Here, a cheat list of the top tips from financial experts I've interviewed this year. Check them out. Your personal finance will benefit from their wisdom.
How To Write An Appeal Letter for More Financial Aid: Expert Reecy Aresty, author of How To Pay For College Without Going Broke, advises avoiding specifics like contrasting the school's average aid award versus what's been given to you. A classic opening line would be "We know that your institution has a proud tradition of meeting student needs, but it appears I've been left out in the cold." The letter should come from the student, not the parent. When dealing with multiple schools, Aresty suggests not naming the other colleges you're considering. Instead, say, "I got X dollars from another institution."
How To Debt Proof Your Kids: Mitchell D. Weiss, author of Life Happens: A Practical Guide to Personal Finance From College to Career, says student loans should not be more than you expect your gross income to be the first year out of college. His second rule is never to borrow from anybody but the government, where loans are the cheapest and most flexible.
How To Get Out of Debt: Thom Fox, author of Learn Now or Pay Later, counsels people that job one is to get out of denial. Then start educating yourself, reading financial blogs and using programs like Planwise, which can help map your financial future, or Beyond the Purchase, where you can take quizzes to understand the psychology of spending. If you need professional help, look for a counselor with significant experience.
How To Buy Life Insurance: Marvin Goldman, CEO of the Goldman Group says you need to ask yourself why you're buying it (and do you really need it) and if so, how much insurance do you need for what period of time. Then know the ratings from Standard & Poors or Best of the company you're buying from. And shop around. There can be significant price differences for the same coverage.
How To Avoid Tax Mistakes: Tax attorney Barbara Weltman has written dozens of business books. The top mistakes she sees are people neglecting to report income or entering information incorrectly on their tax forms. People who can't pay their taxes don't bother to file, which is a big penalty-laden mistake. She advises reading the fine print on state returns. The rules are often different from federal tax laws.