7 year-end tax tips to increase your refund

7 year-end tax tips to increase your refund

Reduce your taxable income dollar-for-dollar by contributing as much as you can to your 401(k) or employer’s retirement plan by Dec. 31. If you are 18 or older, you can save up to $18,500 to your 401(k), and if you are over 50 you can kick in an extra $6,000. With IRAs you can contribute $5,500, and if you are over 50, an additional $1,000. (You have until the April deadline to make those IRA…

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People share retirement tactics, from cutting costs to working longer

People share retirement tactics, from cutting costs to working longer

Sally Toro grew up poor. “I was never taught about saving or preparing for the future,” she said. Through her 20s and 30s, she saved nothing. When she was 39, Bea Martin, a coworker at the financial company she worked for, asked if she was using the company’s 401(k). No, she answered. Between supporting her two daughters as a single mother and a salary of about $42,000, she simply could not afford to give up…

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Millennials face higher auto insurance premiums than other age groups

Millennials face higher auto insurance premiums than other age groups

Homeowner or not, there is plenty millennials can do to cut their auto insurance costs. The biggie: Regularly re-shop your policy. “The single best way to lower auto insurance rates is to shop,” Rose said in an interview with CNBC. Quotes from multiple carriers can differ by up to a $1,500, he said, and this diligent shopping can save drivers more than $50,000 over a lifetime. Rose said that in many cases, millennials living at…

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Here’s your holiday tipping guide 2018

Here’s your holiday tipping guide 2018

Do you tip the garbage collectors at the holidays? How much should you give your doorman as the year comes to a close? Year-end tips have become a common practice. About 60 percent of Americans tipped one or more service providers last year, according to a Consumer Reports survey of 2,013 adults conducted earlier this year. They shelled out an average of $45 in tips, the majority of which were in cash, the survey found….

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DeVos stymies effort to share salary, debt data from certain colleges

DeVos stymies effort to share salary, debt data from certain colleges

The department can’t access the debt-to-earnings data on different programs because its agreement with the Social Security Administration — which provides the information – has lapsed, said Education Department Press Secretary Liz Hill. She noted that a request to the agency to renew the agreement in March went unanswered. However, no official agreement between the SSA and the Education Department is needed for the agencies to exchange the gainful employment data, said Eileen Connor, the…

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These moves can leave a dent in your credit score

These moves can leave a dent in your credit score

Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com, recently booked a trip to Walt Disney World with his wife, Chelsea and 3-year-old daughter, Ashleigh. He charged the $3,000 vacation on a new credit card. Shortly after, he was shocked to find his credit score had dropped to 790 from 831. “Still good, but a far cry from 831,” Rossman said. (Scores from FICO, the data analytics firm that develops and sells credit scores, range from 300…

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Claiming a tax deduction for medical expenses is getting harder

Claiming a tax deduction for medical expenses is getting harder

Despite tax-law changes that have made it harder to claim the deduction for medical expenses, it’s still worth checking to see if you can take it for 2018. As it stands, you can deduct qualifying medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (taxable income minus certain adjustments) as long as you itemize your deductions. That floor is scheduled to rise to 10 percent in 2019, which will be a harder hurdle…

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Year-end portfolio moves to make even with this week’s market rout

Year-end portfolio moves to make even with this week’s market rout

Morgan Stanley’s target for the S&P 500 next year is 2,750, which is right around where the index is now. That means flat or low single-digit returns are to be expected, Shalett said. Investors would be wise to steer away from vulnerable areas including technology, consumer discretionary and communication services, according to Shalett. Areas of the market with more promise include energy, consumer staples, health care and REITs, she said. Now is a great time…

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Retirement plan auto-enrollment can be great — or it can backfire

Retirement plan auto-enrollment can be great — or it can backfire

They know all about inertia in the retirement plan industry. Only they try to use it to help you. Their thinking goes like this: People who use the company savings plan don’t want to be bothered and they don’t want to make too many decisions. So they make the choice for you. A lot of companies use something called auto-enrollment to put you in the 401(k) plan. Voila! You are saving for retirement and you…

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10 states give you biggest bang for your real estate investing buck

10 states give you biggest bang for your real estate investing buck

Investing in real estate isn’t as simple as investing in equities. But some wealthy investors like real estate because of the potential for great returns. There are several ways to invest in property. You can become a landlord or buy a property to rehab and flip. Or you can put money into a real estate investment trust or real estate investment groups: two other ways to invest without the hassle of dealing with a tenant…

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7 ways to get your holiday shopping tab under control

7 ways to get your holiday shopping tab under control

To avoid the same predicament next year, start 2019 by setting up a separate savings account earmarked for holiday shopping and make automatic transfers into your gift fund, advised Alison Norris, a certified financial planner and strategy manager at SoFi. “If you put $50 a month aside, by next year you’ll have a healthy balance to start using,” added Navy Federal’s Miller. Miller suggests stashing that cash in certificates of deposit, which offer higher-than-average returns…

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Why you should review your options as Medicare open enrollment ends

Why you should review your options as Medicare open enrollment ends

While the insurers are federally regulated, the specifics can vary greatly from plan to plan, county to county and year to year. Changes can affect things such as your premiums, deductibles, co-pays, covered services and participating doctors and other providers. Also, look closely at your prescription drug coverage, whether through an Advantage Plan or a stand-alone Part D plan. Even if your premium goes down, the price of certain drugs could be higher for you….

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6 last-minute tips that will trim your 2018 tax bill

6 last-minute tips that will trim your 2018 tax bill

If you’re hoping to trim your tax bill and ramp up your savings for 2018, you have about three weeks to call your accountant and get your act together. It has been a busy year for taxpayers and accountants, as the end of 2018 signals the first year under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In all, the tax overhaul roughly doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers ($24,000 for married-filing-jointly), eliminated personal…

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How to clear up any confusion about the new tax-law changes

How to clear up any confusion about the new tax-law changes

Numerous questions are whirling because of the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Plenty of those queries involve misconceptions about applying the new tax rules and finding tax savings opportunities. Certified financial planner Barry Glassman, founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, and Tom Stringfellow, CFP and president of Frost Investment Advisors, offered their expertise on the confusion surrounding the tax issues. “Most of our conversations [with clients] revolve around itemizing versus standard…

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Nab these last-minute tax savings opportunities for small businesses

Nab these last-minute tax savings opportunities for small businesses

This limitation initially spurred a burst of creative tax planning, as accountants weighed different methods to help entrepreneurs qualify. The IRS responded this summer with a crackdown on certain strategies, including “crack and pack,” a tactic in which an otherwise ineligible business splits itself in two so that one entity can take the deduction. Some uncertainty still remains over defining a trade or business within the context of the legislation, particularly with real estate, said…

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