Back to Basics: Are You Doing These Things?

With the new year approaching, what better way to kick things off then by getting back to financial basics. The basics are easy to let slip and lose control of if you’re not mindful of them. In order to get back to stable financial ground in the new year, check out the following items and see how you’re stacking up.

Financial Calendar

Kick things off on the right foot by setting up a financial calendar. Set reminders for monthly payments, pulling credit reports, and any other money to-do’s that too often fall through the cracks. Setting reminders keeps your finances in check and gives you the opportunity to look at the year ahead of you. There’s nothing better than being prepared!

Tracking Net Worth

Periodically, it’s a good idea to check in on your overall net worth. Keeping an eye on your net worth is the best indicator of your financial footing. It also will put into perspective your debt versus your assets. If you owe more money than you’d like, tracking your net worth will help you see progress towards your goals in either direction.

Creating Goals

Reevaluating and creating new goals is an excellent way to get back to the basics. Financial goals, big and small, are great ways to get you where you want to be. Identify what you need to accomplish and plan how to attain it. Solidifying goals will give you something to work towards.

Becoming Money Savvy

Finally, take the time to become money savvy overall. You can do this by practicing smart spending, learning new ways to save, and staying on top of finance trends. You can also work on sticking to a budget in order to keep your finances in tip-top shape! No matter what you do, work on improving the way you think and interact with your finances.

Money 2017: How to Start the Year Off Right

If you haven’t already made yourself a new year’s resolution – don’t worry, I’ve got one for you. Make 2017 a year of better financial footing. All you have to do is kick the year off on the right foot and make some adjustments for better finances. There are a ton of things you can do to get yourself on the right track, but we will focus on a few of the bigger ones in order to make the largest impact.

Reevaluate Goals

The first step in tackling your financial new year’s resolution is reevaluating, resetting, and creating goals. Goals are the finish line of your resolution, but you can’t possibly get where you want to be without knowing the end. Goals also give you something to work towards. They will keep you on track and motivated to reach a better financial foundation. Set both large and small goals. Be care to not shoot for unattainable things though, because they aren’t going to do you any good.

Automate Saving and Bill Pay

The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to automate as many payments as possible. One of those payments should be to your savings account. Most living expenses and monthly bills offer an autopay option, so take advantage of it. This will help you pay bills on time and never leave you paying a late fee ever again. Additionally, schedule payments or transfers from your checking to savings. It’s a good way to consistently build up your saving with little effort on your end.

Cash Budgets

Another thing you can give a shot is a cash budget. Many people say it’s much easier to lose track of spending when you use plastic. It makes a lot of sense. Paying for things in cash helps you visualize exactly what you have left to spend. It may also deter you from making certain purchases. You can start small and set a cash budget for things like eating out. If you keep cash on you that only can be used for food that week, you’ll be surprised at how much you save by sticking to it!

Bill Due Dates

Another way to balance your finances is to change bill due dates. Depending on your pay periods, it may be easiest to pay half your bills at the beginning of the month and the rest in middle. Right now you may be tight for the first half of the month because all your bills are stacked at one time. Requesting a change in due dates will help you budget better and leave you with more money each paycheck.

Tax Penalties to Avoid

Tax time will be here before we know it! We talk an awful lot about what you need to do and have in order to file successfully. We don’t discuss enough what you should steer clear of. If you are penalized for any reason, you’ll end up owing more money. Take a look at the top four ways in which people accrue penalties. Be careful to avoid these pitfalls come tax season.

Late filing

The cut off for filing a tax return is April 15th and it’s the same date every year. To avoid receiving a late file penalty, file before the 15th or request an extension if absolutely necessary. Tax season can be stressful, but starting early to get everything completed before April 15th will save you some money and frustration.

Nonpayment Penalty

It’s not enough to just file your taxes by the 15th. You also need to pay your taxes by then as well. If you avoid paying what you owe by April 15th, you’ll end up owing a penalty equal to .5 percent of your due taxes. If that still is not unpleasant enough, you can end up owing up to 25 percent of your tax balance for nonpayment.

Math Errors

Most common on pen-and-paper tax returns, math errors can end up costing you. If you have poor math skills and end up paying less than the actually owed amount, the IRS can charge you interest on the remaining balance until it is paid off. Do yourself a favor and double check your math, file electronically, or hire an accountant.

Incorrect Charitable Donation

For non-cash donations, such as clothing or furniture, it’s imperative that you have proper documentation. When it comes to non-cash items that you plan to claim, make sure you have a copy of the itemized receipt. If you do not have proper documentation, you can be penalized during an audit for up to 25 percent.