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Nov 16,2007
Americans lead the world in charitable giving. In 2006 alone, we gave a record $295 billion, of which 76 percent came from individuals. That doesn't even count time spent volunteering, which some sources value at $150 billion or more. Half of all charitable contributions are made between Thanksgiving and New Years, whether because we're reminded at this time of year to help those less fortunate, we're feeling more generous or simply to lock in tax ... [full story]
3390 times read - No comment posted

Nov 16,2007
Bankrate, Inc. this week published its Fourth Annual Holiday Gift Card Study. 31 issuers of gift cards were surveyed, including American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa; major retailers; and the six largest shopping mall operators. The study examines new trends, expiration dates, fees, and dormancy policies associated with gift card purchases.  "In some cases, the $100 gift card you buy for your loved-one could be worth nothing when they try to make a purchase," said Ellen ... [full story]
1255 times read - No comment posted

Nov 09,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Back in 1988, I quit my employer for a better job and left my 401(k) there because I didn't know what to do with it. Now, 19 years later, I can't locate that employer and I'd really like to because the 401(k) had nearly $3,000 in it and I need the money. I've sent you an old statement and hope you can tell me what to do or how to get the ... [full story]
1149 times read - No comment posted

Nov 09,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me what you think of Pfizer Pharmaceutical. My broker wants me to buy 300 shares ($7,500) for my joint account, which has an income orientation. We are in our early 70s and we do not want to expose ourselves to risks, as a result about 70 percent of our money is in bonds, CDs and annuities. Please tell me about Pfizer and if you think it's a conservative investment. G.J. ... [full story]
1555 times read - No comment posted

Nov 09,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: I have numerous subscriptions to various financial publications and I'd like your opinion on which of them you think I should cancel and keep. I subscribe to Investors Business Daily, Barrons, Time and Business Week, Fortune, Kiplinger and Money magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Value Line, Morningstar, Weisenberger, Standard & Poor's, the Economist, Smart Money, Worth, Global Investor, Forbes and my wife subscribes to The New York Times. I have over $1.2 ... [full story]
1351 times read - No comment posted

Nov 09,2007
I talk to investors all the time, and I'm almost always impressed by their ability to focus on the future. People are tapping the opportunities of the financial markets to build wealth for long-term goals. Most investors are pretty diligent about reviewing their portfolios and making adjustments as situations change. But many of us fall short when it comes to taking care of the more mundane aspects of our financial lives, particularly when it comes ... [full story]
1037 times read - No comment posted

Nov 02,2007
When the husband of a friend recently announced his plan to take early retirement, he'd just turned 60 and been offered a good package, his wife told me she was worried. Anna was still working hard and planned to put in several more years before leaving the work force. "Here's my fear," she told me. "I'm going to be immersed in my usual 9-to-5 crush, trying to fit everything in, and Max will be operating ... [full story]
976 times read - No comment posted

Oct 26,2007
Most of us have experienced what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance," the sense of tension that inevitably arises when we're faced with two conflicting choices, or when we behave in a way that might be at odds with what we think is right. You've finished a meal, for example, and your hunger is satisfied; however, you're still tempted when you see the dessert tray rolling down the aisle. For me, at least, I'm going to enjoy ... [full story]
1491 times read - No comment posted

Oct 26,2007
Five Steps to Get You Back on Track The housing market is in shambles and every day the bleak news seems to get worse. With foreclosures at a record high, economists predict the pace won’t slow down for at least another 6 months. Behind these grim statistics are families who are struggling and desperate, trying to figure out how to hang on to their homes and ease their money woes.  If you’re one of those ... [full story]
905 times read - No comment posted

Oct 05,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Way, way back in 1972 my wife and I bought a new home for $105,000, which was a lot of money to us back then. We had a 30-year $85,000 mortgage with a savings and loan at 7 percent and paid it off in 2001 after making 360 payments of $565.51. After our last payment in September of 2001, we had a mortgage-burning party. Our home, which is on the water, is ... [full story]
1573 times read - No comment posted

Oct 05,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me what you know about Packaging Corp., which trades at $26.69 a share. I've looked at the company and it seems to be a value buy with good earnings and a consistent $1 dividend. I'd like to buy 400 shares if you give me the go-ahead. My broker says its looks good and a good friend, who is a CPA, also thinks it looks like a good buy at this ... [full story]
1900 times read - No comment posted

Oct 05,2007
Dear Mr. Berko: While visiting a friend in San Francisco, I was introduced to her friend, who owns a successful art gallery. He is offering me an investment in an art unit. Each art unit costs $45,000 and contains nine paintings by nine different artists. This sophisticated, knowledgeable, sincere and very successful gallery owner passionately believes that each art unit (there are 21 units being sold) has the potential to increase at least tenfold in ... [full story]
1378 times read - No comment posted

Oct 05,2007
As a passionate advocate for financial literacy, I've been a staunch supporter of aggressive, disciplined retirement investing. I've been particularly vocal about the benefits of 401(k) plans (and their cousins, 403(b) and 457 plans), the tax-deferred, payroll-deduction-based retirement accounts sponsored by employers. Why? Because in today's world, most jobs don't offer traditional pensions; the old paradigm of working for a company for most of your adult life and enjoying a reasonable defined benefit retirement package ... [full story]
1456 times read - No comment posted



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