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Tuition Plan (Second Post Today)

August 31st, 2015 at 06:02 am

I do often use this blog to remind myself what my plans are. It can be helpful to look back months later to see what I did as well. This post is about how I plan to handle the tuition bill due Sept 12.

The total bill is $7,198.55. The housing portion is $5,154.55. The tuition portion is $2,044.00. The housing portion will come from our daughter's Education Savings Account (ESA) which is currently invested in mutual fund. The remainder is coming from savings/current cash.

I could pay $20 a semester to divide this bill into three equal payments. But that's just more outflow that I don't think is necessary. Initially, I'm simply going to transfer the full payment from our savings. We have quite a bit of cash in our emergency fund and from the proceeds of two homes.

The goal is then to pay ourselves back before the end of the year. We are adjusting our withholding to 18 (yes, that is not a typo) to have no Federal withholding for the remainder of the year. This will increase my husband's paychecks by $259.36. There are 8 paychecks remaining for 2015. This will result in $2,074.88 back into our savings account. Notice that is just over the amount of fall tuition. Smile Because we are paying this tuition out of pocket we can claim it on our taxes with the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

The housing portion needs to come from our daughter's ESA account in order to pay ourselves back. Since the market is crazy, I'm not going to withdraw the full amount right now. Instead I'm going to withdraw in three equal portions of $1718. Currently I plan to wait to see if the market stabilizes a bit more later in September, but worse case wait until mid to late October to make the first withdrawal.

That's the plan. I think it is a pretty good one, too. No student loans, yet! Would you do anything different?

Withholding Calculations

August 28th, 2015 at 07:25 am

I now have more information about the costs of tuition this semester, what can be claimed for the American Opportunity tax credit and how it will impact our taxes owed. And the good news is we will owe less in taxes as a result!

The bad news(good news?) is we have already had too much tax withheld to cover our taxes. A whopping $1775. Yes, most people rejoice at such things praising the government for providing them a tax refund. Unfortunately, I blame myself. I actually increased our tax withholding to compensate for the fact that we would no longer be able to claim the child tax credit (of $1000) for our oldest daughter and my husbands increase in pay. I didn't take the time to figure out about the college credits available and how that would impact our taxes. Oops!

The good news is I have changed our withholding to 10 for the time being. In order to avoid any more withholding we need to claim 18! My husband will need to do this in person, as I can't change the amount higher than 10 online. Once it is changed to 18 his monthly paychecks will be $518 larger! Money that I plan to set aside for the tuition bill in February.

Of course, I will need to change the withholding in January to make sure we do have money withheld in 2016! I haven't figured the correct amount to withhold right now, but trust me I will do a better job this year in getting it right. I will have more clear information this time around. Smile

Do you know where you stand on your withholding and taxes owed for 2015? Is it possible you need to make changes due to a change in circumstances? Do you prefer a refund or just to owe a little on your tax return?

College Tax Credits

August 23rd, 2015 at 12:41 pm

So...I know about the American Opportunity Tax credit. It seems it doesn't cover room and board. It does cover tuition, fees and books...after scholarships. For this semester alone we have $2100 towards those costs.

If I understand correctly, I can claim tuition paid in the first three months of 2016 on our 2015 return. This means probably another $2K of expenses. So around $4k that we will pay from sources that are not college savings plans. My understanding is if I take this money from our Coverdell ESA those expense covered with this money can not be claimed for a credit. Which is fine with me since I currently plan to use that money for room and board, which I can't claim for the AO credit.

Then my understanding is the first 2K in expenses is a 100% credit. The next $2K is applied at 25% for a maximum of $2500.

Since this is a credit, it will directly impact our taxes owed. Currently I have us withholding about $520 per month for taxes. I think this is slightly more than our taxes before this credit. Now I'm debating about changing our withholding knowing this new information. If I reduce it, then I can save it for the next tuition bill in February. Or I could keep withholding the same and get a big refund, which I could then use to pay back the tuition we pay in February. I making an assumption that I wouldn't have the IRS refund by the Feb 12 due date.

Am I making any sense? Any other guidance? The credit is nearly always better than a deduction, so I'm not even looking at that scenario.

Taxes Filed

February 18th, 2015 at 02:06 pm

I finally filed our taxes for Federal and State. They were both accepted within an hour of submitting them! We are even on State since military pay isn't taxed here. We owe $638 to Federal. I have until April 15th to mail the money but I expect I will do that the beginning of April. I'm saving $105 each of the next three pay periods to add to the $315 I already have saved for this bill.

The next step is to adjust our withholding! We are at 7 now, I think I need to adjust to six. I will double check and then make the change to my husband's paycheck online.

To make sure I don't forget to pay Federal, I put a reminder on my calendar for April 1. I have my voucher and envelope ready to go. I will just need to write the check...which I could probably do now and just record later. Smile

One less thing on my long to do list! One of our next big goals is to get at least two realtors out here in the next two weeks to talk about what we can list our home for. One just sold the house across the street and was the selling agent for our home when we purchased it, so she knows our builder. The other just sold a home identical to ours down the street. I think they will both have good information about what is going on in our neighborhood!

Did you file your taxes yet?

We Owe

January 21st, 2015 at 07:44 pm

I knew this was coming ever since my husband's promotion and raise. We owe the federal government income tax. At this point it looks like $630. I did change the withholding so it could have been far worse. I'm going to change the withholding again for 2015, so we may not owe quite as much.

No complaints here. I don't mind paying in. It means I had access to that money nearly all year. No free loan to the government.

At this point, I will wait to pay the money owed. It isn't due until April 15th, so I'm not sending it in much sooner than that! There are six pay periods before and including the tax deadline for us. I will save $105 each month toward the amount we owe and have just the right amount at just the right time!

There is a small chance I may have missed some interest owed, so if that information arrives I will make the adjustment. I did several bank offers this year, I'm not sure if I missed one!

Do you know if you will get a refund or owe for your taxes?

Changes

November 25th, 2014 at 01:30 pm

I had to go back to the grocery store because when we purchased wine on Sunday, they only rang up 11 of the bottles. I needed that 12 one to show on a receipt so I could redeem a rebate worth $18. Luckily they were cool about it, and rang up another bottle, and gave me the additional discount for another 6 bottles. I paid another $1.93 after that so that I can get the $18 back! Well worth it.

We have been notified by Wells Fargo that we are short in our escrow account. This is because our property taxes increased by $306. The shortage is just $244.67. We have the option to pay in full before Jan 1, or have the amount spread across the next year. Normally, I would be inclined to pay the shortage up front. However, I really expect we will be moving, thus sending in more money a larger refund check later just doesn't appeal to me. I will have the amount spread across the next 12 months this time. Because of increased taxes and the shortage, our new payment will increase by $43.78. I think we can handle that change.

We may be changing our upcoming travel plans do to weather. I'm not a fan of anyone driving when roads are snow and ice packed. It is just not safe and not worth the risk of an accident.

It looks like we will make a little money from my husband's last travel trip. A whopping $25.81. Seems like a snowflake to me! I will add that amount with the $6 I have from a refund and a Pinecone survey and send to the mortgage to meet that goal by year end.

Have a super Thanksgiving! Stay safe and enjoy those you love and care about.

Estimating Taxes Before Promotion

August 28th, 2014 at 03:16 pm

With the new promotion and increased income, I figured I should check out where that puts us with taxes. We are still in the same tax bracket of 15%. But 15% of more is still more taxes!

I also realized and kind of knew that we would no longer be eligible to claim child tax credit on our daughter that turned 17. That right there is $1000 more in taxes than we have had in the past.

I have estimated that taxes(after the credit for one child) on our taxable income will equal $4,891. So far in eight months we have only had $2,308 withheld and withholding another $450 for four months will still put us short. I went ahead and changed withholding from 8 to 7. This will have us withholding $488 each month for the next four months. I could have made it more, but decided it was okay to keep it where it should be for next year and we will just owe the government again this spring. I expect in the end we will owe $630.

I plan to set aside $105 for the next six months for this particular debt. This way it won't be a big surprise or burden at tax time.

Each pay period we will have $440 more income after all the changes. DH and I did discuss this last night and he is all for just sweeping the money into savings knowing a move, and college are in our future. Seems like the best plan for now. We may evaluate retirement at the first of the year.

Do you evaluate your taxes anytime during the year? Or only at tax time?

Paid Bills

March 31st, 2014 at 10:46 am

It's the end of the month, and my husband's paycheck is pending deposit. I went ahead and recorded all the bills that automatically draft this next pay period. First is the mortgage payment of $1,415 which included an extra $103+ as a principal payment. Smile

I also went online and made a large payment on our Southwest card. It was $961.70 to cover our recent Honda maintenance expense, our cell phone bill and other miscellaneous spending from last pay period. There is still a balance on the card. Much of that is some travel expenses by my husband. We should get most of the reimbursement very soon. I'm hoping tomorrow. Once we do I will send all that in and get the card down to zero again.

I set aside $50 for Christmas, $114 towards our auto registration and insurance, and the $57 for the 52 Weekly Savings Challenge. I wrote one check for a school field trip and another for a flute lesson later tonight. I will be getting cash out for allowances, and another future flute lesson. Oh yes, some of the cash I need to get is for my daughter's birthday. She received a check for her birthday and she wanted me to get cash for it.

At this point, I plan to send the check for our taxes late next week, around April 11. We have the $413 in our account now, so I can mail anytime. I'm just waiting as long as I can to pay! I will go ahead and right the check, and stamp and address the envelope. I sure don't want to forget to pay the government.

I'm waiting to hear about the $100 credit I have on my US Bank card. I want them to mail me a check, but I have not heard back yet. The credit is from those Ooma referrals I received. If they won't send a check, I will use the card to pay a utility bill and just take the difference to send to the mortgage.

Are you paid on the first of the month? Do you record all your bills for that pay period right away? Or only record when it actually happens?

Taxes Filed, But Not Paid

March 30th, 2014 at 06:44 pm

I finally filed our tax returns on FreeTaxUSA. I paid $9.72 to file both returns. I even went through Ebates to get another 25% back. Smile

As I have known for awhile, we owe $413 in Federal taxes. The first time we have owed in quite some time, but not a big deal. I will likely write a check, to avoid any additional fees from using a credit card. If I needed to pay right away or meet a credit card spending requirement then I would be willing to pay the fee.

I will send the payment in the next two weeks, of course, so that we aren't late. Have you filed your taxes? Are you waiting until the last minute because you owe money?

Little Snowflakes & More

March 25th, 2014 at 11:53 am

I received a $3 Pinecone survey payment last week. Just today I requested that money be moved from my Paypal account to our checking account.

I also ordered two $5 Amazon.com gift cards from Swagbucks last week. I got them the next day! I have never received any redemption from them so fast. For now, those are loaded on our Amazon account, until our next purchase. I will officially account for them as snowflakes when used. I also plan to use the $9+ in Discover rewards when I make that next Amazon.com purchase. It is the only way I can get those last rewards off that card! Smile

Not sure if I wrote about this yet. We HAVE met the $2000 spending requirement on DHs Southwest Visa and then some. I noticed my husband put some more work trip transactions on there today. I don't see another worthwhile Southwest offer for me to apply for. I think we are at a little standstill for now with credit card offers. There are not any compelling offers that we haven't already done in the last year. But the cash and gift cards have not yet arrived for the recent cards, so there will be some big snowflakes soon.

I still need to finish our taxes. I'm pretty sure I've entered everything in. We owe $413. I was going to put this on that Southwest card, but we spent up to the minimum before I could get the taxes filed. I expect I will just pay by check and avoid the fee. Is it right that I can file and wait to mail the check by April 15? I think it is and I'm sure I can look that up to be sure.

I did write a post on my other blog today about a discussion we had with our girls the other day. Oh, and in fitness news, I have done 30 minutes of cardio the last two mornings and lifted weights. I feel so much better! I'm on track to meet my fitness goals this month. Yippee!!

Tax Credit For Saving

February 10th, 2014 at 06:27 pm

Make sure if you qualify you take the Saver's Credit, which can increase your refund or decrease the amount you owe. If you didn't save for retirement last year...make sure you do this year!! Smile

Here's a chart I found on the IRS website. You can get more details about the chart and the rules [url=http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-Retirement-Savings-Contributions-Credit-%28Saver%E2%80%99s-Credit%29]here[/url].



We didn't qualify this year because our AGI is too high. If I'm looking at this correctly, we could actually save in Traditional IRAs rather than Roth's and possibly qualify. I'm not sure that its worth it being in the 15% income tax bracket. I'll have to run the numbers for this coming year.

Did you qualify and take the Saver's Credit on your tax return? Were you aware of this tax benefit for saving?