Archive for Free Stuff

Online coupon code for Yankee Candle

JAR353

http://www.YankeeCandle.com (not an affiliate link)

Offer Valid Until November 30. 2014, so hurry! You’ve still got a few days to take advantage of this offer. Enter the code JAR353 at checkout.

BUY 2 GET 2 FREE!
Buy any 2 regularly priced jar, tumbler, pillar or Pure Radiance vase candles and get another 2 FREE!

Yankee Candle Jar Candles in Green, White, Red for holidays

 
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beautiful electric jellyfish

It’s a cold, dreary day here today. It’s been raining almost all morning.  If there were kids in the house, by now they would be to the ‘poke one another in the eye’ stage, due to sheer boredom.

Are your kids out of school for summer vacation, stuck inside, and bored? Are you homeschooling? Do you have a child that loves to learn? Are you an educator looking for interesting summer school material?

Get the kids attention and get them interested in Planet Earth’s deep blue sea via The Smithsonian’s OCEAN PORTAL.

The Ocean Portal is a great resource for anyone interested in the ocean and what lives in it. The ocean provides the air we breathe, food we eat, and water we drink. Just as we need the ocean, the ocean needs each one of us.

Despite the oceans on our planet being named “Atlantic” and “Pacific”, and generally thought of as two separate bodies of water, they are really one ocean – one gigantic, interconnected ecosystem that our very lives depend on.

purple starfish with yellow center eyeSpend some time on-line at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and learn about the different systems that hold our planet’s one ocean together. From sea ice, and volcanoes, to wind and water currents, tides, and chemistry, everything works together for the good of the one. The pictures are fascinating, and can entertain and teach for hours at a time.

Check out the “Ocean Life and Ecosystems” section covering the diversity of marine life and nearly every kind of habitat

The “Planet Ocean” section talks about the ocean in motion through the tides, ocean waves, and water and wind currents.

The “Ocean Through Time” section talks about how humans are leaving their mark on the oceans.

Learn about threats to the ocean and its life forms, and how you can help save the oceans when you visit the “Conservation” section of the ocean portal.

Man can make a difference.red beak puffin bird with fish in his mouth

Teacher Tested Classroom Materials

Are you an educator? Visit the Ocean Portal Educators’ Corner and you’ll find activities, lessons, and educational resources to bring the ocean to life for your students. The Smithsonian has collected top resources to provide teacher-tested, ocean science materials for your classroom. Inspire the next generation of ocean stewards to find their blue!

Want to visit the museum or the zoo?

If you are interested in visiting or learning about any of the Smithsonian museums and the zoo, download the Free Smithsonian App Here

Have you been to the Smithsonian before? I’ve been to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, but I’ve never been to the Smithsonian in Washington DC. It’s on my bucket list, though! 

Are you planning a family vacation this summer? When you vacation, do you go to get away from it all, or do you plan family outings around national treasures like the Smithsonian? 

 

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Keep Your Kids Busy Learning This Summer with www.Kids.gov

Kids and Dad at the Beach

 

Are your kids out of school for the summer yet? How many days will go by before you hear the inevitable, “Mom, I’m BORED!” or the fingernail-on-chalkboard whine: “There isn’t anything to DO!

Someone asked me tonight what I would have done when I was younger if I had access to the technology of today. I sure wouldn’t have been bored, and your kids don’t have to be, either.  This generation of kids has access to www.Kids.gov, a free, safe, and online world brought to you by your tax dollars at work.

A Free, Safe, Web Portal for Learning

Kids.gov is the federal government’s official web site for kids. The web portal is packed full of activities for K-8th, and is a great way to keep kids learning during their vacation. Kids.gov is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers, too. Take a look!  It’s worth it!

Games & Videos

“Please, Mom, can I play just one more game before I go to bed?!” With the Play Games section at Kids.gov, children can learn math, science, history and more when they spend time playing online games. Your child will become an adventurer as she solves secret codes from the National Security Agency (NSA), or an engineer when he works on word puzzles from NASA, learning all about the Earth.

On rainy days, when the kids are stuck inside, plug them into Kids.gov and let them pick out videos! No way will they have these plots memorized! The Videos section has a wide selection of things for kids to watch. Learn about cool careers in archeology, and how money is made at the US Mint. Meet a keeper at the National Aquarium, and learn how she takes care of an albino alligator. Your kids will love learning about the mysteries of weather and tornadoes as they follow along with a storm chaser. There are videos that educate about current social issues, too, such as how to handle a bully and bullying.

Unleash Your Child’s Inner Van Gogh

Encourage your child’s creative urge with art projects from Kids.gov. Coloring pages, digital photography projects, interactive painting, collage making, animation projects and so much more are available for every artist medium. Meet up with Curious George, or Sesame Street, and let your little artist run wild!

Family Physical Fitness, too

Blue skies and sunshine – kids and adults alike love to be outside during the summer. When you’re ready for a computer break, take it outside. Kids.gov has an Exercise, Fitness, and Nutrition section that is full of ideas to keep the whole family in shape. Learn to work physical fitness into your family’s daily routine. Take your pick of family friendly ideas for exploring America’s beaches, mountains, cities, and everything in between!

 

Kids on summer vacation on the beach

What are your summer vacation plans? 

Are you going on a trip or staying home?

If you’re traveling with kids, what is your #1 travel tip for parents?

 

 

 

 

 

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Form 1040.  Request an extension and get more time to file!

I may not make the federal income tax filing deadline next week.  My tax return is not done, the fat lady is not singing yet.  I’m going out of town at the end of this week, and I’ll be gone all weekend.  I’ve set aside Friday for my own “tax work”, and what I can’t get done that day, I’ll have to finish up Monday.  Hopefully I can hit the “submit” button before Midnight!

If I can’t get my tax return completed in time, I can file a request for an extension.  Filing for an extension will give me another 6 months to file.  My tax return won’t be due until October 15, 2013.  Filing an extension, however, will not give me extra time to pay.  If I will owe the IRS money, they want me to pay that with the extension request.  They’re willing to wait on the paperwork, but they’re not willing to wait on their money.

Five Things You Need To Know About Filing For An Extension

1.  Filing Form 4868 by mail is the most common way to request an extension (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S Individual Tax Return).  Pick up a blank Form 4868 at your local library, or download and print from the IRS website.  Fill in the form – it’s short, only a few lines, and attach a check if you think you’re going to owe a balance due.  You don’t have to know to the penny what the bill will be, but take a good guess and write a check for all of it or a large portion of it.  Pay what you can afford.  The IRS will look favorably upon you if you pay now instead of when you file.  You’ve got to get this form in the mail and postmarked before Midnight, April 15.   CLICK HERE FOR FORM 4868

2.  The easiest way to file for an extension is using Free File at the IRS website.  Everyone is eligible to go to the IRS website and use Free File to e-file an extension request.  There are no limitations on this service, income or otherwise, as there is if you’re using Free File to send in a tax return.  Just like your tax return, you’ve got to e-file the extension request before Midnight April 15, and the receipt you’ll get when you file the request is your proof you made the deadline.  This receipt is important – print it and save it.  Put it with your tax return paperwork.  GO HERE FOR FREE FILE

3.  If you do use e-file for your extension request, you can pay any balance due by using the website option to transfer money from your checking or savings account.  You’ll need your bank routing number and account number in order to pay using electronic funds withdrawal, so have your checkbook handy when you sit down at your computer.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

4.  Do you have your return finished before the deadline, but find you owe money that you don’t have?  File your tax return on time, even if you owe money and can’t pay.  Don’t file an extension.  Send in your return and pay what you can, then call the IRS in about 30-45 days and request a payment plan.  You can also download an application from the IRS website and submit this with your tax return, asking for an installment arrangement that will allow you to make monthly payments (Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request).  The IRS website  has an online tool (Online Payment Agreement) that you can use to apply for a payment plan online.  If you owe money and there is absolutely no way to pay due to unemployment, illness, etc., call the IRS.  There are things they can do that will give you a breather until you can get on your feet again.  The entire time you owe money to the IRS, there is going to be interest and penalties added, and those fees compound daily.  Pay the IRS off as soon as you can.

CLICK HERE FOR THE IRS ONLINE PAYMENT AGREEMENT 

CLICK HERE FOR FORM 9465 INSTALLMENT AGREEMENT REQUEST

5.  Asking for more time to file does not give you more time to pay your taxes.  Tax law says that the tax is due on the money when the money is earned.  This is April 2013 – and the money you owe taxes on was earned in 2012.  You should have been paying Estimated Payments during the year, and not be in a balance due situation now – per the tax code.  If you don’t have the tax you owe paid by the April 15 filing deadline, you will be assessed penalties and interest.  If you can afford it, pay as much as you can with your extension request.  If you still owe, make time to contact the IRS and request a payment plan.  You do not want your account to go to Collections!

Do you feel the need to file an extension?  If not, how fast did you spend your tax refund?

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Categories : Form 1040, Free Stuff, IRS, Taxes
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Apr
10

File Your Federal Taxes For Free

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File your taxes for free

 

April 15th is right around the corner! Have you filed your tax return yet? The Federal FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) deadline is June 30th, and many states have deadlines coming up. Colleges can have their own FAFSA deadline, too. If you or a family member need financial aid to attend college, you should get the information in before the deadline in order to qualify for maximum awards.

If you have a college student that worked a job in 2012 and needs to file to report that income and get a tax refund, there are free choices on-line that will keep that refund money in the student’s pocket rather than the preparers.

NOTE: even if your student does not have any taxable income to report, a tax return should still be filed claiming $0 income. When you do this you document that no income was received by the student, and this shows need. Showing need means more financial aid! If at all possible, file a 1040EZ or a 1040A for the student in lieu of a “long form” 1040 – this works in their favor and will allow you to skip about half of the FAFSA questions, too.

 

File Your Taxes For Free

There are many tax-prep companies offering free federal income tax filing this year. Some of these may also file your state return for free – and some will charge a fee. If you find that you are going to be charged a fee to file your state return, go to your state website and check for free filing. Many states offer free on-line filing of state income tax returns, and they’ll have on-line, fillable forms that will do the math for you at the click of a button.

IRS First.  Always.

ALWAYS start your search for free income tax filing on the IRS website! The companies listed there have agreed to offer free filing for being listed on the IRS site. It’s possible, if you access the same company from a source other than the IRS website, you will be charged a filing fee or charged for other products and/or services.

The list of “Free File Companies” can be found at the link below. This is the official IRS website. Be sure and read the eligibility criteria for each company carefully before selecting one – your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), age, state of residence, whether you are in the military, or whether you qualify for EIC (Earned Income Credit) may affect what company you are able to use. If your AGI falls under $57,000, you should be able to file your federal tax return free of charge.

CHOOSE A FREE FILE COMPANY HERE

Form 1040.  File Your Taxes Free!

Are You Familiar With Tax Prep?  Try Free Fillable Forms

If you are comfortable filling in your tax return information without any interview questions, if you recognize the fields on a tax return and can easily determine what is “wages” vs “what is what” when it comes to the financial information you are reporting, you may want to use

FREE FILLABLE FORMS

  • Free Fillable Forms are on-line, electronic versions of paper IRS tax forms.
  • You can choose a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ.
  • The online form program will do the math for you.
  • You must have last years tax return available and the exact amount of AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) in order to file.
  • You can print your return.
  • Can file an extension.
  • Not for use by paid preparers!
  • You cannot file any state returns using Free Fillable Forms.

 

 Save Time by Prepping

In order to be successful and spend as little time as possible filing your tax returns, gather all of the current filing year supporting paperwork you will need. Have a copy of last year’s tax return handy – you won’t be able to file anything electronically without last years AGI or an IRS PIN number.

Direct Deposit is Quick

Use Direct Deposit and get your refund in about 10 working days. When you file electronically and use Direct Deposit, you can check your refund status within 72 hours of filing.

TRACK REFUND STATUS HERE

 

I Owe, I Owe, It’s Off To Pay the Tax Man I Go

Do you owe money to the IRS?

You may find out after filling out all that tax info that you owe a balance due. It’s OK – file electronically anyway, and file before April 15th so you don’t incur a penalty. There are many ways to pay the IRS – they, like every other business out there, will take your credit or debit card:  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Electronic-Payment-Options-Home-Page

 

Click here for more information on how to file your Federal taxes free of charge!

 

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Categories : Form 1040, Free Stuff, IRS, Taxes
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Oct
15

Get Your Free Obama Phone!

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The Obama Lady 

The political ads and graphics are everywhere:  TV, newspaper, YouTube, Facebook, email – we’re inundated 24/7 with political advertising, and most of it isn’t very nice.  One of the not-so-nice videos I’ve seen floating around Facebook via YouTube is “The Obama Lady”.

The video is of a woman, jumping around and waving a poster board sign in a reporter’s face, all the while ranting about her “Free Obama Phone”.  In 2008, an email with the same script made the rounds, but four years down the road, technology has moved the email to video.  “The Obama Lady” video is tasteless, with the intent to convince the public that their tax dollars are going to give free cell phones, courtesy of President Obama, to every disadvantaged person in Cleveland, and, in turn, the entire country.  It’s an effort to embarrass and disenfranchise the poor among us, and generate anger toward the current White House Administration.

Lifeline Phone ServiceA few things in the video ARE true.

The government does give out “free” phones.  They’ve been doing it for almost 30 years, based on a Congressional mandate that ensures communication is available to all Americans.

In 1985, a program named “Lifeline” was started that gave discounted phone service to the poor, the elderly, disabled veterans, and the sick.  “Lifeline” was there so that if someone needed to call 911 due to an emergency, or make an appointment with their doctor, or call and check on a job application because they were unemployed and trying to find work, they could.  If Grandma fell and broke her hip, she had a phone to call for an ambulance, even when her Social Security check didn’t reach far enough each month to cover the phone bill.  The program started by furnishing land-line service, and expanded in 2005 to include limited, pre-paid cell phone service.

Do You Need a Hand-Up, Not A Hand-out?

The “Lifeline” program is available in every state, but it doesn’t come without rules and regulations.  Since its beginning, the program has required that anyone participating must have an income at or below the poverty line or participate in one of the following low-income assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps or SNAP
  • SSI
  • Section 8 Housing
  • Low-income energy assistance
  • Free school lunch program
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Head Start
  • State assistance programs (if applicable)

There are other rules, too.  Only one Lifeline phone is allowed per household.  The household can have a land line or a cell phone, but not both.  The program doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles – this is basic and limited phone service.  The cell phone service is pre-paid with a limited number of minutes, and the land line is limited in service.  You’ve got to reconfirm eligibility on an annual basis in order to remain in the program.

Are You Eligible?  Is Grandma? 

If you’re interested in the Lifeline program, start by calling your phone company.  Over 2,000 phone companies across the country provide discounted phone service through Lifeline.  You can find a list of companies by state here:

Lifeline Support Companies By State

You can also use the Lifeline Pre-Screening Tool and check eligibility status.  It takes about 15 minutes:

Lifeline Pre-Screening Tool

 

Learn more about Lifeline here:

USAC – What Is Lifeline?

Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers

Lifeline Public Service Announcements 

 

Who Pays for Lifeline?

The phone companies contribute a percentage of their revenues to the Universal Service Fund (USF).  Your phone service provider may charge you a service charge called “Universal Service” if they try to recoup part of the cost of the program from customers.  The USF is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Universal Service Administration (USAC), which pays for the discounted Lifeline phone service out of the fund.

The USF is also responsible for other communication programs.  In addition to Lifeline, the fund also makes discounts available to schools and libraries for telecommunication services, Internet access, and information services.  Rural health care providers, through the fund, have the capability to link to city hospitals and medical centers, giving rural America access to medical services they wouldn’t normally have available.

Find out more about the USF and FCC here:

FCC Consumer Guide

 

 

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Oct
04

Free One-on-One Financial Planning Help

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Financial Planning Day What is Financial Planning?

What financial goals would you like to obtain?  What’s on your “Wish List” when it comes to money?

Do you want to buy a home?  Do you own your home, but dream about a vacation home in the mountains or a weekend home at the lake?

Do the kids want to go to Disney World next summer, but you’re not sure you can afford a local pool pass for the season?

Are you able to save today for college for the kids, or have you put that off until tomorrow? Tomorrow is already here, you know.

What about your retirement – how many retirement accounts do you have, and do you regularly fund those to the max?  Is your retirement diversified, or do you have all of your eggs in one basket?  Can you retire without Social Security and live in the manner to which you are now accustomed?  Have you thought about retirement very much, or is that something you’re going to do “tomorrow”?

Financial planning is a must, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are.  What is your financial plan right now?  What strategy do you have in place – right now – that will allow you to retire financially independent?  Do you know where to start to make your financial dreams your reality?  Do you know how to make your dreams your reality?  Are you lost when it comes to implementing changes to your money situation?

We all have money dreams, but most of us aren’t smart enough to know how to make our dreams come true.  We don’t have the time to do the research we need in order to know where to invest, or how, or how much.  We don’t know what goal to tackle first.  We aren’t sure of the quickest way to the goal line.  We’re lost when it comes to the math.  We need help.  During the month of October 2012, personal, one-on-one help is available in many cities across the country.

Financial Planning Days Initiative

During the month of October 2012, “Financial Planning Days Initiative” is taking place.  Four different non-profit organizations**  are bringing together highly qualified, professional, Certified Financial Planners to provide one-on-one counseling sessions to the public.  There will also be classroom style learning sessions held, and free packets of financial literature given away.  All of the work being done by the professionals is on a volunteer basis, and no payment is expected.  Services are free.  You can sit down with a financial planner and ask for personal advice – with no strings attached.  The volunteers will not try to sell you anything, they won’t even give you their business card.  No business will be promoted at all – the professionals are there to answer your questions and help – that’s it.  (If you are a professional, certified financial planner and would like to volunteer, you can find out how here)

Gather your questions about retirement planning, debt, credit issues, budget questions, taxes, college, mortgage loans, investments, estate planning, small business finance, and insurance together, and find out if the Initiative is available where you live:

Click here to find a Financial Planning Day in your area

A list of 2012 events can be found by clicking here

A list of participating states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virgina
  • Washington

Can’t go?  You Can Still Get the Same Information Packet Being Handed Out

If there is no Financial Planning Initiative in your state, the free information packet information is still available to you and can be found at the links below.  Take a look at the information available, and give yourself a quick education in the basics of financial planning.  Pick up tips and advice on everything from a college savings plan to long term care insurance.

You Can Organize & Simplify Your Financial Life:  A How To Guide

Saving and Investing:  A Roadmap to Your Financial Security Through Saving and Investing

Savings Fitness:  A Guide to Your Money & Your Financial Future

Smart Saving for College – 529 Plans & Other College Savings Options

Guide to Disability Income Insurance

Guide to Long Term Care Insurance

Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense

 

** Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.®, Financial Planning Association®, the Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors

 

 

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This Saturday, September 29th, is “Museum Day Live!”

Over 1,450 museums across the country are offering FREE admission!

In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket … you get in for free!

Check this link  “Find a Museum Page”  to locate a participating museum in your area. I was surprised to see 3 pages returned to me when I checked my state. Once you find a museum on the list you’d like to visit for free, fill out and submit this form on the  “Ticket Information Page” . You will receive an email with instructions on how to download and print your *FREE* ticket.

You won’t be able to get into the museum without your free ticket. One ticket is allowed per household, per address, and one ticket admits two people. If you take more than one person with you to the museum, someone is going to have to pay full price to get in. (The free ticket will not cover parking charges, special events, or special exhibits)

If you’re looking for something to do this Saturday, visit a museum! Museum trips make great family outings. Use this *free* Saturday experience to introduce your kids to history and art – it’s been shown in studies that museums make you smarter and inspire learning! Put on your walking shoes – and don’t forget your ticket!

Learn More:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

Find a Museum Here:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/venues/

Get Your Free Ticket For Two Here:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ticket/

 

 

 

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