Biggest tax cheats? Lower income investors
Hello from Kansas City

Cinco ways to save

Hola amigos y amigas!

Add "me llamo Kay" and "mas cerveza, por favor," and you've just about exhausted all I still recall from a year of high school Spanish class. Not that cerveza order, of course, but you know how teenagers always manage to learn what they need, or want, to know.

Cincodemayo_2 Despite my bilingual limitations, I had to give it a try in recognition of Cinco de Mayo.

On May 5, 1862, Mexican forces halted, at least temporarily, the French incursion into our neighbor nation south of the border.

The day also marks a more recent and more personal historic mark. Dos años ago today, the hubby and I re-arrived in our native state after way too many years as Texpatriates.

And because I still can manage uno through cinco, today is a good day to serve up some quick savings tips in five common categories.

1. Shopping: Whenever possible, make purchases with cash, check or a debit card. That way you'll know you have the money to spend. If you do use a credit card, pay off the balance each month. You'll save big bucks by avoiding the card's interest charges.

2. Autos: Shop carefully for your wheels. Compare insurance rates, fuel mileage and typical/expected maintenance and repair costs for comparable vehicles. By choosing a car that has lower operating costs, you can save thousands of dollars over the auto's life. Once you do drive the model off the lot, make sure you keep it regularly tuned and your tires properly inflated. Those simple moves will help cut gasoline consumption, something especially welcome with gas still flirting with the $3 mark in much of the country.

3. Home: Spring is here, meaning time for spring cleaning. Clear out your closet and garage and have a yard sale to raise a bit of extra cash. It's also the perfect time to consider home improvements that will pay off later, such as energy efficient upgrades. Simple things like replacing old windows or adding insulation could help keep your summer air conditioning bills at a more manageable level. Plus, they might also get you a tax credit on your 2007 return.

4. Taxes: Speaking of taxes, take a minute to look at what the damage or reward was this year. Did you get a refund? If it was substantial, head to your payroll office Monday and adjust your withholding. That way you'll have more of your money in hand this year instead of letting it sit in Uncle Sam's bank account, earning not a cent of interest for you. If you owed a lot, then you need to give your employer a new W-4 to increase your withholding. No, that's not fun, but at least it means you won't have to worry about potential  underpayment penalties next year.

5. Retirement: If your company has a 401(k) program, enroll. Contribute at least as much as your employer will match. If, as recommended in tip #3, you filed a new W-4 and are now getting a few extra bucks in your paycheck, redirect the cash into your retirement plan. Also check out IRA options and decide whether a traditional or Roth account works best for you.

Avacado_3 There. That didn't take too long. You still have plenty of time for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

So whip up a batch of guacamole, set out the chips and salsa and pop the top on a Dos XX. ¡Salud!


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Flirting w/$3?! It' fully consummated at my neighborhood station!
Working from home usually keeps me from driving too early in the morning (before I'm fully awake), but I have a 7 a.m. networking breakfast on Thursdays. This week I was fully charged w/adrenaline as I drove past my gas station and saw $3.03 for premium. I've tried driving my midlife crisis red zoom-zoom on lower grade, but that straight injection rotary engine tries to spit it out.
My cousin from Anchorage was here this week and he was equally horrified--he works in the oil industry and couldn't justify that price, either. Gas in Anchorage, premium grade, is in mid $2 range.

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