A quick review of the focus of the blog and the Miles Weekly Personal Finance Podcast, a vehicle by which to inform, educate, entertain, and cover the basics of personal finance, small business, investing, savings. The primary objective if there is one at all, to close the gap of “information asymmetry” and raise the minimum threshold of financial literacy to anyone that subscribes to the podcast or keeps up with the blog. In communications lingo The “A” End is the originating end or point of origination, for us that would be Episode #1 and Blog Post #1. Conversely the “Z” end is the terminating end, whereas the communications sent have been received. But don’t be fooled, the end also becomes the beginning and Z becomes A to start the cycle all over again. This is “Episode Number “Z”, we have reached the terminating end of these communications …successfully I might add. end.
After the much advertised delay in sending out refunds, it’s finally time. In this week’s episode, the focus returns to that once a year so-called pay day that everyone gets all worked up about. “The Tax Refund” Like a windfall, a breathe of fresh financial air. Sometimes it’s spent in our minds 19 times before we even get it, just the idea of getting it. The tax refund is maybe one or two steps away from becoming a holiday, just so folks could have even more time to go spend some of that tax refund money. The car dealers, creditors, retailers and anyone else that typically have slow January sales are all anxiously waiting as they know people are getting the refund checks. Maybe there should at least be some slick moniker like “SupeR Black Friday” or maybe “GAAP Friday”. Either way, there’s a lot of opportunity at this time of year for both making good moves or setting the stage for trouble during the rest of the tax year.
In this episode, a review of Porter’s 5 Forces and how they shape small business. Which forces may be working in your favor and which forces are working against you and your small business like the force of a hurricane. In this overview a look at each of the five forces and how they may apply in most any small business. At any given time or another one of these may be driving business to or away from you, in either case, it’s good stuff to know and good business sense to employ. It’s hard work
Ep52 Eric B is President, and it obviously doesn’t matter.
In 1986 the song titled “Eric B. is President” was a #1 hit song in the Hip Hop community. At the time it was a strange title, but the title sank in and it didn’t even matter. The Hip Hop community went on to take over the music world and Rakim became one of the most well known and prolific rappers in Hip Hop history -still to this day. He debuted by nominating his DJ for president, that’s 1986, talk about making America great again.
The 2016 election is over and a new president will be sitting in the White House soon. There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding what is to become of the new presidency? So the question remains, how will affect your daily finances, your money, your ability to save and invest because that’s all that really matters. In episode 52, what may or may not be of concern with a new presidency.
What’s up with voting? What’s up with this current Presidential election? Usually the largest number of people turn out to vote in the general election, people seem to take it personal. That’s a good thing, not so good is that once they’ve made their choice for president, they go back home and go to bed for more four years. People miss out on all of the voting in between the four years, the voting for everything from local mayor, prosecutor, sheriff, the board of education to the city council and consequently all of the people that the foregoing hire or appoint while they are in office. Essentially, a mini administration.
Guess what that means? Ultimately, the local vote can be more meaningful to the quality of your everyday life in a far greater way than the once every four years presidential election. But make no mistake about it, the BIG election does get all the attention. Lest we forget, beyond the annual and biannual elections, use everything you do as an opportunity to vote. Every Year is Election Year.
What does “Chicken and Waffles” have to do with sales tax? Everything. Regardless of the type of business you have or how good your product may be, in this case chicken and waffles, you had better pay your sales and use taxes. While small business income tax might require an accountant or tax professional, sales and use is pretty straightforward. Whatever the state sales tax is that your charging, tally it up monthly or quarterly and send it to the state to keep the wolves at bay (trust me, they are wolves). This is not a bill that you let get out of control. Although you may be short on funds, or maybe even spent it, which of course you shouldn’t, but if you did spend it there’s still some action to take on your part. Even if your business has really, really good chicken and waffles.
Some last minute tax ideas, local help and information.
(Apologize for the audio, street side interview with some serious wind noise)
Just happen to come across a New York State Tax assistance trailer that is set up on the Grand Concourse in The Bronx, NYC. State reps were out and a local financial services business, ARIVA was onsite to assist also, they were offering to assist anyone interested in getting their taxes done by the deadline for FREE! Of course there were details, but free is FREE…
I stopped to talk with them about what the free promotion. Although the state employees were a bit shy, they were very nice. In connjuction with NYS was a local business, Ariva Tax and Ceasar from Ariva was approachable and glad to take a quick minute where he explained some of the services offered to the local community by Ariva Tax.
For most people filing your taxes is all about the money, so why would it make sense to give more of it away. Filing your income taxes just isn’t the mystery it used to be. If you’re like most people, you probably work a job, have taxes taken out and look to file your income taxes with the possibility of a refund. That “Refund”, as it turns out is super juicy. So juicy that entire businesses, franchises and small companies have been built around said “Refund”. Between the tax credits like Earned Income Tax, tax over payment from your check every pay period and under reporting of dependents, that “Refund” stacks up to a few thousand dollars very quickly.
Instead of waiting at the tax office until the late night hours to file with some local retail tax branch, letting them charge you anywhere from $100. up to $500. or even more you can save by handling this yourself. If it’s all about the money, then be just that, “all about the money”. Every year retail tax preparers come up with enticing schemes to get people in so they can get a piece of that “Refund”. This year’s promise is dome money upfront, referral commissions and of course they offer quick turn around times… fast, fast, fast!
Filing taxes yourself have benefits that last starting with you understanding your finances and taking some control of handling them too.
Are you a business owner or did you buy yourself a new job?
All too often we want to pick up and take our skills to market for ourselves to start a new business and make all of the money for ourselves. We decide that we can do it, we can just do it all and leave our jobs to do just that. Take the skill-set you have (doesn’t matter whether you’re a cook or an accountant it’s the same approach), add a little money and “BAM…” you’re in business for yourself. No more reporting to that boss who isn’t half as smart as you are. No more doing the work for everyone else to get the credit and the money. Considering you are at the heart of the business, the heart of the productivity, basically you are the business right? Well, not so fast… Before you go that leap into business first consider if you are taking a leap to go start and run a business or just to buy yourself a job, in which case you are simply “self employed” in the truest sense of the term. Meaning you’ve secured yourself employment, about that business part …well being a business owner is actually something else entirely. There are a few simple questions to ask yourself to get some clarity on it all too. First question: Can the business run without you being there to produce or overseeing the production? Right there, that should help put it in perspective for you. Today’s podcast talks about identifying the differences and transitioning into self employment, owning or running a business.
Making more of the money you have is the best way to give yourself a pay raise without asking for it from someone else. While there are many ways to do this, some are right in plain sight. Spending less and getting more is the obvious choice for savings and when you can quantify that in actual cash, it’s even better. Let’s consider the reducing our taxable income by signing up for the FSA tax advantage, Flex Spending Accounts and Health Care Spending Accounts. Now is the time to consider it because during this time of year most employers are having employees sign up for next year’s benefits, known as “open enrollment”. During this period you can select via FSA elections to have up to $2500.00 set aside from your pay for specific Healthcare and up to $5000.00 for dependent care related expenses. This set aside is before tax thus reducing your taxable income by the amount you choose, up to the limit.
Although either limit may be a lot to consider setting aside for the year, you can choose any amount up to the limit and typically it is taken out in equal amounts per paycheck through the year. The amount deducted may fluctuate as you make claims for reimbursements and so on. So, can you afford to pay unnecessary taxes? That’s the real question. You can boost your income by up to $2250.00 in savings on taxes should you go to the max on both. That would be a pay raise with no more responsibility other than being more diligent with your money.
In this podcast I discuss some of the benefits and details, however, some FSA providers lay it out in very plain terms. Check out Aetna FSA breakdown and explanation for a breakdown, and check out both the dependent care link as well as healthcare link. Although you may have another provider, the tax benefit works the same regardless of the provider or employer facilitating it. To get a good idea of the costs and expenses covered for healthcare and OTC, (over the counter) items check out https://fsastore.com/ they offer details on all eligible items that you can buy with tax free monies, you may find some surprises here. Here’s the link to the official tax document detailing the rules and guidelines Tax rules and details Why pay the tax on the income and then the tax on the goods too! It’s all about the incremental things we do to make and manage our wealth. This is a great tax benefit that I have used for years in a lot of creative ways, all legal of course!