Bands, Buckets and Books
Posted August 2012
Before any discussion of financial items, I want to share with you a “feel-good” opportunity. Several weeks ago, one of the bloggers on “Tigerbait.com” linked to a video of a band called “Madison Rising” singing their version of the Star Spangled Banner. Google these guys up and I think you will like what you hear and see. It is not a traditional rendition, but I found it uplifting and smile-creating and would love to see them opening an LSU game.
Want some fun ways to take advantage of the tax code? The June 25th issue of Forbes magazine had some suggestions. If you buy a boat with sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities, you can, with certain limitations, deduct mortgage interest and property taxes associated with a second “home”. So, buy the boat, hoist the anchor and take off on a subsidized cruise. If you want to learn a foreign language, use the Lifetime Learning tax credit, worth up to $2,000. The nonrefundable credit equals 20% of the tuition and fees you pay for higher education for an eligible student, which includes you. The catch is that the credit begins to phase out if your adjusted gross income is above $102,000 for a couple, half that for a single person. Want to write a book? You can deduct any associated expenses up to the amount of income generated from book sales. Like to play golf? Your business can deduct the full contribution required to participate in a charitable golf tournament and you can normally choose your own team. Take some prospective clients and enjoy the day. If you enter as an individual, you can deduct the entry fee minus normal green fees. Finally, go back and get your college degree if that is on your bucket list. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can be claimed to offset, dollar for dollar, expenses paid for tuition, fees and books for an at least half time student. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student and phases out for individual taxpayers with an AGI above $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples.
Do you have a teenager wanting to start a business? Give them some homework. The May 21st issue of the Wall Street Journal had an article discussing recommended readings for young entrepreneurs. For the younger set, consider “Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas”, by Adam Toren. This book teaches kids the principles and rewards of owning your own business using charts, diagrams and activities. For slightly older kids, look at “Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids”, by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig, which breaks down ideas like saving, investing, spending and credit. For ages 15 and up, try “Teen Business Blasts Off” by Andrea Pinkney and Amy Rosens. It focuses on how a group of teens started their ventures and handled things like business plans and presentations. Also, “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur is a good tool to help teens understand various aspects of a business with straightforward writing and revenue and lots of graphics. It is designed to help teens look for opportunities in the marketplace. There is a website, www.lemonadeday.org, that teaches kids how to operate a classic first business by focusing on things like creating a budget, serving customers and repaying investors. If your teenagers will read any of these books and put some of the ideas in practice, they will be much more knowledgeable in these matters than most of our politicians. There may be hope.
I started on a positive note and plan to end on one. I am finding more and more to like by reading the Psalms. Today I found reassurance in Psalm 37: “Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of the wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday…Better is a little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous”. Life is good, God is good. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
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