Personal Finance

Budgeting Basics Part IV - Incorporating tax benefits into your budget and using your budget

This is the last in a four-part series. Last week's Budgeting Basics Earful included a discussion on entering goals into your budget and incorporating different sources of money into your budget. This week we discuss certain types of every-day expenses that might produce tax benefits that can have the effect of lowering the expenses in your budget. In addition, we'll talk about how you can actually use your budget.Here is a handful of expense categories that might appear in your budget and that have tax benefits associated with them:

Organizations mobilize to encourage Americans to save money

A national survey conducted earlier this month found that about half of all U.S. households report adequate savings progress. Only 53 percent say that they save at least 5 percent of their income, while only 57 percent of those not retired say they are saving enough for a retirement with a "desirable standard of living." The survey was released Monday at a press conference during the second annual America Saves Week, in which more than 80 major governmental, non-profit, and industry organizations are participating.

Budgeting Basics Part III: Entering goals and incorporating other sources of revenue

This is the third in a four-part series. In this week's budgeting lesson we learn how to incorporate your personal goals into the budget of your everyday income and expenses.Enter Your goalsNow that you've entered the current income and expense items that you encounter in your everyday life, it's time to work your goals into your budget. Look back at your list of goals and determine how much you need to start setting aside to attain them.

Budgeting basics - Part II: Creating your budget

Last week we learned about setting up goals for your budget. This week we begin with a discussion about how to calculate the cost of your goals, and then we get busy creating the actual budget.Calculate the Annual Cost of Each Goal

Budgeting basics – Part I – Establishing goals

This is the first in a four-part, four-week series on creating and using budgets.Most people have a pretty good idea of how much they earn and how much they spend, and if you ask how much people have in their bank accounts, they can usually tell you. But few people really know where they spend all of their money, and fewer still have a method in place that allows them to keep track of the amounts they expect to earn, spend, and save for the long-term.

Are you and your mate financially compatible?

You like the same movies and you finish each other's sentences, but where do you and your significant other stand on important financial issues?

What should one expect from a financial advisor in a down market?

There's an old saying in the financial service industry that financial advisors and financial planners earn their money in down markets when their clients' natural tendencies are to make emotional decisions that damage their financial futures.Jack Waymire, co-founder of the Paladin Registry and author of Who's Watching Your Money?, said, "This saying is absolutely correct if the professional you are depending on is a real financial advisor.
Tax

Tax relief aimed at easing sub-prime mortgage mess

Amid daily headlines of a worsening housing crisis, debt-burdened homeowners are looking to two pieces of congressional action that could ease the pain.Monday's headlines stated that new home sales fell by 26 percent last year, which is the biggest drop since 1963, the U.S. Department of Commerce says. And last week's headlines said sales of previously owned single-family homes took a dive - the biggest annual drop in 25 years.

Fidelity opens flagship Magellan Fund to new investors

For 45 years, Fidelity Magellan Fund, a well-known name in mutual fund history, has helped millions of Americans reach their financial goals. For the first time in 10 years, the fund is open to new investors.Donovan explains why it is in the interests of Magellan Fund shareholders to reopen the fund: "Having been closed for more than a decade, Magellan's shareholder base has matured and, in the normal course of investing, many shareholders have continued to redeem assets as they've met their financial goals.
Technology

"Accounting Chicks" win $100,000 Minnesota raffle

Four Minnesota accountants, calling themselves the "Accounting Chicks," teamed up to purchase Minnesota Millionaire Raffle tickets and ended up winning $100,000 in the lottery.Lacey Amundsen of Brooklyn Center, Laurie Burbank of Columbia Heights, Deb Connell of Andover, and Lora Pyka of Fridley, work together at a Minnesota Credit Union. This isn't the first time they have joined forces to invest in lottery tickets, but it is their first win.The Minnesota Millionaire Raffle Game launched on October 30, 2007 with only 500,000 tickets available for purchase.

VSCPA offers free 12-month financial literacy calendar

The award-winning 2008 Financial Fitness Calendar is now available from the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). Developed in partnership with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the 12-month wall calendar is a free consumer resource as part of the VSCPA's financial literacy initiative to improve the financial health of Virginians.

On the Twelfth Day of . . . Financial Planning?

Does holiday debt, the threat of identity theft, looming college costs, and meager retirement savings have you singing the blues? Texas CPAs can help fine tune your finances with 12 days of tips, loosely based on the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Technology

What to look for in small-end tax prep software for 2007

The best selling tax preparation software packages, Intuit's TurboTax, H&R Block's TaxCut and 2nd Story Software's TaxACT are now available for 2007 both online and in CDs or downloads.

Children's investment account proposed

Mississippi State Treasurer Tate Reeves, the Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security, and Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union (ECD/HOPE) have proposed the creation of a $500 investment account for all children born in the state of Mississippi. This first-in-America program could mean billions of dollars in economic growth for the state while encouraging savings for college, home ownership, and entrepreneurship for the next generation of children.The unique initiative would establish child accounts under a five-year public-private demonstration project.
Workplace Fitness

Retirement fitness subject of Hollywood personality Ben Stein's 8-point plan

Most retirement-minded Americans might not see the connection between physical fitness and retirement planning - except for the fact that both can make them sweat! Ben Stein, spokesperson for National Retirement Planning Week 2007, November 12-17, believes that an approach similar to physical fitness can also be applied to financial fitness.
Community News

CPA firm helps hoops player rebound

With the opening of the 2008 NBA season, Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers is on top of his game. The 6'11" starting Center reached career highs last season, averaging 10.7 points and 8.9 rebounds in 82 games.
Tax

Retirement group testifies on automatic IRA legislation

On Thursday, November 8, 2007, Mark Iwry and David C. John, representing The Retirement Security Project (RSP), testified before the House Education and Labor Committee's Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions, in support of the Automatic IRA proposal to dramatically expand retirement saving. The Automatic IRA Act of 2007 (H.R. 2167), introduced in the House by Reps. Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Phil English (R-PA), makes it easy for employees not covered by a 401(k) or other employer plan to save in IRAs through automatic payroll deposit.

Pending legislation could allow bankrupts to discharge some mortgage amounts

In an effort to prevent a predicted siege of foreclosures, Representatives Brad Miller (D-NC) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) have introduced legislation that would repeal the mortgage exception in the bankruptcy code, allowing a judge to change the priority value of primary residence mortgages or alter interest rates.Called the Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act (H.R.
Tax

Homeowners with two homes could foot bill for foreclosure victims

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill designed to provide aid to struggling homeowners who are in debt over their heads and facing foreclosure on their homes. The bill provides tax relief for homeowners whose mortgage debt is forgiven. Currently, forgiven debt is considered to be taxable income.
Tax

IRS announces new national standards for food, clothing, and other items

The IRS has announced new national standards for five necessary expenses: food, housekeeping supplies, apparel and services, personal care products and services, and miscellaneous. The standards are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.The IRS Collection Financial Standards are intended for use in calculating repayment of delinquent taxes. These National Standards are effective on October 1, 2007 for purposes of federal tax administration only.

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