Personal Finance 
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How to Set FSA Amount

The last post on how to spend down your FSA was designed for folks who have just a few dollars left in their account. If you have a few hundred dollars left, you need to do more. You still have to spend it, because FSA balances are lost if you don’t spend it before the year ends, but you need to adjust your FSA amount down to more accurately reflect how much you need. It’s great to have that tax-free money to spend on medical supplies, as long as you need the medical supplies!

This is how we go about setting our FSA amounts.

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 Personal Finance 
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How to Spend Down Your FSA

Clever Cupcakes: Doctors, Nurses, and HospitalsWith the end of the year rapidly approaching, chances are you still have a few dollars left in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), if you have one. The old backup solution is to stock up on over the counter supplies but that might not be the most effective use of your FSA dollars. OTC products are great as a backup, but there are a few things you should try to do before just buying a million bottles of Advil.

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 Personal Finance 
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How to Adjust Your Tax Withholding

Tax entry in DictionaryEvery year, millions of American taxpayers get a tax rebate in the Spring. For some, it’s a planning tool – you can’t spend money if you don’t have it in your bank account. For others, it’s just something that has always happened. It isn’t a benefit, it isn’t a drawback, you’ve just always gotten a rebate in the Spring and it’s been a night surprise.

What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could do something to avoid giving the government a tax free loan each year for no reason? Fortunately there is and it involves adjusting your tax withholding on your paycheck.

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 Investing 
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How to Determine Your Asset Allocation

Gold Bars and Some CoinsAsset allocation is probably one of the hardest parts about investing because while we all know it’s important, we don’t really know what we’re supposed to do. We know that diversification is crucial but we aren’t entirely sure why outside of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Fortunately, there are some simple systems out there that can shed some light onto the asset allocation question.

This post is part of the Bargaineering Annual Financial Review week series where we take a closer look at the four major facets of personal finance and see if we can do better. This post is part of day three – taking a closer look at your investments.


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 Investing 
15
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BVC #23: Your Mutual Fund May Be Ripping You Off [VIDEO]

When it comes to investing, you can’t predict the future. What you can predict, with 100% certainty, is how much your broker is going to charge to get you there. If you’re like me, the majority of your stock market investments are in mutual funds in retirement accounts like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs. While we can’t control how they will perform, we can be smart about where we invest by picking good funds with reasonable costs.

In this video, I look at some index funds, the easiest type of fund to compare, and how picking a low cost one can make a huge difference in your retirement nest egg.

Bargaineering #23: Your Mutual Fund May Be Ripping You Off from JIM WANG on Vimeo.



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 Personal Finance 
17
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Annual Credit Report Reminder

This morning, I wrote about the importance of regularly checking your credit report. The hardest part about the whole process is remembering to request a report every four months!

So I decided to leverage the power of the Internet to create a mailing list that will remind you every 122 days (365 days divided by 3) to go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your report. The first email will remind you to request your Equifax credit report today. In 122 days you’ll get a reminder to request your Experian credit report. In another 122 days you’ll get a reminder to request your TransUnion credit report. Then in another 121 (to account for the extra day), you’ll get a reminder for Equifax again. You can sign up using this short form here:
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 Credit 
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Review Your Credit Report Annually

Credit Card on a KeyboardThe Fair Credit Reporting Act gives us the right to see our credit reports every twelve months. I’ve written in the past that I like to stagger my requests so that I get one report every four months, giving me the most up to date information as frequently as possible (without paying for a service).

Reviewing your credit report on a regular basis, whether it’s staggered or all three at once, is important because you want to catch identity fraud and credit report errors (errors are common) as early as possible. The worst case scenario is when you discover a problem because a lender, who pulled your credit to make a loan decision, has questions about some odd entries. Cleaning up a mistake early can pay dividends down the road, especially since it’s free and only costs you time.

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 Credit 
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What is Credit Utilization?

Credit utilization is one of the most important components of your credit score, a three digit number that is increasingly becoming one of the most important numbers in your life. Credit utilization refers to how much you are using your available credit. Take your total credit balances, divide it by your total credit limit, and the percentage is known as your credit utilization.

Simple right? So why is it so important?

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