Money in the News: $900,000,000+ in Owed Taxes, Student Loan Debt, Grandma Meets Kickstarter Goal, 9 Common Tax Deductions, St. Patrick’s Day Money Drain Infographic

The Consumerist writes about 984k people that are owed over $900 million dollars from 2009.

A lot of people who fail to file their taxes each year do so because they assume they will have to owe money or won’t be getting anything back. But the IRS says there is nearly a billion dollars in unclaimed returns from 2009, and that it needs to be claimed by April 15, 2013, or it goes into Uncle Sam’s pocket.

Mint.com posts about 3 little-known facts about Student Loan Debt.

In June of 2010, student loan debt made headlines when it surpassed credit card debt here in the U.S. Since then, outstanding student loan debt has surpassed the $1 trillion mark — making it the single largest form of household consumer debt outside of home loans.

There’s no question that student loan debt continues to be a growing concern — not only for students and graduates, but for parents, grandparents and policymakers alike.

CNN Money posts about an 89 year old grandmother who raised over $3k to hit her Kickstarter goal. Crystal note: Go Granny go!

Malkin this week reached her target of $3,500 in startup capital for her first-time business Happy Canes, a line of walking sticks she decorates with artificial flowers.

She debuted the Happy Canes project on Kickstarter in late January and needed to reach her goal by March 23.

Said Malkin, “I want to be an example to young and old people that age shouldn’t be a barrier for what you want to do in life.”

Bargain Babe posts about the 9 most common tax deductions:

Health Savings Account Deduction – Like the tax deduction for tax-deferred retirement accounts, contributing to an employer-sponsored health savings account, or HSA, reduces your taxable income. Just make sure that you’re not over-contributing to your HSA, as most come with a “use it or lose it” policy. This is another “above the line” deduction.

Lastly, Mint.com posts an infographic on how much Americans spend on St. Patrick’s Day Partying. Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in Jamesons


Click to view

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Money Drain: $800+ Credit I Have to Pay Off for a Friend

A few years ago, I had a friend and her son living with me that was helping me out after my wife died. They helped take care of the house since I worked over 40 hours a week and in return they could stay for free aside from food and a little extra towards utilities.

At one point my friend asked to use a credit card to get some gas she needed on the way to work. This happened a couple times, usually $40 transactions, and she always paid right away when she got her paycheck.

At some point, these transactions started to mount, however. One month was $400, eventually at one point the balance was up to $800 and she couldn’t pay.

Unfortunately since the card was in my name, and by this point she was no longer living with me, I had to pay off the balances. I do not intend to make THIS mistake again.
– Jeffrey O.

Lesson Learned:
I’ve always been a very strong advocate of never lending friends money. There are a few occasions I might give money to a friend who I know is deserving of the help, but in general I prefer to stick to my guns on this one. It can only strain a friendship (or relationship with family) when it involves money.

Alternatively, if you insist on doing business with family, contracts are your best friend. Contracts keep friends as friends and family as family. That way there is no misunderstanding when it comes to the terms of the agreement. It may sound silly or “over the top”, but if the relationship means that much to you, it’s worth the extra step.

Total flushed down the money drain: $800+

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Success Story: How Much Money Amazon Prime Saves Me

I signed up for Amazon prime last year after realizing how much money I could probably save on free shipping.  It costs approximately $78 a year, and anything that is eligible for Amazon Prime has free 2-day shipping.  Heck, free shipping would be worth it by itself in the end, but to have 2-day shipping was an awesome bonus.

Out of all of my purchases I made in 2012, I did an estimated shipping cost based off of how many purchases I made in 2011 and the average shipping cost there based on the amount of purchases.

What I calculated is that I would have spent $728 in shipping as opposed to my $78 I pay for Amazon prime, and that’s with regular shipping.

Sure I still have to pay shipping on a few items here and there that don’t qualify for Amazon Prime, but for the most part, this is a sound investment.  I highly recommend 🙂

– Crystal Groves, Owner/Editor of The Money Drain

Lesson Learned
Always check what services companies offer that might save you money. Even if there is an initial investment, it could pay off beyond that in the long run. Many companies like Amazon, Zappos, or small companies offer great deals on things like shipping.

Edit:
Alternatively, you can read The Simple Dollars argument against Amazon Prime savings.

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