Four Money-Saving Mid-Year Financial Planning Tips
It’s almost exactly the mid-point of the year, which makes it prime time for a mid-year financial review. If you need some monetary motivation for evaluating your financial progress so far this year, you may want to think of mid-year planning as a series of potential money-saving opportunities, for example:
- Save tax dollars by evaluating your 401(k). Take a look at your current 401(k) contributions to see if you are on track to maximize your annual contributions. Making the maximum contributions this year is not only good for your retirement fund, but will also save you money by lowering your tax bill.
- Trim your budget. Make one or two small changes to your weekly or monthly expenditures. Skipping a meal out or your daily coffee run can save you a lot of money over the next six months.
- Fight financial fatigue from fees. Banks and credit card companies (not to mention all those online subscriptions you have) are always changing their fee structures—which may mean you aren’t even aware of some of the things you are paying for. Now is the time to take stock and cancel or downgrade the services you no longer need. Doing so will help you reduce fees and may save you considerable money.
- Ask about your tax estimate. You may be thinking that April wasn’t that long ago—and you are right—but the end of the year is already half-way here, and after that, you can’t impact your 2017 taxes. Now is the time to talk to our firm about your current tax situation and make any changes to increase your tax savings.
These are just four financial planning tips that can save you money before the end of the year. There are many other mid-year planning strategies that can increase your savings, too. Not sure where to start with your plan? Let us help you. Contact our firm today.
The recent “Wanna Cry” ransomware attack that paralyzed several large organizations in the U.S. and Europe is a solemn reminder that the risk of cyber security breaches is real. Every business owner should take steps to assess the type of cyber security threats their business could be subject to and how to avoid them. The tips below are a good place to start:
- Don’t underestimate the risks. Many small business owners are too busy taking care of day-to-day responsibilities to keep cyber security top of mind. This is a mistake—the greatest weapon against attacks is awareness and having a plan in place to prevent them. Reinforce prevention by incorporating a plan into employee onboarding and offering ongoing training.
- Make updating software a priority process. As the “Wanna Cry” attack taught us, updating your computer software is an essential prevention strategy. Many of the infected computers at large organizations were not updated—leaving entire networks vulnerable when just a single computer was compromised. A regular schedule and protocols for updating software can help mitigate cyber security risks.
- Learn the signs of an attack and what to do about them. The most effective way to avoid falling victim to another Wanna Cry-like attack is to be aware of the type of emails that may contain ransomware or other viruses. These emails typically include an attachment (often a .zip file) that you didn’t ask for, and may come disguised as an email from someone you know. If in doubt, the best course of action is to delete the email immediately.
With the risk of cyber attacks growing by the day, it’s time to take action to protect your business. Educating your employees is key, as is updating your software on a regular basis. You may also want to ask an IT professional to help you evaluate and mitigate risk in this area.
Window washing, carpet cleaning, garden grooming—these are all popular spring cleaning chores for homeowners. However, with year-end and tax season behind you, this time of year is also perfect for spring cleaning at the office. These tips will help you and your staff get—and keep—that “just cleaned my office” feeling:
Start with a clean sweep of your desk. Take an hour or two and ruthlessly cut the clutter by emptying all of your desk drawers, sorting out only what you need, and shredding or recycling the rest of your papers.
Knock-out the knick-knacks. If your desk “mementos” are covered with dust and rarely given a glance, you know what to do: take them home or, if appropriate, donate them to a charity.
Digitize your documents. If you haven’t already, move your files to cloud storage. Make a list of the documents you need to store or access on a regular basis, then evaluate your cloud-based file storage options to see which platform will best suit your needs.
Corral your online credentials. LastPass and other online password-saving applications can save you time, while also eliminating the need to keep sticky notes and paper lists of passwords on your desk.
Declutter your desk daily. Once you have invested the time to spring clean your desk and office, spend a minute or two at the end of each day to do a quick tidy up in order to preserve your pristine work area.
Spring cleaning your office is not just a feel-good activity. Studies have shown that a neat and orderly office space leads to improved productivity and efficiency, which means you may be able to leave the office a few minutes early to enjoy warmer weather or to continue your cleaning spree at home.
We’ve performed services for more than 300 insurance companies, and this week we want to share some free tips exclusively with you. This Friday at 10 am, we will be hosting an Introduction to IMR/AVR webinar. Topics covered during the webinar will include overview analysis, similarities, differences, and components thereof.
With just a few weeks to go until Tax Day on April 18th, it’s time to make sure that you’re on track to get your individual return filed.
If you haven’t already engaged our firm to help you with your taxes and you need assistance, don’t delay…it’s time to let us know!
While tax season can be stressful, Tax Day itself can be quite rewarding if you consider some of the Tax Day freebies that are available across the country. For example, according to the website DealsPlus.com—Kona Ice, Great American Cookie, Boston Market, Target and many other businesses are offering discounts or free items to help ease the pain associated with paying taxes.
If you need a little light at the end of the proverbial “tax season tunnel” as April 18th approaches, keep these Tax Day treats in mind. You may want to check your local area for other free or discounted goodies available that day, too.
We are excited to welcome Dale Carpenter, CPA to the Lexington Office!
Dale holds the Certified Public Accountant license in 3 states – North Carolina, West Virginia, and Alabama. He joins Rives as a senior tax manager and serves a wide variety of individual, partnership, corporate, not-for-profit, and fiduciary clients.
His tax practice extends beyond the traditional tax compliance work, and includes tax planning, consulting and advisory services. His experience includes closely held businesses as well as a variety of specific client industries including healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, construction, trucking, and consumer products in wholesale and retail sales. With over 33 years of experience in public accounting, his accumulated experience allows him to provide his clients with a broad range of technical skills to address issues in taxation ranging from strategic tax planning to diverse tax compliance. Dale also has experience auditing, reviewing and compiling financial statements.
Dale will be a great addition to our growing firm!
Do You Sit All Day? Take a Stand Against a Sedentary Lifestyle
The average American sits a lot. Many of us sit while we work, while we relax and while we learn. Over the long term, this sedentary way of life can have a negative impact on our health, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer—in addition to shortening life spans. To counteract these negative effects, it’s important to get up, get active and get moving!
Even if you engage in a formal exercise program, it’s usually not enough to reverse the negative health effects of sitting most of the day, but it is a big step in the right direction. If your physician clears you to exercise, try doing a daily workout or at least exercise as often as you can throughout the week. Then use these tips to incorporate more movement throughout your day:
• Set a timer to get up every 30 minutes and stand, walk or stretch.
• If you sit at a desk, try a standing desk.
• Swap out your chair for an exercise ball to engage your muscles.
• Use part or all of your lunch break to take a walk.
• Walk places that are within a reasonable distance instead of sitting in a car.
• Use the stairs; they require extra effort, which helps to improve your health.
• Instead of fast forwarding through commercials when you watch your shows, use this time to take a break from sitting.
Taking a stand against excessive sitting may take a little bit of effort, but it will add years to your life and make you feel more energized while improving your health.