It's meant to be economic stimulus, but why not use it to bolster your personal finances?
President Obama last month signed a bill that will lower your Social Security taxes from 6.2% to 4.2% for this year only. This tax holiday -- which, bizarrely enough, will cost the federal government $112 billion at a time when it's facing astronomical deficits and we're being told Social Security is headed for hell on a skateboard -- could save you as much as $2,136 this year. If you and your spouse both earn more than $106,800, you'll see a combined $4,272 tax break.
The theory behind it is that the increase people will see in their monthly or biweekly paychecks will be small enough to look like gravy and so they'll diddle it away on stuff and services, thereby supposedly stimulating the economy.
Could be. Could be voodoo works to cure warts, too.
How to be fit -- and frugal -- when the temperatures are plunging outside.
While training for a marathon last winter, I quit my gym membership. Running 18 miles on a treadmill is simply not possible. (One could argue, successfully, that running 18 miles is simply insane altogether, but that's beside the point.)
What this experience taught me was that it's not only possible to stay fit in the frigid winter months, it's also possible to enjoy your workout without spending a lot on a new gym membership.
Here are some ideas to get you moving on your own exercise routine this winter:
What's not? Simple cell phones, and laptop and desktop computers.
The times they are a-changin' when it comes to electronic devices.
A new survey predicts consumers will buy 39% fewer personal computers this year compared with 2010 and that sales of simple mobile phones (not smart phones) will drop by 56%.
The TLC show 'Extreme Couponing' has frugal bloggers debating when smart stockpiling becomes obsessive hoarding.
Like many people interested in saving money, we watched the new TLC show "Extreme Couponing."
We agree that the four people profiled are pretty extreme in their coupon practices, from spending six hours on one grocery trip, to dumpster diving for coupons, to filling multiple rooms of their homes with a stockpile of products.
We did like the retired nurse who walked seven miles each morning collecting coupons from her neighbors. (Her fitness may save her as much money as her coupons do.)
The question many people are asking after watching the show is, do these couponers go too far?
Sure, it's illegal, but it's also not very profitable.
Have you ever been tempted to cheat on your taxes? asks a recent post on The New York Times' You're the Boss blog. Like almost everyone else, I've been tempted (everyone has been tempted or thought about it -- if you haven't, then you're a much better person than the majority) but I've never cheated on my taxes.
Here are just three reasons why:
The makeup industry is sitting pretty, raking in about $7 billion a year in sales.
Everybody wants to look their best. But at what cost?
According to a 2008 study by the nonprofit YWCA, U.S. women spend $7 billion a year on cosmetics (.pdf file). Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (.pdf file) says Americans -- so this figure is averaged across men and women -- spent about $600 each in 2009 on "personal care."
But that doesn't mean they will, especially if their longer-living parents blow through it in their final years.
On the face of it, this looks like a huge windfall for baby boomers: MetLife commissioned a study (.pdf file) from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research that says some 78 million American baby boomers will share in an estimated intergenerational transfer of wealth totaling $11.6 trillion. That reportedly includes some $2.4 trillion that has already been gifted.
But when you break it down, the study says that basically comes out to about $64,000 as the median amount, and that two out of three boomers should get something.
Consumer spending on average increased to about $100 a day just before Christmas.
If your December credit card bill is a bit more bloated than usual, you're not alone: Gifts, holiday travel, and other end-of-the-year expenses mean that many of us spend more during the last month of the year than at other times.
According to a recent Gallup poll, consumer spending at retailers, restaurants and gas stations jumped from an average of about $65 a day to almost $100 a day just before Christmas.
But just as a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables can counter the effects of too much ham and pumpkin pie, a spending diet can give your budget a fresh start in the new year. Here's a quick and easy five-step plan to a new and improved bank account:
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's complaint database highlights the worst problems people have with collectors.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'