Consumer Items

The Piggy Bank Strategy

Wealth starts with a goal, discipline, and saving a dollar at a time. Call it the piggy bank strategy. There are lessons in that time-honored coin-savings container.

Any seemingly gargantuan task seems easier to contemplate when reduced to baby steps. If you wished to climb a 12,000-foot mountain, and could do it a day at a time, you would only have to climb 33 feet daily to reach your summit.

How Do You Manage Wealth?

For some, “wealth management” means managing money. For others, setting up estate planning. For still others, planning how to protect assets. There’s no right universal answer – but the answer for you dictates your entire investing and saving philosophy.

4 Harmful Market Myths

Market myths keep proliferating, and they are dangerous to your portfolio. Among the worst are: IPOs are the road to riches, ditto biotech, Apple is over and moribund stocks will stay that way.

The Fed’s Inflation Problem

Most people think inflation is bad on its face. But one school of economic thought holds that a little inflation is a good thing, if it is confined to assets like stocks and real estate. But if it spills over to the supermarket or the gas station, no one is an inflation fan. Our central bank’s policy is to goose asset prices, thus getting the sluggish economy finally moving. Trouble is, that kind of precision is a tall order.

Net Worth Nonsense

What is the net worth of U.S. households? You can cut the statistics any number of ways, but the right answer is: low. A recent report would have us believe the number is rosy. It isn’t.

The dubious report, from the American Enterprise Institute think tank, claims that the net worth of the average American household is now $700,000 – up from $406,000 just 10 years ago.

Average? Of $700,000? I don’t think so.

What Your Pet Costs

Your pet cuddles, purrs, flies, slithers or otherwise takes over your heart. Your little buddy can also empty your wallet fast as prices for food and other pet services mount. When figuring out your family budget, do not neglect to count the many day-to-day costs of animal ownership.

I can’t imagine our house without our 11-year-old Labrador retriever, Taxi. If you’re sick, she’s there; if you’re happy, she’s happy. If you have popcorn you’re her best friend.

Hazards of Travel Planning

Trip planning is complex, involving everything from budgeting to itineraries to questions about comfort. How to fly to your destination without suffering is a major consideration. Here’s how to do it without getting squeezed both financially and physically.

There are two measures of airplane seat comfort. “Width” is the size of the seat in inches across. “Pitch” is the distance between your seat and the seat in front of you. As airlines pursue increased revenues, they squeeze more seats into economy sections on many aircraft, decreasing both width and pitch.

Millennials’ Credit Scores

Your credit score ranks as one of the most important numbers in your young adult life. Here’s what to know as you build one.

This three-digit number acts as your financial report card, representing your creditworthiness and an indication to potential lenders of the likelihood that you pay debts on time. If you’re a millennial, born in the 1980s and early 1990s, you must start building this indispensable tool of financial adulthood.

8 Keys to a Workable Budget

Your financial planning revolves around what you control. Here’s how to take charge of your budgeting fundamentals.

We can’t control stock market returns, tax rates or unexpected events. We can plan to mitigate risks through diversification, tax planning and insurance. Of all areas in financial planning, we most control our income, expenses and savings, making it extremely important to create a workable budget.

Below are keys to creating a budget you stick to.

Finding Free Tax Preparation

Lots of people find free tax preparation an excellent way to file. Here’s what to know before your return comes due April 15.

Quite a few providers allow you to prepare a simple return for free; complex returns cost more, of course. If you use a commercial organization to prepare your return for free, beware of add-ons that make a supposedly free process extremely costly.


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