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9 Basic Steps to Buy Your First Home

Details: Key Takeaways. Make sure your finances are in order before you take the first step toward buying your first home. Pay off debt, and establish emergency savings. Do your homework to learn about all the available loan types, then compare their terms to determine which is best for you. Get preapproved for a mortgage loan so you have a good idea

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Step-By-Step Guide to Make a Personal Budget

Details: If you have a variable income (for example, from a seasonal or freelance job), consider using the income from your lowest-earning month in the past year as your baseline income when you set up your budget. 3. Create a List of Monthly Expenses. Write down a list of all the expenses you expect to have during a month.

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How to Write a Check: A Step-by-Step Guide

Details: Do this by starting at the far left edge of the space, and draw a line after the last digit. For example, if your check is for $8.15, put the “8” as far to the left as possible. Then, draw a line from the right side of the “5” to the end of the space or write the numbers so large that it’s hard to add any numbers.

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How to Read Your Credit Report

Details: Your credit report contains a wealth of information about your financial history and actions. If you have credit or loan accounts, those accounts and how you pay them, are included in your credit report. It’s important to review your credit report at least once a year so you know what your creditors are saying about you.

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How to Contest a Will

Details: The will is a do-it-yourself will: When someone writes their own will, some of the legal formalities required to make it valid may have been overlooked.Another common problem with a DIY will is that it may not address all of the "what ifs" that could happen. If a situation occurs that isn't laid out in the will, you may be able to make a successful case against the will's validity.

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How to Calculate Monthly Payments for Loans

Details: Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on banking. He covers banking basics, checking, saving, loans, and mortgages. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to writing about personal finance for nearly two decades.

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How to Calculate Your Modified Adjusted Gross Income

Details: Your AGI is the total amount of income you make in a year, minus certain expenses that you are allowed to deduct. 5. Adjusted gross income is your taxable income for the year, so it is what your income tax bill is based on. There are two steps to finding your AGI. First, it includes all your income sources, such as: 6.

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How to Find Foreclosures and Government-Seized Homes

Details: Elizabeth Weintraub is a homebuying, home loans, and mortgages expert. With more than 40 years of experience in real estate, including areas such as title and escrow, Elizabeth was nominated as a founding member of the California Association of REALTORS' Real Estate Certificate Institute (RECI) and has received more than 600 hours or real estate education.

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Should You Fix Up Your Home or Sell It As Is

Details: Elizabeth Weintraub is a homebuying, home loans, and mortgages expert. With more than 40 years of experience in real estate, including areas such as title and escrow, Elizabeth was nominated as a founding member of the California Association of REALTORS' Real Estate Certificate Institute (RECI) and has received more than 600 hours or real estate education.

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How to Officially Become a Florida Resident

Details: The Florida "Declaration of Domicile" is a document that allows you to declare that you're a bona fide resident of Florida. It states that you reside in and maintain a place of residence in the state. You intend to maintain the residence as your permanent home. You must declare in the document whether you also maintain another place or places

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Effectively Track Expenses and Stick to a Budget

Details: Record Your Expenses Throughout the Day. Next, you will need to take time each day to record your expenses. As you record each expense in a category, you will need to keep a running total of how much you have left in that category. Simply subtract the amount you spent from the current total and record the answer.

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How to Pay Your Bills Online (Simplify Your Finances)

Details: To make an online payment, you will need to set up a profile to pay the bill in your bank's online portal. Then when the time comes to make a payment, you will select the one-time payment option, click on the profile of the bill you are paying, and enter in the amount. Be sure to record the transaction number the bank gives you as a receipt.

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Direct Deposit: How It Works and How to Set It Up

Details: Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on banking. He covers banking basics, checking, saving, loans, and mortgages. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to …

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How to Tell If Your Bank Is Safe or in Trouble

Details: Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on banking. He covers banking basics, checking, saving, loans, and mortgages. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to …

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Here’s How You Should Invest at Every Age

Details: If you haven’t begun saving in your employer’s retirement plan, start now. If you’ve been investing in the 401 (k), strive to contribute the maximum of $19,500 per year. 5  If you start at age 40 and hit the maximum $19,500 annual target, then with a 6% annual return you could reach a million-dollar nest egg by age 64.

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How to Sign Up and Use Your COBRA Insurance

Details: How to Sign Up for COBRA Coverage. Employers must inform those who are qualified about COBRA eligibility within 14 days of a qualifying event. They then have 60 days to elect coverage. Each beneficiary can decide for themself whether they want to sign up for COBRA, or if they want to waive the option. Anyone who waives COBRA can later revoke

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How to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

Details: How to link your accounts: Log in to the account you plan to send money from, and look for an option to “add an account,” “add external accounts,” or “link accounts.”. You might find those options (or something similar) in your bank’s Customer Service or Transfers menu. Provide the other bank’s routing number and your account

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How the Social Security Benefits Calculation Works

Details: How Is Social Security Calculated? There is a three-step process used to calculate the amount of Social Security benefits you will receive. Step 1: Use your earnings history to calculate your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). Step 2: Use your AIME to …

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How To Pay Off Old Debt

Details: Credit counselors can review your budget and financial situation to help you choose a realistic strategy for how to pay off debt in collections. They can also help you create a debt management plan through which you make a single payment to the credit counselor each month. The credit counselor then distributes the payment among your creditors.

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How To Cancel a Pending Transaction

Details: A pending transaction will affect the amount of credit or funds you have available. Canceling a pending transaction usually requires contacting the merchant who made the charge. Once a pending transaction has posted, contact your bank or card issuer to dispute it.

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How to Add Someone Else's Name to Your Deed

Details: Prepare a New Deed to Avoid Probate. Ideally, you won't just "add" your child's name to your existing deed. You'll create a new deed with a group of owners, perhaps you, your spouse, and your child. You'll become joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If you simply add your child's name to your existing deed, he won't necessarily have

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Learn How to Verify a Check Before Depositing

Details: How to Verify Funds. If you’re holding onto a check that’s suspect, you can try to verify funds in the account. To do so, contact the bank that the check is drawn on and ask to verify funds. Some banks, in the interest of privacy, will only tell you whether or not the account is valid, or they will not provide any information at all. 3 .

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How to Set Up a Health Savings Account (HSA)

Details: A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a special type of tax-free savings account that you can use to save money for medical expenses when you are enrolled in a qualified high deductible health care plan. Health Savings Accounts have many benefits and can double as a savings vessel for you if you do not use the money in the plan for medical expenses.

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How to Invest in the Thrift Savings Plan: TSP Funds

Details: Government employees receive an automatic contribution of 1% of pay. From there, matching funds can be received on contributions up to 5% of pay. Here's how the TSP match formula works: 3 . Automatic 1% agency contribution. Dollar-for-dollar match on …

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How to Get a Loan from a Bank

Details: Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on banking. He covers banking basics, checking, saving, loans, and mortgages. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to …

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Bank Wires: How to Send or Receive Funds

Details: Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on banking. He covers banking basics, checking, saving, loans, and mortgages. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to …

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10 Best Ways Retirees Could Live Well on Less

Details: Having flex money rather than strict categories works well for many. For example, you may have a pool of $1,000 to spend per month. If you need new tires that month. that may use up a portion. That means other "extras" like that new TV will have to wait until a …

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10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Details: Make minimum payments on other cards, and use any leftover funds toward the high-interest card. When you pay off that card, move to the next-highest APR card and repeat. 16. The snowball method requires you to make minimum payments on every card, every month.

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How to Retire By Age 50

Details: The bottom line is: if you're willing to do what few other people are for a few years (save a whopping 75% of what you make), you can achieve something that few others will (financial independence at a young age). 1. In addition to saving a lot of money, there are a few other practical considerations to keep in mind if you want to retire at 50.

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The Basics of Budgeting and Saving Money

Details: For example, you could consider structuring your plan according to the 50-20-30 rule. Under this approach to budgeting, you spend: 50% of your after-tax income on housing, food and other necessities. 20% on paying down debt or increasing savings. 30% …

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How to Calculate Your Projected Social Security Benefit

Details: In calculating your monthly retirement benefit, the SSA considers your highest-earning 35 years of work history. If you worked for less than 35 years, the SSA will use zero for some years. 4. The higher your earnings over those 35 years, the greater your contribution to the program through FICA taxes, and the higher your benefit will be.

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Family Loans: How to Borrow and Lend With Family

Details: Basics of Family Loans. A family loan, sometimes known as an intra-family loan, is any loan between family members. It can be used by one family member to lend money to or borrow it from another or as a means of wealth transfer—the purpose doesn’t matter. 1  It’s just a loan that does not use a bank, a credit union, or another

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How to Pick the Best Listing Agent to Sell Your Home

Details: Elizabeth Weintraub is a homebuying, home loans, and mortgages expert. With more than 40 years of experience in real estate, including areas such as title and escrow, Elizabeth was nominated as a founding member of the California Association of REALTORS' Real Estate Certificate Institute (RECI) and has received more than 600 hours or real estate education.

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How to Cut Insurance Costs by Self-Insuring

Details: Self-insuring is a way to reduce your insurance costs by not paying someone else like an insurance company to cover your back if something goes wrong. You can do this by: Having enough money to cover your losses in savings and assets. Deciding to build up a self-insurance reserve or an emergency fund. A self-insurance fund is a stash of cash

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9 Ways to Know You Found the Right House

Details: Maybe you want to call the moving company now. Be realistic in your fervor to have the house. Don't be tempted to slide outside your budget and the housing expenses it can reasonably accommodate. Check out the schools if you have children, and consider how long it would to take you to commute to work.

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How to Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Details: Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward paying your debt. It's important not to confuse your debt-to-income ratio with your credit utilization, which represents the amount of debt you have relative to your credit card and line of credit limits.

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How to Obtain a Copy of a Deceased Person's Will

Details: It's important to realize, that not all wills succeed in governing the distribution of a deceased person's property. This can happen if all of the deceased person's property consists of non-probate assets, such as joint deeds and accounts, TOD and POD accounts, life insurance and retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. In cases like these, the deceased person's property would pass

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How to Use 72(t) Payments for Early IRA Withdrawals

Details: The Substantially Equal Periodic Payment rule allows you to take money out of an IRA before the age of 59 1/2. It also lets you avoid the 10% penalty tax.This approach is also called 72(t) payments because the rule falls under IRS code section 72(t). These payments are …

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How to Negotiate Credit Card Debt

Details: If you want to negotiate with a credit card company, the process usually begins with a phone call. However, it may require long conversations with multiple people over days or weeks. Before you call, make sure you know exactly how much you owe, what your interest rate is, and any other important account details.

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How to Buy a Foreclosure or REO

Details: An as-is purchase: You will likely be asked to buy the home "as is," and it may or may not be in good shape. Make your offer subject to a home inspection. 9. A waiting game: You could find yourself waiting a while when dealing with the bank. After prequalifying for a loan, you might be kept waiting for 10 days for the bank to respond to your offer.

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50, 62, 70: Strategies for Early (or Late) Retirement

Details: How to Retire at 62. U.S. Census Bureau data suggests that 63 is the average retirement age in the U.S. 5 This makes sense, as 62 is the earliest age you can start collecting your own Social Security retirement benefits. 6. Be careful of claiming Social Security benefits right away.

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How to Negotiate Real Estate Commissions

Details: If the agent closes two deals a month at $150,000, they would make around $25.86 an hour (two payments of $2,70), or around $2,900 per month after withholding. Real estate agents work today for the possibility of pay two months later. If your agent seems frazzled or stressed at times, they are probably trying to set up income for the following

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A Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent

Details: The best real estate agent is an experienced professional who listens to your concerns and knows their market. That person might not necessarily work at the largest brokerage, close the most transactions, or make the most money. Real estate professionals have a saying that 20% of the agents do 80% of the business.

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How to Pay No Taxes on Your Dividends or Capital Gains

Details: Individuals earning a taxable income of $39,376–$434,550, and married couples earning $78,751–$488,850 pay 15% in federal taxes on their dividend income. Individuals earning $434,551 or more and married couples earning $488,851 or more pay 20%. There is also an additional 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT) for individuals earning more

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How to Invest in Foreign Currency

Details: A large and liquid market: The foreign exchange market averages daily trading volume in excess of $6 trillion.; Diversification: The foreign exchange market offers investors a way to diversify away from the potential risks of trading currencies through exchange-traded funds.; Trading hours: The foreign exchange market operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, which offers more trading time

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How to Reduce or Even Eliminate Your Death Tax Bill

Details: As of 2020, you can give away up to $15,000 without reducing the estate exemption. As a result, giving away gifts of $15,000 or less per year is a great way to reduce the value of your estate without reducing your estate exemption. However, keep in mind that gifts given are generally taxable to the giver (on form 709), not to the recipient.

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