If you haven't already filed your tax return, do it sooner than later. Companies like H&R Block and Turbo Tax are increasing their prices for filing as the April 14th deadline quickly approaches.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cricket Wireless. All opinions are 100% my own.
I love finding shortcuts and getting what I want fast, and I recently discovered that applications today, such as the TurboTax SnapTax mobile app from Intuit and the H&R Block 1040EZ Tax App, allow those who fit within set criteria to easily snap a photo of their W-2, answer a few simple questions and file from their phone. Whether they are the half (50%) that indicate they file early, or the limited few (5%) that admit to filing last-minute, qualified Americans can use these apps to safely and effectively file via smartphone.
Did you know that 45% of Americans are comfortable filing taxes via smartphone? I'd actually be part of that 45% – I was an early adopter of the mobile deposits (by simply taking a photo of my check)! I love convenience and filing taxes via smartphone is convenient too!
I've filed my taxes myself and at a tax preparation center for H&R Block but now that I've got this awesome side business of blogging, I've really enjoyed the user friendliness of Turbo Tax online. If you're self-employed and plan to do the daunting task of filing your own taxes, I highly recommend the ease of use with Turbo Tax.
Many of you will receive tax refunds, but how many of you plan to use that money wisely? If you're the type of person who spends freely, don't spend another dime until you read these tips on 7 things you can do with your tax refund (and don't worry, some of the stuff in here is fun).
1. Give a little. The first thing I always do when I receive money is to use 10% of it towards giving to others in ways like tithing at church, purchasing and donating items for the needy, donating money to charitable organizations, or even helping a friend or family member in need. I truly believe in the power of giving – that you reap what you sow and the seeds you plant will grow ten-fold (and in my situation, hundred-fold). This is an investment as much as it is helping others, so give a little.
2. Use a portion of it to reduce your debt. Not all of it, just a portion. I like to put my money in different “baskets” and the magic number seems to be 20% (1/5th of your tax refund). This won't make you feel so guilty that you've put all your eggs in one basket and will give you the satisfaction of reducing down money you would've eventually had to pay back anyways. Plus, think of the money you'll be saving on interest fees (that's a double win).
3. Start a side business. This is another great way to finally start that side gig, side hustle, side business (or whatever new term they're called) for yourself. Things like a website, supplies, equipment – those can be purchased from your tax return to help you get the things you need to finally start something that can grow into limitless opportunities. Think of it as another way to invest in yourself and in your growth for the future and your family's future. When I first started blogging, I only needed to invest a few hundred dollars to get off the ground running. As my blog and blogging income grew, I invested more back into my business. This can be the same for anyone wanting to start a small business in any industry or niche. The most important step is the first one – TAKE ACTION!
4. Take control of your monthly budget and finances. Now that you've got this money, figure out a way to keep as much of it as you can for as long as you can. There’s no feeling like knowing you’ve got money coming. Assess your monthly budget and finances and figure out ways to save. I took a long look at my recent budget, and found that my most expensive costs were cable, internet, and mobile phone service. In fact, my monthly cell phone bill was averaging $200 each month for three lines! OUCH! That's $2,400 each year!!! With Cricket, you can get that “tax refund feeling” all year long. Switching to Cricket Wireless means more money every month to take control and fund those things you want to do in 2014. They have a pretty amazing 5-Smartphone Lines for $100/month offer that cuts my wireless bill in half (offer available January 26 to March 29)! This is the year you get a better return with an investment in you.
By the way, for those of you seeing ads from companies like T-Mobile on their trade-in program — read the fine print carefully. The program has terms and conditions you definitely need to know before committing to them. Cricket Wireless probably has the best trade-in program going on right now – here's the skinny:
5. Instead of buying material things, buy experiences. Do things like ride a hot air balloon, go skydiving, take your family on that theme park vacation. Make more memories, because those are what will last a lifetime.
6. Further your education. Take classes that will help you further your career skills and training and/or get that certification you've always wanted to attain. This will also benefit you long-term, so invest in yourself. This also goes for your family – enroll them in extracurricular activities of interest to your children and significant other (dance, basketball, soccer, piano, gymnastics, etc). This will help them stretch, be challenged, and grow and is a wise investment to use with your tax refund.
7. Tackle your tasks on your To-Do List. This is a great opportunity to use your tax refund on those much needed action items on your To-Do List (like replacing the tires, buying new outfits for work, getting repairs done in your home). Remember to allocate some (not all) of it towards this – I'd say 20% or less.