Monday, August 29, 2011

World's Best Investment

A common question in the office surrounds investment choices and returns. Where the client wants to discuss stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and gold, I want to encourage clients to make the best investment on the planet: an investment in themselves. All investments have risks, except the investment in one's self. Even government bonds can lose value to inflation and opportunity cost, even if the bonds are held to maturity.

There are several ways to invest in yourself. Night classes at the local tech school and the numerous seminars on every subject imaginable are a good start. Employers need educated employees and demand it in the current economy. A large number of office jobs require proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel, plus QuickBooks. The investment to learn these programs well is low; the payoff is huge. A small amount of time and money can lead to a long-term job with good wages and benefits.

You can also pay off debt and build a retirement account. But leads back to stocks, bonds...

A story for another day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stealth Tax Increases

Just like 2008, the Republicans are getting everything they want, and asset values (stock market and housing) are dropping fast. The Democrats do not have clean hands either. Neither party focused on jobs and as a result, we have no job growth. Go figure.

But this blog post is not about jobs or spending; it is about taxes: should they go up, down, or stay the same. Republicans in Congress say raising taxes kills jobs. Ahhh, dummies... so does cutting spending. Less demand, no matter where it comes from, will not create jobs.

The GOP has worked very hard to raise your tax burden and you never knew they were in your pocket. When the policies of Congress destroy the value of your 401(k), IRA, and home value, this is a real and hidden tax. The brinkmanship with the debt ceiling was a colossal waste of time and created no jobs. Zero. Yet, the stock market dropped 15% in two weeks and housing prices look like they may start down again as economic activity stalls because there is no demand (government cutbacks) and hence, no jobs.

I don't know about you, but I would take a higher tax rate if I didn't have to watch my saving earn .1% in the bank, my retirement funds shrivel in the stock market (the Dow closed on December 31, 1999 at 11497.69), my home drop 40% in value, and felt secure in my job. Maybe I am nuts, but all this adds to a real tax increase. The only difference is who gets the money. If the government taxed a small amount more at least it would help lower the deficit. Instead, we just get to bleed more with no doctor in sight.

Can someone please lead? Real leadership. Please.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Free My Coke Rewards Codes-August 2011

I know a few of you collect My Coke Rewards Codes for prizes. I don't have the time or temperment to chase such corporate gimmicks. But I understand why other do. Below is a list of a few codes. If people like, I'll add more from time to time.

If you have extra codes you want to share, include them in the comments area.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Create Your Own Job

As the economy grows at a slow pace and jobs are scarce, a certain group of people have discovered the secret of previous recessions when applying for a job. These job opportunities are offered to anyone that applies. Unlike the past, fewer people are taking advantage of these jobs. These "create your own job" offers are called "starting your own business."

I have been in the tax business since the early 1980s and see business creation accelerate as a recession ends every time, until now. For some reason (maybe government interference and lack of a clear policy) people are creating jobs at a slower pace this time. When current employers refuse to hire, smart people find an unfilled demand and fill it.

Several of my clients have started a new business. Business ownership has its risks, but the rewards are really good, too. Starting a business as the economy leaves a recession has fewer risks as demand is increasing and there are ample opportunities to fill space vacated by businesses that closed during the recession.

Owning a business is not for everyone and has unique issues related to it. Still, nothing beats business ownership. Yes, the hours are long and risks abound. But losing one client does not break the company where losing the one and only job you have is a severe body blow.

The people that started businesses over the last year in my office have done well. It seems to me there is significant unfilled demand waiting to be filled. Some of these businesses may fail in the future, but for now things look all roses.

You can beat the odds when starting a business by following a few simple rules:
  1. Use little or no debt.
  2. Hire professionals to help you start and run the business (accountant, attorney).
  3. Start small, if possible, and build from there.
  4. Plan each step of the way. Have a business plan.
No debt and professional help go a long way in assuring the success of the business. The challenges of business can be overcome with hard work, perseverance, and planning. It is a great pleasure to see clients starting and growing their own business. It is good for my business, good for the economy, and good for the community.