For many of us, our home is the single biggest investment we’ll ever make. And just as we track the value of our other investments, it’s wise to assess the value of our main property (as well as any secondary properties we might own) from time to time. Of course, the value of any home fluctuates based on market conditions and other factors. So the question is: How do you determine the current market value of your home?
Let’s assume, for the moment, that you have developed good habits in your financial life. You pay your bills on time every month, you avoid credit card debt, and you save for retirement by maxing out your contributions to your company’s 401(k) plan. You’re living within your means but you’re not rich.
It’s that time of year again… No sooner do you finish nursing off your New Year’s hangover than it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes.
On September 7, 2017, credit bureau Equifax publicly announced that its servers had been hacked. Personal information of 143 million Americans had been leaked. The hacks took place from May to July and included names, addresses, Social Security numbers and more for over 40% of Americans. Information security is serious business. Identity theft happens regularly. And it is likely to increase with the recent Equifax breach. But you can protect yourself. Follow these basic steps to keep your financial information secure.
Do you really need an emergency fund? After all, don’t consistent investing, rising markets, expanded investment technology and ready access to credit lines make traditional savings unnecessary and even counterproductive?
401(k) loans have become a popular source of credit. They have interest rates that are almost always lower than the alternatives. Because they’re secured, you don’t run the risk of building up large amounts of unsecured debt. And if they’re offered by your employer, you can get them without even having to qualify based on your credit. The payments can be handled out of your paycheck so you hardly know that it’s happening. But the very simplicity of borrowing against your 401(k) plan covers up some hidden dangers that you need to be aware of if you’re considering taking out a 401(k) loan — even for a down payment on real estate.
Nobody likes bad news, but sometimes in the stock markets, it’s inevitable. It’s also natural — markets and economies go through cycles of boom and bust. For every bull market that we enjoy, there’s likely to be a bear lurking somewhere in the future. Because of this, it’s important to have a plan in place in case of a downturn.
It seems not a day goes by that the headlines don’t contain a sensational story about some celebrity couple going through a divorce. But even if your names aren’t Angelina and Brad, there are major considerations to take into account.
One of the key decisions when leaving an employer is what to do with your 401(k) from your old company. Often the wisest choices are to leave it with your old employer if their plan is a solid one; roll it over to a new employer’s plan if this is applicable, if they allow it and if their plan is a solid one; or roll the balance to an IRA account. Taking a withdrawal is generally discouraged, due to the tax liability and the fact that those who are under age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% penalty on top of the taxes owed.