After you file this year's tax return, these are the old documents you should keep and the ones you can toss.
The best deals on bicycles appear during the off-season - in other words, the cold months, says Kristin Cook, managing editor of Ben's Bargains, a Web site that specializes in finding online deals. Furniture sellers including IKEA and Overstock.com slash prices as much as 70% on select items during Presidents' Day sales, he says.
Thinkstockphoto Repeat after me: Bigger isn't always better. Yes, you certainly can save money by buying some things in bulk. But it's a mistake to think that the biggest package you can find at Costco ...
To boost a nest egg's longevity, advisers and academics are increasingly turning to 'dynamic' drawdown strategies that adapt to changing circumstances.
Why it's a mistake: If your significant other's name is the only one listed, "you leave yourself open to being thrown out on the street at a moment's notice" if you break up, says Kevin Reardon, a certified financial planner and owner of the Pewaukee, Wis.-based financial planning firm Shakespeare Wealth Management. Couples should also consider drafting a cohabitation agreement that clearly states the living arrangements they've agreed to. You can seek out the help of a lawyer in writing a cohabitation agreement, but a basic agreement can cost up to $2,000, she says. How to avoid it: Early and frequent communication with your sweetheart is critical to help avoid fights down the road, says Cathy Pareto, a financial adviser in Coral Gables, Fla. Several crucial issues should be up for discussion before marriage, including how much money each person earns, where it comes from, where it has been and will be saved and invested, and where it's spent each month.
On the other hand, your fellow taxpayers have successfully claimed write-offs for many things that most of us wouldn't even imagine, ranging from cat food to a casualty loss for a vehicle totaled by a drunk driver. He claimed he was entitled to a $9,000 casualty loss. The Tax Court said that most of the $160,000 was a deductible business expense because the firm obtained new business connections, favorable construction financing deals and other similar benefits from its sponsorship. Nevertheless, the Tax Court allowed him the write-off because he translated what he saw and heard in the music scene and taught it to his students.
If you believe that tax breaks are for millionaires and companies with offshore subsidiaries, you're probably paying too much to the IRS. In recent years, lawmakers have enacted dozens of tax incentives targeted at middle-class families. Taking full advantage of these tax breaks is particularly important for dual-income couples because there's a good chance they'll get hit by the marriage penalty--when two individuals pay more in taxes as a married couple than they would pay if they were both single. Anyone with earned income (meaning income from work rather than investments) can contribute to a traditional IRA, but not everyone who contributes can claim a tax deduction.
You see, Congress offers itemizers the choice between deducting the state income taxes or state sales taxes they paid. So if your state doesn't have an income tax, the sales tax write-off is clearly the way to go. In some cases, even filers who pay state income taxes can come out ahead with the sales tax choice. This isn't a tax deduction, but it is an important subtraction that can save you a bundle.
For many Americans, Social Security benefits are the bedrock of retirement income. Maximizing that stream of income is critical to funding your retirement dreams. By educating yourself about Social Security, you can ensure that you claim the maximum amount to which you are entitled. Your age when you collect Social Security has a big impact on the amount of money you ultimately get from the program.
Reducing your taxable income is one of the most effective ways to lower your taxes, with some moves doing double duty as both deductions themselves and as a means to slide under income thresholds at which other taxes would kick in. While it's late in the year now, there's still time to take steps that will lower the amount of income you must report on your 2014 tax return. Money contributed to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a traditional 401(k), isn't included in your taxable income. If you have self-employment income from a side job, you can sock away even more.
You set aside part of your paycheck in either an employer-sponsored retirement plan or a retirement account that you set up on your own, such as an IRA. In a recent Wells Fargo survey of middle-class Americans, who had a median household income of $63,000, 70% of respondents reported having a company retirement plan.
Walmart is known for saving shoppers money -- often lots of money. You name it, and Walmart probably stocks it. We compared regular (non-sale) prices at two Walmart stores with several of its competitors' regular prices. After also taking into account price-comparison research conducted by Web sites that specialize in finding deals, we identified 11 types of items that are generally cheaper at retailers other than Walmart.
2014 has been a prosperous year for taxpayers who own stock and mutual funds outside of their retirement accounts. If you're in the 15% tax bracket, you'll pay 0% on long-term capital gains. In 2014, you're eligible for the 0% capital-gains rate if your taxable income is $36,900 or less if you are single, or $73,800 or less if you are married filing jointly. Offsetting gains is particularly important to taxpayers in the 39.6% tax bracket (income over $406,751 for singles;