What Couples Should Discuss Before Retiring

Compromise is an important part of marriage. From deciding how much to spend on a new living room set to what to watch on TV tonight, compromise is constant.It can also be a big part of retirement conversations. While agreeing on the financial and logistical issues around retirement is great if you can get there, chances are, there are some aspects of a life together without work that will be a compromise. Getting on the same page before retirement can make it a lot easier.Here are some topics couples should talk about before retirement:When to RetireDo you both plan on retiring at the same time? Maybe one person wants to wait until age 70 to receive the most Social Security benefits, while the other wants to collect them when they’re first eligible at age 62.What Are Your Retirement Goals?Each person may have different dreams of what retirement should be. One may want to travel immediately, while the other wants to stay home.Both can be done, of course. Discussing what you want to do in retirement is one of the best things about planning for it. Doing those things together-after figuring out what they are-can make your retirement dreams come true.How to Pay for ItSocial Security is an important part of funding retirement, but it shouldn’t be the only way. If your goals are bigger than your assets, you’ll have to make some adjustments. To determine how much money you’ll have in retirement, a couple should meet with their financial advisor.Each spouse should have access to their savings, investments, pension, insurance and other accounts, and have a short monthly meeting on where they stand. Make sure each person is listed on the paperwork for each account, and that beneficiary information is complete.What’s in Your Will?This is the unpleasant part of planning for retirement, but it’s something worth doing. Set up a will together so that your family knows how your estate will be handled, and what they should do about taxes and other financial issues. Your financial advisor should be able to help, as should an attorney.This is the final step of retirement, and of life, and it’s one you don’t want to avoid. With proper planning, it will be after a long and enjoyable retirement.Where toFind Free Help With TaxesPreparing your tax returns can be a chore. The good news is that filing your taxes is free-if you can figure out how to fill out the forms accurately. If not, you may want to buy some tax preparation software or hire a tax preparer to do the detailed work for you.If you prefer not to spend money for tax prep help, or don’t have the money for it, there are some free alternatives. Here are a few ways to get free help preparing and filing your taxes:Free E-File Forms From the IRSThe IRS offers free file forms that can be completed online. The program operates from January through mid-October, when accounts are erased from the server. Estimated tax payments can be paid online, and tax refunds can be paid through direct deposit to your bank.For incomes above $64,000, free file forms are available. The forms offer only basic guidance, and you must know how to do your taxes yourself. You must have your tax return available, and state tax prep isn’t available.Free FileFor incomes below $64,000, another IRS program, called Free File, offers help. It works with a dozen tax software companies in the Free File Alliance to provide free tax filing assistance.The program is geared toward low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Some may have restrictions on age and where you live, and the program will walk you through programs that meet your criteria. After selecting the software that works best for your tax situation, you’ll be transferred from IRS.gov to the company’s website to complete your returns.AARP AideThe AARP Foundation offers free help through its Tax-Aide program that’s run by volunteers.The program has helped nearly 50 million low- to moderate-income taxpayers since 1968, and is available to anyone 50 and older who can’t afford a tax preparation service.It’s offered at more than 5,000 locations in libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. AARP membership isn’t required.Volunteer Income Tax AssociationKnown as VITA, this program from the IRS offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing.Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)The TCE program is another IRS program, offering free help for all taxpayers, but focusing on people 60 and older. Its volunteers specialize in questions and pensions and retirement issues that are unique to seniors. It’s offered at the same types of sites where the AARP program is, and many of the TCE sites are operated by the AARP Tax-Aide volunteers. Some sites also offer free help with web-based tax prep software to file basic federal and state tax returns.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to Haggle on the Phone for Better Prices

Haggling may not be one of the funnest things you’ll do on any given day, but if you’re anywhere near good at it, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.For people who don’t want to haggle in person or don’t want to send emails back and forth, the simplest option is calling on the phone. This can be done to reduce your costs for phone, cable TV, Internet service or other monthly bills, and for big-ticket purchases such as a car or household appliance.Here are some tips for haggling over the phone:ResearchIf you’re looking for a better price on your cable TV package, for example, look online for deals your cable provider and other companies are offering new customers, and ask for the same deal. The more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to haggle by suggesting you’ll go to a competitor that has a better price.Know who to callMost businesses have customer service phone numbers. If you get lost in a phone tree, press the number “0,” which should usually connect you directly to an operator. Ask for a customer service representative. If that person isn’t much help within a few minutes, ask to be transferred to their supervisor or a customer retention specialist who can usually offer the bigger discounts that you want.Don’t argueDon’t debate the person on the other end of the line. Being mad will likely cause the other person to lose interest in helping you, so stay calm and on point. Ask for what you want and explain how long you’ve been a loyal customer and how much longer they’ll have you as a customer if they offer the discount.Use silenceBeing silent can give the other person the incentive to fill the space by talking and hopefully offering options. These may include a free add-on service, such as free delivery of a new mattress if you’re negotiating the price of a new bed, or they may all of a sudden find a deal on their computer that they didn’t offer during the first few minutes of your conversation.Say goodbyeIf the rep or retention specialist didn’t offer you the best deal you expected, then thank them for their time and say goodbye and that you’ll be checking with their competitors. This message that you may soon be dropping their service gives them one last chance to put you on hold and come up with a solution. If they don’t, then either go find a better price at another company, or call back a few days later and talk to another customer service representative. The people you talk with later may be willing to help you.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Staging: The Secret to Sealing the Deal

Given that an overwhelming 90% of home searches begin online, how can we move buyers from behind the screen to inside your home? Staging. As your local real estate professional, I thought I’d share this home staging infographic with you. This will help put staging into perspective, and give you some ideas of just how to go about it.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Apps to Make Saving Easier

Saving for a home, retirement, a vacation or anything else can be difficult.The median retirement savings of all working-age families in the United States is $5,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Given that many financial advisers recommend having about $1 million in retirement, that leaves many families far short of their retirement plans.Don’t let such big goals keep you from striving for them. Many mobile apps help people reach multiple savings goals, often in painless ways that only require the change you’d normally get at the cash register.For a retirement plan, home down payment or other large financial goal, you’re probably best off by maximizing automatic paycheck deductions or contributing regularly to a savings account. For smaller savings goals, here are some apps to check out:Qapital: Set multiple savings goals and have money moved into savings based on rules you set. The service is free.You won’t have to sacrifice the things you love buying. Buying an espresso every morning at your local coffee shop? Tell the app to save $5 every time you buy coffee. Or it can round up that coffee purchase by a lower amount, such as moving a $3.50 coffee to $4 and putting that extra 50 cents in your account.Digit: This service has a different way of helping users save money. It connects to your checking account and analyzes your income and spending and finds money it can set aside for you. It never transfers more than you can afford, so you don’t have to worry about overdrafting your account.Digit used to be free, but now charges $3 per month for its service. A 100-day free trial is available.Acorns: This micro-investing app turns every purchase you make into an investment.It connects your accounts and cards that you use to make everyday purchases and rounds your purchases to the nearest dollar. That spare change is automatically invested. You can also set up recurring or one-time investments.Acorns costs $1 per month to use. For accounts of $5,000 or more, the fee is 0.25 percent per year.SmartyPig: This online saving account lets you save for specific goals by making automatic transfers from your linked bank account. Want to save for a new TV? SmartyPig can help you set up an account for that.The service is free. Up to six withdrawals per account can be made each month.I hope you found this helpful. Contact me for more insights and info.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Rebuilding Your Credit Score

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” text_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]Do you have poor or little credit? You might want to consider consulting with a reputable credit counseling service.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_video admin_label=”Video” src=”http://rismedia.com/videos/get_video.php?id=2373″ image_src=”http://rismedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/credit_history_report_665x350-e1498845132640.jpg”][/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Down to One Income? It’s Not the End of the World

If you purchased your home as a two-income family, the prospect of living on only one income can be daunting if not downright scary.But don’t despair if a sudden job loss, a new baby, or some other life circumstance is putting you in that position. Take a deep breath, take some time to consider, and review these tips from Parents Magazine:

  • Cut back – This may seem elementary, but many couples who have been living with spare cash may not have a clue where to start. Begin by keeping a written account of one month’s spending. Then study it to identify areas – like entertainment, cable costs, or eating out – where you can easily rein in your spend. What you should be left with is a working budget. Stick to it.
  • Cut your grocery bill – You don’t have to go on a starvation diet. But cut out expensive convenience foods in favor of cooking or baking. Make your own baby food. Look for sales. Use coupons. You may be amazed at how much money you can save.
  • Use cash, not credit – Use credit cards sparingly. Routinely paying by credit card can lead to bills you may find harder to pay off monthly – and building up credit card debt and/or interest is the last thing you want to do
  • Become more self-sufficient – If you’ve been paying for lawn care, housecleaning, or other services you can do – or learn to do – yourself, you can be well on the way to saving serious money.
  • Barter for services – Instead of paying for babysitters, exchange babysitting services with another family. Use Craigslist to swap lawn services for public relations assistance. The possibilities are endless.
  • Earn extra cash – Just because a spouse has left the workface doesn’t mean they are powerless to earn. Try part-time freelance work. Organize garage sales. Offer specialty catering services. Use your skills to bring in additional income.
  • Sacrifice – It may be tough to resist those season tickets or to nix a Caribbean vacation. On the other hand, you can explore new pursuits; cooking together, music lessons, game nights with friends or family.

For more tips for the home, contact me anytime!

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Tips for Making Health Savings Accounts Work for You

Putting money in a Health Savings Account, or HSA, can help you and your family pay for health expenses now and in the future, while giving you a tax break for your contributions.HSAs have been around since 2003 to help people with high-deductible health plans, but they can still be confusing. Here are some tips on how they work:1. You don’t have to spend it all now. HSAs differ from flexible-spending accounts, which many people use to pay for medical expenses. Money in flexible-spending accounts, or FSAs, must be spent by the end of the year. HSAs, however, can be spent during the year or afterward, even into retirement. The money you put in this year continues rolling over to the next year until it’s used.2. Enjoy 3 tax breaks in one. HSA contributions have three tax advantages. First, they can be deducted from your taxes. Second, if payments are made through payroll deduction, they can be withdrawn as pretax income. Thirdly, the money grows tax-deferred, and withdrawals used for medical expenses are tax-free. That’s more tax breaks than a 401(k)-retirement plan offers.3. Use it after retirement. You can’t continue making HSA contributions when you sign up for Medicare. But the tax-free money can still be used to pay for medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, such as vision and dental care.An HSA account can also be used in retirement to pay part of any long-term care insurance premiums. It can also be used to pay premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D prescription-drug coverage, or a Medicare Advantage plan.After age 65, you can use an HSA to pay for non-medical expenses without paying a 20 percent penalty. You will, however, have to pay income tax on the withdrawals.4. Contribute beyond age 65. If you’re still working at age 65, you can continue making HSA contributions and delay signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B.To do this, and delay Medicare, your employer must have more than 20 employees. If you sign up for Social Security and are automatically enrolled in Medicare, then you can’t continue putting money into your HSA.5. Contribute to both FSA and HSA, if allowed. Double dipping by contributing to an FSA and HSA at the same time in the same year isn’t allowed if both accounts are used for medical expenses. Some employers, however, offer limited-purpose flexible-spending accounts for dental and vision costs that aren’t covered by an HSA. The FSA must be designated as an “HSA-compatible FSA” where the tax-free money is only used for dental and vision expenses until you reach your health insurance plan’s deductible. After meeting the deductible, you can transfer the money to a regular FSA and use it for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to Know How Much House You Can Afford

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” text_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]The mistake many home buyers make, especially first time buyers, is only taking the mortgage payment into consideration when deciding the price of the home they can afford.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_video admin_label=”Video” src=”http://rismedia.com/videos/get_video.php?id=2447″ image_src=”http://rismedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2447_preview-1.png”] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Bank Accounts Every Family Should Have

Having all of your family’s money in one bank account can make keeping track of your money easier, but it might not help your family meet its financial goals.Instead of one big fund for everything – such as a checking account – you might be better equipped to meet several small financial goals with multiple bank accounts. If you’re smart about them, you might also save on fees and make more money off of your money.Here are five bank accounts every family should have:1. Regular savings. This is an account to hold money in and only use when needed. You can attach a goal to it, such as saving for a down payment on a house or a family vacation, or it can just sit around for life’s unexpected expenses. Try to save up to three months of living expenses in this fund in case of a short-term emergency.2. Emergency savings. This account should be used as a last resort and is for big emergencies, such as losing a job and having enough money set aside for 6 – 12 months of living expenses.3. Joint checking account. This is used to pay your regular bills and other family expenses, though not medical bills, which we’ll get to soon. It’s an account you probably already have and is where most of your income should go before it’s used to pay bills or moved to other accounts. This account should at least cover your monthly expenses.4. Spousal checking accounts. Each spouse should have their own checking account so that they can buy something however they see fit. The amount shouldn’t be a secret from the other spouse, and it can be used as “fun money.” If everything else in your budget has been paid for, the money in this account is each person’s spot to use as they’d like to.5. Health Savings Account. Also called an HSA, this is a tax-free account to hold money for medical expenses, from prescriptions to hospital stays. There are some rules to understand before using an HSA, so ask your Human Resources department at work or search online for details. If you’re spending a few thousand dollars a year on your family’s medical costs, a tax-free HSA can make it less expensive.How much money you put into these accounts is up to you, but do yourself a favor and make it easy by using direct deposit so that a specified amount of money is automatically deposited into each account each month.

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

Home Sweet Home: What Matters Most to Millennials

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Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:00 am
Tiffany Booker | Posted in Uncategorized |

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