1040-tax-form Image courtesy of our friend PT of PT Money (www.ptmoney.com)

 

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Tax season is hitting full-force here in the US! Our taxes have been done since early February, thanks to my own OCD record-keeping and our accountant’s desire to get us in and out as early as possible each year, what with our 80 streams of income and all that.

But after a couple years of paying in some hefty figures around this time of year thanks to self-employment taxes and some other strangeness, this year, we are getting refunds from both state and local.

Those checks hit my bank account this week, and as I share my financial update for this month, I thought it might be a good time to talk about tax refunds – and the best plans for them!

[Here's a look at our plan for March and beyond...!]

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mba-degree

mariana-zanettiThis is a guest post by Mariana Zanetti, who earned her MBA degree from one of Europe’s top business schools and has more than 12 years of international marketing experience in three countries. She is the author of The MBA Bubble and shared this post in response to an earlier Man Vs. Debt post by Joan titled Do You Really Need That Master’s Degree?

When my Harvard MBA colleague told me that I should pursue a “top” MBA program twelve years ago, I did not doubt it. “Don’t worry,” he said. “For the important things, money will not be a problem.” So I applied, I was admitted, and I enrolled in the MBA program at one of the top European business schools.

Some years later, I met all the professional goals I had set for myself: I had a high-paying and challenging job in a large and prestigious company. However, my MBA was one of the worst mistakes of my life and a huge waste of money. No, I didn’t really need to spend a fortune to get that MBA degree.

My colleague’s advice was well-meant and sincere. But I followed the advice of someone who had not needed to worry about money, as his company had financed his tuition. I learned later that everyone should definitely worry about money and debt, even if going to Harvard.

I am not saying that MBAs are useless, but they are pretty close. Except for a few exceptions, these programs have no influence on the graduates’ careers. Yes, MBAs get higher paying jobs. Yes, the MBA network is a great asset. Yes, you learn some interesting business concepts at business school from brilliant professors. Yes, employers value the degree in your résumé.

[So how can the degree be a bad idea, then??]

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nascar

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

For those of you who didn’t spend Sunday watching the Daytona 500 – and bemoaning its 6.5-hour rain delay and multiple 8-car-plus crashes – well… you have my sympathy. (And my apologies, because you probably aren’t going to like today’s post if you’re not a NASCAR fan!)

I’ve been an auto-racing fan since high school. I grew up going to local dirt tracks, and a NASCAR race was the first professional sporting event I ever attended.

So while spending Sunday trying to watch the race AND get some work done, it occurred to me I could multitask… and share some personal-finance advice for those of us driving toward financial freedom!

[It all starts with knowing your track...]

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gift-wrapping

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

One of our readers shared the following story and question with me, and gave me permission to share it here:

I’m trying to downsize and get rid of my crap to pay off my debt.  I also don’t like clutter so I want to get rid of my stuff so my family of 3 can comfortably fit into 1100 square feet. But my father-in-law is the king of crap, and gives us stuff we’ll never use and never need. I have 2 hammocks (and live in an apartment), a circular saw, tons of memorabilia from our alma mater, garden gnomes, at least 3 universal remotes (for my 1 television), water skis, and tons of other stuff I can’t even think about. They were all gifts from him and he’s a very generous person, but in the past we’ve tried to explain to him that we don’t need this stuff and never use it. We would rather he save his money for retirement but told him if he insists on getting us anything, just give us the cash instead. But he doesn’t listen. I would feel bad getting rid of the stuff since it was a gift, but I just can’t use it. Is it OK for me to sell this crap as well? Or am I obligated to keep it since it was a gift?

We’ve talked around this issue here at Man Vs. Debt several times, but never addressed it specifically, so I’m thrilled to be able to share my take on this today.

[So SHOULD you sell unwanted gifts?]

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busy-schedule

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Are you committed to your financial goals?

I am… and it’s turned into a little bit of a problem this month.

You know I’m a huge fan of side hustling to make extra cash. With some major changes in our family’s financial situations in the past three to six months, in order to meet our debt-payoff goals and not eat up our savings, we’ve had to get creative.

And in great news, I’ve had the opportunity to pick up quite a bit of extra work.

[And that's where things get a little questionable...]

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budgeting-basics-irregular-fund

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

To kick of the year, last month I shared two “Budgeting Basics” posts about one of the most important topics in personal finance – the emergency fund.

This month, I’d like to address an issue that confused a lot of people in those posts: IRREGULAR EXPENSES.

Specifically, what’s the difference between an irregular expense and an “emergency,” and how do you deal with things that aren’t exactly every-month bills but don’t fit the definition I laid out for an emergency, either?

[That's where the irregular fund comes in...]

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