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Financial News from Bankrate

  • Fire your home contractor? Do it carefully Bankrate.com - 22 hours ago

    As homeowners regain equity in their homes and remodeling activity picks up, can contractor disputes be far behind? Mark Hinkston, counsel with the law firm of Knuteson, Hinkston and Quinn in Racine, Wisconsin, says, "There is no magic formula for material breach.

  • What the IRS doesn't want you to know Bankrate.com - 22 hours ago
    FILE In this April 13, 2014 file photo, the Internal Revenue Service Headquarters (IRS) building is seen in Washington.  The IRS is cutting taxpayer services to historically low levels just as President Barack Obama's health law will make filing a federal tax return more complicated for millions of families.  (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

    What triggers an audit? While you can't fully protect your tax return from every examination, you should be mindful of some key tax issues when preparing your return. Carl Johnson is a self-employed certified public accountant who has operated an accounting and tax practice in New Orleans for more than 15 years. "Understanding …

  • Wellness programs: What will my boss know? Bankrate.com - 22 hours ago

    With health insurance costs rising, many employers are taking measures to keep a lid on expenses without substantially increasing workers' own contributions toward their coverage. One fast-growing method that employers are using to control health care costs is the corporate wellness program.

  • I incurred all moving expenses twice. I moved to Orlando, Florida, from Weatherford, Texas, by myself on Valentine's Day. We used a moving company to haul our personal effects to our new home. Will I have to wait to claim all moving expenses on my 2015 tax return?

  • Tax statements you need to file Bankrate.com - 22 hours ago

    Each of these groups has, by law, until Jan. 31 (or the next business day when that date falls on a holiday or a weekend) to get their annual tax statements in the mail to you. Form 1095-A -- If you, your spouse or a dependent enrolled in health insurance through a state or federal exchange, also referred to as the marketplace, …

  • Americans' financial security hits 4-year high Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Americans rang in 2015 with the strongest levels of financial security in at least four years, according to a national Bankrate survey. Bankrate's Financial Security Index for January jumped to a reading of 103.1 as survey takers appeared to be less pessimistic about their savings, debt, net worth and overall financial …

  • Fed likely to remain patient as Europe struggles Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    When the Federal Reserve releases its statement on Wednesday, it's likely to emphasize the decline in the nation's unemployment, the lack of wage growth, and inflation that remains well short of the Fed's target. Members of the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, are expected to affirm a pledge they made at their last …

  • How $50K lump-sum payment affects your mortgage Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    The interest rate is 4.75 percent. Bankrate's mortgage payment calculator lets you apply a one-time payment to your mortgage and will show you how it changes the payoff date. An amortization schedule presented with the calculator will show you how your total interest expense changes, too. Input the loan balance, interest …

  • Owe a penalty when you surrender life insurance? Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    My grandparents took out a whole life insurance policy on me 31 years ago. The owner would be your grandparents, unless they legally transferred the ownership to you. You mentioned that your grandparents have stopped paying the premiums. Speaking of beneficiaries, your grandparents probably were the original benefic …

  • Who's a Scrooge: You or your mom? Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    It found that age played a role in who stuck to a budget, and who didn't, this past holiday shopping season. Millennials were most likely to say they overspent during the holidays when compared with other age groups in the January survey. The results echoed the level of financial security among each of the age groups. …

  • Picking the proper 1040 tax return form Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    While all the personal income tax forms -- 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ -- are designed to get the appropriate amount of your money to the IRS, the differences in these returns could cost you if you're not paying attention. The EZ is the shortest and simplest form, Form 1040A is a bit more complex and the long Form 1040 is the …

  • How to get that look: 5 gorgeous bathrooms Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    If you're planning a master bath renovation, you know that such an indulgence doesn't come cheap. In construction or renovation, "the bathroom, per square foot, is one of the most expensive things in your house," says Michael Hydeck, MCR, CKBR, founder and former owner of Hydeck Design Build near Philadelphia. "And sometimes …

  • How to get that look: 5 enviable kitchens Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Maybe you have visions of a large center island and plenty of space to make cookies or roll out pastry dough. "The most expensive room in the house is the kitchen," says Paul DiMeo, designer and builder for "Building Wild" on the National Geographic channel. Besides being the one place in the home where plumbing, electric …

  • 9 tips to motivate your home contractor Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 26, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    You thought you hired the perfect home contractor. Here are nine strategies that building professionals, designers and remodelers use to motivate a difficult contractor. It tells the contractor "these people are serious, they know what they're talking about" and they'll be paying attention to the work. At the same time, …

  • Where to find car-dealer reviews? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    My wife and I are getting ready to buy a new car, but we once had a bad experience at the car dealer that sells the brand we want, so we want to go somewhere else. Is there someplace where we could read reviews of the auto dealers before we decide where to head? Sorry to hear you and your wife had a bad experience at …

  • Refinancing a mobile home loan at a lower rate Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Buying a mobile home, also known as a manufactured home, can be one of the most affordable ways to own. One decision can make a significant difference in monthly payments: whether to finance the mobile home with a personal property loan or a mortgage. Personal property loans, known as chattel loans, have much higher interest …

  • Cheap, fast alternatives to tax-refund loan Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Budget cuts mean that overburdened employees won't be able to issue tax refunds as quickly. Some refund checks, particularly those issued in connection with returns submitted on paper instead of filed electronically, could be delayed for a week or more, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Some taxpayers, upset …

  • Can I pull condo offer over hidden fee hike? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    We're in the middle of a condo purchase, but after signing off on contingencies, we found out about a forthcoming increase in homeowners association (HOA) dues at the complex. Real estate attorneys and most state laws are in accord that if the seller of a residential unit -- be it a condo, single-family home or other format …

  • Do you own too many mobile devices? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Did you find a new smartphone or tablet under the tree last December? Almost half of American adults planned to buy electronics this past holiday season, according to a Gallup poll. To be sure, many of those wrapped-up wonders were mobile devices. Tablets and smartphones, for instance, ranked among the top six tech items …

  • Trying to time the market with a refinance? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 23, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Bringing cash to closing can get you that new mortgage, but you'll still wind up paying private mortgage insurance on a conventional mortgage with less than 20 percent down. If you live in the home, an FHA loan requires less money down, but you'll pay mortgage insurance upfront and in your monthly mortgage payment. An …

  • Home equity loan rates for Jan. 22, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity Line of credit: 4.73% Loan: 6.08% Rates on loans backed by home equity were mixed in Bankrate's weekly survey. The typical ...

  • Mortgage refinance fiesta has no time for siesta Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.81 percent from 3.8 percent last week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders.

  • CD rates for Jan. 22, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Compare CD rates nationally and in your area. CDs 1-year CD yields: 0.28% 5-year CD yields: 0.87% Rates on certificates of deposit rose slightly in this week's rate survey. Up 1 basis ...

  • Auto loan rates for Jan. 22, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best auto rates in your area. Auto Loans 60-month, new car: 4.08% 36-month, used car: 4.9% Rates on auto loans were mostly unchanged this week, according to Bankrate's latest ...

  • Can power of attorney status add to my debt? Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Eight years ago, she opened a credit card for a family member who has now declared bankruptcy. My mother only gets Social Security. I am her power of attorney. Can they go after me since I am her power of attorney?

  • Where will mortgage rates head next week? Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Will rates go up, down or remain unchanged? Intro Up 8% Down 33% Unchanged 59% Panel Prediction Up Down Unchanged 8% 33% 59% This week (Jan. 22-28), 8 percent of the panelists believe mortgage rates will ...

  • Motivate your millennial to save money now Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Millennials -- who have substantially lower incomes and bigger education debts than preceding generations -- now also have a negative 2 percent savings rate, according to Moody's Analytics' analysis of Federal Reserve data. "Parents think, 'Why would they listen to me now when they never did before?'" says Janet Bodnar, …

  • Help for new taxpayers frightened by Form 1040 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Filing a tax return can be daunting for even the most experienced taxpayer. This form details how much you made, along with how much federal and state income tax and Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes were withheld. Tax preparers say it's not uncommon for new taxpayers to show up at their offices unsure about …

  • National mortgage rates for Jan. 22, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best mortgage rates in your area. Mortgages 30-year fixed: 3.81% Average points: 0.25 Mortgage rates edged up this week, but global economic concerns should keep them near ...

  • Widowed and wondering which filing status to use Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    If your spouse dies during the year, the IRS considers you married for the entire year and you can use the filing status "married filing jointly" when your tax return is prepared. This is the last year you can use this filing status unless, of course, you remarry. If there is a personal representative that has been appointed …

  • Credit card interest rates for Jan. 22, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 22, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Credit card rates were unchanged for the fourth week in a row, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of interest rates. The average annual percentage rate, or APR, for fixed-rate credit cards was 13.02 percent, while the APR for variable-rate credit cards was 15.68 percent. The APR for fixed-rate credit cards has held …

  • How to e-file your tax return Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Not surprisingly, e-filing comes in two waves: early filers, who generally are getting tax money back and like the speed e-filing offers in getting the refund process going, and taxpayers who wait until just before the tax deadline to hit the "enter" key. Each of the three previous e-file options might cost you.

  • Is there a law to request a lower interest rate? Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    I read there is a law that allows consumers to request a lower interest rate if they are willing to cancel or pay off their credit card. Sorry to break it to you, but there's no law that entitles a cardholder to a lower interest rate if they call up their credit card issuer and threaten to pay off and close out the card. …

  • Can a reverse mortgage impact Medicaid? Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    If I have a reverse mortgage, do I need to be concerned with the Medicaid "look-back" period if my wife or I needs to go into a long-term care facility? It depends on how long you've been in the mortgage, and how you chose to receive the proceeds from your reverse mortgage. For the uninitiated, Medicaid is a form of social …

  • Using a reverse mortgage to pay off 1st mortgage Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Is using a reverse mortgage to pay off a traditional mortgage a wise move for older homeowners? Reverse mortgages have gained a bad reputation over the years, but they can be a useful financial tool to seniors when used appropriately, says David Johnson, associate professor of finance at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. …

  • Credit card changes likely in 2015 Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    American consumers are turning away from credit cards, and that could have big implications for the way we spend. A much higher percentage of Americans are now using debit cards instead of credit cards for many of their purchases, says Steven J.J. Weisman, senior lecturer in the department of law, tax and financial planning …

  • Couple wants to set post-wedding financial goals Bankrate.com - Wed, Jan 21, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    I'm getting married this May. I'm 29 years old, while my fiancee is 26. I have a retirement plan through work that matches my contributions with $1.50 for every $1 I invest. I also have a Roth individual retirement account, in which I initially invested $10,000. My fiancee doesn't have any retirement savings at all.

  • Find the minimum wage for your state Bankrate.com - Tue, Jan 20, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    I do my own taxes and have the sense I am missing out on some tax breaks and paying too much. Is it possible to have a tax professional review my tax returns from the past three years and check for opportunities or confirm what I did was correct? Does it make sense to hire a tax pro to find missed tax breaks? Yes, I …

  • Leaky dishwasher ruined my floor. Am I covered? Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 19, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Our dishwasher has been leaking for quite some time. The boards supporting it have some rot, and the drywall on the basement ceiling has some mold. Our home insurance company is denying the claim because it says the leak has been ongoing.

  • Avoid rate shock from variable-rate HELOC Bankrate.com - Mon, Jan 19, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    I have a variable-rate home equity line of credit, or HELOC, at 2.9 percent. I'd like to convert it to a fixed-rate mortgage. Would it be beneficial to convert from the HELOC to a fixed-rate HELOC, or fixed-rate mortgage, for a 15- to 20-year term? The HELOC balance is $227,000 and there is no other mortgage on the  …

  • Can bankruptcy delay widow's foreclosure? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 16, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Our condo could go into the foreclosure process in the next few months unless something changes. With medical bills in collections, will I have to find a lease option to buy? First, you should speak with a bankruptcy attorney about your options. Filing for bankruptcy could delay foreclosure and provide time for you to …

  • Can I say no to rental car insurance? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 16, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    My wife and I recently planned a trip, and when she was reserving the rental car online, the form asked if we wanted insurance coverage. I thought the car insurance that rental car companies sold was just a way for them to make a few extra dollars, but my wife is concerned we shouldn't be going without. How important …

  • Will new homeowner have to fix old damage? Bankrate.com - Fri, Jan 16, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Would we as new homeowners be liable for damage to the neighbor's property? Other laws state that homebuyers are not responsible for damage to neighboring properties that occurred before they bought a property.

  • Home equity loan rates for Jan. 15, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity 4.73% (line of credit) 6.11% (loan) Rates on loans backed by home equity ...

  • Which debts can be discharged in bankruptcy? Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    I have debts in the form of credit cards, material to suppliers, a car wreck (I was not insured and it was my fault) and a truck repo. I am so far underwater I cannot possibly make good on these debts. Can filing bankruptcy eliminate these debts? Most of the debts you listed can be discharged in bankruptcy.

  • Are in vitro fertilization costs tax-deductible? Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    IVF procedures are deductible as medical expenses but are subject to the same limitations as all medical expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. For 2015, this means your medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income unless you or your spouse is older than 65.  …

  • Auto loan rates for Jan. 15, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best auto rates in your area. Auto Loans 4.07% (60-month, new car) 4.9% (36-month, used car) Rates on auto loans were mixed ...

  • CD rates for Jan. 15, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Compare CD rates nationally and in your area. CDs 0.27% (1-year CD yields) 0.85% (5-year CD yields) Jumbo certificates of deposit, ...

  • Refi boomlet arises as mortgage rates fall Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Mortgage rates dropped again this week as the stock market tumbled and investors sought safety in U.S. Treasury bonds. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.8 percent from 3.85 percent last week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell …

  • National mortgage rates for Jan. 15, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 5:00 AM EST

    Interest Rate Roundup Mortgages CDs Auto Loans Home Equity Credit Cards Find the best mortgage rates in your area. Mortgages 3.8% (30-year fixed) 0.27 (average points) Mortgage rates dropped again this ...

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