Personal Finance Column

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 Personal Finance 

How to confess financial infidelity


Financial infidelities — like hiding a shopping spree or gambling away home equity — can blow up a relationship, but they’re surprisingly common.

About 42% of people who share bank accounts with a partner admitted to cheating financially, according to Harris Poll funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education.

  • 22% hid a minor purchase.
  • 20% hid cash.
  • 12% hid a bill.
  • 6% hid a bank account.
  • 7% hid a major purchase.

Cheaters who own up to transgressions and work through money problems often improve their relationship, says Tina Tessina, author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.
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 Personal Finance 

6 simple ways to save more and worry less

If you had to rely on your savings to live, do you know how long it would last?

Forty-seven percent of Americans said their savings would last three months or less if they went through a financial crisis, according to a recent survey by NeighborWorks America.

Whether your stash is large, small, or somewhere in between, putting away a little – or a lot – more doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, following a few steps can make a large impact, especially over time.

The following strategies can help you boost the amount you’re putting away, and build momentum into your savings plan.

Have goals for your savings.

The idea of saving more may sound appealing, but without direction, following through is usually an uphill climb. “It’s incredibly hard to get anywhere without a destination,” explains Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network.

Sit down with your family and talk about what you want to accomplish, both in the coming months and also in the years ahead. Together, create a list of what you want to save more for, such as a plush emergency fund, an upcoming two-week vacation, college, another vehicle, a new deck, or retirement.
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 Personal Finance 

Wealth building choices of your richest neighbors

Here’s a little secret about building wealth.

There is no secret.

Ask pretty much any self-made millionaire and you’ll get pretty much the same advice.

They’re where they are today because they made a few smart and surprisingly simple choices.

Choice 1. Spend (way) less than you earn

You’d be surprised at the modest lifestyles of many affluent families that earned their wealth (as opposed to inheriting it).

That’s because they got where they are today by carefully and deliberately making sure they spent less than they earned.

It’s the fundamental wealth-building principal from which all others stem.

Rather than let discretionary spending cut into your future wealth, find ways of throttling back on the extravagances.
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 Personal Finance 

How To Win McDonald’s Monopoly Game, 2014 Edition

Welcome to the 2014 edition of McDonald’s Monopoly game. The game has returned to its traditional schedule this year with a fall launch.

The fast-food giant last year caught everyone off guard by launching the game two months early — in July.

But fall just feels right for this game, doesn’t it?

The 2014 game began Sept. 30 and will end in restaurants Oct. 27 and online Nov. 10.

As we’ve done every year, we go over the rules to put together this guide to winning the game. It depends mostly on luck — and a ton of that, of course — but with our guide you can have a better-informed gaming experience.

New this year, you’ll have four chances to win $100,000 by finding the “Free Parking” game stamp on certain food items. And then there are shots at winning “experiences” with celeb sports stars like LeBron James combined with a trip to see a game or race. Target also makes an appearance this year, offering $5,000 shopping experiences with early access to Black Friday sales. Gas-for-a-year and $10,000 to help pay bills are also up for grabs.

Overall, though, the game hasn’t changed much. You can get a game board at or participating restaurants, though the board isn’t required. Get game pieces by purchasing food from McDonald’s or mailing in self-addressed, stamped envelopes.

Game pieces offer a mix of instant win prizes for food, money and other items, and additional prizes — including the $1 million jackpot — for putting Monopoly properties together. The odds of winning at least something in the store are about 1 in 4.
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 Personal Finance 

Can CDs be a good place for your emergency fund?

If your emergency fund is sitting in a savings account that pays virtually nothing you might consider investing those dollars in a certificate of deposit.

CDs are just as safe and you’ll earn a little more interest.

The only caveat is that you’ll have to make sure you don’t get hit with stiff early withdrawal penalties should you need access to those funds before the maturity date.

And let’s face it, you never know when an emergency will pop up and you’ll be relieved you have six months or so worth of expenses socked away.

(How much do you need to have available? Take a look at our plan for setting your emergency fund amount.)

So what CD should you choose?

To make a CD worthwhile, you’ll need one that beats the top nationally available savings rate, which has been stuck at 1.01% APY for more than a year.

To achieve that return you’ll probably need to commit your money to at least a 2-year CD.

Search Bankrate’s regularly updated database of the best CD rates to see how much you can earn.
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 Personal Finance 

Do loyal customers really get treated better?

Whether it’s through rewards programs or special invites, companies often tout an appreciation for customer loyalty.

Yet, every few months, I find myself challenging my Internet service provider over a “promotional offer” that has expired, which means I’m paying more than new customers.

It’s become a pretty standard call, and with a little negotiating, I can usually get them to bring my bill back down. But recently, this made me wonder: Do loyal customers actually get treated better?

Customer loyalty undoubtedly has great value for companies. But what about consumers?

Do consumers actually benefit from staying with a company or institution for a long time? Is there any added benefit to your loyalty to a company, or will a business exert the same amount of effort on any customer?

I spoke to a few professionals and experts to find out.
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 Personal Finance 

Feel like it’s time to intervene in a friend’s finances? Read this first

Intervening in a friends money mistakes doesn't always make senseSometimes, it’s hard not to be a money know-it-all. You witness a friend making terrible money decisions, and you just want to grab them by the collar and say, Dude. You’re doing it all wrong!

Talking about money isn’t easy. It’s also not easy to see a friend become overwhelmed by their finances because of bad money decisions.

So how do you know when it’s time to intervene with a friend’s money mistakes? Is a “money intervention” ever a good idea?

Syble Solomon is an expert in talking to people about money. That’s what she does for a living as the Founder and President of LifeWise Strategies and creator of Money Habitudes.

“Before offering anyone advice, ask yourself a few questions,” Solomon says.
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 Personal Finance 

Why saving money is for idiots

Why saving money is for idiotsThese days it seems you can’t surf the Web without running into some self-proclaimed “finance guru” peddling easy, painless answers for complex money problems. These shysters are always going on about “saving money” and “planning for the future” while your bank account gets drained buying their expensive ebooks and PDFs. Well, you can throw their books in the book trash, because I have discovered one really simple and weird old trick that will end all of your wallet woes:

Stop saving, and start wasting money.
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