Tag Archives: Financial Planning

What Do You Know About Long-Term Care?

long-term-care

LONG-TERM CARE…DID YOU KNOW?

 

> At least 70% of people over 65 will need long term care services and supports at some point in their lives.
(Source: 2016 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
> About 68% of nursing home residents and 72% of assisted living residents are women.
(Source: Long-Term care Services in the United States: 2013 Overview, National Center for Health Statistics)
> The national median daily rate in 2015 for a private room in a nursing home was $250, an increase of 4.17% from 2014.
(Source: Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, March 2015)
> The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days.
(Source: CDC Vital and Health Statistics, Series 13, No. 167, June 2009)
> At a median daily rate of $250, an average nursing home stay of 835 days currently costs over $208,000, making it virtually unaffordable for many Americans.
> Medicare does not pay for long-term care services, as explained by the Social Security Administration:
“About Social Security and Medicare…
Social Security pays retirement, disability, family and survivors benefits. Medicare, a separate program run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, helps pay for inpatient hospital care, nursing care, doctors’ fees, drugs, and other medical services and supplies to people age 65 and older, as well as to people who have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or more. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you may want to consider options for private insurance (emphasis added).”

Please contact my office if you’re interested in discussing possible long-term care funding solutions.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

CHANGE BEGINS WITH CHOICE

by Jim Rohn

Any day we wish; we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish; we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish; we can start a new activity. Any day we wish; we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.

We can also do nothing. We can pretend rather than perform. And if the idea of having to change ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain as we are. We can choose rest over labor, entertainment over education, delusion over truth, and doubt over confidence. The choices are ours to make. But while we curse the effect, we continue to nourish the cause. As Shakespeare uniquely observed, “The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves.” We created our circumstances by our past choices. We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today. Those who are in search of the good life do not need more answers or more time to think things over to reach better conclusions. They need the truth. They need the whole truth. And they need nothing but the truth.

We cannot allow our errors in judgment, repeated every day, to lead us down the wrong path. We must keep coming back to those basics that make the biggest difference in how our life works out. And then we must make the very choices that will bring life, happiness and joy into our daily lives.

And if I may be so bold to offer my last piece of advice for someone seeking and needing to make changes in their life – If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree. You have the ability to totally transform every area in your life – and it all begins with your very own power of choice.

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Experience

“Don’t let the learning from your own experiences take too long. If you have been doing it wrong for the last ten years, I would suggest that’s long enough!”

— Jim Rohn

“For years I have been accused of making snap judgments. Honestly, this is not the case because I am a profound military student and the thoughts I express, perhaps too flippantly, are the result of years of thought and study.”

— George S. Patton

On Mastery

“With more success, comes greater problems along with greater ability to solve them.”

— Mark Victor Hansen

“Challenge everything you do. Expand your thinking. Refocus your efforts. Rededicate yourself to your future.”

— Patricia Fripp

“A professional is a person who can do his best at a time when he doesn’t particularly feel like it.”

— Alistair Cooke

Published by The Virtual Assistant; © 2016 VSA, LP

 

© 2015 BenefitConsultantInc | All Rights Reserved

 

Odds of Living to Retirement Age 65

Benefit-NEWBrighter2

Business Briefs

August 31, 2016

ODDS OF LIVING TO RETIREMENT AT AGE 65

 

Of 1,000 Men…

Of 1,000 Men at Age Number Who Die Before Age 65 Their Odds of Living to Retirement at Age 65
30 161 84%
35 155 84%
40 148 85%
45 138 86%
50 123 88%
55 100 90%
60 62 94%

 

Of 1,000 Women…

Of 1,000 Women at Age Number Who Die Before Age 65 Their Odds of Living to Retirement at Age 65
30 126 87%
35 121 88%
40 116 88%
45 109 89%
50 97 90%
55 78 92%
60 47 95%

Inadequate retirement savings can keep you from realizing your retirement dreams!

Are you making effective use of your business to achieve your retirement planning goals?

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

THREE KEYS TO GREATNESS

by Jim Rohn

Several years ago I went into the studio and recorded a 56-minute video for teenagers called “Three Keys To Greatness.” Although my focus was for teenagers, the principles I shared certainly apply to adults as well.

Recently I was asked to list these three things using one to two sentences for each. Now for your benefit here they are again.

1) Setting Goals. I call it the view of the future. Most people, including kids, will pay the price if they can see the promise of the future. So we need to help our kids see a well-defined future, so they will be motivated to pay the price today to attain the rewards of tomorrow. Goals help them do this.

2) Personal Development. Simply making consistent investments in our self-education and knowledge banks pays major dividends throughout our lives. I suggest having a minimum amount of time set aside for reading books, listening to audio cassettes, attending seminars, keeping a journal and spending time with other successful people. Charlie Tremendous Jones says you will be in five years the sum total of the books you read and the people you are around.

3) Financial Planning. I call it the 70/30 plan. After receiving your paycheck or paying yourself, simply setting aside 10% for saving, 10% for investing and 10% for giving, and over time this will guarantee financial independence for a teenager.

If a young person, or for that matter an adult, focused on doing these three simple things over a long period of time I believe they will be assured success!

Here’s To Your Success!

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Expectation

“Look for the good in every person and every situation. You’ll almost always find it.”

— Brian Tracy

“Life…It tends to respond to our outlook, to shape itself to meet our expectations.”

— Richard M. DeVos

“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”

— Jim Rohn

On Entrepreneurism

“Entrepreneurial leadership requires the ability to move quickly when opportunity presents itself.”

— Brian Tracy

“Kids ought to have two bicycles, one to ride and one to rent.”

— Jim Rohn

“The future will be owned and operated by the entrepreneurially minded.”

— Mark Victor Hansen

 

 

 

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information of general interest to our clients, potential clients and other professionals. The information provided is general in nature and should not be considered complete information on any product or concept described. For more complete information, please contact my office at the phone number below.

Published by The Virtual Assistant; © 2016 VSA, LP

Fixing The Value of Your Business…From the Desk of Gurdayal Singh

Business Briefs

May 25, 2016

business shingle

FIXING THE VALUE OF YOUR BUSINESS FOR ESTATE TAX PURPOSES

What Conditions Must Be Met to Fix the Value of Your Business for Estate Tax Purposes?

If certain conditions are met, a binding buy-sell agreement may fix the value of a business interest for estate tax purposes. The purchase price, whether a fixed amount or one determined by a formula, can be accepted as the estate tax valuation if these conditions are met:

1. The buy-sell agreement must create an enforceable obligation on the part of the estate of the deceased owner to sell and the buyer to purchase the business interest.

2. The buy-sell agreement must prohibit the owner from disposing of his or her business interest during lifetime without first offering it to the other parties to the agreement at a price not higher than the price (fixed or formula) specified in the agreement.

3. The buy-sell agreement must be the result of an “arm’s length” transaction, meaning that the price must be fair and adequate at the time of the agreement or any subsequent reevaluation.

Without a binding buy-sell agreement, there can be a great deal of additional detail and uncertainty as to the valuation of a business interest at the owner’s death, adding to the time and expense required to settle the estate, as well as making it difficult to predict and plan for any estate taxes that may become payable.

MESSAGES

from the Masters…

SUCCESS IS EASY, BUT SO IS NEGLECT by Jim Rohn

People often ask me how I became successful in that six-year period of time while many of the people I knew did not. The answer is simple: The things I found to be easy to do, they found to be easy not to do. I found it easy to set the goals that could change my life. They found it easy not to. I found it easy to read the books that could affect my thinking and my ideas. They found that easy not to. I found it easy to attend the classes and the seminars, and to get around other successful people. They said it probably really wouldn’t matter. If I had to sum it up, I would say what I found to be easy to do, they found to be easy not to do. Six years later, I’m a millionaire and they are all still blaming the economy, the government, and company policies, yet they neglected to do the basic, easy things.

In fact, the primary reason most people are not doing as well as they could and should, can be summed up in a single word: neglect.

It is not the lack of money – banks are full of money. It is not the lack of opportunity – America, and much of the Free World, continues to offer the most unprecedented and abundant opportunities in the last six thousand years of recorded history. It is not the lack of books – libraries are full of books – and they are free! It is not the schools – the classrooms are full of good teachers. We have plenty of ministers, leaders, counselors and advisors.

Everything we would ever need to become rich and powerful and sophisticated is within our reach. The major reason that so few take advantage of all that we have is, simply, neglect.

Neglect is like an infection. Left unchecked it will spread throughout our entire system of disciplines and eventually lead to a complete breakdown of a potentially joy-filled and prosperous human life.

Not doing the things we know we should do causes us to feel guilty and guilt leads to an erosion of self-confidence. As our self-confidence diminishes, so does the level of our activity. And as our activity diminishes, our results inevitably decline. And as our results suffer, our attitude begins to weaken. And as our attitude begins the slow shift from positive to negative, our self-confidence diminishes even more…and on and on it goes.

So my suggestion is that when given the choice of “easy to” and “easy not to,” you do not neglect to do the simple, basic, “easy,” but potentially life-changing activities and disciplines.

To Your Success,
Jim Rohn

QUOTES
from the Masters…

 

On Leadership

“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.”

— Jim Rohn

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”

— Brian Tracy

“Leadership is the ability to decide what has to be done and then get people to want to do it.”

— Patricia Fripp

On Expectation

 

“Today I live in the quiet, joyous expectation of good.”

— Ernest Holmen

“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better.”

— Barbara Pletcher

“You always act in a manner consistent with your expectations, and your expectations influence the attitudes and behaviors of the people around you.”

— Brian Tracy

Special Needs Planning: Special Needs Trust

Retirement Readings

May 18, 2016

special needs

SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING: SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST

The purpose of a special needs trust is to provide financial assets for a disabled child’s future care and well being, while maintaining the child’s eligibility for government benefits.

Under current federal law, an individual with more than $2,000 in assets is disqualified from most needs-based government benefits. State assistance programs may also be based on need. If your child (or grandchild) were to receive an inheritance from you directly, it’s highly probable that the inheritance would disqualify the child from receiving needed benefits. Do not leave assets to the child directly.

With a special needs trust, however, you leave assets to the trust. The trust is managed by a trustee, who then can use trust assets on the child’s behalf. Special needs trust requirements are stringent, so it’s important that you consult with an experienced attorney in setting one up.

In a properly-structured special needs trust, the trust holds title to the property for the benefit of the disabled child or adult. The assets in the special needs trust can then be used to provide for the needs of the disabled individual, as well as to supplement benefits received from government assistance programs. For example, trust assets can be used for:

  • transportation, including purchase of a vehicle;

  • training, rehabilitation or education programs;

  • equipment;

  • medical, dental and eyesight expenses;

  • entertainment;

  • insurance premiums;

  • companion/home health aide expenses; and

  • items to enhance quality of life/self esteem.

A special needs trust can hold cash, as well as title to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate and personal property. In addition, it can own and/or be the beneficiary of life insurance policies. Another use for special needs trusts is to receive any proceeds from personal injury settlements without jeopardizing eligibility for government benefits.

In order to retain eligibility for government benefits, it’s important that well-intentioned family members, such as grandparents, understand that their will should bequeath assets to the special needs trust, and not directly to the disabled individual.

Please contact my office if we can be of assistance.

MESSAGES
from the Masters...

ACHIEVING SUCCESS BY EXPECTING SUCCESS

by Zig Ziglar

When you plan and prepare carefully, you can legitimately expect to have success in your efforts. When you recognize and develop the winning qualities that you were born with, the winner you were born to be emerges. Although not all your expectations are going to come to pass, you give yourself an infinitely better chance of succeeding by taking the proper steps. Regardless of your goal–losing weight, making more sales, furthering your education, earning a promotion, saving money for a new home or an exotic vacation–you can expect to achieve your goal if you plan and prepare for it.

Also understand that the path from where you are to where you want to be is not always smooth and straight. The reason for the twists and bumps is simple, and it has nothing to do with you. It has more to do with the fact that not everyone is as interested in your success as you are. Some people may accidentally hinder your efforts; others who are in competition with you and have little or no integrity may try to sabotage your efforts.

Keep in mind, though, that when you hit those roadblocks your character, commitment, and attitude are the determining factors in your success. Carefully review your plan of action, seek wise counsel, and be particularly careful to feed your mind good information. An optimistic, positive mind is far more likely to come up with creative solutions than a mind that dwells on setbacks and difficulties.

QUOTES
from the Masters…

 

On Self-Limiting Beliefs

 

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”

— Roger Crawford

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”

— Chretien Malesherbes

“If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him a landlord to a ghost.”

— Lloyd C. Douglas

“The outer limit of your potential is determined solely by your own beliefs and your own confidence in what you think is possible.”

— Brian Tracy

 

On Ideas

 

“Ideas are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.”

— Carl Schurz

“Ideas are information taking shape.”

— Jim Rohn

“Take ownership of an idea and the idea will take ownership of you.”

— Mark Victor Hansen

“There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea.”

— Percy Williams Bridgman

Tuesday Tips

tuesday tip

TUESDAY TIP: IDENTIFY BAD SPENDING HABITS

by Joe of Talking Cents 

Identify Bad Spending Habits choose to spend money affects your ability to generate savings or eliminate credit card debt. Poor spending choices can result in increased debt or an inability to pay off what you already owe. Sometimes we have bad spending habits that we don’t even notice. If we identify spending weaknesses, then we can get those negative tendencies in check to get out of debt quicker.

 

How to Identify Bad Spending Habits

When it comes to our financial behavior, any unnecessary spending that occurs on a regular basis could be considered a bad spending habit. Some bad spending habits are obvious because they coincide with our other less desirable actions. Smoking, for example, is unhealthy, unproductive, and can cost almost $3000 a year by smoking a pack per day. Limiting or dropping these habits completely is the best debt reduction tactic there is.

Other bad spending habits are less easy to identify because the negative behavior is not as evident. Finding ways to curb these tendencies requires taking a closer look at our daily routine.

Commonly Overlooked Spending Weaknesses:

Unused Utilities – Leaving lights on, letting water run, and having inactive appliances plugged in all the time can all add up to an unnecessarily high monthly utility bill.

Daily Deals Shopping – Many of us fall victim to the idea that the special offers we receive via email are a way to save while we spend. This type of compulsive spending on items we don’t really need makes it harder to eliminate credit card debt.

Dining Out – We’re all entitled to a nice restaurant meal from time to time, but if you’re buying lunch at work every day, consider making your own meals or using leftovers to cut down on daily food costs.

Commuting – Gas prices go up and down, but if you try biking, carpooling, or using public transportation for work and other trips around town, you can avoid those extra visits to the pump.

Brand Loyalty – Generic brands don’t look as nice on the outside, but what’s inside the package is usually identical to name brand products. Switching to generics is an easy way to reduce spending.

Keeping up With the Joneses – This particular habit can be especially troublesome if you’re trying to eliminate debt. It’s easy to falsely justify why we “need” the latest gadget, the bigger TV, or the top-of-the-line appliance. Postponing a purchase until the savings are there, buying used, or going without all together can go a long way to avoiding excessive spending.

Are Your Habits Hurting?

There are many habits not listed above which could adversely affect spending behavior. Whether or not your spending habits are bad depends entirely on your situation and your awareness. If you can keep your spending in check and don’t rely on credit cards to satisfy urges, then just cutting back a little more could still help to reduce debts quicker. If you’re struggling to manage credit card debt, then it is critical that you break your bad habits as soon as possible.

The Importance of a Will

Estate Ideas

May 4, 2016

 

will art

IMPORTANCE OF A WILL

What Are the Implications of Dying Without a Will?

People who die without a valid will, die intestate. In this event, the state in which they resided effectively provides a will through the state’s intestacy law. This means that the state dictates who will receive the estate owner’s property and in what proportion.

While state intestacy laws do attempt to provide for a “fair” distribution of property, the state’s “one-size-fits-all” will simply cannot reflect the specific wishes of the estate owner in regard to either property distribution or the unique needs of the estate owner’s heirs.

In addition, state intestacy laws require that the probate court appoint a guardian for any minor children. The court-appointed guardian, who may not even be a relative, may be required to post bond and the guardianship will be supervised by the probate court.

Finally, when a person dies intestate, the probate court appoints an administrator of the estate. This administrator can be anyone of the court’s choosing and is required to post bond, an additional expense that must be paid by the estate.’

 

The choice is yours…

you can draw your own will or the state will do it for you!

The Advantages of Having a Will Include:

  • A will allows property to be transferred according to the estate owner’s wishes, avoiding state intestacy laws.

  • A will permits a parent, instead of the state, to name the guardian for any minor children or other dependents, such as a handicapped adult child.

  • A will enables the estate owner to name an executor to administer the estate which, in some states, minimizes probate and its related expense.

  • A will can lower estate settlement costs by minimizing estate taxes, waiving probate fees and bonds and streamlining the disposition of estate assets.

  • Provisions in a will can defer distribution of a minor child’s remaining share of the estate to a more mature age than 18 or 21.

  • With a will, an estate owner can be certain that bequests of money or personal property to specific individuals or charitable organizations will be carried out.

  • If the estate includes a business, a will can authorize the executor to operate the business until the estate is settled, with no exposure to personal liability on the executor’s part.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

DECISION IS DESTINY by Steve Goodier

“Mommy, what happens when a car gets too old and banged up to run?” a little girl asked.

“Well,” her mother said, “someone sells it to your father.”

I think I have bought a couple of cars like that! Like most people, my life is punctuated by decisions that did not turn out the way I’d hoped. But we cannot always be expected to make the best decisions. Sometimes we simply don’t have enough information. And other times, there just isn’t a good decision anywhere to be found! All we can really do is make decisions the best way we know how and act on them. Things change only when decisions change.

Before his rise to political fame, Maryland Congressman Kweisi Mfume walked a path of self-destruction. He dropped out of high school. A few years later, he robbed a pedestrian in order to join a street gang. Mfume spent the following years drinking and troublemaking with the gang.

A turning point came one summer night when he abruptly decided he could no longer continue on his present course. He decided to earn his high school equivalency certificate and later graduated magna cum laude from Morgan State University in Baltimore. He then went on to earn a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins University.

When Mfume ran for Congress in 1986, his opponents tried to use his old mistakes against him. But his achievements since he left a troubled past behind captivated an electorate who voted him into office by an overwhelming 87 percent. He was on a collision course with total failure until he made a decision.

What changes your life is not learning more, though education is important. What changes your life is making decisions – the best decisions you can make – and acting on them. It’s been accurately said: “Your decisions determine your direction, and your direction determines your destiny.” Or put another way, “The decisions you make, make you.”

QUOTES
from the Masters…

 

On Strategic Planning

 

“Always work from a list. Write it out, organize it, and work on your most important task.”

-– Brian Tracy

“Walt Disney and Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller had 50 year plans – do you?”

-– Mark Victor Hansen

“When schemes are laid in advance, it is surprising how often the circumstances will fit in with them.”

-– Sir William Osler

 

On Influence/ Association

 

“The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”

— Dale Carnegie

 

“We need a variety of input and influence and voices. You cannot get all the answers to life and business from one person or from one source.”

-– Jim Rohn

 

“The world improves people according to the dispositions they bring into it.”

— Renier Guistina Michiel

Special Needs Planning

Retirement Readings

April 20, 2016

SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING: FIRST STEPS

If you have a child (or grandchild) with a disability, one of the most important questions you may ask yourself is…What’s going to happen to my child when I’m no longer here?

To a large degree, the answer to that question will depend on the steps you begin taking today in order to arrange for your child’s future well being.

Planning for special needs children is a complex process that begins with an initial assessment. In planning for your special needs child, there are certain initial steps you should take, such as:

1. Assess your child’s prognosis: Will your child ever be able to earn a living…manage assets…live independently? Your evaluation of issues such as these will then guide you in the type of planning you need to complete in order to provide for your child. If you’re unsure about your child’s future prognosis, be conservative in your assumptions. You can always change your plans in the future.

2. Review your financial situation: What assets do you have available to provide for your child’s future financial needs? What can you do to accumulate additional assets for your child’s care?

3. Living arrangements: Where do you want your child to live after your death, or if you become physically unable to care for your child? Will your child need a guardian (or conservator)?

4. Government benefits: Do you know what government benefits are available and what the requirements are to qualify for these benefits? Government benefits and their requirements can play a major role in your child’s future well being. Be aware, however, that improper or careless planning could make your child ineligible for certain benefits. Government benefits fall into two groups:

  • Entitlement Programs: Eligibility for entitlement programs is based on meeting certain requirements, such as age, disability or blindness. An individual who, for example, meets the required definition of disability is entitled to receive benefits, regardless of that individual’s financial situation.

  • Needs-Based Programs: In order to receive benefits from a needs-based program, a disabled individual cannot have income or assets above stated amounts.

Please contact my office if we can be of assistance.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

A SENSE OF URGENCY IS TREMENDOUS by Charlie “T” Jones

Perhaps my findings are not the only solution, but with all my heart I believe the fires of greatness in our heart can be kept aglow only after we develop a sense of urgency and importance for what we are doing. I mean a sense of urgency to the extent that we feel it is a matter of life and death; and it is a matter of life and death, for in growing we are alive and in quitting we are dying in a sense. If you don’t believe this, talk to anyone who has lost the sense of urgency of getting things done and has been drifting in complacency, mediocrity and failure. If you are without a sense of urgency in your work, you know what I mean.

A sense of urgency is that feeling that lets you know yesterday is gone forever, tomorrow never comes. TODAY is in your hands. It lets you know that shirking today’s task will add to wasted yesterdays and postponing today’s work will add to tomorrow’s burden. The sense of urgency causes you to accomplish what today sets before you. Thank God for the sense of urgency that can change a dull, shabby existence into a sparkling life. Right now, ask God to give you a sense of urgency. Believe that He did, and then act accordingly.

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Stewardship

“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.”

— Dale Carnegie

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I still can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

— Helen Keller

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

— Henry Van Dyke

On Happiness

“I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”

— Martha Washington

“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”

— Jim Rohn

“The quality of your life is determined by how you feel at any given moment. How you feel is determined by how you interpret what is happening around you, not by the events themselves.” 

— Brian Tracy

“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 

— Abraham Lincoln

Fun Friday – April 15, 2016 – Taxes & Procrastination

3 Powerful Techniques To Beat Procrastination

 

You still have three days to file your taxes!

Earth Day, April 22,  2016

Next Friday is Earth Day and EarthDay.org is asking for 2016, participate in their theme “Trees for the Earth.” Over the next five years, as Earth Day moves closer to its 50th anniversary, they’re calling on you to help achieve one of their most ambitious goals yet — planting 7.8 billion trees. Trees will be the first of five major goals they are undertaking in honor of the five-year countdown to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. On their own and together, these initiatives will make a significant and measurable impact on the Earth and will serve as the foundation of a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for all.  

Why Trees? Trees help combat climate change. They absorb excess and harmful CO2 from our atmosphere. In fact, in a single year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles. Trees help us breathe clean air. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Trees help communities. Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability and provide food, energy and income. Plant a tree. Make a donation. Activate your friends and social networks using the hashtag #trees4earth.

Fun Friday April 8, 2016

Thank Abraham Lincoln for the three extra days you have to file your 2015 taxes.

Why is tax day April 18 this year?

By Jennifer Larino, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
April 07, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Tax Day is typically April 15. This year that date coincides with Emancipation Day, the Washington D.C. holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. capital.

Emancipation Day is usually observed April 16, the date in 1862 when President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act. The act freed the 3,100 slaves who lived in the capital.

But April 16 falls on a Saturday this year, So the local government in D.C. will shut down a day earlier to mark the holiday.

Federal government offices do not close during the holiday, but the Internal Revenue Service treats D.C. holidays the same as federal holidays when it comes to filing taxes. That pushes the official national deadline to the next business day, or in this case, Monday, April 18.

The Washington Post reports that residents in Maine and Massachusetts get an extra day, on top of the three-day extension, thanks to Patriots’ Day, the April 18 holiday marking the revolutionary battles of Lexington and Concord. Taxpayers in those states will have until April 19 to file.

The expression is a Proverb, April showers bring May flowers”

1.   April, traditionally a rainy period, gives way to May, when flowers will bloom because of the water provided to them by the April rains.

2.   By extension, that a period of discomfort can provide the basis for a period of happiness and joy.

Related terms

·         every dark cloud has a silver lining

·         everything happens for a reason

·         to everything there is a season

A Poem:

April showers bring May flowers,
That is what they say.
But if all the showers turned to flowers,
We’d have quite a colourful day!

There’d be bluebells and cockleshells,
Tulips red and green,
Daffodils and Chinese squill,
The brightest you’ve ever seen.

You’d see tiger lilies and water lilies,
Carnations pink and blue,
Forget-me-not and small sundrop
Glistening with the dew.

We’d have fireweed and milkweed
And many more different flowers.
Mexican star and shooting star,
Falling in the showers.

And if all the showers turned to flowers
On that rainy April day,
Would all the flowers turn to showers
In the sunny month of May?

Qualified Retirement Plans

Business Briefs

March 30, 2016

QRP

WHAT IS A QUALIFIED RETIREMENT PLAN?

A qualified retirement plan is a program implemented and maintained by an employer or individual for the primary purpose of providing retirement benefits and which meets specific rules spelled out in the Internal Revenue Code. For an employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan, these rules include:

  • The plan must be established by the employer for the exclusive benefit of the employees and their beneficiaries, the plan must be in writing and it must be communicated to all company employees.

  • Plan assets cannot be used for purposes other than the exclusive benefit of the employees or their beneficiaries until the plan is terminated and all obligations to employees and their beneficiaries have been satisfied.

  • Plan contributions or benefits cannot exceed specified amounts.

  • The plan benefits and/or contributions cannot discriminate in favor of highly-compensated employees.

  • The plan must meet certain eligibility, coverage, vesting and/or minimum funding standards.

  • The plan must provide for distributions that meet specified distribution requirements.

  • The plan must prohibit the assignment or alienation of plan benefits.

  • Death benefits may be included in the plan, but only to the extent that they are “incidental,” as defined by law.

Question

Why do employers comply with these requirements and establish qualified retirement plans?

Answer

To benefit from the tax advantages offered by qualified retirement plans.

Qualified Retirement Plan Tax Advantages:

In order to encourage saving for retirement, qualified retirement plans offer a variety of tax advantages to businesses and their employees. The most significant tax breaks offered by all qualified retirement plans are:

  • Contributions by an employer to a qualified retirement plan are immediately tax deductible as a business expense, up to specified maximum amounts.

  • Employer contributions are not taxed to the employee until actually distributed.

  • Investment earnings and gains on qualified retirement plan contributions grow on a tax-deferred basis, meaning that they are not taxed until distributed from the plan.

Depending on the type of qualified retirement plan used, other tax incentives may also be available:

  • Certain types of qualified retirement plans allow employees to defer a portion of their compensation, which the employer then contributes to the qualified retirement plan. Unless the Roth 401(k) option is selected, these elective employee deferrals are not included in the employee’s taxable income, meaning that they are made with before-tax dollars (see page 13 for information on the Roth 401(k) option).

  • Qualified retirement plan distributions may qualify for special tax treatment.

  • Depending on the type of qualified retirement plan, employees age 50 and over may be able to make additional “catch-up” contributions.

  • Low- and moderate-income employees who make contributions to certain qualified retirement plans may be eligible for a tax credit.

  • Small employers may be able to claim a tax credit for part of the costs in establishing certain types of qualified retirement plans.

The bottom line is that the primary qualified retirement plan tax advantages – before-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth – provide the opportunity to accumulate substantially more money for retirement, when compared to saving with after-tax contributions, the earnings on which are taxed each year.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

ACCELERATE YOUR ABILITIES

by Chris Widener

In today’s fast-paced life, the wins usually go to those with exceptional skills and abilities. The old quote is true, “The race is not always won by the swift and the strong, but that is the way to bet.”

With this in mind, and with your desire to become increasingly successful, here are some ways to accelerate your abilities, thus enabling you to achieve greater and greater things.

Become dissatisfied with your current state. Growth for growth’s sake is good. Those who will achieve much are those who say to themselves, “I want to grow. I want to be better. And I am willing to do what it takes to get there. This current state is not enough!” This dissatisfaction will create for you an insatiable drive to do what it takes to get your abilities to the next level.

Visualize the benefits of increased abilities. Put them at the forefront of your mind. This will saturate your mind with the motivation that it will take for you to do what it takes to increase your abilities. What good will come out of my increased ability? How will I be better off as well as the others around me? The answers to these questions act as the carrot before the horse, moving you forward.

Understand your weaknesses. If you want to improve, one of the best ways is to start with some area that you aren’t particularly good at. This is the “shoring up method.” Sometimes it is easier to improve something you aren’t good at that something you are. And the gains will still look great for your overall situation! Take some time to consider what areas you are weakest in and focus in on them for a while. The results will obviously be much more pronounced than getting better at something you have already somewhat mastered.

Attempt greater levels of what you are already good at. Another tact to take would be to stretch yourself in an area that you already have some skill and ability in. What areas do you excel in? Now understand that when you leave the weaker areas weak and make extraordinary gains in one area, then you will be moving more toward “specialist” rather than “generalist.” That is okay, but needs to fit in with your overall goals.

Commit time each day to improvement. Steady improvement is the way to go. In fact, you may not see improvement for days or weeks. You may feel like you are failing each time. But alas, eventually you will get it and your skill will increase to the next level. The key is day in, day out, spending time working on improving. Even five minutes a day equals a half hour a week, 2 hours a month. That adds up! Remember, Practice, practice, practice.

Seek out and spend time with someone who has greater ability than you.One of the best things to do to increase your ability is hang out with people who are already more skilled than you. Watching, them, studying them, interacting with them, even competing with them will make you better. As in sports, to improve, you play with people better than you, not worse. They will raise you to a new level. Who around you can you get involved with who will help you with your ability?

Take a class or hire a coach. Go to school my friend. Take a course at a local college or vocational institute. Take a class online. Hire one of the many coaches available today. Pick a specific skill you would like to improve upon and find someone who is a specialist in that area. At the very least, pick up some audio or videotapes to help you grow.

Be the tortoise, not the hare. Slow but sure. Take your time, do it right. Keep going in the right direction. Learn your craft correctly. Don’t give up quality for speed. The whole idea of acceleration is this way: Slow start, work up to high speeds, go the distance. Luckily life isn’t a sprint but a marathon!

Hope these ideas help you as you commit to accelerating your abilities!

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Skills

“What one skill, if you developed it, could have the greatest positive impact on your career? This is the key to your future.”

— Brian Tracy

“Learn to hide your need and show your skill.”

— Jim Rohn

“Develop the art of being exceptional.”

— Patricia Fripp

On Problem Solving

“Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it.”

— Jim Rohn

“Success is finding and doing to the best of your ability, in each moment of your life, what you enjoy most doing, what you can do best, and what has the greatest possibility of providing the means to live as you would like to live in relation to yourself and all persons you value.”

— Nido Qubein

“Success is that old ABC — ability, breaks, and courage.”

— Charles Luckman