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  • T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan (Sponsored Post)

    This post is sponsored by Savings.com and contains affiliate links (thank you for using them!). You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan | chieffamilyofficer.com

    Have I mentioned that my oldest is going into fifth grade this year? And that I’m a little freaked out about finding him a good middle school placement? And about middle school in general?

    I’ve watched his older friends and their parents navigate that road this past year, and one thing I’ve noticed is that this is the time when most kids get their own cell phone. It makes sense, because as your child becomes more independent, it’s reassuring to be able to reach them at any time, and for them to be able to reach you. It’s such an easy way to let them know you’re running late, or for them to tell you that they’re ready to be picked up. Plus, they’re at the age when they want to be in constant contact with their friends.

    Knowing that this is on the horizon for us, I’ve started scoping out options. We might add a phone to our existing plan, but it’s a grandfathered plan that’s great for me (unlimited data!) and not for new lines. So it’s nice to know that there are alternatives like the T-Mobile Simple Choice plan, which starts at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and 1GB of 4G LTE data (and there are no overages or annual service contracts).

    Here are the highlights, which makes this a great plan not just for kids but for adults too:

    • Unlimited calls and text to and from any number, including mobile phones, in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. You can also use your monthly 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada (like in the U.S.) at no extra charge!
    • Music Freedom™ with unlimited music streaming on the T-Mobile network from top services such as Pandora and iHeart Radio without using your data (this is huge for kids!)
    • Unlimited data and texting when you travel to any of 120+ countries and destinations so you can stay connected when you’re abroad (I wish I’d had this when I was in Japan!)
    • Wi-Fi Calling makes every Wi-Fi connection work like a T-Mobile tower
    • Smartphone mobile hotspot lets you use your device as a Wi-Fi hotspot
    • Add a tablet or hotspot to existing plans for $10 per month
    • Upgrade to the latest devices earlier and more often while also protecting your investment with Premium Handset Protection® and Lookout Mobile Security® Premium ($10 per month)
    • Data Stash™ rolls your unused 4G LTE data forward to the next month, for domestic use in the next 12 months (available with 3GB and 5GB data options)

    Get the Simple Choice Plan here for just $50 per month!

    Have you given your child his or her own phone yet? How old were they, and what kind of plan did you get?

    Taxes: To Pay or Not to Pay?

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Okay, the headline is slightly deceiving, but only slightly. You see, a lot of people don’t realize that they have a choice about how to pay their taxes. And that’s probably a good thing, especially those who fill out their own forms every year. The simpler, the better. Mistakes can be rather costly. But if you are the sort that likes to have a bit more control over your finances, then you do have some flexibility in how you pay your taxes. Here are some of your options:

    Pay as Much as You Can Throughout the Year

    You know that big refund you get every year in the first quarter? The reason you get it is because you overpay throughout the year. You are giving the government an interest-free loan. Once a year, they give you back the principal overpayment. They keep the interest. Now, it’s not like you don’t get anything out of the deal. Dumping money into higher income tax is like setting up a little savings account. Every year, you can look forward to receiving a chunk of money from the government. Though it means you are paying the government a lot more than you need to, it feels like the government is paying you. Suddenly, that new computer you have been eyeing is within your grasp.

    When you are filling out your tax forms for work, you have a few choices. You have both deductions and exemptions. If you list a lot of deductions, more money will be withheld from your paycheck. If you have chosen more deductions than you need to, that represents the money you get back in the form of a tax refund. That overpayment is what they are refunding. Treat your tax payments like a savings account, and it’s Christmas in Spring.

    Pay as Little as You Can Throughout the Year

    This is where you will want to exercise those exemptions. Are you the head of the household? Never mind what that actually means or implies. If yes, you have an exemption. Married filing jointly? Disabled? These exemptions reduce the amount of your income that can be taxed. Count more exemptions that you actually qualify for, and you will be paying in the Spring instead of celebrating. Even so, it will only be one payment. For the rest of the year, you will bring home more money each pay period. That is like giving yourself an eleven month raise.

    Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be

    The most elegant tax move is to receive nothing and pay nothing in April. That means you have chosen the perfect balance of deductions and exemptions. You are taking home the maximum amount of paycheck you can without owing anything later. Achieving that perfect balance often requires professional help, which is why so few people manage it.

    It is best to get local CPAs and other tax specialists to help with this, as state taxes have to be factored into the equation. Tax law varies from state to state. The tax services Orlando has to offer will provide the local expertise in that market. The same is true for the services in your local area. Zeroing your tax bill is not the only reason you will want professional help:

    Business Taxes

    With few exceptions, if you are a business owner, you have to pay as you go throughout the year. If you are self-employed, you are also responsible for self-employment tax covering services like social security and medicare. According to irs.gov, if you have employees, your employment taxes include:

    • Social security and Medicare taxes
    • Federal income tax withholding
    • Federal unemployment (FUTA) tax

    It is possible you could pay estimated taxes, or even quarterly taxes. You probably can’t afford the mistakes you might make by trying to DIY your taxes without a tax professional’s assistance.

    Bottom line: You’re going to pay your taxes. You can pay them so that it feels like you are getting an annual bonus. Or you can pay them so that it feels like you are getting a monthly raise. Just remember, you are not stuck with your decision. Regardless of how you filled out your employment paperwork, you can make changes at any time during the year. You can save even more if you venture beyond the EZ form. Local tax professionals are standing by.

    Blue Bunny Summer Savings

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for clicking through them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Blue Bunny wants to help you keep the good times rolling this summer with some frozen treats! This coming Sunday, August 2, there will be a hot coupon in your local newspaper for $1 off one Blue Bunny cartons, sandwiches and bars. (Those of us in NV, ND, CA, ID, KS, LA, MN, TN, WI, and CO will receive a $0.75 off one coupon … don’t ask me why. I wish I knew! And this offer is unfortunately not available in DE and WY.)

    Whether it’s the signature Bunny Tracks, classic Simply Vanilla ice cream sandwiches or irresistibly fun Mini Swirls, ice cream aficionados throughout all 50 states can choose from tantalizingly tasty Blue Bunny ice cream flavors and a delectable collection of cones, sandwiches and bars.

    Blue Bunny products are made in Le Mars, Iowa. Blue Bunny uses fresh milk sourced from local dairy farms and turns it into delicious ice cream within 24 hours! For more information about Blue Bunny, visit www.bluebunny.com.

    How to Save Money and Reduce Stress During a Big Move

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    From the pilgrims to the pioneers to the people of today looking for better opportunity, America is a nation of movers. In fact nearly nine million Americans move out of state every year. Relocating can be a complicated affair – especially with a family – but scores of us pull it off every year. Unfortunately, it always seems like you have two choices to get it done: opt for expensive but efficient professional movers, or undertake the stressful, strenuous experience all on your own to save money.

    Moving across state lines or even across the country doesn’t have to be a debate over which of two undesirable situations to choose from. It’s possible to save money and cut down on the stress at the same time. Here’s how:

    Collect boxes destined for the trash from friends, family, and associates

    There’s no reason anyone should be buying boxes for their big move, especially if money is in short supply. The planet is packed with discarded old cardboard boxes ripe for reuse as moving containers. Maybe one of your kids works part-time in a grocery store, where boxes are plentiful. Or you’re friendly with the cashier at the local drugstore. Ask for spare boxes. Why not?  Then all you’ll need is a few dollars’ worth of packing tape and you’re good to go.

    Use materials you’re packing anyway as padding

    Boxing up vases and other common fragile household items calls for cushioning. Skip the messy and overpriced packing peanuts. There’s no need to go out and purchase packing material when you can use man of the items that you’re going to be moving with you anyway. Blankets, pillows, towels, and even zip top bags can be used to keep your family heirlooms china from meeting an unfortunate end in a DIY move.

    Meet movers halfway

    Not everyone has the money to hire a team of professional movers to do all the work for them. Equally so, not everyone has what it takes for a cross-country voyage at the helm of a rented moving truck, or steering a hitch through stormy weather with kids in the backseat. Strike a compromise by having a moving and storage container dropped off in your driveway. Move boxes and furniture into the container or containers at your own pace, then have the company pick it up on moving day – all for roughly half the price of traditional pro mover arrangements.

    Make sure your cars are roadworthy

    New tires, replaced brake pads, fresh oil, topped off coolant, and realigned steering are just some of the inevitable aspects of owning a car. If repairs and maintenance are pending on your vehicles prior to a big move, be proactive and get the work done beforehand. The prices you can get from your choice of local mechanic are going to be a lot lower than those of a service shop off the interstate making their living from desperate travelers.

    Avoid buying expensive snacks on the journey

    One of the hidden costs of moving a long distance, especially with a family, are the overpriced goodies we stock up on every time we pull off somewhere to fill up our gas tank. Like the service shop off the beaten path, these little gas stations make their money mainly from those potato chips, fountain drinks, and hot dogs. Avoid spending an extra $100 on snacks on the road by buying them at the grocery store prior to leaving.

    Americans are a people who like to move. We all mostly descend from long distance movers when you think about it – it’s in our blood. Getting it done the cheapest, easiest way possible is also in our character. Usually we end up having it one way versus another – but it turns out moving can be as easy as it is fairly priced if you know what you’re doing.

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