Monday, April 26, 2010

Bad Motivation to Do Good

Does the type of motivation used matter if the end product is still good?

Coca Cola, 11.5 oz.My colleague and I often walk to the cafeteria for lunch. It is a half mile little jaunt that is a relaxing part of my day when the wind isn't too cold. On the way back to our office, I noticed a plastic coke bottle lying on the side of the road. Immediately, my mind focused on the cap and I envisioned three more points being added to MyCokeRewards balance. I reached down and picked up the bottle. My colleague noticed this and said, "That was good of you." I didn't know what to say. I wasn't being a responsible citizen trying to do his part to clean up – I was scoring points. Granted, I wasn't about to take the cap off and throw the bottle back to the ground. Once retrieved, I carried the bottle to a recycling bin set inside the building. 

The motivation to retrieve the bottle had been completely for my own personal gain. The thought of the extra points were an extrinsic reward and were an easy win if I just picked up the bottle. Does the type of motivation used matter if the end product is still good? I still recycled the bottle. 

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsI think, while trying to score points may have helped me clean up some trash along the roadside, it would be a poor method to motivate other people to clean up trash. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (my review), applying an extrinsic reward to the task would immediately label the task as unpleasant and not desirable. He used an example of paying your child as a means to motivate them to take out the trash. The payment conveys that the task is undesirable and furthermore, over time the reward will have to be increased to achieve the same result. 

The flip side is interesting as well. Fines for littering in California are horrendous and are posted on all the roadways, but people still litter. I do not litter because of the fear of paying a fine. I choose not to litter because I am intrinsically motivated to maintain a clean roadway. The State of Idaho has very clean roadways and many residents know that, "Idaho's to great a place to litter." The fine for littering is not widely posted either. Instead, signs for the volunteer Adopt-A-Highway program and their respective groups are posted every few miles. I was part of a group which, twice a year, cleaned up the trash on both sides of a two mile stretch of remote highway. Maybe I choose not to litter because I picked up so much of it.

Reflecting on my actions and the impulse to act as I carried the bottle to the recycling bin I began to wonder, What if it had been a Pepsi bottle instead? Would I have walked right on by? Maybe. But at least from now on I have decided that tomorrow it will not be the case.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Compound Interest Video Contest GetRichSlowly

I recently entered the Get Rich Slowly 2010 Video contest. From the website...

Get Rich Slowly has always been devoted to sensible personal finance. Since April 2006, JD Roth and other writers have shared stories about debt elimination, frugality, saving money, and practical investing with millions of readers. Now it's our readers' turn to tell their stories.

We are calling on real people like you to enter the contest by submitting a 2 minute-or-less video in one of two categories: 1) Personal Finance Tips and 2) Success Stories.

I was really excited to enter this contest for a few reasons.
Number one was the nice cash prize motivation. Although, it may have made my ability to be creative a little bit harder because I knew that my work was going to be in a competition. And the competition is really good!  You can check out the latest videos that have been submitted in the contest and learn a lot of cool tips or be inspired by some really great success stories.

This is my entry into the contest and just so happens to be the first official video that I have posted to YouTube. It's not my first foray into making movies on my computer. I am definitely still an amateur, but I have had the opportunity to put together and author a few movies that involved splicing clips of music, voice, pictures and video. I didn't do any acting in this little short piece. There just was not enough time!

I chose the topic of compound interest because it is one of the fundamental principles to finance. Interest can make or break you. If you are in debt you need to know how easily you can be a slave for the rest of your life. If you are saving money you need to understand why it is so important to start saving right now!

One of the first rules of successful personal finance is to pay yourself first. What does it mean to pay yourself first? It means your most important and your first step after getting paid should be to put money away for your future self. Save money for your future. Save for your retirement. Save for the days that you will not be working. Establishing the habit early in life will ensure you a comfortable lifestyle later in life.

Hope you liked it! Let me know if you have ideas or suggestions on the video. Or please, if you have a personal experience with compound interest that you would like to share - feel free to do so, in the comments below.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Time Management

I attended a Time Management presentation by  Professor John Cable from the University of Maryland. It was a talk sponsored by the local chapter of Project Management Institute or PMI.
Habit 3 - Time Management Matrix or Quadrants (English Text) - Wall Clock from THE 7 HABITS - CLOCK COLLECTION by WatchBuddy Timepieces (Black Frame)Since we are all good time managers, none of us really needed to be there, right? We can always use extra help in different areas of our lives. Self improvement is why I love reading personal finance blogs - not because I love money so much - but because personal finance is just another facet of self improvement.

Maybe it is because I was just talking about that realization with my wife just last night but throughout the presentation today I kept finding parallels from his talk on time management that applied directly to personal finance.

First, and foremost, You must develop your *own* personal time management system.
In order to be successful you need to be able to think in multiple time dimensions. Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, Years. And you must allocate your priorities to the fixed amount of time that we have. Because when today is gone, it is gone.

Prof. Cable then presented the quadrant of how our time can be categorized. Important and Not, Urgent and Not, and pointed out how much of our time is, unfortunately, found in the Not Important and Not Urgent quadrant. It would be unhealthy if it was always in its opposite - we need to strike a balance in our lives. Haven't we heard that before!

Write it down, he urged us. Keep a record of your time. (This is just like the advice to track every penny in your finances.) Because if you do not know where it is going - you are incapable of improving your situation.

To Do List Classic Pad (Blue) (9"H x 6"W x 0.375"D)Make a to do list for tomorrow at the end of today. This will give your brain a chance to work on the issues while you sleep. Useful, this is, because your brain doesn't stop working at night.

Take advantage of downtime. Keep a notepad with you. Authors do this. They utilize the five minutes standing in line to capture a thought.

Do the important things first. Or match it to your energy curve. (Pay your mortgage before eating out.)

Keep at it! It takes a continuous effort.

High performance comes from balancing stress and recovery. (Going on vacation is fine. Replensish your account before you go again though!)

Cater to your strengths. (Tim Ferriss stated this, too.) Part of the 80/20 or Pareto principle.

Awareness, New Knowledge, Application of that new knowledge. - otherwise, training is lost and useless.( tells the story, relates personally, and then challenges her readers. It is the personal challenge which draws the readers in and makes them love her posts.)

Personal Thoughts
I guess the most interesting thing about this whole presentation was how my mind was open and instead of just focusing on what he had to say, I was connecting the dots from this talk to other bits of information that I have learned recently. It was an incredibly more satisfying experience. Not only was I listening to the tips on how to better manage my time, I was analyzing his presentation methods and trying to relate the major points to how they apply to personal finance, all at the same time.

Even now, while I write this, I feel like I am in the flow, and I really do not want to interrupt that. When you find yourself in the flow, it is important to brush aside distractions and focus. Doing so will produce greater results and greater satisfaction. 

When I returned from the presentation, I immediately had a lot of little tasks to do.  I set them all up and quickly accomplished each one in the order that I needed. I used tabbed browsing to accomplish this. Rather than try to multi-task, I opened links in a new tab and continued working in the tab I was on and didn't leave until I was finished. I signed each of my timecards, updated my calendars, printed a calendar for my wall, and some other things, all before getting distracted by anything. I let each of the tabs remember my task order for me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Admission National Park Week

Free Admission to all 392 National Parks during National Park Week!

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, 6th EditionIt's not too late to go explore our great country and visit a National Park near you.

The National Park Service is offering free admission to all 392 parks from April 17th to April 25th. Many of the parks are planning special events for the week so its sure to be fun!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to get Two Tax Refunds In One Year

Banner, Vinyl Instant 24-Hours Tax Refunds, 4' x 12'Sounds tantalizing, doesn't it? Two tax refunds?! My tastebuds begin to buzz and I can smell the smoke coming from my pockets as they almost start to burn just thinking about receiving two tax refunds in one year. Is it legal? How can it be possible?

This year, I received my two tax return refunds in the same week. First, I received my 2009 tax refund via direct deposit, and second, my 2008 tax refund deposited back into my savings account after sitting in a fat one year certificate of deposit. Okay, so that sounded a bit anticlimactic, but when I look at my savings account it just feels awesome. My opportunities this year are two fold that of last year. Many people ask the question, "What should I do with my tax return?" The answers are varied and range from blowing it all on fun and gadgets to paying down debt. Some people already have mentally spent their tax returns even before they hit the bank.

Blue Hat Fun 2 Save Kids Electronic ATM BankLast year, I had the unique opportunity of delaying my gratification of receiving my 2008 tax refund in exchange for a special one year CD with a fat rate of 5.7%, available only through my local credit union. Back in 2005 my online savings account was earning me 5%, but in 2009, it was hardly even 1%. The offer of 5.7% was a steal of a deal. The conditions were that the CD had to be funded with your tax return refund. I was so glad that I didn't already have my refund spent mentally or on credit! 

Friday, April 16, 2010

How Should I Spend My Tax Return?

Around tax time a lot of people start asking the question, "What should I do with my tax refund?" If you feel lucky enough to be getting a tax refund, or your personal savings has been piling up this year, you are not alone. 

The markets were undeniably devastated in 2008. The precipitous fall in stock prices scared people so bad that they fled the market in droves. For many people, they looked outside and saw that it was raining and decided that it was finally time to start saving for a rainy day. The rain fell so hard that the personal savings rate, as compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, started growing at a rapid rate. Consumer spending during 2009 has also dropped considerably. 

Is this a good thing that Americans are saving more? Maybe. With all this extra cash you can finally build up your emergency fund, or boost your other savings goals. But are Americans really saving more – or just momentarily spending less? What is happening to those savings? If the extra money is just sitting in your checking account, it will likely float away when the economic weather improves. Stashing large sums in your savings account, besides for an emergency fund, isn't very practical right now, either. Your money should have a purpose or a goal. Make money work for you! If it is for retirement, get it back out there into that crazy rollercoaster stock market. Missing out on 2009 gains in the stock market only served to exacerbate the losses from 2008. 

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial FitnessDo you have debt? Get to work paying it down if it is an adjustable rate. Look into getting your debt refinanced, too. Interest rates are lower now than they have been in years. The future of interest rates will be going up only too soon. Now is the time to start a Dave Ramsey debt Snowball not a new LCD flat screen.

Because interest rates are so low, Certificate of Deposits, CDs, are dismal places to lock up your money. I shudder to think that my cash might only be earning a paltry 2% for the next few years once interest rates start rising again. When interest rates are high, debt is expensive, and saving pays nice dividends. When interest rates are low, debt is cheap, and saving pays poor dividends.

What you should do with your money today largely depends on current interest rates and future projections of those rates.




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Affects My FICO Score

Your Credit Score, Your Money & What's at Stake (Updated Edition): How to Improve the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future My local Credit Union always sends out a monthly newsletter with our account statements. Inside they had a breakdown of what you might do to improve your FICO credit score. 

Payment History - 35%
  • Pay your bills on time.
Amounts Owed to Creditors - 30%
  • Don't owe a lot of money to a lot of people. Another way of saying this is to only use a small percentage of your available credit.
Length of Credit History - 15%
  • Keep fewer cards for a longer period of time.
New Credit - 10%
  • Don't increase debt obligations right before applying for a mortgage.
Types of Credit Currently in Use - 10%
  • Maintain a mix of credit - mortgage, credit card, car loan, for example.

The big takeaway here is that Payment History and Amounts Owed are the two biggest factors in your credit score. Together they comprise 65% of your FICO score. Getting a new card might hurt a little, but not too much. Missing a payment will set you way back.

If your Amounts Owed category is too high, but you are making all your payments, you might consider raising your available credit as a means to improving your score. Ask your current credit cards for a raise before you run out and open another account because your older cards will weigh in more favorably on your score. Please, only raise your limits if you are not going to run out and max out your card again! 

Remember, the purpose of the FICO score is to evaluate you as a borrower. It is a way to calculate risk. Will you default or will you pay back your debt?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where Do Your Taxes Go

2009 TurboTax Deluxe Federal + State + Federal efileTax time. Are you getting a refund because you had too much withholding? Or do you still owe taxes this year? I am getting a fat refund check, well, direct deposit. I might have to adjust my withholding so that I am not giving the government a free loan on my money all year, but it is nice to view at as forced savings, too. 

Regardless, where does all your tax money go? What are we paying for? Bailouts? I am sure that will definitely be a huge part of future budgets. Did you know that National Defense with its billion dollar programs is only 19%? The part that scares me is the whopping 38% devoted to Medicare and Social Security and yet it is very doubtful that there will be any money left by the time I retire. Factor in the passage of the Health Care Overhaul bill and our future is looking very uncertain. Higher taxes anyone?

Officially, these percentages are from the 2008 data, but the 2009 data was nearly the same. Keep an eye out for the next few years as these percentages will change dramatically with the addition of all the debt issued in the vain attempts to pull us out of the recession and the cost impacts from the Health Care overhaul bill.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to add a percentage sign without multiplying by 100 in Excel

I become frustrated with software that tries to do everything for me. Automatic install wizards dumping icons all over my desktop without asking or my word processor auto correcting things it thinks are wrong. Luckily, while we all universally hate Microsoft (yet use it every day) there are options to customize and do it your way. Maybe that is why I don't hate them entirely. But, hey, today's post is about a trick in Microsoft Excel, not in hating software giants! New Perspectives on Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Comprehensive  

There are lots of websites that have thousands of Microsoft Office tips and tricks. But today I wanted to feature a less well known trick that is harder to find online. 

How to add a percentage sign without multiplying by 100 in Excel?

For example, when I do my work I do my own calculations. After calculating a row, or column of numbers I wanted to format them so that they displayed with the percentage symbol. If you have ever used Excel for your budgeting you know that a simple Right Click and Format Cells will allow you to choose Currency and voila! All your cells are instantly formatted to two decimal places with the $ sign. 

If you choose the percentage format, there is this caveat. 

"Percentage formats multiply the cell value by 100 and displays the result with a symbol."
If your number is '4' it will be represented as '400%'. Argh! I don't want Excel to do anything to my numbers. What can I do?

Option 1) Create a new column or modify the equation preceding your results to divide them all by 100.

But what if they are already divided by 100? Or you have your own reasons…

Option 2) Right Click, Format Cells, Custom. Manually type in "0.0\%" without the quotes.

If you want more decimal places to show, just add in zeroes. "0.000\%"

For example, if your cell contents are '4.35' then with the above custom format it would appear as '4.350%'.

This solved a big headache for me. I found it answered by J. E. McGimpsey on a Mac forum for MS Office users! Hence, my jab at the controversy for fun at the beginning of this post.

Hope it helps!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reuse Blogger Pictures In Future Posts

Pictures are worth a thousand words. However, pictures take up valuable storage space and Blogger only gives you 1024 MB or 1 GB of storage for your Blogger albums.

How do you reuse a picture that you have posted before? Rather than upload the same picture all over again into your new blog post, open up a new tab, or window and head over to Picasa Web Albums. This is where all your current Blogger pictures are stored.
NOTE: If you delete pictures from your Web Albums - they will also disappear from your blog posts.

When you have found the image that you want, click on it. You should see a screen similar to this below.

On the right hand side there is an option to "Link to this Photo". Clicking on it reveals more options.
If you want the HTML code, then select the "Hide Album Link" checkbox. The more familiar method would be to select the "Image Only" checkbox and to copy the link provided.
Then, go back to your blog post you are editing and insert an image. 
This time, however, provide the web address that you copied from Picasa Web Albums and voila! You can reuse the photo again.

For example, you can see that I reused the ShareBuilder logo here and here.

Happy Blogging!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free Experian Credit Report and Plus Score

It is always a good idea to monitor your credit report and make sure things are correct. It is doubly nice when you actually get the chance to see what your score is looking like. American Express is offering their credit card customers this opportunity.
From their website -

Why should you request your complimentary 30-day Credit Score & Report?

  •  It allows you to detect possible inaccuracies on your Credit Report
  • It provides you immediate access to your valuable Credit Score for 30 days
  • It enables you to see who has viewed your Credit Report
  • It helps you determine if your accounts are in good standing

My personal PLUS(not FICO) score, based on my Experian report is 762.

About your PLUS Score:
Your PLUS Score is formulated using the information in your credit file. Your PLUS Score can range between 330 and 830, with a higher score indicating a lower risk. There are many scoring models used in the marketplace. The type of score used, and its associated risk levels, may vary from lender to lender. But regardless of what scoring model is used, they all have one purpose: to summarize your creditworthiness. Keep in mind that your score is just one factor used in the application process. Other factors, such as your annual salary and length of employment, may also be considered by lenders when you apply for a loan.

What your PLUS Score means:
Factors in your credit file indicate you have excellent credit. Lenders will likely offer you the best rates and terms.

What this means to you:
Credit scoring can help you understand your overall credit rating and help companies better understand how to serve you. Overall benefits of credit scoring have included faster credit approvals, reduction in human error and bias, consistency, and better terms and rates for American consumers through reduced costs and losses for lenders. While lenders may use different scoring models to determine how you score, and each major credit bureau has its own method for calculating credit scores, the scoring models have been fairly well standardized so that a score at one bureau is roughly equivalent to the same score at another.

What factors raise your PLUS Score:
You have paid your bills on time and currently do not have any overdue accounts or derogatory information, such as a collection, charge-off, or bankruptcy, on your report.

You have a good cushion of available credit between your current balance and your credit limits on all open trades. This has a positive affect on your credit score. This cushion shows lenders that you are unlikely to overextend yourself financially.

The total balance on all your credit cards is relatively low compared to your total available credit limit. This has a positive impact on your credit score.

You have at least 2 or more open major credit cards, such as Discover, American Express, VISA, or MasterCard, on your credit report. This often tells lenders that you are a responsible borrower and they may be more likely to see you as a good credit risk and extend you credit.

What factors lower your PLUS Score:
Each time a potential lender or landlord pulls your credit report for review, an inquiry is placed on your file. Inquiries stay on your credit report for up to 2 years. Having several inquiries on your credit report is negatively affecting your score. They are not necessarily negative information, but too many inquiries may indicate to lenders that you are trying to take on more new debt or possibly overextending yourself.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ShareBuilder Free Money Account Transfer Bonus

ShareBuilder has yet another promotion to give you more free money. If you transfer your brokerage account, value of $500 or more, to ShareBuilder, they will give you $100! Use promo code TRADEUP100.
Don't have a ShareBuilder account yet? Make sure and get one via this promo to get another $50 free money.

The $100 bonus will post to your account approximately 4-6 weeks after completing a full brokerage transfer from a competing broker and is not available for withdrawal for 180 days. Limit one ShareBuilder promotional award per unique customer or custodial beneficiary.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Which Tax Forms Do I Need?

This is a handy reference table that my local credit union provided to me to prepare for tax season this year. Granted, if you are using software, the questions you answer will determine behind the scenes which forms to fill out. This list may be useful if you are unsure about a certain question and need some additional information. Visit and pull up the appropriate schedule or form for more detailed instructions. If you need State specific tax forms, the IRS will redirect you to this link.

Forms Needed

If You Have:                           Form or Schedule
Itemized deductionsSchedule A
More than $1,500 of interest or dividend incomeSchedule B
Business IncomeSchedule C or C-EZ & SE
Capital gains or lossesSchedule D
Income from rents, royalties, partnerships, estates, trusts, & S CorporationsSchedule E
Earned Income CreditSchedule EIC
Farm IncomeSchedule F, SE, J
Household employment taxesSchedule H
Real Estate taxes, new vehicle taxes, or disaster lossSchedule L
Making Work Pay Credit or Government Retiree CreditSchedule M
Credit for the elderly/disabledSchedule R
Self-Employment taxSchedule SE
Employee business expensesForm 2106 or 2106-EZ
Child or dependent care expensesForm 2441
Moving ExpensesForm 3903 or 3903-F
Farm Rental IncomeForm 4835
Tax on early distributionsForm 5329
Non-cash charitable contributionsForm 8283
A loss from a passive activityForm 8582
Unearned income of child under age 25Form 8615
Additional child tax creditForm 8812
Education creditForm 8863
Retirement savings contribution creditForm 8880

Monday, April 5, 2010

Favorite Games: Carcassonne

CarcassonneOne of my favorite games to play during grad school was Carcassonne. What? That doesn't sound like any map you ever played from Counter Strike? While I played plenty of Counter Strike, mostly so that I didn't end up as fodder for my friends when we had our LAN parties, I discovered my preference in gaming was actually board games. Carcassonne is an excellent board game to play with friends. It is not the American norm that we grew up with. I found it after my foray into European gaming. Carcassonne is a tile lying game - one where the playing board grows as the game progresses. You take turns laying new tiles that feature fields, castles, roads, etc. You play different 'meeples' that can farm, rob, or be knights to gain more points from the unfolding countryside.

To win at Carcassonne, you have to plan ahead and react to your opponents actions. Sometimes it can be difficult to know which player is going to win before the game ends and the points are added up. The player must take risks in going for larger point events or just scoop up easy rewards.

What can you learn from playing Carcassonne? Management and risks and dealing with threats or problems as they materialize.
Carcassonne - Princess and Dragon ExpansionYou are given eight little meeples that you can employ, one per turn, to use on roads, take control of castles, farm the countryside, or establish monasteries. With further expansions, you can build towers, evade dragons, and be a trader. As features like roads, castles, and monasteries are completed your meeple returns to you to be used again in another venture. Once placed as a farmer however, the meeple will stay on the board until game end. Sometimes you and your opponents can work together to accomplish the same goals, like finishing a castle because a finished castle provides twice the points than an unfinished one and returns your meeple to you for further use. Careful planning is necessary to make sure that you have enough meeples on hand to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. I have lost a game because all my meeples were placed on the board and an opportunity to score more points was effectively given to my opponent for my lack of meeples on hand.

Just like in the real world. Save up and keep cash on hand to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Commission Free ETF Expense Ratios from Fidelity

Naturally, we are creatures of habit. And we are familiar with the phrase, "if it ain't broke – don't fix it!"

Aston Martin DB9 Coupe Blue Diecast Car 1:18What would cause me to go to all the trouble then, of switching brokerages and switching my investments? That just seems like a lot of hassle. I learned some things. Specifically, I learned about the power of compounding and just how much money could be lost from my future retirement through owning expensive funds. Forbes March issue illustrated this point by comparing the difference of expense ratios between EEM (0.78%) and VWO(0.27%).

"Spend half a percentage point a year too much managing your money and you will, with compounding, drain away 14% after 30 years. If your ending stake would have been $1 million, you've wasted $140,000. You could get a nice car with that kind of money."

Pain is a powerful motivator. When the pain of the same is greater than the pain to change, new growth can occur. Below I have tabulated the expense ratios for the 25 iShares ETF's that Fidelity is offering commission free when you trade them online.


U.S. Equity Index Funds
Expense Ratio
S&P MidCap 400 Index
S&P MidCap 400 Value Index
S&P MidCap 400 Growth Index
S&P SmallCap 600 Index
S&P SmallCap 600 Value Index
S&P SmallCap 600 Growth
S&P 500 Value Index
S&P 500 Index
S&P 500 Growth Index
Russell 1000 Index
Russell 1000 Value Index
Russell 1000 Growth Index
Russell 2000 Index
Russell 2000 Value Index
Russell 2000 Growth Index
Russell 3000 Index


International Equity Funds
Expense Ratio
MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index
MSCI Emerging Markets Index


Fixed Income Funds
Expense Ratio
Barclays Aggregate Bond
Barclays TIPS Bond
iBoxx $ Invest Grade Corp Bond
JPMorgan USD Emerg Markets Bond
S&P National AMT-Free Muni Bd


Previous Personal Investments
Expense Ratio
Fidelity Growth & Income
Ivy Science & Technology A
Ivy Global Natural Resources A
Ivy Small Cap Growth A
Ivy Core Equity A


Morningstar ran an interesting article examining Fidelity's motive for offering commission free ETF trades.
Regardless, "if investors choose to use Fidelity's platform for both their "core" and "explore" portfolios using ETFs, it looks like investors will still be getting a great bargain."

Regardless of where you decide to invest it is important to remember that commission costs are a very important part of the investing equation.
GetRichSlowly had a guest post from Adam where he talks about how he keeps hanging on to his old bank even though he doesn't like it all that much. What does it take to make you change?

I think the answer to that question is when the pain of the same becomes greater than the pain of the change.

Take a look at your current investments and your current broker. Are you happy with either? Have you been fantasizing about a different brokerage? If so, then take a second to look at your current commission costs, expense ratios, customer service, etc. and run the calculations to find out which nice car you won't get to drive in retirement. It just might be the motivation you need.


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