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Use Tax Season to Organize for the Future PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 24 February 2012 14:46
Financial Planner Shares Tips for a 21st-Century Filing System

Jane was not looking forward to going through her parents’ belongings to get their house ready to sell. Their health had been failing for some time and they finally agreed to move to a retirement community. Now that they were both comfortably moved into their new apartment, it was up to Jane to get rid of the things they no longer needed.

Her parents had lived in the same house for more than 50 years, so Jane expected to find things that should have been tossed out years ago.  But she was amazed to discover 50 years of tax returns and bank statements carefully stored in boxes in the attic. Her parents had saved all their financial records!

Many people are confused about what records they need to keep and for how long. They hold onto tax returns, bank records, brokerage statements and other financial information simply because they don’t know if they’ll need it again. Like Jane’s parents, the documents get packed in boxes that eventually take over valuable living or storage space.

Financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning (www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com), says tax time is a great time to get organized.

“Most people are going through their records to get ready to file their return,” he says. “This is the time to get smart about what you need to keep and then set up a system to store it efficiently going forward.”

Rodgers suggests these five steps to help you effectively organize your finances for 2012 and beyond:

1. Out with the old – Discard the records you no longer need: Tax returns older than seven years; bank records and credit card statements that are not related to the tax returns you’re keeping; brokerage statements that aren’t related to purchases of current holdings. Be sure to shred all your old documents before throwing them out.

2. Go digital – Convert the documents you plan to save into digital images that are stored on your hard drive. Invest in a good scanner and scan as you go through your paperwork, shredding and tossing the hard copies as you go. On your computer, file by tax year, so your 2011 folder will contain your tax return for 2011 and all pertinent bank records and receipts. Organize the previous six years the same way. Next year you can delete the oldest folder when you add the 2012 folder.

3. Save a forest – All of the financial institutions you deal with would prefer to send your statements electronically. Stop receiving paper statements. Instead, download your statements electronically and store them in your new filing system.  Most banks and credit card companies keep at least a year’s worth of statements available.  You need to download these files only once a year to complete the year’s file.

4. Save backups in case of emergency – Make backup copies of your files on a CD. Choose a CD-R (recordable) as opposed to a CD-RW (rewriteable), because CD-R cannot accidentally be overwritten. Depending on your computer operating system, you may be able to continue adding data to a CD-R each year, until the CD is full. However, some operating systems won’t allow that, so you’ll need a new CD for each year.

5. Go paperless – Your new electronic filing system can be expanded to include all your financial records, from car maintenance receipts to pay stubs.  Wills and insurance policies can also be scanned and stored but, of course, keep the originals of those in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe.

Gone are the days of saving your financial documents in box and shoving it into the attic.  Technology advances have made organizing your personal finances easier with minimal cost.  Make 2012 the year you get organized by moving your finances into a 21st century filing system.

About Rick Rodgers

Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates, “The Retirement Specialists,” in Lancaster, Pa. He’s a Certified Retirement Counselor and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers. Rodgers has been featured on national radio and TV shows, including “FOX Business News” and “The 700 Club,” and is available to speak at conferences and corporate events (www.rodgersspeaks.com).

 
Governor Quinn Dedicates Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail in Honor of Black History Month PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Friday, 24 February 2012 09:57
Highway Will Honor Unit’s Service, Bravery and Sacrifice

 

MARKHAM – February 20, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today joined local leaders to dedicate the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail, which honors the fighter group’s valiant service to the United States during World War II. Presented to the Chicago “DODO” Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, this dedication celebrates the Airmen’s commitment to our country and important place in black history. State Representative Marlow H. Colvin (D-Chicago), State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and Markham Mayor David Webb joined Governor Quinn in commemorating the Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements.

 

“As Illinois observes Black History Month, I am proud to honor these men as an important part of Black history and American history,” Governor Quinn said. “It is important to recognize our men and women who sacrificed to so much defend our rights. Their service to our country will always be remembered."

 

Formally known as the 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of black pilots to ever fly for the U.S. military. Overcoming prejudice and discrimination, this elite group played an integral role in the Allied victory in World War II. The unit flew more than 15,000 combat sorties for more than 1500 missions and by the end of the war had earned more than 900 citations, including 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Today, the Tuskegee Airmen continue to serve our country as an organization working to provide youth with education opportunities.

 

Pursuant to House Resolution 28, sponsored by Rep. Marlowe Colvin (D-Chicago), the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail will be the stretch of Interstate 57 between Exit 339 at Sauk Trail Road and Exit 358 at Wentworth Avenue in Chicago. IDOT will place signs at these points to mark the historic trail. A copy of the resolution is attached.

 

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Start Closing the Income Inequality Gap Yourself PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 24 February 2012 09:50
Expert Offers Tips for Taking Charge of Your Life

The memes for the current economic recession have been “income inequality” and “the 99 percent versus the 1 percent” as the 106 million Americans earning $45,000 or less each year feel the most pain from job loss, foreclosure, underwater mortgages and inflation.

Some say the solution is for the government to redistribute the wealth, perhaps by taxing the top money-makers at a higher rate. Real estate businessman Trevor Bolin, author of Take Charge and Change Your Life Today (www.bolininternational.com), says there’s a better way and it’s one that will make more people happier – and wealthier.

“I went from the bottom 10 percent at age 17 to the top 2 percent at 28 by making some changes in my life,” says Bolin, who owns three realty companies in British Columbia.

“The system is very simple, but not all of the steps are easy. It requires self-discipline and changing bad habits, but it’s all possible if you follow the steps. And I promise, following through on just one will dramatically affect your life.”

Some of Bolin’s strategies:

• Commit. Vow right now that you will follow through 100 percent on every step you take toward changing your life, whether it’s making more money, losing weight or becoming a better parent. Commit to succeeding, not just surviving. Know that luck has nothing to do with it – it’s hard work, attitude and giving back. Committing 100 percent means that, if you decide to read a book on investing, you won’t quit after three chapters. If your goal is to drop 20 pounds, don’t stop after 10.

• Change your attitude. Just as negative thoughts have the power to negatively affect outcomes, so do positive thoughts. Start each day with positive thoughts, and change negative thoughts to positive ones throughout the day. This may be hard at first, but the more you work at it, the easier it gets. Rather than wake up cursing the rainy day, be grateful for it. Water is one of our most valuable natural resources, and rain is cleansing. Remind yourself each morning of all the good things in your life – your health, your home, your spouse. Tell yourself that your meeting today is going to be engaging and productive, or your job interview is going to go well.

• Figure out your “Y.” Your Y is your reason for everything. It’s shaped by the past, formatted for the present and goal-formatted for the future. It’s reflected in every decision you make. If you don’t know your Y, your decisions will be made on the basis of habit, what you learned growing up, and what your immediate needs are. But if you’ve decided your Y is that you want the peace and security of financial success, you’ll be guided by that every time you make a choice.

• Set goals. On a piece of paper write down all of your goals, short-term and long-term. Next, number them 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 based on how many years it should take to achieve them. Losing 20 pounds? That might be a 1. Buying a new car? That could be a 3. Now, take your top five 1 goals and write down why you want them and how you plan to achieve them. Do the same thing for each set of goals. Having goals is vital and keeping them in front of you will help keep you on track toward achieving them. Most important – be sure to cross each one off as you achieve it. Take it from me, there’s no better feeling.

Paying yourself first – saving a portion of every check – and giving back to society, whether through service or philanthropy, are also key to Bolin’s roadmap for changing your life.

“It’s all about having a plan,” he says. “You can create success as long as you’re putting a plan into motion.”

About Trevor Bolin

Trevor Bolin owns three realty companies in British Columbia, including one in his hometown of Fort St. John, which was named the No. 1 RE/MAX small-density office in the world. He’s also chairman of Bolin & Co. International Training, which offers coaching and seminars for business people. He has served three terms on the Fort St. John City Council.

 
FCC Should Open Up Regarding LightSquared PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 24 February 2012 09:41

Monday, February 20, 2012

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley explains why the Federal Communications Commission should provide documents about its preliminary approval of the LightSquared broadband project now that the agency has withdrawn its approval.  Senator Grassley has been seeking full disclosure for nearly a year, arguing that the public’s business ought to be public.  He said he is seeking accountability for the way the FCC administers valuable spectrum space.

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of Senator Grassley's address:

Since last April, I’ve asked the Federal Communications Commission for documents related to the agency’s decision to fast-track the LightSquared broadband wireless project, despite concerns of widespread interference with global-positioning system devices.

The agency has refused to provide any documents.

This week, the FCC withdrew the preliminary approval it gave to LightSquared saying it was because of interference with GPS devices.

The FCC’s action seems to acknowledge the point I’ve been making since April.  Prematurely granting a conditional waiver in a rush process is not the way to get the right result.

Now that the interference issue is settled, we need to find out more than ever why the FCC did what it did.  The agency put this project on a fast track for approval with what appears to have been completely inadequate technical research.  After all of this time and expense, still, no one outside of the agency knows why.

That’s not the way the people’s government should work.  The public’s business ought to be public.  The FCC has backtracked on LightSquared.  If we don’t find out how and why the FCC failed avoid this controversy, then it will keep operating as a closed shop instead of the open, publicly accountable agency it should be.

 
Simon: Strip clubs should fund rape crisis centers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kathryn Phillips   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:43

Lt. Governor to work with lawmakers to fund violence prevention

CHICAGO – February 17, 2012. An advocate for sexual and domestic violence survivors, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today pledged to work with State Sen. Toi Hutchinson and the General Assembly to pass legislation that would fund rape crisis centers through an entrance fee on strip clubs that permit alcohol.

Simon said adult entertainment facilities that profit from the combination of nude dancing and alcohol should help pick up the tab for related social ills, such as rape, sexual assault, prostitution and other crimes. She likened the surcharge to using a gasoline tax to pay for road construction or gambling fees to pay for addiction services.

“As a former domestic battery prosecutor, I see a connection between the alcohol-fueled exploitation of women and violence against women,” Simon said. “It is only fair to require the people who profit from the adult entertainment industry to finance those who provide advocacy and counseling services to the victims of sexual assault.”

Simon, who founded the domestic violence legal clinic at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, announced her support for Senate Bill 3348 on Friday alongside the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Hutchinson, advocates from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and survivors of the commercial sex trade.

“Illinois’ budget woes have forced cuts to many social service organizations, including many that serve victims of rape and sexual assault, limiting the ability of sexually abused women to receive the treatment they need,” Hutchinson said.  “The legislation I have introduced is still in its infancy and is by no means a final plan for how we can deal with this issue.  I am looking forward to sitting down with the adult entertainment industry to discuss ways they can be a part of the solution to this problem.”

As introduced, the legislation would require strip club owners who serve or allow alcohol to be consumed on their premises to pay a $5-per-patron fee. The money would be funneled to the new Sexual Assault Prevention Fund, and the state would fund grants to community-based organizations that work to reduce sexual assault or aid crime victims. Similar legislation was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court last year.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault asked Simon and Hutchinson to support the Illinois legislation as it deals with the state’s budget constraints. The coalition’s funding decreased $1.2 million the past three budget years, and one Chicago crisis center closed Dec. 31 due to funding struggles.

The strip club surcharge is a proactive, budget-neutral way to restore funding for critical violence prevention and rehabilitation services for women, Simon said.

“Strip clubs contribute to the objectification and sexual exploitation of women. Rape crisis centers respond to women exploited by sexual harassment, abuse, rape and trafficking.  Our doors are open 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. SB3348 is not the end of strip clubs, but a new beginning for helping victims recover from the trauma of sexual violence,” said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a not-for-profit corporation of 33 community-based sexual assault crisis centers and 26 satellite offices across Illinois.

Illinois is home to more than 100 strip clubs, and many serve or permit alcohol on their premises. Women who dance in strip clubs report a wide range of verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the workplace. Research also links strip clubs to trafficking, prostitution, and an increase in male sexual violence against both the women who work in the clubs and those who live and work in the surrounding areas.

“Strip clubs can increase the demand for other sexual services in a community. When more men are seeking to buy sex, pimps report to researchers that they meet the demand by bringing prostituted women and girls to the area,” said Lynne Johnson, director of policy and advocacy for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, a non-profit that addresses the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation.

Simon and Hutchinson said the next step is to work with Senate leaders to pass the regulatory legislation.

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