The SmartyPig Blog

Furnishing Your Home on a Budget

Doors can seem mundane, but they are actually have a major impact on the look and feel of your home, simply because of how common they are. Making changes to your doors can really make a difference in your decor. There are a lot of ways to decide on which kinds of doors to use in a home, and using SmartyPig can help you save for whatever door you ultimately decide to go with. In this article, we will talk about how to let your personal touch and style come through in your door choices.

The first thing to consider is your goal for the house. Decide on what kind of mood you want to set, and take into consideration the location and architectural style of your home. For example, in the suburbs, it doesn’t take much to stand out and show a little sophistication if you have a standard home, but if you have something more elaborate like a Victorian, then you should probably conform to the house’s overall style in order to avoid an abrupt difference between the doors and the rest of the house.

The next thing to consider is the home warranty. Home warranties typically cover things that are considered essential for the home, like appliances, but not cosmetic changes like doors. So do not expect that your warranty will cover the cost of installing new doors or the risks of damage from such a renovation. It is unfortunate, but true. If you really think that your warranty will cover doors, then it might be worth checking, but the vast majority of them have no door coverage.

There are several styles that really stand out well and are very trendy. For example, barn doors are becoming very big. They bring a rustic feel into a home, but they are not intrusively rural, so they fit into just about any style home. If the rest of your furniture is rustic, you have exposed stone, brick, and hardwood floors, and you are wondering about where to do next for your design choice, then a barn door is an excellent choice. You can get them painted in any color, so that is another way you can customize them to fit your style. Barn doors fit in a variety of places and they are always eye-catching.

This leads into the next point. Be sure to consider the existing furniture and appliances before settling on a door. Doors can look very good when they fit well into the decor, but if they do not jive with the other furniture, then they can stick out oddly. If you plan to bring in new furniture, it might be a good idea to do that first before tackling the doors, so you can see what the rest of the interior looks like before settling on a door. Choosing a door should fall in with the overall theme of each room and the house itself.
Choosing a new door is something that a lot of people overlook when it comes to interior design, but the effect can be quite significant if done right. Sure, it can be expensive, but don’t forget to create your specific financial goals with SmartyPig to help out with that. All it takes is some care and planning to make sure the new doors go well with the style of the home. As long as you are comfortable with the look and you feel that it reflects your personality, then adding in new doors can make just as big a difference as new furniture. Changing your doors at the same time as the other design elements is a great way to complete the look in a way that most people wouldn’t expect. Look into the possibilities of adding new doors- you will be impressed by what you find.

BIO: David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about real estate tips, home maintenance and DIY home repair.

 

Gift Your Favorite Graduate With SmartyPig

Weekends are starting to fill up with high school graduation parties. And college students will soon take flight into the “real world.” As announcements arrive in the mail, you’ll want to provide these graduates with something to acknowledge their accomplishments. High school students don’t need a plethora of towels or laundry baskets to take with them to college, and college graduates might enjoy cash, but the morning after a big night out may leave them with empty pockets.

Help get high school and college graduates started out on the right foot with a SmartyPig gift card. Maybe it’s a goal for the deposit on their first apartment, a trip to Europe, or even their first home. Whatever it is, the first step is a crucial one. And if it is in the direction of good financial habits, that’s really a gift that will keep on giving. Available in $25, $50, $100 and $500 denominations.

Gift your favorite grad the gift of savings this spring. The SmartyPig way.

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
SFoss@SmartyPig.com

How Are You Using Your SmartyPig?

Trip to Colorado to visit Family! – Nisha

Downpayment on a house… takes so long! – Miranda

Our Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas next Feb! – Allan

A nice vacation to Atlanta, Georgia – OwlsFan954

I am saving for a rainy day! – KrisKFindlay

I am saving so I can travel to Hawaii to visit my brother. – Amazin_Allure

Dad Gifts Made Simple With SmartyPig

Now that we’ve recovered from showering the moms of the world, it’s time for the dads to take a turn. I’ve always felt moms are easy – flowers, pedicures, breakfast in bed. But what do you get the fathers of the world?  The men that when asked if they’d like anything for Father’s Day reply with, “eh, nothing.” At least this is the response from the men in my life.

So with little to go on, why not just get the special dads in your life the opportunity to buy what they really want in lieu of another tie or golf ball set? SmartyPig’s Retailer Gift Card selection includes many father-friendly favorites like Bass Pro Shops, Best Buy, iTunes and Crutchfield. Cashing out a goal is easy, and the best part… the cash back of up to 11% in your pocket when you buy your gift cards with us.

Make this the best Father’s Day yet for that special dad (and you too!) Check out SmartyPig’s Retailer Gift Cards and give the gift that fits everyone.

Wishing you successful saving.

Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
SFoss@SmartyPig.com

Streamline Your Estimated Tax Payments Using SmartyPig

 

If you’re among the approximately 15 million self-employed individuals in America, the dreaded tax deadline looms upon you not just once, but four times each year. Why is this? Traditional employee wages are subject to payroll taxes on an ongoing basis so that by the time tax day arrives, most of these employees will have already appeased Uncle Sam with their tax dues. Self-employment wages, on the other hand, are not subject to this withholding, so affected taxpayers are responsible for making quarterly estimated tax payments on these wages to account for both income tax and self-employment tax. Making late or inadequate estimated tax payments can not only result in a jaw-droppingly hefty tax bill but could subject you to penalties of even larger tax dues.

If the idea of scrounging around for tax funds four times per year has you up a creek without a paddle, come up for air, because SmartyPig can help you think ahead and make the entire process of estimated tax payments a breeze.

Create an Estimated Tax Goal

The four estimated tax deadlines each year fall in April, June, September, and January. The payment for the current year’s first quarter wages is due in April, and the payment for the fourth quarter is due in January of the following year. Don’t wait until April to prepare for your first quarterly payment! Instead, you can create a new goal in SmartyPig in January for your first quarterly estimated payment. Give the goal a clear, identifying name such as “Q1 Estimated Tax Payment 2015.” Choose a goal category of “Miscellaneous” so that the goal is not confused with other savings goals. As you receive your pre-taxed wages, you’ll become your own payroll administrator, allocating a percentage of wages earned toward tax payment by contributing them to the SmartyPig goal you created. You can use the IRS’ guidelines to help you calculate your estimated tax payment.

Allocate Funding Early

If you tend to spend your paychecks as you receive them, waiting until the end of each month to allocate funds to your tax payment goal may be too little, too late to make a sufficient tax payment come the first deadline of the year. If so, consider apportioning a percentage of your wages to your SmartyPig tax goal as soon as you receive your paycheck so that it is clear that those funds are off the table for use. If, on the other hand, you think you can hold out until the end of the month, you could apportion a one-time bulk contribution for that month to your SmartyPig tax payment goal. SmartyPig goals also offer recurring funding options so that you can efficiently automate your contributions. Regardless of the allocation schedule you choose, give high priority to your tax payment in your overall budget and don’t leave tax payment as an afterthought to other spending.

Stay Disciplined

As you diligently accumulate tax funds in your SmartyPig goal, it can be tempting to see dollar signs and want to cash out on those earnings, especially with the incentivizing boost of SmartyPig’s interest rates and redemption options—but leave those tax funds where they are! When you create your estimated tax payment goal in SmartyPig, you can set an estimated goal completion date that falls in the month of the tax payment deadline. Setting a long-term goal date will help you recognize that this goal is not be closed until later and that its funds are not short-term funds for daily spending.

Plan Ahead to Redeem Funding

When you have met your estimated tax payment goal for the quarter and are ready to close your goal, keep the tax payment deadline in mind or circle it on your calendar so that you leave enough time for the funds in your SmartyPig goal to be redeemed for payment use. When you redeem a goal to a bank account through SmartyPig, remember that it funds will be transferred back to the checking or savings account from which they first originated. This process normally takes just 2 business days but should not be left until the night before the tax deadline if you need the funds imminently for tax payment.

Take Advantage of EFTPS

Once you have redeemed your estimated tax payment goal funds back to your bank account, you are ready to pay the IRS without hassle or worry. The IRS offers various payment options for estimated tax payments, but the simplest and most streamlined option by far is EFTPS, the IRS’ Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. After you enroll in EFTPS and receive your login credentials, you are ready to initiate a simple, online payment through EFTPS. Enrollment in EFTPS can take time, so if you plan to use this option, ensure that you enroll well before the tax deadline to avoid last-minute payment delays. Going out of town on the tax payment deadline? Relax! You can schedule your EFTPS payment in advance so that it posts by the deadline. Using SmartyPig, your next estimated tax payment will be your most fret-free encounter with Uncle Sam yet.


Manasa Reddigari is a freelance writer with a minimalist approach to personal finance that she enjoys sharing with readers like you.

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