Should Your Investments Do More than Make Money?

Social responsibility is a rising phenomenon in the financial planning and investment world. Its roots can be traced to 18th century religious movements, such as the Quakers, who would in no way participate in the slave trade, and the Methodists, whose founder chided followers to avoid doing harm by avoiding industries such as tanning and chemical production. In the 1920s, socially responsible investing (SRI) tended to be more about avoiding “sin” stocks, such as tobacco and alcohol.  Today, however, SRI is becoming a common way for people with a wide range of values to express them in the marketplace. Read more

Take Control of Your Student Loan Debt

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One of the most effective ways to secure your financial future is to get rid of your current debt.  Student loans are growing source of debt among Americans, second only to mortgage debt. According to Forbes, the average U.S. college graduate now enters the workforce with $26,000 in debt, and 10% accumulate over $40,000 in student loans. This level of debt can be a tremendous burden and force borrowers to delay life important life events such as home ownership, starting a business, or starting a family.  Prolonged payments can also make it exceedingly difficult to save and invest for future needs. Fortunately, programs are available to help many borrowers lighten their debt load. If you are carrying student loan debt, dealing with it in the most cost-effective way possible should be a key part of your financial plan.  It’s important to know if you qualify for reduced payments and/or forgiveness of all or part of your student loans.  Failing to take advantage of programs like these might mean paying several thousand dollars more than you must toward your student loan debt. That is money that you could otherwise be using for retirement savings, buying a home, or funding your child’s education.

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Generation X Struggles with Retirement

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It’s not that we’ve been slacking…

The news about Gen X’s preparedness for retirement is less than encouraging.  Their plight is not, however, a result of the “slacker” mentality with which Gen Xers are often branded.  Workers currently in their mid 30s to late 40s have had a number of economic hurdles to overcome, including the bursting of the real estate bubble, a skyrocketing income gap that has been squeezing out the middle class, the stock market plunge, and massive student loan debt acquired at a time when we believed that a good education would translate into a good job. Read more