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5 Simple Ways To Survive Your Tax Returns

5 Simple Ways To Survive Your Tax Returns

It’s the time of year again when you start to get worried about not having got your tax returns in order. The chances are that you’re probably worrying about things way too much. You’ve done it successfully before, and you’ll do it successfully again. Here are five simple tips that will hopefully make the whole process a lot less stressful this.

1. Be Clear On The Basics

One of the most silly mistakes you can make on your tax returns is for you to tick the wrong box or complete an incorrect section somewhere. Tax returns may seem quite overwhelming, but they are easily done if you just dedicate a little bit of time to them and allow the process your full concentration when you do go about getting them completed.

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The biggest thing to double check here is that you make sure your filing status is correct. Get this little bit of bureaucracy wrong and you may end with a visit from the auditors. Nobody needs that!

2. Take Your Tax Returns Online

The IRS actually makes life easier for you by offering a number of electronic options. The options that match up with you may depend on your financial situation, but once you’ve got this worked out, these tools are definitely a massive help. A few of the software programs that are available to get your through this year’s tax returns, include TaxACT, TurboTax, and H&R Block.

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You may not have the option of doing your taxes online. If you aren’t part of that lucky group, there are still many other low-cost alternatives that you can take advantage of too.

3. Don’t Put It Off

This might already be a bit of an issue for you this year, but the people who suffer from the least tax returns stress are those that get theirs in early. I know this sounds easier said than done with so much going on these days, but if you can commit to dedicating even one whole day (it’ll probably only be a morning), you’ll be so much happier later on.

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People make mistakes when they are rushing against the clock, and it could even leave you vulnerable to fraud. This is not a good look when you are taking on something as potentially serious as your tax returns.

4. Get Help If You Need It

In much the same way that leaving too little time could end up costing you money, trying to do something outside of your skill set could also end up hurting you financially.

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You are not alone, many people hate doing their tax returns. In a supply and demand culture, this means that there are thousands of people out there just dying to do your work for you. Of course it’s going to cost you a little bit of money, but isn’t that small outgoing worth all of the stress and potential damage that could be caused if you decide to haphazardly do it yourself?

Your small town start-up tax returns might not involve the complexities that call for the need of a big-time New York tax attorney, but wherever you live, there will be a whole host of hard-working professionals ready to make sure you get everything done in order and to your greatest benefit.

5. Imagine How Much You Could Be Owed

With taxes being a very complicated area for most people, it’s quite common for you to be not claiming back tax credits on things that you are perfectly entitled to. When you start to think about your tax returns as an opportunity to grab yourself a nice little bonus, they suddenly seem like an exercise that you should put a little more effort into.

When you begin to look into the many little nuances that make up your tax returns, you might well be amazed about the money you could be saving or due a return on. Even in the worst case scenario, where you don’t get any extra money back, the fact that you’ve paid attention to your returns this year will almost certainly mean that you’ve cut out any mistakes that might have cost you in the past.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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