Government 
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Your take: Are you worried about US default?

Have you learned to stop worrying and love default?It’s now less than a week until the federal government is projected to run out of accounting tricks and come up hard against the debt limit, the maximum amount the U.S. is allowed to borrow under existing law.

After that, what happens next is hard to predict. The government might be able to prioritize payments to Treasury investors for a while by stiffing other groups owed money, such as active military personnel and Medicare and Social Security recipients.

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 Investing 
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How a debt ceiling crisis and U.S. default would annihilate your 401(k)

If you own stocks and the U.S. breaches the debt ceiling, you're gonna have a bad timeIf you’ve been tuning out the dire warnings coming from economists and politicians about a possible debt ceiling crisis, I can’t really blame you. Politicians in particular spend a lot of time stirring up public fear about supposedly imminent but ultimately nonexistent crises in order to push their policy agenda (“the domino theory,” “death panels,” etc.).

But I believe a failure to raise the debt ceiling, and the default of Treasury debt it would trigger, would have real and seriously crappy consequences, particularly for all the people invested in the stock market through their retirement plans.


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 Retirement 
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4 red flags of a bad 401(k) plan

Some 401(k)s have big red flags like these.One of the great advantages of working for “the man” is retirement benefits, including the possibility of contributing to a 401(k) plan that offers you the chance to save for retirement with pre-tax dollars.

But are all 401(k) plans created equal? Certainly not. Right now, Fidelity Investments is being sued by some of its current and former employees due to the nature of its plan. According to the lawsuit, Fidelity’s plan funnels employees into investments that have high costs, and might not provide the best bang for the buck. (Fidelity plans to fight the suit, and counters that there are plenty of low-cost choices available with its plan.)

Seeing a lawsuit like this hit one of the biggest providers of workplace retirement plans in the country should make you wonder: How does your own plan stack up?
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 Investing 
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Are your genes influencing your investing decisions?

Is your DNA influencing your finances?We hear a lot about money personalities, and how they influence our financial decisions. But why do you have the money personality that shows through in your life? What’s behind it? The answer might be in your genes.

When it comes to the decisions you make with regard to financial risk, research shows that your genetic makeup can be a big influence.

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 Investing, Retirement 
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How to choose between a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k)

401KIt’s been several years since the Roth 401(k) was introduced to the American retirement scene. As this retirement planning option has become more well-known, and as more employers offer the Roth version of the venerable 401(k), more workers are faced with making a decision about which is more likely to help them reach their retirement goals.

If your employer offers access to a Roth 401(k), it makes sense to rethink your retirement contribution plan. Here’s how to decide which type of 401(k) to use for your retirement investment.


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 Investing 
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4 ways to be an easy mark for investor fraud

Don't be like FryGrowing your wealth through sensible investing can seem like an agonizingly slow process sometimes. Even in a great year when the stock market returns 15 percent, it takes a whole year to make $1,500 on a $10,000 investment. Toss in there years where the markets show flat or negative returns, and it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck on a treadmill.

That’s probably why promising huge, guaranteed returns with no plans to ever actually return peoples’ money continues to be such a great business in the U.S.; more than $20 billion was stolen through investor fraud in 2011 and 2012, according to estimates from the Department of Justice.


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 Personal Finance 
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Your take: Fit all finance advice on a 3×5 card

What personal finance advice do you consider essential?
This week a fascinating exercise by University of Chicago professor and Incidental Economist writer Harold Pollack made the rounds in the blogosphere.

Asked by a reader “What is this simple free best personal finance advice that fits on a 3×5 card?” Pollack filled out an index card with what he thinks is all the knowledge you need to manage your personal finances.


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 Investing 
18
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1 question to transform your finances

Pitcher of beer? Doesn't produce cash flowsTalking to Bankrate’s senior financial analyst Greg McBride about investing in gold one day, I asked him why he thought gold was, in general, not a great place for normal people to put their money. His reply was something like, “It’s metal. It doesn’t produce cash flows.”

Later I thought, why not apply that to everything?


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