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Financial Planning Tips for Special Needs Families

Financial planning is important at practically every stage of life, but it is especially critical as your family grows. For some, that may include more planning and preparation than others. As a parent of a child with special needs and as someone who is in the business of financial planning, I know and understand first-hand the challenges families face when it comes to planning for special needs kids.

Over the past 13 years, my wife and I have learned a lot about caring for our son, Thomas, which we couldn’t have done without the help of experts along the way….


ATM Skimming: What Consumers Should Know

Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit, debit, or ATM card. Skimming devices can be placed on or near an ATM or any device in which you swipe your card to make a payment and can be difficult to spot. The devices can capture information such as the account number, card number, name and the PIN (Personal Identification Number) associated with the card. The data collected from the skimming device is then used to create fake ATM or debit cards providing criminals with access to a bank account to make purchases…


Personal Finance Lessons for College Freshmen

If parents were to ask their college-aged children about interest rates, 401(k)s or budgeting, chances are they would be stunned at their children’s limited knowledge of personal finance. The onus is on the young adult to grasp financial know-how throughout their college years, before they enter the real world. To help set up your child for financial success, parents should help cover fundamentals. College freshmen, who are getting accustomed to a new world of independence, have a few money lessons they must master.

Lesson 1: Safely build credit

Once enrolled in college, students will likely be approached by a bank to…


Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

With news of the recent Equifax data breach, it is a good time to review what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft. While some things are out of your control, here are tips for things you can do to help keep your information secure.

Ensure your computer is protected. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software as well as firewall software to protect against malicious programs that may be planted in emails, documents or websites. It is important to keep this computer software current. Manufacturers offer patches, which are small pieces of software to fix flaws in software, and…


Tips For Effectively Managing Debt

What is considered good debt? What is considered bad debt? Perhaps one of the biggest financial quandaries facing consumers today is the effective management of their debt and making sure they’re being smart about the types of debt they utilize for purchases. Here are a few tips to help you as you make future purchasing decisions.

      • Create a detailed annual budget – Sit down each year and estimate all of your expenses. Be sure to include line items for saving money and future purchases. Don’t forget any trailing expenses. For instance, when you purchase a new vehicle, be sure…

Parents: Tips to Prepare Your Grad for the Financial “Real World”

It’s graduation season which means that many young adults are getting ready to enter the “real world.” This is an exciting time, however, recently it’s become apparent that this younger generation can be unrealistic about how much life really costs. While many of us were forced to jump in and figure it out, there has been a cultural shift and we are seeing many of today’s parents continue to take care of their children financially even as they enter adulthood.

While none of us wants to watch our children suffer, prolonged financial support is NOT helping them in the long…


Tips for Choosing a Credit Card

All credit cards are not created equal. With so many options out there, how do you find the right card for your needs? Here are a few things to consider before making a decision.

Check your credit score – This is a great place to start when searching for a credit card as your score will impact the interest rates and offers available to you. There are options for many levels of credit scores so even if your credit score is not where you would like it to be, there are still options for you. Want to improve your credit…


6 Tips to Smartly Spend Your Tax Refund

According to the IRS, 111 million taxpayers received tax refunds last year, averaging around $2,860. While a refund that size might be a welcome surprise, it would be a financial mistake to spend it frivolously. Instead of squandering a refund, consider these suggestions that can help to maximize your money and advance your financial future.

Reassess withholdings for next tax season: Sure, getting a sizeable check from the IRS may seem nice, but if a refund is unusually large, you should consider withholding less income from your paycheck. Think about it, if you receive a big refund once a…


Home Equity Financing 101

Thinking of consolidating debt? Need to fund a college education? Entertaining a home improvement project? Looking to finance a “bucket list” vacation? If you are a homeowner, the financial resource may literally be all around you – home equity financing allows the applicant to borrow against the equity of their home by using the house as collateral to obtain a home equity loan or line of credit.

What’s the Difference? HELOAN vs. HELOC

Both a home equity loan and line of credit are useful, but are also very different. A home equity loan (HELOAN) is a fixed rate product with a…


How March Madness Can Guide Your Investment Strategy

Picking the right investment strategy to meet your financial goals may seem as challenging as predicting which team will win the annual NCAA tournament. However, there are a few ways that picking an accurate March Madness bracket parallels a successful investing strategy. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Look for a solid coach. A good way to successfully create a bracket is by selecting teams that have a coach with a solid track record. This is also true for your investment strategy – set yourself up for success by working with a qualified, experienced investment advisor.

Think about…

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