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About the author  ⁄ Van Pappas

Van Pappas

Van Pappas, CFP® - Van is a native of Atlanta. He holds his undergraduate degree in Finance with an emphasis in Real Estate. As a planner for 15 years, he earned his CFP designation from Kaplan University. He is currently the Chairman and founder of the Chamblee Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Downtown Development Authority for the City of Chamblee. In 2012, he noticed the value of helping the X-Y Generations and decided to merge his practice with oXYGen Financial. Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

Is it Time to Dodge the Draft?

No, you are not going to have to avoid a Government draft. But with winter coming, you might want to do somethings about that drafty house.  Some simple inexpensive projects could save you up to 18% on your energy bills this winter.  Here are four projects you should look at doing. Durable Weather Stripping.  Take a look at your exterior doors.  If you can slide a piece of paper between the door and the frame, then you are probably losing energy.  Bronze strips bought at your local hardware store are about $20 and easy to install on your own. Insulate the Attic Hatch.  If you have the traditional pull-down ladders to get to your attic, you will notice that was not build with any regard to energy saving.  A supper easy fix is to get an attic tent.  This is exactly like it sounds.  It is insulated fabric that you staple to the attic floor over the latter hatch.  It ...

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Green Eggs and Van

When my son was a small child, he loved when I would read him Dr. Seuss books.  Stories like ‘Oh the Things you can Think’, or ‘To think I saw it on Mulberry Street’ were some of his favorites.   Maybe it was the funny stories.  Or maybe it was the made-up words.  But he kept asking me to read them again and again.  What he did not realize was that he was learning some important lessons about money, math and being an entrepreneur from the books.  Here are a few of the Dr Seuss lessons that I love. ‘Horton Hears a Who’ has great lessons for business owners, who can find it a challenge to delegate work.  Entrepreneurs realize that there are no small rolls in a company.  And successful companies need good leadership and management. “A person’s a person, no matter how small”.  My favorite point in the book is where the smallest suggestion can be transformed into something ...

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Can you Fund your HSA from your IRA???

If you have an HSA (Health Savings Account), you know the great value is that you can use funds from the account Tax-Free to pay for medical expenses.  Unfortunately like most government created financial instruments, there is a limit on how munch you can contribute to the account each year.  But even with a contribution limit, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reports that in 2017 only 13% of all HSA accounts were fully funded and 36% of HSA accounts were not funded at all. Typically, the reason accounts are not fully funded is the owner is either not educated on how the accounts work; or they do not have the cash flow/income to make the contribution. So, there is a strategy that most people do not know about, where you can take dollars from your IRA and move them to your HSA.  And most importantly you pay no tax or penalty to do this.  It is called a QHFD (Qualified ...

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Are those Phones Calls a Scam?

For years I’ve been telling my clients that those phone calls from the IRS are scams.  The IRS does not call people.  And you should never give out your information over the phone. Well now the scammers have moved to Social Security.  There is an increase in scam calls, claiming they are from the Social Security Administration.  They sound official making claims that due to fraudulent activity your Social Security number is being suspended.  What they are trying to do, is get you to let your guard down, so you will give them some of your personal information. Let me be really clear.  Your Social Security number is NEVER suspended.  This is not something the administration does, and they will never make phone calls to people.  Most of the time communications come from official postal mail. But you may have gotten an email from the administration and that is probably real.  If you have gone to SSA.gov and created a ...

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If you build it, will they REALLY come

We all know the iconic line from Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come”.  It was actually “…he will come”, but the business world has taken that line and transformed it to mean that no matter what you build, people will use it or pay for it.  As James Earl Jones said “…they most certainly will come”.  But will they REALLY. This business advice can be disastrous for entrepreneurs, as they cannot just create a product and hope it sells.   It is still very important to engage your customers for feedback.  The more important statement should be “who are we building this for?”. Here are a few things to think about for your next startup. Your idea is not a secret:  The secret formula to Coke is one thing, but ideas are different.  Don’t guard the idea like a national secret.  Circulate it to see if it is valuable and get some validation to ...

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10 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

All too often, new clients come in, and we discover that they have been complacent about the need for proper estate planning.  They think they are either too young or too old, they are of modest means, or an estate plan is unnecessary.  Plus, no matter how much you think your family loves one another, people are greedy when it comes to money. When assets come into play, no estate plan, or a poor one, can cause issues or allow property to fall into the wrong hands. Here are 10 mistakes that, if avoided, will smoothly transfer your estate. Not having a Will or, in the alternative, a living trust – Without a main vehicle to drive the estate, the probate court has to get more involved. Focusing solely on taxes – Under current tax law, most people will not hit the estate tax limits, so taxes do not have to be the driving decision maker. Naming the wrong executor/agent/trustee ...

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Three Things Punxsutawney Phil Can Teach Us

No this is not a Bill Murry sighting or story about how Bill showed up at a party and started washing dishes. But we can learn something from his 90’s movie Groundhog Day. With Groundhog Day upon us, we await Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) to come out of his hole and let us know if we will have 6 more weeks of winter. In the movie Bill found himself reliving the same day over and over. Just as in the movie, we often find ourselves repeating our financial mistakes over and over. Here are three tips you can use to stop reliving the same financial spell. Plan for Tomorrow While we want to live for today, too often we find ourselves blowing our paychecks each month and not saving for tomorrow. Use the concept of Pay Yourself First. Save for those future goals first and then go have a good time. If you are saving for your goals and find ...

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Why Your Saving Rate Is More Important Than Your Investment Return

Investors love to focus on their investment return. From 2009 to 2017, it was hard not to get excited about the double digit returns even the average investor could achieve. While it was nice to see those large returns, it really just made up for the 40% drop in the 2008 Market Crisis. And it is highly unlikely that we will repeat those returns over the next 10 years. So that brings us back to the expectation that over a long period of time we should hit the S&P 500 historical market average of 7% (1950 to 2009 adjusted for inflation and dividends). What about the savings rate. Well, Americans suck at saving. Personal savings in the United States averaged 8.82 percent from 1959 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 17.30 percent in May of 1975 and a record low of 2.20 percent in July of 2005. In 2018 we are saving only about 6%. (US Bureau of ...

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Why aren’t teens getting their driver’s license?

In 1986, when I turned 16, I couldn’t get to the DMV fast enough to get my driver’s license.  For those of us teens of the 80s, getting a driver’s license was a big deal.  We could finally get out from under the thumb of our parents.  We did not have to beg for a ride.  Whether it was to meet up with friends at the mall or cruise the Micky Ds parking lot looking for trouble, the driver’s license gave us  freedom. Today’s teens just don’t seem to have that same desire.  Data from a University of Michigan study show that nationwide high school seniors who have a driver’s license has dropped from 85.3% in 1996 to 71.5% today.  And the Northeast has the lowest rate at 64.8%. So why the change? Well first off, today’s rules are a lot stricter than back then.  I remember the first chance I had after getting my license was to cram as ...

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Can Amazon Get Bigger?

Well, Yes. It seems all we heard about in 2017 was Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.  Weather it was the news of their purchase of Whole Foods, the super successful PrimeDay event, or the addition live Thursday Night NFL games on their video service; it seems that CEO Jeff Bezos (the richest man on the planet) knows exactly how to make Amazon grow. When you look at one of Amazon’s biggest competitors, Wal-Mart; you will see that Amazon’s Market Capitalization is almost double that of Walmart ($558Billion to $286B)1.  But the interesting number is annual sales revenue. Walmart is crushing it at number one in the world at $486 Billion annually.  While Amazon is only at $89B per year.  This might be an indication that there is still plenty of revenue to gain from the competition.  So how is Mr. Bezos going to grow Amazon in 2018. Business to Business. Amazon’s business platform lets small businesses order supplies from other businesses. Their ...

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