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Jump Starting Smart Tax Planning For 2015

Most Americans who file taxes go for the standard tax deductions which are based on your age, income and filing status. The actual deduction often changes from year to year. For 2014 the average tax return was $6200 for singles and married people who opted to file separately, and up to $12,400 for married people filing jointly. Yet some people choose to itemize or for whatever reasons are not eligible for the typical standard deductions. If you fall into this category you need to maximize every single advantage you have because every deduction matters when it comes to getting the best tax return possible.

If you itemize and reside in a state that has no income tax, namely Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, then you can deduct your state tax. If you live in any other state you too have options, you can deduct either your state and local sales taxes, or you can opt to deduct your state and local income taxes. When choosing between the two you should of course choose whichever is greater. if you purchased some big goods such a new car, a wedding ring and engagement ring as well as say some home improvements the sales tax deduction could amount to be a significant amount of money saved. If you have any doubts as to what you would save by claiming your sales tax you can always make use of the IRS sales tax deduction at

Claiming dependents is an old deduction but there have been some significant changes to how dependents are classified. Of course children up to age 19 who are not in school may be claimed as well as children up to age 24 who are still in school. If your child is disabled you can claim them at any age, even 40 if they live with you still. Now you can also claim your parents if you are supporting them as well. This is often the case for those who live in the so called sandwich generation. You have to be providing your parents 50% or more of their financial needs to qualify for this deduction. If you do qualify for this deduction you might even be able to claim your parents medical care costs along with your own when you itemize. Did you know that the IRS allows dependent status and deductions for over 30 different types of relatives? Have a sister living with you who is handicapped? This too might be a deduction. These deductions can be either $1000 per person or $350 plus the dependents earned income, whichever is greater. If you are confused you can always check out Turbo Taxes cheat sheet at

If you are itemizing then you should really pay attention to medical care deductions.
These are often times the most overlooked of all deductions. Did you know if you make a home improvement for medical reasons such as handicap access that this is a tax deduction? You can even write off the mileage back and forth to medical appointments for yourself, your children and any dependents you transport. Medical care providers do not report to the IRS what you paid in medical expenses so you should keep track of these expenses throughout the year and itemize these at tax time. Most medical expenses qualify for these deductions even hearing aide batteries, bandages, eye glasses, home health care expenses and more. Even home renovations that need to be made per a doctors order count. The cost to train a companion animal also qualifies.

While taking the standard deductions is no doubt the easiest method to do your taxes you could be missing out on big tax returns by not itemizing your tax deductions. For those who qualify and take the time to do so you could very well maximize your tax return. You should of course consult a qualified CPA to discuss weather or not this option is the best for you.

The editorial team from is dedicated to helping consumers find great deals and savings on all of their finances, debts and lending needs.

Are Personal Lines Of Credit Good Lending Alternatives To Loan

Personal lines of credit can be the difference between a rock and a hard place financially. They can infuse cash quickly when you need a quick infusion of cash such as when you have an unexpected expense such as a broken motor or a burst pipe in your house. For those who are in seasonal employment, sales jobs or other income volatile professions, personal lines of credit also come in handy to keep cash flowing in during lean times. While a savings account would be a far better cash cushion at least this is an option for those who need it.

Personal lines of credit for those who do not know are much like a loan, but more flexible. Personal lines of credit are usually granted by a bank or a credit union. Borrowers tend to make use of them when they want to leave their savings accounts in tact, or when they have none. They also have less interest than credit cards and many other loan products on the market which makes them an attractive loan product. Like a credit card, personal lines of credit have a limit to, but these limits tend to be much higher than that of a credit card. Merely have a line of credit does not put you into debt, in fact you can have an open line of credit your entire life and never owe on it, as long as you do not use it. It is only when you draw on your line of credit that you owe any money. There are monthly minimum payments just like a credit card, but again at a lower interest rate than a credit card. Personal lines of credit are often secured with your home as collateral, but there are plenty of lines of credit based just off of your signature. Personal lines of credit which are secured with the equity of your home are known as HELOCs or home equity lines of credit. The only difference between a HELOC and a personal line of credit is that HELOCs are always secured with your home as collateral while personal lines of credit tend to be signature only.

Personal lines of credit however do not automatically come with a plastic card to use at merchants or withdraw from. However there are some personal lines of credit that do offer plastic or that can be tied to your bank account for ease of use. Some personal lines of credit when attached to a bank account or issued a plastic card can be used just like a debit card.

Personal lines of credit tend to charge less interest than credit cards making them an ideal go to source for spending when you do not have the funds available that day to spend. Although this is not always the case, there are exceptions to this rule such as those with credit cards on an introductory rate or those with a maxed out credit score of 850. Because they do not automatically come linked to a plastic card (as you have to request this or look for a personal line of credit which offers it.) they provide less temptations to use on impulse spending, making this the perfect credit source for those who have trouble with impulse spending. Personal lines of credit often are processed fast meaning you can often make use of your personal line of credit within weeks or even days of applying, with the exception of HELOCs which can take a few months depending on the lender. Unless your line of credit is a HELOC your personal line of credit will be unsecured meaning your assets are likely safe should you run into problems and default on payment. Personal lines of credit are also very flexible in that you can borrow only what you need and once paid back you can borrow from it again without an application, making this an ideal form of credit in place of a loan.

Understanding How Credit Inquiries Can Impact Your Scores

One of the least understood aspects of credit scores and credit reports are inquiries. How do they affect your credit score? What exactly are inquires? When do they fall off your credit report? Do they affect your credit score the entire time they reside on your credit report? What about multiple auto loan inquiries within say a 2 week period? Inquiries remain one part of credit scoring that everyday people still just do not seem to understand, so lets break it down shall we?

A credit inquiry is a flag that appears on your credit report each time your credit report is pulled by someone with a permissible purpose. This includes lenders that you have applied for credit with and any collection agencies that have a past due account that you owe on. Credit inquiries will remain visible on your credit report for a period of two years. There are two types of inquires as well, hard and soft. Hard inquiries are the ones from lenders and collection agencies, while soft inquiries are the ones caused when you pull your own credit score or when a potential creditor pre-screens applicants. Only hard inquires can damage your credit score and only hard inquiries from the last year will effect your credit score.

Hard inquires appear the instant a lender pulls your credit report and scores it using any of the various credit scoring methods such as the FICO8 scoring model or the Vantage 3.0 credit scoring model. In the early years of credit reporting it took some time for inquiries to appear but now they appear instantly so that other creditors know you are applying for credit elsewhere. Collection agencies often pull your credit report as well to check on the state of your finances as well as to skip trace debtors trying to avoid being contacted by the collection agencies.

When you see a soft inquiry it is when you pulled you own credit report. They can also appear from lenders who have screened you with a pre-approved credit offer. They can also appear when a creditor you already do business with wants to check on your credit progress. Insurance checks and pre employment checks also appear as soft inquiries. Soft inquiries are not only ignored for calculating your credit score, they also do not even appear visible to creditors.

You can use inquiries to easily spot identity theft if you monitor your credit regularly. Any inquiries appearing from creditors you do not recognize is often a sure fire sign that your identity has not only been stolen but that the thief is now applying for credit in your name.

Under most scoring models each hard inquiry will deduct 5 points from your credit score. This damage fades away over time and in one year your score goes back to normal. Inquires can be grouped together within a 14 day or 45 day period for rate shopping purposes so that only one of the inquiries counts against your credit score, the amount of days 14 vs 45 depends on which credit scoring model the lender is utilizing at the present time.

Does being turned down for credit hurt your credit score?

We received an email from Stephanie today asking about how to rebuild her credit after a bankruptcy filing. In her question, she mentioned a common credit rumor

I do not have any credit cards and I am afraid to apply for one because I think I will be turned down due to my bankruptcy. I was told that being turned down for credit lowers your credit score so I won’t apply.

This is a fairly prevalent credit myth. The truth: being turned down for credit does not impact your credit score at all. In fact, application approval and rejection information it isn’t even reported to the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

When you apply for a new account, an inquiry record will appear on the credit report that was used in the review. An inquiry is simply an item on your credit report that shows that someone with a “permissible purpose” under FCRA regulations requested a copy of your credit report. (Click here for a sample of an inquiry records on an Equifax credit report.)

Inquiries can cause a small ding in your credit score, but this occurs whether or not you are accepted for the account. If you apply for new accounts excessively, you may see a more noticeable decrease in your credit scores.
Do you have a credit question? Have you heard a good credit rumor lately? Share your feedback and questions in the comments section below.

We are constantly searching for how to, advice and money saving tips and articles for consumers. Our mission is to make the online lending industry super easy to navigate and provide you with the best options for short term loans
, credit cards, peer to peer loan offers and emergency cash when you have limited options to assist you in making an informed and financially sound decision.

Guarding Against Identity Theft Offline Is Still Important

Mailboxes are a potential goldmine for identity thieves. Incoming mail includes items such as credit card offers, tax statements, catalog order forms, checkbooks and account statements that can all be used by an identity thief. Outgoing mail can include checks, bill, credit card applications and credit card numbers that are also valuable to thieves.

Here are six steps to help you guard against “mailboxing” crimes:

• Opt-out of pre-approved offers – Remove your name from the credit bureau marketing lists for pre-approved credit card and loan offers. Either call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or go online to to complete this simple request. You will be amazed at how opting-out can reduce your mail volume each day.

• Request online statements – Many banks, creditors, lenders and investment companies now allow you to request that all your statements are delivered by email instead of by mail. Not only does this cut down on mailbox clutter, it also helps you prevent identity theft.

• Drop off outgoing mail in a secure location – Putting outgoing mail in an unlocked mailbox and marking it with a red flag is practically asking for identity theft. Instead, place outgoing mail in a blue postal collection box or take it directly to the post office.

• Request mail holds – If you are leaving town, even just for a few days, request a free mail hold from the US Postal Service. Their online mail hold request form can be filled out the same day for holds from 3 to 30 days. At the end of your trip you can either have the mail delivered all at once or left at the post office for you to pick up.

• Install a locking mailbox – If you can, replace your current mailbox with a locking mailbox. Some mailboxes offer extreme security, but even a less secure mailbox will act as a good crime deterrent.

• Watch for suspicious signs – Disappearing bills, missing mail, letters announcing new accounts in your name, unauthorized checks and credit report changes can all be signs that you have been a victim of mailboxing.

The editorial team from is committed to bringing you the best financial articles and money saving tips in 2015! Click here to read more about identity theft from other sources and additional articles on fraud. A few small steps can help you guard against the most damaging and prevalent types of identity theft. Along with preventing mailboxing, you should always remember to shred sensitive documents and check your credit reports every 3-6 months.

What Are The Financial Ramifications For Bouncing A Check

Have you bounced a check? A debt collector can bring a criminal action against you

The Senate Banking Committee is considering a bill that could have a negative impact on consumers. This consumer un-friendly legislation should have you arming yourself with your pens (and key-boards) to protest the proposed revisions to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (‘FDCPA‘).

The Senate Banking Committee’s version of H.R. 3505 amends the Act to excuse some bad check enforcement programs currently under state regulatory oversight from federal regulatory oversight. Here is how it works –- Some state and local prosecutors use companies called “check-diversion” companies to help them collect on and reduce the number of bounced checks. If someone bounces a check they are sent a letter, often on the official letter-head of the prosecutor, telling them they must attend a check-restitution program, a fancy name for financial responsibility counseling program, operated by prosecutors in their local areas. They are also told they owe fees several times the amount of the bounced check, and if they don’t comply with the instructions they will be prosecuted. Prosecuted — For making a mistake?

No, we don’t think that people who write bad checks shouldn’t have to pay. But we also don’t agree that criminal prosecution is appropriate in most cases. This amendment as written, allows check-diversion companies to operate outside the Act because check-diversion companies and their activities will not fall under the statutory definition of ‘debt collection.’ Because of this exemption, check-diversion companies will be allowed, to use the punitive power of the local prosecutor’s office to:

• Force consumers to pay for checks that they may not even owe;
• Force consumers to pay exorbitant fees that are not authorized under state law;
• Subject consumers to threats of criminal prosecution for not paying for the checks.
Since check-diversion company activities are not considered to be ‘debt collection
‘ consumers will lose the rights granted in the FDCPA, for dealing with debt-collectors such as:
• The right to request copies of the checks;
• The right to dispute incorrect information prior to being subjected to the harassment of the check-diversion companies;
• The right to avail themselves of the protections against unfair, abusive or deceptive collection practices now prohibited by the Act.

This provision places no practical limits on the activities of check-diversion companies, which have a track record of abusing consumer rights throughout the country. Nationwide consumer organizations and the Federal Trade Commission oppose this unjustifiable exemption of check-diversion companies, and we do too. If they walk like a duck, and quack like a duck . . . well you know the rest – they must be debt collectors. Write to the Senate

Banking Committee, or send them an e-mail letting them what you think.

Want to share your story of dealing with aggressive check-diversion companies? Post your feedback in the comments section below. The editorial team from paydayloansonlinelender is committed to helping consumers save money and find good deals with credit and lending offers in 2015!

Refinancing Your Car A Potential Money Saving Strategy In 2015

Interest rates have been low for awhile now. You might have thought about your auto payment and wished you could reduce it, well right now might be a good time to go for a auto refinance. An auto refinance could save you thousands of dollars over the duration of your loan, a few hundred dollars per year. An auto refinance is not for everyone but if you are currently paying 6 percent or higher you may want to consider an auto refinance.

Now you may be think of how difficult it may be, as everyone knows refinancing your mortgage can be a pain staking process, or a headache like consolidating ones credit card balances. Unlike both refinancing your mortgage or consolidating your credit card debt applying for and obtaining a auto refinance is actually a relatively fast and painless process. You do not even need to have your auto appraised. There are usually not any fees and when they are they are low cost fees.

When should you consider refinancing your auto? If you fall into any of these situations below you should consider an auto refinance and if you are paying to much right now.

You didn’t get your best rate:
Perhaps when you applied for you car loan you had a good credit score. Your debt to income ratio might have even been spot on but for some reason you ended up with a poor rate. Usually this is due to going for a dealer ship based loan as these loans tend to carry a higher rate. Many consumers fall into this trap due to not knowing any better. The dealers do this to make extra money much the same way they usually make money by selling you an extended warranty.

Interest rates are lower:
If the market interest rates have dropped more than 1 or 2 points since you applied for your original loan you could save a lot of money with an auto refinance. Refinance rates are in the used car loan bracket and are higher than new car loans. Even a single percentage point can be a huge savings for you over the life time of your loan.

Credit score has improved:

When you applied for your original loan if your credit was in a different bracket, for example if you were a sub prime borrower but your new credit score places you as a prime borrower now is the time to re refi. Perhaps you had no credit or a few old delinquent accounts which have now fallen off of your credit report since you bought your car. Did you know that interest rates of 18 to 20 percent are common for those with whats called thin credit? Thin credit is when you have very little information and accounts on your credit report. Even a credit score jump of 30 points could mean saving hundreds of dollars per year via a refinance.

Your personal financial situation has changed for the worst:
Perhaps you have an upsurge in bills and expenses, or lost a secondary source of income. At any rate if you need to cut back on expenses a refinance could make all the difference. The money saved by a lower payment could be just the lifeline you need to stay afloat and it will not cost you money to find out if you qualify for a lower rate.

Searching for online loan offers in 2015, check out for the best options for consumer based loans from the convenience of your home or office.

How Critical Is Your Credit Profile To Your Online Loan Approval

Lots of people today have bad credit, due to mistakes, mismanagement of past credit or the economy. If you have found yourself a little short of cash for upcoming expenses having bad credit does not bar you from finding an installment loan. You can opt for a secured installment loan, but there are plenty of unsecured installment loan options available for you. You should be aware however that An installment loan is a relatively expensive way of borrowing, especially if you have bad credit. The reason that an installment loan can be an expensive option if you have bad credit is that the lender is taking considerable risk by merely agreeing to lend to someone with poor credit. The rate of default is much higher when loaning to someone with a history of late payments and charge offs so to even out the risk pool they charge a much higher rate to everyone in the pool.

When should you consider taking out an installment loan when you have bad credit? Only in emergencies. Do not consider taking out an installment loan for frivolous expenses such as a vacation or a night out on the town. You should only borrow to meet serious expenses which are unavoidable. You need to avoid being trapped in a cycle of lending and borrowing.

If you are able to repay the loan, understand how much interest you are going to be paying and understand fully how the loan repayments will affect your available cash flow then a short term installment loan is a viable option for an emergency expense. While you might pay a higher interest rate than someone with good credit, the good news is that if you repay the loan on time it will boost your credit score up.

Before taking out any such loan be sure to receive a a clear statement of all applicable fees and charges, including interest, prior to you taking out the loan. Read up on what the late fees may be and what happens if you should default. Most problems with short term loans are due to borrowers not fully understanding the loans terms and conditions, fees, and interest rates. When you fully understand your loans terms, conditions and fine print you are avoiding any unpleasant surprises like hidden fees, charges or insurance costs.

Before filing out any application do a through background check on the company you are going to be doing business with. One easy way to do this is to use Google putting in the company name plus the terms “review”,”scam” and “complaint”. Take reviews with a grain of salt however but if every review is negative and nothing but complaints this should be a red flag. You generally also want to deal directly with the lender not a 3rd party loan broker.

What do you need for a short term installment loan when you have bad credit? Not very much, most lenders only require the following:

Be a U.S. citizen and reside in a state that allows short term installment loans.
Be at least 21 years of page.
Have a checking account with direct deposit set up.
Have held your job for at least 6 months, and able to prove that you are currently employed.
Earn at a minimum $1,000 monthly.

Holiday financing and short term loans should be explored after you have exhausted all other options, visited a local bank or credit union and reviewed in depth how much money you truly need, your ability to repay a loan and potential areas you can save and reduce your expenses in 2015.

Short Term Loans For The Holidays, What Are The Drawbacks

The holiday season is quickly approaching.
A large number of people are scrambling looking for a way to purchase gifts for friends and family. Many of those people are desperate because of their bad credit or financial situation. One popular option is to take out a short term loan for the holidays. Short term loans are very similar to a cash advance. The loans sound like a practical idea on the surface. However, many people report that they might have a few drawbacks.

Short Term Loans
Short term loans are designed for people in a financial crunch that need money fast. This financial need might be due to other money obligations, an emergency, or a celebration. The applicant fills out a form and the loan is approved. The loaning institution adds on a few processing fees. The applicant agrees to pay back the loan in a few weeks or with their next paycheck. Thus, the name short term loan. Certainly, short term loans are gaining in popularity because of quick acceptance and payback. Traditional loans usually require a longer waiting period and installment payments over several years.

Applying for Short Term Loans
Gift giving season is a time that creates a flurry of activity at the short term loan sites. People are anxious to get their hands on cash to buy gifts. Reports show that loans for less than $400 are quickly approved. The process is very straight-forward. The applicant applies at one of the short term loan sites. They fill out the application. Submit details about their employment and supply information about their checking account. The lending institution submits details about the amount of the loan provided. The applicant approves. Once approved, the money is electronically transferred to the applicant’s banking account.

Short Term Loan Drawbacks
Short term loans carry risk. This is something that the consumer should know about before taking out the loan. The lending institutions provide the applicant information about repayment terms, but the applicant might fail to notice the fine print. Often, the fees paid for the short term loan is exceptionally high. The companies realize that the people filling out the application are in a desperate situation. They assume that many are willing to pay high interest fees while others simply are not aware of the fees. The fact is that the applicant might owe more in fees than their initial loan. The financial institutions are betting that some applicants are unable to pay off the loan as originally agreed upon. Therefore, they roll the fees over into a new loan and charge even more interest.

Certainly, short term loans are a financial life saver to some, but the loans also have their drawbacks. If you are searching for a personal loan, cash advance or installment based loan, then it is always recomended to review all of your financial options, go visit a credit union and make sure you never borrow more money than you really need.

Online lending will increase in demand during the holiday season, how to find a good deal

How to Get Best Online Loan during the Holidays

Many people look for holiday loans this time of year to finance their celebrations, buy gifts or go on vacation. These types of loans get very popular during this time frame so many lenders offer incentives such as reduced interest rates, grace periods or sometimes even higher loan amount options.

Here are three things most lenders consider when deciding whether or not they will give someone a loan during the holidays or at any other time of the year:

• Character- Lenders want to know the type of person someone is and if they are trustworthy and have a steady job to allow them to pay back a loan.

• Capacity- Lenders also want to know the amount of debt someone can handle, which means they will check their debt to income ratio. That is calculated by figuring what the person already owes and putting it against their monthly income. Usually, they will want a debt to income level that is low enough to ensure the person is capable of paying it back.

• Credit- Lenders also want to know a person’s FICO Credit score and if it is below about 650, it may mean you pay a much higher interest rate or don’t get the loan at all.

Holiday Loan Seeking Should Start at Your Bank, Credit Union

With the issues caused by the last year or so of financial issues like mortgage defaults, etc., lenders may be more likely to let you borrow money if they have a relationship with you already. Even if you are looking for online lending, your own bank or credit union likely has a website where you can apply for a holiday loan.

You should also compare other online loan companies and see the various deals they are offering. It’s surprising how much one could differ from another in what kind of loan deals they may offer during the holidays. Be sure to take into consideration each one’s interest rates, any fees, the repayment periods, and any possible discounts or special holiday deals being offered.

Try Peer to Peer Lending

A relatively new alternative to getting a holiday loan at a bank or credit union that is online is peer to peer lending sites. These sites get rid of the middleman and you get the loan from another consumer like yourself. Some of these peer to peer loans can go up from less than $100 to more than a few thousand dollars. Plus, these types of lenders can often give you a great interest rate and payment plan as well, and they often will also lend to those who have less than a perfect credit score.

All in all, it is possible to get a good deal on an online loan during the holidays as long as you are willing to take the time to do some comparisons and then take the best deal offered instead of rushing and taking the first loan deal you are offered