Saturday, May 15, 2010

Check Out Your Library For Some Cool Freebies

Check Out Your Library For Some Cool Freebies

By: Larry Lane

Your local library has gone under some big changes the last couple of
years. You can now find not only books, but a wide variety of
entertainment. Of course there are books, magazines, newspapers from
around the country to browse through. Want to dive into the new hot book?
Don't pay $20, check it out for 2 weeks free of charge. If your library
doesn't currently have it on hand, you can special order it; again at no
cost. If you don't complete your reading you can simply renew for another
2 weeks.

Free internet! Tired of paying $40-$60 per month ($500 or more per year),
you can get free high speed internet service at your library for free. If
you have a laptop, you can tap into their free wifi. No need to go to
your local coffee store and spend $3.00 on coffee. If you've read
previous blogs, you've already had your coffee for a few pennies at home.

Cds-Most libraries now carry Cds. While you're not going to get the
selection you'll see at a typical music store, you'd be surprised what
you'll find.

Movies-Don't spend $5.00 for movie night at home. Instead, check out the
movie section at your local library. Most libraries carry DVDs as well as
VHS. You'll see current titles as well as PBS documentaries you won't
find anywhere else.

Books on Cd/tape-Are you a traveling salesman or do you spend long
periods of times in your car? Turn your mind numbing drive into an
intellectual experience. Your local library may have hundreds of books on

Check out your local library and you'll leave with a plethora of
entertainment choices. Most importantly, they're all FREE!

Larry Lane is the editor for,
a social networking site specializing in personal finance

Retrieved from:

Larry Lane - About the Author:

Larry Lane is the editor for
, a social networking site dedicated to personal

Investorzoo brings you weekly deals on credit cards, high yield checking
accounts as well as CD and money market yields. You'll also find over a
directory of over 10,000 financial professionals in many categories in
all 50 states.

Are you a financial professional looking to help people with money issues
and gain world wide exposure? is the 1st true social
network dedicated to the world of personal finance. Answer questions on
our public forums, receive leads and start a profile. We are accepting
profiles from any licensed professional (in good FINRA standing) or
published financial author.

If you have any questions, please drop me an email at or 425-591-9315..

Sunday, May 2, 2010

7 Ways To Improve Your Gas Mileage And Save Money

7 Ways To Improve Your Gas Mileage And Save Money

By: Larry Lane

Americans love their cars. The typical family with 2 cars spends about
$3,000 per year on gasoline.  While you can't control the price of gas,
you can control your gas mileage and the efficiency of your vehicle.
Here's a brief checklist to improving your gas mileage.

1)  Gas prices vary by a couple of cents to a dime from station
to station. Do a search on your favorite search engine for "best gas
prices." Saving just $5.00 per week will put $250 in your pocket per year.

2)  Tune ups: Only get a tune-up if you need one. You may
increase your mileage by a few percent; however the average tune up may
cost $200 or more.  If it is time for a tune-up, don't ignore you car's
needs. It will help keep your car efficient, on the road longer and
improve your overall mileage 5-10%.

3)  Drive 55 or the local speed limit. Every 5 miles per hour
over 55 will cost you 5% or more in fuel efficiency.

4)  Replace your old oil and air filters. Oil filters should be
changed with each oil change and air filters about every 5,000 miles.
They're cheap and pretty easy to change.

5)  Properly inflate your tires. People made fun of John McCain
when he suggested everyone inflate their tires correctly during the
Presidential race. However his advice was 100% correct. Properly inflate
your tires and you'll increase your gas mileage by about 3%. Check your
owner's manual for proper recommended levels.

6)  Oil Changes: The cheapest oil change may cost you long term.
By going to the local $9.95 oil change garage, you may be doing more harm
than good. Cheap oil and cheap filters may leave sludge in your engine
and decrease the lifetime of your car as well as your fuel effiency. My
mechanic recommends high grade Mobile Oil or synthetic oil.

7)  If you don't need your air conditioner, don't use it.  Air
conditioning and open windows will decrease your mileage by 2-6%.

If you can improve your mileage just 10%, you can pocket $300 or more
annually. In addition, you'll keep your car happy and prolong the
lifespan of your vehicle.

Larry Lane is the editor for,
a social media website specializing in personal finance. Email comments
and questions to

Retrieved from:

Larry Lane - About the Author:

Larry Lane is the head blogger and biz dev for


 a social networking site dedicated to personal finance.

Are you a financial professional looking to help people with money issues
and gain world wide exposure? Please drop me an email at or call me directly at 425-591-9315.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Basic Information On The Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit

Basic Information On The Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit

By: Paul

With April coming to an end soon, so follows the expected expiration of
the Homebuyer Tax Credit offered by the federal government for first-time
homebuyers and existing homeowners. The last iteration of the tax credit
was set to expire on November 30, 2009. On November 6, 2009 the tax
credit was extended and expanded through spring of 2010. Presently, the
tax credit is available for first-time homebuyers and existing homeowners
who sign the purchase contract on a primary residence by April 30, 2010
with the closing completed by June 30, 2010.

For in depth information on the federal tax credit for homeowners view
the site at As far as basic information goes, the federal
government is offering a tax credit for first-time homebuyers and
existing homeowners who enter into a binding contract to purchase a new
home by April 30, 2010 with the closing completed by June 30, 2010.

A first-time homebuyer is defined as a buyer who has not owned a home
during the last three years up to the date of the purchase of the
residence. First-time homebuyers are able to claim a tax credit for 10%
of the purchase price of a home up to a maximum of $8,000. The home
purchased cannot exceed the $800,000 price cap. The full credit will be
available if taxpayer has a modified adjusted gross income up to $125,000
if filing as single and up to $225,000 if filing jointly. A partial
credit will still be available if a single filers MAGI exceeds the
$125,000 as long as it stays between $125,000.01 and $145,000. Joint
filers can receive a partial credit if their MAGI are between $225,000.01
and $245,000.

An existing homeowner is defined as someone who has lived in a home for a
period of 5 consecutive years out of an S year period ending on the
purchase date of the home. Existing homeowners purchasing a new primary
residence may claim 10% of the purchase price of the residence up to a
maximum of $6,500. The home purchased must not exceed the $800,000 price
cap. As with the first-time buyer credit, the full credit will be
available for existing homeowners if the taxpayer has a modified adjusted
gross income up to $125,000 if filing as single and up to $225,000 if
filing jointly. A partial credit will still be available if a single
filers MAGI exceeds the $125,000 as long as it stays between $125,000.01
and $145,000. Joint filers can receive a partial credit if their MAGI are
between $225,000.01 and $245,000.

Retrieved from:

Paul Escobedo

Chicago home builders.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Student’s Guide to Getting a Loan

A Student’s Guide to Getting a Loan

Courtesy of:
Free Articles for Websites

When you are putting yourself through college, it can become quite
expensive. Do not think that you cannot afford college. All you need to
look into is getting a student loan. Use this as your simple guide to
help you along throughout your education. There are certain loans that
will allow you to go through school without worrying about
href="">paying back student
loans right away

Sit Down with a Counselor

Your school is going to be your first stop when finding the right loan.
By making an appointment with a counselor you will be able to get the
inside scoop to student loans. They will also be able to show you the
href="">best student loans
that you will need
to look into. Your counselor is going to show you how much you need in
terms of tuition, books and living expenses. Take their services for
advantage and let them help you.

Types of Loans

Now, once you know how much you need to get for your school tuition, you
need to look for the right type of student loans. Look for
href="">deferred student loans

that will allow you to get the money you need without having to pay it
back right away. This means that you can get your degree and go through
college without worrying about a monthly payment on the loan.

Picking a Loan Company – The best loan company is going to give the best
student loans. You want to find a lender that will work for you. Choose a
lender that gives you the right terms and the right amount of money. Try
not to get in over your head with student loans. Getting education does
not have to be put on hold because of money, so start looking at student
loans right now!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Big Tax Refund? Big Mistake!

Big Tax Refund? Big Mistake!

by FiGuy

So you are anxiously awaiting your W-2, so you can file your taxes, and get that big refund. Is this a mistake? Filing for the refund isn't, but if you are consistently getting a big refund, you aren't making the most of your money. Would you loan a total stranger money for a year, at no interest? If you are getting large refunds, that is exactly what you are doing. You are giving Uncle Sam a loan, and getting no interest on it. Even worse, you are tying up your own money, instead of putting it to work for you. You earned it, you should be able to use it when you need it.

If you are due a large refund, by all means claim it. You should file for, and get back, every dollar you are legitimately entitled to. Don't pad your claim, but do go after what the rules say you are due. If you really enjoy the forced savings aspect of the refund process, you may want to leave well enough alone, but most of us could use a little more money in our pay envelope. If you are one of them, but don't know how to go about getting it, read on. You will need to be cautious when you make the adjustments I'm going to recommend. If you overdo it, you will wind up owing money, and that is something none of us wants! Consult your tax professional, or if you do your own, run the numbers yourself - carefully - before you commit. You want to shoot for break-even, leaning towards a small refund, rather than owing anything.

Why do this? Well, you don't have to, and after I've explained things you may still decide you don't want to, but you should know you can so you can make an informed decision. Let's say for the last few years you have gotten a refund of around $1700. If you reduced that amount to $500, you would be seeing an extra $100 a month in your paychecks, which I'm sure you could put to good use, and you'd still be getting something back from Uncle Sam, rather than having to pay him come April 15th. Sounds like a winner to me! The IRS page I'm going to send you to later lists "Employees who would like to change their withholding to reduce their tax refund or their balance due" first on the list of people who could benefit from reviewing their withholding situation. If you get small refunds, then you do not want to make any adjustments to your situation, you are already in great shape.

So, how do we do this? Form W-4. That is the form you fill out when you first start work for an employer, listing the number of exemptions you take. The higher the number of exemptions, the less money is automatically deducted from your paycheck. File a new one, and claim a larger number than you currently do. Simply tell the folks in payroll that you want to do this, they'll know what you want, and should have the appropriate form on hand. They may caution you about doing this, and rightly so, but if you have your numbers down solidly, go ahead and go for it. This generally needs to be done at the beginning of the year so your numbers will be accurate, or when you start a new job, so this is the time to do it. You shouldn't need to do so again, unless you add to your family or get a raise or have something else change your tax situation, then you will need to look at your tax status again and decide if you need to adjust the number up or down accordingly.

The W-4 is a powerful tool, so again I warn you to be cautious, but the results can be well worth it. If you claim too many exemptions, you'll get a lot less deducted from your paycheck, but you could wind up owing big money at tax time. That's the potential downside risk. The upside is you will immediately see more money in your paycheck. If you have a complicated income situation, multiple jobs, self-employment, will be leaving your job before the end of the year, or have other factors that keep your tax status less than simple, a review will do you good as well, but you don't want to make any adjustments without understanding what the results could be, and that's a little beyond the scope of this article.

A quick way to find out what adjusting your W-4 exemptions will do for you is to go to this IRS page:

IRS Withholding Calculator

They have solid advice, and will give you good numbers to work with. You can also run numbers through a past years version of whatever tax preparation software you use. Don't just wing it, use your pay stubs and the appropriate tables to get real numbers, estimations may bite you later.

So, if you consistently get large refunds, reduce them in the future, and put a little more in your pocket each month while staying square with Uncle Sam by adjusting your exemptions on your W-4. Just make sure you've got a handle on the numbers so you don't wind up owing when April 15th rolls around.

Standard CYA Disclaimer:
You should always consult a tax professional before making any changes that may change your tax situation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Consider Charitable Giving

Consider Charitable Giving
by FiGuy

Hopefully you have been out shopping, and helping to stimulate the economy - without overspending and breaking your budget. Most folks know that the Christmas season is make or break time for retailers, with Black Friday being the day they hopefully get out of the red ink and into the black, indicating profits rather than losses. The holiday season is make or break time for many charities, too. If you have the means, consider making a contribution to your favorite cause.

If you've already tightened your belt to the last notch, and just don't have any spare cash, drop a couple loose coins in a bell ringer's bucket, and don't let the guilties get you. If, however, you've been a prudent consumer, saved a little money to spend at this time of year, found a few real bargains, and managed to have more on hand that you thought you would, you could go buy a few more trinkets, or you could help make a difference in a cause near and dear to your heart. Part with a few bucks, giving feels good!

Don't consider giving just for the tax deduction, but if you do give, there is no reason not to take any available deductions that are offered. Depending on where you live, and your tax status and filing practices (you need to itemize), you might even wind up getting more bang for your buck than the value of your contribution. State income taxes are often affected by what happens with your Federal taxes, which can act as a multiplying factor. If you are always close to break even (which you *should* be - more on that next year!) and neither paying a large amount, nor receiving a large refund, that small contribution might just keep you from having to write a check come April 15th. It won't make much of a difference monetarily, but it may be very convenient. Why not pay out a little now, while you have it, rather than later, when you may not?

Make sure the charity of your choice is a 501c or other qualifying organization if you are planning to take a deduction, but there are many worthwhile causes to give money to that are not necessarily tax deductible, so don't let tax status alone determine if the charity is a worthwhile one to you! Pick things you care about, and help out with what you can within your means. If contributions are deductible, get a receipt so you can make the claim when you file. If they are not, enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of giving and don't worry about it.

Seek out the charity, and give directly. Don't respond to cold calls or middlemen! At best they will be eating up some of your contribution for their own overhead (and you will be encouraging folks to interrupt your dinner to pester you). At the worst, they are scam artists who will pass along nothing to the charity, but will be lining their own pockets. Direct giving avoids all that, and makes sure the charity gets the most potential from your gift, however small.

Don't break the bank because you feel guilty, but if you do have some money to spare, however little it may be, do consider making a gift to a worthwhile cause.

Have a Merry Christmas (or your particular holiday celebration of choice), and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Secret Santa Shopping Tips

Secret Santa Shopping Tips
by FiGuy

You've been designated someone's Secret Santa. Here are a few tips to help you fulfill your role, without having to work at it too hard...

If there is an established limit on spending, keep to it. While things you might like to receive yourself can be a good place to start, remember that tastes do vary, and the person you are buying for may not share yours.

Try to keep your gifts practical and useful, it will be appreciated. Stay away from gag gifts, and decorative or cutesy items. That singing teddy bear might be adorable, but the novelty will wear off quickly. After that it collects dust or winds up in the landfill. Also avoid beauty or hygiene items - you'll almost never get the right brands, and you might accidentally send the wrong message: you stink! you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny! etc.

Edible is credible. Most people enjoy getting good things to eat. Unless you know for certain the person likes fruitcake (I'm one of those weird people who does), avoid it. There are more complaints and jokes about fruitcake than just about any other holiday gift. Try to find out if the person you are buying for has any special needs before you buy. Do they have allergies? Are they diabetic? Do they observe a restricted diet for religious or personal reasons (Kosher, Vegan, etc.)? You don't want to give a glazed ham to someone that doesn't eat pork, and those premium steaks won't go over well with a vegetarian! Chocolate is overdone, but there is a reason for that, and sometimes a cliche will work in your favor.

Consider giving an assortment of small items, and perhaps throwing in a bar of chocolate or some candy to sweeten the deal. This increases your odds of hitting on some item that they will like and use, and you have the tasty treat as a backup in case you missed. Are they always borrowing something from their co-workers? Clue!

Go spy on their workplace for some other hints. Do they have lots of pictures of their family? Perhaps a small electronic picture frame would make a nice gift. Page-a-day calendars are almost always useful. Is their workplace plastered with Dilbert or Garfield cartoons? Bingo! Do they have quotes and inspirational sayings tacked up? Bingo! Now you can pick out a calendar to match their tastes.

Flash thumb drives, those little memory gadgets that plug into a USB port, are a wonderful item that has come down into Secret Santa price range. They come in all sorts of colors and graphic schemes these days, and are quite useful. Unless the person you are buying for already has a drawer full of them, this item should go over quite well.

Keep it simple, try to tailor to the person you are buying for, have fun with it. A little creativity, and a little snooping, can have everyone commenting on what a wonderful gift you picked out - and even if they don't know who did the picking, you'll know and feel good about it.

Now go out and stimulate the economy!