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To benefit from insurance coverage, youâll need to pay a premium. A premium is a payment to your insurer that keeps your coverage in place. Insurance companies determine your premium by deciding what the risk is to insure you. Hereâs a breakdown of the basics to help you understand what a premium is, why you have to pay it, how it works and ways to reduce your costs.
What Is a Premium?
An insurance premium is effectively the cost of your insurance, whether for health, auto or life insurance. Most companies allow you to pay the annual premium via monthly installments. However, some companies may require you to pay your premium on an annual basis or a semi-annual basis. Some may even want the entire insurance premium up front. Companies often decide they want the insurance premium up front if you have previously had your insurance policy canceled for non-payment.
The price of a premium is usually decided by an actuary or underwriter who takes a base calculation. The base calculation determines what the risk is to insure you. After the base calculation, the company may discount it based on your health, driving record, location and other personal details. This is all based on the type of insurance youâre looking to secure, too.
Your premium may also be determined based on your insurance history. Every insurance company uses different criteria to determine premiums. Some companies use insurance scores based on personal factors like credit rating, car accident frequency, personal claims history and occupation. If your personal factors are attractive to certain companies, you may want to secure a plan with one of them. It could mean a lower cost premium.
You may also pay more money for higher amounts of coverage, whether youâre purchasing life insurance, car insurance, health insurance or any other kind of insurance.
The value and condition of what you are insuring can also change the amount of coverage you need. For example, if youâre a healthy 28-year-old with no kids, your life insurance premium may be very inexpensive because you might not need a large policy. However, the price could increase as you age and your health and family situations change because you may need more coverage.
How Can You Lower Your Rates?
The type of coverage you purchase affects your premium. If you get more comprehensive coverage with your insurance policy, it may raise your insurance premium. For example, if you insure your vehicle for all risks, you may have to pay more than if you insured it with a policy that doesnât include collision coverage.
Deductibles can reduce your insurance premiums, as well. An insurance deductible is the cost you pay before the insurance company pays anything. If your car is insured and you have a $1,000 deductible, you have to pay $1,000 before the insurance company will begin to cover any costs. If there are $3,000 in damages to your vehicle, you would have to pay $1,000 and the insurance company would pay the other $2,000. As a general rule, the higher your deductible, the lower your premiums.
In the case of health insurance, taking on a higher deductible, higher co-pays or longer waiting periods may lower your costs. However, if you can afford a plan with a lower deductible, you may want to take that. Lower deductible health plans offer customers more predictable prices for higher amounts of coverage.
Your homeowners insurance premium may be affected by the coverage limits you choose, your deductible amount, optional coverages you select, your homeâs age and condition, your claims history and your credit rating.
Car insurance premiums may be affected by your age, your credit score, your driving record, the age of your car, the type of coverage you chose, coverage limits you select, where you live and drive, and how often you drive.
Your life insurance premium may be affected by the amount of life insurance coverage you buy, the type of life insurance policy you select, the length of your policy, and your age, health, and life expectancy.
Some companies, specific policies or types of coverage have insurance limits. An insurance limit is the maximum amount of money the company will pay. Typically, the higher your insurance limit, the higher your premium. Itâs also the inverse of a deductible. You pay the part of the claim or claims thatâs more than the limit on your policy.
Insurance limits can be on a per occurrence basis or on an aggregate basis. For example, a per occurrence basis could be a $20,000 insurance limit on bodily injuries per person, per car accident. An aggregate insurance limit might be a $100,000 limit on construction costs in the event of a natural disaster.
Car insurance laws and policies typically list liabilities as a set of three numbers that stand for the coverage limits when youâre responsible for an accident. If your numbers were 22/66/15, your insurance would cover $22,000 for bodily injuries per person, $66,000 in total bodily injury coverage per accident and $15,000 for property damage per accident. For personal injury protection, collision and comprehensive coverage, the numbers are listed as a single amount for each type of coverage. Your state may have specific minimum limits for certain coverages, so make sure youâre getting a fair rate.
Healthcare laws often change, and many lifetime and annual health insurance limits are illegal. However, some health insurance policies still list annual limits or limits on the number of times certain treatments will be covered, such as acupuncture, chiropractic services and orthotics. Companies may also place limits on prescription medication to keep costs down. There may be policies such as âstep therapy,â which requires you to try less expensive drugs first, or quantity limits, such as only covering 30 pills in 30 days.
Your homeowners insurance policy will often list separate limit amounts for different types of coverage. The limit amounts for liability coverage â in case youâre sued by someone for property damage or injuries that occur on your property â may be different than the limit amount for damage to your home and personal property. Make sure you review all of your homeowners insurance coverage limits, such as the amount it may cost to rebuild your home (dwelling coverage), liability coverage and personal property coverage.
Itâs important to shop around for insurance because different companies have different target clients. You may be the target client for one company, but not for another. That means your premium may be lower with one company than another. The price you pay for your insurance may include taxes or fees, as well. And these could differ from company to company. Before shopping around, call your insurance company and see if theyâre willing to lower your premium.
In addition, insurance companies may decide to pursue a new market segment. That can lower rates on a temporary basis, or on a more permanent basis if that works for the company. In either case, you can get a better deal on your insurance if you are part of the demographic that insurance company wants to attract.
The best insurance company for you may not be the best insurance company for your parents or your best friend. It all depends on your age, location and many other factors.
The Bottom Line
Your insurance company will assess the financial risk of insuring you. The greater they perceive that risk to be, the more your premium will cost. Itâs important to make sure you let your insurance company know all the ways in which you are a low-risk or lower risk client in order to get premium reductions. After shopping around, youâll be able to find the insurance policies that are best for your financial situation.
Tips for Reducing Insurance Costs
- Consider all of the insurance options available based on your individual circumstances. This can help you save money. A comprehensive budget calculator can help you understand which option is best.
- If you need extra help weighing your insurance options, you might want to consider working with an expert. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs can be easy. SmartAssetâs free tool will match you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to learn about local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/skynesher, Â©iStock.com/kate_sept2004, Â©iStock.com/AndreyPopov
The post A Beginnerâs Guide to Insurance Premiums appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
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Your grocery bill can add up fast. From dinner entrÃ©es to snacks, the amount you spend directly affects your other financial goals. Luckily, there are some guidelines to ensure youâre not overspending.Â
Use the grocery calculator below to estimate your monthly and weekly food budget based on guidelines from the USDAâs monthly food plan. Input your family size and details below to calculate how much a nutritious grocery budget should cost you. Of course, every family is different. Some love coupons and leftovers, while others prefer fresh fish and aged cheese. Once youâve established your budget, use the slider to adjust your estimate to your spending habits.Â
Getting your food budget on point takes practice. With this grocery calculator and the right spending habits, youâll have enough for your living expenses and exciting financial goals like paying off loans or buying a house.
Grocery Budget Calculator
A moderate grocery budget will run you:
Weekly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
Monthly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
What kind of spender are you?
Does your estimate look right? If your spending habits don’t add up, explore these other budget options and choose what’s best for your lifestyle.
Thrifty This is the USDAâs estimated food budget for families that receive food assistance like WIC or SNAP.
Cost-Conscious This is an ideal budget for nutritious meals if youâre looking to save a little extra cash with leftovers and coupons.
Moderate This is the standard for affordable, nutritious, and balanced portions for most families.
Generous This budget gives you some spending wiggle room for finer foods or extra portions.
See where the rest of your budget is going Sign up for Mint
Monthly Grocery Budget
Ever wonder how much you should spend on groceries?Â The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.
Hereâs a monthly grocery budget for the average family. This is based on the national average and likely varies by location and shop. For instance, New York City grocers are going to be far more expensive than Kansas City shops. Additionally, organic grocery stores like Whole Foods are pricier than places like Walmart or Aldi.
Youâll also want to consider dietary choices, like gluten-free or vegan diets. These can significantly affect your budget, so consider planning your grocery list online to compare prices and find your preferred alternatives.
Finding a reasonable monthly grocery budget ensures you and your family have what you need, while not overspending. Look back at previous months using a budgeting app or credit card statements to see what youâve spent at the grocery store. Decide if you want to maintain your current budget or cut back.
Purchasing Groceries vs. Dining Out
Donât forget what you spend at restaurants when you consider your food budget. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend 11 percent of their take-home income on food. It doesnât all go towards groceries, though. Approximately six percent is spent on groceries, while five percent is spent dining out â including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.
With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Rita makes $3,500 per month after taxes. She would budget six percent for groceries ($210) and five percent for restaurants ($175). So sheâll need a total of $385 for food each month. With a little practice, sheâll better learn her habits and be able to accurately adjust her budget.
Tips for Reducing Your Budget
There are several ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food. Trimming your food budget can help you stow away more for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a dream vacation.
Coupons are easy to find in the mail, in store, in your inbox, and even in a Google search. Many popular grocery stores are rolling out apps that track your coupons and savings. Be sure to download and register your email for new updates and sales. These usually work in person or online, so you can shop when and how you like.Â
While a single coupon might not give you a large discount, you can save a lot with multiple coupons. Itâs also important you make sure you actually need the item youâre purchasing instead of buying it for the sale. This can quickly get out of hand and push you over budget.Â
Freeze Your Food
Freezing your fresh food before it goes bad helps your wallet and the environment. You can plan ahead and freeze prepared produce to save time on weekday cooking, or chop and freeze last weekâs produce before shopping for more. Frozen vegetables are great in soups and stews, and you can use frozen fruits for healthy breakfast smoothies.Â
Plan a Weekly Menu Ahead of Time
Plan your meals ahead of time to determine the food items and quantities you need before you head to the grocery store. This way youâre more likely to buy the exact items you need and can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to plan for recipes that use the same ingredients so thereâs less to purchase. You can also make larger meals and plan leftovers for lunch so you have less to plan and purchase.
Bring Lunches to WorkÂ
A $13 lunch out might not seem like much, but it can blow your food budget fast if it becomes a habit. Push your monthly food budget further with delicious lunches from home. Salads, sandwiches, and leftovers are all easy, inexpensive, and nutritious.Â
Buy Store BrandsÂ
Many packaged products have a huge price disparity between brand name and generic items, and store brand items tend to be cheaper without sacrificing much quality. You can easily save 10 cents to a dollar per item, which adds up quickly over many trips.Â
Shop at a More Affordable Store
Your local farmers market, chain grocery, and organic store will all offer different specialties and sales. Check out the different shops in your area to find the best combination of quality and price. Some stores might even offer bulk items â great for your favorite products and those with a long shelf-life. Choosing cheaper staple items like milk and yogurt can also make a huge difference over time.Â
An accurate food budget that works for you helps you feel more confident and in control of your finances. Build a budget, learn your spending habits, and keep a grocery list to keep you on track and responsible so you can reach bigger goals, like a new vehicle or a down payment on a house.Â
Sources:Â USA Today |Â EurekAlert | Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet
The post How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator appeared first on MintLife Blog.
In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Inheriting property or other assets typically involves filing the appropriate tax forms with the IRS. Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is used to report a beneficiaryâs share of an estate or trust, including income as well as credits, deductions and profits. A K-1 tax form inheritance statement must be sent out to beneficiaries at the end of the year. If youâre the beneficiary of an estate or trust, itâs important to understand what to do with this form if you receive one and what it can mean for your tax filing.
Schedule K-1 (Form 1041), Explained
Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is an official IRS form thatâs used to report a beneficiaryâs share of income, deductions and credits from an estate or trust. Itâs full name is âBeneficiaryâs Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.â The estate or trust is responsible for filing Schedule K-1 for each listed beneficiary with the IRS. And if youâre a beneficiary, you also have to receive a copy of this form.
This form is required when an estate or trust is passing tax obligations on to one or more beneficiaries. For example, if a trust holds income-producing assets such as real estate, then it may be necessary for the trustee to file Schedule K-1 for each listed beneficiary.
Whether itâs necessary to do so or not depends on the amount of income the estate generates and the residency status of the estateâs beneficiaries. If the annual gross income from the estate is less than $600, then the estate isnât required to file Schedule K-1 tax forms for beneficiaries. On the other hand, this form has to be filed if the beneficiary is a nonresident alien, regardless of how much or how little income is reported.
Contents of Schedule K-1 Tax Form Inheritance Statements
The form itself is fairly simple, consisting of a single page with three parts. Part one records information about the estate or trust, including its name, employer identification number and the name and address of the fiduciary in charge of handling the disposition of the estate. Part Two includes the beneficiaryâs name and address, along with a box to designate them as a domestic or foreign resident.
Part Three covers the beneficiaryâs share of current year income, deductions and credits. That includes all of the following:
- Interest income
- Ordinary dividends
- Qualified dividends
- Net short-term capital gains
- Net long-term capital gains
- Unrecaptured Section 1250 gains
- Other portfolio and nonbusiness income
- Ordinary business income
- Net rental real estate income
- Other rental income
- Directly apportioned deductions
- Estate tax deductions
- Final year deductions
- Alternative minimum tax deductions
- Credits and credit recapture
If you receive a completed Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) you can then use it to complete your Form 1040 Individual Tax Return to report any income, deductions or credits associated with inheriting assets from the estate or trust.
You wouldnât, however, have to include a copy of this form when you file your tax return unless backup withholding was reported in Box 13, Code B. The fiduciary will send a copy to the IRS on your behalf. But you would want to keep a copy of your Schedule K-1 on hand in case there are any questions raised later about the accuracy of income, deductions or credits being reported.
Estate Income and Beneficiary Taxation
If you received a Schedule K-1 tax form, inheritance tax rules determine how much tax youâll owe on the income from the estate. Since the estate is a pass-through entity, youâre responsible for paying income tax on the income thatâs generated. The upside is that when you report amounts from Schedule K-1 on your individual tax return, you can benefit from lower tax rates for qualified dividends. And if thereâs income from the estate that hasnât been distributed or reported on Schedule K-1, then the trust or estate would be responsible for paying income tax on it instead of you.
In terms of deductions or credits that can help reduce your tax liability for income inherited from an estate, those can include things like:
- Depletion allocations
- Estate tax deduction
- Short-term capital losses
- Long-term capital losses
- Net operating losses
- Credit for estimated taxes
Again, the fiduciary whoâs completing the Schedule K-1 for each trust beneficiary should complete all of this information. But itâs important to check the information thatâs included against what you have in your own records to make sure that itâs correct. If thereâs an error in reporting income, deductions or credits and you use that inaccurate information to complete your tax return, you could end up paying too much or too little in taxes as a result.
If you think the information in your Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is incorrect, you can contact the fiduciary to request an amended form. If youâve already filed your taxes using the original form, youâd then have to file an amended return with the updated information.
Schedule K-1 Tax Form for Inheritance vs. Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)
Schedule K-1 can refer to more than one type of tax form and itâs important to understand how they differ. While Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is used to report information related to an estate or trustâs beneficiaries, you may also receive a Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) if you run a business thatâs set up as a pass-through entity.
Specifically, this type of Schedule K-1 form is used to record income, losses, credits and deductions related to the activities of an S-corporation, partnership or limited liability company (LLC). A Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) shows your share of business income and losses.
Itâs possible that you could receive both types of Schedule K-1 forms in the same tax year if you run a pass-through business and youâre the beneficiary of an estate. If youâre confused about how to report the income, deductions, credits and other information from either one on your tax return, it may be helpful to get guidance from a tax professional.
The Bottom Line
Receiving a Schedule K-1 tax form is something you should be prepared for if youâre the beneficiary of an estate or trust. Again, whether you will receive one of these forms depends on whether youâre a resident or nonresident alien and the amount of income the trust or estate generates. Talking to an estate planning attorney can offer more insight into how estate income is taxed as you plan a strategy for managing an inheritance.
Tips for Estate Planning
- Consider talking to a financial advisor about the financial implications of inheriting assets. If you donât have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesnât have to be complicated. SmartAssetâs financial advisor matching tool can help you connect with professional advisors in your local area in minutes. If youâre ready, get started now.
- One way to make the job of filing taxes easier is with a free, easy-to-use tax return calculator. Also, creating a trust is something you might consider as part of your own estate plan if you have significant assets you want to pass on.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/fizkes, Â©iStock.com/urbazon, Â©iStock.com/dragana991
The post A Guide to Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
With the turning of the calendar comes the start of tax season, where people collect their W-2s and 1099s and prepare for the process of filing income tax returns. For many, a big part of that tax filing process is deductions, and here are three reader questions on that topic. 1. What if you donât […]
The post Tax Season Is Approaching â We Answer 3 Questions About Deductions appeared first on The Simple Dollar.
If your coronavirus checks are long gone, you could have more stimulus money coming your way, even if Congress doesnât do another thing. And if you didnât qualify for a check based on your past tax return, you could get stimulus money if you file a tax return for 2020 that shows youâre eligible.
Hereâs why: Both the first stimulus check and the second stimulus check are an advance on a temporary 2020 tax credit. But because of the urgency of the situation, the IRS was directed to get us that money ASAP, using information from our 2018 or 2019 returns.
That means if your tax situation changed through the course of the year, you could get stimulus money if your 2020 return shows that youâre eligible.
8 Reasons You Could Get Stimulus Money With Your 2020 Refund
If one or more of these scenarios apply, you might get more coronavirus money in 2021 by submitting a tax return. And relax: You wonât owe more at tax time or get a smaller refund as the result of receiving a check.
1. Youâre No Longer Claimed as a Dependent
Attention, Class of 2020: If your parents or someone else claimed you as a dependent in 2019 but they donât in 2020, you could get an $1,800 credit â $1,200 from the first check and $600 from the second one â provided that you file a tax return.
Generally, you can be claimed as a dependent if youâre under 19, or youâre under 24 and a student, if your parents provide at least half of your support.
2. You Had a Child in 2020
The parents of any bundle of joy who arrives in 2020 will be eligible for an $1,100 child coronavirus credit: $500 from the first round and $600 from the second. Theyâll have to wait until they file their 2020 tax return, since the IRS doesnât have record of these new additions yet.
3. Your Child Was Born in 2019, but You Took Advantage of the Tax Extension
If you had a child in 2019 but got a late start on filing your 2019 return due to the coronavirus tax extension or you filed on paper, the IRS probably processed your first payment using your 2018 return. Youâll get the extra $500 child credit next year when your 2020 return is accepted. But provided that your 2019 return has been accepted, you may receive $600 for your child from the latest round with your second stimulus check.
4. You Get Social Security or SSI Benefits and Have a Dependent Child
The IRS automatically processed coronavirus checks for people who arenât required to file a tax return and receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement, SSDI, SSI or VA benefits.
But in many of these situations, the IRS only received the information needed to send the recipient the $1,200. They didnât get information about dependent children who qualified for $500 coronavirus child credits unless the recipient provided it using the non-filer tool on the IRS website within a pretty narrow timeframe.
If you got a $1,200 payment for yourself but didnât receive the extra payments for dependent children under 17, youâll need to file a 2020 tax return to get the extra $500, even if you donât normally need to file. The same applies if you donât get the $600 credit with your payment in the latest round.
5. Your Income Dropped in 2020
A lot of people will no doubt have a lot less income to report in 2020 than they did in 2018 or 2019. If you didnât qualify for the first check because your previous income was above the $99,000 threshold for singles or $198,000 for married couples, you could qualify based on your 2020 income. The second check has a lower phaseout because itâs smaller, so you wonât receive one if youâre single with an income above $87,000 or married with an income above $174,000.
Likewise, if your payment was reduced because your income was above $75,000 if youâre single or $150,000 if youâre married, youâd get the difference when you file your 2020 return.
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6. You and Your Childâs Other Parent Take Turns Claiming Them for Taxes
The Washington Postâs Michelle Singletary reported on this odd quirk of stimulus payments: It appears that in situations where divorced, separated and never-married parents take turns claiming their dependent children on taxes, each parent could wind up with a $500 payment.
Whoever claimed the child for 2019 probably received both the $500 and $600 payments with their stimulus check. But since the payments are technically a credit for 2020 taxes, there could be a loophole that allows the other parent to get the credit for the same child when they file next year.
7. You Increased Your Retirement Contributions in 2020
Suppose youâre a single filer who earned $80,000 in 2019 and your income stays the same in 2020. You would have gotten a $950 coronavirus check in the first round, because payments are reduced by 5 cents for every $1 of income over $75,000 if youâre single. In the second round, youâd get $350.
But if you reduced your 2020 taxable income to $75,000 by contributing an extra $5,000 to your 401(k) or traditional IRA (sorry, a Roth IRA wonât work), youâd get the additional $250 coronavirus payment from both rounds, so $500 total.
8. Youâre Married to Someone Without a Social Security Number
If you have a Social Security number but youâre married and file a joint tax return with someone who doesnât have one, neither of you initially qualified for a stimulus check under the CARES Act. But the latest relief bill changes the rules so that anyone in the household with a Social Security number will qualify for the second payment â and it also makes the change retroactive to the first round.
That means if youâre in a mixed-status household, you could get a $1,200 credit for yourself, plus $500 for each dependent child 16 and younger who has a Social Security number.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Think back to what the stock market looked like to you in March 2020, aka, the apocalypse. Did it look like:
A.) The biggest bargain sale youâve ever seen in your lifetime?Â
B.) A burning pit of money that was about to incinerate your lifeâs savings?
If you answered âB,â you probably have a low risk tolerance. You worry more about losing money than missing out on the opportunity to make more of it.
Being cautious about how you invest your money is a good thing. But if youâre so risk-averse that you avoid investing altogether, youâre putting your money at greater risk than you think.
Do Safe Investments Actually Exist?
When you think about the risks of investing, you probably think about losing principal, i.e., the original amount you invested. If you keep your money in a bank account, thereâs virtually no chance of that happening because deposits of up to $250,000 are FDIC insured.Â
But consider that the average savings account pays just 0.05% APY, while in 2019, inflation was about 2.3%.
So while youâre not at risk of losing principal, you still face purchasing power risk, which is the risk that your money loses value. Your money needs to earn enough to keep up with inflation to avoid losing purchasing power. If inflation continues at 2.3%, buying $100 worth of groceries will cost you $102.30 a year from now. If youâre saving over decades toward retirement, youâll be able to buy a whole lot less groceries in your golden years.
Thereâs also the risk of missed opportunity. By playing it too safe, youâre unlikely to earn the returns you need to grow into a sufficient nest egg.
Though thereâs no such thing as a risk-free investment, there are plenty of safe ways to invest your money.
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8 Low-Risk Investments for People Who Hate Losing Money
Here are eight options that are good for conservative investors. (Spoiler: Gold, bitcoin and penny stocks did not make our list.
If you have cash you wonât need for a while, investing in a CD, or certificate of deposit, is a good way to earn more interest than youâd get with a regular bank account.
You get a fixed interest rate as long as you donât withdraw your money before the maturity date. Typically, the longer the duration, the higher the interest rate.Â
Since theyâre FDIC insured, CDs are among the safest investments in existence. But low risk translates to low rewards. Those low interest rates for borrowers translate to lower APYs for money we save at a bank. Even for five-year CDs, the best APYs are just over 1%.
You also risk losing your interest and even some principal if you need to withdraw money early.
2. Money Market Funds
Not to be confused with money market accounts, money market funds are actually mutual funds that invest in low-risk, short-term debts, such as CDs and U.S. Treasurys. (More on those shortly.)
The returns are often on par with CD interest rates. One advantage: Itâs a liquid investment, which means you can cash out at any time. But because they arenât FDIC insured, they can technically lose principal, though theyâre considered extraordinarily safe.
3. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS)
The U.S. government finances its debt by issuing Treasurys. When you buy Treasurys, youâre investing in bonds backed by the âfull faith and credit of the U.S. government.â Unless the federal government defaults on its debt for the first time in history, investors get paid.
The price of that safety: pathetically low yields that often donât keep up with inflation.
TIPS offer built-in inflation protection â as the name âTreasury Inflation Protected Securitiesâ implies. Available in five-, 10- and 30-year increments, their principal is adjusted based on changes to the Consumer Price Index. The twice-a-year interest payments are adjusted accordingly, as well.
If your principal is $1,000 and the CPI showed inflation of 3%, your new principal is $1,030, and your interest payment is based on the adjusted amount.Â
On the flip side, if thereâs deflation, your principal is adjusted downward.
4. Municipal Bonds
Municipal bonds, or âmunis,â are bonds issued by a state or local government. Theyâre popular with retirees because the income they generate is tax-free at the federal level. Sometimes when you buy muni bonds in your state, the state doesnât tax them either.
There are two basic types of munis: General obligation bonds, which are issued for general public works projects, and revenue bonds, which are backed by specific projects, like a hospital or toll road.
General obligation bonds have the lowest risk because the issuing government pledges to raise taxes if necessary to make sure bondholders get paid. With revenue bonds, bondholders get paid from the income generated by the project, so thereâs a higher risk of default.
5. Investment-Grade Bonds
Bonds issued by corporations are inherently riskier than bonds issued by governments, because even a stable corporation is at higher risk of defaulting on its debt. But you can mitigate the risks by choosing investment-grade bonds, which are issued by corporations with good to excellent credit ratings.
Because investment-grade bonds are low risk, the yields are low compared to higher-risk âjunk bonds.â Thatâs because corporations with low credit ratings have to pay investors more to compensate them for the extra risk.
6. Target-Date Funds
When you compare bonds vs. stocks, bonds are generally safer, while stocks offer more growth. Thatâs why as a general rule, your retirement portfolio starts out mostly invested in stocks and then gradually allocates more to bonds.
Target-date funds make that reallocation automatic. Theyâre commonly found in 401(k)s, IRAs and 529 plans. You choose the date thatâs closest to the year you plan to retire or send your child to college. Then the fund gradually shifts more toward safer investments, like bonds and money market funds as that date gets nearer.
7. Total Market ETFs
While having a small percentage of your money in super low-risk investments like CDs,
money market funds and Treasurys is OK, there really is no avoiding the stock market if
you want your money to grow.
If youâre playing day trader, the stock market is a risky place. But when youâre committed to investing in stocks for the long haul, youâre way less exposed to risk. While downturns can cause you to lose money in the short term, the stock market historically ticks upward over time.
A total stock market exchange-traded fund will invest you in hundreds or thousands of companies. Usually, they reflect the makeup of a major stock index, like the Wilshire 5000. If the stock market is up 5%, youâd expect your investment to be up by roughly the same amount. Same goes for if the market drops 5%.
By investing in a huge range of companies, you get an instantly diversified portfolio, which is far less risky than picking your own stocks.
8. Dividend Stocks
If you opt to invest in individual companies, sticking with dividend-paying stock is a smart move. When a companyâs board of directors votes to approve a dividend, theyâre redistributing part of the profit back to investors.
Dividends are commonly offered by companies that are stable and have a track record of earning a profit. Younger companies are less likely to offer a dividend because they need to reinvest their profits. They have more growth potential, but theyâre also a higher risk because theyâre less-established.
The best part: Many companies allow shareholders to automatically reinvest their dividends, which means even more compound returns.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Being a victim of tax related identity theft can leave you scrambling to take the proper steps to set things right. Here’s are the things you need to do.
The post A Guide For Victims Of Tax Related Identity Theft appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright Â© Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.