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Melissa Carter: It’s not new love we should celebrate

VMelissa Carteralentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love — or at least the idea of how love could be. We see plenty of examples of young romance on television and in movies. But I wish there were more portrayals of couples still hot for each other after years together. Those are the couples who have figured out what true love really is and remind us that sometimes the secret is more simple than you would think. 

My parents were married for 50 years until my father passed away from cancer in 2001. Their unique and touching romantic gestures towards each other began when they were newlyweds and had no money. On their first anniversary she arrived home from her teaching job and checked the mailbox first like she did every day.

Inside was a letter informing her that her gift was upstairs waiting for her. When she got to her bedroom, there was my dad waiting for her wearing a bow. My mom is in her ‘80s and this story still makes her smile and blush when she tells it.

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Melissa Carter: Symbols to help you navigate the holiday season

Melissa CarterStress. Thanksgiving weekend has a way of piling on the stress for a lot of us every year. Regardless of whether the stressor is connected to the size of the turkey, layovers in Omaha, dealing with car rental companies or the joy of hours spent in a room with certain family members, the idea of thankfulness can get lost in the chaos.

This year, I suggest you create a symbol, something which represents the idea of appreciation. It will help get you through the weekend and weeks ahead with joy and remind you to be thankful regardless of what you may be dealing with this holiday season.

I recently gave a speech to hundreds of patients who had either received an organ transplant or were waiting for one. As a kidney transplant recipient, I talked about my challenging days on dialysis and showed the audience items I use today to remember the lessons I learned while sick.

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Religion blog: Here we are again

Sunday is a day of mourning. It is not a day that is on the national calendar. In fact, with the exception of a small percentage of people in this country, this day of mourning will pass completely unnoticed.

If these words I write look familiar, they are because nothing has changed since I last wrote them, except some people are more aware.

Again this year those who take a moment and remember on this day will find themselves swinging between tears of grief and deep waves of anger not to mention a certain amount of fear of further attacks.

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Finance: What do low interest rates mean for you?

The debt ceiling ... the U.S. Loses its triple A credit rating ... Earthquakes on the East Coast  is the world coming to an end? Probably ... (not) but with all these recent anomalies it certainly feels like we are in the Twilight Zone. It has been almost 3 years since the Fed cut its key rate to almost zero. August 9th, the central bank said rates are likely to remain there until at least mid 2013. Even though that doesn’t bode well for the stock market’s prognosis in the future, there are some pros and cons.

The benefits may not flow so easily. Consumers are showing few signs of wanting to borrow, bank and insurance companies profits are most likely going to suffer and with the stock market sliding, pensions and 401ks face years of low returns. For consumers, low rates mean cheap loans for everything from a new home to a new car. For the many baby boomers nearing the end of their working lives, low rates also deliver meager returns on fixed income investments. With the stock market well below it’s 2007 highs, that is going to be particularly painful.

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Religion blog: Our spiritual Titanic

If there is one thing that's as sure as the rising or setting of the sun, it's that Christians don't like to be called out on their crap.

After my last blog, I caught more then my share of grief from folks who think the Christian faith is the one and only answer in the universe – there is nothing they could do that could be considered terrorism.

They hide behind theology that says the only way to God is through Jesus the Christ.  They measure a person’s worth by whether they are “saved” or not.  They say they help those who are hungry, homeless or on society’s edge because it's the right thing to do.  Lurking behind that hypocrisy is the real reason: to win souls for Christ.

It is precisely this kind of arrogance, questionable traditions and just flat out power and control issues that have left churches empty, struggling to pay the bills and worship services looking more like a Hollywood production than actual worship.

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Finance: Documentation is crucial for sound lending

The U.S. economic news and projections are front and center in everyone’s mind these days. Though the markets are nervously reacting to the ever changing news, investors are still buying. Investors rushed to bu...
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Finance: The U-Haul is coming!

Okay, it is week three and the U-haul is loaded and almost to your drive-way. The house is in your name only and your new partner wants to be added to title. What does this mean for you from a tax perspective? If the mortgage is in your name only, but the house is titled to both parties, then the mortgage interest would be 100% deductible for only the person with the legal liability for the mortgage.

If you purchase a home together and both people are on the mortgage and the title, then the interest could be used for the best tax benefit. It is important to note that IRS knows EVERYTHING about you. Properly executing the interest deduction on Schedule A is imperative, or it is likely that you will receive a love letter from IRS.

Before obtaining joint assets it is extremely important to consult with a tax advisor and an attorney for a partnership agreement. There are pros and cons to major life decisions that should be explored while you still like each other!

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Finance: We can’t get married, so how do we handle our taxes?

Gay and lesbian couples have even more to think about when filing taxes. How do we split the mortgage interest and taxes, who claims the kids, what about charity and a whole slew of other issues? It is very important for couples to have a tax preparer who knows the extent of the tax code and how to use it.

For example, did you know that the tax code changed last year relating to children? Before, either parent on the birth certificate or adoption decree could claim the child, thus allowing the child to be on whichever return created the best tax benefit. Now, the person with the higher income must claim the child.

What does this mean to your family? It potentially gets rid of child tax credits and earned income credits for the lower income earning partner and potentially increases the combined tax liability (i.e.- you get less refund if you otherwise would have received one).

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Marriage, money and mathematics

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterI really didn’t think they would do it. Yet while it is historic that New York legalized gay marriage, you would think it would already be legal there by now and even be allowed in California (and we saw how that worked out with Proposition 8).

I mean, both of these states pride themselves on being more progressive than the rest of the country on most everything. I think a majority of the United States would agree with them, especially Georgia.

But the fact that New York and California still fight it out on whether gays should be allowed to marry in their state proves to me they aren’t as progressive as they would like to think. And Georgians should not assume that we have to wait in line behind the Northeast and West before we get our turn at anything, including gay marriage.