Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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Year End Charity Giving Tips from the IRS

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Family,Taxes on January 16, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900432375Happy New Year!  But Wait! 

Do not close the book just yet on year 2012…

Year 2012 is past us and hopefully you rang in the new year with a bang. Although the party is over, you can ensure you get more bang for every buck or item you donated in 2012 by reviewing these tips about year-end charity donations
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Contributions are tax deductible in the year made. As long as the donation was submitted before the end of 2012, it can be deducted for 2012 – even the check hasn’t been cashed or the credit card bill paid yet. However, take my word for it, the IRS won’t just take your word for charitable acts. To deduct monetary donations, you must have a bank record or written document from the charity with the name of the charity, the contribution amount, and the date.
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Also be aware that deductible donations must be made to “qualified” organizations. Only churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, government agencies, and anything on the Exempt Organizations Select Check have the IRS’ seal of approval. So although you might have splurged on gifts for yourself, you still don’t count as a qualified organization – no matter how often you call yourself a charity case.
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MH900044904Maybe you couldn’t spare some change and instead donated clothing or household items to a charity. In general, those items must have been in good used condition or better in order to be deductible. That means the bag of ratty old pajamas you left at the Salvation Army drop site probably can’t be deducted. And if you can’t get a receipt, at least keep a detailed written record of every donation.

MH900297557Remember that individuals can only claim deductions for charitable contributions if they itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A. That form will help you figure out whether itemizing is better than using a short form (Form 1040A and 1040EZ) to claim the standard deduction. Basically, you’ll have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Of course, whether or not you end up deducting your donations, giving is something you should do year-round. 

Remember the old saying….”Spend a little, Save a little, and Give a little…”

On the Money,  Sufen Wang,  Wang Solutions

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Holiday Guide Part 2:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Entertainment,Family,Taxes on December 14, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900363532Seasonal Strategies for Your Small Business

‘Tis the season to spend time with family, but also ‘tis the season for shoppers to spend money on lots of presents. That means small businesses have to get down to business right now if they want the extra holiday business, especially since Super Saturday (December 22nd)– one of the biggest shopping days of the year – is close at hand.

MH900082871Special offers can easily increase your sales volume. Everybody likes any kind of discount, so come up with deals like “purchase one product and get the other at half price” or “buy one at full price and get a free gift to give.” A business that doesn’t sell seasonal products can be just as successful as one that does, as long as you promote your products as suitable gifts. You can also donate a portion of the price of your product to a charity so that customers feel they too are contributing to that charity. Hand out samples in exchange for customer’s e-mail addresses so you can send them promotions and keep them coming back after the holidays. Finally, get shoppers in the holiday – meaning spending – spirit by decorating your store and offering a free gift wrapping service.

e-Filing BagIf you have a store website and social media pages, also decorate those with festive graphics and designs. Organize merchandise so that it’s easy for online buyers to find holiday gifts – for example, “Gifts for Him,” Gifts under $50,” etc. Use email, blogs, and web banners to make gift suggestions, and to showcase popular items and why people have to have them this holiday season. Offer downloadable gift certificates when holiday shipping deadlines have passed and use your site to make people want to visit your brick and mortar store.

Budget CutYou should also be aware of several business-related tax credits and deductions that you’ll want to take advantage of before New Year’s Day. For example, did you know that you can get a tax credit for hiring an unemployed veteran before December 31, 2012? Or that Section 179 of the tax code provides tax benefits for equipment purchases made before the end of the year? Now would be a good time to review your equipment so you can replace any obsolete assets.

You can read this U.S. Small Business Administration bulletin to find out many more holiday marketing tips, answers to your small business tax questions, and more details on the above tax credits and deductions. If you feel stressed out in the coming weeks, just keep in mind that being busy is always a good thing when you’re a small busyness owner.

MH900354203Happy Holidays!

Sufen Wang,

Wang Solutions

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Holiday Guide Part 1:

In Accounting & Finances,Culture,Entertainment,Family on December 13, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH90025087910 Holiday Tips for a Merry Season…

Celebrate on a budget:

Before you buy everything on everybody’s Christmas list, write your own list of how much you can afford to spend on gifts, travel, decorations, and other holiday expenses. Then keep track of your spending as you go. If you’re on a budget too tight for comfort, look around for seasonal employment. Businesses need extra help during the holidays, and if you’re good enough at your job, you could start the new year with a permanent position!

Save money, save your house, and save the planet:

MH900408841When coming up with a budget, don’t forget to figure in the wintertime electricity bill. Using LED holiday lights will save you energy and money, and since they’re cooler than incandescent bulbs, they reduce the risk of fires. Just to be safe though, don’t overload electrical sockets and make sure your smoke alarm has new batteries. You should also buy rechargeable batteries for all of those electronic gifts to help reduce the amount of harmful materials thrown away. Finally, after the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of just sending it to a landfill.

Buy age-appropriate toys:

Although we know that every kid ends up playing with the cardboard box instead of the actual toy, you should still remember that toys have age-labels for a reason: it’s not safe to give a two year old something meant for children ages 7+. So don’t give toys with small parts or sharp edges to small children. And if you buy your child a bike or skateboard, please don’t forget the helmet.

MH910217103Give yourself the gift of health:

With the holidays, comes lots of food, and with lots of food, comes gaining weight. Listen to your heart before you add an extra-large slice of apple pie to the extra-large slice of pumpkin pie already on your plate: it will tell you to avoid those extra calories. If you do decide to indulge, balance it out by taking a walk with your family after dinner. And make sure you put away the leftovers as soon as you get back from walking. To save all that still-good food safe from nasty bacteria, never leave it sitting out for more than two hours and store it in shallow containers at the appropriate temperature.

MH900155008Give the gift of service:

Last week’s blog brought up ways you can help foster children. However, there is so much more that needs to be done, especially during the holiday season. Instead of rushing to open presents on Christmas morning, take two hours to help out at a local soup kitchen or food bank. Not only will this will cheer you up if you’ve got the holiday blues, you’ll also ensure that other people have a happy holiday. 

MH900410591Happy Holidays!  

Sufen Wang,  

Wang Solutions

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Families… Come in different shapes and sizes…

In Culture,Education,Family on December 5, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

MH900435055What You Should Know About Adoption

November was National Adoption Month 2012 – a month dedicated to raising awareness about adoption and drawing attention to the 104,000 children in foster care who still need good homes. But just because November is over, doesn’t mean you have to wait another year to find out more about adoption. In fact, if you’re thinking of adopting, now is the perfect time to start educating yourself about the challenges and steps involved in the adoption process.

For example, you must prepare to be patient. After you first contact an adoption agency, it usually takes about a year for a child to be placed with you. During that time you’ll need to complete an adoption home study, which explores your motivation to adopt and the type of children you are both willing and able to parent. Next, after expressing interest in a child or sibling group, the possible match will go through a series of reviews. If all goes well, the child/children will eventually be placed with you, but the adoption will not be legally final for at least another six months after this placement.

MH900382585While there is no ideal adoptive parent, you should be able to provide a happy, balanced home for the new member of your family. As long as you have stable housing, it does not matter if you rent or own your living space. You must also have adequate income to meet your family’s needs. Just as importantly, you must be a mature and responsible adult. So if you don’t have a job, you live in your parents’ garage, and you play computer games all day, you probably shouldn’t consider adoption – at least not for right now.

MH900183052If you feel ready for both the adoption process and the adoption itself, it can be an incredibly rewarding change in your life. However, even if you aren’t prepared to take that big step, you can still have a positive impact on a child’s life. Many children in foster care have been removed from their homes for their own protection, due to abuse and neglect. As a volunteer for a non-profit organization such as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Orange County, you would be assigned to consistently spend time with one of these children, building a relationship and ensuring that he or she receives the necessary support while going through the foster care process. In fact, this one-on-one relationship between the volunteer and dependent child is often the only stable, positive relationship that child has. If you want to help, then consider dedicating your time to becoming a friend and advocate for a foster child.

Mother and DaughterOn The Family, 
Sufen Wang,
Wang Solutions

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Tax Relief for Hurricane Sandy Victims…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Family,Insurance & Liability,Taxes on November 23, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Hurricane Sandy Qualifies as a Disaster: Victims Given Much-Needed Tax Relief

Just because Hurricane Sandy has disappeared from the Doppler radar does not mean its aftermath dropped off the map. Almost a month has passed, but many East Coast residents are still picking through debris on their lawns and others will be homeless for the holidays. The storm really was a disaster in many ways – which is why it has been designated as a “qualified disaster for federal tax purposes.”

That’s actually good news: victims can exclude qualified disaster relief payments received from their employer (or anyone else for that matter) from their taxable income. So any payments used to repair homes or repair/replace the contents not covered by insurance, would not be included in the individual recipient’s gross income. This is also the case with any payments received for uninsured personal, family, living, or funeral expenses resulting from the storm. As a result, hurricane victims won’t have to worry about paying extra later when they’ve already lost so much.

Hurricane Sandy being named a “qualified disaster” will also help anybody trying to help the storm’s victims. Now, employer-sponsored private foundations can provide disaster relief to employee-victims in areas affected by the hurricane without having to worry that their tax-exempt status will change. An official list of those affected areas can be found here.

This tax relief is nice, but assistance for Hurricane Sandy victims shouldn’t stop there. Every cent does count, so donate whatever you can. Or if you don’t have a lot of money, volunteer a little of your time. It’s the season of giving after all.

Happy Thanks–Giving…. 

Sufen Wang 

Wang Solutions

Articles

Fake Online Pharmacies:

In Culture,Education,Family on October 28, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

A Good Deal Can Be Bad for Your Health

Speaking of flu season, your local pharmacy is probably not a pretty sight right now with long lines of people coughing and clutching their stomachs. With all of those germs out there, switching to an online pharmacy might seem like a good idea.

It’s not – unless you do your research – because 97% of online pharmacies don’t follow U.S. pharmacy laws. In other words (or numbers), only 3% of all online pharmacies are legitimate. For all you know, that cheap pharmacy you found through Google could be run by Fred the drug dealer from down the street.

But how can you be sure you’re getting medicine from a trustworthy pharmacist and not Fred’s trench-coat? First and foremost, any legit pharmacy will require a prescription from your doctor. Yes, that means there are places online where people can get drugs without a prescription – however, if you care at all about your health, don’t try it. You’ll get counterfeit or contaminated drugs that can make you even sicker than before.

Also stay away from online pharmacies which have no contact phone number, are located in some remote part of Canada, and which aren’t licensed in the United States. Safe online pharmacies will always provide a physical US address and phone number, and they must have a license with your state board of pharmacy. Otherwise, you could be getting imported prescription drugs which aren’t FDA approved.  Say all you want about our country’s regulations, without them, the product or the prescription can kill you.

You should also be able to get answers straight from the pharmacist’s (virtual) mouth. Just like you can talk to your local Walgreen’s pharmacist, legitimate online pharmacies will always provide a licensed pharmacist to answer your questions.

And, like most things in life, the cheapest pharmacy isn’t always the best pharmacy. The medication is available at such a low price usually because something is wrong with it: it could have been stored improperly, is expired, is not potent enough, or it could even be too potent. What good is a discount if it kills you?

Finally, look for the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal of approval. These sites have been thoroughly reviewed and credited by the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) – and the NABP knows what it’s talking about when it comes to pharmacies.

Follow these tips so you don’t cough up your personal and financial information to fake online pharmacies!  Better be Safe than Sorry!!!

On Your Health,  Sufen Wang,  Wang Solutions

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Achoo!

In Culture,Family on October 25, 2012 by Sufen Wang

How to Dodge the Flu…

In addition to managing your stress, getting a flu vaccine every year is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. Try to get the vaccination ASAP because the sniffles are already headed your way. However, if you don’t get the shot, or even if you do, you can also fend off viruses by following these simple strategies:

-Your hands are dirtier than you think, so keep them away from face. That means if you’re handling money or grabbing door handles all day, you shouldn’t eat finger lickin’ good food without first washing your hands. Use soap and water, and if you’re on the go, don’t forget your hand sanitizer.

-Water and sleep are good for you. Get a lot of both.

-Run far far away from sick people.

Now, if you’re the sick person, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you think it’s gross when someone coughs without covering their mouth, then make sure you cover your coughs and sneezes when you’re sick and in public.

Better yet, don’t go out at all, especially if you have a fever. Not only are you more contagious, you also need to get the proper amount of rest. Doing too much, too soon will only make you sicker for longer. Doctors recommend that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever has returned to normal without the help of medication.

Nobody likes being sick so be courteous to those around you if you do catch the flu!

On Your Health (Remember to Wash Your Hands), Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Manage Your Stress

In Culture,Family,Human Resources on October 25, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

Keep Calm and Carry On:

Let’s talk about stress. But first, take a deep breath and relax. Your health will thank you for that.

Stress can cause more than just frazzled hair and bitten fingernails. When you’re experiencing symptoms like insomnia, upset stomach, neck pain, and irritability, your body is basically saying, “Hey you! Slow down for a minute. You’ve been doing too much for too long.” If you ignore these warning signs, you increase your chances of heart disease, depression, diabetes, and other serious health issues.

You might respond, “Well taking a break is easier said than done. I’ve got a mid-term to study for and then I have to take my fiancé to the doctor and then I have to do this, that, and that other thing.”However, there some ways you can make things easier on yourself without dropping everything and going to relax on a beach in Fiji – although if you can afford that vacation, go right ahead. For example:

Always plan ahead. Writing to-do lists will help you manage your time and set priorities.

-Make sure you put meditation on your to-do list. Set aside a few minutes everyday to focus on achieving an inner peace.

-Relax your muscles with a hot shower or light stretching. Or make your fiancé give you a massage.

-And you should already know this one: exercise regularly and eat healthy.

If you’re set in your ways, it might take awhile (and cause some stress) to stick to these stress-relieving strategies. In the long run though, you’re going to feel a lot better and get sick less often. And now is the perfect time to get started because it’s autumn, which means it’s flu season.

To Your Health, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month….

In Culture,Education,Family,Insurance & Liability on October 9, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Pay Attention!: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

Take a break from buying Halloween candy early (and eating it) and listen up, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s no exaggeration to say that learning about breast cancer could end up saving your life or the life of someone you love.

 

Certain things increase the risk of breast cancer. Some are avoidable, such as obesity, alcohol, and exposure to radiation. So, stay far away from Halloween candy, Happy Hour, and anything with a nuclear symbol on it. However, other factors, such as estrogen and inherited risk, are unavoidable. That’s where protective factors come in. Exercising for at least four hours per week is the best thing you can do for your body, even if you’re not at a high risk for breast cancer.

 

Don’t go for a walk just yet though without reading further– unless you’re walking to your doctor’s office. Yup, get ready to bare those breasts, because women (especially over 40) need to get regular screenings for breast cancer. If cancer is found early, there’s a much better chance of successful treatment. That means there’s no excuse for not getting a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. And if you notice any strange lumps before your next mammogram, ask your doctor to do a clinical breast exam (CBE) immediately.

 

This year, an estimated 226,870 women and 2,190 men will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer. However, it’s important to remember that breast cancer can be treated, and there are many different options. Some of these include surgery, such as a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, and even more treatments are being tested as we speak.

 

Your awareness of breast cancer shouldn’t stop once you stop reading this page. It’s your turn to spread the word. One way you can do that is with the Pink Ribbon Kit, which provides free (yes – free!) publications about mammography screenings. Or you can direct everyone you know to the MedlinePlus breast cancer page, which has a ton of resources to explore. Stay aware and stay healthy!

 

On Your Health, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Turn Off the TV and Video Games…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Entertainment,Family on September 21, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Kids.gov: Where Your Family Can Have Fun Learning!

Kids these days have it easy. Instead of learning about our government only from boring textbooks and worksheets, now kids get their very own government website. Not surprisingly, it’s called Kids.gov. However, don’t be fooled by the name: there’s something here for everyone.

That’s why the site is divided into three age categories: Kids (K-5), Teens (Grade 6-8), and Grown-Ups (Teachers/Parents). In the Kids’ area, there’s cool stuff like a down loadable “How to Become President of the U.S.” poster. If your six year old is really enthusiastic about becoming president, you can even order a free print copy.

Even better, Benjamin Franklin makes a special guest appearance on the Kids’ website with “Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids.” Using cartoons to help him, he explains everything from citizenship to how laws are made. Speaking of Founding Fathers, there’s also a “Constitution Day Activity” where you (and your child) can test your historical document trivia skills.

And this government site isn’t only about government. Kids can watch a video on the “Art of Video Games”, learn how to read music, learn how to read with Reading Planet, or create money with “Design Your Own Bill.” And whether your child wants to play a game about Colonial Williamsburg, acid rain, or washing their hands, Kids.gov has it.

The Teen section has many of the same activities, but also more complicated offerings, such as “Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity”, “Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle”, algebra basics, and “Shakespeare Online.” Later, if your middle school student needs a break from all of that info, have them play “YouAreHere”, a virtual mall game that helps them become better shoppers.

Grown-ups can also learn a lot from Kids.gov. For example, “Distraction.gov” explains why it’s bad to text and drive. Some of the most popular Grown-Up pages are “Talking to Your Kids About Money” and “Helping Your Child Write a Book Report.” And if you’re hungry, check out “Thomas Jefferson – A Day in the Life – Ice Cream at Home Activity.” Although you might want to visit the “Nutrition and Fitness” page after eating.

Instead of letting your child watch TV all day, change things up a little and show them Kids.gov. It’s a safe place to learn and play!

On the Money, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions