#CoupleGoals: Nothing brings people together like shared goals. As a couple, decide what you want your money to do for you. Get out of debt? Save for a home? A new car? Go on a tropical vacation? Set money goals that fire you up and motivate you to work together to reach them.
Set a budget together: Creating and sticking to a budget is at the heart of financial success — especially for couples. Determine how expenses will be split up and track each one for 30 days. Use what you learn to adjust and allot how much should go in each budget line, keeping your goals in mind.
Create spending rules: It can be helpful to create spending rules or limits that allow each partner to spend up to a certain amount without consulting the other. It can be a blanket spending ceiling like $100 or $250, or you can set limits or ranges for specific day-to-day expenses like $8-$12 for lunch or $25-$50 for new clothes.
Build an emergency fund: Nothing derails a well-designed financial plan like an unexpected expense. An emergency fund acts as a buffer between you and credit card debt, creating reserves solely for emergencies such as car repairs or medical expenses. When you have money to handle an emergency, it helps keep stress at bay. We recommend saving six to nine months of expenses as an emergency fund.
In love as in life, money can be a source of stress and strife. But while financial fights may seem inevitable, they’re usually just a sign of differing views and styles among couples.
“Everybody approaches spending and money differently, but if you’re serious about each other it’s time to get serious about your money,” said Michael Sullivan, a personal financial consultant. “Couples who recognize and understand each other’s money differences while working together toward common goals can find financial bliss.”
Sullivan shares five ways for couples to get on the same page with money:
Talk about money: You can’t win with money together unless you talk about money together. Discuss your different styles and philosophies toward spending, saving and investing, and open up about income, debts, obligations and assets. It may be difficult but talking to your partner about money is the first step toward winning with money.
2. Replace The Heating System’s Air Filter. Furnace air filters should be changed every three months, so if the filter hasn’t been changed in a while, it’s a good idea to do so. Air filters should also be checked monthly during the heating season to see if they’re dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep the house warm — wasting energy. Always using a clean filter can reduce heating costs by up to 15%. If in the average month it costs $100 to heat the home, this simple swap you could save over $90 each year.
And, as an added bonus, always using a clean filter will prevent dust and dirt from building up in the heating system — minimizing your risk of expensive maintenance and early system failure.
3. Make “Cold/Cold” the Default Setting on the Washing Machine. About 90% of the energy used to do laundry is just to heat the water. Washing and rinsing with cold water saves energy, helps clothes last longer, and lowers monthly energy bills. While there will certainly be times that a warm or hot wash will be needed for deep cleaning, most regular loads only require the cold/cold setting, and many popular detergent brands are formulated for use in cold water. Changing from the warm to cold setting could save the homeowner more than $60 this year.
By making these simple swaps now, you and your family could be saving over $200 on your energy costs this year. And, if you’re looking for even more ways to save, NYSERDA has home energy audits and ratings that can help you identify places to improve your home’s energy performance.
The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority suggests three changes homeowners can make over the weekend to save money and energy.
1. Reset The Water Heater’s Base Temperature. NYSERDA asks, “If you were to turn on your shower with the water temperature as high as it can go, would you be afraid to stick your hand in because the water would be too hot and may scald you? If you answered “yes,” then the temperature setting on your water heater is likely too high and you’re wasting money.”
Water heating is the second largest energy expense in a home and typically accounts for 18% of one’s monthly energy costs. Even though the Department of Energy recommends most Americans set their water heater’s temperature to 120°F, many of us have never adjusted the temperature from the default manufacturer setting of 140°F.
A drop from 140°F to 120°F, can save anywhere from $36 to $61 over the course of 2020. The Department of Energy has step-by-step instructions at www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/water-heating on lowering your water heater’s temperature, making this an easy project to take on over the weekend.
Include all required forms and schedules. Paper filers must include Form IT-2, Summary of W-2 Statements.
Include the information that shows eligibility for any claims for credits or deductions. Paper filers must attach supporting forms and schedules to their return, which is another reason we encourage e-filing; the tax preparation software automatically includes this information.
Let the tax preparation software do the math for you; if you’re doing your own math, double check all calculations.
Choose direct deposit as your refund method. To do this, simply check direct deposit on your tax return, then be sure to enter your correct bank account and routing numbers. The combination of e-file and direct deposit will allow you to receive your New York state tax refund up to two weeks sooner than if you filed on paper and requested that a refund check be mailed to you.
If you do forgo the simplicity and convenience of direct deposit, make sure your mailing address is correct when requesting a refund check by mail. Any error can delay your refund.
E-file amended returns. The software will know exactly what’s required. If you’re filing an amended return on paper, complete it as if you are filing the return for the first time. You cannot file only the changes to the return. Submit all the forms relevant to the information in your amended return, even if these forms were already included with the original return.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance shared valuable filing tips to help taxpayers save time and money this tax season. Taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in 2019 can prepare and file their returns for free by using tax preparation software available at www.tax.ny.gov (click: Free File). These resources can help ensure that taxpayers submit accurate and timely returns.
Tax filing tips
Prepare and file your return electronically. E-filed returns are processed faster than paper returns, have fewer errors, and are more secure than those sent through the mail.
Have driver licenses handy. You must provide driver license information for you and all other filers on the return, for example your spouse if filing a joint return. This guards against fraudulent returns and refund claims filed by identity thieves.
Provide correct social security numbers for yourself and others on the return including your spouse if filing jointly, and any dependents you claim. This prevents processing and refund delays.
Report estimated tax payments accurately. Create an Online Services account at the Tax Department website (tax.ny.gov), and you’ll be able to check your balances, pay estimated tax electronically, and review your payment history. To avoid processing delays, contact the Tax Department if you’re unsure of your estimated tax payments.