Category: Personal Finance

Charge Cards: How They Compare to Standard Credit Cards

Merry Christmas Eve to all my Christian readers, I've got a gift for you a day early. What if you could take your credit card now, make it so you can't run a balance, and add an annual fee? Sound like something you might be interested in? Me neither. However, that's exactly how a charge card compares to a traditional credit card.

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The Risk of Not Enough Risk

How did you react to the stock market's (defined, in my mind, as the S&P 500 index) recent precipitous drop? If you're like many investors, you moved out of 'risky' assets such as stocks and into 'safe' assets such as money market funds and stable value funds. Unfortunately, the seeming safety of fixed income investments is a mirage... hidden forces, such as the danger of inflation, make 'safe' investments less safe than first glance. Paradoxically, the recent movement to safer portfolios has put many people at risk for a reduction in the real value of their money in inflation adjusted dollars.

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Hedge Your Gas Prices

I've written plenty about gasoline lately, but only about gas taxes. Let's shift gears a bit... Do you think gas prices will increase? If gas prices increase, is there a way for you to hedge against that increase so it doesn't affect you? Of course!

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The Drag of Taxes and Inflation: A Penny Saved is Worth More Than a Penny Earned

"A penny saved, is a penny earned," wrote Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanack. The quote is repeated as fact by many people, often while picking pennies off the ground. Our friend Ben lived in a simpler time, and it's time to revisit this famous quote with a little (disgusting? intriguing?) math to see if it holds up to closer scrutiny.

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ESPP - The Worldwide Leader in Returns

Employee Stock Purchase Plans come in many forms, but many offer a 15% discount on company stock for participants. There are harldy any investments that can match the annualized returns of these plans. Read on for a convincing look at why you should max out your contribution to your plan.

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401k: Roth vs. Traditional

One of the more interesting questions that has cropped up recently is whether the Roth or traditional 401(k) is the superior savings vehicle. Most people know that if you expect your tax rate to increase in retirement, a Roth is better, and a Traditional 401(k) is better in the case you believe it will decrease. I would like to show you some of the considerations where this may not be the whole story. I am not a financial planner; I just like to think through these sorts of decisions on my own. The following is my judgment of the situation, and you should discuss your own situation with a financial planner. Hopefully you can use this information for your own purposes. Also, if the middle is too dry, skip to the end. Enjoy!

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Health Savings Account Arbitrage

The Health Savings Account, or HSA was introduced in 2003 and has revealed itself to be a solid choice in saving money on health insurance. Beyond the obvious saving advantage that comes from empowering consumers to pay for most of their everyday medical expenses, the HSA also has a hefty tax benefit. HSAs are free from federal tax when accumulating, compounding and distributing money (although some states, like California do tax it). Of course, the tax benefit is only when using the HSA for qualified medical expenses. After the beneficiary turns 65, non-qualified distributions are taxed at the normal tax rate, just like a traditional 401(k) or IRA.

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