Tips To Save For A Great Family Vacation

If you haven’t already begun saving for your spring or summer vacation this year, you have two choices: 1) Declare it’s too late to save and wait until next year, or 2) Make a plan and make it happen! To get started saving right away, follow these three tips that will move you closer to achieving your dream of taking a fun-filled spring or summer vacation.

Form a Budget

If you’ve already decided where you’d like to go on vacation, when you will go, and for how long, establishing a budget is easy. You can go about forming your budget in two ways: First, research via the internet to find the best flight fares, hotel packages, transportation, restaurants, and other expenses. Then plug those numbers into a vacation budget planning form that will help organize and calculate your expenses. Second, form a budget by outlining your vacation destination, travel dates and the estimated amount you’ll have to spend. Then, have a travel agent find you the best deals based on the vacation packages they have available.

Look for Ways to Save

We’re all familiar with the traditional ways of saving money, such as having a change jar or piggy bank or opening a savings account with a local bank. Those ideas still work and may be useful in helping you save for your vacation. But in today’s world, there are even better means of helping you reach your savings goal. First, among the modern savings tools, you can use to help you are the many smartphone apps that automatically transfer a set dollar amount – at pre-determined times – from your checking account into an account for your vacation. Apps such as Mint, Digit or Qapital may be useful. In addition to saving money from your paycheck each month, you can create sources of additional income by selling household items and collectibles online on sites such as eBay, Etsy or Amazon.

Make Your Goal Tangible

While your spring or summer vacation may only seem like a dream until you actually leave for the trip, there are things you can do to make it tangible and real now! Print off some color pictures of your vacation destination and hang them up where you’ll see them daily. Additionally, you may consider purchasing a few small items that you will need for your trip, such as suntan lotion, sandals or a bathing suit. Put these items out where you’ll see them regularly to remind you of why you’re saving. How will these ideas help you save? By having visible images and tangible items related to your vacation in plain view, you will stay focused and motivated to achieve your vacation savings goal.

The professional accountants at Donohoo Accounting Services have even more ways to help you save. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation or call 513-528-3982.

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Three Ways to Avoid Wage Garnishment

While paying your bills on time may give you a feeling of accomplishment and pride, getting behind can have an opposite, devastating effect. When past-due bills are turned over to collection agencies – and their calls and letters go unanswered – the creditor may have no choice but to sue for payment. However, before you find yourself in that situation, be sure to understand what garnishment is and be familiar with the steps you can take to keep it from happening to you.

What Is Garnishment?

In order to collect payment of a debt that has gone unpaid and perhaps ignored for an extended period of time, a creditor may file a lawsuit to collect payment directly from your employer. That’s the meaning of garnishment. It is a legal means of collecting payment on a debt by taking payments out of your paycheck, including bonuses and retirement income. Garnishing a debtor’s wages is usually the last tactic a creditor will resort to after all other methods have failed.

Ways to Avoid Garnishment

Before debt collection gets to the stage of garnishment, there are three basic steps you can take to avoid the process:

Stay current on your debt payments If you have difficulty keeping track of your various payment due dates, add them to your smartphone’s or computer’s calendar. Include a reminder notice in each calendar post to alert you to make your payment on or before the due date. Or, remind yourself to stay current by writing a budget. List all your payments and when they’re due. Then, check off each one as you pay.

Respond quickly to creditor communicationsSoon after a payment is missed and becomes past due, the creditor will follow up with you by phone, email, mail or perhaps even via text message. Usually, creditors are friendly and helpful when a single payment becomes past due. Also, some won’t report one past due payment to credit bureaus if it’s less than 60 days past due. As soon as you become aware of a missed payment, communicate with the creditor – don’t ignore or avoid their attempts to talk with you. Communicating lets them know you intend to make up the payment, get the account current and avoid the possibility of garnishment.

Work out a payment planWhen your account becomes past due by 60 days or more, the credit bureaus receive notice and you sink ever-closer to the risk of having your paycheck garnished. However, when your past-due balance becomes significantly past due or the dollar amount is beyond your ability to pay, that’s when a payment plan is necessary. Again, communication is key. Contact your creditor and ask to arrange a payment plan. Making a payment arrangement is mutually beneficial because you both would prefer to avoid the hassle of garnishment.

Are you facing financial difficulties including the threat of garnishment? The accounting professionals at Donohoo Accounting Services can help get your finances in check. Call 513-528-3982 or email us today.

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Four Smart Tips for Building Retirement Savings

Tips for Building Retirement Savings

Saving for retirement is one of those topics many people shy away from. Do any of these reasons/excuses sound familiar? “It seems so far away … It’s overwhelming to think about … I don’t make enough money to save … I’m too young … I’m too old.”

Despite the length of your countdown to retirement, there is always time to add to your savings. After all, more is better, right? To capitalize on the time you have left before retiring, consider these four tips to enlarge your nest egg, decrease some of your worries about retirement income and perhaps even improve the quality of your life during retirement.

Set a Goal

Like any other life event that requires saving money, you need to know how much you’ll need. In other words, establish a goal. Investment advisors, friends, relatives, and even some websites will offer their advice on setting your retirement savings goal. However, only you know what kind of lifestyle you would like to maintain in retirement. And living a particular lifestyle requires an individualized budget. For example, those who wish to travel in retirement will require more savings compared to those who plan to grow backyard gardens and spend time with grandchildren. Whatever you choose, begin with the end in mind and set a realistic goal based on your individual retirement needs.

Start Saving Soon

The earlier you can begin saving, the better off you’ll be now and when it’s time to retire. The reason is that by starting early (age 18 -22), you can save a smaller amount of money each month over a longer period of time as compared to someone starting later (say, in their 40s) who has fewer years before retiring. There are plenty of examples of people beginning their retirement savings as early as age 14 while working their first job. To keep the savings hill from becoming too steep, begin as early as possible – today if possible!

Find the Money

For those wondering where to find the money to save for retirement, look around you! If you currently work for a large or mid-sized company and you’re not already participating in your employer’s 401k or other retirement savings plan, sign up right away. Many employers offer matching contributions, which is free retirement money. Additionally, consider automatically depositing 10 percent of your pay – or even better, 15 percent – each payday to a retirement savings account. Other sources for filling your retirement coffers include your annual tax refunds and money earned from a second job. Some companies now offer part-time employees ways to save for retirement including IRAs, money market accounts and stock purchase plans. So, consider a second job to build up your retirement savings.

Just Do It

With a goal, timeline and funding sources lined up, you can begin paving the way to retirement with more savings than you had at the start. Nevertheless, remember that wise counsel from experienced professionals can help uncover possible bumps in your road to retirement. If you could use some assistance mapping out your retirement savings plan, an excellent resource is an experienced accountant like those at Donohoo Accounting. Schedule your retirement savings consultation with Donohoo by calling 513-528-3982 or email us today.

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Four Tips To Save For College

Depending on grades a great score on the ACT or SAT, your future college student could have a big scholarship in his or her future. If you – and your student – haven’t been saving for college, how can you save as much as possible before the first tuition bill arrives? Whether you have a short amount of time or a decade, these four tips will give you a start on how to save for college.

Start with a goal

A college savings goal consists not only of a dollar amount but also includes a date or deadline. The most common way to compute a college savings goal is to divide the total dollar amount needed by the number of years you have to save. Another popular goal-setting method is to multiply the student’s age by $2,000. This will give you roughly the amount you should have in savings to cover 50 percent of the student’s college expenses.

Use the 10 percent rule

Could you live on 90 percent of your household income for a period of time? Probably so. Most people could, simply by looking for ways to reduce their spending. While you budget to live on 90 percent of your take-home pay, the other 10 percent goes into an educational savings account (ESA), 529 college savings account or even an interest-bearing savings account (or some combination of these). Depending on your total household income, 10 percent a year could add up to quite a bit between now and the start of college.

Save income from part-time or summer jobs

Even better than the 10 percent rule is the 100 percent rule – but only make it apply to income earned from part-time or summer jobs that your student works. A student earning $8 an hour working year-round in a part-time job can earn up to $8,000 during a single year. That’s a sizeable contribution toward college expenses! Parents can double that amount by offering to match dollar-for-dollar the amount their student saves each year.

Sell unused and unwanted items

Collectibles, antiques and even used appliances have the potential to bring in a handsome sum when sold online or in yard sales. Put your family and relatives to work scouring their attics, basements, and garages for anything of value that can be sold to add to your college savings account. The more unused or unwanted items you can sell – even for small dollar amounts – will eventually add up to help meet college expenses.

Need help developing your college savings plan? Donohoo Accounting can get you started. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation or call 513-528-3982.

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