New Year's (Financial) Resolutions
February, 2010 - Issue #64
Resolve to Do Something about your Debt
You can dwell on the past forever, so why beat yourself up? Through circumstances that you didn't anticipate, you're in a deep hole with no end in sight. We provide solutions that involve wiping all debt away, or arranging a debt consolidation option based on what you can afford with a fixed number of payments that protects you from lawsuits. The fact is, you can live debt free and move on with your life. The first, and most important, step is picking up the phone and asking for help. ~ Hale Andrew Antico of SCV Bankruptcy 252-9900

Resolve to Change Banks
If you were one of millions caught in the middle of last year's financial meltdown, resolve to end a bad banking relationship. In fact, there's never been a better time to switch to a community bank. What makes a community bank the place you want to be? Think back and remember the days when you could walk into a bank and everyone knew your name. It's still that way at SCVBank where customers have access to executive management, along with the personalized service that growing businesses require. Our focus has always been on building strong, long-term relationships with customers. We now offer an Easy Switch Kit, which makes switching banks quick and easy.
At SCVBank, we're growing, not going. ~ Kris Hough of SCVBank 255-9250

Resolve to Develop a Business Plan
A great New Year's Resolution for any business is to spend some time reviewing and revamping (or developing) your company's business plan. It is important to remember that a business plan is never really finished, but is rather a continually-evolving work in progress and should to be adjusted to reflect changing economic and market conditions when necessary. A well-thought-out business plan can provide your company with the framework needed to support strategic adjustments to your products and services and assist you in reaching new markets and clients quickly.

A strong business plan should be well organized and include your goals and growth strategies; projections on future financial performance (along with the assumptions used to identify these performance projections); it should describe your business in detail; your marketing strategies, your customers, and your competition as well as a detailed description of your product(s) and/or service(s). Lastly, it should detail the ownership of the business and key management team as well as your succession plan.

Regardless of the size or maturity of the company, current business plans are essential for success. After all, how can you get there if you don't know where you are going? ~ Tamara Gurney of Mission Valley Bank 775-4100 and 253-9500

Resolve to Buy Property
The main thing I would recommend for anyone to resolve to do this year is to buy property. Now is the best time to buy a home. People are landing really good deals that we haven't seen in years - home prices are at their best and rates are at their lowest. If you have the money and the savings, it would be a very good investment to buy property right now. History has shown that down markets go back up. Also, make sure you keep your credit score top notch so that you can qualify for the great rates we have right now. Always pay your bills on time or pay them off. And, if you have any questions on where to buy, call me! ~ Rose Characky of J. Dalton Realty & Mortgage 714-3863

2010 Tax Know How
by Danielle Cooper
The ringing in of the New Year signaled the end of 2009, and it also signaled the end of the opportunity to plan and reduce your tax liability. There are very few last-minute ways to save money on your taxes. Year-round tax planning is needed. Resolve to start early and make the most of 2010.

Establish record keeping for 2010. Set up your individual and/or business record keeping for 2010, such as receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support an item of income or a deduction you're taking.

Plan ahead for 2010. Estimate what your annual income and tax payment will be.

Consider starting a business or continue to grow the one you have. Tax perks and deductions are geared toward the business owner.

Consider all filing options for 2009. There are many different options for filing your tax return. Prepare it yourself, go to a tax preparation chain or visit with a Certified Public Accountant. Preparing a tax return yourself is a good idea when you have a simple return (e.g. you receive a W-2 and/or make less than $50,000 a year). Going to tax preparation chain is good if you do not need more tax deductions, as they do little probing for tax deductions. CPAs generally provide the most accurate return, provide free initial consultations and assist in planning for the next year. Consider all options and choose the one most suited for you.
Danielle Cooper is the owner of Veracity Tax 800-462-8602.

Tax Tips a Computer Can't Teach You
by Michael L. Green

When it comes to paying income taxes, you should pay what you owe - and keep as much as you can! In 2009, numerous new and expanded deductions and credits came into being for a broad cross-section of taxpayers: college tax benefits for parents and students; energy credits for homeowners who are going green; and even tax breaks for home buyers and car buyers. Hiring a tax preparation professional is key to understanding 2009's ins and outs of some very complicated tax law changes. Below are just a few of the changes that may save you money.

• American Opportunity Credit Helps Pay for First Four Years of College

• Many Energy Improvements Qualify for Expanded Tax Credits

• Non-business Energy Property Credit: Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit & New Vehicle Purchase Incentive

• Tax Credits Increased for Low and Moderate Income Workers

• Standard Deduction Increases for Most Taxpayers

• AMT Exemption Increased for One Year

P.S. The standard mileage rate for business use of a car, van or pick-up is 55 cents for each mile driven.
Michael L. Green is the owner of Michael L. Green Tax and Financial 257-4111.
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