Understanding The Self Employment Tax

You’ve done it, followed your dream and started your own business, and now reality hits. Income tax time is approaching and it’s time to calculate your taxes.

You need to learn all you can about taxes, just as you learned all you could about your business.

Self employment tax applies to everyone who is self employed and made more than (let’s hope so) $400 a year. It doesn’t matter how old you are, even old enough to collect social security, the federal government wants their part of your income.

When you are employed, your employer shares the tax burden with you, they pay 7.65% of your income and so do you. When you are self employed you get to pay the whole thing, 15.3%. 12.4% goes to pay Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. But this only applies up to income of $94,200. Above that you only pay the 2.9% for Medicare.

When you are self employed, it is your responsibility to pay quarterly estimated tax payments. If you were employed your employer would do this for you, but since you get to be your own boss, you have to deal with this. Quarterly estimated taxes are due in April, June, Sept. and Jan. If you do not pay them you could be subject to underpayment penalties.

I would recommend that you get the big picture regarding your tax liability. You will need to plan ahead. Take advantage of a free online income tax calculator and estimate your quarterly self employment tax, and calculate your estimated income tax as well. Know ahead what is expected of you. Isn’t your business worth it?


Does The Economy Work With Your Luxury Real Estate?

Sooner or later you’ll be ready to pack up and make that big move. You’ve been working hard and you’re finally ready for a change in scenery, but better than that, you’re ready to upgrade to your first luxury home. This is a huge step for any homeowner and should be handled with extreme delicacy and care on behalf of both the seller and the buyer. Certain things are more important than others and obviously you’ll want to take all aspects into concern when you finally make that first purchase, but what should be considered the most important element of the transaction?

An old motto:

You may have already heard it once and you’re going to hear it again, but, “location, location location!” the words have never rang truer. This should be the motto of the luxury real estate agent and over time it probably will be. Your surrounding are vital and make the difference between a nice hand with some land, and a luxury real estate. You want a property that will retain its value over the years to come, a community that works, and an economic situation that doesn’t hold you back.

Never underestimate the economy:

One of the first things you should research further is the economic situation of the community you are considering. Luxury real estate isn’t technically luxury if it is settled in an area that is already falling apart. Part of the allure is a flourishing economy that shows symptoms of growth and profit. Any business man or woman wants their dreams to continue succeeding after they’ve purchased luxury real estate, not fall to a stop.

Death and taxes:

The property taxes are always something that should be studied with a close eye before any purchase is made. It’s important for any consumer to have an understanding of the property taxes compared to cities that may neighbor it. This will obviously have a huge impact on the cost of your living and the ability to sell the luxury real estate when the time is right. If the community already has an established history of climbing taxes you should probably take it as a warning of what’s to come. This theory also works in reverse. If the area has shown a history of lowering property taxes it’s always a good sign.

Only the tip of the iceberg:

The economy shouldn’t be the only determining factor in your purchase, but when the time comes to purchase such real estate it’s no doubt something you should carefully consider. While you’re at it you should study the school system, recreational environment, and other misc. details that make up what a luxury real estate really is. If you can’t enjoy your day after long hours of fussing over the economy and profit, what is the point? A good place to study further is the internet. Several online websites are dedicated specifically to discussing various luxury properties that are being introduced to the market. Who knows; you may find your next dream home surfing the web!


10 Insurance Agency Online Marketing Ideas For Agents & Brokers

Starting an internet marketing campaign or even improving an existing one can be a challenging task. Where should insurance agencies begin, and what should they focus on? Here are 10 great online ideas to help your agency improve your online marketing initiatives.

1. Blog and Vlog

Blogging is a fantastic way to showcase your expertise and attract visitors to your website. General topics usually get lost in the shuffle. Consider writing about very specific topics that are relevant to your clients and prospects. If you’re a trucking insurance agency, for example, this means topics on CSA updates, DOT regulations, fuel economics, fleet management, fuel theft, cargo theft, etc. Use videos to make your blogs more compelling and sticky. And make sure your blogs (and website) are mobile friendly!

2. Improve Your Google Ranking/Insurance Agency SEO

Google ranking is one of the holy grails of internet marketing. Being on the first page is where it is at. When evaluating your online marketing initiatives, keep in mind how they can positively impact your search engine rankings. Track your SEO progress and review your website analytics to determine where your traffic originates.

3. Create a Webinar Series

Not enough agencies take advantage of online webinars. Monthly or even quarterly webinars do a lot to elevate you from an insurance sales group to an advisor and consultant. Webinars can be recorded and offered as high value on demand digital collateral after the webinar. And webinars provide a high value reason to contact clients and prospects in ongoing email drip campaigns.

4. Use Explainer Videos

Explainer videos, also referred to as value proposition or whiteboard videos, can be very useful for online marketing because they are typically short, sticky, entertaining and reusable on multiple mediums. They can be posted on your insurance agency website, your branded YouTube channel, Vlogs, and in an email marketing campaign. You can give your best sales pitch to every prospect. Create videos for each major silo in your company (commercial lines, personal lines, benefits, manufacturing, trucking, etc.), and distribute it widely using social media.

5. Maximize Social Media

Social media is often an untapped resource for most agencies. At a minimum, every agency should have a professional and branded presence on all major social media platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Beyond this they should have a “respectable” number of followers. Social media advertising can be effective for agencies, but this is a more complex initiative and should be either staffed internally or outsourced to an expert.

6. Create a Google+ Agency Page

Even though most people do not use Google+, Google will reward you with a better page ranking if you create one, and post regularly. It only takes a few minutes and will be worth the effort to improve your insurance agency search engine optimization initiative.

7. Leverage Client Testimonials or Case Study Vignettes

Happy clients will always sell your business better than you can. Profile your loyal customers, and ask them a few questions about what they love about your company. Even better, create a video and post it to your website. You can also create anonymous case study vignettes, short case studies of client success stories using type of business and general location, but not their names.

8. Use LinkedIn To its Full Potential (and get your employees to help)

If your agency is a commercial lines or benefits agency, LinkedIn is the place to be. You should invest time in LinkedIn to ensure a professional company page, ongoing posts, and to create a policy to help your employees help your agency marketing efforts on LinkedIn. Join groups and create your own to extend your reach.

9. Press Releases – News Releases

Press Releases, often referred to as News Releases in the rapidly changing world of PR, offers agencies a great online opportunity to extend their brand recognition, and improve their insurance agency search engine optimization. There are both free services and paid services that are available to agencies. Needless to say, all News Releases should start as a post on your insurance agency website, then move to a News Release service, then pushed out via social media.

10. Use Online/Email Newsletters

E-newsletters provide agencies an opportunity for high quality, direct communication with clients and prospects. There are many cloud based solutions that provide attractive, mobile compliant, newsletter templates. Or you can outsource this initiative to a proficient insurance marketing agency. A great email marketing newsletter campaign can have a large impact on your online marketing efforts.

If your agency lacks the internal resources to accomplish your online initiatives, consider outsourcing them to a proficient insurance agency marketing firm.


Payday Loan – Remember, They Are Short Term Loans

Payday Loans are other wise called cash advances or paycheck advance loans. The amount is small ranging from $50 to $500, and the term is about two weeks. The interest rate is high for a payday loan. People who are in urgent need of money turn to the loan as the last resort, when they cannot trust the credit card or friends to raise some money.

You need not have a good credit history for being eligible for this loan, and the processing is very quick. You can procure the loan on telephone or Internet, and within 24 hours the money gets deposited in your account. It is hassle free and has no up-front cost, and no third person is involved.

The disadvantage of the loan is the high rate of interest, and it is important that you repay the loan by due date. The loan can be renewed, but you have to keep in mind that by the third renewal the renewal charges and APR is more than half of the loan amount, and by this rolling over the position of your finances further deteriorates. The US government too is concerned about these borrowers belonging to the lower and lower middle class, who run out of cash by the middle of the month once their bills are paid, and who are pulled into this cycle of debt due to some sudden expenditure incurred on account of a hospital visit or unplanned travel.

However, for someone with bad credit history and who cannot manage any other kind of loan, the payday loan is the only solution. It is only wise to use the money to meet the requirement and pay back the loan on time, and if possible set aside some money every month, and put together a crisis fund.

You can get a payday loan at any loan outlet and in case you do not find one in your neighborhood there is always the Internet, where the loan is just a click away. Generally such lending agencies stay open beyond the normal working hours, keeping in view the situations that force people to look for emergency funds. Therefore such agencies provide service to even those, whose money being in the form of term deposits, certificates or gold is not readily accessible.

Due to the speed in service, convenient locations and operating hours these loan companies are the favorite choice of the average working man who decides to go for the deal anyway. Because even after weighing the pros and cons, the decision of the borrower depends ultimately the gravity of the situation and his need.

Such cash advances are sometimes given against checks dated for the subsequent payday or sometimes against collateral like furniture. It is not advisable to jump for such an offer without paying attention to the other costs associated with it. When a friend or relative does not come to your aid with a hand loan and help you tide over, borrowing money from a loan company is the next available option, though the legitimacy of the company has to be checked. If possible browse the net for information regarding the company and cross verify the details provided like phone numbers, to avoid being cheated. The best way however is to consult those who already have used the services of the company.

Beware of companies that demand an advance fee, and also be discreet about your bank details. Though the interest of the payday loan is much higher than that of a credit card, the fact remains that those who bank on this kind of loan might have been refused credit cards in the first place, and the unemployed are not easily trusted with loans. If you have decided to get yourself a payday loan, be resolved that you shall avoid rolling over, and that you will manage your finances better in future.

A payday loan is cash advance offered sometimes against the next paycheck to help you tide over until the next pay day, and is a small, short term, high interest loan.