Friday, February 20, 2015

Save Through a Credit Union, Hit the Lottery

While everybody who can count on their fingers knows that saving is a surer road to money than playing the lottery, the lure of the big score makes lotteries fat and savings slim. Often, savings institutions and their fees make savings an unattractive idea. But some credit unions in four states--Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington--are offering savers in their credit unions the chance to have their savings cake, and eat some lottery winnings.
 
Here's how it works: if you start an account, you get a chance to win a lottery held at least once a year. The more you save, the more chances you get to win. You. get another "ticket" with each $25 in savings. So the more you save, the better your chances of winning.
 
Where are these.credit unions? Right note, they are in those four states and can be found in this directory. But there may be more in the future, since federal laws are allowing more states to create laws that enable "save to win" accounts. See if a nearby credit union offers this option.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Interest Free Loans to Fix Homes in Detroit

Fixing up your Detroit home just got easier. In the state of the city address, Mayor Duggan announced a program to give zero interest loans to Detroit homeowners who have owned their homes at least six months before applying. Low income homeowners are qualified within any area in the city. Within certain qualifying areas, all homeowners may qualify.
 
However, you must have a minimum credit score of 560. If you don't, you can get credit counseling to help improve your credit. The loans are between $5000 and $25000. The loans concentrate on health and safety improvements.
Applications will be available in March, online or at the city's recreation centers, neighborhood intake centers, and neighborhood district manager's offices. For more information, call the Detroit Planning and Development Center at 313) 224-2560.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Get Free Help Filling Out FAFSA Forms

This coming Sunday, there will be free help to students around the country in filling out the federal student aid forms (FAFSA). College Goal Sunday will be observed this year on February 8th at locations all around the country. Find the place closest to you and contact them about getting assistance on the 8th.
 
Even if you can't get there Sunday, the College Goal page is a great source of information. For instance, did you know that you can apply for FAFSA even if your parents are undocumented? Or the newest online practice sheet? The blog page is a cornucopia of goodies for families and students.
 
And while you're at it, check out this listing of state student financial aid. Many states have financial aid unique to their students.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Now's the Time for Free Tax Preparation

The new tax season is the time for tax prep, and for low and moderate income taxpayers, free tax preparation is available. Finding out where is as easy as dialing 1-800-906-9887, or seeing this website and putting in your zip code. They are best able to tell you if you are due an earned income credit (or working, low income people), or how the new health care law affects your return.

This site has a list of what to bring so that your preparer can work on the forms. And while you won't get an instant tax refund, you won't lose a chunk of it to the preparer, like you will if your taxes
are prepared at an "instant tax return" place. Check out this video that explains the trouble of these instant return places--you lose a piece of your returns before you even get it.

In the Toledo area, getting an appointment with a tax preparer is as easy as dialing 211. If you have a household income of less than $53,000 give them a call.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Still Bonuses Available for Ohio Veterans of Afghanistan

While the deadline has passed for Ohio veterans to apply for a bonus for service in Iraq, veterans of the conflict of Afghanistan are still eligible to apply for a bonus. The president has only declared an end to hostilities in that country recently, and a deadline for veterans in that country has not yet been announced. So check the website, or call 1-877-644-6838.

If you have filed for a bonus as a veteran of Iraq, you need all your documentation ready and submitted by June 30

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cheaper Water for the Elderly Poor in Toledo, and More Water News

Water and its cost is converging in the news. In December, the Toledo City Council passed a law to increase the water price deduction for low income, 65 or over or permanently disabled Toledoans. The deduction for elderly or disabled Toledoans is 25%, but for low income people in those groups, the deduction will be increased to 40%. Contact the Lucas County Utility Department for more information.

Meanwhile, the brains behind the Detroit Water Project, which matches Detroiters in danger of having their water shut off with donors, is still in business and is reaching out to nonprofit groups in the city to find more Detroiters that need help. They are also considering spreading their work to other cities, so stay tuned. In an email, they said that they have come to believe that it's not just a Detroit issue, but a national one.

Speaking of such, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has a bill on this desk which makes it easier for cities to sell their water utilities to private firms, bypassing the former requirement that voters must directly vote on it. What could possibly go wrong? Stay tuned.

If you live anywhere else and need help, consult you 211 service in your home town, and look under "water service payment assistance."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Legit Flexible Work Opportunities, for At Home Work, and Opportunities for Veterans

Everybody seems to look for legitimate work at home opportunities. Flexjobs created a list of the top 100 top flex time and at home employers. Of these is Xerox, which now has a program of at home work for veterans and the spouses of service members. The Heroes @Home program aims to provide home employment for veterans and military spouses.

In the meantime, look out for the scams. Here are some clues.