Implement Aurelia Weems’ Tax Planning Strategy To Pay Less On Taxes This Year

It’s true — there are certain people for whom this note doesn’t apply. There are those who are perfectly fine paying the amount of tax they pay every year, thank you very much.

However, since YOU have chosen to invest yourself in our services (or at one point considered it), you are probably in the second group: those who would love to pay less in taxes, THIS year.

If that’s the case, well, there are two main things you need to understand:

Weems’ Irrefutable Fact #1: Our tax system is not fair.

It is too true — the Elon Musks, Warren Buffetts, Mark Zuckerbergs, etc. operate under a vastly different system than most “regular” taxpayers. This is NOT because they are politically-connected (though they are), but because of the people they have who do wonders on their behalf.

And the sooner you quit complaining about those who *seem* to be connected … and make the decision to JOIN their ranks, the sooner you will pay less in taxes.

Because all of those people, and other people like them, understand the second fact…

Weems’ Irrefutable Fact #2: A tax return is a report, NOT a strategy.

Yes, we’re pretty good at coming behind with our magic brushes and cleaning up the mess made by many of our The Woodlands clients in their finances and taxes. But there is a much better way to fly.

It’s called tax planning strategy, and it’s essentially comprised of three parts:

1) Strategic review:

Assess the current situation, and identify short-, mid-, and long-term strategies to lessen your taxes, and grow your income.

2) Implementation:

This can be a little tricky (especially if you do it yourself), because there are bound to be accounting and local regulatory questions which arise. We recommend that you stay with your same team who developed the tax strategy so they make sure you’re doing what you need to do.

3) Proper compliance:

There are plenty of people out there who will give you “the secrets to paying less taxes!!!” — but are they willing to put their name on a dotted line and defend it? If not, RUN from these people. They are hype artists. Or worse, they know that their advice will lead to a fraudulent return.

The main thing to understand is that in order to REALLY get your tax situation improved, you MUST plan ahead.

Otherwise, you’re just cleaning up a mess that was already made (and can’t be fixed) when filing your tax return.

This is all especially true with the brand new 
tax code in place for this year.

The good news is that there is still plenty of time to do some great work on your 2018 taxes, even now that we are headed into the final quarter. We have a pretty full couple of months ahead of us with extension returns, but we can still schedule a time to talk about ways to better your tax strategy now, so that we aren’t just cleaning up after a mess.

Call my office this week: (936) 273-1188 (or reply to this note through the email us button at the top of the page) and request one of our limited Tax Planning Saver Sessions. During this session, we will analyze your current situation and identify clear action steps for the last quarter of 2018 — designed to save your bottom line hundreds (or even thousands).

You CAN control your tax strategy … and we can help.

Until then…

Aurelia Weems

(936) 273-1188

Aurelia E Weems, CPA

 

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Tax Reform Has Opened Up Many Tax Strategy Opportunities We Can Implement For The Woodlands Families And Individuals

I can’t believe it, but here we are, almost done with the month of August (!), school is already starting in many areas where we serve clients, and football is again being discussed as something to pay attention to. This summer has absolutely FLOWN by — and those of us who pay attention to politics are already tired of all of the midterm electioneering.

Frankly, it’s my opinion that “those of us who pay attention to politics” is a smaller number than it used to be, but that’s a story for another day.

But speaking of politics, you are probably aware that with the brand new tax code in front of us, that there are some brand new ways that YOU might be able to save on your taxes this year.

However, most of these opportunities are only available to those who take action BEFORE the year closes out.

Sure, we have some time — more than an entire quarter — but you and I both know that the pace doesn’t slow down, come fall.

And our national conversations aren’t doing any of us any favors. All we seem to hear about is division, seeming chaos, poor leadership all across the political spectrum, and international turmoil.

Which is why it’s so important for you to maintain your peace in the midst of it all.

Look — it’s no mystery, probably, why I choose to write so often about maintaining the proper perspective. We see clients from The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia in here regularly, and you probably wouldn’t believe how often we have the same kinds of conversations. Finances touch a deep place of security (and fear) for so many, NO MATTER how much is in the bank accounts.

From the very well-off, to those deep in debt … everyone can pick and choose their poison these days, when it comes to fear.

I often play the role of counselor, in addition to helping my clients navigate their way through tax and financial decisions. Because The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia families and individuals can make rash decisions in times of perceived crisis — and they often have unforeseen wealth complications that stem from those decisions down the road.

Which is why it’s critical that we take a look at how things are set up (tax-wise) for you and your family for the rest of 2018.

There are too many opportunities now for us to sit idly by.

And with school coming back, it is the perfect time to take a clear-eyed look at things, and plan for the best way to save as much as absolutely possible.

Aurelia Weems

(936) 273-1188

Aurelia E Weems, CPA

 

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The Woodlands Families Should Not Neglect Estate Planning

estate planningHow is your summer rolling along for you? I’d love it if you sent us an update on what you have been doing … even if it’s just a personal update. (You can send us an email through the link at the top of the page.) We take great joy in knowing that our work is being done on behalf of some pretty incredible individuals and families, and getting a closer look into the personal lives of our clients and friends gives us fuel!

This is especially helpful if you have had any changes on the financial front! We’d love to get ahead of what’s happening in your financial life, so that we’re not scrambling at the end of the year to take full tax advantage on your behalf (or, even worse, after the year is done, during tax prep time). But again, even just a personal update would be welcomed!

As you may gather, we are compulsive planners — which means that even if YOU don’t happen to be one, you get to leverage our idiosyncrasies on your behalf. Everybody wins.

And we like to help you think through every aspect of your personal, financial world. And an often-neglected part of many people’s financial world is an effective estate plan. 

It’s a sad reality that over 50% of adults do NOT have a will or other estate planning instruments in place to protect themselves and their family. And, perhaps even worse, over 69% of parents have not yet named legal guardians who can raise their children if something happens to them. (And by “in place”, I mean something that would be legally recognized — not an “idea” that hasn’t been properly notated).

Those are scary numbers. Estate plans obviously provide great peace-of-mind for The Woodlands families (and even for single individuals) … and, of course, they can create a bunch of headaches if not handled correctly.

Believe me, we’ve seen some problems in our day.

Which is why it always helps to have someone in your corner. Whether or not we speak into your situation directly, we can also bring in specialized counsel. We aim to be your advisors in all things financial, whether we have “skin in the game” (i.e. we get paid for it) or not. Our The Woodlands clients are our family, and we want to see you treated well by those who serve you.

So, please consider this…

The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia Families Should Not Neglect Estate Planning
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

You may have established an estate plan in the past, or you may not have gotten around to it, but it is critical that you ALWAYS have an up-to-date plan. 

Most people are smart enough to keep their car in good working order — it requires oil changes, an annual physical check-up, etc. But I’m always surprised by the common misconception about how often they should have their estate plan reviewed.

You see, most people see estate planning as something you “do once” and never have to think about again. That’s just flat incorrect.

Just like your health can take a dramatic turn (for the better or worse) in a year, your estate planning decisions can change dramatically in a short period. Sometimes, something simple happens, such as an out-of-state move by the people you’ve identified to serve as the guardians for your minor children. That’s just one of many good reasons to revisit your estate planning decisions.

Plus, though there’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the higher estate tax threshold, there are many ways in which out-of-date plans can be “burned”, by not complying with new laws.

Your estate plan is a “living and breathing” plan (at least when done right) and therefore has to be maintained to reflect your life as it is today.

Second, PLEASE ensure you have chosen the proper executor. 

Whether you’re dealing with significant sums, or with a more modest estate, choosing the person to handle these transactions is a critical decision for EVERY The Woodlands family.

It’s always a great idea to get professional advice in making these selections. But, if you choose to “go it alone” for some reason, here’s what you need to keep in mind as you consider who will be your executor:

An executor must:

 * Obtain certified copies of your death certificate
* Locate Will beneficiaries
* Examine and inventory your safe deposit boxes
* Collect your mail
* Cancel credit cards and subscriptions
* Notify the SSA and other benefit plan administrators of your death
* Learn about your property, which may involve examining bank statements, deeds, insurance policies, tax returns and other records
* Get bank accounts covered by the Will released
* Place notices in newspapers so creditors can make claims
* Hire a probate attorney

Either the executor or the probate attorney must:

 * File court papers to start the probate process and obtain legal authority to act as your executor
* Manage your assets during the probate process, which usually takes six months to a year
* Handle court-supervised probate matters, including transfer of property to your beneficiaries and making sure your final debts and taxes are paid
* Have final income tax forms prepared, and, if necessary, have estate tax returns for your estate prepared and filed

Of course, the open probate process is something you will absolutely want to minimize and even avoid. A sound plan does this.

But this right here (the choice of executor), is where it starts. In the future, I’ll have more to say on the subject of an executor and why that choice is so important.

More to come. And again, we’re in your corner.

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Achieve Financial Independence in The Woodlands by Outsourcing

financial independenceIf you pay close attention to the news media (which I don’t advise, but in our digital world, it can be unavoidable), you might be feeling a weight, almost as if there is a sense of impending doom. I saw a recent survey that indicated that almost one third of respondents felt that we could be headed towards a second civil war.

That is not a happy thought.

And it might also cause us to feel that the events we celebrate on July 4th are in the very (very) distant past.

But I still believe that, seen in light of the circumstances of the age, the Declaration of Independence was an act of incredible bravery by many people who had plenty to lose by adding their names to it. It’s one of many inspiring acts by our founders, and rightly worth tossing rockets into the air to celebrate and honor (if not more than that!).

As John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife on July 3rd, 1776:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

It is America’s 242nd birthday today. Let us pray that we have reason to continue celebrating for many decades to come.

Now, speaking further of financial independence, I believe that many of my The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia clients (probably you among them) already “get” much of what I write about as it relates to debt, avoiding taxes, and other basic financial strategies. Financial freedom, if you will.

But sometimes there are “non-financial” decisions we’ve made or attitudes we’ve fostered that creep into how we approach our careers, our finances, or even our families — and they actually rob us of independence.

Here’s what I mean…

Achieve Financial Independence in The Woodlands, Conroe or Magnolia by Outsourcing
“You will never win if you never begin.” – Robert Schuller

There are many people who are handier, when it comes to fixing things around the home.

But rather than beat myself up over this lack, I’ve begun to embrace my limited ways, and have learned to see why this “deficiency” enables me to think bigger, and grow wealth.

It’s probably healthy to admit that most things you simply cannot do (with apologies to the very “handy” among us): You probably aren’t going to redo the roof on your house. You likely don’t have a clue how to knock down a wall to open up the downstairs. If the toilet stops working and the plunger and Drano don’t work, you’re calling the plumber. Likewise, you might pay someone to work on your car because you either don’t know how to or you’d rather have a professional do it.

But one of the common messages which even the wealthiest among us find ourselves adhering to is: “Do it all yourself and you will save money.” Don’t hire a house cleaner, don’t go out to eat, don’t pay someone to do your yardwork. Do it yourself and save money.

Is that actually wise?

What if we, instead took this as our ethos: “Outsource everything you can and focus on building your wealth.”

Some people have the time or the motivation to do things other people would outsource. I know plenty of people in The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia who simply *like* to change their car’s oil. But I also know people too busy (and too productive) to mow their own grass. So you have to decide what aspects of your life are worth outsourcing.

For fathers and mothers, there’s plenty that you perhaps *shouldn’t* outsource: raising your children, engaging with charities, loving your spouse (!).

But conversely, there are likely to be plenty of tasks that sap your energy, drain your productivity (in the home AND in your work pursuits), and which can be successfully handled by an hourly earner.

Personally, I hope to make it possible that I’m so productive I have to outsource just about everything that I’d rather not do. Said differently, I want to move towards the place where all I do is work on great projects, help my amazing clients, love my family well — and pay people to do just about everything else for me.

In my opinion, this is true financial independence.

And sometimes, it’s important to make certain shifts in this direction before we’re as “ready” as we’d like. It may, in fact, initiate a virtuous cycle of productivity that brings us to where we want to be.

Because we then free up the space to do MORE of what we alone can best do. In this way, even before we “feel rich”, we can achieve greater financial independence in our actual, day-to-day lives.

What do you think you can move off of your plate today?

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Aurelia Weems’ Four Tips On How To Think About Money

how to think about moneyIt’s been a great pleasure to reconnect with some The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia clients this past week, as we have had the opportunity to conspire together about building their financial fortress, with the “new” tax law in mind.

There are still plenty of provisions within these new tax regulations for which the IRS has not yet issued clear guidance, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some very solid plans for people like you to implement — all so that we do NOT have to play catch-up next year during tax preparation time.

Meeting with these clients has reminded me about how so many of our financial decisions are driven by *how* we think about money. And, obviously, this subject could be the basis for an entire education, but I thought I might offer you some basic tricks I’ve used to fool my brain into thinking properly about money.

Because the fact is that our instincts are NOT always correct when it comes to how we think about and spend our money.

That’s why these principles on how to think about money might be useful to you.

Aurelia Weems’ Four Tips On How To Think About Money
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey

It’s still a bit of a mystery why we make some of the decisions that we make.

And that’s especially true when it comes to finances.

If you have ever read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (who, along with Amos Tversky, has been credited with being the father of modern behavioral economics), then you know how easily we can be fooled by our assumptions, fears and false intuitions.

Which is why it’s useful to put some basic principles into practice when we make decisions about money. This is besides, of course, the regular practices of following a budget, saving, investing and avoiding most kinds of debt.

These are some of the principles that you should be thinking about when you are creating that budget or making the decisions about those investments and savings plans.

Here are four principles I’ve used, and which I commend to you…

1) Opportunity costs
What do you need to give up in order to get something you want? It’s almost always a question of money, but also one that involves time and value.

Pursuing an advanced degree may take years — are you willing to put in that amount of time? Will a sports car give you enough enjoyment to offset going into debt for it?

Whatever decision you end up making about how you are investing your money, should also be applied to how you think about your time. Sometimes it really does pay to invest in a lawn care service so that you can free yourself up to do more “valuable” work on behalf of your family.

2) Sunk costs
This is money you can’t get back — a non-refundable airline ticket, for example. The idea here is that you need to keep sunk costs in the proper perspective. It’s easy to start thinking, “Well, I’ve already spent $100, so what’s another $25?” You’ve got to be willing to walk away sometimes.

Once something is paid for, and cannot be refunded, it shouldn’t impact your future financial decisions. It is a “sunk” cost, i.e., water under the bridge, and whatever you do in the future won’t ever get it back.

3) Quick Interest Calculations: The Rule of 72
Want to double your holdings? The Rule of 72 can tell you how long it will take, based on the specific interest rate. Just divide 72 by the interest rate.

For example, if you’re looking at an investment with an interest rate of 6 percent, then 72 divided by 6 gets you an answer of 12 years.

This is a rough estimate, of course, but it’s pretty effective.

In fact, you can also turn the equation around to determine the interest rate you’re looking at if someone promises to double your returns in a set amount of time. Twice as much money in 12 years? Divide 72 by 12 and you get an interest rate of 6 percent. This rule lets you evaluate investment opportunities quickly and decide where to put your money.

4) The time value of money
According to this principle, a dollar you receive today is worth more than a dollar you’ll get tomorrow. You’ll have opportunity to invest that dollar immediately and begin earning more revenue from it (and also avoid losing value because of inflation).

Again, this helps you make certain calls about your purchases — and your income. It’s the old “a bird in the hand” theory in action for your wallet.

These four principles have served me well over the years.

Are there any that you think I have missed? Do you have questions? I’d love to hear from you, so shoot me an email through the email button at the top of the page with your thoughts.

Until next time.

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Aurelia Weems’ Tax Savings Strategies Stop Loaning The Government Your Money

tax savingsThe government doesn’t need a loan from you… that’s what the Federal Reserve is for.

That said, the most recent Treasury statement shows that the Feds collected a record $1,143,141,000,000 in individual income taxes through the first eight months of fiscal 2018 — that’s $1.1 TRILLION — and still, the government ran a $532.2 BILLION deficit those same months.

So perhaps they will be asking all of us for “loans” in the future.

However, you certainly don’t need to make their job any easier, right?

That’s why, if you haven’t already done so, it’s a very good time to make some tax moves.

Here’s what I mean…

Aurelia Weems’ Tax Savings Strategies Stop Loaning The Government Your Money
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” – Will Rogers

We have a funny job when we prepare our The Woodlands clients’ taxes.

Because, well, we have learned that many people consider it a “win” when they receive a refund back from the Federal (or state) government.

However, as it actually happens: this is a loss on your books.

You probably understand this already, but when you receive a refund, what this really means is that you have been been “loaning” the government your money all year.

A refund means that you overpaid, yes? So, this week, let’s stop overpaying.

And while there are certain exceptions to this principle (e.g. certain people with lower incomes who pay little-to-no tax), that little rush of joy you may have felt by “finding money” via a refund is a trick your mind is playing upon you, and should be checked against the reality that you have lost the usage of that money ALL YEAR, while big Uncle Sam has been (over)spending it on your behalf.

And they don’t pay you any interest, by the way.

So, with new tax rates from the recent legislation (the TCJA), it is well beyond time for you to take a look at your withholding, and likely make some adjustments.

And this is especially true if you have children. Under the prior tax law, the child tax credit (CTC) was $1,000 for each eligible youngster. The TCJA doubled that to $2,000 for each qualifying child.

Depending on your “prolificness”, that could be some serious savings right there.

But in addition to that, there are brand new tax tables to take into account, as well as all kinds of tax savings that we are eager to find for you (via tax planning, if you’ll let us).

So here’s a good idea:

To begin, all you have to do is take your cash flow for this first half of the year, and multiply by two. (Project forward through the end of this month, June). Add up your wages, dividends, interest, and any other income, and then — if this represents approximately what you’re expecting for the second half of the year — double the sum.

By then comparing this against your projected withholding, you can adjust the withholding on your paycheck in advance as needed, and ensure a happy visit to our The Woodlands office in the early winter.

This can also be a good time to organize your financial records or get started with some financial software. (YNABMVelopesQuicken, etc.) Getting organized now can make finding even more deductions a breeze, come tax time.

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Delayed Gratification: Staying Focused to Get Ahead (Later) in The Woodlands

delayed gratificationFor sports fans, that was quite a run last week. The NHL crowned its champion (and the nation’s capital seemed like it was one massive street party for the weekend), the rest of the NBA conceded to the Golden State Warriors, and we witnessed another Triple Crown in horse racing.

Now, well … there’s baseball.

But this is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned, and for anyone who is a sports fan, because it allows you even greater incentive to free your mind from these smaller (albeit enjoyable) things, and to move your life forward in a fruitful direction.

Last week, I wrote about FOCUS, and the difficulties which the summer can bring to that task. And it is a “task”, because as I said, it’s not just the summer that preys against our personal productivity … it’s everything that *we* allow in.

I thought I’d take up the subject once more today, but before I do, a few quick tax things for The Woodlands taxpayers:

1) Reminder that estimated taxes for the 2nd quarter of 2018 are due Friday, June 15th. Let us know if you need any help with that. We’re in your corner.

2) (This shouldn’t apply to any existing clients) Thursday, June 14th is the deadline to avoid more serious late-filing penalties for your 2017 taxes. If, for some reason, you (or perhaps one of your friends) has NOT filed their taxes yet, a higher penalty scheme kicks in after Thursday. This is because the IRS offers a 60-day window after the initial filing deadline (April 17th this year), during which penalties are smaller.

So, I know you’re not a delinquent … but if you have a friend who might be, let’s help them avoid any further unnecessary fees.

And again, we’re here to help: (936) 273-1188

And speaking of delinquency. Let’s talk again about your focus. Because it’s something we all need to become more and more ruthless about in this heavily-distracted age…

Delayed Gratification: Staying Focused to Get Ahead (Later) in The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia
“You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.” – Zig Ziglar

Recently, I was reading about a study done years ago regarding the effects of instant gratification…

Edited excerpt from Wikipedia
Mischel’s famous research study, “The Marshmallow Test,” showed the importance of impulse control and delayed gratification for academic, emotional and social success.

In the 1960s at the preschool on the Stanford University campus, Mischel put marshmallows in front of a room full of 4-year-olds. He told them they could have one marshmallow now, but if they could wait several minutes, they could have two. Some children eagerly grabbed a marshmallow and ate it. Others waited, some having to cover their eyes in order not to see the tempting treat and one child even licked the table around the marshmallow!

Mischel followed the group and found that, 14 years later, the “grabbers” suffered low self-esteem and were viewed by others as stubborn, prone to envy and easily frustrated. The “waiters” were better copers, more socially competent and self-assertive, trustworthy, dependable and more academically successful. This group even scored about 210 points higher on their SATs.

Fascinating study.

And though there have been recent attempts to duplicate this famous study that have failed, the results and the underlying principle therein provide an important lesson for those of us who want to move our lives forward with intention.

Business thought leader, Jim Rohn, could see it a mile away, when he wrote about the harvest.

Paraphrasing Mr. Rohn: it’s about planning, focus and execution (and later … harvesting) vs. chasing the fad of the week, getting distracted and wasting time you can’t ever get back.

How many “get rich yesterday guru” emails did YOU get today? How many shiny-object advertisements were attempting to allure you out of what you knew you needed to get done?

How many “pressing” business or organization questions did you manage, rather than focusing on growth-oriented tasks for your vocation or business? How much time do they waste?

How many rabbits can you chase at one time?

Now, more than ever, in this digitally-saturated age: Plan, focus, execute and harvest.

Be ruthless about your time. Don’t let the guru of the week waste it by trying to convince you that there’s a golden goose and only they know where it is… and trust me, it’s not in The Woodlands. The real experts produce results for themselves AND help multitudes of others do the same.

The guru of the week produces results for the guru of the week and their insider buddies.

Don’t bite.

And, separately — chances are very good that you’re personally executing tasks which could be easily handled by a $15/hr employee/helper (or $10/hr even) … and which are keeping you from pursuing what only you were put on this earth to do.

There really is a tyranny of the urgent.

Fight against it. Instead: Do at least one thing today to grow yourself or your vocational calling. That is your most important task.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve you, and for your referrals…

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Focus Training For Folks In The Woodlands

focus trainingNow that we’re into June, it really does feel like summer is here. The air conditioning kicks in, the days are hotter … and, if you’re like me, “focus” becomes something I have to set myself towards. It doesn’t just “happen” — especially when the days are hot.

It might be simply because tax season is now fully behind us, and we’ve already turned the page into year-round work. No matter the fact that we work with our The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia clients all year, there really is something very focusing about that April 15th deadline every year (or the 18th, in this year’s case).

But as I said: focus is a decision. And whether you’re an employee, retired, or a Conroe, Magnolia, The Woodlands business owner, or some other vocational expression — really, WHOMEVER you are — living a life of intentionality has never been more difficult.

Devices, screens, “the internet of things” — all of it is pulling against our mind, our imaginations and our wills. Much of that influence is very positive, obviously (who doesn’t love ordering food with a click and a swipe??) … but it’s probably no big surprise that this digitally-overwhelming world can be a little distracting.

Yes, this topic isn’t *exactly* financial, and clearly not tax-related. I don’t pretend to be any kind of “life coach”.

But we like to see our role here at Aurelia E Weems, CPA as more than merely transactional. We’re in your corner, for all kinds of decisions that affect your finances — and this issue can certainly become a financial drain as well.

So again … focus is a decision.

And here are some things that might be hurting it for you.

Focus Training For Folks In The Woodlands
“What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” -Howard Cosell

Just because you work harder doesn’t mean that you are accomplishing anything of actual significance.

In fact, many times it’s the opposite.

Busyness does NOT equal effectiveness.

Sometimes, you find that you are “working harder” because you have fallen into a pit of poor productivity and efficiency.

What I have found to be helpful is recognizing how there are certain habits and practices that are very likely sucking all of the life-force from your day’s productivity.

As an idea starter for focus training, here are four things that very well might be killing your momentum. For you, these might not be an issue, so I urge you, therefore, to consider what really is robbing your attention these days.

These are not all merely related to DIGITAL OVERLOAD, either.

But all of them are decisions — those that are made, and those that are avoided.

1. App Addiction
If you’re constantly checking Facebook, answering or originating random text messages, or have any social media account alerts turned on, you’ll never be as productive as you could be.

One simple way to decrease your Facebook use is to remove the app from your phone. Even if you just use the browser to access it, it’s that extra step or two that it requires that can help your weaker self resist the constant dopamine hit of social media activity.

2. Email Addiction
Turn off your alerts here, too. Don’t leave your inbox continually open when you are engaged in real work.

Because whenever you click on that “Get Mail” button, your brain drip feeds small doses of Something-Important-Is-About-To-Happen-Juice (i.e. dopamine).

Except, it’s hardly ever actually urgent. It can usually wait for your actual focused attention.

So try this out for just one week and see if you don’t accomplish more than you thought possible.

3. Other People’s Emergencies
Emergencies aside, send your calls to voicemail first and return them only during set times (and perhaps even state those times on your voicemail greeting). This has three instant benefits.

First, it tells people you are a focused person, which they will respect and even appreciate. Second, it makes you a focused person — keeping you on task and freeing you from interruptions you can’t anticipate.

Third, you can determine if you’re the right person to handle the call or if it can be delegated.

4. Delegation
As I’ve said, there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Want to know where you’re just “busy”? Keep track of everything you do every 30 minutes, every day, for one week. Then take all the items that aren’t moving you toward your goals and stop doing them, delegate them to someone else, or hire someone to do them for you.

What will you do with all that extra time? Concentrate only on activities and processes that make money or move you ahead.

The key to more productivity is not more work. The key is more focus. Creating your “Not To Do” List will reset your priorities, refresh your morale, and could even remake your career.

Don’t let your best energy be sucked out of your day.

I’m grateful for our chance to serve you and your family  — and we are dedicated to your thriving. Which means we want to protect you from all of what could tear you down…

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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Instilling Financial Literacy For Kids In The Woodlands

financial literacy for kidsMemorial Day weekend can often feel a little disjointed.

There we are with our burgers, our pools, our picnics — all while we are supposedly remembering the sacrifice of so many thousands who laid down their lives in the line of duty for this country, and for the sake of our constitutional freedoms.

However, when you talk to veterans from The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia (as I get the chance to do in the course of our tax preparation work), they do often tell you that these very freedoms (the ones much bigger than backyard barbecues, of course) are exactly why those sacrifices are worthwhile.

So I suppose that despite how jarring it can feel, parades and picnics are exactly the right sort of thing to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

And so we pause and remember.

Memorial Day is much more than simply the “start of summer”.

Moving forward … now that summer *is* here, for many The Woodlands, Conroe, Magnolia families, children are much more “underfoot” than they are during the school year.

So I have an idea for you: Might I suggest the summer to be the PERFECT time to rework your children’s relationship with money? Here are some thoughts on financial literacy for kids that might help start the conversation…

Instilling Financial Literacy For Kids In The Woodlands, Magnolia and Conroe
“Adversity doesn’t test character, it reveals it.” James Lane Allen

Teaching children to save money when they’re young can help them deal with financial emergencies when they’re older. Here’s how to get them started, even this summer…

Encourage kids to save *something* over the summer. 
Whether you’ve got a 10-year-old stashing away a dollar or a teenager opening a savings or checking account, get your children in the habit of saving no matter how small the amount. Start them small over the course of the summer, and have them build towards something for the end of the season that will be a real treat.

Help kids balance treats and sacrifices. 
Work with your kids to set and meet small goals, which will allow for small indulgences along the way. Once these smaller goals are met, allow them a little withdrawal to buy something for themselves. Go for the little victories in the beginning.

Instill the idea of an emergency fund. 
Loose change can add up, so don’t let kids toss pennies or leave them lying on the ground. These can become the perfect seeds for the concept of an emergency fund (which will help them as they grow into adulthood).

Set an example. 
Children don’t miss much. If they don’t see you saving, they might wonder why they have to save. Share with them what YOU are saving towards so they can see the process of building towards a victory.

Keep kids away from credit as long as possible. 
Credit card companies expend lots of effort on marketing to teenagers. And with the rise of app-related money systems, many children with smartphone access have even readier availability to the kinds of “time-saving” money traps that so often ensnare adults. Make sure your kids understand what credit pitfalls could lie ahead.

Schedule money meetings. 
Meet with your child at regular intervals to discuss their savings and emergency accounts, answer questions, and discuss money issues he or she might encounter. Especially if they are working a summer job in The Woodlands, Magnolia and Conroe, helping your children to see where their money is going over each month of the summer will help them to get financial clarity.

Which of course, leads to…

Help children set up a real budget. 
The earlier that young people learn to manage a budget, the easier things will be down the line. Younger ones can start learning by jotting their pluses and minuses down on a piece of paper, while older kids can be introduced to budgeting on software and apps.

The main thing is that you should not rely upon “school” to train your children in financial literacy.

And the summer is a great time to get started.

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188
Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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How To Manage Money For The Woodlands Millennials

How To Manage MoneyI’ll tell you what…

The month of May is beginning to look a lot like December.

Definitely not because it’s cold out there, but with so much “end of school year” stuff happening these days, from graduation parties (ranging from pre-k “graduations” all the way up through college and beyond), to weddings (both royal and otherwise), to sports seasons wrapping up, to Memorial Day plans … well, I know some Conroe, Magnolia and The Woodlands parents who are longing for those “quieter” days during the winter holiday clamor.

I guess we all find ways to look ahead, and OUT of our current circumstances.

Which is why I’d like to take a moment and address my younger readers today. Specifically the recent graduates, but really anyone on the sunnier side of 30 years old.

Though, to be clear, this is advice that would behoove you to pay attention to, no matter your stage of life.

How To Manage Money For The Woodlands, Conroe and Magnolia Millennials
“Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.” -Tom Stoppard

One thing not often taught in schools is how to manage money and prepare for retirement.

Many students, whether they attend college or go straight into the workforce after high school, don’t grasp the importance of saving for later in life and are waiting too long to start stashing away money for retirement. When we start working with younger The Woodlands clients, these are the sorts of things about which we have conversations…

Think about saving before a life event forces you to. 
Major life events such as the death of a family member, being laid off from a job, or a debilitating physical injury can occur before we consider the impact they could have on our financial future.

Don’t be caught off guard. Begin to build a nest egg to ensure the financial security of your (future) family.

Technology can’t replace the human touch. 
For all the conveniences that technology provides us, it still can’t replace the experience of a connection with another person.

An experienced personal financial advisor can ask the right questions, provide ongoing guidance, and be an important resource for those who want to plan for retirement. A computerized advisor or even a live advisor supporting an automated advisor service often doesn’t deliver the same depth of advice or relationship.

Don’t give up too quickly. 
Let time be your ally.

Investing in the stock market with retirement savings can feel like a roller coaster ride. There will be plenty of ups and downs, but the descent is no time to jump off, even if you do get jittery. Market history suggests that eventually things may work out, if you allow enough time.

Think about taxes before they think about you.
In the early years of your career, taxes seem more like a mere inconvenience than a tangible thing to plan around. But the reality is that you can set up your financial life NOW to prevent your future self from having to pay more taxes than you ought.

Whether that’s starting in on a Roth IRA or other tax-savings strategies, don’t be fooled that the larger standard deduction moving forward will suffice for you when your career reaches maturity. Get advice now for how you can plan ahead for whatever comes.

I wonder if you know someone who can help you with that?

Warmly,

Aurelia Weems
(936) 273-1188

Aurelia E Weems, CPA

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