Hope for your financial life and beyond

Is Investing in Collectibles Like Valuable Baseball Cards Worth It?

Like so many young boys my love affair with baseball cards began in Little League. Each week our coach would give us 50 cents or $1 to spend at the concession stand after the game. On weeks where we won and received a $1, I’d get a pack of cards and a cream soda, secretly hoping some of those might turn into a valuable baseball cards.

valuable baseball cardsIn those early days I didn’t have a lot of money so the collection grew slowly. I amassed only several hundred cards and kept them rubber-banded together in a shoebox. I shuffled through them a lot so the surfaces became dull and the edges worn.

Then in 1986, I scrounged up enough money to buy my very first complete set of Topps baseball cards. I also bought plastic card pages in which to insert each card and a three ring binder to hold all the pages. So began a decade of collecting the full sets and the update sets each year. By the time I ended college, I had amassed over 15,000 baseball cards.

Then guess what happened…

Marriage…grad school…buying a home…kids…career…more kids. Through all that the baseball cards I had enjoyed collecting spent years boxed up in the back of the closet rarely seeing the light of day.

My love affair with collecting baseball cards resurfaced about 10 years later in my early 30s. This time around though I wasn’t attracted to purchasing individual packs or complete sets. I wanted to focus specifically on valuable baseball cards – which can only be found by collecting those that are professionally graded.

This was a change in strategy and required me to understand what I was getting into and why I was doing it.

How Do You Define Investing in Collectibles?

The above question is tricky to answer in part because it depends on your definition of “collecting” and “investing.”

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The Stock Market’s Dirty Little Secret

Enjoy this post today about investing by blogger and Chartered Financial Analyst Joseph Hogue.

I have built my career around investing and analysis of investments. I’ve done a good job and am proud of the advice I’ve offered clients but there is a dirty little secret that most analysts will not talk about.

The secret…many investors may not even need us.

Analysts are able to provide valuable information on stocks that helps keep the market so efficient and running smoothly. While it is difficult for anyone to “beat” the market consistently year-over-year, research shows that some analysts have been able to earn higher returns after adjusting for risk.

But the problem is that many investors just don’t need the few extra percentage points in returns that stock market analysis can provide.

Why would anyone pass up extra investment returns?

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What Is An Undergraduate Degree and Do I Need One?

You may have heard the term undergraduate degree thrown around from time to time. It’s not meant to be a confusing term but it could be, especially for a high school student. “What degree would I be earning where I am under a graduate?” you may be asking yourself.

what is an undergraduate degreeThe term undergraduate has nothing to do with where your body is physically positioned or your rank in relation to other graduates. But it does have something to do with what you earn. It’s actually better known by a much simpler term — a college degree.

Undergraduate Degree Defined

An undergraduate degree is any academic degree you might get at an institute of higher education, such as a college or university. It’s a program of study traditionally taken after high school that leads to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

It’s called an undergraduate degree to differentiate the type of degree. You will seek your Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree first after high school. Then, if you want to continue, you will proceed to graduate level studies. These are known as Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

So the progression of schooling typically looks like this:

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How to Avoid Worrying About These IRS Audit Red Flags

We are smack in the middle of tax season again as everyone is trying to meet the April 15th deadline. Many dread the prospect of an IRS audit so getting all the information correctly coded on the tax forms is of course a high priority. No one wants to worry about the IRS knocking on their door (which I don’t think they initially do, opting instead for the conventional letter in the mail).

time to conduct an auditThe unfortunate reality is that there is no silver bullet to avoiding an IRS audit. The IRS can choose to investigate and audit anyone they please at any time. Even low-income earners can be subject to an audit if the IRS becomes suspicious.

What would make them suspicious? Well there are a variety of factors, red flags if you will, that can make an IRS agent question a tax return. Some of them can’t even be avoided. But what can be avoided with all of them is the worry. If you are handling things correctly there is no need to worry about any of these situations.

Common Red Flags That Might Trigger an IRS Audit

While this is not an all-inclusive list, these represent common issues that might pop up as a red flag to the IRS:

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The Difference Between a Dumb and Smart Money Investor

Well, we’ve reached that point again in the stock market where indices are at high levels again. The NASDAQ composite index touched 5,000 the other day, its highest level since the year 2000. It’s just a stone’s throw away from its all time high, making it the last of the three major indices to reach an all time high at some point during the current bull market.

So, right on cue, out come the headlines warning investors of an impending major pullback in the market. One in particular caught my eye the other day. It read:

Why the Smart Money is Bailing Out of the Bull Market

smart moneyAs an investor, how does that headline make you feel? Does it encourage you in any way? Are you feeling good about your investment strategy and how its playing out in the market right now? Getting the urge to go sell a few stocks?

I guess the answer to that question depends on whether or not you consider yourself a smart money investor.

What is a Smart Money Investor?

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How Reckless Driving May Affect Your License, Career and Credit History

Enjoy this article today from New York based attorney Zev Goldstein. Just don’t read it on your smartphone while driving.)

When it comes to traffic violations, reckless driving often ranks just below driving under the influence. A violation can affect every aspect of your life, from your job to your ability to attain future credit.

What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

Although the legal definition of reckless driving varies from state-to-state, it’s generally taken to mean driving in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of others.

Excessive speeding, tailgating, not signaling appropriately and running lights and stop signs are commonly considered reckless. Distracted driving from talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel can also fall under recklessness.

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The Most Important Things You Need to Know About Life Insurance

The topic of life insurance is one that many do not like to discuss. The reason is simple – it involves death, most notably our own. And since death routinely shows up on lists of common fears, its obviously something we choose not to think about.

life insurance

Next to purchasing quality health insurance, I believe this is the second most important insurance a person should buy. I feel this way because there is nothing you can do about it once you are gone. You can’t buy a life insurance policy after you are dead. You can’t provide any financial comfort to those left behind once you are in the ground.

See what I mean about life insurance? Even writing those sentences brought a tinge of emotion I’d rather not feel. That’s what makes it so easy to avoid dealing with this.

But we have to. Life insurance is a big piece of the puzzle to our financial lives – even if we, as the deceased, will never see any of the money.

What is Life Insurance?

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10 Effective Strategies That Will Improve Your Networking Skills

I’ve known Grayson Bell from Debt Roundup since the early days of this site. We first connected by sharing thoughts in the comments section of our posts. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him last year at FinCon and have him help me with some technical issues on my site.

Because I had networked a bit and had this connection I was aware he would be publishing a special post in December. Each year he reaches out to personal finance bloggers and has them submit a money related tip that he can share with his readers.

I was happy to submit my tip and it got placed into “The 54 Best Personal Finance Tips of 2014” post he published on December 30th.

A few weeks later I received a curious tweet from someone I had never met. She was an editor of a new website and was looking for freelance writers. “Would I be interested?” she asked.

Of course, I had a lot of questions. In one email I asked her this, “How did you find out about me?” Naturally I was curious. Her reply proved to me again the power of networking skills.

She had read the personal finance tip I had submitted for Grayson’s post. Pretty cool!

You just never know where networking might take you.

The Biggest Obstacle to Networking

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Is There Ever a Time When You Shouldn’t Use a 401k?

In today’s post, financial consultant Dave Landry Jr. shares his thoughts on when best to invest in a 401(k). Enjoy!

401k interstate signFor decades now, the practice of squirreling away maximum contributions into a 401(k) plan has been a bit of received wisdom. A savings-account nest egg may be safe but accrues paltry interest, and social security is almost never enough to live on. However, a number of financial experts are now bucking this conception.

While there’s no doubting the solid security of a 401(k) for many consumers, in some cases there are better ways to maximize your retirement funds. In general, these situations are predicated on either the dynamics of your income tax rates or your potential need for an early cash out. Here’s a quick overview of when a 401(k) plan is and isn’t advisable.

For Tax purposes

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Does My Health Insurance Cover Dental Work?

As a follow up to my health insurance post last week, here’s a look at a some issues surrounding one big health topic – taking care of your teeth.

alligator with mouth openFor millions of citizens, public or private health insurance provides reliable access to core health services, providing resources for a range of facilities, treatments and other medical care. Holding insurance coverage can provide significant peace of mind in most scenarios, but there are a few limitations to standard policies that should be considered when determining the appropriate level of coverage for your lifestyle.

Dental: A Common Exclusion

Standard health insurance policies only provide for what insurers define as necessary treatments (or benefits), which do not include dentistry for individuals aged 18 and older, chiefly because of the expense typically involved with dental care.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Health Insurance and the Affordable Care Act

If you are wondering about the basics of health insurance you’ve come to the right place. Today I’m going to try an exhaust and consolidate all the knowledge I know about health insurance into one post. Yes, it’s going to be long, so if you don’t have time now you may want to bookmark it for later reading.

health insurance claim formOf all the insurances out there, health insurance has become the most highly sought after type of insurance based on its direct application to something very important to us – our health. Nothing gives us more cause for attention than when our bodies are not working properly. The kind of health insurance policy we are able to secure can go a long way in determining what type of care we get and what drugs we are able to get our hands on. Those factors consequently then can have an impact on how healthy we are able to maintain our own bodies.

In recent years health insurance has also been hotly debated within society and government. It’s even found it’s way to the highest court in the land in a landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) has changed the very structure of the health insurance industry – some would say for good, others would say for bad.

This post is going to outline for you the basics of health insurance. I’ll explain what it is and why it’s a good idea for you to have some form of coverage. I’ll address some terms you need to know when researching plans, what types of plans are out there and how to decide which one is right for you.

For those who are looking for ways to save money on healthcare, good luck. Premiums have increased dramatically and health insurance isn’t as affordable as it used to be. However, there are ways you can reduce the overall cost of the plans and I’ll address some helpful tips in that regard.

This post will conclude with a look at health care reform, how it impacts you and what alternatives are available to traditional healthcare as we know it.

What Is Health Insurance?

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