Friday, April 29, 2016

Money Market Rates 4/16

Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

1.05% GS (Goldman Sachs) Bank Online Savings
1.00% Ally Bank Online Savings
0.95% Discover Bank Online Savings
0.95% FNBO Direct Online Savings
0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
0.25% Western FCU Money Market
0.03% Citibank Savings Plus
0.03% Chase Plus Savings

In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 4/28/16. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. I recently added GE Capital Bank has changed its name to GS (Goldman Sachs) Bank. By a small margin, GS Bank Online Savings retains the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

Western Federal Credit Union has announced that they will change their name to Unify Financial Credit Union. All accounts and services are intended to remain the same after the name change.

The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

DC

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

IRS e-file – When Will I Get My IRS Tax Refund (2016)?

If you are wondering when you can expect to receive your tax refund from the IRS, you are not alone. In past years, the IRS published a table where you could look up when your federal tax refund would be deposited in your bank account (by direct deposit), or when your check would be mailed. It seems that this document, Publication 2043, either doesn't provide a table anymore. From previous years, the IRS reported that over 90% of refunds were issued in less than 21 days. The same results are expected in 2016.

You can also check the status of your income tax refund using this link. (And of course, en Español: ¿Dónde está mi reembolso?) You will need to enter your social security number, filing status, and refund amount to see your refund status.

I've heard some anecdotal stories about the IRS a long time to process refunds in the past. So I will be curious how the IRS does this time around.

If you haven't prepared your tax return yet, I encourage you to do so soon.

PFS

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Credit Card Bonuses Q2 2016

Save money on purchases and get cash back with the following coupon codes and credit cards:

Citi Dividend Card
  • 5% cash back 1/1/16 - 3/31/16: New Beginnings: Home Depot & Home Furnishing Stores
  • 5% cash back 4/1/16 - 6/30/16: Drug Stores, Fitness Clubs
  • 5% cash back 7/1/16 - 9/30/16: Hilton & Car Rentals
  • 5% cash back 10/1/16 - 12/31/16: Best Buy & Department Stores
  • 1% on everything else.
Discover Card
  • 5% cash back 1/1/16 - 3/31/16: Gas & Ground Transportation
  • 5% cash back 4/1/16 - 6/30/16: Restaurants & Movies
  • 5% cash back 7/1/16 - 9/30/16: Home Improvement & Amazon.com
  • 5% cash back 10/1/16 - 12/31/16: Amazon.com & More
  • up to 1% on everything else.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
  • 2.1% on travel and dining
  • 1.05% on everything else.
  • No annual fee.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards
  • 3% on gas
  • 2% at grocery stores
  • 1% on everything else.
  • No annual fee.
Costco TrueEarnings Card from American Express
  • I've stopped using my Costco American Express card since it will be discontinued early in 2016. At this point, I have no need for an AmEx card since Costco will no longer accept it.
Citi ThankYou Card
  • 2X points on Dining Out & Entertainment
  • 1X points on everything else.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
  • 2.1% on travel and dining
  • 2.1% on everything else.
  • ($89 annual fee after first year)

PFS

Monday, January 25, 2016

What are Non-dividend Distributions?

This is a re-post of an article about non-dividend distributions, published in April 2015. Hopefully, I am early enough for people wondering about this topic on their 2015 taxes.

A couple of the stocks that I own made what are called a non-dividend distributions in 2014. This was reported to me on Form 1099-DIV in box 3 (Nondividend distributions). These distributions are not treated the same as ordinary (Box 1a) or qualified dividends (Box 1b). So this begs the question what is a non-dividend distribution?

I found the answer, on the website of one of the stocks that made a non -dividend distribution in 2014: Mattel, Inc. (Nasdaq: MAT). The third question in their FAQ is "What is a non-dividend distribution?"

A non-dividend distribution represents a return of a portion of the shareholder’s original investment in the stock of a corporation. Generally, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, a non-dividend distribution is first treated as a reduction in the shareholder’s tax basis in the stock held, and when the basis in the stock is reduced to zero, a non-dividend distribution is then treated as a capital gain to the shareholder.

Further down the page, Mattel has an example of how a non-dividend distribution works for tax purposes:

Non-dividend distribution Example

An individual who is a citizen of the United States owns one share of Company A, Inc. stock. This share was purchased on December 31, 2013 for $50.00. During 2014, the shareholder receives total dividends of $5.00 on his single share of stock. Assume that Company A, Inc. determines that for U.S. federal income tax purposes, 60% of the 2014 dividend should be treated as a non-dividend distribution and 40% should be treated as a dividend. Therefore for U.S. federal income tax reporting, this shareholder should treat $3.00 of the $5.00 distribution as a non-dividend distribution and $2.00 of the $5.00 distribution as a dividend.

The portion of the distribution which is treated as a dividend for U.S. tax purposes is taxable to the shareholder in 2014. Accordingly, this shareholder should report $2.00 of dividend income on his 2014 U.S. Federal Income Tax Return.

The portion of the distribution which is treated as a non-dividend distribution for U.S. federal income tax purposes will likely first reduce the shareholder’s basis in his stock.  Therefore, in 2014, the $3.00 of non-dividend distribution will likely reduce the shareholders basis in his stock from $50.00 to $47.00.  The reduction in basis should not be taxable in 2014 but may impact the amount of the taxable gain or loss recognized by the shareholder when the single share of Company A stock is sold.

Assume this shareholder sells his single share of Company A stock for $65.00 on June 1, 2015.  The shareholder’s gain from the sale of the single share of Company A stock for 2015 will likely be calculated as follows:

Original basis                                                                $50.00
Less: non-dividend distribution                                       ($ 3.00)
Adjusted basis                                                              $47.00
Sale proceeds                                                               $65.00
Less: Adjusted basis (above)                                         ($47.00)
Capital gain                                                                   $18.00

I hope this information is helpful to people wanting to know more about non-dividend distributions.

Disclaimer: This example is not intended to be tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for advice specific to your situation.

PFS

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Money Market Rates 12/15

Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

1.05% GE Capital Bank Online Savings
1.00% Ally Bank Online Savings
0.95% Discover Bank Online Savings
0.95% FNBO Direct Online Savings
0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
0.25% Western FCU Money Market
0.05% Citibank Savings Plus
0.03% Chase Plus Savings

In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 12/21/15. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. I recently added GE Capital Bank to the list, and GE has announced plans to sell their online deposit accounts to Goldman Sachs Bank. By a small margin, GE Capital Bank Online Savings retains the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

DC

Monday, November 23, 2015

Credit Card Bonuses Q1 2016

Save money on purchases and get cash back with the following coupon codes and credit cards:

Citi Dividend Card
  • 5% cash back 1/1/16 - 3/31/16: New Beginnings. 
  • 1% on everything else.
Discover Card
  • 5% cash back 1/1/16 - 3/31/16: Gas & Ground Transportation
  • up to 1% on everything else.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
  • 2.1% on travel and dining
  • 1.05% on everything else.
  • No annual fee.
    Costco TrueEarnings Card from American Express
    • I've stopped using my Costco American Express card since it will be discontinued early in 2016. At this point, I have no need for an AmEx card since Costco will no longer accept it.
    Citi ThankYou Card
    • 2X points on Dining Out & Entertainment
    • 1X points on everything else.
    Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
    • 2.1% on travel and dining
    • 2.1% on everything else.
    • ($89 annual fee after first year)

    PFS

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Flex Spending Accounts Again

    It is that time of year again when companies hold their annual open enrollment. This is when employees have the opportunity to change medical or dental plans, and to opt into making contributions to a flexible spending account (FSA). In general, a flexible spending account allows one to deposit pre-tax dollars into the account to pay for medical expenses, or to pay for dependent care. (Note that these are two different types of accounts.) The ability to use pre-tax money to pay for expenses is a good benefit that can save you money.

    One thing to keep in mind when contributing to an FSA is that most flex spending accounts operate on a "use it or lose it" basis. This means that any balance you have in the account at the end of the calendar year is forfeited to your employer.

    However, some employers offer either a grace period, or allow funds to be rolled over to the following year.

    • Under the grace period rule, a FSA plan can permit an employee to use amounts remaining from the previous year to pay expenses incurred for certain qualified benefits during the period of up to two and a half months into the following plan year.
    • Or an FSA can allow up to $500 of unused amounts remaining at the end of a plan year in a health FSA to be used toward qualified medical expenses incurred during the following plan year (rollover), provided that the plan does not also incorporate the grace period rule.

    Having said this, it is the choice of the employer (NOT the employee) to offer either of these options. This is something that it pays to ask your employer about.

    Warning:
    Remember that if you have a balance in your FSA when you leave your company, the "use it or lose it" provision generally applies. This is true even if you are terminated without cause (i.e., laid off). Any money that you have left in your FSA plan when you are terminated will be kept by your former employer. This may seem totally unfair, but that has been my real life experience.

    PFS

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Credit Card Bonuses

    Save money on purchases and get cash back with the following coupon codes and credit cards:

    Citi Dividend Card
    • 5% cash back 10/1/15 - 12/31/15: Best Buy & Department Stores
    • 1% on everything else.
    Discover Card
    • 5% cash back 10/1/15 - 12/31/15: Online Shopping & Department Stores purchases
    • up to 1% on everything else.
    Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
    • 2.2% on travel and dining
    • 1.1% on everything else.
    • No annual fee.
      Costco TrueEarnings Card from American Express
      • 3% cash back at gas stations
      • 2% cash back on restaurants, and travel
      • 1% on everything else.
      Citi ThankYou Card
      • 2X points on Dining Out & Entertainment
      • 1X points on everything else.
      Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard (Travel Rewards)
      • 2.2% on travel and dining
      • 2.2% on everything else.
      • ($89 annual fee after first year)

      Also see the complete collection of PFStock Money Tips:
      PF Stock Money Tips #1: Use Coupons
      PF Stock Money Tips #2: Credit Cards
      PF Stock Money Tips #3: Taxes
      PF Stock Money Tips #4: Shopping
      PF Stock Money Tips #5: Organize Your Purchases
      PF Stock Money Tips #6: Reduce Wasteful Spending
      PF Stock Money Tips #7: Live Below Your Means
      PF Stock Money Tips #8: Plan Your Finances

      DC

      Tuesday, August 25, 2015

      Money Market Rates 8/15

      Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

      1.05% GE Capital Bank Online Savings
      0.99% Ally Bank Online Savings
      0.95% Discover Bank Online Savings
      0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
      0.75% FNBO Direct Online Savings
      0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
      0.25% Western FCU Money Market
      0.05% Citibank Savings Plus
      0.03% Chase Plus Savings

      In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 8/24/15. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. I recently added GE Capital Bank to the list, and GE has announced plans to sell their online deposit accounts to Goldman Sachs Bank. By a small margin, GE Capital Bank Online Savings retains the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

      The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

      So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

      DC

      Monday, July 20, 2015

      Discover Card Cashback Bonus Categories (2015)

      Discover Card offers a 5% cashback bonus on a "seasonally rotating" list of spending categories. For the 2015, these bonus categories are as follows:

      Q1 2015 (Gas & Ground Transportation): Gas Stations, Trains, Buses, Taxis, Rental Cars
      Q2 2015 (Food and Fun): Restaurants and Movies
      Q3 2015 (Summer Spruce Up & More): Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.com
      Q4 2015 (Holiday Shopping): Online Shopping & Department Stores purchases

      Note that "Q3 2015" means from July 1 - September 30, 2015. Also note that even if you have a Discover Card, the enrollment is not automatic. You have to login and activate (sign up for) this offer with Discover.

      PF Stock

      Tuesday, June 23, 2015

      Money Market Rates 6/15

      Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

      1.05% GE Capital Bank Online Savings
      0.99% Ally Bank Online Savings
      0.90% Discover Bank Online Savings
      0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
      0.75% FNBO Direct Online Savings
      0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
      0.25% Western FCU Money Market
      0.05% Citibank Savings Plus
      0.03% Chase Plus Savings

      In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 6/22/15. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. This month, I have added GE Capital Bank to the list. By a small margin, GE Capital Bank Online Savings retains the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

      The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

      So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

      DC

      Monday, May 11, 2015

      Apple Pay Has a Big Future if Nielsen Reports are Anything To Go By

      Reports by Nielsen, the New York and Diemen based American global measurement and information firm indicate that:

      • 45 percent of consumers have used a scanned QR/barcode to process mobile payments,
      • 37 percent have made mobile payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies,
      • 24 percent have used a mobile credit card reader and
      • 22 percent a mobile peer-to-peer app to pay for goods and services.

      Of all the mobile m-commerce applications that have been used by consumers, a mobile based payment service that has a  feature used the most by consumers is likely to receive the most adoption. This is supported by an infographic designed by eMerchantBroker dubbed, The Evolution of Mobile Payments. The Apple Pay that was officially announced by Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook on September 2014 uses sensors to enable users to process payments for goods and services by simply swiping their smartphones.

      In this regard, the Apple Pay service uses exactly the form of technology reported by Nielsen to have the highest rate of adoption. Just as in the case of other Quick Response Code reader technologies, the user of an Apple Pay service simply has to swipe their iPhones to have the payment done without having to pull out any plastic or cash for the same. Gone are days when you would patiently wait for a network to process your transaction.

      Apple has done even more to make this Pay service really convenient. They are revolutionizing the credit card and debit card industry by digitizing the plastic money through its alliances with MasterCard Inc., Visa Inc. and American Express Co.

      It is supporting debit and credit cards from institutions including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp., Citigroup Inc., and a host of other key financial institutions that represent about 83 percent of the United States’ total credit-card purchase.

      Tuesday, April 21, 2015

      Money Market Rates 4/15

      Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

      1.05% GE Capital Bank Online Savings
      0.99% Ally Bank Online Savings
      0.90% Discover Bank Online Savings
      0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
      0.75% FNBO Direct Online Savings
      0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
      0.25% Western FCU Money Market
      0.05% Citibank Savings Plus
      0.03% Chase Plus Savings

      In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 4/20/15. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. This month, I have added GE Capital Bank to the list. By a small margin, GE Capital Bank Online Savings now has the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

      The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

      So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

      DC

      Tuesday, March 17, 2015

      Money Market Rates 3/15

      Here are the latest money market interest rates of the banks that I've been tracking on my blog. Note that these rates are sorted by APY, and represent institutions that I have accounts at, or have otherwise mentioned in my blog:

      1.05% GE Capital Bank Online Savings
      0.99% Ally Bank Online Savings
      0.90% Discover Bank Online Savings
      0.90% American Express High Yield Savings
      0.75% FNBO Direct Online Savings
      0.75% Capital One 360 Savings
      0.25% Western FCU Money Market
      0.05% Citibank Savings Plus
      0.03% Chase Plus Savings

      In some cases, MMA interest rates are tiered. If this is the case, I usually report the interest rate at the $10,000 tier in these updates. Rates are believed to be accurate as of 3/16/15. I did not include banks that had special, or introductory rates in the list because they are not ongoing interest rates. I am also not including non-liquid accounts such as CD's in the list. I have included one credit union in the list so that readers have a comparison point with banks. This month, I have added GE Capital Bank to the list. By a small margin, GE Capital Bank Online Savings now has the top position on this list yielding 1.05% APY.

      The frequent changes show how variable the money market is. Because this is a constantly moving target, it has been very hard to keep track of the rates that I've been getting in my various money market accounts, and this is the main reason I've decided to compile a list of these annual percentage yields.

      So, that is the latest list of money market rates. Please let me know if you know of any higher interest rates.

      DC

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015

      Whole Foods Continues to Climb

      A few months back, I wrote the post, I Don't Remember Why I Bought Whole Foods. But I am glad that I did buy into Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM). At the time of that post, WFM closed at 46.81. As of yesterday, WFM was trading at 56.68, adding another 21% to the previous price.

      I am continuing to recommend Whole Foods Market Inc (Nasdaq: WFM) for purchase. This company is a retailer that operates the largest U.S. based chain of natural and organic food supermarkets. WFM again announced earnings that exceeded the Street's expectations. I have been following WFM for a while, and the recent price history of WFM is a bit rocky. The stock recent dropped as low as 36.08 in July 2014.

      WFM stock price is clearly turning around, Whole Foods is a member of the Standard and Poors 500 index. Some of the reasons that I have picked WFM are because of the following:
      • WFM has been consistently profitable for several years according to the S&P Stock Report. I do not generally recommend investing in unprofitable companies.
      • WFM has a current dividend yield of 0.91%. Note that this yield is less than in the last quarter because of the advance in stock price. But I like to know that if the stock price stagnates, I will still receive some income for having my money tied up.
      I firmly believe that WFM has reversed its downward direction, and that the worst is over for its stock price. So Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM) is now my latest stock pick. So far, WFM has been the best performer in my portfolio in the last year.

      PF Stock