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How To Maximize Your Tax Refund

It was a couple of years ago that I wrote THIS SERIES about maximizing your tax refund.

I even agree with what I wrote two years ago.   It is a good sign when you still agree with your own self!

Here is the summary (and the entire series is HERE):

  1. Before You Spend It, Plan It
  2. Purchase Financial Freedom
  3. Fulfill Some Of Your Dreams!
  4. Should You Even Receive A Refund?

If you are receiving a tax refund, it is worth the 15 minutes to read this four part series!

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Best Utilize Your Tax Refund – Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 – the final installment of the latest series on www.JosephSangl.com – "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund"

Here is a review of the previous steps.

Step 1  Before You Spend It, Plan It

If you receive your tax refund money and you do not have a written game plan, there is a high probability that your refund will disappear!  You KNOW that is the truth!

Step 2  Purchase Financial Freedom

Your options include Giving, Saving, and Spending.   First, one needs an Emergency Buffer Fund.  Second, save for Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses.  Third, eliminate debt!

Step 3  Fulfill Some Of Your Dreams!

When you have steps 1 and 2 taken care of, it is time to accomplish some of your dreams!  This is the FUN part!

Step 4  Should You Even Receive A Refund?

This one will be argued until the sun fizzles out, but here are my thoughts.

If you have proven to yourself that you can abide by your written budget every single month for several months, then you could consider increasing your W-4 exemptions so that you come close to breaking even at tax time.  Because you have demonstrated the ability to stick to your written plan, you will be able to take full advantage of your money instead of giving the government an interest-free loan all year long.

BUT, if you have NOT proven to yourself that you can follow a written budget, I would highly consider leaving your exemptions as is.  Focus on getting your money management under control by planning your spending using a BUDGET FORM from the "TOOLS" page.

You should keep it the way it is until you have sufficiently proven to yourself that you are a good manager of money.  Think about how horrible it would be to blow all of that extra money in each paycheck and then not even receive a tax refund check!  Awful!

I used to spend my tax refund seventeen different ways BEFORE I ever received it!  What a miserable feeling it is to receive that great tax refund check and turn around and mail it out to creditors.  Anyone identify with that feeling?!

I also know what it is like to receive a great tax refund check and be able to KEEP IT ALL!  In fact, that is how it has been the last four years.  What a great feeling!  It is a reward for sound money management. 

Why not make this year be THE YEAR that you take control of your finances?

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Best Utilize Your Tax Refund – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the latest series on www.JosephSangl.com – "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund"

Step 1  Before You Spend It, Plan It

It is exceedingly important to have a plan for the refund money BEFORE you ever receive the money!

Step 2  Purchase Financial Freedom

Your options include Giving, Saving, and Spending.   First, one needs an Emergency Buffer Fund.  Second, save for Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses.  Third, eliminate debt!

Step 3  Fulfill Some Of Your Dreams!

If you already have an Emergency Buffer Fund, have saved for all of your Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses, AND your are debt-free it is time to use your tax refund to fulfill your dreams!

It is now time to GIVE, INVEST, and SPEND!!!

I LOVE giving.  There is nothing more satisfying than giving to a worthy person or cause. 

Consider investing some of your refund.  Assuming you meet income guidelines, you can invest in a 2007 IRA until April 15, 2008 AND deduct it from your taxes!  That is a great deal!

And, of course, another option is to spend some of it on a really nice purchase!  It's OK!  Just make sure you negotiate a really great deal!

The series ends next time with a discussion of whether or not one should be giving the government a really big no-interest loan all year long!

Read the rest of the "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund" series 

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Best Utilize Your Tax Refund – Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd part of the latest series on www.JosephSangl.com – "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund"

Step 1  Before You Spend It, Plan It

It is exceedingly important to have a plan for the refund money BEFORE you ever receive the money!

Step 2  Purchase Financial Freedom 

There are really three broad categories of things you can do with your tax refund money.

(1) Give It Away, (2) Save It, (3) Spend It

FIRSTFill your Emergency Buffer Fund

Do you have money saved for emergencies?  You need at least $1,000 for your Emergency Buffer Fund!  If you own a house or have children, you need at least $2,500!

How would it feel to have at least $1,000 JUST SITTING THERE in your bank account?  I remember the day that we had $1,000 in the bank – and I did not have to mail it out to a creditor!!!

If you do not have an Emergency Buffer Fund, use your tax refund to fill it up!

SECONDFund your KNOWN, UPCOMING Non-Monthly Expenses for the year!

One of the biggest reasons people fall off of the "I'm Going To Achieve Debt-Freedom" wagon is because of Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses!  These are expenses that we KNOW are going to happen.  Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses like Christmas, vacations, property taxes, building fund pledges, quarterly insurance premiums, annual health club membership fees, annual golf club dues, and homeowner's association fees.  If you have not saved for these expenses, they will completely derail your financial plan!

It is AWESOME to have money saved up in advance for vacation and Christmas!

THIRDEliminate Debt!

DON'T skip ahead to this step!  Make sure that you have the previous two items in place first!  Too many people race past the previous two options and use their $3,000 tax refund to pay off $3,000 of a $5,000 credit card.  They have no Emergency Buffer Fund, they haven't saved for Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses, and now they have just spent all of that money on a credit card.

Even if the $3,000 paid off the credit card, it is still not worth it if one does not have the first and second items in place!  Think about it this way.  If the $3,000 credit card had a monthly payment of $100, how long will it take to get that $3,000 back into the bank?  THIRTY MONTHS!  Not worth it.

BUT, if you have taken care of the Emergency Buffer Fund and have saved for your Known, Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses, it is time to attack the debt!  Pull up the Debt Freedom Date Calculator (Excel) and calculate your own Debt Freedom Date!  Make some debts leave your life!!!

In the next installment of this series, we will review the FUN options that one has when they have already completed the FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD items!

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Best Utilize Your Tax Refund – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series on www.JoeSangl.com – "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund"!

About 70% of Americans expect to receive a refund this year.  Are you one of them?  If so, it can be a tremendous tool to start your journey toward Debt Freedom and Financial Freedom!

Step 1  Before You Spend It, Plan It

I used to have my tax refund spent sixteen different ways by the time it actually arrived.  It was assigned to pay for Christmas, summer vacation, clothes, credit card bills, student loan payments, car payments, a new appliance, a new electronic device, etc. 

In addition to having spent the refund sixteen different ways, I had went ahead and made all of the purchases via credit card or other form of loan.

When the refund actually arrived, it was woefully inadequate to cover my crazy spending.

Talk about feeling miserable!!!  Is anyone reading this and feeling my pain, or am I the only one who has done this?

When I decided once and for all to take control of my finances, I realized the root cause of my problem.

The root cause?  The reason for my crazy spending?

I did not have a plan!

Before you spend your tax refund, plan out the spending first!  I highly recommend that you use the Mini-Budget Form (Excel) to plan your spending.  Enter the amount of the tax refund at the top, and spend it to exactly zero (Remember:  INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO.

Start planning now – BUT don't start spending just yet.  We are in the PLANNING stages.

Where should the money go?  Well, that will be covered NEXT in the series!

Take control of your finances at the Financial Freedom Experience – Weekend Edition on January 25th & 26th, 2008!  You can sign up HERE!

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