My wife and I were “sold” a joint annuity several years ago by an advisor that we’re no longer working with. We currently have a sizeable gain but we’re not very confident in the insurance company that holds the annuity. We’re considering cashing the annuity out. Does that seem like the right thing to do?
In 2010, the American government passed the largest healthcare bill since Medicare. This new law, known as the Affordable Care Act, is set to reshape how Americans handle their health insurance and could open new insurance options for small businesses.
While some parts of this bill are already in action, most of the major sections don’t kick in until 2014. How will this law affect you and your business? Let’s break it down piece by piece.
Set Up Exchanges to Compare Options
In the past, shopping for health insurance wasn’t that convenient. You needed to take time out of your busy day to meet with agents from a bunch of insurance companies. Through each meeting, you had to compare the complex details of different plans and hopefully find one that worked for you and your employees.
The ACA is supposed to develop a better marketplace for health insurance. Under this law, each state needs to set up an exchange that breaks down the details of plans for people to compare. Your employees will each be able to buy their own separate plan so everyone can customize to what they want.
When it comes right down to it, what is the true key to financial success?
You could argue that the key is getting enough marketable skills to be able to earn a decent income.
Or that the key is to consistently track your monthly spending in a budget spreadsheet. Or you could even argue the key is to learn the ins and outs of investing.
But really, while all of these things are very important to your long-term financial health, each of them is based on upon one particular characteristic: the ability to delay gratification.
Above all else, I would argue that it’s the art to delayed gratification that is the true key to financial success.
While many external factors can cause financial hardship, one of the common internal factors that can result in financial difficulty is an inability to appreciate delayed gratification. If you’re buried under debt, struggling to pay your car loan, or even having trouble paying your mortgage, then it’s possible you might benefit from a different perspective on long-term goals.
So what is the art of delayed gratification, and how can you obtain (or enhance) it yourself? Let’s explore this in depth: [click to continue…]
Hey Jeff, First thing I want to say great blog! I’m currently in the workforce and entertaining a new profession as a financial planner. I really enjoy keeping up with the markets and many of my friends and co-workers come to me for advice on their investments. I’ve been doing some research in getting in the business and it seems daunting as many of the big brokerage firms want you to work crazy hours the first couple of years. I’m not ready to give up my day job and was considering giving it a go part-time. What do you think about the likelihood of being a part-time a financial planner?
Derek is not the 1st person to ask me about becoming a part-time financial advisor. Many people that have a love for investing, numbers, and helping people have emailed asking me something similar.
To all of those that are interested in the financial planning profession on part-time basis, this video is for you.
Making sure that I hadn’t missed anything regarding being a part-time financial advisor, I asked some of my colleagues to share their thoughts on the matter. Here’s some comments from a fellow financial advisor whether you can do it part-time: [click to continue…]
An umbrella insurance policy acts sort of like a safety net that picks up loss not covered by existing insurance policies.
While in previous times, it was mostly the very rich who took out umbrella policies, these days many more people see the need for such protection.
One of the reasons that umbrella coverage is more important in modern times is the litigious nature of our society. In comparison to earlier days, people are much more likely to sue someone of average means for a wide variety of reasons.
For example, if someone should suffer an injury while walking up to your front door, you could be liable for damages if you have been negligent in some way. [click to continue…]
For years, I have been an independent contractor. I’ve grown my home business into something that earns a steady income for my family. In fact, I’m the primary breadwinner. Becoming an independent contractor is one of the most profitable small businesses to start this year.
As an independent contractor, I have a degree of freedom in choosing my own schedule, and even determining who my clients are. I’m also part of a segment of the workforce that is growing in demand. Many companies are turning to independent contractors because it can be less expensive. My hourly rate might be higher than the rates commanded by “regular” workers, but I save a company in other ways:
No benefits to pay
No overhead costs
No payroll taxes to pay
A few years ago, CNN Money pointed out that an employee working for $14 an hour actually costs an employer $20 an hour. While most of my clients pay more than $20 for a project, the reality is that they just have to pay me for the project, rather than continue to pay me day in and day out, and pay the other costs associated with maintaining a full-time employee.
How Do You Become Self-Employed?
The independent contractor arrangement can be a win-win in many ways. If you are looking to become an independent contractor, either to replace your “day job,” or just to make a little extra money on the side, here are some steps you need to take: [click to continue…]
If you owe money to the IRS due to back taxes or unfiled tax returns, one of the ways that Uncle Sam can get his due is by garnishing your wages.
However, it doesn’t have to end in this step.
In fact, wage garnishment is something of a “last resort” before you find yourself faced with the possibility of going to jail. If you want to stop IRS wage garnishment, you can plan ahead.
The IRS will send you letters months prior to garnishing your wages, so you can’t say you weren’t warned. And you can even put a stop to IRS wage garnishment before you get to the letter stage if you take the time to address the problem now. [click to continue…]
I had done my fair share of advising clients on the investments inside these plans, but it’s whole new ballgame when you are on the other side deciding what plan is best for you.
I initially choose the SEP IRA for the first several years of running my own business, but then switched to the Solo 401k 2 years ago. Now that I have more than one employee, I’ll be setting up a traditional 401k this year.
Although the plan is designed for the individual business owner (or self employed), it is technically available to the spouse of the owner and any shareholder or partner in the business, as well.
1. A Solo 401(k) is Simple
Setting up a Solo 401k makes a lot of sense for sole proprietors, owners of an S Corporation, C Corporation or partnership. Initially my business was structured as a sole proprietor so setting up a Solo 401k seemed like it made a lot of sense. Unlike traditional 401ks, there are no complicated discrimination tests or Form 5500 filing.
Not sure what a 5500 is? It’s a form that larger 401k plans have to file with IRS to be compliant. A Solo 401k doesn’t have to worry until the plan reaches in excess of $250,000 to have to file a Form 5500. If and when I have to file a form 5500, I won’t complain that much. [click to continue…]
If you decide that a short sale is right for your situation, it’s important to understand that you will need to complete the transaction before the end of the year if you want to avoid running into tax problems that can weigh on your finances.
What is a Short Sale?
A short sale is a real estate transaction in which the mortgage lender agrees to accept less than you owe on the home in the name of selling the house. If you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, but home values have dropped in your neighborhood so that you can only get $180,000 for the home, a lender might be willing to allow you to sell the home “short” of what you owe. Short sales also come into play when you are having problems staying current with your mortgage payments.
A short sale can help you avoid a foreclosure. This means less hassle for the lender in many cases, and the lender might get more with your short sale than with an attempt to sell a real estate owned property.
You are forgiven the difference between what you owe and what the home sells for. In this instance, you are forgiven $20,000.
“Wait… this sounds too good to be true!”
There are a few other things you need to know about the short sale process, especially for this year: [click to continue…]
It hurts to learn a lesson the hard way – especially with financial lessons.
There’s nothing like that sick feeling in your stomach when you realize you’ve screwed up royally and will have to face the consequences.
And yet, we all have those stories about the times we messed up and the lessons we learned, don’t we?
The only silver lining is that we can teach other to avoid certain mistakes that we ourselves have made. Hopefully by sharing our experiences, we ensure that others don’t have to learn the hard way. Below, I’ll examine 4 of the most important lessons that we tend to learn the hard way: [click to continue…]
Whereas Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps have often been dissected one at a time, my goal in this post is to give an overview of the steps as a unit and explain why the order is essential.
Hopefully, these steps can help you create a focused life plan for your finances, regardless of your age or financial well being.
First, the Baby Steps:
Step 1: $1,000 in an emergency fund.
Step 2: Pay off all debt except the house utilizing the debt snowball.
Step 3: Three to six months of savings in a fully funded emergency fund.
Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans.
Step 5: College Funding
Step 6: Pay off your home early.
Step 7: Build wealth and give.
The Power of Focus
Dave’s premise with the Baby Steps is that people can accomplish great things IF they can just be focused. When you read over these seven steps, you think, “Yes. I need to be saving. But I also need to be investing for retirement. I should get my house paid off early. But I also need to be getting out of debt and saving for my kid’s college.”
You would readily agree that all of these goals are important for successful financial planning. The problem is that your stress level kicks into overdrive with the prospect of doing them all. You clench your jaw and do what you are capable of doing while feeling anxious about the goals you place on the back burner. [click to continue…]