Meet my friend, Julie Hardell. We share a deep love for many things—our church and serving there, the ocean, a circle of girlfriends we’ve shared for more years than either of us prefer to admit, and the birthday month of March. One of my favorite memories with Julie is of us chasing dolphins on paddle boards in the ocean. But there is one thing we do not share and that is Julie’s gorgeous head for numbers.
As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for over 30 years, Julie has specialized in taxes for corporations, partnerships, trusts, individuals, and family businesses. All of which more than qualifies her to figure out the tip on our girlfriend group birthday dinners, how much we all owe for our share of a beach house rental, and to be the standing Treasurer for CRBC’s Gift Goes On fundraiser. However, she takes care of all of us as if doing so was every bit as important as caring for her more high-profile clients. Since it’s tax month, I thought this would be a good time to get some free financial scoop from my Christ-following, money-minded friend…
FAITH & FINANCES
VB: So Jules, I’ve heard there is more than 2,000 verses on money in the Bible – more than on any other topic. Why do you think money is such a big deal to God?
JH: God knows the human heart and wants to give us principles to live by that help us stay on the right path. He knows money is an area of struggle and we need some extra guidance. It’s probably also about our selfishness and need to control. Letting go is hard. If I tithe/give, I won’t have that money for myself…
VB: How should our faith impact how we think about money?
JH: Our faith should remind us that what we have comes from God (and we should act like it!). Yes, we might have worked hard at our job to make money, but Who provided that job? Our faith should also remind us that God hasn’t given us what we have just for ourselves, but to bless others. (This explains Jules’ generosity and multiple third world mission trips!)
VB: What are your most practical budget tips?
JH: First, stay aware of your spending. I’d recommend regularly tracking your expenses. Whether you use an easy program like Quicken or a simple EXCEL sheet, you’ll be amazed at what you actually spend on things like eating out. Do I really want to be spending ____ on lunch, or would I rather cut that amount in half by taking my lunch some days and using that money elsewhere? Quicken even itemizes your Credit Card expenses, making it easier to track and stay on top of your expenses.
Second, if you don’t already, consider using auto draft for all your regular bills. Knowing those amounts are automatically withdrawn from your bank account takes you out of the bill paying loop, ensuring they get paid and you never have to pay late fees. Knowing money is automatically withdrawn also keeps you from spending on other things when you know the money isn’t in your account.
VB: How would you recommend we gather items to prepare taxes?
JH: Every year I set up a tax folder for that year. (EXAMPLE: 2019 Taxes) Then during the year, as soon as I get them, I drop in documents I’ll need for tax prep - W2s, Year End Statements, Charitable Receipts, etc. Then before taxes are due, I run a Quicken report on our Charitable Giving and make sure I have receipts for everything. This is one of the reasons I really like Quicken! If there was a small gift, I look for a record on our Bank Statements and place a copy with our Charitable Giving receipts. It’s so much easier to collect documents as they come.
VB: Any good tax saving tips for us?
JH: Sure. Claim tax credits for education and retirement savings contributions (saver’s credit), as well as childcare and dependent care expenses. There’s also a child tax credit and a dependent credit for other dependent children over 18 and elderly you care for. If you’re saving toward college, you can put money aside in a 529 Plan (among others). This money will come out tax free as long as it is spent on college. Of course, there’s charitable deductions too.
VB: What types of charitable deductions might we not be aware of?
JH: Mission Trips - you can claim some costs like airfare/travel. Mileage to some charitable meetings and such is another thing people don’t think about—Deacon’s meetings and meetings associated with ministries and places you volunteer. It’s not much—maybe 14 cents a mile—but it’s something to pay attention to if you’re putting on lots of ministry related miles.
Another thing to consider is whether to take what’s called a Standard Deduction instead of taking an itemized Deduction. Make sure you choose the method that will most benefit you.
Smart, isn’t she? I knew you’d want to meet Julie. She has been a huge blessing to our church, working in several departments and serving on some of our standing committees.
If you’re looking for tax advice, you can find Julie at EY (Ernst & Young) in Oklahoma City. If you’re looking for a good friend, I’m willing to share. Just look her up in the halls at Council Road Baptist Church.
More About Julie!
Julie has a BBA and a MA in Accounting with an emphasis in taxation from Texas A&M University. Currently a Tax Senior Manager in Ernst & Young's Oklahoma City practice, she has worked with public and private companies in the financial services, energy, manufacturing, and retail/distribution industries. She and her husband, Marty, are the parents of 2 young adult sons and have been active members at Council Road Baptist for almost 30 years. Julie has served as a member of the CRBC Finance Committee and on several foreign mission trip teams. She has also served in leadership in various departments such as Married Adults, Youth, and Vacation Bible School.
Meet the Author!
Bible teacher, author, inspirational speaker and disciple-maker, Vickey Banks is passionate about helping women connect the dots between God’s Word and their everyday lives. She loves serving as Women’s Ministry Director at Council Road, celebrating her people, playing with her puppy and getting lost in a good story.