Personal Finance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6/all en-US Best Money Tips: How to Prep for Next Year's Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-prep-for-next-years-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-how-to-prep-for-next-years-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_doing_taxes_000028462002.jpg" alt="Couple taking time to prep for next year&#039;s taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on ways to prep for next year&rsquo;s taxes, how to know when it&rsquo;s time to move, and a three-step plan to overcome any negative situation.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://blog.mint.com/tax-tips/taxes-done-5-ways-to-prep-for-next-year41615">Taxes Done? 5 Ways to Prep for Next Year</a> &mdash; Make a checklist of the documents you needed for your taxes this year. Odds are, you'll need them again next year! [Mint Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.yoursmartmoneymoves.com/2015/04/16/how-do-you-know-when-it-is-time-to-move/">How Do You Know When It Is Time To Move?</a> &mdash; Are you spending over 30% of your income on mortgage and upkeep? If so, it might be time to change your housing situation to something more affordable. [Your Smart Money Moves]</p> <p><a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/ultimate-3-point-plan-overcoming-negative-circumstances/">The Ultimate 3 Point Plan to Overcoming ANY Negative Circumstances</a> &mdash; Start by detaching for your circumstances and focusing instead on your energy. [Pick the Brain]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Many-Wears-Before-You-Need-Wash-28694036">How Many Wears Before You Need to Wash</a> &mdash; Generally, blazers and jackets can go five to six wears before a wash is in order. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyontrees.ca/5-ways-volunteering-can-boost-your-career/">5 Ways Volunteering Can Boost Your&nbsp;Career!</a> &mdash; Volunteering gives you valuable work experience, which is especially useful if you're just starting out. [Money On Trees]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2015/04/15/1033814_common-credit-report-errors.html">Common Ways Errors Get on Your Credit Report</a> &mdash; Credit bureaus often use partial name or partial SSN matches to find information about an individual, so people with similar names or Social Security Numbers may have their identities mistakenly matched. [Saving Advice]</p> <p><a href="http://www.everybodylovesyourmoney.com/2015/04/15/5-popular-work-from-home-ideas.html">5 Popular Work From Home Ideas</a> &mdash; A good starter job for people who want to work from home is data entry, which may include transcribing audio, entering catalog information into a program, and recording payroll. [Everybody Loves Your Money]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thadthoughts.com/2015/04/seven-tips-for-working-with-a-new-boss">Seven Tips for Working With a New Boss</a> &mdash; Learn what you can about your new boss. What was their work experience, where did they live, and where did they go to school? [Thad Thoughts]</p> <p><a href="http://www.girlsjustwannahavefunds.com/4-spring-essentials-you-need-desperately/">4 Spring Essentials You Need Desperately</a> &mdash; It's wedding season! If you need formalwear, look for quality fabrics and construction and don't get too trendy. You probably want to be able to wear it again without looking too dated. [Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/what-parents-need-to-know-about-accidental-poisoning">What Parents Need to Know about Accidental Poisoning</a> &mdash; If you think the poisoning happened by inhalation, get the poison victim to fresh air ASAP. If it was through skin contact, remove any clothing and rinse with water for 15-20 minutes. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-prep-for-next-years-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know">Filed an Extension? Here&#039;s What You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-tax-deductions-you-might-miss">7 Surprising Tax Deductions You Might Miss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes best money tips tax prep Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:00:07 +0000 Amy Lu 1392242 at http://www.wisebread.com Self-Employed? Here's How to Get Your Apartment Application Approved http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_cartoon_apartment_000044030686.jpg" alt="Self-employed couple trying to rent an appartment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While there are great benefits to being self-employed, like setting your own hours and working on projects you really enjoy, there are a few downsides to not getting a regular paycheck. Aside from the inconsistent income, you also have the added hurdle of <em>proving </em>your income when you want to move to a new apartment. This is something my husband and I are dealing with, because we both work from home.</p> <p>The standard apartment application includes providing proof of current employment and copies of your latest paycheck stubs. So how do you get approved for a new apartment when you don't have either of those things?</p> <p>Here are a few things to do if you're self-employed and moving to a new place.</p> <h2>1. Seek Out Independent Landlords</h2> <p>Any landlord wants the best tenants to ensure the rent gets paid on time. But larger property management companies often have stricter policies and guidelines for renting to self-employed individuals, so it may be best to avoid the big complexes.</p> <p>Opt for smaller, individually-owned duplexes or triplexes, where you can connect to an independent landlord. Their rules may be a bit more flexible, and allow you to apply for an apartment without a traditional paycheck. It's also a good idea to ask local contacts, friends, or family members if they know of any landlords who are open to self-employed individuals.</p> <p>We have an appointment with a landlord who was introduced by one of our family members, and on top of being lenient with self-employed income, we may also get a discount on our rent because of our connections.</p> <h2>2. Enlist a Real Estate Agent to Help</h2> <p>Of course, a real estate agent can help you <em>buy</em> a new home, but they also come in extremely handy when you're looking to rent an apartment &mdash; particularly in a new city. It's a real estate agent's job to know the local laws, as well as contacts for landlords who accept self-employed applications.</p> <p>They will be able to most effectively help if you share <em>all </em>the information about your work and lifestyle situation. I have a freelancer friend who had a difficult time finding roommates because they didn't want someone working from home all the time. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's because many people view at-home freelancers as lazy or messy.</p> <p>In any case, be up-front with your needs and explain how you work during the day. This will also help you be the most productive if you need a place that's quiet and free of outside distractions.</p> <h2>3. Keep Your Financial Records Organized</h2> <p>There are several things you will likely have to hand over to your landlord or apartment management company during the application process. So it's important that your financial records are accurate and organized.</p> <p>Since you don't have the advantage of simply printing off copies of your latest paycheck stubs or W-2s, you'll most likely need:</p> <ul> <li>Six month's worth of bank statements</li> <li>Three year's worth of tax returns</li> <li>Copies of long-term client contracts or big projects that prove consistent income</li> <li>A healthy savings account that covers at least three month's worth of rent</li> <li>References in writing from previous landlords</li> </ul> <p>If you don't have a lot of extra debt, this will help your case as you become much less of a risk to the landlord. Obviously a few other things that will help are to dress appropriately when meeting the landlord, and sharing any other advantages you bring as a tenant (in my case it's the fact that we don't have kids or pets). Sell them on how great a tenant you are and make them feel good about having you in their apartment.</p> <p>Finding a new apartment is a bit more difficult when you're self-employed, and you'll likely have to save up a bit more money to prove you're financially responsible. However, by using these tips you can find a new place that works for both you and your landlord. Happy apartment hunting!</p> <p><em>What steps have you taken to find a new apartment while self-employed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-heres-how-to-get-your-apartment-application-approved">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-all-successful-freelancers-do">10 Things All Successful Freelancers Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-into-a-good-school-district-for-less">How to Get Into a Good School District for Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million">How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Real Estate and Housing freelance landlords moving renting self employment Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 Carrie Smith 1392099 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Get Cheaper Health Insurance http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-get-cheaper-health-insurance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-get-cheaper-health-insurance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_working_out_000014641976.jpg" alt="Women exercising to get cheaper health insurance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>More Americans than ever are buying their own health insurance plans, but navigating the marketplace has never been trickier. While it's not easy, there's a big upside to the patient-as-consumer healthcare economy: You now have the ability to shop for the most affordable care. All it takes is a little research.</p> <p>Luckily, we've done the homework for you. Read on for our roundup of the best tricks and tactics for spending less on your health care.</p> <h2>1. Participate in Wellness Programs</h2> <p>No-cost health education seminars, 30-day exercise challenges, and gym membership reimbursements are just a sampling of the kinds of wellness initiatives offered by employers across the U.S. Yet, few of us are taking advantage of them. In 2013, fewer than half of all eligible workers took part in clinical screenings offered by their employer, and only 10% joined weight-management programs, according to a government study.</p> <p>But did you know the Affordable Care Act allows employers to offer you up to a 30% reduction in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fswellnessprogram.html">health insurance premiums</a> for your participation in these initiatives? If that's not reason enough to take part in your employer's wellness program, we don't know what is.</p> <h2>2. Pick Up a Flu Shot Along With That Gallon of Milk</h2> <p>The clinic at your local grocer is a convenient place to get vaccinations and seek treatment for minor health ailments, such as a mild fever or cough. In some cases, it's cheaper, too. Among employers that cover medical services at retail clinics, 8% provide a <a href="http://kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2014-summary-of-findings/">financial incentive</a> to those who seek care there, rather than a traditional doctor's office. Review your health plan and see if you could save money by handing routine medical matters at a retail clinic.</p> <h2>3. Dial Up the Doc</h2> <p>Getting care by phone or video chat can drastically reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses, not to mention remove the obstacle of having to rise out of bed. On average, the out-of-pocket <a href="http://www.connectwithcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Medicare-Acute-Care-Telehealth-Feasibility.pdf">cost for telemedicine</a> is around $40, compared to $95 for a traditional visit to a doctor's office. Telemedicine isn't the right treatment method for every ailment, but rest assured that it's quite sufficient for some. Sinus infections, urinary tract infections, the flu, and the common cold are the most common diagnoses made during telehealth visits. And 83% of the time, patient issues are resolved on the first call.</p> <h2>4. Join an Organization That Offers Premium Discounts</h2> <p>Membership organizations like the Freelancers Union, Writers Guild of America, alumni associations, and the American Federation of Government Employees are dedicated to providing resources and benefits to people connected to a certain cause, general interest, or industry. One of those benefits is group health insurance packages, which often include perks like discounted premiums. AFGE members, for example, get access to <a href="http://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=memberbenefits&amp;FuseAction=Category&amp;CategoryID=53">cheaper health care services</a>, prescription drugs, and discounted dental and vision exams.</p> <p>Of course, not everyone is eligible for membership in these groups, but with a little online research you may be able to find one that's applicable to you. Examples of other member organizations offering health insurance coverage include: AARP Health, Small Business Service Bureau, and the National Association for Female Executives.</p> <p><em>Have you found other ways to reduce your health insurance costs?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-get-cheaper-health-insurance">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/generic-drug-price-lists-for-six-major-pharmacies">Generic Drug Price Lists For Six Major Pharmacies - Updated</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paying-for-pregnancy-and-birth-without-health-insurance">Paying for Pregnancy and Birth Without Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-pet-health-insurance-worth-it">Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending">Medical Supplies You Can Still Score With Flex Spending</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance affordable care act insurance discounts retail clinics telemedicine wellness programs Fri, 17 Apr 2015 09:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1392116 at http://www.wisebread.com Filed an Extension? Here's What You Need to Know http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_filing_taxes_000044029242.jpg" alt="Woman filing tax extension and finding out what she needs " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When the taxman cometh, it's already too late.</p> <p>Ignoring your federal taxes is never a good idea. Even though the IRS is suffering from budget cuts, the agency will still diligently calculate all applicable fees and penalties delinquent taxpayers owe.</p> <p>Struggling taxpayers may feel that they have no options available. The reality is that the IRS offers several options for people needing a filing extension or having difficulties meeting their tax obligations. Here are six steps that you can take to lessen the tax blow.</p> <h2>1. Double Check for Automatic Filing Extensions</h2> <p>Not all late tax filers fail to meet the deadline on purpose. Some of us have legitimate reasons, such as military deployment, that render us unable to pay our taxes on time. The IRS grants an automatic filing extension to the following groups:</p> <ul> <li>U.S. citizens and green card holders abroad. When living and working abroad, you have until June 16th to file your federal taxes. However, payment of taxes is still due April 15th.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Members of the armed forces serving in <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Combat-Zones">combat zones</a>. As an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you can wait until at least 180 days after you leave the combat zone to file returns and pay any taxes due. For more details, refer to the Extensions of Deadlines in Publication 3, <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3.pdf">Armed Forces' Tax Guide</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Victims of certain recent natural disasters<strong>.</strong> Check this list from the IRS for approved <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Relief-in-Disaster-Situations">tax relief for disaster situations</a>, such as the March 2014 mudslide in Washington and Hurricane Sandy.</li> </ul> <h2>2. File an Extension</h2> <p>If you aren't part of any of the three groups who enjoy automatic filing extensions, you can use the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free">Free File service</a> from the IRS to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf">Form 4868</a>. This extends your filing extension to October 15th.</p> <p>Don't underestimate the late filing penalty. It's 5% of the amount due for each month (or part of a month) your return is late. The maximum penalty is 25%. For returns 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $135 or the balance of the tax due on your return, whichever is smaller.</p> <p>If you feel that you have a valid reason for filing late, attach a statement to your return. In some cases, the IRS may waive the late filing fee.</p> <h2>3. Minimize Late Payment Fees</h2> <p>While you get an extension for filing taxes, your deadline to pay due taxes is still April 15th.</p> <p>The good news is that by filing an extension before or on April 15th, now you only pay a monthly penalty of half of 1% of any tax not paid by April 15th, instead of the default 5%.</p> <p>You don't have to pay late penalty fees if you can prove reasonable cause for paying taxes late. According to the IRS, if you pay at least 90% of your actual 2014 tax liability by April 15th, then you have reasonable cause and won't be charged late penalty fees. Paycheck withholdings, estimated tax payments, and payments made with Form 4868 count towards that 90%.</p> <p>Now that you have minimized late filing and late payment fees, let's tackle that debt to Uncle Sam.</p> <h2>4. Set Up an Online Payment Agreement</h2> <p>If you owe $50,000 or less in combined individual income tax, penalties, and interest, have filed all required returns, and can pay the full debt within 120 days, you're eligible to apply for an <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Online-Payment-Agreement-Application">online payment agreement</a> with the IRS.</p> <p>To apply you'll need:</p> <ul> <li>Your name</li> <li>Valid email address</li> <li>Address from most recently processed tax return</li> <li>Date of birth</li> <li>Filing status</li> <li>Your SSN (or spouse's if filed jointly) or ITIN</li> </ul> <p>The IRS charges no fee to file this short extension of time to pay. Generally, taxpayers that are granted the 120-day extension pay less in penalties and interest that those that request longer payment agreements.</p> <h2>5. Request an Installment Agreement</h2> <p>Depending on how much you owe to the IRS, you may not be able to pay your debt within 120 days. In that case, you need to request an installment agreement through <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f9465.pdf">Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request</a> and <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f433f.pdf">Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement</a>.</p> <p>Here are some important points to consider about installment agreements:</p> <ul> <li>The standard fee to set up an installment agreement is $120; $52 if you agree to automatic payment withdrawal from your bank account, or $43 if your income is below a certain level.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>To avoid default, pay your minimum monthly payment by its due date.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If your agreement goes into default, you may be charged a reinstatement free.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Include your name, mailing address, Social Security number, daytime phone number, and return type on each one of your payments.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your entire balance is due within 72 months.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Any future refunds will be automatically applied towards your balance until you pay your debt.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Even if you have future refunds, continue to make your scheduled payments.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you move and have an unpaid balance, notify the IRS with <a href="http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-pdf/f8822.pdf">Form 8822, Change of Address</a> to avoid missing any bills or notices from the IRS.</li> </ul> <p>Keep in touch with the IRS. Contact the agency at 1-800-829-1040 if you have any questions about any bill or notice, or if you know that you won't be able to meet a minimum monthly payment.</p> <h2>6. Last Resort: Payment Extension or Offer in Compromise</h2> <p>When you feel that you're running out of options, you still have two final courses of action.</p> <p>First, in the event that you feel that you have an undue hardship, meaning you would sustain a substantial financial loss if forced to pay a tax or deficiency on the due date, you can submit <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1127.pdf">Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship</a>.</p> <p>Under the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/New-IRS-Fresh-Start-Initiative-Helps-Taxpayers-Who-Owe-Taxes">IRS Fresh Start Initiative</a>, qualifying individuals can request an extension of time to pay and have late payment penalties removed. The IRS generally limits payment extensions to six months, except under very special circumstances.</p> <p>Second, in the very worst case scenario that you can't commit to an installment agreement and that you feel that a time extension wouldn't be helpful, you can submit <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f656b.pdf">Form 656, Offer in Compromise</a>.</p> <p>Under this scenario, the IRS would settle your tax debt in a lump sum totaling less than you owe. To help determine your eligibility, use the IRS's <a href="http://irs.treasury.gov/oic_pre_qualifier/">Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier</a>. Keep in mind that the IRS requires all Form 656 applicants a non-refundable $186 application fee and an upfront, non-refundable partial payment.</p> <p>Form 656 should be your very, very last resort because the IRS approves few offers in compromise.</p> <h2>Act Now</h2> <p>Take your tax obligations seriously. If you cannot make a payment, contact the IRS immediately. Unless you notify the IRS about why you can't meet a payment, the organization is legally allowed some pretty nasty enforced collection actions, such as seizing your property until you pay your tax debt.</p> <p>There is no tax beast that can't be tamed.</p> <p><em>How did you deal with your biggest tax bill?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do">Can&#039;t Pay Your Taxes? Here&#039;s What to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-so-fast-5-things-you-must-do-after-filing-taxes">Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-file-your-taxes-for-free-in-2015">8 Ways to File Your Taxes for Free in 2015</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes agreements automatic filing deadlines IRS late taxes tax extension Thu, 16 Apr 2015 21:00:28 +0000 Damian Davila 1388387 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get the Most Out of Your Secured Credit Card http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-secured-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-secured-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_000030553560.jpg" alt="Woman getting the most out of her secured credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're jump-starting your credit history or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-secured-credit-card-can-repair-your-credit-score-heres-how-to-pick-the-best">rebuilding bad credit</a>, there's nothing more frustrating than hitting a brick wall. You need credit to build credit &mdash; one of life's super-annoying catch-22s &mdash; but when your credit history is nonexistent or marred by past mistakes, just being approved for a credit card so that you can start over is an uphill battle. But not all hope is lost. A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards">secured credit card</a> can provide the credit you need to establish or fix your credit.</p> <p>Secured credit cards work just like unsecured cards, with one main difference: you give the bank a security deposit, and the amount of your deposit determines your credit line. These cards are the next best thing if you can't qualify for other credit cards. Here are six ways to maximize your experience with them.</p> <h2>1. Start With a Smaller Credit Line</h2> <p>A secured credit card is by no means a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">prepaid credit card</a>. The deposit is nothing more than collateral &mdash; in case you skip out on payments. You'll receive a monthly statement just like any other credit card, and you're required to make at least the minimum payment each month.</p> <p>Ultimately, you determine your own credit line. You can give the bank a security deposit as low as $250 and receive a small credit line, or you can give the bank a security deposit of $2,000 and receive a higher credit line. But if you've had self-control problems in the past (and you probably have; that's why you have a secured credit card now), it might be best to start with a low deposit and credit line. Too much available credit might be too tempting, but with a low credit line you won't get in over your head.</p> <h2>2. Make Sure the Bank Reports to the Bureaus</h2> <p>Not every bank issuing a secured credit card reports to the credit bureaus every month. Since you're trying to rebuild or establish credit, it's crucial that the bank updates your credit report with positive activity, such as timely payments.</p> <p>Read the fine print before applying for a secured credit card or contact the bank and ask how often it reports to the three credit bureaus. Some banks only update credit reports every few months, while other banks never send updates. Ideally, you want to get a secured credit card from a bank that reports activity every single month.</p> <h2>3. Minimize Credit Card Fees</h2> <p>Secured credit cards are helpful, but expensive. They might have an annual fee, which is also typical with some unsecured credit cards. But many secured credit cards also charge monthly maintenance and a setup fee. The bank charges these fees directly to the card, which means the credit card arrives in the mail with a balance &mdash; before you make your first transaction. You can't avoid fees, but you can shop around and compare the cost of different secured cards.</p> <h2>4. Choose a Low-Rate Card to Save Money</h2> <p>Don't believe anyone who says every secured credit card features a high interest rate. Yes, some cards have rates significantly higher than unsecured credit cards; this is expected since secured credit cards help individuals who need to build or rebuild their credit. However, some secured credit cards also feature competitive rates. If you know you're going to carry a balance from month-to-month, compare rates before applying to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards">save on interest charges</a>.</p> <h2>5. Only Buy What You Can Afford</h2> <p>A secured credit card can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">improve your credit history</a>, but only if you use the card responsibly. Timely payments make up 35% of your credit score, so you need to pay your statements on time every month. Since the amount you owe makes up 30% of your credit score, only charge what you can afford and pay off your balance every month. Your spendthrift days are officially over, son.</p> <h2>6. Ask Questions and Know What You're Getting</h2> <p>When it's all said and done, a secured credit card is a steppingstone to an unsecured card. Depending on your bank, you may automatically qualify for an unsecured credit card after 12 to 18 months of timely payments, at which time the bank refunds the security deposit. But, you won't know about this perk unless you ask. Additionally, some banks will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-secured-mastercard-credit-card-review">increase the credit line on a secured credit card</a> without requiring an additional deposit from a cardholder, and some secured credit cards come with a rewards programs or offer other perks, such as free access to credit reports.</p> <p><em>Do you have experience with secured credit cards? How did they help you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-secured-credit-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students">The 5 Best Credit Cards for College Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/building-a-credit-history">Building a Credit History</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-ought-to-get-another-credit-card">10 Signs You Ought to Get Another Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-the-new-credit-card-formula-means-for-your-wallet">What the New Credit Card Formula Means for Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards building credit credit history Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1386150 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Cars You Can Drive (Almost) Forever http://www.wisebread.com/6-cars-you-can-drive-almost-forever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-cars-you-can-drive-almost-forever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_driving_000025333884.jpg" alt="Man driving car with longest driving life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The most impressive car I've ever seen in person wasn't a Porsche 911, a Ford F-350, or even a Tesla Model S.</p> <p>It was a Toyota Land Cruiser.</p> <p>What made this car stand out, especially compared to my dream car, an incredibly powerful work truck, and futuristic automotive engineering, respectively? This particular Land Cruiser had an incredible 600,000+ miles on it &mdash; the highest mileage I have ever seen (or even heard of) on a daily usage vehicle &mdash; and was still in good, drivable condition.</p> <p>Automotive expert Steven Lang and statistician Nick Larivere have put together the <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/index.html">Long-Term Quality Index</a> (LTQI), an exhaustive statistical analysis of over 674,000 used cars to help car buyers understand the real reliability of vehicles, beyond the typical three-to-five year &quot;long-term&quot; industry analysis. Each model in their statistical analysis has been assigned a reliability score out of 100, where 50 represents average reliability; 0 is terribly unreliable, and 100 means you could probably <a href="https://youtu.be/xnWKz7Cthkk">still drive the car</a> after letting it wash out to sea, driving it through a building, and hitting it with a wrecking ball.</p> <p>The following models &mdash; both those that have been discontinued and those that are still being manufactured &mdash; have objectively proven themselves to be capable of going the distance, provided you take good care of them:</p> <h2>First, 3 Discontinued Used Cars With the Longest Driving Life</h2> <p>For some of us, buying a well-reviewed used car is the smartest way to get long-driving, reliable wheels without breaking the bank.</p> <p>However, Lang is quick to point out that &quot;The <a href="https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/car-dealer-scientific-guide-10-best-used-vehicles-181842236.html">driving and maintenance habits</a> of the prior owner will have a far greater effect on a used car's longevity than the brand.&quot; That means it's up to the buyer to make sure the car passes a trusted mechanic's inspection before driving it home.</p> <p>That being said, the following used cars can offer surprisingly good reliability to second (or even third) owners for years to come, even though their manufacturers are no longer making them.</p> <h3>Chevrolet Prizm</h3> <p>This compact sedan was only manufactured from 1989 to 2002, and had the sort of forgettable 90s-era styling that made it very easy to lose in a crowded parking lot. But beneath the boring body was an engine mechanically identical to the Toyota Corolla's, with similar reliability to that best-seller. According to the LTQI, the average mileage on a Prizm, as recorded at dealer trade-in, is a decent 136,402 miles (the industry average is 126,358 miles), and issues with the powertrain, transmission, or engine are few and far between. Overall the Prizm receives a <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Chevrolet_Prizm.html">reliability score of 69.1</a>.</p> <p>According to Cars.com, a 2002 Prizm with fewer than 80,000 miles can be snapped up for about $5,000.</p> <h3>Pontiac Vibe</h3> <p>This compact five-door hatchback was discontinued in 2009 (model year 2010) after a seven-year production run, when the Pontiac brand folded. Like the Chevrolet Prizm, the engine design was based upon the Toyota Corolla, meaning it also offered good reliability. The LTQI has shown an average mileage of 125,455 miles on the Vibe and gives the model a decent <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Pontiac_Vibe.html">reliability score of 72.8</a>.</p> <p>You can purchase a 2010 Pontiac Vibe with less than 60,000 miles for under $15,000.</p> <h3>Ford E-Series Van</h3> <p>Also sometimes referred to as Econoline vans, the Ford E-Series full-size vans were manufactured from 1961 to 2014. They were discontinued last year and have been replaced with the Ford Transit. These are generally known as work vehicles, and the only families you see driving them usually have their own TLC television show. However, if you are looking for a working van or a mighty family hauler that can handle a whole brood of tuba-playing hockey goalies, this is the van for you. (Airbrush art on the side is optional but encouraged.) The LTQI gives the E-Series a commendable <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Ford_E_Series.html">77.8 reliability score</a>, and notes that the average odometer reading is 131,483 miles.</p> <p>2014 E-Series vans with fewer than 30,000 miles can be found for under $34,000.</p> <h2>3 New Cars With the Longest Driving Life</h2> <p>The cars on this list are still currently manufactured, although you can also find used models for less. The LTQI only offers information through 2010 models, but these three cars have proven themselves over time. If you are able to afford one of these cars new or &quot;lightly&quot; used, you can likely expect to drive them for years to come.</p> <h3>Toyota Camry</h3> <p>These mid-size sedans have been part of Toyota's lineup since 1982, and they have earned a well-deserved reputation for reliability. On the LTQI analysis, the Camry ranks incredibly high with a <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Toyota_Camry.html">reliability score of 80.4</a>. The average mileage on these cars is 145,496 miles.</p> <p>The base price for a 2015 Camry is under $23,000.</p> <h3>Lexus GS</h3> <p>This mid-sized luxury sedan is a great option for anyone who has good money to spend on a car, and who wants to combine the comfort of a well-appointed daily driver with the fun of a performance vehicle. The GS has been around since 1991, and it has consistently been highly ranked by car experts. It has a notable LTQI <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Lexus_GS.html">76.8 reliability score</a>, and the average mileage is 142,057.</p> <p>The 2015 Lexus GS starts at $55,000. Unfortunately, the GS also holds its value very well, so even a used model can cost a pretty penny.</p> <h3>Toyota Land Cruiser</h3> <p>There is an excellent reason why the longest-lived vehicle I have ever seen was a Land Cruiser. These SUVs are not only Toyota's longest running series (the first Land Cruiser model was manufactured in 1951), but they are widely considered to be &quot;ruggedly dependable.&quot; They receive an astounding <a href="http://tradeinqualityindex.com/vehicles/Toyota_Land_Cruiser.html">reliability score of 100</a> on the LTQI and have an average mileage of 178,654 miles on the odometer.</p> <p>New Land Cruisers don't come cheap, however. The base price is over $80,000 for the 2015 model. And while it is possible to buy one that is a few years old, expect to find high mileage and a high price tag, since the longevity and reliability are well known.</p> <h2>Toyota for the Win</h2> <p>If you're keeping score at home, you might notice that Toyota is either directly or indirectly responsible for five of the six cars on this list &mdash; everything except the Ford E-Series van. (Lexus is Toyota's luxury brand.)</p> <p>I'm not a shill for Toyota, nor do I have any vested interest in the company. Quite simply,Toyota has proven itself to be an incredibly reliable automaker, and you can feel pretty confident about the longevity of many of the cars manufactured either under the Toyota brand or jointly with it.</p> <p><em>Did your heap make this list?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cars-you-can-drive-almost-forever">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-gas-dont-make-left-hand-turns">Save gas; don&#039;t make left-hand turns.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-cut-your-car-expenses">5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider">Becoming a One-Car Family: 5 Points to Consider</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/remove-car-dents-quickly-and-cheaply">Remove Car Dents Quickly and Cheaply</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know">17 Things Car Salesmen Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation driving life mileage reliable cars vehicles Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1382415 at http://www.wisebread.com Back in Debt? Here's How to Pay it Off for Good http://www.wisebread.com/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_doing_taxes_000020148166.jpg" alt="Couple back in debt and learning how to pay it off" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Finding yourself back in debt after having paid it off before is a horrible feeling. I know, because I've been there. In 2012, I spent 14 months aggressively paying off <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carrie-smith/getting-out-of-debt-_b_1581507.html">$14,000 of consumer debt</a> and worked hard to become debt free for the first time in life.</p> <p>Then, in 2013 I decided to quit my job to pursue my own freelance business. This is when my financial situation became much more volatile and resulted in taking on a bit of business debt to keep things going. So when I say that it's a horrible feeling to be debt free only to find yourself back in debt, I mean it. It's not fun!</p> <p>If you find yourself in a similar place, here's the strategy I'm using to pay it off again &mdash; and keep myself out of debt <em>for good</em>.</p> <h2>Identify the Problem</h2> <p>Before you can begin to pay off debt and get back on track, it's vital that you understand <em>why </em>and <em>how </em>you're back in the situation. Creating a permanently debt-free life is much more difficult than working towards becoming free of debt for the first time.</p> <p>The mindset and lifestyle changes are vastly different. This is something I miscalculated when I first got out of debt, as I obviously didn't change my mindset or spending habits sufficiently. I'd stopped using credit cards as part of my debt payoff plan, but after about a year I thought I could handle using them again. Wrong!</p> <p>I also thought that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/basic-tips-for-investing-in-a-business-1">investing in a new business</a> was a smart idea as it would pay off in the long run. That's all well and good, but you have to draw the line as <em>how much</em> you're going to invest in business ventures and <em>how often</em> you use credit cards as an extension of your income.</p> <p>The need to depend on personal loans or credit cards for additional cash flow proved that my new business wasn't bringing in enough income to survive on its own. Doing a thorough inventory of my spending habits to elucidate why I was back in debt again showed that I needed to not only change my mindset, but also find ways to bring in more money.</p> <h2>Try a New Plan of Action</h2> <p>Obviously, if you've gotten out of debt once you can do it again, but in order for this time to really stick, you have to change your approach and try something new. As Albert Einstein put it, &quot;Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.&quot; So don't expect to follow the same plan and have it work better this time.</p> <p>My mistake was that I viewed getting out of debt as the end goal. But getting out of debt is merely step one, and <em>staying out of debt</em> while changing your mindset and spending habits is a very long-term step two.</p> <p>My new plan of action includes:</p> <ul> <li>Finding ways to level out my inconsistent income<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bringing in multiple streams of income to have more of a cushion<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Stopping the use of credit cards and loans as an extension of income<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Working with an accountability partner to stay on track<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Living well below my means and doing monthly budget check-in<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Performing a cash budget challenge (or other spending challenge) on a quarterly basis</li> </ul> <h2>Decide How You Want to Live</h2> <p>There are two key parts to being debt free: staying out of debt, and living a life without using debt as a tool to get what you want. For me, that second part has been the most difficult. Your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-you-dont-know-about-your-credit-report-but-should">credit history and score</a> is basically determined by how much debt you leverage and pay off over time.</p> <p>So if you don't want to use debt to buy things, you will have to face that fact that it won't be easy. Most banks and lenders will not understand your reasoning for paying. And there will be instances where you simply cannot buy something without using debt, so you and your family will have to come to grips with this limitation.</p> <p>As long as you define a new set of priorities and have a renewed plan of attack, you'll be able to move forward and pay off debt for good. Take comfort in knowing that you don't have to stay here, and that since you've been debt free once, you can do it again. But now you'll have more experience and lessons to fall back on!</p> <p><em>Have you ever fallen back into debt? How did you climb back out again?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Account in Collections? Here&#039;s How to Fix It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oops-i-maxed-out-my-credit-cards-now-what">Oops — I Maxed Out My Credit Cards. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-when-its-okay-to-take-a-loan">6 Times When It&#039;s Okay to Take a Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/building-a-credit-history">Building a Credit History</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-live-better-without-spending-more">5 Ways to Live Better Without Spending More</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management credit history finances owing money paying back spending habits Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:00:09 +0000 Carrie Smith 1386121 at http://www.wisebread.com Becoming a One-Car Family: 5 Points to Consider http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/one_family_car_000026960870.jpg" alt="Family deciding to become a one-car family after consideration" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you're looking to simplify your life or just save money, leaning your family down to just one car can be a wise choice. My husband and I have been doing the one car thing for around a year, and it's working out quite well since our daughter is young and I work from home. We made the change after the repairs and gas costs started taking huge chunks out of our monthly budget, and it's proved to be a smart financial choice for us overall.</p> <p>While there are still times when owning two vehicles might be more convenient, with a little compromise and some planning, we're hoping to keep it simple for as long as possible. Here's how you can do the same.</p> <h2>1. Map It Out</h2> <p>Before anything else, click open a map to investigate the area around your home. When I checked our location, I discovered that our daughter's school, as well as a hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, and even a few restaurants and shops, were all within a mile of our front door. Since I work from home, knowing these amenities were in close distance helped us feel confident that we could access most of what we might need on foot in a pinch. You can also choose to switch banks, doctor's offices, pharmacies, and other spots to fit your new lifestyle.</p> <h2>2. Consider the Weather</h2> <p>That being said, we also live in an area where winter overtakes the region a good five months out of the year. If inclement weather is a factor that might make walking or other transportation difficult, weigh it in your decision accordingly. If you have kids, think down the line to when getting to school events or other activities might get tricky with just one vehicle.</p> <h2>3. Group Your Trips</h2> <p>A lot of the bumps in switching to just one car come from convenience and ease of transport. Sometimes you can't go where you want to go at the moment you want to go there. Start keeping lists of items (food, household, etc.) that you need and try to take shopping trips all at once. Group activities, like gym classes and other recreation, to get the most out of your trips. I find it particularly helpful to post a large calendar so my husband and I can see where the car is needed and when. Then practice before you drop that second car. Can you make it work?</p> <p>As a bonus, you may also find you save money by not running to the store every time you need something. Staying home more often has its benefits.</p> <h2>4. Consider Alternative Transportation</h2> <p>There's a lot on the spectrum between driving and walking. Check out the bike routes to work, for example. The average speed bike commuters travel is around 10 mph, and trips of three miles or fewer are actually faster by bike. Those of you who live in cities can check local bus and subway schedules to see if you can get where you need to go in good time. Buying frequent rider passes can be a great way to save on travel this way. Comb Craigslist and other classifieds for motorized scooters. Where there's a wheel, there's a way.</p> <h2>5. Dip in the Pool</h2> <p>Furthermore, if you live in a more spread out area, carpooling might be a good option &mdash; especially for your daily commute. Ask your coworkers or Human Resource office if any employees have organized groups. You may also find community programs by searching online. And there are lots of carshare and rideshare programs, like <a href="http://www.zipcar.com/webch&amp;gclid=COno04Os4sQCFdY8gQodw60Amw">Zipcar</a> and <a href="https://erideshare.com">eRideShare</a>, across the country that allow you to get from point A to point B without owning a car at all. Once you've surveyed all the options, make a plan that works for your family. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carpooling-pros-cons-and-how-to-stay-safe?ref=seealso">Carpooling: Pros, Cons, and How to Stay Safe</a>)</p> <p><em>We'd love to hear your tips on making just one car work for a family (or perhaps no car at all). Please leave your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-a-one-car-family-5-points-to-consider">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-survive-with-one-car-in-suburbia">Can You Survive with One Car in Suburbia?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-gas-by-safely-following-trucks">Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carpooling-pros-cons-and-how-to-stay-safe">Carpooling: Pros, Cons, and How to Stay Safe</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/car-buying-part-2-into-the-devils-domain">Car Buying Part 2 – Into the Devil&#039;s domain.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/downsizing-with-kids">Downsizing With Kids</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Family carpooling downsizing rideshare saving money simplifying life Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1386019 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_recycling_000013114340.jpg" alt="Woman happy because she made environmentally friendly investment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We'd all love to invest our money in a way that benefits our finances while helping to build a better world. If that sounds like a pipe dream to you, it's not. Impact investing is a growing trend, and there are plenty of ways to do well and do good with your money. Here are five classes of green investments that are kind to the Earth:</p> <h2>1. Green Bonds</h2> <p><a href="http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/gmtl/3382260/Green-Bonds-Planting-Seeds-for-Eco-Friendly-Investment.html#.VRmawpPF-l0">Green bonds</a> are a perfect entry point for someone interested in making a social investment. Like other bonds, you pay a certain amount of money for the bond now to get a larger amount of money at a specific future date. With green bonds, your up-front investment is used to finance environmentally friendly projects. They're relatively low-risk and provide critical funds that are urgently needed in the short-term for these green initiatives.</p> <h2>2. Green Mutual Funds</h2> <p>Chances are that if you have any type of retirement account, at least a portion of it is invested in mutual funds. If you'd like to use that money to support green projects, choose green funds when allocating your investments. Broadly speaking, these investments are also included under the umbrella of socially responsible investments.</p> <h2>3. Green Stocks</h2> <p>As an investor, you also have the option to invest directly in companies that have a green mission, product, or service. This means you can buy stock in a publicly traded company that produces renewable energy products such as solar panels, or any other &quot;green&quot; mission of your choice.</p> <h2>4. Green Startups</h2> <p>One of the riskiest (but perhaps one of the most potentially lucrative) green investments you can make is in a green startup. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who are founding companies in the environmentally-friendly space. They range from new composting techniques, to energy-saving products, to innovative concepts such as carbon credits that are bought and traded to compensate for energy consumption.</p> <h2>5. Sustainable Product Stocks</h2> <p>Many companies are taking up the green mantle by transforming their products and using renewable resources. Some also pledge a portion of their earnings to environmental nonprofits, and support green efforts in the communities where they operate. These companies can contribute enormously to protecting the environment, and supporting their efforts with your investment dollars and purchases can help encourage them to continue and enhance these practices.</p> <p>As always, it's important to make informed investment decisions. It's best to educate yourself about these options by reading about the ins and outs of green investing. I also suggest seeking the advice of a professional financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Together, we can build a bright future for ourselves and for the planet as a whole through our investment dollars.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-invest-in-the-stock-market">Why invest in the stock market?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-crucial-things-you-should-know-about-bonds">5 Crucial Things You Should Know About Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-401-k-is-not-an-investment">Your 401(k) is not an investment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/socially-responsible-investing-goes-green">Socially Responsible Investing Goes Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reasons-to-start-investing-in-bonds-now">The 5 Best Reasons to Start Investing in Bonds Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Investment bonds eco-friendly environment mutual funds startups stocks sustainability Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Christa Avampato 1380916 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Have You Ever Hired a Financial Planner? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-hired-a-financial-planner <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-hired-a-financial-planner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial_planner_000023994153.jpg" alt="Couple meeting with financial planner for the first time" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We learn about savings, investments, debt management, and other money topics so we can take charge of our financial situation. But sometimes, even the most money-savvy need help and guidance from a financial planner.</p> <p><strong>Have you ever hired a financial planner?</strong> What kind of financial help did you need? If you've never hired a financial planner, do you think you may in the future?</p> <p>Tell us whether you have ever hired a financial planner and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For Extra Entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa177/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="79857dfa177" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_d30nzahk">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, April 20th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 20th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us whether you have ever hired a financial planner and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-have-you-ever-hired-a-financial-planner">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-should-kids-get-paid-for-doing-chores">Ask The Readers: Should Kids Get Paid For Doing Chores?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-you-need-to-fire-your-financial-planner">9 Signs You Need to Fire Your Financial Planner</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-gift-cards-make-a-good-gift">Ask the Readers: Do Gift Cards Make a Good Gift?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-and-why-to-buy-life-insurance">How (and Why) to Buy Life Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-i-used-to-but-now-i">Ask the Readers: I used to __, but now I __ to save money.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Giveaways Ask the Readers financial planner Tue, 14 Apr 2015 15:00:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1382248 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Retiring Early http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/guy_computer_000025658945.jpg" alt="Man trying to boost his odds of retiring early" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/the-average-retirement-age-an-update/">average age of retirement</a> stands today at 62 for women and 64 for men. But if you're like many Americans, you'd probably much prefer to have your feet in the sand and a piña colada in hand well before you reach your 60s. No matter your age, it'll be pretty hard to pay for that oceanfront real estate and tiki bar tab if you haven't set aside enough savings.</p> <p>Fortunately, your dreams of a comfortable, early retirement can still come true &mdash; so long as you're willing to do some heavy duty planning, smart saving, and savvy investing. Read on for our roundup of the best tips and tricks for retiring early &mdash; without winning the lottery.</p> <h2>1. Set a Savings Goal</h2> <p>First thing's first: You need to calculate how much money you'll need to stockpile before you can quit your day job. Be forewarned &mdash; it'll likely be a number that will make your jaw drop. But even if it seems totally unattainable, rest assured that it's not. Let's say you'd like to retire at 48 &mdash; a plum 15 years earlier than the average American. Take your pre-retirement income and multiply it by the number of expected years of life you'll have in retirement; in this case, we'll say it's 48 x 31 (this assumes you're going to live to be 79, the average life expectancy for an American).</p> <p>For example, if you're living off a $70,000 salary now, you'll need to save $2.2 million before you can ditch your nine-to-five. On average, retirees spend between 65% and 95% of their<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/fidelity/2015/03/23/are-you-on-track-for-the-retirement-you-want-infographic/?sr_source=lift_polar"> pre-retirement income</a>, so this calculation shoots a little high. But since you very well may live a decade or two longer than the average Joe, it's better to have a bigger cushion than no cushion at all.</p> <h2>2. Live Frugally</h2> <p>If you want to achieve a comfortable, early retirement, one way of getting there is by living frugally. That means forgoing name brand clothing, coupon-less meals at restaurants, salon visits, and airplane travel. Buying used cars only &mdash; or giving up cars, altogether and instead riding a bike or public transit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-two-biggest-mistakes-people-make-when-starting-to-live-frugally?ref=seealso">The Two Biggest Mistakes People Make When Starting to Live Frugally</a>).</p> <p>If this sort of lifestyle sounds foreign to you, you may want to begin by crafting a carefully detailed budget that will set you up to achieve your long-term retirement savings goal. If all of this sounds exactly like the way you don't want to live out your younger years, frugal living as a road to early retirement quite simply may not be for you.</p> <h2>3. Start a Business &mdash; Then Let Someone Else Run It for You</h2> <p>If you've got an entrepreneurial bone in your body, you might want to explore launching your own business as a means of achieving early retirement. Whether it's a food truck or a marketing and consulting firm, the idea is to launch the business and work it until it's profitable enough that you can hire someone else to run the day-to-day operations while you kick back in that beach chair and watch the money pour in. Alternatively, the sale of your business could fund your retirement. Nearly 40% of small business owners say they are <a href="http://www.guardianlife.com/glife11pp/groups/camp_internet/@stellent_camp_websites/documents/document/sbo-retirement-readiness.pdf">poised to retire earlier</a> than they had anticipated. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/starting-your-dream-business-is-easier-than-you-think-heres-how?ref=seealso">Starting Your Dream Business Is Easier Than You Think &mdash; Here's How</a>)</p> <h2>4. Get Yourself a Pension</h2> <p>The beauty of the pension plan: It's sort of like earning a salary, only without having to put in the work. And although many industries are phasing out these plans, about one in four large employers still offer some sort of <a href="http://www.towerswatson.com/en/Insights/Newsletters/Americas/Insider/2014/retirement-in-transition-for-the-fortune-500-1998-to-2013">pension to new hires</a>, according to a recent study. At the top of the list are companies in the insurance, utilities, energy, transportation, and food and beverage industries. Government is another sector where pensions are alive and well. Many municipalities still offer firefighters, police officers, and public works employees pensions that include overtime and saved vacation in the final calculation. The result is that some workers can retire with a pension that's <a href="http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Crushed-by-town-pensions-1413396.php">higher than their former salary</a>. Imagine that.</p> <p>Alternatively, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other big-name employers in the <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/slideshows/10-industries-with-the-best-retirement-benefits/10">information industry</a> offer workers an average retirement benefit contribution of $2.76 per hour worked. That's huge. Also, these tend to be pretty high-paying jobs, which means employees have more flexibility to make larger contributions to their own retirement savings, in addition to what the company chips in.</p> <h2>5. Make Smart Investments</h2> <p>The best time to start investing is now. Case in point: If you start maxing out your IRA contributions at age 25, you will have saved $1.6 million by the time you're 70. But if you were to start at 35, you'd save about half that sum. Clearly, a few years can make a huge difference. Now, if you're not investment savvy, there are tons of tools available to help you figure out where to put your money.</p> <p>One of the best and easiest is an automated investment advisor, such as FutureAdvisor, that specializes in retirement planning. With <a href="https://www.futureadvisor.com/">FutureAdvisor</a>, you can get your 401(k), IRA, and other accounts analyzed, plus receive recommendations on how to improve your existing investments &mdash; absolutely free of charge. Then, if you're impressed with the results and want to hire FutureAdvisor as your investment manager, there's a monthly fee of either $9 or $19, depending on the value of your assets. Rest assured, all of FutureAdvisor's investment recommendations are made with the goal of setting you up for the most comfortable retirement years possible.</p> <p><em>What other steps are you taking to ensure an early retirement?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-boost-your-odds-of-retiring-early">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-surprising-things-women-should-know-about-retirement-planning">12 Surprising Things Women Should Know About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-raiding-your-retirement-accounts-early-is-okay">4 Times Raiding Your Retirement Accounts Early Is Okay</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-a-business-with-your-401k">How to Start a Business With Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-valid-reasons-not-to-contribute-to-your-401k">6 Valid Reasons Not to Contribute to Your 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-resolutions-6-ways-to-take-control-in-2013">Money Resolutions: 6 Ways to Take Control in 2013</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Investment Retirement 401(k) pensions savings Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:00:42 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1379696 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Savings Mistakes Even Smart People Make http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000035836870.jpg" alt="Smart woman making classic savings mistakes with finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're not a finance expert just yet (that's probably why you're reading Wise Bread), and I don't expect you to make all the right moves with your money. The truth is, everybody makes mistakes &mdash; even yours truly &mdash; but it's important to check yourself before you wreck yourself when it comes to your cash. Take a look at these savings mistakes than even smart folks like you and I make and consider how to avoid these potentially costly financial faux pas.</p> <h2>1. Funneling Money Into Modest Growth Plans</h2> <p>Even avid savers can make mistakes when it comes to funneling money away for a rainy day or a future investment. Because if it's sitting in a modest growth plan, it's not doing you much good, and it'll take you much longer to reach your savings goals.</p> <p>Joe LoPresti, registered investment advisor and creator of the Investment Education Institute, agrees.</p> <p>&quot;I think the biggest savings mistake that smart people make is putting a lot of money into modest growth plans like low APR savings accounts, CDs, bonds, mutual funds, or just simple 401(k)s, without putting some money aside for active investment &mdash; investments that will grow their money while their still earning it, not just preserving it for later,&quot; he says. &quot;Buying 'safe' assets is something that smart people do, but what they don't consider is that those safe investments will not significantly grow the nest egg you're trying to establish. In fact, locking your savings up in low-yield investments may actually prevent you from growing your wealth during the up-swinging market that we're currently experiencing.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Avoiding Credit Cards at All Costs</h2> <p>While I'll never encourage you to be a spendthrift with your credit cards, driving yourself into debt, that doesn't mean you should ward off plastic altogether. Having credit builds credit, and you need it to make large milestone purchases like a new home. Just be smart about the cards you keep. Read the fine print and choose the best card for your needs to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about">maximize the benefits</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso">Should I Choose a Cash Back or Travel Rewards Credit Card?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Sticking With Commodity Providers to Avoid the Hassle of Switching</h2> <p>I see this all the time within my circle of friends and among family members, and I can't say that I'm entirely innocent, either. But sticking with commodity providers &mdash; like cable, Internet, and cell phone service &mdash; because you don't want to fuss with the hassle of switching, can cost you big bucks over the long term, and give you a major headache. It may be in your best interest to at least research other options. Ask for employer discounts, switching incentives and other discounts, like military or student savings.</p> <h2>4. Buying on Impulse Instead of Cost-Comparing</h2> <p>Before you buy anything &mdash; an-y-thing &mdash; you should compare its cost to other retailers and available options. Whip out your phone right in the store and do a bit of amateur cost comparing to see if you can get it elsewhere cheaper. If you can, cool your jets and save that cash.</p> <h2>5. Saving Too Much &mdash; Yep, There's Such a Thing</h2> <p>Saving too much is impossible, right? Wrong. You can absolutely save too much if you have no plan for the money you're saving. What good does a load of cash do you if it just sits in the bank your whole life? Investing your money is how you'll make more of it (considering that you're investing wisely, of course), and you should start establishing savings milestones and planning the investments you'll make with the money if you want to enhance the quality &mdash; not quantity &mdash; of your life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-easy-ways-to-invest-your-first-1000?ref=seealso">4 Smart Ways to Invest Your First $1000</a>)</p> <h2>6. Waiting for a Monetary Milestone to Invest</h2> <p>&quot;All investment professionals will tell you to wait until you have $5,000 to $10,000 before you should invest. That's wrong!&quot; cautions Sam Rad, a UCLA instructor and certified financial planner. &quot;The only reason they tell you this is because it's not worth it for them to deal with you until you have enough money. The best advice is to start as early as possible with as little as possible.The quicker you get started on investing, the more compounding you will get. If you place all of it in a bank and wait until you have a big lump sum to invest, you will have lost time.&quot;</p> <p>Rad provides an exercise analogy to drive his point home:</p> <p>&quot;Similar to lifting weights, you don't want to walk into a gym and try to lift 300 pounds if it's your first time lifting,&quot; he says. &quot;Start with 25 pounds and work your way up.&quot;</p> <p>I agree with Rad, but only if you don't have a large investment in mind. For instance, I'm saving for an investment property for which I'll need to put a substantial down payment. I'm not particularly interested in jeopardizing this investment by playing the market in the meantime, so I'm sticking to my milestone. In these cases, I think it's okay to stick to your original plan, but, like Rad says, if you don't have one, there's really no reason to wait to invest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-silly-reasons-people-dont-invest-but-should?ref=seealso">9 Silly Reasons People Don't Invest</a>)</p> <h2>7. Failing to Consider the Fees Associated With Investment Accounts</h2> <p>Sure, you've saved a good chunk of change and you're super excited to invest, but have you considered how much it'll cost you on the backend? Nothing in life is free, and there are fees associated with your investment accounts.</p> <p>&quot;Not paying attention to the costs associated with administering your 401(k) or investments is a big mistake,&quot; warns Fat Wallet's Bryan Marsden. &quot;They auto-deduct money and put it into 401(k) or other investments without looking at what the fees are for that account/investment. This is especially true if investing in mutual funds. Some of them have much higher fees than if you would pick, say, an index fund. When someone looks at an investment fee of .08% versus a .07% they don't think much of it. But if you take that and extrapolate it over 30 or 40 years, the differences can be significant in how much you pay out for fees.&quot;</p> <p>If you'd like a bit of tech in your corner in this regard, Vanguard has a <a href="https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/low-cost">nifty expense tool</a> to show you the difference between a 1.02% and .18%.</p> <p>&quot;Considering that some index funds can be around .06% and mutual funds can get at or over 1.5%, you get the idea,&quot; Marsden adds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exchange-traded-funds-the-low-fee-investment-option-you-dont-know-about?ref=seealso">ETFs: The Low-Fee Investment Option You Don't Know About</a>)</p> <h2>8. Keeping Savings in a Low-Yield Checking Account</h2> <p>You're not married to your bank, so you don't have to bank with that particular institution for every financial aspect of your life. While you may be happy with your checking account, your institution may not offer the best savings account options, so it's important to look around before you decide where to stash your cash.</p> <p><em>Are you committing any of these money-saving sins? Do you have other savings mistakes that smart people make that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-at-your-expenses-with-new-eyes">Looking at Your Expenses with New Eyes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/americans-savings-rate-up-to-almost-7-who-benefits">Americans&#039; savings rate up to almost 7% - who benefits?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it&#039;s easier than you think</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living cost comparing savings utilities Tue, 14 Apr 2015 04:59:58 +0000 Mikey Rox 1379726 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: 10 Must-Have Products for Financial Security http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-10-must-have-products-for-financial-security <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-10-must-have-products-for-financial-security" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/wealthy_couple_000021059507.jpg" alt="Wealthy couple happy and feeling financially secure" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on the products you must have to be financial secure, germ magnets you should clean this spring, and things you need to know to survive life.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/you-cant-financially-secure-without-these-10-products/">You Can't Be Financially Secure Without These 10 Products</a> &mdash; Put your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account so it can grow a bit even while it sits. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/2926/germ-cleaning-tips">10 Germ Magnets That Need Spring Cleaning</a> &mdash; Think of the items you take with you everywhere: cell phones, purses, wallets. When was the last time you cleaned each of them? [Cheapism]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Useful-Things-Know-34610112">146 Useful Things Everyone Needs to Know to Survive Life</a> &mdash; If you are stung by a jellyfish, rinse the area with vinegar &mdash; not pee! [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/frugality/socialize-on-a-budget-5-ways-for-professionals-to-save-money/">Socialize on a Budget: 5 Ways for Professionals to Save Money</a> &mdash; Do lunch instead of dinner, and take advantage of lunch or afternoon specials. [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="http://momsneedtoknow.com/every-garden-should-have-these-herbs">Every Garden Should Have These Herbs!</a> &mdash; Oregano goes great in Italian and Mediterranean dishes, and it stands up well against hot, dry weather. [Moms Need to Know]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/the-9-best-ways-to-use-your-tax-return">The 9 Best Ways to Use Your Tax Return</a> &mdash; Pay off debt, starting with the high-interest variety. It'll free up more money for your monthly budget and lift a weight off your shoulders. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0410/Craigslist-or-eBay-The-ultimate-guide-to-selling-your-stuff-online">Craigslist or eBay? The ultimate guide to selling your stuff online.</a> &mdash; eBay is great for unique, niche or collectible items, brand-name clothing, working electronics and hot holiday items. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/credit/T017-C000-S001-3-habits-of-people-with-high-credit-scores.html">3 Habits of People With High Credit Scores</a> &mdash; 96% of people with the highest credit scores pay their loans and credit card bills on time. Make sure you do, too, even if it's just the minimum. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://blog.readyforzero.com/self-esteem-keeping-paying-debt/">How Low Self-Esteem Could Be Keeping You From Paying Off Your Debt</a> &mdash; Low self-esteem keeps you from seeing the possibilities beyond this moment. It makes you think that a life beyond without debt is impossible. [ReadyForZero]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneyunder30.com/when-is-it-time-to-hire-a-financial-advisor">When Is It Time To Hire A Financial Advisor?</a> &mdash; It may be time to hire a financial advisor if you want an impartial third-party opinion on how to manage your money. [Money Under 30]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-10-must-have-products-for-financial-security">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/becoming-financially-secure-what-to-do-first">Becoming Financially Secure: What to Do First</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-habits-of-financially-happy-people">10 Habits of Financially Happy People</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-upwardly-mobile">How to Be Upwardly Mobile</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-steps-you-must-take-to-protect-your-family-financially">7 Steps You Must Take to Protect Your Family Financially</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-principles-for-a-seismic-economy">5 Financial Principles for a Seismic Economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance best money tips financial security Mon, 13 Apr 2015 19:00:07 +0000 Amy Lu 1382211 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Stocks Warren Buffett Loves — And You Should, Too http://www.wisebread.com/7-stocks-warren-buffett-loves-and-you-should-too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-stocks-warren-buffett-loves-and-you-should-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/binoculars_000012990755.jpg" alt="Man looking towards wealthy financial future with stocks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Warren Buffett is one of the <a href="http://www.stockpickr.com/pro/portfolio/warren-buffett/">most successful investors</a> of all time. He's also famous for living modestly (he still occupies a very middle class home in Omaha and drives an older vehicle) and investing in products that can be easily understood by anyone. (That's enough to make any Wise Bread reader swoon.) Here are seven of the stocks he loves that we should all seriously consider for our portfolios:</p> <h2>1. Wells Fargo</h2> <p>Mr. Buffett devotes almost a quarter of his stock portfolio to <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AWFC&amp;ei=1MEhVfnmJMje8AbPoYBQ">Wells Fargo</a>. Many financial services stocks boomeranged during the recession. In this instance, Wells Fargo's diversification helped cushion them from the losses and rock bottom stock prices that many of their competitors experienced during the depths of the financial crisis. Its motto could be simply stated as &quot;steady as it goes.&quot; And if there's anything that Mr. Buffett likes, it's stability.</p> <h2>2. Coca-Cola</h2> <p><a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AKO&amp;ei=38EhVdn8PIGB8Abn94HoAg">Coca-Cola</a> is synonymous with Americana. I still remember the iconic commercials from my childhood, and its polar bears remain a staple of Christmas advertising. All of the nostalgia aside, the world's most famous beverage (and brand) has held its value. For almost 40 years, it's steadily climbed its way up in price from $0.81 per share in 1978 to almost $41 per share in 2015.</p> <h2>3. American Express</h2> <p><a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AAXP&amp;ei=9sIhVYnQHOqysAftxoHIAQ">American Express</a> zeroes in on wealthier customers who tend to experience less strife during a difficult economy. Though Amex experienced a significant decline in its stock price during the most recent recession, it has since bounced back nicely. Since its low of $10 in 2009, the stock has clawed its way back to almost $80 per share, significantly higher than its share price prior to the recession.</p> <h2>4. IBM</h2> <p><a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AIBM&amp;ei=I8QhVfm0C4uM8Qb07YGIBg">IBM</a> is a bit of a roller coaster stock if we focus on any short-term timeframe. However, if we zoom out and take a look at its performance over the long-haul, we see that the highs outweigh the lows. Mr. Buffett is famous for taking the long view, and IBM is a great example of the value of this perspective. Since the doldrums of 2009, IBM has doubled its per share price.</p> <h2>5. Wal-Mart</h2> <p>There's plenty of criticism in the press when it comes to <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AWMT&amp;ei=vMQhVfnmJIWB8wbr24HADw">Wal-Mart's</a> business practices. Many take umbrage with its employee practices and environmental policies. But when it comes to making an investment in a company that provides returns, Wal-Mart is another stock that consistently delivers for its shareholders. Even during the latest recession when many other companies were bottoming out, Wal-Mart held its value. In the past 20 years, its stock price has grown more than seven times over.</p> <h2>6. Procter &amp; Gamble</h2> <p>Open up your medicine cabinet or look under your sink, and chances are you've got at least one <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3APG&amp;ei=ucUhVbj8CIGB8Abn94HoAg">Procter &amp; Gamble</a> product that's a staple in your daily life. Mr. Buffett loves companies like this because they are such a part of the fabric of American consumer's habits. P&amp;G is an innovation leader with a careful and thoughtful eye toward improving the lives of its customers through its products. This commitment shows in its stock price, which has grown by over 28% in the past five years.</p> <h2>7. U.S. Bancorp</h2> <p>Like many of Mr. Buffett's other stock picks, <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AUSB&amp;ei=PckhVaGWA-zBsAeP_oCADg">U.S. Bancorp</a> has been on an upward climb since the depths of the latest recession. Though it hasn't seen a dramatic rise in price like American Express and Wal-Mart, it's nonetheless a solid bet thanks to its business spanning the full range of financial services from retail banking, to capital markets, to investment management.</p> <p>In Mr. Buffett's portfolio we immediately notice one obvious pattern &mdash; he invests in brands that are well-known and ubiquitous to American life. In the days of flashy startups, over-the-top IPOs, and Silicon Valley's flashes in the pan, Mr. Buffett provides us with a salient counter example for the prudent investor: invest in what you know and in what everyone else knows, too.</p> <p><em>Do you own any of Warren Buffett's favorite stocks? If so, which ones and why?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-stocks-warren-buffett-loves-and-you-should-too">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-invest-in-the-stock-market">Why invest in the stock market?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-crucial-things-you-should-know-about-bonds">5 Crucial Things You Should Know About Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-investors-with-better-returns-than-warren-buffett">5 Investors With Better Returns Than Warren Buffett</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-401-k-is-not-an-investment">Your 401(k) is not an investment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment investors stock portfolios stocks Warren Buffett Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:00:04 +0000 Christa Avampato 1380770 at http://www.wisebread.com Account in Collections? Here's How to Fix It http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_thinking_000019659642.jpg" alt="Man dealing with past due account in collections" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earlier this year, my husband received a letter stating that he had a debt in collections. We were warned that if we didn't send money soon, they'd start legal action.</p> <p>Naturally, our breathing quickened and our hearts nearly jumped out of our chests. But then I made us take deep breaths. With my background as an accountant, I knew we had options. Here's how to successfully deal with a past due account in collections.</p> <h2>Research the Creditor's Information</h2> <p>Don't stress or freak out when your receive that dreaded &quot;account in collections/payment due&quot; letter. The worst thing you can do is overreact and succumb to false information from scammers trying to get your credit information. This happens more often than you may realize.</p> <p>Before taking any action based on what the letter says, you want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">verify the information is correct</a>, and research the company contacting you. It's often hard to tell the difference between the legitimate letters and the fakes, as many will include bits of personal information and your account numbers. But don't let this sway you.</p> <p>A good place to start is with the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/bbb-locator/">Better Business Bureau</a>. Simply enter the company's name in the search box on their site. If the debt collector's name and information comes up in the BBB system, they're legit; but if it doesn't, you'll want to proceed with caution.</p> <p>Or consider investigating the legitimacy of a debt collections company by doing a quick online search. You'll often come across other people's stories or experiences with companies and can verify whether or not the information you've received is for real.</p> <p>Finally, consider checking your collections letter against an official account of any debts on your credit report. <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is a website authorized by the federal government to give you access to your entire credit report, once a year, for free. By checking your report, you'll be able to verify whether the debt actually belongs to you, and if the right debt collection company's name is on the account.</p> <p>Make sure you save your credit report for later reference. If you notice errors, suspicious activity, or inaccuracies, you'll want to contact one of the three credit bureaus to get it solved.</p> <h2>Reach Out to the Credit Agency</h2> <p>If the debt agency's information is legit, and you've verified that you do indeed owe this amount, the next step is to contact the debt collection company directly. Call the number on the letter you received and start asking questions. Who did they purchase the debt from? What was the original balance? The balance on your statement is probably highly inflated because of late fees or other charges.</p> <p>They will likely push you into making a payment right then, but don't let them pressure you. Surprisingly, you have the upper hand in this situation because the debt collection agency paid pennies on the dollar for your debt. They will feel lucky to get any amount you're able to pay, so don't feel rushed.</p> <p>Ask them to send you this information in writing, so you can keep it for your records:</p> <ul> <li>The name of the original account holder,</li> <li>Your previous account number,</li> <li>The balance due now.</li> </ul> <p>Once you receive this information in the mail, you can negotiate a proper payment plan. You don't want this to go too long without being solved, but don't feel like you have to rush to make a payment. That's when you'll overpay. And remember that collections agencies will often accept less than the full amount owed, so don't necessarily agree to their first offer.</p> <h2>Report Them for Unethical or Illegal Behavior</h2> <p>As you go through this process, remember that you have all the control. Debt collection agencies tend to use less-than-stellar methods for getting consumers to make exorbitant payments towards outstanding debts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them?ref=seealso">4 Things Bill Collectors Can't Do</a>)</p> <p>If they start <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors">calling you nonstop</a>, verbally abusing you over the phone or with letters, or harassing family members, be sure to report them.</p> <p>If you need added protection, check out the <a href="http://www.acainternational.org/">American Collectors Agency</a>, or reach out to an attorney and a consumer-protection agency for help. You don't need to endure this process alone, and having an expert by your side will help alleviate the stress.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had to deal with a debt in collections? What other tips and tricks do you suggest?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good">Back in Debt? Here&#039;s How to Pay it Off for Good</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oops-i-maxed-out-my-credit-cards-now-what">Oops — I Maxed Out My Credit Cards. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them">4 Annoying Things Bill Collectors Can&#039;t Do -- And How to Stop Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-lowdown-on-data-accuracy-in-your-credit-report">The Lowdown on Data Accuracy in Your Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management better business bureau collections agency credit agencies owing money past due Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:00:03 +0000 Carrie Smith 1378041 at http://www.wisebread.com