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Tax prep is a lengthy, complicated process. But with some research, guidance, and patience, you can get it all done. Like most things, you just need to prepare yourself for the process.

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Preparation and readiness are key!

This video breaks down the entire tax preparation process from start to finish. The first thing you’ll want to do is gather all source documents. This includes W2 forms, 1099 forms, interest statements, and any other documents related to income. It’s best to get all of these statements gathered in one place all at once to simplify and smooth out your process.

Next, you’re going to file your taxes using the tax return software of your choice. There are dozens of options available. The software you choose will depend on your comfort level in filing taxes and also the amount of money you’re willing to pay for tax services. Remember that the less you pay, the more work you’ll have to do yourself. Sometimes spending a few extra bucks is worth the time and energy you’ll save.

This video continues detailing the entire tax preparation process. Watch it to get yourself informed on the tax filing process so you can file with ease and confidence!

20 Ways to Save Money More Efficiently

Saving money is a useful topic everyone can get behind — whether you’re a school teacher or a trendy social media influencer. It’s also a skill that you can continuously improve on, even if you already consider yourself a financial whiz. Therefore, if you wish to learn about how to save money more efficiently, continue reading.

1. Create Passive Streams of Income

Yes, learning how to save money is valuable, but creating passive income should hold just as much weight as saving your money when discussing finances. Not only will you never run out of cash as it will be flowing freely into your account, but you won’t even have to work for it actively! It’s never been easier for the average person to create these kinds of streams of income, and this is all due to the internet.

You can write an e-book or create an affiliate marketing blog.

If you’re looking to dive into a more serious form of creating passive income, look into purchasing investment homes.

2. Buy Food in Bulk

Anyone that knows how to save money more efficiently will tell you to buy your foods in bulk if you want to reap the savings. However, this depends on what you’re buying. If you run a household of four people, yes, buy the essentials in bulk. This can include staples like potatoes, salad, or milk.

However, if you’re single, it may not be necessary to buy such large quantities of food. In fact, it may be wasteful. If you wish to shop in bulk, buy foods with a longer shelf life. Think beans, grains like quinoa, and oats for breakfast.

Buy your veggies fresh at the farmer’s market if you wish to buy fresh produce, but not pay an arm and a leg for it.

3. Extreme Couponing

Have you ever seen those reality shows where the extreme couponers end up leaving the grocery store with more money than they came in with? This is a good skill to learn if you want to know how to save money more efficiently. No, you don’t have to be that excessive, but coupons are perfect if you’re trying to save some cash.

Know where to look to save money on essentials like toilet paper, or even your favorite brand of icecream.

If you’ve recently fallen in love with a new brand, shoot them in email and let them know how much you loved their product. They may send you a few coupons as their way of saying thanks!

Online couponing sites and the newspaper are two other great resources you can use to your advantage.

3. Avoid Fast Fashion Clothing When Shopping

Fast fashion clothing is cheap, abundant, and easy to find. However, you’ll end up paying the ultimate price every time you have to replace your dress shirt and slacks every few months due to the poor quality. Invest a little bit more money upfront when shopping for clothes.

If buying designer is too expensive, buy high-quality secondhand clothing instead. This is also a great alternative for the environment.

4. Buy a Used Car if You Need a Vehicle

You can buy a used car that feels like brand new, especially with auto loan rates these days. Many people choose a used car over a brand new one since the insurance is typically cheaper, and you’ll likely save a ton of money by paying less upfront.

If you want to save even more money, look for a used car that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. Though that European car on the lot looks nice, getting it repaired could cost a small fortune, so make the responsible decision if you wish to learn how to save money more efficiently.

5. Ride Your Bike or Walk to Work

Your gas bill can get uncontrollably high if you’re driving your car around town every single day. Therefore, if you want to shave some money off of this expense, look into alternative forms of transportation. You can walk to work if you need exercise. You can also ride your bike if your workplace is farther away. Taking the subway or the bus is another cost-effective way to get from point A to point B if you wish to learn how to save money more efficiently!

6. Pay Off Your Credit Cards Immediately

Need an easy idea on how to save money more efficiently as a credit card holder? Listen up.

At the time of purchase, using your credit card to fund your shopping spree sounds like a phenomenal idea since you don’t have to pay all that dough upfront. However, allowing your credit card debt to pile up can get overwhelming and can also cost you more money in the long run.

With every month of making only minimum payments, the interest rate can skyrocket from month to month, drastically increasing the total amount of money you owe your credit card company. Avoid this altogether by paying your balance in full every month. Your credit score will thank you later!

7. Prioritizing Cooking at Home Over Eating Out

Another quick way to learn how to save money more efficiently is to hold off eating at restaurants. Eating at home is the easiest way to save money. Not to mention, cooking your own meals is more rewarding too. It’s also significantly healthier.

If you’ve never been the kind of person that enjoys making homecooked meals, invest in a couple of cookbooks and teach yourself this valuable life skill.

8. Brew Your Own Coffee

Coffee is one of those things the typical Amecian can’t go a day without. It’s the main reason why coffee shops are thriving. But that four-dollar cup of joe every day adds up. Over the course of the entire month, this can add up to $124 — and not to mention, most shops will add a surcharge if you add plant milk or extra syrup.

Therefore, make your own coffee at home. With some practice and patience, you can learn how to make it like the barista pros too.

9. Make the Great Outdoors Your Gym

Gym memberships have gotten ridiculously out of hand! If you wish to stay in shape for a fraction of the price, consider working out outdoors.

Go for a run, and then follow this up with a quick yoga session in your backyard. Wish to lift weights? This isn’t a problem either if you invest in a set and stick to at-home workouts instead. You can go hiking in your local park as well.

10. Join Rewards Programs for Places You Frequently Visit

If your favorite restaurant has a discount for rewards members, sign up! You could get a free meal or an impressive discount on your favorite goods and services. If you have ever wondered how to save money more efficiently, while also getting a delicious deal out of it, this is how.

11. Sign Up for a Travel Credit Card

If you have had a positive credit history and wish to see the world, sign up for a travel credit card. Convert everyday expenses into airfare and nights at hotels. You’ll end up paying a fraction of the cost every time the travel bug bites you.

12. Use Groupon for Fun Experiences

Need to get your car tuned up? Want to try a new boutique yoga studio? Perhaps you want to check out a new art exhibit nearby. Always check Groupon if this is the case. They can have deals that are up to 75% off the normal ticket price.

13. Keep Your Home’s Level of Maintenance in Check

Check the Heating and Air Conditioning

Air conditioners can break if they aren’t properly maintained — but how can you save money more efficiently with this knowledge? A technician can charge you for parts and labor, so it’s best to maintain the upkeep yourself when you can.

Ensure Your Home’s Insulation is in Great Shape

Speaking of heating and cooling, did you know that most of it escapes through the windows and doors? This can cause your energy bill to rise up drastically. However, if you’re adamant about saving money, make sure your windows are in great shape.

Install energy-efficient windows if you notice your bill isn’t getting any lower. You can also try lowering your thermostat 5 degrees lower in the winter and 5 degrees higher in the summer. You don’t want to feel like you’re trapped in an icebox or a sauna, so experiment. What feels comfortable, but also saves you some cash?

Make Sure the Floor is Pristine

Getting your floors professionally cleaned can also cost you a good chunk of change, therefore clean them yourself every day.

Oriental rug restoration is the exception, as this isn’t something you can do yourself with household materials. However, you can use baking soda to make sure your carpets smell fresh and clean.

Avoid DIY Projects in the Home

Unless you’re quite handy yourself, it’s best to let an experienced professional handle most of your home improvement issues. While this may be more costly upfront, it’s better to get it done right the first time!

Get Your Roof Inspected After a Storm

if you’re worried about the state of your roof after a nasty storm, call roofing contractors to assure you that you won’t have to install a new one.

14. If You’re an Empty Nester, Sell Your Home

If you have an unwanted property or there’s nothing tying you down to your current family home, sell your home fast for cash. Put this money towards retirement or travel and see the world.

15. Put Your Health First

Take care of your body now when you’re healthy, so you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars in medical expenses and medication down the line. Choose healthy whole foods when meal planning, and try to get at least thirty minutes of exercise a day.

The same can be said for your hygiene — if you neglect it, you’ll end up paying the price tenfold in time. Brush and floss often to avoid things like cavity fillings or root canals.

16. Find Free Ways to Keep Yourself Entertained

Over the years, movie theatre tickets have reached an all-time high. Factor in your entertainment expenses if you wish to put more money into your savings every month. Go to free events, or spend your time reading at the library instead if you want to learn how to save money more efficiently.

17. Learn More About Financial Literacy

People make silly mistakes with their money. They just don’t understand how to save money more efficiently. However, this can be due to the fact that they simply don’t know any better. Financial literacy isn’t talked about as much as it should be, therefore educate yourself on everything related to investing, saving, and making money.

There are serval books on the topic. Spending a few days learning about this will allow you to be more financially savvy and make better financial choices.

18. Prevent Break-ins

A break-in into your home is not only scary, but it can also cost you thousands of dollars in damage. Therefore, install a smart home security system for your peace of mind.

19. Sell the Things You Don’t Need

Having a cluttered home can make you feel weighed down, so turn your unwanted things into cash for a rainy day. Visit a coin dealer if you have collectibles you no longer need.

20. If You Vehicle Needs Repairs, Don’t Delay

If you’ve been in an accident and your car needs collision repair, don’t put it off as this can cause more damage to your vehicle the more you drive it.


Hopefully, these tips taught you how to save money more efficiently. Money is a valuable tool, so it’s best not to waste it.

It can be easy to let your spending habits go wild, but reel those urges in and follow these tips. Though most of these ideas are small, they can all add up in the long run to save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every single year!

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4 Industries That Present Strong Investment Opportunities During The Pandemic

Right now, it’s never been more difficult for a lot of people to make money. The new definitions between what constitutes essential and non-essential businesses have shuttered a lot of companies, and the economic crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered some companies permanently. Therefore, a lot of people, many of which are quarantined with less on their plates than ever, are looking for new ways to make money. While remote work is certainly an option that can keep you safe and less likely to catch the coronavirus, there are a limited amount of remote opportunities available, even for qualified people. Therefore, many have developed a new interest in the stock market; and those who have already invested wisely have something of a cushion to rely upon as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the rest of their normal lives. Nonetheless, it can be a bit difficult to determine what exactly are smart stocks to invest in right now.

Many of us likely haven’t put much thought to the stock market until now. If you’re new to investing, perhaps the most important thing to do right now is to evaluate what industries are consistently doing well despite the pandemic crisis. And if you’re more experienced, you should probably be making the same evaluations nonetheless. Even experienced investors are now having to reevaluate what they were planning on doing with their money now that the pandemic is in play. The economy is more unpredictable than ever, with unexpected industries rising to take advantage of new opportunities, while old mainstay companies are looking at potential bankruptcy. Tactics that were once considered foolproof may no longer work as they once did. Recently, it was revealed that around 97% of real estate investors planned to increase the amount of capital they allocated to real estate over the next 18 months or so. Now that the pandemic has put a lot of people off of moving or buying real estate, they may have to change those plans. With that being said, you can only make determinations based on the information you have at the moment. Therefore, let’s look into industries that could potentially present smart stocks to invest in right now.

1. Consumer Staples

Would you have thought a few months ago that you should invest, both literally and financially, in toilet paper? Probably not. But one thing the pandemic has proven is that consumer staples are what people will prioritize when they fear a crisis on the horizon. If consumers could fill warehouses with toilet paper and paper towels right now, they probably would. But these are far from the only consumer staples that present potentially smart stocks to invest in right now.

New investors may also want to look into major food companies; not necessarily those associated with the restaurant industry, of course. Though restaurants are attempting to maintain their income through takeout and delivery, the pandemic has nevertheless hit the industry hard. If anything, consumers have responded by putting their money into delivery apps and services, which is why such companies have reported unusually high growth percentages. That sector in itself could present smart stocks to invest in right now. In general, however, restaurants offer luxuries and not practicalities. People will want food that they can buy inexpensively, for meals that they can safely at home.

Conversely, now is probably not the time to invest in lux companies in general. While consumers may want to buy custom jewelry, they probably can’t right now. A lot of people are choosing to squirrel away their money even if they’re financially stable at the moment. Those seeking to invest should look towards needs versus wants in this current economic climate.

2. Energy And Utilities

Speaking of needs versus wants, it’s virtually impossible to live in this world without energy and utilities. While some consumers may find it difficult to manage their bills at the moment, they’ll prioritize their “musts” first. A credit card bill might be ignored; however, a gas bill won’t be. If anything, concern over what could happen during the pandemic has led a lot of consumers to get overcautious, with some even buying generators to act as backups in case they lose power during the pandemic.

It’s true that investing in gas and electric companies may not sound like as much fun as investing in exciting startups, or fancy companies offering goods like handmade leather bags. But in many ways, investors should look at stocks and consider their income potential. Try to keep personal preference out of it, and focus on what you would very practically need in case of an emergency, and where your money would go. For a lot of people, this is going to mean steering away from some of the more “exciting” stock options, and going towards something more reliable. Remember too that as much as you can make money when investing, you can potentially lose money as well. The last thing you need during a pandemic is a financial loss. So use caution over excitement when making your plans during the current pandemic.

For that matter, listen to the experts. A lot of financial advisers can tell you about smart stocks to invest in right now, and if they steer you towards energy and utilities, listen to them. Now is the time to sit back and learn about your stock options, rather than trying to act too quickly. While it may be easy to get panicky during a crisis like this and invest in some new company that seems to be skyrocketing, remember that it’s smarter to look for industries that are reliable and well-tested.

3. Pharmaceuticals

The pandemic is changing the healthcare industry in many different ways. For one thing, it is very much under strain. Medical personnel are currently under an increasing amount of pressure, and a lot of people are hesitant to take jobs within the industry for fear of being exposed to the virus. For another, however, companies within the industry are more necessary now than ever. The pharmaceutical industry has always been reliable, as people will always need their medications. But now, consumers are becoming even more aware of their health risks, and they’re prioritizing their well-being in order to be as healthy as possible in the face of the coronavirus. This is obviously a great thing in general. However, it almost means that the pharmaceutical industry presents a lot of smart stocks to invest in right now.

Right now, a lot of consumers are being advised to reevaluate their health plans and to try to stay out of the hospital or urgent care centers as much as possible. This is both due to the fact that there is currently undue strain on the healthcare system, with a lot of hospitals being concerned about running out of beds, and due to the fact that hospitals and urgent care centers are potential epicenters for COVID-19. Therefore, Americans are trying to stay on top of their health and taking their pharmaceutical medications regularly. Furthermore, a lot of them are buying pharmaceutical products that are more supplemental, in an effort to further fortify their systems.

Of course, there’s another reason why there are smart stocks to invest in right now within the pharmaceutical industry. Obviously, a lot of pharmaceutical companies are essentially competing with one another in an attempt to provide treatments, and ideally a cure for COVID-19. This means that they’re taking in a lot of money, and also making money through the products they create for researchers that are exploring cures. While the idea of profiting off of the pandemic is not particularly appealing to anyone, the fact is that these companies do offer smart stocks to invest in right now because they are very much needed. Furthermore, the more that is invested in the pharmaceutical industry, the faster these companies can work to hopefully create options for those suffering from the coronavirus.

4. IT And Telecommunications

Like the pharmaceutical industry, IT and telecommunications have always been fairly strong and steady industries. Therefore, they would probably be able to offer good stock options at any point in time. However, now more than ever it’s become truly necessary to be able to communicate easily and reliable with people, and to be able to use technology without worrying about it collapsing. This is in large part because a lot of companies and schools are currently operating remotely. Therefore, phones and videoconferencing technology are being relied upon by students and employees alike. For that matter, many companies are executing tasks that would typically be done within an office remotely, which means that they need to be able to use easy to understand, foolproof software. If you’re looking for smart stock options right now, tech is truly everywhere. It was already important; now it’s crucial.

For example, it’s one thing for a company to have its employees working from home. It’s another matter entirely for those employees to be working at home without checking in with their managers and supervisors. Virtual offices allow them to be supervised remotely, and to easily check in with their managers. The difference between this type of technology and the type of fun videoconferencing tech that we use at home is that virtual offices can be monitored by upper management at the company, which means that there is less of a risk of company hours being wasted at home, or for that matter, unprofessional behavior going unnoticed.

Businesses are very much aware that there is a potential for a loss of revenue or productivity due to remote operations. Therefore, being able to access technology like reliable supply chain management software is remarkably important. A lot of businesses are also looking to outsource some of their remote operations to other companies, in an effort to save money. These third parties also offer interesting investment opportunities.

Of course, companies that specialize in communication solutions companies offer smart stocks to invest in right now as well, for similar reasons. It’s not enough to be able to talk to people on the phone when you’re quarantined. Now, people want to feel as if they can communicate more clearly with coworkers and loved ones alike, with less of a risk for confusion or that ever-so-annoying buffering. Importantly, communications technology represents both a need and want. People need to stay in close touch with their employees and students. People want to stay in touch with their loved ones. Communications technology also represents an important psychological factor, in that it keeps people from feeling as isolated as they would otherwise. This is more valuable than you might initially think, as the quarantine is causing a lot of conflict and mental health issues for people who feel as if they’ve really lost touch with each other. It goes beyond just looking at smart stocks to invest in right now and seeking out companies that could very well be what people lean on to stay connected in the future.

It’s difficult to know what the future holds for people in general, as well as many different industries. Remote data center services may very well be what a lot of companies find themselves turning to for guidance when altering the way that they work in a post-pandemic world. Consumers are having groceries that they once would have shopped for themselves delivered to their doorsteps. Much of the way that we live has changed, and in that sense, much of the way that we once invested has to change as well.

If you’re a more experienced investor, keep in mind that what may have seemed like a great idea a few months ago may no longer represent smart stocks to invest in right now. If you’re new, be cautious with your money but at the same time recognize the opportunities available to you. Now may not be the time to get rich quick off of investments, but it could present an opportunity for you to safeguard yourself and your family financially.

Why Hiring a Debt Collection Agency Is Always a Good Idea

Debt-owned is a very detrimental liability for many businesses, and as such, firms sometimes have to outsource their debt collection to a debt recovery agency to recover debt from defaulters. The phrase “time is money” holds much truth, especially in the business field. Expending time and effort on debt collecting could take away precious time that you could spend on other profit-generating activities. This piece will highlight some key advantages of outsourcing debt collection to keep your business afloat.

Benefits of Hiring a Debt Collection Agency

All businesses require funds to keep the enterprise afloat. But unfortunately, defaulted debt haunts many companies and precludes the smooth operations in the business. Collecting debt from unreliable customers can be very frustrating, especially if the business is already overwhelmed with other time-consuming activities. A business debt collecting agency helps you meet more pressing business demands as they recover the debt for you. Here are a couple of reasons why outsourcing debt collection to a collection agency is extremely beneficial.

1. They Are Successful in Their collection

The chances of successful debt recovery on hiring a collection agency increase manifold when compared to internal debt collection. In 2016 alone, debt collection agencies were able to recover an astounding $78.5 billion in debt. This figure goes to show how successful debt recovery agencies are in their collection endeavors. Because business debt collection services have trained professionals, they have the necessary know-how on how to conduct the collection of unpaid debts professionally. The firms even make friendly payment plans and arrangements with the clients to ensure the success of the collection process and to maintain good relations between the client and the business. In the end all parties win, because your clients can save their credit score before it’s too late.

2. Faster Payment from Clients

Clients are more inclined to pay when debt collection is in the hands of a debt collection agency. If debt payments are a bit slow, then consider a third-party collection agency to hasten things up. A debt collection agency demonstrates to clients how committed your business is to recover delinquent debts and will make them prioritize debt payment above other things.

3. Proper Documentation

Debt collection agencies always keep a record of their debt collection efforts, so if any legal issues arise, your business has sufficient evidence to present that they made many considerable attempts to recover the unpaid debt to prevent liability on the part of your business. This documentation is also important for future reference, the next time a client wants goods and services on credit so that you won’t be in the same situation again. The documentation is also vital for tax reasons to keep you in good books with the IRS.

4. Saves You Time and Money

Businesses spend a lot of resources and time recovering debt, which could be spent on more crucial matters concerning the productivity of the business. Debt collectors use the same billing option as your company so that you can focus on more important matters as the unpaid debt streams in without having to micro-manage every aspect of the debt collection process. Rest assured, the debt collectors utilize only the best techniques to recover the debts and are determined and incessant in their debt collection so you can take a load off and rest assured you’ll get your money eventually.

5. Versatility and Flexibility

Debt collectors adapt to your business model. They can align their debt collection procedure to fit the objectives and goals of the business while maintaining the professional outlook of your firm. These agencies are not limited to any businesses but can render their services across the board, and you can even seek their services for accounts receivable debt collection.

If unpaid debts are causing you sleepless nights, you need not fret over the matter; a collection agency is glad to take over debt collection and help keep the business afloat.

Five True Facts About Lottery Annuities

some of the moneyEveryone has dreamed of winning the lottery at some point in their lives, and why not? Winning the lottery can either solve all of your problems or spawn some entirely unforeseen problems of its own. Here are the top five reasons why the lottery system might not be all it is cracked up to be.

1. Taxes on Your Annuity 
Right off the bat, you lose 25% of your lottery annuity to federal taxes. As if this is not enough, state taxes can cost you an additional 10%. Some annuities may even have yearly tax fees, costing you even more money.

2. Annual Upkeep Fees 
The threat of annual tax fees is only increased when one has to consider annual upkeep fees. Annual fees for your annuity can reach as much as 3% of your total investment. Some annuities charge penalties reach 6 or 7% within the first seven years; meaning that money is lost every year you wait.

3. Subject to Early Withdrawal Fees 
Waiting might just be the only thing you can do, as many annuities are specially set up to hit you with early withdrawal fees. If you withdraw the money before a certain length of time, or in some cases before the age of 59½, you will be subject to taxes plus an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty fee.

4. Lottery Annuity Payment Schedule 
The most important part of an annuity is the money of course. The Mega Millions starts out with an initial payment followed by 29 annual lottery payments that increase every year by 5%. This means that a typical Mega Millions jackpot of $50 million would start with an initial payment of over $750,000 and future annual payments that would nearly reach $3.1 million dollars.

5. Love and Loss 
Despite being entitled to more money than most people see in their entire lives, nearly half of lotto workers continue to work at their old job. Whether they will $500 million or just $1 million, nearly 70% of lotto winners will lose or spend all of their money in five years or less.

Still encouraged to go for the lottery? Many people have bypassed the unnecessary fees associated with annuity settlements by selling lottery payments to trusted companies who will continue to collect the cash after giving you a lump sum. Although you’ll never beat the lottery, at least you can find a way to still come out ahead.

How to Receive Cash for Annuity Payments

dollar paper money in bag over concreteWinning a lottery annuity is often the subject of a great story, but rarely happens in real life, right? The truth is, lottery winners are living and working along side of us; chances are you know one. So why are these hidden millionaires not driving yachts or sipping champagne? Here are three hidden truths that the lotto business doesn’t want you to find out.

To put it mildly, lottery taxes are brutal. The government will instantaneously withhold around 25% of jackpot winnings for federal taxes, plus an additional amount for state taxes too. These heavy taxes significantly cut down on your winnings, which may be why nearly half of lottery winners continue to work even after receiving annuity lottery payments.

Hidden Fees 
Unfortunately the taxes are only the beginning of what can be a lengthy process of fees and restrictions. Many annuities have hidden fees that are enacted once you try to make a withdrawal; if you make a withdrawal within the first five to seven years you may surrender charges of up to 7% of your investment or more. In some cases, withdrawing from particular annuities before the age of 59½ can result in additional taxes plus a 10% early-withdrawal penalty. Just maintaining a variable annuity can cost $20 or $30 per year in maintenance fees — those millions don’t look as attractive as they used to.

Getting money is the only reason people really play the lottery anyways, right? Unfortunately a lump sum lottery payout is not going to happen, so you’ll have to receive yearly payments. Some annuities come with options for payments, including payments over a specified number of years ore payments that continue for as long as you or a spouse are still alive. A lottery annuity, such as the Mega Millions is paid out in one immediate payment followed by 29 annual payments that each increase by 5% every year. While some are happy to sit back and collect, some people want to get cash for annuity payments as quickly as they can to pay bills and come out ahead. In order to get cash for annuity payments, you’ll have to find a specialized buyer who will continue to collect on your annuity while giving you a certain amount of money in a lump sum. Selling your annuity may just be the best way to get the most out of your lottery payout.