Monthly Investment Message: March 2018

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

March 2018

Factors That Promote Financial Success

During the last year, I had the opportunity to hear several well-known personal finance speakers talk about the characteristics and practices of financially successful people. Audiences are usually very interested in this topic because it provides a motivational roadmap and specific tips to follow.


At the 2017 Financial Planning Association (FPA) conference, the final general session speaker was financial author and …

Monthly Investment Message: February 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

February 2017

Factors That Affect Investment Risk Tolerance

To help investors objectively assess their investment risk tolerance, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has an online Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz at 

Developed by Dr. Ruth Lytton at Virginia Tech and Dr. John Grable at the University of Georgia, the quiz has 13 multiple choice questions and provides users with instant feedback about their capacity to handle investment risk. 


The questions …

What are Student Loan Borrowers Thinking? Insights from Focus Groups on College Selection and Student Loan Decision Making

Johnson, C. L., O’Neill, B., Worthy, S., Lown, J. M., Bowen, C. F. (2016). What are student loan borrowers thinking? Insights from focus groups on college selection and student loan decision making. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 27(2), 184-198.

Brief Description: This study used data from online focus groups to understand college students’ decision-making process when borrowing money to finance their education. Respondents were asked eight questions regarding their college selection and student loan decision-making. Results suggest that (a) …

Monthly Investment Message: May 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

May 2017

The Benefits of Being a Future-Minded Planner

Want to be a successful investor? Develop your future-mindedness. That is the conclusion of a recent study that found a connection between positive financial behaviors, such as saving and investing, and impulsiveness and materialism.

When people focus on their future they tend to be less impulsive spenders, regardless of their level of financial literacy. In fact, the strongest predictor …

Monthly Investment Message: June 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

June 2017

Income Taxes on Investment Profits

A high priority financial goal for many people is to have a comfortable lifestyle in later life. Investing can help. Most people do not become wealthy from their earnings alone but, rather, by investing a portion of their income and letting it grow for several decades. Through a combination of regular investment deposits and compound interest, it is possible to build …

Monthly Investment Message: August 2017

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

August 2017

Retirement Planning is a 40-Year Journey

The retirement planning process has been described as a “40 (or more) year journey” from the start of someone’s working life in their 20s through retirement in their 60s (or beyond). However, it is actually much longer, if you consider how long someone can live during retirement. Unlike shorter-term financial planning goals like buying a car, a house, or saving …

Data Breaches, Credit Freezes, and Vigilance

Credit Freezes: Description, Pros and Cons, and Contact Information for Credit Reporting Agencies

Members of the Financial Security for All Community of Practice (FSA CoP) and our educational partners have developed research-based and experience-tested materials to help Americans deal with the aftermath of the Equifax hack. Below are links to their online blogs and publications:

Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself (Lisa Leslie, University of Florida IFAS Extension):

To Freeze or Not Freeze My Credit Report (Kathy Sweedler, …

What is the Retirement Saver’s Credit?

A nonrefundable retirement saver’s tax credit is available for individuals with low incomes. In 2017, a single person making up to $18,500 or a couple making $37,000 or less can qualify for a 50 percent tax credit on the first $2,000 they each save toward retirement. For example, an individual who contributes $2,000 to an IRA could qualify for a $1,000 tax credit. The tax credit phases out as income increases.

A single person earning $18,501 to $20,000 and a …

Am I Locked Into an Investment Option for My 529 Plan?

In the early days of 529 plans, once you selected an investment option within a college savings plan, you could not change that option. Only new contributions could be invested in different investment options.

Under current rules, however, the IRS allows you to change your investment options in a college savings plan once every calendar year.

For more information, see

We would like your feedback on this Personal Finance Frequently Asked Question.…

How Can I Obtain an Estimate of my Social Security Benefit?

The Social Security Administration provides a benefit estimate online at Users must establish a user name and password when they use this Web site for the first time. This is to assure that their private data is secure.

The benefit estimate includes a record of earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes. It also includes an estimate of your Social Security disability, survivor, and retirement benefits based on those earnings.Retirement benefit estimates are provided for ages …