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The Intelligent Life Blog

Helping millions of Americans become educated
in making intelligent decisions around their life needs

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Set Your Competitive Nature Free

Mar 21, 2017 7:03:00 PM

Are you fiercely competitive? In ancient times, there wasn't much choice in the matter. If you didn't compete for food, shelter, or companionship, you would die. Fortunately, things aren't quite as intense today, but we still compete in various aspects of our lives.

We continue to live in a world in which competition is highly valued and where achievement is often tied to self-esteem or personal value. Here are a few reasons why your competitive spirit might be a good thing, when it could get you into trouble, and some ways to use your drive more productively.

The Positive Aspects of a Competitive Spirit

It's a fallacy to believe that we all live a world where everyone is going to get a participation trophy just for showing up. Success is valued in our society whether we like it or not and competition is one of the best ways to drive success.

When we have competition, it pushes us to grow and even advance as a civilization. It can be argued that man might never have stepped on the moon if we were not in a race to beat the Russians for the prize. If viewed in the correct light, we can actually learn from the setbacks that occur when we're competing with others. These are some of the most positive aspects of competition.

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Get Your Budget on Course: 5 Apps That Can Help

Mar 16, 2017 8:19:00 AM

Nearly all of us have some financial goals that we'd like to achieve, but putting the action in place to achieve those goals is a common roadblock. According to one Nielsen survey, 69% of respondents believed that they would achieve their financial goals, but only 28% had planning efforts in place to make those plans a reality. Most financial planning begins with basic budgeting. Here are just five simple budget apps that can help you get your family's budget on track so you can get on course to reaching your goals.

1. Mint

Mint is one of the most popular and most widely-used budget apps because it is user-friendly and versatile. The program is available online and as an iPhone and Android app. You can link your bank accounts to the app, create monthly budgets, track spending categories, and even upload data to some types of tax software.

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March Madness is an Event: Get Involved!

Mar 14, 2017 6:19:00 AM

It might seem like spring fever because of the month, but maybe the anticipation of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament is the cause of fans going nuts as we leave winter behind. March Madness is an exciting time of year for college basketball fans and non-fans alike. It's easy enough to get swept up in the excitement of these fast-paced games, particularly when you understand what is on the line. Here is what you need to know about March Madness, how you can set up your own competition or bracket, and some tips for creating a fun basketball party around this tournament.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the annual NCAA men's college basketball tournament. This is a  3-week tournament that narrows the field from 68 teams down to just one champion. This year, the first round of the tournament kicks off on March 16. Unlike the NBA playoff series the format for March Madness is one and done. You lose and you go home! The Final Four will take place in Phoenix, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, with the championship game on April 3.

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You Got a Bonus! What Will You Do with It?

Mar 12, 2017 6:31:00 PM

Whether your employment bonus check was expected or not, you now have some extra cash in your hand and a few decisions to make. When a bonus check comes into your life, it might be tempting to splurge on big ticket items or a fancy vacation. But just maybe there are some more responsible uses for that money, though. Here are just a few ideas of things that you can spend your bonus money on and some wise investment tips.

Indulge Yourself

We all deserve some reward, right? This doesn't mean that you should spend your entire bonus on a trip to Hawaii or a down payment on a new sports car. But, if you've been dying for a weekend away or some new fancy gadget for your kitchen, it's ok to spend a small portion of this bonus on some short-term gratification. The rest, however, should go towards achieving your long-term financial goals.

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Identity Theft: 5 Tips to Help You Avoid Becoming a Victim

Mar 9, 2017 8:35:00 PM

If you have a bank account, shop online, or even pay taxes, you run the risk of identity theft. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 17.6 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. As of 2014, about 7% of U.S. residents ages 16 and older experienced some form of identity theft. This type of theft includes such things as the unauthorized use of credit cards, bank accounts, or the use of personal information to commit financial crimes.

While some identity theft losses are insured by financial institutions, others may be financially and emotionally devastating. One thing that they nearly all have in common is that they are frustrating and inconvenient. In today's digital age, protecting your information is a challenge, but it is necessary. Here are five tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of an identity theft scheme.

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Oh Baby! That's a New 'To Do' List!

Mar 6, 2017 9:17:00 PM

Nine months sounds like plenty of time to plan for your new baby's arrival until it's you who is doing the planning. After the initial shock and celebration of your expanding family, there is still a lot to get accomplished. Here are just a few things to put on your to-do list, including several financial matters that you'll want to address.

Your Expectant Parents To-Do List

A lot of what you'll do in the months leading up to your child's birth is exciting. You get to pick out birth announcements and decorate a nursery in your home. Picking out and buying baby clothes and other pint-sized items can become addictive.

A few of the items on your list that might seem more like chores are more frequent doctor's visits and finding ways to deal with hormones and discomfort. Aside from all of the errands that you'll be running, you will also want to review your financial matters.

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Decisions, Decisions: What to Consider When Choosing Life Insurance?

Mar 1, 2017 10:20:00 AM

It's never pleasant to discuss or even think about your own demise, but making legal and financial accommodations for your loved ones is just the right thing to do. In fact, putting the right measures in place to take care of loved ones after you're gone can ease the burden of these awkward conversations and give you some much-needed peace of mind.

One way to plan for these uncertainties is with a life insurance policy. If you've decided to purchase life insurance to protect your loved ones' financial future, you've made the right choice. You still have a few decisions to make, however. Here are several things to consider so that you choose the right insurance policy for your needs.

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Love, Marriage --- What's Next?

Feb 26, 2017 7:22:00 PM

Anyone who finds their life partner should be commended. It's not easy to find that one person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and who appreciates your unique quirks. Now that you've made that commitment in front of family and friends and hopefully had a nice honeymoon, there's some business to attend to.

The idea of being married and actually settling down into life as a married couple are two very different things. While you'll still enjoy evenings out and plenty of good times, living as a married couple requires some planning. Here are just a few things you'll need to take care of as you merge from two people who are dating into a family that is building a future together.

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