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Six Steps To Maximize Your Tax Refund

MoneyTips

Does your preparation for tax day start with a trip to the liquor store, or perhaps a one-way ticket to Costa Rica? Taxes are unpleasant, but drinking or fleeing the country is not the answer. Tackle your taxes head-on with solid preparation, and the experience may turn out to be more pleasant than you thought it would be. Here are a few tips to help you with your tax preparation and increase your chances of getting the biggest refund you deserve. 1. Start Immediately – Procrastination is just going to make things worse. Pressure will increase as tax-filing day draws nearer, and it is more likely that you will have problems finding vital paperwork or will make mistakes filling out your form. Get started on your taxes as early as you can and gather some positive momentum. 2. Organize Your Paperwork – Hopefully you have been storing and organizing important tax documents and necessary receipts throughout the year — but if so, you probably would not be reading an article about how to prepare for tax day. Start by gathering the basic tax documents. Last year's tax return, W-2 forms, 1099-MISC forms for any independent contracting work, other 1099s forms for things like bank accounts and brokerage statements, and 1095 forms to prove health insurance status. After securing all the basic documents, move on to receipts for all itemized deductions. Speaking of deductions.... 3. Explore Deductions – You may not even realize how many itemized tax deductions that you have, and simply assume the standard deduction is the best choice. Review the instructions for Schedule A and IRS Publication 529, "Miscellaneous Deductions" to see all the options available to you. Do not forget about "above-the-line" deductions like educator expenses and health savings account (HSA) deductions. You can take those deductions whether you itemize or not. 4. Max Out Your Retirement Contributions – Even though it is now 2017, you can still make contributions to your IRA until the tax-filing deadline in April and credit those contributions to your 2016 taxes — as long as your contributions for the year stay within the $5,500 limit ($6,500 if you are over fifty years old). Schedule your retirement contributions in a way that brings you the greatest tax advantage. 5. Consider Tax-Preparation Software – Do you prefer to file your own taxes? You may want to consider tax preparation software to see if it can help you avoid potential errors and identify other sources of deductions. Software is available in a wide range of capacities that can match the complexity of your tax situation, and prices are generally reasonable. If you made below $64,000 last year, you can prepare your taxes for free using the Free File tax preparation software available on the IRS website. 6. Seek Professional Assistance – Complex tax situations are best left to the professionals. You may be able to do your own taxes adequately, but a competent tax professional may be able to find you enough refunds to pay for their services and then some — and even if they cannot, you can enjoy greater peace of mind by not having to struggle through the tax forms yourself. Research a tax professional carefully, and do not just choose one based on advertising (certainly not on promises of the highest refunds). Check their certifications, experience, and online reviews of their services. Note that lawyers and accountants may be qualified to sign tax returns without having any experience in doing so. What's that smell? It is the sweet smell of successful preparation for tax day. That sure beats dealing with hangovers, or starting your new life in Central America. Need to file your taxes? Check out this site. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ideabug

Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/how-to-maximize-your-tax-refund

Do You Qualify For An Earned Income Tax Credit?

Many Do Not Claim Their Tax Refunds Each Year

5 Tax Breaks For The Young

Six Steps To Maximize Your Tax Refund

MoneyTips

Does your preparation for tax day start with a trip to the liquor store, or perhaps a one-way ticket to Costa Rica? Taxes are unpleasant, but drinking or fleeing the country is not the answer. Tackle your taxes head-on with solid preparation, and the experience may turn out to be more pleasant than you thought it would be. Here are a few tips to help you with your tax preparation and increase your chances of getting the biggest refund you deserve. 1. Start Immediately – Procrastination is just going to make things worse. Pressure will increase as tax-filing day draws nearer, and it is more likely that you will have problems finding vital paperwork or will make mistakes filling out your form. Get started on your taxes as early as you can and gather some positive momentum. 2. Organize Your Paperwork – Hopefully you have been storing and organizing important tax documents and necessary receipts throughout the year — but if so, you p...

How I Ditched Debt: Well Kept Wallet

A Home Equity Loan Is a Smart Choice as Rates Rise

In recent years, home equity loans have gone the way of boy bands. So last-century. In an era of low interest rates, home equity lines of credit and cash-out refinances have been the equity-tapping products of choice.

Home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, have been popular because they usually are built with low introductory rates, which have been scraping the bottom. Cash-out refis have been sought because with mortgage rates at a historical floor, millions of homeowners have been refinancing to lower their rates and tap the equity in their homes.

Plain-and-simple home equity loans, with the security of a locked-in interest rate that never changes, have been yesterday’s news. But as the economy improves and interest rates rebound, you may have to go throwback if you want to access some of your home value.

Regulation stalled home equity loans

At least some of the blame for the missing home equity loans can be placed on regulation. Dodd-Frank, the wide-ranging financial reform act instituted in 2010, mandated that lenders revise statements and disclosures for home equity loans, but not for HELOCs.

It required lenders to implement extensive system changes, and as a result, some companies decided to eliminate home equity loan products. Besides, low interest rates and rising home values kept lenders busy with refinance demand and HELOCs. Banks and borrowers had no interest in the additional paperwork required on home equity loans.

Rising interest rates may change demand

Mortgage rates were under 4% for all but two months for 2015 and 2016, according to Freddie Mac. But the sun appears to be setting on the sub-4% mortgage rate.

Logan Pichel, head of consumer lending for Regions Bank, believes that as rates rise, more people may back down from a move-up mentality. He says homeowners in 2017 and beyond may consider remodeling their existing house — with its already low mortgage rate — instead of buying a bigger home at a higher interest rate.

In that scenario, a home equity loan may be the right solution.

Pichel predicts many homeowners will say, “I am not going to move up into the next bigger house because I’m sitting here today on a 3 1/2% mortgage rate, and if I were to sell my home and go buy another one, I now have a 4 1/2% mortgage rate.” A home equity loan would allow those homeowners to upgrade a kitchen, add a bedroom or build an outdoor living area, for example.

And with rates expected to climb in the months ahead, the relative advantage of a HELOC with a low introductory rate is not as clear because it’s likely to increase when periodic rate resets kick in.

“Our opinion is, we’re going to see fewer move-up buyers and we’re going to see more home equity business as a result of the increase in interest rates,” Pichel says.

Johnna Camarillo, manager of equity lending at Navy Federal Credit Union, agrees.

“I think we’re going to see a shift back to fixed equity loans,” Camarillo says. “Our members tend to be more fiscally conservative, and so they like the security of knowing that ‘my payment is always going to be X number of dollars.’ Especially if they already know that they’ve got a specific purpose for their loan.”

» MORE: Check mortgage rates now.

Fix it and forget it

After that decision, Pichel says, the next move is to choose between a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit. HELOCs usually begin with a slightly lower rate than fixed-rate home equity loans.

But HELOC rates are commonly adjustable and subject to the ups and downs of short-term interest rates, at least at the beginning. Many lenders allow borrowers to carve out a portion of their balance owed and put it into a fixed-rate loan.

“As you see an increase in interest rates, you’ll have a set of individuals that will say, ‘You know what, I’m going to lock in at a fixed rate,’ ” he says.

And some customers, Pichel says, appreciate the discipline of a fixed-rate loan for reasons including:

  • They know exactly what their monthly payment will be, which helps with budgeting.
  • Tapping home equity with a lump sum rather than through a line of credit removes the temptation to pay down and then draw money from the line again.
  • With a set number of payments, borrowers knows their payoff date.

Some customers like knowing the exact numbers. Navy Federal’s Camarillo says there’s a comfort level with knowing the specific amount you’ll owe, how long it will take to pay the loan off and what your payment will be each month.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

It’s OK to Spend Money on Yourself — Really

 

People who spend too much outnumber, by far, those who spend too little. But the methods that therapists and financial planners use to help “underspenders” can guide the rest of us about when it’s OK to splurge and when we should resist.

Chronic underspenders can be so terrified about running out of money that they put off health care, ignore needed home repairs or descend into hoarding, says financial planner Rick Kahler of Rapid City, South Dakota. Framing certain expenditures as an investment and creating a plan that helps them see how much money they can spend without causing financial ruin can ease their distress, he says.

“‘Spend’ is not a good word to a frugal person,” says Kahler, author of “Conscious Finance: Uncover Your Hidden Money Beliefs and Transform the Role of Money in Your Life.” “It connotes waste.”

Planning also helps those who are trying to handle money better by paying off debt, building savings and investing for retirement. High-quality experiences or purchases that give lasting pleasure can stave off burnout and “frugal fatigue” that might otherwise cause people to abandon their money goals.

Here’s how to walk the line:

Have a budget

You don’t want to splurge one month and wind up short on rent the next. A budget helps you find out where your money is going now and what upcoming bills you need to cover. Your just-for-fun spending will come out of the income that’s not already spoken for.

Decide how to invest in yourself

Experiences tend to give us more lasting pleasure than things, but the right purchases also can be an investment in happiness. If you’re learning to play music, for example, upgrading your instrument can contribute to your well-being every time you lay hands on it. If you feel guilty spending on pleasurable things, you may need some practice.

Psychologist and financial planner Brad Klontz of Lihue, Hawaii, tells his workaholic clients to get massages so they can be exposed to what it feels like to indulge.

Don’t wait until you’ve ‘arrived’

Paying off credit card debt and building emergency savings can take years. Investing enough for retirement will take decades. And you only live once. As long as you’re on track with your goals, you should be able to afford the occasional splurge.

What does it mean to be on track? Generally, it means that you’re saving enough to replace roughly 70 percent of your income in retirement and that you’re scheduled to pay off all your toxic debt, such as credit cards and payday loans, within the next five years, while making all required payments on any mortgages, auto loans and student loans.

If you’re not on track, your splurges should be on the smaller side until you’ve got a better handle on your money. Not sure? Consider a consultation with a fee-only financial planner who can give you an objective assessment, says Klontz, co-author of “Mind over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health.”

Save the full amount before you spend on fun

This one habit can stave off a world of regret. If it helps, you can set up a dedicated savings account. Online banks and some credit unions let you set up multiple savings sub-accounts that you can name, so you can have ones for “vacations,” “guitar,” “new wardrobe” or whatever else you desire.

Use financing carefully

Even if you know better than to finance the fun stuff, you can find yourself overspending when borrowing for big purchases such as cars or homes. Borrowed money feels less real than cash in your wallet, so you may be more tempted to spend on luxury add-ons. You wouldn’t pay $2,000 cash for a DVD player, for example, yet people often shell out that much for “rear-seat entertainment systems.”

One way to make sure you can really afford what you’re buying is to first stick to conservative loans, which means a fixed-rate mortgage that lasts 30 years or less, or an auto loan that lasts four years or less. Then add the expected payment to all your current “must have” expenses: shelter, food, utilities, transportation, insurance, child care and other minimum loan payments. If the expected total is 50 percent or less of your after-tax income, you can probably afford the new payment.

If you continue to struggle with a fear of spending, both Klontz and Kahler recommend taking those anxieties to a therapist.

“It’s always emotional and rooted in some past wounding or unfinished business,” Kahler says. “We need to examine the baggage that keeps us stuck in those feelings.”

Liz Weston is a certified financial planner and columnist at NerdWallet, a personal finance website, and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

 

4 Credit Card Trends for 2017 and What They Mean for You

In 2016, high-end credit cards attracted a lot of attention with generous rewards and perks. But this year, issuers are going back to basics — and perhaps charging you more in the process. Here are four credit card industry trends taking shape for 2017.

1. More bread-and-butter rewards

Instead of aspirational rewards, such as free hotel stays and airline flights, issuers will focus more on “bread-and-butter rewards” this year, such as cash back, says David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.

“In 2017, we’ll see much more offers aimed at people in the middle class,” Robertson says. “All the big issuers have already committed themselves to their upscale programs. They have nowhere to go but down.”

The upshot: Keep an eye out for improved cash-back offers from issuers. More competition on this front is great news, especially if you spend more at the grocery store than on first-class flights.

2. Higher interest rates

If you missed the news about the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in December, don’t worry — we’ll relive that moment soon enough.

Recent projections by the Fed suggest that interest rates could rise by three-quarters of a percentage point this year. That means credit card debt could soon become more expensive, potentially costing you hundreds of dollars in additional interest over the next five years.

The upshot: When you pay your balance in full each month, you never have to pay interest. But if you do have credit card debt, move it to a card with a 0% balance transfer annual percentage rate, if you can qualify for one, and pay it down interest-free.

3. A growing subprime market

In 2016, the percentage of credit card accounts held by consumers with subprime credit reached its highest level since 2010, according to credit bureau TransUnion. But this doesn’t suggest a return to the days of easy credit, when it seemed even house cats could prequalify for cards with $20,000 limits.

“The credit card issuers are really very diligent about managing their risk and how much credit they’re providing on an account basis,” says Paul Siegfried, senior vice president of financial services at TransUnion. Delinquencies are staying relatively low.

The upshot: If you have bad credit, now’s a good time to get a secured credit card and start rebuilding your score. It might be easier to get started than it was in the past.

4. Smoother transactions

About three-quarters of people who owned a smartphone and had a checking account or debit card said they had used a mobile device to make at least one purchase or other type of payment in the past 12 months, according to a 2016 study by First Annapolis Consulting. On top of that, issuers are offering cardholders more ways to make purchases and redeem rewards directly with merchants online and through apps.

“We’ll be making new payments we wouldn’t have made before,” Robertson says of these frictionless payments.

The upshot: If you’re taking advantage of these faster payments, guard against overspending by sticking to a weekly spending limit. Don’t let convenience come between you and your budget.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

Zima is ready to make a comeback

For those waxing nostalgic for the 1990s, a clear blast from the past may reappear soon at bars and on store shelves.

MillerCoors will bring back Zima this year, according to a Crain’s report.

The clear malt beverage debuted in 1993 and was a popular fixture of the nightclub scene, but sales declined over time, and the company discontinued Zima production in the U.S. in 2008.

>> Read more trending stories

"If you're one of the zillion fans who have missed Zima, the answer should be clear," MillerCoors said in a statement.” It is unclear when Zima will return, but it is expected to be sometime in 2017.

Zima is a clear, citrus-flavored beverage with a 4.7 percent alcohol-by-volume level.  Its advertising slogan at the time of its 1990s debut was, "Zomething different.” Because of the recent success of hard lemonades and hard soda beverages, MillerCoors believes that Zima may enjoy a second run at success.

Zima never totally went out of style. It continues to be popular in Japan.

Mortgage Rates Friday, Feb. 17: Steep Drop; Building Permits Up

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates plunged 11 basis points today, while 15-year fixed loans and 5/1 ARMs dropped by four and three basis points, respectively, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders Friday morning.

The sharp drop in mortgage rates is a sign that investors are losing some confidence about economic growth in 2017, says Michael Fratantoni, chief economist and senior vice president of research and industry technology with the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MORTGAGE RATES TODAY, Friday, FEB. 17

(Change from 2/16) 30-year fixed: 4.34% APR (–0.11) 15-year fixed: 3.71% APR (–0.04) 5/1 ARM: 3.80% APR (–0.03)

Get personalized mortgage rates

 

After the election, mortgage rates rose by 75 basis points on expectations of faster economic growth and somewhat higher inflation, Fratantoni tells NerdWallet. Those expectations drove increases in both the Treasury and mortgage rates, he said.  Since then, rates have stayed in a narrow range between 4% and 4.3% for 30-year fixed loans, he adds.

“Within the last week, we’re hearing more commentary from investors that they’re less confident in items like tax reform and infrastructure moving as quickly as they thought, so they’re pulling back a little bit,” Fratantoni says. “Overall, we’ll see a pullback in the stock market and the trends in mortgage rates.”

It’s unlikely the drop in rates will spur much refinance activity among homeowners, he adds, because many of them refinanced when rates were below 4%. On the purchase side, rates have less of an impact on the decision to buy, which is more dependent on consumers’ confidence in their own economic reality, housing conditions, and signs in the job market, than rate fluctuations, Fratantoni says.

Housing starts dip; building permits up in January Housing starts began the year with little change; however, building permits increased, which is good news for markets with tight inventories, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Privately owned housing starts dipped 2.6% to 1.25 million in January, from 1.28 million in December, according to a joint press release from the Census Bureau and HUD. In comparison with a year ago, housing starts were up 10.5% from the January 2016 rate of 1.13 million.  Furthermore, building permits also rose month-over-month by 4.6% in January and 8.2% year-over-year, signaling that homebuilders are “[hitting] the ground running in 2017,” wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist with Trulia, in a blog post Thursday. “The big uptick in permits should be good news for inventory-constrained home buyers, as permits eventually become starts, which in turn become new homes for sale,” McLaughlin wrote. “As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a strong increase in starts in mid-2017.” » MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here. NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay. Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dkearns@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @debbie_kearns. Mortgage Rate Newsletter Get daily mortgage rate updates delivered straight to your inbox! * Sign me up Should be Empty:

Ask Brianna: How Can I Stay on Budget and Still Hang Out?

“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

This week’s question:

I don’t have a lot of spare money, but I still want to socialize and travel. How can I live within my means without becoming the annoying broke friend?

First, take a breath. You will not lose friends — real friends, at least — because you can’t swing a girls’ trip to New Orleans this year. You also might want to remember that appearances can be deceiving. Your buddies may go to happy hour three times a week, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to.

Take one measure, student loan debt, for example: About 7 in 10 graduates of public and nonprofit colleges left school with debt in 2015, according to The Institute for College Access & Success, at an average of $30,100 per student. You may feel alone and broke, but in reality, you’re in good company.

“The people that you think are having these great lives on Facebook and Instagram, they’ve probably got student loan debt,” says Ben Graney, an actor and writer who co-founded the Artists Financial Support Group in New York. “They’re probably feeling the same anxiety and the same fears,” he says — they’re just not showing it.

Instead of hiding away in shame or constantly complaining about your rock-bottom bank balance, use these strategies to budget — and socialize — with confidence and control.

First, make a basic budget

Whether you’re in grad school, stuck with massive student loans or living on an artist’s erratic income, the first step is to own where you stand financially. But to do so, you need insight. A budget helps you determine where your money is going and where you want it to go. Without one, you may have only a vague sense that you should limit your spending, using scary clues like a maxed-out credit card or late rent payments.

To create a basic budget, you don’t need to catalog all of your expenses or commit to using an expense-tracking app — unless you want to, of course.

“Budgeting is not about perfection. It’s about creating awareness,” says Matt Cosgriff, a certified financial planner at financial advisory firm Lifewise in Minneapolis.

Look at your bank account and write down your take-home pay from last month. Subtract your fixed monthly costs: rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, debt payments (including credit cards) and transportation. Aim to save 10% to 20% of any remaining amount for emergencies and retirement. The rest is for fun or other long-term goals.

If your fixed costs take up all, or nearly all, of your income, look for ways to free up cash. You can lower federal student loan payments with an income-driven repayment plan, hunt for cheaper car insurance or cancel subscriptions you don’t need.

Transparency is the best policy

Deciding to stick to a budget might put you in a different financial position from that of your friends or family. Tell them.

You don’t have to craft a sob story to win their sympathy; instead, clearly and honestly share your current priorities. Let them know whether your strict spending plans are short- or long-term so they’ll know whether to keep inviting you to those pricey concerts.

And instead of turning down invitations, turn them around. You could say, “Theater tickets are beyond my budget right now. But I’d love to get together. Let’s go to free-admission day at the museum and pack a lunch to eat in the park.”

Plan (very far) ahead

These changes may feel small at first, but in time you’ll see a difference in your checking account — especially when you sock away manageable amounts for expenses or events on the horizon.

Even though Graney earns an irregular income as an actor, last year he saved an attainable $20 a month for holiday gifts. By December, he had $240 to spend on friends and family, and he didn’t have to take on credit card debt.

You can do the same for that trip to New Orleans. Pre-empt your most organized friend by suggesting a date far in advance and scouring flight deals. Living frugally doesn’t mean avoiding your social circle; it means taking on a more proactive and creative role.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

This column was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Refinance 101

MoneyTips

Are you considering refinancing your home? You may want to act before interest rates rise. The refinancing plan that's right for you and your family depends on your current financial situation. Is your home underwater (that is, you owe more on your home than it is currently worth) and you need to secure a lower monthly mortgage payment to avoid foreclosure? Are you in a stable situation, but want to take advantage of lower interest rates? If so, generally a .5 to .625 (1/2 to 5/8) of a percentage point lower interest rate recoups most of the refi costs. Would you simply like to shorten the term of your loan to pay it off faster? "Rate isn't the only indicator of when it's a good time to refinance," explains Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com. "There are also other instances, changes in your life circumstances - maybe you got divorced; maybe your family is growing; or you have to add an in-law suite, in which case you may be looking at doing what's called 'cash-out refinancing': you refinance and borrow a little bit more money to pay for whatever upgrades are needed to the home." Regardless of the path you choose, the steps involved to refinance your home are similar to the steps you took when first buying your home. First, there will be an assessment of your ability to repay the loan. This will involve a credit check, and an evaluation of your outstanding debts and assets, so take these into consideration. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. Generally, there will be an appraisal of your property, a home inspection, title search, and a survey —all items that add up to extra costs on the front end. An estimate of your refinancing costs include: Application Fee: $100-$300 Loan Origination Fee: Up to 1.5% of principal Points (up-front money to reduce interest rate): 0-3% of principal Home Appraisal: $400-$800 Home Inspection: $200-$350 Attorney/closing fees: $500-$1000 Homeowner's Insurance (if required): $300-$1000 Title Search: $700-$1,000 Survey: $150-$400 This doesn't consider any prepayment penalties on the existing mortgage or fees for any federally backed assistance programs such as FHA or VA loans. Once all costs are factored in, a typical refinance cost is about 3-6% of the principal. So-called "no-cost refinancing" still has costs — they are either rolled into the principal, or the lender agrees to pay them upfront for an increase in the interest rate. With all these costs, why bother? Because, in the long run, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by switching from a fixed-rate loan to an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or vice versa. Changing the duration of the loan can also save you money. Consider the following: dropping a fixed rate from 6% to 5.5% on a $200,000 loan will lower your monthly payment (principal and interest) from $1,199 to $1,136 per month. Over one year, you will save $756, or $11,340 over 15 years, or $22,680 over 30 years. If you can handle higher payments, shortening the duration of the loan has an even more dramatic effect. That same fixed 30-year, $200,000 loan has a total of more than $231,000 in interest costs over the 30-year life of the loan. If adjusted to a 15-year rate at 5.5%, the total interest drops to around $94,000. What kind of rate should you seek? Current fixed rates are at historical lows and are hard to beat, but you may want to consider an ARM for an even lower rate if you know you will not be staying in a house for very long (or can find affordable refinancing before the adjustment period of the ARM kicks in). Make sure to compare the annual percentage rate (APR) with the interest rate. The APR takes into account other costs. A large difference may mean excessive fees or unusual rate adjustment assumptions. Check with your lender and make sure you understand the implications. If your home is underwater, you may consider the government's HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program). If you have kept up with payments and meet certain qualifications, you can refinance for more than the value of your home. Refinancing your home can cost thousands of dollars, so do your homework. It can also save you thousands of dollars in the end. MoneyTips is happy to help you get free refinance quotes from top lenders. Photo ©iStockphoto.com/cacaroot

Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/refinance-101

How To Prepare For Refinancing Your Home

How to Refinance With a Low Appraisal

The Home Appraisal Process

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