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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.

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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Five Tips To Improve Your Credit Score

It’s never too late to improve how you use credit.  Whether your credit score is high or could use some work, here are some tips to maintain your best credit score. BE ALERT. Checking your credit history for errors or unfamiliar/suspicious activity should be done on a regular basis. Identity theft is a problem, and if left undetected, can harm your credit. Georgia state law enables consumers the right to a free credit report once each year. You can pull your report at www.annualcreditreport.com. BE ON TIME. One of the biggest factors in pulling down your credit score is paying bills late. Pay on time every month and you will see your score rise. APPLY FOR CREDIT ONLY WHEN NEEDED. Only apply for new credit cards if you really need them. Multiple loan applications within a short time period will often harm your credit score. CREDIT UTILIZATION RATE. Your credit utilization rate is your total amount of debt divided by ...

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There’s No Short Cuts To Getting Out Of Debt

From time to time a prospective client will come to me with lots of Credit Card debt.  They want to know what they can do to get out of debt?  My answer is always the same.  There are no short cuts. Every time they will ask if they should use one of the debt-settlement companies that you see on TV.  You know the ones that promise financial freedom.  What most of the companies do is convince you to stop making payments to the creditor.  Some have you send the money to them to hold while they try and negotiate with the creditors to take a lump sum for less than what is owed.  On the surface it seems like a good idea.  Why wouldn’t the creditor want to negotiate for something now, rather than writing off the debt completely. But reports from the Center for Responsible Lending and the Federal Trade Commission point out that debt balances increase on average ...

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

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

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