Retiring: Turn to CDs For Cash Flow

If you are retired and need to fill a gap in your monthly income stream, save for other medium- to long-term goals or supplement your existing investment mix, Certificates of Deposit (CDs)– including Discover’s CDs and tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Account (IRA) CDs — can provide a safe and practical solution.

A simple way to reach your goals.

Watch your savings grow with a CD.

Lock in Your Rate

Certificate
of Deposit

Discover Bank, Member FDIC

  • Supplement cash flow.  CDs can provide a steady source of income that also has the potential for growth. Discover’s CDs, for example, offer guaranteed returns on terms ranging from 3 months to 10 years. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate. And since your rate of return is fixed, you know exactly how much income to expect– and when to expect it (when your CD matures your principal plus interest accrued and not withdrawn is returned to you) –a major plus for retirees looking to close a gap in their cash flow.

One CD strategy for generating cash flow is called a CD ladder. Open a series of CDs that mature at different times. When the first CD matures, harvest the interest income, but reinvest the principal in another CD at the top of your “ladder.” This approach can create a consistent and ongoing income stream to last throughout your retirement years. With Discover CDs, you always have convenient renewal options at maturity, making it easy to put this income-management practice into effect.

Grandparents sharing fresh-picked strawberries with grandson

  • Fund medium- and longer-term goals. Open separate CDs with an eye toward funding different financial goals. Will you need to purchase a new car in the next three years? Are you planning an extended trip abroad to celebrate a special anniversary? Do you hope to help a grandchild with college costs? Time the CD maturity to match your savings goal. Again, Discover offers CDs with maturities as short as three months or as long as 10 years.
  • An alternative to bonds. Investors often choose U.S. Treasury bonds when seeking a safe haven for their investment dollars. Yet CDs should be on your list of worthy alternatives. Both Treasuries and CDs offer safety; however, in some cases, CDs offer more attractive yields.

.block-quote_5front { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/5front-730×500.jpg); } @media (min-width: 730px) { .block-quote_5front { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/5front-1600×600.jpg); } }

CDs can provide a steady source of income that also has the potential for growth.

  • A home for excess IRA/401(k) distributions. Current IRS rules require individuals to begin taking distributions from their retirement accounts when they reach the age of 70½ in order to comply with required minimum distribution rules. To the extent that those distributions are more than you’ll need to spend, which may be the case for those who have delayed taking distributions, consider contributing them to a CD until you need to use the funds.

And remember, the safety of Discover’s CDs and IRA CDs being FDIC insured to the maximum allowed by law can be a big comfort when preserving your assets is more important than ever.

.post__breaker–3191 { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Retiring-Turn-to-CDs_0-MARQUEE-450×200.jpg);}@media (min-width: 450px) { .post__breaker–3191 { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Retiring-Turn-to-CDs_0-MARQUEE-730×215.jpg);} }@media (min-width: 730px) { .post__breaker–3191 { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Retiring-Turn-to-CDs_0-MARQUEE-992×400.jpg);} }@media (min-width: 992px) { .post__breaker–3191 { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Retiring-Turn-to-CDs_0-MARQUEE-1200×400.jpg);} }@media (min-width: 1200px) { .post__breaker–3191 { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Retiring-Turn-to-CDs_0-MARQUEE-1600×400.jpg);} }

Discover

Regardless of your time horizon, risk tolerance, or savings goal, you can always find the right savings vehicle for your needs at Discover. Discover offers an Online Savings Account to help you with your short-term savings goals, a full range of CDs and IRA CDs with terms from 3 months to 10 years, and Money Market Accounts that have a competitive rate. Open a Discover account online or call our 24-hour U.S-based Customer Service at 1-800-347-7000.

The article and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

The post Retiring: Turn to CDs For Cash Flow appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Theft

protecting yourself from credit card theft

Last fall, I received an email that appeared to be from my web host. The email claimed that there was a problem with my payment information and asked me to update it. I clicked on the link in the email and entered my credit card number, thinking that a recent change I’d made to my site must have caused a problem.

The next morning, I logged onto my credit card account to find two large unauthorized purchases. A scammer had successfully phished my payment information from me.

This failure of security is pretty embarrassing for a personal finance writer. I know better than to click through an email link claiming to be from my bank, credit card lender, or other financial institution. But because the email came from a source that wasn’t specifically financial (and because I was thinking about the changes I had made to my website just the day before), I let myself get played.

Thankfully, because I check my credit card balance daily, the scammers didn’t get away with it. However, it’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you’re not stuck with the cleanup, which took me several months to complete.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from credit card theft. 

Protecting your physical credit card

Stealing your physical credit or debit card is in some respects the easiest way for a scammer to get their hands on your sweet, sweet money. With the actual card in hand, a scammer has all the information they need to make fraudulent purchases: the credit card number, expiration date, and the security code on the back.

That means keeping your physical cards safe is one of the best ways to protect yourself from credit card theft. Don’t carry more cards than you intend to use. Having every card you own in a bulging wallet makes it more likely someone could steal one when you’re not paying attention and you may not realize it’s gone if you have multiple cards.

Another common place where you might be separated from your card is at a restaurant. After you’ve paid your bill, it can be easy to forget if you’ve put away your card (especially if you’ve been enjoying adult beverages). So make it a habit to confirm that you have your card before you leave a restaurant.

If you do find yourself missing a credit or debit card, make sure you call your bank immediately to report it lost or stolen. The faster you move to lock down the card, the less likely the scammers will be able to make fraudulent charges. Make sure you have your bank’s phone number written down somewhere so you’re able to contact them quickly if your card is stolen or lost. (See also: Don’t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen)

Recognizing card skimmers

Credit card thieves also go high-tech to get your information. Credit card skimmers are small devices placed on a legitimate spot for a card scanner, such as on a gas pump or ATM. 

When you scan your card to pay, the skimmer device captures all the information stored in your card’s magnetic stripe. In some cases, when there’s a skimmer placed on an ATM, there’s also a tiny camera set up to record you entering your PIN so the fraudster has all the info they need to access your account.

The good news is that it’s possible to detect a card skimmer in the wild. Gas stations and ATMs are the most common places where you’ll see skimmer devices. Generally, these devices will often stick out past the panel rather than sit flush with it, as the legitimate credit card scanner is supposed to. Other red flags to look for are scanners that seem to jiggle or move slightly instead of being firmly affixed, or a pin pad that appears thicker than normal. All of these can potentially indicate a skimmer is in place. 

If you find something that looks hinky, go to a different gas station or ATM. Better safe than sorry. (See also: 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen)

Protecting your credit card numbers at home

Your home is another place thieves will go searching for your sensitive information. To start, you likely receive credit card offers, the cards themselves, and your statements in the mail. While mail theft is relatively rare (it’s a federal crime, after all), it’s still a good idea to make sure you collect your mail daily and put a hold on it when you go out of town.

Once you get your card-related paperwork in the house, however, you still may be vulnerable. Because credit card scammers are not above a little dumpster diving to get their hands on your credit card number. This is why it’s a good idea to shred any paperwork with your credit card number and other identifying information on it before you throw it away.

Finally, protecting your credit cards at home also means being wary about whom you share information with over the phone. Unless you’ve initiated a phone call of your own volition — not because you’re calling someone who left a voicemail — you should never share your credit card numbers over the phone. Scammers will pose as customer service agents from your financial institution or a merchant you frequent to get your payment information. To be sure, you can hang up and call the institution yourself using the main phone number.

Keeping your cards safe online

You should never provide your credit card information via a link in an email purporting to be from your financial institution or a merchant. Scammers are able to make their fake emails and websites look legitimate, which was exactly the reason I fell victim to this fraud.

But even with my momentary lapse in judgment about being asked for my payment information from my "web host," there were other warning signs that I could’ve heeded if I had been paying attention. 

The first is the actual email address. These fake emails will often have a legitimate looking display name, which is the only thing you might see in your email. However, if you hover over or click on the display name, you can see the actual email address that sent you the message. Illegitimate addresses do not follow the same email address format you’ll see from the legitimate company.

In addition to that, looking at the URL that showed up when I clicked the link could’ve told me something weird was going on. Any legitimate site that needs your financial information will have a secure URL to accept your payment. Secure URLs start with https:// (rather than http://) and feature a lock icon in the browser bar. If these elements are missing, then you should not enter your credit card information. (See also: 3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud)

Daily practices that keep you safe

In addition to these precautions, you can also protect your credit cards with the everyday choices you make. For instance, using strong, unique passwords for all of your online financial services, from shopping to banking, can help you prevent theft. Keeping those strong passwords safe — that is, not written down on a post-it note on your laptop — will also help protect your financial information.

Regularly going over your credit card and banking statements can also help ensure that you’re the only one making purchases with your credit cards. It was this daily habit of mine that made sure my scammers didn’t actually receive the computer they tried to purchase with my credit card. The fact that I check my balance daily meant I was able to shut down the fraudulent sale before they received the goods, even though I fell down on the job of protecting my credit card information. 

Like this article? Pin it!

It’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you're not stuck with the cleanup. Here's how you can protect yourself from credit card theft. | #Creditcard #creditcardtheft #personalfinances


Source: wisebread.com

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

Not all students can cover the cost of their college education with the grants or scholarships in their financial aid packages. Some begin their college careers by taking out student loans, while others look for part-time jobs and work-study positions. Students who are trying to avoid taking on too much debt may wonder what their job prospects look like outside of their college campuses. To help them out, we ranked the best cities in the country for working students.

This is the second annual study of the best cities for working students. Read the 2016 study here.

Study Specifics

For the second year, SmartAsset took a look at the best cities for working students. Our analysis focuses on the employment opportunities for college students attending the top-ranking four-year university in 232 different cities.

To complete our study, we created two different scores: a college value score (based on findings from our study of the best value colleges in America) and a jobs score (based on three factors, including the local minimum wage, the median rent and the unemployment rate for adults with some college education). It is important to note that we changed our methodology slightly this year, so this year’s study is not directly comparable to last year’s. For a full explanation of how we conducted our analysis, read the methodology and data sections below.

See how long it’ll take to pay off your student loans.

Key Findings

  • Minimum wages are rising. Nineteen states and dozens of cities saw their minimum wages increase at the start of 2017. Any boost in pay is sure to benefit working students and other low-wage workers around the country.
  • Check out the Midwest. Four of the best cities for working students are located in this region, thanks in part to their low unemployment rates. In places like Lincoln, Nebraska and Fargo, North Dakota, the unemployment rate among adults with some college education is below 2%.
  • New England ranks well. Four other cities in the top 10 are part of this region, where minimum wages are relatively high. In Portland, Maine and New Britain, Connecticut, for example, the minimum wage is above $10.

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

1. Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield is about 91 miles from Boston by car. One reason why it’s on our list of the best cities for working college students is its high minimum wage. On Jan. 1, Massachusetts’ minimum wage rose from $10 to $11. Massachusetts, Washington state and Washington, D.C. currently have the highest minimum wages in the nation. That’ll change eventually since cities and states like California are planning for their minimum wages to hit $15.

2. Lincoln, Nebraska

Thanks to its strong job market conditions, Lincoln ranks as the second-best city for working students in 2017. The unemployment rate for workers with either an associate’s degree or some college education is just 1.5%, according to one-year estimates from the 2015 American Community Survey. Among all workers ages 16 and over, the city’s unemployment rate is about 3.1%

In addition to having access to a lot of job opportunities, students who attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can get plenty of bang for their buck. Our analysis of the best value colleges found that UNL was the top-ranking university in the Cornhusker State in 2015 and 2016.

3. New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain has a few different colleges. Central Connecticut State University is the oldest public university in the state of Connecticut. Finding a job in New Britain shouldn’t be too difficult for students trying to pay their way through school. The unemployment rate for workers with some college education is just 3%.

4. Omaha, Nebraska

This is the second time that Omaha has appeared on our list of the best cities for working students. Last year, the “Gateway to the West” took the 10th spot on our list. Since we published the 2016 edition of our study, the city’s unemployment rate for workers with some college education has fallen to 2.7%.

Working students in Omaha face a diverse economy. Key industries include health services, education, transportation and utilities, meaning that there are a variety of options for students looking for part-time gigs and internships.

5. Portland, Maine

Finding part-time work may not be difficult for students in Portland, Maine. In this city, the unemployment rate among adults with an associate’s degree or some college education is just 3%.

Students who live off campus may have to pay a pretty penny for rent. The median rent in Portland is $923. Fortunately, the city’s minimum wage is relatively high at $10.68.

Related Article: The Best College Towns to Live In – 2016 Edition

6. Tempe, Arizona

Arizona is another state that saw its minimum wage increase on New Year’s Day. In fact, it went up by almost $2. Thanks to the approval of Proposition 206, part-time and full-time workers will now earn $10 per hour. By 2020, the minimum wage will be $12. That’s good news for working students attending one of the many colleges and universities in Tempe, such as Arizona State University.

7. Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma is a mid-sized city in southwest Washington. The unemployment rate for workers in the city with some college education is 5.6%. According to the Census Bureau, that’s lower than the unemployment rate among all adults in Tacoma ages 16 and over (6.5%).

The state of Washington has one of the highest minimum wages in the country and Tacoma’s minimum wage is a bit higher. In 2017, working students in Tacoma will get paid $11.15 per hour.

8. Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo has the lowest unemployment rate in our study among workers with some college education: 0.6%. And thanks to the state’s low income tax rates, working students don’t have to worry about taxes taking a big bite out of their paychecks. Best of all, many students attending colleges in Fargo have access to a quality, yet affordable education. For the 2016-2017 school year, base tuition at the North Dakota State University – the top-ranking college in the state according to our best value colleges list – will be less than $7,000.

9. Lowell, Massachusetts

Since we released the 2016 edition of our analysis, the median rent in Lowell has increased by about 9%. But the state’s minimum wage has risen as well. College students who need to find part-time jobs can expect to be paid at least $11 per hour in 2017.

10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota and has a population of roughly 171,530. The unemployment rate for workers with some college education is only 2.4%. So students have a good chance of finding a job, particularly if they’re looking for positions in one of the city’s top industries, such as the banking, food processing or bio-medical fields.

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

Methodology

To find the best cities for working students in 2017, SmartAsset found the unemployment rate (for workers with some college education or an associate’s degree) and the median rent for 232 U.S. cities with at least one four-year college or university. We also pulled the minimum wage for each of these places.

We took each of our three factors (the median rent, unemployment rate and the local minimum wage) and found the number of standard deviations each city rated above or below the mean. Then we totaled those values and created a single job score reflecting the strength of the job markets in all 232 major cities.

We also developed a score using the index from our study of the U.S. colleges offering the best bang for your buck (based on several factors including average starting salaries and the cost of college tuition). Whenever we had a city with multiple schools on our list of best value colleges, we looked at data for the local top-ranking school (based on our analysis).

Finally, we combined our job score with our college value score, giving the job score triple weight and the college value score full weight. We created our ranking by assigning each city a score between 0 and 100. The highest-ranking city for working students received a 100 while the lowest-ranking city for working students received a 0.

Note that in the 2016 edition of our analysis, we created our ranking by averaging our two scores. This year, we changed our methodology slightly to give more weight to our job-related factors.

Data Sources

Rent and unemployment data are based on one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Minimum wage data is based on the appropriate city, state or federal minimum wage.

In some states, the minimum wage for large companies is higher. In these instances, we used the state’s lowest minimum wage (i.e. the minimum wage for small businesses). In states with a different minimum wage for small business employees with benefits, we used the minimum wage for employees without benefits. In the states with a minimum wage that’s below the federal threshold, we used the federal minimum wage.

The data analysis for this study was completed by Nick Wallace.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/oneinchpunch

The post The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates?

Just about everybody with a wallet is impacted by the Federal Reserve. That means you—homeowners and prospective buyers. Whether you’re already nestled in to the house of your dreams or still looking to find it, you’ll probably want to track what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. When the Fed (as it’s commonly referred to) cuts its federal funds rate—the rate banks charge each other to lend funds overnight—the move could impact your mortgage costs.

The Fed’s overall goal when it cuts the federal funds rate is to stimulate the economy by spurring consumers to spend and borrow. This is good news if you are carrying debt because borrowing tends to become less expensive following a Fed rate cut (think: lower credit card APRs). But in the case of homeownership, what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates can be a double-edged sword.

What happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates depends on many factors.

The connection between a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates isn’t so crystal clear because the federal funds rate doesn’t directly influence the rate on every type of home loan.

“Mortgage rates are formed by global market forces, and the Federal Reserve participates in those market forces but isn’t always the most important factor,” says Holden Lewis, who’s been covering the mortgage industry for nearly 20 years and is also a regular contributor to NerdWallet.

To understand which side of the sword you’re on, you’ll need an answer to the question, “How does a Fed rate cut affect mortgage rates?” Read on to find out if you stand to potentially gain on your mortgage in a low-rate environment:

How a fixed-rate mortgage moves—or doesn’t

A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains the same for the entire length of the loan. If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates if you are an existing homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage? Nothing should happen to your monthly payments following a Fed rate cut because your rate has already been locked in.

“For current homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage set at a previous higher level, the existing mortgage rate stays put,” Lewis says.

If you’re a prospective homebuyer shopping around for a fixed-rate mortgage, the news of what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates may be different.

.block-quote_1back { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/1back-730×500.jpg); } @media (min-width: 730px) { .block-quote_1back { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/1back-1600×600.jpg); } }

For prospective homebuyers: If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before.”

– Holden Lewis, mortgage expert and NerdWallet contributor

The federal funds rate does not directly impact the rates on this type of home loan, so a Fed rate cut doesn’t guarantee that lenders will start offering lower mortgage rates. However, the 10-year Treasury yield does tend to influence fixed-rate mortgages, and this yield often moves in the same direction as the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts its interest rate and the 10-year Treasury yield is similarly tracking, the rates on fixed-rate mortgages could drop, “and you could lock in interest at a lower fixed rate than before,” Lewis says. It’s also possible that rates on fixed mortgages will not fall following a Fed rate cut.

How an adjustable-rate mortgage follows the Fed

An adjustable-rate mortgage (commonly referred to as an ARM) is a home loan with an interest rate that can fluctuate periodically—also known as variable rate. There is often a fixed period of time during which the initial rate stays the same, and then it adjusts on a regular interval. (For instance, with a 5/1 ARM, the initial rate stays locked in for five years and then adjusts each year thereafter.)

So back to the burning question: If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? The rates on an ARM typically track with the index that the loan uses, e.g., the prime rate, which is in turn influenced by the federal funds rate.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates? If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you may see your rate change.

“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments,” says Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management.

Since ARMs are often adjusted annually after the fixed period, you may not feel the impact of the Fed rate cut until your ARM’s next annual loan adjustment. For instance, if there is one (or more) rate cuts during the course of a year, the savings from the rate reduction(s) would hit all at once at the time of your reset.

If the Fed cuts rates, what happens to mortgage rates for prospective homebuyers considering an ARM? An even lower rate could be in your future—at least for a specific period of time.

“If you’re looking for a shorter-term mortgage, say a 5/1 ARM, you could save considerably on interest,” Stroud says. That’s because the introductory rate of an ARM is usually lower than the rate of a fixed-rate mortgage, Stroud explains. Add that benefit to lower rates fueled by a Fed rate cut and an ARM could be enticing if it supports your financial goals and plans.

.block-quote_5back { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/5back-730×500.jpg); } @media (min-width: 730px) { .block-quote_5back { background-image: url(https://865cd2fc18498405a75a-f8cbe8cb758c89f0cd738fe08520ecb9.ssl.cf5.rackcdn.com/online-banking/banking-topics/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/5back-1600×600.jpg); } }

“If the Fed drops its rate during the adjustment period, you could see your interest rate go down and, in turn, see lower monthly payments.” 

– Emily Stroud, financial advisor and founder of Stroud Financial Management

Benefits of other variable-rate loans following a rate cut

If you have a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates on your mind and are a borrower with other types of variable-rate loans, you could be impacted following a Fed rate cut. Borrowers with variable-rate home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and adjustable-rate Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA ARMs), for example, may end up ahead of the curve when the Fed cuts its rate, according to Lewis:

  • A HELOC is typically a “second mortgage” that provides you access to cash for goals like debt consolidation or home improvement and is a revolving line of credit, using your home as collateral. A Fed rate cut could result in lower rates for variable-rate HELOCs that track with the prime rate. If you are an existing homeowner with a HELOC, you could see your monthly payments drop following a Fed rate cut.
  • An FHA ARM is an ARM insured by the federal government. If you’re wondering about a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, know that this type of mortgage behaves much like a conventional variable-rate loan when the Fed cuts it rate, Lewis says. Existing homeowners with an FHA ARM could see a rate drop, and prospective homebuyers could also benefit from lower rates following a Fed rate cut.

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option for existing homeowners.

Refinancing: A silver lining for fixed rates

When it comes to a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, refinancing to a lower rate could be an option if you have an existing fixed-rate loan. The process of refinancing replaces an existing loan with a new one that pays off your old loan’s debt. You then make payments on your new loan, so the goal is to refinance at a time when you can get better terms.

“If someone buys a home one year and a Fed rate cut results in a mortgage rate reduction, for example, it presents a real refinance opportunity for homeowners,” Lewis says. “Just a small percentage point reduction could possibly trim a few hundred bucks from your monthly payments.”

Before a refinancing decision is made based on a Fed rate cut and mortgage rates, you should consider any upfront costs and fees associated with refinancing to ensure they don’t offset any potential savings.

Managing your finances as a homeowner

You might be expecting some savings in your future now that you’re armed with information on what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates. Whether you’re a homebuyer and financing your new home is going to cost you less with a lower interest rate, or you’re an existing homeowner with an ARM that may come with lower monthly payments, Stroud suggests to use any uncovered savings wisely.

“Invest that cash back into your property, pay down your home equity debt or borrow with it,” she says.

Understanding the connection between the Fed rate cut and mortgage rates can help you better manage your finances as a homeowner.

While news of a Fed rate cut may entice you to analyze how your mortgage will be impacted, remember there are many factors that help to determine your mortgage rate, including your credit score, home price, loan amount and down payment. The Fed’s actions are only one piece of a larger equation.

Even though the Fed’s rate decisions may dominate headlines immediately following a rate cut, your home is a long-term investment and one you’ll likely maintain for years. To best prepare for what happens to mortgage rates when the Fed cuts rates is to always manage your home finances responsibly and be sure to make choices that will lead you down the right path based on your financial goals.

*This should not be considered tax or investment advice. Please consult a financial planner or tax advisor if you have questions.

NMLS ID 684042

The post What Happens to Mortgage Rates When the Fed Cuts Rates? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

10 Ways Coronavirus Tax Relief Affects Your Personal Finances

In response to the ongoing coronavirus emergency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering federal tax relief to Americans. It’s part of emergency declarations that were enacted due to the Stafford Act. This response will undoubtedly help citizens and businesses cope with the crisis.

But what you may not know is that changes to the tax deadline affect several aspects of your financial life. In this post, I’ll explain what coronavirus tax relief is and 10 ways it affects your finances.

1. Your federal income tax deadline is postponed

The central feature of tax relief during the coronavirus pandemic is that the due date for filing and paying your 2019 federal taxes is postposed from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.

You don’t have to be sick or negatively impacted by COVID-19 to qualify for this federal tax postponement. It applies to any person or entity, such as those who are self-employed, an unincorporated business, a corporation, estate, or trust that has 2019 taxes due on April 15. It doesn’t matter if April 15 is the original date for your return on an extension date you previously filed for—your new due date is still July 15.  

There’s absolutely nothing that taxpayers need to do to take advantage of this relief.

There’s absolutely nothing that taxpayers need to do to take advantage of this relief. The postponement will happen automatically for any amount you owe or any installment payment you were asked to make on April 15.

Of course, many Americans are expecting a tax refund. When you overpay taxes during the year, the IRS settles up with you during tax season by issuing a refund.

If you’re owed a tax refund, never wait to file your tax return. The sooner you send it in, the faster you’ll receive your money back. Getting a direct deposit is always faster and safer than a paper check. So, be sure to include your banking information with your return, so you receive your refund electronically.

2. Interest and penalties begin to accrue on July 16, 2020

As a result of the postponement of the due date for filing and paying federal income taxes until July 15, 2020, you’ll get a pass on interest and penalties if you pay up by then. However, the extra fees will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.

3. Your state income tax deadline hasn’t changed

Depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes, which have not been postponed. However, it’s possible that the states affected the most by the coronavirus could enact relief measures of their own.

Depending on where you live, you may have to pay state income taxes, which have not been postponed.

Seven states don’t charge income tax, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee don’t tax earned income, but they do tax your investment income.

If you live in any of the remaining 41 states, plan on filing and paying your state taxes as usual. Check with your state’s tax agency or Department of Revenue to learn more and stay as up to date as possible.

4. You can still file a tax extension

But what if July 15 comes and you need more time? Individuals and businesses can request an automatic extension to delay filing federal taxes. However, this doesn’t give you more time to pay what you owe, only more time to submit your tax form.

To get a federal extension, individuals must submit IRS Form 4868 on IRS.gov, using tax software, or through your tax professional, before the July 15 deadline. Most incorporated businesses must file IRS Form 7004.

If you choose to file an extension request, that would give you until October 15, 2020, to file your 2019 return.

If you choose to file an extension request, that would give you until October 15, 2020, to file your 2019 return. But again, to avoid interest and penalties on any outstanding tax liability, you must pay an amount you estimate is due with your extension request.

If you need a state tax filing extension, check with your state’s tax agency to see what’s possible.

5. Taxes you already scheduled payment for can be canceled

If you’re ahead of the game and already filed your 2019 taxes and scheduled payment to occur on April 15, you have options. If you don’t want your payment to go through, you can reschedule or cancel it until two business days before the payment date.

In other words, April 10 would be the last day to make a tax payment change. However, I wouldn’t wait until the last minute if you plan to reverse or modify it.

To make a change, visit the tax payment portal you initially used and follow the instructions. If you authorized an electronic funds withdrawal from your bank account, contact a U.S. Treasury Financial Agent at 888-353-4537 to request a cancellation. And if you scheduled a tax payment using a credit card, contact the issuer to cancel the card payment.

6. Only one estimated tax deadline for businesses is postposed

Most businesses make estimated tax payments each quarter. The 2020 schedule is:

  • First quarter is due on July 15, 2020, which changed from April 15, 2020
  • Second quarter is due on June 15, 2020
  • Third quarter is due on September 15, 2020
  • Fourth quarter is due on January 15, 2021

So, the first estimated payment that businesses need to make this year will be due on June 15, 2020.

7. Other tax filing deadlines have not been postponed

What about information returns that must be filed by certain types of businesses, or taxes that are due on other dates, such as May 15 or June 15? Unfortunately, individuals and businesses that have filing or payment due dates other than April 15 don’t get any relief at this time.

Again, the assistance only applies to federal income tax returns or payments due on April 15, 2020.

8. Relief doesn’t apply to other types of taxes

If you or your business owe tax other than income tax, such as sales tax, excise tax, payroll tax, gift tax, or estate tax, you must file and pay them as usual.

9. You have more time to make HSA contributions

You typically have until April 15 to make health savings account (HSA) contributions for the prior year. Under this relief, you can now make HSA contributions for 2019 at any time until July 15, 2020.

To qualify for an HSA, you must be covered by a qualifying high-deductible health plan that you get through work or on your own. In early March, the IRS issued a notice that a high-deductible health plan may cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment before your deductibles are met. Also, just as before the coronavirus, you can pay for medical testing and treatment using funds in your HSA.

10. You have more time to make retirement contributions

Just like with an HSA, you typically have until April 15 to make contributions to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Because the tax filing date is postponed to July 15, you can make IRA contributions for 2019 at any time until July 15, 2020.

However, for most workplace retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), the deadline corresponds to the calendar year. So, December 31, 2019, was the last day to make 2019 contributions for accounts offered by an employer.

While this tax relief may not be enough to buoy many people and businesses that have been affected most by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s just one measure. There will be broader fiscal relief enacted to minimize the economic impact of this ongoing health crisis.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com