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The IRS Has Cryptocurrency on Its Radar

Utah Software Engineer Mints Physical Bitcoins

by James Brown CPA jbrown@jbrowncpa.com

Ridgewood NJ, If you own cryptocurrency, you need to know that the IRS has owners of cryptocurrency in its sights because many cryptocurrency owners are not reporting or paying taxes on their cryptocurrency transactions. In fact, the IRS is so focused on this issue that it recently issued warning letters to over 10,000 taxpayers it suspects might have an under-reporting problem.

About Cryptocurrency – If you are unfamiliar with the term cryptocurrency, the short definition is a form of digital money that is not controlled by any central authority. The first cryptocurrency created was Bitcoin, back in 2009. Since then, over 4,000 other cryptocurrencies have been created. Cryptocurrency can be digitally traded between users and can be purchased for, or exchanged into, U.S. dollars, euros, and other real or virtual currencies.

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5 tips to help millennials (and everybody else) save money

Author: Benjamin Lee

From making the rent to shopping for groceries and paying off study loans, putting aside savings is nearly impossible for millennials. With a weak economy and poor job prospects, it’s a wonder that any of us are still surviving.

While it may be easy to blame all of these on poor financial management skills, this simply is not true. Despite an increase in median household incomes over the years, soaring college fees and car and property prices mean that most millennials are firmly anchored in debt. Consequently, this makes it impossible for them to have savings of any kind.

However, there is still hope on the horizon. Despite rising unemployment and soaring costs of living, it is still very possible to have some savings put aside. Here, we’ve put together a simple guide to help you have some cash in the piggy bank.

1. Put aside 10-20% of your salary each month

Call it a tax upon yourself or a forced savings scheme, either way putting aside at least 10% of your salary each month is a great way to start saving. Deposit the self-imposed 10-20% tax each month into a separate savings account via auto debit each month. Before you know it, you’ll have a fair sum put away.

2. Sign up for an IRA account

From the moment you land your first job, you should always check to see if your job has a 401k plan. If it doesn’t, sign up for an IRA account as soon as possible. Treat it your IRA deposits as just another expense and you’ll find putting aside some savings is quite possible.

3. Avoid credit card debt like the plague

A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has revealed that a whopping 55% of American households are in severe credit card debt. With the extortionate interest rates charged, it’s easy to see how outstanding credit card debt can easily balloon out of control.

As a rule of thumb, always pay off any and all existing credit card debt at the end of the month. This ensures that you’ll never be bogged down with interest payments. Also, paying off your credit card debt on a timely basis helps you develop a solid credit history.

4. Take on a side-gig

Sometimes, a single income stream just isn’t enough. Fortunately, in today’s world there are plenty of opportunities for those willing to look. An example of this can be seen in the active freelance market. 

Thousands of copywriters, designers, accountants and even virtual assistants are hired on a daily basis on sites such as Upwork.com and Freelancer.com.

Sites such as these allow you to monetize any of your skills. By taking on a side-gig or a series of freelance projects, you’ll be able to grow and multiply your income streams. Put aside your earnings from these jobs and deposit them into a savings account.

Over time, you’ll be able to save up a surprising amount of money. In some cases, successful freelancers have been known to turn their side hustle into a successful full-time business.

If you fancy sports, look out for online sportsbooks. They might offer some rewards and they have promotions and bonuses for newcomers. However, remember to wage responsibly, so you don’t lose more money than the one you are betting.

5. Audit your expenses

Auditing your personal expenses can be tough. However, by taking a look at your expenses over the previous 6 months, you’ll be able to identify areas where costs could be reduced. Whether it’s skipping on eating out or giving Starbucks a pass, you’ll find that even the smallest expenses do add up.

While it may initially seem like an insurmountable task, it is very much possible for you to have a healthy savings account. With the right combination of self-discipline and consistency, you can make saving a part of your lifestyle.

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“Operation Cryptosweep,” Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Promoters Offering Unregistered Securities

Utah Software Engineer Mints Physical Bitcoins

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced that the Bureau of Securities (“the Bureau”) today issued two emergency orders to stop online cryptocurrency-related investment entities from fraudulently offering unregistered securities in New Jersey.

The Cease and Desist Orders against Zoptax LLC a/k/a Zoptax and Unocall were announced today as part of “Operation Cryptosweep,” an international crackdown on fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) and crypto currency-related investment schemes.

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Monmouth County Man Charged With Operating An Unlicensed Bitcoin Exchange

Utah Software Engineer Mints Physical Bitcoins

\the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Wall Township NJ, A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man was indicted today by a federal grand jury for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business through which he charged customers fees to convert more than $2 million in cash into the digital currency Bitcoin.

William Green, 46, of Wall Township, was charged by indictment with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.  He is scheduled to appear before a United States District Judge on a date to be scheduled.  He was previously charged with the same offense by criminal complaint on February 28, 2019.

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Kearny Bank Survey: Affording retirement is greatest financial concern of New Jersey residents

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the staff if the Ridgewood blog

FAIRFIELD NJ, Affording retirement is the most significant financial concern of New Jersey residents. That’s the key finding from the recent Kearny Bank Personal Finances Poll, an online survey conducted recently by Fairfield-based Kearny Bank.

With 1006 responses collected, the survey indicates that more than one quarter of respondents (27.2%) consider being able to afford retirement their most pressing financial worry. Other frequently cited issues include Healthcare (17.4%), Housing (12.8%), and Daily expenses/inability to save (12.6%). Of note, “Other” – which incorporates a range of issues faced by New Jersey residents – was selected most frequently by 16.7% of those completing the survey. Rounding out the survey are Education (10.7%) and Transportation (2.7%).

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CPAs Agree U.S. Student Loan Debt is a Financial Crisis

student loans

Student Loans Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

ROSELAND NJ, More than 80 percent of 623 certified public accountants polled in June by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) said they either “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that student loan debt at $1.6 trillion in the United States is a financial crisis. More than 75 percent of respondents considered student loan debt in New Jersey to be a “major problem.”

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New Jersey Has 2nd Highest Credit Card Debt

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Americans have taken on more credit card debt in the last few years. Overall credit card debt hit $807 billion in Q1 of 2019 in the US according to Experian , a 29% increase over the last 5 years.

Here are additional credit card trends:

  • New Jersey had the 2nd highest credit card debt among all states at $6,881 in Q1 of 2019.
  • The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island Metro Area had an average credit card debt of $6,872 in 2019.
  • 60.5% of Americans had a credit card in Q1 2019, an 11% increase from Q1 of 2016.
  • The average credit card balance in Q1 2019 was $6,028
  • No Annual Fee and Secured Credit Cards were the most viewed credit cards in Q1 of 2019.

Check out the full research article here: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/state-of-credit-cards/

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New Jersey Consumers See Credit Score Increases with Experian Boost

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Experian Boost launched earlier this year with the goal of improving FICO Scores for consumers – by including payment history for common monthly bills like utility and telecom accounts. Doing so can help build credit history and boost credit scores for people.

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The Ridgewood Blog asks, “Is the American dream in more danger than you think?”

Ridgewood Real estate

July 31,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The American dream is more than owning a home. It’s owning the right home–one customized through renovations to build wealth and reflect your tastes. But most people don’t have the knowledge to make smart financial decisions around renovations, resulting in disaster: too much debt, costly delays, and even foreclosure.

According to Hearth [www.gethearth.com]—a financial tech startup that aims to restore the American dream of owning the right home—there are 8 questions to ask to avoid financial disaster while working towards that American dream:

#1: HOW MUCH DEBT DO YOU HOLD?
Calculate your debt to income ratio—your overall debt to your overall income. The lower the ratio, the more loans you may qualify for.

#2: HOW MUCH HOME EQUITY DO YOU HAVE?
That’s your home’s value, minus any debts you owe on the house. You can pledge your equity to a lender, freeing up cash and getting low loan rates.

#3: HOW’S YOUR CREDIT?
Your credit score is calculated based on personal factors like current debt and payment history. The higher it is, the better interest rates you’ll receive on a loan—so be honest with yourself.

#4: WHEN ARE YOU PLANNING TO MOVE?
How long you plan to stay in your home affects your loan repayment period. Will you pay it off over 30 years, or do you need to pay it off in 7?

#5: DO YOU—AND WILL YOU CONTINUE TO—HAVE A STEADY JOB?
Knowing you’ll have a steady source of income over a several year period gives you confidence you’ll be able to pay off your whole loan.

#6: WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Talk to a few different contractors to get a sense of how much you’re going to have to spend. If you start without an estimate, you’ll end up overspending.

#7: WHAT IS YOUR PROJECT’S TIMELINE?
If you’re strapped for time, a personal loan can deliver funds within days. But if you have time to spare, you can get home improvement loans. They take longer to release funds, but have lower rates.

#8: WILL THE RENOVATION ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME?
Talk to a contractor and find out if your renovations will pay off—and what you can change to make them worth even more. Simple switches like marble instead of granite countertops can add measurable value.

As part of its mission, Hearth prepared the ultimate guide to home improvement loans (read it here: https://www.gethearth.com/guides/home-improvement-loans). Written with input from personal finance experts, it teaches homeowners how to make smart financial decisions about investing in their homes

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3 Monumental Financial Mistakes People Make Before They Turn 50

bankrupt_theridgewoodblog,net

July 6,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The saying that youth is wasted on the young may be especially true when it comes to saving for retirement.

“Too many people wait way too long to start thinking about how much they will need to finance their retirement,” says Chris Heerlein, partner at REAP Financial LLC and author of Money Won’t Buy Happiness – But Time to Find It(www.moneywontbuyhappiness.com).

“In a way, that’s not surprising. Retirement seems so far away when you’re in your 20s and 30s, and it’s easy to think you’ll have plenty of time to worry about saving later. Then before you know it you pass 50, and you realize you missed a great opportunity to take advantage of compound interest.”

Heerlein says many young people are making at least three financial mistakes that they likely will rue when it comes time to retire. Those are:

• Not participating in a 401(k). Many employers don’t offer a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, but if yours does you need to participate, Heerlein says. An alarming number of people ignore this savings opportunity that can reap great rewards, especially if you start when you’re in your 20s and faithfully contribute for decades, he says. “And if you’re employer is offering matching funds, that’s free money,” Heerlein says. “You need to jump on it.”
• Saving ONLY in a 401(k). While contributing to a 401(k) is great, that shouldn’t be your only vehicle for saving, Heerlein says. “If you are a younger saver, you are putting all your money into a bucket you can’t touch for 20 or 30 years,” he says. And when you do withdraw it in retirement, you’ll pay taxes because the taxes were deferred. That’s why it’s important to put some balance in your portfolio. A good way to do that is with a Roth IRA, a Roth 401(k) or a health savings account. Withdrawing from those Roth funds in retirement won’t result in taxes because the taxes were already paid when the money went in the account. HSA money isn’t taxed if you withdraw it for qualified medical expenses. After you turn 65, you can withdraw it for any purpose, though you will pay taxes on that withdrawal if not used for a qualified expenses.
• Failing to embrace risk. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, plenty of investors lost a substantial portion of their savings. The memory of what happened to them – or to their parents – is still having repercussions. Some people younger than 50 are too conservative with their investments, Heerlein says, so their money doesn’t grow like it could if they took more risks. “I’m not faulting people for that, but what I want to get across is if you are between the ages of 20 and 50, there is no need to panic,” Heerlein says. “Time is on your side. If you suffer a loss, you more than likely have plenty of years to recover before you retire.”

Many people nearing retirement probably look back to when they were in their 20s and 30s and wish they could go back in time and make some financial decisions over again.

“Most people eventually learn that true financial success requires a lifetime of work, responsibility, and attention,” Heerlein says. “The younger you are when you come to that realization, the better.”

About Chris Heerlein

Chris Heerlein, author of Money Won’t Buy Happiness – But Time to Find It(www.moneywontbuyhappiness.com), is a Investment Adviser Representative and partner at REAP Financial LLC. He hosts the “Retire Ready” TV and radio shows in Austin, Texas, and has been featured in national media outlets such as Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Money magazines. Heerlein also is an ongoing contributor to the financial publication Kiplinger.