Archive for February, 2010

Turbo Tax Review

Turbo Tax Review
I’ve used Intuit’s TurboTax to file my income taxes for the last five years. During that time, I’ve used a few different versions including the desktop and online versions of the software. I like the online version the best, and currently use the TurboTax Home and Business to handle my business filing needs. [...]

linklings, plutus award nomination edition

If you had to rank the biggest rewards from blogging, #2 would definitely be the recognition of your peers (#1 is communicating directly with readers – I love getting emails, even if I’m Mr. Procrastination in answering them). But in the #2 category I was surprised to hear from Flexo over at Consumerism Commentary that [...]

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linklings, plutus award nomination edition is an original article from the website brip blap.

Get Credit Card Debt Relief! I’m Giving Away Free DebtGoal Subscriptions

The other week, I discussed some interesting DIY debt reduction programs and strategies that you can try out for low cost. There are some things you can do to reduce your debt for free and permanently, but it will take some work and a change in your habits. The most effective debt solution [...]

Get Credit Card Debt Relief! I’m Giving Away Free DebtGoal Subscriptions

Switching to Virginia Education Savings Trust (VEST) Plan

When I opened the 529 college savings plan for our first daughter in 2005, the plan offered by New Jersey was never an option to me because there is not tax benefit for using NJ 529 plan even for the state residents. But that wasn’t all. What really made me stay away from NJ college [...]

Original Post on The Sun’s Financial Diary

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Switching to Virginia Education Savings Trust (VEST) Plan

Join Me on the 401(k) Coach Radio Show Tuesday at 1 p.m.

I just wanted to throw a quick reminder out there that I’ll be on the 401(k) Coach’s blog talk radio show today at 1 p.m EST hosted by Dean Voelker. Dean is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist based out of South Bend, IN, which is just a few miles from where I live. You can [...]

About the Author: Jeremy is a retirement planning specialist and founder of Generation X Finance and the guide to Financial Planning at About.com. To learn more, follow Jeremy on Twitter.

Join Me on the 401(k) Coach Radio Show Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Special Tax Deduction for Haiti Donations Made in 2010

Most of us watched as the horrible events unfolded after the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12th, 2010, eventually killing over 217,000 people. Financial aid began pouring into the ravaged country, totaling more than $625 million at the writing of this article. However, much more is going to be needed to bring a country that was already on the brink of poverty back to an acceptable, stable state.

The U.S. government has extended the deadline for Haitian donations deductible on your 2009 tax returns to February 28, 2010 through the Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act, signed by President Obama on January 22, 2010. Here’s some information on where to donate and how to claim your tax deduction:

Donation Resources

Donations must be monetary in order to take a tax deduction, and also must be given to a U.S. charity for specific use to the Haitian disaster relief.

A fantastic list of resources, including a description of how your donations will be used, has been compiled by CNN. Each of these charities has been highly rated by Charity Navigator, a website that rates charities based on two broad areas of financial health: their organizational efficiency and their organizational capacity.

Necessary Documentation for Haiti Tax Deduction

You must keep documentation showing that you made this donation (you do not need to submit this documentation if you e-file, but keep it on file in case of an audit). The documentation could be a bank statement, a cell phone bill (if you donate through text messaging), a thank you letter from the charity, a credit card statement, etc. Make sure it includes the name of the charity you donated to, the amount that you donated, and the date of the contribution. For donations of $250 or more, it is required that you have a record from the charity as proof.

How to Claim Haiti Tax Deduction

The deduction is available to those who itemize. Deduct your donation on Schedule A of your 1040 form under the “Gifts to Charity” section, Line 16 (‘Gifts by cash or check’). See instructions on page A-8 for more information.

Written by Amanda


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QuickTax Platinum Download Review and Giveaway

With tax season ramping up, the online tax preparers are out in full force!  Last week, I reviewed the popular UFile, this week, it’s QuickTax Platinum, the download version (link).   QuickTax offered to giveaway 5 copies of QuickTax Platinum download version to Million Dollar Journey readers (value: $69.99 each).
What’s the difference between the download and [...]

No Debt Plan

Have you heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, then you should plan to fail”? Well how about making a “no debt plan” to keep yourself out of debt?  Well Kevin, of the blog No Debt Plan, is doing just that; sharing his tips for avoiding debt.
His site is setup to help people with [...]

Credit Card Act: New Laws Are In Effect, So What’s Next?

What do you think of the new credit card laws and the Credit Card Act (aka the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act) ? With card issuers’ profit margins under assault, what does this portend for card holders and consumers?
The financial world has been quite abuzz about the Credit Card Act that was [...]

Credit Card Act: New Laws Are In Effect, So What’s Next?

When you Sue a School, Does Anyone Win?

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have come across a story where a Pennsylvania school system has been allegedly spying on their students. The Rosemont’s Harriton High School’s computers included software that would allow them to turn on the webcam whenever they wanted. This would effectively allow them to spy [...]

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Social Lending Arbitrage Steals My Attention

Social lending arbitrage. It’s the newest finance game in town. A reader, Derek, shares the details of how to pull off this fascinating arbitrage strategy. A special thanks to Derek for sharing his story with all of us!

Social Lending Arbitrage Explained

Let me tell you about my arbitrage strategy that I’ve used successfully for almost a year on both Prosper and Lending Club.

In this instance, I borrowed $10,000 using Lending Club at a relatively cheap rate of 7.78%. I say relatively cheap in that A) it was being offered to me, and B) the price tag in the form of interest was small given the fact that it was actually being offered. This is by no means free money, so your returns will be lower than if it were a no interest credit card offer, however I’ve noticed those credit card offers have disappeared with the credit crunch we’ve been seeing over the last two years, and bank lending has similarly been affected as well.

That being said, my risk appetite is somewhat greater than the average person’s, and my investments tend to reflect that. I took the $10,000 I borrowed from Lending Club, and put it right back into Lending Club (with a balance also going to Prosper as well), looking for somewhat riskier borrowers than myself. I applied $25 per lending note and spread the total notes by risk class (A, B, C, ratings, etc), taking into account current default rates by risk class to get an estimated return. Looking at all the notes I invested in, I know about 2.5% will default based on current data. But the fact that I diversified my investment into as many notes as possible will (hopefully) minimize my default rate.

A Closer Look at the Numbers

Taking all that into account, my return on investment is close to 15%, with a 2.5% default rate means my net return is close to 12.5%. I pay 7.78% on that capital, and pocket the difference (4.72%), or about $500 over three years.

Yes, this is a lot of work for $500, but not only does it add up quickly, its something that can be built off itself very quickly — the compounding returns only make my returns bigger over time. In my mind, I’m also helping people fulfill their needs by supplying them capital to accomplish their goals. If I can make money and their needs are satisfied, then everybody wins.

I do understand this game isn’t for everyone – I have enough cash in the bank to cover my debt if all my notes default (which has next to no chance of ever happening). But it is free money, and its a very fun 10-minute a week hobby.

More about Derek

I think its good to frame what I do with how I go about doing it. I’m a financial analyst at a growing company (a rarity these days) and because I look at capital flows professionally, over the last few years, I’ve picked up on a few tricks used by companies to grab a decent return on their capital, as well as increasing their capital on-hand for capital buildouts and revenue streams. That being said, I’ve modeled some of those strategies (albeit on a much smaller scale) in my personal life as well. Some with great results, others not so great.

One of those strategies is finding good returns on capital, and having capital offers come your way at a relatively cheap price.

Action Plan

Of course, Derek had me at hello on this one! I’m considering a small scale social lending arbitrage experiment at Lending Club for some reader enjoyment. However, it might have to wait until our credit card arbitrage strategy is exhausted. Either way, stay tuned for more details on social lending arbitrage!

Written by Madison


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Creating a Home Directory

Anyone who believes in the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” will also agree that the best way to save money is by managing what you already have well. Without some kind of organization in place, this can be easier said than done. That’s where a home directory comes [...]

Original Post on The Sun’s Financial Diary

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Creating a Home Directory

Credit Card and Debit Cards No Longer Have Automatic Overdraft and Over Limit Protection

New Credit Card Law Puts a Hold on Over Limit Charges
As you have probably heard by now, the CARD Act takes effect on February 22nd. Many of these changes are part of the law, but a lot of banks are also making voluntary changes to their programs. There are a lot of changes to help [...]

About the Author: Jeremy is a retirement planning specialist and founder of Generation X Finance and the guide to Financial Planning at About.com. To learn more, follow Jeremy on Twitter.

Credit Card and Debit Cards No Longer Have Automatic Overdraft and Over Limit Protection

10 Ways to Save Money on a New Car

I know all the arguments for buying a used car. Most personal finance writers will tell you that buying a two year old car with low mileage is the best way to go. I agree with them but those two year old, low mileage, accident free vehicles are hard to find at a [...]

small human regrets

About four years into the business of managing new humans – i.e. raising kids – I’ve realized I have some regrets, unsurprisingly. You might not think four years with two kids (Little Buddy, almost 4, Pumpkin, almost 2) is long enough to develop a list of regrets, but it is. My feeling is [...]

If you read brip blap via RSS, you might want to visit the site and see the new theme; if you like it, it’s the frugal theme and if you buy it through that link, you help support brip blap.

small human regrets is an original article from the website brip blap.

Square Foot Gardening: How To Grow Vegetables In Your Own Backyard

This introduction to square foot gardening first appeared nearly two years ago here at Frugal Dad. I’ve republished here with a few updates sprinkled in. With the weather warming up here in the south I’m itching to get started on this year’s garden, and plan to build a much larger on-the-ground square foot garden. Look [...]

Post by Frugal Dad

Guide To Sewing Buttons: How To Sew On A Button Correctly

As a follow up to my article “Frugal Tips: How To Make 10 Ordinary Things Last Longer“, I bring you this awesome guest post by Mrs. Accountability. She writes at Out of Debt Again, a personal finance blog where she details her family’s journey to getting out of debt and living frugally. If [...]

Guide To Sewing Buttons: How To Sew On A Button Correctly

embrace life

From time to time I like to put a video up briefly; this one is touching. I’m a bit behind the curve – CNN’s already featured this video – but it seems worth sharing. Call me a sucker for sentimental safety reminders, but I imagine that the number one health tip – in [...]

If you read brip blap via RSS, you might want to visit the site and see the new theme; if you like it, it’s the frugal theme and if you buy it through that link, you help support brip blap.

embrace life is an original article from the website brip blap.

Graduate School Costs & Options

Graduate school costs are an expense that’s tough to afford. If you need additional skills or a master’s degree to keep your job or advance at work, how can you afford to pay for grad school?
Costs & Benefits of Graduate School
U.S. News & World Report looked at some of the best graduate schools and found that  today’s average [...]

Hedging Your Stock Investments: The Basics

More stock investing tips on the subject of hedging.

Money is money, no matter what currency.

Once you’ve opened an online broker account and consider yourself a stock investor, there are a few basic things you’ll need to think about when dealing with your investments: you’ll want to grow your portfolio but you’ll also want to protect [...]

Hedging Your Stock Investments: The Basics

Selling Wine – Almost Like Blogging

This past holiday weekend my wife, my dog, and I headed down to the wine country of Paso Robles, California. Each year a group of 17 vineyards called the Far Out Wineries get together to host a wine tasting event. For a price of $35 you can spend 4 days visiting any of [...]

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Friday Finance Findings for February 19th

This week I wanted to kick off the Friday Finance Findings with a few fun pieces of trivia about money.
China was the first country to use paper money. Ancient paper money can be traced back to the Pai-Lu P’i-pi (white deer-skin money) of Han Dynasty (140 BC) and the Fei-Chien (flying money) of Tang Dynasty [...]

About the Author: Jeremy is a retirement planning specialist and founder of Generation X Finance and the guide to Financial Planning at About.com. To learn more, follow Jeremy on Twitter.

Friday Finance Findings for February 19th

Sometimes, The Best Lessons Learned in Life Are Learned The Hard Way

If there were one phrase in life that sums up lessons learned the hard way, it would be the infamous “I told you so.”  At one point or another, you were informed by a friend, family member, or a professional, exactly what you should do, disregarded it, and paid the price.  So for your entertainment, [...]

Original Post on The Sun’s Financial Diary

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Sometimes, The Best Lessons Learned in Life Are Learned The Hard Way

RRSP Contribution Deadline and Giveaway Reminder

RRSP Deadline and Contribution Limit
A quick reminder that the RRSP deadline is fast approaching.  For tax year 2009, the last day to contribute is Monday March 1st, 2010.   Your RRSP contribution limit should be on last years Notice of Assessment (NOA) or 18% of your last years earned income up to a maximum contribution of [...]

Free Online Tax Filing, Tax Preparation Services & More

It’s the time of year to think about working on your taxes. I just started looking into mine and like any other year, it’s going to be “fun”. Oh Joy. But I expect it to be more “fun” for us this year, given that our small business projects are now our dominant [...]

Free Online Tax Filing, Tax Preparation Services & More

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