Columns

Fri
16
Aug

Don’t be swamped by student loan debt!

As students prepare to head back to the books, college planning is on the minds of many families.
It’s common knowledge that the cost of higher education has skyrocketed over the years and that many students end up struggling with a mountain of student loan debt once they graduate. In fact, the average student loan balance last year was $24,803, 70 percent higher than it was in 2004. During those same years, overall student loan debt nearly tripled to $966 billion. If you’re concerned about runaway college costs, the Minnesota Society of CPAs offers this advice.

Fri
16
Aug

Why care about water quality?

Did you know that the quality of water in your community can impact your property value? It’s true. Studies have indicated a direct correlation between quality of water and property values. After all, would you rather live in a neighborhood with clean, clear waters or one that has ponds full of blue-green algae?
Now, I’d like to think that everyone cares about the quality of our ponds, lakes and wetlands just because it’s the right thing to do. But I am a realist, and I know that this isn’t the case. But perhaps knowing that good water quality has an impact on one’s pocketbook – through increased property values – might spring some people into action!

Thu
15
Aug

Four tips to help maximize Social Security

Incorporating Social Security into a retirement strategy is a smart move. The money taken out of your paycheck every month may be unwelcome now, but it can give you monthly income later in life.
However, some question if Social Security will last long enough for those in the work force now to be able to receive these benefits. According to Social Security trustees, enough reserves exist for the system to pay 100 percent of promised benefits until 2033, without further reform. Full benefits are available at age 65 for those born before 1938, gradually increasing to age 67 for those born in 1960 or later. There is more to Social Security than just applying for retirement benefits when you are eligible at age 62 or over. By waiting, you can maximize your benefits, which will increase every year you choose to wait to file for Social Security retirement benefits.

Thu
15
Aug

August 1 many new laws took effect

When the calendar flipped from July to August, many of the laws passed during the 2013 Legislative session took effect. The law that received the most attention was marriage equality. However, many other important laws affecting our community were also enacted.
Here are some examples of laws that may not be as familiar to you.

Thu
15
Aug

A wild time on the High Plains


Writer Mary Lee Hagert’s son Kevin stands atop a craggy butte in majestic Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (photos by Mary Lee Hagert/Review)

I’ve just returned from the Wild West, and I’m not referring to the re-enactment of 1890s gunslingers shooting up Main Street in Deadwood, S.D.
No, I mean the new Wild West, the one that’s cropped up more than a century after the days when drifters got into quick-draw duels on the Dakota Territory’s High Plains.
A vacation in the Dakotas wasn’t on my family’s radar a month ago. But after discovering all the campsites were reserved at our top choice -- Rocky Mountain National Park -- we weren’t sure where to go.

Sun
11
Aug

Our Capitol: one of a kind

Minnesota’s State Capitol is one of the most beautiful in the entire country. It is more than 100 years old and was first opened in January 1905, after 12 years of planning and building. Recently, final approval was given to restore and update Minnesota’s “people’s house.” The restoration will keep the Capitol operating for another 100 years.
The current building is actually Minnesota’s third building to serve as the capitol. It has the world’s second largest self-supported marble dome, behind the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome, Italy. The building includes 23 different types of stone, including 16 varieties of marble from around the world and granite and limestone from Minnesota.

Sun
11
Aug

Food shelves throughout state get boost

Thousands of concerned, compassionate Minnesotans came together to support those in need during the 2013 March Campaign, raising more than $8.3 million and almost 4 million pounds of food. That is the equivalent of a year’s worth of meals for more than 7,700 families of four.
Most of the money and food raised remained in communities throughout the state to the immediate benefit of local food shelves.
However, those inspiring cold-weather efforts will be back into warm focus this week as 288 food shelves throughout the state begin receiving a portion of $775,000 from Minnesota FoodShare. This additional benefit is from donations that came directly to the program during the month of March.

Thu
08
Aug

Prevent illness with vaccines

No one likes getting shots. It especially can be uncomfortable for small children and their parents who bring them to the doctor – at least for a few minutes.  But getting a child properly immunized is one of the most important decisions a parent can make for the safety and welfare of his or her child.
Vaccinations are essential to decreasing the risks of serious diseases and infections. They not only help keep children safer and healthier, but they also help stop the spread of deadly, preventable diseases.

Mon
05
Aug

How much does technology cost?

How much do you spend on technology each month? Technology, and mobile devices in particular, can definitely make your life easier, but they also add to your regular expenses.

Mon
29
Jul

Spouses have a significant benefit with Social Security

Social Security can be an important financial asset for married couples when the time comes to apply for retirement benefits. In many cases, one spouse may have earned significantly more than the other,or have worked for a longer span of years. Or it could be that one spouse stayed home to do the work of raising the children or caring for elderly family members while the other focused on a career.

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