Many couples today are facing a new source of relational strain – income disparity. When one partner earns more than the other, how both partners perceive, react to and interact with that income gap can determine the relative health of the relationship itself. For different gender partnerships, when the woman earns more there can be additional stress involved. As well, as traditional gender roles continue to evolve and transform, income can play a larger role in determining household responsibilities.

This post will explore what can occur when there is an income gap in any relationship – and some options for repairing any issues that may arise because of it.

Using Earned Income to Assign Value

There is some truth to the assertion that health attracts health – just as wealth attracts wealth. But sometimes the opposite holds true instead – and when two partners are not equally matched in terms of inherent self-worth and self-respect, nearly any issue can serve as fodder for widening the gap.

Income is an especially explosive issue in relationships, and in fact many partners say it is the subject they most frequently argue about. Sadly, today’s culture continues to promote money as a reliable source of power and leverage in relationships of all types. So it can still feel natural to assume the partner who earns the most and contributes the most has the most rights, the most say, the most power in the partnership.

Sadly, this scenario fails to assign value in terms of overall contributions to the relationship and the household in an equitable fashion, especially when both partners do not work outside the home. And it can break otherwise healthy partnerships if left unaddressed.

How to work through it: One way to take the focus off how much green paper either partner brings home is to assign value-as-if to other tasks – for instance, caring for the children, cleaning the home, paying the bills – as if the couple is paying a professional to do it.

Here, the partner staying home with the kids is contributing, let’s say, “$20,000 a year” that would otherwise be spent in nanny services if both partners worked outside the home. This can help level the income playing field in terms of each partner’s relative overall contribution, and equal out the balance of perceived power.

Using Income to Define Partner Roles

If both partners work outside the home, it can be tempting to place pressure on the one who earns less to do more outside of work hours. This can be exacerbated when the partner who earns less is also female and there are traditional gender role expectations at work.

When the partner who earns more is also female (in a different-gender partnership) and there are traditional gender roles in play, this can translate to mean that, in addition to bearing the pressure of contributing the lion’s share of household income, the female partner also bears more responsibility for checking homework, cooking dinner, cleaning, ferrying kids around and more.

Either scenario can spell disaster for two-income relationships today.

How to work through it: The best approach begins with a simple list of all child- and household-related tasks, followed by an evaluation of each partner’s interests and aptitudes. Factoring in the helps from the previous section can help to ease stereotypes about “traditional” gender roles and assign financial value to each item on the list. From here, the couple can begin divvying up necessary tasks in a more sensible and equitable fashion.

Sneaking Around Financially on a Partner

As it turns out, “financial infidelity” is becoming a major player in the demise of many relationships today.

When one partner spends in secret, stashes some cash in a solo account, makes big ticket purchases without clearing it with their partner first and engages in other similar types of financial “cheating,” it is just a matter of time before evidence surfaces, the cheating partner is caught and conflict arises. Issues with credit and debt are equally to blame for much of today’s financial infidelity, and can be even bigger trust-breakers since one partner’s credit and debt can have long-term impact on the other as well.

How to work through it: If there are traditional gender roles at work (see previous section) this can be an even tougher issue to address, but under any conditions, the secrecy cloaking this issue makes it difficult to even bring the topic up. Couples cannot address a problem they don’t realize exists. For partners who suspect their significant other is engaging in financial infidelity, it can be helpful to involve an objective third party – preferably a professional trained in marital or relationship counseling – before attempting a confrontation or intervention.

Letting Financial Ego Steal the Show

As financial infidelity becomes more of a problem, financial ego is increasingly coming along for the ride as well. “Financial ego” basically means that one or both partners view the partner who earns the higher salary as more important in the relationship.

This can translate to mean that the partner who earns more gets “excused” from tasks – even those they agreed to take on, earns a free pass for bad behavior or is exempted from pulling their weight in the home and family. The partner who earns less, in turn, begins to feel truly lesser than – less respected, less important, less worthy of voicing their wants and needs.

As this form of income gap widens, one partner may begin to feel like a dependent than an equal partner. In the same way, one partner may begin to feel more like a parent than an equal partner. In either case, the relationship itself is compromised from within by the artificial assignment of earning history as a measure of personal worth.

How to work through it: Here, each partner may discover they have their own separate issues to work through – such as a history of low self-esteem or insecurity leading to a) allowing a partner to put them down or b) finding ways to artificially inflate self-esteem. As well, the couple needs to create a list of other contributions they individually find valuable and desirable outside of straight finances. Put together, these actions can help equalize the partnership once again.

By understanding how income gaps can jeopardize and even destroy relationships, couples can guard against budding issues and take steps to work through existing inequalities. In this way, even a struggling relationship gets a second chance to survive and thrive.

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If you are struggling to catch up or pay off your bills, then you may be wondering which bills you should pay first? These are decisions that millions of people are forced to make each month as they struggle to make ends meet. Before making any decision on which bills to pay, you should take the time to prioritize your bills and consider all of the short and long-term consequences that you will face if you fail to pay your bills every month.

Home Mortgage and Rent Payments Must be Paid Each Month

When it comes to picking and choosing what bills to pay first, it is always important to pay your home mortgage loan or rent each month. This is true even if you can get away with making a late payment or two. Before you decide not to pay rent or your mortgage, you need to consider how it may impact your future. Even if the consequences will be minimal at first, paying your rent or mortgage late has both short and long-term consequences.

Millions of renters and homeowners fall behind on their rent and home mortgage payments only to realize that they will never be able to catch up. Even if the initial consequences are just a lower credit score and the imposition of late fees, the impact of your decision may be much more severe down the road. Renters who pay late and miss rent payments often get evicted from their apartment or have trouble finding an apartment in the future. In addition, homeowners who fall behind on their home mortgage payments often go into default and foreclosure because they never had a chance to catch up with their payments.

Both owners and renters who make late payments may also see their credit scores go down significantly as well. Banks, home mortgage companies and landlords report late payments to all the credit bureaus. In addition, missed and late rent payments often lead to court and eviction proceedings. These are just a few of the short and long-term consequences that both homeowners and renters who fail to pay their rent on time can face.

Auto Loans Are Equally Important

When prioritizing which bills need to get paid and which ones do not, it is important to make sure all of your auto loan payments are taken care of each month. This is especially true if you rely heavily on your automobile to get to and from work. Whether you have a car loan or some other type of loan, failure to make your car payments each month can lead to repossession and loss of use of your vehicle. In addition, failure to pay your car loan on time each month may make it difficult for you to get a low interest auto loan in the future should you need one. As such, it is always important to make sure your auto loan payments are paid each month.

Credit Card Bills Must be Paid Each Month

Credit card bills are also at the top of the list of bills that need to be paid each month. Whether you can afford to pay off the balance or make the minimum monthly payment, it is important to make a payment each month. Failure to make a monthly payment can have both short and long-term consequences on your credit score.In addition to having your credit card account closed by the company, missed and late credit card payments can lead to the imposition of late fees, higher interest rates and other fees.

In addition, many credit card companies who do not receive payments often make the decision to close a person’s credit card account without advance notice. If your account is closed in the future, then you will have trouble getting approved for another credit card. This is why it is always important to make sure you make plans to pay your credit card bills each month.

Student Loans Are a Top Priority

Although student loans may not be at the top of this list, they are just as important as your credit card and auto loans. This is true because most student loan payments are reported to all the credit bureaus. Payments that are made on time can have a positive impact on a credit score. Whereas, late payments can lower your overall credit score for many years to come. In addition, late and missed payments may lead to the imposition of late fees and have other unforeseeable consequences. These are just some of the reasons why student loans are on the list of bills that need to be paid each month.

If you are one of the millions who are having trouble making ends meet each month, then you should take the time to consider which bills need to be paid each month. Paying bills late or missing payments can have both short and long-term consequences on your credit score. Whether you rent or own a home, make payments on your car, have one or more credit cards and student loans, your rent or home mortgage should always be paid on time each month. After taking care of your rent or mortgage payment, then you should make plans to take care of your auto loans, credit cards, student loans and any other bills that can have both short and long-term impact on your future.

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Halloween is an exciting and fun time of the year. Kids, and adults alike, get to dress up and pretend to be somebody else for one night of the year. Little trick-or-treaters get to run around their neighborhoods collecting candy in their candy bags. However, there’s no point in breaking the bank, spending hundreds of dollars when there are many ways to save money for this fun holiday. We are here to share these original, Halloween savings ideas with you!

Save on Costumes

Thrift stores have long been a popular way to get a used cost you, or to create your own costume by piecing together a few accessories and clothing items that you find there. Secondhand stores are definitely a great way to save money on costumes. For example, I once bought a beautiful white body suit at a thrift store. It only cost me about three dollars. I then sewed a small piece of fabric around the waist to create a little white skirt. At the thrift store I also found a can of glitter spray, which also cost me about three dollars. I sprayed some glare in some areas and then I also found some snowflake embellishments at a fabric store which I proceeded to glue gun on various places on the costume, and also some fake rhinestones. I pair this ensemble with a pair of white high heels and a pair of fairy wings that I found at the dollar store. Voila! I was officially a snow fairy. I had one of the most unique, and beautiful costumes at the Halloween party I went to, and the entire outfit was custom-made and cost me around $10 in total.

A friend of mine had also cut up an old prom dress that she bought it at a thrift store for around $12. She poured some fake blood on it made a messy hairstyle with a $2 tiara she found at a dollar store. After styling her make-up, she looked just like Carrie; the part of the movie when her night took a turn for the worse. For under $15 she also had an amazing custom-made costume.

Even if you don’t feel like going to buy something new, you can often find some old garments in your closet that you’re willing to part with. Something that you’d be willing to cut up and make into something new. The possibilities are endless. I remember when I was a toddler, probably because I’ve seen many photos, my mom had painted my face like a puppy (using face paint bought at the dollar store), and I had brown socks pinned to my hair to create “puppy ears.” I was four years old when I had this puppy costume, and I guess, looking back, it was quite cute. for thousands of cheap Halloween costume ideas you might want to look at sites like Pinterest which showcase other people’s very creative ideas for Halloween costumes. You could then easily replicate the costume by finding similar pieces at thrift stores, or dollar stores, and trying to re-create it.

Make your own Halloween Decorations

As mentioned earlier, jack-o’-lanterns are fun to make and the cost next to nothing. Just the purchase of a pumpkin! There are many other ways that you can make your own decorations. For example you know those plastic milk jugs? Some people draw scary faces on them to look like ghosts using a black sharpie marker. Then, they’ll cut out the bottom of the milk jug, put one of those flameless candles on the ground, place the milk jug on top of the flameless candle, and voila! You have yourself a glowing milk jug ghost. The same idea can be done using glass mason jars. You can decorate the mason jar pretty much anyway that you want. You can paint the jar with orange paint and draw a black sharpie marker face to create a jack-o’-lantern. Take it a step further and put a flameless candle inside the jar for a glowing pumpkin. You can even use a white material like that spiderweb stuff, or just some white fabric or even white paper to wrap around the mason jar so that it looks like a mummy. You glue on a pair of googly eyes, and again, place of flameless candle inside the jar if you want the mummy to glow!

Put the Kids to Work

You can have the kids draw and cut out pumpkins, ghosts, bats, candy corn, or any other Halloween item of their choice. After the kids have decorated them, they can glue them to a string and you can hang the string across your doorway or anywhere else that you see fit. Even hanging black and orange streamers on your curtains or window coverings can add the perfect Halloween touch.

With the help of the Internet, the possibilities of creating your own decorations are pretty much unlimited. The savings you can keep on Halloween decorations are endless. You can use Pinterest for ideas, or crawl the web (no pun intended), for more ideas when making your own Halloween decorations.

Halloween Treats

A major part of this festive holiday is of course to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. You don’t want to look cheap, but you also don’t want to break the bank buying candy for virtual strangers; other people’s children, for only one night of the year. Instead of buying those little mini chocolate bars or individual bags of chips, you might want to opt for something fun that’s also inexpensive and give the kids something that they can actually eat, or enjoy. Something that parents will be happy about. Dollar stores are usually great with selling treats for cheaper than average prices. For example, you could probably find boxes of individually wrapped animal crackers, fruit snacks, rice krispie treats, cookies, crackers, or even little toys and knickknacks; something different that isn’t going to give kids a sugar rush.

If you want to remain more traditional and stick with giving out candy or chocolate, you can buy candy in bulk from places like Costco, Sam’s Club, or the dollar store. Just make sure that each piece of candy or chocolate is individually wrapped. It’s very unlikely that a trick-or-treaters’ parents is going to let their child eat a piece of candy that is unwrapped if they have no idea who it came from. So, avoid wasting your money and make sure that you buy trick-or-treaters something that they will actually be able to eat and enjoy.

Halloween Snacks

Are you hosting a Halloween party this year? Or just want to do something special for family and friends? There is a plug for a of ideas out there for festive, creative Halloween snacks that can easily be made on a budget. Even for dinner time on Halloween, you can simply put together a meal that is nutritious, delicious, and consists of only orange and black foods. For example you might want to serve your meal using black dishes. Perhaps you make pizza, which is orange. You might also want to make SpaghettiOs, tomato soup, steamed carrots, pumpkin pie, or any food that is orange — made specially for Halloween.

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Mobile technology can give you the power do a wide variety of things anywhere and anytime: text, Web surf and pay bills. While technology is wonderful because it improves convenience, it can also make people more vulnerable. A good example is mobile banking using your smartphone.

Completing financial transactions anywhere could save you a lot of time, but are the networks safe? Are Apple Pay, Venmo, and Square Cash gateways to identity theft?

Will Smartphones Replace Wallets?

Credit cards have advanced the way that money is used in modern society dramatically. To allay fears, banks have promised to cancel any unauthorized charges on the “plastic money.”

Smartphones have given users powerful machines to connect, communicate and complete tasks in the palm of their hand. But is the smartphone culture fully compatible with the banking industry?

Apple Pay, Venmo and Square Cash each offer their own intriguing formula for encouraging consumers to migrate to mobile banking. So far, the experts have predicted that the profit potential is astronomical. Still, entrepreneurs must pass through the following steps to get the public to accept new technology: Ignorance, Doubt, Mistrust.

At the present stage, the mobile money apps are trying to handle each of these three stages at the same time. Theoretically, most consumers can understand the intrinsic benefits of mobile banking, but are worried about security. With frequent media reports about identity theft, consumers might not want to try something new.

What are the things that could hurt you?

Data Breaches

Ex: Venmo

The Venmo smartphone money transfer application leverages the social media “Friends” concept of allowing you to transfer money between users. Both payer and payee must sign-up for Venmo. You can use your Venmo balance, credit card or United States bank account for payment. The PIN-protected Venmo works on both iOS or Android systems. One of the problems with this linkage is that if it is hacked, you could not only endanger yourself, but also your friends and family. Do you really want someone having access to your credit cards and Facebook page?

Misplacing Your Smartphone

Consumers have developed a natural habit of being very careful with their wallets. People only pull them out for payments. But cell phones are an everything device used for the following: Talking Texting Selfies Social Media The benefits of the smart phone might also be its Achilles Heel.

Problem: Lost Cell Phones

When consumers use their cell phones for so many purposes, they increase the chances of it being lost or stolen.

Solution: Data Swipes

Experts suggest that users should 1) PIN password-protect their smart phones and 2) Sign up for a data swipe service. While data swipes might be effective on the software, they are not effective at removing data from the hard drives.

Hackers Create New Schemes Continuously

Cyber criminals can also use phishing, man-in-the-middle or Trojan Horse malware attacks to steal your credit card information. Phishing is when a fake website pretends to be a trustworthy financial website. The Trojan Horse steals your data by taking over your operating system. Most experts warn against completing money transactions using unsecured public WiFi systems for this reason.

Ex: Simple Square Cash

Experts like the simplistic, easy-to-use Square Cash app. It has a solid dashboard and can work on iOS or Android phones. The system is only for debit cards initially, which might be a good way to minimize risk.

You don’t need an account with Square Cash to use the app. Users receive an email alert for each transaction. There is no PIN protection for Square Cash.

Unfortunately, even Square Cash data can be stolen from the air using high-tech scanners. Police departments use scanners that can accumulate cell phone passwords, texts and data. What if cyber criminals got a hold of the same technology?

As the mobile banking sector tries to improve knowledge, hope and faith in mobile banking smart phone technology, they continue to run into problems with identity theft. Cyber criminals seem to understand the ease of stealing money from smart phones. Consumers still need to develop better habits and security provisions to prevent Apple Pay, Venmo and Square Cash from becoming gateways to identity theft.

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Nothing is more prevalent at luxury hotels than concierge services. A concierge has intimate knowledge of the surrounding area, including businesses and attractions. Within minutes, these individuals can book a flight or reserve theater tickets. They provide guests with vital information sooner rather than later.

But few consumers realize that credit cards can feature concierge services. High-end credit cards from major payment networks tend to include this perk. For instance, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all include a concierge service on premium credit cards. These services are accessible around the clock by certain cardholders, and this perk can prove invaluable for many individuals. Multiple credit cards can include this feature, so consumers should understand their options here.

The three main credit card concierge services are:

  • Visa Signature Concierge
  • Concierge From MasterCard
  • American Express Concierge Services

Let’s take a look at what each company offers and then find out if you’re benefiting from your credit card concierge!

Visa Signature Concierge

Multiple Visa-branded credit cards include this service 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Travel planning is included, so a concierge can book all amenities and travel accommodations for a cardholder in advance. Also, staying at certain partner hotels results in free amenities and food or beverage credits for cardholders. Travelers can have more than rental cars, flights, and hotels booked, though. Limousines, private jets, and even international smartphones can be reserved while traveling.

Visa Signature Concierge can assist in booking seats for a sporting event or entertainment venue, too. In fact, special ticket offers are sometimes available in advance of events and after they’re sold out. Dining reservations come standard, and gifts or flowers can be delivered upon request with ease. All of these features are available at all times of day, and many Visa cards include the concierge feature.

Concierge From MasterCard

MasterCard’s version of concierge services is similar to both Visa and American Express. Still, cardholders can and should take advantage of these benefits whenever possible. 24/7 concierge services are available with the ability to book travel accommodations and reserve tickets for events. Luxury resorts and hotels often come with free room upgrades and complimentary services. As an added bonus, some cruiseship reservations include a $500 onboard credit per room for cardholders.

A unique feature from MasterCard is its extra airport concierge service. For a fee, an escort assists cardholders while getting through airports around the world. This includes help dealing with customs, going through security, and retrieving baggage. A little guidance through international airports never hurts. Plus, airfare discounts and city-specific discounts are available for regular travelers through MasterCard.

American Express Concierge Services

Amex is both a credit card issuer and payment processor today. Therefore, its concierge services are designed to complement current Amex credit card features. Typical concierge services are included like booking travel accommodations and buying tickets to events. Gift purchases and dinner reservations are a cinch, which should be expected of every concierge service offered by creditors or hotels.

Without a doubt, American Express takes things a step further by coupling concierge services with credit card features. Members can contact their dedicated concierge number and utilize their Membership Rewards points. This means that rewards can be redeemed over the phone with assistance from an Amex representative. Likewise, shopping advice and extended warranty information is available through the service. Personal requests are possible, too, if they’re related to Amex card benefits.

Why are these services offered to cardholders?

It’s important to remember that concierge services are offered with top-tier credit cards only. For better or worse, these services are rarely included with lesser cards. Companies offer this feature to cardholders free of charge as a perk. Premium credit cards tend to come with lower interest rates and other unique benefits.

In that sense, payment networks offer concierge services to retain cardholders and reap extra profits. Cardholders usually pay for concierge-related transactions with their credit cards after all. Offering this service costs payment networks millions of dollars, but they profit many times that amount in the long run for doing so. Fortunately, cardmembers can benefit from this situation on a regular basis.

Is your credit card concierge service helping you?

You should know whether your credit card includes a concierge benefit. Perhaps you’ve never thought about taking advantage of this benefit before. Otherwise, you may have used the service dozens of times in the past. Each cardholder, yourself included, needs to leverage these services to the fullest extent possible. Doing so ensures that your credit card works for you and provides true value for the cost.

The Time Factor

First and foremost, concierge services provide convenience in the form of time saved. A representative handles the research and booking processes for travel or events. You tell him or her where you want to go, or what you want to see. Even last minute accommodations can be made, depending upon the request. Throughout this process, you don’t have to exert energy or stress out because things are handled hassle-free.

The Savings Factor

Concierge services and card benefits can help you save money along the way, too. You reap savings whenever you pay with your credit card. Oftentimes further discounts are available by utilizing the concierge service. After all is said and done, you could save 20-60% on your accommodations or reservations. Some amount of savings or discount is often available, and you shouldn’t pass up on these opportunities to spend less.

Make Your Concierge Work For You!

When you contact your credit card concierge, you should feel important. Such services are designed to put your needs front and center during each call. If you feel like your concierge benefit isn’t providing value, then contact the service immediately. During the call, the representative can run through what benefits you have at your disposal, and chances are high that you don’t know every potential benefit.

Taking the time to understand the concierge feature of your credit card can pay off. The best concierge services attend to your needs and seemingly make magic happen. With a single call, you can have tickets in your figurative hands. You could acquire the information you need to try something new. Credit card concierge services are included in high-end credit cards, so you shouldn’t hesitate to use this complimentary benefit!

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The decision to hire a financial advisor is a positive step towards achieving a healthy financial future for many people. Life is busy, and navigating the impact of taxes on investing, tax return preparation, college trusts, retirement planning, estate planning, and insurance takes time. Knowing how all of the parts fit together in a unified financial plan takes perspective, education, and experience.

The right financial advisor painstakingly gathers the client’s financial and life information first. He or she asks questions and listens with care to answers before recommending investment ideas or planning advice. The ultimate decisions about how or where to invest capital depend upon the client’s financial objectives. Stock tips, options trades, or high leverage forex deals aren’t a financial plan. Here are four topics to consider before hiring a financial advisor:

1. Commissions and Transaction Costs

Many large Wall Street broker-dealers embrace financial planning these days. Clients are much less likely to encounter the “rogue” trader who churns and burns the nest egg. Internal monitoring and compliance professionals are there to safeguard the client’s assets, too.

However, it’s still essential to ask the “financial advisor” how he or she makes money because not all financial advisors are created equal. If the salesperson (aka financial advisor) reports his or her income is commission-based, proceed with some caution.

The financial advisor, a default title in some firms, has certainly received mandatory financial training after passing securities registration exams. Unfortunately, the tests are challenging but really don’t qualify the financial salesperson to make financial planning decisions. He or she might not understand basic accounting or tax planning at all.

#2. Churning

Transaction charges like commissions accrue to the salesperson’s monthly income. Depending on the firm, the advisor receives a cut or percentage of these commissions. It may be tempting for the advisor to buy or sell client assets to receive a bigger paycheck this month.

If the advisor suggests buying or selling, ask why. If he or she suggests a “sure thing” stock traded over-the-counter (OTC), commissions won’t appear on the client’s account, but that doesn’t mean the advisor suggested the transaction for free. Similarly, some bonds are traded net of commissions.

Read statement details closely. If the number of transactions in the account has increased, it’s important to understand why. Keep records about each authorized transaction. If the number of trades is substantially greater, ask questions. Mistakes do happen. It’s possible that another client’s trades were booked to the account in error.

Churning and unauthorized transactions, if proven, are serious regulatory violations. If the advisor doesn’t provide a satisfactory explanation about account activity, ask the advisor’s manager or regional executive for assistance right away.

Commingled Accounts

Some financial advisors request discretionary authority over the client’s account and, in doing so, commingle the client’s name and their own. The account statement from the firm’s custodian should have only the client’s name (or name of the trust, etc.) on it. As above, contact the firm right away and ask questions about why the account owner and the advisor’s names are conjoined.

Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) receive extensive financial training over a period of years before they are granted the use of the title “Certified Financial Planner.” Certified Financial Planners are held to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ code of ethics. If the CFP violates these standards by commingling, his or her CFP certificate may be revoked in addition to the client’s right to pursue legal remedies in civil or criminal court.


Some scenarios, such as too good to be true deals, are red flags. For instance, if the advisor is paid a performance fee, he or she is paid more money when certain account goals are reached.

Steady performance is a good thing, but if the account always seems to return a certain consistent return, it’s possible that the advisor is tied to a Ponzi, or pyramid, scheme. That is, new clients pay for partial or full liquidations of older client accounts.

Ponzi schemes can be difficult to identify. Bernard Madoff, once the head of NASDAQ and renowned advisor to some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and organizations, maintained his firm’s Ponzi scheme for years because the firm’s returns were consistently stellar.

Some Ponzi schemes target members of certain ethnic or religious communities and age groups. If something seems amiss, it’s always best practice to check the firm’s FINRA registration status or close the account.


Some financial advisors insist on obtaining discretionary authority in the client’s account. He or she will insist that time is of the essence in achieving returns or other account goals. Granting power of attorney to this advisor can also set the stage for embezzlement.

Several red flags should go off if the advisor demands account access. If the client-advisor relationship is relatively new, it’s important to avoid making a hasty decision. Some experienced financial advisors do request discretionary authority, but the decision to grant it should never be “do or die.” If the advisor explains that he or she will decline the client’s account without power of attorney, accept the decision. It’s best to maintain account control.

Embezzlement of assets can occur when the advisor moves funds from the original account into another. Alternatively, the advisor may request a check from the account if the client has authorized him or her to do so.

If granting power of attorney to the advisor seems like a good idea at some future time, limit authority to securities trading without notification. Limited authority prevents the advisor from withdrawing funds or moving assets from the original account. Before granting power of attorney to any advisor, validate background, ethics records, and credentials. The advisor might not have a CPA license, law degree, or CFP designation after all.

Financial Planners and Fiduciary Responsibility

There are many reasons to engage a financial planner. Career demands, raising a family, or self-employment can make the idea of proper financial planning and management a daunting or impossible task.

The CFP’s goal is to make the client money over time. A private business owner may want to plan for retirement and transition of the business to designates or heirs. A young professional may need to consider how to shelter growing earnings from current taxation and plan for retirement. A young parent with a family inheritance wants to build a home and family.

Fee-Only Financial Planner

All of these clients need the services of a qualified financial planner. A fee-only financial planner doesn’t charge the client commissions and doesn’t sell high front-end or back-end financial products. The financial planner accepts the standard of fiduciary responsibility. This means the advisor must always act in the client’s best interest.

Interview several financial advisors with these topics in mind before making the final decision. After the advisor builds the client’s financial plan and portfolio, little short-term adjustment other than rebalancing assets should be necessary. Ultimately, the selection of an experienced financial planner saves the client time, money, and worry. This is the best reason to hire a financial planner.

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When you’re first starting out, you have limited options when it comes to credit cards. In order to build up your credit, you may have to settle for a card that has less than desirable terms. After a few years, you’re eligible for better deals, but it can be hard to let go of the card that was so good to you. Use this criteria to help you determine whether or not you should switch your credit cards.

Why Stay

One of the factors that determines your credit score is the length of time you’ve had a particular card. Canceling a card that you’ve held for a long time in favor of newer cards can actually hurt your credit score, which is something that few people want to do. This is one of the best reasons to hang on to the card that you’ve been using a little longer. You may also simply like the card you have. For example, if both your checking account and credit card are through the same bank, it’s easy to see all of your data in one place and to make payments online almost instantaneously. Your current card may also offer benefits you like, such as airline miles or cash back that you can use toward paying off your student loans.

Annual Fees and Interest Rates

If your card has an annual fee and high interest rates, though, it could be holding you back. With the wide variety of credit cards available without annual fees, it’s hard to keep paying for a card if it’s not offering you a special benefit. An annual fee may be the single most important reason to switch cards. Why keep a card with an annual fee if you can qualify for a card without one?

Also, if you have credit card debt that you’re trying to pay off, it can be difficult to keep things under control with a high interest rate. Since many cards offer zero-percent introductory rates, switching to a card like at is a good idea if you qualify. Even while making the same monthly payment, you’ll be able to pay the debt off more quickly if you aren’t paying interest.

Streamlining Card Management

As you start to get more credit cards, you may find that your higher credit score means that you qualify for cards with higher limits. For example, if your first credit card had a limit of only $500 and the next two cards you get have limits of $3,000 and $5,000, it can seem silly to hang onto the card with the $500 limit. The limits on the other cards are high enough that they’ll cover you in case of emergencies, and you may simply want to cut back on the number of cards you have to check in on each month. By canceling that older card with the low limit, you have fewer cards to manage, which makes things easier for a lot of people.

Better Offers

Many people find that over the years, they simply start receiving much better offers on credit cards. If the current card has an interest rate of 25 percent and newer cards are offering rates of 10 percent, it just makes sense to choose the card with the lower interest rate. Even if you’re good about paying off the balance in full each month, emergencies can strike at any time. If you’re stuck making payments on a high balance, you want the interest rate to be as low as possible. However, you should carefully read the terms of any credit card before you accept the offer. Cards with low introductory rates sometimes have a high jump in rate once the introductory period ends. Sometimes, cards only waive an annual fee for the first year and you’re on the hook for it every year after that. If you’re not paying attention to what’s going on with your cards, you may end up paying a lot more than you thought you were.

Before You Go

Even though there are plenty of good reasons to switch credit cards, it’s still a good idea to think long and hard about the process before making a firm decision. After all, canceling an old card can negatively affect your credit for a while. Instead, think about the reasons why you’re looking elsewhere. Call up your current credit card company to see if they’re willing to match or beat the other offers. Once a credit card company hears that you’re thinking about leaving them, they’re often eager to drop the interest rate or increase the credit limit. Some might even waive the annual fee.

You should also remember that you can have more than one credit card. If the current card doesn’t have an annual fee, it doesn’t hurt you to hold onto the card and simply not use it. You can keep the old card and still apply for and use the other credit cards are your preferred method of payment. This allows you to reap the benefits of both your longer relationship with the old card and the better terms of the new card. Whether you’re opening a new credit card account or closing an old one, your choices often have a big impact on your credit score. Understanding the potential consequences of your actions is the key to making the right choice. For some people, sticking with an older card is the best move. Others have found that it’s time to make some changes. The choice is an individual one, and you’ll be able to make the best decision for you if you take the time to do your research.

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If you have credit card debt that’s been hanging over your head, you’re certainly not alone. A lot of people have credit card debt that they want to pay off as quickly as possible. Almost 50% of Americans have a credit card balance and the average amount of household debt is approximately $16,000. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are currently in their 20s or 30s will be outlived by their debt. It’s time to make a change – improve your finances and start living the life you’ve wanted. If you have credit card debt, take the following steps to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

1. The first thing you should do is pay off your high interest rate card. Any extra cash that you have at the end of the month should go straight to paying off this card. In the meantime, continue paying the minimum balance on your other cards. Every time you fully pay off a card, you’ll have extra cash at the end of the month. Then, you can put that extra money toward the next card you want to pay off. The reason you want to start getting rid of the high interest cards is so that you stop racking up debt as you’re trying to get it down.

2. Don’t use your credit cards for the time being. The quickest way to eliminate credit card debt is to stop collecting it! Pay in cash whenever you make a purchase – you’ll start to be more aware of how much you’re spending and you’ll naturally begin to spend less. Research shows that people are willing to pay up to two times the price of an item when they use a credit card instead of cash. Until you’re debt-free, vow to only pay with cash.

3. Still can’t put enough toward your cards every month? It’s time to re-think your budget. Take a good look at everything you spend. Are there any areas where you can cut back to save money? Maybe you can dine out less, make your coffee in the morning instead of stopping at Starbucks or use coupons when you go grocery shopping. Ultimately, you want to reduce your spending so you can contribute more to paying off your debt.

4. Don’t hesitate to call each credit card company and request a lower interest rate. When you have a lower rate, you’ll also have lower monthly payments and associated fees. Every time you make a payment, you’ll be paying off more of the principal. If you have a good credit score or if you’ve been offered a lower rate by a competing creditor, mention that to the credit card company – it may make them more willing to reduce your interest rate so that they keep you as a customer.

5. Make two minimum payments each month instead of one big payment. Whenever you make a payment, your average daily balance goes down, which means you’ll get lower interest charges. You’ll pay off your debt quickly and improve your credit score at the same time.

6. If you have a high interest rate credit card and the company won’t lower the rate, consider transferring the balance to a card with 0% interest for the first few months. Many card companies offer this type of deal as a promotion for new customers. This will give you more time to pay off the balance while focusing only on the principal. At the same time, you can start paying off your other high interest rate cards. Just be aware that some balance transfers charge a 3% fee for the service. Make sure you’ll still be saving on the interest after paying this fee.

7. Consider consolidating your debt. Depending on the size of your debt, this may be the best option. You can do this by borrowing from a bank, a peer-to-peer lender or a private lender. You’ll then use the loan to pay off all your credit card debt. Then, you’ll focus on paying back just the one large loan, which means one manageable payment per month. Just make sure you can make that one large payment every month. Loans come with interest rates as well, and you don’t want to get into more debt than you started with.

8. Don’t stop paying off your debt! After you’ve paid off a card or two, or once you’ve consolidated your debt into a loan, it’s tempting to start pocketing any extra money you get every month. Continue paying off your debt, though, whether that means contributing more to your credit cards or paying extra toward your loan. The only thing that will truly put more money in your pocket is having less debt to worry about. Once you’re finished paying off one credit card, you’ll have even more money to contribute to the others. If you continue to spend your extra cash, you’ll never get that debt paid off completely.

9. Whatever you do, don’t close all of your credit cards! Once your cards are paid off, keep them open. Your credit score is partly based on how much credit you use. When you close a card, that’s less credit that can work in your favor. Keep your card open and aim to carry 30% balance on it. Make sure to pay a majority of the balance off each month. Use the card to pay for necessities and only the items that you have the actual cash for.

Before you do any of the above, get yourself organized so you can realistically see your budget and what you owe. Make a spreadsheet that includes detailed information about your cards and balances. Be sure to include the interest rate for each card, too. You’ll need a true idea of your total amount of debt so that you can come up with a strategy for paying it off. You can’t tackle a problem unless you’re clear on exactly what that problem is.

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Early retirement requires deep consideration, otherwise it might not work out for you.

The dream of early retirement is one that many, many people have. The reality of early retirement can become a nightmare for those who are not prepared, as well as for those that go into it without giving it deep consideration.

Even for those sitting on a tidy sum in assets, it is possible that early retirement simply is not the right move. Here are a few points to consider.

The Traditional Retirement

First, it is important to understand how retirement is designed to work for most people. Once someone reaches retirement age, they have access to all of the funds that have been waiting for them over the years. That includes,

  • Social Security
  • 401(k)s
  • Other retirement funds
  • Pensions

When someone retires, they can start collecting many of these things. However, each of these sources of funds comes with caveats and rules that can upset someone who is seeking early retirement.

Social Security Doesn’t Favor Early Retirement

Generally, for someone to collect their full Social Security retirement benefits, they need to retire at the proper age. As of right now, the full benefit age for those born on or after 1960 is 67. In fact, those who retire even later than 67 can receive more than their full benefit amount.

When were you born?

Those born before 1960 can usually get away with full benefits at the age of 66. For any age before 66 down to around 62, Social Security funds are still available, but only at a permanent reduction. For the SSA “early retirement” is retiring at the age of 62. At that age it is possible to forfeit about 30% of Social Security benefits.

Since social security benefits go by work credits and formulas, it is still possible that someone who retires extravagantly can collect. Social Security benefit amounts are reduced by a percentage for each month before retirement age. Depending on when someone retires early, they can still collect, albeit a ridiculously reduced amount.

A 401(k) Withdrawal Will Come with Harsh Penalties

If an early retirement is predicated on a 401k withdrawal, then it is important to know what early withdrawal entails. In almost all cases, a withdrawal before the age of 59.5 will result in some or all of the following penalties.

  • Taxed federally
  • Taxed by state
  • 10% early withdrawal penalty

Altogether, those taxes and that penalty can equal about 35% to 45% of the full amount. So an early withdrawal can mean giving away nearly half of the funds. Depending on how the plan is managed, there may be some ways to bypass some of the penalty, but that is strictly on a case-by-case basis.

Retirement Plans of All Kinds Don’t Like Early Retirement

If someone would want to retire early, they would do well to go over the plan details of their retirement plan. Not all plans have the same rules, and some may actually cause less of a hassle than others.

For example, it is easier to take withdrawals from a Roth IRA than it is from a 401k. Regular IRAs, like 401(k)s, do not like for anyone to try to take a withdrawal before they reach 59.5 years of age.

However, IRAs offer the ability to annuitize payments for those that would withdraw early. There are many retirement plans out there, so it is important for the early retiree to fully research theirs before they attempt to retire.

Early Retirement Relinquishes Many Future Funds

When someone retires early, they stop contributing to all of the previously mentioned options. There are no more 401k contributions, which means no more company matching as well. There is no more interest accruing on many of the retirement investment accounts. There is no more rate of return, or if there is, it is drastically reduced.

These are important considerations when thinking about early retirement. If someone retires today, they are literally giving up future money, and lots of it.

Retirement Plans Do Not Always Match the Reality of Available Funds

Many people want to retire in either extreme luxury or extreme relaxation. Ideally, they want both. But the goal for most is to live comfortably. But in order to live comfortably for several decades, a lot of money is a requirement.

Regular funds are great for paying for a home to live in, and food to eat. Unfortunately, regular payments cannot always take care of medical costs and many other needs that arise. What many early retirees fail to realize is that retirement requires considerations that go far into the future.

That is one of the reasons why waiting until actual retirement works better for some. When some starts an early retirement flushed with cash, they must watch as that cash slowly dwindles over the years. It is highly possible to hit bottom with a good several decades of life still left to go.

Make a plan that includes the future.

None of this means that early retirement is a poor choice. It just means that it requires a depth of planning that goes beyond what many people ever consider. It is still possible to break it down into steps.

  • Determine the proper age to retire
  • Consider how many years the retirement plan must account for
  • Estimate the yearly expenses for the extent of that plan
  • Document current assets, match them against the expenses for the plan
  • Develop a budget
  • Make changes to portfolios to line up with goals
  • Decide when to take distributions and apply for Social Security
  • Allocate resources to healthcare and long-term care

There are numerous tools out there to help someone figure out the numbers. These steps are the same no matter what age someone chooses to retire.

Early retirement can definitely turn into a financial risk. But for those that take the time to make sure their finances are ready for the long haul, that risk becomes greatly reduced.

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Over 100 million people live in rental properties in the United States. This includes properties like homes, condominiums, and apartments. Therefore, chances are high that you pay monthly rent rather than a mortgage. Rent rates vary from city to city, and even different areas within a single city can feature staggering differences. Certain areas in the country even feature rental rates that match mortgage rates.

It’s a simple fact that millions of people struggle to pay their rent each month. Plenty of people pay late on a regular basis. Otherwise, a late payment or two per year is quite common. An increase in rent or an unexpected expense can make paying the rent a challenging task. You’ve undoubtedly experienced such situations from time to time. We can’t control everything in our lives related to money after all.

Here’s a simple question: can you afford your rent? Nothing is worse than a monthly rent that eats up most of your income. American consumers deal with that exact situation on a regular basis, though. Without a doubt, you should take stock of your current financial situation and figure out how much you rent impacts your financial livelihood. The results could prove shocking to say the least.

To figure out the answer to this question, let’s start crunching the numbers!

Step 1: Create A Basic Budget

First, you should figure out how much you spend on housing, fuel, and groceries. Most households spend 60% of their income on these three expenses. Overreaching beyond this threshold can wreak havoc on your finances. Your budget should include how much money you earn from all income sources in a typical year. To paint an accurate picture, you should include things like employment income, investment income, and bonuses.

Annual income helps you determine how much you can spend on expenses like rent.

You should consider creating a more detailed budget now, or sometime in the near future. When you map out all of your expenses, then you acquire a better picture of your financial situation. With that information, you can make a lot of positive changes to increase your savings and decrease your expenditures. Only a basic budget is necessary to figure out your ability to pay the rent each month.

Step 2: Run Your Income and Rent Against Common Guidelines or Formulas

30% Income Rule

Most people know about the 30% Income Rule in which rent shouldn’t comprise more than 30% of your annual pay. In reality, a large number of people spend way more than 30% of their income on monthly rent. This guideline is still solid advice because it helps you reign in your expenses. The less money you spend on rent, the more you can put into savings or other expenses. You can still live comfortably passed this threshold.

In the United States, it’s not uncommon to see people paying 70-80% of their income in monthly rent. That’s not a desirable position to exist in, but some individuals and families can make it work. The takeaway here is that rent should take up the lowest amount of your annual income possible. By keeping rent low percentage-wise, you’re more likely to live a comfortable life with some financial stability.

40X Rent: Can You Manage It?

Many property management companies use a formula to determine if you can afford rent. Typically, landlords use a “40 Times The Rent” methodology to make this determination. Your annual income divided by 40 dictates what you can easily afford per month in rent. Annual earnings of $40,000 results in yourself being approved for $1,000 per month in rent. Such formulas help landlords approve financially stable tenants.

If you meet these requirements, then you can indeed afford your rent as far as many landlords are concerned. Other landlords use a variety of separate formulas to make that determination, though. Many property owners want you to earn 2.5 times more than the rent on a monthly basis. Sometimes, the entire decision is based upon your creditworthiness more so than anything else. Every landlord is slightly different.


You might consider using the 50/30/20 rule instead. This means that you should dedicate 50% of your income to fixed expenses. From there, 30% of your income goes into day-to-day expenses, and 20% falls into the financial goals category. A 50/30/20 spending formula ensures that you’re taking care of necessary expenses with some wiggle room for unexpected events. It even ensures that you take care of savings, too.

For obvious reasons, the 50/30/20 rule is more of a guideline because you can make modifications. Perhaps you want to spend 40% on fixed expenses, 20% on day-to-day expenses, and then put the remaining 40% into savings. Most people can’t manage that particular proportion. Still, all that matters is that your expenses are covered and that you’re putting money away for financial emergencies and future expenses.

Another Factor To Consider

In the end, you need to take a step back and consider your situation. Do you feel comfortable paying your current rent rate? Are you happy with the money you’re able to put into savings? There are countless ways to determine if you can pay your rent. Most people are satisfied with paying the rent and getting on with their lives. For that reason, how you feel about the situation does make a difference in many ways.

Using tangible formulas and calculations to answer that question comes with certain benefits, though. You can crunch the numbers and easily determine whether you can pay the rent or not, especially in the eyes of your landlord. With these numbers, you have real evidence that your money is going where it should based on your income. Such numbers allow you to see if adjustments are possible to lower expenses.

Either way, you can probably pay your rent in full on most months. Everyone experiences financial uncertainty throughout their lives. A late payment or two won’t become the end of the world. To avoid such situations, you should check out your financial and rent situation. Determine if adjustments can result in lowered rent or higher savings each month. A few changes could help you live more comfortably.

Rent shouldn’t be 70% or more of your income. Sadly, thousands upon thousands of people experience high expenses like that. A simple budget and assessment of your finances can make an incredible difference. Many people look at that picture and realize that they can improve their financial situation. Getting that rent rate closer to 30% isn’t necessary, but it can’t do any harm either.

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