Sunday, May 5, 2013

Effective Tax Rate

Now that taxes have been turned in (unless you filed for the 6-month extension) you can calculate what your effective tax rate was for the following year.  I am only going to look at Form 1040 which is probably the most commonly used form for federal taxes.  Calculating this percentage is quite simple: you take line 61 which is your total tax and divide it by line 22 which is your total income for the previous year.  For 2012, mine came out to around 5%, mostly because I didn't make a lot of money so deductions and credits had a large impact on the overall percentage.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Annual Credit Report

If you haven't already, you should take advantage of the free annual credit report you are eligible to get each year.  Make sure you get it at which is the official site.  While you don't get to see your FICO score, you do get to look through all the accounts you have currently open.  The accounts will show the status for each month it has been opened.  Hopefully, you will only see green OKs which means that each month you either fully paid off your account or you didn't draw a balance.  Yellow and red symbols usually indicate late payments and will have a negative impact on your credit score.  If you see an unfamiliar credit card or loan taken out under your name, you may be the victim of identity fraud.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Vacation Budgeting

Some prefer approaching vacations like the open road.  You start driving and see where it takes you.  However, financially this can cause lots of issues making your vacation activities more expensive or, even worse, impossible.  For example, in my last post, if you plan ahead and carry enough cash, you may end up paying some extra fees whether by using your credit card or from merchants who only accept cash.  We only encountered one such situation on our vacation: one of the holiday parks we were planning on staying at only accepted cash so we were forced to try another place with a higher rate.  While these may be minor annoyances, they can add up over the course of your vacation and can be avoided with a bit of forethought.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vacation Credit Card

Just coming back from a month long trip in New Zealand, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about vacation. I'll probably split this topic over the next few posts with this one focusing on how to get access to foreign money.

Vacations are important for any balanced lifestyle.  It offers the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as well as seeing new places and exploring new cultures.  If taken at home, you are able to rest your body and mind to better prepare yourself for work when it resumes.  Taken abroad, vacations offer the chance to break out of your comfort zone and enrich yourself with new experiences.  Of course, you can always also explore new activities and areas in your hometown and you can relax abroad, but I find that most often that travelling to some place new invokes a greater sense of adventure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How Much Fruits/Veggies Cost

Here is a really interesting chart about how much Americans pay for fruits and vegetables.  I found this article on National Geographic and they used research from the USDA in this colorful chart.  They looked at the differences in cost per serving vs cost per pound and fresh fruits/veggies vs frozen vs canned vs dried vs juice.  These obviously seem cheap since they are on a serving level and I'm sure we all have different expectations of how many servings we actually eat for a given meal.  But it shows that fruits and vegetables are not that pricey.  Apparently, the most bang for your buck lies in green beans and watermelons.  What would be even more interesting if they had a chart for costs per nutritional value if there was some metric to use for that.