Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

‘Earn and Burn’ Your Airline Rewards to Maximize Free Flights

Why is it a mistake to save those miles for the future? As NerdWallet explains—and as I recently learned—credit card issuers frequently update their rewards programs. Points and miles can lose value, which is why sites like The Points Guy track monthly valuations, and point/mile earning options can be adjusted or eliminated completely.

Always Carry Cash So You Can Leave Tips

Take hotel housekeeping, for example. Unless you have cash on hand, how do you tip the people who clean your room and make your bed? USA Today proposes a complicated system in which you first ask the concierge whether any part of your hotel bill, such as the service charge, is distributed to housekeepers, and then “Ask the concierge to increase the amount of the service charge if the hotel automatically includes an amount that you feel is too low.”

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Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

How Much You Should Pay for Legal Weed, According to a Budtender

According to the 2018 Cannabis Price Index, buying legal weed in America will cost you between $7 and $11 per gram, depending on where you live. However, that won’t be much help when you’re trying to figure out whether a certain tincture or pack of gummies is a good deal. Likewise, certain strains of weed are more expensive than others—does that mean the pricier weed will give you a better experience, or does it mean you’re wasting your money?

Consider How a Potential Roommate Might Affect You Financially

When I was in grad school, I came home from class one day to find that one of my three roommates had moved out.

I also learned that I would not be receiving her portion of the unpaid rent—because it was one of those situations where one roommate wrote a check to the landlord (and the utility companies) and the other roommates left money on the kitchen counter to pay their share.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Get Bigger Social Security Checks by Delaying Your Payout

If you can’t make it a few years without Social Security, even delaying retirement for a short period of time (like, half a year) can increase those Social Security checks. Waiting pays off—literally.

Here’s Everything a Financial Guru Can Tell You

If you’ve read as many financial guides as I have (and at this point, I feel like I’ve read nearly all of them) you quickly realize they’re all saying the same thing. The catchy phrases and psychological techniques might differ—Dave Ramsey has his Debt Snowball, Vicki Robin has her Gazingus Pins—but the advice, at its core, is nearly identical.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

What I Learned From Learning How to Say No

When I realized that I needed to get better at saying no, I started with extremely low-stakes situations, such as telling an acquaintance that I couldn’t meet up for drinks. When I realized that saying no in a single situation didn’t cause a chain-reaction of unwanted consequences—like, the acquaintance didn’t hate me forever, we saw each other at another social event and it was fine—I practiced saying no to close friends. Still fine. Miraculously, our friendship survived the great “I don’t feel like tacos tonight” incident of 2016, which prepared me for more difficult decisions like “I won’t be able to join the big friend trip this year.”

How to Manage Household Finances After Your Spouse Dies

If you and your spouse also divide financial chores, make sure both of you understand not only the state of the household finances but also how to complete each other’s tasks. Consider creating a hard copy list of financial accounts, with login and password information where appropriate—and keep it updated. If you’re concerned about password security, you can deposit that list with your lawyer or with the executor of your will. (You do have a will, right?)

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

You Probably Got a Tax Cut, Even if It Doesn’t Feel Like It

Did you get a tax cut this year? According to new data from the Tax Policy Center, the majority of Americans did in fact pay fewer taxes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—but since many of us are getting smaller refunds (or no refunds at all), it might not feel like it.

How to Pay the Exact Amount of Taxes You Owe in Advance

Now that most of us have paid our taxes—and now that we understand how our tax burden has shifted thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—it’s time to start planning for Tax Year 2019.

For some of us, that might mean trying to end the 2019 tax year with a bill of exactly $0—that is, you’ve already paid everything you owe in taxes and no more. You don’t get a refund, but you don’t have to pay any additional taxes. It’s kind of like getting a perfect score on tax payment.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

How to Talk About Money on the First Date

According to Bankrate, 35% of Millennials—and 36% of Gen Z—would feel comfortable asking about money on the first date. But how, exactly, do you bring up the subject?

Shorter Projects Are Often Better for Freelancers Than Longer Ones

I’ve been in the freelancing business for seven years now, and I get why The Freelancer is arguing that a bunch of short projects can be better than one long project, even if the longer project pays more.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Learn How Your Income—and Your Tax Burden—Compares to Others

There’s also a huge difference between gross income and adjusted gross income, especially if you work for yourself; my 2017 gross income, for example, was $66,224—but my adjusted gross income was $41,580 and my taxable income after deductions/exemptions dropped to $31,180. My total federal tax burden that year, including regular and self-employment tax, was $11,889.

Which Airlines Give You Miles for Booking an Airbnb?

If you like both Airbnb and airline miles, a handful of airlines are ready to reward you for booking Airbnb stays through them—or for becoming an Airbnb host.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

A New Bill Would Make it Harder to Do Your Taxes for Free

Last week, the House of Representatives introduced H.R.1957, aka “the Taxpayer First Act of 2019.” This bill, which might more accurately be called “the Tax Software First Act of 2019,” prevents the IRS from creating an online tax filing system—which means we’ll only be able to e-file our taxes through a third-party program.

Don’t Pay Debit on Anything You Can’t Afford to Lose

Debit cards come with significantly fewer protections than credit cards—which means that although you can get your money back if you book a flight on a budget airline that goes out of business with no warning, it’s a lot harder than it would have been if you’d used credit.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Want to Build Your Career? Ask Your Boss These Questions

When I was in my late 20s, I spent four years working as an executive assistant at a think tank in Washington, DC. During that time, I did my best to ask for feedback, but after reading Zhuo’s list of questions I realize how unspecific my requests were.

Asking “is there anything I can do to improve,” for example, is too broad; my managers gave responses like “you’re doing fine” or “I’ll let you know,” both of which probably meant “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.” Bosses are busy, and—unless you’re making repeated mistakes or significantly underperforming at your job—aren’t likely to have constructive criticism at the ready.

If You Can’t Afford an Unexpected Tax Bill, Try Paying in Installments

One of the worst things about paying taxes is that you often don’t know what your tax bill is going to be until right before the deadline.

Some years, you learn that you’ve paid more than enough taxes thanks to withholdings and estimated tax payments. You get a tax refund. Great!

Some years, you discover that you haven’t been withholding enough cash from your paychecks—which means you have a tax bill due on April 15. Less great, especially if you don’t have enough money in your bank account to cover the tax burden.