Two Truths, One Lie – Finance Style

Have you ever played the icebreaker game, “Two Truths, One Lie?” 

As far as icebreakers go, this is a good one and eye opening! In fact, there is a current game show with the premise.

This is how it works:

Everyone goes around the room and says three statements. Two are true, and one is false. Today, let’s play with a couple of different hot topics in finance and see if you can spot the lie.

 

Mortgages

  1. If you have no FICO score, you can still get a mortgage
  2. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) does not protect me (the buyer)
  3. As a rule of thumb, you should be 80 or older in order to get a reverse mortgage

Credit Cards

  1. Buying with credit makes us feel the same as buying with cash
  2. Credit cards were invented in 1950
  3. Credit cards are considered unsecured debt

Estate Planning

  1. Over 50% of Americans have no estate plan, no will and no medical directives
  2. Dying without a will is known as “an intestinal death”
  3. Not everyone needs to hide their money from the “death tax”

—————————————————————————————————————————

Mortgages

  1. If you have no FICO score, you can still get a mortgage
    True; it is a lot easier with a credit history, but manual underwriting is an option
  2. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) does not protect me (the buyer)
    True, PMI protects the lender from you (the buyer) not ponying up
  3. As a rule of thumb, you should be 80 or older in order to get a reverse mortgage
    False, it’s age 62…still old, though.

Credit Cards

  1. Buying with credit makes us feel the same as buying with cash
    False; with credit cards, we focus on benefits and cash makes us focus on cost
  2. Credit cards were invented in 1950
    True; the first credit card (as it is known today) was created in 1950 with the Diner Club card
  3. Credit cards are considered unsecured debt
    True; unsecured debt means that they can’t come get your stuff (unlike a mortgage or car loan, which are secured)

Estate Planning

  1. Over 50% of Americans have no estate plan, no will and no medical directives
    True; what is your estate plan?
  2. Dying without a will is known as “an intestinal death”
    False; an estate would be “intestate” and has nothing to do with death-by-Taco-Bell
  3. Not everyone needs to hide their money from the “death tax”
    True; only estates worth more than $5.25M (for 2013) need to be thinking about estate taxes

Want to learn more fun finance facts? Go to DanHinzCoaching.com, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

As a financial coach, I am focused on increasing the financial literacy of Bay County and Florida. If you, or someone you know, would like to get out of debt, avoid bankruptcy, or become more responsible with money, contact me for more information on personal coaching, classes, and seminars.

Getting Ready for Year End

Can you believe we are 5 weeks away from the end of 2013?  It is time to start gearing up for taxes, purging files, and all the other things that invite procrastination.  If you are like most people  this time of the year, your filing cabinet drawers are begging for mercy, hoping you don’t stuff in one more file or receipt!

You might find yourself asking ….. How long should I keep my files?

First and foremost, in regards to taxes, you must keep all your records for 7 years.

When it comes to business files, depending on the business you are in, there may be some gray area, however, sticking to the 7 year rule, is a good rule of thumb.

If your office space is small a good tip is to keep one year prior and current year on site.  If necessary, you can use a storage room or building to hold the other years’ records.

What should you keep?  EVERYTHING. 

Well not everything, but it’s my policy to keep  AP files down to a minimum.  Keep the invoice with the check stub stapled to it, but toss out a statement, a payment envelope, and any extra baggage that comes with your invoice, such as coupons you won’t use, etc.

If you are interested in backing up your paper files – keep an eye on us – we have some options coming up that will be announced soon.  If you can’t wait – email us now.

As far as taxes go………….meet with your bookkeeper or accountant now to review where you are financially.  Should you make a contribution to an IRA?  Should you buy a piece of equipment?  Are you ok to just leave status quo as it is?  Have you spent enough money on your business this year – or have you spent too much?  Have you paid your tax liabilities? – are you prepared, do you know the proper forms to file at year end?

All of these questions are excellent for your bookkeeper.  If you don’t have one, please give us a call and we will be glad to set up a year end review to make sure you are on track and ready for 2014!

Lauree Adams, Owner

Adams Business Solutions

lauree@adamsbusinesssolutions.com  / 850-319-4205

Government Shut Down and Tax Deadline

While the Government Shut Down has closed IRS help centers, and the online and phone help lines, your tax forms are still due by October 15 for those who have filed an extension.

According to irs.gov no refunds will be issued during the lapse in operations and everyone should try to file electronically if possible.  However, if you do owe this year – payments are being accepted.

And that taxpayers…….. is your tip for today from Abby our mascot here at Adams Business Solutions!  Have a tax or bookkeeping question?  Send it to us at lauree@adamsbusinesssolutions.com  you may see it answered here!

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ASK ABBY

Set Sail with Beach Chamber on May 30th

 

The Panama City Beach Chamber’s IdeaWork’s committee will held an Idea Camp in the form of a “Sunset Think Tank”  aboard the Paradise Adventures 52″ Catamaran on May 30th.

This fun, interactive “Idea Share” takes place from 5 pm to 8 pm on Thursday, May 30th.

Idea Camp is presented by Southwest Airlines and this next event is sponsored by A Superior Air Conditioning and MaceTech Security Solutions.

Idea Camp is an interactive think tank with focused networking and a friendly exchange of business dialogue in a laid back atmosphere.

The IdeaWorks committee has successfully held four Idea Camp’s previous this year, at Kingfish Grill, g.Foley’s and Runaway Bay Caribbean Grill.

Speakers for May 30th include a presentation by the chamber’s new President and CEO, Lance Allison; “Rebranding Homelessness” by Billy Fox, Pathways of Panama City Rescue Mission; “The Gift of Time” by Kandi Gardiner, MSC; “Practical Tips to Maintain your Privacy” by Russell Mace of MaceTech Security Solutions; and “Becoming a Purple Cow” by Jason Koertge of PCB Luxury Properties.

Cost to attend is FREE for Panama City Beach Chamber members and $20 per person for non-members.  This event is open to a public but fills up quickly, so do not delay if you want to sign up!  Drinks and light eats will be available, as well as time for informal networking, so bring your business cards.

For more information call the chamber at 850-235-1159.

 

IdeaCamp email.5-30-13 (2)

Take a Sunset Cruise with the PCB Chamber April 11th

The Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce prides itself on being different.   Not only have they created a new movement in small business networking and development, but they are always looking for ways to improve.  Next month, they are taking their new signature Idea Camp, aboard a 52′ foot Catamaran with Paradise Adventures.

Thursday, April 11th from 5 to 8 pm, all are invited, as space allows to join the PCB Chamber of Commerce for a “Sunset Think-Tank” as they take Idea Camp on the open water.

For more information about this event or to RSVP, as space is limited, call the PCB Chamber at 850-235-1159 or email: marta@pcbeach.org.

Panama City Beach Chamber members may attend for FREE, the cost for non-members is $20.  Guests will gather at Paradise Adventures and fellowship together and enjoy hors d’oeuvres from 5 to 6, with the boat departing a few minutes before 6 pm and arriving back at 8 pm.  There will also be light eats and a cash bar aboard the boat.

IdeaCamp, as started a few months ago, thanks to the generous support of Southwest Airlines, is an interactive think tank with focused networking and an ‘ideashare’ of great business dialogue.   Last month,  PCB Chamber members and friends convened at G.foley’s in Panama City for a night of sharing, learning, and networking.

“When IdeaCamp was created last fall, our initial goal was simple,” says IdeaWorks Chairman David Balmer, “We wanted guests to ‘walk away with more ideas for their business than they had when they arrived.’” The IdeaWorks Committee has already reached that goal, and has additionally created a unique networking event to inspire business connections and deepen those relationships. “The diversity of guests and speakers, who talk on a variety of business and leadership related topics, is what keeps this event interesting, fun and relevant,” says Balmer.

For a little taste of last month’s Idea Camp at G.foley’s, check out one of these video clips below.

 

This fun, interactive event is made possible by not only the folks at Paradise Adventures, but other generous sponsors such as: Shimmering Seas Jewelry and Gifts, North Florida Financial, Dr. Myra Ancelet Reed  and with food by Runaway Caribbean Grill.

 

Head to Idea Camp this Tuesday Night!

 

 

Some people were good at sitting still at school.  

They could look at the teacher patiently and listen until it was their turn to talk.

And then there was those of us who couldn’t wait to jump in or had a hard time fighting the urge to go someplace else in our heads…..

If you can relate….you need to join the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce and attend IDEA CAMP  this upcoming Tuesday night, February 26th at 5:30 pm at the Kingfish Restaurant and Sushi Bar  inside the Wyndham at Bay Point.

If you are someone who needs to be engaged….then you need to come to IDEA CAMP!

This IDEA CAMP is not your typical sit down and listen kind of event, it is anything BUT that.  

It is a fast paced, high energy sharing of ideas with a handful of speakers who are small business leaders just like yourself.

This is an informal event with an opportunity for learning and a little bit of networking in a more casual, intimate setting.

And the best part, because it is being built around the concept of “doing things differently”, it is an event that is a live, organic thing, changing and growing, just like its’ participants.

PCB Daily founder and owner of Panama City Beach Luxury Properties Jason Koertge spoke at the inaugural IDEA CAMP and will be facilitating at this event.

My mother and Beachy Beach Real Estate Broker, Karen Smith will also be speaking this time, on the topic she seems to own…ENTHUSIASM.  I am pretty sure the woman could find a way to get excited about towel lint.

If you want some of that enthusiasm then you need to come to IDEA CAMP!  Also speaking will be Kandi Gardiner, Michael Mace, Zachary Dickerson and more.

Idea Camp  events are made possible because of the support of Southwest Airlines with Tuesday’s event locally sponsored by North Florida Financial and Emerald HR Solutions, Inc and of course, Kingfish Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Bay Point.

The first event they gave away airline tickets, this time, word is they have a gong.  No long-winded speakers allowed here!

Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce Members attend for FREE and guests may attend for only $20. 

Participants enjoy a two hour program with interactive learning, networking, light appetizers and one drink ticket,…oh and a chance at the gong. 

If you can not make this event, mark your calendars for Thursday March 21st and get ready to share, learn, and network at G.Foley’s in Panama City for next month’s IDEA CAMP.

For more information, email Marta Rose: marta@pcbeachchamber.org.

 

 

 

Your Business On The Web: 11 Tips To Make Your Website Better

Business A and Business B sell identical products at different but highly competitive locations. Business A uses it’s website as a brochure, composing of a few static pages filled with text. Business B uses its website as a virtual brick and mortar store accessible from anywhere in the world. Business B’s website is well-designed to exude the “feel” of its business. The content on the pages are strategic, SEO friendly and is regularly updated with featured products. The site has user comments, reviews and a blog that is integrated into social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Which business do you believe has better numbers at years end? Better still, which business do you believe consumers will find in a search and be more inclined to recommend? If you said Business A, you can stop reading now.

Your website means more now than ever and its value will continue to increase in the coming years. Great-looking, highly functional and accessible websites are a must for any business, new or well-established. Building and maintaining a great web presence is not easy and should never be seen as a flash in the pan. It takes thought and dedication, and no $199-build-your-own site is going to produce the type of ROI a well thought-out custom site can. So how do you help your site perform? What should you consider when building a new site or updating a current one? Here are 11 sweet tips to help you achieve real success with your website.

1. Design For User Experience

Let’s say you run a law office. How would your users feel if your site radiated Crayola colors and was littered with flashy and glittering elements? Concurrently, if you ran a daycare, how would your users react to a site that was ultra-modern, using dark reds, blacks and browns? These things change the way a user “feels” and could negatively effect a potential conversion. Designing for user experience means you understand your business, understand your user and the site is designed to express and evoke desires. This was true long before the web. For example, restaurants can be designed for fun and families like Beef o Brady’s, or elegance like Firefly. Whole cities are designed around concepts, feels and an “experience.” When done well, the impact and purpose is immediate. The same can be true for your site. If, in your business, you want the user to “feel” the beach, then it should reflect in your website. If you want them to feel excitement and thrills, use bright color palettes and strong imagery. The key is knowing what you want and knowing your user and allowing the two to find each other. Here are a few examples of websites well-crafted for user experience: http://www.tnvacation.com/, http://benthebodyguard.com/index.php (scroll down on this one), http://www.le28thiers.fr/, http://www.kccreepfest.com/

2. Blog…or not

If you have ever sat in on one of my seminars, you know I believe blogging is the bees knees. Blogging, and by blogging I mean just updating your site with relevant information, is the central hub for your website, your social presence and your SEO. I think every business should post a new blog post at least once a week. But, blogging can be counter-productive. If I visit your site and see you have a blog, but also see you haven’t updated it since 2009, well, I will most likely not come back. Too often, business see blogging as just another thing to do. But, blogging is like putting out your own press releases. Even more importantly, the blog creates your “feed” to the web and allows your site to become a “speaking” entity rather than a static one. I often have local friends and clients tell me they have nothing to blog about. I tell them to grab a google alert for, say, Panama City Beach. And every day, google will email you a list of all the web articles on the web using that keyphrase You are bound to find something in there worth your two cents.

3. Don’t Sacrifice Good Content For SEO

For those who do not know what SEO is, it stands for Search Engine Optimization (how your site returns when certain words and phrases are searched in google, yahoo, bing..etc). For the last 7-10 years, websites have sacrificed good, valueable content for content thick with SEO phrases. While you may think, “adding Panama City Beach in every line of my site will get me ranked,” think about who the content is for: search engine bots or people? More importantly, it’s been a little over a year since Google released its PANDA algorithm update which ranks quality, original content higher than SEO rich content…and content is only as good as the people who read it. So write your content for your mindful visitor, not a mindless searchbot.

4. Have an About Us Page

In an era where the web is becoming much more personal, it is important to have an About Us page. Your business should have a story, and if it doesn’t, the people who work for it do. Tell it. Your user wants to hear it. Tell me when your business was established, what is its purpose and why it is more awesome than anyone else. And don’t be stiff, tell it honestly and forthright. Transparency on the web fits well into this new era as people seek out a personal touch and avoid corporation….which leads perfectly into the next point…

5. Avoid Mystery

How many times have you gone to a website looking to buy something but can never find the price? How many times have you gone to look at a real estate site and they ask you to sign up before you can look at any properties? Your site must be easy, smooth and obvious. Remember, users who are empowered with information are more likely to convert. If you do property rentals, show lots of high-quality photos and throw some real reviews in there. If you sell a product give the user a video on how it works, tell them the full price and all the features. If you groom dogs, show before and after photos, feature dogs of the month with their owner and give the user a virtual tour of your facility. Shine, don’t hide.

6. Have A Clear Focal Point

Too often websites don’t have a clear focal point. Either they are filled with text or have too many things equal in hierarchy. Creating a focal point is easy, choosing what it should be is not. Real Estate agents and brokerages have to ask themselves what is the most important thing they want visitors to see or do? You want them to see your latest property? Maybe go right to a property search? Hotels and Condos, do you want them to see your property features or search for units? Perhaps you are a shoe store, do you want to feature a tag line or showcase the lastest release? Whatever you choose, a good focal point is the most important step in conversion. I encourage friends and clients to decided for themselves what is important and make it the most visible element on the homepage using either size, color, location or all three to make it stand out. Here are a few examples of sites with a strong focal point: http://www.redbowlchallenge.org/, http://attackemart.in/, http://www.givebeyond.me/, http://thisisdk.com/

7. Use Typography Intelligently

Ah, my good friend typography. While many of you will skip this over, you don’t realize that on the web as well as print, typography is more important than imagery. Intelligent use of typography means your content hierarchy can delineated in a glance. Your heading font size, color, type, style and spacing is based on importance. Eyes viewing your website use your use of typography like signs on a highway, guiding them to what is most important. Don’t believe me? Check out these sites using typography and tell me you didn’t know just want to read? http://intellisult.com/, http://www.welovewebcomics.com/, http://www.leaderbe.com/, http://www.kitchensinkstudios.com/

8. Update Homepage Content

Your home page is the equivalent of your store window. If people are window shopping, you have to do more than just give them something to look at, but something new and relevant. Studies show, websites with updating content on the home page yield more return visitors than those that don’t. I mean, look at pcbdaily.com. The homepage changes constantly and people come back to see what is new. Even if you do something as simple as placing a changing feature on the sidebar, or a scrolling news ticker, your user will notice…and so will searchbots. Search engines love new content, especially on the homepage, like bees love honey.

9. Control User Interaction Through Navigation

We all know the importance of a smooth site navigation. But, navigation is more than having a bar across the top of the site. The key to controlling user interaction is a combination of limiting the number of things in the primary navigation and repeating the important things in different ways. Okay, so, I know that I want my users to go to my products page. I may have “Products” listed in the primary navigation, but I will also have a featured scroller showing images of my latest products and then, down the page, have a graphic logo that is linked to my products page and again in the footer a link to the products. What I am doing is creating multiple ways to reach one place and presenting them in different ways as to not overwhelm the user. In the end, they go exactly where I want. I encourage you to be leery of large, chunky navigations. Too many options create confusion and, eventually, a lost conversion.

10. Integrate Social Components

You see, just about everywhere, the facebook logo on websites. But, you can take the social component much further. Add additional sharing options (facebook, twitter, pinterest etc..) on pages, so people can share your site with friends and networks without having to “like” your page. Also, add the ability to comment on your blog posts. You can set up comments to require your approval before going live. A simple comment can create linkbacks, good user-generated content, SEO validity and, most importantly, site interaction with users. Also, collect email addresses on site to send email newsletters. Using your site to create a social environment is important is so many ways and can be relatively easy to set up.

11. Analytics

If you don’t have analytics yet, stop reading this and go get some right now. Analytics are the ultimate sources for understanding the type of individuals visiting your site and their habits. Analytics can show you what states and cites visitors are coming from, what links and pages are the most popular, daily visit numbers, average time on sites and pages and so much more. Here, let me give you a good example. I had a client who wanted to increase Spring Break numbers. We looked at the site analytics and saw an unusual trend. Site state by state visitors were ranked, 1. Illinois, 2. Wisconsin, 3. Ohio…all north and northeast. But, reservations and stays were ranked 1. Alabama, 2. Florida, 3. Georgia…all southern. This showed me that Northern students visited the site, but for some reason were not booking. We changed our marketing strategies and were able to reach out to those students, increasing their bookings exponentially and, in turn, boosting the bottom line. None of this would have been possible without site analytics.

Bonus: Contact Form or Live Chat

Here is an extra tip because I like you people. I have seen incredible results with the use of quick contact forms in visible places like the footer or sidebar. Unlike a contact page, these forms are simple, Name, Email, Message. People use these like mad. And if you have staffing to handle a live chat, I highly encourage this. Live chat allows you to talk real time with anyone looking but not converting. Most people in this day and age use the phone last. So, imagine if you could get them while they are researching information and make a sale, a connection or just provide good information. There are even proactive chats that will initiate contact if they have been on the page for more than a few seconds. Here is a link to my favorite chat.

Alright folks, my fingers hurt from all this typing. I hope you find this useful. Tune in next week for Your Business on the Web: Social Media Best Practices.