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Eleven Hacks For Your Wallet

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Hi All,

If you are looking for ideas to improve your finances, Forbes’ Maggie McGrath has a great article detailing 11 ways you can save money.  Its full of great ideas beyond what you’ll find in most personal finance publications.  For example McGrath says you should use new $50 and $100 dollar bills because you are less likely to spend them. Another great tip is to empty your internet cache when you shop online because sometimes retailers take advantage of you by raising prices.

Click here for the rest of the wallet hacks.



5 Overlooked Deductions You Can Save On

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5 Overlooked Deductions You Can Save On 300x207 5 Overlooked Deductions You Can Save On[The following is a guest post]

Tax season is right around the corner. As you get ready to prepare your 1040, it helps to first organize your paperwork, and then sit down and think about deductions. If you hire a tax preparer to file, bring all your paperwork and any notes about potential deductions to your appointment. If you self-prepare, compile your documentation in one place, and block off some time to get it done. Take caution to not overlook these deductions.

Health Expenses
Many people don’t think about out of pocket health expenses as a tax deduction, and fewer still track these expenses throughout the year. Remember that small expenses over time can add up quickly, and the IRS rule regarding these expenses recently changed. You may now only deduct by which your medical expenses exceeded 10% of your adjusted gross income. This includes qualified dental expenses in addition to medical expenses. If you failed to track your expenses this year, start next year. When you prepare your 2014 taxes, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Insurance Premiums
Whether we’re talking about a contractors general liability insurance, or your own health insurance, this is an area often overlooked. Careful tracking is required in order to properly take this deduction. The IRS only permits deductions of these expenses if neither you nor your spouse were able to obtain insurance through a qualified employer plan. Eligibility is determined on a month by month basis.

Charitable Expenses
Keep your goodwill or Church tithe records as you donate throughout the year. One deduction here, another there, and pretty soon you have a hefty sum to deduct from your taxable income. Give away your stuff, but don’t give away your tax credit. There is plenty of room to get creative here as well. It may seem obvious to donate small items like clothes or old video tapes, but consider making some larger donations too. If you’re thinking about selling your old car or boat, stop to consider the tax benefits associated with donation. Additionally, several websites exist to answer any questions about boat donations that you might have. In the end, you will make a huge difference for a great cause, and you’ll also have a massive tax write-off on your hands.

Daycare Expenses
Anyone with children knows that daycare is not cheap. Most people qualify for this tax credit if they pay for someone to watch their child who is under the age of 13. Typically, up to $5,000 in eligible expenses are tax deductible. The same type of tax deduction applies to a spouse or other dependent who his unable to care for themselves. See your tax preparer, or the IRS website for more information on the child and dependent care deduction.

Got an IRA?
There are a number of different ways to save for retirement. One of the most common ways is via an individual retirement account (IRA). For 2013, the maximum contribution is $5,500, and you must not exceed income maximums in order to take the full deduction. Keep in mind that only contributions to traditional IRAs are deductible, ROTH IRA contributions are not tax deductible. Keep the potential for future deductions in mind as you set up your IRA account. If you are over the age of 50, you may make a catch up contribution in the amount of $5,500, and the contribution is due by your tax return due date in order to qualify.

Successful tax planning does not have to be overly complex. Success simply requires a deliberate strategy, and thoughtful execution. If you failed to plan adequately for 2013, resolve to begin planning for the 2014 tax year.


Psychology and Financial Trading: An Insight into the Mind of Traders

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[The following is a guest post]

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, large corporate investors are increasingly losing faith in the stock market. More specifically, it suggests that investors are avoiding public markets as a medium through to execute orders, with the prevalence of algorithmic trading and other structural issues believed to be causing volatility and a wider fragmentation of the financial markets.

While this topic can be debated at length, it offers a fascinating insight into the psychology of trading and the individuals who risk their capital on the financial market. Traders are a particularly alert and decisive breed, for example, who are used to adapting in the face of evolution and operating within pressurised and changeable conditions.

In fact, the psychological make-up of the typical investor in an extremely interesting one, and one that includes multiple facets. Consider the following: –

An Understanding of Fear and the Appetite for Risk

Fear is a natural drive of success among financial market traders, but only if they are able to understand this emotion and use it as a way of determining their appetite for risk. Experienced traders boast an innate understanding of fear as a fundamental concept, which serves as a natural reaction to perceived threats such as market volatility and the depreciation of value. This enables them to quantify the specific problem and deal with it in a proactive way, rather than reacting in an emotional and ill-considered manner. In many cases, this comprehension can enable traders to clarify their approach to risk and determine a strategy that suits their philosophy.

The Concept of Greed and its Impact on Traders

Greed is one of the worst characteristics that a trader can have, as it often causes them to hold onto winning positions longer than they should do. They do this in the quest for even greater financial returns, but any experienced investor will testify to the importance of managing expectations and closing positions at the optimum time. While it is a natural human instinct to aspire and demand greater success in our endeavours, the key for traders is to develop focus and execute trades based on sound business decision making and in-depth market knowledge. Without this, they run the risk of incurring significant financial losses over a sustained period of time.

Discipline as a Core Trading Attribute

Our investment philosophy helps to shape the strategies that we employ when trading, especially when it comes to managing risk and closing positions. For those in the market for long-term gains in particular, it is imperative that they have the discipline to remain true to their strategy even as their chosen market begins to fluctuate. While online resources can be used to access daily news bulletins and breaking trends, for example, there is a pressing need for traders to use this information to underpin rather than consistently change their strategy. By remaining disciplined in their approach and showcasing confidence in their trading strategy, investors can resist short-term dips in the market and emerge with a handsome profit.


Be Smart About Charity This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is the time of year when many people open their wallets to help the less fortunate. Millions of dollars flow to numerous charities in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. People can find charities for whatever causes they wish to help with, from funding research on specific conditions to helping animals to feeding the hungry. Unfortunately, there are many criminals willing to take advantage of the kindness of others and have created charity scams to siphon money away from the charities that are actually making a difference. Here are some methods you can use to ensure that your charity dollars are going to the right places.

Research The Charities You Consider

During the holiday season, mailboxes are full of solicitations from various charities asking you to donate money to their cause, typically by sending a check in the envelope provided or by calling a phone number and giving the representative your credit card number. However, some of these solicitations may be from fake charities or charities that spend far more paying companies to request donations than they spend on their cause. By doing your research before you decide to donate, you can avoid the charities that are going to waste your money and can focus on the charities that are doing the most good.

Avoid Clicking Links In Your Email

Now that email is a cheap way to communicate with thousands of people at a time, many charities send out emails to connect with possible donors and solicit donations for their causes. Unfortunately, clicking on a link in the email can send you to a scam website or download damaging malware to your computer. If you are interested in donating to a charity that makes contact with you by email, type in the name of the charity in an internet search engine and find the home page of the charity, which will often have a donate button prominently displayed.

Keep Records Of Your Donations

It is important to keep records of the financial and material support that you provide to charities throughout the year. You will need this information when it is time to file your income taxes for the year or if you find out that the charity you donated to was a fraud. For financial support, pay with a check or your credit card so the donation will show up on your account statement. For material support such as clothing, furniture, or cars, ask for a receipt from the charity when the donation is dropped off or picked up.