H&R Block offers free tax advice

H&R Block H&R Block is holding “Ask a Tax Advisor” sessions in honor of National Tax Advice Day 2008. Through January 31, you can have a free session, by email or phone, with an H&R Block tax professional. You’ll be working with someone with more than 8 years of experience and 250 hours of training. This is a great deal and you can get any tax questions answered.

Their website also has helpful calculators and tips.

Click here to get free tax advice with H&R Block. And remember, with H&R Block, you’ve got people.

Before investing in any property, appropriate home work is essential on real estate investing. Not everyone is apt for this. This is why people should learn with reading and interpreting free insurance quotes and work about their home insurance before getting stuck into complicated mortgages matters. Generating mortgage leads should not be their priority.

Get ready for tax season

The new year brings tax season and not all students have to file a return, but some do. If you’re not sure whether you’re included in those who do, you can visit the IRS site to find out. Tax season brings unhappy thoughts into most minds, but when you’re a student, it can be a good thing. Most students aren’t required to pay taxes so anything that was withheld will be refunded to you. Unless you claim exempt on your W2 form at work, taxes are withheld from your paycheck. Some people even fill it out so the IRS takes out more than they should so they can get a bigger refund (this is what I do – I treat it as a savings account because I find it’s hard for me to do it on my own).

Filing isn’t tricky either. Services like TurboTax make things so much easier. If you’ve paid interest on any student loans, you can claim up to $2,500 as a deduction. While this doesn’t help students who don’t have to pay any taxes (like myself), it is helpful for those who do and for those who are out of college.

Preparing your return

  • TurboTax, which is made by powerful software company, Intuit, is the leading tax preparation software. The basic edition is $20, but there’s also a free online edition for 1040EZ filers (most common, unless you’re utilizing deductions, you’ll most likely fall under this category).
  • IRS eFile – The IRS allows you to prepare and file your tax return electronically.
  • H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, etc. – These tax preparation companies are another alternative to filing for yourself, but if you’re a student, your return isn’t going to be complicated and these places aren’t cheap. Not a good idea for most people.

Filing

  • Mail – you mail it off, it’s free, but it can take up to six weeks for your refund
  • TurboTax efile with direct deposit – $14.95, can get your refund in 9 days
  • IRS FreeFile – if you qualify for FreeFile (made $54,000 or less in 2007), you can file your return electronically with the IRS for free. You can set up direct deposit and get your return in 10 days.

Websites to help you out

One should double check printing of his credit card application before finally submitting it because it may lead to inaccurate credit report. This in turn will unintentionally influence the mortgage leads. Not only will this disrupt your debt management plan, but have a negative impact on your online banking as well.

10 Money saving tips for the new year

1. Save up before you spend your money on that new XBox 360…don’t put it on a credit card.

2. Join a credit union or find a bank that offers free student checking accounts

3. Prepare your FAFSA and apply for financial aid with your school

4. Apply for scholarships

5. Don’t buy textbooks unless absolutely necessary, and if you do, be smart about it

6. Learn how to eat on a college student’s budget

7. Make a budget and track your spending

8. Don’t get a credit card unless you can use it responsibly (if you do, don’t apply for more than two because multiple inquiries can hurt your score)

9. Join Netflix instead of renting movies, better yet, watch them online for free (or much cheaper). Even better, rent them at your local library. (Thanks TipDiva)

10. Utilize your school’s gym, computer lab, health clinic and other resources. You already pay for them.

For refinance home mortgage, it is important that you bank thinks your credit card application worthy of it. With the increasing frequency of debt consolidation loans, it is hard to trust one with a creditcard. Also, the bank takes any kind of investment in good regard.

Time to sell those textbooks

Semesters are coming to a close and it’s time to sell the textbooks you’ll no longer need. Some of them you never needed in the first place. I’ve been researching and found a few different websites that are best shots for my books. The offers from these websites were the highest, but it really takes time and effort to find where you’ll get the most money back.

TextbookX

 

eCampus.com

 

Valore Books

If the prices given at the above websites aren’t high enough for you, or they don’t want your book, try eBay or, go through the Google search results for sell college textbooks.

Can you make money from surveys?

That College Kid is a hobby website. It’s not my only, but it is currently my favorite. The purpose of this website is NOT to make money. It’s about the content, the readers and myself. That’s why there’s not ads everywhere. However, I do profit a little. I do have the Text Link Ads InLinks plugin installed on this site, which I think has three or four links throughout the website. I follow a few money-making blogs and know of the different ad systems. I’ve tried sponsored posts before and found one or two per month (between my different sites) is plenty of money for me.

A friend recommend a website called Cash Crate, which I signed up for today. You get paid to complete offers and surveys. Most give you about $1, but there are some (that require a credit card) that pay $10-15. Those offers are the free trials for services like Stamps.com, Netflix and eFax. If you’re a careful person and you can keep track of when the free trial will end and cancel, you won’t be charged for anything. It’s been two days and I’ve made $20 with another $30 pending approval (the websites I completed offers with send notice back to Cash Crate). I’m actually pretty impressed with this service and have been talking to other members who’ve been successfully paid and enjoy the website. If you’re looking for an easy way to make money without a website, Cash Crate is a great place to start.

I’m on the lookout for other survey/offer-completing sites that are similar to Cash Crate and don’t require ridiculous things to get paid. I’ll keep everyone updated.

Usually loans in adult life begin with student loan consolidation. Later there are mortgages, and huge bills on credit cards. The usual debt management solution one comes up with is getting even more loans. Of course, none of this is ever done after going through an insurance quote.

Mint – Refreshing money management

Mint.com is a new online budgeting tool. You input your bank and credit card logins for their websites and it gathers the data and pulls all of your financial information together. It simplifies everything because it’s all in one place. You don’t have to login to six different websites to pull up your balances. They also have an alert system to notify you when your balances become low so you don’t overdraft.

I tried it out and was actually very impressed. If you’re not sure how to budget or don’t want to bother, Mint is a great way to keep track of your money. I personally found it a little too simple for me. I have an exact image of the way I want my budget to be and I’ve just had to keep using a spreadsheet do so.

I really like how it breaks down spending and shows trends. It doesn’t always recognize certain charges, but for the most part, it puts them in the right categories. It compares cash and debt, which is nice since apparently it thinks I have more cash than debt (it doesn’t know my poor “cash” is really all debt in student loans.) It does know, however, that my most frequent stop is at HEB (grocery store).

The feature that shows ways you can save money by switching accounts is nice, but doesn’t really apply to a college student with little credit. Mint thinks I could save $424 by switching checking accounts and credit cards, but what it doesn’t know is that I can’t just get another credit card because mine has too high of an interest rate.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to a website like this, the most important being that they have your bank information. As a paranoid person, I just don’t like giving other people my passwords to anything, much less my bank accounts. What with all the security leaks recently, I’m even more paranoid. It doesn’t take much to hack a website and steal all of this information. Other than that, sometimes it seems too simple for me. I have a pretty complicated plan for my budget and have yet to find a program that does what I want.

Shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday Ads Black Friday is notorious (in America) for great shopping deals and extreme crowds. The day after Thanksgiving stores stay open all night or open at midnight and millions of people actually go shopping at those odd hours just for the low prices. I hate shopping in crowds and used to avoid Black Friday, Sundays, and Tax-Free Weekends like the plague. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might just want to venture out to see what kind of deals you can get.

BlackFriday.info posts leaked ads for big retailers in the U.S., including Target and Best Buy. After browsing through the incredible list of ads, I’ve decided I’m going to hit up Big Lots! and Office Depot, my two favorite stores. If I go to my mom’s for Thanksgiving, I’m going to go to Ikea.There’s also has a list of great deals, including a nice leather chair from Office Max for only $80.

The website is affiliated with Keep Cash, which is another great coupon resource.

Repaying student loans

I’m still four years away from having to repay my student loans, but I know I should start thinking about it now. Get Rich Slowly posted a great guide to repay student loans.

If you have federal loans, your options are much simpler. The interest rate is lower, so it’s usually best to just pay them as scheduled. Private loans are a whole different ball park and very confusing because terms usually vary from provider to provider, while government-backed loans are stuck with the federal terms given, no matter who your lender is.

One option is consolidation, which is not the best option unless you seriously can’t afford the monthly payments. Consolidation leads to a higher interest rate because you’re extending the life of the loan and there are more complications with private loans. Depending on your financial plan, consolidation can be a good or a bad option.

There are also options for loan forgiveness if you are going to be joining the Peace Corps or the military (or other programs that are listed on the FinAid website). I personally don’t qualify for any of this, so I hope I’ll get a high-paying job with my really expensive fancy degree so I can pay my loans off quickly.

Also, you can’t simply just declare bankruptcy anymore and be done with your loans. Certain federal loans will go away, but not private loans. The government decided on this a few years ago because too many students were coming out of college and declaring bankruptcy right off the bat. There are certain circumstances surrounding the issue, which are covered in more detail here.

The FinAid website also has a Loan Calculator that just made me feel very sad about the amount of interest I’m going to pay just on my freshman Stafford loan. Bring on the next three years worth of borrowed money.

7 ways to save on shopping

We’re all suckers for stuff, whether it’s fancy shoes or video games. When you’re broke, it’s hard to just curb that desire, even though you know you should. I have seven ways to shop smart so you can afford to spoil yourself sometimes.

1. Dealio is your source for the best deals on anything, anywhere. It’s a community that allows you to search for items to find the best deal, whether it’s in a store or on Ebay. They also have coupons for weapons for websites like overstock.com, which is already cheaper than buying retail, which means you save more.

2. Shop around. I can’t stress this enough. Just because you finally found whatever you’re looking for doesn’t guarantee a good price. Sometimes waiting means you find a better deal, or realizing that you don’t actually need the item.

3. Pro Bargain Hunter is a blog full of bargain news, tips and resources. They offer an Amazon discount table, as well as other free tools to find great prices.

4. Retail Me Not is a great website, one of my favorites for bargain hunting. It is a collaborative website offering coupons for thousands of websites. I’ve saved nearly $70 through Amazon with their coupons when I was shopping for textbooks.

5. Use Google Products to help compare between their giant list of stores to find the best price, and then compare with Amazon, Ebay and Craigslist.

6. Always try Craigslist. If you can find it locally, it cuts out the shipping cost.

7. Last but not least, FatWallet.

Finally opened an ING savings account

Last night I opened up an ING Orange Savings Account. It’s about time, too, because this entire semester’s financial aid has been sitting in my Bank of America checking account, earning me nothing. I finally decided to make the switch because Bank of America holds onto my money for unknown amounts of time and doesn’t tell me why or when I will get it.

I had already switched my October money over to USAA because Don finally had his debit card for that account and I got my free checks.

The only reason I’m actually going to keep my Bank of America accounts open is because I have an automatic payment for my car that I haven’t gotten around to switching. I didn’t want to sign up for EFT in the first place, but the credit union that’s financing my car required it.

My favorite thing about USAA is the Deposit@Home feature. I simply scan a check and it gets deposited and is available for spending the next day. No having to deal with tellers and then not seeing the $200 cash I put in for three days (unless it’s over a weekend and then it’s more like five days.)

I’m still waiting for ING to verify that my USAA account is mine so I can deposit the rest of the money and start earning interest. It’s 4.3% APY, which is fairly high for an online savings account. I also haven’t heard any negative comments about ING, unlike WaMu and Capital One.

Anyone have any experience with ING? I wanted to get an Electric Orange checking account, but my credit isn’t good enough.

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