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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      Budgeting, Christian Credit Counselors, Consumer, Credit Cards, Credit Counseling, Finance, Money Management, Personal Goals

      Budget Boss

      Budget Boss: Command Your Finances by Creating and Monitoring a Budget

      Looking for a way to improve your financial situation and set yourself up for financial success in the future? Christian Credit Counselors, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) with a mission to provide free financial education to individuals and families both locally and nationwide, is now offering a free, online webinar entitled Budget Boss: Command Your Finances by Creating and Monitoring a Budget. Christian Credit Counselors is committed not just to helping people get out of debt, but providing them with free resources and education to STAY out of debt and live a life of financial freedom.

      The Budget Boss webinar will teach you the importance and benefits of a budget. It will walk you through the steps of the budgeting process including setting goals, evaluating assets and expenses, creating a budget, and monitoring a budget. In addition, it will show you how to use a budget to create wealth by decreasing spending and increasing income. Finally, it will give you suggestions on how to avoid common roadblocks as well as helpful budgeting resources. Whether you feel like you are drowning in debt and don’t know where to start in finding a solution or you simply want to set up a budget to save for your first car out of college, this webinar will serve as a great tool in creating and monitoring a budget so you have the knowledge and skills to make the best financial decisions for your future.

      Click on the video below to view the webinar.

      Click here to download the free handout:

      When you are done with the webinar video you can also take a quick survey by clicking the button below:

      If you have questions or would like more information, email education@christiancreditcounselors.org or call 1-800-557-1985 ext. 131.

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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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              Uncategorized

              Budget Ideas for Mother’s Day

              Mother’s day is just around the corner, have you thought about what you will do for your Mom? If you are married and have kids; what are you and the kids going to do for your wife? It’s easy for most to spend money on gifts, lunches, or a night out. It’s important that you make and stick to a budget, and it’s especially important when you are trying to save money and get out of debt. That means you need to get a little creative and put some extra thought into things. We have scoured the web and racked our brains to come up with our top three favorite Mother’s Day categories with tons of ideas to show Mom you care!

              Pampering, rest, and relaxation

              1. Breakfast in bed, nothing says I love you more than a few flowers from the garden and a yummy breakfast made by you and the kids. Check out this post on Hallmark.com with 32 Mother’s Day recipe ideas.
              2. Buy something to delight her senses and enable some relaxation. Ideas include her favorite lotion, a beautiful smelling candle, bath salts, a yummy smelling body scrub, or even perfume. It does not have to be expensive just something thoughtful then make sure you facilitate some “her” time so she can use whatever you chose to buy for her. Many of these items can be found at inexpensive places like Marshalls, TJ Max or Ross.
              3. If you are the adventurous type and feel comfortable giving your wife a manicure, pedicure, or massage go for it! Bonus points!

              Show her you care

              1. Take some time to think about some of your favorite memories with Mom. On Mother’s Day, spend some time with her remembering and talking about those special memories. Let her know how important those memories are to your life today.
              2. Just think about all the times your mom and/or wife has cleaned up after you and /or the kids over the years. What a wonderful surprise if you hired a cleaning crew or just you and the kids cleaned your house and/or your mother’s house. If you do it yourself this will cost you nothing but the time to make it happen.
              3. Create your own custom fortune cookie with a special message for mom, no cooking necessary! Just watch this short video from Datevitation a great website on how to have fun together. Click here for the step-by-step video.
              4. Have kids? Create this special craft from our friends at Hallmark it will be sure to melt your wife’s heart!

              The traditional stuff

              1. Flowers, interestingly enough studies show that flowers give women a mood boost that lasts up to several days. They don’t need to be roses. Most grocery stores and roadside stands have beautiful alternatives to roses at a much smaller price tag. If you have a Costco near by they always have a gorgeous selection for less.
              2. Chocolates and a small jewelry item, it does not need to be expensive. Most women prefer costume jewelry over fine jewelry these days because they are stylish and vibrant in color.
              3. Date night, dinner, movies, miniature golf, bowling or something else you don’t normally do on a regular basis.
              4. Plan a special outdoor picnic in her favorite nature spot, park, lake, or the ocean if you live near it. It’s a great family activity and a way to create new memories. If you have kids you can get them involved in the planning and execution of the special meal.

              These are just a few budget saving ideas … to get you started! Mother’s day is a special time of year. It’s a time to honor, say thanks by loving and cherishing those that raised us and/or are in the midst of raising your kids. Have a cool idea, or maybe you tried one of these ideas? Let us know … be sure to share your experience with us! You never know, we may feature your story in our next client newsletter!!

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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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