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4 Actionable Tips On How You Can Lower Your Property Taxes

4 Actionable Tips On How You Can Lower Your Property Taxes

The value of real estate properties have been increasing again and as a result, the assessments on properties are also increasing. As a result, property taxes are also on the rise. High property taxes is not one of the best benefits of owning a home, so homeowners are constantly finding ways to make it appear that their house does not deserve a high assessment value.

There are various ways that you can do to ensure that you would pay a lower property tax, no matter where you are.

1. Present an Unpresentable House

This might sound like a weird advice, but if you are planning on improving your home, it should be done after the assessment for the improvement of your house might have the assessor believe that these improvements have added value to your house.

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Moreover, your property is being assessed based on your neighborhood and if you are living in a house that is considerably better than the other homes located in your area, your property would have a higher assessed value.

Remember that you are trying to reduce the assessed value and not the actual property tax, since your tax rate will be computed based on the assessed value. If you haven’t found a home yet, it might be better to begin your quest with properties that are sold below market value since they would equate to lower property taxes. One site that specializes in finding properties nationwide that are below market value is assetcolumn.com.

2. Request for the Property Tax Card and Review it

The property tax card is held by your local assessor’s office and it contains the essential information that has been gathered on your property. It holds data on the size of the property, the number of rooms and its corresponding dimension, and any material fixtures and improvements done on the home.

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However, homeowner’s do not take advantage of this informational device that probably holds discrepancies that can allow them to apply for re-assessment. No matter how small the mistake is, it is still the duty of the local assessor to correct them and to charge you for the right amount of property tax.

3. Investigate Comparable Assessments

If you want to appeal your property tax, it is better if you back up you case with concrete evidence. Your case will be easier to attend to since you have proof of your argument. All you would need to do is submit photos of comparable homes around your area that were sold recently and the details about the sales. If you are trying to sell your house, you can also submit a copy of the offers you have received on your home as proof of your appeal. If your appeal is based on your gut feel, it is highly likely that it will be ignored. However, if you present an appeal with complete documentations and written support, the re-evaluation would most likely be granted.

One way to find out about the possible offer that I can receive on my property is by using needtosellmyhousefast.com. I have tried using it myself and they called me almost immediately with a direct offer.

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4. Know the Assessment Process

The assessment process begins with the sending out of assessment notice. Since the homeowner would be notified of the arrival of the assessor, it is the homeowner’s duty to be present during assessment so they can point out the problem areas of the home.  If the assessor goes about the assessment on their own, it is more than likely that they will focus on the things that can increase the assessment of the house.

The notice would also carry details on who to discuss their issues with if they complaints, the process on how to make an appeal, and the allowed time to make an appeal. These details can vary per state so you have to be more careful when it comes to reading the assessment notice. According to Vera Gibbons, “You will also be given a specific time frame in which to make your case. Take note because while in some areas you may have a full six weeks to appeal (from the time you receive the assessment in the mail), in other areas, you’ll have as little as two weeks.

Moreover, once an appeal has been granted, it is important that you know the process and present your evidence in a professional manner. It is essential that you show the assessor that you know what you are talking about and you have done thorough research on the matter.

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Finally, when arguing for a lower tax rate, it is vital that you have all the details regarding your argument since the only way to get better results is by having evidence that rest on cold hard facts. The government needs money and they get money from taxes, but it does not always mean that they do not allow the taxpayer to correct their tax rate. Several homeowners have overpriced taxes because they assume their property taxes are final, but if you know the process, you will realize that are capable of changing the amount you pay if you have done sufficient research on the topic.

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Abhay Jeet Mishra

Writer at Lifehack & Enterested.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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