How to Talk to Your Parents About Making a Family Will

reading living willA few weeks ago I was talking to my dad about a friend of his who had recently passed away. The friend hadn’t left a will for his family, which included several children and step-children. As a result, the family was in a tense situation, sorting through possessions and unsure who had a right to what.

Of course, this sad story naturally led me to ask my dad if he had written a will. Suddenly, the conversation came to a screeching halt. The tension inundated the room, and he said he hadn’t gotten to it yet. Then, he quickly changed the subject.

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Beware of the Real Cost of Rent-to-Own Stores for Furniture, Appliances & Electronics

tv in cartA few weeks ago, I sat in the parking lot at a local plaza watching people file in and out of one of those rent-to-own stores.

Without naming names, let’s just say that this particular store is a big one with locations throughout the country. I was astounded by how much business this place was getting.

It’s no secret that buyers end up paying far more than the sticker price at these stores. But are patrons even aware of this, and do they even care? What is it that keeps rent-to-own stores in business?

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What is a Secular Bear Market (Definition & Chart) and How to Invest In One

bear market chartThe stock market has risen about 90% since the March 2009 lows. Mind you, that rally followed a steep 57% decline. Still, in light of the gains of the past two years, how can some analysts say we’re still in the midst of a secular bear market?

Bulls vs. Bears

For those who are new to stock market lingo, a bull market is one where the primary trend is upward. A bear market means stock prices are falling. A secular trend usually refers to a longer-term trend, whereas a cyclical trend reflects the short-term market momentum. So you can have a cyclical bull market within a larger secular bear market and vice versa.

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Payroll Tax Holiday – Your Paycheck Withholding Reduced by 2% in 2011

bonus paycheck womanAmerican workers received a 2% pay raise this month (Jan ’11). My paycheck is direct deposited into my checking account and when I logged into my bank account to see that it had been processed, I noticed a few more dollars than usual. My first thought was that I had been paid for a couple of extra things that I do around the office, but the amount of increase was not correct. So when I got to work the next morning, I took a long look at my pay stub and realized that the amount of Social Security withholding had been reduced!

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The Many Benefits of an Employer Tuition Reimbursement Program & Policy

Having spent far too much time away from school, last year I finally decided to return to improve my skills and make myself more marketable in the job market. My first attempt, fresh out of high school was less than impressive. I spent way too many hours playing with my friends and not nearly enough time hitting the books. It happens to lots of us, but not everyone gets the opportunity to return and has the courage to take it. That’s why I could not be happier that my employer is kind enough to offer tuition reimbursement. Without it, I’m not sure I would even be back in school at all.

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10 Tips to Save Money When Buying Good Wine

Red wineIf you’re pinching pennies, then buying wine for dinner might not be high on your list of priorities. My husband and I are also on a budget right now, but we’ve made room in our spending enough to have wine every night at dinner.

Why?  Well, obviously we love drinking wine (or we wouldn’t be spending the money on it). Having a glass of wine with dinner is almost a ritual at our house, and I’d be sad if we had to cut it out.

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Beware Of Free Trial Offers – 3 Reasons to Stay Away From These Traps

man with free signAs you’ve probably seen, many new products and services come with some sort of “free trial offer.” While I’m sure that there are a lot of these free trial offers on the market that are truly worth it, many (especially ones offered over the Internet for particular services) are traps that you should stay away from.

Why, you ask? Many times, the offers are not truly free. There could be minor purchases required for the free trial to kick in, there could be activation fees, and there could even be return shipping charges if you’ve received a “free” test item that you want to send back.

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5 Ways to Save on the Cost of Buying Contact Lenses and Glasses

eye doctor glassesIf you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, consider yourself lucky. I have worn both for more than 15 years, and it is not fun – nor cheap. That being said, advancements in the industry have made it easier than ever to get what I need in order to see clearly and comfortably. And since I have been buying glasses and contacts for so long, I have learned a thing or two along the way about saving money.

If you need corrective lenses (and would rather not get into LASIK eye surgery cost and risks), shelling out is unavoidable. But here are 5 ways to help soften the financial blow the next time you have to buy glasses or contacts:

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Are You Bored of Your Job?

Work is not the greatest of things that we have to do in life. Most people in my experience don’t like their job. I’ve heard that in order to be happy in your job, you must like two of three things: the people you work with, the work itself, or the pay. Pick two and you’ll be happy.

I’m sure there are plenty of other, more specific reasons to be happy, but I’d say these three things do a pretty good job of summing it up. So what about the other majority of people who only have one of these three things, or worse, none of them? There is a good chance that in this job market, they will have trouble finding something else even if they are unhappy in their job, so are they just stuck in an unhappy position?

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IRS Announces Tax Filing Delays and New Tax Deadline For 2011

tax time delaysMany of you may have noticed the headlines announcing possible delays for tax filing. These delays are meant to allow the IRS time to catch up with the tax legislation passed late in the year by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on December 17, 2010 (i.e. Bush tax cuts extension bill).

Some of the headlines I’ve seen have implied that things over at the IRS are out of control and will cause all kinds of problems across our tax filing system. As I have dug into the issue, I’ve realized that everything is going to be okay, and there should not be any major headaches.

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