Spring cleaning usually means we go through our closets and garages to get rid of the stuff that has just been hanging around. This can also be a great time for new beginnings and positive changes. Here are a few spring cleaning suggestions to freshen up your finances:
Fine-tune your budget
A budget is a plan for your money, but even the best laid plans have a tendency to go awry. A regular budget check can help you stay on top of your spending behavior and make any necessary tweaks.
Check your savings account & come up with a savings plan
The target for liquid emergency savings is generally three to six months’ worth of household expenses, dividing the amount you need by the next 12 months. This will give you a manageable amount, like $100 to $150, that you can set aside monthly until you reach your goal.
Bump up your retirement contributions
Spring is a great time to reassess and potentially boost your contributions for the rest of the year. Don’t forget to take into account any promotions or bonuses when thinking of ways to increase your contributions.
If you can add these spring cleaning tips into your life, you will be much happier for years to come.
Are you as amazed as I am at the amount of paper generated by doing our taxes? Keeping receipts, statements, payments made, and all other manner of tax documentation can create a small mountain each year. So how long do you need to keep all of your tax return documents? Here are some tips:
Most taxpayers: Three years
The statute of limitations for an IRS audit expires after three years. That means most taxpayers should keep their tax records for three years after the date they filed their return, or two years after they paid tax – whichever is later.
There are three exceptions to the IRS audit time limit.
The agency can go back six years for an audit if you under-reported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
The IRS can also audit returns that claim a capital loss on worthless securities or take a deduction for bad debt, up to seven years after the return was filed.
If you didn’t file a tax return or filed a fraudulent one, there is no statute of limitations for an IRS audit. In these cases, keep all your records indefinitely.
The IRS also recommends taxpayers hold onto employment tax records for at least four years after the date that the tax is due or paid – whichever is later.
With stocks, bonds or property, maintain records until you sell the asset. For instance, you may need this documentation to determine depreciation or amortization as well as calculating a gain or loss after the sale.
Our shred-a-thon is March 30th from 8:00-12:00, at our offices at 1111 Douglas Ave. Altamonte Springs, Fl. Limit two banker’s boxes per person please.
You know me, I love a bargain. With spring upon us, there are a number of things that are great to buy right now, and some that are not. Here are my favorites:
March is Frozen Food Month, so manufacturers and grocers pump up promotions.
Ski and snowboard season is coming to a close, so take advantage of retailers’ need to clear out old merchandise and make room for the new.
Now that snowbirds have returned and winter travel season is over, it’s time to replace that old suitcase. Consumers will find luggage bargains in March.
Wait to buy these items:
In general, March is not the best time to buy electronics. With the Super Bowl long gone and the holiday rush a distant memory, bargains are scarce on TVs. Buys these in February.
Gym memberships are also a bust in March. Gyms are still packed with clients trying to meet their New Year’s resolutions while getting ready for bathing suit season.
The vacuum industry is well aware that consumers are raring to start spring cleaning in March. Turns out, the best time to score a vacuum deal is November.
So have fun shopping, but if you buy off-season items, you will have more to save for your retirement.
I have never had this happen before, but I was just issued an incorrect 1099. I don’t want to pay any extra on tax that I do not rightfully owe, so what is the remedy?
How to fix an incorrect 1099;
Getting a 1099 form corrected isn’t always an ordeal, but the key is to act quickly once you discover a mistake. Though issuers generally have until the end of February to file 1099s with the IRS, that deadline is extended to March 31 for forms that are filed electronically. So if you act quickly enough, you might manage to catch the issuer before that form reaches the IRS in the first place.
When preparing your tax return, please check your documents carefully as well as checking your math.
Many people think they cannot afford to max out their 401(k) contributions. Many others do not think about contributing to their own account beyond what their company will match. I am asking you to reconsider these decisions. One way or another, the funds are coming out of your paycheck, either it is going into your 401(k), or it is going to the IRA in the form of payroll tax. Let me suggest a way you can afford to increase your contribution.
By maxing out pre-tax 401(k) savings at $19,000, a dual-income married couple can reduce their taxable income by $38,000. At the 25% tax bracket, that equates to a rough estimate of $9,500 in tax savings. 401(k) investors, of course, will have to pay taxes when they start withdrawing their 401(k) savings at retirement. And, seniors still employed can save $25,000 each.
The bottom line: the more you save in your 401(k), the more you save on your taxes.
Many people think they cannot afford to max out their 401(k) contributions. Many others do not think about contributing to their own account beyond what their company will match. I am asking you to reconsider these decisions. One way or another, the funds are coming out of your paycheck, either it is going into your 401(k), or it is going to the IRA in the form of payroll tax. Let me show you that you can afford to increase your contribution.
By maxing out pre-tax 401(k) savings at $19,000, a dual-income married couple can reduce their taxable income by $38,000. At the 25% tax bracket, that equates to a rough estimate of $9,500 in tax savings. 401(k) investors, of course, will have to pay taxes when they start withdrawing their 401(k) savings at retirement.
The bottom line: the more you save in your 401(k), the more you save on your taxes.
As we start a new year with many changes to our Government, many investors want to know what direction the markets will move. Economic forecasting has been around for ages, but to what level can it be taken seriously. The Guardian recently reported:
While accepting the Nobel Prize for economics, Friedrich Hayek made an astonishing admission. Not only were economists unsure about their predictions, he noted, but their tendency to present their findings with the certainty of the language of science was misleading and “may have deplorable effects”.
I think that it is important to read forecasts from many different sources to help guide your investment decisions. I think it is equally important to know your risk tolerances, time horizons, and with the help of a Certified Financial Planner Professional™, you pick quality investments that with regular review and rebalancing, keeps you on track for retirement.
My Daughter and Son-in-law are getting ready to buy their first house. Being my Daughter, she is getting her ducks in a row. She called yesterday to ask where she can go to check their credit scores. There are a number of places to do that, but be cautious as not all “free” sites are truly free. Here are a few places to look that I am comfortable with:
Each year you can check your credit for free with the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreort.com. Make sure you are at the site offered through the Federal Government, otherwise it will not be the free site.
www.creditkarma.com is another site that is free and I have tested it. The site is comprehensive and private.
Many credit card companies now offer a free credit score with your account. Check your card service to make sure their service is truly free.
Being informed as to your credit rating is important, so know yours before you buy.
It’s the best time of the year! It can also be the most stressful and expensive time of the year. I want you to have a wonderful, less stressful holiday by following these tips:
Make a budget. I know you are sick of me talking about budgets, but they work. Decide before you shop how much you will spend on each person on your list, then stick to that budget. This has proven to be the biggest stress reducer during the holidays.
Look for deals in travel. Many people go to their hometowns for the holidays, others use the time for family vacations. Plan now for next year’s trip, then set up alerts to track airfare and hotel pricing.
Plan for tips. Many of us have people in our lives that make them move along like well-oiled machines. Your lawn people, the house cleaner, a personal trainer, maybe even a pool person. Each of these people provide a needed service to you and should receive a holiday tip. When putting together your holiday spending budget, please remember the tips for those who keep your life humming along.
These are all simple things that can make your holidays, and epically the months afterwards, much more enjoyable and less stressful.