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Why Are You Mad At Your Accountant?

Here is a question to ask yourself after tax season is over.  What really happens during a typical tax season for a family or business? I have been doing this for over 20 years, and so let me describe to you the typical outcomes. The first thing that we see is that most people cross their fingers and say three Hail Mary’s hoping for a refund.  Does this sound like you?  You gather all of these documents that you get from your employer, your investment companies, and real estate you own, then you hand them over to somebody (an accountant or CPA) and pray that they’re going to get you some money back so you can go on that vacation or remodel your house.  Most individuals that we meet who get a federal refund during tax time think that their CPA is the bomb.  They are assumed to be the smartest, brightest, and most unbelievable individuals in the world.  It’s ...

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VIDEO | How A Threesome Can Improve Your Retirement?

Published on Oct 8, 2012 I’m officially thinking that any man (or maybe women too) who read this headline was thinking this, “Ted, have you officially lost your mind trying to connect the words threesome and retirement in the same headline?” ( Read Full Article Here – http://bit.ly/Ug6Nmi ) The answer is no, I haven’t officially lost my mind although a few people who know me well have always considered me to be an out-of-the box thinker. And for the record, I’m not going to suggest any of you run out and have a threesome although you’ve probably fantasized about it once in your lifetime. So how can a threesome actually help improve your retirement?   ...

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Beneficiary Designations for your IRA

What Beneficiary Designations mean and why they matter… For most people, “estate planning” means drafting documents (such as a Last Will and Testament) that makes sure that your property is managed and distributed according to your wishes.  Drafting documents is the foundation of estate planning, but people who own retirement accounts, life insurance or other assets with beneficiary designations must go one step further.  When you die, the assets in your estate generally fall into one of two categories: probate property or non-probate property.  Probate property is governed by your Last Will and Testament.  Non-probate property, however, passes outside of your Will, and generally passes to a beneficiary named by you when the account or contract was opened. The most common examples of non-probate property are your IRA, 401(k) or life insurance.  These types of assets are non-probate property because they are paid to beneficiaries pursuant to a contract that you create when you open the account or purchase the ...

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Can You Barter For Legal Services?

I wrote a few weeks ago in Your Smart Money Moves about how I found out through my research that the only people who can own or revenue share with a law firm are the lawyers themselves.  You have to give it up to the lawyers to be the only professionals who essentially blocked the rest of us out from owning a law firm.  But does the consumer lose with these sets of laws?    Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard clients utter the words, “I guess the only one who is going to win here are the lawyers.”    Mostly, I think people fear going to see a lawyer because of the unknown of just how much it is going to cost them to do work.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s estate planning, divorce, or doing contract review. I think over the next ten years we will see the legal field change its pricing ...

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The Words We Don’t Want To Hear: “You May Need To Save More”

I really think over the next five years the whole notion of retirement planning is going to change.   The X and Y generation don’t think about retirement the way their parents or grandparents did.   Since so many more people are staying active during their golden years, the next couple of generations will be thinking more about making work option than pulling themselves over to the retirement shelf.    What still holds true for most us is that since companies don’t really often pensions anymore, it’s up to you to figure out how you can save enough money to do what you want when you want irrespective of cost.    No matter what you calculate your ‘work’ optional number to be you should remember that you only have four options should you start falling short of hitting those numbers.  Here are your four choices: Extend your time frame  – If you planned for your ‘retirement’ goal to be at the age of 60, ...

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It’s Saturday Night And There Is No Recession

My wife and I decided we would go out for dinner this past Saturday night.   She’s always telling me that you’ve got to make a reservation on Saturday night because things get busy and we’ll have to wait for an hour without one.   Since there are so many restaurants to eat at in Atlanta, I usually brush her off thinking that surely there will be some good restaurant that I can walk into on a Saturday night.   We are going through challenging economic times right now, correct?    So it would make sense that I could step out on a Saturday night and grab myself a table at just about any restaurant?   Wrong . . . Just flat out wrong. I live in a large suburb of Atlanta and not too far from Roswell where the downtown area continues to build up on Canton Street with small pubs and restaurants.    We headed down around 8:00 to a small restaurant that serves ...

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Your Kid Has An I-Phone. Who Pays The Data Plan?

I’m pretty sure Apple can’t be hurting even though Steve Jobs is not at the helm anymore.   My kid’s went back to school last week and mentioned to meet the glut of Apple products that other students got from Santa Clause over the holiday season.    Apparently, even the elementary students stocked up on I-Pads, I-Touch, and the middle/high school students racked up on the I-Phones.     We all know that none of these technology gadgets are cheap to buy.    However, one of the topics that people don’t like to discuss is who will bear the cost for the data plan.  This is where the real dollars and cents add up over the long term. Parents will have varying opinions on this, but I’m of the opinion that when you child hits high school that you want to have them own part of the monthly data plan.  Each year that they get older, you should have them bear more and more of ...

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Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

These past couple of years many clients have asked about whether or not they should refinance their mortgage.    Along with people who have never refinanced, those that did even 18 months ago may be licking their chops to do the tango for another refinance in 2012.  For the week that ended December 23rd, the 30-year mortgage rate fell to 4.05% which was the lowest in 60 years according to HSH Associates which is a mortgage data firm.    The rates have gotten better in the jumbo market for those with a mortgage above $417,000 as well, but if you are below that number here are some considerations about whether a refinance is right for you. 1.) How long will you live in the home? –   One of the first questions you need to assess is how long you think you will stay at your current residence.  Or, if you leave the residence will you decide to use it as a rental ...

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What Tax Deductions Can I Take For Using My Car?

As the tax year ends and you scramble to pull together your year end tax deductions, people often ask us whether they can get  a deduction for using their automobile.  It’s important to understand these rules for both employees and business owners alike as this could mean big bucks in your pocket come tax time. According to the IRS Topic 510 business use of a car (http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc510.html), you can generally figure the amount of your deductible car expense using one of two methods: the standard mileage rate method or the actual expense method. If you qualify to use both methods, before choosing a method, you may want to figure your deduction both ways to see which gives you a larger deduction. Please refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses, for the current standard mileage rate. If you use the standard mileage rate, you can add to your deduction any parking fees and tolls incurred for business purposes. ...

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