Three tips to improve your financial focus and beat the tax-season blues!

What is that odd feeling everyone seems to get after filing their taxes?

It’s hard to put into words but it feels a little like, “How could I have made all that money last year and still feel like I don’t have anything to show for it?”

It’s a common feeling. But even though looking at your total income over the year and wondering where it all went can sometimes bring on the blues, it’s also a great opportunity to sharpen your financial focus going forward.

This year consider following these three tips from our financial coaches at Foresters Financial™ Everyday Money, and you’ll likely have a better experience next tax season.

1. Set two realistic goals

Resolutions aren’t just for New Year’s Eve anymore! Setting a few financial goals after tax season will help you focus your energy and effort for the next 12 months. Post your goals where you can see them, preferably in the area where you sit to pay your bills. Break down each goal into a few steps you can take each month to keep you moving forward.

Remember that good goals are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

Examples can include: “Pay off my $2,000 store credit card by August, using extra income I earn by selling things I don’t need anymore” or “Start contributing 3% to my company retirement plan next month using the raise I just received.”

Also read: Procrastination solutions: Start investing like an adult!

2. Pick something really easy you can do today

Are you disappointed that you didn’t make much progress paying down your debt last year? Do you find it frustrating that you don’t seem to have anything saved for retirement?

Whatever that triggering emotion was for you, use it as motivation to take some type of action today so you can begin to slowly turn things around. Pick something really easy and do it this Sunday morning; open that savings account, make a basic debt payoff plan or go online and schedule a first appointment with a financial advisor.

Beth, a financial coach with Everyday Money, puts it this way “The power of taking one step, even a small one, can lead to a series of actions that can turn your financial situation into a more positive one, month by month.”

Also read: How do I build an emergency fund when I keep having emergencies?

Beth recommends starting modestly, and then increasing contributions toward your goal once you know how it will affect your overall budget.

3. Did you get a large refund? Find out why

Did you get a big tax refund this year? While it may feel like a great windfall, there is another way to look at it. You essentially gave the government an interest free loan last year.

If you consider that a tax refund of $3,000 means you overpaid $250 every month, you may want to look for a new tax strategy.

That $250 over-payment each month could have been put toward reaching some of your goals throughout the year. If you’re receiving a large refund every year it’s likely worth a visit to your tax preparer for a discussion.

Also read: Why is my tax refund always so small?

By redirecting some of those over-payments, you’ll be able to reach your new financial goals that much easier.

So, even though tax time may have created feelings of frustration this year, there’s no reason you can’t have a different experience next time! Setting a few realistic goals, taking action today and reviewing your tax refund can all lead to a more positive financial picture.

Also read: Three really smart things to do with your tax return

 

Foresters, their employees and life insurance representatives, do not provide, on Foresters behalf, legal or tax advice. Prospective purchasers should consult their tax or legal advisor.

415184 CAN/US (04/17)

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Marcy Musselman

Marcy Musselman is a Financial Coach for Foresters Everyday Money, providing unbiased financial coaching and education with the goal of improving the financial wellbeing of Foresters Members. With over 20 years’ experience in the fields of investments, insurance, student loans and mortgages, Marcy writes about all aspects of personal finance with a focus on how family life changes effect credit, debt and budgeting needs.