To everything, there is a season; unfortunately, W2′s in workplaces everywhere are heralding the return of tax season. Oh, joy. As if some of us aren’t still recovering from the holidays! If you owe the IRS money or are looking at a skinnier tax refund than you expected, take the opportunity to learn more money saving and frugal-savvy tips. First, let’s roll up our sleeves and examine your possible tax write-offs, and then move into everyday saving ideas.
Receipt Round-up Time!
Do you store your pharmacy receipts in a shoebox under your bed, or perhaps stashed in an overflowing home office drawer (like me)? Now is the time to purge those puppies and make a little room for next year’s write-offs. Some things you don’t want to forget:
Goodwill donations, priced at FMV (Fair Market Value) not original cost
prescriptions (you can no longer deduct OTC as of 2011)
Don’t Go Bulk Crazy
Couponers tend to be more reasonable than the Plum Crazy for Bulk bandwagon. If you can’t physically go through more than 50 boxes of tissues a year, no matter how cheap it is, it’s irresponsible spending to purchase that many at a time, even in the spirit of being frugal. If you have to make a trip up to the attic to dust off a new box of tissues or a cleaning product, you’ve gone a bit too plum crazy. Maybe someone can mention a 12 step program in the comments.
Find More Freebies, Especially Software
Apps and computer software can really add up, whether they’re large but seemingly crucial expenses or 99 cent programs here and there. Nope and nope: there are simply too many programs available at no cost with the same basic function and output as their costly counterparts. From free tax prep to project management, the only thing standing in anyone’s way of saving money is stubbornness in preference.
Ask Your Kids for Input
Believe it or not, a lot of children can handle hearing that Mom & Dad need to cut corners to keep dinner on the table. It can be a hard conversation to have, but it can save a lot of money to swallow your pride and get real with your children. You might be surprised how eager they will be to help, and how many things they might be willing to cut out from your budget, such as name-brand cereals or designer clothes. They will probably respect you for asking them in the first place; you never know – it might just bring you and your adolescent closer together.
Bonus: Eliminate Trivial & Impulse Purchases
If you forgot to put your daughter’s vitamins on your Target shopping list, of course you shouldn’t feel guilty about not sticking to your shopping list. The important thing isn’t necessarily the purchase itself, but the self-control and financial discipline that comes with denying that pack of gum at the check-out counter or that sweet little post-holiday discounted decoration. No, you do not need a ghost wall cling for next year, and if you need gum, put it on your list of items to find deals for. Later.
Malia Anderson is a Southern writer and single mom living in Greensboro, NC. When she’s not writing financial advice and clipping coupons, she enjoys playing the ukelele and creating pottery.
Photo credit: 12 Stories