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2 days ago
Valentine's Day - Did you know?
Saints, dogs and cash all play a role
Cupid, candy hearts, flowers and chocolates are common items associated with Valentine’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans now spend more than $20 billion lavishing gifts on their kids, friends and significant others.
Who decided a day in the middle of February is a time to celebrate love and spend a bunch of money on gifts? The actual story of how Valentine’s Day (and its symbols) got its wings, and how much Americans spend on gifts for Valentine's Day, might surprise you.
-It’s named after a Catholic saint. (We think.)
There are stories of three different Catholic saints named Valentine who were involved in various romantic shenanigans. The tales involve conducting outlawed marriages, a secret relationship with a jailor’s daughter and a love letter ending in “from your Valentine.” Unfortunately, all three saints met a similar fate by being put to death by Caesar. How romantic! While it’s pretty clear Valentine's Day derives from one of these three saints, we just don’t know which one for sure.
-It may have started as a Pagan celebration.
Ancient Pagan festivals were often very unusual, and this one is no exception. Historians believe it involved goat and dog sacrifices, using their blood-stained animal hides, and having a drawing for a companion for the next year. It’s safe to say that everyone, especially your dog, is relieved this tradition fizzled out at some point.
-Its primary color, red, has scientific backing.
Giving flowers, especially red roses, has been a popular romantic gesture all the way back to the Saint Valentine era. Why red? It represents passion and desire. According to a study by the University of Rochester, science ties color to behavior. The study demonstrates that men find women wearing red attire more attractive.
-Americans spend an average of $162 on gifts.
While the percentage of Americans who celebrate Valentine's Day has declined over the past decade (63% of Americans celebrated the holiday in 2009 compared to 51% in 2019), those who do celebrate Valentine's Day spent an average of $162 on gifts in 2019 compared to $103 in 2009.
Knowing the history of Valentine’s Day and how the U.S. spends money on gifts for the special day certainly adds some intrigue to the holiday, but recreating the actual events is probably not a great idea. Instead, give your loved ones a hug, a simple treat and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ... See MoreSee Less
5 days ago
How to Take Advantage of the New Retirement Rules
The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, also known as the SECURE Act, was passed by Congress in late December 2019. Here are some of the features in the new legislation that will help you save more for retirement:
-Money can continue to grow tax deferred
If you turn 70½ in 2020 or later, you can keep money in a tax-deferred IRA or 401(k) for another 18 months to help the account continue growing before starting to withdraw funds. This retirement benefit is now available thanks to the required minimum distribution age being raised from 70½ to 72.
Action: Review your retirement account distribution needs and use this extra time to help make distributions more tax efficient. For example, if you have $10,000 before you hit the next highest tax bracket, consider pulling more out of your retirement account. Or use the extra time to consider converting some funds to a Roth IRA.
-Contribute to a traditional IRA at any age
While taxpayers have always been able to contribute to a Roth IRA at any age, 70½ was the cut-off for making contributions to a traditional IRA. You can now contribute to a traditional IRA at any age provided you have earned income.
Action: This is a great opportunity for retirees working part time to consider building their retirement nest egg.
-Certain part-time workers can now contribute to 401(k) plans
Most part-time workers have never been eligible to participate in an employer’s 401(k) plan. The law now mandates employers which maintain a 401(k) plan to offer one to employees to worked more than 1,000 hours in one year, or 500 hours over 3 consecutive years.
Action: If interested in participating, contact your employer to determine if and when this option might be added to your company's retirement savings plan.
-Use retirement funds to offset the costs of a new birth or adoption
Each parent can withdraw $5,000 out of their retirement account without the 10% penalty. The distribution, however, must still be reported as taxable income. The distribution can be repaid as a rollover contribution to an eligible defined contribution plan or IRA.
Action: If considering this alternative, make sure the withdrawal is within one year of the birth or adoption. Also retain records to prove the withdrawal is for a qualified event as how this is going to be administered is still up in the air.
-Watch out for auto enrollment
The government thinks you should be saving more for retirement. So the new law allows a greater portion of your paycheck to be automatically transferred to an employer’s retirement plan. The maximum contribution that can now be automatically deferred into your employer’s 401(k) plan has increased from 10% to 15%.
Action: While saving more for retirement is a great idea, this automatic participation does not account for your particular situation. Be aware of this law and independently determine what you can afford to put towards retirement. Remember, you also need to build an emergency fund and pay your bills! ... See MoreSee Less
3 weeks ago
It's Time to Prioritize Inventory Management
Extraordinarily low interest rates and a rapidly evolving business climate has made inventory management a lost art. Other business initiatives may seem to be more urgent and impactful, but in reality, mastering inventory levels is a key to most successful and growing businesses.
Here are some reasons why prioritizing your inventory management is a must:
•Less shrink. Shrinkage represents cash that goes to waste because inventory is damaged or past sell date. It is a sign of a weakness in the inventory control process. Adding quality control practices that account for climate control and other factors can help avoid damaging valuable stock and catch defective purchases before they make it into your warehouse. Tightening up your inventory controls equals less stuff to throw away which means less money wasted.
Action: Create a shrink scorecard. Note all product that is non-saleable, and track units tossed, their dollar value, and who supplied it. Compare waste to prior year and against your goals.
•More cash. In a perfect world, you receive your inventory as soon as it is sold. Material or product that sits in the warehouse adds storage costs and risks turning into unsaleable product. Aligning your inventory operation with your sales cycle plays directly with improving your cash flow. Understanding sales trends will allow you to optimize your stock levels and save money in the process. When you spend less on unnecessary inventory costs you have more cash to invest into marketing, new product initiatives or capital equipment that can bolster your bottom line.
Action: Implement just in time (JIT) with key suppliers. Explore ways to deliver product when you need it versus purchasing a larger amount and then storing it.
•Improved forecasting. The old saying garbage in, garbage out applies perfectly when trying to forecast inventory demand. If you can’t trust your inventory process, it’s impossible to accurately predict future output. This leaves you flying blind when budgeting and preparing for future expenditures. With a firm grip on your inventory needs and procurement-to-sales cycle, your forecasting will become more accurate.
Action: Create a rolling 12-month forecast of sales. The forecast should provide details on major product lines. Translate this forecast into lead times for your inventory procurement.
•Better customer relations. Once you’ve optimized your operation, the quality of your customers' experience increases exponentially. You can cut prices without sacrificing margin, improve lead times, and add new product lines with your extra cash. While the effective inventory process you built is humming along, you can focus your attention on improving your products to better match the needs of your target market. This will help boost your sales!
Action: Set inventory targets to shorten lead times. Measure how many back orders you have and note how often products are returned as defective. If your inventory management is improving you should see positive results in both areas.
Inventory management will not take care of itself. Giving your inventory system the attention it deserves will pay major dividends both now and in the future. ... See MoreSee Less
Good write up 👍
2020 Retirement Plan Limits
As part of your 2020 planning, now is the time to review funding your retirement accounts. By establishing your contribution goals at the beginning of each year, the financial impact of saving for your future should be more manageable. Look to the photo to see annual contribution limits
If you have not already done so, please consider:
•Reviewing and adjusting your periodic contributions to
your retirement savings accounts to take full advantage of
the tax advantaged limits
•Setting up new accounts for a spouse or dependent(s)
•Using this time to review the status of your retirement plan
•Reviewing contributions to other tax-advantaged plans
including flexible spending accounts and health savings
accounts ... See MoreSee Less
Each month, we will give you tips and useful information to help you protect your finances, begin planning on ways to save for your future, or how to begin preparing your taxes. Our goal is to help you get the information you need for a financially savvy today and tomorrow. So sign up for our monthly client newsletter today to stay up-to-date with news from our office and to receive special offers from our team.Our Latest Newsletter