Technology can be a great equalizer when it comes to allowing small businesses to compete with the large corporations. Cloud based products like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G-Suite offer complex technology infrastructure that delivers high level productivity without requiring an expensive IT department and support. More and more businesses are “going to the cloud” with their data and applications, making them more mobile and platform-independent.
This can lead to greater vulnerability, though, as we hear all the time on the news about companies like Target and Equifax being breached. Even if you keep your data on local servers and don’t go to the cloud at all, you can be at risk. Being hacked could, quite literally, put you out of business and ruin your financial freedom.
That is why in this episode of the podcast, I talk again with Dave Strout of Cettei & Connell here in Woodbury about what your current business liability coverage does, and does not, cover when it comes to cybersecurity, along with the type of policy you will need to cover you properly if disaster should strike.
Those that serve our country in the military make extraordinary sacrifices in their lives and those of their families. Many come home with physical injuries and disabilities. Others come home whole physically, but bear scars that no one can see. These scars can make it often as difficult to adapt to civilian life as the loss of a limb.
That is why New Jersey’s Veteran’s Diversionary program is so important, as it helps veterans and servicemembers suffering from mental illness to avoid the sanctions and consequences of the nonviolent crimes they commit as a result of this disability. So in this episode of the podcast, I talk about how this program gets veterans the help and counseling they need, not jail time and fines.
The biggest asset most people have is their home, so if they decide to sell it, they want to make sure that they get the most they can in price. This can be particularly important if they still owe a lot on the mortgage or mortgages. But the real estate market isn’t what it was prior to 2008, and probably won’t be again any time soon. So, if you want to make the most from your home sale, you need to be smart and strategic about it.
That is why, in this episode of the podcast, I talk to real estate broker Lynn Stambaugh, the owner of Cardinal Real Estate Services here in Woodbury, about some do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling your home. If you are planning to put your home on the market, or are looking to do so in the next few years, these are some things that you should definitely bear in mind!
Student loans continue to be in crisis in this country, with debt over $1 trillion nationally. Naturally, people with these loans are looking for a solution to their problem. Unfortunately, many of them are automatically eliminating one of them based on a common misunderstanding, and that is: Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
Therefore, in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to dispel this misunderstanding and show how student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy. It is not easy to do, and it definitely is not inexpensive, but it is worth looking into if you have a crushing balance of student loan debt.
Traffic violations in New Jersey can have a serious effect on your financial freedom, depending on the seriousness. Not only can the fines and surcharges be significant, but they can also lead to jail time! This is also true of minor criminal charges, like disorderly person’s offenses, that can be brought in this court.
That is why I discussed this topic on this month’s episode of Lunch with a Lawyer, which covered not only ways to avoid a jail sentence, but alternatives to serving that time in a cell. Since this is such an important topic, I wanted to share this information on the podcast as well.
In the previous episode of the podcast, I talked about getting ready for 2018 by formulating a budget and goals for the coming year. This is critical to financial freedom and should be done every year, preferably in December. But for most of you, creating a budget and goals is a new thing, and like any skill, it takes time to develop.
So, in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to talk about what you should expect in the first three months of 2018 as far as this process is concerned. By knowing what is ahead, you will be better prepared for it and be less likely to give up before you build up the momentum you need.
I have discussed in previous episodes of the podcast about the importance of having a short term and long-term financial strategy. The former is accomplished by a budget and the discipline to keep track of expenses and keep within the limits of that budget. In fact, in Episode 13 I reviewed the online budgeting tool EveryDollar to maintain that strategy.
But the long-term strategy is having savings and a retirement plan, so that you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your efforts now are paying off and that your financial freedom will last for a lifetime. To help you do that, in this episode of the podcast I review Wela, an online tool that gives you the ability to gain an overall view of your entire financial situation from one free application: investments, cash, credit card debt, student loans, and real estate.
In most instances, pleading guilty or being found guilty of a disorderly, or petty disorderly, person’s offense (New Jersey’s equivalent of a misdemeanor) is bad enough, with the fines, costs, and sometimes jail time. But there are some things that can happen outside the judge’s sentence for the offense.
Sometimes you can lose your job! This is called employment forfeiture, and it can have a devastating effect on your financial freedom. So in this episode of the podcast I talk about this forfeiture, how it works, when it could apply to you, and what effect it can have.
Achieving and maintaining financial freedom involves making the right decisions about your finances. It’s about choosing the right mortgage with the lowest interest rate, deciding with each purchase whether you want or need that item or service, and picking the right insurance company and policy options and coverage.
One important decision is where to do your everyday banking. Where do you keep your money? What institution has the best services, lowest fees, convenient branches, and the like. But it is also important to decide whether to go with a traditional bank or a credit union. So in this episode of the podcast I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a credit union, and who should bank with one.
A lot of people do that one stupid thing in their lives that they’re not proud of. It’s that youthful indiscretion, that one brush with the law encountered by that otherwise law abiding citizen. Sometimes it’s that joint in your pocket or your car; sometimes it’s an impulsive grab for goods in a store that leads to shoplifting charges.
Fortunately, courts in New Jersey recognize this and give you a one-time "out" for these charges, called a "diversion." Two of them, Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal, are used for minor charges in traffic court, while another, Pretrial Intervention, is used for more serious charges in county court.
In this episode of the podcast, I will discuss diversion for minor charges, as a criminal record can cause real problems for your financial freedom, often leading to the inability to get a job or a higher paying one!
A person’s credit score is becoming more and more important, as it is used for more and more things. Now, it is not only key to getting a mortgage or a car loan, but to renting an apartment or getting insurance! There are lots of web sites out there that talk about credit and tell you what you have to do to build (or rebuild) a credit score.
Doing it, however, can be a daunting task, and people don’t always know where to turn for help. In Episode 27, I talked to Alex Frees of Credit Repair Publishing on tips for how to build or repair your credit for a better financial future. He is back in this episode to talk about how his company can help you through the process.
In New Jersey, when it comes to traffic tickets, the fines and other costs or consequences that you might incur are often not the end of the story. There are the points on your driving record as well. Although unlike other states, New Jersey doesn’t assess points for every moving violation, those that do can add up. Once they do, they can cause a major disruption in your life and threaten your financial freedom.
So in this episode of the podcast, I am going to talk about the specific ways that points can be disruptive, as well as the steps you can take to have them removed. Being proactive with your driving record can lessen the chance of problems (although driving safely and within the rules of the road to avoid tickets in the first place is even better!)
A key part of achieving and maintaining financial freedom is having the right insurance coverage. A loss that would otherwise have been covered by a policy can be devastating to your finances! In order to be sure that you have the right coverage at the right price, it is critical to have an agent on your side.
That is why, in this episode, I talk to Dave Strout of Cettei & Connell here in Woodbury about the many reasons why having an independent insurance agent is so important.
In episodes 34 & 35 of the podcast I talked about forming the right mindset to achieving financial freedom, and then how you can implement that mindset today to get you to your goal. In this episode I am going to talk about tips that are more strategic and preventative, allowing you to play some defense against potential problems in the future and take a longer view of your financial future and freedom.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to get into trouble (and go to jail) in your bankruptcy is to lie on your petition. Whenever you file for bankruptcy you sign a document, under oath, that you have fully disclosed everything you own, everyone you owe, everything you earn, and everything you spend.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows this rule and tries to get away with hiding something, whether it is an asset they own or a stream of income. With the Abby Lee Miller case in the news again, I thought I would talk in this episode of the podcast about how the star of the reality TV show “Dance Moms,” is going to jail because she decided to hide a large portion of her income from her trustee and the bankruptcy court.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so in this episode I talk about how this practice has become more of a threat to safety on our roadways than drunk driving, and how you can avoid being a part of the statistics. In 2002, distracted driving resulted in approximately 2,600 deaths, but that number increased by 22% in 2011 to 3,331 fatalities.
Texting while driving is a leading cause of distracted driving, and the NHTSA reports that texting while driving is currently responsible for approximately 1.6 million accidents every year – about 25% of all driving accidents.
So how can you keep from being a statistic? Well, I put together a dozen tips on what you can do to avoid driving distractedly. They won’t protect you from someone else who is texting and driving, but it will make you safer!
The educational system in this country is great and can teach you many things. However, one of the topics most schools leave out is how to be an adult. How do you live life, pay bills, handle credit, cook a meal, fix your car, or file a tax return? Kids often learn these lessons the hard way upon graduation, which can often lead to financial difficulties. The earlier we learn these lessons and start implementing them, the better.
Luckily, someone has come up with a solution. Two women in Maine, Rachel Weinstein, a psychotherapist, and Katie Brunelle, a wellness coach, have started what they call The Adulting School, to address the simple subject of how to be an adult. So in this episode I wanted to talk about this project and how it can help or youth.
Many Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, often without a budget. Even those with savings can’t withstand long periods of time without any income. Therefore, job loss or a disability can be a major threat to someone’s financial freedom.
The good news is that, if you were disabled due to a job related injury, New Jersey law provides you with benefits that can ease the economic strain of being out of work. To discuss the details of this law, I interview worker’s compensation attorney Sam Gaylord about what you can do to protect this freedom if you get injured on the job.
These days, so many things in life are tied to your credit score. If you want to buy a house or a car, get a credit card, or even insurance, that three digit number becomes critical. But what do you do if you are just establishing a credit history, or are rebuilding your credit after a bankruptcy or foreclosure?
So in this episode I spoke with credit counselor Alex Frees to get answers to those questions and tips on how to build or repair your credit for a better financial future.
With a new President in office, many student loan borrowers are hoping for a change for the better. There has been quite a bit of discussion in the past years about the national “student loan bubble” and what to do about it, and people are looking to Donald Trump to take action.
He has made some statements in the campaign last Fall, but has not taken any action on it so far in his first 100 days. But I thought it would be interesting to discuss in this episode what he has said to give an idea of what he might do in the future if and when he takes action.
One reason people here in New Jersey are contemplating bankruptcy, in addition to credit card and medical debt, is a big tax bill that they cannot pay. People often ask me whether taxes are dischargeable (and many people think that they are not). The answer I usually give is, it depends.
Whether taxes get discharged depends on two things: What kind of tax it is (income, real estate, sales, or tax withholdings from employees), and whether it passes the bankruptcy code’s three part discharge test. To get a good answer to this question I asked local tax accountant Ira Krassan to join me to go over these points and give you a good idea of whether bankruptcy can get rid of part, or all, of your tax debt and get you the fresh start that you need.
I have often provided links in my semi-monthly e-newsletter to articles on EveryDollar.com that talk about ways to budget, save money, and plan for the future. The information they provide is great for anyone trying to save money to pay down debt or just find extra cash for a special purpose or to save for retirement.
They recently posted an article on their blog about how your smartphone can help you do this, not just with their budgeting app, which I reviewed in a previous episode, but also with many other apps that find you deals. After reading it, I thought it would be a great idea to bring this information to you in the podcast.
Many Americans do not have a will, even though they may be married or even have children. It is on their “To Do” list, but never seems to get done, most times because they either do not know where to start or do not want to think about their own deaths. But it is one of the key things that you should do as part of your financial plan.
I can’t help you get over your not wanting to plan for your own death, but I can give you some tips on how to get started. So in this episode I am going to go over the decisions most people need to make and the information they need to gather to start the process, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a lawyer.
Not everybody with debt has to file bankruptcy. Many times it can be paid over time with a bit of belt-tightening and self-discipline. This is a great way to get out of debt and improve your credit scores.
So in this episode, I am going to talk about how it can be done and lay out the steps that you need to take to accomplish it. It may not be possible for you, and you may end up in bankruptcy, but at least you’ll know that you tried everything else you could first.
Student loan debt continues to be a problem nationally, as the total owed exceeds $1 trillion. Although private loans are also a problem, the good news is that they make up only 15% of the total debt, and federal loans still dominate the landscape. The amount of debt per student (and in many cases the parents) has led to real problems with affordability of the monthly payments and defaulted loans.
These people have either given up, and let the loans default, thus facing wage garnishment and the loss of their federal tax refunds for the foreseeable future, or are hiding out in a deferment or forbearance, hoping that their financial future will somehow get better and allow them to make the payments. Still others file chapter 13 bankruptcies to prevent the entry of default by forcing the loans into a forbearance while making a small monthly payment for three to five years.
None of these are the optimal solution, especially as there are many offered by the U.S. Department of Education that allow you to get out of default (if you are) and get into a monthly payment that is affordable at your income level. So in this episode of the podcast I talk about what those solutions are and how they can help.