Attaching a value to your airline miles and points

How do you value your frequent-flier miles and hotel points and maximize their value? If I were a tech bro (which I am not), I might have called it “travel hacking.” Instead, I will call it “optimizing your digital currency.”

Hotel points and miles you have both from actual flying and from credit card spending have significant value. However, the value may not be as clear as money in a bank account. There has been a rush in the past few years to market airline and hotel-branded credit cards that reward card holders with points and miles based on every dollar of spending. While this may seem good for consumers, remember that the airlines are carrying the miles as a liability in their balance sheets. It is in their best interest to encourage customers to use up their miles.

How to exercise due diligence to make the right financial decisions

I heard a radio commercial the other morning while commuting to work. It was from some real estate firm that promised to teach me how to buy, hold and sell properties with no money down and no risk. Imagine that: No risk! How could anyone turn down such an offer?

  It can be difficult to exercise the due diligence necessary to make good investment decisions. It is easier, however, to avoid making bad ones by watching out for questionable claims that suggest a questionable investment. Following are a few from my list.

When business rights trump personhood rights

Some people really are more equal than others. The people I speak of, by law, in the United States are corporations. How can that be, you ask?

First note that other than voting – and let’s face it, lobbying is a more effective gig – breathing and eating, corporations have been granted personhood via legal fiction in the U.S.

Is a sixth financial crash on the horizon?

Scott Nations explores the sources of the five largest stock market collapses in U.S. history in his recently published book “A History of the United States in Five Crashes.”

The crashes all were caused by new, complex and poorly understood investment “contraptions,” lax regulations and the lack of market liquidity prompted by too much selling too quickly.

4 ways your pet can help reduce your taxes

In honor of tax reporting season, following are four ways you might be able to use your pet to save money on your income taxes. Thanks to Emily Zulz of ThinkAdvisor.com for compiling the original list.

1. Hire your pet for your small business. You read that right. If you are a small-business owner, consider using your dog for security or your cat for rodent control. Expenses such as food, veterinary care and training for the animal could qualify for a business deduction. And you wouldn’t even have to pay them a salary! If your pets don’t actually live full time on the business premises, you might still be able to prorate their expenses during the times they are faithfully executing their business duties.

'As is': Reading between legal lines

Let’s take a look at what the phrase “as is” means in the legal world. If you are selling something as an individual, must you tell the other person or write down the phrase “as is”? How about when you sell something in your capacity as a business? These two little words together can mean many things in legalese.

The basic rule is this: “All sales of goods, by a merchant, who regularly sells goods of a like kind, come with the seller’s guaranty (or warranty) that the goods are of a merchantable quality, unless properly disclaimed.”


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