Month: January 2016

Tell Your Card Issuer In Advance

Many debit and credit card issuers now watch our accounts for activity that isn’t normal for us, to nip theft in the bud. If a home-body suddenly starts charging airfare and hotels, often they will place a temporary hold on the card until they can contact the customer and confirm that this unusual usage is legitimate.

If you’re not a gamer at all and suddenly buy a raft of them, the card issuer wonders if the card was stolen. They don’t know your grand kids want those for Christmas.

If you aren’t prepared for this, it can slow you down in paying your normal bills and activities with that card.

You can save a little aggravation by calling the company before starting an uncharacteristic series of purchases.

Memorize a Phone Number!

I’m probably not the only one who relies on the Contacts list in my cell phone. When my previous phone suddenly and completely stopped working, immediately I didn’t have any of my contacts!  That experience taught me to keep a paper or Word document copy as well. I have some phone numbers on paper in my purse, too.

But what if you aren’t at home, and don’t have your paper copy with you? If you were stranded, a business might let you use their landline, but phone books are rapidly going out of style, and your friends’ cell numbers wouldn’t be in a phone book anyway.

I recently found out third hand that if you get arrested, they may not let you use your own cell phone. Once your phone is booked into their property hold, your contacts are gone with it. (Yes, I know you don’t plan to get arrested. It’s rarely a plan, and unexpected things can happen with traffic stops.) All those people you might have called are suddenly not available to you.

Who would come and bail you out? Who could come and get you if you were stranded? Better yet, who would call everyone you know until someone could help?

Memorize at least one person’s phone number.

Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

52 Weeks: Taxes: Tax Refund

From the book:

“Let me take a moment here to emphasize the difference between a “tax return” and a “tax refund.” A tax return is the tax form you file each year, such as the 1040. A tax refund is money you get back because your employer withheld more tax than you ended up owing.

Most articles on personal money management think it’s a bad thing to get a big refund. They say you’re letting the IRS use your money interest free all year. You could have the use of it yourself if you change your W-4 form to have less money withheld from each check.

This is true. But my own experience is that if I get the money in each paycheck, it vanishes. If I get a large refund of overpaid tax, then I have a lump sum to do something useful with. Some years I have used a large refund to fund my IRA account.”

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Earned Income Credit is Not Just for Parents

From the book:

“A few years ago, I was surprised to learn that the earned income credit is not just for people with children. The worksheet calculation goes on for pages and looks complicated. But if you do exactly what the instructions say and don’t waste energy wondering why, it will work out. The EIC applies to anyone with earned income below a certain level. You can also just check the box for the IRS to compute it for you.”

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Weeks: Tax Week: Free Tax Preparation

From the book: “If your adjusted gross income is below $57,000, free tax software is available from the IRS. Go to http://www.irs.gov and type “free file” in the search box.

AARP offers free tax preparation for people with low to moderate incomes. If they are busy, they give preference to people age sixty and older. Go to http://www.aarp.org and search on tax preparation.”

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Prepping – For Taxes That Is

When Federal income tax was first instituted in 1913 the form was three pages long, the instructions only required one page, and that’s all there was to it. Ah, the good old days. Last year I filed a tax return that was 22 pages long.That was my own silly fault for having so many different tiny streams of income, each requiring its own page or pages. Lucky for me I actually enjoy keeping records and since I got bifocals I don’t have a problem filling out forms. If you itemized deductions or if you have a business with deductible expenses, you kind of have to keep records even if you don’t enjoy it.

The first thing I did was get in the habit of saving all paperwork and receipts that I would, or even might, need for taxes. I have a file folder for it and just drop them in all year long. When tax time comes I have a messy stack of papers, but I have them all and I know where they are. Failing to prepare for an unpleasant task doesn’t make the task go away, it just makes it harder. If it’s too late for this idea to benefit you this year, act today to make next year better. Designate a spot for any and all tax-related paperwork. A file, a box, a drawer, wherever it will be easy for you to put the papers as they come in.

Recently I made Excel spreadsheets that mimic the tax forms that I use. I can enter income as it comes in and deductions as they happen. At any moment I have a snapshot of what my tax situation is shaping up to. This is helpful for making decisions that effect one’s taxes. It tells me if I need to start saving up to pay self-employment taxes. When it’s time to fill out the forms, I just move the numbers from my spreadsheets to the forms.

Plan ahead and act on the plan.