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How to Get Your Home to Save You Money

Posted on Jan 31, 2013 with No comments

Jan 31, 2013

There are many ways in which your home can end up saving you money this year; from creating long term savings by making important renovations to your home, through to cutting down on your day to day energy and water use, your property can help to generate some financial flexibility. At the same time, selling old and unused items, making small repairs, and considering a refinanced mortgage, can also create the potential for short and long term savings.


Cost Saving Renovations 


A good option if you want to take a long term approach to making savings through your home, some select renovations can result in an increased valuation for your home, and reduced energy bills; these approaches can include re-insulating windows and doors to trap heat, as well as replacing older appliances with more eco friendly versions. Moreover, it’s possible to boost energy retention through high tech window blinds, and by adapting spare bathrooms into waterproof wet rooms.


Cutting Down on Energy and Water Use 


The New Year can be an excellent time to compare your energy providers, and to work out if you’re getting the best deal for your money. Some providers will offer cash back schemes that will allow you to maintain your home’s usual energy usage, but with the bonus of generating some short term cash, and the prospect of better rates. Making use of energy and water meters to break down your costs for the year can also encourage a more efficient approach to heating and supplying your property with power.
 

Selling Items 


The start of the year is also a good time to be ruthless about what you need to hang onto around your home, and what can be sold on to make a profit; this means de-cluttering rooms, and seeing whether or not old mobile phones and other electronic items can be sold for their precious metals. Other options include selling bulk loads of books and DVDs online, pawnbroking jewelry, and exchanging foreign currency from holidays.


Making Repairs 


A series of small changes around your home can add up to significant costs over time, making your home more energy efficient and less likely to incur damages. Some typical changes and repairs that you can make to your property include checking for leaking taps and for problems with the structure of your roof. Wiring fixtures should also be inspected, while cracks around window frames and doors should be tested to see whether you need to make major renovations.

Refinancing Your Mortgage 


The equity you’ve built up in your home can be tapped into by exploring options for refinancing your mortgage; in most cases, this means gaining a better set of repayment terms that offer long term, fixed rate interest, or options for cash back. Getting onto a good mortgage rate will save you money in the short term by spreading the cost of your home over a much greater period of time. Shop around for the best options for your property, and be careful not to refinance without getting some major incentives from a lender.
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Can you Eliminate Your Student Loan Debt with 529 Plans?

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 with No comments

Jan 21, 2013

The family members of the college students can take advantage of the 529 plans to pay off the student loan debts. Under section 529 plans, the parents of the college students can manage to save money to pay off debt. It is beneficial to save under this plan because the money grows tax deferred. Therefore, the contribution to the 529 plans is considered as tax deductible. If you withdraw the fund to pay off debt incurred due to default on student loan payment, then it is completely tax free. But you may not be able withdraw fund tax free on all education related expenses. So, you need to acquire more information on this program.


What are qualified educational expenses? 


The Internal Revenue Service has a wide definition for education related expenses, especially while handing out Section 529 tax papers. Under Section 529 plans, you can manage to withdraw fund related to college tuition, stationary and boarding expenses. The main purpose for designing the program is to help the family to pay college cost in the year when the expenses incurred. However, the college loan payment is not considered as qualified educational expenses as per the IRS.


How can you use 529 plans to pay off the student loan debt?


You can take benefit of the tax free withdrawal from a 529 plan, only if you use the fund directly to pay for money used for your higher education expenses or repay a loan in the same year you took out the loan. In any other circumstances, you may not get the tax break on the withdrawal and you may incur penalty of 10% on the withdrawal of the fund.


Are you aware of other education deductions?


Remember, you can avail tax deduction on the interest on a qualified student loan. In certain cases, some college expenses are deductible as well. According to the IRS rule, you can manage to deduct the cost of tuition, fees, books and etc.


What are tax credits?


Try to find out whether you’re eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. You can manage to get tax credit worth 100% of the first $2,000 of qualified educational expenses. You may get additional 25% of the next $2,000 in qualified expenses; you can get $2,500 per student per tax year. You can avail the benefit for the first four years of a college education. But students in the second bachelor's degree are not eligible.

Therefore, you need to keep the above mentioned criteria in mind when you plan to use 529 plans to pay off debt.



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13 Top tips to Survive college on a Limited budget

Posted on Jan 17, 2013 with No comments

Jan 17, 2013

After one completes school and enters into college, the real feel would be “I have grown up”. But, the real challenge is when you start surviving on your own. Money given by parents or earned through an internship can be a good source but managing expenses within limited budget is not as easy as it sounds. But hey, don’t worry, you can try following these 13 tips to survival and also have fun whilst in college:

1. Create a budget and manage your expenses according to the budget. House rent (if you are staying away from home), food bills, fuel costs and all other costs should be included in your budget. Be thrifty with your spending. Procure only important items that are really necessary.

2. Occasional lunch or dinner outside can be good but cooking with a date or bringing friends and cooking yourself can save lots of bucks; it may not cost you more at all.

3. Ask your friend to share the meal cost if you are going out together or in groups; sharing always makes costs less.

4. You can buy things from a grocery store that puts a sale or sells for less, of course don’t compromise on the quality.

5. If you are going out, try using free space or park your car at a friend’s place to save some money.

6. Taking a public transport can often be cheap and also the best way to know more places you haven’t been before.

7. Use the Online banking facility to track your bank account spending on a regular basis. It is advisable to check such accounts at definite intervals to know how much you spent and how much is left.

8. See that you don’t use laundry more frequently (no point if you are changing clothes 4 times a day); you can save some coins from that too.

9. While buying new clothes try to get in from a resale or a discount sale; these will be less than your usual bill.

10. Shopping from departmental stores instead of boutiques or chain stores too can be a good purchase as you can get things for less cost.

11. Part-time jobs can be a good option for earning some extra money. Various restaurant chains offer part-time jobs to students. Alternately, you can also try the option of home tuition to children studying in lower standards.

12. Keep your credit card usage to the minimum. Avoid its usage for any and every reason. This can reduce your credit card bills as well as interest incurred by its usage, which can save you much money, that can be used for other essential purposes.

13. Pay your bills on time. Many people, usually students forget about their bill payment time and spend more by way of interest piled up due to late payments. Sometimes, you may not have the required money to pay your bills, at such times you can take a payday loan for repaying them.

About the Guest Author:
My name is Katie. I am a tech writer from UK. I am into Finance. Catch me @financeport

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Student Loan Debt is Crushing Our College Graduates - Infographic

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 with No comments

Jan 15, 2013

The coming student loan disaster that is coming is going to effect the economy in a very negative way. Already the default rate of paying back massive sums of money by recently graduated students is staggering. They don't have the income to pay back the loans because companies are just not hiring. It's a gamble when you take student loans. Your betting that you will finish college. get a well paying job, and have nothing go wrong in your life. Ask your parents because they will tell you life always goes the way we plan it.




Our appreciation to Collegestats.org for their sharing this infographic.

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5 Things to Know Before You Start Repaying a Student Loan

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 with No comments

Jan 13, 2013

National Center for Educational Statistics, 20.2 million students enrolled in colleges in 2012. Overall, around 41% of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college, and an additional 507,000 students were attending non-degree institutions of higher learning.

We know that success comes with higher education. Having a higher education degree means, you are able to fulfill all your dreams. Nevertheless, what can be the reason, for which the number of college attendees every year is so less.

In America, the college fees are too high and it becomes almost impossible to afford higher education, especially for the mediocre families. Between 2001 and 2010, the cost of a university education soared from 23% to 38%, as per the statistics. Therefore, you can guess why students drop their education after school and opt for some vocational training.

In this case, most of the student who has high career aims opt for student loans in order to pursue their dreams. However, if you take a student loan, keep in mind that you need to repay them.

Loans are associated with pains. It is the pain of debt. If you are unable to repay the student loan on time, then you get under heavy debts. If you are under the pressure of a heavy debt just at the beginning of your career, then it looks like big hurdles in the path of success.

Ref: (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that student debt passed $1 trillion. It grew by $300 billion from third quarter of 2008 and other forms of debt shrank by $1.6 trillion, according to tabulation by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.)

Which image clicks your mind after reading the above stat? - Pair of balls and chains, closet full of white T’s?? They are big nightmares to all those who are under debts.

Once you are able to complete higher education, then you have to start repaying the amount you borrowed. However, before you do it, research the options available to you and figure out a plan.
If you apply for a student loan then make sure that you have the following information:

  • How shall you repay the loan if it gets out of control? 
  • How shall you get rid of the high interest? 
  • How shall you consolidate into a single loan if you have a multiple number of loans?

So, get some good suggestions on student before you start repaying the student loan.
5 Surefire Methods to Know before Starting the Repayment of Student Loan


1. Speculate the Post-Grad Life


If you are going to opt for a student loan for your studies, then do a little research before you apply. First, you need to have a cost benefit analysis of the degree you are going to earn. Do consider lateral things like, interest rates, potential salary after graduation and expectation from the job market in your field. From that, you can imagine the career picture of your after-graduate life.

2. Know Your Grace Periods


If you borrow a Stafford Loan, then the grace period will be 6-months (after you finish off your graduation, leave school or drop the course before you start repaying your loan). Remember, this is not similar to the private loans, which do not have a grace period at all. If you borrow private loans to finance your higher studies, then you need to start repaying as soon as you finish of your college.

3. Consolidating Your Loan


Consolidation of loan helps to combine the student loans into one single loan, which have a single monthly payment. This will help you to lower the payment option and the interest rate. At the same time this options stretches out the payment term and could end up costing more at the end.

4. Consider the Interest Rates


Federal loans most of the time comes with lower interest rates than the private ones. And this is the reason, for which it makes sense to pay more money towards the private loans and get rid of them in the beginning.

5. Have a Repayment Plan


Until you inform the provider will automatically enroll you in their standard repayment plan this is a plan that needs regular payment for a fixed time. If you go for other repayment plans, then do read the fine print. The Graduated Repayment Plan may be beneficial to you if your salary is low and there are expectations of a raise in next few years.

Universities are of the opinion that the value of a degree cannot be reduced to an economic number. And don’t you think that it is some what cynical. The main reason universities have been able to increase their revenue so much is because of loans given to students based on what they are told they will one day earn.


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A Brief History Of Tax

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 with No comments

Jan 9, 2013

Tax is a reliable part of most people’s lives, and something that, while never exactly loved, is taken for granted as part of the work year. From income tax to international tax, how we give away our money to the Government has a profound impact on our access to public services, and to the political motivation behind raising or lowering taxes. In this context, it’s worth briefly reviewing the history of tax, from how it was initially used, to its particular development within the UK to the present.

The Origins of Tax


Early forms of taxation, represented by levies made on goods and wealth by rulers, can be found in Ancient Egypt. Pharaohs imposed particular taxes on materials like cooking oil, and used taxation as a way of asserting control over merchants and the spread of wealth within their empire. A similar approach was taken in Ancient Greece through the Eisphora, which was predominantly levied as a temporary tax during wartime. Anyone paying tax would receive a refund following a victorious campaign. In Ancient Rome, tax became one of the ways of reaping the benefits of the Empire and citizenry, from customs and excise, through to imposing inheritance tax to support military families, and sales taxes. The more formalized, but also frequently abusive taxes made on Roman colonies, particularly in Britain, were the source of rebellions between the Romans and their subjects.


In Britain, the Roman use of taxes was revived by the Anglo-Saxons through the Saxon Danegold, which was made on land and property. It’s important to note, though, that only the very wealthy or merchants with extensive trading systems were subject to taxation. With the poor and serfs excluded, tax revolts came from noble rebels affronted by what they viewed as unfair taxes for wartime missions. The controversy surrounding efforts to impose consistent income taxes largely relegated taxes to emergency measures for wartime and colonial expansion until the 19th century, when the costs of running the British Empire, and the Industrial Revolution, helped standardize new tax systems.


Debates over income tax and emergency tax were key factors in the 1800s, from the controversial Corn Laws, imposed as a means of raising the price of domestic goods, through to tax on stamps. The duties demanded on imports and exports in Colonial America had already contributed to revolutionary action during the 18th century. To this end, income tax remained relatively small in terms of who it covered, although Government deficits by the turn of the 20th century meant that the Treasury had to increasingly depend on taxing citizens.


World War One produced new spikes in emergency taxes, while the Income Tax Act of 1918 looked towards setting up more standardized taxation - bodies like the Inland Revenue, and Customs and Excise departments, were also well established by the 1910s. World War II marked another turning point for raising revenue, with income tax rates reaching 41 per cent of earnings over £50,000 at one point. PAYE taxes were introduced in 1944 as a way of collecting income tax from wages, with everyone receiving a tax code - this was initially limited to anyone earning over £100 a year - about £3000 today.


New tax measures, and the settling of income tax through PAYE, was joined in the post-war era by National Insurance, pensions, and the expansion of the welfare state, with more tax credits and changes to personal allowance bands. International tax laws were also developed to facilitate foreign exchanges and sales, while Corporation and Capital Taxes were introduced by the 1960s, as was VAT in 1973. Today, the British tax system continues to be a vital political and economic tool, with the Conservative Government reducing taxes and cutting public spending, and the status of tax bands and business allowances affecting international changes and the cost of living for everyone.



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The Best Credit Cards for Students in 2013

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There was a time when student credit cards were pretty average. Actually, 'average' is being nice; they were...not good.

Student credit cards of old had jacked-up interest fees, next-to-nothing in terms of rewards, and they really didn't offer incentives for young cardholders to learn how to use credit responsibly.

The good news for students is that's all changed, and student credit cards today are actually some of the most coveted on the market. And in an age of stagnant lending, establishing credit early is more of a priority than ever, giving college students all the more incentive to apply for a credit card.

So, which credit cards for students are worth applying for? Here are the best of the best in 2013.

Discover it™ Card for Students


Discover's newest credit card for students is one of the very best available today. Combining a great rewards program with next-to-nothing in fees, the Discover it Card for Students bills itself as one of the most flexible around.

Cardholders will enjoy a 0% intro period of nine months in which they'll pay no interest on purchases. Students can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories – including entertainment and dining out through March, 2013 – and they'll earn another 1% on all other purchases made.
This credit card is particular generous to college students learning how to use credit responsibly; they'll waive the first late payment fee ($35 thereafter), and allow students to choose their own due date and allow up to midnight EST to pay online or by phone. The ongoing APR variable is one of the lowest available to students (12.99%-18.99%) and there's no annual fee. This is one of the best available credit cards for students in the near year – especially for those interested in cash back rewards.

Journey (SM) Student Rewards from Capital One®


The most important feature that makes this Capital One card for students stand out from the rest is that they'll reward on-time payments with a cash back bonus each month. That's right – simply for making a payment on-time, Capital One will give you a 25% bonus of the cash back you earned that month.

Another reason this credit card is great for building credit is that it includes access to your credit score at no additional charge. That way, students can track their progress as they build credit over time. They'll even alert you via email and text when a payment due date is approaching, so there's really no excuse for missing a payment.

While the rewards program on this student credit card isn't as lucrative as the aforementioned Discover card, cardholders will still earn a full 1% on cash back purchases, and points never expire. The only other draw-back is that there's no intro period, either.

However, there's also no annual fee, so all of the credit-building tools attached to this card are essentially free. This makes the Journey Rewards Card another great option for college students hoping to improve their credit score early.

Citi Dividend Card for College Students


Lastly, this student credit card from Citi is similar to the aforementioned cards because of its excellent rewards program. Like the Discover it™ Card for Students, members can earn 5% cash back on rotating categories, and 1% on all other purchases. There is a cap ($300) on the number of Dividend Dollars® you can earn per year, however

There's no co-signor required with this student credit card, either, and the 0% intro period of seven months applies to purchases. However, you may become ineligible for the intro period if you miss a payment – don't do this! And like the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One, cardholders will be privy to some useful credit building tools that make understanding credit easier.

Overall, each of the three credit cards for college students listed above can go a LONG way towards building credit early. And since an established credit history and good credit are imperative for getting low interest rates in your 20's and 30's, there's no better time than the present to apply for a credit card if you're a student.

Trust us when we say you'll save tons on interest in later years the earlier you begin building your credit.
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10 Top Jobs That Don't Need a College Education

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 with No comments

Jan 6, 2013

It's amazing that only five of the top 30 jobs that are predicted to be in top demand require a college education. Ten of these jobs do not require any post high school education. Out of the top 10 fastest growing job market, only one needs a college education.

Between 2010 and 2020, it's estimated that the total number of U.S. jobs will increase by 20.4 million, from 143 million in 2010 to 163.5 million by 2020. The number of jobs created this decade in the top 30 fastest growing occupations – 9.3 million – will represent almost half of all of the new jobs created by 2020.

With the total amount of loan debt carried by college graduates now exceeding $1 trillion and the poor outlook for finding jobs, the next generation of college age students should think twice about a college education. In the past, we have heavily sold the notion that you couldn't earn a good income unless you attended college for four years. That notion is being turned on its head. There is such a glut of college graduates vying for a fixed number of jobs in a poor economy that many positions in growing industries are going unfilled.

Top 10 occupations expected to create the most jobs this decade



Those that have a college education find that there is greater competition for the jobs available. This forces many students to continue their education and try to achieve higher post graduate degrees like a doctoral degree. With the high cost of college tuition exceeding the budgets of many families, it's good to see that jobs that are in demand will will need little or no education costs.



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Reducing the Pressure of Your Student Loans

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 with No comments

Jan 3, 2013

One of the biggest complaints of college graduates is the longevity of the student loans for their education. A great deal of people have no choice but to invest in their continued education in order to provide a better lifestyle for themselves and quite possibly a family later on. These loans could seem to drag on forever. There are a few things you can do in order to reduce the burden of these loans and alleviate this cause of stress in your life.

1. Increased Payments - By tightening your belt a bit, you can submit double monthly payments to your lender in order to reduce the time it takes you to pay the loan. However, not everyone can manage these payments. Depending on your lender, you could add a few more dollars to each payment to help reduce the principle amount without payoff penalties.

2. Debt Consolidation - For debts that are not cumulative, consolidation could help reduce your overall monthly payment. Instead of having several debtors collecting money from you, it would be one debtor with an overall lower total payment you'd be making. For instance, if you had $800 in monthly payments spread across five debtors, a consolidation could reduce that monthly amount to $500 to one debtor. Of course, this is also dependent on the lender and the terms of the loan.

3. Grants - For students who are currently in school or are planning to go, grants don't have to be for the sports minded or academically acclaimed. There is a wide variety of grants available to all walks of life to help pay for your education. The more grants you can accumulate, the less your student loans will be. In fact, it is quite possible for grants to pay for your entire college education. However, there are obligations and rules to each grant that you must adhere to; otherwise, you could wind up paying back the grant.

4. Eliminating Expenses - As with any budget, eliminating your expenses can help you afford to pay your student loans. This could come in a variety of ways including getting a roommate to share the household burden, eliminate or reduce creature comforts such as cable TV and eating out, or perhaps taking a closer look at what state assistance programs are available to help you.

5. Increase Your Income - Everyone would like to increase their income. Getting a second job that works you part-time could give you additional income to pay your bills. This doesn't have to be at a job you hate as the Internet is full of organizations looking to pay people for part-time work in a variety of fields.

Although student loans can be very troublesome, they are a fact of life for many. You shouldn't let your fear of debt keep you from developing an education and getting a degree in your field of study. With a smart budget and determination, you can manage your debt and your life without having to sacrifice the things you love in the process.


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