Planning for 2022: The IRS Has Increased Several Key Deductions and Exemptions

The spike in inflation we’ve seen this year has impacts beyond having to pay more for goods and services. The IRS uses consumer price inflation (CPI) to determine certain increases to exemptions and deductions for federal tax purposes. These are automatic and calculated from the rise in CPI. That means that the increased inflation this year may actually end up saving you money. While the changes are for 2022 and you won’t be paying the associated taxes until 2023, it’s a good idea to be aware of the new limits.

You may be able to make changes as you go that can help you maximize the benefit. For example, the amounts for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and the commuter benefit increased, so you may want to have more taken out of your paycheck. This saves you money by paying with pre-tax dollars.

Continue reading

More Money More Problems? Complex Compensation Requires a Different Kind of Advisor

The benefit of becoming a high earner is apparent: more money. You can go beyond creating financial security for yourself and your family and start making choices that may have been out of reach. Not having to worry about covering the basics can also provide you with a measure of peace of mind. It can help you operate from a mindset of abundance, and not scarcity, which can free you to actualize your financial and personal goals.

But before you get to that state of satori, you need to get all the money you’ve earned into your financial plan in a reasonably efficient way, while minimizing the taxes you’ll pay across your lifetime, and creating a diversified financial plan.

And if that’s not complicated enough, being a high earner very often means your compensation is unpredictable, lumpy, or you’re no longer a W2 wage earner. Whether you have deferred compensation, restricted stock, stock options, an annual bonus, or you own your own business, high income levels can equate to situations in which you have very complex compensation.

Continue reading

The Federal Reserve vs. Inflation: Round One

Wednesday’s long-anticipated announcement by the Federal Reserve that the key Fed funds rate would increase by 25 basis points and the accompanying statement by Chairman Powell had the immediate impact of reassuring the markets. St. Patrick’s Day may not have brought pots of gold, but after thirteen no-good, very bad weeks for the S&P 500, we’ll take a push back into positive territory.

Will it last? Given the invasion of Ukraine, the impact of sanctions, the downstream effect on supply chains and food supply, and the geopolitical uncertainty unleashed by Russia’s aggression, the Fed’s job in fighting domestic inflation is much harder now.

We walk through the Fed’s move and Powell’s language, the impact of the rate increase, and what investors can do to prepare their portfolios and budgets.

Continue reading

Small Business Retirement Plans — SIMPLE, SEP-IRA and SOLO 401(k)

Small companies shouldn’t forgo retirement savings just because a 401(k) plan can be expensive to set up and maintain. There are options specifically for smaller businesses: a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) plan, a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, and a SOLO 401 (k).

If your company has more employees than just you and your spouse, you may want to consider either a SIMPLE IRA or a SEP-IRA. The plans have similarities and a few differences that must be considered when deciding between the two. Knowing the details of each type can help you decide which is the best choice for you, or which to offer your employees if you own a small business.

Continue reading

Buy-Sell Agreements: Ensuring Smooth Business Transitions

Building a business is all about the day-to-day decisions. But what happens to the business if the primary decision-maker isn’t there? Creating a continuity plan that outlines transition planning should be part of the foundational documents of a business at any stage. Valuing the business, codifying the steps that will be taken and planning for transfer of ownership can help protect both the business and the interests of everyone involved – including family.

When partners start a company, they may document how to maintain its management and control if a partner dies, becomes disabled, or leaves the company. A well-designed, buy-sell agreement, or buyout agreement, is a legally binding agreement between co-owners of a business that stipulates the procedures if a co-owner dies, chooses to leave the firm, or retires.

Continue reading

GMB Ep #120: A CFO’s Perspective on Managing Cash, M&A, ESOPs, & the Changing Business Environment

 

Have you ever heard the saying that revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is reality? Today’s guest, Robert E. Bendetti, is the CFO at Life Cycle Engineering. He holds a master’s degree in accounting and financial management and an MBA specializing in small business management and entrepreneurship, as well as being a certified public accountant. Throughout the episode, we cover several key concepts that help business owners grow their businesses and adapt to ever changing markets.

 

 

Show Notes

[03:21] Background – Robert shares his background and the company’s operations.

[05:20] Cash Flow Management – Robert emphasizes the importance of cash flow management and gives his perspective as a CFO on appropriate cash management for small enterprises.

[08:48] Cash Conversion Cycle – Robert discusses approaches to optimize the cash conversion cycle, emphasizing the importance of timely invoicing, collection challenges, and the smoothness of the payment process.

[11:50] Tips – Robert shares an approach for reducing turnaround time and illustrates a simple mechanism to increase collection rates.

[20:29] Profitability – Robert points out how to convert cash to profit, describing what balance sheet and income statement items need to be monitored.

[23:25] Paying Yourself vs. Reinvesting – Robert outlines how to decide whether to invest additional funds to boost profitability and future growth or pay yourself.

[31:41] Transition – Robert addresses what individuals approaching retirement or transition should consider 18 months before leaving a firm.

[40:25] Employee Stock Ownership Plan – Robert dives deep into ESOP and related topics.

[51:31] Global CFO Council – As President and Founder of Global CFO Council, Robert mentions what he hopes to accomplish through the organization.

 

Resources

GMB EP #119: Lessons on Fraud Prevention From the Former Iowa Lottery CEO

 

Ever wonder what it takes to scam the state lottery? Terry Rich joins us on the podcast this week to discuss fraud and how to prevent it in small businesses & other organizations. Terry is the former CEO of the Iowa lottery, and helped uncover a multi-million-dollar fraud before it was paid out. 

 

 

Show Notes

[02:35] Terry’s Story – Terry begins the conversation by sharing his backstory.

[09:46] Underlying Reason –Terry dives deep into three key reasons why people commit fraud.

[13:19] Remedies – Terry shares his thoughts on how to identify fraudulent activities and deal with scammers, and ultimately avoid becoming victims.

[17:02] Iowa Lottery Fraud – Terry tells the fascinating story of resolving the largest lottery fraud in the United States.

[38:48] Adjustments – Terry discusses the improvements made after the fraud was discovered and addressed.

[48:25] Entrepreneurial Spirit and Creativity – Terry explains how he preserves entrepreneurial spirit and creativity.

 

Resources

Connect with Terry:

Website: terryspeaks.com/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/terich/

 

Mentioned in the Episode:

Ep #117 – A Top Economist’s Take on Personal Finance With Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff:

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM:

Iowa Lottery Fraud:

February Market Commentary: Action and Reaction

February Recap and March Outlook

February opened with a strong January employment number as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase of 467,000 jobs. Instead of reassuring markets after a rough ride in January, it only served to fuel speculation that a strong labor market would lead the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive with rate increases than previously indicated, in its attempts to control inflation. The release of the January average annual inflation number of 7.5% in mid-February proved to be a shock to system.

Overnight, futures markets began pricing in a 50-basis point increase in March, and the two-year U.S. Treasury yield gained 24 basis points. This flattened the yield curve as the ten-year U.S Treasury struggled to get to 2%. The next step after flattening is to invert – which is usually interpreted as a sign of an impending recession. Investors’ worry was that more aggressive Fed rate increases would overshoot and stifle growth.

This was the backdrop as Russia’s saber-rattling in Ukraine, and the West’s telegraphed response of the threat of sanctions, unsettled markets further. And then Russia invaded.

Ukraine Defies Putin, and Defines Heroism

Stiff Resistance Provided a Window for Coordinated Western Action

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s reaction to the U.S. offer of help in evacuating his country was the now-famous “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Ukrainian soldiers rejected surrender with “Russian Warship: Go F*** Yourself.” And ordinary Ukrainians stood in front of tanks, or just simply kept going to work, despite the bombs and alarms.

The U.S. and the E.U. responded with incredibly harsh sanctions. The sanctions playbook has been fine-tuned since last fall, and officials in many countries have had time to build the trust needed to impose sanctions that can counteract Putin’s long-honed measures to insulate the Russian economy from the impacts of Russian aggression.

  • Western leaders have frozen the assets of Russia’s central bank, limiting its ability to access $630bn of its dollar reserves.
  • The US, the EU and UK have also banned people and businesses from dealings with the Russian central bank, its finance ministry and its wealth fund.
  • Selected Russian banks will also be removed from the Swift messaging system, which enables the smooth transfer of money across borders. The ban will delay the payments Russia gets for exports of oil and gas.
  • Sanctions are targeting Putin personally, and his oligarchs.

Continue reading

A Note on the Invasion of Ukraine

The news about the invasion of Ukraine is distressing on a humanitarian level and unsettling when thinking about the impact of increased volatility on investment portfolios.

Added to already high inflation and the market’s uncertainty around the Federal Reserve’s future interest rate increases, markets are now reeling from the added pressure of what will likely be more aggressive sanctions.

Let’s break it down and look at some of the threads we’re tracking.

 Continue reading

GMB Ep #117: A Top Economist’s Take on Personal Finance With Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff

 

Economics applies to every industry at the individual, national, and global level. In this week’s episode, we have a distinguished guest who is on a mission to make economics useful at all levels. Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff is an economics professor at Boston University. He is also the author of Money Magic, a personal finance book written from an economist’s standpoint. Today’s podcast examines his book and financial outlook, which frequently counters conventional economic theories. Throughout the podcast, he shares his experience in handling personal financial decisions while also discussing some insightful observations about the state of our country.

 

 

Show Notes

[03:38] Introduction – Laurence introduces himself and discusses his current career emphasis.

[06:22] Personal Financial Decision Making – We must see individual financial decisions through the prism of consumption smoothing. Laurence explains what this is and why it is essential.

[12:42] IRA and Mortgage – Laurence outlines why under certain circumstances, it makes sense to withdraw funds from the IRA to pay off the mortgage.

[18:43] Investments – Laurence discusses investments, stocks, and the importance of making sound investment decisions. Furthermore, he evaluates the risk associated with each sort of investment.

[32:06] Social Security – Laurence discusses how individuals can navigate the complex social security web.

[34:10] Viability – Laurence discusses the Social Security system’s viability and what individuals may do to prop it up.

[42:54] Massive Deficits – Whether it is the aggregate federal deficit, unfunded liabilities, or Social Security, taxing one’s way out of some deficits is politically unappealing. Laurence discusses his approach to enormous deficits.

[48:28] Politics and Economics – Laurence discusses the causes of present crises, relating them to a lack of synergy between politics and economics.

[51:33] Campaign Trail – Laurence reflects on his 2016 presidential campaign experience, and shares what he would do differently in 2024 if he was running with an unlimited campaign budget.

 

Resources

Connect with Laurence:

Website: kotlikoff.net/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/laurencekotlikoff/

 

Mentioned in the episode:

Maxifi: maxifiplanner.com/

Economic Security Planning: economicsecurityplanning.com/

Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life: goodreads.com/book/show/56620849-money-magic