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    Newell Rubbermaid CEO: Right Time for Jarden Deal



    Newell Rubbermaid Inc, known for its food containers, agreed to buy Sunbeam and Coleman products maker Jarden Corp for more than $15 billion in a deal that will give it more leverage with retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

    The deal announced on Monday comes amid growing pressure for retailers to hold down prices as they compete with online players such as Amazon.com Inc.

    Reuters reported in October that Wal-Mart, which provides nearly 13 percent of Newell Rubbermaid's revenue, was asking suppliers to cut prices.

    The deal, while primarily aimed at accelerating growth, will make it easier for Newell to fend off demands for price cuts, Neil Saunders, chief executive of research firm Conlumino, told Reuters.

    Based on 220.35 million Jarden shares outstanding as of Oct. 30, the deal has a value of $13.22 billion.

    However, Newell Rubbermaid said that on a fully diluted basis the offer was valued at $15.4 billion.

    The combined company, to be called Newell Brands, will have annual sales of $16 billion.

    Newell Brands' revenue from Wal-Mart is expected to be more than 2.6 times Newell Rubbermaid's 2014 revenue from the retailer, the Newell Rubbermaid said in an investor presentation, while revenue from Target Corp stores is expected to be 1.9 times bigger.

    From Amazon, revenue is expected to grow by 1.8 times after the deal closes in the second quarter of 2016.

    The deal -- which gives Newell Rubbermaid ownership of more than 120 Jarden brands, including Yankee Candle, Crock-Pot cookware and class rings maker Jostens Inc -- will also significantly increase its U.S. distribution network.

    PREMIUM DISAPPPOINTS

    Newell Brands will be led by Newell Rubbermaid Chief Executive Michael Polk. Martin Franklin, Jarden's founder and executive chairman, will be on the board.

    Jarden shareholders will receive $21 in cash and 0.862 Newell shares for each share held, implying a $60 per share offer. The offer is at a 24 percent premium to Jarden's closing stock price on Dec. 4, the day before reports emerged that the company was in talks to combine with Newell.

    Jarden's shares were up 1 percent at $53.30 in early afternoon trading, far below the offer price, while Newell's stock was down 10.5 percent at $40.51.

    Analysts attributed the gap between the offer price and Jarden's shares to disappointment in the premium and the exclusion of Franklin from an executive role in the new company.

    Newell Rubbermaid shareholders will own about 55 percent of Newell Brands.

    The companies said they expected to realize cost savings of $500 million in the four years after the transaction closes.

    Goldman Sachs was lead financial adviser to Newell Rubbermaid, while Centerview Partners advised the board.

    Barclays was the lead financial adviser to Jarden, with UBS Investment Bank also advising.

    Jones Day and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett provided legal counsel to Newell Rubbermaid, while Greenberg Traurig LLP and Kane Kessler PC were legal advisers to Jarden.

     

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    AMD6XD Couple Looking at Bills taxes man; 30-40; year; old; 40-50; year; old; woman; business; food; people; computer; technolog
    Alamy


    By Tim Lemke

    After several years of sluggish growth, it appears that the economy is getting better. Unemployment has dropped. The stock market has been setting record highs. But are you poised to take full advantage of the rebound? (See also: 8 Ways Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Wallet)

    Here are eight ways to position yourself for the best result once the economy kicks into high gear.


    1. Pay Off Debt


    If the economy is getting better and you find yourself earning more, getting rid of debt should be your first priority. The last thing you want is to miss out on an economic boom because you're handcuffed by loans and credit card bills, so pay that stuff off. And do it fast, because a good economy often comes with higher interest rates. So if you have debt, it's best to rid yourself of it before it gets pricier to pay down later.


    2. Spend Less


    The flipside of higher interest rates is that you'll be making more on any money you have in your bank account. So there's an incentive to save now. What's more, you may be earning more in general during strong economic times, so you have the double whammy of stashing more money into those saving and retirement accounts, plus a higher return.


    3. Pump Those Retirement Accounts


    There's never a truly bad time to begin investing, especially if you have a long savings window. So get started now, before stock prices get too out of hand. Consider upping your 401(k) contribution. And if you have an IRA, you have until April 15 to make contributions that count toward 2014's tax bill.


    4. Lock In Whatever Prices You Can


    A good economy often comes with some inflation. So it might make sense to explore ways to secure long-term price stability on items or services you use frequently. Locking in a price on a cable or mobile phone bill might make sense, and you may even be able to lock in prices on electricity and other utilities.


    5. Build Up Your Emergency Fund


    If you are fortunate enough to have some extra money come your way, consider using it to build up your savings to protect yourself. Opinions vary on how much liquid cash you should have socked away, but at least three months of salary is a good rule of thumb.


    6. Consider Buying That House


    If interest rates do go up, mortgages could get pricier. So it may be wise to try and purchase a home now while rates are still historically low. If you've been on the fence about when to buy, now may be the time.


    7. Ask for That Raise


    When the economy was slow, employers were loath to give out pay raises. "Times are tough, we've got to tighten belts," was the common response. Now, with things improving, it's harder for your boss to make the argument that you're not worth a bump in pay. If your organization has done well financially and you feel you've played a role in that, go ahead and ask for that increase.


    8. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile


    If things are getting better, employers may starting looking for new hires. Take advantage of the situation by updating your online presence and doing what's necessary to look good to recruiters. If you stopped working during the downturn, maybe its time to get back into the workforce. If you hate your job, maybe now is when you find a better one. And if you like your job, it never hurts to build up your network and see what else is out there.


    Are you ready for a better economy? How do you plan to profit from it?

     

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    Stocks That Do Well When Rates Rise



    U.S. stocks rallied broadly on Tuesday, led by energy and financial shares ahead of Wednesday's interest rate decision from the Federal Reserve.

    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 156.67 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,525.17, the S&P 500 gained 21.45 points, or 1.06 percent, to 2,043.39 and the Nasdaq Composite added 43.13 points, or 0.87 percent, to 4,995.36.

     

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    Space
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    By ANDREA SHALAL

    The U.S. aerospace industry is expected to post a record trade surplus in 2015, buoyed by strong demand for U.S. commercial airplanes and weapons, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said on Tuesday.

    But the AIA, the sector's largest trade group, warned there were signs of an early slowdown in orders and monthly backlog. New orders for aerospace products have fallen 32 percent to $210.3 billion in the nine months ended September 2015 from a year earlier.

    AIA Chief Executive Officer David Melcher told reporters the U.S. aerospace trade balance grew by $19 billion over the past five years to reach a record $62 billion in 2014, and was on track to top the record this year.

    AIA said the sector exported $92 billion worth of manufactured goods in the first nine months of 2015, an increase of 5.8 percent from the same period of 2014. The total included $81.3 billion in civil aircraft, engines, parts and space systems, and $10.7 billion in military aerospace systems.

    Imports also grew by 2.7 percent in the first three quarters of 2015 to $43.6 billion.

    In remarks prepared for the group's annual year-end luncheon, Melcher lauded increased efforts by the U.S. Commerce Department and other government officials to promote U.S. aerospace and weapons trade, but said more was needed.

    Melcher said the AIA had fought hard to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides credit financing for U.S. aircraft and satellite exports among other things.

    Congress reauthorized the bank for four years in December after a five-month shutdown that cost U.S. exporters hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and thousands of lost jobs, according to the export-import bank's chairman..

    Melcher said the AIA was now pressing Congress and the White House to ensure the trade bank could approve loans larger than $10 million. It cannot make larger loans until the Senate approves a nominee for at least one of three vacant board seats.

    The group also remained concerned about U.S. military spending cuts in fiscal 2017 that it said are expected to disproportionately hit procurement and research and development.

    Melcher decried "a serious mismatch" between the current national security threat and the U.S. military budget, noting that mandatory budget cuts passed in 2011 came before the rise of the Islamic State militant group, Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and tensions with China over the South China Sea.

    Watch more coverage:

    Does the ISS Have a Future Without Nasa?

     

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    Two women outdoors embracing and smiling

    By

    Few milestones in life are as laden with dreams and fantasies as the day when a person retires. Will it be a slow downshift into a life of travel and time with grandchildren? A chance for gradually increasing immersion in a lifelong hobby? Perhaps it will be all of the above.

    Or perhaps future retirees' experience will be more in line with the reality of retirement as depicted in a new report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The study found that two-thirds of workers aged 50 or older expect to work past 65, at least part time, but the median age at which current retirees left the workforce was 62.

    Not only that, two-thirds of those who did leave the workforce did so because of work-related reasons like job loss, a reorganization, or a buyout. And only 5 percent of retirees actually are working in retirement.

    "So many workers want to work longer, or transition into retirement, yet very few say their current employers have practices in place to facilitate this," said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center. Many, she said, "are ill prepared for life's unforeseen circumstances."

    Many 50-somethings have only limited retirement nest eggs: the center found just $135,000 in median savings in retirement accounts for that age cohort. That may explain why their worries about retirement tend to relate to outliving their savings. They are also nervous about not being able to support their families or maintain access to reasonably priced health care.

    Retirees tend to be less worried about running out of money and more concerned about experiencing cognitive decline and being unable to find meaningful ways to spend their time, the study found.

    But a sizable minority of both groups is worried about paying off debt, with 18 percent of workers aged 50 or older and 13 percent of retirees saying that paying down credit card or consumer debt is a key priority.

    "Working longer and retiring at an older age seems like a sensible option for workers to earn money and bridge savings shortfalls," the report concluded, but "many retirees retired sooner than expected, before age 65, for employment-related reasons, including job loss, reorganizations and others. The variables in the equation simply don't add up."

    Millennials, by contrast, appear to be doing more to prepare for retirement. Some 68 percent are currently saving for retirement, according to a recent study by the Insured Retirement Institute and the Center for Generational Kinetics. That is an improvement on the 64 percent of workers aged 50 or older who told the Transamerica Center surveyors they were doing so.

    Then again, only 29 percent of millennials are actually planning for retirement, the IRI survey found, and 15 percent listed winning the lottery as an element of their retirement strategy. In addition, more than half of millennials think they will never retire or will not be able to retire when they want to.

    Millennials also demonstrated a skewed perception of the cost of living in retirement. Some 70 percent thought they would spend less than $36,000 per year, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual spending by people aged 65 to 74 in 2013 averaged $46,757.

    The millennial generation "is largely not on track to attain financial security in retirement," the IRI researchers concluded.

    One reason for boomers' and millennials' skewed view of retirement finances may be their shifting financial circumstances. Boomers in their 50s are more likely than current retirees to have little or nothing in the way of pension income, for example. Roughly three-fourths of the boomers in the Transamerica Center survey said they wished they had saved more consistently and been more knowledgeable, since for them, it will matter more.

    As for millennials, many are contending with heavy student debt burdens. The Institute for College Access and Success found that among the 69 percent of students who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges with debt in 2014, the average amount owed was $28,950.

    There are reforms in the works to improve retirement security in the future. For example, the Treasury Department in November announced the creation of the myRA, a type of retirement account that Collinson believes could prove quite helpful to part-time workers and people just starting out in the workforce. In addition, a number of states are considering or implementing state-based retirement plans to help those without retirement programs at work put money away.

    Still, for now the disconnect between boomers' hopes for remaining in the workforce and the age when retirees step out is cause for alarm, Collinson said.

    "The red warning lights are flashing. We are facing major issues up ahead and the sooner we can recognize them and address them, the better positioned we are societally to solve them."

     

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    Woman paying bills at laptop talking on telephone
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    By

    Think you'll never get out of debt? You're not alone.

    A new CreditCards.com survey released Wednesday found that 21 percent of Americans believe they will never be able to pay off their debt. That's up slightly from 18 percent the previous year and comes even as the job market shows signs of improving.

    The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs last month and the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent.
    Still, people are weary about their job security, said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at CreditCards.com. "This shows there is a real debt problem in America and it's not improving very much."

    The survey also found that the number of people who are debt free increased to 22 percent this year from 14 percent the year earlier. In fact, Schulz said that, surprisingly, individuals making up to $30,000 a year are the most likely to say they are free of debt.

    Those making at least $75,000 per year are the least likely to be free of debt, the survey said. However, they are also the ones most confident in their ability to pay off that debt, while those making less money are more likely to feel trapped by it. People with no children were also more likely to say they'll never get out of debt than parents.

    Among those in debt, about half, or 48 percent, said they'll remain that way into their 60s.

    "Even [for] people who don't see themselves getting out of debt, it's important not to be paralyzed by hopelessness," he said. Schulz advised people in debt to take certain small steps toward paying it down, including making a budget and asking for lower interest rates on credit cards or transferring to a zero-percent interest card.

    Millennials most optimistic about debt?

    The study also found that - despite their high-levels of debt - millennials are the most optimistic about paying it down, with only 11 percent saying they will never live debt free.

    "It kind of speaks to the optimism of youth," Schulz said.

    Schulz said he believes more people will have a better outlook regarding debt as their perception of the economy improves.

    The survey polled 1,004 adults living in the U.S. and was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from Nov. 19 until Nov. 22 with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

     

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    Fed Raises Interest Rate 1/4 Point

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade on Wednesday, signaling faith that the U.S. economy had largely overcome the wounds of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

    READ MORE: Here's how the Fed's rate decision affects mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards

    The U.S. central bank's policy-setting committee raised the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent, ending a lengthy debate about whether the economy was strong enough to withstand higher borrowing costs.

    "With the economy performing well and expected to continue to do so, the committee judges that a modest increase in the federal funds rate is appropriate," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference after the rate decision was announced. "The economic recovery has clearly come a long way."

    Data curated by FindTheCompany

    The Fed's policy statement noted the "considerable improvement" in the U.S. labor market, where the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent, and said policymakers are "reasonably confident" inflation will rise over the medium term to the Fed's 2 percent objective.

    The central bank made clear the rate hike was a tentative beginning to a "gradual" tightening cycle, and that in deciding its next move it would put a premium on monitoring inflation, which remains mired below target.

    "The process is likely to proceed gradually," Yellen said, a hint that further hikes will be slow in coming.

    Watch more below:

    What the Fed Rate Hike Means for Your Money


    She added that policymakers were hoping for a slow rise in rates but one that will keep the Fed ahead of the curve as the economic recovery continues. "To keep the economy moving along the growth path it is on ... we would like to avoid a situation where we have left so much (monetary) accommodation in place for so long we have to tighten abruptly."

    Data curated by FindTheCompany

    New economic projections from Fed policymakers were largely unchanged from September, with unemployment anticipated to fall to 4.7 percent next year and economic growth hitting 2.4 percent.

    The Fed statement and its promise of a gradual path represented a compromise between policymakers who have been ready to raise rates for months and those who feel the economy is still at risk from weak inflation and slow global growth.

    Watch more coverage below:

    Yellen: Prudent to Raise Early, Gradually


    "The Fed is going out of its way to assure markets that, by embarking on a 'gradual' path, this will not be your traditional interest rate cycle," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz.

    Fed officials said they were confident the situation was ripe for them to make a historic turn in policy without much disruption to financial markets, which had expected the hike this week.

    U.S. stocks rallied on the news, in part because the Fed made clear it would proceed slowly with further tightening. Yields on U.S. Treasuries rose, while the dollar was largely unchanged against a basket of currencies. Oil prices fell sharply before paring losses.

    See more of the Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington:

    POLICY STILL ACCOMMODATIVE

    Yellen on Wednesday said the Fed had no desire to curb consumers from spending or businesses from investing. She emphasized that interest rates remained low even after the rate hike, near levels economists regard as appropriate for a recession.

    "Policy remains accommodative," Yellen said. "The U.S. economy has shown considerable strength. Domestic spending has continued to hold up."

    Watch more coverage below:

    Yellen: Eyeing the Longer Term Economic Outlook


    Fed policymakers' median projected target interest rate for 2016 remained 1.375 percent, implying four quarter-point hikes next year. Based on short-term interest rate futures markets, traders expect the next rate hike in April.

    A Dec. 9 Reuters poll showed economists forecasting the federal funds rate to be 1.0 percent to 1.25 percent by the end of 2016 and 2.25 percent by the end of 2017.

    Watch more coverage below:

    What Happens to the Dollar After Fed Rate Hike?

    The rate hike sets off an immediate test of new financial tools designed by the New York Fed for just this occasion, as well as a likely reshuffling of global capital as the reality of rising U.S. rates sets in.

    To edge the target rate from its current near-zero level to between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent, the Fed said it would set the interest it pays banks on excess reserves at 0.50 percent, and would offer up to $2 trillion in reverse repurchase agreements, an aggressive figure that shows its resolve to pull rates higher.

    The impact on business and household borrowing costs is unclear. One of the issues policymakers will watch closely in coming days is how long-term mortgage rates, consumer loans and other forms of credit react to the rate hike.

    Watch more coverage:

    Fed More Dovish Than Expected: Pro

     

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    Markets React to Fed Decision to Hike


    U.S. stocks trimmed gains but remained in positive territory in afternoon trading on Wednesday, half an hour ahead of a widely anticipated interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

    READ MORE: Fed Raises Interest Rates, Cites Ongoing US Economic Recovery

    An increase in the Fed's benchmark rate, from near zero, would be the first since June 29, 2006. Traders see an 81.4 percent chance of a rate hike, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

    The U.S. central bank is expected to raise rates by a token 25 basis points, when it announces the outcome of its policy meeting at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT). Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a news conference by at 2:30 p.m. ET.

    Data curated by FindTheCompany


    The Fed is expected to move gradually on subsequent rate hikes after the initial liftoff, according to a Reuters poll. That will help soothe jittery markets, which have been roiled recently by a rout in crude oil prices and a fall in the Chinese yuan.

    The rate hike will be a highly symbolic move, coming exactly seven years to the day since the Fed cut rates to near zero as the financial crisis engulfed the world.

    Watch more coverage:

    Yellen: Prudent to Raise Early, Gradually


    Since then, the U.S. stock market has staged a spectacular bull-run, with the S&P 500 index .SPX .INX more than doubling and the Nasdaq composite index briefly breaching its dotcom boom highs.

    "I think we can use a great Star Wars analogy and say that 'the force' will awaken and the Fed will raise that quarter percent today," said Jeff Carbone, managing partner of Cornerstone Financial Partners.

    "Now we've got to look at how Janet Yellen raises rates. Is it going to be too fast, or too slow or just right?"

    At 13:30 p.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 37.41 points, or 0.21 percent, at 17,562.32, the S&P 500 was up 7.3 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,050.71 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 12.14 points, or 0.24 percent, at 5,007.49.

    Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the utilities index's 1.87 percent rise leading the advancers.

    Energy and material stocks were down as crude oil prices fell on fresh evidence of growing global oversupply.

    DuPont's 2.7 percent fall weighed the most on the Dow. Oil majors Chevron and Exxon were down about 1 percent.


    Apple was down 1.3 percent at $109.05 as Bank of America Merrill Lynch joined a growing Wall Street chorus, scaling down expectations for iPhone sales.


    Higher interest rates make loans more expensive, crimping profit margins. Banks, however, will benefit.

    Goldman Sachs was up 0.6 percent, while JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup were up 0.4 percent.

    The Fed has said it would raise rates when it saw a sustained recovery in the economy. While the unemployment rate has fallen to multi-year lows, inflation remains stuck below the Fed's 2 percent target.

    "We expect the start of policy normalization to serve as a catalyst for normalization of the investment environment," said Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist at Jones Trading.

    Watch more coverage:

    Yellen: Eyeing the Longer Term Economic Outlook


    The prolonged period of extremely accommodative monetary policy has distorted investment objectives, he said in a note.

    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,077 to 953. On the Nasdaq, 1,699 issues rose and 1,063 fell.

    The S&P 500 index showed nine new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and 75 new lows.

    Watch more coverage:

    The Confluence of Factors the Fed Considers

     

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    Save With Dollar-Store Holiday Items
    The holidays are here, but you don't have to spend a lot on gifts and decorations. Shopping at the dollar store can help you save big on holiday essentials.

    When it comes to Christmas cards, the dollar store is key. Shopping for greeting cards at the supermarket or pharmacy will cost you $5 or more for a measly few cards, but, if you shop at the dollar store, you can get more than 20 cards for a fraction of the price.

    As for wrapping paper, you can typically find $1 rolls at the dollar store, while at big retail stores you might be paying almost three times as much. Wrapping paper is going to get ripped up and thrown out so why not pass the savings along to the gifts instead?

    Finally, let's talk decorations. At the dollar store, you can find a 24-pack of Christmas ornaments, which is three times cheaper than other stores. Beyond decorating the tree, you can get a beautiful bow for your wreath for only $1 -- that's four times cheaper than what you would spend at big box stores.

    This season, you can easily spread cheer without spending big bucks. Give these dollar store deals a try and see the savings for yourself.

    View Poll

     

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    Music Adele Sales
    AP


    By Tim Lemke

    Adele is the hottest thing in music these days, as her new album 25 is setting all kinds of sales records and receiving ubiquitous radio airplay.

    The British songstress has some amazing pipes, but there's some evidence that she's also pretty savvy with her funds, and can teach us a thing or two about money management. (See also: The 3 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey)

    We may not become multi-millionaires living in large castles in the English countryside, but following the singer's financial lead could mean extra dollars in our wallets. Here are eight financial lessons we can learn from Adele.

    1. Know Your Worth



    When Adele released her latest album, 25, she refused to allow it to appear on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. That's because she had an instinct that people would be willing to pay for the full album itself. And she was right, as it recorded 3.4 million sales in the first week alone.

    2. Own What You Create



    Adele is wealthy not only because she sells a lot of albums and concert tickets, but because she gets other revenue from the ownership of her music and lyrics. In fact, her company, Melted Stone, has a publishing arm that pulled in more than $7.8 million in 2014.

    3. Use an Old Phone



    No fancy iPhone for Adele, it seems -- at least not if her music videos are any indication. In the video to her hit single "Hello," Adele is seen talking into a flip phone. A flip phone! It's unclear from what antique store she bought the phone, but she's probably not concerned about overages on her data plan. While Adele may or may not have a more updated phone in real life, the premise is still valid -- don't buy new technologies you don't actually need.

    4. Shop at Thrift Stores



    British newspaper The Sun reported that Adele isn't keen on shopping at fancy stores, despite her vast wealth. She's been known to frequent thrift stores near her home in the English countryside. "Adele is like any normal girl -- she loves a bargain," a source told The Sun.

    5. Dress Simply and Flexibly



    There's no doubt that Adele will be pushed to set some fashion trends, but she seems most content keeping things basic, especially during performances. The singer is most often seen in simple black dresses, and even the music video for the hit song "Hello" shows her in versatile items like a checked coat, plaid shirt, and printed scarves. "Not only are Adele's vocals in the video beautifully powerful but her fashion choices are attainable," the website Mashable reported.

    6. Avoid Crazy Lifestyle Inflation



    Okay, so she moved into an $8.5 million mansion. That's a big step up. But Adele claims that she isn't suddenly spending extravagantly on luxury items. She told the Daily Mail that she did begin shopping at a higher-end online grocer, but only got a flat-screen television not long ago. "That's probably the biggest change, honestly," she told the newspaper. "That's about it, really. I got a plasma [television]. I used to have that big thick one up until recently."

    7. Find a Good Formula and Stick With It



    Adele has achieved great success by sticking with what has worked for her: singing big, powerful ballads about love and loss. She does it better than anyone else, so why mess with a good thing? This approach can be applied to investing, where it's often best to buy stocks and mutual funds that have a good track record of success and simply letting them do their thing.

    8. Take Care of Your Health



    People don't always think of health as a personal finance decision, but it is. It's hard to work and earn money if you are injured or ill, and ignoring seemingly minor health issues can lead to big, expensive procedures later. Adele underwent surgery on her vocal cords in 2012, and while the ordeal put her on the shelf for a while, it preserved her voice and allowed her to continue her record-breaking career.

    See more of Adele through the years:

     

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    Throw a No-Spend Holiday Party
    It's easy to throw a great holiday bash without spending a lot of cash? Here's how.

    Something as simple as a homemade cider and holiday cookie party can help you save big. Just bake an extra batch of cookies and leave them unfrosted. Then, set up a cookie decorating station with tubes of icing, and bowls of sprinkles.

    This low cost gathering is just one creative way to save. If you want to take your dessert decorating a step further, host a high-concept Gingerbread House Party. Have your guests bring things like candy canes and chocolate morsels and have fun getting crafty on a budget.

    Remember: throwing a creative holiday dessert party can lead to some very sweet savings.

    View Poll

     

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    Young woman drinking coffee and using her smart phone
    Getty

    By Amanda Dixon

    Now that school is out for the holidays, you're probably looking forward to a few weeks of relaxation. Besides travelling and spending quality time with your family, you likely have nothing planned beyond sleeping in and catching up on your favorite shows. While you certainly deserve a break, it's a good idea to maximize your free time by making some smart financial moves.

    1. Fill out the FAFSA



    Even if your bill for the spring semester has been paid in full, it doesn't hurt to start thinking about financial aid for next year. If you're planning to apply for additional loans, work-study programs or federal grants, you'll need to fill out the FAFSA form again. Many states don't require students to submit their forms until March or June, but it's a good idea to avoid waiting until the last minute.

    Here's why: In some cases, financial aid is available on a first come, first served basis. So if you wait until the last minute, you might miss out on your chance to receive a Pell Grant, for example.

    When the new FAFSA form comes out in October 2016, students will be able to turn in their personal information in the fall. But until then, submitting your FAFSA in early January will give you priority access to the financial assistance you need.

    2. Order Your Textbooks



    While you're enjoying your winter break, textbooks are probably the least of your concerns. But the sooner you place your orders, the less you'll spend on them.

    College students who wait until classes begin to buy their books often have to settle for the ones on the shelves of their campus bookstores. And those textbooks typically cost more than the same ones purchased on amazon.com or rented from other websites. If you're tired of wasting all of your money on textbooks, comparing prices in December, buying some used books and renting the rest can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

    3. Look for Scholarships and Grants



    If you're worried that it'll take you years to pay off your student loans and your school hasn't offered you enough financial aid, you can try using outside awards to make up for the funding gap. Completing applications takes time and spending your entire break hunched over a laptop doesn't sound fun. If you're serious about reducing your financial burden, however, try to carve out some time to search for scholarships and grants.

    Related Article: 4 Steps to Getting More Financial Aid

    4. Pay for a Couple of Coffee Dates



    All students must one day join the workforce and networking is an integral part of job hunting. Instead of using most of the money in your bank account to pay for alcohol (assuming you're of age!) or unhealthy food, you could use it to buy coffee for someone you connected with at an event or on LinkedIn. Treating a new contact to coffee and conducting an informational interview are great ways to learn more about the field you're interested in.

    5. Lock Down Paid Internships



    Sick of interning for free? Paid internships are usually pretty competitive and in some industries, they're very rare. If you're set on getting a summer internship that'll compensate you for your work, it's best to begin looking for one after finals have ended. Keep in mind though that some companies start recruiting candidates even earlier than that.

    6. Review Your Budget or Create One



    If you've already set up a budget, you're light years ahead of many of your peers. Going through it over your winter break can give you an idea of how well you managed your money during the year. Based on your analysis, you might conclude that you could stand to save more or get a part-time job.

    Students who don't have a budget at all might want to consider creating one. Your budget doesn't have to be ultra-complicated, but having some sort of guideline in place and tracking your spending can give you a sense of where your money is going.

    Calculate the Cost of College

    7. Take Advantage of Student Discounts



    As you finish up your last-minute holiday shopping and meet up with old friends, you might as well make the most of the discounts that businesses extend to college students. Presenting your student ID at certain movie theaters, stores and restaurants can cut as much as 15% or more off the final price you pay.

    The Bottom Line



    You might plan to spend the majority of your winter break in front of the television or under the covers. But it's best to get your finances under control while you're not overwhelmed with projects and papers.

     

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    Business Tips from Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran

    Entrepreneurs who make it onto a "Shark Tank" episode have the opportunity to introduce their company to a viewing audience of seven million potential customers.

    The companies that land a deal with one or more of the show's investors then have the chance to scale and, in some cases, become a nationally recognized brand.

    We looked through old episodes and asked the Sharks themselves about their most successful deals. Read on to learn about the biggest "Shark Tank" success stories so far.

    Scrub Daddy

    scrub daddy

    Scrub Daddy/Facebook

    A sponge company has far and away become the biggest "Shark Tank" success story. Over the past three years, Scrub Daddy has brought in a total of $75 million in revenue, according to investor Lori Greiner.

    Greiner made a deal with its founder and CEO Aaron Krause in Season 4 for $200,000 in exchange for 20% equity. At that point, Krause had struggled to reach $100,000 in sales over 18 months, but Greiner saw great potential in the company's signature offering, a proprietary smiley-faced sponge that was more durable, hygienic, and effective than a traditional one.

    She helped Krause expand his product line and brought them onto QVC and stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, where they have become bestsellers.

    Tipsy Elves

    Tipsy Elves

    When Robert Herjavec invested $100,000 for 10% of Evan Mendelsohn and Nick Morton's ugly Christmas sweater company in Season 4, it could seem to viewers that he was betting on a fleeting fad. It turned out, though, to be his most profitable "Shark Tank" investment, he told Business Insider.

    To stay ahead of trends, Herjavec helped make Tipsy Elves a year-round novelty apparel company that can capitalize off multiple holidays and college football season.

    Before its 2013 "Shark Tank" appearance, Tipsy Elves made $900,000 in annual revenue; last year it brought in around $8 million, and this year it's on track to make $15 million.

    Breathometer

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    In Season 5, Charles Yim got a five-Shark deal for Breathometer, a portable breathalyzer that works with a smartphone. Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Daymond John, Herjavec, and Greiner got in on a $650,000 deal for 30% of the company.

    Since his "Shark Tank" appearance, Yim secured an additional $6.5 million in funding, partnered with the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, and developed a more accurate and more portable main product in addition to a device that tracks oral health and hydration levels.

    Yim told Inc. Breathometer is expected to end 2015 with $20 million in sales, double last year's number.

    Bubba's-Q Boneless Ribs

    Shark Tank

    Al "Bubba" Baker, 1978 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, secured a deal with John in Season 5 for $300,000 in exchange for 30% equity in and licensing rights to his company, Bubba's-Q Boneless Ribs.

    John told Business Insider that as someone who built a career in fashion, he never expected that his most profitable investment would be in a rib business.

    John helped Baker secure a deal with a large-scale food processing plant and said he thinks he can soon get Bubba's-Q to become a national brand with $200 million in lifetime sales.

    Grace and Lace

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    In Season 5, Barbara Corcoran invested $175,000 for 10% of husband-and-wife duo Melissa and Rick Hinnant's fashion company Grace and Lace. Corcoran told Business Insider that it's her most profitable "Shark Tank" investment.

    Before their appearance, the Hinnants brought in about $1 million in sales. They are now expecting $6.5 million this year, a boost helped by an appearance in Cosmopolitan magazine.

    As the company has grown, its philanthropic mission has as well, and since appearing on the show it has used profits to open two orphanages in India, housing a total of 100 kids.

    Ten Thirty One Productions

    Ten Thirty One Productions

    In Season 5, Cuban decided to put up $2 million for 20% of Melissa Carbone's live horror entertainment company Ten Thirty One Productions.

    Last year the company brought in $3 million in revenue, and although he did not disclose an exact number, Cuban told us it is making at least half a million dollars in annual profit.

    Ten Thirty One had another successful Halloween season this year in its birthplace of Los Angeles, but struggled in its expansion to New York City due to a lack of preparation for storm conditions. Carbone said it was a stressful but valuable learning experience, and she looks forward to expanding to Cuban's hometown, Dallas, next year.

    Wicked Good Cupcakes

    Wicked Good Cupcakes

    Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie are a mother-daughter duo from Boston with a company that makes cupcakes in a jar. In Season 4, they made a deal with O'Leary in which he invested $75,000 for royalties instead of equity. He made $1 from every cupcake sold until he made his money back, and then began receiving 50 cents per cupcake sold.

    Since its appearance on the show, Wicked Good Cupcakes has expanded to a new production facility and a couple of new locations.

    O'Leary said it's been his most profitable investment of the show, and since Noonan and Vilagie appeared, they've gone from around $7,000 in monthly sales to $400,000 (or about $4.8 million annually).

    Red Dress Boutique

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Cuban and Herjavec split a $1.2 million investment for 10% equity in Diana and Josh Harbour's online women's fashion retailer The Red Dress Boutique in Season 6, with Cuban taking the lead advisory role.

    In the week following their television appearance, the husband-and-wife team brought in $1 million in sales, but also couldn't keep up with demand. Cuban helped them with infrastructure issues, and last year they brought in $14 million in revenue.

    Cuban said it's making at least half a million dollars in annual profit.

    Bombas

    Bombas

    In Season 6, Bombas cofounders gave John a 17.5% stake in their company for $200,000. It is an online-only athletic sock company that donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair sold.

    Bombas' founders told radio host Jason Bax that they sold $400,000 of socks in the four days after their television appearance and ended 2014 with $2 million in sales.

    John said it is one of his most profitable investments.

    Simple Sugars

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Lani Lazzari was just 18 years old when she entered the tank in Season 4 to pitch her skincare company Simple Sugars. She ended up making a deal with Cuban for $100,000 in return for 33% equity.

    Within just 24 hours of her episode's premiere, Lazzari's sales jumped to $220,000 from $50,000, and she hit $1 million six weeks later. Today Simple Sugars products are in more than 700 retail locations and ship internationally.

    Last year the company brought in more than $3 million in revenue, and Cuban said it's one of his most profitable investments from the show.

    GrooveBook

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Husband-and-wife team Brian and Julie Whiteman came into the tank in Season 3 to present GrooveBook, a digital photo subscription service. For $2.99 a month, users get a bound book of high-resolution photos they took with their smartphones. The founders made a deal with Cuban and O'Leary for $150,000 in exchange for 80% of licensing profits, with O'Leary taking the lead advisory role.

    Not only did the Whitemans gain 50,000 subscribers shortly after the premiere of their episode, but last November, the publicly traded company Shutterfly bought GrooveBook for $14.5 million.

    Cousins Maine Lobster

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Cousins Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis shipped lobster from their home state of Maine to their new home in California and started a high-end food truck named Cousins Maine Lobster, which became known for its lobster rolls. The cousins made a deal with Corcoran for $55,000 in exchange for 15% of their company in Season 4.

    Shortly after their episode premiered, the company hit $700,000 in sales. Last year they brought in $8 million in revenue, according to Entrepreneur.

    Bottle Breacher

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Former Navy SEAL Eli Crane and his wife and business partner Jen made a deal with Cuban and O'Leary for $150,000 in exchange for a 20% stake in Bottle Breacher, a company staffed by military veterans who turn dummy .50 caliber bullets into stylized bottle openers.

    O'Leary has taken the lead brand ambassador role and said it's one of his most profitable investments. It's continued to grow to meet increasing demand, and has made more than $2.5 million in sales this year.

    Lumio

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Herjavec invested $350,000 for 10% of Max Gunawan's foldable, magnetic lamp company Lumio in Season 6 after calling him "possibly the best entrepreneur" he had seen so far on the show.

    Last year Lumio made $3 million in sales, hitting that mark again this past June, he told Forbes. He explained that his growth is healthy and that he will continue to make distribution deals with stores that appeal to a high-end, artistic audience.

    ReadeRest

    "Shark Tank"/ABC

    Rick Hopper essentially handed the reigns of ReadeRest over to Greiner when he agreed to a $150,000 investment in exchange for 65% of the company in Season 3, but it turned his little one-man show into a huge success.

    The product, a magnetic clip that holds eyeglasses in place on a shirt, regularly sells out on QVC. Last year, Hopper said that he's made over $8 million in total sales since his "Shark Tank" appearance.

     

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    Tax Time spelled out on a calculator.
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    By Lisa Greene-Lewis

    With the holidays around the corner, most of us are focused on decking the halls or charting out our New Year's resolutions. But the end of the year is also the ideal time to take actions that could lower your tax bill.

    Here are 10 quick and easy tips you should make before the end of the year to increase your tax refund when you file next year.

    1. Gather forms and receipts.


    It may seem a little early, but gathering receipts for tax deductible expenses and sources of income for the past year will keep you organized and ensure you don't forget anything when you sit down to do your taxes.


    2. Defer bonuses.


    All of your hard work paid off this year, and you are expecting a year-end bonus, but this extra money in your pocket may bump you up to a higher tax bracket and increase your tax liability. If you can hold off on receiving that extra income this year, see if your employer will pay your bonus in January. You will still receive it close to year-end, but you won't have to pay taxes on it when you file your 2015 taxes.


    3. Donate to charity.


    The holidays are a great time to get organized for the new year and clean out clothes and household goods while giving to those in need. You can help someone in need and reap benefits of a tax deduction for donations to a qualified charitable organization by Dec. 31. Even if you make a donation by credit card, you do not have to pay it off in 2015 to receive the tax deduction. Don't forget that you can deduct your mileage (14 cents for every mile) driven to do charitable service if you volunteer at a qualified charitable organization.


    4. Take a class.


    If you take a course to advance your career you may not only see a boost in your salary, but you may also boost your tax refund. Paying for next quarter's tuition by Dec. 31 may give you a valuable tax credit up to $2,000 with the Lifetime Learning Credit.


    5. Maximize your retirement.


    Another great way to reduce your taxable income and build your nest egg is to make a contribution to your retirement savings account. Whether you contribute to a 401(k) or a traditional IRA, you can take a dollar for dollar deduction in your income and also save for the future. The 2015 contribution limit for 401(k)s is $18,000 (or $24,000 if over age 50) and $5,500 (or $6,500 if over age 50) for a traditional IRA. The contribution deadline for 401(k)s is Dec. 31, but you have until April 18, 2016 to put money in your IRA.


    6. Take the saver's credit.


    The saver's credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, is a special tax break available for low- to moderate-income earners who contribute to their retirement plans. The credit is up to $1,000 ($2,000 if you're married filing jointly), and you can claim it in addition to your tax deductions for a traditional 401(k) or IRA contribution.


    7. Spend your FSA.


    If you have a flexible spending account and you have money left, now is the time to take care of those doctor's visits you've been putting off. If you have unused money in your FSA account on Dec. 31, you may only be able to carry over up to $500 into your 2016 FSA. Depending on your plan, there may be a grace period to use your funds in the beginning of next year.


    8. Offset investment gains.


    If you have been holding on to losing stocks, you can recognize your losses and use them to offset investment winners. In order to take advantage of this, you will need to sell the losing investments and offset your losses against your gains. If your losses exceed your gains, you can apply $3,000 of your loss against your regular income. Any extra will then be passed onto the next tax year.


    9. Estimate your household income for health insurance.


    Are you applying for a subsidy or discounted insurance in the health insurance marketplace this open enrollment season? If so, you will have to project your 2016 household income and family size when you apply. Start looking into any changes that may take place in 2016 (growing your family, job promotion, heading into retirement, etc.). These changes may affect the amount of the subsidy you are given to help you pay for insurance.


    10. Increase your advanced premium tax credit.


    If you received assistance for health insurance in the form of an advanced premium tax credit, one smart move you can make is to lower your adjustable gross income by contributing to your retirement plan, which may increase the premium tax credit you're eligible for at tax time. If you are purchasing new insurance in the marketplace you can also request to take half of your assistance to help pay for insurance upfront and alleviate having to pay anything back if you experience changes to your income.

     

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    Mixed race woman stacking coins
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    By Kentin Waits

    Doesn't it seem as if spenders get a lot of good press? The woman with the flashy car, the guy with the obscene Rolex collection, and the couple who leverage their McMansion to buy holiday gifts grab our attention and get the glossy spreads.

    Savers, however, aren't media darlings. They are relegated to the back pages and labeled with less-than-flattering descriptors such as "tightwad," "penny pincher" or "miser."

    Savers are seldom seen as powerful, confident or sexy. However, here are six reasons why savers actually are more attractive than their spendthrift peers:

    1. Savers can seize the moment ... and the deal


    Good deals come and go quickly. To take advantage of a red-hot bargain, you've got to be ready and able.

    By living below their means, savers generate and bank a surplus each month. That capital can be used to seize and seal deals that might not be accessible to buyers with more sluggish personal economies.

    Imagine hearing through the grapevine of a fixer-upper house in a prime location that's being offered at a bargain-basement price. Which do you think an impatient and off-site seller would choose: the buyer with cash in hand who's ready to sign right after the inspection, or the buyer who needs to talk to a banker and maybe ask for a few financial favors from Mom and Dad?

    Admit it, there are few things sexier than a man or woman of action, the one with the knowledge and the means to make those large and small deals happen.

    2. Savers aren't beholden to lenders


    In some fashion, borrowers always answer to their lenders. There's nothing particularly wrong with strategic borrowing for investment purposes. However, borrowing and chronic debt can sap our wealth and energy, making life seem much more restricted.

    By contrast, a saver is freer to make bold choices, reinvent a career, take some time off or follow a dream. That combination of flexibility and freedom is a rare quality these days, and it can be potently attractive.


    3. Savers swim against the tide


    Consumption has become a national sport, with the bowl game of Black Friday being bumped up a full day. Today, the economic challenges our nation faces aren't won by encouraging citizens to buckle down and save more. Instead, Americans are encouraged to make a collective effort to shop more.

    It's no wonder that savers represent a new sort of pioneer who ignores what the neighbors are doing and rejects the flawed logic that spending more is always better. If you're a saver, you know what I mean: It takes a bit of confidence and comfort in your own skin to follow a different path.

    4. Savers are strategic


    Successful savers didn't get that way by being indiscriminate with their money. They understand the innate and intimate connections between time, labor, money and things, and they apply that knowledge in tactical ways.

    Savers know the secret: If a person can invest enough time and labor and be a shrewd steward of the money that results from each, he can gradually reduce or completely replace his own exertion with "working" assets. Isn't being smart sexy?

    5. Savers tend to be more self-reliant


    Speaking broadly, saving and self-reliance tend to go hand in hand. Savers see the value in self-reliance, and they build the skills that help them keep expenses low.

    From gardening to simple construction, and from basic car repair to sewing, savers quietly and confidently get it done, usually without taking out their wallets. What could be sexier?

    6. Savers have something to teach


    Collectively, these points show that savers have something important to teach. Modern life has created a dearth of good examples of personal financial restraint. We need folks who can save and manage money wisely, exercise a basic level of self-reliance, and use their resources to build wealth slowly and strategically.

    Almost by default, savers are teachers, instructing others by what they reject as much as by what they embrace. Savers, in their many shapes and sizes, are quietly leading the way - and leaders have a certain appeal.

    So, savers, come out from the shadows and strut your stuff. If you didn't know it before, you do now: Your frugality and your financial sensibility make you sexy after all.

    Do you think savers are sexier than big spenders? Why or why not? Sound off in our Forums. It's the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

     

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    Close-up of woman's hand holding credit card
    Getty

    By Dan Rafter

    Burdened with thousands of dollars of consumer debt? Do you dread reading your credit card statements each month? There is hope. You can pay down your credit card debt fast. But first, you have to stop using your cards to make new purchases.

    And before you start paying off that debt, know this: You're far from alone. It can be difficult to track down just how much credit card debt the average cardholder is paying off, but in the spring of 2015, CardHub released a study showing that those households that carry a balance on their credit cards have an average debt of almost $7,200.

    How do you remove yourself from this statistic, and do it (fairly) quickly? Here are seven tools you can try.

    1. Stop Charging


    No debt repayment plan will work if you keep adding to your credit card balances. So make a vow to stop charging gas, groceries, or clothes. Buy only what you can afford to purchase in cash. Breaking the credit card habit can be challenging, but doing so will give your efforts to eliminate your consumer debt a huge boost.

    2. Pay More Than the Minimum


    You can't just pay the minimum monthly required payments on your credit cards if you want to eliminate your debt quickly. You'll simply be paying a ton of interest while whittling away at that debt.

    Here's an example. Say your credit card balance is $6,000, your card's interest rate is 18.9% percent, and your minimum required payment each month is 4% of your balance. If you only pay that minimum each month, it will take you 144 months - or 12 years - to pay off your debt, and that's only if you never make any additional charges with that card. While paying this debt off, you'll pay a total of about $9,750, or about $3,750 in total interest.

    The lesson here is obvious: No matter how you choose to tackle your debt, always pay more than the minimum each month.

    3. Choose a Repayment Method


    There are two good ways to approach paying off debt, and both can help you eliminate your credit card balances quickly.

    Snowball Method

    This is when you pay the minimum required monthly payment on all of your credit cards except for one. Use the majority of the money you have each month for paying down your debt on this last card. How you choose this card is up to you: Some consumers will pick the card with the lowest balance so that they can quickly pay it off. Others will choose the card with the highest interest rate so that they can eliminate their debt that grows the quickest each month.

    But once you pay off your targeted card, repeat the process: Pick another card to spend most of your debt-reducing dollars on and pay the minimum on the rest of them. If you stay at this long enough, you'll eventually eliminate all of your credit card debt.

    Debt Ladder Method

    In the debt ladder method, you'll list all your credit cards from the one with the highest interest rate to the one with the lowest. Then, much like with the snowball method, you'll spend most of your money each month paying down the card with the highest interest rate while paying the minimum required monthly payment on the rest of your cards.

    Once you pay off the card with the highest interest, you'll then move to the next card on your list, spending most of your money on that debt until it, too, is paid off.

    The difference between the snowball and debt ladder methods is subtle: With the debt ladder method, you'll always target the card with the highest interest rate. In the snowball method, you might do this, but you might also go after the cards with the lowest balance first so that you can more quickly snowball the dollars you have available for other accounts.

    4. Take Out a Home Equity Loan


    Do you own a home? Do you have equity in it? If so, you might consider taking out a home equity loan to pay off all or most of your high-interest-rate credit card debt.

    If your home is worth $250,000 and you owe $180,000 on your mortgage loan, you have $70,000 worth of equity. A mortgage lender might give you a home equity loan of, say, $50,000. You can then use that $50,000 to pay off credit card debt.

    The benefit of a home equity loan -- or a home equity line of credit, which is similar but works more like a credit card than a standard loan -- is that such loans come with lower interest rates. It makes sense to swap low-interest debt for high-interest credit card debt. But be sure to pay your home equity loan back on time. If you don't, you could lose your home.

    5. Use Your Savings


    It's important to have savings. Your savings account can act as an emergency fund, one that can help you cover the costs of unexpected expenses such as a furnace that suddenly conks out in the middle of winter.

    But if you have thousands of dollars in savings and are paying off thousands of dollars of credit card debt, it might make sense to use those savings to eliminate your high-interest debt. Think of it this way: Your credit card debt might have an interest rate of 19% or higher. The odds are that your savings account is paying you interest of less than 1%. It makes sense to get rid of that credit card debt that is growing so quickly each month. (See also: When to Use Savings to Pay Off Debt)

    Once you do erase your credit card debt, though, build your savings back up each month. You don't want to be without an emergency fund for too long.


    6. Do a Balance Transfer to a 0% APR Card


    A key factor in repaying your credit card debt expediently is your interest rate, since a lower rate reduces not only your minimum monthly payments, but also the total amount you'll repay on the debt. A common technique for obtaining a lower rate is transferring your credit card balances to a card with a 0% APR. There are a few caveats worth considering, however. (See also: When to Do a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Credit Card Debt)

    First, most 0% APR credit card offers are for a limited period -- say, six or 12 or 15 months. Therefore, you should only transfer the amount of balance that you expect to be able to repay in that amount of time. After the introductory 0% APR period expires, the interest rate on your new card - and any remaining transferred balance - will rise, leaving you again with a higher interest rate. So make it a priority to pay off all the transferred balance during the 0% APR period. (See also: Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards)

    Second, it's important to understand that balance transfers often come with a fee, usually expressed as a percentage of the amount transferred. (The Chase Slate card is a rare one that has zero intro balance transfer fee as well as a 0% Intro APR.) So, any savings you achieve by transferring to a zero percent card should exceed the total of the fees. If you meet these two conditions, however, a
    balance transfer can help you reduce your repayment time significantly.

    7. Get a Personal Loan With a Lower APR


    Another means for lowering your interest rate involves paying off part or all of your balance using a personal loan with a lower APR than your card offers. A variety of lenders, ranging from your local credit union or bank to online lenders, such as LendingClub can potentially offer rates below your credit card's. (See also: Should You Use Peer-to-Peer Lending to Pay Down Credit Card Debt?)

    However, it's again worth noting the terms of the loan. Are there any fees associated with a personal loan that might make it less economical? Can you afford the repayment schedule and terms (the higher your credit score, the better these will be)? If you can't, you may just be trading one type of debt for another. But if the personal loan's terms are favorable, you'll likely have an opportunity to repay your debt faster -- and save significantly in the process.

    Did you retire a mountain of credit card debt? How'd you do it?

     

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    Couple reading paperwork in new house
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    By Karla Bowsher

    Members of the millennial generation have been criticized for poor spending and saving habits in the face of large student debt burdens. Others have chided them for relying on the "Bank of Mom and Dad."

    But a new report from Fannie Mae suggests that more millennials are becoming homeowners.

    Fannie Mae -- a government-sponsored company that purchases and guarantees mortgages -- says in the report that the number of young homeowners has been decreasing for decades, except during the housing boom from 2000 to 2005.

    The Great Recession and its aftermath accelerated the decline in homeownership among younger people.

    Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey show that the number of owner-occupants between the ages of 25 and 34 plummeted by an average of 300,000 annually between 2007 and 2012 despite the young adult population growing during that time period.

    The decrease in the number of young homeowners started to slow in 2013, when it fell by fewer than 100,000. Last year's figure was "essentially flat," according to Fannie Mae's report.

    So what's next? According to the report:

    Given that the young-adult population is expected to continue expanding rapidly during the second half of the decade, it would take only modest further improvements in homeownership rate trends for the number of young homeowners to return to growth.


    If such a return to modest growth among young homeowners occurs, it could have several implications for the housing industry, the Fannie Mae report notes, including:
    • Creating the need to adjust the size, type and geographic location of new housing construction.
    • Expanding education and counseling efforts targeted at inexperienced homeowners.
    • Stepping up efforts to provide services and technologies suitable for young homebuyers.

    Have you noticed any changes in homeownership patterns in your area in recent years? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

     

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    What to Shop for After the Holidays
    Many of the products you see on sale now will be significantly cheaper after Christmas, so before you rush out for some last-minute shopping, here are a few deals you should skip.

    First, when it comes to clothing, you're better off waiting until after Christmas. A staggering 45 percent of all after-Christmas sales are clothing related, so if you can hold out for just a few more days, you might find discounts as high as 75 percent off the week after Christmas. Additionally, if your New Year's resolution includes a new workout routine, hold off until January for the best deals in new exercise equipment and gear.

    Next, if new furniture is on your wish list, wait until February. Many new furniture collections debut in January and February, which means many items will be on clearance in that time. While you can find discounts up to 30 percent in December, if you wait until the new year to shop, you might find sales as high as 75 percent off.

    Lastly, hold off on buying expensive jewelry, if possible. Jewelry is always priced higher during the holidays, so wait until after Valentine's Day to buy and you can save up to 25 percent off.

    So, while the holidays do bring some great sales, they're not always the best deals you can find. Remember these tips and you'll see that sometimes it can pay to wait.

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    Where to Get the Best Deals on Groceries
    With so many places to shop, finding the best deals on groceries can be a challenge. So, where do you find the greatest savings on certain products? To answer that question, we took a few grocery essentials, and matched them to the stores that can save you the most. Let's take a look.

    First, when it comes to paper products, stick to your local supermarket. Although a warehouse club might seem like the logical choice for jumbo packs of toilet paper, you're not always getting the best deal.

    Supermarkets typically put paper products on sale on the first and third weeks of the month, which can save you up to 25 percent per roll compared to the warehouse club. Buy these items in bulk and you can save money and extra trips, too.

    Next, with canned goods, buying at the discount grocer or big box stores can be the best way to go. You'll typically get the best savings by buying the store's own brand. At supermarkets, canned goods are one of the worst items you can buy. Grocery stores can commonly mark them up as high as 50 percent.

    Finally, when it comes to produce, dollar stores, discount grocery stores and ethnic markets are all great for finding some delicious deals. For the best prices on meat, you'll save the most money with manager's specials at the supermarket, or buying in bulk at the warehouse club. But no matter if you're buying meat or produce, stay away from the pre-cut items. Stores can charge up to 60 percent more for meat, and 40 percent more for produce for something you can easily do yourself for free.

    The next time you shop for food, remember these tips. Knowing where to grocery shop can help you bag some more savings.

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    UJA-Federation Leadership Awards Dinner
    Getty


    By Kathleen Elkins

    If you want to be successful and grow your wealth, start by learning from those who have already done it.

    "Successful people look at other successful people as a means to motivate themselves," writes T. Harv Eker in "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind." "They see other successful people as models to learn from. They say to themselves, 'If they can do it, I can do it.'"

    To help you out, we rounded up seven of the best money lessons we heard this year from self-made millionaires, CEOs, and bestselling authors.

    If you want 2016 to be a year of building wealth, take notes on what they had to say:

    Focus on the skills you build, not your paycheck.

    Tim Ferriss, angel investor, best-selling author of "The 4-Hour Workweek":

    Optimize for learning, not earning. Work directly under or with master dealmakers and acquire skills. This is particularly true for negotiating and hard skills, like coding.

    What would you rather have: $20,000 more per year in your 20s, leading to making $100,000 to $200,000 a year in your 30s, or a lower-paying job from 20 to 25 - but one like a real-world MBA you're paid for - leading to making millions in your 30s?

    It often comes down to prioritizing skill acquisition over immediate, post-college earning. McKinsey or Goldman can be seductive, but it's easy to get trapped in a 20-plus-year path of paying for a bloated lifestyle that is always a bit more expensive than the year before. Serfs can become self-made kings, but consultants tend to remain consultants. The only true job security is a superior skill set.


    Investing from a young age can give you a huge advantage.

    Kevin Cleary, CEO, Clif Bar & Company:

    In my 20s, I wish I better understood the power of investing. At the time, I had fewer expenses, more free time, and a long investment horizon - it would have been the perfect time to learn about investing.

    While I was disciplined about saving money, I missed the opportunity to leverage my money over the long haul.


    It's better to do something you love than chase money.

    Blake Mycoskie, founder, chief shoe giver of TOMS:

    In my 20s I wish I knew that the best advice for any person is to follow their passion as opposed to chasing money. I've seen time and time again that the people who foster their true passions and true callings are the ones that end up the most successful.

    It's hard in your 20s not to worry about money, but to focus on making sure you do something you love. Today, I feel like every time I've made a decision at TOMS that I'm passionate about and improves someone's life, the company grows and makes more money.


    The most powerful asset we have when it comes to getting rich is our mind.

    Steve Siebold, self-made millionaire, author of "How Rich People Think":

    Getting rich begins with the way you think and what you believe about making money. If your parents were broke or in the middle class, you will end up the same if you adopt their beliefs and philosophies about money. The only reason people settle for a mediocre, middle-class existence is because they are unaware of how to move beyond it.

    The secret has always been the same: thinking. While the masses believe becoming wealthy is out of their control, rich people know that making money is really an inside job. It's a cause and effect relationship. The cause of our behavior is our belief system, and the effect of our behavior is the result we get. Change the cause, and by default, you automatically change the behavior and bottom line result.

    Let's set the record straight once and for all: Anyone can become wealthy ... Start by telling yourself that you deserve to be rich, have every right to be rich, and that being rich is an inside job. It's up to you and only you.


    Helping others is a smart habit to build.

    Tony Robbins, life and business strategist, best-selling author:

    You can get rich by screwing someone, but if you're going to stay rich, you have to be constantly helping people.

    Find your passion and find a way to use it to do more for others than anyone else does and add value. And proximity is power. If you want to get the job done, you have to get in the environment of the best of the best.

    My own growth has always been about challenging myself to be around people who play the game of life at a higher level. In order to stay on the court with them, you need to lift your game, you need to grow. If you're around them and you're adding value, you'll find opportunity. Proximity is power.


    Spend on the things you love ... and save on the things you don't.

    Jim Cramer, cofounder of financial site TheStreet.com and host of CNBC's "Mad Money":

    I am a big believer in finding something that you really like that's expensive. You can put your money on that, and then be frugal besides that.

    I am a Stanley Frugal except for my box at the Philadelphia Eagles games.
    "My wife and I are of the same ilk: We're not crazy about spending, but when we do it, we do it big.


    Retirement is a reality - and so is the need to save.

    Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, New York Times bestselling author of "Financially Fearless":

    Start saving for retirement! It's never too early to put money away towards an IRA. Teens can even contribute money earned from baby-sitting or other jobs, and doing so can go a long way towards building up a sizable nest egg.

     

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