When is Bankruptcy a Good Option?

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1,376,006.

That’s the number of bankruptcy filings in the United States (according to US Courts) for the 12 month period that ended March 31, 2012 – the most recent 12 month period for which statistics are available.

Obviously, if you are filing for bankruptcy you have plenty of company.

But when is bankruptcy a good option?

Bankruptcy has become so common, that is no longer carries the stigma it once did.  In there are folks out there that think ‘YOLO, I’ll just declare bankruptcy if it gets bad.’   That doesn’t mean you should file for bankruptcy or that it doesn’t come with risks.

The Cost of Bankruptcy

When I talk about the cost of bankruptcy, I’m not talking about attorney fees or court filing fees – what I’m referring to is the effect it will have upon your life.

That will be much more expensive than a couple thousand dollars you will pay for the bankruptcy procedure itself.

Before filing for bankruptcy, consider the impact it will have on your life… Continue Reading

The Best Prepaid Debit Cards 2014

credit card on computer keyboard

As banks add more fees, and as it becomes difficult for some consumers to obtain accounts at some of the big banks, prepaid debit cards are becoming popular.

Prepaid debt cards look a lot like “regular” debit and credit cards, sporting the logos of major payment processors like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.  You can use them anywhere major credit cards are accepted, so it makes them convenient.

However, no matter how much like a credit card a prepaid debit card is, it’s important to understand the difference.

Credit Card vs. Prepaid Debit Card

With a credit card, you are borrowing money up to a certain limit.  You use the money first, and then repay it later.  Additionally, if you carry a balance, you end up paying interest on that balance.

A prepaid debit card functions differently.
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Five Ways Fantasy Baseball is Like Personal Finance

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I had my draft for my fantasy baseball league I’m in earlier this week.

I’ve been in the league with these particular guys now for over ten years.  It’s not a money league but we’re real competitive nonetheless.

I gotta say I’m real excited!  Real baseball starting soon (go Mets!!) and I love following baseball along-side my fantasy league.

As I was going through all of my work for the draft I realized that fantasy baseball is a lot like personal finance.  We could probably learn a thing or two about personal finance from fantasy baseball.

Without further ado here are five ways fantasy baseball is like personal finance:

Fantasy baseball and personal finance

Research

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What You Must Consider Before Opening a Brokerage Account

Picking stocks

Shopping for a brokerage account is very unlike choosing a bank.

People often choose a bank based primarily on a convenient location.  Since banks are tightly regulated, and all provide essentially the same services, convenience can be the deciding factor.

There’s a lot more to consider when opening a brokerage account however, since the transactions you enter into with investments will be both more complicated and more diverse.

Consider the Following When Opening a Brokerage Account

Investment choices

How important investment choice is to you will depend on what you intend to do with the account.

For the most part, you’ll want a brokerage account that has the widest investment choices available.  That will include stocks – both foreign and domestic – mutual funds, ETF’s, options, REITs, bonds and other debt securities, and even commodities.  You’ll also want the investment choices within each asset class to also be as wide as possible.

But if you plan to maintain the account for a very specific purpose, you may be more interested in a specialized account.
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TurboTax Online Federal Giveaway

The tax filing due date is quickly approaching!  Have you done your taxes yet?

If you haven’t then I’m here to help.


TurboTax - Choose Easy
The kind folks at Intuit (TurboTax’s parent company) have given me a promotional code for one TurboTax Online Federal Filing product, up to a $100 value.  I’d like to pass that on to a loyal Free From Broke reader.

When I first started doing my taxes I did them myself by hand.  It wasn’t so difficult since there wasn’t a lot going on with my income but it was time consuming nonetheless.

Then I started using TurboTax.  It was immediately so much easier to get my taxes done!  Take a look at our TurboTax Online review for more information on the different TurboTax products.

TurboTax Online Giveaway

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What is Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and How Does it Affect Your Taxes

We toss different terms around to describe our incomes, one of which is adjusted gross income, but what exactly is adjusted gross income (AGI), and is it an accurate way to describe what we make?

What is Adjusted Gross Income?

In its simplest form, adjusted gross income, or “AGI”, is the broadest measure of income from all sources, but it’s also reduced by certain expenses. (This is where the term “adjusted” figures into AGI.)

Because the income reduced, and because certain income isn’t taxable, it’s not accurate to say that AGI describes total income in any way.

AGI isn’t really a general description of income so much as it’s a term specific to income taxes.

It’s your income as the Internal Revenue Service sees it and wants us to report it.  It is everything that is reported on page one of IRS Form 1040.

But even if it isn’t an objective measure of income, it still has major implications, at least as it relates to income taxes.

AGI summarizes all of your income sources

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Bad Credit? Rebuild it With These Secured Credit Card Offers

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One of the fastest ways to build up your credit is to use a credit card.

However, if you have little or no credit history, flat-out bad credit, or if you have a poor credit rating, it can be difficult to qualify for an unsecured credit card (unsecured means you don’t have to have any money put away as insurance, or collateral, for any purchases you make — it’s what most credit cards are).

Creditors have stepped up their lending standards, and you might not have such an easy time getting a credit card that isn’t secured by some type of asset.
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