2019 Study: Moving Interstate Could Save (or Add) Up to $7,700 On Your State Tax Bill

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Totaling up moving costs when you’re moving out of state can leave you with sticker shock.

With a typical interstate move costing about five times more than a local move, you might be wondering if it will pay off.

One way to gauge the payoff of moving out of state is looking at how well it will set you up for financial success. A big part of that calculus is how much moving between states could lower (or increase!) your tax bill.

HireAHelper’s latest study compares taxes on income, sales, and property in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We found that moving between states can have a big impact on your tax bill. If you were to move from the state with the least taxes to the most, for example, you’d owe around $7,760 more in taxes each year!

Key Findings

Tax Study
  • Where you choose to live could cost you up to $7,760 per year in additional local taxes. That’s the difference between the highest estimated state and local taxes in the District of Columbia, at $9,730, and Tennessee with $1,970.
  • Alaska has the lowest effective tax rate, with combined income, sales, and property taxes equal to 3.94% of a typical resident’s income. New York had the highest with an 11.93%, a effective local tax rate. That’s a gap of 7.99 percentage points in tax liability.
  • Across all 50 states, the average local tax bill was $4,066. This includes an average income tax of $1,655, property taxes of $1,538, and $873 in sales taxes. The average effective local tax rate is 8.2% of income.
  • State income taxes are the biggest indicator of local tax burdens. Of the 10 states with the lowest tax bills, eight levy no state income tax on earned income: Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, South Dakota, Alaska, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
  • By contrast, the highest state income tax burdens were found in Washington D.C., at $4,781; Oregon, at $3,724; and Hawaii, at $3,272. Oregon also had the highest effective state income tax rate, at 7.30%, followed by Hawaii at 6.29%.

Where Total State and Local Tax Bills Are the Lowest

The very first statistic you should know about is “total taxes”. We made an interactive heat map with the total combined tax burden of each state’s income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes.

The total state tax cost in each state

If you want a low tax bill, a smart strategy to get one might be to move to one of the nine states that levy no state tax on earned income:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Among these states, New Hampshire is the only one that didn’t land among the 10 with the lowest total tax burdens. That’s no surprise, consider that of the three types of taxes we looked at, the average state income tax bill was the highest. With income taxes costing more, it’s also where locals stand to save the most.

Here are the 10 states that had the lowest dollar-for-dollar tax burdens:

  1. Tennessee: $1,970
  2. Nevada: $2,002
  3. South Dakota: $2,112
  4. Florida: $2,131
  5. Alaska: $2,274
  6. North Dakota: $2,617
  7. Texas: $2,859
  8. Washington: $2,886
  9. Louisiana: $3,027
  10. Wyoming: $3,095

Where State Taxes Are the Lowest, Compared to Wages

But that’s simply the total tax costs. Here’s an interactive map with the average effective tax rates, which means each state’s income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes compared against the state’s average annual wage.

The effective state tax rate by state

We calculated the effective local tax rate, or the total tax burden as a percentage of the average wage in that state, to get a more complete picture of living expenses, due to outside factors that affect the cost of living.

For example, lower local wages would keep income taxes down. And low property taxes could be the result of a state real estate market with lower costs of living and property values.

Here are the 10 state where incomes are the highest, compared to their total state taxes:

  1. Alaska: 3.94%
  2. Nevada: 4.45%
  3. Tennessee: 4.52%
  4. Florida: 4.76%
  5. Washington: 5.02%
  6. South Dakota: 5.18%
  7. North Dakota: 5.44%
  8. Texas: 5.87%
  9. New Hampshire: 6.10%
  10. Delaware: 6.11%

The Top and Bottom State Income Taxes

Tax Study

As stated in the last section, unsurprisingly the top states tend to be those that levy no income tax. All nine of these states tied for the No. 1 spot for the lowest state income taxes.

After these states, however, which offer low state income tax rates? Here are the 10 lowest tax rates levied in all 50 states.

Curious about the states with the highest effective income tax rates? Only three states managed to have total state income taxes that totaled more than $3,000—and had effective state income tax rates above 5% to match.

Washington D.C. has the largest state income tax bills, dollar-for-dollar—but these are offset somewhat by higher local wages. Oregon, on the other hand, has some of the steepest tax rates that sets an effective tax rate of 7.30% on the state’s average wage.

Here’s a look at the 10 states with the highest effective state income tax rates:

  • District of Columbia: $4,781
  • Oregon: $3,724
  • Hawaii: $3,272
  • New York: $2,985
  • Massachusetts: $2,943
  • Connecticut: $2,818
  • Virginia: $2,620
  • Minnesota: $2,527
  • Colorado: $2,503
  • Illinois: $2,495

Top States With the Lowest Sales Taxes

Four states levy no sales taxes: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Alaska is also the only one of these states where a local and municipal sales tax is charged; in the others, there’s no sales tax at the state or local level.  

Here are the top 10 states with the lowest average combined state and local sales taxes:

  1. Delaware: 0%
  2. Montana: 0%
  3. New Hampshire: 0%
  4. Oregon: 0%
  5. Alaska: 1.43%
  6. Hawaii: 4.41%
  7. Wyoming: 5.36%
  8. Wisconsin: 5.44%
  9. Maine: 5.50%
  10. Virginia: 5.65%

You’ll need to watch for higher sales taxes in some states, however. The highest state and local sales tax rates are found in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Tennessee’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is 9.47%, while Louisiana’s is just behind at 9.46%, and Arkansas levies an average 9.43% sales tax.

The States With the Lowest Property Taxes Per Capita

But what if you’re planning to become a homeowner (or buy property) in you destination state? Property taxes might be a top concern. Comparing property taxes fills in the picture of what your tax burden could be in a given state, and can help you anticipate how much they’d add to your housing costs.

Here are the 10 states where the property taxes per capita are the lowest:

  1. Alabama: $548
  2. Oklahoma: $699
  3. Arkansas: $712
  4. New Mexico: $768
  5. Kentucky: $775
  6. Tennessee: $836
  7. Delaware: $860
  8. Louisiana: $887
  9. West Virginia: $915
  10. Idaho: $944

Property taxes are highest in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. These are the only three states where the collected property taxes per capita top $3,000.

New Hampshire also happens to be the only state that levies no state income or sales taxes, which means that it carries low tax burdens despite high property taxes. But for New Jersey and D.C. residents, these high property taxes pile onto high income and sales taxes from their states, too.

Full Rankings of State Tax Burdens

Tax Study

Moving is always a lot of work—but planning a long-distance move can be particularly back- and budget-breaking. Check out the differences in the taxes you pay now and the taxes you’d pay in your state destination. You’ll know whether you can expect to come out ahead or will have more tax costs to plan for after a move.

See exactly where your state ranks inside the full rankings of all tax burdens by state. You can sort the table by clicking column headers.

Methodology and Sources

HireAHelper surveyed state income taxes, state and local sales taxes, and property taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to estimate the total tax burden for a typical resident.
State income taxes were calculated based on each state’s mean wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) May 2017 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, using SmartAsset’s income tax calculator.
Sales taxes were calculated based on the average combined and local sales tax rates in state, as reported by the Tax Foundation in a January 2019 Report,  and assuming a spend rate of 27.5% of the state’s mean wage.
Property taxes were sourced from the Tax Foundation’s State & Local Property Tax Collections per Capita, FY 2016. The Tax Foundation calculated these amounts by averaging out property tax revenue collected in each state across the state’s population, to get a per capita property tax.
We calculated and added up the tax burden in each state according to the above, to find the total bill for income, property, and sales taxes. Effective tax rates were calculated as each state’s total state taxes as a percentage of the local mean wage, per BLS data.

Header illustration by Marlowe Dobbe

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?

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If the thought of another $100-plus monthly expense is keeping you from buying renters insurance, you should know a renters insurance policy isn’t likely to cost nearly that much.

The average cost of renters insurance in the U.S. was $188 a year, or just over $15 a month, in 2015 per data from a 2017 report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), ranging from a high of $262 to a low of $114.

Now that you know that the cost of renters insurance is closer to a car wash than a car payment, read on to learn more about how that number is determined:

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost in Each State?

Given that your neighborhood and building type can influence your premiums, it stands to reason the cost of renters insurance varies dramatically across state lines. Keep in mind, though, pricing gets more granular than that, and the cost of renters insurance can also vary dramatically across any given state.

With that caveat in mind, here are the average annual renters insurance premiums in each one as of 2015, per the NAIC:

 

State Avg. Annual Premium
Alabama $242
Alaska $172
Arizona $191
Arkansas $214
California $202
Colorado $166
Connecticut $201
Delaware $156
District of Columbia $158
Florida $195
Georgia $226
Hawaii $201
Idaho $155
Illinois $173
Indiana $183
Iowa $146
Kansas $177
Kentucky $172
Louisiana $249
Maine $147
Maryland $161
Massachusetts $196
Michigan $203
Minnesota $144
Mississippi $262
Missouri $180
Montana $147
Nebraska $149
Nevada $189
New Hampshire $150
New Jersey $171
New Mexico $191
New York $202
North Carolina $154
North Dakota $114
Ohio $185
Oklahoma $242
Oregon $166
Pennsylvania $156
Rhode Island $179
South Carolina $192
South Dakota $121
Tennessee $210
Texas $241
Utah $149
Vermont $155
Virginia $153
Washington $169
West Virginia $186
Wisconsin $132
Wyoming $153
United States $188

The most expensive states for renters insurance

The unifying theme here: Extreme weather. Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama are coastal and susceptible to strong storms, while Oklahoma has a tornado problem.

  1. Mississippi: $262
  2. Louisiana: $249
  3. Alabama & Oklahoma (tie): $242
  4. Texas: $241
  5. Georgia: $226

The cheapest states for renters insurance

Conversely, the states with the cheapest renters insurance are much more insulated from extreme weather and natural disasters. Is it worth moving to cut your renters insurance rates? We’re gonna go with … no. But it’s good to know about state-by-state disparities if you’re planning a move so you can account for the cost difference in your budget, or just understand why cousin Beth in North Dakota is paying so much less to insure her apartment than you are.

  1. North Dakota: $114
  2. South Dakota: $121
  3. Wisconsin: $132
  4. Minnesota: $144
  5. Iowa: $146

What Determines the Cost of Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance provides protection for your belongings, plus some liability coverage for good measure. Renters insurance rates are determined by a few factors, some of which you can choose, and some of which you can’t.

Renters insurance cost factors that are set by your circumstances:

  • Your location: Renters insurance rates can vary widely by location (see the table below) and can even vary within cities and neighborhoods and property by property (older buildings tend to cost more, while newer buildings with more security and safety features can garner lower premiums).
  • Your credit score: Your credit score influences a lot of the rates you’ll get in your financial life, and renters insurance is among them. A good credit score is considered a sign of financial wellness and is a big factor in lowering your premiums.
  • How much stuff you have: Generally, the more value your home inventory has, the more it’ll cost to insure. We’re saying value because, while having a lot to insure generally costs more, the total price of your possessions is the real driver here. So a two-bedroom full of Ikea furniture may be valued less than a studio full of Eames.

Renters insurance cost factors that are set by your choices:

  • How much coverage you want: More coverage costs more money. If you’re willing to accept lower payouts in the event of a claim, then your premiums will be lower. And if you’re willing to gamble that your entire vintage guitar collection isn’t covered, then you’ll save some money upfront. But if you want higher coverage limits and additional riders for expensive items (and you probably do), expect your premiums to be higher than if you just had a thrift store bed and a beater guitar.
  • How high (or low) you want your deductible to be: That’s the amount of money you pay out of pocket before your coverage kicks in. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium.
  • How you want to be paid in the event of a claim: Actual cash value renters insurance will pay you the value of belongings at the time of a claim, not the price you paid for them or the price it would cost to replace them. Replacement cost renters insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing the item at the time of the claim. Replacement cost renters insurance pays out a lot more if you need to file a claim, but it also costs more.

How Do Coverage Choices Affect Price?

Since your circumstances are generally set, it’s your choices about coverage that allow you to have some leeway over the rates you’ll get. Find out how your choices can change your premiums.

What does a basic renters insurance policy cost?

The average renters insurance policy costs between $120 and $190 a year. These basic policies generally offer $25,000 personal property coverage, $100,000 liability protection, and a $500 deductible, though those numbers are just ballpark figures and your particular insurance company’s basic coverage may be different.

Some examples of what a basic renters insurance policy will cover:

  • At least part of the replacement cost of a laptop that gets fried by a water damage from a burst pipe.
  • Some coverage for medical expenses if a friend gets hurt making a smoothie in your apartment — plus some court expenses if that friend decides to sue you.
  • Coverage for personal property that is stolen when you’re away from home.
  • If a covered event renders your apartment uninhabitable, your policy will also pay additional living expenses so you can stay in a hotel during repairs.

Check out our deep dive on what renters insurance does and doesn’t cover.

What is the cheapest renters insurance you can buy?

The cheapest renters insurance will have the least amount of coverage. If you opt for low coverage amounts for personal property (say, $10,000), personal liability ($100,000), and medical payments to others ($1,000) and you choose a high deductible ($500 to $2,500), you can conceivably get renters insurance for as little as $5 to $8 a month.

Learn more about how to buy cheap renters insurance online.

How much does more coverage cost?

As you up the coverage limits of your renters policy, you also up your premiums. But remember, renters insurance is super affordable, so even huge leaps in coverage can result in just a few more dollars a month.

For example, if you increase to the most common coverage amounts — $25,000 for personal property, $300,000 for personal liability, and $2,000 for medical payments to others — your premiums can still often be under $20 per month.

You can also purchase riders to increase your coverage for specific belongings, so if a basic policy only covers $1,000 worth of jewelry but you have a $5,000 ring, a rider could make up the coverage difference.

Riders are also available to add to your policy that cover you and your belongings in more situations. For example, renters insurance policies don’t cover earthquakes, but you can purchase a rider so that you will be covered in the event of a seismic disaster.

These additions can be as low as a few more dollars a month, or in some cases, even less than that.

Read more about popular renters insurance riders, floaters, and endorsements.

How can you save on renters insurance?

You can lower your insurance rate by increasing the number of safety and security features in your home. Many renters insurance companies offer discounts if you have one or more of the following features in your home:

  • Local fire/smoke alarms (sounds in home)
  • Central fire/smoke alarms (alerts monitoring system)
  • Automatic sprinklers
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Local burglar alarm (sounds in home)
  • Central burglar alarm (alerts monitoring system)
  • Deadbolt lock

Some companies also offer discounts if you bundle your renters insurance plan with another plan, like auto insurance, or if you pay your annual premium at once instead of monthly.

Finally, another huge way to save: increase your credit score. This one takes time, but as your score gets higher, you can get better renters insurance rates.


Colin Lalley is a writer for Policygenius, an online life insurance site with one purpose: “To get people the insurance coverage they need and make them feel good about it.”’ Please note that this editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you. 
This post originally appeared on Policygenius.

How Does the New Tax System Affect My Moving Business?

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“You’ll be able to file your taxes on a postcard” was the claim made by more than one person during the final weeks of 2017 when the new tax bill was being wrangled out.

If you follow politics at all, then 2017 seems so long ago.

“[The] postcard concept is out the window,” says CPA and financial advisor Mark Kohler. “Tax advisers are going to be even more critical for the small business owner.”

Okay, so what’s going on now? We can offer all sorts of moving industry advice, but we’re less (see: “legally”) confident in our tax advisory expertise. But that caveat aside, here are a few key takeaways from the recent tax reform that a small moving company owner may find interesting.

Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, LLCs and S-Corporations

This probably includes just about everyone in the HireAHelper mover community.

You do not get any sort of break in the form of reduced taxes. Instead, these “pass-through companies” – meaning companies where income passes through to the company owners who report said income on their individual tax returns – are now able to deduct 20% from that income. This may be of interest to you, depending on how your individual taxes pencil out. (The charts in this Investopedia piece may help.)

However, any earned wages from your business that you report are excluded from your “QBI (Qualified business income). In other words, if you pay yourself wages out of your business income (a scenario most likely if you are an S-Corporation), you can only deduct your 20% from the business income that passes through to you as an individual. (Yes, this sort of set-up is ripe for abuse, with people adjusting their wages or salary in order to reap the biggest tax break.)

Also, if you are pulling in more than $157,500 as a single filer or ($315,000 for joint filers) you may not be eligible for the full 20% deduction, depending on how your business is classified (i.e., personal service versus employee-based). If that is the case, your best bet here is to consult a tax expert.

Deducting Costs For Trucks

Easier to comprehend is the change in how businesses can deduct the costs of depreciable assets – like vehicles, hand trucks and four-wheelers.

Whereas before, deductions for capital expenses would be made over several years, now you can deduct the full cost of any and all equipment you purchase from your taxable income for that year (up to $1,000,000).

This is perhaps the biggest boon for small business owners, as it helps ease the financial burden of purchasing the equipment that can help those owners increase productivity and grow their businesses. If you have been putting off buying that truck or updating your equipment inventory, you may now find your procrastination rewarded!

Changers For Your Customers

But for us, the most significant change in the tax code might be one that is directed not at us, but at our potential customers: As part of the tax reform, individuals will no longer be able to write off their work-related relocation expenses.

Now, could this mean that fewer people will be moving for work? Possibly. But how many have that choice? The more likely effect is that this will encourage more people to look for ways to save on their move.

Which could benefit all of us in the HireAHelper community, no matter which tax bracket we’re in.

Have a prosperous year everyone! (And good luck on your taxes!)

Moving Paperwork 101: How to Organize, What to Keep, Who to Contact

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Listen, we are organized people.

At any given moment, our countertops are usually cleared of clutter, our files are neatly kept in labeled file folders, and our medicine cabinets are filled with colorful baskets of bathroom essentials. Organizing is our jam, mostly because we can’t take the stress that comes with living in a state of disorganization.

But recently when Bridget bought a new house and put her old house on the market, she became immediately bombarded with moving paperwork, emails and electronic files that quickly had someone who prides herself on her organization … feeling overwhelmed! All of the documents and information streaming into the mailbox and inbox were so important, yet it seemed like a whirlwind of information was getting lost in the shuffle. Not good.

With that in mind, today we’re diving into:

  • Who you can expect to hear from when you begin to move
  • What paperwork you need to keep tabs on, and
  • A few quick strategies that will help you keep track of your sanity (and those important docs!)

First, we go over the two different methods that helped me, then we get into the details about what you’ll be organizing (and with who!)

The Organization Must-Do’s

Create your official “Moving Binder” for the hard copies of paperwork.

No matter if you’re just moving, just selling, or possibly even both, the paperwork is bound to come streaming in right away. Heck, even when your home hits the multiple listings service (MLS) market or your name is given to a loan company, your address is often shared with businesses in the moving industry so they can start marketing to YOU. Some of these documents you receive in the mail are bogus and won’t really help you, but some coupons or information can be very helpful for your upcoming move. New furniture, carpet cleaners, deals on boxesyou name it and you’ll probably receive some type of paperwork for it. 

That’s why we think it’s important to set up a binder/folder system that will keep all of the hard copies of these important docs safe and together. You should immediately discard any information that is junk, but any paperwork that is important should be filed in this binder right away. We would also recommend adding a spiral or paper in the binder so you can take notes as you go. You can even add an envelope into the binder in order to save your receipts as you make purchases. Having this system in place before the paperwork gets out of hand is essential. Also keeping this binder out of the moving boxes and with you (even on moving day) will ensure you have access to paperwork up until, during, and even right after your move.

Start an official email folder for moving stuff.

Not only will your mailbox outside fill up quickly, so will your inbox! No one likes a cluttered inbox, yet sometimes it’s hard fielding all of these emails when they seem to never stop coming. Your lawyer, realtor and loan agency are going to bombard you with time-sensitive instructions for you to follow in order to move forward in the process. And if these emails get overlooked, you may have a serious problem!

We recommend starting a folder (at least one) in your inbox to start sorting out these important documents. You can always print the really important stuff to add to your binder, but also having the electronic copies of these items accessible and in one spot will be a lifesaver down the road!

But what exactly will you need to sort via email? Allow us to give you the heads up on which documents you’ll probably be receiving so you can have a better understanding of how you can manage your system accordingly.

Who Will be Contacting Me Before My Move?

The professionals that will be filling your inbox most frequently are your realtor, your real estate lawyer, your lender, and the insurance agent (and anyone from those respective teams of people). Although they will all eventually work on your behalf, communication with all of them is crucial for an on-time closing.

The Realtor

Right after the seller accepts your bid on a new house, you will most likely receive important documents from your realtorsuch as:

  • A copy of the home’s signed contract
  • Any correspondence about the property from the seller
  • A scanned copy of the receipt of earnest money
  • A timeline of the next steps (deadlines for the inspection, lender’s approval, home owner’s insurance, and written mortgage commitment)

Most of these documents can be saved and filed in the binder and/or electronic file folder. However, we would definitely suggest printing out the timeline for the upcoming deadlines. It’s imperative you meet the outlined deadlines so your closing isn’t delayed! Having these dates printed out and marked on your calendar will help you do this. We also want to remind you to ask your realtor about any questions you may have throughout the process because they are very familiar with this process and should act as your coach over the next 45-60 days. If your realtor is unsure of the answer, the next person on our list is the next best coach to guide you to your closing.

The Lawyers

Alongside realtor papers, you’ll probably simultaneously receive the following documents from your real estate lawyer and their team:

  • An introduction to the upcoming closing process, the timeline, and the fees associated with the attorney services
  • A request to sign and return a contract to work together throughout this deal
  • A request for you to send over additional information about the property including whether or not this is going to be your full-time home, the correct spelling of all buyers’ names as they will appear on the loan and/or title to the property, your current address, phone number, current marital status and your lender’s contact name/information.
  • Property Appraisal
  • Any negotiations that take place after the inspection with the seller
  • Any inspection problems that have been addressed by the seller (with receipts attached that identify proof of work)
  • Tax escrow information

Yep, it’s a lot! (That’s why you need to organize first!)

These steps need to be completed and returned almost immediately if you feel comfortable moving forward with this law firm. If you don’t, it is time to secure a new attorney immediately. You need this team right away, but you don’t want the time sensitivity of the process to force you to work with someone you aren’t comfortable with.

The Lender

While your lawyers are working closely with the realtor and the seller’s attorney, the lender is busy reviewing your finances in order to eventually approve your home loan. You can’t move forward with the contract on this property until your loan has been “cleared to close”, which is a process that can take up to (and even over!) a month. It’s a lot of stuff to cover, but here’s the information the lender will need over that month:

  • Permission from you to order the property’s appraisal (with fees associated, which is about $300-$500)
  • An itemized list of all of the updated documents he or she needs in order to update your loan and get that “clear to close” completed in time for your closing date. This paperwork will include (but is not limited to)
    • Copies of your 30 days most recent consecutive pay stubs
    • Copies of all of your W2 forms/1099 forms
    • Complete copies of your personal federal tax returns with all schedules/pages
    • Complete copies of your 2 months most recent consecutive bank statements for all assets
    • Copy of retirement funds
    • Copy of your most recent homeowner’s insurance renewal information, if you decide to purchase, non-contingent on the sale/close of your current home
    • Copy of Earnest Money Check
    • Proof of a homeowner’s insurance policy in the new home (needed two weeks prior to closing)
    • Copy of your Photo IDs for the Patriot Act
    • Signed and dated letter of explanation to confirm your intent to occupy the new property as your primary residence, if you are purchasing non-contingent on the sale/close of current home
    • Updated printout/activity of your bank account showing your Earnest Money Check clearing your account

Some of the paperwork you won’t be able to produce until right when the lender needs it (i.e., most recent paystubs, the Earnest Money Check, etc.), but some of this paperwork you probably already needed for the pre-approval process. We would advise you to put all of those documents into your moving binder system so they are easily accessible when your lender asks. This will save you tons of stress and will keep the process running as smoothly as possible.

The Insurance Agent

You’ll also need to provide proof of insurance on the new property around two weeks before your closing date. Therefore, you’re going to be in close contact with your homeowner’s insurance agent to secure this coverage.

You’ll need to send her the MLS information about the house. If you want to be considered for a few discounts, you may need to provide additional information (and proof) of the age of the roof or the home’s mechanicals. Make sure you ask your insurance provider about these opportunities so that you can save as much money as possible on your coverage!


Realtors, lawyers, lenders … oh my! The month before your move is a busy one that comes with a lot of paperwork, emails and new items on your to-do list. It can be overwhelming, even for an organized person like myself, so having a plan before the flood of information starts is key! Also knowing what to look for in your mailbox or inbox will help you get a better sense of how to stay organized and what you can have prepared in advance. The last thing you want is a delayed closing date because you missed a deadline. Use these tips so you avoid that at all costs.

Married and Moving In: What Does That Mean for My Money?

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Getting married and moving in with your partner is a significant turning point in both your lives. But in the process of packing up and combining all your worldly goods, things can get a little bit hectic. You may have found your dream home, but this is just the beginning – in the midst of all this excitement, you shouldn’t forget to keep a critical eye on your personal finances.

Things can get a little weird, so with that in mind, here are a few money protips to help you navigate life as a newlywed.

Clear the Air and Tell Eachother Your Debts

First things first: communication isn’t just crucial for your feelings! Openly communicating about finances is a massive step towards keeping tension out of your marriage.

Make no mistake: money is (perhaps unsurprisingly) one of the biggest causes of stress in relationships. So be honest and forthcoming with each other about your finances prior to moving in, so you can work on a plan to move forward together. That means laying all your cards out on the table. Make sure to discuss:

  • Your spending habits and priorities
  • What you each carry in terms of debt
  • Your credit standing
  • Current investments and income
  • Your goals are for the future

The more you communicate, the better you’ll be able to negotiate your financial landscape as a team.

Knowing What’s Mine and What’s Yours: What’s Separate in the Eyes of the Law

The distinction between separate and shared marital assets differs from state to state. In general, assets acquired before marriage, as well as gifts, inheritance and personal injury awards are considered separate.

Most other assets, specifically those acquired during a marriage, are seen as shared. This includes retirement accounts (like IRAs or 401(k)s), businesses, properties, income and investments. However, remember that some of these assets will be assessed differently depending on whether you live in one of these common law or community property states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

This can totally affect how you handle those assets, so read the links and be prepared!

Do You Share Debts Too?

In common law states, assets owned by only one spouse are legally considered separate, which can provide what’s sometimes called an asset protection advantage.

Those community property/common law states I talked about earlier, on the other hand, treat both spouses as equal contributors to the family unit, regardless of individual income level, which means they divide all assets 50/50. This includes everything earned or purchased during the marriage years, no matter if the deed, title or account registration is only in one person’s name. This also means that here, debt or liabilities acquired by one spouse are shared equally by both.

Yep, that means in the event that you want to override your state’s property laws, you’ll need to hire a lawyer to draft a prenuptial agreement. This will stand in court even if you move between states that apply different property laws.

‘Till Death (and Taxes) Do Us Part

Tax laws can be complicated, so make sure to do some research to determine whether you should file jointly or separately as a married couple. It will highly depend on factors such as children, rate of income and even nationality.

Filing jointly means your tax liability will likely change, pushing you into a lower or higher bracket. However, even with a higher tax rate, there are benefits. Married-filing-jointly couples receive exemptions, deductions and credits not available under other statuses. Adjusting your W-4 to the married rate or claiming the additional allowance also reduces the taxes withheld from your paycheck. Plus, spouses are also allowed unlimited tax free gifts to each other, which can affect how you handle larger assets.

Add it All Up – Together

One of the most proactive steps you’ll need to take is to – for real – sit down and make a mutual budget. This will keep both of you accountable to the shared responsibilities you’ll now have, so you don’t fall into debt.

Even if you decide to put one of you in charge of the finances, it’s still important to create a plan together. List all of your expenses, most of all including:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utilities
  • Food and entertainment
  • Car expenses
  • Loan and credit card payments
  • Savings and retirement contributions

Discuss individual needs or preferences and make sure you come to a compromise in areas where you disagree. You’ll also need to decide whether you’ll split everything equally, or have each person contribute a percentage to the household based on their earnings.

Save for a Rainy Day

Finally, build an emergency fund! This is critical in keeping your marriage stable when life gets rocky, and is severely lacking on most people’s ledger. It is guaranteed to come in handy when the car breaks down, the basement floods or a family emergency occurs. It will also protect you during job losses, serious accidents and extended illnesses.

There’s no way to predict what or when these events will crop up, but one thing is for sure: something always does. Make this a priority so an unexpected life event doesn’t end up driving your marriage into the ground.

Moving into a new home together as newlyweds can get a bit daunting as you’ll have to do things a bit differently. Make sure you take the previous tips into consideration when planning out your finances for your new life together – it’ll make many of your future issues a lot easier to deal with so that you can focus on each other and your marriage.


Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, where she continues to live and work.

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