Payday Loans

Archived Posts from Personal Finance

So its April 17th and you’re doing your taxes the very last minute. Good news, you just got an email or text from Intuit saying your e-file was REJECTED.

Fudge?

I just experienced this problem over the weekend and the annoying part was that neither TurboTax nor IRS has very clear instruction on this particular situation. I used the AGI method to verify my e-file identity. I have my exact 2010 1040 tax return on the table and I’m reading line 37 correctly, I even double checked if there was a fat finger mistake but still the e-file return was rejected, what gives?

Click to Continue Reading…

This is a post from Jeff Bogle, one of our first contributing blogger here at StopBuyingCrap. Back in 2008, Jeff left his steady corporate job at Vanguard to be a stay-at-home dad. Jeff writes regularly at Out With The Kids, a daddy blog, and you may also find his work on iVillage, Time Out New York Kids, and Curious Parents Magazine.

Surprise! Learning is Easier When You’re Having Fun

Many of the best lessons in life are learned as a child, while having fun. It’s why we could always memorize lyrics to our favorite songs with ease but struggled mightily with the periodic table in science class.

Do you want to teach your young kids about budgeting and making sound fiscal decisions? Minimize the spreadsheets and play shopkeeper.

It’s important to teach kids about the value of money, not just what you can do with it, but that you must also make choices about how to wisely use what you’ve got. When I play store with my daughters, I see that it helps them prioritize and begin thinking about the consequences of foolish spending. That’s right — I dish out my best financial decision-making assignments surrounded by picture books, fancy shoes, clothes, and feather boas.

Despite the volume of stuff in their toy chest, I strive to instill in my 6-year old and her nearly-3-year old sister an understanding that you cannot have it all. There is, after all, a finite amount of money most of us have at any given moment (no, Capital One, that was not an invitation to begin soliciting my children about the joys of revolving debt; credit cards and borrowing discussions are intentionally being saved for when they’re a tad older — thank you very much).

So, I set up an elaborate pretend toy store — books, necklaces, tutus, plush snuggle friends, I sell it all! Then, I give my daughters some cash and role-play through different situations. During one trip through my toy Mecca, they need to buy birthday gifts for family members. Another visit is spent shopping for something fun for themselves. Either way, they have to ask how much each item costs and decide if they have enough or if they have to come back after saving up a little longer. Sometimes, instead of yet another stuffed animal, they’ll opt to hold onto some of their dollars to use at Dad’s fictional ice-cream shop – because that’s important too, from time to time!

Real Impact From Fun Lessons

These lessons have yielded interesting real-life results. When my oldest gal needed a pillow and blanket for school, she had a choice to make. The first pillow she picked, she adored. It cost $16. There was another, just-as-cool pillow on sale for $8. She had a firm $15-$20 budget, which she knew going into the store. If she selected the cheaper pillow, there was a very comfy matching blanket she could afford, also on sale for $8. If she went with the pricier one, her old blanket would be accompanying her to school. The choice was hers, and hers alone. She ended up walking into her 1st day of kindergarten with a crisp new pillow and blanket set.

Playing store is one of my girls’ all-time favorite games. I truly believe it’s one of the reasons they rarely ever whine for things when we shop together. After all, they know what it’s like to be short some coin, thanks to shopping in our own living room.

Do you have your own tips and activities you engage with your children to teach them about money management? Feel free to share.

photo credit: tudy

Jeff’s Previous Post:

Wondering if there are options to free eFile for your state taxes? If you qualify and your state is in the program, you may be eligible for free state tax filing online from various tax preparation software and companies.

Since April 15 is pretty much one day away, your best bet and fastest option would be to use TurboTax’s Freedom Edition. With TurboTax’s Freedom Edition, you can receive free federal eFile along with state free file (if your state participates in the Free File Alliance).

Do you qualify for State Free Tax Filing?

  • If you make $31,000 or less in adjusted gross income for 2009 or
  • Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Active Duty in Military during 2009 with adjusted gross income of less than $57,000
  • States that qualifies: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virgina.
  • If your state is not listed but you meet one of the 3 criteria above, you can still get a large discount on your state tax filing for $14.95 (vs. regular price of $30.95).

If you don’t meet the requirements above, unfortunately you won’t be able to get free state tax online filing.  Having said that, you can still easily file your federal tax return for free online through Turbo Tax’s Online Free Edition — especially if you have a simple tax return. As mentioned, the state tax filing would set you back $30.95.

For people with low and moderate income level, the earned income tax credit (EITC/EIC) is one of the most overlooked tax credit. In 2008, 25% of taxpayers that qualify for this tax credit but miss out on it because the rules can be complicated (no surprises there), or simply because they did not know the credit exist or that they qualify for it. This is a refundable tax credit ranging from $457 to a whooping $5,657 (!!).

There’s 3 days until the April 15 tax deadline, if you haven’t filed your taxes yet because you’re a procrastinator like me, then you must check if you qualify for this tax credit.

Click to Continue Reading…

Regardless of how you feel about the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the United States, there are some important changes in this health care bill that directly impacts you, especially if you are of certain demographic.  Here’s a brief run-down and summary on the changes:

Changes That Will Happen Right Away

  • Help for the uninsured with pre-existing condition.  Amongst the many provision in the bill, $5 billion will be set aside to provide temporary coverage to uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions.  The funding will help those qualified until the new health care exchanges are put into final effect in 2014.
  • Coverage for young adults and older children.  Health care insurers will be required by law to provide coverage options for non-dependent children up to the age of 26.  This will especially be beneficial to recent college graduates who may be taking on a job without proper health care coverage, and many other young adults who are between jobs and students without coverage provided from their university or college.
  • Drug discount and assistance for seniors.  For those people that aren’t covered by Medicare Part D Drug Benefit due to gap in coverages, they will receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions.  The coverage gap is expected to be closed in 2011 as drug manufacturers will discount brand-name drugs by 50 percent, and subsequently another discounted by another 75% in 2020.
  • Pre-existing condition no longer subject to being denied coverage.  Effective six months after passage, insurers are prevented from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and from charging increased rates on policies for children with preexisting conditions.
  • No more annual or lifetime caps.  If you buy a health insurance policy, the provider will no longer be allowed to place a cap on how much it will cover.  This change will be especially important for those diagnosed with terminal and serious illnesses that may face heavy medical bills.

Changes You Should See By 2014

  • Expansion to Medicaid.  Not to be confused with medicare, medicaid is health care assistance for individuals and families with low incomes and resources — by 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include childless adults living near poverty.  A new program will also allow states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.
  • Health insurance exchanges.  Exchanges will be created to make it easier for small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed to pool resources and buy less expensive coverage.
  • Tax break for families.  Tax credits will be offered to families to offset the costs of health care premiums.  Amount of tax credits will be based on annual household income. A tax credit also becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
  • Mandated health care coverage.  If approved by Senate,  individuals would be required to buy coverage in 2014 or face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater.  The fine increases in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of income, and increases again in 2016 to $695 or 2.5 percent of income.  There is an exemption clause for poorer Americans, and subsidies will be provided to assist family of four that makes up to $88,000 annually.
Additional Resources:

This is a post from Jeff Bogle, one of our first contributing blogger here at StopBuyingCrap. Back in 2008, Jeff left his steady corporate job at Vanguard to be a stay-at-home dad. Jeff writes regularly at Out With The Kids, a daddy blog, and you may also find his work on iVillage, Time Out New York Kids, and Curious Parents Magazine.

A One-Salary Household

Hemorrhaging debt isn’t typically how a family moves to a one-salary household.

The corporate goodbye plan was hatched poolside during the summer of 2007, and began with my wife and I deciding to give our house a not-quite-extreme-but-still-impressive makeover, taking on massive debt in the process.  We knew that the move to one reliable salary would mean hitting the pause button on any major home projects, so we prioritized the most needed upgrades, those deserving immediate attention and anything else that could become a problem in the near future, and came up with the following big three:

  • Convert the sunroom & one car garage into livable space for our expanding family.
  • Replace the vinyl siding.
  • Replace the 20+ year-old old roof.

Click to Continue Reading…

Curious about the $8,000 home tax credit for first-time homebuyer?  If you’re in the position to claim this tax credit, you’ve most likely read plenty about it.  The gist is simple,  homebuyers who purchased a home in 2008, 2009 or 2010 may be able to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit. This home tax credit:

  • Applies only to homes used as your principal residence.
  • Reduces your tax bill or increases your refund, dollar for dollar.
  • Is a fully refundable tax credit, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.

Checkout this one minute and 29 seconds video by Hector from the IRS explaining the first-time home buyer tax credit.  If you don’t want to watch the video, a summary of the highlights can be found below the video.

Click to Continue Reading…

The Joy of Laziness

Before you start setting up various financial New Year resolution goals, one quick exercise you should probably do is to focus on prioritizing  your financial weakness that cost you the most money.  Whether it’s lack of will power in spending, inability to comparison shop properly, impulsive financial decisions, risky stock purchases — we all probably have made a number of blunders that has cost us more money than we’d care to admit.

The reason why I believe it’s important to focus on the weakness or mistakes that cost you the most money, is simply because the return on time investment will have a more meaningful financial impact.  Unfortunately, whether or not it’ll be easy for you to fix or improve that particular financial weakness will be another story.

But take heart, although baby steps are a perfectly legitimate way in bettering yourself, there really isn’t anything wrong with trying to tackle a big problem and failing — after all, none of us are perfect.  Maybe you tried to cut your monthly lavish spa treatment but was only able to stick to the gun for 2 months.  So what?  That two month’s worth of savings is decisively better than never taking the initiative to save.

Click to Continue Reading…

Next Page »