Money Monday - Keep Holiday Debt In Control

Mon, Jan 14th, 2019

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) - The holiday season is filled with music and celebration, but all that Christmas cheer comes with a price.

According to a survey from Deloitte, Americans were expected to spend more than $1.1 trillion on holiday gifts in 2018. 

A lot of that money, about $1,000 per credit card holder, would become credit card debt. 

Siouxland resident Roni Burns said she avoided the debt this year. 

"We cut down this year. We drew names for adults and just bought for the children," said Burns.

Lori Scott is a certified credit counselor. She helps people deal with debt. 

"You want to take a look at what your normal monthly expenses are and then take a look at how you can pay down some of that credit card debt," said Scott.

Those monthly expenses include rent, car payments, utilities, even groceries.

"Put your credit cards in a list from lowest balance to highest and just try putting extra each month towards the lowest balance to try to get that paid sooner," said Scott. 

Burns tries to avoid having to manage those debts.

"Fortunately I never get that much on mine, and no one should because it's too hard to pay back," said Burns.  

If managing your credit card debt becomes overwhelming and you need a little help, Consumer Credit Counseling is a free service. Click here or on the photo to see the KCAU 9 video which shows Center For Siouxland's Financial Counselor, Lori Scott talking about credit card debt.  Call 712-252-1861 ext. 47 for more information on how WE CAN HELP!   

Money Monday - Standard Deduction Rates Have Almost Doubled

Mon, Jan 7th, 2019

Here are some facts about the Standard Deduction for 2018:

  • What is it? The amount of income AFTER which you pay taxes.

  • 70% took it last year 

  • 90% expected to take it this year

  • Rates have almost doubled for 2018 
  • Single or married & filing separately: $12,000 

  • Married filing jointly: $24,000 

  • $18,000 for heads of household

  • Goes up again in 2019!

Not certain whether to itemize or take the Standard Deduction? Quick math calculation:  Add up mortgage interest, property taxes, state income taxes or sales taxes, and charitable donations. If those exceed the Standard Deduction, Itemize. If not, use the Standard Deduction.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook so you'll be one of the first to know when Center For Siouxland's VITA program starts taking tax appointments for FREE tax preparation!

 

Center For Siouxland's VITA Program Needs Volunteers!

Mon, Dec 31st, 2018

Center For Siouxland's VITA Program is seeking volunteers for the upcoming tax season.  Center For Siouxland is a non-profit human service agency that has partnered with the United Way and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program to provide FREE basic income tax preparation and e-filing for low to moderate income individuals and their families in the tri-state area.  This program is not possible without the help of dedicated volunteers from the Siouxland community.  We are seeking Tax Preparers, Schedulers, Greeters and Quality Reviewers.  No prior experience is necessary.  Training is provided and is IRS Certified!

Information about the different volunteer positions and the training involved is available by calling VITA Coordinator, Lori Scott, at 712-252-1861 ext. 29 or e-mail her at lori.scott@centerforsiouxland.org.

Money Monday - New Year's Resolutions

Mon, Dec 31st, 2018

Center For Siouxland wishes you a happy and financially fit 2019!  It’s that time of year when people make resolutions with the intent of improving their lives. According to Statistic Brain, nearly half of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution. Of those resolutions, 34% will be money related. For those that make a resolution, less than half will stick with it longer than six months.

There are no quick fixes for changing money habits. So how can we make resolutions that we can stick with? By setting clear and measurable goals, breaking the main goal into smaller steps to achieve over time, and making a concentrated effort to achieve the goal.

Here is an example of how to set a goal that will last:

Goal: I am going to save $1200 in my emergency fund this year.

            Step 1: Commit to saving $100 per month or $50 per paycheck (every 2 weeks)

            Step 2: Set up direct deposit to a savings account for each paycheck

            Step 3: Monitor savings account online to stay focused  

            Step 4: Leave the money alone. Remember this is an emergency fund and should only be used in an emergency. 

Whether or not you set a resolution, you can start fresh now. Set a goal with specific, measurable steps and you can achieve it.  And don’t forget about your tax refund. A tax refund is a great way to give your emergency savings a boost.

If you need assistance with setting savings goals or creating a spending plan, contact Center For Siouxland’s Consumer Credit Counselors at 712-252-1861 ext. 47. You can also find and like us on Facebook.

 

Money Monday - Some Fun Money Facts from Classic Christmas Movies

Mon, Dec 24th, 2018

Do you know It’s a Wonderful Life was a box office failure? Or how much money Will Farrell turned down to star in Elf 2? Here are some money numbers related to popular Christmas movies.

$500,000: Brian Jones spent $500,000 to buy and restore the Cleveland-area house used in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Jones, a huge fan of the film, paid $150,000 on eBay and then spent a year and $350,000 renovating the home to match its movie look. He even turned the property next door into a gift shop and museum before reopening it as a tourist attraction in 2006. Now that’s Christmas spirit!

$3.3 millionIt’s a Wonderful Life grossed $3.3 million during its movie theater run from 1946 to 1947. That’s pretty good until you realize the film cost $3.7 million to make.  Despite its five Academy Award nominations and its beloved status in Christmas cinema history, the movie wasn’t profitable at the time. It just goes to show appearances can be deceiving—sort of like your neighbors who look rich but are broke.

$32,000: In 2014 dollars, the fictional McCallister family from Home Alone spends roughly $32,000 on plane tickets. Here’s how we figure it: They fly from Chicago to Paris with four adults in first class totaling $16,344. Then there’s the 11 kids in coach—plus Kevin’s unused ticket. That adds $15,692. Let’s just hope they didn’t use plastic. Imagine paying 19% interest on that!

$177: Clark Griswold’s disappointing Jelly of the Month Club Christmas bonus is worth about $177 in the 1989 comedy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. He gets pretty angry hearing he’s not getting cash, especially since he’s already paid in advance for an in-ground swimming pool! Luckily, crazy cousin Eddie convinces the stingy boss to be more generous. Take it as a lesson: never spend money you don’t have.

$29 million: Who would turn down a $29 million paycheck? Will Ferrell, that’s who! The former Saturday Night Live comedian stars as the title character in the 2003 box office hit Elf. But Ferrell turned down a ton of cash to make the sequel. He must’ve really not wanted to wear those tights again. But for that kind of money, most of us would!

$190 million: Disney’s 2009 animated version of A Christmas Carol cost $190 million. That makes it the most expensive holiday movie ever made. In fact, it’s almost five times the cost of It’s a Wonderful LifeElfMiracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Story combined!

Whether on-screen or off, money is a big part of the holidays. So be smart with your cash. Don’t have a swimming-pool lifestyle on a jelly-of-the-month-club budget!

Need help creating or sticking to a budget? Call Center For Siouxland at 712-252-1861 ext. 47.  WE CAN HELP.  Happy Holidays!

 

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