The Right Way to Spend Your Tax Refund

In 2015, the average tax refund was greater than $3,000. For some people, being handed that amount of money in a lump sum creates a challenge. Typically, the first reaction is to start spending on “things” without really giving much thought to the process. Within a short amount of time, the money is gone and the individual is left with items that make little sense. Although you might be tempted to spend your tax refund immediately upon receiving the money, this is the perfect opportunity to analyze your financial situation carefully so that you avoid common spending mistakes. Mishandling of Tax Money By understanding the most common mistakes made with tax money, you can make better financial decisions. Frivolous Purchases – For some reason, some people have the mindset that tax money should be used to purchase items that would otherwise never be bought. In reality, your tax refund should work for you, not the other way around. For example, rather than make frivolous purchases, consider investing the money for retirement. Through credit counseling or by talking to a Binghamtom financial advisor, you can learn about different options. A prime example: If you put a $3,000 tax refund into an IRA, which offers a 10 percent return, every year for 20 years, the money will grow to $180,000. You might also use the money for short-term gains, such as taking the vacation of a lifetime or setting yourself up for an even bigger return next year with a tax break by making your home more energy efficient. Never Ignore Debt – Using your tax refund to pay down or off debt is certainly not exciting, but long term, it is highly beneficial. Depending on your situation, unless you get your debt under control, you could find yourself needing a good Binghamtom bankruptcy lawyer for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Avoid Building More Debt – By using your tax money on new debt, you will likely find yourself in a serious financial situation. For instance, if you were to use the money as a down payment on a new car that barely fits your budget, you would end up with additional monthly debt that you cannot afford. Never Use Tax Money to Conquer Debt – While that might seem contradictory to an earlier recommendation, there is a difference in using money to pay off debt versus constantly chasing bills. In other words, if the tax refund pays off one or two bills, great, but if you need the money to pay off debt because your lifestyle consists of overspending, there is a problem. In this case, you need to make appropriate lifestyle changes or perhaps consider debt consolidation. The goal is to live within your means. In reality, your tax refund can help improve your finances only if it is used appropriately. Even if you are tempted, avoid spending the money right away. Instead, take the time to review your debt, goals, and long-term needs to get the most benefit from the tax...

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Getting Assistance with Bankruptcy Filing in Binghamton

Have you ever really given thought to your retirement as to what things you will be doing and how much money you will have to work with? Obviously you want to enjoy your golden years, and in order to do this, careful planning is essential. Without good planning and decision-making, you could find yourself in a situation of hiring an attorney to deal with filing bankruptcy. Unfortunately, millions of people never enjoy retirement due to making costly mistakes. However, by opening a special retirement savings and avoiding big mistakes, you can enjoy the retirement you always dreamed of and never worry about bankruptcy filing in Binghamton.   Avoiding Costly Mistakes Lack of planning is a huge mistake. One of the best ways to save money for retirement is by getting involved with your employer’s retirement program. Of course, not all companies offer such a program, and in that case you will need to find a bank or credit union that has a savings program with a high return on investment. Planning while you are still young is always best, but even if you are in your 40s, 50s, or even 60s, it is never too late to save. Another mistake is not taking full advantage of an employer’s 401(k) matching program. If your company has such a program, always invest the highest dollar amount that will be matched, so that the amount in the fund builds quickly. Although social security certainly helps, you should never depend on it as a sole solution. The average annual income budget for 2016 is $15,000, which, after deducting normal living expenses and the cost of healthcare, is not much. For this reason, you should look into other options to supplement the benefits from social security. Regarding healthcare, you need to be honest about the future cost of staying healthy. After all, healthcare costs are increasing to the point that some people cannot afford proper care. An excellent way to prepare for retirement is to deposit the same amount of money spent on each doctor’s visit into your savings account. Before long, you will have a nice nest egg. To avoid bankruptcy filing in Binghamton, make sure you pay off all debt before hitting retirement age. Otherwise, you end up earning less while still having bills hanging over your head and before long, things spiral out of control.   Planning Your Future With good planning and decision-making, you can avoid these and other retirement mistakes. Of course, if you do make mistakes and need help with bankruptcy filing in Binghamton, it is important to work with a reputable attorney. We invite you to contact us for a free and confidential...

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5 of the Most Common Foreclosure Scams Binghamton Bankruptcy Lawyers Fight

Unless you make your mortgage payments each month as scheduled, you are at risk of foreclosure. Being in this situation is extremely confusing and scary, and, unfortunately, there are people who do nothing but prey on individuals just like you. As Binghamton bankruptcy lawyers, we see it all the time. Fortunately, you have a number of good solutions. By knowing what to look for, you have the opportunity to avoid becoming a victim of a foreclosure scam. Scamming Opportunities Lender Scams – For this, a lender convinces you to refinance with an interest-only loan. At first, you feel financial relief, but once the massive balloon payment comes due, you realize there is no way to pay it. Ultimately, the lender takes the home through foreclosure. Equity Stripping – This involves a mortgage lender aware of your financial struggles encouraging you to pay off the original loan with a new but higher loan. Initially, this gets you out of a dire situation, but before long, making the more expensive monthly payments becomes too much of a burden. In the process, most or all of your home equity is stripped. Without your equity to bail you out, the lender forecloses on the home. Fake Loan Transactions – Phony loans consist of refinancing your home and, as part of this, the lender requires the signing of documentation. Because the documents are complex, you fail to see that by signing, you just turned the title of the property over to the lender for a small amount of money. For this reason, if you are ever asked to sign any documents for a home loan, have a Binghamton attorney review them first. Equity Skimming – Sadly, many people get caught up in this type of scam that involves you signing your home over to a new buyer in exchange for him or her making the payments. The buyer then rents the home out, collecting payments on your behalf. However, instead of making the mortgage payments, this person pockets the money. Obviously, the loan quickly falls behind, leading to the very foreclosure that you were trying to prevent. Loan Flipping – A lender may recommend refinancing your home loan as a way of getting current but also having extra money on hand to purchase a new car, take a vacation, pay off medical bills, and so on. The problem is that refinance loans involve significant fees and other related costs. In fact, the amount you ultimately pay to refinance is usually much greater than the amount you have for paying bills, taking a vacation, and so on. As a result, you find yourself right back in the same situation of facing foreclosure. Take Control Instead of worrying about foreclosure, you want to meet with a reputable Binghamton bankruptcy lawyer. Our attorneys will look at your financial situation and offer appropriate solutions for getting out of debt. The bankruptcy attorney in Binghamton may suggest bankruptcy as a means of avoiding foreclosure. Because this is a major decision, we will discuss this and all other options for you to consider. To determine how we can help you best, please contact us...

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Behind on Your Mortgage?

For many years, I worked alongside big-name mortgage companies as a creditor attorney. From that experience, I learned a lot about the way mortgage companies think and operate. A prime example is that instead of working with homeowners, mortgage companies prefer foreclosure since there are distinct incentives for them. Remember, there are benefits as well as drawbacks for you for each of the options mentioned below. Therefore, it is in your best interest to hire a top Binghamton bankruptcy attorney to assist. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – With this option, you make regular payments and pay all arrears within a five-year period. As attorneys, we have the ability to force your mortgage company to accept a Chapter 13, making this your best and most cost-efficient option. Selling the Home – While your mortgage company would love to see the home sold, this leaves you without a place to live and years rebuilding credit to purchase a new home. The risk is that the sale may not be enough to pay the debt owed. Home Refinance – Refinancing is another possibility, but the home cannot be in foreclosure and you need good credit. Reverse Mortgage – A reverse mortgage is another option if you are a minimum of 62 years old and have significant home equity. For the name of an excellent broker, call a Binghamton bankruptcy lawyer. Pay the Mortgage Current – If there was a way to pay the arrears you would. If you are considering this option, please read our free book prior to making a decision: “What Is the Best Way to Get Out of Debt?” Negotiate with the Mortgage Company – Not only is it nearly impossible to negotiate with a mortgage company, most often there is no resolution. Because of this, we discourage our clients from negotiating. If this is something of interest to you, always have a top Binghamton bankruptcy attorney battling with you. Fight the Mortgage Company – Often, mortgage companies hire high-profile attorneys from New York. In addition to an already significant expense, these attorneys typically ask for a tremendous amount of documentation that increases the fees. Deed in Lieu – A deed in lieu consists of a transfer of the home’s deed to the mortgage company. This may be a valid option, but getting approval from the mortgage company is unlikely. Short Sale – The name short sale is because mortgage companies usually come up short financially, since homes often sell for less than the amount owed. For a short sale to occur, the mortgage company must give permission in most cases. Foreclosure – A foreclosure is going to be the preferred option for mortgage companies. While usually more advantageous to the mortgage company, there are times when you too would benefit. It is important for you to gather all the facts about the options mentioned. For assistance with this, as well as legal guidance through the preferred option for catching up on your mortgage, you can talk to a Binghamton bankruptcy lawyer by...

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Debt Reduction and Credit Counseling – High-Risk Binghamton Bankruptcy Alternatives

If you are currently struggling with financial issues, the very thought of filing bankruptcy is frightening, even though it could easily be the right decision. However, by choosing not to file bankruptcy, you are at risk of being victimized by criminals. To protect yourself, it is always best to seek guidance from a qualified Binghamton bankruptcy attorney like Laura Harris-Courage before making any decision regarding finances. Debt Reduction Companies A prime example is seen with debt reduction companies. These companies make bold promises of reducing debt by 30%, 40%, 50%, or even more. They advertise their services in such a way that everything appears legitimate when, in fact, they are scammers. Often, the fees these companies charge for their services are higher than what it would cost you to file bankruptcy. In exchange for using the services of a debt reduction company, usually only one credit card company is dealt with, which agrees the payoff balance will be reduced. From the outside, this seems like an honest business deal, but debt reduction companies bank on the fact that most people in your situation will not negotiate to have the payoff amount lowered. In reality, the majority of creditors have zero interest in working with debt reduction companies. In fact, if creditors discover that you are working with a company like this, most will become even more aggressive in their efforts to collect a debt. In their minds, not choosing the obvious solution of bankruptcy means that you have something of value not protected by bankruptcy. Therefore, the level of determination to secure any assets intensifies. The bottom line is that debt reduction rarely is a good solution when facing major financial struggles. It is also a bad decision to work with a debt reduction company in trying to get debt reduced. The only time that this kind of company should even be considered is if you are a year or more behind on payments. If bankruptcy is simply not an option, but you have sufficient funds to pay off creditors in full, it makes sense to reduce debt on your own. However, if you decide to go this route, be sure you get everything in writing from the creditors before any money is paid. You should also know that once an agreement is made, your creditors will notify the Internal Revenue Service. When that happens, any portion of unpaid debt written off by the creditors will be taxed. Credit Counseling Services As mentioned, a reputable Binghamton bankruptcy attorney like Laura Harris-Courage will offer advice and guidance to help you through a very difficult situation. Without legal assistance, you could end up like millions of other people who believe that credit counseling services are a better solution. Now, there are times when this type of service is the right choice. For instance, if your level of income is such that you would be forced into paying your creditors completely off, even if bankruptcy is filed, credit counseling services might be the right path to take. The problem is that the majority of income earned by credit counseling companies comes directly from credit card companies, which were initially responsible for creating these services to gain leverage in collecting monies owed. For this reason, many credit counseling services are viewed as being nothing more than collection agencies by the IRS. As to the type of companies that credit counseling services can work with, there are limitations. This is why most deal solely with credit card companies. Keep in mind that once you secure the services of a credit counseling company, your creditors...

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Can you answer YES to any of these questions?

Are you being burdened with any of these scenarios? Can you answer YES to any of these questions? If you answer yes to any of these questions then we can help! Are collection agencies constantly harassing you? Is your mailbox full of overdue notices? Are you using one credit card to pay off another? Has your vehicle been repossessed? Has someone sued you and won? Did your “ex” leave you with all of the bills and only half the household income? Are your total bills as much as you make in a year? Were you laid off from your job and now not working or working for less pay? Have you thought about getting a high interest loan or using your home and/or household goods as security for that loan? Harris-Courage & Grady PLLC understands your frustration and anxiety. As a debt relief firm, we offer real solutions to your financial problems that will bring you peace of mind and a new...

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