Summer Time Money Options!

The summer season started a few days ago!  

During this season many people tend to think about going on vacation, engaging in outdoor activities, attending concerts, enjoying seasonal foods and the like. So many options right! There are also some awesome opportunities to line your pockets during the summer season even if it simply on a part time basis for the next 90 days or so.  Here are three quick ideas:


Be a Driver!

Photo by AGrigorjeva/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by AGrigorjeva/iStock / Getty Images

I am sure you have heard of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.  This may be a grand opportunity to began a part time gig with one of these services. In addition, there are also private executive driving services in certain areas of the United States that may need assistance.  The great thing about this driver option is you can typically do it around your summer schedule.


Use Your Skills, Become a Tutor!

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

What skill do you have that you maybe able to teach someone?  Do you play an instrument? Do you know a particular software pretty well? Do you know a particular subject matter like the back of your hand?  If so there maybe a market for you to tutor someone.  Yes I know there is a YouTube video for everything now.  But some people still require the personal, one on one approach.  


Use Your Home!

Photo by jhorrocks/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by jhorrocks/iStock / Getty Images

So you have your summer planned already? Great! 

While looking at your summer schedule are there gaps when you and your family won't be at home?  If so why not rent your home using Airbnb?  You can list your space for free and possibly earn additional income while you and the family are away.


These three are simply a start.  I am sure if you take ten minutes to think about it more, you will discover other approaches to earning additional money this summer.  Enjoy this awesome season!


Net Worth vs Income

The difference between net worth and income is misunderstood by many people.  I hope that this blog post will bring more clarity to our understanding.

Income is simply the money a person makes from employment or other means over a given period of time.  For instance, if Bob works and earns $100,000.00 annually and earns $100.00 in interest this year from his bank accounts and another $2,000.00 from a piece of real estate he owns (after all rental expenses are paid), then Bob's annual income for the year would be $102,100.00.

Net worth is the amount by which a person's or a company's assets exceeds their or its liabilities.   So let's take another look at Bob.  He has $5,000.00 saved in his bank accounts, an investment portfolio with a market value of $25,000.00, primary residence valued at $180,000 (outstanding mortgage of $160,000.00), rental property valued at $100,000.00 (outstanding mortgage of $75,000.00), credit card debt of $4,000.00 and student loan debt of $75,000.00.  So let's figure out Bob's net worth:

Total Assets are as follows: Bank Accounts: $5,000.00, Investment Portfolio Value: $25,000.00, Primary Residence: $180,000.00,  Rental Property: $100,000.00. Bob's total assets are currently worth $310,000.00.

Total liabilities: Unpaid / Outstanding Mortgage on Primary Residence: $160,000.00, Unpaid / Outstanding Mortgage on Rental Property: $75,000.00, Credit Card Balances: $4,000.00, Student Loan Remaining Balance: $75,000.00.  Bob's total liability is currently: $314,000.00  Therefore Bob's net worth is: -$4,000.00 ($310,000.00 minus $314,000.00).

You can see that although Bob's annual income was over $100,000.00, his net worth is negative $4,000.00. A person's net worth and income is equivalent to their financial health.  The healthier a person's finances are the higher their net worth will be.  

Speaking of health, think about an individual who looks healthy but really isn't,.  Bob would be considered a person who looks healthy on the outside (annual income over $100k) but is actually not healthy right now (net worth below zero).

As times goes on Bob's financial health could increase or get worse.  The future of Bob's financial health depends on financial conditions and the financial decisions he makes in the future.  What is your net worth?.

Retirement, Let's See!

So are you ready for retirement? Think so?  Let's give it a go!  Here is how we are going to do it!

First, you must figure out what your retirement payment would be.  That means you will need to speak to someone from the Social Security Administration to determine what your social security payments are projected to be.  You can use this url to estimate your social security payments also:

If there is a pension or other retirement funds available you should speak with someone from those areas also to estimate what your retirement payments would be on a monthly basis.

Calculate the monthly amount is for the Social Security projected payment and the projected payment from the other retirement sources.  Whatever total you come with, select a month within the next three months to live on that total amount.

So for instance Jane uses the estimator at and it is determined that she would receive $1,600.00 per month.  Jane then contacts her benefits coordinator from her current employer and determines that she would receive an estimated $750.00 per month during retirement. She has additional retirement funds in other places which would cause her to receive a projected $350.00 per month.  Therefore Jane's projected retirement income is $2,700.00 per month.  With that Jane will decide to use the month of September to live off of $2,700.00 per month.

The goal of an exercise like this is two fold: (1) to help the participant understand that there lifestyle maybe impacted severely in retirement and (2) to help the participant see that saving for retirement should be a high priority.  Try the exercise and see how it is.  Once you tried it for a monthplease let me know your thoughts on retirement!




Disposable Income

What is disposable income? It is the amount of money that households have available for spending, saving and investing after income taxes and mandatory payments (i.e. mortgage, food, transportation and health insurance) are accounted for.


A recent survey initiated by Money Magazine disclosed that the disposable income of American households is disbursed as follows:

Travel: 30%

Home and Beauty: 22%

Eating Out: 20%

Clothing: 17%

Recreation: 11%


Did you notice anything missing?  Yes, you got it!  Based on this survey most American households apparently aren't using any of their disposable income  to put towards savings or investments.  We can not expect our finances to grow if there is no system of saving and investing.  


This is  a huge problem that will result in Americans having to work far longer than their parents and grandparents had to.  Let's get in front of this and begin developing a plan to save and invest.

Making A DIfference Takes One Person And One Decision

In the late 1950s into the 1960s the racial tension in the South was tremendous.  African Americans were encouraged not to participate in voting during that time, although the United States Supreme Court had already ruled against denying citizens to vote.  One such place in the South that adhered to this, turning away of the "Negro's ability to vote" was Fayette County, Tennessee.


Despite the fact that African Americans represented roughly 70% of Fayette County, Tennessee's population in 1960, before 1959 fewer than a dozen had voted.  Seeing this was the case a number of African Americans banned together to form the Fayette County Civic and Welfare League, Inc (FCCWL).  After several lawsuits centered around the Civil Rights Act of 1957, a Federal judge, in April 1960, declared an end to all-white elections on Fayette County and neighboring Haywood County.


While these lawsuits were occurring, many African Americans In Fayette County had registered to vote.  But there was much resistance presented when arriving to register.  In May 1960, as a result of struggle in Fayette County and across the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which put in place formal penalties for obstructing any citizen's right to vote. 


As time went on in 1960 there were over 1000 African Americans registered to vote in Fayette County.  During that time a list was generated which contained the names of the African Americans who were registered to vote and their non-African American allies.  This was a "black-list" so to speak because anyone on this list had trouble or were denied from buying gasoline, food or obtaining bank loans.  Some of the people on the list had their insurance policies cancelled or were fired from their jobs.  These actions made it difficult on the sharecroppers who depended on the local businesses to sustain their business. The most disheartening thing, if the above was enough, many of the people that were on that "black-list" who lived on the land owned by those who were adverse to the list, were evicted,  simply for being on the list.


Many African Americans had no place to stay.  A local sharecropper named William Sheperd Towles Sr. (my grandfather) offered his farm for temporary housing.  That land became known as Tent City, as many tents were erected to house as many of those people who were evicted as the land could hold.  Tents, food and other supplies were donated by anonymous merchants and individuals.  National organizations like the NAACP, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, Quakers, the National Baptist Convention and the Southern Conference Education Fund also donated as much as they could to sustain the residents of Tent City.  In 1961, President John F. Kennedy mandated the Federal government to provide necessary supplies to the residents of Tent City.


Because of the tumultuous nature and the racial climate, many African Americans called Tent City their home for about two and half years. A total of 345 families were displaced.  My grandfather's land could not house all of those, so another land owner,  Gertrude Beasley offered her land to house those who were displaced.   


My grandfather was invited to speak in several cities around the country to describe what was transpiring in the area.  Amidst multiple death threats on his life and the lives of Tent City residents from local and regional individuals who were adverse to his intervention of those who were displaced, Mr. Towles sent representatives to speak on his behalf.    


Within the two and a half years that Tent City had functioned there were shootings to scare the residents.  There were attempts by those adverse to the concept of Tent City to burn the place to the ground.  Through adverse times stood a people who were strong and determined.  Though racial lines were drawn there were a number of non-African Americans that chipped in to help the cause, as mentioned earlier, some anonymous and some not.  


With February being Black History month, I honor my grandfather William Shepherd Towles Sr. for making a difference.  Indeed a difference can be made  by one person making one decision - the right decision despite being placed in harm's way! 


What To Do With Your IRS Refund!

With tax season upon us, this is a good opportunity to talk about the use of your tax return.  Retailers are expecting taxpayers to purchase a bunch of big ticket items.  Take my advice, don't do it.  Here is what I propose if you are expecting a tax refund this year.


Donate 10% of your refund amount to a charitable organization

It is always a good idea to give to those who are less fortunate than us.  The easiest way to do this is to select a charity you believe in and donate the 10%.  Giving back makes you feel good and also provides another deduction during the current tax year.


Take one third of the remaining amount to apply against your outstanding debt

If you have any outstanding debt (i.e student loans, credit cards, mortgage, etc.) take a third to apply against it. Any extra amount that can be applied to your debt will help to retire it earlier.   Remember you can't retire until you retire your debt.  


Take the second third of the remaining amount and place it into a retirement account

This is a must, because that are so many Americans that haven't put enough money away for retirement.  The problem is that many of them don't discover this until it is too late.  In a recent report from Fidelity Investments, 55% of Americans don't have enough money saved to cover their basic needs in retirement.  Let's start aggressively saving for retirement.


Take the last third of the remaining amount and save it for a rainy day fund

When you read the financial news and tune into financial broadcasts you will gather that rainy days are coming.  In fact for some torrential rain is ahead.  Because of this you should start or add to a rainy day fund.  This fund is in place to cover your essential living expenses for three to six months, in case something happensthat causes your income to decrease.  

The rainy day fund is different for an emergency fund.  The emergency fund is for those items that jump "pop up" from time to time - car repair, leaky roof, etc.


I would use this same approach for any unexpected money that is received during the year also.  Follow this approach and watch three things happen: (1) debt will be retired faster, retirement account will become healthy and your rainy day fund will provide the umbrella you and your family need to survive.

Seven Steps To "Get Your Money Right" In 2016

Did you know that 76% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck according to 2013 research done by Here are seven steps to break that cycle in your household:


1.      Establish and follow a budget.

Your budget is your spending plan for your money.  Without a plan you are bound to work outside of the boundaries of your income.  It is important to establish and then follow a budget on a monthly basis.


2.      Educate yourself financially.

An educated choice is always the best choice to make.  Educating yourself financially means to begin reading books, articles and blogs that are related to finance, especially personal finance.  It also a good idea to listen to some podcasts and television shows that relate to the subject area.


3.      Clean up your credit.

There may be some things on your credit report that is causing your score to be lower than it should.  These are the items that need to be straightened out.  Your credit report should also be checked for accuracy – late payments, credit balances, etc.  Have your report review and make it a priority for the first quarter of 2016 to “fix” your reports and scores.


4.      Establish and Continuously Fund Five Funds.

There are at least five funds that everyone should establish:

Ø  G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Debt) Fund

Ø  Vacation Fund

Ø  Retirement Fund (outside of your employer sponsored fund)

Ø  Investment Fund

Ø  Replacement Savings Fund


5.      Investment Plan.

Create an investment plan.  Simply saving money is outdated and no longer works effectively in this economy.  Therefore your ability save money has to be mixed with a good investment plan in order to generate wealth. Be sure to read my free e-book entitled, Income Producing Assets, which can be found at   


6.      Put your blindfold on.

Forget about the Jones’ unless they are related to you!  Don’t look at what anyone else acquires.  This is the largest cause for debt – living like the Jones’.  Therefore set your plan, stick to your plan and put your blind fold on, enjoy the ride.


7.      Get a professional finance coach.

There are several benefits of working with a professional finance coach: your coach offers a fresh perspective on your financial challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, increased confidence and a depth of financial expertise.  For more information on working with a finance coach please visit:

Thanksgiving = Giving

During this season of Thanksgiving there are three things that we should do.  We should actually do these three things throughout the year, here they are:


1. Give Thanks

It is important to give thanks for being alive, having some level of health and strength.  There is a lot more to be thankful for.  Simply think about all the things you have to be thankful for.  This will allow you to place your life in proper perspective.


2. Give Forgiveness

Forgiveness is like love, we chose to forgive.  The power to love and the power to forgive both exude out of a choice that we each have the ability to make.  Unfortunately, life introduces you to people and situations that frustrate us at times and let us down.  You and I must decide to forgive others who have let us down or caused us some level of heartbreak.  We must also learn to forgive ourselves for bad decisions we have made.  Today decide to forgive others and yourself.


3. Give Generously

Generosity is the back bone of society or at least it used to be.  We should give generously to those in need.  Doing this gives us a sense of accomplishment unlike anything else.  Remember to give generously! 

There Is Value In Your Story

Each of us has a unique story to our lives that is jam packed with experiences that were fun, traumatic, disappointing, triumphant or life altering.  It is the story of our lives that causes our lives to be valuable.  You might say, “my life, valuable, how so?”  Very good question that I am so glad you asked.  Here is how.


Every story can beneficial to someone else and some stories can be both beneficial and profitable to you.  The determining factor is you and your level of comfort in communicating the story.  I am not a physiologist by any stretch of my imagination or yours for that matter.  What I am is a person who sees opportunity everywhere.  And your story is an opportunity to benefit financially.


What is your life story?  Pick one, don’t embellish on the details, stick to the authentic story, you aren’t in Hollywood yet.  Did you have huge weight loss, overcome a depressing time in your life, or did you develop a new method to handle an issue that many deal with in life?  Whatever your story is write it down.  Do some research on the subject matter to see if there are people who have a need that you fit your story.   


Once you have determined there is a sufficient market, the next step is to determine how you will communicate your story to them.  There are several ways to communicate your story:


1.      Connect with a non-profit organization that works within the area your story is in.  Maybe ask them to share your story at some of their local events.

2.      Write about your story.  Use blog posts, social media and other mediums to communicate your story.

3.      Offer to help others to overcome the issue or situation you have overcome.


So where is the money you say?  Well option one above can potentially be turned into a public speaking career.  Option two above, especially the book, makes you an author and writing the blog, a blogger.  Option three assist you in generating income from coaching.  You see it is possible that your story can cause you to have three income streams.  And this article is simply scratching the surface.


For more information on how you can monetize your story be sure to contact me. 

Your Credit: Five Things To Be AWARE OF!

There are several resources about improving your credit score on the market.  Some of the information is valid while others provide outdated information that is no longer beneficial.  Below please find several tips that everyone should know:

#1 – You are entitled to one free credit report each year.

You can obtain this report at:  Make sure that you obtain information from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. 

Reviewing your credit report periodically is recommended since your credit profile is pivotal in obtaining loans, opening insurance policies and even some cases securing employment.

#2 – “That’s not mine”, but……

While reviewing your credit report you may notice that there is an account or two that doesn’t appear to be familiar to you.  Before you place an inquiry about any account like this, review it.  It is possible that removing such an account could lower your credit score.  I know that seems silly, but it is very possible.

Think about this, if there is an account showing on your credit report that has been opened for four or five year and is reporting negatively due to a 30-day lateness three years ago; removing such an account will more than likely lower your credit score.  Get the advice of a professional to evaluate unique situations like this. 

#3 – Keep the line open

One of the largest mistakes that individuals make is closing credit lines.  I understand if there is a student loan or auto payment account that is completely paid that the lender will report the account as closed.  There is little one can do about that.  But the revolving account (credit card) should never be closed even after the balance is zero.  Doing this can ruin your credit score. 

If you have a revolving line of credit that has a zero balance and you rarely use, do not close it.  Here is why:

One of the elements of your credit score weights something called your credit utilization ratio. The credit utilization ratio is calculated by adding the total amount of credit used and dividing it by the total amount of credit available to you.  The higher the ratio the more your credit score will be negatively impacted.

#4 – A phone call can safe your credit score

If you run into a cash flow crunch and think you may be late on making a payment, call your creditors.  There is a possible chance that a payment extension can be worked out, so that your account isn’t report to the credit bureaus as late.  Obviously you can’t use this approach every month, but on the rare occasion that something like this may occur, make the phone call. 

Remember a 30-day late reported on your credit could drop your score significantly.  And it will take a number of months of on-time payments to recover.  One phone call could avoid several months of work.  Make the call. 

#5 – Ask for the help of a professional!

When I purchased my first car I was told that the oil needed be changed every three months or so. I had this magical idea, why would I pay someone to change the oil, it is less expensive to change it on my own.  Once I learned what had to be done and what could go wrong if I did something wrong, my approach quickly changed!  I looked for a professional who knew what they were doing.  

This works the same way with your credit.  Of course you can do it on your own.  Besides you have Google, the Internet, books, blogs, newsletters, YouTube videos, etc. which contain a plethora of information.  And obviously you can read and have the time to navigate all of these resources.  But what happens if you do something wrong.  A good friend’s words ring true here, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job wait until you hire an amateur” or try to do it yourself!


Back in high school the basketball coach taught us that a uncontested shot has about an 80% chance of going in the hoop.  But when a shot is contested, the percentage is cut in half- 40% or less.  We were taught not to try to block every shot but to contest, put a hand in the face of the shooter.


This lesson translates well into life.  There are a number of things that God has placed in each of us.  Some to start a business, others to take on huge community service efforts, others to enter into politics, etc.  Whatever the God-ordained dream is, you and I must understand that our efforts, thoughts, finances for this dream will be contested by others and the devil himself.


When your dream is contested here are three things that you can do to counteract the opposition:

1. Stay focused on the goal - the desire of our adversary  is to cause you and I to make "snap" ad quick decisions that will cause us to stop moving forward.  Don't do it.  Stick to the game-plan and continue to push.

2. Relax - at the end of the day if it is a God-ordained dream all you and I have to do is obey.  Remember whose you are, remember your training and remember Philippians 1:6.

3. Pray - our greatest weapon against our adversary is prayer.  Be sure to consult God for guidance on what to do in situations when you are being contested. 




What's Trending?

On my Twitter feed I’m able to see what trending at a particular moment during the day. These are the top things that everyone (or a great majority) in the Twitter universe are speaking on.

While this news may not be pertinent to everyone it does show you what everyone is talking about and is showing some focus on. The question is was is trending in your live today? What is it that you are most concerned about? What is it that is getting the most attention in your life?

Life presents thousands of scenarios and stories for each of us every day. But what are the top three concerns in your life right now? That is what’s trending in your life. How long have those things been trending?

Here is something I learned a long time ago. Whatever you focus on and give your attention to is the very thing that governs your life. If the top three trending items in your life are not making you better in someway, it is time to refocus your thinking. If those top three continually cause depression it is time to refocus.

What trending in your life?

What Should Be The Response To Fergerson?

Everyone has an opinion on what should be done as a response to the decision recently made in Ferguson.  The question is what is the right response?  What action will be safe for the protesters while still getting the message across?

I have heard people planning to boycott the retail industry on “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”.  I am not saying this isn’t a good idea, but I don’t believe this is enough.  The assumption is that this boycott idea is entrenched in the Dr. King led boycott of the Montgomery bus company in the late 1950s.  If so I would like to bring to your attention that the Dr. King led boycott lasted for more than a year.  So two days, although huge revenue generating days really won’t work.  The “boycott” would need to be longer in order to have any impact.

Some want to resort to violence as a response to the Ferguson situation.  Violence is never the answer, in my opinion. That is war that the “people” will not win.  Yes executing vengeance and “blowing off steam” might feel good for the time, it doesn’t do anything to serve as a response.  Violence just gives birth to more violence, therefore poking holes in any legitimate response that will lead to change.

I believe what should happen is community leaders, religious leaders, working people, professionals, seniors and youth should come together and develop a strategic plan before an official response is offered.   If change is really the desired end goal, the sacrifice will be made, egos will be put “checked” and a “sit down” will occur.  


Sometimes situations in life can cause moments of chaos.  The disciples experienced a moment like this, found in Mark 4: 38 & 39: Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Needless to say that must have been a very chaotic situation, seemingly to the point of being fatally chaotic.  But Jesus, is calmly sleeping, he calmly speak to the wind and the winds calmly responded.  

We are sometimes just like the disciples, maybe not you, but I am like this sometimes.  When a rough area of life comes, at times we often think does God really care about us?  And if He really cared about us, why is our situation the way it is?  Some many questions at such a kinetic pace.  

Oh to remain as calm as Jesus and speak to the winds of our lives.  Remain calm, the Master is on board.  The waves that we  face from time to time won’t overtake us.  They are simply helping us to strengthen our faith to trust Jesus more.

Forty Minutes Of Hell

This was a phrase that was made famous by Coach Nolan Richardson and the Arkansas Razorbacks male basketball team back in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.  During his stint in Arkansas, Richardson led his team to an NCAA championship which featured an up tempo game with intense pressure defense.  It was this intense pressure defense which was called “40 Minutes of Hell.”

“40 Minutes of Hell” was designed to frustrate and make the opponent uncomfortable.  Richardson’s defense provoked its opponents to respond immediately to the pressure, usually resulting in turnover and easy opportunities for his team to score. 

A timid opponent was easy prey for this intense defense – as the timid would be scared and make the wrong move.  An aggressive opponent was even easier prey for this type of defense.  The aggressive opponent’s eagerness to break through the defense would cause opportunities that featured one opponent trying to navigate through

The Devil comes to do the same thing to the believer. He uses pressure to scare us into inactivity or provoke us into making a hasty move which will cost us harm. When you sense the pressures of life, pray and ask God what the next move should be.  Don’t act on instinct, look for the peace of God that surpasses all of your understanding and wait to hear what He has to say.  That is the only way to survive the “40 Minutes of Hell.”

Don't Be A Victim

Life tends to present us with circumstances which victimize each of us at times.  Some of these events we can control and some of them are completely out of our control.  The thing I want you to know is that there is a difference in being victimized and being a victim.

Being victimized calls us to a particular moment in time, it is an event or group of events that we traumatic.  Being a victim is a state of mind.  Victims tend to become induced due to their victimization.  This causes them to become cynical, non-trusting, often depressed, mean-spirited, argumentative, complainers, negative and even suicidal.   Some people are very comfortable in being the victim.This can be controlled.  

Victims tend to use phrases like: “This happened because of…” or “if you hadn’t don’t this, then I could have done….”  Being victimized is an unfortunate part of life (obviously some of these events are more traumatic then others) but we have to be able to move forward.  People that have made great impacts in history have had to push beyond traumatic experiences in order to accomplish greatness.

I didn’t write this blog to condemn anyone and make the situation worse.  I wrote it to bring clarity to chaos and to help some people.  If you aren’t sure if you are a victim (not able to truly move forward) ask two or three people that know you very well and can be brutally honest with you.  Here are the questions you should ask them:

Do I often appear depressed?

Do I consistently blame people or organizations for things?

Do I complain a lot?

If you 2 or 3 of the answers to those questions is “yes”, then you are a victim or appear to be one.

There is help.  I suggest counseling (I used to think that something was wrong with you when you needed counseling, totally not true!).  You should speak with a professional who can walk through the tangled web of victimization(s) to get you to a place of full recovery. 

Remember if you make the right decision(s) your life can change positively in mere moments. 

What Is The Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

Unless you have been away from all types of communication over the past six months you have heard the term the Affordable Care Act.  If not, don’t panic, you may identify this act by its better known name “Obama-Care.”

The bottom line for this act for individuals is simple – if you can afford health coverage then you must be covered or else pay a fee at the end of the year.

Here are some highlights of the Affordable Care Act or “Obama-Care”:

·         March 31, 2014 is a key day.  All those eligible to obtain coverage must obtain coverage by then.
·         Penalties for not being covered in 2014 will be the higher of 1%of the yearly household income or $95.00 per person ($47.50 per child under 18).  Penalties for 2014 will max out at $285.00 per family.
·         Penalties in future years will increase sharply: 2015 – 2% of income or $325.00 per person. 2016 – 2.5% of income or $695.00 per person.  After 2016 the penalty will adjust for inflation.
·         If you are uninsured for less than three months you will not be penalized.
·         Penalties will be pro-rated for those who are insured for part of the year.
·         You must have what is considered minimum essential coverage in order to avoid these penalties.
·         There are several exemptions based on income and certain circumstances.
·         Self-employed individuals who aren't considered employers must also be covered.  In fact, you may even have more options being self-employed.
·         You are considered covered if you have any job-based plan, a health insurance plan you bought yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA health coverage, or some other kind of health coverage.
·         Individuals may qualify for health care tax credits, lower out of pocket costs or Medicare.

These are simply a few highlights of the Affordable Care Act.  Allow The Towles Group Inc to assist you or your business with navigating the complex Affordable Care Act.  

Addicted To Sin

Most people are really tired of doing the wrong thing.  Their moral fiber is being eaten away and it hurt.  The Spirit of God is convicting their hearts and it is horrifying to them.

Sadly, when these people look for someone tot work with them to restore the moral fabric of their hearts and for the people of God to heal their hearts, they are few to find.  The Church seems to be addicted to sin.

How can I say that?

This has nothing to do with any reality show, but the tenor and tone of the preaching that is coming from the Church these days - especially the Church in America.  We don’t talk about sin and the hatred toward sin that the believer is supposed to have as mentioned in Romans 12:9.

We have coddled sin to some degree, I am guilty at times myself.  We speak harshly about the sins we feel are gross sins.  But we step lightly on the sins that we commit, as if that is going to make it better, make us feel better or is going to be overlooked by God.

Grace is preached from an angle, in may places, that suggests we can go out and do what we want and God will gladly forgive us.  Its as if there is a free pass to sin - get “tagged” - ad then return to home base again.  We no longer talk about the consequences of sin.  The fact that it is possible to escape the eternal consequences of the sin we commit, but it can cause us to waste valuable time, destroy the lives of others and cause us to deal with things that we weren’t ordained to handle.  Then after we experience this we use partial, misinterpreted verse like “He won’t give us more than we can bear”.  This is horrifying.

Data from 2009 says that 50%of Christian men and 20% of Christian women have reported being addicted to pornography.  Imagine the images that these people have to deal with.  Imagining trying to pray and being “haunted” by these images!  

We don’t talk about the sins that we commit in our minds.  God has that covered as well.  Philippians 4:8 alerts us what we should focus on.

The world is ready to come to Jesus, but the Church is ready to turn away.  No wonder the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  The laborers (The Body of Christ) is asleep at the wheel.  Let’s get it together, love one another, be accountable to one another and provoke one another to good works.

The world is waiting for us.

Leadership Maxim - Managing Frustrations

As a leader of a group, team, club or an organization needless to say that you have and will experience some level of frustration.  The key to being a leader is to manage your personal frustrations and those of the team as well.

Although you as the leader experience frustration, your team is also.  There are three levels of frustrations in all teams:

1. Interpersonal frustration - this is when team members have to work on projects together.  A team that doesn’t spend a lot of time together may see this more often than well established teams.  Nonetheless, this type of frustration is real.  When we don’t embrace the uniqueness of team members we are probably going to experience interpersonal frustrations in the group or team you lead.

All team members must understand that everyone sees things differently, each person comes to the table with certain underlying basis, some people are more vocal, some are less vocal, some see things one way, some like to look at something from various angles, some work fast, some won’t stop until things are done, while others might need to take numerous breaks before completing a project. 

This type of frustration can and will cause your team, group or organization to operate at less than its optimal capacity.  It could also cause you to lose some members of the team.  

In order to combat interpersonal frustrations, your team most develop a sensitivity for each other.  As the leader you also must figure out which people work best together and what personalities work well together.  This takes time but eventually things will fall into place.  I suggest doing some things together as a group, if possible, outside of your normal duties.  Go bowling, take the team to play paintball, watch a few movies together or serve for a cause together.  Over a period of time you will that bonds will develop that will move the team forward.

2. Graduation Frustration - if your team or organization is full of leaders this is something that is definitely happening on your team.  True leaders are visionaries - they look ahead often because there is an idea of what things “should” look like.  

These people have seen a picture of where the organization needs to be, they have embrace the vision and direction of the group but they are frustrated because “so much” time has passed and the group doesn’t seem any closer to its vision.  They are kind of like the senior in high school who has passed all of their tests, has college scholarships lined up and is awaiting the summer to arrive.  The only problem is that they must still come to class to go through the motions in order fulfill their attendance requirement.

This type of frustration may never be uttered verbally, but it shows up as inattentiveness during meetings, reluctance to manage projects for the group that they are clearly capable of doing and a growing disinterest in the group while still being aligned with the vision of the team or organization.

If this type of frustration is allowed to show up to meetings unchecked it can decrease the moral of the group.  This frustration can often be found in your top and mid level leaders.  The answer is to give these people a challenge.  Begin to take some risks and extend them the ability to lead a cutting edge project on behalf of the team.

This will fuel their passion to align with the vision, give you a chance as the leader to possibly mentor them and ultimately push the organization forward. Don’t worry, they are waiting the challenge.

3. Bandwagon frustration - These are people who were excited when they heard about the opportunity to work with your team, group or organization because they either felt a sense of purpose or they were meeting a requirement of some one else.  

These are good people but when they have no intention of doing anything once they understand what was required of them being part of this team or group.  These people can be converted into great leaders but they can also be detrimental to the success of your team.

If someone who is a part of your group or team is experiencing this type of frustration you should either work with them directly or assign them to a veteran team member.  These people ask a lot of question, do very little and in many cases are time wasters and zappers of strength. They should be given small tasks and not be allowed to lead out on a project, until a change is noticed.

Boycott Florida, really?

Obviously, there will be a response to the Martin verdict given this past weekend.  But the idea to boycott the state of Florida is probably not the wisest decision.  Here, in my opinion is why:

First, what about the families that live in the state that need the commerce in Florida to remain stable in order to survive.

Second, if we are to boycott the state of Florida we would need to think about the following companies which are based in Florida or have lucrative affiliates based in Florida:

ADP (home security), Office Depot (office supplies), Sun Capital Partners (invested in Boston Market - food and The Limited - women’s clothing), Hooters (restaurant), PODS (storage), Citrix (creators of GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC), Fidelity National Financial (one of the largest commercial and residential mortgage lenders in the country), NFL (Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Bucs, and Jacksonville Jaguars), NBA (Miami Heat and Orlando Magic), MLB (Florida Marlins and Tampa Rays), PGA Tour (professional golf association), Publix (supermarket chain), Burger King (fast food restaurant), Sony Music (record label and media group), AAA “Triple A” (motor club), AirTran Airways (airline), Darden Restaurants (owners of Red Lobsters, Olive Garden and LongHorn), Hilton (hotel chain), Westgate (timeshare company), The DIsney Company (owners of Disney World, ABC, ESPN and several other media outlets), Universal (amusement park), Raymond James Financial (financial planners), Home Shopping Network, Boar’s Head (deli products), Checkers (fast food) and Outback Steakhouse (restaurant).

This is a short list of companies from very surface level research and knowledge,  

Third, boycotts are only effective if they are long term.  In Dr. King;s day, the people boycotted until what they desired to have changed was changed.  

When this “boycott” of Florida begins, if it does, will its participants stay the course and truly boycott all of these companies?  

I am not saying a response to the verdict is not needed, but I think the true boycotting of an entire state is not realistic at all.  If this is truly on the table, the idea needs to be rethought. 

Something to really think about.