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Concentration Station: How to Create a Home Office

Posted on September 05, 2017 by Suzanne Carroll

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 25 percent of all employed Americans work from home at least some of the time. This is hardly surprising given increasingly longer commutes and the growth of the gig economy. If you’re part of this trend of telecommuters, you probably already know that working from home has its upsides and downsides. The key to staying on task while surrounded by the distractions of home is to create a home office where you can be your most productive. Let’s go through the steps.

Step 1: Establish Your Work Station

If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room for a home office, Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Home Improvement
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The Baby Bomb: Bracing for the Impact of First-Time Parenthood

Posted on April 06, 2017 by James Florence

Three months ago, my wife and I welcomed the newest addition to our family: a baby boy, our third child. Four years after our last visit to the delivery room, the event reawakened the sense of joy and wonderment we experienced when our first two children entered the world. Likewise, the first few days of bonding with our son brought back memories of our early days as parents. By our third time around, we’ve become fairly seasoned—the interrupted sleep and constant diaper changing are practically second nature. But that first time…not exactly a walk in the park. As you’ve no doubt heard, nothing can prepare you for your initial foray into parenthood. Read more

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Happy Returns: 5 Tips for Filing Your Taxes

Posted on February 21, 2017 by James Florence

With the holidays behind us, it’s time to get ready for the next seasonal milestone: tax season. While few would consider it “the most wonderful time of the year” (save for those expecting a substantial return), it doesn’t change the fact that tax season is something we all have to partake in. Anyone who has gone through the process knows that filing taxes can be difficult and frustrating, which is why it helps to know a few basics out of the gate. Whether you’re filing your taxes independently or having a professional handle it for you, check out these tips from industry experts on maximizing your return:

1. Get organized. One of the biggest challenges of filing a tax return is gathering all the necessary paperwork to report income, Read more

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Preparing for Next Year’s Taxes

Posted on January 18, 2017 by Suzanne Carroll

While the beautiful days of winter may be a tax season perk, the real prize comes once you’ve successfully prepared and submitted your tax return. If you’re going to receive a refund this year, congratulations! Now, let’s think about not only how to spend it, but how to spend it to maximize your refund next year. And if you’re not going to receive a refund this year, you may want to consider making some deductible expenditures.
Here are a few ideas:

  • Do you own a rental property? Any maintenance you spend on that property can be deducted. Is it time to re-paint or install new floors? Does it need a new water heater or a retaining wall?
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Start Fresh: A New Year’s Checklist

Posted on January 03, 2017 by James Florence

It’s no wonder the custom of adopting annual resolutions coincides with the year’s beginning rather than its middle or end. A new year means a fresh start—a milestone that signals an opportunity for positive change. Like a blank canvas to a painter, the New Year invites us to entertain new possibilities, inspires us to innovate upon the past and fills us with “momentum of purpose.”

While this sense of positive propulsion is often directed toward personal development, it can also be useful for accomplishing tangible goals, which is why the New Year is an ideal time to review and renew your to-do list. Whether you need to catch up on overdue maintenance, have a project you’ve been putting off or simply want to start off on the right foot, Read more

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Money Matters: Financial Advice for Engaged and Newly Married Couples

Posted on October 13, 2015 by Chris Bjorklund

I decided to write about this topic after talking to my recently married son and his new wife about some aspects of getting their finances in order that they hadn’t thought about. After a wedding, it’s easy to get distracted writing thank-you notes instead of doing important paperwork and planning related to your new legal status as a married couple.

The first thing that may come to mind is taxes. According to Geoffrey Kulik, a partner at Sterck Kulik O’Neill Accounting Group, Inc., a Diamond Certified firm, newlyweds have to file their taxes for the entire year as either “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” “Because of the way the laws are written, Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Savvy Tips
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Residential Solar Power: The Basics

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Matt Solis

With California experiencing one of the worst droughts in recorded history, it’s a great time to explore converting to solar. Not only can solar power help put the brakes on climate change, it’s also one of the least “thirsty” methods of generating electricity. According to Diamond Certified solar company Sungevity, coal-fired power plants require 100 to 1,000 gallons of water to generate one megawatt-hour of electricity. Solar, by comparison, requires zero gallons of water to produce the same amount of electricity (more details). With this in mind, we’re re-posting this timely article on how to get started with a  residential solar power system.

People have many reasons for switching to solar power, Read more

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