Archive for May, 2014

#5 - Do It Yourself!

#5 – Do It Yourself!

Depending on when you filed your return for 2013 you have probably had your tax refund for a couple weeks now or if you filed by paper you are probably just receiving it in the mail. Us at Againstiflow thought it would be a good idea to write up 5 tax reminders to remember for next year. A lot of money changes hands between the government and its citizens from February to the middle of April each year and we figured maybe this would help you keep a little extra in your pocket.

1. Student Loan Interest

Student loans are at an all-time high nationwide. The only good news about student loans is that Uncle Sam has setup tax savings out there to motivate recent loan recipients to pay down their debt. If you have any student loans you can write off up to $2,500 a year on the interest you have paid. In a perfect world people with student loans should pay them off ASAP to maximize the yearly tax benefit they receive and to eliminate their debt faster.

2. Moving Expenses

I know, as a college graduate, I told myself that I would go wherever a job took me. Good news! Uncle Sam has setup tax benefits for people who move and don’t get reimbursed for their relocating expenses. To deduct these expenses on your tax return your new job has to be more than 50 miles away from your old home and you have to work full-time for 39 weeks during the 12 months following your move.

Expenses you can deduct following your move:

  • Mileage for driving your car to the new location
  • Packing materials
  • Rent cost and gas for moving truck
  • Lodging

3. 401k Credits- Saver’s Credit

It is never too early to start planning for your future and your retirement. Why not now? If you haven’t started, START NOW!!! If you are single and make less than $29,500 in a year you are eligible for the Saver’s Credit.

4. Paid Tuition – American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is perfect for students who are going to school part time and trying to finish their bachelor’s degree. The credit is for students that are not taking a full load of class and are in the first four years of their education. Students who are eligible may qualify for the maximum credit of $2,500. The Lifetime Learning Credit can amount to $2,000 in tax savings. The Lifetime Learning Credit has no limitations. It can be used to pay any tuition no matter the field of study.  It can be used towards graduate school tuition or if you want to just take a class for fun.

5. Do it yourself!

At minimum filing your own tax return online will save you $200. I get it, I know it can be intimidating and you want to be sure that you get the maximum refund, but that is what the software is designed to do. The software walks you through everything and simplifies the process by asking yes or no questions to cover EVERYTHING. Not only will you save money by completing your return, but it will give you the opportunity to learn about future tax savings. DO IT YOURSELF!!!

GHS TeamI grew up playing team sports, mostly soccer, and still do to this day. The most successful teams I have been a part of had a core group of players that were very close. We were all on the same page, which allowed us to work well together. We were selfless – meaning no one individual was bigger than the team. No one was afraid to set up a teammate that was in a better position to score. It’s the little things that push the team to achieve the big goals. The best teams don’t always have the best players, but the best teams have players who are willing to give the glory to their teammates for the success of the team.

In relationships you are forming a team. How can this two-person team perform to its highest potential? First, you cannot put yourself before the team. You have got to be willing to make that extra pass for the easy goal instead of trying to make the ESPN Top 10.  That is part of being selfless. If you go into every day with a selfless mindset your team will see the most success. Having a selfless mindset and saying “How can I be a better (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend) today?” is one of the most important parts of the relationship.

When you put yourself above the team things begin to go south. If only one of the two is being selfless in a relationship then the one will become resentful of the relationship and will eventually begin not to care. The same thing happens in sports. If one player thinks he is bigger than the team it can tear the team a part. No one wants to put in the extra effort for a teammate that doesn’t care about them.

Every piece needs to be clicking for success. But things will break down at some point – whether that is from a bad performance in sports or a moment of weakness in a relationship.

Relationships are not perfect and there is no perfect formula. Things will break down every now and then, but when they do THE TEAM needs to work together to fix it. That is the only way the relationship can get better. Mistakes are a given! They are going to happen! So, even if you are the one that didn’t mess up and you are upset….remember you are going to mess up at some point too. Forgiveness.

How do you respond when your teammate messes up? Do you complain and whine? That only compounds the problem. They need encouragement and at the very least constructive criticism. When you feel the team or relationship becoming divided put your pride aside and you be the first one to step up and say something. I know it can be tough in the heat of the moment…but times of difficulty are HUGE opportunities for growth as a TEAM. The best way to learn is through mistakes, but to learn from them you have to work together. Take advantage of those opportunities as a team and grow closer.

In your relationship think about how you can better serve the other half. If you are both striving to be like Christ then you are on the same page and you will find common ground. When you have that figured out the fruits of the relationship will begin to blossom. That is why God gave you teammates…use your teammate or lose your teammate. Wake up every day with an attitude of, “How can I make my teammate better?”

“In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” -Philippians 2:5

The idea of a greater being, a creator, an all-powerful God is a wild thought for some people, which is completely normal. It is crazy to think about. In this universe there are so many things that are indescribable. Did you know that the Earth could fit inside the Sun 960,000 times? Now that is ridiculous. Think how small you are compared to the Earth. Well, the Earth is tiny in the grand scheme of the universe. It is nothing. There is another sun out there called Canus Majoris and it is the largest KNOWN star. The Earth could fit inside Canus Majoris 7 quadrillion times. If the earth was the size of a golf ball, Canus Majoris would be the height of Mt. Everest! Go to Mt. Everest, put a golf ball at the bottom, and look up…let me know how that makes you feel. Before we move on lets think about how big a quadrillion is:

  • A million seconds ago takes us back to 12 days ago.
  • A billion seconds ago takes us back to 1982.
  • A trillion seconds ago….that’s got to be the 1500s…..how about 31,709 years ago.
  • A quadrillion seconds ago takes us all the way back to 30.8 million years ago.

And 7 quadrillion Earths could fit inside this one star!! That blows my mind…on to the next one.

This example was portrayed to me one time and I thought it was awesome. Someone drew a circle and told me this circle represented all the knowledge in the universe. They then told me to shade in the amount of knowledge I thought I already knew. I put a dot. I graduated from college, but there is too much knowledge out there for me to even think about. The possibilities of this universe are endless. We are still discovering more and more each day that we didn’t know the day before. The point of this circle was to say that if we only claim to know this much (whatever you shaded in) who is to say that there is not a God?

Now, imagine you are walking down the beach. Something shiny catches your eye slightly buried in the sand. You reach down and pick it up and it is a nice shiny watch. You are in disbelief…how in the world did this watch just get created. Your first thought is probably that the watch was created through some chemical reactions, bonding of molecules, and the sand grinding together. I am kidding…someone had to have created that watch. In the same way a watch had to be created by a creator, it would only make sense that the same thing happened to us. The human body is a quadrillion times more complicated than a watch!

This earth, this universe and everything in it are simply indescribable. I know everyone has challenged his or her faith at some point because there is so much we do not know, but it all comes down to the simple story of a man named Jesus. He is the reason I love others because He first loved me; He is the reason I forgives others because He first forgave me; and He is the reason I pursue relationships with others because He first pursued a relationship with me. He is indescribable.

Watch Louie Giglio’s- How Great is Our God (not the shortest video, but really good)