No more books!

I have a bad habit of buying books. Often I don’t read the book from cover to cover (though at the time of purchase my intention was otherwise).

So a New Year’s Resolution for 2013 – do not purchase any books (except using the 2 Amazon gift cards I received).

For 2013 I pledge to read the books I own. If a new book interests me, I will borrow from the library.

To give you a flavor, I have attached a photo of most of the gardening books I own. As you can see, I have more than enough!

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Why one should not store food in the basement

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What a waste (and yes, I forgot I purchased this flour).

Take a peek

Yes, 2012 is rapidly coming to an end. Are you thinking about your financial resolutions for 2013 (save more, spend less, contribute more toward retirement, set aside money for my child’s/children’s college fund, etc.)?

Before plunging ahead with the new, take time to reflect on the resolutions for 2012. I know, you don’t want to. Be brave.  Take a peek.

Okay, so it wasn’t that bad after all. Did you fulfill all of your resolutions, or some or none? Regardless of your level of success, you get an A for taking the time to identify your 2012 resolutions. Maybe you need to aim a little lower in 2013 or set more challenging goals.

Remember, it is better to aim & miss than never aim at all.

And for 2013, place those New Year’s Financial Resolutions in a highly visible spot, like the refrigerator!

Football season ticket holder based on race?

Do you know a football fan who is a season ticket holder based on race? Huh? Stupid question, right?  And so was Rob Parker ‘s comments about The Washington Redskins’ quarterback RGIII.

I decline to repeat the ridiculous comments made by Parker. But if Parker is right, wouldn’t his viewpoints be reflected in ticket sales?

Of course I haven’t surveyed the 32 NFL teams but I am almost certain there is no correlation between the race of the quarterback (or if that quarterback has tons of tatoos covering his body) and ticket sales.

But guess what significantly impacts ticket sales? Performance!! If your football team stinks year after year, like the Redskins did prior to RGIII ‘s arrival,  fans don’t want to waste their hard earned dollars on losers (like The Washington Wizards;  but one can purchase a ticket to a home game for less than $2 on Stubhub). And in this economy, which is still treading along in the recession gear,  one may have other demands for limited dollars.

Let’s keep sports defined by performance and not race baiting topics. Rob Parker – if that’s how you operate,  please exit the sports arena and enter the political arena.

And the rest us will enjoy watching football or not based on our team’s performance.

Oops – year end tax donation

In a previous post I misspoke about the deadline for year end charitable donations. I stated the donation by check must be received by 31 December 2012 (though I acknowledged I could be wrong).

I was 😦

Your donation by check (presuming you mail it) must be postmarked by 31 December 2012.

I still stand by my earlier statement : to be on the safe side,  make that year in donation by credit card, debit card or PayPal.   🙂

2012 Financial New Year’s Resolutions achieved (in part)

My main two financial goals for 2012: save $5,000 and pay off $7,000 of my 2nd trust.

Well,  a teacher would give me half of a gold star.

Today I received my last paycheck for 2012. And with the principal payment I made this a.m., I paid off $10,000 of my 2nd trust. Yippee!!

On the other hand,  I saved $1,700, well short of my goal. But considering I had an unplanned medical procedure in May, am still receiving medical bills and have paid about $3,000 out of pocket,  I have an excuse for stumbling.

If you haven’t checked, look at your 2012 financial New Year’s Resolutions. How did you do?

End of the year charitable donations – don’t wait til the last minute

Yes, in a few days, it will be Christmas, and then a week later, Happy New Year.

In the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, don’t wait to the last-minute to make a charitable donations – particularly if you are writing a check.  I believe the rule for a check is the date it is cashed, not the date it is written, determines whether the charitable contribution is for the present year or the new year (but maybe I have it backwards).

To avoid this potential pitfall, make those end of the year donations by credit card, debit card or PayPal.  You want a receipt (e-mail confirmation) declaring the charity received the donation in 2012.

Now, I need to select the charities for my end of the year donation 🙂

With an Employer Identification Number (EIN), I wonder. . .

Should I be concerned about identity theft? I am a sole proprietor. I specifically obtained an EIN for my business (I also have an EIN for an LLC which I have not formally organized).

Could someone attempt to obtain a line of credit under my sole proprietorship? Should I freeze my credit ( if there is such) for my business? 

I need to pursue answers to these questions. Will follow up on this topic in a future post.

Taking a Stand

Americans are still reeling in response to the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,  Connecticut.  Many are asking what can be done to prevent this from happening again?

I don’t think arming the teachers and all law abiding citizens is the answer. The only ones who would benefit are gun manufacturers and funeral homes.

A couple a weeks ago I mentioned in a post an article by Steve Pearlman of The Washington Post who advocated not occupying Wall Street but defunding it.

You can take a stand by investing your hard earned dollars with socially responsible mutual funds that refuse to invest with certain companies as gun manufacturers.

If you have mutual funds that are not socially responsible,  determine if gun manufacturers are part of the portfolio (either by checking online or calling the mutual fund company).

I was pleased to read in today’s Wall Street Journal that “Pension giant California State Teachers’ Retirement System,  or Calstrs,  is reviewing a $500 million investment commitment to Cerberus Capitol Management LP because of the private -equity firm’s ownership of the maker of a weapon used in Friday’s fatal school shooting in Newtown,  Conn.”

Good. That’s a beginning.

You know the most important color in America? Of course,  it is green.  Money talks; money (or the lack thereof)  will foster change.

So take a stand. And remember, never again!

Should the Charitable Tax Deduction Be Axed?

In today’s Wall Street Journal, a proponent for and a proponent against axing the charitable tax deduction explain their positions.  For axing the charitable deduction is Daniel J. Mitchell.  Some of his key points are

* Charitable tax deduction doesn’t boost charitable donations

* Despite changes in rules over the years, the charitable donations hover generally around 2%

* The tax deductions allows charitable organizations to devote too much of their budgets to administrative costs and marketing efforts.

* The tax deduction is given to people who need it the least.  “Upper-income households are the biggest beneficiaries of the deduction, with those making more than $100,000 per year taking 81% of the deduction even though they account for just 13.5% of all U.S. tax returns.”

* Ditching the deduction is a better option for raising revenue versus other proposals.

Diana Aviv argues this tax deduction should be retained.

* Surveys have shown that if the deduction is reduced or eliminated, donations would drop, even among the wealthy.

* “More than 22% of online charitable donations are made on Dec. 30 and 31 each year, underscoring the extent to which tax considerations influence behavior.”

* Charities are very efficient, operating on a lean budget.  In fact a survey revealed 56% of charitable organizations operate in a deficit or at break-even.

* “The charitable deduction is unique in that it’s a government incentive to sacrifice on behalf of the commonweal.  Unlike incentives to save for retirement or buy a home, it encourages behavior for which a taxpayer gets no direct, personal, tangible benefit.”

For those who have read my posts, you know I have complained – repeatedly – about the unsolicited gifts (marketing expenses) of some charities.  But, on the other hand, as a single individual living in the District of Columbia ($$$$), I need every deduction I can claim.  And do I give as much as I do because of the deduction?  Absolutely.  Would I give less without the deduction?  Probably.

One final interesting fact from accompanying diagrams entitled “United States of Charity Deductions.”   41% of Maryland residents claim the charitable tax deduction, the highest percentage of filers taking charitable deduction.

And what state has the lowest percentage of filers taking charitable deduction?  West Virginia.

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