The Complete Idiot's Guide to Boosting Your Financial IQ

Overview

It isn't too late to recoup!

Today, with investments worth only a fraction of what they were a year ago, people need to be smarter about their finances. This book is here to level the playing field, explaining the games that are played, and the details that can confuse anyone when they depend on the false assumptions the money people are encouraging them to believe.

•How banks and credit card companies profit from their customers

•Your 401(k) and retirement plans-not all nest ...

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Boosting Your Financial IQ

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Overview

It isn't too late to recoup!

Today, with investments worth only a fraction of what they were a year ago, people need to be smarter about their finances. This book is here to level the playing field, explaining the games that are played, and the details that can confuse anyone when they depend on the false assumptions the money people are encouraging them to believe.

•How banks and credit card companies profit from their customers

•Your 401(k) and retirement plans-not all nest eggs are created equal

•Buying and selling a home-the Mortgage Meltdown 101

•Health care, college tuition, car purchase and maintenance, and life insurance- and a lot of fine print to read!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592579419
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Clark, CFP, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Getting Out of Debt, has been providing financial advice for over a decade. He graduated from Pepperdine University with a degree in business management, with an emphasis in accounting. He earned his Certificate of Financial Planning from the College of Financial Planning in Colorado. After college, he worked for PaineWebber (now UBS) managing investments for individuals, families, and businesses. He is also the college savings guide at About.com.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 The Basics of financial IQ 1

1 What is a financial IQ? 3

Understanding Financial IQ 4

The People Who Prefer You Stay Uneducated 4

The Less You Know, the Better far Them 5

How They Keep You in the Dark 5

Life's Best Investment: Increasing Your Financial IQ 6

Test Your Financial IQ 7

Financial IQ Quiz 7

Score Your Financial IQ Quiz 9

2 Banking On Your Ignorance 13

How Banks Profit Off of You 14

Fees, Fees, and More Fees 15

Lending Activities 15

Co-Branded Products 16

Tricks of the Trade 16

Overdraft/NSF Fees 17

Required Mininum Balances 18

Posting Dates and Times 19

Overdraft Protection 20

The Fine (Almost Invisible) Print 21

We Act Safe, But 22

Our Tellers Are Salespeople 22

Our Rates Are Lousy 23

Ways to Save 23

Shop Around for Other Banking Options 24

Automate Your Accounts 25

Open a Business Account 25

3 Credit Cards: Costing You an Arm and a Leg 27

Your Pain, Their Gain 28

Charging You Interest 28

Charging You Fees 29

Selling Other Services 30

Credit Card Sucker Punches 31

Bait and Switch Rates 31

Ensuring Your Payments Are Late 31

Payment Allocation 33

Period Calculation Tricks 33

Follow the Bouncing Rate 34

The Truth Credit Card Companies Hide 35

They Can Demand Full Payoff 35

Inactivity Fees 36

You're Protected Under the Law 36

Ways to Save on Your Credit Cards 37

Negotiate Your Rate 37

Put Your Balance Out for Bid 38

Negotiate Your Balance 38

Monitor Your Credit Score 39

Reform: Coming to a Credit Card Near You 39

Part 2 Grow Your Investing IQ 41

4 The Investment Markets 43

A Bull Market for the Media 44

Is the Investing Media Trustworthy? 44

The Media'sWeapons: Fear and Greed 45

"The Best 10 Money Moves to Make, Now!" 46

Experts in Title Only 46

Advertisers and Your Favorite Media 47

Six Investing Truths That Aren't Necessarily So 48

Myth #1 Stocks Are the Best Long-Term Investment 49

Myth #2 Bonds Aren't Risky 49

Myth #3 Blue-Chip Stocks Are Safer 50

Myth #4 Buy Mutual Funds to Diversify 51

Myth #5 Ratings Are Everything 52

Myth #6 Anyone Can Invest for Themselves 53

Tips from True Investing Geniuses 54

Sir John Templeton 55

Warren Buffet 55

Peter Lynch 56

John Bogle 57

Will Rogers 57

5 The Cons of Your Investment Pro 59

How They Make Their Money 60

Commissions 61

Asset Management Fees 61

Financial Planning Fees 62

Wall Street's Revenue Tricks 63

Hidden Commissions 64

Account Maintenance Fees 65

Limiting Your Money Market Options 66

Cross Selling Other Financial Products 66

The Fine Print 66

You Can't Sue Us 67

Our Credentials Aren't Real 68

SIPC Protection Isn't the Same as FDIC 68

We Play Golf a Lot for Free! 69

Our Mutual Funds Won't Transfer 70

Our Buy Ratings Might Be Comprised 71

Save Yourself Some Money and Heartache 71

Every Fee Is Negotiable 72

Check Your Firm or Professional's Background 73

The Power of a Complaint 73

6 Your Mutual Funds 75

Mutual Fund Costs 76

Advisor-Sold vs. Direct-Sales Mutual Funds 76

The Additional Costs of Advisor-Sold Shares 77

Wrap Accounts 78

Hidden Costs of ETFs and Closed-End Funds 78

What the Mutual Fund Industry Doesn't Want You to Know 79

Your Best Mutual Fund Investment: The Prospectus 80

Style Drift 81

Phantom Gains 82

Tax Inefficiency 83

The Risks of Low-Risk Funds 83

Annuities Are Not Just Like Mutual Funds 84

Save Some Money on Your Mutual Funds 85

7 Your 401(k) and Retirement Plans 89

Retirement Plan Potholes 90

Higher Fees 90

Single Mutual Fund Family 401(k) Providers 91

Delayed Matching Contributions 91

Matching in Company Stock 92

Automatic 401(k) Enrollment 93

The Fine Print 94

Vesting Schedules 94

Borrowing a Bunch of Trouble 95

Automatic Distributions 96

The 60-Day Rollover Rule 97

Turbocharge Your Retirement Plan 98

Utilize an Outside Account 98

Coordinate Contributions with a Roth IRA 99

Coordinate Fund Usage with Outside Assets 101

Target Date Funds 101

NUA and Company Stock 101

Part 3 Build Your Real Estate IQ 103

8 Buying and Selling a Home 105

The Financial Myth of Home Ownership 106

Who's Making the Money? 107

Getting Hosed on Housing 109

Now's the Best Time to Buy (or Sell) 110

Under or Overbidding the Camps 111

Avoiding For Sale by Owner (FSBO) Properties 112

The Referral Circle 113

Representing Both Sides 113

The Fine Print 114

Taxes 114

Lost Deposits 116

Broken Listings 117

Charging for In-House Services 117

Saving on Real Estate Commissions 118

Other Tips for Boosting the Bottom Line 119

9 Mortgages 121

What Caused the Mortgage Meltdown? 122

Using the Lowest Rates 123

Buying Too Much Home 123

Not Expecting a Downturn 124

Drawing Out Their Equity 124

How the Mortgage Industry Gets You 125

Playing the Shell Game with Rates 125

Origination Fees and Commissions 126

Loan Fees 127

Regular Refinancing 129

Mortgage Fine Print to Watch For 131

Saving Big on Your Mortgage 132

Should You Pay the Points? 132

The Bimonthly Payment Option 133

Wholesale Lending 134

Loan Modifications 135

10 Living with Your Landlord 137

The Best Time to Rent 138

How-Landlords Get You 139

Small, Regular Rent Increases 140

Keeping Security Deposits 141

Using Credit Checks to Gouge You 143

The Fine Print 144

Fees for Late Rent 144

Breaking Your Lease 145

Prohibited Activities 146

Saving Money as a Tenant 147

Part 4 Life's Big Expenses 149

11 Health Care 151

The High Cost of Staying Healthy 152

Protecting Yourself from a Sick System 152

Confusing Co-Pays, Coinsurance, and Limits 153

Reasonable Premiums-Until You Get Sick 155

Billing You Before Your Insurance 156

Pre-Existing Conditions 157

Preauthorization and Denied Claims 157

Discount Cards 158

Nasty Surprises with Your Policy 159

The Killer Cost of COBRA 159

Long-Term Care and Disability 160

College Kids and Coverage 161

Ways to Save 162

Go Group, Save Big 162

Use an FSA 162

Use an HSA 163

Miscellaneous Ways to Save 164

12 The Car Dealer 167

The Big Leagues of Bamboozlement 168

Getting You on the Lot 168

Getting You to Test Drive 169

Getting You to Sit Down 169

How Dealerships Stick It to You 170

Sticker Price Tricks 170

The Add Ons 171

Financing Tricks 173

Your Trade-In 175

The Fine Print 176

Lemon Laws 176

Warranty Conditions 176

Leasing Options 178

How to Save 179

The Best Times to Shop 179

Buy Away from Town 180

Buying Slightly Used 180

Negotiating a Price 181

13 The High Costs of Higher Education 183

College-Life's Most Expensive Party 184

More Money, More Tricks 186

Your College's "Dear Parent" Letter 186

In-State Tuition Rules 187

Financial Aid Offices and Preferred Lenders 188

Private Student Loans-Too Good to Be True 189

We Only Sell Some Section 529 Plans 189

The Fine Print 190

We May Take Back Your Scholarship 191

We're a Private School-We Define "Need" Differently 191

Transfer Students 192

Federal Loan Interest Rates 193

Tips for Covering the Costs 194

Financial Aid for the Rich 194

Tax Deductions and Credits 195

Prepaid Tuition May Be a Great Investment 196

Student Loan Cancellation Programs 197

Sources of Free Money 197

14 Life Insurance 199

Understanding Insurance Commissions 200

Fear: An Insurance Agent's Best Friend 201

The Fear of Your Own Death 201

The Fear of Your Loved One's Deaths 202

The Fear of Funeral Costs 203

The Fear of Becoming Uninsurable 204

Insurance Is Not a Good Investment 204

Illustrations: Don't Get Sucked In 205

Cash Value or Death Benefit-You Only Get One 205

We Charge More Than We Pay 206

The IRS and Your Cash Value 207

More Fine Print 207

Insurance the Right Way 208

Becoming Self-Insured 209

Buy Term and Invest the Rest 210

Insurance Company Ratings 211

Section 1035 Exchanges 212

Part 5 Dealing with Your Uncle Sam 213

15 Your Taxes 215

How You Help Them Get You 216

How Audits Get Selected 216

The Biggest IRS Red Flags 217

The Fine Print of the IRS 219

The Alternative Minimum Tax 220

Gift and Estate Taxes 222

Self-Employment Taxes 223

Pain in the IRS 224

Getting Your Auditor to Go Easy 224

Offers in Compromise 225

Installment Agreements 226

Blame It on Your Spouse 226

16 Social Security and Medicare 229

The Basics of Social Security 230

Social Security Tips and Traps 231

Retirement Age and Benefit Amount 231

Social Security Taxation 233

Other Social Security Wrinkles 234

Tapping Social Security for Emergencies 235

Survivorship Benefits 235

Disability Benefits 237

Medicare 238

Medicare Parts A andB 238

Medicare Parts C and D 239

17 Safety Nets for Hard Times 241

Don't Let Pride Get in the Way 242

Tapping Your Own Assets 242

Day-to-Day Survival 244

Unemployment Insurance 245

SNAP, WIC, and Other Programs 246

The Earned Income Credit 247

Bankruptcy: Hitting the Reset Button 248

What Bankruptcy Can Do 248

The Downside of Bankruptcy 249

18 Keep Growing Your Financial IQ 251

The 1-2-3-4 Financial IQ Study Plan 252

One Class Per Year 252

Two Magazine Subscriptions 254

Three Books 254

Four Quarterly Reviews 255

Smart People Ask Questions 256

Find a Financial Mentor 257

Passing Along Your Financial IQ 259

Appendixes

A Glossary 261

B Resources 269

Index 277

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