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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Helpful Personal Finance Websites

Just over two weeks ago, we wrote here promising some commentary on subprime mortgage lending and on business profits. We still promise to do that! Those are important themes for our consideration. Meantime, though, we got caught up in ordinary daily living and in a brief trip to California for family business, so our Geranium Farm writing had to be postponed a bit longer than we anticipated.

However, while we were in California (the central part of the state near Sacramento), we stayed in one of those hotels that leaves a newspaper outside your door in the morning; this one was USA Today. For its "Managing Your Money" feature this past weekend, the paper's money and finance editors compiled a list of their favorite personal finance websites. This list covers many of the issues we talk about here, so it is a really handy tool. Here are some of the ones they think are best. All of them are free!

For general information on banking and credit cards, they like We've already talked about that one here too. You can find mortgage interest rates, credit card terms and deposit interest rates. Makes it easier to comparison shop and to get an idea if your local bank is competitive.

For our June 5 article here about Baby Boomer retirement, we found a number of sites with retirement information for you. The USA Today folks tell about a couple of other good organizations we should also know about: for the practicalities of senior living, the National Council on Aging helps connect seniors and their caregivers to service programs through And the Employee Benefit Research Institute has another site where you can calculate the savings you need for retirement: We like its title; has the right flavor to it, don't you think?

Debbie from Hodgepodge, whose son Brian is in college, has asked us to talk about financing that major life investment. The main savings tool for that these days is the tax-sheltered "529 plan", regulated by each state. USA Today points us to for comparisons of the plans in various states. And for other sources on financial aid for college, there's We'll come back to this topic ourselves. It bothers us a lot that many young people these days finish school – or seminary – with a heavy debt load; we want to want to see what alternative approaches there might be.

The USA Today article directs us to sources for mutual fund ratings, home buying and general financial planning. To read the material in full, go to their own website,, to the "Managing Your Money" section; this helpful catalog appeared in the June 22 edition of the paper.

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On another note: in Mo. Crafton's eMo on June 26, she talks about some financial and retirement saving needs related to the Geranium Farm itself. In the middle of her comments she pays this column a nice compliment, and we surely do appreciate it. We also greatly appreciate Mo. Crafton's own work and wisdom, and we are sure you must also. So if you can, give something back to the Farm; help all of its work continue. Here's the place on the site where you can do that:


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