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Don’t Let March Madness Get the Best of You

March brings about changing weather, shamrocks and college basketball. Word to the wise, don’t use March Madness as an excuse to bet all your money on basketball. Turn March Madness into the perfect reason to get more organized around your financial life. Since March is the height of tax season, this is a great opportunity to evaluate your priorities for the year because you’ll already be getting everything in order. Despite the madness, we can help make this a simple and sane process.

Step One: Make those free-throws.

Use your tax return as a guide to evaluate where you stand with growth. As you gather those 1099’s, and complete those Schedule B’s and D’s, you are seeing the impact of your savings and growth decisions for the last year. Did you gain or lose? What are the tax implications to those choices? Are you turning over your portfolios more than necessary? These are all great questions to ask your financial adviser. Having a touch point to evaluate where you are and to determine if you are still on the right track helps you to make the right decisions for where you are now. It's hard to predict the future, so focus on what is the most efficient strategy for the next year. Also, consider if your choices in savings and growth are coordinating effectively with the other areas of your financial life, like protection, debt and cash flow.

Step Two: Take advantage of turnovers.

Think of a refund like a turnover opportunity. You have a chance to alter the rest of the game. If you are getting a refund, first consider adjusting your withholdings so you have more money throughout the year rather than loaning it to the government. Having said that, if you are getting a refund, consider using it to reinforce weak areas in your financial situation rather than blowing it. For example if you didn’t have the chance to save 15% of your income throughout the year, use your tax refund to jump start your savings for the next year. Or, put that money toward properly protecting all of your assets, which may be a higher priority for you than savings. Getting points on the board creates momentum for the rest of the year.

Step Three: Take the open shots.

Make sure you are taking advantage of tax credits and deductions available. Do you know which ones you qualify for? This can make a big difference. Tax credits exist to help taxpayers, and many of these exist for middle to low income households. Figuring out which credits apply to you will make filing taxes much less painful. Don’t forget about tax deductions either. There is nothing worse than realizing you missed some deductions that would have lowered your tax bill after you’ve filed.

Don’t let the madness of your finances get out of control. Talk to your Leap Adviser about how the Leap Model and Strategic Process can create a sane, sound, simple approach to your financial life.

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