Knowledge Is Power

Money management has become an even more compelling personal responsibility in the wake of the Great Recession. You may have less money, but more choices. Should you still contribute to your retirement plan? Can you refinance at lower rates if your home value has fallen? What’s the best way to deal with student loans? Is bankruptcy your only way out? These decisions are painful and demanding.

No matter what your financial condition, you’re faced with a multitude of choices and products. You may still receive at least three or four credit card solicitations in the mail every week. Banks now compete for your business by offering a variety of products and services, not all of them under FDIC insurance protection. Brokers offer more than traditional stocks and bonds. Exchange-traded funds compete with traditional mutual funds. Insurance agents sell annuities—and you’ll find annuities offered under the roof of your bank, as well. Your employer probably now “defaults” you into investing in the company retirement savings plan. But you must then choose the investments you want to make within the plan.

Think of all the money decisions you must make every day. Technology promised to make life simpler and more efficient. And technology has made financial advice easy to find. The problem is sorting through all this information and getting some basic guidance in making choices. A huge financial services industry has grown up ...

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