Are You Giving an Interest-Free Loan to the Government?

If you are going to receive more than $500 as a tax refund, you have been giving an interest-free loan to the government.

interest-free loan to the government

Are You Giving an Interest-Free Loan to the Government?

Many people get excited while waiting for their big “windfall” after filing their taxes. They think it is a gift from the government…it’s not!

A tax REFUND means that you overpaid and they are giving it back to you! It’s not extra money that you’ve earned.  It’s the money you have already earned, and gave to them to “hold on to” until you ask for it back. Then they return it to you without paying any interest.

Here’s an example for ya: You’re expecting to receive a big, fat tax refund of $5,000 this year. Woo Hoo! But guess what? This means that you overpaid the government $5,000 or $417 a month.  That is $417 that you could have had in your pocket each month. I hope you’re thinking, “That money could have helped me pay off my debts or fattened up my savings account!” If that’s what you’re thinking, we’re now on the same page. 😉

What can you do to change this? First, calculate how much tax you should be paying each year. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator to help figure this out.

Once you figure out the amount of taxes you will owe, adjust the allowances on your Form W-4. The IRS Withholding Calculator will tell you how many allowances to take.

Every year you should run the calculators to figure out how much you will owe that year. Then,  you can make the adjustments to your W-4, and begin putting the extra money you will start receiving into your savings or towards paying off your debt.

You’re welcome! 🙂

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Are You Financially Happy?

Are you financially happy? Most people don’t consider themselves to be financially happy unless their money is right. Well, what exactly is “right”? In my mind, it means no or low debt, money in the bank for a rainy day and being able to pay the bills on time.

financially happy

Are You Financially Happy?

If you don’t consider yourself to be financially happy, here are a few steps you can take to get there.

  1. Create and live by your budget. I know, there’s that B word again! Unfortunately, there’s no getting around having a budget if you want to be financially happy. You have to know how much is coming in and how much is going out each month so you can plan accordingly. If you need help getting a budget started, check out my previous post about creating a budget.
  2. Set money goals. Once you have fine tuned your budget you can begin to set financial goals. Write down the ways you’d like your money to work for you. Do you want to save for retirement, vacation,  or college? Having a budget will allow you to see how much you can devote to each area and then you can begin working towards those goals. Be sure to set short term (within a year) and long term (5 years) goals.
  3. Pay your bills on time! Paying your bills on time will increase your credit rating and allow you to receive low-interest loans, if needed. When you create your budget, be sure to allocate money for fun stuff like shopping, eating out, and entertainment. Having these line items in your budget will enable you to use those funds instead of dipping into money allocated for bills. It may take a few months to build those accounts up, which means you will have to reign in spending until you’ve reached a comfortable amount.
  4. Put money away for emergencies. Trust me, they will come. If you begin putting money away you’ll be ready and won’t have to resort to using credit for that emergency. Your budget will be able to tell you how much you can set aside.
  5. Stop comparing what you have to others. Try to find satisfaction and happiness in what you already have, not in the things you think you must have to be happy. I believe happiness is a state of mind and we can learn to be happy in whatever state we are currently in. As Dave Ramsey says, “Stop keeping up with the Joneses. They’re broke!”
  6. Plan for the future. In addition to saving for emergencies, you should also plan for events that will happen in the future. Life insurance, disability insurance, retirement and college are a few examples of things we need to plan and save for. They may not make you financially happy now, but they definitely will in the future!
  7. Stick with the plan. There will be many times when you will want to throw in the towel and hop off the budget train, but trust me, if you stick with the plan, you will see how much farther along you will be in 3 months, then six months and finally one year’s time. Seeing how much you’ve accomplished will inspire you to keep going and you’ll begin to experience that financial happiness you’ve been looking for.

These are just a few tips to increase your financial happiness, but I know there are MANY more! Add any tips you may have in the comments section below. We all could use a little motivation. 🙂

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The Easiest Way to Save Money on Summer Outings

Summertime is supposed to be the laziest time of the year. If that’s so, why are so many of us busier during the summer than any other time of the year? This post will show you the easiest way to save money on summer outings.

save money on summer Outings the easy way

Save Money on Summer Outings the Easy Way

Our family hit the ground running on the first day of their summer break and we haven’t slowed down yet!

One problem with all this busyness is that you have the potential to spend a lot more money in the summer with all of the activities and trips planned. So I set out to find ways to save money on summer outings the easy way.

While planning a visit to an amusement park this summer, I came across a few ways to save on this very expensive excursion. Thank goodness, because before the discounts, it would have cost us over $300 for a one-day outing!

Hopefully, these tips will help you save money while planning your summer outings.

  1. Use some type of coupon. Coupons can be found in stores, soda cans, newspapers, memberships with warehouse clubs, AAA and by going to the website. Usually there are discounted prices to be had if you go online and purchase advance tickets. If you are in the military, be sure to inquire about discounts. A lot of attractions offer free admission if you are active in the military. There are great discounts for those retired from the military also.
  2. Bring food with you. Most places will not allow you to bring food in, but you can fill a cooler and leave it in your car to enjoy when you get hungry. It will definitely be cheaper and possibly healthier this way.
  3. If you decide to eat at the park, try to eat before 11 am or after 1. Most people eat between those times and the food lines will be super long and eat up your fun time. (Not really a money saver-but definitely a time saver 🙂 )
  4. Try to get the group rate. Get a few families to go along with you to receive a discounted rate. You’ll also save on gas and parking fees if you carpool. Also, if you or a member of your family is active or retired military look out for discounts for those as well.
  5. Allocate a set amount for each child to spend on souvenirs. Purchase the items right before you leave, so you don’t have to worry about carrying them around with you all day.

Those are some of my tips for saving money on summer outings. If you have any tips to add, feel free to include them in the comments section below.

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