Personal Finance 
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Four Money Lessons from Nature

Squirrel Chewing Nuts!When you get down to the core of money, it’s really just an abstraction of natural resources. You accept money for your labor because, ultimately, it can buy you the things you want. Food and shelter, at the core of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, are just two of the things you can buy when you have money.

That’s why it’s not so much a leap to look towards nature for lessons about money. Is an acorn to a squirrel any different than a dollar to you or me? Nope. Animals deal with natural resources every single day, in such a simple and easy to understand way, so certainly there is something we can learn from our flora and fauna?

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 Retirement 
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Average Retirement Savings by Age

Tradeking - Discount Online BrokerI don’t put much stock in most “averages,” whether they’re rules of thumb or average net worth, but every once and a while it’s good to know where you stand.

So where do we find the average retirement savings by age? We are forced to rely on the internet. Unfortunately, with the recent stock market crash, writing about nest eggs and average retirement savings hasn’t been very popular. To get data, we turn to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s latest report on Individual Account Retirement Plans (August 2009).

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 Credit 
16
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How to Increase Your Credit Limit

If a recent Your Take post on credit card credit limits is any indication, there’s no secret to getting a higher credit limit on your card. I thought I was high with a near $70,000 credit limit but plenty of people had total unsecured credit limits in the $60,000 – $100,000 range. While it wasn’t a scientific survey, I wouldn’t surprised to read that, in general, unsecured credit limits are much higher than people expect.

That being said, I think a good way for a consumer to protect themselves from the somewhat unpredictable credit score system is by increase their credit limits as much as possible without increasing how many credit cards they have.

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 Personal Finance 
28
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Work To Live or Live To Work? [VIDEO]

My wife and I recently returned from the most amazing trip to Europe. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, whirlwind trips where you have a ridiculous amount of fun, meet all manner of interesting people, and come back more cultured, educated, and open-minded than you ever expected.

In this video, I talk about the idea of whether we are working to live or living to work and how it’s important to take a step back, from time to time, to think about our situation.



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 Credit 
11
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Fixing Credit Report Errors

Rusty WrenchA few years ago I had a little credit report error incident. I just started a new job and was going through a background investigation, which included a review of my credit history. In the course of that review, the investigator noticed that there was an address listing on the report that I hadn’t previously disclosed. The reason I never mentioned the address is because it wasn’t mine.

When he told me, I feared the worst. I thought I was joining the millions of people who have their identity stolen each year. In fact, just a year before that, a friend was telling me how it took him several months to get his identity recovered and even then everything credit-related was a pain. So my mind immediately jumped to ID theft.

Fortunately, it was an isolated, albeit strange, credit report error that was relatively easy to resolve. The error was the addition of an address, a Social Security Number (that differed from my SSN by one digit), and a telephone/cable package. I went through the usual protocols of disputing the information, thinking the onus was on the other party to prove that information was true, but I was wrong.

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 Personal Finance 
12
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Citi Removes Automatic Travel Insurance

Credit cards often have little-used perks when you buy something with their card, such as double the manufacturer’s or auto liability insurance. Well, another one of the casualties in the financial meltdown is the reduction of these once overlooked perks. The latest? Automatic travel insurance.

I recently received word that Citibank will be removing the automatic travel accident insurance benefit from all cards on September 1st. The benefit, outlined in their list of travel accident insurance product list & disclosures states that under the existing plan:

When you use these cards to buy plane, train, ship or bus tickets, you, your spouse and eligible dependent children are each automatically covered for up to $1,000,000 of Automatic Travel Accident Insurance, at no additional cost to you.

Automatic Travel Accident Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. Certain conditions, restrictions and exclusions apply. Details of coverage will be provided upon cardmembership.

Citi recently instituted annual fees on some cardholders and now they’re removing an insurance I’ve never used. I think the CARD Act has a lot to do with this and we’ll be seeing more and more of these types of things from all credit card issuers.


 Investing 
10
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TradeKing vs. Zecco: Discount Broker Comparison

When Zecco first appeared on the discount broker scene, everyone celebrated their $0 stock trade commissions. I know it caught my attention, there are very few things that beat free. Even when reports of customer service woes rolled in, I still thought their offer was the best of the bunch. If you are paying $0 per stock trade, you can’t expect them to have an army of customer service reps there to answer your every call. You get what you pay for and you pay nothing.

Then I learned about TradeKing, which charges $4.95 a trade. $4.95 isn’t free but it’s certainly cheaper than E*Trade, where I was paying $9.99 a trade. Not only were the trades cheap, but TradeKing had been winning best customer service awards and best discount broker awards for years. So when Zecco stopped offering no-strings attached free trades, I knew we needed to compare the two straight up to get a better idea of which one was tops.

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 Personal Finance 
71
comments

How to Win the Lottery

Lottery Money PiggybankThe only time I’ve ever played the lottery is when the Powerball pot gets to be astronomical and my co-workers pool together some money to buy a few tickets together (this was several years ago). Outside of a few scratch off tickets for grins and giggles, I avoid lotteries unless they’re for local charities.

That being said, a lot of people still play, knowing full well they’ll probably never win. The pots don’t get to be that big unless they’re being fed by the daily tickets of so many players. Some of the savvier players turn to the internet for advice on how to win the lottery and today I will offer up the best advice anyone can give:

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