Twas the night before MENOPAUSE………hysterical

Tis the season to be merry.

So take a look at this fabulously funny spoof on a Christmas poetry tradition.

Twas the night before menopause….

 

Enjoy!

Gas prices DROPPED!

Hooray!  Don’t you love that feeling?  You know that sweet feeling that you have a little more money in your wallet.

What are you gonna do with it? They say that, on average, each of us will have an extra $500.

I bet you have a list in your head for using that money.

Let me guess what is on your list. Hmmm………… More Xmas gifts for the family, a repair of your home, car or a down payment on a new car or washing machine……Have I  hit one right yet?

Television, magazines and online ads bombard you with the same message. SPEND IT !!!!!

What if…….? What if you tried something radically new (“disruptive”)? What if you did NOT SPEND it. What if you  SAVED THAT MONEY? Or more correctly …..

What if you put that money……………….. to work for you in your IRA or savings account, a little every week?  You know, $25 per week or $50 per month.

What if you used it ………………..to pay off (or pay down) your credit card debt, $25 every week and/or $50 per month? Or front load it, that is hit it hard, by paying down $100 per month to reduce the balance on the credit card that requires you to pay the highest interest charges? (You know, debt reduction is a form or saving that has the added benefit of reducing your stress.)

Once you start that saving and/or debt reduction, why not do that for the next, oh…..2-3 years? Save $25 per week and/or $50 per month and deposit it into your IRA and/or pay off all your credit card debt? Make it $20  per week or $100  per month. Whatever you can afford.

Treat yourself!!!! Put that money into an account with your name on it. You will feel less stress  and more secure. That will make your life better, easier, softer, kinder after you leave work behind. Less anxiety, more control.

That is what I am advocating. Give yourself  more control!!!

I want you to take the money that used to flow out of your wallet into a gas tank, and move it into accounts with your name on them. You take it!!!!! You use that money to increase your savings and/or drop your debt burden.

Take full advantage of the decrease in gasoline prices.  Put yourself on your list. Take Control ! Give that money to  yourself!!! Why? It will  build your wealth and security.

Wouldn’t that feel good?

 

Yup, it’s that time of year again

After the holiday eating and shopping orgies, many of us start to think about our behaviors. We resolve to make changes in the coming New Year. We promise ourselves we will do things lik

  1. eat more healthy food
  2. exercise more  and
  3.  get our financial act together.

 Oh those resolutions!!!

I admire women and men who make these resolutions. They  know there are problems They even know what the problems are. And they know how to fix them. They start to eat better, exercise more and maybe even pull out a piece of paper, or go online to start to develop a budget.

But most do not stick to this discipline.

Well, they are human, after all. They, like me, yield to the temptations of dessert, if not the other pressures of daily life. They are imperfect like me and maybe you.

What’s a human to do?

Hire someone. Get a professional to guide you and keep you ON TRACK. That professional nutritionist, trainer or financial advisor has the knowledge and experience to start you off right. S/he will explain the basics and then help you implement them–by telling to you focus on your core and/or your bottom line.

You are more likely to take her/his advice and become more disciplined. S/he will give you easy steps to take. And since you feel accountable to someone besides your (sweetly imperfectly human) self, you are more likely to stay ON TRACK and achieve some of the goals you have set for yourself during the next year.

Try it. You will be glad you did

 

But, if you need a little nudge, here’s  a stimulus. It is a free quiz developed by a University. (Yes it is from New Jersey, imperfect at it is. Those of us from N.J.–like Jon Stewart and me– really do have something to offer.)

So click on this link to take the absolutely FREE quiz. Then re-read this post and see if it is time to call a professional and really make a change for the better. 

What are you waiting for?

Procrastination. It is soooo human. It is sooo seductive. If we  just put something off, we feel like we don’t have to stress about it. But, if we delay, dawdle, postpone, ignore, we actually deceive ourselves.

Why? Procrastination is magic. It is based on illusion. 

Illusion?

Yes. Because  you think that it costs you nothing to drag your feet.

But procrastination is amazingly costly!!!!!!

The longer you wait, the more you lose. The longer you dawdle, the more you squander your self respect.

This is especially true if you put off focusing on your money and its role in your future. The longer you wait to take steps to improve your finances, the more money you lose.

Good news. If you stop procrastinating, you could have your money working for you. Your Hot Flash Stash of Cash could be building up for you.

Bad news. If you continue procrastinating, for instance ignoring your credit card debt, you will squander amazing amounts of your money on interest payments and fees.

Sooooooo………….Stop procrastinating. Start to take control.

If you, yourself,  can’t get past the seduction of delay, (and can’t DIY within a month of reading this), consult a professional.

Conferring with a professional should not be a strange idea. After all, you turn to a professional to cut and style your hair, or paint your toenails. You go to  a professional to take care of your teeth…….So, if you don’t floss daily, that dental professional can help you, no matter how challenging the problem.

Your money challenges, right there on your procrastination list, can be deftly handled by a trained, experienced professional.  S/he can clarify what you need to do, give you a set of steps to take, and support you while you get you get your finances under control. And s/he can help you with that huge challenge– having enough money to pay for everything you need for the rest of your very long life. If you want the dignity and self respect that financial security brings, it is time to consult a professional.

So what are you waiting for?

 

Mistakes?

Sally Krawcheck wrote a great piece recently. I have to bring her wisdom to you.

She begins with a few  “misjudgments” we women might make. Now I am sure each of you is….perfect. But just in case you are a bit more human, and so may occasionally err (like I do), I thought I would list a few here.

This list starts with a few the mistakes that wives/partners often make. One or two might seem a  little “retro.” Read them anyway, making sure you have not done these things, because you trust a partner too much, or  think you do not have enough time, or will never face a crisis like divorce or the death of a partner.

1. Letting your husband or partner manage the money, without getting involved.

2.  Signing a joint tax return without reading it.  

As a woman in the 21st century, you need to know how much money you hold as an individual, how much he/she holds and how much you both hold jointly in accounts. You need to know where the money is stashed, how it is managed, and if it is managed or mismanaged. You also need to be able to discern whether your partner is hiding money or misdeeds from your  (like maintaining “another woman” or engaging in some nefarious and illegal activity) and doing so with your money and risking your good name.

You also need to know how much money your partner/husband earns. That dollar amount is written right there on the front page of the the tax return, and the W-2 slips that you need to provide to the IRS. If your partner earns a substantial amount, you need to concern yourself with the ways in which this money is spent or retained to increase your joint financial security. Does your partner/spouse share income with you? Do you each hold accounts in your names, and/or joint accounts? Or does he (or she) hold it all in his/her name?  Are there provisions made for loss, such as a death? Are there steps taken to make sure you will not be left penniless? And if you  have children, what has been done to provide for them, as heirs or orphans.

This becomes important whether you are dependent upon your partner for an income, or if you both earn a living. You need to make good decisions about the income you both earn. Why? In the 21st century, one of you is likely to lose a job, at some point–due to corporate restructuring, downsizing, mergers & acquisitions, etc. So you need to deploy your income while you each work to make sure you have an emergency fund (to tide you through job losses). And you  have to make certain you are saving enough cash from each paycheck and investing it in case of a long term loss of income, a disability or loss of your partner.

Let me offer you a third one on her insightful list. 

3. Making decisions about staying at home, versus retaining employment after you have children (or care for an ill parent, in-law etc.) without calculating the long term impact on your career and your family’s income, is a lapse.

Why consider this? Once you leave the workforce you are less likely to return to a position of equal status and income.  History has shown that women’s income is often only 77% of that of a man. Some argue that this lower pay is a function of our movement out of and back into the workforce. So, why not think this decision through, with the aid of a spreadsheet? Run some scenarios about the dates of your  return to the workforce. Make sure you calculate best case and worst case scenarios and then run a scenario for something in between these two.

These are just 3 of the “The Top 10 Financial Mistakes Women Make” according to Ms. Krawchek. I promise to offer you a few more in subsequent posts.

Fraud? Did she say Fraud?

I love the fact that FINRA has created a set of tools to help you, and me, find fraud and fight it.

FINRA’s Fraud Center

FINRA provides a set of tools and explanations as  part of its campaign to  protect investors.

The idea is simple. If you know more, you will be able to fight off fraudsters. So take a look at this site.

And if you are brave, check out the thing they call the  “fraud meter.” It measures how susceptible you are to fraud. Go ahead and take the test.
Scam Meter Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt (anything but your pride)

Now, if this teaches you something, share it with your friends. Host a party and show a video that helps you and your friends protect yourselves from con artists. This show aired on PBS, so it is a good one. And you can get it for free. So start popping the popcorn and dust off your couch. And get your friends in to watch the show. Then discuss the issues among yourselves.

You will be glad you did.

Oh, and tell them Hot Flash Financial sent you.

Hot off the presses!

Here it is! Your very own paperback version of  Hot Flash Financial!

It is a grown up version of the website. No actually it is a development of the Hot Flash Financial approach. Yes it retains the hot flash method– laugh while you learn. And it offers clear explanations of complex issues, plus a set of STEPs to follow, STEPs you can rely on, if you want to increase your financial security.

So why buy a copy?HFF cover

The more you  know, the more control you will feel. Your stress about money will start to melt away, because you will know what you are doing with your money, and how. That is the best way that you can improve your future.

And, by the way, it is cheap. Your $15 investment will pay back a thousand fold!

So, hit the link to  buy your paperback copy  “and get one today!!!!” (as they shamelessly say on TV)

You will be glad you did.

 

Getting a job after you get hot flashes

Today’s job market is tough. Unemployment rates are coming down, but hiring is still slow.

We realize that our economy is recovering from a banking system meltdown.  When banks get an economy in trouble, it takes the economy a very long time to return to normal. Companies resist hiring until they think they will sell more of their products.

With that said, the job market for us older, more experienced candidates may be recovering more slowly than for other demographics.

Why?

Well there are lots of reasons. One of them is summed up in this video.
Spoof video of job interview with more mature job candidate

 

Let me know what you think of the point made here. Send your comments to this email address: HotFlashFinances@gmail.com.

I would love to hear from you.

 

Would you like some more money?

You might be able to get some more money—as a tax refund. And, get a trained tax preparer to help you  prepare your 2012 return, for free!

How? 

You have to file a tax return and ask for special tax breaks, called  tax credits offered by the IRS. These include the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. There is an additional one called the  Credit for the Elderly or Disabled.

 

Who can help you prepare this complicated tax form?

  1. The  VITA program of the IRS (IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) offers tax help to people who make $50,000 or less. If you qualify, you can probably get more money back through your tax refund. The IRS trains volunteers to review your paperwork, and help you figure out if you qualify for any of these credits. Then they help you prepare a return, and file (or send it in) electronically. So you get your refund faster!!!
  2. VITA has a  sister program, called  TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) for people who are 60 years old, plus. TCE offers great answers to questions about pensions, and retirement. The IRS certified volunteers are often retired themselves.

 

This is probably your next question.

When can I get this help so I can get this money?

As soon as you have all of your paperwork together, and make an appointment, or show up. Do it early, so you can file early and get your refund money back really quickly. Maybe in as little as 10 days!!!!

Of course you will have to bring paperwork so that the volunteer tax preparers can do a good job.  There is a list of the paperwork at the end of the blog. It’s the usual stuff-proof of id, social security numbers, official forms that tell how much you made last year (W-2, or maybe W 2G or different types of 1099s). But look at the list below.

 

Where can I get this done for me?

Find a site near you so you can get personal help from a trained volunteer. You can meet these tax preparers in your community. They set up neighborhood libraries, schools, and other locations. For

  1. VITA click the link here Find a Location for Free Tax Prep or call 1(800) 906-9887.
  2. TCE  (AARP Tax Aid) click the link here  TCE or call 1(888)227-7669.

Hurry!  Unless of course, you don’t need the money.

———————–

 Here’s the list of paperwork you will need to bring to the VITA or TCE sites, so the tax preparer can file everything carefully and follow all legal procedures.

  • Proof of identification – Picture ID
  • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
    • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
    • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
  • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check—so you can get your refund sent right to your checking account
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

Open those envelopes

It’s that time again. When important envelopes come flying into your mailbox. These envelopes usually have BOLD text on the front that say something like

 IMPORTANT TAX DOCUMENT ENCLOSED.

What do you usually do with those envelopes? Just pile them up?

Aren’t you just the least bit curious about that important  information?

Why not do something different this year?  After all, you are older and wiser now.

Sooooooo

OPEN THE ENVELOPES!

READ THE FORMS!

Then file them in a  careful TAX file, so you can start getting more organized about your money.

In addition, your clever organization will help you get ready for taxes, early. And maybe file early so you get your refund early!


Those are some good reasons to open them and read them. So let’s tell you what to expect and why you should read them.

In January, here are 2 kinds of documents that come in the mail. The first set of envelopes hold statements that tell you how much money you (and/or your partner) made last year. The second set, usually 1099 forms, tell you how much you earned in dividends or interest, and provide other information.

Focus on the first set of envelopes. There are thick ones, and very thin ones.

  • The thin envelopes hold forms called W-2 (forms).  A W-2 tells you  how much money you (or your partner) earned last year.
    • When you see a W-2, look for Box 1. It lists WAGES, TIPS AND OTHER COMPENSATION. What is the dollar amount? That’s your “gross” or total income. The amount that you get paid before all the benefits and taxes are taken out. That is a good number to know. And, it is an important tax document. You will need it to fill out your income tax documents and send it to the IRS. So put it into your new Tax File.
  • The thick envelopes tell you how much money you hold in your retirement accounts, and other accounts at banks and investment houses. These are year-end statements. So grab them, and read them so you know how much money you held in each account on December 31 of last year. Then go one better. Add this information to a list, your List of Assets. (See the Tools menu for the template you can use.) Make this a New Year’s Ritual. Every year, write down how much money you hold in each and every account. Then add up the total. This total  is another important number to know.

Now let’s look at the second set of envelopes. They generally come from Banks or other financial institutions . They tend to hold forms called 1099s.

  • 1099 form tells you how much interest (1099-INT) or dividends (1099-DIV) you earned in each and every account that you hold. There are also 1099-R forms and 5498 forms that list IRA accounts, and contributions made to retirement accounts.

While these forms may seem boring, they actually can help you understand a lot about your money. Let’s say you don’t remember how many accounts you or your partner holds. Well, these forms remind you. Each one lists the name of a bank or financial institution that holds your account your partner’s. And it tells you

    •  the type of account (like savings, or investment or retirement)  held at that Bank
    • the account number
    • and the name of the person, or persons who own the account and control the money in it.

So if you forgot to include 1 or 2 accounts in your List of Assets, these 1099 forms can remind you of their existence. After all, Hot Flash Financial wants you to keep track of every account that holds your hard earned money. So pile all of these 1099 forms into your Tax file, and use these forms to cross-check your holdings.

If you find more accounts, add them to your List of Assets. Then track down the total dollar amounts held in each and write it on your List of Assets.  When you add up your total balance, you will really be happy to see value of your assets grow!

So watch for these envelopes. Open them up and read them. Use them to update your List of Assets.That way you will  know how much money you have. And, you can get organized for tax time.

You will be glad you did.

———————–

If you get all your tax documents organized you can file your income taxes early. THAT MEANS YOU CAN GET YOUR REFUND EARLY!!!!