H&R Block Offers Free Second Opinions of Tax Returns

I'm curious if anyone plans or has used this free second-opinion tax review offer from H&R Block. Here's the item:"Common errors translate into millions of dollars that are due to taxpayers. In fact, H&R Block found $1.8 million nationally on Friday (March 27th) alone. The hunt continues this weekend as H&R Block offers free professional, second opinions on completed tax returns. […]

Personal Balance Sheet, Net Worth, Income, and Expenses, March 2009

If you have been following Consumerism Commentary, you might be aware that I publish a monthly report of my financial well-being, and I have been doing so since 2003. Here is my latest balance sheet, whose bottom line represents my “modified net worth.” That number has increased in March by 12%. […]

Weekly Roundup - Self Promotion Edition

Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion… Did you know that I run a couple of other finance-related websites in addition to FCN? Well, I do. One is called Credit Addict, and the other is Money Tipper. […]

Avoid These Rookie Mistakes - Overdraft Fees

As a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, I am really looking forward to the upcoming 2009 - 2010 NFL season.  Most of my enthusiasm centers around the Falcons’ second-year quarterback, Matt Ryan.  Last year, as an NFL rookie, Ryan lead the Falcons to a surprising 11 - 5 record and a birth in the NFL playoffs.  He did so while passing for more than 3,000 yards (only the second rookie in history to do so) w […]

FNBO Direct Currently Offering 2.15%, Considering SmartyPig with 3.25% APY?

A little over a year ago, I introduced SmartyPig to Consumerism Commentary, a savings account with a higher rate. Their current rate yields 3.25%, by far the highest among high-yield online savings accounts. Accounts held with SmartyPig are fully backed by the FDIC. […]

Watch Out for the Making Work Pay Credit (2009 Economic Stimulus)

Smithee has been keeping me up-to-date with a major part of the 2009 economic stimulus, the $400 for individuals or $800 for couples tax credit. Here are some things to keep in mind about this stimulus going into effect today, called the “Making Work Pay” credit in the law that established it. […]

Most Popular on Consumerism Commentary, March 2009

First, if you haven’t yet this week, check out the latest Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by Wide Open Wallet. […]

Budgeting and Automation: Streamline Your Finances

Budgeting can be a daunting task. It takes time and effort, and it’s not necessarily fun. The keys to having a successful budget are to make it: (1) realistic, and (2) easy to maintain. Some people mistakenly assume that having a budget means cutting their expenses to the bone and hoarding their money for the future, but that’s simply not the case. […]

IRS Now Accepting Tax Returns Claiming $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Credit

Earlier today, the IRS officially began accepting 2008 electronic tax returns for individuals claiming the $8,000 tax credit for qualifying first time home buyers who purchased a house in 2009. If you qualify and have purchased your home this year, you can now file your taxes using TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block, or any other software vendor. […]

Brewing a New Life in an Old Yellow Teapot

My yellow enamel teapot will not rest in peace. Nor will it face a rusty death in a bottom of a landfill. With Earth Day approaching on April 22, my goal is to contribute fewer things to waste and landfills. And that includes a teapot whose inside is pocked by rust spots.By recycling the teapot and other cast-off items, I can spend less money and save a small corner of the environment. […]

Sales Tax Deduction for New Car Purchases

A reader name Patrick just wrote in to point out a recent IRS press release about a special tax break for new car purchases in 2009. […]

$400 Stimulus Payment Dumbness Update

A few weeks ago I wrote a short piece explaining that while even if you think the “Making Work Pay” tax credit of $400 is a bad idea, at least we’re saving money this time by not sending out two letters and a check to every household in America. […]

Chase Credit Card Customers Receiving $4.4 Million Refund

Earlier this year, JP Morgan Chase surprised customers with a new fee and an increased minimum required monthly payment. For cardholders who carried large balances month to month, Chase began charging a $10 monthly fee and increasing the minimum payment from 2% to 5% of the balance. The change was announced last November for about 300,000 customers and took effect in January. […]

How to Save Money on Life Insurance

Life insurance is an incredibly important financial product. Unfortunately, it’s also relatively costly. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together some tips for saving money when you’re in the market for a life insurance policy. Get healthy Any insurer worth their salt will require a physical as part of the underwriting process. […]

Fatal Tragedy During the Morning Commute: Suicide or Accident?

A man fell or jumped onto the train tracks this morning, during my morning commute to work. The tragedy occured at the station near my office. Police, fireman, news helicopters and other emergency response teams were all on the scene. […]

Salary Flat? Washington Post Wants to Hear From You

A reporter from the Washington Post is looking to hear from Consumerism Commentary readers who are coping with wage deceleration or stagnation. If you have had to make changes to your lifestyle due to wages or salaries that haven’t been rising as quickly as expenses, you are a perfect candidate for this article in progress. […]

Filed 2008 Federal And State Income Taxes

I have just finished filing our 2008 income tax returns.  I managed to do a pretty good job estimating our withholding and quarterly prepayments.  We will receive a small refund from our federal return, and we only had to pay a very small amount in additional taxes to our state government. Unlike last year, I did not make any contributions to my SEP-IRA.  I did so last year to reduce our tax liabi […]

My Pets’ Worth

The author of Free Money Finance pointed out a story highlighting how the recession is affecting the health of pets. He or she also linked to a helpful chart of estimated costs for owning various kinds of pets. Personally, my wife and I don’t even include pet care in our budget, because our affection for them goes beyond monetary concerns. I understand and sympathize with people who feel like they have to cut back their spending in multiple areas, and their pets’ overall health might have to be one of them. And I don’t imagine that this is an easy decision for anyone, but I would beg them to reconsider. […]

The Best 401(k) Plans

As a followup to my earlier post about the worst 401(k) plans, here’s a look at Business Week’s list of the best 401(k) plans. Once again, these were rated based on criteria like participation rate, default rate, fees, and employer match. The full list includes fifty plans. […]

Spring Clean Your Money -- A Guest Post & Personal Cleaning Tools

I like the idea of spring cleaning my finances. My number one tool is to sort through my paper piles and other clutter. I have found financial records by dusting, sorting and filing. My second tool is a pen-and-paper and a laptop, which I use to track my finances.These following tips about spring cleaning your money are from a subsidiary affiliated with a major bank. […]