How to prepare for your 2015 taxes now

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With tax day behind us, most tax payers (about 8 out of 10 of you) are thinking of ways to spend their refunds wisely and debating between an indulgent purchase or a responsible investment. If you’re looking for a smart way to spend your refund, this article isn’t for you (although last year we covered this topic in detail). This article is for the poor, disheartened remaining tax payers who found themselves in the negative this year.   Let’s start by noting that you should absolutely not ignore paying taxes you owe to the IRS. If your taxes are not paid in a timely manner, the IRS can report the delinquent taxes to the credit bureaus. This is called a tax lien. Tax liens are considered by FICO Scores and stay on your credit reports for seven years or more, so it’s important … [Read more...]

9 Easy ways to Spring clean your finances

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In the midst of warm weather, new growth, yard work and deep cleaning, don’t let your finances be overlooked. Leverage that spring-cleaning feeling and take the sponge to your finances. Here are 9 ways to clean up your finances for a squeaky clean year. (For 6 more tips, head to our spring cleaning page!).       Spring cleaning tips for beginners   1. Evaluate your budget   Your budget is the foundation of your financial health, so it’s a great place to kick off your spring cleaning.  Use a spend analyzer through your bank or a third-party application to figure out where your money has been going. Or simply review your transactions from the last few months. Then compare those trends with your budget. Have you been staying on … [Read more...]

6 Ways to maximize credit card rewards

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In the credit card world, there’s really no better feeling than earning rewards for your spending. Who doesn't like getting a little bonus for purchasing everyday expenses with some plastic?   But lost in the excitement of air miles, cash back and gift cards is the fact that getting the most out of your credit card rewards requires some extra know-how and a bit of work. Want to squeeze every last drop of value out of that rewards card? Here are some tips.   1. Pick a rewards card that matches your lifestyle   Even the best of the best rewards cards will fall short for you if the rewards you’re earning are a poor fit. Not much of a traveler? Acquiring airline miles and hotel points won’t be of any use. Drive an electric car? A gas rewards card won’t do you … [Read more...]

Why your brain is bad with money

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If I handed you a regular-sized sheet of paper and asked you to fold it in half eight times, do you think you’d be able to? Go ahead, give it a shot—I’ll be over here casually making some tea.   For those of you who actually gave this a go (kudos to you, by the way), you probably realized by the fifth or sixth fold—faster than it took me to casually brew my tea—that getting that thin piece of paper to fold in half eight times is basically impossible (the world record is actually thirteen times, but good luck trying this at home).   Now let’s just say we have an imaginary piece of paper that we can fold as many times as we’d like. How thick would this paper be if we folded it thirty times? Fifty times? A hundred? The answers, respectively, are 1) thick enough to reach … [Read more...]

4 FREE ways to entertain yourself this weekend

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Boredom has a way of eating away at your finances. The easiest way to spice up an uneventful Saturday evening usually involves spending money. A night out at the movies, going out for a drink with friends, catching a live sporting event—if you want to enjoy any of these you better be prepared dig deep into those pockets.   But entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can even be totally free. Here are a few ways to keep yourself sufficiently stimulated, engaged, and entertained throughout the weekend without having to drop a dime.   1. Check out a book/movie/CD at the library.   It’s not as old-fashioned as it sounds. The library is a goldmine of free entertainment—it’s like if Netflix and iTunes got married, bought a brick and mortar … [Read more...]

4 credit score factors investors
should watch out for

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If you’re an investor, you know the value of making every dollar work for you. That’s why your FICO® Scores are so important. Since 90% of top lenders use FICO Scores to help make lending decisions, a high score will improve your chances of qualifying for the best rates and offers—which ultimately means more money in your pocket from investments.   On a $216,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the difference between a 620 FICO Score and a 760 FICO Score could be the difference between a $1,139 and $941 monthly payment. FICO Scores make a difference when it comes to investing.   With that in mind, here are four FICO Score factors any prudent investor should be aware of.   1. Do your rate shopping within a short time period Applying for mortgages, loans, and … [Read more...]

Your guide to the different types of mortgages

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Home buying is at once an extremely exciting and highly daunting process. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make right at the start is choosing what type of mortgage to apply for. The first thing you’ll want to do is get familiar with the different types of mortgages so that you can apply for the one that’s right for you.   Common Rate Types   There are two mortgage rate types offered by financial institutions: Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Both have their pros and cons, and which type makes the most sense for you is dependent on your unique situation.   Fixed-rate mortgage   A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to choose the term of the mortgage (how long you want the mortgage to last), which is typically 15, 20 or 30 years. As … [Read more...]

5 Totally painless ways to save money

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  It’s one of those things that sounds easy in theory. Just don’t spend so much on groceries – easy peasy! Next thing you know you’re in a Whole Foods on an empty stomach and nothing sounds better than organic, fair-trade chocolate infused with espresso and shipped directly from Brazil. 15 impulse buys later and you’re walking away with a one-night smorgasbord and 100 less dollars to your name.   Turns out, saving money is hard. It’s like your mother always told you, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. And just to be clear: A lot of you aren’t saving money. According to a study conducted by Bankrate.com1, over a quarter of Americans have no savings at all. Of those that do have savings, 67% don’t have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If this sounds like you, … [Read more...]

3 Commonly broken financial New Year’s resolutions (and how you can keep them)

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According to Fidelity’ annual New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study, 51% of Americans who made financial New Year’s resolutions in 2014 said they were better off financially today. That means financial New Year’s resolutions might actually work!   Of course, that also leaves the 49% who either stuck to their resolutions and found themselves no better off than they were last year or (more likely) suffered a rare form of acute amnesia affecting the memory centers of the brain responsible for remembering New Year’s resolutions.   A year is a long time. Sticking to your financial resolutions is hard, but it’s even harder if you set impossible-to-reach goals and give up on them altogether. So if you’re determined to improve your financial health next year, resolve to take … [Read more...]

Holiday gift guide gor your
money-conscious friend

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They’re known by a variety of names (some more flattering than others): money-savvy, thrifty, cheap. They inspire you to make a budget, they frustrate you by never picking up the check, and they puzzle you when it comes holiday gifting. What do you buy for the person who hates spending? We can help.       1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich Ramit Sethi provides a no-frill approach to financial fitness. The book includes a 6-week plan for getting your finances in shape including sections on banking, saving, budgeting and investing. It’s the perfect gift for someone who’s just starting his/her financial journey and is looking to do a full overhaul.   2. Envelope system wallet To the extreme budgeter in your life, the envelope system is a sacred ritual. … [Read more...]

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