a crisis. In some ways, I even thought of them as failures. A famous ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch, featuring Chris Farley as a sad-sack motivational speaker who lived in “a van down by the river,” solidified the notion that living in a vehicle should be your last resort. That stigma still exists, but it’s starting to erode. A growing number of people are reclaiming the idea that living in a …

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If you spend much time at the Ames Public Library, you’ve probably seen me there at some point. I can often be found on the second floor, either at a table or in a study room, surrounded by a pile of personal finance magazines and books and other assorted materials, usually with my laptop open or with a notebook and pen open before me. Why? To come up with the content for this site and to constantly expose myself to …

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“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux My wife and I traveled to Europe for our honeymoon in 2003. The trip was a memorable one, but when I look back on it with honesty, most of what made it memorable was that it was our honeymoon. We were taking our first steps into our life as a married couple. The reality is that I have traveled extensively over the last dozen years or so and three things really …

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