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Archive for December, 2013

7 Ways To Start The New Year Off Right Financially

As we get down to the end of 2013 we want to thank those of you who are clients of ours and of course thank anyone who has been reading some of our posts on this blog. One of the best things about being a smaller accounting business is that we get to establish more personal connections with our clients. Your success or comfort is ours as well, and we appreciate any opportunity to help and work with you that we can get.

Numbers And Finance
Creative Commons License Ken Teegardin via Compfight

It’s in that vein that we give some general tips on financial planning, spending, budgeting, taxes, or other things that, because 2014 is right around the corner, is a good way to start planning for your financial future, or addressing some things in your past. We don’t call these resolutions because we’re not trying to change you just to change you. We hope to make you think about some financial aspects of your life and how you can feel more comfortable with just a few changes; okay, 7 changes. Here they are:

1. Plan on saving some money this year. You may have said this to yourself in the past but now is as good a time as any. If you could find a way to put $10 away somewhere in your house each week and not touch it that’s $520 in a year. It may not sound like a lot but it’s a start. If you can put away more, good for you.

2. Plan on paying off at least one credit card this year. If you only have one credit card that’s a good thing but if you have more than one, work on a plan to pay one of them off. Every credit card bill you receive tells you how much you need to pay to get your entire balance clear in 3 years. If you can afford to add a bit more to that you’ll pay it off sooner, and if your balances are relatively low, get it paid off even quicker.

3. Plan your necessary spending on a monthly basis. We didn’t want to use the word “budgeting” but that’s what it is in a sense. If you know what you normally spend you’ll know how much you have available for other things. Since your monthly bills don’t regularly change all that much you only need to do it once, and January is a good time to do it, thus planning for things you want or need becomes easier.

4. Plan at least one pleasurable event a month. Having to go austere all the time, even when you don’t have much extraneous cash to spend, will drive you nuts. Having something to look forward to, no matter how small, can make things more bearable. Remember, though the cost of movies are going up, not including snacks you can still see a movie for less than $15, in some places less than $10 (for instance, in the Syracuse area there’s a theater that plays recently new movies for under $2 during the week), as long as you avoid 3D.

5. Research things you want online for price comparison. Even if you don’t want to buy an item online, it’s smart to see what multiple stores are offering on items so that you know if you’re getting a good deal or being cheated if you want into a store. It’s so easy to research everything online these days that there’s no excuse for not doing so.

6. Plan your tax contributions better. If you’re someone who’s good at managing your money or investing, claim a dependent more than you actually have and do something positive with the extra money, forgetting about the refund because you’ll earn more than you might end up having to pay that way. If not, then think about going the other way, claiming one less dependent than you have, allowing the government to take a little bit extra, and then determining how you want to use the refund money you have coming.

7. Put a little money away for “extra things”. This year, with the health care bill kicking in, if you’re not used to paying deductibles up front for medical care you might want to think about ways to help yourself into it. This is something you should have been doing anyway because who plans for appliances to up and die or something to suddenly go wrong with your car? To save yourself on credit cards and the like, it’s comforting to have a few extra dollars to help you get by.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your New Years Eve, be safe, and let’s look towards a monetarily comfortable 2014.
 

Time To Think About What To Put Together For Next Year’s Business Taxes

Back in September 2012 we had a post titled Are You Preparing For Next Year’s Taxes. In that post we gave some general ideas of things you should have started preparing early to give to your accountants, or to have if you’re doing your own taxes, for the next year. Since it’s hard to get people moving that far in advance we decided to do it in December this year. So while you’re thinking about Christmas or other holiday gifts, keep these things in the back of your mind:

1. Mileage. We had mileage in our previous post but we’re taking it a bit further. Our hope is that you at least kept a calendar of all your business events and travel for the year, even if it was just meetings or business luncheons. Maybe you kept receipts from the post office or Fed Ex; if you had to drive to those places that counts as business mileage. Educational seminar; you can use the mileage for that as well. If you’ve kept up with it all on a monthly basis this will be a snap; if not, well, it’ll take some time, but it’ll be worth it.

2. Receipts. Do you keep all your business receipts in one place? Are they in order? They don’t necessarily have to be for some accountants but if you can help out they’ll appreciate it. If you work in a home office do you have expenses that your business takes a chunk out of such as internet access, utility bill, cellphone bills or things like that? Hey, every little bit of expense helps.

3. Amount of pre-paid taxes. Whether you’ve paid a lot or a little, it all helps your accountant figure out just what you owe. You might have to indicate it on a bank or credit card statement but hopefully you’ve kept track of it in some fashion.

4. Advertising and other business expenses. Sometimes people don’t think about this as a business expense if all that was done was printing some letters and mailing them out but if you spent money doing it, it counts. If you have a website how much as you paying for hosting and for your domain name? If you paid someone to write for you that’s another expense you get to claim.

Just a few things to help get your mind thinking about expenses to help you pay less on your taxes in the coming year; good luck.