Kevin Mercadante With backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry, Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids.
Picture this: You spend months looking for a new job with no luck at all. Then, almost miraculously, you finally get a decent offer, accept it, and start the new job. A month or two later, one of the other employers you interviewed with contacts you. They want to make you an offer.
It turns out to be a good offer for a job you really want. Now you have a problem – a problem plenty of us would love to have – but a problem nonetheless. Do you stay with the employer who took you in out of the cold, or pitch it for the better offer?
Most of you probably learned early on to keep your Social Security numbers safe, secure, and private. These nine digits are your primary personal identification numbers, the key to your accounts and private data. As technology has developed, vulnerability to identity theft increases, yet many people are getting more lax about securing their Social Security numbers.
It seems that nearly everyone wants your Social Security number before they’ll do anything for you or with you. So where do you draw the line?
The federal government provides some guidance by specifying that you’re only required to give out the number in specific circumstances:
Over the past few years, millions of Americans have faced the pain of foreclosure, and many are still navigating the frustrating process of short sales to sell their homes. Each ordeal comes with a long list of hardships, but most people ignore tax implications – until the end of tax season. The IRS rules are too complicated to rush it in April before the tax filing deadline, but help is here (and maybe some good news too).
It’s a good thing most of us only have to file taxes once a year. With all of the confusing terms, complex language, and mind-numbing math, it’s as if the people who write the tax code just wanted to bore us and trick us into a mistake or two.
Even the helpful parts – like when you’d get money back – are tough to deal with. You can easily mix up two key terms: tax deductions and tax credits. Both serve the same purpose, which is to reduce your tax burden based on certain categories of income or expenses, but they work in different ways.
You may have graduated from college recently, or expect to in the coming months. Either way, you’re about to enter an exciting period of your life – perhaps a new career, armed with the education you’ve received over the past few years. You’re ready to go!
But what about your finances? With all that you learned in college, it’s a good bet that personal finance wasn’t part of the agenda. It’s a shame because how you manage your finances – especially in the next few crucial years – may be every bit as important as what you do in your career.
For many people, credit card debt becomes just another burden they feel they have to bear. They become complacent, continuing to carry balances throughout their working lives, and into retirement.
How do you get to the point where credit card debt is just a fact of life? One answer to this question lies in the bills themselves.
When carrying debt, most people look at the obvious numbers to determine what they’re paying to maintain them. The basic arithmetic of interest rates and annual fees can lull you into a false sense of security. If you never look beyond these numbers, you never have to face the true impact your debt is having on your life.
In the housing industry, it’s called “negative equity.” In the automotive industry it’s called being “upside down.” In both cases, it means the same thing: You owe more money on an asset than the asset itself is worth.
When you’re upside down on a car loan, you can end up in big trouble because a car doesn’t grow in value like a house often does. You can list a car as an asset on your balance sheet if you want, but in reality, it’s not an asset or an investment. It’s an expense.
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