About · Press · Contact · Write For Us · Top Personal Finance Blogs
Featured In:
Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

What Is Collision Coverage – Do You Need It in Your Auto Insurance?

By Kira Botkin

car accident frontIf you’re like me, you probably spend more time shopping around for a car than for the insurance you need to protect it. Most states require at least a minimal amount of coverage to protect other drivers from bodily injury or property damage you might cause them while driving. But carrying your state’s minimum insurance requirements may not be enough. After all, it’s primarily designed to protect other drivers and their cars. What about you and your vehicle?

When it comes to car insurance options, there are many. To better protect yourself, you can decrease your deductibles, increase your existing coverage amounts, or add additional coverage, just to name a few.

Click to continue reading...

How Different Types of Debt are Treated in Bankruptcy

By Kira Botkin

wipe away debt chalkboardIf you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, you should know that not all debts are treated equally. For example, certain debts cannot be discharged, or forgiven, and must be repaid in full. Other debts, however, can be completely discharged either immediately or after a few years depending on if you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Also, some debts can be modified so that you can afford the payments and keep the property the debt is attached to, such as a car or home. How your debt will be treated during a bankruptcy will indicate what you have to gain from filing one.

Click to continue reading...

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Your Credit Score?

By Kira Botkin

bankruptcy jumpThe main issue that discourages most people from filing bankruptcy is the detrimental effect is has on their credit. It’s true that a bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to ten years and it seriously hurts your credit score. However, not filing for bankruptcy and allowing your debts to go to collections will also negatively impact your credit.

Depending on the kind of bankruptcy you file, Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your credit score will decrease anywhere from 160 to 220 points. This is enough to take a good credit rating down to a fair or poor one. Since most lenders decide whether or not to extend you credit based on your credit score, a bankruptcy will make it much more difficult to qualify for an auto or home loan or credit cards.

Click to continue reading...

What Is a Credit Report – How to Get a Free Annual Credit Report

By Kira Botkin

credit report magnifying glassYou may have heard that you should check your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks to daylight savings time. So in the spirit of preventing a disaster, why not check your credit report as well?

Checking your credit report should be a regular item on your financial to-do list, since it can show you how others view your creditworthiness and alert you to potential credit report errors or identity theft. We’ll talk about why your credit report is important, when you should consider checking it, and how you can get your free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Click to continue reading...

How to Sell a Used Car on Craigslist Online

By Kira Botkin

woman carWhen you’re selling a car, you’re more likely to get the best price from an individual as opposed to a dealer. When you’re looking for a way to find that individual, remember that Craigslist is a competitive (and still growing) marketplace for car shoppers and sellers.

It’s easy for buyers to search through ads, and you’ll be happy with the free posts to an audience of millions in your area. With pictures and lots of space, you can get more out of the listing than those expensive 20 words you might get in the local paper.

Click to continue reading...

What Is a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) – Rules & Limits

By Kira Botkin

books piggy bankGiven the alarming rate at which universities are increasing their tuition, saving for your child’s college education can seem like a daunting task. But believe it or not, it’s almost more important when you start saving as opposed to how much. So don’t delay.

Fortunately, there are specific accounts that give you a means to invest in your child’s education and provide you with tax-advantages as well.

One popular college-saving option is known as the Coverdell Education Savings Account, or ESA.

Click to continue reading...

Zombie Debt: What It Is and How to Deal with Collectors

By Kira Botkin

zombie debtIf you’ve had debt in the past you couldn’t pay, some of those accounts may have been written off as “uncollectable.” In other words, the company may have stopped trying to collect because they were unable to get you to pay or to reach you at all.

However, in recent years, a new breed of debt collector has started to buy these old debts and is attempting to collect on them all over again.

Given their propensity to rise from the grave, these debts are known as “zombie debt.”

Click to continue reading...

When and Reasons Why to File for Bankruptcy

By Kira Botkin

past due bills handDeclaring bankruptcy is a pretty extreme measure, but used in the right way at the right time, it can save you money, preserve your peace of mind, and get you back on your feet financially.

However, declaring bankruptcy can also be expensive and time-consuming, and have a huge impact on your credit store. This, in turn, can have far-ranging effects on other aspects of your life, such as buying a new car or home, or even applying for jobs. Also, waiting to declare bankruptcy until you are completely broke can actually work against you.

Click to continue reading...

How to Declare and File for Bankruptcy – 4-Step Process

By Kira Botkin

bankruptcy wordsPetitioning for bankruptcy can be a long process, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult one. Most of it is simply a matter of filling out the paperwork correctly and approaching things in the right order.

When a debtor attempts to declare bankruptcy, their case is examined by a government employee called a trustee. The trustee is responsible for overseeing the bankruptcy and handling issues throughout the process. Most petitioners deal mainly with the trustee, and won’t actually have to appear in court, other than to confirm their debt payment plan for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A large portion of bankruptcy cases are handled mostly through paperwork, and are more like an administrative process than a legal proceeding.

Click to continue reading...

10 Factors That Affect Your Health Insurance Premium Costs

By Kira Botkin

doctors office cardIf you search for health insurance quotes online, you will receive a range of prices from different insurance companies for very similar policies. Different insurance companies assign differing values to components in your risk profile. The information in your insurance application, and your medical history, comprise your risk profile.

Insurance companies use historic data and extensive product research to compile various factors and create a benchmark for risk profiles. The companies review your risk profile, the information included in your health insurance application, against their company benchmarks to decide whether or not to provide you with insurance.

Click to continue reading...

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Which Should You File?

By Kira Botkin

bankruptcy eraserIf you’ve decided to declare bankruptcy, it’s important to understand the different types. Both Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy offer unique benefits.

Which one will make sense for you depends on your personal situation including, but not limited to, the amount of debt you have, your income, and the value of your assets.

Which Do You Qualify For?

Anyone can submit a bankruptcy petition (i.e. your “application”) for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, the court does not have to accept your petition if the trustee determines that you should be filing for the other type of bankruptcy, or if you do not qualify to declare bankruptcy at all.

Click to continue reading...

What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Filing Rules & Information

By Kira Botkin

bankruptcyFiling for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop creditor harassment, runaway interest rates and fees, and can provide you with a structured plan for paying down your debt. It’s sometimes referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy because it reorganizes your debts so that you can afford to pay them.

Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it does not completely discharge your debts, but rather provides you with the structure to pay them off using your income. People who might benefit from Chapter 13 bankruptcy have regular income, but aren’t able to afford their debt payments and living expenses. Generally, under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a three to five year payment plan is established and once all the payments under the plan have been made, any remaining debt is eliminated.

Click to continue reading...

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Filing Rules & Means Test

By Kira Botkin

bankruptcy billsWhen you think of bankruptcy, you probably think of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is sometimes referred to as a “straight bankruptcy” or a liquidation. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows most debts to be entirely forgiven without entering into a payment plan.

Your non-exempt assets are “liquidated,” or sold off, in order to pay for at least a portion of your debt. After the proceeds are distributed to your creditors, the remainder of  your dischargeable debt is forgiven.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be appropriate if you have significant debt you can’t currently pay and don’t foresee an ability to pay in the future. It is an extreme measure, but can offer a way out from an otherwise untenable situation.

Click to continue reading...

H&R Block Income Tax Course – How to Become a Tax Preparer

By Kira Botkin

hr block logoIf you’re handy with finances, you might have helped some of your family or friends do their taxes. Want to get paid for it? If you take the H&R Block tax course, you’ll learn a lot about how taxes work and get an opportunity to work for H&R Block during tax season.

This class is very comprehensive and will teach you a ton about taxes that you can use in your own tax preparation, when you’re helping your friends, or planning ahead for next year. I took it a few years ago and had a great time while learning a lot.

Click to continue reading...

Frivolous Tax Arguments and Cases of IRS Tax Fraud

By Kira Botkin

money handcuffsOver the years, many people have conjured up incredible arguments about why they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Using convoluted arguments or ultra-specific, twisted-around readings of tax codes, they convince themselves that the tax laws are there to be ignored.

There’s a reason the United States Tax Court officially refers to these claims as “frivolous tax arguments.” They have rules about people who try these moves, and they’ve thrown thousands of people in jail for wasting their time with these attempts to get out of their fair share of taxes.

Click to continue reading...

The content on Money Crashers is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers.
Advertising Disclosure: We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.
Links monetized by VigLink