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Archive for December 2007

Deadline Approaching To Use Up Your Flexible Spending Account - Use It Or Lose It

Published 12/31/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

The end of the year is here, but don't just take it easy and forget about important end of the year financial moves you may need to make. For those who have one through their employer, make sure you've fully maxed out your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). For the remaining unused funds, my usual end of the year routine is to get creative and spend the rest on qualified health care items like Tylenol, Advil, and over the counter cough medication like Delsym and Robitussin. Covered FSA medical expenses also include items like contact lens solution and eye care drops. If you have no immediate health needs, it's always a good idea to stock up on emergency, medical kit type supplies like Band-Aids, gauze, and Betadine for common scratches and scrapes, particularly if you have kids.

What Is A Flexible Spending Account And How Does It Work?

Flexible Spending Accounts are tax advantaged arrangements set up by some employers to allow employees to set aside a pretax portion of their regular paycheck to pay for qualified expenses, usually for medical care, but frequently also for child care costs. The smart use of pre-tax savings through FSA's can help you save up to 30% of the cost of out-of-pocket medical related expenditures. Most people contribute about $1,000 towards their FSA, but it varies depending on individual need.

Benefits of the Flexible Spending Account Include:

  • Contributions towards your FSA are pre-tax.
  • When you provide receipts to get reimbursed, the FSA reimbursements are tax free.
  • Convenient FSA debit cards are now frequently being
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    Stocks Losing Money? Last Chance To Take Advantage Of Year-End Tax Selling for 2007

    Published 12/30/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

    By MoneyBlueBook

    Is your stock portfolio making you sad? Are you bummed out about your disappointing returns and contemplating selling your positions to stem the losses? If so, fear not, Uncle Sam has a tax system in place to help lessen the financial pain and make your situation more bearable.

    If you've lost confidence in your stock positions, maybe it's time you cut your losses to take advantage of tax breaks that can help you avoid having to pay taxes on other realized gains for the year. Perhaps you owned stocks that were hit particularly hard, like Countrywide Financial or even ETrade, both with grim and uneasy future prospects. Holders of such dubious positions might want to contemplate selling their shares now to lock in their losses by the impending January 1 deadline for tax purposes.

    It's Best To Push Tax Bills Into The Future And Accelerate Deductions Into The Current Year

    Generally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to deduct capital losses from capital gains and other income. Since we are so close to the end of 2007, it's best to postpone any further gains that could be treated as taxable income a few days more, at least until January 1. If you have loser stocks that you can sell without any regret, now is the time to do so before the start of the new year. If you can unload enough of these losing positions, you might be able to completely wipe out all of your other realized capital gains for the year. Even if

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    Be Careful Not To Exceed 6 ACH Transfers On Your Savings Account Per Month

    Published 12/29/07  (Modified 4/9/15)

    By MoneyBlueBook

    I was routinely checking my Citibank balance online the other day when I noticed a little warning box above my account balance mentioning something about a savings account transfer limit of 6 per statement cycle imposed by a federal rule called Regulation D. I had heard about it before but never previously paid it much attention. Examining the reminder message, it was clear to me that this was something that might easily be overlooked by the average savings account holder. It's the type of important information that should be, but isn't readily advertised enough by banks. Particularly at this stage of the current ongoing economic crisis as high interest savings accounts continue to rapidly grow in popularity, it's more important than ever to be mindful of the transactional limitations of such accounts. Your money may be earning the highest interest rates at the top savings banks, but the trade off is a reduction in liquidity and access to funds.

    Banks Place A Limit On The Number of ACH Transactions You May Execute Per Month

    Bank savings and money market accounts are regulated by the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation D, which governs deposit accounts and their reserve requirements. The reserve percentage is the amount mandated by federal law that banks must retain in house and not loan out to customers. For savings and money market deposit accounts, Regulation D limits the number of electronic ACH transfers that one can make to 6 per statement cycle, which is about a month. While the regulation doesn't impose a

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    Going To The Movie Theater To Watch A Movie Is Starting To Get Too Expensive

    Published 12/28/07  (Modified 3/14/11)

    By MoneyBlueBook

    How was your Christmas? Did you spend it all day with family and friends? Or did you manage to sneak out to watch Aliens vs. Predator like I did. Yes, I was one of those that ducked into the theaters on Christmas afternoon to watch this winter's biggest sci-fi blockbuster movie on opening day. Only this time, I was sorely disappointed. It wasn't even the movie itself either (although I thought it could have been better). It was my realization that I was paying way too much money for the opportunity to be crammed into a stuffy hot room with a crowd of noisy, obnoxious people, to watch a movie on a blurry movie screen operating on technology that probably hadn't been updated in several decades. Watching the latest movie release at the local cinema simply isn't what it used to be anymore. Why are movie tickets so expensive nowadays? Times have changed and I wonder if it's time I did so too.

    Movie Theater Tickets and Concession Stand Snacks Are Outrageously Overpriced

    Christmas day afternoon I went to see the new Aliens movie with my brother. Going with the Christmas spirit, I decided to pay for everything. For two expensive movie theater tickets I shelled out a total of $18 at about $9 each. Two popcorns and two small sodas tacked on another $16 for a grand total of $34 for two people. Now, if I was a father with a wife and 2 kids, and assuming everyone bought the same customary number of snacks and

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    Review of best online stock brokers for trading stocks

    Published 12/27/07  (Modified 3/2/12)

    By MoneyBlueBook

    Updated List Of The 10 Best Discount Brokerage Firms Below

    So, you are finally sold on the idea of signing up for an investment brokerage account so you can start making money by investing in the stock market. Or, perhaps you are already an experienced trader but at times still wonder what other brokerage options are out there? These days there are a lot of options out there but it can be sort of confusing trying to find the right online broker. There are many choices available, from full service premium brokerages to deep discount online brokers. Relying on authoritative financial and investment sites for guidance and opinion reviews isn't always definitive either since they occasionally have differing opinions. The best way to choose the best and right broker to handle your investments is to do a combination - by sticking with the popular ones that have been around for some time and have been sufficiently subjected to adequate scrutiny by the investing community, as well as go with the brokerages that have consistently appeared at the top of reputable rankings and researched reviews.

    Know Thyself To Better Determine Brokerage Fit

    Factors to consider when choosing the right online broker include the type of investment vehicle you intend to trade (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, indexes, options), the amount of your investment, the type and amount of research material you want, customer service, website design and layout, and trading reliability. It's important to know what type of investor you intend to be. Do you plan on being an active

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    Merry Christmas 2007! - Remembering My Favorite Presents Received From Past To Present

    Published 12/25/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

    By MoneyBlueBook

    Merry Christmas everyone! It's exciting that Christmas is now upon us and I'm quite eager to find out what's in store for the coming new year. I'm feeling a bit wistful right now so I'd like to look back at the wonderful and memorable presents I've received over the years since childhood and even into adulthood. Many of the presents continue to have a special place in my memories and I still remember them quite fondly.

    I know some parents advocate the teaching to children of the true meaning of Christmas - the valuable lesson that Christmas is not only about presents and receiving gifts, but that it's also about family, sharing, and spending time with loved ones. Although I believe these themes are worthy ones, I don't think we should completely deprive children and the younger generation of the simple and innocent joy of receiving and giving presents. The simple act of giving and receiving presents is often an annual ritualistic event that holds a special place in the historical hearts and minds of many children, teens, and adults alike. Instead of trying to compel the thematic shift of Christmas from presents into the non-material aspects of the holiday season, we should try to encourage and teach children to not only receive, but to give. It's an inevitable fact that children will ultimately grow up into a materialistic world. Rather than shield them or futility try to sanitize their environment, we should prepare them for reality and the future by showing them that the Christmas

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