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Dealing with Debt

Many Baby Boomers are retiring while still carrying massive amounts of debt. This can add stress to what should be a carefree time of you life.

Here are some tips for getting out of debt:

1. Pay Off Those Credit Cards - Make sure you're paying off more than the monthly minimum. Also, check the interest rates you're being charged and pay down the cards with the highest rates first.

2. Refinance Credit Card Debt - If your credit is good, it may make sense to consolidate your credit card debt into a personal loan. Typically, personal loans charge far less interest than the major credit cards. Just make sure you don't run up the amounts on those cards again!

3. Cut Out the Extras - Decide what you really need - not just what you want.

4. Sell Your Stuff - There are now many ways to get rid of unwanted items and earn a little extra cash... from eBay to craigslist. Or you can always hold a garage sale. You'll have less stuff t take care of and earn some additional money at the same time.

Keeping Snowbirds Safe

It’s that time of year again. Many of us will be traveling from our “regular” homes to spend the winter in warmer states like Florida or Arizona.

Be careful. Law enforcement warns that you may at risk at home and away.

Before you leave: Make sure you have one of or more timers set for the lights in your winter home. Also, recruit a friend or family member who’s staying put to check your house periodically to make sure the driveway is shoveled and to pick up any “penny shopper” type newspapers that aren’t held or forwarded by the post office.

When you arrive: If possible, confine all your purchases to a single credit card. That will make it easier to monitor to ensure that no one you encounter during your winter stay has stolen your card number and is making unauthorized purchases or using that card to open other accounts under your name.

Is It Time to Break Up with Your Bank?

Many of us do a year-end review of our finances.

Don't overlook shopping around for banks. If your bank is charging you for checking or paying barely any interest on your savings, it may be time to shop around. Many community banks and credit unions offer free checking and online banks often have better interest rates on savings accounts, frequently with no minimum blanace.

So it pays $$$ to shop around!

Safeguarding Your Wallet or Purse

With all the emphasis on identity theft, the theft that’s 3 times more common is the theft of a wallet or purse. Here are 2 tips that can help minimize the damage should yours fall victim to a thief:

Remove the riskiest items – These are things that shouldn’t be in your wallet or purse to begin with including your Social Security Card, copies of your online passwords or your bank PIN number.

Make photocopies – Scan or photocopy the important things that remain in your wallet or purse. That includes your driver’s license, bank and credit cards, insurance cards, and even your library card. Make sure you copy both the front and back!

Before You Take a Bite Out of Bitcoin…

Thinking of investing in bitcoin? You might want to think again.

The first rule of investing is – don’t invest in something you don’t understand.

Bitcoin is a bunch of computer code that its backers insist is worth “real money.” Yet, the currency is literally backed by nothing at. There is no government nor really any financial institution that stands behind this “currency.” Yes, there a bunch of speculators, idealists and, frankly, criminals who insist it is a valid currency. Yet, its value against the world’s hard currencies swings wildly (which simply reflects demand for bitcoin). Finally, do you know any place you can exchange your bitcoin holdings for a loaf of bread, college tuition or a new car?

If some “financial advisor” starts talking about bitcoin being based on “blockchain” technology – this is also just computer code. It's not magical.

Remember, if you don’t understand it, probably not smart to put your money there. Just ask the people who didn’t really know how the internet function back in the 1990s and dumped their savings into dot-coms that went bust.

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