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Likewise, gifts you make to your employees are usually fully deductible. And you might be able to claim a gift expense as a meals and entertainment expense instead to increase the amount of your deduction. These business costs are typically deductible up to 50 percent of the expenditure.

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And you can deduct half the cost of the meal and the tip, too. You can deduct the portion of your automobile and transportation expenses for miles you drive for business purposes. This doesn't include travel costs to another city or location—that's a separate category and it's fully deductible. Transportation costs are those you incur in the daily course of doing business. Your business miles must be separated out from your personal miles.

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This can admittedly get complicated so it's beneficial to keep a log, either in your smartphone or on a notepad stashed in your glove compartment. Here's an example. You run your business from home and you drive 20 miles each way to service a client's computer system. Then you make a side trip of five miles to pick up some dinner on your return trip home.

Technically, you must subtract 10 miles—assuming the meal pickup was five miles each way—from the total 50 miles you drove on that outing. So 40 of your miles are tax-deductible. You can't add that other 10 on. Now you have a choice to make. You can either deduct your actual cost incurred in driving those 40 miles or you can deduct the standard mileage rate of 58 cents per mile as of , up from The standard mileage rate tends to increase a little annually because it's indexed for inflation. If you drove 30, miles during the year overall and 15, of those miles were business-related, your deduction equals 50 percent of your actual auto expenses.

The attorney escrow account holds your down payment for the house. The final part of your purchase involves a number of closing costs associated with formalizing the processing of the mortgage and concluding the transaction between buyer and seller. The title company collects a premium and receives recording fees. In most states, you will also be paying an attorney for closing your deal and representing you as the buyer. Your monthly ongoing costs of buying a home are your mortgage payments, utilities, garbage, property taxes and homeowner insurance. These are predictable or fixed costs.

If you are buying a house rather than an apartment , maintenance, repair, painting and appliances may vary depending on the condition and age of the house.

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This is often difficult to estimate and may depend on your DIY abilities. You will also have other costs for lawn care and snow removal which differ based on your geographic location. Upfront costs are far less. Some landlords will increase additional security or fees for any pets you have for potential damage to their property. There may be an application fee required by the landlord for administrative costs as well as a possible broker fee unless the landlord pays this.

There may be a move-in fee depending on the type of of home you are renting.

Tenants are responsible for monthly rent, all utilities and renters insurance. The landlord will require you to purchase renters insurance. Landlords are required to provide you with at least 30 day notice in most states with any increase in rent unless it is stated as part of a multi-year lease. Before going house-hunting if you are planning to make a purchase, it is a good idea to check your credit report for any errors or issues you need to correct and be aware of.

You should know your credit score and what amount of mortgage you can afford. There are steps you can take to raise your credit score. By the way, your credit report matters to your landlord also. A poor credit report could be a thumbs down on your ability to rent. If your credit score is fair, it may mean providing your landlord with more security. However, a poor credit score has far more of a negative impact on your ability to borrow. Paying your mortgage over time will result in building some equity in your home.

You should be aware that your initial payments are predominantly for interest on your loan, especially if you have a 30 year mortgage, and equity builds relatively slowly. On the other hand, you will certainly be owning your home much more quickly with a 15 year mortgage.

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A mortgage amortization calculator is helpful to compare the principal and interest portions for the 15 and 30 year mortgages. Assume your loan begins September The comparison reveals that more than half of your first monthly payment goes to principal than interest with the 15 year mortgage. However, only about a third of your payment goes to principal with the 30 year. The amount between principal and interest does reach parity until the year and equity rises slowly thereafter until year when you satisfy the 30 year loan.

Depending on your time frame, US new home median prices reflect appreciable growth. That is a 5. However adjusted for inflation, the growth rate is 1. Your investment in your primary home largely keeps pace with inflation rather than generating strong investment returns. When calculating returns you need to factor in the interest costs to total price. That said, you are living in your home and hopefully enjoying a high quality of living which can be priceless for many.

There have broader differences in select markets across the US that exhibit stronger appreciation due to higher population growth, demand and other factors. The US housing bubble was particularly troubling for homeowners in the mid s. While this drop was exceptional, it still provides a warning sign for those interested in purchasing their homes as loss in home values is real.


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However on a positive note, some markets have recovered from the Great Recession and recent housing price trends seem more favorable. Once you have built some amount of equity and have paid your mortgage on time, you may be able to set up a home equity line of credit or HELOC. Often you are able to get a loan more quickly and at lower rates because you are using your home equity as collateral.

Part of these funds could go to building a new kitchen or expanding the house. This is because the HELOC has increased the available amount of credit, lowering your utilization rate and improving your financial situation. HELOC is added debt so make sure you pay this loan on time and in full. However, you or your spouse may need to relocate for your firm for a couple of years, or your kids are moving out and you want to travel more.

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You may decide to rent out your home or list it with Airbnb. It is wonderful to raise your kids in one home, become part of the neighborhood and community. There is a certain calm feeling of not having to search for a place to live and pack and unpack boxes. Having just moved to new home, I can share that I will be immensely happy when our family is finally settled in our home and the last box is gone.

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The tax law did impact some of the tax deductions enjoyed by homeowners. You can no longer deduct interest associated with home equity debt unless it is to buy or improve your home. This is a reduction from unrestricted amounts previously deducted. Certain states, like Florida, offer exemptions if you meet certain requirements. This exemption may protect a surviving spouse when the homestead spouse dies. A homestead exemption is a law that protects the value of a home from property taxes and creditors.

Are you creative? Your home can be a good option for you. There may be some conformity required but design and remodelling is limited by your wallet. You can do gardening and grow vegetables. Owning your pets is easier in your home is easier.

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Your childrent can listen to loud music with less rules of noise after hours. Peace of mind can be very valuable for you and your family. For those who have rented for a long time. Land is a natural resource and there is a good feeling of knowing you own the land you walk and live on. Ask any refugee that has had their home taken away from them what a home meant to them. My mom was a refugee when she came to the US having lost her family. Her home was taken away illegally and violently. While owning a home eluded her, she always considered owning a home a way to wealth.

We addressed the one time and recurring costs a homeowner has to realize but it bears repeating.