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.
In Episode #34, I talked about forming the right mindset for establishing financial freedom. You have to have the right approach and attitude first before trying to implement the steps necessary to reach your goal. So in this episode, I talk about what you can do now with that mindset to achieve financial freedom. In the next episode, I will talk about the bigger picture, and long term financial freedom.
Attaining and maintaining financial freedom is a matter of habit and mindset. Having the right outlook and attitude about your finances, and then reinforcing it through the establishment of certain habits.
That is why I am doing a series of podcasts, starting with this one, about getting into the right mindset, and then reinforcing the right habits. Adopting these as soon as you can will get you that much closer to financial freedom. In this episode, I will talk about the establishment of the proper mindset, so as to lay a proper foundation for the habits.
The biggest transaction in most people’s lives is the purchase or sale of a home. Home ownership is a part of the American Dream, and can be very exciting. However, there are some problems that can arise in the transaction if you don’t take all of the proper steps (and sometimes, unfortunately, even if you don’t).
So in this episode I talk with the owner of Cardinal Real Estate Services here in Woodbury, Lynn Stambaugh, about 5 things you can do to insure the best chance that your closing will go through without a hitch.
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.
Many people prepare their tax returns to discover that they are getting a refund. This is certainly great news and cause for celebration. Others, however, find out that they owe taxes, many in an amount they find to be unaffordable. They cannot simply write a check and enclose it with the tax return.
This can cause a lot of stress, as they face having to pay interest, possible penalties, and collection actions down the road, like wage garnishments and liens on their homes! That is why, for this episode, I invited back accountant Ira Krassan to talk about what can be done to negotiate a payment plan with the IRS, or an offer in compromise if the full amount cannot be paid. There are things that you can do, and Ira is here to tell you all about it!
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.
Michelle Singletary, a personal finance columnist for the Washington Post, is the author of The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom and The 21 Day Financial Fast, in which she lays out what she calls the 21-Day Financial Fast. The fast is about curbing the need to consume because, in her view, we all consume more than we need. I read about this Fast when I came across an article she wrote in the Post describing it, and I thought it would be a good idea to do an episode on it. It might just be the thing for you!
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.
One part of a financial strategy that is often overlooked is dealing with death and disability. It is an unpleasant topic that no one wants to think about, but one that has to be addressed. Failing to plan for them can threaten to unravel all of the work that you have done to date to ensure financial freedom. It could prevent your assets from going to those whom you want to receive them or cause major disruption if you become disabled or incapacitated.
So in this episode, I talk about why you need a will, a living will, and a power of attorney to protect your financial plan and prevent disruption and chaos in your financial life. I will discuss what can go wrong without them, and how having them can prevent these problems.
One option people have for dealing with their debt is to negotiate a compromise figure, so as to get a balance that they can afford to pay, either in a lump sum or in payments over time. They may not be able to afford $7,500, but they can afford $5,000. In this way they can avoid bankruptcy and still pay their creditors.
A complication comes in, however, in that the $2,500 you saved on the deal is considered taxable income by the IRS! This can come as a nasty surprise when it comes time to prepare your return. But there may be a way to avoid those taxes if you know what to do. That is why, in this episode, I invited local accountant Jerry Glauser onto the show to talk to me about the solution to this problem.
When it comes to home mortgages, there are many options out there. You can go to a conventional, neighborhood bank, your credit union, or the online companies that are advertising on TV. Lately there have been a lot of commercials about people applying for a mortgage in their underwear, or in a movie theatre from their smartphones. Companies like LendingTree and RocketMortgage really want your business and emphasize the ease and convenience that they offer.
Choosing which option to go with is very important, not only in the short term, with insuring that you will be approved for financing the home of your dreams, but also in the long term of living with a 15 to 30 year mortgage. So in this episode I talk again with local real estate Broker Lynn Stambaugh of Cardinal Real Estate Services to see whether the convenience touted by online mortgage companies comes with any downsides that you should consider.
People in financial difficulty are often hounded by debt collectors trying to get them to pay. Although the constant barrage of phone calls and letters is bad enough, many times these collectors will use harassing and intimidating tactics in order to be the squeakiest wheel and get to your money first. Dealing with this can be very stressful and add to the overall desperation of those deep in debt.
But fortunately, there is federal law in place to protect you from this type of harassing behavior and even give you a basis to sue the debt collector for damages and attorney’s fees! It is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and it is a powerful weapon against unethical and unscrupulous debt collectors. In this episode, I talk about how this law can be your sword and shield against harassment.
No matter what statistic you read, it is fairly safe to say that most businesses fail. There are many reasons for this, such as poor planning, insufficient capital, or bad management, and working to avoid these is key to the success of your business. But some things are just beyond your control, and when those events happen, they can be devastating to your business.
One way to guard against this is having the right insurance. The proper coverage, such as business interruption insurance, can make all the difference in the world if disaster should strike your business. That is why, in this episode, I brought back local insurance broker Dave Strout of Cettei & Connell to talk about what kind of insurance coverage every business should have to increase the chances of success.
In Episode #1 of the podcast on New Year’s resolutions, one of the goals I mentioned for 2016 was making a budget. The vast majority of Americans don’t have one, and it is one of the most important things you can do to assure financial freedom.
But how do you go about making, and more importantly, sticking to one? Where do you start? What tools do you use? In this episode, I answer that question by reviewing one particular free online budgeting tool and suggesting others in the show notes. Checking them out for the help you need.