How to Make Doing Your Own Taxes Easy – TurboTax Online Review (2013 Return)

We’re in the middle of tax season and one of two major problems is about to happen to every single one of you:

  1. Either you think your taxes are simple so you file the most basic return and miss out on getting a better tax refund, or
  2. You think your taxes are so complicated you spend hundreds of dollars paying a CPA to prepare them for you.

Both situations are costing you money.

Here’s what you need to know: filing your tax return yourself doesn’t have to be complicated, doesn’t have to result in you leaving money on the table, and doesn’t have to take ten hours.

How can you get the best of both worlds?  TurboTax online tax software.

TurboTax is the nation’s best-selling, #1 rated tax software.

The company offers 100% accurate calculations, guarantees you will receive your maximum refund, and provides free audit support in the unlikely event the IRS wants to dig deeper into your tax return.

Let’s dig a little deeper ourselves to see how TurboTax works and what to expect.

TurboTax Online and Mobile App Tax Software Review

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Review of Quicken 2014 for Windows – Get Your Finances In Order and On Track

How much time do you spend each month going through receipts, bank account transactions, and credit card statements?

Staying on top of your finances is wise, but spending hours upon hours doing it makes the task seem like a waste.

Thankfully there are many great tools available to help you automate and streamline the process of staying on top of your finances.

Today we’re going to take a look at Quicken 2014 Deluxe for Windows.

How You Can Take Charge of Tracking Your Money – Quicken Deluxe 2014 for Windows Review

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Government Shutdown Ends While Healthcare.gov Woes Continue and More

The government shutdown has ended, the debt ceiling catastrophe narrowly avoided, and the can firmly kicked down the road by about three months.

Yet the woes of the Healthcare.gov website continue on.

The government has dropped over $400 million on the website and associated processes.

$400 million.

And yet a relatively small percentage of people have been able to sign up.  Those that have signed up have had their information sent to the wrong insurance company or had to have their policies manually adjusted (which eliminates the benefit of the website).

To top it off… despite having spent $400 million on the mostly non-functional website, the government is going to be sued for licensing infringement. The site uses a script that requires copyright information to be used which was subsequently removed at the code level.

Another amazing project by the federal government.

Looking to avoid burning through all your cash excessively (hopefully not $400 million!)? Yea, these reads can help you do that:

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Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Crisis, and Links

The United States federal government has been shut down since Tuesday.  Thousands of workers are furloughed, national parks and monuments are closed, and Congress is still getting paid.

What’s worse is this may not be the biggest crisis the US faces this month.

Later in October — or early November at the latest — the Treasury department will hit the “debt ceiling” and max out its credit line.  The debt ceiling is a legal limit placed on the Treasury by Congress that says the US cannot have more than X amount of debt.  That amount right now is $16.699 trillion.

Both parties have said they will have no part in a United States default on debt due to not raising the debt ceiling, so that’s encouraging.  Yet each day that rolls forward means we are getting closer and closer to not being able to make our minimum payments on all of our obligations.  If we default expect widespread chaos in financial markets, Treasury bill interest rates, and the value of the dollar.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Maxing out your credit cards, too? Can’t seem to control how much you spend? Here are some articles to help you out:

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iPhone 5S Sells Out While Blackberry Posts a $1 Billion Loss and Links

What a contrast.

Apple’s hyped iPhone 5S sold out within 24 hours of being launched and won’t be available until October at the earliest. (Supply chain problems, anyone?)

Meanwhile Blackberry, the former smartphone heavyweight, posted a $1 billion loss and announced it will be cutting 40% of its global workforce.

Will Apple be able to avoid the similar fate?  Despite selling out the iPhone 5S many critics have been unimpressed with Apple’s ability to truly innovate the iPhone.  Perhaps that is natural as there is only so much you can do with a smartphone, but where will the next blockbuster product come from?

Don’t sit back on your previous success like Blackberry did. You need to constantly push forward with your finances. Here are some good reads to encourage you to do just that:

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My Employer Offers Life Insurance, Is That Enough For Me?

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Life insurance is one of the most critical pieces of financial insurance you can buy.

No amount of money will bring you back from an untimely death, but if your family is reliant on your income then going without it puts them at grave risk if you suddenly pass away.

The best option for most people is to buy a term life insurance policy for a minimum of 5 years worth of your annual income; 10 years or more is preferred.

But sometimes those polices can seem out of reach or simply inconvenient to get.

I’m not saying inconvenience is a legitimate excuse (you can buy a policy online and they will send a nurse to your home to the medical exam!), but it is one nonetheless.  Sometimes cost keeps us from buying the life insurance policy we really need, too.

Many people instead opt for their employer’s life insurance.

Using that life insurance is generally easier and more affordable because you are part of a group plan.  The cost can be taken straight out of your check so you never feel the impact of the insurance on your budget.  Your employer may even pay for your coverage, or at least part of it.

However, relying solely on your employer’s life insurance is fraught with danger.

Why Your Employer’s Life Insurance Isn’t Enough

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Apple Hype Machine Preps for September 10th Launch of iPhone 5S and Links

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The Apple Hype Machine has been running like a well-oiled machine for the past few weeks.

Leaked photos and videos.  Sneak peaks at new refinements to iOS and the iPhone.  Hints at new iPads.

Apple is running into a problem, however.

The prices of smartphones — good smartphones — keeps dropping.  The Google/Motorola team wants to push phone prices down.  There is a discussion that Amazon might give away their future smartphone to get users plugged in to the Amazon ecosystem.

Yet Apple remains stalwart in charging $649 to $849 for off-contract iPhones depending on the amount of memory provided.  That’s why Apple is all announcing something called the iPhone 5C.  It’s a — gasp – plastic version of the iPhone.  Plastic hasn’t been used since the iPhone 3/3G, and it is one of the things that Apple fans have made fun of Samsung for forever.

But Apple needs to reach the lower end of the market to continue to grow, and plastic is cheaper than the shiny metal used in the premium iPhone devices.  Will users bite or will they prefer to get a used premium iPhone on eBay or other marketplaces?

Are you planning to spend hundreds of dollars on a new phone this month? Is that part of your financial plan? These articles will help guide you on your plan:

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