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How to Manage Your Budget Like a Tax Accountant

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How to Manage Your Budget Like a Tax Accountant

Tax accountants don’t get into trouble at the end of the year because they prepare continuously for the tax season, and you can be just as organized as the pros when it comes to your budget and taxes. Here are a few tips and tricks from the experts that will keep your accounts in order.

Get Organized (Now)

Stop procrastinating. The main tip from professionals is to start organizing your budget and receipts right now. For most people tomorrow is a myth that never comes, and when we say we’ll organize our budget tomorrow it never happens. So, here’s what you need to do:

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  1. Look at the clock and consider your schedule for the rest of the day.
  2. Determine one 30-minute block of time you can spend organizing your budget.
  3. Stick to this scheduled slot. Work quickly, organizing for thirty minutes, and then stop.
  4. Repeat this process tomorrow, and every day until you are organized.

Choose a Place for Your Documents

When you have one designated place for all of your financial documents, it’s easier to keep track of them. When bills arrive, place them in your determined area immediately, and when receipts make their way home in bags, file them the same way. By doing this, you’ll ensure that everything you need of a financial nature is readily available when you’re ready to start organizing each day.

Learn to Organize Like the Pros

Once you’ve started sorting receipts and bills each day for thirty minutes, you might wonder if there’s an easier way. Here’s what the experts do to keep their budgets in order:

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  • Buy a filofax that has a tab for each month, and sort your receipts by month.
  • Get a calendar and note each bill’s due date. Check this calendar each day to see which bills are upcoming.
  • Use handy software to fill in each of your monthly bills, credits, and reoccurring payments. Find out what your monthly savings could be if you cut out some unnecessary expenditures (such as eating out, or cable).
  • Make a plan to save a percentage of your income (experts recommend 10%).

Experts and financial gurus like Mark Weinberger don’t get successful or rich overnight—they plan and prepare, just like you should be doing.

Make Apps Do the Work for You

If  keeping track of your finances manually isn’t an option, consider one of the following apps:

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  • Mint – You can consolidate all of your credit cards, bank accounts, savings accounts and other investments within this one app. Mint will also set a budget for you, let you know of upcoming bills, and tell you when you’ve gone over your budget.
  • BillTracker – Keep track of your upcoming and outstanding bills with this simple-but-handy app.
  • Shoeboxed – This genius app lets you take a photo of your receipts, and then processes and organizes the data so you can ditch the hard copies.
  • Most major banks have apps you can connect with your online banking; check with your banks and credit card companies for any apps they offer.

Get Serious About Your Future

Tax accountants have plans for the rest of the day’s budget, as well as for their retirement, and you need to be just as serious about your own finances. Once you have your daily finances organized and you’ve begun to organize like an expert by using tools and software, all that remains is savings. Find out what kind of retirement plan you are comfortable with, and plan for it. Whether it’s a company savings plan or a personal goal to save 10% of every paycheck and invest in mutual funds, you need to start today.

Your finances don’t have to be confusing or messy; all they require is a little attention and organization. With just 30 minutes a day of focused organizing and sorting and a few free online tools, you can easily become a tax accountant’s dream client: informed, prepared, and ready for the unexpected.

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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