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This browser extension automates your savings, it's best for online coupons and private alerts. When you check out at Amazon or any other 30,000 websites, you just click on Apply Coupons in a pop-up box, and HOney will input coupon codes for you. It can also alert you when a product's price drops and provide price histories on many items.
This browser extension is essential if you shop at amazon.com, walmart or any other e-retailers that offer products sold by third parties. It checks if a review is fake or real. It's best for you to decide what and where to buy!
This browser extension checks prices at 11,000 stores. When you shop at Amazon.com and land at a product page, a yellow bar will pop up, click on Compare Prices and you will get a list of prices for that item at other stores.
Use this browser extension on your computer will earn you cash back when you making qualifying online purchases at more than 3,500 stores such as amazon.com. It sends out a check in the mail quarterly once you reach $5 in rewards.
Credit scores could have big impact on many things, from better terms on credit cards and lower mortgage rates, to lower premiums on auto and homeowners insurance, and sometimes even the ability to get approved to lease an apartment (or to waive the upfront deposits).
However, here are 7 myths regarding what may (but actually doesn’t) help or hurt the credit scores -
1. Checking credit scores can hurt the credit score (a “hard inquiry” where a financial firm is evaluating a potential loan to you can have an impact, but a “soft inquiry” like an employer conducting a background check does not, nor does a soft inquiry of checking your own credit score);
2. Paying bills on time is all you need to worry about (it’s not, as “credit utilization” also matters, because paying on time but always being maxed out is a negative compared to ‘just’ using 30% of your available credit each month, which can be remedied by spending less or simply asking for a credit limit increase);
3. Carrying a balance helps boost the credit score (it doesn’t, it just racks up interest charges!);
4. Closing an old card with a high interest rate will help (it doesn’t, and closing a long-standing card can actually reduce the score by reducing the average age of your credit accounts);
5. Opening a new retail card at a 0% rate is good for your score (it’s not, it’s a hard inquiry that’s more likely to reduce the score);
6. Shopping for a mortgage/auto/student loan hurts the credit score (hard inquiries matter, but if multiple hard inquiries come together, they’re bundled together as a single query, and recognized as a single transaction that reflects the borrower is likely just shopping around);
7. Assuming credit reports are accurate in the first place (the FTC found in 2012 that 21% of consumers had errors, with 5% of the cases so serious it impaired their credit… which means it really is important to monitor your credit score to ensure credit events are being reported properly!).
How do you like this service - a price-protection services combs your email inbox for order confirmations and shopping receipts from major retailers and for hotel reservations from selected booking sites, then searches for price drops and claims the refund for you?
If you like it, here are two websites would do it for you -
It works with more than 15 retailers as well as all Citibank credit cards and all Mastercards (for up to 4 claims per year). It will deduct 25% fee from each refund, or you can pay $9.99 for a monthly subscription. If you link credit card accounts that offer price protection, you can also get refunds on purchases from Amazon.com.
It's a Capital One company, it will monitor your inbox for receipts from more than 25 major retailers, but it does not monitor your credit card accounts.
Tired of typing long emails or text messages to clients, prospects, and team members? Want to show them how to do something that would take too much time to explain? Loom is a free Chrome extension that lets you record your screen, your camera, and microphone all at the same time. Don’t need all three at once? You can also choose to record just your screen or just your webcam, along with your microphone.
Loom puts all those elements together in a video for you. If you use your camera, your face will appear in the lower-left portion of the video, with the screen capture taking up most of the real estate. All videos are accessible by a URL. Instead of a long email, your client gets to see your face and hear your voice. Plus, they can always revisit the URL to refer back to your message if they need it.
Loom lets you store your videos in folders, making them easy to find and re-use. You could record videos for new client onboarding, or explain the quoting process. You can show your team how you want them to do something, or show your developer the problem you’re having with your website. Video makes everything faster in all these use cases.
As we write this, Loom has a rating of 4.8/5 stars, with over 9,400 reviews. There’s a desktop app in the works so you can record from your computer without opening a browser.
If you are expecting your first child, congratulations! Here is a childbirth checklist prepared by AIG that might come handy for you.
Money really can buy happiness, as it turns out — but you might not need as much as you think.
A large analysis published in the journal Nature Human Behavior used data from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, to put a price on optimal emotional well-being: between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. That aligns with past research on the topic, which found that people are happiest when they make about $75,000 a year.
But while that may be the sweet spot for feeling positive emotions on a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that a higher figure — $95,000 — is ideal for “life evaluation,” which takes into account long-term goals, peer comparisons, and other macro-level metrics.
The researchers, from Purdue University, also found that it may be possible to make too much money, as far as happiness is concerned. They observed declines in emotional well-being and life satisfaction after the $95,000 mark, perhaps because being wealthy — past the point required for daily comfort and purchasing power, at least — can lead to unhealthy social comparisons and unfulfilling material pursuits.
Still, the findings don’t mean that getting a huge raise won’t lead to individual satisfaction: It simply suggests, according to the researchers, that a group of people making $200,000 a year is likely no happier than a group of people making $95,000. The well-documented “hedonic treadmill” phenomenon also suggests that people adjust relatively quickly to their newly flush bank accounts, with happiness leveling back off over time.
In the new study, the researchers note that their estimates pertain specifically to individuals, and ideal household income is likely higher. Plus, while the figures in the paper represent global estimates, earning satisfaction also varies widely around the world, and in urban versus rural areas within countries. Certain regions — Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, East Asia, and the Middle East — had higher financial thresholds for both emotional well-being and life evaluation, while areas including Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa were lower than the global numbers. All told, the ideal income for life evaluation ranged from $35,000 in Latin America to $125,000 in Australia and New Zealand.
In North America, the optimal amount for life evaluation was estimated at $105,000, and the range for emotional well-being was slated at $65,000 to $95,000.
The researchers didn’t observe significant differences between men and women, but they did find that education level influenced monetary ideals. Highly educated people tended to have loftier income satisfaction points, likely because they had higher expectations of wealth and were more susceptible to social comparison.
All said if your income is below — or above — the researchers’ ideal threshold, don’t despair. Research suggests that while money can buy happiness, the quality of your spending is just as important as the quantity.
Have you thought about what is really fulfilling and “enough” to make you happy?
Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable is a New York Times article that looks at how more and more research shows what really makes us happy in our jobs, yet in practice people are less and less happy at work.
Jack Bogle told the anecdote in his book Enough: “At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds,’Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . enough.'”
Q. What is "widow's penalty" tax trap and how to avoid it?
A. Widow's penalty tax trap refers to the situation that after a spouse’s death, the survivor will eventually go from a joint return to being a single filer. The widow or widower’s tax bracket likely will rise, resulting in a plumper tax bill.This bracket creep occurs because the survivor’s taxable income may be about the same as it was on a joint return. (The reduction in taxable income from the loss of one Social Security check may will be partially or fully offset by a smaller standard deduction.)
For example, someone could go from a 24% tax bracket, filing jointly, to a 32% bracket for the survivor. The result will be thousands of dollars a year in extra tax payments. As a single filer, the surviving spouse also could owe more tax on Social Security benefits or face more exposure to the 3.8% surtax on net investment income.
How to Avoid Widow's Penalty?
First, it is important to address the widow’s penalty while both members of the couple are alive.
After age 59-1/2, but before begin taking Social Security benefits, couples could convert part of their traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs at a lower tax rate. The 10% early distribution penalty won’t apply then and the conversion would be taxed at the lower joint filing rate. Moreover, Roth IRA conversions reduce taxable RMDs from traditional IRAs after age 70-1/2.
Today’s tax rates for married couples filing jointly are relatively low, no higher than 24% on taxable income (after deductions) up to $321,450. That same income would put a single filer in the 35% bracket.
A series of partial conversions should be done over a period of years, taking care to keep the amounts within low tax brackets. For the money moved to the Roth IRA, there are no RMDs for the owner or the surviving spouse, therefore, the account can continue to grow or be used with no tax consequences.
Drawing down a reverse mortgage line of credit or taking life insurance policy loans could be other sources of cash flow that won’t trigger highly taxed income.
Bank and Brokerage Accounts
Once you haven't touched your account for 3 to 5 years, banks usually transfer your money to the state of your last known address. Visit unclaimed.org and follow links to the website of each state where you have lived. You can also recover money in a deceased relative's account if you have proper documentation.
Life Insurance Policies
If it is not listed on unclaimed.org, use the Life Insurance Policy Locator at naic.org, a service run by state insurance regulators.
Retirement and Pension Accounts
Visit freeERISA.com to find your old employer's latest form 5500, which has contact information for the administrator. If your 401(k) was terminated, check askebsa.dol.gov/abandonedplansearch for contact information. If your pension plan failed or was shut down, you may still qualify for a payment from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, look for your plan at pbgc.gov/search-unclaimed-pensions. If all this is fruitless, the nonprofit Pension Rights Center (pensionrights.org) may be able to help.
While estate planning and passing on wealth to the next generation (in a tax-efficient manner) is a standard conversation for affluent clients, a recent book by Tom McCullough and Keith Whitaker entitled “Wealth of Wisdom: The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask” highlights that for many families, figuring out how to pass on their family values is equally or more important than “just” passing on their wealth alone.
Accordingly, five key lessons for “values transmission” within the family include:
1) Values are caught, not taught (meaning that actions speak louder than words, and the best way for families to communicate values to their children is by living and doing them, not just saying them… although establishing a family mission statement or family values statement may still help the family to at least crystallize its thinking of the values to express in the first place);
2) Values are different from beliefs, preferences, and choices (in essence, “values are the compass that each of us uses to direct our behavior, often unconsciously” and serve as the organizing principles of our lives, such that Christianity or Judaism are preferences or choices while “spirituality” would be the unifying value, or environmental conservation or the arts are preferences while “generosity” is a value);
3) Leading a life that is consistent with your values is the greatest predictor of happiness (as it’s the congruence between life and values that drive happiness and satisfaction, while misalignment between the two leads to frustration and stress, though the demands of growing and maintaining wealth can often challenge affluent families to stay in congruence, and teenagers will have a natural tendency to challenge their parents’ values are part of their own development);
4) Storytelling is a powerful means of sharing values (as telling stories is a way to express your own life’s work, in the context of what’s most important to you, and what your values are); and
5) If the family is to flourish for multiple generations, the attention to human capital should be as serious as that to financial capital (which means focusing on both maintaining healthy family relationships, and using financial resources to enhance the life experiences and opportunities of each member of the family).
The third topic is here, now we will turn to the 4th topic.
4. Organize Your Documents
The last 2 years of tax returns, marriage and birth certificates, insurance policies, wills, and health care proxies are a few of the things both partners need to know where to find.
It's best to designate a specific place for them. You can either store your estate plan and other important documents in your attorney's office or select a fireproof place—such as a bank safety deposit box—that someone close to you can access in an emergency. You can also use secure virtual safes like FidSafe to store copies of important documents and other information, such as passwords, financial statements, and wills.
Having discussed the second topic, now we will discuss the third topic.
3. Prepare For The Unexpected
No matter your age, it makes sense to be prepared for the unexpected. Below are 3 the most important documents:
a) A will or a living trust and "pour-over" will combination
A will is an essential legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children when you die. A pour-over will is established by an individual, often in conjunction with a trust. Upon the death of the individual, all or a portion of their assets can be transferred—or "poured over"—to a trust. By doing so, an individual can ensure that their estate has explicit directions on moving estate assets to a trust. Additionally, a properly structured pour-over may alleviate the burden of requiring the estate to undergo an often costly and lengthy public probate process.
b) A power of attorney
A power of attorney appoints an agent to act on your behalf regarding financial and other matters while you are alive. It can be a durable power of attorney, which takes effect immediately—or a springing power of attorney, which takes effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own.
c) A health care proxy
A health care proxy names a person, or persons, who can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate or don't have the capacity to make decisions.
You may also want to draft an advance medical directive, also known as a "living will." In general, it outlines your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatments and may vary depending on your state of residence. It becomes effective only under the circumstances stated in the document.
Now, the final money topic that every couple should discuss.
After our topic 1, now we will move to topic 2.
2. Name All Your Accounts' Beneficiaries
Having a named beneficiary for retirement and investment accounts and insurance policies is as important as writing a will. Assets in these accounts pass directly to the beneficiaries you've designated with your account custodian, trustee, or plan administrator—and generally supersede any instructions in your will.
It’s not hard to name—or update—beneficiaries on financial accounts. Most financial service providers let you do it online. Naming beneficiaries on all accounts can help avoid legal complications in the event of a death.
Retirement accounts beneficiaries
You can name beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, such as 401(k) accounts and IRAs. If you are married, keep in mind that some employer-sponsored retirement plans automatically designate your spouse as the beneficiary unless you name another beneficiary and your spouse has consented in writing. Check with your company.
Nonretirement accounts beneficiaries
Designating beneficiaries on a nonretirement bank account or brokerage account may establish a "transfer-on-death" (TOD) registration for the account. It allows ownership of the account to be transferred to a designated beneficiary upon your death.
Insurance policies beneficiaries
It's a good idea to check your insurance beneficiary designations. Your life insurance policies may not be something you think about often but it’s important that your beneficiaries reflect your current wishes. For example, if you forget to change the beneficiary after a big life event like a marriage or a divorce, insurance proceeds could go to the wrong person if anything were to happen to you.
The third topic is here.
Q. What are the most important money topics a couple should discuss?
A. Here are 4 topics that every couple should be open and on the same page -
1. Identify All Your Financial Accounts
It's pretty certain that everyone owns a number of financial accounts - checking, savings, credit card, investment, 401(k), IRA, etc. Consider sharing the accounts you each have and where they are. You can create a spreadsheet with account numbers and passwords or PINs, this not only helps you get organized, but also helps lay the foundation for investment decisions - which you may choose to make as a household or as individuals.
Once you have the spreadsheet ready, you can save it in a secure virtual safe such as FidSafe which is free.
We will discuss the next topic here.
Q. How to choose the best HSA bank?
A. Based on a recent Morningstar study, the answer varies as it depends on how you plan to use your HSA money.
See the chart below which could give you a clue for your own investigation about the best HSA bank for your needs.
PFwise's goal is to help ordinary people make wise personal finance decisions.