Wednesday bits: Free coffee, free tax returns, 3 steps to get debt-free this year

Social Security Checks Are Being Reduced for Unpaid Student Debt.
Government report says thousands of recipients are left with below-poverty incomes. If you don’t pay off your student loan, you may end up having that money extracted from your Social Security benefits.

8 Ways to Save for Retirement in Your 40s and 50s
In a recent GAO survey, 29% of households age 55 or older had no retirement savings. Another 23% had a pension, but no additional 401k or IRA. There are countless stories of people waking up in the 40s or 50s to the  harsh realization: the investment cupboard is bare. Millions of Americans in their 40s or 50s don’t have nearly enough money saved to retire. Here’s what this couple did.

How to get free refills at Starbucks
Starbucks has a little-known perk for members of its rewards program: Free refills on drinks, regardless of your original order. As long as you’re a rewards member and you don’t leave the store after placing your original order, you qualify for the free refills, according to the coffee chain’s policy. There’s one catch, however: you can’t select just any drink from the menu for your refill. Your options only include Starbucks’ lower-priced drinks, like brewed coffee, iced coffee, cold-brew coffee, hot tea, and iced tea. To take advantage of the policy, you have to pay for your original drink using a Starbucks card or the coffee chain’s mobile app.

Truly free tax returns from Credit Karma
In 2008, Credit Karma made credit scores free for everyone. We’re now more than 60 million members strong — and still just as free as ever. Credit Karma Tax™ is making the same promise with taxes. Perhaps a bit surprising, their service is not limited to those filing a 1040EZ: Most of you should be able to use Credit Karma Tax. Whether you’re a 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 filer, we’ve got you covered. Check out the complete list of forms we support. Our easy interview format can help you figure out what information you need (or don’t need) to provide. There are a few forms which they aren’t supporting, including a 1040NR and a K1.

Keep tabs on your spending
Today, few among us ever tough money. Your paycheck is direct deposited. You use debit and credit cards instead of cash. You pay your bills via your bank’s bill pay service. All this serves to distance you from your actual money. Yhe further you are from your money, the more likely it is that you will spend more freely. However. it appears that people who use personal finance apps are more aware of their finances and are spending less. Shlomo Benartzi, a UCLA behavioral economist, and USC assistant professor Yaron Levi discovered that people who have downloaded a financial app review their account at least 12 times per month. They only visited the website twice a month. The results? Spending dropped 15.7% in the four months after the app was downloaded, dining-out expenses decreased by 19.2% and grocery bills were lowered by 20.7%. In short, when you keep tabs of your spending, the better spending and savings decisions you’ll make.

3 steps to get debt-free this year
Ah, the new year. A time for reflection and resolution-making. Each year countless Americans resolve to pay off their debt, but few actually do. January’s enthusiasm may fizzle by February if your plan is too complex to live with or so flimsy it’s easily forgotten. Try this three-step plan instead — you get steps 1 and 2 out of the way upfront, then choose a payoff method in step 3 that will see you through the rest of the year.

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