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The VFW: A Special Group of Veterans

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Imagine fighting enemy combatants on foreign soil, putting your life on the line – to mostly help another country. Unfamiliar territory, strange languages, food and customs . . . these are all part of the package for our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines serving in wars overseas. When they return home, there’s an important organization waiting to lobby for them, provide assistance and camaraderie: the VFW.

The VFW prides itself in all of its members being considered “elite.” Their service to our country under difficult circumstances is all the qualification a vet needs to join. If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you’re eligible. They consider themselves an organization of “veterans helping veterans.” Their service priorities include unemployed and homeless vets.

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May 16, 2013 |

Kids and Credit: What They Need to Know

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Parents, when your children turned 16, did you just toss them the keys to the family car and hope everything would work out for the best? Probably not, right? Instead, I’ll bet there were hours of driver’s education and countless miles of quality time co-piloting your prospective drivers before they went solo — all in the interest of safety. As parents, we’re generally pretty good at developing this skill in our children.

Unfortunately though, we’re not so good at teaching them another skill necessary to keep them safe, this time in a financial way: How to manage credit and stay out of debt.
To help fill this glaring educational gap, here’s an outline of a parent-taught course on credit cards that I urge you to share with your children before it’s too late.

Here’s what they need to know:

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May 16, 2013 |

7 Easy Ways to Keep Your Mobile Phone Safe

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As smartphones and tablets become increasingly popular, cybercrooks are finding new ways to exploit you while you’re on the go. Here’s how to help avoid the most common attacks and keep your mobile phones safe — and your identity and finances — safer.

1. Be Proactive

Mobile security software can help protect your portable devices from malware-laden apps, malicious websites, phishing scams and other attacks. Make sure you keep the software up-to-date.

Creating stronger passwords also beefs up your online security. Additional Apple® and Android™ applications can help you manage passwords while storing them securely.

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May 1, 2013 |

Setting Goals the SMART Way

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Have your good intentions for the new year already been blown into oblivion like litter on a lonely highway? Has your once-exciting vision of a brave new you somehow faded to uninspired business-as-usual? Well, it could be that you just didn’t set yourself up for success. Before the year is too far gone, let’s look at how to approach goal setting in a way that could allow you to make course corrections and turn 2013 into your lucky year.

Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can use the concept of “S-M-A-R-T” goal-setting. It’s something I’ve heard about over the years. But until I did some digging, I didn’t realize it dated all the way back to the mid-1950s and Peter Drucker’s book, “The Practice of Management”. Here, I’ll apply that approach to the No. 1 financial goal I’ve regularly encountered over the years, the veritable Cadillac of resolutions: “I want to get out of debt.”

Let’s examine how this seemingly perfect resolution often fails, and what you can do to get it right using the S-M-A-R-T method.

Specific.

The usual problem: The “get-out-of-debt” intention is good, but it’s certainly not specific. Are you talking about your mortgage, car loans, student loans and credit cards, or just one or the other? What are you really trying to accomplish?

The fix: Be laser-focused. Identify a specific debt you want to tackle or a dollar amount to attack.

Read the full story here

 

April 23, 2013 |

First Thing’s First: 7 Finance Tips to Manage Money During the Job Transition

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Though the U.S. economy has been gradually improving, job transition and changes — both involuntary and voluntary — are still a fact of American working life. “It’s also a fact that bills need to be paid whether you’re employed or not,” says J.J. Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner with USAA.

To help you cover expenses and protect your finances as you transition from one job to the next, Montanaro offers these seven tips.

1. Decide how to collect your final pay.

If leaving your job wasn’t your idea, your employer may provide a severance package to ease the financial pain. Amounts vary, but one or two weeks of salary for each year you’ve worked at the company is typical. If you’re given a choice of a lump sum or a stream of payments, consider three factors:

Read the full story here

April 23, 2013 |
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