Take Precautions To Avoid Gift Card Fraud

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Gift cards are a convenient way to give your friends and loved ones “just the right thing” at holiday time. They also give thieves an opportunity to make off with your money, according to a public service announcement issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

How can you protect yourself from gift card scams? Here are pointers.

  • Buy directly from reputable stores. If you’re getting a restaurant gift card, stop by the restaurant in person or visit their web site. That goes ...
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Need Money To Pay Bills? Raiding Your 401(k) Is Not A Good Idea

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When you’re short of cash, raiding your 401(k) plan may seem like a good idea. Here are two reasons why it isn’t.

Penalties and taxes. If you’re not at least 59½ years old, you’ll be hit with a 10% penalty for early withdrawals except in certain limited cases, and the money you withdraw will be taxed at your regular tax rate.

Lost opportunity. If your 401(k) earns an annual return of 5% over the next 30 years, an account with a balance ...

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Seek Liquidity For Short-Term Investments

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The stock market may not be the right investment for all of your money at all times. Here are two situations when cash accounts can be a better solution.

Situation #1. Generally, the stock market is not a good place to invest funds you will need during the next two to three years, such as when you need to pay ongoing living expenses in retirement. In that case, the money you’ll need would be better stashed in stable investments such as ...

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Good Communication Keeps Your Customers Happy

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As a business owner, you know how much effort goes into attracting new customers. So once you’ve found a new customer, you want to keep that customer as long as possible. Good communication can help. Make your customer feel known, understood, and appreciated at every stage of the relationship – before the sale, while you’re reaching a deal, and after you’ve concluded the sale.

  • Before the sale. Get to know your customer’s needs. In a retail setting good communication means greeting ...
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Are You 65 Or Older? Include These Tax Breaks In Year-end Planning

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Celebrate your 65th birthday with federal income tax benefits, here are some of the breaks available once you reach age 65.

Higher standard deduction. Your standard deduction is the sum of the basic standard deduction plus an additional standard deduction if you are age 65 or older at the end of the tax year. You are considered to be 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. For your 2015 tax return, you can add an extra ...

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Turn Your Part-Time Employees Into Winners

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Part-time employees play a valuable role in a small business.

They help deal with fluctuations in workload and can job-share with full-timers. In addition, because part-timers often look for flexibility in hours, you may find a skilled worker whose schedule fits perfectly with existing staff.

But part-timers can turn into a liability if not managed well. You could end up with poorly motivated workers who are unsure of their duties, unfamiliar with your company, and ...

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Breakeven Analysis Helps With Business Choices

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Breakeven analysis is an important and useful tool in business. 

Whether you’re starting a new business, expanding current operations, contemplating an acquisition, downsizing, or approaching banks and other potential lenders, you’ll want to know your breakeven.

Breakeven is defined as the point at which costs equal income – no profit, no loss. It’s an excellent starting point for finding out where your business is and where it can go. Breakeven is the first step in planning ...

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Protect Yourself From ID Theft With Credit Report Check

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Even if you’re covered by a credit monitoring service, you may want to keep an eye on your credit report – and you can still do that for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. That’s the only official website, so don’t be fooled by other “free” claims.

At the site, you can get one free report annually from each of the three major agencies. Why bother? Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar industry, and checking ...

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Decide When To Start Social Security Benefits

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Whether you should take social security benefits at the earliest possible date or defer benefits until reaching normal retirement age (or even age 70), depends on several factors.

For example, you’ll want to consider your overall health and life expectancy, your plans to earn income before reaching normal retirement age, anticipated returns on your other investments, and, surprisingly, your guess about the future of the social security program. As you can tell, the decision isn’t one-size-fits-all.

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Items On Your 2014 Return Can Affect 2015 Tax Planning

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As year-end approaches, remember to check your 2014 federal income tax return for items that can affect your 2015 tax planning. Here are three to look for.

Capital loss carryover. If your capital losses exceeded your capital gains in 2014, you may be able to carry any unused loss to future years. You can apply the loss against 2015 capital gains as well as up to $3,000 of other income – a benefit to remember when you’re ...

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