financial organization http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/15450/all en-US Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4095687741_44c827e819_z.jpg" alt="documents" title="documents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s that time of year again, and you may start feeling overwhelmed when you think about getting your paperwork together and calculating your income tax payment or refund. Tax season can cause anxiety for even the most relaxed people! Steady your nerves with this checklist to help you prepare for filing your taxes and go into everybody's least favorite season with an organized plan of attack. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-facts-about-income-tax">15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax</a>)</p> <h2>Gather Personal Information</h2> <p>You need several documents to get started.</p> <ul> <li>Social Security number</li> <li>Spouse's and/or dependents' Social Security numbers</li> <li>Last year&rsquo;s tax return</li> </ul> <h2>Gather Financial Information</h2> <p>As you get ready to file your income taxes, take some time to locate the following documents. If you&rsquo;re like me, they&rsquo;re not already in an organized filing cabinet where they really should be!</p> <ul> <li>Employment W-2s</li> <li>Income statements for self-employment or business, including MISC-1099s and Schedule K-1s</li> <li>Information for any taxes you have paid during the tax year (estimated tax payments, property tax, sales tax)</li> <li>Mortgage interest statement if you own a house</li> <li>College tuition statements, student loan interest, education expenses (if you are a college student)</li> <li>Retirement account contributions or distribution documents</li> <li>Charitable donations made throughout the year</li> <li>Medical expense statements and receipts, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ideas-for-using-your-fsa-before-year-end">medical savings account</a> contributions</li> <li>Job search expenses or moving related expenses</li> <li>1099-C forms, if you cancelled any debt during the year</li> <li>Investment forms for dividends or interest income earned</li> <li>Record of alimony received</li> <li>Health insurance payments (if self-employed)</li> <li>Energy efficient home improvement records and receipts</li> <li>Child care records, if you have children and pay for daycare or babysitters so you can work</li> </ul> <h2>Gather Home Business Information</h2> <p>If you run a business out of your home, you&rsquo;re going to need additional information to complete your taxes.</p> <ul> <li>Records for income</li> <li>Office and supply expenses</li> <li>Utility expenses</li> <li>Total square footage of your home</li> <li>Square footage of your office space or supply storage (so you can deduct a percentage of your utility bill, rent or mortgage, etc.)</li> <li>Car mileage or expense records if you use your vehicle for business</li> </ul> <h2>File Your Taxes</h2> <p>Once you have all of the necessary documents in an organized pile, you will find it much easier to file your taxes, whether you do them by hand or use tax preparation software to help. Even if you enlist the service of a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-hire-a-tax-professional-even-if-you-dont-mind-the-work">professional tax preparer</a>, having everything you need in hand, before you schedule your appointment, will make the entire process easier &mdash; and a lot less stressful.</p> <p><em>What do you do to make your tax filing go as smoothly as possible?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debbie-dragon">Debbie Dragon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-easy-steps-to-keeping-track-of-expenses-for-the-self-employed">Five Easy Steps to Keeping Track of Expenses for the Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records">To Shred or Not to Shred: How Long to Keep Your Tax Records</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-to-hire-a-tax-professional-even-if-you-dont-mind-the-work">3 Reasons to Hire a Tax Professional (Even If You Don&#039;t Mind the Work)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning">Budgeting for People Who Hate Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-you-should-fire-your-accountant">When You Should Fire Your Accountant</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Taxes checklist financial organization tax preparation Mon, 18 Feb 2013 11:25:50 +0000 Debbie Dragon 967771 at http://www.wisebread.com Find Your Hidden Spending Habits and Save http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3688015146_7fc5ef8ed1_z.jpg" alt="freezer" title="freezer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know saving is important &mdash; some of us may have even made &ldquo;Save More&rdquo; one of our New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, though, when the end of the month rolls around, many of us don&rsquo;t have anything left to save. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">37&nbsp;Savings Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>But it doesn&rsquo;t have to be that way; there may be some hidden spending habits you haven&rsquo;t uncovered. I know there are some purchases I still don&rsquo;t believe actually matter much for my budget, such as when I buy a discounted book for my Kindle. But the truth is that all spending matters, and you need to fess up to your hidden habits if you want to put more into the bank &mdash; even $150 more.</p> <p>To that end, I&rsquo;ve gathered up a few common spending hideouts for you to investigate.</p> <h2>Household Cleaning Supplies</h2> <p>I am starting here because I am guilty of this hidden spending flaw.</p> <p>Buying one product for one purpose can get really expensive. Add expensive, pleasant-smelling candles, supposed-to-be-magic carpet cleaners, fabric refreshers, and so on into the mix, and your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-for-spring-cleaning-on-a-budget">cleaning supply bill</a> each month can clean out your wallet.</p> <p>Cut down on your cleaning bill by getting back to basics, using home recipes for effective cleaning. Vinegar alone can clean most of the house. Stock up on ingredients your Grandma used to keep the house clean rather than go for overpriced, ineffective, smell-good products. Imagine the savings you&rsquo;ll have by instead using a gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda.</p> <h2>Grocery Store Meats</h2> <p>I am also guilty of this spending habit.</p> <p>I rely on the grocery store for meats when I have a ton of other options that are more cost effective. We have a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-at-the-butchers">local butcher shop</a> in the area as well as a farmers market where locally-produced meats can be purchased fresher and at a much lower price than their packaged counterparts. I also have the option of buying larger portions of beef or pork from local farmers, which I can use to stock my freezer for months to come, freeing up more cash from the grocery bill that can go into savings. Consider that cutting four $10 roasts a month saves you $40 right off the bat.</p> <h2>Software Downloads</h2> <p>Technology has made it so easy to buy the latest app, game, or song with a brief touch of your finger.</p> <p>You may not actually realize how much these little $.99 purchases add up to at the end of a month because you don&rsquo;t actually look at your credit card statement or review your cell phone bill very closely. If four people in the family are downloading 25 apps each a month, that&rsquo;s at least $100 spent unnecessarily. Make the kids buy their own gift cards for app downloads, and cut off permission to add download charges to your bill for everyone on the plan, including you.</p> <h2>Convenience Products</h2> <p>I should make a T-shirt for myself to remind me that every dollar matters! I still can dismiss that $2 cup of coffee I get before attending my monthly soccer meeting or when heading out to see a friend. Fact is, I have a better brand of coffee at home, but I am too lazy to make it for myself on most occasions. It&rsquo;s easier to stop at the gas station, but it is really ruining my plan for savings.</p> <p>Other <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-inconvenience-helped-me-save-money">convenience products</a> like fast food stops, pre-made groceries, and the like can also be avoided with some pre-planning and a little food prep in advance.</p> <h2>Stuff You Already Have</h2> <p>I swear that when I walk into a Staples store, I hear angels sing. Staples and other office supply stores are a temptation I just cannot resist.</p> <p>Everyone needs new pens, another notebook, and fresh highlighters, right? Luckily, I realize how dangerous it is for me to hit the office supply aisles in any store and do my best to avoid them as much as possible. But I also know I am guilty of falling for &ldquo;great deals&rdquo; on things I already have a ton of at home. Keep your interests in check and know your weaknesses. That $20 you just blew on stuff you already have would have served you much better if it were deposited into savings.</p> <h2>Guilt Gifts</h2> <p>A lot of spending occurs out of guilt. Just because the rest of the office is buying Suzie a gift for her birthday does NOT mean you have to buy too, especially if you can&rsquo;t afford it.</p> <p>Peer pressure can guilt you into spending more than you want to, need to, or should. Take a stand with yourself, and don&rsquo;t fall for the pressure. If you feel the need to contribute to a celebration, offer to decorate her desk, make a card, or have another task that won&rsquo;t cost you money. Let&rsquo;s be honest &mdash; it is far wiser to invest in yourself than to buy useless stuff for people you hardly know.</p> <h2>Get Motivated</h2> <p>Whatever you have to do to motivate yourself, do it. Paste pictures of piles of money around the house to remind you how nice it would look sitting in your bank account. Consider life without having to worry about paying for emergencies. Whatever it takes to keep you focused on savings and related goals, find a way to make it work. If $150 is too high a goal starting out, make it $50 and find a way to get it. Keep adjusting your goals, and aim for a larger cut of your income to be safely stashed in savings.</p> <p><em>What spending habits have you transformed into savings habits?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning">Budgeting for People Who Hate Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-regular-budget-meetings-might-save-your-marriage">6 Ways Regular Budget Meetings Might Save Your Marriage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting downsizing emergency savings financial organization hidden spending Tue, 08 Jan 2013 10:36:33 +0000 Tisha Tolar 961756 at http://www.wisebread.com Budgeting for People Who Hate Planning http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calendar_1.jpg" alt="Woman looking at a calendar" title="Woman looking at a calendar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="148" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Although potentially life-changing, there are two things that most people hate doing &mdash; dieting and budgeting. Whether it&rsquo;s weight loss or a better financial situation that you seek, neither task is easy, they&rsquo;re often frustrating or boring, and it tends to take quite some time before you see significant results. With budgeting, it&rsquo;s more about crunching numbers than crunching abs, but if you hate math or just planning in general, there are several ways to make this important task more exciting. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-less-without-starting-a-budget">How to&nbsp;Spend Less Without Starting a Budget</a>)</p> <h2>Find the Motivation</h2> <p>Your first step to better budgeting is finding a motivating factor that will keep you surging onward even in the face of boredom. I used to dread budgeting too, but after printing up pictures of things I would like to have or do (travel, new laptop, etc.), I noticed a substantial boost in my enthusiasm level. Having these pictures (or just visualizations, if you prefer) with me constantly &mdash; on the refrigerator, in the car, on the bathroom mirror &mdash; was helpful in keeping my mind focused on the goal at hand. We don&rsquo;t live in a fantasy world, though, so in order to achieve our goals, we need to put in a little (or a lot of) effort along the way. Visualizing or seeing your goals in pictorial format serves as a constant reminder why you&rsquo;re planning out your financial future in the first place. If you need an extra &quot;kick,&quot; then perhaps keep a diary or start your own blog to keep track of your process (again, keeping you continuously focused on the end goal).</p> <h2>Seek Inspiration From Others</h2> <p>The Budgeting Babe has an excellent list of <a href="http://thebudgetingbabe.com/budgeting-blogs">budgeting blogs</a> on her website. Check out some of the blogs listed to help you kick-start your own foray into the realm of numbers and dollar signs. And consider starting your own blog or diary (or discussing your budgeting goals with a trusted friend or spouse) to keep yourself accountable for your financial situation, and thus, more likely to succeed.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Make It Fun</h2> <p>Now that you&rsquo;re motivated and being held accountable, let&rsquo;s get down to the actual process. All work and no play makes one a dull budgeter. Challenging yourself to spend under $___ amount in a given category each month can get your mind off the mind-numbing calculations and more engaged with the goal of saving money. If you &ldquo;win,&rdquo; then at the end of the month, go out and splurge a <i>little</i> as your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-frugal-ways-to-reward-yourself-right-now">reward</a>. Just as the dieting process is nearly impossible for most people without a break (comfort food!), budgeting will grow old very quickly if you don&rsquo;t reward yourself for milestones along the way.&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, there are some websites and smartphone apps that can help you compose your budget in the form of colorful pie charts, which are more fun to work with and look at than just a plain spreadsheet. Two of the best websites for this process are <a href="http://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> and <a href="https://pearbudget.com">PearBudget</a>.</p> <h2>Take It Slowly</h2> <p>Again with the dieting references, &ldquo;crashing&rdquo; your way through this mildly unpleasant task is not going to work. In order to maintain a suitable level of drive <i>and</i> succeed in creating a functional budget, you ought to take things in little steps. Phase unnecessary expenses out slowly and factor in a savings category as your excess income builds up over the course of time. Also, fewer categories will help &mdash; not only does this mean there is less to keep track of overall, but it decreases the amount of time you&rsquo;ll need to spend pouring over spreadsheets and bill categorization. Speaking of bills, having as many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments">online payments</a> as you are comfortable with can speed up the initial formation of your budget, producing a low-maintenance, almost-automated system to help guide you through your finances in the future.</p> <p>Budgeting isn&rsquo;t difficult unless you make it so. Take a personal finance class or read blogs if you need added help (coming to Wise Bread is a fantastic start!). With proper planning (with fun elements thrown in), you will have a budget up and running in no time.</p> <p><em>Tell us about your budgeting tips in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kelly-kehoe">Kelly Kehoe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-people-who-hate-planning">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts">6 Simple Ways to Save Money by Tracking Your Receipts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tax-document-checklist-what-to-gather-before-doing-your-taxes">Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt">10 Dark-Side Motivations to Get You Out of Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving">8 Dark-Side Motivations to Start Saving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-one-touch-approach-to-managing-household-finances">A One Touch Approach To Managing Household Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Organization financial organization motivation savings plan Thu, 02 Feb 2012 11:24:11 +0000 Kelly Kehoe 883016 at http://www.wisebread.com