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Archive for April, 2009

God help me, I’m having a garage sale (and not wearing a fanny pack)

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

God help me, I am going to have a Garage sale aka yard sale, aka garbage sale as I lovingly refer to them.  Not to say the things we intend to sell are garbage, There is actually quite a bit of good stuff like a whole doctors choice queen size bed with frame, a working 32 inch TV and some other good stuff.  It all came about because people in the neighborhood decided to have a neighborhood wide garage sale.  At first we weren’t going to participate but we really want to pour a patio and it just hasnt been fitting in the budget.  So now the goal is to get as much money as possible to put toward the patio (and get rid of some stuff in the process).

Its been a while since I have had a garage sale but I remember some strategies that helped last time.

Its all about Location
– We are on the edge of town so if we were doing it by ourselves it wouldnt be worth it.  Since the entire neighborhood is involved we will be much more likely to get people out and about.

Planning What You Will Sell–  We will probably spent a decent amount of time just sorting through things to figure out what we want to sell.  There are a few big things that we know of, but other than we really need to sit down and figure out what we want to try and sell.

Advertise–  This is another time that having a multi family sale is helpful because everyone can help advertise.  Put signs up, put an ad in the paper, advertise at grocery stores, on stickboards and wherever else you can think of.

Pricing–  When you have a yard sale you should be prepared for some pricing negotiations.  Keep that in mind when you price your items.  I have heard from several people that roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost of the item new can be a starting point.  The advantage of prepricing is that it will save a ton of time on the actual sale day – and the annoyance of constantly having people ask how much something costs.

Money–  Something to keep in mind is that you will have to make change for customers.  Its probably a good idea to have a fair amount of change to start.  Ive seen some tips on the internet to ‘wear a fanny pack.’  As it is not 1990 and I still have some dignity, I do not intend to wear a fanny pack.

Have power available for electronic items – If there is a TV, but no way to plug it in and test it, are you really going to buy it?  Really?

Anyway I will report back with our earnings when it happens.  Come on patio!

Ten tax audit flags to be careful of (very careful)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

 tax audit

Every year there are only 2% of all returns audited by the IRS but I promise you, everyone in that 2% is absolutely miserable.  There are several ways that your return might get flagged; there is the initial computer evaluation of it for accuracy, the computer evaluation based on a formula and finally the good old fashioned random bad luck of the draw.   So what are some of the things that might trigger an audit?

1. Making more money
If you make more than 100k, you are at higher risk.  Surprise, surprise.  Then again, those that make over 100k probably aren’t complaining about it.

2. High charitable contributions.
This shouldn’t really surprise you.  If Bob makes 50k a year and you make 50k a year, but Bob claims 1/3 of what you do for charitable donations, guess who is more likely to be audited?

3. Using round numbers
Dont round up.  Dont round at all.  It looks very suspicious if everything is neat little numbers.  “I spent 5000 on my home office.”  Yeahhhh…

4. Lying about income
The. IRS.  Will. Find. Out.

5. Screwing up the forms
This is why it really makes sense to use a tax software.  It’s dumb to make mistakes on a form that could flag you when there is so much good software out there to make life simple.

6. Home office / Self employment
The IRS loves to go after people that claim a lot of home office deductions.  I actually went out of my way this year to not put income from this blog into a home office category, because the little bit of money it might have saved me is not worth the greater risk of being audited.  Maybe next year when one of you donates me a ferrari for a work car, then Ill go ahead and get on top of that home office deduction.

7.  Fuzzy Math
Add your numbers correctly.  Better yet, lets talk again about that whole ‘tax software’ thing.  Seriously though, if you add incorrectly, the IRS computer will catch it, and you get to board the train to auditville.

8. Mistyping Dependent information
Make absolutely sure the kids social security numbers are in there correctly, or the IRS computer will most definitely flag it, and you better believe they will follow up on that one.

9. Missing Information
If things are missing, it will get a personal review.  Person reviews lead to audits.

10. Low income
If you are statistically lower than other people in your occupation, it will raise some major red flags.

Good luck everyone, ‘here’s to many happy returns!’