For St. Patrick’s Day, How Green is My Money?

There’s a good chance if I say the word “green” your mind might wander to thoughts of money. The color of our money is so iconic that it has become synonymous with stacks of cash. I thought that today we might have a little fun and ponder the color green since it’s fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day 2018, March 17th, a day when green is at the forefront no matter what your ethnic background!

For St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd have some fun looking at why money is green, and checking out the color green throughout our culture.

“Greenback” Dollars

The color green has been used in federal currency dating back to 1861 and the Civil War. Before then, the Continental Congress had experimented with issuing notes called “continentals” to fund the Revolutionary War, but they were printed at such a high volume that they quickly lost their value. These new green notes were printed for a similar reason, but this time it was the Union side of the Civil War that needed financing. Continue reading

These 19 Retailers Have the Best Return Policies in The World

L.L. Bean has long been known for its lifetime return policy, which it ended just this past February. But don’t despair. The company is still offering an amazing policy that most people are pretty happy about! The store now offers a still-generous one-year window for returns.

When preparing to shop, it's important not only to compare prices, but also to check a retailer's return policy. You'll want to find a retailer who stands by their products in case something unforeseen happens. Here are 19 retailers with the best return policies.

 

L.L. Bean ended its legendary lifetime return policy to clamp down on customers who were taking advantage and using it to replace heavily worn products.

“Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers have been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for even heavily worn products used over many years,” the company wrote announcing the policy changes to customers.

I spent so many years (over 39!) in the retail environment that I can personally verify that some people out there do abuse return policies to the point that it has to be “built” into the retail price these days to cover for what stores must throw away that was returned for bogus reasons. Continue reading

How New Metal Import Tariffs Might Cost You in the Long Run

I don’t often write about government policies that can impact your personal finances just because I am not here to write about what’s political in nature. Ok, tax reform and tax law being a major exception to that idea, but that is an essential part of our finances so I can justify it. But having said that, the news this week of the establishment of import tariffs in the U.S. has everyone in the finance world buzzing. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…pardon my “Jaws” reference but it does feel like there is a great white shark looming out there and it might be a bit dangerous right about now. Is a trade war looming?

The current administration has moved forward with it's promise of import tariffs on steel and aluminum, but what affect could this have on your finances? Here's a look at what could happen as a result of this new policy.

I have literally re-written this post three times this week as new information and speculation has been surfacing every day about these proposals. Finally, the executive orders have now been signed.

Where Are We Right Now?

The economy and jobs picture seems to be humming along right now, but changes are happening. The new tariffs on foreign material steel and aluminum imports are going to affect industries that employ millions of Americans. Cars, beverage and robotics manufacturing are just three of the sectors that will be affected. Continue reading

Concentrate on the Big Three Expenses of Your Budget

Have you ever gotten through the month and breathed a sigh of relief because there was still a little bit of money left in your bank account? It’s a great feeling but sometimes it almost feels like a mystery. How did I do that? Why was this month such a good one compared to most others? Most of us are used to feeling stressed out because most of the time our money is tight.

When you're trying to get free from debt, little things matter, but concentrating on the big three expenses of your budget is the way to go. Here are the steps to take to eliminate debt from your life.

As ridiculous as this might sound, when I look at my monthly scorecard of what I spend and what my income was compared to my budget, I think about it like it is my NFL season record. You know, when I come in under my expense budget I feel like that’s a win and when I don’t it’s like a loss. I’d really love to have a 12-0 season, but frankly that hasn’t happened…yet. Continue reading

11 New Tax Law Changes That Can Affect You

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Now that I have filed my tax returns for the year 2017, I have had the time to really examine some of the new tax law changes signed last December by the president. Many of the big items have been written about quite a bit like the lower income tax brackets and the projected overall tax savings for almost all taxpayers (particularly for the wealthiest people). But are you aware of some of the other provisions and changes in the new law? Provisions that just might affect you on a grand scale that you may not have heard about at all!

The new tax law changes may not affect the 2017 taxes you're filing now, but they could affect what you do in 2018 and the deductions you take next year. It's important to know in advance to be able to minimize your tax burden.

If there is any good rule of thumb about taxes and your money it’s this: Always plan your tax strategies ahead in order to maximize your income and minimize your taxes. Continue reading

5 Big Money Questions That You Must Answer

You most likely have seen the TV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and know that if you answer some big money questions, you wind up with a lot of cash, maybe even a million dollars! But this post today isn’t about those kinds of questions.

Life is full of important questions and when it comes to money, there are several that must be answered on your way to financial security. Here are five big money questions you should be asking yourself.

As much as we might hate to admit it, money questions and our answers to them are things that we all spend a lot of our time pondering and even worrying about. When you were young and not the “grown-up” in the room like your parents had to be, penny-pinching, saving money, debt, and taxes were just not on your radar. That’s not a bad thing. Youth has its rewards and one of them is (hopefully) to be worry free about such things as how the bills will get paid and how to avoid piling up big debt and interest charges. Continue reading

The Strange Case of Taxing Your Social Security Benefits

Almost 62 million people, most of them retired workers, receive a Social Security check every month. That’s about 20% of all Americans these days and I’m one of them. For the vast majority of retirees, their Social Security income isn’t just some extra cash to count at the end of the month. It’s actually an indispensable source of income that they couldn’t do without. Social Security Administration (SSA) data shows that 62% of all retired workers get at least half their income, if not more, from Social Security. In some cases, it is the difference between life and death. And now that it’s tax time, many of us wonder “do you pay taxes on Social Security?”

Many seniors wonder "do you pay taxes on Social Security?" Well here is the strange case of how Social Security benefits are taxed and why it's unlikely to change.

The sad facts are that America’s most important social program isn’t in the best of shape. You probably know that Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than it generates in revenue by 2022. By 2034, Social Security’s asset reserves are expected to be depleted. Continue reading

So, Did Anything Good Happen to You This Week?

Once again it’s the start of a new week. It’s Sunday right now and for me at least it feels like it’s definitely an opportunity to start out fresh and clean and leave last week’s chaos behind us. I hope that my faith in that will be rewarded. It just seems that all that goes on such as the chaos in Washington, on Wall Street, and even just on Main Street right here in town leaps out at us all. But somewhere along the way I keep thinking that something good must be happening out there! Usually I ask that question in a different way. It’s usually, “Tell me something good that happened this week.” But what I really want to know is if anything good happened to you this week…your own personal good news.

Bad news and chaos seem to rule the headlines, but today I'm interested in good news. I'm sharing the story of my frugal shopping win, and I'd love to hear your good news of the week.

The good things seem to just come and go, often without being recognized and truly appreciated. We have to recognize the bad things because they are right in our faces and must be dealt with, but the good things just add quality to our lives in some simple way and sometimes we expect that to be part of the norm and we may even take them for granted. It’s only when life gets disrupted by the bad that we sit up and take notice. Continue reading

The Investing Strategy Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Know

For today’s guest post on a personal investing strategy, please welcome fellow personal finance blogger Joseph Hogue.

Making investing personal will not only make investing cheaper but will motivate you and help you reach your financial goals

Two stock market crashes in less than a decade into the new millennium and a lot of people wonder if investing is worth the risk and the worry. Keeping up with the ups-and-downs of the stock market and picking the best investments can seem like a part-time job.

You wouldn't know it from listening to Wall Street and the investment industry, but the best way to invest is with a personal investing strategy. Making it personal will help you get where you want to go financially.

But investing doesn’t have to be like that.

In fact, the best investing strategy is one about which you don’t worry at all. Continue reading

You Can Pay No Income Tax and Still Get a Huge Tax Refund!

Believe it or not, about 50% of all Americans pay no federal income tax. Zero, nada, zilch, nothing, a huge goose egg! Today’s Super Saving Tips post might just be the biggest money saver ever and could be worth thousands of dollars to you and your family right now. There are two reasons for it: your income level and certain tax laws and benefits, like the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

It's possible to pay no income tax and still get a big tax refund if you qualify for the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Here are the details...see whether it can benefit you and your family.

The tax system in the United States is designed to be progressive, meaning that higher incomes are asked to pay a larger percentage in income taxes. If your income level is relatively low, standard deductions and exemptions can quickly lower your tax burden to zero according to the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan research center. But then there’s something else. Because of credits, you can actually get a “refund” of real money without having paid any taxes at all! Continue reading