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Financial Education for Everyone

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Practical Money Matters

Visa’s Practical Money Matters column delivers expert personal finance tips to consumers of all ages in English and Spanish. The article series has been syndicated nationwide in 500 U.S. newspapers and a Huffington Post blog. Topics include saving, budgeting, credit & debt, life events, taxes, retirement, insurance and more.

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PMM Articles


Tax strategies in a tough economy

For most of us, income tax calculations don't change much from year to year. But thanks to the roller coaster economy of the past few years, many people have undergone major life changes that can have a significant impact – good...

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Beware of mystery shopper scams

Getting paid to go shopping may sound like a dream job, but buyer beware: For each legitimate mystery or secret shopper opportunity, probably hundreds more are scams. In fact, the National Consumers League (NCL) says complaints regarding fraudulent mystery shopper and...

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Women and personal finances

By many measures, women's lives have changed substantially in recent decades. According to a comprehensive government report called "Women in America" (www.whitehouse.gov/data-on-women), although certain social and economic situations for women have improved, when it comes to personal finances, many women still...

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Easing student loan repayments

College costs are out of control. Total outstanding student loans hover around $1 trillion, second only to home mortgages. Student loan repayment takes a hefty toll on starting salaries even during good economic times. But with so many recent graduates unable...

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Boosting your retirement plan contributions

For the first time since 2009, the IRS has increased the amount people can contribute to their 401(k) and other defined contribution plans. Effective January 1, 2012, the maximum annual contribution grows by $500 to $17,000, thanks to an increase in...

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Credit card stolen? Here's what you do

Despite high-profile media attention, the odds of having your credit or debit card number stolen by crooks remains at historically low That said, it's always good to know what to do in case lightening does strike and someone fraudulently uses your...

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How to undo a Roth IRA conversion

We've all suffered buyer's remorse – say you buy something you really can't afford or the item's sudden drop in value make it seem, in retrospect, a poor investment. That's what has happened to some people who've taken advantage of IRS...

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Financial planning for later-life marriages

Couples who marry as young adults usually don't bring a lot of financial baggage to the table. But what if you're getting married in your 40s, 50s or later – after divorce, children and years of building assets have complicated your...

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Finding your lost money

You may not know it, but millions of Americans are owed money from long-forgotten government payments, stock sales, bank accounts and other lost When the entities holding these funds can't find the rightful recipients, they turn over the money to individual...

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Deadline approaches for mandatory IRA withdrawals

Reaching your 70th birthday is cause for celebration. But thanks to our quirky tax code, a potentially more important milestone arrives six months later. IRS rules say that you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRAs and other...

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Tax deadline looms for charitable contributions

Each year, roughly one-third of American households itemize deductions on their federal income taxes. If you're among that group, there are a several important actions you need to take by year's end in order to take full advantage of available deductions....

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Life Insurance 101

Life insurance has no one-size-fits-all option. Singles with no dependents often need little or no coverage. But it can be an important purchase for people whose families depend on their income to cover daily living costs, mortgage repayment, college, retirement or...

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Budget Now for Holiday Spending

It's tough sticking to your budget any time of year, but the holiday season presents special challenges with so many unexpected expenses and temptations. If you sometimes fall prey to holiday overspending, you might want to look for year-round small spending...

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Beware of fake check scams

The other day I got one of those annoying emails from a supposed Nigerian prince promising rich rewards for helping to move money out of his country. It's hard to believe those kinds of scams are still thriving, but they are....

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Energy-Efficiency Tax Credits Expire Soon

If you haven't already jumped on the home energy-efficiency bandwagon, the good news is that several federal energy tax credits originally slated to end in 2010 were extended through December 31, 2011; but the not-so-good news is that these credits are...

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Medicare Open Enrollment Comes Early

If you're enrolled in Medicare, mark these dates on your calendar: October 15, 2011 – December 7, 2011. That's Medicare's 2012 Open Enrollment period – and you should note that it occurs a month earlier this year than in the past....

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Flexible Spending Accounts Slash Your Taxes

Admit it: You probably spend more time comparison shopping online than reviewing your annual benefits enrollment materials. That's a big mistake because the money you could save by choosing the right employee benefits package probably far exceeds any savings you could...

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Start your student loan search now

If you've got a high school senior, your household is probably knee-deep in senior-year activities – and expenses. Not to elevate your stress level, but this is probably a good time for you and your kid to start investigating how you're...

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The 411 on prepaid cards

According to Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, we live in a credit-dominated society. "Without a checking or savings account," she says, "it's difficult to cash payroll, Social Security and unemployment checks; you need a credit or...

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The power of compounding

I wish I had learned about the power of compounding a long time ago. As a kid I walked dogs in the neighborhood, earning $5 a week. If I'd started investing that weekly $5 from age nine until 65, it would...

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