Feature

What the experts say

Conflict resolution 101; Taxes for the self-employed; Bequeathing loyalty points

Conflict resolution 101“Disputes with your bank are bound to trigger strong emotions,” said Daniel Bortz in USNews.com. But before you blow up, think about the smartest approach. You’ll “have a greater chance of success” by minding your manners with customer-service representatives. If you don’t have the patience to wait on hold, call during off-peak hours—Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. While a phone call is fast, direct, and better for complex issues, give tweeting a try too; “it’s public, which means the bank will likely work quickly to remedy the situation.” And be organized—keep copies of receipts and statements, and take notes on whom you speak with and when. “Keeping track of the communication is something we should be doing with any type of dispute,” said Greg McBride, a financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Taxes for the self-employedPaying Uncle Sam when you’re self-employed “can be hard to get used to,” said Farnoosh Torabi in Yahoo.com. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 40 percent from each paycheck. “This is a gross overestimate for many freelancers,” but it will help make sure you don’t fall short when it’s time to pay the piper. A quarterly schedule to pay taxes can be wise because “it forces you to stay on top of your financial records throughout the year.” Remember to keep receipts that are relevant to your income, and keep an up-to-date calendar when working, looking for work, or doing anything that’s relevant to your career.

Bequeathing loyalty pointsDon’t let those airline miles go to waste, said Chelsea Emery in Reuters.com. American travelers rack up as many as 3 trillion frequent-flier miles each year, but as loyalty programs proliferate, “so do the challenges—and rewards—for heirs who inherit these so-called digital assets.” Most programs allow customers to bequeath their points, but the process can be cumbersome. Members who want to will their points should list their awards programs in a separate document, including account numbers and email addresses. Loyalty programs will often require paperwork—including, sometimes, a death certificate or a letter from an executor naming a beneficiary. Others limit beneficiaries to the deceased’s spouse or domestic partner. But “if first you hear ‘no,’ try and try again.” Sometimes, said estate planning lawyer Dennis Delaney, “you have to push and go to the higher-ups.” 

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