Standard Deduction for 2013: Why It's Often Your Best Deal

Want to save time and money? The standard deduction can be your best bet. Find out why here.

Mar 23, 2014 at 3:06PM

Itemizing deductions can be a real pain. As you consider your options this year, looking at the standard deduction for 2013 can save you a lot of time and actually produce bigger tax savings. But how can you figure out if the standard deduction is right for you?

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, goes through the standard deduction for 2013, noting that single filers get $6,100 this year, married joint filers get $12,200, and those who file as head of household get $8,950. Dan also points out that those who are 65 or older or are blind get additional standard deductions of $1,500 for single filers or $1,200 for married filers in 2013. In deciding whether to take the standard deduction, many families find that their itemized deductions are actually less than the standard deduction amount, making the standard deduction a no-brainer. Yet even those whose itemized deductions exceed their standard deduction for 2013 by a small amount can sometimes choose the standard deduction to avoid recordkeeping and other issues. As long as you don't cheat yourself out of a huge tax benefit, taking the standard deduction makes taxes a whole lot simpler than itemizing.

Why you need big deductions
The standard deduction is just one way you can fight tax increases that took effect at the beginning of 2013 and affected nearly every American taxpayer. With the right planning, you can take further steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," The Motley Fool's tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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