Nicole Lapin is a veteran financial journalist, serving as an anchor on CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg. Her first book Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together...Finally ($21) was published in 2015 and you can follow Nicole on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at NicoleLapin.com for smart financial advice and unconventional money tips.
I like using a step-by-step process for anything I try to accomplish—especially in the realm of managing money—because it prevents you from having an anxiety attack when you don’t accomplish everything all in one day. Like with learning any new skill, things need to be broken down into easy, manageable stages, so that you’re tackling one thing at a time. When I did my taxes for the first time, I didn’t set aside one day to do them—I set aside an entire month! Day one: Un-crinkle my receipts. That was it. Success! If I had told myself I needed to sit down and do all my taxes and not get up until they were done, I would have panicked and found myself on the couch with a pint of Häagen-Dazs, taxes be damned. This is not going to happen to you on my watch. Baby steps, baby.
Here are three things to consider in 2015 to get the most out of your taxes AND maintain your sanity.
If you're like many fashion girls, you're either freelancing full-time or, at least, taking in a few extra gigs on the side. Make sure you save receipts for making photocopies, subscriptions to job posting websites and fashion magazines, and even your subway fare or gas money. As long as these expenses are legitimately work-red, they are tax deductible—meaning more money coming back to you after you file.
If you spend most of your time working from home, say as a fashion blogger or private stylist, you might be able to deduct part of your monthly rent, your internet/cable bill, even your utilities. It’s a great way to offset some of the costs of keeping up your “office,” and you can then use that windfall to reinvest in your budding brand.
You heard right: Something good can come from your student loan payments. If you went to fashion or art school and are still paying down student loans, you’re usually paying off interest, which is tax deductible. Tax deductible is a fancy way of saying it helps reduce the amount of money that Uncle Sam takes a percentage of. So, the less money you claim, the less money in taxes you pay. Remember: Reducing your tax liability is a good thing.
Extra Tip: Guess what? If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you’re late. Just kidding—you’re not late, but you are behind the ball. The IRS began accepting individual returns on January 31, and some people have already gotten their refunds back. With e-filing and direct deposit, it’s faster than ever to get from filing to accepting that big ol’ check—and you can track the whole process online with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. The sooner you get your money back, the sooner you can put (some of) it toward all of those items you picked out at fashion week!
Urban Renewal Recycled Overdyed Wool Jacket ($79)
What other financial questions do you have for Lapin? Let us know in the comments below, and she just might answer yours!