Another summer is coming to an end. Now that the hottest days, family vacations and back-to-school rush are behind us, it’s a great time to give some attention to your personal finances. Prepare for the coming months — and the holidays on the horizon — with these end-of-summer tips.
• Pay quarterly estimated taxes. If you’re self-employed or you have extra income you haven’t reported on your W-2, now’s the time to check in and make sure you’re paying both state and federal quarterly estimated income taxes so you don’t get stuck with a big bill from Uncle Sam in April. The next quarterly payment is due Sept. 15, so don’t put it off.
• Prepare for the cooler months. Although it may be hard to imagine with all the warm weather we’ve experienced this summer, staying warm gets expensive when winter hits. Many gas and electric utility companies offer “budget billing” plans that allow you to spread your heating costs throughout the year and avoid getting hit with a surprisingly large bill on a particularly cold month. Also, winterizing your home this fall will help conserve energy and save money.
• Start saving for the holidays. It may sound excessive to start thinking about the holidays in September, but Christmas is a little more than 100 days away. Now is a great time to start your holiday spending plan. For instance, if you plan to spend $300 on gifts, you should start saving $3 per day to get there. Stashing away cash in advance allows you to buy gifts for everyone on your list without taking on debt.
• De-clutter and donate. As summer winds down and you start spending more time inside, take a hard look at all the stuff you’ve been stockpiling. Sorting through clothes you no longer wear and electronics or household items you don’t use can free up space and even make you a little cash. Put these items up for sale at a local consignment shop, local buy-and-sell advertising pages or donate them (by making a tax-deductible contribution).
• Teach children to save. When kids return to school, they often have a renewed sense of focus and determination. Also, schools across the country are making efforts to incorporate financial literacy curricula into classrooms. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about money and the importance of saving. Your efforts will be rewarded as your child develops an understanding of financial principles and positive financial habits, equipping them to successfully manage their money as an adult.
Information provided by Tim Esbeck, community president, Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust Clear Lake Branch, 1919 Hwy. 18 East, Clear Lake. For more information, call 641-357- 6161.