Learn what you should have ready in case the lights go out for an extended period.
This post comes from William Cowie at partner site GetRichSlowly.org.
Have you considered how your life would freeze to a standstill if a general outage cut electric power for more than two or three days? As every summer arrives, it’s a question more and more people ask, because demand for electric power is growing inexorably, and summertime is when the grid always gets strained to the max. Many experts say all it will take is one unusually bad heat wave and a single computer glitch. The last major outage happened in the summer of 2003, and it affected over 55 million people.
Our lives depend on electricity more than just about anything else, but there are few things we take so for granted. (You couldn’t read this post without it.) Environmentalists have effectively put a stop to all new construction of traditional power stations, and a growing portion of new construction is for clean energy sources. Clean energy may sound sexy, but it’s still unreliable: Wind turbines generate electricity only when the wind blows, which might not be when you need it. Likewise, solar energy generation fluctuates with weather conditions. All it takes is one confluence of circumstances to shut down your power.
That’s a mess. Once your cell phone’s battery runs down, how will you recharge it? Think you can run down to the local Starbucks to get some coffee (your coffeemaker is dead, remember) and recharge your laptop, cell phone, tablet, iPod, toothbrush and shaver? Think again. All your neighbors will have descended on that little coffee shop en masse because they’ll be without power too.
A new survey suggests daughters may be a better investment than sons, but parents say there's more to this story.
This post comes from Robert Beaupre at partner site MoneyRates.com.
A study released last month by Yodlee Interactive and Harris Poll found that adult women are 32 percent less likely to need financial support from their parents than adult men are. Shortly after the release, a spate of headlines touting the financial virtues of daughters appeared across the Web.
However, because the study only looked at adult sons and daughters, it did little to answer the question of which sex is less expensive to parent in the long run. A 2010 study from Lovemoney.com found that, between the ages of 5 and 18, boys are actually cheaper to raise than girls, primarily due to the more costly hobbies and activities girls tend to adopt (at least in England, where the study was conducted).
In terms of hard data, the debate over the relative costs of sons and daughters seems muddled at best. But if you turned to parents who have children of both sexes for answers, would a clearer answer emerge?
Some companies are seizing control of employees' 401k investment choices. If yours does, watch out for these five mistakes.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.
How would you like it if your company started overriding your 401k investment choices? Well, your employer may be doing just that.
A number of companies, concerned that their employees' retirement investments are too risky or not risky enough, are overriding some employees' investment picks and substituting the company's choices.
The ease of letting an employer take the wheel appeals to some investors who feel they haven't got the nerve or knowledge to make investment decisions or can't find the time.
But there are downsides.
Why the boss steps in
A company's substitute choice, typically, is a target date fund -- a portfolio of stocks and bonds whose investments become increasingly conservative as the employee's retirement target date draws nearer.
The employer tactic of substitutions, called re-enrollment, helps boost the safety and growth of employees' investments and can ward off lawsuits over 401k plans' performance or fund choices, says the Journal of Pension Benefits (.pdf file).
Are debt collector calls causing you to lose sleep? Here are four steps to stop the calls and get on with your life.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
The next time you're in a room with six other people, look around. One of you is probably being hounded by a debt collector.
An April report from the Center for Responsible Lending found that 1 in 7 Americans is on the receiving end of debt collection activities. More concerning is the fact that some of these consumers may not owe the debt at all. Accounts are bought and sold, and balances may be incorrectly stated, or settled accounts erroneously listed as in default.
Retailers' advertised sale prices may really not be that great of a deal.
This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.
Don't be so quick to celebrate saving $30 on that new set of sale-priced dishes.
It turns out many retailers trick consumers into thinking they're getting a great deal when they shop during a big sale. In reality, many retailers simply bump up items' original prices, then mark the prices down, duping customers into thinking they're scoring a big discount.
"Thanks to a combination of slick pricing, frequent couponing and confusing discounting, retailers routinely trick consumers into thinking they got a great deal on an item -- when in fact they paid way more than they should have," MarketWatch said.
Earlier this year, we told you about a J.C. Penney worker who claimed he was fired after revealing Penney's sales practices.
J.C. Penney isn't the only retailer that's been accused of fooling customers into thinking they're saving a bunch of money when they're not. According to Consumer Reports:
Beware of this shady collection scam.
As the mother of five children and the wife of a disabled husband, Ashley was scared when she received a call telling her that one of her loans had gone into default and that if she couldn’t cough up the $398 she owed right away “they would send a sheriff to my job or home to serve me with court papers and I would be ‘behind bars’ for six months.”
She shared her story on the Credit.com blog, where she explained that the collector talked her into getting a “Vanilla reload network card” which she purchased at Walgreens in the amount of $300. Over the phone, she gave them the 10-digit number on the back of the card.
Fifteen minutes later she received another call demanding she do the same thing – for another loan. She realized she had been scammed.
Here's the fine print on the differences between consumer and business credit cards.
It is not unusual to see a credit card offered in versions for both consumers and business users. In addition, there are many business credit cards that offer competitive rewards and benefits. Therefore, some sophisticated credit card users will carry both business and personal credit cards for everyday use.
However, business credit cards can be so appealing that some cardholders are left to wonder: What's that catch? Let's take a look.
1. They're exempt from many Credit CARD Act protections
The Credit CARD Act was one of the most far-reaching pieces of consumer protection legislation to ever affect the credit card industry. Yet because those protections were meant to help consumers, lawmakers chose to exempt credit cards used by businesses.
For example, the Credit CARD Act prohibits double-cycle billing, which is when card issuers calculate interest based on the previous two billing cycles, often including transactions that were already paid. Other Credit CARD Act provisions include banning interest rate increases based on information from other lines of credit, and unfair payment allocation that credited payments to the balance with the lowest interest rate first. Thankfully, many business credit cards voluntarily comply with some of the Credit CARD Act provisions enforced on consumer cards, but business card users need to closely examine their card's terms and conditions.
Sure, you can write your own will. But why would you?
This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.
As any financial adviser worth their salt will tell you, having a will is mandatory, no matter your age or net worth.
A will doesn't have to cost a lot. But this week's reader question is from someone who would rather pay nothing by simply writing a will on a piece of paper.
I have received various answers to this question, Stacy. Can you tell me if I can write my own will (my permanent address is in Florida), and if so, have it witnessed and should it be notarized?
Also, can you give me a source to properly know why a power of attorney is necessary even if one is not incapacitated -- or perhaps you can give me an answer to that. I have been told I should have one, but keep it in a safe place. Why? And that it is automatically invalid when I die and my will takes over. -- J
Can you write your own will?
When you die, your estate is born. The person in charge of your estate, known as the executor or administrator, will be given the authority to dispose of your remains according to your wishes, distribute your money and possessions, and provide for the care of any minor children you leave behind.
How does the executor get named and know what to do with your body, possessions and children? It's all spelled out in your will. If you die without one, these decisions will still be made. They'll just be made by a court instead of you.
There are several ways to get a will.
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