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  • Get a bigger check in the mail with these finance facts

    By MP Dunleavey, Editor of

    What's the Payoff?
    By knowing how to claim the right deductions and tax credits, you'll pay less to Uncle Sam.

    Why You Shouldn't Avoid It

    Filling out complicated forms can be tedious and intimidating, but if you are only taking the standard deduction, you may well be paying too much. Photo by iStock.

    1. Consider itemizing
    There are a couple of ways to lower your taxable income, and thus pay less: You can either take the standard deduction or itemize.

    · The standard deduction is a set amount that you may deduct if you do not itemize. It's $11,900 for married couples, filing jointly.

    · Itemizing means adding up various separate deductions using Schedule A (an IRS form) to see if the total is higher than the standard deduction.

    But is it worth the effort? My colleague Justine Lackey, president of Good Cents Bookkeeping in Ossining, NY, says many people should itemize, especially if you own your home (or bought, sold or refinanced a home), h

    ...Read More »

  • Spring is about to be sprung. That means fashion shows, outdoor parties and, of course, the upcoming wedding season, encouraging us to stretch our wardrobe dollars to the max. But what if I told you that you could wear one single dress five different ways? Stylist and fashion maven Amy Salinger explains how to take full advantage of the versatility of one single dress.

    Also See: Beauty Money Wasters

    Start with the "LBD"

    Salinger suggests starting with a black sheath dress, also known as the "little black dress." "It's one of those pieces that is universally flattering," she says. "The great thing about it is that you can get a quality little black dress for under $100 dollars, sometimes under $50…Find a great one that you can wear multiple ways."

    Also See: Fitness Fads that Are a Waste of Money

    Look #1: Casual Weekend

    You might not expect a little black dress to transform for a casual weekend look but it is possible. Add a cross-body messenger bag, layer with a ja

    ...Read More »

  • By Raechel Conover,

    This February we invited readers to take the Frugal Month Challenge and commit to what some have called a "no-buy month." My family of three embarked on this cheap challenge and now I'm back to share the results. But first a quick refresher on the rule: Buy nothing extra -- only the bare necessities. For my family, that meant we paid rent and other monthly bills and bought groceries, dog food, and gas, but that's pretty much all the spending we did. Doesn't sound like much fun, does it? Surprisingly it wasn't too bad -- and wait until you see how much we saved.

    Learn ways to save money on monthly expenses.

    The Results. Okay, I'll admit it: I wasn't a huge believer that this cheap challenge would save us much more than $50 by the end of the month. I thought our budget was pretty tight to begin with, but the results have proved otherwise. During the month of February my family ended up saving $472. That's right -- 472 big ones. Here's a look at where we cut expenses:

    Related: Which is

    ...Read More »

  • Some tips for first time tax filers.

    Some tips for first time tax filers.

    Don't have an accountant boyfriend or mom and dad helping you file your tax return this year? Whatever, you got this! Cosmopolitan columnist and LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel dishes on all the need-to-know financial info for tax season.

    By Dara Adeeyo

    Where do I even start?
    First, decide if you need to call an accountant or not. If you have simple taxes, you won't need to contact one.

    How do I figure out if I have simple taxes?
    That's easy. This will be super straight-forward if you are a standard, salaried employee without fancy stock options or partnerships who doesn't freelance on the side. You don't own a home and aren't planning any big life changes.

    What's the best way to file my taxes?
    Well, a lot of people prefer e-filing. It's faster, more convenient and more secure than paper filing. You'll get confirmation within 48 hours that your tax return was received. And, you can get your refund (if you have one) deposited directly to your account within as few as 10 days.

    ...Read More »

  • That burger costs a lot more in other countries.

    People complain about the high price of their daily coffee fix, but after comparing the price tags on Starkbucks lattes in other countries, it seems like Americans are getting a pretty sweet deal.

    Also on Shine: The Most-Expensive Starbucks Drink. Worth It?

    According to this breakdown by the Wall Street Journal, the same grande latte that goes for about $4.30 in New York costs the equivalent of $9.83 in Oslo, Norway. A Starbucks craving while you're in Stockholm, Sweden, will run you about $7.40. But a 16-ounce cup of the stuff costs just $2.80 in New Delhi, India.

    Also on Shine: The Word to Watch Out For on Fast-Food Menus? Fresh

    Fast food outlets may seem to be on every corner in the U.S., and the prices all seem to be about the same. But the strength of a country's currency and the availability of a given ingredient can have a radical effect on those prices once you try to buy a familiar fast food product elsewhere.

    In Venezuela, a McDonald's Big Mac costs a little more than $9

    ...Read More »


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  • Bad financial habits to ditch in 2013
    Bad financial habits to ditch in 2013

    Don’t let these bad financial habits keep you from your long-term spending goals. Identify your weaknesses and start remedying them. …