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5 BIG Personal Finance Tips to Save You Money in 2016

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You work hard for your money. You need to make sure your money’s working hard for you. With these simple personal finance tips, you can save more, earn better returns, and make the most of whatever financial situation you find yourself in.

1. Get your credit card debt paid off pronto .
Most people who carry balances on their credit cards don’t realize just how much money they’re losing to interest charges each and every month. Yet with interest rates on many cards topping 20%, if you try to pay down your debt making just minimum payments, it’ll take you decades to break free.

Instead, the simple tip is to use every tactic at your disposal to get rid of those charges. Transferring balances to lower-rate cards can be smart, although you have to watch out for transfer fees. If you can get a better rate on a different type of loan, using it to pay off credit cards can save you plenty — as long as you don’t just charge up your card balances again. If you carry credit card debt, the health of your personal finances depends on your going cold turkey.

2. Learn cost-cutting tricks.
With just about every expense, there are tricks you can learn to reduce the amount you spend. For instance, when you travel, taking advantage of mid-week deals can save you a bundle if you can structure your vacation accordingly. With grocery shopping, waiting to stock up when your store has items on sale beats paying full price regularly. And when you buy things online, doing a quick search for coupon codes and promotional offers can give you big savings with minimal effort.

Tricks like these are too numerous to count, but the Internet makes it easy to find out about them. If you get in the habit of looking every time you make a purchase, you can cut your spending substantially.

3. Don’t accept zero.
Getting interest on your bank accounts has largely become a thing of the past. But don’t let the banks keep your money for free. Even a little interest is better than nothing .

Nationally, a few online banks, including Sallie Mae and Barclays , will still pay you 1% or more on your money. But select local banks may offer you better rates, with some deals in the 2% to 3% as long as you meet conditions like making a minimum number of debit-card payments or signing up for bill-paying services. Given how many people are keeping their hard-earned money in insured bank accounts rather than investing it, even a couple percentage points can make a big difference in your income.

4. Get with the investing program.
Even once you optimize your bank account, though, you can’t afford to be completely risk-free with your personal finances. Getting into the investing game is essential for your long-term success.

The easiest way to get started is with a broker that offers you exchange-traded funds at no commission . With TD AMERITRADE , Vanguard, Schwab , and Fidelity among the many brokers with lineups of commission-free ETFs , you can start with minimum amounts of money and make small contributions on a regular basis. And with low annual fees, you won’t have to worry about Wall Street sabotaging your finances.

5. Prepare for your retirement.
A recent survey showed that a quarter of all baby boomers have absolutely nothing saved for their retirement years. With Social Security facing big financial problems and most employers no longer offering pensions to workers, not having retirement savings of your own is a recipe for disaster.

One smart tip for retirement saving is using tax-favored accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s. By doing so, you’ll get valuable tax breaks that you can use to boost your savings further. Moreover, with many employers pitching in matching contributions for workers who put their own money toward their retirement, you owe it to yourself to grab that free money while you can.

Don’t wait
These personal finance tips aren’t complicated, but they can still save you a bunch of money. That’s welcome news for just about everyone these days.

Once you have your personal finances in order, it’s time to invest smarter. The best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. In our free report, ” 3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich,” we name stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.

Read more: http://community.nasdaq.com/News/2012-11/5-personal-finance-tips-to-save-you-money.aspx?storyid=191945#ixzz2EJ0koNqr

Dow Jones rallies as investors cheer job data, economy

U.S. stocks rallied amid more evidence of a U.S. economic recovery, sending the closely tracked Dow Jones industrial average to one of its best days this year.

Investors put an end to three straight days of losses after new reports showed that the number of people filing for unemployment claims fell last week, while the number of homes under construction rose. The data helped paint a more upbeat picture about the economy that put Wall Street in a buying mood.

The Dow surged 116 points, or nearly 1%, to 12897.57, putting the blue chips within striking distance of Dow 13,000. The index last traded at the psychologically important mark in May 2008.

The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 14.19 points, or 1.06%, to 1357.56; and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite jumped 40.85, or 1.4%, to 2956.36.

European markets had fallen earlier due to an announcement fromMoody’s, the credit rating agency, that it was considering downgrading some of the world’s largest banks.

The unemployment report showed that the number of new unemployment benefit claims last week fell 13,000 from the week before, to 348,000, according to a Thursday report from the Labor Department. That is the lowest number since March 2008 and less than the 365,000 expected by economists polled by Bloomberg. It was another sign of growing strength in the labor market as hiring also has shown gains in recent weeks.

The good news on employment was compounded by continuing signs of a stabilizing residential real estate market. The number of developers breaking ground on new homes in January beat the expectations of forecasters when the Commerce Department reported that the annual rate of new-home starts in January rose 1.5% to 699,000.

The gains in the market were tempered by continuing concerns that the international community will not approve more aid for Greece in meetings next week. In response to the economic problems in Europe, Moody’s put 114 European financial institutions on notice for a possible downgrade. Moody’s said its concern about European banks was due to the “disrupted markets and a deteriorating, uncertain economic outlook” in Europe.

Mortgage reports shine rays of hope for housing

The rate of delinquent home loans is falling as high-risk mortgages from the housing boom are replaced by loans written to the strict standards enforced after the bust.

A Mortgage Bankers Assn. report Thursday said that after seasonal adjustments 7.58% of all residential mortgages were delinquent by at least one payment as of the fourth quarter of 2011.

That was down from 7.99% in the third quarter of 2011 and 8.25% in the fourth quarter of 2010. The trade group said its quarterly survey covers about 88% of home loans.

The Mortgage Bankers Assn. also said the percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions were started had fallen noticeably. But experts expect the rate to increase this year following the end of a 16-month state and federal investigation info faulty foreclosure paperwork.

About 4.4% of all U.S. homes remained in foreclosure proceedings — a rate that trade group economist Jay Brinkmann noted was closer to the all-time high of 4.6% at the end of 2010 than to the longer-term average of 1.2%.

A separate study by credit tracker TransUnion this week showed that California, though still plagued with some of the worst housing woes in the United States, is clearing its huge backlog of troubled mortgages faster than the nation as a whole.

Mortgage settlement is also housing relief package

The $25-billion mortgage settlement between banks and state and federal governments is an effort to patch the housing market.

The landmark $25-billion settlement between major banks and state and federal governments is aimed at doing more than just helping people who lost their homes through improper foreclosures.

How the $25-billion mortgage settlement could affect homeowners

Hundreds of thousands in California stand to benefit directly. What should they expect next?

Hundreds of thousands of California homeowners stand to benefit directly from a landmark $25-billion settlement that federal officials, state attorneys general and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers agreed to on Thursday.

FBI releases file on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

The agency compiled the dossier in 1991, when Jobs was in the running for an appointment to the President’s Export Council under George H.W. Bush.

Questionable moral character, use of illegal drugs, the abandonment of a child and a willingness to distort reality: Welcome to the FBI dossier of Steve Jobs.

On Thursday the agency released a file on Jobs that it had compiled in 1991, when the Apple Inc.co-founder was in the running for an appointment under President George H.W. Bush. Included in the 191-page document are confirmations of Jobs’ dabblings in marijuana and LSD, his strained relationship with a high school girlfriend with whom he had a child out of wedlock and even some scribbled notes from a time he received a bomb threat in 1985.

Much of the information about Jobs’ youth, business dealings and volatile personality have been widely known for years and received fresh attention after a lengthy biography was published after Jobs’ death in October. But in interviewing dozens of friends, ex-friends, neighbors, employees and colleagues, the FBI collected a trove of firsthand opinions of Jobs, one of the most secretive figures in American business.

Though many of his acquaintances agreed that Jobs was a brilliant business man and capable candidate for the post, not all of them praised Jobs equally.

One interviewee, apparently a former colleague at Apple, said that Jobs “will twist the truth in order to achieve whatever goal he has set for himself” and that he was a “deceptive person.”

The person, whose name was redacted from the report along with everyone else’s, went on to say Jobs would make a fine appointee to the President’s Export Council, an committee that advises the president on international trade, as “honesty and integrity are not prerequisites to assume such a position.” (The same person later admitted to the agent that he did not receive any Apple stock, “which would have made him quite wealthy now.”)

One woman said Jobs was a “visionary and charismatic individual who was at the same time shallow and callous to people in his personal relationships” — a trait she ascribed to Jobs’ “narcissism and shallowness.”

More than one interviewee brought up Jobs’ troubled relationship with his high school girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, who was also the mother of his first daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Jobs “basically abandoned [Brennan] and her daughter,” one person said.

However, nearly everyone interviewed agreed that Jobs’ intelligence, boundless energy and familiarity with the technology business would make him an excellent trade advisor.

Two interviewees called Jobs “strong willed, stubborn, hardworking, and driven, which they believe is why he is so successful.”

The report contained some details of a bomb threat against Jobs in 1985, in which someone calling from a pay phone at the San Francisco airport claimed he had placed four bombs in the homes of Jobs and others and demanded $1 million. An investigation did not turn up any bombs and no suspect was located.

A few quirky details of Jobs’ personal life were also buried in the report. He had a 2.65 grade-point average in high school, for instance. And as an adult he “did a great deal of jogging.”

As far as his exercise habits, Jobs himself told agents that he was a member at the New York Athletic Club — the only organization he admitted to being part of.

First-time unemployment claims sink to early-recession levels

The decline in initial jobless claims reflects the slowdown in layoffs at companies as the economy has improved and employers have shown more willingness to keep their workers.

In another sign that the job market is gaining momentum, the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits fell further last week — down to levels last seen in the early months of the recession.

Mortgage settlement good for homeowners, better for banks

The $25-billion settlement puts a dark cloud behind banks and eases investor anxiety. This should bolster their stock prices. It also shields them from some suits stemming from the foreclosure fiasco.

The $25-billion settlement of the foreclosure mess is good for homeowners and good for the housing market.

Earliest tax-filers face a 1-week delay in getting refunds from IRS

Some taxpayers who filed their federal income-tax returns early this year will have to wait a week longer than initially projected to get their refunds. The problem affects taxpayers whose returns were filed before Jan. 26. Taxpayers whose returns were accepted on or after that date won’t be affected, the IRS says.

Beef prices, already near record highs, going up again this year

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Beef prices, already at near-record-high prices, are expected to be driven up for the second year in a row this year because of a limited supply of cattle. There were about 91 million head of cattle in the United States as of Jan. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s down 2 percent from a year ago — and the lowest level since 1952.