Investing

Proposed Changes to 529 Plans Would Dampen Their Appeal

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama proposed changes to 529 college plans that may force the 7 million families using them to rethink their college financial game plan. Currently, you can make contributions to a 529 plan, invest those funds, and eventually withdraw the earnings tax-free as long as the money is used for …

How to Invest Small Amounts of Money

My advice to anyone investing a significant amount of money – say, more than $50,000 – is twofold. If you want to be hands-on, buy a rental property. If you want to be hands-off, put it into index funds directly through Vanguard. Unfortunately, that “tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest” scenario is …

Five Inexpensive Home Improvements for Winter

With the holidays behind us, many people are dreading winter and looking forward to the first signs of spring. Since spring is generally best spent tidying up and working on the outside of your property, winter offers a good chance to get the interior of your home in tip-top shape. There are plenty of upgrades you can do yourself with a limited budget, …

Guide to Self-Directed IRAs

The history of retirement plans in the United States is neither as old nor as extensive as most people think. The first private pension fund was introduced by the American Express Co. in 1875 as a means of improving employee retention. By 1900, there were only 13 private pension funds in the entire country, and …

Industries That Are Ripe for Disruption

dis·rupt verb \dis-ˈrəpt\ : to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way : to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something). That’s according to Merriam Webster dictionary. Disrupting an industry involves more than just gaining market share from your competitor. It’s a shift in how business is done — the money …

Old Hustle, New Tools: Social Media Investing Scams

“Psssst, over here,” croaked a voice from the shadows somewhere in the alley. “Are youse lookin’ for a hot tip on a cool stock?” Rob looked over his shoulder and from side to side before pointing with his thumb at his own chest like a novice hitchhiker. The voice grew louder as its source, a shady-looking …

Trend Spotting: How Successful Investors Find the Next Big Thing

In “Back to the Future Part II,” Biff Tannen gets rich by using information from the future to make can’t-lose sports bets in the past. While Biff and his special brand of inside information are pure fiction, it is nonetheless a perfect allegory for investment trend spotting. Investment trend spotters seek to gain insight into the future …

What to Know Before Buying Insurance Stocks

Promises, promises. Insurance is all about promises. Policyholders promise to pay their premiums and insurance companies promise to pay claims in a timely manner. On the surface, it’s a straightforward proposition, unless the insurance company can’t afford to pay all its claims. Policyholders are not alone in that fear. For many investors, particularly casual investors, …

Oil Prices: What Goes Down Must Come Up

We all remember the high school economics lesson on the law of supply and demand. It taught us that when demand is low and supply is high, prices fall; when the opposite is true, prices rise. Since supply and demand is a law of economics and we must assume that energy-sector experts understand this, predicting …

Quick Year-End Tax-Saving Ideas

Holiday stress is boiling over, and the last thing you want to worry about are your taxes due next April. But while enjoying a good year financially thanks to increased earnings and the stock market’s all-time highs is great news, it means your tax bill is going to increase as well. Ideally, you’ve been working taxes into …

Wealthfront Review

As I explained in a previous post, I’m on a quest to find the best retirement plan to roll over my old 401(k). I’m going to conduct the most thorough research I can — publicly — and then put my money where my mouth is, literally rolling over my old 401(k), worth approximately $85,000, into …

The Unregulated World of Identity Theft ‘Insurance’

It’s all over the news: celebrity photo hacking scandals, digital security breaches at major retailers, and banks that have misplaced unencrypted backups of confidential customer data. More than 13 million consumers suffered from identity fraud in 2013, according to a study by financial services research firm Javelin Strategy & Research. This is second only to 2012, when …

Everything You Need to Know About Crowdfunding

Ryan is trying to raise money for his startup. His idea is to build a luxury cooler (yes, the kind you store lunch and drinks in) for the beach or a camping trip, equipped with all the bells and whistles. In short, he wants to build a party on wheels — the world’s coolest cooler. This cooler …

How to Save for Your Child’s College Education

When families talk about college, the subject of money is never far behind. Seeing so many graduates overloaded with student loan debt, with 19% of borrowers owing more than $50,000 upon graduation, can be pretty scary for parents and students alike. As parents, you think the best thing you can do for your children is to encourage …

What I Wish I Knew Before Buying Rental Property

In early 2006, my husband and I decided to purchase our first home in my hometown of Greenfield, Indiana. With 1,300 square feet, a few nice-sized bedrooms, and an open kitchen and living room, our first “starter home” was practically perfect for us. And since we had moved there from a one-bedroom apartment with only …

Is This the Perfect Investment for Your Kid’s College Fund?

How’s this for a sweet investment: Anyone can buy it, with no fees or commissions. Its value has gone up by about 130% since 2000 — an 8.6% annualized gain. It’s tax advantaged, so those gains were tax-free. And in that time, investors had virtually no chance of losing their money at any point, even …

Startups to Help You Save Money and Manage Your Finances

From holiday shopping to family vacations to unexpected car repairs or medical bills, staying ahead of your finances is both an important goal and a constant challenge. We could all use a little help managing and saving our money. Today we’re going to explore several startups out there that promise to help save you money, curb your spending, and …

Betterment Review

As I explained last week, I’m on a quest to find the best retirement plan to roll over my old 401(k). I’m going to conduct the most thorough research I can — publicly — and then put my money where my mouth is, literally rolling over my old 401(k), worth approximately $85,000, into the best …

Don’t Let That 1,000-Page Mortgage Application Scare You

By Peter Miller The 1,000-page mortgage application is here, but don’t be alarmed: It’s a paper tiger, a low barrier to financing, and no more frightening than a marshmallow. At first it may seem amazing that a loan application could be larger than a Tom Clancy novel, but it’s true. In fact, in today’s marketplace, …