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  • drdianehamilton 4:26 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Ken Fisher, , San Antonio, ,   

    Ken Fisher: Free Speaker Event and Lunch 9/13/16 San Antonio, TX 

    keneventhttps://www.smore.com/7rdt2

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  • drdianehamilton 9:32 am on July 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , James Franco, , , Melissa Joan Hart, Veronica Mars, , Zach Braff   

    Entrepreneurs and Celebrities Use Kickstarter for Funding 

    Kickstarter

    Kickstarter has been a successful crowdfunding option for potential entrepreneurs to garner cash.  However it has not been without some issues.  According to The Wall Street Journal article The Trouble With Kickstarter, “The only thing worse than having to watch your friend’s arty movie is having to pay for it too.” Aside from the problems associated with pestering friends to donate, there have been some successful ventures thanks to this site.  The following list contains some of names of celebrities who have used the site:

    Some people get annoyed by celebrities using Kickstarter.   Celebrities like Kevin Smith have stated they believed Kickstarter is unfair to other filmmakers. Not all stars have had success with the site. Some stars like Melissa Joan Hart have been booted from Kickstarter for lackluster results.

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  • drdianehamilton 8:35 am on March 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Credit Report Options 

    DrDianeHamiltonCreditScoreSavvy

    Anyone who has applied for a home loan probably has some familiarity with the importance of having a strong FICO score.  FICO stands for Fair Isaac Company.  There are three major bureaus that provide credit information (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).  These bureaus got together and created a competing score called the VantageScore. CreditKarma explained, “The VantageScore offers additional features, such as predictive scoring and a 24-month review of credit history, that the classic FICO model doesn’t incorporate.” For a comparison of the Vantage Score to the FICO score, click here.

    This new score has a different scale.  Experian, Equifax and TransUnion used a score that ranged from 300 to 850.  This new VantageScore has a range from 501 to 990.  This has led to some confusion as to how these scores compare.  Lenders usually charge consumers to check their credit. They obtain the three scores from the major bureaus and generally use the middle score to base the lending rate that they offer the borrower.  Some lenders have begun to use the VantageScore.  For more information see:  What Credit Scores to Mortgage Lenders Use?

    Borrowers may want to obtain their score in order to repair any issues prior to applying for a loan. This can cost them around $20 if they want to receive a full Equifax or TransUnion score.  Experian does not offer reports to consumers.

    There are some other free options for credit reports.  These include:

    CreditKarma.com – Offers a TransUnion Transrisk and Vantage Score report.

    CreditSesame.com – Offers Experian National Equivalency Score

    Credit.com – Offers Vantage Score

    While many sites offer different reporting options like these, they may not show exactly the same scores that the lender will obtain when they receive all three major bureau reports.  Consumers, who apply for a loan and have paid to have their credit checked, can ask for a copy of their credit report from their lender.

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  • drdianehamilton 6:58 am on March 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Income tax, Payroll tax, , Social Security   

    How to Avoid Paying 85% Tax on Social Security 

    Tax

    Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have found out some hard lessons recently about how easily their retirement money can disappear.  One thing they may not have counted on is how much they may be taxed on Social Security benefits.

    According to the Social Security Administration Website, the guidelines for paying taxes on social security include:

    • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
      • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
      • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
    • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
      • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
      • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

    Many adults receive social security as their only form of income. If that is the case, there income level would be low enough that they would not have to pay taxes or even file a tax form.  See topic 423.

    For individuals who are lucky enough to have saved a few bucks for retirement, check out the following articles for help to avoid having to pay this high percentage:

    1. When Uncle Sam Wants His Money Back
    2. Avoiding the Social Security Tax Trap
    3. History of Taxation of Social Security
    4. AARP: Social Security and Taxes
    5. How Much Social Security Benefit May Be Taxed

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    • Leon Maiolo 7:14 am on March 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Article #1 When Uncle Sam Wants His Money Back. ??? I thought it was our money. I remember seeing it withheld from my check every week.

  • drdianehamilton 4:59 pm on October 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Kiva, National Venture Capital Association, , Thomson Reuters, University of New Hampshire,   

    Top 7 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Obtain Funding 

    The good news is that entrepreneurs have more options for funding than in the past.  According to Entrepreneur.com, access to capital is improving for small businesses. This may be a frightening time to begin an entrepreneurial venture.   However, there are an increasing number of available financing options. The following list contains some of the most prevalent in the current market.

    1. Banks – The number of people going to banks for loans is increasing. “According to a report this week on banks with more than $10 billion in assets, the overall volume of loan applications increased by 5.6 percent in September over August, reports Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace in New York City that connects small and midsize businesses with lenders.”
    2. SBA Loans – Entrepreneurs have also traditionally gone with loans from the Small Business Association.  “In 2011… it backed $30.5 billion in 61,689 loans to small business.”
    3. Angel Investors – “Angels invested $9.2 billion in 27,280 startups in the first two quarters of 2012, a 3.1 percent increase in dollars and a 3.7 percent increase in number of entrepreneurial ventures over the same time in 2011, according to a report this week from the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire.”
    4. Venture Capitalists – “In 2012, venture capital firms have raised $16.2 billion, representing a 31 percent increase from the $12.4 billion raised in the first nine months of 2011, according to a report from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association released this week.”
    5. Crowdfunding – There have been some unusual ways that entrepreneurs have managed to raise funds.  Crowdfunding has been growing in popularity.  Entrepreneurs can raise funds through networking on the internet.  Supports fund other people’s ideas or interests.
    6. Microlending – One of the top microlending sites is Kiva.org. Kiva is “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.”
    7. PledgingKickstarter is a unique site allows entrepreneurs to keep ownership and control over their work while tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to help finance their creative ideas. The idea must reach its funding goal or no money changes hands. Entrepreneurs that receive their anticipated funds, can test concepts without risk.

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  • drdianehamilton 8:31 am on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Apple and Other Top 10 Company Financial Statements 

    With all of the reports about the successes and failures of IPOs in 2012, there may be renewed interest in deciphering financial reports.  The follow are explanations of the four major financial statements.

    1. Income Statement:  One of the most important reports for a company is their Income Statement.  This may be referred to as the Statement of Income or the Profit and Loss Statement. This report shows profits and losses over a specific period of time.
    2. Balance Sheet:  The balance sheet is also referred to as the Statement of Financial Position. The balance sheet displays a company’s position at a single moment in time.
    3. Cash Flow Statement:  This may also be referred to as the Statement of Cash Flows. The Cash Flow Statement shows information about how money flows in and out of a business.  This may be helpful in determining the viability of a company.
    4. Statement of Retained Earnings:  This may also be referred to as e Statement of Changes in Equity.  This statement explains the company’s retained earnings over a period of time.  This will be reported under shareholder’s equity on the balance sheet.

    The following are examples of the top 10 company financial statements:

    Income Statements:

    Balance Sheets:

    Cash Flow Statements:

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  • drdianehamilton 11:59 am on August 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Exit strategy, ,   

    Boomer Entrepreneurs Can’t Retire 

    One of the things entrepreneurs plan for is the time that they will eventually sell their company.  Currently many older business owners have found it difficult to reap the anticipated rewards of retirement. As the author of the Entrepreneur Exit Strategies for your Business pointed out, “it’s not enough to build a business worth a fortune; you have to make sure you have an exit strategy, a way to get the money back out.” If businesses were once very successful, the economy may have impacted their current worth.  Even with what may once have been considered a strong exit strategy, plans may have been affected by the economic downturn.

    Boomers trying to sell their businesses are receiving offers that are not enough to finance their retirement.  In the Wall Street Journal article The Economy Stole My Retirement, it noted that one small business owner expected to sell for $2 million but recent losses from the recession has made that impossible.  She now has seen offers as low as $250,000.

    Business owners who had planned to travel and relax in their golden years are now spending 10-12 hours a day or more working to salvage companies.  Some have no foreseeable chance of selling in the future.  Many have put all of their money into their businesses and would have to live only on social security if they let the businesses fail.

    While it is admirable to have high expectations for an entrepreneurial venture, it is the wise business owner who does not keep all of his or her eggs in one basket.  Just as Enron employees learned the hard way, it is not a good idea to have all of your money invested in the company in which you work.  If the company goes under, people not only lose their jobs but their life savings as well.

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  • drdianehamilton 7:03 am on July 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Equifax, Experian, , Homebuyer, , , Payment, , , Transunion   

    Basics Every New Home Buyer Should Know 

    It may not be as easy to purchase a new home in today’s real estate market.  I teach real estate courses, I have a real estate license, and I spent years working in the lending industry.  Because of that, people often ask me about what a home buyer should know about the process.

    When I was a loan officer, the market was considerably better.  First time home buyers had more options.  Currently banks are hesitant to lend and buyers need to come up with more funds on their own.  In the past, it wasn’t unusual for banks to lend at least 95% of the cost of the home. Now it isn’t unusual for banks to only cover 80% of the cost.  FHA loans offer higher percentages but the amount you can borrow is limited.

    Getting the Loan

    As a loan officer, I did a lot of first time home buyer seminars.  At those seminars, people had a lot of questions about the home-buying process.  A big part of what they wanted to know was how their credit score affected their ability to get a loan.

    A person’s credit score is extremely important in the loan process.  The score alone does not dictate whether you will get the loan, but it is a big piece of the puzzle.  Banks will also look at your work history, income and how much money you have for the down payment.

    If you have a poor credit history, it doesn’t mean that will hurt you forever.  As time goes by, your poor credit history fades if you do the right things and is replaced with good payment history.  Your credit score should not vary that much from month to month.  However, if you have had late house payments in the past or a bankruptcy, it can drop your score more quickly than other things.  Improving your score takes longer than hurting your score.  It isn’t common under normal circumstances for a score to change 20 points in a few months’ time.

    That is why it is important to periodically check your credit report and contact the credit agencies if there is incorrect information on it.  There are three main credit agencies:  Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

    If you report an error to these agencies, they must investigate it and respond to you within 30 days.  Sometimes certain information will show up on one agency report and not on another.  In order to get information removed from all of them, you need to contact all of them.  Don’t assume that because you take care of contacting one agency, that the others will be corrected automatically.

    Your score is sometimes referred to as a FICO score, which stands for Fair Isaac and Co., the software company that developed the score.  In order to have a FICO score, you must have at least one account that has been open for 6 months or longer.  Also, there has to be one account that has been updated in the past 6 months.  The higher your score, the better risk you are and the more likely a bank will lend you money.

    There are 5 main categories of information that are taken into account in determining your FICO score:

    •           Payment history accounts for about 35 percent of the score.  Do you pay your bills on time?  Are there any collections or bankruptcies? Bankruptcies will stay on a report for seven to ten years, depending on the type.

    •           Amounts owed accounts for about 30% of the score.  How much do you pay on your accounts? How high of a balance do you have?  How much of the credit granted do you actually taken advantage of?

    •           Length of credit history accounts for about 15%. How long have your credit accounts been established?

    •           New credit accounts for about 10%.  How many recent requests for credit do you have?

    •           Type of credit accounts for 10%.  What kind of credit mix do you have?  Do you have credit cards, retail cards, mortgages, etc?  You don’t have to have all types, and it isn’t a good idea to have accounts that you don’t use.  However, it is worse to close an account that you don’t use than to leave it.

    Here are some tips you can use to raise your credit score:

    •           Pay on time.

    •           If you missed payments, get current.

    •           Paying off a collection doesn’t remove it from your report, though it does improve your score.

    •           Contact creditors if you are having trouble making payments to see if they can help you.

    •           Don’t maximize how much you take out on your accounts. Keep balances as low as possible.

    •           Don’t move debt around unless it means you’ll be getting a lower interest rate. You still owe the same amount of money.

    •           Don’t think closing unused cards will raise your score.

    •           Don’t open a lot of cards just to have available credit.

    •           Don’t open too many new accounts too quickly.

    •           If you have had problems, re-establish new credit history.

    •           Check out your credit score from time to time.

    •           Only get new credit cards as needed.

    •           Manage the cards you have responsibly.

    •           A closed account will still show up on your credit report.

    When people came to me to apply for a loan, I would ask them if I could run their credit.  That is what you can expect a loan officer to do as well.  They have to know what your credit is in order to know if you will qualify for the loan.  Although many people are worried that their credit will affect their credit score, one inquiry will take less than 5 points off of their score.  Rate-sopping can cause multiple requests on a report, but as long as the inquiries are within a 14-da6 period, it will only count as one inquiry as far as points taken off.  Also the score ignores all inquiries made during the 30 days prior to scoring, so if you find a loan within 30 days, those inquiries will not affect your score while you are shopping.

    What is a good score?  Traditionally lenders usually liked to see at least 620 to get better rates.  Scores over 700 sometimes can get even better rates.  If your score was under 620, you could still get a loan, but you would pay a higher interest rate.  The numbers change as programs change, but it is a good idea to try and keep scores as high as possible.

    Once you get into a house and have house payments to make, whatever you do, do not be late on it.  That is one of the worst things you can do to your credit.  Should you be late with a house payment, the next time you go for a home loan, the bank is less likely to forget that tardiness than a late credit card payment.  Having one late house payment in the last 12 months prior to applying for a home loan can severely affect your ability to qualify for a home loan.  If you have a 30 day late payment in the last year, you will have to pay a higher interest rate on your new loan, which could cost you many thousands of dollars.  Many lenders offer automatic withdrawal from your checking account.  If you have problems remembering to pay your payments, I highly recommend calling your bank and signing up for that service.

    Finding the Agent

    The first part of the home-buying process is actually getting pre-approved for the home loan.  It is only after you have received that, that you can actually start looking for a home.  If you don’t have a real estate agent, you might ask your lender to recommend someone.

    Another good place to find an agent is by asking friends and family.  If they haven’t really had a chance to use anyone yet, you might drive through neighborhoods where you are interested in buying and see if there are any signs up of agents in the area.  If you see several signs with a certain agents name on it, it probably means they know the area well and may be a good person to contact.

    Remember you do not need to stay with a real estate agent or loan officer that you do not like.  You have the right to drop them.  They are working for you and if they make you feel uncomfortable or aren’t responsive, you should exercise your right to pick someone else.

    The good news about being the home buyer is that the home seller is the one who pays the real estate agent.  Your agent will receive a commission for helping you but it will not have to come from you.

    Protecting Yourself

    There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself in the home-buying process.  Your agent should help you with home inspections and direct you to appropriate insurance agents if you don’t have one.

    The Important Things to Remember

    Here is the minimum you should know about Home Buying and Renting:

    •           If you can afford to buy, there are tax advantages over renting.

    •           Understand what constitutes a FICO score.

    •           Fix any bad things you have on your FICO score by contacting all 3 credit agencies.

    •           Get preapproved for a loan before ever looking at homes.

    •           Find a real estate agent through referral or through checking out neighborhoods where you are interested in buying.

    •           If you don’t feel comfortable with your agent, get a new one.

    •           Remember the home buyer does not have to pay the real estate agent.

    •           Protect yourself with home inspections and insurance.

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  • drdianehamilton 8:41 am on July 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   

    LinkedIn vs. Facebook IPO Success 

    LinkedIn’s recent IPO performance appears to have crushed the perception of big named company IPOs from Facebook, Yelp, Zynga, Groupon and Pandora. Based on their recent closing price, LinkedIn is up 141%. According to BusinessInsider Linkedin is, “the best-performing IPO this year by a huge margin. The next closest competitor, Bankrate, is up about 28 percent from its initial public offering.”

    Timing may have been a factor for LinkedIn’s success. They have also seen consistent growth in unique visitors. Investors waiting for highly anticipated IPOs like Facebook may have helped increase the success of LinkedIn as well.

    Although Facebook has had a lot of negative press regarding its IPO, CBS news reported that Facebook’s IPO was actually a success. CBS explained, “LinkedIn (LNKD) shares popped from the start in the professional networking company’s 2011 IPO and more than doubled in the first few days.”  Investment bankers made a bundle. This led people to think Facebook had been a flop. However, CBS author Allan Roth explained, “my definition of a successful launch of a new publicly traded stock doesn’t rest on how much money the investment bankers make. It rests on how close the offering price is to where the stock actually trades. The fact that Facebook shares closed at nearly their offering price tells me that that investors thought it was fairly priced. That’s pretty amazing, in my view, given all the hype over Facebook.”

    Colin Lokey from SeekingAlpha explained that when comparing Facebook to Linkedin, fundamentals show that Linkedin is overvalued. Lokey warned, “Investors should of course, keep in mind that the fact that LinkedIn is far too expensive doesn’t mean Facebook is fairly valued at half of LinkedIn’s price.”  Prices have been affected by the recent Facebook IPO. Yahoo’s Finance writer Jeff Macke did not share Lokey’s opinion on pricing when he stated, “Linkedin stock has been dragged down over the last few weeks by the undercurrent of the Facebook Titanic.” He sees LinkedIn as a “screaming buy”.

    Only time will tell how well LinkedIn and Facebook will perform. BizJournals recently quoted Linkedin’s CFO Steve Sordello about the importance of a company’s IPO results. “”An IPO is a one-time event, and what really matters is the long term. If it rains on your wedding day, you’re going to remember it rained but it’s not going to influence the marriage.”

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  • drdianehamilton 7:37 am on May 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Entrepreneurs: Crowdfunding Options from Fundable 

    Crowdfunding is the latest buzz word in entrepreneurial lending. Fundable is a new company that offers “crowdfunding for startup companies”.  Crowdfunding occurs when people network through the internet to raise money to support other people’s ideas or interests. Fundable’s site allows entrepreneurs to raise capital through crowdfunding activities.  Fundable’s site states, “Startups create a funding profile that provides an overview of their company, their fundraising goals, and the rewards they are willing to provide potential backers. Thereafter, they reach out to their personal networks as well as the broader Fundable community to enlist their support.”

    Backers may pledge money and/or offer assistance.  Fundable mixes Kickstarter-style and equity-based crowdfunding.  Fundable shares similarities to Kickstarter, in that the process involves all-or-nothing funding.  Goals must be met in order to receive the funds and there is no limit to the amount of money that may be raised. Scribd.com explained that there are differences between Fundable and Kickstarter.  “Fundable will seek to fund for-profit companies, while Kickstarter is all about creative projects, like literature, movies and the like.”

    With the recent push for Obama’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, Fundable may be able to take advantage of the crowdfunding law to solicit funds online from unaccredited investors.  However, Mashable explained, “Crowdfunding legislation is so new that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hasn’t set rules for it and Fundable needs to be approved by the SEC as a broker/dealer before it can handle investments. In the meantime, the company is focusing on offering rewards-based deals — which makes it look, for the time being, like a less-populated version of Kickstarter.”

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