Best Road Trips on a Budget

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Summer is here and it’s time for getting out of town. However, you don’t want to set off on the open road without a plan. While there are an endless number of places to visit across the United States, here are a few road trips that are filled with natural parks, mountains and beaches, all of which are notably affordable, if not free. From New York City to Charleston, South Carolina First stop, Cape May, NJ, where you can hit Cape May Beach for some sun, then walk/bird watch for free at The Meadows. Next stop, Ocean City, MD, where there’s a 3-mile-long boardwalk with lots of arcades and fast-food… Read More

Small Business Survey: How Are Today’s SMBs Using Technology?

Small Business Survey: How Are Today's SMBs Using Technology? thumbnail

One way to reduce the overhead associated with hiring workers is to make efficient use of technology. According to a recent survey by CompTIA, 73 percent of midsize businesses and 56 percent of firms with fewer than 20 employees say technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives. Budgeting According to the 4Q 2018 survey, the average small/midsize business (SMB) invests anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 a year on technology. About half (52 percent) of small business owners think they’re not spending enough on business technology. Upgrading The largest share of small businesses (36 percent) say that in recent years they’ve focused their technology budget on infrastructure, such… Read More

When Saving for Retirement in Taxable Account Is a Good Idea

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Most people associate saving for retirement with tax deferred or non-taxable accounts: 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc. The tax benefits of these types of retirement accounts give individuals advantages over simply investing in a regular taxable brokerage account.   Savings for retirement in a standard taxable account can also have its place – and the option shouldn’t be ignored. In this article, we’ll look at a handful of reasons why doing so might just be the best option. Your employer doesn’t offer 401(k), 403(b) or similar type plan Some employers, especially very small ones, don’t offer retirement plan options to their employees due to the cost or administrative… Read More

How Will Increased Business Productivity Impact Business Earnings Reports?

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During the first three months of 2019, non-farm labor productivity grew 3.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is coupled with a 4.1 percent increase in output, along with hours worked increasing by one-half of one percent. Comparing the rates from 2019’s Q1 to the first three months of 2018, productivity grew by 2.4 percent, year over year. Looking at the trend over 12 months, the BLS reported a 3.9 percent uptick in output and a 1.5 percent uptick in hours worked.  With the BLS defining the non-farm business sector accounting for nearly four-fifths (77 percent) of America’s gross domestic product, it’s still noteworthy to see… Read More

How to Make the Most of Margins and Markups

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When it comes to gross margins and the American economy, they vary widely throughout the country’s industries. When New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business recently compiled gross margin statistics for January 2019, they found the low end includes the Auto and Truck industry with a gross margin of 11.45 percent and the Oilfield Services/Equipment industry with a gross margin of 10.70 percent. On the top end, the General and Diversified Real Estate industry saw a gross margin of 73.08 percent and the Investments and Asset Management industry saw a 70.67 percent gross margin. While these gross margins are divergent, understanding more about gross margins gives better context… Read More

Social Security: News, Tips and Trends

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There are a number of threats that both retirees and pre-retirees are facing right now when it comes to drawing Social Security benefits. For example, there’s a new scam this year. Seniors are being solicited by callers who claim to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The caller says he regrets to inform that the elderly person’s Social Security payments have been suspended. The caller says it’s either because the beneficiary has been involved in a crime or there has been suspicious activity related to their benefit. Here’s the interesting part: the caller then requests that the senior repay a certain amount of his benefit to Social Security by… Read More

Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests

Enhanced Funding for Shooting Practice and Bulletproof Vests thumbnail

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act (H.R. 1222 – The Pittman-Robertson Act, passed in 1937, imposes an excise tax on the sale of firearms, archery gear and ammunition. Those proceeds are used to fund hunter education programs, land acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat. This new bill allocates a higher portion of these federal funds to cover the cost for construction and expansion of public target ranges. The act is designed to encourage states to develop additional shooting ranges for marksmanship training. It was introduced on Feb. 14 by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), passed in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president on… Read More

Disaster Assistance, Heroes and Gang Members

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017 (H.R. 601) – This act temporarily lifts the nation’s debt ceiling, funding the federal government through Dec. 8, as well as delivering the first installment of emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey. It also temporarily extends the National Flood Insurance Program for the same time frame. The program, which was set to expire Sept. 30, gives Congress more time to pass longer-term legislation. And finally, the bill amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide additional direction and scrutiny over U.S. assistance to developing countries for quality basic education – to ensure efforts are aligned with… Read More

Small Business Embracing Chatbot Technology

In the past, small business owners sometimes lacked the resources – both financial and human – to capitalize upon the latest productivity and customer service technologies. Fortunately, the pace of change and the proliferation of new software programs have begun to make innovative technology accessible and affordable. Chatbots – software programs that can hold a two-way conversation with people – are a prime example of accessible and affordable technology. Why Now? Language is a complex process and, until recently, teaching a machine how to understand different jargon, accents and all the other variables involved in speech was only partially successful. Today, programmers use different methods to teach a machine to… Read More

Are You Plagued by Productivity Busters

How much time do your employees squander on various distractions that take their time and attention away from work? Recent surveys from staffing organizations suggest that almost half of participating employers believe the majority of their workers lose one to two hours a day in productivity due to distractions.  In some instances, employers estimated that workers were distracted for as much three or even four hours a day. If you are thinking that personal technology is the problem here (it is an important factor), be aware that good old-fashioned gossiping and snack breaks also feature in the top issues cited by major employers. Here’s a list of the most common… Read More