4 Smart Reasons Why You Should Do Your Own Taxes

When you get your W-2 in the mail each year, it might fill you with a bit of dread. It’s time to call your accountant, wait in line some Tuesday night in March, and pay out a hefty chunk of your refund just to get someone to type your income and taxes paid into some computer software program. It all seems like a waste of time and money, with a thankless reward of handing over a check to the government at the end of it all.

Getting married? Understand the financial implications

Getting married? Understand the financial implications

Getting married changes your financial life in profound ways. It’s not just that you’re living together or sharing expenses (you don’t need marriage to do that…), it’s that your legal and tax status changes. And while your credit rating remains individual, your future choices could be changed by what your spouse brings into the financial picture.

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5 Ways to Control Emotional Spending

Sometimes it may seem like shopping has become America’s favorite pastime. With advertising popping up everywhere—from TV to billboards to city buses— shopping seems to be everywhere. Advertisers spend billions of dollars annually convincing us that products can make us feel successful, prevent us from being bored, help us attract a partner, and a myriad of other things. With ads carefully designed to manipulate our spending habits, it’s no wonder so many people have become emotional spenders.

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The New Payday Lender Looks a Lot Like the Old Payday Lender

Apps promising to “advance” a user’s wages say they aren’t payday lenders. So what are they?

Jonathan Raines needed money. An app promised to help.

He searched online for an alternative to traditional payday lenders and came across Earnin, which offered him $100 on the spot, to be deducted from his bank account on payday.

“There are no installments and no really high interest,” he told me, comparing the app favorably to a payday lender. “It’s better, in that sense.”

Earnin didn’t charge Raines a fee, but asked that he “tip” a few dollars on each loan, with no penalty if he chose not to. It seemed simple. But nine months later, what was originally a stopgap measure has become a crutch.

“You borrow $100, tip $9, and repeat,” Raines, a highway-maintenance worker in Missouri, told me. “Well, then you do that for a bit and they raise the limit, which you probably borrow, and now you are in a cycle of get paid and borrow, get paid and borrow.” Raines said he now borrows about $400 each pay cycle.

“I know it’s a responsibility thing, but once you are in that cycle, you are stuck,” Raines told me. Borrowing against his own paycheck hasn’t made stretching his money any easier. Especially because the app changes its terms based on users’ cashflow: Earnin requires constant access to users’ bank-account balances, and when its algorithms detect that a user might not be able to repay, the app lowers the borrowing limit. (A representative from Earnin said the company tells borrowers two days before their next check what the next borrowing maximum is, and that it sets these limits so users can’t borrow more than they’ve earned in a pay period.)

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