Spring Cleaning

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The weather finally is getting warmer, the clocks have sprung forward, and it’s time for some spring cleaning! I enjoy cleaning out my closet as much as the next gal, but let’s get serious. Spring is a time for cleaning up everything, including those pesky personal finance tasks that you’ve been putting off.

Here are a couple of things you might want to consider getting done to complete your spring cleaning:

  1. Finish your taxes. If you didn’t do it yet, do it soon because the deadline is April 15. Be sure to use a tax professional to help you get the most deductions possible.
  2. Get a handle on your debt. Start organizing bills and stop putting them aside. Figure out how much you owe everyone, figure out what debt has the highest interest rate, and focus on paying down that debt first.
  3. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes you haven’t worn in 24 months. Did I mention that charitable donations are tax-deductible?
  4. Shop around for insurance. Have you been using the same company for 5 years without comparing rates? You might be able to reduce insurance rates by comparison shopping.
  5. Cancel subscriptions that you don’t use. Have you been receiving a magazine you don’t care for anymore? Are you still subscribing to xBox live even though you don’t use it? Cancel the subscriptions and stop paying for service you don’t use.
  6. Compare shop for cable/internet. Some companies offer a deal if you “bundle” cable/internet and commit to a year or two long contract. If you are feeling really adventurous, cancel cable completely and try using Hulu/Netflix.
  7. Check on your cell phone usage. Is there a new plan available that can better suit your needs? If you cell phone plan expires soon, ask yourself if you really need that fancy new smartphone. Odds are, you don’t.
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10 Potential Tax Deductions

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Tax season is upon us. It’s just about everyone’s least favorite time of year. Doing your taxes is definitely a bit of a drag, but it doesn’t need to be as painful as many people make it out to be. Try hiring a professional to help you get through the process, or, if you are a true DIY-er, pick up an at home tax program. No matter how you do your taxes, remember, there are tons of items that are tax deductible. Here’s a short list of some of the things that may contribute to your refund this year:

  1. Mortgage Interest
  2. Medical Expenses
  3. Home and Business Improvements (Especially if they increase energy efficiency.)
  4. Student Loan Interest
  5. Business Expenses (Potentially everything from pencils and paperclips to entertaining clients during a business trip.)
  6. Transportation and Accommodations (Do you use your car for business purposes? Did attend a work related seminar last year? Do you travel to a monthly business meeting in another city?)
  7. Charitable Donations
  8. New Car (Again, especially of the energy efficient variety.)
  9. Expenses Incurred While Seeking Employment (You may be able to write off your new “interview” suit.)
  10. Continuing Education (Did you renew a professional certification? Maybe you took a few classes to brush up on skills you need to move your career forward?)

Remember, this is not a comprehensive list, and you may qualify for even more deductions than I’ve listed. Also, be aware that this isn’t a be-all end-all list. Consult a tax professional to find out how this year’s tax code applies to you and your individual situation.