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Perking Up

Kristine Hayes

Kristine Hayes Nibler retired in 2022. She and her husband reside in Arizona. She enjoys spending her time reading, writing and training their four dogs.

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Perking Up

Kristine Hayes  |  Jan 18, 2018

EACH SPRING, I WATCH a fresh crop of college graduates transition from the world of fulltime academics to the world of fulltime employment. Eager to begin “adulting,” many of them focus on the salaries offered by their employer-of-choice and give little consideration to the various benefits that supplement that salary.
That’s a mistake. As someone who’s been employed fulltime for the last 26 years, I’ve learned the importance of performing a cost-benefit analysis on the perks offered by various employers.

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Aiming High

Kristine Hayes  |  Dec 28, 2017

BACK IN 2013, I WAS recently divorced, living on my own for the first time and utterly naïve about investing. I was in my late 40s, I’d lost half of my small state pension in the divorce and I was afraid I’d be working well into my 70s if I didn’t get my financial life on track.
I set the ambitious goal of having a net worth of $500,000 by 2022, when I’ll turn 55.

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Hidden Gems

Kristine Hayes  |  Dec 7, 2017

AS AN OBSESSIVE organizer, I like having everything tidied up before the start of the new year. I spend considerable time reviewing my finances and making sure my retirement plan is on track. As I was filling out my financial notebook this year, I added a new section: a list of lesser-known “benefits” I’ve recently discovered and intend to use more frequently in future.
For instance, after publishing a blog post about car ownership,

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Keeping It Private

Kristine Hayes  |  Nov 21, 2017

WHILE SITTING AT MY desk a few months ago, I received a text message from Citibank notifying me of “suspicious activity” on my primary credit card. I immediately logged onto my account and discovered someone that morning had attempted to use my credit card number at a luxury resort—one located several hundred miles from where I work. The charge had been denied, but the damage was done. I immediately cancelled the card. I also began notifying the companies I have automated payments with,

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So Rewarding

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 26, 2017

A FRIEND RECENTLY asked me the interest rate on my credit card. I admitted I had no idea. I pay off the balance in full every month and therefore don’t know, or care about, the interest rate.
I’m a minority in this regard. Only 35% of us pay off our credit card balance each month. We’re dismissed as “deadbeats” by profit-hungry credit card companies, perhaps with some justification: We reap the benefits of credit card rewards programs designed to lure the other 65% of the population into using their cards on a regular basis—and then foolishly carrying a balance.

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Driving Down Costs

Kristine Hayes  |  Sep 26, 2017

LIKE MOST PEOPLE, owning a car is my second largest monthly expense, right after housing. But unlike a lot of people, I also strive to be a super-saver, loosely defined as folks who max out their retirement accounts each year. That means I’m constantly looking for ways to cut my transportation costs.
Four years ago, when I found myself needing to buy a car, I settled on a gently used Honda CRV. Even though it was nearly six years old when I purchased it,

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Getting Sued

Kristine Hayes  |  Sep 4, 2017

LIKE MOST PEOPLE, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my car insurance. And like most people, the only time I do think about insurance is when I need to use it. Four years ago, I was involved in a collision. My car was totaled and my insurance company processed my claim quickly. Because I was deemed to be not at fault by my insurance company, I didn’t have to pay my deductible or any other expense related to the collision.

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Then and Now

Kristine Hayes  |  Aug 15, 2017

WORKING AT A COLLEGE is a bit like being in a time warp. Every year, I get older, but the students don’t. The 20-somethings I deal with make me realize just how much times have changed since I attended college.
Tuition. When I was a college student in the 1980s, 529 plans didn’t exist. Of course, tuition costs were also much lower, so there wasn’t as much need for a college savings plan.

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Growing Up (I)

Kristine Hayes  |  Jul 25, 2017

I RECENTLY RECEIVED an email from a friend asking, “What financial advice would you give to your younger self, now that you’re older?” I had to think for a while. But once I sat down to reply, I realized my attitudes about personal finance were already well-developed by the time I was in my 20s. I also realized my financial beliefs had been shaped, in part, by growing up in a family where money wasn’t exactly plentiful.

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To Buy or Not?

Kristine Hayes  |  Jun 29, 2017

FOR MORE THAN 20 years, I was a homeowner. Like most people, I had a love-hate relationship with the houses I owned. I loved building home equity in the two fixer-uppers I lived in. I loved knowing my mortgage payment would stay relatively constant from year to year. But I never enjoyed yardwork and I hated dealing with unexpected repairs, including replacing an aging sewer line in one house—to the tune of $10,000.
After I got divorced,

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Quitting Early

Kristine Hayes  |  Jun 20, 2017

I CELEBRATED MY 50th birthday a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time thinking about numbers. Specifically, I’ve been musing about when I might be able to retire from my current fulltime job. Age 55, 58, 62? Or will it need to be later?
Several studies suggest the age at which most people leave the workforce has been steadily rising over the past several decades. This is likely due,

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Social Insecurity

Kristine Hayes  |  Jun 8, 2017

I RECENTLY ATTENDED a retirement readiness seminar sponsored by the financial firm that holds most of my retirement savings. The first question the presenter asked was, “How many of you think you’ll be able to retire comfortably living off just your Social Security benefits?” I was surprised to see how many people in the audience raised their hands. But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised: It turns many of these same people couldn’t guess the average monthly Social Security benefit—and most thought it was far higher than it really is.

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Site Seeing (Part II)

Kristine Hayes  |  May 29, 2017

WHEN I REACHED my mid-40s and realized I was halfway through my working life, I figured it was time to get serious about retirement planning. A scientist by training, I began to dissect the details of my retirement accounts, including how my money was invested and at what age I could begin penalty-free withdrawals. I discovered retirement at age 55 might be a viable option, but only if I started saving a larger percentage of my income and made intelligent investment decisions.

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Wising Up

Kristine Hayes  |  Apr 25, 2017

IN THE 1990S, WHEN I started working fulltime, conventional wisdom suggested two possible routes to a comfortable retirement: Find a public sector job that offered a traditional pension plan or, alternatively, join the private sector and set aside 10% of my salary each year in my employer’s 401(k) plan. I was led to believe that if I followed either recommendation, I could sit back, let compound interest do its magic and achieve a financially secure retirement.

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My One and Only

Kristine Hayes  |  Apr 11, 2017

MY FAVORITE DIVORCE quote, if one can have such a thing, comes from comedian Louis C.K.: “No good marriage has ever ended in divorce. If your friend got divorced, it means things were bad. And now, they’re better.”
For myself, these words certainly ring true. But “better” comes at a price: Being a divorced, middle-aged woman means looking at financial matters from a different perspective than my married friends. Since I no longer have a spouse,

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