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Part 2: Last minute tips for finding cash to spend today and to save you some tomorrow

By Dian Vujovich

I don’t know about you but any unexpected cash coming my way makes me very very merry. If the same is true for you here are couple of green stuff opportunities.

First, empty that piggy bank. No I didn’t break open my dog Grace’s college savings bank, but I did take a couple of small buckets of change to TD Bank to plop into their kiddies change machine.

The last time I was at this “America’s most convenient bank” to use their kiddies change counting machine it was free. Now the service costs 6 percent of the total amount collected, unless you’re a bank customer. In that case it’s free.

Oh well, convenience does come with a cost.

Anyway, my pounds of change tallied over $220 before the fee was taken out. Figure that’s enough for a nice dinner and some wine at say Taboo or the newly opened seafood restaurant on Sunrise, P.B. Catch.

Second, don’t forget that the IRS has refund checks for over 99,000 taxpayers who didn’t receive them because of mailing address errors. The average check amount: $1,547.

Info available by phoning the IRS, “Where’s My Refund?” line at 1-800-829-1954, or visiting IRS.gov.

Finally, a few items sometimes forgotten or overlooked from Timothy M. Steffen, director of financial planning at Robert W. Baird & Co.:

“Make sure you will have enough interest income and short-term gains to be able to deduct any margin interest paid during the year. Margin interest is deductible only against these types of investment income, although excess interest expense may be carried over to offset future investment earnings…… Beware of the wash sale rules as you divest of losing stocks. These rules prevent you from deducting a capital loss from the sale of a security if you buy a “substantially identical” position within a 61-day period, beginning 30 days before the day of sale and continuing for 30 days after the day of sale. The wash sale rules don’t apply to any sales for a gain. This wash sale rule is especially important to remember during up and down markets like we’ve seen the last few years. You want to make sure you get the full tax benefit of any realized losses when available.…….In order to claim a loss for a “worthless stock”, you must be able to prove the stock had value at the end of 2010 but did not at the end of 2011. If you are unsure you can prove that the stock is truly worthless by the end of the year, you will need to sell the stock for whatever value you can in order to deduct a loss. In general, if the stock is still trading shares, it is not considered worthless. A bankruptcy filing by the company does not, on its own, indicate the stock is worthless….”

As always, check with your investment professional or CPA to make sure any of those ideas are a fit for you.

More to come in the daze ahead. Until then, empty that piggy bank and take someone out to share a holiday meal.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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