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Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Trusted financial advice and business forecasts for more than 75 years

Last Build Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2018 12:30:02 GMT


Are You Ready for Earnings Season?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:58:16 -0400

5 Best Emerging-Markets Funds for the Long Haul

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:36:14 -0400

Emerging-markets funds are on fire. Over the past 12 months through April 18, the MSCI Emerging Markets index has returned 27.1%. That's 7.6 percentage points more than the MSCI EAFE index of developed countries outside the U.S. and 9.6 percentage points better than Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

The rally looks likely to continue. Corporate earnings are growing at a rapid clip in many emerging markets, and the stocks are cheap. EM shares are trading at 11.9 times analysts' estimates for the coming 12 months. That compares to a forward price-earnings ratio of 16.6 for the S&P 500 and 13.8 for the rest of the developed world. The World Bank projects emerging economies will grow 4.5% this year compared to 2.2% for developed economies.

Emerging markets do have their issues. For instance, EMs have higher rates of corruption than developed economies and many have not embraced capitalism. Russia is the poster child for these afflictions. Many emerging markets are dominated by commodity-producing companies, which tend to go through long periods of feast and famine. Others, such as China, have a high percentage of state ownership of publicly traded companies.

Historically, emerging markets have either led the pack or trailed it for multiyear periods. The most recent dry spell was from 2011 through 2015, when EMs lost an annualized 4.8% thanks to meager earnings growth, particularly in commodities. For the five previous years, emerging markets returned an annualized 12.8%, topping the U.S. and the MSCI EAFE index by more than 10 percentage points.

My advice: Own emerging markets, especially when they're relatively cheap, as they are now. But don't get carried away. Dedicating 10% or 15% of your portfolio to a good emerging-markets fund makes good sense to me. Here are my five favorites:

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds You Can Buy

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How Your Home Sale Will Be Taxed

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:31:19 -0400

Singles don't have to pay taxes on up to $250,000 in profits on the sale of their home, and couples can shelter twice that amount from taxes. But even if the gain is much higher, there are ways for home sellers to minimize the tax bite.

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Getting Remarried? 5 Financial Steps to Take Before Tying the Knot (Again)

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:07:58 -0400

The stakes can be higher for a second marriage, because you probably have built a more established career, have amassed more assets and possibly some children as well. So be prepared before you set foot down that aisle.

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8 Great Biotech ETFs to Buy

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:11:05 -0400

Biotech stocks typically are considered one of Wall Street's more aggressive sources of growth. These companies spend years and gobs of money to create breakthrough biological treatments and diagnostic tools, and successful developments can literally change their fortunes - and the fortunes of shareholders - overnight.

The flipside? Many of these companies generate no revenues, and are reliant on just one or two products to change that. Thus, failure to receive FDA approval can put their very existence at risk, and any setbacks often result in swift, stark losses.

Typically, this risk scenario puts biotech stocks on the outs when the market is volatile and investors are looking to go on the defensive. But so far through the first months of a very shaky 2018 in which the markets are essentially flat, most biotech exchange-traded funds are actually beating the market soundly.

It makes sense. While Wall Street might be worried about a trade war with China or tensions in Syria, these biotech companies still are running clinical trials, and still generating interest from larger pharmaceutical companies that are looking to buy their way to more robust pipelines.

Biotech ETFs are a safer way to buy into the space than individual companies. By investing in a basket of dozens or even hundreds of these biotechnology stocks, you reduce the risk that a single-stock failure will torpedo your whole investment, while still participating in the broad upside that this industry has to offer. Here's a closer look at eight funds that give you varying types of exposure to biotech.

SEE ALSO: The 15 Best ETFs for a Prosperous 2018

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What is the Central Bankers' Bubble and Will It Burst?

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 08:11:38 -0400

Easy-money policies across the globe have set us up for some rocky times ahead. Here's why, and what retirement savers and investors should be doing now to protect themselves.

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All Aboard the Tax Volatility Train

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 08:04:19 -0400

The passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the beginning of tax change, not the end. It's likely to touch off plenty more changes ahead ... so be prepared to take advantage of them if you can.

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10 Tech Stocks to Watch Like a Hawk This Spring

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:59:28 -0400

The first-quarter earnings season is here, and this one is an important one. That's because we should see the effects not only of an economy that's heating up, but the massive corporate tax cuts signed in at the end of 2017.

So far, it mostly has been financial stocks. But the really interesting part of earnings season will come in the latter part of April and early May, when the most important tech stocks' results start to flow in earnest.

Mike Bailey, director of research for independent investment management and wealth services firm FBB Capital Partners, thinks the next few weeks could prove compelling for most of the names in the technology industry.

"Steady demand for new tech hardware and software coupled with a weaker dollar are driving sales, while lower tax rates and major share repurchases are boosting earnings," he says, adding, "Generally clean balance sheets mean rising interest rates should have only a modest impact on tech profits during Q1."

Here's a closer look at 10 tech stocks that represent arguably the 10 most important quarterly earnings releases from the sector. Every investor likely has a stake in at least a couple of these names. Not to mention, their results also could have an impact on several other companies not on this list.

SEE ALSO: The 18 Best Stocks to Buy for 2018

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5 Biotech IPOs to Watch in April

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:24:07 -0400

In many sectors, initial public offerings (IPOs) can generate a lot of buzz. After all, a new company is entering the markets. Investors want to know what the company does, how it operates and what potential it holds for future profits. For biotech IPOs, things are a bit different.

For one thing, they're much more common. Of the last 100 IPOs, 30 have been healthcare stocks. And that's just since the end of September 2017.

That's a lot to keep track of for any investor who is also thinking about their current investments. Adding to the confusion is the very nature of biotech stocks themselves. Specifically, biotechs depend on highly scientific developments and properties, which companies often use highly-technical language to explain.

So here's a starting point for investors looking at biotech IPOs. There are five biotech companies expected to go public before the end of April. Here's a breakdown of what they actually do.

SEE ALSO FROM KIPLINGER: 20 of the Best Stocks You Probably Haven't Heard Of

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Retirees Often Make This Major Social Security Mistake

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:22:38 -0400

Many people take Social Security early and put off tapping into their IRAs and 401(k)s until they must. But that's the opposite of what most should do, because waiting until 70 to take benefits can pay off in more ways than one.

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IRS Scams: How to Spot Them and Report Them

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 07:32:02 -0400

If you're getting hounded by calls, emails or letters from the IRS, how do you know they're legit? Here are some warning signs of scams to watch out for.

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Shopping for a 529 Plan for a Grandchild

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:59:54 -0400

When searching for a 529 college-savings plan for a grandchild, first check whether your state offers a tax break for your contributions.

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The 10 Best Dividend Stocks of All Time

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 10:07:44 -0400

Dividends play an unsurprisingly prominent role when it comes to long-term wealth creation. Indeed, take a look at the best stocks of all time, and you'll see that most of them have long histories of returning cash to shareholders through regular dividend payments.

We know this thanks to research by a finance professor who made a startling discovery about the stock market: Over a 90-year span, 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free one-month Treasury bills. After analyzing the lifetime returns of 25,967 common stocks, Hendrik Bessembinder, of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business, determined that just 1,092 of those stocks -- or about 4% of the total -- generated all of the $34.8 trillion in wealth created for shareholders by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2016. Even more striking, a mere 50 stocks accounted for well over one-third (39.3%) of that amount.

Although price appreciation did much of the heavy lifting, dividends played a key role in wealth creation, as well.

Now, here's a look at the 10 best-performing dividend payers since 1926, culled from these top-50 stocks.

SEE ALSO: 50 Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2018 and Beyond

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Serving as Caregiver Takes Toll as You Age

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:57:06 -0400

Experts urge training, support and rest for aging caregivers as seniors caring for seniors in retirement becomes increasingly common.

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How Much Can You Contribute to a SEP IRA for 2018?

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:45:18 -0400

The maximum contribution is $55,000, up from $54,000 in 2017 and significantly more than can be saved for retirement in a regular IRA.

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5 Things to Do the Moment a Loved One Passes Away

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 07:32:47 -0400

You might not be thinking about the practical tasks that need to be accomplished as soon as possible, but these steps are critical to safeguard an estate and ensure that it is passed down as smoothly as possible.

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5 Value Funds That Yield Up to 18%

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:10:05 -0400

In Warren Buffett's most recent letter to shareholders, he updated a data point that never gets old: Just how much Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) shares have outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. Between 1965 and the end of 2017, the S&P 500 has put up a plenty-respectable 15,508% ... but Berkshire shares have delivered an overall gain of 2,404,748%!

Yes, Buffett's clout means he can swing some deals that regular investors can't get, but those returns are still a resounding seal of approval for the value investing principles that the Oracle of Omaha espouses. And those principles should drive even higher returns in the future - especially if higher interest rates put heavily indebted firms at risk.

"The economic environment continues to favor corporate earnings," says Jim Barnes, Director of Fixed Income at financial services company Bryn Mawr Trust. If earnings are threatened by higher borrowing costs, however, that could make the companies with the healthiest balance sheets and more prudent approaches much more desirable - thus, value stocks could seem even more attractive very quickly.

"Classical value investing principles are timeless, and after one of the longest bull markets in history, they are extremely important today," says Don Wilson, CIO of Brightworth, an Atlanta-based investment company.

Closed-end funds are an excellent way to invest in a broad swath of value stocks. In addition to the ease of getting exposure to dozens or even hundreds of stocks in just one fund, many CEFs boast much higher yields than their mutual fund and exchange-traded fund counterparts. Here are five such funds that value-minded investors should consider.

SEE ALSO: 50 Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

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When to Choose a Fee-Based Account for Your Retirement Savings

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:58:16 -0400

The decision depends on the level of the fee, what services are included, how often you trade and any hidden costs that may eat into your balance.

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3 Smart Ways to Give to Charity Under New Tax Law

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:39:19 -0400

Starting in 2018, the tax deduction that giving to charity provides may be no longer be available to many people. That is, unless they change the way they give. Here are three strategies to help keep the deduction many count on.

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How Much Can You Contribute to a Solo 401(k) for 2018?

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:49:13 -0400

Some self-employed savers can put away as much as $61,000 for retirement in a solo 401(k), depending on age and compensation.

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33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:04:37 -0400

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the federal exemption from estate taxes to $11.2 million per person, or $22.4 million for a married couple, so the vast majority of taxpayers won't have to worry about federal estate taxes. However, if your goal is to leave as much as you can to your heirs, then you should also pay attention to the state you choose for retirement.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia levy their own estate taxes, sometimes called death taxes, and some have much lower thresholds than Uncle Sam. In addition, six states have inheritance taxes. Maryland, whose nickname is the Free State, has both.

The good news for retirees focused on estate planning: There are 33 states that have neither estate taxes nor inheritance taxes. Delaware, which eliminated its estate tax at the end of 2017, is the latest state to join the list. New Jersey also nixed its estate tax at the end of 2017, but it still has an inheritance tax.

SEE ALSO: 37 States That Don't Tax Social Security Benefits

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Annuities: The 'Bad,' the 'Good' and the 'Misunderstood'

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 07:29:40 -0400

Let me set the record straight on the two main types of annuities for you.

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10 Cryptocurrency Alternatives to Bitcoin

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:04:10 -0400

Bitcoin is back. Kind of.

The biggest financial story of 2017, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was worth less than $1,000 in January, then worth more than $29,000 by December. As 2018 opened, the Bitcoin market was worth over $250 billion - more than AT&T (T).

The new year was unkind to Bitcoin, which quickly dipped to $15,000, then $10,000, and fell to nearly $6,000. It recovered from there but has spent much of the past month dipping back below $7,000. Now, though, Bitcoin is suddenly a hot topic once more, with the cryptocurrency jumping $1,000 in less than an hour recently, and volume suddenly recovering.

But there is so much more to the cryptocurrency story than Bitcoin.

By April 2018, more than 1,500 of these currencies were in circulation, sporting a market value of nearly $330 billion, according to Coinmarketcap, which tracks the market. Some of these cryptocurrencies, or altcoins, are designed to handle more transactions than Bitcoin. Others are designed to protect user privacy, or separate the process of finding the coins or "mining" them from the process of trading them. Still others are designed to stand in for real currencies in international trade.

If you want to get to better know the cryptocurrency world, you need to move beyond just Bitcoin. Here's a look at 10 of the more important cryptocurrencies in existence, including how they came to be, what distinguishes them and what they may be good for.

SEE ALSO: How Well Do You Really Understand Bitcoin?

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Facebook Will Be Regulated ... But Likely Not by Congress

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 12:19:13 -0400

CEO Mark Zuckerberg came away unscathed from his recent testimony to a Senate committee. That's good news for FB shares.

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Employees: How to Maximize Your Tax Breaks in 2018 and Beyond

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:14:43 -0400

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act preserved or even beefed up many tax breaks available through workplace benefits programs. Here's how to make the most of those benefits.

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5 Last-Minute Ways to Cut Your Tax Bill

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 18:15:51 -0400

The tax deadline is just days away, but you still have time to reduce your tax bill or help a young worker get a jump-start on saving for retirement if you contribute to these five tax-friendly accounts.

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The 15 Best “Turnaround Story” Stocks Right Now

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 17:15:00 -0400

Investors love being involved in innovative companies. The market's love affair with Apple (AAPL) and (AMZN) serve as evidence to that end. Few things are more thrilling than seeing a company bring a new and highly-marketable product to the market, and seeing it turn into a reward for shareholders with the foresight to take a shot.

But there's a scenario that investors love just as much as (if not more than) buying an innovator. That's buying into a turnaround story.

Redemption is a powerful aphrodisiac, and for good reason. General Motors (GM), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and even the aforementioned Apple were once on the brink of total collapse, but each managed to regroup and reward investors for their faithfulness.

There's a fresh crop of turnaround stories - and in some cases even step into - on the market's horizon. A fair warning: None of these overhaul efforts are guaranteed to take hold. But some of them could be lucrative opportunities for the aggressive, and all of them should be fun to watch unfold.

SEE ALSO: 30 Blue-Chip Stocks With the Best Analyst Ratings

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What's a Trade War? The Arguments For and Against Protectionism

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 07:41:01 -0400

You've heard the term bandied about lately, but do you understand what a trade war with China would really be like? Are we headed that way, or is this more of a bargaining chip for future negotiations? It's worth exploring.

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Ways to Stop Wasting Money

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 17:06:24 -0400

You'll keep more cash if you follow our advice.

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5 Sin Stocks You Can Feel Good About

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:04:03 -0400

Sin stocks - shares of businesses that make weapons, operate casinos, brew beer and grow tobacco, among other activities - are immoral and don't merit their precious investment dollars.

However, these stocks have the potential for massive outperformance, and many have - sometimes spectacularly.

In some cases, sin stocks are attractive because their businesses are recession-proof. Alcohol, for instance, lubricates in good times and in bad - when things are well, people celebrate with alcohol, and when they're not, that same alcohol is used to forget that things aren't so grand. In fact, some sin-stock industries are actually in the consumer staples sector because they're considered just as essential as toilet paper and canned food.

One particular type of sin stock - gun companies - is on the ropes right now, with banks cutting ties to companies that produce guns, and fund providers finding ways to allow customers to avoid investing in these stocks. However, numerous other vice industries warrant a look right now.

If you can't let sin stocks into your portfolio, stop reading. If you can, though, read on to learn about five stock picks that are so "bad," they're good.

SEE ALSO: 30 Blue-Chip Stocks With the Best Analyst Ratings

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Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: Ill Health Often Leads to Plan Switch

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 14:33:12 -0400

The drawbacks of Medicare Advantage plans can become apparent when serious illness or injury strikes.

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Calculating Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 12:13:30 -0400

As much as 85% of your Social Security benefits could be taxable if you have other sources of income, such as earnings from work or withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement accounts.

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Is Passive Investing 'Worse Than Marxism'?

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:17:48 -0400

A set-it-and-forget-it investing approach is certainly a pretty easy route for retirement savers to take, but it might be contributing to some big problems for portfolios, and even the market itself, down the line.

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Rates Are Rising. Is It Time to Sell Your Bonds?

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 12:10:26 -0400

Conventional wisdom holds that bonds' value falls as rates rise, and rates are rising, so now what? Well, before you start selling, read this.

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A Guide to Marital Money Bliss

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 14:53:52 -0400

In addition to your credit, any assets you bring to the marriage should remain in your own name.

Are You Saving Enough?

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 07:22:15 -0400

If you go by the book, you would shoot for 10% to 20% of your gross income. But that ballpark figure can be deceiving.

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A One-Size-Fits-All Plan Won't Give You Your Ideal Retirement

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 06:16:30 -0400

A happily ever after retirement requires a real plan. Here are some of the (tough) questions your retirement planner should be asking you in order to make that plan.

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10 Dividends That Are Slowing to a Screeching Halt

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 16:24:16 -0400

Like clockwork, a core appeal of dividend growth investing is receiving steadily higher payouts each and every year. Rising income can help retirees combat cost-of-living increases, or higher dividends can be reinvested to further increase the power of compounding.

Regardless of how the dividends are used, companies with track records of delivering strong dividend growth over many years typically possess several enduring competitive advantages. After all, to consistently pay fast-growing dividends, a firm must be conservatively managed to survive the economy's unpredictable cycles, generate a growing stream of cash flow over time and remain committed to returning capital to shareholders.

However, the world is constantly changing, reshuffling the market's winners and losers, as well as the best stocks to buy for future dividend growth.

The 10 dividend stocks identified here have good if not downright impressive payout track records. Some have made uninterrupted payouts for over a century, and others have compounded their dividends by more than 20% annually over the last decade.

However, they all have one thing in common: their dividends are either now frozen or expected to grow at a very slow pace over the next several years. A few of their dividends could even be at risk of a reduction, should conditions deteriorate further. Investors interested in strong and immediate dividend growth may want to avoid some of these companies, though a couple may bear watching until an eventual return to more meaningful dividend expansion.

SEE ALSO: 10 Stocks at Serious Risk of a Meltdown

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What You Must Know About Flying With Your Pet

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 15:43:24 -0400

If you want Fluffy to come with you, get your paperwork ready -- and prepare to pay.

How Much Can You Contribute to a Health Savings Account?

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 15:41:17 -0400

Even if you have a qualified health insurance policy only for a few months out of the year, you can still make a tax-deductible contribution to a health savings account.

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How Much Can You Contribute to a SIMPLE IRA for 2018?

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 14:45:04 -0400

The amount workers at small businesses can contribute to a SIMPLE IRA for 2018 is unchanged from 2017, but there are ways to boost retirement savings.

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3 Tax Forms That Can Accidentally Raise Your Tax Bill

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 13:26:24 -0400

Protect yourself from accidentally increasing your 2017 taxes by being misled by a member of the 1099 family.

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Simple Strategy to Spend Safely in Retirement

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 09:05:39 -0400

Delaying Social Security and using RMD rules to draw down your nest egg is a winning combination for middle-income retirees.

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Last-Minute Tax Tips for Procrastinators

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 11:09:56 -0400

As you rush to meet the filing deadline, don't overlook money-saving tax breaks. This could be your last year to claim some.

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What Money Message Are You Sending Your Grandchildren?

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 07:50:25 -0400

Grandparents have the power to help shape little ones' financial futures, and all it starts with some good old heart-to-heart talks.

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