— Money Help (in simple terms)

Where is Your Tax Refund?

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Uncategorized, . More Resources For YOU!, Tips | Tags: , , , |

If you are lucky enough to get a refund this year, click on the picture below or use this link to track down your IRS refund:


To access the information, you’ll need to provide the following information from your tax return:

  • Your Social Security Number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
  • Your Filing Status
  • The exact whole dollar amount of your refund

IMPORTANT: You can usually get information about your refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return or in three to four weeks if you filed a paper return.  “Where’s my Refund?” is updated weekly, every Wednesday.  Please check back after Wednesday for updated information.

If you don’t have a computer to access this information, no problem. You can get the information you need from the telephone.

A special automated toll-free line is dedicated to refund status reports. When you call (800) 829-1954, you’ll need the same information the online system requires.

Don’t forget though, that this year, there’s also the issue of delayed tax return processing. Because tax law changes affecting 2010 returns weren’t enacted until Dec. 17, 2010, the IRS had to update forms and its computer systems before it could process many returns. The IRS started working on those delayed filings on Feb. 14, 2011.

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7 Tips for Negotiating With The IRS

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Top 10..., . More Resources For YOU!, Tips | Tags: , , , , , |

Do you owe the IRS money? Or will you owe them money after this April? If so, here are 7 tips that I found helpful, posted on www.foxbusiness.com

From time to time every taxpayer will have to go head to toe with the IRS. Whether you are setting up an installment agreement, facing the auditor from hell, resolving a misunderstanding, or dealing with collectors on the phone or worse yet, on your doorstep, you would be well advised to heed the following suggestions.

1. You get more flies with honey. Dealing with bureaucracy can be very frustrating, but park your bad attitude and anger at the door. Take a deep breath, demonstrate a cooperative attitude, and proceed in an orderly fashion to resolving your issue. In my 28 years of dealing with the IRS, I have found that most IRS personnel are compassionate humans that bend over backward to find ways to resolve issues and help taxpayers. Of course you are going to run into that power-hungry, condescending, surly agent from time to time, but if you do, you can always trade up to a more understanding and respectful model by asking for the manager.

2.Use IRS lingo. When you use IRS lingo the agent you are speaking with will find you knowledgeable and may treat you with a little more respect. Here is some verbiage you may find useful:

  1. Ask for penalties to be “abated” rather than removed.
  2. Tell them, if it’s the case, that your failure to (pay or file or comply with a document request) was due to “reasonable cause.” Use this term if you didn’t just flake and have a good reason, which could include such things as unemployment, losing your records, losing your home, health problems, etc.
  3. If you can’t pay a tax bill because you are suffering financial reversals, you can ask to be deemed “currently not collectible.” If you are granted this status, they will leave you alone for an entire year while you get it together.
  4. If you feel a spouse or former spouse should be responsible for a tax matter, ask to be treated as an “innocent spouse.” There are certain criteria to this status; do some research or discuss the issues with your tax pro.
  5. If defending business deductions during an audit, the term “ordinary and necessary” business expense will help–but only if that’s really the case.

3. Don’t talk too much. IRS agents are trained to draw as much information from you as possible. Answer questions truthfully, but keep your answers short, succinct and to the point. There is no need to elaborate or discuss your personal life or disclose too much. This will only lead to misunderstandings and maybe even investigations.

4. Always tell the truth. Lies have a way of uncovering themselves. Once you are caught in a lie, you will always be suspect. And when you are suspect, you lose the cooperation you would normally receive. Don’t hide assets, don’t run for cover. There are many ways to resolve tax problems using a straightforward and honest approach. Lies may lead to jail time.

5. Only make promises you can keep. This is especially true when it comes to paying your liability. If an IRS agent asks you if you can pay $200 per month on a tax balance and you know you can only afford $100, tell him so. Indicate that you will try to pay extra when you can, but you are not going to set yourself up for failure by promising more than you are able. Throw that in with the fact, (if it’s the case), that you have always timely filed and paid liabilities in the past and now you need a break. Note that this will not work if their analysis of your financial situation indicates you can pay more.

6. Go to them before they come at you. If you are unable to keep a promise you make, tell the IRS immediately. The agency is usually so happy with the cooperation it will likely grant you the extensions you need. The collections department notes your file whenever you or your representative calls.

7. Stop the Interview. If at any time during an audit or a phone conversation you feel intimidated, disrespected, or out of your depth, simply say so and end the interview. Tell the IRS that you will be seeking representation and will get back with them soon. This will give you a chance to take a deep breath and discuss the matter with your tax pro. If you felt disrespected, you can always request a different auditor. Or if it was a matter of a surly customer service rep you were speaking with on the phone, you can hang up and call again in hopes of getting someone kinder or a little more understanding.

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5 Things You Need To Know About Getting Audited

Posted on February 12, 2011. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Saving Money And YOU, -- Top 10..., -- Uncategorized, . More Resources For YOU!, Tips | Tags: , , , |

As tax time rolls around for all of us this year, here are 5 Thing You Need to Know About Getting Audited. At least according to Money Magazine. Enjoy!
1. AUDITS ARE ON THE RISE. Money says that the number of audits has risen steadily year after year, and that experts expect the trend to continue. They also add that audit letters typically go out 18 months after the filing date.
2. DELAYING CAN COST YOU THE RIGHT TO FIGHT.  If you receive a letter from the IRS be sure to take action within 30 days upon receipt. Otherwise dispute moves on to a collection agency, which becomes a total nightmare.  If you can’t get everything together in 30 days, you have the right to ask for a postponement. The IRS does not have to, but they should grant you more time if you need it to track down records.
3. IT CAN HELP TO HAVE A PRO ON YOUR SIDE. Almost 3/4 of audits happen by mail, with the IRS requesting certain documentation (like receipts) on a specific part of the return. You can handle this type of audit on your own, but if someone else prepared your taxes you should ask him to weigh in. The fee you paid could cover such help, and the agreement you have may put the person on the hook for mistakes. If the audit requires an in-person meeting, it will probably get in-depth with some issues. You’ll then probably want an advocate like a CPA on your side with audit experience. Expect to pay $500 to a few thousand dollars.
4. ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU. In other words, do not offer any additional information beyond what is asked for by the examiner.  
5. THE AUDITOR’S BOSS MAY BE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE. Unhappy with what the auditor is finding? Ask for his or her supervisor. Like in most situations, the manager has more angles to work.  If the manager doesn’t see your side, file an appeal. The other option is to take them through the legal system. Money says that may not be worth the cause unless there’s more than $10,000 at stake.
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Posted on March 8, 2009. Filed under: -- Book Summaries, -- Building Wealth, -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Suze Orman, -- YOUR Retirement | Tags: , , , |

By Molly Greavessuze_orman_2009_action_plan1

New York Times best-selling author and one of our nation’s go-to experts and on financial matters, Suze Orman believes that 2009 is a critical year for your money. And I completely agree with her, which is why this weekend I sat down and read her book, 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound.


I know Suze Orman is a trusted household name and I wanted to be sure to recap her message for you in case you don’t have time to read her book.  Below I have outlined with bullets the main ideas from each of her 10 chapters.


Don’t forget that the whole goal for you making the rights moves in 2009 is to alleviate the stress, fear and anger you’re feeling and replace it with the secure sense that you have done what it takes to protect yourself, the money you’ve worked for, and the one’s you love. Good for you for taking the first step and reading the action plan. Best of luck to you with your goals as well =)




  • Make it a priority to pay off your credit card balances.


  • Read every single statement and all correspondence from your credit card company to make sure you are aware of any changes to your account, such as skyrocketing rates.


  • Work to get your FICO credit score above 720.


  • Be very careful where you turn to help with credit card debt. Debt consolidators are often a very bad deal. The National Foundation of Credit Counseling is a smarter choice.


  • Resist the temptation to use retirement savings or a home equity line of credit to pay off credit card debt.


  • Pay the minimum amount due each month on every card. That’s your only shot at keeping your FICO score from falling further. It will also lower the odds that your credit card company will close your account.


  • Line up your cards that charge the highest interest rate at the top of the pile. That’s the card you focus on paying off first. Send in as much money as you can each month to get that balance down to zero.


  • Once the first card is paid off, focus on the second card in your pile: the card with the next-highest interest rate.


  • Keep up with this system until you have all of the cards paid off.


  • The biggest risk to your retirement security is giving in to your emotions. You may make decisions that “feel right” for 2009, but that doesn’t mean they are the right long-term solution for you.


  • Make sure you have the right mix of stocks and bonds in your retirement account for your age.


  • Do not make early withdrawals or take loans from retirement accounts to pay for non-retirement expenses.


  • Convert an old 401(k) to a rollover IRA so you can invest in the best low-cost funds, ETFs, and bonds.


  • If eligible in 2009, consider moving at least a portion of a 401(k) rollover to a Roth IRA. Or wait until 2010 and convert it to a Roth then. In 2010, everyone regardless of income will be able to contribute to a Roth. Just don’t forget about the tax due at conversion.


  • Make sure your bank or credit union is covered by the federal deposit insurance (this is the FDIC for banks and the NCUA for credit unions ).


  • Check that what you have on deposit is eligible for full insurance coverage in the unlikely event that your bank or credit union fails. Through December 31, 2009, the general limit has been raised to $250,000 from its previous $100,000, but you still need to educate yourself about the ins and outs.


  • If your savings is in a money market mutual fund sold through a brokerage or mutual fund firm, consider moving it to the Treasury money market fund at that company.


  • Build up your savings to cover eight months of living expenses.


  • Move all money you need within the next 5-10 years into savings. Money you need soon does not belong in the stock market (make sure you choose a high-interest yield savings account).


  • Separate your wants from your needs.


  • Get over the guilt that you aren’t “providing” for your kids.


  • Strike the word “deserve” from the conversation. What you deserve is irrelevant; what you can truly afford is all that counts.


  • Try to negotiate better terms on a car loan you can’t keep up with.


  • Be very careful when asked to co-sign anything, no matter how much you love the person asking you for your help.


  • Pledge these three things:


1.     Do not spend money for one day

2.     Do not use your credit card for one week

3.     Do not eat out at a restaurant for one month


  • Push for a mortgage “modification” if your current loan is too expensive.


  • Do not use credit cards or retirement funds to pay for a too-expensive home.


  • Stay informed about new programs, from lenders and the government, in the months ahead that aim to keep more homeowners out of foreclosure (try calling 888-995-HOPE or go to hopenow.com)
  • Build a real savings fund a HELOC should not be used as a safety net in 2009.


  • Focus on your home’s long-term value, not it’s price change from month to month.


  • If your child is headed to college within four years and your collge savings are in the stock market, you should begin to phase out of the market, so that you have 100% out by the time your child is 17.


  • If you have a child who will enter college in 2009-2010, look into getting a Stafford loan.


  • If Stafford loans are not enough, parents consider a PLUS loan. Significant changes to this program last year make this a viable option for many more families.


  • Stay away from private student loans at all costs.


  • If you are graduating college in 2009 with student loan debt, know your repayment options.


  • Build a substantial savings account today so you will be okay if you are laid off.


  • Do not go without health insurance (try ehealthinsurance.com for the largest online resource for health insurance or nahu.org if you like to work with an agent).


  • Shop for private health insurance if you are laid off; it is often less expensive than COBRA.


  • Purchase an affordable term life insurance policy if anyone is dependent on your income.


  • Make sure you have all of your estate-planning documents in order.


  • Focus on the road ahead!

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Why Ask For An FHA Loan?

Posted on September 20, 2008. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Real Estate Guide For Today's Market, -- Saving Money And YOU, -- Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |






By Molly Greaves

With participating and studying in real estate investing, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about first time home buying, Down Payment Assistance, etc. so I can help others figure out how to become a qualified home-owner while taking advantage of as many financial assistance programs as possible that are available to them.

Here are some important things to know about FHA. Many people are unclear of what FHA means or why someone should get an FHA loan. Please give Hud.gov a visit for more information.

Why Ask For An FHA Loan?

There are lots of reasons to ask your lender for an FHA loan instead of taking a conventional or an expensive and risky sub-prime mortgage loan. Why not take advantage of the many benefits and protections that only come with FHA:

Easier to Qualify – Because FHA insures your mortgage, lenders are more willing to give loans with lower qualifying requirements so its easier for you to qualify.

Less than Perfect Credit – Even if you have had credit problems, such as bankruptcy, its easier for you to qualify for an FHA loan than a conventional loan.

Low Downpayment – We have a low 3% downpayment, and that money can come from a family member, employer or charitable organization. Other loans don’t allow this.

Costs Less – Many times, FHA loans have competitive interest rates because the loans are insured by the Federal Government. Always compare an FHA loan with other loan types.













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Posted on July 24, 2008. Filed under: -- Building Wealth, -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Uncategorized, . More Resources For YOU! | Tags: , , |

By Molly Malone

Don’t forget that THE INTEREST RATES CHARGED ON FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS ARE RESET EACH YEAR ON JULY 1st.  Once you’ve already consolidated, however, you are uneligible to re-consolidate again. See the the current rates here.

Also, if all of your loans are from the same lender, you must consolidate with that lender. If you have loans from a variety of resources, you can consolidate at banks or places like Sallie Mae. I recommend VSAC (Vermont Student Assitance Corp),  they are where I have my loans and they are the best…TRUST me. They are not out to trick you into messing up so you end up with higher rates. They are honest, and very helpful. So much that they let me know when to consolidate, and I was fortunate to lock in a 2.875% rate. WHOOOHOO.

At this rate, I’m not even rushing to pay it off. It makes more sense to use the extra cashflow for other goals and investments that offer me a higher return on my money. Unfortunately not everyone is as fortunate.

Don’t forget that when/if you call them to also talk with them about the bonus .25% you can get taken off of your interest rate simply by signing up for them to automatically withdraw your payment from your checking account. Also BE sure your lender always has your updated address even if everything isset up on automatic, because when TAX TIME comes around, you’ll want to be sure you’re able to deduct the student loan interest if eligible ( deduct up to $2,500 per year in student loan interest if your income is less than $50,000 if you are single, and if your income is less than $100,000 if you file a joint tax return) and you’ll need your tax document in hand to take you deduction.

Don’t you just love student loans? =) 


2008/2009 Academic Year (1st Disbursement Date On or After 7/1/08)*
Loan Type Federal
Federal Fees Federal Fees
Borrowing with VSAC**
Subsidized Stafford
FOR undergraduates
6.0% 1% Origination Fee
1% Default Fee
0% Origination Fee
0% Default Fee
Unsubsidized Stafford
FOR undergraduates
6.8% 1% Origination Fee
1% Default Fee
0% Origination Fee
0% Default Fee
Subsidized & Unsubsidized Stafford
FOR graduate/professionals
6.8% 1% Origination Fee
1% Default Fee
0% Origination Fee
0% Default Fee
Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS 8.5% 3% Origination Fee
1% Default Fee
3% Origination Fee
0% Default Fee
(1% Default Fee for loans
approved before 5/19/08)


PS- Don’t ever ignore those student loan payments as they report to the credit agencies. So, if you default on your payments, they report you. In addition,  if you ever claim personal bankruptcy, you will still have to pay back your loans.


Will you take my QUICK survey? It’s just 10 questions.

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Quizes, -- Saving Money And YOU, -- Uncategorized | Tags: |

By Molly Malone

I’d really appreciate it if you would share with me your attitude about money! It’s completely confidential, will take just 1 minute, and is even sort of cool, BUT I’m not going to twist your arm now or anything my friend. 


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Why Aren’t You Richer?

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Uncategorized | Tags: , |

By Molly Malone

I’ve read a lot of money books in the past years and really like the Introduction part of the book Make Money, Not Excuses.  It talks about the 4 things that you need to do if you want to be wealthier than you are today.  I like the way the author, Jean Chatzky, dwindles these ideas down for us. Here they are:

1. You need to make a decent living.

2. You need to spend less than you make.

3. You need to invest the money you don’t spend so that it can work as hard for you as you’re working for yourself.

4. You need to protect yourself and this financial world you’ve built so that a disaster–big or small–doesn’t take it all away from you. 

She says these are the meat and potato and I would agree. You can buy her book here OR, you could make a donation to your library and check it out from them if you feel the need to spend!

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Common Personal Finance Issues:

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: -- Building Wealth, -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Saving Money And YOU | Tags: |

By Molly Malone

Since I’ve been studying  money as a subject for years now, I’ve noticed that there are some common personal issues amongst us out there, and thought I’d categorize them for you. Since I see numbers as black and white and don’t really attach emotion to them, many people talk with me about their finances. You would be surprised though at how many people take in a lot of money, yet have no assets to show for it.  Instead, they continuously are buying depreciating assets, which are digging many of them into big, DEEP ruts.

— Overspender: Don’t forget it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. I tell teachers all of the time that they can be rich because it’s what they keep.  The problem is that many people spend more than they take in each month.  Chronic overspending can be a serious problem, and if you are a serious spender, I do recommend seeking help. I had a friend who was a shop aholic. She still loves to shop, but after she got counseling, she now can control what she spends.

— Procrastination: People tend to put things like saving off for a rainy day, but the problem with that thought is that saving is much more effective if you start earlier than later, even if you just put away an extra $5 month! Seriously. Get yourself in the savings habit. If you’ve got some extra cash in the bank earning savings account rates, and you are procrastinating due to lack of financial intelligence, do something about it. Shoot me an email at greaves.molly@gmail.com and we can talk about options, or try someone local to you.

–Unpreparedness: I talk about the importance to have an emergency cushion, which I think should be at least 6 months worth of expenses should you not be able to work, but it seems many can not fathom the idea. This unpreparedness leads to unpleasant surprise, ultimately leading to overspending and debt.

— Lack of Education and Thinking You Can’t: This one drives me nuts. Lack of financial education is a good reason not to get into investments that you don’t know about, but you really need to become your own CEO. Nobody will ever care about your money as much as you will, and it is time for the learning to begin.  Start paying attention to the financial part of the world and news and you’ll be surprised how quickly things come together. In the mean time, I’d get some financial advising so you can start buying yourself some paper assets.  Or, if you’re like me, you could enroll in real estate classes to start investing in real estate. It’s whatever your comfortable with, but do get started (only after your emergency fund is solid though).

— Using emotion not reason: Crazy.  People listen to the news to get information on the economy. When times are “tough” the reporters talk about it to no end, and it’s plastered all over the news. They even run like crazy. Some lose sleep!  However, those same reporters often forget to also mention that on the flip side of when people think times are “tough,” things are actually GREAT for others. People that have the financial education recognize this type of economy to make money, realizing “America’s on sale” and they are buying left and right. Notice how I said people that have the financial education, instead of saying “those that are rich” are buying. Money is cheap today, and it’s time to take action. You don’t have to be rich, you just have to be smart.  

— Financial Clashes– So your friends spend ALL of their money and buy things like Kate Spade purses. At the end of the month, and underneath their glam, they are broke. Broke at the bank, and broken hearted. You instead, have enough purses and have a $300 cashflow at the end of the month.  You know, however, that that cashflow would be more like +$1400 per month if you and your friend did things differently. So, it’s time for you to take control of your financial future and start putting that extra cashflow to work for you.  You might have to change the way you hang with your friend in order to achieve your goals.  Not STOP hanging out, just get some new hobbies together like walking, biking, singing, etc. 

And what if you are a saver and your spouse is a spender? Well, this happened to me, but fortunately I was able to empower my boyfriend with all of these numbers explaining the importance of keeping some of the money you make. Now he’s quitting his job to travel around and hang out since he stayed disciplined and consistent. I did the same thing.  Took about 6 months off or so with no worries. Chilled and traveled.  Anyway, if this isn’t the case, you must work together to build a financial plan that keeps both of your goals in mind, and uses each persons strengths to carry it out.

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Top 10 Ways Of Thinking Like a Billionaire–According to Donald Trump’s Best Selling “Think Like a Billionaire–Everything You Need To Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life”

Posted on July 19, 2008. Filed under: -- Book Summaries, -- Building Wealth, -- Money Help (in simple terms), -- Top 10..., -- Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

I have been reading a lot about Donald Trump recently, and find him and his hair to be very intriguing.  Did you know he was once $8 billion in the hole? Yep. That’s ridiculous. He turned that around to be up 6 billion. That’s one fact I learned from the Trump Seminar I attended the other day.

Oh, and guess how many lucky billioanires are out there as per the realease date of this book? 587.

I believe in personally having a millionaire mindset, and continuously read books and take classes about becoming rich to keep be on track with things. I also surround myself with others that are smarter and that I can learn from.

Recently after the Trump Seminar I attended at the Marriott, we were all handed a copy of Donald’s newest book “Think Like a Billionaire–Everything You Need To Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life.”  I decided to take some time and get started reading it.

I’ll blog more about my notes later in case you too are interested in learning how to think like a billionaire.  But first though, I wanted to share with you what Trump considers the Top 10 Ways Of Thinking Like a Billionaire:

1. Don’t Take a Vacation.    He says “what’s the point? If you don’t like your work, you’re in the wrong business.”

2. Have a short attention span.  He says that the most successful people have very short attention spans, and that it has to do with imaginiation.

3. Don’t sleep any more than you have to. Trump says he goes to bed at 1AM and by 5AM he is reading the newspaper.  Helps him have a competitive edge.

4. Don’t depend on technology. He says that if you have something to say, look the person in the eye and say it. He adds that if you can’t do that, give the person a call and make sure they hear the sincerity in your voice. Email is for wimps he says.

5. Think of yourself as a one-man army.  He says that not only are you the commander in chief, you are the soldier as well, adding the fact that you must plan and execute your plan alone.

6. It’s often to your advantage to underestimate. 

7. Success breeds success.  Trump says that the best way to impress people is through results. He adds that you have to create success to impress people in the world of business.

8. Friends are good, but family is better.

9. Treat each decision like a lover. He says that if you treat each decision like a lover–faithfully, respectfully, and appropriately.

10. Be curious.  The Don says that a successful people are always going to be curious. He continues by saying that you have to be alive to your surroundings and hungry to understand your immediate world. Otherwise, you’ll lack the perspective to see beyond yourself.

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