With tax season upon a us, I wanted to go ahead and share how we take care of our own. We’ve been using TurboTax to handle our family’s tax needs for the last couple of years and we’ve been very happy with them.
When we started our taxes this year, I noticed that there have been quite a few upgrades and updates with the system. It’s made the process much easier and the Home Base is a handy way to have a snapshot of everything. For those who are still confused about The Affordable Care Act, TurboTax has created a guide to help them see their numbers.
Getting Started with TurboTax
Since we’ve used TurboTax before, when we logged into our account to get started, the program already had much of our basic information (such as name, address, and jobs) entered, savings us time. As part of their update, when we logged in TurboTax checked to make sure our browser was compatible, even providing links to give us the latest installation.
Between my husband’s work, my business, and our savings and investments, we usually accumulate a small stack of paperwork. To keep things manageable, I enter into the system as we get them through the mail, including:
W-2s from your job(s)
1099-INT: Interest Income
1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income
Once we complete our federal, TurboTax can easily transfer our information from the federal tax return to our state’s return.
Finding Tax Deductions and Credits with TurboTax
Tax deductions and credits are the most wonderful things. Tax deductions help lower your taxable income while credits lower your actual bill. TurboTax really combs through the all the possible deductions and credits for your return including your house, family, cars, charitable donations, medical expenses, college and education, and more.
Which Turbo Tax Edition Fits You?
While Home & Business is the best fit for us, it isn’t the only online edition TurboTax has available. There are several different editions that you can choose from based on your family’s particular needs.
Free Edition: If you’re one of the almost 60 million Americans who qualify for a 1040EZ/A, TurboTax’s free edition is a wonderful options as they’ve made the filing process even easier.
Deluxe: Many people will find this a suitable option to take care of their tax deductions and credits for families and homeowners.
Premier: This edition is designed for those who have numerous investments or if you own rental properties.
Home & Business: Entrepreneurs with either sole proprietor, consultant, contractor or single-owner LLC business will find this edition more than capable of handling their business.
Business: If you have a corporation, partnership or multi-member LLC, TurboTax can help you optimize your tax return.
We’ve been happy with TurboTax and how easy it is for us to file using their services. Find out which edition of TurboTax is right for you.
TurboTax Giveaway- File Your Federally Taxes for Free!
Now to the best part – Couple Money, My Financial Reviews, and TurboTax would like you to file your federal taxes for free. I am giving away codes for TurboTax’s premier edition for interested readers. To enter, it’s simple – just let me know what you plan to do with either your tax refund if you’re expecting one or how you plan on saving on your taxes this upcoming year.
You can either leave a comment below, tweet me, or share your plans on Facebook. I’ll compile the entries and pick winners this upcoming Monday (February 3, 2014) so you can get your taxes filed and done as soon as possible. If you know someone who would love a chance to get their federal taxes filed for free, please send them a link to the giveaway through email or share this on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you again for being a part of the Couple Money Community!
Since TurboTax has been kind enough to sponsor the prizes, please feel free to send them a tweet if you win 😉
Thoughts on Filing Taxes Online
How are you filing your taxes this year? Are you expecting a refund or do you owe taxes?
Disclaimer: I’m also a contributing blogger at TurboTax, so please check them out to see if they can help you with your taxes this year.
Becoming parents has been the biggest change we’ve experienced as a couple. When we found out we were going to having a baby, one of the first things we sat down and talked about -after celebrating about the news!- was making sure we had a financial cushion.
How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?
We had heard and read about how expensive it could be, so we started tracking our baby expenses. We wanted to see for ourselves and to hopefully help others.
One of the most referenced sources about the costs of having a child is the USDA’s site where currently it’s estimated that it would cost $241,080 to raise a child to 18 years of age. Based on how many kids you have and how old they are, you can get national and regional averages for the costs associated with children.
Like last year, I decided to go ahead and review our expenses to see how we compare to the USDA’s estimates. It’s a fun exercise and gives us an opportunity to see where we did well and where we could improve.
I’m using the USDA’s categories and descriptions as a guide so it can be closer comparison. As always, please feel free to share your family’s own numbers below along with your region. I hope this information cane be useful for couples considering having children who want to get an idea of what expect in terms of their finances.
According to the USDA, housing includes mortgage, property taxes, utilities, furniture, and appliances, with the national average at $4,988 with the Southeast around $4,513. That means that on average having a child adds about $415.67/month to your housing bills.
Here is where I have a few questions. There are definitely costs to having a roof over your family’s head, whether it’s mortgage or rent. How much of that is that, though, directly tied to having children? Going from a one bed room apartment to a two bedroom is a change that is easy to quantify and track, but what if you already have a house?
We bought our home before we had our daughter, so there was no real change with the mortgage. We converted the guest room into her nursery before she arrived, but otherwise the general housing costs have been the same. To be fair, we have seen an increase with our utilities (electricity and gas), but not by much – in 2013 we spent $1,090. [For the purpose of this comparison I’m using this amount for housing costs.]
Besides groceries, the USDA includes eating out at restaurants, fast food joints, and school meals. They estimated that nationally parents spent about $1,788 and this region matching that amount.
We love to eat. Looking back at 2013, we spent a total of $5,343.90 on groceries for the whole family. How much is this devoted for our baby girl? That’s hard to say in exact numbers, so I went back to our spending before we had a baby and found that we had spent $4626 in 2010, giving us an increase of $717.90.
The USDA includes car loan, gas, insurance, and maintenance in transportation costs. The national average is $2,163 with the Southeast keeping pace with $2,113. We do not have a car loan as we bought the Accord with cash.
Reviewing all of transportation expenses in 2013 for both our car’s gasoline, insurance, and maintenance expenses came out to $3,431.28. My husband’s car is practically just for commuting to work so I could lower this number, but I’d hate to pour through and see which fill-ups were his and which were mine for the entire year.
The USDA includes diapers, clothing, shoes, and dry cleaning under ‘clothing’. National average for clothing was $980 and the Southeast was $950 which mean parents are spending about $80/month. We spent $385.01 on our daughter in 2013.
Big savings here as we have enjoyed the wonderful combination of hand me downs and a lovely consignment boutique. We also buy new clothes to fill in gaps and growth spurts. The money saved is redirected towards other family financial goals and to build our daughter’s savings.
The national average for health care insurance, co-pays, and deductibles) is $1,100 and the Southeast is just a smidge under with $1,038.
We have insurance through my husband’s job and the cost for the three of us in 2013 came out to be $6,932.16. Should we have another child the monthly premium cost remains the same.
As far as figuring out how much our daughter’s portion is we’re estimating about $180/month or $2,160.
Besides daycare, this also includes baby sitting. Looking at the national level, the average is $3,725 and the region is $3,525. For us we paid practically nothing as I watch our daughter and we’ve had friends and family generously offering to baby sit.
While I was pregnant my husband and I talked about what would work best for us . We decided that I would continue to work from home (with reduced hours) and watch her during the day and evaluate the situation every so often. I have to say it has been better than I expected, but of course some adjustments had to be made. I take on few projects and the ones I accept have to be flexible such as having weekly or monthly deadlines.
Ah, my favorite category, the one where (almost) everything else gets swept under. For USDA this nondescript label goes for expenses like personal care (toothbrushes, haircuts), entertainment, and reading material. For the country the average is $1,138 and the Southeast is $975.
As far as kids’ activities, we spent $236.57 for trips to the museums, bowling alley, baseball games, and more. Some of the expenses were because we paid for some friends to join us, which enhanced the experiences even more.
Thoughts on the Costs of Raising a Toddler
As you can see, even though the USDA’s study reflects some families’ annual expenses with raising their children, it can vary wildly from your own. For us we’re estimating that $5,827.85 was spent taking care of our daughter.
We shared our story and numbers, I’d love to hear from you about your expenses. What has been the biggest expense the past year with your toddler? Where have you managed to save money without sacrificing quality?