Short attention span

I am a tremendous multi-tasker.  I am doing more than one thing at a time, most of the time.  I also have a very short attention span.  Which means I get bored pretty quickly.  I have talked to lots of people who do as well and they tell me that is why they don’t stick to an exercise program.  I completely understand!  *hand up* me too!  I don’t even take the dogs on the same route each day for their walk!

I’ve been pretty successful over the last 3 1/2 years at keeping boredom at bay by doing the following:

  • I’m very fortunate with my fitness club.  Western Racquet has a set class schedule but the content of the classes are always different.  (Other than Step class for which the choreography is the same for the month and it just takes a while to learn it … fortunately for me!)  They also add/drop classes depending on demand/response. But, finding classes that aren’t the same over and over is helpful.
  • When I can’t get to a scheduled class, or when I’m out of town, I have found MyFitStation on Facebook as well as mydreamshape.com.  They post a monthly workout calendar and each day is a different workout.  They are all planned out so I don’t have to do so, but they are varied without me having to figure out my own plan so I don’t get bored or frustrated.  Pinterest is also a great source for workouts you can do on your own.
  • I occasionally throw in something completely different to change it up.  Like Belly Dancing or a bike ride or something.  Just a curve ball to make it feel new.  I am thinking of going back to racquetball again and I haven’t tried that in well over 20 years!
  • While I, in general, like it better when I work out with other people (a friend or in a class), sometimes I just like to put the ear buds in and tune out the world. I hop on the elliptical or the Stairmaster and read while I work out on the machine.  That also takes my mind off how hard the workout is since I’m without the encouragement of a class instructor.
  • I have had a few personal training sessions and while I’ve enjoyed those workouts; I’m just not sure that is something worth it for me for either the workout value or for the cost value.  I sort of feel, well, a little picked on with most trainers!  The two I’ve worked with recently haven’t made me feel like that at all and I’ve benefited from their coaching in how to do some exercises correctly that I hadn’t been.  I think that will prevent me from injury and also give me the best benefit from the work.  So … jury out for me on personal training but if you need a push or a jump or a little snazz it up … maybe try it!

If you have trouble sticking to a workout schedule, it may not be you or even the specific workouts – you just may need some change up.  I know I would never have last 3 months let alone 3 years if I did the same 3 or 4 workouts all the time.  *ick* You know what they say about variety?  Well, it is the spice of your fitness life too.

Have a great week!

The other side of the keep moving equation

I remember a few years ago when I started the Executive Edge program and I had my health assessment completed.  I was ready for weight (too high), waist/hip ratio (ewww) body fat percentage (don’t even get me started) and the look when I revealed how little I worked out.  I was NOT prepared for them to ask me how much I sleep.  I thought for a moment or two and then said, 5-6 hours a night.  The nurse doing my intake raised her eyebrows and said, “that needs to be 8-9 hours if you want to lose weight and gain health.”

Wait.  Really?  Take 3-ish hours OUT of my already far-t0o-full day and just sleep?  When on earth did she think I was going to get anything done as well as add 5-7 hours per week of exercise??  ummm.. right.  I’d get right on that.

I’m not much of a sleeper.  I’m rather like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going until someone ranks my batteries and then I simply … S.T.O.P.  I don’t run down.  I crash.  And then when I wake, be in 20 minutes, 2 hours or whatever, I’m wide awake and running again.  I’m infamous for emailing folks at 3am with an “I’ve been thinking …”  I just never needed much sleep, nor was I good at doing it for any length of time (unless I’m sick); so the idea of just sleeping 3 extra hours a DAY … like 21 less hours of my life available each week … suuuurreee.  But, I was committed to this whole living healthy thing, so I said, “okay.  I’ll see what I can do.”  And, like I do anything, off I went to research.

The sleep-diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazine articles. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you can lose weight while you catch your ZZZs.

And it’s true, sort of.

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

I found information, lots of it.

If you’re looking for a fairly painless way to lose weight (or at least not gain) researchers at Brigham Young University have a new solution for you: Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule.

People who maintain an unvarying sleep routine have a lower percentage of body fat than those who keep irregular sleep hours, says a new study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Led by Bruce Bailey, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young, researchers followed 300 female college students, ages 19 to 26, who were given activity trackers to monitor their movements and activities, including waking and sleeping times. The study participants were assessed for body composition before and after the one-week study period.

What the researchers found:

  • Getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep was linked to higher body fat

  • High quality sleep was associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat

  • Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat

And even recently,

Insufficient sleep affects appetite and satiety hormones as well as fat cells, according to the nation’s top sleep experts.

If you want to lose weight, be sure to get enough sleep.

Most people know they should cut calories and exercise more to trim down, but there’s now significant scientific evidence that another critical component to weight control is avoiding sleep deprivation, sleep scientists say.

“There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain,” says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago. She has spent 15 years studying the topic.

Sleep deprivation probably affects every process in the body, she says. “Our body is not wired for sleep deprivation. The human is the only mammal that does this.”

This would be a pretty story with a bow on it, if I could say it was that easy.  It wasn’t … it isn’t.  I struggled and I still do.  Here is what I found helps me:

  • When I’m tired, I go right to bed.  If I get home and I’m feeling tired or sleepy (not a common occurrence, but still), I get to bed.  ASAP.  If I don’t, I get wired and I’m off to the races and probably will be up even later than I would have normally.  I know, I know, I’m odd!
  • I love love love Sleepytime Extra Tea by Celestial Seasonings.  Sounds silly, but I swear by it. Yes, yes, I know.  It has probably become a Pavlovian trigger for me, but I don’t care.  It helps.
  • If I find that I’m tired, but wired, I do some easy yoga.  No, not the pretzel-y, twist-y, gumby kind you may be thinking of, but like this, Yoga for Better Sleep, just 14 minutes long and very relaxing.  That site, DoYouYoga.com, has some great workouts for all the non-yogis in the crowd.  Good, good stuff.
  • If I’m still tired, but wired, I meditate.  You are now picturing me on a mountain top, sitting in a lotus position, chanting “Ohhhmmm” aren’t you?  Yeah, right.  Not so much me!  What I do is either find a comfortable seated, kneeling or laying on my back position, then I don’t “clear my mind and think of nothing.”  That just does not work for me!  But I focus.  Either on a series of thoughts that relax me or music (I really like Omvana. It is an app as well as a website.  Some tracks are free, some are for purchase.  I really like them).  If you have a mantra, focus on that.  Mine has changed many times over the years.  Find something positive and relaxing that works for you to close your day out.  Just something like, “Today was a full day.  I am thankful for what I accomplished and those I spent time with.  I forgive myself for anything I didn’t get done and I commit to start tomorrow on new, fresh ground.  Today was a gift. Tomorrow is a promise.”  Then, while thinking that (over and over), I focus on relaxing each part of my body from my feet up then I focus on breathing.  Just breathing in and out. Feeling my tummy rise and expand, then my ribs and finally my chest up under my collar bones. Slight pause while full of air.  Then, slowly emptying out, releasing any residual stress.  Then I repeat.  I have to be honest, often it takes me a good long while to stop the mental chatter.  But it works.  Stick with it.
  • If I get into bed and my mind starts to go again or I just need something else, I love Dormio.  It is both an app as well as a website. For me, their Urban Rain & Thunder is amazing.  It works nearly every time.  I set the timer for 20 minutes in the program and only for a handful of times have I still be awake at the end of the timer cycle.

Long story short?  Sleep and I have a twisted, difficult relationship.  However, in my journey to health and wellness, it is one I am learning to manage well!

Sleep well, y’all!

This post brought to you by the letter “V”

“V” for vacation!  After my post on 8/27 about getting back in the healthy lifestyle saddle, I headed off to vacation with great plans for exercise.

However, I first spent 5 days with lots of girlfriends (6 of us in one condo) “Fangirling” at Dragon*Con 2014 (why, yes.  I am a geek, why do you ask?) and other than 15,000+ steps per day walking around downtown Atlanta plus standing in place and in line for hours on end and dancing (LOTS of dancing)?  Well, I didn’t workout.  I did take an intro belly dancing class and found some very enticing Belly Dancing clothing to incentivize me to actually take classes though, so that was something.   My eating was actually pretty good.  A few extra drinks those days (*ahem* “few”), but overall good.

Then, I went off to decompress for an additional 7 days (12 total days gone is a first EVER for me as an adult – I highly recommend it).  Those days I did better with 3 very solid workouts, lots of stretching, good food and sleep plus stress-be-gone.  Did I say I highly recommend it?

The workouts I did I gathered from fitstation.com- home of the monthly complete workout calendar that is my fall-back plan if I’m not taking a class at Western.  I like that the workouts are all planned and they keep track of what has been completed recently and upcoming so you don’t end up doing 3 straight upper body workouts. Plus, though they are challenging, you can scale them to whatever level you are.  Here is the Fit 4 Fall:  September Fitness Challenge calendar.

(I’ve been trying to add a pretty picture of it here, but Benny, a/k/a WordPress 4.0, is currently throwing a tantrum and resisting all of my standard remedies:  Mom-glares, counting to 3’s  and sending it to timeout … so, link it is!  Don’t make me stop this car!)

Summary statement:  I didn’t work the “plan” I had in mind when I left, but I did stay active and kept up with my healthy eating without depriving myself of some indulgences.

I’ve spent some time thinking about my summary and I am very comfortable with it.  I’m not on a diet, I’m on a long-term sustained journey to maintain wellness, continue improvements in flexibility and strength and feel better and better about my health and fitness.  “Missing” a week or so is not a end-all for me.  I didn’t “fall off the wagon,” I just parked the wagon and hopped on the horse for a bit for a different view.   Yes, I am in the midst of the Executive Edge 2014 Challenge so I’m pushing harder right now as I seek to win; but it isn’t a “be all” for me.  It is what any date-certain event should be when it comes to a health & fitness journey, an awesome push toward my goal that I am determined to reach and a great motivator.

In other words, I’m just moving along … and my best advice this week?  Just keep moving – you WILL get where you want to go.  Don’t quit and don’t give up.  You are worth it.

See you next week!

 

Small Business Week 2014 May 12 – 16 – Webinars

 

 

Smallbizweek2014

Next week, May 12 – 16, 2014, is National Small Business Week.  Watch this space for news and updates and watch our Twitter feed @DePereChamber to be part of the Twitter Storm each day during the week.  If you want to get caught up in the storm, use the hashtag #SBW2014

Throughout the week, you can also participate in our webinars and online events, including “Making It Big: Small Biz Success in a Mobile World” with Conduit Mobile on Wednesday, May 14 at 9am ET. Join to learn how you can better take advantage of the technology already at your fingertips to transform your mobile and digital experience and grow your small business’ bottom line.

And that’s just one of the great events you can anticipate! Check out other webinars happening throughout the week:

Monday, May 12

  • Growing Your Business with Direct Mail | 6-7pm ET | with the United States Postal Service
    Learn about the value direct mail offers as part of an overall marketing strategy. Gain insight on how mail can be used to acquire new customers, and establish relationships that keep them coming back.
    > Register now

Tuesday, May 13

  • Small Business: Big Benefits | 4-5pm ET | with Colonial Life
    Choosing between offering a robust benefits package or cutting back on total offerings is a challenge for many small businesses. Learn about “voluntary benefits” that can allow you to strengthen your existing benefits packages at little or no additional cost.
    >
    Register now

Wednesday, May 14

This is a big week for small businesses – keep checking back for more information to build your business and your future!

SBA Loan Fee Reductions Help Small Business Owners Nationwide

Happy Tuesday!

In this week’s SBA e-news I found this article.  I’m all about saving money and helping businesses be successful, so I hope you will both find this of interest as well as helpful.

In order for small businesses to remain viable in a recovering economy, access to capital must remain an SBA priority.  At the same time, applying for and getting a commercial loan involves certain costs that may make borrowers think twice before making that commitment.

Often times, small businesses that need loans with smaller dollar amounts –$350,000 and under- are usually either just starting or in their early stages. Attention to the bottom line is paramount at this critical time, and a lack of adequate financial resources may become an obstacle to growth.

Mindful of this situation and consistent with our mission to help small businesses start, grow and succeed, SBA recently introduced two initiatives aimed at eliminating certain borrower fees, thus making it cheaper and easier for small businesses to obtain much needed financing.

One of the initiatives, launched at the end of fiscal year 2013, set borrower fees to zero (0) on all 7(a) loans $150,000 and under originated on or after Oct. 1, 2013. This initiative is among SBA’s latest efforts to make sure we’re reaching more business owners and entrepreneurs to help them to tackle the next challenge in their businesses.

The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA’s primary program to help start-up and existing small businesses obtain financing when they may not be eligible for conventional business loans .  In just three months after its implementation, fee elimination on loans $150,000 and under have saved small businesses nationwide more than $5 million. A small business obtaining a $150,000 loan now saves more than $2,500 in fees, which can be used for other business expenses.

The SBA has begun a similar effort to help small business owners who are veterans. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, SBA launched the SBA Veterans Advantage initiative, which has zero borrower fees on all loans $350,000 and under made through this program.  This program is expected to yield significant savings for veterans looking to start or grow a business.  Of all SBA loans made to veterans during the last 5 years, 73 percent were below $350,000.

In the first 10 days (Jan 1 – Jan 10) this initiative saved veterans business owners almost $179,000.

While it is still too early to gauge the impact these initiatives will have on the success of small businesses, the initial numbers seem to indicate that savings will be significant.

These two initiatives are in place through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2014.

For more information about SBA loan programs and services or to find an SBA lender, visit www.sba.gov, or the SBA District Office nearest you.

Making the Most of Your Local Chamber of Commerce

I was just out doing some research for topics for upcoming presentations and I found this article.  I know, I know it may seem self-serving but I found it really interesting … read on ….

JoAnne Berg is a trusted business advisor with over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, CFO/COO, and CPA/advisor to closely held businesses. Read her blogs at The Art of Small Business. Her newest venture is Peer Coaching Network, Inc., which provides affordable training and peer based group coaching to small business owners. Follow her on Twitter @JoAnneBerg and Facebook.

Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? If so, are you getting your money’s worth? If not, what are you missing out on?

Chambers exist to serve their members and help them to be more successful. They are supported by membership dues, which are usually based on the size of your business. Your dues are tax deductible as a business expense.

Most businesses benefit in some way from membership, and small businesses often benefit dramatically from the power of joining together with their peers in this way. Here are some of the things that local Chambers do for the business community, along with a few suggestions for getting the most from your membership.

Government Relations

Chambers represent the viewpoints of their members in front of governments and advocate for their business interests when necessary. Your dues support the efforts that the Chamber makes on your behalf to make your community a better place to do business. This alone is a reason to become a member! If you’re interested in getting more involved, most chambers have a Governmental Affairs committee that members can join.

Be sure to attend Chamber forums and events featuring political candidates and elected officials. You’ll often have an opportunity to meet them, ask questions, and perhaps even give them your opinion about important decisions that impact your business.

Networking

For many of us, it’s important to be visible. Chambers sponsor social events and networking groups that are designed for members to meet and do business together. If your business depends on local-business generation, this is an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Even if your customer base is not local, the connections you make can be an invaluable source of local goods and services for your business needs.

Also, check out your Chamber’s Ambassador Committee if you’d like to have a built-in opportunity to welcome and meet new members.

Advertising

When you’re a member, you’ll be listed in the Chamber directory, but your opportunities for promoting your business don’t stop there. Chambers have websites, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and more. They sell advertising in most of these, and you have to be a member to advertise. The costs are generally modest, and if your target market includes other Chamber members, the ROI can be fantastic.

Education

Many Chambers really shine in this department. Training yourself and your staff can be expensive, but it’s important to keep up with new developments and continue improving everyone’s business skills. Chambers offer classes, workshops, and seminars, taught by member professionals, at a low cost to members. These professionals go out of their way to do a great job since their community reputation is at stake. Recent topics I’ve seen include social media training, patents and trademarks, OSHA regulations, sexual harassment training, human resource issues, tax law changes, etc.

Referrals

Businesses and residents that are new to a community frequently call the local Chamber of Commerce for referrals for the goods and services they need. Guess what? If you’re not a member, Chamber staff can’t refer you. Take the time to get to know the staff of your local Chamber, and make sure that they have the information they need to send business your way.

Committee Membership

Volunteering to serve on a Chamber committee that fits your interests or expertise creates leadership opportunities, helps you become better known in the community, and can help position you as an expert in your field. For example, I served for many years on my local Chamber’s Business Resource committee, which was a great source for business leads and ultimately led to a seat on the Chamber Board of Directors. In addition to the Governmental Affairs, Ambassador, and Business Committees, many Chambers have Education Committees, and if you’re interested in green business techniques, many Chambers are now forming Green or Sustainability Committees.

Every Chamber is different, and there may be other opportunities in yours that I haven’t mentioned here. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to find out more, and if you are a member, take another look at what your Chamber offers. You may be pleasantly surprised!

 

 

Time passing …

Oddly, the song that played in my head as I type the post title was Styx’ “Too Much Time on My Hands” and that does not fit at all!  Too much time though has passed since I last posted here.  Our other social media and day-to-day work has just taken all that time.  *

I don’t know about you, but on/near my birthday I have a tendency to reflect.  Not in a morbid or morose way, just in a “hmmm, where am I, where am I going, what are my current goals/dreams and where I am in meeting those I’ve held previously” way.  Tomorrow is my birthday and though I’m not anywhere close to social security age, but the information below from Hawkins, Ash CPAs caught my eye and actually made me chuckle due to the timing.

Deciding When to Start Receiving Social Security Benefits 
As you approach retirement age, you must decide whether to begin taking reduced social security benefits early or wait until full benefit retirement age (FBRA), or even later. In many cases, this decision will depend on factors other than trying to receive the greatest lifetime benefit from social security. Remember that while you have the option of receiving social security benefits as early as age 62, the eligibility age for Medicare remains at 65. So, although you may be able to replace a sufficient amount of your earned income with social security benefits beginning at age 62, you may not be able to adequately replace your employer-provided health insurance.

Even if you have sufficient funds to live on without considering social security, many people prefer to begin receiving benefits as soon as possible. For 2013, the benefits at age 62 are reduced by 25% of what they would be at age 66 (i.e., the FBRA); but, you will receive more social security checks if benefits are drawn early. In addition, drawing early social security benefits may allow you to leave tax-deferred retirement accounts untouched and growing for longer periods.

Another reason to receive benefits early is if you have children living at home. Children under age 18 (or up to 19 if a full-time student) may be eligible for benefits if you are also receiving social security benefits.

Furthermore, if you wait until the FBRA to draw benefits, it will take several years to reach the break-even point to make up for the years of payments that were not received.

Example: Receiving social security benefits at age 62 versus the FBRA.

Curt is single and plans to begin receiving social security benefits on his 62nd birthday in 2013 when his benefit, based on his earnings history, is $1,000. He will receive monthly social security retirement benefits of $750, or 75% of his benefit. Therefore, he will receive 48 benefit checks of $750 each (not considering annual inflation adjustments), a total of $36,000, by the time he reaches age 66 (his FBRA).

Curt’s benefit would have been $1,000 if he had waited until age 66 to begin receiving benefits. Therefore, it would take him 12 years (starting at age 66) before the additional $250 per month ($1,000 − $750) benefit caught up to the $36,000 he would have received between ages 62 and 66.

When the present value of future social security benefits is considered, it could be more favorable to start the benefits as soon as possible (if the money is going to be invested). However, if you are simply using early social security benefits to replace a similar amount of earned income, the short-term financial position will not be improved and the long-term outlook could suffer.

Another factor to consider in taking retirement benefits early is the increased tax cost. With a smaller social security retirement benefit, you may need to work or draw on other resources to meet expenses. If the additional taxable income you generate exceeds certain thresholds, 50% to 85% of your social security benefits will be taxable.

You might carefully consider the long-lasting advantages of waiting until FBRA based on the following factors.

Life Expectancy: Your life expectancy may be the biggest factor in deciding whether to receive benefits early. By age 62, you should have a good handle on your own life expectancy based on your current health and the longevity of your parents. In general, 77 years might be a good cutoff point. If you reasonably expect to reach that age, waiting until FBRA may be a wise choice.

Shortening the Retirement Period: A significant factor in retirement planning projections is the length of the retirement period. For example, if you want to retire at age 62 and you have a life expectancy of 85, you have a 23-year retirement period to fund. By working past age 62, you are shortening the retirement period and lowering the amount of money needed to fund your retirement regardless of longevity.

The Earnings Test: If you are considering receiving retirement benefits before your FBRA but you intend to keep working, you must consider the earnings test. For 2013, social security benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 in earnings above the exempt amount of $15,120.

Replacing Lower-wage Years: Your social security benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of indexed earnings. If you can replace lower-wage years early in your career with higher-wage years after age 62, the benefit can be increased. This can lead to a greater benefit when you retire.

Inflation Adjustments: Social security benefits receive an annual inflation adjustment. By taking early benefits, your starting base for these annual adjustments is smaller. For example, if your benefit was $1,000, but you retired early and received only $750, each year you would miss out on the compounded inflation adjustment of that $250 in lost benefits. In other words, the gap between the early retirement benefit you receive and the amount you would have received by waiting will get bigger and bigger.

The Effect on Your Spouse: Your decision to start receiving social security benefits before reaching FBRA may also affect your spouse’s benefits. If your spouse does not have a personal earnings record, he or she will only receive half of your retirement benefit.

After FBRA: If you delay receiving benefits until after your FBRA, you will receive larger benefits because of the delayed retirement credit. You may receive a credit of up to 8% per year for each year you delay receiving benefits until age 70.

If you are able to wait, the delayed retirement credit can have a significant impact. In addition to the higher retirement benefit you will receive, you will also shorten your retirement period and increase your spouse’s survivor’s benefit.

 

 

 

Affordable Care Act from De Pere at Dawn!

Good Friday afternoon everyone!   Hope this week has treated you well.

Today I bring you my promised post from last week’s De Pere at Dawn.  Getting the video parsed down and uploaded was a process.  *long process*.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the full segment from Daren Allen, the final presenter because there was a video failure.  We had part of it, but decided not to post only that segment since it was jarring.

I will post this with each presenter’s identifying information and a link to their PowerPoint presentation as well as the video link at YouTube (except for Daren).  In a future post, I will link to an upcoming edition of Wisconsin Eye featuring a town hall with J.P. Wieski that will have the most current information.

Summary statement?  Wow was it a great great panel.  “Best ever” in the words of one of our guests.  With no further ado:

Introduction section  (Cheryl Detrick, President/CEO De Pere Area Chamber)

Overview from the State perspective (J.P. Wieski,  Legislative Liaison/Public Information Officer from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, State of Wisconsin)

Overview from business organization perspective (Lori Compas, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance)

More details, yet still overview from insurer in Health Insurance Marketplace (David Grunke, Manager Strategic Accounts, WPS Health Insurance/Arise Health Plan)

And, MORE details, overview from insurer, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative (Daren Allen, Vice President of Sales & Business Development for the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative)

Long story short … on October 1st, go look. It will cost you nothing but a bit of time, may save you money and will satisfy your curiousity!

 

October 1st is Just 3 weeks away!

October 1st in 3 weeks away.

If you are furrowing your brow and wondering why you should care … well, if you provide, have or need health insurance, it is an important date.

First of all, the “exchanges” will be open for enrollment and we will have the rate information. For individuals, families, business owners and employers of all sizes shopping “apples to apples” (should) be available.  If you want more information, *lots* more information, we still have some room at tomorrow’s De Pere At Dawn event.  This panel is going to be epic. Our panels always are, but wow. The brain power & knowledge of J.P. Wieski (OCI, Wisconsin), Lori Compas (Wisconsin Business Alliance, David Grunke (WPS Health Insurance/Arise Health Plan) and Daren Allen (Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative) will be more than worth the 90 minutes.  LINK HERE

Second, since the Health Insurance Marketplace (a.k.a. “the exchanges”) will begin offering health insurance on January 1st, on October 1st employers must give notice to their employees about coverage options available through the marketplace with a separate notice sent to dependents and others on their health insurance.

  • The notice must information employees of the existence of the Marketplace in each state, what the services are to be provided by the Marketplace and how to contact the Marketplace
  • The employer must also provided information on their sponsored/provided health insurance, if any, and state the intent of the employer to meet the Employer Mandates requirements (if more than 50 FTE employees).
  • Also, the notice must explain that employees may lose the employer contributed amount toward health insurance (if that is what the employer chooses to do and if the employer does contribute toward health insurance).
  • Finally, the notice must inform the employee of the employee’s potential eligibility for a premium tax credit if the employee purchases insurance through the Marketplace.

There is some dispute as to whether this requirement is limited to only those employers with 500k or more in annual revenue.  To be safe?  I’d say send it out.  To be certain for *your* business?  Contact your broker, your tax guy and/or your lawyer.

111 Days 11 hours and change …

Until Christmas!

*gasp*

Yes, I said it. It is still Summer and I’m thinking Christmas. *shrug* I love the holidays, what can I say!

I was reading Hawkins, Ash CPAs current E-newsletter “Tax Update” and was reminded of Christmas.  (You are really scratching your head now, aren’t you?)  Gifts!  Which (for some folks) can lead to the gift tax.  The good people there shared:

Is My Gift Taxable?
Taxpayers are often confused about when a gift is taxable or nontaxable. We thought it would be a good time to review some basic information on the annual gift tax exclusion.

Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax. For example, there is usually no tax when you make a gift to your spouse or a charity. If you make a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the cumulative value of the gifts you give to that person during the year exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion. In 2013, the annual federal gift tax exclusion amount is $14,000. A federal gift tax return generally only has to be filed if you give someone (other than your spouse or a qualifying charity) money or property worth more than the exclusion amount.

If federal gift tax is due, it typically will be paid by the person making the gift. The person receiving the gift does not pay federal gift tax or federal income tax on the value of the gift received. However, other than gifts that are deductible charitable contributions, the person making the gift will not be able to deduct the value of the gift on his or her federal tax return.

Thus far, we have indicated that gifts (a) for less than the annual exclusion during the calendar year, (b) made to your spouse, or (c) made to a qualifying charity, generally are not subject to the federal gift tax. In addition to these provisions, tuition or medical expenses you pay directly to an educational or medical institution for someone else are not subject to federal gift tax, either. However, you cannot first give the money to an individual for the purpose of paying the end recipient. To avoid federal gift tax liability, the money must be paid directly to the institution.

So, if you are thinking of your gifting and are wanting to make plans, there you go!

OH!  Speaking of Hawkins Ash CPAs – on September 20th we will be losing our “back fence” neighbor as they move to their new (very nice) digs at 2360 Dousman Street in Green Bay.  (Right next to the intersection of Highways 41 and 29).  They have been growing so much they have outgrown their space.  Most recently they merged with Rochester, MN based firm Wolter-Raak and on September 1st, Anderson Tackman will officially merge in.  Who says business isn’t good?!  Congratulations and best of luck in the new home.

We will be celebrating with them for their Grand Opening at our special De Pere at Dusk on October 29th.