Selecting a cellphone and plan that fits your lifestyle
Whether taking the plunge and joining the smartphone crowd or simply replacing a tired old cellphone, buying a new device takes careful deliberation. From selecting carriers and avoiding contracts to deciding on a type of phone and a specific model, numerous decisions must be made to find the right phone for your life's next adventure.
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.
U.S. retail sales rose 3.5 percent during the 2013 holiday season, according to the MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report. So whether you received some fun gifts from friends or put that holiday bonus to good use to buy something nice for yourself, you may have some new, expensive items in your home. If you have jewelry, electronics or other big ticket items, it's important to make sure you're protected through 2014 and beyond.
10 simple ways to instantly improve your finances in 2014
Do you wonder how you could better manage finances? You're not alone. When it comes to money, most people are far from perfect. Whether you make $20,000 a year or $200,000, some simple steps can start you on the right financial path, and some of them only take a few minutes to complete.
As a new year unfolds, many people resolve to kick bad habits and take better care of their health and their finances. After a few late payments, messy receipt folders and carefree budgeting, it's time to make your personal finances a priority. It may feel like you don't have enough time in your hectic life to sit down and manage your money, but with a few secret weapons you can organize your personal finances like a professional in no time at all, from wherever your busy day may take you.
Small business 101: What you may not know about your credit card processor
The electronic payment processing industry is a critical component for small, mid-size and large businesses alike. All merchants depend on reliable, affordable electronic payment services to grow their businesses; however, some credit and debit card processors take advantage of small businesses that do not have large accounting and auditing teams to protect their interests. Rates can be easily misrepresented, fees can be hidden or inflated - and the numbers quickly add up.
Discover the little-known investment strategy that your advisor isn't telling you about
Did you know self-directed IRAs allow Americans to invest in assets other than stocks and bonds, while enjoying the tax-free or tax-deferred status of their retirement account? Very few Americans realize that they have the option to self-direct their IRAs, or other retirement plans, into real estate and other alternative assets. Most investors believe that the only IRA investment options are bank CDs, the stock market or mutual funds - often because of inaccurate information from their current IRA custodian. Here's what every investor should know.
Using your Health Insurance Marketplace coverage on Jan. 1, 2014
With the start of the new year, millions of Americans will have access to health coverage for the first time or have improved coverage because of the health care law. There are steps you can take now to ensure you have access to coverage beginning Jan. 1.
Once at rock bottom, interest rates have ticked up slightly in recent months. Still, the prospect of refinancing a mortgage remains attractive. Interest rates are projected to rise to 5 percent or above by August 2014, according to an August 2013, Freddie Mac study.
How to find rebates for energy-efficient home improvements
Home improvements that increase energy efficiency are appealing on many levels, from saving you money on heating and cooling costs to the confidence you get from knowing you're doing something good for the environment. They're even better when you can get some money back from the initial investment of making those improvements. Here are some ways to find rebates.
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.
For most, childhood is a time of innocence. It is a time when wonder and excitement exist around every corner. Children view the world as an open book of infinite possibilities where they can be or do anything they want, limited only by their imagination.For children battling a life-threatening illness, childhood takes on a very different feel. Hospital stays, doctor visits and intrusive procedures replace playgrounds, activities and field trips. The usually carefree approach to each day gets tainted by concerns about health and the future. Learn how you can make a difference.
Millions of Americans get a refund on their taxes each year. If you are one of them, why not use part of your refund to save for the future with a Series I Savings Bond from the U.S. Department of the Treasury? You can invest as little as $50 in this affordable, safe and convenient savings option, which can help you meet your long-term savings goals and build a brighter future.
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.
Many Americans just went through their annual benefits enrollment period at their work. Precious time was spent reviewing the available offerings with spouses and determining which ones best meet their families' needs, weighed against the cost. Yet a good number of Americans may not have taken the time to review their company's benefit plans and may not be aware that what's available and what they selected could fall short of meeting their needs.
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.
The close of every year seems to bring its own uncertainty from a tax-planning perspective. Last year featured the expiration of certain temporary tax provisions and the commencement of automatic federal government spending cuts. In October the President and Congress temporarily agreed on funding the government and increasing the national debt limit. But these issues may reappear in 2014 and could result in tax law changes that affect income-tax and financial planning.
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.
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.
How to stick to your New Year's resolutions all year long
With the holidays past and a new year upon us, now is the time for Americans to focus on their 2014 resolutions. And while fitness goals often top the list of New Year's resolutions, diet and exercise aren't the only ways to get back into shape. This year, do yourself and your loved ones a favor by getting financially fit as well.
Lost dress? No-show caterer? Bankrupt photographer? How to protect yourself from the worst wedding disasters
Your wedding is supposed to be a magical day you remember for the rest of your life. It also is sure to be one of the most expensive days of your life. With all that money and emotion on the line, you want to do everything you can to ensure this special day goes flawlessly. The reality is most weddings experience a hiccup or two, many of which are minor. But some can be more devastating, such as a reception hall that closes before the big day, a stained or lost wedding dress, or your photographer goes out of business right after taking your deposit. Here's what you can do to protect yourself no matter what.
Five things they don't teach you in school about how to secure your financial future
Anyone over a certain age has heard about the "the three Rs" of education - reading, writing and arithmetic. The thinking is that if you graduate from school knowing how to read, write and solve basic math problems, you'll have the fundamentals for a successful life. But these days much more is required, especially when it comes to making sure you have the financial resources to take care of yourself and your family. Here are five things they generally don't teach you in school but that everyone should learn.
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.
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.
Financially fit: five steps to get a handle on your credit
After countless hours spent holiday shopping, you finally finished. Now, you're faced with the credit card payments as you roll into the new year. While it may have been difficult to keep your finances - particularly your credit cards - top of mind amid the dash from store to store, those payments aren't going anywhere.
Mind Your B.I.S. - Tips to jumpstart your financial well-being
In the next few months, high school seniors across the country will be anxiously checking mailboxes for college acceptance letters. With two-thirds of recent high school grads enrolling in college as of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is the first step on a journey towards personal and financial independence for many Americans. Whether an incoming freshman, soon to be senior or recent grad, it is never too early to get financially fit. The key to success is to make the process fun and manageable.
How health care reform could impact your tax returns this year and next
Several key tax law changes in the Affordable Care Act have been implemented in 2013 and 2014. The impact of those changes on federal tax returns due April 15, 2014 and 2015 hinge mainly on your household's adjusted gross income (AGI) and health insurance situation. Here's the important facts everyone should understand.
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.
New credit score myths and why you shouldn't believe them
Myths and folklore endlessly evolve as cultures change, technologies emerge and societies grow. Some myths - like the one that warns against washing Pop Rocks down with Coke - are chuckle-worthy. Others, such as fallacies about how credit scores work, can be downright detrimental. Here are five new credit scoring myths and the truths that debunk them.
IRS audits: 8 triggers to avoid and tips to help you survive
Ever wonder how the Internal Revenue Service selects which taxpayers to audit? Well, it isn't always a matter of chance. There are certain factors that can make your tax return stand out from the rest.
A resolution you can keep all year: The one-day identity checkup
Exercise. Lose the weight. Answer every incoming email. Those are the hard kinds of New Year's resolutions, because you have to think about them every day for the rest of the year. Many are forgotten long before Valentine's Day.
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.
A reasonable explanation: What 'reason codes' tell you about your credit score
Consumer knowledge about credit scoring remains a challenge. In fact, nearly half of Americans still don't know that mortgage companies use credit scores when making decisions about credit availability and pricing. Even if you do understand the importance of a credit score, you may still wonder why yours isn't higher. That's where "reason codes" come in handy.
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.
Whether you're wrapping up end-of-year paperwork, getting ready to create your 2014 budget, or preparing for tax season, something about this time of year inspires financial introspection. While you're evaluating your own financial well-being - including your credit status - it may be helpful to know how other Americans are doing.
Everyone's vision for retirement is different - for some it involves trips across the globe, while for others it means relocating to a new city or picking up a new hobby. Regardless of what your retirement goals might be, preparing to achieve them financially should include a plan that anticipates both the expected and unexpected events and expenses that may arise before or after leaving the workforce.
As the weather warms, car buying season gets into full swing. Even though interest rates are still at or near record lows, there are additional ways smart buyers are saving even more cash on their next vehicle and staying within their budgets.
Survey says: Payday loan users savvier than you think
Read enough about the state of Americans' finances and you might get the impression that the average consumer is fairly clueless when it comes to making good money decisions. But a new survey indicates that Americans are more credit-savvy than you might think about how and when to use one of the most-maligned types of credit: payday loans.
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.
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.
The 'preventive medicine' to help protect financial health when you're seriously injured, ill or unable to work
If injury or illness left you unable to work - even for a short time - would your financial health be at risk? Fifty-nine percent of U.S. workers said their financial resources would last 12 weeks or less without a paycheck. But many workers have access to the "preventive medicine" designed to help protect their financial health - in the form of employer-sponsored benefits.
Personal branding is an elusive topic to most people, yet it is important for career success. Wise professionals with career success know it can mean the difference between landing that dream job and never getting noticed.
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 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.
Dental health is essential to overall health, affecting everything from our hearts to our mental well-being. Yet despite ample research that underscores the importance of taking care of our teeth, millions of Americans never go to the dentist. A lack of dental insurance is one of the top reasons Americans don't keep up with their dental care.
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.
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.
Don't forget about insurance when discussing finances with children
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.
Eye protection may not be a top priority for people when they are going about their daily lives, but it should be. Protecting your sense of sight is extremely important and often overlooked. All individuals should protect their eyes so they can stay sharp whether they're on a snowy mountain-top, watching a football game, or simply driving to work.
Family needs compete with retirement among Hispanic Americans, survey finds
Long term financial planning can be daunting for many Americans, however, Prudential's 2014 Hispanic American Finance Experience survey indicates that the Hispanic community may face distinct challenges.
Don't let crooks steal your tax refund: Identity theft prevention tips
To itemize or not to itemize, deductions, exemptions, interest income and capital gains - you have a lot to think about when you're doing your taxes. While you're preparing your return, don't overlook a consideration that's every bit as important as whether you owe or are due a refund - tax-related identity theft.
Technology can do a lot for home offices as well as small and medium-size businesses, but choosing and investing in the appropriate level of technology can sometimes feel overwhelming and time-consuming. Business owners and consumers alike sometimes overspend on technology rather than selecting the right tools to help them improve their productivity while keeping their costs at a minimum.