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Kiplinger
Apr 25, 2019

5 Dividend Stocks With Risky Payouts
When you evaluate dividend stocks, what do you typically look at? Chances are, dividend yield is a big part of the equation, though many investors also know to look at dividend growth. But what about dividend health?

Dividend stocks with risky, difficult-to-sustain payouts can be a drag on retirement portfolios. For one, companies that no longer have the financial means to grow the dividend likely are struggling to grow the business, which may be reflected in weak stock returns. Plus, if a dividend is slowly growing or stagnant, it loses purchasing power to inflation every year, essentially become worth less and less over time. The worst-case scenario - a dividend cut - could leave you without much-needed retirement income.

Dividend health clearly matters. But how do you measure it?

One emerging solution is the DIVCON system from exchange-traded fund provider Reality Shares. DIVCON - the first forward-looking dividend health methodology - measures payout sustainability based on several fundamental factors that include earnings growth, free cash flow (how much cash companies have left over after they meet all their obligations), money spent on buybacks and even the Altman Z-score - a metric that helps determine a company's likelihood of a bond default or bankruptcy. The result is a score between 1 and 5: DIVCON 5 indicates a very healthy dividend with a high likelihood of future growth, while DIVCON 1 indicates a shaky income foundation that implies little to no growth - and even the risk of a dividend cut.

Here are five dividend stocks with risky payouts, according to the DIVCON system. All five stocks have DIVCON 1 or DIVCON 2 scores. Let's explore what specifically makes these dividends look shaky.

SEE ALSO: 17 Retailers at Risk of Defaulting or Going Bankrupt

Kiplinger
Apr 25, 2019

15 Things Home Buyers Will Hate About Your House
As a home seller, you don't want to let the small stuff sabotage your sale.

These 15 problems are among the biggest buyer turn-offs, according to industry studies and interviews with real estate agents and home-staging experts who deal with buyer preferences every day. Most of them are easy to fix without spending a ton of money. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways YouTube Can Save You Money on DIY Projects



Kiplinger
Apr 25, 2019

How Worried Should I Be About the 'Tax Torpedo'?
Navigating taxes in retirement can be tricky. Here's what to look out for, especially when it comes to the tax hit you could take on your Social Security benefits.

Kiplinger
Apr 25, 2019

How to Protect Your Digital Assets
Did you know the average American has $55,000 in digital assets? That's something definitely worth including in your estate plan. Here's how to get started.

Kiplinger
Apr 24, 2019

8 Great Vanguard ETFs for a Low-Cost Core
Vanguard is the best-known pioneer of low-cost investing, including in the exchange-traded fund space. But it's hardly alone anymore, as providers such as Schwab, iShares and SPDR have all hacked away at each other with ever-shrinking fees.

Still, don't sleep on Vanguard ETFs. While Vanguard isn't always No. 1 among the cheapest index funds in every class, it's still a low-cost leader in several areas, and it's typically one of the least expensive options no matter where you look.

And inexpensive does matter. Let's say an investor puts $100,000 apiece in two different funds that both gain 8% annually, but Fund A charges 1% in fees while Fund B charges 0.5%. In 30 years, Fund A will be worth a respectable $744,335 ... but Fund B will be worth $865,775. That's roughly $120,000 lost not just in fees, but also lost opportunity cost from returns that could have been reinvested in the fund.

Here are eight low-cost Vanguard ETFs that investors can use as part of a core portfolio. All of these index funds are among the least expensive in their class and offer wide exposure to their respective market areas.

SEE ALSO: The 19 Best ETFs for a Prosperous 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 24, 2019

A Scorecard for Your Financial Adviser
Assigning ratings to all the different parts of your plan could help you spot weaknesses and get more value from your financial professional.

Kiplinger
Apr 23, 2019

19 Surprising Stocks With a History of Earnings Surprises
Positive earnings surprises - when profits beat consensus analyst estimates - can have a huge impact on a company's share price. These surprises show that management can both manage and exceed expectations, not to mention "beats" often lead to share-price gains as investors realize Wall Street might be underappreciating these overachievers.

For instance, a FactSet Research study examining Standard & Poor's 500-stock index components from Q4 2008 to Q1 2018 found that companies that posted positive EPS surprises gained 1.24% on average in the four-day window surrounding their earnings announcement.

Far more significant was what earnings surprises portended for long-term performance. Golden Capital and FactSet Research tracked S&P 500 companies over 15 years and found that those that reported positive EPS surprises experienced bigger share price gains than those that had not - even in cases where the stock's short-term response to positive surprises was minimal. While the S&P 500 more than tripled over the study's timeline, positive surprisers more than quadrupled.

The lesson: Companies that properly manage expectations and can "beat the Street" regularly tend to provide stronger long-term performance - even if the initial response isn't strongly bullish.

Here are 19 great stocks that have delivered positive earnings surprises averaging 10% or better over the past four quarters. Many of these stocks are off the beaten path, most of these stocks have generated double-digit annual earnings growth over the past five years, and all produced double-digit EPS gains in their most recent fiscal year.

SEE ALSO: 50 Top Stocks That Billionaires Love

Kiplinger
Apr 23, 2019

Holistic Legacy Planning: It's About More Than the Money
Finances and items of value get a lot of attention when it comes to estate planning, but don't forget family traditions and important life lessons.

Kiplinger
Apr 23, 2019

Can Your 401(k) Withstand Market Volatility?
Seven ways for retirement savers to survive the market's ups and downs.

Kiplinger
Apr 23, 2019

Some Financial Adviser Credentials Are Not Trustworthy
Which certifications should you look for in your financial professional - and which ones could actually be warning signs?

Kiplinger
Apr 22, 2019

Aldi vs. Whole Foods, Round 2 (After Amazon Cut Produce Prices)
Whole Foods announced another round of price cuts on April 1, this time claiming to lower everyday prices on hundreds of produce items by an average of 20%. Since we just compared prices on 50 grocery staples at Aldi and Whole Foods in October - Aldi proved to be a third cheaper than Whole Foods in those price checks - we decided to make fresh comparisons on select items at both supermarkets to see if the Amazon-owned chain would fare better this time around.

Before you have a look at our latest price comparisons from Northern Virginia store locations, it's important to understand that Amazon is reserving its biggest Whole Foods bargains for its $119-a-year Prime members. A big reason why: 7 out of 10 Prime members reportedly rarely or never shop at Whole Foods.

So while the latest produce price reductions are, indeed, available to all Whole Foods shoppers, even bigger discounts are being offered to Prime members in the form of exclusive deals and an extra 10% off sale items. If you're already a Prime member but not a Whole Foods shopper, you might be missing out on one of the surprising benefits of Amazon Prime; if you're not Prime, many of Aldi's prices remain tough to beat. Judge for yourself.

SEE ALSO: 31 Kirkland Products Retirees Should Buy at Costco

Kiplinger
Apr 22, 2019

The 5 Highest-Rated Dow Jones Stocks
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is enjoying a remarkable rally. In 2019, Dow stocks - a group of 30 American blue-chip companies - have soared 13.9% as a group. We now find ourselves within striking distance of the index's all-time high, and if earnings can clear a low expectations bar, further gains could be on tap.

But not all Dow Jones stocks are created equal. So which ones should you be keeping an eye on right now?

We have used TipRanks' new Stock Comparison tool to pinpoint the five Dow components with the highest ratings from Wall Street analysts right now. All five stocks share a "Strong Buy" Wall Street consensus based on ratings doled out over the past three months.

Here are the five highest-rated Dow Jones stocks right now. Let's delve in and see why analysts are so optimistic.

SEE ALSO: 50 Top Stocks That Billionaires Love

Kiplinger
Apr 22, 2019

Why It's Important to Talk to Your Children about Your Financial Plan
You're not doing your kids any favors if you keep them in the dark about your finances or your retirement goals.

Kiplinger
Apr 22, 2019

Build a Retirement Plan That Provides Paychecks AND Playchecks
If you don't have an income plan in place, how can you feel free to have a little fun in retirement? Here's how to create paychecks to cover your expenses and "playchecks" to cover the rest.

Kiplinger
Apr 19, 2019

8 Steps to Appeal Your Property Tax Bill
Home values have risen across the country, which means many homeowners' property taxes are going up, too. The average annual property tax for owner-occupied single family homes nationwide in 2017 was $3,399, an effective tax rate of 1.17%, according to Attom Data Solutions. Nine counties impose average annual property taxes of $10,000 or more. In Westchester County, New York, the average property tax is more than $17,000 a year. Now that federal deductions for state and local taxes are capped at $10,000, living in a high-tax jurisdiction has become even more expensive.

If your property tax bill has increased significantly, you may have grounds for an appeal, particularly if the increase seems out of line with overall appreciation in your area.

Most jurisdictions give you 90 days after you receive a new assessment to appeal, although some close the appeals window after 30 days, says Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union. Some lawyers handle property tax appeals on a contingency basis, but most homeowners can appeal on their own, Sepp says.

Plenty of property owners challenge their assessments each year, and between 20% and 40% of them win lower assessments and lower property tax bills. The following steps will show you the way to success.

SEE ALSO: All 50 States Ranked for Taxes

Kiplinger
Apr 19, 2019

9 Things You Must Know About Retiring to Arizona
Much like Florida, Arizona's population swells in the winter months -- a 2002 study by the Arizona State University reported a boost of nearly 300,000 retirees who temporarily settled in Arizona for the winter. In Lake Havasu City, for instance, the year-round population of 57,000 nearly doubled to 100,000.

Many other retirees have settled in Arizona year-round. The nation's first active adult retirement community sprouted in Youngtown, Ariz., in 1954, and today 17% of the state's 7.2 million residents are 65 and older.

Is Arizona calling to you, too, as you plot your retirement? Here are nine things you should know before deciding to retire in Arizona.

SEE ALSO: 11 Reasons You Don't Want to Retire in Florida

Kiplinger
Apr 19, 2019

Things You Must Know About Retiring to Arizona
Much like Florida, Arizona's population swells in the winter months -- a 2002 study by the Arizona State University reported a boost of nearly 300,000 retirees who temporarily settled in Arizona for the winter. In Lake Havasu City, for instance, the year-round population of 57,000 nearly doubled to 100,000.

Many other retirees have settled in Arizona year-round. The nation's first active adult retirement community sprouted in Youngtown, Ariz., in 1954, and today 17% of the state's 7.2 million residents are 65 and older.

Is Arizona calling to you, too, as you plot your retirement? Here are nine things you should know before deciding to retire in Arizona.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Must Know About Retiring to Florida

Kiplinger
Apr 19, 2019

The Case for a Lump Sum Pension Distribution
The stability of monthly payments may sound reassuring, but what are you giving up if you go that route?

Kiplinger
Apr 19, 2019

Your Estate Plan Isn't Complete Without Fixing the Password Problem
Estate administration in the digital age requires having a strategy to share passwords to your computer, email and online accounts. Without that, things quickly get complicated.

Kiplinger
Apr 18, 2019

The 5 Best Vanguard Funds for Retirees
Vanguard, with more than $5 trillion in global assets under management, is the world's largest mutual fund provider - and for good reason.

Vanguard funds pioneered index investing and, since its founding in the 1970s by the late Jack Bogle, have emphasized low costs. Organized like a mutual insurance company, Vanguard's funds are owned by fund shareholders and run "at-cost." There's no need to turn a profit to satisfy outside investors.

Any time I'm tasked with covering Vanguard funds, I'm a happy guy. Very few Vanguard funds haven't done right by investors, but Vanguard is especially good for those in retirement. Retirees, after all, don't want to take outsize risks in their investing, and Vanguard's managers aren't encouraged to take big gambles. Low costs remove a lot of the pressure on managers to take extra risk in the hopes of squeezing out a little more profit.

Here are my five best Vanguard funds for retirees. This list heavily emphasizes active management (but I do think highly of some Vanguard index funds). Several of my picks also are recommended by Dan Wiener, editor of the The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors newsletter.

Says Wiener: "Find a good manager at Vanguard, and you'll find a fund that will outperform its benchmark and comparable Vanguard index funds."

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now

Kiplinger
Apr 18, 2019

50 Top Stocks That Billionaires Love
Do you want to invest like real billionaires do?

Most billionaires obviously have much more money to burn than the average investor. And they also have enough cash in the bank to wait things out should their stock picks turn sour.

Still, given the so-called "smart money's" resources and intimate connections with some of the companies they own, it wouldn't be a crazy idea to study the top stocks that billionaires and high-asset hedge funds are plowing their long-term capital into. Rich people often get perpetually richer for a reason.

Here are 50 top stocks of the billionaire class. In all cases, these companies represent major holdings (anywhere between 5% and 100% of the portfolio) of at least one ultra-wealthy person or a large hedge fund. In many cases, these stock picks are heavily owned by multiple high-net-worth individuals and/or are high-conviction picks by several fund managers. And while several of these stocks are popular blue chips, others fall far off the radar of most investors.

SEE ALSO: Millionaires in America 2019: All 50 States Ranked

Kiplinger
Apr 18, 2019

How to Adopt a Retirement Distribution Mindset
Switching from a savings mentality during your working years to a spending one in retirement takes a good plan. Here are some strategies for positioning your savings to safely and comfortably support your retirement lifestyle.

Kiplinger
Apr 17, 2019

11 Reasons You Need Umbrella Insurance Right Now
An umbrella insurance policy can protect your assets and future earnings from expensive lawsuits. This type of policy increases the liability limits beyond the coverage offered by your auto and homeowners insurance policies. "Catastrophic financial loss could occur in seconds," says Ana Robic, chief operating officer of Chubb Personal Risk Services. The cost of a lawsuit, medical expenses and legal fees can devastate your savings, but you can buy an umbrella policy that can provide millions of dollars of coverage for hundreds of dollars in premiums.

You can usually add $1 million of extra coverage for about $150 to $350 per year, and each additional $1 million of coverage costs $75 to $150. (You generally need to have at least $300,000 in liability coverage from your home insurance, and $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident of bodily injury coverage from your car insurance first.) Use our umbrella insurance calculator to help estimate how much coverage to get. Check with your insurer and agent about what your home or auto insurance policy will cover and gaps you need to fill. An umbrella policy may be particularly valuable if you have the following risks.

SEE ALSO: 9 Ways to Get Extra Cash From Your House

Kiplinger
Apr 17, 2019

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2019 vs. 2018?
If you're already looking ahead to April 15, 2020, here are the income tax brackets for the 2019 tax year. And thanks to "chained" indexing, some taxpayers might end up in a higher bracket.

Kiplinger
Apr 17, 2019

Is the Stock Market Closed for Good Friday and Easter?
The Friday before Easter is a stock market holiday. The bond market is also closed. How about Maundy Thursday?

Kiplinger
Apr 17, 2019

Why Adviser Rankings May Not Be All They Seem
Boiling down financial advisers to a "best of" list sounds like it might be helpful, but the reality often falls short for retirement savers looking for the right help.

Kiplinger
Apr 16, 2019

How Long Should You Keep Tax Records?
Hold onto your tax documents at least until the time limit for an audit runs out--and keep some records even longer.

Kiplinger
Apr 16, 2019

5 Marijuana Stocks Wall Street Is Most Bullish On
Cannabis and marijuana stocks are an exciting industry right now. According to Cowen & Co.'s Vivien Azer - a pioneer in cannabis-stock analysis - U.S. marijuana sales are set to reach about $80 billion by 2030. Currently, U.S. legal and illicit sales combined total at least $50 billion. That's on top of an estimated $C12 billion in Canadian revenue by 2025 for both recreational and medical use.

The problem? It's still early days for the sector, which means significant risk is involved. It's common to see these primarily small- and mid-cap stocks move 10% or more in response to headlines or quarterly earnings reports. Companies are rushing to establish an early leadership position, and not all of them will end up winners. Plus, the federal legalization of cannabis in the U.S. remains a big question mark.

So how do you pinpoint the most compelling investing opportunities in this lucrative industry? One option is to focus on the cannabis stocks that the Street is most bullish on right now.

We used TipRanks market data to pinpoint five cannabis and marijuana stocks to buy based on overwhelmingly positive consensus ratings among Wall Street analysts. Let's take a closer look at each.

SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs: 7 Growth Stocks to Buy With Explosive Potential

Kiplinger
Apr 16, 2019

Miss the Tax Deadline? What to Do If You Forgot to File Taxes
If you owe Uncle Sam money, filing your tax return late (or never) can come with costly complications.

Kiplinger
Apr 16, 2019

Is Your Insurance Hurting You Instead of Helping You?
If you're not careful to buy the right kind of insurance, keep it in the right place and pay for it in the right way, your good intentions could end up working against you.

Kiplinger
Apr 15, 2019

Is a Stock Market Correction in the Cards?
Historically high stock valuations and murky economic data point to a mean reversion. Here's how to prepare for whenever the ax falls.

Kiplinger
Apr 15, 2019

Sleeping Your Way to the Top (Or Bottom)
What's going on with office romances these days? How prevalent are they? And just how dangerous can they be for your career?

Kiplinger
Apr 12, 2019

McKenzie Bezos: 4 Wealth Strategy Concerns
$36 billion doesn't come without some challenges. There are four lingering money issues for McKenzie Bezos to take into consideration.

Kiplinger
Apr 12, 2019

The 45 Cheapest Index Funds in the ETF Universe
Vanguard. Schwab. iShares. SPDR. All of these exchange-traded fund (ETF) giants undercut each other for years by putting out the cheapest index funds they could. All competed against each other in a so-called "race to zero."

And all lost to the most unlikely of dark horses.

Upstart SoFi recently rattled the low-cost establishment by becoming the first provider to launch ETFs with zero annual expenses - and did so with the launch of its first two ETFs. (For the record, Fidelity introduced the first no-fee index funds in the mutual fund industry back in August 2018.)

The large-cap SoFi Select 500 ETF (SFY) and mid-cap SoFi Next 500 ETF (SFYX) joined the markets on Thursday, April 11. Each fund has a listed expense ratio of 0.19%, but SoFi will waive those fees through at least June 30, 2020. That clearly will make them the cheapest ETFs in their respective categories.

But it doesn't cost much to invest in any corner of the market. A host of other categories feature index funds that, while not totally free, charge microscopic fees that make them extremely cost-efficient.

Here are 45 of the cheapest index funds in the U.S. ETF universe. These ETFs, listed by Morningstar category, cover stocks, bonds and other assets across a wide range of strategies.

SEE ALSO: The 19 Best ETFs for a Prosperous 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 12, 2019

12 Bank Stocks That Wall Street Loves the Most
Bank earnings season kicked off Friday, April 12, with first-quarter reports from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC). As more reports roll in, investors will be keen to see what a pause in interest-rate hikes and a potential slowdown in economic growth could mean for the sector going forward.

After all, those and other concerns have made financial stocks a market laggard so far this year. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index is up a hot 15% for the year through April 10. The financial sector, however, gained just 11% over the same span. The bank subsector was up a bit more than 12%.

But the financial sector might be ready to pivot. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expect the sector to post year-over-year Q1 earnings growth of just 2.9%. That doesn't sound like much, but it's encouraging when you consider that FactSet estimates the S&P 500's profits will contract by 4.2% for the quarter.

Which bank stocks are analysts most excited about right now? We screened the Russell 1000 Index for the top-rated small, midsize and large bank stocks. S&P Global Market Intelligence surveys analysts' ratings on stocks and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals "Strong Buy" and 5.0 means "Strong Sell." Any score of 2.0 or lower means that analysts, on average, rate the stock a "Buy." The closer the score gets to 1.0, the better.

Here are the 12 best-rated bank stocks as earnings season gets into gear. This group is broken down into the four most-loved stock picks in the small-, mid- and large-cap spaces.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy Now (According to Hedge Funds)

Kiplinger
Apr 12, 2019

Golden Rules for Going Into Business for Yourself
Yes, there are a lot of do-it-yourself resources out there to start your own business, but there are also more risks than ever. It helps to have a team of professionals on your side.

Kiplinger
Apr 11, 2019

10 Top Consumer Discretionary ETFs to Buy
Consumer discretionary stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been among the most closely watched area of the market this year. That's because consumer spending, and the health of the economy broadly, are up in the air.

Consider the words of Brad Sorenson, Charles Schwab's managing director of market and sector analysis: "The outlook for American consumer spending appears to us to be solid, with consumer confidence still strong, a tight labor market and wages trending higher. However, spending on traditional retail items has been cautious and competition among retailers may limit profitability, while recent softening in auto sales and housing is worth paying attention to."

To wit, consumer spending in January (reporting was delayed because of the government shutdown) recovered less than expected, sparking worries among economists. But investors have been undeterred. Consumer discretionary stocks are the second-best performing sector on Wall Street this year ( 18.6%), lagging only technology ( 23.4%).

Here are 10 of the best consumer discretionary ETFs to buy if you're still optimistic about the American economy and consumer, and want to strike while the iron remains hot. These funds hold dozens if not hundreds of consumer stocks, allowing you to defray risk while investing in various slices of this consumer sector.

SEE ALSO: The 19 Best ETFs for a Prosperous 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 11, 2019

8 Ways You Might Be Cheating on Your Taxes
Whether we're pointing out frequently overlooked tax breaks, explaining how retirement income is taxed or providing tools that help you adjust your tax withholding, the editors here at Kiplinger want you to trim as much off your tax bill as legally possible. But note the word legally. Yes, we want you to beat the IRS and save on taxes, but only by following the tax code's rules. Save where you can, but pay what you legitimately owe.

Sometimes, though, taxpayers don't always stay within the bounds of the law on their Form 1040. Of course, there are out-and-out fraudsters who purposely avoid paying the IRS what they owe under the law. However, in many cases, taxpayers short the government unintentionally. Both the tax code and IRS forms are complicated, so it's easy to make an honest mistake if you're not careful. We know our readers don't fall into the first category--the fraudsters. (Otherwise, you wouldn't be coming to us for advice on how to comply with the law.) But we don't want you to make inadvertent errors, either. So here are eight mistakes to avoid so you don't accidently cheat Uncle Sam out of his cut.

SEE ALSO: 18 Red Flags for IRS Auditors

Kiplinger
Apr 11, 2019

10 Secrets of the Millionaires Next Door
We all know somebody like Mitch, your mass-transit-riding, brown-bagging coworker who has toiled in accounting for as long as you can remember. Did you know he owns a vacation house at the beach? Or the McGillicuddy family, who live down the street in a house just like yours. Would you believe they didn't have to borrow a dime to send their kids to college?

Call them the invisible rich. How do they do it? Sure, money like that sometimes comes from an inheritance or another fortuitous break, but more often than not, it's the result of diligence, smart choices and, well, deferred gratification. The tenets they follow can also put you on the path to financial prosperity and security. Discover how.

See Also: Millionaires in America 2019: All 50 States Ranked

Kiplinger
Apr 11, 2019

Tax Day 2019: When's the Last Day to File Taxes?
Federal income tax returns are due April 15 for most taxpayers. However, some people have a little extra time. Are you one of them?

Kiplinger
Apr 11, 2019

What Farmer Joe Can Teach Us About Investing
Forget Warren Buffett for a moment. The common-sense way my Grandpa Joe ran his farm holds plenty of investment lessons.

Kiplinger
Apr 10, 2019

10 "Strong Buy" Stock Picks for a Spring Surge
Welcome back, bulls.

A stellar first quarter and a strong jobs report has sent the market into full-on rally mode. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has now gained nearly 15% since the start of the year. And several drivers - including the growing possibility of a trade deal with China - may give the broader stock indexes a chance at hitting all-time highs this spring.

With the 10-year bull-run back on track, we turned to TipRanks' Analysts' Top Stocks tool to pinpoint some of the market's most compelling investing opportunities. This tool reveals the companies with the most bullish "Strong Buy" consensus, based on top-performing analysts' ratings of these stock picks over the last three months.

Here are 10 of the analysts' best "Strong Buy" stock picks in anticipation of a continued rally. We've ranked them by potential upside based on analyst targets - from 4% to 103%.

SEE ALSO: 19 Best Stocks to Buy for 2019 (And 5 to Sell)

Kiplinger
Apr 10, 2019

9 Ways Costco Tricks Shoppers
Every year, Costco attracts droves of new members looking to score bargains on everything from personal care products and paper towels to fresh and frozen foods in bulk. Exclusive perks such as deeply discounted gasoline prices, deals on big-ticket electronics and appliances, and access to coveted Kirkland Signature store-branded items are among the major draws of membership to the warehouse club. While these incentives are, indeed, used to reward card-carrying Costco members, many of them are also designed to get shoppers to spend more.

We asked several shopping experts about the various strategies the warehouse club uses to entice members to shop more frequently and more impulsively, as well as which Costco perks tend to be the most problematic. The retail pros also offered advice on how to avoid these spending traps and more. Here's everything they had to say.

SEE ALSO: 20 Secrets to Shopping at Costco

Kiplinger
Apr 10, 2019

How to Measure a Financial Adviser's Credibility
Four easy ways to check the pedigree of a financial professional with whom you are considering entrusting your retirement.

Kiplinger
Apr 09, 2019

Zillow Moves to Improve Home Price Estimates
First free online home pricing site aims to tweak its accuracy and avoid unrealistic expectations of homeowners.

Kiplinger
Apr 09, 2019

9 Municipal Bond Funds for Tax-Free Income
Anyone looking to tamp down their tax bill for next year need look no further than municipal bonds. They've been around for decades, but many people still aren't familiar with this particular debt investment - as well as the municipal bond funds that hold them.

Municipal bonds deliver tax-advantaged income to investors at regular intervals. At a minimum, muni bond income is exempt from federal tax. Depending on where you live and where the bonds are issued, that income also might be clear of state and even local taxes.

If you're a high-income earner, munis are for you, says Jim Barnes, Director of Fixed Income at Bryn Mawr Trust. "The primary way to determine whether muni bonds are a good or bad investment for an investor boils down to the investor's marginal tax rate. A high marginal tax rate equates to a higher taxable equivalent yield when comparing different investment options," he says. "The higher the marginal tax rate, the more appealing and advantageous the tax-free income becomes to the investor."

Just how powerful is this tax exemption? For a household earning $200,000 per year (married, filing jointly, taxed at 24%), a municipal bond yielding 4% has a tax-equivalent yield of 5.26%. That means a $100,000 investment in munis will generate roughly $1,260 more annually in passive income than they'd get with a 4% yield from, say, corporate bonds or stocks.

Here are nine municipal bond funds that provide exposure to this tax-free income. There's something for every type of fund preference: mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and closed-end funds (CEFs).

SEE ALSO: The 7 Best Bond Funds for Retirement Savers in 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 09, 2019

When Are 2019 Estimated Tax Payments Due?
If you're making estimated tax payments, your first payment for the 2019 tax year is due soon. You could be penalized by the IRS if you miss the deadline.

Kiplinger
Apr 09, 2019

Understanding and Dealing With Misers
Everyone runs into these aggravating people at times: All take and no give. A little understanding and a few basic strategies can help you handle them.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

10 States With the Highest Gas Taxes
Fortunately for drivers, the federal government's gas tax hasn't budged from 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. However, every state and the District of Columbia add their own taxes, too, ranging from 14.4 cents a gallon in Alaska to 77.1 cents a gallon in Pennsylvania.

Whether you're simply saving a few bucks while road-tripping or saving big bucks on regular fill-ups all year long, crossing state lines for gas can pay off. For someone who drives 12,000 miles a year in a car that averages 25 miles per gallon, for example, paying an extra 23.4 cents per gallon of gas -- the difference in state taxes between Pennsylvania and Maryland (53.7 cents per gallon) -- would cost $112.32 a year.

A reminder, though: U.S. gas taxes are among the world's lowest. In Canada, the federal tax is roughly double what it is in the U.S., and provincial taxes can be steep as well; Ontario's is 55.7 cents per gallon.

Here are the 10 states with the highest gas taxes, including a look at how the states do on other big tax metrics, such as sales tax.

SEE ALSO: 70 Valuable Things You Can Get for Free

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

10 Energy Stocks and Funds to Buy for Dividends AND Growth
Certain sectors of the stock market have gained a reputation for being income-friendly. If you want dividends, you know to look at utilities, consumer staples and real estate investment trusts (REITs). Energy stocks - which include numerous high yielders - aren't always first to mind, however.

Why? Energy stocks - which are tied to energy prices, which are tied not just to supply and demand, but also politics and currency strength, can be volatile over the short-term. Weak oil, natural gas and other commodity prices made energy stocks grossly underperform the market in 2014-15, for instance, but recoveries stoke outperformance like what we're seeing so far in 2019.

Dividend investors should consider the opportunity in the energy sector right now. For one, West Texas Intermediate crude oil currently is near the $65-per-barrel mark, well off its recent low of $49 in December. Higher prices mean higher revenues - and oil companies, which were forced to improve their operations to squeeze more profits out of low oil prices, are generating even better earnings and cash from those revenues. Greater profitability naturally encourages investors to drive share prices higher, and that cash is used to fund generous and sometimes growing payouts.

Also, many integrated oil companies as well as dedicated exploration and production firms are being prudent about their capital expenditures, instead budgeting with an eye toward generating cash and funding dividends from existing projects.

Here are 10 energy stocks and funds to buy for a 1-2 combo of dividends and growth. These picks vary in their balance - some are slow-moving high yielders, some are growthy plays with modest yields and some fall squarely in between.

SEE ALSO: 14 Blue-Chip Dividend Stocks Yielding 4% or More

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filing
As you rush to meet the tax filing deadline, here are some pointers to bring your stress level down.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Louisiana?
Louisiana is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Virginia?
Virginia is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in New Mexico?
New Mexico is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Iowa?
Iowa is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Delaware?
Delaware is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Hawaii?
Hawaii is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

When Are State Tax Returns Due in Maine?
Maine is one of several states in which your state income tax return can be filed after April 15.

Kiplinger
Apr 08, 2019

5 Myths That Could Have You Walking a Financial Tightrope Without a Safety Net
Life insurance is a mystery to most people, but it's an important part of your financial picture, so don't let these common misbeliefs stop you from protecting yourself.

Kiplinger
Apr 05, 2019

11 Dividend Growth Stocks Flying Under the Radar (For Now)
Stocks that generate consistently rising dividends bolster retirement accounts by providing income that keeps pace with inflation. A group of high-quality dividend stocks known as Dividend Aristocrats have delivered on the promise of reliable income growth for quite some time.

The most commonly known group of Aristocrats are the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats - Standard & Poor's 500-stock index components that have produced at least 25 consecutive years of annual distribution increases.

Dividend Aristocrats offer other benefits, too. Dividend Aristocrats often boast steady financial performance, making them less risky than other equities. The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats also have outperformed the S&P 500 over time - by almost 2 percentage points annually on average over the past decade. Much of that outperformance comes during market downturns, making them great stocks for riding out periods of turbulence.

This reliability comes at a cost. Many Dividend Aristocrats have become overcrowded, trading at premium prices and depressed yields. But investors have another way to capture steadily rising dividends at a more affordable price: Identify companies that are close to joining the Aristocracy - they still boast decades of dividend growth, but haven't grabbed Wall Street's attention quite yet.

Here are 11 high-quality dividend stocks that aren't quite yet S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats - but could be given a little more time. Some of these are S&P 500 companies that are within a few years of the 25-year benchmark. Others are smaller stocks that are near, at or even past the 25-year mark, but must ascend to the ranks of the S&P 500 to qualify.

SEE ALSO: 57 Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 05, 2019

Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid
You may be surprised at how easy it is to make an expensive mistake with your beneficiary designations.

Kiplinger
Apr 05, 2019

The Best College Savings Strategy to Use
A 529 college savings plan comes with many advantages, and the best way to harness its power is to start ASAP and front-load your contributions.

Kiplinger
Apr 05, 2019

How to Get an Extension for Filing Your Tax Return
Can't file your tax return by April 15? Don't panic. It's easy to ask the IRS for more time.

Kiplinger
Apr 05, 2019

All Aboard for a Train Adventure in Retirement
Older travelers and retirees are hitting the rails and fueling demand for train vacations.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Vanguard's New ESG Fund Offering
An actively managed fund focused on sustainable investing will debut soon.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

How to Break Up With Your Stock
Why would you kick a stock to the curb? You first need to remember why you bought it in the first place.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

High-Yield Investments That Are Worth the Risk
Can you handle the occasional market tumble knowing you'll get paid in the end? Then go for it.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

It's Easier to Rent a Car With a Debit Card
At Dollar Car Rental and Thrifty Car Rental, you now face fewer requirements to rent using a debit rather than a credit card. And the hold on a renter's bank account dropped from $350 to $200.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

When to Transfer Ownership of a Custodial Account
Before your child turns 18, you should check with your broker about the account's age of majority and termination.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Borrowers Get More Time to Repay 401(k) Loans
If you leave your job while you have an outstanding 401(k) loan, Uncle Sam now gives you extra time to repay it -- thanks to the new tax law.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Identity Theft: Act Now to Protect Yourself
Identity thieves are more skilled at their nefarious craft than ever.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

When It Pays to Buy Travel Insurance
Investing in travel insurance can help recover some costs when your vacation gets ruined by a natural disaster, medical emergency or other catastrophe.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

The Kiplinger 25: How We Did in a Very Contrary Year
Also, we move to rebalance our stock portfolio with a midcap offering.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Shareholders Shake Things Up This Proxy Season
Hot-button issues this year include climate change and board diversity.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

How to Right Size Next Year's Tax Return
Adjust your W-4 form to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you file your 2019 return.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

7 Diverse Stocks to Buy to Make a Buck Off Air Travel
A big swath of the country is finally coming out of a deep freeze that kept many of us hunkered down in our homes for most of this winter. That's because traveling was neither easy nor fun, whether by plane, train or automobile.

As the weather improves, Americans will start to make travel plans for the summer ahead - and that should educate investors as they hunt down stocks to buy amid this bull run.

Summer is the Super Bowl of air travel. Last year, trade association Airlines for America estimated that 246 million people would travel by air between June 1 and Aug. 3 of 2018. Turns out, that was a great estimate. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 253 million people traveled by air between the Wednesday before Memorial Day (May 23) and the Tuesday after Labor Day (Sept. 4).

Industry statistics also suggest that the amount of air travel is on the rise - a trend investors can benefit from if they know where to look. The problem is there's no good fund that covers the gamut of industries that contribute to commercial aviation. It's not just airlines and aircraft manufacturers - airport operators, hospitality businesses, construction firms, retailers, car rentals, even cosmetics companies, benefit directly or indirectly from more crowded skies.

Here are seven stocks to buy that benefit from healthy air travel, several of which tend to fly under many investors' radars.

SEE ALSO: 20 of Wall Street's Newest Dividend Stocks

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

How to Make a Million (or More!)
What these success stories have in common is passion and persistence and a vision for what their wealth can achieve.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Get a Head Start on College Savings
It's a daunting prospect. In 18 years, attending an in-state public college for four years will likely cost a total of about $233,000.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Ways to Make Your Home More Age-Friendly
Your kids are successfully launched and, suddenly, you seem to have more disposable income. This could be a good time to tackle the remodeling projects you've been putting off. And while you're updating your house for style, consider adapting it so you can age in place comfortably.

Studies show that most homeowners age 50 and older say they want to remain in their house as they age, but most U.S. homes weren't built to accommodate older people's special needs. For example, only one-third have basic accessibility features, such as a no-step entry and a bedroom and full bath on the entry level, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

We'll walk you through a house to identify features you could add, as well as identifying what they typically cost and how to pay for them.

SEE ALSO: 8 Features That Will Sell Your Home Faster

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Watch for Student Loan Errors
Some loan servicers may be dropping the ball on keeping you up-to-date on how much you may owe.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Personal Finance Lessons From a NFL Pro
NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland shares his money playbook with friends, family and students.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

The Long-Term Allure of Dividends
The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index has returned an annualized 18.3% over the past 10 years, compared with 17.1% for the S&P 500.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

How to Raise Money-Savvy Girls
When parents talk to their kids about money, they often speak differently to their sons and daughters.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

8 Stocks That Will Have You Investing Like Buffett
Warren Buffett's $82.5 billion estimated net worth makes him the world's third-wealthiest man, behind Microsoft's Bill Gates and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Unlike Gates and Bezos, however, Buffett's fortune came from investing in other companies. Since Buffett took control of Berkshire Hathaway in 1964, the price of Berkshire's A shares has increased at an annualized rate of 20.5%, compared with 18.7% for Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

Like most wildly successful investors, Buffett makes it sound easy: Buy quality companies with great businesses, and try to buy low when the opportunity arises. Invest for the long term. Those rules--and a canny eye for opportunity--have led Berkshire to stocks as diverse as Apple, Coca-Cola, Costco and Visa.

Most stocks, even the ones Buffett loves, aren't cheap. "Prices are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects," Buffett said in his 2018 shareholder letter. The eight stocks here embody virtues that Buffett loves. Not all are bargains, but all are high-quality stocks with rock-solid balance sheets, strong competitive advantages, prodigious cash generation or the power to raise prices, even in tough times.

SEE ALSO: How Well Do You Really Know Warren Buffett?

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

Retirees Need Emergency Funds Too
Unexpected expenses can come out of nowhere. Here are some tips to be prepared.

Kiplinger
Apr 04, 2019

21 Best and Worst Things to Buy at Aldi
Aldi is rapidly expanding in the U.S. Already, the no-frills German supermarket chain has nearly 1,800 stores in 35 states offering super-low prices on brand-name knockoffs. Indeed, 90% of Aldi's products are exclusive store brands, and many mimic the packaging and taste of national brands. We found several great items at Aldi that deserve a spot on your grocery list based on quality or value -- or both.

But after checking in with shopping experts, as well doing comparison-shopping (and taste-testing) on our own at stores in Northern Virginia, we found that some deals at Aldi aren't worth it. First, brand-name knockoffs don't always taste as good as the real deal. Second, Aldi doesn't accept manufacturers' coupons or offer a loyalty program. That means you can find certain brand-name products at other retailers at comparable prices to Aldi's knockoffs once you factor in sales, coupons and loyalty perks. We also found some surprising price increases since we last dove into the best and worst things to buy at the deep-discounter. Take a look at what to buy -- and what to avoid -- at Aldi.

SEE ALSO: 18 Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Kiplinger
Apr 03, 2019

9 Great Funds for This Aging Bull Market
The stock market appears poised to at least make a run on the all-time highs set in 2018. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 13% during the first quarter of 2019 alone and has kicked off Q2 in a full-blown sprint.

Will it continue? On the one hand, several drivers still are in play, including still-low U.S. unemployment, inflation being kept in check and an accommodative Federal Reserve that appears poised to keep interest rates steady for the rest of the year. While the S&P 500 is extremely unlikely to match its roughly 20% profit-growth rate in 2018, Blockforce Capital CEO Eric Ervin, for one, says he still is "cautiously optimistic" for America's economy this year. "Corporate earnings should continue to grow in 2019, albeit at a potentially slower pace," he says.

But looming are a host of worrying issues, such as troubling global economic data points, continued uncertainty about U.S.-Chinese trade and an upcoming Q1 earnings season that FactSet analysts expect will mark the first quarterly year-over-year profit decline since 2016.

Here are nine of the best funds amid this aging bull market's recent charge. Some of these will benefit if this rally continues, while others are defensive plays to consider should the bull run out of steam. Each of these has something attractive to offer, such as a significant discount or high income potential.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now

Kiplinger
Apr 03, 2019

9 Great Funds for This Roaring Bull Market
The stock market appears poised to at least make a run on the all-time highs set in 2018. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 13% during the first quarter of 2019 alone and has kicked off Q2 in a full-blown sprint.

Will it continue? On the one hand, several drivers still are in play, including still-low U.S. unemployment, inflation being kept in check and an accommodative Federal Reserve that appears poised to keep interest rates steady for the rest of the year. While the S&P 500 is extremely unlikely to match its roughly 20% profit-growth rate in 2018, Blockforce Capital CEO Eric Ervin, for one, says he still is "cautiously optimistic" for America's economy this year. "Corporate earnings should continue to grow in 2019, albeit at a potentially slower pace," he says.

But looming are a host of worrying issues, such as troubling global economic data points, continued uncertainty about U.S.-Chinese trade and an upcoming Q1 earnings season that FactSet analysts expect will mark the first quarterly year-over-year profit decline since 2016.

Here are nine of the best funds amid this aging bull market's recent charge. Some of these will benefit if this rally continues, while others are defensive plays to consider should the bull run out of steam. Each of these has something attractive to offer, such as a significant discount or high income potential.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now

Kiplinger
Apr 03, 2019

New Rules Battle Financial Scams, Elder Abuse
One in five older Americans falls prey to financial exploitation each year. Now, banks and financial advisers are stepping up front-line defenses.

Kiplinger
Apr 03, 2019

Lessons for a Happy Retirement from 'A Star Is Born'
Believe it or not, your retirement journey could have some similarities to what the characters go through in the movie.

Kiplinger
Apr 02, 2019

12 Dividend Stocks That Hedge Funds Love
Dividends are a precious perk.

Research over the past few years from FactSet, Ned Davis Research and River Road Asset Management, among others, have illustrated the long-term benefits of owning dividend stocks versus their non-paying peers. A 2019 Hartford Funds study showed that $10,000 invested in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index in 1960 would have generated $460,095 excluding the effect of dividends ... but $2,571,920 once dividends were reinvested.

No wonder, then, that dividend stocks are a favorite holding of numerous "smart money" investors. Even Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) - which famously does not pay a dividend because Buffett believes he can allocate profits in better ways - has depended on numerous income-generating stocks for its long-term market outperformance.

Hedge funds are no different. According to WalletHub data gathered from regulatory filings, more than two-thirds of the most popular holdings among hedge-fund managers offer up some sort of dividend, and the majority of those out-yield the market. These stocks provide defense in market downturns, and compounding dividends over time contribute to long-term returns.

Here are a dozen dividend stocks that are popular among hedge funds. Better still, all of the following stocks yield more than the S&P 500 at present.

SEE ALSO: 57 Dividend Stocks You Can Count On in 2019

Kiplinger
Apr 02, 2019

9 Ways to Get Extra Cash From Your House
If you're a homeowner looking to rake in some extra money, whether to fund a much-needed renovation or to afford a much-needed dream vacation, don't dismiss using your house as a means to generate additional income. We're not talking about the typical work-from-home business opportunities that were commonplace years ago, either. No hours spent stuffing envelopes on your couch here.

Our round-up of money-generating opportunities for homeowners range from the off the beaten path (renting out your home for a film shoot) to the tried and true (tapping into your home's equity). Check out all of them and decide for yourself which ideas are right for you.

SEE ALSO: 38 Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Kiplinger
Apr 02, 2019

Retirement Planning Reinvented
To help maximize your income and reduce your risk, try building your retirement on the allocation of income among dividends, interest, annuity payments and withdrawals.

Kiplinger
Apr 02, 2019

When the Market Wobbles, Replace Panic with a Plan
Take a deep breath and consider these 5 strategies to help ensure market conditions won't knock you off course.

Kiplinger
Apr 01, 2019

Goldman Sachs: 7 Growth Stocks to Buy With Explosive Potential
If you are stuck for investing inspiration after a breakneck first quarter, Goldman Sachs has some valuable tips. The firm has just released a report advising investors to focus on growth stocks with rapidly growing revenues. These are the kinds of companies that should outperform as costs rise over the coming year, Goldman analysts say.

"Mounting pressures from wage inflation and other input costs will pressure margins, making further expansion from currently all-time high margins unlikely," writes David Kostin, Goldman Sachs' head U.S. equity strategist. "As a result, growth in (earnings per share) will be driven entirely by top-line sales."

That's already playing out so far this year. Goldman Sachs recently calculated that stocks it considers "high revenue" have outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index by 400 basis points already since the start of 2019.

Here are seven growth stocks to buy, according to Goldman's expectations for high revenue expansion across the rest of 2019.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy Now (According to Hedge Funds)

Kiplinger
Apr 01, 2019

How to Draw a Steady Portfolio Paycheck in Retirement
There are two approaches to planning your spending in retirement: Do it yourself or go with a pro.

Kiplinger
Apr 01, 2019

Managed Payout Funds Might Be Right for Some Retirees
They can prove useful as one piece of the retirement-spending puzzle as long as you understand the goal of a particular fund.

Kiplinger
Apr 01, 2019

Is Your Beneficiary Ready to Receive Money?
If you have any reservations about who you have in mind when writing your will, whether you're thinking about a young child or even an older person who could be vulnerable to scams, a trust could make a lot of sense.

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