One New Year’s Resolution You Don’t Have to Keep to Be a Winner

Making a resolution to improve your finances puts you several steps closer along the road to a better bottom line, based on data from Fidelity Investments’ eighth annual “New Year Financial Resolutions Study.” Looking for a resolution that will pay off and pay dividends?  Simply resolving to pay more attention to your finances improves the chances that your financial health will improve.

According to the Fidelity study, 45 percent of individuals who reported making financial resolutions at the start of 2016 were more debt-free at the end, compared with 34 percent of individuals who did not report making any financial resolutions within the past year. In addition, those who made financial resolutions were more likely to say they felt financially secure compared to those who didn’t make resolutions (45 percent vs. 34 percent).

Kids Willing to Step Up to Help Aging Parents, Study Finds

Do you wonder if your kids will have your back when you’re older? Apparently the answer is a surprising yes.

That’s the good news in a conversation many people are having these days — around aging parents — that comes courtesy of the third biennial “Fidelity Investments Family & Finance Study.” Less heartening is that nearly 4 in 10 families seem to be suffering from what can only be described as — hats off to “Cool Hand Luke” for this — a failure to communicate.

Family vacation at the beach

Let’s start by paying homage to at least certain offspring and giving them their due credit:

Retirement Readiness Improves from Generation to Generation

personal retirement score online Are people becoming more savvy about ensuring their retirement won’t be like something out of the “Hunger Games?”

Perhaps.

Two years ago, Fidelity Investments (fidelity.com) created a unique way of measuring not only how close working Americans are to meeting their post-retirement expenses, but also how different generations — Baby Boomers, Gen Exers, and Gen Yers — compare to one another. The one stand-out back then was Boomers.

Now that same measure, the Retirement Preparedness Measure (RPM), is signaling more widespread improvement — due in large part to what John Sweeney, Fidelity’s executive vice president of retirement and investment strategies, ascribes to “across-the-board savings, and investments being allocated in a more age-appropriate way.”

Employees Seek Out Benefits Packages With More Perks

Closeup of a female medical professional wearing scrubs taking notes on a tablet computer. Horizontal format on a light to dark gray background. Woman is unrecognizable.

As consumers are asked to assume more health care costs than in the past, it’s important to consider benefits packages that offer more holistic support besides the usual health, dental and vision policies. Consumers should know that there are plans available today that will promote their overall well-being, which includes physical, mental and financial health.

Luckily, many employers see the need for robust benefits offerings, with some incorporating new solutions to meet increased employee demand for more from their benefits provider. In fact, 34 percent of employers surveyed in a Towers Watson study indicated they already offer more customization with voluntary benefits. Companies like Aflac are expanding services, ranging from credit monitoring to supplemental accident benefits to helping provide employees and their families with financial protection.

Despite Calls For Regulation, Uber Surge Pricing Continues

SurgePricingCBuyer beware! ’Tis the season for scourge pricing! Also known as “surge pricing” to everyone but its critics, you’ll know this is happening by the shriek of surprise almost anyone — including the rich — hailing a car through app-based services like Uber and Lyft emits after being hit with a fare that on busy New Year’s Eve ran as high as nearly 10 times the norm in some cities.

Study Finds Millennials Are Determined to Lessen Kids’ College Debt

Saving4CollegeCPoor parents of college-bound kids.

According to the just-released 9th annual national “College Saving Indicator Study” conducted by Fidelity Investments, while more parents are putting away money to finance their children’s college education — 69 percent nationwide, up 5 percent from last year — they’re still on track to save just 27 percent of their stated goals by the start of freshman year.

Even the most severely math-challenged can see what’s described as “the challenge ahead” implied by these numbers: $232 (the median monthly amount parents report saving) and $31, 231 (the current average annual cost of tuition and fees at private colleges).

How Much Does Your Spouse Really Earn?

SpouseIncomeIf you think you know everything there is to know about your spouse or significant other — especially when it comes to money — you may want to think again.

According to Fidelity Investments’ new “2015 Couples Retirement Study,” while the overwhelming majority of couples surveyed said they communicate “exceptionally well,” or “very well,” about financial matters, a whopping 43 percent couldn’t correctly identify how much their partner earned — up 16 percentage points from the last time the question was asked two years ago. And 10 percent of those in the dark were off by $25,000 when they tried guessing.

To Sell or Not to Sell Your Structured Settlement?

StructuredSettlementCAt the time, it may have sounded like a good idea — forgoing a large, lump sum payout from an auto accident or other life event (tax implications come to mind) and instead, opting for small periodic payments over months or years. Or, maybe your son or daughter was born with a birth defect that could have been prevented, a pharmaceutical company was found liable, and you wanted to ensure the money would be there to care for her for decades.

For whatever reason, now things have changed, and you’ve decided that the “structured settlement,” as it’s called, is no longer going to work for you.

Know Your Money: What to Do With Your Old 401(k)

DoWith401kCCongrats on landing that new job! Or maybe you’ve “moved on to other opportunities.” One thing you need to consider: what to do with your old 401(k).

It is estimated there are approximately 15 million “orphan” accounts left behind when employees leave an old job, because of either inertia or plain confusion over strict rules for moving the money. And since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t allow any dawdling over a key decision—you’ve got 60 days to relocate the money into a different account if you withdraw even a dime—here’s a rundown of your options to avoid what could be a costly mistake:

Website Provides One-Stop Shopping for Life Insurance

ShoppingLifeInsuranceShopping for life insurance is never easy. You typically have to divulge personal information that would make your best friend blush. But it’s also a necessary evil if you don’t want to leave your family destitute when you die.

Unlike some travel websites, however, that offer a variety of quotes from different vendors, there isn’t one-stop shopping for life insurance. In fact, you typically can’t even get a quote until you (begrudgingly) supply the information needed, and even then the actual cost isn’t divulged to you until a salesman calls you back—repeatedly and often—typically trying to sell you more insurance than you may need.