Is the Earned Income Credit good tax policy?

While filing my taxes a couple of weeks ago, I notices that the EIC or Earned Income Credit was a major factor in reducing the amount of tax that I owed and greatly increasing the amount of my refund. I have usually assumed that the EIC was simply a liberal-socialist attempt at wealth redistribution and even though I benefit from the policy, I generally voiced opposition to this particular idea because I thought it was a handout and undermined free market principles. However, I started to do a little research into the history of the EIC, I began to realize that this policy gets nearly universal support from both sides of the political spectrum.

3 notes about your IRS tax refund

Nearly 50 percent of US tax filers will be due a refund this tax season and that number continues to grow.

Tips for Excel spreadsheet budgets

The Microsoft Office suite of programs is nearly universal when it comes to personal computers. Nearly everyone has a working knowledge of Word and is familiar with PowerPoint. Outlook, Microsoft’s email software, also has wide use and acceptance. However, my favorite MS program is Excel. When I worked as a soccer coach, I used Excel in almost every facet of my program, from budgets to planning practice to recruiting to filling out rosters. There was almost nothing that I did in the office without Excel.

4 Tidbits of Financial Wisdom Straight From the Bible

old bible money

This is a guest post by Pastor Eric Johnston of the Christian Prayer Center, a site to post and receive prayer requests.

At the Christian Prayer Center, we often get prayer requests asking for miracle financial blessings that include new homes, luxury automobiles, fancy motorcycles and the like. Instead of people praying for wisdom in effectively managing their finances, many modern day Christians pray that they will win large sums of money in a lottery, or receive another type of large windfall such as an inheritance from a lost uncle. Although miraculous financial events do occasionally happen to faithful devotees of Christ, we can look to the Bible for common, sensible advice in how we should behave when it comes to our pocket books and financial goals.

Tax penalty scare

Our household taxes are always been fairly complicated. This is mostly due to the fact that Mrs. Stew and I have always had multiple streams of income. While God has blessed me with steady, full-time jobs over the course of our marriage, we have always had to supplement our income with part-time, self-employed and contract labor sources of income. So when I go to calculate our gross income every April, I always have to account for a pile of W-2 forms, 1099 forms and other miscellaneous income . . . and then come the deductions . . .  Add to that the complexity of the IRS tax code in this country, needless to say, I make a mistake once in a while. Usually the mistakes are pretty minor, although I did have to pay a penalty a couple of years ago when I mistakenly thought that we qualified for the Earned Income Credit.

Footloose, Blue Light Specials and Layaway

KMart and Sears Layaway commercials are some of the most unintentionally hilarious advertisements on television right now. They are always met with smirks and sarcasm by Mrs. Stew and I. Layaway? Seriously?

Sears and KMart are in the midst of conducting a full-court press on behalf of their layaway programs without seeming to realize that layaway is actually a worse deal than just buying an item with a credit card. Layaway might be Kmart Smart, but it sure is not frugal money smart.

5 Reasons Why a 5 Year ARM Made Sense

Last spring, my family and I made the commitment to purchase a home. Our new mortgage is a Adjustable Rate Mortgage that is scheduled to adjust in about five years. In my first post about this topic, many readers questioned the wisdom of getting a 5/1 ARM. The point that the readers made was solid: interest rates are at the lowest in years and likely the lowest that they will ever be, therefore, it follows that we should have locked in a 15 or 30 year rate. I understand the wisdom of that line of reasoning, yet we still chose to go with the 5/1 ARM.

Impulse buy or once in a lifetime opportunity?

Earlier this summer, Mrs. Stew and I went on an overnight trip in honor of our 10 year anniversary. We were able to stay at one of the nicest vacation venues that either of us had ever experienced due to an offer through a website called LivingSocial. We got a fantastic price because everything came together at once: available when we needed it and when we could afford to take advantage. Last week, Ace Hardware held a “bucket” sale, meaning that you received 25% off everything that could be fit into a 10-gallon Ace buck. My timing was perfect as we needed a new bathroom fan . . . which fit in the bucket . . . I got a steal.

April 25th Family Finance Carnival

Yes, I am aware that today is May fifth. It is Cinco de Mayo, why wouldn’t I know the date? It would be like not knowing the date of the Fourth of July. Of course, my Spanish is a bit rusty, so anything is possible . . . That said, due a number of factors, Gather Little by Little is hosting the April twenty-fifth edition of the Clariity Family¬† Finance Carnival on May fifth. Go figure . . . and while you are figuring, please check out some of the top personal finance articles from the last week:

Auto loan refinance

Last week, I decided to refinance the loan on our van. Interest rates have dropped so low, that I cannot put it off any longer. Furthermore, our credit score has recovered so well from our 0% APR balance transfer days, that loan companies are offering really incredible rates to customers like me.

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