10 Best Real Estate Markets to Invest In Now – Hardest Hit by the Recession

monopoly real estate marketIt’s well known that some cities weather tough economic times better than others (Hello, Detroit? Are you still standing?). A recent Standard and Poor survey revealed that housing prices nationwide have fallen to their lowest levels since the beginning of the great recession.

If you’re a homeowner, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. Many American homeowners find themselves upside down on their mortgage loans, owing more than they could sell the home for in the current marketplace.

But if you don’t own a home, now might be a great time to buy real estate – especially if you live in one of the following cities, where the real estate markets have been hit the hardest.

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Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars – Small & Cheap

plugin carAs turmoil continues to erupt and longstanding regimes are falling in the Middle East and North Africa, the global community is feeling the economic effects of trouble in and around crucial oil-producing nations.

While the unrest may seem distant and foreign, instability abroad quickly affects us at home, especially when it comes to oil prices. Crude oil prices have already soared to over $100 a barrel, causing significant pain at the pump and rising gas prices. Gas prices in some parts of the United States have already reached $4 a gallon, and rates will keep climbing.

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How Much to Save for Retirement – Planning Strategies for Every Age

retirement fund binYou’ve heard plenty of lame one-liners and empty tokens of advice: Save 15% of your income to retire comfortably; save two grand per month to retire a millionaire; save a million dollars to retire comfortably; plan to withdraw 4% annually in retirement.

Financial advice isn’t helpful if all you get are platitudes and generalizations. Too often, experts toss around figures about how much you need to save and invest, without considering your long-term personal financial goals.

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Dividend Stock Investing Strategy – How to Choose the Best Dividend Stocks

stock market coins dividendsMany investors find themselves experiencing extreme emotional shifts in concert with the unpredictable rises and falls that come with stock market investing. Anxiety may hit like a ton of bricks when prices fall, while excitement sets hearts racing with exhilaration when they rise.

Those who choose to invest in long-term dividends, however, will not feel this same angst as stock prices shift. These investors know that the financial success of their investment is not based on the vagaries of the market itself, but rather on the long-term success of the company. They believe that the stock price and dividend will eventually rise over the long haul, resulting in huge gains over a long period of time.

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Military Retirement Pay & Pension Benefits Explained

us veteran retirementServing in the United States Armed Forces is a career choice that requires years of sacrifice, challenging and dangerous assignments, and fairly meager pay.

However, one of the benefits offered to the men and women who choose a life of service and sacrifice is a pension plan.

This pension is payable immediately upon retirement for qualified active duty service beyond 20 years.

What Is a Military Pension?

Military members are eligible for a pension (lifetime monthly paychecks), following 20 years of qualified active duty service. The amount of your lifetime payments are determined by the retirement program that you are eligible for. There are three programs:

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8 Tips for Optimizing Your Facebook Security Settings While Looking For a Job

facebook mouse clickMore and more employers are using Facebook as a tool in vetting potential candidates for employment. With the rise of social networking sites, we all have some kind of online presence that may reveal experiences that a potential employer would frown upon. You know what I’m talking about: the keg stand during college, a bachelorette party, maybe even comments from friends or relatives that may be embarrassing and childish.

The fact is, you don’t know what your future employer’s religious background, home life, or sensibilities are and it’s in your best interest to scale back your Facebook profile to the least offensive level as possible. There are opportunities to find jobs using social media tools so make sure you give yourself the best chance to succeed.

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12 Steps for How to Make a Budget – Personal Budgeting Tips for First Timers

budgeting calculator pen paperCreating your first budget can be extremely overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that only 40% of American families have a working monthly budget. But it’s worth the effort. Developing a budget that you can maintain over the long term  has been definitively linked to building wealth, while simultaneously helping you get out of debt and cut expenses.

When I built my first budget several years ago, I knew approximately how much money I was making annually, but I had never broken down my expenses by category to figure out what I could afford on a recurring basis, or how much money I could regularly invest.

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Target Date Mutual Funds – Pros & Cons Saving For Retirement

target date fundA target date fund is an attractive option for savvy passive investors. These mutual funds provide strong results with minimal effort, and adjust your investment risk level according to how soon you plan to retire. As a result, many 401k and IRA investors choose them as the backbone of their personal investment portfolios. As with any investment, however, not fully understanding these financial resources can cost you plenty.

In 2008 and 2009, many target date fund investors lost fortunes learning that funds without well-designed “glide paths” can leave you dangerously overexposed to stocks in the few years right before expected retirement. If you know how target date funds are designed – as well as their benefits and downsides – you’ll be able to choose the best target date fund for your portfolio.

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Income vs. Wealth – What’s the Difference?

man walking up coins“Income” and “wealth” have incorrectly become synonymous in American culture. While the two concepts often go hand in hand, using the terms interchangeably is misleading. America’s most wealthy individuals don’t necessarily draw the highest levels of income.

For example, while professional athletes, top executives, doctors, and lawyers have reputations for high salaries, their obligations can make accumulating significant wealth very difficult. Many wealthy individuals, on the other hand, have never earned an exceptionally large paycheck.

Income vs. Wealth – Different Definitions

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