Archive for April, 2011

What did you do with your tax refund?

Tax season is finally over. Some of you might have filed the tax on time over internet and already got your refund from Uncle Sam. Some of you might have filed in paper and waiting to hear from IRS which might take few weeks. Obviously some of you might  filed for an extension since you didn’t have enough time to get through with it. It would be good to file taxes soon as possible and get it over with it and avoid paying penalties or avoid giving interest free loan to IRS if you expect a refund.



Plan ahead for next year Taxes


Anyway, if you are among many Americans who filed early and got your refund, good for you. It is not a good idea to leave your money with IRS which is interest free loan to the government instead you could earn interest on the money. Also many think, getting a refund is a good thing. Not really and not always. If you planned properly ahead taking advantage of tax codes and deductions and filed your W4 with your employer to deduct the proper amount, you wouldn’t be recieving the refund now instead you might got more money on every paycheck which you could have saved regularly. Try to plan ahead atleast this year and submit updated W4 if there is a change in your household or income and not give IRS interest free money.

I know people like me who are self employed or don’t have standard income every year and also have deductions all over the place, they won’t be able to easily judge their regular/estimated tax payments and end up paying 100% of your last tax amount to be on safe side and sometimes we end up getting reasonable amount of refund back taking all deductions. As of 2009 IRS tax stats card, IRS paid out on average $3000 as tax refund to individuals. 

So going back to the actual topic, if you got your refund check, what are you planning to do with the lumpsum money? 

I plan to spend part of my $1200 refund for home improvement by adding hardwood or laminate floor which will reduce carpet maintenance and good if I want to rent out later. Another part, I plan to put in a savings account for now and decide later.

What are you going to do?

I googled and found some usual answers like some are planning to buy a big screen TV or new gizmo like iPad, some thinking about exotic cruise or vacation in carribean and some planning to buy/upgrade your home appliances and some planning to put a downpayment for their new car. Here are some ideas which every financial guru will suggest which works for your favor.

Things you can do with your refund


1. Pay off your high interest credit cards or atleast reduce the balance if you a big one which will save you interest in the long run.

2. Put in Roth/Traditional IRA for your retirement.

3. Try to save for your kids college education in 529 plan or Coverdall Plan or open a new CD.

4. Make a value added improvement to your home so you can get better return when you sale it at later time.

5. If all above seems lot of work, just take a CD from ally bank or SmartyPig or any other bank which gives some good rate of return and make the decision later. It can be either used for future car or home or business venture. Don’t just throw your money for something which doesn’t yield a return.

You can also find more options at Bankrate.com. Credability has conducted a contest and I am hoping to get some good ideas from consumers. I will post the some them when they release the results in few weeks. Until then, you can either put  the money in savings account or follow some the above mentioned ideas.


Are you interested to know how your tax dollars get spent by the government? Check out WhereDidMyTaxDollarsGo.com and enter your income. It will split out the propotion of your tax dollars spent on different categories.

image courtesy: 2010.TaxCalculators.com

ING Electric Orange Checking Account – $50 Signup Bonus offer

I have posted many offers from ING in the past. It has been a while since they announced their last one. This time, they are bringing back their Checking account bonus offer. Now, they are offering a $50 bonus to sign for Electric orange Checking account and make 3 debit card purchases or person to person cheque payment within 45 days after signup. Your bonus $50 will deposited in your checking account.



Currently, ING Checking account offers .24% interest for balance below $50000 and 1.09% for above 50k and below 100k. It is not a great interest but reasonable to have it in the checking account when other bank don’t even offer an interest for checking account. They have other checking accounts like premium which has minimum balance requirement. With No minimum balance requirement, you are also earning interest and getting bonus to signup. I would say, it’s a good offer.

I been with ING Direct for almost 5 years and used their service. Never had issues with the website and never had to call customer service. I have suggested few things and they actually implemented them. If you have a savings account already, just sign for checking and do simple debit purchases. You will get easy $50. Who don’t want free money? I cannot do it since I already checking out.

Click here for more details.

Earth Day – Simple things to save Money and Earth as well

We only think about conserving energy and saving the planet when the gas price goes up and when we feel the pinch in our budget. But every year Earth Day reminds us that we need to do something whether gas price is up or down. It also gives us opporunity even during this time of unprecedented environmental challenge, for every citizen to make an impact.  This year Earth day is on April 22 and I want to share few simple things which I do every day and has an impact. You can also try it out and be satisfied for doing something.

1. First thing, avoid paper bills unless its really necessary. If we all reduce paper usage, it will eventually reduce the number of trees cut for this purpose. Many utility companies, financial institutions like banks, mortgage servicers, insurers are campaigning to reduce the paper waste by requesting customer to signup for ebills over the internet or email. Obviously they have better motive  which is to reduce their cost but still it makes sense to help reduce the paper waste by moving to ebill solutions. But do it subjectively.

If you think your bill will change every month and needs to verify before paying, you shouldn’t sign up for auto withdrawal but if they have an option to get ebill and then pay online then go for it. If they only have option for ebill and automate the payment, then continue with paper bill in those situations. On the other hand, if the bill stays same all throughout the year, you don’t need the paper bill. For example, mortgage is always going to be same every month and you can avoid paper bills instead get ebill reminder to pay them or setup auto deduction.

2. Next comes Electricity. We use lot of electricity at home everyday which is either generated by Coal or Wind. Wind is good but we don’t have lot of windmills to support our electricity demand. Currently it’s most electricity comes from coal which has lots of waste and emissions. For your part, reduce electric consumption by using fluroscent bulbs as much as possible instead incandescent  bulbs.

You might find incandescent bulbs cheaper than compact flourescent bulbs but things are getting better these days. Even if you pay more and buy flourecent bulbs  they will last longer than their counter part. So think again and do the right thing. We changed 90% of lightings to flourescent bulbs. Also Turn off the lights when you leave a room whether at home or office. Start making it as a practice. Don’t forget to Turn up the Thermostat during summer and Turn down during Winter. Turning up to 78 degrees uses less electricity and Turning down to 65 degrees during winter will use less natural gas to heat up. Both saves you money and good for the environment.

3. Plastic is another big chemical waste which is ruining our earth’s composition.  Try to reduce plastic waste. It also emits lot of unhealthy gas during decompositon or recycling process. You can help by reducing the plastic use by reusing them as much as possible. For example, save Ziplock bags or any plastic bags after first use and try to use them few times before you throw it out. Avoid bottle water if you can use filteration system like Reverse osmosis. That reduce plastic waste and also gives you good, healthy water for cheap. Check out a Costco offer for Reverse osmosis I posted last week.  


4. Water is another precious resource from mother nature. Try to reduce water consumption by not  leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving.  Nearly tens of gallons of water just goes down the drain during our daily activities. By saving water, you save money and also natual resource which is getting wasted. So try to avoid wastage by only using limited quatity when needed during shaving, doing laundry, watering the lawn, washing the car, washing dishes.

5. Finally, Petroluem/Gas/Oil. Carpooling is the best way to reduce carbon footprint by reducing fuel consumption and also saves money on fuel cost and vehicle mileage. Also there are reports about effective driving can reduce gas usage. May be it’s true but it is hard to change your habit immediately whether it’s good or bad. No harm in trying, so I recommend you try one change at a time and see the effect and go from there. Like try to avoid rising your engine too quickly when you start from lights. Do it slowly which won’t consume more fuel. Try small things like above and you might see the difference in your gas tank.

These are just simple things which I follow and feel good in both saving money and helping save the planet. There are many websites like this one which shares lot more tips to help to do your part and make an impact in reducing bad impact to our Mother Earth.



Happy Earth Day!!

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