Review Category : Family

When You And Your Spouse Just Can’t Agree About Money

It starts with the small arguments. You don’t agree on where to eat out on a date night during the weekend. Then it turns to small petty arguments with not being able to agree on whether to paint the family room that has been all scratched up by the kid’s toys. Ultimately, it leads to full scale arguments about issues on whether to send the kids to private or public school, whether to vacation in Hawaii, and potentially doing a complete bedroom remodel 10 years after you have lived in your home. Although you tied the knot and agree it would be until ‘death do us part’, there are many nights one of you goes to bed before the other simply over the fuming battle about money. Money creates interesting behaviors in all of us.  Some of these feelings were ingrained is us as children based upon the way we were raised.  Some of us came from nothing and our ...

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What Happens To My Frequent Flyer Points When I Die?

When a loved one passes away, there are often many financial matters to deal with in the estate planning process. Often, you have to deal with collecting life insurance policy proceeds, closing out bank accounts, and dealing with the transfer of IRA and 401(k) accounts. In most families, there is also lots of discussion over possessions including automobiles, jewelry, or other collectibles. But, what about all of those frequent flyer points? Will they continue on to a beneficiary or just drift away into a black hole of frequent point oblivion? Before we discuss various programs and what the potential outcomes are at death, let’s talk about some best practices. Most families don’t even really track their miles or points. This is why we encourage people to use the online personal financial dashboard with oXYGen Financial because you actually have the ability to track all and any point programs to know exactly what you have. It’s not a great idea to ...

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Want To Get Wealthy? Try A Budget Cleanse!

There is so much discussion out there on the internet about picking stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds, and mutual funds.   It’s dizzying to sort through the thousands of articles to really ascertain whether indexing is better than active or value is better than growth.  When you think about building wealth, the discussion centers primarily around ‘asset management’, and which assets categories to own to grow your overall net worth.   However, being an expert in the X and Y generation, the next 20 years of financial planning should be much more centered about your ‘cash flow management’ rather than your ‘asset management’. Since we have moved to a society where largely all transactions move through some sort of electronic currency.  For most of you that means debit or credit cards, although we know that many forms of mobile financial technology are developing to easily allow two entities or people to transfer cash to one another.   Rarely do people write checks today ...

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Should I Leave My Kids A Million Dollars

Just the other week, I had one of the more interesting conversations with a client which sparked me to write this article. I’ve never been the kind of advisor that wants to ‘sell’ my clients insurance. I have always felt it to be best to implement risk management products for the best cost possible or utilize insurance vehicles in the best way to accumulate cash based upon each individual client situation. One of my clients called the other day and said they were considering buying a second to die policy. When I initially heard the request, I said, “Well, you don’t really have a need for more life insurance and we have really good accumulation strategies set up for your other goals.” As the conversation deepened, he told me that he wanted to be 100% certain that when he and his wife died that each child would get 2 million dollars no matter what happened with the rest of his ...

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Five Important Things You NEED To Know About FAFSA

Most people relish the idea of figuring out how to get some free aid to help their families when it comes to taking care of college education.  However, year in and year out, families make multiple mistakes when it comes to filling out the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA).  This year, FAFSA has made multiple changes that need your attention to ensure your family has the best opportunity to reach your goal of getting some cash.  Here are the smart money moves you need to know: The Start Date Is Much Earlier Applications officially can be filed October 1st – January 1st This is a permanent change within the FAFSA system. It Will Much More Simple For Pulling Tax Information FAFSA will now use a ‘prior-prior’ method. This means that they will really be using two years prior to give everyone a chance to fully complete their tax extension. Students applying for 2017-2018 tax year which would be the ...

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Quit Buying Stuff You Can’t Afford

Generation X is classically defined as people born between the years 1965 and 1979.    Pretty much those of you in your late 30’s and now, *GULP* into the early 50’s.  Having given personal financial advice to thousands of people, I can tell you that many of you who were born 1960 to 1964 fit within the Generation X type of financial and personal attitude.   Since I am 47 and have had a good deal of financial success on my own, I’ve noticed some big mistakes that I see my generation making with their money and how they think about money.    One of the main problem with our generation is that it seems we can defy gravity when it comes to buying anything but savings for our own future. Where do you think we should take the kids away for spring break this year?      Should we go away for Thanksgiving or would it be better during the holiday season?    I know ...

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How Millennials Can Retire With A Million Dollars

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of working millennials say they will never accumulate $1 million in savings over their lifetime, according to the Wells Fargo Millennial Study. Six in ten (59%) of millennials have started saving for retirement, whereas 41% have not. Of the millennials who are not saving for retirement, 64% say they are “not making enough money to save for retirement.” The Wells Fargo Millennial study was conducted by GfK and surveyed over 1,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 22 and 35, with an additional oversample of 500 Hispanic millennials for comparison purposes. (source:wellsfargo.com). We originally started oXYGen as an XY company, so it is only fitting that we help this 64% with five key money tips on how to retire with a million dollars. Be An Avid Bill Shopper First and foremost, make sure you shop your student debt which will likely be the number one initial inhibitor to long term wealth building. Make sure first, that if ...

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Four Financial Moves To Make After You Are Hit By A Flood

With the recent devastation people have experienced in Louisiana by the floods, some new light is being shed on what financial moves you may need to make after you are hit by a Flood.    Over the prior weekends, I did a small piece on the Weather Channel to give some financial guidance for people in Louisiana who were hit by the flood.   With only 12% to 14% of the homeowners actually having flood insurance in an area that was not considered a flood plain, the big question is what money moves you should make after the flood comes through your neighborhood. Source (FEMA.gov) TIME TO MAKE AN INSURANCE CLAIM The first thing is you should try to go back and take photos, but be safe as water damage may make parts of your home extremely unsafe. One thing you should determine is whether or not you want to hire a licensed independent insurance adjuster to work as an advocate for ...

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Helping You Save Money On Your Wedding

– Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin stops by the studio to give you tips on getting married and not spending all of your money! Our own Nate needs a little help with this, unless he takes Bailey’s advice and gets married in a Moose Lodge. Taped 8/30/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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How To Win The Gold Medal With Your Financial Plan

The 2016 Olympics have officially kicked off and it should prove to be exciting with USA Basketball, USA Swimming, and many more new events including golf this year.   It is always amazing to hear the Olympic stories of gold medal winners and their struggle to make it to the top.   Here are your smart money moves on what to do to win the Gold Medal with your financial plan. Get rid of debt as quickly as possible – Even though most people are excited about low interest rates today, just because you can borrow money doesn’t mean you should borrow money.   Consumer debts are the absolute most important to get rid of in your financial plan, and consider trying to pay extra on your long term debt.  Going into retirement with no debt will allow you be nimble and flexible with your choices down the road. Plan for the unexpected – With companies seemingly doing a reorganization or a rightsizing ...

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How Much Does a Puppy Cost?

As a Private CFO™ to my clients I often get questions that have nothing to do with the traditional financial planning topics you might imagine.  While many are concerned with high level planning areas like retirement or asset allocation, I’ve found that many younger clients crave “life” advice as they educate themselves on making smarter decisions. One of the recent questions I was asked was, “How much does a puppy cost?”  Since it’s been a little over a year since I made the big lifestyle change myself, I thought I’d share some of the things you should consider before taking on a little Old Yeller (sorry, I’m dating myself with one of my favorite childhood movies…). They often compare getting a dog to having your first child, so think twice about the financial obligation, opportunity costs and commitment it takes to be a good “parent” to you pup. Cost to buy the dog can range from a rescue at $250 ...

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How To Do A Wedding For Under $10,000

Will you marry me?    That magical phrase is shared between two people in love every day whether it be on a baseball scoreboard or with the entire family watching in the living room.    Today student debt for Generation Y graduates is approaching an all-time high.  About two-thirds of college grads in the Class of 2015 will graduate with some student loan debt. The average debt is about $35,000. (source: www.wsj.com).  The real question couples should be asking when they tie the knot is “Am I marrying you or your debt?”   With two daughters of my own, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get away with a $10,000 budget, but here is how to plan a fabulous wedding and do it for under $10,000. The Day Of The Week and Limit Guests – Most of us would prefer Saturday as the day of the week we get married. If the weekend is the only choice you have, Sunday can ...

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Remember When You Could Leave Your Door Unlocked

Since it is political season and most of my articles tend to focus on the money side of politics, I thought I would give you some food for thought about the way it is now and the way it was when most of you were growing up as a child.   It’s imperative being in the money business that I stress to people every day the importance of savings and how money can secure their future, but in some ways it worries me on how people may be accumulating money and the negative impact the pressure of having to earn more money is having on families across America. Can you remember when life seemed a lot simpler than it is today?  Is it that you have more responsibilities?  Is it that technology has made you more accessible?  Is it that now you have had a taste of the ‘good life’ that you don’t want to go back to just the status ...

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Trump vs. Clinton Tax Plans

While the election is kicking into high gear, there may be many reasons why you may choose one candidate over the other.  Or, you just may choose to vote for one of the independents this year.   Since I write a column mostly about smart money moves, it might be in the best interest of your family to understand the basics of what the candidates are proposing for tax overhaul and reform.  Here is the high level of Trump v. Clinton for income taxes. PERSONAL INCOME TAX Trump is proposing we move to four tax brackets 0%, 10%, 20%, 25%. More importantly, he is wanting to make the standard deduction for single people at $25,000 and for married couples $50,000 which means those families will pay no tax at all. Clinton is going to hold the same general similar tax bracket structure we have in today’s world. However, she is looking to make two major changes: one being a 4% surtax ...

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Going Digital With Your Filing Cabinet

When I was 12 years old, I found an old term paper in a box of my father’s things.  It was about creating a Cashless Society.  It intrigued me as a child on other things we could get rid of in our society.  My biggest desire was to get rid of paper.  I hated it.  So as a teenager and young adult, the idea of being paperless was exciting to me.  By the mid 90s scanner technology and cost had reached a point where I could start to realize my digital dream. I began scanning every bill, invoice, statement and tax return I had.  Fast forward 20 years and now my filing cabinet is 100% completely digital.  Here are 5 things you can do to achieve my dream of a Paperless Society. Ditch the receipts. Grocery Stores, Gas Stations, Fast Food joints.  Unless the receipt is something you can deduct on your tax return, then there is no reason to ...

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Five Money Considerations Before You Move

Whether you decide to move across town or across the country, at some point your family is going to be faced with a move. As you grow within a corporation, it’s likely at some point they will ask you to move from one city to another.   This means the financial decisions you make could have a substantial impact on your bottom line.  Here are five money considerations you should think about before you make the move. Rent or Sell – Since you don’t always know how long you’ll be in a city, buying a home is a big family financial decision. If you relocate to another city, an even bigger decision could be whether or not you should sell your existing house or rent it out.   Make sure you review items such as seller costs, moving costs, whether or not you want to be a landlord and what you could get for market rate rental income before you make this ...

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Pay Off The Mortgage Or Invest The Money

One of the most difficult questions that I get from both younger and older clients is whether or not it is a good idea to pay off their mortgage or invest the money?  With interest rates continuing to hover around all-time lows, many people are still in the process of refinancing their existing homes or buying a new one.   If your rate is in the 3% to 4% range, you may be wondering if you should take your excess monthly discretionary income to pay down your home note faster or would it be a better idea to take that cash and invest it for the long term.    This decision has both financial and emotional ramifications, so let’s review the pros and cons of paying off your mortgage. The first part of this analysis is the black and white calculation on whether your money can work harder for you than the interest rate you are paying on your debt.   Let’s say, ...

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Seven Ways The Word SALE Messes With Your Brain

There are lots of four letter words in the dictionary that makes us do abnormal things. Words like FREE and ZERO are two of the most powerful marketing words that I have shared with you in the past columns at Your Smart Money Moves. However, possibly the most powerful word when it comes to spending money is the word S-A- L-E. It just makes us plain old buy things we wouldn’t normally do otherwise. Here are seven ways the word S-A- L-E changes the way you think about money. 1. Can I afford it? The word sale makes you remove the concept of do I need it to can I afford it? This small shift in thinking could push you over the edge to buy something simply because it now fits within the price range you had in mind. 2. I have no use for this – There are plenty of things that you own that you really never had ...

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How to Shop at Target with a Toddler and No Money in 31 Easy Steps (A Not-So-Foolproof Guide)

1.Have a stern talk with yourself beforehand: I am only going to buy a package of coffee. Only. Coffee. 2. Take a child along. A 12-year-old boy dragged away from video games would do the trick, but the ideal choice is a toddler, preferably a potty-trainer in the thick of the Terrible Twos. (No longer have a toddler of your own? Borrow one from a beleaguered young mother—she’ll kiss your feet in gratitude.) 3. Enter Target. Feel something warm and tingly light up inside of you. Good thing you brought a toddler to keep you in check, because you recognize the symptoms: the beginnings of Target High.* (*Target High: a euphoric state in which you gleefully buy everything you see at Target. Symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath, giddiness and compulsive credit-card swiping.) 4. Strap the child into a cart. She starts whining, a Toddler Time Bomb already ticking. Hand her a cereal bar to buy yourself eight minutes. 5. Decide ...

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The Mom’s Summer Guide To Saving Money

Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream. For moms across America, summertime can be both a blessing and curse at the same time. While it’s exciting not to worry about packing lunches and dragging the kids to the bus stop, it is also a time when you might feel like you constantly have to entertain your children. This may mean a lot more discretionary income will go out the door than you have coming in each month. We put together our smart money moves guide for 10 moves moms can make over the summer to manage your family finances. 1. Have a budget – Whether you use a spreadsheet, 50/30/20 rule or www.youneedabudget.com, it is important to set expectation for everyone around how much cash flow you have for fun and entertainment. 2. AAA membership – There are lots of great discounts especially hotels, rental cars, & amusement parks. So when you are planning your family vacation ...

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How To Save Money On Summer Camps

For many families in America, sending your children to summer camp is a family tradition.   When I went to camp at Speers-Eljibar in the Poconos as a child, I can distinctly remember learning how to canoe, ride a horse, and most of all having fun playing tons of games and activities.   However, summer camps can cost your family and arm and a leg if you aren’t careful on how to look out for a bargain.  Here are some your smart money moves tips on how to save money on summer camps. Ask about the “group” discount-  Even though your children may want to go to different summer camps, some camps will offer a discount if multiple children attend the same camp.  If you can get some consensus amongst your kids, this can save you a few bucks going into the summer. Be an ‘early’ bird-  Just like registering for a conference, camps like it when they know that guaranteed income ...

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My High School Was Ranked #144th Last Year

U.S. News and World Report (source: www.usnews.com) just came out with its recent ranking of the top high schools in the United States last year.   U.S. News evaluated more than 28,000 schools to determine the top public high schools nationally, and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Five hundred high schools received gold medals, 2,173 schools earned silver and 3,545 took home bronze in the national rankings.  Texas and Arizona has the most schools while Maryland had the most number of schools that qualified for silver and gold medals relative to those schools that were eligible. Just as any good parent would do, I immediately scanned the list to see where my chlidren’s school fleshed out on the list because we moved 10 years ago to get into a good school district.  It turns out that Milton High School (with over 2,000 kids) place #255th nationally and was also ranked #7 in the state of Georgia.    Looking at how ...

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Which Financial Documents Do You Need To Keep?

When you are twenty one, most of your entire life will fit in a box.   As you get older, you begin to collect more boxes.   After buying a car, a house, going through a few jobs, and having a few children, the amount of financial information you begin to compile can be overwhelming.   People who come into our offices will sometimes walk through the door with a stack of envelopes asking the key question, “Do I have to keep all of these documents?”   Here is Your Smart Money Moves guide on what originals you need to keep, what you can shred, and what you might want to store up in the cloud. What you should keep for your originals? Birth Certificate Social Security Card Marriage License Diplomas or Transcripts Wills What about the cloud? With the proliferation of the cloud, there is much larger opportunity to store documents through an online service.   I would recommend trying to get an online ...

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Why Your Teenager Shouldn’t Have A New Car

If it is your idea, as a parent, to help your teenagers set realistic financial goals and be financially successful in life, one of the worst decisions you can make is to buy them a new automobile. When my daughter was ready to drive, I bought my mother’s 2008 Hyundai Tucson. Funny thing is that it gets my daughter to school and her jobs just as well as any other vehicle. We focus more on teaching her how good the inside of her bank account looks than how the outside of her car looks. She is already well on her way to financial independence–and not making this mistake will help your children get there quicker as well. Specifically, here’s why a new car is such a colossal mistake: The laws of depreciation vs. appreciation. The fact is that cars are guaranteed to depreciate. And the financial lesson you want to teach your children is to buy assets that can appreciate ...

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Three Investment Lessons To Teach Your Children

While many families across America are struggling to figure out how to save for retirement and handle their monthly budgets, it becomes more and more important to teach our children important investing lessons for their financial future.  21% of Americans think the best way to save for retirement is winning the lottery (http://www.retirementplanblog.com/defined-benefit-pension-plans/gambling-on-retirement/). That’s no surprise because everyone pretty much scrounged up money to buy a recent Powerball ticket.  Here are three different lessons you can teach your children about investing to make money. Win A Guinness Book Of World Records- This lesson is actually about teaching your kids the very valuable concept of investing in themselves.  We know that setting goals and achieving them have a very high correlation to financial success.  What about challenging your child to win a Guinness Record?  How would that be for a confidence and resume builder?  One of our very good friends Mike and Courtney Hoffman recently had their daughter Jace Hoffman win ...

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What To Do “MONEY – Wise” When You Get Pregnant

It seems like every couple who learns they are pregnant ends up reading the famous book What To Expect When You Are Expecting.  However, most people are so overwhelmed with the good news that they don’t spend time to think about the smart money moves to make when the find out about the pregnancy.   Here are five smart money tips you should know before the due date comes. BUDGET THE BABY ROOM- Especially if this is your first baby, many parents simply don’t plan for the unexpected cost of a new baby room.   Once you start hitting the baby stores for the new crib and reclining chair alone, you could spend $1,000 before you blink your eyes.  Factor in the cost of painting the room, new clothes for the baby, and all the accessories you will need, the new baby room can end up costing several thousand dollars or more if you aren’t careful. PAID LEAVE AND HEALTH INSURANCE- This ...

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Five Money Lessons You Must Teach Your Children

Whether you are a helicopter parent or you have more of a hands off approach, the lessons you teach your children in the early years of their life will have long lasting impacts down the road.  While school, sports, relationships, and more are often a priority in what we teach our children, often money is a subject not discussed between parents and their kids.  Here are five money lessons every parent should teach their children. Credit Cards Are Not A Magic Trick- With the advent of smart applications like Apple Pay and most parents carrying a wallet full of credit cards, less and less do we demonstrate for our children what it is like to pay in cash.   When the kids see all of the dinner bills, shopping, etc. being paid with credit, they may not fully grasp how money actually pays for those items.  You should try from time to time to do a grocery shopping or a trip ...

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Do Parents Gifts Come With Strings Attached?

Imagine this scenario: Mom and Dad get to hear some great news from their son or daughter when they tell them they are getting married.   The initial jubilation and excitement from the news is almost overwhelming as Mom and Dad’s little baby is now going to really be all grown up.   So, Mom and Dad want to help pitch in for the wedding and tell their son or daughter that they will contribute $25,000 toward the wedding.   A few weeks later, Mom now gets involved with the initial guest list and becomes adamant about certain relatives that must be included for the wedding.  The arguments ensue between Mom and her daughter in this case, and then the daughter begins to wonder was this really a gift from Mom and Dad or did it come with strings attached? Most parents will say that they want to help their children or grandchildren when they have excess financial resources to do so down ...

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Why You WILL tell your child YES

Like many parents, I recently experienced the sadness and euphoria of sending our first child off to college.   As much as you can prepare yourself for that moment, it’s an incredibly bittersweet moment as you pull away from campus and see your child really start to begin life on their own.    These are the beginning moments where they make more decision on their own, handle their day to day affairs, and begin to take over the basic management of their finances. I’ve always considered myself to be a parent who would tell my child like is really is without any of the sugar coating.   It wasn’t long before my children realized my feelings on things including why participation trophies make no sense, why your chores in the house don’t deserve allowance, and that soon they will be responsible for their own financial future.  I am in the financial planning business, so you can imagine that money is a top of ...

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How To Pass On Your Family Business

You have spent 15, 20, or even 30 years building up a business that you plan to pass on to your family.   Now, most of your time is spent laying out your future travel schedule, perfecting your golf game, or thinking about lazy Sunday afternoons hanging out having fun.   You are finding it hard to get away from the business because it still requires your attention, and now you are wondering whether or not your son or daughter are even interested in taking over this family business that runs like a machine.   How will you be able to pass on your family business that you have worked so hard for your entire life? Unfortunately, most business owners are so frantic running their business to create top line revenue that they don’t spend the time to lay out their own succession plan.   If you pass the business on to only one child, will there be some sort of sibling rivalry?   If ...

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Four Tax Free Weekend Shopping Tips

Back in 1996, New York legislature was the first to enact a statewide sales tax holiday through a tax-free week that began in January 1997.  Since then, thirteen different states have adopted the notion of this back to school tax free shopping weekend. (source: Wikipedia)   Saving money is normally music to our ears.  Saving on taxes at the same time we can get a discount on merchandise is surround sound for our ears.   There are several states that don’t currently impose a sales tax entirely, but here are my four smart money moves on how to take advantage of the tax-free shopping in the state of Georgia.  E-mail me if you want to know how to save money in your state at ted@oxygenfinancial.net. Computers– All computer and software items that are under $1,000 are exempt from sales tax during the tax-free weekend.   Be on the lookout for special deals from Apple, Dell, and also the major technology department stores.  It ...

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Four Money Phrases You Don’t Say To Your Wife

I have been married almost 21 years, so I like to think that I do a pretty good job as husband.   We all like to think we do a pretty good job as a spouse.  As it stands, what’s most interesting about my day to day job isn’t the nuts and bolts of crunching numbers and figuring out how much money people need for retirement.   The most enlightening part of my profession is seeing the dynamics of the emotional exchange of words between two spouses around their family finances.   We don’t often really think through what we are saying to one another, and just one word or comment could set your spouse off into a 4th of July fireworks session.  Here are four money phrases you don’t say to your wife  or spouse. Is That New? – Hmmmm…. On the surface, this one seems kind of harmless, doesn’t it?   But, there really is no great way to say ‘is that ...

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4 Money Moves To Make When You Turn 40

Generation X is classically defined as people born between the years 1965 and 1979.    This means for the next five years, the last batch of Gen X’ers are going to turn 40.   If life begins at 40, then it must be certain that making smart money moves should fold into that master plan.   Whether you are woefully behind on student debt, just getting married, or you are now starting to make some serious money, here are four smart money moves to consider when you turn the age of 40. Admit Your Mistakes . . . They Are Natural Financial Mistakes- If you are spending like a drunken sailor making sure you are seeing all the best concerts and trying the fanciest restaurants, don’t beat yourself up.  If you have piled up debt or lost money on a private investment deal, there is still time.  Just be true to yourself on those mistakes so you don’t continue to make them. Personal ...

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5 Father’s Day Gifts For Under $100

Father’s Day is right around corner and it’s always hard to figure out what to get for Dad’s. Skip the socks, ties, golf attire, and homemade gifts, and take a look a few ideas that I put together for under $100. Dad is sure to love these and remember to say you heard about it from Your Smart Money Moves. Chillsner ($19.99)– We all know how much Dad’s love an ice cold beer. Especially now that the craft beer revolution is happening. This is a great gift so dad can simply drop this in his favorite IPA and within just a few minutes have an ice cold one ready to go. Carnivore Cookbook ($27)– Do you know how many Dad’s have tried the Paleo Caveman diet? Remember, your dad probably isn’t hitting the latest recipes on Pinterest, so check out Michael Symon’s cookbook on meat eating meals you can make at home. Tarantino XX ($90)– Can you believe it has ...

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Road Trip Savings For The Summer Family Vacation

At some point during the summer, you’ll likely embark on some type of vacation whether it be a week at the beach or a cross country trip in the motor home.   Since the summertime may afford you just a little bit more time off of work and gas prices are still on the lower side, you might decide that going by automobile is the travel mode of choice.  If you decide to load up the SUV or the station wagon and start out on a road trip, here are five smart money moves you might want to consider to stretch your dollars this summer. Avoid the holiday weekends– If you are going to a popular destination, make sure to avoid Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day Weekend.   These weekends will likely cost you more for hotel rooms and getting into certain attractions.  You might want to get out on the road extra early to make sure that you ...

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Are More Women In The US Going Childless?

There are always interesting angles to discuss when it comes to financial planning.   One of the trends that continues to explode across the United States is the mere fact that more and more women are going childless.  The Wall Street Journal just ran a great article recently on this story.  According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of women in their 30’s and 40’s going without children is rising.  For women in their late 30’s, about 18.5% of the women aged 35 to 39 are going childless which is sharply up from 17.2% in 2012.  The trends are also up for women aged 40 to 44.  So, what does this mean as it pertains to financial planning for women in the United States who are going without children? In my opinion, there are several reasons we are seeing this trend happening in the United States today: More and more women are getting married later in life. ...

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Why Our Kids Want To Stay At The Ritz Carlton?

Most people around the country recently finished spring break with their children. Some families head to the beach, others work their way to favorite destinations such as Disney World, and some people opt to visit family in another part of the country. This spring break, I headed down to Alys Beach which is one of the nice housing locations along route 30A in the panhandle of Florida. We had a great time on our vacation, but it made me wonder if the expectations I’m setting for my children are going to be achievable for them in the future. I tried to spend some time reflecting on spring break when I was a child. Did I ever stay at a fancy private home? NO. Did I ever stay at a Ritz-Carlton or some swanky resort like Atlantis? NO. Did I dine at gourmet restaurants or play golf on top ranked courses? NO. When did the world change where Boomer and Gen ...

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How Do You Know When It Is Time To Move?

Unless we have a major job change, there are several times in our lives where we ask ourselves if it is time to move from our current home.  Change isn’t easy.   Moving can be even harder.  New friends, new traffic pattern to work, and time to learn a new landscape.   However, moving may be a defensive or offensive play in your family finances depending on your overall situation and the national marketplace for real estate.  Here are four smart money moves scenarios that may give you some insight if it is the right time for your family to move. The Cost Of Private School Is Killing You– Let’s look straight up at the math on this.   If you pay for private elementary, middle, and high school in any major city, let’s assume the cost is $25,000 per year.   If you are in a neighborhood where the public schools won’t suffice, you may be forced to send you children to private ...

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The $14,000 Black Belt

When I was a kid, my mother would say “Go outside and throw a ball around”.  Now days, kids have so many activities.  When did kids get so busy?  As an example, my son is in Karate, Greek School, Chess Club, Drama Club and if he had his way, he would be in Cub Scouts and Basketball.   Of course, someone has to take them to all these activities.  Time issues aside all of these activities cost money.  My parents spent less than $20 on that ball and glove; and the tree I used to throw the ball at, was Free. When we first started Karate, I thought my son would phase out of it.   But after 2 ½ years, I realized that my son was fully hooked on the activity and we were in it for the long haul.   So it got me to thinking about the cost.  See unlike traditional seasonal sports that last 8-10 weeks, Karate is year ...

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Is The Best Gift For A New Baby A Domain Name?

The birth of a baby is one of the most life changing events for a family.   As parents, friends, and family rejoice in the new addition to their family, many people often wonder what to get the infant for a baby gift.   Over the years, I’ve witnessed being showered with baby blankets, rattles, piggybanks, and designer outfits.   I’ve even bought these gifts myself.  Unfortunately, within six to twelve months most of these gifts are unusable anymore, and wind up in a box that you’ll rummage through 15 years from now.   While a Tiffany’s battle rattle might seem like a good idea, I’m going to share with you why buying a domain name might just be the single best baby gift that you could ever give a newborn. We don’t know what the future will hold for our babies.  They may end up being famous and in the movies.   They could end up being the next successful billionaire such as Mark ...

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When Can I Hire My Kids In The Business?

When you run a small business, you often look for almost any tax deduction that you can take off your bottom line that has a legitimacy when it comes to filing your taxes. For most business owners, there is always a blurred line between your personal life and your business life. Often, your children end up getting involved whether it comes to running errands, filing papers, or even assisting with your company Facebook page. So, the big question is when can your hire your children in the family business and how do you document this when it comes to filing your taxes? I truly believe that one of the most underutilized tax deductions for small business owners is getting their children engaged in the family business. By placing children (or even grandchildren) on the payroll who are under the age of 18, you can create a great opportunity to take advantage of something called income shifting. Your company can hire ...

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Five Sports Dates Ideas For Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up this week and rather than write a blog on how you can do this day on a budget, I thought I would share some different ideas than you might read on the internet.   People always talk about dinner, flowers, chocolates, and jewelry, and while those are classic favorites, you might consider doing something different for a change.   Here are five great ideas you can do right here in Atlanta if you love sports and want to have a great time on Valentine’s Day. Top Golf (http://topgolf.com/us/)-The main location is in Alpharetta, and another one is opening up soon in West Midtown.   What’s makes this venue great is that you can have a great time no matter whether you are a serious golfer or not.   With the lit up targets at night, tasty cocktails, and excellent food, you can spend $100 and have a great time for a few hours of fun. Andretti’s (http://andrettikarting.com/)– As their ...

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Rent or Buy, Which is Better?

In my 16 years as a financial planner, I have been asked this question many times. For decades our society has told us that renting is just throwing your money away and that buying a house is a good investment. Even the government tries to influence our behavior with offering a tax deduction on the mortgage interest. We have to start realizing that your house is not an investment. Investments should be able to feed you income; and as I always say ‘You can’t eat your house’. So which is it, Rent or Buy? Let’s compare some facts. First with renting you don’t have maintenance costs, mortgage interest, property taxes and renter’s insurance is dramatically less expensive than homeowner’s insurance. If you average $1000/month in rent over 30 years, that’s a total of $360,000. Throw in another $15/mo for renter’s insurance and the total spent to rent for 30 years is $365,400. Now if you were to buy, say a ...

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The Rising Cost Of A College Application

We see so much in the news today about the rising cost of college education and the crushing statistics around student debt.   These sobering figures are giving much cause for consternation around whether the cost of an elite college education is really worth the price of admission.  Just the other day, I shared with a young couple that to put their newborn through a fully funded elite private school education would require them to save almost $1,000 per month!   Although there is much debate about college education, hardly at all does anyone discuss the costs of just applying to get to that college education.   With application fees being another boon for colleges, here are some smart money moves figures you need to plan for within your family budget as your child prepares for the application process. Application Fees– With a school like Harvard that received over 35,000 applications @ $75 a pop, it represented over 2 million in application fees ...

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Who Will Take Care of Mom and Dad?

For Boomers and Generation X’ers, you are probably beginning to see the early stages of your parents slowing down or perhaps one of them had a mild health scare over the last five years that got you thinking who is going to take of mom and dad?    Before each one of your brothers and sisters rush to put their finger on their nose and scream “NOT IT!”, it may be time to have a serious discussion about who will bear the responsibility should your mom and dad need someone by their side for financial or medical decisions.   There are several key mistakes that I see families make when it comes to discussing their aging parents’ finances. Who will be the main caretaker for Mom and Dad? – Since many siblings are strewn across the country, you should have a discussion with Mom and Dad so they know who will be taking the lead for potential items such as power of ...

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How To Avoid A Holiday Financial Hangover

Set yourself a budget. Most people overspend during the holidays because they don’t go in with a budget for each person they are going to buy presents. Typically, when you go on an impulse shopping spree, you often spend more than had originally planned for before the shopping excursion.  My recommendation is to set a clear budget with a fixed dollar amount per person, and then work yourself backwards.  Remember, it isn’t always the amount of gifts that somebody gets . . . it’s the thought of the gift that counts. If at all possible pay cash and stay away from the credit cards. Think about what you are going to give people who work for you, with you, or who help you. People such as the mail person, trash collectors, paper delivery people, etc. If you’ve got people that work in your house or do work for you in a regular basis, think about how much cash or what ...

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Til Debt Do You Part

My team is extremely fortunate to get to work with so many successful Gen X’ers. Many of them have done phenomenally well in their careers, and then begin considering marriage at a much later stage in life toward their late 30’s to early 40’s. This often brings up the question when we do financial planning with them about whether or not it is a good idea to get a prenuptial agreement. There are pros and cons to getting this type of agreement, but the one important item many couples do not remember to put in these agreements when they execute them is what will happen with the DEBT. Most couples remember to talk about the bank accounts, the retirement accounts, the family inheritances, the real estate, and the closely held businesses. However, most people assume that all prenuptial agreements are only dealing with people who have significant wealth. What happens when a couple gets married and you still have outstanding ...

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Gift Happiness Is About Expectations Met Or Unmet

The holiday season will be upon us soon and what could be better than having your parents give you a large gift of cash, real estate, or stock? Now think about wrestling with unwrapping the emotional paper that will come along with this gift for the rest of your life. I have shared with people that happiness in life is largely dictated by expectations either met or unmet. When a parent gives a large gift to their children or grandchildren, there is often no discussion around the expectations that come along with the gift. (i.e.what type of wedding you need to have, what type of house you must buy, where your children must attend college) Consequently, most parents believe they have the right to start telling their children what to do with the money, and most kids feel obligated to listen to their parent’s advice part in fear of disappointing their parents or even worse worrying about never getting a ...

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Don’t Let Your Kids Fritter Away The Money

I salute all of the parents in America.  By far, it is the toughest job that we will ever have, filled with moments of both sadness and euphoria, as Billy Joel would put it in his music.   It’s hard watching our kids make mistakes, but sometimes it is the only way they can learn.   However, there are three smart money moves scenarios that I’d like to share with you in order to help you help your children become smarter about their money. Zero to 18 years old- INSTITUTE A 50% RULE– Since we continue to move to a cash and gift card society, physical presents are something we don’t see as often anymore.   The gift card as we know it actually makes you spend more money because it doesn’t really feel like cash.   That is mentally how younger people get into problems like credit card debt, because you never actually see the money.   The 50% rule is simply this;  take ...

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5 Inexpensive Baby Gifts That Will Make You Shine

You just got the news.   One of your friends just had their first baby and now comes the question on how to make a smart money move with a baby gift that won’t break the bank.   You would like to do something for them that is unique and special, but you just don’t have a fortune within your budget to spend on the gift.     I promise you that rattles, blankets, and onesies won’t separate you from the pack.  Here are five ideas you can use that can make you shine with your friends and leave a lasting impression for the years to come. Favorite Books– You can create your own nice little package of 3 or4 timeless classics that almost all parents will use at some point to read to their kids.   Package together something like Goodnight Moon, Where The Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (almost any Eric Carle book), or Are You My Mother are all books ...

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Do Kids Need The Brand Names?

It seems like every mall or suburb strip outlet you go into today has virtually all the same stores. What would a mall be without a GAP or an Abercrombie & Fitch? What amazes me the most is how we as parents can get caught up in making sure that our children have the very best in brand names without thinking about the price or whether it is affordable in our monthly budget. ...

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