Here’s a handy financial calculator

March 31, 2014

Trying to analyze a retirement investment or see which loan is the better deal for that new car? Check out the financial calculators at Dinkytown

This site offers more than 400 financial tools to help you figure taxes, insurance rates, investment returns, loan payments and more. For example, you can calculate how long it will take to recover from a poor investment or how long it will take to pay off a mortgage at varying payment options. Vocabulary and definitions accompany the calculators, so they are easier to understand.


Surprising Money Lessons from Mickey Mouse

February 22, 2014

Money talks….especially in a place like Walt Disney World. Oh, you might assume it’s all about getting vacationers to buy souvenirs and spend lavishly? But hold on there, space rangers! It’s not just about spending money, although you have plenty of opportunities for that.

We just returned from a family trip to Disney World, and as always, it was a magical experience we enjoy. This was the first Mickey Mouse encounter for our 2-year-old granddaughter. She learned a great deal, including some unexpected lessons about saving money and investing.

Here’s what I saw her take in:

1) Learning to wait brings rewards.
It’s hard for a two-year-old to understand waiting in line for the Dumbo ride, but she eventually got the idea. So did other kids. Grandma calls this delayed gratification, just like saving your money to buy something later.

2) Someone else is in control. Deal with it.
Even a two year old knows that mom makes the decisions and runs the schedule. When it comes to your money, it’s your bank, credit card companies, other lenders and your employer who run the schedule. If you don’t comply, you pay for it. Deal with it, by using a budget and a net worth statement.

3) Incentives work.
Prepared parents stay one step ahead of kids, especially tired kids. Promises of more fun after a nap or a sweet treat after a meal make good incentives. A two year old can get that. The same goes for saving and investing—those dividends and interest rewards keep us building that nest egg.

4) Small adds up to big– it’s magical.
There’s nothing like seeing Disney through the eyes of your grandkid. Mickey Mouse and his friends are larger than life, and Disney knows how to give a quality experience—and capitalize on desire. Of course, enamored kids (and grandparents) who get caught up in the magic keep wanting more. Now, transfer that to an investor’s mentality – small amounts add up and the more you get, the more you want.

5) Why can’t I get everything? It seems others do.

It’s hard for two year olds to understand “choose” or “just one,” and even adults have trouble with this concept. They want everything and don’t want to decide on prioritizing by what they can afford. (Think big screen tv, vacation home, new car, boat, etc.) Grandma calls this deciding wants vs. needs.

Can you relate? Email me with your story.


Are You Financially Organized at Year End?

December 5, 2013

It’s almost the end of the year. Are unopened bank statements and receipts piling up on your kitchen counter? It’s time you got financially organized, so you know what to keep and how long to keep it.

1. Collect 2013 receipts, separating those needed to file income taxes.
2. Store the year’s pay stubs, banking statements, and credit card statements.
3. Make a net worth statement- list all assets (including banking and investment accounts) and all liabilities (including credit card balances and loans).
4. Make a copy of all credit cards, passport, licenses (save time if lost or stolen).
5. Rent a safe deposit box to keep important papers (will, birth certificates, passports, real estate deeds/titles)
6. Shred mail with your private information before discarding.

Not sure what to keep or how long to keep it?
Keep these records for the calendar year:
• Bank statements
• Pay stubs (consider autopay direct to your bank account)
• Social Security benefits statements
• Investment/broker statements, including 401(k) plans

Keep these for 7 years:
• Tax returns and supporting documents
• Bank statements needed to prove a deduction on a tax return

Keep these forever:
• Employer-defined benefit plan communications
• IRA contributions
• Brokerage statements (document gains/losses until sale)
• Life insurance policies (most recent copy)
• Loan documents (until paid and you have title)
• Home improvement records/receipts (keep 7 years after you sell)
• Savings bonds (you can convert paper bonds to electronic)
• Safe deposit box inventory

Keep until you’ve reconciled your statement:
• Bank deposit slips
• Credit card receipts
• Monthly bills and credit card statements
• Keep statements and receipts you may need to prove tax deductions


It’s the Season for Plastic…Debit or Credit?

November 30, 2013

Let’s talk about debit cards…
It’s likely you’ve paid for purchases with a plastic card a time or two. Ever been at a checkout counter and handed the clerk your debit card only to be asked: “debit or credit?” And you’re thinking…”I just handed you a DEBIT card!

While it might not make much difference to you and your debit card, it is a big deal to the retailers and banks/credit unions. It’s all about who pays the processing fees.

So what’s the difference between a “credit” transaction or a “debit” transaction? (Remember we are talking only about debit cards, not using a credit card, which is entirely different.)

When you say “debit”…
• you must enter a PIN (Personal Identification number)
• chances are, the issuing bank/credit union pays the fees
• you can get cash, if you want it

When you say “credit”…
• you will use your signature, not a PIN
• chances are, the retailer pays most of the fees
• you cannot request extra cash
• your bank/credit union may give you an incentive if you make 10 or more credit transactions every month.

What’s the same for both “credit” and “debit” transactions?
• your purchase is immediately deducted from your bank account
• you are protected from theft, according to rules of your bank/credit union
• the retailer processes refunds, exchanges and returns similarly
• unlike a credit card (which is a loan), you do not receive a monthly bill

Now when that checkout clerk asks “debit? or credit?” you’ll know there’s a reason to the question.


Trick or Treat for Halloween Sweets?

October 30, 2013

No doubt about it, Halloween is a profitable event for retailers.

Candy sales alone account for more than $2 billion, according to the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA).That translates to about 600 million pounds of candy handed out by about 75% of American households on the big night.

What does the average household spend on Halloween candy? About $15…and much of it is consumed by the buyers rather than given to visiting little ghouls. Plus, 81% of parents admit that they take candy from their kids’ Halloween haul, according to the NCA’s 2013 consumer survey of 1,335 adults.

Trick or treat?!


Share This Graphic on Financial Fitness

October 26, 2013

Here’s a great infographic discussing personal finance :<a href="Dollars and Sense: How Wise Are We With Money?
Image source: www.online-accounting-degrees.net” title=”Financial literacy”>


Fewer Choose to Invest in Individual Stocks

October 22, 2013

It appears individual stock investing is not as popular as it once was – there’s record low interest since 2009.

A recent Gallup poll shows that only 52% of Americans own stock, including through retirement plans.


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