You are previewing Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want out of Life.
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Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want out of Life

Book Description

Pulliam Weston (Your Credit Score), columnist for MSN Money and author of the nationally syndicated column "Money Talk," provides a practical, easy-to-understand guide to taking control of personal finances and establishing financial security. Like most financial advice books, this collection covers the basics, such as creating a financial toolkit, investing, planning for retirement and saving for college. While Pulliam Weston provides insights into these areas-especially for those without a financial background-she also charts new territory with her "60 Percent Solution" and "50/30/20 Plan," both aimed at spending control, as well as getting the most out of your credit cards and what to do if you've overspent on a car purchase. An advocate of online banking, Pulliam Weston maps out the right way to pay bills and advocates account aggregation and consolidation. She also provides a useful resource guide for finding a financial planner, a tax professional and an estate planning attorney. Checklists are included in each chapter, as well as helpful charts and tables that aid in getting and staying organized. This book will be a valuable guide on the path to financial control and security.

                                                --Publishers Weekly

“If you want to simplify your life and make solid decisions—fast—this book is your answer. It’s one more reason Liz remains one of America’s most trusted financial columnists. Quick, easy, and empowering!”

—Jennifer Openshaw, Author of The Millionaire Zone and CEO,

“As usual, Liz cuts to the chase to provide readers with practical, easy to implement tips for living a rich life. If you follow only half of her on-the-money recommendations you’ll be exponentially better off tomorrow than you are today.”

—Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., Author of Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich and

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

Simplify your financial life…

now and forever!

• By the Internet’s #1 personal finance expert, MSN’s Liz Pulliam Weston

• Stop feeling overwhelmed by your finances: take control, the easy way!

• Save time, avoid mistakes, and help secure your future

Common sense. Easy solutions. Plain English. Best selling author,

Liz Pulliam Weston, takes on the problem everyone has, and nobody talks about: the sheer hassle of managing your money! Weston offers practical guidance and easy checklists for every decision: investments, credit cards, insurance, mortgages, retirement, college savings, and more! Discover how to consolidate, delegate, and automate your finances…save time and money…and live a more rewarding, secure life!

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Financial Times
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. About the Author
  5. Introduction
  6. 1. Setting Up Your Financial Life
    1. Your Financial Toolkit
      1. Sign Up for Online Access
      2. Link Your Accounts
      3. Allow Your Paycheck to Be Deposited Automatically
      4. Set Up Overdraft Protection
      5. Open at Least One High-Yield Savings Account That’s Electronically Linked to Your Checking Account
      6. Consolidate Your Accounts
    2. Consider Two Checking Accounts
    3. The Right Ways to Pay Your Bills
      1. Know What You Owe
      2. Set Up a Bill Calendar
      3. Set Up Alerts
      4. Consider Switching to E-Bills and E-Statements
      5. Pay Your Bills Electronically
    4. Build Your Control Panel
      1. Account Aggregation 1.0
      2. Account Aggregation 2.0
      3. Account Consolidation
      4. Excel Spreadsheets
    5. Set Up Your Command Center
    6. Staying Up-to-Date
    7. Your Checklist
  7. 2. Take Charge of Your Spending
    1. The 60 Percent Solution
    2. The 50/30/20 Plan
    3. How Do I Prioritize My Goals?
    4. Couples and Money
    5. Your Checklist
  8. 3. Get the Most Out of Your Credit Cards
    1. If You Carry a Balance
      1. Zero Percent Jockeys
      2. If You Pay Off Your Balance in Full Every Month
    2. How to Find the Best Card(s)
    3. Your Checklist
  9. 4. The No-Sweat Guide to Retirement (and other) Investing
    1. How to Manage Risk
    2. Why Beating the Market Is So Tough
    3. The Three Keys to Successful Investing
      1. Use Low-Cost, Broad-Market Index Funds Wherever Possible
      2. Include Bonds and Cash in the Mix
      3. Add a Dab of Real Estate
      4. Rebalance Annually, but Otherwise Leave Your Investments Alone
    4. Why Life-Cycle and Target Maturity Funds May Be the Answer
    5. Which Account Do I Use?
    6. Coordinating Your Approach
    7. Getting Help
    8. How Much Should I Save for Retirement?
    9. Ballpark E$timate®
    10. As You Approach Retirement
    11. Your Checklist
  10. 5. The Easy Way to Save for College
    1. Why 529 College Savings Plans Rock
    2. Picking the Right College Savings Plan
    3. Prepaid Tuition Plans
    4. Your High School Game Plan
    5. What to Do If You’re Starting Late
    6. Your Checklist
  11. 6. Insurance: Protecting What You Have—And Will Have
    1. Auto Insurance
    2. Renters Insurance
    3. Condo Owners Insurance
    4. Homeowners Insurance
    5. Umbrella Liability Policies
    6. Health Insurance
    7. Disability Insurance
    8. Life Insurance
    9. Your Checklist
  12. 7. Buying Homes and Cars
    1. When You’re Ready to Buy a Home
    2. The Home-Buying Timeline
      1. One Year Before You Want to Buy: Get Your Credit Reports and FICO Credit Scores, Pay Down Toxic Debt, and Build Up Savings
      2. Six Months Out: Review Your Mortgage Options, Start Calculating What You Can Afford, and Create Your New Budget
      3. Three Months Out: Find a Good Real Estate Agent and Start Researching Neighborhoods
      4. Two Months Out: Get Preapproved for a Mortgage and Start Touring
    3. Picking the Right Mortgage
      1. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs)
      2. Hybrid Mortgages
      3. Interest-Only Mortgages
      4. Option ARMs
      5. 15-Year Mortgages
      6. 40-Year Mortgages
      7. Final Thoughts on Mortgages
    4. The Smart Way to Buy Cars
    5. Why We Overspend on Cars
    6. What to Do if You’ve Already Overspent
    7. Your Checklist
  13. 8. When You Need Help
    1. How to Find a Financial Planner
      1. Insist on a CFP
      2. Choose a Fee-Only Planner
      3. Get Referrals
      4. Ask Questions
      5. Check Their Background
    2. When You Need a Tax Pro
    3. Working with an Estate Planning Attorney
    4. Your Checklist
  14. 9. Be a Savvy Shopper
    1. Sites Worth Paying For
    2. Price Comparison Sites
    3. Internet Shopping 101
      1. Keep Your Defenses Up
      2. Stick with Companies You Know
      3. Review the Privacy Policy
      4. Review the Return Policy
      5. Look for the Padlock
      6. Use a Credit Card but Don’t Let the Site “Keep” It
    4. Sites to Bookmark
    5. Check for Coupons
    6. When You’re in the Market for Real Bargains
    7. A Word about Price Guarantees
    8. How to Be a Savvy Traveler
      1. Be Loyal
      2. Pick Your Site
      3. Don’t Stop Shopping
    9. When Things Go Wrong
      1. Know Your Rights
      2. Understand the System
      3. Don’t Be a Diva
      4. Know What You Want
      5. Get to a Human—Fast
      6. Know That the Company’s Problems Are Not Your Problems
      7. Enlist the Rep
      8. Hang Up and Try Again
      9. Don’t Get Worn Down
      10. Move Up the Ladder
      11. Now’s the Time to Mention Your Value
      12. Get Help
    10. Your Checklist
  15. 10. Changing Your Uneasy Mind
    1. “The One Who Dies with the Most Toys Wins”
    2. “We’d Be Fine If Our Income Was Just a Little Higher”
    3. “I’ll Never Have Enough”
    4. “I’m Such a Loser; I’d Be So Much Farther Ahead If I Hadn’t Made So Many Mistakes with Money”
    5. “I’ll Never Understand This Money Stuff”
    6. “It’s Not My Fault”
    7. Money and Your Brain
    8. Your Checklist
  16. 11. Setting Goals, Or What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
    1. Visualizing Your Ideal Life
    2. Setting the Timer
    3. The End Game
    4. What It’s All About
  17. Resources and Recommendations
    1. The Basics
    2. College
    3. Couples & Money
    4. Credit & Debt
    5. Estate Planning
    6. Investing
    7. Real Estate
    8. Retirement
    9. Savings Tips