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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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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.




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.




6 Budgeting Tips You Can Use Now

Jan 31, 2017 5:52:00 PM

Spending less than you make sounds like a simple financial goal, but it can be a challenge for many families. Achieving this goal can allow you to stay out of debt, invest for retirement, and save money for emergencies. In essence, this can be a ticket to financial freedom.

A recent Federal Reserve Board study found that nearly half of respondents wouldn't be able to cover a hypothetical $400 emergency without borrowing money. Some aren't able to meet this goal due to a lack of income, but in many cases, the problem is overspending. When overspending is an issue, some simple budgeting tools can help you see where your money comes from and where it's going.

Here are just six budgeting tips to move you closer towards the goal of financial freedom.




Your Health Matters: Avoid Stress - Avoid Financial Worries

Jan 24, 2017 3:50:00 PM

Most of us know that a little bit of stress can be motivating, but too much pressure is no fun and can actually be dangerous. Positive stress can keep you alert and even ready to respond in a dangerous situation. Stress becomes negative, however, when there is no relief or relaxation between challenges. In some cases, this anxiety can impact your health and in many instances this stress is tied to financial worries.

Impact of Stress on Health

We've all experienced the physical symptoms related to stress, whether we want to admit it or not. Stress over work, family, and finances can cause sleep issues, headaches, elevated blood pressure, and stomach problems. Researchers are finding some other disturbing consequences of stress as well.

There are several studies related to stress and cancer, indicating that the level of distress can affect cancer tumor growth. One Yale University study showed that stress causes a reduction in gray matter, effectively shrinking your brain. Another study revealed that chronic stress could lead to depression. Finally, stress can wreak havoc with your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, flu, and even some chronic diseases.




How to Be Prepared for Unexpected Expenses

Jan 16, 2017 4:56:00 PM

If there's one thing in life that's certain, it's that plans often change. Your idea of a perfect vacation could go south with an unexpected illness, a broken down vehicle, or even the theft of some belongings. What was supposed to be a quiet winter season can turn stressful when the furnace breaks, or there's a sudden leak in the roof.

The common thread running through all of these events is money. When the unexpected occurs, it's usually not in the form of a winning lottery ticket. No, instead you unexpectedly find yourself parting with money. Here's what you need to know about unexpected expenses and a few tips on getting a good preparation plan in place.




Planning Your Finances for 2017

Jan 5, 2017 10:32:42 AM

The new year is often a time when we make resolutions about living a healthier lifestyle. While resolving to exercise and eat better is a wonderful thing, the overall health of your personal finances could often use some attention as well. The new year is the perfect time to create new financial habits, which includes setting some goals. Here are several important areas to consider as you plan your finances for 2017.

Assess Your Situation

Whether you're planning for retirement, trying to claw your way out of debt, or saving for the dream of home ownership, it's hard to make a plan if you don't know where you stand. Sit down and make a list of your assets and liabilities. This means that you list out everything that you own as well as what you owe. If this sounds tedious, but there are some free online tools can help you get this done, such as Mint.com.




Financial Planning & Social Security: Long-Term Considerations

Nov 21, 2016 8:18:00 PM

Longing for those retirement years is a common feeling, but lack of planning can have some unintended consequences. Do you know when the best time is to file for Social Security? If you're not sure, you're in good company. Each day, another 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age, and many immediately file for their Social Security benefits. What many don't realize is that this could be a costly mistake and proper financial planning can place you in a better long-term position.

Common Misconceptions About Social Security

Even if you've been given information about your benefits eligibility by the Social Security Administration, a recent investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that you might want to question some of that data. The GAO found that the average consumer, whether they received their information over the phone or online, didn't have a strong grasp of Social Security eligibility, which often led them to make the wrong choices.

For example, many retirees don't understand the full implications of claiming Social Security benefits at age 62 versus waiting until full retirement age, which is generally 66. If you took benefits at the earliest possible time, they'd be 25 percent less than if you'd waited. Also, many retirees aren't aware of the tax implications of Social Security benefits or the effect that having a "retirement job" will have on their benefits.




Death Phobia: Yes, It's Real

Nov 13, 2016 9:05:00 PM

There aren't many people who enjoy thinking about death in any form. If given a choice, many of us would rather mow the lawn or even undergo a root canal than sit down and make plans for the afterlife. For some, though, perpetual avoidance of discussing important issues like this can be costly, particularly for those who are left behind.

Is Death Phobia Really a Thing?

If you're truly afraid of dying, you're not alone. This is a real phobia with a name, Thanatophobia, the fear of dying, fear of being cremated or buried, and fear of the unknown. While not everyone may have a fear to the degree of this phobia, reluctance to think about or discuss death is still quite common.

Penn Mutual conducted a survey recently about leading topics for dinner table discussion. A majority of respondents were excited about discussing uses for lottery winnings or super powers, with last place subjects being about death and dying and life insurance. LIMRA's Insurance Barometer Study confirms this. They found that 30% of people avoid buying a life insurance policy because they don't like thinking about death.