Loans can be a convenient source of financing when you don’t have cash to spare. If you’re in your 20s or early 30s, odds are you may be juggling several different types of loans.

According to a 2016 Gallup poll:

35% of millennials have student loan debt

30% are paying down a car loan

23% have a personal loan

47% are carrying credit card debt

If you fall into any of these categories and are conflicted about whether you are managing your debt effectively, there’s no need to panic. Here are two practical ways to manage your debt so that you can build a brighter financial future.

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Waiting until just before April 15 to start thinking about your taxes may prove to be a costly mistake. Advance tax planning is especially important if your circumstances have changed over the past year due to events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member.

Deferring income into the next tax year and accelerating deductions into the current year can reduce your adjusted gross income (AGI). Lowering your AGI could make you eligible for certain tax breaks that phase out at higher income levels, such as personal exemptions and education credits. Now that the tax reform has passed, here are some strategies that may help you trim your tax bill:

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This Halloween, when you open the door, you may find Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, or the X-Men standing outside looking for tasty treats. Or, you may find characters you don’t recognize at all! Keeping up with pop culture is no easy task. This year, watch for:

  • Anime characters: If you’re not a fan of Japanese anime comic books, graphic novels, or video games, you may not recognize Chibi Moon or Uzumaki when they appear at your door.
  • Steampunk characters: Steampunk culture shows what the digital age would look like if it had happened 100 years ago.

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Last month we wrote about American’s vulnerability to the growing threat of SPAM in your emails, and the historically unfavorable returns of August and September. On September 7th, Equifax decided to layer another level of doom to our readers when the company announced that 143 million American’s information, including social security and driver’s license numbers, had been stolen by hackers. This is the largest threat to personally sensitive information in years, and the third successful hack into Equifax in 2017 alone.

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From the title, you may be thinking about the iconic American meat that arrives in a rectangular 12-ounce tin (and is inexplicably popular in certain island states and American territories). However, your true worry should focus on the “spam” that arrives digitally as email, text, and social media messages.

The latter type of ‘spam’ took its name from the former. You may be familiar with a sketch from the 1970’s movie, Monty Python. The performance introduced a café that offered Spam in almost every dish, much to the dismay of a customer whose palette did not favor the processed meat.

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It’s been a busy year in Washington D.C. with a mixed view on accomplishments. Next on the agenda, Congress is beginning its shift (for the time being) to tax reform; lower taxes are expected to create improvements in the economy by increasing the rate of money flow (how fast it changes hands). On the surface, tax-reform has a good vibe and theoretically puts more money in consumer’s pockets. Granted, personal consumption expenditures represent 70 percent of gross domestic product, but journalists should know from Econ 101 that GDP only measures the value of final output. It deliberately leaves out a big chunk of the economy—intermediate production or goods-in-process at the commodity, manufacturing, and wholesale stages—to avoid double counting. We calculated total spending (sales or receipts) in the economy at all stages to be more than double GDP (using gross business receipts compiled annually by the IRS). By this measure—which we have dubbed gross domestic expenditures, or GDE—consumption represents only about 30 percent of the economy, while business investment (including intermediate output) represents over 50 percent.

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When making a sizeable donation as a direct gift, you know exactly how much you can afford to give and how it will affect your overall finances, but you may wish you could do more. If so, charitable trusts and annuities provide ways for you to make a major charitable donation while simultaneously receiving reimbursements that can help provide financial security.

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When economic data is good and consumer confidence reaches its highest level since 2001, U.S. equities have momentum on their side.  Last week the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.7% as the ISM non-manufacturing index showed that business activity and employment trends are improving.  As the economy improves, the Federal Reserve will likely move interest rates higher later this month. Investors are cheering this environment but we believe equity markets have gotten ahead of themselves.

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Heading into the election, headlines pontificated a huge sell-off (following a Trump win). Stocks closed at record highs last Friday, with gains of 0.5% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 0.4% for the S&P 500, and 0.3% for the Nasdaq Composite.  Year-to-date gains are now 6.5% for the Nasdaq, 3.5% for the S&P 500 and 2.6% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Equity markets have rallied since the election, leaving some question whether markets have come too far, too fast.  Even worse, are stocks in a bubble?

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