Posted on

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

Tax Tips to Lower Your 2016 Tax Bill

You still have time to cut your taxes — and make smart moves to lower next year’s as well. As a certified CPA myself, I am swimming through a pile of tax returns for my clients! I wanted you to have some good info on how to lower your 2016 tax bill, if you haven’t filed yet.  Here are some effective tips from SANDRA BLOCK, Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Most taxpayers approach the tax-filing deadline with a mixture of fear and loathing. But this year, there are reasons to be more sanguine. For one thing, because 2016 was an election year, Congress didn’t tinker much with the tax code. If your personal circumstances didn’t change last year, your tax bill probably won’t change much, either. And if you’re a do-it-yourself filer, you don’t have to get up to speed on a slew of new rules.

Because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C., you have until Tuesday, April 18, to file your federal tax return.

VIDEO: How to Prepare for Tax Season

Here are some ways you can still trim your 2016 tax bill, plus potential speed bumps.

Contribute to an IRA.

If you’re not enrolled in a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, you can deduct an IRA contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older), no matter how high your income. You have until April 18 to make a 2016 contribution to your IRA.

Fund a health savings account.

You also have until April 18 to set up and fund a health savings account for 2016. To qualify, you must have had an HSA-eligible insurance policy at least since December 1.

Get credit for tuition payments.

The American Opportunity tax credit, worth up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college, is a valuable tax break for parents of college students.

Health care housekeeping.

President Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it was still in effect in 2016, so you’ll have to deal with it on your tax return. To avoid a “shared responsibility payment”—longhand for a penalty—you must prove that you had qualifying health insurance in 2016 or were eligible for an exemption.

Want to investigate these ideas  a little deeper? Additional details HERE

Posted on

Spring Cleaning Your Finances to Make Life Easier

The Money Nerve

There is something refreshing about the advent of spring; it’s officially time for reviewing and renewing! This week, we take a look at spring cleaning your finances.

Ask, “WHY,” before spring cleaning your finances

Why do you budget, save, spend, insure, invest and plan the way that you do? Are you happy with how your finances are working for you? Write down some clear and definitive ideas to sweep away old habits and create a more satisfying result.

Review your budget

Balance all your bank accounts and take a second look your past six months of credit card charges to see if all adds up correctly and that there are no billing errors.

What??? You don’t have a budget. Today is a good day to write down your income and your expenses. With that knowledge, you can now plan and direct your dollars into more focused streams!

Set a few primary, short-term goals

For example, you could set a goal for paying off the credit card with the lowest balance. Set yourself up to hit your new objectives. As you achieve success with your smaller financial projects, you gain confidence to complete larger intentions! And that is a win-win for you and your wallet!

Clear Out the Clutter

Take a serious look at everything you own. Give deep thought to want you want to be most important in your life. Set up actions steps to turn that visual intention into reality. Too much stuff? Distill it down. It’s easier to take care of less. And you keep what is most valuable to you. Too many accounts to manage? Pare down to three accounts, now you have more money at each institution and have created more “klout” for yourself. Utilize direct deposit and automate a small percentage to savings each week.

Streamlining your efforts help to clear your mind, and allow you to focus on creating a proactive life. You will find that spring cleaning your finances, and stating goals result in intentional living.

Find more #moneynerve tips – Enjoy this new vodcast: Funny Money Talks!

Posted on

Setting Your Financial Mindset, Five Ideas for Drastic Change

The Money nerve

Setting Your Financial Mindset

Money is a part of our lives, we all plan how to spend it, and we all plan to save it!

Today, we look at some fiscal challenges and offer tools for setting your financial mindset. Emotions and old habits can rule your decisions about money. Here are some challenges people have in managing their money and a few suggestions for shifting toward a new “money” mindset.

See if these issues sound familiar:

1. I Don’t Have Enough Money

2. I Will Never Get Ahead

3. I Don’t Plan; The World Will Bring Me Good Fortune

4. It’s Not My Fault; Nobody Taught Me

5. I Don’t Have Time to Budget

It is easy to drift on an endless journey when you have no plan, goal or destination. When you are ambiguous about the direction you want to go, cruising on autopilot will never result in the “real-life” successes you dream about.

Five ideas for making drastic change and setting your financial mindset:

Enough Money

Before you can determine whether or not you have enough money, you will need to know how much money you make. Many people will use their full salary to plan their expenses, but forget to consider taxes and social security deductions. Under-estimate the money coming in and over-estimate your spending.

Never Get Ahead

Focus on positive choices each month, and eliminate the resignation and depression that come from reacting to financial headaches. Choose how you want to delegate your dollars. Change the way you view money by thinking of money as a choice, not a dictator, in life. If you have $100, you have the power to delegate a third for saving, a third for eating lunch out 2 or 3 times and a third for bills.

The World Will Bring Me Good Fortune

Well, I am a firm believer in sending out positive vibes and seeing that energy coming back my way. However, I also know that when I have an action plan to support that attitude, I am more successful. It is no suprise that the people who plan their days and work the plan seem to luckier than everyone else! Set aside five minutes to write down the main focus for your day or your week, and set yourself up to your best advantage. No one can help you better than YOU CAN!

It’s Not My Fault

Take a good look in the mirror, you are the CEO of your life. Take a truthful look at your assets and your bad habits. Explore where you can make small changes that will move your life toward a more abundant mindset. Making intentional choices creates a feeling of independence and eliminates the need to blame others. Every choice you made in the last five years resulted in where you are today. If you are not happy with your life, snap out of the routine of non-decision-making. Begin making new choices that will give life to the dreams and goals you have.

Don’t Have Time to Budget

People are so busy, being busy, that they often mistake insignificant activity as being more valuable than a scheduled chunk of time for planning. It’s a bit of a paradox, but setting aside 30 minutes a month to review your finances and make a plan for the next month, can actually save you time and money. Just jotting down your monthly bills on an index card and slipping it your wallet, will help you stay on track. Dividing your spendable dollars into envelopes is another good idea for seeing where money flows.

We all have the opportunity to create the life we dream of, it takes a little faith, a plan and choices to make it happen. A goal is merely a dream with a deadline. Go for it!

Posted on

Convert a Lucky Break into Positive Change

Lucky break

A Lucky Break!

Imagine you landed a brand new job, won a $100,000, or just got the raise and promotion you have been wanting. You may tell others, “Whew, that was a lucky break!” The world often offers us a shot at a new opportunity, but we don’t always reach for the golden ring. An open mind can convert that moment of opportunity, that lucky break, into positive change.

Fear of Success

Some people are fearful when they succeed. They don’t believe in themselves. When good things happen in their life, they wait to see if others have discovered they are “fake.” People who feel they are not worthy think everyone else has life figured out. Any success they achieve is viewed as a fluke of nature, and will probably never happen again. By fearing the success they crave, any meaningful movement forward becomes an illusion. They are unable to flip a chance of a lifetime into a life of possibilities.

Living in the Past

Many of us still hear voices from the past. Maybe our parents said we failed or that we would never amount to anything. Tuning into old or negative thoughts keeps us captive by clouding our minds. If there is too much baggage rattling around in our brains, it becomes harder to hear the new possibilities. Let’s look at breaking that mindset.

Learn to Say YES!

As long as people deny new experiences, the door to opportunity will stay shut. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” When Lady Luck drops an unexpected gift in your lap, use the chance to create momentum and excitement for the future.

Learn to say yes by changing your mental perspective. If your answer to any question or request is always no, stop and think before you reply. Take a moment to think about the possible outcomes before committing to others. Give yourself the power to visualize different options.

Know Your Value

Examine your value. Explore how to capitalize on your lucky break and spread the abundance to build long term benefits. You got the new job, so now is the time to sign up for the company assisted 401K retirement plan and invest in you. Another important step, set up an automatic deposit to funnel 5% of your salary into a dedicated savings account.

Congratulations, you won $100,000! After you pay the taxes, maybe you invest 10% of the money, quit renting and purchase a new home. Now would a good time to begin a college fund for your children. All of these actions will “pay you back” in the long run.

Finally, you got the raise and the promotion you wanted. Celebrate, go out for dinner and drinks! Continue to live off your old salary. If you have credit card debt, use the overage to pay it off. Open a second savings account to save for travel and your next car – what a treat to pay for a big vacation or a new vehicle with cash!

Stepping Stones of Success

Luck comes to all of us in very small and huge chances. Are you prepared to take advantage of that? A chance to take on more responsibility at work can be your lucky break. Creating new protocols in your industry can boost your career. A side hustle fulfilling a childhood dream can propel a fabulous small business. Be open to the abundance that each of these moments has – you can convert a lucky break into positive change.