Personal Finance Round-Up: Used Auto Industry “Flooded” With Problems

flooded carsWho knew that the devastating Superstorm Sandy that battered the East Coast would have an impact on the auto industry? In a recent report, First Coast News explains that the storm destroyed an estimated 250,000 vehicles, and coupled with the fact that many people are keeping their old cars for longer periods of time, consumers are finding it difficult to purchase quality used vehicles.

Cars are inherently unsafe and unreliable after being flooded. Even though the car may at first seem functional, many problems can arise: rot, corrosion, problems with electrical systems, cooling systems, brakes, and mold or mildew entering the vehicle via the ventilation system.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: It Pays to Keep All Business Receipts

receiptsSaving receipts for business expenses is crucial for all business owners. In an article published by Entrepreneur Magazine, 7 Tips for Keeping Receipts Organized for Tax Time, author Mark J. Kohler explains how one real estate broker learned this lesson the hard way and found herself in tax court. In the case of Ong v. the Internal Revenue Service, Betty Ong was unable to produce receipts for thousands of dollars worth of deductions. Regardless of whether the transactions were legitimate, Ong had no leg to stand on without the receipts, and the IRS won easily.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Get the Lowdown on the Latest Money Apps

appAre you always on the lookout for the latest, greatest smartphone apps? From keeping track of expenses to your exercise goals, utilizing smartphone apps can be a fast, cheap, and efficient way to manage your life. However, determining which apps to use can be quite difficult.

Many apps are hard to resist because they are free to install but you still end up paying the price of potentially being spammed, receiving incessant alerts, or compromising your privacy by having your location and behavior tracked. It can also be time-consuming to figure out whether the application is actually what you need – especially when it comes to financial apps, which are available in droves.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Debt, Identity Theft & Other Financial Nightmares

financial troubleIt seems as though more and more horror stories involving debt collection agencies  pop up every day, and recently, one of the worst occurred in Texas. According to Blake Ellis’s recent CNN Money article, Debt Collection Horror Stories, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closed down a Houston-based debt collector for using deceptive measures to force people to fork over their payday loans.

Other abusive allegations of agencies include constantly calling debtors, claiming they will put the consumer in jail, threatening to take away children, promising to hurt pets, and even threatening to dig up dead bodies.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Valentine’s Day Giving and Saving

heartReady for Valentine’s Day? Every year on February 14th, loved ones exchange gifts and cards, which became a tradition starting around 1900 due to the advent of printing technology. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend a total of $1.5 billion on cards alone, and the average person will spend $130.97 on candy, cards, gifts, and more.

You might be wondering, how can each American spend so much on a single person? In fact, most shoppers purchase gifts not just for spouses and significant others, but also for family members, friends, coworkers, and even pets – though couples still spend the most on one another, averaging $73.75.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Fees, Fees, and More Fees

feesIt seems like everywhere you go, there’s a fee. Whether you’re at the bank purchasing a cell phone, or simply withdrawing your money out of a nearby ATM, you have to pay extra. There are setup fees, activation fees, and even early termination fees.

Had enough? It may be getting worse. According to a recent MSN Money article, Credit Card Check Out Fees by Beverly Blair Harzog, as of January 27, 2013, merchants are allowed to change a fee for accepting MasterCard and Visa. Merchants currently pay for you to swipe your credit card – and this fee can now be handed over to the consumer, with a tacked-on fee of 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Watch Out for Car Dealer Scams

car dealershipGetting ripped off can be a consumer’s worst nightmare, and car salespeople can be particularly devious, often making the process difficult. Many car salespeople work on commission, and any extra you are willing to pay pads their wallets.

However, if you think you’ll never figure out their tricks, think again: In the article, Avoid These Car Dealership Sales Tricks, U.S. News speaks to car industry experts, who share their secrets to help you the next time you need to buy a new automobile.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Leveraging Strategic Outsourcing

outsource keyboardOutsourcing is a known concept to many businesses. They rely on others to do their payroll, accounting, and other important tasks. Paying others to do this can cut costs, increase efficiency, and help start new projects quickly.

Though it benefits the company to save money, be competitive, or be more profitable, it strikes fear into the heart of those who think they may lose their jobs. While most people agonize about having their job outsourced, a recent article on the Verizon Business Security Blog explains how one man willingly gave his away and sent his work offshore to China. A software developer secretly paid someone to do his job for a fifth of his own salary while he played on the computer all day.  Network logs revealed open and active connections to the company’s computer network from China.

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