Archive for August, 2009

Fitness Center or Bowling Alley Bad Ideas

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Question from a reader:”I am thinking of opening up a fitness center or a bowling alley.  I can get the financial backing and I am pretty personable with the public.  I just wanted to ask somebody else if it makes sense because even though times are tough, people still need to keep healthy.  Thanks, Kim.  I love reading your column and can’t imagine how you busy you must be.”

My answer is, first, thanks for the nice words.  Second, I am pretty busy all the time though I try to balance it with repose whenever I can.  Third, it is a tough sell for a fitness center or a bowling alley in the best of times though with that being said, if you have a good location and the competition isn’t too close to you, there may be a chance that you can make it work.

What kills fitness centers and bowling alleys are the fixed costs.  I am talking about salaries, electricity, gas, rent and things that you cannot discount or negotiate because the utility companies and landlord needs to get paid too.  You have to hit the right price point to get people to come and want to subscribe to membership, bowling leagues, etc.

How are you going to handle things if the economy for the short term gets worse and people cut back spending and decide not to go out and start working out at home?  What about bowling leaguers who decide that they need to cut back because they have been laid off work?

If you are great with promotions, can work with city councils and local business groups, you might be able to give discounts to large groups of people and schools and that may get them into your establishments.  I remember one company in Indiana that offered a one year free fitness membership but they were lowering their medical coverage and deductibles and raising their insurance rates so it was kind of a bad thing.  The employees did not end up using the fitness center.

The competition from fitness centers is pretty fierce as well as with trainers.  You are only as good as you look and can get people motivated to stay healthy by working out.  Even then, with the endorphin highs that they get, if things are too costly, they eventually will cut out the gym memberships.

Bowling fans are pretty diehard as well and they are in the same category.  The difference is that there are a lot less bowlers than people working out.  The mark-up on drinks and food in the bowling centers and any income from coin operated machines helps cover the expenses.  If you have a liquor license that can make money though a lot of bowling center bars are only open in the evenings and till closing time (generally 2 o’clock unless there are blue laws in the state you are in).

The bars are usually rented out for bowling parties and there is some income that can be made from parties.

How are you at working with people?  Have you ever been a manager before?

For both a fitness and bowling center you will need to be available 24 hours a day or hire managers you can trust to handle problems like fires, breaking and entry, theft, power failures,etc.  By the way, there have been some fitness centers that have gone green and are using the energy from treadmills to power the center.  That is a great marketing gimmick though I am sure it adds thousands to the development and start up costs of the center.

There are levels of complexity involved with the type of business you decide upon as well.  Are you doing this as a sole prop or a partnership?  A corporation?  These are questions that you will need to answer as well and with each one of them comes another series of questions about handling the details of running the type of business entity that you choose. 

If these are existing businesses, in order to see if they are profitable or not, I would ask to see the books for the last few years.  I would also question about how the neighborhood is doing.  Are you in an area like Detroit where the businesses are hurting and people don’t have money?

Are you in an affluent part of somewhere and it is like the Depression hasn’t happened?  If so, you may do okay unless the national economic pains creep into your area eventually.

Best of luck in whatever you decide but you may want to do some more digging and due diligence before you take the plunge.

Aug 31 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Fitness Center or Bowling Alley Bad Ideas

Plan for your future with contingencies

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Question from a reader:”I am planning on continuing my education and getting a degree in Engineering but I am scared that by the time I get out of college that my skillsets may be obsolete because of new technology.  What should I do, Kim?”

My answer is welcome to the realities of the life that we live and  lead.  I am constantly retraining and re-educating myself and what you will have to do is prepare for a lifetime of retraining.  Oh, it isn’t as bad as you think it is and it does sound terrible.  Consider this though, your brain will be kept young from all the education that you are constantly pouring into it.

I re-train and take 30-90 hours of tax re-certification each year as well as whatever else I need or am interested in.  You need to be disciplined to make a constant effort to want to relearn things.  Once your brain is engaged you should have no problems retraining unless you decide you want to change fields of study.

If you are doing that, be prepared to spend a lot of midnight oil learning things from the ground up.  If for example you are taking a Life Sciences class and you had something similar ten years ago, expect the subject to have changed with new discoveries and a different approach to learning.

My best to you.  You sound like you will do okay and just be ready to retrain.

Here is an excerpt from my new book, “Practical Gaming” that will be coming out in September 2009.  I hope you like it.

EXCERPT FROM “PRACTICAL GAMING” by Kim Isaac Greenblatt

The Coin Toss Casino

Welcome to Kim’s Coin Toss Casino.  We are starting off here so you can get an idea of when you are playing a game what elements you need to take into account.  We are starting off with the one game in my casino, namely flipping a coin. 

There are two sides to the coin-one side is heads and the other one is tails.  The way the game is played is pretty simple.  You call out loud what you think will come out when the coin is tossed in the air, caught and thrown by hand on the back of my other hand.  We will pretend to make this game interesting, since it is a casino, that you bet a dollar for each call and if you call “Heads”, and it comes up “Heads” I pay you a dollar.  If it comes up “Tails”, I pay you the dollar.

Pretty simple, yes?  Are you following me so far?  Great!

Now the odds of you getting the correct call are as follows:

Heads – 50%
Tails   – 50%

That also is reflected as 1 out of 2 for each chance.  That means that there is a one out of two chance that you will toss “Heads” and a one out of two chance that you will toss “Tails”.

That means that all things being fair and equal, with no cheating, no fixed coin, every coin toss gives you an even chance that your call will be the correct one and if you are betting a dollar that you would win $1.

Now for the purposes of this illustration I am not making any money on this in my casino.  I make my money by not having an air conditioner, having my casino in the desert and charging $100 for each glass of water.  As you might imagine, I don’t get too many customers in my casino.

Now we come to the questions and answers that drive gamers  nuts.

Here is the first set-up.  You come to one of my tables and a good looking girl elbows you and says, “Wow, I am on a streak.  I have tossed ‘Heads’ five times in a row.  I think there is no way that I can throw another ‘Heads’.  In fact, the odds are that I am going to throw a ‘Tails’.  It is due.”

Is it? 

The answer is no, the odds are still one out of two that the coin will come up heads.  It is a fifty-fifty shot and it can be that our good looking coin toss girl is just on a lucky streak.

The incorrect observation that the girl presented is called, “The Gambler’s Fallacy.”  The definition of the Gambler’s fallacy is the belief that if deviations from expected behavior are observed in repeated independent trials of some random process then these deviations are likely to be evened out by opposite deviations in the future.

That is quite a mouthful but what it is saying is that just because you have seen something happen with random events, it doesn’t mean that things will balance out while you are there watching them.

So what is the probability that you could flip two heads in a row? 

Well, you have a matrix of flips as follows:

Flip 1: H or T
Flip 2:  H or T

Combinations that result could be:

HT
TH
HH
TT

That should be a 1 out of 4 chance that you would throw two heads back to back.  The interesting thing is that the longer a streak continues, the more likely that you should go with the streak and not consider when it is ending from a math point of view.

How about in your daily life?

That is the end of the excerpt.  For more information, please keep following the blog and you should see the book available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and any fine bookstore within a few weeks.  Part of all sales go to research Rett Syndrome as usual.

Aug 27 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Plan for your future with contingencies

How Did We Live Before Technology Just Fine Thanks

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

How did business get done before technology?  Just fine thanks.   The cliche is that the more things change, the more they remain the same and with technology nothing is more true than that.

Consider this:  Back ten to twenty years ago if you couldn’t reach a person, you left a message on their answering machine and he or she might return your call.

Today:  You text a person on their cell phone and if they are getting tons of texts or e-mails they may or may not return your call.

Consider this:  If you couldn’t reach a person, you would try calling back later back in the day.

Today:  If you don’t get an immediate answer by text or e-mail you frantically start texting or e-mailing and the person gets mad and doesn’t return your call.

With some things I think it would be a great idea to take a technological moritorium for a few weeks.  I am not saying that we give up the technology – far from it – I just want to make sure that we learn to become masters of it instead of becoming the slaves of it.  How many minutes a day do you spend going through e-mail.  Did you ever get that many letters or postcards in your mailbox even with junk mail on your worst days?

Twenty years ago the spam of the day was junk faxing.  People would get junk faxes for everything with phone numbers, mortgage offers and the like.  Hard to think that something like that kind of business – fax spamming – was profitable but somebody must have gotten some business to convince people to pay them to fax for them.

What is everybody’s hurry?  Making money will happen.  The end of the line for everybody’s big rush is a coffin.  How about folks slow it down a little and enjoy life?  The reason for my philosophical leanings is that periodically I take stock of my actions and look around me and ask myself if my quality of life is getting better, worse or maintaining.  The quality of life includes one’s health, happiness as well as wealth and well being of family and friends.

Business deals can wait to some degree if you can plan accordingly and depending on your business and what is going on in your life.  For some people, they are getting forced repose if they are laid off and hopefully they are getting their lives in a rhythm where they keep working.  I will talk more about this later on as well in another post.

If you are getting more efficient and faster just so you can do more work without relaxing, you may be on the way to an early grave.  Try to parse some repose in your life.  I will talk about it in subsequent posts.  In the meantime try a test by turning off your cell phone for a day or two if you can and don’t answer any e-mails.  Let critical need to know people know that you are doing this so they don’t freak out and you don’t lose any important messages.  The trick is to take a break so you will be saner in handling important messages.

Good luck and let me know how it turns out and if you like it.

Aug 26 2009

 

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

How Did We Live Before Technology Just Fine Thanks

Cash For Appliances and My Book

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Welp, my last post was about what was going to happen after “Cash For Clunkers” finished and it seems that nature and Congress are providing with the next program, “Cash For Appliances”.  Money was set aside when the other programs were getting funding for a rebate to get people to buy energy efficient refrigerators and other appliances.

The funds set aside are about $300 million bucks so that should make a small dent though nothing like the billions that were going on in the last few months.  The program should start in a few weeks and should be a rebate of about $50 to $200.  The program will be different in each state and I hope that California is not going to try and hog all the rebate cash for itself when the dust settles.  We, the hungry and unwashed, need the rebates to get energy efficient as well.  The party line is that the states have until Oct 15 to apply for the programs and rebates will be issued in the end of November.

Hooray!

The appliance industry has been clobbered and every little bit helps to get the manufacturers to move merchandise.  As we know though, there are only so many blenders, fridges and air conditioners that you can buy and it may not make a really big difference for the companies but at least it is something. 

Good news is that this program will be on top of the energy programs that are already in place and you won’t have to dump your old appliances to get the rebate.  Another hooray here.

I’ve submitted my new book, Practical Gaming, to the printer and am waiting to get a proof back in a few days.  If you are interested in gaming and want to support Rett Syndrome I invite you to keep following my blog and I will let you know when the book comes out for sale.  I am taking requests for my next book.  Also, if there is enough interest, I will go ahead and make a soft copy of the book for sale. 

At this time, my Kindle sales haven’t been great nor my pdf ones so I am not inclined to add any more titles to the e-book side of my publishing yet.  If there is interest, I may generate a dvd for sales.  People seem to be interested in the self-help videos on Youtube and other sites but whether they will be paying out cash for buying self-help videos or not that remains to be seen.

If my good friend Dan Feingold is reading this he might point out that times and people change- some more than others – and it is always an interesting thing to see if places and people are the same after many years.  With change happening at warp speed these days, it is interesting to see that there is instant “nostalgia” with some things that are only five to ten years old.  I know that teenagers these days are thinking wistfully of things like Pokemon  that they played with as younger kids. 

That accounts for also why in television series or comic books that they have to retell the origin of the super heroes every couple of years and try to remake the character because the audiences tend to move on if they are not true fans or didn’t think it was cool anymore to keep reading comic books.

I suppose if I could tap into what would be the next hip thing I would go ahead and do a book or dvd on it but if I had that kind of psychic power I would be betting that the next car coming down the street is white for $10,000 a pop and make some real money.

The business world is sideways trying to determine – like the stock market – if things are profitable or not.  I expect that the general consensus will be that things are improving slightly but until people are all gainfully employed we are not going to go very far as a country in terms of recovery or growth.

On a happier note – kids are going back to school nationwide and parents are rejoicing – hooray again.

Have a great day everybody and be safe and sane.

Aug 25 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Cash For Appliances and My Book

Life After Cash For Clunkers

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

What are we going to do after the Cash For Clunkers program ends?  Well, recent history has shown us that there will be a dip in automobile sales (that is pretty obvious) but people will still need wheels and for a lot of people who may have their rides break down or decide that they want a newer model they will probably:

1.  Buy a new car anyways if it is something they want.  People who have money and are living off of their investments may have enough cash so that it doesn’t matter immediately if their portfolio doesn’t recover.  They will spend though probably a little more prudently when they want a new car no matter what.

2.  Get another car but will go for a used car because they don’t want to spend a lot of money.  A lot of people,especially parents, are opting to get their kids of driving age used cars instead of new ones simply because they don’t have the cash to make monthly payments for twelve to sixty months.  Neither do their kids.  Even though a lot of cars have been removed from the road we have plenty of older cars out there with good gas mileage that people are trying to sell.

3.  Do without and try to rely on (gasp) public transportation.  This is the default position for a lot of people who are out of work right now.  If they don’t have a need for going to a job interview that is too far away or they can take the bus or subway they will wait and get their car repaired or a new one after they are working again.  For some people this may be a very long time.  Bus passes and rail cards are a lot cheaper than making car payments.  They may even rely on car pooling for grocery shopping with kind neighbors if they have to go to the store.

Remember when two years ago we had GM offering the employee discounts?  Car sales did very well for awhile and then once the discounts stopped, car sales dropped.  The same scenario is going to happen for September and the next couple of months.  By the way, the last quarter of the year tends to be a slow time for car sales with the exceptions being Christmas and New Year’s weekends.  I don’t think that we will see large pops of sales this year but who knows how people may get excited over new models as they are released.

The biggest thing to add life after the Cash For Clunkers program ends to car sales and the economy will be for the government to make it easier for people to get back to work.  If people are working they have no problems signing up for 3 to 5 year car loans so they can get their dream ride.  When people are unemployed, they are often looking to sell off their extra vehicles for cash themselves to pay their bills.

Supposedly the last quarter of the year – and that starts in a week or two – will start to show some signs of recovery.  I don’ think we will have any meaningful recovery until more of America gets employed again.  It is about the economy and money. 

Oh and for all the bruhaha about people thinking that GM will be selling a car under $4000 similar to Tata Motors, please note that they are selling cars at that price outside the United States.  I don’t think even with robots that they can make a roadworthy vehicle for $4000 sale price.  Hmmm, that may be wrong because bicycles are roadworthy and they cost less than a few thousand dollars, except for the high end racing or touring bikes.  No engine and they aren’t freeway safe though.

Today is the options expiration day for August and I am not expecting to see any big changes in the stock market, so you can see more life after the car program continue in other sectors and some pops in balance sheets for the next quarter in the auto industry.

Hope everybody has a great weekend and do what you can to stay out of debt or at the very least pay down your balances.

Aug 22 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Life After Cash For Clunkers

Infrastructure Subway To Sea Update

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Hooray!  Some infrastructure work here in Los Angeles.  The “subway to the sea” concept is moving slowly forward with the announcement on Thursday of  completion of exploratory drillings at 70 locations in the Westside, where proponents envision miles of underground tunnels linking downtown to Santa Monica.

The drillings, critical to determine whether the soil makeup and methane gas content are safe enough to allow for a full-scale tunneling project, come nearly two years after Congress lifted a 21-year ban on tunneling under Wilshire Boulevard.

During Red Line construction in the 1980s there was an underground explosion in the Fairfax area.   The proposed railway would extend the train from Wilshire and Western to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.  Cool.
The story is that the proponents say it will generate 16,000 construction jobs and 134,000 permanent jobs; speed commutes to the Westside of Los Angeles.  That would reduce pollution and traffic congestion because a lot of people work in the Westside after Downtown LA.
If eventually approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the project is expected to cost $4.1 billion to $9 billion and to be partially funded by November’s Measure R voter approved sales tax measure.

Out of the 88 cities in the County only 3 will directly benefit and there is a lot of heat because residents of the Valleys will be paying for something that they will not benefit from.  I can see their point but we had a bus line built here which didn’t serve the Westside, didn’t we?

Early drilling results per the Metro according to news releases claim that the samples for drilling should be okay.  We will wait and see.
Metro officials say the subway would reduce travel time to the Westside about 30 percent to 60 percent from various parts of Southern California compared with existing bus and rail lines.

Metro is considering two options for the subway route: a Wilshire subway that extends the Metro Purple Line via Wilshire Boulevard and a Wilshire/West Hollywood subway that incorporates all of the Wilshire subway and also includes a spur from the Metro Red Line in Hollywood via Santa Monica Boulevard. It is true that the Westside has been identified as having the county’s second highest density of jobs after downtown, with some 310,000 people traveling there every day.

  The proposed subway line is a good thing.  Measure R is expected to provide $4.1 billion in funding, and Metro is expected to get matching federal funds. If approved, construction is expected to start in 2012 or 2013 and be completed in a decade according to Mayor Villaraigosa.

With the creation of new jobs and a better infrastructure it sounds like it will be a profitable venture all around for business and for the local government.  More business means more tax revenue.

I am all for it and hope the next step will be to turn the areas around the LA river into a walking giant outdoor garden and mall.  Well, I can dream, can’t I?  

The stock market is up and that is partially because it is an options expiration day and that means that anybody shorting who borrowed cash is trying to close their position while the market makers squeeze the cash out of them.  There is a time to short and a time to just buy and hold.  Right now it is a time to watch because for today it is too late to do anything that will impact your bottom line if you are a day trader unless you have specific stocks or minerals you are watching.

I will talk about my thoughts on Cash For Clunkers and what it will be like afterwards in my entry tomorrow.  Be safe and happy people and have a great Friday and weekend!

Aug 21 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

 Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Infrastructure Subway To Sea Update

Most Future Predictors Are Wrong

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Question from a reader:”What do you think of the real estate market a few years from now?  There was an article on the web about what property will look like in 2012 and some areas look like they will recover.”

My answer is that I read the same article and like most future predictors about business or a company’s profitable situation, they probably have some of it right and most of it wrong.  I will give you my take on the real estate markets at the end of this piece.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that people over-react.  In business and in their personal lives people get too excited over the good news – “Oh look our stocks are going up.  We will always get 25% returns annually on our investments.” People also get too bummed out over the downer news – “Our stocks tanked 59% and they will never recover.”

To be fair, in some cases tanked stocks, if you picked the wrong ones, may never recover.  That isn’t to say that you might not make money back in other investments though.

Getting back to the article, it doesn’t take a lot of forecasting to figure out that Los Angeles and California real estate prices might drop for a few more years.  The proper questions to ask though are – what if business picks up, what is the government doing to help business, what about communities where the property values are stabilized and will probably continue to be at the same level and lightly float down till 2012 when whatever is suppose to happen will happen.

When I see regions like Cleveland Ohio set up to have great property values recovered by 2012 I ask myself (and you should too) – “How?”  The article didn’t state what the region is doing to attract commerce.  As investors in Detroit are finding out, yes, you can get great deals but you are going to be sitting on them for a long time because there isn’t any business around to support payrolls that will in turn support people to live in your house, send kids to school, shop in nice, safe supermarkets etc.

I also was in South Carolina and even though I saw some development down there things were also slow.  People were moving in from up North and they were looking for work like everybody else was who was living there.

I believe that areas that have government money for small, tightly populated areas will do okay and they will appreciate a bit over the next few years.  I think like a lot of places, once the spending stops though if you don’t have enough local business that can support itself, it will dry up. 

The one thing about the Southern California area that is interesting is that there are a lot of small to mid-size companies that don’t get written up or videoblogged that are doing okay and can weather the Depression out for awhile.  The standard rule of thumb that if you have people you can have commerce is very true because you have your consumers and producers working in the same area.

It is pretty easy to look at time frames a few years out and make educated guesses on what is happening now but that is all that they are, educated guesses.

When I make my predictions on things they are the same deal.  I just to couch them more with warnings and caveats because I am too much of a realist and I don’t like reading misleading information myself if I can help it.

My advice to you and to all my readers – and to all the kids reading this on their cell phones, iPods and the latest and greatest tech is to do your own due diligence as part of listening to the psychic or “educated” guesses.  Most people don’t have a clue and if you look and listen with common sense you can get a better idea of what is going on not only in business but in your personal life as well.

As for what I see real estate in the future?  If you have a decent business climate, you will have people flock to your area regardless of the weather.  A decent climate attracts people but doesn’t insure that the real estate market is going to take off.  If there is work, people will want to set down their roots and buy homes.  Is it over simplification?  Sure, but it is the way things work.  So, barring the end of the world scenarios which I don’t think will happen in 2012, if business has been encouraged to grow, home values will go up because salaries and wages will go up and people will bid for desirable land and digs.  Shockingly boring, isn’t it?

 Be healthy, wealthy and wise, gang!

August 20 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Most Future Predictors Are Wrong

How To File Taxes If Laid Off

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

What should you do or plan to do if you are out of work and have to file taxes?

The first order of business is to see if you hit the threshold for having to file.  If you were laid off in 2009, the chances are that you made some money and you may want to try to file to see if you can get back some of the taxes that you paid in the form of a refund.

Did you get a lump sum severance package?  If so, were enough taxes taken out of it?  If not, you should think about putting aside some of the money now or better yet pay your quarterly taxes with it so you don’t have a tax liability and possible penalty later on.  If you are hungry and trying to just keep a roof over your head I understand that you have other more immediate priorities but I wanted to just gently remind you in case things get better for you and you end up back on your feet sooner than you think.

The Fed and the respective State governments will work with you if you owe current taxes and they will try to make things easier if you owe back taxes if you approach them rather than having to wait for them to come to you.  Remember that the govt at all levels, Fed and States, need cash.  We are in a Depression and they need to make up for lost income as much as you and I do.  Everybody is trying to become profitable again.

Even if April 2010 is still some time away, it is important to start planning now while there is still time and the ability to mitigate any tax damage that might happen between now and then.

If you had money taken out for taxes for the Fed but not enough because of the Make Work Pay Program (remember that back in Feb 09?) where the Fed had employers take out less in withholding you will want to double check with the tax tables (available at the IRS website or check with me via post or email or your tax person) to estimate what kind of tax situation you might be facing.

For your review from the IRS, here are some tables to ball park your tax liability.  Please double check with your tax pro and the IRS in case of any questions and verify that the numbers we are using and you are checking with are right.
2009 federal tax tables are divided into four sections based on your filing status: single, married filing jointly, married filling separately, head of household.

Filing status: SINGLE
Use this schedule to figure out your tax if you are filing as single.

10% on income between $0 and $8,350
15% on the income between $8,350 and $33,950; plus $835.50
25% on the income between $33,950 and $82,250; plus $4,675.00
28% on the income between $82,250 and $171,550; plus $16,750.00
33% on the income between $171,550 and $372,950; plus $41,754.00
35% on the income over $372,950; plus $109,216.00
(Tax Rate Schedule X)

Filing status: MARRIED FILING JOINTLY
Use this schedule to figure out your tax if you are filing as married filing jointly.

10% on the income between $0 and $16,700
15% on the income between $16,700 and $67,900; plus $1,670.00
25% on the income between $67,900 and $137,050; plus $9,350.00
28% on the income between $137,050 and $208,850; plus $26,637.50
33% on the income between $208,850 and $372,950; plus $46,741.50
35% on the income over $372,950; plus $100,894.50
(Tax Rate Schedule Y-1)

Filing status: MARRIED FILING SEPARATELY
Use this schedule to figure out your tax if you are filing as married filing separately.

10% on the income between $0 and $8,350
15% on the income between $8,350 and $33,950; plus $835.00
25% on the income between $33,950 and $68,525; plus $4,675.00
28% on the income between $68,525 and $104,425; plus $13,318.75
33% on the income between $104,425 and $186,475; plus $23,370.75
35% on the income over $186,475; plus $50,447.25
(Tax Rate Schedule Y-2)

Filing status: HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
Use this schedule to figure out your tax if you are filing as head of household.

10% on the income between $0 and $11,950
15% on the income between $11,950 and $45,500; plus $1,195.00
25% on the income between $45,500 and $117,450; plus $6,227.50
28% on the income between $117,450 and $190,200; plus $24,215.00
33% on the income between $190,200 and $372,950; plus $44,585.00
35% on the income over $372,950; plus $104,892.50
(Tax Rate Schedule Z)

Again, the tables are ballpark.  You should have a tax pro work with you or take some time to go through the details yourself if you are tax work inclined.  There are other situations where if you are making a lot of interest income that you still may required to file and other situations where even though you didn’t hit the dollar levels, you still may have to or want to file.

There is a lot of stuff working its way through Congress and tax changes will no doubt be finalized between Oct and Feb of this and next year respectively.  The State changes you will need to wait for as well since a lot of States do follow the Fed changes.  Where I can I will post what comes up for the Fed and for California since I have a direct interest in it.  I do multi-state returns so if you have a question or issue please e-mail or post me and I will do what I can to help you.

Hope you will be doing better in the months to come.  Please make sure that you have a roof over your and your loved ones heads, food on the table and clothes on your backs.

Aug 19 2009

 

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

How To File Taxes If Laid Off

First Important Tax Item Is Filing Status

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Question from a reader: “What is the most important thing in getting ready to file income taxes, Kim?”

My answer is that there are several things but the first and number one important thing is to make sure that you get the filing status correct.  The filing status as set by the Federal government and by the State governments as well if they tax you at the state, county or city level generally is the driver of what credits, deductions and benefits you can take.  At the Federal level, I have talked about this before and it doesn’t hurt to revisit the different statuses.

The IRS (google them, you will find them, trust me),  has more detail than you probably are interested in on the subject but let me try and bring the key points home here:

There are five filing statuses:

Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.

If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that will give you the lowest tax.

Marital Status
In general, your filing status depends on whether you are considered unmarried or married. For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

Unmarried persons.   You are considered unmarried for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

  State law governs whether you are married or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

Divorced persons.    If you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year.

Divorce and remarriage.   If you obtain a divorce in one year for the sole purpose of filing tax returns as unmarried individuals, and at the time of divorce you intended to and did remarry each other in the next tax year, you and your spouse must file as married individuals.

Annulled marriages.   If you obtain a court decree of annulment, which holds that no valid marriage ever existed, you are considered unmarried even if you filed joint returns for earlier years. You must file amended returns (Form 1040X) claiming single or head of household status for all tax years affected by the annulment that are not closed by the statute of limitations for filing a tax return. The statute of limitations generally does not expire until 3 years after your original return was filed.

Head of household or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.   If you are considered unmarried, you may be able to file as a head of household or as a qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child. See Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child to see if you qualify.

Married persons.   If you are considered married for the whole year, you and your spouse can file a joint return, or you can file separate returns.

Considered married.   You are considered married for the whole year if on the last day of your tax year you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.
You are married and living together as husband and wife.

You are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage began.

You are married and living apart, but not legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance.

You are separated under an interlocutory (not final) decree of divorce. For purposes of filing a joint return, you are not considered divorced.
Spouse died during the year.   If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year for filing status purposes.

  If you did not remarry before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse. For the next 2 years, you may be entitled to the special benefits described later under Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.

  If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return with your new spouse. Your deceased spouse’s filing status is married filing separately for that year.

Married persons living apart.   If you live apart from your spouse and meet certain tests, you may be considered unmarried. If this applies to you, you can file as head of household even though you are not divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household instead of as married filing separately, your standard deduction will be higher. Also, your tax may be lower, and you may be able to claim the earned income credit. See Head of Household, later.

Single
Your filing status is single if, on the last day of the year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree, and you do not qualify for another filing status. To determine your marital status on the last day of the year, see Marital Status, earlier.

Widow(er).   Your filing status may be single if you were widowed before January 1, 2007, and did not remarry before the end of 2007. However, you might be able to use another filing status that will give you a lower tax. See Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child, later, to see if you qualify.

How to file.   You can file Form 1040EZ (if you have no dependents, are under 65 and not blind, and meet other requirements), Form 1040A, or Form 1040. If you file Form 1040A or Form 1040, show your filing status as single by checking the box on line 1. Use the Single column of the Tax Table, or Section A of the Tax Computation Worksheet, to figure your tax.

Married Filing Jointly
You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.

If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.

***

For more information, you can check with the IRS and you may be interested in checking out my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea” for some tips that accountants and tax professionals might not give you.  You can find that book on Amazon (you can google to find that too).  All information posted here is for you to review and for more serious study and tax prepatation, kindly due your own research or consult your tax pro!

Good luck with your thoughts on Filing Statuses for Taxes!

Aug 18 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

First Important Tax Item Is Filing Status

Work the Brain

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Question from a reader:”Why should I bother going to college when I am going to probably join the military?”

My answer is that you still need to work the brain.  The military is just like any other business and if you look at recruiting information you can get more money by having more skills.  More skills result from having a better education.  Let us presume too that the Depression we are in won’t last forever.  What are you going to do for work if there are more people who have better qualifications than you?

The same will hold true in the military.  The Army wants to have soldiers who know their stuff in technology as do the Navy, Air Force and Marines.  You will not get the promotions that you want (nor the extra income) if you are an uneducated grunt.

You also will get a great opporunity to start thinking (hopefully) a little bit more about things in life as you pursue a higher education.  I will also throw in that getting an education is a gift because unlike grade school, in college, you can have a choice for what classes that you want to learn.

Talk to your friends and also a recruiting officer (unless he just wants to get you to sign up) for more information.  Anytime you can get an opportunity to work your brain, you should take it.  In the current business climate, heck, in any climate, there is always competition for resources.  If you were an employer or the military and you want to have the best, greatest candidate that you can for the position, you would want to see what kind of education they had, right?  Just simple economics.

This holds true also for older people and is one of the reasons that they are flocking back to school in droves.  They not only want to retrain to still be able to work but so that they can also keep themselves from getting infirm.  Brain deterioration happens from disease and also like anything else, from not using your muscle or organ.  So help yourself out and do what you can to keep your brain working.

Question from a reader:”I am over 62, live in California with my lady friend who is 67 and we are not married.  Can we qualify for Qualified Domestic Partner?  Thanks.”

My answer is based on the information that you provided, sure, you can qualify.  The term is also Registered Domestic Partner or abbreviated with the acronym RDP.  You may need to register and on the website for California Franchise Tax Board, check out publication, 737, Tax Information For Registered Domestic Partners.  At the Federal level you still would file as both being single or one being the Head of Household for the other if that applies and you hit the qualifications.  At the point that you are over 62, you need not be of the same gender for the State of California for RDP status.  You just need to pay attention to the differences and situations between the Fed and State tax filing requirements.

At the State of California level you would file as Married Filing Jointly.  You will have to mail in your tax return since you cannot e-file (yet) RDP tax returns for the California system.  Also pay attention to the community property rules.  Remember that California is a community property state and that you will have to split income evenly if you end up filing Married Filing Separately or if you are dividing up things that can be divided for the purposes of income tax filing.

When in doubt, contact a tax pro and you can see that I am open to taking clients right now.  Thanks for asking me the questions, please keep them coming. 

Oh, and before I forget, remember that for the purposes of taxes, don’t forget that quarterly tax filing is coming up and if you haven’t completed your work on your tax extensions that you have to start getting things ready for the October 2009 deadline.  I know it has been a rough year for business and people in general but you still need to get your taxes completed.

August 17 2009

Also, please  don’t quite go anywhere yet.  Having some tax issues or tax questions?  Any problems with trying to make it through the financial Depression we are in that is making you depressed?  Please read on.

I am expanding  my practice and taking on new tax clients.  If you are interested in having somebody who is a successful businessman and tax professional with integrity review your returns discretely and see if your tax guy or gal is doing a good or goofy job, please drop me an email or post a comment with your contact information and time.

I have experience in international business, small businesses, partnerships, multi-state tax returns (they can get complicated) and anything else you can probably think of.

I also do business consulting and have ran several businesses (still running a few) myself so you are in good hands.

If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book, Practical Money Making, that is listed right after his paragraph in this very post. There are some great suggestions and ways to survive the Depression we are in.

Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Interested in any of my books? You may want to make a stop over here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale.

Have you read my book, “Bad Tax Idea, Good Tax Idea“? Please order it today. The tips inside can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Tax planning should be done year round and not just two weeks into January or later.

Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book go to Rett Syndrome research. One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes. My daughter Arianna has Rett.  Thanks for your support.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Work the Brain