Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘Finance’

Will your student loans be forgiven??? That is the Question!!!!

If you’ve got a diploma hanging on your wall, chances are it didn’t come cheap. About two-thirds of the 3 million or so college seniors who donned a cap and gown this year took on an average debt of $22,500 for the privilege of earning that diploma. The debt graduate and professional students incur is often tens of thousands more.

As graduates struggle to find jobs during the worst economic crisis of their lifetime, an adviser to the secretary of education expects a rise in the default rate on student loans, which cannot be easily renegotiated or discharged in bankruptcy.

But a provision of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 that reduces monthly payments for hundreds of thousands of borrowers who qualify for the new Income-Based Repayment plan took effect July 1.

Borrowers who work in certain public service jobs could also have the balance of their loan erased after making qualifying payments for 10 years. (Supposedly, this costs the government nothing, since it will now change the way it subsidizes student-loan lenders.)

So, will your student loan be bailed out? In a word: maybe.

At the very least, the IBR program will lower the monthly payments of people who accumulated significant federal student loan debt but don’t have the income to make the payments on the standard 10-year repayment plan. This relief may reach as many as 1 million people, according to the Project on Student Debt. And despite lower payments, the former students won’t be paying off their loans indefinitely — any remaining balance will be forgiven after payments are made for 25 years.

Basing loan payments on income isn’t a new concept. For years, graduates with federal student loans had options to reduce or eliminate their payments, depending on how much money they made. But IBR is intended to be more generous.

IBR caps monthly payments at 15% of earnings above 150% of the poverty line, or $10,830 for a single-person household. Online calculators at the free public service site FinAid.org can help you compare what your income-based payments, income-contingent payments and income-sensitive payments would be.

There are situations in which an IBR payment would be zero. If your payment is so low it doesn’t cover the interest accruing on your loan, the government will pay the interest for three years on subsidized Stafford loans, which are government-backed loans given to financially needy students that do not accrue interest while the borrower is in school.

After that period, and for all of the other kinds of unsubsidized federal loans, unpaid interest will accrue but will not compound. In other words, you won’t be charged interest on top of interest.

Borrowers who think they could benefit from IBR should contact their lender and ask for an application that will authorize the release of their adjusted gross income from the Internal Revenue Service each year.

The news is even more promising for people working in public service jobs: government employees, teachers in public schools and universities, workers at public hospitals and anyone working for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit would qualify. Anyone working in a qualifying job who borrowed from the Direct Loan Program is eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years, down from 25.

To qualify for forgiveness, borrowers who work in a public-interest position must either have an existing Direct Loan or consolidate a federal loan with a private lender into the Direct Loan Program and make 120 payments after Oct. 1, 2007. The payments do not have to be consecutive, can be made while at different eligible positions and must be made on the income-based or standard repayment plans. (See “Ask for student loan forgiveness.”)

At this point, the burden is on borrowers to document where they were working during their repayment period. The Department of Education is planning to develop a more definitive system to confirm eligibility, but right now borrowers should keep pay stubs and tax documents that verify their work history.

IBR and public-loan forgiveness won’t be the best options for every borrower. Some borrowers — those able to make higher monthly payments — would be better served by sticking with a traditional payment plan to avoid accruing years of additional interest. Graduates who financed their education with private loans are ineligible entirely.

But for an MBA grad who borrowed $150,000 planning to be an investment banker but ended up in government service, IBR will result in payments that are affordable on a civil servant salary.

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Good Information, email the author for questions.

Personal BrandingBusiness sucks.
Layoffs abound.
Job stability is wavering.

Will you panic or prosper?

If you want to accomplish the latter, remember this three-word philosophy: Anonymity is bankruptcy.

That’s why we’re going to explore three tactics for elevating your visibility:

  1. Exert your distinctiveness.
  2. Prepare to be vulnerable.
  3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

When executed consistently, these practices will capture the attention of potential employers, thus contributing to a greater awareness of the value you bring to the company.

1. Exert your distinctiveness.

As an executive, the net worth of your human capital is a function of your expertise. So, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What are you known for knowing?
  • Who is already attracted to you and sees you as a resource?
  • What have you done, specifically – in the last 24 hours – to amplify that expertise within your company?

Once you’ve identified and evaluated your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets, the next challenge is to assert that distinctiveness in every possible personal-branding touchpoint: questions you ask, answers you give, e-mails you write, meetings you attend and conversations you hold.

The cool part is, asserting your distinctiveness elevates your visibility. Elevating your visibility attracts more responsibility. More responsibly increases the net worth of your human capital. And an increased net worth of human capital compels potential employers and solidifies your job security.

Remember: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a different. You want people to start asking where you are when you’re not around. You want to become so invaluable that you become noticeable in your absence. Executives like that get hired and rarely get laid off. What are you known for? What are you known as? And what hard-to-copy capabilities do you possess that position you distinctively, effectively and continuously?

2. Prepare to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength. Even President Obama – during his first month in office – recently owned up to the media for his poor appointee choice.

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama told NBC News. “I’m frustrated with myself, with our team. … I’m here on television saying I screwed up.”

Look, we’re all a bit nervous. And we’re all a bit vulnerable. The danger is when we’re not willing to disclose that vulnerability by practicing radical honesty. So here is my suggestion: Dare to be dumb.

In my workshops and seminars, I challenge people to increase their usage of the phrase “I don’t know.” It cuts down on the pressure to know everything. Plus, pretending like you do know when you don’t cracks your foundation, your integrity.

It’s a falsehood in your personality, and during interviews employers can smell it. Being vulnerable, however, means being secure enough to be who you are, even if who you are is wrong. What’s more, in a sea of gargantuan professional egos, your vulnerability will stand out as a refreshing change. Are you willing to admit your ignorance? Are you someone others can feel dumb in front of?

Remember: When you maintain this attitude of approachability, your employees and your potential employers will respond to (and have more respect for) you. How are you branding your honesty? Are you willing to take the lead with your integrity and become someone others can be vulnerable in front of?

3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

Yes, human capital is a function of knowledge. At the same time, there’s a fine line between being smart, and being a smarty-pants.

Here’s the difference: Smart people attract others; smarty-pants people alienate others. Smart people are trusted with greater responsibility; smarty-pants people are avoided.

Next time you attend a department meeting, consider this three-step, unforgettable strategy:

  • Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.
  • Come out of nowhere. When the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” you raise your hand and say: “I had an observation …” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.
  • Articulate your idea. This is the best part. See, if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What’s more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of our mistake-friendly president, “Power grows through prudent use.”

Remember: Let go of the need to prove how smart you are by always adding some super-intelligent comment or asking some super-tricky question. You can still be smart – and be perceived as being smart – without looking like a know-it-all jerk. Are you sharing your knowledge or showcasing it? Are trying to elevate your visibility or be the center of attention?

Look, times are tough – tougher than they’ve been in a long time. But you’re tougher. And I’m confident you’re going to make it out alive!

Challenge: Pick a few of the strategies from this list that work best for you. Customize your visibility plan according to your unique skills and passions. And remember those three crucial words … Anonymity is bankruptcy.

Let me ask ya this: How are you elevating your visibility?

Let me suggest this: For the list called, “30 Ways to become the Most Interesting Person You Know,” send an e-mail to me, and I’ll send you the complimentary list!

Scott Ginsberg, a k a, “The Nametag Guy” is the author of eight books and an international professional speaker. He’s been recognized by The Wall Street Journal and 20/20 as “The Authority on Approachability.” And, as the producer of NametagTV, he teaches professionals how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business. To rent his brain, email scott@hellomynameis scott.com.
 

Resumes!

A job title can make or break a good first impression. You certainly don’t want to lie about your job history, but you do want to be descriptive. For example, “Accounting” is too vague, while “Management of A/R and A/P and Recordkeeping” carries both far more information and way more impact. How do you make sure the job title you use on your resume will be accurate and impactful?

We’re not talking about changing the title or position you held in a previous job, said Marsh Sutherland, president of Walden Recruiting. There’s no way he’d tinker with a client’s actual title, he said. Doing so “could be considered misrepresentation” on both his part and that of his client — far too steep a price to pay in return for more impressive-sounding titles. We’re talking about the title of your resume, what you call yourself and how you define what you do.

Top of the resume

The job seeker’s title sits at the top of the resume above her Summary section, right below her name and contact information. Sutherland said he usually advises his clients to take cues from the job they’ve applied for. “I will often put the title of the job (on the top) so at first glance it appears the candidate is a perfect fit,” Sutherland says. “For instance, I am currently sourcing candidates for a Search Engine Optimization Analyst position. Guess what? I put ‛SEO Analyst Professional’ at the top of my resume submissions.”

Typical title mistakes

One common mistake seen by Beth Colley, principal of Chesapeake Resume Writing, is not including a title anywhere on the resume.

Another mistake she often sees is when job seekers include the old-fashioned “Objective” section, a section that nowadays is considered irrelevant and whose inclusion marks the resume subject as being out of touch with the current professional resume format. It might have been acceptable in years past to start a resume with an objective about how a job seeker is “seeking a position where I can utilize my gifts and talents in marketing and advance to a level of increasing responsibility,” but nowadays an objective at the top of the page simply means a job seeker is thinking of himself, not how he can help his potential employer.

Colley also sees unacceptably vague titles such as one resume that said “Public Advocate.” That job seeker’s profile included her “ability to direct complex projects from concept to fully operational status,” and it mentioned personality details such as being “highly organized” and a “detailed problem solver” who was “self-directed” and “creative.”

Just what type of public advocate, for what industry, was “not clear,” Colley says, “I totally didn’t understand what she was looking for.”

How to craft a title that’s broad, specific and narrowly targeted

Colley advises job seekers to use a “fairly broad title” that still targets the right industry but to then pair it with something they possess that’s in high demand in their industry.

Colley sets this type of title up in the format of “Broad title”—“Specific industry,” “Specialized skills or certifications.” For example, rather than using a broad title such as Project Manager, which could “literally be anything from construction to IT,” she advises her clients to use a slightly more targeted title heading. Some examples:

  • Project Manager – IT Industry, DOD contractor with active Top Secret Clearance
  • Project Manager – Civil Engineering, LEED & GBE Certified

Here are some other examples Colley cited that expand on less-informative titles such as CFO or Customer Service Representative:

  • Chief Financial Officer – CPA, MBA with Controller and Financial Analyst Expertise
  • Customer Service Representative – Inbound Call Center, 8 years of experience

“The whole point of resume development is to target the resume to a particular field or industry,” Colley said. “Job titles vary from one company to the next, so you want to pick a title that is recognizable to most employers and recruiters. By highlighting a marketable aspect about yourself or industry, the recruiter/employer will read for further information to see if you ‛fit the bill.’ Remember, if they read your resume for more than 15-20 seconds and you get a phone call, the resume has effectively done its job.”

Tax Season 2010

Ok as you all know I’ve started my own Tax Company, SAP Taxes.  I’ve been doing taxes now for 12 years.  It has ALWAYS been my dream to have my own tax company.  And now the Lord has allowed that to happen for me.  Within my company I will be able to do all tax returns to include business and state returns.  I will also be able to offer bank products just in case you don’t have the money up front to pay me.  The bank products that I will offer will be the Refund Anticipation Loan also known as the RAL and the Refund Anticipation Check also known as the RAC.  The difference in the two products is that the RAL is processed and you should get your money with 48 hours.  The RAC is the product that takes two weeks.  Both of these products can be directly deposited into your checking and/or savings account.  Both of these products are also loans.  Understand that when you get your money back in two days the bank is lending you your refund until the IRS processes your return.   It normally takes two weeks for the IRS to process your return thus the reason for the RAL.  Now what the bank does is scan your name and social security number against this database and if you don’t have any outstanding debt then they will process your RAL.  If they see a debt out there then they will deny your RAL and automatically turn your RAL into a RAC.  The RAC takes two weeks which is the same amount of time that the IRS takes to process your money.  So when the IRS releases your money to the bank they the bank will then release your money to you.

So you say why pay the extra cost for the RAC when it takes the same amount of time as the IRS?  The answer to that question is that some people don’t have the money to cover the cost of the electronic filing so they opt to have all the fees taken out of their return.

Tax season can be a very stressful time of the year for some because they don’t fully understand what they are doing.  And that is why SAP Taxes is in place.  I will be your tax expert if you allow me.  I have the experience.  I’ve worked for H&R Block for 5 years,  I’ve worked for Liberty Taxes for 5 years, and I worked for an independent tax company for the pass two years.  I’ve seen just about every tax situation that can exist.  I’ve worked with clients that have been audited.  I’ve helped people reduced their taxable income, and I’ve shown people how to maximize their returns.  Whatever the case maybe I’m sure that SAP Taxes can help you with your situation.

And keep your eyes and ears open.  SAP Taxes will also be around throughout the whole tax year to help you with your book keeping and your payroll issues as well.  Upon completion of my CPA I will be a full service accounting shop for many.  With all of this in mind please make sure that you get with me with any questions or concerns.  I look forward to working with each and every one of you.

You can reach me via cellular at 972.569.7938 or via email saprpm@yahoo.com.

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