Monthly Archives: May 2014

Time To Quit Your Job?

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A few days ago we were talking to Jared about the various employers he worked for before heading up Wilson Rogers.  While chatting, we wondered what made him leave various employers.  From that, we learned that when he was a “young” professional, he would be very quick to make judgments and contemplate whether he should hit the door.  But as he became more “seasoned” in his career, he would tend to think about things a little longer before making his ultimate decision.   However, just because he took longer does not mean that he didn’t have to ditch an employer, or two, to make his life a little happier!

If you think it may be time for a new job, we suggest that you ask yourself the same five questions Jared would ask himself.  This will keep you from telling your boss off and security escorting you off the premises!

Do you truly hate what you do?  If the answer is yes, the next question is not should you quit your job, but when will you quit your job.  We have no idea what your financial overhead amounts to or what your debt is. What we do know is that even though life is short, doing something with it that you hate will only make it seem very long and very miserable.

Have you asked for a raise and the answer was “no?”  If you’re truly working your butt off week after week, month after month, and year after year, and you’re not getting raises or growing your income, something is wrong.   Even if you get just the national average annual raise (a little less than 3 percent), in five years you will have increased your income by over 15 percent. You need these increases to be able to keep your head above water financially. The increase in the cost of gas alone requires that you earn a raise.  However, and this is important, the key is that you earn it.

Do you work for a company you don’t respect?  If you’re not being paid well and not getting raises, and on top of that you don’t respect the company where you spend 40 hours or more a week, that’s a pretty amazing sign that it’s time to come up with a plan to quit.

So be honest with yourself right now: Do you respect the company you work for? Do you like what it stands for? Do you like what it does? Does it care about you and its customers? Does it have a plan for the future, or is it living in the past?

Do you work for a company that doesn’t respect you?  The fact is that not all companies are created equal. There are bad, good, and great companies, and they all treat their people in radically different ways.  Does your company respect you? You pretty much know the answer, don’t you?  If they don’t respect you, then why would you want to pour all of your talent, emotion and drive into a place that probably isn’t going to reward these efforts?

Are you’re bored to death and not challenged?  This is the hardest sign to recognize because it can change over time. You may be one promotion away from new opportunities, but things can be pretty brutal if you’ve been bored out of your mind for years.

It can happen, by the way, even when you’re experiencing tremendous success, getting raises, and working for a great company. It can happen when you run your own business. It can happen when you’ve worked for 5, 10, 20, or 30 years and achieved all you ever dreamed of achieving. And, yes, it can happen even sooner than that.

Plan Before You Go
Often, we reach a point where what we do simply doesn’t work anymore. We’re not fulfilled. At that point, you have to ask yourself if it’s time to change where you are, or what you do where you are.  We’re not being cavalier here by suggesting that you simply quit your job today. What we are suggesting is that you think about these five signs. Ask yourself the questions. Talk them over with someone you love. If you already know that the answer is “yes, it’s time to quit,” then it’s time to start planning the “I quit” date.

Be smart, think it through, and once the decision is made, congratulate yourself for not settling on the status quo. Quitting a job often requires that you step outside your comfort zone – not always an easy thing to do. But once you’ve done it, new and exciting opportunities await. Good luck.

5 Credit Card Essentials

Lots of articles steer you to the best credit card by categories – one if you want airline miles, another if you need to transfer a balance and a third if you are looking for the lowest interest rates.  This is not one of those articles.  The millionaire mindset does not want airline miles and doesn’t carry a balance.  And the sooner you start thinking like a millionaire, the sooner you will become one.

Principle number 1: The credit card company’s job is to make as much money as possible, and your job is to keep as much money as possible .  They are very good at their job.

Principle number 2: The defaults should all be in your favor.  Avoid any credit card that requires you to work against them.  They will win, and you will forget to do some important piece of work.

Putting these principles into practice, here are the five key features to look for in a credit card.

No annual fee.  No amount of rewards and bonuses can make up for an annual fee.  If you start $75 in the hole, you have to spend $7,500 and get 1% cash back just to break even.  No annual fee for the first year isn’t enough for whatever rewards are offered.

As much cash back as possible on everything you purchase.  Forget every other system of rewards.  With immediate cash back, you are definitely getting something valuable.  And you don’t have to decide to use the rewards; they are simply deposited in your account.  In the best of all scenarios, they are deposited into a savings or brokerage account.  An immediate 1% cash back on every purchase is the minimum you should settle for.  The best we have seen is if you can get 2% on everything.

Purchase protection, free extended warranty and return protection.  If you’ve had a store that has not given you a fair deal and then gave you a hard time, having made the purchase with a credit card can often help.  If the original U.S.  warranty is 5 years or less, some cards increase the warranty by up to a year.  And credit cards often allow you to return anything purchased in the United States within 90 days from the date you bought it regardless of a store’s policies.

In addition to these features, making purchases with a credit card can save you a tremendous hassle because a process is in place for disputes.

The dispute process is a powerful tool of leverage for the consumer, when you are in a back-and-forth with a merchant.  Merchants get knocked by their merchant providers for customers disputing them, so use it with caution — but it’s definitely a process which puts you in the driver’s seat.

Onetime-use credit card numbers.  This feature, called “ShopSafe” by Bank of America, allows you to create a unique temporary credit card number every time you make an online purchase.  This number acts exactly like your real credit card number except it has a lower limit and a quick expiration date.  For example, if you are purchasing a $35 item, you can create a temporary number with a $40 credit limit that expires in two months.

Merchants won’t know the difference, but if their lack of security compromises the number you use, the thieves will find themselves with $5 more credit on a card that may already be expired.

Easily downloadable information.  Entering every transaction into a budget by hand is a great way to create good spending habits.  But once those have become routine, it is still wise to know what you have spent without all that manual labor.  Many credit cards allow you to download a file and import it directly into QuickBooks or other budgeting software.  Purchases from your usual vendors are automatically coded into their proper budgeting categories.  Only new vendors need to be assigned a category.

Understanding IRS Collection Procedures

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is the single largest collections agency in the world.  According to the most recent statistics available, in 2013 the IRS spent $11.6 billion and employed just under 87,000 to collect more than $2.8 trillion in tax revenue.  Of those 87,000 personnel, over 19,000 are directly involved in enforced collections against taxpayers that owe back taxes.

While the IRS is one bill collector that can have a serious impact on your life, it’s important to understand just how they work.  So the first thing to realize is that the IRS is a slow moving bureaucracy.  It is highly driven by forms, written procedures and is resistant to change.  Their playbook is public record and they are required to follow it.  While this may not bode well for you resolving your tax matters expeditiously, it does give you some comfort in that you can figure out what is coming next.  Below we break the IRS collections process down into the 1040 notice sequence and the collections system.

1040 Notice Sequence
The IRS doesn’t start collections against you simply because you file a return with a balance due.  The process actually begins when they issue a letter called a Statutory Notice of Deficiency or SNOD.  This letter informs you of the IRS’ intent to assess a tax deficiency and informs you of your rights to dispute the proposed adjustment.  From here, the notice sequence progresses like this if you fail to respond at each stage:

  • Request For Payment
  • Form 668 – Notice of Federal Tax Lien Filing (for balances over $10,000)
  • CP501 – Reminder Notice
  • CP503 – Immediate Action Required
  • CP504 – Notice of Intent to Levy
  • Letter 1058 – Finial Notice of Intent to Levy

The CP503 typically comes about 4-5 weeks after the first notice.  The remaining notices will each come around 30 days after one another so it can take about 4 months from the initial letter until it culminates with a Letter 1058.  While the CP504 language sounds nasty, one may choose to ignore it.  However, there are two things to note about the Letter 1058:

  1. It is the first opportunity you have to file an appeal
  2. Thirty days after the letter, the IRS can levy you.

Does this mean that the IRS will levy you?  Not necessarily; especially if they don’t know where your assets are.  However, it would be wise to pick up the phone at this point and call the IRS as well as file Form 12153, Request for Collection Due Process Hearing (i.e. appeal).

Collections System
Now you may ask why understanding the “system” is even important to this discussion.  Well, it’s because some of the notices you get aren’t being generated by humans.  They are done on an automated schedule.  Thus, until your case winds up with a dedicated “human” at some point (i.e. a Revenue Officer) it can be hard/frustrating trying to get the notices to stop.  Thus, collections enter into the following levels of the system at varying stages:

  1. Collection efforts on each account begin with computer notices from a Regional Compliance Center.
  2.  If the efforts of the Compliance Center  don’t yield payment, the account is then assigned to the Automated Collection System (ACS). ACS attempts to collect the tax liability by initiating telephone calls to the taxpayer and others. Unless your case has special circumstances, you will usually stay assigned to ACS even if you accumulate 2-3 years worth of tax debt as an individual or 3-4 quarters of payroll liability as a business.  But once you reach these levels or you simply fail to respond…
  3.  The account is eventually assigned to a Revenue Officer for a field investigation.

When you are assigned to a Revenue Officer, the course of your tax case can take a sudden shift. Having an experienced, trained human being looking at your tax case, and passing judgment on you based on what’s in a file and thereby determining how they are going to handle your tax case, means a lot.  Unfortunately, due to current economic times, the waiting line for assignment to an RO is many areas of the country is growing longer and longer.

Similar to above, having a trained representative on your side working the case with the IRS can mean a world of difference.  If you are interested in assistance or just want to discuss your situation, we’d be happy to speak with you.  Simply shoot us an email or give us a call.

Until next time…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Being a parent is a hard job in general, but being a mother, that is the ultimate.  I was fortunate to have (and still do) two very loving parents in my life.  I also have very vivid and fond memories of my mother and all that she did for me throughout my childhood and adolescent years.

Like the times she fixed up my scrapes and cuts from my attempts at doing something insane.  Like the weekend nights she would play Anita Baker and Luther Vandross full blast on the stereo.  Like taking my sister and I to swimming class so we could eventually swim with the big kids in Lake Michigan.  The list is literally endless.

Yet if I was honest with myself, I know that I in no way thanked her even an inkling of what I should have for all that she did.  I’ll probably spend the rest of my life attempting to show her that she meant the world to me.  But in the meantime, I just want to say thank you Mrs. Tonia Rogers for being the bestest mom that ever was!

In 2009, the other Mrs. Rogers (aka Aaronita) joined the motherhood club with the birth of our daughter Pilar.

The reason Mrs. Rogers celebrates Mother's Day!

The reason Mrs. Rogers celebrates Mother’s Day!

There is little that I can do for Aaronita that will indicate the gratitude I have for what she does for Pilar.  Yeah, breakfast in bed is a nice gesture, so is a fancy piece of jewelry.  But in reality, those things pale in comparison to all the drop offs to school, pick ups each night during my tax season, the ballet classes, the story reading, family trips, etc.

Family fun in the California Sun!

Family fun in the California Sun!

But similar to the senior Mrs. Rogers, I will start by saying thank you babe for being an awesome mommy!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there – regardless if you have biological children, adopted children, foster children or people whom you simply provide for!