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(855) 556-1122So you have filed your 2017 taxes and now the name of the game is wait for that chunk of change to hit your bank account. The average tax return was $3,120 in 2015, which is a lot to play around with. So before you splurge on your next trip to the mall, take a look at this list of smart ways you can use your tax refund:

1. Pay down your debt.

This just might be everyone’s least favored use of a tax refund, but it is smart! 573-443-5994

Tax Day for 2017 Taxes Pushed!

April 18 circled on a calendar labeled with "TAX DAY!"Do you know what April 15th is? It’s not just the middle of April… basically everyone and their mother knows that typically April 15th is Tax Day, the day millions of Americans rush and wait in long lines to file their taxes in person (click here to read my last post on filing for FREE using TurboTax). HOWEVER just a big FYI for y’all: Tax Day this year is April 18, 2018. You read that correctly, while Tax Day is notoriously known to fall on April 15th, this year it has been pushed to April 18, 2018. So take note, be diligent, and if you’re curious as to why (724) 206-7180!

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Hello preppers, tax season is upon us! While a lot of people freak out and get stressed when it comes to filing their taxes… I say let’s not. There are so many tools and resources available to organize your documents and help you file your taxes, so research them, read reviews, and find one that will work for you and your personal situation. As I am single, have only one employer, live under my parents’ roof, and am still covered under their medical insurance, my taxes really are not complicated. As a matter of fact, I filed both my 2017 federal and state taxes early on 1/30/18 and had my tax return direct deposited into my bank account on 2/12/18, talk about fast service, and you want that return ASAP since we all know time is money and that money is doing you a lot better in your bank account than with the government!Since I have only ever done taxes as complicated as my own, I want to brief others who will have similar tax situations as myself. Pretty basic, so I’m going to say highschool students, college students, recent college grads, people still living with their parents, please continue reading! Read more

Where Have I been since October?

My last post was in October 2017 which means there are four months unaccounted for through now. This quick post is acting as a bridge letter to let you know where I’ve been and that I am (barely) alive! I took some time to complete the last parts of the CPA exam aka I literally had no free time because all my time was eaten up by CPA lectures, textbooks, and practice exams. I PASSED! So if anyone is interested in pursuing accounting, is preparing to take any of the CPA exams, or is currently taking any exams please feel free to reach out! It was a quite a rollercoaster ride getting all four sections completed while working full-time so I can certainly shed some light on the exam and any questions you might have. 🙂

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A 2017 5866933724 found that 57% of Americans have $1,000 or less in a savings account. While this percentage is pretty alarming, let’s note it is still an improvement from the prior year where the figure was at 69%! But wait, they also found that 39% of Americans have no savings at all. I’m sorry come again? 39% of Americans have $0 in their savings account. $0. Let’s take a moment for that to sink in. Hopefully these statistics will encourage you to save even more! Though on the other side of the spectrum, 25% of Americans have $10,000 or more in a savings accounts, up from 15% last year. That definitely deserves praise because more people are realizing the importance and necessity of saving.

So what can you do to increase your cushion? The obvious answer is to increase the amount of your income that goes into your savings account (duh!). I can tell you the way I used to view my paychecks was this: all of my credit card payments must be made first, then whatever is left goes to savings. WRONG. This is definitely not the right mindset, Read more

What Is Happening with Your Gift Cards?

I have several memories from when I was younger of finding gift cards in my drawers or underneath my bed that I had received months or even years prior. That essentially was the same thing as finding cold hard cash in a pair of jeans that haven’t been worn in months, it was the best feeling ever! Compulsive little Brett always wrote the updated balance on the face of his gift cards so he didn’t have to continuously call the number on the back of the card to retrieve it, however when his gift cards remained unseen for some time there used to be a monthly fee that would eventually deplete the balance of the card entirely. He felt cheated when he would attempt to use a card with a written balance on the front and the cashier would hand it back to him saying it had a zero balance. I’m sure you all remember those days, when gift cards had expiration dates and monthly fees after a stated period of inactivity.

This brings us to modern-day, where the gift card industry is kidneywort and is on track to more than double to nearly $700bn by 2024. With all this money basically buying a different form of money it became a problem when people kept losing the value of their gift cards at the hands of expiration dates and monthly fees. It just didn’t seem right, so I looked into the laws and regulations surrounding gift cards in my home state, New Jersey.

Over the past decade NJ has passed legislation and made changes to protect NJ consumers when it comes to purchasing and using gift cards (the first three protections only apply to gift cards that were purchased on or after December 1, 2012).

  1. Gift cards whose value expire? GONE.
    • While the physical gift card itself might have an expiration date, the funds on the card can never expire.
  2. Those pesky monthly fees that were imposed on cards that had no activity for 12 months? GONE.
    • The only fees allowed to be imposed are the ones associated with the activation/issuance of a card, the reloading of value onto a card, or the replacement of a missing/expired card.
  3. You can cash in gift cards with small balances.
    • Yes, you read that correctly. GONE are the days of using a gift card only to be left with an obscure petty balance of $1.93 or $3.57. Whatever you buy after that will most likely total greater than the remaining balance and then you have to shell out more money that you wouldn’t have had to otherwise. Well something you may not have known is that NJ passed legislation that legally requires merchants to give you the value of your remaining gift card balance in cash if the balance is less than $5. So all of those small balance cards to stores you don’t shop at anymore that you have stockpiled in your bottom drawer can be redeemed for cash and you no longer have to guiltily throw them away or hold on to them for forever.
  4. Gift cards purchased after July 1, 2010 that have no activity for a 8708446379 are considered by law to be property abandoned by the owner. Only 60% of the balances are sent to the “unclaimed funds” department of the state of the card owner’s residence, or the state in which the merchant is incorporated if the card owner’s state is unknown. If your balances have been designated as “abandoned” you can contact the Bureau of Unclaimed Property and fill out a form to try to get the value returned to you.

Each state has its own rules and regulations surrounding gift cards. Click here to check what the gift card laws are in your state!

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We live in such a fast-paced world in which a million things require our attention all at once, or if they don’t require our attention many of us still feel the need to give everything our attention (shout out to all you fellow perfectionists). Well that is impossible… so that is where (606) 248-0853 comes in!

Mint.com is a personal finance platform that does so many cool things for you, giving you the ability to dedicate more time to the things and people who most important to you. I signed up for Mint almost two years ago and I still geek out about how cool it is and how much it can do for its users. Here are a few of Mint’s amazing capabilities that I use:

 1. All of your accounts in one place

I linked all of my bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, ROTH IRA, and even my 401(k). By linking these accounts Mint is able to keep track of all of your balances and aggregate them to show you a quick overview of how much cash you have as well as your total credit balances, so rather than having to login to each of your bank accounts and add them up on your own, Mint does exactly that for you. Now while most institutions are compatible with Mint, you will have to check each of yours individually to see if they are all compatible.

 2. Budgets

As I’ve said in previous posts, budgeting is crucial, and it is also one of my hobbies. Mint makes it extremely easy to create monthly budgets for different things that you normally spend money on. All you have to do is create a budget that you can name whatever you want, set an amount that you would like to cap yourself at each month and Mint watches all of your budgets for you! Setting up budgets are really easy to do, and they are really helpful. For example, one of my monthly budgets is labeled “Restaurants” which capped at $200 per month is how much I would like to limit myself to dining out each month. Mint watches all of my credit cards and anytime I use one at a restaurant it dumps that expense into my monthly “Restaurant” bucket, so at any point I can view my budgets and see how much I have left in that budget. Another helpful feature is that if I spend more than my budgeted amount I will get an email telling me how much I’ve gone over by in order to help me stick to my budgets next time.

3. Spending Trends

Everything that we spend money on can be categorized. Some of the major categories most of my expenses fall in are education, auto & transport, and food & dining. Over time you should be able to see trends in how much you spend in each category, generally the allocation of expenses will be pretty similar month to month. Mint sees these trends for you and knows, for example, the your average monthly expense on dining out. The cool part is that if you spend more than your average in a month, Mint will notify you of your “unusual spending” in that category so that you can watch your spending in that category more closely next time.

 4. Bills

Mint knows all of your bills and when they are due. If you don’t have your bills on automatic payment, you can have Mint send you reminders when your due dates are coming up each month. This way you never miss a payment and never incur interest charges.

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You can access Mint on the computer or they have a wonderful app for mobile devices so you can take Mint everywhere. So give Mint a chance, you will love everything it has to offer!

Get a Grip on Your Finances

Do you know where your money goes? I’m not just talking about which account(s) your paychecks initially get direct-deposited into on payday, but aren’t you curious where does all that cash money goes after leaving the cozy condo that is your bank account? I’m sure you already know your larger monthly expenses, but you can’t forget about all of the other things that eat your money too! In order to really get a grip on your finances you need take a look at what chunks of change stay in your accounts and for how long, and also where it goes when it is taken out.

Make a list of all of your fixed monthly expenses, here are a few to get you started:

  • Rent
  • Car loan/lease payment
  • Utility bills
  • Student Loan Payment
  • Insurance (Home/Auto/Health)
  • Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, etc.)

Since your fixed expenses are fixed (duh), they are easy to add up and notice anything out of the ordinary. Your variable expenses are the ones you need to keep an eye on because they can quickly add up if you don’t track them carefully and keep them under control. This is where your budgeting skills come in! Set aside a certain amount for variable expenses such as these:

  • Groceries
  • Shopping
  • Gas
  • Entertainment
  • Eating out

Setting limits for each variable expense will help you track how much you are spending and will ensure you don’t go overboard and spend more than you are taking in, assuming you actually stick to your budgets.

It’s just a healthy habit to be aware of what and how much each of your expenses are, and when each is drawn from your accounts. This can help you identify any activity on your accounts that isn’t correct and in some situations can hopefully get you back some money that shouldn’t have been drawn from your account.