Hope for your financial life and beyond

Want to Deduct Your Homeowners Policy? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Owning a house comes with many responsibilities. You have to maintain the home, pay taxes, and in most cases, make monthly payments on your mortgage. Then there’s also the cost of home insurance.

Home InsuranceWhen it comes to reducing your monthly billable costs and going for a more frugal approach in life, there’s only so much you can do to reduce your mortgage – and even less you can do to make sure your house is well-maintained affordably (either through time or money invested) – so you turn to the homeowners policy.

Now, we all know the advice people give when it comes to finding the right insurance provider. Shop around, ask questions, clean up your credit and so on and so forth. But what if you already have an insurance policy? What if you’ve shopped around, and gotten the best deal you could find? Is there still a way to further cut down on costs?

In short, the answer is: probably. But to really get into it, you’ve got to ask a few questions. To help you along on your quest for more affordable – and smarter – home insurance, here’s an extremely simple list of five questions you should ask yourself.

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Should I Do My Own Taxes? Here is How to Know

Each year starting sometime in January, we begin to think about that special season coming up. No, it’s not the spring season or baseball season. It’s tax season. And with that season comes the usual question, Should I do my own taxes or not?

should i do my own taxesAt some level we feel like consulting a tax professional would be a good step. Maybe they could save us money because they know something we don’t. I mean, who really wants to pay the government more than they have to?

On the other hand, hiring a tax professional takes money. A good accountant or CPA could cost hundreds of dollars. We wouldn’t want to pay for their services if we really didn’t need it.

So it leaves us wondering, “Does my situation require professional help? Should I do my own taxes instead of bringing in someone who will cost a lot of money?”

The answer may surprise you, especially for those of you who know I’m married to a CPA.

Should I Do My Own Taxes?

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What Does a Financial Advisor Do and Do I Need One?

Most likely you have run across someone in your circle of friends who is working with a financial advisor. This may have you thinking that you need to have one as well. It sounds like it might be a helpful step but you don’t really know the answer to the question, What does a financial advisor do for me?

what does a financial advisor doIt’s a great question. Before you hire professional services you need to know what they are all about. You need to understand if they can help with your specific need. You wouldn’t hire a tax professional to do your lawn care, right?

So I’ll help you with both questions today. Let’s tackle the What does a financial advisor do? question first.

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?

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The Savvy Shopper: Budgeting for Auto Insurance

Auto insurance is a must for everyone who wants to drive. Why is it so important to purchase you ask? Well, for one thing, it’s the law. Get caught driving without it and you’ll face some tough consequences.

But the main reason you should have auto insurance is to protect yourself in the case of an accident.

Now, auto insurance isn’t cheap. It’s going to cost you so you’ll have to figure out how to manage that in your monthly budget. You can be a savvy shopper though by learning how to budget for auto insurance. And it all starts by making sure you get the right type of coverage.

Planning for the Right Coverage

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How to Save Money on Car Insurance for Teens

In about a month, our oldest child will turn 15. In our state, that means you can apply for a learner’s permit to drive. She hasn’t expressed a big desire to do this yet but I know it’s coming. So naturally I’ve started looking into car insurance for teens to see how much another driver in the household is going to cost me.

car insurance for teensWhat I’ve found is there are many ways to save money on car insurance for teens. There are reasons why your car insurance rates will go up, chiefly because you have an inexperienced driver behind the wheel. Insurance companies are taking on a higher risk of having a payout. Your teens’ enthusiasm for being able to drive coupled with their lack of skill makes accidents more likely.

Short of holding onto the keys yourself, there is no way around paying more on your car insurance with a teen in the house. But you can take steps to lessen the amount of increase. The good news is most of these steps will require the help of your teen. Getting them engaged in the process will go along way in teaching them responsibility. They also might learn some cool financial lessons along the way.

11 Ways to Save on Car Insurance for Teens

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Count the Cost: The Secret Step for Success at Anything (Luke 14:28)

Hidden Nuggets Series #101 – “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish…” – Luke 14:28

count the costWould you like to have success at anything you do? Of course…so would I. Nobody sets out with the intention to fail. However, many times we do fail and it’s often because we refused to count the cost ahead of time.

What do I mean by count the cost? Does that have something to do with money? Well, maybe but not necessarily.

Put simply, when you count the cost you plan ahead. You take inventory of everything that needs to happen before you pursue a goal. Now, you may not know every little detail that needs to be achieved in the process. But you can at least get a sense of all the big rocks that will need to be accomplished in order for you to have success.

This concept isn’t a new one. The term “count the cost” actually has its origins in the Bible. And Jesus used it with his disciples to prove a very important point about planning ahead.

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5 Innovative Retirement Planning Tools to Help You Save More

Enjoy this post on retirement planning tools by guest blogger Alfred Stallion.

retirement planning toolsOne of the key aspects of retirement is ensuring that you have sufficient funds in investments and cash to continue living comfortably for many years. By adhering to sensible investment principles and saving guidelines, this can be attained. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to know how much you need to retire, how much you have to save, and how aggressively to invest in order to lead a happy life in your senior years. Mobile app technology keeps progressing, and anyone with a smartphone can now keep track of his finances, and thus plan for retirement much more conveniently.

Here are several retirement planning tools to help you save more money along the way.

Retirement Planning Tools

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The U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown For Your Tax Money in 2016 – Infographic

With the first primary elections just a few short months away, it’s been interesting to hear the would-be presidential candidates take on taxes. Some are proposing to tax the rich at a higher rate to fund the federal budget while others highlight the virtues of cutting taxes on the middle class. Once again it appears the “take-more-money-from-the-people” or “give-money-back-to-the-people” debate will be a central theme in the 2016 presidential race.

monopoly luxury taxGenerally speaking, we like to keep the money for which we work so hard. Nobody in my circle of friends is saying of a tax increase, “Sure, I’d be happy to…take another 5% out of my paycheck to fund the government. I don’t mind.” Know anyone who thinks that way? I don’t.

Regardless on how you feel about taxes, they do allow our government to function. It’s every American’s responsibility to pay taxes into the government’s budget. If you don’t well, let’s just say there could be some serious consequences (i.e. big fines and/or potential jail time). After several years now of living with a CPA in the house, I’ve come to appreciate (#fear) the tenacity with which the IRS takes its job.

Have you ever wondered where your tax dollars really go though? How does the government use your tax dollars in the federal budget? The people at Community Tax have researched that question and put their findings into the following infographic.

2016 U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown

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The Easy and Hard Parts to Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65

Would you feel financially secure if you became a millionaire? I’d say most people would. A million dollar net worth provides the cushion you’d need to weather almost any financial storm. Becoming a millionaire should set your financial worries at ease.

becoming a millionaireThat doesn’t mean you can live recklessly and spend money on whatever you want. Do that and you might find yourself broke before you know it.

Nor does it necessarily mean you can stop working. A millionaire at 75 can sit back and enjoy the fruit of their labor. A millionaire at 35 still has many more years of life expenses in front of them.

Becoming a millionaire is both easy and hard. That may seem contradictory. How can something be both easy and hard? As you can see from the following graphs, the contradictory nature of that statement can best be viewed through three variables:

time, income and choices.

Becoming a Millionaire by Age 65 in Visuals

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10 Can’t Miss Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

warren buffett quotes on lifeWhere do you seek out sound advice?

Your parents?

Friends at work?

A counselor or pastor?

The Bible or other religious literature?

As I see it, the problem with a lot of advice is threefold:

  • It’s not actually helpful…
  • It’s given by someone who has a damaging, personal life issue that clouds their bias and…
  • It’s coming from a person who has an alternative agenda (i.e. they are driving you to a decision that benefits them)

This makes it extremely hard to find advice that you can run with. Put the wrong advice in your head and hands and the results could be disastrous.

When it comes to money, perhaps no businessmen and investor has achieved more in his lifetime than Warren Buffett. From humble beginnings of selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola and magazines door-to-door as a kid, he has become one of the wealthiest men in the world. People pay money to sit at his feet for a few minutes so they can pick his brain about life and money.

So when I ran across some Warren Buffett quotes on life and money awhile ago, I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on how I felt about a few of them.

Famous Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

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How to Choose A College So You Don’t Waste Money On Tuition

You may have noticed recently the federal government stepped in to help 18-year-olds with one of the biggest decisions of their lives – how to choose the right college. Although you don’t necessarily need a college education to have a successful career, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that a college graduate will earn one million dollars more on average over their lifetime when compared to someone with only a high school diploma. That figure alone makes attending college a worthwhile consideration.

college fund jarBut what college should you attend when there are thousands to choose from? Enter President’s Obama’s Consumer Reports-styled College Scorecard. It’s an initiative headed by the Dept. of Education where, “You’ll be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans,” the President noted in a recent radio address.

The scorecard tool offers much more information than that however. Prospective students can input a college name into the site and receive all kinds of useful information about the school’s program. Among other things, potential schools can be sorted by location, size, degrees offered. The site is receiving rave reviews as the latest advancement in helping students choose the right college.

You will have to take some steps to make your college decision an easier one. There is simply too much money at stake for you to make the wrong choice. Here are the three most important things you can do.

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