changing tax laws - are you up-to-date?

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changing tax laws - are you up-to-date?

Taxes are a complicated subject and making the slightest mistake could end up costing you quite a bit in penalties. Do you spend time each year keeping up with the changing tax laws? These laws change more often than you might think. Before you consider filing your taxes on your own, stop and think about what it will cost you to have them professionally prepared versus paying the penalties for making mistakes. My site includes information about the ever-changing tax laws as I know them to be now. The information here is only meant to guide you to making the best possible decisions for your personal situation.

How Can Your Smartphone Save (Or Earn) You Money?

If you're considering the purchase of your first smartphone, you may be nervous about how this phone's data consumption may impact your monthly bill. Fortunately, there are a number of different smartphone applications (or apps) that use very little data while helping you save (or even earn) money -- essentially helping your new phone pay for itself. Read on to learn more about the different categories of money-saving and income-earning apps that may be able to help you make the most of your new smartphone.

Store loyalty and price checking apps

If you tend to do most of your grocery or clothes shopping at the same few stores, you may already have a store loyalty card that tracks your savings and rewards you through fuel or merchandise discounts. Adding your smartphone to this process can help maximize your savings by allowing you to load in-store coupons straight to your rewards card, as well as browse weekly ads and sales flyers. By planning your weekly meals around the items on sale each week, you'll be able to avoid paying full price for just about everything in the store. 

Some stores and independent startups have also launched a variety of price-checking apps. With just a few clicks, you can find the lowest local price on anything from gasoline to new shoes, as well as learn about what products are currently in stock nearby. 

Payday loan apps

For those who regularly utilize payday loans to help cover the bills between paychecks, you may be accustomed to visiting a storefront lender and providing copies of your last few paystubs to verify your income and employment before receiving funds. However, there are now several different payday loan apps that can provide you with instant cash, often at a lower interest rate than you'll find at storefront payday lenders.

The processes used by these apps vary -- some apps allow you to only withdraw money you've already earned from your employer, but do not charge interest on this transaction, just requesting a voluntary tip. This loan model can be especially useful for hourly employees who are paid only once every two weeks or once a month. For example, if you racked up lots of overtime last week and won't see that pay until next week, you may need a short-term advance to tide you over until you get your check.

Other payday loan apps are more similar to storefront models, and may require you to grant access to your electronic bank account so that the money can be automatically withdrawn. However, like other payday loans, you'll generally be able to request an extension of the repayment period, and can even do this through the app itself. When apps like this are not a practical solution to your money troubles though, you may benefit from visiting a storefront payday loan center, such as EZ Money.

Secret shopper apps

While there are many ways to quickly and simply save money by using your smartphone, earning money by putting forth the same low effort can be a bit more challenging. Fortunately, there are now a number of "secret shopper" apps that can reward you with cash or merchandise simply by verifying the location of a new sweater display at a clothing store, or taking a photograph of the snack food aisle at a grocery store. 

These apps work by pinpointing your location through GPS and providing you with information on available store surveys nearby. If you live in an area where many stores employ secret shoppers for quality control, you may find that there are already a number of in-store surveys at locations you commonly frequent, removing the need for you to make a special trip to take advantage of these money-making opportunities.

When utilized properly, a smartphone can be a valuable tool -- not just to help you communicate with family and friends via text message or phone call, but to help you gather relevant information and make the most economical and informed choice in any purchasing situation.