How To Write a 30-Day Notice Letter To Your Landlord

Sending a notice to vacate to your current landlord will help ensure a smooth and easy transition to your next place.

You absolutely love your current apartment. Everything about it has been perfect, but you realize it’s time to move on. Even though your lease has a defined end date, it’s common courtesy to notify your landlord that you’re ready to move.

Submitting a 30-day notice letter to your landlord is the proper way to get the ball rolling. Not only will it ensure everyone is on the same page about you moving out, it makes sure you’re all on the same schedule.

Why do I give a notice to vacate?

One of the hardest things to remember about leasing an apartment is that it’s a legal transaction. You sign a legal document to move in, so you need to create a document when you want to move out.

A notice to vacate is the letter you give your landlord stating your intention to terminate your lease. The specifics of how to submit this letter — and when — is usually a part of your rental agreement. Even if your lease has a set end date and that’s when you’re moving out, submitting an official letter makes your intentions clear and avoids confusion.

Is a 30-day notice letter to my landlord the norm?

While it’s pretty standard to provide 30 days’ notice of your intent to move out, not every lease sets the notification period to the same amount of days. Some landlords may want more notice, transforming your 30-day notice letter to a 45- or 60-day letter.

Your lease provides any clarification you need on when to send this letter, so it’s best to check it well before you plan on moving out.

Thinking of what to include in a letter

Thinking of what to include in a letter

What should the notice letter look like?

There are a few essential elements that belong in your notice to vacate letter and a few best practices to follow. First, make sure your letter has:

  • Your name, your current address and the date
  • The date on which you plan to move out
  • A forwarding address where your security deposit can go
  • Acknowledgment that a final inspection will occur

Additionally, it’s best if you:

  • Review your lease before writing your letter to check not only on a time frame to give notice but other requirements for moving out.
  • Type your letter rather than write it by hand. Use a pen for your signature, but typing the letter makes it easier to keep a record for yourself.
  • Keep the tone straightforward and polite. Stay on the topic of giving your notice and don’t bring up other issues or complaints.

Even if your lease doesn’t require you to send a formal letter if you’re moving out on the actual date your rental agreement ends, err on the side of caution and do so anyway. This gives you a paper trail and offers you legal protection should any issues arise down the road.

A 30-day notice letter template

This template can help you get started when it’s time to write your own 30-day notice letter to your landlord. Simply download the 30-day notice sample letter and replace the sections in parenthesis ( ) with your information.

(Your name)
(Street address and unit number)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

(Date)

(Landlord or property manager’s name)
(Property address)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

Re: Notice of Intent to Vacate

Dear (Landlord or property manager’s name),

This letter is to inform you of my official 30-day notice to vacate. I’d like to terminate the lease signed on (Month, Date, Year) for the property located at (Your address with apartment number). I will move out on (Date).

I will return my keys on (Move out date) to (Specific address) per the terms of my lease.

I’m also aware a final inspection of the apartment will take place, the results of which could potentially impact my security deposit. Please let me know, via email at (Your email address), if the full amount is not being returned. You can return my security deposit to (Forwarding address.)

Should you have any questions, or need to reach me after I move out, you can contact me at (Phone number) or (Email address).

Sincerely,

(Your name and signature)
(Apartment number)

Sharing why you’re moving out

This is an optional bit of information you can include in your letter. It’s not necessary to tell your landlord why you’re moving out, but sometimes it’s nice for them to know that it’s not the apartment driving you away.

If you’d like, add in a sentence to your letter along these lines: I’ve enjoyed living here and am moving out because of a (new job/relocation opportunity/roommate opportunity, etc.).

If you’re moving out because of an issue with the apartment and want to share it here, that’s OK, too, just try and remain diplomatic. You don’t want to use your letter as an opportunity to accuse your landlord of anything. Try something like: I’m leaving because of (a rent increase, issue with apartment). You don’t need to get really detailed, either.

Again, this additional line is completely optional and up to you entirely.

Hire a moving company

Hire a moving company

What happens after your notice to vacate?

Once you’ve submitted your official letter, it’s a good idea to reach out to your landlord and informally share your plans. You can also notify them your letter is coming and address any questions they may have without having to wait.

The next steps involve planning your move. If you haven’t found a new place to live yet, get searching. You may also want to schedule movers since you’ve now established your move-out day with your 30-day notice letter to your landlord.

What if I forget?

The biggest possible issue, should you forget to send a 30-day notice letter to your landlord, is penalties. You could end up on the hook for extra fees as high as another month’s rent. You could also end up dealing with an automatic lease renewal, which means having to break your lease to move out. This could lead to even more charges and potential problems since you’ve missed your window to easily vacate the apartment.

To avoid forgetting, as soon as you know you’re going to move, set a reminder for yourself to give 30-day notice and mark the cut-off date in your calendar. Give yourself as many ways as possible to get that letter sent.

Handling the termination of your lease right

Moving from one home to another is always full of little details. From scheduling movers to packing all your stuff, the weeks leading up to a move are busy.

Before you get into the weeds of your actual move, take the right steps to properly prepare your landlord. That all starts by giving notice of your intent to vacate. It will be the easiest and the less time-consuming thing you have to do during the move-out process and could make a big difference.

Source: rent.com

Here’s How The Saver’s Credit Can Lower Your Tax Bill by $2,000

You might be eligible for 50%, 20% or 10% of the maximum contribution amount.
On the scale of great tax breaks, tax credits are the best. While deductions merely lower your taxable income, a tax credit reduces your actual tax bill dollar-for-dollar.
To be eligible for the Saver’s Credit, you must:
Seriously. Check this out.

What Is the Saver’s Credit?

Next, make your deposit.
Let’s say you do your taxes and discover you owe ,000. If you paid ,000 out of your paycheck to your retirement accounts over the course of the year and received a 0 Saver’s Credit, your tax bill would shrink to 0.
If you’re a low- or middle-income worker, you can claim the Saver’s Credit — also known as the retirement savings contributions credit — by adding money to a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA).
The Internal Revenue Service sets maximum adjusted gross income caps for the retirement savings contribution credit each year.
The IRS actually gives taxpayers until April 15, 2022, to make contributions to individual retirement accounts and include those investments on their 2021 taxes. Pretty cool, huh?
Not only do a lot of people forget about this credit, many low-income workers miss out on the sweet tax benefits of saving for retirement because they worry doing so will strain their tight budgets.

How Do You Qualify for the Saver’s Credit?

First, you’ll need to open a retirement account if you don’t have one already. You can open one with any brokerage firm or robo-advisor. Or, you can start contributing money to your workplace 401(k).
Your income determines the percentage of your retirement savings that will be credited to your tax bill.

  • Be 18 years or older and file a tax return.
  • Not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
  • Not be a full-time student. (However, you’re still eligible for the Saver’s Credit if you’re enrolled in an online-only school or participating in on-the-job training).
  • Save some money in a retirement account, like an employer-sponsored 401(k).

It’s important to note that this government tax benefit is not a deduction, but a credit.
Here’s what eligible taxpayers need to do to take advantage of the Saver’s Credit.
How much the Saver’s Credit is worth depends on how much you contribute to your retirement account, your filing status and your AGI.

  • $66,000 for married filing jointly.
  • $49,500 for head of household.
  • $33,000 for a single filer or any other filing status.
Pro Tip
The maximum amount of the Saver’s Credit cannot exceed ,000 for single filers or ,000 for joint filers in 2022.

How Much Is the Saver’s Tax Credit Worth?

It’s called the Saver’s Credit, and it’s one of the most valuable tax credits available. But it’s also one of the most overlooked.

Pro Tip
Lastly, you need to file Form 8880: Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions with the IRS. If you’re using online tax software, like TurboTax, then it’s even easier to file this form with your tax return.

Finally, you must contribute new money to a retirement plan: Rollover contributions from an existing account — like a 401(k) rollover into an IRA — don’t count.
For example, a single filer earning ,000 who invests ,000 in a Roth IRA would receive a maximum credit for 50% of their contribution, or ,000.
One drawback about the Saver’s Credit is it’s nonrefundable. That means the tax credit can be used to offset income-tax liability but not as a refund. In other words if you owe no taxes but qualify for the Saver’s Credit, Uncle Sam won’t cut you a check. Bummer.

Keep reading to learn who is eligible for the Saver’s Credit and how it works.

Filing status 50% of contribution 20% of contribution 10% of contribution
Single Filers, Married Filing Separately, or Qualifying Widow(er) AGI of $19,750 or below AGI of $19,751 – $21,500 AGI of $21,501 – $33,000
Married Filing Jointly AGI of $39,500 or below AGI of $39,501 – $43,000 AGI of $43,001 – $66,000
Head of Household AGI of $29,625 or below AGI of $29,626 – $32,250 AGI of $32,251 – $49,500

When you file your 2022 taxes for the 2021 tax year, your adjusted gross income (AGI) must fall below the following thresholds to qualify for the Saver’s Credit:
If you earn too much to qualify for the Saver’s Credit, you can still receive a tax deduction by contributing to a traditional IRA.
It’s worth checking to see if you qualify for the Saver’s Credit, especially if you or your spouse were unemployed or experienced a reduction of income in 2021.

How Do I Claim the Saver’s Credit?

As you can see, people with the lowest income benefit most from the Saver’s Tax Credit.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
But a single filer earning ,000 who contributed ,000 to a Roth IRA would receive a credit of just 10% of the amount they invested, or 0.

  • Traditional or Roth IRA
  • Traditional or Roth 401(k)
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • ABLE account (if you’re the designated beneficiary)
  • 403(b) plan
  • 457(b) plan
  • A federal Thrift Savings Plan

Ready to stop worrying about money?
First, you’ll need to meet some basic requirements.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Other Information About the Saver’s Tax Credit

The Saver’s Credit is worth up to ,000 for single filers, or ,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
It’s also worth noting that the Saver’s Credit can be claimed in addition to any tax deduction you receive by making qualified retirement savings contributions.
Keep in mind that the percentage of your retirement contribution you can receive as a credit decreases as your income increases.
The Saver’s Credit is a way to put money back in your pocket when you save for retirement.
Saver’s Credit Rate for 2022
So if you contribute to a traditional IRA or traditional 401(k), you could receive double tax savings: A reduction in your taxable income equal to the amount you kicked into your retirement account plus the Saver’s Credit (if you qualify). Believe it or not, the government will pay you to save. <!–

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Depending on your adjusted gross income and tax filing status, you can claim the credit for 50%, 20% or 10% of the first ,000 you contribute to a retirement account within a tax year.

Tax Deadlines Extended for Washington Flooding and Mudslide Victims

Residents and business in Washington State impacted by the flooding and mudslides beginning November 13, 2021, now have until March 15, 2022, to file and pay certain federal taxes. The IRS extended the deadlines after parts of the state were declared a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The tax relief applies to residents and businesses in Clallam, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties who were affected by the flooding and mudslides. This includes victims who reside or have a business in the Lummi Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, and Quileute Tribe.

Various federal tax filing and payment due dates for individuals and businesses from November 13 to March 14 will be shifted to March 15. This includes the quarterly estimated tax payments that are due on January 18, 2022.

The tax relief also applies to the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on January 31, 2022. Penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due from November 13 to November 28 will also be waived if the deposits were made by November 29, 2021.

Victims of the flooding and mudslides in Washington don’t have to contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if you receive a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

The IRS will also waive fees for obtaining copies of previously filed tax returns for taxpayers affected by the storms and flooding. When requesting copies of a tax return or a tax return transcript, write “Washington Flooding and Mudslides” in bold letters at the top of Form 4506 (copy of return) or Form 4506-T (transcript) and send it to the IRS.

In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside Washington, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the state. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live in another state need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2021 return that you will file this year), or the return for the prior year. This means that taxpayers can, if they choose, file an amended return to claim these losses on their 2020 return. Be sure to write the FEMA declaration number (DR-4635-WA) on any return claiming a loss. It’s also a good idea for affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on an amended 2020 return to put the Disaster Designation (“Washington Flooding and Mudslides”) in bold letters at the top of the form. See IRS Publication 547 for details.

Source: kiplinger.com

Discount Grocery Stores: Are They Worth the Savings?

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Like most people, I’d rather not spend any more at the grocery store than I have to. Over the years, I’ve tried every trick in the book to save money on groceries. And the single best way I’ve found to cut my grocery bill is to shop at discount grocery stores. 

Discount grocers like Aldi and Lidl offer much lower prices than big chains like Walmart and Kroger — not just on a few products, but on nearly everything they sell. When I hit my local store, I save money on every single item on my shopping list with no extra effort.

Admittedly, discount grocery stores have their limitations. They offer a smaller selection of products than a regular grocery store, and their quality can be uncertain in some cases. Hours are often limited, and the atmosphere isn’t fancy. But the savings make it well worth it.

Types of Discount Grocery Stores

The term “discount grocery store” can refer to two types of store: salvage stores and limited-assortment stores. Both types of discount grocers offer low prices. However, their selections and the strategies they use to keep their prices low are quite different.

Salvage Stores

Salvage stores sell goods rejected or discarded by other grocery stores. They’re also known as surplus grocery stores, closeout grocery stores, bent-and-dent stores, or grocery outlet stores. Like outlet fashion stores, they sell products other stores can’t at significantly reduced prices.

Salvage Store Inventory

Salvage and outlet stores can get goods at a discount for various reasons. Their merchandise includes: 

  • Overstock. Sometimes, supermarkets find themselves with more of a product than they can sell. They sell them to a salvage retailer at a steeply reduced price to clear their shelves. The salvage store passes the savings on to its customers. 
  • Discontinued Goods. Grocery stores often need to unload merchandise they no longer want to carry. Some of these are out-of-season goods, such as Halloween candy in November. Others simply didn’t sell well.
  • Damaged Goods. Supermarket shoppers prefer food in perfect condition. Slightly damaged food, such as dented cans or ugly-looking veggies, tends to get left on the shelf. Grocers sell them to salvage stores for less fussy customers to buy.
  • Late-Dated Goods. Some of the wares on a salvage store’s shelves are approaching or even past their expiration dates. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe to eat. Their quality is no longer guaranteed, but they’re still safe and often still perfectly good.
  • Unsuccessful Products. Sometimes, a company like Kraft or General Mills tests a new product or new packaging for an existing one and finds it isn’t a hit. Rather than discard the unsuccessful products, they sell them to an outlet store.
  • Wreck Salvage. A few goods at salvage stores are literally salvaged. When a truck carrying groceries gets into an accident, goods often fall off. Salvage retailers reclaim the surviving items from these wrecks and put them on their shelves.

Because salvage stores sell items recovered from larger chains, most of their offerings are name-brand products. However, these rejected products sell at much lower prices than usual. 

The selections at salvage stores aren’t limited to food, either. You can also find wine and beer, health and beauty products, cleaning supplies, and pet food. There are even some non-grocery products like garden supplies, office supplies, or clothing.

But the selection at these stores is a bit haphazard. It varies weekly based on what other retailers happen to discard. And a few products at salvage stores are unfit for consumption, such as half-rotted produce or severely dented cans.

In short, shopping at salvage stores is a bit like a treasure hunt. You can pick up some real gems, but you might have to dig through a lot of doubtful bargains to find them.

Examples of Salvage Stores

One sizable chain of salvage stores is Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. It has over 400 locations, mostly in the northwestern part of the United States. 

This chain’s offerings include fresh meat, produce, frozen foods, health and beauty products, and wines. These goods can be as much as 70% off their retail price. Items marked as “WOW deals” are particular bargains.

There are also many independent salvage stores located across the U.S. They’re especially common in Amish country. 

You can find stores near you by consulting the directory at Extreme Bargains or searching online for “discount grocer near me,” “outlet grocer near me,” or “salvage grocer near me.” 

There are also chain stores known as job-lot or liquidation stores that sell salvaged and overstock goods. They don’t specialize in groceries, but they usually have some food products for sale. One example is the Ocean State Job Lot in the Northeast.

While not identical to salvage stores, dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General are similar. Their pricing model sets these stores apart, with most inventory priced at $1.

Dollar stores don’t focus on food, although most carry some grocery items. However, they often use the same methods as salvage grocery stores to score bargains on overstock and discontinued goods.

Limited-Assortment Grocery Stores

Limited-assortment grocers are just like regular grocery stores but with a smaller selection of products. Many of them offer just one brand and size for each product they sell. The stores are smaller and need fewer employees to stock the shelves. That helps keep prices down. 

Limited-assortment stores also keep prices low by cutting out extras. For example, they typically don’t have fresh bakery, deli, or floral sections. These no-frills stores often display products right in their shipping cartons so employees spend less time stocking shelves. 

If you shop at a limited-assortment store, expect to bag your own groceries. You must also bring your own bags or pay extra for bags at some stores.

Some chains even require customers to pay a $0.25 deposit to use a grocery cart. This small fee encourages shoppers to bring the carts back rather than leaving them in the parking lot. That way, the store doesn’t have to pay employees to collect them.

Limited-Assortment Store Inventory

Limited-assortment grocery stores tend to focus heavily on their own private-label store brands. At some stores, that’s practically every product on the shelf. 

In fact, some limited-assortment stores, such as Trader Joe’s, have built a bit of a cult following around their store brands. Devoted customers regularly visit these stores for products they can’t find anywhere else.

If you’re loyal to any name brands, you probably can’t do all your grocery shopping at limited-assortment stores. But it’s worth visiting them for staple foods that are often similar regardless of brand. Examples include flour, sugar, salt, vinegar, and cooking oil.

Examples of Limited-Assortment Stores

There are many limited-assortment grocery chains in the U.S. Major ones include:

  • Aldi. This German chain has more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. Its stores are small — about one-third the size of a traditional grocery store. It sells primarily store brands, including organic, gluten-free, and European specialty food items. 
  • Dollar General. This chain has over 17,000 stores in 46 states. Many of them are in small towns and rural areas with few other stores. Its fresh food options are limited, but it has great prices on staple foods, household goods, and non-food items like clothing.
  • Food4Less. Part of the Kroger family, this chain includes about 50 stores in Southern California, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada. Its deeply discounted selections include produce, bakery, dairy, meat, and foreign foods.
  • Lidl. This European chain entered the U.S. in 2017. It now has over 150 stores along the East Coast, from New Jersey to South Carolina. It has higher-end goods than many discount grocers, including organic products, fresh-baked goods, and affordable wines.  
  • Save A Lot. There are over 1,000 Save A Lot locations in over 30 states, many in areas with few or no other stores. Its small, no-frills locations carry primarily store brands. But it gets high marks for its inexpensive meats and fresh produce.
  • Trader Joe’s. Loyal fans flock to Trader Joe’s for its high-quality store brands. Its specialties include wine, cheese, organic foods, and goodies like cookies and frozen dumplings. The chain has over 500 locations in 43 states.
  • WinCo. This employee-owned discount chain has over 100 bare-bones stores concentrated in the western U.S. Most stores are open 24/7. One notable feature of WinCo is its use of bulk bins like the ones at Whole Foods to cut down on packaging.

How to Save Money at Discount Grocery Stores

To get the most for your grocery dollar at discount stores, you have to shop strategically. Some grocery shopping strategies are the same for both salvage and limited-assortment stores. Others are more useful for one type of store or the other.

Check the Store Hours

Many salvage stores have limited store hours, which helps keep costs down. They’re only open on certain days or hours each day.

But it’s seriously annoying — and a big waste of gas and time if the store’s far away — to plan a special trip to a closed salvage store. So always check the store hours before you go.

Confirm Coupon Policies

One of the most popular ways to save money on groceries is clipping coupons. Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t always work at discount grocery stores. Most salvage stores and many limited-assortment stores refuse manufacturer coupons.

But at the few stores that take them, such as WinCo, the savings can be significant. 

For example, suppose you have a coupon for $1.50 off a 12-ounce bag of ground coffee. At a regular grocery store, that coffee might cost $8.49. That means your price with the coupon would be $6.99.

But at a discount grocery store, you might find that same bag of coffee for as little as $3.99. With your coupon, you’d pay only $2.49. That’s less than one-third the regular retail price.

To find out whether you can score bargains like this at your local discount store, check the store’s coupon policy. If you can’t find it on the store’s website, ask a cashier.

Even if a discount store doesn’t take manufacturer coupons, it may issue its own store coupons. For instance, you can sign up for the mailing list at Grocery Outlet to get deals such as $5 off any $25 purchase. Most limited-assortment stores also offer special deals to subscribers, though Aldi and Trader Joe’s do not.

Bring Cash

Few salvage stores accept credit cards, and some limited-assortment stores follow suit. That’s because credit card issuers charge merchants a fee to use their cards. 

Most stores pass these fees on to customers through higher prices. By refusing credit cards, discount stores can keep prices lower. 

Some stores are starting to relax their no-credit policies. For instance, on my most recent trip to Aldi, I was able to pay with my credit card instead of having to use cash. But to be on the safe side, bring cash or a debit card on your first visit to any new store.

Examine Containers Carefully

At salvage stores, it’s common to encounter food in damaged packaging, such as dented cans. In most cases, the food is still safe to eat. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s not dangerous to eat canned food if the dents are slight.

However, if a can has a deep dent — big enough to lay your finger in — leave it on the shelf. Deep dents can compromise the seal, letting bacteria in.

The same guidelines apply to rust. A little rust on the surface that rubs right off is no problem. However, heavy rust can create tiny holes that admit bacteria.

Food in torn or dented boxes is also safe as long as the plastic bag inside the box is intact. Boxed foods with no inner liner, such as pasta, are OK if the box is only dented. But if a box is torn open to expose the food, it’s best to leave it.

Examine Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at discount grocery stores is a mixed bag. On some trips to Aldi, I’ve failed to find a single bag of potatoes without at least one that was visibly rotten. On the other hand, the bagged Brussels sprouts and miniature avocados at Trader Joe’s have never let me down.

Since quality is hard to predict, it’s best to examine all produce carefully for signs of spoilage before you put it in your cart. In fact, that’s a good policy at most grocery stores. Even at big supermarkets, I often find a couple of mushy strawberries in a quart container.

Understand Expiration Dates

Food at salvage stores is often close to or even past the expiration date on the package. But that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat. Dates on food are there to assure food quality, not food safety. 

There are several different types of expiration dates, each with its own meaning:

  • Best if Used By means the flavor or quality of the food is best before the given date. Past this date, crackers might be a bit stale, or powdered milk might have an off-taste.
  • Sell-By dates tell stores how long to keep the product on their shelves. Food is still good up to this date and for several days after. For example, milk doesn’t go sour until five to seven days past its sell-by date.
  • Use-By dates tell consumers when the product will be at peak quality. They’re not an indication of safety for most products. The only product it’s unsafe to buy or use after its use-by date is baby formula.

Most products, including canned and frozen foods, are still safe after any of these expiration dates. The only time frozen food might be unsafe is if it has been thawed and refrozen. If the freezers at the store have puddles around them or don’t feel cold everywhere, pass them by.

There’s one non-food product on which dates are important: over-the-counter drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration, drugs degrade over time. Any medicine past its expiration date may be unsafe or ineffective.

Know How to Spot a Good Deal

Although discount grocery stores generally offer low prices, they’re not always the lowest possible. Sometimes, you can do better at a regular grocery store by buying store brands or stacking sales with coupons.

The best way to spot the true deals is to keep a grocery price book. It’s simply a record of the prices you typically pay for the grocery items you buy most often.

For instance, the page for peanut butter in my price book tells me that the best price I can usually get is $2.85 per pound at Costco. So if I go to a discount store and see peanut butter for only $2 per pound, I know it’s time to stock up.

Consider All Brands

Salvage stores have a wide variety of brands on the shelves. Some are familiar name brands you know and love, like Campbell’s or Coca-Cola. When you find these, you can take the opportunity to stock up on your favorites.

But these name brands aren’t always available. Often, they carry off-brands you’ve never heard of before, like Banquet mayonnaise or Finest refried beans.

Similarly, when you shop at limited-assortment stores, there are very few name-brand products for sale. Most of the offerings are store brands, though they don’t always have the store’s name.

For instance, Aldi calls its cereals Millville and its snack foods Clancy’s. Save A Lot names its store brands after former employees, like McDaniel’s coffee and Sunny’s cookies.

Don’t discount these brands just because they’re unfamiliar. Some of them are just as tasty as the name brands you’re used to. But you can’t be sure until you try them.

To be on the safe side, buy the smallest package the first time you try an unfamiliar brand. If you like it, you can stock up on it next time. And if not, you haven’t wasted much money.

Stock Up When Appropriate

Discount grocery stores are great places to stock up on goods you use a lot. Even if you can’t use something right away, it makes sense to buy plenty, especially at salvage stores. Their stock is ever-changing, so the product might not be there the next time you shop.

But stocking up only makes sense for nonperishable goods or those you know you can use before they go bad. There’s no point in buying six avocados if four of them are going to turn black before you eat them.

The best products to stock up on are canned foods, shelf-stable foods, and produce with a long shelf life. Potatoes, onions, and garlic can all last a long time if you store them in a cool, dry place. Frozen foods are also a good choice if you have a big enough freezer to store them all.


Final Word

If you don’t like the offerings at one local discount store, don’t let that put you off the idea altogether. Each discount grocery store is different. If you don’t like the store brands at Aldi, maybe you’ll prefer the ones at Save A Lot.

Also, remember that the selection at salvage stores changes frequently. If you didn’t find anything you liked at your local store the first time, it’s still worth going back to see if it has anything better next time.

Shopping at discount grocery stores requires an open mind. The brand names aren’t as familiar, and the packaging isn’t as pretty. But if you’re willing to take a little extra time, these stores offer a way to save money every time you grocery shop.

For more tips on saving at the grocery store, check out our shopping archive.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

When Can You File Your Taxes This Year?

The sooner you file your tax return, the sooner you’ll receive any refund due. That’s why some people like to file their return as early as possible. This year, the IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns on January 24, 2022. That’s much earlier than last year, when you had to wait until mid-February to start filing returns.

If you’re really itching to file your return as soon as possible and made $73,000 or less in 2021, you can use the IRS’s Free File program to file your return as early as January 14. Participating providers will accept completed returns starting on that date and hold them until January 24, when they can be filed electronically with the IRS. Other tax preparation software companies and tax professionals may also accept or preparing tax returns before January 24 and hold them until the IRS itself begins accepting returns.

If you’re more of a procrastinator when it come to taxes, most people have until April 18, 2022, to file your 2021 federal income tax return or request a filing extension. Normally the due date is April 15, but since that day is a holiday in Washington, D.C. (Emancipation Day), the deadline is pushed back to the next business day, which is April 18. However, if you live in Maine or Massachusetts, you get an extra day to file your federal return – until April 19 – because of the Patriots’ Day holiday in those two states. Anyone requesting an extension will have until October 17, 2022, to file their 2021 federal income tax return (although payment of any tax owed is still due on the April 18 or 19 deadline).

Who Must File a Tax Return?

Not everyone is required to file a tax return. If your income is under a certain amount (see table below), you aren’t required to file a tax return because you won’t owe any tax.

Federal Tax Return Filing Requirements (2021 Tax Year):

Filing Status and Age at End of 2021

Income Required to File 2021 Return

Single; Under 65

$12,550

Single; 65 or Older

$14,250

Married Filing Jointly; Both Spouses Under 65

$25,100

Married Filing Jointly; One Spouse 65 or Older

$26,450

Married Filing Jointly; Both Spouses 65 or Older

$27,800

Married Filing Separately; Any Age

$5

Head of Household; Under 65

$18,800

Head of Household; 65 or Older

$20,500

Qualifying Widow(er); Under 65

$25,100

Qualifying Widow(er); 65 or Older

$26,450

However, even if your income is below the applicable threshold, you still may want to file a 2021 tax return anyway. For example, you will need to file a return to claim a recovery rebate credit if you didn’t get a third stimulus check or got less than what you should have received. There also may be other tax credits that are only available if you file a return, such as the:

If you receive monthly child tax credit payments last year, you’ll have to reconcile those payments with the total credit that you’re actually entitled to claim. (Some people may even be required to pay back all or some of the monthly payments if they received too much.)

When Will Tax Refunds Arrive?

If you have a federal tax refund coming, you could get your money back in as little as three weeks. In the past, the IRS has issued over 90% of refunds in less than 21 days. If you want to speed up the refund process, e-file your 2021 tax return and select the direct deposit payment method. That’s the fastest way. Paper returns and checks slow things down considerable.

However, don’t expect your refund before mid-February if you claim the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit. By law, refunds for returns claiming these credits must be delayed. This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with the credits.

Source: kiplinger.com

What Is Earnest Money?

Earnest money is a deposit a potential homebuyer places to signal to the seller that they have serious interest in a property. Also called a “good faith” deposit, this money benefits both the buyer and the seller during the homebuying process.

Purchasing a home involves a number of financial transactions, like saving for a down payment, securing a loan, and paying closing costs. Earnest money is another cost associated with buying a home, but it has the added role of protecting both buyers and sellers from some of the risks associated with a real estate transaction.

  • If the purchase falls through, earnest money helps sellers recoup time lost when the house was off the market.
  • If the contract terms are not met, earnest money is often refunded to the buyer.
  • If the purchase is successful, the earnest money deposit is applied toward the down payment for the home.

Read on to learn all about how earnest money works, how it benefits buyers and sellers, and what these deposits look like in different situations.

How Earnest Money Works

When a buyer is serious about purchasing a property, they use earnest money to signal their intent to purchase it. Although the deal is not finalized at this point, a significant earnest money deposit often prompts the seller to accept an offer, which changes the listing status to “under contract.”

While the amount of earnest money required varies, it frequently amounts to 1 to 3 percent of the total cost of the home. While earnest money is not always required, most sellers do prefer the deposit as a way of finding serious offers, and in competitive markets, a larger deposit provides the possibility of standing out in a crowded field of offers.

When a buyer places an earnest money deposit, the money goes into an escrow account, which means that a third party keeps the funds safe until an agreement is reached. After the house is closed on, the money is applied toward the down payment.

However, the real value of earnest money comes from the way it benefits both homebuyers and sellers.

When Is Earnest Money Refunded?

Earnest money deposits can be refunded in situations that don’t go according to plan, helping to protect homebuyers from several risks.

After the deposit is placed, a buyer and seller enter into a contract to begin the process of changing ownership. This contract describes several contingencies, which are conditions that have to be met before the contract is considered binding.

If any of these conditions are not met, then the contract falls through — and in several cases, the buyer will get their earnest money deposit refunded.

situations-where-earnest-money-is-refunded

In the following situations, a homebuyer will have their earnest money refunded:

  • If the appraised value of the home is lower than the cost to purchase, the buyer can back out of the sale with their deposit.
  • If the home fails inspection, the buyer can leave the sale with their deposit or negotiate a lower price based on the cost of repairs.
  • If the buyer cannot secure a mortgage for the cost of the home, they are able to void the contract and reclaim their deposit.

That said, all of these situations are only covered if these contingencies are specifically laid out in the contract, so make sure to read carefully before signing. In any case, it’s very helpful for homebuyers to know that their deposit can be refunded in situations where the contract cannot be fulfilled by the seller.

Earnest money deposits also benefit sellers, who take on a risk when they begin contract negotiations with a buyer.

How Earnest Money Benefits Sellers

The most obvious way that earnest money benefits sellers is that it provides a clear signal about which buyers are serious. That said, there is an even more crucial way that earnest money deposits protect sellers during the course of a real estate sale.

After a potential buyer has put down an acceptable earnest money deposit, the seller will typically enter into negotiations. As a result, the listing for the home changes to “under contract,” which discourages other potential buyers.

If the buyer backs out of the sale, the seller has lost time that the house could have been shown to other buyers, and they may need to pay additional costs to re-list the house on the market. However, because the seller is given the earnest money deposit in this situation, they are able to recoup some of their losses.

While these deposits may at first seem burdensome, ultimately they are beneficial to everyone involved in the process of buying or selling a home.

Examples of Earnest Money Deposits

In order to truly understand how earnest money works, it can be helpful to imagine some of the main scenarios that occur after a deposit is placed.

three-scenarios-for-earnest-money

After a buyer puts down an earnest money deposit and contract negotiations begin, there are three typical situations:

  1. The buyer backs out: If the buyer backs out of the sale, the seller retains the earnest money deposit.
  2. The contract conditions are not met: Conditions that are not met — like the home inspection contingency or the appraisal contingency — lead to a void contract, so the buyer can walk away with their earnest money.
  3. The sale closes: If the buyer and seller agree to terms and the sale closes, the buyer’s earnest money deposit is applied toward the down payment.

As you can see, earnest money deposits are positive for both buyers and sellers. Sellers benefit because buyers are more committed and financially invested, and buyers benefit because contingencies allow them to walk away from a situation that was not as it appeared. And if the sale closes, the earnest money is applied to the cost, leaving all parties satisfied.

Purchasing a home is an important financial milestone, and understanding earnest money is a great first step in the process of buying real estate. To make sure you’re on track, fine-tune your budget before preparing to buy a home. And once you’ve settled on the right place, don’t forget to consider additional costs like home improvements or home repairs.

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Source: mint.intuit.com