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Paula Pant

Paula's Budgeting & Personal Finance Blog

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What's an ARM?

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Looking for a house?

If so, you're probably trying to learn an entirely new set of jargon, including the term "adjustable-rate mortgage." What does this mean? Should you get one?

Learn more in this blog post, What's an ARM?

Wedding Planning on a Budget

Thursday May 22, 2014

Don't let your budget get in the way of the wedding of your dreams.

Simple tips shared in this latest article will help you save money while wedding planning

Share your wedding budgeting tips in the forums. Enjoy!

Negotiate Your Way to More Savings

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Do you only negotiate when purchasing big ticket items? Have you ever tried negotiating your monthly expenses?

If not, learn how in this latest article.

Share your negotiating tips in the forums. Enjoy!

Advice for Teens Trying to Buy a Car

Tuesday May 20, 2014

You're a teenager. You work part-time, and earn minimum wage (or close to minimum). Yet you're struggling to buy a car, which costs thousands. And you need even more money for gas, insurance, and repairs.

How can you budget for a car as a teenager? Learn some tips in this latest post.

What's an Adverse Action?

Thursday May 15, 2014

Did you recently apply for a credit card, car loan, mortgage or some other credit?

Did you get an Adverse Action notice? Do you wonder what on earth that means?

If so, check out this latest Glossary entry that defines the term "Adverse Action" and links to an article that explains how you can avoid these by keeping your credit score high.

Enjoy!

How to Save More Money, Even if You're Broke

Monday May 12, 2014

Are you feeling short on cash? Do you think that "saving" is just a dream?

If so, you'll want to read this latest article, Savings Challenged? Try These Tricks.

Share your favorite savings tip in the forums. Enjoy!

How to Minimize Taxes if You're Self-Employed

Friday May 2, 2014

A reader recently emailed to say:

"I'm self-employed. I find that too much of my money is going to taxes. I also own a rental property, and pay a lot of tax on that income. How can I minimize this? Will creating a corporation help?"

(I'm paraphrasing the question to preserve the reader's personal details).

My answer:

Forming an LLC (S-Corp) won't help with the tax burden, as its a pass-thru entity. You could potentially create a C-Corp, but then you're subject to double-taxation: corporate taxes plus personal tax.

Rental properties create "passive income," which is classified a little differently than ordinary income. Your passive losses can offset passive income. These losses can come from years when expenses (improvements) exceed income. It'll add to your equity while also giving you a tax-break.

However, some improvements will be depreciated, so you won't get the full benefit in the year you make the expenditure.

I suggest meeting with a CPA that specializes in small biz / real estate. I also suggest maximizing every retirement account you're eligible for: the 401k, IRA, HSA and more. Retirement contributions produce a double-benefit: You'll pay less in taxes while also putting yourself in a better position for retirement. That's a HUGE win-win.

Read more: 401k Retirement Contribution Limits in 2014

Read more: 401k and IRA Contribution Limits

Read more: Tax Advice for the Self-Employed

Disclaimer: I am not a tax attorney, CPA, or Enrolled Agent. So my suggestions should not be relied on for tax or legal advice. Each business is unique and should be discussed with your tax advisor before you take any action.

Teaching Kids How to Budget

Friday April 18, 2014

How can you teach your children important lessons about managing money?

Try setting up three jars in your home, labeled "save," "spend," and "share." Help your child divide his allowance into each of these jars. The "spend" jar is money that can get spent immediately, on items like ice-cream and small toys. "Save" goes towards the new Playstation video game that he's been eyeing. And "share" goes to a charity of his choice, something that your child picks out.

Learn more in this article, How to Raise Financially Responsible Children.

Making Smart Choices with Your Discretionary Money

Monday April 14, 2014

Imagine that you have some wiggle room in your budget. (I know, I know ... it's a fantasy for some, and a daily reality for others. Keeping your costs low, and working extra jobs/hours, can help you create this wiggle room. Bit I digress ... )

If you have some discretionary room in your budget, how can you decide whether or not to "upgrade" a purchase? What's worth spending money on ... and what's not?

Find out in the latest article, How to Make Smart Spending Decisions.

How to Avoid Losing Money to Scams

Monday April 14, 2014

Imagine this: You tour a beautiful apartment. It's in the perfect location, and its well within your budget. The property manager says that there's a ton of interest in the unit, so you need to act now if you want to secure the space. So you write a check, right there on the spot, to lock down the apartment.

And then you never see him again.

This is a classic example of a rental scam. Some people obtain the key (or otherwise break-in) to a model showroom or a vacant dwelling. They pose as property managers, collect a handful of deposits from unsuspecting renters, and vanish into the night air.

Part of solid financial planning is protecting yourself from scams, theft and other financial calamities. In these articles, learn how to be wary of losing money to scammers.

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