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Roth IRA Contribution and Income Limits for 2012

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A Roth IRA can be a great way to build up retirement savings.  

One of the great advantages is that since you are putting money in after it’s taxed you get to take the money out, in retirement, tax-free.  And that includes the money’s growth over the years as well.

Another great advantage to the Roth IRA is that you can take out the contributions you put in without any penalties. This is due to the fact that you have already paid taxes on that money (opposed to a traditional IRA where you put pre-tax money in and get the tax break now).

As wonderful as the Roth IRA can be you can only put so much into it each year and there are limits to how much you can make as well.

Congress is always tinkering with the tax code and making changes nearly every year and in nearly all categories, and that includes Roth IRA contribution and income limits.

Below are the Roth IRA contribution limits for 2012.

Contribution limits

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What Do Bank Routing Numbers Mean?

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Bank routing numbers, or “routing transfer numbers” (RTN’s) appear on virtually all of our checks and other demand instruments, but as common as they are most of us have no idea what their purpose is.

Occasionally we’re asked to provide our bank’s routing number—such as for direct deposit of income tax refunds—but this does little to clear up the mystery behind them or why they’re so important.

Think of it this way: each of us has a checking account number—the bank has its own identification number, and that’s the bank routing number.  That number is at least as important to the bank as our checking account numbers are to us.

Where do you find a bank routing number?

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What Insurance Policies Does Your Family Need?

Picking the appropriate level of insurance coverage for your family can be a confusing and overwhelming task.

Not only are there multiple insurance companies to choose from for the various insurance needs you have, but there are so many different types of insurance that it can be difficult to know where to start.

Critical Insurance Policies to Have For Your Family

There are five critical insurance policies every family should have.

Life Insurance

The most critical insurance policy for a family is life insurance coverage on both spouses or parents regardless if they are working or not.
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Should Every Student Pursue a Four Year College Education?

The availability of student loans has changed our financial and employment landscape. 

While attending college used to be something just a few did, “We now send 70 percent of high-school graduates to college, up from 40 percent in 1970,”according to Marty Nemko, a career counselor based in Oakland California (The Chronicle of Higher Education).

While 70 percent of high school graduates attend college, the number of students who graduate with a degree is smaller.  Even when a student does obtain an undergraduate degree, a job is not guaranteed.

“Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56% had held at least one job” (The New York Times) by the spring of 2011.

This naturally begs the question, should all high school graduates attend a college?  Should attending college be something we encourage our children to do?
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Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth It?

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You know that your credit is important.

From getting a mortgage, to buying a car, to getting the best insurance rates, your credit can impact how much you pay, and whether you get the loan you need.

Staying on top of your credit is important if you want to save thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

On top of that, identity theft is the fastest growing crime, and everyone is vulnerable.

No matter how hard you try to keep your information safe, there is no way to completely guarantee that you won’t end up the victim of identity theft.

One of the earliest ways to catch identity fraud is to keep tabs on what is happening with your credit.

Because good credit is such a concern, and because identity theft is a very real fear, many people turn to credit monitoring services.  These services can help you keep track of whether or not your credit is improving, as well as notify you when someone opens credit in your name (and signaling that someone else might be using your identity).

But are credit monitoring services worth it? Continue Reading

2012 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Marginal Tax Rates

The Federal Income Tax brackets and marginal tax rates for 2012 are out, and we’ll take a look at how the changes affect single taxpayers, those who are married filing jointly, those married filing separately, and head of household.

The changes from 2011 to 2012 are fairly small but they can have an impact for those who are at or over a threshold.

By knowing what bracket and marginal rate you may fall in, you can tax plan to lower your taxable income.

Every year the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, uses inflation data to revise the bracket amounts.  Congress sets the marginal rate percentages with changes in the law.

Note the marginal tax rates are remaining the same in 2012 as they were in 2011.  It’s the dollar amount of the tax brackets that’s changing.

Before we jump into the changes I want to let you know that a qualifying widow(er) follows the same rates as married filing jointly.

The 10% tax bracket—the lowest marginal tax rate

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Victim of Identity Theft? Here Are Your Next Steps to Protect Yourself

Credit card security

One of the fastest growing crimes in identity theft.

It’s the theft of information about you — information that can be used by fraudsters to pretend to be you and get access to a number of perks using your good name.

Whether your credit card number has been stolen, or whether someone is using your information to qualify for a car loan, it’s possible for someone else to pretend to be you.

Your stolen identity can impact you and your finances.

Obviously, if someone steals your credit card information and makes purchases, that can impact your abilities to use your own financial resources — at least until you take action.  If someone is using your card for purchases, you could be denied when you go to make purchases later.  And, if someone uses your information to open a loan, it shows up as your debt in your credit report.  If the fraudster isn’t making payments, it’s your credit that is sunk.

Once you realize that your identity has been stolen, it’s important to take action.

Here are the steps to follow as soon as you realize that your identity has been compromised: Continue Reading

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