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Valentines Day Proves That Money Can Buy Love + 4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Taxes

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There has always been the long-standing argument that money cannot buy love! And many preach this like gospel so vehemently you would think this is an undeniable fact. But if you let the numbers tell it Valentine’s Day may prove that money can buy love. That’s because Valentine’s Day is one of the priciest holidays in the U.S., with Americans spending on average $267 to mark the occasion, according to Bankrate’s 2019 Valentine’s Day survey. Consumers are set to spend $20.7 billion this year for Valentine’s Day, says the National Retail Federation, beating the 2016 record of $19.7 billion. And although men spend significantly more for the day ($339, versus women who spend on average $64) men also expect their partners to spend more on them — at least $211 to be exact, while women expect their partners to spend around $154.

So now that we have settled that, the next big love of our life that is on everyone’s mind is… those dreaded taxes that we have to file every year. For some reason, taxes have gotten a bad rap, but truth be told if you knew the secrets, you would fall in love with doing your taxes more than Kanye loves Kanye (they’re not really secrets, but it sounded cool to say). Face it, you work hard and meet your obligations all year round, so why shouldn’t you be rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to?

You absolutely should be rewarded! And to help you reap those rewards, check out the following five tips for filing taxes that will help you start to fall in love with the process.

Lovely Tips for Filing Taxes

1) You can possibly get tax credits and deductions for higher education.

For many Americans, especially millennials, student loans are one of the most concerning things keeping them up late at night. But, most don’t realize that they may be eligible for many deductions that will give them a bigger return come income tax time.

For example, the student loan interest deduction allows you to deduct the amount you paid in student loan interest, up to $2,500 per year. Some other deductions include: the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. Visit IRS.gov for a complete list of deductions.

2) Staying healthy can come with financial kickbacks.

With the rising cost of health insurance these days, it may be tempting to forgo health insurance and take your chances, however, not only would that be a big health mistake, but it would also be a big financial mistake due to the penalty charged to those who are uninsured.

One thing that may make you fall in love with taxes is the fact that you can contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). In order to pay for those high deductible health insurance plans pre-tax, contributing to an HSA can save you thousands of dollars when you file your taxes. For the 2015 tax filing year, the minimum annual deductible is $1,300 for individual coverage and $2,600 for families and the maximum annual deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses is $6,550 and $13,100 for families.

3) Doing good can be financially rewarding.

There are two universal laws that I live by: 1. “the more you give the more you get” and 2. “to whom much is given, much is required.”

Not only is giving back a noble thing, but it can also help give you substantial tax savings. If you made donations to a charity, you might be able to use them as deductions on your taxes. To qualify, your donations have to be made to a nonprofit organization that can prove they have 501(c)(3) tax status. Legitimate charities usually have their status clearly stated on their websites, or you can verify it directly from the IRS by visiting http://www.IRS.gov/charities, then click on the tab that says, Contributors.

The second criterion is that you must have a receipt from your donations. Not all of your donations count, and there are limits on what can be deducted, so make sure you check with a tax accountant to verify your eligibility. Some common deductions include real estate, furniture, clothing, cars, electronic equipment, office supplies, mileage, cash donations, and tithes paid.

4) Your side hustle can pay your dividends.

We now live in a time where starting a business is not only easier than ever, but it can be done with low overhead, which results in showing a profit earlier on. With many people now leaping faith to become their own bosses, it would behoove you to take advantage of the many associated benefits.

Starting a home-based business can cause two things related to your taxes to happen. First, with your initial investment into the business, it can increase your tax refund. And secondly, you can deduct things like your home office, telephone, Internet service, and office supplies. The deductions aren’t anything to sneeze at either. On average, a home-business can bring in around $3,000 to $9,000 in tax savings. The great thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you run your business full-time or part-time—you can still benefit from running a home business.

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Starting to fall in love with the idea of filing your taxes as much as you already love mobile banking? Just remember that in all things, love is a process!

Disclaimer: All material is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide tax, legal or financial advice.  Paradigm Money does not provide tax, legal or financial advice, so you should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors before making a decision or taking any action.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

T-Mobile’s Dream of Telecommunications Domination Is Almost Complete + How to Create Mental Toughness While Pursuing Your Dreams

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T-Mobile received verbal approval from the Federal Communications Commission for its $26 billion deal to buy Sprint but still awaits the blessing of the Justice Department. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said he’ll back the merger based on concessions by the third- and fourth-largest U.S. telecommunications companies, which include pledges to invest in new wireless broadband service in rural areas and to sell Sprint’s prepaid cellphone brand. While the FCC is expected to make a formal announcement within weeks, the Justice Dept. has yet to weigh out antitrust concerns.

Dream chasing isn’t for the faint at heart. It can take years before one sees the financial payoff of what was once an idea. T-Mobile is probably patient on the outside, but internal it is jumping for joy. It took them a few years to get to this point, but I’m sure they will be relieved at the fruits of their patients.

When building a business, your goal has to be more than money, or you will ultimately fail. Your drive has to be based on principle, change, and something greater than yourself. Here is how to stay mentally tough while pursuing your dreams.

Personal Development. The road to success is paved with character and growth. Personal development is one of the key drivers that sustain you on the path of your dreams. Trustworthiness, keeping your word, and dependability are imperative to any industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician or painter, lawyer or doctor, these traits and non-negotiable and forever transferable to success.

Take Breaks. To get there, you must rest one mile at a time. The grind is overrated. Reflecting on how far you’ve come energizes you for the road ahead. Burnout is a danger to your accomplishments and leads to a failure by default.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Steve Jobs popularized this quote from an ad in The Whole Earth Catalog. It read Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. We come to a point when we are happy with a level of progress and think we’ve learned everything. Accepting the truth that we never stop growing, and there is no limit to our success gives us the ability to keep going. To continue, you must never settle. You must always seek new ways of fixing things and solving problems. Discover new opportunities and be open to learning more.

Faith. Steve Jobs also mentioned faith throughout his journey. Believing so deeply in an idea that you make it come to life. Belief takes ideas and materializes them; and when you realize you can actually make something come to life, the sky becomes your launching pad, not the limit.

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The Daily Digm (News)

Retail Wars Are Getting Real Competitive + How to Stay Competitive in the Marketplace

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Walmart has announced plans to offer next-day delivery on about 220,000 of its “most frequently purchased” online items, after rival Amazon promised free one-day delivery for Prime members. The retail giant says the offering, which applies to orders over $35, will reach about 75% of the U.S. by the end of the year. The more limited inventory makes Walmart’s offer more of a competitor to Target’s Restock than Amazon, says TechCrunch. But retailers need to get a better handle on their inventory and demand for fast delivery before making such moves, execs and analysts told The Wall Street Journal.

Competition is fierce no matter what the genre is and as it relates to these entrepreneurial streets, you have to make sure that you are staying ahead of the competition so you won’t get Walmart’d by your Amazon… So what can you do? Luckily, Marketing Donut has come up with Ten ways to keep ahead of the competition:

  1. Know the competition. Find out who your competitors are, what they are offering, and what their unique selling point (USP) is. This will identify the areas you need to compete in, as well as giving you a platform for differentiating yourself.
  2. Know your customers. Customer expectations can change dramatically when economic conditions are unstable. Find out what matters to your customers now – is it lower prices, more flexible or premium service, the latest products? Revise your sales and marketing strategy accordingly.
  3. Differentiate. It’s essential to give your customers good reasons to come to you rather than a rival. Your USP should tap into what customers want, and it should be clear and obvious – no-one should have to ask what makes you different.
  4. Step up your marketing. Improve your market positioning statement. Make more effort to tell people who you are, what you sell, and why they should buy from you. It doesn’t have to be expensive; marketing can range from posters in your window and leaflet drops through to viral campaigns on social media.
  5. Update your image. Simple steps such as painting the front of your premises can make your business look more modern and inviting. But also look at business cards, social media presences, your website, branded packaging, clothing and so on. Does your image reflect your USP?
  6. Look after your existing customers. They will be your competitors’ target market. Provide better customer service by being more responsive to their needs and expectations. If feasible, consider offering low-cost extras such as improved credit terms, discounts or loyalty schemes – remember, it’s cheaper and easier to keep customers than to find new ones.
  7. Target new markets. Selling into a greater number of markets can increase your customer base and spread your risk. Consider whether you can sell online or overseas, for example. Are there groups you’ve never targeted before who might be interested in your offer? Remember the benefits of market segmentation and don’t waste time marketing to people who won’t be interested.
  8. Expand your offer. What related products or services might your customers be interested in? You might even consider diversifying into another area – many bars and restaurants have successfully offered business networking events, for example.
  9. Be the best employer. Skilled, motivated staff underpin vibrant, growing businesses. But attracting them means more than paying a competitive wage – people are often more impressed by a good working atmosphere and benefits such as flexible working and structured career development.
  10. Look to the future. Businesses that plan for growth are more successful than those that are happy to stay still. Keep up with developments in your sector, follow consumer trends, invest in new technology and – crucially – have a clear idea of where you want to be in one, three and five years’ time.
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The Daily Digm (News)

Negotiating Better Pay May Be Getting Easier + How to Easily Stay Ahead of the Game

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Salaries were once a taboo thing to discuss. Yet, with unemployment at a five-decade low and the gig economy requiring people to compare salaries, attitudes are shifting in the conversation, according to The New York Times. Keeping salary information secret favors managers who want to pay people less, say experts. More information about salaries may benefit workers, giving them wider room to negotiate better pay.

This is great news for those who in the past have been cheated out of a fair wage because they didn’t understand how to play the negotiation game. But it doesn’t only take negotiation to get top dollar; there are other tricks to the trade. Here are four ways anyone could use to get ahead of the career game:

  1. Know Your Strengths and Capitalize off of Them. Don’t try to be something you’re not or learn new tricks overnight. Stay in your lane and become stronger. The stronger you become, the more value you will have in the workforce.
  2. It’s Never Too Late to Intern or Volunteer. As adults, these can be such humbling terms, but it can still get your foot in the door. Just look at Chris Gardner. Not only did he become wealthy, but his rise to riches also led to a movie based starring Will Smith & Jayden Smith
  3. Building Your Connections. Who you know is just as if not more important than what you learn. Being authentically connected to others in your field of interest can open up a world of opportunities. One rule of thumb is never settled or compromise for relationships but do, however, seek to build solid ones.
  4. Create Your Own Platform. Don’t underestimate your ability to build an empire. Many successful entrepreneurs and professionals created their own jobs. Combine all of the above and consider investing them in your own enterprise.
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