The new business-building book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, debuted recently in nationwide bookstore outlets. Its author Ben Horowitz is a venture capitalist and apparent hip-hop head who co-founded, Netscape Communications. Horowitz is also the brain child of AOL, Inc, LoudCloud, and now runs a venture capitalist firm alongside, Marc Andreessen.
In his new book, the Silicone Valley guru showcases his love for the hip-hop culture by writing raps to relay key principles of managing a business.
To punctuate his points, Horowitz quotes the hip-hop lyrics of rappers such as Kayne West, Jay-Z and Nas, almost as frequently as he cites the insights of high-tech luminaries like Andreessen, former Intel Corp. CEO Andy Grove, former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and CEO coach Bill Campbell. His hip-hop references include repeated uses of the N-word and Horowitz drops “f-bombs” throughout the book.
He believes the coarse language helps convey his message.
“The confrontations and the conversations that I write about in the book are hard,” Horowitz said. “The lyrics I use express the emotional intensity that goes with the logic in the book.” (Source: AP)
Horowitz is a multi-millionaire who doesn’t boast about his net worth. However, he uses the harsh realities of ever-changing ups and downs of running multi-million dollar companies with lyrical wittiness that can surely attract the attention of those consumed by hip-hop. And if you think that Horowitz used the “rap thing” for publicity purposes, think again. The former Columbia University college student actually formed a rap group in the 80s called Blind and Def. The three-man group recorded four songs, but never obtained a record deal. He has been a fan a rap music since its inception.
If you think “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building A Business When There’s No Easy Answers” may be a good book to read, go over to Amazon to purchase it now for $21.77!
Definition: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments.
The best way to understand what a ROI is, is to look at how it is calculated. To calculate the ROI, use the following formula:
ROI = (Investment Gain – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
The final number is either captured as a percentage or ratio. Regardless, what the formula does is show the investor if the investment is worth undertaking. With all investments, you take risks. But, by calculating the ROI, you as the investor can get a glimpse into the profitability potential of that investment.
At times, however, the circumstances surrounding that investment may cause additional fees or returns. So, although the formula above is the way to calculate your ROI, there is room for modification.
To learn more about ROIs, visit www.Investopedia.com.
Some interesting information was reported today on CNN Money. The popular source for financial news and resources made claims that fast food and retail store jobs aren’t the only ones making the bare minimum. As you know, Americans working in those industries have been fighting with the corporations and Congress to increase the national minimum wage. President Barack Obama is also pushing for an increase. But, surprisingly, there are other more difficult/hourly engaged jobs that are affected by low wages.
If you could guess which professions are also being impacted, could you? Probably not. For, some of the professions listed below were even hard for me to believe. Check out the list:
Average annual salary: $22,400
Average hourly wage: $10.75
Becoming a regional pilot requires a tremendous amount of time, training and money. Federal rules stipulate that commercial-airline pilots have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience, and the training can cost more than $100,000.
But starting salaries for full-time pilots at regional airline carriers average about $22,400, according to data from the pilot union Air Line Pilots Association. For a 40-hour workweek, that would mean these skilled professionals are taking home about $10.75 per hour.
Average annual salary: $21,600
Adjunct professors teach the same kinds of classes as full-time, tenured faculty members at many colleges and universities. Adjuncts have advanced degrees and spend similar amounts of time grading papers and tests.
But because they are not considered full-time, adjuncts are paid far less. According to the American Association of University Professors, a 2010 survey found that their median pay is $2,700 per 3-credit-hour course. This means that even if an adjunct professor teaches between two to four classes per semester, as most tenure-tracked faculty members do, they would still only make up $21,600 per year.
By contrast, the average salary for full-time faculty members was $84,112 and the average pay for a full-time professor at a university that grants doctoral degrees was about $135,000.
Average annual salary: $26,110
Average hourly wage: $12.55
Modeling sounds glamorous, and expensive: walking down coveted runways decked out in thousands of dollars of clothes, being watched by mega celebrities, getting photographed for top fashion magazines, or jet setting around the world.
What’s not to love about that, however, is that despite the 18-hour days and the huge profits they help bring in for fashion houses, models are among the country’s low-wage earners with an average of $26,110 per year, according to U.S. government data.
Home Health Aide
Average annual salary: $21,830
Average hourly wage: $10.49
The home care industry has been booming in recent decades, as more elderly Americans choose at-home care instead of nursing homes. Aides can be responsible for dispensing life-saving medication, as well as playing a vital role in ensuring access to high-quality nursing care in people’s homes.
And though their work has required more training and responsibility, home health aides’ pay remained among the lowest in the service industry. A study released by the National Domestic Workers Alliance shows nearly a quarter of home health aides earn below minimum wage.
Average annual salary: $31,470
Average hourly wage: $15.13
Becoming a veterinary technician requires attending a two-year program to gain an associates degree, and veterinary technologists need a bachelor’s degree in order to perform their jobs. They draw blood samples, assist veterinarians during surgery and perform a number of medical tests on animals.
Yet they’re paid an average of about $15 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wow. Do you agree that these professions should be considered too for a wage increase?
Statistics has shown that most Americans take their financial situation for granted. This can be true for non-American individuals as well. Of course, your geographical location may play a part. But, a financial crisis can affect anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. And, statistics say that none of us are prepared to handle them.
According to these statistics, Americans (in particular) have difficulty with being “proactive” when it comes to financial preparedness.
- 46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
- 40% of baby boomers now plan to work until they die.
- 87% of adults say they are not confident about having money for a comfortable retirement.
- 36% of Americans say they don’t contribute anything at all to their savings.
Okay. As you can see, these statistics are shameful. We are clearly not prepared if changes occur in various stages in our lives. But, what are these “changes”? And, what should a person do in order for them to become better prepared?
1. Your kids college careers – Keep a timeline of when your child will graduate from high school. Map out a yearly plan on how much you’d like to save towards their education. Start saving now, not tomorrow. Also, research and apply for college grants or other forms of financial assistance.
2. Loss of job – Always have 6 to 12 months of emergency funds stashed in a savings account. The amount should be based on your total monthly expenses (or how much it cost to maintain your household each month). This will prepare you for any unfortunate layoff’s or separations. If you are a small business owner, devise an escape plan or ways to keep your business afloat, in case difficulties arise.
3. Economic downfall – Think of ways to survive an economic shift. What jobs are you capable of doing that can help you earn money while enduring an economic crisis?
4. Real estate or stock market changes – Stock markets fluctuate all the time. The real estate game is just now seeing a favorable shift after being the cause of America’s economic crisis a few years back. So, to prepare yourself, create a secondary plan that will keep you afloat in case your investments take a huge dip.
5. Other circumstances (i.e. divorce, health scare, death) – Be proactive by, again, writing out a P.O.A. aka Plan Of Action. Don’t wait until a parent dies or you get a divorce. Create a list of “what if’s”. These questions will help you pinpoint which income stream(s) will serve as the monetary source for any potential life change. Also, your list of “what if’s” should include names, places, and estimated costs. The earlier you plan, the better off you will be when the unfortunate time comes.
This process may take a little of your inner psychic. It’s all about being prepared for anything. Therefore, a proactive thinker should incorporate “sudden changes” into their budgets. Take control of your life while you still have time.
Source for Statistics: TonyRobbins.com
After a long battle against a former financial advisor, the courts have reached a favorable decision in Rihanna’s $35 million lawsuit.
Rihanna was awarded a judgement of $10 million, which both parties agreed upon. She originally sued Peter Gounis, of Berdon LLP, for millions she’d loss in failed ventures suggested by the accountant. Remember, in 2009, the pop singer announced that she was “effectively broke”. She also fired Mr. Gounis.
Rihanna claimed that in January 2009 she had $11 million. By December 2009, she had only $2 million left. Mr. Gounis, during that year, OK’d several large purchases such as the $7.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills, which later turned out to be a dud. The home was ridden with water leakage problems. Rihanna spent over $1 million in home repairs until finally deciding to sell it, which caused her a $2 million loss.
The court documents read: “Mr. Gounis was fully appraised of Ms. Fenty’s financial condition, yet, nonetheless, failed to advise her that the purchase would be unwise.” (Source: LatinaPost.com)
Rih Rih’s legal squad added that Berdon LLP also advised her (via email) to make the purchase(s) knowing that she was experiencing financial difficulties. The accounting firm also failed to warn her about a worldwide tour that was failing. The ticket sales were not turning over as forecast and the firm failed to warn her before the tour ended. She lost millions because of this as well.
Peter Gounis’s argument was that Rihanna’s frivilous spending on designer clothing and jewelry was the real reason why her millions faded away.
Although Rihanna won this case, this should be a lesson to anyone who hire someone to manage their finances.
When soliciting and securing financial services from a firm or individual, always be willing to take a second look at your money at all times. Most firms and advisors are scheduled to give you a full financial report once a month or each quarter (or as often as you specify). This gives you the opportunity to review your assets against your liabilities, determine if there’s money available for major purchases or investments, etc. Mr. Gounis, in this instance, should not have approved the purchase of that $7.5 million mansion. Rihanna only had $11 million in the account. So, why would anyone tell their client to spend over half of their entire savings? This should have been a red flag for Rihanna.
But like a lot of celebrities and athletes, many do not know how to manage a large amount of money. From once being poor to one day becoming a multi-millionaire, this can be very scary and mentally overwhelming. And when you are not educated on how to properly manage your finances, you will be more prone to throwing it away.
In her case, Rihanna trusted the wrong people. This brings us to another point: don’t be afraid to fire people when they are not doing their job! There’s nothing wrong with that. Just because a colleague referred their services, you don’t have to put up with their poor job. So, fire them quickly and look for a reputable accountant. Try several accountants if you have to. And in some cases, hold them accountable for any significant losses (i.e. insurance, earned value milestones, etc).
The key is to be proactive, not reactive. If you can prevent a loss from happening by just being prepared and aware, then stay on your sh*t at all times, make sure your accountant is doing their job, and keep your eyes on your money.
Photo Source: UrbanIslandz.com
The EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) is a refundable tax credit which allows taxpayers to receive monies if their household earned less than $51,567 during the tax year. Not many people are aware that they can file for the EITC credit, which is why the IRS launched a nationwide awareness campaign to ensure families filed appropriately.
To ensure filers are taking the credit correctly, the IRS offers an online advice assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc. Taxpayers and tax preparers can get assistance with concerns about their family size, filing status, income requirements, and more. The EITC is available for those who work full-time or part-time jobs, self-employed, and even farmers. If you earned $51,567 or less in 2013, by filing for the credit, you can receive up to $6,044 (for families with 3 or more kids) and/or up to $487 filers without children.
However, before you prepare your return, please avoid making errors or false calculations when taking the EITC. Some errors to avoid are:
- Claiming a child who does not meet the relationship, age or residency tests
- Filing as “single” or “head of household” when married
- Over or under reporting of income and or expenses to qualify for or maximize EITC
- Missing Social Security numbers or Social Security Number and last name mismatches for both taxpayers and the children
Even if you are not required to file a return, as a worker, you must file a tax return and claim the credit specifically. To file for the EITC for FREE, there are three options: IRS.gov, Online Fillable Forms, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Care for the Elderly (TCE), or call 1-800-906-9887.
Something’s in the air. It must be tax season because insulting memes, videos, and quotes have been surfacing the web since early December 2013.
As we all know, anyone making under a certain amount of money is guaranteed to get a couple of thousand dollars back. But, each year the IRS uncovers millions of dollars that has been illegally claimed by Americans. This is not to say that everyone does this, but it is being done. Regardless, shopping centers, car lots and every other store becomes overpopulated when refunds are dispersed. People are so quick to run to a store or car lot to spend the cash, but they don’t think about saving their money until it’s too late. They dress spectacular and fabulous in the top name brands for a couple weeks, trying to show off and impress anyone who’ll watch. Then they’re in a pit (within a month) when bills are due and their bank account reads zero dollars.
One way to make sure your money last is to invest in treasury bonds, savings bonds, put a small amount in a stock market or invest in something worthwhile. If you don’t want to go that far, you can open up a protected savings account, which won’t allow you to make withdrawals from the account for a specific amount of time.
There are number of ways you can save your money and make it double. Just because the money is there, doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend it. Pretend like it does not exist, so when you really need it, it’ll be there for you – hopefully with interest.
Don’t be a victim of the cliché memes.
Are you searching for a job but in dire need of making sure it is the “right” one for you? As millions of people seek employment, not all are focusing only on the check. In fact, there are thousands who would rather have a profession that fits their personality, than one that merely pays well.
If this is you, prior to filling out applications, we recommend that you take a personality test. A personality test can help determine what’s your character like, what type of work is good, and what industry you’d be best suited for. After you’ve taken the test and figured your personality type, then you can streamline your search efforts and focus on the jobs that match.
CareerBuilder.com offers a list of industries/careers for certain personality types. The online job search site also goes as far as to show jobseekers what the pay salary is for each position. Here’s what Career Builder suggests:
PERSONALITY TYPES, JOBS & THEIR ESTIMATED SALARIES (MEDIAN)
Artistic - Editor ($47,811), Graphic Designer ($48,891), High School Drama Teacher ($52,856), Landscape Architect ($53,241), Perfumer ($21,791), and/or Producer ($79,310)
Conventional - Accountant ($46,171), Actuary ($95,354), Building Inspector ($47,735), Cost Estimator ($53,413), Financial Planner ($63,837), and/or Technical Writer ($55,747)
Enterprising - Advertising Sales Agent ($39,103), Financial Officer ($77,019), Management Analysis ($63,610), Program Director ($48,382), Sales Representative ($44,784), and/or Sales Manager ($85,091)
Investigative - Computer Systems Analyst ($61,549), Librarian ($48, 025), Optometrist ($95,058), Science Professor ($73,532), Software Engineer ($75,850), and/or Statistician ($59,830)
Realistic – Medical Sonographer ($56,603), Electrician ($35,158), Highway Patrol Pilot ($69,098), Locksmith ($34,148), Nuclear Engineer ($84,044), and/or Orthodontist ($271,373)
Social – Family Practitioner ($160,264), Personal Coach ($64,523), Personal Trainer ($24,881), School Psychologist ($49,622), Student Affairs Director ($71,093), and/or Teacher ($44,137)
For those in search of the perfect job for their personality, use Career Builder’s advice and tap into those careers mentioned above. We would like for all of our readers to enjoy what they are doing in life. If you can be happy and get paid for it, then why not take time to find the right job. Good luck!
Photo Credit: Bookboon.com
Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign to promote financial literacy across all age groups. Launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the program is now active in more than 45 states through national partnerships with the American Library Association and the Financial Planning Association.
The goal is to connect the institutions and organizations that provide financial education and information to the people who need it. The committee is in search of organizations that would like to partner with the campaign, and include your educational workshops and activities in this effort. If you don’t have an event going on during the campaign week and would like to host one or collaborate with another organization, please let us know so that we may assist in connecting you with our partners. If you have any questions or need additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact:
Venus R. Lockett
Money Smart Week® – Greater Atlanta Chair
Money Smart essay contests offer financially savvy students a chance to win $2,000
In support of Money Smart Week® 2014, scheduled April 5-12, the Money Smart Week-Greater Atlanta planning team and sponsor COUNTRY Financial are presenting the Money Smart Kid and Money Smart Teen Contests.
To enter, eligible students in middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) can go to www.moneysmartweek.org/ms_kids_contest to complete the application and 300 word essay by Feb. 28 (at 5PM).
The winner and runner-up of each age group will be selected to attend the Money Smart Kick-Off luncheon on April 7th hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to the winner and a $500 scholarship to the runner-up of each age group.
The winners will be named this year’s Money Smart Kid and Money Smart Teen, and have the chance to spend the year as a Greater Atlanta financial literacy ambassador.
For updates as we build our Greater Atlanta campaign, please visit: www.GetMoneySmartAtlanta.info.
Follow the campaign on social media: www.facebook.com/GetMoneySmartAtlanta , Twitter @MoneySmartATL, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube: Get Money Smart Atlanta .
A recent study revealed that there are over 190,000 cars in the U.S. with odometers that were rolled back. As more used car dealers find themselves in court regarding odometer fraud, analysts believe that there are many Americans were victims – dishing out thousands in unnecessary dollars for these cars.
According to the study, New York, California, Texas, and Georgia are the top four states most negligent of odometer fraud. In Georgia alone, there are 40,000 cars that has been affected. The Dept of Justice says that the average person lose at least $4,000 in car repairs and/or over-payment for the car.
One Georgia dealer was recently investigated for fraud. A private appraiser revealed that the dealer sold a 2001 Toyota Avalon – with 163,000 miles listed on the odometer – for $4,900. After pulling a Carfax report, documents showed that the Avalon sold a year before carrying 237,000 miles. So, the car was actually worth approximately $1,600. (Source: AJC)
Marc Plotnick, former owner of Plotty’s Discount Motors in Stuart, Florida was facing a potential sentence of 140 years of jail time on odometer fraud and other felony charges. What Plotnick got from the court was a slap on the wrist by comparison. The former used car dealer received an 8 month jail sentence, a year of house arrest and three years of probation. Prosecutors in Plotnick’s case had made a sentence recommendation of 14 months in prison as part of his plea agreement, but Judge Steve Levin thought otherwise. As a special condition to Plotnick’s sentence, the Court ordered that Plotnick was “not permitted to participate in any car business of any type – no sales to any customer” according the docket entries reported on the Martin County’s Clerk’s office. (Source: MannersLaw)
In the state of Georgia, odometer fraud carries a misdemeanor charge. Although it is recognized as a state and federal crime, the penalties in most states have been less desirable for the victims. Even though Plotnick served 8 months in jail, he eventually slipped through a loophole and started back selling cars. So, if there aren’t any strict regulations at these dealerships, it is imperative that consumers protect themselves.
Before purchasing an used car, first conduct a Vehicle Identity Number (VIN) search and obtain a CarFax Vehicle History Report. The CarFax report allows the customer to find out any prior repairs or previous rollbacks. Obtaining a report prior to purchasing a car will allow you to save up to 80% in future repair costs.
If you suspect that you’ve been a victim or odometer fraud, ask for assistance with your State Attorney’s General office, Dept of Motor Vehicle (DMV), Dept of Transportation, and any agency that handle vehicle fraud claims.
Each year, Americans file their taxes in anticipation of receiving “free” money. Some of us, who are not as lucky, have to pay Uncle Sam back. While others eagerly awaits their refund so that they can spend it on a new car, TV, vacations, and a host of other non-detrimental things. However, the best way to get the most out of your refund is to save it, invest, and/or pay off debt.
To help those who are wondering what to do with that check or direct deposit, here are 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Tax Refund:
1. Pay off or reduce your credit card balances – If you are far behind in payments, you are probably one of millions of Americans with a low credit score. Most credit ratings are lowered because of overdue payments and huge balances. Get back on track by using your refund to pay off that debt. Not only will that help raise your credit score, but it will also put you back in good standings with the credit card company.
2. Pay off loans or make additional payments – You’d be surprised at the number of people who obtain payday loans or cash advances. The idea was to use your job paycheck to pay the loan back – little by little each month. Of course, things don’t pan out as planned. Your interest rate is increasing and you fall deeper in debt. This applies to mortgages and auto loans too. It is best to use your refund to pay these loans off completely or pay on them. For mortgages, get ahead of the 30-year fixed and double up on a monthly payment. It will help you lower your principle significantly.
3. Settle your collections account – Stop the collectors from harassing you by paying off your debt. Out of all the things that can negatively affect your credit score, an unpaid collections account is the worst. Even if you settle your collections account, this does not improve your score. However, it will definitely make it easier to get approvals on other loans or credit accounts.
4. Save money for a rainy day – Having a savings account (other than your 401K) is important. A savings will allow you to store your refund in case of an emergency (i.e. loss of job, major home repairs, etc). Always save up to 6 months of emergency funds. If you do not have a savings account set up, this is the perfect time to open one.
5. Invest – There are many options available in terms of investing. You have mutual funds, bonds, stocks, real estate, and so on. If there’s a business you’ve always wanted to start, your refund may help get it off the ground. Of course there’s risks to owning a business, but at least this is a risk that could potentially be profitable. Contact a financial advisor for assistance. Figuring out what type of investment is good for you will be overwhelming. But, once you sit down and learn the pros and cons, you’ll soon see that using your refund was well worth it.
Hopefully, these tips are found helpful. Even if you decide to take your family on a vacation, don’t spend it all on the trip. Save a portion of your “free” money and put it towards one of the five options listed above.
The IRS says there’s millions in unclaimed tax refunds just waiting to be claimed by Americans. A total of $917 million has been unaccounted for since the 2009 tax season. This money was left by workers who hadn’t filed their taxes. To help push the IRS efforts to find these taxpayers, H&R Block launched a “get their billion back” ad campaign this month.
In addition, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) says that there’s at least $42 billion in unclaimed property in various U.S. states. The properties have been left behind due to various reasons: change of address, death, unknown existence by estate executors or family heirs, and so on. “Property” includes uncashed paychecks, stocks, checking accounts, insurance payments, certificates of deposit and expired gift card balances.
According to Bankrate.com, California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois are the top five states with the most in unclaimed tax refunds. If you believe you or a family member owns this money, you can conduct a name search at MissingMoney.com. But, don’t wait too long. Apparently, the law states that there’s a 3-year time span in which you can claim and obtain these funds. Meaning, if you forgot to file your taxes in 2009, you had until 2013 to claim your money.
By law, there’s a three-year window to recover unclaimed tax refunds and you can do so by filing a federal tax return. The last date to recover refunds for 2010 will be April 15, 2014. If you miss the deadline, you can basically kiss your cash goodbye — it officially becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. Certain exceptions apply for people who can prove they’ve experienced a mental or physical impairment.
For heirs or guardians, you have to provide certain information in order to retrieve your deceased family members property. Proof of ownership must be in the form of a power of attorney. Also, you’ll have to provide the deceased Social Security number, proof of deceased address (via deed, utility bill), etc.
Porsha Williams (formerly Stewart) new year is not starting off too well. Seeing her life play out on Season 6 of “Real Housewives of Atlanta”, would make a woman second guess the whole reality show bit. But, in her case, allegedly it is her only source of income. So, unfortunately she has no choice but to grin and bear it.
According to TMZ, Porsha Williams is facing financial hardships these days. Word is that she’s behind almost $18,000 in her condo’s home owner association fees. In her divorce settlement, she allegedly receives only $5,000 a month is spousal support. With her on-screen lavish lifestyle, it has to be hard to keep up with the joneses. On the show, for instance, she moved into a mini-mansion in Nene Leakes’ neighborhood knowing that she couldn’t afford it. But, Porsha insisted that this major move would force her to work hard and go hustle for that money. Realistically, how hard will a former stay-at-home/trophy wife work to make them coins? Not too hard.
In addition to being being on her HOA fees, TMZ learned that the condo association has filed a suit against her for the unpaid monies. They have requested that her bank accounts be frozen and her RHOA check be garnished until her debt is satisfied.
All I can say is…Porsha please get a financial advisor or account ASAP, if you do not have one. At this point, she needs assistance on how to properly manage the income she has coming in. If TMZ’s claim that she has moved back in with her mom is true, that’s a great move. It’s a very smart move. You don’t have to keep up the high-priced image for your fans and friends. If they love you, they will love you regardless of where you stay.
We never knew this existed until now. Apparently, some insurance companies offer policies which can protect you from any unwarranted wedding blues.
With wedding costs ranging from a few thousands up to $50,000 (or more), several companies are now selling insurance policies to cover any losses. Whether you opted to have a destination wedding in Anguilla and an unfortunate rain storm ruined your big day, for instance, the couple’s policy will pay for several losses. These types of policies offer coverage of bad weather, sickness, poorly done photography and videography, and other necessities.
Cheryl Winter spent $500 for Hartford-based Travelers Cos. Inc. to cover her daughter’s $50,000 destination wedding last October in New Orleans, where her biggest concern was a potential hurricane. The weather cooperated, but the limousine never showed up. Her daughter took a taxi cab to the church, and they used the insurance policy to claim the deposit money they couldn’t get back from the limo driver.
“No one wants to be walking in the French Quarter in a long gown and high heels,” said Winter, who lives in the Houston area. (AP)
In addition to that, a few companies offer coverage if one of the parties decide to ditch the wedding all together. This policy is called “Change of Heart” insurance. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., for example, has sold this type of policy since 2007. But because of several fraud cases where couples purchased policies because of fighting (close to their scheduled wedding date), FFIC added a clause that states that the policy can only be claimed if the couple calls off their wedding nine (9) months before the wedding.
So, if you and your fiance is on shaky terms now and the wedding isn’t until 2015, you may want to go get you a policy.
Please know that most companies do not offer wedding-related coverage. Therefore, it is best to contact your insurance company and confirm first before shopping around to see who does offer it.
No little girl dreams of being a single mother and the lavish lifestyle that come with it balancing children, career and love. I’m pretty sure the ideal situation has something to do with a prince charming, wedding bells, a white picket fence and a “conventional family”. However, the reality for most women in the year of 2014 is the exact opposite. Relationship cycles have digressed to courting, moving in, creating offspring, splitsville and in most situations co-parenting.
The reality is as a mother you become both parents even if “dad” is still present. Present in this case is a very relative term referring to a variety of “dads”. Being a dad can translate into many things, case in point: non-existent to financial supporter, weekend pick-ups to daddy day care, summer visits to holiday calls, no call no shows to the infamous “baby daddy”, you name it.
No matter what role the “dad” plays the fact still remains that it ‘s time to put on your big girl panties and woman up. Although, courting was nice the result still stands that there is a living breathing person who depends on you for their every waking need. Now that love is gone and the ability to just make a grocery store run alone is not an option, what’s next?
Plan or no plan here you go. These are a few helpful steps to get you on track and back in motion.
• Be aware of exactly what you make on a monthly basis. Put all your bills together and project the range, high and low, of what you can anticipate to pay monthly. (Utilities, rent, mortgage, groceries)
• Turn the lights off in your home when not in use.
• Wash clothes when a full load has accumulated and conserve water when showering and washing dishes.
• Make a grocery list, stick to it and cook daily. Plan to eat out as a reward even if it’s a fast food meal.
• Do not include your child support if possible; this can be the icing on the cake that will supply clothes and extra curricular activities for the kids. Do not exclude free activities; there are an abundance of them out there.
• If you qualify for government assistance, utilize it don’t depend on it.
• As your kids get older don’t be afraid to recycle old clothes. Meaning utilize the good old “hand me down” method, sell them to resale stores and don’t forget eBay. You would be amazed how much fortune you have laying around the house.
• Put the money you’ve saved in a saving account. It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 a month, after 12 months it will have added up to $240 you would have spent.
I hope this helps ladies and remember, every penny counts. It’ not the end of the world, it’s actually the beginning of a beautiful, independent and fulfilled life.
Article submitted by Sam Summer, contributing writer for STACKS Magazine.
As up and coming artists, you dream of being the next opening act at a major concert or show. If such an opportunity appeared today, would you waste any time taking it? NO. Of course not…no matter how much it may cost you.
Well, artists may want to think twice. According to DJ Smallz, a new scam is happening to artists on Facebook. The “Opening Act” scam appears as a great opportunity to open up for a larger artist. A person will inbox the details about the show and suggest that you solidify your spot by making payment via a Green Dot prepaid card. This is a scam. Problem is that it’s hard to detect if the Facebook account initiating contact is a fraud or not. People may “catfish” their victims by posting pictures of celebrities and shows on their pages. These pictures to may appear to be the real deal. Instead, they are not and are causing the struggling artist to lose unnecessary money while on their pursuit to make it big.
DJ Smallz explains that he has had many artists to contact him saying they were scammed. Therefore, he offers up lessons that will help prevent you from being their next victim. Check it out below:
For assistance with other areas of the music business, visit Smallz’ SouthernSmokeUniversity.com.
In addition, the Green Dot prepaid cards are being used to trick money out of poor defenseless Facebookers. To prevent you or a friend from becoming a victim, here’s an explanation on how the scam operates from Publishers Clearing House website:
It often works like this: someone claiming to be a PCH representative contacts you and informs you that you’ve won a big PCH prize. But in order to claim that prize, you must go out to Walmart or a convenience store to purchase a prepaid card. You’re instructed to put a certain amount of money on the card and then provide the card number to the “reps.” Once these fraudsters have the card number, they’ll wipe the card clean of the money on it and disappear. You’ll never see your alleged prize OR the money spent on the card again. Yikes! (via PCH Blog)
The best way to stay scam free is to never conduct transactions online with a stranger. For artists, if a person promises you opening act slot or performance spot on a show (and you have to pay first), don’t believe it. The legitimate opportunities will be established through networking and building relationships. If the “rep” can’t meet you in-person, always second guest their legitimacy.
Thanks to tax preparation software, more of us are making fewer mistakes on our annual tax returns. But still, just one slip in entering information on your computer could end up costing you, either in the form of a larger tax bill or a smaller refund.
And even if a mistake — either on your computer or paper forms — doesn’t cost you cash, it could delay the receipt of any refund you’re expecting.
To get exactly what you should from the Internal Revenue Service, as quickly as possible, look out for these tax-filing pitfalls. A few are new, thanks to recent law changes. Others are perennial problems taxpayers face each filing season. With a little care, you can avoid them all.
No matter how you decide to prepare your taxes this year mistakes can happen. While tax preparation or allowing someone else to prepare your taxes may cut down on the number and types of errors made, any mishap could cost you. While things can get quite complicated for some when it comes to all things taxes, here are a few simple mistakes Bankrate.com says can make a major difference. So if you haven’t already filed…take heed!
1. Math miscalculations
The most common error on tax returns, year after year, is bad math. Mistakes in arithmetic or in transferring figures from one schedule to another will get you an immediate correction notice. Math mistakes also can reduce your tax refund or result in you owing more tax than you thought.
Using a tax software program to file your return can help reduce math errors. The built-in calculators do the work for you, adding, subtracting and inserting numbers on additional forms as needed. But you still have to make sure your initial numbers are correct. Entering $3,500 when the real figure is $5,300 makes a lot of tax difference. Getting the numbers right is crucial because you can be sure the IRS will be double-checking numerical entries against its copies of your tax statements (W-2, 1099s and the like). When IRS examiners find a discrepancy, they’ll definitely let you know and, in many cases, will correct your mistake and refigure your taxes for you. Don’t give them the chance. Make sure your math entries are right.
2. Filing status errors
Make sure you choose the correct filing status for your situation. You have five options, and each could make a difference in your ultimate tax bill.
If this is the first tax-filing season you’ve been divorced and you now are a single parent, head-of-household probably will be more beneficial. And you’re still married, but you and your spouse are thinking about filing separate tax returns? That works in some cases, but not all.
Make sure you know what each tax-filing status entails, and choose the one that best fits your personal and tax situation.
3. Social Security number oversights
Because the IRS stopped putting taxpayer Social Security numbers on tax package labels in response to privacy concerns, some taxpayers forget to write in their identification numbers. Your tax ID number is crucial because there are so many transactions — income statements, savings account interest, retirement plan contributions — keyed to this number.
The nine-digit sequence also is vital to claim several tax credits, such as the child tax and additional child tax credits as well as ones for educational expenses and dependent care costs.
And make sure the names associated with the Social Security numbers match Social Security Administration records. A difference here also will cause the IRS to kick out or slow down your return.
4. Signature required
Sign and date your return. The IRS won’t process it if it’s missing a John Hancock, and that means on e-filed returns, too. Taxpayers filing electronically must sign the return electronically using a personal identification number, or PIN. To verify your identity, you’ll have to provide the PIN you used last year or your adjusted gross income from your previous year’s tax return.
Your tax software should walk you through the e-signature process, but if you’re still mailing your return, don’t be in such a hurry that you stuff your 1040 in the pre-addressed IRS envelope without signing it. And if it’s a joint filing, you and your spouse must sign.
5. Missing the deadline
Don’t miss the impending April 15 tax deadline. If you owe the IRS and that’s the reason you’re thinking of not filing, that’s a bad idea. If you don’t file a return, you’ll face even stiffer penalties. So send in the paperwork, pay what you can and talk with the IRS or your tax professional about the next steps.
As much as we want to believe our kids don’t comprehend certain concepts, during their younger years, the fact is they can. Child experts believe that kids can begin absorbing information as young as 4 or 5 years old. Many financial experts, too, believe this is true. Although terms and concepts such as investing, stocks, and mutual funds may take some advancement, there have been reports that kids under 8 years old understood this information quite easily. The only requirement was that the definitions and explanation of the terms be put in its simplest form.
This may seem like a hard task. But trust…it isn’t.
When explaining these most popular terms used when investing, financial advisors suggest that you use these words similar to the following:
Stocks – Explain that many companies they know and love (e.g., Burger King, Mattel, Disney) have many owners who own a small part of the company, called a share of stock. Consider giving a gift of stock of a favorite company, explaining that this stock makes the child an “owner” of the company.
Mutual Funds – Explain mutual funds in terms of sharing, with lots of people sharing all the interest earned on a big pool of money that’s being invested in things like stocks. Compare it to the family DVD player, for example: the whole family owns it, but it’s there to benefit each person.
Compounding – Explain that with the interest earned through a bank account, money can be used to make money. The longer the money is left alone, the greater the effect of compounding, as the new money earned earns additional interest on the original money.
Making the process simple is necessary for a young child. At a young when they can barely multiply and divide, it is imperative that you are aware of your child’s learning capabilities first. Once that is determined, start teaching them about money, how it is used, why it is saved, etc. Help them understand the overall value of money. From there, and as they grow older, use these examples to explain what investing is.
It is better to start early than late. The goal is to develop a child who is understands how powerful the dollar is and who is financially responsible.
Besides the obvious which is being denied additional credit when needed there is also another price to pay for having bad credit that is just as bad and that price can be summed up in three words HIGHER INTEREST RATES. When you have bad credit it is a guaranteed that you will be at a disadvantage and pay higher interest on credit cards, auto loans, and home loans thus making it more challenging overtime to make your payments, lower your debt and essentially improve your credit scores.
Good credit on the other hand allows you to pay less in interest thus increasing the likelihood that you will be able to manage your monthly payments which will ultimately contribute to a higher credit score enabling you to utilize the leverage that good credit makes available through the use of other people’s money.
There is good news and hope for those currently experiencing credit problems. No matter what your current credit score is the dream score of 800 or higher is still within reach with a little work.
If you have desires to be able to take advantage of the best deals on life’s largest purchases and have access to large credit lines to take advantage of opportunities that those with bad credit can’t a solution to make those desires manifest themselves is within your reach.
Although things are now different there was a time that I was a victim of bad credit, constantly struggling to pay bills and drowning in debt without a substantial income that would allow me bail myself out debt that I had found myself in as a result of living beyond my means.
After years of discipline I have been able to join the coveted 800 club myself and also assist clients in reaching the same goal by following a two-step sure fire strategy that I will share with you:
ALWAYS MAINTAIN LOW BALANCES AND HIGH LIMITS
Because a large portion of your credit scores with all three bureaus is calculated and determined by your credit utilization (used credit –v- available credit) a good rule of thumb is to keep your balances well below 50 percent of your limits although I personally suggest 35 percent. Once you reach the 50 percent mark, your credit scores will begin to decrease however the opposite applies when you keep lower balances meaning that the lower you keep your balances below that 50 percent mark, the higher your credit scores will remain.
LIMIT THE NUMBER OF REQUESTS FOR CREDIT (TOO MANY INQUIRIES HURT)
Credit inquiries are recorded so that you can know who has obtained your credit report. They also enable potential creditors and lenders to see when you have applied for credit. Too many credit inquiries will cause potential creditors to question whether you are seeking to obtain more credit than you can afford to repay. The credit scoring agencies have found that borrowers who request credit frequently tend to be higher risk borrowers. Thus, frequent inquiries on your credit report that result from frequent requests for new credit (credit cards, loans, etc.) will lower your credit score.
LATE PAYMENTS NOT AN OPTION
One third of your credit score is based on your payment history therefore it is imperative to MAKE PAYMENTS ON TIME. Missing one payment when you have a good credit score can cause your scores to drop upwards of 100 points. There are only five other factors that may affect your score more than a late pay and those factors are a debt settlement, a foreclosure, a judgment, a tax lien, or a bankruptcy.
KEVYN JEROME NELSON (The Hip Hop Credit Doctor) is the President/ CEO of WORLDWIDE CREDIT AND FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS INC www.worldwidecrediandfinancialsolutionsinc.com and MIDAS TOUCH ENTERPRISES WORLDWIDE LTD Published works include “Corporate Credit Unleashed” “Hidden Secrets The Credit Bureaus Don’t Want You To Know: An Insider’s Guide To Building and Maintaining Excellent Credit In Today’s Economy” and “When All Else Fails….Legally Create A New Credit File” Available On Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Kevyn-Jerome-Nelson/e/B00AQLQS22/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
For More information on the concepts discussed contact 323-769-6356 or email email@example.com.
Nowadays, young people understand the meaning of hard work. They also know that with hard work, substantial amounts of money can be made. So, in today’s society, you tend to see individuals jump into the workforce as young as 15 years old. Although most are probably working in order to support their fashion and entertainment habits, there are a few that are considering their future by saving.
For those individuals who become employees at a corporation (or any company that offers a 401K retirement plan), it is best to begin saving as early as possible. The sooner you start putting portions of your paycheck into a retirement account, the greater chances you’ll have at accumulating a huge chunk of money by the time you retire. Of course, this also depends on how much of your paycheck you have deducted each month. Most investment experts will advise people to transfer no less than 6 percent of their paycheck(s) to a retirement account. Percentages less than that will take a much longer time to grow, especially if you wait until you are in your late 20s/early 30s to start saving.
To assist young adults with their savings plan, here are several ways to start stacking dough for retirement:
1. Pay yourself first.
“Treat your retirement savings as a monthly expense,” suggests Debra Greenberg, director, IRA Product Management at Merrill Lynch. “Take that money off the top of your income and not from what’s left at the end of the month.” Then take a look at your budget to identify areas where you can cut back to free up more money to save. Paring down your expenses may not be as difficult as you think, Greenberg says. Try eating out less, she advises, and look for better deals on your cable or cell-phone service. Those savings can really add up.
2. Consider an IRA.
If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, or if you’re contributing the maximum and want to save more, you can still invest in a traditional or Roth IRA (see the chart below for contribution limits).
For a Roth IRA, you contribute after-tax dollars, and you won’t pay federal tax on your earnings when you withdraw them at retirement if they’re taken as a qualified distribution. Note, however, that state tax may apply.
For a traditional IRA, you may be eligible for a tax deduction now, but you’ll be taxed when you withdraw the assets later. This can be a big benefit if you’re currently in a tax bracket that’s higher than the level that you believe may apply during your retirement, when you’ll have to pay tax on withdrawals. Ask a tax advisor which IRA is right for you.
3. Enroll in a 401(k) if you can.
If your employer offers a 401(k), enroll as soon as you can to take advantage of the benefits. In an employer-sponsored plan, your contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck, helping you maintain the discipline to keep contributing. In addition, some employers offer a Roth 401(k), which can be especially good for young investors. Although contributions to a Roth are taxed, withdrawals during retirement won’t be if taken as qualified distributions, and your tax rate now is likely to be lower than it is when you take money from the account. And if you have a traditional 401(k), your contributions are taken from pretax dollars.
Many employers will match a certain percentage of your contributions, so at a minimum, try to contribute enough to earn the full match. “An employer match is part of your compensation, so don’t leave that money on the table,” says Vale. And if you can, contribute the maximum amount allowed. See the table above for the current contribution limits.
4. Increase your contributions whenever you can.
While it helps to contribute whatever you can, especially as you’re starting out, some say that contributing as much as 15% to 20% of your income toward retirement may make sense. It can seem like a lot, but future costs of health care and inflation will likely require more than you think. If you can’t contribute that much right now, stretch as far as you can, and make a commitment to increase your contribution when you get a raise or pay off a large expense. Even increasing it 1% or 2% regularly will add up over time. For 401(k) contributions, check to see whether your employer offers automatic increases.
5. Be sure to factor in fees.
Fees are a normal part of investing but will vary from investment to investment, so consider them carefully as you make your choices. You may be holding these investments for many years, and high fees could diminish your returns over time.
6. Consolidate to simplify.
It’s much easier to keep track of your retirement funds and monitor an overall asset allocation when all of your retirement accounts are in one place. If you’ve left retirement funds in previous employers’ 401(k) plans, you may want to consider rolling them over into an IRA or your new employer’s 401(k). Some employers pass along administration and service fees to their 401(k) participants, which may mean that you can invest in particular funds less expensively through an IRA than you can in a former employer’s 401(k). An IRA may provide you with more investment choices.
7. Balance retirement plans with your other savings goals.
Saving for retirement is important, but so are other goals, such as creating an emergency fund and preparing to pay for a child’s education. If you can balance your retirement goal planning while still enjoying today, you won’t be tempted to try to cover expenses by dipping into your retirement savings—something you really don’t want to have to do. Usually if you’re under age 59½ and withdraw retirement account funds, you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount you withdraw, along with a 10% additional tax. Ask your tax advisor about provisions for using funds for education or the purchase of a home, but be sure to also consider how withdrawing those funds can affect your retirement savings.
Once you have established a retirement savings strategy that makes room for your other financial priorities, you’re on your way. Stick to your strategy, and monitor it regularly—at least every six months—to be sure your strategy aligns with your goals as they evolve. By the time you retire, you’ll be glad you started saving as much as you did as soon as you could.
For more information on saving for retirement, go to www.Merrilledge.com.
Forbes Investment Guide 2014 is out. This handy special edition guide is now available for millions of people to buy. The guide consists of financial tips from Forbes staff and savvy entrepreneurs. Whether it is an article on which stocks to invest in or how to make money in real estate, this booklet provides up-to-date information on ways to become successful. And when we speak of success, we really mean becoming rich.
If you are a person who’s ambitious and hungry for success, purchasing the Forbes Investment Guide will be a great resource to have on your shelf. Tax deduction tips, fine art investments, ways to save for college, and more can be found in this guide book. Creating a path of financial stability for you and your family is pertinent. So, why not equip yourself with helpful information that can lead you to that economical status.
The main thing about a lot of us is that we do not like to read. It is something about reading equates to “work”, which is why it seems hard. Of course, working hard is never on anyone’s agenda. However, the reality is that without knowledge we will never get ahead.
Therefore, one simple reason to pick up a copy of the Forbes Investment Guide 2014 is to LEARN. To engulf yourself with more knowledge than what you have now, means that you are empowering yourself. All successful people had to learn their job first before becoming rich. So, treat yourself to something that is valuable and contains information that will last a lifetime.
Being educated is not corny, it’s cool…and always remember that.
Despite the few glitches remaining on HealthCare.gov’s website, many Americans have completed the application process and will receive health insurance in 2014. However, some registrants have dealt with minor issues that may cause some worry for others.
Once you’ve completed the online application, follow-up with your insurance company to confirm that payment has been received. Without knowing if glitches exist on the backside, it is hard to know if your first “premium” payment even made it to the insurer. And your first payment is very important. Luckily, most insurers have postponed payment deadlines until January 10. Those fees received by January 10 will be made retroactive to January 1. This way you will still have coverage the first two weeks of the year.
In addition, it is best to call the insurance company and make sure that your application was completed properly. Check to see if there aren’t any data errors. The last thing you need is to be rejected when you go set a doctors appointment.
Lastly, if you missed the Christmas Eve deadline, you now have until March 31 to enroll for healthcare. If you don’t have health coverage, you will be subject to a $95 tax penalty (or 1 percent of your income) the next year.
Recently, an ABC correspondent traveled to Canal Street (in New York City) to dive into the world of counterfeit handbags. This is big business and it has changed over the years when it comes to pricing. Back in the day, a person could cop a fake Gucci handbag for about $30-$40. Nowadays, ABC says the dealers on Canal St., in particular, have raised the stakes and are now charging anywhere up to $1,000 for a bag. These high priced knock-offs are called “superfakes”.
Watch the undercover investigation below:
True enough, it is difficult at times to determine if a handbag is real or not. In order to guarantee the authentication of your next handbag, best thing to do is buy it at the actual designer store (i.e. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Chanel, etc).
What are your thoughts about the “superfakes”? Are the dealers charging WAY too much for the counterfeit handbags?
American Express has agreed to pay at least $75.7 million to stop an ongoing investigation into their identity theft protection service.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) claims that AMEX tricked cardholders into purchasing the service that didn’t last for two-years as stated. In the product agreement, the identity theft protection would last up to two years. Cardholders who purchased the product only received one to three months of service. Also, consumers who hadn’t completed the enrollment process were charged for the service anyway.
AMEX has agreed to settle for $75.7 million. They have agreed to refund $59.5 million to its customers and $16.2 million in federal fines.
This is why it is very important to read your contract agreements carefully and pay close attention to your monthly statements. You never know when banks or credit card companies are over-charging you.
In 2013, Atlanta rapper Jeezy began using the hashtag #BossUp on Instagram photos. Clearly, it was signifying his increase in business ventures (i.e. Avion Tequilla, Gourmet Shoes, etc) and his overall evolution into becoming a man. Even as a teenager, Jeezy must’ve had his sights on bigger and better things that were major in contrast to his humble upbringings. The way industry peers and fans have witnessed his growth since releasing street classics like Thug Motivation 101, most parents would appreciate if their child had the same type of inner hustle. Not everyone has a hustlers spirit. But, the ones that do are blessed with the ability to turn nothing into something.
For many young adults sometimes the challenge is finding their niche. Remember, as a kid, your parent(s) would sign you up for ballet or Little League Football. In about two weeks of going to classes or practice, you become bored with it and want to try a new sport/hobby. Finding your career niche occurs the same way. Through your teens and 20′s, you may hold several different jobs. Some kids choose to earn money the illegal way. Of course that is not the career choice to go with. But, it’s reality. Whether a good hustle or bad hustle, the tasks and obstacles to becoming a true go-getter may vary. The goal, however, is to become successful…financially.
The Millenials (18-34 year olds) are much different than Generation X and the Baby Boomers. Millenials want success BAD. Their motivation starts out with wanting the latest fashions. Eventually, as they grow older, the motivation becomes cars, homes, starting a business, and more. The common thread, though, again is the need to make money.
In a few days, the year 2014 will be here. As an young hustler, ask yourself ”are you prepared to reach your goal?” If not, here are 5 resolutions that can help bring the Jeezy out of you:
1. Figure out what talents or skills you have. What are you good at? Can you cook? Do you draw? Can you create a beat on ProTools? Find out what your talents are first. This will make it easier for you to come up with ideas on how to capitalize off of your skill sets.
2. Take educational courses to enhance your knowledge base. Finishing high school and/or college is important. The streets can’t teach you everything. Don’t believe it when you hear someone say that. Your hustle choice will require some technical or non-technical knowledge at some point. If you sell jewelry on Instagram, it will make sense to know how to maintain your financial records. Or how to maintain inventory records. Registering for an accounting class, for instance, will help you understand the basics. What sense is it to make money but have trouble counting it??
3. Learn to save. Hustlers have the tendency to spend frivolously. They do because making more of it comes easy for them. Be a smart hustler. When you become of age, open up a savings account. Deposit 10-20% of your weekly earnings into that account. Over time, you will increase your net worth and always have “emergency” funds available.
4. Choose the right set of friends. Distance yourself from friends or family that hold you back. Friends can be your downfall. Spend most your time with other go-getters and/or positive influences. These people will help motivate you and offer words of wisdom. Individuals who lack ambition or even the foresight will be a constant distraction. Through jealousy, possession, or hate, the wrong friends will always make themselves known. Stay away!
5. Keep setting goals (6-months, 12-months, 18-months, etc). Expand your plans as far as you can think about them. The more ideas you jot down, the more opportunities you can create for yourself. Goals will also help you stay organized and on track. If you fall off or have a minor setback, at least you will be able to identify where you stopped. Then, when it’s time to get your hustle back on, you can pick up right where you left off.
No matter what the “hustle” is, it is still a job that requires preparation and commitment. Preparation will allow the young go-getter to establish a solid foundation. Commitment will increase he or she chances of becoming rich and successful. Most millionaires didn’t stop in six months and became rich. They spent years creating the career and lifestyle they wanted for themselves.
As a hustler, you create your own life. Jeezy carved out his path to success and became a label owner and entrepreneur. You can too. Work on the five resolutions listed above and begin today creating your own unique life of prosperity.
If you were planning to file your tax returns in January, you may be a little disgruntle to learn that the filing start date has been pushed back.
The government shutdown affected many agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, causing them to close their offices for about a week or two. During this time of closure, most agencies were prevented from working on any daily tasks or special projects. The IRS, for example, was affected tremendously and is still experiencing a bit of delay on work assignments. And taxpayers will continue to see this delay in the coming month.
In October, the IRS announced that taxpayers should expect to see a delay in the start date by one to two weeks. The original start date was January 21. Now, we shouldn’t begin filing out taxes until February 4. The reason for the delay is so that the IRS can conduct proper testing of various processing systems.
The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year.
About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, with some major workstreams closed entirely during this period, putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year in order to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.
The tax deadline of April 15 is still as is. The IRS states that no filings sent in prior to February 4 will be processed. Therefore, they heavily suggest that taxpayers wait. If needed, there is always the option to file an six-month extension. To do this, complete and send in Form 4868.
Also, the quickest way to recieve your refund is to prepare an e-file with direct deposit.
This is the time of year where most people are in the giving mood. It’s the holidays. While most people are enjoying spending time with loved ones, there are countless others who use this time to give-back. From donating clothing to the Salvation Army to buying bicycles for underpriviledged kids, the act of being able to help someone in need is what make life that much more fulfilling.
Around the world, there are thousands of legitimate organizations. On the flipside, however, there are just as many fictitious ones.
Bogus charities are often seen during times of catastrophic natural disasters. The scam artists, that create and operate these fake causes, use various tactics to receive money or private information from their victims. They begin to hound victims with an influx of sketchy phone calls or send unwanted emails. Most of the time, these bogus groups get away with crime is because of the urgency of the natural disaster and our need to help victims of it.
But natural disaster-related charities aren’t the only ones who are known to trick innocent people out of money. As mentioned, it’s the holiday season. So, organizations are hosting fundraiser events to help raise funds in order to feed the homeless, donate Christmas toys to kids, etc. Unfortunately, these type of groups too can be managed under the disguise of a scammer.
To prevent yourself from becoming their next victim, here are a couple tips to avoid donating money to these bogus charities:
1. Only Donate to Recognizable Charities (or charities that has had a history of doing exactly what they preach)
2. Conduct prior research on that charity.
3. Check the IRS.gov website (EO Select Check) for the legitimacy of the charity’s name; scammers often use names or web addresses similiar to other popular charities.
4. Never give out your credit card info, Social Security number, etc to someone soliciting money from you.
5. Never make a donation using cash. Always use a credit card or check instead. This will allow you to have a receipt of the donation in case of security problems or to file for tax purposes.
As much as we want to help the less fortunate or victims of natural disasters, we have to take precautions. Everyone is out to make a buck. The best way to make sure your money is going to the right place is to conduct a background check first. This will prevent a lot of heartache in the end.
According to the 2013 Nielsen Ratings report on the Asian-American consumer, data collected suggests that their economical impact is becoming more evident. To come to this conclusion, Nielsen took an in-depth look at how much Asians spend, what they spend it on, how much is their annual household income, their spending patterns, and lifestyle trends.
Here’s some top-level highlights from the report:
- Asian American buying power continues to increase and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2017.
- Asian Americans spend 33 percent of their dollars on deals, compared to 27 percent of non-Asians. About 78 percent of Asian Americans say they like to shop around before making a purchase, and two-thirds say they are willing to pay more for quality.
- Eighty-six percent of Asian American households have some sort of savings account, compared to 76 percent of the general U.S. population. In addition, nearly one-third of Asian Americans surveyed keep money in certificate of deposits, a rate 86 percent higher compared to 17 percent of the general U.S. population.
- Ads featuring culturally relevant situations and characters make up 65 percent of top ads among Asian Americans.
- While Asians Americans are known to be tech savvy, many still use traditional media outlets such as TV, radio and print to get culturally-relevant entertainment and information.
“Nielsen’s information shows that Asian Americans are a unique, multifaceted group of consumers with different purchasing behaviors and viewing patterns from the general population,” said Betty Lo, vice president of public affairs, Nielsen. “Building on their heritage, academic achievement, adaptability and rising spending clout, Asian American consumers are a powerful economic and influential force.”
What this is means is that over time, we will begin to see more advertisements featuring Asian-Americans. Brands typically begin to construct their marketing campaigns around the who their consumers are. In this case, we will see this happen with Asians in the forefront.
Will the Black or Latino dollar become extinct? This is an area we need to pay close attention to. Because if the urban community aren’t spending as much, then that means that salaries are lessening and our economic power is diminishing.
This is definitely something to think about…
It’s that time of year, where families (or individuals) escape the work week in order to spend time with their loved ones. Most times, spending time means that they will have to travel some distance. When traveling domestically or internationally, however, the costs to purchase an airline ticket or rent a car can become overwhelming to your wallet. So, what should you do if you need to make a quick trip someplace? Here are some simple tips to help avoid going over budget.
1. Check and purchase airline tickets from discount websites – Try to avoid booking tickets directly from carrier sites. Delta, AirTran, United, and others will charge you absurd amounts when booking fares from them. The best thing to do is check sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, CheapAir for the most inexpensive flight. Sometimes, less costs may mean that you will have to lay over somewhere. But, as long as you can spare a hour or two, making one-stop shouldn’t be a big problem. Another great site to check is AirFareWatchDog.com. If you sign up for their email list, they will send you daily or weekly emails listing the best rates among all airlines. Once you get the email, you can click on a price and go straight to the corresponding website to make your purchase.
But note…most discounted flights will have travel date limitations. So, be sure to make sure that the special offer concurs with when you are planning to travel.
2. Lower costs by avoiding the simple pleasures (i.e. WiFi) – Nowadays, airlines are trying to stay one step ahead of the competition by offering a more enjoyable flight experience. They do this by offering WiFi, seating with extra leg room, select meals, alcohol, etc. Even though these nice additions may make your flight more comfortable, the extra fees attached to them may disappoint you. Avoid putting a dent in your pockets by buying a standard/economy seat. Unless, you are 6 feet tall, your legs will survive a short flight (stand up and stretch during the flight). Also, use your flight time to catch up on some reading. Bring a book instead of purchasing WiFi. If your flight will only take two hours, your friends on social media will not fret about you being away for that long.
For meals, save money by packing some snacks at home or stopping by your favorite fast food spot. If there are food restrictions when boarding your plane, just hide your goodies in a purse or carry-on bag.
3. Pack lightly – A major headache for most travelers are the extra baggage fees. Delta, for instance, charges $25 for a second carry-on. Also, if your luggage is over the 50lb limit, you’ll incur more fees. So, save up some extra spending money by packing lightly. Only carry with you the bare necessities. Weekend trips should only account for one bag. If so, one carry-on bag will be at no cost to you.
4. Take advantage of corporate/government discounts on rental cars – A lot of us forget that our company or state agency have discounted rates at selected rental companies. Check with your job first to see if they offer such a thing. A corporate discount may only be 10-15% of the rental cost. But at least that will knock down the final rental rate. Also, corporations or AARP rates come with special privileges like renting without confirming payment or preferred status which allow you to reserve a car during busy holidays.
Thanksgiving will be here in a few days so it may seem last minute. And with last minute reservations come high costs. But don’t worry, there will be people who will cancel their reservations. If so, this will free up seats on flights and cars in the lot. Airlines and some rental companies offer “last minute” deals anyway. You may just luck up and cop a deal for little or nothing.
Since the new $100 bill entered circulation in October, many people have flexed their big faces via photos posted on Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks. It’s almost as if they’d never seen money their whole life. SMH…but we can bet half of the people showing off stacks couldn’t even tell you how the new bill came about. Nor could you tell you how the hundred dollar bill originated. Luckily, STACKS Magazine is here to help educate our readers about several interesting facts surrounding the bills.
Did You Know?
- Benjamin Franklin’s face on the bill is not the same portrait used when the original $100 bill was created in 1929. In fact, Franklin’s 2013 picture was added to the circulation in 1996.
- A new $100 bill was unveiled in April 2010, but never hit circulation because of a manufacturing flaw.
- On the “obverse” (or front) side of the new $100 bill features “Liberty Bells” that alternate when the bill is tilted.
- The $100 bill is the most popular bank note in the world.
- The average life span of a $100 bill is 8 years, then it is replaced due to wear and tear.
Additional Fun Fact: Large denominations ($500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000) were removed from circulation in July 1969. The reason for the U.S. decision to remove the larger bank notes is due to society’s preference of making cash transactions electronically. Electronic transactions has almost made the use of paper bills almost obsolete.