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    Tax Preparation Billings MT

    Increase Your Income by Earning More on the Side

    Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

     

    Getting a Second Job

    To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

    The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

    The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

    Working on the Side

    Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

    The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

    The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

    Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

    If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at Practical Taxes, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

    If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

    Practical Taxes knows all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

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    bookkeeping services billings mt

    Increase Your Income by Earning More on the Side

    Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

    Getting a Second Job

    To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

    The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

    The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

    Working on the Side

    Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

    The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

    The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

    Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

    If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at A+ Accounting & Consulting, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

    If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

    We are accountants in Billings, Montana. We know all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

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    How to Deal When Money is Tight

     When Money is Tight, You Need to Adjust

    No matter how hard you try and how much you plan, sometimes, things just don’t go your way and you have to make some drastic changes to cope. Getting into financial trouble is one of those times and if you are currently stressing out over your tight money situation, here are a few tips to help you survive and recover. If money is tight, then follow these steps by Practical Taxes, your accountant in Billings, Montana.

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    Stay calm, It’s Just a Phase

    As difficult as things might seem, keep in mind that the money is tight situation does not have to stay as it is. You have to step up and make different choices; ideally, smarter choices that will help improve your situation sooner rather than later.

    Re-evaluate your Priorities

    Whether you got into this tight spot by choice (because of unreasonable spending) or by force (unexpected and unfavorable circumstances converged on you), worrying without looking forward simply shouldn’t be an option. Think of it as the universe’s way of telling you that it’s time to look back on the decisions you made, and change the way you’ve been going about things. If you feel overwhelmed, try simplifying by figuring out which expenses you cannot do without, and work your way from there.

    Create a Budget

    If you do not have a budget, it’s probably one of the reasons you got into this financial dilemma in the first place. Without any plan or objective, there’s nothing to guide you on what to do and what not to do. Financially speaking, it is only by having a budget that you will ever have a chance of achieving your short-term goals, as well as your long-term goals. Start by listing your expected monthly income and expenses, and then allot your income accordingly. Remember that setting up a budget is not enough. It is equally important to stick to your budget. Which means that your commitment and determination should be at their highest level. You’ll need discernment too so you’ll know when adjustments are necessary.

    Cut Back on your Spending

    If you’re short on funds, you know what you have to do. It’s time to practice self-control and reduce your expenses to their lowest possible level. Remember your priorities? Use this as your basis. Start with your basic needs: food, shelter, transportation and clothing.

    While we love living life to its fullest, now is the time to cut back and reassess.

    Food: Do you dine out more often than you eat at home? Maybe it’s time you don’t because it’s much easier to control your food spending when you’re the one who’s planning your. You can buy what’s on discount, buy in bulk and be creative about preparing that food item in different ways, use coupons, and purchase only those items that will fit your budget. When you cook at home, you even get that extra bonus of making healthier meals because you can use healthy and less costly food substitutes.

    Shelter: If you’re paying off a mortgage, there’s probably not much you can do to bring down the cost. But do you happen to have an extra room which you aren’t using? Instead of bringing down the cost of maintaining your home, why not make money out of it by renting out unused space? It can be intimidating, so consider renting to a family member or close friend.

    Transportation: Do you really need to bring your car to work every day? Maybe you can try alternately driving to work, and taking public transit to work. Your best option at this point will of course be the cheapest option; which for many is to actually use a bicycle. You get your workout, and you save on transit costs.

    Clothing: Sure, clothing is a necessity because you just can’t go around in your birthday suit, right? But do you really have to buy new clothes weekly, or every time there’s a new fashion, or just because you feel like it? No, no, and no. When funds are low, shopping for clothes (or just plain shopping for that matter) is one activity that ought to be put aside in the meantime.

    What about other expenses like utility bills, credit card bills, and loan payments? For your electric and water bills, be more mindful about your consumption. For cable bills, maybe you can survive without cable for a while? For telephone and internet bills, maybe you should consider downgrading your existing plans? For credit card bills and other loans, try paying the ones with the highest interest first, or those with the least amounts.

    The bottomline: Spend only for those that you really need, and opt for what is the least expensive.

    Earn More Money

    Sometimes, trimming down your expenses is not enough. Maybe you’ll get by, but you might never get out of that rut. A perfect complement to that move is to find other sources of income. If you have extra space in your home, rent it out. If you have stuff you no longer use, sell it. If you have a hobby that can make you money like writing or making crafts, find a way to capitalize on it. If you have extra time, find extra work.

    Take time to Relax

    Worrying all the time doesn’t do anybody any good, so don’t waste your time. Instead, you should still find time to free yourself from all your worries and spend time to relax, be with your family, and have fun with your friends, without having to spend anything. And when you accomplish something (even if it’s a simple victory like earning profit from a batch of cookies that you made, or being able to pay off one of your credit cards)congratulate and reward yourself. Don’t go for anything expensive, of course. Just a little something to boost your spirit, a reminder and an inspiration to keep you going.

    Practical Taxes can Help

    We can help get you out of your rut when money is tight. We offer affordable tax preparation in Billings, Montana. That means you get to free up more of your time (to earn more on the side if needed), and receive a larger tax refund. You can use that refund to bolster your emergency fund, pay off debt, or do those long needed repairs.

    Give us a call today at 406-894-2050 to schedule a time when we can free up your time by doing your taxes.

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    6 Dos and Don’ts for an Energy Efficient Home

    Want a More Energy Efficient Home?

    Energy-Efficient-300x225If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we all have bad habits. Maybe it’s forgivable if it doesn’t affect anyone but yourself. Sadly, it seldom does. The good news is that bad habits can always be changed. And when it comes to using energy, the sooner we transform our bad habits into good ones, the better it will be for us, our entire household, our country, and our planet. Being energy efficient shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.

    Practical Taxes strives to be the best accountant in Billings. So we have put together 6 do’s and don’ts that will help you become an energy saver through an energy efficient home. These will help you save money, reduce your impact on the environment, and still enjoy a happy and comfortable home.

     

    Don’t leave appliances on standby. That small red light that remains on still uses up electricity just by being plugged in.

    Do turn off and unplug all appliances that you aren’t using. This includes chargers which continue to use electricity even when they’re already fully charged. For commonly used appliances, try using a power strip. This way, you can easily switch power off and on without having to plug and unplug every time.

    Don’t constantly wash clothes at a very high temperature. It doesn’t only make your bills go higher, it also makes your clothes shrink faster. Modern detergents don’t need hot water; science says 80 degrees is hot enough for most clothes (that’s barely over tap water temperature in most places).

    Do wash your clothes at a lower temperature, or simply cold water from time to time, and wash full loads only. After washing, there’s no need to tumble dry your laundry all the time. When it’s a sunny day or a windy day, try air-drying your clothes. It’s not only an energy saver, it also helps make your laundry smell more pleasant.

    Don’t take the sun for granted. It’s the easiest to use renewable resource we have.

    When the sun is out, do welcome its warmth into your home by opening your blinds, curtains and drapes. When evening comes, keep the warmth in by closing your rooms off. With leftover natural warmth, your heater will not have to work as hard to keep the room warm and cozy.

    Don’t insist on using lights that are pleasant to the eyes, but not to your budget. The days of bright 40-watt, 60-watt, and 75-watt incandescent bulbs are over.

    Do replace those energy-burning high-wattage lights. Use energy-efficient lights like light-emitting diode or LED bulbs. Although significantly more pricey than general lighting bulbs, LED lights tend to be more of an investment because of the expected energy savings you’ll reap in the long run. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are also an option. They’re less costly and almost as energy-efficient as LEDs; however, they don’t last as long. Don’t forget to clean your lights regularly too so that it always gives off its maximum brightness, not dimmed by dirt and dust.

    Don’t ignore those drafts. When combined, those small leaks and gaps that let cold air in and warm air out can result in a very noticeable difference. And not in a good way.

    Do seal everything up so that air is kept in and let out, only through openings and entries that should. Use caulk, sealant, or weather-stripping to plug cracks, gaps, and leaks on walls, doors, windows and electrical outlets.

    Don’t close your mind to the idea of going solar.

    Do give solar energy a chance. Global warming is a very real threat and it’s time to seriously consider doing as much as possible to save energy and help keep our planet alive. The initial cost of solar power installation might immediately turn you off. It shouldn’t, though. Having your home powered with solar energy might just be the most energy-efficient move you can ever make. You’ll just have to open your mind to its possibilities. Even in our northern climate, your house can convert a lot of sunlight to electricity.

    Practical Taxes Wants to Save You Money

    Whether we are helping save you money on your taxes, get a bigger tax refund, or save you time, we believe in doing all that we can to make sure you are living a rich life. In order to be the best accountant in Billings, we believe in passing along money saving tips whenever possible. Those tips include making your home more energy efficient.

    Want to get started saving money on your taxes? Call 406-894-2050 today!

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    How Much Home Can You Afford?

    Have You Considered the True Costs of Buying a Home?

    real-estate-agent-billings-montana-300x227Buying a house is a big step. But most people don’t really understand what a house is going to cost them. Instead, they look at the price of the home, plug that into a mortgage calculator, and then think “hey, I could afford those payments!” What they fail to take into account is that owning a home is more than just principle and interest payments each month. If you’re wondering how much home you can afford, keep reading as Practical Taxes breaks it down.

    For the sake of our analysis, we will use a home price of $200,000 and a 4% interest rate with no down payment.

     

    Paying on Principle and Interest

    Principle and interest are the two biggest components of owning a home. We can figure out exactly what those payments are by using a mortgage calculator. Google has one built right into its system, or there are dozens online (Bankrate has a good one).

    Using a calculator we can see that a 30 year loan will cost $955 each month.

    Paying Private Mortgage Insurance

    Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is required if you put less than 20% down on the house that you are buying. This insurance protects the lender in case you default on the loan. Unfortunately you, the buyer, has to pay for this insurance that does nothing for you. PMI can run between .5% and 1.5% of the loan costs. Let’s use the lower number for our analysis.

    PMI will cost an additional $83 per month.

    Paying for Insurance

    Best accountant in BillingsHomeowner’s insurance is a good idea even after you have paid off the loan. If you have a mortgage on your house, it is required by the lender that you maintain insurance. Costs for insurance premiums can vary dramatically depending on where you live, what types of materials were used to build the house, how old the house is, and if there are any “dangerous” items or animals on the property (swimming pools, trampolines, aggressive dogs, and the like). Most of the time homeowner’s insurance is pretty cheap.

    Insurance will run you another $75 per month.

     

    Paying for Utilities

    Depending on where you were living before, you might not have had to worry about utility bills. If you lived in an apartment, then your bills were likely a lot lower than living in a home. Apartments are often warmer (especially if your unit was between 2 others), they don’t have a lawn to water, and generally they are smaller than a house. When you move into your own home, you are responsible for the entire utility bill. Since they fluctuate depending on season, age of the house, size, etc. we will try for a reasonable average.

    Utilities will be roughly $200 per month. Not including phone, internet, cable, and other perks.

    Paying for Maintenance

    We’re not done adding up the costs of owning a home yet. Unless you are buying a brand new house that comes with a warranty, you are responsible for all of the maintenance that goes along with the house. That means if a water heater conks out, you get to fix or replace it. If the furnace dies, the dishwasher overheats, the refrigerator stops running, or even a light bulb burns out, then it is on you to get it back in order. That’s not to mention the fact that eventually the roof will need replaced, landscaping dies, and things will need upgraded, updated, and at least painted. You can pay for all of these when the time comes, but it would be better to have an emergency fund to offset those costs.

    A maintenance slush fund needs at least $100 per month added to it.

    The True Cost of Owning a Home

    When you add up all of the costs, you can see that owning a home is a lot more than plugging the price into a mortgage calculator. In our example we see that our monthly costs come to:

    • Principle and Interest: $955
    • PMI: $83
    • Insurance: $75
    • Utilities: $200
    • Maintenance: $100
    • Total Costs: $1,413/month

    Owning a home comes to about 150% of the principle and interest. So before you jump into home ownership, make sure that is the number that you can afford.

    Practical Taxes Can Help

    When you need an accountant in Billings, you have options. If you come to Practical Taxes you will get low cost tax preparation by an accountant. Your tax refund will likely be higher than if you try to do your own taxes, and the end result is that you have more money that you can set aside to put as a down payment on your next home.

    Need to set up an appointment to have your taxes done? Call 406-894-2050.

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    Credit Card or Cash?

    The Debate Wages on: is Cash or Credit Card Better?

    Credit-Card-300x200When making any kind of purchase, the same question is always asked (even if not out loud): will you pay in cash or using a credit card? It is typical for many people to use one or the other in different situations because both payment methods do have their own advantages and disadvantages. The key is to balance your choices so that you get the best of both.

    If you read a lot of personal finance, you will hear the experts loudly proclaiming cash is better or credit card is better! They have their reasons, and ultimately it depends on you and your personality. Your Billings accountant lays out the details why you might choose one over the other.

    Advantages of Paying in Cash

    Controlled Spending – When you pay with cash, you are forced to be more mindful of your spending because you can only spend money that you actually have. If you go shopping with $500 in your pocket, you can’t let your purchases go over $500.00. If you bring your credit card instead of cash, although you plan to spend only $500.00, it will take more willpower to stick to that budget and avoid impulse buying to because it is just so much easier to have your credit card swiped than hand over real cash.

    No additional costs – With cash payments, there are no fees to worry about. With credit cards, even if you do not have to pay for any interest because you make sure to always pay your full balance on its due date, you’ll still have to contend with other fees such as annual fees, foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, and balance transfer fees. And, if you happen to pay your bill past its due date (even just once), you will not only get charged with interest and late fees, it will negatively affect your credit history and credit score as well.

    Security – When you pay with your credit card, merchants get the chance to ask for personal information (such as your email address, contact number, or your residence address) which they can then use for their promotional and marketing campaigns. By giving out this information, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of being victimized through data security breaches and identity theft. And even though you might not be held liable for unauthorized purchases done as a result of such, sorting things out might take some time and you will have to suffer through some unnecessary inconvenience. When you pay with cash, however, you rarely have to give out your personal data, and, you’ll be that much harder to track (for whatever reason you don’t want to be tracked by anybody).

    Advantages of Using Credit Cards

    Safety – Carrying too much money is rarely a smart move. When you lose your wallet or your money gets stolen, it’s simply gone for good. When you lose your credit card, you can just have it canceled and replaced. And, you will not have to pay for unauthorized purchases because of the protection that comes with it.

    Convenience – When you carry only enough cash and an unexpected purchase needs to be done, you’ll have to resort to making an unscheduled withdrawal from your bank. If you have a credit card, you can easily pay for your purchase with it, and then make sure you include it in next month’s budget so you won’t have to pay for any interest charge.

    Flexibility – When you’re fond of traveling, having a credit card gives you more flexibility because foreign stores and vendors generally accept payments from major credit cards. In contrast, you might need to have your cash converted to the country’s currency before you will be able to use it to pay for anything.

    Additional perks – Paying in cash keeps you away from additional fees and charges, but rarely ever gives you the chance to receive any other perks. Credit card companies, on the other hand, usually offer rewards and incentive programs such as frequent flier miles, freebies from partner establishments, cash back rewards, and all kinds of discounts. More importantly, every time you pay your credit card bill on time, it makes your credit history look better and consequently, improves your credit score. This will certainly come in handy when you get faced with the need for a huge amount cash which you can only come up with by applying for a loan.

    Easy monitoring – Credit card statements give you a complete and accurate record of all the purchases you made. With cash, you will have to do manual recording of your purchases so you’ll know where your money went.

    Do You Prefer Cash or Credit Card?

    The debate will always wage. Some will say cash is better, others claim you’re throwing away money by not utilizing perks. What it boils down to is your preference. If you’re disciplined and can manage your spending, then a credit card is great. But if you tend to overspend, then carrying cash is ideal.

    Regardless of your method of spending, Practical Taxes, your best choice for accountant in Billings, MT, will provide you with outstanding service, prepare your taxes for less than you think, and get you the biggest tax refund possible.

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    5 Money Myths That Won’t Go Away

    Stop Believing these 5 Money Myths

    Money doesn’t grow on trees. No, that’s not one of the 5 money myths that your Billings accountant wants to tell you about; most people realize that money doesn’t grow on trees. It is important to be aware of what is right and what is wrong when it comes to money, especially since almost any move you make can be restricted if you do not have it. To help get you on the right track, here are 5 of the most common money myths which you should stop believing today.

    oie_KBTirTitLTAg-300x212

    It is always best to pay in cash.

    While paying in cash is almost equivalent to saying that you have the funds needed to pay for what you are purchasing, sometimes, it isn’t always a good idea to do so. Why? Because you might be missing out on special offers, discounts, and other rewards offered by credit card companies. As long as you make it a point to pay your full credit card balance when it is due (which means no interest is charged), you will be better off racking up those reward points instead of paying everything in cash all the time with no rewards. And don’t forget, carrying too much cash around is a security risk because it is prone to theft, and is untraceable. Though your credit card can also be stolen, it can easily be canceled or frozen to prevent unauthorized use.

    I’m too young/old to save for retirement

    When you start saving while you are still young, you’ll have the benefit of earning more through compound interest. Which means it’s never too early to start saving. On the other hand, even if you are a bit older, you’ll still get to enjoy compound interest when you save, just not nearly as much compared to starting when you were younger. Which means it’s never too late to start saving.

    You get what you pay for.

    When it comes to quality, almost everybody assumes that the more expensive it is, the better it is. This may be true in many cases, but not in all instances. A good example is generic drugs. Sure, you have this preconceived notion that the popular medicine brands will surely help stop whatever pain you’re feeling. But have you compared the ingredients to the generic? A generic aspirin will stop a headache just the same as a brand name one. The point is, the brand and the price tag shouldn’t always be the only deciding factors when you are making any purchase. There’s a time to be practical, as well as a time for brand-consciousness. Know when it’s worth paying the higher price, and when it isn’t.    

    You can’t start saving until all your debt has been repaid.

    Whoever started this myth should be ashamed of themselves. Because emergencies and unexpected circumstances are a part of life (just like death and taxes), paying off everything you owe before you start saving might be impractical, if not, impossible. Just think about it. You’re working, working, working to pay your debts and make ends meet, when someone suddenly gets sick. You don’t have extra funds to go to the hospital or buy medicine. So it’s a choice between sacrificing food and groceries, or getting into some other kind of debt. And instead of achieving your goal to be debt-free, you end up getting into more debt instead. The lesson: even if you still have debts to pay, strive to set up an emergency fund by saving even just a little bit each month so you won’t have to go into crisis mode every time something unexpected happens

    A penny saved is a penny earned.

    Minimizing your spending is indeed a great way to save. But it is illogical to think that the savings you get by cutting down on expenses will pave the way for elevating your financial status — you can only do that by earning more. The best way to get ahead financially is not to just save more, but earn more.

    Practical Taxes Squashes the 5 Money Myths

    Here’s a bonus myth that you should stop believing: stop giving the government an interest free loan. Overpaying your taxes is a good thing since most of us don’t have the discipline to save that money every single month. A sudden windfall is harder to spend than a dollar here or there, and can help boost your financial health dramatically.

    To get that sudden windfall, you need a great accountant that will maximize your tax refund, and save you money. As the best accountant in Billings, we can do that for you!

     

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    What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

    “In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. A year later, their footage was found.” Remember where you heard these 2 unforgettable statements? This was used as the tagline for the 1999 American horror film, The Blair Witch Project. This also happens to be one of the most famous embodiment of what has come to be known as guerrilla marketing.

    Guerilla-Marketing

    Guerrilla Marketing?

    Formally introduced to the world in 1984, guerrilla marketing is a term coined by marketer Jay Conrad Levinson. Simply put, guerrilla marketing is an advertising tactic that makes use of non-traditional methods (creative stunts and gimmicks rather than high-budget promotions) to achieve traditional results (sales and profits). It was originally intended to give small businesses a chance to make themselves known, while working only on a minimal budget.

    Doing away with the usual high-budget tactics, guerrilla marketing relies on sheer guts, ingenuity, and audacity to work its magic, and influence their targets to buy what they are selling, so to speak.

    Origins of Guerrilla Marketing

    Inspired by guerrilla warfare — a form of small-scale combat used by armed civilians that is characterized by surprise attacks — guerrilla marketing also depends heavily on the element of surprise to make the campaign effective. Because many consumers are so used to being bombarded with the usual forms of advertising (print, media, radio), the unexpected ways that are used by guerrilla marketing to make a product, service, or information known leaves a more lasting impression and results in a more memorable experience.

    The Blair Witch Project Example

    In the given example, the filmmakers (college pals Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick of University of Central Florida Film School) were able to draw considerable public attention by creating a website devoted to the Blair Witch – a wood-based kid-snatching character who has supposedly been terrorizing Maryland for the past century. Received too enthusiastically by those who visited website, the Blair Witch soon turned from a fictitious character into some kind of urban legend. The overall effect? The movie earned a whopping $250 million all over the world. A major feat considering it only cost about $50,000 to make.

    This is the kind of reaction that guerrilla marketing is aiming for. Requiring creativity and imagination that targets customers in ways that no one can predict, guerrilla marketing attempts to create unforgettable impact and elicit observable reactions that will logically lead to the intended course of action, in this case — watching the film.

    Characteristics of Guerrilla Marketing

    Aside from being far less costly than traditional advertising strategies, a guerrilla marketing campaign generally exhibits the following characteristics:

    • It is interactive and stimulating so you can’t help but react.
    • It catches you off-guard because it is there when and where you least expect it.
    • There is an outrageous, shocking and mischievous element to it, yet when its true intention becomes obvious, there is hardly any feeling of negativity.
    • It can turn routine or everyday experience from ordinary to extraordinary.
    • It has the tendency to become viral.
    • It generates a buzz, creates a hype, and people actually talk about it.

    Practical Taxes Can Help…

    … with your taxes. While we do love to see businesses succeed, and we can offer some marketing advice, we tend to stick with what we know. And we know taxes, finances, and business. If you are a small business owner, and you have seen a sudden surge in success due to your guerrilla marketing techniques, that’s awesome! We can help you manage the tax implications of your success. Of course if you need help with your tax return, and you are looking for the largest tax refund possible, we can help with that too.

    Practical Taxes has recently moved! We are now your Billings, Montana accountant located at 2201 Grand Ave.

     

     

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    Plan For Christmas So You Don’t Overspend

    Christmas-Debt-298x300Christmas is only a few weeks away. If you haven’t done any planning yet, you better get a move on soon! Otherwise, you’re likely to fall into the trap of overspending. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about money here. When you don’t plan and organize, you not only spend more money than you intend to, you also end up spending more time and effort.

    It’s not that we don’t think that Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. It’s simply that the Christmas season should be a haven of happy memories, and not a cause of stress, anxiety, an empty wallet, and a lean bank account.

    To make sure that this Christmas will be the joyous occasion that it ought to be, your accountant in Billings, MT offers a few tips to help with your gift-giving plans.

     

    Save on money this Christmas

    Make a list – Before doing any shopping, make a gift list, as well as a card list. This will ensure that you do not overlook anybody, risk hurting someone’s feelings, or go on a last-minute (usually over-budget) shopping rush.

    Set a budget – One of the most logical ways to avoid overspending is to come up with a budget, and stick to it no matter what.

    Come Up with a Theme – Especially for those you are unsure of what to get for Christmas this year. Having a theme might make gift-picking a little bit easier and likely more cost-effective too because of the possibility of buying in bulk or volume.

    Bring out your Creativity – With so many DIY tutorials, finding a gift that you can do yourself is no longer a daunting task. More than just saving on cost, sometimes a personalized gift can turn out to be the most special because it speaks volumes about how important the recipient is to you that you were willing to spend extra time to make the gift, instead of simply buying it.

    Make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are undoubtedly the best sales events of the year (The time between Black Friday and Christmas makes up over 30% of some store’s annual revenue). Maximize your savings by buying at least half of your gifts during these events. While you’re at it, why not treat yourself to great deals as well?

    Save on time and effort

    Embrace e-Commerce – Gone are the days when shopping requires a trip to the mall. With the advent of online shopping, life has become made so much easier. No need to dress up, drive through traffic, fight over parking space, and face the overwhelming holiday shopping crowd. Instead of physically going from store to store, try browsing through different online stores instead, and shop from the comfort of your living room.

    Go out on Weekdays; Stay Home on Weekends – Spare yourself from the usual weekend rush. Do your mall shopping during the weekdays, and use the weekend for what it is made for rest and relaxation.

    Wrap Gifts Immediately – Instead of completing your gift list before wrapping, why not wrap immediately after buying? Try it and you’ll soon realize that it’s actually faster, easier, and less tiring compared to marathon gift wrapping.

    Plan Now to Save on Christmas Shopping

    Start with your Christmas planning now, while there’s still plenty of time. And remember, as cliché as it may sound, when it comes to giving, it’s still the thought that counts, and not the price. So let the Christmas season bring out the best in you, without having to overspend on anything.

    If you do get in over your head, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans will overspend this year. Just make a plan to get out of that holiday debt. One way is to maximize your refund. Practical Taxes can help you get that refund.

     

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    Five Tips for Increasing Your Wealth

    Taxable-Income-300x199Most people want to be wealthy. This doesn’t mean that they want to be able to afford a mansion on the beach and drive exotic cars, although that could be nice. Instead, wealthy, to most people, means being able to have financial freedom. They don’t have to worry about money, they don’t have to worry about working, and they don’t have to wonder where their next paycheck will come from.

    Unfortunately, most people will never be wealthy. The vast majority of Americans don’t save nearly enough to meet their retirement needs. Instead, they spend (and over-spend), and ultimately will rely on government programs to meet their needs when they are physically unable to work any longer. If you would rather save now so you can have a comfortable retirement, pay attention to these five tips from your accountant in Billings, Montana.

    Boost Your 401(k) Contributions

    When is the last time you looked at your 401(k) contributions? Are you even contributing? Most people put in the bare minimum: between 1 and 3%. For some reason they feel that increasing their contributions will make them suffer greatly and not be able to afford their expenses. This couldn’t be further from the truth; the math is simple.

    If you make $30,000 per year, and you put in 3% of your income into a 401(k) and your employer matches 3%, you are saving $1,800 per year. If you increase your contributions to 5% (and you get a 3% match), then you are now saving $2,400 per year, but your take home pay will only decrease by about $40 per month (assuming a 20% tax rate).

    Every six months, increase your withholdings by another 1%.

    Pay Down Your Debt Rapidly

    Most Americans have debt. Most Americans hate their debt. Yet for some reason people keep charging, keep buying more car, boat, or ATV than they can afford, and keep getting into mortgages that strain their finances. At the same time, those people are all paying minimums on their debt, and racking up huge interest charges.

    Instead of floundering through your debt, pay it down rapidly! It can be done with a little dedication. Take for instance the story of Joe Mihalic. He graduated from Harvard with $90,000 of debt. Within 9 months he was debt free.

    That may mean earning more money.

    Bring in Money on the Side

    Something that has become more and more popular over the last few years is earning more money on the side. For many it seems impossible, for those who have done it, they know it is actually pretty easy.

    Take something you are good at, and start asking around for those who would pay to have it done for them. Can you push a lawnmower? A handful of lawns mowed on a Saturday morning could bring you a few hundred extra dollars per month. Are you a wiz in the kitchen? Many people hate to cook, prepping their meals a few nights per week could bring in some extra cash. Are you a fantastic artist? Freelance designers are always in demand.

    Choose a skill, hone that skill, market that skill, and be on your way to an extra $500 to $1,000 per month with only a few extra hours of work each week.

    Be Passionate and Create Value

    Many people don’t want to work outside of their regular job. But then they get to their place of employment and complain through the day. They don’t like their work, they hate going to work, and they do the bare minimum to scrape by. This attitude is guaranteed to leave you at the bottom of the ladder while your peers move up.

    Instead, find a job that you can be passionate about. Create immense value by breaking away from traditional methods and employing those that clients need and want. By becoming an expert, creating value, and showing your enthusiasm and passion, you will show that you can be trusted with more and more.

    Negotiate Expenses

    If you want to be wealthy, quit throwing away your money. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to use leaves at toilet paper, take cold showers, and sit in the dark so you don’t spend money on electricity. What it means is that you need to slash expenses whenever you can.

    When is the last time you looked at your car insurance? You could likely be paying several hundred per month more than you need to. Have you checked your phone plan lately? Many carriers have offered upgrades for free, but won’t give them to you unless you ask. At the same time, you may be able to get the same plan for cheaper. Do you really need cable TV, or can you get everything online for a fraction of the cost?

    Take an hour to slash your expenses and you could save thousands per year.

    Practical Taxes is Here to Help

    When you get your tax refund, you probably have an idea of where it will go even before the check comes. If you are truly intent on building wealth, have us prepare your taxes. We can find most of our clients a bigger refund, and in the end they gain wealth much faster than if they spend hours trying to do their taxes on their own.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We offer payroll services, accounting, bookkeeping, and much more. 406-894-2050.

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    Becoming More Efficient in Your Business

    Drucker-portrait-bkt_1014Running a business is all about efficiency. Without certain systems in place, you will never be able to accomplish all that you need to get done. For example, if you simply have too much work to get done, then you will need to hire employees. Of course with those employees comes a whole host of other problems that need to be resolved such as payroll, bookkeeping, and many more. You can do all of those yourself, or you can put a system in place to accomplish those tasks for you. Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana explains how.

     

     

    Becoming More Efficient

    Peter Drucker, the late business consultant and educator, once said, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” These words have never been truer, especially in today’s world where often business owners try to take on everything rather than delegating and simplifying.

    Eliminate – There are many things that business owners simply don’t have to do. But for some reason, perhaps it’s because they want to make sure that everything gets done properly, they do them anyway. For instance, there are a lot of business owners out there that feel they need to incorporate every form of marketing available. So they stress and worry about their radio ads, billboards, TV ads, internet marketing, and social media marketing. In today’s world, they could easily eliminate three or more of those forms of marketing, and still make just as much of an impression on the community.

    Delegate – If you have employees, then you are already delegating. Whenever there is a task that can be done by someone else, you can help alleviate some of the stress by delegating that task to someone else. Most of us delegate already. We ask our connections on Facebook for advice, we have employees help us, and we have our accountant run our payroll and our bookkeeping. Any time that you can have someone else do the work, it is usually better to have them do the work.

    Simplify – Sometimes you just need to simplify your work. Instead of having an elaborately designed 10 page color catalog that nobody ever reads, have a 1 page flyer instead. But as we referred to above, if the work doesn’t need to be done, then simplifying isn’t going to make you more efficient. That is why we always ask first, “can this be eliminated?” and then, “can this be delegated?” and finally, “can this be simplified?”

    Practical Taxes Can Help

    In your quest for maximum efficiency, Practical Taxes can help alleviate the burden that you feel. If you have employees, and you are still writing paychecks every two weeks, delegate that to us. If you are slogging your way through bookkeeping every months, delegate that to us. If you are trying to file your taxes quarterly and are frustrated beyond belief, delegate that to us. As a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana, we can take a lot of the pressure off of you so that you can better run your business.

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    How to Turn a $10,000 Investment into $1 Million

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    Most of us are always on the lookout for great investments. We know that there are some that are “sure things” but they usually don’t pay as much interest. Others that claim a huge return are generally too good to be true, and they end up being ponzi schemes or another scam. I’m happy to say that this investment is NOT a scam. In fact, this investment is how millions of people around the country have accumulated their wealth. Keep reading as your accountant and payroll specialist explains how you can take a mere $10,000, and turn it into millions.

     

     

     

    Your $10,000 Investment

    The best part about this investment is that you don’t even have to have all $10,000 right up front. Instead, you can pay a little now, and the rest over time as you earn more money. Here’s the real deal though.

    Traditionally this investment has run $50,000-$250,000. Many people have made these investments only to see low level returns coming in, or even long periods where the investment didn’t pay off at all. Much of that is changing as the years go one.

    What is that $10,000 Investment?

    That investment is an alternative to the traditional college approach. As tuition rates continue to rise and college is becoming less and less affordable to individuals, there is a new alternative. This alternative is a boot-camp style educational program that is designed to help people achieve the training they need, without the massive amounts of college debt.

    Consider it like this: for $10,000 you attend a training program that lasts about 12 weeks (that’s 3 short months). When you are done, you have all the skill and expertise that you need to enter into a highly technical position. Some of these trainings prime you to get hired as an app developer with a starting salary of $70,000 per year (over 20 years that $70k will bring you over $1 million). No huge debt to be burdened with, a skill set that is in high demand and a job that is sure to grow over the coming decades.

    Making Your $10,000 Investment

    Yes, this is not an investment in the traditional sense of the word. You have to invest the money to train yourself and become more of an asset to the business community. However, when all is said and done, you are in the perfect position to earn a great income for the rest of your working career.

    As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to have $10,000 all at once. Suppose you can work hard and get together $1,000; that is the perfect down payment. You can finance the rest of the education costs. The best part is that with your new job, paying off your student debt in a year or less shouldn’t be any issue (try doing that with $200,000 of debt from a traditional 4-year college; it can be done, but it’s hard).

    Practical Taxes Has Your Back

    When you do start making a good income with your new job, you will want to hire an accountant. We will be there for you. Instead of wasting your now much more valuable time trying to figure out your taxes, just bring everything in and we will do it all for you. Of course if you want to use your new skills to branch out on your own and start a business, we will be there for business consulting, payroll services, and much more.

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    Create an Easy Home Budget

    budget-289x300There are three types of people: those who budget every single dollar, those who have a rough idea of their spending, and those who don’t budget or track anything at all. Each method fits a different personality, and often those in their particular budgeting mindset aren’t very happy with where they are. The extreme budgeters wish to lighten up a little; the non-budgeters wish to track their spending a little better. If you fall into the second category, I have good news. Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana will show you how to create a simple budget in just 4 easy steps.

     

     

     

     

    Gather Your Data

    Before you can get started with your budget, you need to know where your money is going. Now this can be as in-depth or as loose as you want it to be, but you need to make sure to include some major expenditures. Here are some places where you likely spend to get you started thinking:

    • Mortgage or Rent
    • Utilities – Phone, gas, electric, water
    • Food
    • Oil and gas for the car
    • Insurance(s)
    • Entertainment – eating out, movies, concerts
    • Savings/Investment

     

    Your spending may look different, but you need to look back at the last month or two and see where your money goes. If most of your purchases are in cash, and you don’t have receipts, then you will have to fill in these categories as you complete the next step.

    Write Down Expenses

    For the next couple of months, you need to track all of your expenses. This means every single time you buy something, write down what it was and which category it falls into (the categories that you made in step one). This will get you a precise look at where your money is actually going.

    The easiest way to do this is to simply keep your receipts. If you don’t get a receipt, like after getting gas, snap a picture of the pump so you know how much you spent. Then, each evening, spend 10 minutes recording where all of the money went.

    Tweak the Budget as Necessary

    For many people sticking to a budget is hard to do. And that is because they tend to overspend on one area of their budget. You are spending a certain amount each month, but many people need to tweak their budget to get things like savings boosted up, and cut back in other places.

    One of the easiest ways to save is to negotiate certain expenses. For instance, call your internet provider and tell them you aren’t happy with the service and you will likely switch. Tell them if you can have the introductory price for the next 12 months you will stick around. This will save you about 30% off your internet service.

    Earn More on the Side

    If your budget is all out of whack, you have cut back as far as you can, and you still seem to be spending more than you earn, the only other option is to earn more money. That can be done easily by picking up a side job, or starting your own side hustle: you may remember reading about a side business.

    Practical Taxes

    When your side hustle takes off it could replace the income from your regular job. When that happens, come see us at At Practical Taxes. We are a full service accounting firm in Billings, MT; we offer payroll services, business consultation, tax preparation, and a host of other services to make your life easier. Call us to learn more 406-894-2050.

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    5 Insights from Successful Entrepreneurs

    Success-300x225If you want your startup, or your existing business, to take off, your best bet is to read up and learn from those who have come before you. There is a wealth of knowledge out there from some of the smartest business men and women around the world. You can buy their books if you want, but the majority of that knowledge can be found online for free. To get you started, your accountant in Billings, MT shares 5 inspiring insights from some of the best entrepreneurs around.

     

     

     

    Always be Selling – Mark Cuban cannot emphasize this enough. In his book How to Win at the Sport of Business Cuban states “In business you’re always selling…” The idea is that you can’t just sit back and hope for the best. You have to sell your employees on the idea so they can sell the clients and customers. No matter what you think, you’re the brand ambassador and you have to make it happen.

    Failure is an Option – Most understand that failure is not something to be strived for. We have been taught to avoid it at all costs. But what we haven’t been taught is to learn from our failures. Bill Gates explains that celebrating success is great, but “it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Every great inventor, business person, athlete, or other prominent and influential person has failed repeatedly. The difference is that they learn from those failures.

    The Sky’s the Limit – I’m sure we have all heard this adage before; or the similar “shoot for the moon because if you miss at least you’ll land among the stars.” They’re catchy but don’t really mean much. Oprah Winfrey expounds when she says, “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it… don’t put a ceiling on yourself.” Goal setting is important; but if we set tiny goals we will be satisfied with tiny results. Aim bigger from the start and you’d be surprised what you can accomplish.

    I’m not Smart – The most important thing an entrepreneur can realize is that they don’t have all of the answers. Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records, knows this and stated, “I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have.” From payroll services, to legal work, to website work, you shouldn’t do it all because there is no reason to be an expert in every area. Focus on what you know best, and outsource the rest.

    Start Small – Many big name companies that you know started out in a garage, a basement, or somewhere else inconspicuous. The reason is that “you don’t need to have a 100-person company to develop that idea.”   Don’t take my word for it; take it from the founder of Google, one of the world’s leading tech companies. Take your idea, develop it, and add employees and resources as needed.

    Building your business should be an adventure and a journey. There will be bumps along the way; there will be victories and setbacks. You will see your dreams grow and see them crushed, only to rebuild them slightly different. Take it from those who came before you, those who are likely far smarter than you, to show the way.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can do monthly accounting, payroll services, tax preparation, business consultation, and a whole lot more. This helps free you up to grow your business, focus on your business, and do what you do best. Call us today at 406-894-2050 to learn more about how we can help you grow.

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    Make the Most of Your Time and Hire out Your Payroll Services

    Paycheck-300x224As a business owner you have a lot on your plate. You have to keep track of your business, make sure you are growing, make sure your customers are happy, manage a schedule for your employees, and a whole host of other tasks. If you are running your business properly, you know that you barely have time to sleep, and any little help that you can get with your company is valued highly. So why are you still trying to take care of your own payroll? Your accountant in Billings, MT handles payroll services so you don’t have to.

     

     

     

    What is Included in Payroll Services

    You would be hard pressed to find any business owners across the country that say they enjoy doing payroll. With the exception of those who specialize in that service of course. Instead, you will likely find just the opposite. Those that you contact will say one of their most dreaded tasks is sitting down to write paychecks every two weeks.

    Instead of using your valuable time, and risking the fact that you could get something wrong and you would be in a heap of trouble, hire that service out. All you have to do is provide a way for your employees to keep track of their hours, and then you send them in to us. We provide everything as far as payroll services go, including keeping track of your employees, distributing paychecks, providing analytics on how much of your money is going out the door (and where it is going), and much more.

    Every pay period, your employees turn in their hours worked. You get those hours to us (in any method that you want; it can be a text, mail a piece of paper, or even an email with the hours typed in), and we do the rest of the work. You don’t have to worry about anything other than making sure the funds are in the bank account to pay your employees. That’s all there is to payroll services (aside from the initial appointment that sets everything up of course).

    Why You Need Payroll Services

    Let’s suppose you run a business, and your goal is to make $100,000 (personally, not the company) each year. That means you have to be working for at least $50 per hour in everything that you do; anything less and you are drastically cutting into your take-home pay goals.

    Let’s suppose that doing your payroll for your employees takes you 4 hours per month. That means payroll costs you $200 per month to complete (money that you are not making because you’re stuck doing payroll). If it costs even $195 to have someone else do your payroll, it is completely worthwhile.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We love to help businesses succeed by taking over their payroll services and freeing up their time. If you spoke with any of our clients they would tell you that it is a huge burden off their backs. The best part: we are affordable. Give us a call at 406-894-2050 to schedule your appointment to talk about payroll services. You will be surprised at how affordable we are, and how much more time you will have to work on your business.

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    Services that Every Business Should Outsource

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    Every business owner has a set of expertise. They know their business and everything that goes into it. Unfortunately what goes along with owning a business is the fact that you have to not only be an expert on your product or service, but you have to be an expert manager, owner, accountant, human resources, and a whole host of other job titles. At least that is how many people view running a business. In reality, there is no need to try to do everything yourself. In fact, with the internet available, you can outsource nearly every service imaginable: you can get online payroll services, online human resources, online bookkeeper, and many more. Read on to learn how your accountant in Billings, Montana suggests outsourcing the different aspects of your business.

    Services to Outsource

    Payroll Services – Payroll services is a huge aspect of a small business owner. You can’t afford to have an in-house accountant that is double checking everything and cutting the checks. So instead, you should outsource it. Why put aside your business in order to play accountant every two weeks? With the internet available, you can get online payroll services from Billings, even if you live in Atlanta, Georgia. The best thing is, you pay the low rates we charge here in Montana.

    IT and Computers – Most people are “ok” with computers. But if something gets a bug, or if you need some special networking software installed and configured, your best bet is to hire someone to do that for you. Unless your computer is totally out of whack, you can get almost all of these services done online. A specialized program will allow the IT worker to access your computer remotely.

    Appointment Keeping and Setting – A virtual assistant is a no-brainer for the busy business owner. For just a few dollars per hour you can hire someone from overseas to do all of the busy work that you hate doing. For a little bit more you can hire someone in the states to help you set appointments, make reminder calls, and much more.

    Data Entry – Just as the virtual assistant can help you make calls and keep your calendar, they can do those other time consuming tasks that you don’t have time for. Need someone to compile an email newsletter list? How about a direct mail list? What about just entering numbers for the sales of units? Virtual assistants do all of that.

    Written Content – Writing isn’t a strong point for the vast majority of people. They have great ideas, but they simply cannot craft them to a well written document with a strong call-to-action at the end. It may be tempting to hire someone from overseas to write your web content at $1 per page, but if you want something well written, go with a writer in Billings, Montana.

    Marketing – Most people are terrible marketers. They know they have a great product, and they know people need their product. But how do they make the public aware of what they have to offer? Marketing is part art, part skill, and part logistics. Unless you’re a trained marketing expert, hire someone to do this.

    Anything That Doesn’t Earn You Money – Suppose you want to earn $100,000 per year in your business. That means you have to make roughly $50 per hour. If you can hire someone to do the same job for less than $50 per hour (which you can with almost everything), then it is better to hire it out.

    Here at Practical Taxes we offer all accounting services. If you need online payroll services, bookkeeping, and more then we can get you a great deal. Schedule your appointment to learn how we can help your business grow by calling 406-894-2050

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    The Benefits of Using Online Payroll Services

    Payroll-services-300x221As a business owner, you have a lot on your mind. As a small business owner, you have even more on your mind. You have to worry about hiring and firing, setting schedules, marketing, bookkeeping, keeping track of inventory, and much more. To top it all off, you have to become a tax professional in order to make sure that your employees are paid on time and the proper amount is withheld from their paychecks. Instead of spending your valuable time on payroll services, let your accountant in Billings, Montana do that for you. But don’t let our location stop you: with online payroll services, we can manage your employee’s paychecks no matter what state you live in.

     

    What Are Payroll Services?

    Every pay period you have to write some checks. You have to sit down and determine how many hours your employee had, and then calculate out their withholdings based on what they indicated on their W-2. Then you have to submit the right amount to the IRS, and the right amount to your employee. If you are a little late, then your employee gets mad (and you can likely face some stiff penalties from the IRS). If you make a mistake, it is your reputation and company on the line.

    Instead of taking all of that risk upon yourself, and instead of wasting your precious time, let A+ Accounting & Consulting do your payroll for you. Our payroll services are fast, accurate, and always at least double checked.

    All you have to do is make sure that your employees have recorded their hours, and then you send them in to us. You can walk down and hand deliver a piece of paper that lists out their hours if you would like. The best thing is that we are affordable, prompt, and professional.

    How do Online Payroll Services Differ?

    With the internet helping to facilitate our lives, there is no need for physical time card or even fax machines any longer. That means you don’t even have to live in the same state as the accountant that is preparing your taxes. Instead, you can snap a picture of the hours with your cell phone and text or email the picture over to us. You could type it up in an email, or you could scan and email the hours. It doesn’t matter how you send them over, as long as we can get them, we can deposit the funds into your employee’s bank accounts accurately and on time.

    Online payroll services are similar to payroll services, except it doesn’t matter where you live or where your business takes place. You can use our online payroll services in Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; New York City; or anywhere in between.

    Because we are based in Billings, Montana, we can offer affordable rates that you won’t be able to find in the big city. We don’t have to spend an outrageous amount on rent, and therefore we can pass the savings along to you. So if you are looking for a full service accounting firm that can offer affordable online payroll services (as well as a whole host of other accounting services) then look no further than Practical Taxes.  Call and set an appointment today: 406-894-2050.

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    The Modern Financial Planning Sandwich

    Crowdfunding-300x178Years ago it was understood that you had several generations to care for. You cared for your elderly parents (and often your grandparents). You also had yourself and your spouse to care for; you cared for your children, and often their children as well. That was the culture. Sometime in the early 1900’s that started to change. As pensions became the norm, and most generations were able to look after themselves, it switched away from cross generational care. Instead you looked after yourself and your kids until they were 21, and then they were on their own. That has slowly started to change again. Your accountant in Billings, Montana looks into this generational sandwich.

    What is the Financial Planning Sandwich?

    To understand what we are talking about, we must define the sandwich. Simply speaking, your parents are on the top, your children on the bottom, and you are right in the middle.

    The issue with the sandwich is that common thinking and saving practices that were acceptable for your parents no longer apply. They find that their planning has fallen short due to high costs of living, expensive medical bills, inflation, and pensions that just don’t keep up.

    The other issue with the sandwich is that your children are burdened with the high costs of school. It is no longer an option to send them off to college, and when they are done they have a good job that will provide for their living expenses. Instead, college costs have risen so enormously high that they have to move home for a few years in order to pay down their debt.

    How Financial Planning has Changed

    In order to better take care of our sandwich, we need to make sure that all aspects are handled. This may mean some tough conversations with your loved ones.

    For instance, you should speak with your parents to make sure everything is in order as they approach the end of their life. Make sure they have their will up-to-date. Make sure they have an executor in order. Make sure that everything is lined up for probate if necessary. Make sure they have accounted for long term care needs. And make sure that they have accounted for a life that may last well into their 90’s or even longer.

    Most of the time, your parents won’t want to have these discussions with you. They are still under the mindset that it’s nobody’s business.

    Likewise, your kids will need an extra boost as well. Encourage them to apply for scholarships, there are millions of dollars available (many from external sources). Have them look at this like a job: a $1,000 should have an investment of 10+ hours. When they are still very young, purchase insurance for them. They will need life insurance their entire life, buying it while young makes it cheap and negates the risk that they have become unhealthy. If you have the means, start saving for retirement for them. Or at least help them along the way.

    Understanding the Financial Planning Sandwich

    The good news about the financial planning sandwich is that modern training for accountants, financial planners, and others on your team of advisors incorporates the sandwich planning. They all know about the stress that extended family puts on you, and they all can incorporate that into their plan with you. As your accountant in Billings, Montana, I can help you work through the tax issues of having a child move back in after college, or paying to care for an elderly parent.

    Practical Taxes is your source for any accounting needs. We are a full service firm in Billings, Montana, and we can help with everything from tax preparation, to online payroll services, to getting your next business venture set up and off the ground.

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    Can You Write off Money You Lost in a Scam?

    Scam-300x225Wherever there is money, there are those who are looking to scam you out of that money. From telemarketing scams, to phishing scams, to everything in between, we always have to be aware of those who don’t have our best interest in mind.

    While there is plenty of education out there, some people still get swindled. And with good reason: scammers are constantly making their pitch and their game better. So what happens if you get taken advantage of? Assuming you go through the proper methods and you can’t recover your lost cash, can you write off the losses on your taxes? Your accountant in Billings, Montana explains how it works.

     

    Can I Write Off Lost Money?

    The short answer is: yes. But there is a little more to it that just writing off the loss as a whole; there are some complicated calculations that go into it. Here’s the formula:

    Fair Market Value minus Decreased in Market Value (or $100) minus 10% of your Income.

    So how does that look? Let’s suppose you have an adjusted gross income of $50,000. You are swindled out of $10,000. Since the decrease in market value is 100% you use the $100 value. Therefore $10,000 – $100 – $5,000 = $4,900. You can write off $4,900 of your lost money.

    Let’s look at this another way. Suppose you have a $10,000 item sitting in your driveway. The neighborhood kids come by and smash it all up leaving it with a scrap value of $2,000. Your insurance declines to cover it for whatever reason, so now you’re sitting on a loss. Fair Market Value ($10,000) – Decreased Market Value ($2,000) – 10% of your income ($5,000) leaves you with an amount of $3,000 that you can write off.

    Now to take it a step further, in case you are audited you need to make sure that you have reported the theft or loss to the police. Without a police report, you have no proof that a loss actually occurred.

    Have Your Accountant in Billings, Montana Figure it Out

    Sound complicated? It is. The IRS likes to make things complicated to reduce fraud. Too many people would be claiming all sorts of losses if it were easier; such as “I dropped $5 while buying ice cream the other day.” You can read up on Topic 515 on the IRS website.

    Instead of trying to figure it all out, just bring that information in with the rest of your taxes. As your accountant in Billings, Montana prepares your tax return, he can determine what, if any, of your loss can be written off your tax return.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. If you have already filed your tax return this year, that’s great! We offer so much more than just tax preparation including a whole lineup of business services like payroll and consulting. Call us today at 406-894-2050. to learn more.

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    The Perils of Credit Card Debt

    Finances-300x225Credit cards can be a boon or a curse. On the one hand they are convenient and easy to use; they also provide us with reward points and airline miles that can be redeemed for goods and travel. On the other hand, however, a credit card can be a dangerous thing if you don’t use it properly. The interest rates are sky high, often over 25%, and if you don’t take care you can find yourself in a heap of debt. What does that actually look like? Your accountant in Billings, Montana does the math to show you why you want to avoid paying interest on your credit card.

     

     

    First, Let’s Rack Up Credit Card Debt

    You don’t have to have the cash now to pay for your goods. Instead, just put it on the credit card. Let’s suppose that we have a brand new card with a $5,000 limit. The APR is 19.99%; we will call it 20%.

    With your shiny new card you decide to hit the mall and redo your wardrobe. $1,200 later you have all new clothes. Afterward, you head out on the town with your friends to show off that new wardrobe. Again the card comes out, and before you know it, you have spent $500 on drinks and food. The next day you decide that you need some car accessories, new furniture, and again treat everyone to eating out. Before you know it, you have maxed out your new card, and back to cash you go.

    When the bill arrives, you see that you only need to pay $150 each month. Not a bad deal and you write a check.

    Calculating the Payments

    Credit cards have minimum payments that are generally 3% of the balance, or $25; whichever is more. As time goes on your $150 payment keeps dropping, so you keep reducing how much your wardrobe, furniture, and other goodies are costing.

    How long do you suppose it will take to pay off that credit card when you pay just the minimums?

    The answer is 15 years, 3 months. Long after the clothes fall apart, the furniture is stained and possibly broken, and you can’t even remember the food you ordered, you are still paying on your card.

    How much do you suppose you paid back over the years?

    Your $5,000 spending spree will cost you, after all of the interest is paid, $10,602. You end up paying more in interest charges than you did on the goods in the first place. Calculate your payments on CreditCards.com.

    What happens to many people is that they decide to get another credit card. They then max that one out as well. With promotional rates, such as 0% interest for 12 months, they feel they can easily make the minimums and not have to worry about the interest. But after 12 months, when all of that interest is suddenly tacked onto the card, they are struggling to make even the minimum payments.

    A Financially Healthier Alternative

    Your accountant in Billings, Montana offers this as an alternative. If you want to have a credit card, you should only charge the necessities, the things you are paying for anyway. This means food, gas, insurance premiums if possible, utilities, and the like. Everything else, you pay in cash. This will keep your credit card bill to a minimum, and you can pay it off at the end of every month. Never carry a balance, never pay interest charges.

    If you do have credit card debt, use your tax refund this year to knock it down and save yourself thousands of dollars over the next several years.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. If you need an accountant for payroll services, tax preparation, or business consulting, we can meet your needs! Give us a call at 406-894-2050 to find out what we can do for you!

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    Moving Money out of Your Estate with an ILIT

    china lock horizontalThe estate tax, referred to many as the death tax, can be a burden for those who reach a certain net worth. While many see it as a good problem to have, others just find it cumbersome to deal with. Fortunately there are some estate planning tactics that you can use to minimize the impact that estate taxes will have on your legacy. Your accountant in Billings, Montana explains how an irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or an ILIT, helps.

     

     

     

    What is an ILIT?

    Essentially the ILIT works to remove money from your estate in order to reduce its overall value. Because the ILIT would own the life insurance (almost always a second-to-die policy) on you and your spouse, the value of that insurance will no longer be included in your estate (or taxable when both of you should pass). Here is how that looks:

    You and your spouse have a net worth of $10 million, $2 million is an insurance policy. There is a $5.43 million exemption for 2015, so anything over that amount is taxed at a rate of 40%. What this means is that if you and your spouse both died in 2015, your estate would have to come up with $1,828,000 within 9 months.

    However, if you had the ILIT own that $2 million insurance policy, your estate would be considerably smaller. If you both died in 2015, your estate would be valued at just $8 million and the taxes due would total $1,028,000. Keeping your life insurance in an ILIT saves you $800,000.

    Who Pays for the ILIT?

    There are ways to even get around the taxes that pay the premiums on your insurance. Since the ILIT does not have an income or cash of its own, you have to pay the insurance premiums. Because you are giving away the insurance premiums, they are subject to gift taxes.

    In 2015 you can give up to $14,000 to any individual or entity, and claim that on your gift tax exemption. If your insurance premiums are higher than that amount, you can set it up where you pay up to $14,000 and your spouse pays up to $14,000 as well. If you still need a higher exemption, you can dip into your $5 million lifetime exemption.

    Estate taxes are one of those problems that many people would love to have. It means that you are successful, you have worked hard, and you planned well throughout your life. But without making sure that you have a plan to take care of those estate taxes, your heirs may be in trouble.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you determine your estate taxes, reduce your annual gift taxes, and conduct other strategic tax consultations. Call us at 406-894-2050 to learn more.

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    3 Reasons You Should Use Payroll Services

    Large bills fanned out and held in hand

    Large bills fanned out and held in hand

    If you are a business owner, you have a lot on your mind. You have to make sure that your business is up and running. You have to make sure that you are getting bills paid, inventory ordered, invoices sent, all while overseeing everything else that occurs on a day-to-day basis. Trying to do your own payroll in an attempt to save money is just one more thing on your plate; something that is very easily delegated to someone else. If you are trying to do your own payroll, read these three key points on why it would behoove you to hire an accountant in Billings, Montana to take care of that for you.

     

     

     

     

    You Are Able to Stay Compliant with Payroll Services

    The IRS has a lot of deadlines, forms, and other compliance issues that need to be taken into account. If you are trying to do payroll on your own, without the help of a payroll service in Billings, Montana, then you are trying to learn an entirely new business. Why would you spend the time to learn another business, all while trying to keep your own business up and running?

    We go through continuing education all year long. We understand payroll services, and we know what needs to be done to stay compliant with the IRS. You have one less thing to worry about when hiring out your payroll services.

    You Actually Save Money with Payroll Services

    The average small business owner spends about 10 hours each month doing their payroll. That is sitting down and calculating out hours, figuring in taxes and withholdings, and writing checks. If you value your time at $50 per hour (as a business owner you should be valuing it at least that much, and likely double that), then you are spending over $500 every month just to write checks to your employees.

    If you hire an accountant to do your payroll services, you save 10 hours and a lot of stress. Instead of doing payroll, you can now grow your business and make sure everything else is running properly.

    Your Employees are Happier with Payroll Services

    With a professional payroll service company helping with your payroll, your employees don’t have to worry about late paychecks, inaccurate paychecks, or anything of the sort. They know that they can send in their hours, and on payday they will have a check in their hands.

    Even more, you can add some perks to help retain employees. When trying to do payroll yourself, retirement plans like a SIMPLE IRA were out of the question. Now that tax reporting and payroll is easier, you can offer those perks.

    Using a payroll service in Billings, Montana doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, if you are spending a lot of money to cut paychecks to your employees, then you are doing it wrong. Payroll services should not be expensive; here at Practical Taxes they are not. Call us today at 406-894-2050 to find out more about how we can help you.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We do payroll services (including online payroll services for those who don’t live close by), tax preparation, business consulting, and much more.

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    How You Can Save Money with Online Payroll Services

    Paycheck-300x224If you are a business owner, you know the hassle of dealing with employees. You know that you have to worry about hours, worry about people showing up, worry about them doing their job so they’re not costing you a lot of money. And you know about the hassle of doing payroll. This is probably why you hire out your payroll services.

    The problem with hiring many payroll services is that the cost is extremely high. This means you have to pay your employees, and then you have to pay an accountant to do the payroll. This cuts into your bottom line even further. Instead of paying for high cost payroll services, try using online payroll services through an accountant in Billings, Montana.

     

    What Are Online Payroll Services?

    Payroll services are often done with the help of an accountant. You sit down with your accountant and they charge you for every minute that you are in their office. In the end, you are still left doing a lot of work, just to have someone write your employee’s paychecks.

    However, there is a better way to do payroll. Online payroll services are all done over the internet. It can all be set up through a phone call, and in the end you don’t ever even have to leave your office.

    How Do Online Payroll Services Work?

    After you set up the payroll services we are accountants in Billings, Montana, all you have to do is have your employees send in their hours. If they fill out timesheets, you can scan and email them, snap a picture and text them, or any way that you choose, you get the hours to us.

    That’s all there is to it. Paychecks will be cut, taxes will be done, and all you are liable for is the low cost service provided by an accountant in Billings, Montana.

    How much do Online Payroll Services Cost?

    The cost will vary greatly depending on how many employees you have, how much money is flowing through your company, and a variety of other factors. However, we can offer this: using an accountant in Billings, Montana will almost certainly cost less than using a higher profile accountant in a big city. So if you are in Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; or any other city across the country, you can utilize online payroll services and help reduce your costs immensely.

    Practical Taxes Does Online Payroll Services

    As a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana, Practical Taxes does online payroll services. During tax season, such as right now, we are focusing on getting as many low cost tax returns done as possible. But that does not mean we can’t help you set up your online payroll services. If you are interested in learning more, or interested in getting things for your payroll setup, give us a call at 406-894-2050.

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    Estimate How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

    mortgage_rate-300x284Interest rates are currently still very low, and that means a lot of people are trying to hurry and buy a house to keep the payments down. If that is your main motivation behind buying a house, you may want to reconsider the decision. But if you have been kicking around the idea already, then now might be a good time to dive a little deeper. Understanding how much house you can afford is the first step to making sure that you don’t get in over your head.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Use a Mortgage Calculator

    Mortgage calculators are great for helping determine what the payments will be on your new home. All you have to do is plug in the cost of the house, the current interest rates, and the length of the loan, and you can get your monthly payments. Keep in mind that mortgage interest is tax deductible, so if you have a loan with 4% interest, it’s actually going to be closer to 3% after you write the amount off on your taxes.

    Taxes and Insurance

    Just figuring out the principal and interest payment is not enough. There are also taxes and insurance that will be owed each month. These are very easy to estimate, and if you live in Yellowstone County you can just hop onto the county’s website to find out the current taxes on the property. Insurance is as easy as calling up an insurance agent to get a quote.

    Utilities and Maintenance

    But principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) is not all you will have to pay for. There will also be ongoing utility fees (you can get an estimate of these from the current owner), and then those pesky maintenance fees. Keep in mind that you will likely want to keep a bit of a slush fund handy in case the water heater goes out, or you need major servicing on the dishwasher.

    Determining how much of a house you can afford isn’t too hard to do. But keep in mind that the costs add up rather quickly, and just basing your estimate on the monthly repayment of the loan could leave you barely scraping by every month after all of the other bills are paid. But there is a way that you can afford the size and style of house you want.

    As long as interest rates stay low, the way to afford your house is to simply mortgage less of the cost. Since you can’t negotiate the price as low as you probably would like, you must pay a larger down payment to get the financed portion down as low as possible.

    Of course, to pay a larger down payment, you need more cash on hand. That can be accomplished in a few different ways. First, you could earn more money on the side; something that thousands of people across the country do. Or you could apply more of your tax refund to your down payment. Tax season is upon us, and after working with an accountant in Billings, Montana, you should be able to save that money toward your house.

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We have the expertise and the knowledge to get your taxes done quickly, and get you the largest refund possible. Throughout the year we provide business consulting services, nationwide online payroll services, and anything else accounting related that you could need.

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    The Curse of the Lottery Winner

    Lottery-Ticket-300x198People dream of winning the lottery. They make big plans on what they would do if they were to win millions of dollars, and they talk about how many people they would help. Of course they complain that the government would take approximately half of their winnings in the form of taxes, but overall they would still be happy with the huge surplus of money that they are left with. So how is it that about 70% of those who win the lottery will go bankrupt?

     

     

    The Curse of the Lottery Winner

    Unfortunately a sudden influx of money does nothing to help improve financial sense. So when people suddenly win millions upon millions of dollars, they simply stick with their same foolish spending habits. Only now those habits are at a much larger scale.

    Winning the lottery could help someone out tremendously. And the economic impacts of the lottery can’t be argued with. After all, those who win the lottery spend a considerable amount of it right away. They buy new houses, new cars, give to charities and family members, they pick up the tab at a restaurant… for every customer there. Lottery winners seldom have a problem finding ways to spend their money.

    However, without a set plan on how to spend the money, most will make foolish money mistakes that ultimately reduce them right back to where they were before they won their millions of dollars. If you don’t believe me that winning the lottery brings some unnecessary hardship, check out these 10 people that couldn’t handle their winnings.

    Make a Plan before You Win

    There is really no financially sound reason that you should even try to win the lottery in the first place. In fact, the odds of winning are astronomically high. But you can take this advice and apply it to other financial windfalls like receiving an inheritance, getting a large tax refund, or maybe even an unexpected bonus at work.

    Before any money actually comes in, make a sound plan to use it appropriately. For instance, you might want to pay off all of your debt, buy a new car, give a little to your family members, and take a vacation. Depending on your situation, that should only take up a few hundred thousand of your winnings. After that, invest the rest in a trust, preferably an irrevocable trust that has detailed information about who can take money out and how much they can access.

    Without a plan, we as humans are likely to overspend. Whether it is on ourselves, giving to charities, or all around just wasteful use of money, the lottery winnings will disappear quickly.

    If You’re Lucky

    If you have been lucky enough to win the lottery, you will want to enlist the help of an accountant in Billings, Montana. With the help of Practical Taxes, you can be sure that your money will be put to the best use, and your taxes will be minimized. Have you seen a sudden influx of money? Did that money disappear a lot faster than you care to admit?

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. While tax preparation is a huge part of our business, we also love to help with payroll services. One specialty is online payroll services; no matter what part of the country you live in, we can get your payroll done.

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    Increase Your Income by Earning More on the Side

    Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

     

    Getting a Second Job

    To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

    The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

    The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

    Working on the Side

    Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

    The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

    The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

    Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

    If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at Practical Taxes, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

    If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

    Practical Taxes knows all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

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    Knowing the Benefits of an Emergency Fund

    Emergency-Fund-300x199As a financially savvy adult, you likely know about emergency funds. But if you are like most Americans, you have yet to really get started saving into your emergency fund. This little slush fund, that comes in extra handy during the leaner months, is a tool that everyone needs to utilize. In fact, even before you make the commitment to start saving in your IRA, you should be saving into your emergency fund. Any accountant in Billings, Montana, or financial planner will tell you that. So what are the benefits of an emergency fund? Here are just a few.

     

     

    Paying Taxes – As much as we hate to do it, we have to pay our taxes. And as much as most people hate to work, the fact is that one job often doesn’t meet our living expenses. So we pick up a side job, or start a little business on the side (in personal finance blogs across the internet you can see this referred to as a side hustle). While it is tempting to just take that money and not report it as income, if you are going to do the right thing you need to report it.

    But adding that to your tax return may suddenly drop you from getting a tax refund, to having to pay in. This can be discouraging for anyone, but it can be even more discouraging if you don’t have a source of funds to dip into to pay those taxes. An emergency fund is designed for this exact occasion.

    Unexpected Expenses – There will come a time when your car breaks down. You will get sick or injured and be hit with an unexpected doctor bill. You are going to foolishly leave the turkey in the oven too long and it will start a fire causing you to fry your oven from the inside out and then you will have to go buy a new oven. These things happen, and while we call them “unexpected” we can fairly well rely on them. They really are not that unexpected after all.

    When you have an emergency fund set up and properly funded, these expected unexpected expenses are no big deal. You have the money, you saved the money for this reason, and it only takes a few clicks of the mouse to transfer the money from your savings into your checking account.

    Opportunities – Many financial professionals won’t call it an emergency fund. Instead, they prefer the term opportunity fund. Because sometimes there are opportunities that come up that you just hate to pass on. But if you don’t have an emergency (opportunity) fund, then you really do have to pass. That can be a great business opportunity, a really sweet deal on a vacation, or your dream car just hit the market. If you want to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that life holds, you need to have an emergency fund.

    The list of benefits of an emergency fund goes on and on, but I think you get the point. Without an emergency fund, you are putting yourself in a position that could be devastating to your financial health. Instead of taking that risk, make the commitment for 2015 to start your emergency fund. Just $25 or $50 per month will go a long way to offsetting some of those little surprises that life can throw at you.

    A financial planner can help you figure out an emergency fund, and an accountant in Billings, Montana can help you make the most of your taxes so you can adequately fund your opportunity fund.

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