May 19, 2014 |
You'd be hard-pressed to find a college not offering online courses. Some are cheap alternatives to traditional schooling. Here are some things to consider about inexpensive distance learning. Coursera offers free online access to hundreds of college courses from Yale, Peking University, Penn State and 106 other institutions of higher learning. That's impressive, but can you get real credit for taking a course on Coursera? Yes, in a way. Within a few weeks of starting a course, you can decide to opt for Signature Tracking.
May 12, 2014 |
Commissions, administration fees, investment fees, service fees. Your company 401(k) retirement plan may be subject to any and all of these - some of them year-in and year-out. Fees on 401(k) plans are the subject of this post at the U.S. Department of Labor page. It illustrates the problem investors face, like this: Say you have $25,000 in a 401(k), with 35 years to go before you'll need to tap the account for income. If the investment return is 7 percent per year, and fees are 0.5 percent, "your account balance will grow to $227,000 at retirement, even if there are no further contributions to your account.
April 28, 2014 |
Moving is on a lot of people's to-do lists as the economy improves, jobs change, schools let out, and older people look to downsize. Make it a little simpler with some planning advice. Lifehacker.com has a "start-to-finish guide for moving to a new place. " By Adam Dachis, this post is for do-it-yourselfers who want to - or must - take on the challenge of moving without professional help. Unless you're relocating from a dorm room, it's usually a really big job. But Dachis breaks it down into simple parts: preparation, packing, labeling, and moving in. Along the way, there are myriad issues, such as how to find cheap packing material, how to know if your stuff will fit in the new place, and how to talk a few, but not too many, friends into helping.
April 21, 2014 |
Last-minute tax filers who were due money back from the Internal Revenue Service are just getting, or still awaiting, their refunds. Here are ways to decide what to do with the cash. Kiplinger.com says refunds, which average around $3,000, should go "to bolster your personal balance sheet. " First, consider giving yourself a raise, this post suggests, "by adjusting your tax withholding to increase your take-home pay. " More immediately, use the money you got back from the IRS to pay off credit-card debt, or set it aside for an emergency fund, or boost a savings, retirement, or college account.
April 14, 2014 |
Summer is coming, and many of us are planning vacations. Don't cloud good memories you make by piling up vacation bills that take years to pay off. A little planning can keep you within budget. "The 'anything goes' spirit that is so intoxicating during a trip can turn a little . . . toxic afterward, when you're home facing staggering credit card bills," notes this post that we found at realsimple.com. To avoid that trap, plan your vacation - where you're going, how you'll get there, and what you'll do once you arrive.
March 24, 2014 |
Job interviewers are looking for something. But what? And how do you answer those intentionally tricky questions? Here are ways to navigate the minefield of the interview room. Interviewers want job applicants to be likable, to stand out, to ask questions. That's part of what business writer Jeff Haden says in this LinkedIn post titled "What Interviewers Wish They Could Tell Every Job Candidate. " At the end of an interview, according to Haden, employers should like it when you "do what great salespeople do and ask for the job. " Then, follow up. Employers appreciate a note of thanks.
March 17, 2014 |
The workings of the U.S. Social Security Administration can be clouded by jargon and bureaucracy. Check these sites for answers to big questions and how to deal with those bureaucrats. The retirement "estimator" at Social Security's ssa.gov site will give you a ballpark number for what you can expect in those benefits at retirement. The estimator uses your own information on record with the Social Security Administration. Other links from the same page will estimate your life expectancy and tell you how to begin an online application for benefits.
March 3, 2014 |
The hard winter may have slowed car sales. So, if you're in the market, there might be more good deals out there than usual in the coming weeks. Before hitting the lots, check out these sites. "Confessions of a Car Salesman," at the Popular Mechanics site, is labeled "anonymous" but has the ring of truth in it. The question-and-answer post explains, for example, that the salesman really must go talk to the manager on every deal, because - in addition to the odd psychology of car dealing - the manager holds all the cards and typically keeps information from the salesman on the bottom-line price for any given car on the lot. Usually, he says, "it's the hardcore hagglers that get the best prices.