Do you feel like your credit card spending is out of control? Credit cards should be a convenient short-term way to pay, not a source of regular spending. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time staying true to this concept. Instead of paying off the entire balance due on the card each month, they let it grow and pay only the minimum amounts.
If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and start following these rules:
- Pay the entire balance due each month.
- If a balance remains unpaid at month’s end, do not use the card again.
- Do not use more than one credit card.
- Do not accept credit cards from specific retail stores.
- Do not pay off one credit card with another.
- Do not purchase gifts for people with your credit card. It’s often too easy to let your generosity exceed your ability to pay.
For many business owners, business appraisals can provide vital planning information and help mitigate risk. Consider what it may be able to do for you:
- Establish a verifiable value for your business. This can show whether assets have appreciated at a reasonable rate. If not, you may need to adjust your firm’s strategy.
- Create documentation to support new financing. Lenders need strong evidence that their loans are properly secured. A business appraisal can supply that evidence. An independent evaluation of business assets may also encourage lenders to offer favorable interest rates.
- Set a reasonable selling price. Without a detailed and defensible appraisal, owners selling their businesses sometimes entertain unreasonably low offers. On the other hand, an appraisal can keep owners from overpricing the firm and thus discouraging potential buyers.
- Avoid litigation after a death. What happens if one owner dies or otherwise leaves his or her share of the business to others? In some cases, litigation follows. To ensure that the remaining owners’ interests are protected, the business needs to be appraised beforehand.
- Support proper estate planning. If your estate is audited, the IRS is more likely to accept valuations that include a clear and reasoned appraisal. In fact, if discounts are adequately supported by an appraisal, estate taxes may be reduced.
- Figure out capital gains. For example, if you inherit a business from your father and decide to sell it, the business can be valued as of the date of your father’s death. A good appraisal can help establish a supportable value for the business and may result in lower capital gains taxes.
Contact our office if you have questions about selling your business.
Good news – there are a lot of revenue sources that aren’t taxed. Do you know what they are? Here are the most common sources of money that are generally not taxed on your federal income tax return:
- Borrowed money, such as from banks or personal loans
- Money received as a gift or inheritance from family or friends
- Money paid on your behalf directly to a school or medical facility
- Most life insurance proceeds
- Child support payments
- Money you receive for sustaining an injury
- Scholarships for tuition and books
- Disability insurance benefits from a policy purchased with after-tax dollars
- Interest received on municipal bonds
If you would like assistance in determining what to include on your income tax return, please contact us. We are here to help you.
Should you carry life insurance on your children? When determining whether or not to carry life insurance on your children, you’ll find that people have a variety of opinions. Here’s a look at some of the most common considerations for and against life insurance policies on children:
- Financial security. Traditionally, you take out life insurance to provide for the financial security of dependents. The policy should include funds to replace the insured’s income and to pay off debts. Neither of these reasons applies to young children. They don’t generally have any significant income, and they don’t usually have any debts. Some parents might want to carry a modest amount of insurance to cover funeral costs for their children in case the unthinkable happens.
- Some people believe that by taking out a policy at a young age, it helps guarantee insurability as the child grows older. This could be important if the child develops a major illness later in life. The problem is that if the child does develop a serious illness, insurance will still become very expensive or limited.
- Insurance as an investment. Some advisors suggest that parents should take out a whole life policy on their children. These policies include a savings component to build up cash value in the policy. You could then use that value for education expenses or other needs. But others say that there are cheaper and more efficient ways to save than by using life insurance. For example, putting money into a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan is often a better way to save for school tuition costs.
Although a majority of advisors may argue against life insurance for children, there may be some situations where people find it makes sense. However, you shouldn’t take out a policy just because it is offered to you or because others are doing it. Make sure to do your homework and know exactly why you need the insurance.
Don’t say “I do” until you’ve said a lot more to your spouse about finances. Wedding season is upon us. Did you know couples often enter into marriage without ever having had a discussion about financial issues? As a result, they find themselves frequently arguing about money. If you are planning a wedding, here are some steps you can take to get your marriage off to a good financial start:
- Determine your financial compatibility. Take some time to discuss your finances before you tie the knot. Talk about your assets, debts, credit ratings and your financial attitudes, including your spending and saving habits. Do you share the same goals? Talk it out and see where you two align and where you differ.
- Make a plan for how to handle finances after you say “I do.” This means figuring out day-to-day stuff, like who will pay the bills and whether or not you’ll maintain joint or separate checking accounts.
- Involve your financial advisors. Every couple needs to work out their own style for handling money. Call us to assist you in setting up a budget, controlling your taxes and mapping out a financial plan for your future.
- Discuss any related legal matters. If you have substantial assets, talk about the merits of a prenuptual agreement with your attorney. And ask your attorney how you can protect yourself from your partner’s credits if they have substantial debt. Perhaps you plan on buying a house together or combining financial accounts. Your attorney can advise you on the best way to hold title to your assets.
Discussing your finances before you wed may increase your chances for living happily ever after. Give us a call if you would like assistance in this area.