Business Today

Business Today

Brought to you by: Community Partner Accounting for Profits, www.accprofits.com

Balance Sheets Leave Off the Most Valuable Assets…

It is amazing what you can learn just by being interested and in the moment. Over time, it seems as if you pick up a wealth of insights you wish you could have had when you started on this adventure called life.  But, as they say, you must live and learn. As a young professional business woman stepping into the world of middle management, a one-day seminar caught my eye on How to Get Along with Difficult People. That just about summed it up…Everyone was Difficult…except yours truly, so I was off to see the Wizard and learn how to help others get along. I was in for a rude awaking.  

I was quickly introduced to my difficult behavior, as we came to learn in the seminar that all people are wrapped up Differently by the Great Designer. This is what makes us all Difficult, as we see life through differing lens, varied experiences, and with our very own God given different personalities. As people see life differently than we do, they are not bad or uncompromising, but just bent by God into a unique way to understand, relate and see this world. We should always Celebrate the Differences as it takes all of us rowing in the same direction to reach our destination in the timeliest and energy efficient manner.    

With this newfound knowledge, reading about people became a fascination. With such a thirst for learning, there was no reason to let all the reading go to waste, so it quickly turned into a Masters in Christian Counseling. Team building, coaching, mentoring, negotiating, conflict resolutions, tough conversations, somehow began to materialize as God opened my eyes to the fact that PEOPLE are the REAL ASSETS that belong on a company’s Balance Sheet.  

Accounting for Profits exists to help small to mid-sized firms reach their potential in Profits and Excellence, creating a culture of diversified, yet unified, individuals, all working toward the same goals, while Honoring God in seeking His Promised Abundance.

-Joanie Gable 

Currently working on a Doctorate in Business Entrepreneurship

Founder, Accounting for Profits, Inc.

205-369-7128

www.accprofits.com

jgable@accprofits.com

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Pay Yourself First

Pay Yourself First

Money Matters

presented by: Vision Financial

Each month you settle down to pay bills. You pay your mortgage lender. You pay the electric company. You pay the trash collector. But do you pay yourself? One of the most basic tenets of sound investing involves the simple habit of “paying yourself first,” in other words, making the first payment of each month into your savings account.

Americans’ saving patterns vary widely. Too often, short-term economic trends can interrupt long-term savings programs. For example, the U.S. Personal Savings Rate jumped from 3.5% to nearly 8% in May 2008 during the housing and banking crisis. It then rose and fell sporadically as the economic environment appeared to stabilize.1

The Genius of Pay Yourself First. Anyone who’s ever managed their own finances knows that saving can be a challenge. There seems to be an endless stream of expenses that demand a piece of each month’s paycheck. Herein lies the genius of paying yourself first: you get the cream at the top of the bucket, and not the leftovers at the bottom.

The trick is to prioritize. Make it a point to put your future first. At first, saving may mean a small lifestyle change. But most individuals want to see their net worth increase steadily. For them, finding ways to save becomes more of a long-term commitment than a short-term challenge.

Putting Your Money to Work. What will you do with the money you save? If retirement is your priority, consider taking advantage of tax-advantaged investments. Employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s, can be a great way to save because the money comes out of your paycheck before you even see it. Also, as an added incentive, some employers offer to match a percentage of your contributions.2

For money you may want to access before retirement, consider placing the funds in a separate account. When the balance hits your target, you may want to move the money into investments that offer the potential for higher returns. Of course, this may mean exposing your money to more volatility, so you’ll want to choose vehicles that fit your risk tolerance, time horizon, and long-term goals.

In the pursuit of growing wealth, sound habits can be your most valuable asset. Develop the habit of “paying yourself first” today. The sooner you begin, the more potential your savings may have to grow.

-S. Joey Elmore

Vision Financial Group, Inc.

4505 Pine Tree Circle, Birmingham, 35243

205-970-4909, www.vision-financialgroup.com

 

 

  1. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017
  2. Distributions from 401(k), 403(b) and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

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Turning Chaos into Calm

Turning Chaos into Calm

Special Feature

Brought to you by: Community Partner Accounting for Profits

Turning Chaos into Calm: A CFO for Hire Helps Growing & Struggling Businesses

Is your small or mid- size business having trouble? Do you lay away at night wondering if you will receive enough money tomorrow to make payroll? Is there something not quite right and you just can cannot determine where the bottleneck begins?

One Saturday evening I was working at my desk and an email suddenly popped up. A business owner was writing that he felt he was going to lose his business if something did not happen soon. He had found my website on-line concerning “Financial Turnarounds” and truly sounded desperate. We chatted via email a few times. I learned he was critically short of cash and more than 300 miles from my office.  I checked my schedule and saw an opening. I suggested he “relax” and I would visit with him on Wednesday for a consultation.

Arriving early on Wednesday, the owner provided me with their records for the nine years they had owned the business and I set to work. Within an hour, I could see the problems and we met to discuss. He had no idea he had never made money, no idea his profit margins were too low, etc. We talked about his current budget. We discussed a number of changes he might consider making. One major change we discussed and he immediately made led his business to a profitable year. After that first free consultation, I offered to take him and his wife to lunch that day but he needed to get back to work. He suggested his wife and I go alone. She opened up that the business was affecting their family life and marriage. She and I prayed together and I drove back to Birmingham. That was nine years ago and they are still one of my favorite clients! Since then, profits continue each year, they have diversified into different markets, purchased a building and begun two new businesses. They will tell you their part-time CFO is just part of the “family.”


-Joanie Gable

Founder, Accounting for Profits, Inc.

205-369-7128

www.accprofits.com

jgable@accprofits.com

205-369-7128

Member www.convenenow.com

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5 Cyber Security Safeguards Every Business Should Have

5 Cyber Security Safeguards Every Business Should Have

Business Today

Brought to you by: Community Partner Sawyer Solutions, www.sawyersolutionsllc.com

Every week you hear or read about a new hack or victim of malware. While the news focuses on large businesses, smaller companies are at just as much risk. Here are some simple things you can do to help prevent a hack to your business.

  1. Strong, Unique, Passwords. Every device should have a strong password and all your passwords should be unique. Do not reuse passwords across multiple websites. Consider using a password management tool to help create and store these unique passwords.
  2. Run Anti-virus (AV) Program. Every computer should be running one (and only one) good quality AV program. This will help prevent your computer from getting a virus and being used for illegal activities.
  3. Regularly Install Patches. Patches are used to help keep your computer up-to-date, running smoothly and securely. Make sure the update/patch is from the maker of the software you use.
  4. Use Encryption. It will help keep your data safe even if you lose a computer or thumb drive. A password to get into your system is not enough to keep people out. You need to encrypt your data as well.
  5. Consider a Firewall. Firewalls are one of your main lines of defense for keeping out bad guys. Advanced firewalls can do things like scan for viruses on your internet traffic or even detect attempts to break in and take action. Consider investing in one of these devices.

Sawyer Solutions is a technology service company that takes cyber-security seriously. We believe in talking to our clients to determine their individual needs and goals and coming up with solutions to meet those. Visit our website at SawyerSolutionsllc.com or call us at 844.4IT.PROS (844.448.7767) to schedule a free consultation.

 


-Brought to you by: Community Partner, Sawyer Solutions

We do I.T. so you don’t have to!

Complete I.T. consulting, security and managed services that are tailored to help your business excel.

www.sawyersolutionsllc.com

844-448-7767

Member www.Convenenow.com

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6 Red Flags for Tax Auditors

6 Red Flags for Tax Auditors

Money Matters

presented by: Vision Financial

No one wants to see an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) auditor show up at his or her door. The IRS can’t audit every American’s tax return, so it relies on guidelines to select the ones most deserving of its attention. Here are six flags that may make your tax return prime for an IRS audit.¹

  1. The Chance of an Audit Rises with Income. According to the IRS, less than 1% of all individual taxpayer returns are audited. However, the percent of audits rises to nearly 4% for those with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million, and is over 8% for those making between $1 million and $5 million.²
  2. Deviations from the Mean. The IRS has a scoring system it calls the Discriminant Information Function that is based on the deduction, credit, and exemption norms for taxpayers in each of the income brackets. The IRS does not disclose its formula for identifying aberrations that trigger an audit, but it helps if your return is within the range of others with similar income.
  3. When a Business is Really a Hobby. Taxpayers who repeatedly report business losses increase their audit risk. In order for the IRS not to consider your business as a hobby, it needs to have earned a profit in three of the last five years.
  4. Non-Reporting of Income. The IRS receives income information from employers and financial institutions. Individuals who overlook reported income are easily identified and may provoke greater scrutiny.
  5. Discrepancies Between Exes. When divorced spouses prepare individual tax returns, the IRS compares the separate submissions to identify instances where alimony payments may be deducted on one return, while alimony income goes unreported on the contra party’s return. Another common tripwire is when both former spouses claim the same dependents.
  6. Claiming Rental Losses. Passive loss rules prevent deductions of losses on rental real estate, except in the event when an individual is actively participating in the property’s management (deduction is limited and phased out), or with real estate professionals who devote greater than 50% of their working hours to this activity. This is a deduction to which the IRS pays keen attention.

Heath Morris, CFP® 

Vision Financial Group

4505 Pine Tree Circle, Birmingham, AL 35243

205-970-4909, www.vision-financialgroup.com

 

 

  1. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
  2. IRS, 2016

Copyright 2018 FMG Suite

Investment Advisory services offered through Investment Advisors, a division of ProEquities, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through ProEquities, Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA & SIPC.  Vision Financial Group, Inc. and West Alabama Bank are independent of ProEquities, Inc. Securities and insurance products offered are not bank deposits, have no bank guarantee, are not FDIC insured, and may lose value.

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Estate Planning & the New Tax Law

Estate Planning & the New Tax Law

Legal Matters

Most of the media focus regarding the new tax law Congress passed has been on how the law will change income taxes. The law also made changes to estate and gift tax rules. As with most things, there are pros and cons to the new law.

The general reader may laugh and think estate planning is irrelevant once they understand that, under the new law, a person’s estate must be over $11.18 million before their estate will pay estate taxes. For many people, the new exemption does eliminate the risk of estate taxes. Likewise, it may eliminate the risk of gift taxes because a person can use the $11.18 million exemption for lifetime gifts or estate distributions. However, this exemption is scheduled to end December 31, 2025, which may create gift and estate tax issues for people that are exempt between now and then. People need to consider the current worth, the estimated value of their estates in 2025, and whether they may have an estate tax problem in 2025 if the estate tax limits are lowered. People also should be aware that a change in the controlling political party may mean another change in the tax laws.

People with older estate plans will want to review those plans with an attorney to make sure the language works with current law. In some cases, it may even be possible to simplify the estate plan and eliminate some of the estate tax provisions that were used in the past when the estate tax exemption was much lower. People with estate plans from the time period when the estate tax exemption was $600,000 or $1 million are especially needful of plan revisions.

The new tax law does not change the strict prohibitions against gifting of Social Security and Medicaid. People trying to plan for long term care and protect assets are not free to make gifts as they please. The rules against gifting still apply and these people will continue to need legal help to establish their estate plan if their goal is asset protection. Also, the new tax law does not change the need for people to make sure their estate is distributed correctly to the people or charities they desire and does not lessen the need for durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and health care directives.

It is important to review your estate plan and make certain it is up to date and able to accomplish all your goals.

Melanie Bradford Holliman 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124

205-663-0281, www.bradfordholliman.com

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

Mission Makers

A Celebration of Generosity: National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

The recent 10 Year Celebration of NCF Alabama included a comedic message from Dr. Dennis W. Swanberg, “America’s Minister of Encouragement.”

After retiring from the food brokerage business in 2008, Birmingham’s Tom Bradford felt God calling him to use his gifts to establish The National Christian Foundation (NCF) Alabama, an affiliate of NCF, the largest Christian Foundation in the country.  He was later joined by his son Jim Bradford and they have been serving givers for 10 years now. “I thought my purpose was to raise money for the Kingdom, but I discovered my main purpose should be to change people’s lives, “said Tom Bradford as he addressed supporters at a recent NCF Alabama 10th Anniversary celebration. “One main portal of changing lives is giving- establishing a network to encourage each other to be generous givers.”

Over the last ten years, NCF Alabama has inspired giving that has exceeded $155 million in charitable grants to more than 2900 civic, educational and religious organizations. With the mission of “mobilizing resources by inspiring biblical generosity,” NCF Alabama has gone from serving 12 families in 2008 to serving more than 600 Alabama families with donor advised funds for their charitable giving. “Our goal is to simplify your giving [by use of the internet], to multiply your impact [by smarter use of the tax codes], to glorify God [by releasing more resources into the Kingdom],” explains Bradford. “It is a great way to manage and keep track of your charitable giving. There is no minimum amount to open a fund and no minimum amount to keep in the fund.” A couple of other unique aspects to an NCF Donor Advised Fund compared to other donor advised funds is that NCF monitors all grants that go out to be sure they meet Christian standards and all fees associated with your fund go to a Christian ministry, NCF.

Tom Bradford, Chairman of the Board and President of NCF Alabama and his son Jim Bradford, V.P. of NCF Alabama, address the crowd at the 10th Anniversary Celebration, www.ncfgiving.com/alabama.

“Wherever you are in your journey of generosity, just get in the game!” says Jim Bradford referencing his favorite verse from 2 Corinthians 9:7, “…God loves a cheerful giver.” He adds, ““At NCF we seek to help our donors walk closer to the Lord and be cheerful givers, that’s WHY we do what we do.” To find out how a donor advised fund could make sense for you and your family, visit www.ncfgiving.com/Alabama or call Jim Bradford at 205-563-2388.

  • Laurie Stroud

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Creating a Sustainable Business:  Finders, Minders & Grinders

Creating a Sustainable Business: Finders, Minders & Grinders

Special Feature

Brought to you by: Community Partner Accounting for Profits

There is so much chatter out there about how to hire and retain workers, you could drown in good advice. But one thing is for certain:  team building is harder than it looks, and harder than people want to admit. Most entrepreneurs think that starting the business will be the hard part.  Recruiting a harmonious, high functioning, efficient team is essential to every business of any size. When building such a team, you will need to strike the right balance between Minders, Finders and Grinders.

FINDERS are the ones at the top of the pyramid who find the business. They are the owners, the CEO and the success of the business depends on them. They Must keep their eye on the prize.  They hunt for a living, spending their time on business development, customer relations and finding work that others will deliver on.

MINDERS keep their eyes on the processes and harmony, making sure the ship is on course, moving in the right direction and at the right speed. They keep life in order, projects on time, cash flow and profit margins controlled and functioning at maximum capacity. They are highly skilled, can lead and manage others and keep all the plates spinning with incredible ease. They know the Finders goals and objectives and move toward them, or change course, efficiently.

GRINDERS are the worker bees that produce, deliver, research, count, add, subtract and hustle to make things happen. They work like crazy to get it all done. They are the executional area of the organization.

In the beginning, start-up Finders may serve in all three roles. But as a business grows, and in order for it to be sustainable, and someday sellable, the Minding and Grinding duties must be delegated to the right people, striking the right balance for the entire team. There is no perfect formula or timetable, but this should occur long before the Finder is “working like crazy,” having sleepless nights and trying to “spin” it all.

Accounting for Profits, Inc. was founded in 1990 to provide the Minding and Grinding duties to small and mid-size firms with the same skills that only the very large firms can afford.  A part-time Chief Financial Officer can provide any and all Minding functions, including supervising existing staff or providing financial Grinders.  To learn more about how Accounting for Profits can help your business, visit www.accprofits.com or call 205-369-7128.

-Joanie Gable 

Founder, Accounting for Profits, Inc.

jgable@accprofits.com

Member www.convenenow.com 

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How Tax Law Changes May Affect You

How Tax Law Changes May Affect You

Money Matters

presented by: Vision Financial

Much has been made about the changes in the tax law passed by Congress at the end of 2017. The details and how they affect each taxpayer are frankly, dizzying. We will focus on three areas that perhaps you may not have seen a lot of detail: the pleasant change to the rules of the 529 college savings accounts, the $10,000 limit on state and local taxes and the not so pleasant change in the deductible amounts for mortgage interest.

Education Savings Accounts. Previously, we referred to 529 accounts as “College Savings Accounts.” Now we may have to refer to them as simply “Education Savings Accounts.” The new law provides tax-deductible contributions to these accounts and they can now be utilized for private school tuition for primary and secondary education (K-12) costs up to $10,000/yr. per child. In Alabama contributions are deductible up to $5,000 for a single tax payer and $10,000 for a married couple. Contributions of up to $15,000 per year are within gift tax limitations. There is a way to “super fund” a 529 account of up to $75,000 in one year but there are important details we don’t have room to detail here. In Alabama, an individual beneficiary of a 529 account may have up to $400,000 in their account for tax advantage payment of education expenses.

Limit on State, Local Taxes. Probably the most talked about provision of the new law is the limitation of deductibility of only $10,000 of state and local taxes from one’s taxable income. Under the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), taxpayers have the opportunity to receive a tax credit for up to half of their state tax liability (capped at $50,000). This is accomplished by gifting money to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) which then distributes the funds to non-public schools throughout the state.

The benefit for applying for a credit under the AAA program is that on your Federal return, the amount paid for AAA is a charitable deduction instead of a state tax deduction. Unlike the state tax deduction, charitable deductions generally are not limited and are fully deductible. Additionally, since any amount you contribute reduces your state tax liability, you may consider reducing your planned state withholding or estimated tax payments by the same amount. Obviously, this is a fairly complicated strategy and should only be considered in conjunction with advice from your tax accountant.

Mortgage Deductibility. The new law lowers the mortgage deductibility limit from a $1.0 million-dollar loan amount down to $750,000. In our market, for most of us, this is not quite a big deal. The bigger situation is that in 2018, interest for a non-purchase money equity line of credit will not be deductible as it has been. And second/vacation mortgage loans won’t be deductible at all. The good news is these provisions apply to new loans taken out after January 1, 2018.

The new law is quite complicated and is subject to changes and reinterpretations. So, it is very important to seek trusted counsel from your tax accountant and financial advisor before acting on any of these ideas.

Larry Anderson

Vision Financial Group

4505 Pine Tree Circle, Birmingham, AL 35243

205-970-4909, www.vision-financialgroup.com

 

Advisory services offered through Investment Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor and a division of ProEquities, Inc. Securities are offered through ProEquities, Inc., a Registered Broker Dealer and Member FINRA & SIPC. Vision Financial Group and West Alabama Bank are Independent of ProEquities, Inc. Securities and insurance products offered are not bank deposits, have no guarantee, are not FDIC insured and may lose value.

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