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New 2009 IRA Rules Confuse Taxpayers

March 31st, 2009

ira-tax-changes-2009.jpgThis article by an author writing under the nickname of Moeursalen is an explanation of some changes in the tax code for 2009 that affect people who have individual retirement accounts (IRA) and are at least 70 and a half years old. I have no idea why they chose such an odd number for the age cutoff, but the gist of the recent changes is that if you happen to be above this threshold, you are now allowed an exemption from the otherwise mandatory withdrawals from your IRA if you want to avoid taking losses due to the declining values of most stocks.


A change in the federal tax code has left a wake of confusion among retirees aged 70 and ½ who must make annual withdrawals from their IRAs, 401K, or similar plans. The change was meant to help retired persons whose life savings sustained a hit from the precipitous decline of the stock markets.

It is not uncommon for retirement savings maintained in 401K, IRA or other qualified plans to have lost 40% or more. For many people, this means that retirement planning falls far short of expectations they had when the plans were initiated.

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Personal Allowance for UK Taxes

March 30th, 2009

uk-tax-personal-allowance.jpgEarlier today I managed to pick up this piece by Mary Teresa Fowler that serves as a brief overview of the personal allowance under the UK tax system. This was actually an informative read for me because I was not previously familiar with the tax codes of this particular country. From what I gather, the allowance (we call it a “deduction” here in the USA) is somewhat higher for the UK than it is for our country when we factor in the difference between the pound and the dollar according to the currency exchange rates.



The Personal Allowance can benefit almost every UK resident. Some residents from other countries can also take advantage of this allowance. Even if you are a UK national living elsewhere, you are generally eligible for this tax break.

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Book Review: Don’t Get Burned on eBay

March 29th, 2009


This article by Deanna Dahlsad is a review of the book Don’t Get Burned on eBay by Shauna Wright. Ebay is one of those areas that I have not delved heavily into except as an occasional buyer of domains or advertising services. The horror stories (including my own experience) about PayPal have effectively kept me away from becoming a “power seller” and trying to make my living through this venue, but it looks like this book could provide some useful tips for avoiding major problems.


Subtitled How to Avoid Scams and Escape Bad Deals, this book covers all the basics of online buying and selling — even if you never use eBay. Covering areas such as bidding, payment, packaging, shipping, problems with other site members, scammers, and the law, this book has the information and practical solutions to help buyers and sellers navigate through the challenges of dealing with e-commerce.

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How Drinking Coffee Can Help Intestinal Health

March 28th, 2009

coffee-intestinal-health.jpgThis article by Kristie Leong has good news for coffee drinkers. Apparently some recent studies found that coffee can increase the number of “good gut bacteria” that normally work to maintain intestinal health and prevent certain types of diseases. Yogurt and some fermented foods were reported to have a similar effect.


When you enjoy that cup of joe in the morning, you may actually be doing something healthy for your body, at least when it comes to your gut. A new study suggests that drinking several cups of instant coffee each day may increase the number of good gut bacteria that live peacefully in your intestines and help to keep your intestinal tract healthy and free of disease.

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Sushi for a Song in Scottsdale, Arizona

March 27th, 2009

sushi-scottsdale-arizona.jpgIf you happen to live in the Scottsdale, Arizona area or are thinking about traveling there, this article by Lois Lawrence recommends three local restaurants where you can satisfy your appetite for sushi along with an assortment of exotic drinks for a relatively low price. At the bottom of the page, the author has also included the relevant addresses, phone numbers, and “happy hour” times for each of these three establishments.


Anyone looking for date night on a dime in Scottsdale, Arizona should try a little bar-hopping. Sushi bar, that is. The key to scoring great food and drink for a song while making the evening last long enough to thoroughly enjoy it is taking advantage of the overlapping Happy Hour specials offered by three great little downtown restaurants on or near North Scottsdale Road.

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Debt Management Tips for Every Individual

March 26th, 2009

Denied? Due to bad credit?Today’s article on debt management tips was discovered in one of those folders that I have had on my hard drive for a while but never got around to actually using. It provides some good general advice for managing an individual’s finances, including any debt that you have managed to acquire. Of course, these are exactly the kinds of tips that our federal government will never follow, which is why the national debt of the USA is now over $11 trillion.


When the guy from Blue Dart knocked at Joe’s door you could notice that his face had become tense. It was a reminder from his lender that the amount overdue had to be paid. Actually Joe had to pay $330 to the lender, but was unable to pay the amount due to lack of finances.

The hero of the story can be anybody, even you! Today paying off your creditor(s) is the single biggest problem facing many people. It is very important that we understand the importance of saving money and do not unnecessarily burden ourselves with debt. Here are a few debt management tips that we can follow to reduce our debt considerably:

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Survey Adventure Program Discovered

March 25th, 2009

As I was doing some blog commenting on other sites earlier tonight, I ran across a new paid survey site called Survey Adventure. As an affiliate program, it is relatively new to the Commission Junction network and pays $4.50 per lead. In order for the lead to qualify, visitors must complete at least the third page of the registration form. According to the Detail page at CJ, there is a one-time bonus of $200 offered for “Number of Actions equal to or greater than 250″ and another bonus of $500 when you reach the 500 mark. It is not clear whether you must gather the required number of leads within one month (the standard pay period) in order to qualify for the bonuses or if they are looking at your overall total since the beginning.

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When Should You See Your Doctor for a Sore Throat?

March 24th, 2009

strep-throat-diagnosis.JPGToday’s health-related article by Dr. Kristie Leong provides some useful tips regarding the symptoms and diagnosis of strep throat infections. By being able to differentiate between the annoying but usually harmless viral sore throats and the potentially more dangerous versions caused by bacteria, we can determine whether or not medical attention and the use of antibiotics is really necessary.


There’s nothing fun about having a sore throat. Although most cases of sore throat are caused by a virus and will resolve on their own within a week, in certain situations you’ll want to rule out a strep infection. It’s fairly common in the late winter and early spring for a strep infection of the throat to be the cause of throat pain and you may need antibiotic treatment to prevent potential step throat complications. Do you know when you should see your doctor for a sore throat?

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Plant Based Sweeteners: What Are Your Options?

March 23rd, 2009


If you are concerned about the health effects of artificial sweeteners, this article by Kristie Leong provides some information about natural plant based sweeteners that may be used as viable alternatives. This has always been a tricky area for me in terms of nutrition vs. taste when it comes to sweetening beverages. Although I like the taste of iced tea and cola drinks, most of the “diet” versions of these have never really appealed to me, and there are also health concerns with some of the chemicals used in these types of beverages. I usually wind up going back to the regular colas (fortunately, I can make a good iced tea myself), but these can be problematic as well, especially since they started replacing the natural sugar with that high fructose corn syrup stuff, which is pretty hard on the kidneys and can even promote diabetes.

Frankly, I wish that the soda manufacturers could just go back to using good old cane sugar but reduce the amount slightly so that we’re not consuming too many calories. But until the political winds shift enough to allow for this, I might look into some of these alternative sweeteners and see if I can manage to make a decent tasting homemade soda.

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Making Money with Mystery Shopping

March 22nd, 2009


With the economy officially in recession, many people are looking for an extra form of income. This article by T. Hillukka is a review of opportunities for making money with mystery shopping companies. It includes both the benefits and drawbacks of mystery shopping. Don’t forget to click on the image to the left to if you want to check out one of the most informative books on mystery shopping available through Amazon.


Mystery shoppers, secret shoppers, and secret consumers – they all have one thing in common. They make money by trying out various products. It is not all fun and games, though. Is mystery shopping more work than it is worth?

Mystery shopping can be a great money-making opportunity if you do it right. The most important thing to remember is that you should never have to pay to sign up with a mystery shopping company. They should be paying you, not the other way around.

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Spammers Distribute Fake Microsoft Lottery Emails

March 21st, 2009

spam-scam.jpg It has been a few months since I reported on a spam incident, but this week has seen a slight increase in the volume of these types of emails, so I might as well share with you the latest version just in case someone is searching to verify its legitimacy. This particular message is a variation of the bogus lottery winnings scam that I reported on back in June 2007 when there were lots of “Irish lottery winnings” being received from unsolicited emails.

At first glance, it appears to originate from the UK but a savvy observer will note that this is likely a variation of the Nigerian 419 advance fee fraud scam. In this particular scam, people who actually respond to the message will receive a reply from the spammers stating that they need to send in some type of deposit (usually a fairly small amount at first) in order to verify their identity and claim the prize.

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