March blows in like a lion and ends with flowers popping up in the garden. With finishing up taxes and making future financial plans, it can also be a transitional month for your finances, too.
Here are some questions to ask yourself while giving your finances a good spring cleaning.
Tax Day is April 15 in all but two states this year (it’s April 17 in Maine and Massachusetts), so you’re not late – just yet.
If you haven’t looked into filing your taxes, you might want to leave yourself a little extra time; this is the first tax season since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect and many things have changed. Start by gathering documents you’ll need, such as W-2s, 1099s , investment or interest income or payment statements.
The IRS reports just around 40 percent of filers have received a refund as of early February this year, a slightly lower percentage than in 2018. As of early February, the IRS reports an average refund dip from $2,135 to $1,949.
But that doesn’t mean it’s pocket change with no place to go.
You could use your refund to start a vacation fund, complete house repairs or for car maintenance; but if you have the freedom to address longer-term goals, it could be worth parking that cash into a retirement account.
For example, in 2019 you can contribute up to $6,000 (up to $7,000 if you are 50 or older) annually to an IRA and up to $19,000 annually to your 401(k).
Winter weather may have taken a toll on your house, so March is a good time to assess any winter damage and to make sure you have an adequate budget for spring repairs and maintenance. Not sure where to start or what repairs you may need to plan for beyond spring? This guide to a year’s worth of maintenance needs can help.
If you’re looking to buy a home, this same maintenance list may be able to double as a “what to look for” guide.
There’s a lot more to summer camp for your children than sun and swimming lessons. The American Camp Association, which accredits more than 2,400 camps took a look at what camps offer in a five-year study. Among the results: kids develop social and emotional skills – like responsibility and independence – that they build on and use in their adult lives.
You could spend a lot or relatively little on camp (we’ve seen things like $2,050 for two weeks at a sleep-away “horse intensive” experience and a free camp run by a local museum) but you may not have to deal with sticker shock: the American Camp Association along with other sources note that camp scholarships are out there.