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Mark Riddix
Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, Your Financial Playbook.

5 Things To Do Before You Buy A Car

By Mark Riddix

Buying a car should not feel like taking a trip to the dentist. Many car buyers make their visit to the dealership much more painful than it needs to be. An uninformed consumer is fresh prey to an unscrupulous salesman. You can avoid being taken advantage of by preparing yourself even before you ever set foot in a showroom. Knowledge is power, and this is ESPECIALLY true when buying a car. Here is some advice based on experience for how to prepare yourself before walking into a car dealership:

1. Researching your car online.

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DIRECTV vs. Dish Network Review

By Mark Riddix

Have you been considering making the switch to satellite TV? The two major satellite companies are begging for your business. They are trashing each other’s reputations to win you as a customer. If you watch a DIRECTV commercial, then you will come away believing that Dish Network is a terrible value. Tune into a Dish Network commercial and you will believe that DIRECTV has horrible service. Who is really telling the truth? Which is the better value? Let’s size up both competitors and see who comes out standing:

DIRECTV vs. Dish Network

DIRECTV

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The Simplest Way To Diversify Your Retirement Plan

By Mark Riddix

I can tell you from experience that diversifying your portfolio can be a real headache if you aren’t sure of the proper way to do it. You could end up owning a large number of stock funds and bond funds. It can get even more complicated trying to diversify using equities. You could find yourself holding 20 or 30 different stocks. Trying to keep up with that many different investments could drive you insane.

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Personal Finance Roundup: Boosting Your Income

By Money Crashers

Once again it’s time for the weekly roundup. We have searched high and low to bring you the best personal finance posts on the internet. This week I want to start off the roundup with ways to boost your income. Everyone can use a few extra dollars each month to help pay some bills or add to their emergency savings account. Increasing your income will help you get one step closer to retirement. First up is Personal Finance Firewall with his post on Low Cost Business Ideas To Supplement Or Replace Your Income.

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Best Ways To Stimulate The United States Economy And Create Jobs

By Mark Riddix

What is the number one topic on the mind of American citizens? The answer is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (and not Steve Jobs of Apple)! High unemployment and a slow recovery have everyone worried about the current job market. Policymakers, business owners, and individual citizens all have different ideas about the best way to stimulate job growth. The ideas being proposed vary from spending more money to cutting taxes. Let’s take a look at a few of the best job creation ideas being discussed:

A Second Stimulus

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Debate: Should The Bush Tax Cuts Be Extended?

By Mark Riddix

One of the most heavily debated topics in Congress right now is whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts were a lowering of income and capital gains taxes for all Americans. These tax cuts contained a sunset provision which would allow them to expire at the end of this year. Both parties agree that 98% of Americans should continue receiving tax cuts. Tax cuts will be renewed for individuals making under $200,000 a year and couples making under $250,000. The debate is over extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans and large corporations. When you read the headlines, it makes sense to oppose tax cuts for the people who can afford taxes and will never notice it, but it’s a little more complicated than what the headlines depict. Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument for and against tax cuts and then feel free to chime in with your thoughts at the end:

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7 Best Movies For Learning About Personal Finance

By Mark Riddix

You might find it surprising to know that reading isn’t the only way to learn about personal finance. You can make learning about personal finance even more fun by watching a movie. That’s right! There are many movies that contain useful tips about money management. So that you don’t have to go searching all over the Internet, I have put together a list of my 7 favorite movies for learning about finance. And I promise, these movies are NOT boring! Most of them cover a broad range of financial issues that hit all of us in a very personal way, because money is such a big part of our lives. Here is my list:

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5 Strategies For Earning Passive Income

By Mark Riddix

I recently wrote a post on the importance of adding passive income to your income stream. Passive income can make your life a whole lot easier by increasing the amount of money that you earn and decreasing your dependency on your work income. A passive income stream can even shave years off your active working years until retirement. Today, I would like to take a look at a couple of strategies for generating passive income. Remember, passive income is money you make even when you’re sleeping and not doing anything. Some people like to think of freelance work as “passive income.” That’s not true, it would be considered an alternative stream of income, not passive income. These ideas are ones that will be making you money even when you’re not doing anything:

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Why You Should Be Developing A Passive Income Stream

By Mark Riddix

Are you hoping to make enough money from your current job so that you can retire? If so, then you may need to rethink your plan. Things have changed from the days of your parents and grandparents. In the old days, you could work for the same company for 30 to 40 years and you could retire with a nice pension plan. This is no longer the case today due to fewer workplace benefits and lower wages. While your earned income may be enough to pay your bills, it may not be enough to finance your retirement. The solution may be found in creating more passive income.

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5 Chores You Can Do Yourself To Save Money

By Mark Riddix

In these tight economic times, everyone is looking for ways to cut back. Cutting back may mean eliminating a few services that you are paying outside contractors for and instead do them for yourself. You could free up at least $100 or more every week by taking a more active role in the following duties. Eliminating large, fixed expenses that you pay on a monthly basis will usually result in a larger savings over the long term rather than focusing on the small little luxuries in life that we spend money on sporadically. Here are 5 tasks that you can do yourself:

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Negotiating A Gym Membership Contract

By Mark Riddix

Has anyone else gone through the perils of joining a fitness center? Joining a gym can be an incredibly agonizing experience. I am speaking from experience. I went to a join a local fitness center and the entire process was a hassle. The salesman did not want to tell me the price of a gym membership without first locking me into an expensive long term contract. I was assured that if I left I would never be able to get this price again. It was a “special” for today only and would expire after I left. After spending three hours negotiating my gym contract, I left with a reasonable deal. The most important thing that I learned that day is to be prepared.

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When Does It Make Sense To Use A Credit Card?

By Mark Riddix

In a perfect world you would never have to use a credit card for any purchases. Everything that you want could be paid for quickly and easily with cash from your bank account. Although that is the ideal situation, sometimes it simply is not possible. There are some situations in which using a credit card actually makes sense. At Money Crashers we do not support amassing large amounts of debt using a credit card, but there are some occasions where using a credit card is just easier as long as you remain disclipined and you’re not using it as a tool for “free money” when you don’t actually have the funds to support such purchases.

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What is a Traditional IRA – Restrictions and Benefits

By Mark Riddix

A Traditional IRA is very much like a Roth IRA except for the tax treatment. The Traditional IRA’s key advantage is that it allows an individual to make annual tax-deductible contributions to one’s retirement fund, but unlike the Roth IRA, the traditional IRA does not allow for earnings to grow tax-free. Ultimately, it comes down your personal financial situation when determining which IRA account is better for you.

Let’s go into a bit more detail regarding the Traditional IRA:

Traditional IRA Eligibility

Here are the rules to be eligible to fully contribute to a Traditional IRA:

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Do You Have Enough Money For Retirement?

By Mark Riddix

Not having enough money for retirement is a problem that plagues a lot of older Americans. Baby boomers have been especially affected by the elimination of pension plans and the drop in retirement benefits. According to a study performed by CNN Money, 47% of baby boomers will not have enough cash to meet their retirement needs. These seniors are scrambling to find ways to make ends meet after their working years are over. So, how can you avoid this predicament? Here are 4 ways to ensure that you have enough money for retirement:

Save more money

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Best Places To Go For Capital To Start Your Small Business

By Mark Riddix

Do you have a great idea for a startup but don’t have the money to get it started? Well, don’t let that stop you! Now is a great time to start your own business. Commercial banks may have cut down on lending to small businesses that need capital, but there are a number of places that you can turn to for much needed funding for your business idea. First, you need to get over the fear of starting your own business.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, here are 6 places that you can turn to in order to fund your small business:

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