Financial News from Bankrate.com

  • Take money tax-free from 401(k) due to hardship? Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    My Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, case is solid but pending. Thanks for the great question and all the best in taking the necessary steps to secure your financial security.

  • National mortgage rates for March 5, 2015 Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best mortgage rates in your area. Mortgages 30-year fixed: 3.93% Average points: 0.26 Mortgage rates edged up as investors reacted to mixed economic reports and the stock ...

  • Simpler way to claim home office deduction Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    If you use a home office for your business, it can save you a lot of money at tax time. Some of those concerns, however, have been eased, thanks to the simplified home office deduction. Instead of filling out the 43-line Form 8829 to claim a deduction for your home office, you have the option to claim up to $1,500 by using a significantly streamlined work sheet. "There are a number of reasons why this simplified method is preferable," says Dave Du Val, an enrolled agent and vice president of customer advocacy at Citrus Heights, California-based TaxAudit.com.

  • CD rates for March 5, 2015 Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Interest Rate Roundup Compare CD rates nationally and in your area. CDs 1-year CD yields: 0.27% 5-year CD yields: 0.88% Rates on certificates of deposit were a mixed bag in this week's rate survey. Unchanged ...

  • Can power of attorney status add to my debt? Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Eight years ago, she opened a credit card for a family member who has now declared bankruptcy. My mother only gets Social Security. I am her power of attorney. Can they go after me since I am her power of attorney?

  • Where will mortgage rates head next week? Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Will rates go up, down or remain unchanged? Intro Up 54% Down 15% Unchanged 31% Panel Prediction Up Down Unchanged 54% 15% 31% This week (March 5-11), 54 percent of the panelists believe mortgage rates ...

  • Is daylight saving time bad for your insurance? Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    What type of person do you become when "springing forward" for daylight saving time forces your body clock to readjust? Fatal car crashes increase 6 percent during the week after daylight saving time begins in the spring, according to a study by Austin Smith, a researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder. "The increased risk of a fatal vehicle crash suggests significant costs of sleep deprivation, even when undertaking a routine task," Smith writes in the conclusion of his study. "People need to remember just how much an accident, small or large, can result in a rate increase on their auto insurance," she says.

  • Home equity loan rates for March 5, 2015 Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity Line of credit: 4.72% Loan: 5.94% Rates on loans backed by home equity fell in Bankrate's weekly survey. The typical home ...

  • As part-timer, can I defer withdrawal from 401(k)? Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    I currently receive a pension and draw Social Security, but I still work part time for my previous employer. Under this scenario, if I continue to work part time beyond 70 1/2, can I still defer my 401(k) and IRA withdrawals, or does the "continuing to work" exception apply only to full-time employment? If the company rehired you as an independent contractor, the IRS could question whether you're eligible for the deferral.

  • Auto loan rates for March 5, 2015 Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best auto rates in your area. Auto Loans 60-month, new car: 4.3% 36-month, used car: 5.15% Rates on auto loans increased dramatically this week, according to Bankrate's latest ...

  • Mortgages tick up on mixed economic reports Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Mortgage rates edged up this week as the stock market rallied and investors digested a series of mixed economic reports. "We are definitely seeing upward pressure on rates," says Bob Moulton, president of Americana Mortgage Group in Manhasset, New York. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.93 percent from 3.9 percent last week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders.

  • Credit card interest rates for March 5, 2015 Bankrate.com - 4 hours ago

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best credit card offers available. Credit Cards All fixed: 13.02% All variable: 15.79% Credit card rates were mixed this week, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of interest ...

  • Economists survey: Say goodbye to cheap gas? Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Fuel prices are likely to rise during the next 12 months, while financial markets will provide an even rockier ride for investors, according to the latest Bankrate Economic Indicator, a quarterly survey of top economists. On average, the experts expect oil prices to rebound a bit from their recent low levels. "Excess inventories have depressed the current price, but once inventories have declined to more normal levels, the price should be somewhat higher than today," says William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Viewed together, the economists' forecasts call for solid hiring that will help drive the unemployment rate down and spark greater growth in wages.

  • Turning hobby into business means tax breaks Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Be aware, however, when your hobby produces income, you owe tax on it. You can reduce your taxable hobby income by deducting your hobby expenses, but this tax break is limited. You can only deduct expenses up to the amount of money you make on the hobby. If you find you are regularly making money from your hobby, it might be to your tax advantage to turn the sideline into a business.

  • Divorce is not the way to boost Social Security Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Getting divorced isn't going to increase either of your Social Security benefits. To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select one of these topics: "Senior Living," "Financing a home," "Saving and Investing" or "Money." Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.

  • Best way for parents to catch up on college savings Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    I'm extremely late saving for college for my children aged 12 and 15. With just a few years until your children are ready for college and with income constraints, there's no magic bullet for a funding plan. First, a college education financed by parents is not a right in our country, but it has become something of an expectation. The good news is that financial aid can help finance some of their college costs.

  • Should I carry a balance on a 0 percent interest card? Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    I want to open a new credit card that has a 0 percent annual percentage rate on new charges through 2015. It's certainly tempting to revolve a balance on a zero percent or deferred annual percentage rate credit card, given you won't have to pay interest for 12 months. Credit utilization -- how much credit you are using versus how much has actually been extended to you -- is a major component of your credit score. The basic rule of thumb is to keep your debt-to-credit utilization ratio collectively and on individual credit cards below 20 to 30 percent (the lower, the better).

  • Corporate wellness programs offer financial help Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Many employers have broadened the concept beyond health care to include programs that help workers get their finances in shape. "I think financial wellness is becoming more than a buzzword," says Bob Harris, director of financial wellness at Waddell and Reed, a Kansas City, Kansas-based asset management and financial planning firm that customizes financial wellness programs for clients in a wide range of industries. Often these programs are offshoots of the planning assistance that employers provide to participants in a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan.

  • Asking economists: How will the economy grow? Bankrate.com - Wed, Mar 4, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    The government has said that the U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, or GDP, grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in 2014, up from 2.2 percent in 2013. In the first quarter 2015 Bankrate ...

  • IRS can help you look after the kids Bankrate.com - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    One of the biggest challenges facing working parents is finding child care while they're on the job. The tax break's official name is the child and dependent care tax credit. Second, it can be used to pay for care costs of other dependents, such as an aging parent. Licensed dependent care centers.

  • How do I get my name off co-signed car loan? Bankrate.com - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    How can I get a vehicle loan out of my name? While I make a living by handling bankruptcy cases, I hope you can find an alternative for your previous error in judgment, especially if this is your only debt. Pay the balance: Hopefully, you can use the car while paying the balance and can afford the payment. Find someone else to pay the balance: You could ask a friend to pay the balance and also drive the car.

  • 52-week savings challenge Bankrate.com - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Check back to see how our personal finance reporter fared in her savings quest. Check back to see how our personal finance reporter fared in his savings quest.

  • Home in foreclosure. Must I pay back tax credit? Bankrate.com - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    We bought a home in 2008 and received the $7,500 tax credit. This is a completely different set of rules from the taxpayers who purchased after 2008 and are not subject to any repayment of the credit if they have owned and lived in the home for at least 36 months starting with the purchase date.

  • The surprising cost of replacing cashier's check Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    I misplaced a cashier's check issued to me when I closed a business account. The bank is willing to eventually replace the check for $35. It's common for a bank to require a set period of time to pass before issuing a replacement for a lost cashier's check. The FAQ section of the website for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the government regulator) says banks may require a waiting period of 30 to 90 days.

  • What if your house spent like the White House? Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT
    What if your house spent like the White House?

    Ever wonder what the federal budget would look like if Congress worked with your salary instead of a few trillion dollars in public money? Some of those massive earmarks might not seem so big when shrunken to the size of a household budget. This calculator uses the White House's $3.9 trillion 2015 budget proposal that was analyzed by the Office of Management and Budget. *Editor's note: Click on a category in the doughnut chart to read the explanation of what the government spends in that category.

  • Properly defined dependents can pay off at tax time Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    The key tax breaks associated with a child are the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit and the earned income tax credit. Each dependent directly translates into an exemption, a specific dollar amount, adjusted annually for inflation, that you deduct from your adjusted gross income.

  • 740 credit score is mortgage sweet spot Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Today's lowest mortgage rates and fees go to borrowers with credit scores of 740 or higher. This is a change from a few years ago, when a 720 credit score was good enough to merit the best deals. The fees are higher for borrowers with credit scores of 700 to 719, and they continue to kick higher for every 20-point drop. "What used to be great is now only good," says mortgage broker Todd Huettner, president of Denver-based Huettner Capital.

  • 4 secrets to budgeting for a home purchase Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    "If buying a home is your goal, then it needs to be your priority," says Tim Kirchner, formerly vice president of MetLife Bank in Irving, Texas. "The most important focus for all potential buyers should be improving their credit score," says Jean Badciong, chief compliance officer of Inlanta Mortgage in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Greg Holmes is national director of sales and marketing for Credit Plus, a company in Salisbury, Maryland, that provides credit reports to mortgage lenders. To improve their credit scores, buyers should pay off past-due bills, pay every bill on time and reduce their balances to less than 30 percent of the credit limit on every account, Holmes says.

  • What do financial advisers get asked about IRAs? Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Taxes, investing and retirement represent a trifecta of thorny topics for many people, and IRAs combine all three subjects in one package. Once savers figure out the tax benefits and the rules of contributing, retirement comes along and new rules apply. An IRA is just a trust established with certain tax-favored rules. They think the IRA is the actual investment," says Jim Saulnier, CFP professional, founder of Jim Saulnier and Associates in Fort Collins, Colorado.

  • Paperwork you need to get a home mortgage Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Lenders require paperwork that verifies every facet of your financial life: taxable income, assets, rent payments and more. "Even if you are the most perfect (borrower), expect that you might still get singed going through," says Metzler, who heads Mortgages Unlimited in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can prove this with paycheck stubs. Employees that are paid electronically may be able to access a corporate website to print out paycheck stubs.

  • Does home insurance cover termite damage? Bankrate.com - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Will my home insurance policy pay for the damage? The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation.

  • How to adjust your withholding Bankrate.com - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Through this process, a percentage of your pay is taken out each pay period and sent to the IRS, where it is credited toward your final tax bill. Payroll withholding is something you want to get just right. The best course, tax experts say, is to adjust your withholding so your tax payments will match your actual tax liability.

  • Does employer match count toward 401(k) limit? Bankrate.com - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    Do employer contributions to a 401(k) plan count against the maximum limits you can contribute to the plan? Do they affect the amount you can put into a traditional or Roth IRA? The employer matching contributions don't count toward the maximum limits that you can contribute to a 401(k) plan. There is, however, a combined contribution limit of $52,000 for the employer and employee contributions in 2014.

  • Can I say no to rental car insurance? Bankrate.com - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    My wife and I recently planned a trip, and when she was reserving the rental car online, the form asked if we wanted insurance coverage. I thought the car insurance that rental car companies sold was just a way for them to make a few extra dollars, but my wife is concerned we shouldn't be going without. How important is it to buy the insurance the car rental company is offering? Having insurance on your rental car isn't important at all -- assuming nothing happens!

  • Will the Supreme Court kill Obamacare? Bankrate.com - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:00 PM AEDT

    President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is making its way before the Supreme Court again, in a case that puts the law at risk of losing its pulse. At issue are the federal tax subsidies at the heart of the law that have made health insurance more affordable for many. According to one nonpartisan study, the appeal now before the nation's highest court threatens to set off a chain of events that could bring about a nearly 50 percent increase in health insurance premiums in most states. The latest Supreme Court challenge is based on a mere four words in the Affordable Care Act.