Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web


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This week: Long-term-care insurance, home-schooling your kids, things you should do before borrowing, history's strangest taxes, and 12 things you're doing wrong before noon.

1. Before You Take Out a Loan

[Debt Roundup] “We are still big advocates of being debt-free, and are working toward that goal in our own lives, but along the way we’ve learned that there can be smart ways to borrow money. Here are some things you might want to consider before you take out a loan.”

Before you borrow, you should look at yourself like a lender will. This article will help you do that by explaining things like down payments, debt-to-income ratios and how the length of the loan will affect the payments. It’s basic stuff, but if you’re new to the borrowing game, good info.

2. Strange and Unusual Taxes!

[Dinks Finance] “Common goods like tea, sugar and alcohol have all been taxed, but some surprisingly odd items have been taxed as well. Read on for 11 strange and unusual taxes that have cropped up over the centuries and learn why a few are still in play to this day.”

This article is just for fun, but some of the things that have been taxed over the millennia will definitely make for great water cooler conversation — for example, the tax on windows put in place in England in 1696. Then there was the urine tax, put in place by a Roman emperor in the first century. There are also strange taxes that some U.S. states assess today, like the tax on blueberries in Maine.

3. Should I Home-School My Kids?

[Dumb Little Man] “According to the National Home Education Research Institute, home education now grows at a rate of 7 percent to 15 percent per year. The majority of home-schooled students are in first through eighth grades but tens of thousands of high school students are home-schooled as well.”

The author of this post has home-schooled her kids and offers suggestions on what to look for in a curriculum. Her suggestions include looking for a good support staff, individualizing learning plans and lots more. If you’re in the market for home-schooling options, it’s a must-read.

4. Long-Term-Care Insurance: Necessity or Rip-Off?

[Escaping Dodge] “As a person in my 50s with aging parents, this is a subject I ponder more frequently than I’d like. None of us are getting out alive and there is a pretty good chance we’ll all need some form of skilled nursing services if we live long enough.”

As a person in my late 50s whose parents are already gone, this is a subject I’ve also pondered, but for myself.

Long-term-care insurance is a tough call. It’s expensive, and since many won’t ever need long-term nursing care (neither of my parents did), it could be wasted money. This article takes a good approach. The author simply lists the pluses and minuses, then arrives at a conclusion. It’s the same one I’ve personally reached. See if you agree.

5. 12 Things You’re Doing Wrong Before Noon (and How to Fix Them)

[Wise Bread] “Turns out this time of day can set the tone for how productive, happy and satisfied you feel overall. Learn about some common missteps that may be derailing your day and what moves you can make to fix them right now.”

There’s no surprises here. Getting a late start, not eating a good breakfast, failing to exercise, failing to plan your day — all are ways we sometimes squander what can potentially be the most important hours of our workday. But just because the problems and solutions are well-known doesn’t mean a reminder won’t help. Check it out.

What do you like?

We’re always on the hunt for talented personal finance writers and interesting sites. If you’ve got a favorite, let us know below or on our Facebook page! You can also talk to us about anything you’d like simply by hitting “reply” to your daily email update. (Not subscribed? Fix that right now!)

Stacy Johnson

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I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

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Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

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