Understanding Tax Season: Form W-2

It’s that time of the year again—every afternoon we race to our mailboxes to see what new tax documents the postman has delivered! W-2, 1099, 1095, 1098, 5498, K-1… what is all this stuff?! There are a lot of tax forms out there and Form W-2 is one of the most important. This small document details the tax effects from many decisions we made throughout the year. If you want to maximize your tax savings and increase your refund, understanding how your decisions effect your W-2 is a great place to start. Common Form W-2 Questions The most common tax

You’re Paying Too Much When Traveling Abroad

The Situation You’re sitting outside a café in Milan enjoying the perfect espresso watching the people rush in all directions. You landed the night before and are ready for a much needed vacation. You signal for the check and let the waiter know that you’d like to pay with your credit card, because you’ve read my post 4 Tips for Spending Money Better While Abroad. He inserts your card into the machine and turns to you with a question “Would you like to pay in euros or dollars?” It takes a second for his Italian to register, then your mind

The Secret to Achieving Your Dreams

Our Story December 29, 2015 is the day my wife and I took control of our destiny. Before that fateful day, we spoke often about our dreams and desires for life, but they were just that—dreams. We each had ideas, and from time to time we’d chat and dream together… Where we wanted to live, when and how many kids we wanted, and the ideal work / life balance. But we never moved much closer to achieving them. We lived our busy lives on autopilot, without a clear plan to achieve the things we wanted. We simply trusted that one

Year-End Tax Planning Decisions That Will Save You Money

It’s the holiday season and 2016 is almost behind us. Mariah Carey is on every radio station, Home Alone is playing on repeat, and you’re bundled up by the fire with your computer thinking about taxes. Sure, April 15th is a long way out, but you know that the game is won or lost before year-end.  Tax planning is about making conscious decisions, (e.g. to buy, sell, contribute, distribute) that will affect your tax bill. Eleven months’ worth of financial events have come and gone, and many of your cards are on the table. You know your income, tax rate,

How to Be Lazy and Make Money – Credit Card Rewards

I cringe when I see people use a debit card or cash. I want to jump across the counter, grab their arms, and scream “What are you doing!?! You’re wasting money! Don’t you care?” Of course I don’t, but the feeling is there. Everyone knows about credit card rewards, so why do so many people fail to take advantage of them? It’s pretty easy to get paid an average of 2% for using credit cards. Assume you spend $1,000 per month between groceries, gas, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping. That’s $12,000 per year. By using a credit card and getting 2%

Do You Need Life Insurance?

Insurance is one of the few things in life that we pay for and hope to never use. We have auto insurance to protect our car, homeowners’ insurance to protect our homes, and we have life insurance to protect our… lives? Life insurance is different than other types of insurance because it actually isn’t about us at all. It’s about our partners, kids, families, and anyone else we deeply care about. We purchase life insurance to provide for the people we love and give them the lives they desire. If you have loved ones whom depend on you financially, you

8 Rules for Maximizing Charitable Deductions

Tis the season to don our tartan scarfs, cut an extra notch in our belts, and reach down into our hearts (and wallets) to give thanks. The holidays are a cheerful time that offers many opportunities to help others by volunteering and making charitable donations. Once the season passes and the cold hard reality of tax time hits in April, you’ll want to make sure you followed these rules to maximize your deductions. #1 – Itemize Your Deductions The term “tax deductible” gets thrown around a lot. Especially when it comes to charity. However, the truth is that just because

Take Control of Your Student Loans: #3 Should You Refinance?

This post is the third in a series about student loans. I honestly don’t know what to write for an intro because all I want to say is “STUDENT LOANS AHHHHHHHH!” Can we get these things out of our lives already? Anyone with student loans has at least one of three goals: reducing monthly payments, reducing the lifetime interest expense, or paying off the loan as soon as possible. Refinancing may actually help you accomplish all three. What is Student Loan Refinancing? Refinancing is taking out a loan to pay off another. The most common reason for refinancing is to

How to Get A Higher Credit Score

In late 2007, Eric Violette and his band smashed onto the music scene with hits that got stuck in the head of every man, woman, and child for what seemed like an eternity. Altogether they had nine musical masterpieces that covered a wide spectrum of topics—pirates, roller coasters, used cars, and bicycles. Unfortunately, the band broke up in February of 2010 and by the time they got back together for a reunion tour in 2012 the world had lost interest. If you are like me this was your first real experience with credit scores. You guessed it, the band I’m

How to Compare Your Healthcare Options

It’s that magical time of year again! Leaves are changing color, the smell of smores and campfires is in the air, and your HR department is emailing you about open enrollment. You’ve got work to do, deadlines to meet, and the last thing you need is another task in your way. Where do you even start? To help you out, I’ve prepared this guide to making this a smooth election year. tpattersonart.com Learn the Lingo – The Vocabulary of Health Insurance Before you choose your health insurance, you need to know your options and identify the tradeoffs. To do that,

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