When traveling abroad, many smart phone users fail to recognize their data plan is constantly in use, even when they think their phone isn't, says the BBB. Follow these tips so you won't be surprised by your next bill.
With today's technology, cellphone users can surf the Web, receive emails and watch movies on their smart phones. When traveling abroad, many users fail to recognize their data plan is constantly in use, even when they think their phone isn't.
"Vacationers often rack up more expenses than initially planned when traveling," said Steve J. Bernas of the Better Business Bureau. "It's important to make sure you aren't paying extra for a cellphone not being used."
BBB advises consumers to do the following with their cellphone and cellphone provider in preparation for a trip abroad:
- Turn off your phone.
- Contact your cell phone provider.
- Invest in a prepaid SIM card.
- Check with your BBB.
For more information, go to www.bbb.org.
Tip of the Week
Your daily expenses and activities may be earning you valuable tax breaks. From child care and retirement savings to medical expenses and hobbies, you have many opportunities to save thousands on your federal taxes. Here are nine everyday ways to save on your 2011 federal tax return due April 17, 2012:
- Child care expenses. Parents who work, attend school or are disabled may be able to write off child care expenses for children younger than 13. The Child and Dependent Care Credit includes before- and after-school care and day camp (overnight camp does not qualify). The credit amount depends on income, but is generally 20 to 35 percent of up to $3,000 in qualifying expenses per dependent, or $6,000 for two or more dependents.
- Standard mileage. Instead of calculating costs of using a vehicle for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes, you can use the Internal Revenue Service's 2011 standard mileage rates. For the first half of the year, business miles are 51 cents per mile, and medical and moving miles are 19 cents. For business, medical and moving miles driven July 1, 2011 through the end of the year, you can claim 55.5 and 23.5 cents per mile. Mileage driven for charitable organizations is 14 cents per mile for all of 2011.
- Home office deduction. Whether you're self-employed or an employee, direct and indirect expenses for use of your home for business purposes may be deductible. The space must be exclusively and regularly used as the principal place of business or for business meetings with patients, clients and customers. The deductible amount is determined by the percentage of your home used and whether your gross business income is less than your total business expenses.
- IRA contributions. Depending on your adjusted gross income and whether you're covered by an employer-sponsored plan, you may deduct up to $5,000 of contributions to a traditional IRA. If you're 50 or older, you can deduct as much as $6,000. Contributions to both traditional and Roth IRAs for 2011 must be made by April 17, 2012.
- Medical expenses. If medical and dental expenses for you, your spouse and dependents exceed 7.5 percent of your AGI, costs paid in 2011 may qualify as an itemized deduction. Expenses meeting IRS criteria may include insurance premiums, fees paid to medical professionals, prescription drugs, transportation costs and hospital services.
- Charitable gifts. If you itemize deductions, you can deduct the cash amount or fair market value of the household goods donated to qualified organizations. Keep a copy of the bank record or official notification from the organization for monetary gifts. If you receive benefits in return for the contribution, you cannot deduct the value of the benefit. If your non-cash donations total $500 or more, you must file Form 8283 with your tax return.
According to Forbes, here are the top five businesses to start:
1. Catering service or a mobile food contractor
2. Graphic, interior or industrial design firm
3. Computer programming and website design consultancy
4. Bookkeeping and accounting service
5. Landscaping, janitorial or pest control service
Number to Know
642: Number of stores Borders had before it declared bankruptcy in February. It closed 226 stores after that filing.
A new tweeting record has been set, according to Twitter – the Women’s World Cup final saw 7,196 tweets per second at the end of the game, a new record.
GateHouse News Service