Review Category : Featured Articles

The Secret Your Cell Phone Carrier Does Not Want You To Know

These days we look to save on our bills where ever we can.  One area to look at is our Cell Phones.  What if I told you that you could save 50%-75% off your bill?  Three of the big carriers, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have invested in secret sub-brands to try and attract the consumers who are more price sensitive.  What they do not tell you is they use the same network as their parent company. Sprint has Boost Mobile.  T-Mobile has GoSmartMobile and AT&T has Cricket Wireless.  You use the same towers, get the same service and generally only pay $25-35 per month. So what about those of you on Verizon?  Well they will not tell you outright, but they have a deal with Tracfone.  Verizon does not want anyone knowing they have this sub-brand as they feel it will diminish the Verizon brand.  Tracfone has a service called Total Wireless, which runs on the Verizon 4G network ...

Read More →

Why Are You Such A “Poor” Millionaire

As I continue to help more and more people approach the end zone of making work optional (a.k.a. – retirement) it continues to shed light on just how little one million dollars seems these days.    It was once believed that the ultimate pinnacle for wealth building was to have one million liquid dollars, but with the uncertainty in the bond markets, stock markets, and real estate markets, it has baby boomers about to retire shaking in their boots about being sacked before they score a touchdown. Many people hear this notion being thrown about called the 4% percent rule.   This rule was initially laid out by a financial planner William Bengen.   He had back tested a variety of withdrawal rates using various historical rates of return and found that 4% withdrawal with the absolute highest rate that held up over a period of 30 years. So, if you are a “millionaire” with $1,000,000 of starting capital at ‘work optional’, you ...

Read More →

5 Key Points To Know When You Decide To Refinance

With the Fed recently raising interest rates, people have already started to write and call me about whether or not it is still a good time to refinance.  You will likely see more offers from your current mortgage company, broker, or bank looking to get you locked in before the Fed raises rates again in 2017.  Here are my smart money moves to five key points to know when you make a final decision about whether a refinance is good for your property. There Is NO Rule Of Thumb — I love these random articles out there that say your mortgage rates needs to be down by a certain percentage for a refinance to make sense. In fact, Investopedia recently wrote, “The typical rule of thumb is that if you can reduce your current interest rate by 0.75-1%” This makes very little sense to me as this is going to be a math equation because all refinancing costs money.   What you are ...

Read More →

The Rules For Retirement Are Changing And You Better Be Listening

I am sure you have heard that phrase from many financial professionals over the years.  This time I want you to really hear it THE RULES FOR RETIREMENT ARE CHANGING!!  Hopefully I have your attention now because what I am about to tell you will scare the hell out of you.  Whether you are in your 40s or 50s you have been hearing that you need to save for retirement in traditional vehicles such as 401ks, IRAs, and sometimes someone mentions Roth IRA.  The reason you are told this is because of the tax deferral and the amount of money you can grow your nest egg for retirement. If you are a business owner or an employee of a company what I am about to say is a very bold statement and I will take heat for it.  Your investment guy, your Certified Financial Planner™, your insurance representative, your CPA, your estate planning attorney and anyone in between I believe ...

Read More →

The One Time 10% Tax You Should Know

Many Americans are wondering how the President Elect Trump tax plan will affect the type of mutual funds and ETF’s that they buy going into 2017.    One of the items bandied about in a serious way by President Elect Trump is to bring in trillions and trillions of dollars by repatriating money from companies’ accumulated offshore earnings through a one-time 10% tax to bring those dollars back to the United States.   This tax is a substantial reduction from the current 35%, which would mean a massive tax save to large corporations. The thought process behind this strategy is to get some 2.6 trillion dollars (source Joint Committee On Taxation) back into America.  If that money is returned into the hands of many large U.S. Multinational corporations, the philosophy is that jobs would follow quickly behind this influx of money and perhaps a throwback to the heydays of manufacturing. However, the capital influx could heavily influence where you invest your money ...

Read More →

Are Charitable Deductions Going To Be Wiped Out Under Trump?

For many American families who prepare for year end tax planning, no discussion is complete without talking about charitable contributions.   Many families make charitable contributions by tithing a percentage of their family income, giving cash to local charities, or they end up taking non-cash items from their household and donating them to a worthy charity.  With the potential shake up in the tax law under a Trump regime, will you have your charitable contributions completely wiped out in 2017? First things first.   You don’t really need to worry about charitable contributions if you don’t itemize your deductions at all.  Today, a single filer has a $6,300 standard deduction and a married couple has $12,600 for a standard deduction. In addition, you get to deduct you, your spouse, and your children as personal exemptions on your tax return.  The suggested policy going forward would be to wipe out the personal exemptions and offer a larger standard deduction of $15,000 for a ...

Read More →

Five Holiday Gifts To Help Your Friends And Family Build Wealth

There is no doubt that this entire month is going to be spent hanging out at holiday parties, shopping at the department stores, and thinking about how fast each goes by as you get older.   While we will see all sorts of gadgets, clothes, and toys that you can buy this holiday season, perhaps it might be a good idea to consider a gift that could help one of your friends or family members build some wealth.  Here are my five your smart money moves that can help the ones you love increase their bottom line. uniquestockgift.com – What better way to help someone build wealth than actually purchasing them ONE share of stock? With Unique Gift Stock, you literally have hundreds of companies to choose from to buy one share of stock in a company and then give it away as a gift.   You can present the stock in a beautiful frame with a personalized plaque note.   From that ...

Read More →

One BIG 2017 Georgia 529 Plan Change For College

As the cost continues to rise for college education, the state of Georgia is stepping up for the residents of Georgia and offering a new increased tax deduction that can really help Georgia taxpayers. All Georgia single taxpayers may deduct up to $2,000 each year on behalf of any beneficiary regardless of their annual income. Beginning with returns filed in 2017, all Georgia joint taxpayers may now deduct up to $4,000 each year on behalf of any beneficiary regardless of their annual income. Please note that a transfer of funds from another state’s 529 plan is not eligible for the Georgia income tax deduction. Georgia tax forms refer to the Path2College 529 Plan as the “Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan” (GHESP); the Path2College 529 Plan is established by the GHESP. Contributions made during the tax year, or before the following year’s federal tax filing deadline are eligible for the deduction. State tax benefits offered in connection with the Path2College 529 ...

Read More →

Is FOMO Making You Poor?

Doesn’t it always seem that your friends or people you used to know are just flat out having a better life than you?  If you tune in to Instagram or Facebook on a daily basis, you’ll find someone who snapped a picture of themselves in a far away luxurious destination or in the front row of the latest concert in town.   With all of these images barraging us every day, does it have an effect on how we think about spending our money. One phenomenon to hit the scene in the past few years is a concept called (FOMO) which is the Fear Of Missing Out.  This is a far cry from (BOGO) Buy One Get One, so please don’t confuse the two of them.   With the power of social media today and the strong suggestions of images, we can often feel like we are missing out in the good times…the fun times…the best of times from what we see ...

Read More →

10 Reasons Why You Can Cut the Cable Cord Now

Did you know that the average cable bundle has 189 channels but the average subscriber only watches 17 of them  (or less than 10%) according to a Nielson study in 2014?  Consumers would like to pay for only the channels they watch and free themselves from the shackles of the cable bundle by cutting the cable cord.  Let’s look at the top 10 reasons why consumers can cut the cable cord now! 70+ Channels of Free Over the Air Channels For those here in Atlanta there are over 70+ free channels available via an HD antenna including all of the major networks such as NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW and PBS.   These are delivered in High Definition (HD) quality which is better than cable/satellite. 100+ Cable channels available through streaming apps Most people don’t want to give up some of their cable channels such as ESPN, CNN, Fox News, etc. Services such as Sling TV and Sony Playstation Vue with ...

Read More →

Be Careful About “Washing” Out Your Tax Losses

With more investors trading stocks as a hobby and the number of day traders who have decided to take over their own portfolios, it is incredibly important that you recognize one little nasty piece of the tax code that can hurt you called the wash rule. The wash rule was set up to more closely define how tax losses can be taken for the short term trading of the same securities.   If an individual decided to sell or trade a security they own at a loss and within 30 days of the sale buys a substantially identical stock or security (or an option) their tax losses may be disallowed.  Remember, the rule can also apply if your spouse buys a substantial amount of the security as well. In our current tax code, the wash sale can affect your personal finances with the following consequences. You will not be able to “realize” or claim, the loss on the sale The disallowed ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

OUCH! Is Your Wife Cheating On You With Amazon?

As I get to meet literally thousands of people every year to talk about personal finances and their struggles and successes toward building their net worth, I’ve noticed an interesting trend phenomenon that seems to have an uncontrollable growth.  That is the behemoth that we all know and have come to love as Amazon. Although it has snuck up on us quickly, there is at least one spendaholic in your household (or a very close friend or relative) that has been completely brainwashed and taken over by the alien Amazon nation.   As I recently perused the Amazon website, it dawned on me that Amazon may be one of the most aesthetically displeasing websites when you consider the pure design of a ‘pretty’ website.   But, being the math geek that I am, I counted 27 different pictures that I could click just on the top part of the main page that loaded up on my computer.  Then and only then did ...

Read More →

Where To Invest Under A Clinton Presidency

As I shared a few months ago, Americans aren’t quite sure what to make of this three ring circus we are calling a Presidential election.   With the two candidates in the throes of back and forth debates, the stock market has seen its share of nervous jitters going up and down almost in yo-yo like fashion.   What will happen with the markets if Hillary Clinton is elected President nobody knows for sure, but here are some potential smart money moves to be considering if Clinton becomes POTUS.   Will she borrow more money?  Will she change Obamacare to Hillarycare?  Will she build a wall? Will she bring jobs back to America? Infrastructure – While I cannot give you specific stocks, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds (you’ll have to call me or e-mail me for that info;), I will divulge that one of the best opportunities under a Clinton presidency will be US infrastructure. Consider this for a  . . If ...

Read More →

Five Items You ALWAYS Lose That Cost You Money

If you are like me, I can sometimes become an absent minded professor.  My businesses are kept in perfect shape and form, my workouts are always on schedule, and I never forget what I need to pack when I take a trip.  However, when it comes to every day household items, I just plain stopped spending money on certain purchases because overspending on the fancy brands of these items assured me that I would inevitably lose them down the road.   So I finally succumbed to my own absent mindedness and stop buying nice items in five categories that I always seemed to lose.  I thought it was just me, but it probably is a struggle you go through as well. Sunglasses – Ray-Ban’s….cool.  Oakley’s…..so great when you are out on a boat.  Gucci….ever so stylish.    While these all look so great when you are out on the beach, at the pool, or an afternoon party, the reality is that people ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Five Smart Money Moves To Make When You Are Offered A Severance Package

When the consulting companies are done offering advice to your corporation on how to make it more effective, the one word you don’t want to hear from upper management is “reorg”.    Reorg, short for reorganization, if often a labor intensive process where a large organization systematically eliminates a section of the workforce to streamline their overall processes, people, and systems.   When these reductions in workforce happen, one of the possibilities that may occur is to offer you a severance package.    The problem for most families is that decisions have to be made so quickly that people often make poor choices on how to best maximize this package. Here are five smart money moves to make when you are offered a severance package. Double Dip On Pay If your company offers you six months or one year as a severance package, this is not the time to take an extended vacation.   Every month that you can work for a new employer ...

Read More →

Don’t Be Fooled By Hillary’s Small Business Plan

I usually don’t read the USA today, but I happened to have a chance to read an article recently (http://usat.ly/2bVCjaz) about Hillary Clinton’s plan to be the President for small business owners.   I was intrigued by the article to see what real change might be coming and as an entrepreneur of many businesses I quickly realized that the proposal was something that only the Stay Puff Marshmallow business person would actually gain any benefit from currently.    Here are the points from the article and then I’ll share on each point my insights on what meaningful proposals could really truly help small business owners do better.  BTW, I haven’t really seen any proposal from Trump yet at all but I do know what I hear from local owners every week Hillary Proposed Problem: Citing licensing and other burdens, Clinton’s campaign says it takes longer to start a business in the U.S. than in countries such as Canada or Denmark.  I laughed ...

Read More →

Five Apps You Need To Know To Impress Your Friends

With the thousands of apps you can download from your Apple or Android phones, every year you will learn of an app or two that you never knew of before.  You may wonder why in the world you really need to know about new apps when you don’t even use the ones you have on your phone now.  Not only are these apps super cool and have real pragmatic uses, but this is a way for you to impress friends or business acquaintances with something they had no idea existed. Best App To Share In A Sports Bar Or An Airline Club Lounge This app you need to know about in these scenarios is called Tunity.   Have you ever been watching five different TV’s in a sports bar and even though people are drinking and talking, you really want to hear what’s going on with your favorite game?   Or, have you been sitting in a club airline lounge and see ...

Read More →

What Alabama And Clemson Football Players Need Insurance?

College football has become such a big business for the large colleges and universities across the United States.    People come out by the droves as their teams begin to embark this season on winning a college football championship, and we’ll know in about five months who emerges victorious.    With the importance of key stars on each of the teams, there is a new ‘tricky’ business of buying insurance on the superstars of these college football teams. Recently, it was revealed that top ranked Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson took out two very important insurance policies against a career ending injury.  The first was a $5 million dollar total disability policy and the other was a $5 million loss of value policy. When it comes to total disability, think about this in the genre of you buying an own occupation disability policy.  When you buy disability insurance, you can purchase a policy to cover your own particular occupation or any occupation at ...

Read More →

Is It Time To Fed Proof Your Portfolio

We are all witnessing the antics of the Presidential election that we see and hear in the media every day.   The Fed recently chose not to raise rates again recently and we don’t know if they will do it in September, December, or not at all this year.   However, when rates rise you will want to be prepared on what to do with your portfolio, so here are my tips on money moves to consider. Consider Locking In Rates While They Are Low If you have benefited from having a low adjustable rate mortgage over the past five or six years, you might want to consider locking into a 15 year or 30 year fixed rate mortgage while rates are low. This would prevent you potentially getting hurt if you plan to live in your property for a long period of time and you expect the Fed to raise rates. Also, you might want to make a long term real ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

How Did Apple Get A 14.5 Billion Dollar Tax

In the past week it was announced that the European Commission completed its investigation and concluded that Apple would need to pay back a 14.5 billion dollar tax to the EU.   While 14.5 billion only represents about 6% of the cash and investments Apple has on hand, the big question is what kind of precedence this might set for the future of big business overseas in light of the upcoming Presidential Election.   So, in simple terms, how did this tax even happen? This all started when Apple struck at tax deal with Ireland to locate their European Headquarters in Ireland in 1991.   Ireland create tax arrangement between now two Irish companies, Apple Sales International and Apple Operation Europe.    The profits that came from European sales for Apple were recorded in Ireland some of which were taxed and the majority of the profits were recorded through something called a “head office”.  In simple terms, this was an offshore company that wasn’t ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Do You Need An LLC For Your Rental Property?

With interest rates continuing to hover around record low rates, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers are swallowing up investment properties all around the United States.  Even though last week an article came out from the N.Y. Times that home ownership is down to a record low of 62.9% (which is the lowest in fifty years), the developments being built around your neighborhoods seem to continue to sell at a record rate. One of the main questions we get all the time from people who buy investment real estate or rental properties centers around whether to hold the property individually, hold it in an LLC, and whether or not you need a separate company if you plan to manage these properties on your own. Let’s go through an example of why you might want to have an LLC.  You have a tenant who has rented your property up on the lake this summer.   They decide to bring a few friends out ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Why Do College Education Costs Defy Gravity?

In the homes of parents today in their 40’s and 50’s, the debate about how to pay for the rising cost of college has become the topic of conversation.  It isn’t just the fact that while the Government says inflation remains really low, most parents are experiencing that cash flow management is becoming more of a problem than asset management.   So, why do college education costs continue to defy gravity in this low inflation environment. More Non-Teaching Jobs – Higher education payrolls have also been rapidly adding more non-teaching jobs in recent years. Public and private colleges and universities expanded their payrolls by 28 percent between 2000 and 2012, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade, according to an analysis of higher education staffing by the Delta Cost Project. There are more student programs offered on big campuses, continuing to increase the necessity of these non-teaching positions. Competition For Talent – Ultimately, price is dictated by the law ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

5 Ways Pokémon Go Can Help Your Business

In the 70’s we had the Pet Rock, in the 80’s it was Cabbage Patch Kids, the 90’s was Beanie Babies and today we have the latest craze, PokemonGO.  The difference with this fad is that it is attracting the attention of adults.  Some are the young adults that might have played with the original Pokémon games and cards from 20 years ago.  But it is even attracting the 40 somethings, and if Grandma hears enough about it, we might be seeing our senior citizens playing as they go on their daily walks. So for those that are still messing with their Pet Rocks and have not heard about PokemonGO, here is a simple explanation.  Using a phone App, the player wanders the real world hunting for animated Pokémon monsters.  Gathering Pokémon, builds your collection and makes you more powerful to battle other players in game Gyms. The game is causing people to walk in areas where they might not ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Why HBO Should Teach John Oliver About Money

Last week on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John Oliver thought he would get cute and tell you why you are getting screwed by Financial Advisors. http://bit.ly/25Ytdwj I have attached the article if you want to see what sage advice he attempted to give you. It’s ironic as I just completed 25 years of doing this as a profession and continue to witness the misinformation and disinformation that goes on within the financial services industry. Every person with a laptop and a blog can tell you about the right way to manage their money. Talk show hosts are more than interviewers today. They see their shows as a podium to help influence political, social and financial change across our country. Oliver’s comedic commentary has been credited with helping influence US legislation, regulations, court rulings and other aspects of US culture, which has been dubbed “The John Oliver Effect.” This came from the show’s fifth episode, which focused on ...

Read More →

Did Starbucks Charge You 28 Times?

For some of you, grabbing your daily Starbucks order is akin to brushing your teeth every day.   In my your smart money moves column, I will continue to profess that the next twenty years the cash flow management aspect of financial planning will become more important than asset management planning.   Ask soon about my revolutionary cash flow transformation system coming live by the beginning of 2017.  Since technology has taken over for the large part the way we pay bills, transfer money, and manage cash, you’ll see more and more companies asking you to store cash on loyalty cards. In a review recently performed by the Wall Street Journal a study revealed that more than 1.2 billion were loaded onto Starbucks cards and the mobile app in the first quarter of 2016.   The scary part is that this dollar figure amounts to more than some financial institution have in their possession.  For example, Discover Financial Services had $680million in deposits ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Five Apps That Will Pay You To Shop

Shopping is usually an activity that makes you spend money.   In fact, with the ease of debit cards and credit cards today you can rack up big bills by simply turning your computer on to one of the major shopping websites.  So, I thought going into the summer it might be interesting to see what apps you could download that might actually pay YOU money to shop. Ibotta (www.ibotta.com) – Did you ever thing you could get paid to scan receipts from your phone?    Before you go shopping, you complete a few simple tasks and then you begin to unlock rewards.  With over 187 participating stores (and you can link loyalty accounts as well) it makes it very easy to make money with Ibotta.  Really, you end up just scanning bar codes and then taking pictures of your receipts. Swagbucks (www.swagbucks.com) – With over $132,470,000 of gift cards that have been awarded to users, Swagbucks is an app that will ...

Read More →

Where To Invest Under A Trump Presidency

Americans aren’t quite sure what to make of this three ring circus we are calling a Presidential election.   With the nomination fairly certain to be Donald Trump on the Republican side, there has been major discussion about what a Trump President might look like for the future of our economy.   Will he borrow more money?  Will he balance the budget?  Will he build a wall? Will he bring jobs back to America?   These are amongst the many issues that have been speculated about on the media outlets across the country.  Here are my smart money moves on where to invest under a Trump regime. Infrastructure- While I cannot give you specific stocks, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds (you’ll have to call me or e-mail me for that info;), I will divulge that this will be one of the best opportunities under a Trump presidency.   Consider this for a  moment. . . If you have a parent or grandparent that ...

Read More →

Will It Cost 1 Billion Dollars To Run The Presidential Campaign?

It’s hard to ascertain whether or not we will begin to see a Presidential campaign this summer or a continuation of a new reality show called ‘Who Wants To Be America’s Next President? While we are sure to see mudslinging in television ads and scandals come out of the woodwork, the stark reality is that from a financial perspective these campaigns are moving to epic proportion. Even Donald Trump who is a billionaire simply cannot afford the price tag to run a campaign in today’s bulging budget to get to the White House. So, where does all of that money go? Advertising- While the apparent part of this are the countless number of hard hitting ads we are going to see, people forget just how much will be spent on digital advertising this year through mediums such as Facebook. In addition, there is a huge cost for banners, signs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons that will be spent during the ...

Read More →

How The New Overtime Rules May Affect Your Business

The Department Of Labor is at it again, now changing the game for businesses as it pertains to overtime rules.   Since, that is what we really need . . . some more rules.  If it wasn’t challenging enough for small businesses dealing with making payroll and figuring out to maintain the costs of health insurance, now you’ll have to pay double attention to these new overtime rules which will become effective December 1st. Here’s a bet I’m willing to make on the record.  The cost for businesses across the country to manage and track all of these changes will far supersede the benefits that will actually be paid for people working overtime.  The administration believes by making these changes that many hard working Americans will earn overtime, but let me clue everyone in on four your smart money moves secrets. Right now, if you are a salaried worker who makes in between $23,660 and $47,476 and you have a reasonable ...

Read More →

5 Steps to becoming a LinkedIn Leader

These days there are so many social media platforms it is overwhelming.  Each service caters to a specific social activity.  When it comes to doing business, LinkedIn stands out at the top of the pack.  If you already have a LinkedIn profile, you know it serves as a kind of online resume.  But if you just hope someone is looking at you, then you are missing out.  No matter what business you are in, using the site to form connections can be a great benefit.  So how do you increase engagement on the site to become a LinkedIn leader?  Try these steps. Request connections/send messages regularly. Spend at least 30 minutes each week searching for new connections to build your network.  Ask your current connections for introductions to relevant people in their networks.  Also look to join groups that will drive the type of connections you are looking for. Send ‘thank you’ messages when you make a new connection. Make ...

Read More →

What They Called Me Then, What They Call Me Now

In today’s workplace, we see new kinds of titles popping up all over the place on how companies name their people.    Our good friend Cody Hicks who works as a leader at Atlanta Eats (you must watch the show) carries the title Chief Brisket Officer.   When we started with our first employee at the front desk of oXYGen Financial, we used the term Director of First Impressions instead of some bland front desk title.   I have also seen titles in large companies such as Chief People Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, and Chief Technology Officer which have replaced old antiquated titles.  But, when is enough . . . enough?   There are so many new titles today that I miss the titles that really described who people are and what they really do for a job.   Here is my list of what they called me then and what they call me now. THEN NOW BARTENDER MIXOLOGIST GARBAGE PERSON SANITATION ENGINEER HAIRDRESSER COSMETOLOGIST ...

Read More →

Is It Time For A “Back Door” Roth IRA?

There are many individuals and families who make a high income and believe they cannot do a Roth IRA.   However, there is a part of your financial house you may not have realized that existed called the “Back Door” Roth IRA.   So, why do so many people miss this great opportunity?  According to the Investment Company Institute, only 18.6 million U.S. households (about 15.7%) owned Roth IRAs in 2011.  Do that few Americans want tax-free income in retirement? Who can generally contribute to a Roth IRA? There are three ways to fund a Roth IRA–you can contribute directly, you can convert all or part of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, or you can roll funds over from an eligible employer retirement plan. In general, you can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA (traditional, Roth, or a combination of both) in 2016 ($6,500 if you’ll be age 50 or older by December 31).  However, your ability to make ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Seven Great Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding have changed so much over the past 25 years from the popularity of destination weddings on the beach to the cool environment of you having your wedding in a barn.   New websites have been built out today such as www.appycouple.com where you can keep everyone organized, track RSVP’s, share photos, travel, chat, and much more.  If you are going to a wedding, one of the timeless difficult questions is what you should be giving for a gift.   Should you just tuck some cash in an envelope or hit the registry list?  What if the couple wants you to make a donation in their name?  What if they tell you to bring nothing but yourself?   Here are my ‘your smart money moves’ guide to seven great wedding gift ideas. Matching Passport Holders-  If you are going to a wedding for a couple that loves to travel, a reasonably inexpensive but cool gift idea is to get matching passport holders.  There ...

Read More →

5 Estate Planning Lessons We Can Learn From Prince

Recently, I was invited into the Washington, DC Bureau to do a timely piece of the estate of Prince.  His estimated fortune was in excess of 300 million currently, and this doesn’t include the recent or future sales of his records.  As we have seen from legends such as Elvis Presley, money can be made off your name for many years into the future.   The sad news came out that it appears Prince did not have a will.  With one real sister and five half siblings it will surely be a mess to settle.   Here are five really good lessons you can learn from the lack of planning Prince may have done with his estate. What If I Don’t Have A Will? –  Here’s the newsflash.   If you don’t have a will, then the state that you live in will have one for you.   The problem with this is that you might assume all of your assets will go to ...

Read More →

Six Gifts Under $100 For The College Graduate

With high school and college graduation right around the corner, one of the big questions you may be asking to what to buy your graduate on their special day.  You can certainly splurge on a fancy dinner, but there are some really cool ideas out there for less than a $100.  Here is my short smart money moves guide to graduation day. Get Them A Budget- www.youneedabudget.com (YNAB) will only cost you $60, but could help your graduate save thousands for the years to come.  Think about whether or not you want them to me moving home.  The sooner they learn good budgeting habits, the better of you will be. Netflix Subscription- There are all kinds of different subscriptions you can get including Amazon Prime, but if since many young adults are skipping TV altogether, this can be an excellent low cost idea to give them for their first real year on their own. The Dollar Shave Club- For just ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Five Memberships You Can Save Money With Today

There are many types of membership models, but gym memberships are probably the most popular type of membership.  As most of you know, gyms often sell (or give) away many more memberships than the gym can actually hold.   Membership companies love to sell to people who they know either won’t use it, won’t show up, or just plain forget that they have the membership.   In doing my research, here are five membership ideas that can really save you money without breaking your wallet. AAA- (aaa.com) AAA is a membership that has been around for a long time. Most consumers think about AAA as the ‘car’ company.  You buy a AAA membership in case you have a flat tire, battery dies, you need a tow, or you get locked out of your car.   What most people don’t think about are the hundreds of discounts that the AAA card offers.   One of the biggest ones that I have used over the years ...

Read More →

Socks Are The New Ties

In 1991, I distinctly remember shopping for my very first real suit purchase in Filene’s Basement in downtown Boston.  How I longed to start my career a la the Alex Keaton days of Family Ties and come dressed up to work in my spiffy brand new suit.   Of all the major accessories that come with a suit, you could easily turn an average suit into a great look with a spectacular tie.  The tie is what really brought everything together.   You could turn a plain old gray or blue suit with a white shirt into some eye popping candy with a tie that jumps out off of the dull canvas of the plain old suit. I was never one for spending tons of money on clothes, but when I hit my first stride of success, I knew that one stop in the Ermenegildo Zegna store would truly show the level of success I was having.   It wouldn’t seem like prudent ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

Lil Dicky Top 10 Money Tips

Your Smart Money Moves officially crosses over to the world of cutting edge hip hop.    However, there is a reason.   A good, good reason.  David Andrew Burd[1] (born March 15, 1988) better known by his stage name Lil Dicky or LD, is an American rapper and comedian. He came to prominence with the release of the music video to his song “Ex-Boyfriend”, which went viral with more than one million views on YouTube in 24 hours. (source: Wikipedia). However, what Burd released that really got my engines revved up was a YouTube video called $ave Dat Money feat. Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan (side note: this video should only be watched if you are ready for lots of profanity! http://bit.ly/1ijDPCb).   Essentially, Lil Dicky made this video in the really smart money move fashion by asking for everything for FREE!  He literally knocked on the doors of mansions, went to high end car dealers, and even stole part of the set on another high end rap video that ...

Read More →

Should You Invest In That Collectible Car?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a tremendously powerful article http://snip.ly/hm9s0 about how bonds have outperformed stocks since 12/31/1999.   Over long periods of time, historically stocks are more volatile than bonds but also outperform bonds over the long term.  The question is will this trend continue this century?  Since 2000, investors have turned to adding an additional asset class to the cash, stock, and bond mix by putting more money into ‘alternative investments’.  These include investments such as REIT’s, commodities, and precious metals. Increasingly I am getting asked questions about other types of investments.  One couple was debating the question about whether it would be better to put $75,000 more into improving their home for long term equity value or would it be better to put $75,000 toward repairing and restoring a 1970 Chevelle that they owned.   Without delving into the question of what would get more use, the home or the car, my immediate challenge was around what would provide ...

Read More →

The 15 Minute Plan

Have you seen those commercials for fitness programs that say all you have to do is spend 15 mins a day in their program and you will get lean and fit.  You know, they show a before and after picture of someone that has been through the program.  Now, I do not know if they work, but I do know if you stick with any kind of plan you will see some kind of results. It is no different with your finances.  You have to have a plan and stick to it.  Here are some steps to your 15 minute plan. The start of any plan revolves around cash flow management.   In the 17 years that I have been in financial planning, I have found that the most successful people are those that can create, manage and read an Income-Expense statement.  You start with a system for collecting your data.  You can use pen and paper; an Excel spreadsheet; a ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

You Should Get To Know The Self Directed Brokerage 401(k)

You would think that because I’ve been doing financial planning for 25 years that I would be a flat out 100% advocate for 401(k) plans.    With the ability today to put away money on a pre-tax basis in your 401(k) or now the use of a Roth 401(k) there are many different ways to save for your future.    Many employers even offer a ‘match’ of some of the funds that you put away into your plan as an incentive and some companies even give a year end profit sharing contribution if the company has done well.    The 401(k) has now become the Gibraltar Rock for most people in their 30’s and 40’s as the main driving force for their future retirement.    In most 401(k) plans, the problem is that you are generally limited to choices of five or six target date/retirement date funds and with limited index fund choices you could be left in an absolute mess in retirement if ...

Read More →

The Five Best Infomercials Of All Time

Who doesn’t love the infomercial? When it comes to marketing, this is still one of the greatest methods to pull your heart strings and then throw you a scarcity mentality offer that will make you jump off your couch and order something today. Some historians say that Vitamix was the first infomercial ever made, and today infomercials are a lot longer than 30 seconds or two minutes. Some infomercials last as long as thirty minutes. I don’t know what your favorite infomercial was growing up, but odds are you purchased something at least once from an infomercial. Here are my five favorites. The Ginsu Knife– (circa 1980)- The original Ginsu Knife. It could cut a slice of bread so thin you could almost see through it. Remember that? This is one of those infomercials that is indelibly etched in my head from my early childhood days. It almost seemed impossible that a knife could do what the Ginsu Knife could ...

Read More →

Are Comic Books Better Than The Stock Market

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a tremendously powerful article (http://on.wsj.com/1PHs0Q8) about how bonds have outperformed stocks since 12/31/1999.   Over long periods of time, historically stocks are more volatile than bonds but also stocks outperform bonds over the long term.  The question is will this trend continue this century?  Since 2000, investors have turned to adding an additional asset class to the cash, stock, and bond mix by putting more money into ‘alternative investments’.  These include investments such as REIT’s, commodities, and precious metals.  However, one important alternative investment class that investors may want to pay closer attention is in the arena of collectibles, which could provide an investor with a true alternative to over the counter type investments.  Here are three to keep on your radar. Comic Books-  As Marvel has gained popularity in the theaters, so have the value of comic books.   It’s not just the original Spiderman, Superman, or Batman comic books that command large dollars.   Consider ...

Read More →

Can Bourbon Save Social Security

So I know what you are about to say, what does Bourbon have to do with Social Security.  Well nothing in regards to the distilled spirit itself.  But a possible excised tax could save the day.  Our Founding Fathers have used an excised tax on Spirits three times in American history to pay for wars.  Washington did it to pay for Revolutionary war debts.  The Great Whiskey Rebellion eventually forced a repeal.  But then Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln both used a Spirits Tax to pay for their respective wars; War of 1812 and the Civil War.  Today the Federal Government does not have tax on spirits, they leave that up to the state governments. Fast forward to today.  Social Security has been called the Third Rail of politics.  A subject that politicians do not want to tackle for fear of being ousted from their jobs.  So what are the three biggest problems with Social Security and possible solutions. The ...

Read More →

Seven Cheaper Versions Of Your Favorite Products

It seems that nobody can escape the clutches of websites like Amazon today, luring millions and millions of Americans shop at the comfort of their home computer.   As we are faced with a dizzying array of information about ratings, pricing, and performance, how are we to really know which products are better or worse?  Take a thumbs up from a friend on Facebook?  Do your due diligence through Consumer Reports?  Or, should you just hit the plethora of websites that will rate and rank everything.   Not only do we work hard on building financial plans and managing money, but we also look to see how can we can save our clients some additional money.  Here are seven ideas on getting a product that is priced higher at a similar product with a lower cost. Beats Earbuds The idea of dropping $78 on a pair of Beats headphones is completely reasonable for many shoppers. By significantly cheaper, I mean about  90% less ...

Read More →

My Roth IRA turned Five

Why is age 5 so important for your Roth IRA.  Well, there is a little discussed rule around Roth IRAs.  We know that they grow tax free.  We know that we can take contributions out at any time without penalty.  We also, know that at age 59 ½ we can start taking from either our IRA or our Roth accounts. But what most people miss is the 5 year clock on Roths.  The Roth rules say that to take distributions tax-free and penalty-free, your Roth account has to have been open for at least 5 years.  That means when you turn 59 ½ your account also has to be at least 5 years old.  I’ve been asked by clients if the clock resets each time they make a contribution; or does each contribution have its own 5 year clock.  The answer is no.  The clock starts when the account is first opened. In 99% of cases, the clock is a ...

Read More →

10 Weird Ways To Make Money From Home

You are several months into 2016 and might be thinking to yourself, “How can I make a few extra bucks in my spare time at home?”.  This may be to pay off some debt, save some more money towards your goals, or even set up a rainy day fund.   Here are ten weird ways to make money from home.  We got a few of these from our friends over at www.pennyhoarder.com. Give Your Opinion to Make $100+/Month (or Watch Videos) Most of you know surveys aren’t our favorite way to make extra money, but we make an exception when we’re just vegging out on the couch. We figure as long as we’re just watching TV, there’s no reason we can’t click a few buttons at the same time. Ipsos Panel (www.i-say.com) (www.inboxdollars.com)  is one of the only legitimate paid survey companies out there (they’re rated an A+ with the Better Business Bureau). You might recognize the name from the news, because they conduct a lot of the presidential polling. I’ve ...

Read More →

How To Buy A Private Island

Since House Hunters is probably one of the most popular shows on HGTV, it only stands that each network must expand their content to continue to keep their audience engaged.  HGTV went from House Hunters to International House Hunters to Tiny Homes to a new show now called Island Hunters.  Yes, these are people who need to get away from it all whether it be in the northern regions of Canada down to the Caribbean.   So, just how does someone know what it is really going to cost to get your own private island? According to Business Insider, there’s an entire culture surrounding the purchase and management of private islands. Calling themselves “isolamaniacs,” these people tend to be independent, intrepid travelers who aren’t afraid of a challenge. Tech billionaires like Larry Ellison and Richard Branson have plopped down millions for their own slice of paradise in Hawaii and the British Virgin Islands, respectively. However, you don’t have to be a billionaire ...

Read More →

Tax Tips Before You File 2015 Taxes

Now that you are getting organized for getting your 2015 taxes done, it would be remiss not to have an annual review of potential tax saves before you click the button to send your tax filing up to the IRS.  There are so many people who don’t look under the hood and assume that once the calendar year closes out that all tax opportunities are lost.  Here is my smart money moves list of last minute tax ideas before you file. FORM 2106- JOB EXPENSES The truth is that your employer may not reimburse everything during the year including mileage or other business related expenses.  This could be  a great opportunity to list out those expenses and take an additional tax deduction if you itemize your tax deductions. What’s the catch?- Must Exceed 2% Of Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) SELF EMPLOYED BUSINESS EXPENSES? Did you get a 1099 this year or do you have a small business? I’m still ...

Read More →

Why Asset Allocation May Be A Sinking Ship

When I started in the business in 1991, one of the biggest fundamental teachings was the concept of asset allocation.  Asset allocation is all about the notion that different assets classes offer returns that are not perfectly correlated, hence diversification reduces the overall risk in terms of the variability of returns for a given level of expected return. (www.wikipedia.com) Today’s world of asset allocation uses these fancy pie charts that show clients cash, corporate bonds, international bonds, government bonds, large cap stock, mid cap stock, small cap stock, international stock, emerging markets, commodities, real estate, and many more different types of asset classes.   The idea of all of these asset classes are supposed to act and look a lot like magnets.  By having a balance of these asset classes, while some areas have worse years other categories will have better years, minimizing the overall risk. The world’s global economy is so intertwined that many asset classes are more closely tied ...

Read More →

10 Places To Get Free Stuff On Your Birthday

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to….was a famous song done by Lesley Gore in 1965 that has stood the test of time.   In the seven years I have been bringing you smart money moves, one topic I haven’t discussed is how to get free schwag on your birthday.   So, here is my top ten list on places to get FREE stuff on your special day. Auntie Anne’s – Sign up for Pretzel Perks and get a free pretzel on your birthday. Chick fil a – Become an Email Insider and get a special birthday offer. Dunkin’ Donuts – Get a free beverage on your birthday by signing up for the DD Perks Rewards Program. Hallmark – Get a free card and a coupon for 20% off one item when you become a Hallmark Crown Rewards member. Moe’s Southwest Grill – Get a coupon for a free birthday burrito when you join their eWorld. Panera – Join MyPanera and get a free pastry on your birthday. RedBox – Get the Redbox Play Pass and receive ...

Read More →

$10 For A Gallon Of Gas??

Over the years, part of my weekly column of Your Smart Money Moves is to help you become better at finding small money traps that can hurt you when you travel.   Recently, I had an experience with Hertz Rent A Car that I thought I would share with all of you for the next time you rent a car on a business trip or a vacation. I am part of the Hertz Number One Gold Club which easily allows me to access getting to a car quickly and getting to my destination.   One of the questions you’ll get asked whether you check out at the exit or the counter is whether or not you want to fill the tank up on your way back or you would rather that they fill the tank up for you when you return the vehicle.   Even though the signs are pronounced at the counter and the exit gate, many consumers simply don’t read what ...

Read More →

How To Survive Planning For Retirement and College At The Same Time

For Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers the quandary that faces them smack in the face is the juggling act of planning to pay for their kids’ college education while also socking money away for retirement.   Was it that 25 years ago this was an easy task or has the never ending spike in college education costs officially pressured parents in the corner of their financial house?  While these waters are tricky to navigate, here are my four smart money moves to stay on the balancing beam of this difficult financial routine. Set Realistic Goals- This is probably the single most important step in the routine.  You must sit your children down and be absolutely transparent around what is and what is not possible for your financial situation.  Don’t get their hopes up to attend an out of state private college institution if you know that you cannot afford it or it will cost them an arm and leg for debt.   ...

Read More →

Failure to Launch

The other day, I came across an old Matthew McConaughey movie about a young adult that just did not want to move out of his parent’s house because he had it so good.  It got me thinking about the financial impact living at home has on young adults.  The majority of twenty-somethings are really not interested in living with Mom and Dad long-term.  But a NerdWallet Study has found those who stay at home until age 25 can retire five years earlier. Today’s Millennials are coming out of school with more student loan debt than earlier generations and residential rent has been rising by double digits just over the last 3 years: these are just 2 of the factors that are pushing the average expected retirement age for today’s college graduates to age 75.  This does not leave a lot of golden years to live out those retirement dreams. There are some changes that can be made in your personal ...

Read More →

Breaking Down The Tax Plans Of Our Future President

With both the Republican and Democratic debates heating up now, it is probably a good time to attempt to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the future plans of the nominees on how they will change the tax code.  With our national debt soaring to 19 trillion dollars, it is certain we will need a way to balance our budget and right the ship of the financials in this country.  As a finance and accounting guy, I full well know that you cannot run a negative debt situation in perpetuity.  It just doesn’t work.  So, here are the cliff notes to some of the tax plans being bandied about by the frontrunners. Donald Trump (www.donaldjtrump.com) – Trump’s plan has married couples earning less than $50,000 paying no income taxes which will remove more than 75 million households and offers a top tax rate of 25%. The Trump Tax Plan Achieves These Goals: If you are single and earn ...

Read More →

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 ...

Read More →

179 Reasons Business Owners Need This Tax Deduction

In the flurry of tax changes that happened for 2016, one of the most overlooked deductions by small business owners is the Section 179 tax deduction.   This deduction was set up to allow business owners to deduct many different types of equipment used for their business.  In fact, there were certain loopholes within this tax code to allow for the purchase of certain vehicles as well. The IRS has set the Section 179 tax deduction limit in 2016 for $500,000 and the overall phase out is $2 million.   There was a little known act that got enacted called PATH (Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015).   PATH presented business owners with a significant opportunity to purchase software, technology, and equipment and if structured correctly expense all of it off in the year they pay for it versus depreciating it down the road. One of the most frequently asked questions is when businesses lease or buy equipment is whether or ...

Read More →

How To Lead By Learning From The Powerball

A few Wednesday’s ago, a magical thing happened at exactly 10:59 p.m.. Millions of Americans were glued to the TV as the Powerball Jackpot escalated to heights never seen before in the history of the Powerball. Billboards had to change the M to a B in order to even let people know where the jackpot stood leading up to Wednesday’s drawing. And then it happened. The winning numbers for the record-breaking jackpot were 4, 8, 19, 27, 34 and the Powerball 10. With three winners across the United States, each ticket was reported to be worth more than $528,000,000. Even with 11 other winners of $1,000,000 in the state of California, people swarmed outside of the Chino Hills 7-11 in hopes of catching a glimpse of the new celebrity Powerball winner(s) who will have more press coverage than when the Beatles did a worldwide tour. While many television stations, radio stations, and newspapers were covering all of the financial, tax, ...

Read More →

Should You Be Luke Skywalker or Yoda

Most people want to be the star of the show – the hero that saves the day.  Whether you are a business owner, have employees that you manage, or part of a team, it’s not hard to be the star of the show by crushing that work presentation or exceeding your sales goals.  In life you have these hero opportunities all the time, to be Luke Skywalker, the destroyer of the Death Star and the hero of the day. However, it is the heroes or those behind the heroes that are more influential? Maybe instead of being Luke, you are better off being Yoda.  You remember Yoda, right?  The small, green Jedi Master that mentored Luke.  Being a mentor to those around you can be far more rewarding than being the hero.  We all have a knowledge base that is beneficial to someone.   Spreading that knowledge will increase your sphere of influence and create greater life wealth. Take a moment ...

Read More →

Six Things You Are Spending Too Much Money On Today

Over the years I’ve realized that budgeting is the hardest thing for most families to do each year.   Soon, I’ll have a 21 Day Budget Cleanse® program that you can use to apply the secrets of short term dieting and exercise to how you handle getting the right budgeting habit sin your family no matter what your financial situation.   Since most of our purchases are done in this electronic society through debit or credit card, we often couldn’t tell you what we spend if we had to be within a few dollars of the actual number.  If you haven’t looked lately, here are six items that you are probably spending too much money on in your family budget. Car Payment- I like buying cars for cash, but I know not everyone is able to do this (unless you can get ridiculously low financing).  Your mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than about 25% to 28% of your monthly income and all ...

Read More →

Why Buying An Expensive House Is A Terrible Idea Now

The recent hike by the Fed for interest rates and their 2016 guidance will certainly have a big impact on how the bond and stock markets perform in 2016.   While housing has been red hot over the past six years, here are three reasons why buying an expensive house is a terrible idea now as interest rates climb over the next twelve to twenty four months. INTEREST RATE AND HOME PRICES- Remember, that as interest rates rise it means that new mortgage payment will cost Americans more money on a monthly basis for the same amount of mortgage.  Just as prices have risen during this declining low interest rate environment, as interest rates rise you will see the higher end of the real estate market decline.  Where else could it go if interest rates go up by 1% or 2%?  In addition, you will see the assessments for your local and county taxes go up as it pertains to your ...

Read More →

It’s All About Two Words. SUPPORT and EXPECTATIONS.

As 2016 kicks off, both small business owners and corporate executives alike will be executing their business plans at the work place.   We know that leadership and culture are two big factors that can make a business or a division of a company become successful.   I thought I would start off 2016 with a simple exercise I have used over the years to help you avoid making the biggest leadership mistake you can ever make. “It’s all about two words.  SUPPORT and EXPECTATIONS.”—-Ted Jenkin If you put these two words together, I’m going to give you four different equations to consider.  If the math is done correctly, you can lead your business or company to a high level of success along with outstanding retention.  If the math is done incorrectly, you’ll be scratching your head as why the explosion went off in your business with a mess larger than Three Mile Island. Expectations With Support = TRUST Happiness ...

Read More →

Tryin To Make A Dollar Out of 15 Cents

No, this is not a post on the famous rap song, nor am I recommending that you follow any of the lyrics from the Tupac or Master P songs.   However, I am often asked the question: “How can I get more out of my paycheck?”  There are plenty of things you can do to stretch those dollars in your pocket. A few years ago there was a Wall Street Journal survey1 that asked “If you were to face a $2,000 unexpected expense in the next month, how would you get the funds you need?”  Only 24.9% of respondents reported being certainly able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days for an unanticipated repair or expense.  It begs the question you should ask if you have the emergency reserves for these expenses. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for that unexpected expense: Know the difference between wants and needs Pay off credit cards (you probably do ...

Read More →

Six Things That Will Cost You More Money In 2016

Inflation appears to be one of those financial statistics that on paper is defying gravity.   According to www.inflationdata.com, the inflation rate last year was less than one percent and in some months of the year it was actually negative.   For many of us, the inflation numbers may say that prices are staying flat or even going down, but when we hit the check out register our wallets tell us another story.  While some prices may stay flat in 2016, here is your smart money moves guide to six things that will cost you more money in 2016. COLLEGE- While inflation has been hovering around an all-time low, many of the major colleges and universities have increased costs in the five years in the 6% to 7% range.  Just check out this historical cost of college from the University of Tennessee showing just how steep the increases have been over the past thirty years. http://onestop.utk.edu/files/2015/10/tuition_fees_history.pdf.  Since this is about supply and ...

Read More →

The Change Jar Has Gone Electronic

The change jar has been a staple for many years to teach people both young and old about the value of saving a buck. While most people don’t think a penny is worth much anymore, the change jar can show you the power of saving money on a daily basis simply by dropping the change in your pocket at the end of the day into a big old glass jar.   Before you know it, you can save $50, $100, or even more if you put your mind to it over the course of a few months or even the year.  Look for my change jar tips coming up in a new year’s article. For those of you who like the idea of a change jar saving by making small deposits every day, there are now a few electronic websites to help you with a small dollar saving strategy.  Try these out as well for your kids!! Smarty Pig– Smarty Pig ...

Read More →

Start The New Year Off With A Money Bang!

It’s that time of year again, and as 2016 kicks off you are likely considering your new year’s resolutions.   According to www.statisticbrain.com, the top three 2015 resolutions were as follows: Lose Weight Get Organized Spend Less, Save More Getting rid of debt, making a budget, and figuring how to save more are often financial New Year’s resolutions that individuals and families have to get financially healthy. Here are five of my ideas that can help you get on track in 2016: Do A Budget Cleanse- It takes twenty one days to develop a habit, so spend fifteen minutes every day working on one line item in your family budget to see if you can save money.  An easy one to take care of is to analyze your year-end credit card statements and cancel one recurring charge for a service you didn’t use in 2015. Pay Off At Least One Debt- Debt is just as emotionally traumatizing as the actual black ...

Read More →

Isn’t It Time To Refinance Your Life Insurance?

There’s a reason people love to shop at places including Costco and Wal-Mart. There’s the usual reasons that people like to get good deals, but more importantly if you are a smart money moves shopper buying in bulk can often get you the best deal on what you buy if you really need the item. For certain, one of the biggest item bought in bulk is bottled water, but hardly ever do people think about buying their life insurance in bulk. Why is that? The last five to six years, I’ve been amazed about how much people talk about the concept of refinancing their homes. If you do the math, if someone lives in a home long enough a refinance can absolutely make sense for their situation. If you have a $300,000 mortgage and go from a 4.5% interest rate down to a 4% interest rate, it can mean tens of thousands of dollars of saved interest over the life ...

Read More →

Is There Really Value In Having A Holiday Party?

Over the past weekend, we had our annual holiday party at Top Golf.  If you haven’t been to one of the locations it is a ton of fun even if you aren’t good at golf.  As I talk with people from companies both large and small, many of them have ‘cut back’ and opted to either not have a holiday party or do something very informal at work.   After our annual holiday party, it reminded me that these gatherings are more than just a ‘party’, and that many companies underestimate how gatherings like these may positively affect the people within their organization. So, what is the value of having a holiday party? You need to recognize that the holiday party may not be a ‘relaxing’ night out on the town for some of the people who attend the event.  While forced social time with work colleagues is a fun thing for some people, for others it’s just another obligation so ...

Read More →

Single Women Going Broke By The Cocktail

For those that watched the glamorous life of Carrie Bradshaw and her cronies in Sex And The City, did you ever wonder what it really cost to maintain a Manhattan apartment, fabulous clothing, and dining and entertainment throughout the city?   One quoted number by Carrie Bradshaw herself is that she spent well over $40,000 on footwear alone over the course of her lifetime.  Could that be true and why is it that so many women now in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s are struggling financially? Recently, Pew Research collected data and published a report that a record amount of adults today in their 20’s and early 30’s are unmarried.  If the trends continue in the current direction, one in four will never ever get married.   The biggest reason given by this age group for not getting married was for a lack of financially being ready.   Women were especially concerned about tying the knot because of financial concerns.   As salaries and ...

Read More →

10 Things That Annoyed Me In 2015

There are things that annoy all of us.   Don’t you wish you could just make a list so you could go off on some Dennis Miller like tirade of things that just set you off?   They say as you get older, that more things make you cranky.  I’m not sure if that is accurate or not, but here is the official list of 10 things that annoyed me in 2015. Alex Trebek- We watch Jeopardy many nights, and frankly I’m sick and tired of Trebek’s smarminess acting like he knows every answer known to man. Pretty easy with a cue card.  The worst of it is when he made fun of a guy who won the show twice from Nashville, TN, letting the audience know that even though he talks slow he still knows his stuff. Taquerias and Burger Places- Enough is enough. How many ways can you make a taco or a gourmet burger?  I would easily trade in ...

Read More →

Can You Loan Money Like The Big Banks Do?

The one lesson you should have learned in 2015, but most investors really haven’t paid attention to is the proliferation of alternative investments that have nothing to do with traditional stocks and bonds.   Since the collapse of the banks, real estate, and stock market in 2008, most investors have paid their primary attention to the stock market and real estate rebound while also waiting for the Fed to raise interest rates.   Has anybody paid attention to the growth of alternative opportunities that can invest in right on the internet? The Peer To Peer Microloan Market- While investors have been struggling to get decent returns in the bond market or find good investment grade yielding bonds, the peer to peer microloan market has grown by leaps and bounds.  Companies such as www.lendingclub.com and www.propser.com offer the opportunity for you to manage your own portfolio of loans between you and individuals typically looking to borrow between 0 to $30,000.  Will you be ...

Read More →

Important 2016 Rules For IRA’s and 401(k)’s

As 2016 rapidly approaches us, it’s important that you know the rules about changes upcoming for 401(k)’s and IRA’s so you get off to a great start in 2016.    People often overlook funding an IRA because they don’t how the qualifications work within their family.  Whether you are a few years from retirement or you are just beginning your savings plan, keep this handy article by your side so you make the most of your retirement contributions for 2016. How Much Can I Contribute? The good news is that 2016 brings a calendar year where nothing really changes in terms of your overall maximum contributions for 401(k)’s and IRA’s.   For 401(k)/403(b) investors, if you are under 50 years old you can put away up to $18,000, and those that turn the age of 50 in 2016 or are older than 50 can make a ‘catch up’ contribution of $6,000 (the maximum being $24,000 overall).  For IRA/Roth IRA investors, if you ...

Read More →

The $40 Underwear

As a financial advisor, I tend to be frugal when spending money. I use coupons; buy groceries on sale; get shoes and clothes off the rack; and purchase underwear in a three pack at Walmart. (Maybe this is more than you want to know about me). So recently while in the car with my wife a commercial came on the radio for an Underwear clothing company. It intrigued me as they claimed that their underwear was made of such great quality and material that it felt like you were wearing nothing at all. A design guarantee that you will never get a wedgie and it will never ride up on you. They never stated how much the underwear cost, so the rest of the conversation with my wife was on how amazing that sounded, which then went into a 30min conversation on the history of the technological advancements of underwear. (Yes, we have been married a long time and that ...

Read More →

Five Financial Mistakes To Avoid In A Divorce

When couples split up, it hardly ever ends up 100% friendly.   While most people think about the emotional strain of divorce, the financial assets of the couple including their retirement accounts must get split up as well.   Making the wrong financial choices during a divorce can cause a great deal of financial strain down the road.   It could lead to unnecessary taxes and penalties as you continue to work toward your financial goals.  Here are five mistakes to avoid financially when going through a divorce. Update Your Beneficiaries– One of the biggest mistakes I see after a divorce is the failure to update your beneficiary information.   It’s likely that your ex was the primary beneficiary and you never named contingent beneficiaries.  It’s a good time to go back and determine what family members should be on your beneficiary designations as your IRA’s and life insurance contracts are an operation of law at death.  They will go exactly to the people ...

Read More →

Three Applications To Declutter Your Life

Every day, we become more and more inundated with the overwhelming onslaught of e-mails in our inboxes.  Technology was supposed to make life easier, but in some ways it has just made us all more accessible.   If you are like me, you would swear that every time you click the unsubscribe button that you automatically got enrolled into another set of e-mails.  Here are three applications I found that could help free up more time so you, too, can focus on increasing your bottom line. Unroll.Me- Swipe Left.  Swipe Right.  You can even Swipe Up.   Unroll.Me is one of the first applications I could find to help you declutter a subscription infested mailbox.   Simply download the Unroll.Me application on android or i-phone.   Once you install the application, you can put in your e-mail account and unroll.me will scan your inbox for all of the subscriptions you are currently enrolled in at this time.  If you decide to swipe left, you’ll ...

Read More →

23 Orders NOT On The Menu At Fast Food Restaurants

We all like the idea of belonging to a special club.   From time to time, I’ve found myself in line at Starbucks’s and swear that the person in front of me was speaking in a foreign language while they place their order. If you want to be in the world of food ‘prohibilition’ here is a list of 23 orders not on the menu at some of your favorite fast food restaurants across the country.   Since it is holiday season, perhaps on one of your days off you might just stroll in and shock the people on line with you by placing one of these fast food orders. (all the credit for these 23 go to my friends at www.hlntv.com) Breakfasts of champions: 10:35 Sandwich (McDonald’s): So named because you can pretty much only get it during the magical few minutes between breakfast and lunch. It’s basically the innards of a McDouble (meat, cheese, condiments if you want ’em), plus the egg, ...

Read More →

Is it Time To “UPGRADE” Your Home

Your children are getting older and you need more space.  The commute to the office is getting unbearable.  Congratulations…you just got the promotion you have earned through years of hard work.  Now it’s time to buy that new home that you have been dreaming about.  What should I do next to turn this dream into a reality? Many people jump in their cars or start searching the internet to look for that new home.  STOP!  Here are three important steps that will help you avoid wasted time and potentially give you an advantage throughout the buying process. How is your credit? Your ability to qualify for a mortgage will primarily be based on your income and your credit standing.  We all think we pretty much know what is on our credit report and our FICO scores.  Surprise!  That’s not always the case.  Many credit reports have inaccuracies that will hurt your chances to qualify for a loan so they need ...

Read More →

Four Money Moves To Make On Black Friday

Black Friday will be coming up right around the corner and the deals will be hitting your e-mail like a hailstorm over the next few days.   While Black Friday deals are always tempting, there are certainly money traps that can actually make you spend more than you should on this shopaholic day.   Here are my four smart money moves to make on Black Friday. Don’t Be An Impulse Buyer– Remember that there is a difference between Black Friday “deals” and Black Friday “sales”.   The language can be very confusing, so if you are planning on going shopping in a particular store make sure you know what deal items you are going to buy.   Once you are in the store, you’ll be tempted to just get it done while you are there which can be a big mistake because you’ll be buying merchandise that is not the best price. Get Social– It pays to be a ‘fan’ on social media pages ...

Read More →

Wouldn’t Bernie Sanders Like Participation Trophies?

I don’t often comment on politics since this is a money column, but after watching the Democratic debate on Saturday (really, on a Saturday?) I thought I would comment on a few of the remarks from Bernie Sanders and why I’m 100% certain that participation trophies will be in any bill he would pass down the road. About five years ago, I wrote an article about why I detest participation trophies that are handed out today in sports.   You may have even seen a comment a year ago from pro football player James Harrison who said himself that he didn’t like the fact that his six year and eight year old got participation trophies.  While you might think it’s cruel that only the first (and/or) second place team or individuals earn (and I say earn) trophies for playing sports, it should motivate all of our children to work harder the next season so they can be winners the following year.  ...

Read More →