personal finance

Tax Breaks for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is an expensive endeavor. Yet there are a number of tax credits that first-time homebuyers can take advantage of. Sometimes congress changes the available tax breaks or adjusts certain aspects of the law. Therefore, you should keep an eye on the tax law when you get ready to file your taxes. Below are some of the most popular tax credits for first-time homebuyers.

Points Deduction

If you paid points when getting your mortgage, you may be eligible for a deduction. In order to take advantage of this deduction, your settlement contract has to make reference to the points. Plus you will have to itemize when filing your taxes instead of using the standard deduction.

Property Tax Deductions

Property taxes can be deducted when you itemize on your tax return. First-time homebuyers should definitely take advantage of this deduction, but it’s not limited to first-time homebuyers. In order to claim this deduction, the property should be your main residence or a vacation home—not a business property.

Mortgage Interest Credit

Claiming a mortgage interest credit can lower the amount of taxes you owe. If you want to take advantage of this credit, you have to make sure you received a Mortgage Credit Certificate. The certificate is usually sent to you by your local government when you first receive your mortgage, and it lists how much interest the credit is worth. If you take advantage of the mortgage interest credit and the mortgage interest deduction, the credit will be reduced based on how much of a deduction you claim.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

A home mortgage interest deduction is one of the most popular tax credits for new homeowners. When it comes time to file your taxes, the bank or loan provider will mail you a tax form called Form 1098. The form details how much you paid in interest for the previous tax year. New homeowners should definitely take advantage of this deduction since mortgage payments have a higher percentage of interest than principal in the beginning. Keep in mind that in order to deduct home mortgage interest, you will have to itemize. For many homeowners, itemized deductions can add up to be larger than the standard deduction.

IRA Withdrawals

Typically when you make withdrawals from your IRA before you are 59 ½ years old you face a 10% penalty. However, when you use the withdrawals for a home purchase this penalty can be waived. The caveat is that you cannot withdraw more than $10,000.

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personal finance

Save Money on Home Energy Costs

Summer is right around the corner, and as the heat rises, so will your energy bill. Yet there are a number of simple ways that you can save money on your energy bill. The more steps you take to cut down on energy costs—no matter how small—the more money you save. Keep reading to learn more about some of the best ways to save money on energy costs.

Eliminate Vampire Power

Vampire power is the name for energy draining devices. For example, if your laptop is fully charged, but you leave it plugged in overnight, you are only wasting your money. Similarly, if you leave your TV plugged in and on standby mode, you only waste money. Microwaves, printers, and cell phone chargers not plugged into any phone are other vampire power culprits. Each device that you have plugged in while not in use unnecessarily increases your monthly energy bill. Before you run through the house unplugging everything, think about which devices you use regularly and which ones you don’t. It probably doesn’t make sense to unplug your computer each day, but there’s no reason for leaving the cell phone charger plugged in all day long.

Use Your Dishwasher

Many people rinse their dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. If you rinse your dishes first, though, you use unnecessary water, and the machine might not do as thorough of a job. Dishwashers with sensors can determine how dirty your dishes are, so it’s best to let the machine do its job and determine how long of a cycle it should run. By just using the dishwasher to clean your dishes, you will use less money and save money as a result.

Review Your Water Heater

Do you know how old your water heater is? If your water heater is older than twenty years, then it might be time to upgrade. A new water heater costs a lot up front, but over time it will save you money. Heat-pump models tend to be more energy efficient than electric models.

Take Advantage of Solar Power

Every year it seems that the cost of solar installation becomes cheaper. At the same time, solar panels seem to get better at collecting and storing power. Tesla, the company famous for its electric cars and self-driving experiments, is currently working on solar panel shingles for homes. In the meantime, though, you can purchase solar panels to install on the roof of your home. Not only will solar help you save money on your electric bill and reduce your impact on the environment, you may also be eligible for tax credits. Take a look at this site to learn more.

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personal finance

Finance Tips for Married Couples

Getting married is a life changing event. One of the biggest changes that married couples have to deal with is their financial situation. Combining two incomes has its advantages, but there are also some pitfalls to avoid. While the best time to talk about personal finance is before marriage, it’s never too late to get on the same page and make the right financial decisions. Below are some of the most important finance tips for newlyweds, but any married couple—regardless of how long they have been together—can benefit from the information.

Don’t Hide Spending

The basis of any relationship is honesty. Honesty is especially important when it comes to money. Things like secret credit cards, overspending, or hidden accounts are never a good idea—especially if money is being withdrawn from the account that pays the bills each month. Honesty builds trust in the relationship, and being honest about how you spend money gives married couples a clear picture of their financial situation. If either partner wants “fun money” to spend on personal expenses, this should be discussed out in the open and budgeted for appropriately. On that note…

Discuss Your Financial Goals

You should know each other’s financial goals and reassess them regularly to see if you’re making progress. If one partner wants to save for a home while the other is a spendthrift, then these issues need to be dealt with as soon as possible. When it comes to budgeting, married couples should plan how much they want to save each month, how much money will go toward retirement, etc. By discussing each other’s financial goals there won’t be any surprises or misunderstandings about where the money is going.

Save for Retirement and Getting Older

Retirement is one of the last things that young people think about. Yet the sooner you start saving for retirement, the better off you will be when you are ready to retire. On a related note, many young couples don’t think about what they’ll do as they get older and maintaining health becomes more difficult. It’s important to save money for situations like retirement and health downturns. The last thing you want to worry about during your golden years is not having enough money to enjoy yourself and each other’s company.

Be Smart About Big Purchases

When it comes to making large purchases, married couples should engage in some reflection before draining their account. Do you really need a large home or an expensive new vehicle? Then once you do purchase a home how much remodeling is really necessary? Before making any big purchases you should always ask questions like these.

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personal finance

Learn More About These 5 Popular Tax Credits

There are a number of tax credits that you need to be aware of in order to be able to retain more of your income in spite of paying taxes. Such tax credits exist mainly for middle and low-income people and help you to keep most of your annual income from going into paying excessive taxes.

When you are able to identify tax credits that apply to you in particular, then the process of filing taxes at the end of the financial year is likely to become a whole lot easier than usual.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The first credit to consider is the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC which was established in 1975. It is phased in accordance with filing status and is based on investment income, earned income, and gross income. In order to qualify for this tax credit, you need to be younger than sixty-five years and older than twenty-five years. Learn more here.

American Opportunity Tax Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit has been designed to help meet the expenses associated with higher education. The full credit will be available to you if your annual gross income is $80,000 or $160,000 if you have a partner.

Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is meant to meet expenses that are commonly associated with post-secondary education. It is not just applicable for the first four years of secondary education but rather any stage of post-secondary education. The credit is also made available to you even if you are just pursuing a certification and not a degree.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

As the name suggests, this is a tax credit that applies to you if you are a parent and wish to defray costs associated with daycare or babysitting. You can use this credit if you are a single parent who has a dependent child who is under 13 years of age and you need to be away to look for work or be at work.

Savers Tax Credit

If you are a retired professional then this tax credit applies to you. If you make a contribution to retirement plans in the course of your professional life, then you can also use this tax credit quite easily.

By keeping the above tax credit options in mind, you will be able to save quite a bit in taxes and retain more of your hard earned income.

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personal finance

Investment Firms You Should Know

Making any investment has to be done with a lot of care, and the investment firm whose services you use should be one with a good reputation. Choosing the best investment firm for your individual needs is not the easiest thing to do and requires a good deal of consideration before you actually select the firm that’s right for you.

To learn more about the best investment firms out there, I have compiled a list of some of the best firms in the world. Each one is known for providing exceptional service. Remember, though, this list is just a starting point. Make sure to conduct more research before selecting a firm.

Vanguard

Vanguard is one of the best investment firms around. It offers its services to both individual investors and financial institutions. When you opt for the services of Vanguard, you get to access your retirement plans very easily in addition to various other investments like mutual funds, ETF’s and personal IRA’s.

Fidelity

Fidelity is another a well-known investment firm whose services you can opt for if you are an individual investor. The firm provides services in the areas of IRA’s, retirement funds, and mutual funds Fidelity is well known for the fact that its services are inexpensive.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is a good firm to invest with if you want to learn how to manage your money properly. This firm gives you an extensive range of investment and fund choices, lots of video guides, commission free ETF’s, and online courses that can be hugely beneficial for your financial needs.

Boglehead

Boglehead is the right firm to invest with if you want individualized or personalized advice in the area of finance. In order to invest with Boglehad, you need to become a part of the Bogle community and allow Bogle officials to help you make smart investments for the long term.

DIY Option

DIY Option is an investment firm where you get to come across investment brokers who tell you how to manage your money for a very low fee. Additionally, there are no huge service fees to dole out, and you get tips on how to manage your funds on your own without any external assistance.

If you keep the above options in mind, you will be in a good position to select the services of the right investment firm for your financial requirements and manage your money in the best possible way.

 

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blog, personal finance, tax

Which Schools Have the Best MBA Programs?

For business students, earning their MBA is a major goal. Earning an MBA can provide business school graduates with multiple benefits; including the opportunity for an increased salary, new opportunities, and a large network of industry contacts. However, to achieve the maximum benefits of earning an MBA, business school students try to attend the elite business schools to give themselves a chance at the best opportunities. Here is a look at the top business schools in the World.

Yale University (Yale School of Management)

All MBA students attending Yale’s School of Management are required to complete one global studies course. Students can choose from International Experiences Courses, Global Network Courses, or Global Network Weeks. Students even have the option of spending a semester at the school of an exchange partner.

The University of California at Berkeley (Haas School of Business)

The Haas School of Business is the second oldest business school in the United States. The school was named after Walter Haas, an undergrad at California Berkeley who grew Levi Strauss & Co. into the largest apparel manufacturer in the World. The Haas School of Business is known for its impressive diversity among its MBA classes. The student body is composed of many women, minorities, and international students.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has established itself as one of the best colleges in the World. The Sloan School of Management recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary, and offers students three different MBA programs; entrepreneurship and innovation, enterprise management, and finance. Graduates from the Sloan School of Management found employment at major companies such as Adobe, Google, and Microsoft. Multiple graduates also went on to start their own businesses.

The University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)

The Booth School of Business features a high job placement rate, as over 95% of graduating students find employment within a few months of graduation. Many students were able to find employment in companies such as Amazon, Boston Consulting Group and Bank of America. The Booth School of Business prepares students for the future by using real-world business scenarios through lab courses and experiential learning.

The University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)

The Wharton School has a great reputation for helping their students find a high paying job within months of graduation. The Wharton School is the oldest business school in the US, and was established with a donation from industrial giant Joseph Wharton. Graduates from the Wharton School have access to large networks of famous alumni; including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and John Sculley of Pepsi and Apple.

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personal finance

5 Tips to Save Money (1 min read) — Millionaire’s Digest

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: Zohaib Ali Founder & Owner of: Truth Behind the Image Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Books, Entertainment, Family & Life, Religion, Successful Living and Travel Writer 1. Save before you spend You need to know what money is a fixed outcome each month e.g. rent/bills and what is surplus. The best way […]

via 5 Tips to Save Money (1 min read) — Millionaire’s Digest

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