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Monday, February 20, 2017

Columns & Editorials

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Putting Your Tax Refund to Work

Should your refund be spent? In 2014, more than 109 million tax filers received federal tax refunds, with the average refund at $2,792. What happens to that money?1 According to H&R Block’s Tax Institute, little of it is saved or invested: last year, more people used their refunds to settle debts or pay for cars or vacations than anything else.2 As...

Tell You What – An Editorial

Tell you what….  Let’s have everyone who says, “Why don’t they…(whatever it is about the rebuilding needed on Garrettsville’s Main St.) or “They need to…(suggestions for operations to be carried out to restore Main St.) or “They ought to…(directions on how to accomplish the rebuilding of half of Garrettsville’s business district), everyone who utters one of these or similar...

Wine and the California Drought

As we finally start to experience Spring in Northeast Ohio, I can’t help but keep my focus on the drought situation in California. From talking to family and friends on the west coast it is amazing to see what they are experiencing and how they are reacting to limited water usage and just having to deal with no rain in the forecast.

A Stitch In Time!

Here’s one for the Village Piece Makers, you know, the dedicated quilt-makers who every two years come up with a lovely handmade spread to be raffled off at the Christmas Walk. I don’t know how they come up with the patterns—maybe they make them up themselves—but recently the AB-J ran a cartoon (It’s a regular series called Non Sequitur, usually pretty apt for what they put out there) that might get a rise from out local needlewomen, even Ellie Foster Monroe who does “Quilts for Causes”, contributing to efforts that she supports.

The Psychology of Saving Money

Financially speaking, saving is winning. Sometimes that lesson is lost, however. To some people, saving feels like losing – “losing” money that could be spent. So assert Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng, authors of a recently published book entitled Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality. They cite a perceptual difference. If people are asked if they can save 20% of their income, the answer may be a resounding “no” – but if they are asked if they can live on 80% of their income, that may seem reasonable.

12 Tips for Spring Home Buying in a Seller’s Market

With spring finally here for most of the nation, prospective homebuyers can look at houses and condos without traipsing through snow and ice. Better weather, plus the traditional belief that families search for homes so they can move in between school years, makes spring a major homebuying season in much of the country.

What should you bring to your preparer?

IRS filing season will start right on time in 2015, and there is wisdom in filing your 1040 well before April 15. You can get it out of the way earlier, and if you e-file, you can put yourself in position for an earlier refund.1 What should you gather up for your CPA? If you want to save time and...

Like A Frog Trying To Ride A Bicycle

“Hey Dad, why don’t you think about taking some courses at Kent State.  You are a senior citizen so you could take them free.  You would meet some people and you might just like it.” So said my daughter Carrie who is also a Professor at Kent.  Yeah, but I’ll be far older than anyone else in that classroom,...

What’s Your Financial Health Score?

In the future, will you become wealthier or poorer? Who knows, right? It seems like you would need a crystal ball to really answer that question given life’s up and downs. What if the answer is right in front of you? What if you can determine it from your present financial behaviors? Two economists present a brief questionnaire – and...

Wineries

I am amazed at  how many wineries have opened the past few years – especially the number that have opened in Northeast Ohio. When we opened almost 11 years ago there were almost 125 wineries in the state. We are expecting to pass 200 wineries by the end of this year. Sure, we have a lot of people that stop...

“I don’t understand everything that goes into Ohio’s school ranking system. Could you help?”

Up until the 2013-2013 school year, Ohio public schools and school districts were given one of six ratings: Excellent with Distinction, Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch, and Academic Emergency. The ratings were based on attendance, high school graduation rates, how many students passed the state tests and how well they scored, and the value-added calculation, which is meant...

Thinking Spring!

Another weekend, another home & garden show! Getting to the John S. and James L. Knight Center in downtown Akron is not real tough, although the predominance of one-way streets does sometimes make it a little tricky if you should happen to miss a turn.  There’s a parking garage nearby too but I won’t even tell you how many turns...

Begin the Beguine

My dad may have been an absent-minded professor, but he was a very intentional father. He never missed the opportunity to instill in us five children the high virtues of hard work, family honor, ethnic pride, honesty as the best policy, academic excellence, fair play, healthy habits, moderation in all things, perseverance… the list was endless. And he had a saying for every occasion, just to reinforce his point and imprint his ethics upon our souls.

“Begin the Beguine”  was a popular song written by Cole Porter in 1934. To my father, it was yet another one-liner he’d toss into conversation for dramatic effect. My dad may have been an absent-minded professor, but he was a very intentional father. He never missed the opportunity to instill in us five children the high virtues of hard work,...

“It is not fit for man nor beast outside”

Mice and voles live in the “subnivean” zone. The area between the snow pack and ground. The snow acts as an insulator from the cold temperatures and it also provides protection from predators.

The first time I heard that saying was when I was a little kid, it was 15 below, the wind howling, snow blowing and I was freezing. I wondered how the animals, insects, and plants were able to survive these harsh conditions. I was able to bundle up in layers, go inside and sit by the fireplace, or get...

Puppy Tails

One look outside and Doodle Dog knew spring had apparently taken a detour or was suddenly lost and hadn’t bothered to ask for directions. The floppy-eared puppy is all for enjoying the scenic route but spring needed to hurry up and bring its warm weather with it. The mounds of snow grew taller than the little puppy by the...

Notes from the vineyard

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a bottle of wine that was from a small region in France. After I popped the cork, I noticed that it said mise en bouteille au chateau on it. I know that “bouteille” means bottled and I knew that “chateau” meant house so I assumed that it meant that the wine...

It Must Be February

Must be February, the Easter candy is on the shelves. And the “cabin fever news stories” are circulating.  That’s what appears when all of the news outlets are sick and tired of going hysterical about the weather—record-high snowfall, record-low temperatures, funny (or not-so) pictures of people digging out, names for the storms (How about Hortense?  We haven’t seen that name...

Getting Your Household Cash Flow Back Under Control

Where does your money go? If you find yourself asking that question from time to time, it may relate to cash flow within your household. Having a cash flow management system may be instrumental in restoring some financial control. It is harder for a middle-class household to maintain financial control these days. If you find yourself too often living on...

To Add Hydraulics or Not – Part II

I made the decision to have hydraulic brakes put on my 1930 Model “A”.   The task is beyond my capabilities due to my age, arthritis, and a lack of machining capabilities.  It is not as if there are antique auto restoration places on every corner and most modern auto shops would not go near this job.  Where to...

The Latest on Social Security: Recipients get a raise in 2015. Ideas for reform are numerous.

Social Security benefits are increasing 1.7% in 2015. This marks the fourth straight yearly cost-of-living adjustment, following a 1.5% COLA for 2014.1  The average monthly Social Security payment for a single retiree increases by $22 to $1,328. The average retired couple will get $2,176 per month in 2015 (a $36 monthly increase). A single retiree claiming benefits at the full...

Cabin Fever Factoids

Being stuck inside(Where it’s marginally warmer) for extended periods can send a person(at least this one)over the edge, or at least out on the slippery part. While out there, one can run across some quirkily weird items in the news, To wit...

Feedback and Food For Thought

We are some six weeks into this topic of 65 and Single Again. I have gotten a great deal of feedback about the articles via e-mail, over the phone, and more often than not, in person. A great many people seem to identify with this predicament of life. The column mirrors their struggle and they are searching for solutions. As well, it has generated a good bit of thought on my part, re-thinking certain things, postulating new, and contemplating where to go next.

New IRS Ruling on Rollovers of After-Tax Amounts

Do you contribute to a qualified retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan? Does your account have a large balance? If so, you’ll be glad to hear about a new IRS ruling that may give you a nice tax break in the future.    At some point in your life, you may want to roll...

Red Letter Day

A RED-LETTER DAY Or a red something, anyway.  As I have said before, you can’t make this stuff up. It seems that in Sheboygan, WI a group of brewers has got together to raise money for charity by being featured—mostly in the buff—posing in a calendar which will be sold online or at numerous bars, liquor stores and groceries in Wisconsin...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 5 of a Series

The Dating Dot Com phenomenon came on the scene in the 1990s and since then has developed exponentially into a massive industry.  You can’t watch evening TV or pick up a popular magazine without encountering advertisements touting this or that dot com which all but guarantee that they will find the right person for you.  Many of us, from...

Puppy Tails

After all the walking around town he’s been doing lately, Doodle Dog decided today he was going to relax on the front porch and enjoy the view of the neighborhood from there...

Stupid Virus

So somebody on a slow news day—Newsweek was mentioned but the internet picked the mention up and ran with it—called it the “stupid virus” and implied that any lagging intellectual powers among us might be the fault of an insidious invasion by these viral marauders...

Financial Considerations for 2015

2015 is less than two months away. Fall is the time when investors look for ways to lower their taxes and make some financial changes. This is an ideal time to schedule a meeting with a financial, tax or estate planning professional. How do economists see next year unfolding? Morningstar sees 2.0-2.5% GDP for the U.S. for 2015, with housing,...

Pairing

I love the holidays – friends, family, food and plenty of desserts! But being a dry red wine drinker, desserts do not always seem to pair well with the wine. So what options do you have for those holiday treats – besides either giving up wine or giving up dessert – let me give you some options. For sweet wine...

It’s A Failure!

A failure of Social Studies Education, I calls it. The recent election, that is…failure of turn-out, failure to understand the way government works(whether it’s supposed to work that way or not), failure to be informed on the issues and the candidates, failure to pay attention to the down-ticket contests…a whole bunch of things that we should all be thinking about but don’t. AND a prevailing, parsimonious attitude that makes a virtue of trying to do everything on the cheap. There’s a powerful big difference between wishing to do things in the most cost-conscious and efficient manner possible to do the best we can for the most citizens and trying to see how much we can get away with before the dreadful consequences which we have been outrunning finally catch up. The difference is the difference between “What’s the best we can afford?” and “What’s the cheapest we can get?” Strangely enough, there are cases in which quality actually does count.

Puppy Tails

Growing a wee bit tired from all the pattering around town in the quest for yummy snacks, Doodle Dog was still having so much fun that he didn’t notice the sky around him was growing a wee bit darker. He knew he should get home soon and could hurry to make it back to the office before the stars...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 4 of a Series

How many times has it happened that I am notified that an attractive lady with a moniker such as NANNAN69 has just favorited me and would like to talk with me. The posted time is 7:15 PM. At 7:16 PM I respond and immediately a screen flashes that, “NANNAN69 is no longer available but here are 8 more people just like NANNAN69. Give them a response!” Now, tell me how, in 60 seconds, NANNAN got swept off her feet, married off and managed to get the Dot Com to take her out of contention when the rest of us can’t seem to even get the Dot Com to respond to us.

Take Up A New Hobby

So here’s the thing….  We need readers and scorekeepers for the Garfield QuizMasters to go out to vanquish our intellectual foes in upcoming Academic Challenge competitions.  Do I see any volunteers? Really, the hardest part is getting up EARLY on a Saturday morning to go ride a bus to the designated venue for the tournaments.  Of course, riding in a...

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms Part 3 of a Series

Why do people get hooked up with on-line dating services like EEK-Grominy and Lighter Dot Com. Well, if you believe all the hype shown you in the 90 second TV commercials it is because you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry.  Of course it is also possible that maybe you just want to...

Notes from The Vineyard

The holiday season is officially in front of us! I was amazed walking through the stores on November 1st to see very little Halloween and Thanksgiving items out to see instead most of the shelves already turned over for Christmas. So I guess it’s inevitable, time to prep for the holidays now! While we haven’t decorated for Christmas yet at...

An Estate Planning Checklist Things to check & double-check as you prepare

Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be off-putting. However, those who die without their financial affairs in good order risk leaving their heirs some significant problems along with their legacies. No matter what your age, here are some things you may want to accomplish this year with...

If It Isn’t One Thing…

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. We’ve finally seen the end of the political ads (Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?—Robert Orben).  The signs should all be picked up until the next go-round and we can listen to the moans of the losers...

“I inherited a Chandler pastel painting. Could you give me more information on the artist?”

If you’d like to see a Chandler painting in person, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown has “Scene in the Adirondacks” in its collection.

Trying To Embrace The Dating Dot Coms (Part 2 of a Series)

I got to know pretty much most of their customers by their pictures and crazily made up names like AnAn, Sexygurl, and Poosie Suzie which invariably were sent to me over and over and over again. I have trouble remembering names, except for one unfortunate, ill-chosen name –Msphyllis—(yes, I read and re-read that one several times to make sure that it wasn’t what I initially thought it was) but if I see a face once I remember it forever.

Welcome To The Lifeboat; Please Come Aboard

What do you do when, at 67 you find yourself single and alone again?  The reasons for this often include, your mate passed away, or perhaps you and/or your mate decided to end a 1-40 year relationship for whatever reasons.  At any rate you are now alone in the house, responsible for everything.  Assuming that bereavement is an ongoing...

It’s Your Right … Exercise IT!

I’ve been serving as a poll worker for about seven years now and it always makes me proud to see a former student come in to cast a ballot; wish that I’d see even more of them. It used to be a regular thing in the seventh grade to take my classes down to the Precinct A polls on High Street to observe the voting; the poll workers were always helpful and welcoming and happy to explain the procedures to the kids. Pity we can’t do stuff like that anymore.

Plate City

Once upon a time, specific clerks dealt with specific operations and the issuer of license plates might be snowed under with people waiting and waiting, while the driver’s license clerk was able to sit at her leisure to examine the new nail color that she had chosen and tempers tended to shorten as the wait time lengthened. Well, that’s done with…and none too soon.

Down A Very Scary Old Road…. The Class Reunion

“The reunion”, he says. “Oh yeah, you’ve gotta go”, says my friend Don, 80 years old and hasn’t missed a reunion yet. Class Reunion……These are words that strike terror into the heart of…… me. The word brings trepidation, apprehension, a dredging up of time spent in….limbo. It seems to hit me in the face with horrible thoughts about what is now and what is no more. This reunion to me is a thing out of time and very out of place. “But you’ve gotta go—it’s your 50 year Class Reunion”, they say. “You will never have another.”

Weekend Travels

Well, that train left the station without me aboard. I had been planning to take the Portage County Farm Tour but it turns out that it was held on Saturday instead of Sunday and my schedule was all wrapped around the Aurora Band show, Thunder Over Aurora, so it was a setback to open the Record on Sunday and see...

What can your wine tell you?

There are a few things, though, that you can learn about a white wine by looking at the color. First, when you are looking at the wine, make sure you have a white piece of paper or a white tablecloth as the background. Then tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle in front of the background. If a wine is golden or amber it may mean one of a number of things...

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

“Imagine looking professional but feeling like you’re wearing pajamas.”

Wild Hikes

Well, actually, it wasn’t all that wild but it definitely was interesting and fun.  The Portage County Park District is offering opportunities to scope out some of the features of the newly-funded (THANK YOU, VOTERS)county parks with knowledgeable  and  entertaining volunteer naturalists (or  one, at least, Thank you, Joe) to get a good look at just what’s out there. ...

“What makes potatoes start sprouting? Are they okay to eat?”

If you’ve left a bag of potatoes sitting around for a while, you might have noticed them starting to grow green, white, or somewhat purple sprouts. That’s the potato trying to grow into a new plant. The sprouts themselves, as well as any green part of the potato, are home to a toxic alkaloid called solanine and must be removed....

The 401(k) Amendment Period Is Here

The clock is ticking. Between now and April 30, 2016, 100% of 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, and other tax-qualified plans that use an IRS-approved prototype plan document must be amended and restated.1 If this doesn’t occur by the above deadline, these retirement plans risk losing their tax-qualified status and the corresponding tax advantages they offer to plan participants. Any amendments to the current plan document must be incorporated into a fresh “core” document.1,2 Here’s your chance to refine your plan – to possibly lower its costs, to get more out of it. A little analysis from a consultant (and perhaps a little surveying of your plan participants) may allow you to answer some crucial questions.

The Golden End of Summer

Signs of fall abound, a chill is  in the air,  you can see and hear the familiar V formation of geese flying south, Monarchs flit among the flowers making their way to Mexico, and  the woods are becoming quiet as many songbird species leave for winter. The autumnal equinox announces fall is officially here on September 23, 2014. But...

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