Category: Financial Matters

2023 Tax Return Changes & Tips

Tax Day 15th April Circled on a white calendar to illustrate blog post on 2023 tax return changes & tips

If, like me, you’re preparing to file your 2023 tax return, there are things you should know before you sign on the bottom line.  Most important, the deadline is Monday, April 15, 2024. And whether you do your taxes by hand, use software, or hire a professional, you’ll need to gather tax related income and expense documents and receipts. Of course, the best source of tax information is the Internal Revenue Service itself. But here are some 2023 tax return changes and tips to keep in mind while digging through your files. I hope they will make working on your returns a little less taxing (bad pun intended.) 2023 Tax Return Changes While reading through the IRS site for changes I found this announcement: “The IRS will end unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers.” Whew! I didn’t know they could make surprise visits.  But I’m glad they finally came to their senses. Here are some other changes for 2023. For more information see IRS 2023 Tax Changes. Income Tax Brackets 37% for single taxpayers with incomes greater than $578,125 ($693,750 for married couples filing jointly) 35% for incomes over $231,250 ($462,500 for married couples filing jointly) 32% for […]

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Time to Refinance the Mortgage?

time to refinance the mortgage?

Deciding whether to refinance your mortgage is more than a matter of “rates are down let’s do it.” Unless you do the homework, refinancing can actually cost more in the long run. I refinanced in 2018. Rates have dropped, but in my case refinancing now doesn’t make sense. Here are some tips and links to help you decide if this is a good time to refinance your mortgage. And if it is, how to do it efficiently, saving both time and money. 1. Things to know before you start Mortgage terminology. Find definitions of key terms at Things to consider before refinancing. See the article at Warning: Do not click on ads offering “free” mortgage refinance calculators. See #2, below. How long you plan to stay in your home. Tip: If you plan to sell in one or two years, refinancing probably doesn’t make sense. Your current loan terms, monthly payment, balance and interest rate. Tip: Unless interest rates are at least half a percent less, refinancing probably isn’t worth the cost. Estimated value of your home. See for a rough estimate based on similar homes nearby. Not totally reliable, but better than paying an appraiser at […]

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Will Money Management Software Help?

Woman needs help from money management softeware

When I was young and single I didn’t need money management software. (It’s a good thing, because there wasn’t any such thing!) As the years passed, along came the husband, the children, the house, the dual incomes, multiple bank accounts and, yes, eventually, investments. I was the chief budget manager and financial record keeper for our household, so when the first personal money management software appeared, I was an early adopter. Most families will benefit in many ways. Financial software takes time to set up, but the benefits are worth it. It’s not too late in the year to set up money management software. When it’s time to file your tax returns next year, you’ll be glad you did. Also, if couples share access and data entry, both will know where things stand at any given time. Depending on which software you choose, here’s how money management programs can help: Create and track a budget Balance bank accounts Keep tabs on credit card balances Pay bills electronically Print checks Calculate your net worth Plan for retirement Monitor investment portfolios Print reports Keep tax related data and export it into tax preparation software Which software works for you? There are many money […]

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Curious About Cryptocurrencies?

about cryptocurrencies

I’ve been curious about “cryptocurrencies” since they appeared in 2009. But until recently I wasn’t sure what they were. I don’t think I’m alone. I wanted to add an “About cryptocurrencies” link to the “Financial Matters” category at HabiLinks, my web  guide, so I did some research. Wow! Cryptocurrencies are complicated. I’m still not an expert. And I’m not ready to use them myself. But there is growing interest in these financial tools and they seem to be here to stay. Here are some basic things to know about cryptocurrencies. What are cryptocurrencies? Cryptocurrencies are forms of digital currency that use cryptology (code) to conduct financial transactions. Transactions are sent and received directly between buyers and sellers without the need for intermediaries like banks. The first cryptocurrencies were introduced in 2009. Since then many more types have become available. Some of the most popular are Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Ripple. You may see images of  “bitcoins,” but don’t be mislead. The coins shown  are  just visual representations of the digital currency concept or novelty items. They have no digital value. How to get them You can buy and sell cryptocurrencies through online platforms or exchanges. Coinbase is one of the […]

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Credit Cards That Pay You Back

credit cards

Because there are countless credit cards to choose from, they offer all kinds of perks to entice you. But offers are confusing at best and can be misleading if you don’t read the fine print. If you’re thinking of applying for a new credit card, get one that earns its keep with offers that fit your lifestyle.   Things to know before applying for new credit cards. Check your credit score free at Apply for one card at a time. Applying for more could affect your credit score. To avoid affecting your credit score, don’t cancel the credit card you’re replacing. Just stop using it. Decide which features and benefits fit your lifestyle. Cash back rewards Check for easy redemption, cash back limit or expiration, bonus categories. Interest rates If you carry a balance, beware of introductory APR vs. the eventual rate. Travel perks May include miles, baggage check, upgrades, airport lounge fees, etc.. Bonus for new account Check the bonus amount and spend requirements. Annual fee If there is one, make sure perks cover the cost. Late fees If you have trouble paying on time, these can be enormous. Balance transfer offers If you plan to transfer a […]

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