Our Online Banking system is currently down. We are working to get access restored as quickly as possible and apologize for the inconvenience.
Monthly Archives: March 2018
Mortgage Process – Getting the most out of your loan officer
Georgia’s Own mortgage experts, Todd and Earica, tell you what you should do to get the most out of your loan officer during the mortgage process.
Tax time! Here’s a run-down of everything you need to do before the big date
Tax day can be a dreaded date on the calendar for a lot Americans. Heck, even the post office feels sorry for us. Why else are they willing to keep their doors open late just to help postmark our tax return in time?
To make your tax day easier, we’ve compiled a list of things you need to or can do before the IRS’s red-letter day:
Two Extra Days
This year, tax day is April 17, 2018. Think of it as a gift from the IRS. Because April 15th is a Sunday, and D.C celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, you earn two additional days of interest on the money you set aside for your tax bill and 48 hours to dig through your receipts looking for another deduction.
Fund your retirement account
There’s not much you can do after December 31 that will affect your 2017 taxes, but every bit counts. If you have a Roth or Traditional IRA and haven’t maxed out your contribution, do it by April 17, and you can potentially lower your tax bill. It’s the last day to make a contribution for 2017, regardless of whether it’s tax deductible or not. If you’ve filed for an extension and have a Keogh or SEP IRA, you’ll have until October 15, 2018, but it’s smarter to start your tax-free compounding sooner than later.
Do you know the documents you’ll need to complete your tax return? Don’t leave it to the last minute or you may run out of time. Collect all of your W-2s,1099s, and any mortgage statements. These should have arrived in your mailbox by January 31, 2018. Gather receipts for tax-deductible expenses, bank and brokerage statements, rental property income information, social security numbers for dependents, and any other documents you need for your return. There’s nothing worse than being “in the zone” and having to stop to look for another piece of paper. Plan ahead and avoid the frustration.
Use the right tax form
Yes, most tax forms can be found at the library or post office, but why make a trip if you don’t have to. Go straight to the online source: the Internal Revenue Service. The site can also link you to a list of government websites where you’ll be able to find your state forms, too.
Need more time?
If you don’t think you’ll be able to file your taxes by April 17, be sure to file Form 4868 for an extension. You’ll get an additional six months to finish, which will bring you to October 15, 2018. It’ll give you more time for the paperwork, but it won’t delay any tax payment, however. You’ll have to reasonably estimate your tax liability and include payment when you file your request. Don’t let that deter you, though. If you file late without having filed for an extension and you wind up owing the IRS, you’ll also be hit with a late-filing penalty AND a late-payment penalty!
The IRS processes electronic transfer more quickly than paper, so if you expect a refund, file electronically. You’ll likely get it three to six weeks sooner. Request a direct deposit to your bank account and it’ll be even faster–and it’s guaranteed not to get lost in the mail!
If you owe the IRS, you can still file electronically and then wait until the deadline to send payment. Include a check with Form 1040-V, or pay via direct debit or with a credit card. Know, though, that a credit card will include an additional service charge that can be as high at 2.5 percent. On the other hand, a direct debit should allow you to delay the transaction until the filing deadline.
Ask for help
If you’ve had a life-changing event in 2017 or your taxes are more of an overwhelming task than you’d like to tackle, consider a professional preparer. You’ll still need to collect your documents and answer some questions, but a professional may help alleviate some of the headache and offer you more confidence. Don’t wait, though. They’re under the same filing deadline as everyone else and there are only 24 hours in a day!
Mortgage Process – 3 Common Misconceptions Before Applying for a Mortgage Loan
Georgia’s Own mortgage experts, Todd and Earica, discuss three common misconceptions you should know about before applying for a mortgage loan.
How to buy a new car without wrecking your finances
Buying a new car is a big decision. Not so much the make and model, but more about the financial responsibility that comes with it. Unfortunately, what we want and what we need are often at odds with each other, and car buyers end up purchasing a vehicle with a price tag that exceeds their budget…and then some.
Here are a few tips that can help keep your next car purchase in line with what you need, want, and can afford:
All purchases are not created equal
You may have purchased a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes that were more than a month’s rent, or a new, state-of-the-art gaming system that set you back a few bills, but those splurges can be contained and could be considered short-term lapses in smart financial judgment. They busted your budget, but over the next few grueling months, you can probably get back on track by skipping your daily Starbuck’s run, clearing your calendar, and eating ramen noodles.
Purchasing a car that’s too expensive for your wallet could possibly tie-up your finances for the next 60 months. That’s five years of monthly payments that you may or may not be able to consistently afford. The golden rule of car buying is to NEVER ignore the total price of the car. Regardless of how they package the financing, it won’t change the actual cost. Consider purchasing a vehicle that’s below your means, unless of course, what you’re driving means more to you than your financial sanity.
Down payments are smart…and rare
Ask most car salespeople and they’re likely to say that the percentage of buyers who put down a substantial down payment is pretty low. Whether you fund it with a trade-in or cash that you’ve been saving, a down payment will lower the amount of money you’ll have to pay over time. It’ll decrease your monthly loan payment and hopefully, bring it in line with your budget.
What do you really need?
Make a list of your “must have” and “nice to have” options before you visit the dealership. Everyone wants the newest and coolest features, and for just a few hundred or a couple thousand more dollars, you can have it all…heated seats, parking assist, wi-fi, keyless entry, and a navigation system. Yeah, they’re nice to have, but here’s where you have to determine what you need and what you want because it all leads back to the golden rule.
Rolling over debt is not a solution
Don’t trade one financial problem for another. For the people who get tired of their cars after a few years or feel the need to upgrade their ride every other model year, the idea of holding onto their vehicle until the loan is repaid seems preposterous. To keep themselves in a new car and avoid any down payment, they simply roll one purchase into the next. The deficiency on their current car, because it was worth less than they owed, is added to the new car loan. It’s an ugly cycle that is truly detrimental to your financial health.
Watch for hidden costs
Another thing to consider beyond the price of the car is insurance, repair, and maintenance costs. Generally, the more pricey the car, the more expensive it is to insure and take care of. Talk with your insurance agent to determine how much your monthly insurance premium will increase. Research costs so you’re able to plan for routine maintenance and repairs. Some of the results might lead you away from certain makes and models and toward more reasonably priced alternatives.
Hopefully, these tips will keep your next car purchase from wreaking havoc on your finances. Do your research, consider your budget, and keep your emotions in check. Remember, the decision to buy a car isn’t a “one day and it’s done” choice. It’ll impact the way you manage your financial life for years…and that’s a long time to eat ramen noodles.