Tips for Tax Deduction & Credit Planning
The countdown to tax day has begun. December 31, 2017 closed the books on the old year and started the 15 week clock to the federal tax filing day on April 17, 2018. Officially set for April 15 of every year, the IRS moved this year’s date to April 17, a Tuesday. April 15 this year is a Sunday, and April 16 is Emancipation Day, which is celebrated as a federal holiday. READ MORE
5 Financial Questions to Ask in Retirement
Enjoying a comfortable retirement depends on how well you prepared ahead of time to support your desired lifestyle, and how well you keep a pulse on your financial well-being after you retire. You may need to check periodically to ensure you can continue to afford retirement and health-care needs, no matter how much planning you did beforehand. To help you analyze your financial standing, here are 5 financial questions to ask yourself in retirement. READ MORE
Unique Financial Needs for Multigenerational Families
Financial lives are inherently complex and require thoughtful perspectives and strategies for you and your loved ones. Multigenerational households pose additional challenges to heads of households. A multigenerational household has two or more adults from different generations. READ MORE
Book of the Month
The Ultimate Financial Plan: Balancing Your Money and Life This financial planning book by Jim Stovall and Tim Maurer covers your overall financial situation, including your cash flow, insurance coverage and estate plan. “This book is good for the DIY-ers who want take tackle and have the time to manage their own financial household,” said advisor Rianka Dorsainvil, founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution. The book can also help you if you are already working with a financial advisor or planner. “You will be able to bring ideas and thoughts to the table so it can feel like more of a partnership,” Dorsainvil said.
“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”
~ R. Buckminster Fuller
Sausage and White Bean Bake
8 small sweet Italian sausages, about 1½ pounds
1½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Heat a large, deep oven-safe skillet over medium heat.
3. Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 8 small sweet Italian sausages.
4. Completely brown the sausages (8-10 minutes) and then take them out of the skillet.
5. Slice the tomatoes in halves.
6. Cut up garlic and oregano leaves.
7. Rinse the cannellini beans.
8. Put the sliced garlic and oregano mix in the skillet and stir for about 1 minute.
9. Add the beans and the dry white wine. Simmer for about a minute.
10. Put in the low-sodium chicken broth, the tomatoes, and a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.
11. Add the sausages into the mix and transfer the skillet to the oven.
12. Cook until the sausages are done completely (8-10 minutes).
How Do You Choose a Tax Preparer?
Choosing a tax preparer isn’t like choosing drapes, a new sofa set, or even a lawn care company. Preparing taxes is serious business. One number in the wrong column, one decimal point out of place, or one missed deduction, and you may be paying big time.
So, how do you find a good, reliable tax preparer who knows what i’s to dot and what t’s to cross? Here are 10 tips from the IRS to help you find the right preparer:
1. Check their qualifications. The IRS’s Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications is a good starting point.
2. Check their history. The Better Business Bureau may identify any red flags. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers.
3. Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition.
4. Ask to e-file. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file.
5. Make sure the preparer is available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 17 due date. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.
6. Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts.
7. Never sign a blank return. Don’t use a tax preparer who asks a taxpayer to sign a blank tax form.
8. Review before signing. Before signing a tax return, review it. Ask questions if something is not clear. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.
9. Ensure the preparer signs and includes a PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. Report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed a return without the taxpayer’s consent, the taxpayer should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.
Tip adapted from IRS.gov. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
Myths of Insomnia
“You snooze, you lose” may be good advice for the inattentive, the procrastinator, and the indecisive among us. But for those who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, or staying asleep, some sound snoozing would be absolutely dreamy.
For those who struggle with occasional bouts of insomnia, it may not be what you don’t know about sleep that’s keeping you awake, but what you do know that’s wrong. Here are some common myths—and the facts—about insomnia:
- You might think that a cocktail before bed will help you sleep. Wrong. Alcohol might initially make you drowsy, but it often leads to restless sleep and waking early.
- It’s all in your head. That’s partly true. Stress can cause insomnia. But poor sleep hygiene, illness, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or other physical ailments can keep you wide awake.
- Exercise is good for promoting sleep. Sort of. Regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle is definitely good. But a workout too close to bedtime is a big red flag; strenuous exercise raises body temperature. The rule: Don’t work out 2-3 hours before going to bed.
- Watching TV or reading on your computer before bed? Not so good. The light and the noise reduce brain melatonin levels. You want your melatonin levels high to help induce sleep. If you need some stimuli, try listening to relaxing music.
- Modern sleeping medications aren’t like those of earlier times, so they’re generally safe and effective, right? You might want to rethink that one. All medications have potential side effects and risks. Dependency is a big one. If you’re having difficulty sleeping and you’re interested in temporarily taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, consult with your doctor. Sleep aids may relieve symptoms of insomnia, but they do not provide a cure.
Implementing a few lifestyle habits into your daily schedule can make bedtime refreshing and relaxing.
Environmentally Friendly Coffee Break
Life without coffee. It’s something many of us refuse to contemplate. That morning Joe is, after all, the elixir of life. So, how do you inject your environmentally friendly principles into your morning—or afternoon or evening—coffee break?
Here are 6 tips to make your coffee more “green”:
1. Get a reusable mug. Polystyrene that coffee cups are made from is bad for the environment and is not biodegradable.
2. Go with the local brewers and cafes. That way you promote local businesses.
3. Don’t use the individually packaged coffee shots, sugars, creamers, or throwaway stirrers.
4. Use organic and shade-grown. Certified Organic coffee is grown and processed without toxic chemicals.
5. Do it yourself. Buy a French press or ceramic coffee dripper, which doesn’t require electricity and provides a more “pure” taste.
6. Recycle the grounds. Use old grounds to clean pots and pans, or use them to absorb odors in your refrigerator. Used grounds also make great plant fertilizers.