4 Smart Reasons Why You Should Do Your Own Taxes

When you get your W-2 in the mail each year, it might fill you with a bit of dread. It’s time to call your accountant, wait in line some Tuesday night in March, and pay out a hefty chunk of your refund just to get someone to type your income and taxes paid into some computer software program. It all seems like a waste of time and money, with a thankless reward of handing over a check to the government at the end of it all.

Getting married? Understand the financial implications

Getting married? Understand the financial implications

Getting married changes your financial life in profound ways. It’s not just that you’re living together or sharing expenses (you don’t need marriage to do that…), it’s that your legal and tax status changes. And while your credit rating remains individual, your future choices could be changed by what your spouse brings into the financial picture.

Read more…Getting married? Understand the financial implications

5 Ways to Control Emotional Spending

Sometimes it may seem like shopping has become America’s favorite pastime. With advertising popping up everywhere—from TV to billboards to city buses— shopping seems to be everywhere. Advertisers spend billions of dollars annually convincing us that products can make us feel successful, prevent us from being bored, help us attract a partner, and a myriad of other things. With ads carefully designed to manipulate our spending habits, it’s no wonder so many people have become emotional spenders.

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The New Payday Lender Looks a Lot Like the Old Payday Lender

Apps promising to “advance” a user’s wages say they aren’t payday lenders. So what are they?

Jonathan Raines needed money. An app promised to help.

He searched online for an alternative to traditional payday lenders and came across Earnin, which offered him $100 on the spot, to be deducted from his bank account on payday.

“There are no installments and no really high interest,” he told me, comparing the app favorably to a payday lender. “It’s better, in that sense.”

Earnin didn’t charge Raines a fee, but asked that he “tip” a few dollars on each loan, with no penalty if he chose not to. It seemed simple. But nine months later, what was originally a stopgap measure has become a crutch.

“You borrow $100, tip $9, and repeat,” Raines, a highway-maintenance worker in Missouri, told me. “Well, then you do that for a bit and they raise the limit, which you probably borrow, and now you are in a cycle of get paid and borrow, get paid and borrow.” Raines said he now borrows about $400 each pay cycle.

“I know it’s a responsibility thing, but once you are in that cycle, you are stuck,” Raines told me. Borrowing against his own paycheck hasn’t made stretching his money any easier. Especially because the app changes its terms based on users’ cashflow: Earnin requires constant access to users’ bank-account balances, and when its algorithms detect that a user might not be able to repay, the app lowers the borrowing limit. (A representative from Earnin said the company tells borrowers two days before their next check what the next borrowing maximum is, and that it sets these limits so users can’t borrow more than they’ve earned in a pay period.)

Read more…The New Payday Lender Looks a Lot Like the Old Payday Lender

Here’s the Average Credit Card Approval Rate by Credit Score

You should understand your chances of approval before applying for a credit card.

The fact that you need credit to qualify for credit might be the most frustrating credit-related dilemma, but there’s a close runner-up: The only way to know whether or not you’ll be approved for credit is to apply, but too many applications for credit can tarnish your credit score.

Read more…Here’s the Average Credit Card Approval Rate by Credit Score

Freebies in July!

Rejoice in the nation’s freedoms by grabbing a few free treats this month.

July has arrived, and as you celebrate our nation’s freedom, also take a moment to rejoice in all the freebies available this month!

From complimentary cheesecake to free museum access for active military members (thank you for your service!), we are spotlighting some incredible offers you don’t want to miss.

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How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps

Does it feel like your paycheck is gone the moment you get it? Here’s how to break that vicious cycle.

Are you stuck in the all-too-common habit of living paycheck to paycheck? You don’t need me to tell you that’s a self-defeating cycle. You simply can’t get ahead that way.

But escaping isn’t easy, especially if your paycheck is tight. Change involves not just the hard work of making a new habit, but also changing your ways of thinking.

Read more…How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps