(MONEY Magazine) – TIP 1 Pssst...bridge for sale
Well, no, the Brooklyn Bridge isn't on the market. But e-mail con artists are out with a slew of new scams. Prepare to hit DELETE.
• SCORE IRAQI TREASURE! A U.S. soldier says that he's found post-Saddam loot and needs your help getting it home.
• SELL STUFF ONLINE! You sell an item in an online auction. The buyer pays you by cashier's check. But he sends you too much (oops!) and asks you to wire back the difference. Weeks later, of course, you find the check was a phony.
• YOU MISSED JURY DUTY! A court official calls to say you failed to appear for jury duty. To clear things up, the ID thief asks for your Social Security number and date of birth.
• GET BETTER MILEAGE! A Texas company has been hawking a pill that you put in your gas tank to increase fuel efficiency. (It's actually naphthalene, the stuff in mothballs.)
• EARN MONEY AT HOME! After you use a job-search site, a charity calls looking to hire a "donations handler" to process cashier's checks; you get a cut and wire the rest overseas. And if you believe that... --DAVID JACOBSON
TIP 2 Save on summer camp
As you might be discovering, camp is fun for kids but not fun for your budget. To cut the bill, Uncle Sam gives working parents these breaks for under-13 kids who attend day camp so parents can go to work:
• USE PRETAX DOLLARS The higher your income, the more you'll save by paying for camp with cash from a dependent-care flexible spending account, which you have to set up during open enrollment at work.
• PLAN AHEAD If your kids will go back next summer, arrange for FSA contributions during your benefits open enrollment this fall.
• SAVE RECEIPTS No FSA? Get the child- and dependent-care credit for this tax year: 20% of up to $3,000 in camp costs for one child or double that for more kids--enough to fund a vacation of your own. --CAROLYN BIGDA
TIP 3 Get a break on a hybrid
There's new urgency to the tax credit of $650 to $3,150 that you can get on hybrid cars before 2010. The credit is phased out once a maker sells 60,000 vehicles, and a few are getting close.
• SHOP DEALERSHIPS Toyota just hit the 60,000 mark; the phaseout leaves you only until Sept. 30 to get the full credit on a Toyota or Lexus. Some dealers have waiting lists of as long as five weeks for the cars, so shop around. If one dealer is sold out, you may find cars in stock down the road.
• SHOP BRANDS Or consider another manufacturer. Honda isn't expected to pass 60 grand until sometime in 2007, and Ford in '08. Check out HybridCars.com for news on credits (click on Incentives & Laws) as well as tips on finding the best hybrid dealers (see Shopping Tools). --C.B.
...Analyze this: In a recent reader survey on the Financial Times website, FT.com, 64% of respondents said stock analysts are "worthless"...
...Fashion 101: American families spent $6 billion on back-to-school clothes in 2004, the most recent year for which the U.S. Census has data...
Winning the airline miles game 29
Fighting credit-card fraud the hard way by Ellen McGirt 30
Don't go broke giving to charity by Jean Chatzky 38