How to Simplify Your Management of Money

Over the past few months I’ve noticed my money management system has become more complex than ever before. Organization can eventually lead to gross levels of complexity which of course I want to reduce. But how should one simplify their management of money? Can it really be done? Join me for a moment let’s discuss how we can cut down on small management tasks that consume so much of our day. How Money Management Becomes Complicated Remember the time when you didn’t manage your money? It was the time when you lived paycheck to paycheck, hoped that the credit card company would raise your limit, and swiped your cards so fast the plastic nearly melted from overuse. “ Budget ” wasn’t in your vocabulary. You didn’t care about retirement – you cared about the here and now! Remember that? Then something changed. Perhaps you got married and thought that you better be on the same page with your spouse about money. Maybe you went through bankruptcy and declared that you’d never declare it again. You were tired of having no money and of always being stressed out! So you got serious. Perhaps you cut up your credit cards and signed up for a cash back debit card instead. You might have found Dave Ramsey and started on his  7 Baby Steps . Everything changed. But then, over the years, your budget seemed a grow a dozen new categories. You found yourself moving 13 cents of interest from one bank account to another so that you could properly mark it as “income” in your budget. Tedious little money management tasks started taking up huge chunks of time, and you realized something had to be done. Perhaps parts of that was your story. Parts of it were mine. The problem with money management is that – like any type of management spanned out over long periods of time – it eventually grows into a system that is overwhelmingly burdensome. All of our organizational and budget fixes develop into some kind of monster we never intended to create. How do we turn the clock back to the time when we could keep things simple? How to Keep Money Management Simple Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. – Albert Einstein Here are some ideas on what you can do to streamline your money management. They’re not for everyone, but some of these have helped my wife and I in our quest for a simplified system: 1. Combine and reduce the number of categories in your budget. Over time I find that budget categories multiply. For example, you might two Fun Money categories: one for spending cash and the other for spending with your debit card. You might instead choose to pay just with cash for these transactions. Or perhaps you have Groceries and Eating Out categories that you could combine into one category: Food. Make your categories as simple as possible, but no simpler . . . . 2. Don’t jump through big financial hoops to get small rewards. I’ve actually asked one of my banks to stop paying me interest. Why? Again, that 13 cents is quite pesky and takes up more of my time moving it to the proper account and reconciling it in my system than it’s worth. If it was 13 dollars, I might change my mind on that. But to maintain the integrity of how I manage my money, dropping the small amount of interest in this case was justifiable. Instead, find rewards that are worth your time. PerkStreet Financial , for example, nets us an extra $300+ every year. That’s worth switching banks, so we did. 3. Do a weekly review of your finances. Instead of signing into your bank’s website every night to reconcile your transactions, you might find it more convenient to reconcile your transactions weekly. This seems to be frequent enough to catch any transactions you may have forgotten to subtract from your budget, but not so much as to cause you to become obsessed with making sure everything is accurate. I do, however, recommend logging into your bank account every few days to scan your transactions for anything that might be suspicious. The last thing you want to do is find out someone has fraudulently used your debit card a week after it happened. Also, the weekly review is a great time to check any investments you might have. How are they preforming? Be careful to make frequent changes though, you don’t want to try and time the market. Think long term. 4. Rethink everything at least once a year. The start of a new year is a good time to review your entire money management system to make sure that you haven’t made it more complicated than it should be. Rethink what you’re doing at least once a year and you’ll surely find ways to keep the complexity down. What do you do to keep the management of money simple while still maintaining a solid budget? Leave a comment below! Related Articles: How to Earn Over $700 from Your Banks Each Year How to budget with ING direct How to Create a Low Income Budget $25 Bonus For Opening PerkStreet Account John Frainee is a personal finance writer at TheChristianDollar.com . His goal is to provide biblical financial principles that encourage people to live healthier lives. Beyond personal finance, John enjoys spending time with his wife and two crazy cats, playing a competitive game of Monopoly, and reading just about anything he can get his hands on. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook .

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Free STATE Income Tax Filing Online

It isn’t too difficult to find a place to file your federal tax return for free, but finding a service to file your state return for free is another story. I did a little digging and found a few options to consider. But, let’s first start with getting a free federal return… File your federal return for free! If your AGI (adjusted gross income) for 2011 is less than $57,000, it should be very easy for you to get your federal tax return filed for free. In the past I have gone to the IRS free efile webpage , because they have links to a bunch of tax preparers that offer free tax return filing (for Federal anyway). Some of them offer a state return to be filed for free as well, but most don’t. Watch this video for the specific instruction on how to use the IRS Free File system: If you are interested in this option, you will have to use the links on the IRS page in order to get the free efile deal they are offering. Many of the tax preparation websites listed will not offer you the free efile if you go directly to their website. How to file your state return for free! As you have probably noticed, many places offer a free filing of a Federal return but don’t offer free state filing. But there are a few ways to get your state tax return done for free. 1. Free state tax filing websites MyFreeTaxes.com – This is a not-for-profit with funding from the Walmart Foundation, The United Way and H&R block – and they offer free state and federal tax returns if you meet the criteria. According to their website, “most Americans can file their taxes for free online or offline (we have a van tour across the country), state and federal, as long as they make under $57,000 per year.” TurboTax Freedom – The free version of TurboTax is available to filers with adjusted gross income of $30,000 or less. If you live in one of the following states they will also allow you to file your state return for free… AL, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NY, ND, NC, OK, OR, RI, SC, VT, WV. If your state is not listed it will cost you $14.95 to file the state return. On-line Taxes – This one is pretty simple. You just need to be under 20 years of age and you can get your federal and state return filed for free. If you don’t qualify both returns cost $7.95. They are a little bit different than many of the other places in that they offer free customer service with a toll-free number, E-mail, and Live tax help. They also allow you to view the forms BEFORE paying. Taxhawk – Prepare, print, and file your federal taxes online for FREE! Your state tax return is FREE if your federal AGI is less than $20,000 and you live in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin. Beehive.org – Filing your own taxes with BeeHive.org is easy. In order to be eligible free federal and state income tax filing, you need: Earned income in 2011 of less than $57,000 A valid email address A valid Social Security Number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) TaxSlayer – TaxSlayer.com offers FREE online tax preparation and e-file of federal and state income tax returns if your household income is less than $56,000 AND you can answer “Yes” to any of the following: Are age 25 or younger or age 65 or older Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Federal (AGI) Adjusted Gross Income is $10,000 or less Serve as active duty military (including Reservists, Coast Guard, and National Guard). Taxpayers must have a Form W-2 from the Military for the tax year in which they are filing. UPDATE: Tax Slayer no longer offers Free state tax filing.  2. Go to your local state government website Also, you can go directly to you state’s Department of Revenue website to see if they offer a free filing option. For a shortcut, head over to this page which has links to each states free efile (if they have one). 3. Get the paper forms and mail it in Yes, it sounds pretty archaic, but if you really want to file your state return for free and don’t qualify for the options listed above, this might not be a bad option. If you have already completed the Federal form online, it should be pretty easy to fill out the state return. You can get the forms from your local library or you can print them off at your state’s Department of Revenue website. One last tip about e-filing your tax return Do it before Friday morning. The government process tax returns in week-long blocks. So Friday morning at 11am, they process all the returns they received over the previous week. So if you can sneak it in right before the cutoff (Fridays at 11am EST) you will just get your refund that much quicker… Related Articles: Free federal tax filing online File Federal And State Taxes for Free? Free Federal Tax Software Download with TurboTax File your taxes for free Bob enjoys dark chocolate, paying off debt, giving, Foosball, loose-leaf tea, helping people succeed, learning, anything God created, playing guitar, Philippians, excellence, Chick-Fil-A, and making his wife smile. He started ChristianPF in 2007 and Co-Founded Blogging Your Passion in 2011. Find him on Facebook & Twitter .

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How To Check Your Credit Report for Free – GS20

Video Intro Can’t see the video in your RSS reader or email? Click Here! If you haven’t checked your credit report in a while, lets do it today. While there are many sites that will charge you to check it, you can get a copy of your report from the big 3 credit reporting agencies for free by getting it from AnnualCreditReport.com Even if you don’t plan on buying a house any time soon, I recommend checking your report for errors now. I waited until just a couple months before purchasing a house and I found out the hard way that getting credit report errors removed can be very time consuming. You don’t want to be in a situation where an error causes you to get a higher interest rate on your loan, so do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes to check it for errors! If you want to pay for a credit monitoring service (which you probably don’t need if you do this regularly)  TrustedID is one of the best (and cheapest) ones out there. Homework: Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get a copy of your 3 credit reports for free. Check to be sure each is accurate Related Articles: Getting credit report errors removed Get A Free Credit Report and Score: But Does it Even Matter? Free Credit Report FreeCreditReport.com is not free Bob enjoys dark chocolate, paying off debt, giving, Foosball, loose-leaf tea, helping people succeed, learning, anything God created, playing guitar, Philippians, excellence, Chick-Fil-A, and making his wife smile. He started ChristianPF in 2007 and Co-Founded Blogging Your Passion in 2011. Find him on Facebook & Twitter .

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