Win at Tax-Efficient Investing

This post brought to you by E*TRADE. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Sweating the Big Stuff.

With Tax Day close at hand, you may be wondering how to invest your refund in a more tax efficient manner. You are not alone. According to a StreetWise survey conducted by E*TRADE, many investors, though tax conscious, fail to make use of all the tools that they have at their disposal in order to ensure that their investments are as tax-efficient as possible. Thousands of investors are paying more tax on their investments than they actually should be. You may be one of them.

Tax laws can be tough to negotiate. It can take years to figure out all the legal loopholes on your own. Fortunately, there are experts out there that have done the heavy lifting for you. If you want some really great, free advice, visit the E*TRADE Education Center. E*TRADE wants you to win at investing and so they provide some excellent advice – to use the E*TRADE Education Center, you don’t even need to log in – you can access the advice that you need, without having to hand over any personal details at all.undefined

If you do want more assistance when it comes to managing your taxes, now and in the future, E*TRADE’s Tax Center (available to customers) offers a suite of tools and resources, covering everything from cost basis reporting to managing capital gains and losses, to frequently asked tax questions. You can open an online brokerage account and manage everything from one convenient platform. Access the tools and information that you need as and when you need to. Get the right advice to help you make tax and investment decisions fast and start building your own investment empire.undefined

E*TRADE has made it their business to understand what investors need when it comes to managing their taxes. Their survey highlighted a distinct need that investors have for cost-effective, timely advice and tools to help them manage their taxes more effectively. Investors are taking more of a front seat when it comes to actively managing their investments and do understand some of the basics when it comes to tax efficient investing. Most investors agree though that they could learn more.

E*TRADE  found that the use of tax advantaged accounts came up as the top investment strategy for those surveyed, with 45% of respondents agreeing that these accounts are the most effective investment strategy when it comes to reducing their tax liability. For younger investors, that number is even higher – around about 60% of trading activity for younger investors was processed through their IRAs.

The strategies that respondents believed to be effective when it came to reducing tax liability were, in order of importance:

  • Investing in tax-advantaged accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, health savings accounts (HSAs) – 45%
  • Selling positions that have lost value in order to offset capital gains – 18%
  • Holding investments for at least one year to ensure lower taxes on gains – 17%
  • Investing in tax-free municipal bonds – 10%
  • Investing in tax-advantaged deferred annuities – 6%
  • Investing in funds with low turnover – 4%

What are your current investment strategies? Are you getting the best possible advice when it comes to managing your taxes and decreasing your tax liability? Head over to E*TRADE today for top tax advice and resources, set out in a very user-friendly format.

Why pay Uncle Sam a dime more than you need to? Get great advice now so that you know exactly how to invest your refund on Tax Day. Sign up for an account and you can invest your refund on Tax Day without even needing to leave your office.

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Need Extra Income in College? Here are 15 Money Making Apps that can Help

Thanks to technology, there’s a new economy out there that’s growing rapidly in popularity. It’s really a Pandora’s box what can be accomplished and what’s possible with today’s gizmos. Apps create new sources of income for many people – with some featured here, individuals have started home businesses – and if the ideas are novel, can be very profitable. If you’re a little tight on cash and are looking for ways to add to your discretionary spending while hitting the books, below are 15 apps that earn you money in a variety of fun and unique ways.

Ride-Sharing Apps

1: Lyft

With Lyft you can make $35/hour driving people to their destinations. In order to be a driver you must be 23, go through a phone and an in-person screen and background/DMV checks. All the ride-sharing apps listed here require vehicles that are 2000 or newer. Drivers get 80% of the payments by riders and Lyft is very flexible as you choose your own hours. This app is strongly community-driven which helps with trust. One strange side-effect that occurs once you join Lyft, however, is that your car grows a pink howie mustache on the grill.

2: Sidecar

This app was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal as being 10% cheaper than a taxi. Not bad. As a driver, you can set your own price and can also receive a promo code that when new riders sign-up using your code, will allow you to earn 100% of the payments with those riders instead of profit-sharing with the company. The better the experience for the rider, the higher your rating. And if you’re courteous and a safe driver, you’ll end up with a network of loyal customers. Good deal. You need to be at least 21 to apply to be a driver.

3: Uber

Sleek, stylish and professional. This ride-sharing service has an upscale look and feel to it. In order to be a driver you’ll need to be at least 23 years old. You can do this as a part-time gig or it can turn into a small business. They have different classes of drivers in major cities: Uberx (discount drivers); UberBLACK (professional chauffeur drivers with a commercial license and insurance); UberTAXI (a certified taxi driver) and Uber Livery (a commercially insured driver). These types of apps are highly innovative and are easy ways to make money if you’re out and about.

Surveys, Rewards, Points

4: Surveys On The Go

Low on cash? Take a survey. You’ll earn between twenty-five cents to $5 depending on which survey you choose. Surveys can range from politics, be tribunal in nature and can come from major companies. As soon as you download the app and sign-up, you’ll need to answer a few demographic questions so they know which surveys to provide you. Once you reach $10 you can cash out.

5: Shopkick

Earn points, or kicks, just by walking in stores, scanning or purchasing items. Kicks can be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise. This app has an accompanying shopBeacon located in stores that alerts an app carrier where the best deals are in the store. If you’ve “Liked” an item in the app, the shopBeacon will remind you when you’ve entered the store that sells the product. Way to go, Shopkick!

6: Checkpoints

Very similar to Shopkick, however, they have a neat little video with cute Kirby-esque characters that explain their whole specific process. The idea behind Checkpoints, from a brand’s point of view, is to encourage the consumer (you) to purchase a product from that brand. It’s sort of a new, unique and direct form of advertising. Consumers can win gift cards from popular stores like Amazon, Target and Walmart; shopping sprees, free gas cards and entries into sweepstakes and brands earn a sale.

7: Receipt Hog

Get your camera handy for this app. Receipt Hog lets you snap photos of receipts that earn you points or cashback rewards. You can redeem your cash via Paypal or gift cards. You can also earn money by taking surveys or win a shopping spree. I’d say it’s time to get ole’ bessy out of the pin!

8: iPoll

This is another survey app with a $5 sign-up bonus. Market research is important to a successful business so they’re willing to pay for your opinions. iPoll puts a fun twist on answering survey questions by giving app carriers “missions” like shopping experiences or product reviews.

9: Adfun

You use virtual currency called Bidding Money that you earn by viewing advertisements multiple times, posting about products on social media sites, completing surveys, giving 5 star reviews at the App store, referring friends or simply by checking-in to the application. This currency can be used to redeem items on Adfun’s Bidding List where you select a prize you want and enter an auction room to bid for it. Bidding Tickets are used to redeem prizes or make a bid on an item.

Unique, Fun and Profitable

10: Pact

Need motivation to get in shape? Having trouble finishing that Sweatin’ to the Oldies workout video? Well, this app earns you money when you exercise willpower! Users create a pact that they’ll workout or eat healthy for a set period of time and as long as they follow through, members who haven’t met the terms of their pact pay those who have. They have three different pacts you can choose to commit from: gym, veggie and food logging pact. You get to set what you’ll pay to other members if you don’t meet your pact. This is definitely an app that earns you money, but it can also cost you if you don’t stay on task.

11: Barnacle

An easy way to safely ship items by paying other drivers to deliver them. You can be a driver and earn money by shipping items during a road trip on spring break! Simply post your route, you’ll receive an alert when someone has requested you to deliver and then get paid once the delivery was successful.

12: ESPN Streak for the Cash

A fun, profitable app for sports fans. Can you guess which team will win a specific game? If you can consistently and develop a streak you could win the monthly grand prize worth $50,000.

13: SaveUp

This app not only rewards you, but helps instill financial responsibility habits to carriers. A personal finance app that rewards you every time you pay a bill or do anything else financially smart. You’ll earn credits that can be used for gift cards, vacations or even be entered into a $2 million prize jackpot. Other prizes can include a $50,000 savings deposit, student loan payoff or a $25,000 emergency fund.

Sell Your Services

14: Foap

Get paid by being a “smartphoneographer”. Upload the photos that you take to Foap and you’ll earn a $5 commission each time a company purchases it. Your photo must receive five votes averaging 2.6 to be eligible for sale. Also, the more photos you have the better the chances of you getting paid. Get Foaping!

15: Fiverr

The popular site that allows users to buy and sell services for $5 bucks is now mobile. You can now manage your account on the go using this mobile app. The services can be as wacky as someone eating a piece of paper with your name on it (an actual gig) or as sane as creating a logo for your website.

Find more articles on saving money in college by Lance at EasyScholarshipsNow.com.

Strong Leadership Enhances Successful Companies

The world of business can be a complex and intricate place. With globalization and other external factors constantly weighing on organizations, leadership needs to be strong. In the financial industry, investment companies rely on leaders to develop strategies that deliver the opportunity for strong performance. Wes Edens Fortress Investment Group head provides his firm with a combination of versatility, industry knowledge, and the willingness to take risks, which has helped the company grow into a market leader. These skills in particular have created a flexible company that has focus and direction.

Versatility

Versatility is important in any business. When a company is able to balance more than specific market at any given time along with another, the chances of being successful grow. Just in the finance industry, merger agreements, asset management, and private equity all require individuals with a specific skill set ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Proper staffing and strong human resource skills are a big part of company being flexible, which underscores the ability of leaders to surround themselves with an executive team capable of handling the rigors of what can be a demanding marketplace. In the end, people must be equipped to rise to the challenge.

Taking Risks

Every business takes chances, but taking calculated risks in terms of strategy and vision is something that leaders take very seriously. Modern business practices on a grand company sized scale have to be ready to accept some degree of risk. Granted the degree of risk is usually linear with the potential profit or loss of the strategy, but that responsibility falls on the executive committee. The stock markets of the world rise and fall with regularity, and timing a specific project to take advantage of downswings or upswings in those markets is often what separates great leaders from their counterparts. In the end, leaders have to know the right thing to do at the right time, because it makes all the difference in the world.

Industry Knowledge

Knowledge and mastery of a specific industry is what transforms a company into a market leader. Specialists in particular areas can be recruited, but when board of directors members, steering committee members, and executive officers have extensive knowledge of the industry in which they operate, the company is better positioned to succeed. While formal education is important, a career that spans years or decades in a particular field can easily offset any type of educational shortcomings. Life and work are generally the best teachers, and when corporate leaders have that kind of experience, good things tend to happen for the company. Companies that specialize in certain fields have to maintain that lead by constantly learning and evolving to stay ahead of the competition, and it is the job of the leaders to keep the company motivated.

In the end, corporate leaders that possess the ability to take calculated risks, maintain exceptional industry knowledge, and manage a versatile workforce give their companies the best chance to transform into industry leaders. The world of executive management requires a specific level of dedication and perseverance. When the company heads are willing to demonstrate those elements of leadership and use themselves as examples, the rest of the company follows suit. Leadership is where success in business starts and ends.