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Bitcoin Bonanza and Links

The alternative, virtual, and unregulated currency Bitcoin experienced quite the bonanza over the last few weeks. 

The price skyrocketed to over $200 per coin, then plummeted 50%, then rebounded a bit.  The fledgling new online currency has made millionaires from early adopters but is still struggling to go mainstream.

I honestly don’t know what to think of Bitcoin.

There are only a certain number of coins that can ever exist, you have to run complex equations on a computer to “mine” a coin (or purchase them from an exchange), and the coins are stored on your computer.  However, real people are using them for real transactions instead of US dollars.

As great as it would be to buy a bunch of coins at $3 per coin in the early stages and watch it skyrocket to $200… I can’t imagine a sustainable currency fluctuating that much.  Merchants can accept Bitcoins for payment, but how can you calculate how many coins to charge if the price is constantly changing?  That $200 transaction for one coin just became a $120 transaction when the price plummets.

Instead of worrying about alternative currencies to get rich, here are some more traditional methods:

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When is Bankruptcy a Good Option?

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1,376,006.

That’s the number of bankruptcy filings in the United States (according to US Courts) for the 12 month period that ended March 31, 2012 – the most recent 12 month period for which statistics are available.

Obviously, if you are filing for bankruptcy you have plenty of company.

But when is bankruptcy a good option?

Bankruptcy has become so common, that is no longer carries the stigma it once did.  In there are folks out there that think ‘YOLO, I’ll just declare bankruptcy if it gets bad.’   That doesn’t mean you should file for bankruptcy or that it doesn’t come with risks.

The Cost of Bankruptcy

When I talk about the cost of bankruptcy, I’m not talking about attorney fees or court filing fees – what I’m referring to is the effect it will have upon your life.

That will be much more expensive than a couple thousand dollars you will pay for the bankruptcy procedure itself.

Before filing for bankruptcy, consider the impact it will have on your life… Continue Reading

Can We Break This Spending Cycle? Do We Want To?

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Amy Dacyczyn, author of the wildly popular 1990s The Tightwad Gazette, wrote a post one time about the television show Roseanne.

She noted that Dan and Roseanne are always struggling financially.

One time, they get an unexpected bonus of $50, and each Dan and Roseanne spend the money on things for themselves without discussing their purchases with one another.  Now, instead of having an extra $50, they are $50 in the hole.

Dacyczyn noted that every time Dan or Roseanne got extra money or worked overtime, they developed a “Yipee!-We-can-spend” attitude.  Yet, when money is tight, they scrimp and save and “feel poor” because they can’t spend.

Is America a Nation of Dan and Roseanne Connors?

The last several years have been rough ones financially for American citizens.

Many people lost their houses, and even if they were able to keep up with payments, they may have found themselves underwater.  People lost their jobs, and even if they were able to stay employed, they may not have seen a raise for years while health care and other costs escalated.

Yet, there are signs that the economy is improving.
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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.
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What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

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Filing taxes can either be very simple or overly complex.

There are so many exclusions, credits, loopholes, and deductions to know about that it can be easy to miss out on credits that you qualify for simply because the tax system is so complex.  One of those tax credits worth knowing about, especially if you are in a low income bracket, is the EITC or Earned Income Tax Credit.

What is the Earned Income Tax Credit?

Tax credits are great because they are a direct reduction in the amount of tax that you owe.  Tax deductions are good, too, but they simply reduce your income that will then be taxed.

A tax credit like the EITC is much more valuable.  It’s important to find out if you qualify for the EITC, especially if you know that you don’t have significant investment returns or income for the tax year.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is meant for people who are working and have low to moderate income.  The credit is designed to provide incentive to keep working rather than relying on government subsidies.  Part of the goal of the EITC is to offset social security taxes that you pay as you earn an income.  As with many government tax credits and deductions there is some controversy around the support the Earned Income Tax Credit provides for individuals or couples with children. Continue Reading

The 4 Most Common Tax Return Scams and How to Protect Yourself

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It’s tax season which typically means hours gathering your data and slogging through the year’s records

Most don’t look forward to tax season, but the usual tax time headache can get even worse if you’re the unfortunate victim of a tax scam.

Every year, there seems to be more ways scammers find to rob you of your tax refund.  According to CNNMoney, nearly 2/3rds of Americans get a tax refund, and the average refund in 2011 was more than $3,000.

With that kind of money at stake, it’s no wonder scammers continue to find creative ways to get their hands on your cash.

As you prepare to file your taxes this year, be aware of these four common tax return scams:

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How to Invest in Real Estate Without Speculating

Let’s get one thing straight: the kind of real estate investing you often see on the television flipping shows is not true real estate investing.

Sure, it involves putting money into a deal and expecting to make something back.  And yes – sometimes these individuals make incredible profits.

However, the kind of real estate seen on the flipping shows is more closely related to the buy-wholesale, sell-retail model of a clothing store at your local mall than it does to real estate investing.

As Glen mentioned in his popular article, Seven Ways to Get Rich Quick, many people have tried to “get rich quick” by buying real estate only to lose it all when the market dropped out.

Flipping houses, as well as most development, raw land purchases, and betting all your chips on “black” is not investing but rather “speculation.”

Speculation involves taking a high risk with the potential of earning a high reward, often in a short period of time.  Investing involves taking calculated but dependable risks with the assumption of earning solid returns.

It’s important that for you, as someone looking to grow their financial position in life, to make that distinction in your mind now, rather than later.

Now, don’t get me wrong: house flipping can be fun, profitable, and entertaining.

However, flipping houses involves heavy risk with a smaller hope of return.  It’s a business, at best, and while it can be exciting and profitable if done correctly, it’s not what I want to talk about today.  Millionaires are generally not made through speculation (at least not for the long haul.)

Let’s talk a bit about what true real estate investing looks like, without the speculation added.

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