How much is the “right” amount to spend on BUYING or MAINTAINING a car?? A loaded question. For insight on the answer, know that experts in financial planning cite the “Big 2” expenses of life that must be addressed: Shelter and Transportation. These are the “Big 2” no matter a person’s economic situation. (Note that the experts also say that when analyzing monthly spending, to start with these “Big 2” items, then pay yourself savings monthly, then figure out the rest with Food another “big” and obvious item.)
Regarding personal transportation, consider the ever-changing world of cars. Cars remain a sizable chunk of our lives in terms of expense, enjoyment …and frustration! It occurred to me to talk a bit about this major expense item when a certain car’s (whose owner will remain nameless) odometer passed the 163,000 mile mark this past weekend. Continue reading “Cars: Costs & Decisions”
PayPal and Venmo: Non-Traditional banking says time and fees
No doubt you have heard of PayPal – and if you have not then read on for a brief introduction. Then there is Venmo, owned by PayPal, which gives you the ability to make payments even more easily in the digital world. Think: potentially saving time and money in a secure way.
This is NOT an article about Bitcoin, the non-cash virtual currency which, in the graphic above, would be on one far end of the spectrum (above, far right) …with coin and paper “cash money” on the other end (above, far left). Continue reading “Somewhere Between Bitcoin and Cash”
With what started out as a “simplified” tax law, with data already telling us that approximately 85-90% of American taxpayers paid LESS income taxes under the new tax law…. the reality is that the 10-15% of taxpayers who paid MORE federal income taxes under the new law are a somewhat unhappy – justifiably – group of Americans (as well as being you, my friends and clients).
Cash flow. Wouldn’t you like to have more of it around tax time? Well then, it may be time to delay or reconsider that new cell phone purchase.
Recently this “sticker shock” issue came to the forefront for me when I forked over $1,100 for my new Samsung Galaxy Note cell phone. OK, you may say, “Why didn’t you go with the zero-interest payment plan?” or, “Where have you been, Kerrie?” To which I would respond,
I did not go with the payment plan despite it being zero interest because I am all about having as much free cash flow as possible (therefore minimizing annoying monthly payments) and as little debt (except a mortgage) as possible.
I realize that back in 2017 the $969 iPhone 7 Plus came into being. So, I delayed purchasing a new phone and eeked out as much as I could with the old phone until it essentially ran out of memory and could no longer function as needed.
With it nearing the “home stretch” of tax time – probably most people’s least favorite time of the year – I figured I would pass along a couple of things that have helped take the edge off and keep me smiling. The caveat: everyone’s sense of humor differs, so what makes me laugh may or may not make you laugh.
The Movies. A cool way to “get away from it all” can be either to go to the movies or rent a movie at home – or binge-watch TV which has become more and more popular. Under the topic of movies, a well-done documentary can be especially funny or entertaining.
“FREE SOLO” – Recently this film deservedly won the Oscar for Best Documentary. The story of rock-climbing the world’s tallest and most dangerous rock walls – without ropes. Totally fascinating, breathtaking… and painful all at the same time.
Does it seem to you that with the stock market rebound since late December that you feel “good” or “better” today than you felt in early January?
If you DO feel good, that “good” feeling today may not be as strong as the “pain” you felt in January following December’s big decline.
If you do NOT feel “good” or “better” today, is it attributable to the markets? (Unlikely) A job or the economy? Family? The political environment?
The reason I ask is that good and bad feelings – especially related to the stock markets – come and go. However, extensive research* says that “bad” or “painful” times are felt more strongly than “good” times. Maybe good is boring but I would rather have good than bad.Continue reading “Is Good Boring?”
“10th Anniversary of what?” you may ask. Well, it appears you are not the only one in a state of ignorant bliss – no offense intended! I thought it may have been a bigger deal in the news, but very little has been written or reported about this 10-year milestone.
Newsflash: Things are (mostly) GOOD in the economy, businesses and peoples’ financial lives in the US these days. Don’t take my word for it. Just this week The Wall Street Journal ran an article leading with: “The job market doesn’t get much better than this.”* The title of the article was, “Inside the Hottest Job Market in Half a Century.” Wages on average in the US are rising modestly after “long-term stagnation” (their words not mine), and unemployment is the lowest in 50 years – with women experiencing some of the greatest gains in workforce participation.
BUT – it was 10 years ago this weekend on March 9, 2009 that the US stock market hit its low, with the S&P 500 index ominously touching 666, only to settle around 2750 this week. Ten years ago, the US (and global) economy was in “The Great Recession” and it was ugly. But then, yes, the S&P 500 took its time and has risen in value over four (4) times in roughly 10 years. There have been a few bumps – amidst higher interest rates – but stocks in the US and globally are materially higher which has created and grown wealth along the way. Continue reading “Happy 10th Anniversary?”
Even if you listen only to the first 60 seconds you will get the message. Therein is about 10 seconds of a crazed voice you may have heard on TV of a host shouting stock picks –but then you will be rewarded in the final 30 seconds when you may want to play the video over and over for a bit of “peace.” Turn up the volume, follow the bouncing dot and read along.
Talking taxes on a Friday is a lot easier than talking taxes on a Monday (thank you for reading in Winter Haven, FL)! And believe it or not, at this time of year it is good to be talking taxes no matter what. Preparation and planning are the name of the game. *
Here’s some “good” news when it comes to taxes and tax strategies: the Roth IRA, Roth IRA conversion and Roth 401k are alive and well. The “good” part is that for nearly ALL of you reading this, you ARE eligible for both the Roth IRA conversion and the Roth 401k (if your company offers a Roth 401k) even if you are in the higher/highest income brackets or own a business! And these strategies can be employed NOW for 2019.Continue reading “A Tax Strategy You May Not Know”