Do You Have to Pay Tax on Interest From High-Yield CDs?
Certificate of deposit (CD) accounts have become far more popular over the past couple years, and it’s easy to see why. As the Federal Reserve has hiked the benchmark federal funds rate in an effort to combat inflation, CD yields have risen sharply. It is now possible to get a 1-year or 2-year CD with a yield significantly greater than 5% — a solid return for a risk-free investment.However, with many people adding CDs to their saving and investing strategies for the first time, it’s important to know what it could mean for your tax bill.Is CD interest taxable?The short answer is yes. Interest you earn from a CD, is considered “interest income” in the eyes of the IRS, and is therefore subject to federal income tax.Not only that, but interest income is taxed as ordinary income. While capital gains and qualified dividend income is taxed at preferential rates in most cases, interest income is taxed according to your marginal tax rate.One important point is that CD interest is taxable in the year it was paid even if you leave it in the account. It doesn’t necessarily need to be paid directly to you, or even be available for withdrawal without penalty. In other words, if you have a 5-year CD, you’ll have to report the interest you earn every year.CD interest tax reporting requirementsTechnically, you are supposed to report every dollar of taxable income to the IRS. But for practical purposes, the IRS sets minimum thresholds of income that banks, employers, and other entities are required to report.In most cases, if you have earned more than $10 in interest during a single year, the bank or credit union that paid the interest is required to send you a tax document known as a 1099-INT statement. And all taxpayers should know is that if you receive a tax document, it’s a safe assumption that the IRS received a copy as well and knows about the income.Even if your bank doesn’t send you a 1099-INT, or you simply don’t receive one in the mail for one reason or another, you’re required to report interest income of $10 or more. This is a fairly low threshold, and it means that if you owned a CD with at least a few hundred dollars in it during 2023, there’s a strong probability you’ll have reportable interest income.Can you avoid paying tax on your CD interest?There are some situations where you might be able to reduce your tax bill, or even avoid taxes on your CD interest entirely. As one example, if you pay an early withdrawal penalty for taking money from a CD early, it can be deducted from your taxable income, even if it exceeds the interest income you earned.Another way to avoid taxes on CD interest is to use a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as a traditional or Roth IRA. Many banks allow customers to open an IRA, and many of the top online brokerages offer a selection of CDs issued by several different banks. For the 2023 tax year, you can contribute as much as $6,500 to IRAs, or $7,500 if you are 50 or older, and you might even be able to deduct the amount of money you put into the account and avoid taxes on interest income. Keep these tips in mind if you’re hoping to lower your tax bill for the CDs you own.Â
The Hidden Downside of Always Flying Business Class
By: Lyle Daly |
– First published on Nov. 5, 2023
I flew business class for the first time a little over five years ago, on an eight-hour flight back to the United States. While I had flown first class on domestic flights before, this was a whole new level of travel for me. A seat that turned into a bed? I was hooked. My immediate reaction was “This is how I always want to fly.”And that’s what I’ve done. Travel is one of the things I don’t mind spending money on, so flying in business class is worth it to me. I’ve also used quite a few travel credit cards to cover the cost of some of that airfare in miles instead of cash.There’s a lot to like about flying business class. The seats are definitely much more comfortable, especially when they’re lie-flat seats. The meals can be pretty impressive, at least for something served on an airplane. Most people would probably assume there aren’t any real downsides, besides the higher cost.It’s mostly as good as advertised. But when you always fly business class, there is a potential downside that doesn’t get talked about much.Your travel standards go way, way upA single flight in business class might not change the way you look at travel. It’s nice, but you may consider it a one-time thing, or a way to treat yourself on special occasions.On the other hand, if you always fly in business class, then it’s almost certainly going to raise your travel standards. You get used to that level of service and luxury. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does have consequences.For one, it becomes normal for you. It’s hard to go back to flying economy once you’ve gotten used to the perks of business class. And even business class loses some of its magic. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But it doesn’t wow me nearly as much as it did the first couple of times. At this point, I know the drill.It doesn’t just raise your standards for air travel, either. It will probably raise them across the board. When you always treat yourself to a nice flight, you may feel like you should do the same with your accommodations. No more hostels, questionable Airbnbs, or budget hotels. If you’re going to get to your destination in style, shouldn’t you stay in a nice hotel, too?There’s a good chance you’ll start expecting more from your travels. To get more, you usually need to pay more. Between airfare and hotels, you could end up spending much more than you used to.Embrace the change — or don’tTo reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with having high standards when you travel. Many people go from budget travel as young adults to more expensive trips as they get older. If you want to fly business class for every trip and stay in premium hotels, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Everyone has their priorities with how they spend their money.You should, however, be ready for the costs involved. It’s not worth going into debt just so you can travel in luxury. Here are a few ways to finance those business-class flights, fancy hotel stays, and meals at Michelin star restaurants.Set up a travel fund and contribute to it every month. Open a high-yield savings account to serve as your travel fund. If you already have a savings account, you can also set up a sub-savings account specifically for travel. Then, decide how much you’ll transfer to it every month.Cut back on other expenses so you have more money to spend on travel. If travel is a priority for you, that may mean spending less on other, less important expenses. For example, I haven’t had a car for years because I can get around fine without one. Instead of an expensive car payment, I’d rather have more money I can spend on vacations. Part of improving your personal finances is deciding where you can spend and get the most out of your money.Get a travel credit card and use it to pay for all your purchases. Travel cards earn rewards that you can use to cover travel expenses. If you love to travel, it makes sense to have one of these credit cards. You can use it to pay for your regular expenses, and then use the rewards you earn to save on your travel costs.You may also discover that you’re fine with any type of trip. Some travelers don’t care about all the bells and whistles. There’s no right or wrong way to travel. Just know that if you start making higher-end travel a regular part of your life, it can be hard to go back.
Is It Worth Buying a Drink Package on a Carnival Cruise?
If you want to do the math and calculate your savings potential, ask yourself how many of each category of beverage you’d likely order in the average day. Add up the prices and compare it with the per-day cost of the CHEERS! program for your cruise to see if the cost is justified.Of course, there are other benefits of the CHEERS! program to consider. For example, you can order a drink or specialty coffee you aren’t sure you’ll like — and if you don’t like it, simply order another one without wasting any money. And since bottled water is included, you can simply ask for one every time you order a drink and carry them with you throughout your trip.The bottom line is CHEERS! can certainly be worthwhile on your next Carnival cruise, even if you don’t plan to drink a lot of alcoholic beverages. But it depends on your preferences, budget, and how much you’ll utilize the various beverage options that come with it.
7 Habits of the Super Rich You Can Adopt Today
By: Chris Neiger |
– First published on Nov. 13, 2023
There’s always room for improvement in life, and when it comes to personal finances, there are plenty of lessons all of us could learn from the super rich.Whether you’re looking for a few tips to help you earn more money or are looking for good habits to improve your life, here’s how the ultra-wealthy spend their time and use their money, according to financial planners.1. They set goals for their dreamsTom Corley, an accountant, financial planner, and author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, says that one thing wealthy people do nearly every day is setting goals for things they want to achieve. Corley says that 80% of the wealthy people he interviewed spent an hour a day doing this.Sitting down and putting your ideas down on paper is not only easy to do, but you’re also 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down, according to research from Dr. Gail Matthews.2. They stay out of debtCertified Financial Planner Faron Daugs told CNBC a few years ago that his wealthy clients — who didn’t inherit money — avoid debt and try to pay off what they owe quickly. This may mean avoiding high-interest credit cards and other forms of consumer debt.America’s credit card debt topped $1 trillion recently, indicating that many of us would benefit from developing a strategy to consolidate debt and eliminate it.3. They learn new thingsMost rich people Corley wrote about took an hour daily to learn something new or perfect a skill enough to be proficient. It doesn’t have to be related to your job, either. For example, billionaire and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has learned jiu-jitsu and competes in tournaments.4. They have emergency fundsWhile most financial experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of expenses in a savings account, the wealthy have six to nine months saved up, according to Daugs. If you need help starting your emergency fund, open up a high-yield savings account and aim to save $1,000.5. They exerciseWhile it may not benefit your bottom line — unless you’re a YouTube workout influencer — getting regular exercise is good for your physical health, reduces stress, and helps your mental focus. You don’t need an expensive gym membership either; you can easily meet your fitness goals on a budget.6. They build relationshipsCorley’s research found that 90% of rich people he spoke with spend 30 minutes per day building relationships. Some of it was networking, but others simply made sure to make contact with the people they knew, whether it was for a life event or just to say hello.7. They have additional income streamsââThe super rich invest their money and diversify their income streams, such as by owning rental properties. You can start following in their footsteps by buying a few stocks, renting out a room in your home, or starting a side hustle.The super rich take practical stepsYou might have noticed that none of these habits are earth-shattering. Much of the super rich’s habits are just simple, practical steps toward improving their lives.And while most of us don’t have access to the same resources as the ultra-wealthy, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few good habits from them. For example, I’ve been considering signing up for an online learning platform, like MasterClass, just for fun. When I came across the research about the super rich learning new skills, it reminded me I should follow through with the idea.There’s likely one habit on this list you might not be putting into practice that you can learn from. I chose learning something new because it was already on my mindâ¦and, maybe, because exercising is hard.
Will SNAP Benefits Increase in 2024?
By: Chris Neiger |
– First published on Nov. 14, 2023
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal initiative to help families cover their monthly food costs. SNAP has some specific income and work eligibility requirements, but in general, the program can significantly help lower-income families who need extra help buying food.More than 22 million U.S. households — 12.5% of the population — receive SNAP benefits, according to Pew Research Center. The program is especially important right now as elevated inflation, rising interest rates, and the generally high cost of nearly everything have strained many Americans’ personal finances.Each year, the government decides how much SNAP benefits should increase for the next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, and in 2024, the amount has gone up slightly, but not by much.SNAP benefits have increased for 2024The U.S. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it will increase the SNAP maximum benefits for a family of four in 2024 to $973. And while the increase is likely welcomed by those using the program, it’s also a relatively modest increase of 3.6% from the previous year’s maximum benefits of $939.The USDA makes an annual cost-of-living adjustment for SNAP benefits, but the problem with this year’s increase is that it’s not keeping up with the rapid rise in food prices. The USDA cites on its own website that food prices are up by 5.8% on average this year, above the historical average. For example, in 2020, food costs increased by about 3.4%.The USDA may have made the SNAP benefits adjustment based on food cost predictions for 2024 — which are estimated to rise by 2.1%, instead of looking back on food prices from the previous year. The agency says the average monthly cost for a family of four, using the USDA’s strictest food budget, is $974.Still, the increase to $973 per month may not go far enough to help some families, especially given the fact that inflation has soared over the past couple of years. If you want to sign up for SNAP benefits, you can do so through your state. You can find local SNAP offices, contact information, eligibility requirements, and online applications on the USDA website.Food is just one part of a monthly budgetWhile receiving any type of food assistance is likely welcomed by some families, there’s no getting around the fact that most Americans’ monthly budgets are strained right now. The latest Consumer Price Index figures show how much prices have risen in the following categories over the past year:Shelter costs are up 7%Gas prices are up 3%Electricity prices have risen 2.6%Transportation services are up 9.1%With all those expenses rising, it’s unsurprising that Americans aren’t feeling optimistic about their finances right now. Nearly 70% of Americans say the economy is getting worse and not better, according to a recent Suffolk University and USA Today poll. And 49% say rising food prices are one of their biggest concerns.Keeping track of a month’s worth of expenses is complicated enough on its own, and it’s even harder when prices rise. A budgeting app can be a helpful tool to track where your money is going and even to track how much your spending in specific categories has changed.There’s no telling what will happen with the economy in 2024. Right now, the job market remains strong, and thankfully, inflation is slowing. But many Americans’ budgets will likely remain strained as their savings rate has fallen and credit card debt has topped $1 trillion.That may keep demand for SNAP benefits elevated, and it remains to be seen whether the latest increase in benefits for 2024 will be enough.