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Selection Sunday and Links

Today is Selection Sunday and college basketball teams around the country are anxiously waiting to learn their fates.

Will it be that coveted last spot in the NCAA tournament?  Or relegated to the NIT?  (Sure, playing in any tournament is nice, but the NIT pales in comparison to the real deal.)

If you are like me and your team is sitting in the first four out list (as of time of this writing) you see a lot of similarity to financial issues.  My team, the University of Tennessee, is on the outside looking in.  They lost in their conference tournament when a win would have likely locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Instead they lost, but even with a loss they aren’t completely out of the running.  They are just reliant on a bunch of other teams losing in order to propel them into one of those last few spots in the tournament.

Don’t we often run our finances this way?

We miss doing things right and do just enough.  We cut corners, and suddenly find ourselves reliant on someone or something else to save us.  That might be a relative lending us money or just hoping that our employer continues to employ us.

Don’t live your financial life like a NCAA basketball bubble team. Take control of your finances with some of these great reads:

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TurboTax Online Federal Giveaway

The tax filing due date is quickly approaching!  Have you done your taxes yet?

If you haven’t then I’m here to help.


TurboTax - Choose Easy
The kind folks at Intuit (TurboTax’s parent company) have given me a promotional code for one TurboTax Online Federal Filing product, up to a $100 value.  I’d like to pass that on to a loyal Free From Broke reader.

When I first started doing my taxes I did them myself by hand.  It wasn’t so difficult since there wasn’t a lot going on with my income but it was time consuming nonetheless.

Then I started using TurboTax.  It was immediately so much easier to get my taxes done!  Take a look at our TurboTax Online review for more information on the different TurboTax products.

TurboTax Online Giveaway

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What Are Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) and How Do They Affect Your Retirement?

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It seems like when you get to retirement you should be able to take it easy.

Your money is in a tax-advantaged account, and you can take out money as you need.  No reason to fuss about it.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

While you might think that you can put off withdrawing money from your tax-advantaged account if you have income from other sources, this isn’t true if your account is subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs).

What are RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions)?

The RMD is a required amount that you are forced to take from certain tax-advantaged retirement accounts — even if you don’t need the money.

If you don’t take your RMD when you are supposed to, you can be charged penalties that can reduce the value of your retirement account.

RMDs are not required for Roth IRAs.  However, other retirement accounts come with RMDs.  This means your Traditional IRA, and other non-Roth IRAs are subject to RMDs.  Additionally, all 401(k) and 403(b) accounts are subject to RMDs.
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What is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and How Does it Affect Your Taxes

We toss different terms around to describe our incomes, one of which is adjusted gross income, but what exactly is adjusted gross income (AGI), and is it an accurate way to describe what we make?

What is Adjusted Gross Income?

In its simplest form, adjusted gross income, or “AGI”, is the broadest measure of income from all sources, but it’s also reduced by certain expenses. (This is where the term “adjusted” figures into AGI.)

Because the income reduced, and because certain income isn’t taxable, it’s not accurate to say that AGI describes total income in any way.

AGI isn’t really a general description of income so much as it’s a term specific to income taxes.

It’s your income as the Internal Revenue Service sees it and wants us to report it.  It is everything that is reported on page one of IRS Form 1040.

But even if it isn’t an objective measure of income, it still has major implications, at least as it relates to income taxes.

AGI summarizes all of your income sources

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What Are Dividend Aristocrats and What You Need to Know About Them

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If you have been looking at dividend investing as an income generating option you have probably run across the term “dividend aristocrat“.

The stocks carry a unique title, but often it is not explained as to what exactly a dividend aristocrat is.

Should this be a type of stock that a dividend investor should target? Or do you want to avoid Dividend Aristocrats?

What is a Dividend Aristocrat Stock?

What are dividend aristocrat stocks?

A dividend aristocrat stock is a stock that has raised its dividend to shareholders for a minimum of 25 years straight.  There are a limited number of stocks that make this achievement over a long period of time.

To consistently raise your dividend to investors every year for decades is a solid commitment to returning value to your shareholders.

Why Invest in Dividend Aristocrats?

It is great to get higher dividends as an investor, but is that the only reason to invest in these special stocks?
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7 Ways to Find More Time and Increase Your Productivity

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Women juggle multiple responsibilities, especially if they are moms. 

There are work responsibilities, household responsibilities, and family and children responsibilities.  Don’t forget to set aside some time to care for yourself by preparing healthy food and finding time to exercise.

The work at home mom must become an expert at juggling because she’ll constantly have to switch between childcare tasks and completing her work.  I should know because I’ve been a work at home mom now for two years.

In the beginning, juggling my childcare responsibilities with work responsibilities was fairly easy.  My two younger children took fairly long afternoon naps, and my workload was not that heavy as I was just starting my business.  I could get all my work done during nap time and in the evenings after the kids were asleep, and I still had time to relax.

Fast forward two years, and most days my kids don’t nap.  If they do, it isn’t longer than 40 minutes.  Meanwhile, my workload has increased.  My schedule had to change so I could find more time.

If this sounds familiar, let me share some of the ways I’ve found more time in my day and increased productivity:

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How Compound Interest Can Work Against You

We hear a lot about compound interest, and how it can help you build your retirement.

Indeed, the power of compound interest is the subject of many articles on how to build wealth over time.

Even though compound interest is powerful, it’s not just a force for good.  In fact, compound interest, like so much in the world of finances, is itself neither good nor bad.  It’s how you use it that matters.

Understanding how compound interest works is essential.

A quote, commonly attributed to Albert Einstein (although it hasn’t been completely substantiated), points out that, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it earns it, and he who doesn’t pays it.”

Compound interest can work against you just as well as it can work for you.

The key is to earn it — and not pay it.  Debt is the way that you pay compound interest, and it works against you.

Simple Interest vs. Compound Interest

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