When will you receive your refund? The answer depends on how you filed your return. The IRS should issue your refund check within six to eight weeks of filing a paper return.
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Planning ahead for your finances can save you stress down the road, and ensure the success of your personal and professional goals. Outlining a monthly budget is one of the most effective ways to both organize your finances and chart your progress. The following guideline offers some helpful suggestions to stay organized and motivated as you chart your financial future.
The Importance of Setting Up a Budget
Assessing the amount of money you earn every month after taxes is the first step toward setting up a reliable budget. Next, you should determine how much is needed to satisfy monthly bills and necessary living expenses. Setting up a budget will go a long way toward helping you accomplish your financial goals as you streamline purchases. Splitting your monthly income into three categories is a popular budgeting method. Under this system, half goes toward absolutely necessary expenses like housing, transportation, utilities, and food, 20% covers retirement and debts, and the last 30% is spent on personal expenses, such as entertainment, personal care, or charity, to name a few examples. As far as personal purchases are concerned, you should really weigh the overall value of what you’re spending money on. Is the purchase an impulse? Does it benefit your daily life in any way beyond instead gratification? One popular sentiment many apply to their spending habits is the idea that memories are more valuable than individual material goods.
The Big (and Small) Picture
As you establish your financial goals, it’s helpful to organize a plan that addresses each goal in smaller, bite-sized installments. We can easily overwhelm ourselves with long-term goals, so assessing what can be realistically accomplished within the near future may ensure long-term success. Along with drawing up a budget, creating a financial calendar will help organize your tax schedule, whether you have upcoming appointments or need to remind yourself to pay quarterly taxes on time. This visualization can also help you track long term goals through smaller, more immediately achievable tasks, while also allowing you to track your current status. Knowing where you stand will help you stay current on financial goals. Tracking your net worth can also prevent the resumption of bad spending habits and stop current ones in their tracks.
Making the Most of that 20%
The simple act of listing your debts will help you form a plan of attack. Focusing on interest rates instead of what you owe will allow you to effectively prioritize the payoff of individual debts. The bill with the highest interest rate is costing you the most money, so it should take top priority on your list. Once that debt is paid, apply the same method to the next item.
Preparing for end-of-the-year taxes can be daunting, but understanding good tax-planning practices can help to increase your chances of receiving higher returns on your investments. Income from investments can be one of the best places to look when searching for places to cut costs and increase your revenue. Creating a proactive tax-plan can prevent you from paying thousands of dollars in unnecessary taxes.
While high-income taxpayers are required to pay the most income tax, there are a few practices these individuals can engage in to lower the amount they pay at the end of the year. Purchasing stock for at least one year prevents you from paying additional costs from unnecessary taxes. Allowing your stock to become eligible for long-term treatment helps to reduce the amount you pay in taxes. Failing to hold stock for at least a year causes you to pay short-term capital gains on investments rather than just the 15 to 20 percent of normal capital gains tax, in short paying more.
Regular reviews of your taxable assets make sure you’re aware of all the areas that may be costing you extra money. Routine checks develop good practices and habits that help to reduce what you pay. Reduce the amount of taxable interest, which means reducing the amount of money stored in low-profit areas. Banks give their clients close to nothing, while clients are still required to pay at least half of that interest in taxes.
Utilizing high-profitable places to store your money will not only increase your dividends but also reduce the amount of taxes you pay. Give away assets, that is, giving or donating assets to charities and family members using appreciated stock, may reduce the amount of taxable income you own. Neither party associated in the exchange is required to pay capital-gains taxes when the stock is transferred. Additionally, family members may qualify for a different tax bracket that are lower than your costs, in turn reducing the overall amount of gains lost through the process. Since the New Year is just around the corner, it’s best to engage in proper tax-planning practices to best increase your chances for reducing the amount of money you pay and increase the amount of profit you actually keep.
Saving money is a difficult commitment to make, but it provides benefits in the long run. Life throws unpredictable events at us, and preparing our budgets to account for accidents or emergencies grants peace of mind. Saving is also one way to hold off on wanton spending that drains accounts rapidly. The following tips to save money can inspire balance in your daily financial habits.
Stick to a 30 Percent or Less Rule
It’s hard to save money without setting up a cap on your spending. When payday rolls around and there are new products or items grabbing our attention, it’s incredibly difficult. We recommend setting a limit of 30 percent of your paycheck to spend on entertainment and leisure. This reserves 70 percent use for essentials. Use 30 percent as a starting point and decrease the limit to save even more money as you become more confident in your saving strategy.
Establish Financial Goals
Nothing helps curtail personal spending and establish a direction more than creating a strategy. By writing down financial goals, such as paying off your car by a certain date, you lay a foundation for future success. Knowing where your money flows is liberating and strengthens resolve in saying no to frivolous purchases.
Manage Personal Cash Flow Daily
Dedicating one minute a day to looking over your bank account makes you aware of where you spend the most. This also promotes comfortability in managing one’s finances. Get cash out daily or weekly to keep to a specific spending amount, which is a research-proven technique that keeps your cash account stable. When swiping cards is the go-to, the convenience causes individuals to spend much more.
When new products appear on the market, whether a new gadget or guilty pleasure, it important to hold back the impulse to buy it. Impulsive shopping tends to influence purchasing habits and tricks us into buying items we don’t need.
Pay off Larger Debts First
When paying off credit card debt or loans, it’s beneficial to chip away at a loan with a higher interest rate. If you wait to pay, amounts owed increases exponentially. Although paying off smaller amounts of debt with smaller interest rates seems more manageable, they won’t cost as much as high interest debt. By hedging larger loans and limiting the traction their high interest gains, the debt is more manageable over time.
Do you have questions about which type of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is right for you? When deciding between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, consider factors to such as tax incentives, age restrictions, and income restrictions before making your decision.
One of the main differences between the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA is the tax incentives provided by each. When deciding which is right for you, focus on what tax bracket you plan to be in when you retire and if that bracket will be higher or lower than the one you’re in now.
In addition to considering tax incentives when choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, it is important to keep in mind that with a traditional IRA, there are age restrictions for contributions.
Both traditional and Roth IRAs allow their owners to begin taking penalty-free distributions at age 59 ½. A major difference between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs is when the savings must be withdrawn:
Since Roth IRAs don’t require that you withdraw funds in your lifetime, and beneficiaries aren’t required to pay taxes on withdrawals, Roth IRAs can be a good wealth transfer strategy.
With traditional IRAs, if you are under 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 from your account to pay for qualified first-time homebuyer expenses and higher education expenses, without paying the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. You are still required to pay taxes on the distribution.
If you are under age 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 of Roth earnings penalty-free to pay for qualified first-time-home-buyer expenses, if at least five tax years have passed since your first contribution.
Roth IRAs can be invested in almost anything you want: index funds, lifecycle funds, individual stocks, or other investments.
Remember, whether you choose a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, it is important that you begin contributing as soon as possible to accrue savings, and avoid withdrawing earnings before age 59 ½ to avoid penalties.