MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics
Before the Holidays, Freeze Your Credit to Protect Your Identity
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:35 AM

As the holidays approach and your credit cards get ready for their annual workout, please, make a promise to yourself that before the end of this month you’ll take action and place a credit freeze on your credit reports for all three major credit bureaus.

The Art and Science of Making Smart Retirement Planning Assumptions
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Mar 28, 2012 @ 05:00 PM

When it comes to retirement income planning, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is the assumption for your projected rate of return.

Before the market crash of 2008, counting on your retirement savings growing 8, 9 or even 12 percent plus, year after year after year, are likely gone. In the ‘new normal’, cautious investors are learning to revise their expectations downward and for good reason. Recent market volatility, the debt crisis in Europe, a slower growing global economy, a weak real estate market and political gridlock have all contributed to revisiting long-term growth forecasts.

Tax Planning - 12 Ways to Avoid an IRS Tax Audit in 2012
Mark Zaifman   |    Mon, Feb 06, 2012 @ 02:41 PM
Rethink Your Financial Objectives and Keep Your Emotions Out of It
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Jan 24, 2012 @ 08:16 AM

Since the stock market crash of 2008, investors of all stripes, but especially boomers, have had a love-hate relationship with the market. When the markets are relatively calm and trending up, we love the markets, when the opposite is true, we hate the stock market.

I’m purposely using words like love and hate to illustrate a point. These are powerful words that in turn create powerful and impactful emotional responses. And if there’s one area of life that truly benefits from rational decision making as opposed to emotionally based decision making, it’s the world of investing.

Still Making Good Financial Decisions or Are You Losing Your Grip?
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Jan 11, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

Can you guess the average age at which we are at our mental sweet spot?

Vanguard Mutual Fund's John Bogle Discusses Investment Risks
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Oct 04, 2011 @ 07:10 AM

Bogle Discusses Investment Risk During Volatile Times

Why You Need a Tax Strategy for Your Business
Mark Zaifman   |    Mon, Sep 19, 2011 @ 04:16 PM

Ask a small business owner to describe what makes their business tick and most of the time they can answer this question with superb detail and enthusiasm. Now ask this same, passionate, small business owner to describe their overall tax strategy and most likely you’ll hear silence.

Of course this silence is not a mystery.  Most small business owners wear at least five hats to begin with when operating their business and their tax and finance hat is usually not one of their favorites. That’s all too understandable, but here’s why it's important to have a tax strategy for your business.

Like any business owner, if you’re profitable, (or even if you’re not) paying taxes is going to be one of your major expenses - many times one of your largest. As a former practicing tax accountant, I wish I could say the tax code is fair and you’re operating on a level playing field. That’s not the case. The deck is stacked against the little guy/gal and until there’s actual and real tax reform, it’s going to stay that way.

Lowering Your Odds of an IRS Audit

Because the tax code is so complicated, most small business owners opt to file a Schedule C - Sole Proprietor return. And because most small business owners in general tend not to be the best record keepers, the IRS loves to audit Schedule C filers. Even if you did everything right and assuming you have nothing to hide, an IRS audit distracts you from your business at hand and very often causes high anxiety and stress.

I’m a big fan of operating your business as an S corporation. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. But if you haven’t had a CPA or financial planner run a tax comparison of what business entity would be most optimal to operate your business or practice, I highly suggest you have this analysis done prior to the end of the year.

Very few S corporation tax returns filed each year are audited. In recent years, the audit rate has been 0.40% annually. That’s the kind of odds a tax accountant loves. How does this compare to other business entities audit chances?

•    Partnerships: 0.40
•    C Corporations: 1%
•    Individual’s filing Schedule C: 1.17%

Although statistically there doesn’t appear to be a big difference between an S corporation audit risk and a Schedule C filer - the difference is night and day. With the IRS eagerly on the pursuit for fees and income, becoming a tax savvy small business owner is more important than ever.

 Click me


data source: TurboTax 

photo by saturnism

Rebalancing Your Investment Portfolio Once the Dust Settles
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Aug 10, 2011 @ 03:25 PM

At some point the stock market will bottom out, although when that happens is anyone’s guess.  But when that eventual time does come, what happens next is relatively predictable based on past history.

Once the dust does finally settle from this recent market downturn, turn on CNBC or Bloomberg News and watch how the usual suspects describe in elaborate technical fashion why the stock market is now extremely oversold, how the S&P price/earnings ratios are now at historic lows, how there is lots of value in the market at these bargain basement prices and who is buying what at what price.

Panic is Not a Investment Strategy
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Aug 09, 2011 @ 02:55 PM

600 points down in the stock market yesterday, 420 points up today; one can only guess what tomorrow brings our way. If the recent stock market rollercoaster ride has you feeling dazed and confused, you’re not alone.

4 Investing Truths by Vanguard
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Jun 29, 2011 @ 01:56 PM

If you are like many others, you may think investing is complicated. But by simply knowing your goals and options and then picking the right investing partner, becoming a successful investor is easier than you think. Vanguard does a great job at explaining the steps you’ll need to take in making smart investment decisions as well as guide you on becoming a successful investor. Check out these excellent articles - Vanguard’s 4 Investing Truths:

1) Vanguard’s Investing Truth - RISK:

Read More