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Success Online Financial Education Newsletter

 

Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
SUCCESS NewsletterMarch 7 2013 newsletter
 
Why tax time is the best time to ditch debt 

Don't just treat the symptoms of debt

By Jesse Campbell, Copywriter

Tax time is a great time of year to do a lot of fun things (except commit tax evasion…definitely not a good time to commit tax evasion). It’s a great time to buy some new pencils, brush up on current tax laws and spend a little quality time with a few of your favorite receipts from the past year.

It also happens to be a great time to break up with debt!

Now, you’re likely thinking, “My debt is way bigger than my tax refund is going to be!” Well, that’s probably quite true, but breaking up with debt doesn’t mean becoming instantly debt-free; it means breaking free from the bad financial habits and circumstances that have kept you locked in a destructive relationship. It means making the changes necessary to find a better path for yourself.

And tax time is absolutely a great time to start making those changes! Consider this:

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Paying with plastic could be more costly now

Paying with plastic could be more costly than ever

How closely do you look at your receipts? Notice any new fees lately?

As of late January, nationwide, retailers large and small have been given the go-ahead to start imposing surcharges on consumers who make purchases with debit or credit cards. That means everyone – from the eclectic little Mom ‘n’ Pop on the corner to your favorite Big Box store – can now add up to 4% to your purchase every time you pull out the plastic.

I think it’s safe to say that the last thing American consumers want to hear about right now is more fees.

So why would merchants want this? Why now?

And most importantly, will they really go through with it?

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit MoneyManagement.org.

 

What sequestration means to you

You may have heard the term "sequestration" lately and wondered what it meant.  More importantly, you've probably wondered what it means to you.

It really all started in 2011 with last year's most popular financial buzz term: "fiscal cliff." 

In an effort to avert the fiscal cliff and address the approaching debt ceiling, lawmakers in Washington reached an agreement that allowed the federal government to borrow the money necessary to meet its financial obligations in exchange for $2 trillion in spending cuts. 

The first $1 trillion in cuts was spelled out in the debt-ceiling bill.  The second $1 trillion, however, was imposed via sequestration.

Essentially the sequester was designed to give lawmakers another chance to create the needed spending cuts, but with the added incentive of an automatic, across-the-board series of cuts to government agencies that would kick in on March 1 if no agreement was reached.

To this point no agreement has been reached, which means those automatic cuts — totalling $1.2 trillion over 10 years — are now in effect.  The cuts are split almost evenly between defense and domestic spending.

The most pressing and immediate result of the sequestration is that more than 1 million federal employees now face the possibility of being placed on work furloughs.  A furlough is an involuntary period of unpaid leave usually imposed by companies due to economic conditions.

As the government must provide employees with at least 30 days' notice of such action no furloughs should take effect until April at the earliest. 

Even if you aren't a government employee, if the sequester is not addressed soon eventually the spending cuts will have an impact in your life — at the very least in the form of reduced services from government agencies.

If you are a government employee, it's very important to make sure that you have your finances in order and begin making a concerted effort to build and maintain savings

At MMI we have a multitude of resources available to help guide you through a potential loss of income.

Be sure to check out our extensive archive of articles and tips for building savings.  We also have resources designed to help you navigate a financial crisis.


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