Money Management Articles
'Tis the season for charitable contributions
Along with an avalanche of catalogues and holiday greetings from family
and friends, you may also find your mailbox inundated with donation
requests from charitable organizations.
How can you cut next year's taxes?
Taxes may be the last thing you want to think about at the holidays, but
the end of the year is a great time to take some smart steps that can
help you minimize your future tax outlays. The Minnesota Society of
Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) provides these ideas for keeping
more money in your pocket.
Five questions to ask your CPA before the end of the year
Your to-do list is probably pretty full at this time of year. While the
thought of adding one more task may feel overwhelming, it's one that can
help put your mind at ease this New Year's Eve: Talk to your CPA.
Don't make these five online shopping mistakes
Online spending in the United States is expected to hit $370 billion by
2017, an increase from $262 billion in 2013, according to Forrester Research. Online shopping can be a great convenience, but CPAs advise
that there are steps you should take to ensure a safe and satisfying
Take control of holiday spending!
What are your holiday shopping plans this year? American retail holiday
spending totaled about $580 billion in 2012, according to the National
Retail Foundation, up 3 percent from the previous year. This is clearly a
time of year when people dig deep into their pockets to pay for holiday
gifts and celebrations, but that doesn't have to put a dent in your
budget. The Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA) offers advice on how to
make smart spending plans.
Deciphering the health insurance requirements
You can't put it off any longer: Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable
Care Act (ACA) requires all Americans to maintain a minimum level of
health coverage or face a tax penalty. While some people are flocking to
www.healthcare.gov to research and purchase their insurance, others are
unsure how to proceed.
Pump up your credit score!
Are you looking for a surefire solution that will lower the interest you
pay on your mortgage, car loans, credit card accounts and other debt?
If so, there's one easy answer: Raise your credit score. The Minnesota
Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) offers the lowdown on
why your credit score is important and how it can affect your financial
Questions to ask before you volunteer
Americans love to volunteer their time to a worthy cause. Data from the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 26.5 percent of Americans,
about 64.5 million people, volunteered at least once last year.
Should you buy or lease your next car?
If you’re thinking of replacing your car, you may also be wondering if
you should lease or buy the replacement vehicle. Leasing a vehicle used
to be commonplace only for businesses because of the tax write-off. But
now with deals like zero money down, low monthly payments or
zero-percent interest, leasing has become a popular option for the
Going back to work after retirement: How Social Security, taxes and health care may be affected
Retirement isn't what it used to be. Instead of leaving the
workforce at age 65 and hitting the golf course every day, many retirees
are going back to work. According to a recent Longevity Alliance and
Harris Interactive poll, 43 percent of surveyed retirees seriously
considered re-entering the workforce shortly after they had left their
Taking the bite out of pet care costs
Spending on pets hit an all-time high last year, topping $53 billion,
according to the American Pet Products Association. The highest growth
came in pet services -- such as grooming, boarding, and pet sitting --
and supplies and over-the-counter medications also saw a sharp rise.
Tax tips for small-business owners
There are 23 million small businesses in America, according to the U.S.
Small Business Administration. Although each business is unique, you can
be sure that they have a common desire to minimize their taxes and make
the most of the deductions for which they qualify. The Minnesota
Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) offers these tips on how
to achieve those goals.
Protecting seniors from fraud: Tips for safeguarding identity and finances
Every September, we honor our grandparents with National Grandparents
Day. As this holiday approaches, now is the perfect time to show your
loved ones how much you care by helping them learn to protect themselves
from becoming victims of fraud.
College budgeting 101: How to make sure spending money lasts through the school year
College students are heading back to campus, their bank accounts
replenished with summer job money and possibly student loan funds. Will
it be enough to last all year? There are ways to improve the odds.
Refinancing your home: What you should know before you make your move
The United States housing market is perking up -- so, too, are mortgage
rates. As home values rebound, homeowners are looking at options for
refinancing their existing mortgages.
Financial planning for same-sex couples after the DOMA decision
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act
unconstitutional, a decision that has sweeping financial implications
for same-sex couples who were married in states that recognize same-sex
Don't be swamped by student loan debt!
As students prepare to head back to the books, college planning is on the minds of many families.
Should you rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel?
Are you planning a trip in the coming months? If so, you're among the 59
percent of Americans who expect to go on a summer vacation, according
to an American Express survey.
How much is technology costing you?
How much do you spend on technology each month? Technology, and mobile
devices in particular, can definitely make your life easier, but they
also add to your regular expenses. The Minnesota Society of CPAs has
insights about technology spending that can help you keep your expenses
The rising cost of day care: Manage your costs, maximize your deductions
The cost of child care in the U.S. has climbed dramatically during the
past three decades. Unfortunately, wages aren't keeping pace with the
skyrocketing increases, and working parents are struggling to keep up.
Planning a budget-friendly vacation: Summer fun without breaking the bank
Vacations create fun, lasting memories for families, but they can
also be a significant expenditure. Plan ahead, shop around and budget
carefully, and you'll be ready to relax and enjoy your trip.
Tax tips for newlyweds
June is traditionally a time when couples tie the knot and, as is the
case with so many major milestones in life, all newlyweds should be
aware of the tax considerations associated with marriage. If you or a
loved one is planning nuptials, the Minnesota Society of CPAs offers
this advice on addressing the tax concerns.
Using an allowance to teach financial lessons
On average, children spend about six hours a week on household duties. No matter what the rules are in their house, the Minnesota Society of CPAs advises parents that there are steps they can take to ensure that their kids are learning some financial lessons when they get their allowance.
Giving the gift of financial planning: A lifetime of financial knowledge wrapped up with a bow
June means longer days, the start of summer and invitations to weddings,
graduation parties and maybe a baby shower or two. Stuck for ideas on
what to give the newlyweds, graduates or new parents? This year,
consider something nontraditional that will last a lifetime and never go
out of style: a visit with a financial planner.
Growing your small business: You don't have to leave big business to the big guys
Small businesses are the backbone of America's economy. According to the
U.S. Small Business Administration, the nation's 23 million small
businesses account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales and 64 percent of
all net new jobs. But many successful small businesses make the leap and
become big businesses.
Surviving an IRS audit: What to expect and do when Uncle Sam comes calling
Statistics from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
show last year that 1.48 million taxpayers were invited to spend a
little extra quality time with the IRS because they underwent an
Retaining personal financial records: What do you need to keep and for how long?
Does looking at overflowing filing cabinets of bank statements and boxes
of old check stubs make you want to start a bonfire in your backyard?
Before you grab the lighter fluid and matches, make sure you know what
you can torch and what you need to keep.
Five tips for living peacefully with 'boomerang kids'
Due to the recent recession and continuing economic weakness, more and
more adult children are still living with their parents or have moved
back in with them.
Choosing a financial services provider
April is Financial Literacy Month, so it’s the perfect time to evaluate
your personal financial plan and identify what areas of your strategy
are doing well and what areas may need some change. Creating a personal
financial plan is an important part of developing and maintaining your
long-term financial security.
Financial literacy education at work
The economy may be showing signs of improvement, but research shows
employees are still not confident about their own financial situations.
Safeguarding your tax records
There are many reasons to be sure that your tax and other financial
records are safe and available when you need them. At this time of year,
as you prepare and file your tax return, it’s important to have easy
access to receipts, the tax forms you receive from employers and other
Seven smart tips for last-minute filers
In the wake of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations, the Internal Revenue
Service delayed the start of tax filing season until Jan. 30 this year.
Some taxpayers faced even further delays in filing, including those who
claimed residential energy credits or whose returns involved property
depreciation or general business credits.
What to do when friends or family ask for money
While it’s natural to want to help when someone needs financial assistance, it’s important to be careful. Money can drive a wedge into friendships and family relationships. And there are tax-related considerations. The Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) offers these steps to take before you commit to lending money, not only to ensure everyone understands the details of the loan, but also to reduce the likelihood of breaking a tax law.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act: What it means to your wallet
President Obama signed what is now the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) into law on Jan. 2, 2013, preserving most of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and extending many other lapsed provisions. According to the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA), the ATRA contains provisions that impact nearly every taxpayer, not just the high earners. Don’t miss out on some of these now-permanent deductions that could help lower your tax liability.
Getting organized for tax season
Here are some simple steps you can take now to get your tax documents organized so you’re not in panic mode this April. Your income, deductions and expenses, and investment documents all have a home in this easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain filing system.
Need help sticking to your financial New Year's resolutions?
A recent survey by Harris Interactive found that the top financial goals for 2013 are paying down or eliminating credit card debt, increasing emergency savings or planning for retirement, yet over the past five years 43 percent have failed to achieve these goals. If this sounds familiar, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) offers these practical tips for getting your financial house in order.
Avoid scams when a disaster strikes
After a disaster, many people come forward to help the victims. Unfortunately, however, disasters can also dredge up con artists who seek to exploit the situation using illegal scams. To help you avoid being conned should a disaster strike, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) makes these recommendations.
All about audits
Few words in the English language set off alarm bells like the word “audit.” The good news is there are ways to reduce the likelihood the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will tag you for an audit. But if a letter from the IRS does appear in your mailbox, don’t panic says the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA).
Do you need a CPA?
Most of the time, filing your taxes isn’t a complicated process, but there are times when you may want to call in the cavalry to ensure that you meet all of your federal, state and local tax obligations without giving away too much, according to the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA). A certified public accountant (CPA) can help.
Dealing with tax filing and payment problems
Tax season is just around the corner. Few people look forward to it, but those concerned they may owe taxes approach this time of year with particular apprehension. The Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) assures the public that there are options for those who need more time to file their returns or who are having trouble paying what they owe.
Preparing your financial life in case of disaster
Are you prepared to keep your financial life on an even keel in the event of an emergency? The occurrence of Hurricane Sandy and other recent disasters underscores the importance of planning ahead.
Smart tips on charitable giving
This is the season of goodwill to all, a time when people take time to think of others. In addition to giving gifts and planning holiday get-togethers, that means many people are also dipping into their pockets to make donations to worthy charities. While that’s a good impulse, it’s important to do your charitable giving wisely. The Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA) provides the following advice on ways to make your money the most productive.
Budgeting for the holidays: Smart spending for the season
The countdown to the holiday season has officially begun with decorations on store shelves and gift catalogs filling mailboxes. A recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association shows that individual consumers plan to spend $1,634 overall this holiday, up 11 percent from last year. Unfortunately, much of that spending will be done on credit cards. That may make consumers feel gloomy when they get their bills in January.
Life after bankruptcy - Getting your credit and finances back on track
More than 600,000 new bankruptcy cases were filed in the first half of 2012. If you were one of them, it may feel like your financial future is doomed. Not so, says the Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA). While you will face challenges post-bankruptcy, you can chart a new financial course with a commitment to educating yourself, becoming more disciplined with your money and credit, and learning some valuable lessons.
Do-it-yourself or hire a contractor? Get your home improvement project done right
It’s always tempting to attempt home repair or improvement projects yourself in an effort to save money. But you need to know what kinds of projects you can handle safely and when it’s time to call in the pros, says the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA). Otherwise, you may end up spending even more money hiring someone to undo inadvertent damage.
Five financial tips for single people
Almost half of all adult Americans—or nearly 100 million people—either have never been married or are divorced or widowed. Many of these people incorrectly decide that financial planning is something that only married people do, but it’s always advisable to make sound financial decisions that will pay off now and in the future. The Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA) offers these tips.
How to talk to your aging parents about money
It’s important for adult children to know about and understand their parents’ finances. From knowing if your parents have enough money to last through their retirement, to understanding their wishes should they become incapacitated, to protecting them from unscrupulous people who prey on the elderly, your involvement may be vitally important. This information will help you get started.
Five mistakes people make in choosing a tax preparer
These are a few of the many reasons it’s so important to choose tax preparers who really know their stuff. The Minnesota Society of CPAs points out common mistakes people make in making this choice and offers helpful solutions
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