Tag: loan modifications (5 articles found)

A Family Budget Plan

by  Janet Behm  on  Monday, August 13, 2018

"Don't just count your years, make your years count." - Ernest Meyers

In my previous note, I wrote about some "big picture" exercises to have with your partner, or for your own financial reconfiguration.

Those were: 1) Writing Your Money Story and 2) Imagining Your Ideal Financial Scenario. Both of these exercises were to lay the foundation for getting practical -- because the practical outworking that comes from these exercises is where steady foundations are built, or becomes the place at which change actually occurs.

So, this is a small bit of practical advice, building upon those first exercises...

Create Your Family Budget Plan Now
As a couple, begin with the assumption that you will pool your money.

Couples enjoy an economic bonus because two can live more cheaply than both could alone. However, do not expect to achieve financial peace without a plan!

I highly recommend that you plan to live on one salary for the first several years. This is a challenge that too few couples in Salt Lake County accept. If you max your lifestyle to pay for a mortgage, car payments, gym memberships, and the like, you will have no flexibility to adjust when children come. Your first years of marriage offer a great opportunity to save for an emergency fund and a down payment on your first house.

Start by tracking your current expenses to give you a starting point for creating your own budget. Budgeting is like healthy eating. You need to maintain balance and avoid excessive indulgences. 

Going through this exercise will likely reveal who has the greater interest in paying the bills. Even when only one of you will be paying the bills, you can only build trust if you decide together how your money will be spent.

Remember to allocate some savings. After all, as I've written, wealth is not what you spend but what you save and invest.

Now you can build a financial fortress that re-writes your story, and which takes you to the place of your greatest hopes.

Until next week,

Janet Behm

Janet Behm is a CPA for Utah Real Estate Accountants.  To contact Janet, please visit the Business Directory located at:  https://www.utahreia.org/VendorListings.aspx

 

   Be the First to give this Blog Post a 5 Star Rating

All of the tax media outlets (and even some non-tax ones) were shouting about a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that showed that (gasp) millions of taxpayers are underwithholding, and that they will face a tax bill come 2019. Apparently, there was an increase of 3% of those who will owe the IRS due to not adjusting withholding per the new tax law.

Fortunately, the IRS does have a handy calculator, updated with all of the new tables, that can give you a general sense for what you should be withholding.

But, as usual, there is a side to this story that most people in Salt Lake County aren't noticing. The actual percentage of people who are
underwithholding is 21% (up from 18%). But the number of people who are OVERwithholding is 73%.

THAT is the story, in my opinion: almost three-quarters of taxpayers are loaning the government their money throughout the year, simply because they haven't taken the time to run the numbers. Or maybe it's because they like the feeling of getting a refund, come tax time.

But as I've
nagged said to you before, getting a refund just means that you didn't project properly. You're giving a multi-trillion dollar organization (the federal government) a loan from YOUR accounts, instead of having use of that money throughout the year.

If that's fine with you, so be it.

Only 6% of the population are striking that golden mean of withholding just the right amount.

But either way, let's not make this decision simply by default, and not planning ahead!

That's why it's helpful to have someone in your corner who can help you get the numbers right. If you haven't had a tax planning meeting with us this summer, there's still plenty of time to do so before the end of the year. Don't miss out on the opportunities available to you to save lots of your hard-earned income from the grasping hands of the IRS.

If you are married, these are the sort of things that you should decide together with your spouse, or at least have clarity about how these decisions should be made, if one partner is tasked with these kinds of choices.

And as we are turning the corner into the end of summer, the wedding season is winding down, and I thought I would offer some unsolicited advice for the newlyweds among us, as well as those who have been "seasoned" a bit in their marital journey. 

And I also think that even for those who are single, there are some things in here you should think through...

Janet Behm's Two Financial Exercises To Strengthen Your Family Finances
"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Wedding season is almost over. For many of my clients in Salt Lake County, that ship has sailed … but this is a great opportunity to pass on something smart to your children. Or, perhaps you need a refresher for your existing marriage.  

Either way, your marriage is sure to have many challenges, and mastering money is a big one. Expect a few good money fights. "You bought ___ !?" is often the first sign that the dam is breaking and a torrent is about to flow.

Couples who fail to prepare for a shared money maturing process will likely experience longer and sharper growing pains. Because the fact is that most people bring in emotional baggage from their childhood years that can complicate the matter.

So that being the case, I've put together a series of exercises which are useful conversations for any engaged couple -- or, even, those with some years under their marriage belt.

And because of the length of this, I'll make it a two-parter, and be back with more of these money exercises next week.

Exercise 1: Start With Your Money Story
Begin by separately writing an autobiography that focuses on your relationship to the money you have acquired. The fact is, you've been shaped by experiences with money management, and you picked up most of them through implicit observation.

Now, if you are like me, you may want to just list bullet points, or you may prefer to compose several paragraphs. Some people end up writing a small book! What events have shaped your thinking? 

What fears do you have about money? What voices remain inside your head? For example, "I don't want to act like my Uncle Tommy who..." Some voices are helpful and others not so much; be sure to name them all.

This exercise can be most powerful when shared with other couples, both married and engaged. As you share these stories and ask questions to better understand each other more deeply, you are developing the kind of communication skills that big money questions will require of you.

Exercise 2: The Dream Scenario
Begin by reflecting on this question: 

"Imagine you are fully financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs now and in the future. How would you live your life?" 

Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don't hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is completely and richly
yours. Because here's the truth: you can be sure that any unspoken goals will never be fulfilled.

This exercise is particularly helpful when you feel financially stuck. Naming our desires forces us to confront our associated fears. Speaking these goals brings them into the light. Your future (or current) spouse can respond and offer support or constructive criticism. 

You can expect that this exercise might bring about a reprioritization of your time and money. You will find the work of life comes much easier when it is aligned with your passions and aptitudes. Perhaps, for example, you might be led to a downsizing of your lifestyle so you're able to work for that nonprofit you've always had your eye on.

All of this may sound too fuzzy or creative, but nothing is more important in your financial management. 

Why do I say that? 

In all of my years of working with family finances, I've seen this truth:
financial woes often don't come from a lack of income ... but from our failure to live according to our true values.

Get those right, and the rest begins to follow.

More to come next week.


I do hope this helps  ... and no matter where you find yourself, there is "no shame in our game". We are in your corner.

Until next week, 

Janet Behm

   Be the First to give this Blog Post a 5 Star Rating

 An Effective Lead Generation Strategy From Business Owner To Another
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Advertising is obviously a crucial ingredient of any effective business plan, yet it actually works against many businesses -- especially small businesses. You see, most small businesses mimic what they see the "big boys" doing (I mean, big mammoth corporations or large, well-established ecommerce stores that have gone viral), and that's like a thoroughbred horse jockey trying to imitate an elephant trainer.

You have an entirely different agenda as a small business owner in Salt Lake County than does a larger business.
Many large corporations are engaged more with "marketing" than they are with direct advertising (which is what I addressed last week).

You see, to run a successful ad for a small business, it must do one of two things -- and do these ONLY:
1)  Generate Sales, or
2)  Generate Sales Leads.

Even better -- do it in a measurable, quantifiable way.

The best part -- when you do this right, then you have no problem "getting your name out there" ... but you'll also make money in the process.

Unfortunately, most businesses simply attempt to "get their name out there," and it's very likely that they won't generate sales OR sales leads with such advertising.

Business owners don't expect nearly enough from their advertising, and they don't hold it accountable for results. So they waste thousands of dollars, and then they start pounding their sales people for orders on the 26th of every month.

So ... what about when you're trying to generate leads? Well, don't try to accomplish overmuch at that stage.

You must remember that all you're really trying to do for lead generation is to get people to "raise their hands" and identify themselves as someone who has a problem -- and tell you who they are.

Anything more than that, will actually reduce your response. The purpose of pure lead generation advertising is NOT for you to tell them all about yourself -- not in the first step anyway.

The only purpose is for them to tell you who they are.

When you do this correctly, it's simple and effective.  And most importantly, nobody feels like you're chasing them.

And THAT'S a power position you want.


Feel very free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance -- or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.

You can find our listing in the Business Directory found on this site.

Warmly,

Janet Behm
Utah Real Estate Accountants
 

 

   Currentely rated 5.0 by 1 People

We love what we do. 

I'm not sure if it's always obvious, but perhaps you can take a cue from the fact that I take the time to post you these sorts of notes on a regular basis, if not by other factors.

We love this stuff, and consequently, we work hard for our Salt Lake County clients.

Crafting elegant, tax-saving and easy-to-understand strategies to help you save on your taxes is a joy. And, of course, removing from our clients the annoying hassle of dealing closely with government paperwork, deadlines and personnel -- while not exactly a "joy" -- provides us with great satisfaction because we know that we get to serve our clients and help them not have to deal with stuff that isn't exactly "fun".

But sometimes (usually a rare instance), there are circumstances in which, despite great planning and implementation of strategy, things go sideways.

That is REALLY not fun.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about estate planning, and I do want to touch on it one more time here today -- despite the fact that it isn't our primary area of service. It's such a critical part of a family's financial picture, but it doesn't really get focused on, occasionally only until it's too late.

You see, even the most well-crafted estate plan can be ruined by a poor choice of executor.

Of course, we can always do our best to help our Salt Lake County clients and and their families deal with it and navigate through this poor choice, once it becomes apparent -- we have definitely handled that sort of thing.

But it's always better if the choice is made well.

So, this week, I have some words about this, as you consider your current executor, and whether they fit the profile ...

And by the way, this is just as important for the single person as it is for those who have families to think about.  Last year I lost my brother-in-law, Thad.  He was an "old bachelor".  He had a trust, so we were able distribute his one asset, a Mazda Miata, without losing stride.

Janet Behm's Guide For Choosing An Executor Of Your Estate Plan
“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.” - Harper Lee

Whenever you have any kind of estate plan in place, your executor is the person who manages the process when it is actually "executed". They are what is called a "fiduciary", which means he or she must be someone who will act in good faith when handling your affairs. He or she cannot take advantage of his or her position, or unfairly profit from financial transactions from your estate. The executor will meet the standard of a fiduciary duty if he or she does a competent, honest job.
 
You want your fiduciary to be both trustworthy and capable of handling the tasks. You have to have complete faith in him or her. Make sure he or she understands the responsibility of the job and is willing to accept it. This obviously should require a discussion before you make your Will.

Oh, and if you make NO plan, the state will be the one who chooses your executor through a process called probate.
 
It sounds a bit strange, but name someone who is healthy and likely to be around after your death. To be secure, you should definitely select at least one successor executor to serve if your first choice is unable or unwilling to do so when the time comes.
 
For many people, the choice is obvious -- their spouse. Others select a close friend, a grown child or other close relative. If no obvious person comes to mind, make a list of your possible selections and use common sense (and this article as your guide) to make the wisest choice.

Remember, as I wrote last week ...

An executor must:

* Obtain certified copies of your death certificate
* Locate Will beneficiaries
* Examine and inventory your safe deposit boxes
* Collect your mail
* Cancel credit cards and subscriptions
* Notify the SSA and other benefit plan administrators of your death
* Learn about your property, which may involve examining bank statements, deeds, insurance policies, tax returns and other records
* Get bank accounts covered by the Will released
* Place notices in newspapers so creditors can make claims
* Hire a probate attorney


Either the executor or the probate attorney must:

* File court papers to start the probate process and obtain legal authority to act as your executor
* Manage your assets during the probate process, which usually takes six months to a year
* Handle court-supervised probate matters, including transfer of property to your beneficiaries and making sure your final debts and taxes are paid
* Have final income tax forms prepared, and, if necessary, have estate tax returns for your estate prepared and filed


So the choice is important when it comes to choosing an executor.

But lastly, as you make these decisions, consider telling your family and loved ones exactly what you plan.

This gives you the chance to head off any possible disagreements among your family about how things "should" be handled. If you happen to die or lose capacity, it's usually too late.

Eliminate surprises and keep those family fights at bay.

Perhaps the LAST thing to say is: make sure you have competent help by your side, in ALL things financial (especially when it comes to your existing finances and tax strategy). 

And that, of course, is what we're here for.

Until the next time I write to you (which will be soon), I am warmly yours, 
 
Janet Behm

   Be the First to give this Blog Post a 5 Star Rating

MORE SCAMS: ALERT!

by  Janet Behm  on  Monday, July 16, 2018



"Don't let the same dog bite you twice." - Chuck Berry


The most common forms of scams targeting taxpayers occur before April 15th (or the 18th, as it was this year), but as tax planning and correspondence continues year-round, so do the fraudsters.

It seems that once they get a taste of that sweet, sweet stolen money, they keep inventing more ways to engage you and your money.

So here are some newer ones for which to be on guard, as well as a reminder about some of the regular variety...

Real bank accounts sent fraudulent money
This is a new twist to a common problem: fake returns filed. But in this instance, the criminal sends funds to YOUR bank account ... and then comes to you, claiming that there has been some sort of error. They do this to prevent the IRS from raising an alarm for funds being deposited into unrelated accounts.

The scammers then contact you, either posing as an IRS representative calling about a refund error or as an agent of private collection agency going after tax debts. As fake agents, they tell you to send the funds back to the Treasury -- except it's really going into their hands. As collection agent impersonators, they instruct you to forward the money to their little fake collection agency.

Fake charities come calling
Every time a natural disaster strikes, these outfits pop up like moles to be squashed. They advertise and spread via social media and typically don't appreciate it when you ask difficult questions. That's why if you have any questions about a charity and the group seeking your contribution won't answer them...don't give. Legitimate  nonprofits are happy to prove that they are really doing the good work they advertise.

The IRS has set up an online tool to verify charitable organizations called "Select Check" that can help you navigate the murky waters of this area. In general, a good rule of thumb is to give to established charities, or those endorsed by trusted friends.

Fake withholding verification
In this doozy, the crooks will mail (or fax, if you can believe it) a letter to their scam targets, most often those who are international taxpayers or non-resident aliens. The letter tells them that although they are exempt from withholding and reporting income tax, they need to authenticate their information by entering personal and tax info on the enclosed, phony version of Form W-8BEN and faxing it to the crooks.

The first problem is that these forms are only supposed to be sent to a "withholding agent", and they often reference fictitious forms. Don't fall for this one -- run these sorts of things through us before complying.

Fake IRS agents calling you
This one has been a common tax scam as of late. The IRS estimates that 2 million taxpayers have been called over the past year. And lest you think we're getting collectively wise, they also estimate that they have already gathered over $60 million in fraudulent funds. And they are still going at it. Watch out.

There are more out there like this, so if you suspect you're being targeted, here's what you should do... 

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA's "IRS Scam Reporting" web page to report the incident.
  • You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the "FTC Complaint Assistant" on FTC.gov. 
  • Send any phishing emails you think you've received to: phishing@irs.gov 

If you think you may owe taxes, but are leery of the source telling you: 

  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you.
  • Or, if you would rather not land in phone-tree oblivion with the IRS, you can give us (Utah Real Estate Accountants) a call: (801) 278-2700
   Be the First to give this Blog Post a 5 Star Rating
1 - 5 of 5
© Copyright 2018 Mike Jacka | Powered by: www.RealEstatePromo.info | Contact Us | Admin: Sign In