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Personal Finance

We are dedicated to keeping clients abreast of the latest developments and tax-saving strategies. This section includes a library of hundreds of timely articles about business, taxes, finances, trends and the like. The articles are categorized by subject matter, which can be accessed from the links. Click on your topic of interest and find a wealth of information.

CREDIT & DEBT MANAGEMENT

Maintaining good credit allows individuals to take advantage of lower interest rates and rapid access to funds when an appropriate need arises. On the other hand, if you have a less than excellent credit rating, you will pay higher rates and have difficulty obtaining new credit. This can be especially harmful if you wish to buy a home or start a business. The information provided here is to assist in safeguarding and improving your credit.

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Identity Theft and Your Tax Return
You should be very cautious about being duped by Internet identity thieves. We want to remind you about this fast-growing threat and how to protect yourself from being a victim and avoid the immense amount of trouble and aggravation that accompanies identity theft.

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Paying Off Debt the Smart Way
Being in debt isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Most people are, between mortgages and car loans and credit cards and student loans. Being debt-free should always be a goal, but you should focus on the management of it, not the presence of it. It'll likely be there for most of your life, and if you handle it wisely, it won't feel so much like an albatross around your neck.

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How to Improve Your Credit Score
There are myriad important numbers in your financial world, but few as critical as your credit score. This FICO number, ranging from 0-850, can affect your ability to buy a house or car, get a credit card or other loan, or even get a job sometimes.

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Solutions for a Personal Credit Crisis
It can happen any number of ways. You can lose your job. Have an expensive medical emergency. Find yourself with three children in college. Be an adult during the current financial crisis. Whatever causes it, you may find yourself in crisis mode money-wise, and need some quick solutions.

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What Happens When I Default on a Business Loan?
A loan default is the failure to meet the financial obligations indicated in the loan agreement that is signed by you and your lender. Often, a loan default translates into the business owner's inability to pay their debts on time. Due to the differences in each loan agreement, default penalties vary. However, the effects of defaulting on the loan fall into two general categories- immediate repercussions and future implications for both you and your business.

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Understanding Your Credit Rating
The FICO® score, developed by Fair, Isaac (the pioneer in credit scoring), is a number between 300 and 850 that lenders use to determine your credit rating. A FICO® score is a snapshot of your credit rating at a particular point in time. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for loans and receive favorable rates.

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How Is Your Credit Rating Doing?
Whether you are certain that your credit rating is strong, or have had credit problems in the past and want to double check that your credit rating has improved, it's a good idea to review your credit report every few years and check it for accuracy. Below are the names of the three major sources of credit information. It's important to check your credit before making a major purchase like a car or a home, so that when you need to sail through the loan process with your good credit, you'll avoid any surprises. Generally, if you order a credit report via the Web, you'll pay a minimal fee and get the results within a day or two. 

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Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft
Minimize the INFORMATION a thief can steal - The following are some guidelines to help avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud. If you have already become a victim, see our Tips for Victims.

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Tips for Victims of Identity Theft
The following are recommended actions for victims of identity theft.

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Transform Nondeductible to Deductible Interest
The only interest that is still deductible as an itemized deduction is home mortgage interest and investment interest. If you are like so many others with large consumer debt such as credit cards, car payments etc. you are paying interest that is not deductible. If the amount of consumer interest you pay each year is substantial and you itemize your deductions, you may want to consider converting that non-deductible interest into deductible interest by paying off the consumer debt with a home equity line of credit.

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Tips On Reducing Your Debts
Generally, it is sound financial advice for you to get out of debt. But that may be easier said than done, especially if the debt is sizeable compared to your ability to repay. When locked into a long cycle of debt repayment, the drudgery can become a significant burden. The payoff of a particular balance can seem far into the future and you will have to maintain your discipline to eventually get out from under the burden.

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Refinanced Mortgage Interest May Not All Be Deductible
Over the past few years, mortgage interest rates have dropped significantly and homeowners in increasing numbers are refinancing their home mortgages and in the process, have extended the term of the loan and are frequently taking additional cash out to pay down other debts, finance education, buy a car, etc. In doing so, homeowners may be unwittingly creating a situation where part of their home mortgage interest may no longer be deductible.

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Should You Refinance?
There are a number of reasons to consider refinancing: lower payments, lower interest rates, eliminating PMI payments, home improvements, college funds, consolidating debt, purchasing a second home, or even financing a business venture. 

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