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8 Surprising Things That Are Taxable

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On the list of things you hate, somewhere in there is probably learning that something you didn’t think you had to pay tax on, you do.

Any money that comes into your life can be taxable, says San Diego-based tax attorney Sam Brotman.

“Technically, under

4 Times It May Pay to Go Into Debt

Businesspeople working in corporate training facility

Debt is a four-letter word of the bad kind, according to some people. The type of thing that shouldn’t even be considered by responsible adults. However, not all finance professionals agree debt is something to be avoided.

“Not all debt is created equal,” says Gary Poch, vice president of global consumer services for Equifax. “There may be some types of good debt.”

Specifically, experts told U.S. News it may pay to go into debt for one of the following four reasons.

Reason No. 1: To Buy a House

For many people, home ownership is only possible through debt in the form of a mortgage. The average cost of a home sold in November 2015 was $374,900, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That price makes it impossible for many U.S. families to pay cash for property, unless they save for years or even decades.

That’s not something people should have to do, says Finder.com CEO Fred Schebesta. “I’m a big believer in saving money, but it’s better to do some things while you’re young,” he says. Rather than waiting until the kids are grown and

Why You Need Financial Cheat Days

Hispanic customer shopping in storeWhen we think of “cheat days,” we tend to think of a sweet treat or indulgent meal that breaks a cycle of strict dieting. A cheat day is meant to satisfy cravings, and it’s a great way to incorporate foods you normally wouldn’t include in your diet without ruining your metabolism. Similarly, a financial cheat day can help you budget better and prevent an overindulgent, perhaps impulsive, shopping spree.

There are plenty of financial resolutions that can help fatten your wallet this year. You can check your credit card history, increase your savings or adjust your lifestyle to live well below your means. The Internet and mobile apps make it easy to monitor spending, and even blogs like this one provide helpful tips on how to maximize your savings. But sticking to a strict money diet can be mentally exhausting, and even the most diligent saver can suffer the occasional slip up here and there.

The discipline and patience needed to stick to your financial resolutions can be taxing, just like how following a strict diet can drive

Forex Technical Analysis

An analysis of the dynamics of movements in exchange rates. Therefore, its main tool is Forex quotes graphics.

For the analysis of graphs can be used for different time periods – 5-minute, hourly, 4-hour, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and so on.

In the long term fewer false movements (so-called “market noise”) and can therefore be easily distinguishable graphical models, the basic trend lines, as well as support or resistance levels. As it is possible to build a more or less objective forecast future movements Forex quotes.

Forex advisors and professional traders recommend to perform technical analysis on a weekly basis, before the opening of the next trading week on the Forex market, there are three main stages of this analysis.

Stage 1 – Wave Analysis of the price movement of the currency pair. At this stage, it is determined in a wave (impulse or corrective) is a pair of the price at the time of analysis.

If the impulse to what (the first, third, fifth) and what kind of wave (simple or extended)? If corrective, what (second or fourth) and a graphical model develops a correction?

The correct definition of the price situation is the most important in the forecasting process, as it allows to set

Should You Get a Store Credit Card?

At checkout registers in department stores across the country, you can expect to receive a smile and a sales pitch. Well, at least a sales pitch. Store credit cards are moneymakers for businesses, and you can expect clerks to dangle a nice discount in front of you in the hope you’ll apply.

The discount on store merchandise and other rewards are often tempting — and many of us take the bait — but are store credit cards a good deal?

Pros of store credit cards

Store credit cards aren’t all bad. In fact, they can come with some nice benefits. As we see it, there are four major pros for getting a store credit card.

  • Discounts: Not only do you get an initial 10 percent to 20 percent discount when you sign up, you may also be in line to receive extra discounts all year long. Store credit card holders may be the first to receive special coupons or gain access to exclusive sales events as a reward for their loyalty.
  • Flexibility: Some, but not all, store credit cards are affiliated with one of the major credit card companies. That means your department store card can also be used for purchases elsewhere as a regular

6 Things to Consider Before Paying Off a Mortgage Early

Living debt-free sounds great, and depending on where you are in life it may actually be attainable. But even if you can pay off your mortgage early, should you?

Although it may be tempting, first consider the opportunity cost of paying off your mortgage early at the expense of other goals or investment options, as well as the impact to your tax situation.

Opportunity cost. By paying off your mortgage early, you’ll save on the additional interest expense that would have been incurred in your regular payments. This savings can be significant, and will increase with the prepayment amount. However, by directing excess cash towards paying down a mortgage, those funds are no longer available for investment. The lower your interest rate, the less you stand to benefit through early retirement of debt.

How can you decide whether it is best to invest excess cash or pay off your mortgage early? Consider the following example:

Suppose the stated interest rate on your mortgage is 4 percent and you are in the 28 percent federal income tax bracket. Your after-tax mortgage rate is roughly 2.9 percent, perhaps lower if you can also deduct the mortgage interest on your state income tax return. For many investors,

Money Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

When her father was diagnosed with a respiratory disease about seven years ago, Joy Frank-Collins juggled her work schedule and parenting demands to maximize the time she spent by his side. Frank-Collins, a 41-year-old who heads her own communications firm in Marietta, Ohio, also coordinated with her siblings to pay for expenses that weren’t covered by insurance. “If you know your parents will need your help, you have to think, ‘What can I set aside to provide the necessary support for my parents?'” she says. After a long fight with his illness, her father died at age 75 in January.

As a member of the sandwich generation — adults who simultaneous care for children and aging parents — Frank-Collins had to navigate what is becoming an increasingly familiar challenge. “Individuals who find themselves in the sandwich generation are forced with contemplating taking care of things today in a way that may negatively impact their future,” says Rebekah Barsch, vice president of financial planning for Northwestern Mutual. Family members might cut back on their work hours or sacrifice savings in order to care for aging parents, she adds. “The pressure, both financial and emotional, weighs on people,” she says.

Those pressures are one

How to Avoid Holiday Season Credit Card Rip-Offs

“Buy now, pay later” is the modern way of life. Credit cards are a highly profitable business for the companies that issue them, so it’s no surprise that banks continue to inundate consumers with credit card offers, especially during the shopping frenzy of the holiday season. These come-ons are among several financial traps lurking out there today.

Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), Discover Financial Services (DFS) and American Express (AXP): Their cards are common fixtures in hundreds of millions of wallets around the world. According to Federal Reserve data, the average credit card debt per card-holding U.S. household is $16,140. In total, the average American consumer owes $918.5 billion in credit card debt.

You probably get credit card offers in the mail all the time; the volume of unsolicited offers tends to increase the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s some important information that will help you sort through the pitches and separate the good values from the rip-offs.

The Introductory Rate

The introductory rate, or “teaser rate,” expires after a designated period of time. Federal law requires introductory rates to remain in effect at least six months after signup. This rate is below market and typically applies only to balance transfers and cash advances, although they

Why Defensive Stocks Aren’t Safe Anymore

Nervous investors should think twice before diving into so-called defensive stocks, especially those securities with high dividends. You might end up putting more risk into your portfolio than you realize.
Stocks that have less volatility than the overall market and pay higher dividends than most other stocks are often seen as a way to reduce risk in a portfolio. Traditionally, these are found in the defensive sectors, including consumer staples, utilities and health care.

Given the state of the world, it’s easy to see why investors would want to get defensive. The war in the Middle East is certainty getting hotter. Cities are under the threat of terrorist attacks, and tensions between Russia and Turkey increased when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border. Meanwhile, the European economy still looks saggy and the once-fast growing Chinese economy is decelerating. And the Federal Reserve looks set to start raising the cost of borrowing money sooner rather than later.

Sectors are trading at high multiples. The problem is that “the defensives are expensive,” says Ramona Persaud, portfolio manager for Fidelity Global Equity Income fund (FGILX), the Fidelity Dividend Growth fund (FDGFX) and the Fidelity Equity Income fund (FEQIX). Many of the

3 Risks of Investing in Annuities

Investing can be scary, especially in the short term. When you retire, it’s hard to watch the value of your lifetime of savings fluctuate as financial markets bounce up and down. Fear is a powerful sales tool.

Immediate annuities are an insurance product that prevents you from losing money and offers the benefit of guaranteed payments. However, there is a catch with those guarantees. Many annuities aren’t guaranteed to keep up with inflation, so the purchasing power of those guaranteed payments could decline over time. Tying up a significant portion of your money in an annuity also takes away some of your financial options and flexibility, because you can’t always get the money back out easily. And some annuities are outright expensive.

Here are some of the issues you could face if you invest your retirement savings in an immediate annuity.

Inflation risk. Inflation has been artificially low for years due to manipulation by central banks and the slow growth patterns of the economy. As a result, many people have forgotten how inflation can reduce the buying power of fixed income payments and guaranteed rates of return.

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7 Secrets to ‘Regifting’ Without Getting Caught

Thinking of regifting this holiday season? You’re probably not alone.

A few years ago, 92 percent of those surveyed by the yard sale aggregator site Bookoo.com said that recycling gifts was OK, and almost as many were pretty sure they had received regifted items.

Done poorly, the practice can be downright insulting. Some of those surveyed reported receiving “gifts” such as 2-year-old fruitcake, monogrammed items (with someone else’s initials), fingernail clippers and a used toilet seat.

Then why regift? Several reasons:

  • It’s a budget booster. Having a couple of great things you can give means two gifts you won’t have to buy.
  • It’s eco-friendly. Instead of buying more stuff, you are recycling unused items.
  • It busts clutter. It helps clear your house of items collecting dust. These regifting guidelines can help you from crashing and burning on Christmas Day:

1. Make sure it looks new. Original packaging is best, folks. Something that’s been sitting unprotected on a shelf has likely picked up grime and might have faded where the sun hit it. If it’s been in the basement, it might smell musty.

If you have to blow dust off it, pass.

2. Remove any sign that the item is recycled. Flip through books to see if your dad underlined

are 4 Golden Rules of Investing

Whether you’re new to investing or a market veteran, these time-tested tips can help you build your fortune.

Rule Number 1: Diversify. Since some investments zig when others zag, divvy your money across several investment categories, from stocks to bonds to real estate. Also diversify within categories. Diversification spreads risk and guards against a catastrophic decline in any one investment.

Rule Number 2: Rebalance. Review your portfolio yearly to make sure your mix of investments hasn’t strayed from your original goals. If it has, sell investments that have performed well and use the proceeds to invest in underperformers to regain balance.

Rule Number 3: Dollar-cost average. Fear can cause investors to miss buying opportunities when prices are low. Euphoria can cause them to buy high. By investing the same amount in the same investments on a regular basis, dollar-cost averaging takes emotion out of the equation.

Rule Number 4: Keep costs down. You can’t control how much your investments earn, but you can control how much you pay to invest in them. Save by using an online discount broker, and stick with low-fee index funds and actively managed no-load funds.

Read more about how to be a better investor

How Good is Your Employer’s 401(k)?

BrightScope recently identified the industries with the best 401(k) plans. Which industries came out on top?

Our rating system is based on how quickly the average participant in a given 401(k) plan is going to accumulate the money we believe someone needs to retire comfortably within his or her industry. Law firms, utilities, mining companies and airlines were top scorers because they typically offer plans with low fees and some form of profit-sharing. Employees in these industries are highly educated and well paid. They tend to contribute at a higher rate than do employees in lower-ranked plans, and they let those dollars grow over time.

How can I tell if my company’s 401(k) plan isn’t up to snuff?

High plan fees are a red flag. But remember that fees vary depending on plan size, industry and other factors. And fees pay for services; a 24-hour help line through which employees can get great advice may be worth the money. Also, the investment menu should meet your needs. If you’re nearing retirement, for example, make sure there are investment options that will get you there securely — for instance, a low-volatility fixed-income investment such as a stable-value fund.

Haven’t people

The Best Credit Cards for Customer Satisfaction

Lindsay bought a memory foam mattress from a store that guaranteed no interest financing for two years. Fourteen months after the purchase, interest charges surfaced on her bill.

A credit card David did not open showed up on his credit report as delinquent. The debt, which he discovered because he kept getting denied new credit, will remain on his credit history for seven years.

Joyce’s son purchased a wedding band on her credit card without her approval. When she contacted the jeweler, the store refused to do anything about it.

Though their names have been changed for this article, these are all real complaints consumers have filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Credit Card rankings​ take into account consumer stories​ like these to evaluate credit cards on the market​. One factor of the methodology​, customer experience, uses CFPB complaints to determine how satisfied customers are with their credit cards.

Of the 18 credit card companies U.S. News reviewed, the issuers offering the best customer experience included American Express, BB&T and JPMorgan Chase.​ ​

To control for differences in the size of credit card issuers (banks and credit unions that offer credit cards)​, U.S. News divided

7 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

Here’s the simple truth: Your low credit score is costing you a fortune.

Folks with the best credit get the best terms when it comes to mortgages, car loans and credit cards. They get the lowest interest rates and the lowest fees. They get the biggest sign-up bonuses. They’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt when asking to get a fee waived or a credit line increased. Add it all up and you get an awful lot of reasons to make 2016 the year you get your credit in shape.

How exactly do you that, though? Well, it won’t always be easy and it won’t always be quick, but the good news is that it can be done. The truth is that you have more control over your credit than you think. You just have to put in the work.
Here are some ways that you can boost your credit score in 2016.

1. Get your credit report, and report any errors you find.

Any move to boost your credit score must begin with checking your credit report. Get a free copy of your report from all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com,

10 Things Millennials Should Do to Reach the Next Financial Level

Millennials have had a rough road when it comes to money. Not only did they come of age during the Great Recession, which made jobs scarce and benefits even scarcer, but many saw their parents lose big time in the stock or real estate markets, which scared them off of making their own investments. Still, there’s no more time for excuses, because millennials are all grown up and taking on increasing amounts of responsibility. From mortgages and parenthood to caring for aging parents, millennials are facing big financial milestones, whether they’re ready or not.

According to Bank of America’s Year-End Millennial Snapshot, which analyzed 2015 data from over 3,500 millennials, this young cohort of 20- and early 30-somethings continues to struggle financially: a tough job market, hesitancy to invest and student loans are just a few of the challenges in their way to prosperity. Still, the data suggest they are firmly committed to achieving financial independence one day. About half of millennials said the Great Recession changed the way they think about saving, investing and spending, with 40 percent saying they are more reluctant to invest in the stock market and 36 percent saying they are more hesitant to buy a

How to Put Yourself on a Money Diet

For the past six years, Eliza Cross, a professional blogger and freelance writer in Denver, has put herself on what she calls a “money diet.”

Not that she coined the phrase. “Money diet” is a term that’s been around since at least the 1980s. For a stretch of time, maybe a week and often a month, you spend no money, except on essentials like groceries, gas and medicine. Unlike a food diet, where you want to lose pounds, the goal is to gain money. And if you do it right, Cross says, you should have more money than usual at the end of the month, and you may gain better financial habits as well.

Cross has been putting herself on a money diet every January, for all 31 days. She writes about it and commiserates with her readers on her blog, HappySimpleLiving.com.

And while Cross does it every January – “it’s a good time of year when we’re motivated to make changes in our lives, and a lot of us have been spending a lot over the holidays,” she says – you can obviously go on a money diet any time. That said, some parts of the year are probably more challenging than

How Volunteering Can Save You Money

If you’re like many of us, your New Year’s resolutions might look something like this: get healthy, lose weight, save money, travel more, find a new job or make new friends. In fact, there’s one way you can accomplish many of these things, often at once: by volunteering.

Volunteering your time, whether it’s in your community, your workplace or somewhere far across the world, is a wonderful way to give back. Volunteering is especially smart when it’s not in your budget to make a donation. Besides helping to better the lives of others, volunteering can have a lot of unexpected benefits on your own life, as well. Here are a few reasons, besides the obvious, why you might want to donate your time this year:

You can skip the gym:

Many volunteer opportunities require some physical activity. Becoming a committed volunteer could mean you’re regularly burning calories and working fitness into your lifestyle. A few examples include shoveling snow and raking leaves for the injured or elderly; working in a soup kitchen lifting boxes and serving the hungry; helping build and repair homes; walking dogs; community gardening and weed clean-up; or playing with kids in need of a role model and mentor. Consider

Top 10 Most Embarrassing Money Topics

Being financially literate, or understanding all aspects of your financial life, is crucial to becoming confident about money. But often, we’re too embarrassed or uncomfortable to talk about money openly.
According to a 2013 Wells Fargo survey of over 1,000 adults, 44 percent of respondents said “personal finances” is the hardest topic to discuss with others, followed by “death” at 38 percent and “politics” at 35 percent.

Money topics such as debt, student loans, salary, credit scores and even saving for the future can cause paralyzing anxiety. A 2014 National Foundation for Credit Counseling study on financial literacy showed that only 2 in 5 adults believe that, if their money could talk, it would say. “We’ve been a successful team.”

So to help improve your relationship with your money, we’ve raised 10 potentially embarrassing money topics and offered some suggestions to tackle them with confidence.

1. Spending well above your means. Though keeping up with the Joneses feels like a problem we should have grown out of in high school, we are all guilty of this from time to time. Insisting on paying for dinner out with that friend who makes twice what you do so that you can impress her is just

Surveys Show How Debt Weighs on Romance

Money remains a leading cause of stress in romantic relationships, according to surveys released ahead of Valentine’s Day.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid discussing finances, they say.

In a Country Financial Security Index Survey called “‘Til Debt Due Us Part,” more than 9 in 10 of the 1,000 respondents told the insurance company it is important to discuss finances with their significant others.

About 7 in 10 surveyed said they prefer to start conversations about personal finances within the first few months of a relationship or sooner. Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security at Country Financial, says in a press release:

If you haven’t discussed money with your valentine, consider starting the conversation sooner rather than later. Talking about finances as your relationship is budding can help quell financial quarrels down the road.

Millennials in the survey were more accepting of a significant other’s debt level. Nearly 2 in 3 said they would rather date a college graduate with significant student loan debt than someone who doesn’t hold a college degree.

Also, 2 in 3 millennials were concerned with their love interest’s debt, compared to nearly 8 in 10 of the general population. Almost 9 in 10 Americans over age 65 believe a significant

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