My family went away this past weekend to spend some time over Memorial Day to visit my in-laws in Atlanta, Georgia. The drive up on I-85 was mind-numbing and excruciatingly awful due to the never-ending construction zones and the lasting bands of subtropical storm Alberto. Apparently, we have begun the hurricane season earlier this year than normal. The rain had begun prior to our leaving, but on Friday as we crawled up I-85 and a wonderful pace of 25 miles per hour…the rain made it even harder to be patient for the traffic to flow at a somewhat normal speed.
If you are taking notes, a total of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes are expected this season. It seems last year’s disastrous hurricane season that included storms like Harvey, Irma, and Maria, just wasn’t enough fun. I know my husbands family in Florida is thrilled to hear that, but here in North Carolina, that means rain. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of hot, humid rain.
It’s hard, in moments like these, stuck in the car wishing that the teenage boy, who is always grumpy it seems, and the pre-teen daughter, that is (love her) annoyingly happy at almost every tick of the clock, could find a common ground. You have to do a lot of deep breathing and counting to ten. Couldn’t they at least pretend to be that family in all the car commercials that sing or play games together? Ever notice how even grandma stuck all the way back in the third-row seating is all smiles as she marvels at her beautiful family. No one is getting head thumped, the portions are always equal, everyone has ample room and no one whines at all!
After a while, my husband and I began to giggle (it may be insanity kicking in) about becoming the Griswold family going on vacation to Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation. In that version of the very same car commercial, grandma would be strapped to the roof! This image made me laugh till I cried and in the end, you must retain the ability to laugh at your life. I am blessed that after eighteen years my dear husband can still make me snort giggle at our crazy life. He could pull off the Chevy Chase character flawlessly…
All kidding aside, this time in the car allowed us to have conversations which we never have time for in our normal routines. (This was after a sanity stop to a Redbox to grab a movie the children could agree on of course.) We discussed our garden, future dreams of getting a pop-up camper, one axel or two…summer plans, etc. and time passed. After having time to observe the Northbound lane’s craziness, as we slowly crept along the Southbound lane, one thing was painfully obvious, if we did the same thing twice would be just as painful and slow. So we began to look for an alternate route for going home.
Sometimes, in cases like this, it catches you off guard to be in a situation that you didn’t plan for, like Alberto and his relentless rain bands. BUT if we hadn’t suffered through the bad experience, we wouldn’t have taken the time to pre-plan a way around having to do it for the second time.
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” ~ Winston Churchill. Yes, dear readers…here is the tie-in you’ve been waiting for in the blog for today. Take the time to develop a strategy. Spring is the ideal time for tax planning. Why? Because strategizing now could position yourself for savings later.
Consider these ideas for lowering your 2018 federal tax bill.
How much can you direct into retirement accounts?
Contributions to various employer-sponsored retirement plans are deductible dollar-for-dollar. The same applies to traditional IRA contributions; though, this tax break is reduced if your income exceeds a certain level. Both employer-sponsored plans and traditional IRA’s have contribution limits and other provisions that may vary. Check with your employer and financial professional for the specifics of your accounts.
Can you contribute to an FSA or HSA?
Flexible Spending Accounts have a $2,600 limit for 2018. Health Savings Accounts have a $3,400 limit for individuals this year and a $6,750 limit for families. Your direct contributions to HSAs are tax-deductible. FSA contributions are not tax-deductible, but they do reduce your taxable wages.
Can you harvest investment losses?
An individual can deduct up to $3,000 in portfolio losses per year. Investments must be sold to get this tax break.
Could you shift some income into 2019?
If you work solo and must pay income tax, plus 15.3% self-employment tax, on net business income, perhaps you could collect some revenue next year rather than this year. If you aren’t self-employed, but might get a large year-end bonus, the same tactic could help.
How could you donate to charity?
Both cash and non-cash contributions to a qualified charity are deductible under I.R.S. rules; you do need to itemize them.
Want to know more? Send us your questions.
If you are wondering the end of my Memorial Weekend story, we came home via Asheville, NC. We had never attempted that before, and now we wonder why we haven’t been doing it all these years. It avoided South Carolina entirely and took us up and over the Georgia mountains and into the Blue Ridge, it was beautiful! The children commented on how nice it was to see the scenery and the trip itself was at a steady, calmer and more relaxed pace that in total cost us just a mere 20 extra minutes home. Well worth the time indeed!
Had we not trudged through the same ole I-85 interstate madness, we would never have thought to plan ahead for something different, something better. Having the information we needed to make a significant positive change that effected our entire trip made all the difference. Now is the ideal time to meet with your financial team for the very same reasons. What potential savings could your business, practice, or household plan to realize? Putting a sound strategy in place for the future can change BLAH to BEAUTIFUL!
Have a great day friends! ~ Kimberly