You've identified your goals and done some basic research. You understand the difference between a stock and a bond. But how do you actually go about creating an investment portfolio? What specific investments are right for you? What resources are out there to help you with investment decisions? Do you need a financial professional to help you get started?

In times of crisis, you don't want to be shaking pennies out of a piggy bank. Having a financial safety net in place can ensure that you're protected when a financial emergency arises. One way to accomplish this is by setting up a cash reserve, a pool of readily available funds that can help you meet emergency or highly urgent short-term needs.

An individual retirement arrangement (IRA) is a personal savings plan that offers specific tax benefits. IRAs are one of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to you. Even if you're contributing to a 401(k) or other plan at work, you might also consider investing in an IRA.

You know how important it is to plan for your retirement, but where do you begin? One of your first steps should be to estimate how much income you'll need to fund your retirement. That's not as easy as it sounds, because retirement planning is not an exact science. Your specific needs depend on your goals and many other factors.

When you're choosing among mutual funds, you should take into account what the fund will cost you in fees and expenses. The higher those costs, the better the fund's performance needs to be to compensate for them. A 1 percent difference in expenses may not seem important, but that 1 percent can have a substantial impact on the value of your investment, especially over the long term.

When developing your estate plan, you can do well by doing good. Leaving money to charity rewards you in many ways. It gives you a sense of personal satisfaction, and it can save you money in estate taxes.

Many parents pay for college with a combination of current income, savings, and financial aid. By learning the basics of financial aid, you'll be able to understand how the aid process works and compare the aid awards your child receives.

If you give away money or property during your life, those transfers may be subject to federal gift and estate taxes and perhaps state gift tax.

Conventional wisdom says that what goes up, must come down. But even if you view market volatility as a normal occurrence, it can be tough to handle when it's your money at stake.

By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while you are alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death according to your goals and objectives.

 
 
 

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