Holiday Reminders for Home Computer Users:
Guest Accounts, Pictures, Contacts, Deals, Tax & Finance
Everybody's calendar is getting busy with holidays coming up. Here are a few suggestions and reminders for as we move toward a new year.
If you have family visits and others might be using your computer, consider activating the "Guest Account" feature on your computer.
If the "Guest Account" is active, you let a home visitor use your computer they can do so without knowing your password but the risk of their installing anything insecure on your machine will be reduced.
This is a good time to get your contacts list organized for sending cards or pictures. If you plan to send pictures or greetings by email, there is less time pressure to do this early, but it's worth getting this task on your calendar before holiday invitations snowball!
This is a good time of year to clean up email contacts, to update software to new versions, and to organize files and folders that may have piled up during the year.
If you need to speed a computer bought within the last few years, if you have a "tower", this time of year you might consider adding memory - a local computer shop can do this for you.
However, computer prices have come down so much that it may be more economical to purchase one new.
Prices on new computers, tablets, smart phones, and other gadgets are at an all time low, so you can get great deals on electronics.
It looks like most of us are getting hit with a ton of offers for huge savings on computers, tablets, smart phones and all kinds of electronic devices with the holiday season coming upon use!
This link to a google search I did for Black Friday computer prices will display a sampling of promotional pages and sale prices at the moment.
Here are a few tips if you're considering whether to keep your existing computer or migrate to a new one.
If you're looking at getting a new Windows 10 computer, most people I know here locally in Ocala have been going to BestBuy for good deals.
New "all in one" "tablet" "laptop" and "flexible configuration" computers are very popular right now. Be aware, though - compact sized mobile computers and devices can be difficult to upgrade. If you're not getting a tower, which is easy to upgrade with added memory and ports, then you need to buy a computer with a fast enough chip and enough RAM to perform well for the lifetime of the machine. Towers on the other hand are much easier to upgrade over time.
Be watchful if you're getting a super bargan price, regardless of what style of computer you buy. Generally the chip speed, the amount of memory, and the quality of components - especially on the motherboard - are reflected in the base price.
If you're needing a new computer but don't want Windows 10, you can get new or refurbished computers with Windows 7 newly installed through Abba, the shop I deal with nearby on Highway 200. I've purchased numerous computers and devices from them over the years and have been more than satisfied.
So long as your existing computer is performing well doing the things you expect, it still makes sense to keep using it and do all you can to maintain it - running periodic security and maintenance scans to keep it from getting slow or buggy.
One final thought - about BACK-UPS: You'll thank yourself in the future if you do regular backups. You can use a flash drive or external hard drive, or you can use an external "cloud" service. There are special programs and built-in Windows utilities to do back-ups, or you can simply use Windows Explorer or File Explorer to do them.
If you plan to migrate to a new computer, doing a thorough back-up in advance will make the transition easier.
If you plan to stay with your existing computer but you've had it for awhile, doing a back-up makes sense just as a precaution against the hard drive going bad. Hard drives are partly mechanical and materials to deteriorate, so hard drives do eventually malfunction. Back-ups are the one way you can ensure against personal files or important information you have saved on your machine.
Most new computer-related devices are made to use wireless connections, usually WiFi and sometimes Bluetooth.
Most of the newer modems and routers from companies like BrightHouse and CenturyLink now include a built-in feature called "WPS" - WPS makes the job of setting up new wireless connections go faster than ever.
It's a good time also to clean up and clear space in your computer work area if necessary.
Finally, this is the time of year that many of us get our Quicken and TurboTax software updated. Typically you'll get an email reminder from Intuit Software about Quicken and TurboTax updates when they become available.
If you have changed computers, this is a good time to make sure that your previous Quicken or TurboTax backup files are retrievable.
TurboTax users - for your convenience, here is a calendar of key dates I received from Intuit:
2017 is right around the corner, and that means two things: itís time to buy a new calendar, and tax season is almost here. Once you have that new planner (or just your phone!) handy, check out these important tax dates and deadlines. Mark these dates so you donít forget!
First, the basics:
Open Enrollment for Marketplace Insurance: November 1, 2016- January 31, 2017
If you need health insurance for 2017 you have three months to enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Want your coverage to take immediate effect by the New Year on January 1, 2017? Select your plan by December 15, 2016.
Deadline to Maximize Your 401K Contributions: December 31, 2016
Whether you are self-employed or work for an employer, you have until the end of the year to maximize your 401K contributions, saving you money for retirement and on your taxes.
W-2s and 1099-Misc Start to Arrive: January 31, 2017
You should start seeing your W-2s and 1099s arrive in the mail.
Tax Year 2016 Tax Deadline: April 18, 2017
Itís the big day! Individual tax returns are due for Tax Year 2016, so be sure e-file or postmark your individual tax returns by midnight local time. The regular tax return filing deadline is April 15. However, due to April 15 being on a Saturday and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday being observed on April 17 instead of April 16, 2017, Tax Day is on the following Tuesday.
Last Day to make a 2016 IRA Contributions: April 18, 2017:
Itís not just Tax Day! If you havenít maxed out your IRA contribution for 2016, you can make contributions to a IRA by April 18, 2017 to lower your 2016 taxable income!
Self-Employed? Know Your Quarters!
4th Quarter 2016 Estimated Tax Payment Due: January 17, 2017
If you are self-employed or have other fourth-quarter income that requires you to pay quarterly estimated taxes, make sure your payment is postmarked by January 17, 2017.
1st Quarter 2017 Estimated Tax Payment Due: April 18, 2017
If you are self-employed or have other first-quarter income that requires you to pay quarterly estimated taxes, send in your first quarter estimate by April 18, 2017.
2nd Quarter 2017 Estimated Tax Payment Due: June 15, 2017
3rd Quarter 2017 Estimated Tax Payment Due: September 15, 2017
Hope this information is helpful.
Arthur K. Burditt III