20 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Man with empty wallet
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There are certain purchases that buyers tend to regret.

No, that doesn’t mean everyone: There are plenty of happy boat and hot tub owners out there, and surely more than a few people count their timeshare property as a true delight.

But when faced with one of the potential purchases listed here, take a breath and think seriously about the purchase.

10 Influential Money Lessons From Mom

Mother’s Day falls on May 12 this year. You haven’t forgotten, have you?

While you’re thinking about how best to thank Mom this year, consider some of the ways she helped marshal the family resources and taught you to save and spend money.

As a tribute to mothers everywhere, Money Talks News hit the streets to find out the top financial lessons people learned from their mothers.

Here’s what we heard people say about maternal money wisdom. Turns out, moms are a sensible bunch.

1. Spend less than you make

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That’s the advice Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s mom gave him. Given that he took it and ran with it, she gets credit for helping turn him into the personal finance expert he is today.

Her words of wisdom underscore the most basic truth of money management: If you spend more than you make, you’re headed down the path to debt, stress and maybe even bankruptcy court.

As Stacy explains in “How I Got a Perfect Credit Score in 4 Steps“:

“I’ve never paid a bill late. That’s not because I’ve always been wealthy and it’s not because I’ve never lost a job, gotten divorced or otherwise experienced financial catastrophe. The secret? Spending less than you make. Do this, and you’ll automatically create a cash cushion that will come in handy when push inevitably comes to shove.”

2. Borrow only as a last resort

"Say no to debt" is written in a notebookConstantin Stanciu / Shutterstock.com

Stacy’s mom also advised him never to borrow unless absolutely necessary.

Getting a mortgage may be unavoidable in the modern world — and, even then, you should compare rates so you don’t spend too much — but we doubt Ma Johnson would approve of going into debt for a big-screen TV.

3. Save for a rainy day

A child adds coins to a piggy bankDONOT6_STUDIO / Shutterstock.com

Moms often suggest saving for a rainy day. One day, it’s going to pour.

Be ready for those emergencies by having a dedicated savings account, preferably a high-yield savings account. If you’re squeaking by financially, start by pinching pennies and work your way up.

Eventually, you’ll want to have enough in the bank to cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

4. Graduate

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Moms want their kids to do better than they did. When we asked Money Talks News readers for their moms’ money advice, “Njmom” wrote that her mother told her:

“Get a good education and be independent so you don’t have to put up with the crap I have to.”

Education can be an excellent investment: The average high school graduate earned a median $730 per week in 2018, compared with $1,198 for college graduates and $1,825 for people with doctoral degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

7 Cheap Ways to Avoid Mosquitoes

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Forget about snakes, sharks and crocodiles. There’s a bigger — and yet, significantly smaller — predator in town: the mosquito.

Many people consider mosquitoes to be a mere nuisance. But the blood-sucking insects are actually among the most lethal pests on the planet, responsible for millions of deaths each year from the diseases they carry. According to the World Health Organization:

“In 2015 malaria alone caused 438,000 deaths. The worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, and more countries are reporting their first outbreaks of the disease. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.”

The health risk also appears to be growing in the U.S. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cases of disease linked to mosquitoes, ticks and fleas had more than tripled in the country since 2004. The CDC attributed the rise to increased global travel and trade, environmental changes and a lack of prevention efforts.

Chances are, a mosquito bite or two won’t land you in the ICU. But at the very least, the itchy bites are sure to bug you. Here, we’ve identified seven smart and inexpensive ways to send those hungry pests packing.

5 Ways to Take a Memorable Family Vacation for Less Than $1,000

If you can come up with $1,000, you can definitely treat your family to a nice vacation this year.

We’ve pulled together a list of five ways to have fun on a tight travel budget.

Of course, how far you travel is a major factor, and one of your biggest expenses may be the cost of getting to your destination. That’s one reason Hawaii will likely never be an affordable vacation destination — unless you already live there.

So, look for a travel spot that has cheap flights or is within driving distance, and then try one of these options.

1. Camp (or glamp) across the country

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Camping seems to stir mixed feelings. For some people, it makes them think of dirt, sunburns and awkward summer camp experiences. Others equate camping with adventure, tranquility and an opportunity to unplug.

If you fall into the first category, don’t rule out camping altogether.

Today, you can stay in modern cabins at national parks or in RVs at private campgrounds that are outfitted with resort-like amenities. This form of luxury camping, aka “glamping,” will cost more than pitching a tent, but it can still be an affordable way to vacation.

Some destinations to consider:

2. Explore the Midwest

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If you want a big-city vacation, skip the coasts and look to the Midwest instead. The cost of living is typically lower in this region, so your money will go further than it would in New York City or Los Angeles.

Chicago, of course, is the biggest city in the Midwest, and it’s also among the most expensive in the region. So, instead of following the crowd, look for a midsized city that combines a vibrant downtown scene along with a mix of arts and cultural events.

Midwest towns may have the reputation of being a bit vanilla, but don’t let the stereotype fool you. Depending on which state and city you visit, the region has award-winning chefs, countless craft breweries, art museums, zoos, long sandy beaches and more.

Some destinations to consider:

3. Do a house swap

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After getting there, your next biggest expense while vacationing is likely staying there — wherever “there” may be.

Save money by finding a place to stay for free. You could try mooching some free accommodations from a friend, but a house swap may be a better way to keep both your finances and friendships intact.

You could arrange a house swap on your own through Craigslist or a travel message board, but a house swapping website or club may offer you additional protection. These sites may vet users and provide reviews of potential swap partners.

Using a website or club is more expensive than arranging a swap on your own, but the peace of mind is likely worth the annual or monthly fee. Still, do your research before deciding on a home swap vacation, and tuck away your valuables if strangers will be staying in your house.

If house swapping isn’t for you, check out “10 Ways to Score Free Lodging for Your Next Vacation.”

Some websites to try:

4. Take a low-cost cruise

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Just because some cruises are expensive doesn’t mean all cruises are expensive.

If you’re flexible and don’t mind booking at the last minute, you can get some deep discounts. On the flip side, if you want to be able to get your choice of cabin at a decent price, booking well in advance might be advisable.

Once you find a cheap cruise, keep your vacation affordable by understanding how much you will have to pay for on-ship amenities. Limit paid beverages, skip high-priced excursion options and focus on the free or low-cost entertainment found on the boat or on the shore.

Some websites to try:

5. Go almost anywhere in the off-season or ‘shoulder season’

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You can get a deal at countless destinations if you’re willing to travel in the off-season.

However, the off-season might not be ideal for you. Maybe the weather at your destination is more likely to be unsatisfactory or maybe the off-season conflicts with your kids’ school schedule. In that case, look to book a vacation during a “shoulder season” — the month before or after the peak travel season for the destination.

The discounts won’t be as deep as you’d get in the off-season, but you’ll still pay less for lodging, have fewer crowds to fight and probably get decent weather.

Some destinations to consider:

Where do you go for a cheap vacation? Leave a comment below or head to our Facebook page to share your favorite affordable destination.

11 Money Moves You Need to Make in Your 60s — and Beyond

Investing in your 60s is a time of transition. No longer are you focused on growing your retirement funds. Now, it’s time to crack into that nest egg.

So, you need to change your investment strategy. The idea is to withdraw enough to help you get by while holding enough in reserve to finance the rest of your life.

Here are 11 pointers:

1. Estimate how long your savings must last

Sand running through hourglass

Sand running through hourglass
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You can’t plan effectively without an idea of how long your money should last.

Of course you can’t know how long you’ll live, so we’re talking about estimating the longest you might live, so you won’t run out of money too soon.

A 65-year-old woman can expect to live to nearly 87, and a man who is that age can anticipate living until 84, says the Social Security Administration, whose Life Expectancy Calculator gives a rough idea of expected lifespans.

2. Calculate annual expenses

List of expenses

List of expenses
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To plan your finances in retirement, you’ll need specific spending data, not estimates. If you budget and have tracked your spending, you’ve got the data you need. If not, start now.

Automatic tracking is simple with tools like those provided by Money Talks News’ partner You Need a Budget. But a notebook or spreadsheet also will do — as long as you keep it up.

After tracking for a few months, you’ll begin to see where your money’s going and can decide how much to withdraw from investments.

3. Fully fund emergency savings

Life ring in sand

Life ring in sand
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Keeping a cushion of savings in cash or short-term CDs lets you ride out market downturns without selling stocks at low valuations. Some experts advise having a big enough emergency fund to support yourself for 18 months to two years.

4. Plan your withdrawals

Senior man at writing desk.

Senior man at writing desk.
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Retirees need a system for regular cash withdrawals. For example, one popular system suggests withdrawing 4% of your initial savings balance each year, then adjusting that amount annually for inflation.

The 4% rule is not ironclad, but it does provide a framework. The key is to adopt a system, then adjust it as necessary.

5. Seek safety

Construction safety gear

Construction safety gear
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How much you keep in CDs, bonds and high-yield savings accounts depends somewhat on how much safety you require. Intelligent risk is necessary with part of your investments if you don’t want inflation to erode your portfolio’s value.

Many retirees follow this rule of thumb (called the “glide-path” rule):

  • Subtract your age from 100. The resulting number is the percentage of your investments you should hold in stocks.
  • Invest the remaining amount in bonds and money market funds.

If you’re 70, for example, keep 30% of your portfolio in stocks — including mutual funds and ETFs — and the remaining 70% in bonds.

Does this rule provide enough growth to keep a portfolio going strong? Experts disagree.

If you also have doubts, find a fee-only financial planner and discuss a plan that makes sense for you. A service like Wealthramp can help you locate a great adviser.

6. Don’t neglect growth

Person watering potted plants

Person watering potted plants
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The other end of the retirement seesaw is the need to grow your nest egg, at least a little.

Unless you have so much money that you don’t need to worry about inflation, you’ll need some growth investments. Usually, that means individual stocks, mutual funds and/or ETFs.

Learn more about investing in “10 Tips for Sane, Successful Stock Investing.”

7. Plan for required minimum distributions

Money

Money
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After age 70 ½, the Internal Revenue Service requires savers to begin taking minimum annual withdrawals from some tax-deferred accounts, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s.

These minimum withdrawal amounts are calculated by the IRS based on life expectancy and account balances. The IRS rules are specific and inflexible about how much to withdraw and when. Ignore them, and you could face stiff IRS penalties.

8 Things Retirees Can Get for Next to Nothing

Senior woman in gym

Senior woman in gym
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Growing older has its advantages. As time passes, you get a little wiser. After retiring, you have more free time to channel that wisdom into doing the things you enjoy.

Even better, all that fun often can be had at a steep discount. There are many ways for seniors to get cheap — and even free — entertainment and services.

Some of these offers are available based on age or income, while others are open to everyone — even those who have yet to reach their golden years!

Following are some things seniors can get for almost nothing.

7 Tips for Getting the Best Deal on a New Roof

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Buying a new roof isn’t cheap. The average national cost of replacing a roof is $7,633, with most homeowners spending between $5,203 and $10,119, according to data from HomeAdvisor.

Costs vary depending on where you live, the type of materials you use and whether or not you have other home improvement work that needs to take place alongside the roof replacement. Following are seven steps to getting a good deal on keeping a solid roof over your head.

1. Get an inspection

Getting a roof inspector to look at your roof with an expert and unbiased eye could save you from spending more than you need to.

Getting a roof inspector to look at your roof with an expert and unbiased eye could save you from spending more than you need to.
Mike Focus / Shutterstock.com

Unless there’s a glaring problem, it might be difficult to spot exactly what’s going on with your roof. You might see that a few tiles were blown off in a windstorm or notice a leak, but those observations only tell a small part of the story.

If you really want to know what’s going on, hiring a roof inspector can be a good investment. HomeAdvisor says you’ll pay an average of $203 for an inspection.

An inspection can help you determine whether you really need a new roof — or can simply repair the roof you have. Roofing companies can also make this assessment, but you will have to be confident that you will get an unbiased opinion, as they might have an interest in selling you a new roof.

2. Find out if the roof is under warranty

You may find that your roof is covered by an existing warranty.

You may find that your roof is covered by an existing warranty.
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If you have recently purchased the home, look at whether the existing roof is still under warranty. You might have received that information upon purchasing the house. If not, try to get in touch with the people from whom you purchased the home, or review any repair records.

If your home is new, you might also have some coverage under a new-home warranty. The Federal Trade Commission offers guidelines on how such warranties typically work.

In addition to warranties, you might also want to look at the local bylaws of your housing association. For example, if you live in a townhouse community, your housing association might actually be responsible for replacing the roof.

3. Decide whether to repair or replace

Do your homework to make an informed decision about whether your roof can be repaired or needs to be replaced.

Do your homework to make an informed decision about whether your roof can be repaired or needs to be replaced.
ND700 / Shutterstock.com

Assuming you don’t have any warranty coverage, you’ll need to decide whether to repair or replace the roof. Calculate how near the roof is to its natural “end of life.” You should be able to get that information from your roof inspector or the warranty information.

If the roof still has 10 or 15 years left in it, and the cost of the repairs is relatively inexpensive, it might be worth doing a repair. Just make sure you’re not throwing money at a temporary fix to a problem that soon will require a complete replacement.

Money Moves You Must Make in Your 50s

Your 50s are a pivotal decade. You are near enough to retirement to feel its hot breath on your neck, and that can be a good thing.

It sharpens your focus at a time when you may still have 10 or 15 years of work left, so there’s time to fatten your savings and watch the money grow.

If children finally are on their own, household expenses are lighter than they have been in decades. Rather than spend this freed-up money, sock away savings and pay off debt, which will bring you closer to the retirement you hoped for.

Following are some critical financial moves to make in your 50s.

1. Map out your strategy


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Spend a weekend gathering your financial information — savings, investments and other assets as well as your debts and bills. Then, map out your strategy for retirement.

Seeing all of the details of your finances and setting goals for your life beyond work will expose any gap between your plans and savings. It will also spur you to close that gap while you still can.

2. Meet with a fee-only financial planner


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This is a good moment to make sure you haven’t missed any crucial piece of planning. Even people who comfortably manage their own investments can profit from one or two meetings with a fee-only financial planner.

It’s important that the person you see charges an hourly fee with no commissions or products to sell, so he or she can objectively review your numbers, assumptions and plans. For more pointers, check out “3 Steps to Finding the Perfect Financial Adviser.”

3. Use retirement calculators — with caution


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Online retirement calculators are a good, if inexact, way to estimate the monthly or annual income you’ll receive from savings and other sources.

Two problems with calculators: They require you to make impossible guesses about the future rate of return on your investments, and sometimes they fail to accurately account for taxes.

Because of these issues, it’s a good idea to play around with several different calculators. One respected calculator is ESPlannerBASIC, a free tool created by Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and the president of Economic Security Planning Inc.

Other calculators include:

4. Supercharge savings


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If life’s demands have made it hard to save for retirement, your 50s offer a good chance to catch up.

Shoot for saving 20% of your income. If that’s too big a change, choose a lower percentage to start with and then increase it over time.

5. Maximize retirement plan contributions


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If your employer matches a portion of your workplace retirement plan contributions, take advantage of the free money — no matter your age. If your employer matches up to 3%, for example, save at least 3% to capture that gift.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service has special rules designed to encourage older savers to ramp up their savings for retirement. For example, savers age 50 and older may contribute an additional $6,000 to their 401(k) plan — or an extra $1,000 to an IRA — in 2019.

6. Decide whether to pay off your mortgage


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Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says that putting money in a tax-deferred retirement account often offers a better return than putting that money toward paying down a mortgage faster.

At the same time, you can’t discount the psychological value of owning your home free and clear in retirement. For a closer look at the pros and cons, read: “Ask Stacy: Should I Save More for Retirement or Pay Down My Mortgage?

8 Signs That You Should Leave Retirement

Senior business leader

Senior business leader
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After spending decades in the workplace, retirement may sound attractive, but many people develop second thoughts soon after leaving their jobs.

Just because someone is 65 or older doesn’t mean they’re ready to stop working. Some people miss their workplace colleagues and the income that came from holding a job. They also may discover that it was their profession that gave their life meaning.

“If you’re an energetic person who wants to feel alive, you’re not going to feel happy sitting back and watching TV in retirement,” said Liliane Choney, executive director of ReVisions Resources, a nonprofit organization that helps seniors live independently.

If you’re motivated and in good health, returning to work may be the right thing to do. Here are eight ways to tell when it’s time to unretire.

Don’t Take a Job Unless the Employer Offers These 14 Perks


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Job guides and websites will often publish lists of what employers are looking for in the workers they hire. But let’s turn that around: What are employees looking for in an employer?

Some would say that it doesn’t matter, that workers are stuck taking whatever their bosses hand out. But in reality, you probably have more power than you think.

Just about everyone wants a fatter paycheck, of course. But there are plenty of other valuable things that a good employer can offer. So, the next time you hunt for a job, keep an eye out for these 14 things employees want from their employers.