Category Archives: Financial

How Financially Literate are you?

April 1st marks the beginning of Financial Literacy Month in the United States. Many countries around the world have months dedicated to increasing financial literacy. Tell us in the comments of on social media when this month is in your part of that world.

Why the big push for financial literacy (whatever that means; don’t worry we’ll explain it on the next paragraph)? Well because billions of people around the world, YES Billions with a B, are not financially literate and it’s a contributing factor to poverty and economic inequities. Many countries claim to want to fix this and have gotten behind these once a year movements to do something. And no the self-proclaimed best country in the world is not doing better than everyone else when it comes to having financially literate citizens…

The reality is that many people who live in the US are not financially literate or put another way they don’t fully understand the language of money. That lack of understanding is what leads to having a financial mess on your hands. Let’s be clear though – IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT!

Nowhere in the education system in this country is financial literacy CONSISTENTLY taught. That one glaring absence leads to almost half of the population not knowing things that are key to keeping your bank accounts and overall finances in the black.

https://howmoneyworks.com/marieedwards/challenge

Think we’re kidding? Take the quiz on the website above and then post your score in the comments below if you’re brave. Are you financially literate?

If you get a score that you feel is too low to post, here’s how you change it. Register for this free course happening TONIGHT at 8 PM EST and increase your financial literacy in record time!

3 Ways to Teach Your Children how to Save $

A study discovered that most children have established their money habits by age 7.¹

Before they might know what a 401(k) or mortgage even are, their financial future is already starting to take shape. It’s never too early to teach your kids the wisdom of budgeting, limiting their spending, and paying themselves first. So the sooner you can instill those lessons, the deeper they’ll sink in!

Fortunately, teaching your kids about saving is quite simple. Here are two common-sense strategies that can help you instill financial wisdom in your children from the moment they can tell a dollar from a dime!

Give your child an allowance
The easiest way for your child to learn how money works is actually for them to have money. If it’s within your budget, set up a system for your child to earn an allowance. The more closely it relates to their work, the better. Set up a list of family chores that are mandatory, and then come up with some jobs and projects around the house that pay different amounts.

What does this have to do with saving? The simple fact is that spending money you receive as a gift can feel totally different than spending money that you earn. Teaching your children the connection between work and money instills a sense of the value of their time and that spending isn’t something to be taken lightly!

Teach your child how to budget
Budgeting is one of the most essential life skills your child will ever learn. And there’s no better time for them to start learning the difference between saving and spending than now! The same study that revealed children solidify their spending habits at age 7 also suggested they can grasp basic financial concepts by age 3!

So when your kid earns that first 5 dollar bill for working in the yard, help them figure out what to do with it! Encourage them to set aside a portion of what they earn in a place where it will grow via compound interest. Explain that the longer their money compounds, the more potential it has to grow! If they’re natural spenders, help them determine how long it will take them to save up enough to buy the new toy or game they want and that it’s worth the wait.

Start saving for yourself
Remember this–the most important lessons you teach your children are unconscious. Your kids are smart. They watch everything you do. Relentlessly enforce spending limits on your kids but splurge on a vacation or new car? They’ll notice. That’s why one of the most critical means of teaching your kids how to save is to establish a savings strategy yourself. When you make and review your monthly budget, invite the kids to join! When they ask why you haven’t gone on vacation abroad for a while, calmly inform them that it’s not in the family budget right now. Model wise financial decision making, and your children will be far more receptive to learning how money works for themselves!

The time to start teaching your kids how to save is today. Whether they’re 2, 8, or 18, offer them opportunities to work so they can earn some money and give them the knowledge and resources they need to use it wisely. And the sooner your kids discover concepts like the power of compound interest and the time value of money, the more potential they have to transform what they earn into a foundation for future wealth.

1- “The 5 Most Important Money Lessons To Teach Your Kids,” Laura Shin, Forbes, Oct 15, 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/10/15/the-5-most-important-money-lessons-to-teach-your-kids/?sh=2c01a4956826

Passive Income: How It Works

What if there were a way to increase your cash flow without starting a second job, changing careers, or getting a raise?

If you’re like many, that sounds exactly like what you and your family need! Who wouldn’t want some extra money coming in? It might seem like pie in the sky, but it’s not a fantasy.

Earning a passive income is more achievable than you might realize. Read on to discover how passive incomes work, what makes them so advantageous, and common ways to create them.

In general, a passive income is cash flow that requires little to no regular effort to create and maintain.

That’s not to say that they don’t require work. But the labor involved in opening a passive income stream is normally upfront—you spend time and/or money in the beginning to set up the income stream, then sit back and reap the rewards as time goes on.

It’s an advantageous model because it can potentially free up your time—which is the most valuable resource you have.

But be warned—not all opportunities to create passive income are created equal. Here are a few proven strategies for you to consider!

Create digital products. EBooks, online courses, stock photos, and stock music are all passive income generators. They require initial time investments to create and publish, but then earn you money as users buy them over time.

Rent out property. Renting is a classic source of passive income. It requires money upfront to buy the property—and maybe time and more money for renovations. But once rent starts coming in, they’re income sources that don’t require your daily attention. (Note: Becoming a landlord may have other costs involved, like repairs or replacing old equipment or appliances.)

Build a team of sales professionals. This is the hidden gem of passive income. There’s a starting commitment of time to learn about your market and how to close sales. Then you’ll need to create a team of salespeople. Every time they make a sale, you earn a portion of the profit. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the sky’s the limit for how much passive income you can potentially earn!

If having a passive income stirs your interest, let us know. Register for our FREE class this Saturday, February 13th at 2:30 PM EST to get ideas for your passive income opportunity and what things need to be part of your plan. Afterwards if you’re interested you can get a FREE review of your financial position, skills, and the opportunities available and see which one might work best for you!

Really we’re offering both of these items for free, no catch. Of course we’d love it if you find out that our first course offering is a great fit for you, but even if it isn’t you’ll still be eligible to get the free review. So go ahead and register and tell a friend or three!

Tax Season Cometh – Pt 2

You read Pt 1 and came back for Pt 2. We salute you. So now without further ado the tax tips you’re looking for…

Photo by Austin on Pexels.com
  1. Start saving for a down payment on a house.
    Maybe you’ve already paid down your debt with past refunds, have an emergency fund and are a regular retirement saver. Is it your dream to own a home? Then apply your refund to that savings bucket. If you’re ready to pull the trigger on your purchase or bought in 2020 with the historically low interest rates we’re seeing right now, don’t forget that your points can be deductible as can home mortgage interest and real estate taxes.
  2. Maximize HSA contribution to decrease taxable income.
    Similar to the dependent care FSA mentioned in Part 1, health savings account contributions decrease the amount of taxes you pay in the year you make contributions. The trick is that HSAs aren’t available to everyone as they are meant for people with high deductible health insurance plans. However if you do have access to one, not only can you stash money pre-tax to cover your medical expenses like eyeglasses, prescriptions and doctor visits, but the account can earn interest and rolls over from year to year and from employer to employer.
    If you don’t qualify for an HSA perhaps your employer provides access to a Medical FSA. You can elect how much to contribute from your pre-tax income and use the funds on medical expenses. Here’s where this account gets tricky. The funds are a use-it or lose-it deal so you need to be really good at estimating how much you’re going to spend in a calendar year or risk losing some cash. This didn’t used to be a big deal years ago because you could use up whatever was left at the end of the year buying OTC products, think 🩹💊 . Thanks to coronavirus (bet you thought you’d never see those words used in a non-sarcastic manner 🙂) you can do this again. However, stay alert to hear if the government switches this feature back off again. Honestly we hope they never do, but if it does happen just know that it’ll mean getting a prescription for things like Tylenol just to use your money.
  3. Take advantage of catch up retirement contributions if you’re 50+.
    Didn’t start saving for retirement with that first job? While you might be behind in your savings you don’t have to stay that way. The limits on contributions are actually $1000 higher if you’re 50 or older. So find a way to minimize other expenses so you can max out your contributions.
  1. Defer retirement to help grow savings.
    This one might not seem like a great tip if you’re nearing retirement age. Unless you’re facing the reality from the comic above that you didn’t save enough and will either need to significantly downsize your life to try to stretch your limited savings or continue working. If you continue working, you can still contribute to an IRA and as the previous tip stated, contribute more.
  1. Take all RMDs to avoid 50% penalty.
    First of all RMD stands for Required Minimum Distribution. The IRS wants to collect taxes on all of that money you saved for retirement throughout the years without paying them a piece. So once you hit 70.5 years old, they force you to start taking money out whether you need it or not. The catch? If you don’t withdraw all that they tell you to take out they hit you with a 50% penalty. So to avoid losing money to useless penalties, just go ahead and take out the full RMD.
  2. Make estimated payments to avoid underpayment penalties.
    Did you take our advice from our Divorce Your Job series or our posts on starting your own side hustle? Well watch out for an increased tax liability since you’re now considered self-employed. Make estimated tax payments throughout the year to avoid wasting money on penalties.
Benita Epstein for Six Chix
  1. Document your business expenses to lower tax liability including up to 100% of health insurance costs.
    And we don’t mean document like in the comic above. Need tips on how to keep track of all of your business expenses? While Quicken is a software we’ve used in the past and Quickbooks is always a great go-to, maybe you’re not ready to learn a new program.
    Join us on February 13th at 2:30 PM EST for our free Entrepreneurship class and ask about other tracking options.
  2. Subcontract and deduct non-core administrative expenses.
    Getting bogged down with administrative tasks instead of focusing on the key activities of your business? Hire somebody else to do it for you and deduct the cost from your taxes. Looking for a virtual assistant to handle calendar management, social media and other admin tasks for you? Allow us to provide those business services for you by the hour. You don’t have to file any tax paperwork until you reach $600 paid for services. The form that you’d end up filing is the 1099-NEC.

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Talk back to us in the comments.

Tax Season Cometh – Pt 1

Was this you last year? Granted you had until July in 2020 because…well you already know. But did you still procrastinate?

Regardless of when you actually file your return, we’ve long recommend preparing for tax season throughout the year to try and relieve some of the stress (see our post from over six years ago below 🔽).

Prep for Tax Time All Year Long

April 12, 2014
In “Financial”

Here are some other tips to get you prepped for the dreaded tax season and to keep more money in your pocket. We’ve tried to arrange them in order for those Gen Zers filing for what may be the first time this year on up through the older, wiser generations.

  1. Reduce taxable income by saving for retirement through an employer-sponsored plan.
    As soon as you’re eligible (it varies from job to job), start making contributions to your retirement plan through your employer. YES, we mean you Gen Z kid that just started your first job out of high school or college. Even though retirement seems a lifetime away, it’s not only cheaper to start doing it now (you can get away with stashing $100/month) but you also end up having less federal income tax taken out of your check because you’re saving for retirement. Oh and there’s another benefit…
  2. Get paid to save for retirement with the Saver’s Credit based on contributions up to $2000.
    Yes, you read that right! The IRS will actually credit you up to $1000 ($2000 if married filing jointly) if you’re saving for retirement.
    Here’s how it works: be 18 or older, not a dependent and not a student. Save up to $2000 for retirement through your employer or your IRA (that’s an Individual Retirement Account). After some adjustments to your income on the first couple of lines on your tax return you get your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) which is what your actual tax bill is based on and determines how much credit you can get for saving. The max credit is 50% of what you saved, hence potentially up to $1000 if you saved $2000. You won’t see $1000 in the form of a refund but it will be subtracted from whatever your tax bill is based on your AGI.
  3. Take advantage of education credits.
    Did you go back to school and eliminate yourself from being able to qualify for the Saver’s Credit we just mentioned? Don’t worry because there are education credits up to $2000 that you may be eligible for, namely, the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. The qualifications are different for each credit but regardless make sure to keep track of your expenses like tuition, enrollment fees, course-related books, supplies and equipment as both are based on how much you spent on these items.
  1. Claim tax benefits for qualifying relatives.
    Most people are aware that you can claim children on your taxes. But did you know that if you became the primary provider for a parent or grandchild with all of the turmoil of last year, you may qualify for additional tax benefits. It’s worth checking with your tax professional so start adding up those expenses now.
  2. Optimize your withholdings to meet your financial needs.
    Feel like too much was taken out of your check throughout the year? Or maybe you had taxes due last year and you’d like to try to avoid that going forward? In either scenario you might want to take a look at your withholdings. The IRS not only provides a tool to estimate your withholdings, but it also walks you through the steps to change them with your employer.
  3. Reduce out of pocket childcare costs if your employer offers dependent care benefits.
    If you have a tax deduction, oh um a child, and your employer offers you dependent care benefits, make sure you’re using them. This allows you to pay for daycare and extended day with pre-tax dollars. Back in the day when Ms. ME used a dependent care FSA (flexible spending account) for extended day the cost ranged from $50 to $150 a month depending on whether you needed care in the AM, PM or both. So if she needed both, the bill for the year was $1500 with about $58 being taken out of each paycheck before taxes. The pesky part was getting reimbursed from the dependent care account, but your employer could have a better system set up.
  4. Plan ahead for college expenses by saving with a 529 plan.
    Have those tax dedu- children and concerned about paying for them to go to college? Start saving now. This isn’t a tax deduction for your current return but the earnings made in the plan are exempt from income tax as long as those little buggers go to college and the money is used for those expenses. In some cases you can even use up to $10,000 a year without being taxed to send them to a private K-12 school. The plans vary from state to state so it’s best to check and see what’s available where you live.
  5. Put your tax refund to work by paying off high interest debt, creating an emergency fund, or saving for retirement.
    We see it year after year, a surge in used car sales and electronics purchases. But thankfully in an early 2020 survey, most U.S. adults were planning to save their tax refund. The trick is to not save it in a low interest rate savings account like Clark below is doing.
    Schedule your free consultation to learn what higher interest rate options might be best for you.
Clark is stuck on the Sucker Cycle…Don’t be like Clark. Change your financial literacy & change your life.

The second highest response to what people planned to do with their tax refund was pay down debt. This is always a great choice and it seems to be one that a lot of people did last year. The third highest response was covering everyday expenses. Our advice here would be to make sure that those expenses are as low as they possibly can be. Make sure you’re not paying for unused subscriptions or overpaying for auto and home insurance.

We’ve got eight more tax tips coming up in part 2, so check back later today to read them! And as always tell us what you think in the comments or on social media…