It’s summer travel time, be sure to follow these tips.

We take all types of summer vacations, camping, cruising, exotic locations. We travel by car, boat, and plane. No matter where you are going, or how you get there, please follow these tips so you don’t have to spend the rest of your summer trying to reclaim your identity.
When renting a car do not synch your phone to the rental car.
According to a report from Privacy International, most major rental-car companies have no policies to delete sensitive information that is collected during a rental once a user returns the car. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever picked up a rental and find that the device information of the last 10 renters was still stored in the vehicle. That means, if you were to sync your own phone, the next renter would have your information at their fingertips.
Make sure you have a VPN on your phone or tablet.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.
Empty out your wallet.
Many people carry 3 or more  credit cards in their wallets, along with their bank card, and Social Security card. When traveling take just one credit card for use on the trip, that way you can track your specific charges and immediately see if anything wacky shows up. You do not want to use your bank debit card for purchases as the protection is much less than with a credit card. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
If you follow these few tips, you will not have to spend your time after your vacation trying to reclaim your identity. Be smart, then you will have nothing more than great pictures and fond memories of your summer vacation.


Why do you have this in your wallet?

Wallets serve a great purpose and we have carried them since we got our driver’s licenses. There are many things that people keep in their wallets that they should not. A few items to always have in your wallet are: your driver’s license, your auto insurance card, a bit of cash, and a credit card, that’s it. Here are a few things that people carry in their wallets that I wish they would take out immediately:
Your Social Security card. Losing your Social Security number is a sure ticket to identity theft. Once stolen, rogue identity thieves could use that number to get loans in your name or obtain credit cards. For that reason, identity theft experts say, never carry your Social Security card — or even a piece of paper with your Social Security number on it.

Your passwords. If you have to keep passwords jotted down somewhere, keep them in a locked box in your house. You should also consider a digital password manager. One to consider is LastPass. The basic service is free, or you can upgrade to the premium version for $3 per month.

Multiple credit cards. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you won’t have as many credit cards that you’ll have to cancel. My recommendation: Carry one rewards card for everyday purchases as well as a backup card for unplanned purchases or emergencies.

As someone who has had their identity stolen, I can tell you it is a lot of work trying to get everything straightened out. Be smart and protect yourself.


You must Save! Save! and Save!

I know I sound like a broken record as I am always telling you to live below your means and make sure you have cash. This idea of saving a cash lump sum is even more important as you reach retirement.
Putting off saving until retirement is not a good plan.
Many people put off saving for retirement because they want to pay down debt first. Paying off debt is important, but so is saving for retirement
Not saving enough is also a problem.
Many people assume that as long as they’re putting something away for retirement, they’ll be fine. But this fails to plan for inflation and may not end up being enough.
Have a savings goal in mind.
Most people imagine a comfortable retirement but never do the math to figure out how much they’ll actually need to make that happen. When planning for retirement, it’s important to consider things like living costs, medical costs, your desired lifestyle, health insurance and other unexpected expenses. Determine an exact goal for your retirement savings in order to achieve it.

I know, it is not fun, but cash gives you choice and a secure retirement can be fun if you save!


Today I am 60!

Today I am 60!

I have a lot to look forward to as I reach this milestone age (am I really 60?!)

I thought it might be fun to take a look back at what was going on in April 1959.






My how things have changed.

30 years ago my husband and I bought our first home. We bought a 1200sq. ft. townhouse for $44,000 and were lucky to only have a 10% interest rate on the mortgage. Today, my daughter and her husband are looking for their first home. A home ranging between 1300 -1500 sq. ft. Will cost about $240,000 or more. What a change.
The benefit of having me as her mother is, they are very prepared to purchase their first home. Here are the things they have done to be able to act quickly in the crazy real estate market.
They hired a professional realtor to help them find the perfect home. This is not a job for a homebuyer to pursue online if they have no experience.
They have reviewed the credit profiles with all of the rating service. If you were to find something incorrect, or that need addressing in your credit file, the time to do this is before trying to buy a home.
They have been saving for two years to build up as close to 20% for a down payment as they could.
They have been pre-qualified for a mortgage. If you get pre-qualified, once you find the home you love, you can start negotiations right away.

Buying a home has changed A LOT in 30 years, make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you start looking for your home.


Our Shred – a – thon was such a success!

Every year our shred-a-thon is more and more successful. We have been able to help countless Central Floridians free up space in their homes. While purging those old papers feels great, there are some items you should think about before you shred.
Personal papers: These documents—including birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, and military records—are used in different ways to verify your identity and are required to receive a driver’s license and passport. The originals should be kept forever in a secure location. If you are required to show these documents, usually a copy is sufficient.
Loan records: From mortgages to student and car loans, loan records should be kept indefinitely as proof that your loan is paid off. Keeping proof of loan payoff is important in the event that there is an issue with the records of a creditor—a cause for concern given that financial service entities frequently sell loans to loan servicing firms.
Insurance documents: Retain for up to six years after the policy has been canceled, which will protect you from any issues that may arise down the road concerning a claim.

Don’t let the cleaning bug bite you, be careful before you shred.


Do you suffer from “lifestyle inflation”?

I just read about “lifestyle inflation” in the recent issue of Money Magazines’ professional issue, and it bears sharing.
Often when people get a new, higher pay job, or a raise, their first thought is “now I can afford”,,, my first thought for my clients is, you need to increase your 401(k) contributions. Taking a vacation, buying an expensive item, or whatever that “want vs need” item is may be fun. The lifestyle inflation you subject yourself to now will hurt you in the future.
When you have an increase in income, I am challenging you to put yourself on a one year moratorium from lifestyle inflation. Resist the bigger vacation, new car, or expensive watch – instead, increase your 401(k). At the end of that year, you can look back and see how much bigger your retirement savings has grown.
Time is the biggest benefit you have right now to make sure you have a secure retirement. Please don’t give in to the “lifestyle inflation.”


Wednesday is the first day of spring – time to spring clean your finances.

Spring cleaning usually means we go through our closets and garages to get rid of the stuff that has just been hanging around. This can also be a great time for new beginnings and positive changes. Here are a few spring cleaning suggestions to freshen up your finances:
Fine-tune your budget
A budget is a plan for your money, but even the best laid plans have a tendency to go awry. A regular budget check can help you stay on top of your spending behavior and make any necessary tweaks.
Check your savings account & come up with a savings plan
The target for liquid emergency savings is generally three to six months’ worth of household expenses, dividing the amount you need by the next 12 months. This will give you a manageable amount, like $100 to $150, that you can set aside monthly until you reach your goal.
Bump up your retirement contributions
Spring is a great time to reassess and potentially boost your contributions for the rest of the year. Don’t forget to take into account any promotions or bonuses when thinking of ways to increase your contributions.

If you can add these spring cleaning tips into your life, you will be much happier for years to come.


Its paper generating time – how long do I have to keep this stuff?

Are you as amazed as I am at the amount of paper generated by doing our taxes? Keeping receipts, statements, payments made, and all other manner of tax documentation can create a small mountain each year. So how long do you need to keep all of your tax return documents? Here are some tips:
Most taxpayers: Three years
The statute of limitations for an IRS audit expires after three years. That means most taxpayers should keep their tax records for three years after the date they filed their return, or two years after they paid tax – whichever is later.
There are three exceptions to the IRS audit time limit.
The agency can go back six years for an audit if you under-reported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
The IRS can also audit returns that claim a capital loss on worthless securities or take a deduction for bad debt, up to seven years after the return was filed.
If you didn’t file a tax return or filed a fraudulent one, there is no statute of limitations for an IRS audit. In these cases, keep all your records indefinitely.
The IRS also recommends taxpayers hold onto employment tax records for at least four years after the date that the tax is due or paid – whichever is later.
With stocks, bonds or property, maintain records until you sell the asset. For instance, you may need this documentation to determine depreciation or amortization as well as calculating a gain or loss after the sale.

Our shred-a-thon is March 30th from 8:00-12:00, at our offices at 1111 Douglas Ave. Altamonte Springs, Fl. Limit two banker’s boxes per person please.