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Quick Budget

If you’ve never had to budget before it can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. There are all kinds of elaborate methods to create very exact budgets that track everything. For most of us, this is probably overkill and prevents us from getting to the task of actually saving money. To get started today you can do something very simple. Take all of your absolute necessary expenses. We’ll call these our fixed expenses. These are the things that we can’t stop paying without making some major life changes.

Examples, include

Mortgage $1,000
Babysitting $500
Utilities $250

The next step is to list out your monthly income

Salary $3,000
Spouse Salary $2,000

Next you will need to think about how much you would like to save. You’ll need a cash buffer and to save for retirement. You may want to think about other goals such as your next car and whether or not you will save for your kids college education. This is the whole idea of pay yourself first. It represents a way to make sure you put your savings goal first.

The difference is then the amount you can spend on all the other things.
Obviously, you need to think about groceries, gas and everything else that you need day to day. I purposefully lump all of these items into one big general fund. Because they involve a large range of trade offs that you will need to think about. This is the opportunity to get creative.

You can think about what you truly value and use to make your life fulfilling. Personally, there is no way I could actually live without Internet access, but I could live without my NetFlix account. To save on gas I started carpooling and got a special fuel perks card. If I really want some purchase that I can’t afford perhaps I’ll find some coupons or cut back in other spots.

A great one we have started is cooking with our kids. We save money by not going out and our kids really enjoy it. I’m sure you can think of similar examples to help you cut back spending, but still enjoy life.

A Case for Cash

I’ve heard financial planning experts talk about cutting up credit cards and telling people to use a cash based system to manage their finances. I’ve typically thought didn’t apply to me. I always paid off my balance every month and had an excellent credit score. Recently, I wanted to tighten down how much my family spends on various purchases. We’ve always used credit cards for every day purchases, but the credit card bill tended to fluctuate every month based on the families desires. I’ve tried various mechanisms for tracking. I’ve said that we’re only going to spend X dollars a day etc. It seems there was always some special 1 time event or purchase that ended up on the card.

The problem is that the mental accounting the family had to do to stay on track just wasn’t working. Instead we switched to a complete cash based system. Each family member was given an envelope with a certain amount of cash for everything. If my wife finds bargains at the grocery store she can have a little extra the next time she goes to the beauty salon. If she decides she has to have that certain something at the grocery store and doesn’t have enough money for the salon then she will just have to live with a few of the grey hairs a little longer before her next color treatment.

After using the system for a month it has worked well for us and allowed us to stay on budget.

What if You Can’t Pay Taxes Owed?

It is close to the due date
for taxes and you just prepared your return and realize that you owe
more money than you can pay. This year, more than ever, taxpayers
are coming up short on the taxes they owe. Since this is such a common
problem, you can be assured there are many options available for you.

The first thing you need to
do, even if you know you can’t
pay your taxes owed, is to send in your completed tax return. The penalty for not filing
is more than the penalty for not paying. Once you have your taxes
filed then you can figure out what you are going to do about payment.
Below are some of the most common solutions for paying for taxes when
you cannot afford to pay. The right option for each person varies
depending upon their unique financial situation.

Find the Money Elsewhere

Many times you could easily
get together enough money to pay off taxes by thinking outside of the
box a little. Some options to pay in full when you don’t have
the money are the following:

  • Credit Cards
  • Home equity loan
  • Friends and Family
  • Pay advance from
    employer
  • Sell old items on
    E-bay

Some of these options should
be used wisely. Even if you can borrow money, sometimes there could
be a better option. Consider some of the below options before borrowing
money.

IRS Installment Agreement

This is a very common mechanism
to pay back IRS taxes owed. The IRS will allow individuals to pay taxes
off in monthly increments (including interest) if they can pay off the
tax amount owed in 3 years or less. To apply for an installment
agreement you will need to fill out IRS form 9465 with the IRS. This
agreement will allow you to have money taken right out of your bank
account that will go towards the taxes you owe. This is a better
method to use than using a credit card because the interest rates are
typically lower.

Financial Hardship/Uncollectible
Status

If you cannot qualify for an
installment agreement, you may be able to get determined uncollectible
by the IRS. This will temporarily put you back on good terms with
the IRS and prevent the IRS from taking any actions against you.
They will check back every so often to see if your financial situation
has improved enough for you to pay back the taxes you owe.

Offer in Compromise

This is typically a last resort
option. The IRS will only consider this option if they think it
is very unlikely they will ever collect the taxes you owe. Under
this method you will pay a lump sum offer to the IRS for taxes owed.
The amount paid is typically much lower than the actual amount owed.
To apply for this you will be required to fill out a personal financial
statement and submit IRS form 656 to the IRS to be considered.
Very few of these filings are actually accepted and it is highly recommended
to consult a tax professional before attempting to make this type of
filing.

Picking the right method to pay back taxes is important. If the problem goes ignored, penalties and interest on unpaid amounts will add up very quickly. If you need help with taxes and help with picking the best resolution method, you should consult with
a tax resolution firm.