Let’s help you get 3 D’s in personal finance this month. As on Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the letter D, because we’ve been trained since preschool to get A’s. Are you a personal finance slacker? This post is for you!
Get a D+ here!
Let’s consider these 3 D’s: Decluttering, Disaster and Discussion.
- Three things you can do today! Financial decluttering- included here are things like unsubscribing from shopping site emails, from Groupon to misleading requests for your bank account number or to “verify” your order from BigBoxCity.com Unsubscribe, delete and mark them as spam until they disappear.
- Spreading the wealth is not always a good thing. Do you have multiple financial accounts spread around town, or the country? Do you still have an old 401(k) account with a former employer? If you had had a life changing event-did you change your beneficiary? Beneficiary choices always trump your will.
- Are you still receiving multiple credit card or insurance offers? You can stop them, you know.
- What to have in the house in case you are stuck for 3-7 days, and what to take with you for an evacuation (say, for a wildfire or a hurricane)
- You might think of your children first, or maybe not….Quick, what are the first three things or people you are going to grab? Start there and then add to the list throughout September, which is National Preparedness Month. #NatlPrep on Twitter
- Practical digital tasks you can accomplish quickly. Load up an 8G flash drive on a lanyard with scanned important documents and photos-I got this tip from a friend who is a trained Urban Disaster Responder. Place in your disaster box or backpack.
- Upload these same documents into your regular cloud storage.
- Complete this handy document created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the US.
- Actual cash somewhere ($10 in quarters, in case you find a working washing machine) and small denominated dollar bills. Remember the comedian David Brenner’s last wish here-“Bury me with $100 in dollar bills in case tipping is suggested at my final destination”.
This tax post is for FAFSA filers old and new; includes parents of this year’s college seniors and parents of students in college now.
It’s a good day to…”Do Your Taxes”. Or at least generate a decent estimate.
Tax Forms 1040
Who should do an estimate by January 1st?
1. Parents of high school seniors off to college next year
2. Parents of current college students
3. Self employed people
4. Taxpayers with a change in income, plus or minus 20%+ over last year.
This post focuses on FAFSA filers…
Experienced FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filers know the joy of spending a part of the upcoming holiday weekend on personal finance and disclosing your finances to another government agency. I invite you to include your high school senior/college student for part of this exercise so that they understand that they aren’t the only ones who have to fill out forms so that they can go to a post-secondary educational opportunity. Some reasons to do so:
Funding college can feel like this!
- If the family won’t be eligible for college aid due to the family income or assets, they need to see why.
- If the only way they can go to college is due to a lack of resources, they need to understand the forms and their importance.
- This is a good time to remind them to seek scholarship applications-many open up January 1st of each year.
- Review your in-house rules for having “skin-in-the-game”. For instance, We expect you to earn/contribute $5000/yr towards this cost. Or you need to apply for X number of scholarships.
Note 1: The FAFSA asks for many pieces of financial information and despite the requests for early completion, most people have not even thought about their tax filings on New Year’s Day of any year. For divorced parents, it is good to communicate in advance about the required information.
Note 2: It is always recommended to complete the FAFSA, even if you think your family will not be eligible for any aid. In the coming year, there might be some program that requires the FAFSA, despite no financial aid award now.
Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible-your place in line matters for aid awards. This applies to federal and private sources of funding. A list of deadlines are here.
You can order a PIN to sign the FAFSA now at https://pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp .
Print some tax forms. (for notes and listmaking) Choose an online tax calculator such as http://www.ownersmanualdownload.net/moneychimp-tax-calculator-2014 or http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/tax-planning/1040-form-tax-calculator.aspx. Please note, these are for illustrative purposes only. The idea is to choose one that is easy for you to work with. Please use your favorite search engine to select one for yourself.
Get ‘er done!