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Hackers, Social Media, and Your Credit Score

25 July, 2014

The research firm Risk Based Security reports that security intrusions more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, and the 2013 numbers look even higher. News events confirm this trend: It seems like every day another business or governmental organization has been hacked, and the magnitude of some of these data thefts is staggering. Some of the blame for these data thefts can be placed on lax or inadequate cyber security protocols by the businesses or institutions holding the data. But the other side of the coin is that people keep developing and using new data applications without considering how to protect them.


All-Weather Risk Management

27 June, 2014

An essential ingredient in a comprehensive financial program is risk management. Most often, we associate risk management with the threat of financial loss. But there is also an aspect of risk management that considers the financial consequences of missed profits. (Economists have a term for it: “opportunity cost,” i.e., what you “lose” if you cannot allocate resources to a specific opportunity.) A good risk management plan for personal finance addresses both types of risk, because... 

Now or Later? Maximizing Social Security

27 June, 2014

For those in the middle class approaching retirement, maximizing your Social Security benefits can represent a substantial long-term upgrade in retirement income. For those with high earnings histories who have also accumulated substantial assets, the current maximum Social Security payment of approximately $2,500/mo. may not impress. But if you paid into the plan, you are entitled to benefits. Even if you don’t “need it,” the financially efficient response is to maximize your benefits.

ROI (Return on Investment) and Financing For "Adventure Travel"

27 June, 2014

A college education has undeniable value. But prospective students and their parents should carefully weigh the financial dynamics of borrowing to obtain a degree. Skim the headlines and read how many recent graduates are struggling to stay afloat while dragging anchors of student loan debt. It may take longer, but a save-and-pay-as-you-go plan might be the financially efficient way to pay for your educational “adventure.”  And parents... If you want to give your children the adventure of a great education, now is the time to begin the funding process.

Designs, Dividends, and Mutuals, Oh My!

27 June, 2014

There is a growing awareness in the financial marketplace of life insurance as a unique asset, and the benefits of a cash value policy in coordination with other assets. If your financial circumstances are such that accumulating cash value is an attractive option, a rudimentary knowledge of policy design, dividend payments and the mutual structure should help your evaluation.

Basics for Beneficiaries

6 June, 2014

Filing a beneficiary claim on a life insurance policy, annuity contract or retirement account is an important financial transaction that requires exact documentation. While it’s not something most people want to handle in the days and weeks after a loved one passes away, the legal and tax implications require beneficiaries to take the time to properly execute these transactions. The specifics regarding a beneficiary claim may vary according to the type of asset, and the institution responsible for distributing benefits, but the following is a broad outline for beneficiaries to acquaint themselves with the process.