401k vs. Roth IRA’s

It is never too early to be thinking about retirement.  Obviously, if you start early, then the earlier you can retire and the more money you will have working for you.  There are a number of ways to save for retirement, but the two most advantageous from a tax stand point are the company sponsored 401k and the government sponsored Roth IRA.  So which is better?  It depends…

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The Credit Card Lie

Lie:  Credit cards are a good financial tool and they will help you to build prosperity.

Truth:  In the end, credit cards only make the banks rich, and they make you poor.

The credit card epidemic probably started in the 1980’s and it is has run so rampant that dogs and dead people receive credit card applications every day.  Over 4 billion credit cards were issued last year according to Nellie Mae fiinancial services.  The problem is that millions of those credit card recipients cannot afford to be using them — including college undergraduates and recent college graduates.  Here are some alarming statistics taken from a 2002 statistical pool.

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Five Steps to Effective Budgeting

The foundation of developing good financial habits as a college graduate or recent graduate is creating solid budgeting skills. Budgeting is not an art, it is a skill that is taught by practicing over and over again. You do not need a degree in finance to create and maintain a budget. Follow these simple steps to create a solid budget.

Step 1: Gather Information.

Gather together all of your bank statements, receipts, and credit card statements for a given month. Create a number of categories for living expenses such as food, gas, rent/mortgage, utilities, clothing, loan payments, etc. Based on the information you gathered, make an educated estimate for the amount that you spend in each category. Also, figure out your take home income (total monthly income minus taxes).

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Taxes for First Timers

It’s that time of year again!  Everybody get excited, because it’s tax time!  Okay, there’s really no way to excite you about it, unless you know that you’re getting a tax return.  But even then, all you did was give the government an interest free loan for the year. 

There is a great article in Kiplinger’s magazine for guiding young people that are new to taxes.  Read it and pay attention to the deductions and credits that you may be elible for. 

Real Estate Bubble statistics

Everyone talks about the real estate bubble like it is a real, living human being.  They talk about it like this “bubble” has a mind of its own.  When I look at the statistics, it looks like things are not going to “pop”, they are just going to settle down.  Here are some statistics to substantiate that things are definitely settling down. 

This comes from the National Association of Realtors:

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  • From Oct. 2004 to Oct. 2005 — Single family homes on the market increased from 4.3  million  to 5.3 million.  Basically, the supply is rising significantly, but the demand is not

Destroying Your Debt

Financial periodicals and magazines love to run articles that try to diagnose a family’s financial problems.  They will start off by listing the assets and liabilities of the family, and then they turn to a certified financial planner (that sounds so official when you read it) to remedy the situation.  The problem is that they never target the main problem which is that the family has $15,000 in credit debt and a $30,000 home equity loan.  Their poor portfolio mix is always more important than the fact that they have $50,000 in consumer debt.  This is absurd! 

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