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Personal Finance

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Quickly

May 17th, 2013

While the best advice from most is to avoid it, sometimes incurring a hefty credit card debt becomes an unavoidable fact of life for many people. When faced with credit card debt paying it off quickly should become one’s key financial goal. This is because the interest rates on almost any credit card will be
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How to Fire Your Financial Advisor

April 15th, 2013

Years ago, there was a television show called Caroline in the City, where the lead character was never any good at ending relationships. In one episode, she couldn’t bring herself to change dry cleaners—no matter how many valuable pieces of clothing were ruined—until he died (and, at that, she gave the eulogy at his funeral).
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Questions to Ask Financial Advisor References

April 15th, 2013

In Interview Questions for a Financial Planners, Interview Questions a Broker, and Interview Questions for Money Managers there are questions that may be specific to a particular specialty. But no matter which kind of advisor you are hiring, here is the general information that you want to get from references and why the responses will
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How to Get the Most Information Out of Financial Advisor References

April 15th, 2013

When you ask for references, don’t expect to be given the names of the last five clients who walked through the door — a measure that might provide some objectivity — but rather the names of good customers or volunteer praise-singers. Assume you are about to talk with people who are in the advisor’s corner.
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Financial Advisors Require More than a Simple Referral

April 15th, 2013

The late Dr. Harry Clark Noyes, a psychologist who examined consumer behavior for his New York firm Psychological Motivations, said there are plenty of people who generate good references from customers despite mediocre results. “Some people re-sell themselves when they give a referral,” Noyes said, “They list the attributes of someone to you, and they
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Good Referrals for Financial Advisors Can Go Bad

April 15th, 2013

Even if the referral is honest and true, it still may not deliver the right person for you. Think of it in terms of interior decorators. Your mother may have a lovely home, but it might not be your style and taste; when she refers you to her decorator, it’s entirely possible that you wind
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Are References and Referrals a Conflict of Interest?

April 15th, 2013

In 1988, I was named business editor at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I needed to make as many contacts as possible quickly in the business community. So I started networking, meeting with the top executives in the Lehigh Valley area and, at those meetings, asking for introductions and ideas on who else
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Building the Relationship with Your Real Estate Agent

April 15th, 2013

My parents could have started working with an agent long before they were ready to sell the home. Over the years, they had heard from several agents offering them a free market analysis, and they had talked with their friend about how they looked forward to working with her someday (now that it didn’t work
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Interview Questions for Real Estate Agents

April 15th, 2013

If you are picking an agent to sell your home, the interview should occur at home, or at least after the agent has seen the property. Invite several agents to do a comparative market analysis. Even if you have no intention of moving and simply want advice and the chance to start a relationship, a
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Finding the Right Real Estate Agent Candidates to Interview

April 15th, 2013

With real estate agents, very little works better than word of mouth, or driving around and seeing who handles a lot of listings in the areas that appeal to you. But there is also nothing wrong with going to the national organizations, or their local or regional chapters, to find a referral, particularly if you
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The Real Estate Differences between Full-Service, Discount, or “For Sale by Owner”

April 15th, 2013

Between doing it yourself and paying full freight for an agent, there are discount real estate brokerages where, effectively, an agent puts you into the Multi-List and you do virtually everything else. That may be a bit harsh, but you get limited services, most revolving around the marketing of the house, and then you do
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Working with a Buyer Broker Real Estate Agent

April 15th, 2013

With a buyer broker, you sign a contract that says you will not look for a house with any other agent for a specific period of time. The buyer broker comes to you with appropriate listings and handles every part of the negotiation, including bidding strategy. Many also help clients search for the best available
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Representing Yourself when Buying a Home

April 15th, 2013

For homebuyers, the issue of going it alone is a bit different. There is no drawback to scouring the newspaper, finding the right home, and making appointments on your own. You can get online access to most listings — even those in the MLS — and you get to see the for-sale-by-owner homes (which an
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Can I Be My Own Real Estate Agent?

April 15th, 2013

The law doesn’t require that an agent be involved in the purchase or sale of a home, and there is good reason to believe you can do just fine on your own if you have the right home in the right location and under the right market conditions. But unless all of those things are
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Interviewing a Real Estate Agent

April 15th, 2013

In 2009, in the middle of a horrible real estate market and a terrible economic downturn, my parents put their home of 40 years up for sale. They had said for years that they knew who their real estate agent would be when the time came; in fact, the woman was a family friend whom
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What to Do After Hiring a Lawyer?

April 15th, 2013

Once you have engaged a lawyer and taken care of your current needs, contact could be sporadic. That said, if you want her acting as “my lawyer” — as in “Well, my lawyer says…” — you actually want an ongoing relationship. Find out how often you will have contact with her. Will she call periodically
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Interview Questions to Ask a Lawyer

April 15th, 2013

Many lawyers offer a free initial consultation, although some charge a nominal fee for their time; find this out before you set up the interview. If you plan to interview several candidates, anyone who charges for that first consultation should be scheduled last. As with every other type of financial advisor, you are shopping for
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How Do You Know if a Lawyer is Good?

April 15th, 2013

While getting a referral from the bar association or referral service, you should have asked if there was any record of the lawyer’s disciplinary history. But since many of those listings are actually supplied and paid for by the lawyer, there may not be any negatives to speak of, so you may want to treat
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Finding a Lawyer For You

April 15th, 2013

When you need a lawyer, ask relatives and trusted friends who have been in a similar situation. Their reference will go a long way, although you must remember that each case is different. Go beyond friends and family, however, to consider the legal referral services in many communities, many of which will recommend a lawyer
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Interviewing a Lawyer

April 15th, 2013

You may agree with William Shakespeare’s assessment in Henry VI that “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” but the plain truth is that there will come a day when you need a lawyer on your side. In fact, over your lifetime, you may need several lawyers, each covering different specialties, so no
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