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Couple Learns the Hard Way About Posting Activity on Facebook

If you use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, be very careful what you post.  The CNN video above is about a couple learning this the hard way.  The girlfriend posted on her Facebook page that she was heading to a concert with her fiancé.  Later hidden cameras ended up catching 2 men breaking […]

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Practice Trading Stocks at UMOO.com

February 27, 2009 | Stocks | 2 Comments

umoo-sm

Recently a co-worker told me that he was considering investing about $2,000 in the stock market.  He had never purchased individual stocks in his lifetime.  One thing that I highly suggested to him, among others, was to practice trading stocks for a few months with fake money so he could learn the basics and determine how he would perform.

One service that I told him to consider was UMOO.com to practice trading stocks.  UMOO.com is a virtual trading platform offering users a chance to participate in real time fantasy stock-trading tournaments for fun or using actual money. You can practice for free or join real money games to win real money.  

If you want to trade with real money, you pay a fee (buy-in) in order to enter a tournament of your choice, where you receive virtual money to build and cultivate virtual portfolios based on real-time stock market quotes in competitive trading tournaments.

The objective of the players is to earn the highest returns on their portfolios. Throughout the tournament, players are benchmarked against others in real time; at the end of the tournament the winners are those with the highest returns relative to the other traders in the tournament.

The winners receive cash prizes according to the payout structure of the tournament.  Real-time market data and a variety of information and research/reference tools are offered on the UMOO platform to help traders make informed dynamic decisions while trading, as well as all the trading tools of the real markets, including limit and stop loss orders and the ability to sell short.

Below are some screenshots of UMOO.com of how to build a portfolio.

 (Click to View)

ummo-portfolio-tools1   ummo-choose-way-to-build-portfolio1   ummo-search-and-pick-stocks1  

ummo-buy-stocks1   ummo-buy-stocks-screen1  ummo-my-portfolio1

Visit Umoo.com for a free trial or join real money games.

Bank of America, Give the Taxpayers their Money Back

February 27, 2009 | Banking | My Ramblings | No Comments

bank-of-america-stealing-tarp-money

Have you ever loaned or given someone money who you thought really needed help only to find out that soon after they spent the money on something lavish like a big screen TV or vacation without first paying you back?  How did that make you feel?  

Well I hope you are outraged, as I am, about the news of Bank of American paying bonuses of $3.6 billion when they were given $45 billion of taxpayer TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money due to bank’s potential collapse  (see Show me the  TARP Money) .  

As far as I’m concerned, the bonus money needs to return to the government.  That’s our money and the employees of Bank of America didn’t earn or deserve it.  The bank was on the verge of collapse before Merrill Lynch & Co. merged with it.  

Merrill Lynch, a New York-based securities firm, lost a whopping $15.8 billion in the fourth quarter of last year and they are paying out bonuses.  What is wrong with this picture?  Bonuses should be paid when a company meets goals, not when they are on the verge of collapse and the government has to infuse cash just to keep it a float.  Some people really need to go to jail for this.

Yesterday, Kenneth Lewis, C.E.O of Bank of America Corp., flew in on the company’s very expensive jet to testify for four hours at New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s offices about the $3.6 billion in bonuses.  As a result, a subpoena has been issued to Bank of America to produce a list of the individual bonuses.  This is after Bank of America refusing not to turn over the specific information.

The government is investigating whether Merrill Lynch broke securities laws when it paid the bonuses. There is an on-going federal probe of executive pay at banks that received money from TARP. Merrill Lynch and Bank of America have received about $45 billion in TARP money.

I encourage everyone to e-mail, call or write his or her congressman of this outrageous or possible illegal act by Bank of America.  We as taxpayers should want the $3.6 billion returned!  It’s the right thing to do!

Capital One Offering 0% Interest Credit Card for 1 Year

February 26, 2009 | Credit Cards | 1 Comment

If you have credit card debt with a high interest rate, you have to seriously consider transferring your balance to the

Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards Credit Card
.  Capital One is offering 0% purchase APR until 2/2010, after its 13.9% variable.  There is no cost to transfer your balance and no annual fee.

Below are the card’s  features:

  • 1.25 miles for each dollar spent on purchases
  • No blackout dates and no seat restrictions
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until February 2010
  • Rewards of 1.25 miles per $1 spent on purchases
  • Purchase APR: 0% until February 2010; after 13.9% variable
  • Transfer APR: 13.9% variable
  • Transfer Fee: $0
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Limit: $500–$20,000

 

You must have excellent credit to get the card.  But don’t fear if you have average credit Capital One has other cards to consider.

Visit CapitalOne.com for more information.

Top 7 FAQ’s About the 2009 Home Buyer Tax Credit

February 26, 2009 | Credit Cards | No Comments

first-time-home-buyers

The recently approved economic stimulus package includes a $8,000 maximum tax credit for first-time homebuyers in 2009.  Below are the top 7 frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about the tax credit.

1. Who is eligible for the Home Buyer tax credit?

First time home (new or used) buyers are eligible for the tax credit. You must purchase a home on or after 1/1/2009 and before 12/1/2009.  Remember the purchase date is the date when you close and the title of the property transfers to you as the home owner.

2. What is the defined as a first-time home buyer?

Per U.S. laws, a first-time home buyer is a buyer who has not owned a residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the couple’s homeownership history has to be tested to determine if they qualify for first-time home buyer status.  If one party of a married couple has owned a home within the three-year period, then the couple will not be eligible for the tax credit.

3. How is the tax credit amount calculated?

The tax credit is 10% of a house purchase price up to $8,000 maximum.

4. What are the income requirements for claiming the tax credit?

Single tax payers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 and married couples with a MAGI of more than $150,000 will see a reduction in the tax credit. For single tax payers with MAGI of more than $95,000 and married tax payers over $170,000 the tax credit is zero.

5. How do I claim the first time home tax credit?

You will claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return.  You well need to complete IRS Form 5405 to determine the tax credit and then claim it on Line 69 of your 1040 income tax return.  It’s a pretty easy!

6. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?

Any home that will be used as your primary residence will qualify, which includes single-family detached homes, townhouses, condominiums, manufactured or mobile homes and houseboats.

7. What does it mean by the credit being refundable?

If the tax payer has little or no federal income tax liability that can be reduced by the credit, the IRS will send you a check for the credit.

Dollar Savings Direct Paying 2.65% APY for Savings Account

February 25, 2009 | Bank Rates | No Comments

dollars-savings-direct

Dollar Savings Direct, a division of Emigrant Bank, is offering a 2.65% APY to open a savings account. This is definitely one of the highest rates being

offered in the U.S. Below are the following highlights:

 
  • You can open an account online
  • There are no fees
  • There is a $1,000 account balance minimum
  • Link your checking account to your current checking account
  • Access your account 24/7 at DollarSavingsDirect.com
  • FDIC Insured

 

To find out more visit DollarSavingsDirect.com

Interesting Video of the Current Mortgage Foreclosures

February 24, 2009 | Videos | No Comments

Below is a very interesting video created by CNBC about the current mortgage melt down.

CNBC Originals: House of Cards

Your Share of Obama’s Stimulus Tax Breaks

February 24, 2009 | Taxes | No Comments

According to the Tax Policy Center, about 97% of American households will see tax savings as a result of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law last Tuesday.

The average savings would be about $1,179, however, savings will depend on income, marital status and number of children in a household.

Savings will range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. The Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains a range of tax breaks which includes:

  • Making Work Pay credit worth up to $400 ($800 for joint filers)
  • A patch to protect middle and upper middle-income families from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Expansions of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit for low-income families.
  • New credit for first-time homebuyers
  • Sales tax deduction for car buyers
  • Credit to help pay for college tuition
  • For out of work individuals receiving unemployment benefits, the first $2,400 will be tax-free.
  • Various tax breaks for small businesses


Under the new economic recovery plan, households will reduce their taxes as follows:

The government has already taken action on the broadest of the law’s cuts, the Making Work Pay. The Treasury Department has already told employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks by April 1, which will allow the typical family to begin taking home about $65 more per month.

First time homebuyer’s tax credit can be claimed on 2008 tax return if the home purchase occurs between January 1, 2009 and before November 30, 2009. However in many cases, households will not see any of their stimulus savings until they file their 2009 tax returns, which will be in 2010.