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The New York Times Your Money column had a timely article on renting versus buying by Tara Siegel Bernard. She interviewed a couple who are renting, by choice, in southern California due to high home prices in the area. She also interviewed a few financial professionals in the article. In summary, they agreed on the following: 1) In the short-term, no one can predict what the real estate market will do on a consistent basis. Therefore, if you are planningRead More

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Every year, I compile a list of the FAQ’s I get during tax season to share in the hopes it answers somebody else’s question.  This is not a substitute for tax advice.  Please check with your tax professional for questions specific to your situation. I have a taxable account, but I did not receive a 1099-INT form for it.  I looked online and I earned $7 of interest in 2015.  Do I need to claim this interest income on myRead More

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I asked Cinda Jones, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and owner of Divorce Financial Solutions, to help me answer this complicated question.  Please note that these answers are general in nature.  For answers to any specific questions, it is always wise to consult an attorney in your state.   Retirement Assets (401k’s, IRA’s, 403b’s, etc):  Contributions and benefit accrual during marriage are community property and will be divided in the settlement agreement upon divorce.  Even if only one spouse is contributing to a planRead More

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For most of us, the start of a new year is the signal of a new beginning and an opportunity to start fresh in different areas of our lives.  I heard someone on NPR say that it is not just the new year, but also at the start of a new month, a new week and even on days off that we take the opportunity to reflect on our lives and set goals for the future.   My resolution has beenRead More

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December is too hectic a month to survive without a checklist. Here is a personal finance-themed year-end checklist: ☐ Spend down your flex spending account (FSA) if you have one with a balance. ☐ Donate old or rarely used clothing, toys or other items you have around the house. It will make room for holiday decorations and give you a tax deduction if you itemize and meet the IRS requirements. ☐ Check that you are on track with your retirementRead More

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I use Mint.com to track expenses. While it is not the only automated system available, it is one of the most widely used and the price is right (free). That being said, I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the program. I don’t like being bombarded with advertisements and irrelevant recommendations, but it captures all of my monthly transactions across multiple accounts and provides clarity on our household spending versus our budget. Here is how IRead More

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