Raise your hand: 3 questions every investor should ask
Here are three questions every person who invests should ask to determine how involved they are with their investments and if they're getting the level of engagement they want from their current investment professional.
Five key deadlines to help small businesses avoid IRS headaches
The adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure still rings true - especially for businesses preparing for tax season. If you oversee your company's filing requirements, knowing what is due and when can save you and your employee's penalties, time and stress.
Doing your own taxes? Here's what you need to know
More than 43.6 million Americans prepared and e-filed their own income tax returns in 2013, up 4 percent from the year before, according to the IRS. In addition to being more affordable than a storefront or accountant, online and mobile solutions have made doing your own taxes exceptionally easy and fast.
Three big ways small-business owners can save on taxes
If you own a small business, every dollar matters - especially when it comes to taxes. Whether your business is a partnership or corporation, Uncle Sam offers some sizeable deductions to lower your liability, allowing you to put those dollars toward capital and employees.
Ways your family can give back to the community, country and world this holiday
The holiday season is a time when people are looking to give back. Sometimes this giving back encompasses spending time with others in the community, and other times it is showing support for programs that give back across the world.
Straight talk: Some lenders lead marketplace in simplified customer agreements
If one universal lesson emerged from the economic meltdown of the Great Recession, it's that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to financial matters. Before the recession, many Americans made financial decisions without fully understanding the impact of their choices - despite detailed financial disclosure statements intended to educate consumers on just what they were agreeing to when entering a credit contract with lenders.
Impact of the Affordable Care Act on your income taxes
The most significant implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as "Obamacare," are just around the corner. In addition to having wide-ranging effects on health insurance in 2014 and 2015, the legislation also impacts income taxes.
With the economic ups and downs of the last several years, many Americans are more motivated than ever to get their finances on track. With some financial alternatives expiring before the year's end, there's no better time than the present to start. Here are 10 year-end contributions to help you start 2014 on the right financial path.
Five tips to help chart a path toward financial success
A strong credit profile can help you qualify for credit at the lowest rates possible. Yet, consumers often wait until they need credit to think about their credit situation. In fact, 62 percent of people have not reviewed their report in the past year, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey.
Every fall, many people review their employer health care options during "open enrollment." As you start to focus on your health care decisions, you may also want to consider the safety of information you routinely provide, such as your address, Social Security number and insurance provider. With new private and public health insurance exchanges becoming available, you may face a greater risk for medical identity theft.
Supplemental insurance plans can help protect your family - and your wallet
No one wakes up thinking that their day will include a heart attack or a cancer diagnosis. One way to prepare for a significant health event is to consider supplemental insurance, a policy that can be bought in addition to your major medical plan.
As the year winds down, it is time to start thinking about recent tax changes and how they affect you, especially if you run a small business. But keeping tax details straight is tough - even for those who live and breathe the industry. One of the most common questions during this time of year is "who needs a 1099 or a W-2?"
Ten reasons why buying a new car might be cheaper than you think
As your car ages and the miles pile up, it's important to consider your options before you're left on the side of the road wondering why you didn't upgrade sooner. But buying a new car these days doesn't have to break the bank, either. With new safety features including crash avoidance technology and anti-theft systems, you can actually save some money in the long run, especially when it comes to insurance coverage.
Nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water - water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium, according to The U.S. Geological Survey. Hard water on its own is bad enough, making it difficult to wash clothes and dishes and leaving scaling on your pipes and showerheads as well as nasty brown rings in your sinks and toilets. However, it is also costing you money. Here's what you need to know.
Although everyone loves a bargain, they are often very hard to find. Usually, the best time to find a bargain is when a product is out of favor with buyers. In retailing, when an item is the wrong color, style or size, it is thrown into the bargain bin. Its price is then successively marked down until the product is finally cleared out. Astute buyers willing to take a chance on an unwanted item may discover that they snagged a great deal when it returns to favor the next season.
Small businesses go leaner, more effective with technology tools
While the Great Recession convinced many big corporations to improve efficiency and reduce spending, small businesses have historically known the value of operating "lean and mean." Many have never had another option, and have always had to accomplish more with less. Fortunately, technology is making it easier than ever for small-business owners to work smarter and more efficiently - and continue growing their businesses.
Career opportunities booming for financial professionals
At a time when unemployment still remains relatively high and competition for jobs is stiff, the career as a personal financial professional holds much promise for graduating college students and career-changers.
In a do-it-yourself world, we still need professionals
We live in a world that encourages us to DIY - "do it yourself" - in everything from remodeling our houses to building our own websites. While smart, dedicated people can certainly accomplish a lot, professional expertise is still extremely valuable, especially when it comes to investing.
Behind in saving for retirement? Approaches to catching up
Does the pace of your busy personal and professional life leave you feeling like you're always playing catch up? If you were among the millions whose retirement savings and investments suffered during the recession, there's good news: you can start to catch up with a few simple steps.
Practical strategies to help you stay on budget this holiday season
Whether you're hosting guests, traveling to family or simply purchasing gifts, the holidays can put household finances to the test. This year, Americans aren't letting short-term stresses like the holidays affect their long-term financial aspirations. According to the latest Merrill Edge Report, many Americans now rank saving for retirement as their top priority and short-term concerns like paying off debt are falling lower on the to-do list. To enjoy the season of giving without sacrificing your financial goals, it's time to make a plan.
To tip or not to tip: that is the holiday question
When the holiday season arrives, so too does the enigma of holiday tipping. What's supposed to be a sign of gratitude for great service, can quickly turn into stress as you try to decide if and how much you should tip the handyman, mail carrier, babysitter and many more. Here is the ultimate guide to holiday tipping from etiquette experts.
Many people don't take enough ownership over what they pay when it comes to investing. Only 51 percent of investors say they know how much they pay for their investments, and only 16 percent who work with an investment professional have asked how fees and commissions impact their portfolio's returns.
Life insurance. Everyone says it's important, but it can be a difficult topic to talk about and even more difficult to understand. However, it is critical to understand this topic because of its importance to building your financial strategy.
The majority of this year's key tax law changes were the result of two acts - the Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as Obamacare, and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The easiest way to navigate all the tax law changes and determine if you qualify for hundreds of tax benefits, is to use an online or mobile tax preparation solution.
Be wary of credit and loan scams this holiday season
While economists are reporting signs of improvement in the economy, it's still tough out there for families trying to make ends meet. The fall and winter months can be even more financially challenging, between balancing the expensive holiday season and needing extra cash for repairs and replacements of everyday objects. This can set many families up to be victims of lending scams.
Check your tax forms for errors and avoid fines for 2013
Tax season will be here before you know it and businesses everywhere want to handle their reporting quickly, efficiently and on time in order to avoid the penalties and fines associated with missed deadlines. In recent years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has increased its penalties for misfiled or late tax forms. As a result, it's more important than ever for leaders of small- to mid-sized businesses to stay on top of changes and be doubly vigilant in assembling and reviewing their reporting documents.
For many college-bound students, savings, family contributions, scholarships, grants and a part-time job won't be enough to pay for college. For these students, borrowing may be the only way to make up the difference between available funds and college expenses. Here's what everyone should know about financing a college education.
The majority of parents of high school students know that the future will very likely hold a college education for their child. But what is often uncertain is how they will pay for that education. About 60 percent of high school graduates enroll in a college or university for advanced studies according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For richer or poorer: Don't let newlywed bliss turn into financial nightmare
For better or worse, richer or poorer - that's the promise most couples make when they face one-another at the altar. When it comes to finances and young love, it can be easy to fall into some common pitfalls that can haunt couples long after the wedding day.
You've polished your resume, updated your references and picked up your best outfit from the dry cleaners. You're ready for that big interview. But while your experience and qualifications may match the position perfectly, have you given any thought to your soft skills?
Protect your credit while shopping this holiday season
The holiday season is a great time for merriment - finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones and gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season. However, the holidays can cause a strain on your credit if you don't take certain precautions. Don't let this year's celebration leave you with the credit blues come January.
Figuring out the best ways to save a few extra dollars can be difficult. But, a few simple strategies can go a long way in helping you and your family pay down debt and be better prepared for financial emergencies, college expenses and retirement. Some take a few minutes, others may require discipline - but all are easy moves to stretch your dollars and improve your financial situation.
Thanksgiving comes late this year, which means a shorter-than-usual holiday shopping season. If you're not the type to buy gifts throughout the year, getting an early start on holiday shopping can help ensure you have enough time to find gifts for everyone on your list - and perhaps, most importantly, save money. Here are three things to do now to save money and time this holiday season.
Give your home a quick refresh with these budget-friendly tips
Whether you are buying, selling or simply remodeling, you are looking to invest in updates that will increase the value and appeal of your home. It's natural to want it all, but before you over personalize or break the bank, there are many simple, budget-friendly changes that can increase the value of your home without the risk.
Why Americans are cutting the cord and saving money
Frugal Americans know how to save money, not only by keeping it in their pocket but by making wise purchasing decisions. As many have found, a frugal lifestyle does not mean going without. One way many people have saved money is by cutting the cord and eliminating cable or satellite TV from the household budget. By taking that step, frugal consumers can save up to $1,200 per year.
Experts warn of cyber threats during peak online shopping season
Many online shoppers are unaware of the risks associated with online shopping and don't believe they'll become one of the 556 million annual victims of cybercrime. The following tips are for consumers to protect themselves from cyber attacks.
A college education is a lifelong investment. College graduates are more likely to be employed and earn more throughout the course of their lives, according to a recent report by the College Board. While the benefits of a college education may be clear, figuring out the true cost and how to pay for it isn't always as obvious.
As the housing market bounces back in many parts of the country, you may be wondering: What's my home worth now? There's actually more than one answer. Your home has three potentially very different price tags based on its market value, replacement value and tax value.
The holiday season is all about celebrating with family and friends, which means more merry-making, staying organized and enjoying the time spent shopping for the perfect gifts. A smart shopper is able to access and keep organized great deals and discounts, reduce time with online shopping and check for last-minute opinions if absolutely necessary.
As farmers begin harvest and approach the end of 2013 production, many are assessing the year and looking forward to 2014. For row-crop farmers, the 2013 harvest is expected to be a good one. However, prices are lower than last year, and some are delaying their decision to go to market in hopes that the price will improve early next year. Low commodity prices may also persuade farmers to consider prepaying for at least some of next season's inputs before the end of the year. Here's what you need to know for now and the future.
Warm up to budget-friendly winter travel in Europe
Traveling Europe may seem like a distant dream; tourists inundate cities during peak season, driving prices up. But your European dreams are attainable - if you travel during winter months. Europe can be much more affordable in winter and the quiet cities offer a more intimate and authentic experience.
Use your rewards credit card wisely over the holidays to get the most out of your spending
Festive decorations, twinkling lights, seasonal foods and the company of loved ones - everyone has that special something they enjoy most about the holiday season. Avoiding sticker shock when you see your January credit card bill might be one of them. It can be a challenge to keep costs down, however, when you have a lengthy gift list to get through. One easy option you may not have thought of is probably already waiting in your wallet - if you use a credit card that offers a rewards program.
DIY tips to check windows and doors and save on utility costs year-round
With temperatures dropping, now is a good time to improve your home's energy efficiency. Drafty windows and doors can dramatically increase heating and cooling costs. That's why it's important to perform a walk-around now, to verify that your windows are in working order, or if they need replacing.
How to keep your valuables safe this holiday season - and beyond
The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and the National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. That's a lot of money spent on valuables - making homes a prime target for theft during the holiday season. If you have jewelry, electronics or other big ticket items on your wish list this year, it's important to make sure you're protected long after the gift wrap and ornaments are put away.
Questions may seem never-ending, but being able to pick and choose is a good thing and really important in getting the right result. A good example is tires: Lots and lots of brands to choose from, but getting the right type of tire is vital because it impacts your vehicle's ride, handling, comfort and even fuel efficiency.
How to save big with last-minute vacation planning tips
Sometimes the vacation bug bites without much notice. If you find yourself craving a travel adventure in the near future, you might worry it will be too complicated or costly to plan without adequate time. But the truth is, sometimes last-minute trips offer the best opportunity to score big bargains, if you know where to find them.
Is saving on your New Year's resolution list this year? The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Ready.Save.Grow. campaign offers five saving strategies that will have you moving toward your long-term savings goals and toasting along the way.
Don't bust your budget: Tips and tricks to stretch those holiday dollars
Creating lists, checking them twice - it's a tradition for many families across the country this time of year as they plan and shop for gifts for friends and family. Even with the economy starting to recover, many people will set a budget before tackling their holiday shopping, but two-thirds of those that set a budget will likely go over. Here are some ways to save.
Protect your new purchases over the holiday season
Let the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season begin. Sales in November and December are expected to increase 3.9 percent over last year to $602.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. However, with holiday purchases comes the risk of theft.
Overcoming the top 5 challenges of being retirement ready in 3 simple steps
It's no secret that Americans aren't saving enough for retirement. Many people are coming up short when it comes to funding their nest egg. But why is the problem so wide-spread? Insight can be found in the human behaviors that tend to get in the way of saving adequately. Now is the perfect time to learn more about the most common hurdles of retirement savings.
Tips for parents on how, and why, to talk to kids about insurance
When it comes to financial literacy, parents know it's important to give kids the knowledge and skills they need to manage money. While you're teaching children about smart spending, saving and credit management, don't forget to discuss another important aspect of financial health: insurance.
HARP changes put refinancing in reach of more homeowners
When the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) launched in 2009, millions took advantage, but many other homeowners found they couldn't qualify to refinance their underwater mortgages. Today, significant enhancements have made the program more accessible for homeowners and a great opportunity to lower payments or build equity faster.