If you pay up to Uncle Sam with plastic that earns you rewards, you might be able to mitigate a little bit of the cost.
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.
Nobody likes paying taxes, but the IRS makes it easy to do so by authorizing select companies to process credit and debit cards on its behalf.
The downside is that these companies charge taxpayers a processing fee for their payments. These fees, which range from 1.87 percent - 2.35 percent of the taxes paid, make it unwise to pay your taxes with most credit cards. The IRS posts a list of the companies authorized to accept Federal tax payments on its behalf, along with the fees charged.
But what if there was a way to charge your tax payments to a credit card that earned rewards worth more than the fees paid? This is what savvy cardholders can do when they choose the right credit card to pay their tax bills. Furthermore, there is an ingenious loophole that can allow taxpayers to pay a fee smaller than 1.87 percent.
The world's largest coffee producer was poised for a record crop this year, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
This post comes from Rob Wile at partner site Business Insider.
Coffee prices have seen a parabolic run-up in recent weeks as unprecedented hot and dry weather in Brazil has sucked the life out of what was expected to have been a record crop.
Prices are at $1.75 per pound, up 3 percent today. According to Reuters, last week's 20 percent surge was the largest one-week rally since December 1999.
January was the hottest month on record for parts of Brazil, and the drought was said to be the worst in 50 years.
One estimate said 30 percent of the coffee crop may have been lost.
"Dry, unseasonably warm weather persisted in coffee areas of southern Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo," the USDA said last week (.pdf file).
Here's the map of those two regions. It's basically a direct hit — in contrast to much of the rest of the country, which finally got some rain.
When it comes to paying off your loan, setting small monthly payments can mean you’ll be writing checks for a long time.
Remember when your car was brand-new, or at least new to you? The new-car smell, the clean carpet and upholstery and the rattle-free ride that sold you on the car? Many years or many miles can make the day you drove off the dealer lot seem like a distant memory. But some of us have car payments as a reminder of that day. And now some of us have both car payments and repair bills -- and we may worry that our cars will give out before the payments end.
That's a scenario you'd like to avoid, but it's one that's hard to think about when choosing a new ride. It's easy to think of a "comfortable" monthly payment without thinking as much about how many months you'll have to make it or how soon your car is likely to need maintenance and what that might cost.
Financing: How long is too long?
Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com, advises financing for as short a time as your budget will allow. He suggests a maximum of 60 months for a new car and 36 months for a used car. (If you're leasing, he said the maximum term should be 36 months so the lease doesn't exceed the included warranty.)
It's worth noting that loans -- even for used cars -- are available for 84 months (that's seven years). But interest rates on those longer-term loans are higher, and even if you drive that used car until the wheels fall off, you may well still owe money on it when that day comes.
Tired of your wallet taking a beating at the grocery store? Here are some creative ways to save big on food costs.
This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.
Food is one of those variable expenses that can definitely hit your budget below the belt. I mean, have you seen the price of beef lately?
According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent about $4,000 on food in 2012.
The good news is that couponing, shopping sales and making a list aren't the only ways to save a substantial amount of money on your grocery bill.
The use of food stamps by military families, military retirees and others who have on-base privileges has tripled since 2008.
This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.
Military families, military retirees and others with shopping privileges on military bases redeemed nearly $104 million worth of food stamps at commissaries in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That's a 5 percent increase from 2012 and the highest it's ever been.
According to CNN Money, food stamp usage at military commissaries has more than tripled since the Great Recession in 2008.
That outpaces the growth in food stamp use by the general population, says CBS MoneyWatch.
"I'm amazed, but there's a very real need," Thomas Greer told CNN. Greer is a spokesman for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that provides financial and emergency assistance to some of the country's lowest-paid service members.
Greer said that in 2013, Operation Homefront received 2,968 emergency requests for food help, nearly three times the number in 2008.
A number of factors reportedly have contributed to the upswing in military family food stamp usage.
The actor, who died earlier this month, hadn't updated his will in 10 years. Experts say that, along with other troubling issues, he didn't pay enough attention to estate taxes.
This post comes from Kelley Holland at partner site CNBC.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was an Oscar-winning actor who played everything from Truman Capote to a priest, but it appears he didn't do so well with his estate planning.
Hoffman, who died in early February of an apparent drug overdose, had a will that was a decade old. In addition, its structure has left it available for public viewing, something celebrities and others can easily avoid.
The estate plan itself is also problematic, experts say -- perhaps because the lawyer who drew it up appears to specialize in real estate rather than trusts and estates.
Aging Americans battered by the recession are flocking to the online marketplaces to buy health insurance.
This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.
The seemingly never-ending pursuit of health insurance is finally over for a number of aging Americans who were left jobless during the recession.
As The Associated Press reports, the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, has made a big impact on those "unwanted by employers, rejected by insurers, struggling to cover rising medical costs and praying to reach Medicare age before a health crisis."
These people in their 50s and early 60s have been signing up in droves to buy health insurance through the state and federal online marketplaces, where they'll find several tiers of plans and learn if they're eligible for a federal tax credit to help them afford the premiums.
Eligibility for the credit is based on income, and many likely will qualify, but you have to buy insurance through a marketplace to get it.
In fact, people ages 55 to 64 make up 31 percent of new Obamacare enrollees.
Those offers crowding your mailbox certainly make it sound as if all you need do is consent to allowing a card issuer to send a card. Here's what they actually mean.
Nearly all of us have received an offer in the mail at some point indicating that they have been "preapproved" for a new credit card. These offers, which include an application, are meant to entice recipients into applying for a credit card. After all, preapproval sounds so good, perhaps it actually guarantees that their application will be accepted.
What 'preapproved' really means
Banks and other lenders aren't allowed to take a peek at your credit history without your permission. So what they do is purchase from credit bureaus a list of people who meet the general criteria they desire. Then, they send out a bulk mailing of "preapproved" offers.
So does that mean approval is guaranteed?
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