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Archive for 'Organization' Category

Federal income tax filing: 5 common mistakes -- and what they can cost you

Published 2/5/11  (Modified 3/22/11)

Federal income tax filing: 5 common mistakes -- and what they can cost you By Peter Andrew

Long before he became a cop, Kevin was my best friend. So when he joined the police, it seemed natural that I'd often join him and his colleagues for an after-work drink. They were a great bunch, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with them. But as they told their job-related stories, I'd frequently think to myself how much I enjoyed being their friend, and how little I'd like to meet them professionally.

I don't know any IRS agents, but I suspect that the same would apply. They're probably charming people socially, but you really, really don't want to spend time with them when they're working.

Luckily, there are simple things you can do when filing your federal income tax return that can help you avoid finding out whether I'm right.

Beware of these 5 common mistakes to avoid Tax Trouble

Here are five common mistakes routinely made on taxes, and how they can be avoided:

  1. You didn't double check

    Among the most common federal income tax filing mistakes are some that are so embarrassingly elementary that you wouldn't want to admit to them outside a confessional. So, before mailing your return, ask yourself these three questions:

    • Have I signed and dated the form?
    • Have I entered and triple-checked my social security number?
    • Have I attached Copy B of the W-2 form(s) my employer(s) sent me?
  2. You got the math wrong

    According to the IRS, the most common mistake of all is people making basic errors in their arithmetic. You can

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How To Stop Receiving Paper Junk Mail and Save Trees

Published 6/19/09  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

After finally returning home from an extended three month overseas trip to spend time with my parents, I was greeted back home by an overweight mail box stuffed to the brim and absolutely overflowing with junk mail. Although I had authorized my mail to be temporarily redirected to my brother's address while I was away, a very great deal of unsolicited junk mailers, expired coupon booklets, and pre-approved credit card offers still mysteriously winded up in my inbox. All in all, the entire paper pile, weighing in excess of many pounds, ultimately found its way straight into my trash can in a matter of minutes - fulfilling its pointless life cycle as not only a complete waste of my personal time, but as a fruitless consumer of precious natural resources.

Save The Environment and De-clutter Your Life By Reducing Junk Mail Trash

According to online statistics from sources such as the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD), a non profit organization based in Maryland whose stated mission is to protect the environment by helping Americans develop sustainable consumption habits - simply by eliminating the amount of junk mail you receive every day can significantly reduce the amount of energy and natural resources you consume, as well as greatly reduce the landfill space usage and carbon footprint that you leave behind. For example, according to numbers provided by CNAD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and various sources, did you know that:

  • The average American household receives unsolicited junk mail equivalent to 1.5 trees every year, which comes out
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Free Budgeting Software and The Best Online Planning Tools

Published 4/29/09  (Modified 12/15/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Review Of Free Online Programs To Help You Budget And Track Spending

Unless you are a billionaire like Warren Buffett with an endless supply of cash to draw upon, chances are you're operating under a monthly budget like the rest of us are. In most cases, the best way to keep your finances in order and save money for the long haul is to devise a sensible budget, track your monthly spending habits, and stick to your laid out plans without frequent deviations. The problem with offering suggestions about setting personal spending budgets is that there usually isn't one way that works best for everyone. It's a highly personal and customized affair due to the great differences in how we all each handle tasks and micro manage events in our lives.

I personally use a variety of online based financial tools to help me chart out my monthly net worth reports and personal balance sheets. They help to encourage me to make better financial decisions for myself and to continuously plan for the future. As a strong advocate of using streamlined software based tools that automate and aggregate one's finances, I particularly recommend using programs like Quicken Online and Yodlee. Both budgeting programs are free and offer great convenience - automatically pulling income and expense data from your bank and credit card accounts into a single viewable source without requiring you to manually compile the data by hand.

But at the same time, I understand that there are lots of people out there who prefer

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Free Quicken Online Review and Quicken 2009 Discount Coupon Codes

Published 1/14/09  (Modified 3/22/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Quicken 2009 Discount Coupons and Promo Codes Listed Below

The editors at CNN Money recently examined and reviewed several of the top online personal finance tools - and ultimately decided to award its highest honors to four winners - Mint, Yodlee MoneyCenter, Wesabe, and Quicken Online. In the editorial review, all four personal financial management websites were highly regarded and praised for their innovative money management features that offered Internet consumers an introductory and accessible way to manage their saving, spending, and retirement portfolio online, all for free.

However, of the four highly regarded and mentioned personal finance sites, Quicken Online perhaps has the most impressive historical lineage, having been created and spun off as an online web app by Intuit, the same financial software maker that brought us the popular desktop money management tool Quicken, and ubiquitous tax preparation program Turbo Tax. While Quicken Online has been around for some time, it wasn't until recently that the financial tool was finally available online for free (previously, Quicken Online cost $2.99 per month after the end of the initial free trial period). While Intuit's bread and butter has historically been its comprehensive suite of Quicken desktop programs, it's clear the era of Internet based financial web tools is at hand. With the slow demise of print media as well as the end of newspapers, it seems the former stalwart money management tool has been forced to go online to match the emergence of new free competing tools. With the

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How To Calculate and Track Your Net Worth

Published 10/30/08  (Modified 2/17/12)

By MoneyBlueBook

Recently, I made the decision to start tracking my personal net worth and financial status in a very public and revealing way - by posting my financial numbers online for all to see. The point of doing this was not to boast, demonstrate some fanciful financial bravado, or unnecessarily parade my personal finance publicly to satisfy the whims of voyeuristic readers. In actuality, the objective was to have a way to show people the importance of proper statistical tracking when it comes to smart financial planning. The purpose of calculating and tracking your personal financial net worth on a regular basis is not just so you can match yourself against others to see how you're doing in comparison, but it's also to help you evaluate the current health of your finances. Like using a gauge to take your blood pressure reading or running blood tests to get a nutritional analysis, the point of net worth tracking is to use snapshots of your financial condition to help you make better decisions in furtherance of your personal financial goals.

I don't think it's an over-emphasis to stress that proper money management is a very critical component of responsible living. Other than how you handle your family, friends, personal relationships, or perhaps religious views, how you manage your money probably has the greatest effect on the quality of your daily life. The abundance or the lack thereof of money can determine whether you live an existence of paycheck to paycheck living or determine whether you are able to

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How To Build A CD Ladder and Get The Highest Interest Rate

Published 10/21/08  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

During tough times, there is always the inevitable flight to quality as investors seek out stable investment options to keep their money safe from loss. Oftentimes these safe investment choices include U.S. Treasury Bills, high interest savings, and money market accounts. However, those who want to shield their money from unnecessary risk during uncertain times but still maintain a very competitive rate of return ought to strongly consider certificate of deposits (CDs). Because CD's are issued by banks and credit unions, they enjoy the same iron clad FDIC insurance coverage and equivalent that checking accounts and saving deposits enjoy. When you buy a certificate of deposit through a bank and choose to invest your money in a CD, you can rest easy knowing that your money is fully protected up to the full FDIC coverage limit from unexpected loss (the current FDIC limit is $250,000).

While in the long run, investing in the stock market is the best way to earn high growth returns, sometimes the market conditions and wild price swings are too much to handle for some conservative short term investors. Especially for those you looking to preserve your capital and build up emergency fund savings within a short time frame, you may be more comfortable investing your money in a predictable interest bearing asset, like a high yield savings account or a CD. While I frequently solicit the use of safe investments for specialized purposes, I'm still an active bank interest rate chaser at heart - a person who

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