Financial

Do You Want a Free Credit Report?

Anytime you hear the word “Free” there is usually a catch and the free item isn’t really free. Surprisingly, you can receive a free credit report by doing this:

Type annualcreditreport.com into your browser, click on “Request your free credit reports,” and start the process. It will take you less than 10 minutes and it is completely free. Federal law requires each of the three consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Technically, you can receive 3 each year if you obtain one from a different credit reporting company every 4 months.

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Don’t Do This

There is one financial transaction that I strongly discourage clients from doing and here’s why . . .

Do not withdraw from your retirement accounts early! Here are the reasons why I hear most people want to withdraw from their retirement accounts:

  1. Purchase a house
  2. Pay for expenses while unemployed
  3. As a temporary loan, with the intentions of replacing the money
  4. To pay for unforeseen expenses
  5. You need the money for (fill in the blanks)

The main reason to not do this is because it is one of the major reasons for tax problems. Aside from early withdrawal penalties, additional income taxes are accessed  on the balance, withholdings are not usually taken or not enough, and you may end up increasing your income, which sometimes pushes you into an even higher tax bracket. Once you add up all of the penalties and taxes, then the amount withdrawn can disappear by half for some.

What are some other options as you are most likely withdrawing your retirement funds because you desperately need the money and do not have a cash cushion? If you are employed, you may be able to obtain a retirement plan loan from your employer, which is not a taxable event. Alternatively, you might be able to borrow the money from your home’s equity. In some cases, you may be able to delay what you need the money for if not needed for emergency purposes.

Over the long-term, this is why I stress slowly building up a cash emergency fund. Yes, it’s boring and unexciting, but you will be glad you did when the time comes.

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I Was Scammed

Even the smart professional gets scammed every now and then. I’m supposed to be impervious to anything related to parting with money foolishly. How humbling . . .

Fortunately, I didn’t fall for a huge scam, but I fell for it nonetheless. How did this happen? The scam penetrated my ultimate weakness; not thinking clearly when sleep deprived. Here’s the story:

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep right away. By the way, I heard that if this happens it’s best to just get out of bed for a little while instead of lying there sleepless or using your phone. Eventually, I picked up my phone, and started to watch YouTube videos. In the middle of a video appeared an infomercial about a special fan that cools air quickly with the use of water and some sort of advanced technology. It was probably a warm night because I purchased the fan thinking that it may come in handy, especially if making pizza in a hot oven during the summer. If the fan can cool down a factory that melts steel, then it can certainly cool down my kitchen.

Fast forward a few weeks, and fortunately only $90 later after shipping and handling, arrived this magical air cooling fan. I read the directions, added some water, plugged it in, and laughed at myself for being so stupid. The fan was so weak that you couldn’t even feel it unless you were within a foot or two away from the breeze. Nothing was really cooled except for my pride.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a lot of money, but I did learn two lessons. First, anyone can get scammed under the right circumstances, and two, don’t watch YouTube videos at night, especially when you’re tired.

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Are You Striving Too Hard or Too Little?

There is nothing wrong with striving to have financial success but be careful of taking it too far. The opposite can also be true, whereas you don’t strive enough, which can create another set of problems. Here are some signs of each:

Signs You are Striving too Hard

  1. You work an excessive amount of hours to get ahead at the peril of your own health and relationships
  2. No matter what you accomplish it never seems to be enough
  3. Most of your conversations involve making more money. However, this doesn’t apply to financial professionals.
  4. Your drive is not enjoyable anymore

Signs You are Striving too Little

  1. You are always behind financially due to a lack of effort
  2. When business is down, aside from a worldwide pandemic, you do nothing to turn it around
  3. Your efforts are not producing any real financial success
  4. You take little to no corrective actions to get ahead

The Right Balance

The right balance may be as simple as striving for success, while putting financial success in its proper place. It’s different for everyone and if you are honest with yourself you will know when you are striving in an unhealthy way or not striving enough.

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5 Risks to be Aware of that Will Hurt Your Finances

There are ups and downs in life, good times and bad, and everything in between. Unfortunately, some events can hurt your finances in a significant way and may even be beyond your control. What are some of these risks to be aware of and what can you control?

Health Issues

As we become older, there are more chances of having a serious health issue. What is not commonly thought of is that family members, such as spouses, elderly parents, and children can develop health issues, both physical and mental. We have a responsibility to take care of our family, and the time spent will take time away from our job or business, which will eventually lower our earnings. While you cannot control the health of others, you can take charge of your own health and that of your children by living a healthy lifestyle.

Addictions

Do not think that you are immune to addictions. Aside from alcohol, illegal drugs, and gambling addictions, there are other destructive addictions that will ruin your finances such as prescription drugs, video games, and pornography/sex. The statistics on who has these addictions, how they start, age groups, and the impact on your brain are alarming. Be aware of these addictions and do your best to stop them before they start.

Divorce

Aside from paying legal fees, there are statistics that show that divorced women experience a prolonged loss of earnings and lower standard of living after divorce, even though various studies show that approximately 70% of women initiate divorce. Surprisingly, statistics show that a man’s earnings increase significantly after divorce. Focus on a healthy marriage and your finances will be stronger, plus some studies show that divorce does not lead to a better life.

High Income then Low Income

Inconsistent income patterns can hurt your finances in multiple ways. The first is that if your income is very high in one year, then your spending will probably increase, and once your income drops, your spending will probably not drop as quickly, if at all. Second, if you have a very good year in your business and don’t set aside a reserve for taxes, then you won’t have the money to pay your tax bill, especially if your income is lower in the following year. I have seen this situation happen repeatedly.

Expense Creep

Expenses have a way of increasing faster than your income and are hard to lower once they do. A good rule is to increase your savings in the same proportion as your income, and do not incur additional debt. This way, it does not really matter what you spend, and yes, I really did say that, because mathematically it does not matter. It’s putting first things first.

 

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Hate Your Job, Make Less Money and Be Unhappy?

There is a recurring theme that I keep on hearing about love/hate relationships with jobs. It’s only anecdotal, but are job haters unhappy and make less money than  those with high job satisfaction? What are the possible reasons and what can you do about it?

Difference between a difficult job and hating your job

There are some jobs that are difficult, due to a lot pressure, working for management with poor people skills, and harsh working conditions. I’m not talking about a difficult job, but one that you hate so much that you dread waking up, driving to work, and virtually every second you are working.

Your drive may be less if you dread your job

When the drive to perform your job is diminished, most likely you will not push yourself to do a great job or go above and beyond. Ironically, if you put more effort into a job, even one that you hate, you may increase your satisfaction, while at a minimum bettering your job performance. Your bosses and management will eventually notice.

Dissatisfaction = lower income

When your drive is lower because you hate your job, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas your performance suffers and so does your pay. If you don’t give just a little bit extra of yourself, then others will notice. You may end up being a self-centered taker vs. a generous giver, which does not feel good.

Control your reactions and responses

The ultimate solution is to respond to your job situation versus being reactive to every negative whim you experience. Maybe it is not the job that is the issue, but your reactions to your job situation. Start responding in a healthy way and you will start to see how your work relationships change for the better. Better relationships = greater satisfaction.

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3 Things MBA’s Don’t Learn in School

Obtaining an MBA is quite an accomplishment and is something to be proud of. However, there are 3 eye-opening things they don’t teach MBA’s in school, especially when running a small business.

You’re probably so smart that you’re not

Intelligence and knowledge are extremely useful in life, but it can also be a liability. What I am referring to is that not everyone around you will have an MBA and you must be able to relate to your employees, vendors, and customers. Don’t be so proud that you look for perfection or have expectations that are not practical. If you do, then you will end up constantly firing employees and vendors instead of trying to seek the best from them. Worse yet, you may end up viewing everyone as numbers.

The cash in your business greatly depends upon your personal spending needs

When you work for a large, multi-national company, you can’t just decide to withdraw huge sums of money at will, and even if you did, it may not hurt the cash flow of the business. However, when you run a small business and take too much cash for your personal expenses, then you can easily choke the business, even a very profitable one.

Fancy projections and metric may not matter all that much

MBA’s like to crunch numbers, create graphs, and make presentations. Although financial ratios and projections matter greatly, the truth is that they can change in the blink of an eye in a small business and change drastically. If you can’t run the business properly to support your projections, then the projections are useless.

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Before You Open Up A New Location

It’s not a crazy idea, but now may be the time to open another location. Before you do, here are a few things you should consider:

Do you still have capacity at your existing location?

It’s much, much easier and less expensive to utilize your existing location to increase your sales and profits then to look for a new location. If you still have plenty of capacity in your current location then the time is not right. If you the opposite is true or you are trending to be at full capacity soon, then the time may be right to look for a new location

Relocate or additional location?

A relocation is essentially just a move, however, if you are keeping your existing location then the task becomes more complex. An additional location is almost like running two separate businesses at the same time.

If an additional location then consider management and staffing

Who will manage your new location? If you answered that you will, then expect to burn yourself out in a short period of time. Strongly consider either hiring a manager for the new location or for your existing location, while you manage the new location.

What is your cash flow like?

If your cash flow is already tight, then figure out what the reason is before you magnify the problem. A larger location or additional location will only add to cash flow problems if you haven’t addressed this issue already.

 

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What Changes Will You Make?

Hopefully we don’t see a pandemic like COVID-19 in a long time or never see one again. Aside from practicing safety, there are many business changes that you are probably thinking of making and here are a few examples:

Work from Home More, but not too Much

Now that many of us have been forced to work from home more, you may want to continue the trend. Although, working at the office does have benefits, including less distractions from family members, a better work set-up than working in your bedroom, kitchen, or basement, being around co-workers, and the sense that you are now in work mode.

Work Better Hours

Maybe you were used to putting in 12 hour days and realize that there is more to life then working. After taking a breather, now may be the time to cut back those hours, but be careful that the hours do not creep back up over time.

Expand Your Business

There may be opportunities to expand your business in a low-risk way if your business is currently in a strong position. It can be possible to find a good location with reasonable rents, good employees to fill positions, and marketing may be more effective if your competition decides to sit tight.

Evaluate Your Current Business Model

Instead of bricks and mortar, you can transform your business to be either virtual, online, or delivery based. Many industries have changed and I believe that some of the virtual trends, including telemedicine, will continue to increase.

 

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More PPP Updates!

More PPP Updates:

New Forgiveness Application:

A new application to apply for loan forgiveness became available on June 16th. There is also an EZ Loan Forgiveness Application.

Payroll Costs % Decrease

Only 60% of loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs versus 75% with previously issued rules.

Maturity Date

Loans issues prior to June 5th have a maturity of 2 years, and loans issued after June 5th have a maturity of 5 years. I guess it doesn’t pay to be early sometimes!

Payroll Period

For loans received before June 5th, you can calculate eligible payroll costs using a 24 week period or elect an 8 week period. If you received loan proceeds after June 5th then use the 24 week period.

 

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