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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 14:56

I love me. I love me not?

Written by Marion Syversen

It's February and love is in the air. Celebrating Valentine's Day really focuses my mind on love - and money.  I think about my beautiful gender and how we think about finances, and I worry about us women. 

The growing field of behavioral finance examines the differences in men and women and money. And as a woman, there is reason for worry.

Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:34

Remember the Maine (tax changes)

Written by Anne Powelson

The Federal Tax Code and the impact of the fiscal cliff received most of the publicity recently. But Maine also has changes affecting your take home pay and 2012 tax preparation. Some of these changes affect everyone having taxes withheld. Others affect fewer filers, but can have a big impact on their Maine taxes.

Thursday, 20 December 2012 11:15

Financial awesomeness in five simple steps

Written by Marion Syversen

You want to be financially awesome, and you like simple ways to achieve your goals. Well, chummy, here are five simple steps to financial awesomeness. With this caveat: I say these steps are simple, and they are. But if financial awesomeness were easy everyone would be awesome and sadly, they're not.

But everyone could be awesome. Because these steps just take a little of your abundant stubbornness used for good; a bit of determination in the face of temptation and a willingness to forgive your wonderful self when you fail. Listen to me: I know you can do this, my friend. I believe in you.

Thursday, 13 December 2012 12:36

Stumbles ahead of the tax cliff

Written by Anne Powelson

 Negotiations for the 'fiscal tax cliff' concern mostly 2013 tax rates, deductions and credits. But there are several stumbling blocks ahead affecting 2012 taxes; the taxes to be filed starting in January.

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 23:20

Celebrating with friends and family

Written by Marion Syversen

The next few months will be filled with opportunities to celebrate with friends and family.

Celebrating any event or holiday is about the time shared together and the affection of loved ones. It is not about lists, or things to do, and NOT about stress - especially the stress of finances.

And yet, the stress of finances can be a real issue. Costs for many items, like food, are rising. Feeding the hungry hordes this season can cost some serious money. So let's think about ideas on enjoying a beautiful and frugal holiday meal.

Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:01

Trying to avoid trouble

Written by Marion Syversen

I try to avoid trouble. I try to follow the best advice and latest research for my health, safety, marriage and other relationships.

Most arguments, according to the research in marriage, concern not the kids but money and sex. I'm not going to talk about sex, but I will show you a few avoidable pitfalls about your money.

A recent survey found that 41 percent of partners disagreed about what their joint life in retirement would be. Not only are couples arguing about how they will live in retirement, they are also arguing about exactly when retirement will begin.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 15:56

The best of both worlds

Written by Marion Syversen

Men, women and money. Though for years a neglected topic of research, the differences between the genders in perception, shopping habits and nuanced capabilities is now a hot topic in the field of behavioral economics.

The most recent research that I've read was a survey by the Bank of Montreal. The study began with a simple query: Which gender would win in a battle of investing returns? Remembering that these findings are generalities, let's find out more about style differences between the genders.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:37

Tax cliffs

Written by Anne Powelson

Many tax benefits gradually fadeout over as income increases. But not all: Tax cliffs have a hard and fast line where $1 more in income can cost far more in tax benefits. Don't believe me? Check out these three tax cliffs.

Earned Income Credit and Investment Income: Threshold not to pass: $3,200 in investment income. Benefit at risk: from $2 to $5,891. Earned income credit is a reward for working and is figured on four criteria: Adjusted Gross Income, Earned Income, Marital Status and Qualified Children. The credit is not a set amount; it varies from as little as $2 to as much as $5,891. But all along the range, if your investment income exceeds the cap ($3,200 in 2012) you're no longer eligible. Investment income can come from interest, dividends, sales of stocks, redeeming savings bonds AND rental property.

Here's a story that might make you feel better if you weren't one of the 10,000 Mainers receiving a rebate under the Affordable Care Act. Turns out, in some cases the rebates will be taxable.

Why might these refunds be considered taxable? If you are refunded an expense you deducted in a prior year, then the refund can be taxable. This is most commonly seen in state tax refunds. If you deduct state income taxes on your federal return and receive a refund from the state, that refund may be taxable in the tax year it is received. The taxable amount is never in excess of the amount which provided you with a tax savings. As an example, an individual with only one deduction has $6,700 in state taxes withheld in 2011. On her federal tax return, she itemizes state taxes withheld as shown on her W-2. But in this example, she owes $0 to the state, so in 2012 she gets all $6,700 back. The $6,700 is not all taxable, only $1,000, which is the difference between what she'd itemized that year and the standard deduction for 2011: $5,700.

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 16:59

Getting ready for college

Written by Marion Syversen

Got a student getting ready for college? That new life will bring many new experiences from exciting and wonderful to the bittersweet. Tackling money solo, may also be a new challenge. But as a parent, helping your voting-age scholar become financially independent can add awesomeness' to the many life lessons of your college student. 

We have discussed the yummy world of budgets before. Budgets are the go-to tool for helping us track and control our money lives. They boil down to two simple truths: money which comes IN through passive (like rental property) or active (money earned from a job) income. And money that goes OUT- paying bills, or cash set-aside in savings. In your student's transition into adulthood getting on a great money track early can build a great foundation that lasts for life.

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