Feb 8 (Reuters) – Even if your financial situation
isn’t complex, your taxes might be. That’s why the Internal
Revenue Service and some private nonprofits offer free tax
preparation and counseling for older people and low-income
filers who need to know their way around myriad credits and
Commercial tax preparation programs have jumped in, too,
providing at least stripped-down versions of their programs for
free. Here’s where to go now if you want help on your taxes, but
you don’t want to pay for it.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – We all know what we are supposed to say about day trading: It’s horrible, a scam, a vestige of the 1990s tech boom, and just for naive chumps.
But still, there are days when it would be nice to lock in a big win, or pile into a favorite stock when it seems to be beaten up.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – By now, the class of 2011 has moved on to real life. There’s some good news: Early reports show they are getting better job offers than their older brothers and sisters did when they graduated. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that new grads started jobs with an average salary of $41,701, up 2.3 percent from the 2010 level.
But there’s some bad news, too. The Class of 2011 is said to be the most indebted ever, with average loan balances near $27,000, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org. Folks who graduated in May started getting bills for their first payments right around Thanksgiving. Ouch.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s all fun and margaritas when you first book a cruise. But that “ticket” is actually a contract that can run more than a dozen pages, and gives away more rights to the cruise ship company than you may realize.
“People will buy the ticket without knowing this, and they won’t even look at it before they step on the cruise ship,” said Joseph Goldberg, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based consumer attorney who reviewed the ticket contract posted on the Carnival Cruise Lines website (here)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new video game has gotten its hooks into Brian Kealer, a 26-year-old San Francisco software engineer. He’s not killing birds or using his vocabulary to impress his friends. No, Kealer is after real prizes, like the iPad2 he just scored. And he’s playing with his bank account.
At least once every day, Kealer signs into SaveUp.com, a new financial website, and does some financial activity that wins him credits he can then use to play for big money prizes. To earn those credits, he can pay a credit card bill, deposit money into his savings account, or watch a sponsored video about personal finance.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – I have a particularly resourceful friend who lives a pretty good life, despite never having quite enough money. She is hardworking and popular with her wide circle of friends, neighbors and colleagues. She networks, barters and works for what she really wants.
A former chef turned teacher, she finessed enough grant money to pay for a two-week trip to cooking school in Italy. She knows where all the good used furniture stores are, has bartered home cleaning for a two-week stay in a vacation home in Vermont, and is working on an arrangement now that will get her free housing in France for several weeks this summer. Tres bien!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s a cherished and long-held belief in the personal finance world that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The catechism goes like this: if a service is “free” that just means you can’t see the hidden fees, or it’s a really lousy service, or it’s a trap, and not free at all.
That’s been especially true in the past of “free” financial advice, typically offered by salespeople who make money when they sell products to consumers who are unaware that the sales commissions are buried in the product’s costs. It was also true of a certain jingle-happy “free” credit reporting site that had to pay $950,000 in credit monitoring services after it was sued by the Federal Trade Commission.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ask any behaviorist: Resolutions rarely work. They are too big and sweeping. The minute you fall off the bandwagon, you abandon attempts to climb back on, mostly because you’re too busy hating yourself.
So forget about the “I’m going to lose 20 pounds AND track every penny that I spend” fervor. Instead just do what does work – actionable small steps. Here’s a list of ways you can improve your finances in 2012, usually in just a few minutes at a time, and without any self-loathing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the waning days of 2011, the federal government has handed gamblers two gifts. The Justice Department cleared the way for states to start legalizing online poker and other online betting games. And the Internal Revenue Service agreed to a tax court decision that will allow professional gamblers to take big tax losses.
Does that mean you can now write off all those Knicks games and bar nights you and your fantasy league buddies attend? What about the Vegas sprees that support your habit? Sorry, not so much.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The youngest retirement investors are not abandoning the stock market and actually are more likely than other groups to have stock-heavy portfolios in their 401(k) accounts, according to a study of plan participants released on Wednesday.
The study also found plan participants are cutting back on the amount of their own company stock in their retirement plans and that 401(k) investors generally resumed a more balanced approach to investing in 2010 than they had in the fear-driven years of 2008 and 2009.