Monday, March 31, 2014

What's in a COLOR?

Seems that even your choice of colors can say alot about you. Funny because I like some colors for some things and some different colors for other things, for instance: I like the color "blue" in general, I like my clothes in "black" and I like my home color schemes to be neutrals in the shades of tans and whites. Am I weird or is this true for you too? So what do the colors reveal about our personalities? BLACK: Authoritative; too much can seem unapproachable. GRAY: Sophisticated and confident WHITE: Traditional and conservative; clean and simple. RED: Dynamic and bold. ORANGE: Social and fun. YELLOW: Cheerful and playful. BRIGHT GREEN: Youthful and naive. DARK GREEN: Calm and reassuring; implies wealth. BLUE: Friendly, safe and secure. Symbolizes loyalty and control. PURPLE: Creative and unconventional; also suggests wealth and sophistication. LIGHT PINK: Soft and nurturing. BRIGHT PINK: Confident and assured. BROWN: Solid, reliable and genuine. reflects stability and promotes communication. I found these lists on line from several sources, interesting that they agreed on most of them. So what color are you most like or drawn to? I think for me it's still BLUE.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Office (Chair) Wellness and Comfort

Have you ever given much thought to your chair at work? Perhaps it's time you did. The spring 2014 Office Max "Workplace Exchange" magazine says to use this 8 step check list to help maximize your workplace, health, wellness, confort and productivity: (associated with your chair) 1) Lessen neck strain by using a monitor pedestal or an adjustable chair so the top of your computer screen is slightly below eye level. 2) Reduce glare: a screen filter can minimize eye strain and help prevent headaches if working in an area with lots of natural light or bright light. 3) Stay centered: Keep your body centered on your workspace, keyboard and monitor. 4) About the "wrists": A wrist rest can help to type in comfort all day. 5) Paperwork : Referring to documents lying flat on your desk can result in neck strain. A document holder or stand can make this easier and more comfortable. 6) Light: Headaches can result from poor lighting. Extra desk lamps can help. 7) Reduce pressure: An adjustable chair with "waterfall edge" will keep upper legs horizontal and reduce pressure on the spine. 8) Flat feet: Both feet should be resting flat on the floor. If your chair is not adjustable consider using a footrest. To add my own little insight, keep that "antibacterial" nearby and use it multiple times a day and don't forget to wipe down the desk, armrests, phone and keyboard occasionally! Stay well at the office.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Speaking of Taxes, Home Owner Tax Tips 2014

Found this great article on: By Kay Bell of Published January 31, 2014 - Good stuff for my homeowners! If you're among the new property owners, congratulations. You've just taken another step up the American-dream ladder and are a homeowner. Along with the joy of painting, plumbing and yard work, you now have some new tax considerations. The good news is you can deduct many home-related expenses. These tax breaks are available for any abode -- mobile home, single-family residence, town house, condominium or cooperative apartment. Most homeowners enjoy tax breaks even when they sell their residence. The bad news is, to take full tax advantage of your home, your taxes will likely get more complicated. In most cases, homeowners itemize. That means you're not living on "EZ" Street anymore; you've moved to Form 1040 and Schedule A, where you'll have to detail your tax-deductible expenses. For many homeowners, the effort of itemizing is well worth it at tax time. Some, however, might find that claiming the standard deduction remains their best move. If you do find that itemizing is best for your tax situation, here's a look at homeowner expenses you can deduct on Schedule A, ones you can't and some tips to get the most tax advantages out of your new property-owning status. {Please consult a tax professional for questions or advice.} Mortgage interest - Your biggest tax break is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners, the bulk of that check goes toward interest. And all that interest is deductible, unless your loan is more than $1 million. If you're the proud owner of a multimillion-dollar mortgaged mansion, the Internal Revenue Service will limit your deductible interest. Interest tax breaks don't end with your home's first mortgage. Did you pull out extra cash through refinancing? Or did you decide instead to get a home equity loan or line of credit? Generally, equity debts of $100,000 or less are fully deductible. What if you're the proud owner of multiple properties? Mortgage interest on a second home also is fully deductible. In fact, your additional property doesn't have to strictly be a house. It could be a boat or RV, as long as it has cooking, sleeping and bathroom facilities. You can even rent out your second property for part of the year and still take full advantage of the mortgage interest tax deduction as long as you also spend some time there. But be careful. If you don't vacation at least 14 days at your second property, or more than 10% of the number of days that you do rent it out (whichever is longer), the IRS could consider the place a residential rental property and ax your interest deduction. Points - Did you pay points to get a better rate on any of your various home loans? They offer a tax break, too. The only issue is exactly when you get to claim them. The IRS lets you deduct points in the year you paid them if, among other things, the loan is to purchase or build your main home, payment of points is an established business practice in your area and the points were within the usual range. Make sure your loan meets all the qualification requirements so that you can deduct points all at once. A homeowner who pays points on a refinanced loan is also eligible for this tax break, but in most cases the points must be deducted over the life of the loan. The same rule applies to home equity loans or lines of credit. When the loan money is used for work on the house securing the loan, the points are deductible in the year the loan is taken out. But if you use the extra cash for something else, such as buying a car, the point deductions must be parceled out over the equity loan's term. And points paid on a loan secured by a second home or vacation residence, regardless of how the cash is used, must be amortized over the life of the loan. Taxes - The other major deduction in connection with your home is property taxes. A big part of most monthly loan payments is taxes, which go into an escrow account for payment once a year. This amount should be included on the annual statement you get from your lender, along with your loan interest information. These taxes will be an annual deduction as long as you own your home. If this is your first tax year in your house, dig out the settlement sheet you got at closing to find additional tax payment data. When the property was transferred from the seller to you, the year's tax payments were divided so that each of you paid the taxes for that portion of the tax year during which you owned the home. Your share of these taxes is fully deductible. Property taxes must be deducted as an itemized expense on Schedule A. When you sell - When you decide to move up to a bigger home, you'll be able to avoid some taxes on the profit you make. Years ago, to avoid paying tax on the sale of a residence, a homeowner had to use the sale proceeds to buy another house. In 1997, the law was changed so that up to $250,000 in sales gain ($500,000 for married, filing jointly) is tax-free as long as the homeowner owned the property for two years and lived in it for two of the five years before the sale. If you sell before meeting the ownership and residency requirements, you owe tax on any profit. The IRS provides some tax relief if the sale is because of a change in the owner's health, employment or unforeseen circumstances. In these cases, the tax-free gain amount is prorated. I hope this article was thought provoking and offered you some suggestions as to how to save money (or get a better refund) on your taxes now and in the future. If you have a need for real estate; new, second, vacation or investment, call me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are We There Yet? Tolls in Tidewater/Hampton Roads, VA

Okay, so I read an article in the newspaper (Virginia-Pilot) about the new tolls in the area (Tidewater/Hampton Roads, VA) and how they are causing back ups at the other bridge crossings now as all the commuters avoid them! I guess the number of toll "avoiders" they had expected was much lower than the actual number of "avoiders". The experts anticipated some people would "go around" in the begining but come back soon there after, that didn't happen, hmm. What does that say about the commuters who use those roads? Well for one, they are sick and tired of paying tolls and will do almost anything to avoid them. For another thing, they are so used to the traffic snarls here that one more on the way to work or home is nothing to them. I feel for them ... they have to draw the line somewhere on spending (and taxes, etc.) and those are some of the highest tolls in the region for the crossing they cover. Look what happened at the Jordan? So if it was originally going to take until 2025 (or something like that) to pay off the cost needed (which by the way was at the original even higher price per vehicle toll and has already been reduced due to demand so probably has an even longer payback period) now how long will it take if only 1/3 of the estimated traffic is using it and paying for it? 3 times as long? Here's an idea: why not drop the toll to "coins" (.25, .50 or .75) and quadruple the traffic numbers daily to pay it off in the same amount of time but at a cheaper cost to the hard working public? Oh yeah, I left out the "greed factor". Too bad common sense doesn't trump greed. I know one thing that will ... stupidity. Go commuters!