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What Is a Reverse Mortgage (HECM) – How It Works, Pro & Cons

By Michael Lewis

hecm coupleMany seniors struggle to make ends meet each month. At the same time, they often own thousands of dollars of real estate in the form of equity in their home. But unless they take action, that equity remains untouchable, unable to help them out with basic living expense. What’s worse is that mortgage payments further reduce their available cash each month to pay crucial expenses.

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report states that more than three of four seniors over the age of 65 have equity in their homes ranging from $67,700 to $325,200. One in 20 have home equity greater than $398,500, and 1% have more than $799,850.

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The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN – Review

By Christina Majaski

plum cardThe Plum Card® from American Express OPEN (a Money Crashers partner) is a business charge card that offers rewards for making payments early, rather than rewarding specific spending habits. Take a look at the overall features and benefits of The Plum Card to determine whether it’s suitable for your business’s needs, or whether a more traditional credit card is best.

One key difference to keep in mind when comparing charge cards and credit cards, is that while both offer flexible spending options, a charge card requires you to pay the balance in full each month.

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Blue Sky Preferred® Card from American Express – Credit Card Review

By Christina Majaski

american express blue sky preferred cardThe American Express Blue Sky cards are favorites chosen by travelers who want to earn rewards on travel purchases without committing to a specific airline or travel brand. Plus, the card offers the convenience of redeeming rewards as statement credits against a range of travel purchases.

The Blue Sky Preferred® Card from American Express is different from its partner – the standard Blue Sky card – in that it offers more rewards on purchases in exchange for an annual fee.

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Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus. There is currently no sign-up bonus for this card.

Blue Sky from American Express® – Credit Card Review

By Christina Majaski

american express blue sky cardMany travel rewards credit cards are specific to a certain airline or hotel, which may limit your use of the card and the rewards that you receive. The Blue Sky from American Express® (a Money Crashers partner) is one of the few credit cards that provides rewards for generalized travel purchases, including hotels and airfare with virtually every provider. However, whether this is a better option than more targeted travel cards is likely to hinge on how often you travel and how much you value flexibility.

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7 Factors That May Affect When You Retire – Reasons to Work Past Age 65

By Michael Lewis

senior working at homeIn 2010, a Pew Research report indicated that three out of every four members of the workforce expect to keep working for pay after they retire. 60% of them believe this will be by choice, not necessity – but pre-retirees may be more optimistic than justified in their expectations. According to the Center of Retirement Research, less than half of all households are financially prepared for retirement at 65; a quarter will need to work at least one to three more years; and almost one in ten will need to work past age 72 or longer.

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11 Ways to Save on the Cost of Owning a Cat

By Brian Martucci

cat and ownerMy family currently has two cats. One is an orange barn cat that was foisted onto my wife’s parents, and then onto my wife, by a proverbial cat lady. He’s seven years old, give or take. The other is a former stray who appeared on our doorstep, cold and hungry, about four years ago. Our vet estimates her age at six or seven.

We find the experience of owning two cats to be manageable and emotionally rewarding, and we wouldn’t trade our particular two for the world. However, we’re also budget-conscious, which means we’ve developed some strategies for controlling the cost of owning cats without sacrificing their quality of life.

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How to Write a Book – Steps to Publish, Market, and Sell Your Books

By Michael Lewis

write a bookFrom the Neanderthals who left hand prints on the cavern walls of El Castillo, Spain more than 37,000 years ago, to the G.I.’s crude drawings of a long-nosed fellow peering over a fence announcing, “Kilroy was here,” humans have sought immortality through art. The same impulse that drives the graffiti tagger in Los Angeles drives the white-haired Hamptons matron to pen a letter to the local newspaper about animal leash laws: a desire to be seen, heard, and remembered.

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Best New Bank Account Promotions, Offers & Free Money

By Money Crashers

stack cashWith many financial institutions experiencing a decrease in profits, banks are vying for your business. This is good news for you, because instead of just offering standard perks like no fees, free checking, or a free pen when you sign up for an account, some banks are raising the stakes with cold hard cash, giveaways, and great interest-bearing products.

September is a good month for bank promotions from both big and small banks. Banks are giving away a lot of free cash to attract new customers and get them to open up accounts. The banks listed below have some pretty sweet deals that you should take advantage of if you are in the market for a new bank.

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10 BOSU Ball Exercises to Work Out Your Core & Improve Balance

By Laura Williams

bosu ballWhether you’re looking to amp up your home workout, or hope to pare down on the equipment you use while at the gym, you can easily perform a full-body fitness routine using nothing but a BOSU ball. BOSU balls – termed such because you can use “BOth Sides Up” – are essentially a half stability ball with a sturdy plastic platform on one side. The rounded side can be placed either on the ground or pointing upward, offering flexibility to the number and type of exercises performed using the equipment.

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6 Tips to Stop Being Ashamed of Your Debt and Take Control

By Jacqueline Curtis

debtWhat would you be more embarrassed to shout from the rooftops: your weight or your credit score?

For the general public, the answers are pretty surprising. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling conducted a poll asking participants to finish this sentence: “I’d be most embarrassed to admit my…” And respondents made it clear that debt shame in the United States is worse than even diet shame. A whopping 37% of people answered that their credit card debt was the most embarrassing, followed by 30% of respondents admitting they wouldn’t want to fess up to their credit score. Weight made only 12% of people sweat, and came in a distant third place.

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What Is an Exchange-Traded Note (ETN) – How They Differ From ETFs

By Brian Martucci

investingLike a bond, an exchange-traded note (ETN) is a debt instrument with a set maturity date upon which its issuer promises to repay your investment. However, unlike a bond, it does not accrue interest or guarantee to pay a fixed percentage of your initial outlay. Instead, it tracks an underlying index or asset class, without actually granting ownership in any of its components.

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8 Habits to Avoid When Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility

By Jacqueline Curtis

kids and moneyIf you have children, you might feel responsible for teaching them everything they need to know. I have two young children, and am constantly helping them work on their math skills, pushing them to read more, and reminding them to practice whichever sport they’re playing that month. But as parents, it’s our actions that say far more than any words of instruction or encouragement we might offer.

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7 Tips to Streamline Your Bank Accounts for Easier Money Management

By Jacqueline Curtis

bankingI remember watching my mom pay bills each month when I was a child. She’d sit at the kitchen table, surrounded by a mound of paper, envelopes, stamps, and her checkbook as she wrote out the amounts, balanced the budget, and kept all of those slips of papers and bills in a huge folder.

Today, that amount of paperwork would make me shudder. At the beginning of the month, I routinely sit down to make my regular payments: the gas bill, health insurance, Internet, and whatever else. The difference? I do it with a few clicks online.

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10 Best American Vacation Towns to Live In Year-Round

By Brian Martucci

tourist town livingWhile many major population centers are blessed with beautiful surroundings, big cities also have many drawbacks, such as soul-crushing traffic and long commute times, pressure to conform to social expectations, and high living costs. For some, these tradeoffs are worth it. For others, the lure of a slower pace and quieter surroundings wins out. Every year, thousands of working-age people move from big cities to smaller cities, often in scenic areas, that are better known for drawing seasonal tourists and retirees.

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Is America the New Rome? – United States vs. the Roman Empire

By Michael Lewis

roman empireThe example of the first great republic in recorded history (509 B.C. to 29 B.C.) was omnipresent in the minds of America’s founders as they created a new republic centuries later. As a consequence of their deliberations and, perhaps, the “protection of divine Providence” as written in the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America, in the mind of many of the founders, was intended to be the modern equivalent of the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic ended with the infamous assassination of Julius Caesar in 27 B.C..

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