Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: A Gift for Grads

Congratulations to all the college graduates and their families!  

We know last weekend was a big event in your family and we want to provide a gift that helps college grads jump into the “real world” with a solid financial foundation. That’s part of why we created our "Untangle Your Roots" Series. This program is $30 per month for 12 months and it offers a variety of information and education to help the recent graduate get financially fit. Each month, the participant will complete another task on the road to success. 

In addition, we have something different for the blog this week: With the Indy 500 approaching, we thought it would be fun to put together a quiz about both the Indy 500 and the S&P 500.

We hope you enjoy this week’s fun trivia:

Test your Indy 500 and S&P 500 Knowledge

Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: Teachers Appreciation Week

Happy Post Cinco de Mayo!  We hope you were able to kick back and enjoy your favorite beverage and snacks in celebration.  We enjoyed a tasty glass of a yet to be released bottle of Estate Red by Bully Hill.

Speaking of celebrating, we want to recognize a few special professions, since we have a number of clients in these professions:

May 6th – 10th is Teacher Appreciation Week and I hope this week’s blog does it justice

  • May 6th (today) is Nurses Day.  Where would we be without our wonderful nurses?

  • May 6th – 12th is Be Kind to Animals Week.  Have you checked out our Pawz and Purz posts?  There are some amazing fur-babies up for adoption that would just love your kindness.

  • May 10th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  Although they may not be enlisted, they certainly are active participants in serving our country.

  • Rounding out the week on May 12th is Mother’s Day.  


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 Teacher Appreciation Week

By Amy Irvine, CFP®, EA, MPAS®

Corning, New York

Parrish, Florida

We are blessed to get to work with some amazing teachers and administrators at our practice and there have been a few that have influenced our lives in ways they will never know, even when we try to tell them.

For those of you that have read my book, “Uncork Your Finances,” you know that I give a lot of credit to a teacher that helped me discover my passion for finance. In honor of teacher appreciation week, I once again would like to mention that Lenny Caruso was an extraordinary teacher and I am very excited to be recording a podcast with him very soon for release in June.  

Another extra special mention in our lives include “Chief” and “Tricia.”  They will know who they are, and their long-term friendship (since 1976) and guidance is forever engrained in our lives.  

These individuals spent their entire career focused on growing knowledge; encouraging us to draw our own conclusions and, most of all, inspiring curiosity.

It’s that curiosity that has driven me to change the face of financial planning, asking why.  Why do we have to charge based on your assets? Why do you need to have a lot of money to have a financial planner?  Why can’t we start financial education at a young age? Why do we assume that everyone understands financial basics? Why do school districts allow sales people to sell products, but not include financial education? Why, Why, Why?  

When the www.403bwise.com website was launched, I was one of the first members to jump on the bandwagon wanting to protect our educators and provide them with unbiased information.   Still, I feel it is a challenge to get the information front and center. For example, did you know that in New York, certain school districts offer an opportunity to participate in the New York State 457 Deferred Compensation plan?  The underlying investments in this plan are very low cost for the most part and have special provisions not offered by 403b plans. But no one gets a commission if you elect that option, so it remains a “secret.”

Also, did you know that many teacher Unions have negotiated to offer group rates for things like disability, life and home and auto insurance?  All of these may save you money and protect you and your family in the long run! But if you utilize these products, no one gets a commission.

There is a trend, but let’s end it.

For those of you that are not teachers, my guess is you know a few and given the influence they’ve had on your life (or you children/grand-children/etc.), you would want them to get the best advice.  Just like they may have given to you years ago.

So, join me this week in saying thank you to a retired or active teacher that has influenced your life, from the feedback I’ve received, they would love to hear from you.

Want to hear more about people that have influenced my life?  Attend the YWCA Annual Tribute to Women Fundraising Luncheon, join me in being an anomaly and asking why!



Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: Outsourcing for Small Businesses

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Outsourcing, Should I?

By Kate Welker, CFP

Hornell, NY

When you’re a small business owner, especially starting out, you are everything. You are the boss, the accountant, the clerk, the handyman. As your business grows you will need to start thinking about the best use of your time and money. Delegation is hard, letting go of a piece of your business might feel like you are losing control but it might be the perfect opportunity to gain more control of your business. One of the easiest ways to begin to delegate is to start outsourcing.

When considering what to outsource start by looking at the areas that are causing you the most frustration or feel like the biggest time sucker. By hiring someone else to handle that task it frees you up to be producing for your business or to build in more free time for your life. If outsourcing a task for $50 an hour will let you make $150 an hour you are coming out ahead. If there is a task that can be outsourced that will give you five more hours a week with your family the cost may be well worth it. You will also want to look at the other benefits to be gained such as specialized knowledge.

There are many tasks you may consider outsourcing, I’m going to touch on a few of the more popular.

Accounting: Generally the first task a small business will choose to outsource.  Accounting tasks can take up a large amount of time, especially if you are not a numbers person and struggle to keep up with the process. A professional bookkeeper will be able to accomplish this in a much faster time period. A professional may also be able to recommend strategies to save money and get the most beneficial tax deductions.

Human Resources:  Payroll, staffing, recording keeping. There are many options available now to outsource HR needs. There are apps and software to help with recordkeeping. Consultants are available to work either virtually or in person to come in and take some of this burden off your plate.

Maintenance: Starting out funds may be tight and you are tackling everything including the construction, repairs, lawn care, and more. As your business grows and there is room in the budget consider sourcing these out. Particularly if you are not a handy person this will save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

IT: In an ever increasing digital age having an IT professional on hand will help your business in multiple ways. You may be adept in this area, I am not and find myself unable to keep up with the newest technology and requirements in security, speed, and advancement. I could spend hours on the research, but that is not a good use of my time. Having a trusted professional that can make sure your cyber security system is solid will protect you information and that of your clients. An opinion on whether you need to upgrade or are ok to continue the current protocol will also help save money over time.

Marketing: When you are ready to start expanding a marketing specialist will be able to focus the funds you are ready to spend go to the best use. Take advantage of the knowledge this person may have of social media channels, demographics, website traffic and SEO optimization.

There are so many other areas you could choose to outsource, it will ultimately come down to your business and what will make the most impact to you. At Rooted Planning Group we are also able to assist your business with financial planning to get your business and personal financial life together.


Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: Earth Day by Becky Partridge

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Our theme this week is Earth Day!

For those of you that have been on Market Street in Corning, you may have noticed a unique display in the window the past few weeks.  We are proud to promote local events that are happening in our community, especially when the organization is operating on a shoestring budget.   The display is meant to bring awareness to an event happening on May 4th called “ReCouture,” previously known as Recycled Runway.

Here’s the really cool thing - in honor of this event and Earth Day (Today, Monday April 22nd), we are giving away a ticket to this cool event to the first person that speaks for it.  Not just any ole ticket either, a VIP ticket! Full disclosure, I do serve on a sub-committee for The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, so I’d like to see the event do well for multiple reasons.*   If you are interested in learning more about the event (and we’d love to see you there), check out the Fashion Show Website Page.  What a fun night out this will be, along with being a good cause!  And if you are wondering, yes this picture is made 100% out of recycled items.

Also stay tuned for Friday’s Wine and Dime Podcast release where we talk about how each of us can make small inexpensive adjustments in our lives to leave a better footprint.  I think you’ll love Becky’s tips below, our resident budget buster has some great savings tips for you!


Earth Day

By Financial Planner Becky Partridge

Corning, New York

Earth Day is a day where people take a step back, and think about how they can help the planet. What if I told you that you can help save the earth, and save money while doing so? There are many things in your everyday life that you could do by making tiny adjustments so that you can save money and make a huge environmental impact.

Let’s start with drinking tap water instead of using bottled water. If you are in an area with safe tap water, consider using a refillable water bottle instead of grabbing bottled water. If you take a refillable bottle, you can save upwards of $2 a bottle depending on where you shop. This adds up over the course of a year, not to mention the fact that you aren’t wasting plastic when you use a refillable bottle! It’s estimated that only 23% of water bottles are recycled. If you do use a one-time use water bottle, please do your part and recycle. If you live in a state like New York, or any of the other states which have a container deposit, you can get the nickel deposit back for every bottle you return. If you do some research you may even find a redemption center that gives back 6 or 7 cents, which will allow you to earn some money back.  

Another way to save money and the earth is to buy fewer groceries. I know this one sounds odd, but did you know that nearly 25% - 40% of food bought ends up being thrown out? If you could reduce your grocery budget by 25% - 40% think of all the money you will be saving! You will also be reducing the amount of space you take up in a landfill. When you have to throw food out, you could consider having a compost pile to make fertile soil that you could use to grow a garden to save even more money. There is nothing better than fresh picked fruits and vegetables.

Who doesn’t love a nice cup of hot or iced coffee? Keurigs have become the coffee maker of choice for people all over largely due to their simplicity and efficiency. It’s sad though that almost all K-cups are enclosed in an individual plastic shell. Thankfully there are some companies who are coming out with eco-friendly pods, and there are also refillable K-cups. The refillable K-cups are great because they save on the amount of plastic being sent to landfills and they are much more economical than throwaway pods. In fact, a single K-cup averages out to be about 4 times the cost of using traditional ground coffee in a refillable pod. If you drink a lot of coffee that adds up to a substantial saving each year. Going along with saving money and the environment on coffee comes coffee on the go. Places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have made getting coffee on the go very convenient, but think about the effect that has on your wallet and the environment. To-go cups are often times plastic or what appears to be paper, but the inner coating is actually plastic which makes these cups take a long time to decompose in the landfill. The average cup of coffee is around $3. I’m not saying don’t spend your money this way if that is what makes you happy, but it might be beneficial to reduce the amount of coffee you buy outside of your home; try making it from home and taking it with you on occasion. If you are going to be purchasing coffee when you are away from home, consider taking a reusable cup with you. Most coffee shops and gas stations welcome you bringing in your own cup. In fact, many places even give a discount if you bring your own cup.

*The ARTS Council of the Southern Tier is an independent organization, this is published with their permission.


There are many other ways that you could save money and the environment together. What is your action plan? We would love to hear from you!

Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: The Boston Marathon and Money by Kerrie Beene

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Happy Tax Day!  While we find this day to be one of the most stressful overall days of the year with last minute decisions and actions, the team made a commitment this year to make sure we managed our stress with healthy behaviors like exercise and eating right.  What does this have to do with finances? Read below as Financial Planner Kerrie Beene shares her experience on this journey. We also want to wish all of the Boston Marathon runners the best of luck today!!

The Boston Marathon and Money

By Financial Planner Kerrie Beene

Rooted Planning Group

April 15th is Tax Day but even more exciting than that, it is Boston Marathon Day.  A marathon is 26.2 Miles. There are around 570 marathons held each year in the United States.  Around 24% of runners have run a marathon, which accounts for 0.5% of the U.S. population.

The Boston Marathon is one of the World Marathon Majors - these are the top six annual marathons run in major cities around the globe.  The other five are held in New York City, Chicago, Berlin, London, and Tokyo.

The first Boston Marathon was ran in 1897.  It is always held on the 3rd Monday in April, also Patriot’s Day.  The day is a state holiday in Massachusetts and Maine and all local offices and schools are closed.  

Every year since 1903, the Boston Red Sox, play a game the morning of the marathon.  After the game, spectators head to Kenmore Square and cheer on the runners. There are other fun traditions held each year, such as, the scream tunnel and Greek inspired wreaths for winners.  Unfortunately, in 2013, was the Boston Marathon bombing where explosives killed three people and injured hundreds.

The Boston Marathon attracts around 500,000 spectators each year to watch the 30,000 qualifying runners.  The Boston Marathon has a serious registration process that begins in September the year before you would like to race.

To begin the registration process you have to be 18 years old and already ran a marathon with the International Association of Athletics Association within the last 18 months.  Eighty percent of entries are reserved for the fastest qualifying times. Unfortunately, even if you qualify that does not mean you will get to run. For the 2019 race, more than 7,000 entries were not accepted.  

Example of Qualifying Standard:

  • 40 Year Old Male - Qualifying Time - 3 Hours and 10 Minutes (Under 8 minutes per mile)

  • 40 Year Old Female - Qualifying Time - 3 Hours and 40 Minutes (Under 9 minutes per mile)

  • 20 Year Old Male - Qualifying Time - 3 Hours (Under 7 minutes per mile)

  • 20 Year Old Female - Qualifying Time - 3 Hours and 30 Minutes (Around 8 minutes per mile)

Male and Female Winners of the Boston Marathon receive:

  • $150,000 for 1st Place

  • $75,000 for 2nd Place

  • $40,000 for 3rd Place

Reading about the history of the marathon and the associated facts is fun.  However, I do not foresee myself running a marathon anytime soon.

Most people, including myself, jump on and off the exercise bandwagon many times throughout our adult lives. I have been exercising for a while now and see myself continuing.  I have created a habit and enjoy the endorphins. I do it for my health and so should everyone, but could it also make us wealthier?

The answer is yes!  Some of the answer comes from personal experience and some of it comes from facts.  My experience has taught me that when I do one positive activity, it encourages me to do another positive activity.  For example, I notice when I exercise I am naturally attracted to healthier foods and vice versa. When I do not exercise, I warm up a honey bun after dinner and then binge watch Netflix.  Well, I watch Netflix regardless, but I feel less guilty if I am not eating a honey bun. The other thing that I have noticed is that when I exercise, my house is cleaner and I don’t mind cooking at home.  On the days I exercise, my endorphins keep me moving and I come home and am in the mood to get to cooking or even pickup my house and then cook. I also look forward to doing things outside, like yard work and cleaning outside.  While, this is not formal research, it is real and I see the results.

More formal research shows that one cost saving advantage of exercising is our medical bills.  We all know the multiple health reasons to exercise but The Lancet states that, just walking 150 minutes per week will result in $2,500 less per year on Healthcare.  

The FI Introvert website shows other ways fitness can also save you money by simply eliminating one behavior for a healthier, more enjoyable behavior:

  • Walking and biking rather than driving saves on car maintenance and gas

  • Hiking and taking in nature’s scenery rather than scenes from a movie saves on sedentary entertainment expenses

  • Buying fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meat rather than expensive and nutritionally weak processed meals saves on food costs

  • Drinking water is less expensive than sugary soda and other drinks

  • Going out and playing sports saves money on mindless cable TV consumption

  • Save on alcohol and cigarettes by not wanting to negate the gains from your investment in your health

So, at the end of the day, maybe the Boston Marathon is not on your bucket list, but exercising should become a daily habit…. It will make you healthier and wealthier.

Want to learn more about our services?  Take control now and reach out to us.

Monday Morning Quarter-Buck 4-8-2019: Apple Card Review by Matt Fizell

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Have you heard the news about the new Apple Card?  Read below for Financial Planner Matt Fizell’s take on this new product.

In other news, did you know that April 7 - 13 is national volunteer week?  I recently recorded a podcast to be released on April 19th with one of my long-term volunteer commitments, we hope you enjoy that upcoming podcast and learning more about Faith-in-Action Steuben County, and don’t miss last week’s episode with Courtney Berry - women extraordinaire!  

Also, we love to celebrate anything financial planning related, so join us in celebrating Retirement Planning Week from April 9th - April 13th - if you haven’t updated your retirement plan recently, this is a perfect week to do so (or at least to schedule a time to do so)!  


And consider celebrating those fur babies too!  April 10 is ASPCA Day - a great day to combine both a celebration of animals and volunteer week (like how I pulled that all together)!

Finally, we received an alert from our VPN provider that yet another Facebook security failure occurred and millions of records were leaked.  This time information included comments, likes, reactions, account names, and Facebook ID’s, along with some email addresses. The compromise was a result of a third-party app called “At The Pool,” which even stored passwords of 22,000 users in plaintext (not encrypted).  If you have ever used this app, it’s time to change your Facebook password. Also, if you use that same password for any other websites, make sure you change those too. As always, beware of phishing attacks as a result of this breach.


Apple Card Review

by Financial Planner Matt Fizell

Rooted Planning Group

While I did not watch the Apple press release this week, I had a slew of texts come my way asking about my opinion on the Apple Card which will be released this summer and “completely rethinks everything about the credit card by representing all the things Apple stands for.”

Words such as simplicity, transparency, and privacy were heavily used throughout the presentation, so I figured I would dive in and see what the buzz is about! So you are probably asking yourself, what makes this card so different?

First things first, before we get to the fun stuff... please remember this is a credit card!  Credit cards are a great tool when used properly, but if not properly managed, the Apple Card will just create new problems in your financial life.  We strongly suggest understanding your financial health BEFORE you consider taking out any credit cards, understand your spending habits so a great tool doesn’t become a major setback.

The limited information available at press release time does show some promise around their core values:

  • Simplicity:

    • You can apply for the card right on your phone, and if approved, your card is ready for use via any Apple Pay kiosk at the stores you already visit.

    • The card actually keeps a running total of your purchases AND lays out a budget for you! As a Financial Planner, this is probably the coolest thing about the card in my eyes... we all know making a budget by going through statements is a HUGE PAIN! Brownie points to Apple for trying to make budgeting sexy.

    • You can update your account address or other important information by simply texting Apple Support, very slick indeed, no more waiting on hold with the card issuer or navigating the wonky websites we all know and love.

  • Transparency:

    • No fees, period.  This includes fees such as late payment fees, international fees, cash advance fees, overdraft fees, and no annual fees also.

      • Make note... Missing a payment WILL still impact your credit score. So don’t lean on that one if possible!

    • Interest rates are what they are.  Based on your credit at the time of application, you will receive an APR between 13.24% and 24.24%.  These are pretty in-line with industry standards, BUT you will not be charged a penalty APR like you will on some other products.  

    • If you do not pay off the entire balance each month, Apple Card will tell you approximately what interest will be charged to your account.  This is another huge win in my book for consumers... Just like some financial planners simply draw fees from your account and aren’t transparent, most big credit card issuers will simply assess it on those statements you probably don’t read like most people.


Detailed information surrounding the Privacy Protocol with the card is still fuzzy... so look for an updated version of this article when we have information to share. We pride ourselves on only giving information we would use for our own financial decision making.

Want to find what financial independence looks like in your personal financial world? Contact us to schedule a free initial meeting to discuss your goals, current situation, and let us help you draw up a plan so that you can live your best financial life... it really is as simple as having a great conversation and letting us take care of the behind-the-scenes, technical aspects of a well-executed financial plan we deal with each and every day. Just like Apple Card, you won’t pay any fees you don’t know about and we will be sure to let you know what your cost is BEFORE you sign any papers.


Monday Morning Quarter-Buck 4-1-2019: Understanding Required Minimum Distributions by Scott DuMond

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Happy April 1st!  Did you know that April Fools’ Day is also called All Fools’ Day?  Did you also know that it may have started in the 16th Century due to a calendar change?  That calendar change was a switch from the year starting in April to the year starting in January.  Another theory ties it to the “vernal equinox,” which is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, but the weather doesn’t always behave Spring like (I know my New York clients will believe this!).  

For those of us in the personal finance world, it is a date that carries different meaning to us!  It is the last day you can defer your Required Minimum Distribution the year after you turn 70½, no April fools there, we don’t want you to miss that date and pay the 50% penalty!


 Understanding Required Minimum Distributions

By Financial Planner Scott DuMond, CFP®

“I turned 70 this year, isn’t there something I am supposed to do with my retirement accounts?”

The topic for today’s lesson is IRS Minimum Distribution requirements at age 70 ½. The IRS has a nasty penalty for not taking the required Minimum Distribution withdrawal, 50% of what you should have taken… and that’s no April fool.

I tell my students and clients that understanding Minimum Distribution requirements are like cutting an onion. There is always another layer, and the deeper you go, the more you cry. I am never sure if I am joking or not, so let’s take this one layer at a time. Out of respect for you and your tear ducts, we will stick to the first few layers. Please do understand that there is always another layer and it is worth talking to your financial advisor or tax professional as you approach age 70.

Layer One

If you have turned 70 or are turning 70 this year, be sure to talk with your tax advisor or financial planner. They will tell you what you need to do and when. The simple answer is either this year or next you will be required to take a withdrawal from your 401ks or IRAs of approximately 4% of your total.

That’s it. Feel free to stop reading here and talk to your financial professional. If you want to keep reading I will keep explaining. However, feel free to come back to Layer One at any time.

Layer Two

Exactly when do I have to take this withdrawal?

A person is required to take their first minimum distribution withdrawal the April 1st of the year following the year they turn 70 ½. *

Example 1:

Fred turns 70 in May of 2019. He then turns 70 ½ six months later in November of 2019. He will have to take out a distribution before April 1 of 2020.

Example 2:

Wilma turns 70 in July of 2019. She then turns 70 ½ six months later in January of 2020. She will have to take the distribution before April 1 of 2021. (The April 1st of the year after the year she turns 70 ½.)

Layer Three

When should a person take their first minimum distribution withdrawal?

They should take it the year they turn 70 ½ and not wait until the following April.

Example 1:

Fred turned 70 ½ in November of 2019. He therefore should take his withdrawal in 2019. The IRS gives you until the following April in case you didn’t know and needed to be told by your tax advisor.

So Fred could actually take his first withdrawal anytime between January 1st 2019 and April 1st 2020. He should keep in mind that this becomes an every year thing. He may want to be sure to take the first withdrawal in 2019 so he doesn’t have two withdrawals in the same year. The first one by April of 2020 and the second one by December of 2020. That could hurt come tax time.

Example 2:

Wilma turned 70 ½ in January 2020. She therefore should take her withdrawal in 2020. Wilma could take her withdrawal anytime between January 1st 2020 and April 1st 2021 and still be in compliance.

Layer Four

Exactly how much do I have to withdraw to stay in compliance and make the IRS happy?

This is a simple math problem. Find out the balance of all of your 401ks, IRAs, and other retirement accounts as of the December 31st of the year before the year your turn 70 ½. Divide that number by 27.4 if you will be 70 at the end of the year that you turn 70 ½ or divide that number by 26.5 if you will turn 71 at the end of the year that you turn 70 ½.

In the examples above, Fred would use 27.4 as his divisor and Wilma would use 26.5 as her divisor. The math would show you the amount of money you need to withdraw to make the IRS happy. Remember that it is your money. The IRS just wants you to withdraw it so they can tax you on it.

Like the directions on your shampoo bottle, this is a lather, rinse, repeat requirement. Meaning each year after you turn 70 ½ you will have to do this again with slightly different numbers. Thank you for joining me for this endeavor. Enjoy your spring!

*Remember if you have any concerns about this topic, please go back to Layer One.

*Remember also that there are many exceptions to this requirement that need to be reviewed. We just scratched the surface today in a topic that could be discussed in a full book.


Monday Morning Quarter-Buck 3-25-2019: Mom and Pop Small Business Budget - Your Passion...Budgeted By Financial Planner Kate Welker, CFPⓇ

Can you believe this is the last Monday of March!  Wow - how quickly the first quarter of 2019 has flown by!

Before we dive into this weeks blog, we thought we would share some tips from your VPN vendor on search engine privacy:

DuckDuckGo is probably the best known alternative search engine. It doesn’t use cookies that can identify users and discards IP addresses from its server logs. DuckDuckGo also shows the same search results to everybody, which is refreshing when compared to Google’s aggressive profiling.

StartPage is another privacy-focused tool our tech team recommends. It sources its search results from Google, which is a good thing if you simply want Google without the tracking.


Mom and Pop Small Business Budget - Your Passion...Budgeted

By Financial Planner Kate Welker, CFPⓇ

Budgeting.

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I feel like financial planners bring up that word all the time, but that is because understanding your cash flow is essential to creating a successful financial plan. What if your income is inconsistent? I really enjoy working with small business owners and this can be one of the most challenging financial issues they face.

The first essential piece to figure out will be your baseline personal budget. Start with the barebones essential budget. This should cover all of the bills you have to pay each month plus the basic necessities such as groceries and gas. Next figure out your goal budget amount. This will be a higher amount, it is that barebones budget with your “fun money” discretionary spending and savings goals built in.

Once you have those figures together you will move on to analyzing your business financials and work on your business budget. You have to determine what your business needs are before you can determine how well you can support yourself from the income each month. You are going to look at the past years financials to review a few key numbers:

  1. You created a baseline budget for yourself, now do the same for your business. This number will tell you how much you have to leave in your business account each month. This will additionally give you your minimum sales goal. Your baseline business budget added to your minimum personal budget is the minimum your business needs to bring in each month.

  2. Include your income needs as an expense in your business budget. This can be thought of as your paycheck.

  3. Look for trends. Notice if there are certain months that sales are typically low, or the opposite times that sales are higher than normal. Besides income take note of times that expenses might be higher than usual. If you are in an industry that is seasonal this step is even more important for you. This will help you be aware of what to plan for in upcoming months.

  4. As with any budget you are going to analyze your numbers, both personal and business, to see if there are any categories that need to be adjusted. If you are overspending in a category now is the time to be honest and think through ways to lower those expenses.

Now that you know the numbers, you need to work on making the numbers work. An effective way to do this is to get one month ahead and live off of those funds for that month. During the month you are letting the new funds coming in grow in the bank account. At the end of the month you will review the financials for that month, make sure the amount to cover the business budget is there, and determine what you are able to take as your income for the next month. Working in advance takes off the pressure that the money won’t come in when you need it to pay a bill and allows you to be more objective planning out the next month.

In months with a surplus you will put those extra funds in a savings account. In months where there is a deficit you will have the savings account ready to fill in the gaps and keep your budget balanced. You should periodically go back to the first step to review and adjust.

This is an overview on ways to make planning for the ups and downs a little bit simpler. That working budget will always be a work in progress, but if you commit to reviewing the numbers regularly and being intentional about setting any surplus funds aside you will find more stability in the month to month.

If the thought of reviewing your numbers and planning your cash flow is daunting or you’d like to discuss how a financial plan can help your small business, we are accepting new clients and would love to talk with you!  


Monday Morning Quarter-Buck 3-18-2019: Tax Bracketology by Matt Fizell

Top O’the mornin’ to you all!  We hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick's day!  We hope you enjoy this weeks fun tax facts by Rooted Planning Group’s Financial Planner Matt Fizell.

Tax-Bracketology

by Matt Fizell


As the calendar flips to March many people find their focus shifting to two very different things, taxes and basketball.  It is March Madness for the NCAA Basketball teams lucky enough to find themselves fighting for a National Championship, and also March Madness for those frantically hoping to file their taxes before the April 15th deadline.  These two categories will also be hot topics for breakroom chatter at your place of work, so here are a few handy tips to sound smart in those conversations, or maybe even boost your chances of having the bragging rights of the best bracket!

Let’s start with the fun stuff first... taxes obviously!

1) A bigger refund does not mean less taxes paid!

  • It simply means you paid in more taxes than you owed to Uncle Sam.  That means you essentially provided them with extra money, and you didn’t even earn interest!

  • H&R Block estimates only 1 in 5 people accurately adjusted their W-4, which is what your employer uses to estimate the correct amount of tax withholding from your income. If you find yourself owing money this year, feel free to schedule a complimentary appointment (click here)  with a member of our team to help walk you through your paystub and W-4 to make sure everything is squared away before it is too late in 2019.

2) My raise put me in a higher tax bracket this year, so now I have to pay more taxes on my income...

  • This co-worker of yours is partially correct, but it is important to understand the difference between marginal tax and effective tax rates.

  • For this example, we will assume a single filer, with $85,000 of income.

When tax is applied to income, we need to take a bucket approach to thinking about how it is being taxed in each bracket.  When one bucket overflows, the income goes to the next bucket and is taxed at the appropriate rate.

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As you can see, your co-worker’s income is barely trickling into the 24% marginal tax rate, the rate at which his next dollar of income is taxed at.  His effective (or average tax paid per dollar) rate is only 17.28%


Now for the real reason you are here... you want to have a better bracket than all of your friends, coworkers, or die-hard basketball fans you associate with. For those of you who didn’t quite understand my “Bracketology” pun above... Bracketology is “the activity of predicting the participants in and outcomes of the games in a sports tournament, especially the NCAA college basketball tournament.” (Dictionary.com) and it is safe to say Bracketologists are about as accurate as your favorite local meteorologist, tarot card reader, or stock-picker, so proceed with caution!

1) In 2018, the unthinkable happened... The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) upset the Virginia Cavaliers by a landslide score of 74-54 to become the first #16 seed to upset a #1 seed team in the NCAA Tournament’s history.  Before this, #16 seeds were 0-135 against #1 seeds. Maybe history will repeat itself this year? It is a bold pick, but losing a #1 seed in the first round could mean a lot of heartbreak if you chose them as the National Champion in your bracket.

2) If you are looking to separate yourself early in the bracket challenge, look at the #5 Seed vs. #12 Seed matchups.  The #12 seed teams perform quite well in first round games, better than any other double digit seed, with a win/loss record of 47-89 against #5 seeds.  Those #12 seeds who have completed the first upset have approximately a 33% chance of making it to the Sweet 16. So pick one #12/#5 upset, and stick with them... chances are others in your pool won’t do the same, and you can pick up some valuable points!

3)  No team in NCAA History has ever had an unbeaten season.  The most recent team to come close was the Kentucky Wildcats in 2015, when they were defeated in the Final Four by whom else... but my beloved Wisconsin Badgers. While the Badgers ultimately lost to Duke in the National Championship, the numbers “38-1” will always mean something special to me and my fellow Badgers out there. Needless to say, State Street here in Madison, WI was a little crowded that night.

If you want to have a friendly conversation about your bracket, your taxes, or your personal financial life check out some of our resources and go ahead and schedule some one-on-one time with us.  While we can’t promise our bracket tips will help, we can promise to answer any questions you may have about our services, our fees, and how we can help before you sign any paperwork, so that you can take control of your finances on your own terms.

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