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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Did you think I forgot?

Yep, it's our weekly tax tip. :)

Are you getting a refund? Or do you owe? The thing to be looking at right now is your withholding. Huge refunds may mean that you don't need to have as many taxes taken out of your paycheck. A big balance may mean that you haven't had enough taken out.

Why do this analysis? For some people, adjusting their withholding may mean an extra $50 a week in their paychecks. For others, taking out that extra $25 may mean that you don't have to write that big check at the end of the year.

A few people will argue that they like big refunds, because they plan on it every year for things like vacations. Here's a tip: the IRS does not pay interest on your taxes for the year. Which means they're using your money for free for a year. If you're using it as a personal savings account, you're better off stashing it in a regular savings account where you will at least get paid some interest. Especially if your employer has direct deposit options, it's not that hard to have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited into a savings account, rather than it all into your checking. OR, which is what I do, I have bimonthly automatic withdrawls from my checking account to put money into my Roth IRA (you could also put it into a regular savings account). As I tell my clients, even if you only put $25 a month into savings, it only takes a few years for that to turn into thousands.

Yes, I know, I can hear you all saying, "But I'm BROKE." And you're gonna stay broke unless you can find a way to start putting aside some money. Let's face it, we all throw away $25 a month. Why not do something good for yourself?

So if you're getting a huge refund every year, consider adjusting your withholding, taking that money, and putting it aside for yourself. Maybe you're being conservative, like me, and putting it all for retirement. But maybe you want a new house. Or your first house. Or maybe, for once, you're going to take your dream vacation. But this is a gift you can give yourself.

For those of you who dread the big day, save yourself some stress, and have an extra bit taken out of your check. Even if you do $25 a month, it'll be a much smaller bill and you won't give yourself another ulcer trying to figure out where the money is going to come from.

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