Accounting Discussion

Category: Accounting Discussion

4 Money Management Apps You Need

I recently got a comment on my Ballin On A Budget  post and I realized I never did the follow-up post to that so here it is, 4 Money Management Apps You Need. You do not need them all but make sure you at least have 2 of these on your phone now-all FREE.

4 Apps

 

1. Mint- They should cut me a check some time soon because I swear I am their biggest advocate! I have used Mint for a while to check my spending and accounts all in one place. See more about Mint and why I love it in an earlier post, Simply Mint to Be. This is a great visual alternative to a manual budget, but the same amount of work is required if you want to get the best use of the app.

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2. Credit Karma- Credit Karma is a great app to have because it makes monitoring your credit score/overall credit status easy. You do not need a computer, you do not need to wait a whole year to get it free, and you do not have to be surprised. Too often a credit score is a scary topic for some and a great way to get out of that mindset is awareness. Your credit score is something you want to monitor, just like you watch your money. Even if your on a road of financial recovery it would be a great feeling to watch your score go up, do not wait. Having this app on your phone makes it that much easier. It provides your credit score (approximate), tips, credit utilization, credit status, and almost everything on your credit report. The good thing here is it isn’t an app you have to look at daily, but monthly, so why not?

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Women in the News- CalCPA Leading Ladies

This week I received my monthly CalCPA magazine which featured these gorgeous women making a footprint in their careers. Every month I scowl the mag for great career advice that I can share and happily I found a great read. The ladies, who are all in finance & accounting, share their insight into some common career focal points. Check out the quick read below to learn more about how these women thrive in the business world.

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I pulled what I thought was the most notable career advice for any avenue:

While on your journey, work hard and be true to yourself. Strive every day to do your best and learn as much as you can.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right environment and the right work ethic anything is possible

The best mentors in my career have developed organically and naturally, through people I’ve met. You should seek out your mentors- people you admire and get along with.

I see the impact of the board of directors on an organization, so why not create your own personal board of directors?

Today, in many cases, women can set their expectations as high as they want and their success will depend upon their actions.

Time is Money

“why haven’t i started saving?”

I have been out of college for about 3 years now and I just started contributing to my 401K retirement account. For 3 years I had the opportunity to begin contributing but I kept putting it off, mistakenly. For many reasons, some we may have in common, I just could not bring myself to let the money go. I was scared I would be broke, I figured I had a ton of time (i’m nowhere close to 50), scared I wouldn’t be able to shop, figured the little money wouldn’t make a difference in the long run, to scared to admit I didn’t fully understand the process, made excuses because my company didn’t match. Looking back all of the reasons appear small to me, based on the mindset of fear, a mindset that young powerful women like ourselves should not entertain. It’s funny because I am accountant and I heard this all the time, but it just sunk in for me when my new company automatically enrolled me in our 401K @ 1% of my pay.  

So I realized today that I should share with you guys some good to know facts about 401K accounts and hopefully get you guys motivated to go enroll in a plan, learn more, or up your savings percentage……

First realize that people may say IRA (individual retirement account) or 401K  interchangeably, but overall they refer to the same concept. Many different forms are out there but I will only discuss the Traditional IRA (401K)  and the ROTH IRA.

Quickies


  • First find out if your company has a matching plan (FREE MONEY, take advantage)
  • 403b refers to nonprofit/government retirement plans
  • Roth contributions are after tax and traditional contributions are before tax
  • Remember savings should not be withdrawn until you are 59 1/2 
  • Starting early is important, you should at least be contributing $50/month
  • You get a tax benefit for contributing (potential refund increase or credit)


Details

  • A traditional 401K is usually a tax deductible plan which allows you to make pre-tax contributions.
    • e.g. – if you make 50K/year and contribute 1% you will end up contributing $500 by the end of the year to your retirement savings account. That approximately 19 bucks from every pay check.
  • Upon withdrawal traditional 401k’s are taxed as ordinary income with no special reduced tax rate.
  • If you take money from your traditional 401k before the specified age you will incur a 10% penalty unless you did things like:
    • bought your 1st home within 120 days
    • used money for medical insurance
    • used money for education
    • others
  • A ton of hypothetical calculations can be made but typically, waiting just 5 years to contribute can cause you to miss out on at least $40,000 ( PT $50 contribution,match, with good rate of return)

  • A ROTH 401k is a non tax deductible plan which allows you to make after-tax contribution.
    • e.g.- similar to the scenario above but after your job takes the takes out your gross pay.
  • With ROTH accounts you can pay now and withdraw later without having to pay taxes (restrictions apply)
  • The yearly max contribution to a ROTH is currently 5500, but changes every year with tax laws.
  • Traditional accounts can rollover to a ROTH account
SOOO now that you have all those confusing basics, how much and which one? hmm again all relative. At least 50 bucks a month should be your minimum. As far as which one without going into governmental what ifs,  the thought is later in life you will more than likely be in a higher tax bracket so now is the time to invest in your ROTH to take advantage of your low tax rate. I don’t yet, I would recommend taking complete advantage of your company match if available by doing the traditional 401k . But, IT ALL DEPENDS on your tax bracket and your argument, but the final question is when do you want to pay tax? 

I have a ton of scenarios which you can email me for if your interested in knowing more about 401ks. Please invest now!

Simply Mint To Be

As a young woman with so many things to worry about it’s easy to put managing your finances on the back burner. 401K? Savings? Investments? Student Loans? Car Payments? Credit Cards? etc. who has time for all of this!?!? I know what your thinking cause i’ve been there, and I actually work in finance! Its hard, its overwhelming, its stressful and at the end of the day I would rather buy clothes.  But, we all know now is the time to stop being scared to look at your balances and take control. That clothing purchase would e better appreciated if it wasn’t  bought with your last, if you weren’t going into debt, and you knew in the back of your mind you could afford it.  Those new shoes may just look better if you skipped out on a few other shoes you wanted to set up a emergency fund. Looking good is just as important as feeling good, and having a good handle on your finances just feels GOOD! A good starting point to try is MINT.COM, a blessing in disguise :-).  Read my tips below to find out more about MINT and how it can help you!


Mint is FREE software that allows you to 
  • Track your current balances for  bank accounts, credit cards, students loans, personal loans, etc.
  • Set up Budgets to monitor how much you may be spending on things like shopping!
  • Monitor you Debt-Ratio
  • Stay on top of upcoming bills
Mint helps because
  • You can get email alerts just as a friendly reminder
  • It allows you to have all of your financial avenues in one spot
  • On the go access to your finances when you need to make a decision (THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT)
Tips to get the best out of your Mint account
  • Download the app on your phone!
  • Spend some time setting up a realistic budget- this will be useful when you need a quick reference or reality check
  • Don’t be scared- Mint is a secured site owned by Intuit and your social security number is not required. Real the security documents before you put your information in to ensure your comfortable!
Come back next week for more tips on how to own your finances and career choices as a young professional.

10 Tips on How to Pass the CPA Exam

If you have had a chance to wonder over to my ‘About Me’ page you probably (hopefully) got my message that I want Effortless Composition to about Style and Young Professionals. I hope all of my readers can find great use of the information I have to share.

So, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam, where do I begin with this love/hate relationship. The best and the worst thing I have ever accomplished was passing these exams, kind of like getting over an ex-significant other. It drove me crazy as hell trying to get through it but the beneficial aftermath is indescribable. To give you a little more information if you are unfamiliar with this career path CPA’s are typically your auditors, tax preparers, CPA firm partners, and other industry personnel in finance/accounting. It’s a four-part test, 2-4 hours per test, which you have a year and a half to pass.  The benefit of this certification is like any other, better career opportunities and you feel great. If you are planning to or in the process of taking your exams I salute you! It will be a wild ride but well worth it; here goes my two cents…

1. Use Flash Cards

  • I overlooked how beneficial these were when I first began the exams. Pick up or create a stack that you can look over for the two weeks before the exam to get those key topics jammed in your memory. Also try creating your own mnemonic’s.

2.  Take a Look at the Schedule

  • I failed the REG section once before I passed, I got a 74, and I cried like a baby at work. After talking to my career counselors I realized how important it is to consider when other CPA exam candidates are taking their exams. I took my REG exam right after the TAX busy season (ever tax person takes this test right after because they just learned it) which tends to affect the curve of the exam (remember you are ranked in accordance with your peers).

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