Spending Less is NOT the Same as Saving Money

As the holiday shopping season gets underway, there is giddy talk of how much money shoppers are saving this year.

Unfortunately, this is a mindset that is rather common among consumers.  We have this idea that we are “saving” money when we get a good deal.

The reality, though, is that you aren’t actually saving money.

You are just spending less.

Are You REALLY Saving Money?

The words we use have a big impact on our behaviors.
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New Taxes Coming for a New Year

Each year, the tax laws change.  New taxes are levied, and some taxes are cut.

For 2013, you are likely to see some new taxes as old tax cuts expire and as new taxes are imposed.  The new year is likely to bring with it new impacts on your budget.

While there is no saying, for sure, what will happen (what with budget talks underway, and negotiations attempting to avoid the fiscal cliff), here’s what’s possible so far:

New Taxes You Can and Will See Next Year

Payroll Taxes Going Up

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What is Glass-Steagall and Why Do WE See it in the News?

One of the subjects that is often covered in the financial news, especially as talking heads try to figure out what can be done to avoid another financial crisis, is the Glass-Steagall Act.

Many people don’t exactly understand why this old law — parts of which were repealed in 1999 — is still a topic of conversation, and why it matter so much.

Brief Overview of the Glass-Steagall Act

Passed during the Great Depression, the Glass-Steagall Act is also called the Banking Act of 1933.

Glass-Steagall was designed to prevent some of the problems that caused the Great Depression, mainly the difficulties caused by the widespread failure of banks.  The Banking Act of 1933 included the creation of the FDIC and it also expanded the role of the Federal Reserve.

However, the item that is most emphasized about the Glass-Steagall Act, particularly in a post-2008 world, is the prohibition of commercial banks from participating in investing.

Part of the problem ahead of the Great Depression was that Main Street banks began underwriting corporate stocks, and even floated bond issues.  With all of these Main Street banks exposed to Wall Street, the crash of 1929 was hugely devastating.

The idea of Glass-Steagall was that banks separate themselves out by the type of banking they did.
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Will a Late Credit Card Payment Affect My Credit Score?

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The most important aspect of your credit score is your payment history.

As a result, a late payment can have a profound impact on your credit history.

That late payment is recorded on your credit report, and the information in your credit report in turn influences your credit score.  And, since your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, a late payment can make a big difference.

But how late does a credit card payment have to be in order to be considered late?  Will your credit score really be dinged if you are one day late?

The answer depends on your own behaviors, as well as the policy followed by the creditor in question.

When is a Payment Late?

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How the IRS Decides Whether You Have a Business or a Hobby

As the end of the year approaches, and tax season rears its head, it’s important to start figuring out what deductions and credits you are eligible for.

Many consumers are excited to learn that they can take deductions for hobbies as well as for businesses.

However, what is allowed when it comes to these tax deductions depends a great deal on whether the IRS thinks you have a legitimate business, or whether what you are doing is really a hobby.

Tax Deductions: Business vs. Hobby

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Would You Sell Yourself to Pay for College (or Anything Else)?

During my freshman year in college, while visiting another college campus, I grabbed one of the school newspapers.  While looking through the pages, I noticed an ad, asking for women to allow their eggs to be harvested.

Women of average height, in good health, and possessing a good GPA were encouraged to basically sell their eggs.  Not only would the medical procedure be covered, but there was also a stipend involved.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine points out that egg donors can receive between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on what is involved.

I was briefly tempted to participate.

I met the requirements listed in the ad.  I cut out the ad and took it back to my own school.  Then I did the research on what donating entails.  There are risks involved with becoming an egg donor, from health issues, to medical screening, to injections.

I decided that, between the scholarship and the student loans, not to mention the part-time job, I would be just fine.

But that experience has stuck with me, and I know that many others find that they can do reasonably well if they are willing to sell a little bit of themselves to help pay for college (and other things).

What Can You Sell of Yourself to Pay for College?

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What Are REITs? – Earn Dividends While Investing in Real Estate

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One of the realities that I recognize in my life is that I am really not that interested in being a landlord.

However, the idea of having real estate in my portfolio is one that is of interest to me.

So, how do I go about adding real estate to my investment holdings without becoming a landlord, or needing huge amounts of capital to buy property?

You can use a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to help you out.

What are REITs?

Real Estate Investment Trusts are collections of investments related to real estate.

They have a different structure than ETFs, but they are similar in that you can trade them on an exchange.  REITs are considered equities, even though they represent a collection of holdings related to real estate.  In addition to exchange-traded REITs, there are also private REITs and non-traded REITs.

There are a number of REITs to choose from, each with its own way of doing business.
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