I'm NOT a certified tax person, financial adviser or anything of the sort. Heck, I'm not even a certified babysitter anymore. But anyone who knows me CAN tell you that I'm an absolute geek about money. It never ceases to amaze  me the steps that my friends DON'T take, to not screw themselves come tax time.


DON'T BE AN IDIOT TO BEGIN WITH - What I mean by that is don't go claiming everything under the sun with your employer. (Your Cocker Spaniel is not a dependent.) Don't be afraid to have a little tax taken out for God's sake. Yeah, there are some that argue "Why Let The Government Keep Your Money All Year" and then get a refund? Well, most people I know don't have several thousand dollars lying around to pay a tax bill. It's safer to just let "them" take out a healthy amount year round and then you KNOW you'll get some back.

DONATE SOMETHING - Yeah, everybody pretty much does their "I totally donated $500 worth of goods to charity this year". Why? Because if it's $500 or less you don't need a bunch of added forms. (I think receipts are a good idea but that's not my point.) Donate something bigger, then write it off. Don't really need your car? Seriously....donate it to Montana PBS. Have more money than most? Pick your fave local charity and really make a difference this year.

FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU'LL NEED TO RETIRE - Screw the kids. They can borrow money for college. Nobody is going to give you a loan for the Rest Home. Figure it out. NOW. Knowing how much you'll need is the BEST WAY to motivate. Even if you only stash a little every week.....STASH IT. There's a beautiful concept called compound interest that will work wonders for you the sooner you do it. CALCULATE "YOUR NUMBER" HERE.

Plus, you can often deduct money you save now and pay taxes on it later or vice versa. Just depends what you're comfortable with. Either way, start getting to know where your money goes a little more. You'll be amazed at how much more you'll end up with at tax time.

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