8 Easy Ways to Get Your Finances in Order Before Tax Season Hits

It’s that time of year again.

Tax season has arrived. It’s no fun, but you can’t skip it. And if you are in control of your finances and know where your money is going, it’ll be a whole lot less stressful.

Here are some tips to help you understand your money and make stronger financial choices in 2015.

Start Budgeting
If you’re not doing this already, it will change your life. Once you see what you’re spending and where all your money is going, you will immediately see where you have been wasting money. It’s easy to get into the habit of mindlessly spending on dinners and drinks every week, but when you see on paper that you spent $1000 this month just on going out with friends, you will stop offering to always buy that extra round.

Set Financial Goals
You have to know what you want before you can save for it. A Paris vacation, perhaps? Maybe you want to go back to school, or pay off the school debt you still have within two years. Goals are easier to stick with and achieve when you write them down. Set all your financial goals into three categories: short term, medium term, and long term.

Know How Much You’ll Be Taxed Before You Accept a Job
Being prepared for tax time means knowing what to expect, and having enough saved up to easily cover it if you end up having to pay. Before you even accept a job, use the paycheck calculator to see how much you will be making after taxes and ensure the pay you take home is enough to meet your financial goals for the year.

Set Up Automatic Payments
We all get super busy and forget to pay the cable bill on time – it happens. But is it worth having your credit score negatively affected because you forgot? If the option is available – and it is with most companies these days – set up all your monthly payments to be automatically deducted from your account so you’re never stuck with a late fee or a reduced credit score again.

Create a Mint Account
If you want to make budgeting super easy, and have no problem with doing your budgeting online, Mint is a simple way to track your bills, debt, income and expenses – and can help you save for big financial goals.

Consider No Fee Banking or Credit Unions
We’re all sick of paying the bank countless fees just to hold and move our money. Lucky for you, you do have options. You can try a no fee bank like PC Financial, or consider looking into credit unions, where the owners are the members, rather than shareholders. This means the savings are passed on directly to you.

Contribute to Emergency Savings
No matter how much debt you do or don’t have, it is always a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside. You never know when that job is going to disappear or a health issue is going to come up. Even if you can only contribute a small amount each paycheck, by the end of the year it will add up to a useful chunk of change. Don’t forget to put the money in a high interest savings account so its value isn’t eroded by inflation. 

Take a Class at the Library
It goes without saying that we were never taught about finances in school (unless you studied business or accounting). Financial literacy is something most of us lack, but the library aims to help us change that. Take a free class on effective tax strategies, estate planning, or understanding your credit score.


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