HAPPY NEW YEAR!

OUT WITH THE OLD & IN WITH THE NEW!

Time once again to look around and examine what financial adjustments may be necessary. Hopefully, 2012 was good to you and yours. But, many talented people lost their jobs due to outsourcing, absorption, or any number of other corporate decisions. In that case, it’s important to examine all areas where you may need to cut back, change your habits, or even pursue a new career.

START BY CUTTING YOUR ENERGY COSTS

Depending on your climate, you may be paying to heat the great outdoors. Gaps can develop around window sashes and sills, or door jams and thresholds. The cure doesn’t cost a fortune, but takes some focus to locate all the entry points. One old, but reliable, test is to run a lighter around windows, doors and even wall outlets to see whether the flame flickers. If so, cold air is coming into your home and the solutions are simple.

  1. Cover your windows with plastic, using any number of kits on the market for winterizing your home.
  2. Replace the weather strips on your doors/windows and install insulating inserts around your electrical outlets – products available at any home improvement store.
  3. Or, if you’re strapped for cash and have only a few areas in need of attention, fold a cloth (as simple as a napkin, towel, etc.) and simply fill the gaps you find. Example: gaps can form between the top and bottom sashes of a window, or between the bottom sash and the window sill. These gaps can be easily blocked to prevent cold air from entering, thus increasing your heating costs. When the weather warms, merely remove the cloth, towel, or whatever until needed again. This method allows for a clear view outside rather than the cloudy appearance of plastic, if used.

By this time, you may be thinking that a programmable thermostat may also prove beneficial. While they can certainly save you money, they can also cost you money if not used properly. J.D. Roth covers the good, the bad, and the ugly in his article on GET RICH SLOWLY. Rather than condense J.D.’s research here, take a look for yourself. I certainly learned something from the article. Thanks, J.D. – good stuff.

IT’S TAX TIME!

Time to start gathering records for filing your taxes. You’ve no doubt noticed a flood of ads for tax software, services and various companies promising to get your refund FAST! You’ve worked hard all year, so you owe yourself a thorough, careful review of your personal financial situation to get the biggest bang for your buck. Avoid the temptation to get your refund check overnight if doing so involves paying exorbitant fees for a short-term tax loan. If you’re really handy with the tax code, activating a subscription to use the disc you received in the mail may be the right move for you. But, for those of us who’d rather trust the pros, fear not. If you don’t have, or can’t afford, a true tax professional, the IRS can assist with preparing your returns. And, you may live in a state which offers certain tax advantages if you lost your job during 2012. But, be diligent to ensure that your employer properly prepares your W2, which is due by the end of January – TICK TOCK! If the W2 isn’t properly completed, you may encounter problems by having to re-file your return to obtain the tax advantage you were due the first time around. Note that not all states offer such incentives, and only a competent tax professional can tell you whether your scenario qualifies. Good luck!

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