Budgeting, Credit Counseling, Debt, Finance, Money Management, Taxes, Uncategorized

Tackling the Fear of Filing Taxes

Tackling the Fear of Filing Taxes

The holidays are over, a new year has begun, and now we are rolling into February: a month that brings Valentine’s Day to mind. Some people look forward to receiving candy hearts while others dread spending Valentine’s Day alone. However, getting snubbed by Cupid isn’t the only thing people dread in February. They also are very apprehensive about filing their taxes. How do you get started? How much money will you get back? How much will you owe? It’s enough to cause your stress level to skyrocket. Luckily, there are some things you can do to take the sting out of filing your taxes:

 

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  • File your taxes as soon as you can. The due date for filing this year is April 18th. It is usually April 15th but that falls on a federal holiday and a Friday, thus, the due date is moved to the next normal business day on Monday the 18th which gives you a few extra days to file. Now that January is over, you should have received most of your information, such as your W-2s, in the mail. If you absolutely cannot file by the due date, you may want to go to the IRS website to see if you can file for an extension.[/column]

 

  • Look at all of your preparation options. It’s not a bad idea to research national organizations with locations near you that may offer free tax preparation for individuals with certain income limits. For example, United Way Worldwide has a program available during tax season called  Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) that is sponsored by the IRS. Volunteers (such as retired CPAs) help families with a household income of under $53,000 prepare taxes for free, while another program helps you prepare your own taxes if your income is below $60,000 per year.
  • Research credits and deductions. There are some that could save you money which you may not know existed. For example, if you are eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit you would be able to claim a credit for expenses that you paid for child care so that you could work or look for work.
  • Make a plan for your tax refund or payment by creating/using a budget. Planning can drastically decrease stress and eliminate the temptation of unnecessary spending. If you get a refund, budget your money so you can tithe and achieve the priority of paying down debt. If you do not get a refund and you owe money, it is even more crucial to create a budget plan to pay the IRS. You have payment options. The best option, of course, is to budget and pay before the due date. If you cannot pay by the due date, there are options for payment plans. You may be eligible for an online payment agreement with the IRS. If not, you can still pay in installments by filing for an installment agreement (Form 9465). It is important to note that you must file all tax returns before applying for any payment agreement with the IRS. Also, keep in mind that if you do not pay by the due date you will be subject to penalties and interest. For more information on this and other payment options, visit www.irs.gov or contact the IRS directly.

 

Learning helpful tips like these, researching your options, and making a plan will help reduce the fear of filing your taxes, thus, allowing you to focus more on positivity, tranquility and love, no matter what month of the year it is.

 

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Uncategorized

Financial Planning – A Fresh Start for the New Year

Finances and the New Year

With the New Year approaching, it is the perfect time to evaluate your current financial situation, set new financial goals, and establish budgeting strategies. Whether your credit is in great shape or you are struggling to maintain or improve your credit, it is important to pull your credit reports at least annually and review them for errors.

Click below for instructions on how to pull your credit for free from www.annualcreditreport.com

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In addition to reviewing your credit, review your assets and take the time to think about your short, mid, and long term financial goals. The only way to make those goals a reality is to setup a plan to save money every month.

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    Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Credit Score, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement, Finance, Holiday Tips, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

    Credit Card – Avoiding the Debt Trap this Holiday Season

    Gift Giving on Credit

    Staying out of debt can be almost as difficult as paying it off especially when our emotions take over. After all, buying gifts for our loved ones during the holiday season is a very emotional purchase.

    Preparing for gifting should begin way before the holiday season. In a survey conducted by The American Research Group, Inc., 2014 Christmas gift spending was up 8% over 2013 with an average of $861 spent per adult consumer. So what is the most efficient and painless way to save money for the holidays each year?

    Budgeting for Gift Giving

    Creating a management budget at the beginning of each year will ensure you achieve your financial goals, establish a savings, and have funds set aside for gifts and holidays throughout the year. First, calculate how much money you spend on the holidays annually and divide that by 12 months. This is how much money you will need to set aside in your monthly budget for holiday spending. There are many spending trackers and saving tools out there but sometimes its easiest to just create an envelope labeled holidays and put cash in it each month. This might seem like a tedious task, however when the time comes to buy gifts and holiday items throughout the year it will be nice to already have the cash available and not have to worry about denting your budget.

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      Debt Consolidation
      Debt Consolidation

      Going on a Money Diet with Debt Consolidation

      Achieving financial fitness does not require a lot of workouts at the gym or even a lot of discipline. Debt consolidation is an easy and simply path to succeeding on the money diet. According to an article by goodhousekeeping.com, it is important to start with a plan when you want to get out of debt. By talking to a trained credit counselor at a reputable organization such as Christian Credit Counselors, you find out how to enroll in a Debt Management Plan. Your credit counselor does the work for you by contacting your creditors to lower the interest rate. Instead of paying on three, five, eight or more credit cards, you end up with just one monthly payment handled through Christian Credit Counselors. Contacting a credit counselor is not just about consolidating debt. It is also about learning how to keep out of debt for good just as you maintain your weight loss after a diet.

      Plan of Budgeting attack

      The goodhousekeeping.com article points out saving and dieting require a plan of attack. Another word for plan is budget, at least when it comes to personal finances. Different budgeting strategies work for different people, but the main principle is to live below your means. Also, make a list of all of your fixed expenses or bills as well as the variable expenses. In some cases, you start guessing how much you need for groceries or clothing, making adjustments along the way.

      Manageable Financial goals

      It does little good to set financial goals that are impossible to maintain. Although some people claim it helps keep them motivated, the truth is you are better off with goals you can actually manage. The great thing about debt consolidation is you agree only to a Debt Management Plan that is doable with an end goal or timeline in mind.

      Financial Flexibility

      When you consolidate debt, you typically end up paying less every month to meet your credit card debt obligations. With extra money, you can set aside at least 10 percent of your income for emergencies as well as spend some money when you need to pay for unexpected bills.

      The Budgeting Buddy system

      Another tip for a money diet is to find a dieting buddy to help keep you accountable. Your credit counselor is a great go-to person to talk to about budgeting, temptations to overspend and credit scores. A buddy system keeps most people on any kind of diet. Instead of depriving yourself, you can still spend money on the things that matter most to you.

      After dieting, people step on the scale. With a money diet, you simply look at your savings balance, credit score and credit card debt. By consolidating debt, you know you are on the right path to a financially fit life. At Christian Credit Counselors, we help you come up with a realistic budget and consolidate debt to get out of debt 80 percent faster than other methods.

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        Uncategorized

        Financial Responsibilities of Fathers

        What role do you play in your household? What are your responsibilities? For more than seventy million fathers in the United States countless responsibilities are assumed, especially when it comes to the well-being of their family. Even though many households today consist of two-income families, a lot of the financial, physical, and spiritual stress can fall on the man of the house. After all, who taught you how to ride your first bike? Who was there to make it all better when you fell and scraped your knee? Who took you to the daddy-daughter dance at your school or church? Who taught you how to throw a baseball? Who tucks the kids in bed and kisses you good night? Not only can fathers and husbands be looked to for being strong role models that provide the significant mental and emotional pillars of love, guidance, security, support, and wisdom but they also take on vast financial responsibilities as well.

        Today, it’s estimated that Americans spend over one billion dollars each year on gifts for Father’s day to show their appreciation for taking on these responsibilities and providing for their family… but what does a FATHER spend on HIS family for the other 364.5 days of the year? According to the newly released estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost a middle-income couple $245,340 to raise one child born in 2013 to the age of eighteen and this doesn’t even include the cost of college! Of course, this amount can vary widely depending on location, income, and number of children in the household. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at JUST A FEW things that a father may be financially responsible for providing to his family:

        • Basic Needs- food, water, clothing, housing
        • Health care- insurance for family/dependents
        • Child care and Education- day care, tuition, educational materials, transportation
        • Future Security- college tuition, retirement, will or testament to family, life insurance
        • Miscellaneous- transportation, lessons, leagues/teams, concerts, vacations, trips, toys, candy, ice cream, gifts, video games, technology, etc.

        You must admit, these are FAIRLY important aspects in life (food, housing, AND CANDY) and this list only scratches the surface of responsibilities that a father may undertake as an important contributor or head of the household! Father’s Day is a time to say thank you to fathers who accept all of these duties and more. So how can we repay them? Remember, saying “thank you” is free of charge but is a simple phrase that can be worth more than you know! How will you celebrate Father’s Day?

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          Resources: www.history.com, www.money.cnn.com

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          Debt Consolidation
          Debt Consolidation

          Debt Consolidation – Understanding how it Works

          A number of people have been able to get their lives back on track thanks to debt consolidation. You may have seen commercials or have read articles about the amazing benefits of debt consolidation, but you do not know exactly how it is possible to provide that much relief. It is possible, and if you are struggling with a large burden of debt, you should look into debt consolidation for yourself. It really does work! Let’s take a look at what exactly occurs during the debt consolidation process.

          A Debt Analysis Meeting

          Meet with a skilled credit counselor. But beware! You should not have to pay for a consultation or offer any personal information before you go in for a consultation. If you come across something like this, go elsewhere you are about to walk into a scam.

          A real, considerate credit counselor will meet with you for free with no obligations for future services or payments, and they will discuss with you in-depth your specific debt situation and the viable solutions that are available to you.

          Debt and Budget Planning

          Poor planning is what got you into a heap of debt to begin with. A credit counselor will work with you to hash out an acceptable financial plan moving forward. You’ll be able to determine exactly what benefits you will be getting out of a debt consolidation program and be able to ask all of the questions you want before you join the program.

          Time to Get Out of Debt!

          Once in the program, skilled credit counselors will work tirelessly to lower your interest rates and consolidate your payments into one monthly payment. You’ll no longer have to deal with those pesky creditors again!

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            Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Settlement, Finance, Goals, Investing, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

            Financial Planning: A Dose of Truth and Grace

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            Planning for a Financial Planner

            So you’re considering a financial plan! Perhaps your finances have told you that you need one. Planning with purpose for your financial future is a noble task. Sure many good things come to us in unexpected surprises, but planning for a good future, especially when it comes to finances, is a wise strategy indeed! You’re reading this article because financial planning interests or excites you, and just doing so is taking the first step.

             

            Financial planning is a well marked plan to thrive financially, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a secure, successful financial portfolio. It’s never too late to start making changes and never too late to pursue financial freedom. The key is: start where you are. Don’t dwell on where you have been or the mistakes and poor choices that you may have made. Everyday is a fresh start to the life you want to live, to the best you yet!

            Your Dreams, Desires, and Goals

            You have dreams, desires and goals. Everyone does. But, not everyone lives in such a way as to see them come to pass. Why do some succeed where others fail? Why do some thrive while others seem to strive after the wind? Not all of life’s answers come sugarcoated and some pills are hard to swallow. But, taking in wisdom, advice and eating humble pie is good for us all. With humility comes honor, and sometimes taking a long, hard look at ourselves is truly a humbling endeavor.

            Finances are a major test and testimony of our maturity and level of personal responsibility. It’s important in the process of self-discovery to admit the truth about your behaviors and choices and the effects they have had on both your life and the lives of those you influence, whether for good or for bad. Be sure to give yourself a healthy measure of both truth and grace. As imperfect people, who make not so perfect choices, grace is something we all need.

            Consider Your Financial Peace

            Start today by considering who you are, who you want to be. Consider what your financial situation looks like and what you want it to look like. Consider what it will take to get you there. Look at the situation objectively. Keep negative thoughts and emotions at bay. You are strategizing, planning, preparing and leading. It takes a strong mind and a strong spirit to be a good leader. The first person you lead is always yourself. And the truth is, if you can’t lead yourself, you really can’t lead others, not well, anyway.Financial grace is not a credit card with no limits and no consequences. If you charge, you owe. Same goes in life.

            Your material choices have consequences, both positive and negative. Grace goes the extra mile, however. It says, “Yes, you are where you are, but…you don’t have to stay there, and you certainly don’t have to return.” Grace gives us the opportunity to make a change, to make the change we desire. It helps us to feel empowered to walk out the lifestyle we want for ourselves and to make the daily choices that both get us and keep us there. Mary Poppins should have said a spoonful of grace helps the medicine go down.

            Planning Short and Long Term Goals

            As you begin to plan, look at both short and long term goals. Write out the steps it will take to accomplish them. With your basic plan in hand, your road map, determine if further help is needed to bring clarity or to implement your newly devised strategy. Share your newfound view with others and invite them to partner with you where appropriate. Your close family and friends are key players in the game called “your life.” And, be proud of who you are because no matter where you’ve been, what you have or have not done, you are this day, an overcomer.

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              Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Settlement, Finance, Goals, Investing, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

              Making Money Matters Manageable in Your Marriage

              Mutual Money Management moneymarriage

              Is it love or money that makes the world go round? It’s both…Make money work for your marriage, not against it.  You need tips on strengthening your marriage through mutual management of your money.  This can be done and can even be fun!  Keep reading to find out how.

              Financial Honesty

              Have open, honest and non-confrontational discussions about your finances.  Set aside a regular time to talk about where you are, where you want to be and how you will get there…together.

              Budgeting and Strategic Spending

              Make budgeting a positive and fun project, rather than a chore.  Don’t view a budget as a way to plan spending out of your life.  News Flash: While you are alive, you will never stop spending money.  And, the ultimate goal is not to spend less, but to spend strategically and find ways to increase your income to continue to meet your financial goals.  Plan in the things you want and enjoy and work together to achieve them.

              Money Habits

              Be aware of your spouses habits and tendencies when it comes to finances.  Don’t eye one another to find fault, but look for opportunities to step in and offer encouragement or a listening ear.  Fear can lead people to hold onto finances tightly, or spend impulsively.  Find ways to help build faith and trust into each other, and encouraging one another daily.

              Reward Sacrifice

              Regardless of the roles you’ve decided upon in the area of finance, you are both working towards your mutual goals.  Look for opportunities to reward your spouse for their hard work.  Have they been making personal sacrifices to stay within the budget?  Acknowledge that in a way that will tell him or her: Thank you. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m glad we are on the same team.

              Learn from Financial Freedom

              Get around other couples who are walking in financial freedom and learn from them.  Look for couples who are seasoned and successful in the area of mutual finance, and allow them to mentor you as a couple. They have been where you are and have insight into your success.

              The Three L’s

              Love much. Live well. Laugh often.  Always remember the love you have for your spouse.  Keep that as a forethought, prizing it more highly than anything money can buy.

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                Christian Credit Counselors, Credit, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Debit & Your Credit Score, Debt, Debt Settlement, Finance, Money Management, Personal Goals, Saving

                Money, Love, and Marriage

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                Marriage and Money

                Roses are red; violets are blue. No matter the cost, I’ll stand by you…

                Have you had the talk yet?…You know, the one about money, spending habits, future goals, budgeting…?

                If you haven’t, it should be a top priority for your relationship.  If you have, have it again.  Discussing finances should be a regular and healthy part of your lifestyle together.  Being on the same page in this area will protect your marriage (or future marriage) against the most common relational enemy.  You’ve heard the statistics.  Money and finances are the number one reason couples argue and ultimately divorce. Don’t let your marriage become a number.

                Make Finances a Joint Venture

                Regardless of you or your spouses accounting or investment skill set, planning out your financial future and implementing those strategies should be a mutual effort.  Coming together to decide matters in the area of finance will allow you both to be on the same page number…of the same book.  Couples drift away from each other day by day when they are not planning their future together.

                Relationships and matters of finance should not be left to one person alone, even if he or she is “better at it.”  This disconnects one partner from a key area and anytime one of the partners is left out of a major area of the relationship, it will lead to the two of them planning and living, by default, two separate lives.  We, as humans, are meant to be in relationship with each other, and drifters will eventually wash up on someone else’s shore.  So, make it a priority to come together and stay together in the area of financial planning.

                Tip for Financial Success

                Use this time of planning as an opportunity to build closeness into your relationship.

                Respect and Love

                The two greatest relational needs. Anytime you are communicating with your spouse, you are communicating either respect and love or their opposites.  Since the topic of finance can stir one or both of you up, be especially careful to communicate this respect, love and trust through words, tone and body language.

                Listen and Speak Lovingly

                Listen for his or her dreams, desires, goals, reasons.  Your partner has spending habits, as we all do.  Find out the why behind the what.  This will help you to understand your partner better and offer support when needed.

                Be a voice of encouragement. Speak highly of and to your spouse.  Build him or her up with your words. Remind your better-half how capable, intelligent and valued he or she is.  You have the power to build up or to tear down, and it starts with a simple comment.

                Give Financial Grace

                If this is a new process for your relationship, a new way of doing things financially.  Give yourselves grace to get through the transition. Old habits may die hard, but building new and healthy patterns into your relationship is definitely worth the initial investment!

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