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Gems of Consumer Wisdom
Health • Safety • Financial Freedom









 1. Two Trillion-Dollar Mistakes 

Each year many Americans make two trillion-dollar mistakes.  To make that more understandable, one trillion dollars is over $3,000 per American citizen -- or over $13,000 per family of four!

Mistake #1:  Settling For Near-Zero Returns.  Surprisingly, Americans have over a trillion dollars in outmoded accounts averaging less than 1% interest.  A few decades ago, these accounts paid decent interest.  But over the years, banks have gradually lowered it.  Those who switched to money market accounts earn about 5% interest, but many savings and brokerage accounts wound up paying really unfair rates -- and these accounts often belong to our most elderly citizens.  The average family of four loses about $500 each year this way!

Mistake #2:  Unwise Investments.  Americans have over $9 trillion invested in mutual funds.  Some funds perform acceptably well, but the vast majority pay lower returns than the overall market.  Instead of trying to "beat the market," buy and hold diversified investments.

See How To Get Your Share Now

How To Get Better Interest Rates.  A money market account (or "MMA") is a FDIC-insured savings accounts (unlike money market funds, which are not insured.)  Most MMAs let you write 3 checks per month.  Banks require a minimum balance, usually between $500 and $2,000.  Many people settle for mediocre MMA rates offered by a local bank; a guide recommends some good choices that pay around 5% interest, or you can compare rates yourself using BankRate's MMA Rate Search.

Compare Rates at       View Kiplinger's guide

How To Invest Wisely.  You basically have three choices:  (1) invest diversely while minimizing fees, (2) learn how to invest smart, or (3) use a local fee-only financial planner.  The first option is right for most people:  it gives you average returns, requires relatively little planning time, and protects you from a severe downside.  Investing smart is far more difficult than you might imagine:  even professional fund managers usually don't outperform the stock market, and many people with high optimism and little experience get burned trying to outperform it.  Fee-only means that the planner doesn't get a commission for selling you anything, and therefore is likely to be unbiased -- but he'll charge 1% to 2%, which probably means surrendering between 15% and 30% of your gains.  You can learn how to find a good financial planner using this five-page tutorial by Money Magazine.

View Money Magazine's Tutorial

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Security Steps You Must Take
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  Quick Tour Guide 

  1. Two Trillion-Dollar Mistakes  
  2. Security Steps You Must Take  
  3. Get Maximum "Cash Back"  
  4. Surprising Auto Safety Facts  
  5. Is It Time To Switch?  
  6. It Pays To Eat Right  
  7. Right-Size Your Insurance  
  8. Your Best Conservation Bets  

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