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10 Tax Deductions and Credits You're Overlooking

Hate wondering if you've missed tax deductions or credits? To help you out, I've put together a list of the ones that are most commonly overlooked.

Don't you hate it when you're doing your taxes and think, "Am I missing any deductions or credits? Is there any other way I can keep more money in my pocket?" Trust me, it happens to all of us at some point. To help you out, I've put together a list of deductions and credits that are most commonly overlooked or forgotten.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information. 

If you don't find what you're looking for here or you have a specific question, I highly suggest popping over to TurboTax and using their free Q&A search bar. I almost always find the answer I'm looking for and trust me, as a self-employed businesswoman, I've got a lot of questions!

Here is a list of tax deductions and credits you may be missing.

1. Child and Dependent Care Credit

This is different than the child tax credit, which parents typically receive once their child is born. The Child and Dependent Care Credit applies to you if you paid for child care while you were actively working or seeking work. (I should note that you can't claim this credit if you're married filing separately.) The amount of credit you can receive is a percentage of the amount you paid based on your adjusted gross income.

2. Refinancing Mortgage Points

Mortgage points are considered prepaid interest on your mortgage. If you paid them when you refinanced, then they may qualify for a deduction. Each point if worth 1% of your loan amount, so if you refinanced your mortgage and paid 1 point on a $100,000 loan, then you will pay $1,000.

These points can be deducted but must be done over the life of the refinance term. So if you refinanced for a 15 year mortgage, then you will deduct those points over the next 15 years.

3. Job Hunting Costs

Searching for a new job can cost both time and money. Fortunately, you may be able to deduct some of these expenses on your federal income tax return. To qualify for this deduction, you must be searching for a job in your current occupation. You can deduct expenses such as employment agency fees and travel costs incurred while searching and interviewing for jobs.

4. Moving Expenses

If you recently moved to start a new job or relocate to a new location for your current job, you may qualify for a moving expenses deduction. You must meet certain requirements, such as resuming employment soon after your move date, moving at least 50 miles from your current home, and working full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months following the move.

5. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) 

This credit is given to those making a low or moderate income. Whether or not you qualify depends on your income amount, your filing status, and the number of dependent children. You can find a table here that may help you determine your eligibility.

6. Student Loan Interest Paid for By Parents

In this case, the IRS treats interest paid by parents as money that is given to the child, which is then used to pay the student debt. And since the parents aren't liable for the debt, they cant claim the deduction themselves. As long as you (the child) are no longer claimed as a dependent, the deduction is yours up to $2,500!

7. Out of Pocket Charitable Donations

In order for you to receive a deduction, you must make a donation to a non-profit organization that has been approved by the IRS. These donations may be in cash and/or non-cash form. For example, you could claim a dresser set donated to your local Goodwill. However, you must be able to provide written proof of your donation. For example, if the IRS approves of your local church or Goodwill, you can't simply donate $100 in cash and try to take a deduction without proof that this donation occurred.

8. Personal Property Taxes

Annual personal property taxes (for example, on your car) may be deductible. In order to qualify, you must list itemized deductions on your federal income tax return and meet all the local requirements. Since these taxes are often imposed by local governments, it's important that you are thorough in your research for what exactly may apply to you in your exact location.

9. Reinvested Dividends

If you are automatically reinvesting your mutual fund dividends in extra shares, you are likely increasing the "tax basis" in your fund. This "tax basis" reduces your taxable capital gain when you eventually end up selling your shares. Essentially, if you fail to increase your "tax basis" when you have the chance, it means you will overpay your taxes on the sale of those shares so take advantage while you can.

10. American Opportunity Credit

This credit is for any qualifying college or university student to help them reduce their taxable income while they're paying for the cost of higher education. As of the year 2015, you may claim up to $2,500 for adjusted qualified education expenses (such as tuition, enrollment fees, textbooks, etc.).

It's such a disappointment to realize you've overlooked a credit or deduction. Don't let this happen to you! If you think you may qualify for something, don't be afraid to ask for help.

What tax credits or deductions have you overlooked in the past? 

How to Discuss Finances with Your Spouse

Not sure how to discuss finances with your spouse? I've got some great tips to help you keep your cool and open the lines of communication.

How do you discuss finances with your spouse? Does it resemble date night or a fighting match? Do you look forward to it or is it dreaded? Marriage is a beautiful, if not slightly complicated, union of two people who may or may not have the same spending habits. Are you a saver who married a spender? Vice versa? In either case, it can be hard to consistently find your goals and spending patterns on the same page.

We all know that "money talk" is necessary in a marriage and I've got some great tips to help you keep your cool and open the lines of communication.

How to Talk About Money with Your Spouse

Schedule a Money Meeting

If it isn't on the calendar, is it actually going to happen? Carve out the time on your schedules, turn your phones off, and look at your finances together. Remove all distractions! If you have children, arrange for a babysitter or keep them busy with an activity.

Perhaps one of you feels like you're the only one who really looks at the finances while the other runs around spending money you don't really have. Routine meetings will encourage transparency and get the two of you on the same page.

Money Meetings are also a great time to start any of these wonderful financial habits or work on that credit score so you can join the 800+ Credit Score Club.

Listen and Then Listen Some More

Pay close attention to what your spouse says about their financial goals in addition to taking note of their overall relationship with money. Do they obsessively watch every penny you spend? Or are they spending all of the money in your accounts like there's no tomorrow?

Our spending habits are always formed by something, be it an experience or learning curve. Is your spouse overspending as a result of loneliness or worry? Are they an extreme tightwad because of a difficult financial experience in the past? Perhaps there are deeper issues that should be addressed.

Whether you're the saver or the spender in your relationship, it's important to hear both sides.

One exercise I recommend is to write down your financial goals or worries separately and then share them when you're ready to begin your money meeting. This encourages each spouse to be truly honest about what they're trying to accomplish.

Change Your Mantra to "Yours, Mine, and Ours"

There is no One Size Fits All when it comes to the best way to combine debt in a marriage. Fights can certainly get sticky, especially if one partner feels as though the other indebted partner needs to be solely responsible for whatever they owe.

"What's Yours is Mine" should be your mantra for the most united way to attack that debt. Perhaps your spouse came into the marriage with a $5,000 credit card balance and this frustrates you. But now that you're married, that debt is yours too. The sooner you embrace it and work together to pay it off, the faster it'll get done and the sooner you can move on from your debt guilt.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Lying or hiding debt and spending habits can cause serious marital issues. If a spouse discovers their partner was hiding something, it not only exposes a financial problem but a trust problem as well. What is a marriage without trust?

It may be painful and your partner could be angry for a while, but come clean with any debt you've been hiding. Also, joint bank accounts don't work for everyone but it's one of the fastest ways to create transparency and encourage trust in a financial relationship.

Play the No Blame Game

Blame is a dangerous thing to play with when it comes to discussing finances with your spouse. It can be easy to say what your spouse did (or didn't do!) when something doesn't go according to your financial plan. But you're in this "for better or for worse" so create a united front and tackle any problems together.

And don't be afraid to take a short break if the conversation during your money meeting becomes too heated. It's important that the two of you work things out but there's no shame in stepping away for 15 minutes so things can calm down.

Celebrate Together

Having the money talk isn't always fun. But if you follow it up with something exciting, you'll be more willing to do it every week or month. For example, after every routine money meeting share a bottle of wine or go out for a date afterwards.

You may not have accomplished all of your goals in that one conversation but you are communicating freely and that's something to celebrate!

Dealing with debt or financial worries is never fun or easy. Having a spouse to help you carry those burdens can take some of the weight off. Nurture your financial communication the same way you would nurture all other aspects of your marriage.

How do you communicate with your spouse? 

15 Activities to Help Survive a Spending Freeze

Is your budget on a spending freeze? Use these FREE activities to help pass the time!

Every once in a while the family budget finds the need for a spending freeze. Maybe you want to save for something special or you need to pay off a debt. Either way, putting your spending on hold can be hard...really hard!

We've survived enough of these bad boys to find that there are plenty of free activities to help pass the time. In fact it gets easier to save money the more you practice looking for a free way to pass the time. Nowadays we most of these activities even if we're not on a spending freeze.

Related Post: 7 Tips for Socializing on a Budget

1. Board Games Gather all your favorite games and make it a competition to see who wins the most rounds. Monopoly is a downright Olympic sport in this house. My husband could play that game till the cows come home.

2. Sports Go get some fresh air and play your favorite sport. I always forget how much I love playing football and tennis until I'm on a spending freeze.

3. Cooking/Baking Is there a new recipe you want to try? Or two or three? If you don't want the extra food in the house after you've eaten your fill, wrap up a plate and bring some over to your neighbor. They'll love you for it!

4. Free TV Sometimes a spending freeze means turning off your cable or even (gasp!) Netflix. Take advantage of free online episodes that are available on network websites. Just check their official site to see what they have. My favorites are CW, CBS, and NBC.

5. Hiking/Local Park We are certainly an outdoorsy family! If there's sunshine, you can bet we're hiking or hanging out at the park. Some of our favorite hiking trails were found spontaneously when we were trying to save money.

6. Favorite Hobby Love to sew, draw, paint, play an instrument? This is the perfect time to practice the hobby you love or want to learn!

7. Go Camping Find a free campsite or just camp in your backyard. No need to make things fancy! It's all about doing something outside of your normal schedule in order to avoid boredom.

8. Library Events Our local library offers free Spanish classes, computer classes, children's storytimes, Guest Speaker events, and many others. Check with your local branch to see what they offer.

9. Free Museums Some museums are completely free of charge and some offer free admission on particular days. Our local museums offer free admission every Thursday. We've taken advantage so many times! And don't forget to check your local universities. Sometimes their campus museum is free to the public as well.

10. Playdates These are easy to set up and completely free. And they are such a lifesaver when you've been in the house all day and need a change of scenery.

11. Movie Marathons I have a friend who once rented all of the Twilight movies from her local library and had an adult slumber party where they watched one after another! That sounds a bit exhausting to me but it's free.

12. Fire/Police Station Tours Years ago I set up a tour of our city fire truck for our local children's program. The kids were so excited, it was like they had won the lottery! Check with your local fire or police station to see if they offer tours. Your kids (and your spouse too!) will be thankful you did.

13. Picnics Make lunch a little more exciting by taking it to your backyard or to the local park. The sunshine will make you happy and it won't cost you a dime.

14. Visit the Lake or Beach If I could visit the beach every day I would! Grab a good book and sunscreen on your way out of the house and enjoy a mini vacation.

15. Zoo Free Days Our local zoo is free to all visitors every first Tuesday of the month. Check to see if yours does something similar. If they do, be sure to leave early enough so you can avoid the crowds!

I remember the first time we went on a spending freeze so we could purchase a new Mac computer. The concept was just so foreign to us. I laugh when I think about how difficult it was at first!We were so young and weren't used to limiting our shopping or the number of times we went to the movies.

Each one of these activities has thankfully helped us break the habit of spending unnecessarily. Hopefully they can help you pass the time without spending a penny too!

What activities do you use to survive a spending freeze?

Linked Up

Top 5 Money Saving Apps

I love saving money so much that I almost won't buy an item if it doesn't have a coupon. I just hate paying full price! Worrying about paper coupons can take up so much time and space in your life. But I'll bet you probably have your phone with you most of the time! Downloading a coupon app is the easiest way to save money without worrying about a paper trail. Check out my top 5 money saving apps for finding a discount or saving money.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more information. 

  1. RetailMeNot
  2. ShopSavvy
  3. Savings Catcher by Walmart
  4. Cartwheel by Target
  5. Zulily
  6. Groupon

RetailMeNot

Hands down, this is the best coupon app I've ever used! I like to "Favorite" all of my frequently visited stores so they're the first thing I see when I open the app. This helps me avoid the juggling act of holding a baby and searching on my phone at the same time.

They carry deals from over 50,000 retailers for both in-store and online purchases and also offer restaurant coupons. You can search by the nearest deal to your location, by a business name, or by a particular categories.

ShopSavvy

This app is going to save you so much time! Find any item you like in a store, scan it in the app, and it will tell you if there's a lower price available somewhere else. We've all got better things to do than to run around looking for the cheapest price. Let this handy tool do the chasing for you.

Savings Catcher by Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is brilliant for creating this. Each receipt you get at a checkout contains a barcode that you can scan into the app. It will then go over every item you purchased, and if someone else has a lower price advertised that day, Wal-Mart will refund you the difference.

I received $3.00 back the very first time I used it. I shop at Wal-Mart before I go anywhere else every single time now!

Cartwheel by Target

You know when you go into Target for 2 items and come out with 14?  This might help you save a little money so you don't have to feel too guilty. I especially love the great Women's Apparel discounts they offer.

Searching for a coupon for a specific item can be really time consuming. But Cartwheel has a feature that lets you scan the item to find out if there's a discount available. Then, you can add all of the coupons you want to use to your own personalized barcode and the cashier only has to scan it once.  Talk about an easy-to-use time saver!

Zulily

I've scored some ah-mazing deals on Zulily! You can see what sales are coming up and also set a reminder to check them out when they go live. They post a new deal every morning at 6:00 PST sharp.

Zulily's children's section in particular is always out of this world. There's so much Christmas or birthday gift potential! My kid could have a room full of clothing and toys just off of this app alone.

Groupon

We all know what Groupon is and how easy it can be to find some great savings! I've always purchased their deals for my local restaurants but they also have some pretty great options in their Groupon Goods and Groupon Getaways categories. In fact, some of their all inclusive resorts look pretty tempting...

I have never been a paper coupon user because I just don't have the time or the energy to cut them out and then carry them around. But using a coupon app takes all of the hassle out of saving money. I wish there was some way I could add up all of the discounts I have received over the years because it would be a large figure!

What money saving apps do you use?  What are your favorites?