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Insurance

Homeowners Avoid Having To Pay High Hurricane Deductibles

After Hurricane Sandy caused significant damages to homes in the Northeast, many homeowners were faced with potentially having to pay high hurricane deductibles. However, state officials have said that most homeowners won’t have to pay these costs, according to Insurance.com.

“Homeowners should not have to pay hurricane deductibles for damage caused by the storm and insurers should understand the Department of Financial Services will be monitoring how claims are handled,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Homeowners Avoid Having To Pay High Hurricane DeductiblesIf they were forced to cover these costs, a homeowner with a home insured for $300,000 and a 5 percent deductible would have had to $15,000 before any insurance coverage would kick in, the site noted. This could have depleted many peoples savings, forcing them to turn to something like a cash advance loan to help cover other expenses.

Homeowners in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Maryland will all be protected from hurricane deductibles but flood damage could still be an issue, the source noted.

In addition to flood damage, there are many post-storm scams that homeowners may be duped into that could cost the money, according to Insure.com.

Unsolicited Repair Offers
If you didn’t request a repair, the chances are it is a scam. For this reason, you should be wary of those going door-to-door offering repair services.

“We use the slogan, ‘If you didn’t request it, reject it,'” Frank Scafidi, spokesperson for the National Insurance Crime Bureau told the news source. “If someone comes knocking on your door, the could be legitimate, but they could be very illegitimate too.”

Other red flags to look for include contractors who claim to work for the government, people who try to rush you into a decision and contractors who have rundown equipment or an unprofessional appearance.

Never Pay For Work Upfront
If a contractor requires you to pay for work upfront, there is a good chance that it is a scam. Most contractors will require a down payment but they don’t usually need you to pay in full before the work is completed and inspected. AARP says upfront fees shouldn’t be more than 25 percent of the repair estimate. This money shouldn’t change hands until materials reach your home and the repair has been started.…

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Finances

States With the Highest, Lowest Tax Rates

Before people decide where they want to live, some consider the taxes they may, or may not, have to pay. In 2021, the average American paid just under 10 percent in income taxes, according to The Tax Foundation.

This nationwide tax rate was relatively unchanged from a year earlier, even though the average households income dropped by more than $1,000. However, some states painted a very different story.

States With the Highest, Lowest Tax RatesTax season is quickly approaching, and Americans are encouraged to hang on to their tax returns for a rainy day. Putting this money into emergency funds, rather than engaging in frivolous spending, could help you handle any unexpected bills you can’t otherwise afford.

New York
The Empire State has some of the highest tax rates in the country. Last tax season, the average resident paid 12.8 percent in income taxes. This resulted in $136 billion in local and state tax revenue. But the buck doesn’t stop there.
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New York also has the highest tax on cigarettes in the country at $4.35. In addition, the state is home to the country with the highest property tax rate in the country.

New Jersey
Meanwhile, the Garden State currently has the second-highest personal income tax at 12.4 percent. Last year, this netted New Jersey approximately $51 billion in tax revenue. In addition, the state also has notably high sales and excise taxes, which can make it more expensive to purchase everyday products and services.
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Alaska
While the East Coast is home to some of the most expensive tax rates in the country, Alaska is currently the most affordable. Last tax season, the average resident paid just 7 percent in personal income taxes, netting the state just $6 billion in revenue, which was once of the lowest in the country.

South Dakota
With a personal income tax of just 7.6 percent, South Dakota has the second-lowest tax rate in the country. In 2021, this netted the state just $2.58 billion in tax revenue, which was the lowest in the country. However, the state has a population of 824,082, so the amount of collectable taxes is all relative.

Americans on the verge of retirement or who just want to start fresh may want to consider a move to a state with more affordable taxes. This may let them stretch their dollar even further and allow for an earlier retirement.…

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Insurance

Reasons That Your Insurance Premiums May Increase

Many people are still struggling financially in the slow recovering economy. Some of them have been forced to withdraw money from their emergency funds to cover costs. However, it is best to leave these alone for unexpected expenses. One way people may have seen their expenses go up is rising insurance premiums. There are many things that you can do that could potentially see your premiums spike.

Smoking
This is a bad habit that many people start in their teens. Not only does it have a negative effect on your health, it can cause your life insurance premiums to increase, according to Insurance.com.

“Smoking absolutely raises your life insurance premiums,” Maureen Leydon, vice president and chief underwriter at MetLife, told the source. “Depending on your overall risk profile, your rates could more than double. If you have other health risks in addition to smoking, your rates could go up even more.”

Additionally, not smoking could qualify you for some discounts. Jeff Reinig of Farmers Insurance told the news source that they have offered up to a 5 percent discount for non-smokers.

Bad Driving Habits
Having bad driving habits can also negatively affect your insurance premiums. Getting traffic tickets or being a risk for accidents could potentially increase your auto and life insurance policies. Depending on the types of violations and how often you get them, Reining said that car insurance rates can go up from 10 to 100 percent. Citations that result in the largest increases include drinking and driving. However, if you get into an accident that wasn’t your fault your rates may not go up at all.

Bad Credit History
A troubled credit history can have a negative effect on many of your finances, including insurance premiums. When a provider sees a low credit score they may think your are more likely to make a claim. This can influence your premiums on all types of insurance – home, auto and life. Depending on the severity of your credit history, bumps in premiums can range widely.

Having A Pool
There are many features you can have in your house that will rise your home insurance. One of them is a pool. With drowning being a leading cause of death among children, insurers will require a higher premium because of liability. The best way to reduce increases is to protect the pool area and make it safe.…

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Money

Consumers Say They Will Shop More On Cyber Monday

Although Black Friday has been the unofficial shopping holiday for many years, more consumers say they will turn to Cyber Monday as their main day for holiday gift grabbing.

According to a PriceGrabber.com survey, 41 percent of shoppers said they plan on shopping on Cyber Monday, up from 37 percent last year and 33 percent in 2021. The majority of those who said they plan to shop on the internet discount day will buy more that day than on Black Friday.

The main reason people said they plan to shop on Cyber Monday is for the one-day deals, discounts and free shipping, as 83 percent of shoppers indicated this as motivation.

As for where they will shop, 83 percent said they would do so at home, while 11 percent will purchase gifts at work and 6 percent will shop from a mobile device.

“Industry forecasts predict growth in online holiday sales this season, and our survey data is in line with this trend, revealing strong consumer interest in online shopping on Cyber Monday to take advantage of retailer incentives,” said Edward Mann, vice president of marketing and analytics of PriceGrabber.com. “While most consumers plan to shop from a home computer on Cyber Monday, we anticipate that mobile shopping will continue to gain momentum, allowing even busy commuters to make the most of what retailers are sure to offer on Cyber Monday.”

Shopping on Cyber Monday can help families get significant discounts on items that will help them avoid breaching their holiday budget and having to dip into their emergency funds to cover bills after the holiday season is over. However, it is important to tackle this shopping day the right way in order to save the most.

Buy Gift Cards From Trusted Sources – When buying for the person in your family that is difficult shop for, you may lean toward buying them a gift card. Department of Consumer Protection commissioner Raymond Moore told NBC Connecticut it is important to only buy gift cards from trusted sources. If you are buying a gift card for a specific store, make sure you buy the card from them. Avoid buying them from online auction sites as they could end up being fake.

Know Where You’re Shopping – When shopping on Cyber Monday, it is best to stick to websites that you know and have used before. If you get the feeling that a website is sketchy, it is probably smart to look for the item in a different place.

Find Out The Terms And Conditions – Before purchasing an item online, you should check the terms and conditions. This will let you know if you are able to return the item for a refund, the shipping costs and if there is a restocking fee if you need to return the gift. Being informed of the terms and conditions could help save you money.…

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Finances

Ways Credit Cards Can Hurt Your Personal Finances

Many people choose to shop with credit cards because of convenience. However, that convenience can turn into trouble quickly. There are many ways that credit cards can hurt your personal finances. You may even find yourself having to tap into your emergency funds to cover the costs of your credit trouble.

High Fees For Minimal Rewards
Those of you with a good credit score may get offers for rewards credit cards. While these may be tempting, they can come with high fees that outweigh the benefits of the rewards. Some cards come with annual fees of hundreds of dollars and just offer a single reward point for each dollar spent.

Low Interest Rate Promises That Become High
Many credit cards will lure you in with a low introductory rate. However, it is important to read the fine print. In some cases, this low rate is only available for a short period of time. After that time is over, the interest rate spikes significantly. Although not all cards are like this, you should make sure that you understand what you are signing up for.

High Transfer Fees
One way many people use to pay down their credit card debt is through balance transfers. Before transferring a balance, you should educate yourself on what it will cost. Oftentimes, the card the balance is transferred to will have an annual fee. You will also be charged an balance transfer fee and potentially a higher introductory APR for the transferred balance. All these costs together could make this move simply not worth it.

Closing A Credit Card
In addition to costs incurred through interest rates and fees, closing a credit card can hurt your personal finances. After paying down your debt it may seem like a good idea to close the card. This will ensure that you can’t use it again to build up a pile of debt. However, closing the card will hurt your credit score. This will hurt any future loans that you need to take out. With a lower score, these loans will likely cost you more. Instead, pay down the card and use it sparingly so it is still active.…

Categories
Mortgage

Mortgage Tax Break To Expire At Year’s End

In 2021, the government created the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. This allowed struggling homeowners to be forgiven for income taxes on foreclosure, short sale and principal reduction. However, this tax break is set to expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t extend it.

“People trying to do short sales are freaked out about it,” real estate agent Amy Torkelson told CNNMoney. “They’re telling me they’ll do whatever it takes to close by the end of the year.”

Many mortgage borrowers will be affected by the expiration of the tax break, as the source reported there are roughly 50,000 homeowners who go through foreclosure each month. Short sales have also become increasingly popular. However, those who have the debt incurred in foreclosure would still not have to pay taxes under the act should it be extended. Also, those who are insolvent wouldn’t have to pay either. For others, the tax break has saved them thousands of dollars. If it expires, they may be forced to take out a cash advance loan to cover the costs they will face.

For example, under the act, if you sold your home for $100,000 but owed $150,000, you didn’t have to pay income taxes on the difference. If the act expires, you would be required to pay taxes on the $50,000 difference in the sale, according to CNNMoney. For someone in the 25 percent tax bracket, the income tax on the sale would total $12,500. With financial hardship forcing them into foreclosure, the odds are that they will likely not be able to pay the high amount in taxes.

Other Tax Breaks People Can Take Advantage Of
If people lose this tax break, there are ways that they can lower their tax bill. Certain charitable donations can be deducted from your taxes. If money or goods are donated during the year to a qualified organization, the fair market value of the contribution can be deducted.

Additionally, you may be able to deduct medical and dental expenses. Those that qualify include expenses for diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease. Typically, costs of physicians, surgeons, dentists and other medical practitioners are included, according to DailyFinance. Other expenses that may qualify are healthcare insurance premiums and the cost of traveling to and from your appointments.…