We’re a week into April, but it’s never too late to get started on good financial goals. April is an especially good month to think about your taxes (especially if you haven’t been to this point). If you are considering a financial checklist for April, here are 6 items to place on it.
1. File Your Tax Return
This is an obvious one. You’ve only got a week, so get on it. You should file your tax return by April 15. If you’re too far behind to get this done, you can file an extension. You don’t have to have a reason; all you have to do is fill out IRS Form 4868. Anyone can get an extension to file their tax return, extending the due date out to October 15. However, it is vital that you realize that you still have to pay your taxes. You are required to estimate how much you will owe and pay that by April 15 – or face interest and other financial penalties.
2. Use Your Tax Return Wisely
If you have been using your tax return as a sort of savings account, now is a good time to consider what you will spend it on. Instead of buying something you probably don’t need, think about padding your emergency fund or adding a little extra to your retirement account. At the very least, pay down some debt with your tax return. Then, adjust your tax withholding at work so that you aren’t giving the government an interest-free loan all year. You could be putting that money to work for you instead.
3. Plan Ahead for Tax Season 2010
Now is a good time to consider the tax moves you can make in 2010. Consider the tax credits (like the green home improvement credit) that are set to expire at the end of this year. Look at your money habits, and determine whether or not you can do some things this year that will result in greater tax efficiency. Plan ahead, and you can reduce your tax liability for 2010. You may wish to discuss your 2010 plan with your financial planner as well.
4. Contribute to an IRA
You have until April 15 to make a 2009 IRA contribution. So, if you want the deduction that comes with a Traditional IRA contribution, you can get it. You can even open a traditional IRA and get a deduction for what you put in. Make sure you understand the limits, though. A tax professional or financial adviser can help you determine what might be the best course of action for you.
5. Start Planning Your Summer Vacation
Now is the time to look for deals for your summer vacation. Get early booking discounts, and consider your options. You can put together a summer vacation package for your family now, and save money in the long run. If you need to save up for your vacation, now is a good time to decide how much you need to set aside, and make a financial plan for reaching your summer vacation goals.
6. Shop the Seasonal Sales
This is the perfect month for shopping for certain items. Digital cameras, computers and lawn mowers are usually on sale during the month of April. If you are interested in getting some new tech, now may be the time. You can get the older models that stores are clearing out to make room for the new technology. Last year’s lawn mowers are also on sale ahead of the new arrivals for summer yard work. Finally, you can get a discount on spring clothing. Also, check the clearance racks for winter clothing from this past season. Now is a great time to stock up for next winter.
Let us know if you think we should add another task to this checklist. Any other financial moves you are planning to make this month?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.