Water changes everything, including food. Simple things like pasta couldn’t be cooked without clean water. Charity:Water wants to make sure that no community has to go without the food and water they need. Read “The ‘Water Changes Everything’ Cookbook, then go to our Facebook page for a chance to win $500 and help communities in need. Like and share our page while you’re there!
So you’ve finally got your tax refund in hand, but now what should you do with it? Check out these great ideas to make the most of your tax refund and help you get ahead financially:
1. Bulk up your emergency fund. Living paycheck to paycheck may have been fine when employment was low and getting credit was easy, but these days, building a financial emergency fund is critical.
“A three-month emergency reserve of all your fixed expenses — mortgage, utilities, food — is ideal,” says Jessica Cecere, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast in West Palm Beach, Fla. “But even if you only put $1,000 into a savings account, you’ll be better off than a lot of people.”
2. Lighten your debt load. The minimum payment you make on your credit card may seem like no big deal. But over time, the money you spend financing your debt, especially if you have an interest rate of 15 percent or higher, can double or even triple the cost of every item you buy on plastic.
“Your tax refund is an opportunity to make headway on your credit card debt,” says Jerry Love, president and chief executive of Davis Kinard & Co., an accounting and audit firm in Abilene, Texas. “Do you really want to be paying for yesterday’s lunch for the next 18 years?”
3. Invest in your career. Getting a big promotion or shifting to a higher-paying career often requires developing new skills. Spend money on continuing education courses, a weekend conference or an online class to learn a new skill.
“Many continuing education courses start at just a couple of hundred dollars,” says Steven Katz, spokesman for Chicago-based TransUnion’s financial management Web site zendough.com. “Invest in your education and you’ll have more earning power in the future.”
4. Get a home energy audit. Home energy audits can cost anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars, but the information you get can help you save far more over the long run, says Kip Kiebke, chief executive officer of New Financial You, a credit counseling service in Hartford, Conn. The audit can show you where to seal up leaks and add insulation.
“With the energy saving measures, utility expenses can be reduced for years, thus saving the homeowner money,” Kiebke says.
5. Add to your retirement account. You have plenty of options for stashing money away for your retirement years, but in general you’ll want to first max out any account that includes an employer match. The free money is just one of the benefits, says Cecere. “Most of the time, that money will come straight from your paycheck so you won’t even see it,” she says.
f your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan or you’ve already put in enough to meet the matching requirement, consider starting an IRA. You’ll have more control over your investment options than with a tradition 401(k), and it’s an easy way to turbocharge your savings, says Cecere.
“The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow,” she says.
6. Tackle maintenance projects. Maybe you never had the money to replace that old furnace, patch that leaky roof or replace the worn tires on your car. Use your refund to complete maintenance projects that can cost you even more if you wait.
“If you have an older home, you may also be able to take advantage of the energy tax credit,” says Love. Buying energy efficient furnaces and air conditioners and replacing roofs won’t just prevent problems, they’ll improve your home’s energy efficiency and earn a federal tax credit on next year’s return.
7. Buy life insurance. If you have a spouse or children who depend on your salary, you should have ample life insurance. To get the most for your money, term insurance is probably your best bet, says Bob Petrocelli, an agent at New York Life Insurance Co. in New York.
“For a few hundred dollars a year, a 35-year-old male can create $500,000 or more of insurance protection,” Petrocelli says. “For very little money, you can create a death benefit that’s pretty significant.”
It’s time to decorate for spring, but you shouldn’t have to bust your budget to do it. These decorating hacks will kickstart your creative side into the decorating genius we know you are, without having to spend a ton of cash.
CLEVELAND, TN, March 9, 2016: Throughout the month of March, Check Into Cash invites you to enter the Make a Splash Giveaway on Facebook. The Make a Splash Giveaway offers a cash prize to one lucky winner, plus a funding contribution to a great cause. At the end of March, one winner will get $500, and Check Into Cash will match the prize with a $500 donation Charity: Water!
“We love to see our customers and prizewinners happy,” said Check Into Cash President Steve Scoggins. “In addition to making our winner smile, this is a chance for Check Into Cash to help bring a basic necessity to people in need.”
The basic necessity Check Into Cash will help provide this month is something many of us take for granted, water. Charity: Water uses public donations to fund projects that bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. $500 from Check Into Cash will go along way toward funding these projects.
“Charity: Water is a great organization for a great cause,” said Scoggins. “We are grateful for the chance to contribute to their efforts.”
For anyone who wants to enter for a chance to win $500, visit Facebook.com/CheckIntoCash before midnight March 31 and select the Make a Splash Giveaway tab. To learn more about Check Into Cash stores and services, check out CheckIntoCash.com. To learn more and/or donate to Charity: Water, visit CharityWater.org.
About Check Into Cash
Founded in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1993 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Allan Jones, the Check Into Cash brand is state regulated and offers customers a wide variety of financial solutions. Check Into Cash stores offer consumer micro-loans, check cashing, Western Union® money transfers, prepaid U.S. Money Cards, and other convenient services as a complete one stop money shop.
Check Into Cash is a founding member of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA), the trade association representing the nation’s payday lenders. The CFSA advocates for best practices and helps enact legislation that balances the needs of the consumer with the interests of the industry.
As a national leader and industry standard bearer, Check Into Cash firmly believes in truthful advertising and full disclosure of its services.
©2016 Check Into Cash, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This spring, make a splash with Check Into Cash. We’re giving away $500 to one lucky winner and, $500 more to Charity: Water to bring clean drinking water to those in need. Visit and like our Facebook page, then enter our contest for a chance to win! To learn more about Charity: Water, click here.
The food drive resulted in approximately 4,200 pounds of food and supplies donated to the organization.
During the 2015 holiday season, Check Into Cash of Cleveland, Tenn., a creditor company with individual members of ACA, coordinated a successful food drive for local charity the Caring Place. The food drive took place in November and December 2015, and resulted in a significant amount of food collected for locals in need.
“The Caring Place is an excellent, caring organization that provides basic necessities to the underprivileged,” said Check Into Cash President Steve Scoggins. “We think initiatives like this deserve all the help they can get, especially around the holidays.”
Through the Loan By Phone division alone, Check Into Cash supplied the caring place with an estimated 4,200 pounds of food and supplies, including 2,500 pounds of water. According to the Food Warehouse Manager at the Caring Place, the great number of contributions from Check Into Cash made an immense impact, with multiple loads of donations collected from every department at the Check Into Cash corporate headquarters.
“If we can help improve the quality of life for one person, it was worth the effort,” Scoggins said. “It looks like our recent food drive helped out many people.”
As spring approaches, so does the intimidating task of spring cleaning. Don’t just clean your house, this year. Take time to clean up your finances, too. You may be glad you did.
1. Review Your Credit Report
By law, you’re entitled to order one free credit report yearly from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can get yours at no cost from annualcreditreport.com. Make sure your credit reports are free of mistakes. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting agency and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting agency) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider.
Unfortunately, the majority of adults in America don’t review their credit report yearly.
Learn more about credit reports, credit scores and fixing credit report errors by clicking here.
2. Organize and/or Shred Old Financial Documents
Sort through your statements, pay stubs, bills and other financial records, and keep only the documents that are absolutely necessary. Since the IRS has up to six years to audit you, keep your tax returns, canceled checks and receipts, and any records supporting your tax deduction for at least six years. If you’re unsure about whether you should get rid of certain types of receipts, scan them or make a copy, then go ahead and shred the rest. But don’t simply toss paperwork in the trash. Leaving important documents in the trash without properly shredding them is a bad idea. They are just waiting to be picked up by an identity thief.
Reducing paper clutter will not only help you stay more organized, it will also put your mind at ease. Plus, since the IRS accepts scanned copies of receipts, having those records available could come in handy in the event of an audit.
Contact your local credit union to find out if they host an annual shred day or event.
3. Record Your Financial Passwords and Store Records in a Safe Place
Make sure you’re not using the same password and log in information for all your online bank accounts and other financial accounts. Even though you might be logging in over a secure Internet connection, there’s still a risk that someone who figures out your password will attempt to access other accounts with the same log in information.
Protect yourself against identity theft by logging your financial passwords in a password protected or encrypted document and storing it in a safe place. Also, important financial documents like a will, stocks certificates or bonds should be put in a safe place like a locked box or an online secure vault.
4. Review your Budget
Is your budget up to date? Have you incorporated any increases or decreases in your income? Take a close look at your budget to see if you need to make any modifications. Make sure you’re reporting expenses accurately and have made some room for savings account contributions. Use a Personal Budget Worksheet to help organize your finances.
5. Set up Automatic Bill Pay
Spring cleaning isn’t only about de-cluttering – it’s also about making things more efficient. Set up automatic bill pay, and link it to your primary checking account. Automatic bill pay will eliminate the chances of missing a payment and paying those pesky late fees.
6. Pay off Holiday Debt Once and for All
What does your current debt load look like? Spring is a good time to look at your total outstanding debts and see which loans or credit cards you could pay off entirely this year. At the very least, put yourself on a stricter debt payoff plan, and pay off any debt you accumulated over the holidays. Cleaning up this debt quickly can put you in a much better financial position for the rest of the year.
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Home is where your pets are, but many pets are being given up and left without a home when finances are tight. To combat the problem, the ASPCA launched their Safety Net program to help enable pet owners to keep their pets through hard times. Read more about it here.
Share the love by entering our Puppy Love Giveaway on Facebook. Don’t forget to like our page while you’re there!
New Study Spotlights Need to Help People Keep their Pets
Everyone is always focused on filing their taxes during tax season, but do you ever think about what to do AFTER you’ve filed your return? These 3 pro tips will set you up for a stress-free tax season next year!
1. Get Your Withholding Figured Out
It’s next to impossible to have exactly the right amount of money taken out of your check, to leave you with a zero balance on your tax return. Most people either owe small amounts or get refunds back from the Internal Revenue Service, having had more money than necessary withheld from their paychecks over the course of the year. In some cases, though, people have far too little money taken out of their pay, and that can lead to costly penalties for not having taken steps earlier in the year to get it right.
A big refund might seem nice, but in reality, it’s just an interest-free loan that you give to the IRS with money you could have collected throughout the year. By filing a new Form W-4 with your employer, you can have your withholding adjusted to give you more take-home pay throughout the year, giving you access to your money sooner. Conversely, you can also file a W-4 to have more money withheld from your pay if you had to pay penalties for the 2014 tax year and want to avoid them next year.
2. Set the Stage for Claiming Valuable Tax Breaks
As you’ve probably noticed in preparing your 2014 return, there are many tax deductions and credits that you might be able to use to reduce your tax bill. In most cases, though, you’ll have to be able to prove that you’re eligible for those tax breaks, either by meeting documentation requirements or simply by keeping good records.
Many people scurry to put together the necessary supporting documents when they prepare their returns, digging through a year’s worth of financial statements and other papers. Now that the tax credits and deductions you qualify for are fresh in your mind, take the opportunity to think about collecting needed documents and paperwork throughout the year, keeping them in a central location and making tax preparation much easier next time around.
3. Get Smarter About Your Investments
Tax rules change from year to year, but one thing that stays the same is that the decisions you make with your investments can have dramatic impacts on your taxes. Just selling a stock at a gain or buying a dividend-paying investment in a taxable account can produce a bigger tax bill than you’d expected.
Often, you can use strategies to keep the tax impact of your investments as small as possible. Individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s, and other tax-favored accounts are available to help you save for retirement, while 529 plans for college savings and health savings accounts for medical expenses fulfill similar functions for other financial needs. The sooner you look into the options you have to take advantage of these tax provisions, the more you’ll save at tax time every year.
Obviously, with the majority of 2015 still ahead of you, you won’t be able to predict your tax liability exactly, and so your tax planning will be imperfect at best even if you do it now while it’s fresh in your mind. Nevertheless, by getting you at least into the right ballpark when it comes to your 2015 taxes, you’ll be in much better shape to handle things once next April rolls around.