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This website focuses on the more unusual ways to make and save money. But even when we go beyond making more and spending less to cover financial news and information in general we try to have something you haven't heard of before. The collection of money secrets below will show you why homes are advertised for sale without prices, how to make your kids's allowances tax deductible, and how many billionaires didn't bother getting a college degree. First, we look at some under-reported news from a couple years ago...

Man-Made Diamonds Are Better?

According to an article in Wired.com manufactured diamonds are here, and they are much cheaper than natural diamonds. What's the difference then? Lab manufactured diamonds are flawless. Natural diamonds normally have slight imperfections. Most dealers and cutters could never tell the difference. When these laboratory creations first hit the market almost a decade ago, wired.com had a reporter show a few to an expert in Antwerp, Belgium, who said they were worth $10,000 to $15,000. The reporter then told him they were made in a machine in Florida, at a cost of less than $100 each.

Once the news was out, De Beers Diamond Trading Company of London, which has had a virtual monopoly on the wholesale diamond market for many years, set up its Gem Defensive Programme. This involved warning the public about these non-natural diamonds (as though it is a problem that they are flawless). The company also started supplying dealers with sophisticated machines that can distinguish manufactured from mined gem stones. In other words, for the average person - or even the average jeweler - there is no easy way to tell the difference. So why pay much more for a flawed stone when you can get a man-made one. Online you can buy rings made with lab-created diamonds from places like sonadiamondjewelry.com

Tax Deductible Allowances for Kids

If you have any tasks in your business which your children are capable of doing, you can pay them and deduct the expense - instead of just giving them money. This is good for the kids and good for you at tax time.

Check with your accountant for any recent rule changes and to see what the annual limit is before they have to pay tax on the income. For the deduction to be allowed the pay has to reasonable. Just make it minimum wage and you should have no problem..

Selling Gold

The places that advertise on television are just about the worst when it comes to getting money from your gold jewelry or coins. Consumer reports found that they pay an average of only 11% to 29% of melt value. You should probably never take less than 50%, and there are places that regularly pay up to 70%. That means you can get up to six times as much for your gold if you shop around.

Start with your local coin shop. Many of these pay over 50% of the melt value. Jewelry stores also generally pay more than the television buyers. The price of gold can vary a lot in a matter of a week, so to compare your options fairly, call all the possible places on the same day to ask what they pay. You can determine the amount of gold in your jewelry by weighing it, noting the karat mark on it (if there is one), and then using the calculator at http://www.dendritics.com/scales/metal-calc.asp . You can also check the spot price of gold and other metals at Kitco.com.

Early IRA Distribution Secret

Normally if you take money out of your IRA account before age 59 1/2, you have to treat it as normal income and pay taxes on it plus a 10% penalty. However, there are some loopholes that can help you avoid the high cost of early withdrawals.

For example, if you use the money (subject to a $10,000 lifetime limitation) to buy your "first" home you can avoid paying the 10% penalty. It's important to note that this "first time homebuyer" exception applies to anyone who has not owned a home in the previous two years. Also, there are circumstances related to disability that may qualify you for penalty-free withdrawals. These rules may change, and there are other stipulations (like a deadline for using the money after you take it out), so seek advice from a tax professional.

Another secret to low-cost withdrawals is to take them when your income is low enough to reduce your tax rate. For example, if your normally paying a 28% marginal tax rate, but because of a layoff or other income reduction you'll only be paying 15% this year, your total cost to take money from your IRA - assuming you take only enough so you are still in that 15% bracket - would be 25% of it; 10% for the penalty and 15% income tax, That's less than the 28% you would have paid just in income tax in other years. This refers only to federal taxes, of course.

If you are self-employed and happen to be showing a loss for the year for your business, you could take $10,000 out of your IRA and pay only the 10% penalty, since your total income would still be less than your standard deduction and so no income tax will be due. This is true only for traditional IRAs, however. Ask your tax preparer about loopholes for Roth IRAs.

Negotiating Secret

Negotiating is full of emotional elements and needs. One of the most important is the need for a negotiator to feel he has done well - that he's "won" something. He won't get that feeling if he asks for ten things and you casually say, "okay." Even with points you can easily concede, be stingy in your concessions, so the other side can go to battle and emerge victorious. They will be more likely to give you what you really want if they feel they have already "won" on many points.

You can also use each concession to get a bit for your side. If there are things you win, but don't need, these can be offered up later in order to get what you really need.

The No-Price Money Secret

You have probably seen the ads in the paper for homes for sale that don't have prices listed. What do you do? Sometimes I may call, but there are so many homes to look at that I often just skip over these ones. So how did leaving the price out help the seller? It didn't.

If the price was there, callers would already be somewhat pre-qualified to buy the home, since they often know what they can afford. Of course those who are looking for less expensive homes wouldn't call, which is fine if an owner is selling it on his own. Why waste time, right? And why risk losing a sale to people like me who skip over non-priced homes?

The truth? This is a prospecting tool for real estate agents. It is good to have people call out of curiosity. When they find that the home isn't right for them, the agent can steer them to another listing that he can make money on. Meanwhile who cares if they lose a potential buyer or two for the home in question?

You should care, if you are the seller. Agents have enough ways to get buyers for other properties. Personally, I insist that they put the price of my home in their advertising.

Tracking Your Gambling

What happens if a person loses thousands of dollars at casinos over the course of a year, and then wins a $3,000 jackpot from a slot machine? In many cases the winner pays taxes on the whole amount because the offsetting losses have not been documented. To avoid this the IRS suggests that you keep receipts for lottery tickets, canceled checks written at casinos and so on. ATM receipts sometimes are allowed as evidence of loss as well if they are from a gambling location (casino, horse racing track, etc.). A detailed diary of wins and losses can help prove your case too. The latter is just a good idea in any case, so you can see what your habit/hobby really costs.

Unschooled Billionaires

Warren Buffet has a Master's degree in science, but was it important to his investing success? It is difficult to say, although we know that he was entrepreneurial from a young age and was already making good money before completing his college education. What we also know, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine (January 16, 2013), is that of the 400 richest people in the United States, 63 do not have a college degree of any sort. Education is obviously important (you have to learn something to get rich), but formal education may not be as crucial as many people think. In fact, it is hard to imagine that Bill gates would have even 1% of his current net worth (which is over $50 billion as this is being written) if he had chosen to stay in Harvard rather than drop out to create Microsoft.

On the other hand, he did go to Harvard for a while, and the contacts one makes can matter. In fact, more than 5% of the world's billionaires went to Harvard. Completing a degree may not be that important then, but meeting the right people always helps.



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