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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Tips For Budgeting For The Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching and so are the bills associated with them.  Donohoo Accounting has a few tips for budgeting for the holidays.  We are going to start by making a list and then checking it twice, review your receipts from last year to judge spending habits, and shop for bargains once you have an idea of what you must buy and for who you are shopping for.  Should I pay cash or use credit?  Using our tips for budgeting for the holidays will help you decide.

Make a list and check it twice.

A list will help you budget!
A list will help you budget!

Professionals agree that it helps to write down a list of all the people for who you plan to shop before you venture to the stores or turn the computer on. Next, to each person’s name write down your gift idea for that person, and how much you can spend. By doing this you will have a clear idea of your total dollar amount needed to buy the gifts for your family and others.

Review your receipts and bills from last year.  

Don't forget to save your receipts!
Don’t forget to save your receipts!

Reviewing receipts will help give you an idea of the dollar amount you spent last year on the holidays and if you used a credit card how long it took you to pay them off.    Make sure to save your holiday receipts from this year if you do not have the ones from the previous year to watch spending for next year.  The holiday costs add up quickly and being able to see the totals will

Save your holiday receipts from this year and either total them daily or add them up two weeks before the actual holiday.  Expenses add up fast during this busy season.  Seeing your totals will surprise you with a reality check as to how much more you spent this past year on the holidays.

Using credit during the holidays?

Don't go overboard with your credit cards!
Don’t go overboard with your credit cards!

Think twice before you use your credit card this holiday.  If you do decide to use them take only the ones with the lowest interest rates or bonus offers.  After using the credit cards be sure to check for unauthorized charges.  If you do find charges not made by you report these changes to your credit card company immediately.

TIP: Before you go shopping label envelopes with everyone’s name on them and put the appropriate amount of cash into each envelope.  This will help you not to overspend.

Shopping for bargains.

Shopping for bargains can be done earlier than later.  Once you have decided what to buy each person on your list start watching online advertisements and ads.  Shopping from the same retailer can save you money on shipping costs. 

You may have been a last-minute holiday shopper last year, but planning now can help you have a happier, stress-free holiday season this year. If you follow some of these simple tips, you should have a successful and financial stress-free holiday season! Looking for more ways to save money than call Duane Donohoo at 513-528-3982 or visit our website at Donohoo Accounting Services.

 

 

Black Friday Deals and Steals

Black Friday is fast approaching, and this means huge sales at retailers everywhere.  Black Friday has been hyped as one of the best times of the year for buying anything from travel to electronics.  Don’t be surprised if not everything is a great deal, so we have prepared a what to buy on black Friday guide for you.

 

Black Friday is fast approaching, and this means huge sales at retailers everywhere.
Black Friday is fast approaching, and this means huge sales at retailers everywhere.

 

Buy: Electronic Products

Traditionally, major retail stores such as electronic stores, or stores that sell general merchandise but have an electronic department will discount Apple products and other major electronic names each year on Black Friday. These offers can include gifts with purchase, or free gift cards or a combination of both.

 

Traditionally, major retail stores such as electronic stores, or stores that sell general merchandise but have an electronic department will discount Apple products and other major electronic names each year on Black Friday.
Traditionally, major retail stores such as electronic stores, or stores that sell general merchandise but have an electronic department will discount Apple products and other major electronic names each year on Black Friday.

 

Skip: Barbie and G.I. Joe

Toys are one of the seasonal purchases you can’t avoid especially with kids and grandkids, but you might want to think twice before checking them off your list on Black Friday. Waiting until closer to the holidays is the best chance for better deals on the purchase of dolls, action figures and play sets. If you have a choice on the toys, then you can wait but you do run the risk of the hottest toys selling out.

Watch for sales as you get closer to the holidays.  Some retailer will offer 50% off some toys just to move them.

Buy: Gaming System Bundles

Gamers live for Black Friday specials maybe more than traditional shoppers.  Each year, sores offer big savings on video games and video game systems.   National retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and GameStop run huge deals for gamers and is something to be watched. If you are looking for a new system this is the time to watch for great deals on gaming bundles.

Buy: Video games, CDs, DVDs

If you’re in need of some affordable stocking stuffers, look no further than the video game, CD, DVD and Blu-ray department at most major retailers this Black Friday.

 

If you’re in need of some affordable stocking stuffers, look no further than the video game, CD, DVD and Blu-ray department at most major retailers this Black Friday.
If you’re in need of some affordable stocking stuffers, look no further than the video game, CD, DVD and Blu-ray department at most major retailers this Black Friday.

 

Buy: Travel Deals

One advantage of Black Friday deals if you know you want to take a trip and are open to the location so amazing deals can be scored on airfare, tickets and packages. Don’t forget though these deals can also fall on Cyber Monday. Keep an eye out for this as they will be very limited.

Buy: Online Doorbusters

The ultimate combination of convenience and savings will come with the online doorbusters.  These items can make great last minute gifts.  Plenty of big box retailers will be bringing their doorbusters online this Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That’s good news for shoppers. But you must take precautions when shopping on your phone or laptop, such as making sure you’re not on public Wi-Fi. Remember rot keep any receipts for items you are buying to donate.  Donohoo Accounting can help you get the most out of those receipts at tax time.  Contact us today at 513 528 3982!  Happy Black Friday Shopping!

What Qualifies As A Donation On Your Taxes

The IRS defines a charitable contribution as “a donation or gift to, or for the use of, a qualified organization.” You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately. Do you know the tips for handling donations on your taxes?

 

You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately.
You must abide by certain rules to claim charitable donations on your taxes legitimately.

 

Charitable Contributions what Are They?

Donations include property such as vehicles, household items, clothing, land and cash contributions.  You can only deduct the fair market value (FMV) of any property you donate.

How Do You Determine The Fair Market Value?

Fair market value includes donations of noncash property of items like clothes, household items, land and cars additionally stocks may qualify. The FMV comes down to the price the item you are donating and how much it would sell for on the open market.

Do Your Expenses Qualify as a Charitable Tax Deductions?

You can claim a tax deduction for expenses you acquire:

  • To cover a live-in student who is sponsored by a qualified organization.
  • Out of pocket while serving as a volunteer for a qualified organization.

For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.

 

For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.
For questions of what counts as a deductible charitable contribution, consult Donohoo Accounting Services.

 

Which Organizations Qualify to Receive Charitable Contributions?

The government allows the following types of establishments qualified to take tax-deductible donations:

  • Religious (such as churches, mosques, synagogues and temples)
  • Literary
  • Educational (such as nonprofit schools)
  • Charitable (such as American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club of America, Goodwill, Salvation Army and United Way)
  • Those working to prevent cruelty to children or animals
  • Scientific
  • Federal, state and local governments (for contributions intended for public purposes)

These Charitable Contributions Are Not Tax Deductible?

As a general rule, donations to individuals, political organizations and candidates for public office are not tax deductible. The same goes for gifts of money or property given to:

  • Homeowners associations
  • Sports clubs
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Civic leagues
  • Social clubs
  • Labor unions
  • Civic leagues

How Can I Be Sure I’m Donating to a Tax-Exempt Organization?

The easiest way to confirm that you are donating to a tax-exempt organization is to ask the organization directly for proof of their tax-exempt status. You also can search for charities using the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool or confirm tax-exempt status by calling the IRS at (877) 829-5500.

Cash Donations Receipts To Keep

If you donate by check, cash or some other monetary gift, you must provide written communication such as a bank record, payroll deduction records or written acknowledgement from the tax-exempt organization with your tax return. This written proof must include:

  • The name of the organization.
  • The date you made the contribution.
  • The amount of your contribution.

 

The amount of your contribution.
The amount of your contribution.

 

If you still have questions about what is a taxable donation or what constitutes a taxable donation please contact Donohoo Accounting at 513 528 3982.  We specialize in helping small businesses with all you taxable needs.