Each painter has slightly different methods and preferences, but the pros all know the trade secrets.
7 Little Known Expenses You Can Write Off On Your Taxes
When it comes to taxes, there are some things everyone knows they can write off in order to get more money back, like like exemptions for kids, mortgage interest and business expenses for example. However, there are a great deal of other expenses that can be written off to lower your tax liability too. While most have some rules involved, the majority of write-offs are pretty easy to remember and take advantage of.
Here are 7 not-so-well-known tax deductions.
If you move a very large distance, and can show that the move was for work, you can write off any moving expenses you acquire along the way. This includes moving vans, shipping boxes, movers and any travel related expenses too. For those of you who have made big moves, you know how helpful this can be, especially if the move was unexpected or inconvenient.
There’s a lot of rules for this one though, so to be sure to do your research so you’re sure where the lines are drawn between what is and isn’t a deductible expense.
Student Loan Interest
While any payments you make on your loans won’t help you out any when it comes to getting back more during tax season, you can include any interest accrued on your loans in your taxes.
Loan companies will usually give you a printout of your loan interest at the end of the year so you can include the printout on your taxes, but if they don’t it’s very simple to ask for one.
If you’re a generous person and donate money to charities then you already know that these donations can come off on your taxes. These usually work when they’re a certain percentage of your income. This is common knowledge. What a lot of people don’t know though, is that donating just about anything can be counted, not just cash.
For example, if you donate a great deal of used furniture, a used vehicle or clothing, then you’re entitled to claiming this on your taxes. Companies that take donations will provide you with the paperwork you can use to count these things towards your taxes during the coming season.
In my area there are charities which come by every few weeks in trucks to pick up donations you leave at your front doorstep. I’ve donated everything from old televisions to dishware to shoes. They leave a note where you can itemize the things you donated along with their estimated value. This document serves as your proof, in case of an audit, of what was donated.
If you work from home or are self-employed, then you can write off things you need in order to complete your work. There’s a lot of different rules that come attached to this write-off, so be careful and really take into account what qualifies and what doesn’t.
You don’t need to have an official company that’s registered and have employees working for you in order to claim a deduction for business expenses. You just include a Schedule
C form, list yourself as a sole proprietor and list any expenses you had throughout the year. This could be anything from a new computer, advertising fees or anything else that you purchased for your work at home business.
When your job requires you to travel far distances, you can include these expenses on your taxes. This doesn’t count the commuting it takes to get to work, but instead any extra commuting you do during the day or for meetings and conferences.
For example, if you’re a field tech and you spend all day on the road going from site to site, the gas you spend and the maintenance on your car can be included. However, if your job offers you reimbursement for what you spend on commuting, you can’t claim anything. No double dipping allowed.
If 10% of your income goes to health related expenses, then that money you spend on your health can be collected and added together during tax season. It’s important to keep clear records of all your expenses, since this can get really confusing.
Some health related items, such as acupuncture, meditation courses, yoga and a gym membership don’t always count. But any money you spend on medication, vitamin supplements, medical procedures and doctor office visits definitely count. This usually only benefits those who spend a great deal of money on medical stuff, but it doesn’t hurt to keep track, just in case.
Research For Work
When you’re doing things that count towards research for work, you can write those expenses off because they’re no longer considered leisure. This ranges from dinner you buy to research for a book or textbooks you buy to learn more about a topic you’re working on.
On top of items you buy, conferences, meetings and other outside-of-work professional development count too. Make sure, though, that you’re honest with your claims and you save your receipts because if you get carried away it can increase your risk of an audit.
In order to maximize your tax return it’s important to go to a qualified tax preparer. They will ask all the right questions to help you lower your tax liability and ensure you get all of the tax deductions you rightfully deserve.
Credit to: http://www.cashthechecks.com/7-little-known-expenses-you-can-write-off-on-your-taxes/
The Ultimate Home Seller’s To-Do Checklist & Infographic
Posted by Shari Fortune on Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 at 7:30am. 28,900 Views
Credit to: http://www.greatcoloradohomes.com/blog/home-sellers-to-do-checklist-infographic.html
Selling Your Home
Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.
- Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
- Information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
- Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
- Negotiating skills. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- Someone who speaks the language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
- Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
- Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, homebuying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
Home selling tips: repairs to make before listing your house.
I’m not selling my home. Well, I’m not selling my home right now.
Just wanted to make that clear.
I do, however, dream of selling my home. Often. Perhaps it’s my age. Or my kid’s ages. Or the age of my home. Or the recent billion-dollar Powerball drawing that filled my head with dreams of what I would do with that windfall. Starting with selling this house and buying new.
Oh, and my home selling dreams include a For Sale by Owner sign out front. It must be the DIY’er in me, always looking for ways to save. And saving on real estate commissions would be big plus. Turns out I’m not alone. In fact, according to a survey by Owners.com, I’m among the 74% of people who find ‘saving money on commission’ the most appealing part of selling your own home.
So what’s holding me back from putting that For Sale sign out front? Other than the fact that I did not win the billion-dollar Powerball drawing. Well, there’s my age. And my kid’s ages. And the age of my home…
complete with all the old home repairs needed before we can put our house on the market.
And then there’s the questions about what repairs to make. There are so many to choose from. And they’re mounting with each passing year.
In weighing what to fix and what not to fix, I found a checklist at Owners.com filled with repairs and fixes to consider before listing your home. So I thought I’d check those checklist items against my mounting old home fixes and repairs…
Home Selling Tips: Repairs To Make Before Listing
1. Clean, paint and align gutters and downspouts
I don’t need to go outside to inspect my gutters to know they need to be cleaned and aligned. And I never even thought about painting them!
Gutters: 1; Linda: 0
2. Check foundation for cracks and repairs
Let’s see. 100+ year old foundation. Water issues in the basement. Yes, cracks will be found and repairs will be needed.
Foundation: 1;Linda: 0
3. Clean grease and old spills from driveway
One plus of living in the city is no driveways. But, if I did have one, I would definitely clean it to up the curb appeal.
Driveway: 0; Linda: 1 (by default)
4. Wash or paint exterior if needed
Our house could absolutely use a good power wash (on my Spring cleaning “to do” list) and the trim could use a new coat of paint (not on my Spring cleaning “to do” list).
Exterior Siding &Trim 1; Linda: 0
5. Inspect and clean chimney
This wasn’t even on my radar for a fix. Thanks Owners.com for the tip!
Chimney: 1; Linda: 0
6. Repair/replace worn shingles
I haven’t been up on the roof lately – okay, I’ve never been up on the roof – but I’ll venture a guess that my 20+ year old shingles could use a few fixes. Especially since we do live in the windy city. 😉
Shingles: 1; Linda: 0
7. Caulk tubs, showers and sinks
This is a diy I can tackle myself – and have in the past.
Caulk: 0; Linda: 1
8. Make sure toilets and faucets work well
We’re about 75% good on this one. And we do hire out. An old home equals old plumbing so we prefer to call in the professionals.
Toilets & Faucets: 1/4; Linda: 3/4
9. Fix broken windows, shutters, screens
We have casement windows. They are annoying. The screens are flimsy and bend easily. This has been an ongoing struggle in our home. We would definitely need to update all screens. Sigh.
Windows: 1; Linda: 0
10. Touch up or repaint walls neutral color
I see a lot of primer in my future. The navy living/dining room walls and bright orange teen bedroom are top of the list. Luckily it’s an easy and affordable diy.
Walls: 1; Linda: 0
11. Install new carpeting if needed
We don’t have much in the way of carpeting, but what we do would absolutely get an “ew” if we were ever on House Hunters.
Floors: 1; Linda: 0
12. VisitOwners.com for even more advice and tips on how to prepare your home for sale.
Owners.com offers a unique option to selling your own home. If you look at the real estate market today, you have the option to go with a full service broker or attempt to manage a For Sale By Owner process. Owners.com is different from both models; it is a fully licensed brokerage that offers a choice for you to do some of the transaction work yourself, while also providing advisor support for more complicated or daunting tasks (like appraisal and legal documents). Bottom line: with Owners.com, you can avoid unnecessary commission payments (typical sales side commission is 3% of the real estate transaction). You’ll pay a flat fee of $695 when selling your home with Owners.com which means on a $300K transaction, that savings is $8305.
Owners.com: 1; Linda: 1. A win/win!
Looking at my scorecard, the house is winning. Or is that losing? Either way, it’s a good thing we’re not ready to put our house on the market. But now I do have a working checklist to work from as we plan for the future …
as we age. And our kids age. And our house ages. 🙂
Credit to: http://www.itallstartedwithpaint.com/home-selling-tips-repairs-to-make-before-listing/
21 ways to cut costs and save more every month in 2017
Charis Rebecca Brown Wednesday, December 14 th 2016
Ready to take control of your money in 2017? By making a few small changes now, you can start the new year with a fresh budget and a plan to get your spending and savings back on track.
From cable bills to everyday spending habits, these 21 tips will help you save more, spend less and get on the fast track to financial success!
21 ways to save more every month!
1. Set goals.
You might think that first on our list should be the infamous New Year’s resolutions we’ve become so accustomed to year after year. But since New Year’s resolutions tend to flop by January 30 each year, goal setting is a much better option!
Setting goals is a habit for people who win with money, and it should become a habit for you too. Studies have shown that just by having a goal for something it brings you closer to that goal versus not having any goal at all.
An important part of this equation is making sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time oriented. Once you have a goal or goals in mind that include all of these attributes, chop your goal into smaller pieces, or milestones, that you can hit more easily. Once you hit each milestone, celebrate! This will help to encourage you as you move forward toward your financial goals.
Also, write down your financial goals, and put them in an obvious place so you see them often – such as on the refrigerator or next to a door you walk through frequently.
It’s hard to tell where you’re headed if you haven’t mapped out where you are! The word “budget” gets a bad rap — but it’s not about depriving yourself or taking things away — it’s about adding freedom to your life. When you take control of your spending and saving, you give yourself the freedom to make certain choices when you want to make them. Bottom line: budgeting isn’t as scary or as difficult as it sounds — it’s just about making sure your money goes where you want it to go.
To help you get started, we have a step-by-step budgeting guide that walks you through the entire process!
2. Negotiate prices.
Did you know that you can negotiate in almost any kind of purchasing situation?
Though you might have previously thought negotiation was only for the bigger purchases such as home buying or car shopping, you can also negotiate at retail stores and online too. You can even negotiate to lower your bills!
3. Slash excess spending.
Every so often, it’s a good idea to track your purchasing history to see where your money is going. An easy way to do this is by using budget apps like Mint.com or BillGuard.com. Then, once you see where your money is going, you can make adjustments where necessary. Do you really need to buy that new iPhone or Android device ever time a new one comes out?
You might even want to try a 30 day household financial cleanse to jump start your savings.
4. Cut monthly bills.
Monthly expenses can bite us if we aren’t careful. Cable is no exception! With the average cable bill being about $99.10, according to Liechtman Research Group, cable and other monthly expenses can really add up over time.
To cut your monthly bills, check out this guide
5. Switch up your grocery routine.
There is no doubt that spending in the grocery category of your budget can vary a TON from household to household. I’ve read about people who spend anywhere from $70 to $1,500 – for just two adults.
But the good news is, even if you have trouble spending in the grocery category, this is one place where you can save a ton! It just requires a little extra time, a few sacrifices, and some practice.
If you’re new to saving-friendly grocery shopping, be sure to consider Aldi as a lower cost option. Also, you’ll want to avoid these 18 foods that can put a massive dent in your grocery bill, and be sure to check out these 7 ways you can save the most money on your groceries.
6. Transfer debt to a lower interest credit card.
If you have credit card debt, doing a $0 balance transfer might be a big way to save. However — you’ll want to be careful: If you don’t allow yourself enough time to pay off the card before the interest offer expires, you could be hit with even bigger interest fees than what you are paying now.
7. Be picky about your savings account.
Picking the right savings account is essential in order to make sure you can save the most and earn the most while your money is being tucked aside for a rainy day.
Online savings accounts such as Ally.com and Capital One 360 are fee-free and have online savings account options that allow you to earn 1% or .75% on your money, respectively. But, there are many types of savings accounts you can choose from. Be sure to pick one that aligns the best with your needs.
8. Use lower cost financial trading apps.
Instead of paying big fees on trading, did you know you can spend little to nothing on trading?
Apps like Acorns, Robin Hood and Stash make it even easier to trade!
Read more: Low-cost investment options by dollar amount
9. Invest under the right tax shelter.
How you save for retirement makes a BIG difference in how much you’ll earn over the course of your working years. Be sure to follow Clark’s Investment Guide to save the most for retirement! In addition, save even more as you invest by using a fee-only financial planner.
9. Switch your car.
The average American spends $479 a month on a new auto payment, according to Edmunds.com.
That’s a hefty price to pay, especially considering just how much money this eats up over time — not to mention the opportunity cost of not having this money freed up to save for retirement and take advantage of compound interest!
If your car payment is more than 10-15% of your monthly income, you might want to switch your car for something with a lower monthly payment, or opt to pay for something less expensive with cash.
10. Always shop sales – NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. Seriously.
The key to this advice is to make sure it’s something you already need – versus buying something just because it’s on sale.
Check out these 10 websites that can help you get the very best deal on all your purchases!
Read more: 9 items to always buy used
11. Make alternative choices.
Go out for dinner and a movie or cook at home with Redbox? Buy a brand new car or buy a reliable used car? Simple alternatives can make a big difference when it comes to saving.
13. Switch your wireless provider.
Has it been a while since you switched your cell phone provider? If so, you might be missing out on big savings!
Check out this guide of the best cell phone providers and where to get the best deal.
14. Buy prescriptions (at a cheaper price) at a different location or online.
Highly rated apps like GoodRx can help you find the best prices in your area.
Read more: 14 ways to save the cost of prescriptions
15. Learn to save money when eating out or brown bag your lunch.
Even if you do decide to eat out, there are ways to significantly reduce your dining bill while still enjoying the experience.
But, if you really want to cut your eating out expenses, opt to brown bag your lunch instead.
Read more: 8 Ways To Save While Dining Out
16. Use an automated savings plan.
If you use direct deposit, many employers can set up a percentage or dollar amount every paycheck to go directly into a savings account of your choice. As long as you keep a certain minimum or do a direct deposit of a certain amount, most bank savings accounts should be fee-free. You can also use the fee-free online savings banks such as Ally.com and Capital One 360 listed above.
Saving money before it hits your checking account is a brilliant way to save: pain-free and worry-free. Make technology work for you and watch your savings grow effortlessly! Here’s more on why and how to automate your savings.
Read more: 9 ways to find free money (and jumpstart your savings!)
17. Reduce your energy costs
Using a programmable thermostat, turning your water heater down (since it’s probably higher than it needs to be) and replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs are easy ways to cut your home energy costs every month. By reducing your expenses, you’re left with more money to save!
18. Join a warehouse club
Joining a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club can save you hundreds on food and other staples over the course of a year. And with so many discounted prices, you make up the cost of your membership pretty quickly. Check out these 9 items that will single-handedly pay for your Costco membership and these 9 secret perks that make a Costco membership totally worth it.
19. Re-shop your car insurance
If you haven’t re-shopped your car insurance in a while, now is the time to do it! You could be missing out on savings you didn’t even know about.
Also, according to Consumer Reports, even if you shop around and find that your coverage is still the least expensive, there may be ways to save within your policy. “Depending on where you live, raising a deductible to $1,000 from zero could reduce your collision deductible by as much as 47%,” according to CR. And here’s one other important note from CR: “Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive when the annual premium for that portion of that coverage exceeds 10% of your car’s book value.”
20. Buy a coffee machine
A splurge here and there is no big deal, but when you’re buying coffee every day — or every weekday — it can really start to add up! Your daily coffee habit could actually be costing you anywhere from $500 to $600 a year, and that’s a lot of money that could be saved.
Depending on how fancy you want to get, you can purchase a quality coffee maker on Amazon for anywhere between $15 and $50.
21. Track your spending
Tracking your expenses is the best way to get control of your money.
For a few reasons. First, if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you have to know where your money is going and you have to give every dollar a purpose. Tracking how much money is coming in versus how much is going out — and where exactly it’s all going — is the key in making smart financial decisions that have a big impact on both your life now and your future.
If you don’t pay attention, it becomes very difficult to make sure that you’re adequately prepared for each of your big goals — including retirement savings and even shorter-term goals, like buying a house and building an emergency savings fund.
Utilizing your smartphone to help you save can be a big help in tracking – and saving your money. If you want to keep it simple, the old fashioned envelope system works just as well — taking out specific amounts of cash to cover certain monthly expenses.
Credit to: http://www.clark.com/16-ways-to-save-more-in-2016