Helpful Financial Information

Insurance

www.healthcare.gov – This new tool provides detailed information about all the health insurance plans available in your area, including policies from private insurers and high-risk insurance pools for your state.  The site also provides information on benefits, deductibles, co-pays, and restrictions on what doctors you can choose for a given plan.  You can also get data on the percentage of applicants who were denied or had to pay surcharges because of their health condition.

www.ehealthinsurance.com – Once you have an idea of the plan you want, get a free quote at this site which provides personalized quotes and policy details for most insurers in your state based on age and health of the individuals being covered.

www.irs.gov/publications/p502/index.html – Qualified medical expenses that can be used to withdraw funds from your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA) or expenses that you can deduct on your federal income tax return.

www.dol.gov (select Health and Benefits) – Once you’ve exhausted your COBRA benefits, you may qualify for coverage under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  You can’t be denied insurance because of your medical history or any preexisting conditions.  If your health is poor, this might be the best and most affordable option you have.

www.medicare.gov (select Supplements & Other Insurance) – In order to be designated a Medigap plan, insurance companies can only sell you a “standardized” Medigap policy with the same basic benefits.  The various polices are identified by letters A through N, which makes it easier to compare plans from one insurance company to another.

Expense Management

www.bankrate.com/calculators/home-equity/additional-mortgage-payment-calculator.aspx – If you want to get a better understanding of your outstanding mortgage in the future or the impact of paying down your mortgage with an extra $100 or so a month, use this online mortgage calculator.  After you enter all the pertinent information regarding your mortgage, you can generate an amortization table that will show the remaining loan principal/outstanding mortgage by year.

www.kbb.com – Get an estimate of the book value of your car which will help you understand what to expect if you are looking to sell or trade in your vehicle or if it makes sense to continue carrying collision insurance if your vehicle is worth less than the deductible.

www.healthcarebluebook.com – If you want to know the going rate for various medical services which will help you know the cost before making phone calls looking for the best rate.

www.creditcards.org/cash-back-cards – A great website to start your search for a rewards credit card.  This site ranks the best cash-back rewards offerings and gives you a direct link to the offering company, so you can apply online or get additional information.

www.mint.com – Want to manage your personal finances with one online tool?  This application can link up to your bank, credit card, and even your investment accounts and perform daily downloads so you have current data as to where you stand on all financial fronts.

www.debt.org – Debt.org is America’s Debt Help Organization, serving the public with thorough and accessible information on financial well-being. We strive to help people in all stages of life, from college, through buying or selling a home, and into retirement. We are a for-profit company owned by Pen and Paper Financial. The content on Debt.org and our services are designed for anyone who wants a sound financial future, wants to get out of debt or wants to stay out of debt. Our goal is to be the only debt and financial resource you need.

College Resources

www.savingforcollege.com – If you’re looking for information on 529 Plans this is a great place to start.  This website provides details on every states available 529 Plan, available financial aid, scholarships as well as calculators to help you estimate the cost of college.

www.payscale.com (select Education) – Ever wondered if you and your child are getting a good return on your investment (ROI) to attend a certain university?  How about the median starting salary you can expect as a graduate from a given college?  This website provides all this information and so much more on most of the major colleges in America.

www.collegecost.ed.gov/scorecard – The Department of Education has a new college scorecard that allows the user to search for schools by state, school size, degrees offered, campus setting, etc.  Once you select a college, there’s additional information about affordability, net cost (after grants and scholarships), graduation rates, employment opportunities, etc.  This tool offers a great way to narrow down your search of schools based on criteria that is important to you.

Finding  Places to Retire

www.moving.com – This online city comparison tool will give you side-by-side data on crime, demographics, income and jobs, ethnicity, climate, housing, etc.

www.retirementliving.com (select state taxes on the left-hand side) – Looking for a better understanding of the tax implications of one state versus another, go to?  This site will give you income, property, and estate tax information that will be very helpful when comparing one state to another.

www.money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living – If you’re just looking for a tool that will give you a quick cost-of-living comparison of key expenses like housing, utilities, food, health care, and transportation, go to this website offered by CNN/Money.

www.realtor.com – Before you narrow your list down; make sure you understand what homes truly sell for in a particular area.  This site—which allows you to enter specific information such as price, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.—is a great way to do a comprehensive search very quickly.

Active Retirement Options

www.retirementjobs.com – If you’re struggling trying to find that special experience, try looking on the Internet for job opportunities suited for people who are 50 and over.    This website allows you to search for full- or part-time jobs in your city.

www.usa.gov – If the opportunities you’re finding feel too much like actual work versus something fun, take a look at this website where you can find government-related jobs or volunteer work in your city, within the United States, or possibly in another country.

Retirement Income

www.ssa.gov – This site offers access to your social security benefits as well as calculators where you can estimate future benefits

www.pbgc.gov – Information on pension benefits protected by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC).

www.archimedes.com/vanguard/roth/RothConsumer.phtml – In order to understand the tax consequences as well as the financial benefits of a Roth conversion, you need to perform some calculations.  My favorite is the one at Vanguard that asks some questions regarding your age, assets to be converted, current year taxable income, after-tax contributions, etc., and calculates the tax impact and the long-term financial results of the conversion.  It also allows you to enter what percentage you’d like to convert in the current tax year.

www.rmaarp.com – If you’re curious as to how much money you could get from a reverse mortgage, try this reverse mortgage calculator from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).  It’s very straightforward and will give you an estimate of how much cash you can get from your home though a lump-sum or monthly payments.

www.hud.gov/counseling – If you’re interested in obtaining a reverse mortgages, go to this website from HUD (Housing and Urban Development)  and you’ll get the name and phone number of a local HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling agency that will walk you through the process and provide names of participating lenders for free.

www.annuity.org – This organization provides comprehensive information on all types of annuities, including structured settlements, to inform the user whether an annuity is right for them.  Additionally they have information for consumers with annuities and structured settlements to see if selling their payments fits their financial needs.

Financial Inventory

www.vanguard.com/pdf/amspfi.pdf – This free template from Vanguard allows you to enter personal and financial data that will be helpful for your loved ones when you’re gone.  This template even allows you to save the file for future updates.  Don’t be put off by the size and detail of the template as you only need to use what’s applicable for your personal situation.

Stop the Calls & Mailings

www.donotcall.gov – The best way to avoid those annoying marketing calls is to sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.

www.dmachoice.org – You can get your name removed from these mailing lists by going to the Direct Marketing Association.

Finding a Financial Planner

www.cfp.net – In the event you do feel you need some help, it’s imperative that you look for someone who is a certified financial planner (CFP).  Contact the Institute of Financial Planners for a listing of CFPs in your area.

www.garrettplanningnetwork.com – If you decide to find a financial planner, your best option is a fee-only planner who charges a flat fee for their services versus a commission or a percentage of your assets.  This site provides a listing of fee-only planners available in your area.

www.myfinancialadvice.com – Another option, if you’re looking for a financial planner that will charge you a flat fee, is MyFinancialAdvice.com. This site will connect you with a financial planner who will work with you via email or phone.