Financial Tools For Fiscal Health

Kiplinger's magazine has put together a list of the best of everything financial to help people make the right decisions. Vera Gibbons, a special correspondent for the magazine, summarized some of the article's major points for The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
  • STOCKS:

    Gibbons told Smith that after a summer full of investment issues, oil prices are down and interest rates and inflation are in check. "So we think there's momentum to move stocks higher," she said.

    Smith asked what one single stock the magazine would recommend right now, "At the top of our list is Johnson & Johnson," she said. "It's just a consistent performer. They've been paying a dividend consistently for 44 years, raising it consecutively. Plus the company sits on three sturdy legs: medical devices, pharmaceuticals and branded consumer articles like Band-Aids and Tylenol. So they'll be able to peddle their products, come rain or shine."

  • RETIREMENT:

    For those who are looking to save for retirement, Gibbons said a Roth IRA account is the best investment vehicle. While she noted that Roth IRAs don't offer a tax break up front, you can withdraw the contribution at any time, tax-free. She said earnings can be withdrawn to buy your first home or pay for college, assuming the account has been open for at least five years.

    "Maximum contributions are $4,000 this year, providing you meet the income requirements," Gibbons said. If you are over 50, $5,000 is the maximum contribution. The income limits are $110,000 if you are single, $160,000 if you are married.

  • ENERGY:

    Gibbons noted that most electronic items continue to draw power even when they're turned off, and said consumers can save money by purchasing a power strip called a "smart strip."

    The Smart Strip, from Smart Home USA, "stops drawing juice when your gadgets are off. It is a unique feature for a power strip. It's only about $32, and you'll make up for that in the money you save on your electricity bills in a couple of months," Gibbons said.

  • CELL PHONES:

    Gibbons recommended logging on to letstalk.com which allows users to compare up to eight cell phone plans side-by-side in order to find the best one for their needs. She said if you haven't changed your cell phone plan in a year, it is probably time to because deals are changing all the time.

  • PROTECT AGAINST ID THEFT:

    Gibbons also said identity theft is a huge problem. You can help to prevent yourself from becoming a victim by buying a cross-cut paper shredder from Fellowes.

    "Everybody should have one," Gibbons said.

    The Fellowes shredder can shred up to eight pieces of paper and even handles staples, she said. It's priced at about $62 and can be found at most office-supply stores.

    Editor's Note: A previous version of this story identified Smart Home USA with an incorrect company name. We apologize.