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During a frigid night in January, volunteers visited shelters, roamed the streets and explored "tent cities" to count as many homeless people as they could over the course of 24 hours in Camden, N.J.
Shopping spree sweepstakes & contests are some of the most popular online giveaways today . . . and more stores are learning that it’s a great way to attract new customers and publicity.? In fact, the reason why shopping sprees are such a common type of promotion is that the companies who put them on [...]
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Bischoff: Unless Congress takes action, it's not just the "rich" who will see higher tax bills.

Even though the economy is showing signs of improvement, they aren’t large signs, and unemployment remains stubbornly high. Additionally, some companies are still planning layoffs, and you never know when you might lose your job.

Unemployment benefits have been extended a few times in an effort to help those who are unable to find work. If you lose our job, unemployment benefits can help you through the tough times, but you do need to be aware of the requirements that might be placed upon you to qualify.

Are You Eligible to File f
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or Unemployment Benefits?

Your first step is to figure out whether or not the way you left your job qualifies you for unemployment benefits. In order to qualify, you have to meet wage and time period requirements. Most states have an unemployment office, or you can get information from your state’s Department of Labor. In either case, find out what qualifications you have to meet in order to receive unemployment benefits.

Realize, too, that the way you leave your job matters. For the most part, you need to be laid off in order qualify to receive unemployment benefits. Generally, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits if you quit your job. Quitting for school, marriage, self-employment, or even illness are not considered good enough reasons for quitting and collecting unemployment benefits. Additionally, if you are fired for misconduct, or if you are involved in some other dispute, you probably won’t qualify for unemployment benefits.

There are exceptions to this rule, though, if you can prove that you quit for a “good cause.” This usually includes situations of a hostile work environment, or for some other reason. Your state’s unemployment office will decide what constitutes a good cause, and you can usually plead your case.

How Do You Maintain Unemployment Benefits?

Once you begin receiving unemployment benefits, you generally don’t continue to just receive them by virtue of the fact that you are out of work. Indeed, most states require that you meet certain qualifications to receive continued benefits. Generally, you need to be reading, willing, available, and able to work. You are expected to be ready to accept a job, and be physically able to perform work.

Many states also require that you check in with a case worker periodically to ensure that you are actively looking for a job. You may be required to update your resume, and submit it to various jobs. You may be asked to account for which job openings you applied for, as well as other actions you are taking in order to look for a job. Some states even set certain standards for work, and require that you accept jobs that meet those qualifications. If you balk at trying to find a job, or if your contact doesn’t think you are doing enough to find a new job, you might not be able to receive your unemployment benefits, or the amount you receive might be cut.

As you receive unemployment benefits, it’s also important to remember that you are taxed on them. You will need to figure that into your plans; in many cases, it’s important to get off the unemployment rolls as quickly as possible.

(Photo: Sean MacEntee)

Do You Qualify for Unemployment Benefits? from personal finance blog

This week’s Personal Finance Hour will feature a chat with Jeremy from In his day job, he’s a retirement planning specialist for a large 401(k) provider. Participants of the plan that he services usually come to him for advice on what to do and today we, despite not being participants of the plan he services, will turn to him for advice on how to plan for a successful retirement.
The Personal Finance Hour is a riveting one hour online radio show
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broadcast live every Monday starting at 6 PM Eastern, 3 PM Pacific. At that time, you can listen to it by clicking on this widget below:

We invite you to listen in, call in (the number is (347) 327-9144), and join us in the chat room where we usually have a good time. If you are unavailable, we also offer the podcast on iTunes or through the BlogTalkRadio website directly.
We hope you’ll be able to join us!
PFHour #24: Discussing Retirement Issues from personal finance blog

In another move to simplify my personal finances, I closed by HSBC online savings account today. At the current interest rate of 1.45% APY, it was in the bottom half of the online banks listed on my high yield savings account rates table; simply not worth keeping around anymore.

HSBC Account Closing Process
Closing the
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HSBC online savings account was simple. Log into your account and find the BankMail button in the left navigation menu. It will be one of the last buttons at the bottom. When you click on it, another window will pop up (disable pop-up blockers if you don’t see the window appear) for you to create a new BankMail.
For the subject of the BankMail, select “Other.” For the message, you will need to provide three pieces of information:

  • What you want them to do (close the account);

  • Why you want them to do it;

  • How you want the remaining funds to be sent to you.

My message:
I would like to close this account because the interest rate is too low. I would like to receive the remaining funds as a check sent to my address on file. Thank you.
I had $35 in my account so I requested a check. If I had more, I would have electronically transfered out everything and then requested that by check. You probably could transfer it down to $0 as there is no account minimum but you could leave $1 just to be sure.
I received the follow within a few days:
Dear Jim Wang:
Thank you for contacting HSBC Bank USA, N.A., the world’s local bank.
We regret to hear that you want to close your Online savings account. However, we respect your decision and will forward your account closure request to the Online Processing Center. Please allow 2 business days for the account to fully close. The amount in your account will be mailed to the address on record. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for delivery.
It’s easy to reach an HSBC associate to answer your questions. To send a secure BankMail, use the BankMail link conveniently located in the left gray navigation menu while you are logged into your Personal Internet Banking service. Our Customer Relationship Center is also available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet all of your HSBC banking needs.
Internet Banking Specialist
That’s it, another account consolidated. One step closer to a simpler financial life.
How to Close an HSBC Online Savings Account

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