two women in conversation

In a typical week, I hear from 20 to 30 readers by email or social media. Typically, the 12 most interesting questions make it into the reader mailbag. What about the other 10 or so questions? The honest truth is that most of those other questions boil down to the same handful of questions, over and over, with minor variations. Today, I’m going to answer the 10 most common issues in the most straightforward manner that I can. Before I get started, though, two caveats: …

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To check your credit report, or not to check your credit report – that is the question. And for 59% of Americans, the answer is not to check your credit report, or at least not check it often, according to the results of a national survey of 1,000 people released in August. The survey revealed that only about four in 10 (41%) of Americans actually check their credit report once a year or more often, which can be a mistake. …

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The Little Things

September 23 2017

Here’s a list of wonderful things I noticed yesterday that cost nothing (or next to it): Waking up naturally, without an alarm clock going off and forcing me awake. Feeling the warmth of my youngest son in bed next to me, still sleeping peacefully after he climbed in during the night after a bad dream. Running my tongue along the smooth surface of my freshly-brushed teeth. Tasting my latest batch of cold brew coffee, made from freshly ground beans that …

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“Don’t you ever get tired of just saving money?” “Why don’t you just live a little? You have money in the bank and can afford it!” I’ve heard these things for many years from my own internal voice of conscience. I’ve also heard variations on it for many years from different people in my life. I can afford this little treat for myself, so why not indulge? It’s just a little thing in the big scope of things, so it …

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Anywhere you look, you’ll find financial horror stories about people who found themselves deep in credit card debt. They tend to highlight factors that contributed to their plight like the relative ease of making charges with a credit card and how paying the monthly minimums didn’t help. The truth is that credit cards are a tool for building good credit and making purchases. And, just like any tool, they can be misused and that’s when trouble starts. The fact of …

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The flu isn’t just a cold. It’s a serious health issue that can be fatal, especially if a secondary infection like pneumonia sets in. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number-one way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot. While not a 100% guarantee, it’s still your best line of defense. The immunization has about an 80% efficacy rate in people under age 60, and works about 50% of the time for those older than 65. …

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The past few weeks have been incredibly busy for our family. Not only has Sarah returned to teaching from her summer break, our children have also returned to school and several fall activities have begun. On top of that, a particularly nasty virus of some kind flashed through our family, bringing a consistent set of symptoms and knocking each family member (except me, somehow) out of commission for a few days. The lazy days of summer are long gone. Because …

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When my husband and I bought our first rental property in 2007, we barely knew what we were doing. We saved up a large down payment and qualified for a mortgage, then stumbled through the rest of the details without much outside help. Eventually, we found what we thought was a good property for the local rental market. Fortunately, our offer was accepted and we found renters right away. A few years later, we turned our then primary residence into …

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On The Simple Dollar, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of credit history and building good credit. It tends to look good on your history when you pay on time and more than the monthly minimum. But what do you do when disaster strikes, as in the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma? How do you keep up with your credit card finances when you’re forced from your home in the wake of a weather catastrophe? Well, there are a …

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The world is beginning to embrace the idea of a cashless economy, and it’s raised some interesting questions about how we impart financial knowledge to our children. A 2015 financial literacy assessment by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that just under 80% of young people aged 15-24 made payments online. And a 2015 Standard & Poor survey found that only 57% of U.S. adults were financially literate, with a solid understanding of key concepts like inflation and …

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