The emotional and financial benefits of charitable giving (including tax deductions) are well-documented, but the money and goods you give mean very little unless they produce tangible results. Unfortunately, not all charities serve the public good efficiently. Some even make national news for less-than-noble activities, such as misused funds, overpaid CEOs, and ineffective programs. Potential donors should do thorough research prior to giving their hard-earned dollars to a charity that may be under-performing or ripe for scandal.
By Jacqueline Curtis
Whether you’re a total fashionista or you avoid the mall at all costs, you probably spend a lot more than you think on clothing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent $1,736 on clothes in 2012. Although kids outgrow their clothing fairly quickly, adults can hang onto theirs for years – as long as it doesn’t wear out.
Since longer-lasting clothing means more money in your pocket, be sure you do all you can to preserve your wardrobe. Of course, it may require changing a few habits. Luckily, you don’t need special products to keep your whites sparkling and your dark garments looking sharp.
By Kira Botkin
TurboTax is the most popular tax filing program, and with the many different options available, there’s a fit for most anyone. It was the top-rated, best-selling tax software last year, and is likely to continue that trend. With the clean, streamlined design and step-by-step interview, this program is a great choice for novices, but does also offer support for more advanced tax situations.
With multiple apps, including a full-featured iPad app that supports all the versions, TurboTax is a product that has kept up with the times.
By Kira Botkin
H&R Block prepares about one in every seven tax returns in the U.S., making it one of the best-known names in the business. With more than 10,000 offices, it has a presence in practically every city in America – but you don’t actually have to leave your house to file.
H&R Block offers many of the advantages of its office-based services but at a lower cost and greater convenience.
- Accurate Calculations Guaranteed. H&R Block guarantees an accurate calculation and the biggest possible tax refund you qualify for. If you’re assessed penalties for miscalculation, it pays them, including interest.
By Kira Botkin
Though it doesn’t have the name recognition of TurboTax or H&R Block, TaxACT is a competitive tax preparation program that offers online federal filing for free, regardless of your income. It gives you the ability to complete an extremely wide variety of tax forms both online or on your computer after download, all at very attractive prices.
However, with those prices come a few flaws. But if you’d like to complete your taxes without spending an arm and a leg this year, TaxACT may be the right program for you.
By Brian Martucci
While you’ve probably fantasized about living in an affordable vacation destination, it might not be in the cards for your family. Moving to a big expensive city such as New York or San Francisco might be out of the question too.
Fortunately, the United States has many affordable, economically vibrant metropolitan areas that offer great job prospects, low living costs, and a bevy of lifestyle options for people from all walks of life. These metro areas all stretch your dollar further than you’d expect, without forcing you to make painful career sacrifices or compromise your family’s quality of life. Reasonable housing, energy, and transportation costs may also free up extra space in your family’s household budget and help you plan for whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
By Mary McCoy
The fact that charitable giving can help reduce your tax burden is well known, especially if you’re in a high bracket. But the benefits of giving extend far beyond tax breaks.
Of course, giving can be a challenge – especially when money is tight. After all, your income could just as easily go toward a college savings fund for your kids, a much-needed vacation, or even a new pair of shoes. But whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.
By David Bakke
With many financial institutions experiencing a decrease in profits, banks are vying for your business. This is good news for you, because instead of just offering standard perks like no fees, free checking, or a free pen when you sign up for an account, some banks are raising the stakes with cold hard cash, giveaways, and great interest-bearing products.
March is a good month for bank promotions from both big and small banks. Banks are giving away a lot of free cash to attract new customers and get them to open up accounts. The banks listed below have some pretty sweet deals that you should take advantage of if you are in the market for a new bank.
The Chase Ink line of business cards includes the Chase Ink Cash Card - a no-annual-fee card that allows you to earn minimal rewards for business purchases – as well as the Chase Ink Bold and Plus cards, which do charge an annual fee but offer more rewards and bonuses to compensate for it.
If you like the features and benefits of the Bold – which is a charge card, not a credit card – but are not sure you can pay your balance in full every month as required, take a look at the Chase Ink Plus® Business Card, which offers the benefits of a charge card without all the limitations.
By Christina Majaski
Of the business credit cards that are part of the Chase Ink family, the Bold and Plus cards offer the most benefits and reward opportunities. The biggest difference between Bold and Plus is that the Chase Ink Bold is a charge card – not a credit card. Charge cards do not impose credit limits, but they must be paid in full each month.
As a business owner, you need to consider not only which card provides the best benefits and rewards for your business, but whether a credit or charge card would suit your business needs best. This review covers the Chase Ink Bold® Business Card.
By Kira Botkin
While it certainly can be worth the money to hire a professional to prepare your taxes, you may be able to avoid paying any money at all if your personal finances aren’t too complicated. There’s no need to pay more than your fair share in taxes – and similarly, there’s no need to pay extra when preparing them.
There are many excellent tax preparation services available online, many of which charge very little, and others that charge nothing. Keep in mind that many services only file your federal taxes for free, requiring that you either complete your state forms using another method or pay a fee to have them filed along with the federal tax forms. Still, you can save a ton of money by doing taxes with the assistance of one of these programs.
By Jacqueline Curtis
If you’ve never seen an episode of TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates,” here’s a quick rundown: Each episode features two self-described “cheapskates” who demonstrate their cheap ways throughout the episode. From dumpster diving, to foraging for vegetables, it seems like there’s no money-saving method too extreme for these beacons of money-saving savvy.
But here’s the thing: While the cheapskates on the show cheerfully boast about all the money they’re saving, not all of their behavior is safe. In fact, the series starts with a warning: “Don’t try this at home.”
The Chase Ink line of business credit cards includes the Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Cash, and Ink Classic. Each has different features, and all are ranked among the top credit cards available for businesses.
The Chase Ink Cash® Business Card offers the opportunity to earn cash back for standard business-related purchases, which, for small businesses, can be a very valuable feature.
- Sign-up Bonus. As a new cardholder, you earn a $200 bonus cash back reward after spending $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. This is awarded in the form of 20,000 points, which equal $200.
By Christina Majaski
The Chase Ink® Classic Business Credit Card is part of the Chase Ink family and is very similar to the Chase Ink Cash Business Card, with just a few slight differences. Whether this rewards card is right for your business depends on these differences and how they stack up against other fairly standard business credit cards that provide travel benefits.
The Chase Ink Classic is a no-annual-fee card that rewards business owners for purchases with points that can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and merchandise.
The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is the new version of the Mileage Plus card – a result, in part, of the 2010 merger of United and Continental Airlines. The merger allowed Continental OnePass cardholders the opportunity to convert frequent flyer miles, and it currently offers a few bonuses that previous cardholders were not able to take advantage of. But did the new Explorer card include enough updates to entice members to remain part of the United MileagePlus program?