How To Protect Yourself From The Recent Facebook Breach

Facebook announced a data breach on Friday, Sept. 28, in which the personal information of 50 million user accounts was put at risk due to a vulnerability in the social network’s code.

Image result for facebook breachThe attack potentially exposed personal information and gave hackers the ability to take control of users’ profiles. Since discovering the breach, Facebook has fixed the vulnerability and has informed law enforcement to investigate.

Was My Facebook Account Affected?

About 50 million Facebook users were affected by the code vulnerability, which gives hackers the ability to steal “access tokens” that allow users to stay logged into their accounts.

(When you sign in to a site or app with your username and password, your browser or device typically receives a digital key known as an access token that lets you stay logged in without having to re-enter your credentials every time. That token does not actually store your password.)

Fraudsters could use these access tokens to not only take over users’ Facebook profiles but also have the ability to access third-party accounts like Airbnb, Spotify or Uber that use Facebook credentials to log in.

Though 50 million accounts were targeted, Facebook reset the access tokens on a total of 90 million accounts as a precautionary measure. If your account was affected, you would have been logged out of Facebook and would need to log back in with your password the next time you visit the site.

What Personal Data Could Have Been Compromised in the Facebook Attack?

According to Facebook, attackers tried to target certain information, including users’ names, genders, and hometowns listed in their profiles. But it’s not yet clear if that or any other user information was actually compromised before Facebook fixed the vulnerability.

Though the access tokens targeted in the attack could potentially be used to log into third-party sites, Facebook announced on Oct. 2 that its investigators don’t believe such third-party sites were affected.

How Do I Protect Myself as a Facebook User?

If you were one of the 90 million users whose access tokens were reset by Facebook, you would have been logged out of your account and will need to log back in. You should have received a notification about this on the top of your Facebook news feed. But even if you were not affected, this is a good time to take the following steps to ensure your identity and personal information is protected:

1. Conduct a Device Audit

To find out if anyone has improperly accessed your Facebook account, click on “Settings” on Facebook. Next, go to the “Security and Login” tab. There, you will see a list of all the devices, locations and the most recent dates that you have logged into Facebook.

If you see any that you do not recognize, you can remove that device from being logged in. Facebook will also take you through a step-by-step process to secure your account if this is the case. You can also log out of all sessions.

2. Reset Your Facebook Password

According to Facebook, there is no need to reset your Facebook login password. However, there is no harm in doing so—and it might be a good idea if you have a weak password or have noticed any suspicious activity.

Consider resetting your Facebook password to one that is unique and not used on any of your other sites or apps. To do so, go to “Settings,” then “Security and Login,” and click “Edit” on the “Change password” section. Remember, to use a password with an Uppercase letter, Lowercase letter, Number, and Special Character with at least nine letters.

3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

For the most security, it’s smart to turn on two-factor authentication.  I have been using the Google Authenticator. This security feature requires a unique code sent by a text message, call, or email, in order to log into your account after entering your password.

That way, even if someone obtains your password, they can’t log into your account without the code. To enable two-factor authentication in Facebook, go to “Settings,” then “Security and Login,” where you will see the option to turn it on.

4. Check Which Sites and Apps Use Facebook for Login

If an attacker has access to your Facebook access token, they have the ability to get into your Facebook account—and also any other site or app you have used Facebook to log in with, such as streaming services, apps or games, and more. Even though Facebook has since announced that third-party sites using Facebook logins were not hacked, it’s still smart to decouple your logins for the most security.

To find out which apps and sites use your Facebook login, go to “Settings” and then “Apps and Websites.” There you will see a list of all active, expired and removed websites and apps that use your Facebook login. You can remove any or all of these apps. You may want to update the passwords on these services, as well.

How Can I Safeguard My Identity Going Forward?

Data breaches have become an unfortunate part of life in our digital world. In 2017 alone, there were 1,579 data breaches exposing nearly 179 million records. That’s why it’s important to remain vigilant to protect your identity online and off.

1. Be Aware of Online Scams

Start by being aware of phishing scams in which fraudsters use the information they know about you—like your name or hometown (information that may have been accessed in the Facebook breach)—to get you to divulge other personal data through email. Scammers do this by embedding hyperlinks into emails or text messages that direct you to sites intended to collect your personal information or install malware onto your computer or phone.

As a rule of thumb, do not click on links sent through email or text, especially if they are asking you to give up personal information. There are several variations of phishing scams—including spear phishingangler phishing, and smishing—but the bottom line is you should always be vigilant when being asked to enter any personal information online or via text.

2. Consider a Free Fraud Alert

If you’re worried that you are a victim of identity theft, consider filing a free initial fraud alert on your credit file that remains active for one year through the Experian fraud center. (File it with one credit bureau and you’re good to go because the bureaus will share such alerts with their counterparts.) The fraud alert notifies lenders pulling your credit report to take extra steps to verify your identity.

3. Monitor Your Credit and Identity

If you’re concerned about your personally identifiable information being out there, you should check a free credit report for errors or suspicious accounts. Run a free dark web scan as well to find out if information like your Social Security number, phone number or email addresses are on the dark web. 

4. Protect Your Children

Roughly 7% of all Facebook users are under the age of 18. While you are protecting your own identity, make sure your kids are safe, too—because scammers are now committing child identity theft.

Run a free Child ID Scan to find out if your child’s Social Security number is out there or if there is an Experian credit file in her name, which could be a sign of fraud.

If you want to learn more about Cyberwellness, go to www.safr.me to take a course on Cyberwellness.

Source: Article Written by Asmat Ingla
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

 

How To Complain Effectively Using Social Media

We hear a lot of complaining today about social media.  It’s in our faces daily with political events, people posting too many pictures of their vacations, and stories that we probably better off not knowing before we saw the sixty second video.  As customer service continues to decline across service industries, there may be an angle on how to actually use social media to effectively complain and get what you want.

There are those in life who seem to be able to negotiate better than others when making their complaints.  Perhaps they have the right timing.   Possibly it can be related to their instincts.  Or, could it be that they know how to create a well-oiled plan to get their desired outcome?  

Recently, I had an interaction with Chipotle that can demonstrate how simple it is to get what you want and do it in an effective manner.

Image result for complainOn September 9th, my family asked me to pick up dinner and we agreed on Chipotle as our choice of fast food takeout that evening.  Normally, Chipotle’s service is pretty good.  They whisk you along the line, take your order, and quickly get you on your way.  Very rarely have I had a bad interaction with Chipotle.

Along with the quesadilla I ordered that evening for our son, my wife and I wanted to get two burrito bowls with brown rice.   When I asked the Chipotle server for brown rice, she began to scrape the remains of sticky rice off the bottom of the shiny metal container.   Then, I told her that the old bottom of the barrel brown rice would be no good for dinner tonight and I would appreciate if she would fill up the container with some fresh brown rice.

Usually, there are fresh containers or rice, chicken, black beans, and vegetables ready to go on the prep stand at Chipotle.  That evening in particular, there was no brown rice ready to go and she asked me if I could just substitute for white rice.  I replied, “If I had wanted white rice, I would have asked for white rice when you started making the bowl.”   Then, I kindly requested if they could get me a container of fresh brown rice.  She turned to ask the cook how long it would take for a new batch of brown rice and he said it would take fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes for rice!!!!

I removed myself from the line and kindly asked the young server if she could make me the bowl when the new rice was ready.   It’s ironic how many people will eat white rice just because they are so damn hungry when no brown rice is available.  After close to twenty minutes, the server finally retrieved a new batch of brown rice from the prep stand and shockingly began to continue to serve the existing line paying NO ATTENTION to me at all. 

Mind you, when people get in line at Chipotle, they become enraged with hunger like a pack of ravenous lions.  So, when I stepped in line to say ‘excuse me’ I have been waiting for twenty minutes you can imagine the glare that people gave me in line.  The server stared at me like I was some distant cousin she had never seen before and said, “Sir, would you please get in line!” 

That was it!  I had it at that point and tracked down the manager of Chipotle and explained the situation now some 30 minutes later.  All, for a simple bowl of rice, beans, chicken, avocado, cheese, and some fixings.  The manager went over to make the bowl himself and then amazingly enough didn’t even put me to the front of the line to pay the tab.  And, he didn’t offer me my meal for FREE.  Instead, I waited another five minutes to pay a $30 tab and now after almost forty minutes I headed on my way home steaming from one of the worst experiences I ever had at Chipotle.

So, what was I to do from here?

Yell, Chipotle sucks outside the store?

Go on a tirade with the store manager?

Lick my wounds and swear that I’d never go to Chipotle again?

No, instead I decided to use the power of social media to complain effectively and see if I could get even instead of getting made.   Twitter, was my form of striking back.

My first thought was to see where to complain and I found the handle @chipotletweets where I immediately took a shot across the bow to see if Chipotle was real for solving problems.

It’s amazing to see how companies respond today on social media.  Some of them could care less and make it a routine military exercise but consider that none of them want bad press and they don’t know your personal social influence.  Within a short period of time, here is how Chipotle responded.

What Chipotle asked me to do was to take more of my time and complete some form which I thought would run me down a rabbit hole to nowhere land.  I’ve been down this hole before, so I threw a few barbs at Jenn about ‘making things right’ rather than have me fill out some random e-mail form to hell.   After a few days of trading tweets back and forth, a new person responded from Chipotle named Gabe who also asked me to fill out the company form.

After this tweet a few days later, I asked myself whether this was another corporate run around or would filling out the form get me the justice I was due from Chipotle?  Or, would I end up complaining ineffectively only to have wasted more time on this situation. So, I filled out the form and left a parting shot for Jenn telling her how little faith I had that Chipotle was going to right the wrong.

I waited a few days and amazingly this e-mail showed up in my inbox on September 14, 2018:

THEODORE,

I’m so sorry you didn’t get the best experience with us. We want to get you a delicious meal, fast, and I’ll be sure to pass this along to our Roswell team so we can see where to improve for next time. Our team should be coming quickly, efficiently and attentively through the line to help our guests. We should have plenty of brown rice freshly stocked and cooked to perfection, ready to go on the line. I know we can do better.

In the meantime, I’d love to invite you back for the meal I know you were hoping for. If you send me a good postal address, I’ll get 4 free-burrito cards (good for any main menu item) headed your way.

Sincerely,
Emily

Customer Service Coordinator
Chipotle Mexican Grill

 

All I had to do was to give Chipotle my home address and they would send the burrito/bowl cards to my home address.

 

Thanks, THEODORE.

Thanks for sending over those details. I’ll get your card in the mail first thing tomorrow, and it should arrive within 14 days. If anything else comes up, feel free to reach out to me here.

Your bud in the burrito biz,
Emily

After this last e-mail, I had to laugh out loud about the line of now having a bud in the burrito biz…Emily.  Not only did they give me a free card for the two bowls that weren’t delivered on time, they gave me two more to make up for my troubles.  In the end, the complaining process actually worked, and Chipotle delivered.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

 

If you want to set up a time to review your property and casualty insurance policies, please go to oXYGen Financial to set up an appointment.

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

What Insurance Moves Do I Make After Hurricane Florence?

With another major hurricane hitting the east cost, torrential downpour and flooding, and more than 1,000,000 without power, the questions will be coming soon on what to do insurance wise regarding hurricane Florence.  When any of our homes have floods, it can be difficult to know where to begin no matter what the size of your home.  However, make the wrong financial moves could penalize you severely and limit your ability to get back money that can help you get back on your feet.  Here are four insurance moves to make right now from hurricane Florence.

  • Read Your Homeowner’s Policy This sounds like such a simple thing, but I’m never surprised about what people learn when they finally read the insurance policy that they have bought and owned for years. You would think that hurricane Harvey and Irma that devastates several parts of the United States would have made people wiser, but it isn’t really until these types of natural disasters strike you personally that you begin to learn what you purchased.  You will want to look closely on what coverage you have for jewelry and collectibles and whether you purchased specific riders to cover those items.  If you didn’t many policies will only cover up to a total of $5,000.  As quickly as you can get pictures, that will help your cause with the insurance company.

You should also see whether you bought replacement value on your policy or you bought actual cash value.  This means you can either get a full replacement for the original coast of your furnishings and goods, or you are going to get a depreciated amount which could make it very difficult to replace what you have bought. 

  • Find An Independent Insurance Adjuster Remember, when you decide to file a claim with the insurance company that their adjusters work for them…not you. This means that they are there to save the insurance company as much as they can, not worry about getting you back all of your money.  You should look at a company such as strategicclaimconsultants.com or www.worldclaim.net as two options on where to find a middle person adjuster.  Typically, these companies will earn 10% of whatever the insurance companies settle for on your policy, but they are experts at reading the policies and negotiating more money for your family.

 

  • What Is Federally Available? It’s important to file a claim with your insurance company, or you may limit your eligibility for federal assistance. For folks that live in North Carolina which has been declared a disaster area, they should look at disasterassistance.gov to see what resources are available.  Typically, some temporary items such as housing and medical expenses can be reimbursed which insurance may not cover.  You should look closely at your insurance policy to see what medical expenses may be covered.  In addition, you may want to look at www.sba.gov where you may qualify for a federally subsidized disaster loan up to $200,000 for home repairs or replacements at a low interest rate.

 

  • Flood Insurance- The cold hard facts are that many places you simply cannot get flood insurance, but there is a reason you generally need to put flood insurance into effect 30 days in advance. Insurance companies didn’t just open their doors yesterday, so take a look at http://www.msc.fema.gov/portal/home which can tell you if you are in a flood area or not.  Those not affect by hurricane Florence (and in other parts of the country) may want to consider picking up flood insurance (which only covers up $250,000 of structure and $100,000 of personal furnishings) and those affected will want to see what the financial stability is of their insurers to pay the claims.  You may also check to see if they will offer flood insurance in your area after this storm.

 

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net
If you want to set up a time to review your property and casualty insurance policies, please go to oXYGen Financial to set up an appointment.

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Five Reasons You Never Want To Borrow On Your 401(k)

Many millennials are stretching financially to buy homes, and the numbers are getting scary.  People in the younger generation are modeling behavior that is far riskier and more dangerous than they even realize for their future.  According to a new survey by the Bank of the West, approximately 1 in 3 millennials say they raided either their 401(k) or even worse liquidated part of their IRA to put a down payment on a home.  Even more millennials are tapping these retirement accounts to pay down their growing student and personal debt.  There is a reason these are called “retirement accounts”, and specifically there are five enormous reasons you never want to borrow on your 401(k).   

1) The Magic Of Compounding In a recent story I did on CNN Headline News, I discussed the power of compounding. A 25-year-old who puts away $300 a month and hypothetically earns 8%, will have roughly 1 million dollars at the age of 65.  A 35-year-old who puts away $300 a month and hypothetically earns 8, will have roughly $400,000 at the age of 65.  A 45-year-old who puts away $300 a month and hypothetically earns 8%, will have roughly $200,000 at the age of 65. 

If you have $100,000 in your 401(k) and borrow $50,000, there will be a period of up to five years where the majority of that $50,000 isn’t in the magic box compounding for your retirement.  This potential lack of growth could be the difference between becoming a millionaire and having to wait several more years to retire.

2) You Are Being Double Taxed When you borrow from your 401(k), not only are you paying interest on your payback, but even worse you are using after-tax dollars to pay back your loan. This means you put the original dollars away pre-tax (assuming you didn’t do the Roth 401(k)), and then you are using after-tax dollars to pay back your loan only for it to be taxed again when you take the money out down the road.

3) You Sell Low And Buy High When it comes to investing, the basic principle is to buy low and sell high. However, when you sell your shares in your 401(k) plan and buy back the shares 3 or 4 or 5 years down the road, the likelihood is that you will buy the same exact shares back at a higher price.  So, essentially you are undermining the basic concept of buying low and selling high and instead you are selling at a price today which you will likely buy back higher down the road.

4) You Have Risk If You Get Fired If you decide to leave your employer or your employer decides to leave you, most plans will give you 90 days to pay back the loan in the 401(k) plan. If you have chosen the pre-tax savings plan in the 401(k), that loan if not paid back will end up being treated as taxable income.  Not only does this mean it gets added to your taxable income for that particular tax year, but also can put you in jeopardy to pay a 10% IRS penalty if you are under the age of 59 ½.  This means you could pay 30% to 50% tax depending on your family tax bracket.

5) It Sets Up A Bad Foundation For Your Financial Plan Once you begin using your 401(k) as a savings account, it begins to destroy the integrity of your financial plan. You may no longer think you need a cash reserve because you will use your 401(k) as your cash reserve.  However, you can generally only take one loan out at one time and this strategy can be very detrimental to your overall financial plan.

If you want to set up a time to discuss how to consolidate your 401(k) plans, please go to oXYGen Financial to set up an appointment.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation:
www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Why This Tech Bubble Isn’t Like The Last Tech Bubble

It has been 18 years since the ‘dot-com’ bubble happened in 2000, and many people are wondering when Ctrl + Alt + Delete button might get clicked again in their portfolio.  As the NASDAQ gently clipped the 8,000 mark this past week, there have been many articles discussing that equities are ending their run especially in the arena of technology.   However, today’s technology run is far different than that of 20 years ago when the NASDAQ traded at triple-digit P/E ratios and anything with a dot-com after it and a pulse would have significant valuation in the marketplace.

Here were the top 10 holdings back in 2000 in the NASDAQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, the top 10 holdings in NASDAQ include the following:

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Intel, Comcast, PepsiCo, and Netflix.


So, why is this tech bubble so much different than the tech bubble from almost 20 years ago?

1) Dividends Companies have lots of choices on what to do with their capital. They can buy back stock, spend more money on research and development, let the money sit in cash, make acquisitions, or pay increased dividends to their shareholders.  With more money coming back into corporations with the recent corporate tax cuts and the repatriation of overseas money coming back into the United States, many of these technology companies are sitting on a lot of cash.  In the year 2000, only Intel was paying a dividend to shareholders with a paltry .1% dividend yield.

In today’s markets, here are the following dividend payouts from the top 10 NASDAQ companies. (source Yahoo)

  • Apple: 1.31% Yield
  • Microsoft: 1.54% Yield
  • Cisco: 2.79% Yield
  • Intel: 2.54% Yield
  • Comcast: 2.12% Yield
  • Pepsi: 3.27%

This means that there are now 6 of the top 10 NASDAQ companies that are paying dividends and the yields are dramatically higher than the small dividend yield Intel was paying in the year 2000. 

2) Price To Earnings Ratio- When you decide to buy a stock publicly, one of the key metrics to review are the price to earnings ratio. In essence, the price-earnings ratio indicates the dollar amount an investor can expect to invest in a company in order to receive one dollar of that company’s earnings. This is why the P/E is sometimes referred to as the price multiple because it shows how much investors are willing to pay per dollar of earnings. If a company were currently trading at a multiple (P/E) of 20, the interpretation is that an investor is willing to pay $20 for $1 of current earnings.  In the year 2000, the P/E ratio of the top 10 NASDAQ stock was 161.  Again, this means that you would be willing to pay $161 for $1 earnings.  As the great Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful) would say, “How am I going to get my money back?”

Today, the overall P/E of the NASDAQ is slightly above twenty and even with the raging fire that some of these top 10 stocks have been on the past couple of years, the top 10 stocks only carry a P/E of 55.  That is one-third of where the insane P/E’s were almost twenty years ago.

3) Cash On Hand- Today’s technology companies are so much different than even the shadow of the companies they were in 2000. As of the first quarter in 2016, Apple led the way with almost $216 billion in total cash on hand as the top company in the entire spectrum of stocks. Microsoft had $103 billion, Google $73 billion, Cisco $61 billion, and Intel with $31 billion. Having cash on hand is so crucial to the success of companies when things are not going well.  It gives them that cushion to buy other companies on sale, stabilize the company when business units are not doing well, and continue to make investments in new technologies.  As a side note to illustrate just how much different the world is today, Apple said in 2001, “Our cash position remains very strong at over $4 billion, and we are planning a return to sustained profitability beginning this quarter,” said Fred Anderson, Apple’s CFO.” This means that in 2016 Apple had 55 times as much cash on hand than they did in 2001.

Does all of this mean that we won’t see some sort of correction in the stock market….no it does not.  Does it mean we won’t see a selloff of tech stocks in the next week or month or year …..no it does not.  But, what it does mean is that the fundamentals that caused a meltdown twenty years ago in technology stocks are far different than the fundamentals of where are in today’s technology market.  If you have the right time frame, risk tolerance, and long-term objectives, consider that price in of itself is not the only thing you want to watch.  Companies still have to pay money, build a solid disciplined business, and ultimately create shareholder value.  Where do you think NASDAQ will be 10 ten years from now?

If you want to set up a time to discuss specific investments in these areas, please go to oXYGen Financial to set up an appointment.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

5 Money Moves To Make During Open Enrollment

Fall signals the changing of the leaves, football Sundays, and Halloween.  It is also the time of year where many of the companies begin to offer open enrollment for your benefits.  With the increasing complication of benefits packages, it more important than ever that you learn how to make smart money decisions during your two weeks of open enrollment.  Here are my five smart money moves to look at when your benefits season comes this fall.  Don’t wait until the minute to check your options!!

1) Pick The Right Insurance Plan- Picking the right insurance plan today might require a minor in engineering. As companies have increased choices and plans have increased their complexity, it is important you thoroughly review your options.  Consider closely how much money you actually spent on health insurance this year.  Did you reach your deductible?  How much did you pay in out of pocket costs?  Was this an unusual health year, or can you expect the same in 2019?   Here are the three types of plans companies will put in your open enrollment package. 

You should also be careful about the potential spousal surcharge when you compare plans if your spouse or partner has a plan at work that they can qualify for in this calendar year.  Companies are using this charge to encourage each spouse to stay on their own plan versus all combining on to one plan.  Also, compare the cost of adding your children carefully on each plan to determine what is best for your family.

  • A high deductible health plan (HDHP) with an HSA.This plan is also known as an HSA-eligible plan. It carries high out-of-pocket deductible costs to you, but the monthly premiums are typically lower. Many HDHPs are offered along with an individual HSA for health-related expenses. You can choose to set one up and fund it through your payroll on a pretax basis, and your employer may provide automatic seed money into the account as well.
  • A health maintenance organization (HMO) plan.This type of health care plan may offer lower out-of-pocket costs, but it comes with some specific restrictions. Most HMOs generally require the use of network providers, and typically require a primary care physician to coordinate your health care services, including providing referrals to see other doctors or specialists.
  • A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan.In this plan, you’ll usually pay more than an HMO, but you can choose your own doctors and specialists. It is more cost effective to choose doctors in your network and you should expect to pay directly when you go out of network. Many employers also now offer PPOs with more restricted networks but lower out-of-pocket costs, so be sure to review the provider network carefully.(source: fidelity)

2) Consider A Health Savings Account- For 2019, a married couple under the age of 55 will be able to put away $7,000 pre-tax into an HSA account ($8,000 if they are 55 or older), and $3,500 for a single individual. The HSA is still really the only triple tax-free account that actually exists where you can put away money pre-tax, let it grow tax-deferred, and then take it out tax free for approved medical expenses underneath the HSA rules.  Remember, once you get to a cliff of about $2,000 in your HSA plan, the HSA bank will usually let you invest your health insurance money into a pool of diversified mutual funds as opposed to letting it sit in a savings account.  Finally, HSA accounts are NOT use or lose and can be carried over from year to year.

3) Understand Your Life Insurance Need- Your company may allow to purchase additional term insurance for you, your spouse, and your children through work.  This is a great time of year to determine whether your overall financial situation has changed, and whether you need more or less life insurance rather than just signing up for the same amount you did the year before.   Consider this purchase carefully, because term insurance through work is NOT always the cheapest form of insurance.  Sometimes the cost of insurance can be more expensive and most of the group insurance policies are not portable, so choose wisely on the amount and type of insurance you want for your family.

 

4) Consider Buying Supplemental Disability Insurance – Most regular group long term disability plans cover 60% of your base salary only (not commissions, bonus, or stock options). Larger companies offer the ability to purchase supplemental long term disability insurance through work.    This can be an important part of your overall financial plan as your income is really what drives reaching your financial goals.  If you don’t get adequate coverage through work, then you should consider looking at getting GAP disability insurance coverage from a third party.

5) 401(k) or Roth 401(k) (or both?)- To Roth or not to Roth, that is the question. Many employers have added the Roth 401(k) provision to their overall 401(k) plan.  This is a great time to determine how much money to put away pre-tax and post-tax for your retirement, check your overall asset allocation, and make sure to get the automatic rebalancing set on your 401(k).

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
If you want to set up a time to review your open enrollment, please go to oXYGen Financial to set up an appointment.

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Bad Credit Card Moves To Make

When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was put into place, credit card holders were supposed to benefit from the new regulation.    Consumers would receive new notifications for rate fee increases, statements would inform consumers on how long it would take to pay off balances, and credit issuers were required to mail bills at least 21 days before the due date.     Now that some time has passed since the Dodd-Frank Act, consumers are still struggling with all time high levels of credit card debt and the fine print coming from credit card companies are smaller than ever.   Here are three things you should keep an eye on so you don’t get stung by the credit card companies.

 

  • Late Fees– Late fees are a big source of ways that credit card companies earn money. Since many of us pay our bills through automatic payment, you should make sure you pay your credit card bill a few days before the actual due date.    Some credit card companies will give their customers several weeks to pay their bill before late fees or finance charges will be incurred.    However, some credit card companies will begin charging late fees and finance charges literally the next day after the due date.     You need to read the fine print on your credit card statements and fulfillments you get from your credit card company because they may change their policies and actually move the dates around.  Paying late fees is a huge mistake than can be costly to your bottom line.

 

  • Finance Charges– How would you like to have a loan that is three to five times the current mortgage rate? As interest rates climb over the next year, you are going to see APR rates on many credit cards get back in the 18% to 21% range. It’s bad enough that people purchase items they cannot current afford as a habit with their personal finances, but to compound the error with financing it at a credit card company only adds insult to injury.  This is truly a bad move to make and many individuals and families don’t like to talk about their mistakes, so they compound it with taking out a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th credit card.

 

 

  • 0% Introductory Annual Percentage Rate-We see on television and on the internet advertisements that entice us to start a new credit card with a 0% introductory rate. There are also mailers we get that will allow us to transfer our balances over to a new credit card with a 0% interest rate on the balance transfer.  If you are going to do a balance transfer to a 0% card, be sure you closely read the fine print on what happens with new purchases or cash advances.   Often, the card issuers that give you this 0% rate will charge the maximum possible interest rate on new purchases or new cash advances.    It is very important that you decide in advance whether you will need the card you transfer the balance to for floating new credit.   If you take a new credit card with an introductory 0% rate, then be sure to read the fine print on how long the rate will last and what types of purchases it covers.  The reason I think this can be a bad move is that many families believe they will pay off the balance before the rate expires, when in fact the APR rate after the 0% interest expires can often be more than the current rate you had on your original card.

 

  • Inactivity or Annual Fees-Since credit is at a premium today, you need to manage your credit cards more closely than ever. If you are inactive with the credit cards that you have, it is likely today that the credit card companies will shrink your overall credit limit.    Some of the credit card companies will get sneaky can actually charge you an inactivity fee if you are not careful or do not spend a certain amount on the card.   This is true with many new offers put out to consumers today.   In addition, you should be clear when you sign up what the annual fees will be.    Some cards offer more rewards, benefits, and features that will make the annual fee worthwhile.     However, some cards will charge excessive fees without any real particular benefit.

 

  • No Rewards- With so many credit cards offering perks and rewards, it’s just a plain awful move not to be getting something in return from your credit card company.  Especially for those of you who pay off your monthly bill or have a business where you charge a good deal of expenses.  Whether you choose a cash back card, a frequent flyer award card, or a card that builds up universal points that you can use in a variety of places, you should have some card that builds up something for your financial future. 

 

Credit card companies are businesses.  We all know this.   Yet, it is only when we open our statements to see extra charges and fees that we get into a fit of rage with a customer service person that really is less than interested in our diatribe on the phone.   Make sure you limit the number of credit cards you have in your wallet and read each piece of new mail you get from your credit card company as they send them to share important information with you.   Don’t get caught with your credit card company sneaking into your wallet!

 

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

How To Get A Better Airline Price Even After You Book The Flight

All of us have experienced that fear of price gouging when we book our flights on line. When you go to a major website such as Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak, you often wonder whether or not you are getting the best possible deal. Then, when you hesitate to book the flight when you go online, you get even more bitter when you come back a day or two later only see the prices go higher. Or, even worse is when you actually book the flight and then you see the price go LOWER! Well, with the power of Artificial Intelligence there may be an answer to help you sleep better at night when you are booking flights or hotel called DoNotPay (www.donotpay.com/travel) that may just solve the problem.
The real beauty about DoNotPay is that it works AFTER you have booked your flight ensuring that you get the best possible deal on your flight. Since flight and hotel prices change every single day, DoNotPay works by finding the travel confirmations from past bookings in the inbox of your e-mail box. When the price drops on the flight, DoNotPay has an artificial intelligence chatbot robot that acts as your lawyer to find a legal loophole to negotiate a cheaper price on your behalf. Then, DoNotPay will automatically rebook you (no rebooking charges because they know the loopholes) right on the spot.
The best case scenarios with booking flights to get a better deal are often within 24 hours of booking a flight. Since you aren’t likely to go back and do all of that work just a few hours after you got through the pain of actually booking the flight, the DoNotPay robot can enable you a full refund within that time frame because of the clauses on how airlines set rebooking fees. It is estimated that there are some 70 to 90 loopholes per airline (you go figure that one out), and the robots are programmed to scan everything from whether warnings to schedule changes, so you can wriggle out of the overpriced ticket or hotel room.
DoNotPay is a free service so there are no fees and that means you’ll keep 100% of whatever you save on your rebooking. Even your data is completely encrypted and DoNotPay will seek your confirmation from you before proceeding with any rebooking. In doing my research, I even found out that they will help with parking tickets as well!
DoNotPay is pretty easy to set up. Once you get to www.DoNotPay.com/travel you’ll be prompted through a few pretty simple screens. First, you’ll connect up your e-mail for the robots to be able to scan. It actually says in the process they only scan your airline booking e-mails and no other e-mails in your inbox. Then, the system will prompt you for your birthday. Last, it will ask you for a credit card where they will deposit the savings. If your flight is delayed, the airline loses your luggage, or you are just plain unhappy (aren’t all travelers unhappy?), DoNotPay will fight for you. It won’t take you more than 60 seconds to get all set up on the system.
In my weekly column, I’m always thinking about different ways to keep you on top of smart money moves that will add to your bottom line. DoNotPay could save you both time and money….and maybe help you get the best price on your next trip.
Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

The Best 2018 Tax Moves To Make Now

As the new tax law goes into effect, many people are starting to wonder how this will affect their overall paychecks.  You should see some bump in your paychecks when the new tax tables go into effect somewhere in Mid-February or early March, but there are a host of financial decisions that you need to start considering now in order to maximize your own tax situation.

  • Adjust your withholdings- It’s ironic that most people give themselves a high five when they get a refund come tax time. Not only do you allow the Government the use of your money for a year, you also get taxed on your own state refund federally the following year.  Since we have new tax brackets and tax tables, you should really look at your withholdings here in the spring to maximize your cash flow here in 2018. Remember, if you are getting your taxes done, Turbo Tax and Tax Slayer are two low cost options if your taxes aren’t complicated.
  • It might be time to convert-. With the tax brackets changing this year, especially the bottom four tax brackets at 10%, 12%, 22%, and 24%, you might want to consider looking at a partial or full conversion of your Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA depending on your overall tax bracket. It’s possible here in 2018 that you start a business that will show a tax loss or you have an off year in your income which also may allow you a special conversion year of your Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.
  • Should you MOVE? One of the major tax law changes is that your state income taxes, local income taxes, and your property taxes are going to be capped at $10,000 here in 2018. Is it time to call Two Men And A Truck and think about moving to a state where you have ZERO state income tax.  There are major states including Texas, Florida, Washington, Tennessee, Nevada, and a few more that you will pay no state income tax.  If you don’t love where you live and your job could give you the mobility to move to another state, this could be perfect opportunity to take advantage of this in 2018.
  • Will Smith Turns 50- Yes, I said it, Will Smith turns 50 this year! If you saw the list of celebrities who turn 50, I think you’d gasp at how old all of us are getting.  That being said, the IRS changed the contributions for maximum investment this from $18,000 to $18,500 and for those of you who turn 50 in THIS calendar year you should make sure to set up your $6,000 catch up contribution for your 401k.  That could sure put some extra tax money in your pocket while also helping you save more for retirement.
  • 529 Isn’t Just College Anymore- This may be the year to completely rethink your saving strategy for private elementary and secondary school instead of college with your 529 plan. As the tax law changed this year, you can now use 529 plans for private school up to $10,000 per year.  If you have younger children and you feel confident that they are going to attend private school for their K-12 education, then there is a smarter strategy here allowing some of those tuition dollars to grow tax-deferred and ultimately come out tax-free for private school.
  • Downsize- If you really believe high dollar residential real estate is going to continue to grow in your area, then you can brush this one aside. However, if you think about the cost of owning a McMansion type home, you might want to consider downsizing with the two new tax rules that went into effect.  For one, NEW mortgages will be capped at $750,000 for the mortgage interest deduction, and as mentioned earlier in the article property taxes (combined WITH state and local taxes) will be capped at $10,000.

If you want to get your own individualized 2018 tax guide go to oXYGen Financial to breathe easier about life
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
CEO and Co-Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

What Itemized Deductions Will Look Like In 2018

To itemize or not to itemize, that is the question? With all of the tax law changes recently passed by President Trump in the GOP tax bill, one of the considerations you’ll need to get your arms wrapped around quickly is whether you will want to itemize your deductions when you file your taxes in 2019 or you will simply use the standard deduction.

For 2018, the standard deduction amounts will increase from $6,500 for individuals, $9,550 for heads of households (HOH), and $13,000 for married couples filing jointly, to $12,000 for individuals, $18,000 for HOH, and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Since the personal exemption is being completely eliminated, you’ll need to do the math about whether this was a good deal for you or not. For those married couples filing jointly, if you have three or more children, I actually think you went backwards on the new tax plan if you were filing the standard deduction.

For families who own a home and make a considerable amount of income, itemizing your deductions will likely be the way to go, but you’ll need to crank out the math based upon which deductions got capped and which ones were completely eliminated.

 

Sched A and outline of deductions (source: Forbes)

Here’s how Schedule A will be affected for the 2018 tax year following tax reform (numbers correspond to the numbers in the blue circles on Schedule A):

  1. Medical and Dental Expenses.Medical and dental expenses remain in place with a lower floor. We call it the “floor” because you can only deduct expenses over that number. The floor – before tax reform – was 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Here’s how it worked. Let’s say your AGI is $40,000 and your medical expenses were $5,000. Assuming you itemized, you could claim $1,000 as a deduction, or $5,000 in expenses less the floor (10% x $40,000 = $4,000).

Under tax reform, the 7.5% floor is back in place for two years beginning January 1, 2017 – that means that it applies to the 2017 tax year. So assuming the same facts above, you can claim $2,000 as a deduction, or $5,000 in expenses less the floor (7.5% x $40,000 = $3,000).

Again, unlike most of the provisions in the bill, the provision is effective retroactively to the beginning of this year – so you’ll see this change on your 2017 and your 2018 tax returns.

  1. State and Local Taxes.Under tax reform, deductions for state and local sales, income, and property taxes normally deducted on a Schedule A remain in place but are limited (see #3 below). Foreign real property taxes may not be deducted under this exception.
  2. SALT caps.While SALT deductions remain in place, there is a cap on the aggregate, meaning that the amount that you are claiming for all state and local sales, income, and property taxes together may not exceed $10,000 ($5,000 for married taxpayers filing separately).

State, local, and foreign property taxes, and sales taxes which are deductible on Schedule C, Schedule E, or Schedule F are not capped. This means that, for example, rental property – even if held individually and not in a separate entity – remains deductible and not subject to these limitations.

And yes, Congress already knows what you’re planning, so amounts paid in 2017 for state or local income tax which is imposed for the 2018 tax year will be treated as paid in 2018. In other words, you can’t pre-pay your 2018 state and local income taxes in 2017 to avoid the cap. There is not, to date, a similar restriction for property taxes.

  1. Home Mortgage Interest.So, first, the home mortgage interest deduction didn’t disappear. But it did get modified. Here’s what you need to know. First, the definition of acquisition indebtedness is important: It’s indebtedness that is incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving a qualified residence of the taxpayer and which secures the residence. Home equity indebtedness is indebtedness other than acquisition indebtedness that is secured by a qualified residence. Those distinctions are important (more in a moment) no matter what they’re called by you or by the bank.

As of December 15, 2017, there’s a limit on acquisition indebtedness – your mortgage used to buy, build or improve your home – of $750,000 ($375,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). For mortgages taken out before December 15, 2017, the limit is $1,000,000 ($500,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). It’s even more complicated because beginning in 2026, the cap goes back up to $1,000,000, no matter when you took out the mortgage.

And here’s where that definition is super important: For tax years 2018 through 2025, there is no deduction available for interest on home equity indebtedness.

  1. Charitable donations.Charitable donations remain deductible under tax reform. The rules are largely the same with a few changes. First, the percentage limit for charitable for cash donations by an individual taxpayer to public charities and certain other organizations increases from 50% to 60%. Two, taxpayers are no longer entitled to deduct payments made to a college or college athletic department (or similar) in exchange for college athletic event ticket or seating rights at a stadium. Those provisions are effective beginning in 2018.

Effective beginning in 2017, the provision which allows for an exception to the substantiation rule if the donee organization files a return is repealed. What this means to taxpayers: Always get a receipt.

  1. Casualty and Theft Losses.The deduction for personal casualty and theft losses is repealed for the tax years 2018 through 2025 except for those losses attributable to a federal disaster as declared by the President (generally, this is meant to allow some relief for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria).
  2. Job Expenses and Miscellaneous Deductions subject to 2% floor.Miscellaneous deductions which exceed 2% of your AGI will be eliminated for the tax years 2018 through 2025. This includes deductions for unreimbursed employee expenses and tax preparation expenses. To be clear, it includes expenses that you incur in your job that are not reimbursed, like tools and supplies; required uniforms not suitable for ordinary wear (like those ABBA costumes); dues and subscriptions; and job search expenses. These expenses also include unreimbursed travel and mileage, as well as the home office deduction.

Please note that the elimination of unreimbursed employee expenses only affects taxpayers who claim an employee-related deduction on Schedule A. If, as a business owner, you typically file a Schedule C, your business-related deductions are not affected by the elimination of Schedule A deductions.

  1. Itemized Deductions.The overall limit on itemized deductions is suspended for the tax years 2018 through 2025.

It’s probably the best time of year to get your plan up and going, so make sure you make an appointment to meet with a Private CFO® at oXYGen Financial!.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About The GOP Tax Bill

With the GOP Tax Bill on the verge of passing, President Trump has suggested that this 1.5 trillion-dollar tax cut will be a HUGE Christmas present for the entire United States of America. As with any type of new tax reform, there will be items you hear in the media about the winners and losers. You’ll also here about the major bullet points including the income tax brackets, the corporate tax cut to 21%, the small business pass through tax cuts, and certainly the minimization of state, local, and property income tax deductions on your itemized deductions. What really separates us from our competition is to work hard on digging several layers down to give you some insight into the small tax changes that you won’t hear about that could affect your bottom line.

Here are five things you didn’t know about the GOP Tax Bill:

  • Say Goodbye To The Home Equity Loan Deduction– The part of this bill that you did hear a lot about is that your existing mortgage deductions were completely safe. You also heard that new mortgages would have a cap of $750,000 for mortgage deductibility on new mortgage loans. Under the new plan the home equity loan/HELOC will no longer be tax deductible at all. This could have an impact on home renovation projects or those of you who took out two mortgages simultaneously when you bought your home.
  • Will Snacks Disappear At Work?- For most people out there who have been a 1099 or own an LLC, you are only able to deduct 50% of the meals and entertainment attributable to your business. This doesn’t mean that you have stopped taking people out for a meal, but certainly you don’t let the tax tail wag the dog. For companies including Facebook and Google, all of the FREE food, snacks, and drinks they provide at work are currently eligible for a 100% deduction off their bottom line. With this new bill, they will only be able to deduct 50% of those expenses. Does this mean that we will back to using vending machines?
  • 529’s Just Got A Whole Lot Better For Private Tuition– One of the reasons more people don’t put away even more money into a 529 plan is because they have always been a college (and graduate school) only plan, and could not be used for elementary school, middle school, or high school education. Nothing changes with higher education, but you will also be able to withdraw up to $10,000 each year, per child, to pay for private or religious school and receive the same tax benefits. Families participating in home schooling can also take out up to $10,000 a year to use for educational expenses. Also, families can roll 529 funds over to ABLE account which offer tax advantages for people with disabilities. 
  • Divorce Just Got Even Tougher- We know that divorce can be incredibly burdensome on the finances of a married couple. While child support has always been a non-deductible expense to the payer and not taxable income to the payee, alimony has always been a different story. Generally, the person paying the alimony can tax deduct it from their return and the person receiving the alimony would have to pay taxes on the income. Beginning with divorce decrees in 2019, alimony will no longer be deductible to the person paying the alimony and not taxable to the person receiving the alimony.
  • Student Loan Forgiveness- I’ve been thinking for some time that the next real bubble was going to be the looming amount of student loan debt that is growing by the day. With Federal Government now allowing discharged debt under the student loan forgiveness program, if you cannot pay back your loan you will not be responsible to pay taxes on the amount of discharged debt. The really good news for your heirs is neither will they. Under the new provision, if you die or become disabled, you (or your family) will not have to pay back the amount of forgiven debt.

If you don’t know the best way to plan for these changes going into 2018, go to www.oxygenfinancial.net to get your tax plan off to a great start in the new year.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

5 Sticky Financial New Year’s Resolutions For 2018

It’s 2018, and that means that most of you have made at least one New Year’s resolution. For most of you it will surround either diet or exercise, but for some of you getting your financial plan in order may rise to the top of the list. With the average American now surpassing more than $16,000 of household credit card debt, it may appear that feeling flush has left us spending out of control. In your smart money moves fashion, here are my ideas for a sticky 2018 financial New Year’s resolution that can help you grow your bottom line.

  • Get Your Financial House In Order
    • Set Up An Online Account Aggregation System – At oXYGen Financial, we have been using a personal financial dashboard for almost 10 years in helping our clients get their financial house in order. You can learn more about this by going to oXYGen Financial, but there are also other systems online including Mint and others that allow you aggregate your data
    • Set Up An Online Safety Deposit Box- We also knew that electronic storage was going to be a big win for families because most of your financial information is still literally sitting in a filing cabinet. You can sit with our staff and we can help upload and organize all of your electronic files in one place. There are also other systems out there including Everplans where you can set up an online value as well.
  • Balance Your Personal Family Budget
    • Set Up A Family Profit (or Loss) Spending Plan – (We don’t want to use the “B” word for Budget) because budget seems to be such an ugly word. However, you need to treat your family finances like the way you run a profit and loss statement for your company. It’s important to recognize that no family has an infinite amount of revenue, so you need to determine the best ways to make your family more profitable.
    • Goal: 50/30/20 Rule – (50% of cash flow to fixed expenses, 30% to variable expenses, 20% to savings) We used to discuss this mostly as the pay yourself rule, but it is also important to realize that the reason people live paycheck to paycheck is that they have lost transparency of their money. Consequently, they just don’t know which money really goes to fixed expenses and which are going to variable expenses. My outline here is good rough outline to determine if you are in the correct spending lanes.
  • Get Down To Two Credit Cards
    • Average family credit card debt now over $16,000- This is sobering statistics. The key with your resolution is to get down to two credit cards. (i.e. one amex and one visa (unless you have a business))
    • Avoid store cards at all cost due to the interest rate that they charge you. The finance charges can run up to 29.99% if you aren’t careful to read the fine print.
  • Increase Your Savings By Just 1%
    • With the new tax law, you should see a 1% to 3% increase in your paycheck sometime in early March or even mid-February. You should act as if it happened right now, and set up online with your 401(k) plan now to increase your 401(k) savings by at least 1% or get the new maximum of $18,500. You could also set up a systematic savings plan into an investment account ($25 or $50 a month) more than you are doing today into a Roth IRA or a brokerage account as well.
  • Take Advantage Of Free Money
    • Coupon more with SnipSnap – This could be one of your easiest ways to save money by simply taking a snapshot of coupons you see and your phone will turn them into a mobile app. Even though coupons are more accessible than they have ever been before, people don’t take advantage of the free money
    • Don’t forget to also reassess your overall frequent flyer points as you consider where you will take your 2018 trips or 2018 large purchases you need to make.

Is it time to start your 2018 resolution off to the right foot? E-mail us at contact@oxygenfinancial.net to get your financial plan done here in 2018.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

5 Things You Need To Know About The Bitcoin Before You Invest Your Money

It has become clear that the new gold rush people are talking about is the Bitcoin. The problem is that most people have no ideas what the Bitcoin is exactly, how it works, or the way that a transaction happens with this currency. When they start talking about the Bitcoin on major TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, then you know it’s time to get educated about this kind of investment before you jump into the deep end with your portfolio. Here is your guide on five things you need to know about the Bitcoin before you invest your money.

What Is The Bitcoin?

In the simplest of terms, the Bitcoin is a digital currency peer to peer online payment system. It is created through something called block chain technology, but at its heart it is simply a peer to peer payment system. What makes something like the Bitcoin unique to modern currency is that there is no central authority overseeing the Bitcoin. This means there is no backing or FDIC insurance and no central bank that is behind making the currency. This also presents the risk of the early stages of the Bitcoin.

Why Is It So Popular Now?

There are two main reasons that the Bitcoin has become so popular as of late. First and foremost, the Bitcoin is following the basic economic rules of supply and demand right now. For every one seller, there is about twenty buyers and this is driving the price of the Bitcoin up in value. In addition, there is still a massive fear amongst many people throughout the world around the collapse of modern paper currency. Many central banks and Governments are woefully loaded down with debt, and people are concerned that the paper they are printing may be worth nothing. The Bitcoin give people of all nations the ability to make a transaction with a currency like the Bitcoin that has the same value in every country.

Can There Be An Unlimited Amount Of Bitcoins?

In theory the answer is no, but in reality the answer is still unknown. There are supposedly only $21,000,0000 Bitcoins available to mined and currently only $16,700,000 Bitcoins have been mined as of today according to www.blockchain.info. You should be aware that there are many other forms of cryptocurrencies being created including some other popular ones called Ethereum, Litecoin, Namecoin, Dodgecoin, and several others. There is no predicting at this point which ones of these cryptocurrencies will be accepted in the mainstream stores.

How Do I Get Invested In The Bitcoin?

If you want to be invested in the Bitcoin directly, there are a few websites that make it easy to transact the Bitcoin. You can go to www.coinbase.com where you can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. You can also go to www.bitstamp.net.   If you want to own the Bitcoin indirectly, you can purchase the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) in your brokerage account or IRA accounts.

How Risky Is The Bitcoin?

Like any technology, cryptocurrency is really still in its infancy stage so you should expect the pricing to be highly volatile and speculative within your portfolio. Today, there are already over 100 different types of cryptocurrencies and nobody knows yet which currencies will be around or if they will be around at all in the future. It is always a good idea if you are thinking about investing to make sure you invest in the Bitcoin as part of an overall diversified portfolio as they should be considered highly risky.

If you want to discuss how Bitcoins could fit into your overall portfolio, reach out to us at www.oxygenfinancial.net.

 

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Why Your Bias Can Make You Make Bad Investment Decisions

We all have read about confirmation bias — the tendency to look for information that confirms a pre-existing belief and how that bias may lead us to make bad investment decisions such as holding a stock when we should sell it. There was a great Harvard Business Review article called “The Hidden Traps Of Decision Making” which discussed this kind of tendency called the ‘Evidence Confirming Trap’. Over the many years of personal investing, I’ve come up with four steps to make sure I don’t succumb to confirmation bias.

That “I’ve missed the run” so things will do better attitude

Amidst all the various stories out there, many people have been pleasantly surprised with the market growth here in 2017. If you have been sitting in cash, there are naturally going to be emotions of disappointment from what you have missed out on this year. So instead of looking for real empirical data and evidence, you may convince yourself that it is time to get off the sidelines and next year will be another year of double digit growth. I’ve avoided making these kind of mistakes by examining all the evidence with equal rigor. Is U.S. a better bet than international right now or how will the GOP tax plan impact the markets? Make sure you ask yourself the tough questions and gather all facts possible before making a decision.

That “can’t miss” stock that will make you rich

It’s happened to the best of us, no matter what our education. You are at a dinner party or having a conversation in the kitchen at work when you hear someone say, “I just made 100 percent profit buying ABC stock, and this thing is just taking off.” Irrespective of our intellectual quotient, when we hear of opportunities to make money quickly, it always peaks our interest. After you hear this tip from a person whom you trust and like, you already become biased that this is, of course, a very good idea. I always find someone who I respect and trust whether it is a success person or a trusted advisor to play devil’s advocate before I do anything to argue against the decision I am contemplating. This way I can consider the decision with a more open mind.

The “I’ll hang on to my favorite stock forever” scenario

We don’t realize the power of our own motives, and we aren’t honest with ourselves about our motives. Nobody likes to admit losing money, which is why your friends will always tell you they broke even when they come back from Vegas (Hint: The words “break even” are code for “lost money”). When I’ve made money in a stock, it’s easy to want to hang on to it forever. I must be honest with myself when thinking about dumping a stock I’ve made money in whether I am really gathering information to help figure out the right time to sell the stock, or am I just looking for more articles to read on the internet with data that will support me keeping the stock I like. You always need to have an entry and an exit strategy.

The “I’ll agree” to not argue scenario

We all have a trusted advisor in our lives whether it is a family friend, a boss at work, or a financial advisor you work with on a yearly basis.   After making some mistakes early in my career, I realized the last thing I want surrounding me a yes person. This allows me to avoid the emperor has no clothes situation. If you find that your trusted advisor is always agreeing with you, especially in a situation where you are thinking about pulling your money from a financial institution, then it might be time to find a different financial advisor. I learned that some healthy and heated debate with my trusted advisor has allowed me to make better personal and business decisions over my life.

If you are struggling with how make good quality decisions for your retirement, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail at ted@oxygenfinancial.net and we can help.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Save BIG Money On Your Teenager’s Auto Insurance!

It’s Official! Effective November 1st of this year, I officially have three children that can drive an automobile. On one hand, it’s a sigh of relief because now I have three drivers who can make a run to CVS or Chick-Fil-A to do those small errands I simply don’t want to do at all. On the other hand, you simply worry every time your children get out on the road and spend your nights waiting up to make sure that they get home safely.   Beyond the bad and good of having your children be able to drive, the one that really hits home is your auto insurance.

In fact, when my 20 year old went on to our auto insurance for the first time, even a seasoned financial advisor like myself gulped a little bit with sticker shock as a good solid student cost more than $2,000 per year. When my second daughter went on about two years later and added another $2,000 per year, I thought to myself that there must be a better way to get a deal on auto insurance than be robbed by the mainstream auto insurance companies. As much as I looked, I couldn’t find a solution. Looming in my future to add to auto insurance was my third child who is a boy. With the first two being girls, it was pretty expensive, but I knew my son would push our bill up to make our auto insurance bill basically as much as gas and electric.

Then I stumbled across a PURE solution. A solution so PURE, it could reduce my overall bills by more than 40% it is called Pure Insurance. Pure Insurance was developed almost a decade ago to serve high credit score families that are also high net worth. With many insurance companies, families are lumped into the pool with the thousands or millions of other families rather than being in a risk pool that may be more favorable for their particular financial situation.

When you become a PURE member, you join a very select group of responsible, financially successful families who own extraordinary homes and other high-value assets. A more responsible membership means fewer claims, which leads to lower premiums. Whether you own multiple homes and vehicles; collect fine art, enjoy fine wine, love fancy antiques, or travel extensively, PURE’s suite of products are optimized to help protect you from the risks and liabilities presented by your unique lifestyle. (source: www.pureinsurance.com)

When I compared my old premium for auto, homeowners, and umbrella liability which was more than $11,000 per year, the switch to Pure Insurance moved me to $6,100 per year. Needless to say, for years I accepted the status quo for buying auto and home insurance until I discovered that there was a company who could underwrite a family like mine.

If you have a super high credit score, a net worth over seven digits, and teenage drivers, you should check out www.pureinsurance.com to potentially lower your automobile and homeowner’s insurance bills.

 

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

 

5 Ways To Ruin Your Retirement

One of the worst feelings in the world is to worry about retirement especially after you have retired. Recently, I sat down with someone who kept telling me they worried about running out of money.   The fear was so real that it was preventing them from even enjoying the few trips and vacations they were taking during retirement.   The reason we plan and track during retirement so often is to ensure that you don’t ruin your retirement.   If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and thinking about retiring soon, here are five ways you can ruin your retirement.

  • Carrying Too Much Debt
    • A Large Mortgage (Too Much Refinancing) – While refinancing seems like a no brainer where rates are today, you need to consider looking at a 15-year loan vs. 30-year loan so you don’t carry a mortgage into retirement. This can be a real problem if you don’t have the same level of income to pay a hefty mortgage.
    • 401(K) Loans- will you be able to pay back?- Also, some people take 401(k) loans to assist their children’s college education. Remember, if you leave your employer, you need to be certain they will still allow you to pay back a 401(k) loan or you will be stuck with a taxable event prior to retirement that will reduce your capital base for retirement.
  • Not Checking Your Actual Social Security
    • Double Check To See If Income Was Misreported- I know it seems like this could never happen, but I see this all the time. Especially now that we have more 1099 contractors and people who own their business. Make sure to set up an online account at ssa.gov and check your taxable earning on your Social Security statement.
    • Figure Out The Best Age To Start Collecting- This is a big trickier to figure out, but whether you are single or married, it is smart to figure out whether to take Social Security early, at full retirement age, or wait until 70.
  • Taking Too Much Risk
    • What Happens If Your Portfolio Drops 25%? In Retirement – Most people work hard on their investments during the accumulation period, but what happens if you take a hit during decumulation period? Can you stomach this in retirement, especially now that the market has been up for so many years in a row.
    • Betting You’ll Get Income From Your Rental Properties – While renting out properties and buying them seem attractive today, what happens if you get another 2008? Can your retirement handle two properties that go empty for six months?
  • You Don’t Talk With Your Spouse/Partner
    • You Both Say You Like Biking… (Motorcycles or Bikes)?
    • You Want To Live In The City/They Want To Live At The Beach- For both of these, one way you can kill your retirement is not discussing with your partner or spouse what you will do in retirement. While goal setting on the emotional side can be difficult to do, the worst thing in the world is to have a ton of money but you don’t know what to do with each other…or worse yet you never see each other at all.
  • You Don’t Plan For Health Expenses
    • What Happens If You Retire Before The Age Of 65? – If you decide to make work optional before the age of 65, what happens if you need medical care because you have a catastrophic illness and now you don’t carry health insurance? Or, your health insurance is far worse than the one you had at work?
    • What Happens If You Need Long Term Care? – While this isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world to talk about, the cost of nursing home care is skyrocketing. You should consider figuring out your game plan for the potential of needing skilled care at your home or going into a nursing home for a period of time. Not planning for this has ruined many retirements for spouses and partners because it eats away at your capital base.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

7 Retirement Shirts I Won’t Be Wearing

When it comes to retirement, many people talk about how much of a lump sum they will need to make work optional. They discuss their future plans full of travel, golf, grandchildren, and giving back to charity. We often hear of the dreams of starting the business they always wanted to run and starting the volunteer work they never had the time for when they were working full time. Over the past twenty-six years, I’ve seen many people retire and helped many retire successfully.

At the risk of offending someone out there (because I am sure I will) I spent a few days up in New Jersey over the Fourth Of July and I saw a lot of bad shirts. I mean really bad shirts. Don’t know why it got me to this off the beaten path retirement topic, but I thought I would share my list of seven shirts you’ll never see me wearing during retirement. Remember, if you do end up at Leisure Village, their motto is “It’s the time of your life to have the time of your life!” Unless of course you are wearing a really bad shirt.

1) Tabasco Button Down Shirt- Don’t get me wrong, I love Tabasco sauce (especially the Pepper blend) but I wouldn’t wear a McIlhenny & Co. printed shirt with shrimp even if I was walking on Bourbon Street. I forbid this one in retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Golf shirts with pictures of golf stuff on it- If you want to play golf in retirement, then I recommend you get as much of it as you can. However, having your attire loaded up with pullover shirts full of antique golf clubs and balls is a no no in retirement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) 80’s Cosby Sweaters- This isn’t just because of the whole recent Cosby situation, but these sweaters were god awful in the 80’s and one of those things sure not to make a fashion comeback. If you are wearing one of these in the winter, then you better be sure it is for a retro 80’s party and that’s it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 4)Tommy Bahama- I know someone reading this really loves Tommy Bahama and I don’t begrudge you for that, but if you live In Hawaii (and Hawaii only) these make more sense to me. The rest of you…not something for retirement and not something I would be wearing in retirement. I don’t get the whole palm tree on every single shirt look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5)Tank Tops- Unless you are ready for a game of 3 on 3 basketball and have made the senior circuit of Ice Cube’s new league, the white tank top is a go (even if you do live on the Jersey Shore). The tattoos won’t look quite as cool at the age of 70 as they did when you were thirty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6)Abstracts- Triangles, circles, squares, you name it. The bottom line is that all abstract t-shirts, button downs, jackets, etc. are all out of the question. You don’t want to have the final phase of your life represent the beginning part of your life. Look back at some of your old art you did as a kid. It wasn’t good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) Shirtless- For 99% of us, all of the CrossFit, yoga, running, and weightlifting won’t help us defy gravity. No problem at all with those retirees that love to garden, but nothing worse than seeing a 77 year old man doing their yard care shirtless. You have to know when to call it quits. And I will make sure to stock up on cotton t shirts in retirement and never go for this look.

 

 

-Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Slip The Hostess A $50 Bill

What’s your worst nightmare on a Saturday night? We live near a massive outdoor shopping and eating complex called Avalon.   Filled with 20 or so restaurants, it’s generally buzzing on the weekends with couples and families walking around spending money in the stores and grabbing a bit at the cuisine of their choice. My worst nightmare on a Saturday night is taking the family out or meeting some friends and stepping up to the hostess who tells me it is going to be an hour and a half wait to get a table and puts our name into the software so we can track how far back we are in the line to eat. Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare!!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine flew into town and we went to grab dinner at a hot spot in Buckhead where they told us our wait was going to one hour and fifteen minutes. When I heard the hostess shout out the lengthy amount of time we would have to stick around, I told my friend we’d be best off finding somewhere else to eat. Then it happened. Something that I’ve seen work in the movies and thought it had gone out the window (circa 1985) and my friend changed my mind about what kinds of financial tactics still work in today’s modern day and age.

He glanced at the hostess and said, “Hey, can I ask you a favor?” as he pushed a $20 bill across the counter. “I’m sure that there is nothing you can do, but please take this if there are any openings that happen to come up quicker then let us know.” When I saw, him push the money across the hostess stand not even done in a discreet way, I thought to myself how embarrassing this situation is going to be. We turned our backs as she scraped up the $20 bill and headed over the bar for a drink.

As my friend and I grabbed a cocktail I said, “What was that? You know with these waiting apps today that kind of old school give money to the hostess stuff doesn’t work anymore, right?”   He quickly gave me a quasi-staring glance and said, “Yeah, it works all the time. Everywhere I go, I have no reason to wait in line. I just give them a tip and magically I am at the head of the line.”   As he blurted out this statement I laughed and little bit and thought it would be best to take our drinks and head to the patio scene.

As we worked our way to the patio, he shared with me WHY he uses this technique. He started discussing the concept of an HOUR of time and what one hour of time is worth today. If an hour of your time is worth $100, $200, or even $500, why in the world would you ever make you, your friends, or your family wait if you could spend money to get to the front of the line. They do it in places like Disney World with the fast pass, so why not fast pass yourself at the restaurant?

About five minutes later, a buzz came into my phone. Sure, enough it was the hostess saying that my table was ready for us to sit. I couldn’t believe it!! Not only did we get a table, but we got one of the best patio tables in the entire place.   As we sat down, an incredulous look came across my face almost in bewilderment of what just happened at the restaurant. I said to my buddy, “There is no way I thought that kind of stuff had worked anymore. If I had known that, I would have used a week ago in Savannah where we had to wait 90 minutes for dinner.” He said to me, “Just remember Ted, what is an hour of your time worth. If you can get seated for less than that do it every single time.”

Next time I am in line for a long wait, maybe Uncle Benjamin will join me and find us a seat within the blink of an eye.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Big Financial Pitfalls If You Plan on Working Longer

There are more people I meet every day who tell me that they aren’t planning to retire early, but instead enjoy life a little bit more and succumb to the fact that they are going to have to work later into their lives. While on the surface this all seems fine and dandy, the harsh reality is that there are some major pitfalls with trying to work past the age of 65.   This strategy is often filled with some pretty unrealistic expectations and can have close to retirement families grasping for straws if their plan isn’t executed successfully. Here are my pitfalls and tips to be thinking about if you want to work past the age of 65.

  • Reality vs. Fantasy- In a recent study by the employee benefit research, 38% of the workers in the workforce expect to retire at the age of 70 and only 4% actually retire at the age of 70. So, many workers are thinking that they will last until the age of 70, but the numbers drop off substantially before that time actually happens.
  • What If Your Company Chops You?- Prudential recently did a study and every year a worker delays the inevitability of retiring it costs the company another $50,000. If you are at the upper end of the scale of income it could cost the company your salary plus 40% for benefits and taxes. This is why you are witnessing companies like Ford more aggressively offer job severance packages to keep their costs down. In addition, 2/3rd’s of the workers won’t even make it to the age of 65 with their employer due to layoffs, reorganizations, or overall general unhappiness with their job
  • You Don’t Have The Job Skills- Even though many workers want to stay with the employers for the long haul, the question is do they have the skills to continue to add value to their company in their current job. When the costs become extremely high to a company, they start assessing if they can afford two lower salaries for the price of the one higher salary.

What can you do today to help avoid some of these planning pitfalls?

  • Pay off your mortgage early- Forget about your interest rate on the mortgage. Apply extra principal every month, chunk down the mortgage when you get a bonus, or move to bi-weekly payments. It will lighten your backpack down the road.
  • Sharpen the saw- Especially when it comes to technology skills, technology positions will be the ones in the most demand down the road.
  • Make catch up contributions- In the year you turn the age of 50, you can start increasing your total 401k, 403b, etc. contributions from $18,000 per year to $24,000 per year. It would blasphemous not to do this.
  • Start curbing your spending- Act as if…you were retired today- could you live off a lower income. Try it for a year- it is the only way to know.
  • Get your affairs in order- Most people have collected lots of financial boxes over their lifetime. It is a great time to consolidate and your overall financial affairs in order.

If you are struggling with how to handle these as you plan for retirement, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail at ted@oxygenfinancial.net and we can help.

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net
Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

Four Investments To Consider During A Stock Market Crash

With the markets hitting an all-time high the other week soaring over 21,000, many people have been asking this question, “when is the bottom going to fall out of the market?” While nobody has a crystal ball, it might be time to start thinking about where to put your money if you are concerned that the markets are going to unravel in the 2nd half of 2017. Here are four investments to consider during a stock market crash.

  • Cash – Remember, return of principal can sometimes be better than return on principal especially while the markets are spiraling on a downward trend. Even though your average savings account is going to pay .20% to .40%, you could leave your money in an FDIC insured account and then slowly dollar cost average your way back into the overall market. You could also consider using Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) as an alternative cash idea if you don’t want to leave the money in a money market account or in a savings account.
  • Hard Assets – Some of you may remember back in 2008 that when the markets were getting clobbered that people did well in assets classes such as silver and gold. While most people think about a hard asset being real estate, there are other assets that you can physically buy including gemstones like diamonds, collectibles (art, cars), and of course the precious metals area are all possibilities of arenas to consider during a stock market crash.
  • Equity Indexed Annuities – Even though the word annuity often gets hits with a negative slant, you sure don’t hear of people complaining who are getting those monthly pension payments in retirement. These kinds of products are offered by many insurance companies, but Midland National® Life Insurance Company is a strong and established life insurance company that you could check out for looking at these types of annuities.   You will give up some of your upside in the products by having a cap on the upside growth of a particular index (i.e.- the S&P 500 cap may be 10% in a particular year as an example), but you will not lose any money if the market goes down 5% or 50%. (note: this does depend on the actual equity index annuity product, so please review carefully)
  • Land – Will Rogers had a famous saying about land, “They ain’t making anymore of it”. If you have the hold time, land can be an alternative opportunity when the stock market crashes. You should look for land in areas where property values may have gone down or the population inflow exceeds the population outflow. Land requires having patience because it is a long-term investment, but one that could be a place holder in a sustained downturn in the equity markets.

If you are struggling with how to handle these as you plan for retirement, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail at ted@oxygenfinancial.net and we can help.

 

Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net

 

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.

How To Get That College Graduate Out Of The House

 

Now that your baby is all grown up and has an official college degree, your responsibilities have ended, right? Wrong! Your son or daughter has informed you that that they will be moving home after college while they prepare themselves for their next phase in life. According to The Guardian, almost a third of Italian adults (31%) live with their parents. The highest proportion was amongst 18 to 29 year olds for whom unemployment is particularly high with 60.7% reported living at home. Are we taking over the Italians?   Last year, NPR reported that a whopping 32.1% of kids aged 18 to 34 were living at home with Mom and Dad. Here are four tips to get that college graduate off the couch and launching into real life.

  • Use Social Media…Yes, Social Media – In order to get your college graduate up and working in a real job, you have to make them treat getting a job like a job. One of my biggest recommendations is to hold them accountable to get to 1,000 connections on LinkedIn and send out 15 messages a day. It won’t be hard for them to see their friends doing well in different social media channels, but give them a weekly goal of number of interviews that they will have every week.
  • Set A Deadline- If you don’t cut the cord at some point then you should expect the cord to start wrapping around your neck. It is important that you begin charging rent immediately, even if you plan on giving them that rent to get their first apartment or home. You need to be clear with your college graduate that this arrangement will last for three months, six months, etc., but has a definite deadline.
  • Make Them Have Responsibilities At Home- This isn’t about giving them $3 a week anymore to take the garbage out to the end of the driveway. It is important you set clear boundaries about how the house runs since they haven’t been home permanently for a long, long, time. You should be very direct about having people in the house, what chores are expected, and make certain that they don’t think you are there to wait on them hand and foot. Get them in the habit of helping to cook meals and do the laundry.
  • Sit down and help them make a budget (or just get them to come see us)- It’s a good likelihood that you have been picking up the auto insurance, health insurance, and many other bills that your newly minted college graduate has no idea exists. It’s a great idea to start to map out a budget on what it will cost for an apartment, automobile payments, food, and all of the other bills that they will be facing every month. For them to figure out what income they will need to be earning, there is no way to know this without a budget. Plus, doing a budget will add some more finality to the inevitability that they will be officially leaving home.

If you are struggling with how to handle this delicate situation, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail at ted@oxygenfinancial.net and we can help.

 

-Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.

Request a FREE no obligation consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net
Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express.  He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial.  You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.