Ask Madison: Reader Mail Volume 6

Posted by Madison on February 15, 2012

My husband has one job and I have three. For one of my jobs I made $1,100, do I even need to claim my taxes for this job on my tax returns or can I just claim my other two jobs? – Amanda

If you need to file because you were over minimum income to file ($19,000 between you and your husband), then you will need to report all of the income from all of your jobs. You cannot pick and choose which jobs to include.

Here’s more on the minimums to file: How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?

Would you apply for each and every card with the slightest of credit back? What’s the impact of opening so many cards (assuming, anyone goes for each of these promotional cards that might be available) on the credit score? Will it not be wise to go after cards that give you 50k-75k points that can translate to a lot of $$ and flexibility?

Do you have articles that talk about the impacts of credit card application on the credit scores and when to cancel them and how long it takes to recover the scores back (if its a 5-10 point hit)? – Bhavin

No I don’t open every card. Here’s an article that I wrote the will be helpful to understand the impacts: How Much Do Credit Inquiries Really Matter? In general, I like to go for the big dollar sign ups.

Your website (Helpful Answers to Flexible Spending Account Questions) reads: “What happens to money I don’t use in my FSA? Flex plans are “use it or lose it” plans. Any money you leave in your flexible spending account at the end of the year (which often extends to March 15 of the following year using the IRS grace period), will be gone and no longer available for you to use.”

What happens to that money I don’t use in the FSA? Who receives it? My employer? The FSA manager?– Liz

Good question. The money left after you “lose it” is forfeited to the company. It’s also the same pool of money that pays out expenses for employees that have terminated. For example, I had laser eye surgery in January about 10 years ago. I paid for it with my entire annual amount of flexible spending money. However, I left that company in June that year and never had to contribute the other 6 months of my election.

I’m afraid I already know the answer, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask. Had a 0% interest rate deal on a card that ended on 2/2/12. I tried desperately to get that balance transferred before the interest accrued. The balance was $2910 and I was only able to transfer $2880.

Due to my lack of experience with the credit industry (I’ve only had a few cards in my entire life) and me dropping the ball with dates etc. ….AND I didn’t factor in that the 2 credit cards I opened to do the transfer …added fees, so instead of covering the entire debt + the little cushion I added in, it didn’t cover the full amount. So of course now I have a bill for the entire interest amount $1400.

Is there ANYTHING that you can think of that I can do to correct my HUGE mistake? Or is this just a very expensive lesson? Thank you SO much for your time. I love reading your emails! – Lezza

I would call the credit card company immediately! Explain what happened and politely mention that you paid every bill on time, and this was just a mistake, as you fully intended to pay it off in time.

I once missed a payment on a 0% card and I called and just explained it was a mistake and I was wondering if there was anything they could do. They offered to fix it for me.

Of course, they could say no, but they might be willing to waive some of the interest/fees, etc. It’s worth a shot! I’ll cross my fingers for you!

Unfortunately, Lezza’s example is exactly the type of thing that can go wrong if you don’t manage a 0% balance transfer with attention to every little detail. We’re all human, and sometimes we make mistakes, but it’s a good reminder for all of us about the risk/reward relationship of credit card promos, and how one misstep can wipe out all of the savings.

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