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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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Published on November 11, 2020

10 Best Ways to Save Money Faster and Smarter

10 Best Ways to Save Money Faster and Smarter

People love to talk about budgeting, reducing spending. and investing. But unfortunately, talk is cheap, and poor money management is expensive. It’s easy to talk about the best way to save money, but putting it into practice is a different thing.

What people need to talk about is the practical and efficient ways you can quickly save money to accomplish your goals. After all, they don’t teach this stuff in school.

Here are the 10 best ways to save money faster and smarter.

1. Cancel All Your Subscriptions

Yes, all of them.

Okay, you can keep your wifi and trash. But other than that, cancel all your monthly subscriptions for one month. You will survive, I promise. Better yet, you will realize you won’t miss all of them.

Now that you have had 30 days to examine what you really missed and what you never thought twice about, you can add some of them back in. The others? you never have to think about them again.

This is something you can and should do with every part of your life. If it’s clutter, cancel it. Being able to step back and see what is cluttering your life and what is excelling your forward helps improve your quality of life and financial standing.

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2. Automate Savings From Your Paycheck

Many of us are so excited about getting a new job that we rush through the paperwork during the hiring process. Good news for you, I have had lots of jobs so I have seen it a million times.

There is an option for a portion of your paycheck to go directly into a secondary savings account. This is by far the most effective way to save money every month. We tend to spend most of what we have. So, if we take it off the top first, then it’s less likely to be spent. Just head over to HR and ask. It will only take two minutes.

3. Cancel the Happy Hours for the Rest of the Pandemic

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, which means that there is no better time to buy some drinks from the local store and stop shelling out $5 a drink at the local cocktail bar. When we look back at our bank statements, we are always shocked that fast food and alcohol can add up so quickly. You can easily save a couple of hundred dollars just by taking this step.

A great exercise is to print out your last bank statement and highlight all the areas of alcohol and fast food. The amount may surprise you and make you think twice about that old fashion.

4. Online Grocery Shopping

Some people think online shopping increases the amount they spend. For the most part, I would agree—except for this category.

Online grocery shopping is now a no-brainer, though. Whenever you walk through a grocery store, two things always happen: you always grab impulse items, and you never know the total of your cart until you checkout. This means that we always spend more than we originally planned.

With online shopping, you can see your total as you add items to your cart. You are way less inclined to make those impulse purchases and because of that, I would venture to say that you could even pay to have them delivered to your door and still save money each month by choosing online grocery shopping.

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5. Get a Famzoo Debit Card

This is something my wife and I swear by, and it’s great for the entire family! Famzoo strictly exists to help families and kids budget their money better. Each month, my wife and I have an allotted amount loaded onto our pre-paid Famzoo debit card. This amount has changed every year depending on promotions, kids, stage of life, etc.

The important part is that when you give yourself the freedom to spend a certain amount, you are more likely to only spend the allotted amount. Think of it as a diet. If you are counting calories, you are more likely to stick close to the amount you set. You can also look for some tips online to better stick to your family budget.

6. Purge

This is actually my favorite to do, and it is actually one of the best ways to save money. Raise your hand if you have ever moved. Okay, so everyone.

When we move, we are always amazed at how much junk we have acquired. I have found that about every 6 months, I can find a couple of boxes to sell online of things that we never use. This not only gives you so extra quick cash, but it also keeps your house more tidy and organized.

Now, go clean out that garage!

7. Amazon Subscribe and Save

32! That is how many items I have setup on amazon subscribe and save. Let me explain.

This sounds expensive, I know. But it actually saves us hundreds of dollars per year! We all need toothpaste, shampoo, razors, laundry detergent, toilet paper right? This feature is truly a triple threat. When you have more than 5 items on subscribe and save, you automatically unlock the max savings for every product on your list. This can be up to 20% per item!

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Now, even better is that it ships straight to your door on the exact day you want the item, maybe monthly or maybe you only need it every 4 months. This way, you never have too much or never run out. Either way, it’s totally customizable.

Lastly, there is no contract for any items, which means you can switch brands or items at any given time at no cost. My advice: every single staple item should be on your subscribe and save.

8. Rewards

This may ruffle some feathers, but if you are using your debit card for purchases, you are missing out on free money! We have this notion that credit cards are evil but in reality, they are the same piece of plastic as your debit card.

How you use it can be bad, don’t get me wrong. But if you want my opinion though, ditch the debit card and get a rewards credit card. Use it just like you would your debit card and make sure to pay it off as soon as the statement comes in!

Just to give you an idea of how powerful this can be in terms of money, here are some things that our miles have paid for:

  • 4 nights in Vail with Flight
  • Rental car in Vail (convertible might I add)
  • Flight to Ireland
  • Flight to Hawaii
  • Multiple staycations at very nice Hotels

That’s roughly about 7 thousand dollars in travel expenses so far! Remember that the credit card is just a tool and can be one that benefits you if you use it wisely. Ironically, this can be an effective way to save money.

Pro tip: If you don’t trust yourself carrying around a credit card, then set up all your monthly bills with your credit and leave it in a drawer at home. This way, you rack up miles but don’t get tempted to overspend.

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9. Vacation With Friends

Now, I know travel is hard right now but what a perfect time to go grab an Airbnb in the woods with a couple of friends and detox from the world right now!

Vacationing alone can be pricey and get rather boring quickly, but if you split lodging and set out for a road trip, it can become affordable quickly! For a couple of hundred bucks apiece, you can have one of the most relaxing vacations ever. Don’t forget to pick up your food at the local grocery store to avoid eating out every meal!

10. Make a Budget

When is the last time you updated your budget or made one for that matter? Making a budget is like writing down your goals. If you don’t make a budget, then you will struggle to save.

How can you know if you are spending wisely if you are not tracking everything?

Our advice would be to get a finance app like Mint, Every dollar, or personal capital. All these apps are free and do a tremendous job of tracking spending and budgeting. I still am old-school and have an excel spreadsheet which I do highly recommend.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

The entire goal is to boost your bank account while reducing the effort required. Efficiency is the name of the game, and automation is the key player. Luckily, we live in a world that has more perks than we can ever take advantage of. But if I were to choose a few, it would be the ones above.

Taking on all 10 of these steps may seem a little daunting. You can first try to pick three of your favorite and start there. Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore as long. As we use the tools correctly, it can be quite effortless. And now, you have a great blueprint to get started!

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Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

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