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April 24, 2019

Payment Options if You Owe the IRS

The IRS will work with you if you simply cannot pay in full

Tax Time

If you complete your tax return only to realize that you owe the IRS money, you can take some small comfort in knowing that you're not the first person to find himself in this predicament.

Yes, it can be particularly stressful if you've never owed the IRS before or if you just don't have the available cash to make a lump sum payment. The Internal Revenue Service has dealt with this dilemma many times before, however, so it offers some options and grace periods.

How Much Do You Owe? 

First, figure out how quickly you can pay off the tax debt. Paying the debt all at once will save you some money if you have the cash on hand or you can get it—the IRS will continue to assess late payment penalties up through the date you pay in full.

If that's not possible, however, the IRS will let you pay the debt over time. The downside to this is that interest and late charges will continue to accrue until it's paid off. 

If You Can Pay Within 45 Days 

If you can't pay your tax bill in its entirety right now but you know that you'll be able to do so within 45 days, send in a partial payment using the Form 1040-V payment voucher at the time you file your return. Most tax preparation software provides the form and it's also available online at the IRS website. 

Wait for the IRS to send you a letter detailing your outstanding balance and any late charges that have been added. The IRS usually provides a grace period for payment of between 30 to 45 days after sending that letter. Pay your remaining balance by the deadline set by the IRS.

If You Can Pay Between 45 Days and 120 Days 

The process is similar if you can pay within four months. Send in a partial payment using Form 1040-V and wait for the IRS to send you a letter telling you how much you owe including late charges. Then call the IRS at the number shown on the letter to request a short-term extension of time to pay beyond the date set in the letter.

Propose a definite deadline for paying off your balance in full and the IRS will note that date in its records. Use the payment voucher that's included with the letter to make your next and final payment.

Calling the IRS is important with this payment tactic because it will prevent the government from taking more aggressive collection actions. You're letting the IRS know that you're on top of the situation and you're trying to fix it.

If You Need More Than 120 Days

The IRS will usually let you set up a monthly payment plan, also called an installment agreement, if you're going to need a more significant amount of time to pay off your tax debt. This is a formal agreement to pay the IRS over time and the IRS will likely approve your payment plan as long as it will pay off your tax debt in three years or less.

Depending on how much you owe, you might also have to submit a financial statement. This is generally required if you owe more than $10,000 but streamlined installment agreement applications are available for taxpayers who owe up to $25,000.

The IRS does charge a fee to set up these plans. It ranges from $43 for low-income taxpayers up to $225 as of 2018. This is a one-time fee that's paid up front and it's typically included with your first payment.

You can apply for an installment agreement online at the IRS website if you owe $50,000 or less. 

Temporary Delay Collection

This option doesn't come with a set date by which you'll pay off the IRS and it's available only if the IRS agrees that collecting from you at this point in time would present an undue financial hardship to you.

Your tax debt doesn't go away. It's put on hold until such time as your finances recover. You must be able to prove that if you were to pay the debt, you would not be able to meet your necessary living expenses. The IRS will file your matter as "currently not collectible" but penalties and interest will continue to accrue.

The IRS is effectively agreeing not to aggressively pursue you for the money by way of levies and other collection avenues available to them.

When You Can't Pay Your Taxes at All

If you can't afford to pay your taxes at all, your best bet is to seek professional advice from a tax professional who's authorized to represent you before the IRS. This typically includes CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents.

Many tax clinics provide free or low-cost access to tax professionals and that's generally a good place to start if you need help. A competent tax professional can evaluate your options, such as requesting a temporary delay, setting up a partial payment plan, or negotiating a settlement through the offer in compromise program.

 

The IRS isn't really as heartless as its reputation would make it out to be. It also offers a Taxpayer Advocate Service for assistance in this and other unpleasant situations. The worst thing you can do if you owe the IRS money is nothing. It typically welcomes all overtures to get tax debts paid and it might even accept less than what you owe if your financial situation qualifies. 

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 23, 2019

The Worst States to Retire To

High Taxes Make These States Unfriendly For Retirees

 

Looking for a place to retire? You might steer clear of these states. Although each state on our list has plenty of positive selling points, other states may lend themselves better to retirees looking to relocate.

The map below shows a breakdown of the eight worst states for your retirement.

West Virginia

Although you’ll meet some incredible people in West Virginia, you won’t find the state scoring high on very many “best of” lists. Unfortunately, we have to agree when looking at the state from the lens of a retiree. Most retirement income, including Social Security, is taxed after the first $8,000, the average income for retiree households is only $40,000 and only 8 states scored below West Virginia in fiscal soundness. It also ranks near the bottom for retiree health. Only 57 percent of its population is able-bodied compared to the national average of 65 percent.

Alaska

If reality TV is any guide, America is fascinated with Alaska but not as a place to grow old. The harsh conditions and high cost of living—32 percent above the national average, might be why only 69,300 of its residents are over the age of 65.

Despite the collective “no” from seniors, there’s plenty of reasons why Alaska isn’t as bad as it sounds. No state income or sales tax, the annual dividend check from the state’s oil well savings ($1,100 per person) and, of course, the absolutely beautiful scenery.

Oregon

No sales tax, over 300 miles of beautiful coastline, Portland being the most bike-friendly city in the country, low crime rate, farmers markets everywhere and beautiful weather. What’s not to like about Oregon? The 9.9 percent top income tax rate for one. Also, the high cost of living that comes in 18 percent above the national average and the below average household income. At $53,799, that’s 16 percent lower than the average.

Minnesota

How does 44.3 inches of snow per year sound? Or an average low temperature of 0.2 degrees in January? Above average living expenses and below average income and the state taxes Social Security benefits as much as the federal government along with almost all other retirement income including military, government, and private pensions. Add to that the high state sales and income tax, and you can see why Minnesota might not be high on your list. On the other hand, it ranks sixth for the most agreeable state and the “land of 10,000 lakes” is a real thing.

Want waterfront property? No problem.

Kentucky

Unfortunately, Kentucky is either at the top or near the top of worst places to retire, including ours. The high rate of smoking, poverty and low physical activity along with a dismal rating for the quality of nursing home care place the healthcare situation at the bottom of the list.

On the other hand, the cost of living is low, median home prices are a mere $113,000, and the state doesn’t tax the first $41,000 of retirement income and doesn’t tax Social Security at all. And the state produces 95 percent of the country’s bourbon. That has to count for something.

Michigan

This poor state (literally) can’t get out of its own way. With cities like Detroit struggling to survive and the Flint, Michigan water crisis that made national headlines, the state hasn’t been cast in a positive light over the past handful of years. Add to that challenging winter weather, and an upcoming change where seniors will have to choose between having their Social Security taxed or $20,000 of their retirement income, and rising poverty, seniors are looking elsewhere.

Some bright spots—cost of living is 12 percent below the national average, and the scenery—yes!

Montana

You won’t have any trouble finding beautiful views in Montana but holding onto your money might be a challenge. The cost of living is 3 percent above the national average while income is 21 percent below. Montana will tax most of your retirement income including a top tax rate of 6.9 percent that isn’t just for the filthy rich. Once you earn $17,400 or above, 6.9 percent is your rate. Ouch!

By the numbers, Montana isn’t a place you want to move to for retirement but lifelong residents don’t often leave. Nearly 17 percent of the population is 65 or older and there’s always the snowbird option.

New Mexico

 

Most of the states on our list have been in the northern portions of the country but there are some steer-clear states in the southern portion as well. Leading that charge is New Mexico. The retiree poverty rate of 12 percent is the 3rd highest in the country. The tax on Social Security benefits and most other retirement income is probably a big reason for the high poverty rate although low-income seniors can receive an $8,000 exemption. On the bright site, healthcare costs are below average along with the cost of living.

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 22, 2019

How to Negotiate Lower Rates on Monthly Expenses

Close up teenage girl friends using cell phones

If you’re savings-savvy, negotiating is a great way to save on big-ticket items like a new car or home. But did you ever consider negotiating some of your smaller monthly expenses, too?

Contrary to common belief, you are not stuck with whatever rates your service providers offer you. Many recurring expenses, like phone service and even utilities, can be negotiated lower. And every extra dollar you can shave off your budget means one more dollar you can put towards something else—like paying off that credit card, building up your retirement funds or saving for that fantastic family vacation.

Consider these common budget categories you may be paying too much for—and how you can go about negotiating a better rate for yourself:

TV

Explore alternative options like free streaming TV and discounted subscriptions through services like Hulu, Netflix, and Roku. But if you still feel the need to pay for satellite or cable television service, there are ways to save.

Chances are you’ve noticed how often your current provider advertises great starter rates for new customers. You may have even gotten one yourself when you first signed up with them. But now that you’re a regular, longstanding customer, you find yourself paying hefty “standard” rates—and getting jealous of all the new customers who are getting a better bargain.

You don’t have to put up with it. Call the customer service line and let the company know that, as a loyal customer, you don’t like the fact that new customers are being treated way better than you are. You may not be able to get the special introductory rate you once had, but you could snag yourself some perks, like access to premium movie channels for 6 months or the ability to switch to a new package that wasn’t available when you first joined.

Phone

First and foremost: If you never use your landline, ditch it and go mobile-only. If you rely heavily on your landline and only need a cell phone for emergencies, consider a TracFone or pay-as-you service, so you only pay for what you need.

If, however, your cell phone is your lifeline and your extra appendage, there are still ways you can save. Take a long, hard look at your package terms and monthly usage to make sure you’re not paying for more minutes than you need. If you think you’re stuck with a pricey package just because the next level down doesn’t give you what you need, think again.

Some companies offer unadvertised packages that you won’t know about unless you ask. Call up and ask if there are any preferred customer rates or employer discounts you might qualify for.

If you’re out of contract, or your contract is due to expire soon, don’t renew! That one- or two-year contract might have snagged you a great deal on your phone, but if you don’t care about upgrading to the latest device, you can negotiate a lower monthly rate once you’re out of the contract because the provider knows they don’t have you hooked.​

Utilities

Don’t be fooled into thinking the big players in your area are your only options. More and more alternative energy providers are cropping up who might be able to offer you a more competitive rate. And even if your company has a monopoly in your area, there are still ways you cut your costs.

If you’ve recently installed energy-saving measures like upgraded windows and better insulation, your utility company might be willing to conduct an energy audit (or consider one from a third party) as leverage for negotiating a lower rate.

If you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate wildly from season to season, your heat provider may offer a budget billing option that spreads your heating costs across all months, meaning you’ll pay the same low, fixed amount each month (based on your past usage) rather than getting socked with huge bills in colder seasons. Monthly budget plans may also be available to you based on your current household income.

Credit Card Rates

Sick of seeing all the new low- or no-interest offers in your mail, while you continue to pay the same high rates on existing cards? (Or watch your APR climb even though your credit rating is good?)

You don’t have to deal with the hand the credit card companies have dealt you; many are more than willing to work with you to retain your business, as they know you’ve got plenty of other options out there.

If you’ve been making your payments regularly and/or paying more than the minimum, then you are a customer in good standing, and your company should be willing to fight to keep you.

Call up and let them know you’re thinking of transferring your balance to one of the many zero-interest cards that are currently courting you. Ask if there’s anything they can do to make it worth your while to stay with them. Most won’t let you walk without trying to offer you something—it’s up to your persistence how big their offer might be.

Negotiate the Right Way

Whatever you’re trying to negotiate, the key to success lies in keeping your tone polite, respectful and calm. As tempted as you may be to let them know how ridiculous you think your current fees are, companies will be much more willing to work with you if you say how much you’ve enjoyed their service and emphasize your history as a loyal customer.

 

Keep it positive, phrase it as a win-win, and most of all, give it a try! You never know what you can get unless you ask!

 

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 20, 2019

How To Switch to Cash Only for Your Budget

Woman taking cash out of wallet

 

If you are having a hard time sticking to your budget, you may find it beneficial to switch to cash for a few budget categories. It is important to carefully consider the things you will need to do in order to successfully switch a cash-only budget.

You may also be more likely to stick to your budget because of the psychological impact of using cash as opposed to a debit card to pay for something—you realize just how much it really costs. Here's how to make the switch.

Choose the Categories to Switch to Cash

The first step in switching to cash is to determine the budget categories that you are actually able to switch to cash-only. Some categories (such as a mortgage or student loan payment) may only be able to be made online.

But for those categories that you are able to use cash for, determine which you are consistently overspending on. This may be groceries or entertainment, eating out, or clothing. Everyone has their problem areas when it comes to spending. Once you know what yours are, you can switch them over to cash in order to curb your spending.

Stop Using Your Debit Card for These Categories

The next step is to stop using your debit card or checkbook to pay for anything in those categories, no matter what. Period.

If you are not able to do that, you may consider leaving your debit card at home for a few weeks and disconnecting any automatic payments you can access online, such as those through Paypal. This will help you break this bad financial habit.

Create a System to Separate Cash and Track Receipts

When using a cash-based budget, you need a way to track your cash purchases and also keep the different areas of your budget in which you'll be using cash separate.

A simple way to do this is to use the envelope system. You put the correct amount of cash into envelopes labeled with each budget category. You can only spend that amount on that area of your budget each month. You should also put your receipts into those envelopes so you can see where you spent the money at the end of the month.

Another strategy is to keep a running ledger as you spend the money.

Set Up a Time to Take Out the Cash

In order to be successful at a cash-only budget, you need to actually get the cash and separate it into categories. This may mean a trip to the bank or the ATM on payday, or another set day.

You can request that the teller gives you the money in the correct denominations, such as all $20s or $10s, so you can easily separate the money into the correct categories.

Plan Ahead When You Go Shopping

This type of budget requires that you learn to plan ahead. Generally, it’s not a good idea to carry huge amounts of cash around with you all of the time.

So you leave your grocery money at home unless you are going to the grocery store, and take only $20 to work if you plan on eating out that day. You get the idea. Bonus: This will also help to cut back on your impulse purchases.

Stick to Your Limits

As with any budget, this requires self-discipline to not spend all the money in one category. This also means that you do not use your debit card or your credit card to cover shortfalls.

However, you can switch money between envelopes if you find that you have overspent on your grocery budget, but you are out of food halfway through the month. But this means that you will have to cut spending in other areas.

Adjust Your Categories 

You should adjust your budget once you have followed it for a few months. You may find that you don’t have enough budgeted for groceries, but you always have money left over in the gas category, or you that you may need to sacrifice some of your entertainment money so that you can eat all month.

Other Tips:

  1. Using cash may not always seem very convenient, but it is a great way to stop yourself from overspending. It makes you think about your purchases, and consciously consider how much you are spending. This type of budget can also help you to stop using your credit cards, as well. If you need to make online purchases, you may want to use Google Wallet to separate the categories from your regular checking account.
  2. Consider using an expanding pocket file that fits into a purse to put your cash in, but separated according to budget category. However, this does mean carrying all of your cash, so it might not be the best option if that makes you nervous. Consider carrying all your cash for the week instead of all the cash for the month instead.

 

  1. If you are married, budgeting as a couple can be very difficult. A cash budget can help make budgeting easier. You can divide the money between your individual categories, and leave the grocery money or entertainment money where you can both access it if you need it.
Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 18, 2019

Save Money or Pay Off Debt

Should You Save Money or Pay Off Debt?

 

Paying debt and saving money are both very important financial goals. They’re also steps you have to take to reach a bigger life goal—living well during retirement. You may want to go into retirement debt-free, but focusing on debt repayment now could mean you have to sacrifice building up your retirement savings. But how do you choose the best place to spend your money?

You might need to adopt a blended approach and save some while you pay down some of your debt at the same time. When you understand the pros and cons of paying only debt or only savings, you can better assess your own situation and see how to tweak your savings and debt-payments to move your goals forward in each area.

Paying Debt and Skipping Savings

If you pay your debt first and put no money in savings, the downside is that you'll have nothing but your credit cards to fall back on if you have a financial emergency. You can count on some type of expense coming, and it's usually when you least expect it. Using your credit cards to fund an emergency only makes it harder to pay off your debt.

When to Put Debt Payment First

Pay your debt down before saving if you have credit cards with high interest rates. By reducing your owed balance, you'll also reduce the dollar amount of interest you pay each month. This can give you a bigger break financially than gains you could be earning in the stock market, and certainly more than you'll earn in a savings account.

When it comes to fixed-payment loans, such as a student loan or mortgage, extra payments can reduce the duration of your loan because your lender will apply the money to future payments. However, be aware that the lender won't recalculate the loan to lower your monthly payments. If you're worried you'll lose a tax deduction by paying off either of these types of loans early, the tax deduction is likely smaller than the amount of interest you would have paid for the year on your loan.

Saving Without Paying Down Debt

If you save first and don’t focus on paying down your debt, you will pay more money over time in credit card interest charges. Since credit card interest rates are often higher than savings interest rates, you end up spending more money on debt interest than you'd earn on your savings investment.

The other problem with saving first is that you risk entering retirement with debt. You may find that you can’t live comfortably on your retirement savings and keep paying your debt. So you’d have to either live on a strict budget to pay off your debt or go back to work until you can pay off your credit cards.

When to Save First

While it might feel uncomfortable, there are actually some situations where it makes sense to pay into your savings first and then work on your debt. If you're lucky enough to have debt with a low interest rate, it makes better sense to put most of your extra money into savings first, at least until you've filled up your emergency financial fund. Shoot for funds to cover thee to six months of expenses.

If this seems difficult in the short term, focus on building a small $1,000 emergency fund. That money can cover many small but urgent expenses like car repairs that would otherwise be charged to your credit card. Once you jumpstart your emergency fund, then you can put the focus back on paying off your debt.

If you delay your retirement savings until your debt's gone, it will have negative consequences. The longer you wait to start saving, the more you have to pay to reach your retirement goal.

If you start saving earlier, you get the benefit of years and years of compound interest on your investment. For example, say that Bill, a 28-year old, starts investing $5,000 per year and continues until he retires at 58. He will have saved $150,000 with 30 years of compounded interest, which will bring his total retirement savings to about $540,700.

His friend Larry started putting away $5,000 each year when he turned 18, until he also retired at 58, with $200,000 invested with 40 years of compounding. Those 10 extra years of compound interest grew Larry's total savings to a whopping $1,142,800, or more than twice the amount of his friend Bill's nest egg.

To increase your retirement savings, take advantage of your employer’s offer to match contributions to your 401(k) plan if offered—don’t turn down this free money. There are also tax benefits that come with retirement savings. The money you contribute to a 401(k) can often be excluded from your taxable income, resulting in a smaller tax burden. Even if you put money into a 401(k), you may be able to budget your spending and find money to allocate to paying off your debt.

The Best Approach Is to Pay Both

 

Ultimately, it's best to find a balance between the amount you spend on debt and savings each month. It isn’t wise to put off either of these in lieu of the other, so devise a way that you can split your money between the two. For example, if you have an extra $1,000 each month, put $500 toward your debt and $500 toward saving. You might pay a bit more in interest, but you'll have the peace of mind that comes with having money in the bank to keep you out of the debt cycle and make your retirement years more pleasant.

 

Piggy bank illustration

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 17, 2019

The Jewelry in Your Kitchen Design

The Jewelry in Your Kitchen Design
 

Great lighting is definitely stealing more of the spotlight in kitchen design lately. Pendant lights that hang from the ceiling above your kitchen island—usually in a row of two or three–is really a place to show off lighting to dress up your kitchen.

Some designers refer to pendant lights as the jewelry of your kitchen. They add a little decorative sparkle to catch the eye.

Blown glass pendants are one of the top trends. This is a clear glass light fixture with an exposed Edison light bulb inside. Glass pendants in geometric shapes, like a glass boxed pendant or a glass sphere, are popping up in more kitchens lately.

Glass pendants can be a great choice for smaller kitchens or kitchens within an open floor plan. That’s because the see-through glass doesn’t disrupt the line of sight in your kitchen space. The lighting adds just enough statement and shine to accent that kitchen island.

Check out a few examples.

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 16, 2019

Making Sure Your Budget is Complete

10 Things You Left Out of Your Budget

Make Sure Your Budget Is Complete With These 10 Expenses

•••

When it comes to keeping your finances on track, following a budget is absolutely critical. But if your budget doesn’t factor in all of your expenses, you may find yourself going over each month without knowing why.

Make sure your budget isn’t missing any of these often-overlooked categories to ensure you’re allocating your money properly:

1. Fun Money

You need to treat yourself every now and then to keep your budget from feeling suffocating. A “treat” can be something as little as a magazine from the checkout aisle or a fancy latte from the corner coffee shop.

Allot yourself a certain amount of “fun money” each month that you can spend however you please, and you’ll find it easier to stick to your budget in other categories.

2. Eating Out/Entertainment

Along the same lines, you should also allow yourself some money for things like eating out, seeing a movie or grabbing a few drinks with friends. When you budget for these things, you’re able to splurge (within reason) without the guilt.

3. Clothing

If you’re not a big shopper, you may be able to leave this line off your budget altogether, but most of us do at least a little clothes shopping, even if it’s just a wardrobe refresh in the spring and fall or a new pair of boots for the winter.

Whatever your spending on clothes (and shoes, accessories and handbags), make sure to include it in your budget. You can give yourself a certain amount each month or put a little aside each month towards your annual purchases.

4. Subscriptions/Memberships

It’s easy to remember monthly expenses like utilities, but things like magazine subscriptions and gym memberships are often overlooked. If it’s something that will come of out of your wallet, you need to budget for it.

To budget for annual subscriptions, divide your cost by 12 and set aside that much each month to build enough for when they’re up for renewal. These budget worksheets can guide you through this.

5. Non-Monthly Bills

Don’t forget bills that are regular but not monthly. Utilize the same “divide by 12” method to set aside money for your annual payments (like property taxes) and quarterly payments (like your water bill or taxes if you're a freelancer).

6. Gifts/Special Occasions

Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries will crop up every year, so it’s easy to budget for those. Add up all of your annual special occasions and divide them by 12. Factor in not only the cost of presents, but any additional expenses like taking someone out for a nice meal or hosting a party.

Other occasions, like weddings, should also come with enough advanced notice you can work them into your budget for upcoming months.

7. Home Maintenance

Some home maintenance costs are predictable. You know you’ll be cleaning the carpets every spring and buying new flowers and mulch for your garden, so budget for these annual items.

For all the rest (like unforeseen repairs), allocate a certain amount each month to cover things as they arise. (If you’ve been a homeowner for any amount of time, you know that something inevitably willarise, so you may as well plan for it.)

8. Pet Care

Don’t forget your furry friends! Factor in everything from food to grooming to annual vet visits and vaccinations. If you like to spoil your pets, add in some extra for treats, toys and pampering.

9. Travel

You should budget for daily commuting costs (gas, parking, metro passes) as well as any annual travel like vacations or visiting family (which includes gasoline, food for the trip, hotel stays, etc.).

10. Savings

Last, but most certainly not least, be sure to include a line in your monthly budget for savings. Some people make sure they have enough for this each month by “paying themselves first,” or setting up automatic deductions from each paycheck to their savings account so they don’t find themselves “running out of money” before they can put any away.

Major savings to budget for: an emergency fund, goal-specific funds (like saving up for a vacation or your kids’ education), and long-term savings (i.e. retirement).

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 15, 2019

The Secrets of the "Invisible Rich"

The Secrets of the "Invisible Rich"

Woman mowing lawn
•••

If you ever wondered whether you could spot the invisible rich, the answer is that it would be very challenging. That’s because the invisible rich are just that—invisible. They are the people you see every day mowing their lawns, standing in line behind you at the grocery store, and riding up the elevator with you at work. They are the people who live modestly and without pretense. The invisible rich are the people who live well within their means despite that big number in their bank account.

Back in 1996, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko released the book, “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy.” These millionaires next door are just like the invisible rich—they are people who don’t look the part. They aren’t the people buying the brand new Lamborghinis or jetting off around the world at a moment’s notice. Stanley and Danko conducted a series of studies to see just how the millionaires next door accumulated their wealth. While there are several key secrets of the invisible rich and the millionaires next door, below are a few of the most common secrets that we can all incorporate into our own lives.

Secrets of the Millionaires Next Door

  1. They don’t spend beyond their meansThe invisible rich do not stretch financially. They only buy what they can afford and don’t try to keep up with Joneses.
  2. They never stop learning. The invisible rich realize that an investment in their own education is the best investment that they can make. After all, knowledge is power—and greater knowledge can also lead to a bigger paycheck down the road. The invisible rich hop on every opportunity possible to continually learn.
  3. They look at lifetime earning potential when choosing their career. The invisible rich seek out professions that will provide the most financial security and stability.
  1. They save and invest earlyThe invisible rich understand the value of putting their money to work. Whether through retirement plans such as 401(k)s, IRAs, 529 plans for college or any other kind of savings plan, the invisible rich understand the concept of compounding and how money can grow over time.
  2. They have good insurance coverage. The invisible rich believe that the cost of insurance is worth it in order to protect what they own and their loved ones. Whether it be house insurance or life insurance, the invisible rich place great importance on protecting themselves and their family from unforeseen circumstances.
  1. They’re wise with unexpected cash windfalls. Don’t expect the invisible rich to go out and buy a new yacht with a large inheritance that was just received. Even if the invisible rich hit mega millions, you can expect this group of people to act responsibly with their newfound funds.
  2. They hold onto their houses and cars. The invisible rich don’t need the latest and greatest car model, nor do they need to live in a house with a mortgage that they will have to pay for a lifetime. Instead, the invisible rich look for cars with moderate loan payments and homes priced at a number that won’t leave them house poor.
  1. They avoid debt. The invisible rich believe in paying off their debt. They don’t let the balances on their credit card accumulate and prefer to pay bills off as they come in. 

If you want to join the ranks of the "invisible rich," now would be a great time to put as many of these secrets to work as you can.

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 13, 2019

Affordable Online Interior Design Options

 

Designed by Traci Connell of TCI Design Delivered

© Traci Connell/TCI Design Delivered

Fast, Affordable Online Interior Design Options

Spring is a busy time for home buying and renovating. These days, new internet-based businesses are helping homeowners get professional design expertise and merchandise more affordably and faster than ever.

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It was only a matter of time before the internet would disrupt how the design trade has worked for decades.

In the past, interior designers ordered almost every piece of furniture or decor from trade vendors on behalf of their clients, and billed them an hourly rate plus charges for purchases—typically, wholesale plus a markup or retail minus a discount. Then, it would take the merchandise months to be fabricated and delivered.

Obviously, homeowners were exhilarated when other resources emerged, such as HGTV shows, hip housing magazines, and online idea sites such as Houzz and Pinterest, allowing them to take a more active role in home design. The latest iteration to shake up the process is online companies that employ staff designers or freelancers with the goal of simplifying the designer-homeowner partnership and allowing the act of home furnishing to became transparent, faster, and more affordable.

The process typically works like this: Homeowners begin by filling out an online questionnaire to match them with the right professional. The survey covers personal preferences based on clients choosing their favorite product and design photos. Homeowners also enter their room sizes and a budget, which covers the company’s hourly rate or project fee, plus the cost of furnishings from online sources such as Wayfair, CB2, and Crate and Barrel. The design professional they’re matched with suggests purchases and room layouts, often without setting foot on the property. “Think of it as a variation on online dating,” says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design.

Interactions with the designer can happen via email, phone, instant message, Skype, and sometimes in-person meetings. Before the homeowner signs off on a project, they are provided a floor plan or 3D rendering, which shows how to arrange the furnishings once they arrive. Since the first companies emerged in 2012, many have grown and added locations. “Most customers who come to us are too busy to do this on their own and are looking for an efficient, convenient way to gain a beautiful home,” says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at Modsy, based in San Francisco.

Those were the reasons homeowner Carolina Poli decided to use New York–based Homepolish. While living in Brooklyn, she was building a house in suburban New York, working fulltime, and raising two young children. “I thought I could select it all myself but realized it was too big a job,” she says. Her designer Crystal Sinclair worked with her by phone, online, and in person. “The price was also much better than if I had worked a designer in the traditional way.” Some design firms also work with real estate professionals to stage rooms.

Here are a few online interior design firms gaining prominence.

Manhattan loft designed by Affordable Interior Design

© Dov Plawsky/Affordable Home Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Interior Design: This New York–based firm, with branches in Washington, D.C., and London, provides online help through eight freelance designers who visit clients’ homes (unless they live far away). Founder Betsy Helmuth’s impetus was to provide affordable design that would expand her reach beyond her suburban New York design storefront. She offers two packages that each require filling out a questionnaire, sending in photos of rooms or items customers like, and supplying room measurements. Option one is $999 for a two-hour consultation for two rooms, a shopping list of up to 16 retail items with prices often discounted, two floor plans, a “mood” or Pinterest-style board, and a final presentation. The second option is a one-hour consultation for one room at $799, shopping list for up to eight items, one floor plan, mood board, and final presentation. Additional rooms each cost $599 and come with a shopping list for eight items, floor plan, mood board, and presentation.

Entryway 3-D design by Decorilla

© Sonia Carlson/Decorilla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decorilla: Founded by Agnieszka Wilk in New York in 2012, the company now uses 10,000 designers across every state and reaches internationally as well. Decorilla also has an in-house staff who handle other parts of the job, such as coordinating delivery, dealing with returned goods, and managing construction. This company starts clients out with a questionnaire, but they can also search its website to pick a designer whose portfolio they like. The company offers three packages, from basic bronze for $499 for one room to gold for several rooms for $1,699, while offering clients access to highly experienced designers. Rather than providing one plan or rendering, four options are offered to clients with realistic renderings from two different designers. Each client also gets company discounts on more than 250 well-known brands such as Wayfair, Crate and Barrel, and Jonathan Adler. Many projects incorporate one-of-a-kind goods. Seattle designer Sonia Carlson worked on a gold-level package for eight rooms and exterior finishes for a new home in Pennsylvania. She and her client worked mostly via email and Skype, and they uploaded idea images over several months. Many pieces were sourced from Europe. For those who need less help, the company offers service starting at $75 an hour.

Room by Decorist Celebrity designer Jessica McCarthy

© Jessica McCarthy/Decorist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decorist: Based in San Francisco, this online interior design company was launched in 2014 by Gretchen Hansen, a consumer marketing executive who found herself challenged when decorating her own home. A designer friend helped her via email, and the proverbial lightbulb went on. “If someone could help me that way, I could help others,” Hansen says. With a roster of approximately 400 interior designers, the firm handles design projects online only. After filling out a questionnaire, clients pick from three packages: the Classic Design Service for $299 per room with the industry’s most ambitious up-and-coming designers; the Elite Design Service for $599 per room with a locally established designer with regional press; or the Celebrity Design Service for $1,299 per room with a nationally recognized “A-list” interior designer. What a home owner gets: two “mood boards,” the chance to chat via instant message with the designer, a final room design board and floor plan, and a detailed shopping list. Decorist’s free concierge purchasing team members handle shopping and delivery.

Bedroom design by Seth Caplan of Homepolish

© Seth Caplan/Homepolish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homepolish: Based in New York, this firm works with freelance designers, architects, and general contractors who use the partnership to increase their exposure to new clientele and gain access to its proprietary technology and tools to run their businesses more efficiently. Since Noa Santos started the company in 2012, it has grown to a network of 1,000 professionals nationally who take on not just residential but also commercial and hospitality projects. The company also has an in-house staff of 70. Designers visit clients’ spaces but can also work by video if they live far away. Prices begin at $140 an hour with a minimum of 10 hours required; hourly rates go up to more than $300 an hour. The company touts its extensive list of trade and retail vendors, and other services such as construction management. Homepolish team members make money by time spent rather than from commissions on client purchases. “There’s no incentive to buy more expensive furnishings,” Santos says.

Living room-kitchen combo designed by Modsy

© Modsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modsy: Shanna Tellerman founded her San Francisco–based company four years ago, which now works with 200 to 300 designers. They offer service online nationwide through video and telephone calls with four design packages available: basic for $69 per room with purchases delivered in eight to 10 days; classic for $89 per room and delivery in six to eight days; premium for $199 per room and delivery of goods in four to seven days; and multiroom at $399 for up to three rooms and delivery in four to seven days. For an extra $15, home owners can have any item they already own digitally inserted into their plan to see how it will look; a substitute but similar item can be inserted for free, says Wood. Plans or renderings highlight purchases with a white dot, which, when clicked, details the product information. Designers try to give clients choices in each layout, such as a sectional or sofa or different paint palettes.

Designed by TCI Design Delivered

© Traci Connell/TCI Design Delivered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TCI Design Delivered: Traci Connell started her online TCI Design Delivered business after recognizing that not everybody could afford the services of her original firm, Traci Connell Interiors. That firm requires home owners to spend a minimum on each of three rooms plus a designer fee rather than hourly rate. To help them get her decorating expertise at a lower cost, Connell and her staff have priced consultations based on room type and size—$1,080 for an entryway or $1,700 for a home office, for example. The first step for clients is filling out a questionnaire, followed within six to eight weeks by receiving a “presentation box” with a furniture and material book, paint samples, a detailed floor plan, remodeling finishes, and fabric swatches. Clients make their choices and handle returns themselves. Results for the two approaches aren’t the same, however. “There’s a huge difference between doing one room online versus the traditional way where there’s constant personal interaction, access to special touches, someone to help with ordering, installation, and making returns,” Connell says.


Design the Old-Fashioned Way

While online decorating can work well, it’s not the same as having a designer visit your home and work in person, says Tom Segal, co-founder of Kaufman Segal Design in Chicago. “When we’re not in the space, we don’t see how light enters the room, plays off the ceiling, or affects other colors and furnishings, or how people use their house. We also don’t see how traffic flows into the kitchen or throughout an entire floor,” he says. Another negative that Segal cautions is many of the products offered are mass-produced, so they don’t offer the same personalized look and feel that custom selections usually do. “They may not fit the user as well. For example, a sofa or chair may not be the desired width, height, and length, or have the right firmness or give,” he says.

Yet, Segal still considers online decorating a positive trend. “It’s a good way for those who’ve never worked with a designer to start understanding the process and [those] with smaller budgets to get a room furnished and often fairly quickly,” he says. Online decorating helps to demystify the process, so if owners decide later that they are ready to take the next step, whether it’s working on more rooms or allotting a bigger budget, they can switch to a traditional design firm, Segal says. “We’re all trying to be more transparent. In my firm’s case, we charge an hourly rate and generally a 35 percent markup on the net or wholesale cost. We also get 20 percent off certain retail purchases,” he says. The bottom line is that every design company works differently, so it’s important for clients to ask about costs up front, he says.

 

Source:  Barbara Ballinger

Posted in BoydTeam Blog
April 12, 2019

Today’s Pets Are Real Estate Influencers

April 11 marked National Pet Day, and it’s time to find a pet to appreciate, if not your own.

After all, pets have a big say in real estate. Eighty-one percent of Americans say animal-related considerations play a role when deciding on their next living situation, according to a 2017 report from the National Association of REALTORS®.Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. Twelve percent of pet owners have moved to accommodate their animal, and 19 percent said that they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future. REALTORS® surveyed said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often—or very often—will even refuse to make an offer on a home because it’s not ideal for their animal.

Pet ownership is booming across the country. Seventy percent of U.S. households own pets, up from 50 percent a generation ago, according to ProShares Pet Care ETF, an exchange traded fund focused on the pet care industry. Ninety-five percent of pet owners consider their pets part of the family, according to a Harris Poll.

“Dogs are part of the family, so it’s important to factor in our furry friends when choosing a place to live,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “Highlighting dog-friendly amenities like a spacious yard or a mudroom for dirty paws in your listing can make it easier for buyers to find the home of their dog’s dreams.”

What are some of the top pet-friendly amenities in homes? Real Trends recently highlighted several home essentials that buyers crave for their pets: ample outdoor space, pet nooks (like a tucked away nook with a built-in bed), a pet chat system (a way to communicate with your pet from anywhere using video or audio devices), pet washing stations (like in a mudroom or laundry room), and a pet door (a door insert so pet cans let themselves out and back in).

Some real estate professionals are adopting pet-friendly niches to express their love of pets, showing off their own pets on social media or even reaching out at dog parks with treats to connect with pets and their owners.

Redfin and Rover, a networking platform for pet sitters, recently ranked the top pet-friendly cities. They analyzed data from 14,000 cities based on popularity of dog walkers and pet sitters and how frequently the word “dog” appeared in online listing descriptions of homes for sale. The top pet-friendly cities (along with cities’ most popular breeds) are:

1. Seattle

  • Top breed: Labrador retriever

2. Chicago

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

3. Denver

  • Top breed: Labrador retriever

4. Manhattan, N.Y.

  • Top breed: French bulldog

5. Washington, D.C.

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

6. Portland, Ore.

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

7. Los Angeles

  • Top breed: Chihuahua

8. Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Top breed: Pit bull mix

9. San Francisco

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

10. San Diego

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

11. Philadelphia

  • Top breed: Pit bull mix

12. Houston

  • Top breed: Mixed breed

 

dog care tips

© National Association of REALTORS®

 

Posted in BoydTeam Blog