Managing Your Money (and Uncle Sam’s)

Managing Your Money (and Uncle Sam’s)

By the End of This Tutorial, You’ll Be Able To:
 Use your computer to write and print checks, and automatically update your balance
 Keep track of your cash flow to make sure you have as much flowing in as is flowing out
 Plot a course for your financial future
 Use your computer to do your taxesTo place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to
GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183
Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

The whole concept of money was supposed to simplify things, to make it easier to exchange goods. Instead of trading a fox pelt for a lobster dinner, you could sell the pelt to someone who wanted it and then take the money to the local seafood restaurant and pay for your lobster dinner.
Somewhere in history things got all fouled up. We now buy and sell money, store our money m bank, and use checks to get at it, and even have chunks of our money removed from our paychecks before we’ve even touched it. To help manage your money in these trying times, you can use two types of programs: personal finance (or check-writing) programs and tax programs.

Getting Personal with Your Finances
The only thing personal about finances is that you have to take a personal interest in them to keep from going broke. Few people actually enjoy balancing checkbooks and figuring budgets. However, personal finance programs can help make these jobs a little less painful.
Personal finance programs are often called check-writing programs, because their main purpose is to help you keep a balanced checkbook. However, these programs are becoming more diverse. You can use some personal finance programs to manage the finances of a small business, and others (such as Quicken and WealthStarter) contain tools for teaching you how to manage your money intelligently.

Automated Check Writing
The problem with writing checks by hand is that you have to enter a lot of duplicate information. You write the date on the check, the name of the person or business the check is for, the amount of the check (both numerically and spelled out), and a memo telling what the check is for. Then you flip to your check register and enter all the same information again. If you happen to make a mistake copying the amount from your check to your register, you’ll have lots of fun balancing your checkbook at the end of the month.
With a check-writing program, your computer enters the date automatically. You enter the name of the person or business to whom you’re writing the check, the check amount (only once), and a memo telling what the check is for. The program spells out the check amount on the check, enters the required information in the check register, and calculates the new balance. This eliminates any discrepancies between what is written on the check and what appears in the register. It also eliminates any errors caused by miscalculations.

Do You Deafly Want To Print Checks?
Printing checks sounds good until you realize how much work it takes: you have to get special checks that fit in your printer, and some printers require you to print a full page of checks (up to three) at a time. And if you go grocery shopping, you have to tear a check off the page. Many users continue writing checks by hand; they use the check-writing program to record the checks, balance their checkbooks, and manage their budgets.

Balancing Your Checkbook in the ’90s
Back in the old days, balancing a checkbook was an exercise in frustration. You calculated and recalculated till you started seeing double. With a check-writing program, you simply mark the checks that have cleared, mark the deposits on the bank statement, and enter any service charges. The program takes care of the rest, determining the total according to the register.
If the total on your register does not match the total on the bank statement, the program lets you know. If you have to correct an entry in the register, the program automatically recalculates the total, saving you the time of doing it over.

Creating Cash and Credit Card Accounts
Although personal finance programs originally focused on checking accounts, they can now help you manage all your accounts: savings, credit cards, cash, and so on. You simply enter a beginning balance for each account, and then enter the transactions. This allows you to keep track of all your money.

Taking Control of Your Financial Destiny
Before you can take control of your finances, you have to figure out where all your money is going. For instance, you can’t decide if you are spending too much on car repairs unless you know exactly how much you are spending. Would you save money by buying a new car instead? Is there any way you can set aside money for investments? With accurate budget information, you can make financially sound decisions. With most personal finance programs, you can have the program keep track of each expense for you. Many programs come with a set of home or business expense categories you can use when recording your transactions. If an expense is not listed, you can create your own expense category. Whenever you record a transaction (check, cash, credit card), you specify the category of the expense. At the end of the month, you tell the program to generate a budget report.

Fancy Finance Features
Check writing and budget reports are the bread and butter of any personal finance program. However, several programs offer additional features that you might find useful:
Recurring entries If you have a monthly bill that is the same each month (a mortgage payment, rent, or budgeted utility payment), a recurring entry feature can save you some time and prevent errors. The program issues the same payment each month.
Bill planning You enter the information for all the bills you have to pay for the month and then mark the bills you currently plan to pay. The program compares the total amount with your current checking account balance to determine whether you have enough money. You can then prioritize your bills.
Electronic bill paying If your computer has a modem, you may be able to pay your bills without writing a check. You must subscribe to a service that connects you to your mortgage company, bank, utility company, and others that you have to pay. If you owe money to a person who is not connected to the system, the service will issue them a paper check.
Reminders A Reminder feature automatically tells you when a bill is due. You specify the number of days in advance you want to be notified. When you start your computer, the program displays a message letting you know if any bills are due.
Income tax estimator Compare how much you are actually paying in taxes to how much you should be paying to determine whether you are on track for the year.
Investment manager Now that you have a budget and are saving loads of money, you may decide to invest that money. If you do, an Investment Manager feature can help you keep track of how your investments are doing.
Financial advice Some personal finance programs, such as WealthStarter, offer financial advice to help you if you need life insurance or are contemplating how much you should be saving each month to send Junior to college.
Loan calculator Most personal finance programs come with a loan calculator that you can use to determine loan payments and figure out just how much interest you will pay. You enter the principal of the loan (how much money you want to borrow), the annual interest rate, and the term, and the program figures out the payment, how much goes toward paying off the principal, and how much you pay in interest.
If you’re shopping for a personal finance program, try Quicken for Windows. If you have a CD player, get the CD edition. It comes with interactive financial advice (including video clips), an online financial course called Finance 101, a mutual fund finder, invest¬ment advice, and much more.

Taxes? Taxes? We Don’t Need No Stinking Taxes
Speaking of personal finances, you can also get programs for doing your taxes. In TurboTax, for example, you enter your name, the amount of money you made, the number of deductions you can claim, and so on. The program determines which forms you need to fill out and how much money the IRS owes you or how much money you owe the IRS. And because all the forms are linked, you enter a piece of information only once; TurboTax copies the information to the appropriate forms. For example, you enter your name and social security number only once, and it is placed at the top of every form and schedule.
If you used a finance program, such as Quicken, during the year, you can import informa¬tion (such as your salary, business deductions, and contributions) from your Quicken file. This saves you from having to retype the information.

Tax Advice and Mock Audits
Unlike paper tax forms, your electronic form allows you to play with the numbers. In fact, tax programs offer suggestions on how you can save money. For example, the program might suggest tax deductions you haven’t thought of, or it might find that you are eligible for earned income credit. Whenever you’re done filling out the form, simply enter the command telling the program to analyze it and suggest additional tax savings.
If you’re afraid that your tax return will be audited for some reason, have the program do a mock audit for you. The mock audit checks for obvious omissions (such as social security numbers for children), and it determines if there are any numbers on your return that might raise a red flag. For example, the IRS might question that $10,000 sack of clothes you donated to Good Will last year.

Filling Electronically for an Early Refund
If your computer has a modem, you might be able to file your return electronically, and receive your refund in less than two weeks! You usually have to pay a fee to file electronically, because you can’t just send your tax return to the IRS. No, that would be too easy. Instead, you have to send the return to a company that sends it to theh IRS. You also have to mail a paper copy of the return (signed and dated, of course) to the same company, so it can keep the complete return on file.
If all this sounds appealing to you, file the return electronically, otherwise, just print it out on paper, sign it, and mail it to your local IRS office (before April 15).

Popular Tax Programs
The most popular (and widely considered the best) tax program is TurboTax. It is easy to use and offers the help you need to find the deductions you’re entitled to. You might spend a little more for TurboTax than you would for other tax programs, but you’ll more than make up the money in your refund.
Other good tax programs include Kiplinger’s TaxCut (running a close second to TurboTax), Simply Tax (which seems to get better every year) and Personal Tax Edge.

The Least You Need to Know
Whether you’re a financial wizard or a blue-collar worker just trying to stay solvent, you can benefit from check-writing and tax programs. Just keep the following points in minds:
 There are two basic types of money-management programs: personal finance programs and tax programs.
 Personal finance programs keep track of income and expenses and help you budget your money as an individual
 Many personal finance programs come with financial tools, including a loan calculator and an investment manager.
 Tax programs can help you fill out your 1040 form, provide tax-saving advice, and even perform a mock audit

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to
GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183
Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

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