What to Do After a Car Accident: Checklist & Tips for Drivers

After Car Accident

There are over 10 million motor vehicle accidents every year, according to Census Bureau estimates, so even if you’re a safe driver, it pays to plan ahead and be prepared. The most important rules: Keep your cool. If there is any chance of serious injuries, call 911.

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2015’s States with the Best & Worst Taxpayer ROI

Wallet Hub Best Worst Taxpayer ROIThere is an obvious disconnect in the minds of taxpayers between the amount of money we fork over each April and what we ultimately receive in return from the government. Tax Day is a tangible, painful reminder of our investment in the operation of federal, state and local governments, but it’s difficult to discern their precise role in our day-to-day quality of life or overall pursuit of happiness.

Perhaps that’s why 52% of people feel they pay too much in taxes and most people think roughly half of their tax dollars are being wasted. One thing we do know is that taxpayer return on investment varies significantly based on simple geography. Federal income tax rates are uniform across the country, yet some states get far more federal funding than others – as WalletHub recently illustrated in its Federal Government Dependency Report. But federal taxes and funding are only part of the story.

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Car Insurance Discounts: Maximize Your Savings

Car Insurance Discounts

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Car insurance discounts are available to nearly everyone, and they can be worth more than you expect. To help you find potential savings, we’ve broken down three different categories of auto insurance discounts with ranges of what you can save and how often insurers offer them.

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ACH Payments: How to Safely Make Debit Transactions

ACH Payment

It’s increasingly popular to make many purchases via direct debit from your checking account, especially when shopping or paying bills online. This is sometimes called an “electronic check” or “direct debit,” and it works just like any other payment you’d make online. You just supply your account and routing numbers instead of a credit card or debit card number.

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2015’s Best & Worst States to be a Taxpayer

Best-Worst-States-to-be-a-Taxpayer-BadgeThe average American household pays roughly $17,000 in federal income taxes each year. And while we’re all faced with the same burden in that regard, there is significant disparity when it comes to state and local taxes. For example, taxpayers in the most expensive states spend three-times more to meet their civic burden than those in the cheapest states.

As you might expect, differences in state tax obligations – as well as the services for which funds are used – can have an impact on populous migration and thus the strength of local economies. Such trends are clearly evidenced at the top of the socioeconomic totem pole, with professional athletes, for example, often taking up residence in Florida or Texas for the tax break. And while academic research shows state and local taxes to have a negligible impact on overall population movement, one has to conclude that it makes a distinct difference on the individual household level.

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2015’s States with the Highest and Lowest Property Taxes

States-with-the-Highest-and-Lowest-Property-Taxes-BadgeProperty taxes. They’re insignificant to some and the bane of others’ existence. The average American household spends $2,089 on property taxes for their homes each year, and residents of the 27 states with vehicle property taxes shell out another $423. Roughly $15 billion-worth of homes are also foreclosed upon as a result of property tax delinquencies each year, according to a 2012 study by the National Tax Lien Association.

And while property taxes may appear to be a non-issue for the 36% of people who rent their homes, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We all pay for property taxes, whether directly or indirectly, as they impact the rent we pay as well as the finances of state and local governments.

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Countdown to Tax Day: WalletHub’s 2015 Expert Tips

Filing Your TaxesWith Tax Day fast approaching, the 28% of Americans who wait until April to file their returns have a lot of catching up to do. Taxes are complex under normal circumstances, and that’s only intensified when you add a time crunch to the mix. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of last-minute tax tips and reminders that will hopefully satisfy any questions that you have as well as keep you on task through mid-month.

These tips are the product of both WalletHub’s industry research and our conversations with numerous experts in the fields of individual taxation, tax law, household finance, business, negotiation, and consumer psychology over the past few weeks. Take this advice to heart and tax season will be a breeze. You can (ac)count on it!

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2015 Banking Landscape Report

2015 Banking LandscapeAfter nearly seven years of historically low, near-zero interest rates, the Federal Reserve recently opened the door to better banking returns – announcing the forthcoming end to its quantitative easing bond-buying program. But what exactly does this mean for the average consumer or small business owner? Is it time to pull funds out of equities and stash them instead in increasingly attractive, low-risk deposit vehicles – such as savings accounts and CDs? And, if so, which types of counts will prove most fruitful?

In the hope of answering those pressing questions and providing strategic guidance to frugal consumers, WalletHub analyzed the rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,000 checking and savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions of all shapes and sizes across the country. Check out our findings below and use the trends and tidbits we unearth to make the smartest possible financial decisions.

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2015’s The Most & Least Financially Literate States in America

Wallet Hub Most and Least Financially Literate StatesThe issue of widespread financial illiteracy – not just in this country, but around the world – has rightfully garnered significant attention in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The housing market collapse and ensuing global financial crisis served as a stark reminder of our societal obsession with debt as well as the dangers of fingertip financial access in the hands of consumers who are marked by a hope-for-the-best, figure-it-out-later attitude and an obvious lack of financial aptitude.

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2015’s Best & Worst States for Finding Tax Help

Best and Worst States for Finding Tax Help BadgeThere’s no shame in admitting it – many of us need a bit of help with our taxes.  Whether due to time restriction, numerical aversion or a simple lack of interest, we look upon mid-April with foreboding and then watch as procrastination inevitably makes way to a last-minute scramble.

Haste and disorganization are most likely the two primary reasons why roughly 2.3 million people made math errors on their tax returns in 2013, the most recent year for which IRS data is available.  So rather than spend the 16 hours the IRS says it takes for an individual to fill out their 1040, nearly 6 in 10 taxpayers hire a professional to do their returns.

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What to Do If You Can’t Pay Your Taxes

What If I Cant Pay My Taxes

Tax season is a stressful time for most people, but it’s especially difficult for those of us with doubts about our ability to pay the IRS. The good news is there are a number of ways anyone can make an unmanageable tax obligation easier to deal with without drastically driving up the costs.

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2015’s Best States to Be Rich or Poor from a Tax Perspective

States-to-Be-Rich-or-Poor-from-a-Tax-Perspective-BadgeIt’s tax season, and Uncle Sam’s back not only to collect but also, it seems, to kick Americans who are already down. The Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, or ITEP, found in its latest report that many taxes — including payroll taxes, sales taxes, and some state and local taxes — are regressive, which means they take more money out of the pockets of Americans in the lower- and middle-income brackets than from wealthier families.

After accounting for all taxes, in fact, “the nationwide average effective state and local tax rates by income group are 10.9 percent for the poorest 20 percent of individuals and families, 9.4 percent for the middle 20 percent and 5.4 percent for the top 1 percent,” according to the ITEP. Such disappointing findings have brought the question of fairness to the forefront of the current tax season.

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2015’s Best and Worst States for Doctors

Best Worst States for Doctors Badge

Doctors are among the most highly paid, educated and celebrated professions in the United States. Just consider the fact that “physician” is the most popular profession within the top 1% of earners. Doctors are deserving, after all, given the importance of their life-saving work and all of the struggles associated with life in the medical profession.

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Funds Availability: When Will Your Deposit Clear?

Available funds

Deposit accounts are essential tools for managing and spending your money, but there are times when not all of your money is available to spend. What you’ll notice is that your “available” balance is lower than the full balance of your account because your financial institution has placed a hold on a deposit.

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Overdraft Protection: What It Is & How to Avoid Fees

Overdraft Protection

No one is perfect, and everyone from time to time will overdraw his or her checking account. Maybe you miscalculated your balance or forgot to deposit money. It happens. But the cost of an occasional blunder can add up because most banks and credit unions charge substantial fees of $35 or more whenever you exceed your account balance — not to mention the additional embarrassment and headaches of bouncing a check or electronic payment.

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Extended Car Warranty: Is It Worth It?

Car extended warranty

When purchasing a car – even some used cars – you’ll be faced with a decision about whether to purchase an extended warranty to protect yourself from expensive car repair bills. Before paying for one of these plans, it’s important to know what you’re buying and what your alternatives are.

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Credit Union vs. Bank: What’s the Difference?

Banks vs. Credit Unions Guide

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When most people think of checking and savings accounts, mortgages or car loans, they think of banks.  Heck, we call a lot of those financial products “bank” accounts.  But what about the bank’s cousin, the credit union? Given the ubiquity of banks, it’s no surprise that some folks don’t understand the fundamental differences between the two— let alone what a credit union actually is.

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2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Basketball Fans

Best-and-Worst-Cities-for-Basketball-FansTo Americans, March can mean one of three things: losing an hour of sleep, the arrival of spring or — to the more than 67 million American adults crazed about basketball — several chaotic weeks of betting, shouting and high-fiving in front of multiple TVs tuned in to different games. If the title of this report didn’t give it away, March Madness is upon us once again.

But we’re not here to bet with you on the seed that’s likely to bag the biggest prize in college basketball. As much as we care which team is destined for victory, we care about your wallets first and foremost. After all, it’s you who spend tens of billions of dollars in the name of basketball, wagering $9 billion alone on the current tournament.

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2015’s Best Banks for Record Keeping

wallethub square badge 1Online statements provide both convenience and security. They’re available sooner than paper statements, they can be accessed anywhere there’s an Internet location, and they simplify long-term record keeping. Plus, online statements help the environment.

Consumers are thus proving to be increasingly receptive to online statements, especially as mobile banking functionality continues to improve. Nearly 29% of banking customers had opted-in for online statements as of 2013, according to DigitalMailer research, which represents an 11% increase from the year before.
With that being said, the primary goal of this report was to determine the online record-keeping policies of the nation’s largest banks and credit unions – including the length of time records are available for immediate download, what types of historical records are maintained, and the cost associated with accessing them.

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2015’s Best & Worst Run Cities in America

Run-Cities-in-America-BadgeLike Rome, no great city is built in a day. Economics and leadership play key roles in shaping the foundation of an ideal metropolis. The best cities often turn out to be ones that most efficiently spend their public resources in order to satisfy the needs and priorities of most — if not all — members of the community.

In recent years, total debt for local governments has increased, underscoring the importance for cities to spend wisely within their means. With tax season approaching, WalletHub assessed how efficiently some of America’s largest cities spend taxpayer dollars on certain expenditure categories, including education, police, and parks and recreation, which led to the creation of our report series on the “Best Run Cities in America.”

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