Hi everyone! Did you all survive Tax Day? Yes? And did you all get your taxes done early, made sure to include all those nifty receipts that you kept diligently throughout the year, got all the write-offs you were supposed to get, didn't owe too much to the US government and sat back and relaxed on Tax Day?
No? Well then do I have a blog for you.
Now, there are some things you should know about me. For one, I don't claim to be good at something that I'm not. This is why you won't be reading any cute blogs about me successfully ice skating, playing darts, juggling, or skate boarding. Let's face it, there's just something about that pesky hand/eye/foot coordination thing which I am utterly lacking in, so it's a good thing I play with knives and sticks twice a week in my kung fu and escrima classes. Oh wait..
However, there are some things that I am good at. Noticing people's haircuts. Making deviled eggs. Changing the toilet paper roll. Purchasing Toll House cookie dough at the grocery store and then taking credit for the resulting cookie goodness that ensues after baking them in the oven for 9 to 12 minutes. (Incidentally, this is just enough time to watch an episode of Robot Chicken.)
I am also good with money. This is where you come in! (Oh wait, you've been here the whole time? So sorry for the long introduction. I'll add "brevity" to the list of things I'm bad at.)
So I thought I'd offer up some advice, the day after tax day, so that you may use it for next year's tax day. Good habits take a while to build.
First of all, duh: Save all your receipts. Alllll of them. I save all my gas receipts, food receipts, clothing, books, shoes, car repair, whatever. Use them for tax write-offs, and then use them to balance your checkbook. This is much easier than whatever other way people use to balance their checkbooks. And when you write actual checks (online billing is usually free and saves trees, but sometimes you have to write that check) the date, amount, and whom it was paid to should be written on the back of your checkbook. Separate immediately, not on April 12th, which receipts and bills you will be using for tax write-offs and which receipts and bills just need to be filed. Remember, if it's going with your taxes as backup, you need to keep it for seven years.
Second, and hang with me here, because I feel for you: If you have multiple jobs, like I do, (I know this is hard, but you HAVE to do it) ask for the maximum amount to be taken out for taxes for every paycheck. I know, I know. If you have multiple jobs, it's probably because you need all the money you can get. But have you noticed something? That maybe, after you've worked your butt off at multiple jobs throughout the year, come tax day, you...owe the government money? Does that seem fair?
Here's why. Because the government is looking at your paychecks one at a time. All they see is each paycheck individually, and they see that it's probably a small amount (otherwise why would you need multiple jobs?) so they take out less taxes because it looks like you are in a lower tax bracket. But if you do this with several jobs, each time the government assuming you are in the lowest tax bracket and taking out the smallest amount, you end up adding up all those jobs (and all that money) at the end of the year, and your income probably pushes you into a higher tax bracket that the government had no way of knowing you would qualify for. So you get screwed, because the government didn't take out enough taxes from your paychecks.
How to fix that? Talk to your employer, tighten up your $5 a day latte factor, and ask them to take out more money per paycheck. You'll thank me when it comes time to file your taxes next year.
And if you are well off, paying all the bills and still able to put some money into savings after every paycheck? Do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I just told those multiple jobbers to do. Have the least amount of money taken out of your paycheck and when you are done paying your bills put whatever you have left in your account (minus your allowance money for fun stuff and money to cover inconsisent expenses like food and gas) into savings right away, as in, by the end of the pay week. And here' s why it will work for you: because when you get a refund after tax day from the government, what you essentially did was loan the US money for a year, without getting any interest from it. That's a sucky loan to give to someone when you could have taken that money, put it into savings (try ING -- still a good interest rate in their savings accounts!), let it accrue interest and then pay the government what you owe while keeping the interest that the money earned you.
Got it? Yay! Money is fun! Taxes are...tolerable!