Ways to Financial Relief – Simple Steps to Organize Your Finances

Simple Steps to Organize Your Finances

Creating and sticking to a budget can feel daunting. When we miss a day, a week or even a month, we often ditch the effort and feel lost again. I think we can all say that discipline is the #1 step to organizing our finances. Another critical factor is consistency. Building consistent financial habits helps us stay organized.

  1. One of the biggest financial stressors can be credit card debt. There are several philosophies to getting out of credit card debt. One that often works is the snowball method, where you attack the smallest balance first. This helps you build momentum, like a snowball rolling down a hill.
  2. When everything seems to cost more, discipline and consistency are a must. So is meal prep but it can save you a lot of money every month. Preparing meals in advance helps you get organized, think ahead, and eliminates impulse buys. You may also be able to buy in bulk which save money too.
  3. Review your subscriptions and automated purchases. Do you really need six streaming services? Probably not, so cancel the ones you use the least or see if your favorite shows are on a less expensive platform.
  4. June is a good month to find ways to save on your energy bills. Try these three steps to start: 1) change your air filters, 2) check the seals around windows and doors, and 3) unplug unused or under-used electronics from the wall. One last thing, in the hot summer months, only run your dishwasher and washer and dryer at night. This will reduce the amount of heat that is already causing you’re a/c to run overtime.
  5. Take the Spend Challenge. This is hard and most people don’t do it because it can feel stressful at first. Review your last three-months of spending. Track everything then analyze where you think you can save – dining out, clothes shopping, expensive or name brand grocery items, gas, etc. Then challenge yourself to shave a little here and a little there.

There’s savings in there. Discipline and consistency are can help you get there, one day at a time.

If you need extra cash to jump start organizing your finances, visit a friendly CashMax store near you. We love our clients and love meeting new customers.

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 37 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief - Spring and Summer Savings

Spring and Summer Savings

With cost rising everywhere, this month we’re focusing on ways to help you save during the spring and summer months.

  1. Spring or Pre-Summer Cleaning – This is the time of year when you need to clean where you’ve intentionally avoiding. Clean behind your refrigerator, dust those lightbulbs, and seals around doors. This will help your house be more efficient.
  2. Check Your Cooling System – Get an AC tune up, clean your units, and replace your air filter. If you can, replace your thermostat with a smart system or set timers so your system only runs when you really need it.
  3. Install Ceiling Fans – This is an easy fix to keep you cooler and your system running at a lower cost. On average, ceiling fans can allow you to raise the temperature by 4 degrees and you won’t feel the difference.
  4. Seal Your House – First, clean your door, window, and garage seals; replace any worn out or cracked seals, then finish with a spray of WD40 or use an expanding foam to fill in the gaps.
  5. Plant Some Shade – Plant trees, shrubs or plants that offer shade around your house, near windows and doors. This both beautifies your home and helps keep it cool with a little more shade.
  6. Recycle – Save money by riding your bike or walking to short errands or work. Also some of the things you throw away may have some value.

If you need extra cash to jump start your spring and summer, visit a friendly CashMax store near you. We love our clients and love meeting new customers.

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 37 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief – Tax Season

2022 Tax Season

Timing is everything...

The IRS is now accepting 2021 taxes and the deadline is April 18, 2022. You may qualify for the IRS Free File program, if you earned less than $73,000 of adjusted gross income. There are seven federal tax brackets for 2021 from 10% - 37%. Check out the tax brackets here.

Here are some of the most common items you may need to file your taxes.

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Ways to Financial Relief - 2022 Money Moves

2022 Money Moves

What are you building for…

The start of a new year can be exciting. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start, challenge ourselves, and commit to new things. The top three New Year’s Resolutions usually fit into the health/wellness, spend more time with family and friends, and personal finances categories. I want to eat better and exercise more. I want to spend more quality time with family and friends. I want to pay off my debt and save some money. Pretty typical.

We can’t really help with the first two, but we’ve put together some helpful steps toward financial relief in 2022.

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Ways to Financial Relief – Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Ways to Financial Relief – Holiday Shopping on a Budget

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Weather is cooler. The year is winding down. Kids are out of school. Getting together with family and friends. It is also one of the most expensive times of the year and that can cause stress. You have already paid for Thanksgiving and you may done some early shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.

Here a few ways to get financial relief during the holidays.

  1. Sending Christmas cards can be expensive. The mail is slower then ever and cost more. Just printing cards is expensive. Go digital this year. Take your own photo (matching pajamas makes for family fun) and send a digital card.
  2. Price match everything. Most retailers, especially the majors like Target, Walmart, Best Buy and many more, will match competitor’s pricing. Start online to make trips to the store more efficient.
  3. Take advantage of free shipping.
  4. Make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for then make a budget.
  5. Shop a little each week rather than sending a lot of your money out the door all at once.
  6. When shopping online, look for pay overtime options. There are a lot of no fee options like Affirm and Klarna.

If you need a little extra cash to jump start, visit a friendly CashMax store near you. We love our clients and love meeting new customers.

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief – November Money Matters

Ways to Financial Relief – November Money Matters

November is the start of the end of the year. It is a time when we are reminded to slow down and say Thank You. It is a time to start planning for the holidays and looking forward to spending time with family and friends. It is also a time that can be financially stressful.

Stress can be eliminated when we plan ahead. Rushing around at the last minute can cause anxiety, fewer options, and paying more. Knowing what’s ahead and planning for it are important. Here are some important dates to be mindful of.

  • Thanksgiving – November 25
  • Black Friday – November 26
  • Small Business Saturday – November 27
  • Cyber Monday – November 29

Start buying items for your Thanksgiving Dinner ahead. Making small purchased each week will eliminate the stress of one big bill the week when you already have to manage a lot of moving parts.

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Ways to Financial Relief - 3 Money Moves

Ways to Financial Relief - 3 Money Moves

When you have a little extra money, the goal is to keep it and have your money make more money. So, how can you do it, even with only a few extra dollars? You don’t have to be a real estate mogul or business tycoon to get your money earning money for you. You can invest like a pro today.

Here are 3 money moves you can make right now.

  1. Swipe - Check your credit, debit and prepaid cards. Some offer great incentives and even cash back. You are making everyday purchases anyway, so why not get a little extra in return. The Aspiration Debit Card gives you up to 10% back every time you swipe. Some apps like Acrons, reward you for shopping at certain retailers. And the Stash card invests the cash you earn in stocks or invests you choose. You could be earning money without changing your spending habits.
  2. Own Real Estate. Most of us want to have some type of passive income and we commonly see real estate as the best way to achieve this but we often see real estate investments as unattainable. Not anymore You can own a piece of property with as little as $500. Check out DiversyFund and they will invest in private real estate like apartment buildings and you don’t have to repaid a single clogged toilet.
  3. Own Companies. You can own some of the best stocks for as little as $1. On top of own shares or partial shares of the companies you choose, some even pay dividends so you can earn more money. Apps like Stash are a great place to start. Building your financial future takes time but you have to start. Stash also offers bonuses when you sign up so you can invest even more.

Making small money moves like these can help you find financial freedom and build your emergency fund. Slow and steady wins the race.

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Ways to Financial Relief - Emergency Fund

Ways to Financial Relief - Emergency Fund

More than half of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck according to a recent study regardless of income level. The definition of living paycheck-to-paycheck means that an individual would not be able to meet their financial obligations if they became unemployed. 25% of Americans don’t have an emergency fund at all. 40% of Americans don’t have $1,000 available for emergencies and 51% don’t have enough savings to cover expenses for more than a month.

These stats are really important. It shows how expensive everyday living expenses can be and how stressful it is to make ends meet week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck and month-to-month. Add unexpected bills, trips to the store, car or home repairs or a true emergency and it’s easy to fall behind.

Here are a few ways you can get started if you are starting from zero or don’t have an emergency fund.

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Ways to Financial Relief - Back-to-School

Ways to Financial Relief - Back-to-School

It’s back-to-school season and we all know that back-to-school shopping can be expensive. Everything seems to be more expensive right now. So we’ve put together some money saving tips that can help you stretch your dollars and, hopefully, take some of the stress out of back-to-school for you and your kiddos.

  1. Take inventory of what you already have at home. Go through your drawers, closets, last year’s backpacks, craft bins, garage, etc. You may have a lot of what you need already and it may be in great condition.
  2. Don’t buy everything all at once. Spread out the expenses by starting early and making purchases as you go. Students really don’t need everything on the first day.
  3. Buy in bulk with family, friends, neighbors and school mates. Buying in bulk can save a lot of money.
  4. Seek out sales and compare prices on clothes, electronics, school supplies, sneakers, etc.
  5. Wait and plan. Texas has tax free days. Labor is full of sales. Look online for deals. Write down everything you think you need and plan your budget so when the right deal happens, you are ready to buy.
  6. Host a back-to-school swap. Form a group then meet up or post on social media what you have available. Trade or pay it forward within your community.
  7. Look for back-to-school drives in your community. Many organizations host back-to-school drives where you can pick up school supply necessities for free.
  8. Make it a family affair. Working together shows your kids that this moment is important.

If you need a little extra cash for your back-to-school shopping, visit a friendly CashMax store near you. We love our clients and love meeting new customers.

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief – Spring Cleaning

Ways to Financial Relief – Spring Cleaning

We’re headed into spring. Time for taxes, spring break and spring cleaning.

We’ve put together 10 ways to save money or be more efficient this spring:

  1. Change your air filter
  2. Your hot water heater is running all the time. Install a timer and set it to heat water when you need it most.
  3. Get better gas mileage when you change the cabin filter in your car.
  4. Clear out the attic, garage and closets. You could be sitting on piles of cash and didn’t even know it. Repurpose that old furniture and turn it into a few extra dollars.
  5. It’s been a hard winter so replace weather stripping around doors and windows.
  6. Check the air pressure on your car which can save money in the short-run with better gas mileage and in the long-run with longer tire life.
  7. Add some insulation to keep improve the performance of your HVAC system.
  8. Save a few bucks by growing your own vegetables. It can be healthier too.
  9. Replace light bulbs with Energy Star-rated products and LED light bulbs.
  10. If you need to purchase items for your home, check social marketplaces like Facebook, eBay, 5 Miles, and consignment stores.

If you need a little extra cash between paychecks or a bridge before you receive your tax return, visit a friendly CashMax store near you. We love our clients and love meeting new customers.

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief – Save Your Energy

Ways to Financial Relief – Save Your Energy

Dang, it’s cold. So, like the summer months when we’re cooling things down in our houses in Texas, we’ve been heating them like crazy this month. This means our utility bills will be higher this month. More electricity, more gas, more hot water equals more money.

We’ve found a great energy hack. It’s called Energy Ogre. Basically, for $10 a month, Energy Ogre searches for the best deals for you. Energy Ogre states they save members an average of 40% within their first year. Texans spend an average of $1,542 per year on their electric utility. Using Energy Ogre, could save over $600.

Why pay retail energy costs when you can buy it wholesale. Try this code when you sign up: https://eog.re/r/11SFG.

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Ways to Financial Relief – February Financial Strategy

Ways to Financial Relief – February Financial Strategy

February is an important month. It’s Black History Month and the month of Love. It’s also the month when most New Year’s Resolution fail and when you should have all of your tax information.

Take a few moments to review your New Year’s Resolutions and recommit to achieving them. You are not behind so consider February a fresh start. Renew your motivation to exercise and eat healthy, spend time with family and friends, and, of course, stick to your financial plan.

February is also the month to get prepared for filing your taxes. Gather your tax documents from 2020. Most of us have received W2 or 1099 forms. Get ready to file so you can get your tax return as quickly as possible.

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Ways to Financial Relief – Easy Budgeting Rule

Ways to Financial Relief – Easy Budgeting Rule

Creating a budget is not hard. It is stressful. Being disciplined with your budget is hard. It’s even harder when the numbers and your demands just don’t add up.

There is an easy method for building and staying on budget. Try this framework:

50 / 30 / 20 or Need / Want / Save

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Ways to Financial Relief – New Year’s Resolutions

Ways to Financial Relief - New Year's Resolutions

Time for a fresh start. Let’s put 2020 behind us and get motivated for 2021. A lot of people start the year by making New Year’s Resolutions. And most of these resolutions fail by Valentine’s Day. It takes approximately 66 days to change habits and make them automatic but most of the new habits we are trying to create have fail before we hit day 42.

How can we shift this?

The first step and most important factor is lifestyle. Most of our New Year’s Resolutions have to do with changing our habits – Fitness, Health, Finances, Organization, Learn. In order to achieve our goals for the new year, we have to change our lifestyle, which allows space for these new habits.

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Ways to Financial Relief – Financial Gifts

Ways to Financial Relief - Financial Gifts

Give the gift of financial relief, financial security or financial education. Sometimes the most practical and pragmatic gifts turn out being the best gifts. We’ve come up with a few ways for you to give the gift of financial relief.

GIFT CARDS – Instead of giving cash, give a gift card to the recipient’s favorite store or a Visa, Mastercard or American Express branded gift card that they can use anywhere. Gift Cards to Target, Walmart and Amazon are also great. And restaurant gift cards including food delivery platforms are also available. Gift cards can often be purchased online and delivered electronically so shopping only takes a few clicks and a few minutes.

BOOKS – A little learning never hurt anyone. We’ve selected three books for people of all ages and financial situations. Three great books by three great authors.

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Ways to Financial Relief - Seasonal Jobs

Ways to Financial Relief - Seasonal Jobs

Need extra cash this time of year? Have extra time on your hands? Are expenses piling up? Several companies are gearing up for the holidays and looking for hardworking people like you.

Here are 17 companies that are hiring seasonal workers. Check out Seasonal Jobs at Glassdoor:

  • H&M
  • Talbots
  • FedEx
  • Amazon
  • Gap
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Burlington Stores
  • Old Navy
  • Nordstrom
  • Whole Foods
  • Macy’s
  • Apple
  • Best Buy
  • Lowe’s
  • Ulta Beauty
  • UPS
  • Target

When you need a little cash to help you through this time of year, CashMax can help:

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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Ways to Financial Relief – Planning to Plan

Ways to Financial Relief - Planning to Plan

November means it’s time to plan. This is planning season. A time when you need to plan for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monay, plan menus, guests lists, Christmas and holiday gifts. You may be planning for your kids to be home more often or planning a short trip. And it’s never too early to plan for 2021. November is a busy month and it can be stressful on your finances, so planning your budget is important. The better your plan, the easier it may be to be prepared and avoid stress.

Here are some of the most common things we spend money on in November.

  • Home improvements
  • Getting ready for winter – clothes and household items
  • Thanksgiving meals and baking supplies
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Early Christmas shopping
  • Activities for kids
  • And did you know that November is the best month to buy a new TV.

This is an expensive time of year, so create a budget and most importantly prioritize what you need and when you can afford to buy it. Many people are intimidated by the thought of creating a budget but don’t let it scare you. It will probably relive stress in the long run.

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Ways to Financial Relief – It’s Car Buying Season

Financial Relief - Car Buying

It’s car buying season. Well, it’s Fall which means it’s football, Halloween and Thanksgiving season but it’s also car buying season. So, when is the best time to buy a car and what are some of the tricks to buying your new treat?

There are a lot of useful answers here so let’s identify 2 categories – Ends and Months.


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Ways to Financial Relief - Cut the Cord

Cut the Cord - Financial Relief

The average family spends over $200 per month on cable. Let’s compare that to streaming services and can you really save money when you cut the cord without sacrificing getting the programming you want.

The Los Angeles Times found that the average person pays for or subscribes to four streaming services. Note which ones you pay for each month here...

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube TV, Apple TV, Peacock, HBO Max, Sling and more on the way.

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5 Ways to Financial Relief – Fall Financial Check-Up

Fall Financial Check-Up

Let’s take a financial challenge. Do you think you could save more than $1,000 in four hours? We think you can save more than $2,000 year if you really dig in. There is no better time than now to negotiate and try some new habits. Try to schedule a financial check-up at least 3 times per year – January, April and August.

We’ve put together 5 Ways for a Fall Financial Check-up.

  1. Cars – On average, it costs over $700 per month to own a car. Many people are working from home and may be for the foreseeable future. Kids are e-learning or hybrid learning with fewer extracurricular activities. Have these factors changed your driving habits? Take a look at your situation and determine if you can sell a second car or if you need a car at all.
  2. Subscriptions – Subscription services can be great and convenient but over time you may not be getting the full value. At first, it was Netflix then you added Spotify, and Disney+ which added on Hulu and ESPN+ then YouTube TV, and the gym membership and food delivery service and on and on. The $4.99 here and $6.99 there and this and that. Suddenly you are paying hundreds of dollars a month for the convenience of watered-down subscription service you do not use. Take a few minutes to evaluate subscription services you are paying for then decide which ones you love, which ones you can consolidate and which ones you can cancel.
  3. Insurance – Have you seen all of the car insurance commercials. Feels like I should be saving a lot more. In Texas, the average person pays $117 per month per car. Insurance is competitive so at least once a year compare rates. There are several websites and apps that will show you competitive rates and it only takes a few minutes and switching insurance is not complicated.
  4. Bank Fees – The average checking account costs almost $15 per month plus ATM fees. Several banks offer free check but is it really free and what are the requirements to get free checking. Do you need a high minimum balance and direct deposit? There are several free checking account options with full features like debit cards, free ATM usage and refund out of network fees, provide checks, online bill pay, and mobile banking apps. A few minutes could save you more than $100.
  5. Credit Card Debt – This one is uncomfortable and stressful. We often don’t want to look at our debt but could save hundreds of dollars. The average American carries over $6,000 of credit card debt with an interest rate over 18%. That means you are paying over $1,100 per year in interest alone. Remember, credit cards are revolving debt so will always owe money, but it you get a loan to consolidate these debts, you could pay it off and be debt free.

When you need a little help to get from where you are now to where you need to be, CashMax can help:

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5 Ways to Improve Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping can be stressful. First, it can be very expensive. School supplies, backpacks, clothes, sneakers, electronics and technology can add up to nearly $700 per child. There never seems to be enough time, supplies and selections can be limited, and shipping may be delayed. Add in pre-teens, tweens and teens to the mix and you can have an anxious couple of weeks.

Here are 5 ways you can improve back to school shopping:

  1. Start Early – Some are better than others and luckily many schools are starting later this year so use this time wisely. 2-3 weeks should be enough time for you to prepare list and your kids wants, create a budget, search for deals, then shop. Most importantly, don’t procrastinate like my son on his American History project.
  2. Make a List – Organization is key to reducing back-to-school shopping stress. It also allows you to create a budget, compare prices, find deals and shop on your time.
  3. Create a Budget – There is a lot of uncertainty right now about how school will go in the COVID-19 fall semester and a lot of challenges facing moms and dads. On average standard classroom supplies cost $117, new sneakers cost $136, computers and electronics around $200, and fall fashions nearly $240. That’s almost $700 per child which does not include the need for more technology this year, added expense of increased utilities for e-learning or “school” lunches.
  4. Search for Deals – There are several ways to save on back-to-school necessities. First, take inventory at your home. Most of us have drawers, cabinets, and boxes full of useful school supplies. Search online for more expensive items and coupons or promo codes. There are also swapping sites. ABC News created a great link to help you find “Digital Ways to Save”
  5. Start Online, Finish Retail – And finally, start the process by shopping online first then as you make runs to the store pick up items as you go. Of course, many of us will wait until the last minute like we did in school cramming for that chemistry test so the late-night dash to the big box store is in many of our futures.

When you need a little help to on the extra cost of back-to-school shopping, CashMax can help:

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5 Ways to Improve Your Work from Home Space

Working From Home - Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Working from home is hardly new, but with COVID-19 it is quickly becoming the new norm. Many professionals are now having to set up makeshift home offices and with that comes quite a few challenges.

Here are 5 ways you can improve your work from home space today.

  1. Find a Dedicated Space – Even if you don’t have a separate room to set up an office, finding a space in your home that you can dedicate to your workspace is crucial. Make sure the space is well lit with natural light if possible and will give you privacy, even if that means setting up a room divider. Since you are working from home, your work needs to stay in your WORK space.
  2. Make it Welcoming – Create an environment that you want to work in. Add a plant, light a candle, surround yourself with beautiful pictures. Amazon has great office space knickknacks that can turn your little nook into a private oasis you look forward to working in every day.
  3. Invest in a Desk – You can create a desk from just about anything. It doesn’t have to be expensive but having a desk gives your space (however big or small) a work environment feel that can help keep you focused.
  4. Get a Good Chair – No office space is complete without a comfortable chair. It’s hard to stay productive if you aren’t comfortable and without a good chair you could be facing back and neck problems.
  5. Use good Tech Tools – You are probably used to having certain tools available to you while at the office. Make sure that you get the tools that you need for your own home office space. A few key tech tools that can make a difference are noise cancelling headphones, a good keyboard with a wrist pad, webcam for video conferencing, microphone, surge protectors, printer, scanner and don’t forget the coffee maker!

We’ve compiled an Amazon Idea list for everything you need to create your dream home office workspace here.

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3 Ways to Save on Utility Bills

3 Ways to Save on Utility Bills

This is the time of year when utility bills can be the highest which can cause a financial strain. The stress of monitoring your thermostat, keeping doors closed and turning off the lights, just to keep your electric bill in check. Here are a few ways to help lower your electric bill in the summer, and maybe throughout the year.

  1. Energy Ogre – This is a service that searches multiple utility providers to find the best rates and savings programs in your area. Use this special link to see their savings calculator: https://www.energyogre.com/savings/?ref=11SFG
  2. Get a programmable thermostat that monitors and adjusts based on the activity in your home.
  3. Keep doors, windows and curtain closed. Keep heat out and the cool air in.

When bills get out of control and you need a little help to get you through summer expenses, CashMax can help:

  1. Get pre-approved for a cash advance up to $2,000 or title loan up to $5,000 over the phone from one of our knowledgeable associates.
  2. You can start the process of getting a cash advance or title loan online.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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3 Apps to Help You Manage Your Money

Money Management Applications

Balancing your everyday financial needs is challenging and it is important to have complete access and control of your finances. There are several apps that help you save, manage, budget and control your money, as hard as it can be. We’ve put together a short list of apps for you to investigate.

  1. Stash – Stash is an app for banking, saving, learning and investing. Stash a little bit at a time and watch it grow. “Stashers”, as they call their clients, can track their spending, use free educational tools, and invest or stash a to build an emergency fund. Use our click our partner link to get $20.
  2. PocketGuard – PocketGuard is great because it helps you manage your spending. It is a money managing app that syncs all of your accounts so you can track them in one place, which helps with visualizing your spending. Seeing your expenses in one place can also help you catch unexpected charges and reoccurring expenses that have been forgotten. Another great feature of PocketGuard is that is features a list of services that its users can pay less for, given users options to lower their spending costs.
  3. Acorns - Are you looking for an app to help you save without having to do ANYTHING? Not only does Acorns help you find extra cash to save, it automatically invests it for you. The Acorns app can round up your everyday purchases and automatically invest them. For example, if your weekly grocery bill is $52.45, Acorns will draw $0.55 from your account and invest it. You can choose the stock portfolio that fits your preference, but don’t worry Acorns will give you suggestion curated by experts that align with your preferred level of risk. You can also partner with other businesses and Acorns will add the extra cash to your investment account…kind of like a cash back program.

Planning for the near and long-term future is important, but when you need cash today, here’s 3 ways CashMax can help:

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COVID-19 Financial Assistance

COVID-19 Financial Assistance

COVID-19 has caused many stresses including financial stress on some of the most vulnerable Americans. Government Stimulus checks and unemployment may be a very short-term bridge, but you may need help with your most important expenses like housing, utilities, cell phone, WIFI so your kids can school and you can work from home.

Many banks and financial institutions offer temporary assistance. Some banks are offering extending due dates or forbearance programs. If you need assistance with your rent or mortgage, utility bills, credit card payments, mobile phone or insurance, be sure to contact your bank or service provider immediate to find out what programs they are offering.

CashMax is open to help you with immediate financial relief. Our teams are knowledgeable, friendly and ready to help you. The process is easy and you can have the cash you need in your hand today.

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How to Track Your Stimulus Check

Tracking Your Stimulus Check

Stimulus relief payments started hitting bank accounts last week and the government is lining up paper checks to go out this week. The IRS has built an online tool to help you track your check called Get My Payment.

If you are eligible and would like to track your payment, using this online tool may be the fastest way.

  1. Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
  2. Click the blue Get My Payment button
  3. Agree to the use of the system
  4. Complete the information – Social, Date of Birth, Street Address, Zip

CashMax locations in Texas are open and ready help you through these challenging financial times. Our employees are taking enhanced procedures to keep themselves, our customers and communities as safe as possible. The process is fast and easy.

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21 Resources to Find Financial Help

Financial Help

Over 6.6 million Americans have filed job loss claims over the last few weeks, which is a new record for the U.S.

While there are many financial aid programs being created, it can be hard to navigate which ones are available to you and your family. Here are 21 resources created to help individuals in varying industries.

Air Force Aid Assistance

  • Program name: Air Force Aid Society
  • Type of assistance: No-interest loans and/or grants
  • Minimum qualifications: Air Force, Airmen, and families


  • Program name: Amazon Relief Fund
  • Type of assistance: Up to two weeks of pay to all employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine
  • Minimum qualifications: Amazon delivery drivers and seasonal employees

*Amazon is also hiring 100,000 new full and part-time fulfillment center and delivery positions across the United States. Regular pay of at least $15/hour will be increased by $2/hour.

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Fifteen Companies Hiring Right Now

Companies Hiring

With jobs being cut left and right, it can be hard to stay positive about finding any job opportunities ahead.

Good news is that there are companies hiring thousands of people right now. Here are the top ten companies who are mass hiring this month.

  1. CVS Health
  2. 7-Eleven
  3. Albertsons
  4. Dollar General
  5. Dollar Tree/Family Dollar
  6. Kroger
  7. PepsiCo
  8. Publix
  9. Walgreens
  10. Wallmart
  11. Lowes
  12. Amazon
  13. Instacart
  14. Pizza Hut
  15. Papa John’s

These companies have pledged to hire for more than 860,000 jobs.

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Where Does Your Money Go?

Where Does Your Money Go?

It’s already March so let’s do a quick check-in on where we are spending our money. Here are the 6 most common areas where we spend most of our money:

  1. Housing
  2. Transportation
  3. Food
  4. Insurance & Healthcare
  5. Entertainment
  6. Clothing

Does your monthly budget look similar to this? Most families spend about 33% of their budget on housing, 16% on transportation, 12% on food, 19% on insurance and healthcare, 5% on entertainment and 3% on clothing. That only leaves 12% for everything else on your list. No wonder living is just so expensive and so many people feel the financial crunch week in and week out.

When you need a little help to bridge the gap before your next paycheck, CashMax is here with 38 convenient locations in Texas.

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3 Things You Need to Ask Yourself Before Filing your Taxes

Tax Season is Here

Tax Season is here again, which for a lot of us can be really overwhelming. Before you decide to tackle your taxes alone, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. How complicated are my finances
  2. Do I have the time
  3. How comfortable are you with financial matters

Need a little help to bridge the gap before getting your tax refund? CashMax is here with 38 convenient locations in Texas.

CashMax Texas offers 3 easy ways to help during tax season:

  1. Get pre-approved for as much as $5,000 over the phone.
  2. CashMax offers 2 loan options: Cash Advance and Title Loans. So if you need fast cash with instant approval today, we have you covered.
  3. CashMax has 38 convenient locations in Texas to serve you:

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What are the Benefits of Online Banking?

online payment

Banking online offers many helpful benefits, making it easier than ever to keep track of your money and stay in control of your financial future. Using your computer or phone, you can instantly view your current balance and recent transactions, pay bills or send money, and transfer funds between accounts. Rather than waiting in line at a bank, you can take care of business all on your own with a few simple clicks.

Pay Bills

One of the biggest perks to choosing an online bank is quick, easy access to your accounts, allowing you to stay on top of your monthly budget and bills. Paying bills online is a great way to ensure your accounts are up to date, with trackable payment confirmation numbers avoiding any worries of your check or cash getting lost in the mail. Save a stamp and a trip to the post office by instantly sending money to those you owe.

Keep Tabs on Transactions

Did your last paycheck go through? What is your current checking balance? With online banking, you can know exactly how much money you have in the bank at all times, without having to visit a physical location. Access your account 24/7 to double check your spending power, and make sure there are not any suspicious transactions. If you ever see a payment you did not authorize, you can call your provider to address the issue right away.

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What are Medical Loans?

patient having consultation with a doctor

Medical loans are personal loans for medical expenses. When procedures go outside the limits of insurance coverage, or if necessary treatments aren’t covered by insurance at all, medical loans can help bridge the gap during trying times. Learn what to expect and which options make sense for your medical situation.

Most Common Medical Loans

There are many common medical procedures that insurance companies do not cover. Orthodontia, reconstructive surgery, hair restoration, and bariatric procedures are typically categorized as “cosmetic” treatments, and therefore are often rejected by health insurance. Similarly, fees that address infertility, in vitro fertilization, or adoption are usually outside the scope of most plans.

Types of Medical Loans

If medical expenses are proving to be outside your current budget, here are a few different medical loan options for you to pursue:

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Reasons to Use a Credit Card

Credit Card

Some folks talk about credit cards like they’re dangerous and lead to excessive debt, but there are plenty of great reasons to use a credit card as a form of payment. Credit cards offer several perks such as airline miles, sign on bonuses, and earnable rewards, all while building your credit history.

Building Credit

Using a credit card for your daily purchases can be an excellent way to build up your credit history. When you pay your credit card bills on time, you prove to lenders that you are reliable. Staying within your credit limit and paying off statements completely each month will boost your credit score and can help you receive future car loans, mortgages, and more.

Rewards, Points, and Bonuses

Many credit cards offer buyers a variety of enticing rewards and sign-on bonuses. Most operate on a point-based earning system, with dollars spent earning a certain amount of points. You can earn airline miles, retail gift cards, hotel stays, and more, depending on which card you choose.

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How to Keep Your Banking Information Safe Online

Credit Card Fraud

Cyber security is an issue that affects us all, which is why it is crucial to understand how to keep your banking information safe online. By taking a few simple precautions such as using secure Wi-Fi and creating difficult passwords, you can rest assured your private information and account numbers will stay protected.

Browse on Secure Networks

While most of us have grown accustomed to using apps and browsing online from any location, it’s important to save banking tasks for when you’re on secure networks. Avoid checking your account or sending money while using a public computer or free Wi-Fi, especially networks that do not require a password login. These networks are more susceptible to attack, so only log in to your bank while at home or on a password-protected internet provider.

When banking, be sure the website has a “https” at the start (rather than “http”); the “s” stands for secure, and safeguards you against dangerous situations.

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Three Ways to Get a Free Credit Score

Checking Credit Score

Staying up to date with your credit score helps you know where you stand in terms of your creditworthiness, so when you apply for a loan or credit card, you have an educated idea of whether you'll be approved. Additionally, the United States Federal Trade Commission suggests checking your credit report yearly to make sure your information is accurate. Learn more about the three ways to get a free credit score below!

Get a Free Annual Credit Report

The Fair Credit Report Act entitles you to at least one credit report every year from all of the three main credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. To check your credit score, as well as your full credit report, you can order yours online from annualcreditreport.com — which is the only website authorized to provide a free report. You can order online or by phone. To keep track of your creditworthiness, it's a smart idea to order once every four months from each of the three bureaus — one in January from TransUnion, one in May from Equifax, and one in September from Experian.

Use Your Credit Card Account to Get Your Score

Some credit card companies offer a free monthly credit score or a credit report copy, such as Discover, Bank of America, American Express, and more. If you check your credit card account online, you may be able to keep track of your score right from the dashboard. While these free monthly credit scores aren't FICO scores, they can help you gauge your credit status and keep an eye out for strange increases or decreases.

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Can I Pay My Credit Card with Another Credit Card?

Credit Cards

Usually, no — at least not directly. Most credit card companies won't allow you to punch in the numbers for another credit card to pay your bill. The main reason why it's typically not an option is that the processing fees are too high for the company. However, if the due date on your credit card bill is fast-approaching and you don't have the cash, you can find another way to use a second credit card or try another approach.

Cash Advances

If you have a second credit card, you can take a cash advance against it to pay off the first credit card, or at least pay the monthly bill. You can then deposit the cash into your bank account and make your payment. However, there is a drawback to cash advances: the fees. It's not uncommon for a fee to be 5 percent or $10 — whichever is higher. There are also limits to how much you can get. Usually, the limit is lower than a credit limit, so if you're in considerable debt, a cash advance likely won't cover it.

Debt Consolidation

Do you have several lines of credit that you're struggling to keep current every month? If so, consider credit card debt consolidation. For example, taking out a personal loan can help you manage your debts and reduce your monthly payments to one credit bill — that is, your loan repayment. This is a great option, as long as you make your payments on time and can snag a loan with reasonable rates and terms.

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How Much Cash Should I Keep in the Bank?

Credit Cards

If you're like most people, you've probably asked yourself, "How much cash should I keep in the bank?" There's no right or wrong answer, but there are general guidelines you can follow to maximize your savings and avoid wasting money. Everyone has a different savings formula. However, overcomplicating how you look at your own money can cause you to stress over every dollar spent. Read on to learn more about how you can structure your checking and savings accounts for success.

What to Keep in Your Checking Account

If possible, store at least one month's take-home pay in your checking account. This gives you a buffer without putting you at risk for living paycheck-to-paycheck or hoarding all of your extra money — only to overspend later. Saving the equivalent of your monthly take-home gives you peace of mind for 30 days should you paycheck get lost in the mail or another extenuating circumstance arises. Additionally, it reduces the worry of overdrawing your account or feeling unprepared to deal with emergency situations.

While it may seem like keeping a large cushion of funds is smarter, the truth is: mixing your checking and savings money can trick you into thinking you have more money available. If you keep a smaller but adequate amount in your checking, you'll be less likely to splurge on that new TV or designer jacket because the money's sitting in your account.

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Credit vs. Debit Cards

Credit Cards

What's the difference between credit cards and debit cards? Chances are you have at least one of the two in your wallet. Which is better? Both have their benefits and potential drawbacks, depending on your financial situation, spending habits, and credit history. Learn the basics of credit vs. debit cards below.

What You Need to Know About Credit Cards

Institutions, such as banks, issue credit cards to cardholders after they've applied for and been approved for a line of credit. Cardholders agree to repay the money borrowed with interest. There are four types of credit cards:

  • Standard Card — provides a line of credit.
  • Rewards Card — offers perks like travel points and cash back.
  • Secured Card — can't be used without a cash deposit as collateral.
  • Charge Card — doesn't come with a spending limit, but typically doesn't allow unpaid balances to carry over.

Credit card usage also impacts your credit report and credit score. Your credit report provides lenders with a window into your financial history, while your credit score summarizes your creditworthiness. Using credit cards responsibly can significantly raise your credit score and improve your chances of getting approved for personal loans, low auto financing rates, and more. On the other hand, failing to repay your credit card bills can send your credit score into a downward spiral. None of this is true for a debit card.

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Diversifying Investments

Business Finance Saving

If you've heard the phrase "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," then you already know one of the top pieces of advice from the leading financial experts! This simple phrase is the heart and soul behind the concept of diversifying investments. Rather than placing all of your money in one place, you divide your assets among a variety of investments to maximize gain and minimize losses. But how does your average Joe learn how to diversify investments in the best way possible? Let's dive into exactly what is a diversified investment and how you can take advantage of this concept in your personal portfolio:

Different Types of Investments

What is a diversified investment? It means spreading your savings across different types of investments - the key words being "different types." Let's say you have a portfolio of stocks and you want to diversify. Should you load up on new stocks? The smarter option would be to add new types of investments like bonds or real estate. This allows you to take advantage of the different pros and cons of investments across the board. Here are a few of your options:

  • Bonds
  • International investments
  • Real estate
  • Stocks
  • Cash
  • And more

Doing the Math

Just how much of your money should you put into each of these investments? It's important to think practically. We like to use a tiered approach with financial planning. Your first tier of savings is your rainy day fund. This pool of money is used as a safeguard against any emergencies you encounter, like medical issues or auto troubles. Your second tier is your stocks and bonds.

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Debt Management

Debt Management

If you're trying to become debt-free, you need to have a plan to move forward - and learning debt management is the way to do it. What is debt management? It is a customized system that you create to live within your means and slowly emerge from debt. Because the causes of debt are different for everyone, your management system will also be personalized to your specific needs. This guide will break down how to identify your unique needs and how to create a sensible debt management plan that will carry you into the future. Let's get started!

Can Debt Management Help Me?

This debt management plan is best for those who have "unsecured debt". Unsecured debt includes things like credit card debt, bank overdrafts, and personal loans. If your debt is caused by mortgages or rent, this is considered "secured debt." Secured debts are a little trickier, and you may want to consult a financial advisor instead.

Why Do I Need Debt Management Skills?

It's easy to spiral into debt, but it's a lot more difficult to climb out of it. That's why it's crucial to come up with a strategy to move forward, rather than hoping things will simply get better with time. Not only does extended debt reflect poorly on your credit history, but it can also affect your ability to secure loans and mortgages down the line. Not to mention, interest accumulates and puts you in an even deeper financial hole. The best time to work on your debt is the present!

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How to File Taxes

How to File Taxes

The new year marks the official beginning of tax season, but do you know how to file taxes the right way? After working hard all year long, many people shudder at the very thought of 1040s and W2s, but luckily, the process isn't too tricky with the right information by your side. Let's dive into the basics of how and when can you file taxes, so you can file with total confidence!

Forms That You May Need

While the old system was full of confusing paperwork like the 1040A and 1040EZ forms, the IRS has created a new 1040 form that is the size of a postcard. The 1040 tax form is the standard federal income tax form that you'll need to report your income properly, so don't forget that number! So, where do you pick it up? You can easily download the 1040 tax form online for convenience, but if you'd prefer a hard copy, there are many locations that you can visit. Post offices, libraries, tax centers, and IRS offices across the nation have the supplies you need to file by the deadline of April 15th.

Factors That Affect Taxes

Why do taxes vary so much from person to person?

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Apps to Save Money on Groceries

Apps to Save Money on Groceries

You've scoured the sales ads, you've created a grocery budget, but did you know that there are even more ways that you can save on your weekly food costs? Thanks to the latest technology, you can take advantage of tons of different apps to save money on groceries - and it's as easy as tapping the screen of your smartphone! Let's dive into some of our top picks, so you can learn how to save money on food without sacrificing your favorites. These handy apps are available for free on both iOS and Android, so anyone can save big:


Ibotta is one of the most popular apps for good reason. This isn't your traditional coupon app. Simply go to the grocery store, check the app for cash back opportunities, and scan in your receipt after checkout. Within one week, you'll get cash back on all of your qualifying items - and you'll get an automatic five dollars with your first checkout! Best of all, you can use Ibotta on hundreds of different retailers from grocery stores to apparel shops - which means you can save money across the board!


If you're already a coupon-clipping pro, then SavingStar might be your new favorite app. Sign up for this service to register all of your rewards cards in one place. Then, feel free to browse through the latest deals and plan your shopping list ahead of time. All of your discounts will appear at the register when you check out. This flexible choice is a great option that works with nearly all of the major grocery store chains in the United States, so it's definitely worth the quick download!

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Why is it Better to Rent a House

Real Estate

Many people dream of getting the keys to their very first home, but not everyone is clear on the details. Do you want a huge home or a cozy abode? Do you want modern fixtures or that vintage feel? And most importantly: Do you want to rent vs. buy? While buying used to be the more coveted option, renting has surged in popularity due to rising housing costs and a greater need for flexibility. In fact, renting a house can be a much better option for many Americans. If you're not sure whether renting vs. buying a house is for you, then check out our guide. We've laid out some of the top benefits of renting, and how to tell whether this modern option is the best for you.


When you rent a home, you have a lot more flexibility than a buyer. Your contract typically lasts for one year. If you decide to leave after the contract is over, there's no problem. Feel free to find a new residence with better amenities, or downsize to a more affordable living space if you'd like. Unlike a buyer, you have no obligation to to invest a lot of money in a house that you might outgrow. And if your financial situation changes, you're not trapped in a long-term mortgage.


One of the biggest perks to renting is the lower cost overall. There's no need to squirrel away thousands of dollars for a huge down payment. There's no need to deal with massive real estate taxes. And there's no need to budget for seasonal maintenance and unexpected home repairs. Renting is a much simpler process for those who aren't committed to the sometimes arduous homeowning lifestyle. Additionally, homeowners must deal with the stress of fluctuating property values. When you rent a home, you can focus your attention on other things.

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Why Should I Refinance My Car Loan?

Smiling Young Woman Sitting in a Car

After going through so much effort to secure auto financing, you probably don't want to look at another stack of paperwork for a long time! But, many experts recommend revisiting your plan down the road. Why should I refinance my car loan? Simply put, you could get a much better deal. From lower monthly costs to better interest rates, you might be surprised by the new and improved terms of your auto financing deal if you do a little research. Let's take a look at how to refinance a car loan to reap the most benefits:

What are the Perks of Refinancing?

The biggest benefit of refinancing a car is the potential annual savings that you can achieve. Here are few scenarios where refinancing is a great idea:

  • Lower Interest: Interest rates are not static. They rise and fall due to a number of factors, and even if interest rates have been sky-high for a long time, keep your eyes peeled for the inevitable dip.
  • Dealer-Sourced Loans: Dealership loans tend to have higher markups than other loans, like from a bank or online lender. Take a look at the other lenders to see if you can score a better deal by refinancing.
  • Credit Score Changes: Maybe you bought a car when your credit was not so great, but after managing your money, you managed to move your score up. You might qualify for a better interest rate now, so consider researching your options.
  • Leasing to Buy: If you've fallen in love with your lease, then you might want to buy it when your contract runs out. This can be a good time to renegotiate the terms and score a terrific deal on your car loan.
  • Financial Stress: Sometimes you run into rough patches in life and you need to cut car costs as much as possible. You can refinance your car loan to get a lower payment over a longer period of time, freeing up more monthly cash flow.

What are the Drawbacks of Refinancing?

You know the perks of refinancing a car loan, but before you draw up the new paperwork, when does it make more sense to stick with your current plan instead?

  • Long-Term Loan: Have you been paying off your current loan for years and years? You can get the most benefits from refinancing when you do so earlier in your repayment, so if it's been awhile, you might want to stick with what's working.
  • Refinancing an Old Car: There are tons of benefits of buying used and you can save quite a bit on a pre-owned model, but refinancing is usually not considered worthwhile for the lender when the major depreciation has already occurred.
  • Underwater Finances: If you owe more than the car's value, lenders are less likely to make a deal with you. It's better to regain control on your current loan than to try to negotiate new terms, which might not be favorable.

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Why is Saving Money Important?

Abstract Money Saving

Between daily living expenses and piles of bills, you might feel like your paycheck disappears before your eyes - so why is saving money important? Saving money gives you the freedom to live your life the way you want. Whether you want to upgrade your house or start a new business, you have the power to take control when your financial situation is in good standing. And no matter your current situation, you can learn how to save money strategically to ensure a brighter future. Even a few dollars here and there can really add up over time, and these funds can come in handy when you're strapped for cash. Let's dive into the importance of saving money.

Benefits of Saving

One of the main benefits of saving money is the peace of mind that it brings. A rainy day fund provides protection against life's unexpected obstacles. You can take care of smaller expenses like car troubles and home repairs before they become huge headaches, and you have the freedom to save for bigger expenses like your children's college fund or retirement. Not only will savings set you up for a better financial standing, but better quality of life as well. And saving money isn't just about practicality. While rainy day funds are important, why not start a island getaway fund or a dream car fund? When you learn how to save money, you learn how to take control of your life.

Saving Strategy

Many people complain about financial stress, and when money is tight, it might be difficult to save for tomorrow when you can spend today. That's why it's important to learn how to save money in a way that works for you.

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What is Passive Income?

Social Media Sign

If you're looking for ways to earn some extra cash, developing a stream of passive income is a great idea. But what is passive income - and what can it do for you? Passive income is a way to gain earnings without active participation. While there's no need to clock in or attend meetings to collect your cash, earning passive income isn't as simple as sitting on the couch and getting rich. Find out the top passive income ideas to set yourself up for a bright future!

Market Your Knowledge

Are you an expert with tons of valuable experience? Do you love to create content? Then you might want to consider making an information product. Information products include e-books, online classes, DVDs, and more. These products package your knowledge in an easy-to-digest format, so curious minds can learn from the best. After your product is on the market, you can kick back and enjoy the passive income that results with every sale. However, creating the product can be a challenge. Make sure you put your best face forward and create something you stand by, and buyers will take notice.

Rent Your Space

A spare property can yield quite a bit of money if you're open to renting out the space. From temporary rentals to long-term stays, rental income can be quite lucrative if you're willing to put forth a little effort. This is a particularly effective passive income stream if you live in a tourist-laden area. If you live in a sleepy town, the market might not be there. And while you can earn a tremendous amount of money as a landlord, you could also lose a lot if you run into the wrong tenants.

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Top Causes of Debt

Debt Avalanche

While most people have the best of intentions, debt can happen to the best of us. From simple overspending to financial fiascos, millions of Americans find themselves in debt every year. But there are ways to climb out of that hole and into a brighter future! In this guide, we’ll go over some of the top causes of debt and how to move on from financial stress. You’ll enjoy debt free living in no time with the right research and techniques!

Poor Money Management

You might be surprised how poor money management can eat away at your finances, no matter how much money you earn. One of the top ways to avoid debt is to avoid spending what you can’t afford to lose. That means keeping tabs on your household income, bank statements, credit card statements, and getting those bills under control. When you track the money coming into your life, you know how much extra cash you have to spend on fun stuff – so you won’t get a serious shock when you get the bill for that impromptu shopping spree!

Life Adjustments

Sometimes life throws curveballs at you that are difficult to predict. Unexpected medical expenses, divorce, unemployment, and other drastic life changes can change your household finances tremendously. While there’s no way to truly prepare for these events, we recommend taking inventory of your savings to stay debt-free. If you haven’t started saving for the future, there’s no time to start like the present. Most experts recommend saving six months worth of living expenses, but no amount is too small when you’re just getting started. Keep adding money to your savings to gradually build a nest egg.

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What is a Savings Account?

Money Bag With Dollar Sign

Everyone knows that saving money is important, but not everyone knows how to start planning for the future. That's where your savings account comes in! What is a savings account, and why is it such a great way to build your future fortune? We're here to explain the benefits of savings in simple terms, so you can start collecting interest!

Why Should I Open a Savings Account?

Between checking accounts and retirement funds, you might feel like your paycheck is being split into a million pieces. So, why invest extra money into a savings account? Savings account interest typically pays more than a checking account, which means you get extra bang for your buck. The drawback is that you are limited in the number of transactions that you can perform every month, due to federal regulations. However, this can actually be a good thing for long-term savings. If you are building a rainy day fund, you'll feel less tempted to withdraw money for splurges with your funds in a savings account. And if you're trying to save money for a vacation or a downpayment, you can reach your goal faster from the higher interest accrued.

What is Interest?

When you open your bank account, you start earning interest - but what is it? Interest is the money that the bank gives you as an incentive to keep your money there. This is one way that different banks compete for your business, which is why it's such a good idea to shop around when deciding where to open your account. Additionally, there are two types of interest to consider: simple and compound. Simple interest is paid out based on the money that you originally had in the bank. Compound interest pays based on your original amount plus interest, which means you earn interest on your interest! Compound interest is more common, and also preferable if you want to earn money quickly.

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Budgeting for Your First Home

house model house concept

If you’re taking the plunge into home ownership for the first time, it can be a little scary, especially when it comes to finances. In order to create your first home budget, you’ve got to crunch a few numbers. The important thing is to be realistic and stick with something you can truly afford. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get started!

How Much House Can You Afford?

To come up with your house budget, begin with the 25% rule, which is that your mortgage shouldn’t be more than 25% of your gross income. Simple enough, right? Sticking this rule can be difficult in more expensive areas of the U.S., so you may need to save up for a higher down payment. Also, if you have existing debt, you should add that to your total and make sure it doesn’t represent more than 29% of your gross income because lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio when they’re deciding if you’re a good risk.

What About Other Housing Expenses?

Remember that lenders want to lend you the absolute max that you can afford, but you’re also going to have other things in your housing budget besides the mortgage costs. Be sure you’re estimating the costs of homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees, maintenance costs, and utilities. And don’t forget property taxes! These aren’t exactly hidden costs, but people don’t always realistically estimate them when they’re making their purchase decision.

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How to Avoid Wasting Money

Its Raining Money

Congratulations! You’re about to learn how to avoid wasting money, and it’s going to make a huge impact on your life. There are so many little habits that cause us to spend money on things that aren’t worth it, usually because we’re crunched for time.

Ways to Save Money

Small Stuff:

Little things can add up to big bucks, and they’re some of the biggest ways we waste money. For example, every time you choose to buy an individual bottle or water or soda rather than buying in bulk, you’re paying a major markup. And it’s even worse if you’re buying at a convenience store because prices are much higher than at your local grocery or superstore. Why? Because they can’t command the same pricing from the manufacturers that supermarkets can, and also because you’re paying for how easy it is to run in and out quickly. Speaking of drinks, you can keep the costs of your restaurant bill down simply by choosing water instead of soft drinks, which can add $3 or $4 per person to your check.


Your cable bill and Internet bills are probably quite expensive. It pays to stay on top of what you’re paying for versus what you use. Always try to renegotiate your plan, and consider cutting the cable “cord” so you pay only for what you watch. Your cell phone plan is another biggie. Take the time to review it - are you paying for minutes, data, and features that you don’t even use? Is there a family plan available that will bring your costs down? Moving your newspaper subscriptions to the online version will keep you in the know and save you money at the same time.

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Rent vs. Buy

For Rent Real Estate Sign

Is buying or renting right for you? Many factors go into the choice to rent vs. buy, so it's important to really weigh the pros and cons of each before you fall in love with a home. Let's start with a quiz to determine whether renting vs. buying a home is better for you:

  • Do you have debt? If you do, consider renting. If you don't, homeownership may be in your future.
  • Are you staying in the area for 3 or more years? If not, renting is a better option. If so, buying could be a good choice.
  • Are you financially stable? If you have doubts, then play it safe and wait until you are sure. If you have money saved and income to spare, you might be ready for a house.


Most people rent an apartment or house at some point in life. Whether you've just graduated from college or relocating to a new city, the flexibility of this short-term commitment can be a huge asset. And while some people scoff at the idea of paying a landlord, you'll get plenty in return. There's no need to worry about DIY work if the toilet breaks or the roof leaks. Simply call maintenance to have an expert at your door. However, don't forget about renter's insurance just in case of an emergency!

What are the disadvantages of renting? You might deal with rising rent costs from year to year due to inflation and property value changes. That means higher costs for you without any benefits. Additionally, there are no tax breaks for renters. That can be a huge factor in more established workers, though not as big of an issue for those who are just starting a career. Some people dislike the lack of control in a rented space. You can't make changes to the property, you might have loud neighbors, you might have an undesirable parking situation. There are a lot of things that are beyond your control.

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How to Protect Inheritance from Creditors

Inheritance Court

If you find yourself with a sudden inheritance, you might feel overwhelmed! While this large chunk of change can make a huge impact on your finances, it's important to learn how to protect inheritance from creditors who might try to collect on your sum. Let's say you want to use your funds to finally buy a house, but you're concerned that your past debt will whittle your inheritance down to nothing. What are the rules of inheritance, and how can you use them to your advantage? Let's go through the hypothetical steps.

Check Your Credit

Is your credit score perfect? Less than perfect? Non-existent? Before you jump the gun, it's important to check your credit score to be sure. You might be surprised if you've been expecting the worst. Everyone can check their credit score one time per year for free from each of the following bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. While these records should be up-to-date, unpaid medical debt doesn't appear until it is sent to collections. Keep that in mind if you are wrestling with any costly hospital visits. And be sure to examine your credit report carefully. Even the best businesses make mistakes, so it's crucial to report any inaccurate listings with the bureau to prevent a simple error from costing you the prime credit score that you deserve.

Weighing Your Options

Now that you know your credit score, you are better prepared to make a game plan for the future. If your credit score is in the prime range, you're good to go! Feel free to apply for a mortgage the traditional way and find the house of your dreams. But if your credit score isn't ideal, you have a few options. If your credit score is pretty dire, you might only qualify for high-interest loans that burn through that inheritance quickly. You might find that waiting and improving your credit score can save you money in the long run. If your credit score is merely less than perfect, then you have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Consider consulting a financial advisor and explain that you want to learn how to protect your inheritance the right way.

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How to Handle Your First Credit Card

credit card

Getting your very first credit card is an exciting time of financial independence, but it's important to proceed with caution. We've all heard horror stories of people racking up debt by being a little over enthusiastic with fresh plastic. However, it's easy to make good decisions if you use common sense and do the right research. Find out how to handle your finances like a pro with our first time credit card tips!

Choosing the Best First Time Credit Card

Before you select your plan, it's important to assess all of your options. While there's no definitive best first time credit card, some options will be much better than others for your unique needs. How do you choose the right credit card? Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:

  • Rewards Cards: Rewards cards give you something back when you spend, like cash back or travel miles. Depending on your spending habits, you might enjoy the kickbacks from an incentivized credit card.
  • Low-Interest Card: Don't have much credit to your name? A low-interest credit card has a low APR, which helps you build credit slowly while learning the ropes of good financial planning.
  • Rotating Category Cards: These credit cards feature different cash back options and rewards rates depending on the time of year. You could reap big benefits if you can keep up with the criteria of the month, but if you don't want to plan that much, you might not see the benefits.

Understanding Your Options

You've picked the category, but what do all these terms mean in the fine print? Be sure to take a second glance and scan for the following:

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What is a Co-Signer on a Loan?

Man in a Suit Offers to Sign a Contract

If you have prime credit, then you have a winning ticket toward securing the investments that you need toward a bright future. From auto loans to mortgages, those with prime credit are often rewarded for their smart spending.

But if friends and family have less than perfect credit, you might soon find yourself wondering "What is a co-signer on a loan?" Co-signing a loan allows someone with good credit to help out someone who isn't as financially secure. While this can be a lifesaving gesture to those who are building a new life, co-signing a loan is not without risk. Find out whether or not you should co-sign in our guide to personal finance. Does co-signing a loan affect credit?

What are the Perks of Co-Signing a Loan?

Sometimes good people end up with bad credit. Maybe your spouse is working off college credit card debt, or your son or daughter has no credit history at all. In these cases, you can become a co-signer to a loan in order to look more appealing to lenders. This can help pave the way for your friend or family member to become more independent by securing that car, home, or other investment that they need for a better tomorrow.

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How Does a 401k Work When You Retire?

401k plan

We all know that it's wise to put away money for the future, but not everyone knows what happens after retirement comes. So, how does a 401k work when you retire? The answer isn't so simple. Depending on your age and financial needs, you might spend your retirement funds a little differently than your coworker or neighbor. From qualified distributions to 401k rollovers, we'll let you know all the ins and outs of your 401k retirement plan so you can make the best decisions possible about your future.

Qualified Distributions

Qualified distributions are the most traditional way to withdraw money from your retirement fund, but you have to meet certain criteria to get this penalty-free funding. You must be over the age of 59.5 in order to avoid the 10 percent early withdrawal fee. Depending on your plan, your money may or may not be subject to income taxes. Traditional 401k funding is taxed, while Roth IRA money is not as long - provided you have had the account for at least five years.

Early Withdrawal

Let's say something comes up unexpectedly and you need to dip into your 401k retirement money early. You're free to do so, but you'll have to pay a fee. Before the age of 55, you'll have to pay a 10 percent early withdrawal fee on your money. Between the ages of 55 and 59.5, you may be able to avoid it. However, you can only withdraw money from the 401k from your previous employer. This does not apply to plans from any other employers in the past.

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Co-Signer vs. Co-Borrower Rights

Meeting in a bank

When making a large investment, sometimes it takes a team to get the job done - and that's where the co-signer comes in. What is a co-signer on a loan? A co-signer is someone who agrees to share the responsibility of the financial investment of another party. Maybe a parent will co-sign an auto loan for a son or daughter, maybe a spouse will co-sign a loan for a mortgage. And while most partnerships go off without a hitch, it's important to be aware of your co-signer vs. co-borrower rights to protect yourself from issues down the line. In this guide, we'll go through the pros and cons of co-signing - and what to do if you need to get out of a bad deal!

Getting a Loan on Your Own

When you're seeking a great loan, you need to present yourself as the best candidate possible to get the best deal possible. Let's say you have prime credit. That means your credit score is nearly perfect, which makes you a very desirable candidate for potential lenders. A good credit score indicates that you have a record of paying off past debts promptly, so there's a low risk of lending you the money that you request. Prime credit holders generally have very little issue getting the auto loans, mortgages, and other payments that they seek. But what if you have less than perfect credit? That's where the problem comes in. A lower credit score indicates that you have had a few issues paying off your debts, and lenders will notice. You are seen as a higher risk candidate, so there's a chance that your application will be rejected.

Co-Signing a Loan

If you find yourself outside the prime credit zone, one way to give lenders more confidence is to find a co-signer. A co-signer is someone with a good, established credit history who looks more trustworthy to the lender. Often, co-signers are close family members like parents or spouses, but they can be anyone who is willing to lend a helping hand. However, the co-signer takes on the burden of responsibility if you drop the ball on your payments. Let's say you skip a payment on your auto loan. That means both you and your co-signer are legally responsible for the debts accrued. This can be a huge problem for all parties involved - and why it's so crucial to only co-sign loans for people whom you can trust.

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Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Shopping

Shopping Online

While brick and mortar stores used to reign the retail world, online shopping has become the new king of the industry. From textbooks to clothing to furniture, more and more people are heading online for future purchases. But what are the benefits and drawbacks of online shopping?


Online shopping wouldn't be as popular as it is without tons of perks. Whether you're short or time or searching for some specific, there are tons of benefits of online shopping that any savvy spender can appreciate:

  • Convenience: No need to beat traffic and circle the parking lot of the local shops. You can access thousands of online marketplaces from the comfort of your own home on your laptop or even a smartphone.
  • Variety: While physical stores have limited shelf space to budget, online shops do not. That means you might have different and more interesting choices to explore, like unique features and colors than traditional stores offer.
  • Comparison: If you want to compare prices at different shops, you'll have to make multiple trips. Not so with the online marketplace. Some sites even offer one-click comparison shopping for your convenience.


Shopping online might be a fun experience, but it's not without its share of disadvantages. Here are just a few of the concerns that you may have when shopping online:

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How to Avoid Debt After Bankruptcy


Filing for bankruptcy can be a stressful time. While one chapter may be closing, you might worry about a new set of problems that could affect your financial future. How will this impact your credit score? How will this impact your future investments? And most importantly, how can you avoid getting in the same situation again? In this guide, we'll go through a few strategies to learn how to avoid debt after filing for bankruptcy. With the right planning and knowledge, you can set yourself up for brighter days ahead!

1. Find Out What Went Wrong

It's good to put the past behind you, but when it comes to your finances, it's important to come to terms with what went wrong in the first place. Think of performing a financial autopsy to see what decisions led to filing bankruptcy. What could you have done to prevent it? Maybe you need to learn how to reduce credit card debt, maybe you needed a larger rainy day fund, maybe you need to brush up on your budget. Identifying the key factors that led to bankruptcy can help you find a way to resolve them well before you get in the red.

2. Learn How to Budget

If you want to live within your means, you need to strategize. This means setting a realistic budget - and sticking to it! You'll need to be honest with yourself. Don't punish yourself with a skimpy budget that you'll never keep, but don't forget that you'll need to commit to some compromises. Your top priority is getting bills under control every month. Bills related to your health, safety, and security are the most important. See if you can cut back on non-essentials, like shopping and subscription services. However, don't forget to set a little bit aside for an emergency fund.

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Finance Tips for Married Couples

Credit Cards

Money management is one of the top stressors for married couples, and it's not hard to see why! While monthly bills and old debts are difficult enough to manage as a single person, it's even more daunting to manage as a couple. However, a little financial advice can go a long way. Check out our top finance tips for married couples, and see which strategies you can work into your new life together. You might find that just a few adjustments can have a huge impact on your marriage - and your bank account!

Prioritizing Goals

As you know, communication is essential for a happy and healthy marriage. Financial planning is no different. While some people get uncomfortable when talking about money, setting your priorities with your significant other is crucial when working toward your future goals. Do you aspire to own a house? Do you want to own a business? These are long-term goals that are worth keeping in mind while budgeting. What about short-term goals? Maybe you want to plan a fun vacation together or revamp your kitchen. Set a plan in motion to achieve the life that you want.

Managing Money

One of the most important and most personal decisions is whether or not to combine your money. Some couples prefer to throw all of their money into one account, while others prefer to keep assets separate. Maintaining separate accounts with one joint account is a good compromise that balances the best of both worlds. This allows each individual some financial independence, but also creates a common pool of funds to use collectively for bills and other expenses. However, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of various methods to figure out which will work the best for your particular household.

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What is a Debt Snowball?

Credit Cards

Even though everyone tries to make good financial decisions, sometimes a little debt can spiral out of control. Suddenly, you find yourself with a pile of bills and a whole lot of stress. So what do you do? Create a plan! The debt snowball method is a way of tackling your debt in small and manageable steps, so you can easily make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Let's go into the basics of the debt snowball method, and learn how to get out of debt!

Step 1: Make a List

Before you can pay off all your debts, you need to know exactly who and what you need to pay. Make a list of all your debts in order of smallest to largest. For now, ignore the interest rate and just pay attention to the total amount owed. Here is an example:

  • Credit Card: $1,000
  • Auto Payment: $3,000
  • Student Loans: $10,000
  • Mortgage: $50,000

This list will become your blueprint for debt reduction. From now on, you will pay the minimum payment on every bill on your list - except for the smallest. The smallest bill is your first priority for elimination. That means any spare cash that you encounter will go into paying that bill until it is fully paid off. In this example, you would pay the minimum amounts on your auto payments and student loans. But any money you obtain through a second job, gifts, or budgeting will go toward your $1,000 credit card bill. Once the credit card bill is paid, repeat the process for your auto payment and so forth.

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What is Credit Card Consolidation?

Credit Cards

If you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt and drowning in the chaos of juggling multiple payments and due dates, credit card consolidation might be a good solution for getting you back on track.

How Credit Card Consolidation Works

Just like it sounds, credit card consolidation takes all of your credit card debt and combines it into one lower-interest loan. That means you only have one bill, one monthly payment, and the security of knowing exactly what you owe and what kind of progress you’re making.

Your Options

Balance Transfers

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Can I Have a Credit Limit That’s Too High?

Credit Card

Having a lot of available credit sounds good, right? Well, let’s think about this for a second. Lenders are in the business of making money off the interest you pay, so increasing your amount of available credit is a technique for adding to their profitability. But what’s best for your situation?

What is Available Credit?

Simply put, your available credit is the amount that the bank or lender has agreed to loan you. It’s based on your credit limit minus the balance you owe. Lenders decide how much credit to make available based on your income and credit score, which basically tells them how big of a risk it is to lend to you. They look at several factors, including whether you pay your bills on time and if you’ve ever defaulted on a credit obligation in the past.

Should I Increase My Credit Limit?

Sometimes people try to raise their credit scores by increasing the limits on their credit cards or applying for new ones. That’s fine, but it’s important that you understand your credit utilization ratio and how it affects your credit score. That’s the ratio of how much of your available credit is being used. Yes, increasing your credit limits may help boost your credit rating, but if you max out your available credit, you could actually hurt your score. Remember, more available credit comes with more danger of getting into debt you can’t manage.

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Don’t Fall for These Credit-Building Myths

Credit Building Myths

If you’re concerned about ​how to build credit, don’t fall for these myths for improving your credit score. It’s possible to achieve a good credit score, but don’t waste your time focusing on the wrong things. If you can establish a good track record of consistent payments, along with a diverse mix of the types of credit you have, you can ​build up a good credit score​.

Myth #1: Removing Old Inquiries

Every time you apply for a loan, creditors pull your credit report with a “hard” inquiry. This causes your score to go down because it shows you want more credit and more risk. Other inquiries, like offers you receive in the mail or from potential employers, are considered “soft.” You may have heard that if you have more soft inquiries, it can bump the hard inquiries off, but don’t spend time trying to generate more soft inquiries because this is not a major factor in your credit score.

Myth #2: Closing Old Accounts

Although it seems like closing accounts will help improve your score, it won’t, and it could actually hurt it. Why? Because it could shorten your credit history and reflect a smaller amount of available credit, neither of which helps your cause. You want your credit history to be long, and your utilization rate, or how much available credit you’re using, low.

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Bad Money Habits Just Bring You Down

Bad Financial Habbits

Who really wants to be ​bad with money? Sometimes it just sort of happens, and you wake up one day in a difficult situation. If you can swap the bad money habits that creep into our lives for positive habits​, and start making ​good financial decisions​, you’ll be happier and less stressed out.

Living Without a Budget

The idea of a budget hurts, but it’s key for understanding how much money is coming in, what you can spend, and more importantly, what’s left over for saving and investing. Between all the apps and spreadsheets out there, it’s easy to plug in some basic information and start tracking. Weekly and daily updates will help keep you from spending out of control, which will help you avoid the next bad money habit.

Living Beyond Your Means

Overspending is one of the biggest challenges facing people today, with our consumption-driven economy and the fact that we hardly ever pay with cash. If you’re charging basic necessities, running up credit card balances, and borrowing money, you’re clearly spending more than you have. Allocating dollar amounts and holding yourself accountable is the way to do it. And, if you prefer to pay with plastic, use a debit card or pay your credit card off in full each month.

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Smart Short-Term Investments

Short Term Investments

Short-term investments offer you the opportunity to grow your money, while protecting it, too, since you’ll probably want to access it within the next five years. This means contemplating very different vehicles than when you’re investing for retirement and other long-range goals because you don’t have as much time to ride out any market lows. It’s normal to feel intimidated by all the choices out there, and maybe you don’t feel like you have the ​financial skills​ you need for making ​decisions​. Consider these ideas for smart short-term investments that have growth potential, combined with safety and stability. They’ll help you avoid ​investing mistakes​.

Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts are similar to regular savings accounts, and they’re FDIC-insured. When you open this kind of account, you’re investing in the market for short-term debt, so you earn higher interest than a standard savings account. Money market accounts give you easy access to your funds, often via debit cards and checks. Minimum required investments can be in the thousands of dollars, but shop around because there are accounts available with much lower minimum deposits.

High-Yield Savings Accounts

High-yield savings accounts may be available at your local bank or credit union. With rates of one percent or higher, high-yield savings accounts blow away the interest rates on traditional savings accounts, especially the ones offered by online banking institutions. Like money market accounts, they also offer easy access to your funds and are FDIC-insured. The good news is the minimum deposit requirements are not high. The bad news is that the interest rates are still quite low.

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How to Save Money on Car Insurance

happy woman saved on car insurance

Life is just expensive, and auto payments and insurance are one of the biggest monthly costs people have outside of housing. Wondering ​how to save money on car insurance? Here are some tips that can help cut your bill:

Go Shopping

Prices can vary dramatically from company to company, so get several quotes. It’s easy to do online and with a few phone calls. Some state insurance departments publish price guidelines, which is helpful for comparing to see if you’re getting legitimate quotes.

Weigh Your Options

The reason you have insurance is to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Medical bills and legal fees can be astronomical, so consider how much coverage you need carefully. It’s more important to have enough coverage than it is to carry a low deductible, which is more costly. Tweak your quotes to see how much coverage you can get, while at the same time raising your deductible.

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Preventing Credit Card Fraud

Credit Cards

You've heard stories of financial catastrophe in the news, so how can you prevent credit card fraud from affecting you? A little prevention and research can go a long way toward your safety. By protecting your sensitive information and maintaining good habits, you can thwart potential criminals from escaping with your hard-earned cash. But first, let's dive into some of the most common methods of credit card fraud that every consumer should know for savvy spending.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is an international problem, and the United States experiences the third highest rates of fraud in the entire world! In fact, almost 30 percent of consumers have dealt with this agonizing problem within the last five years. What are the types of fraud that you may encounter?

  • Phone or Mail Order: This fraud occurs when you make purchases through either the telephone or through mail order catalogs.
  • Online Shopping: Your credit card details may be stolen while making purchases online in an insecure environment or fraudulent site.
  • Online Banking: False links through email, text messages, or malware can steal your bank account information.
  • Face-to-Face: Your card or PIN number may be stolen and used in a physical store.

Fraud Techniques

As you can see, there are tons of different avenues that thieves use to steal your credit card information. But there are a wide variety of techniques they can use to complicate matters even more.

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How to Use Graduation Money Wisely

Credit Cards

When you have graduation money in the bank, it may be tempting to head on a shopping spree. And while every graduate deserves something special for completing such an important goal, we encourage you to think ahead! From college savings to dorm decor, you can put yourself in a great position for the future if you use that graduation money wisely.


Dropping your graduation money into a savings account may not be the most exciting option in the present, but this smart decision can be a major asset for the future. Consider stashing a portion of your grad cash into a savings account as a small nest egg for the future. You can use that money to cushion the blow if you run into financial mishaps, like unexpected car expenses or tuition hikes. Even a small rainy day fund can prevent major headaches in the future!

School Supplies

If you're college-bound, consider diverting some of that graduation money into your freshman year school supply fund. Get a head start on the crowd by looking for your books early. Used copies sell out fast, and you can save a lot of money by securing your reading list early. You might also think about upgrading your computer before you head out to college. Look for fast, dependable, and portable models over the latest fads. You'll spend countless hours behind that computer screen, so be sure to get one that you can count on.

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Types of Credit Cards: Which One is Right For You?

Credit Cards

There are many different types of credit cards out there. Which one should you choose? You never want to leave money on the table, and it’s easy to be swayed by the idea of airline points, cash back, or a free balance transfer. Take the time to understand the fine print and pick the one that’s best for what you need.

Travel and Airline Credit Cards

These are ideal for consumers who travel frequently. Narrow down the ones you’re looking at to the airlines you like to fly and where they travel, and then compare how points are earned, how many you need for a ticket, interest rates, and annual fees.

0% APR Credit Cards

If you’re in a situation where you need to make a large charge that you can’t pay off right away, a 0% APR credit card might be a good solution for you. These types of cards save money in finance charges because they offer zero percent interest for an introductory period.

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Jobs for Retirees to Earn Extra Cash

Job for retirees

If you’re retired or still in the planning stages, you may want to consider a part-time job to earn some extra cash, especially if you’re behind the eight ball in savings. There are plenty of jobs for retirees out there, and they come with more than financial benefits - they’re an outstanding way to keep your mind sharp and develop new relationships.

What Will Work For You?

Before you just go out and get a part-time job, think about your retirement situation and what you want out of it. Have you saved enough money? How many hours do you want to work per week? How much money do you want to make? What kind of responsibility level are you looking for? The more you can define this, the better. You want to look at the right types of positions, and there are a lot of options out there to choose from:

Full-time to Part-time

Sometimes companies don’t want to lose all the valuable knowledge and experience that a long-time employee has, and they’re willing to offer you a part-time or contract version of your old position.

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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Planning for retirement and investing wisely are goals most of us have, but where do you begin? Hiring a financial advisor is a smart first step. They’re trained to educate you and help you make the right decisions for your situation. But finding one you can trust isn’t necessarily easy. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider these important questions:

Who are They?

How did you hear about this financial advisor? Were you referred by someone you respect? Be wary of turning your funds over to someone you connected with through an Internet ad or telemarketing.

What’s Their Story?

Research your potential financial advisor on the Internet and LinkedIn. Where did they go to college? What’s their professional experience? Do you know any of their clients? Are they satisfied? How do they describe their services? Are they conservative, or are they promising astronomical results?

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Financial Advice to Avoid

Thief robbing dollars

You’re probably used to reading articles that give you tips and financial guidance, but here’s a new take on it all: financial advice to avoid. Well-meaning friends and relatives often give unsolicited input on how you should spend or invest your money, and it’s not always something you should follow. Here are some instances where you should walk, or maybe even run, away!

Hot Stock Tips

While someone may believe they have a hot tip to share, no one knows for sure whether a stock is going to go up in the short term. Even if the tipster has invested in it, do your own due diligence, and realize you’re probably not going to make money buying and selling stocks quickly. Stocks are more for the long view and your own personal investment plan.

Spec Ventures

Speculative ventures are just what they sound like: risky, unsubstantiated deals. Even if you see a business plan, there’s absolutely no assurance that the venture will succeed. Some startups or spec projects will prosper, but if you choose to get involved, make sure you go into it with your eyes open. If you’re going to invest in a spec project, it’s best to do it with money you can afford to lose - one of many investing mistakes to avoid.

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Gain the Skills You Need for Financial Success

Financial Success

Thinking about finances can be intimidating. Maybe financial success seems out of reach to you, or you don’t think of yourself as a math person. Never fear. You probably already have some of the qualities you need to get control of your financial world, and if you don’t, you can learn and start implementing them in your day-to-day life.


This is the #1 thing that can help you stay on top of things and plan for the future. Paying your bills late hikes up your expenses with fees and penalties and can add major stress to your life. Make a commitment to yourself to organize your bills, whether they arrive in the mail or via text or email. If you have a hard time remembering to pay bills, simply use an app to remind you or add alerts to your calendar. Online banking software can consolidate bills and deadlines and make your life easier.


Spending with discipline is probably even harder than staying organized. It takes a lot of willpower to stick to a budget. But self-control encompasses even more than that: if you can understand how you relate to money and finances psychologically, than you can use coping strategies to help keep your behavior in check. Did you grow up poor? You might be a compulsive spender as an adult. Do you buy things and never take the price tags off? It might be a good idea to disable your password or one-click ordering capabilities. Take a hard look at what habits might be keeping you from working toward your long-term goals. Work extras into your budget so you don’t feel too restricted.

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How to Make Good Financial Decisions

Light bulb and brain

Choices. Decisions. We’re faced with them every day, especially when it comes to money. Most people struggle with how to make good financial decisions, and while some of us may begin with more advantages than others, our financial journey depends on what kind of decisions we make.


Stop and think. That’s some of the best free advice you’ll ever get. You might be mulling over purchasing a new home, or just throwing something into your grocery cart, but you should always be thinking. Do I really need that? What are the pros and cons here? What’s the upside? What’s the worst thing that can happen as a result of my decision? There are many psychological elements that affect the way we make financial decisions, and they include aspirations, social status, and confusing wants with needs.

Live in the Past

If you feel like you can never get ahead, maybe it’s because as your income increases, you simply spend more, so it never feels any different. Try living like you used to a few years ago. Don’t trade up to a new car just because you want to. If you get a raise, funnel the increase directly into savings or an investment account. If you want to splurge, stop and think about whether you could have afforded it last year and if you think you could afford it next year. Do you need it, or do you just want it? It just comes down to something you probably already know: if you spend everything you make, it doesn’t matter how much you make!

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Financial Help for Veterans

Financial Help for Veterans

Before you make any big financial moves, wait! Did you know that there are many opportunities for financial help for veterans? Whether you're applying for a home loan or entering college, you might be surprised to learn just how many benefits you can explore as someone who has served our country. In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the most important benefits - and where you can go to research other financial opportunities for the future!

Researching Veteran Benefits

Did you know that nearly 60 percent of veterans don't know what benefits they have earned? While anyone can get quick financial help with resources like cash advances and loans, veterans are entitled to many unique benefits that are worth investigating. Luckily, it's easy to find the financial help that you deserve. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs provides a comprehensive list of veteran benefits, from loans to medical assistance, so you can find the information that you need quickly. This website is a great place to conduct research, while also learning everything you need to apply for each application. Not only can you find information for yourself, but the website also includes a section on how to help homeless veterans in need.


Veterans may be eligible for a number of tax benefits that you might not expect, so a little research may pay off in a big way.

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Combining Finances after Marriage

Combining Finances after Marriage

While managing finances as an individual can be challenging enough, adding another person into the mix can make things even more confusing. However, combining finances after marriage has plenty of advantages if you think strategically. Communication and planning are key measures to ensuring a solid financial future for both of you, and the first step is to do your research. Check out our guide below, and learn how to combine your finances in a way that works well for both of you.

Pros and Cons

Combining finances after marriage can be complicated. Instead of dealing with one set of investments and debts, now you have two sets to handle. This can be a good and bad thing. If one partner has a great deal of credit card debt, for example, the responsibility is now on both partners in the relationship. However, merging assets can also be a benefit. Maybe one partner is a perpetual saver and the other is a pro at managing credit. You can figure out ways to use each others' strengths in a way that lifts you both up.

When to Start Planning

If you're in the middle of planning your wedding, financial planning may not be on the forefront of your mind. But, many couples start the process long before the big day. It's important to sit down to talk about financial concerns - especially for engaged, married, and cohabiting couples. The more you know about your money situation, the better off you'll be.

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Learn Tips and Tricks for Cutting Car Costs

Cutting Car Costs

Auto expenses make up a huge percent of your annual budget. In fact, some experts estimate that car costs take up 15 percent of the average American's yearly spending! That's why it's so crucial to learn the best practices for cutting car costs. Between maintenance fees and gas prices, you can really save a bundle if you know how to scrimp!

Efficient Driving

Do you know how to get the most out of every drop of that fuel tank? Improving your driving efficiency can have a big impact on your fuel economy over time. Try a few of these mileage-boosting tips:

  • The lighter your car, the better your fuel economy. Streamline your vehicle by cleaning up the trunk and cabin.
  • Change your oil regularly to ensure that your engine works at peak efficiency.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the right pressure, so your car doesn't have to work as hard during the commute.
  • Roll your windows up on the highway to cut down on drag, but feel free to roll down the window and turn off the air conditioner to save fuel in the city.


When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? You may find that your needs have changed over time. If you've downgraded your luxury vehicle to an older sedan, do you still need the most expensive collision insurance? Speak with your agent about your options. Also, many insurers offer discounts periodically. Don't miss out on a chance to save some cash!

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How to Read a Credit Report

Credit Report

Whether applying for a mortgage or securing that dream car, it's critical to know your credit score to stay on top of your finances. But when you get that consumer credit report in your hands, how do you decipher all of the charts and graphs in a way that you can actually use? In this guide, we'll explain how to read a credit report and how to interpret your results. This knowledge can help you correct any errors you encounter and build your credit for the future. Let's get started!

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a summary of your debt payment history over time, including everything from loans to credit card debt. This document is most commonly used by potential lenders as a way to assess your financial standing, so they can determine whether or not you are a strong candidate for assistance. When you apply for a credit card or a mortgage, your overall credit score can determine the success or failure of your application package. Your credit report can also influence your interest rate, as candidates with higher credit scores tend to get the better deals.

Why Should I Check my Credit Report?

Checking your credit report may seem intimidating, but it's actually a very important task. When you check your credit score annually, you can spot errors and dispute them before they affect your credit score. This includes issues ranging from fraudulent charges to identity theft. Plus, you can get a better sense of your finances in the present. If that credit card debt or loan is crashing your credit score, it's better to know as soon as possible. The faster you can resolve these issues, the better your financial future will be.

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How to Choose a Bank


Are you opening your first bank account or changing banks because you’re moving or dissatisfied with your service? Do the different financial institutions and products seem confusing and overwhelming? We’ll break down how to choose a bank that will be best for your situation, so you can evaluate all your options and make the best choice for you. Have no fear, it’s not as hard as it looks!

Bank or Credit Union?

Commercial banks are for-profit institutions that offer services that will maximize profits for shareholders. Online banks are similar, but they have fewer physical locations, employees, and capital expenses, so they’re able to keep their costs and customer fees down. Credit unions are nonprofit organizations owned by their members, so they are sometimes able to offer cost advantages as a result.

Banking Products

Basic products include checking accounts and interest-bearing savings accounts. A checking account allows you to get cash, write checks, and pay with a debit card, and it can accept physical deposits and direct deposits. Savings accounts are designed for deposits, and are less accessible for withdrawing money. Key distinctions include:

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Ready for Your New Baby Tax Breaks?

A baby with her mother

Having a baby puts you on the hook for years of expenses, but the good news is that several new baby tax breaks are coming your way! Be sure to explore everything that’s available to you and take advantage of whatever you can. Here’s the lowdown:

Child Tax Credit

You’ll receive a $1,000 child tax credit the year your baby is born, and you’re eligible for this credit every year until the child turns 17. The credit is subject to income restrictions, and it starts phasing out at $75,000 for single and head of household filers and $110,000 for joint filers.

Child Care Credit

The IRS offers a child care credit to help offset the expenses, and it ranges from $600 to $1,050. In order to qualify, you must pay for child care in order to work and earn taxable income. If you’re paying for more than one child under 13, the credit doubles to between $1,200 and $2,100. What you’ll have to pay is based on your income and how much your child care costs, but you can claim up to $3,000 in child care expenses for one child and $6,000 for two or more.

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The High Cost of Divorce

Credit Score Sign

Getting divorced is very expensive, and it has a ripple effect on your finances that can last a long, long time. The cost of divorce includes everything from the actual filing of paperwork and attorney fees to the way assets are divided. The more amicable you can keep the proceedings, the less it will cost you.

The Cheapest Option

If you represent yourself in your divorce, you’re responsible for filing all the legal forms and pay for only the filing fees and court costs. You can do this when the divorce is uncontested, and both spouses are willing to settle. This is called pro se litigation divorce, and as long as you and your spouse agree on the specifics ahead of time, it’s just a matter of the judge signing the documents. This method is the simplest and cheapest way to handle a divorce.

Use a Mediator

If you’re not comfortable representing yourself or have disagreements to iron out, mediation is a good option. As an objective third party, the mediator can help negotiate your issues and reach a settlement that’s agreeable to both of you. Mediation is not nearly as expensive as hiring attorneys, and it’s a good way for couples to iron out problems fairly and without a long, protracted court battle.

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What is Prime Credit?

Credit Score Sign

Credit terminology can seem confusing. Super-prime. Prime. What is prime credit anyway? As you might be able to guess by its name, prime credit is a good thing, and it’s a goal to shoot for when it comes to establishing and maintaining your credit score. Educate yourself on prime credit, so you’re ready to take advantage of the right borrowing opportunities.

Definition of Prime Credit

Simply put, prime credit means your credit score falls within a range that’s attractive to lenders and creditors. They want to lend to borrowers with prime credit because they can be reasonably sure you’re going to pay it back. While it’s not as high of a category as super prime, people with prime credit are low-risk. Each credit bureau has its own definition of prime credit, which can range from as low as 150 and as high as 950, and includes the very high-end super-prime category.

Prime Credit Ratings

  • Equifax 280-850
  • Experian 330-830
  • TransUnion 150-950

Benefits of Having Prime Credit

Because of the reduced risk that comes from lending to people with better credit, credit card companies and other lenders offer some of their most competitive interest rates and terms when you have a prime credit rating. Now, borrowers with super-prime credit will still pay a lower interest rate because they’re an even lower risk, but a prime credit rating will allow you to access loans and lines of credit, even in a more competitive market.

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How to Lower Moving Costs

big truck

Moving is the worst, right? And it’s not cheap, either. If you’re planning to move soon, check out these tips for how to lower moving costs. Moving is a hassle, but at least you can save some money in the process!

Get Organized

Start with a super-organized game plan. Assign tasks to dates and allow reasonable time to get stuff done. This makes moving less stressful and helps keep your expenses low. Plan ahead of time for cash flow, and find resources for getting cash if you need it.

Don’t Move When Everyone Else Does

Schedule a move date during a non-peak period if you can. Everyone moves on the first and last days of the month and in the summer. Weekends and holidays are popular, too, so try do move mid-week if possible. These strategies will help you avoid paying premium rates.

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Cost-Cutting Tips for Freelancers


If you do freelance work, you already know that being self-employed gives you incredible flexibility and freedom, but you’ve got to operate like a well-oiled machine if you want to be successful. You’re running your own business, so use these cost-cutting tips to keep expenses low and your profits healthy.

Free is Key

The beauty of freelancing is that you don’t need an office. Working from home, the coffee shop, the park, or the library - they’re all options for you. Find free wi-fi and a good cell, and you’re all set. Every dollar that goes out is one less dollar that stays in your pocket as profit. This is the mindset you need to have all the time when you work for yourself.

Start Tracking

Unless you’re a freelance accountant, you probably try to spend as little time on financials as possible. But this is the lifeblood of your business, so you need a system that will help you track expenses, invoicing, and receivables. It’s easy to waste money, especially if it’s going out in small amounts. Get a grip on how much you really spend, and it’ll be easy to identify costs that aren’t worth it.

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Finance Tips for Millennials


Millennials approach life very differently than generations before them. And while that’s true of every young, up-and-coming generation, finance tips for millennials have changed dramatically compared to only a few years ago because of how they want to live their lives. Sometimes they get a bad rap, but new ways of solving problems are always a good thing.

Prioritize Your Life

Saving for retirement is not the goal for many millennials. It’s way off in the future, pensions are a pipe dream of the past, and there’s disillusionment in the air about what will be waiting after 50 or 60 years of hard work. Millennials want to enjoy life now, and they like the good life. But that doesn’t mean they’re financially irresponsible. You need money to accomplish these goals, and millennials are finding alternative ways to fund a lifestyle of fun and travel.

Create Passive Income

The idea of your money making money or earning money without much effort isn’t new. That’s why investing in the stock market or real estate has always had appeal. But the reality for most people is that they pick up extra work or side hustles when they need cash. That helps, but you’re limited by your time and skills. Millennials are finding new ways to create passive income streams.

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Can You Refinance Student Loans When You’re Self-Employed?

Savings Finances Economy

Freedom, flexibility, and control are some of the biggest reasons people to choose to work for themselves. But if you’re self-employed, how does it affect approval if you want to refinance your student loans? Good question. You can do it, but it’s not always easy.

Unpredictable Income

One of the hardest things to get used to when you work for yourself is fluctuating income. It’s the perfect time to reduce your student loan payments or pay off your debt more quickly by refinancing. The problem is that it’s not always easy to find a lender who works with self-employed individuals. That’s why short-term loans are so common with entrepreneurs.

Understand the Process

Be sure you understand your loan situation. Refinancing may or may not be a good idea. Federal student loans have some unique benefits attached, like special income-driven repayment plans, so you could lose out on those by refinancing with a private lender. You should also know that many don’t work with self-employed clients.

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Investing Mistakes to Avoid

Savings Finances Economy

The key to building wealth is to follow a strategy and avoid making investment mistakes wherever you can. You may not think of yourself as rich, but putting your money to work for you is the secret to amassing the wealth and savings you’ve only dreamed about. If you can avoid these mistakes and misconceptions, you’ll be well on your way:

Not Saving Money

While investing is a surefire way to increase your wealth, it’s also vital to have a savings strategy that not only puts money aside for your investment accounts, but provides a cash flow cushion. If you consciously save a set amount each month, that means you’re on top of your expenditures and budget, and that’s a good place to be. Your goal is to avoid the stress of credit card debt while putting money away for investing at the same time.

Maintaining Social Media Status

With people constantly oversharing their latest luxury purchases and grand vacations on social media, it’s easy to want to keep up. If you develop the habit of buying certain brands, spending more than you can afford, and acting like you have more money than you actually do, it will wreak havoc on your budget and cripple your investment ability. Don’t compare your results to anyone except yourself.

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How to Organize Your Wallet

Man With a Wallet

Let’s talk about how to organize your wallet. What does yours look like? Is it bulging with receipts and scraps? Does it need a little TLC? These questions are designed to get you thinking. Your wallet is an excellent metaphor for the way you handle your personal finances and an expression of your respect for money. Let’s get down to business and get it organized, so you can take a renewed approach to the way you control and spend your cash.

Empty Your Wallet

Open up your wallet, and pull everything out. Chances are, it’s pretty dirty and filled with things you no longer need. If you need a new wallet, now’s the time to replace it with something fresh and new. As for what was inside, file any receipts you might need to save, such as medical or business expenses. Cut up any credit cards that you don’t truly need. Trash anything that’s out of date, like expired identification cards or business cards you don’t want.

Categorize Your Stuff

Next, group your items so you can find them easily. Put credit cards together, cash sorted by denomination and facing the same direction, and gift cards in one place. Medical insurance cards, business cards, library cards, and other things like that can go in a separate area so they don’t get mixed up. Create a designated place to hold business receipts to be expensed, if those are something you need to track.

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What is a CPA?

Certified Public Accountant

If you’ve heard of a CPA, you probably know it means some type of accountant. But what is a CPA, really? Why is it an important distinction from your average accountant at the office? Let’s take a look at who CPAs are and what they do.

Certified Public Accountants

CPAs, or Certified Public Accountants, are more than just traditional accountants. They exist to help businesses of all sizes grow and flourish. CPAs are knowledgeable in all aspects of business finance, so they can help with everything from analysis and financial statements, to complicated forensic accounting and tax planning. Between their education, credentials, and experience, they’re qualified to do a lot more than run reports and balance checking accounts.

CPA Requirements

It’s not easy to become a CPA. Besides a college degree in accounting, they have the real-world business and financial experience it takes to put concepts to work. In order to get a CPA certification, candidates must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is an exhaustive test managed by the American Institute of CPAs. Believe it or not, it’s been around since 1896! The exam includes multiple choice questions, written communication tasks, and simulations of real scenarios on a variety of subjects. Needless to say, it’s highly challenging. The average passing rate in 2015 was a little less than 50%, so it’s a grueling undertaking. The CPA exam takes a lot of preparation, along with the experience and mindset that’s needed to be able to perform in the field. The last step in becoming a CPA is to get licensed by the Boards of Accountancy for the particular geographic location.

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Pick the Right Tax Preparer

Couple With Tax Preparer

Ever-changing tax laws and confusing deductions are just two reasons why you need to pick the right tax preparer. If a professional is involved, you can feel more confident that you’re doing it right and you won’t face an audit anytime soon.

Where to Begin?

Before you just go with your friend’s accountant, consider your options and know this: you’re legally responsible for every piece of information on your tax return, no matter who completes the paperwork. You need to feel 100% comfortable with providing your personal information, financial data, and social security number.

Find a Qualified Professional

  • Certified Public Accountants - A CPA is an accounting professional who has met licensing criteria and passed a professional qualifying exam for your state. CPAs are allowed to represent you in the event of an IRS audit or other conflict. Questions to ask: Do you prepare individual returns? Do you take continuing education classes? What are your fees?
  • Tax Attorneys - If you’re in a unique situation, such as a tax dispute, audit scenario, or need a complex tax shelter, then a tax attorney is the right resource for you. However, this is an expensive option. Questions to ask: What is your specialty? How much do you charge?
  • Enrolled Agents - An EA has passed an exhaustive exam and received a license from the IRS. Although an EA is less expensive than a CPA, be certain the specialty is in the area you need. Questions to ask: What is your focus? What are your tax preparation fees?
  • Voluntary Annual Filing Season Tax Preparers - The IRS allows people to get certified for tax preparation by completing a specified curriculum. Questions to ask: What’s your experience? Do you have references? How much do you charge?
  • PTIN Holders - Some tax preparers don’t maintain a professional license or participate in the Annual Filing Season Program, but they have an active preparer tax identification number through the IRS. As long as this number is active, it’s legal for them to prepare tax returns. Questions to ask: What is your tax preparation background? How long have you been in business? What fees do you charge?

The Internet is Your Friend

Once you’ve identified a potential tax preparer, use online resources like the IRS’s website, your state’s Bar Association, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to make sure your provider is listed and doesn’t have any disciplinary actions or license issues.

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Surprising Tax Deductions

Goverment Taxes Payday

It’s that time of year again - tax time! These surprising tax deductions can help reduce your taxable income and cut your bill to the IRS. If you’re savvy about your taxes, you can save money and avoid cash flow issues.

Family Expenditures

  • Health Insurance - If you’re self-employed and buy your own private health insurance, you’ve noticed the skyrocketing premiums. You can deduct up to 100% of these costs off of your total gross income, and, if your medical expenses add up to more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, you can itemize those, too.
  • Sales Tax - Did you know you have the option of deducting either sales taxes or state income taxes from your federal income tax? So, if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that doesn’t have its own income tax, you can itemize sales tax as a deduction.
  • Babysitters - If your babysitter is working while you volunteer for a known charity, you can list the cost as a charitable contribution.
  • Charity - Speaking of charities, you may be able to itemize out-of-pocket expenses related to any charity work, like food and drinks served at a fundraiser, in addition to money or goods donated.
  • Education - The Lifetime Learning credit offers deductions of up to $2,000 per year on education expenses after high school. There are specific requirements based on income level, but it’s open to people of all ages.

Work-Related Expenditures

  • Social Security - If you’re self-employed, you already know you have to pay 15.3 percent of your income to the U.S. Government for social security and medicare taxes. The good news is you can deduct 7.65 percent off your income taxes, the amount typically covered by an employer.
  • Business Expenses - All business expenses, no matter how off the wall, can be deducted from your business income as long as you can document how they benefit your company. So make sure you account for every single business expense you make.
  • Teaching Expenses - It’s a well-known fact that teachers spend a lot of their own money on classroom supplies. If you’re a K-12 teacher, you can deduct up to $250 from your income for expenditures on materials.
  • Job Search - Finding a job can get expensive, between the cost of printing resumes, posting on job search websites, and driving to interviews. If you lose your job and are looking for one in the same field, you can deduct any expenses over 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

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Learn the Latest Tax Scams to Avoid

Thief Robbing US Dollars

Even if you've heard about tax scams of the past, you may want to pay attention to the latest tax scams to avoid. Scammers constantly come up with brand new ways to part you and your hard-earned dollar, but just a little research can keep you from making a costly mistake. Learn the current tax scams to avoid, and spread the word!

Telephone Scams

If you receive a phone call from an angry IRS agent, what should you do? Remain calm, and be skeptical. Many scammers have found ways to manipulate caller ID services, so the call appears to come from an IRS office. They threaten the caller with arrest or deportation, adding insults and hostility for maximum emotional effect. Some scammers even use video relay services (VRS) to take advantage of the deaf and hard of hearing. This unprofessional behavior is not protocol for the IRS, and you should not give out your personal information over the phone.

Email and Malware

While there are many legitimate tax services online, it's important to do your research to avoid a scam. Here are just a few of the common online tax scams to avoid:

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Learn How to Pay Off Holiday Debt

Young Family Having Debts

The holidays are times of great joy, but what happens after the festivities are over? You may find yourself staring at your credit card bill while wondering just what happened. Luckily, it's not hard to figure out how to pay off holiday debt. We'll walk you through some of the most effective strategies to eliminate your debt, so you can start the new year with a plan for success.

Smart Budgeting

When debt is looming, it's time to budget! Nowadays, it's easier than ever to budget effectively. Of course, you can always try the tried-and-true paper and pencil method. Write out all of your monthly expenses, write out your monthly income, and look for places to cut. But, you can also try free budgeting apps to manage your money with just a click. You might find that you just need to cut luxuries like take-out or shopping trips for a few months, but you may need to make other adjustments to pay off holiday debt faster. Consider canceling some recurring monthly subscriptions to free up extra space in the budget.

The Snowball Method

Have you heard of the snowball method? This strategy was created by financial expert, Dave Ramsay, to help defeat multiple debts. First, write out all the holiday debts that you need to pay off in order from smallest to largest. This is your list of attack. Pay off your smallest debt completely, and then move onto the next one on the list. This allows you to get the manageable debts out of the way before moving onto the more intimidating sums. Combined with smart budgeting, this can be a great way to systematically pay off multiple debts.

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What is a CD, or a Certificate of Deposit?

Deposit Calculations

You've probably heard of Certificates of Deposit at your local bank, but just what is a CD? Like a savings account, CDs act as a place to store your money while earning interest. But unlike savings accounts, CDs typically have a higher interest rate. So what's the catch? You must leave your money in the CD for a set period of time. In this guide, we'll go over the benefits and drawbacks of Certificates of Deposit, so you can plan your finances wisely!

CDs vs. Savings

While most people have a simple savings account, not everyone has a Certificate of Deposit. Both are fairly simple to open, so what are the main differences between the two?

  • A CD typically has a term length of a few months to a few years. After the CD matures, you can cash out. A savings account can be stored indefinitely.
  • You can withdraw your money from your savings account whenever you'd like, but your money stays in the CD until the term length has been reached.
  • While both savings account and CDs will accrue interest over time, a CD is usually a higher-interest option.

Why Choose a Savings Account?

If you prefer to have very fluid funds, then the savings account is probably the better option. Withdraw your money from a CD prematurely, and you'll face a penalty. Savings accounts may generate far less interest, but they are much more forgiving. You can easily withdraw the money you need for an unexpected emergency, for example.

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Discover Our Top Five Financial New Year's Resolutions for 2018

Our Top Five Financial New Year's Resolutions for 2018

The start of a brand new year is a fresh start for everyone, so why not use this opportunity to get your finances in check? Take a look at our top five financial New Year's resolutions to help you find success in 2018. From setting goals to reducing debt, these small habits and simple strategies can lead to big payoffs in your life. Start planning today!

1. Create Clear Goals

Sure, everyone wants to be rich and successful - but what does that mean to you? Do you want to clear your student debts as soon as possible, or are you trying to grow your portfolio? Think about your dreams for both the short-term and long-term. Write them down in a notebook, and come up with a plan to achieve them. Maybe you want to pay off your student debt by the end of the year, or maybe you want to build your retirement account by $6,000 in the next 12 months. Setting clear goals is the first step toward success.

2. Organize Your Accounts

What kind of saver are you? Do you keep your money in one place, or is it scattered across multiple banks and accounts? It may be time to do a little financial housekeeping.

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Understand the Process: Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home


Buying a house that’s in foreclosure sounds great, right? It can save you big money, but it’s not an easy process. These tips for buying a foreclosed home will help you understand what you’re in for.

A Different Deal

In a typical home sale, there are usually two different agents involved, with an inspection process and negotiations. Pretty standard. With a foreclosure, you only interact with one real estate agent, and because the house is bank-owned, you don’t have any real negotiating power. It’s an as-is sale, which means no inspection, and you’ll have to pay for repairs.

Get Pre-Approved

Foreclosures usually have many competing offers, so if you want to get in on the action, getting pre-approved is the first step you should take. Before you even start looking, have a lender write a letter that clearly states how much money you’re approved to borrow. There’s no time to do this when the offers start coming in.

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Realistic Last-Minute Retirement Planning Strategies

Pig Bank

If you haven’t been able to consistently save for retirement and now it’s looming closer, here are some realistic last-minute retirement planning ideas for you:

Start Saving Now

Saving when you’re young is so important because of the power of compounding interest. If you haven’t been able to consistently save 15% of your income throughout your career, then you need to save at a higher rate, starting now. Good news! The IRS allows people over age 50 to contribute more toward IRAs and 401(k)s. For the 2017 tax year, you can max out your IRA contributions at $6,500 and 401(k) contributions at $24,000. $7,000 a year more than younger workers!

Cut Your Costs

If you can make some changes to your lifestyle spending, that can have a great impact on how long your savings will last. For example: If your cost of living is $80,000 a year and you have $400,000 in the bank, then you have enough savings to last about five years. If you could slash your spending by 50%, then your savings would last you ten years. And, it would be earning interest for longer.

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Estate Planning Basics: Everyone Needs a Plan

A will

Wills and estate planning are not just for rich people. Everyone needs a strategy for what will happen to the financial assets you leave behind, no matter how much or little you have. Try these estate planning basics:

What is an Estate Plan?

The term “estate” is referring to whatever you own that has value – your home, cars, jewelry, investments, etc. When you pass away, those items will be given away, and an estate plan ensures that it happens the way you would want it to by defining what assets you have, how they’re protected, and how they’ll be distributed.


The first, and most important, document you need in your estate plan is a will, so your intentions are clearly stated regarding the disposition of your property. They’re not difficult or expensive to create. The important elements include:

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4 Life-Changing Personal Finance Tips

Light Bulb And Brain

You’ve probably gotten a lot of advice about money, and maybe you’ve even taken some of it. If you’re really ready to get control of your financial life, then it’s time to take a look at these personal finance tips:

Take a Financial Snapshot

Your first step is to take a good hard look at where you are today financially.

  • What’s your net worth? That’s the difference between what you have and what you owe.
  • How much debt do you have? Be sure you know the interest rate you’re paying on each outstanding balance. How will you pay them off?
  • Where do you want to be? It’s crucial to set goals. Put everything down on paper, with dollar amounts and what it will take to accomplish them.

Create Good Habits

Next, be sure you spend time regularly paying attention to what’s going on with your money.

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Budgeting for the Holidays Makes Everything Less Stressful

Christmas presents

Yes, you heard that correctly. Budgeting for the holidays doesn’t add stress. In fact, budgeting for these additional expenses actually makes life less stressful because you’re only spending the money you can really afford. So, how about feeling calm and peaceful in January because you made smart decisions instead of experiencing buyer’s remorse?

Where Should You Begin?

Well, first let’s talk about the fact that the holidays are supposed to be fun, and the real satisfaction comes from the act of giving something special, not from giving expensive presents. So, with that in mind, make a list of all the expenses you expect to incur during the holiday season. Try to think of everything that might come up. Your list may include:

  • Family gifts
  • Cards and postage
  • Decorations
  • Christmas tree
  • Other gifts for teachers, gift exchanges, etc.
  • Charity donations
  • Holiday meals

Set Your Limit

Next, take a hard look at the money you have available to cover all your holiday expenses, and decide on your spending limit. Be sure that you’re planning to use only money that you’ve saved up or set aside for Christmas. People often make the big mistake of spending money that’s not truly available.

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