Review Category : Gen X & Y Financial Advice

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 ...

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Helping You Not Have A Holiday Financial Hangover

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin stops by the studio to help you not suffer a major financial holiday hangover! Taped 11/29/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Sign Up For His Fun & Casual Financial Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/eBqro Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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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 ...

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Ways To Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is a huge burden on many Americans.  Once you have accumulated the debt, it feels like it is impossible to get out from under.  While getting your current spending under control is the first step (and you may need a financial counselor to help you); there are some things you can do to help pay down the debt. Here are some strategies on paying off that credit card debt.   Paying more than the minimum.  This is a must.  Dig through your cash flow and find a way to cut out expenses, so you can increase your monthly payment to the credit card. Use the calendar to your advantage.  If you can make more than a minimum payment, a proven way to pay more is by make separate additional payments.  Try making a separate half payment every 14 days. Laddering.  Most people with credit card debt have debt on multiple cards.  Make a list of all the ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Ted Jenkin – Helps You With Your FOMO!

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin from Oxygen Financial stops by to keep you from losing money due to suffering from FOMO! That’s the “fear of missing out”. Taped 11/3/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. Sign Up For His Fun & Casual Financial Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/eBqro Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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Tricks To Spend Less Money At The Store

Stores and restaurants are really really smart at figuring out how to get you to spend more money.   These are time tested marketing techniques that you won’t even think about before or after you make your purchase.  The key for these stores, restaurants, and outlets is to make you feel good…..like you got a deal or you are special or you are one of the exclusive few that got this opportunity.   The goal is to separate you from your money.   Here are six traps to watch out for that will trick your brain into spending more money. THE NO DOLLAR SIGN TRICK —This one is most seen when you eat out at an upscale restaurant. You’ll notice that they will list a meal with the number 15 (note NO $$) or they will actually spell out in some artsy fartsy font By not showing you an actual dollar sign it literally makes you think less about money thus tricking your ...

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What To NOT Waste Your Money On If You Become Suddenly Rich!

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Kile Lewis from Oxygen Financial fills in for Ted today to tell us what to NOT waste your money on if you become suddenly rich! Taped 10/25/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Sign Up For His Fun & Casual Financial Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/eBqro Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Ted Jenkin Tells You What Not To Waste Money On

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin from Oxygen Financial stops by the studio to tell you what not to waste money on because chances are high you will lose it. Taped 10/4/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Sign Up For His Fun & Casual Financial Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/eBqro Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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Quit Buying Stuff You Can’t Afford

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

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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The Budget Cleanse

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin from Oxygen Financial stops by to help you get rich by following the Budget Cleanse! Taped 9/13/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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How Millennials Can Retire With A Million Dollars

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

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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 ...

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How To Win The Gold Medal With Your Financial Plan

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

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How Much Does a Puppy Cost?

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

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How To Do A Wedding For Under $10,000

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

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Remember When You Could Leave Your Door Unlocked

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

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Help For When You Get Divorced

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Ted Jenkin drops by from Oxygen Financial to give you steps to getting the most out of your divorce! Taped 7/28/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Breathe Easier with oXYGen Financial: http://www.oxygenfinancial.net ...

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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 ...

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Sh*t Nobody Says About Money

Several years ago, one of my favorite YouTube comedy teams Tripp and Tyler, came out with a short clip called S*it Nobody Says.  If you have not seen it (especially because there are a few Atlanta references), here it is for your enjoyment http://bit.ly/29f22uP.  Since it is summertime, I thought I would have some fun and give you my top items over the past twenty five years about S*it Nobody Says About Money.  Here you go…. I wish my kids would move home and stay until they get married. I hope he buys me an engagement ring from Zales. I can’t wait for the IRS to audit me. I hope she buys more pillows for the bed this weekend. I hope he has a good time at the Strip Club. I’ve been dying to buy a Smart Car. I should up my kids’ allowances. Private school college tuition really is a good deal. If I needed to really cut back, ...

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Talking About Lottery Winnings

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Talking About Lottery Winnings Taped 7/05/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Breathe easier at http://oXYGenFinancial.net ...

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Five Money Considerations Before You Move

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

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Pay Off The Mortgage Or Invest The Money

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

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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 ...

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

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

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Talking About Lottery Winnings with Ted Jenkin

How to Get Rich w/ oXYGen Financial – Ted Jenkin | Atlanta Money Guy Topic: Talking About Lottery Winnings Taped 7/05/16 Listen every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. on ROCK 100.5 | Atlanta’s Rock Station to “Your Smart Money Moves” with The Rock 100.5 Morning Show and oXYGen Financial. Ted Jenkin, CFP® and Kile Lewis, CRPC® are the founders of oXYGen Financial, and our chief financial officers. All your money questions answered Breathe easier at http://oXYGenFinancial.net ...

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The Mom’s Summer Guide To Saving Money

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

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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 ...

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Which Financial Documents Do You Need To Keep?

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

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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 ...

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The Greatest Fear In Life: Dying or Running Out Of Money?

As we get older it is natural to begin thinking about the frightening little word called death. But what is more scary . . . the proposition of dying or the proposition of living but having run out money to support your lifestyle? About five years ago, Allianz Life did a poll of people aged 44 to 75 and more than 60% said they were much more fearful of depleting their funds than they were of dying. It is interesting to hear this because the expectations people have about retirement are going up by the day. It used to be that $1,000,000 seemed like a lot money. Now, many Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers that I come across say they will need $2,000,000, $3,000,000, or even $5,000,000 just to live a comfortable retirement. The study Allianz did discussed that people who had a pension felt much more confident about retirement than those who did not have a pension. Part of ...

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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 ...

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Top 5 Tenting Tips For Planning An Outdoor Holiday Party

Size does matter: The very first thing you will need to determine is what size tent you will need to accommodate your party. To determine this, your tent provider will need to know the following: The number of guest you are expecting & what style of seating you prefer (i.e. round tables, banquet tables or cocktail style). Will you need space for a buffet(s), bar(s), dance floor, stage, photo booth, etc.? Baby it’s cold outside… Depending on your location, December has the potential to be very chilly. Be sure you get with your tent provider to ensure you have sufficient heat. When possible, we recommend using multiple smaller heaters rather than fewer larger heaters.  By placing these in different locations it will help keep the heat distributed evenly. The ideal temperature for a tent is 60 degrees. Sole Mates Knowing your guest’s footwear is typically not the first thing that comes to mind as an important detail when planning an ...

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Five Money Moves To Make Before You Start A Home Business

Many people dream about starting a business that they can run while they are still wearing their pajamas.  You may be a mom or dad who is wanting to run a little side business while your children are still growing.  Or perhaps you have come up with a special recipe for brownies or cookies that you can sell right out of your house.   Whatever the business may be, you might want to consider what financial moves you need to make to get your business up to speed.  Here are five smart money moves for your new home business. Make A Separation Of Church And State-  The IRS isn’t going to like it if you tell them you spent money on your personal credit card when it was really for your business.   Sooner than later, make sure to get yourself a separate business checking account and business credit card so you can put the right expenses where they belong.  If you ...

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How Much Will Ashley Madison Really Cost People?

When hackers recently exposed a reported 32 million Ashley Madison customers’ names, credit card numbers, emails, home addresses and sexual preferences, the world went into a virtually tizzy.   Does this mean that the notorious dating website for cheaters failed at the very thing its business was supposed to be built around which was letting its customers have secret affairs?   So, what’s the price of these undercover rendezvous going to really cost America?  Here’s a breakdown from your smart money moves on what it might cost people when it is all said and done. Despite the fact that probably all e-mails weren’t into having a secret affair, there’s no doubt that the widespread exposure of hacked e-mails is going to cause a ton of divorce or a ton of marital counseling.  One woman said, “I looked up my husband’s email and he was on there. I confronted him and he denied it. We both went to the Ashley Madison site together ...

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A Newer Cheaper Whole Foods?

When I wrote the article about Whole Foods taking your whole paycheck, I talked about the high prices of organic food grocery shopping and how it was eating away at the budgets of families around America.   With more and more Millennials focused on being cost conscious and stiff competition by a litany of other organic grocery stores, Whole Foods has responded with a newer small cheaper version of its parent stores.  It will be called 365 by Whole Foods Market. It’s not a surprise to me that the initial stores will be targeted in hipster markets.  My guess is if you are traveling to the stores with only a unicycle, you might even get a complimentary bag of kale.  Just kidding!  The initial store is set to open in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles which was recently rated the number one hipster area in the United States. When compared to smaller more personalized stores such as Trader Joe’s, ...

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How To Save Money On These Six High Marked Up Products

We know that companies who make products have to make a profit.  The question is how much profit should they be making?  You could argue that some of making profits is about supply and demand and at other times the value the consumer sees in the product itself.  However, I’ve witnessed a bunch of day to day products that are highly market up where you can really save some money if you use some alternative shopping strategies.  Here are six products that are highly marked up, and your smart money moves alternatives to increasing your bottom line. Bottled Water– I guess branding is everything when it comes to bottled water.  It started many years ago with the special brand of mineral water called Evian, and today you have brands such as Fiji and even Black water brought you by the gentlemen from the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  If you are going to use bottled water (from a store), you ...

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Five Financial Tips For Same Sex Couples

When the Supreme Court recently ruled that the bank on same-sex marriages in 13 states was unconstitutional, many same sex couples will now face a different set of rules when it comes their overall financial plan.   We have had specialists in this arena on our staff for years, but now is the time to really revisit the best way to be the CEO’s of your family finances.  Here are five tips you may want to consider for your future. Revisit Your Group Benefits During Open Enrollment Season- More than 50% of U.S. employers offers employees the opportunity to buy life insurance on their spouse through the company group policy.   This is really good news for same sex legally married couples as long as the group policy is covered underneath the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).   You should revisit your personal insurance situation and the best way to maximize your coverage while minimizing your cost for your family. Prepare ...

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5 Reasons Gen X Needs To Build Their Own Wealth

At 46 years old, the statistics would classify me as Generation X.  The media defines this generation by people who were born between 1965 and 1979, although I would say practically it is more in the line of people born from 1960 to 1980.  For those that fall within these age brackets, I think you better start planning on not receiving much of an inheritance and focusing on building your own wealth.   I don’t say this because your parent’s bumper sticker says “I’m spending my children’s inheritance”, but really because of five trends I see happening over the next twenty years that may spend it for you. Your parents have reached the age of 65– According to the Center for National Health Statistics (www.cdc.gov/nchs), men who reach the age of 65 have a normal life expectancy of 82 years old.  For women it is even better with the average female who turns the age of 65 having a normal life ...

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Tony Bennett Proves You May Never Want To Retire

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful privilege to see Anthony Dominick “Tony” Benedetto a.k.a. Tony Bennett perform in concert at the ripe young age of 88.   On August 3rd, he turned 89.   In fact, what made the performance even more amazing is that he sang duets with Lady Gaga who strutted the stage with at least six outfit changes.   As I stood in amazement watching this legend belt away his famous tunes, it made me think about how people should be approaching this word we call retirement. A friend of mine and fellow Wall Street Journal author Professor Olivia Mitchell from the Wharton School of Business recently pointed out in an article about how people are aging more vibrantly than they did in the past.   On the left is the famous artist Albrecht Durer’s portrait of his 63-year-old mother in 1514.  On the right is the lovely actress Helen Mirren at the same age more recently. Portrait of the ...

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8 Ways To Make Your 401(k) Balance Grow Faster

The 401(k) has become, for most individuals, the cornerstone of their retirement savings.   As these funds grow into the six figure level, and for some into the seven figure level, actively managing your 401(k) will become an important component to your overall plan for the future.  Often, I get the question about how someone can make their 401(k) balance grow faster.   Here are my eight smart money moves tips on how you can drive your 401(k) balance at a greater pace than it may be moving today. Increase your contributions every year- Many 401(k) participants cannot start with the maximum level of savings.  Every year you should work hard to increase your contribution level by at least 1% until you reach the maximum contribution (2015 Levels: $18,000 under the age of 50/$24,000 for those who turn 50 this year and above).   If you get the money out of your hands, it will be harder to spend especially if you are ...

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Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, and Money Happiness

Every year that the birthday clock turns another year I ask myself one simple question, “Am I getting any wiser?” Many say that gaining wisdom in life is far more powerful than any bit of knowledge that you can acquire. Of course, you can know a lot of information about many different subjects, but the key to making progress is about applying your wisdom to situations for the best possible outcome. I’ve come to the conclusion when it comes down to two important areas in our lives, we often spend more time reminiscing or hoping than we do actually enjoying. Those particular areas are sports and money. It dawned on me several weeks ago that we don’t spend enough of our lives enjoying the ride. Far too often, we churn our energy hoping for dreams of yesteryear or the way we wish it could be versus the way that it really is at this time. Take Tiger Woods. Tiger likely ...

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Three Great Pieces Of Software For Divorced Couples

As more couples get divorced, the challenge of managing the aftermath become more and more difficult for families.   Who gets the kids on which holiday?  Is it your week or is it my week?   Calendar management is challenging as it is for families today, but the world of electronics may be making it easier for divorced couples who are managing children and their schedules.  Here are three pieces of software you may want to consider using after a divorce. Our Family Wizard– This piece of software is one of the most advanced child custody management tools for your family.   The joint custody calendar or divorce calendar can help to remove any confusion over parenting time responsibilities.  Having clear records and accurate documentation can help you to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications that could otherwise lead to you back to court.  The OFW Calendar is also compatable with long-distance parenting, blended families, foster care families, and more. (source: our family wizard).  There is ...

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Should I Lend Money To A Friend?

A late night call comes in from an old college friend of yours who now lives miles away.   You spend an hour on the phone reminiscing about the good old days in the fraternity, and then your buddy hits you up with a question that comes out of left field.  “I’ve kind of hit a tough patch in life and I know things have gone well for you in your business career.  Do you think you could loan me $10,000 for just a short period of time?”   He goes on to tell you that he’s got a new job lined up and things are starting to turn the corner so he shouldn’t need the money long.    How’s this for a tough situation?   Let’s be honest (having seen this a million times), if you loan money to a friend or family member and everything is informal and off the cuff you should NEVER expect to see that money back.  Consider it ...

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Why Our Kids Want To Stay At The Ritz Carlton?

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

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How To Negotiate Your Next $10,000 Pay Raise

You just finished up your taxes and realized that you either owe money or the refund you received just wasn’t enough to complete the remodel you had in mind this year. You hoped your income would go up here in 2015, but once again you were saddled with a cost of living adjustment and hoping the company will promote you sometime in the future. Are you serious about getting that $10,000 pay raise this year? Pay raises don’t happen by accident. They don’t happen to people who wait for them to happen. They come to those who prepare on the right way to get the $10,000 pay raise. Here are my five tips on how to make this happen for your future. Where Does Your Salary Compare In The Industry?–  I’m surprised by the number of people who never take the time to go to www.salary.com, www.glassdoor.com,or www.payscale.com to see exactly where their current salary compares to the same type of individuals in ...

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5 Career Moves To Make To Get Promoted In Your First Year On The Job

Do you want to put your life and your career on the fast track?   In my corporate career, I got promoted as one of the youngest district managers, field vice presidents, and group vice presidents in the history of the Fortune 500 I worked for during my corporate life.  I quickly learned that if you want to make more progress in a year than most people do over the first 10 to 20 years of their career, there are a few key lessons you need to learn to get on that fast track.  Those that follow these five lessons can set themselves up within a year to get a promotion and advance with light speed in their organization.  Choose The Right Boss– You’ll get asked all kinds of challenging interview questions and most certainly the one that asks where you want to be three to five years from now.   One of the most key questions you want to ask your ...

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Don’t Trust Sales People Who Wear Pinky Rings, Bow Ties, or Chew Gum

Sales people come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities.   We generally know why most people buy from someone.  It’s because they like them and they trust them.  Even though I’m in the business of sales, I have to buy many things from people as well.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three types of people I would never buy something from at any point in my future.   Those that wear pinky rings, bow ties, or chew gum.   Here’s the lowdown on these sales personalities. The Pinky Ring–  I’ve watched many of the recent Marvel Comics movies including Iron Man and the Green Lantern.  Just because you watch one of these movies doesn’t mean you deserve to wear a Green Lantern pinky ring or some ruby stoned pinky ring that looks like it popped out of a gumball machine at Publix.   The pinky ring screams of Mafioso movies I’ve watched like the godfather, and every time I get pitched ...

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Is It The Right ‘TIME’ To Rent A Watch

Subscription programs.  Subscription programs.  It seems as if subscription programs are the new craze when it comes to getting consumers involved with having access to luxury items.  Since most Americans don’t have the real financial health to be making expensive discretionary purchases such as an exclusive second home in Paris, a 100 foot yacht, or a brand new Ferrari, subscription based programs have created access to sample some of most luxurious things in life with the stroke of a credit card order.   One recent evolution of this for businessmen is to be able to rent luxury watches. Typically, watches such as Rolex, Panerai, and Cartier may have been out of reach for many men.   Or perhaps you just couldn’t stomach the idea of forking out $10,000 or $15,000 for a watch that will be the only one you’ll wear for the next twenty years.   Wouldn’t it be nice to actually get some variety to the watches that you wear for ...

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Why Didn’t You Beat The Stock Market?

The S&P 500 achieved positive returns for the prior past six years (2009-2014) and was slightly up as we entered 2015 before the downturn over the recent quarters. Often, when investors hear on the television that the markets are up they become obsessed on whether their portfolio is beating ‘the market’. This begs the question of which market an investor is talking about beating because there are many types of markets including international, real estate, gold, and bonds, as an example. It may surprise you when I tell you that even though large company stocks have done well in this time frame (2009-2014), not once did large company stocks top the chart. In 2010 and 2014, real estate investment trusts were at the top. In 2013, small company stocks led the way. In 2012 and 2009, Emerging Markets were the top overall category and 2011 treasury inflation protected securities led the way. Although, it probably feels as if every time ...

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Use Social Media To Crack The Hidden Job Market

In just a few months, another year of college will come to a close and thousands of students are beginning to ponder about what kind of work they want to do for a summer job.   Just ‘googling’ the words “available internships” isn’t likely going to be enough in today’s competitive job market.  If you really want to get a jump on your competition, the social media you utilize every single day could be the key to cracking the hidden job market to secure yourself the summer job that you want both financially and professionally.  Here are three tips to get you moving in the right direction. Use The “Get Introduced” Tab Within Linked In–  I wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that the best financial move you could make during college is to get to 1,000 LinkedIn connections. Since LinkedIn is more of a two degrees of separation application than a six degrees of separation application, simply asking ...

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4 Things Pulp Fiction Taught Us About Finances

Recently, I was re-watching the movie Pulp Fiction after 20 years.  These days, when watching old movies, I find points on financial topics that I missed in the first showing.  Here are 4 financial items I picked up from the movie. The Briefcase We never see what is in the famous briefcase.  There are all kinds of theories.  The auora that shines when the case is opened, makes me think there are Gold bars in the case.  Over the last 20 years since the release of the movie, gold has had a compound annualized return of about 7.2%.  While that sounds good, three other classes did better; S&P 500, Oil and Real Estate.  A briefcase full of gold would be nice, but I wonder if Marcellus Wallace had any other assets. Five Dollar Milkshake I was always impressed with the scene at Jack Rabbit Slim’s restaurant where Uma Thurman orders a $5 milkshake.   Vincent Vega (Travolta) has a great line ...

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When Can You Tax Deduct Meals And Entertainment?

Tax time is coming up and inevitably there are questions we get each and every year from small business owners and employees about what they can and cannot deduct.  Of course, it’s probably best to consult a CPA that matches your style of being conservative, middle of the road, or aggressive, but I thought I would give you some direction on several of the questions we get over and over again during tax time.  Here is the ‘your smart money moves’ post on deducting your meals and entertainment expenses. Let’s face the facts.  Most small business owners are downright lousy when it comes to keeping high quality records of their meals and entertainment expenses.  All they do know is that they would like to deduct every trip to Starbuck’s, every lunch they had at Taco Mac, and every dinner they ate on their last vacation.  But the question really is where does the line start and where does the line ...

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Seven Items Going Up In Cost In 2015!

Everybody says that inflation is staying low, but besides what we see at the gas station you wouldn’t know it when you go to the checkout counter.   While it only costs about half to fill up our tanks, some categories of spending continue to defy gravity going into 2015.   Here are seven items that are going to climb in 2015 and your smart money moves alternatives to keep your dollar stretching throughout the year. BOURBON Bourbon sales continue to skyrocket as the demand for higher end bourbon brands continue to be sought out across the country.  These bourbons may need a 10 to 20 year aging process, so production is extremely limited at this time.  However, just like wine, most of the average bourbon drinkers couldn’t really tell the difference between a higher end and lower end bourbon, and some distilleries make multiple brands in the same place just with a different blend.  Try something like Old Crow or Kentucky ...

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10 Questions To Ask Your CPA

If you are hiring an accounting or tax and business firm, it should go without saying that you have a CPA involved in looking over all of the work.   However, not all accounting firms are created equal.     Some accountants are aggressive, some are conservative, and some care about nothing more than just preparing your taxes.   With the tax bomb right coming right around the corner over the next decade, isn’t it time you asked your CPA these important questions? Question #1: Do you believe I’m paying too much, too little, or just the right amount of tax? Beyond simply preparing tax forms, an accountant should be involved in business planning throughout the year. Typically, you should be planning a tax review in the beginning of the year to ensure you create the most efficient tax strategy possible.   If your CPA just gives you the “we are doing great” speech, it could be time for a move Question #2: Do you ...

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Do You Know About The Academic Common Market?

College education is clearly one of the largest financial challenges amongst families in their financial plan today. Parents unfortunately often don’t devise a quality game plan or research all of their options until the 11th hour when their first child goes to college. In fact, many parents inaccurately fill out their FAFSA forms because they don’t research the questions and the actual underlying answers that FAFSA is actually asking for when you fill out the forms. More and more, parents are encouraging children to attend an in state school in an effort to make college costs reasonable. However, one way parents can potentially cut their college tuition costs and have their children attend out of state school is to research the academic common market. Consider this for a moment. The states surrounding you have a similar issue as the state you live in now. They are getting more and more in state applications, and that creates considerable risk to have ...

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The Case Of The Broken Cell Phone

Recently, we took our family to a very fun staycation in Nashville. With three teenagers in our household (17, 15, and 13), we often put all of the children together in a room of their own on vacations. The favorite social media application today for teenagers is Instagram bar none. As we all know, teenagers in every family love to squabble and jab at each other. While my youngest two children began to argue over an Instagram picture, my middle daughter decided it would be a good idea to launch my son’s phone across the room and against the wall with Tom Brady accuracy. Ultimately, when they picked up the phone the entire screen was cracked and the device was completely non-functional. In my opinion, many teenagers today simply don’t understand the value of a dollar. They most certainly don’t understand the cost of technology. To them, it all seems free as long as their mobile devices are working. Even ...

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What Are Your Financial New Years Resolutions?

It is that time of season when you will begin to ponder your new year’s resolution.  Will it be exercise?  Will it be a new diet? Or will it have something to do with improving your family finances (which coincidentally is right behind diet and exercise).  Making resolutions (or goals) can be a very arduous process because it often makes you face some of your own realities whether you like it or not.  Here are five of my smart money moves as you approach 2015. Shop Every Bill In Your Household– Shop all of your bills and ask for a deal from your existing companies.  Specifically, ask for the company retention department.  The new year is when a business want to secure their revenue for the entire year.  Call your cable, mobile phone, utility, and landscaping companies, and ask them for a new deal.  You’ll bring money back into your wallet immediately. Secure The Domain Name For “Your Name”– Unfortunately, many individuals never go out and ...

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THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY of working at a small business

Over six and half years ago, I left corporate America to start my own business.  I now own five different businesses and consider myself to be unemployable.   I worked for a Fortune 100 company with more than 50,000 employees worldwide and now handle building and executing visionary plans for the future of my industry.   If you are at the crossroads of still working for a large company or potentially making the move to work for a small business in your neck of the woods, here are some the of the good, the bad, and the ugly that may influence your future decision. THE GOOD You Can See A Direct Immediate Impact From Your Work– You can usually come up with a new idea, an implementation plan, and begin to see immediate results on customers and the organization from your hard work.  In larger organization, it can take a year (or more) just to get an idea through the red ...

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Five Smart Money Moves To Make In 2015

Can anyone remember Y2K just like me and thinking I can’t believe it is the year 2000?  Well, before the blink of an eye we are now at 2015 and another new year to take stock of where you are financially and what moves you should make this year to improve your bottom line.   Since there are so many financial items to watch as the CEO of your family finances, here are my five items to put on your financial list as moves to consider in 2015. Shop Your Bills– January is one of the best months to get on the phone and shop each and every one of your bills.  One of the quickest ways to free up more disposable income to pay off debt or increase your savings is to gain back more cash flow in your family profit and loss statement.  Remember, companies like to know that they have booked their recurring business for the year in ...

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How Do You Practice For Retirement?

Almost every week in my line of business, I hear someone talking about ‘retirement’.    They have hopes, dreams, and ideas about the day that they just don’t have to work anymore.   I firmly believe that anything you do well in life is going to take practice.   That’s right Allen Iverson, I said practice.   But how in the world will you practice for retirement?  Here are three smart money moves ideas to help you think about getting ready for the day you say ‘no mas’ to letting the alarm clock get you up for work. Practice Your Money Habits- Having built well over a 1,000 budgets for families over the years, there may be no tougher budget than planning the one for retirement.   You’ll never really know how much you need in terms of withdrawals from your portfolio until you actually spend three to six months trying to live on that budget.  As one would imagine, this is difficult if the ...

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Does Whole Foods Equal Your Whole Paycheck?

Most consumers today have a very difficult time holding themselves accountable for their discretionary spending. In fact, I have seen more families making $100,000 or even $250,000 who are still managing to live paycheck to paycheck. The largest area of spending waste that I have seen proliferate in the family budget by far are in the categories of grocery shopping and dining out. You would think from all of the television programs that we have today showing us all these cutting edge techniques to cooking that we would actually learn how to cook, but instead all we have learned is how to eat out more. It’s just easier, simpler, and quicker than making a game plan for weekly meals. At least that is what we think. In addition, what’s increased as well is the number of trips families make to the grocery stores with all of the options for gourmet takeout food. I remember going once per week on Sunday’s ...

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Don’t Attempt To Time The Market

As 2014 enters into its final month for all major indices, this should be a good time of the year to reflect on the most important major lesson about investing. The lesson is to be certain that you have the appropriate time frame to take the risk associated with investing in a particular asset class. Time and time again, most average investors get caught up in trying to figure out the best time to exit the markets or enter the markets. This is challenging enough for the experts who are engulfed in this data every hour of every working day let alone going at it as an individual investor. Check out these predictions from January 2014 from over 30 of the major chief investment strategists from various leading firms http://cnnmon.ie/1CvoVBd. On average, the peer group had the S&P 500 growing 6% and the year to date return of the S & P is almost double that number. They also had ...

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Why Wouldn’t Student Loans Be Forgiven?

Last week I was invited on to NBC 11 Alive news in Atlanta to discuss this recent article (http://cnb.cx/1ubs042) that shared a study where it was discovered that 24% of all Millennials expect that their student loans will ultimately be forgiven.   That’s a downright scary statistic.  One in four of the kids who are borrowing money to pay for their current college education expect that they won’t have to repay the very debt that they borrow.   How can this be?  Isn’t this generation the most educated of all time?   What is going on in America?   Here is my smart money moves take on the details and where this is headed. First things first, I’m not really sure at all why we are surprised by this sentiment.   Back in the real estate crash of 2007 & 2008, how many people simply handed over the keys to their properties, walked away from their homes, and came out unscathed by never fulfilling their ...

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Three Financial Moves To Make When You Get Promoted

There are few things in life that deserve a glass of champagne more than a well-earned promotion.  After years of blood, sweat, and tears, your company has finally recognized your efforts and decided to move you into a more meaningful role within your company.  Sometimes, only title are associated with these promotions, but more often than not there will be financial rewards as well.   This is exactly your time to fall into the lifestyle inflation trap and make some really smart financial moves that will pay dividends down the road. The Pay Raise– Generally, a new promotion will also mean more responsibility which often equals more pay.  If your salary jumps by $10,000 or even $50,000 dollars this will mean a significant bump in your cash flow for your family.   What should you do with this money?  Is it best to add to your 401(k)?  Start paying down the mortgage?  Or time to purchase that new vacation home?   With pay ...

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Don’t Get Ripped Off On Black Friday

After the turkey, the football, and the one awkward conversation with your cousin that happened to get stuck at the card table with you at the end of the big Thanksgiving table, comes the second holiday during Thanksgiving week called Black Friday.  The day’s name originated in Philadelphia where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or “in the black.” (source: Wikipedia) People often ask me if Black Friday really offers good deals.    I have always responded with the answer, “It depends”.   The reason is that if you aren’t careful with your shopping you could end up paying the same prices you would have paid for merchandise ...

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Don’t Invest In The Dreams of Someone Else

As we age in our financial lives, each of us has had that pit in our stomach feeling of a major financial mistake we wish we had never made. For some people, there will be no recovery from these mistakes while others still have the opportunity to make up for lost time. Although I’ve been fortunate to have very few blemishes in my own personal financial life, the financial move I would welcome doing over again would be to invest in a friends dream with the hope of getting some return on my money. Unless you are a really savvy and experienced investor, I am not a big fan of investing money in a business of a friend unless you are going to be an owner operator yourself. The majority of the time it will take you three times as long to get your money back if you are lucky enough to get it back at all. Almost 15 years ...

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10 Money Saving Deals On Veterans Day

There are so many ways we should thank our Veterans on this special day.   In this great country of ours, many restaurants and shops across American are giving back to our military and offering them some really amazing deals.  Here are ten of my favorites for Veterans to check out and please go to a great military blog http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/ to check out the full list. (source: TheMilitaryWallet)  Make sure to have the appropriate I.D. with you before you go and always check local stores to make sure they are participating in the program. Applebee’s, free meal, Nov. 11, 2014: Last year, Applebee’s served over one million free meals to military veterans and active service members. Applebee’s is again offering a free meal to military veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. There will be 7 entrées to choose from, beverage and gratuity not included. Military ID or proof of service required. More. California Pizza Kitchen, Nov. 11, 2014. Choose ...

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Do You Understand The Term Diversification?

Diversification is a term that is often discussed, but is still widely misunderstood amongst investors today. When the financial markets collapsed in 2008, many investors were left wondering if the opportunities to truly diversify were fewer than they once believed. Diversification: Is NOT having your money at four different banks. Many investors still do not understand how FDIC insurance works. Diversification: Is NOT having your money at four separate financial institutions. Many wealthy investors often believe they spread their diversifications risk by hiring money managers at different brokerage houses. This is hardly ever the case. Diversification: Is NOT leaving your 401(k)’s at three old employers. It’s extremely scary to see how many people buy the same mutual funds through their 401(k) at different employers and never really look at their investment strategy as a whole. Diversification: Is NOT necessarily done by buying different mutual funds or exchange traded funds from the same fund family. Diversification: Is NOT subtracting your age ...

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7 Ways to Cut your Cellphone Bill

Today’s household has to deal with so many expenses that my parent’s generation did not have.  When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, we did not have a cable bill, an internet bill and most certainly no cell phone bill.  Now, we cannot do without these items.  If we are going to have these extra expenses, we might as well get the best deal possible.  Consider some of these cost cutting items. Consider prepaid service. Pay-as-you-go services have gotten a lot better recently.  If you are not a heavy cell phone user you usually come out better by only paying for what you use. Check for discounts. Many carriers offer discounts if you are an employee of a company that uses their service.  Do a Google search with the carrier’s name and the words “employee discount”. Look for a family plan. If you need multiple lines, most carriers will offer a better per-line price than their standard ...

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Is it time to make an appointment with the doctor?

Getting laid off from your job can trigger a myriad of emotions. There are often important financial considerations to make during this period of time, but the number one investment step for someone to take who gets laid off is to review all of your group insurance benefits at work and determine the best course of action for this important foundation of your overall financial plan. You should immediately make any doctor and dentist visits for you and your family before you officially terminate from your company. Another smart idea is to assess how close you are to your deductibles year to date and potentially schedule any surgeries that are necessary, especially if you are getting close to the end of the year. Most large companies will allow you the opportunity to continue your coverage under COBRA, but if you work for a company of less than 20 employees you may only be eligible for state continuation. You could also ...

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Four Money Moves To Make When You Get The Pink Slip

The Pink Slip.  It’s the dreaded official notification from your employer that they no longer need your services.   You’ll often hear the corporate rumors flowing within your company about the impending layoffs, but you’ll never suspect that you might be a person on the hit list.   We never imagine that we will be that person who gets called in for dismissal time.   While getting a pink slip is an awful feeling, it’s also a phase in your life where you need to immediately get your financial act together.  Here are my four smart money moves to make when you get laid off from work. Time To See The Doctor- Health insurance is one of the biggest items for consideration during a layoff.  You should make all doctor visits before you separate from service with your current employer.   You should get the details of what happens to your health insurance plan if you get laid off. Are you under COBRA or ...

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Don’t Accidentally Pay The Homeless Man… Again

Let’s face it, the city of Atlanta hasn’t quite perfected the art of mass transit, and sometimes driving to an event is not only easier, but could be your only option. However, once you finally make it near the Dome, Turner Field, etc, the daunting task of finding the cheapest parking rip off still remains. You may creep your way over to that one trusty lot you usually rely on, only to find its full or “prepaid only” that day. Or maybe the only Falcons parking that’s still open is that $60 lot. Once you finally find your space, and pay, how many times have you walked away wondering if you just paid the actual lot attendant, or a homeless man? Next time, try this new parking service called Parking Panda! (https://www.parkingpanda.com/) You’ll save time and money! Just search for the venue the event is being held at; you’ll then be given a list of available parking lots and decks ...

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How You Can Beat The All You Can Eat Restaurant

While buffets have been around for centuries, the “all-you-can-eat” buffet has been rumored to originate in the 1950’s in Las Vegas where some of the best buffets in the world are located.    The All You Can Eat platform has been implemented on colleges, cruise ships, and even at a section in the Dodger Stadium.   Our eyes can become bigger than our stomachs when we glance at all of the delicious items on the buffet.  Crab claws, pizza, egg rolls, pasta, shrimp, and every dessert imaginable.   Here are my three smart money moves on how you can ‘beat’ the all you can eat restaurant. Learn How To Prepare For The Meal–  First, do not drink sugary soda or alcoholic drinks when dining at a buffet.  You should stick to water if at all possible.  These sugar drinks tend to require more water to digest them.  This will not be good if your strategy is to eat more.   Consider starting your meal ...

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Five Financial To Do’s During Open Enrollment Season

Fall signals the changing of the leaves, football Sundays, and Halloween.  It is also the time of year where many of the companies in Atlanta offer open enrollment for your benefits.  With the complication of benefits packages, it is more important than ever that you learn how to make smart money decisions during your two weeks of open enrollment.  Here are my five smart money moves to look at when your benefits season comes this fall.  Don’t wait until the last minute to check your options!! Your Health Insurance Plan Is Sure To Change– Insurance companies today hardly ever let a company renew its old health insurance plan.  This means that you’ll likely get a new set of plans to sift through during open enrollment.  If you and your partner both have company benefits make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each of your health insurance plans.  Did the deductible change?  Did the coinsurance change? Will you have ...

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One Selfie And Create Your Own Dressing Room

The internet is evolving all kinds of new business models every single day. While more consumers are doing shopping on the internet, it can still be very difficult to purchase clothing items because you may not be certain how the clothes will actually fit. Sometimes, packages can come in the mail only to disappoint when you try them on at home. That is . . . until you try the new website www.seeitfit.com. See It Fit is a really cool new website that may help those of you who never want to make a trip to the mall again in the future. The first thing you do on the website is to upload your picture. Who says that selfies are all a waste of time After you upload your picture, you can begin shopping at many major department stores. This includes the GAP, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kate Spade, and even Tory Burch. The website boasts some of the top ...

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What to Ask When Buying a Used Car

My engine blew on my fully paid off car in late 2013.  It was only the second car that I’ve owned, and it was great to me for nine years.  Not having a car payment for years, I was enjoying diverting that extra savings to other areas of my financial life. You’ve probably heard that a new car’s value drops immediately when it’s driven off the lot. When the time came, I was set on buying a used car with low mileage to take advantage of the depreciation the first owner experienced. While I think I made the right decision, follow the five helpful tips below so you don’t get in a financial bind when you purchase your next used car. Was the car leased or owned? The previous owner of a car is a big sign of what’s to come for a used vehicle.  Cars that were leased often can be neglected since drivers know they’ll be returning it ...

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Down Payment Vs Invest The Difference

While 30-year mortgage rates are not at the lows of 3% we saw in 2012, mid to low 4% rate are still really good. It is very tempting to make a small down payment and use the difference in an investment with a higher potential for return. If you only make a 5% down payment instead of a 20%, you will pay thousands in extra interest and PMI insurance. Plus, beating your 4% cost of funds is no slam dunk. Making a larger down payment will ensure that you your return on money is equal to your mortgage rate and will give you a small monthly mortgage payment, leaving you free to invest the extra cash or hang on to it for everyday expenses. Making additional principal payments on your mortgage can save you thousands in interest and pay off that loan quicker. It’s hard to put a return on investment by becoming mortgage free, but taking the weight off ...

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Is A Seven Year Car Loan A Good Idea?

When it comes to making smart money moves, our family has never been a big fan of buying a new car.   In fact, the last new car that we bought was back in 1993 when we really did the math on how much smarter it is to buy a used car that is somewhere between two to four years old versus getting a new one.   While getting a new car should be a well thought out planned purchase, it often falls into the camp of a spur of the moment purchase depending on when you get in the mood.    In a sound financial plan, you should begin to save for the (new) used car purchase the moment that you pay off the old purchase. Recently, an article came out which sent my financial sensors into outer space. Experian Automotive says that in the first quarter of 2014, 24.9% of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long.  Four years ...

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Don’t Forget To Protect The Golden Goose

I have delivered insurance checks in my career and nobody has ever told me they have too much life insurance after a loved one dies. It’s really ironic because there are many media pundits who beat up on having unnecessary life insurance, but those writers don’t have to pick up the pieces after a major breadwinner dies in a family. Recent studies still say that the odds of dying are 1 out of 1. LOL. Even though I think that most families are woefully underinsured when it comes to life insurance, the greatest gap I see amongst Generation X and Generation Y is an apathetic amount of disability insurance. Most people who work for companies believe that the amount of disability insurance they get through work will be adequate to cover their situation should they sustain a long term disability. The stark reality is that most Gen X’ers an Gen Y’ers don’t even read the benefits manual to understand the ...

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Is Disney World For You Or For Them?

For dual income families with children today, you often burn the candle at both ends trying to be the best you can be at work and the best you can be at home. You want to create magical memories for your children because some days you don’t get to see them when the sun comes up or until the sun goes down. Due the frenetic pace you are running every day, it’s not that your competency shrinks, but your capacity shrinks often forcing you to make bad financial decisions. The dumbest financial lesson I see parent’s teach their children today is to take fancy vacations that simply aren’t in the family budget. As a side note, over the top birthday parties aren’t far behind on my list. Vacations are still at the top of the list. Take the average parent today who has a 4 year old and a 2 year old and they get the bright idea to wipe ...

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Who Did You Name As Beneficiary

There are a multitude of mistakes that people make when it comes to putting together their wills. These includes naming of executors and custodians, trying to write their own wills, and not considering items such as liquidity. One of the colossal failures in estate planning I witness when people make their wills is not coordinating the will with the overall beneficiary designations they have chosen. Most people believe that the written will supersedes their beneficiary designations which is extremely inaccurate. When you name a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, a 401(k) plan, or an IRA, it is essentially a contract of law. This means that you could attempt to write in your will to leave your IRA to your brother, for example, but the beneficiary designation on the IRA says that 100% is supposed to go to your sister. Despite your wishes in the will, the IRA will go to the named beneficiary. Most beneficiary designation forms today allow ...

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Think Wisely About Your Trustee

It’s never fun to think about gloom and doom. However, if you have been successful in building up an asset base or you carry a lot of life insurance, you may be considering setting up a trust fund for your children if something happens to you. There are many potholes that a family can stumble into when establishing a trust, but here are three mistakes parents often make. First, parents don’t often think through who they want as the trustee of trust for their kids. As complicated as it is to select a custodian, parents should consider whether they want a single trustee or a co-trustee to have some check and balance system for the trust. It is crucial to make sure you’ll have the right people in charge of the funds when you are no longer in the picture. Second, parents need to be clear about the goals of the trust. Specifically, most parents don’t think through when and ...

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5 Ways For Women To Build Confidence

So I know what you are about to say.  What does a 44 year old guy know about women building confidence.  I’m not about to tell you that I know the secret of women, but I thought I would attempt to list some things women can do to build confidence.  After reading  from the book The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, I picked up these 5 ways woman can build confidence: You don’t have to make things perfect, so stop tinkering You have to keep moving forward and tinkering takes time.  Even if you are wrong, failing fast can reduce the time going down blind alleys. Leave your comfort zone Try something you thought you’d never be good at.  The old saying  “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” is so true. Take credit for your successes Don’t just brush off a compliment, accept it.  Use it to give your next step confidence. Give rid of ...

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Attention All 1099’s… There is a BIG October 1st Deadline!!

Since there are so many people who are getting 1099’s and setting up individual LLC’s or home-based side businesses, you need to keep a close eye out this time of year for setting up one kind of retirement plan, a SIMPLE IRA.   The deadlines are just around the corner in the next few weeks, so could this be the right type of retirement plan for you? A SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan For Employees) was first available to small business owners in 2001. A SIMPLE IRA plan is an IRA-based plan that gives small employers a simplified method to make contributions toward their employees’ retirement and their own retirement. Under a SIMPLE IRA plan, employees may choose to make salary reduction contributions and the employer makes matching or nonelective contributions. All contributions are made directly to an Individual Retirement Account or Individual Retirement Annuity (IRA) set up for each employee (a SIMPLE IRA). SIMPLE IRA plans are maintained on ...

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Five Financial Moves To Make On Your Birthday

Our birthdays are usually a day of reflection and celebration all at the same time.  It’s often the one day of the year we measure ourselves against our goals, take stock of where we are in life, and think about what may be coming in the near term horizon for our future.   You’ll often compare how you look versus your friends on places like Facebook and think about where you are in life when it comes to your money and savings.  Here are my five smart money moves tips you should be considering on each and every birthday. Insurance– When it comes to life insurance, every year you get older there is more of a chance that you will die.  Thus, the cost of life insurance will continually go up.   You may need to decide what kind of insurance to buy whether it be a 10, 20, or 30 year term insurance or maybe this is the year you should ...

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Get Educated On One Word: RISK

You are a big spender and she’s a mattress stuffer. You like the idea of house flipping and she prefers a money market. You’ll go for the IPO and she’ll go for the blue chip stock that has been around forever. Now that you are newly married or living together, how can you ever see eye to eye on the best way to manage the family investments? Here are three quick young couple tips to deal with opposing investment styles. Get educated on the meaning of the word RISK. It’s likely nobody ever explained all the types of risk associated with investing to a young couple. Did the money mattress person realize they could be safely going backwards each year with the risk of inflation? Did the IPO investor realize the risk of losing all of their money with the latest social media stock? The young couples of today need to get informed on what risk really means. Get educated ...

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Don’t Let Your Kids Fritter Away The Money

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

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