Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Don't Forget to File Your Taxes!!!

The staff are part of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Consolidated Tax Center, which opened for business during a formal grand opening Jan. 20 on the Fort Myer portion of our joint base. The center provides cost-free federal and state income tax return preparation and e-filing for military personnel and families during the 2016 tax season.

The tax center will not be able to provide some services that it did last year.

1. Only individual tax returns, not business tax returns, can be prepared due to regulations.
2. The following personnel will not be able to use the tax center's services:
              a. Those earning more than $300,000 per year
              b. Retired reservists who are not yet drawing their pensions.
              c. Reserve component members who are not on active duty for more than 29 days.
3. Activated reserve component members will need to bring a copy of their active duty orders to the CTC as proof.

The tax center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the JBM-HH Consolidated Tax Center, call 703-696-1040 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MYERTAXCENTER.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Need Financial Assistance? AER May be the Way to Go!

 Army Emergency Relief (AER) was incorporated as a private nonprofit organization on 5 February 1942 under the laws of the District of Columbia for the purpose of collecting and holding funds to relieve distress of members of the Army and their dependents.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Military Saves Week 2016

“Military Saves Week (February 22 - 27, 2016) is an annual opportunity for installations and organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for Servicemembers and their families to assess their own saving status. Typically hundreds of organizations participate in the Week, reaching millions of people.” (Military Saves.Org)

Savings can help you achieve any financial goal. Whether it’s a comfortable retirement, a down payment for a house, or a new car or stereo, you can get there by setting money aside. And best of all, you can have what you want without getting bogged down in debt.

Yet if you’re like most people, you don’t save as much as you’d like to. Or you don’t save at all. Americans spend more than we earn. Consider that the national personal savings rate has dipped to the lowest point since the Great Depression. Today’s high energy, home and food prices may make saving seem less possible than ever.
The time is now! With a little forethought and effort, saving money is not only possible, it’s easy.

Make Saving a Priority

You’ll be more likely to save money if you make it a priority. Sit down and figure out what you’d like to save money for – retirement, a house, car, college, and dream vacation –and how much it will cost. Then make your plan:
  1. Set a timeline for when you’d like to reach your goal.
  2. Set a schedule by dividing the total goal amount by the number of weeks, months or pay periods between now and your goal date.
  3. Be vigilant by treating your savings contribution just like any other must-pay expense, such as rent or groceries.

Find Money to Save

While it may seem difficult sometimes just to make ends meet, chances are you have extra money you didn’t even know about. Here are some ways to find it:
  1. Keep track of everything you spend for a week. You might be surprised what you’re buying, and what you can do without.
  2. Make purchases with cash. This can help you stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases. Simply decide ahead of time how much you want to spend and then set aside that amount in cash before you go shopping.
  3. Lower your bills. Many creditors will give borrowers a lower interest rate if they’re asked. Also, conserving electricity and gas can make a big difference.
  4. Rank your nonessential expenses. Keep the ones you like the best and cut the items on the bottom of the list.
  5. Pack a lunch. Cook more dinners at home. Eating out at restaurants can eat up a lot of money that could be saved.


Monday, December 7, 2015

2015 Creative Gift Giving Ideas

By Ms. C. Moss, Information and Referral Program Manager

Unless your last name is Vanderbilt, Buffet, Gates, or Rockefeller, gift giving can be overwhelming by any standard. The process of buying, swapping, or creating homemade holiday gifts can be mind-numbing even to the best-intentioned person. Gift exchanges should be encouraging, heartfelt, imaginative, fun and most of all, enjoyable. In a virtual world, I am sure that there will be an app to help us achieve all that. For now and for the rest of us, the right approach to tackling this conundrum can makes this a rewarding experience all around. To help you maintain some sanity, some dignity, and possibly a little bit of money check out these strategies that will keep you on track and help you to give gifts without the drama. Make gift-giving more unexpected, appreciated, and meaningful! 

For Loved Ones

Go in on a gift with (and for) your loved ones. Here is a thought try renting a medium sized cabin or a wonderful vacation rental for the weekend after the holidays or going on a beach escape together, particularly one that you have been dying to try out. Share the cost all around so that everyone is contributing to the gift giving and not just you by your lonesome. 

Purchase repetitive gifts. Predictability is a good thing when you are on a tight holiday budget. This only works if you have a recipient that enjoys getting that Swiss Alps Super Chocolate Sampler or the Cigar of the Month box every year. If your budget allows, try changing up the selection by seeing what else that same sponsor company has for the same price. If you are a frequent purchaser of items from this company, it does not hurt to write to the company and let them know how you enjoy their products. Sometimes, they may even surprise you with a gift of their own for being such a valued customer when they reply back.

For Colleagues

Play holiday trivia and do the White Elephant at the same time. This is a tricky one, but helps you to achieve your goal in one shot. If you name all nine of Santa’s reindeer, you get first pick of the presents in the pile. Players simply raise their hands to answer. Once they get a present, the game is over for them. The competitive edge - the game moderator gets to either choose the last gift remaining or steal a gift from somebody else. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? 

Reduce the guesswork. Have gift recipients send you their wish list. It is just that simple. Eliminate the riddles, the mystery gifts, and the self-induced headaches. The recipient will be ecstatic, you will be relieved, and everyone can still be friends until the end. Win–win all around!

For Loved Ones and Colleagues That Think You Are Rich

Be honest. Tell loved ones and colleagues ahead of time that you are going to cut back this year. Changing your spending habits will make this statement easier to say when the time comes. If you make the change gradually, you will see the difference it will make. Let your loved ones and colleagues know as early as possible that you’d like to give and receive less. Stand your ground and be confident in your decisions to do better this year. 

Get crafty with the craft exchange. For those that don’t know it, handmade ornaments are “in” this year. These ornaments should be light enough to hang on the tree; not tip it over so it can light your whole house on fire like a fireball rocket. It should be fun, imaginative, and cost effective, but elegant. Each guest should bring a kit to the party and then exchange it, so that everybody takes home a handcrafted ornament and gets a new project to start on in the New Year.

With the unexpected gift-giver. Should you receive a gift by an unexpected gift giver, do not panic. Once the shock and awe of it all wears down and you gain your full composure, please say ‘Thank you’ to that person. Be super-appreciative, but be advised that you do not have to reciprocate. However, you may have just made a new friend. Go you!

For All Others

Adopt another family for the holidays. Instead of buying gifts, sponsor a disadvantaged family in your area. Have your family volunteer together to make this a meaningful gesture for all involved. If you have kids or teens, talk to them about the difference the gesture can make to the other family and make sure they’re okay with giving up presents. You can find a disadvantaged family through your local Salvation Army branch, which will provide a wish list to shop from. 

Pet present exchange. Incorporate your pets into your holiday festivities and celebrations. Dress up your pet in holiday garb (if they let you), then gather with your friends and their pets to share gifts. This idea works best if your pets like and get along with the invited pets.

Be a charitable secret Santa. Make a $20 donation to a charity your recipient would support. It makes a more meaningful gift than another stocking stuffer and helps an organization that may need your support.

Disclaimer: Links to external and non-DoD resources are posted in the common interest to the military community and does not imply Department of Defense endorsement of a commercial entity.