Category: Business Written by Damon Carr
When it comes to your money, you should know where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there. This all starts with the dreaded B-word—BUDGET. The very mention of the word budget sets off a feeling of confinement, restriction, limitation and loss of control. I admit there is a sense of confinement, restriction, and limitation associated with managing money—but it has nothing to do with a budget. What confines, restricts and limits us is the amount of money we make. Our income! So if you want to spend more, have more, and save more without sacrificing your lifestyle, you simply need to make more. A more formal definition of a budget would be a plan for spending, saving, and investing money. The importance of making a budget and sticking to it is to save for future goals while meeting present obligations.
Nobody wants to be tied down and confined—especially when it comes to our money. Most of us hold the position that it’s my money and I’m going to do as I please. You showed up to work, bust your butt and earned it. I’m with you—do as you please! Just do it on purpose with a plan that includes your needs, goals, desires, responsibilities, and commitments. Otherwise doing what pleases you today without planning can be the catalyst for what will destroy you tomorrow—financially speaking.
Now that we have a basic understanding of why a budget is important, how do we know that our budget is something that needs to be followed or something that needs to be changed. If you’re barely making it month to month or have “too much month left at the end of your money”, the telltale signs are evident—SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. But what is that something? How do you quickly identify the area in your budget that’s causing you problems? What if the telltale signs are not so apparent? You pay your bills on time each and every month. You have a few dollars left after the dust settles. Are you moving in the right direction? You manage to get the numbers to balance, but are you sacrificing your children’s college fund, your retirement plan, your entertainment and recreational activity or tithing? If you’re currently doing well financially, wouldn’t you like to do better? A healthy budget recognizes that there are a lot of things we need, want, and desire in life—all of which have a price tag attached to them. A healthy budget does not limit or restrict you to pursue the things you desire in life. It simply helps you to understand that money is finite. There’s only so much of it that will flow through our hands and we have to make the most of it.
I’ve compiled some budget percentage guidelines that will help guide you to ensure that as you spend money and obligate yourself to payments, you have considered that there are other things you want to do in life that requires money. These budget percentage guidelines will ensure that you’re not overspending or under funding a particular category.
•Tithing/Charitable Giving—10-15 percent
•Child Care/School 5-10 percent
These are guidelines and are not the universal standard. They are flexible and can be manipulated to line up with your priorities. The important thing to understand as you slice your money pie is that a bigger slice in one category will require a smaller slice in another category. For example, you can cheat up on the housing category allocating 40-percent of your income as long as you reduce your transportation category down to 5-percent.
Here’s how it works. You want to total the amount of money you bring home in your paycheck each month. We’re only concerned with our take home pay (net income) since what we take home in our paycheck is the only thing we can spend. From there you want to look at what you’re currently spending on a particular category. To calculate the percentage of a specific budget category, all you have to do is divide the amount budgeted for that category by your net income. For example, let’s assume that your net income is $2,000 per month. Each and every month you bring home about $2,000. Let’s further assume that your house payment is $900 per month, your car payment is $450 per month and your debts (personal loans and credit cards) are $300 per month. By dividing housing payment of $900 into your net income of $2,000 you calculate housing to equal 45 percent of your net income. By dividing car payment of $450 into your net income of $2,000, you calculate transportation to be 23 percent of your net income. By dividing your debt payment of $300 per month, you calculate debt to be 15 percent of your net income. By comparing these percentages to budget percentage guidelines, you see that you’re over spending in each in every category. By adding up the percentages in these categories you’ll see that housing, car and debt accounts for 83 percent of your net income and you still have to buy food and pay utilities among other things. This leaves very little if any for tithing, savings, entertainment and other things you aspire to do with money.
Leave it to me to use an example that paints a grim picture. My example is a close depiction of what’s taking place in most households. They camouflage their reality by using credit to finance the rest of their lifestyle. Like money, credit is finite; at some point you’ll max out your credit and be forced to accept the wisdom in the budget percentage guidelines. I’d rather heed the advice now and begin to sculpt my budget to align with my priorities, values and goals and get the biggest bang for my buck.
(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon Carr is the owner of ACE Financial. Damon can be reached at 412-856-1183.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 06:00
Category: Business Written by Debbie Vargus
Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series
APRIL 12—Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship will host the Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series from 7:30-9 a.m. at Chatham University, James Laughlin Music Hall, Woodland Road, Pittsburgh. Susan Gregg Koger, of ModCloth, will speak on the topic “Dresses and Successes: Turning a Passion for Vintage into a Global Business.” She will discuss how she turned a hobby into an e-retailer known for its innovative social shopping experience. Registration is required and the cost is $25. For more information, visit www.chatham.edu/cwe.
Social Media to Grow Sales
APRIL 16—Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management Inc. will host “Prospecting 2.0: How to Use Social Media to Grow Sales” from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Foster Plaza, 790 Holiday Dr., Pittsburgh. John Rosso and Lindsey Demetris will teach attendees how to use social media to take control of their sales pipeline. Reservations are required. For more information, call Lindsey Demetris at 412-928-9933 ext. 203.
APRIL 17—Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center will host QuickBooks Advanced from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Duquesne University, Rockwell Hall, 6000 Forbes Ave., Uptown. This workshop will help individuals become more knowledgeable with the program, and help them to learn how to save time and through its use. This is for Windows users only. Registration is required. For more information, call 412-396-1633.
Career Development Series
Academic & Career Information Session
APRIL 18—The Community College of Allegheny County South Campus will host an Academic & Career Information Session from 6-7:30 p.m. at 1750 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin. The topic will be “Engineering, Technology & Mathematics: Discover Educational & Career Opportunities.” Registration is requested and this is free and open to the public. For more information, call 412-469-4301.
Job Fair and College Expo
APRIL 19—The Community College of Allegheny County Boyce Campus will host a Job Fair & College Expo from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the CCAC Boyce Campus, Student Union, 595 Beatty Rd., Monroeville. There will be a job fair and a professional dress fashion show at 11 a.m. by the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 724-325-6771.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:54
Category: Business Written by James Clingman
(NNPA)—Thomas Boston, noted economist and author of Affirmative Action and Black Entrepreneurship, in which he called for a strategy that would establish and grow Black-owned businesses to the point of having the capacity to employ 20 percent of the Black workforce by the year 2010. Aptly titled, “Twenty by Ten”—A strategy for Black Business and Employment Growth in the Next Century,” Boston’s charge was right on point, especially since he wrote it in 1999.
When I read his book, “Twenty by Ten” seemed very doable to me. After all, we had 10 years to make it happen, not to mention the fact that if we implemented his plan, Black folks would be well on our way to a higher level of economic self-sufficiency. What an idea, I thought to myself; I was certain government officials and businesses sectors would jump on that idea and bring it to fruition.
Well, it’s been 13 years since Professor Boston called for “Twenty by Ten” and sadly, according to the last economic census, of the 1,197,864 Black firms, only 106,566 were employer firms, and they employed just 909,552 workers. Of course, we know all of those employees are not Black. Thus, we are shamefully behind Boston’s ideal, and according to a recent poll, we are not only behind we are seeking every solution except the one that he put forth in 1999.
The poll was commissioned by Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET, multiple business owner, and employer of many. Titled “Black Opinions in the Age of Obama,” and conducted by Zogby Analytics, the poll brought forth some very interesting responses from Black people. The area I will address in this column is Black employment.
When asked why they believed the Black unemployment rate was double that of Whites, respondents’ answers included, failure of the education system for minorities/African-Americans, lack of corporate commitment to hiring minorities/African-Americans, and a lack of good government policies.
When asked why the wealth gap has increased by $70,000 over the last 20 years, nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said that both the lack of jobs and a lack of access to capital were to blame for the wealth gap between Whites and African-Americans. When respondents were asked if they have ever been overlooked or felt discounted as a serious contender for employment because they were Black, nearly half (47 percent) replied “Yes.”
While the answers are all valid and reasonable, I was struck by the absence of any response that suggested what Thomas Boston called for over a decade ago: More Black businesses hiring more Black people. There was a noticeable lack of onus put “on us” when the subject turned to unemployment and wealth creation/retention.
I am not trying to wrap all of our problems into a neat little package called “Twenty by Ten,” but I am attempting to point out a flaw in our thinking and a gap in our own responsibility toward Black economic empowerment. Yes, we have need of solutions to the many problems we face, but many can be resolved if we would follow the perfectly sensible business model of starting and growing more Black businesses to the point of having the capacity to hire more Black people.
Yes, the government has a role to play. Yes, the private sector has a role to play. But what is our role? I am so tired of hearing so-called leaders beg for “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” from folks who are too busy taking care of their own to worry about us. It drives me crazy that there is no call for “Businesses! Businesses! Businesses!” We must get back to common sense strategies for growth of the Black economy, which means we must produce more, or at least just as much, as we consume. And, we must hire more of our people. Others certainly have an obligation to hire us as well, no doubt. But we cannot keep chanting slogans and begging them without, at the same time, building and growing our own employment base.
Professor Boston noted, “Without question, economic inclusion is the next civil rights frontier…promoting the growth of Black owned business means reducing society’s unemployment burden, providing jobs where they are most needed and improving the income status of people who are too often trapped below the poverty line. Because the economy can grow as a result of economic inclusion, everyone can benefit.”
Let’s look inward as well as outward for solutions to our problems. Let’s have our own economic inclusion policy by dusting off “Twenty by Ten” and renaming it “Twenty by Twenty.”
(Jim Clingman can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.)
Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 09:51
Category: Business Written by Associated Press
EXTREME CASE--James Weitze satisfies his video fix with an iPhone. He sleeps most of the time in his truck, and has no apartment. (AP Photo/James Weitze)
by Ryan Nakashima
AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some people have had it with TV. They've had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don't like timing their lives around network show schedules. They're tired of $100-plus monthly bills.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 19:35
Category: Business Written by Courier Newsroom
Because of the end-of-the-year “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the IRS delayed the start of tax filing season until Jan. 30 this year. Some taxpayers faced further delays in filing, including those who claimed residential energy credits or whose returns involved property depreciation or general business credits. With or without delays, there are always those who end up filing their taxes at the last minute. The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) offers these tips for people who scramble to get their returns in by the April deadline.
1. Don’t panic
Even if you’ve been putting off filing your return, you can still get it in on time. Take that important first step: locate all the documents you need and organize your paperwork. Sometimes that can be the hardest part.
2. Check your facts
It's much more stressful to get your return done in a hurry, and errors may creep in if you’re rushing. Take extra care to double check your figures and confirm that your Social Security number and other data on your return are correct.
3. Go electronic
Instead of standing in long lines at the post office, take advantage of the opportunity to file your returns electronically. According to the IRS, nearly 100 million taxpayers used the e-file option last year. You can use the IRS Free File system or ask your CPA to prepare and file your return electronically for you.
4. Talk to an expert
Speaking of CPAs, if you are running behind and don’t usually use a tax preparer, this may be the year to put a CPA’s expertise to work for you. A CPA can quickly tell you what paperwork you need and make sense of your tax situation, taking this burden off your shoulders.
5. Get it done
Know that if your return is late and you owe taxes, you could face interest and penalties that can really add up. If you don’t file a return at all, the IRS can assess tax based on the information it has—which may not include exemptions or deductions you deserve—and begin a collection process. Even if it will take a lot of effort to get your return done on time, it’s worth it.
6. Consider an extension
If you can’t file your return on time, you may be eligible for a six-month extension of the due date, but keep in mind that you still must properly estimate the amount you will owe and pay that amount by the regular deadline. If you don’t, you may be subject to interest and penalties. It may be possible to avoid a late payment penalty if you can show reasonable cause for missing the deadline. An automatic two-month extension to file a return and pay taxes is available to taxpayers who are out of the country on the normal due date because they reside overseas or they are on military duty outside the United States.
7. File even if you can’t pay
If you’ve been putting off filing because you don’t have the money you owe, don’t fail to send in your return. The IRS offers payment plans to eligible taxpayers who can’t pay their taxes all at once. If you’re not financially able to pay your tax debt immediately, you may qualify for an installment agreement that allows you to make payments over time. Your local CPA can help determine if you qualify for IRS payment plans and help you apply for one.
Your CPA can help
Whether you’re racing to finish your return or facing questions about other aspects of your financial life, be sure to turn to your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your critical financial concerns.
(To find a CPA in Pennsylvania by location or area of expertise, visit www.IneedaCPA.org.)
Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 09:47
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