This week we’re sharing tips on how to avoid hidden sources of debt, prioritize monthly payments, and what tax moves to make before the year-end.  Here’s what you need to know now:

  • Excessive spending, unemployment and unexpected medical bills are not the only circumstances that can lead to unwanted debt. Maryalene LaPonsie from U.S. News and World Report uncovers five hidden sources of debt that can push financials into the red.  She warns consumers to not change spending habits after landing a new job with an income boost, to research hidden fees before leasing a vehicle, to look into non-contract service options from wireless providers, and to stick to a strict, written budget when renovating a house.
  • Paying bills on time each month can be costly, especially if you are short on cash, but not doing so could damage your credit, lead to huge financial penalties, or even cause you to lose a home or car.  Dan Rafter from Wise Bread identifies the five bills you should always pay on time. The first, mortgage payments; a single late mortgage payment can lead to a 100 point drop in your credit score. Also on the list are fixed payments like student and auto loans, credit card payments, and rent.
  • As year-end planning approaches, it is the perfect time to make some specific financial moves that can lower next year’s tax return. Ray Martin from CBS Moneywatch shares five tax saving strategies to adopt for a bigger tax refund. He recommends maxing out 401 (k) plans to the 2015 contribution limit of $18,000, thinking about donating shares to charity, and paying real estate taxes and state income taxes before the end of the year.*

*All tax information provided in this blog post is intended as a convenient source of information. This information is general in nature, is not complete, and may not apply to your specific situation. Please consult with your own tax advisor regarding your specific tax needs.

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