World Series: Get that Ball! Or Not.

One souvenir Major League baseball: $16.99 (OK, maybe more like $18.49 with tax in Kansas City.)

Snagging a game ball from a foul hit or a toss into the stands: an incredible memory

BaseBall-SquareManaging to get a significant ball – say, a walk off home run to win the World Series: a potential windfall

Baseball memorabilia has a long, storied and pricey history. A piece of a broken bat from the 2000 World Series has been auctioned for $48,000. The infamous “Buckner” ball from the 1986 World Series went for $418,250. And, of course, Mark McGuire’s 70th home run ball was purchased for $3 million.

However, this financial windfall is not without tax consequences. Experts disagree on whether the taxable event occurs when you catch a famous homerun ball because it is in effect found money, or when you sell it and actually receive the money. Even if you just decide to return it to the player, you may face gift tax reporting consequences. So even if you don’t come home with an authentic souvenir, you can rest assured that your financial life is a bit easier for it.

And if by chance you happen to come home with a piece of history from the 2014 World Series, we are of course happy to help you file that 2014 tax return. We’ll want to get a look at the ball though. You know, for research, or something. 

Freelance Fridays: 3 Affordable Ways to Promote Your Services

Ed note: Doing what you love is great. The trick is getting people to PAY you for doing what you love. If the business side of going freelance is holding you back, seasoned expert Carrie Smith can help out.

A big part of being a successful freelancer means promoting your services. But how exactly do you find the right clients without spending a lot of money?

Here are three ways to promote your services as a freelancer without breaking the bank.

1. Focus on Your Network

Freelance-Networking

As someone who’s been building my freelance career for the past 3 years, I’ve seen that one of the most effective ways to promote yourself and your services is through networking – or more specifically word of mouth.

It’s important to focus on events within your industry as well as ones outside of it, so you can expose yourself to a lot of opportunities. Brainstorm ways you can stand out from the crowd of traditional business card users. One of my colleagues draws comics on the backs of her cards, while another friend inserts a simple QR code onto his square business cards.

Take time to think outside the box, so your name will be remembered among industry experts. I’ve used many of these strategies to gain new clients by:

  • Letting them know what type of work I’m looking for (or client I hope to work with)
  • Getting paid to learn by working for a more experienced business owner
  • Partnering with other freelancers to work on bigger projects

All of these things have helped me cultivate a strong network that I rely on when I need more work or connections to clients. This strategy has been more effective than spending time or money on advertising, and as a bootstrapping freelancer, saving time and money is essential.

2. Advertise for Free

Freelance-SocialMedia

Social media has become the great equalizer when it comes to marketing and promoting. There’s unlimited access to thousands of customers and clients, without having to spend any money.

Start by reaching out to clients and influential experts on Twitter or LinkedIn to begin warming up those contacts. It’s much easier to put a name to a face when you meet online first, then have to grab their attention cold, at a conference.

In order to get on their radar now, fill up a social media scheduler, like Hootsuite, to share interesting content and @mention those experts throughout the week. Also, follow the conference hashtag and participate in the live conversation.

Another way to boost your freelance services is to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results for a particular search term or phrase. For example, when you search for “freelance business writer” in Google, I’m the top search result. So if a company is looking to hire a business writer, they will likely click on my contact page and send a request to chat.

I’m not an SEO expert, I just invested less than $100 in a Simple SEO course to learn the basics, and implemented the advice taught. Within about 4 weeks I saw results that landed my site on the first page of Google.

3. Create More Visibility

Freelance-Interviews

A good reputation is probably one of the most important things a freelancer should focus on. You are your brand and the work you do for clients provides the income your family needs to live on.

The easiest and quickest way to gain more visibility comes in the form of guest posting and doing interviews for big-name publications. Sites like Help A Reporter Out are completely free, and can connect you with journalists who are looking for industry experts and freelancers to feature in interviews. I’ve been able to be quoted on sites like, INC Magazine, Redbook Magazine and lots more.

You don’t have to do a lot to promote your services as a freelancer. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll gain visibility in no time.

Unmarried With Kids: Who Claims the Baby? [INFOGRAPHIC]

If you’re one to follow birth trends (and I mean, really, who isn’t?), there has been some interesting news as of late. The number of births to unmarried women has been falling, however, it’s now become more likely that those unmarried women aren’t truly single – they’re in a cohabiting relationship. In fact, for the first time, cohabiting births exceed single-parent births. Leer en español.

Besides being a fun statistic to throw out at dinner, this arrangement actually causes some tricky tax complexity for these couples. Married couples can claim their children and related tax benefits by filing jointly. Cohabiting couples can’t. Even if cohabiting couples share expenses and the responsibility for their child, they will still have to decide which one will claim the child.

Rather than both parents using the single filing status, which will limit certain tax benefits, one of the parents will likely qualify to file as head of household. Filing as head of household will increase that parent’s standard deduction from $6,100 (for single filers) to $8,950 and will usually lower their tax rate. In this situation, a taxpayer must pay more than half the cost of household expenses and maintenance for the year to qualify to use the head of household filing status.

We look at this kind of scenario, as well as a couple others, in the infographic below. And – one more reminder! – each tax situation is unique. With complicated issues like this, it’s best to consult with a tax professional on your specific case.

Click to view larger image
Unmarried With Kids

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Why Baby Might Pay Taxes Too – 3 Myths Corrected

Ed note: Having a child can be a great thing for your tax return (the credits!) but it can also introduce a lot of new complexity. This is especially the case if your child makes any money, whether through more regular forms of income or investment accounts. We address a few of the common myths […]

World Series: Looking at Each Team By The Numbers (not those numbers)

Baseball is all about the numbers. Batting averages, earned runs, runs batted in, and on and on and on. While every sports fanatic banters about the Giants’ home runs and the Royals’ stolen bases, we have honed in on some different numbers. Like the number of dollars you have to shell out to watch these […]

The Minimalist’s Guide to a Baby Registry

Ed note: When I was pregnant, I swear I could see the dollar signs in front of my husband’s eyes. He was mildly terrified about the financial commitment we were undertaking. However, there are plenty of ways to be frugal with your infant – Janessa Solem has some pointers for you. Now, saving for college […]

World Series: Would You Spend It?

It’s the hottest ticket in H&R Block’s hometown right now: the World Series. For those of us in Kansas City, it’s been 29 years since the Royals have given us the opportunity to see a World Series game in our fair town. So the excitement is high and so are the ticket prices. On Tuesday afternoon, […]

5 Halloween Prep Tips To Save Money

Ed note: Trick or treat! Time to buy lots of things to eat! Oops. That’s not how it goes! But this time of year, that might be what you think you hear. Thankfully, April McCormick has some awesome tips for how to have a great Halloween on a budget. For most families, Halloween is a […]

A New Parent’s Guide to Sleep Deprivation [INFOGRAPHIC]

If you, um, just can’t quite, uh, find the right word or figure out – seemingly! – simple problems, and you recently brought home an adorable, EXHAUSTING baby from the hospital, this is the infographic for you. While it won’t help that little one sleep through the night, it might help you find a few new […]

Same-Sex Marriage and Your State Tax Return

Early in October, the Supreme Court denied review of same-sex marriage appeals from three different federal appeals courts: the Tenth Circuit, the Fourth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit. What does that mean? Since the Supreme Court has declined to decide the matters, the decisions of each of the lower courts will stand. That means the […]