It’s Time For A Mid-Year Financial Review

As we enter the second half of 2014, this is a good time to look back at the first six months of the year to see how you are faring financially. We recommend that clients conduct a mid-year financial review to check in on their investments, budgets, savings and tax planning to see if adjustments … Continue reading “It’s Time For A Mid-Year Financial Review”

As we enter the second half of 2014, this is a good time to look back at the first six months of the year to see how you are faring financially. We recommend that clients conduct a mid-year financial review to check in on their investments, budgets, savings and tax planning to see if adjustments need to be made.

Here are a few key items to look at during your semi-annual financial review:

Investments: How did your investments perform this year? Better than expected, worse than expected or about the same? Talk to your investment advisor to see if you want to make adjustments, including rebalancing your portfolio if your personal or business risk profile (your willingness and ability to take risks) has changed.

Savings: Have you reached your savings goals yet this year, or do you need to step it up a bit? Consider making an automatic transfer each month from checking to savings to ensure that you are saving consistently. This applies to retirement savings as well as traditional savings. Don’t wait until the end of the year to try to catch up.

401(k) plan: If you are contributing to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, look at your investments to see how they’re performing. Have you experienced any gains this year, or did you lose money on your investments? Are new funds available that better suit your needs? Can you afford to increase your contributions to get the maximum match from your employer? Discuss your 401(k)’s performance with your financial advisor to see if it is beneficial to make changes. Your plan sponsor – the employer – may also have additional information about the investments in your 401(k) plan.

Tax withholding: Now that you’ve made it through half the year, you probably have a good idea whether or not your tax withholding is adequate. Do you need to adjust your withholding to ensure that you don’t underpay your taxes, or perhaps you’ve had a child and are eligible for an additional exemption? The IRS offers a tax withholding calculator to help you determine if you need to make adjustments. This is particularly true if you are a business owner paying quarterly taxes. Are you paying enough?

Other areas to consider for your review: insurance, medical spending, quarterly tax payments and budget adjustments. Contact your investment advisor to discuss these critical components to your financial success. It might take a little time, but that is time – and money – well spent.

Getting An Oil Tank Removed

Are you a property owner and worried about oil tanks? Well, as undesirable as they are, they are not something to worry about, as the removal process is actually quite simple and not as inconvenient as you might have previously thought.

First things first, is to know the background of underground storage tanks (USTs). Some properties have USTs buried on their grounds due to the fact that oil as a fuel was overtaken by natural gas in the 1950s. This meant that there was no longer a need for these tanks so many of them were buried underground and thought to be out of harms way. This method, in fact, was harmful, as even though the oil was drained from the tank, there was some residue left over in many that could leak into the soil and damage the environment around it. Since then, to avoid, or stop what has already happened in terms of contamination, it has become the law in British Columbia for property owners to have the USTs removed from their land. There are very few exceptions to this rule, so if you know you have an oil tank, you should starting planning to have it removed as soon as possible.

One problem that many people imagine is, if the fuel tank is buried, then how do I know if I have one on my property? There is actually a very simple way to find out. If you call an oil tank removal firm that operates in the region, they will be able to inspect the premises and let you know. There are many companies that use special scanning equipment that utilizes radar technology and this can tell you whether or not there is a UST buried on the property without invading the land at all. Then, if a tank is found, arrangements can be made for its removal.

To start the process, a small area or land around the tank site will be cordoned off. If you go with a well reviewed and professional oil tank removal service, you will be amazed at how little disruption is caused and how not very much space is taken up while removing the oil tank. The team will operate as quickly as possible by digging up the tank and cutting it down into smaller pieces. By doing this, it will be easier to remove the oil tank through smaller spaces away from the property, for example, through the back garden gate.

6 Tips on Choosing the RIght Credit Repair Company

Imagine waking up every morning without the burden of financial hardship or a poor credit situation.

As you sip on your morning coffee, you’d be relaxed knowing that if you were faced with an emergency, you could get your hands on the money you needed.

Trouble is, according to CNN Money 76% of Americans life paycheck to paycheck – which is why having a credit history is so critically important.

If you have decided to repair your credit rating, you’ve made a wise decision.

Bear in mind, it will take a bit of time and persistence to get yourself back on track – however the peace of mind you’ll gain will be well worth the effort.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Find a Reputable Credit Counselor to Help You:

Credit repair can be a complicated process. Professional counselors can give you the advice you need, and help you create a repair plan that is best suited for your unique situation. Look for companies that provide a money back warranty, full customer support, as well as 24/7 online access to a portal that tracks your credit repair process.

2. Avoid Companies That Use Templates and Form Letters:

Credit bureaus receive hundred if not thousands of dispute letters every day. To manage this volume, they rely on an automated letter sorter that earmarks form letters and marks them with a lower priority. Select a company willing to customize your letter so you get faster, more efficient results.

3. Start Building a Good History of New Credit Accounts:

An effective strategy to boost your credit score is to open new lines of credit. New credit accounts will impact your credit score by as much as 30%. It’s best to select a company with a close connection to creditors. That way it will be easier for you to gain approval for new credit accounts even if you have a low credit score or poor credit history.

4. Become Knowledgeable About the Way Credit Works:

Credit repair can be a long and tedious process. It’s best to deal with a company who is willing to explain and educate you about the credit process. The more knowledge you have the easier it will be to avoid the same credit pitfalls in the future. Select credit repair companies with a high rate of success: Far too many credit repair companies simply send out form letters and take your money.

5. Ask For a Professional Contract:

Legitimate credit repair companies will provide you with an agreement or contract.
Be sure that your contract covers all of the information that you have been told verbally. Take the time to read all of the fine print, and don’t move forward unless the terms of the agreement are clearly stated in writing. When interviewing companies remember to ask them about their “deletion rate.” The deletion rate is the percentage of negative accounts that are typically removed from a client’s profile. It will give you a good idea as to how effective their methods are.

6. Make sure electronic payments are available to track your investment:

Never pay with cash or deposit service fees into an account. Professional companies create a paper trail. They will accept credit cards or online payments that can be verified after the fact. You don’t necessarily have to meet face to face because most credit repair companies are set up to handle business virtually, but make sure that the company you deal with doesn’t ask you for unusual requests.

In a nutshell, there are several credit repair companies to choose from, some are good, some are not. It’s always in your best interest to review their credentials and verify their success.

Dollars and Sense: How Bankruptcy Lawyers Will Help You Out of Your Sticky Financial Situation

The word “bankruptcy” tends to strike fear into our hearts, especially if we’re going through financial trouble. But most people can’t see themselves ever filing for bankruptcy. The process seems like it’s made for failing businesses, government bodies, and other organizations. But personal bankruptcy laws exist to protect citizens who find themselves struggling with severe debt. If your finances drop into the red zone, taking the following steps will get you back on your feet:

Assess the Damage

Look closely at your financial portrait. If you owe large sums to multiple creditors, if collectors are calling your house, or if you find yourself paying for essentials with a credit card, you should start to consider remedying your situation. Begin by tallying up your financial assets – bank account balances, retirement funds, stocks and bonds, real estate, vehicles, and anything else of value. Once you have a grand total, compare it to the amount you owe. If your assets are worth less than your total debts, you should seriously consider filing for bankruptcy.

How Do I File?

You may voluntarily file for bankruptcy as soon as you determine it’s necessary. Alternatively, you may be compelled by your creditors to file. However your legal process originates, don’t try to navigate it by yourself. Get in touch with bankruptcy lawyers who will look closely at your circumstances and advise you on how to proceed. There are two different claims you can file, so an attorney will help you determine the legal route that best serves your interests.

Filing a Chapter 7 Claim

A Chapter 7 claim is fairly straightforward. If approved, this claim liquidates your assets and uses them to pay off a large chunk of your debt right away. In other words, it turns most of what you own into cash, and then distributes this cash among your creditors. It sounds scary, because you lose most of your holdings. But it’s not the end of the world – many people bounce back and rebuild their assets without all that debt holding them back. Especially with trusted bankruptcy lawyers on your side, this process can lead to a much-needed fresh start.

Filing a Chapter 13 Claim

Since they involve seizing most of the filer’s holdings, Chapter 7 claims aren’t great for people who own businesses, property, and other major assets. When you have large properties that you don’t want to lose, a Chapter 13 claim is the better choice. It allows people with consistent, predictable annual incomes to pay off debts over a three- to five-year grace period. Once a judge approves a Chapter 13 claim, creditors must stop contacting the debtor. The debtor then continues to work, paying off his or her debts as best they can during the grace period. No property or other assets are liquidated in this process.

Bankruptcy lawyers will tell you: filing isn’t so scary, and can drastically improve your situation. If you’re letting unpaid bills stack up and trying to ignore them, know that you can pursue legal options to relieve the stresses of debt and protect what you own.

Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress Review

Without a doubt, the best air mattress I have ever owned! The Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress is everything I’ve been searching years for, with no luck. I have a large family, with tons of kids, and sometimes not enough spare bedrooms for everyone. Over the past 12 years, I we have gone through at least 8 air mattresses, due to casualties of all different kinds. Some leak immediately, some leak after a while. Some are so difficult to pump up that you consider not deflating them at all. Then there was the honey incident. Enough said. Of course, our trusty dog Sierra saved us from attack by airbed and bit into it as soon as it inflated. Then there was the airbed that my baby (OK, 1,351bs of fur baby). Blaze decided to use as his bed. To be fair, I think it was more effected by his nails than his weight. Anyway. I have spent countless hours searching for something that would hold up. During a recent move, we were without furniture for several days and I purchased two of these air mattresses for the transition period. After my past experiences, you can say my expectations weren’t too high. I actually bought two, hoping that in case one didn’t make it through that weekend, we would have a spare to use. That was over a year ago, and I couldn’t be happier with this product.

The Soundasleep Dream Series Air is a true Queen size when inflated, with dimensions: 58″ x 78″ x 19″ deep. This is a nice, thick size for an air mattress, and any most queen sized sheets today are made with a depth up to 21″. That is the measurement you want to look for when buying sheets for this, or any other thick mattress. Deep pocket, or extra deep pocket will provide ample room for this substantial mattress.

Pros and Cons of the Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress

Pros:

• 40 coils provide for flat, firm support
• Inflates easily in under 4 minutes
• Waterproof top layer
• 1 click internal pump for inflation/deflation
• Sure grip bottom
• Puncture resistant
• 1 year warranty

Cons:

• Not for use as a permanent bed
• Not suitable for infants
• Large bulky size when inflated
• Slight plastic smell that fades

As with everything I buy, I first read the reviews on Amazon to get the real story about the Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress. This is, truth be told, why I ended up purchasing this specific item. People called it sturdy, comfortable, stable, and often compared it to sleeping in a real bed! Of course, this I didn’t believe. Maybe I just thought that I’m a real mattress snob, and other people may not be so picky. Nonetheless, these were the best reviews I’ve read, so I went for it. After all, it may not be as nice as my big comfy bed, but it’s sure to beat the floor.

I ordered two beds, and was pleased at their quick delivery. Although upon opening them, I noticed a slight plastic odor, it was expected, and faded in the few days before our big move. So fast forward a few days, and my real furniture is gone, and now it’s time to really find out how good the Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress is. I had a brief moment of panic upon realizing that I had not blown up either mattress to check for malfunctions. Thank goodness, this company makes a quality product.

That night, I slept like a baby on my new Soundasleep Dream Series Air Mattress, and woke up seriously surprised. No, seriously, I was on a new bed and in a new house, but neither disturbed my sleep. I personally only slept on this mattress for two more nights before getting our furniture set up, but have continued using it for family and guests without incident.