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Five Spot: What’s hot for Halloween? Turtles, ‘Walking Dead,’ superheroes


Expect to see a lot of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael this Halloween.

Some of the most popular costumes are expected to be based on the reptilian superheroes after the 2014 release of the film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” according to Steven Silverstein, CEO of Spirit Halloween, a chain of more than 1,150 pop-up stores devoted to costumes and decor for the holiday. Children love the Turtles, and so do adults who watched them on TV and in movies when they were kids, he says.

Girls are expected to choose costumes based on the Disney TV movie, “The Descendants,” the story of the children of Disney characters such as Cruella De Vil and Cinderella.

College savings: 5 things to consider about 529 plans


Saving to cover the ever-rising costs of a university education can be daunting, but one way parents can potentially bridge that gap is by investing through a 529 college savings plan.

The plans, named after the federal tax code that created them in 1997, permits savers to invest in mutual funds and withdraw the gains free of federal taxes as long as the money is spent on college expenses. The tax benefits and potential returns from investments can offer a better alternative over time than simply socking away money in a bank account or certificates of deposit.

Beware of scams: Financial elder abuse is a thriving industry


An important subset of elder abuse is financial, targeting people’s retirement security and life savings.

Last year, Consumer Reports recapped a recent survey of 2,600 financial planners, and the findings were astonishing: “56 percent said they knew older clients who had been subject to unfair, deceptive or abusive practices. Among reported cases, the average loss estimate was $140,500.”

Car deals abound for 2015 models


DETROIT — If you’re looking for a bargain on a new car — and you’re not too picky about getting the latest model — September is the time to buy.

At least 31 models are being redesigned for 2016, including big names like the BMW 3 Series and the Toyota Prius, according to the car buying site Edmunds.com. So, dealers are slashing thousands of dollars off the cost of 2015 models to clear them off their lots.

5 Spot: Use back-to-school season for your own fresh start


Even if you don’t have kids heading back to school, we can all use this time of year for a fresh start:

Get organized: Staying on top of bills, appointments and spending can be time-consuming. Consider Cozi, a free app ideal for busy people who need to keep multiple calendars and coordinate a variety of events. Features include giving multiple people access to the same calendars and lists, reminder emails and a weekly shopping list.

Do you have a senior discount?


For seniors, each and every transaction should begin with the question, “Do you have a senior discount?”

“If they don’t have one on the books, they might offer one anyway. It can’t hurt to ask,” said Paula Clark, Kenosha County Aging and Disability Resource Center community outreach coordinator.

Back to school: Boost your teen’s money savvy


The best way to help your teens avoid making common financial blunders in adulthood (living beyond their means, racking up credit card debt, etc.) is to start them on the road to savvy money management early. Here are some things you might do:

— Encourage your teens to get a job. While supplying welcome disposable income, jobs also teach kids about the value of time and hard work. A purchase that looked perfectly reasonable when parents were paying for it can seem less necessary when they realize they have to work five hours to earn it.

Can you afford to live to 100?


How long will you live? It’s a key question in retirement planning — and one many of us answer with an educated guess, according to Consumer Reports.

If you’re healthy and your family tree has branches with staying power, you may figure that you have decades ahead. If your parents died early of natural causes, you may assume a shorter life.

Deep cleaning: When to toss common household items


The ritual of deep cleaning doesn’t just clear the cobwebs from your ceilings (and your head); it’s essential for great health, too. Knowing when to pitch everything from medication to your smoke alarm helps you and your family sleep better, stay safer, heal faster and more. This room-by-room guide outlines some surprising expiration dates.

When to toss: Replace your pillows every year.

Five Spot: Water-saving tips that can help any household


Water conservation expert Tracy Quinn of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that making just a few small changes to our daily habits in the kitchen can result in big water savings. “Every little bit helps.”

— Don’t rinse scraps of food down the sink after dinner. Scrape them into your garbage pail. (This is a good use for all those takeout napkins that seem to clutter everyone’s “junk drawer.”)

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