Returning to a ‘normal’ office structure

And nothing screams normal like the office. The messy desks, the long commute, the last-minute requests from your boss, even those boring meetings—they all may appear oddly comforting after a year spent at home.

But beware. The return to normal might start off exciting, but you may find that the novelty is wearing off before too long. You might rediscover certain things about the 9-to-5 life that drag you down.

If that’s where you find yourself, pay attention to your response to the ‘new norm’. It may mean that your work location isn’t the problem—it’s the job itself.

That’s because it doesn’t matter whether you work from home or in an office if your career is being stifled by your job. A toxic work dynamic or disadvantageous model will drain you even if you’re working from a beach in the tropics!

So if you go back to the office and nothing changes, it may be time to find a new opportunity, one that offers…

  • Unlimited potential for income growth
  • Flexibility of time and location
  • Control over your success

So as you go back to the office, keep your eyes open. If you’re still dissatisfied with your job, consider something else. Let’s explore opportunities for you to break the mold and pursue your own path.

M.Amos 2021

Train your brain for efficiency

Chances are you have cooked some pretty elaborate plans to trick yourself into being more productive.

Have you considered the role your surroundings play in your everyday life? It turns out that one of the easiest ways to bring about change in our lives is to actually change our environments. What if the layout of your bedroom or the distance from your desk to the kitchen was impacting your productivity and decision making? There is plenty of room for each of us to improve. Here is how and why making some changes to your environment works.

Your brain is efficient
Making decisions is draining. (Heard of “decision fatigue”? It’s real!) We can only make so many choices per day before we start to run out of steam and need a rest. But we are faced with countless choices every time we wake up! Should I go back to sleep? Should I shower or brush my teeth first? What will I wear to work? Should I try out that new shortcut to the office? It can become stressful for your brain to struggle with a choice every time one of these little prompts presents itself. That is why we rely on decision shortcuts called habits.

A habit is just a routine that you regularly perform. Most of the time we don’t even notice that we are engaging in a habit because it’s second nature to us. And there is a reason for that. It is your brain saving energy by going on autopilot to perform an action without having to make a decision. That way you can use the bulk of your mental power on unique and important problems that might pop up during the day, not on thinking about when you should brush your teeth!

Trick yourself into making wise decisions
What does your brain’s love of shortcuts have to do with your environment? Let us look at an example.

Your alarm clock is right next to your bed. It goes off every morning at 7:30am. It does not take you long to figure out that you can smack the snooze button and go straight back to sleep with hardly any effort. Before long you have hitting the snooze button every time the alarm goes off without even thinking about it. You have trained yourself to sleep in later by making your alarm easier to turn off. But what if your alarm was on the other side of your room? What if to silence it you had to stand up, walk over, and hit a button? That simple change could give you the jolt that you need to wake up and get your day started on time!

Take a look at your surroundings and ask yourself what kind of behavior it encourages. Is it more convenient for you to grab a soda from the fridge or fill up your water bottle? When you work at home, are you in the middle of distractions like the kids playing or too close to the TV? At work, does your office layout lend itself to productivity or socializing with your co-workers?

It might take some legwork to get started but try to arrange your life in a way that makes wise decisions easier. You might be surprised by the results!

Why did we start a Financial Services Firm?

Why we started our Financial Services firm?

Hi there, Reggie & Sindy Moon here. We are excited to tell our story.  The reason we wanted to tell our story right now is because so many people ask us “what do you do” or “why did you guys start selling life and health insurance” and then there is “why financial services” and we think they want a one sentence answer but there’s really not one.  We own a Real Estate Company, we’re Brokers, we’re Financial Wellness Coaches & Life Coaches, Motivational Speakers and we teach financial literacy to small business, families and even high school students the fundamentals of how money works.

Sindy was asking me to tell the story of what happened in my life when it was just me and my son around the time of the 2008 economic crash.  Well, I had a bill collector call me consistently for payment and one day I simply asked him a question.  “Do you know how many cans of soup you have in your cupboard?” I told him that the reason I was asking that question was that he was talking to a guy that has some late bills and can tell you exactly how many cans of soup I had in my cupboard.  “It’s TUESDAY and I have three cans of soup in my cupboard, and yet I don’t get paid until FRIDAY!” was my response to him. The point of that story is that’s where we were! A lot of middle America went through the same thing. You’ll hear things like their 401K turned into a 201K. Basically it’s what happened during the ‘lost decade’ and each family thought it was only happening to them at the time.  What it did to middle America still has not been fully recovered from.

Those same middle Americans are now trying to get out of the house because they are upside down in the equity and they can’t get their credit right and maybe can’t even get their income high enough to qualify for what they’re looking for now.  We all lived it and are now trying to recover.  Just remember, if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll always end up with the same results. At that point you’re not insulated against another economic downward spiral.

Does it take a millionaire to insulate themselves against a market shift, no! It takes someone that insulates themselves well enough to know that if there is a shift in the economy they are not going to be literally down to three cans of soup.  When we sell someone a house, what do we change?  We change their address!  When we show people how money works, coach them and show them the financial pain points and remind them it doesn’t have to last for a solid decade or even forever. It doesn’t have to be the middle-class-curse!

Contrasting that time in Reggie and Forest’s life is what we did this past Tuesday.   Which was that Reggie went to the mall and bought an entirely new Winter wardrobe with tailored suit and ties, the works.  Sindy was sitting at the home office working in pajamas while Reggie was out buying a new suit.  The only concern at this point was Atlanta traffic for Reggie and for Sindy, it was whether to have that second cup of coffee in her pajamas or not.

So, what we do is assist families and small businesses reach Financial Freedom!

Financial Freedom is not only owning a fancy car or private jet but it actually means that you can go get what you need and get it when you need it.  That is what we do.  That is why we do what we do and are thrilled to be in this business …. The MONEY business!

Are Annuities Taxable?

The answer is complicated (but generally, yes they are)

Let’s assume that you have already done your research on the workings of an Annuity and you are almost convinced that it is a good investment for you and your future plans.  Now, let’s consider if the taxability of this product is what you are looking for.

First, if you purchase an annuity with pre-tax dollars, payments from the annuity are fully taxable as income. But, if you buy an annuity with after-tax funds, you are required to pay taxes only on the earnings (ie, profit).  Annuities offer tax-deferred growth, which means taxes on annuities are not due until you withdraw money from the annuity.  One of the main tax advantages of annuities is they allow investments to grow tax-free until the funds are withdrawn.  This includes dividends, interest and capital gains, all of which may be fully reinvested while they remain in the annuity.  This allows your investment to grow without being reduced by tax payments.

But this seemingly simple perk is accompanied by a raft of complicated rules about what funds are taxed, how they are taxed and when they are taxed.

Because of the complexity, it is best to consult with a tax professional when purchasing an annuity and before withdrawing any funds.

Are Annuities Taxable?

Annuities are tax deferred.  But that does not mean they are a way to avoid taxes completely.  What this means is taxes are not due until you receive income payments from your annuity.  Withdrawals and lump sum distributions from an annuity are taxed as ordinary income.  They do not receive the benefit of being taxed as capital gains.

How are Annuities Taxed?

When it comes to taxes, the most important piece of information about your annuity is whether it is held in a qualified or non-qualified account. Remember, qualified is that the taxes are behind the tax wall and are allowed by IRS to be deferred.  Non-qualified means that the taxes have already been paid. In this case, the earnings (or profits) are taxable.

Qualified Annuity Taxation

If an annuity is funded with money on which no taxes have been previously paid, then it is considered a qualified annuity.  Typically, these annuities are funded with money from 401ks or other tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as IRAs.

When you receive payments from a qualified annuity, those payments are fully taxable as income.  That is because no taxes have been paid on that money.

But annuities purchased with a Roth IRA or Roth 401k are completely tax free if certain requirements are met.

Non-Qualified Annuity Taxation

If the annuity was purchased with after-tax funds, then it is non-qualifed.  Non-qualifed annuities require tax payments on only the earnings (or profits).

The amount of taxes on non-qualifed annuities is determined by something called the exclusion ratio.  The exclusion ratio is used to determine what percentage of annuity income payments is taxable and which is not.  The idea is to determine the amount of a withdrawal or payment from an annuity is from the already-taxed principal and how much is considered taxable earnings.

The exclusion ratio involves the principal that was used to purchase the annuity, the amount of time the annuity has existed and the interest earnings.

If an annuitant lives longer than his or her actuarial life expectancy, any annuity payments received after that age are fully taxable.

That is because the exclusion ratio is calculated to spread principal withdrawals over the annuitant’s life expectancy.  Once all the principal has been accounted for, any remaining income payments or withdrawals are considered to be from earnings.

Exclusion Ratio Example

  • Your life expectancy is 10 years at retirement.
  • You have an annuity purchased for $40,000 with after-tax money.
  • Annual payments of $4,000 – 10 percent of your original investment – is non-taxable.
  • You live longer than 10 years.
  • The money you receive beyond that 10-year-life expectation will be taxed as income.

Annuity Withdrawal Taxation

How and when you withdraw funds from your annuity also affects your tax bill.

In general, if you take money out of your annuity before your turn 59 ½, you may owe a 10 percent penalty on the taxable portion of the withdrawal.

After that age, if you take your withdrawal as a lump sum, you have to pay income taxes that year on the entire taxable portion of the funds.  If money is left in your annuity account, the IRS considers the first and subsequent withdrawals to be interest and subject to taxes.

Annuity Payout Taxation

According to the General Rule for Pensions and Annuities by the Internal Revenue Service as a general rule each monthly annuity income payment from a non-qualified plan is made up of two parts.  The tax-free part is considered the return of your net cost for purchasing the annuity.  The rest is the taxable balance, or the earnings.

When you receive income payments from your annuity, as opposed to withdrawals, the idea is to evenly divide the principal amount – and its tax exclusions – out over the expected number of payments. The rest of the amount in each payment is considered earnings subject to income taxes.

Inherited Annuity Taxation

If you are the beneficiary and inherit an annuity, the same tax rules apply.  The main rule about taxation with an inherited annuity or one that is purchased is that any principal that is funded with money that was already subject to taxes will not be taxed.  Principal that was not taxed and earnings will be subject to taxation as income.  The amount of previously taxed principal included in each annuity income payment is considered excluded from federal income tax requirements.  This is known as the exclusion amount.

In Summary

If you just take the opinion of Mom, Dad, Gramma, Uncle Joe, Preacher Mike, Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Howard or even simply the Web then you are not making the best, most educated decision.  Do your due diligence and ensure that you talk to an industry professional.  What happens if Uncle Joe tells you what happened to him 30 years ago and you should “never invest in one of those annuity things”. Well, first of all what is his profession and how old was the product he purchased at that time.  Could things have changed in those years?  How about being at a family reunion and Gramma tells you that she just heard Mr. Howard talking about how some people lost money when they annuities a few years ago.  Even though you love Gramma, is she a financial professional with current experience and education.  So, in summary, annuities can be taxable in the right situation.  This is definitely something that you need to have reviewed by your Financial Professional.  Best of luck on your investment.