My Money Design http://www.mymoneydesign.com Designing Financial Freedom Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:37:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 I Want to Be Your Personal Money Coach – A Free Giveaway http://www.mymoneydesign.com/lifestyle/career/personal-money-coach/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/lifestyle/career/personal-money-coach/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:00:50 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6523 For years now I’ve had this idealistic vision in my head that someday when I reach financial freedom and retire early that I’m going to become a money coach.  There’s just one problem … I’ve never actually been a money coach – to anyone ever. That creates a little bit of a situation for me.  [...]

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money coachFor years now I’ve had this idealistic vision in my head that someday when I reach financial freedom and retire early that I’m going to become a money coach.  There’s just one problem … I’ve never actually been a money coach – to anyone ever.

That creates a little bit of a situation for me.  How can I really know if that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life if I’ve never actually gave it a try?  What if I test it out and find that its not for me?  What if I’m no good at it?

Or more realistically – what if I find out all this (what I think is) great advice I have to offer is really nothing more than superficial tips that barely scratch the surface?  Perhaps I’ll find that I need to dig deeper into certain topics to really be effective.

Taking a step back from all of this, I ask myself: Why wait?

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is and find out what I need to know.  And luckily that means I’ve got a very sweet deal for you:

 

Let Me Be Your Money Coach!

Starting today, I’m willing to start on this adventure and take on ONE client completely for free.   This is not a joke.  All you have to do to qualify is leave a comment below and explain to me why it should be you.  If you’re the one selected, then I’ll send you private email and we’ll get started.

You can be a My Money Design reader, a friend/relative of a reader, a non-reader – it really doesn’t matter.  This offer is open to practically anyone who wants help with managing their finances.

The ideal candidate would be someone who ACTUALLY needs help with money.  If you’re already maxing out your 401k and IRA and have practically no debt, then you’re not really going to make a great first candidate.  And quite frankly – you probably don’t need my help.  The type of person or couple I’m looking for is someone who needs guidance on how to save for retirement or struggling to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.

 

What You’ll Get From This Deal:

To start off we’ll have a phone or email conversation about what it is you want to accomplish.  I’ve got some check-points that I’ll want to hit on.  But realistically I’m more interested to hear what your struggles are and to see if there is anything I can do to help you.

At a schedule that works for both of us, we’ll check in with each other and see how the changes we make are taking shape.  Are they working?  Not working?  Do we need revisions?  These are all the kinds of things I want to discuss.

I will need the candidate to be very transparent with me about their finances.  I don’t need your social security or anything shady like that.  But I will need you to be honest with me about your savings and spending habits.  Otherwise it will be impossible to make a budget or figure out how much money you can be saving if you don’t let me see the complete picture.

Keep in mind this will be an evolving process as it progresses.  I’ll be learning just as much about how to actually be a money coach as you are about how to manage your finances.  So we’ll really be helping each other.

 

Full Disclosure:

As I’ve already stated – I’ve never done this before!

I’m not really a true money coach.  I’m in no way a financial adviser.   I have no certifications or credentials.  I’m just a regular guy who runs a money blog and is looking to gain some experience at this profession.

I’m pretty sure legally I can’t give any specific advice about which stocks to invest in or things like that.  I’m also certain that because I’m not a tax professional I can’t really comment on specific tax related items.  But I can make well known generalities about stocks and taxes that you could easily verify on the Internet.  For example: It’s common knowledge that capital gains and dividends are taxed at lower rates than ordinary earned income.

 

One Catch – You’ll Be Published On My Money Design:

Here’s the one catch to this whole thing and an absolute MUST to qualify:   You have to be willing to allow me to discuss the whole thing on my blog here.

Don’t worry!  No names or identities will be revealed.  Everything will remain completely anonymous.  The only thing people will ever see are snapshots of your financial situation.  That’s it.  They could be anybody’s financial situation.

One big benefit that the candidate may not even realize is that by publishing this information on my blog you’ll actually be opening yourself up to advice from not just me but the whole personal finance community.  That could turn out to be more beneficial for you in the long run since my readers might have advice and suggestions for you beyond what I would think to offer.

Again, if you’re interested in taking me up on my offer and feel you could work within the requirements I’ve laid out here, then please feel free to respond below and let’s get started!

To anyone who is a money coach already – what kinds of questions do you think I should start off my asking?  I’ve got quite a few in mind but would like to hear what you think?

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Niche Website Update 21 – Getting Interested Again in Affiliate Marketing – Plus $853 in Income http://www.mymoneydesign.com/passive-income-2/blogging-passive-income-2/niche-website-21-affiliate-marketing/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/passive-income-2/blogging-passive-income-2/niche-website-21-affiliate-marketing/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 09:00:20 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6512 Its official – summer is over.  The kids are back in school, the pool is closed, and I’m scheduling the sprinkler system to be winterized. In terms of my online business, that also means that I’m running out of time to hit the goals I had set with my niche websites before 2014 comes to [...]

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online marketingIts official – summer is over.  The kids are back in school, the pool is closed, and I’m scheduling the sprinkler system to be winterized.

In terms of my online business, that also means that I’m running out of time to hit the goals I had set with my niche websites before 2014 comes to a close.

Personally I feel like each of my websites has got a LONG, LONG ways to go.  Which can be both a fun and creative thing.  I’m not just talking in terms of making money.  I also mean in developmental things like content, SEO, traffic, etc.  Those are the kinds of activities that I believe will ultimately bring in the money if you do them right for the long run.

… even if no one wants to help you get those activities done (a funny story about that below).

Let’s recap the month and see what we were able to accomplish with my four niche sites in August.

 

Niche Website Income – August 2014:

Here’s the breakdown for August.

Niche Website Income Aug 2014

Most of this income was all from Google Adsense and private advertising.  But to be honest – I’ve grown a little discouraged with myself for only allowing these sites to rely on these basic forms of income and not doing more to test other sources and diversify.  And that’s partly why I’m thankful for what came next.

 

Rekindling the Spirit with Affiliate Income:

One of the best inspirations I had this month came from this post on Yakezie written by Financial Samurai.  It was a motivational piece about why we should all be trying to work on finding the right affiliate products to promote.

By the end of the post I said to myself – Why not?

In the past I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with affiliate advertising.  I loved it when it actually worked and I made money.  But I hated it all the other times when I’d check my account and find I had made absolutely no money for the month.

The other thing I found difficult (more-so in my early days of writing) was sounding too much like a bad pitch-man in my posts trying to shamelessly promote this whatever product.  (Fortunately I’ve gotten better about with this and have found much more subtle ways to promote products I actually use.)

However, despite all that I decided to give it another go with affiliate advertising.  The Yakezie post was 100% right in that affiliate income is truly an amazing way to earn unlimited passive income.  You’re only limited by how traffic and conversions you can get.

Thankfully Financial Samurai was able to hook me up with the Personal Capital affiliate program.  I quickly spoke with the affiliate manger on the phone and ultimately ended up placing ads on 3 of my websites.  (You can get setup with your own direct affiliate account too.)

How did that work out for me?  See for yourself.  Here are the results of my affiliate income versus Google Adsense:

Affiliate

vs

Adsense

Hmm … $0 vs $257?

So why did I compare these two methods of income?  Was it to try to show you that Adsense was better than using an affiliate program?

Actually – I did it to show you the opposite.

Notice that between 3 ads on NS1 I only made $257 in income.  That’s an average of $86 per ad spot.  The Personal Capital ad pays out almost 15% than that for just ONE conversion.

What are the chances of getting one conversion?   Let’s play the odds:

Let’s say that over time for every 100 impressions, I get one person who clicks on the ad.

For every 100 clicks on the ad, now let’s say I get 1 conversion.

That’s 1 / (100 x 100) = 1 conversion for every 10,000 impressions.

Since NS1 gets over 10,000 impressions, that means statistically I should be able to pull in at least one commission per month from the ad!

1/10000 is also a generally pretty low assumption for a conversion rate.  Therefore I’m assuming that this should be a minimum goal and I should be able to do better than this in reality.  But time will tell the whole story.

The lesson learned: Even though I’ve had some pretty good luck being strategic with Google Adsense, there are more opportunities out there to make additional streams of income.  As a matter of fact I’ve started rethinking about what other kinds of products I could be appealing to as part of my affiliate income strategy.  So over the next month I’ll likely be applying for new products and experimenting with other affiliate relationships to see how we do.

 

It’s So Hard to Find Good Help – Failures for NS3 and NS4:

There’s nothing worse than when you’ve got good money to spend and people won’t take it.

That’s exactly the problem I had with hiring freelance writers this month.  On two separate occasions I made attempts to find people to write large batch of articles for me.  Unfortunately – they both failed!

Here’s what happened:

I got all excited when I read this post by Hayden Miyamoto on Niche Pursuits that talked about some of their recent successes with building niche sites that specifically targeted long-tail keywords.  Thinking of how I could apply this my two struggling sites NS3 and NS4, I decided to do some new keyword research and unveiled some really juicy, high volume, high CPC, low-low-low competition keywords!  Here’s a screen shot of the keyword lot I found for NS3:

Long Tail Pro

(If you’re not using Long Tail Pro, click on the image to check it out further).

Boom!  Now all I needed to do was outsource these post writing assignments and get these puppies published.

Unfortunately I wish it were that easy …

The first guy was producing 10 pieces of content for NS4.  His first post was terrible and it required about a 75% re-write of the content.  Then after a week of waiting on him to send me the second post, I follow-up and received a reply that “his computer was broken and it would not be fixed until 6 weeks later”.

What??  That contract was promptly canceled.

The second contract never even happened.  I reached out to a writer I had used in the past to write for my NS3 site.  Even though we emailed back and forth on it and seemed like we were all good-to-go, the writer never accepted my offer.  Therefore no content was ever produced for NS3.

Too bad for these two sites.  But perhaps I should interpret this misfortune as a sign from above to leave these 2 niche sites alone.  Maybe?

 

Did I Write an eBook?

One of the secret projects I eluded too in my post about My Money Design turning 3 is that I’ve been quietly writing a whole eBook.

However I did something with it that you’re probably not supposed to do with an eBook.  I published it all on NS2 for free!

Why would I do such a thing and decide to publish the whole thing as a blog post on my niche website instead?  Here’s why:

  • I don’t know anything about publishing / promoting an eBook.
  • The eBook market for the topic I wrote about is already saturated.
  • I really wanted to test this mantra that Google keeps preaching to us that bigger, better, juicier content will be rewarded in the Google rankings.
  • I felt this would also be a very good opportunity to expand upon affiliate product promotion.

The post is truly a work of art.  It’s over 7,500 words of completely useful material.  However I probably won’t reveal it here since many other bloggers are in competition with me for the same keyword.

Currently my post is doing HORRIBLE in terms of the search rankings for my chosen keyword.  However it’s still new and it’s receiving a trickle of comments from real people who are finding it to be very helpful.  So perhaps by next month it will get the love and attention I feel it deserves!

(Plus let’s not rule out the possibility that some day I always could always re-release the content as an eBook.)

Readers – I need a little help here.  Who here has had great luck with affiliate marketing on your niche website or blog?  If so, what were your tricks?  On a different note does anyone have any experience with publishing eBooks?  Any advice for where to go after you have all your content? 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Going Back to School on a Budget as an Adult http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/savings-budgeting/back-to-school-on-a-budget/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/savings-budgeting/back-to-school-on-a-budget/#respond Sat, 06 Sep 2014 00:01:42 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6498 Going back to school isn’t just for the little ones.  It can be a time for grown-ups to get anxiety too.  And not just over the work they’ll have to do. If you’ve noticed the job market is saturated with candidates that have bachelor’s degrees, you’ve possibly considered getting a graduate degree to give yourself [...]

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back to school on a budgetGoing back to school isn’t just for the little ones.  It can be a time for grown-ups to get anxiety too.  And not just over the work they’ll have to do.

If you’ve noticed the job market is saturated with candidates that have bachelor’s degrees, you’ve possibly considered getting a graduate degree to give yourself an edge.

But balancing family expenses is hard enough without adding tuition and books.  Plus don’t forget all those hours invested in working on projects and studying.

You might even convince yourself that paying for a graduate degree and keeping your family afloat is nearly impossible.  But remember – you’re not the first adult who’s gone back to school while working, parenting, etc.

If you’re in this boat, here are a few good tips for back to school on a budget and keeping those family expenses in check.

 

Examine Your Family’s Spending and Expenses:

Narrowing down your family’s expenses and creating a simple family financial plan is always on the table.

For example – Nearly 90 percent of all American households paid for their TV, according to a 2011 report by Nielsen. In summer of 2014, nearly 50 million households had a Netflix subscription. These are comfort conveniences that you can cut. It may cause an uproar, but you can easily subscribe again after your degree is finished.

Have your family save receipts for every purchase they make. At the end of four weeks, gather and sort them to find where your family is spending the most. You can easily trim down stops at Starbucks with a to-go mug or trim eating out to a weekly or bi-weekly event to save.  Set up a budget for necessary expenses like utilities, insurance, and groceries so you know what you absolutely must bring in each month.

 

Become a Bargain Hunter:

The Internet overflows with blogs about saving money while shopping, from blogs about couponing to websites that find the best local deals, making it easier to save. Extreme couponing isn’t likely something you’ll accomplish during grad school, but every bit helps.

Another way to cut back on household expenses is to re-evaluate where you shop.  Instead of spending tons on clothes and shoes for the family at the mall, consider stopping at local thrift stores instead. There are ample stores to choose from, and most stores scrutinize what goes out to the floor to avoid a “junk store” reputation. It’s not uncommon to find name brand or designer clothes and shoes at thrift or resale shops for pennies compared to the prices at the mall.

 

Research Funding Options:

Before you resign yourself to the idea of racking up student loan debt, spend some time researching programs that might help you with tuition. There are thousands of scholarships, fellowships, and grants available to those who put in the effort to look. Applying for grants is simpler than applying for scholarships, but they shouldn’t be the only funding option you consider. Check with your employer and see if they offer tuition reimbursement. Many employers will pay back all or part of the cost of getting more college education.

 

Find the Balance:

Once you’ve trimmed expenses and budgeted your dollars, you may find you still need to work while taking your graduate classes. Night courses and online programs help make this possible, but it may take longer than two years. Educational institutions like Ohio University have online master’s programs for several fields, including nursing, business, and engineering.

It’s definitely a challenge balancing family going back to school on a budget.  But you can do it when you use these tips, and your family will be all the better for it.

 

Image via Flickr by Oliver Bildesheim

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3 High Risk High Return Investments You Should Get to Know http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/stocks/high-risk-high-return-investments/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/stocks/high-risk-high-return-investments/#respond Fri, 05 Sep 2014 01:51:45 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6489 When most people talk about investing, their goal is to complete alleviate risk while earning as much money as possible. Although it’s never possible to alleviate risk, it is possible to reduce it if you’re willing to accept a low return.However, what if you’re willing to take on a bit of extra risk for the [...]

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high risk high return investmentsWhen most people talk about investing, their goal is to complete alleviate risk while earning as much money as possible.

Although it’s never possible to alleviate risk, it is possible to reduce it if you’re willing to accept a low return.However, what if you’re willing to take on a bit of extra risk for the prospect of a higher return rate?

What do you do then? Well, here are 3 high risk high return investments that you can take part in.

 

Binary Options:

When it comes to high risk, high return investment vehicles, binary options happen to be my favorite. With binary options, you’re not purchasing a stock or bond. Instead, it’s up to you to predict whether the value of an asset will rise or fall over the course of a predetermined period of time.

If you’re correct, you stand to earn rewards as high as 80%. However, if your predictions are incorrect, you stand a chance at losing a large portion, or even all of your initial investment.

While this may seem to be incredibly risky, and is definitely considered to be a high risk form of investment, by doing your research and making educated trades, you can minimize risk while earning incredibly high returns.

 

Junk Bonds:

Junk Bonds are another favorite, high risk, high return investment vehicle. When most investors think of bonds, they generally think that they’re low risk, low reward. While that assumption holds true when the company issuing the bond has a good credit rating; it’s not always exactly how bonds work. There is a class of bonds that are considered to be “Junk Bonds”.

These bonds are issued by companies with less than good credit ratings, so purchasing them inherently comes with a high level of risk. However, to entice investors into taking the risk, companies that issue Junk Bonds issue them with higher than average interest rates; creating an opportunity for great earnings.

 

Speculation Investing:

Another one of the high risk high return investments you should at least be aware of is something called speculative investing.

If you take part in this strategy, your goal would be to find incredibly low priced stocks; generally stocks that trade for $1.00 or lower. The idea behind this type of trading is that if you purchase a stock at $1.00 per share and the value of that stock increases by only $0.10 per share, you still earn a 10% return. However, because these stocks are priced so low, and have poor market capitalization, their values tend to vary rapidly; making them a bit more risky than some investors are willing to stomach.

 

Final Thoughts:

Well, there you have it. If you’re tired of investing in low risk, low return investments that make you wait years to see a sizeable return, the strategies and investment vehicles mentioned above can be your key to quick returns. However, it’s always important to remember that with exceptionally high returns tend to come with an elevated level of risk. So, do your research and always trade responsibly.

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Tax Saving Strategies and Outsmarting the System – A Book Review http://www.mymoneydesign.com/books/investing-retirement/tax-saving-strategies-outsmarting-system/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/books/investing-retirement/tax-saving-strategies-outsmarting-system/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:00:42 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6464 One of the principles I preach here on My Money Design about building your wealth is to find smart ways to KEEP more of what you earn.  And in no other way can you accomplish this more than by using the right tax saving strategies to help avoid paying more than you have to. I [...]

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Tax Saving Strategies One of the principles I preach here on My Money Design about building your wealth is to find smart ways to KEEP more of what you earn.  And in no other way can you accomplish this more than by using the right tax saving strategies to help avoid paying more than you have to.

I say that because taxes are something that eats into your finances no matter how low or high your income is.  In fact the more money you make, the worse your tax bill becomes because it scales upward with your earnings to the point where it could potentially be one of the largest expenses you have.

But with the right tax planning strategies it doesn’t have to be this way.  There are many ways to lower your tax bill that you probably either don’t use or simply don’t even know about.

Lots of creative people have figured out legal tax savings strategies to avoid paying more than they have to.  And they’re willing to share that knowledge with you.

Surprisingly this one used to work as an IRS agent …

 

Outsmarting the System by Anthony Campidonica:

I LOVE to read a good personal finance book.  So when an author reaches out to me and offers to send me a free copy of their work, the least I can do is accept their invitation and then share what I’ve learned with you.

That’s exactly what author Tony Campidonica did.  He emailed me about his book Outsmarting the System and advertised it as being about “teaching people how to reach financial freedom by lowering their taxes in the same ways as the rich”.

What a beautiful topic!  How could I resist?

About the Author:

Outsmarting the SystemThe first thing you need to know is that Tony Campidonica is a past IRS agent.  This gives him a unique perspective as to what the actual tax savings strategies really are in terms of what’s legal and what’s not.

As he describes there were many avenues and strategies “the rich” were using to lower their tax bill that most people didn’t even know they could take advantage of.

After a number of years he left the agency and now works independently as a consultant who uses his knowledge to help “the little guys” like you and me work on our own tax reduction strategies.

A Very Encouraging Message:

One of the things I love about this book is how motivational it is.  Even if you don’t follow any of the advice Tony presents, the message behind the writing should still persuade you to re-evaluate your own tax situation and what you can do to improve it.

Overall I whole-heartedly agree that the average person is NOT doing everything they can to reduce their taxable income and properly take advantage of all the options that are out there.

The unfortunate thing is that most of the time the reason many people don’t is simply out of ignorance.  They simply choose not to understand or take the time to get to know these rules when in fact they could be saving thousands and thousands of dollars in taxes every year.

 

Tony’s Tax Saving Strategies:

In general the tax reduction strategies that Tony presents fall into one of three categories:

  1. Being an investor
  2. Being a landlord
  3. Being a small business owner

The content goes into great detail about how each of these tax savings strategies could be applied to your situation for your own personal gain.

Being an Investor.

Making money from the stock market isn’t the only way to get rich as an investor.

Do you remember the 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and what a big deal the media made out of how little he pays in taxes?

Tony describes how most of Mitt’s income was derived from qualified dividends and long-term capital gains; both of which you may be surprised to learn are taxed at much lower rates than the taxes you or I pay on the income we earn from our paychecks.  When you’re talking about someone as wealthy as Mitt Romney, that’s millions of dollars in taxes saved!

This is a perfect example of a wealthy individual legally using the tax system to reduce how much they owe the IRS.

Being a Landlord.

Did you know that as a landlord you can reduce your total tax bill by claiming expenses associated with up-keeping the rental property?

It’s true.  Many of the things that you wouldn’t normally get to claim on your primary residence (like repairs, home owners insurance, HOA fees, etc.) are allowed if they apply to a rental property.

Not only that, Tony describes how you may be able to also use depreciation and losses to even further lower your taxes.

Being a Small Business Owner.

This is the area that most of the chapters of the book are devoted to.  In it Tony describes many advantages where being a small business owner can help you to claim certain expenses and pay yourself more in profit sharing.  In addition he also helps you to lay out plans for how to get there.

Earlier this year I found that out to be true for myself. Through making an income with my blogging, I discovered I could reduce my taxable income by about $750 if I choose to saves a portion of it in a SEP IRA.  You can read all about it here and see if it’s something you would qualify for as well.

 

More Tax Reduction Strategies:

In addition to the tax saving strategies shown above, there are plenty of other ones that I subscribe to.

401k, IRA, and Other Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts.

One place where the book and I disagreed was in Chapter 2 where Tony presents taxable brokerage accounts as being more advantageous than tax-deferred retirement accounts (such as a regular 401k plan).  He then demonstrates a very simplified example that I feel does not entirely paint the whole picture of the situation.

Make no mistake – Tax deferred retirement accounts offer you HUGE, undeniable tax savings over the course of your life!

How much?  A while back I crunched the numbers for a hypothetical example and came up with almost $2 million more dollars in assets when you used your 401k!  You can see my entire taxable vs tax-deferred comparison here.

Sure there are some benefits to using a regular brokerage account.  For example it makes a great compliment to your overall retirement portfolio if you plan on trying to achieve an early retirement because you don’t have the same age restrictions as you do with an IRA or 401k.

However that doesn’t compare to this simple fact: The ability of a tax-deferred investment account to compound over time for years and years without any taxes being taken is and always will make it superior to most other taxable savings account options.

Flexible Spending Accounts:

As a family man another tax reduction strategy I’ve used over the years was to participate in flexible spending accounts to reduce my costs for child daycare and medical costs.

The way a flexible spending account works is a portion of your paycheck is deferred into an escrow before taxes are taken out.  You then pay for your qualified daycare expenses and medical expenses using this tax-free money.

Let’s say your tax rate is about 25%.  That’s basically like giving yourself an extra 25% more money in dependent and medical care expenses to cover these costs.

If you haven’t already I’d highly encourage you to check with the HR department at your employer to see if you can participate in such a plan.

529 College Savings:

If you plan to save money for your children to go to college, another tax saving strategy you can use is to do it through a 529 plan.  Though the contributions are usually only tax deductible through your State and not at the Federal level, the earnings do grow tax-free and are not subject to taxes when you use them for college expenses.

Understanding How the Marginal Tax Brackets Work:

Though it can be a little more complex at first, I do see a tremendous amount of benefit in understanding how the marginal tax bracket system works and what you can do with it to exploit them to your benefit.

For example: Let’s say you’ve saved a lot of money for retirement and plan to give yourself $132,500 in income each year.  How much in taxes do you think you’d have to pay?

0% if you know how to structure it properly!  That’s not a joke or gimmick.  Using a combination of the concepts above plus knowing where the marginal tax brackets start and stop could really make this into a reality.  Read here to see my complete example for how to have a completely tax free retirement.

 

Conclusions:

If you’re new to understanding what kinds of tax saving strategies are out there, then I’d recommend reading Outsmarting the System.  Not only is it easy to read and comprehend, but you’ll find the information just as useful as you will find the theme of the book to be encouraging.

Don’t be jealous of the wealthy.  Beat them at their own game.  Use these tax reduction strategies to your advantage and KEEP more of YOUR money.

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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How to Reach an IRS Installment Agreement http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/taxes-personal-finance-2/how-to-reach-an-irs-installment-agreement/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/taxes-personal-finance-2/how-to-reach-an-irs-installment-agreement/#respond Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:59:37 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6481 No one intentionally falls behind on their taxes unless they’re taking cues from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (which by the way will hardly work in your defense in court). While Thoreau ended up spending a night in jail and getting some material for his book, most of us would prefer to avoid the penalties imposed for [...]

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How to Reach an IRS Installment AgreementNo one intentionally falls behind on their taxes unless they’re taking cues from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (which by the way will hardly work in your defense in court).

While Thoreau ended up spending a night in jail and getting some material for his book, most of us would prefer to avoid the penalties imposed for tax delinquency.

For those who have found themselves unable to meet their tax requirements with the federal government due to a poor financial situation, one viable solution might be figuring out how to reach an IRS installment agreement.

 

What is an Installment Agreement:

Because the IRS would prefer that it receive at least some portion of your prescribed tax obligations, it is often willing to come to a compromise with the taxpayer in terms of the payment timeline and the incremental amounts one pays to satisfy his or her total debt.

This IRS installment agreement has certain restrictions in place to ensure its proper use and execution but generally speaking, the IRS is receptive to arrangements for payment installments on tax liabilities that amount to less than $25,000 dollars in total.

If your tax liability exceeds that threshold, you might encounter greater difficulty in coming to an agreement with the IRS and might require the assistant of a professional service to finesse the process for you and get you a better chance of approval from the government.

 

How to Reach an IRS Installment Agreement:

When you are ready to apply for your monthly installment plan, it is imperative that you take the time to ensure your plan is one to which you will be able to adhere.If you are unsure if the amount of each installment is realistically attainable for your budget, you are putting yourself at risk of defaulting on an already compromised upon debt.

Spend some extra time with an accredited firm of tax debt professionals like 800Tax who have knowledge about IRS installment agreement to make sure you have all of the required documents and a realistic set of expectations going into the application process. Being well-equipped before you dive into a long term payment plan will keep you informed and prepared for your financial planning in the future.

 

How to Apply for a Monthly Installment Plan:

When you’ve met with the proper agency to prepare your documents and make sure that everything is in order for the application, you can visit the IRS website to download their Form 9465 which is the Installment Agreement Request. To assess the total amount of your tax liability, you can refer to your last tax return document of any notice you might have received in the mail from the IRS.

Tax SolutionsWhen you are filling out the application for the request, most of the information is fairly straightforward. They’ll ask for your name, residential, banking, employment and spousal information.

The form takes into account additional payment obligation information such how much you are paid and how frequently it occurs, what you pay each month in premiums for your health care coverage, what you pay each month if you own a car, as well as any dependents you may have.

This information all contributes to the IRS’ ability to assess whether or not the proposed installment agreement is a fair and viable compromise that fits your specific needs and financial obligations relative to your income.

In addition to the basic 9465 form for submission, the IRS has instructions for filing your request available on their website on the same page. The instructional document includes recent changes to the process in case you have applied for an installment agreement before.

An example of the recent changes is that the processing fee required for submitting an application for the installment agreement has increased from $105 dollars to $120 dollars by check, money order, credit card, or automatic payroll deduction. This fee is something to take into account when you are considering the viability of an IRS installment agreement request.

 

General Timeline:

If you are able to submit the total amount of money owed with your tax liability within 120 days, it is generally not advisable to apply for an installment agreement. You will avoid having to pay the $120 dollar application fee and can simply apply to make a payment in full either online or by calling the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

 

Getting a Guaranteed Agreement:

In certain cases, you may be eligible for automatic approval of your installment proposal. If you owe less than $10,000 dollars total for your tax liability, have not applied for a tax installment plan in the past five years, agree to satisfy all tax debt obligations within a three year period, and can prove that you are not able to pay for your tax liability in the established time-frame, the IRS will accept your request. There is some flexibility in terms of your ability to pay on time if your total debt is indeed lower than $10,000 dollars.

While resolving tax debts might seem like a fairly complex process, learning how to reach an IRS installment agreement will be worth the feeling when you receive approval and can move on with your financial life.

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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How to Remove Disputes from Credit Report History and Get a Higher Score http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/credit/how-to-remove-disputes-from-credit-report/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/personal-finance-2/credit/how-to-remove-disputes-from-credit-report/#respond Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6472 It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and credit report. I have been been doing my homework in this area, and I am thrilled to report that my credit score has risen dramatically due to some simple efforts I made. Here’s what was holding me back. I’m pretty [...]

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How to Remove Disputes from Credit ReportIt is always a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score and credit report.

I have been been doing my homework in this area, and I am thrilled to report that my credit score has risen dramatically due to some simple efforts I made. Here’s what was holding me back.

I’m pretty conscientious when it comes to paying my bills on time. But a year ago my wife and I moved to a new city. Though we canceled our utility accounts only after the final balances had been paid, my credit report showed an unpaid partial month.

Because we changed addresses twice in 3 months, I guess written confirmation never found me, and we were never notified any other way. I only noticed the negative mark on my credit report when I checked AnnualCreditReport.com, after it had already moved to collections. Luckily, this was the only problem on my report.

It was about this time that I finally received a letter from collections. They had received the rights to my debt. The dollar amount was small, but I decided to ask for validation of the collection agency’s right to the debt. They are required by law to prove to you that they actually have the right to pursue you and demand payment. These laws are in place to eliminate some of the old, predatory practices that used to be the norm in the industry.

Fortunately for people like you and me, the requirements placed upon these collection agencies are very strict. Unless they are able to provide very detailed proof that they own the rights to your debt, they must clear your record. They also, in this case, have to prove that the charge is valid in the first place.

Mistakes on your credit report are surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) common. Because the three Credit Reporting Agencies get their information about you from every lender/creditor you use, there are many opportunities for mistakes.  If you’d like to know how to remove disputes from credit report history, then read on to see how I was able to do it.  Within time you’ll have the CRA (or collection agency in this case) jumping through all the hoops to prove to your satisfaction that your debt is valid. Or they might just delete the offending item, because it’s too much trouble to gather all the materials to validate your debt. For you, this would be the ideal result.

I sent the collection agency a letter like this. This is just an example. I’d recommend that you put it in your own words if you decide to send one of your own. But there are some key points to note:

1) Identify the specific debt they say you owe. Company name and account number.

2) Explain why you believe this to be an error.

3) Get a certificate of mailing to prove you sent the letter. You have 30 days from the time the Collections people contact you to take action.

4) Tell them to either verify the debt or have it removed from your account.

5) Inform them that they can only contact you by mail, not phone or any other form of communication.

The linked sample letter has some other helpful hints that will help make this process successful.

My story all happened some weeks ago. I waited and waited, never getting a written response from the collection agency. Then about a week ago I received a notification from Experian that my credit score had suddenly jumped 57 points. When I checked, the old item was removed. This was the first time I had personally taken advantage of the debt validation requirements of the FTC. The resolution was pretty swift, and the difference it made on my credit score was surprising. I expected it to go up a bit, but this took me from a pretty good score to a really excellent one.

I wish this mark had never appeared on my report in the first place. Because my wife and I made a couple of major purchases in the past year, I’m sure we could have secured slightly lower interest rates had my score been where it is now. Whatever the case, I’m going to pay close attention to this in the future.

Luckily, this was my only negative mark. You may have far more. Here is a link to AnnualCreditReport.com’s credit report and dispute filing page. Here is some more information from the FTC on disputing credit report items such as this.

This may take a little work, but it can work wonders for your credit history. Take advantage of the free resources for learning about how to remove disputes from credit report history and take the steps necessary to better your credit standing. This will make a huge difference in the interest rates you pay and for many financial opportunities in your future.

Author Bio: Andrew is a freelance writer currently writing for the Modest Money personal finance blog.  Check out Modest Money for all kinds of great financial advice and product reviews including this Barclaycard Arrival World review, one of the hottest travel credit cards available today.

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Never Let Anyone Compromise Your Goals in Life http://www.mymoneydesign.com/lifestyle/philosophy-motivation/your-goals-in-life/ http://www.mymoneydesign.com/lifestyle/philosophy-motivation/your-goals-in-life/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:00:06 +0000 http://www.mymoneydesign.com/?p=6460 My wife and I have been having a lot of discussion lately about some of the changes we want to make that will help us reach our goals in life sooner rather than later. Don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with us or our marriage.  But for reasons I won’t get into publicly, let’s just [...]

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goals in lifeMy wife and I have been having a lot of discussion lately about some of the changes we want to make that will help us reach our goals in life sooner rather than later.

Don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with us or our marriage.  But for reasons I won’t get into publicly, let’s just say that the working-world has decided to pose some complicated challenges that would otherwise make it take longer to get there.

Since going down this path of reaching financial freedom, we’ve both been so completely infatuated with the goal of getting there.  We’re seduced by the thought of what our lives will be like when we do.

Unfortunately though sometimes even though you think you’ve got all the pieces to your life in place, things beyond your control will try to compromise your progress.

Thankfully we’re strong enough that we won’t let it.

 

Breaking the Basic Bargain:

When I first started out my career, it was with one ambition only: To take care and provide for my family.

Your compensation is the basic bargain (to borrow from the philosophy of Henry Ford).  An employer pays you because they need your services, and you provide to them good services because you want to keep receiving that paycheck.

As we get older, our goals and motivation will change.  Sometimes part of the bargain is to seek more power.  Sometimes we simply seek more money.  Regardless though of what the reasons are, our reasons are still ours and ours to decide for ourselves.

That is … until there is manipulation.  None of us lives in a vacuum.  We are all influenced by other people and powers.  Our work is no different.

Sometimes these other influences will tell you things that aren’t true.  And you’ll be too blind to know it.  You’ll wear a shroud of ignorance that obscures the goals in life you had previously set.  You’ll forget to keep your eye on what the long-term prize really should be.

Be wary for it is an unfortunate circumstance of some people to push others to results if for only their own selfish needs.  They don’t care about your outcome.  They see you as disposable.  They abuse the basic bargain.  And it’s even more regrettable that we let them treat us like this in that regard.

 

You Are in Control of Reaching Your Own Goals in Life:

What happens when your employer violates the basic bargain?  What happens when they abuse their position by creating an impasse where your talents and compensation are no longer proportional?

Are you just supposed to sit back and take it?

Fortunately my own personal mantra won’t allow me to be shut down so easily.  I value my time and money too much to let it be restricted by the opinion of anyone else.

I reject the arrangement that your paycheck should be your life line.  I just can’t accept the notion that my life goals and dignity should rest upon the decisions of others.

Proving to myself that I didn’t have to rely on an employer forever was part of my motivation for starting this blog.  I wanted to transcend this hypocrisy.  I wanted to rise to something greater.  I wanted to be more than just normal or a cog in the system.

This cog has some pretty big plans.  My wife and I plan to one day soon have enough income sources that we don’t ever have to work again for money.  That way we can spend our time any way we please.  With our kids, with our hobbies, with our passions, with each other.  I can pursue my life-long passion of helping others with their finances.  I can fulfill my dream of going into business for myself.

It’s been said before that if you aren’t making goals and plans for yourself, then someone else will.

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it has taught me that this myth of making money online is really not a myth at all.  It’s a reality!

The myth I’m talking about is this ability to make money appear literally out of nowhere.  Each and every day I check my affiliate income only to find myself in awe as to how it is that my account is somehow $25 to $50 more than the day before.

What other proof do you need than cash in the bank?  That’s real power.  When you’re the one pulling the puppet strings and accelerating your way to your goals faster than everyone else around you, then you know you’re doing something right.

That’s the one truth I focus on – Knowing that I won’t ever have to compromise on my goals in life.  No one can steal them from me or prevent me from getting there.

When you actually believe in yourself and understand what it is that you’re capable of, that’s all you’ll ever need.  No contempt or discern for your talents from others will be enough to limit your potential.  Vanished is the fear that employer uses to hold you in place.  You are your own conscious.  Make your own arrangements.  Be capable of much more than you they could ever imagine.

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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