Buying Municipal Bonds: Do You Understand the Risk?

buying_muni_bonds_risk

One of the more popular investment strategies during tough economic times is to turn to bonds.

Bonds are considered relatively safe, when you invest in entities that are highly rated and stable.  Since you are supposed to get your principal back (barring a default), plus a small amount of interest, many people like the idea of bonds.

A type of bond that has seen an increase in popularity recently is the municipal bond.

Municipal bonds are issued by localities.  They often come with higher yields than Treasury securities and even many corporate bonds.  On top of that, there are tax advantages to investing in municipal bonds.

But before you decide to take the plunge with municipal bonds, make sure that you understand how they work, and the types of risks involved.

How Do Municipal Bonds Work?

Continue Reading

DOMA Goes Down: What Does it Mean for Same-Sex Finances?

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal recognition to same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Due to the ruling, there are a few things that same-sex couples need to consider as they plan their finances in a post-DOMA world.

First: What the Ruling Doesn’t Do

It’s important to note that the ruling doesn’t force all states to recognize same-sex marriages.  In fact, some rather thorny issues are being raised by the ruling, which essentially says the federal government has to recognize as marriage what a state sees as marriage.  So far, only 13 states plus the District of Columbia recognize same-sex unions.  Here’s a list of the states that currently allow same-sex marriage.

If you live in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized, and you are legally married there, there is no problem.

Things get a little dicey if you are married in a state that recognizes same-sex unions and you live in a state that doesn’t recognize such marriages.  If you are married in New York, where same-sex marriage is legal, but move to Utah, where your marriage isn’t recognized, what happens?

That’s something that hasn’t been worked out yet.
Continue Reading

How to Use a Prepaid Debit Card to Your Best Advantage

ATM

Prepaid debit cards are becoming increasingly common, thanks to a push to cater to the unbanked.

In recent years, banks have raised fees on checking accounts, and many consumers are fed up with it.  You might not even be safe from fees at a credit union.

My credit union added a monthly fee to its checking account products a couple of years ago.

It’s possible to avoid these fees if you can maintain a minimum balance, or deposit a certain amount of money in your account each month, but some consumers can’t realistically meet those requirements.

On top of that, the fact that some banks will deny you a checking account due to a ChexSystems report or even a credit score, makes it difficult to open a “regular” bank account.

For the unbanked, and even for other purposes, it can make sense to use prepaid debit cards.

Here are the Best Ways to Use Prepaid Debit Cards

Continue Reading

What Should You Do If You Are Audited?

what_if_audited

It’s the ultimate financial nightmare: What if you are audited?

Many of us live in FEAR of a possible IRS audit.

However, less than 1% of taxpayers are audited each year.

Some audits come because of red flags that the IRS recognizes, and others are simply the result of random chance.  In many cases, all that is needed is for you to mail in some documentation that backs up your claim of a deduction or credit.  Getting an audit letter is no reason to immediately panic.

But there is always the chance that you have to go through a more difficult tax audit.

If that happens, though, you have options:Continue Reading

The New Job Market: Temporary Jobs and Freelancers

One of the challenges facing many job-seekers is the fact that the job market has changed quite a bit in recent years.

The recession that accompanied the recent financial crisis led to a rise in temporary jobs and freelancing jobs.

However, these are no longer jobs that people do to “get by” until they find something a little more permanent.  Indications are that these are becoming the permanent jobs.

Temporary Jobs and Freelancing are the New Job Market

Staffing Jobs on the Rise

The American Staffing Association releases data from a quarterly survey about trends in the workplace.  For the third quarter of 2012, there was a year over year increase of 4.3% in staffing jobs.  The latest data represent the 11th consecutive quarter that staffing jobs have grown since 2009 and the technical end of the recession.

Temporary positions are on the rise, in part, because freelancers, temps, and adjuncts cost a lot less than full-time regular workers.
Continue Reading

How to Use the Internet to Find Your Next Job

Whether you are unemployed, or whether you just want to take your career in a new direction, one of the best tools you have at your disposal is the Internet.

You no longer need to rely only on Classifieds in the newspaper and a trip to your state’s employment services office.  And your entire fate no longer rests on your resume (although a resume is still important).

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can find your next job online — even if you plan to work in the offline world.

Using the Internet to Find a Job

Update Your Online Persona

First of all, potential employers are probably going to Google you if they are even remotely interested.  Public items that you have shared on social media are going to be “out there.”  A glimpse of some of your images on Facebook or Flickr is possible.  Tweets are searchable (even the Library of Congress is cataloging tweets).  And if you have a blog, what you write is out there for all to see.
Continue Reading

Unsexy Personal Finance: 6 Things You Need to Take Care Of

Personal finance isn’t always the exciting place that we personal finance bloggers seem to think it is.

While there’s something sexy about finding the right index fund for your Roth IRA, there are plenty of other unsexy things that you just have to do.

Unfortunately, some of the most important items related to your financial situation are often the things that are overlooked.

So, while it might be unsexy, here are 6 personal finance actions you need to take:

1. Create a Will

Thinking about death isn’t usually a lot of fun.  But it needs to be done — preferably before it happens.

What will happen to your assets if you die unexpectedly?  Who will care for your children?

These are questions that deserve serious thought, especially if you care about your family.  Consider how you would make sure your children are cared for, and how you would make sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Continue Reading

Free Newsletter to Keep you Free From Broke!Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber email marketing