6 Creative Considerations Before You File Your 2021 Tax Return This April

6 Creative Considerations Before You File Your 2021 Tax Return This April

Yep, it’s about that time—tax time, of course. 

The sun’s out a little longer, we shed a few layers, the first blooms of the season are on full display, and taxes are due smack dab in the middle of it all. This year, your 2021 taxes are due on April 18th, 2022.

But don’t let this impending annual chore dull your spring fever.

This year, let’s make taxes fun! Well, if not fun, at least creative. 

Given the many legislative changes we’ve experienced over the last year, there are a handful of unique considerations for your tax return. Let’s take a look.

1. Be Mindful of The New Standard Deduction 

Think about the standard deduction like “passing go” for itemizing. It represents the guaranteed amount you can deduct from your income. 

Suppose you have deductions, like mortgage interest, student loan interest, or charitable giving that exceed the standard amount. In that case, you can “pass go” and itemize those, removing even more from what the government “counts” as your taxable income for that year.

The IRS adjusts the standard deduction each year to account for inflation. Here are the numbers to know. 

2021 Standard Deduction:

  • Single, $12,550
  • Head of Household, $18,800
  • Married Filing Jointly, $25,100

You’ll use the 2021 numbers for your return this April. But the 2022 numbers are as follows.

2022 Standard Deduction:

  • Single, $12,950
  • Head of Household, $19,400
  • Married Filing Jointly, $25,900

It’s smart to keep these figures in mind as you consider additional deductions throughout the year. With the limits so high, many families can’t itemize every year. 

But there are ways to take advantage of the years where you can itemize, like bunching charitable donations, having higher than typical medical costs, being eligible for home office deductions, and more.

Keep an eye out for an opportunity to itemize, as it can save you a lot of money come tax time.

2. Know Which Expenses You Can Actually Deduct

When it comes to tax deductions, the possibilities may seem endless, but the reality of being able to claim them is far more complicated. Most credits and deductions come with income thresholds and other technicalities that eliminate your eligibility. 

Here are a few common deductions to consider. 

Mortgage interest 

There are three typical deductions homeowners may have heard of. Here’s a breakdown, including some rule changes you won’t want to miss.  

The mortgage interest on your home loan: If you bought your house after December 16, 2017, you can deduct the interest you paid on the first $750,000 of the loan. 

Qualifying mortgage insurance premiums: Did you put less than 20% down when buying your house? If so, chances are you have private mortgage insurance (PMI). The good news is that you can at least deduct those expenses if you itemize. However, as soon as your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) hits $100,000, your deductions phase-out, and once you hit $109,000, you can’t take the deduction at all. 

Home equity loan interest: If you took out a home equity loan to spruce up some rooms or re-do the backyard, you can’t claim a deduction on the interest you paid.

Student loan interest

There aren’t too many positives to student loans, but one pretty big plus is that you can deduct up to $2,500 in interest you pay on them. Plus, this is an above-the-line deduction, meaning you don’t have to itemize to take advantage of it.

But before you get too jazzed, there are income limits you’ll need to watch out for. 

  • You can claim the full deduction if your MAGI is under $70,000 filing single or $140,000 jointly.
  • If you’re between $70,000 and $85,000 ($170,000 respectively), your deductions phase out.
  • You can no longer take the deduction once you exceed $85,000 filing single or $170,000 married filing jointly.

Healthcare costs

Were your healthcare costs bananas over the last year? If so, you may be able to write them off on your tax return. The IRS permits you to deduct expenses that went over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. So, if your AGI was $100,000, you can deduct any medical expenses over $7,500. You do have to itemize to take this deduction.

Business Deductions

Yes, you’re a work-from-home boss. But unless you’re actually the boss, aka self-employed, you can’t take a home office deduction. 

If you are self-employed, you have several deductions at your disposal, like home-office set up, travel, business supplies, continuing education, contract labor, and more. 

3. Read IRS Letter 6475

Those monthly payments from the advanced child tax credit sure were nice, huh?

But if you received more than you’re technically eligible for, it’s time to pay the piper, so to speak. In January, the IRS began issuing Letter 6475, which essentially details all the stimulus money you received, or what they term your Economic Impact Payment (EIP) in 2021.

This letter concentrates on the third round of stimulus payments, which the government issued between March and December 2021, and any “plus-ups” (extra income based on your last tax return).

In essence, the government wants to make sure that the numbers you have are the ones they have and fix any discrepancies. 

There are a couple of possible outcomes. 

The IRS didn’t pay you enough, and you may be eligible to claim the recovery rebate credit. When would that happen? New parents, this one is for you! If you recently added a little bundle of joy into your life, you can claim the child as a qualifying dependent. 

The IRS paid you too much, and you have to settle the tab. A situation like this could happen where you receive more money than you’re eligible to claim, like in the advanced child tax credit payments.

This document will be super helpful when you file your taxes, so be sure to save a copy for yourself and your CPA/tax professional. If you misplace it, don’t sweat it. The IRS is keeping everything up to date in your online account.

4. Know If COVID-19 Legislation Could Impact Your Taxes

Yep, we’re still talking about the pandemic, and specific provisions could affect your 2021 tax return. Let’s take a look. 

  • Stimulus checks. Remember these payments? The ones you for sure used to invest, save, or pay down debt? The government sent a third round of stimulus checks, $1,400 for individuals and every qualifying dependent as part of the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021. Breathe a sigh of relief because this cash doesn’t count as income on your taxes—yay, free money!
  • Unemployment benefits. To help offer relief to the many people who found themselves out of work in 2020, the government made the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax-free, but that’s not the case for 2021. So, if you collected unemployment benefits and didn’t withhold taxes, you’ll have to pay the government back.
  • Charitable giving. Most of the time, you must itemize to see the tax benefits from charitable giving. But the CARES Act expanded the ability to deduct cash contributions even if you take the standard deduction. For your 2021 return, you can deduct up to $300 or $600 if married filing jointly in qualifying contributions.

5. Review Your Freelance Income

Did you bring in a lot of money via freelance work, a side-hustle, or a passive income stream? First, that’s awesome! Second, there are some tax details you won’t want to forget.

Collect Your Documents

Be sure you have all the 1099s from any job or service you performed. 

Pay Quarterly Taxes 

If you’re bringing in a decent amount of income, $400 or more, outside of your W-2 job, it may be wise to withhold and pay quarterly taxes because the IRS could slap you with an underpayment penalty come tax time.

Adjust Your Withholdings 

If your income jumped significantly, adjusting your withholdings is also a good idea. Withholding too much gives the government an interest-free loan on your money, and withholding too little may mean that you owe a lot when April rolls around. 

Reviewing this strategy is especially beneficial in dual-income households. In fact, if one spouse is a W-2 employee and the other is a freelancer, the W-2 employee can over withhold for their spouse with the contract, 1099 income. You can use this calculator from the IRS to help determine how much you should have your employer withhold for your federal income tax.

Look Into a SEP-IRA

You may be able to earn some money on the side, stash it away for retirement, and get a tax break if you’re eligible to invest in a SEP-IRA. With this plan, you can contribute up to 25% of your net earnings from self-employment income, like freelancing or teaching a summer class, up to $58,000 for 2021, and $61,000 for 2022. 

You can contribute to a SEP-IRA if you have a self-employed business, even if you participate in an employer’s retirement plan at another job. So, if your employer’s benefits aren’t all that great—no match, suspended benefits, etc.—you can look to contribute more to your SEP-IRA. Check with your CPA or financial planner to see if this could be an option for you!

Your taxes will likely be more complex when you have freelance or gig-work income. But that’s okay! Be sure to save your receipts, keep meticulous records, and pay your taxes on time.

6. Max Out Your 2021 Investment Accounts

While most deadlines for annual contributions are December 31, a few trickle into the new year. If you find yourself with some extra cash on your hands, here are a couple of excellent ways to use it. 

  • Invest in your HSA. You can still put funds into your 2021 HSA until April 18, 2022. As a reminder, the 2021 annual limits are $3,600 for self coverage and $7,200 for family coverage. (This number includes any employer contributions).
  • Fund your IRA. In 2021, you can contribute up to $6,000 in an IRA—traditional or Roth. You also have until April 18 to fully fund these accounts. You may decide to do a Backdoor Roth if you’re a good candidate.

Your contributions may lower your taxable income, like in the case of an HSA or deductible traditional IRA. Plus, they also support your future, giving the investments more time to grow and compound.

Wave Goodbye To 2021

The tax deadline to file your 2021 return is April 18, 2022. 

If you/your tax pro needs more time, you can file an extension until October 17, 2022. Keep in mind that if you owe money, you’ll still want to make a tax payment by April 18, 2022, because filing an extension doesn’t give you more time to pay your taxes, just more time to file them. The IRS doesn’t get happy when you don’t pay them back, leading to fees and penalties. So, even if you have to wait to file your return, be sure you pay what you owe by the deadline. 

Expecting a refund? Be sure to file your taxes earlier rather than later. The earlier you file, the sooner you’ll have access to your check. If you wait until the deadline, your refund may take longer than anticipated since millions of other people file simultaneously.

If you do get a refund, what should you do with it? While it may be tempting to hit the new spring clothing lines or treat yourself to a nice meal, there are some more financially savvy ways to make the most of that check, including,

  • Pay down (or off) high-interest rate debt, like a credit card
  • Replenish your emergency fund
  • Put a portion into your investments or brokerage account (aka, your “yes” fund)
  • Redirect some money to something fun like summer travel savings or upgrading your patio furniture.   

Now, you can turn your attention to this year’s financial hopes, possibilities, and opportunities. 

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10 Most Popular Theme Parks in California

10 Most Popular Theme Parks in California

With over 30 to choose from, you'll find more theme parks in California than in any other state. Since the Santa Clause theme park opened in Indiana in 1946, Americans have had a love affair with roller coasters and themed rides and are willing to pay for them.

According to Statista, $896 million was spent on constructing theme or amusement parks in the U.S in 201.

California's theme parks vary from movie sets to boardwalks and water parks. You'll find adrenaline-pumping rides for thrill seekers alongside less adventurous yet charmingly fun attractions that keep younger kids just as entertained.

Buckle up as we explore California's top 10 theme parks.

1: Disneyland in Anaheim

It's no surprise that Disneyland is the most popular theme park in California. Statista reports over 18 million people visited the park in 2019, making it one of the most popular in the world, second only to Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney's dream of building a family-friendly theme park came to life when it opened over 60 years ago with 18 attractions to amuse its visitors.

The Happiest Place on Earth has 58, including its newest attraction: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It has nine themed “lands” to choose from, including Mickey's Toontown, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Main Street, U.S.A.

Scattered throughout the park are more than a dozen rides with no height requirements that are a hit with tiny tots. What is the most popular ride at Disneyland park? It's a Small World holds that title, with more than 57,000 people catching a boat ride through the exhibit a day.

You'll need more than a day to experience Disneyland's theme park rides, shows, and exhibits. Planning your day before you arrive will ensure you see the main attractions.

Travel expert Sarah Gilliland from On the Road With Sarah shares this advice: “Know the difference between Genie, Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lane passes. Certain rides are available through a free stand-by queue, a one-time ‘skip the line' pass with Genie+, or a separately paid Individual Lightning Lane pass. Knowing which rides offer which will save you time and, potentially, quite a bit of money.”

Other Theme Parks in California

Although Disneyland sees more than twice the annual visitors as the next most popular theme park in the Golden State, there's plenty of reason to explore the others. Here are nine more California theme parks worth visiting.

2: Disney California Adventure Park in San Diego

California's second most visited theme park is directly across the main gate from Disneyland. According to Statista, almost 10 million people visited the park in 2019.

Although it's slightly smaller than its neighbor, it's possible to experience most of the attractions in one day. You'll need to plan for it, though, as some of the most popular rides can have over an hour wait times.

Soaring Over California will have your feet dangling and your heart pumping as you fly over the most memorable parts of California. Radiator Springs Racers will make you want to watch the hit Pixar movie Cars again as you race your opponents in life-sized cartoon cars.

And, if you're daring enough, hold on to your hat (or better yet, take it off) as you travel up to 55 miles per hour and reach a height of 122 feet on the Incredicoaster, the tallest roller coaster in all the Disney park locations.

Money Saving Tip: If you plan to visit both Disneyland Resort and California Adventure Park, you can purchase a park hopper ticket to access both parks on the same day. They're close enough to walk between the two, plus you can see fireworks one night and World of Color the next, no matter which park you spend most of the day in.

3: Universal Studios in Los Angeles

Universal Studios Hollywood works a cinematic twist into each of its twelve rides and two shows. With blockbuster movie-themed attractions such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic World – The Ride, you'll feel like you've stepped into the movie yourself, which accomplishes what this theme park strives to achieve.

Get tickets for the hour-long World-Famous Studio Tour early (price included in your admission) since it's the most popular attraction there. You'll get a behind-the-scenes look at famous movie sets, experience an earthquake, and face-to-face with King Kong in the world's largest, most intense 3-D experience.

Are you feeling extra brave? Ride The Revenge of the Mummy at Hollywood Studios, and you might think otherwise!

4: Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park

Knott's Berry Farm holds the title of California's oldest theme park. What started as a roadside berry stand now has 160 acres of world-class shows, rides, and attractions to entertain guests.

You'll find fun for the whole family with thrill rides like the Ghostrider, the west coast's fastest and tallest wooden roller coaster. Want to defy gravity? Hop on the Supreme Scream and take a record-breaking plunge 252 feet down in three seconds.

Youngsters will enjoy the kid-friendly attractions made especially for them in Camp Snoopy. Knott's Soak City is next to the farm if water rides are your thing.

5: Legoland in San Diego

When you visit Legoland California and discover more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions, everything is fantastic! Although this theme park is geared toward ages 2-12, kids of all ages will enjoy its variety.

Similar to Disney's Soaring Over California, Emmet's Flying Adventure Ride will take you soaring through the LEGO Movie Universe. Buckle into the giant Triple Decker Couch as it twists, turns, and dives through this LEGO adventure.

Next, climb aboard the LEGO Technic Coaster for the fastest ride in the park, with speeds up to 28 miles per hour and a 42-foot drop. With so many rides, you'll have to plan your strategy to make the most of your day.

Perhaps the most impressive feature at Legoland isn't even a ride. Miniland U.S.A. is a 1:20 scale model display of landmarks and scenes from around the world, made from millions of genuine Lego bricks. Be sure to save time to explore and be amazed at the detail in LEGOMiniland!

In addition to visiting Legoland, visitors can buy multi-theme park tickets that include the waterpark and Sea Life Aquarium.

6: Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia

Adrenaline junkies looking for their next rollercoaster fix will find it at Six Flag Magic Mountain. With 19 world-class coasters and over 100 rides, games, and attractions, this 260-acre theme park, “Thrill Capital of the World,” will take your breath away.

You can take the ride of your life on Goliath, a hyper coaster for those daring enough to face it. Be warned, though: you'll endure a 255-foot drop at 85 mph, one of the longest and fastest drops in the world. You'll also twist your way through a helix at a force over 4.5 G. You read that right. Goliath is a monster roller coaster!

You'll need a full day to experience most of what's offered at Six Flags Magic Mountain. You'll also need a lot of energy, but thrill-seekers will be fulfilled, if not dizzy.

7: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo

Southern California isn't the only place you'll find the best theme parks. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is your ticket to fun for mythical-themed thrill rides. And with more than 40 attractions, it's the perfect place for a family vacation in Northern California.

If being launched over 60 mph while twisting, turning, looping, and plummeting sounds fun, you'll have the time of your life riding the ten high-speed roller coasters at Discovery Kingdom.

The Medusa roller coaster features seven inversions and a 150-foot drop at 65 mph. If that's not enough of a thrill, head over to the Superman coaster to ride one of the tallest inversions in the world.

Younger kids will enjoy rides created just for them, and the whole family can get in on the entertainment and shows, see the animals and even feed the dolphins.

8: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Tourists have been visiting this Bay Area theme park since 1907. It's still a favorite destination for many tourists today.

The Boardwalk may not have the fastest roller coaster, but that's not what makes it unique. The Giant Dipper is the 5th oldest roller coaster in the country and the 9th oldest in the world. At almost 100 years old, it's still going strong!

Admission to the Boardwalk is free, and visitors can purchase individual tickets to the carnival rides and arcade games. There are over 40 rides and attractions, including the 1911 Looff Carousel, providing fun for kids of all ages.

Save time for a self-guided walking tour and to see the Boardwalk Historium while you're there. You'll see photographs and memorabilia from the first 100 years at the Boardwalk. This theme park is one of the best beachfront adventures in California.

9: Sonoma TrainTown Railroad

This railroad-themed park features a miniature trail with four miles of track. Take a 20-minute ride that travels the woods filled with charming mini-towns and bridges and includes a stop at the petting zoo.

TrainTown has five amusement rides, including a carousel and a Ferris wheel. It's the perfect theme park introduction for youngsters who are not yet ready for larger roller coasters.

General admission and parking are free of charge, and ride tickets are affordable. That makes Sonoma TrainTown a hit for visiting families.

10: SeaWorld in San Diego

SeaWorld is the perfect blend of thrilling rides, family-friendly shows, and animal encounters, making it fun for the whole family.

It has more than 16 rides, including five roller coasters and two water rides for you to enjoy. You'll also find exhibits featuring beluga whales, polar bears, sharks, and penguins.

For true adrenaline junkies, SeaWorld's newest roller coaster holds the title of the state's fastest and longest dive coaster. If plunging 90 degrees and making 60 mph loops is your jam, Emperor is the coaster for you.

Plan to stay at least 6-8 hours to submerge yourself in all that SeaWorld offers.

More Articles From the Wealth of Geeks Network:

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Karee Blunt is the founder of OurWovenJourney.com, a travel blog focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.

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6 Creative Considerations Before You File Your 2021 Tax Return This April

Getting The Most Bang for Your Buck In This Hot Spring 2022 Housing Market

Watching the housing market explode over the last couple of years has been like binging reality TV drama—outrageous list prices, all-cash offers, waiving inspections, intense bidding wars, real estate love letters to win sellers’ hearts, and other things you’d think only exist on the big screen, not real life. 

Now, let us welcome you to the Spring 2022 housing market.

Will this season be just as intense and dramatic as the last? How can potential buyers stand out among the crowd? And what can sellers do to make their homes the most attractive on the block?

Here are some ideas for homebuyers and sellers to survive and thrive this spring. 

First, What Does The Spring Market Look Like?

Before you dive into open houses or crack open the can of touch-up paint, it’s important to understand what’s happening in the market. Arming yourself with knowledge sets you up to shop and sell smarter. 

Last year, U.S home prices grew faster than weeds in your garden, inflating to 18.8%. And experts predict that the market will be just as hot this spring season, if not even hotter. How is this possible?

As with many things in the economy right now, supply and demand are severely out of balance. Last spring, home inventory was down 32% from pre-pandemic levels. And what happens when there are more buyers than houses to put them in? 


This string of events spurred one of the most intense buying seasons on record, and the thing is, the trend isn’t slowing down; if anything, the housing market is more constricted this year. Not to freak you out or anything, but Zillow estimates that home prices will surge to 22% in May 2022.

Second, Interest Rates Are On the Rise

Since inventory hasn’t picked up over the last 12 months, mortgage interest rates are on the move. Today, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.6%! This jump in rates is a massive deal as it can directly impact your house-hunting budget. 

Say you’re looking at homes around $500,000. Your budget will stretch further with a lower interest rate—let’s see what this means using a mortgage interest rate calculator. In these examples, we’ll assume you put 20% down. 

  • A $500,000, 30-year fixed mortgage with a 3.5% interest rate will result in a $2,200 monthly payment.
  • If your interest rate increases to 4.5%, your monthly payment will jump to $2,400.

That’s an extra $200 a month just on mortgage payments! 

The numbers get even scarier looking at the life of the loan. Using the same scenario from above, the loan with 3.5% interest means you’ll pay roughly $647,000 over the life of the loan. With a 4.5% interest rate, that number bounces to $730,000.

With house prices being the highest in decades, what are home hopefuls supposed to do? 

Set Realistic Home Buying Expectations

Alright, that information probably felt like a big reality check. But don’t fret; here are some considerations for walking into this market with both eyes wide open. 

Start by setting expectations for your home-buying experience. While homebuying always comes with compromise, realize that you may have to make additional or creative compromises in this market. 

Before starting the hunt, ensure you know exactly what you’re looking for. To do that, break the experience down into a few categories,

  1. Needs
  2. Wants
  3. Nice-to-haves

While this may seem basic, it’s so easy to get swept away with brushed brass finishes, quartz countertops, and open floor plans that your budget may easily slip out of reach. Creating this list beforehand helps you know what to look for and remain motivated to stay on track.

Here’s an example. Meg and Brett are seasoned renters, but with their first child on the way, they want more space and to put down roots. 

This couple may need three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a good school district. They could want a big backyard for their child and dog to play in. And a basement would be nice to have for additional storage.

Where they may not want to compromise on the “needs” section, they could make concessions in the other two categories. Take this time to create your own list and start writing down what’s most important to you in a home. 

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to bring numbers into the equation. 

Create A Budget That Won’t Break The Bank

Remember those higher interest rates?

How could you forget, right?

It’s important to consider that higher interest rates may impact the price range you can reasonably afford. As discussed above, higher interest rates increase your monthly financial commitments, so take some time to reevaluate what you can afford in this new interest rate environment.

It’s so easy to overspend on a house, especially in a market as steamy as this one. But your home shouldn’t derail your other financial goals; it should help you reach your goals. 

As a general rule of thumb, you want to keep your total housing expenses less than 30% of your income—and that’s on the higher end of the spectrum. So how much house can you afford?

The answer to that question depends on how much money your household brings in every year, your anticipated savings goals, current debt obligations, cash reserve, and more. 

Now’s an excellent time to consider working with a financial planner who can help you set a healthy home buying budget that won’t leave you living paycheck to paycheck.

One thing that tends to get new homebuyers in trouble is taking a pre-qualification letter at face value. Before you tour houses, your realtor may suggest getting a pre-qualification letter or pre-approved for a loan, which essentially states how much “house” the bank says you can afford. 

  • Pre-qualification: It is a more informal process where homebuyers can gauge how much they could borrow. This process doesn’t require a hard credit check. 
  • Pre-approval: A more formal process that requires a hard credit check. Here, the bank lets you know how much you can actually borrow for a home loan. Getting pre-approved tends to strengthen your offer because sellers know you can afford the house. 

But often, the bank pre-qualifies/approves you for far more than would be comfortable for your cash flow. Just because you’re pre-qualified or pre-approved doesn’t mean you should borrow up to that limit. Doing so brings more risk onto your plate and leaves less money for other expenses that will creep up, home or otherwise. 

What expenses should you prepare for in this process?

  • The downpayment—aim for 20%, so you don’t get stuck with private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  • Closing costs, which usually come out to 2-5% of the home’s purchase price.
  • Mortgage and interest payment
  • Hidden costs of homeownership, such as maintenance and repairs, utilities, insurance, property taxes, homeowners association, or building fees. 

Once you know how much you can reasonably afford to pay, now it’s time to secure the best financing. 

Shop Around For a Mortgage and Look Into First-Time Homebuyer Loans

A home purchase is a major consideration, and as such, you should do your research and shop around before giving an institution your business. Check out a few different mortgage lenders (banks, credit unions, online lenders, etc.) and compare options. Ask yourself,

  • Does one have any first-time homebuyer programs?
  • Have you compared interest rates and loan terms from multiple lenders?
  • Are you aware of all your mortgage options?

There are several types of mortgage loans out there—conventional, jumbo, government loans (VA and FHA)—with different interest rate options, fixed or variable.

There are also excellent programs available for first-time homebuyers. Here are some of the top options.

    • FHA loans. The Federal Housing Administration backs these loans, and they come with some pretty nice perks: a 3.5% down payment and more flexible credit score requirements. Keep in mind that by putting down less than 20%, your lender will likely require private mortgage insurance, which protects the lenders in case you default on the loan. 
    • VA loans. If you’re a veteran (or a surviving spouse), the Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers incredible benefits, including no down payment or mortgage insurance.
  • USDA loans. The Department of Agriculture has a great assistance program that offers 100% financing options. This loan program targets rural areas, but you don’t have to live on a farm to qualify!
    • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Here, borrowers can access conventional loans with smaller down payments— a 3% minimum. Your mortgage lender will let you know if any of these options are available based on your credit score, the amount you wish to borrow, and more. 
    • State and local programs. In addition to national options, you can also check out available first-time homebuyer grants (that you don’t need to pay back) and low-interest mortgage options in your state. 
  • Renovation-specific loans. Looking to buy a fixer-upper? There may be loan programs that can help support that endeavor. Whether you want to enhance a home’s “green” features, renovate a true fixer, or finance the improvement costs at the onset, there’s an option. 

Our advice? Shop around. 

It can also be helpful to work directly with a mortgage broker as they can help you find great rates at no cost to you. How? The mortgage companies themselves typically pay mortgage brokers. 

Consider An Assumable Mortgage

This point is for buyers and sellers. 

With the hot real estate market and interest rates beginning to rise, it could be beneficial to look into an assumable mortgage. 

What’s an assumable mortgage? 

An assumable mortgage allows sellers to pass their existing mortgage onto the buyers. This way, the buyers wouldn’t have to take out a new mortgage at a potentially higher rate. 

Say you refinanced your mortgage during the pandemic when interest rates were at historic lows. If a buyer had the option to assume your mortgage with 2.5% interest or apply for a new mortgage at 4.5%, they would save a lot of time and money by taking yours over and paying the lower interest rate.

As a seller, your house could be more attractive to buyers if the mortgage is assumable. Keep in mind that many mortgage options (conventional, VA, FHA, etc.) aren’t. It’s best to weigh the pros and cons of your mortgage loan option both in the short and long term.

Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away.

After reading this article, you may be thinking that renting isn’t all that bad—and it’s true. Renting can be an excellent solution for many people. There are so many myths about homeownership that renters can skillfully avoid, like a house is your largest asset, renting is a waste of money, and other silly things too many people say. 

There’s nothing wrong with renting! Having the landscaping, roof, appliance, and routine maintenance being someone else’s problem certainly has its perks. 

While the home-buying process may make you feel like you’re inside a pressure cooker, you don’t have to make a buying decision that makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to offer 30K over asking or waive important inspections. Know your boundaries and don’t violate them—no house is worth that.

If you’re looking to purchase a home this season, be sure you do so with a solid budget, clear expectations, and a heavy dose of a fighting spirit. You’ve got this!

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How To Make Money in One Hour? 15 Legit Ways

How To Make Money in One Hour? 15 Legit Ways

Do you need quick cash? Like, within an hour? Read on and find out how to make money in an hour.

With rising costs of living and life's usual emergencies, we've all needed extra money for some unforeseen expenses at one point. Don't worry if you can't wait for the next paycheck; there are many more ways to make money.

This article explores the top ways to score cash in under an hour. We will provide leads, tips, links, and apps to boost your earning potential. Scroll down for a list of excellent ideas to make some (seriously) fast cash.

15 Ways To Make Money in One Hour

1. Fill Out Surveys

Filling out paid online surveys is a fun and easy way to make some extra bucks. They won't make you as rich as Elon Musk, but they are a reliable way to give your income a little boost. The plus side is that they do not require much effort.

There are some fantastic paid survey platforms out there, such as:

  • Swagbucks. The Swagbucks app pays between $0.40 to $2 per survey. Some rare surveys pay around $50.
  • Survey Junkie. Survey Junkie pays you to take surveys and share your browsing behavior. Survey Junkie payments are made via PayPal or with gift cards.
  • Opinion Outpost. Opinion Outpost pays money in exchange for sharing valuable insights. Opinion Outpost usually pays around $2.50 per survey.
  • KashKick. KashKick is an online rewards platform that pays you for taking surveys and other micro-tasks. The pay range is between $0.75 – $2 per survey.

2. Sign-up for New Apps

Some apps offer bonuses such as cash rewards when you sign-up with them. Some of the apps that give cash bonuses are:

  • Ibotta. Double your regular $10 sign-up bonus with Ibotta when you sign up now and spend $30 shopping with them.
  • InboxDollars. Sign up with InboxDollars and receive a $5 cash bonus.
  • MyPoints. Get $10 instantly upon signing up with MyPoints.

Signing up for these platforms merely takes a few minutes and can help you collect quick money.

3. Refer Friends to Apps

Referrals are among the easiest ways to get extra cash in less than an hour. There are a lot of apps that pay you for referrals. Then, as your friends download the app, you receive a cash reward.

Some of these apps include Rakuten and Fetch Rewards. Both are cash-back apps that partner with retailers nationwide to offer cash rewards as you shop. Rakuten pays $25 per friend you invite to the app. (Note: your friend needs to spend $25 via the app within the first 90 days for you to get your prize). Fetch Rewards pays you $4 for every friend referred, who also gets $2 upon joining.

4. Test Websites

Top-class companies require website testing from people before they fully launch their product or service. This is where you come in. You can get paid for being a website tester for these companies.

Join platforms like Usertesting and Userlytics to receive invites for testing websites. You must perform simple tasks to check the website's usability and submit your report. You'll receive payment in your PayPal account.

5. Freelancing

Becoming a freelancer is a profitable side hustle. You can become a freelancer if you're good at your work and have a decent network.

John Carmack, now worth $50 million, started as a freelance programmer and steadily grew his income over the years.

Search for gigs on freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork and get started immediately.

6. Donate Plasma

Donating plasma is a surefire way to make money within an hour. Your plasma is a vital ingredient in treating patients with autoimmune diseases and blood clotting disorders. A single donation usually offers a $50 payout. You can also register at a donation center as a regular donor and earn up to $1,000 per month. Find a plasma donation center near you and start making money within the hour.

7. Consider Ridesharing

Driving for companies like Uber and Lyft can help you earn a good amount of money in an hour. These apps allow you to set your working schedule and work as much or as little as you want.

In larger cities, you can earn between $15 – $20 an hour driving with Lyft and Uber.

8. Deliver With Doordash

DoorDash is one of the leading food delivery services in the United States. You can become a driver for DoorDash and get paid to deliver restaurant meals to homes and offices.

It's simple and free to register with the app and start making extra money on the side. The requirements are simple; you must be at least 18 years old, own a vehicle, and agree to a background check.

DoorDash delivery is a foolproof way to make extra money. The best part is you can make your schedule and work as much or as little as you want.

9. Mow a Lawn

You can make a decent hourly income by providing a regular lawn mowing service to your neighbors. To get started, just go door-to-door around the block and ask if anybody needs help with this cumbersome chore.

Depending on your skill set and experience, lawn mowing can bag you anywhere between $18 – $24 an hour, and oftentimes, you'll get cash in hand. Cut down the wait time on your next paycheque with lawnmowing.

10. Consider Babysitting

If you're searching for how to make money in one hour, babysitting is your answer. It is a flexible job that can easily fit your after-school schedule. In addition, it doesn't require any qualifications and pays great when compared with other simple jobs.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly rate for babysitting one child is $17.19 an hour.

11. Deliver Groceries

Delivering groceries is a great way to make money in an hour if you want to work on your schedule.

Grocery delivery apps like Instacart and ShiptShopper pay you to deliver groceries to their customers from local retailers. Just sign-up for these apps and earn money shipping groceries in your spare time.

You can earn an average of $17 per hour, including tips, by delivering groceries.

To sign-up for the service, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver's license, and own a vehicle like a scooter, bike, or car.

12. Become a Dog Walker

Walking a dog can help you quickly earn some cash. You can register with services like Rover to find clients in your neighborhood or search for clients independently by promoting yourself on social media.

This gig is a lovely way to make money, especially if you are a dog lover. However, it is difficult to determine how much you'll exactly make walking a dog. It depends on a few factors, like the demand for dog walkers in your neighborhood, location, miles you walk, etc.

According to ZipRecruiter, you can earn an average of $15.19 an hour by dog walking.

13. Do Odd Jobs

Performing odd jobs for your family and neighbors is a great way to make the most of your free time. And you can earn some quick cash along the way. Finding these jobs through word of mouth or social media is relatively simple.

Consider doing any of the following odd jobs:

  • Shoveling snow
  • Painting
  • House cleaning
  • Lawn mowing

14. Sell Things Around Your House

Search your house for the items you no longer use and sell them online. If you urgently need some cash, this may be one of the best ways to get it.

These items can be anything from clothes to kitchen utensils and small furniture items.

The best online platforms to sell used household items are:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • LetGo
  • Depop
  • Nextdoor

These websites can help you sell your stuff online and earn quick bucks from items around your house. It also reduces wastage and puts things to good use.

15. Sell Scrap Metal

Selling scrap metal is an eco-friendly side hustle. Metal is recyclable and can be used over and over.

You can easily find scrap metal in your house and sell it to scrap yards near you, turning your trash into cash. Your garage could be a potential goldmine for scrap metal. The items you should be looking for are:

  • Copper wires
  • Beverage cans
  • Old washing machine
  • Old refrigerator
  • Old utensils
  • Old jewelry

You can sell all these items at scrap yards. An important tip to increase your income from scrap metal is to look for metals worth more. For example, copper is rare and will give higher rates per pound than most other metals.

Tips for Making Money in One Hour

Making money within an hour might sound too good to be true. But, if you're determined enough, some tips can help you receive your paycheck within 60 minutes of completing a task.

Some hustles that pay instantly are:

  • Selling your stuff such as gift cards, used household items, and clothes.
  • Donating plasma
  • Selling games or books
  • Doing odd jobs around the neighborhood

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) – How To Make Money in One Hour

How Can I Make Money Immediately

To make money online, you can sell preloved items from your home, complete a freelancing gig, join paid surveys, or do other tasks such as watching videos and playing games, test websites, and many other quick-paying gigs.

Other ways to make money immediately include ridesharing, delivering food and groceries, dog walking, and doing odd jobs.

How Can I Make $100 in an Hour?

Several jobs pay $100 an hour, including freelance work as a copywriter, photographer, interior designer, videographer, or consultant in your specialization. While these won't make you as rich as MacKenzie Scott, it's a good stepping stone if you need money now.

Conclusion – How To Make Money in One Hour

Whether you work at home, take an online gig, or do jobs outside, there are many legitimate ways of earning extra income quickly. You can find a job that suits you with these different ways to make money in one hour.

This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.

Marjolein is the founder of Radical FIRE. She has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. Radical FIRE is a personal finance blog that helps you live your dream life through making more money and investing. We want you to reach your financial goals and have fun while doing it!

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6 Creative Considerations Before You File Your 2021 Tax Return This April

I No Longer Qualify for a Roth IRA – Now What?

You’ve heard the advice when it comes to saving for retirement: contribute enough to your employer-sponsored retirement plan to get the company match, and then contribute up to the max to a Roth IRA ($6,000 in 2022).

But Roth IRAs have income limits:

For 2022, single tax filers who make $144,000 or more are ineligible to contribute, and they can only contribute a reduced amount if they make between $129,000 and $144,000. Married people filing jointly who make $214,000 or more are ineligible and must contribute a reduced amount once they earn $204,000 to $214,000.

You might reach this income limit suddenly, too. A raise or bonus at work, or a new job with a salary bump, could push you to the income limit.

And one tricky way to reach the limit overnight? Get married! Your income alone might not have exceeded the income limits, but yours plus your spouses could.

The IRS considers you married for the entire year in the year you tie the knot. That means that if you got married on December 31, 2022, as far as the IRS is concerned you were married for all of 2022. So if you made your 2022 Roth contribution before your New Year’s Eve wedding, you over-contributed (more on what to do in that case soon — read on!).

So what are your options when you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA anymore?

Keep the Roth IRA Account Open but Increase Your 401(k) Contributions

You don’t need to do anything with your old Roth IRA account. You can simply leave it where it is and keep it invested.

It’s really important that you increase the amount you’re contributing to your 401(k) at work because this is one of the best ways to reduce your tax bill. You should aim to max out your 401(k) ($20,500 for 2022) since you’re earning above six figures now.

If you are close to the income limit cut off, you would reduce your taxable income and could get your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) below the amount needed to qualify for a Roth IRA — and you may actually be able to make a Roth IRA contribution after all!

If you are married, you and your spouse can each contribute up to $20,500 to an employer-sponsored retirement plan for 2022, which means reducing your taxable income!

Consider Switching to a Roth 401(k)

If your employer allows you to make Roth contributions to a 401(k) plan, you may want to consider switching your pre-tax contributions to Roth. If you think that your income is going to go up and that you could be in a higher tax bracket later on, you may choose to forgo the upfront tax deduction in favor of a future tax benefit.

The money in a Roth 401(k) grows tax-free and when you withdraw it in retirement you won’t pay taxes on it since it was funded with after-tax dollars, just like a Roth IRA. The nice thing about the Roth 401(k)s is that there aren’t the same income restrictions that there are on Roth IRAs. Regardless of your income level, anyone can contribute to a Roth 401(k) as long as it is offered by your employer.

Side note: any money that your employer matches or contributes via profit sharing to your 401(k) will automatically go into the pre-tax portion of your 401(k).

Begin Contributing to a Non-Deductible Traditional IRA

Your contributions to a traditional IRA won’t likely be tax-deductible because of your high income, but you won’t have to pay taxes on the gains each year since they are within a retirement account (however, you don’t get to write off the losses either).

You have to keep track of the money you put into a non-deductible IRA each year by filling out a form on your taxes because it comes into play when you withdraw this money in retirement.

This strategy only makes sense after you are already maxing out your 401(k) (and your spouse’s work retirement plan if applicable).

The Backdoor Roth IRA

There is a way to indirectly contribute to a Roth IRA. Open up and contribute to a traditional IRA, and then convert it to a Roth IRA after holding the funds for one year. You can do this every year your income exceeds the limits for a Roth IRA, but this is a much more complicated strategy so I would be sure to have a good CPA (and financial planner) on your team in order to execute it properly.

If you have any other IRA money (including Rollover IRAs and SEP-IRAs) this will be taken into account in a tax calculation that has to do with the IRS Aggregation rule, so you usually want to see if you can move this money into a 401(k) if possible to avoid this rule.

If you are seriously considering doing this then I would read this article by Michael Kitces on How to Do a Backdoor Roth IRA (Safely), before implementing. Don’t try this without a tax professional on your team that has done this before and can walk you through the steps.

What if You Over-Contributed?

You’ll pay a 6% excise tax on those over-contributions each year they remain in your account, so you’ll want to take some sort of action. There are a few things you can do to fix the issue (that may or may not prevent you from paying that 6% tax).

If you realize you over-contributed before filing your taxes, you can withdraw your excess contributions. If you didn’t notice the excess until after you filed your taxes you can take out the excess money and file an amended tax return by October 15.

You can also recharacterize the excess contribution into a Traditional Non-Deductible IRA. You’d need to act fast on this, because you have until April 15 to recharacterize part of your Roth contribution for the previous tax year.

If you’re struggling to make a decision, it could be worth talking to a financial planner, who can help you choose between your options (and reduce the taxes or penalties you’ll need to pay). You can reduce the risk of this happening in the future by waiting until April to make your Roth contribution. That way you’ll have the full tax year to see if your income changes before you contribute.

It’s important to wait until the year has ended if you think you may be close to the annual income limit or in the phase-out window, especially if you think a year-end bonus could set you over the limit. Once the calendar year has ended, your tax accountant will be able to tell you whether or not you qualify to make a Roth IRA contribution for that year and you’ll have until April 15 to make a contribution for the prior year.

Take Action

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Updated: April 2022

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