So you don’t buy a lot of expensive stuff, you buy groceries and pay your bills, purchase school supplies and clothes for your kids. Once in a while you might go out to eat or take the family to McDonald’s.
So where has all the money gone? You deserve a little pleasure in life but is it these few, small luxuries that are eating up all of your hard earned money?
You might think that your rent, student loans, mortgage or utility bills are the reason, but actually your biggest expense is your taxes. If you don’t think that can be true, give it a little thought… You have to pay federal and in some cases state income tax, there is property tax, payroll tax, sales tax, tax at the gas pump and it seems to go on forever.
Here are a few tips to help you change your largest expense to your largest saving opportunity:
Use your taxes to save money? — Using your taxes to actually save money is undoubtedly a new idea for you. There’s a good chance that you have missed out on ways to save on your income taxes in years past. Don’t worry, there’s some good news for you: Those savings you missed out on, they aren’t lost forever.
Let’s say find out that you have not taken advantage of some deductions or tax credits that you were entitled to, no sweat, all you have to do is file an amended return to claim an additional refund. By and large, you have three years from the date you filed your tax return to file an amended return. So, it’s possible to file a claim for refund for the last three years of tax returns if you find an error. This is a great way to improve your cash flow, and it’s a great example of why you should meet with your tax advisor throughout the year. (hitchedmag)
Seek the advice of a financial counselor. — Everyone can benefit from a trusted advisor, someone to guide them through the good times and bad. An advisor can help you with your main goal, becoming as debt free as possible and becoming financially responsible. …that’s not your goal? Well, it should be!
Remember, the professionals at DebtHelper.com can explain the benefits of a debt management program and provide you with a fresh start.
One of the biggest long-term benefits of the debt management plan is the reduction in interest. Reduced interest allows you to pay off your principal balances faster while saving you possibly thousands of dollars in finance charges.
In order to determine if you are eligible for a debt management program, you can fill out an online budget application form now and then you can contact one of their Certified Personal Finance Counselors© at (800) 920-2262.
Don’t forget the credits for your kids. — Gather up all of the expenses related to your kids, childcare medical expenses, 529 plan contributions, tuition payments, whatever. Then when tax time rolls around, have your tax preparer explore every tax credit that might be available to you, such as the child care credit, child tax credit, and the earned income credit. For older children who are in college, you must consider the education tax credits, such as the Lifetime Learning Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
If you have young kids and are seeking the best savings option available, consider a 529 plan. Although you do not receive any federal tax deduction for the contributions you make to these plans, the distributions are generally tax free to the extent that you use them to pay for qualified higher education expenses. For example, assuming you contribute $10,000 to a 529 plan in the year your child is born and this amount accumulates to $30,000 by the time the child is ready to attend college, this entire amount can be used free of tax if used for qualified higher education expenses. Neither you nor your child will be taxed on the profit made with this money. (hitchedmag)
Gift giving. —You can take advantage of gift giving to help prevent losing some of the value of your estate to taxes. For 2013, the gift tax exclusion is $14,000 per year. This means you can make a $14k gift to anyone – and to as many people as you want, every year, and that money will not be subject to gift tax. This amount can be increased to $28,000 per year if a non-donor spouse agrees to split the gift.
This can be a great method to transfer assets to children, grandchildren, and other intended heirs while you’re still alive. Ultimately, this will reduce the taxable value of your estate and, at the same time, your ultimate estate tax liability.
Keep in mind that just because we have to pay taxes, that doesn’t mean that we have to give a huge part of our income away. When you know how the taxes work and know where to look for breaks, you can actually minimize your tax payout, and as a result, save a lot more of your money.
Those savings can lead you to the much coveted financial independence.