Sunday Refresh

Don't Make My 401(k) Mistake

Don't be like me (Amanda).

About six years ago, I left a job at another publishing company. At the time, I didn't understand much about investing or retirement planning, and foolishly thought I'd just lose my 401(k) retirement plan.

Will a Snowball or an Avalanche Help You the Most?

One of the most common questions I (Laura) get is...

What is the best way to get rid of credit-card debt?

Are You One in Eight?

Think of eight women in your life... at least one of them is likely to get breast cancer in her lifetime.

Those are terrible odds.

How to Profit From Your Health Care Plan

The average American household spends more than $800 a month on health insurance.

That number doesn't include additional expenses like copays and deductibles. One study from the Commonwealth Fund found that the average family spends 10% of its wealth on health insurance. That's up from 6.5% 10 years ago.

The rising costs of coverage has pushed people to choose health care plans with even higher deductibles to save on the monthly cost.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of Americans have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). But if you have a medical emergency, you could be on the line for $1,000 or more in costs before you meet your deductible.

So today, we'll explain how to put aside money for emergencies and take advantage of a loophole that allows you to profit from your health care plan.

HDHPs are one of three main health insurance plans. The other two are health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs).

Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) offer local plans that focus on in-network providers. That means they have specific doctors, specialists, and hospitals they work with. They've worked with the insurance plan to offer reduced rates in exchange for getting more patients through the insurance company.

Welcome to the Jungle

No one taught me (Laura) about finance in school...

Unless you count the one day in eighth grade when my home economics teacher showed the class how to fill out a check.

Add This 'Useless' Task to Your To-Do List Now

"Why are you writing a will?"

That was the reaction when I (Laura) told my friends and family that I was writing my will.

Yes, There Are Good Lawyers... And You Need One

The best gift I (Amanda) ever received sounds morbid...

A few years ago, my husband's grandmother paid for us to have our wills, advanced directives, and powers of attorney drawn up by a lawyer.

Stress Less, Live More: Four Ways to Improve in 2018

Stress is all around us.

Recently, we heard from an old friend who walked away from a successful 20-year sales career because the stress gave her severe stomach ulcers. Her health literally deteriorated from the high-stress environment.

And she isn't an isolated case... Stress is on the rise in America. We see it in the constant barrage of bad news, our obsession with keeping up with the neighbors, and in the increasingly long hours we work.

The truth is, people tend to overlook stress. We're too busy to take care of ourselves. We've even heard people outright scoff at the idea of taking time for self-care.

Here's the thing... stress has a massive effect on both your investing ability and your health.

Investing is inherently stressful. That's because we fear losing money. Originally the fear center of our brain kept us safe from dangers like predators and fire. Today it registers fear in losing money... because money ensures our security and safety. That causes many investors to buy or sell at the wrong time. That means you're likely to lose too much or give up bigger gains.

And as in the case of our friend with the ulcers, stress also causes health problems. Stress wreaks havoc on your sleep, and studies have linked it to the buildup of arterial plaque (which leads to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke). Stress also increases your risk of diabetes and even suppresses your immune system, which leaves you vulnerable to illnesses.

The scary part... in a report from the National Council on Compensation of Insurance, it states up to 90% of all primary care visits are due to a "stress-related complaint." Other studies put the figure at 75% – which is still too high. That's why getting a handle on stress – no matter the source – is so important.


Overcoming Your Biggest Character Flaw

My biggest character flaw is a lack of confidence.

It's haunted me throughout my life, but it really came to the forefront recently while talking to my co-editor, Laura Bente. We're similar in age, job security, and lifestyle, yet we have wildly different views on investing risk. I lean moderately conservative while Laura is more aggressive. And her returns are much better for it.

The Biggest Financial Mistake You Can Make

About 59 million Americans are making the biggest mistake possible when it comes to finance... They turn down free money.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that about 79% of Americans work for a company that offers a 401(k) retirement savings account, but only 41% of these people participate.