|New parents have their work cut out for them. Not only are they dealing with lost sleep, they also face the extra cost of raising a child. At least there are a lot of potential tax breaks available to them. Check out this list and share it with any new parents you know.
It’s the height of summer, and hopefully you’ve had a chance to enjoy some pleasant weather and Fourth of July fireworks. This issue contains tips on tax breaks for new parents, deciding whether to amend a tax return, strategies for reducing debt, and budgeting for replacing major household items. There’s also an article about creating a strong business partnership, and a review of some of the best online productivity and security tools.
Should you wish to review your situation please feel free to call. Also feel free to forward this newsletter to someone who may benefit.
Five Tax Breaks for New Parents
How Long Will It Last?
Source: Home product lifespan estimates come from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Midrange price estimates come from various sources including Consumerreports.org, Angieslist.com and Homeadvisor.com and do not include installation costs. Actual costs may vary.
Source: Electronics lifespan estimates come from a 2014 Consumer Electronics Association survey of consumer habits. Midrange price estimates come from market research firms IHS and NPD Group, and online retailer research. Actual costs may vary.
Remember, each of the items noted above can vary greatly in price depending on your tastes and willingness to spend. For instance, a high-end refrigerator can cost well over $7,000, vastly more expensive than the $500 noted above.
|Smart budgeting idea
When creating an annual budget, review your appliances and note how old they are. Then develop a five-year plan to replace some items each year. Use the values noted above, or estimate your own costs with a little research.
This process can help reduce the risk of an unplanned expense if one of these costly appliances or electronics fails when you least expect it.
|The average household carries $137,063 in debt, while the median household income is less than $60,000, according to data from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Labor Department. While it’s easy to get into debt, it can be hard to get out. Here are five tips personal finance experts recommend to lower your debt burden:
Reducing your debt burden can seem overwhelming, but small steps can yield big results.
Is It Worth It to Amend Your Return?
|Whether it makes sense to amend your return depends on which of these situations you’re in:
If you owe the IRS
If you discover an omission on your tax return that results in you owing additional tax, you need to correct it with an amendment and provide the tax due.
Don’t delay if this is your situation. If the IRS discovers the omission before you do, they may add interest and penalties to your bill.
If you are due a refund
If you find a mistake that should result in getting a larger refund check, you can claim it by filing an amended return. But there are several reasons it may not be worth it.
Ultimately you have to weigh the extra money you could get from amending against the potential problems it could cause. If it’s worth it, get an amendment filed.
Call to get help with an amendment or if you have other tax questions.
Elements of a Good Business Partnership
|Like a bundle of sticks, good business partners support each other and are less likely to crack under strain together than on their own. In fact, companies with multiple owners have a stronger chance of surviving their first five years than sole proprietorships, according to U.S. Small Business Administration data.
Yet sole proprietorships are more common than partnerships, making up more than 70 percent of all businesses. That’s because while good partnerships are strong, they can be hard to make. Here are some elements that good business partnerships require:
Useful Online Productivity and Security Tools
Here are several popular free or inexpensive online tools that can help manage and protect your online activities. They range from password management tools to security protection services.
A decade-old study by Microsoft estimates that the average person memorizes about six passwords and reuses them over and over. Today most people use dozens if not hundreds of online sites that require passwords. You put your security at risk if you are still using a few of the same old passwords.
There is another option. Password managers such as LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password and KeePass create and store unique encrypted passwords made of random numbers and symbols for each site you use. You only have to memorize one long password to use these apps, plus use a two-factor authentication app on your phone. Most of these password managers offer a free or inexpensive service to new users.
There’s nothing worse than buying something expensive and then coming across the same item at a discount in another store. If only you’d known about the sale, you could have saved a bundle of money. Barcode scanner apps like ShopSavvy, BuyVia and Quick Scan allow you to scan an item before you purchase it to check whether you can get a better price somewhere else.
There are a variety of free online task management tools that serve as to-do lists, appointment calendars, collaboration tools and reminder services. Some examples include Wunderlist, Evernote, Todoist and Trello. From the palm of your hand, these apps allow you to access a shopping list your spouse made, get a reminder of a dental appointment, or make note of an interesting book to read. Many of the apps are also “gamified” — meaning they make a game out of being productive by awarding points and achievement badges.
Consider checking out these services to see if they work for you. Just make sure you feel comfortable that the personal information you provide is worth the service you receive in return.