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Why You Should Put Off Year-End Charitable Contributions

by Guest Contributor on December 15, 2010

We’re getting close to the end of the year and as everyone does their year end tax planning, it’s important to remember that not all “last minute tax tips” work for everyone. It’s important to analyze your particular tax situation before blindly following these ideas – RJ Weiss shares with us why you might want to wait until January 1st, 2011 to make those charitable donations.

Now that December is here, prepare yourself for Christmas music, crowded malls, and of course, the hundreds of personal finance articles about “Year-End Tax Planning.”

Many of these articles do serve a purpose. However, the majority, do more harm than good.

A common topic among articles about year-end tax planning is the deduction of charitable contributions. What many taxpayers don’t understand is that charitable contributions are only deductible if you itemize your deductions, which only makes sense for about 25% of taxpayers.

The purpose of this article is to discuss how you still might be able to benefit from charitable contributions, even if you don’t plan on itemizing this year. In order to do that, let’s review what deductions are.
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5 Smart Ways to Use Debt to Improve Your Life

by Guest Contributor on October 13, 2010

Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving BackKimberly Palmer is the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which was published by Ten Speed Press this week. The following post has been adapted from the book. She’s also the author of the Alpha Consumer blog at USNews.com, where she’ll be hosting book giveaways all week.

Shortly after meeting my husband, he tried to convince me that debt was a good thing. His student loans, after all, were not only funding his tuition but also many of our first dates. Using something called the “income smoothing theory,” he argued that it was better to borrow now, when we had little money, so we could live better than we otherwise would, and then pay it back later, when we (hopefully) had steady incomes. (Of course, to us at the time, living well meant being able to buy cheap Thai food and beer.)

While his theory falls apart if it’s taken to extremes, for the most part it makes sense. Debt can be a very good thing, as long as you use it wisely. Here are five ways you can use debt to improve your life.

For those of you expecting another installment of Scam Week, I thought we’d take a little break mid-week. I’ve been friends with Kim for a while and with her book coming out, I thought having a guest post by her would be a nice change of pace. I hope you enjoy it!



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5 Tips For Those Working In A Job They Hate

by Guest Contributor on September 07, 2010

Twenty-first century folk hero Steven Slater had fed-up employees everywhere cheering when he left the job he hated in a theatrical flourish. After a few choice words over the intercom to a problematic JetBlue passenger, ex-flight attendant Slater grabbed a couple of brewskies and slid down the plane’s emergency slide.

Why did Slater become such an instant smash across Facebook and the the rest of the internet? The answer is quite obvious: there are plenty of people out there who simply can’t stand their job. Living vicariously through Slater, they wish that they, too, could leap out of their current job, albeit with bridges burning behind them.

It’s the Economy

Given the recession, however, many people are staying in jobs or whole careers that they just don’t like because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find a new job if they quit. Even for underpaid workers, the thought of finding a good paying job just seems unrealistic in this job market. Many workers have come to an unfortunate conclusion about their current job that they don’t like: hey, at least it’s a job.
Nevertheless, even if you’re stuck for the time being in a job you don’t like, you can still learn from your experience. Here are five tips to help you make the most out of a difficult situation at work.

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How to Save Money on Amazon.com

by Guest Contributor on July 27, 2010

Amazon.com BoxesAmazon is already a great place to shop that can save you a ton of money, but there are even more ways to save. Like any store, Amazon often runs promotions, sales, and specials that can provide even bigger savings, but you have to know how to find them. Some offers are predictable while others are more or less random, but if you know where and when to look you can save big. Here’s how to save even more when shopping on Amazon.

The Friday Sale

Every Friday Amazon has a sale offering a number of items at discounts of up to 50% off. To score one of these deals you can check the Friday Sale page every Friday or click on the “Today’s Deal” link at the top of any Amazon page. If it’s Friday, they will list the sale there. You never know what’s going to show up so it’s worth checking every week.
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How Dave Ramsey Helped Me Pay Off My Debt

by Guest Contributor on November 23, 2009

Dave Ramsey's Total Money MakeoverLate last December I came across a post on Bargaineering about Dave Ramsey’s book, “The Total Money Makeover.” Prior to this, I had never heard of Dave or his somewhat controversial teachings (e.g., he recommends folks pay off their debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rates, he quotes Bible verses – though mostly to share common sense financial wisdom, etc.).

Somewhat intrigued, I picked up a copy of the book and read it in about 24 hours. The writing style was engaging and the book really spoke to me. It caused me to sit down and take a long, hard look at where I was financially, a decade plus out of college… The picture wasn’t pretty; a good retirement account, almost no savings, credit card debt, a car loan that was underwater, and incredibly poor spending habits. Today, 11 months later, I am debt free (other than the house) and feel fantastic. If I can change my ways and eliminate more than $25k in debt in less than a year…anyone can.

So how did I do it?

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How to Save Money on International Long Distance Phone Calls

by Guest Contributor on October 29, 2009

Blue Rotary PhoneCalling family and friends overseas is very affordable and very easy, if done correctly. In this article I am going to reveal three affordable international long distance calling options to the old expensive standby, direct dialing. I’ve been doing a lot of research in this for my own needs so I hope you find this article valuable. Each option has the potential to save you more and more money, though sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit of convenience. Naturally, it’s always easiest to pick up the phone can call directly, instead of using a phone card, but only one of those two options is used by millions of people every week at a savings of up to 95% on every international phone call.

Why is this post focused on international long distance calls? Today, very few people have to pay extra for a domestic long distance call that there really is no incremental cost for a domestic long distance phone call. Cell phones charge by the minute, with no consideration of local or long distance. For that reason, we’ve ignored the domestic long distance calls.


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Teach Kids Money: Tying Chores & Allowances

by Guest Contributor on October 27, 2009

Coins in a JarThis is a guest post by Danny Kofke, a special education teacher and author of How to Survive (and Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher’s Salary. Danny and I have been emailing back and forth for the better part of the last month or two, working on a guest post about children and allowances. I asked Danny to write this post because it involves a hotly debated topic in parenting – should you tie your kid’s allowance to their chores? Or should they do chores “for free” because they are part of the family? Here’s his take.

My wife, Tracy, is a stay-at-home mom to my two young daughters – Ava, age 5 and Ella, 2. We don’t make a large salary so we have to be frugal with our money. We are trying to pass on our values to our children. Ava gets an allowance every week for the chores she does. We check each chore off on a daily basis and at the end of the week Ava gets paid for doing these chores.

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Money Tips I Learned from Poker

by Guest Contributor on October 18, 2009

Fat Stack of Poker Chips
This was a guest post written by my friend John H. about the some money tips he took from the felt and put into his wallet.

When you think of your bankroll, you probably think about how much cash you have in your wallet or how much money you have access to via your debit card that’s not already spoken for by bills. It’s your extra money that you’ll use to put gas in your car this week, go out to eat one night, or for some random purchase like buying a box of Do-Si-Dos® from the Girl Scouts outside your local grocery store.

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