NEED EXPERT HELP? If you’re in
serious debt, a credit counselor affiliated with the National Foundation for
Credit Counseling ( nfcc.org) may be
able to negotiate debt-repayment
plans with lenders.
; Do the math. Debt calculators at
Dinkytown.net can help you determine
how long it will take to pay off debt.
; Check your credit. After you pay
off a loan or credit card, make sure
your credit reports correctly reflect
that. Get free credit report copies at
Resources and tips
One financial goal is to maximize your tax refund
Costco features several versions
of Turbo Tax software to meet
your tax needs, including Deluxe
(with and without state forms),
Premier, Home & Business and
Business options. Turbo Tax has
announced that these forms,
among others, are once again
included this year in all versions: Schedule C for business,
Schedule D for capital gains and
losses, Schedule E for rental
property, Schedule F for farms
and 1040 long form.
Drive less—much less
It’s easy to underestimate
the cost of driving because gas
is so cheap compared with
the hidden costs of car ownership. So try this: “Pretend
that gas is $17.50 per gallon
and a full tank costs $262.
This is the actual cost of driving,” says Mustache. Next:
“Live close to work, own an
older, reliable car and don’t
fire up that money shredder unless absolutely
necessary.” The money you save by driving less
can help you drive down debt.
Retirement comes first
Even if you’re gung-ho about debt payoff,
“retirement should always be your top pay-
ment priority,” says Weston. “Work your way
downward from there as to what you can
afford to pay toward debt.” Aim to put 10 to
15 percent of your gross pay into retirement
Teri Cettina is a freelance writer based in
In our digital editions
Click here to see a clip from
The Dave Ramsey Show.
(See page 14 for details.)
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a variety of financial services
for both personal and business needs. To
see the entire list, go to Costco.com and
AN IMPORTANT PART of any financial plan for
business owners and homeowners alike is getting a
handle on taxes. Although tax returns aren’t due
until April, January is a great time to start preparing
them as you close the books for the previous year.
Here are three tax law changes that can increase
your refund, courtesy of Turbo Tax, the tax preparation experts.
The American Opportunity Tax Credit. If you
pay college-related costs for yourself, a spouse or a
child, or another dependent, you can receive a credit
for up to $2,500 in tuition and related expenses,
such as course materials, depending on your income
and filing status. You get a credit for 100 percent of
the first $2,000 you spend on postsecondary education, and you can claim a credit of 25 percent of the
Alternative minimum tax (AMT) changes.
These relate to changes that Congress made in 2013
to prevent millions of taxpayers from having to pay
AMT in 2013 and beyond. The exemptions for
; $53,600 for single and head of household filers.
; $83,400 for married couples filing jointly and
; $41,700 for married people filing separately.
Energy-efficiency credits. If you installed alter-
native-energy equipment—including hot water
heaters, solar electric equipment and wind tur-
bines—in your home, you may be able to claim a
credit worth 30 percent of the expense.