John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Healthy Financial Advice for Couples

Combining finances can be one of the stickiest parts of starting a new relationship. While it might not be true that two can live as cheaply as one, it is true that couples can take advantage of economies of scale. For example, there is no need to pay for two houses or apartments. Here are some good pieces of financial advice that can really help couples.

Don’t Keep Secrets

This is especially important when you get married. Both partners need to provide full financial disclosure. Married couples legally share most assets. Unfortunately, they also share debts. Therefore, it’s imperative to get everything out on the table because keeping financial secrets can lead to unnecessary stress on a relationship.

Assess Your Comfort With Risk

Investing is the only way to really grow a nest egg over time unless you’re stashing tens of thousands every year. Not everyone has the same level of risk tolerance. Discussing the acceptable level of risk for each partner is a good way to stay on the same page financially.

Talk About Priorities

Many, if not most, couples will have a saver and a spender. For the spender, a new car or a bigger house might be at the top of the priorities list. For the saver, maxing out a 401(k) or saving for emergencies might take priority. Regardless, it’s a good idea to understand what your partner wants to accomplish with the money your household brings in. Making concessions in some areas can be a great way to avoid unnecessary conflicts…

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Uncategorized, personal finance, John J. Bowman Jr Accountant

Student Loan Myths

Many people take out student loans in an attempt to ensure they earn more over their working lives. Overall student loan debt in the US is now more than $1.5 trillion. Those in such debt generally have a great desire to pay it off. This leads to many myths around the subject of student loan debt. Here are a few to avoid.

You Can’t Pay Student Loans Early

There is a common myth that says you have to pay the stated amount each month and that it’s impossible to pay off student loan debt early. This is not the case. It is indeed possible to pay extra and take care of student loans before the actual term of the loan is finish. There’s no penalty for paying early, and you may be able to save thousands in interest costs in the process.

You’re Stuck With Your Interest Rate

Student loans can come from the government, and they can come from private lenders. Those who take out loans from multiple lenders will likely get stuck with a variety of interest rates. Private loans can come with higher interest rates, but there’s no need to be stuck with a bad rate. It’s possible to refinance these loans and save money in the process. There is the possibility to consolidate the loans into one loan if you have a good credit score.

You Can Skip Payments

Some borrowers are stuck with very large student loan payments each month. There is an option for income-based repayment plans. Others might think skipping a payment or two is a good idea from a cash flow standpoint. Actually, this idea could not be further from the truth. Going into default on a student loan will hurt your credit score. Additionally, the interest will continue to compound on the unpaid amount, which will increase the amount of debt you actually owe…

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

What To Know About Financing A Car

One of the first large purchases a person typically makes is a car. Although the process can seem a bit daunting, it is far less complicated than it seems. Once you have a basic understanding of what financing a car means, you will be far more capable of choosing the right option for you.

To get started, take a look at what financing a car means: put simply, you want to be a car, but you don’t have the money to pay for it in full. So instead, you finance the vehicle or pay the car off over time with either a loan or a lease. The most important thing to understand about financing is that along with the loan or lease comes interest rates, fees, and other costs, so although financing happens more often than not, it is more expensive to do so than to purchase the car outright.

Once you have determined that financing a car is your best option, it is time to look at whether you want to finance through a loan or a lease.

Loan v. Lease

There is a distinct difference between loaning and leasing: when you are financing a car with a loan, you are paying to own the vehicle, whereas if you are financing a car with a lease, you’re paying to use the car, not to own.

Financing a car through a loan consists of 3 factors: the loan amount, the annual percentage rate (APR) and the length of the loan. Use a calculator like THIS one to determine how various loan amounts, APRs and loan periods will affect your monthly payment. Other essential components to remember:

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, tax, Uncategorized

4 Ways to Wisely Use Your Tax Refund

Now that tax season is fully underway, you may be thinking about what you want to do with your tax return when it comes in.  For some, it might go right into a savings account.  For others, it might be an opportunity to splurge on different items you’ve had your eye on.  A healthy balance between the two, is looking into some wiser ways you can utilize your refund.  If you’re waiting on your refund to come in, consider some of these great options to put it towards:

Contribute to Your Emergency Fund

You may have one already, and if you don’t, it might be a good time to consider starting one.  An emergency fund is a great tool to have in case you encounter an unfortunate major expense that you wouldn’t regularly have the funding for.  You can contribute to your emergency fund on a regular basis depending on your pay schedule. However, when your tax refund comes in, depending on the amount, you may be able to make a large contribution, and give yourself a better financial cushion in the event of an unexpected expense.

Invest in a Down Payment

You may be in the process of looking for a new home, or even a car.  Both of these purchases are likely to require some sort of down payment, especially if you want your monthly payments reduced as much as possible…

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blog, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Tips When Buying Your First Home

Buying a home is an exciting, yet stressful process.  You’re making one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, and you want to ensure you’re going about things the right way.  For first time home buyers, this may seem even more difficult, since you aren’t exactly familiar with the process and everything that comes with it.  Additionally, depending on your state, the buying process may vary, to it’s important to be aware of any local differences. Generally, however, there are a few good tips to consider when buying your first home:

Enquire About Your Mortgage Options

As a first time home buyer, your mortgage options are one of the most important parts of your entire buying process.  Your mortgage loan determines the type of home you can afford (price wise), and how long you’ll be paying for it, depending on the amount of your down payment.  Keep in mind, your downpayment affects how much you need to borrow in your mortgage loan, so the more you have in your down payment, the better. However, for first time home buyers, down payments requirements also differ sometimes from that of someone who’s owned a home before.  Either way, find out what option works best for you, and work on your mortgage from there.

Start Saving Early

To ensure you have a solid down payment, you definitely want to start saving as early as possible.  Whether you’re putting down a “traditional” down payment of 20%, or taking advantage of a first time home buyer program, with a down payment as little as 3%, you will likely need a nice lump sum saved to cover the downpayment and closing costs…

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Common Financial Mistakes Many People Make

Rarely, does someone have a perfect financial history.  Mistakes in finance are common and it’s likely that most people have experienced them at one point or another.  The important thing is to figure out how to correct them, as they can tend to pile up and create somewhat of financial hardship.  However, don’t panic; with the right tools, you can easily change your financial habits. The following tips are a great guide and provide insight into the many financial mistakes people tend to make.

Too Many Monthly Payments

You may not realize it, but your monthly payments tend to add up, quickly.  Many people are seeking the “better” things in life, so they’re willing to tack on monthly finance payments to acquire the things they desire.  And while the monthly payments may not seem like a big hit at the time, the more you have, the more they tend to add up. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for people to have monthly payments that are more on the unnecessary side.  Consider the gym, for example. While for some, a gym membership is a great investment, for others, it may just be a monthly bill that isn’t regularly utilized.  Consider where your bills each month are going, and see which ones are actually necessary.

High Credit Balances

While credit cards may seem like a great way to get what you need, without having to see your bank account take an immediate hit, they can do more harm than good if they aren’t used properly.  Think of a credit card as borrowed money; money that needs to be paid back, and should be paid back in full to avoid any further charges like interest and late fees. The days of cash only are gone for many people, as credit cards are a regular part of today’s society.  Utilize your credit cards to purchases that you know you’ll be able to pay in full and avoid using them for everyday purchases that will increase your balance quickly…

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, Uncategorized

Increasing Your Savings Account Contributions

We frequently talk about ways to manage your credit score, combat debt, and be financially free.  One of the best ways to work towards financial freedom is having a savings account and directly contributing to it regularly.  A savings account is a great way to budget your money, and give yourself a nice fund for your future and any major life events that might come your way, such as purchasing your first home, or sending your child to college.  If you already have a savings account, you may want to find ways to increase your contributions. Here are a few key ways to do so:

Evaluate Expenses

Always evaluate your expenses before you get into forming your plan.  The amount of money you save will likely be based partially on how much you’re spending per month.  So you’ll want to calculate your monthly bills, and how much you spend on any other monthly expenses, such as food, gas, dry cleaning, etc.  If you’re finding your spending habits are extreme and are preventing you from regularly contributing to your savings account, find ways to cut back on things that may not be that necessary or important.

Set Achievable Goals

The first step in creating any solid savings plan is setting goals that are realistic and achievable.  You’ll want to base these goals on your current finances; how much money you bring in a month, versus your spending and expenses.  Once you have figured that out, set goals that make sense with your finances, whether that’s a specific portion of your paycheck per week or working on a monthly basis…

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