Thoughts on becoming an IRS Enrolled Agent

I received the following question about my thoughts on becoming an IRS Enrolled Agent :

I am interested in taking the enrolled agent exam.

How has being an enrolled agent benefited you professionaly?

What course of study did you use to pass the exam.

Thanks for the question

I'm not a practicing EA, so it really hasn't directly helped me. I mostly took the exam quite a while ago to get some "certification" when I was thinking about being a financial planner.

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Linux / Unix interview questions

Here are some Linux / Unix questions you might encounter during a technical interview.

Describe Unix run levels. What does run-level 3 mean?

A program is running slow. What do you do?

You want to schedule a process to run every Tuesday at 1:00 am. What do you do?

What do these shell variables mean?

* $$ - Process ID of self
* $! - Process ID of last background process
* $_ - Last argument

When I define an environment variable, what does EXPORT mean?

What is a journaling file system and why would I want to use one?

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Treat your mortgage like a bank account

I ran across an interesting concept where you treat your home mortgage like a combination "credit card" and bank account. It has the potential to lower your total interest payments.

The mortgage is offered by CMG Financial Services at http://www.cmgfs.com

You deposit your check in your "mortgage account". Since your mortgage interest is based on your average daily balance, the direct deposit immediately reduces your interest.

You can pay bills from your mortgage (increasing the balance), and also use an ATM to "pull money" from your mortgage (increase loan balance).

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Free : Obtain up to three credit reports annually

Thanks to the The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers in the western US may now request up to three copies of their credit report annually. Even better, consumers may stagger receipt of their reports, to monitor their credit standing.

Here is the text of the press release from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) describing the credit report request process :

Consumers in 13 Western States May Request Free Annual Reports Beginning December 1

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Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. deficit doubles

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federally chartered corporation which insures the pensions of private companies, reported that its deficit more than doubled last year, largely due to pension obligations from United Airlines and US Airways.

This large increase in the deficit for this pension insurer indicates that something along the lines of the 1980s collapse of the insurance scheme for savings and loans will happen for the PBGC.

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Iowa Electronic Markets predict presidential winner

If you want to know who will win the upcoming Presidential election, and who will control the House and the Senate, don't follow polls, follow the money.

I'm not talking about following the twisted trail of campaign contributions. Although this may yield some interesting information, I'm saying that you should see how people are betting the election will turn out. And look at people who are betting with real money.

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...by 2042 the payroll taxes collected will pay only 73 percent of scheduled benefits...

Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2042, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 73 percent of scheduled benefits.

These were the words that immediately followed all the rosy projections telling me about how much I'll be making from Social Security when I retire.

This was all part of "Your Social Security Statement" which I recently received in the mail.

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Level premium period when buying term life insurance

When buying term life insurance, one of the most important variables which affects the monthly premium you'll pay is the time period that your premium will be fixed.

Hopefully, you've read (and heard!) some of my other comments regarding how to buy life insurance.

When buying term life insurance, there are several ways you can go.

One is to buy annual renewable term (ART). ART can be viewed as "short-term" life insurance if you just need some coverage for a limited amount of time.

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Dividend capture and Microsoft's (MSFT) one-time dividend of $3 per share

Microsoft announced a special $3 per share dividend, $30 billion stock repurchase, and a doubling of it's current dividend.

As time allows, I'll examine "dividend capture" opportunities for this special $3 per share special dividend.

Here is the text from Microsoft's announcement of July 20, 2004 :

Microsoft Outlines Quarterly Dividend, Four-Year Stock Buyback Plan, And Special Dividend to Shareholders

Company Is Confident About Future Growth and Innovation Opportunities, Plans to Provide Up to $75 Billion in Value to Shareholders Over Next Four Years

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