mailbox on country lane

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. Health care COBRA suggestion 2. Homemade food is too expensive! 3. Feeling rich while cutting spending 4. Bodyweight exercise suggestions 5. Retirement investing 101 question 6. Local economy vs. frugality 7. Credit card crisis 8. Saving money at Disney World 9. Best services for cord cutting 10. Eggs …

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It’s been almost two months since Equifax announced a data breach of personal information. Since then: Millions of us have taken steps to protect our credit. Their website was compromised (again!) redirecting to malware. A no-bid contract from the IRS to have Equifax provide identity verification services for taxpayers was put on hold. Within this swirl of information, more and more questions have been asked, including: Can I apply for a new credit card after the Equifax hack? The answer …

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There’s this idea out there, perpetuated by financial professionals and online “experts” alike, that if you take the right approach, do the right research, and put in the right amount of effort, you can pick stocks that beat the market. There are, of course, the people who are pretty obviously scam artists, promising crazy returns if you just follow their “system.” But there are a lot of other people who sound a lot more rational. People who talk about things …

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Only a third of Americans bother to create a written or computerized budget each month, according to a 2013 Gallup poll on budgeting, the most recent available. Considering the state of personal finance in the U.S., this actually explains a lot. A recent study showed that fewer than half of Americans have more than $1,000 in savings, and the average indebted household now has more than $16,000 in credit card debt. A recent study from CareerBuilder even revealed that 78% of …

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A few days ago, I received a handwritten letter from an old acquaintance, someone I hadn’t seen in a healthy handful of years. The letter was full of reminiscence, but then it moved onto a request for some advice on some issues that he didn’t know how to handle. The advice request started out in the domain of personal finance, but as he wrote more and more details, it became clear that the real problem in the whole picture wasn’t …

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If you’re the type who likes to plan ahead, chances are you’re already trying to strategize how to get the best Holiday gifts at the lowest prices. And Walmart’s trying to appeal to early shoppers: The retail giant has recently released its list of the most popular toys for the 2017 Holidays. Sales are great, but if you’re looking to take your savings even further, a cash back credit card might be the most powerful tool in your wallet. We’ve …

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Over the years, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some great friends from other cultures. Back in the late 1990s, I was lucky enough to have my time on this earth overlap with a wonderful guy from China, a guy whose laughter could fill a room at certain times, a man who would have your back whenever you needed it, a person who always seemed to have the right question to ask, an individual who seemed to click in any …

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One of the most efficient ways for a family to save money is to simply eat meals at home as often as possible. Feeding three or four or five people with take-out or at restaurants all the time becomes quickly expensive, even if you choose super-cheap options, and if you consider the health impact of eating restaurant-prepared food, it becomes even more costly. (Research suggests that home cooking is a key part of a healthier diet, simply because you control …

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You may be following the news of recent natural disasters from thousands of miles away, wondering what you can possibly do to help. If so, rest assured that the effectiveness of your charitable donations doesn’t necessarily decrease with distance. A large number of charities and relief organizations are helping victims of Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean, as well as earthquake victims in Mexico. The list includes some of the most respected, highest rated groups in philanthropy, such as: UNICEF DirectRelief …

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For the first 28 years of my life, I thought there was only one way to memorize information: brute force repetition. If my schooling taught me anything, it was that the way to do well on tests was to make detailed notes and then read them until your eyes bled. This style of learning is effective, but only to a point. As we all know, information that was crammed is soon lost. Much of this forgetting is normal and healthy. …

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