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Unfortunately for many, it means lots of debt. Here are some tips for tackling holiday debt.

Tips for Tackling Holiday Debt

The holiday season is an exciting time of year for many people. It’s a time to spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy delicious food, drink eggnog by the fire, and exchange presents with loved ones! But it can also be a stressful period for some people because they often overspend during the holidays. This article will provide tips for tackling holiday debt so you can have peace of mind this holiday season.

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Home Updating: Area Rugs and Runners

When you think of doing one thing at a time in your home, you have to plan. You must add one thing at a time to make a scene once you have a plan. Then when you are at the end of the vision and it has come together, you will be proud to see the planning came together. You might want to consider new interior French doors. When you do this in your home, you want to make sure that the updating you are doing will be worth it.

Money is needed to update a home and there are so many things you could do to your home to update it. That is why planning is important. Read more

Facing medical bills, home purchase opportunities, loss of a job, or have a business idea? Learn how to get money now.

In Need of Cash? Here Are 5 Ways to Get Quick Funding

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Whether you are facing medical bills, home purchase opportunities, loss of a job, or have a business idea- money is essential, especially right now. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have enough cash on hand for emergencies.

 

Some people do not like the idea of borrowing money and resort to getting additional jobs or selling their things. They fail to realize that borrowing money is also helpful in making big purchases or paying for big-ticket expenses.

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Value of a dollar

How We Are Teaching Our Kids About the Value of a Dollar

As our two oldest boys are 13 now, it seems like a great time to really help them figure out the world of money. Since we have 5 children, at all different ages, teaching them about money can get tricky because they are all at different stages. That being said, we are working diligently to teach our kids about the value of a dollar. Read on if you want to hear more about our most recent adventure with kids and phones! Read more

Vacation

Was I Able to Keep Our Vacation Frugal?

If you read my last post, then you will remember that my two children and I were getting ready to head out on our annual birthday summer trip. I always try to make the trip a ton of fun, but also on the more frugal side. So here is the big question: Was I able to keep our vacation frugal? And did I do it cheaper than last year?

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Working with Lenders to get the Best Loan

These days, getting a loan isn’t always a walk in the park. Most lenders have tightened their requirements for qualifying for a loan because of the losses they incurred during the economic downturn a few short years ago. More stringent qualification criteria means individuals with past credit blunders, those who have unstable income, or those who have several other monthly debt payments may need to put in more effort to secure the financing they need. Not all is lost in the loan market today, but it’s important for prospective borrowers to understand what it takes to get approved. Here what borrowers need to do when it comes time to get a loan.

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10 Brilliant Ways to Keep Young Kids Active and Entertained for Free

Enjoy this guest post from fellow blogger Sandra Cobain. 

Kids need plenty of exercise for good health. It’s a no brainer, right?

Along with preventing health complications from obesity, exercise has a ton of benefits including strong bones, better endurance, deeper sleep, better focus, less stress and an improved mental health, among others.

So how do you get your kids to exercise? Probably not by taking them to the gym and putting them on a treadmill. I doubt they’ll get excited about that. Read more

Got Clutter? Use It to Lower Your Tax Bill with a Charitable Donation

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It’s a fact of life — the more time goes by, the more stuff you accumulate. Much of this stuff outlives its usefulness quickly, so decluttering becomes a necessity. But what to do with the clothes, miscellaneous household items, toys, furniture, and other things that you no longer need, use, or want? When you donate them to an IRS-approved charity, you can take a tax deduction for the fair market value of these items and easily calculate it using online taxes software.

That deduction can add up, especially if you’re donating big-ticket items like large appliances, furniture, or a car or boat. But what is the fair market value of your old stuff and how can you determine it? What kinds of noncash items qualify for donation, and what documentation will you need to take the deduction?

Most charities make it easy to determine the fair market value of noncash goods; you just need a receipt for the donation, some photos of the donated items for your records, and appropriate forms to file with your tax return.

Donate Your Stuff

You can take a charitable tax deduction for almost any kind of noncash item. Big-ticket items like cars, furniture, large appliances, boats, and designer clothing will obviously net you the biggest deductions. But you can also take deductions for miscellaneous household items, toys, used clothing, books, DVDs, CDs, games, small appliances, and other less valuable items as long as they’re in good condition.

While you can only take a charitable deduction for donated items that are considered in good condition and working order, the IRS itself doesn’t determine what that means; you’ll have to refer to the guidelines of the charity to which you’re donating. The only exception is if you have a single item of clothing, or a single household item, that has been appraised at a value of at least $500. You may take a deduction of such an item even if it is in poor condition.

Keep Your Documentation

When you donate noncash items to a charity, it’s a good idea to take photos of the items first, just in case you need to prove to the IRS that the stuff was in good condition. You should also receive a receipt for the donated items from the charity in question. This will stand as proof of your contribution. You’ll need to file IRS Form 8283 with your tax return. You should be able to find a free tax calculator online that can help you accurately fill out the form.

Determine the Fair Market Value

According to the IRS, a noncash item’s fair market value is whatever a “willing buyer” would give for the item and a “willing seller” would take for the item, when both are engaging in the transaction freely and have “reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.” If you’re donating items worth less than $5,000, you can determine their fair market value yourself without the help of an appraiser.

Most charities offer online guides to determining the fair market value of items like used clothing, small appliances, used books, toys, and other small-ticket items. For example, according to the Goodwill’s online donation value guide, a used floor lamp is worth $8 to $34, while a used sheet is worth $2 to $9, and a used woman’s blouse is worth $4 to $9. You can also consult IRS publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

If you want to donate an item worth more than $5,000, you will need a professional appraisal of that item. If you donate a boat or car, however, the charity in question will most likely sell the boat or car at auction for cash rather than keeping it for sale in a thrift shop. In that respect, donating a boat or car is similar to donating cash to a charity, since the organization in question will let you know how much they were able to get for the sale of your item.

Thanks to a 2005 rule change, you’ll only be able to deduct the final sale price of the car or boat, rather than its fair market value. That means if your boat or car has a fair market value of $5,500, but the charity to which you donated it sells it at auction for $5,000, you will only be able to deduct $5,000 from your taxes. The IRS implemented this rule in response to taxpayers overvaluing donated cars and boats.

Donating noncash items to charity can knock thousands off your tax bill, and help you declutter your home at the same time. Free up extra living space, organize your things, help the less fortunate, and protect the environment by keeping your unused items out of the landfill. You could find that deducting noncash donations from your taxes is so simple, you’ll want to do it every year!

How We Broke the New and Shiny Cycle

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See that pic? That’s the odometer on our 2005 Chevy Suburban. It just hit 200,000 miles this last month.  I love our 2005 truck. It runs great. Looks good. And fits all of our needs. The fact that it’s eleven years old doesn’t phase me a bit, but it wasn’t always that way.

For years we were addicted to “new and shiny”. In our defense, we stayed mostly away from “big” new and shiny things after we moved to our McMansion in 2001. We moved to the McMansion right along with our 1999 Ford Windstar and our 2000 Chevy Silverado, both of which were bought new and shiny off the showroom floor. Read more