Tax tips before you file

From Kristin C. Harad

A few natural times exist in the year when you can easily give yourself a new financial start and tax time is one of them. It never fails; this is the time when we're racing around trying to get everything to the accountant or finding time to sit down and type everything into Turbo Tax ourselves.

Here are a few things to keep top-of-mind during this final stretch toward April 15 that can help you get on top of things - if not for this year, then for next:

  • WHAT TO DO WITH A REFUND? Getting a refund? Decide in advance what the refund is for. Perhaps 80% can go to important financial goals (including debt) and 20% to immediate fun. Break it down so you get yourself ahead in some way.

  • OWE MONEY? Ideally, you've had a plan of attack in place for this possibility, but, if not, you still have the opportunity (until April 15) to make a tax deductible contribution to an IRA to help your tax liability (and build up your savings). Set up a plan for next year, including identifying a charity for a tax-deductable donation. The idea is to pay yourself or others in need instead of owing!

  • START FRESH NOW! While everything is fresh in your mind and organized on your desk, decide what you will do differently NOW to keep or get your financial house in order for the coming year. Start now!
Some examples include:
  • EXPENSE TRACKING: Do you have a good expense tracking system that works for you?

  • CASH MANAGEMENT: update your withholding accordingly if you received too much money back (why lend the government money?) or if you owed too much, aim for zero next year.

  • CLEAN UP FILES: Know what to keep and what you can safely shred! Filing your 2009 tax return means that 2001 (and all accompanying records) can go in the shredder.

  • PUT A SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR IDENTITY THEFT: In the instance that your personal information is jeopardized, have an action plan in place to save time and headaches later!

  • SPRING FINANCIAL CLEANING: Refresh finances with a thorough cleaning (review investment accounts, change allocations), simplify accounts (i.e. make sure you are earning interest where you can, and close old accounts that have no purpose), set up your Intentional Spending accounts.
About Certified Financial Planner® Kristin C. Harad:

Kristin started VitaVie Financial Planning in 2006 to service the needs of expectant parents and families with young children. By coupling personal financial planning with coaching, Kristin eliminates her clients' anxiety around money and proactively addresses the issues that arise with the increased financial responsibility that accompanies parenthood.

Kristin has dedicated her career to working in the personal financial services arena. With nearly fifteen years of client management experience, Kristin has worked for major financial players including Charles Schwab, Visa, and Chase Bank (JP Morgan Chase).

As such, she has extensive knowledge in retirement planning, credit cards (leveraging what is helpful and getting rid of what is not!), home equity products, and utilizing brokerage services in additional to more general financial planning.

Most of all, Kristin enjoys working with people to help them achieve their goals. To complement her financial knowledge, Kristin is also a trained life coach. She not only completed training through The Coaches Training Institute, but also spent time working at the school to better understand the coaching industry and how it can help in the area of financial planning.

Kristin is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ professional. She complete her Personal Financial Planning coursework at UC Berkeley and earned her Bachelors of Science in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Kristin has been a San Francisco resident since 1997. Kristin, her husband, and her two children currently live in the Marina District.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIALPLANNER™ and in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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