The American Nightmare: Student Loans

The American Dream has been defined as “the belief that with hard work and the freedom to pursue your destiny, you can achieve success and provide better opportunities for yourself and your children.” A 2014 USA Today article states that the price tag for the American dream is around $130,000/year.  What if we don’t make that sum of money?  Many …

Alternatives to Cable TV

With cable TV bills close to $200 or more, it’s time for some questions. Is it worth $200? What am I getting for $200? Is there a better entertainment option? Can I save money? [Here are the answers: NO, Not much, Yes, Yes.]   And here are some great options: Digital antenna for local channels – These are a one-time …

5 Financial Best Practices (You Should Begin Today)

There are certainly a lot of bad habits surrounding money in our culture.  76% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent Bankrate.com survey.  Perhaps lower salaries or loss of income is to blame, but how much less would the impact be if the American public would adhere to a few “best practices” surrounding money. Here …

Are you financially proactive?

Steven Covey, in his best seller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People writes that the in order to be effective, you must “Be Proactive.”     Don’t blame others for your behavior.  Instead, focus your time and energy on things you can control. In counseling, the proactive coping approach denotes behaviors in which one will prepare for an event that may or …

What Financial Health Means to Me

What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you hear the word “budget?” Restricted. Cut. Limit. Ugh. I mean, budgets are made to restrict my spending, cut certain expenses completely, and severely limit other spending areas, right? Like the word BUDGET, the word DIET also has a negative connotation. In fact, now many health gurus and nutritionists use …

How to Handle Medical Bills

When a recent client was about to undergo a surgical procedure, she called the doctor’s office to ask how much she would need to pay.  The doctor’s office could not give her an answer but told her to call the insurance company for that information.   She talked to several different representatives at the insurance company, and they all gave her …

Protesting Property Taxes, Part 3 — Arbitration

If you do your homework beforehand, success at the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) is possible. However, don’t be surprised if the ARB just “rubber stamps” the CAD’s value, giving little consideration to your arguments. In many cases, these ARBs in recent years have unfortunately become kangaroo courts for the CADs to keep the values high.  Further, the ARBs will be …

Protesting Your Taxes, Part 2

If your online protest is unsuccessful, you will want to schedule an in-person Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing, In preparation for this meeting, you need to prepare the following: Comparable sales in the last 12 months of properties in your immediate neighborhood that are similar to your own.  Find a Realtor® who can give you a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) …

Protesting Property Taxes STEP BY STEP

It’s that time of year again!  You may be getting an estimated property tax statement by mail, typically before May 1st.  If you’re like the vast majority of homeowners in the greater Houston area, your property values as assessed by the local appraisal district have gone up—way up! STEP ONE:  Your first step is to complete an online protest.  You …

Three Commonly Missed Tax Deductions

Tax season is upon us. Again. Here are three commonly missed tax deductions: 1. State Sales Tax – Even if you file on Turbo Tax (TT), this deduction is not one of the first listed. Be aware that you may have to search TT for this deduction which is based on your state’s sales tax rate. It was well worth …