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BUSINESS
April 21, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Last-minute tax filers who were due money back from the Internal Revenue Service are just getting, or still awaiting, their refunds. Here are ways to decide what to do with the cash. Kiplinger.com says refunds, which average around $3,000, should go "to bolster your personal balance sheet. " First, consider giving yourself a raise, this post suggests, "by adjusting your tax withholding to increase your take-home pay. " More immediately, use the money you got back from the IRS to pay off credit-card debt, or set it aside for an emergency fund, or boost a savings, retirement, or college account.
BUSINESS
April 14, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Summer is coming, and many of us are planning vacations. Don't cloud good memories you make by piling up vacation bills that take years to pay off. A little planning can keep you within budget. "The 'anything goes' spirit that is so intoxicating during a trip can turn a little . . . toxic afterward, when you're home facing staggering credit card bills," notes this post that we found at realsimple.com. To avoid that trap, plan your vacation - where you're going, how you'll get there, and what you'll do once you arrive.
BUSINESS
March 24, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Job interviewers are looking for something. But what? And how do you answer those intentionally tricky questions? Here are ways to navigate the minefield of the interview room. Interviewers want job applicants to be likable, to stand out, to ask questions. That's part of what business writer Jeff Haden says in this LinkedIn post titled "What Interviewers Wish They Could Tell Every Job Candidate. " At the end of an interview, according to Haden, employers should like it when you "do what great salespeople do and ask for the job. " Then, follow up. Employers appreciate a note of thanks.
BUSINESS
March 17, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
The workings of the U.S. Social Security Administration can be clouded by jargon and bureaucracy. Check these sites for answers to big questions and how to deal with those bureaucrats. The retirement "estimator" at Social Security's ssa.gov site will give you a ballpark number for what you can expect in those benefits at retirement. The estimator uses your own information on record with the Social Security Administration. Other links from the same page will estimate your life expectancy and tell you how to begin an online application for benefits.
BUSINESS
March 10, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Starting a business is complicated, but there is support for entrepreneurs. And advice can come even from unusual sources. Example: the ex-Navy SEAL with lessons in business leadership. Hard-core leadership lessons are taught at Entrepreneur.com by the likes of well-named Jeff Boss, a former Navy SEAL, now a business consultant. In this recent post, Boss describes the ways "a leader should show up. " That includes dressing the part, listening, and being candid. And, he says, there are no excuses: "Tired after a rough night sleep?
BUSINESS
March 3, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
The hard winter may have slowed car sales. So, if you're in the market, there might be more good deals out there than usual in the coming weeks. Before hitting the lots, check out these sites. "Confessions of a Car Salesman," at the Popular Mechanics site, is labeled "anonymous" but has the ring of truth in it. The question-and-answer post explains, for example, that the salesman really must go talk to the manager on every deal, because - in addition to the odd psychology of car dealing - the manager holds all the cards and typically keeps information from the salesman on the bottom-line price for any given car on the lot. Usually, he says, "it's the hardcore hagglers that get the best prices.
BUSINESS
February 24, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
In the run-up to tax day, April 15, when returns are due to the IRS, you may have to unwind some of the complicated new tax rules - and fend off a few tax scams. Here is some help. The IRS last week issued its annual list of "dirty dozen tax scams" and said identity theft and phone scams lead the list. Many of the scams are perpetrated by tax filers, for example, claiming false expenses or exemptions. In the case of fraud-by-phone, the IRS says, "scams include many variations, ranging from instances where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund.
BUSINESS
February 17, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Romances, always tricky, can turn difficult when couples face financial issues. After Valentine's Day, we look at the hard facts of life and love and mingled wallets. Advice that couples "may not want to hear," outlined at About.com, includes a way for married couples to avoid some financial disagreements by maintaining separate accounts - along with a joint acccount. Writers Sheri and Bob Stritof say: "Having your own money that you can spend however you want can lessen arguments about money.
BUSINESS
February 10, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
In a power outage, utilities can't charge you for electricity they didn't deliver. But what responsibilities do they have in providing service, and what are your rights - and responsibilities - as a consumer? The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission displays the "PA Energy Consumer Bill of Rights" in this document. There's nothing specific about how your utility should respond to an outage, but it notes that utilities "are required to make necessary repairs and improvements to service and facilities.
BUSINESS
February 3, 2014 | By Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Columnist
Janet Yellen is to be sworn in Monday, the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve. Will she oversee an ongoing economic recovery? And what of the legacy of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke? Bernanke's legacy is the subject of this Breakout video at Yahoo Finance. Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, says of the exiting Fed chair, "He gets credit, and quite rightly so, for steering us clear of a depression back in 2008. " However, McBride says, it will be some time before Bernanke's real impact is known.
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