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Review Category : Financial Independence

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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Could E-Sports Earn Your Child A Scholarship?

There has probably been an afternoon or evening where your child was playing Fortnite with their friends and you could hear screams and yells, thinking to yourself, “what in the heck is going on in there?” You’ve probably had to yell once or twice before dinner or bedtime to get off the gaming system, and it’s likely you’ve had a family discussion about how to stop your child from playing the gaming system as much as they do today. WAIT! Maybe it’s time to switch gears and start thinking about how this could provide a FREE RIDE for your child to college! 30 million dollars.  That was the prize money for the Fortnite World Cup that took place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York last weekend.   And yes, the stadium they chose to host the finale was actually larger seating-capacity wise than Madison Square Garden.  E-Sports is now a $900 million-dollar industry with nearly 400 million viewers worldwide.   Gamers ...

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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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Slip The Maître D a $50 Bill

What’s your worst nightmare on a Saturday night?  We live near a massive outdoor shopping and eating complex called Avalon.   Filled with 20 or so restaurants, it’s generally buzzing on the weekends with couples and families walking around, spending money in the stores and grabbing a bit of the cuisine of their choice.   My worst nightmare on a Saturday night is taking the family out or meeting some friends and stepping up to the hostess who tells me it is going to be an hour and a half wait to get a table, and puts our name into the software so we can track how far back we are in the line to eat.   Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare!! A few weeks ago, a friend of mine flew into town and we went to grab dinner at a hot spot in Buckhead, where they told us our wait was going to one hour and fifteen minutes.   When I heard the hostess shout ...

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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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Why Do We Give Names To Our Cars?

Our oldest daughter recently graduated college from the University of Georgia.  When she turned 16, we were fortunate enough to buy a beat up 2009 Hyundai Tucson from my mother and that’s pretty much what my daughter has driven since she became a driver.  As we finally made a change for her to get a new car (we stuck with Hyundai), my daughter told me how sad she was to see Sage go.  I thought to myself, “What in the world is a Sage?” so I asked my daughter.  Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had a name for her car and already had a name ready to go for the new car.  I’ve heard people give their cars names before, but always wondered when did this start becoming a common practice? Apparently, naming cars isn’t a new tradition at all.  For centuries before us, human beings have been giving names to vehicles and boats for centuries.  Think about shows like ...

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How Will The Tariffs Affect Your Every Day Wallet?

The stock markets continue to see increased volatility as the tariff and trade war between the United States and China continues to heat up. We’ve quickly realized that one tweet, media story, or heightened news coverage can send the markets soaring or spiraling in a day.  Here’s a recent example of a tweet: The reality is that these negotiations are extremely difficult, and nobody really likes to see them be prolongated.  Think about the most difficult negotiations you have probably done in your lifetime which is the buying or selling of a home and how your emotions ran high over $10,000 or $20,000 of negotiations when someone asked you to repair a cracked window or a lock that didn’t work. We are in an unprecented $420 billion-dollar trade gap right now which really means we buy a lot more stuff from China than they buy from us.  The tariffs (which really are a tax) act as a way for us ...

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