April is here with all of its springtime warmth after a long, dreary winter.
Before you rush off on a spring break adventure or get distracted with all of the other excitement the season offers, here are five money questions you should ask yourself this month.
Tax Day this year is April 15 for most states (Maine and Massachusetts residents: state holidays mean you have until April 17).
If you’re going to file late, you need to let the IRS know by applying for an extension by April 15 for most of the US and by April 17 for Maine and Massachusetts. (You’ll need IRS Form 4868). This will grant you six additional months to complete and submit your tax return — your new tax filing deadline will be October 15 (or the next business day, if this date falls on a weekend or legal holiday).
Here’s the catch: Applying for an extension will help you avoid a failure-to-file penalty as long as you pay before the extension ends. However, if you owe money, you’ll likely pay interest and late payment penalties on the amount you owe as of the filing deadline, which means as of April 15 for most of us.
For info about extensions, interest and penalties, check out the IRS’ website for guidance.
Surprised by the results of your 2018 tax return? You may want to revisit how much tax you paid, including how much your employer may or may not have taken out based on your W-4.
Signs that you may want to adjust how much you’re paying in taxes:
Getting a big refund check in the mail can feel like a bonus, or even a relief. But if you’re receiving a big tax refund it may be because you overpaid your taxes during the year. Consider asking a professional about how and if you should change your withholdings because you may be missing an opportunity to use that extra money in other ways throughout the year, like using it to seed an emergency fund in an interest-bearing savings account.
When you owe the IRS money at the end of the year, it may be a sign that you should be paying more in taxes throughout the year. Check your W-4 and any other income sources you have and consider asking an advisor for some guidance.
It's a good idea to check in on your portfolio from time to time to see how your investments are faring.
Here’s a list of some of the specific information you should review during your investment checkup:
Assess how your investments have been performing over time. Reassess based on your life goals. If things aren’t progressing as well as you’d like, you may want to consider new options.
Look at fees you’ve been paying. Whether you’re managing investments on your own or working with a broker or financial advisor, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how much you’re paying in fees. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about fees, compare what others charge for similar services, and ask if there are any ways to reduce or avoid fees altogether. Remember, even small fees can add up and take away from any returns your investments earn.
Mother’s Day will be here before you know it. Now’s the time to secure restaurant bookings and make plans. If you’ve been inspired to make budget-friendly or handcrafted gifts for the occasion (you know — the kind of things moms love), you’ll need some time in advance to create your gifts.
Wedding season will soon be upon us — and although weddings are joyous celebrations, they often come along with the added expense of gifts, flights, hotel stays, wedding-weekend activities, and more.
Now is a good time to start planning ahead and budgeting for these celebrations instead of financing it and having to worry about paying it back.