Personal Finance 
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Check Beneficiary Designations

Stop watchWhen it comes to what you want done with your money after you’re gone, it’s important to consider an estate plan. Estate planning is an essential part of making sure your money goes where you want it to. Proper estate planning can limit the amount of time your estate spends in probate — and reduce the fees and taxes that are paid on what you leave behind.

Estate planning sounds daunting, but it can be broken down into smaller pieces to make it more manageable. One of the easiest estate planning activities you can do is check your beneficiaries. Indeed, this can be done in under 55 seconds:
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 Debt 
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Create a Credit Card Debt Reduction Plan

Credit Card PlanOne of the best things you can do for your finances is to pay down your credit card debt. Credit cards are notorious for high interest rates and fees. Once you are trapped in the cycle of making credit card payments, it can be difficult to get out. And, worst of all, the interest that you pay on your credit card balances goes straight into someone else’s bank account. Interest, paid for the privilege of borrowing money, offers you no other benefit. It’s pure expense.

If you want to improve your finances, and move along the path to financial freedom faster, it is best to pay down your credit card debt as quickly as possible. Creating a debt pay down plan can seem a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can put together a credit card debt reduction plan in 55 seconds or less:

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 Investing 
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Choosing an Index Fund

One of the ways that you can diversify your portfolio, while at the same time limiting some of your risks, is to invest in index funds. An index fund is a group of investments that follows a specific index. If you invest in an all market index fund, then you get a little share of everything on the stock market. There are funds that follow the S&P 500. You can find index funds that follow specialty indexes, such as those for alternative energy, or small business. You can even find index funds for bonds and other investments.

While investing in index funds isn’t everything, this strategy can provide you with a way to earn market returns, pay low fees (index funds cost much less than actively managed mutual funds), and build up your nest egg. Choosing index funds, though, can be somewhat daunting. If you have a little less than a minute, though, you can get a head start on the process:

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 Banking 
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Juice Up Your Savings

Take a look at your savings accounts. What kind of interest yield are you receiving? Chances are that you could do better — especially if your money is sitting in a traditional savings account at your brick and mortar bank. Indeed, most “regular” savings accounts offered by banks and credit unions feature miniscule returns. That’s really not right when you consider how much money the financial institution is making by lending the money you have on deposit out to others at much higher rates.

It’s true that most people don’t expect to get much yield from a savings account. However, just because you don’t expect much doesn’t mean that you have to settle for rock bottom. Thanks to the Internet, you have access to savings account and CD rates from all over the country. You can even access credit union options from institutions that have very broad field of membership requirements.

There’s no reason to settle for an interest rate of 0.5% on your savings account. Best of all, it doesn’t take much time at all to juice up your savings interest. You can do it in 55 seconds or less:
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 Personal Finance 
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Finances in 55 Seconds: Create a Short-Term Savings Plan

StopwatchWe are often intimidated by financial projects. It seems like we should need hours to plan savings, or organize our finances. However, you might be surprised at what you can accomplish if you set aside some time to tackle one task. Too often we make things harder than they need to be. Creating a short-term savings plan is one of those projects that can quickly seem daunting.

Short-term savings, though, are important. It’s a good idea to have some small savings in a relatively liquid account. Short-term emergency savings can be used for items like unexpected car repairs, appliance repairs and other unexpected expenses that crop up. It’s not exactly the same thing as planning for months of unemployment, but it is way to give you a little extra padding that is accessible — and doesn’t require you to raid your long-term savings. This fund is usually between $1,000 and $3,000.

The best part: You can create your short-term savings plan in 55 seconds or less.

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