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.

Documentation For Tax Season

For some, it may be the most wonderful time of the year- Tax Season! Whether or not this is true for your situation, filing taxes is a civic duty, therefore there is no way out. Here are some of the most common forms of documentation you will need in order to file your taxes. Happy filing!

Personal and Identification

First and foremost, the most important thing you’ll need to have alongside you when filing your taxes is your social security number. This is a form of identification that is used to identify you as a taxpayer, and without it, you will not be able to file your taxes. If you have misplaced your social security number, be sure to contact your social security office. Bringing a copy of last year’s taxes may be helpful to you as well, especially if you’re filing on your own. This will help you answer any simple questions that you may have during the filing process. If you’re expecting direct deposit, bring along your bank account and routing information for an easy way to receive your processed return.

Earnings

A W-2 Form is required to file your taxes as this form shows how much money you’ve earned throughout the year. As long as you bring this form along, your taxes will be simple to file.

Investments

The tax filing process begins to get tricky after you learn where you’ve spent your money throughout the year. If you have any type of investments, such as property, stocks/bonds, or have done any type of freelance work, you should receive a 1099 form in the mail. This form will be required for the tax filing process, as you will enter how much of your earning from your W-2 was paid into taxes for your investments.

Education

If you are recently attending a higher education institution, you will receive a 1098-T form. This from is used to show how much you paid to higher education which will be written off when you file your taxes.

Interest Calculation

A 1098-E form will be sent to you if you have a mortgage, private loan, or debt (such as educational loans).

Records

Throughout the year, it’s important to keep track of records, whether digital or print receipts. Records should be kept for the following; job search/ work expenses (that you paid yourself), medical care payments, contributions or donations, childcare, rental expenses, educational expenses (supplies, transportation, etc.).

Additional

If you receive any additional forms or records in the mail from the IRS, you should bring them along. Your account will be able to determine which forms will be needed, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.