Real Estate Tax Breaks

Few can say that the U.S. income tax code is easy to navigate. To complicate matters further, taxpayers need to plan ahead to take advantage of recently enacted tax breaks that are scheduled to sunset at some point between now and December 31, 2010

Below are some of the current tax savings opportunities set to expire soon, starting with those scheduled to expire at the end of 2007.

Energy Efficient Expenditures: Last year’s Tax Act provides incentives for people who make energy efficient improvements to their homes or commercial buildings. Plus, manufacturers of energy efficient appliances get a tax credit for each unit produced, so consumers should ensure that this tax break is passed along to them with each qualifying purchase made. Most of these energy efficient tax breaks end on December 31, 2007.

$ 2,000 Credit for Contractors: During 2006 and 2007, homeowners who purchase a newly constructed energy efficient home, or have their home substantially rehabbed to become more energy efficient, need to be aware that the contractor is eligible for a $2,000 tax credit from the IRS.

Increased Section 179 Deduction: Through the end of 2007, taxpayers can elect to write-off the first $108,000 (in 2006, up from $105,000 in 2005) of equipment purchased each year, instead of depreciating the cost of that equipment over its useful life of 5 or 7 years. Starting in 2008, the Section 179 deduction will once again be limited to just $25,000 per year. Anyone purchasing a business or adding equipment to an existing business should consider doing so before December 31, 2007, to allow for a much larger upfront tax deduction.

Here are a few tax breaks scheduled to expire in 2008 that will impact the capital gains tax rate.

Reduced Tax Rate on Capital Gains: Currently, the maximum tax rate on long-term capital gains (assets held for more than one year before being sold) is 15 percent. Effective January 1, 2009, the capital gains tax rate is scheduled to jump by one-third to 20 percent. Investors who plan to sell any of their real estate or investments at some point this decade should consider selling appreciated assets on or before December 31, 2008 to lock in the lower tax rate. Congress is trying to extend this provision through 2010.

Zero Percent Capital Gains Tax Rate: The 2003 Tax Act provides for a zero percent capital gains tax rate during 2008 only for people in the lowest tax bracket. Individuals should consider gifting appreciated property to their children or grandchildren who will be 14 or older that year, and have them sell those investments. Provided the child realizes capital gains of about $30k, no tax will be owed on that gain (assuming the child has no other income). Parents hoping for financial aid for that child need to consider how this strategy might impact that child’s potential college financial aid package.

Most everything else expires in 2010.

The biggest tax planning challenge is what to do after 2010. On December 31, 2010, the 2001 Tax Act is scheduled to sunset, with the bulk of the tax rules returning to the pre-2001 rules. This means that the marriage penalty, stealth tax, and reduced retirement and education savings limits will return. How Congress and the President elected in 2008 will deal with the U.S. income tax code as the provisions of the 2001 Tax Act sunset is anyone’s guess.

Plan Ahead

Tax planning one year at a time used to do the trick. In 2006, with major tax breaks expiring in three out of the next four years, tax planning is now a five year proposition. It’s best to start doing it today, and project out a few years, keeping these tax dates in consideration.

Good luck,

Common Types of Financial Aid for College Students

If you are planning to attend college or the parent of a child you hope will attend college, I’m sure you are concerned over how you are going to be able to afford the process. A college education in many cases is a significant investment. The good news is that there are many options for the average family when it comes to paying the high costs involved in higher education.

Types of Financial Assistance for Educational Expenses

Scholarships. You will find that scholarships come in many different shapes and sizes and have all kinds of strange requirements in order to qualify to receive them. Some are based on need while others are based on merit. You will also find that there are many community and faith based organizations that offer scholarships in addition to certain corporations that offer scholarships in a gesture of good will to employees and the children of their employees. These are an excellent source of educational funding, as they do not need to be repaid.

Federal Pell Grants. This is another financial aid source that doesn’t require repayment. You must qualify based on need in order to receive this particular type of college assistance. You can only obtain a Pell grant if you are an undergraduate college student who has not yet earned a college degree. There is a formula that is used to determine the amount of award for which you are eligible. This depends greatly on your means as a family and how much you can realistically expect to contribute towards the cost of your education.

Loans. This should be used as a last resort when it comes to paying your college expenses, as this is money that must be repaid with interest. There are several types of loans that are available and you should consider carefully and weigh your options before taking out a loan. If this is the only method you have for covering the cost of your tuition it will be money well spent once you’ve managed to repay the debt.
1) Student loans. There are three different types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins loans. You must qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized loan, which will put off your interest accumulation until after graduation or you cease to be enrolled the minimum number of hours. You do not however, need to qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized student loan, which will begin accruing interest immediately. If you happen to be in exceptional financial need you can apply through your university for a Perkins loans. These are low interest loans that must be repaid to the university.
2) Parent Loans. These are commonly referred to as PLUS loans (parent loan for undergraduate students). These loans allow parents to borrow the money required to cover the costs of education that are not covered by other means of financial assistance. Repayment on these loans begins 60 days after the funds are transferred and can take up to 10 years.
3) Private loans. These loans are not guaranteed and are solely credit-based loans. They do not however, have the same limited scope that government loans have and in many cases can help bridge the gaps in actual educational expenses and the amount of money that you are allowed to borrow through traditional financial aid opportunities.

Before signing up for any particular sort of financial aid it is a good idea to see a financial aid counselor at the university you are planning to attend. They will have the best information about what steps you need to take in order to apply for financial aid at that specific universities and unique scholarship or grant opportunities that might be available to you through your state or the college. Higher education is a dream that is definitely worth having. Do not allow financial limitations to keep you from your goal if possible but enter into all financial arrangements with great caution and thought.


Achieve Success Faster With These Personal Finance Tips

For success, you need to be more than skilled at managing your time. You need to be able to manage your money as well. Personal financial management is a key skill that all successful individuals must develop.

We all have finances, and yet so many of us never get any real training or education on how to go about them wisely. As this article will show you, you don’t have to be a math genius or a financial guru in order to make wise investments and get your money matters in order.

If you want to truly have healthy financial habits, Learning about personal finance is essential. Hit your nearest bookstore to find some books on personal finance, or check out some personal finance magazines. Most people who are good with money have learned how to be, it didn’t come naturally. Study up!

You can make some extra money by offering services to neighbors, friends and family if you have good mechanical skills. You could offer oil changes or any other service that you are capable of and for a reasonable price, you can supplement your income and may even enable you to be your own boss.

Set objectives for your money management. Rather than setting up one tremendous goal, such as “retire comfortably”, map out the steps you will need to take to get there. By establishing what you need to do and the order you need to do it in, you will be giving yourself a clear path to your goal as well as providing yourself with small opportunities for success along the way.

You should have the spouse with the best credit apply for loans if you are married. Take the time to build it with a credit card that you pay off regularly if you have bad credit. Once you both have a good credit score, you can both apply for loans and share your debt more evenly.

Ensure your personal finance stays safe by never going over 30% of your income when you need to borrow money. When people borrow more than 30% of their income it can drastically reduce your credit score. As long as you stay within these safe parameters you can enjoy having good credit.

Look into dropping your land line phone if you’re looking for ways to save money. If everyone in your household has a cellphone, what do you need a land line phone for? When your cellphone will work just fine, most of the time calls from it are more expensive anyway and you don’t need to put out the money for a second phone.

Set up an automatic savings plan with your bank so that a certain amount of money is transferred to a savings account each month from your checking account. This is a great technique which forces you to put aside a little bit of money each month. It is also helpful if you are saving for a big event in the future, such as, a wedding or a special vacation.

Only you can make your own financial decisions. Even if that decision is seeking out the advice of a professional, you must do that on your own. This article is meant to be an educational tool to guide you in the right direction. Put some of these ideas into practice and you will see changes in how you think and handle about money.

Making Money: The Ageing Population

The world is growing old at an unmatched rate as childbirths decline and longevity enhances. This ageing impact is acute in wealthier, established countries where these two factors– less children and longer way of lives– combine most drastically.
Countries like Britain and the United States, where immigration has been higher and where the overall populace keeps on growing, are ageing more slowly than, say, Germany or Japan, as the forecasts from the United Nations make clear.

But the global ageing trend is “without parallel in the history of mankind”, according to the UN, and has profound financial implications for governments and individuals – and investors.

There are profits to be made from the ageing phenomenon, professional investors claim, and private investors should take note.

Academics have tried to forecast the impact of ageing on investments for decades.

But could the phenomenon of “ageing-themed investing” be just another fad? Fund managers have seized on demographic and other themes in the past as a way of marketing investments. Technology funds, or funds based around supplies of food, water, commodities and public infrastructure, have all been marketed, based on the powerful premise that the public can recognise the theme.

Sceptics warn that when portfolios are managed along the line of a theme, the fund managers’ freedom to buy into undervalued or unpopular stocks or sectors becomes limited, and instead they have to buy stocks matching their theme “at any price”.


1. Specialist funds with an ‘ageing’ theme

2. General funds with a higher-than-average exposure to health care

3. Specialist health care funds

4. Or take the other view and invest where old age is not an issue


More? Read here.

Ways To Manage Time While Working And Studying

Probably one of the most frequent questions online learners ask themselves when considering distance education is: ‘Will I be able to handle both my job and studies at the same time?’ The answer is Yes.

Although clearly, studying and keeping one’s job requires more sacrifices compared to a regular full-time student, you shouldn’t worry! Thousands of students have proved this is not only feasible but, in fact, quite manageable. The degree to which you will succeed depends entirely on you.

1. Prioritize your daily tasks and learn to manage your time

Anyone has gone through a situation where they had to figure out how to perfectly organise their tasks in a time frame.

Once becoming a distance learner you will sooner or later embark on the journey of prioritising your life, starting from the effort to come home from work as quick as possible (so you would have time to study), to limiting your leisure time activities and adjusting to a new daily and weekend routine. This will be the first important step.

The second step regards your time management and the ability to organise your time will be crucial in order to succeed. Most distance learning students assume that distance learning is something very different from regular full-time studies and perhaps even easier to handle. In reality, most distance learning programmes are designed in a way to reflect the same (or almost the same) number of hours a student should dedicate to studying as any standard full-time programme/course does.


Studying for an internet degree programme is mosting likely to be almost as requiring as if you were a full-time student and you should allow in average roughly 40 hours a week to study. For this reason, the significance to arrange your time as the very start.

On the other hand, 40 hours a week does not imply about seven hours day-to-day. Most of the time you will devote to studies will be throughout weekend breaks, resulting in going out on Fridays nights less often, for instance. One important thing you ought to remember when planning your time is to try to keep the due dates for submission of all type of assignments (essays, final papers, research study papers, discussion papers etc.). Otherwise, the workload may become somewhat intolerable once the amount of unfinished assignments begins to increase.


Read more here.

How Can Seniors Earn More Income

You’ve probably found this web site because you are looking for ideas about earning extra income or starting a home-based business.

Starting a errand running business may be just the right opportunity for you. After all, it’s easy to start up, without investing much money, and earn a solid income.

But …if it’s not exactly right for you, there is another site you may find useful,, that has dozens of conventional and unusual ways to earn an independent income. Don’t be put off by the title, that just reflects the reality of being over 55, when you realize it’s getting harder to do strenuous physical work. That’s why the focus of the site is on jobs and home-based businesses that are easier on the body.

All of the information at the website is free – and you’re sure to find job and business ideas that will have you thinking “Maybe I could do that!”


As the lot of senior citizens increases, the amount of work for task service businesses will expand too. It’s the ideal job for someone with a compassionate, patient heart that wishes to make a distinction in the lives of some other, while earning a good income. It’s a fantastic way to help out seniors, while still leaving them feeling self-sufficient.

Most importantly, there are no lessons or expensive start-up expenses required. Plus, the majority of the errands you’ll be performing are most likely things you do currently. Going to the supermarket, stopping at the post office, going to the bank, getting dry cleaning– but with a senior errand service, this time around you’ll get paid to perform it. Also, you can begin your business on a cord. You only need a vehicle and a mobile phone, and chances are you probably already have those.


Read more here.

Effective College Budget Planning

Involve Your Family In Your Budgeting Process
If your family is paying for part or all of your college expenses, start by working with them to create your budget. Make sure that everyone’s on the same page as to who will pay what, how money will be distributed, how much leeway you’ll have in making financial decisions, etc.

Pick A Timeframe For Your Budget
Decide from the beginning whether your budget will be set for a month, a semester, or a school year.

List All Of Your Income
In your budget, include all of your potential categories and amounts of income. For college students, these typically include: financial aid (scholarships, grants, work study, and student loans), savings, contributions from parents, and income from a part-time job.

List All Of Your Expenses
Next, list all of your potential categories and amounts of expenses. Typical college student expenses include: tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board / housing, groceries and snacks, personal care items, transportation or car expenses, health insurance, cell phone, clothes, and entertainment and activities. If you’re not sure what your expenses are, track them for a week, a month, or more. Recording everything you spend can be an eye-opening experience and a great way to find areas to cut costs.

Plan For Unexpected emergencies
The unanticipated is a part of life. If your car breaks down or you have an unforeseen medical expense, you’ll be way sitting pretty if you have money saved in a reserve and don’t have to rely on credit.

Conserve For Expensive Items
In case you’re preparing to move into your own house and you’ll need to buy furniture, or maybe your pals are planning a spring break trip, begin saving for the cost as quickly as you know about it. Review your budget to attempt to increase your savings level. Even though you find yourself borrowing to pay part of the expense, borrowing less will save money in the long run.

Make Sure Your Budget Balances
Complete your income, total your spendings, and after that see to it that your budget balances. You wish to either break even or have some cash leftover. If your budget plan doesn’t balance, you’ll need to decrease your expenses and/or figure out a way to generate more income.


Read more here.

Ways To Get Income During Retirement Period

Do you need a steady stream of revenue from your savings? Join the crowd: several million postwar babies now converting their 401(k) balances and brokerage accounts into cash for retirement.

There are right ways and wrong ways. I’ll show you six right ways and two wrong ones. The right ones: automatic withdrawal plans, high-coupon Treasurys, high yielding stocks, junk bonds, annuities and master limited partnerships.

As for wrong ones, there are lots to choose from. I’ll illustrate the problem with just two bad ideas for retirement. One is an expensive fund. The other is the ever-popular “covered call” scheme.

Before I deliver the specifics on income generation, I need to explain the theory. The theory is likely to surprise or depress you.

Surprise: Income, as conventionally defined, is a bad thing. It means more tax bills.

Depressing fact: Income, as conventionally defined, is no proof of what you can safely spend from a portfolio without eroding your capital. You can easily find a junk bond fund yielding 7 percent, but if you spend that whole amount you are certain to get poorer over time. Inflation and bad debt losses will deplete your wealth.

That does not mean you shouldn’t own junk bonds. Maybe you should be diminishing funding– if your health is poor and you intend to leave nothing to the youngsters. But you should know that this is what you are doing.

Bet your financier didn’t explain the high-yield bond fund he’s suggesting as a “capital erosion investment.”

You believe you really need income? No you do not. You need cash. It’s a very various point. You could get cash by selling securities or redeeming fund shares. Nine times out of ten, increasing $1,000 by marketing something is going to be less expensive at tax time than getting $1,000 through a dividend or fund distribution.

There was a time when it made sense to avoid selling. Your grandparents set stocks and bonds in a safe and got cash only from the dividends and the vouchers. Selling was expensive because stock broker compensations were stiff and mutual funds brought sales loads.

The financial planet is very different today. No-load funds are common and online brokerage commissions are $9 or less (a lot less, if you take advantage of freebies and new-account offers).


Read more here.


Teaching English Overseas and Make extra Income While Traveling

Ever wanted to travel and make money while doing so? If you are retired, would like to travel and nee a little extra income, then teaching English overseas might be a great way to go!

Here is an article from the International TEFL Academy that points out the top 5 best countries to teach English overseas. It says here,

Everybody is familiar with the saying “you don’t become a teacher for the money,” and while going to teach English abroad will almost certainly be one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences you will ever undertake, you probably don’t want to count on it to buy that tropical island you fantasize about for your retirement.

That said, there are thousands of opportunities around the world for TEFL certified English teachers teaching English abroad that do pay well and offer exceptional benefits.”

The top5 countries are;

  1. South Korea
  2. China
  3. Japan
  4. Taiwan
  5. Gulf Arab States

And an honorable mention is Vietnam. As it says here,

Highlights of teaching English in Vietnam:

  • Low cost of living and good salaries enable English teachers in Vietnam to save up to $ 600 a month after expenses.
  • Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling, dynamic Asian city that combines with modern conveniences and cosmopolitanism with traditional street markets and local color.
  • An ancient center of Vietnamese culture with a touch of French colonial charm, Hanoi offers an alluring combination of historic monuments, serene lakes and bustling streets lined with colorful shops and food stalls.
  • The beaches of Vietnam are said to be some of the most spectacular of all Southeast Asia.

Check out the complete article here.

Good luck in your new career.


Extra Income In Retirement Tips

Perhaps your retirement is imminent or is a long way off. It would be nice to think of way that you could earn extra income in retirement. Some people’s retirement could last more than 20 years. Now, more than ever, it is very important to have your money working for you.

Before you retire, it may b e a good thing to ask yourself just how much money you will need to live on. Some things may change when you retire. You will probably save big time on the cost it takes you to travel back and forth to work, but you may spend more on anotheritem such as heating. You also have to take into consideration the effects of inflation. It may be very easy to figure all of this out if you have an online budget calculator. If you find yourslef coming up on the short end of the stick, where are you going to get that extra income in retirement?

One very simple way to get that extra income in retirement is to get a parttime job. Nowadays the work foce is composed of more and more older people. You will find that a parttime job not only makes you feel productive and useful but will supplement your retirement income very nicely. As a senior, a good way to make extra money is to work as an home care attendant. Companies such as First Home Care Services in Charlotte, NC are always looking for extra help.

Are you a member of a pension plan at work? Your employer should be able to tell you exactly what you will earn when you retire if so. Some pension plans will pay you based on your earning while you were working at that company. Still other pension plans build up a pension fund that can be used to purchase an annuity. Your company should tell you how much you have built up in it if you have a personal pension. Sometimes you can take some of this money as a lump sum and the rest must be used to purchase an annuity. Perhaps you have old pension into which you are not paying into anymore. You can find out what you can expect to get from those. Remember, every little bit helps!

There are also other sources of extra income in retirement that you should be aware of. You should check to see if you will be entitled to any tax credits or state benefits. You should also jog your memory and see whether you have any investments or savings that you can put towards your impending retirement. You may be able to use some of the money that is tied up in your house to give you some supplemental icome if you happen to own your own home. This can be risky, however, so be sure to seek some professional adivce about this matter.

No matter if it be getting a parttime job, pension plans, relying or getting an annuity on stocks and investments to give you extra income in retirement you should map out your retirement strategies early enough so you will not be caught in the lurch! With a little foresight, you will not have to worry about the future.