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What Is Your Internet Influence?

Do you have Klout? Yes, I spelled it correctly. There is a new website for all of you who use social media to grow your personal or business results. Klout has developed a methodology using over 35 variables of Facebook and Twitter to measure things such as true reach, amplification probability, and network score. True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages.  Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale from 1 to 100.  Network score indicates how influential your engaged audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100.  The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments, and retweets. (source: Klout) As social media expands as a mechanism for growing new customers, business owners out there need to pay attention to websites like Klout.  Shouldn’t your ...

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You Can Now Tell Me What Credit Card To Use?

On Monday, the Justice Department sued Visa, MasterCard, and American Express for anticompetitive practices. At the same time, it reached a proposed settlement with Visa and MasterCard. The ruling aims to end anticompetitive practices and allow customers to save money, but it is likely to also have unintended consequences for consumers, says LowCards.com. (source: www.ctwatchdog.com) Interchange Fee is Confusing Interchange fees, or swipe fees, are difficult to understand, and credit card processors like Visa, MasterCard and American Express have provided very little information about these fees, protecting their control and this significant revenue source. (source: www.ctwatchdog.com) Interchange fees began in the 1960s to help banks to cover the cost of processing credit card transactions. The fee is divided between the merchant’s bank, the consumer’s bank and the credit card company. The fee covers processing fees, billing statements, fraud protection, innovations, and other expenses. (source: www.ctwatchdog.com) Interchange fees typically range between 1.0% and 3.5% of every purchase made with a credit ...

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What a GRAT trust to fund before 2010 ends!

Who knows where the estate tax limits will fall in 2011.  It might be 1 million or 3.5 million or higher depending on how the legislators settle on this issue. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Congress is trying to put limits on a popular trust families have used for years to avoid the estate tax. Since this type of trust works best at times when interest rates are low and asset values are depressed, we are urging high net worth clients to look at setting one of these up before Congress decides to make these trusts look like a rainy day in the tax world. This type of trust is known as a GRAT or grantor-retained annuity trust, which allows people to give a portion of an asset’s future profits to heirs tax-free. The trusts we have found can be very popular for clients who have a family business that is expected to increase in value or may have stock ...

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Do You Spend Too Much?

One of the trends I have noticed among family households is the notion of unconscious spending.  This can happen for both what we would consider fixed expenses (gas, electric, phone, cable), and also for discretionary expenses (dining out, vacation, household purchases). You are often very conscious about what you spend when you don’t have any money or at the stage when you have a low income. Your thought process often revolves around what your net pay is from your weekly or bi-weekly check, and wondering whether you are going to have enough money to cover the basics monthly bills.  You dream for the day when you make enough money so you can splurge to buy a few of the items you have always dreamed of having, or thinking about that vacation spot you have always wanted to visit. There becomes a point for many people that you begin to make enough money to cover your bills, and you have more ...

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Creative Tax Deductions

Here are a few tax deductions that may make sense if you are looking for some creative deductions.   Always consult a CPA or qualified accountant before taking any of these deductions. Moving the family pet.  The IRS says if you are changing jobs and meet a couple of tests, you can deduct your moving expenses — including the cost of moving your dog, cat or other pet from your old residence to your new home. Your pet — be it a Pekingese or a python — is treated the same as your other personal effects. Wrecking a car while driving drunk.  A reveler drank too much at a party and had the good sense to arrange a ride home. A few hours later, after slowing down in his revelry, he thought he was okay to drive. Unfortunately, the vehicle he was operating slid off the road and rolled over. The cops arrested him for drunken driving because his blood alcohol ...

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