FINANCIAL FOCUS – Time for Some Financial Spring Cleaning

spring-cleaning-for-your-finances1

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

6_WAYS_SNAPCHAT_INCREASE_SALES_16x9

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.

 

Featured Articles for March 2017

Featured Articles for March 2017 by Vaas Professionals

IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2017
Compiled annually by the IRS, the “Dirty Dozen” is a list of common scams taxpayers may encounter in the coming months. While many of these scams peak during the tax filing season, they may be encountered at any time during the year.

Six Overlooked Tax Breaks for Individuals
Confused about which credits and deductions you can claim on your 2016 tax return? You’re not alone. Here are six tax breaks you won’t want to overlook.

Are your Social Security Benefits Taxable?
Some people must pay taxes on part of their Social Security benefits while others find that their benefits aren’t taxable at all. If you receive Social Security, a tax professional can help you determine if some–or all–of your benefits are taxable.

Small Business Financing: Securing a Loan
At some point, most small businesses owners will visit a bank or other lending institution to borrow money. Whether it’s for startup costs or business expansion, understanding what your bank wants, and how to properly approach them, can mean the difference between getting your money for expansion and having to scrape through finding cash from other sources. Here’s what you need to know.

What Income is Taxable?
Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick (and easy) answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that. Keep reading to learn more.

Tax Tips

Choosing the Correct Filing Status
It’s Not Too Late to Make a 2016 IRA Contribution
Eight Tax Facts about Exemptions and Dependents 
IRS Releases Updated Form 990-EZ
What You Should Know about the AMT

QuickBooks Tips

Establishing Preferences in QuickBooks

Tax Due Dates

March 1

Farmers and Fishermen – File your 2016 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 18 to file if you paid your 2016 estimated tax by January 17, 2017.

March 10

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

March 15

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

Partnerships – File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1065). Provide each partner with a copy of their Schedule K-1 (form 1065-B) or substitute Schedule K-1. To request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004. Then file the return and provide each partner with a copy of their final or amended (if required) Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) by September 15.

S Corporations – File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. Provide each shareholder with a copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1120S), Shareholder’s Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., or a substitute Schedule K-1. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004 and deposit what you estimate you owe.

Electing large partnerships – File a 2016 calendar year return (Form 1065-B). Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1065-B), Partner’s Share of Income (Loss) From an Electing Large Partnership. This due date applies even if the partnership requests an extension of time to file the Form 7004.

S Corporation Election – File Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, to choose to be treated as an S corporation beginning with calendar year 2017. If Form 2553 is filed late, S treatment will begin with calendar year 2018.

March 31

Electronic filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, and 3922 – File Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, and 3922 with the IRS (except a Form 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation). This due date applies only if you file electronically. Otherwise, see February 28. The due date for giving the recipient these forms generally remains January 31.

Electronic Filing of Form W-2G – File copies of all the Form W-2G (Certain Gambling Winnings) you issued for 2016. This due date applies only if you electronically file. Otherwise, see February 28. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.

Electronic Filing of Forms 8027 – File copies of all the Forms 8027 you issued for 2016. This due date applies only if you electronically file. Otherwise, see February 28.

Electronic Filing of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and Forms 1094-B and 1094-B – If you’re an applicable Large Employer, file electronic forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. For all other providers of essential minimum coverage, file electronic Forms 1094-B and 1095-B with the IRS. Otherwise, see February 28.

Click here to read the rest of the newsletter.

Please call us at (404)223-1058 if you have any questions.

Steve

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

Changing Careers? Know Your Options

retirement

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

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.

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

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

antan-r-wilson-headshot

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

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

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

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

28 Ideas for Content Upgrades To Grow Your Email List. How to make them, where to use them, providing the upgrade, and more

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

You’ve written blog posts and you’ve gotten some traffic, and even though you have beautiful visitor numbers, your email list is another story.

You know that building an email list is important and you’ve started doing that, but your conversion rate is stagnant at around 1% … 2% on a great day.

What if you can get 10% of your website visitors to subscribe via email? How about 20%?

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. In fact it has already been done by other bloggers. It’s a proven method that’s possible for you to do too.

All it takes is creating tactical content upgrades to give visitors irresistible value. We’re going to give you the tools and knowledge to do just that.

In this guide, we’re going to cover:

  1. What are content upgrades
  2. Why you should create them (people have seen conversion rates improve by over 300%)
  3. 28 different types of content upgrades
  4. The simple 5-step framework to get started with content upgrades
  5. 4 questions to help you come up with irresistible content upgrades
  6. How to easily host your content upgrade in under 5 minutes
  7. 9 tips to make your content upgrades into list building machines

What Are Content Upgrades
A content upgrade is bonus piece of information that elaborates on or complements a piece of content the reader is already interested in. The bonus is both highly valuable and in context with the page’s content so we gate the bonus by asking for an email address, a Facebook share, a tweet, or an email to a friend.

In other words, a content upgrade is a valuable offer created to get a visitor’s email address or get them to promote you.

For example, if you were reading about how to fix a broken toilet, reading might not be enough. You might be interested in watching a bonus video that shows you how to fix your toilet because you can follow along with the video.

Boom. It’s a perfect content upgrade because the video showing you how to fix a toilet is both valuable and specific to the article you’re reading.

Why Content Upgrades
Successful content upgrades have helped people grow their email list exponentially.

If you’re unsure whether content upgrades will work for you, look below at the results from Backlinko by Brian Dean, an internationally-recognized entrepreneur and SEO expert.

sumo-1

Yep. That’s a 785% improvement. Not too shabby.

But Brian isn’t the only one who has seen lucrative results from implementing content upgrades.

Devesh Khanal increased one blog post’s conversion rate for Growth Everywhere by 492% by implementing a content upgrade. Imagine doing that for ten blog posts.

Conversion rates are high for content upgrades because they provide an immediate reward instead of presenting a generic “subscribe for free updates” call-to-action. The reader is primed to give you their email for something useful and relevant to what they’re already invested in reading about in that exact moment in time.

It can be difficult to set up content upgrades. Keyword is can. However, using tools like Welcome MatList Builder, or Scroll Box, you can be set up in less than five minutes.

When it comes down to it, the time it takes to create a content upgrade should be thought of as an investment. As you saw above, the effects of implementing even one content upgrade can be exponential.

In fact, depending on what type of content upgrade you want to create, the whole process of ideation, creation, and implementation can take less than 30 minutes.

Before I tell you how to quickly create a content upgrade, here are 28 different types of content upgrades you can create.

Blog Received by Sumo.com for this and other great articles visit them here.

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

Sales Pages, Landing Pages, and Squeeze Pages, Oh My!

sales-pages-landing-pages-and-squeeze-pages-oh-my

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

Sales pages and Landing pages are web pages with no navigation menu, no sidebar, no footer widget area, and no links off the page — except to a shopping cart or order form. Squeeze pages also have no navigation menu, no sidebar, no footer widget area, and no links off the page.

The premise behind these pages is to eliminate all distractions from the page, and keep visitors completely focused on taking one single action — they are used solely to increase conversions.

Sales Pages
Sales pages are pages with one single call to action — to get visitors to buy something and to make a sale. They are typically used for products, programs, services, and events. (For examples click here)

Landing Pages
Landing pages are pages on your website consumers “land on” when they follow or click a link from your marketing materials, advertising, or business promotions. Many people also create custom landing pages for social media profile URLs too. (For examples click here)

Squeeze Pages
Squeeze pages are pages that are designed to squeeze information out of visitors before they leave the page — usually they squeeze your email out of you through an opt-in. They are usually very short, simple, and direct. (For examples click here)

Check out Connecting Atlanta for all of our up to date business workshops.

ABOUT JENNIFER BOURN

CREATIVE DIRECTOR · DIGITAL STRATEGIST · WORDPRESS EVANGELIST

Probably a Sith… her passion brings forth intuitive design solutions. As founder of Bourn Creative, Jennifer is an award-winning designer who has been working in the design trenches since 1997. Today she consults on branding, website strategy, and digital strategy, leads all of our graphic design and web design projects, and specializes in WordPress theme design.

jennifer-bourn

When not obsessing over pixels, margins, and type, Jennifer manages the Bourn Creative brand and the creation and iteration of our internal systems and processes. She speaks often on podcasts, summits, and live events, and writes for our blog, WP Elevation, CoSchedule, and the GoDaddy Garage. She also co-organizes the Sacramento WordPress Meetup group and WordCamp Sacramento.

How Your Small Business Can Retain More Profits by Avoiding These Common Fees

How Your Small Business.jpg

How Your Small Business Can Retain More Profits by Avoiding These Common Fees

(Be sure to attend our next workshop at the Buckhead Library on Managing Risk in a Small Business Effectively with Jim Foster
)

It seems as though every time you turn around, there’s a fee. There are fees for starting: activation or setup fees. There are fees for ending: termination fees. If you ever tried to cancel a cell phone plan early or check out of a hotel, you’re charged a fee. While some fees are standard, there are times when we pay them blindly and unnecessarily. Here are ways business owners can avoid some common fees.

Dodge fees when traveling.

It’s easy to get caught off guard when traveling for business. Some hotels charge you a resort fee. This can be for the use of internet, gym facilities, pool or tennis courts whether or not you use them. Avoid minibars, room service and using the telephone at the hotel since those features can come with a hefty markup.

Also, scan each line item on your bill before checking out. Be sure to hold onto your bill too. I once checked out of a hotel in Maryland. I left thinking I was paying the amount that was on my receipt. Shortly after, I noticed a discrepancy for what I was actually charged. Some other random fee was tacked on. Thank goodness for credit card text alerts! I cleared that one up right away by calling the hotel. It was a good reminder to always hang on to the receipt and question any “fees” right away.

Another way to avoid travel-related fees is using the tools already available to you like your credit card for example. Most rewards credit cards offer many travel perks that could cancel out any regular fees and save you money as a result. Forbes Contributor and avid traveler, George Papadopoulos of TravelBloggerBuzz.com explains that the good news is some travel rewards credit cards can enhance your travel experience at the airport. You can gain access to an airline lounge entry, receive early boarding and more. He adds that it saves you money by avoiding baggage fees and other ancillary fees. Just be sure to read the fine print and know what you’re signing up for.

For the rest of this great article please click here. Link ( https://blog.paymently.com/how-your-small-business-can-retain-more-profits-… )

(Be sure to attend our next workshop at the Buckhead Library on Managing Risk in a Small Business Effectively with Jim Foster)

Written by: Karen Cordaway

karen_cordaway

Karen is a nationally syndicated personal finance writer and money-saving expert who loves discovering easy solutions to common financial roadblocks. She has written articles for US News Money, Huffington Post, ClarkHoward.com, Due.com and other hot spots on the web. She has been featured in O Magazine, Money Magazine, Market Watch, The Consumerist, MSN, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, Daily Finance and many more.

FINANCIAL FOCUS – Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

tax-refund

FINANCIAL FOCUS

Use Your Tax Refund Wisely

It’s tax time again – which for many Americans means that a tax refund is on its way. If you’re going to get a refund this year, how can you use the money to your best advantage?

Of course, it’s always tempting to spend the check from Uncle Sam on something fun. But a tax refund could be sizable – the average amount in 2016 was $2,857, according to the IRS – so putting this money to work could help boost your progress toward your financial goals.

Here are some possibilities for using your refund:

  • Help fund your IRA. If you were to receive a tax refund of $2,857, you’d have slightly more than half of the $5,500 annual IRA contribution limit for 2017, although, if you are 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $1,000. Consequently, you may find it much easier to fully fund your IRA for the year — and you should do exactly that, because an IRA is a great retirement savings vehicle. If you have a traditional IRA, your contributions may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your income, while your earnings can grow tax deferred. (Taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59½ may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty.) With a Roth IRA, your contributions are not deductible, but your earnings are distributed tax-free, provided you don’t start taking withdrawals until you’re 59½ and you’ve had your account at least five years.
  • Help diversify your portfolio. If a market downturn hits one asset class, and that’s where you keep most of your money, you could take a big hit. Owning an array of investments – such as stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and so on – can help prepare your portfolio to weather the effects of market volatility, By adding new investments, or increasing your holdings of existing investments, you may be able to further diversify your portfolio – and you can use your refund for this purpose. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification, by itself, can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss.)
  • Contribute to a 529 plan. If you have children or grandchildren whom you’d like to help send to college, consider using your tax refund to help fund a 529 plan. Your 529 plan contributions may be deductible from your state taxes, and your earnings are distributed tax-free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses. (However, withdrawals not used for higher education expenses may be subject to both income tax and a 10% penalty.)
  • Pay off some debts. You can help improve your financial picture by reducing your debt load – but it may make sense to prioritize these debts. For example, rather than make an extra mortgage payment, you might want to first tackle those debts or loans that carry a high interest rate and that don’t allow you to deduct interest payments. After all, your monthly mortgage payment will remain the same even if you make an extra payment, but if you can get rid of some smaller debts, you will free up some cash that you could use to invest for your future.

Think carefully about how to use your tax refund. It represents an opportunity that you won’t want to waste.

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

How to Decide Which Customer Loyalty Program Is Right for Your Small Business

customer_loyalty_programs_16x9

Customer loyalty programs used to be extremely expensive for small business owners to operate – they simply couldn’t afford the advanced software, POS systems, and other infrastructure required to run effective loyalty programs.

However, modern technology has changed everything. There are now dozens of companies focusing on providing customer loyalty programs to small businesses, and more are appearing every year. Their costs are quite low, and easy-to-use software makes customer loyalty systems simple to integrate into your small business.

But what’s the best kind of customer loyalty program for your small business? We’ll break down the most basic types of customer rewards and loyalty programs, allowing you to get a better idea of which type may be appropriate for your small business.

Cash Back or Rebate Programs

These programs allow customers to earn a percentage of money back from previous purchases in a set period of time and gives them the opportunity to redeem this money or store credit after a set period of time.

The advantages of such as system are:

  • Simple and easy for customers to understand
  • Gift certificates and store credit drives customers back to your business
  • Customers feel as if they’re “buying in” to your business, making them more likely to return

Some disadvantages include:

  • Lack of “instant gratification”
  • Can be expensive to implement
  • Infrequent shoppers might not be drawn by this program

For the rest of the article, click here