FINANCIAL FOCUS – During Holidays, Be Extra Vigilant About Protecting Financial Data

To help achieve your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you should save and invest regularly. But that’s only part of the picture. You also need to protect your financial assets in various ways. One such method is guarding your personal information – especially any information that could be linked to your financial accounts. It’s obviously important to be vigilant at any time, but you need to be even more on your toes during the holiday season, when fraudsters are particularly active.

So, to help keep your important data under wraps during the holidays, consider these suggestions:

  • Extend your protection to all mobile devices. Identity thieves can now compromise your mobile devices by installing spyware that steals usernames, passwords and credit card information. Fortunately, you can fight back. By doing a little research online, you can find the best mobile security software for your needs.
  • Use multiple passwords. Online security specialists recommend that you use different passwords for each new online shopping site you visit during the holiday season. Although this might seem like a hassle, it can be helpful, because even if identity thieves were to grab one of your new passwords, they still couldn’t use it for other sites you may visit. And you can even find a free online program that can help you keep track of all your passwords.
  • Be suspicious of “huge savings.” It happens every holiday season – identity thieves develop fake sites with attractive graphics and stunningly low prices on a variety of items, especially digital devices. If you fall for these pitches, you won’t get any merchandise, but you might get a handful of headaches once the bad guys have your credit card number and other personal information. To prevent this, be wary of any deal that sounds too good to be true, and do some digging on the websites that offer these mega-savings.
  • Watch for fake shipping notices. During the holidays, when you may do a lot of online shopping, you will probably receive some legitimate shipping notices. But the bad guys have gotten pretty good at generating fake notices designed to resemble those from UPS, FedEx and even the U.S. Postal Service. If you were to click on the link provided by one of these bogus notices, you could either take on some malware or get taken to a “phishing” website created by the shipping notice forgers. Your best defense: Only shop with legitimate merchants and only use the tracking numbers given to you in the email you received immediately after making your purchases.
  • Keep your Social Security number to yourself. As a general rule, don’t give out your Social Security number online — to anyone. No legitimate retailer needs this number.

Finally, be aware that not all attempts at stealing your personal information will come online. When you’re out shopping at old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar stores, consider bringing just one credit card with you — and protect that card from prying eyes.

By following these precautions, you should be able to greatly reduce the risk of being victimized by identity thieves and other miscreants. And the more comfortable you are in doing your holiday shopping, the more you can enjoy the season.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Share Your Financial “Abundance” With Your Family?

Thanksgiving is almost here. Ideally, this day should be about more than football and the imminent arrival of Black Friday mega-sales. After all, the spirit of the holiday invites us to be grateful for what we have and for the presence of our loved ones.

But it’s important to look beyond just one day in November if you want your family to take part in your “abundance.” If you want to ensure your financial resources eventually are shared in the way you envision, you will need to follow a detailed action plan, including these steps:

  • Identify your assets. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of all your financial assets – your retirement accounts (401(k) and IRA), other investments, life insurance, real estate, collectibles and other items. Once you know exactly what you have, you can determine how you would like these assets distributed among your loved ones.
  • Get professional help. To ensure your assets go to the right people, you will need to create some legal documents, such as a will and a living trust. The depth and complexity of these instruments will depend a great deal on your individual circumstances, but in any case, you certainly will need to consult with a legal professional because estate planning is not a “do-it-yourself” endeavor. You may also need to work with a tax professional and your financial advisor, as taxes and investments are key components of the legacy you hope to leave.
  • Protect your financial independence. If your own financial resources were to become endangered, you clearly would have less to share with your loved ones, and if your financial independence were jeopardized, the result might be even worse – your adult children might be forced to use their own resources to help support you. Consequently, you will need to protect yourself, and your financial assets, in several ways. For one thing, you may want to work with your legal professional to create a power of attorney, which would enable someone – possibly a grown child – to make financial decisions for you, should you become incapacitated. Also, you may want to guard yourself against the devastating costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay. Medicare typically pays very little of these expenses, but a financial advisor may be able to suggest techniques or products that can help.
  • Communicate your wishes. Once you have all your plans in place, you’ll want to communicate them to your loved ones. By doing so, you’ll be sparing your loved ones from unpleasant surprises when it’s time to settle your estate. And, second, by making your plans and wishes known to your family well in advance of when any action needs to be taken, you’ll prepare your loved ones for the roles you wish them to assume, such as taking on power of attorney, serving as executor of your estate, and so on. And you’ll also want to make sure your family is acquainted with the legal, tax and financial professionals you’ve chosen to help you with your estate plans.

Thanksgiving comes just once a year. Taking the steps described here can help ensure your family will share in your financial abundance as you intended.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stampeding Bull Market May Slow Down … So Be Prepared

As you know, we’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever – and when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared.

Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:

  • Length – This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second-oldest in the past 100 years – and it’s about twice as long as the average bull market.
  • Strength – Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5% per year.

While these figures are impressive, they aren’t necessarily predictive – so how much longer can this bull market continue to “stampede”? No one can say for sure, but there’s no mandatory expiration date for bull markets – in fact, they don’t generally die of old age, but typically expire either because of a recession or the bursting of a bubble, such as the “dot.com” bubble of 2000 or the housing bubble of 2007. And right now, most market experts don’t see either event on the near-term horizon.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect an uninterrupted streak of big gains. Some signs point to greater market volatility and lower returns. To navigate this changing landscape, think about these suggestions:

  • Consider rebalancing your portfolio. If appropriate, you may want to rebalance your investment mix to ensure you have a reasonable percentage of stocks – to help provide the growth you need to achieve your goals – and enough fixed-income vehicles, such as bonds, to help reduce your portfolio’s vulnerability to market volatility and potential short-term downturns.
  • Look beyond U.S. borders. At any given time, U.S. stocks may be doing well, while international stocks are slumping – and vice versa. So, when volatility hits the U.S. markets – as it surely will, at some time – you can help reduce the impact on your portfolio if you also own some international equities. Keep in mind, though, that international investments bring some specific risks, such as currency fluctuations and foreign political and economic events.
  • Develop a strategy. You may want to work with a financial professional to identify a strategy to cope with a more turbulent investment atmosphere. Such a strategy can keep you from overreacting to market downturns and possibly even help you capitalize on short-term pullbacks. You could invest systematically by putting the same amount of money in the same investments each month. When prices go up, your investment dollars will buy fewer shares, and when prices drop, you’ll buy more shares. And the more shares you own, the greater your potential for accumulation. However, this strategy, sometimes known as dollar cost averaging, won’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, and you need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

During a raging bull market, it’s not all that hard for anyone to invest successfully. But it becomes more challenging when the inevitable volatility and market downturns appear. Making the moves described above can help you keep moving toward your goals – even when the “bull” has taken a breather.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Checklist for Helping You Choose a Financial Professional

For reasons likely to remain obscure, October 30 is Checklist Day. But while the origins of this observance may be a mystery, the value of checklists is clear: They help us organize our time and break large jobs into manageable steps. You can use a checklist for just about any significant endeavor – including the task of choosing a financial professional to help you achieve your important goals.

Here’s what such a checklist might look like:

__Find someone with the proper credentials. Make sure a prospective financial professional has the appropriate securities registrations.

__Find someone who has worked with people like you. You’ll want to seek out a financial professional who has experience working with people in circumstances similar to yours – that is, people of your financial status and with essentially the same goals and attitudes toward investing.

­__Find someone who will communicate with you regularly. During the course of your relationship with a financial professional, you will have many questions: Are my investments performing as they should? Should I change my investment mix? Am I still on track to meet my long-term goals? Plus, you will have changes in your life – new children, new jobs, new activities – that will affect your financial picture and that need to be communicated to your financial professional. Consequently, you need to be sure that whomever you work with is easy to reach and will be in regular contact with you. Many financial professionals meet with their clients at least once a year to discuss the clients’ portfolios and recommend changes, as needed, and also make themselves available, through phone calls and email, for any questions or concerns their clients may have.

__Find someone who will honor your preferences. Some financial professionals follow certain philosophies. For example, you might find one advisor who tends to favor aggressive investing, while another one might be more conservative. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, but you’ll want to be sure that your preferences take precedence in all recommendations and guidance you receive from a financial professional. And many professionals won’t express any of their own preferences at all, but will instead follow a course of action based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

__Find someone connected to other professionals. Your investment plans don’t exist in a vacuum. Over time, you will likely need to integrate elements of your investment strategy with your tax and estate planning strategies. When this happens, you may find it advantageous to have a financial professional who can work with tax and legal professionals to help you meet all your needs in these areas.

__Find someone whose compensation structure is acceptable to you. Financial professionals get paid in different ways – through fees, commissions or a combination of both. Which method is best for you, as an investor? There’s no one “right” answer – but you will certainly want to understand exactly how your financial professional will get paid and how this pay structure will affect your interactions with him or her.

You may find this checklist to be useful when you interview financial professionals. Take your time and make sure you’re confident about your ultimate choice. After all, you’re hiring someone to help you reach your key goals, such as a comfortable retirement, so you’ll want to get the right person on your side.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Put Lessons From “Retirement Week” to Work

To raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement, Congress has designated the third week of October as National Save for Retirement Week. What lessons can you learn from this event?

First of all, save early – and save often. Too many people put off saving for retirement until they are in their late 40s – and even their 50s. If you wait until you are in this age group, you can still do quite a bit to help build the resources you will need for retirement – but it will be more challenging than if you had begun saving and investing while you were in your 20s or early 30s. For one thing, if you delay saving for retirement, you may have to put away large sums of money each year to accumulate enough to support a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Plus, to achieve the growth you need, you might have to invest more aggressively than you’d like, which means taking on more risk. And even then, there are no guarantees of getting the returns you require.

On the other hand, if you start saving and investing when you are still in the early stages of your career, you can make smaller monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. And by putting time on your side, you’ll be able to take advantage of compounding – the ability to earn money on your principal and your earnings.

Here’s another lesson to be taken from National Save for Retirement Week: Maximize your opportunities to invest in the tax-advantaged retirement accounts available to you, such as an IRA and a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you have a 401(k)-type plan at work, contribute as much as you can afford every year, and increase your contributions whenever your salary goes up. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

Apart from saving and investing early and contributing to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, how else can you honor the spirit of National Save for Retirement Week? A key step you can take is to reduce the barriers to building your retirement savings. One such obstacle is debt. The larger your monthly debt payments, the less you will be able to invest each month. It’s not easy, of course, to keep your debt under control, but do the best you can.

One other barrier to accumulating retirement resources is the occasional large expense resulting from a major car repair, sizable medical bills or other things of that nature. If you constantly have to dip into your long-term investments to meet these costs, you’ll slow your progress toward your retirement goals. To help prevent this from happening, try to build an emergency fund big enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Since you’ll need instant access to this money, you’ll want to keep it in a liquid, low-risk account.

So, there you have them: some suggestions on taking the lessons of National Save for Retirement Week to heart. By following these steps, you can go a long way toward turning your retirement dreams into reality.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – International Investing: Still a Journey to Consider

Columbus Day is observed on October 9. And while it may be true that Leif Erikson and the Vikings beat Columbus to the New World, Columbus Day nonetheless remains important in the public eye, signifying themes such as exploration and discovery. As an investor, you don’t have to “cross the ocean blue,” as Columbus did, to find opportunities – but it may be a good idea to put some of your money to work outside the United States.

So, why should you consider investing internationally? The chief reason is diversification. If you only invest in U.S. companies, you might do well when the U.S. markets are soaring, as has happened in recent years. But when the inevitable downturn happens, and you’re totally concentrated in U.S. stocks, your portfolio will probably take a hit. At the same time, however, other regions of the world might be doing considerably better than the U.S. markets – and if you had put some of your investment holdings in these regions, you might at least blunt some of the effects of the down market here.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to diversify among different asset classes, so, in addition to investing in U.S. and international stocks, you’ll want to own bonds, government securities and other investment vehicles. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of volatility, it can’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss.)

International investments, like all investments, will fluctuate in value. But they also have other characteristics and risks to consider, such as these:

  • Currency fluctuations – The U.S. dollar rises and falls in relation to the currencies of other countries. Sometimes, these movements can work in your favor, but sometimes not. A strengthening dollar typically lowers returns from international investments because companies based overseas do business in a foreign currency, and the higher value of the U.S. dollar reduces the prices, measured in dollars, of individual shares of these companies’ stocks. The opposite has happened in 2017, when the weaker dollar has helped increase returns from international investments.
  • Political risks – When you invest internationally, you’re not just investing in foreign companies – you’re also essentially investing in the legal and economic systems of countries in which those companies do business. Political instability or changes in laws and regulations can create additional risks – but may also provide potentially positive returns for investors.
  • Social and economic risks – It is not always easy for investors to understand all the economic and social factors that influence markets in the U.S. – and it’s even more challenging with foreign markets.

U.S. markets are now worth less than half of the total world markets, and growth in the rest of the world is likely to keep expanding the number of global opportunities. You can take advantage of that global growth by putting part of your portfolio into international investments, including developed and emerging markets.

In any case, given the more complex nature of international investing, you’ll want to consult with a financial professional before taking action. If it turns out that international investments are appropriate for your needs, you should certainly consider going global.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Consider Multiple Factors When Creating Retirement Plans

When you create your financial and investment strategies for retirement, what will you need to know? In other words, what factors should you consider, and how will these factors affect your investment-related decisions, before and during your retirement?

Consider the following:

  • Age at retirement – Not surprisingly, your retirement date likely will be heavily influenced by your financial situation – so, if you have to keep working, that’s what you’ll do. But if you have a choice in the matter, your decision could have a big impact on your investment strategy. For example, if you want to retire early, you may need to save and invest more aggressively than you would if you plan to work well past typical retirement age. Also, your retirement date may well affect when you start accepting Social Security payments; if you retire early, you might have to start taking your benefits at age 62, even though your monthly checks will be considerably smaller than if you waited until your “full” retirement age, which is likely to be 66 or 67.
  • Retirement lifestyle – Some people want to spend their retirement years traveling from Athens to Zanzibar, while others simply want to stay close to home and family, pursuing quiet, inexpensive hobbies. Clearly, the lifestyle you choose will affect how much you need to accumulate before you retire and how much you will need to withdraw from your various investment accounts once you do.
  • Second career – Some people retire from one career only to begin another. If you think you’d like to have a “second act” in your working life, you might need some additional training, or you might just put your existing expertise to work as a consultant. If you do launch a new career, it could clearly affect your financial picture. For one thing, if you add a new source of earned income, you might be able to withdraw less from your retirement accounts each year. (Keep in mind, though, that once you reach 70 ½, you will have to take at least some withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.) On the other hand, if you keep earning income, you can continue putting money into a traditional IRA (until you’re

70 ½) or a Roth IRA (indefinitely) and possibly contribute to a retirement plan for the self-employed, such as a SEP-IRA or an “owner-only” 401(k).

  • Philanthropy – During your working years, you may have consistently donated money to charitable organizations. And once you retire, you may want to do even more. For one thing, of course, you can volunteer more of your time. But you also might want to set up some more permanent method of financial support. Consequently, you might want to work with your legal advisor and financial professional to incorporate elements of your investment portfolio into your estate plans to provide more support for charitable groups.

As you can see, your retirement goals can affect your investment strategy – and vice versa. So, think carefully about what you want to accomplish, plan ahead and get the help you need. It takes time and effort to achieve a successful retirement, but it’s worth it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Here’s Your Retirement Countdown

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If you want to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you don’t need to have been born rich or even to have earned scads of money during your working years. But you do need to make the right moves at the right time – which means you might want to start a “retirement countdown” well before you draw your final paycheck.

What might such a countdown look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • Ten years before retirement – At this stage of your career, you might be at, or at least near, your peak earning capacity. At the same time, your kids may have grown and left the home, and you might even have paid off your mortgage. All these factors, taken together, may mean that you can afford to “max out” on your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. And that’s exactly what you should do, if you can, because these retirement accounts offer tax benefits and the opportunity to spread your dollars around a variety of investments.
  • Five years before retirement – Review your Social Security statement to see how much you can expect to receive each month at various ages. You can typically start collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be significantly larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be 66 (and a few months) or 67. Your payments will be bigger still if you can afford to wait until 70, at which point your benefits reach their ceiling. In any case, you’ll need to weigh several factors – your health, your family history of longevity, your other sources of retirement income – before deciding on when to start taking Social Security.
  • One to three years before retirement – To help increase your income stream during retirement, you may want to convert some – but likely not all – of your growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, into income-producing ones, such as bonds. Keep in mind, though, that even during your retirement years, you’ll still likely need your portfolio to provide you with some growth potential to help keep you ahead of inflation.
  • One year before retirement – Evaluate your retirement income and expenses. It’s particularly important that you assess your health-care costs. Depending on your age at retirement, you may be eligible for Medicare, but you will likely need to pay for some supplemental coverage as well, so you will need to budget for this.

Also, as you get closer to your actual retirement date, you will need to determine an appropriate withdrawal rate for your investments. How much should you take each year from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts? The answer depends on many factors: the size of these accounts, your retirement lifestyle, your projected longevity, whether you’ve started taking Social Security, whether your spouse is still working, and so on. A financial professional can help you determine an appropriate withdrawal rate.

These aren’t the only steps you need to take before retirement, nor do they need to be taken in the precise order described above. But they can be useful as guidelines for a retirement countdown that can help ease your transition to the next phase of your life.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Five Tips for Women Business Owners

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Women are an integral part of the workforce, but they have had to overcome many obstacles along the way. Of course, challenges still remain, but women’s success in the working world is worth commemorating – which will happen on American Business Women’s Day Sept. 22. Are you a woman considering “setting up shop” on your own?  If so, here are five tips to consider:

  • Balance your goals. It’s possible – perhaps even likely – that your business goals will conflict with your personal financial goals. After all, if you’re purchasing new equipment or services for your business, you’ve got less money – at least for the time being – to put away for your own retirement or your children’s education. Hopefully, your investment in your business will pay off in greater income, but, in any case, you will need to balance your personal and professional goals.
  • Create a retirement plan. As mentioned above, your ability to contribute to a retirement plan may be affected by the amount you put into your business – but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a retirement plan. In fact, for your future financial security, it’s essential that you launch such a plan. Fortunately, small-business owners have a choice of plans, including an “owner-only” 401(k), SEP-IRA and SIMPLE IRA. Although the various plans have different requirements and contribution limits, they all offer tax-deferred earnings, which means your money has the opportunity to grow faster than if it were placed in a vehicle on which you paid taxes every year. (Taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) Plus, your contributions to a retirement plan may be tax deductible.
  • Arrange for “backup.” Virtually all working women are familiar with the conflict between their careers and their roles as caregivers. Women are still more likely than men to drop out of the workforce for an extended period of time to care for young children or elderly parents. And your caregiving responsibilities won’t end just because you are now a business owner. Consequently, you need to have someone you trust available to step in for you when your family obligations call you away from work.
  • Design a succession plan. When you want to retire, would you like to keep the business in your family? If so, you’ll need to create a succession plan that works for you and whomever you’d like to take control. Such a plan can be complex, so you will need to work with your legal and tax advisors – and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to work out the details.
  • Build an emergency fund. Maintaining an adequate cash flow will always be a key task – one that involves your sales, billing cycles, inventory and other elements of your business. One way you can help yourself avoid troubles is to maintain an emergency fund consisting of a few months’ worth of your business expenses. You’ll want to keep this fund in a liquid, low-risk account.

Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but it’s never going to be an easy road. However, with perseverance and careful planning, you can smooth out some of the bumps along the way — and give yourself reason to celebrate American Business Women’s Day.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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FINANCIAL FOCUS – Protect Three Key Goals With Life Insurance

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September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. And “awareness” is an appropriate designation, because many people remain unaware of the many ways in which life insurance can help families meet their key financial goals. Here are three of the biggest of these objectives, as seen through the eyes of a hypothetical couple, Jim and Joan:

  • Pay off mortgage – Jim and Joan have a 30-year mortgage. If one of them dies well before that mortgage is paid off, could the other one afford to keep making payments to remain in the house with the children? It might be quite difficult – many families absolutely need two incomes to pay a mortgage, along with all the other costs of living. At the very least, the death of either Jim or Joan would likely put an enormous financial strain on the surviving spouse. But with the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the survivor could continue making the house payments – or possibly even pay the mortgage off completely, depending on the size of the policy and other financial considerations.
  • Educate children – Higher education is important to Jim and Joan, and they’d like to see both of their young children eventually go to college. Of course, college is expensive: For the 2016-17 school year, the average cost (tuition, fees, room and board) was about $20,000 for in-state students at public universities and more than $45,000 for private schools, according to the College Board. And these costs are likely to continue climbing. Jim and Joan have started putting money away in a tax-advantaged 529 savings plan, but if something were to happen to one of them, the surviving spouse might be hard pressed to continue these savings at the same level – or at any level. But the proceeds of a life insurance death benefit could be enough to fund some, or perhaps all, of the college costs for Jim and Joan’s children.
  • Provide for family’s future – Jim and Joan’s future income is their most valuable asset as they continue working. However, an unexpected death could leave this dual-income family with a single income that may not cover all financial obligations and retirement contributions – or even preserve the family’s current lifestyle. Life insurance could help cover these needs. Plus, the death benefit to the family may be tax-free.

Clearly, a life insurance policy could allow Jim or Joan to continue on with life, despite, of course, the devastating emotional loss of a partner. But how much insurance should they own? You might read that most people need a death benefit of seven to 10 times their annual income. This might be a good starting point, but everyone’s situation is different. You should consider all factors – including liabilities, income replacement, final expenses and education – to get an accurate picture of how much insurance is appropriate. A financial professional can help you with this calculation.

During Life Insurance Awareness Month, take some to time review your insurance situation. You may already have some life insurance, but it’s a good idea to review your coverage to make certain the amount and type of insurance is still appropriate for your needs.  As we’ve seen, the right coverage can make a huge difference in the lives of your loved ones.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

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5 Tips to Recapture Your Wealth

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Did you know that many American’s transfer away between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000 of their wealth over a lifetime.  Yes, millions according to U.S. News and World Report.

Could you be one of them?

The truth is we will all transfer away wealth but we all have the opportunity to recapture a good chunk of that if we know the rules of the game.

After 20 years of working in almost every capacity in the financial industry, I have learned one important thing:  the rules of the game are not taught to us.

Why?  I will let you draw your own conclusions, but hope these points will help you make better financial decisions and allow you to recapture some of your hard-earned money.

First, what are the major wealth transfers in someone’s financial life:  taxes, fees paid to financial firms and the cost educating college students.

Here are few tips that could help you recapture that money:

  1. If you are invested in mutual funds, STOP until you know the costs. According to this benchmark Forbes article: The Real Costs of Owning a Mutual Fund, an average fund can have up to 2.5% – 3.25% of internal costs. Compounded over time can equal a lot of money. That is why, according to a Dalbar study, the average equity mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 3.66% in 2015.  If you factor in buying and selling at the wrong times it should be no surprise the average retail investor underperforms the market by over 6%.
  2. Your typical stockbroker is not your friend but your fiduciary always works in your best interest. Most people do not know there are two different standards with which advisors do business.  This funny video will explain the difference in less than 30 seconds.  Afterwards, ask your advisor.
  3. Colleges act like businesses and there is a practice in the industry known as enrollment management that should change the way you think about planning your student’s education. With the average cost ranging from $24,385 for public school to $73,286 for elite colleges annually, a student taking longer than four years to graduate (and the average student loan debt per student of $37,0000) must focus more on SAVING ON THE COST of college than saving for college.  The college planning process has changed, and families need a new approach to recapture and lower their costs.  If you have two kids you very well could pay $150,000 to $250,000 for their education hoping they graduate in four years.  See if this new approach to college planning makes sense to you:  Know before you go, a new approach to college planning.
  4. Is your CPA a tax preparer or a tax planner? Think about it, most good CPAs are focused on saving you money today so they look good and will get your repeat business next year. How to tell if your CPA is a good one from this Forbes article: Red flags, how to know your CPA is working for you or not.
  5. Paying an advisor 1% or more to manage your money is a loser’s game. Most families don’t know all of the services an advisor should be providing and what is the true value.  According to this Vanguard study, a great advisor will help you potentially net about 3% in additional returns.  Now that is a deal, but so often most firms do not provide the additional services a family deserves.

Hopefully, you have found something in this post that will change your financial life so you can spend and enjoy more of your money!

If you want to learn more, please feel free to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your situation.  Schedule Your Call.

Article written by STUART CANZERI
You can reach Stuart at (404) 477-1770 or canzeri@peachtreefg.com

STUART CANZERI

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Brighten Your Grandchildren’s Financial Future

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may get more attention, but National Grandparents Day, observed on Sept. 10, has gained in popularity. If you’re a grandparent, you might expect to receive some nice cards, but if you want to make the day especially meaningful, you may want to consider giving some long-lasting financial gifts to your grandchildren.

What might come to mind first, of course, is helping your grandchildren pay for college. You can choose from several college savings vehicles, but you may be especially interested in a 529 savings plan. With a 529 plan, your earnings accumulate tax free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, books, and room and board. (Keep in mind that 529 plan distributions not used for qualified expenses may be subject to federal and state income taxes and a 10% IRS penalty on the earnings.) You may be eligible for a state income tax incentive for contributing to a 529 plan. Check with your tax advisor regarding these incentives, as well as all tax-related issues pertaining to 529 plans.

One benefit of using a 529 plan is contribution limits are quite generous. Plus, a 529 plan is flexible: If your grandchild decides against college, you can transfer the plan to another beneficiary.

Generally, a 529 plan owned by a grandparent won’t be reported as an asset on the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but withdrawals from the plan are treated as untaxed income to the beneficiary (i.e., your grandchild) — and that has a big impact on financial aid, a much bigger impact than if the plan was listed as a parental asset. Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, however, FAFSA now requires families to report income from two years before the school year starts, rather than income from the prior calendar year. Consequently, it might be beneficial, from a financial aid standpoint, for you, as a grandparent, to start paying for college expenses from a 529 plan in the year in which your grandchild becomes a junior. Contact a financial aid professional about the potential financial aid impact of any gifts you’re considering.

A 529 plan isn’t the only financial gift you could give to your grandchildren. You might also consider giving them shares of stock, possibly held in a custodial account, usually known as an UTMA or UGMA account. One possible drawback: You only control a custodial account until your grandchildren reach the age of majority, at which time they can use the money for whatever they want, whereas distributions from a 529 savings plan must be used for qualified higher education expenses.

Still, your grandchildren might be particularly interested in owning the stocks contained in the custodial account – most young people enjoy owning shares of companies that make familiar products. And to further interest your grandchildren in a lifetime of investing, you may want to show them how a particular stock you’ve owned for decades has grown over time. Naturally, you’ll also want to let them know that stocks can move up and down in the short term, and there are no guarantees of profits – but the long-term growth potential of stocks is still a compelling story.

You’d probably do whatever you could for your grandchildren – and with a smart financial gift, you can make a big difference in their lives.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Are You a “Hardworking” Investor?

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Next week, we observe Labor Day, a celebration of the American worker. You work hard your whole life with the hope that your efforts will ultimately allow you to achieve your financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But for that to happen, you may need to apply some of the lessons of the workplace to your efforts as an investor.

So, what are these lessons? Here are a few to consider:

  • Be consistent. The most successful workers are the ones who show up, day after day, and strive to overcome the inevitable obstacles that crop up. As an investor, you, too, need to be consistent in your habits – which means you should keep investing in all types of markets. If you take a “time out” every time the market drops, you might end up missing opportunities when the next rally begins.
  • Be flexible. When good workers see that something is not going well, they change what they’re doing. And when you invest, you also may need to make adjustments. If an investment has consistently underperformed, or if you have too many others very similar to it, or if it just doesn’t meet your needs anymore, you may be better off by selling it and using the proceeds to invest elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you should constantly be buying and selling — in fact, you’ll likely be better off by purchasing quality investments and holding them for the long term. But you need to be flexible enough to make the appropriate moves at the appropriate times.
  • Be informed. The best workers are those who regularly update their skills and acquire knowledge that helps them do their jobs better. As an investor, you should also keep learning – about the investment world in general and about new opportunities for you to explore. And you should always understand what you are investing in – and why. Even if you work with a financial professional, you need to inform yourself about every aspect of your investment portfolio – after all, it’s your money and your future.
  • Be farsighted. Good workers not only know what they’re doing – they also can visualize the desired outcome of each task. And, of course, people who are in charge of a particular endeavor, or who are responsible for the fortunes of a business, have a clear view of what they want to accomplish, even if the achievement of that goal is many years in the future. When you invest, you also need to see where you want to go. If you can constantly keep in mind your long-term goals – such as the type of retirement lifestyle you desire – you will likely find it easier to stick with an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your needs and risk tolerance. Conversely, if you lose sight of your destination, you might be more prone to taking short-term detours, which could work against you.

Labor Day reminds us to appreciate the skills and dedication of all workers – and as an investor, you can put these same attributes to good use.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Can You Save for College and Retirement?

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Few of us have unlimited financial resources — which means that almost all of us need to prioritize our financial goals. Consequently, you’ll have some decisions to make if you’d like to help pay for your children’s college educations someday while, at the same time, saving for your own retirement.

Your first step in addressing these objectives is to maintain realistic expectations. Consider the issue of paying for college. Right now, the average four-year cost (tuition, fees, room and board) is about $80,000 for in-state students at public universities and approximately $180,000 for private schools, according to the College Board. And these costs are likely to keep rising in the years ahead. Can you save this much for your kids’ education?

Instead of committing yourself to putting away this type of money, take a holistic approach to saving for your children’s higher education. After all, you probably won’t be the only one to help pay for college. Depending on your income and assets, your family might be eligible for some needs-based financial aid awarded by the college. Also, you should encourage your children to apply for as many scholarships as possible — but keep in mind that most scholarships don’t provide a “full ride.”  Here’s the bottom line: Don’t assume you will receive so much aid that you don’t need to save for college at all, but don’t burden yourself with the expectation that you need to pick up the full tab for your children’s schooling.

On a practical level, you may want to commit to putting a certain amount per month into a college savings vehicle, such as a 529 plan. You can generally invest in the 529 plan offered by most states, but in some cases, you may be eligible for a state income tax incentive. Also, all withdrawals from 529 plans will be free from federal income taxes, as long as the money is used for a qualified college or graduate school expense of the beneficiary you’ve named. (Withdrawals for expenses other than qualified education expenditures may be subject to federal and state taxes and a 10% penalty on the earnings.)

By starting your 529 plan early, when your children are young, you’ll give the investments within the plan more time to grow. Plus, you can make smaller contributions on a regular basis, rather than come up with big lump sums later on. And by following this approach, you may be in a better financial position for investing in your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Obviously, it’s to your benefit to contribute as much as you can to these plans, which offer tax advantages and a wide range of investment options. If you’re investing in a 401(k) or similar employer-backed plan, try to boost your contributions every time your salary increases. At the very least, always put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.

And once your children are through with college, you can discontinue saving in your 529 plan (although you may want to open another one in the future for your grandchildren) and devote more money to your retirement accounts.

It can certainly be challenging to save for education and retirement – but with discipline and perseverance, it can be done. So, give it the “old college try.”

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Stay Calm on the Investment “Roller Coaster”

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Unless you live near an amusement park that does a lot of advertising, you probably didn’t know that Aug. 16 is National Roller Coaster Day. Actual roller coasters provide people with thrills. But as an investor, how can you stay calm on the “roller coaster” of the financial markets?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Know what’s in front of you. If you’ve ever ridden a roller coaster in the dark, you may find it scarier than if you boarded it in daylight – after all, it can be unsettling not to know where you’re going. The same can be said about investing: If you have no idea what’s in front of you, you might find the journey unnerving – and if that happens, you could make panicky decisions, which are usually bad ones. So prepare for the inevitable market volatility – it’s a normal part of the investment landscape.
  • Buckle up. When you’re on a roller coaster, you need to buckle your seat belt or use a restraint. You want to have the excitement of the ride, but you certainly don’t want to take unnecessary risks. And you can enjoy some of the excitement of investing without incurring more risk than you are comfortable with, too. One way to lower your risk level is to diversify across a range of investments – stocks, bonds, government securities, and so on. That way, if a market downturn primarily affects just one type of investment, you’ll have some protection. However, although diversification can reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio, it can’t protect against all losses or guarantee a profit.
  • Choose a strategy for the journey. Different people have different ways of handling a roller coaster ride. Some like to throw their hands up, enjoying the feeling of abandon, while others hold on tightly to the bar in front of them. When you invest, you also need a strategy that works for you, and the best one may be the simplest: Buy quality investments and hold them for the long term. How long is “long term”? It could be 10, 20, 30 years or more. Famed investor Warren Buffet says his favorite holding period is “forever.” If you’ve chosen a mix of quality investments appropriate for your risk tolerance, you may be able to hold them until either your goals change or the investments themselves undergo some transformation.
  • Stay for the whole “ride.” When you hop on a roller coaster, you’ve got no choice – you’re staying until the ride is over. As an investor, though, you can exit the investment world whenever you like. But if you take a “time out” from investing every time the market drops, you risk still being out of the market when it rallies – and the early stages of a rally are often when the biggest gains occur. Furthermore, if you keep investing during a “down” market, you’ll be buying shares when their price has dropped, which means your dollars can go further – and you’ll be following one of the basic rules of investing: “Buy low.”

You can’t take out all the twists and turns of the investment road, but by following the above suggestions, you can help make the ride less stressful – and possibly more rewarding.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can You Leave the Legacy You Desire?

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You may not see it in the greeting card section of your local drugstore, but August is “What Will Be Your Legacy Month.” So it’s a good time to think about the type of legacy you’d like to leave.

Of course, “legacy” can mean many things. In the broadest sense, your legacy is  how you will be remembered by your loved ones, friends and the communities to which you belong. On a practical level, establishing your legacy means providing your family and the charitable organizations you support with the resources you’d like them to have.

And that means you may need to take the following actions: create your plans, communicate your wishes and review and update your documents.

Let’s take a quick look at all these steps:

  • Create your plans. You will want to work with your legal professional, and possibly your tax and financial professionals, too, to draft the plans needed to fulfill your legacy wishes. These plans may include drafting a will, living trust, health care directive, power of attorney and other documents. Ideally, you want these plans to do more than just convey where you want your money to go – you want to impart, to the next generation, a sense of the effort that went into building the wealth they receive. Without such an appreciation, your heirs may be less than rigorous in retaining the tangible legacies you’ve left them.
  • Communicate your wishes. It’s important to communicate your legacy-related wishes to your family members as early as possible. By doing so, you can hopefully avoid unpleasant surprises and hurt feelings when it’s time for your estate to be settled – and you’ll also let people know what tasks, if any, they need to perform. For example, if you’re choosing a family member to be the executor of your estate, or if you’re giving someone power of attorney over your financial or health-related matters, they should be prepared.
  • Update your documents. During your life, you may well experience any number of changes – new marriage, new children, opening a family business, and so on. You need to make sure your legal documents and financial accounts reflect these changes. For example, if you’ve remarried, you may want to change the beneficiary designations on your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts – if left untouched, these designations may even supersede the instructions left in your will. And the directions in life chosen by your grown children may also dictate changes in your will or living trust. In any case, it’s a good idea to review all your legacy-related documents periodically, and update them as needed.

In addition to taking the above steps, you also need to protect the financial resources that go into your legacy. So, when you retire and begin taking funds from your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts, make sure your withdrawal rate is sufficient for your living expenses, but not so high that it eventually jeopardizes the amounts you planned to leave to your family or to your preferred charities. A financial professional can help you determine the withdrawal rate  appropriate for your situation.

With careful planning, and by making the right moves, you can create the type of legacy you desire – one that can benefit your loved ones far into the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Diversify Your Investments … But Consolidate Your Providers

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You have probably heard that diversification is a key to investment success. So, you might think that if diversifying your investments is a good idea, it might also be wise to diversify your investment providers – after all, aren’t two (or more) heads better than one?

Before we look at that issue, let’s consider the first half of the “diversification” question – namely, how does diversifying your investment portfolio help you?

Consider the two broadest categories of investments: stocks and bonds. Stock prices will move up and down in response to many different factors, including good or bad corporate earnings, corporate management issues, political developments and even natural disasters. Bond prices are not immune to these dynamics, but they are usually more strongly driven by changes in interest rates. To illustrate: If your existing bond pays 2 percent interest, and new bonds are being issued at 3 percent, the value of your bond will fall, because no one will pay you full price for it. (Of course, it may not matter to you anyway, especially if you planned to hold your bond until maturity, at which point you can expect to get your full investment back, providing the bond issuer doesn’t default.)

Here’s the key point: Stocks and bonds often move in different directions. If you only own U.S. stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn, but if you own domestic and international stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and other types of investments, your portfolio may be better protected against market volatility, and you’ll have more opportunities for positive results. (Keep in mind, though, that even a diversified portfolio can’t prevent all losses or guarantee profits.)

So, it clearly is a good idea to diversify your investment portfolio. Now, let’s move on to diversifying financial service providers. Why shouldn’t you have one IRA here and another one there, or enlist one advisor to help you with some types of investments and a different advisor assisting you with others?

Actually, some good reasons exist to consider consolidating all your investment accounts with one provider. For one thing, you’ll keep better track of your assets. Many people do misplace or forget about some of their savings and investments, but this will be far less likely to happen to you if you hold all your accounts in one place.

Also, if you have accounts with several different financial service providers, you might be incurring a lot of paperwork – and many fees. You can cut down on clutter and expense by consolidating your accounts.

But most important, by placing all your accounts with a single provider, possibly under the supervision of a single financial advisor, you will find it much easier to follow a single, unified investment strategy, based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.  You won’t get conflicting advice and you’ll receive clear guidance on important issues, such as the amounts you can afford to withdraw each year from your retirement accounts once you do retire.

Diversification and consolidation – one is good for building an investment portfolio, while the other can help you invest more efficiently and effectively. Put the two concepts together, and make them work for you.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Declare Your Financial Independence Day

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We’re getting close to the Fourth of July, when we celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this country. The U.S. constitution grants us many of these liberties, but we have to earn others – such as our financial freedom. What steps can you take to achieve the financial independence you need to reach your long-term goals?

For starters, always work to build your resources. Contribute as much as you can afford to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered.  If you don’t take advantage of this match, you are essentially leaving money on the table.

While how much you invest is an essential factor in gaining your financial freedom, how you invest your money is equally important. So make sure you have sufficient growth potential in all your accounts. While growth-oriented investments, such as stocks and stock-based vehicles, carry investment risk, you can help moderate this risk by also including other investments, such as bonds.

Another way to gain your financial independence is to liberate yourself from the shackles of debt. This isn’t always easy, of course – most of us have experienced times when our cash flow simply wasn’t sufficient to meet our expenses, so we had to take on some type of debt, either through a credit card or a loan. But the more you can control your debts, the more money you’ll have to save and invest for your future.

One way to manage your debt load is to build an emergency fund, containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, which you can use to pay unexpected costs such as a major car repair or a large medical bill. Ideally, you should keep this money in a liquid, low-risk account, so you can access the funds quickly and without penalty. Aside from possibly helping you control your debts, an emergency fund also may enable you to avoid dipping into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs.

Thus far, we’ve only discussed achieving your financial freedom through methods of saving and investing. But you also need to consider your protection needs, too. If you were to become ill or suffer a serious injury, and you could not work for a while, your financial security could be jeopardized. Your employer might offer you disability insurance as an employee benefit, but it may not be enough for your needs, so you might need to purchase some additional coverage on your own. And to help ensure your family’s financial security, you’ll also need sufficient life insurance.

You also might want to protect yourself from the catastrophic costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay. The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000, according to the 2016 Cost of Care Study issued by the insurance company Genworth. And Medicare generally covers only a small percentage of these expenses. You may want to consult with a financial professional to learn about ways you can protect yourself from the long-term care burden.

By following these suggestions, you can go a long way toward declaring your own financial independence. Consider taking action soon.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

Why Amazon is REALLY buying Whole Foods

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Over the last 5 days (or so), I’ve been thinking a lot about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods… and the business decisions that led Amazon to be able to make that offer.

My team and I are committed to rapid growth for LinkedSelling, so anytime I can study how the best in the world do it… I pay attention. That said, there’s a lot to learn here.

To illustrate this I want you to consider two dates:

July 5th, 1994

– Amazon was founded as “Cadabra”
– Whole foods was valued at $220M

June 16, 2017

– Amazon offer’s Whole Foods $13.7 Billion to acquire the grocery chain

So what happened here? How was Amazon able to make up ground so quickly on a company that had a $220M head start?

They went all in on digital media.

They understood that the best way to grow a company was to innovate… and take advantage of the tools that were available to them.

While neither you nor I have a company that is even remotely comparable to where Amazon (or Whole Foods) are for that matter, there are still lessons that small to medium sized business owners can, and should, take from this.

This lesson can be summed up in a not-so-eloquently-put quote that I heard from Gary Vaynerchuk recently…

“The New World Is Going to Eat the Old World”

By this, he means that businesses who are not willing (everyone is able) to adapt their business growth techniques to the current digital landscape are going to continue to see their revenue decline.

Josh Turner
www.linkedselling.com
Josh

6 ways to stop blocking your own success

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Even the most excellent leaders sometimes find that one day, suddenly, what once worked so well to propel their rise stops working. And the very same traits that had worked for them actually start working against them. Another stellar career comes to an abrupt end.

This is the moment when leaders confront a critical and very uncomfortable question: What if there’s a gap in what I think I know?

One of the seven leadership archetypes that I outline in my book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, is the Truth-Teller, who above all else, values candor. But in the face of uncertainty, someone who relies on telling the truth can bring about their own demise.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

5 ways to be more impressive in meetings

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It can be difficult to communicate clearly with team members in the office when you’re having a particularly rough morning, or if you work in an environment where you don’t feel supported. Here are five things getting in the way of your open dialogue and how to fix them.

Seek psychological safety

Stress from an old job can follow you, and if you don’t clear those old patterns, you’ll bring fear to every interaction.

Nat Dudley had to fight baggage from a toxic workplace that followed her once she was in a job she loved. In a recent Medium post, Dudley talked about her post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience, saying that “not everyone will be affected to that level,” but urges readers who think they might have it to seek medical help.

“Fast-forward a year, and there’ve been many more things that have surprised me about the lingering impacts of toxic workplaces. Like emerging from an abusive relationship, I discovered that I’d internalized many lessons on interacting and communicating that don’t apply in a healthy environment. Most of these were driven by fear: fear of being yelled at, fear of argument culture, fear of punishment if you’ve misunderstood or didn’t perfectly follow instructions, fear of social ostracism, fear of judgment for not knowing all the answers,” Dudley wrote.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

10 mistakes smart people never make twice

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Everybody makes mistakes — that’s a given — but we don’t always learn from them. Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over again, fail to make any real progress, and can’t figure out why.

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” — Bruce Lee

When we make mistakes, it can be hard to admit them because doing so feels like an attack on our self-worth. This tendency poses a huge problem because new research proves something that common sense has told us for a very long time: fully acknowledging and embracing errors is the only way to avoid repeating them.

Yet many of us still struggle with this.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

8 Founders on the Turning Points That Changed Their Businesses

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Hard work can pay off — if you know how to seize the right moments.

Every entrepreneur has the moment — that time when hard work finally pays off, when a long-desired opportunity presents itself and the entrepreneur has to decide how to react.

The moment can be stressful, and for good reason. It can be a turning point for any business, but only if it’s seized properly. And as the eight founders here can attest, it isn’t always clear what the right move is. Success takes guts. It takes sweat. It takes a lot of hard work — first to have reached the moment, and then to prepare for what happens next.

Will you grab the opportunity when it hits?

To read the rest of the article, click here.

20 Free Tools Your Small Business Should Be Using Today

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Although your small business needs a healthy amount of software to conduct operations, it’s not necessary for you to spend a fortune on web-based products. In our comprehensive testing of business and consumer software, we’ve come across dozens of incredible and free solutions that can help you get the job done. We’ve tested free tools in almost all facets of business — from email marketing to endpoint protection to project management.

To find out what these 20 free tools are, click here.

5 Low-Cost Franchises You Can Start for as Little as $4,000

Come by June 10th and find out How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1. This is a small business series.

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As an entrepreneur, you are done working for other people. You want to follow your dreams, set your own goals and dive into projects you are passionate about.

But starting a business can expensive, risky and at times lonely. To mitigate those problems, we did a deep dive into 2017’s Franchise 500 List to find opportunities that are affordable, have proven growth potential and provide tremendous support.

Check out this list of five franchises you can start in your area for less than $4,000.

For the rest of the full list of amazing franchises click here.

Why Food Truck Businesses Are Revving Up

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Spring is finally here, and that means more and more people will be out and about. That means it’s a great time for people in the food industry — specifically the food truck business.

Today, food trucks are the fastest-growing channels in the food service industry. In 2012, food truck revenue was $650 million, however that number has since skyrocketed. Today, food truck revenue has reached a whopping $2.7 billion.

So why are food trucks so popular? If you’re a first-time entrepreneur, a food truck can be a much more affordable option than an actual restaurant. And for less than $100,000, someone can launch a food truck business that can make anywhere between $250,000 to $500,000.

Flexibility, diversity and communication also make food trucks an attractive entrepreneurial venture. Food truck purveyors have the ability to quickly and easily test new concepts, menu items and recipes. They can also cater to various tastes in different locations.

To learn why food truck businesses are revving up, check out Food Truck Operator’s infographic by clicking here.

For more great articles like this one check out our source entrepreneur.com

Investment Guides for Experts of All Levels

Come by June 10th and find out How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1. This is a small business series.

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As small to medium size business owners many times we are only thinking about investing in our businesses, our family and our fun, however, we truly need to diversify our income. When we are ready to slow down the pace during our best years we need to create ways to bring in various streams of income. Some of the ways we can do this is through real estate (rental properties), investments, affiliates, and other businesses you may invest in where you are the silent partner and others are responsible for making the business grow.

Here is a great guide for experts of all levels by Clark Howard.

Jacqueline H. Waller
Jacqueline

Jacqueline Waller, the ATL Connector is the Founder/President of Connecting Atlanta. Ms. Waller, a sales and marketing professional with nearly 20 years of experience, has assisted numerous businesses in meeting goals and objectives for their revenue, market share and profits. She also believes in the power of your ‘network is your net worth’, being a social butterfly, she has connected with hundreds of people whom she has brought into Connecting Atlanta where they have launched their businesses, moved from struggling into sustainability and provided opportunities for others to connect to build! Her background extends from collections, finance, underwriting, and information technology.

The Small Business Series: How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 2

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Me, Jason Bourne (and you)Solution Provider

Email marketing is the Jason Bourne of online marketing: somebody’s always trying to kill it. It can’t be done.

Well, Jason Bourne and I have something in common.  I’m a killer too, just with email marketing strategy as a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert.

No, it doesn’t mean I have guns and knives and physical combat experience!  That’s not what an email marketing strategist is all about. It’s about using the right tools and techniques to craft and deliver your email marketing campaigns.

When I was first introduced to Constant Contact I was simply overwhelmed and struggled trying to use the tool. It was difficult.  I didn’t know where to start and so I didn’t use it, even though I was paying for it.

So, what about you? Have you ever had a tool that could be very useful in growing your business but it was too complicated to use? Well Constant Contact is not that complicated, especially when you have an expert like Lisa Ann Landry to hold your hand. Lisa Laundry

Despite various innovative ways of marketing including social media, mobile apps, digital marketing and so much more, email marketing still remains the number one way for businesses, organizations, & marketers to keep in touch with their consumers, members and clients.

Yet, we know that not everyone is a marketer and that not everyone has experience with email marketing. Would you like to learn How to Create Stand-Out Subject Lines and Creative Content in the Small Business Series: How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 2

– Create engaging subject lines

– Research subject lines with an online tool to increase engagement

– Create calls to action to drive action

– Designing the body of your message

– Using video, pictures, and buttons

– Sharing on your social site

We will go through a series of discussions, activities and demonstration. Lisa Ann will show you exactly how easy it is to use your new account to help you produce engaging and effective emails, in less time but that produce actual results for your organization.

On July 22, 2017 Connecting in Atlanta and Paradigm Shifts Training and Development are hosting the Business Series: How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 2. It is a few hours of immersion for you to focus on your business. Would you like to join me?

If so, please click the register button and I’ll send you all the information! Part 2

Can’t wait!

Lisa Ann Landry
Social Media Strategist
Lisa Ann Landry headshot1

15 Inspirational Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow

Come by June 10th and find out How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1. This is a small business series.

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There are approximately 317 million active Twitter users worldwide as of January. With such a large number, it can be tough to figure out the right people to follow. But don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve pulled together a list of 15 inspiring Twitter accounts for any aspiring entrepreneur.

From Richard Branson to Randi Zuckerberg, these 15 successful people share everything from motivational quotes to business ideas to some of their favorite books, podcasts and tech gadgets.

Check out 15 inspirational Twitter accounts every entrepreneur should follow here.

Rose Leadem
Rose Leadem is an online editorial assistant at Entrepreneur Media Inc.

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The Small Business Series: How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1

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Man funeral - cartoon

Email marketing is dead, right?

If that’s true why are there over 2.586 billion email users worldwide, including both business and consumer users?

You’re probably like me and check your emails several times a day on your smartphone. We’re not the only ones. At least weekly 72% of U.S. online adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone.

No e-mail marketing is not dead. Are you convinced yet? Maybe this is more persuasive. Marketers consistently rank email as the single-most-effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. Likely that’s because email is almost 40x better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

E-mail Marketing’s ROI  Pig with money - cartoon

Maybe you’re thinking you can’t afford an email marketing service. The ROI of email marketing is that for every dollar spent in 2014 was $24.93 and today its $41. Additionally, the ROI is almost double that of search advertising and better than any other direct marketing channel.

Why don’t you come learn how to put e-mail marketing to use? You’re invited to join Lisa Ann Landry so that you can Learn How to be Unstoppable with Email Marketing. I’ll be demonstrating using the Constant Contact email service provider but the strategies you learn can be applied to any of your e-mail campaigns.

A Live Demonstration 

In the presentation you see a live, guided demonstration on the tools and features inside Constant Contact. In this time-efficient, highly practical 2-hour session, you will learn the basics so you can get going with your own marketing campaigns.

It’s a relaxed, friendly educational session – bring your questions!

Wondering if this is right for you?

Question mark - cartoon

This 2- hour seminar is suitable for anyone new to Email Marketing, new to Constant Contact, or who just wants a hand learning how to use our products.

On June 10, 2017, I am delivering training hosted by Paradigm Shifts Training and Development and Connecting Atlanta. It’s The Small Business Series: How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1 a two-hour program for you to focus on your business and how email marketing fits in. It’s a few hours of immersion for you to focus on your business. Bring your laptop! Here’s a Constant Contact link to get signed up with your account.

Due to the deep nature of the work, there are only 20 spaces available. (They’ll fill up fast.)

Would you like to join me?

If so, please click the register button and I’ll send you all the information!

Can’t wait!

P.S. If you know a friend who has been confiding in you that they are ready to get clarity about email marketing tools such as Constant Contact – then you have my full permission to forward this email to them. I’ll take great care of them!

Lisa Ann Landry
Social Media Strategist

Lisa Ann Landry headshot1

The Shocking Reality of Scaling an Online Business

Come by June 10th and find out How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1. This is a small business series.

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It’s two-thirty in the morning, and you’ve woken up from your sleep to feel the bedside table vibrating ever so slightly. A notification on your phone is making a white shadow dance across the wall next to your bed. You know you should go back to sleep, but on impulse, you grab your phone and flick your groggy fingers across the touch screen.

It’s a Gmail notification bubble. Normally this could wait until later — who the hell has time to respond to emails at two-thirty? Then, you read the subject line of the email:

Subject: You just received $1,297

You realize this is not spam; it’s real. Holy shit! You just made almost $1,300 without lifting a finger.

What would it be like to have this happen every single night? How would it change your life to know that you have a business that pays you automatically every single day, whether or not you decide to “clock in” for work that day, no matter what country you’re in, for the rest of your life?

How would your life change if you had the ultimate security of knowing that you had an army of salespeople working around the clock to make you money and you didn’t have to pay them a dime?

To some people, this might sound like science fiction – or worse yet, a sleazy late-night infomercial. If you’re rolling your eyes all the way to the back of your head right now, I get it. Trust me, I do. I thought the same thing. Then I discovered the power of starting an online business. And I can tell you one thing: All this, and much more, is possible.

Want to learn how I created the life of my dreams (and nearly unlimited income) building online products? Of course you do.

I’ll admit, the above description of online business is a bit “hypey.” Full disclosure: I took it straight from one of the sales emails for my premium training on building an online business, Startup from the Bottom. But despite being a bit over the top in its approach and copywriting, for the most part it’s true. Online business is where it’s at.

For the rest of the article, click here.

20160718164101-unspecified
Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to start businesses that they care about and live happier lives.

Read Jeff Bezos’s Inspiring Letter to Shareholders on Why He Keeps Amazon at ‘Day 1’

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‘Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.’

The following is the latest letter to shareholders from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?

Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision-making.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

For the rest of the article you can view it here.

The Founder of LinkedIn Says Too Many of Us Are Using the Site All Wrong

Come by June 10th and find out How to Conquer Email Marketing a Crash Course – Part 1. This is a small business series.

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While it could seem natural to decline a Facebook friend request from a stranger, the dynamic on LinkedIn is much different.

If you use LinkedIn, you’ve undoubtedly received invitations to connect with people you’ve never met or may never meet in your life.

The more you stay on the site and the more you gain prominence in your field, the more requests from strangers you’ll get.

And while it could seem natural to decline a Facebook friend request from a stranger because you don’t want to give them access to your personal information and photos, the dynamic on LinkedIn is much different.

You may think that because it’s a social network for professionals, you should accept all invitations and see which of them stick.

It’s the approach that Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone and a management consultant to Fortune 100 companies, took for years. Not long ago, Ferrazzi wrote in the 2014 updated edition of his best-selling career guide that he had the privilege of meeting LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman, and discussing the site with him.

“‘You’re doing it all wrong, Keith!’ That is, in essence, what Reid Hoffman told me when I told him how I was using LinkedIn,” Ferrazzi writes.

Here’s the gist of what Hoffman told him, as written in Never Eat Alone (emphasis ours):

“LinkedIn is a closed network, and for a very simple reason: For the network to have value as an introduction tool, the connections need to have meaning. It’s up to you to vet each and every request so that if someone comes to you and says, ‘Would you introduce me?’ you’re in a position to evaluate whether the connection would be of mutual benefit.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

RICHARD FELONI
Richard Feloni is a strategy reporter at Business Insider. Richard joined BI in Oct. 2013 and covered the ad industry up through the Super Bowl. He previously reported in Brooklyn and wrote for alt-weeklys and newspapers in Boston, his home… Read more.

10 Marketing Lessons from Hollywood’s Biggest Box Office Successes – By Sujan Patel

Come by April 29th and find out How to Turn your Contacts into Contracts, write up your own personalized sales script that fits your company and how to drive business from social media.

A “box office success” doesn’t earn that accolade by pure luck or merit. The main reason people flock to see a new release in such big numbers is largely due to marketing – a lot of it.
A heap of cash goes into driving awareness of a Hollywood release and securing its success – nearly as much, if not more, than goes into producing the film itself.

It should follow, then, that there are lots of lessons to be learned from how the studios choose to spend that money.

Here are 10 marketing lessons you can take away from some of Hollywood’s biggest box office successes.

1. Monsters University (and Swiffer)

In the run up to the release of the second installment in the Monsters Inc. franchise, Monsters University, Pixar was responsible for some pretty awesome marketing strategies: The “Monsters University” website, for one. The film is close to four years old, but the site’s still well worth checking out.

Designed to replicate the style and features of a genuine American university website, it’s an excellent example of movie marketing that merges the fantasy of the film into reality (something we’ll see another example of and discuss in more detail later).

What I wanted to talk about right now however, is this 30-second ad.

It’s a collaboration between Pixar and Swiffer – a household cleaning brand owned by P&G.

Now, you might wonder what a cleaning product brand has to do with Monsters University. That would be a fair question. And the answer would be… absolutely nothing.

And that’s the key.

By thinking a little outside the box, Pixar and Swiffer found a way to collaborate that promoted both brands equally. The concept is simple – the Monsters make a mess and a Swiffer product comes to the rescue – but the execution ensures the ad succeeds in driving awareness of and excitement about both products (as much as anyone can get excited about a cleaning product, at least…)

The Lesson
To check out the lesson and the rest of the article click here.

Sujan Patel owner of #Mailshake

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Don’t Get Swayed by These Investment “Myths”

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Over time, you will run into various suggestions for investing successfully. Yet upon closer inspection, many of these ideas turn out to be “myths” – which could cause you trouble if you treat them as solid advice. Here are five of these myths, along with some reasons for ignoring them:

You can find the next “big thing.” All of us probably wish we could have “gotten in on the ground floor” of Apple or Microsoft or some other tremendously profitable company. And who knows? There may indeed be a similar other business out there, waiting to take off. But it’s almost impossible for anyone to identify these potential “blockbusters.” There’s really no shortcut to investment success – you need the patience and discipline to invest for the long term, and you need to build a portfolio that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance.

Investors should always seek to “buy low and sell high.” This is actually good advice – or it would be, if were possible to consistently follow it. But how can you know when the market is “high enough” to sell or “low enough” to buy? You can’t – and neither can anyone else. Trying to time the market rarely works. A more appropriate strategy is to invest regularly and to diversify your holdings among stocks, bonds, government securities and other vehicles, based on your goals and risk tolerance. Diversification can help protect you against market downturns that primarily affect just one asset class. Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.

It’s always smart to buy investments that have performed well recently. You may have read, in investment prospectuses, that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” These words are certainly true; just because an investment has had a good run recently, it doesn’t mean its success will continue indefinitely. You need to evaluate each investment on its own merits and on how well it fits into your overall portfolio.

International investing is too risky. In today’s global economy, it may be more risky not to invest some of your portfolio internationally. U.S. stocks represent less than half of global stock market capitalization – so by stopping at our borders, you are depriving yourself of a world of opportunities. It’s true that foreign investments carry some special risks relating to currency fluctuations and political and economic events, but you can help contain this risk by confining your international holdings to a relatively small percentage of your portfolio. A financial professional can suggest the best ways for you to add a global element to your investments.

You need a lot of money to make a lot of money. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a sizable amount of money to invest right away. But the world is full of people who started investing with small sums and ended up having enough money to enjoy the retirement lifestyle they had envisioned. If you’re just beginning to invest, put in as much as you can afford each month; as your income goes up, increase your investments. As an investor, time is your greatest ally.

Sticking to a consistent investment strategy can help you write your own investment tale – and you can leave the myths to the storybooks.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

CLAIMING THE SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH CARE TAX CREDIT

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If you’re a small business owner with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees you may be eligible for the small business health care credit.

WHAT IS THE SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH CARE CREDIT?

The small business health care tax credit, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010, is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations provide health insurance for their employees. Small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage under a qualifying arrangement may be eligible for this credit. Household employers not engaged in a trade or business also qualify.

HOW DOES THE CREDIT SAVE ME MONEY?

The tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). The tax credit is highest for companies with fewer than 10 employees who are paid an average of $25,900 or less in 2016 ($26,200 in 2017). The smaller the business, the bigger the credit is. For example, if you have more than 10 FTEs or if the average wage is more than $25,900, the amount of the credit you receive will be less. For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Note: The credit is available only if you get coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.

If you pay $50,000 a year toward workers’ health care premiums–and you qualify for a 15 percent credit–you’ll save $7,500. If you save $7,500 a year from tax year 2013 through 2016, that’s a total saving of $30,000. And, if in 2017 you qualify for a slightly larger credit, say 20 percent, your savings go from $7,500 a year to $12,000 a year.

IS MY BUSINESS ELIGIBLE FOR THE CREDIT?

To be eligible for the credit, you must cover at least 50 percent of the cost of single (not family) health care coverage for each of your employees. You must also have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and those employees must have average wages of less than $50,000 a year. This amount is adjusted for inflation annually and in 2016 was $52,000.

Let’s take a closer look at what this means. A full-time equivalent employee is defined as either one full-time employee or two half-time employees. In other words, two half-time workers count as one full-timer or one full-time equivalent. Here is another example: 20 half-time employees are equivalent to 10 full-time workers. That makes the number of FTEs 10, not 20.

Now let’s talk about average wages. Say you pay total wages of $200,000 and have 10 FTEs. To figure average wages you divide $200,000 by 10–the number of FTEs–and the result is your average wage. In this example, the average wage would be $20,000.

CAN TAX-EXEMPT EMPLOYERS CLAIM THE CREDIT?

Yes. The credit is refundable for small tax-exempt employers too, so even if you have no taxable income, you may be eligible to receive the credit as a refund as long as it does not exceed your income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.

CAN I STILL CLAIM THE CREDIT EVEN IF I DON’T OWE ANY TAX THIS YEAR?

If you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, you can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. Also, since the amount of the health insurance premium payments are more than the total credit, eligible small businesses can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. That’s both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments.

CAN I FILE AN AMENDED RETURN AND CLAIM THE CREDIT FOR PREVIOUS TAX YEARS?

If you can benefit from the credit this year but forgot to claim it on your tax return there’s still time to file an amended return.

Businesses that have already filed and later find that they qualified in 2014 or 2015 can still claim the credit by filing an amended return for one or both years.

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about the small business health care credit. And, if you need more time to determine eligibility this year we’ll help you file an automatic tax-filing extension.

ESTIMATED TAX PAYMENTS: Q&A

Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, and rent, as well as gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return.

How do I know if I need to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year. The first estimated payment for 2017 is due April 18, 2017.

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

To see the rest of the article please visit VAAS Professionals.

Written by Steve Julal of VAAS Professionals

Steve

VAAS Professionals, LLC
325 Edgewood Avenue, S.E
Atlanta, GA 30312
www.vaasprofessionals.com
(404)223-1058

SHOULD YOU FILE AN EXTENSION ON YOUR TAX RETURN?

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If you’ve been procrastinating when it comes to preparing and filing your tax return this year you might be considering filing an extension. While obtaining a 6-month extension to file is relatively easy–and there are legitimate reasons for doing so–there are also some downsides. If you need more time to file your tax return this year, here’s what you need to know about filing an extension.

WHAT IS AN EXTENSION?

An extension of time to file is a formal way to request additional time from the IRS to file your tax return, which in 2017, is due on April 18. Anyone can request an extension, and you don’t have to explain why you are asking for more time.

  • Note: Special rules may apply if you are serving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area or living outside the United States. Please call the office if you need more information.

Individuals are automatically granted an additional six months to file their tax returns. In 2017, the extended due date is October 16. Businesses can also request an extension. In 2017, the deadline for most businesses (whose tax returns were due March 15) is September 15th (October 16 for C-corporations).

  • Caution: Taxpayers should be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes. In 2017, April 18 is the deadline for most to pay taxes owed and avoid penalty and interest charges.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF FILING AN EXTENSION?

As with most things, there are pros and cons to filing an extension. Let’s take a look at the pros of getting an extension to file first.

Pros

1. You can avoid a late-filing penalty if you file an extension. The late-filing penalty is equal to 5 percent per month on any tax due plus a late-payment penalty of half a percent per month.

Tip: If you are owed a refund and file late, there is no penalty for late filing.

To check out the rest of the tips go to VAAS Professionals.

Written by Steve Julal of VAAS Professionals

Steve

VAAS Professionals, LLC
325 Edgewood Avenue, S.E
Atlanta, GA 30312
www.vaasprofessionals.com

LAST MINUTE FILING TIPS FOR 2016 TAX RETURNS

Come by April 29th and find out How to Turn your Contacts into Contracts, write up your own personalized sales script that fits your company and how to drive business from social media.

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 18 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension. This year’s tax deadline is April 18. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 16, 2017. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

4. Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but processing companies generally charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.

5. Don’t forget to check the box for healthcare coverage. Checking the box on line 61 of Form 1040 shows that you had healthcare for all 12 months during the tax year (2016). The IRS will still process your tax return if you forget to check the box but this applies ONLY to 2016 tax returns–and you’re not off the hook for any penalty you might owe.

6. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren’t signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.

Remember: To avoid delays, get your tax documents to the office as soon as you can.

Written by Steve Julal of VAAS Professionals

Steve

VAAS Professionals, LLC
325 Edgewood Avenue, S.E
Atlanta, GA 30312
www.vaasprofessionals.com
(404)223-1058

“How Smart People Handle Difficult People” Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negativity they spread, while others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos.

Come by April 15th and find out how to maximize your workday, work smarter not harder, and reduce or eliminate common distractions and time wasters in our free workshop.

Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus — an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success — when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your non-profit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress that take you by surprise and harm you the most.

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

For the rest of the article visit Entrepreneur.com

Written by: Travis Bradberry

Travis Bradberry

Award-winning co-author of the best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart — a consultancy that serves more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies and is a leading provider of emotional…
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What’s the Difference Between an Advisory Board and a Board of Directors? More importantly, which one do you need for your business?

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Many entrepreneurs I know are confused by the differences between an advisory board and a board of directors.

So, to explain in one sentence: advisory boards are voluntary and have no fiduciary responsibility. I recommend a small one for every startup, starting at inception, prior to a major investor or key business scaling initiative. This board is a good test drive for the more formal board of directors required later, when going public (IPO) or upon the interest of venture capital investors, and can give you plenty of great advice.

For both boards, members should be selected individually for their ability to independently add value to the expertise and experience of the management team, with no obligation or intent to add weight to internal views. The details of these considerations are outlined in The Board Book, the classic written by board expert and founder of The Board Institute, Susan F. Shultz.

Shultz provides a set of considerations that I recommend to every entrepreneur for deciding when and how to create the board that has the most value to a specific CEO and a specific business. These considerations include the following:

  1. Are you looking for advice or a boss? Most founders and CEOs will not voluntarily establish a formal board of directors unless they are trying to attract a major investor, preparing for an IPO or planning for an acquisition. As an alternative, every CEO needs an advisory board to help them grow, which they can ignore or fire at their pleasure

For the rest of the article visit Entrepreneur.com

Written by:
MARTIN ZWILLING

Martin Zwilling

Martin Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners. The author of Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur? and…

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Taking Customers With You When You Start a Business

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Entreprenuer.com

A reader sent in the following question recently in regards to the ramifications of notifying your employer’s customers that you’re leaving to start a similar business:

“For the past several years, I’ve been employed by a local accounting firm and have have developed close relationships with several of the firm’s clients. A number of these clients have been dealing exclusively with me as opposed to the firm’s partners, and I view them (rightly or wrongly) as ‘my’ clients. I’m leaving the firm shortly to set up my own practice in the same town and would like to notify these clients of my change in status, but I’m afraid the firm will sue me for ‘stealing business’. I’ve never signed any sort of noncompete agreement with the firm. What are my legal risks here?”

First of all, no business “owns” its clients or customers. People are free to use whichever service providers they like, and agreements that prevent them from doing so are often viewed as illegal “restraints of trade” and are generally struck down by the courts.

Second of all, as I’m sure you already know, this situation is every employer’s worst nightmare: You spend years training someone in the hopes they’ll help you grow your business, and the next thing you know, they’ve quit and taken half your customers with them.

Shame on this accounting firm for not requiring all its employees to sign a “nonsolicitation” agreement, in which the employees promise not to contact any of the firm’s customers or clients for a period of XX months after leaving the firm’s employ for any reason. Unlike noncompete agreements–which prohibit ex-employees from working in the same field or profession within a certain geographic area–nonsolicitation agreements are viewed as a legitimate effort by a business to protect its goodwill, and are often upheld by the same courts that routinely strike down noncompetes.

To read the full article go to entreprenuer.com.

Written by Cliff Ennico on Entreprenuer.com

Cliff Ennico is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series MoneyHunt. His latest book is Small Business Survival Guide(Adams Media). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. Copyright 2006 Clifford R. Ennico. Distributed by Creators Syndicate Inc.

Clifford R. Ennico

FINANCIAL FOCUS – How Can The Sandwich Generation Relieve Financial Stress?

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Come by April 15th and find out how to maximize your workday, work smarter not harder, and reduce or eliminate common distractions and time wasters in our free workshop.

Don’t worry too much if you haven’t heard, but April is National Stress Awareness Month. Of course, stress can present emotional and physical challenges to all of us, but if you belong to the “sandwich generation” – that is, you may be caring for aging parents while still supporting your own children – you may be facing some financial stress as well. What can you do to relieve it?

For one thing, be aware that you’re certainly not alone. About one in seven middle-aged adults is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child, according to the Pew Research Center.

Still, knowing that you have plenty of company won’t provide you with solutions for your own situation. So consider the following:

 

  • Suggest “downsizing.” Are your parents still paying a costly mortgage on a house that’s now too big for them? You might want to encourage them to think about downsizing. They may be emotionally attached to their home, but they might benefit substantially if they moved someplace that’s less expensive.

 

  • Talk to parents about their income sources. Are your parents maximizing their Social Security payments? Are they following a sensible withdrawal strategy for their IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts? You may want to recommend that they work with a qualified financial professional.

 

  • Discuss all legal arrangements. Be aware of your parents’ estate plans and the status of important legal documents – will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and so on. When the time arises for any of these arrangements to take effect, you don’t want to face any unpleasant – and possibly costly – surprises.

 

  • Find out about health care. Try to learn about your parents’ health insurance coverage. And have they done anything to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay? You may not be able to do a great deal for them in these areas, but at the least, you may be able to get them to take some positive action on their own behalf.

 

  • Don’t ignore your own retirement savings. Even if you can afford to provide some financial support to your parents, don’t shortchange yourself when it comes to yourown retirement savings. You don’t get a “do-over” when it comes to putting away money for retirement, so contribute as much as you can afford to your IRA and your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

 

  • Prioritize your investment choices.If you would like to help your children go to college, you might want to consider a college savings vehicle. Still, you may need to prioritize your investments. After all, your children will likely have a variety of options – such as loans and scholarships – to help them pay for school, and they may also be able to reduce costs substantially by going to a community college their first two years. But you are basically “up against the clock” when it comes to saving for retirement, so you’ll want to take that into account when allocating your investment dollars.

 

Belonging to the sandwich generation can certainly produce feelings of anxiety. But by following the above suggestions, you may be able to reduce some of this stress. And by doing so, you can help your parents, your children – and yourself.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

Entrepreneurs, Beware This Terrible Way of Networking on Social Media

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There’s a trend emerging on social media. Someone you don’t know but who may be connected to some of your friends or your network sends you a friend request. Shortly after, they send you a private message or email telling you what they want from you.

Every single day, I get these type of friend requests and messages. Someone’s first interaction with me is to ask me to write about them or their company, or they want to pick my brain about how to book paid speaking and consulting gigs internationally. No “hello,” no small talk. They just get right to what they want and how it somehow benefits me.

This is a terrible way to network and will never make a connection with fellow entrepreneurs. Social media works a lot like real life. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger, say “hello” and then try to kiss them. There are three things you should understand in regards to networking.

1. Lead with value.

Human nature is to focus on what we want and what will help us. Networking done right leads with value for the person you’re approaching.

I’m not going to give you the old-school advice to tell people you will work for free just to get their radar. It can be as simple as sharing a book suggestion or a helpful article that complements what that person has shared on social media. It’s not about a grand gesture, it’s about finding some way to approach that person with value.

Also, understand that trying to get them on the phone right away is too much. They don’t know you, a phone call right off the bat is not a great ask. Your asks should not exceed the realities of your relationship.

To read the rest of the article, click Entreprenuer.com.

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Written by:

KIMANZI CONSTABLE

25 Features Every Business Website Must Have in 2017 (Infographic)

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Even though online businesses are becoming more prevalent, they haven’t become any easier to launch.

To give your online business a greater chance to succeed, there are certain things you need to incorporate on its website. Of course, there are the simple things such as an easy domain name, a phone number and a logo, but it’s also vital to think about the content, links and navigation that will go onto your site.

When building your website, sometimes it’s helpful to think of its setup like that of a newspaper — organizing the most important content “above the fold,” and the less exciting material “below the fold.” In addition, having a strong call to action will help hook potential customers.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Rose Leadem is an online editorial assistant at Entrepreneur Media Inc.

3 Ridiculously Easy Hacks to Get People to Sign Up to Your Email List

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Have you ever changed the oil in your car?

It’s a pretty basic skill that surprisingly few people actually know how to do. If you do, you’ll most likely have used a funnel before.

The main idea behind a funnel is to cast a wide net that you can pour the viscous liquid into it without spilling it all over the engine block. The oil flows through the wide top end of the funnel and is neatly deposited into the narrow bottom end, filling your engine up so that the car runs smoothly.

In the internet marketing world, we also have funnels. Their purpose is to cast a wide net and find people across the web who might be interested in our material, then get those people to neatly file themselves into our email database so that we can provide them with valuable content, market to them and eventually make some money.

Getting people to opt-in.

Once a member of your audience has interacted with your content, it’s time to get them on your email list. This might seem challenging at first, but think about your own inbox. How many newsletters are you subscribed to?

The average person subscribes to anywhere between 20 and 30 free newsletters from a variety of businesses. Anything from a department store doing a semi-annual sale, to the Nissan dealership giving away insane deals on the 2018 Altima, to content-based emails about things that interest you.

At one point you weren’t receiving emails from that business…and now you are. How the hell does that happen?

In most cases, it people sign up to an email newsletter to get something for free. This is called an “opt-in,” and it’s your bread and butter if you want to build an online business — especially one that’s based on information products.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to start businesses that they care about and live happier lives.

3 Fun and Festive Spring Promotion Ideas that Retailers Can Use to Increase Sales

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If you’re a small business retailer, every season brings new opportunities – and new challenges. If you’re looking for some fun and festive ways to increase your small business sales now that spring has arrived and the weather is getting warmer, we’ve got just the things for you!

In this article, we’ll take a look at three great spring promotions that your small retail business can use to help drive sales, promote brand awareness, and increase customer loyalty.

Sidewalk Sales!

Spring is the perfect opportunity for sidewalk sales! These unique, fun sales allow you to get out and enjoy the nice weather and benefits that extra foot traffic can have on your business when the weather is warm and sunny.

Collaborate with other small business retailers in your area to set up your sidewalk sale – set up booths and tables all around your businesses, and encourage customers to visit all of your stores. The warm weather and high volume of customers that a sidewalk sale provides are sure to help your business succeed.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Some Financial Spring Cleaning

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Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year, as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning?

Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home. Your investment portfolio is also a structure of a sort, and it, too, can be damaged. Specifically, you may have deliberately constructed your portfolio with an investment mix – stocks, fixed-income vehicles, cash instruments, etc. – that’s appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance. But over time, your portfolio can evolve in unexpected ways. For example, your stocks may have grown so much in value that they now take up a larger percentage of your holdings than you had intended, possibly subjecting you to a higher degree of risk. If this happens, you may need to rebalance your portfolio.
  • Get rid of “clutter.” As you look around your home, do you see three mops or four nonfunctional televisions or a stack of magazines from the 1990s? If these items no longer have value, you could get rid of them and clear up some living space. As an investor, you also might have “clutter” – in the form of investments that no longer meet your needs. If you sold these investments, you could use the proceeds to fill gaps in your portfolio.
  • Consolidate. Do you keep your lawnmower in a shed, a rake in your garage, and your gardening tools in the basement? When working on your outdoor tasks, you might find it more efficient to have all these items in one location. You could also have your investments scattered about – an IRA here, a new 401(k) there, and an older 401(k) someplace else. But if you consolidated all your investments in one place, you might cut down on paperwork and fees, and you wouldn’t risk losing track of an asset (which actually happens more than you might think). Even more importantly, when you have all your investments with one provider, you’ll be better positioned to follow a single, centralized investment strategy.
  • Prepare for a rainy day. As part of your outdoor spring cleaning, you may want to look at your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and in good repair, so that they can move rainwater away from your home. Your financial goals need protection, too, so you’ll want to ensure you have adequate life and disability insurance.
  • Seal leaks. In your home inspection this spring, you may want to investigate doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Your investment portfolio might have some “leaks” also. Are investment-related taxes siphoning off more of your earnings than you realize? A financial professional can offer you recommendations for appropriate tax-advantaged investments.

This spring, when you’re cleaning your physical surroundings, take some time to also tidy up your financial environment. You may be pleased with the results.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Marques Young
Edward Jones Investments
8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 112
Cordova, TN 38018
Office: (901) 751-0634
Email: marques.young@edwardjones.com
Member SIPC

marques-young

 

6 Ways That Small Businesses Can Use Snapchat to Increase Sales

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Most small business owners know about the power of social media – and it’s rare to find an entrepreneur who doesn’t have a Twitter account, and Instagram presence, or a Facebook page. However, there is one huge social media platform that’s often entirely overlooked by small businesses and their marketing teams – Snapchat.

Snapchat is a red-hot social marketing platform – there’s no denying it – and companies are beginning to capitalize on the audience provided by this fun photo-messaging app. More than 100 million users use Snapchat daily watching a staggering 10 billion videos on a typical day.

Clearly, marketing on Snapchat should be one of your priorities when it comes to promoting your business through social media platforms. But how should you use Snapchat to promote your business? We’re glad you asked! In this article, we’ll take a look at six simple ways that small businesses can use Snapchat to boost their brand awareness – and increase sales.

1. Use Snapchat for Flash Sales and Special Promotions

One of the best reasons to use Snapchat is how immediate it is. Snaps go away after you view them when you send them directly to another user – and even if you use the “My Story” functionality of the app, your story will disappear within 24 hours.

This means that people who use Snapchat a lot, check it every single day. Think about it – if they fail to check their snaps and Snapchat Stories at least once a day, they’ll totally miss out on whatever their friends – and followed brands – posted!

Because of this, Snapchat is a fantastic way to promote flash sales and special promotions that are time-sensitive. Your followers will be checking your story just about every day – so you can get a massive, immediate reach even for a sale that only lasts a day or less.

2. Promote Your Events with GeoFilters

Geofilters are an excellent way to promote events. Are you having a huge sale? Partner with a graphic designer to create a unique Geofilter that your loyal customers can use while shopping – by doing so, you provide your customers with the tools they need, to spread the word about your business.

If you do use Geofilters, make sure your customers know about them! They’re a fantastic word-of-mouth promotional tool, and if you provide them with a high-quality, memorable design, customers will be happy to use them.

So next time you have a sale, volunteer at a charitable event or are running a weekly special, consider buying a Geofilter for the occasion.

3. Give People an Inside Look at Your Business

People like feeling authentic connections with companies – and this is especially true with small businesses. That’s the primary benefit of a small business. You’re not a corporate conglomerate if you’re a small business owner – you’re a real, actual and authentic person.

Snapchat offers you an excellent way to express authenticity. You can show your true personality to customers, and give them an inside look at your business.

For example, if you run a small microbrewery, you could dedicate a Saturday to providing your followers with an inside look at your brewing facilities and your process. If you run a bike repair shop, you can show followers what the process is like to replace a bent wheel. If you run a bakery, you can show the process you use to bake cakes – the opportunities are endless.

Providing this kind of authentic, value-added content is an exceptional way to connect with your customers, drive brand loyalty, and increase sales.

For the rest of this great article please click here.

Be sure to attend our next workshop at the South Fulton Branch Library, 4055 Flat Shoals Road, Union City on How To Turn Your Contacts Into Contracts with Jacqueline H. Waller.

 

Changing Careers? Know Your Options

retirement

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What to do with your retirement funds when you change jobs or go into business full-time

There are many new challenges to face if you happen to be changing jobs or retiring – not the least of which is the decision of what to do with the retirement funds that have accumulated in your 401(k) and other retirement plans over the years of service with your employers. These decisions may have a significant impact on your future financial security in retirement.

Option 1) Your employer hands you a check for the amount in your retirement plan.
This may look like a bonanza, but selecting this option could be a mistake. First, your employer is required to withhold 20% from your lump sum distribution, so you will only receive 80%. Second, if you are younger than 59 1/2, you may be subject to a 10% additional federal income tax penalty for early withdrawal. Third, you are liable for paying income taxes on the full amount—if you fail to rollover the full amount of your funds, including the 20% that was withheld, into an IRA within 60 days.

Option 2) Leave the money with your old employer.
If you have more than $5000 in your former employer’s retirement plan, you can usually leave the money where it is. (Check with your employer.) The advantage of doing this is that it relieves you of making a decision for the time being while maintaining the tax deferral of your assets. The downside is that you are limited to the investment choices offered by your ex-employer—or even fewer choices, since some companies have additional restrictions for non-active employees. Additional disadvantages are that you cannot make new contributions to your account.

Option 3) Move your retirement money to your new employer.
This option only works if you are moving to another job. Even then, your new employer may not accept rollovers from a previous plan or may impose a waiting period. Also, the investment options offered by your new employer may not be as extensive as you want. The benefit is that you maintain your assets’ tax deferral and benefit from the convenience of having your assets in one place.

Option 4) Put the money into a traditional IRA Rollover.
By having your former employer’s retirement plan pay the IRA custodian directly, you avoid the 20% withholding or any penalties. There are numerous benefits to your own IRA Rollover: A potentially wider choice of investment opportunities—you can select the stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other investments that are right for you.

The ability to withdraw without penalty for some purposes. Withdrawals can be made without penalty by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments for at least five years or until after you reach age 59 1/2. Withdrawals are subject to normal income tax treatment and may be subject to an additional 10% federal income tax penalty.  Thus, if you are planning to retire before you reach age 59 1/2, this method can enable you to dip into your IRA Rollover without penalty. Please note, there may be other eligible retirement plans which can accept funds.

Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or the marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. AXA Advisors, LLC and AXA Network, LLC do not provide tax advice or legal advice. This article is provided by Antan Wilson. Antan Wilson offers securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC), 780 JOHNSON FERRY ROAD SUITE 600 ATLANTA, GA 30342 and offers investment advisory products and services through AXA Advisors, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the SEC, and offers annuity and insurance products through an insurance brokerage affiliate, AXA Network, LLC and its subsidiaries. This individual is licensed to transact insurance business in the following states: GA, DC, NJ, LA, NC; and is registered to offer securities in the following states: GA, NJ.

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Source: https://www.ameriprise.com/research-market-insights/financial-articles/retirement/what-to-do-with-your-401k-plan-when-you-change-jobs/

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Antan R. Wilson
780 Johnson Ferry Road
Suite 600
Atlanta, GA 30342
Tel: (404) 760-2418

28 Types of Content Upgrades You Can Easily Create

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1. A cheat sheet
Depending on what your blog post is about, a cheat sheet can be a simple content upgrade. For example, if I write a blog post explaining the different tags in HTML, I can create a one-pager of all the available HTML tags and how they’re used.

2. Checklist
A long, 4,000-word blog post can likely be converted into an easier-to-digest checklist. It can be an itemized step-by-step for a how-to blog post, a list of materials for a do-it-yourself project, or a list of best practices.

For example, if you’re sharing a process you have for promoting a blog post, you can create a checklist of everything the reader should do to promote the blog post.

Tools to easily create checklists: ForgettSweetProcess, and Checkli

3. List of resources
Do you mention a bunch tools or resources in your blog post? Create a master list linking to each of them for readers so they don’t have to search for each tool on their own. Then make that list available as a PDF download.

4. Transcripts for your podcast or video show
If you host interviews, have a podcast, or have a video show, transcribe your recording and make it into a downloadable PDF file. It takes less than 10 minutes of work for you to hire a transcriber and host the file.

Transcription services: Rev and Fiverr.

5. Video or audio recording
If you’ve previously hosted and recorded an interview, a webinar, or any informational video that’s relevant to the blog post, you can make the recording available as a bonus. You can create a how-to video of a blog post or record yourself reading your blog post out loud. It might sound like a strange idea, but some readers digest information differently.

Tool for audio editing: Audacity Tool for video editing: Camtasia

6. Quick start guide
You might be teaching something complicated. Simplify it. People want to get started quickly without worrying about the difficulties later on (those difficulties often prevent them from taking the first steps). Take the first three steps and simplify them to help the reader get over the initial barrier.

7. Full guide
Instead of a simple quick start guide, create a comprehensive guide that walks the reader step-by-step through the entire process. While it may be lengthier, it’ll target readers who are looking for in-depth guidance.

8. Report / whitepaper
Have you hosted a survey or done extensive research into a topic? Make it into a report that’ll educate readers about their industry or interest. Reports and whitepapers will also help you become recognized as an expert in your area of interest.

9. Printable
This could be a relevant diagram, motivational quote, or images the reader can print out and pin up on their wall. It’s a great reminder for readers to stay organized or focused.

10. Assignments or worksheets
If you’re teaching something, go beyond explaining the concept. Create homework assignments that your readers can download and immediately apply the knowledge.

For the rest of the article and to learn more visit Sumome.com

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