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Let Go of Frugality: How Baby Boomers Can Responsibly Invest in Enjoyment

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Guest Article by Jim McKinley of moneywithjim.org.

Baby Boomers were raised by parents of the Great Depression, so frugality is in our nature. It’s one thing to be responsible, and it’s another entirely to live as if we are fighting poverty daily. For many of us, we can afford to indulge ourselves and truly make our lives enjoyable.

Help for Fixed Budgets

When we live on fixed budgets, following our dreams can be difficult. To free up cash, consider switching from traditional life insurance to a final expense life insurance policy. This is a more affordable option that will still protect your family in the future. These policies are easier to qualify for, yet give us the comfort of knowing our families will not go into debt over a funeral. Although this isn’t always the easiest step to take, knowing that everything is taken care of will take that weight off your shoulders and allow you to have a little fun.

Make a Plan for Your Health

Perhaps one of your most pressing concerns in your golden years will be staying on top of your health, so in order to grab life by the horns and enjoy this era of your life, take care early on to make sure your health needs will be covered now and in the future. Medicare is a boon for most seniors, so find a plan that meets your needs and budget if you haven’t already. Using a step-by-step online guide will help you make sense of the many different Medicare plans available to you, and show you exactly how to sign up for your perfect plan on Medicare.gov.

Travel Smart

One thing many of us aspire to do is travel. Unfortunately, costs can skyrocket, especially if we don’t take time to plan. Hotels are often unaffordable, but their rates drop when you visit during theoff-season. In fact, you don’t have to stay at a hotel; instead, why not immerse yourself in local culture by using non-traditional accommodation? This could mean using camper vans, Airbnb apartments, or even house sitting. Should you go abroad, book plane tickets in advance, and aim for a Tuesday travel date. Wherever you go, plan out what you want to do before you arrive. That way, you can find free or inexpensive attractions while exploring something new and exciting.

Go Secondhand

Have you always wanted to ski, but balk at the cost of all the equipment? Stop by your local thrift store and see what sporting goods they have. You may have longed for nice jewelry or a designer coat, but you don’t have to spend big on these pricey items. Instead, buy them secondhand. They’re often in pristine condition or need just a bit of cleaning. The best part is that no one will know you didn’t pay top dollar for them. Buying secondhand allows you to experience new things and remain fiscally responsible.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Now that we’re of the age to retire, many of us have more free time than we’re used to. One excellent way to use that time is to adopt a pet. Pets of all varieties are beneficial to us. They keep us happy, energized, and active. In fact, being around pets relieves stress and can even decrease our risk of heart disease. However, don’t go out and buy an expensive puppy. Even if you want a particular breed, you can adopt a rescue for a fraction of the price. What’s more, rescue pets are often already housebroken, which saves you the effort of potty training. Best of all, you’re saving an animal from being put down, because shelters are perpetually overcrowded.

Transform Your Home

Are there projects you have always wanted to do, but could never justify? Now is the time. It doesn’t take a lot of money, and many jobs can be doneyourself. For example, you can transform the feel of each room by adding crown molding, or put in plantation shutters for a touch of class and to make cleaning easier. Look outside the home, too. You may want to transform a grass lawn into a lushgarden. This has added benefits, as gardening is a fun and healthy way to stay active.

While it’s smart to be sensible, we don’t need to deny ourselves fun. There are clever ways we can save money and have a great time, too. Plan accordingly, and soon, you’ll be living the life you have always dreamed of.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The Business & Tax Benefits of Westchester County

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Thinking of starting a business?

Westchester County is the perfect place to start a business. There are lots of countywide programs to get your business off the ground and geographical benefits from being in Westchester County.

Proximity to NYC

Depending on where you are in Westchester County, you’ll be close to the bustling economic center of New York City without having to deal with commuting to the city.

You’ll also be located close to Connecticut and parts of upstate New York.

That means you’ll be within drivable range for all of these areas.

Get Ahead With Westchester’s IDA Program Benefits

Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) can help you grow or start your business.

Use the benefits from this program to:

  • Build or renovate office parks or buildings
  • Develop mixed-use projects including hotels, marketers, medical office space, etc.
  • Support extensive multi-family and multi-use residential

This past January, the agency funded $391 million worth of residential projects in 2019. They’ve helped get hundreds of businesses off the ground and have given them a variety of benefits. For more details, check out IDA’s website.

Tax Exemptions

The IDA agency can also provide exemptions for use and sales tax in the following areas:

  • Construction
  • Furnishings
  • Business equipment
  • Related capital improvements

Check out the policy here.

Westchester County wants businesses to move in, so find out what both the county and the town/city you’re in offers in the way of incentives.

Image: Fred Murphy/C.C 2.0

Preparing for Tax Season 2019

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We know it’s not even Christmas yet, but some of you are probably wondering what the new tax law will mean for your finances heading into 2018. The news can’t decide if the changes are good or bad, but the answer for you will depend on your individual circumstances. Here is some basic information to help give you an idea of what to expect, but don’t worry. This is what we do best.

Standard Deduction Doubled

You may be familiar with the standard deduction. Many people use it rather than itemizing. For 2018, the amount of the standard deduction will roughly double:

  • $12,000 for single filers, up from $6,350
  • $24,000 for married filing jointly, up from $12,700
  • $12,000 for married filing separately, up from $6,350
  • $18,000 for heads of household, up from $9,350

This means that many of you may receive more money back when you file your taxes. This increase is balanced by changes to many deductions.

Deductions and Exemptions Removed

The increase in the standard deduction is balanced by the removal of several individual deductions and exemptions, including all of the miscellaneous itemized deductions. Many of these apply to specific life circumstances, so they may or may not affect you. Examples include:

  • The personal exemption (an amount claimed against income for the filer and each dependent;
  • The unreimbursed employee business expense (when an employee pays business expenses out of their personal funds—such as nurses, salespeople, and educators); and
  • The home office deduction (for those who work out of their homes and pay for services related to their work).

Deductions Changed

While many deductions were removed, some of the most commonly used were preserved, though altered.

  • The mortgage interest deduction was limited going forward. It will only apply to a mortgage to purchase, renovate, or build your home up to $750,000 (up to $375,000 if married filing jointly).
  • The medical expenses deduction was made more accessible by lowering the floor to deduct such expenses from 10% of income down to 7.5% of income.
  • The child tax credit was expanded to $2,000 per qualifying child and is potentially refundable up to $1,400.

Conclusion

There are many changes starting with your 2018 taxes that will affect whether you get more or less back when you file. It can seem very confusing and overwhelming, but we are here to help you when the time comes. You don’t have to do it alone.

Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.