Recent events are a reminder to shore up your personal computer, change your passwords and be wary of attempts to fleece you.

For state and federal taxes, the April 15 deadline is just days away. Some last-minute filing tips for those who’ve procrastinated – and what to do if you can’t pay what you owe.

When New York financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced to life in prison for masterminding one of the biggest investor Ponzi schemes in U.S. history, it was an unnerving reminder that entrusting your money to a professional can be risky. Last week, five former employees of Madoff’s investing firm were found guilty of helping him execute fake trades and phony documents, which contributed to the estimated $18 billion fraud.

The massive Target data breach rocked the retail world and shook up consumers’ confidence. The deadline to sign up for the company’s offer of free credit monitoring is coming up soon.

The letter was enticing: You’ve “won” a $3.9 million sweepstakes prize. To collect it, all that’s required is depositing an enclosed $3,900 check to cover so-called “processing fees.” But consumer experts say the letter - as well as pitches that arrive by phone, email or social media - are just another classic scam intended to fleece consumers of their money. A look at sweepstakes scams, as well as the Better Business Burea’s Top 10 consumer frauds for last year.

For millions of uninsured Americans, the March 31 deadline to get signed up for mandatory health care coverage is just weeks away. For those who’ve procrastinated or got fed up trying to sign up online, there are still many options for getting enrolled in health insurance. If you miss the March deadline, you’ll likely pay a tax penalty.

It’s a frightening prospect. You fall and break a hip and need several months of nursing home care. Or you’re recovering from a stroke and need help bathing and getting dressed each morning. Or your husband is slipping into dementia and requires assistance with daily activities.

Beyond simply passing the collection plate every Sunday, many churches are also preaching the salvation of healthy personal finances. In weekly classes, workshops and small-group gatherings, churches like Impact Community Church in Elk Grove are showing the faithful a path to getting debt-free.

So you’re looking at your credit score, wondering how it’s ever going to get better. Or you’re thinking you should do something about socking away more money for that South American vacation, the kids’ college fund, your eventual retirement.

For hundreds of California’s ag and farm families, figuring out how to hand off – or sell off – the family business can be treacherous ground. Whether it’s a dairy farm, a rice-growing operation, a tomato-processing plant or a cattle ranch, there can be any number of complicating factors: family squabbles, rising land values, adult children with other lifestyle/career choices, a lack of succession planning to decide who gets what. A look at how several Central Valley multi-generation families are making those tough decisions.

Valentine’s Day is always about hearts, flowers, chocolates. But some say the heart of the healthiest relationships is...money. A look at some fiscally romantic tips

He’s the “mad man” of money. Jim Cramer, CNBC’s talker – and yeller – about stock investing, says there’s a lot of money to be made in the market, as long as you’re careful. In his new book, “Get Rich Carefully,” he talks about the financial meltdown that drove many investors away from stocks, his personal investing mistakes, the failings of Wall Street and politicians, as well as the CEOs he admires most.

Every year, Erin Huffstetler keeps her Christmas spending below $100 - for a family of four. We look at how she did it last year - for $99.70 - and how she’s already started on Christmas 2014. The fulltime “frugal lifestyle” blogger shares her banking, shopping and thrifting techniques. And actually makes it sound like fun, not a chore.

California’s tax-filing season is underway and more than 1,100 early birds have already jumped in to file their 2013 taxes

Lots of folks start the New Year with good intentions, like losing weight, dropping bad habits, learning a new language. When it comes to money-minded resolutions, there’s no end of choices. A look at a few recommended by experts.

Don’t want it; can’t use it? With retailers bogged down by billions in return fraud, some store chains are tightening their policies on holiday gift returns. Here’s how to return those gifts without a hassle.

For 30 years, the FTTS investment club has been buying, selling and holding stocks. The all-women investing group says their longevity is a combination of luck, homework and humor. The group still has 15 of its original members.

Amid the hectic holiday season, who but Scrooge wants to think about ho-hum money matters like taxes, stock losses, IRAs and 401(k)s? But it might pay off to take a few moments to look at these 10 year-end smart money moves.

Not every holiday gift comes from a catalogue or off the retailer’s shelf. From the local craft fair to online Etsy-like websites, there’s no end of homemade gifts to buy. But what if you want something custom - like a hand-stitched quilt, a mid-century coffee table or a pair of agate earrings?

Financial bullying among couples can take many forms, from withholding cash or credit cards to demanding receipts for every shopping trip. A look at the problem and how to fix it.

Want to make a change on your Medicare coverage? Seniors have until Dec. 7 to make changes

As families gather for Thanksgiving, financial experts say it can be the ideal time to serve up something extra: the money talk

Worried about getting buried in holiday spending? The pros offer some advice on keeping it frugal but festive

Whether it’s loud chatter at a grocery checkout counter or constant texting, tweeting and Instagramming at the dinner table, everyone has seen – or been guilty of – boorish behavior on cellphones. We talk with writer Susannah Snider, who addresses mobile manners in the December issue of Kiplinger’s financial magazine.

Being asked to handle a friend or family member’s financial affairs is a huge responsibility. Before you accept the task, be mindful of the pitfalls, as well as the signs of potential elderly financial fraud.

Investors who mistakenly bought millions of shares in a bankrupt company – instead of Twitter Inc. – are just one example of how the stock market can be a tricky place for the unwise and uncareful.

Just about everyone, from new college graduates to retirees, can use a little financial tuneup. Next Saturday, the Greater Sacramento Financial Planning Day offers 40 planners who will answer your questions – for free – at an annual event that draws hundreds.

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