Archive for February, 2017:
Since then, we’ve used Southwest Rapid Rewards points accumulated from credit card bonus and spending and points earned my husband’s revenue bookings to pay for their flights. We will be able to do this 1-2 more times before we’ll need to transfer points from Chase or use the cash rate. Right now, his account has most of the points, and my account and my kids’ accounts are in the 900-1,800 each point range. Not enough for a flight anywhere.
As Rapid Rewards expire after 24 months with no new activity, I wanted to keep their points active in case we can use some in the future. Now, I’m looking at ways we can top off their accounts to be able to redeem them for a flight at some point. Here are some ideas:
- Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal to keep all accounts active. I was able to do this by purchasing a $2 Restaurant.com egift certificate through each of their portals and earning a few points for the transaction. This reset the expiration clock by 24 months. Purchases on iTunes are also a possibility for you Apple users.
- Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal for purchases from other retailers, including bonus offers. I can prioritize one account until we have enough for a plane ticket and then move on to another. Or, I could rotate through the accounts.
- Link their account to the Rapid Rewards Dining site. I have yet to earn points this way.
- I can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Southwest account in increments of 1,000, but only to authorized user’s accounts. You must have a premium Chase card to do this (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and certain business cards). Note that you can also earn points from shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, so it might make more sense to do your shopping there, unless the offer via Southwest is much better. So, I wouldn’t be able to transfer points to my kids’ accounts, but if I were listed as an authorized user on my husband’s (or vice versa) then we could do that.
- Purchase a revenue (cash) booking for the child, rather than a booking on points. I don’t know why I’d do that rather than use points, though. Maybe if there were some offer/incentive to do so.
- Purchase points from Southwest via Points.com. Right now, you can get a 40% points bonus when you buy a minimum of 5,000 points (so, 7,000 points for $137.50). Not worth it for my purposes, but it’s an option anyway. Note that the transaction wouldn’t likely code as “travel” for credit card category bonus spending, since the transaction is processed through Points.com rather than Southwest.
I think for right now, I will just make sure to use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal to keep all accounts active, and I will focus on the account with the highest balance for those Rapid Rewards shopping portal transactions, as long as shopping through another portal isn’t a better deal. Eventually, perhaps there will be enough for a cheap one-way ticket. Or eventually, we’ll book a cash booking and earn more points on their accounts.
Honestly, with the points-earning bonanza I’ve been on lately, it’s hard to say when we’ll be oh, you know, paying for a flight next. :D
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Everything You Should Know About Filing Your Taxes for the First Time
Filing your taxes for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. After all, the IRS means business when it comes to taxes. Perhaps you fear that you will make a mistake and the secret IRS police will come into your classroom and take you away. Or rather, you may be unsure as to whether you are actually getting the most out of your return. You may have many preconceived notions about what the IRS is like, making you terrified of making a mistake when you file. However, these issues should not burden you. This article is meant to dispel the common fears regarding tax season by educating you on everything you need to know about filing your taxes for the first time.
Obtain all of your W-2 Forms
Many students start off working multiple jobs. This is often the case in college or during summer breaks. Perhaps you started with one job, found you had extra time or did not make enough money, and then you gained another. Or perhaps you quit one job for another, higher paying job. You may have easily gone through three jobs in a year, so it is important to keep note of the jobs you have had. Furthermore, make sure all of your jobs, past and present, have updated information as to your current address. Make the process smoother by having the human resource department send your W-2 directly to you and not to your parents or an old apartment.
Check for Mistakes
The first thing you should do before you file is to check your statements for any errors. Your human resource department will not always be perfect, so it is always possible that they will make errors on your return. Check your W-2 for any errors in the spelling of your name, job position, and especially your social security number. If there is even one mistake, it is best to let your human resources department know so they can fix it and you can receive a new W-2. Secondly, you should check for any errors in your filing status and any taxes withheld. If it doesn’t match with your original W-4, let your job know to prevent further discrepancies with the IRS.
Remember You Cannot Claim Exemptions if you are a Dependent
Unfortunately, you will likely not get as much out of your return if you are still listed as a dependent. If you are unsure, ask your parents before filing. This is a common mistake students make. The IRS states that a dependent is either a qualifying child or qualifying relative who meets age requirements, full-time student status, or income. Investigate the details to be sure you are not a dependent.
Whether you owe or you are owed a return, you should always file. Tax law states that any student who earned less than $6,100 in the tax year does not have to file. This may be a relief to you if you forgot to file, however, you are missing a huge opportunity if you choose not to file. Because that amount makes up for such a small income, you can earn much of that money back. Not only that, but filing every year will get you in the habit of making it a priority so you always have accurate records.
Reach Out for Help
Many students reach out for extra assistance when they go to file their taxes. If you already find yourself in a complicated tax position, it is especially important. While accounting software can help you itemize all of your taxes and deductions, a tax professional can teach you so much more. By hiring a professional or talking to companies that help people with tax debt, you can get services with a human touch. You can ask questions to a live person who can educate you on tax law and help outline your financial future.
Filing your taxes doesn’t need to be scary. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be an old pro at filing in no time.