Wesabe #65 in Esquire 100!

ARRR Mateys <ahem> sorry, still getting Talk Like a Pirate Day out of my system, Wesabe has been named to Esquire’s 100! A list of “emerging ideas, trends, discoveries, products, people, and obscene gestures you should know about before everyone else does.” This is great news for Wesabe and should signal a fresh wave of new users (pushing me further up the all time tipsters list because my tips are awesome). The article also, mentions a new addition scheduled for the next few months… a cash flow management tool to help plan for upcoming bills.  This sounds like something that could really help you plan the amount of money you have in your savings account versus what you keep in checking, thereby maximizing your interest.  This sounds like something that I could really get a lot of use out of, currently I get my paycheck deposited straight into my checking account (almost no interest) and usually have an automated deposit into my savings account @ 4% interest.  Now if I deposited into my savings account and automate a move into checking based on regular expenditures I could earn some extra interest.

Say I make $2000 a month and that Wesabe tells me I’ll need all of that to cover my bills, I deposit into savings $1000 on the 15th and again on the 30th, bills are due on the 10th so I transfer $2000 to savings on the 5th.  My monthly average in the savings account is about $830 and @ 4% I should earn over $30 a year that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  I’ll see what I can do about posting a spreadsheet for more exact figures later.

Make more money without a raise!

Your job probably wants to give you more money and you just aren’t taking it! There are a lot of ways to stretch your budget out and get more out of your paycheck, if you don’t know if these items or any like them are offered at your workplace then find out, the sooner you know the sooner you can take advantage:

1. Matching Retirement Contributions – My company pays 15% into my retirement fund, no matching required, but many companies will match your contributions up to a certain point – You should always take advantage of this! Your contributions are generally taken out pretax and then matched, this is free money!

2. Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts – If you can participate in one of these plans calculate out your average expenses for doctor visits, prescriptions, glasses, often even over the counter medicine (check what your plan reimburses) and then put away a little more than that (up to a cap)- this comes out of your check pretax and you get reimbursed after you submit your EOB or receipts. This means you are NEVER taxed on this money. So figure out your tax rate and that’s how much extra money you’ll have brought home if you use all the funds in the account. Be aware that leftover funds at the end of the year may be forfeited so plan carefully.

3. Childcare Saving Accounts – These work similarly to the health accounts, except you may have to already have money in the account for you to be reimbursed. This is money that is NEVER taxed, use your tax rate to figure out how much extra cash you’ll be bringing home. Be aware that leftover funds at the end of the year may be forfeited so plan carefully.

4. Health Incentive Programs – There are many of these available, my company offers a gym membership reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount, a reduced deductible if you have a physical (or other preventative tests depending on age), steep discounts for generic drugs, and access to a Nurse Practitioner. All these things can really add up.

5. Negotiated Discounts – Your company does business with all sorts of other companies and you may be able to get in on the bulk savings. We use Verizon cell phone service and so anyone with our email address gets a discount on their cell phone if they use verizon. Check your work e-mail address with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint/Nextel, and for Alltel email your account rep. We can also get discounts on certain items because one of our sister companies is in the wholesale business, find out if you have those kinds of options from your HR department.

I’m sure there are many more available options, just make sure you take the time to find out about them and follow through!

7 Simple Steps to Lower Taxes

I’ve been thinking more and more about running the Knetwork as a business. There should be some pretty large advantages especially right now where I’m not making a profit and keep buying more and more domain names (I bought another one last week so watch out). I see two main ways to run the sites, the first is as a “hobby” which has it’s own set of tax rules, the second is a business of some sort. I’ll write more on this later.

To get a better grasp on taxes and tax savings in general I borrowed a book written by Stephen Fishman titled “Lower Taxes in 7 Easy Steps” and it’s something that I would suggest to anyone not just someone wanting to start a business. I’m sure that, like me, you’re already following some of these steps but there may be some things that you can do better or start doing that will really help out your bottom line and inflate that rebate check. Here are Fishman’s 7 Steps:

  1. Maximize Tax-Free Income – This includes home sales, retirement and college savings accounts, and health savings accounts.
  2. Take Advantage of Tax Credits
  3. Defer Taxes
  4. Maximize Your Tax Deductions
  5. Reduce your tax rate
  6. Shift Income to Others
  7. Take Advantage of Your Filing Status and Tax Exemptions

Some of the information is redundant and some only helpful in certain situations but it’s a good read, an amazing read for a book about taxes, so check it out.

Wesabe DB hits $1 Billion!

WasabiWow! I don’t know what else to say. I’m an avid Wesabe user and unofficial spokes-model (very unofficial) and I can’t say enough about the job these guys are doing, but I guess I don’t have to. Wesabe users are out there voting with their trust, and over $1 billion dollars of trust has made it into the Wesabe transaction database. Co-Founder Jason Knight put a post up on the main blog page detailing one of things that sets Wesabe apart and that has earned my respect, their belief that their users data should be entirely under the users control… (more…)

Wesabe updates the browser snapshot tool

Once again Wesabe makes it easy on me to find something to write about.  In the last update they included my suggestion for a cropping tool in their latest version of the firefox plugin (1.0.5).  After you auto upgrade to the latest version you can click and drag a crop box around the area you want to snag and when you release you’ll get a prompt confirming that’s what you wanted to do.  After the prompt you’re presented with your cropped image and the same options to save to to Wesabe or to your own computer. 

Here’s the Cropping tool in action… (more…)