Monday April 30, 2012
Did you know that a four year degree at a public university may cost upwards of $100,000 in 18 years? That's bad news for new parents who expect their kids to go to school, but fortunately it isn't that hard to save up the money needed for college if you start early. Time is on your site if you start early, but it becomes your enemy if you wait too long. So, here's how to finance your child's education.
Sunday April 22, 2012
Credit card debt is one of the biggest problems most people face when trying to get a handle on their finances. Credit cards make it easy to spend more money than you have, and then the crippling interest rates and fees make it seem impossible to get out from under. While there isn't an instant cure for credit card debt, there are steps you can take to put yourself on a path to becoming debt free.
It takes a little planning, a little budgeting, and some time, but if you keep at it you'll find that you're getting out of debt faster than you had imagined. Here's the process to help you eliminate your credit card debt.
Friday April 13, 2012
Mortgage rates continue to sit at historic lows, and it's a good time to buy a home if you're in the market for one. One of the most difficult aspects of buying a home is dealing with the mortgage process. There are countless loan options and lenders, and finding the best deal can ultimately save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Thankfully, the government steps in to help make the process a little easier for military personnel and veterans by offering a VA home mortgage. Those who qualify are: Veterans, active duty personnel, certain reservists and National Guard members, surviving spouses of persons who die on active duty or die as a result of service-connected disabilities, certain spouses of active duty personnel who are (a) missing in action, (b) captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or (c) forcibly detained by a foreign government or power.
The VA loan program is relatively simple. You simply shop around through private lenders and once you provide eligibility, VA steps in to back the loan. What this means is if something happens and you find you are unable to make the payments, the lender can then turn to the VA for any losses that may occur. This type of insurance is what makes banks more willing to lend money since they know they are protected.
There are also a number of other benefits of a VA mortgage. You can often buy a home without a down payment as long as the appraised value doesn't come in below the sales price. This can be quite a help to those who might be returning home from deployment but may not have set aside the funds for a down payment yet. In addition, because these loans are "insured" by the VA you won't need to pay private mortgage insurance, which can be a costly addition to any mortgage. Finally, there are also limits as to how much you can be charged for closing costs, and in some cases closing costs may be paid entirely by the seller.
As you can see, there are a number of benefits available through a VA loan program. While the basics of buying a home still apply, there are certainly some added features and benefits that make buying a home with a VA mortgage a little more attractive.
Sunday April 8, 2012
If you work and earn income, you are probably aware of the Social Security taxes that come out of your paycheck. Social Security Taxes, otherwise known as FICA Tax (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) is paid by employees and employers to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs. Since a fairly large portion of your income goes towards this tax, it is important to understand where it actually goes, and what benefit it may provide to you.
The bulk of your FICA Tax money goes into the Social Security program. To be exact, roughly 85 cents of each dollar goes toward Social Security. The money that current wage earners put into the program goes into various trust funds that pay the monthly benefits to current retirees, families, and surviving spouses and children of workers who have died. Costs associated with administering the plan come directly from the trusts.
The administration claims that for each Social Security tax dollar you pay, less than one cent goes toward administration costs.
The remainder of the FICA Tax money you pay, roughly 15 cents of each dollar, goes into the Medicare program. Like Social Security, the money paid by current wage earners goes into trust funds that pay for some hospital and medical care costs incurred by current Medicare beneficiaries.
Plan Ahead so You Don't Need to Rely Solely on Social Security
When you take a look at all of the money that you pay into Social Security to hopefully provide for old age retirement benefits and medical coverage, you better hope that you get every penny back and more. Well, if you still have some time yet until retirement, it is impossible to know what the future holds for these programs. The best thing you can do is to put some money aside for the future to supplement any benefits that you may receive. One way to do this is to open a Traditional IRA. Not only will you save some money on taxes right now, but you'll have a nice stash of money to supplement your government benefits.