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Review Category : Budgeting

Americans Are Paying Billions In Hidden Fees

We’ve all thought about it before when buying a ticket to a concert or a sporting event.  How did the price of the seat come up at $200 a seat and then by the time we checked out it cost $250 a seat?  When you last set up your phone bill and they told you it would be $50 a month all in and then you got a bill for almost $70 a month, didn’t you wonder what made up that extra money? A recent study done by Consumer Reports showed that 85% of Americans have experienced a hidden or unexpected fee over the past two years for a service that they have used. In 2018 alone surprise charges included more than 7.6 billion in reservation changes and baggage fees for the airlines and almost 3 billion in resort fees for hotels throughout the United States.  Are we all getting chewed up by these unknown and hidden fees? Who Are ...

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Did You Just Get A 6.2% Raise At Work?

It’s pretty amazing to me how many people still don’t understand our payroll tax system.  When you work as a W-2 for an employer, both you and your employer are going to pay certain payroll taxes.  The two main types of taxes are the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax and the Medicare tax.   Both you and your employer pay 6.2% into FICA up to $132,900 this year and Medicare is a perpetuity tax at 1.45%.  Depending on your pay grade and what bonuses you have earned, you may have already received a raise in your paycheck and don’t even know it. The reason is, once you hit the $132,900 limit, you will no longer be paying into Social Security. Unfortunately, since there are many individuals who pay their full amount into social security and their income exceeds $132,900 in a particular calendar year, your HR department won’t send you a notice that you now have an extra 6.2% in ...

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Should I Loan Money To Friends and Family

Every quarter the Federal Reserve reports on national household debt, and every quarter we’re reminded of the trillions of dollars that Americans owe in credit cards, student loans, mortgages and more. But what about FF debt — aka loans from the Bank of Friends and Family? (source: finder.com) Getting by with a little help from your friends is nothing new, but especially with peer-to-peer lending and digital wallets making lending to people we know easier, we wondered how much do we rely on our loved ones? And how much do these loans contribute to our national debt? (source: finder.com) What Finder found is that we borrow money for much bigger expenses than to cover lunch (despite what your Venmo feed may say) — to the tune of $184 billion annually. That’s a figure that is more than student loan and credit card debt combined and deserves a closer look. (source: finder.com) How did they calculate how much we borrowed from friends and family?  ...

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Be Careful About The New Trend: Drunk Shopping

A new CNBC and Acorns study found that while nearly 90% of both men and women sometimes make impulse purchases, nearly a quarter of men said they shelled out more than $100 the last time they made an impulse buy, compared to just 16% of women. The Invest in You Spending Survey was conducted by CNBC and Acorns in partnership with SurveyMonkey from June 17–20. A diverse group of 2,803 Americans was polled across the country, ranging in ages from 18 to over 65. Of the total, 1,320 were men and 1,498 had a college or graduate degree. This survey may be surprising to many of you, but not to me.  You see, women are browsers by nature and men simply are not.  You’ve never heard of three men who are talking amongst themselves and say, “You know George and Bill, do you guys have any interest in heading in town tomorrow to do some window shopping?”  In fact, that is ...

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Five Money Moves To Make When You Turn 50

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience something really special.  Several of my college roommates were turning 50 years old, and there was a multiple person birthday gathering in Washington, D.C. that I attended.  As we reminisced about the good old days in college and I watched their children run around (most of them six to eight years old), it occurred to me that my very own friends are going to be starting down the backstretch towards retirement.  It’s hard to imagine that for some of them they will be 65 years old when their kids either get into college or graduate college, so does this mean they will take a different path to retirement? Either way, there are smart money moves you should be making when you turn 50.  I know this first hand because the two co-founders of oXYGen Financial (Kile Lewis and myself) both turn the age of 50 this year.   While we started oXYGen Financial to ...

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Mortgage Rates The Lowest In One Year: Is It Time For You To Consider A Refinance?

With the Fed recently raising interest rates, people have already started to write and call me about whether or not it is still a good time to refinance.  You will likely see more offers from your current mortgage company, broker, or bank looking to get you locked in before the Fed raises rates again in 2019.  Here are my smart money moves for three key points to know when you make a final decision about whether a refinance is good for your property. There Is NO Rule Of Thumb – I love these random articles out there that say your mortgage rates need to be down by a certain percentage for a refinance to make sense. In fact, Investopedia recently wrote, “The typical rule of thumb is that if you can reduce your current interest rate by 0.75-1%.” This makes very little sense to me as this is going to be a math equation, because all refinancing costs money.   What you are ultimately ...

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Are Mothers Losing Income Equality When They Have Kids?

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net The pay gap between men and women is still not close to equal, but there are more signs when it comes to motherhood that the gap is widening even more. For example, one study showed that for women, incomes drop 30% after giving birth for the first time and never catch up. That’s according to a working paper by Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais and Jakob Egholt Sogaard published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in January 2018. The study used Danish administrative data from 1980-2013. (source: CNBC) Also called the “motherhood penalty,” women start falling behind men in terms of their rank and their probability of being promoted just after the birth of the first child, the researchers found. About a decade later, women’s earnings plateau around 20% below the level just before becoming a parent. (source: CNBC) So, is this motherhood penalty something that will continue, and just what can be done to ...

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Invest 2% Of Your Income In You

When we think about investments, we often direct our attention to categories such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.   What we don’t think about often is our most valuable asset, which is our ability to earn an income and how we can grow that income faster.  Almost 20 years ago, I met an extremely successful business owner who gave me a simple lesson: Invest 2% of everything you earn back into your ability to grow your income. So, what does this mean exactly? Investing in you is like diversifying your portfolio investments.  It means that you might take a chance and invest in that side hustle you think could be a business.  It means investing in a training course or advanced education that could further your current career.  It means investing in a personal coach who could improve your business performance.  It could also mean investing in an exercise or nutrition program that could give you more stamina every day ...

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The Three Most Important Letters In Retirement R M D

What is a required minimum distribution? (*) You’ll sometimes hear that you have important financial decisions to make when you turn the age of 70 ½.  The IRS has never seen a nickel of tax revenue on account you may have started in your early 20’s, so now they are wanting to get their due.  An RMD or required minimum distribution is the amount that the tax laws require you to take out of certain types of retirement accounts once you reach the age of 70 ½. If you have a traditional IRA, a 401(k) account, 403(b), or other types of retirement plans, then you’ll generally have to start taking RMDs once the provisions of the law kick in. The rules apply to certain inherited retirement accounts as well, so be very careful when you inherit an IRA. Required minimum distributions must be made in cash, and you’re generally required to complete the withdrawal by the end of the calendar ...

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How Much Should You Be Tipping?

There was an excellent story written a few years ago interviewing Michael Lynn, who had written more than 50 papers on tipping.  In his excerpts (source: PBS) he said there are five basic motives for tipping. Some people tip to show off. Some people tip to help the server, to supplement their income and make them happy. Some people tip to get future service. And then other people tip to avoid disapproval: You don’t want the server to think badly of you. And some people tip out of a sense of duty. There are people who tip to reward servers for service. If the server does a great job, I want to express my gratitude so that is another motivation for tipping. But how strong is that motivation? My research suggests it’s not terribly strong. I find the relationship is so weak that it would be wrong to use tipping as a measure of service quality. People often say that’s ...

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