Home Improvement Scams

Your home is your castle . . . and it is also probably your most valuable investment. Unfortunately, many homeowners unwittingly hire crooked contractors to improve or repair their castles, and they wind up being cheated out of money or paying for inferior work. The home improvement business is crawling with cheats. Before signing on…

credit cards debit cards

Debit Versus Credit Cards

When you are pulling out the plastic to make a purchase, will it be debit or credit? It makes sense to know how each works, and their respective advantages and disadvantages. The bottom line is that debit cards are fine for small and/or routine purchases, but credit cards, as a rule, are better for major…

Minimum Distributions Back for 2010

When retirement plans suffered big losses in 2008, Congress enacted a one year moratorium, for 2009, on the requirement that retirees over the age of 70 1/2 withdraw a certain amount from their individual retirement and 401(k) accounts. Since the distributions are subject to taxation, retirees could avoid the taxman in 2009 by not having…

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Don’t Lose Your Charitable Deduction

For you to claim a federal income tax deduction for a charitable donation valued at $250 or more, you must obtain from the recipient of the donation a “contemporaneous written acknowledgment” letter. Failure to obtain such a letter can result in a disallowance of the deduction by the IRS. The acknowledgment letter, which may be…

Financial Fraud Against the Elderly

It is a sad and sobering reality that scam artists intent on committing financial fraud or the outright stealing of money, property, or valuable information prey upon vulnerable senior citizens. The threats can take many forms, but the elderly and those watching out for them can have some measure of protection by taking a few…

New HIPAA Rule

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has adopted a new rule concerning privacy and security for health information, to take into account changes that have occurred in health care since enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Some of the key features in the 563 page final rule…

Careful Whom You Add to Accounts

Various types of bank accounts held in the name of a single individual or entity have the virtue of simplicity, and the added bonus that the accountholder does not have to wait to make decisions until after a consensus has been reached with others. But sometimes other considerations make it desirable to add someone else,…

Financially Speaking, Keep it Simple

In theory, we are all in favor of saving time, labor, and space, not to mention avoiding the stress and anxiety that can come from leading complicated and disorganized lives. In the realm of personal finance, these are all good reasons to resolve to become more simplified and organized, but saying and doing are two…