The “What” and “How” of Tax Planning for Dummies

The winter snow is starting to melt and the warm weather is starting to shine through. This means it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning, outdoor adventures, and, you guessed it- taxes.

Taxes are due on April 15th, and while that may feel like a ways away, you can never start tax planning too early. What is tax planning? Why do you need to do it? How do you do it?

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about tax planning.

What is Tax Planning?

Tax planning involves organizing and analyzing your financial documents from the past year so you can maximize tax breaks and minimalize tax liabilities. In other words, tax planning helps you save money and stay out of trouble.

Tax rules can be complicated (there’s a reason so many people hire an accountant to do their taxes), so giving yourself enough time to understand your yearly finances is very important.

Tax Planning Strategies

If done right, tax planning can help you grow your income and prepare for the road ahead. Here’s what you need to do to plan for Tax Day:

1. Understand Your Income Bracket

You can’t plan for your financial future if you don’t know where your finances are today. This means you should begin your tax planning strategy by understanding what federal tax bracket you fall into.

The US has a progressive tax system, which means the more money you make, the more you’re taxed. Depending on how much you make, you may be taxed anywhere from 10 to 37 percent of your income. You can learn more about your tax bracket here.

However, keep in mind that you get to subtract your deductions, so you likely won’t need to pay the full rate.

2. Understand the Popular Tax Deductions and Tax Credits

If you want to save money on your taxes this year, then you need to familiarize yourself with the popular tax deductions and tax credits. But first, you need to understand the difference between a tax deduction and tax credit.

A tax deduction is an expense that you’ve incurred that you can subtract from your taxable income, whereas a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction that you can get on your tax bill. For example, if you get a $500 tax credit, that’s $500 off your total tax bill.

Here are some popular tax deductions:

  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Charitable contributions
  • Sales and property taxes
  • Business-related expenses (for example, using your home as your business)

Examples of tax credits include:

You should look into each of these separately to see if you qualify.

3. Contribute to Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts

One of the best ways to invest your money is to contribute to a tax-deferred retirement account. These accounts are tax-free and compound over time, meaning they can grow to a substantial sum.

Consider increasing your 401(k) contributions and setting up an IRA if you don’t already have one. You can contact wealthability firms for advice on setting up these accounts.

Time to Start Tax Planning

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is tax planning?”, it’s time for you to put these strategies to use. While tax planning can take a lot of time, it’ll help you make the most of your money.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more tax preparation tips!

3 Tips to Avoid Cabin Fever as a Remote Worker

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are requiring employees to work from home.

With no end in sight to the pandemic, and no clear path back to normal office life, workers have begun to accept working from home as the new norm.

While some employees may see this new style of working from home as a benefit, others are struggling to cope with distractions, lack of structure and the difficulty of managing their schedules.

Keeping Regular Work Hours

Without an office it can be hard for remote employees to separate work life from their social life.

It is vital for workers to designate specific hours to their work day as well as specific hours to their social life in order to not burn out.

By keeping a regular work schedule, it is much easier for employees to have a clear understanding of when they will be working and when they will be socializing with family and friends.

Wake Up at the Same Time Everyday

Waking up, eating and taking breaks at the same time as well as starting and finishing your workday at the same time everyday is crucial to helping workers stay on task and on schedule to complete necessary work.

Studies have proven, people who wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday get a better night’s sleep and are therefore more well rested and energized to perform their daily tasks.

For traditional 9am-5pm office workers, taking 7 to 8 breaks a day or roughly a break every hour is best to increase a workers focus and efficiency.

When to Work

While boss’s sometimes expect employees to be at the top of their game at all moments of the workday, this expectation is simply unrealistic.

It is difficult for workers to avoid having too much flexibility and therefore they should try to become more accountable to their company.

Depending on the job, workers probably need to make themselves available to their boss and co-workers certain hours of the day, however this does not mean you need to stick to the 9am-5pm normal work day.

Figure out when you are needed by your company and then consider when you are able to work most productively.

Possibly you enjoy working out or playing with your children in the early afternoon to clear your mind and prefer to resume working at night time.

Whatever your schedule preferences, be sure to pick a time slot to work when you are most at your most productive.

Moving your work environment from an office to your home can be a difficult transition, but as long as you focus on keeping a regular schedule, this adjustment to your work life should be significantly easier.

Remember to get enough rest, go to bed at the same time each day and to take breaks throughout the workday.

Maintaining focus and a healthy work/life balance to be will be the key to being a successful, productive and efficient worker.

About the Author

Russell Barneson is a real estate investor from California and runs his own vacation rental business. He is passionate about real estate investing, personal finance and productivity. He writes The Hard Money Blog and is head of marketing at Crescent Lenders. In his spare time he enjoys playing tennis, watching the NFL and drinking a few beers.

Tips for Supporting Your Sales Staff

Business owners and managers who rely on the efforts of their sales staff to generate revenue need to do everything reasonably possible to equip them for success. Helping your staff save time, connect with customers more easily, and stay connected with you and their colleagues will position them to do their best quality work. Here are some tips about what you can do to help your team complete more sales and excel in their individual job roles.

Facilitate Easy Connections With Leads and Customers

It should be relatively simple for your staff to hone in on their most promising leads. You should choose a customer relationship management platform that makes it easy for staff to filter their leads by several different elements rather than looking up individual’s names or chronological histories.

Phone system and salesforce integration can make reaching out to leads and customers over the phone almost effortless. Also, it helps your team members keep close track of their contact history so they can easily view a record of when they were last in touch with someone.

Train Your Team Thoroughly

Staff training initiatives should extend well beyond an employee’s initial training period. You should have regular meetings with your staff to keep them updated about what’s happening within the team as well as company-wide directives and changes about products or services. Your staff needs a strong command of every facet of your operations in order to inspire confidence in your customers. Training is the most effective way of ensuring that people stay current with the information that they need in order to close sales and shape positive customer experiences.

In addition to company-specific training topics, you should also allocate some training time to general sales skills. Negotiations skills, for example, will enable your team to communicate more effectively and improve their individual sales percentages.

Offer Employees Flexibility With Their Schedules

You may find that you’re able to help employees improve their performance when you give them some freedom in making their own schedules. If you operate a physical location that needs to be staffed at certain hours, it’s understandable that you may have some constraints with staffing requirements. However, to the extent that you can, giving people a little leeway in making their own hours so long as they reach a certain minimum threshold criteria can help people feel more in charge of their own success. Moreover, when they’re at work, they’ll be better able to keep their attention on work rather than distractions from home life that can affect the quality of their performance.

Giving people the option to work from home may also be a good strategy to improve productivity. When people are in an environment where they feel the most comfortable, they can interact with customers in a way that’s personable and confident.

It’s essential that you stay engaged with your team and give them the tools that they need to use time well and make a positive impression on customers. Ultimately, the work that you put into supporting your sales staff will create considerable returns on your company’s sales volume.

A Georgia Business Owner’s Guide to Workers’ Compensation Insurance

New business owners have many responsibilities, and purchasing the proper insurance policies is paramount for the future of the business. While other forms of business insurance are optional, most businesses legally have to carry workers’ compensation. Because state legislatures, not the federal government, sets rules and regulations for workers’ comp, it’s imperative to know your state-specific laws.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Benefits

Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs if an employee suffers from a workplace injury or contracts an occupational illness.

If an injury occurs, it entitles the worker to weekly income benefits if they cannot work for over seven days. These benefits are two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly income but cannot exceed $675 a week. How long benefits last depend on the severity of the injury, but Georgia does offer lifetime benefits for catastrophic injuries.

Coverage Requirements Under Georgia Law

Under state workers’ compensation law, all businesses that have more than three employees must have workers’ compensation in Georgia, with the exception of railroad carriers, government agencies, farmworkers, and domestic workers.

In Georgia, corporate officers and limited liability company (LLC) members are considered employees, though up to five of these officers or members can apply for an exemption. However, the officers and LLC members still count towards the three or more employees. Workers’ compensation insurance also covers part-time employees, as long as they work regularly.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Oversight

The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation is the official board that oversees workers’ compensation claims and ensures fair resolution to disputed claims. The board encourages workplace health and safety and helps employees return to work after an injury.

Georgia law holds business owners who do not carry compensation insurance accountable for civil penalties and criminal penalties, if applicable. Employers may have to pay between $100 and $1,000 per violation. If found guilty of willfully neglecting to maintain workers’ comp insurance coverage (a misdemeanor), and an employer can face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year of jail time.

Industry Classification

In Georgia, insurance providers use the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) codes for industry classification. These codes are designed to account for the level of injury or illness risk associated with each industry.

Insurance companies use these codes to determine a client’s premium. To set the cost of a workers’ compensation policy, insurers use the following equation:

Payroll/$100 x Class Code Rate x Experience Modifier + Taxes & Fees = Premium

Ensuring You Have Quality Insurance

Finding the right insurance policy can be a daunting task, especially for new business owners. In Georgia, employers can purchase a workers’ compensation policy from a private insurance company, but Georgia does not have a state fund for workers’ compensation. However, eligible employers can apply for self-insurance, and the NCCI administers the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Assigned Risk Plan.

There is a lot of research involved when trying to find an insurance provider with the best rates and coverage based on your company’s unique needs. To make the insurance search easier, employers can:

  • Work with an Insurance Agent– New business owners should consider working with an insurance agent who can educate them about insurance law, show them their policy options, and provide insight into their employees’ benefits.
  • Request Numerous Quotes– When shopping around for a workers’ comp policy, be sure to request quotes from numerous companies; don’t settle for the first insurer that accepts you.
  • Look for Additional Services– An insurance company’s services shouldn’t be limited to just writing your policy. As you research workers’ comp providers, look for conveniences like an online portal. You may also want to choose a provider that offers other forms of insurance your business needs. Working with the same insurer for multiple policies can simplify the insurance process.

Workers’ Compensation Matters

Having workers’ compensation insurance is more than just a legal responsibility—it’s a means for taking care of your employees. With a policy from a trusted insurance provider, you can rest assured that your employees will receive quality care and fair compensation should an illness or injury occur.

Smart Strategies For Financial Recovery After A Car Crash

The growing number of traffic accidents in the U.S. shows the gravity of the situation. Even worse, a large proportion of these mishaps are completely avoidable because they happen due to the negligence of the drivers. Whatever their cause may be, accidents make life miserable for the injured victims. The miseries go beyond the pain and suffering of the injuries they suffer and extend to financial woes as well. There are massive medical bills to pay, vehicle damage to deal with, and lost income that gets finances off track. Fortunately, financial recovery after a car crash is easier than it sounds, provided that you take the right approach. Here are some smart strategies that can help.

Focus on physical recovery first

When you sustain injuries in a car accident, physical recovery should be on top of your mind. The first step should be seeing a doctor right after the accident because they will perform the requisite diagnostic tests and offer the right treatment to enable recovery. At times, you may have hidden injuries like concussions and damage to internal organs, which may start showing symptoms only after a few days. Seeing a doctor right away can be a life-saver as the most serious issues can be addressed at the earliest. At the same time, you will need the medical reports to validate your injuries when you file a compensation claim from the negligent driver.

Get legal help to claim compensation

Once you get medical help for your injuries, it is time to start working on your financial recovery. If the accident has happened due to the recklessness of the other driver, you are in a vantage position financially. It is your legal right to claim compensation for your injuries and get your finances back on track. Start looking for the best car accident attorneys you can depend on so that you can get the settlement value you deserve. Although the insurance company would want you to settle for a lowball offer, your lawyer will make sure that you get enough to cover your treatment expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and long-term disability.

Rework on your budget

Even as there is hope that you will get enough compensation from a personal injury claim, the process can take a few months to sort out. Meanwhile, you will have to keep your finances afloat while bearing your treatment expenses and paying other bills. Things can get challenging if you are the sole earner or major financial contributor in the family. The best approach would be to rework your budget so that you can make ends meet till the claim comes through. Consider cutting back on luxuries and sticking only to the essentials in monthly expenses. Even if you have an emergency fund, avoid using it.

Protect your credit

Piling expenses and lost wages may seem like good reasons to borrow, but you will end up damaging your credit with loans. While avoiding loans is a good idea, you can limit them to minimal if you still need to borrow. Try looking for ones that charge the lowest rate of interest and be regular with repayments because not paying back on time can cause extensive damage to your credit score. You may even discuss flexible repayment arrangements, such as monthly installments, with the lenders to get through the tough time till you get your compensation claim.

Find a side hustle

Even as your injuries leave you stranded home and without a job, you can start looking for side hustles to bring some extra dollars for the house every month. Thankfully, several side hustles enable you to make thousands, even from the living room couch. Try finding freelance projects in writing, software development and design if you have the right kind of technical skills. Even simple data entry projects can get you enough to sustain. Your family members can also pitch in by taking up side hustles or part-time jobs during the crisis.

Ask for help

If nothing seems to work and your money woes seem to get worse, you may consider asking family or friends for help. Hard as it may sound, this may be the only way to get out of trouble at times. You will find many who are willing to lend a hand through the tough time. Do assure them that you will return the money once you get your compensation from the guilty driver.

A car accident is unfortunate, but it is not the end of the world. There is a lot you can do to rebuild your finances and get them back on track. Ultimately, everything boils down to finding a lawyer who can help you get justice and the compensation you and your family deserve.

PUA 101: Are Paid-up Additions a Smart Idea? (the Answer Is Absolutely)

In 2020, many life insurance companies saw double-digit growths in policy sales. That’s in comparison to the number of life insurance policies they sold in 2019. Despite this, just a little over half of US adults now own a life policy.

However, Deloitte predicts the global life insurance sector to grow by 3% in 2021. So, if you don’t have a life policy yet, now’s the best time to purchase one. Besides, the sooner you get a whole life policy with paid-up additions, the bigger the benefits you get.

What exactly are these “additions,” though, and how can they boost your benefits? What makes them a smart and worthy life investment?

This guide will answer all these questions, so be sure to keep reading!

What Are These Paid-up Additions All About?

Paid up additions (PUAs) are also known as “paid-up riders” (PURs). They serve as an extra or additional whole life insurance coverage. You can think of PUAs or PURs as “mini” whole life insurance policies within a standard whole life policy.

As a mini policy within a policy, PUAs increase the overall value of the entire policy. One way it does so is by raising the main policy’s overall death benefit. Moreover, a whole life policy with a PUR has a higher guaranteed net cash value than one without.

So, a whole life policy with paid-up additions yields bigger death and living benefits.

How Do Paid-up Insurance Riders Work?

On its own, whole life insurance earns cash value for as long as the insured sustains the policy. Keep in mind that whole life coverages don’t expire, unlike term insurance. So long as policyholders pay their premiums, their whole life insurance remains valid.

For this reason, whole life insurance earns cash value for as long as the policy is intact. A huge chunk of the premium payments goes toward the death benefit, while some build up cash value. The latter also increases over time, thanks to its compounding interest.

If you include a PUR to the policy, more money will go toward both its death benefit and cash value. Of course, this also means that your premium payments will be higher.

Most insurance companies require upfront PUR purchases. This means that you might have to buy the paid-up additions together with the whole life policy. This is perfectly fine, as it means that the “mini” whole life policy starts to accrue interest right away.

Some insurers do permit existing policyholders to purchase PUAs at a later date. This is an ideal set-up if you can’t make bigger premiums payments at the start of your policy.

Bigger Death Benefits

Did you know that the average casket already costs more than $2,000? However, some mahogany or bronze caskets can cost five times more, with prices reaching up to $10,000! That’s already a lot of money, and it doesn’t even cover basic funeral service fees.

The thing is, the high cost of funeral services is only one of the issues mourning families face. A much bigger concern is the potential loss of a household’s primary breadwinner. The most at risk are single-income families, which comprise one in four US households.

In any case, the loss of income can take away the roof over a family. Granted, mortgage debts don’t get passed on to the living survivors of a borrower who dies. However, the survivors would still need to keep paying the mortgage if they want to stay in that house.

The thing is, only about four in 10 US homes are mortgage-free. If yours isn’t one of these, it’s best to consider getting a whole life policy with a bigger death benefit. If you get a policy with paid-up additions, you can leave your beneficiaries with a bigger benefit.

More Substantial Living Benefits

Paid-up insurance riders allow you to cash in bigger living benefits. This is especially true if you purchase the paid-up additions up-front. More of your premium payments go toward the policy’s cash value, so it accrues more interest.

PURs also accrue interest on a compounding basis. So, the overall cash value it builds gets bigger and bigger with each passing year. That’s how a whole life policy’s cash value with a paid-up option swells faster than one without.

Since you earn money faster with your PUI, you may be able to withdraw against your policy sooner. You can also wait a bit longer so that you can cash out a larger chunk of your living benefits. Either way, you can use your earnings whichever way you want, as it’s your money, after all.

Even More Earnings With Dividends

As a stand-alone mini whole life policy, PUAs can also earn dividends themselves. In this case, “dividends” are part of an insurance company’s profit distribution. They award these to their policyholders with PURs, usually once a year.

If you acquire dividends with your paid-up additions, you can use it to pay some of your policy premiums. You can also convert their value to secure reduced paid-up insurance costs. Either way, these profit-sharing tools help policy owners save on premium payments.

Some insurers also permit policyholders to use dividends to raise their PUR’s value. In this case, you add the dividends’ value to that of your paid-up additions. It starts to accrue interest, too, as it already becomes part of your PUR.

Make the Most Out of Your Whole Life Policy With a PUR

As you can see, paid-up additions are an excellent way to boost your whole life policy’s benefits. At the very least, it guarantees your beneficiaries a larger amount. You also get to enjoy more substantial earnings that you can use while you’re still around.

So, as early as now, consider purchasing a whole life policy with a paid-up insurance rider.

Ready for more wealth creation guides and money-saving strategies? Feel free to browse the rest of our site’s financial how-tos then!

3 Things to Consider Before Taking Out Life Insurance

One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to take out life insurance. It will protect the people you will eventually leave behind, and it can also help far before then. However, you may not know exactly what you need in a life insurance policy.

There is a plethora of things to consider when taking out life insurance, but we have compiled the three most necessary. These three things to consider before taking out life insurance will be able to help you with your important decision.

How long do you need coverage?

You can decide to take out life insurance for a certain period of time, or a lifetime, depending on your needs. When you’re deciding on how long you need life insurance, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Why you’re purchasing the policy in the first place
  • If you’ve just had a child
  • If you’ve recently bought a house
  • What you will receive
  • What your family will receive

For example, if you have just had a little one join your family, you would likely go for a policy that covers you until they’re no longer financially dependent on you. That can range anywhere from 20-30 years if you plan to cover their college/graduate tuition. Then, it is much the same if you’ve just purchased a house.

Owners of a new home may want to consider looking at a 30-year policy because that is how long your mortgage usually is. If you only have a 20-year mortgage, it is also a good idea to go for a 30-year coverage just in case of refinancing or circumstances changing.

A beneficiary

Firstly, let’s understand what a beneficiary actually is. A beneficiary is someone who receives the proceeds from your life insurance policy. However, there are a few things to remember when you’re naming your beneficiaries, here are some options:

  • Choose one or multiple people
  • The trustee of a trust that you have set up
  • A charity or not-for-profit organization
  • A minor (be careful as sometimes they cannot receive funds)
  • Your estate (be careful as this may have tax implications

Because you are the one giving your assets away, you are named as the benefactor. This means, that with you in charge, you can decide on the who, what, when, where, and why of the assets you’re giving away. You need to make sure that you remain very specific about who receives it for the sake of your family and your wishes. It is also a great idea to consider no exam life insurance.

Insurance costs

There are plenty of costs associated with life insurance, but the cost you will pay greatly depends on several factors including:

  • Your age when you start your policy
  • Your health when you start your policy
  • Policy features (how long payments must continue)
  • The level of cover that is chosen
  • The type of cover that is chosen

In plenty of cases, a life insurance policy will actually cost less per month than what you pay for all of your streaming subscriptions.

4 Benefits of Leveraging an Alumni Network to Grow Your Business

Corporate alumni networks are one of the top reservoirs with a higher potential for business growth. Unlimited number of people have secured jobs through people they know, with several studies showing that about 60-80% of the job roles are earned through professional connections. Despite such networks being cost-effective and easy to build, they remain largely untapped. Your success in any alumni network depends on your understanding of the network-specific mechanics and the involved law of attraction.

So, can you leverage an alumni network for your business’s growth? Read on to find out the importance of a strong alumni network to your business.

4 Reasons Why an Alumni Network Matters to Your Business

When most people hear of alumni networks, they think about job connections. While this is one of the main benefits, a strong alumni network is beneficial to the businesspeople as well. Let’s look at some of the reasons why an alumni network should matter to you as a business owner.

  1. Guarantees a Robust Talent Pool

Any business can benefit immensely from a strong talent pool, there’s no doubt about that. Take the example of ex-PayPal employees; they make the who’s who of Silicon Valley. The PayPal alumni network comprises senior managers and founders of innovative brands like Tesla, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Members of an alumni network can offer resources, energy, and time in support of one of their own and this can be beneficial to your business if you are a member of such a network. For instance, in such networks, the members share updates on current roles, business opportunities, as well as projects they are working on. Therefore, you can expand your organization’s talent pipeline by ensuring that your employees are active in their alma mater.

  1. They Represent Your Brand

If you are the likes that do not keep in touch with ex-staff, you need to rethink about it. The fact that an employee left doesn’t make them an enemy. In fact, remaining in touch with such employees can grow your employee value proposition. Sharing the same sentiments, Reid Hoffman, the CEO of LinkedIn pointed out that ex-employees possess a high level of credibility compared to current employees, especially when they recommend your products or support your brand on social media platforms.

  1. Assists in Securing New Clients

One of the significance of being in a strong alumni network platform is the trust it builds. You will find it easier to secure new clients through a member of your alumni than doing it all by yourself. From a marketing angle, your alumni members are a great resource in your business because they build trust between your brand and clients easily. Therefore, keep such networks active and your business will get new referrals more often.

  1. Help You Rehire Quality Ex-employees

Rehiring outstanding ex-employees is considered a great business practice. In such a case, you save a lot in terms of costs and time compared to having to recruit someone fresh who doesn’t know your business processes.

There is a high tendency for companies to rehire an ex-employee because of the benefits that boomerang employees bring to the organization. For instance, such employees have highly diverse work experience, understand your company’s operations, and are probably more productive compared to the brand-new hires.

Nurture a Strong Alumni Network to Grow Your Business

Even with all these benefits, a large number of business owners are yet to take advantage of corporate alumni networks. If you have not encouraged your employees to participate in their alumni networks or if you are not a member of one, start today. It will come in handy for your business’s growth on matters of talent, clients, brand reorientation, and rehiring quality staff among other aspects.

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