Archive for March, 2015

Taxes 101: Basic Tax Terms Everyone Should Know

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Saldutti

Roughly 83% of the returns processed by the IRS so far this tax season have resulted in refunds, at an average of $2,893 per check (down from the original $3,539 that was reported earlier in the season).  The total paid out so far?  $191.233 billion.  If you are among the millions who haven’t yet filed, April 15th will be here before you know it.  You many want to get moving in order to avoid filing an extension.  Check out our cheat sheet to get you started. The U.S. tax code didn’t get to be 74,000 pages long without getting a…

401(k) Plan a Failure for Millions of Americans

Posted on March 30, 2015 by Saldutti

For millions of Americans, the 401(k) plan is a miserable failure – it simply is not shielding enough people from financial struggles in their retirements, according to a CNBC analysis.  The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates the median amount in U.S. 401(k) accounts is a paltry $18,433 and almost 40% of workers have less than $10,000 in those instruments. “In America, when we had disability and defined benefit plans, you actually had an equality of retirement period. Now the rich can retire and workers have to work until they die,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School…

Foreclosure Activity on Path towards Normalcy by Year-End

Posted on March 27, 2015 by Saldutti

Foreclosure activity in February fell to its lowest level in 9 years even though lenders repossessed more assets, according to data from RealtyTrac.  Foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were reported on 101,938 properties in February. This is down from both a month earlier and a year ago by 4% and 9%, respectively. Despite the national decrease in foreclosures, 24 states posted a year over year uptick in overall foreclosure activity, including Massachusetts (up 53%), New York (19%), and Nevada (12%). Lenders took back more properties in February than the previous month. Realty Trac revealed…

Most Common Questions about Credit and Debt

Posted on March 26, 2015 by Saldutti

Money troubles can be hard to discuss.  The secret many don’t seem to know is they are not as alone as they feel.  Plenty of people have money problems from time to time and people who work with debt and credit have heard it all.  Credit.com lists the 3 questions that credit and debt professionals are asked the most – and their responses. 1. I have more credit card debt than I can possibly repay. What do I do?  What have you tried? If you haven’t yet negotiated a repayment plan or reached out for help, then try to taking…

Banks Concerned About Apple Pay Fraud

Posted on March 25, 2015 by Saldutti

Some banks have begun to make changes in how they activate customers’ credit-card accounts to use Apple Inc.’s new mobile-payment system after reports of fraudulent transactions, according to industry consultants.  The effort is an attempt to thwart criminals who have been typing stolen credit-card numbers into Apple Pay and trying to make purchases with their iPhones. The breaches follow Apple’s October introduction of the service, which lets owners of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus load their credit and bank cards on their smartphones and use them to make purchases at cash registers equipped with a proper wireless connections….

Pampered Pets? Practical Ways to Save on Pet Care

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Saldutti

Pets are like family to us.  They sleep in our beds, eat from our plates, and kiss us when no one is looking. Even though we may think of them as family, pets are not furry children. Would you let your child relieve himself on the front lawn or catch a live mouse with her teeth? But many of us spoil them like they’re our babies. Last year alone, Americans shelled out an estimated $58.5 billion on household animals. That’s a whole lotta puppy chow! So how much should you be spending? While the exact amount is different for every…

Consumer Optimism Reaches New All-Time High

Posted on March 20, 2015 by Saldutti

Amid continued strengthening in employment, consumer optimism toward the economy is growing and appears to be contributing to further improvement in overall housing sentiment, according to results from Fannie Mae’s February 2015 National Housing Survey. The share of respondents who believe the economy is headed in the right direction increased 3 percentage points last month to an all-time survey high of 47%, while the share who believe it is headed in the wrong direction decreased to 45%, a new survey low. Additionally, the share who believe it would be easy to get a home mortgage increased to a record-high 54% while…

Credit Bureaus Will Offer Relief for Medial Debt

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Saldutti

Big changes are coming for your credit report – eventually.  The 3 major credit reporting bureaus,Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, have agreed to make several significant changes over how medical debts will be handled and how disputes over information contained in the reports are resolved. Although a New York state investigation spurred the settlement, most changes will be enacted nationwide. Consumer advocates said the pending changes could make it easier for many consumers to improve their credit. “It seems pretty positive for consumers,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for advocacy group Consumer-Action.org. “So much stems out of credit reports these days. It’s not…

Erin Go Bragh: St. Patrick's Day Trivia

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Saldutti

Looking for a little St. Patrick’s Day trivia to sprinkle in conversation over corned beef and cabbage? From religious observances to drinking rituals to leprechaun lore, ABC News compiled these 10 fun tidbits sure to liven up your festivities. In fact, Patrick was not his given name – “Patrick’s ‘real’ (i.e. Brythonic) name was Maewyn Succat, or in Latin, Magonus Succetus,” reveals Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning, citing Irish legend, in a recent educational infographic it created for the holiday. He took on the name Patrick when he became a priest. If it seems like Guinness is everywhere, it is…