Open those envelopes

It’s that time again. When important envelopes come flying into your mailbox. These envelopes usually have BOLD text on the front that say something like

 IMPORTANT TAX DOCUMENT ENCLOSED.

What do you usually do with those envelopes? Just pile them up?

Aren’t you just the least bit curious about that important  information?

Why not do something different this year?  After all, you are older and wiser now.

Sooooooo

OPEN THE ENVELOPES!

READ THE FORMS!

Then file them in a  careful TAX file, so you can start getting more organized about your money.

In addition, your clever organization will help you get ready for taxes, early. And maybe file early so you get your refund early!


Those are some good reasons to open them and read them. So let’s tell you what to expect and why you should read them.

In January, here are 2 kinds of documents that come in the mail. The first set of envelopes hold statements that tell you how much money you (and/or your partner) made last year. The second set, usually 1099 forms, tell you how much you earned in dividends or interest, and provide other information.

Focus on the first set of envelopes. There are thick ones, and very thin ones.

  • The thick envelopes tell you how much money you hold in your retirement accounts, and other accounts at banks and investment houses. These are year-end statements. So grab them, and read them so you know how much money you held in each account on December 31 of last year. Then go one better. Add this information to a list, your List of Assets. (See the Tools menu for the template you can use.) Make this a New Year’s Ritual. Every year, write down how much money you hold in each and every account. Then add up the total. This total  is another important number to know.

Now let’s look at the second set of envelopes. They generally come from Banks or other financial institutions . They tend to hold forms called 1099s.

  • 1099 form tells you how much interest (1099-INT) or dividends (1099-DIV) you earned in each and every account that you hold. There are also 1099-R forms and 5498 forms that list IRA accounts, and contributions made to retirement accounts.

While these forms may seem boring, they actually can help you understand a lot about your money. Let’s say you don’t remember how many accounts you or your partner holds. Well, these forms remind you. Each one lists the name of a bank or financial institution that holds your account your partner’s. And it tells you

    •  the type of account (like savings, or investment or retirement)  held at that Bank
    • the account number
    • and the name of the person, or persons who own the account and control the money in it.

So if you forgot to include 1 or 2 accounts in your List of Assets, these 1099 forms can remind you of their existence. After all, Hot Flash Financial wants you to keep track of every account that holds your hard earned money. So pile all of these 1099 forms into your Tax file, and use these forms to cross-check your holdings.

If you find more accounts, add them to your List of Assets. Then track down the total dollar amounts held in each and write it on your List of Assets.  When you add up your total balance, you will really be happy to see value of your assets grow!

So watch for these envelopes. Open them up and read them. Use them to update your List of Assets.That way you will  know how much money you have. And, you can get organized for tax time.

You will be glad you did.

———————–

If you get all your tax documents organized you can file your income taxes early. THAT MEANS YOU CAN GET YOUR REFUND EARLY!!!!

Has someone stolen your identity?

If someone steals your identity, he can get your tax refund and have it mailed to his house. Really. He can get into your bank accounts and siphon out money. He can use your credit card account numbers and run up a big bill. He can mess with your credit score. And his  stealing, putting your name on bill and then a collection agency’s call list, can keep you from getting more credit or even a job.

(Now for the giggle part of the Hot Financial take on this issue.

No, identity thieves never steal your wrinkles, gray hair, love handles, nor muffin tops. Nope. They want your money. And if they masquerade as you, using your account numbers, they can get some moolah. Why mug you in a dark alley? It is so much less fuss and bother for an identity thief to just input your information into a computer, pretend he is you, and take money out of your accounts.

These identity theft efforts are even harder to catch than those old emails from   so-called “Nigerian princes.”)

Note to readers: this indented section  is designed to encourage you to LOL. So note the little smiley face here   🙂

Identity theft is serious. It could really put a crimp in your financial security and your future. So click on this government site  FTC Identity Theft  (you can trust it) to get some important and free copies.

There are 3 brochures on the basics :

  1. One on the basics called “What to do know and what to do.”
  2. One to help you protect your children.
  3. And the last one is for you, if you suspect their is a problem or you are “in crisis” it is called “What to do if your identity is, in fact, stolen.”

 

Take action. This is important. Hot Flash Financial Important!!

 

OH AND COMMENT BELOW.

DID YOU WRESTLE WITH AN IDENTITY THIEF? WHAT HAPPENED?

DO  YOU SUSPECT YOU MAY BE VULNERABLE TO IDENTITY THEFT? TAKE ACTION.

 

(TO PROTECT YOURSELF–DO NOT TELL US YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, OR ANY ACCOUNT NUMBERS WHEN YOU RESPOND.)

So,…………why not consider saving more money?

How can you do this?  

HERE ARE SOME EASY STEPS TO FOLLOW:

1. SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF.  It can include adding to a savings account, or reducing your over all debt. Did you know that –in the past year, 1 in 6 American Savers selected paying off consumer debts as their goal?  

2. MAKE A PLAN that you can FOLLOW.  If you want an easy one, that does not take much of your time— increase your contributions to your retirement account. Go On-Line and change your contribution level, by a certain amount of dollars or a percentage (like 1%).  You will be in very good company if you increase your retirement savings:  44% of those who reported having a retirement savings goal made a change to their retirement plans.

If you feel you can do more than one thing, and want some guidance,  click on our site.

  • Select the ASK & ANSWER button and look at the drop down menu. Select Extra money? Is she kidding? and also read about Trade Offs.
  • There is more for you, if you would like.  Select the  ACT button and look at the drop down menu and select Build you Stash.

3.  LEARN A FEW GOOD SAVINGS TRICKS.

  • Think carefully about what  you will do with your tax refund.  Did you know you can use your #tax refund to buy US Savings Bonds? It’s an easy, safe way to diversify your savings.    Check out the Tweets at   #ASW2012           http://ow.ly/8IUNX
  • Join @AmericaSaves for tips, news, and advice to help you save. Reach your savings goals.  Follow #ASW2012  on Twitter, or go to http://ow.ly/8dnzz