Stale Green Light

Are you prepared for a change in the green?

  • Jan 27

    Tax season is right around the corner and for some reason it feels like it came sooner that it used to.  The prepared people have organized their stuff as it came in so when April comes around they do not have to scramble.  Most people (normal people) are not prepared, so here are a few things you should do now to get ready.

    You should have received a W-2 or W-4 or whatever form you need from your employer.  If you have not already, you should request it at about this time so you can get started on the paperwork.

    You also need to gather up all of your receipts (including the online ones-print them off) and organize them by date and then by category.  Having them sorted out will help you and your tax accountant determine what you can deduct and what you cannot.

    Remember that deductions are your friend and you should get as many of them as possible.  Keep in mind how much you spend on your kids for school, food, clothing, etc. and just start deducting.

    You should also keep track of any donations you made to the Salvation Army, Good Will, or to your religious congregation.  All of these things need to be counted so that you get the most back from your return.

    If you recently purchased a house, a car, appliances, a computer for work, etc.  Keep all of the receipts!

    Get all of this stuff in order and in a nice, neat folder and take it to your tax accountant.  You can do it yourself too, but hiring someone else to do the dirty work is so much easier.

  • Jan 18

    So the New Years Resolution was to save up the finances, gain some interest in the savings accounts, and prepare for whatever big thing you need money for.  Having money in the bank is a great way to get your finances in order, but there are other steps you should take to make yourself financially secure.

    Some would argue that building  up your credit score to a number over 700 is even better than money in the bank.  That is because, realistically speaking, the average person cannot buy a house, or a car, or any other big thing without taking out a loan.

    Having a higher credit score allows you to take out that loan easily and with lower interest rates that you have to pay every month.

    Typically, by the time someone pays off their 30 year loan of 200,000, they have really paid three times that amount because of high interest rates they are required to pay with their mortgage payment each month.  A high credit score means lower interest rates, and less money to have to pay the bank for your home.

    The start of a new year is a great time to apply for a credit card that you can use sparingly and strategically to build up your credit score.  This piece of plastic is not an excuse to buy more, you should still be saving a lot, but you should use it for purchases you would typically make with cash.

    For instance, you were going to spend $50 in cash for your groceries this week, but instead you make the purchase with the credit card instead.  You have the money, you just decide to use the card so that 1) you can put a balance on your account and 2) get some free points or rewards from the company just for using the card.

    Having a balance on your card for one month and then paying it off will increase your score because the bank knows you are keeping good on your word and will pay off your debts.  You still need to keep a budget and take care of your finances, you just get the added bonus of free stuff and lower interest rates on loans down the road.

  • Jan 3

    The beginning is here.  It is now 2011 and it is time to start on that New Years resolution we talked about before.

    The holidays are completely over, the eating must be controlled, schedules put back in order, and spending patterns back to frugality.  This all happens now that the new year has started and we need to start off on the right foot.

    We now have several months before we need to start spending money on vacations and tuition so take this all important time to safely put away that paycheck every two weeks.  Schedules will help you curb your insane holiday spending sprees at the mall.

    Now that vacation is over, everyday you will be at work and school, and for one month you will be at the gym a lot.  All that free time that you had for the past two weeks is long gone, which is actually a good thing – for your bank account at least.

    Now you can get back to regular eating patterns and mundane schedules, where you keep track of everything you do and need to do.  Structure and stability are the key to financial success.

    Put your money in the bank and let the interest add up in your savings account.  Keep track of you budget and stick to it!  You will appreciate  your frugality in a few months when you saved up enough to go to Cabo with your friends this summer.