TurboTax Review and Giveaway

tax deduction tips

tax deduction tipsFor the last several years we have been using TurboTax to file our federal and state returns and we’ve been very happy with them. We used to purchase the software, but now we handle it online. Every year, I’ve noticed upgrades and improvements and this year is no exception.

Finding Your Tax Information and Answers Easily

One feature I personally enjoyed that I’m sure other returning users will appreciate is the customized home base that contains their previous tax returns. In addition, TurboTax also includes a Affordable Care Guide to help users better understand the new requirements.

If you’re looking for an answer to your specific situation, AnswerXchange is fantastic resource. You have access to both tax experts and to experienced users who can point you in the right direction. If you prefer the phone, you can call and speak to a Certified Public Accountant.

Which TurboTax Edition is Right for You?

There are several different editions that you can choose from based on your family’s particular needs.

  • Free Edition: If you’re one of the almost 60 million Americans who qualify for a 1040EZ/A, TurboTax’s free edition is a wonderful options as they’ve made the filing process even easier.
  • Deluxe: Many people will find this a suitable option to take care of their tax deductions and credits for families and homeowners.
  • Premier: This edition is designed for those who have numerous investments or if you own rental properties.
  • Home & Business: Entrepreneurs with either sole proprietor, consultant, contractor or single-owner LLC business will find this edition more than capable of handling their business.
  • Business: If you have a corporation, partnership or multi-member LLC, TurboTax can help you optimize your tax return.

We’ve been happy with TurboTax and how easy it is for us to file using their services. Find out which edition of TurboTax is right for you.

TurboTax Giveaway- File Your Federally Taxes for Free!

Now to the best part – Couple Money, My Financial Reviews, and TurboTax would like you to file your federal taxes for free. I am giving away codes for TurboTax’s premier edition for interested readers. To enter, it’s simple – just let me know what you plan to do with  your tax refund – are you saving it, investing it or spending it?

You can either leave a comment below, tweet me (please tag me so I can see), or share your tax refund plans on Facebook.  I’ll compile the entries and pick winners this upcoming Monday (February 3, 2014) so you can get your taxes filed and done as soon as possible. If you know someone who would love a chance to get their federal taxes filed for free, please send them a link to the giveaway through email or share this on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you again for being a part of the Couple Money Community!

Since TurboTax has been kind enough to sponsor the prizes, please feel free to send them a tweet if you win 😉

Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Review

I’ve review quite a few Unconventional Guides and as the name suggests, they are written to help you take the beaten path with entrepreneurship. This release is geared for freelance writers with the goal of making this creative endeavor a profitable one and break the stereotype of a starving writer.

There are quite a few talented writers out there, but they may not familiar with the business side of things or know how to approach editors and pitch their skills. This new guide is designed to do just that.

What’s Inside Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing?

rewview unconventional guide freelance writing

As with other Unconventional Guides, there is a ton of information and resources that not only give you an overview of the process, but practical steps and tactics that you can use to find your next gig. If you are interested in just testing the waters, there is a Pen for Hire Edition that will get you started and it includes:

  • The Ultimate Freelancers Guide:  Amber Adrian, 10 year freelance writing veteran, created a 55-page guide with practical steps for crafting a pitch, sample rates for a variety of writing projects, and how to manage yourself as a business professional. She also goes into topics like when and how to raise your rates.
  • The Big List or Links and Resources: A comprehensive list of vetted resources and online tools every freelancer should have on speed dial.
  • “Rejection Be Damned” Tools for Success: Within the half dozen smaller and more targeted guides,  topics like overcoming writer’s block and being an introverted freelancer.

If you decide to plunge in with the Editor in Chief Edition you get everything listed above and some big bonuses, including:

  • Sample Pitches and Letters of Introduction. You’ll get your hands on actual pitch letters and LOIs that have successfully landed freelance writing work in legit publications.
  • Bonus Author Interviews. You’ll get the transcripts of eight Q&A’s with successful freelance writers from all genres. Each interviewee shares their personal secrets on how they land their best business, how they got their first gig, and what unconventional methods they use to get their writing out to the world.
  •  44 minute audio interview with seasoned travel writer Kristin Luna who lands bylines in heavy-hitting publications including Newsweek, Forbes, Redbook, Self and Glamour, and has contributed to several Frommer’s travel guidebooks.

Depending on how much time, you’re investing into freelance writing, you may opt for the Pen for Hire edition to test the waters out. Either edition you decide to go with, once you buy an Unconventional Guide you get lifetime updates.

Who is the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing For?

After reviewing the material in the main guide, I’d suggest that this would be a great fit for someone who has dabbled with writing on the side and is looking to make the transition into full-time work.

There is a lot of information specifically geared towards getting better paying writing assignments. If you want to grab a copy, please click here and pick the edition that works for your situation.

If you’re interested in working for yourself, but know that writing is not your cup of tea, then I recommend you check out either Break Out of the 9-5 Guide or the Unconventional Guide to Freelancing (more geared towards those who already started).

Do you absolutely need this guide to help you become a freelance writer? No, but I think for the price, you get incredible value as you have sample pitches and letters of introductions. With a few tweaks to them, you can come across as a professional.

With list of contacts already assembled and right at your fingers, you save quite a bit of time. For those two reasons alone, I think the price for the guide is quite reasonable.

Whatever you decide, I wish you success on your freelance writing. If you have any questions about the guide, please email me.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

The Broke Student’s Handbook: How to Be Thrifty

Smiling young man showing a piggy bankAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 50 percent of college students join the labor force. Even so, the BLS’ Time Chart for a full-time college student shows that most of those students only work about three hours a day. With the federal minimum wage set at $7.25/hour, a student who works three hours a day, five days a week might only bring in $435 a month. This gives you a yearly gross income of $5,220. Translation: Learn to be thrifty. Here’s how.

1. Give Yourself a Head Start

Take advantage of living at home by saving whatever money you earn and receive. This can make your transition to college life easier. Learn to live prudently even before you head off to college. Ask for practical birthday and Christmas gifts like gift cards, a microwave, slow cooker, coffee maker, Mini Fridge, electric grill, toaster oven and printer. If you are purchasing some of these items yourself, visit PriceBlink, which offers the ability to compare prices in your browser. It’s different from other comparison shopping sites because it stays in the background until it finds you the best price on the product and/or coupons for the retailer you are shopping.

2. Learn How to Cook

Learn how to cook inexpensive meals. Grilled cheese, tuna burgers, chili, hamburger stew, tuna casserole, taco salad and scrambled eggs are all cost-effective meal options. You can find easy, inexpensive recipes at CollegeRecipes.com to help stretch your buck.

3. Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Many establishments in college towns extend discounts to students. For example, Thursday nights the AMC Theatre chain offers discounted tickets with your student ID.

Other retailers that commonly offer student discounts include:

  • Entertainment: Cinemark Theatres
  • Food: Subway, Burger King, Waffle House, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Technology: Apple, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co.
  • Phone Service: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile

4. Consider Taking Online Courses

Consider online courses at sites like CollegeOnline LLC, where you can find a variety of online college courses from reputable educators like Kaplan University, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Bay State College Online.

Online courses offer the flexibility of working more hours to earn and save more money. They may also be less expensive than traditional universities.

5. If You Go Away for College, Leave Your Car at Home

Lynette Khalfani Cox is the author of “Zero Debt for College Grads.” She states that students who leave their cars with their parents save an average of $200 a month on gas.

6. Become a Member of Online Reward Programs

Swagbucks is a loyalty program that offers compensation in the form of Swag Bucks for your everyday online activity. These Swag Bucks are similar to the loyalty points that credit cards offer clients. Redeem these Swag Bucks for entertainment coupons and gift cards from popular retailers like Target.

7. Free Samples/Manufacturer Coupons

At Freebies.com, you’ll find free samples and coupons on everything from hand sanitizer to brand name cereals. Just fill out the requested information to receive your free sample or coupon.

Financially Fearless

financially fearless review alexa von tobel

With the new year beginning, I decided it would be appropriate that my first 2014 book review would be on mastering your personal finances painlessly. Too many people quit their goal of getting control on their money and many times it’s because they haven’t found a system that works with them.

If you’re looking at becoming more confident with handling your hard earned money, then you may want to check Financially Fearless  out. It’s a  new release from Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest. If you’re not familiar with LearnVest, quite it’s about making financial planning an affordable and practical option for most people.

Basic Book Infofinancially fearless review alexa von tobel

  • Full Title: Financially Fearless: The LearnVest Program for Taking Control of Your Money
  • Author: Alexa von Tobel
  • Price: $15

Just last week I chatted with Alexa and got her thoughts about the book and how its release coincides with LearnVest’s mission.

What’s Financially Fearless About

The book is packed with information, but it’s fairly easy to read and filled with constructive advice that most people need to know if they want to master their money. The book is divided into several sections:

  • Where You Are Right Now-> The first part of the book covers getting the right money mindset and reflecting on how you’ve dealt with money in the past. Most of us have developed certain attitudes or habits through the years that have a huge effect on how we’re doing financially in the present. To help get a sense of how you’ll reach your goals while taking care of your bills, von Tobel has you run the numbers (and shows you just how easy it can be).
  • Your 50/20/30 Plan -> Alexa gives a system on how to create a real budget that allows you to save for your future while still giving you room to have fun with your money right now.
  • Protect Yourself -> Another point that Alexa stresses is making sure that your finances are on firm ground. I think most of us know how quickly emergencies can pop up so having your money in protected is a practical priority. The last major section is filled with how you can protect your money from life, others, and even yourself.
  • Pay It Forward-> After covering how to jump-start your finances, von Tobel encourages readers to spread the word and help others by starting a LearnVest Club to keep one another accountable.

This book is not meant to be read, it’s designed to be used as von Tobel included worksheets, tips, and checkpoints throughout it. With each section, there are plenty of ideas and tactics to apply in your life.

Becoming Financially Fearless

Alexa was very clear that the book was a part of the LearnVest mission of empower people everywhere to take control of their personal finances. Financially Fearless does a great job with that. The ton of the book is very encouraging and at the same time, the advice is pragmatic and actionable. There are things you can do at the end of each chapter that give you more power and control with your money.

Build Real Budgets – 50/20/30 Rule

To show you  how usable this book is, I’m going to give an overview of one chapter – budgets. One shortcoming Alexa addresses is the matter of budgets. She mentioned that people tend to fail with budgets because they don’t take into account how people truly spend their money.

Instead of focusing on budgets of what you can’t spend and do, Alexa uses the 50/20/30 method to handle both necessities and wants. How does it work?

  • 50%: Covers your essential expenses like rent/mortgage, food, utilities, and transportation
  • 20%: This money is allocated for your savings goals including retirement and kid’s college fund.
  • 30%: Alexa refers to this as lifestyle choices.

For some this framework is the perfect way for them to see their finances. Having a big enough chunk of their money dedicated to the things that make them happy while still taking care of their current and future needs will curb their spending behavior.

Thoughts on Financially Fearless

I think this is a very handy book for those looking at getting their money squared away this year. For those looking at getting a professional to work with them on their financial goals, LearnVest is offering a $50 credit good towards a 5 year plan, just use use the promo code “couplemoney50”. I think that those serious and wanting to get a second set of eyes could get a huge benefit with this.