In this issue:
Atlanta Named Most Frugal City in U.S.
Save on Summer Travel
Happy 65th Birthday, Boomers. Now what?
|Atlanta Named Most Frugal City in U.S.
Recently, Coupons.com released its list of the Most Frugal Cities in the United States, and for the second year in a row Atlanta came in number one. Atlanta was also the number one city when it came to using coupons on mobile phones to get deals. According to Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com's Household Savings Expert, Atlanta residents are saving almost $1,100 a year through coupons and mobile deals. People in Atlanta use coupons 10 times more often than other U.S. residents. Atlanta uses coupons twice as much as Tampa, Florida, which was the second most frugal city.
Theories about why Atlantans are so frugal vary, but the most common is that the city's residents closed their wallets during the recession. Residents of one of the hardest hit cities in the country, Atlantans had to find ways to save money in order to make ends meet. Now most financial experts believe Atlanta will remain one of the most frugal cities even as the economy gets better. One of the easiest ways to save money is by downloading mobile apps available for smart phones. These programs allow shoppers to save on the go now that a number of stores will allow users to show codes from phones rather than printed coupons. Apps such as Groupon, Living Social, ScoutMob, Grocery iQ, and GeoQpons allow shoppers to save money without spending hours pouring over newspaper advertisements.
Web sites like Coupons.com give users the option to print the coupons and take them to the store. These coupons are often better deals than what is available in the newspaper and can be used in conjunction with store sales. If you aren't already living frugally, now is the time to make the change. Think of what your family could do with $1,100 a year.
Article courtesy of www.examiner.com
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|Save on Summer Travel
Summer is quickly approaching, so before you load the kids into the car to escape town, there are a few money-saving tips you might want to consider.
When traveling internationally:
• Visit destinations where the U.S. dollars is closest in value to the local currency (currency in the Caribbean is tied to the U.S. dollar, for example)
• Look for all-inclusive packages, such as resorts or cruises, and pay upfront in U.S. dollars
• Ask your travel agent about locations that may be less costly, as they are in their 'off season'
Ways to save money on hotels:
• Ask your travel agent about upgrading your hotel reservation to a room with two king size beds instead of getting two hotel rooms when traveling in groups or with kids
• Ask your travel agent to find hotels where kids stay for free when traveling with kids
• Ask your travel agent to find a hotel room with a kitchenette so you can prepare a few meals yourself instead of eating out for every meal
• Ask your travel agent to suggest properties that offer complimentary breakfast or heavy hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon.
When traveling by car:
• Pack the car as light as possible - the more weight, the harder the car works and the more gas you use
• When renting a car for a large group of people, renting one SUV saves on gas mileage vs. renting two smaller cars
• Make sure tire pressure is accurate so that gas is spent efficiently
• Use only the grade level of gas that your car owner's manual calls for, nothing more
• Use cruise control to run the engine efficiently and save on gas
Ways to save at home while you are away:
• Turn the air conditioning off or down
• Put your lights on timers
• Unplug large appliances like TVs and computers
• Turn off automatic sprinklers
• Buy travel insurance--it may cost more upfront, but has the potential to save you thousands
• Fly in and out of airports that may be farther outside of the city to get cheaper flights, then take public transportation into the city
• If a family member has a business trip, consider adding your vacation onto the end of the trip so there is one less plane ticket to pay for
• Consider a volunteer vacation--the volunteer portion of your travel may be a tax write-off
Article courtesy of www.travelsense.org
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|Happy 65th Birthday, Boomers. Now what?
The first wave of of baby boomers -- including Cher, Steven Spielberg, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and nearly 3 million other Americans -- will turn 65 this year. If you're among those celebrating in 2011 or the next few years, you may be feeling a bit gloomy about a birthday that officially crowns you a senior citizen. You're too young to be old, right?
Adding insult to arthritis, this big birthday doesn't offer all the perks it used to: You can't collect full Social Security benefits at age 65 anymore; boomers qualify between 66 and 67, depending on their birth year. And most "senior" discounts -- from travel bargains to blue-plate specials -- kick in from 50 to 60 nowadays, as horrifying as that may be. (See seniordiscounts.com for a comprehensive list.) That's not to say that this trip over the hill isn't a financial milestone at all. There are still a few important actions to take and things to think about as you approach this new mark of, um, maturity.
1. Get set with Medicare
"If you don't take Medicare at the appropriate time, you face a lifetime of penalties and will have gaps in coverage," says Ilene Stein, a lawyer at the Medicare Rights Center. You can enroll, at medicare.gov or by calling (800) 772-1213, from three months before you turn 65, and Medicare will kick in the first day of your birth month. You have three months after your birthday to enroll without penalty -- unless you're still working and have comparable insurance through your job, in which case you have eight months after that coverage ends to join up.
Deciding between original Medicare (Parts A and B) and privately run Advantage plans (Part C) can be overwhelming. But you can compare premiums and out-of-pocket costs for all your options at medicare.gov. Just be sure to narrow your Advantage choices to plans that get four or five stars from Medicare.
2. Slash your taxes
Facing higher costs under health care reform, some plans may slash benefits or raise premiums. At 65 you're entitled to some tax breaks that can add up to serious savings. These include:
A larger federal deduction. The standard deduction increases for taxpayers 65 and older -- good news for those who don't itemize. For singles it goes from $5,700 to $7,100; for couples in which one partner is 65 it rises from $11,400 to $12,500; when both spouses are 65 or older, it's $13,600. That last boost, for those in the 28 percent bracket, knocks $616 off your tax bill.
Property tax breaks. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia give seniors a break on real estate taxes for a primary residence, says analyst Cathleen Calhoun of tax information service CCH; in the vast majority of them you must be 65 to qualify. The deals vary: In Ohio the Homestead Exemption cuts about $400 off yearly property taxes. In Illinois the assessment on your home is frozen when you or your spouse turns 65. Check with your tax assessor's office to see what's offered and if there are any income limits or prerequisites.
3. Assess retirement plans
Sixty-five may no longer be the retirement turning point it used to be, but it's still a watershed year psychologically. If you're still working -- nearly half of leading-edge boomers are, a recent AARP survey found -- you may be feeling an itch to get out. Put that desire to use by thinking about how you'd like to spend your retirement. Will you travel? Will you work at all? Will you move?
Next, figure out how much your dream life will cost, and stress test your nest egg. The Retirement Income calculator can help you determine how much income your savings, Social Security, and any pension will provide. If it isn't enough, you could dial back your plans or work a few more years to postpone drawing on your savings and collecting Social Security. Delaying the latter beyond your full retirement age increases your benefit 8 percent a year. Determine what your payout will be with the Retirement Estimator at ssa.gov. Who says you can't always get what you want? Oh, just some old dudes.
Article courtesy of money.cnn.com
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