What the experts say
The price of procrastination
“Procrastinating on financial matters can cost you big in the long run,” said Russ Wiles in AZCentral.com. Many Americans struggle with the pressure of planning for retirement, drafting a will, or developing a savings plan. Some are gripped by the fear of making a mistake, while others are intimidated by not knowing how to proceed. Delaying some matters can be especially costly. One of the worst financial behaviors is paying only the minimum on your credit cards, thinking that you will eventually ramp up payments. Compounding interest will just sink you further in debt. There’s also no better time than now to make sure that you have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, and to get serious about retirement. “Even individuals who start late with retirement planning can make headway if they just get going.”
Credit scores may jump
Tax liens will no longer be considered in your credit score, “a move that will make some risky borrowers appear more creditworthy,” said AnnaMaria Andriotis in The Wall Street Journal. As of this month, the three major credit-reporting companies will delete more than 5.5 million liens from consumers’ credit reports and “stop adding new tax lien information.” That means some consumers could see their credit scores go up, making them eligible for better loans and financing terms. The credit-rating firms have been “grappling with class-action lawsuits over their handling of consumers’ tax liens.” A number of suits accuse the firms of not updating information to reflect when the lien was withdrawn or paid.
Pushing back on property taxes
“If your property tax bills are increasing, you’re not alone,” said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. For most families, they’re the second-largest household expense after the mortgage. Property tax is calculated as a percentage of the average estimated market value of your area’s homes, usually between 1 and 2 percent, so rising prices can inflate your tax obligations. Many cities have also increased their rates, compounding the pain. Last year the average bill nationwide was $3,400, up 3 percent from 2016. If you feel your bill is too high, you can file an appeal. Check the details in your valuation report, such as the number of bedrooms. If anything is obviously wrong, call your local assessor’s office. For significant errors or differences of opinion, “you’ll need some data to back up your claim.” This could include sales data for comparable homes or even a formal appraisal.