Prepay Property Taxes Yet

As a financial advisor and CFP® Practioner I’ve had numerous discussions in the past few weeks about prepaying 2018 property taxes in 2017. Time is running out, this strategy is picking up steam and homeowners are practically sprinting to their city hall office. Not so fast. Below are three reasons to consider before pre-paying your 2018 property taxes.

1) AMT! There is an Alternative Minimum Tax, also known as AMT. To explain in a nutshell, when your tax liability is calculated, an additional alternative method to calculate your tax is computed and compared to your original tax liability. You end up paying the higher of the two taxes. AMT was put in place to ensure everyone pays a minimum tax. Your AMT calculation is similar to your regular calculation but several deductions are excluded. One of those deductions is property tax! This means that if you are going to pay AMT, additional property tax payments will not help. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to figure out if you will be subject to the AMT and it is best to reach out to your financial or tax advisor.

2) You may not hit the SALT (state and local taxes) cap next year. Starting in 2018, there will be a ceiling of $10,000 on the total of local taxes, state taxes and property taxes eligible for deduction. Many people in New York City and New Jersey will easily blow past this $10,000 cap. However, there will be some who pay property taxes but their SALT is under $10,000. This is more likely in no or low tax states like Texas, Florida and Nevada. Make sure you anticipate to be over the cap of $10K for your 2018 tax year before committing your 2018 property tax payment to 2017.

The Way to Save Big Money

You’re not alone if you’re under estimating just how much you’re spending on your car.

For the most part, we as a culture have come to understand the cost of a car in one of two ways:

The sticker price

The monthly payment

And while those numbers are certainly a big part of the equation, they both fail to tell the whole story.

The truth is that the ongoing costs of owning a car are so numerous and so significant that addressing just them, and nothing else in your budget, could be enough to put you on track for your biggest financial goals.

The Real Cost of Owning a Car

The amount it costs to buy your car is just the start. Because whether you buy it outright or take out a loan, you still have to factor in all of the ongoing costs:

Insurance

Gas

Maintenance

Registration fees

Taxes

Depreciation

Add all those up and you’re likely spending at least a few hundred dollars per month on your car, on top of any monthly payment you might have. Nerdwallet has a helpful tool for putting them all together, and you can also use the tools provided by KBB and Edmunds to get an estimate.

The fact of the matter is that even a relatively “practical” car will likely cost you thousands of dollars per year just to keep it running, and it could be much more depending on how new, big, and fancy the car is.

All of which means there’s an opportunity to save a meaningful amount of money by making a few smart decisions. Here’s how to do it.

3 Ways to Save Money on Transportation

1. Buy Used

You may have heard that a car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot. That is, simply by buying the car and bringing it home, you have, often significantly, decreased its value.

That’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re buying new. But it also means you have a big opportunity to save some money if you’re willing to buy a car that’s even a little bit used.

Edmunds estimates that the average total cost of a new compact SUV is $33,682, while the average total cost for a 3-4 year old used compact SUV is $24,966. That’s a difference of $8,716, and it doesn’t even factor in the likelihood of cheaper insurance and lower taxes!

The bottom line is that you can save yourself a meaningful amount of money if you’re willing to buy a car that’s even just a few years old.

And in some cases you might even be better off leasing, especially if the alternative is taking out a loan on a brand new car.

2. Go Down to One Car

With the availability of services like Lyft and Uber, is it still really necessary for you and your spouse to have two cars? What would you sacrifice by going down to one? How inconvenient would it really be?

And what’s the worst-case scenario? Maybe you find that you end up spending a little more than you would have otherwise, in which case you can simply buy another car down the line. But in the end there really isn’t much risk to trying one car.

This is something that’s at least worth considering the next time one of your cars needs to be replaced. There’s little downside and the potential for some huge savings.

3. Negotiate Like a Millennial!

We, millennials get a bad rap for constantly being “connected”, but in this case you can use those skills to your advantage and negotiate your car price over email.

That’s right! You no longer have to negotiate face-to-face, which both plays to the dealer’s strengths and can be more than a bit nerve wracking.

By leveraging the power of email, you can negotiate with multiple dealers all at once, securing a great deal before you even walk in the door.

Reduce Healthcare Costs

Healthcare takes a big bite out of just about every family’s budget, with research showing that the average employee spends $11,685 each year on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

While many of those expenses are necessary (I would never recommend going without insurance or medical care), there are some ways to save money while still getting the care you need.

And with open enrollment coming up, this is the perfect time to put those strategies in place. Here are five ideas to keep in mind as you consider your options for the coming year.

1. Enroll in a High-Deductible Plan

While the instinct is often to run from high-deductible health insurance plans, they can, in some cases, save you significant money.

Think about it this way:

Your premium is a guaranteed cost. You will definitely have to spend this money on healthcare.

Your deductible is a potential cost. You may or may not have to spend this money on healthcare.

If you’re relatively healthy, you might end up saving hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars by switching to a high-deductible plan.

And no matter what, you should compare plans by adding the annual premium to the deductible and out-of-pocket max to see what your maximum possible cost could be.

In some cases there isn’t much difference between the high-deductible plan and the low-deductible plan, and the low-deductible plan at least gives you the possibility of spending less.

2. Self-Insure for Your Deductible and Other Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Whatever your deductible is, keeping that amount of money available in a savings account ensures that you can pay your medical bills without resorting to a credit card.

The last thing you want to do is compound the cost of your healthcare with interest. Self-insuring your out-of-pocket costs will prevent that from happening.

3. Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA)

If you’re eligible, contributions to a health savings account (HSA) offer a triple tax break:

Your contributions are tax-deductible

The money grows tax-free inside the account

You can withdraw the money tax-free for qualified medical expenses

In other words, an HSA allows you to pay for your healthcare completely tax-free. This can lead to significant savings, especially if you live in a high tax state like California.

On a side note, those same tax benefits can make HSAs fantastic retirement accounts.

Credit Cards for Startups

As the founder of a startup, there are plenty of good reasons for you to consider using a business credit card. Not only can it help you keep personal and business finances separate, it can come in handy for covering cash flow, building your credit history, and saving money through various perks and rewards.

Not all business credit cards for startups are equal, however, and you’ll want to choose one that best fits the needs of your business. If you’re required to travel often, for example, you might want to go with a card that offers great airfare and hotel rewards. If you’re looking to transfer existing debt from a high cost loan or credit card, you’ll want to choose a card with a low or zero balance transfer fee. Others who plan to carry a balance might choose one with a low interest rate.

Why wouldn’t I just use my personal credit card?
Well, glad you asked. Here are three serious advantages to using a business credit card for business purchases:

Having a business credit card allows you to keep your personal and business expenses separate. You’ll be able to track business expenses more easily, making tax time, as well as maintaining a company budget, much less of a headache.
By getting a card in the name of your business you’ll start to establish a business credit score separate from your personal one. That means that if you have to make a late payment, your business credit will take the hit instead of your personal credit (there are exceptions—read about which business credit cards report to personal credit bureaus here).
As you start to establish a business credit profile, you’ll build your business’s credibility. When it comes time to apply for other business financing, solid business credit scores can help you qualify for more financing at better rates.

Pros:

Credit needed: fair (625 personal credit score)
No annual fee
Rewards earn 1% cash back on all purchases
Cons:

High interest: 23.99% (Variable) as of October 10th 2017 APR
Late payment fee: Up to $39

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business card allows cardholders to earn rewards with no annual fee, and you don’t need an excellent personal credit scores to qualify. As a huge bonus, business owners who make on time payments and keep their balances low can build business credit. It’s worth noting, however, that Capital One may report your business payment history to personal credit reporting agencies, thus your personal credit scores could be affected by your business spending.

Plenty of good reasons for you to consider using a business credit card

As the founder of a startup, there are plenty of good reasons for you to consider using a business credit card. Not only can it help you keep personal and business finances separate, it can come in handy for covering cash flow, building your credit history, and saving money through various perks and rewards.

Not all business credit cards for startups are equal, however, and you’ll want to choose one that best fits the needs of your business. If you’re required to travel often, for example, you might want to go with a card that offers great airfare and hotel rewards. If you’re looking to transfer existing debt from a high cost loan or credit card, you’ll want to choose a card with a low or zero balance transfer fee. Others who plan to carry a balance might choose one with a low interest rate.

Why wouldn’t I just use my personal credit card?
Well, glad you asked. Here are three serious advantages to using a business credit card for business purchases:

Having a business credit card allows you to keep your personal and business expenses separate. You’ll be able to track business expenses more easily, making tax time, as well as maintaining a company budget, much less of a headache.
By getting a card in the name of your business you’ll start to establish a business credit score separate from your personal one. That means that if you have to make a late payment, your business credit will take the hit instead of your personal credit (there are exceptions—read about which business credit cards report to personal credit bureaus here).
As you start to establish a business credit profile, you’ll build your business’s credibility. When it comes time to apply for other business financing, solid business credit scores can help you qualify for more financing at better rates.
Let’s take a closer look at a few business credit cards that might help you take your company to the next level.

Secure way for business owners to get the funds

Business credit cards offer a quick and secure way for business owners to get the funds they need to run their business smoothly, take advantage of growth opportunities, provide breathing room when business is slow, safeguard personal finances from actions of the business, and more.
We created this guide to set you on a path to make the most out of business credit cards. Here’s a taste of what’s inside:

The incredible advantages of business credit cards
How business credit cards affect both your business AND personal credit
How to find our your approval odds before you apply
The type of business card you should avoid
Hacks to earn rewards and flights from your business credit card
Download The Ultimate Business Credit Card Guide Now For Free.

Nav offers dozens of the top business credit cards, and the most small business financing options available in one place. Sign up for a free Nav account to see your approval odds on business financing options before you apply.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from American Express is a great card for frequent Delta travelers who plan to make a large amount in purchases ($50,000+) on their card each calendar year. This card has a killer signup offer—Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. MQMs help you get closer to reaching Medallion status in the Delta SkyMiles program.

Added benefits:

Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
No foreign transaction fees.
Earn more miles with boost programs: 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after $25,000 in purchases each calendar year, as well as another bonus after $50,000.
Earn a domestic, round-trip companion pass each year you renew the card.
Added Delta bonuses: free checked bag, priority boarding, 20% savings (via a statement credit) on eligible purchases made in-flight.

Tough Act to Follow

For the first time this century, investors benefited from synchronized global growth. The U.S. stock market (S&P 500) and developed global markets (MSCI Foreign Stock Index) both returned over 20% for the year.

U.S. investors bid up the price of shares on anticipation of lower taxes and higher corporate profits. The Federal Reserve believed the U.S. economy was strong enough to absorb three interest rate hikes during 2017, forecasts are for three more in 2018. Unemployment is low at 4.1% and expected to go lower. Consumer confidence is high – household net worth in the fourth quarter may have reached $100 trillion for the first time.

Market Rally Was Led by FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google).

The huge rally in technology companies has shifted the sector weightings of the S&P 500 Index. In 2017 technology’s share of the index increased by 3%. Now at over 23%, tech stocks are the biggest sector in the S&P 500, by far. Financials and health care are next with 14% each. The run up in Amazon stock has pushed Jeff Bezos ahead of Bill Gates as the world’s richest man.

S&P 500 Was Perfect and Calm.

The S&P 500 index did not fall below its12/31/2016 level on even one day during 2017. For the first time in its history, with dividends included, the S&P 500 did not have a single month with a negative return and 2017 did not see a single day with a greater than 2% move in the S&P 500, either up or down. The biggest intra-year drop amounted to just 2.8%, the smallest decline since 1995. The average intra-year pull back is 13.6%

Where Do We Go From Here?

We don’t know, no one knows. As John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” This bull market is up 376% from its March 9, 2009, low. However, bull markets don’t die of old age. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has risen at least 20% (including reinvested dividends) 24 times, not including 2017. In the year that followed, the index finished higher 19 times with an average gain of 18.1%.

Business Credit Cards for Travel

Business road warriors are used to packing their bags. But wouldn’t it be more exciting to get ready for your upcoming trip if you knew there were sweet rewards involved?

That’s where business credit cards come in. You probably know of or have a personal credit card that rewards you for your purchases with miles or points that you can spend on flights or hotel stays. But business credit cards for travel sometimes offer even better rewards than personal cards, along with a host of other perks including helping you separate your personal and business finances and build business credit.

Here are some of the best business credit cards for travel we’ve identified for frequent flyers that could be a big win for your business.
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from American Express is a great card for frequent Delta travelers who plan to make a large amount in purchases ($50,000+) on their card each calendar year. This card has a killer signup offer—Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. MQMs help you get closer to reaching Medallion status in the Delta SkyMiles program.

Added benefits:

Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
No foreign transaction fees.
Earn more miles with boost programs: 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after $25,000 in purchases each calendar year, as well as another bonus after $50,000.
Earn a domestic, round-trip companion pass each year you renew the card.
Added Delta bonuses: free checked bag, priority boarding, 20% savings (via a statement credit) on eligible purchases made in-flight.
Drawbacks:

If Delta isn’t a convenient airline for you, this won’t be the best card.
Annual fee: $195

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express offers a flexible rewards program for frequent flyers of many different airlines who enjoy comfortable resort and hotel stays. Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Along with a generous rewards program, new cardholders will earn additional bonus points if they spend even more. Earn SPG Gold status after 30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, which allows you to score more hotel upgrades, late checkouts, welcome gifts during hotel stays, and more.

Added benefits:

Five “starpoints” per dollar spent at Starwood Hotels, two points per dollar at Marriott Reward hotels, and one point on all other purchases.
Points can be redeemed at over 1,300 hotels and resorts, and over 150 airlines within the SPG program.
No foreign transaction fees.
Free Boingo WiFi at over 1M Boingo hotspots.
Access to Sheraton Club Lounge.

Big Rewards and No Annual Fee

Business owners have their choice of dozens of different credit cards. These products range from premium rewards cards with numerous features and benefits, to simple cards that do little more than offer a convenient method of payment. The challenge for many business owners is finding the right business credit card that meets their needs while offering the best balance of costs and benefits. The Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers generous rewards and attractive promotional financing, with a $0 annual fee.

Why We Like the Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Sign-up bonus. New applicants Earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. as of October 10th 2017
Rewards for spending. Earn 5% cash back in select business categories. Rewards are earned as points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, which can be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, travel reservations, gift cards and merchandise. Points can also be combined with rewards that you’ve earned from other Chase business or consumer credit cards, or the cards of your employees, spouse or domestic partner.
Promotional financing. New accounts receive 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months as of September 14th 2017, with a balance transfer fee of Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. as of October 10th 2017.
Strong benefits. This card comes with several travel insurance and purchase protection benefits. When traveling, you’ll receive auto rental collision damage waiver coverage as well as access to travel and emergency assistance services including roadside dispatch. However, you will be responsible for payment for any services provided.
Low rates and fees. Once the promotional financing offer expires, a 14.24% – 20.24% Variable as of October 10th 2017 APR will apply. The annual fee for the card is $0.
Where the Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Falls Short
Rewards points can’t transfer to travel partners. Other Chase cards that offer Ultimate Rewards points allow cardholders to transfer their points to airline miles and hotel points.
Limits on bonus categories. This card only lets you earn 5x rewards on up to $25,000 in combined purchases from office supply stores and Internet, cable and phone service providers. It also has a separate, $25,000 limit on 2x earnings from gas stations and restaurants. For some business owners, that spending amount may limit their rewards earning potential.
Foreign transaction fees. This card imposes a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars Many rewards cards no longer charge this fee.
High balance transfer fee. The balance transfer fee is higher than most other cards that charge just 3%.
How to Make the Most of Its Perks
Maximize its bonus categories. This card should be at the top of your wallet whenever you need to make a purchase from an office supply store or from a telecommunications provider where you can earn 5x rewards. Earning 2x rewards at gas stations and restaurants is also valuable.
Combine points with other Chase cards. If you have this card as well as a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred, then you can combine your rewards in your other account, and then transfer them to airline and hotel partners. If these points and miles are redeemed for luxury hotel awards, expensive airline tickets in business or first class, then it’s possible to receive more than one cent in value per point.
Utilize the promotional financing offers. A 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months and the 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months as of September 14th 2017 are generous in the business credit card space. Just be sure to pay off your balance before your account anniversary to avoid interest charges.

Secure way for business owners to get the funds they need

Business credit cards offer a quick and secure way for business owners to get the funds they need to run their business smoothly, take advantage of growth opportunities, provide breathing room when business is slow, safeguard personal finances from actions of the business, and more.

We created this guide to set you on a path to make the most out of business credit cards. Here’s a taste of what’s inside:

The incredible advantages of business credit cards
How business credit cards affect both your business AND personal credit
How to find our your approval odds before you apply
The type of business card you should avoid
Hacks to earn rewards and flights from your business credit card
Download The Ultimate Business Credit Card Guide Now For Free.

Nav offers dozens of the top business credit cards, and the most small business financing options available in one place. Sign up for a free Nav account to see your approval odds on business financing options before you apply.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from American Express is a great card for frequent Delta travelers who plan to make a large amount in purchases ($50,000+) on their card each calendar year. This card has a killer signup offer—Earn 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. MQMs help you get closer to reaching Medallion status in the Delta SkyMiles program.

Added benefits:

Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
No foreign transaction fees.
Earn more miles with boost programs: 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after $25,000 in purchases each calendar year, as well as another bonus after $50,000.
Earn a domestic, round-trip companion pass each year you renew the card.
Added Delta bonuses: free checked bag, priority boarding, 20% savings (via a statement credit) on eligible purchases made in-flight.