Valdosta Daily Times

January 12, 2014

The biggest things I learned in 2013

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — I am often complimented on my responsibility by my peers. It’s flattering, and I love accepting the compliment because I work really hard to live the life I lead, but I am by no means perfect. At 25, I am fiscally responsible, have a career as opposed to a job, am going to graduate school, have a roof over my head and a car to my name, but, I am still learning.

In fact, I did a lot of my learning when I moved to Savannah 10 months ago. In light of the new year, here are some things I learned last year, and hopefully, you can learn something from them, too.

1. Moving for employment is tax deductible.

If you moved due to a change in your job or business location, or because you started a new job or business, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses if you meet all three of the following requirements:

• Your move is closely related to the start of work.

• You meet the distance test: Your new workplace must be 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was from your old home. If you had no previous workplace, your new job location must be 50 miles from your old home.

• You meet the time test: If you are an employee, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months immediately following your arrival in the general area of your new job location. If you are self-employed, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months immediately following your arrival in the general area of your new work location. There are exceptions to the time test in case of death, disability and involuntary separation, among other things.

For specifics on what items are considered tax deductible, visit

2. Know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.

One of the biggest things I learned this year is figuring out when it’s time to walk away from a purchase or a big financial decision. After moving to Savannah, the hubs and I were under contract for a house (as I’m sure you loyal followers recall). After interest rates soared, we decided to back out of the contract because the monthly mortgage payment would not have been in line with our determined monthly budget. Walking away from a dream purchase like a house or car is really difficult to do, but when you are able to do so, it’s pretty satisfying. In retrospect, Cameron and I look back on that moment with a sense of pride. It’s important to always know where you stand with your finances, so you don’t get in over your head.

3. Put your health over your wealth.

When I first graduated college, I thought I was invincible. All I cared about was the money in my pocket and I didn’t like things to chip away at that money ... Health insurance was one of those things. After getting married, the hubs and I did not have very good health insurance. We paid for the bare minimum and didn’t fully recognize how that was hurting us financially. After I took a job with the university system nine months ago, I was given the opportunity to purchase top-line health insurance. While the monthly cost was significantly more than what I was used to, I have noticed a significant decrease in my expenses as a result. My co-pays are cheaper, my medicine is cheaper, and when I have procedures or surgery (which I have had to already do twice since moving here), I walk out with virtually no bill. While the monthly expense may seem large on paper, it’s worth it.

4. Live in the future and not in the moment.

OK, I know that sounds completely backwards, but in terms of money, it’s a good philosophy I have taken on this year. I used to only care about what I had, and this year, I have learned to care more about what I want. For example, in Valdosta, I was paying for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment just for me and my husband. We really didn’t need all that space, so when we moved, we got a one-bedroom, one-bathroom. Sure, the transition was difficult, but it caused us to downsize our belongings. Now, we are surrounded by things we truly love and care about, and we are creating a nice nest egg for the future when we’ll need that extra space. In short, evaluate your goals and make sure that your current actions are not a detriment to your future ambitions.

5. Sometimes, decisions are better made with your head.

While living with your heart is important, there are some occasions that call for the brain only. Your financial well-being is one of them. Last year, I had to leave my job as a news reporter because my husband found a better opportunity in Savannah. While my heart told me to stay, my head told me that being an adult is about making responsible decisions. While I don’t want to tell you to take a job you absolutely hate for more money, I am telling you to weigh your options. Sometimes, you have to take your heart out of the equation and do what is best for your family and not just for you.

Well, budgeteers, those are just a handful of life lessons that I will be carrying with me throughout 2014. Don’t forget to like me on Facebook at and follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany