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Personal finance tips: How to avoid a tax audit, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from a strategy for shorter hours to how to track your FICO score
 
Finished with your work? Shut down and head home.
Finished with your work? Shut down and head home. (Thinkstock)

A strategy for shorter hours
There's no need to pull all-nighters, said Sue Shellenbarger at The Wall Street Journal. If you're good at your job, don't think you have to burn the midnight oil until your boss leaves the office. Instead, learn "to go home without looking like a slacker." Good bosses want to be sure "their subordinates are meeting deadlines, that they can be reached when needed, and that they aren't creating extra work for colleagues." That doesn't have to mean working late. You may want to sit down with your boss to clarify that, but come with specific examples of your great performance. It may not work: Some corporate cultures insist on long hours. Either way, "such conversations can open a dialogue — or expose a brick wall." If it's the latter, you might want to start sending out résumés.

How to avoid a tax audit
"Do you ever wonder how the IRS chooses which taxpayers it wants to audit?" asked Daryl Paranada at The Motley Fool. While individual tax audits are rare, mistakes on your tax return — such as putting down the wrong Social Security Number or fudging your math — are one way to "give the IRS pause." Another is incomplete or missing information. If you're itemizing your deductions, don't "overstate your deductions or lie about them. The IRS is well aware of what is outside the norm for people at your income level." And "if you do pull a fast one on the IRS, think twice before you brag about it." The agency offers whistleblowers a reward of up to 30 percent of the money it collects from tax evaders.

Tracking your FICO score
Learning your credit score just got easier, said Ann Carrns at The New York Times. Several credit-card issuers are now "providing certain types of free FICO credit scores to cardholders, both as an enticement to get you to open an account and as a way to educate you about what goes into your credit score." Discover, First Bankcard, and Barclaycard are among the first card issuers to provide free, regular credit scores to customers, but "details of the card programs and the scores they offer vary." While these lenders all use FICO's commercial formula, they "may use slightly different data" to arrive at their scores. Nonetheless, "the free scores from the credit-card companies are likely to reflect the general trend of your credit profile," giving you a good idea of where you stand.

 
Sergio Hernandez is business editor of The Week's print edition. He has previously worked for The DailyProPublica, the Village Voice, and Gawker.

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