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7 Debunked Myths About Mortgages

Guest post by Diana Fishlock for  Diana Fishlock has researched and written articles on a wide variety of subjects for newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. She lives near Harrisburg, PA and writes for Zillow. Securing a mortgage can be a daunting, confusing process for first-time home buyers as well as experienced homeowners considering moving or buying a second home. There are lots of myths and misconceptions about mortgages, such as who qualifies and what makes a good one. Myth 1: Prequalified means preapproved. Reality: Prequalifying for a mortgage and being preapproved are two different steps. Prequalifying is a lot simpler. It requires informing a lender about debts, income and assets in a general sense. Prequalifying helps buyers loosely determine their affordable price ranges. For preapproval, a buyer must submit to the lender much more detailed information, including a financial history. The lender then verifies the borrower’s debt-to-income […]

Following Up on the 1% More Initiative

As a followup to the 1% More initiative that we had going on in November, I was recently interviewed by one of the participants, Steve Stewart, who blogs over at Money Plan SOS.  Steve recorded the whole thing on a Money Plan SOS podcast, which you can listen to by clicking the link.  He also has a written summary of our conversation for your reading pleasure. Thanks go out to Steve, and all of the other folks who took time to write and record posts in support of the “1% More” initiative!  We reached something on the order of 170,000 blog readers, over 10,000 Twitter followers, and many, many other readers.  Hopefully we have made a dent in the problem!

Smoke, Mirrors, and Alphabet Soup

In an environment of Ponzi schemes and financial scandals many Americans have lost trust and confidence in the financial profession; seems like there are some financial advisers that have been helping themselves, more than their clients. To fight back against this trend of lost trust and skepticism, advisors are being more creative with credentials, some of which can be earned with minimal or no study and can be bought with a couple hundred dollars. A quick look at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s web site (FINRA) ( shows over one hundred and twenty different credentials being used by advisors to build creditability and trust.  I’m sure there are many more not tracked by FINRA. Professional certifications arose decades ago as a way for people in various industries to identify qualified practitioners. It’s always good to know that our doctor has an MD or our account is a CPA. In the […]

New Book: “Can I Retire?”

My friend Mike Piper at Oblivious Investor recently published a new book Can I Retire? Managing a Retirement Portfolio Explained in 100 Pages or Less. The book is available for sale on Amazon. As the latest addition to Mike’s “…in 100 Pages or Less” series, this book answers two questions: How much money will you need to retire? How should you manage your retirement portfolio to minimize the risk of outliving your money? What Makes This Book Unique? How does this book hope to be better than, for example, The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning or Jim Otar’s Unveiling the Retirement Myth? It doesn’t. It’s not better. It’s shorter. Can I Retire? is written for the person who might not be able to find the time to read Otar’s entire 525-page book or the 370-page Bogleheads’ Guide. If you’re considering reading a more in-depth guide to retirement planning, I wholeheartedly […]

What Does A Fidelity Target Date (Freedom) Fund Invest In?

Note from Jim:  I’m on vacation this week – hope you enjoy the following post from my friend and colleague, Roger Wohlner, CFP® who writes at the blog Chicago Financial Planner.  Roger operates his Fee-Only financial planning practice out of Arlington Heights, Illinois. Fidelity is one of the largest providers of 401(k) plans and like many fund company platforms it is common for their plan sponsor clients to offer several or all of Fidelity’s Target Date funds known as the Fidelity Freedom funds. These funds have target dates from 2005 every five years out to 2050 with an even shorter-term Retirement Income fund. The premise behind these and other Target Date funds is that a plan participant will choose a fund with a date close to when he or she might retire, invest their contributions and let the fund manager do the rest. The funds typically lighten up on equity […]

The Importance of a Fiduciary Standard of Care

Today, my friend and colleague, Steven Young, CFP®, has graciously provided a guest post, giving us his thoughts on the fiduciary standard of care.  Steven operates his Fee-Only financial planning firm, Steven Young Financial Planning, out of Springfield, Missouri. A fiduciary is required by law to act in his or her client’s best interest at all times.  What you may not know is that the vast majority of those who call themselves “financial advisors” or “financial planners” are not actually subject to a fiduciary obligation. Under current rules, advisors who are compensated by commissions on the sale of financial products are subject to a lesser standard known as the “suitability rule.”  This regulatory hurdle requires only that the product sold be appropriate for the client (in other words, not too risky) at the time of sale.  In fact, these “advisors” can now sell you products that pay them bigger commissions, […]