Monday, December 05, 2005

Review: Money Magazine Dec. Issue

There's good stuff in the latest issue of Money Magazine (Dec. 2005)

Here are my Top Five Reasons for recommending this issue.

5. Frugal Duchess Parenting Award:

Two articles win top honors in this category.

Toddler Fraud by Michael Sivy (p. 32) provides great information about protecting your kids from identity fraud (the latest crime trend.)

Tip: Eliminate kiddie id theft by ordering credit reports in your child's name. This tactic allows you to spot signs of kiddie credit abuse and id theft.

The other winner in this category: Are Your Kids Normal About Money? by David Futrelle. (p.55) This piece features a cute and insightful quiz about kids and money. Here's a sample:

Q. What's the tooth fairy shelling out for teeth these days?
A. About $2 a tooth, according to a national survey.

4. Frugal Duchess Tax Award:

Beat the Tax Clock by Judy Feldman (p.57) is an excellent guide for meeting year-end tax deadlines.

Tip: Earn 2005 tax deductions for charitable giving by getting those donations postmarked by Dec. 31. It doesn't matter if the charity doesn't open your envelope until 2006; you can still earn that deduction for 2005 as long as you beat the year-end postmark deadline, according to the article.

3. The Frugal Duchess 2006 Financial Planning Award

How to Make Money in 2006 by George Mannes (p. 106) and Pat Regnier provides (p. 99) a comprehensive planning guide for 2006. The package of stories touches on real estate, stocks, careers, health and other key topics.

Tip: It's not the best time to flip in and out of real estate. Houses are staying on the market longer and there are signs that the once hot-hot-hot real estate market has chilled.

And don't ask for a big raise; but push for a healthy, incentive-based bonus.

2.The Frugal Duchess Found Money Award:

Treasures in the Attic by Paul Lukas (p. 126) is a gem. How can you not love an article that gives you the 411 on finding valuable stuff at yard sales and in your attic? One family, for example, purchased a $4 piece of pottery (a rare piece) and later sold it on eBay for $4,700.

1.The Frugal Duchess Plastic Money Award.

What Should be in Your Wallet by Carolyn Bigda and Amanda Gengler is an excellent rundown on credit card fees. (p. 133)

Tip: If you are great at paying your monthly balance in full, go for American Express Clear: no yearly fees and a grace period of one month.

Best for transferring balances: Discover Platinum: Zero interest for 12 months on existing balance and new charges; "relatively mild penalty fees."

Also of note: "How to Survive ER," "Making Peace with the Taste Police," and the annual gift guide. (Most of the stuff is richly priced, but the guide is a fun read.)

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