Money Savvy

Personal Finance: Get Ready For Tax Season


The Internal Revenue Service announced today it plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns for the 2012 tax year on Jan. 30.  The announcement means that the vast majority of tax filers, more than 120 million households, should be able to start filing tax returns starting then. The remaining households, those who file more complex tax returns, will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes:
  • people claiming residential energy credits
  • depreciation of property 
  • general business credits.
If you are thinking of filing a paper tax return before Jan 30...don't.  The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the Jan. 30 opening date.... there is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date.  And, the best option is to file electronically and receive your tax refunds with direct's much faster than snail mail.



Personal Finance: Your Budget Reflects Your Values

"Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are." – James W. Frick

Wow, a profound and thought provoking quote, which  should make anyone take another look at how and why they spend their money the way they do. However, gaining control of your financial life really does reflect how you actually live your life.  And having a family budget is a must, because it allows you to monitor your expenses and stay in control of your financial future.  But,  money mistakes are made, and when they are made, you could find yourself drowning in debt with all the other areas of your life falling, not far behind.   Why, for one, people, often times, don't become conscious of budgets until they face tough choices in life and two, there are no values in place before establishing a budget.   Setting up and adhering to a family budget is a must, especially doing these economic times, but if the budget isn't based on a firm foundation of Christian values, then it's as good as not having one at all.   Good news, it doesn't have to be that way.

Since Christian values are based on spiritual things and not material things, it gives you a positive stronghold to adhere to.  But, even though Christian values are spiritual in nature, the evidence of them come through your deeds and actions, the things you spend your money on.  That's why you need to establish a clear set of core principles or values before you create a budget.  As a matter of fact, all budgets should include those core principles, because they govern your financial decisions and ensure effective money management.  Here's the good news, before you establish your budget plan, consider these pre-budgeting objectives below:
  1. Commit to value God more than anything, anybody, or any idea: Christian values are based on spiritual things versus material things.  A core Christian value is having God first in your life.  He already knows what you need and will so dutifully provide.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33
  2. Write down your personal vision and values: Write down the things you value most in your financial and personal life; things such as your religious beliefs, your philosophy on money and your purpose for establishing a budgetAnd, if you're married, then include your spouse in this process.  And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Habakkuk 2:2-3
  3. Commit your whole budget to God: Not only does the first 10 percent belongs to God (a tithe), but in reality, He owns the other 90 percent as a faithful manager.  The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it -- the world and all its people. Psalms 24:1
  4. Commit to patience: Take your time when establishing your budget, hurrying a budget will only result in overlooked expenses and inaccurate estimates.  Create your budget over days, weeks or even months.....not hours.   But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
  5. Commit to teamwork: A budget will never succeed unless all interested parties take an active role in honoring the established values and rules. Include the entire family in on what the budget means and the roles they will play in helping to establish accountability and habit.   Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17
These five objectives will help establish your foundation for a sound budget plan. At the end of the day, budgeting becomes easier when you define your values and align your spending with those things that mean the most to you and your family. We have the freedom of choice to decide what is right and what is wrong, but if we value God we will look to Him for what is right and wrong. This means continuously seeking His righteousness and totally relying on Him....We value God when we acknowledge that He knows better than we do on what we need in our lives.  Now, go.... you're ready to establish your budget.  Feel free to use the financial educational resources to get you started:

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