Blog Posts by InvestingAnswers

  • Plastic Lovers, Beware! This Credit Card Fee is Coming Back

    A new government proposal is about to make credit cards even more expensive.A new government proposal is about to make credit cards even more expensive.If you've got bad credit, it can cost you a fortune to have a credit card. Now, a new proposal from the nation's top consumer watchdog may send those costs even higher.
    The proposed rule change, released on April 12 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says there would be no limit on application fees and other fees credit card issuers can charge people before their account is open.

    Once the account is open, there will still be a cap of how much issuers can charge in fees for the first year. However, if the proposal is approved -- it's open for public comment through June 11 -- credit card issuers will be free to charge whatever they see fit prior to the opening of the account.

    One bank has already started charging the fee. And if history is any guide, more are likely to take the plunge.

    The Credit CARD Act of 2009 -- the most sweeping, pro-consumer regulatory change in the history of the credit card business -- took direct aim at companies that charged excessive fees. The

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  • 4 Ways to Prepare for Budget-Busting Babies

    Raising a kid costs more than $200,000! Taking these four steps can help you avoid disaster.Raising a kid costs more than $200,000! Taking these four steps can help you avoid disaster.Raising a child from sweet baby to hormone-riddled teenager will cost a typical American family nearly a quarter-million dollars, according to government data -- and that's not even including college.

    However, before you toss the idea of being a parent out the window, understand that with some forethought and advance planning, you can handle those costs. Just don't expect it be easy.

    According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, a middle-income family will spend $226,920 raising a child born in 2010 from birth to age 18. (Add in the cost of college and that number could possibly double.) Those with lower incomes can expect to pay about $163,000, while the more affluent could pay more than $350,000.

    The cost is up 60% from just 10 years ago, the report says. Numbers such as those demand parents have a plan well before a baby comes into the equation. Here are four steps you can take to help you plan for the costs of that new, little bundle of joy:

    1. Break Down The Costs

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  • Investing Lessons from "The Witch from Wall Street"

    Learn from one of the savviest investors of all time. Learn from one of the savviest investors of all time. What can a woman born in New England in 1834 teach us about investing in today's market? Plenty.

    Hetty Green was one of the savviest investors of all time. Her steely resolve, unwavering discipline and glacial patience are every bit as important to market success today as they were a hundred years ago.

    And yet Hetty -- once the richest woman in the world -- remains mostly a footnote to financial history, a curious bit of eccentric Wall Street lore. That's too bad. There's much to be learned from her.

    Hetty's father, "Black Hawk" Robinson, was a notoriously hard-driving New Bedford whaling magnate, and he imbued his daughter with his business acumen and insight into the darker side of human nature. His was a not a rose-tinted, sentimental perspective. Black Hawk taught his daughter never to owe anyone anything, not even a kindness. Hetty wasn't merely tough, she was ruthless. "The Witch of Wall Street" once foreclosed on a church. When she died in 1916, she was worth $100 million, a

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  • 4 Ways to Stall the Tax Man

    Need more time to pay your tax bill?Need more time to pay your tax bill?It's that time of year again. If you haven't already started the laborious task of filing your taxes, here's a reminder: The due date is April 17.

    Of course, you can get an extension of up to six months from the Internal Revenue Service. However, filing for an extension with the IRS won't help you defer payment if you owe money.

    If you are having a hard time scraping up the cash to pay the taxman, you have a few options. However, it is essential to file your tax return before the deadline. If you don't file, you will be penalized and owe interest. Failure to file on time can cause the amount you owe to increase by up to 100%.
    Here are four options to help you when you may not be able to pay right now:

    1. Set up monthly installments.

    If you owe less than $25,000 and agree to pay off the balance in five years or less, you can request more time and set up a monthly automatic payment plan. You can fill out an Online Payment Agreement form, search "installment agreements" at IRS.gov or

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  • 7 Steps to Perfect Credit

    Here's how to reach a score of 750. Here's how to reach a score of 750. You don't have to be a millionaire to have good credit -- there's no income-level prerequisite for a 750-plus rating.

    It's simply a matter of paying your bills on time, being in good standing with your existing debt and not maxing out the lines of credit you do have.


    In fact, the majority of your FICO score isn't based on income at all. 30% of your rating is based on the percentage of existing debt on revolving accounts compared to the amount of available credit. And what's easier, if you pay your bills on time with no major delinquencies (later than 90 days), that's another 30% of your score right there.

    The similarities between people with good credit aren't that they all make piles of money. On the contrary, the commonalities among these folks are that they pay their bills on time; they have up to six revolving credit accounts in good standing (credit cards); they have a mortgage or auto loan; and their debt levels on open accounts are less than 35% of their total credit limit.

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  • The 5 Easiest Ways to Boost Your Retirement Income

    Stay on top of your bills without feeling like you're working. Stay on top of your bills without feeling like you're working. You've worked hard all those years. And now, you've finally earned time to travel, take long afternoon walks and pursue all the pleasures that go along with not needing to punch a time clock.

    For many, retirement couldn't be better.

    But for others, it has its own set of challenges -- especially financially.

    With low rates restricting investment income, many retirees find themselves short of cash at the month's end.

    According to a 2011 study, 40% of Canadians retire into debt and 17% carry debit or credit card debt. The situation is equally grim in the U.S. A 2011 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that approximately 15% of retired Americans had trouble paying their credit card bill, rent or mortgage. But there is no reason to panic when those bills come.

    Here are five fun ways you can bring in a bit of extra cash to cushion your retirement:

    1. Monetize a hobby.

    Do you have a special skill or talent? Perhaps you make fantastic fudge you could sell to local cafes, or

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  • 3 Tax Mistakes Retirees Can't Afford to Make

    Keep your nest egg from becoming a golden egg for the government. Keep your nest egg from becoming a golden egg for the government. Retirement is supposed to be "the golden years," but make a few tax-planning mistakes along the way and your nest egg can become a golden egg for the government.

    Unfortunately, taxes don't get less complicated when you retire. In fact, they get more baffling. Adding to the challenge is that our ability to make clear financial decisions declines as we age.

    [InvestingAnswers Feature: How Our Aging Brain Affects Our Financial Decisions]

    Here are three common tax pitfalls that seniors run into and suggestions on how to avoid them:

    1. Forgetting to Take or Miscalculating Your Minimum Required Distribution (MRD)


    In general, the deal with retirement accounts is that you can't touch the money until you're old enough to retire (usually age 59½). Touching it earlier than that usually comes with a huge penalty from the IRS.
    Many people reach age 59½ and don't want to start taking money out of their retirement accounts. Maybe they're not ready to retire or they don't want to burn through the

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  • 7 Car Insurance Myths You Can't Afford to Believe

    Photo by I See Modern Britian via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by I See Modern Britian via Flickr Creative Commons. Most of us coast through life thinking that because we're up to date on our car insurance premium, we're covered in the event of an accident.

    That could be the case, unless you're hit by an uninsured driver. Or your car is stolen. Or a friend borrowing it gets into an accident. These are just a few of the situations that almost everyone believes they're protected from, but actually aren't. If you're not properly protected, any of these could end up costing you a small fortune.

    And if you think this could never happen to you, consider this: The Insurance Research Council estimates that 16.1% of drivers are uninsured, and just a few years ago, the California Department of Insurance reported that as many as 28% of drivers in California didn't have any car insurance.

    Often times, your state's legal requirements aren't enough to cover the costs that can occur in the event of an accident. Even the required comprehensive coverage necessary for most auto loans doesn't include uninsured

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  • 4 Ways Young People Can Get Ahead with Money

    Get ahead with money now, enjoy the benefits later. Get ahead with money now, enjoy the benefits later. Being young can be hard, financially speaking. You might be one of the many who are buried under student loans and tuition payments, or you might be taking on a mortgage for the first time, making car payments, feeding a new family, working on the bottom half of the career ladder, and taking on all the other monetary responsibilities that await after the graduation ceremonies are over.


    1. Be Financially Literate

    One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and your future is to understand as much about the world of investing as you can. Ignorance makes you a sucker. So read, ask questions, and take classes. You don't need to become an accountant or a financial planner, but every single American does need to have a working knowledge of markets and instruments, how diversification and asset allocation work, how the credit markets work, the different kinds of insurance that exist, and how retirement accounts work, for example. That's just the beginning, but the

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  • 10 of the Most Powerful Women in Finance

    These women have taken the finance world by storm. These women have taken the finance world by storm. What does it take to become ranked as a top woman of finance?
    The same thing it takes for a man: knowledge, competence, creativity, perseverance and maybe a little luck thrown in, to boot.
    The women on our list are at the top of their field, setting the bar for the next generation of female financial superstars. But at the same time, they are still continuously expanding their sphere of influence.

    A soft drink executive is leading the healthy eating movement; a former computer executive is raising $1 billion to pursue opportunities in China; a finance minister is being primed to take over one of the world's most influential banks.

    All of these women have remarkable resumes and are at the top of their game. So, in no particular order, here are our top 10 most powerful women in finance:

    1. Abby Joseph Cohen -- Partner/Sr. U.S. Investment Strategist, Goldman Sachs
    As one of the most influential economic analysts in the world, Abby Joseph Cohen is known throughout the financial

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