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The Perkins Journal
Perkins, Oklahoma
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January 12, 2012     The Perkins Journal
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January 12, 2012
 

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 40t S. Main St. Fax Whether it's losing weight, getting organized, or going back to school, most of us choose to make some changes for the better fans this year. Facebook now has over 800 million users. More than half of those log in on any given day, and 350 million active in our lives at the beginning users connect to Facebook of anewyear. For business using a mobile device. owners, why not take it a Chances are good that your step further and consider customers are on Facebook, making a New Year' s and if they are, you should Resolution or two for your be too. business? In case you are at Conduct regular check- a 10ss fotAdeas, I've come ups of your online pres- up with a list to get you ence. This is more than started, just maintaining your Set up a Facebook page website (which, of course, for your business. If you is important.) Make sure already have a Facebook you have updated contact page, commit to spend- information for your busi- ing m0r 'time or gaining ness on Google Places, a ,certain!aumber of new Google Maps, Yahoo , "i ~ it Local, Manta.com, and Superpages.com. For spe- cialized businesses, check for popular directories, such as UrbanSpoon.com for restaurants. Revisit your business plan. The business plan is not a document to be used only for getting a bank loan. It should be the road map for operating your business. Revisit your one-, three-, and five-year goals. If you haven't already, invest in a good account- ing software program. This includes taking the time to learn how to effectively use the program. Merid- ian Technology Center (Stillwater) and Central Tech (Drumright) offer classes in the basic use of accounting programs such as QuickBooks. Find a new place to net- work with your customers. Small business owners often claim they do not have time to attend networking events, but these events should be a planned part of the work schedule. Prior to each event, develop goals for what you want to accom- plish while at the event. Take some personal devel- opment classes. Watch for programs offered by the Extension office (me), by the career tech schools, or by an area Chamber of Commerce. Some exam- ples would include web design, customer service, goal-setting, QuickBooks, Facebook, management skills, etc. Get organized. As hom- eowners, many of us choose organization as one of our New Year's Resolutions, why not for our business space. Do it on your own, or hire a professional orga- nizer to help. Commit to making con- tacts. I've read that a sales- person should attempt to make at least five new con- tacts (not sales) per week, If that sounds overwhelming to you, start with five new contacts per month. You will have to get outside of your normal acquaintance circles and step boldly into some unfamiliar ones. Cut expenses. The busi- ness version of "cutting calories" would probably be "cutting costs," and who couldn't stand to cut a few of both? Consider becoming an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). This is really something that a growing business should consider. An important benefit of becoming an LLC is that in the event of a lawsuit, your personal assets are protected from liability. Make more time for your- self. Being your own boss is no cakewalk It can be a tough, 24-7 job! No one, however, can hold up work- ing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Delegate when you can and schedule time for yourself. Dr. Suzette Barta is an Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development, with Payne County OSU Extension. She is also an active member of the Perkins Community Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Perkins Area Economic Development Authority. To contact her regarding the content of this or other articles, e-mail her at sbarta @provalue.net. ByTrisha Gedon Now that the holiday decorations have been i taken dc wn, many Okla- ~;~ ~ homans /are preparing for another season...tax ,season. , Eileen St. pierre, Okla- homa State University Cogperative Extension personal flnan6e special- of a single filer." The personal exemption will increase by $50 to $3,700 and remain at that level through 2012. Tax payers who earn more than a certain amount will see this exemption phase out and the amount of itemized deductions reduced. In addition, homeowners the home improvement, not including installa- tion," she said. "If you've received more than $500 between 2006 and 2010 for home improvement tax credits, you're not eligible for anything more." The credit for Energy Star@ windows and sky- lights is capped at $200 .ist, said it is important will continue to be able to and eligible doors are to be aware of all the tax deduct mortgage insurance capped at $500. Furngces credits a rrd"deductions premiums on Schedule A.and boders are capped at available for the 2011 tax However, this was a tem- $150 and must meet 95 year. porary tax break. Itbecame AFUE. The credit for air conditioners, heat pumps Fol( et / erswho effective for mortgage do stan- insurance policies issued and water heaters is dard d educ mounts on or after January 1,2007, capped at $300. for 2011 ,are $5,800 for and expired on December sitigles,/$i 1,60Of for mar- 31, 2011. ' eout les filing jointly "Many taxpayers saw :' 8,500 for heads ofgenerous energy tax cred- , ~ -. ,,"'~i~' . ' Pierreitsin2010. Unfortunately, i ! cause leg- these credits are not as gen- 'l$i on 'passed at ::ihe end erous for 2011. The home of 2010,married fliers will not face a marriage pen- alty for Ot;l The standard dedOc ion for married NV stors Tax legislation passed at the end of 2010 extended the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 Until the end of 2012. The child tax credit will stay at $1,000 per It's Super Bowl time again. And whether you're a sports fauLt:or not, you can probably lea something from the BOWl teams that you improvement tax credit is significantly reduced to a lifetime maximum of $500 and only applies to 10 percent of the cost of child, instead of dropping back to $500 per child. This legislation applies to other tax credits. The dependent care credit allows a taxpayer a credit such as stocks for growth and bonds for income and your various investments should complement, rather than duplicate, one another. can apply to other endeavors -- such as investing. What might these lessons be? Take a look: Strive to build a diversified portfolio containing invest- ments appropriate for you situation; such as stocks, Pick players carefully, bonds, government securi- Super Bowl teams don't ties, certificates of deposit usually get there out of (CDs) and other vehicles. luck; they've made it in part Diversifying your holdings because they have carefully may help reduce the effects chosen their players. And to of market volatility. (Keep potentially achieve success in mind, though, that diver- as an investor, you, too, sification, by itself, can't need arefully chosen "play- guarantee a profit or protect ers" investments that are against loss.) chosen for your individual Follow a "game plan." situation. Super Bowl teams are skilled Choose adiversifiedmixof at creating game plans players. Not only do Super designed to maximize their Bowl teams have good play- own strengths and exploit ers, but they havegood ones their opponents' weaknesses. at many different positions When you invest, you also -- and these players tend can benefit from a game to play well together. As an plan -- a strategy to help investor, you should own you work toward your goals. a variety of investments This strategy may incorpo- with differeht capabilities rate several elements, such for a percentage of child care expenses for children under the age of 13, as well as for disable dependents. The amount of eligible expenses is $3.000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. The adop- tion tax credit will remain at $10.000. "Families with three or more children will continue to receive the increased Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) of 45 percent of the family's first $12,750 of earned income," St. Pierre said. "The income phase- out range for married joint filers, regardless of the continue at the higher level set by the Bush administra- tion." Some educational incen- tives, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, deductions for student loan interest or qualified education expenses, have also been extended for an additional two years. St. Pierre stressed that taxpayers should not overlook the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, also known as the Saver's Credit. This credit is designed to help work- ers with low-to-moderate income save for retire- an income below a certain amount and contribute to an IRA or a workplace plan such as a 401 (k) may qualify for a credit up to $1,000 ($2,000 if filing jointly). "As you begin gathering receipts and other tax- related paperwork, make note of all of the credits and deductions for which you're eligible," St. Pierre said. "This will help you keep more of your own money. You can use your income tax refund to either start or boost your emergency savings fund or heir, achieve othe number of children, will ment. Workers who have financial goals." 'Get Organized Month!' events offered at Stillwater Public Library this January The beginning of a new year is an almost magi- cal time where anything seems possible. It brings per Bowl Teams as taking full advantage of disciplined head coaches your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and your 401(k) or other employer- Sl Onsored retirement plan, pursuing new investment opportunities as they arise and reviewing your portfo- lio regularly to make sure it's still appropriate for your needs. Stay dedicated to your goals. Virtually all Super Bowl teams have had to overcome obstacles, such as injuries, bad weather and a tough schedule. But through persistence and a constant devotion to their ultimate goal, they perse- vere. As an investor, you'll face some challenges, too, such as political and eco- nomic turmoil that can upset the financial markets. But if you own a diversified mix of quality investments and follow a long-term strategy that's tailored to your objec- tives, tinae horizon and risk tolerance, you can keep moving forward, despite the "bumps in the road" that all investors face. Get good coaching. Super Bowl teams typically are well-coached, with and innovative offensive and defensive coordina- tors. When you're trying to achieve many financial goals such as a comfort- able retirement, control over your investment taxes and a legacy to leave to your family you, too, can benefit from strong "coaching." As your "head coach," you might choose a financial profes- sional -- someone who can help you identify your goals and recommend an appro- priate investment strategy to help you work toward them. And your financial professional can coordinate activities with your other "coaches." such as your tax and legal advisors. Unless you're a professional foot- ball player, you won't ever experience what it's like to play in the Super Bowl. How- ever, achieving your financial goals can be a fairly big event in your life and to help work toward that point, you can take a few tips from the teams that have made it to the Big Game. Matt Hull is a financial advisor for Edward Jones Investments in Stillwater. crisp new calendars, a new school semester and a fresh chance for an organized, calm and uncluttered life. The Stillwater Public Library will help community members attain their fresh starts by holding two free events during January's "Get Organized Month." This year, the library's "Get Organized Month" events will focus on orga- nizing vital documents. On Wednesday, Jan. 25 at noon, profes- sional organizer Shan- non Cowan will present "Gathering, Organiz- ing and Storing Your Essential Documents." The class will help par- ticipants identify which documents are vital, how to replace lost items and how to keep items easily accessible for use in times of emergency or crisiL "Most people may not need to access their vital documents very often," said Stacy DeLano, adult services librarian. "But when you need those documents, you "really" need them and most of us can't produce them at a moment's notice." The class is free and open to persons eigh- teen and older. A free lunch will be provided and participants will be eligible for several draw= ings, including one for a Legacy Drawer, which is an organizational system for vital documents. Enrollment is required and seating is limited. To enroll, email askali brarian @ stillwater.org or call the Help Desk at 405.372.3633 x106. Community members are encouraged to spend time that Thursday and Friday sorting through their old documents and gathering out of date items for dis- posal on Sat., Jan. 28. at Shred-Away's free drive- thru event. Shred-Away, a professional document disposal company will be in the library's north parking lot from 10 a.m. to noon to shred up to two boxes of documents per car. Boxes will be unloaded for participants and papers will be shred- ded onsite. For more informa- tion, visit the Stillwater Public Library web site at library.stillwater.org or visit the library on Facebook and Twitter. Library classes are co- sponsored by the Friends of the Library and KOSU. The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. 1 '~i IILI3 II Illll L II 1 III I I I IIIIIII IIII I ' I [ I 3JI I II r I Ill