What Will a Fed Interest Rate Hike Mean to You?

Update 03/15/2017: The Fed has announced a quarter point increase as expected.

For almost 10 years, while our economy has been struggling to recover from the recession, one thing that has been a big plus and important to people has been the historic lows in interest rates, but that may be about to change. While the job market was down, the stock market was down, and the emotions of the American people were down, interest rates were adjusted so that many people were still able to afford to buy a home and use their credit cards. But, the Federal Reserve Board (a.k.a. the Fed) raised interest rates last December for just the second time in the last 10 years. That may be the beginning of a huge change over the next couple of years, and that begs a lot of questions.

On Wednesday, it's pretty likely that we'll see a Fed interest rate hike. Here's what that means for the different areas of your financial future.

What a Fed Interest Rate Hike Could Mean

1. How certain is a rise in interest rates?

There is little doubt that interest rates will go up again, beginning this coming week. On Wednesday, March 15th the Fed is expected to announce just that. It’s a move that was almost guaranteed by the good news about the job reports released last week, increases of 235,000 jobs and the drop of the unemployment rate to a low 4.7%. There was also good news about wage growth that further indicates the recovery is moving along at a much better rate than before. Continue reading

Do You Save Collectibles for Fun…or Profit?

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a collector, and I’ve been gathering collectibles since I was a kid. I’ve also been looking around for ways to make some extra money and wondered: could my collections make me a profit?

Gathering collectibles like stamps or coins can be a fun hobby, but some people collect with the hopes of making a profit. Can it really be profitable?

As the saying goes, sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and that’s certainly true when you collect items. It is an activity that almost everyone has participated in at some time or another in their lives. I have done it and I’m betting that you have as well. It says something about you and your personality when you are a “collector” as your collection usually involves something that’s close to your heart and that you really enjoy. Continue reading

Avoid Financial Disaster by Paying Off Your High-Interest Debt

It’s practically a given that you’re in debt. According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, 80% of Americans have some form of debt and 39% of Americans have credit card debt, which is typically high interest debt. And 69% said debt is a necessity in their lives! It doesn’t have to be…paying off debt helps to bring financial security to your life. As part of America Saves Week 2017 (#ASW17), today I’m going to talk about how to pay off high-interest debt.

As part of America Saves Week 2017, here are some tips on paying off debt, especially high-interest debts like credit card balances.

While a low-interest mortgage to secure housing or education may make sense, carrying high-interest credit card debt is a financial disaster waiting to happen. Some of us can’t stay away from racking up huge debt no matter how much money we earn. It has little to do with age, gender, background, or even where you live. It is, however, a common thread that results in spending money we just don’t have. Habits like that are not only hard to break but can result in financial suicide. It happens every day to someone. Continue reading

Financial News of the Future: The News 20 Years from Now!

Back in the late 1960’s, the classic TV show Laugh-In featured a segment that was called “News of the Future”. It was supposed to be just humor but amazingly their predictions of what would happen hit the mark quite a few times and when you look back on it you might even say “yeah, I could have seen that coming!”

Today I'm bringing you the financial news of the future, 20 years in advance! Imagine what you could do if you knew what was yet to come.

It would be so cool to actually be able to predict things in the future. First of all, you could make a living at it because just about everyone would be interested in it if you actually could deliver. But further, you could make yourself a small fortune placing your bets on things like stocks and bonds, gambling events, and sporting events, parlaying your abilities into big profits! Continue reading

Frugal or Cheapskate… Am I Just Too Damned Cheap?

So I’m out having dinner with my daughter and the bill comes to the table. It’s my treat (of course, since she rarely has the money to pick up any tab) and I pull out my rewards card for the loyalty points and of course the coupon: “Save $10.00 off any 2 dinners with the purchase of 2 drinks”. And then it happens.

“Dad, do you always have to use a coupon? It’s so embarrassing, like can’t you just enjoy this without having that? Are you that cheap?”

There's a difference between being frugal and being a cheapskate. It takes some self-reflection to determine which you are, and how you got that way.

It never fails to amaze me when that conversation begins, and it often does. I have tried most of my life to teach both my children about being thrifty, or frugal if you prefer! For some unexplainable reason they just don’t seem to get it. Is it being cheap to want to conserve my money? Is it being cheap to take my daughter out to dinner? A free dinner for her? Exactly what is it that embarrasses her? Continue reading

How Will You Handle The Final Affairs Of A Loved One?

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences you will ever have, which is only compounded by having to handle their final affairs and their estate. There’s no doubt that dealing with a subject like the loss of a friend or family member is emotional, stressful, and a cause of great despair. When you get to be around my age, you have probably dealt with this kind of event far too often, and frankly no matter how many times you have, it is never a comfortable feeling.

Losing a loved one is tragic, but are you prepared to handle their final affairs and their estate? Here's a short primer on what you need to know.

There are many details that must be taken care of to make this kind of event orderly and to take care of all of the important details that the decedent wanted. This only adds an element of anxiety and pressure to an already stressful situation. Knowing what needs to be done can help to ease your mind. Continue reading

If I Had a Million Dollars, I’d Spend It Like This

How many times have you thought about how you’d spend a million dollars if it were suddenly yours? Like a zillion times? And that was probably just this past week, right? So here’s my problem. I really want a million dollars and I’m tired of just wishing for it.

Have you ever wondered what you'd do with a million dollars? I've given it a thought or two (or more) and here's how I would spend it.

Getting a Million Dollars

Back in the 1990’s, one of the biggest hit songs was The Barenaked Ladies singing “If I Had a Million Dollars”. Imagine, they probably made a million dollars just singing about that. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? So simple and yet why didn’t any of us do it? Continue reading

Income Tax Time – Do It Yourself or Tax Pro?

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It’s now income tax season and (hopefully) you are gathering all of your tax information and planning to file your return over the next couple months, certainly by the April 18th, 2017 deadline. Yes, you have a couple of extra days this year because the 15th is a Saturday and the 17th is a Washington, DC holiday this year.

It's time to get those income tax returns rolling. Are you going to hire a tax pro or DIY with online tools and software? Here's how to decide.

But once you’ve gathered your information, how are you planning to prepare your returns? Are you planning to do it yourself, or will you hire a tax professional to help? Continue reading

Do You Suffer From Fruguility (Frugality Guilt)?

Being frugal is an ideal that an awful lot of people follow these days and that number seems to be growing all the time. And there’s a good reason for that: things are really expensive. I mean if you’re looking to buy clothes and accessories, housing and furniture, cars and travel, we have to fight our urges to spend too much or else we may end up with guilty feelings.

Frugality is an admirable goal, but if you don't control your spending, you end up feeling guilty. It's important to strike a balance with your money.

Frugality and Its Challenges

Being frugal, that is being economical or thrifty with your money and your purchases, is a very worthy goal. There are so many thing that we actually need in our lives to not only survive, but to have some degree of comfort and satisfaction, that we must trade our money for things. We just can’t help that. Food, a place to live, etc. are requirements. But the vast majority of us go way beyond what is required and find ourselves involved with the attractive “wants” in our lives that are just so damned tempting and expensive. Continue reading

The Biggest, Most Foolish Financial Mistake I Ever Made!

If you’re anything like the typical guy or gal, you have stumbled into a few financial mistakes with your money over the years. It happens to an awful lot of people, usually when they are younger and less experienced in such matters. But have you ever made a big, dumb, crazy, stupid money decision that cost you thousands of dollars? One that you are mortified to tell people just how bad that decision was?

Everyone makes mistakes, but when I was younger I made a huge, foolish financial mistake. Those can be hard to recover from but it's important to move on.

Guilty! I have a real doozy in my financial past, and I am going public today to share it in detail with all of you. Not even my mother knew about this one, it was so personal and embarrassing that I just couldn’t tell her when it happened, or ever. The only person who knew how dumb and silly my actions were was the other person involved and my wife. Or should I say my ex-wife…hmmm, could there be some kind of connection there? Continue reading