How Good is Your Employer’s 401(k)?

401k savings plan

BrightScope recently identified the industries with the best 401(k) plans. Which industries came out on top?

Our rating system is based on how quickly the average participant in a given 401(k) plan is going to accumulate the money we believe someone needs to retire comfortably within his or her industry. Law firms, utilities, mining companies and airlines were top scorers because they typically offer plans with low fees and some form of profit-sharing. Employees in these industries are highly educated and well paid. They tend to contribute at a higher rate than do employees in lower-ranked plans, and they let those dollars grow over time.

How can I tell if my company’s 401(k) plan isn’t up to snuff?

High plan fees are a red flag. But remember that fees vary depending on plan size, industry and other factors. And fees pay for services; a 24-hour help line through which employees can get great advice may be worth the money. Also, the investment menu should meet your needs. If you’re nearing retirement, for example, make sure there are investment options that will get you there securely — for instance, a

Foreign exchange forex market: fundamental and technical analysis

Forex – is the foreign exchange market, where currencies are exchanged on an international scale. The main feature of Forex is a floating rate on the purchase and sale of foreign currency, so often referred to as make money trading currency online is simply not trade in goods and currency. In our country, the word «Forex» is often understood narrowly, as it is associated with only marginal financial manipulations, resulting in a profit through leverage – shares, which brokers raise the initial capital of the trader.

Make money trading currency online operates through a variety of laws, to understand the effects of which are two traditional methods, which are called the fundamental and technical analysis.

Fundamental analysis is the general picture of the world.

Economy level in a given country can be analyzed with the help of specific indicators. Specific indicators can be in each economic sector: social, military, political, construction and so on. Certain economic indicators analyzed by Forex fundamental analysis to anticipate the collapse or growth of national currency in the market. Economic indicators can be of different types, and there are so many.

Traders who use fundamental analysis method, monitor economic performance of the official reports of the ministries

7 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

Here’s the simple truth: Your low credit score is costing you a fortune.

Folks with the best credit get the best terms when it comes to mortgages, car loans and credit cards. They get the lowest interest rates and the lowest fees. They get the biggest sign-up bonuses. They’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt when asking to get a fee waived or a credit line increased. Add it all up and you get an awful lot of reasons to make 2016 the year you get your credit in shape.

How exactly do you that, though? Well, it won’t always be easy and it won’t always be quick, but the good news is that it can be done. The truth is that you have more control over your credit than you think. You just have to put in the work.
Here are some ways that you can boost your credit score in 2016.

1. Get your credit report, and report any errors you find.

Any move to boost your credit score must begin with checking your credit report. Get a free copy of your report from all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – once a year from,

10 Things Millennials Should Do to Reach the Next Financial Level

Millennials have had a rough road when it comes to money. Not only did they come of age during the Great Recession, which made jobs scarce and benefits even scarcer, but many saw their parents lose big time in the stock or real estate markets, which scared them off of making their own investments. Still, there’s no more time for excuses, because millennials are all grown up and taking on increasing amounts of responsibility. From mortgages and parenthood to caring for aging parents, millennials are facing big financial milestones, whether they’re ready or not.

According to Bank of America’s Year-End Millennial Snapshot, which analyzed 2015 data from over 3,500 millennials, this young cohort of 20- and early 30-somethings continues to struggle financially: a tough job market, hesitancy to invest and student loans are just a few of the challenges in their way to prosperity. Still, the data suggest they are firmly committed to achieving financial independence one day. About half of millennials said the Great Recession changed the way they think about saving, investing and spending, with 40 percent saying they are more reluctant to invest in the stock market and 36 percent saying they are more hesitant to buy a

How Volunteering Can Save You Money

If you’re like many of us, your New Year’s resolutions might look something like this: get healthy, lose weight, save money, travel more, find a new job or make new friends. In fact, there’s one way you can accomplish many of these things, often at once: by volunteering.

Volunteering your time, whether it’s in your community, your workplace or somewhere far across the world, is a wonderful way to give back. Volunteering is especially smart when it’s not in your budget to make a donation. Besides helping to better the lives of others, volunteering can have a lot of unexpected benefits on your own life, as well. Here are a few reasons, besides the obvious, why you might want to donate your time this year:

You can skip the gym:

Many volunteer opportunities require some physical activity. Becoming a committed volunteer could mean you’re regularly burning calories and working fitness into your lifestyle. A few examples include shoveling snow and raking leaves for the injured or elderly; working in a soup kitchen lifting boxes and serving the hungry; helping build and repair homes; walking dogs; community gardening and weed clean-up; or playing with kids in need of a role model and mentor. Consider

Top 10 Most Embarrassing Money Topics

Being financially literate, or understanding all aspects of your financial life, is crucial to becoming confident about money. But often, we’re too embarrassed or uncomfortable to talk about money openly.
According to a 2013 Wells Fargo survey of over 1,000 adults, 44 percent of respondents said “personal finances” is the hardest topic to discuss with others, followed by “death” at 38 percent and “politics” at 35 percent.

Money topics such as debt, student loans, salary, credit scores and even saving for the future can cause paralyzing anxiety. A 2014 National Foundation for Credit Counseling study on financial literacy showed that only 2 in 5 adults believe that, if their money could talk, it would say. “We’ve been a successful team.”

So to help improve your relationship with your money, we’ve raised 10 potentially embarrassing money topics and offered some suggestions to tackle them with confidence.

1. Spending well above your means. Though keeping up with the Joneses feels like a problem we should have grown out of in high school, we are all guilty of this from time to time. Insisting on paying for dinner out with that friend who makes twice what you do so that you can impress her is just

7 Secrets to ‘Regifting’ Without Getting Caught

Thinking of regifting this holiday season? You’re probably not alone.

A few years ago, 92 percent of those surveyed by the yard sale aggregator site said that recycling gifts was OK, and almost as many were pretty sure they had received regifted items.

Done poorly, the practice can be downright insulting. Some of those surveyed reported receiving “gifts” such as 2-year-old fruitcake, monogrammed items (with someone else’s initials), fingernail clippers and a used toilet seat.

Then why regift? Several reasons:

  • It’s a budget booster. Having a couple of great things you can give means two gifts you won’t have to buy.
  • It’s eco-friendly. Instead of buying more stuff, you are recycling unused items.
  • It busts clutter. It helps clear your house of items collecting dust. These regifting guidelines can help you from crashing and burning on Christmas Day:

1. Make sure it looks new. Original packaging is best, folks. Something that’s been sitting unprotected on a shelf has likely picked up grime and might have faded where the sun hit it. If it’s been in the basement, it might smell musty.

If you have to blow dust off it, pass.

2. Remove any sign that the item is recycled. Flip through books to see if your dad underlined

4 Golden Rules of Investing

Whether you’re new to investing or a market veteran, these time-tested tips can help you build your fortune.

Rule Number 1: Diversify. Since some investments zig when others zag, divvy your money across several investment categories, from stocks to bonds to real estate. Also diversify within categories. Diversification spreads risk and guards against a catastrophic decline in any one investment.

Rule Number 2: Rebalance. Review your portfolio yearly to make sure your mix of investments hasn’t strayed from your original goals. If it has, sell investments that have performed well and use the proceeds to invest in underperformers to regain balance.

Rule Number 3: Dollar-cost average. Fear can cause investors to miss buying opportunities when prices are low. Euphoria can cause them to buy high. By investing the same amount in the same investments on a regular basis, dollar-cost averaging takes emotion out of the equation.

Rule Number 4: Keep costs down. You can’t control how much your investments earn, but you can control how much you pay to invest in them. Save by using an online discount broker, and stick with low-fee index funds and actively managed no-load funds.

The Best Credit Cards for Customer Satisfaction

Lindsay bought a memory foam mattress from a store that guaranteed no interest financing for two years. Fourteen months after the purchase, interest charges surfaced on her bill.

A credit card David did not open showed up on his credit report as delinquent. The debt, which he discovered because he kept getting denied new credit, will remain on his credit history for seven years.

Joyce’s son purchased a wedding band on her credit card without her approval. When she contacted the jeweler, the store refused to do anything about it.

 Though their names have been changed for this article, these are all real complaints consumers have filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Credit Card rankings​ take into account consumer stories​ like these to evaluate credit cards on the market​. One factor of the methodology​, customer experience, uses CFPB complaints to determine how satisfied customers are with their credit cards.

Of the 18 credit card companies U.S. News reviewed, the issuers offering the best customer experience included American Express, BB&T and JPMorgan Chase.​ ​

To control for differences in the size of credit card issuers (banks and credit unions that offer credit cards)​, U.S. News divided

Is the Force With the New Star Wars Credit Card?

As fans all over the world eagerly await the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we are continuously reminded that the global Star Wars phenomenon isn’t just about movies.

Sure, it all starts with the movies, which have earned billions of dollars at the box office. However, it extends far beyond the movie theater. There are novels, comic books, video games, lunchboxes, clothing of all shapes and sizes, breakfast cereals, action figures, bobbleheads and even a Darth Vader refrigerator — all of which you can buy with a Star Wars Visa credit card. But is this card something that Star Wars fans should add to their collection or something they should avoid like a confrontation with Darth Vader? Let’s break it down …

The card is part of Chase’s Disney Visa card program and is available in three different Star Wars-themed designs: one featuring Darth Vader, another with Yoda and another with R2-D2 and C-3PO. It also comes with rewards aimed toward fans of the films, including:

  • 10 percent off purchases $50 or more when you use the card at the Disney Store or (Reminder: In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm, the company that created the Star Wars franchise under founder

6 Money Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

When her father was diagnosed with a respiratory disease about seven years ago, Joy Frank-Collins juggled her work schedule and parenting demands to maximize the time she spent by his side. Frank-Collins, a 41-year-old who heads her own communications firm in Marietta, Ohio, also coordinated with her siblings to pay for expenses that weren’t covered by insurance. “If you know your parents will need your help, you have to think, ‘What can I set aside to provide the necessary support for my parents?'” she says. After a long fight with his illness, her father died at age 75 in January.

As a member of the sandwich generation — adults who simultaneous care for children and aging parents — Frank-Collins had to navigate what is becoming an increasingly familiar challenge. “Individuals who find themselves in the sandwich generation are forced with contemplating taking care of things today in a way that may negatively impact their future,” says Rebekah Barsch, vice president of financial planning for Northwestern Mutual. Family members might cut back on their work hours or sacrifice savings in order to care for aging parents, she adds. “The pressure, both financial and emotional, weighs on people,” she says.

6 Things to Consider Before Paying Off a Mortgage Early

Mortgage calculator. House, noney and document. 3d

Living debt-free sounds great, and depending on where you are in life it may actually be attainable. But even if you can pay off your mortgage early, should you?

Although it may be tempting, first consider the opportunity cost of paying off your mortgage early at the expense of other goals or investment options, as well as the impact to your tax situation.

Opportunity cost. By paying off your mortgage early, you’ll save on the additional interest expense that would have been incurred in your regular payments. This savings can be significant, and will increase with the prepayment amount. However, by directing excess cash towards paying down a mortgage, those funds are no longer available for investment. The lower your interest rate, the less you stand to benefit through early retirement of debt.

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How can you decide whether it is best to invest excess cash or pay off your mortgage early? Consider the following example:

Suppose the stated interest rate on your mortgage is 4

How to Avoid Holiday Season Credit Card Rip-Offs

“Buy now, pay later” is the modern way of life. Credit cards are a highly profitable business for the companies that issue them, so it’s no surprise that banks continue to inundate consumers with credit card offers, especially during the shopping frenzy of the holiday season. These come-ons are among several financial traps lurking out there today.

Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), Discover Financial Services (DFS) and American Express (AXP): Their cards are common fixtures in hundreds of millions of wallets around the world. According to Federal Reserve data, the average credit card debt per card-holding U.S. household is $16,140. In total, the average American consumer owes $918.5 billion in credit card debt.

You probably get credit card offers in the mail all the time; the volume of unsolicited offers tends to increase the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s some important information that will help you sort through the pitches and separate the good values from the rip-offs.

The Introductory Rate

The introductory rate, or “teaser rate,” expires after a designated period of time. Federal law requires introductory rates to remain in effect at least six months after signup. This rate is below market and typically applies only to balance transfers and cash advances, although they

7 Financial Blunders You Should Avoid in Marriage

Marriage is amazing.

That is, if all goes well. And many times, it doesn’t.

There are many issues married couples must deal with that singles don’t experience — and they aren’t simple issues to solve, either.

Think about it. When you want to buy that new car you’ve been eyeing since the fourth grade, you remember and think to yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m married. I just can’t go out and buy a car!” At least, if you’re an experienced married person, you won’t make the mistake of purchasing something big without talking with your spouse first. And that, can be complicated. Convincing your spouse isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

When you slip that ring onto their finger, it’s no longer all about “me,” it’s all about “we.” Unfortunately, many newlyweds aren’t truly ready for that level of commitment. So they learn as they go.

Whether you’re learning as you go, you’re doing well or you’re preparing for marriage, make sure you avoid these financial blunders in marriage.

1. Not creating and sticking to a budget. If you hear the word “budget” and cringe, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, I hate budgeting. Why do I hate budgeting? It’s usually pretty boring.

Still, if you’re

Should I File Bankruptcy? If I Do, Should I Feel Guilty?

a woman with unpaid bills has...

I get a lot of questions about the best way to get out of debt, but few about the morality of different choices. Here’s a reader email that addresses the issue.

My name is Jodi. I currently owe about $20,000 in credit card debt. I was told by a lawyer that I should file for bankruptcy. I don’t feel right about bankruptcy because it’s my bill and I feel I should at least make an effort with the companies to see if they could lower the amount so that I can consolidate the bills. Can you please educate me as to what would be a better deal for me? Your newsletters are very helpful.

While dealing with debt is pretty cut-and-dried, dealing with the moral obligation to repay a debt is a bit slippery. The type of person you are, your resources and the type of debt you owe all play a part. Over the years I’ve met many people who agonized over the moral dilemma of filing bankruptcy and many others who never gave it a thought. Before becoming a consumer advocate,

Which States Tax Social Security?

Build a sizable nest egg? Check. Purchase a new set of golf clubs? Check. Plan for taxes on your retirement income? Chhhh … Wait a minute. Plan for what?

Lots of retirees are surprised by the big bite that taxes can take out of their savings. And depending on where you live, the tax hit can be especially painful. In fact, some states even tax Social Security benefits, the most important source of income for many retirees.

The 13 states that tax Social Security are:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

But just because a state taxes Social Security doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to retire. Overall, Colorado and West Virginia are actually tax-friendly places to live in retirement despite the tax on Social Security. Weigh a state’s entire tax picture — from income tax to sales tax to property tax — to better understand how your money will be taxed and how you can budget for those costs.

Kiplinger’s tax maps can help. Check out the most tax-friendly states for retirees and the least tax-friendly states for retirees to identify your best place for retirement.

4 Questions to Answer Before You Retire

It’s an achievement to make it to retirement. Years of hard work pay off once you have saved enough and get to hand over a resignation letter to your boss. You say farewell, and there may be a few tears as you part ways with your former life. But there’s also the excitement of finally starting the new leisurely chapter of your journey.

The next day there’s no reason to get up before 10 a.m. You feel so grateful you no longer need to wake up early just to get ready for boring morning meetings. You get up and go downstairs, brew a morning cup of coffee and sit down at the table and ask, “Now what?”

The start of retirement is a time of exploration for some people. There is a new life routine to figure out. Here are a few questions to ponder as you enter retirement.

Do you plan to reduce stock exposure? It’s commonly accepted that you should gradually decrease the risk in your portfolio as you age and accumulate more assets to protect. Many people do this by adding bonds to their portfolio in order to reduce volatility during retirement. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple asset allocation that

Ways People Rack Up Debt

According to a 2010 Gallup survey, Americans identify terrorism and government debt as the two most worrisome issues to American wellbeing [source: Saad]. If Americans are so concerned about the government’s debt, why aren’t we worried about our own debt? More than half of Americans are in debt and paying interest on it. Many blame credit cards — and rightfully so; they are a major culprit. But there are a number of ways people rack up debt. Read on to see 10 ways we accumulate debt.

terrorism and government debt as the two most worrisome issues to American wellbeing [source: Saad]. If Americans are so concerned about the government’s debt, why aren’t we worried about our own debt? More than half of Americans are in debt and paying interest on it. Many blame credit cards — and rightfully so; they are a major culprit. But there are a number of ways people rack up debt. Read on to see 10 ways we accumulate debt.

We all know the drill. We’ve either seen it in a movie or in real life. It’s either the wife sneaking in a big shopping bag from an expensive

Skills That You Need to Run an Online Business by Yourself

Everyone’s seen those reports on TV or the Internet about people who make a pile of money running a YouTube channel. Or who make stuff at home and sell it online for a nice sum. As you sit in commuter traffic or get yelled at by the boss, those daydreams of owning your own online business probably rise up again. How hard is it really, and how much would you make?

While it’s difficult to come up with solid numbers on Internet-based solo entrepreneurs, tax data shows that rising numbers of one-person businesses are making pretty decent money. About 2.4 million of them generate at least $100,000 a year in income [source:]. Forbes reporter Elaine Rofeldt, who’s been covering the phenomenon, ascribes a lot of that growth to Internet-based retail’s ability to pull in customers from far and wide, not just in one town, and she expects that growth will continue.

OK, that sounds pretty good. But even so, if you’re going to tap into the Internet’s potential for making money, there are certain skills you’ll need. Some are the same ones you would have needed to start your own shop in the pre-Internet era — good planning, effective execution

Avoid Delays by Using Online Money Transfers

Transferring money from one place to another has a lot of advantages. It can be used to send monthly salaries to your family in your home town. It can also be used to send funds if there is any financial emergency. Apart from this, there are several other advantages to transferring money, especially with the online money transfer. One of the main advantages include avoiding delays. Let us take a look at them.

Advantages of digital medium

There were many ways to transfer funds through traditional means. However, these means of money transfer often lead to considerable delays due to various avoidable reasons. But with the digital medium, these reasons are eradicated. For example, when typing the account number, you can get an immediate verification if the account number is active or out of service. Additionally, with the ever changing advancement of technology, transferring through the online medium is made extremely fast. That is because, it does not require several banking staffs to handle the transaction. Thus, it cuts down on the levels of approval and transferring it has to undergo before the funds is sent to its designated account. Through this advantage,you can now transfer funds from one