Be prepared when it comes to making life's biggest financial decisions.

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Action Plan: Track Your Spending

The first step to getting your finances on track is to know where your money is going. But that isn’t always obvious: You may have a good handle on your monthly bills, but what about your daily expenses? You may be surprised by how much money you spend on small items—like food and transportation—when you add up your out-of-pocket costs.

Prepaid Debit Cards: Are They Right for You?

The popularity of prepaid debit cards has been rising in recent years, including those endorsed or sold by celebrities. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 7 million consumers use prepaid cards—and that number is expected to rise in the coming years. If you’re considering a prepaid debit card, here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide if one is right for you.

New Mortgage Relief for Military, Veterans and FHA Borrowers

Under this plan, lenders are required to review foreclosures and denied refinancing requests from servicemembers and veterans, among other things. In addition, the FHA is reducing its refinancing fees for borrowers in good standing.

Landmark Settlement on Foreclosure, Mortgage Fraud

Learn more about the agreement the federal government and state attorneys general reached with the country’s largest loan servicers that will provide about $25 billion in relief to troubled homeowners.

Military Homeowners Assistance Program

If PCS orders or the injury or death of a servicemember require you to sell your home at a loss, you might be eligible for the recently expanded Military Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP).

Additional Resources

Home Buying

Home Ownership Pros and Cons
Most people consider buying a home at some point in their lives, while others prefer or choose to remain renters. Others don't pursue home ownership because they're not sure if they can afford it. MilitaryMoney.com explains the pros and cons.

Don't Have the Cash for the Down Payment on Your Dream House?
While brokerage firm websites and brochures often tout the advantages of 100% mortgages, such as allowing investors to avoid private mortgage insurance or liquidating their securities, they may overlook or consign to the fine print the risks associated with these mortgages.

Mortgage Shopping
A mortgage is a product, just like a car, so the price and terms may be negotiable. Shopping, comparing, and negotiating may save you thousands of dollars.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Adjustable ­rate mortgages (ARMs) may have low rates only for a short time. This means that the interest rate and the amount of the monthly payment may go up or down.

Moneytopia: What Makes Up a Mortgage?
Many people think a mortgage payment consists of only two parts: principal and interest. However, there are two more parts: taxes and insurance. Lenders use PITI—principal, interest, taxes and insurance—together with the borrower’s income to evaluate the borrower’s capability to repay the loan. This tutorial includes a worksheet to help you calculate how much house you can really afford.

Closing Costs
Mortgage settlement—sometimes called mortgage closing—can be confusing. This information will help you understand all that is involved.

Private Mortgage Insurance
You will want to be aware of a new law that establishes rights for homeowners and rules for lenders regarding private mortgage insurance (PMI) cancellation.

5 Tips When Considering a Reverse Mortgage
Reverse mortgages allow you to tap the equity in your home. But they have risks and can be costly. Here are five tips to consider.

Home Equity Loans
If you are in the market for credit, a home equity plan may be right for you. Before making a decision, weigh the costs of a home equity line against the benefits.

Car Buying & Leasing

Moneytopia: Buying or Leasing a Vehicle
Transportation is very important. Next to buying a home, purchasing a vehicle is likely to be the largest expense you’ll make, so there are major issues to weigh and decisions to make.

Car Ad Advice
The Federal Trade Commission advises that you read between the lines when you see ads for unusually low interest rates and other special promotions.

Buy or Lease?
The biggest thing to know about the difference between a car loan and lease is this—with a loan, you're paying to own a car. With a lease, you're paying to use a car that's owned by someone else.

Consumer Alert: Buying a Used Car
Before you start shopping for a used car, do some homework. It may save you serious money. Consider driving habits, what the car will be used for, and your budget. Research models, options, costs, repair records, safety tests, and mileage through libraries, book stores and websites.


Free Tax Help for Military Families
Find out about free online and on-base resources to help you file your tax return.

Turn Your Tax Refund Into Instant Savings
Taxpayers due a refund from the IRS now have more ways to save the money they’re getting back from Uncle Sam.