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Beyond the Mortgage - Additional Costs of Homeownership

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In addition to a monthly mortgage payment, owning your own home involves a number of additional costs and expenses you need to plan for in your budget. Some of them will be recurring expenses, others you won’t see coming – but you’ll need to be prepared for them nonetheless.

Recurring Expenses

Utilities – If you’re moving into a larger space than you’re used to, remember it means your utility bills will be larger as well, particularly the heating and cooling costs. If your utility company offers it, consider going on a plan that “equalizes” your bills over the course of the year so you’re always paying close to the same amount. It will make budgeting for utility expenses much easier.

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5 Easy Tips for Smoother Tax Prep.

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If you haven’t done your taxes yet, you’re not alone. According to the Internal Revenue Service, they receive a majority of Americans’ returns the week taxes are due. But with this year’s due date of Tuesday, April 18, coming up quickly, you don’t want to wait too much longer. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing your taxes, or simply have no idea hot to start getting organized, these tips will help. 

Set Goals and Break Down Tasks- Large projects are always easier to handle when you break them down into manageable chunks. Rather than looking at ‘doing taxes’ as one overwhelming job, break it down into small tasks that are easier to complete. Give yourself a day or two between tasks to regroup and get ready for the next thing. 

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Precautions for Co-signers on Home Loans

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Lenders require a co-signer when a consumer doesn’t qualify for a loan, either due to a lack of credit history or poor credit history. A co-signer is an individual who meets the loan requirements and agrees to cover the loan payments if the borrower requesting the loan is unable to make them.

The decision to co-sign a loan – or to ask a loved one to co-sign for you – shouldn’t be taken lightly. You must carefully weigh the pros and cons and take an honest assessment of your ability to pay back the loan in the future.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, numerous lender studies show as many as three out of four co-signers are ultimately asked to repay the loan. Co-signers who fail to examine the fine print may be stunned when they’re stuck with the bill. Not only can this cause a serious financial hit, it can strain personal relationships.

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Reverse Mortgage 101: Debunking Common Myths

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With so many scams targeted at the elderly, many people wonder whether reverse mortgages are a legitimate option for generating cash or simply another scheme that exploits seniors.

Simply said, a reverse mortgage or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) enables homeowners 62 years and older to convert part of their home equity into tax-free cash. It may prove a good solution for seniors whose savings accounts are dwindling or who simply need a little extra income each month.

If you or someone you love is considering this option, read on for Take Charge America’s top six reverse mortgage myths:

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Do's and Don'ts for Using Home Equity

Equity is the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding mortgage balance. When the housing market crashed in the fall of 2007 and into 2008, many homeowners across the nation lost much, if not all, of the equity in their homes because the fair market value of their property’s dropped significantly.

Homeowners who do have equity in their homes have the option to borrow money against the equity they have built up with a loan or line of credit. In both cases, the house serves as collateral, which means the creditor may seize the home and sell it if the homeowner can no longer make the payments. Tapping into your home equity can be detrimental if you enter into the contract without fully understanding the repercussions.

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Do's and Don'ts for Using Home Equity

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Equity is the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding mortgage balance. When the housing market crashed in the fall of 2007 and into 2008, many homeowners across the nation lost much, if not all, of the equity in their homes because the fair market value of their property’s dropped significantly.

Homeowners who do have equity in their homes have the option to borrow money against the equity they have built up with a loan or line of credit. In both cases, the house serves as collateral, which means the creditor may seize the home and sell it if the homeowner can no longer make the payments. Tapping into your home equity can be detrimental if you enter into the contract without fully understanding the repercussions.

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Score Free Tax Help During March's tax Madness

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The month of March can be Madness for everyone. While the nation’s best college basketball teams sweat it out on the court, millions of Americans sweat to file their tax returns before the clock runs out. Here are eight elite tips for scoring free tax help before this year’s tax filing deadline.

  1. Tax Counseling for the Elderly: TCE offers free tax assistance to low-income taxpayers and seniors age 60 and older. IRS-certified volunteers specialize in tax questions like pensions and retirement issues. Click here to find an AARP Tax-Aid site or call 1 (888) 227-7669.
  2. IRS Facilitated Self-Assistance Program: IRS-certified volunteers guide you through the process of preparing and filing a simple tax return, free of charge. Find a facilitated self-assistance site .
  3. Armed Forces Tax Council: The IRS provides free tax help to military personnel and their families.

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Too Much House? Tips to Simplify and Save Cash

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Homeownership is considered a cornerstone of the much-desired American dream. However, we each embark on a path toward fulfilling this dream at different rates, surrounded by different circumstances. If we get caught up in chasing a dream that’s not within our current means, then we run the risk of serious financial hardships in all parts of our lives.

You may have heard of the phrase “buying too much house.” This refers to consumers who purchase a home that they cannot afford to maintain. It’s important to remember that a mortgage only represents a portion of the costs associated with homeownership. You also need to account for regular upkeep and maintenance, utility costs, insurance, taxes and association dues.

For most Americans, a home purchase will be their largest investment. It’s central to their safety, security and livelihood. In order to help protect this investment, we’ve compiled five tips for reducing home-related costs that could save you thousands of dollars.

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Betsy DeVos- About the Secretary of Education

trump-secretary-of-education.pngIn November, Donald Trump announced his plans to nominate Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. 

DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist, has been involved in public education for decades, yet has never worked as an educator herself. Here is what her controversial appointment may mean for the state of education and student loans. 

Who is Betsy DeVos? 

DeVos is the daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince. Her father was the founder of the Prince Corp., an automobile parts supplier based in Michigan. She graduated from Calvin College, a Christian Reformed Church School. 

Like her parents, DeVos is a staunch Republican and has been a lifelong supporter of the party. 

She was the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, and her husband ran for governor in 2006, but did not win. 

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