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How to Make Sure Your Taxes Are Done Correctly

2015 January 30
by Aaron

Unfortunately, there is no way around doing your taxes. You either need to do ‘em yourself OR get someone knowledgeable enough about tax law to do them.

To top it off, you want to make sure they are done right.

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a study where they visited 19 different tax preparers. What they found was astonishing:

All 19 tax returns prepared were wrong to some degree and only two preparers correctly calculated the right refund amount.

So, how can you make sure you are getting your taxes done correctly?

Taxes can be complex

The New York Times did a story where they cited that the “typical” American family constituted a husband, wife and two kids living under the same roof.

But beyond that “average”, everyone’s situation is so unique. For example, here’s a look at our household and where we bring in money:

  • My wife
  • Step-son
  • Myself
  • Rabbit
  • Own a home and rent out another
  • I have a full-time job, while my wife works two part-time jobs
  • We also bring in extra money through various “side-gigs”

While our situation is a bit more complex, we aren’t running a corporation or doing any day-trading activity.

Tax law is always changing. Every year it seems there are new changes or tweaks to the tax code. I certainly can’t keep up with these (nor do I want to).

Two tax prep choices

For me, it boils down to two choices: going to a tax pro (which I’ve done in the past with varying success) OR filling out my taxes for free (or for a nominal fee) online using tax prep software.

The issue that I’ve run in with tax professionals is they are typically very busy during tax season. I like the tax pro that we’ve seen in the past – but I always got the sense that she was rushed for time and our situation didn’t get the appropriate attention it needed (plus, our taxes were “handed-off” to a junior person at the firm).

This is why I typically opt to do it myself using online tax prep software. The beauty of doing it oneself vs. going to a tax preparer is that you know your situation the best.

Programs like TaxACT make filing a breeze. They walk you through the whole tax prep process to make sure you don’t miss any deductions you may have otherwise qualified for. I think this is well worth the extra fees.

TaxACT walks you through the filing process

TaxACT walks you through the filing process

Online tax prep ease and facts

If you’ve never filed online through online tax software OR have misgivings about the process, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • The tax software walks you through the process step-by-step and gets to “know you” based on certain life events and situations that transpired during the previous year
  • TaxACT automatically saves where you left off (no need to save or back-up files)
  • It is safe and secure
  • If you need it, get help from TaxACT’s Answer Center
  • Filing can be done after the review with a click of the button
  • Saves all your returns from previous years

(TaxACT also has a helpful post that addresses some of the myths associated with DIY tax solutions)

No time like the present – grab those W2’s, 1099’s and get filing! As TaxACT likes to say, “you got this!”

Do you usually file your taxes online?

This article was brought to you by the fine folks at TaxACT. All opinions expressed are our own.

How to Link Your Ooma Phone to Your Nest

2015 January 28
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by Charlie

charlie_imageJust recently, Ooma announced that it had joined partners with Nest to connect your Ooma telephone service to your Nest devices. Now with your Nest, you can either utilize the “Follow Me” or “Check-in Monitoring” or “911 Alerting” service. However, in order to utilize your Ooma & Nest, here is what you need to get started.

Requirements

  1. Ooma Telephone Base Unit (currently $109.99 at Ooma.com)
  2. Nest Thermostat or Protect (CO2/Smoke Alarm) (ranges from $199.99 to $249.99)
  3. Ooma Premier Phone Service (about $10/month + $4 fees)

read more…

Where to Get Free Magazines, Online Courses and Letters from the President

2015 January 26
by Aaron

Everyone likes freebies. Here’s a few places around the web where you can get free things and keep a few more bucks in your pocket! We hope to continue this feature every month. Please let us know if you have found any other free stuff around the web or elsewhere.

Free magazines

I love flipping through different magazines. Being visually inclined and a golfer, I love looking at good design magazines and golf magazines. Here’s a cool website called Magastack that I just found out about that has a ton of well-known magazines online that you can peruse – for free.  read more…

How to Estimate Your 2014 Tax Return

2015 January 21
by Aaron

estimate taxes
When I was younger, I used to love doing my own taxes. My dad would pick-up a 1040EZ form from the library and help me get my W-2 together from my employer.

Things were easy then. And, I always got a refund.  read more…

9 Things to Purchase at Trader Joe’s Because They Are (Usually) Cheaper Than Anywhere Else

2015 January 19
by Aaron

My wife and I are fans of Trader Joe’s. If you’re fortunate enough to have a location in your area, there are some items you might want to purchase there instead of at your local grocer, warehouse store or your preferred shopping destination.

I’ve written before about how to save money at Trader Joe’s (TJs) (for Jean Chatzky’s website) since we frequent it several times a month. They claim to have the least expensive prices in town on a lot of goods and consider a “sale” to a be a four-letter word. From their website:  read more…

How I Pay $10 a Month for My Cell Phone

2015 January 14

As I’ve gotten older, it takes me longer to make changes that otherwise would be a “no-brainer”. And, this even goes for things that I know will save me money – like my cell phone bill.

But, after reading about Charlie’s experience earlier last year and doing a little research on my own, I decided to take the plunge and signed up for Republic Wireless last August.

I wanted to share about my (almost) 5 months of experience with their service and how it’s gone (the good and the bad). If you are looking for a technical review of Republic Wireless, this isn’t it.  read more…

What Things Are You Willing to Pay a Premium Price For? (Even Though You Can Get Them Cheaper)

2015 January 9

This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile: things that I’m willing to pay a premium price for, though I can find them cheaper elsewhere. For us thrifty types, this is sometimes a tough pill to swallow – but often makes sense.

I’ll often buy at a premium if the following are true:

  • The item is much better quality than its competitors – and will last longer
  • There is an unbeatable guarantee or warranty with the product/service
  • The customer service is exceptional
  • It’s one-of-a-kind
  • I want to splurge (rare) or buying a gift

read more…

How to Score Discounts With Customer Loyalty

2015 January 7

I’ve written before about using customer loyalty to your advantage. Often, we see “newbie” customers getting rewarded when they sign up for a service or purchase a product. This kinda irks me.

I realize that companies need to continually add new users/purchasers to their roster. It’s just part of the market economy and (if they are publicly traded), an important aspect to increasing “shareholder value”.

Sometimes in that pursuit to more and more profits, they forget about one of their biggest asset: the existing, loyal customerread more…

January 2015 – Charlie’s Gift Card Challenge

2015 January 5

charlie_image2014 is now in the rear view mirror, and 2015 is well on it’s way. With that said, Christmas just came and went like a thief in the night, and most peoples’ finances are reeling from the drain it had on their checking account. My family is no different.

This year we started our Christmas shopping in October, and our flexible spending checking account is down significantly. With that said, my wife and I sat down prior to the new year and realized we needed to make some changes (her idea)! Gotta love a woman who loves to talk about finances! So we sat down and realized that we had ton of gift cards, which might be able to help us to get back on financial track in 2015. After adding them all up and our gifted cash we realized we had $520 in Christmas gift cards. read more…

Our Most Read Articles from 2014

2014 December 31
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by Aaron

We’d like to take a moment to reflect on the year that has past and to express our gratitude for your time and attention. It means a lot to us that you stop by, comment and read our blog.

We hope that 2015 will be an even better year for TTG as we aim to provide you more relevant and useful content that will “help you keep a few more bucks in your pocket.” We’ll also be offering the ability to join our new membership program that (we trust) will save you even more money and help you to flourish in your personal finances.

As always, shoot us a note if you have a comment or suggestion. We love hearing from you. Have a happy new year! read more…