Every year, nearly 150 million households file their federal tax returns. For many, the process involves digging through shoe boxes or manila folders full of receipts; gathering mortgage, retirement, and investment account statements; and relying on computer software to take advantage of every tax break the code permits.
It seems a shame not to make the most of all that effort.
Tax preparation may be the only time of year many households gather all their financial information in one place. That makes it a perfect time to take a critical look at how much money is coming in and where it’s all going. In other words, give the household budget a check-up.
One method for doing a thorough budget check-up involves six steps.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”¹ The modern upgrade to that observation might be that $100 not spent is more like $143.²
One way to find the money to meet your spending or saving needs is to examine your current spending habits and consider eliminating money wasters.
College marks a great milestone in a child’s life. It may be the first time he or she will live away from home. Dropping off your child at college may be an experience loaded with emotions, so here are a few tips for a smoother transition.
Your child is always your child, and will need you as much as ever. However, parents need to understand that their role has transitioned from “supervisor” to “mentor.”
Do not bring the moving van. Not only will it embarrass your child, but dorm rooms just aren’t that large. Bring only what’s appropriate.
Consider pre-ordering essentials (soap, bedding, shower caddy, etc.) for pick-up at a location by the school. This will save space whether your trip is by car or plane.
While college represents a gateway to many wonderful experiences, parents will want to have a serious conversation about safety, responsible behavior, finances, and expectations about staying in touch.
Do not leave it for the drop-off. It is sure to sour the moment and may rush a conversation that deserves more time and mutual dialogue.
Your child will need spending money. You may want to provide a debit card attached to an account that has a set sum for the full semester, or one that’s refreshed with monthly deposits. College is a perfect time to learn budgeting.
Let your child have the discretion to make decisions about what to bring. However important you think a dust skirt for the bed is, try to avoid fights. Let your child make a mistake. It’s the best way to learn.
Your child will likely send signals when it’s time for you to go. Listen to them. It’s time for him or her to begin connecting with new roommates. Expect that final “good-bye dinner” to be canceled since your child may prefer an impromptu introductory dinner with the new roommate.
sign up to keep informed