Year-end Tax Tips

I know it is the middle of the year and taxes are the last thing on your mind. But this is a great time to make last-minute changes to ensure you are not paying Uncle Sam more than you need to next year.

As the year winds down, you may be thinking there is no time left to reduce your tax bill. However, the following year-end tax-saving strategies can make certain you keep every dollar you deserve.

Boost your retirement

Have a few dollars lying around? If you are employed or self-employed, you may be able to contribute to an individual retirement account, or IRA. A traditional IRA not only provides the opportunity to save for retirement, but allows you to deduct contributions on your personal federal tax return. Generally, you can deduct up to $5,000 ($6,000 if you are age 50 or older) or up to your taxable compensation, whichever is smaller.

Also, consider changing your contribution allocation to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan. You can do so now and make bigger contributions for the last pay periods of the year. You are allowed to contribute up to $17,000 during the year, so consider boosting those contributions if you have not yet hit that ceiling.

Be a cheerful giver

Just as the old saying goes, it is better to give than to receive. And it is even better if you can get a tax deduction for it!

Consider giving to your favorite charity, alma mater or any other qualified organization. Donations made before the end of the year may qualify for a tax deduction. But be careful — make certain you are donating to a qualified organization and not your next-door neighbor. The Internal Revenue Service only allows tax deductions for gifts made to qualified organizations.

In addition to monetary donations, donated goods and miles traveled also may qualify for tax purposes.


Defer income

If you have control over when you receive income, consider deferring your income to the next year. Not everyone has this luxury (or many may not be able to afford it). But if you are self-employed, consider delaying mailing invoices until the following year. Doing so would decrease your tax liability for this year.

Remember: your choice, your future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog at

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Some Great Tips on How to Save Money

1. Gift Wrapping Papers

Why buy expensive gift wrapping papers from the market, if you can make them at home? Plain brown grocery paper bags are what you can begin with. Take out your painting brush and craft paints. Give your imagination a free run. Remember that the sky is the limit, so far as your creativity and imagination go. Paint any design and rest assured that your effort would be well appreciated by those who receive your gift. You can paint flowers, trees, butterflies, bees, birds or whatever fancies you.

2. Saving on Gifts

Everyone loves receiving and giving gifts. If you have a large family, you may end up spending a lot of money buying gifts for each member, and receiving gifts you may have no need for. You may talk to your family members and come to an understanding to limit the giving of gifts to children only. This way you keep the children, who love to receive gifts, happy, and save a substantial amount of money too.

3. Homemade Gifts

Everyone loves receiving gifts. A homemade gift is any day more appreciated than gifts purchased from the market. One can actually feel the warmth that is associated with homemade gifts. If you have time on hand then there is no dearth of opportunities to exhibit your skills. You can make gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Christmas gifts, babies and more.

You can knit a sweater or a pair of booties for a little baby; make cakes for occasions, or weave baskets. There is no end to what you can create at home. Wrap your gifts with homemade packaging and tie it with a bow.

4. Movie Shows

If you are a movie buff, you must know that matinee and late afternoon shows are cheaper than nighttime or late night shows. If you are planning to treat your family to a movie, take them during the day. The savings could well be more than half of what you normally spend. It is as good as seeing two movies at the cost of one nighttime movie.

Eateries inside the movie theater offer food at prices that can burn a big hole in your pocket. It would be a great idea if you carry some homemade popcorns, and candies along with you to munch inside while watching the movie. Some movie tickets come at discounted prices. Check online and you will get to save money on that account too. So, you know now how to save good money while taking your family out to see a movie.

5. Saving at Home

Make everyone in your family participate in making savings wherever they can. Inculcate a habit of turning off the lights when leaving the room. Initially, you or your kids may forget to do so. Fix a fun-punishment for those who break this rule. Water heaters may be run on low settings, if warm water is the need. Higher settings consume more power. If the air outside is cooler, you may open the windows to let in fresh and cool air. This way you can save significantly on your air conditioning. All these little things done consciously can make a huge contribution to your saving.

6. Reward Scheme

Start a reward scheme at home encouraging all your family members to become conscientious savers. Achievers may be rewarded with stuff they want. If you want to avoid expenses on taxis, encourage them to use public transport. The savings that are made on this account can be used to finance different needs of individuals in the family. You may also spend the amount saved on a family outing.

7. Right Attitude

It is important to develop the right attitude towards saving. In fact, the entire family needs to have a healthy view on saving. You need to develop a habit of not wasting resources and being aware of the need of saving. Do not think that you cannot save, because if you make a conscious effort, you certainly can.

8. Not All Unused Stuff is Useless

Teach your children the concept and importance of saving. Tell them not to throw away things they do not need. It is often seen that teenagers throw away things that are of no need to them without realizing that what is not good for them may be good for some other family member. You may check a few times with your children the stuff that they consider of no use to them, and make them realize how important it may be for someone in the house. Unused gum tubes, make up, clothes, accessories etc. may come in handy. So, these should not be thrown away.

9. Family Saving Plan

Get your family together and let them participate in the family saving plan. Ask for their ideas on how to make savings. Let your teenaged kids come forward and suggest ways to save on the telephone bill. If you give them responsibility, they will act consciously. Discuss other saving matters with them, making them aware of what needs to be done, and how wasteful expenditure can be curtailed.

10. Buffets and Money Saving

When you are on an outing with your family, you can have your lunch or dinner in a restaurant that offers buffet.

11. Vacationing

Plan your vacations in advance, and plan them for the off-season. Prices all-round are considerably lower during the off-season. You will find hotel accommodation, cars and airfare at heavily discounted prices. That is a lot in terms of saving when you are traveling with your family.

If you happen to be the kind that loves solitude and peace, then there is nothing like an off-season holiday. You may also plan to book your hotel accommodation just one day in advance to the start of the holiday season. This one day translates into substantial saving for you.You can save a lot of money that way. If your child is young, you can share your meals. Moreover, buffets offer a wide range of menus to select from. Buffets are a win-win situation from the point of view of food and saving.

12. Networking

If you have two computers in different rooms in your house, it is best to have them networked. There is no point paying twice over and have two high-speed cable connections for both the computers. Arrange your computers in such a way that one of them acts as a primary computer and the other as the backup. Under such an arrangement, you can have a single high-speed internet cable connection and pay a nominal amount extra for the second computer. That is a lot of saving.

13. Economy Haircuts

Many haircutting saloons offer economy haircut packages for families. These work out to be cheaper than going for individual haircuts.

Some families normally do haircuts for kids at home, and make good savings on that account. The money saved can be utilized for other purposes.

14. Recycling Stuff at Home

When we talk of recycling, the first thing that strikes us is utilization of the waste. You can actually save money by applying recycling in your life. For instance, you can create a nice gift for your friend with the things around you. Avoid buying expensive showpieces or gifts, and go for things around you and try to create something innovative. See the smile on your friend’s face.

15. Managing Your Utilities

Always take care that the rooms you are not using should be closed. If you are heating or cooling the entire house then you are simply wasting money. Thus, close all the unused rooms or garage, as there is no need of any kinds of utilities there. This act can save a lot of your money.

16. Check Your Bills

Always keep in mind to check the details of your bills. It could be credit card statements, bank statement, telephone or electricity bills or even the receipt of grocery. If you pay attention to them and go through the details minutely, you may find some errors, which might be huge. These errors can be immediately corrected. After the correction, a statement for the right amount be generated. Thus, your presence of mind can save you money.

17. Time Costs Money

Always try to pay your bills or any other payments on time. All of us know that not paying a bill on time means paying penalty for late payment. This unnecessary wastage of money is because of our laziness and negligence. So, make it a point to pay your bills on time and avoid wastage of money.

18. Discipline

Discipline makes a person perfect. Maintaining discipline in your life means organizing your life completely. If your life is organized that means you are saving a lot of money. Is it possible? Yes! Suppose, you are paying all your bills on their due date that means you are saving a lot of money. Thus, you can save your hard-earned money all through proper organization. All it demands is a little discipline and your money will be safe in your pocket.

19. Spend on Needs

It is very necessary to differentiate between wants and needs. There is a small degree of difference between the two.

Make all your purchases need-based, occasionally making allowance for want-based shopping. If you base your purchasing on needs, you will see that you can cut down on a whole lot of needless purchasing. And save a substantial amount.

20. Save gas

If you act a little responsibly then you can save a lot of money. For instance, try to stay in such an area where all the essentials are in the same local area. This kind of organization can help you in saving a lot of gas. Once in a week go for a small drive, and complete all your errands.

21. Maintaining Your Garden

If you are looking to add more plants to your garden, you will find that buying plants can be quite expensive. Look around your garden and see if you can split some existing plants and use them where you want them. You may even ask your friends or neighbors, if they can spare some surplus plants or split them for you.

If you are planning to buy a lawnmower, buy one that mulches leaves. This will save you money in terms of buying mulch for your plants and flowerbeds.

22. Sharing a Ride

All of us want to live in an environment friendly atmosphere. But, there are so many vehicles that are causing air pollution. We are inhaling a lot of poisonous smoke and killing ourselves gradually. Thus, we should think about this growing danger and go for carpool. Carpool is not only useful in reducing pollution, but also saves a lot of money. So, look out for the neighbors, who share the same route or any of your co-workers and enjoy the ride together. By opting for carpool, you are acting as a responsible citizen and incrementing your savings.

23. Minimize the Subscriptions

Receiving your favorite storybooks or monthly magazines through mail is really fun. However, subscribing to several magazines at a time is nothing but wastage. Thus, act intelligently and cancel most of the subscriptions. Select one or two of your favorite magazines and continue their subscriptions. Thus, you can enjoy the magazines and will be able to save money also.

24. Fashion and Accessories

Most of us want to be with the trend and look fashionable. To acquire these fashionable clothes we spent a lot of money. Is it reasonable? You can act intelligently by dressing casually, i.e. in your normal clothes and you can enhance the looks of these normal clothes by adding trendy accessories to it. This act will serve your purpose of being trendy. Moreover, you will be able to save money.

25. Herbal Remedies

One can save a lot of money by using certain home remedies while facing some health problems. There is no need of rushing to the doctor for a sore throat. Instead of paying for his consultation and medicines, make a paste of butter mixed with ginger and sugar and take it.

Hot teddy is a sure treatment for severe colds. Take it before going to bed. These small tricks or herbs can prove to be quite beneficial in saving your money. Try to gather maximum information about these home remedies and save money.

26. Proper Insulation at Home

Due to improper insulation, an average home is wasting hundreds of dollars of their hard-earned money. Just, take few steps and you can prevent this wastage. Take care that there should not be any entry of drafts through windows, doors or the fireplace. Your house needs perfect insulation. Once insulation of your house is in order, you will see a considerable deduction in your utility bill.

27. Hobbies Can Become a Profession

All of us have some hidden skills. It could be singing, dancing, knitting, cooking, painting, woodworking or anything. You can enjoy your hobby and at the same time earn from it. For Instance, if your hobby is knitting you can sell your knitted goods and earn from it. If you have skills in dancing, singing, or an expertise in any language then you can also earn by taking classes in the local community college. It is a nice way of earning money, as you are enjoying what you are doing while earning.

Dave Clark is a experienced article writer and has been in the industry for many years, he has written many books and is very knowledgeable in various fields, Dave also works for Cushy Sofa a supplier of Memory Foam Sofas, Memory Foam Mattresses, Memory Foam Toppers, Memory Foam Pillows and Divans []

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