Chopping the budget is invigorating, especially when extra money can be seen as a result. However, sometimes it can get a bit too invigorating and lead to some over-pruning. Just like the shrub in your front yard, your budget may be more beautiful to look at if it's pruned regularly but over pruning could kill it. Some things need to be done by professionals.
Despite what some may tell you, it's probably better to let someone else watch over your investments. Unless you're a professional, you don't have time to watch stocks all day and manage your retirement plan efficiently. This is when you risk losing a chunk of cash on a low market day.
On the other hand, don't burst into the local investment firm demanding an agent. Most large banks offer investment counselors and financial advisers. These advisers manage your investments, remind you when certificates need to be renewed, and reassure you when the market dips. They're paid through a percentage of the interest made on your accounts, so they're interested in your profits for the right reasons. When you earn, they earn. When you lose, they lose. Set up a meeting and organize your finances in a way that earns you're the most money.
It looks fun plugging a digital camera into a printer and watching your personal pictures come out. However, it's a financially poor choice. Drug stores, Walmart, and online printers offer prints for as low as $0.09 each. Check the price of your printer's ink. The average customer reported cost is near $0.50 for each print. Add the cost of the time involved and the wear and tear of the printer and you'll soon see that sending out the pictures to print is the better choice by far.
However, some will argue that printing your own pictures is the best choice by far. It's a judgment call. You can perfect your own picture quality much better at home, allowing reds to be real rather than blaring. Yet, if you're printing 60 photos at a shot, you'll appreciate the send out service. The capability of your printer is also a factor; a poor quality print is worthless. Evaluate your decision, but the average consumer should print vacation pictures at a store.
It seems too easy to go to the store, pick up a program, add the information, and produce a legal will. That's because it is too easy. In my experience, a will wasn't necessary if all belongings, including the home and cars, are in joint ownership with someone. A parent can pass a home along to a child by adding the child's name to the deed at least one year before death. However, if a will is called upon in probate court, I've been warned that a do-it-yourself will won't fly through as quickly as one that a lawyer has prepared.
Some advice before going to a lawyer: ask a friend, ask a notary, and ask the lawyer. First, ask a friend or coworker for a referral for a lawyer to draw up your will. You'll get the real feedback on the lawyer's work that way. Then, be sure that the will is notarized. Some lawyers sign it but do not notarize it, requiring you to revisit the lawyer when the will enters probate court. Without that notary seal, at least in my experience, the will is useless and your family will have paperwork to complete after your death. Finally, don't forget to ask the lawyer questions before sitting down. Comparative shop between two referred lawyers at least. Ask their advice for avoiding probate where possible, and ask that they meet your needs and times rather than you meeting theirs.
"A parent can pass a home along to a child by adding the child's name to the deed at least one year before death."
If only we all knew when we're going to die. :-)
My parents created a trust. They consulted with an attorney, and did things that he said weren't necessary, all to make sure things will be as easy on me as possible when their time comes.
It's nice to plan ahead, but sometimes accidents happen, and I think a homemade (from a program or form) will is better than nothing at all.
Also, (something that I have regretfully tried) going to the salon in expensive but cutting ones hair is usually a mistake.
Regarding printing pictures at home. It IS cheaper to have them printed at Walgreens or Wal-Mart, etc. If you want to adjust your prints in photoshop before printing, save the file to a CD and take it in rather than the card. I understand that part of the reason that cards or usb sticks fail is because of plugging them into various ports. I always print my pictures to a CD and they are then "stored."
Pictures: depends what you'r doing, for xmas cards. I use dollar store paper, and not the fanciest resolution, and format the picture to print 4 to a 4x6 print. I can't save the formatting to a cd to do elsewhere. the paper costs me a buck for 80 pics that people are just gonna throw out anyway. The kodak printer ink is tons cheaper than other printers.
For "nice" pics - I've found the walmart kiosk are so overused that they come out crappy anyway - so I use my printer dock and am happy to spend 50 cents a print, still cheaper than film!
Letting someone else handle your investments is a dangerous game. That is how things like Madoff happen. At the very least, you need to know what your money is invested in and how your "adviser"makes their money. If they make money through commissions, they aren't impartial and can be biased toward the investment products that will make them the most money, not you.
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