Day: November 4, 2013

Financial Focus

Year-End Planning to Help You Lower Your Tax Bill

Callout: Consider taking losses before gains, since unused losses may be carried forward for use in future years, while gains must be taken in the year they are realized.   As the end of the year draws near, the last thing anyone wants to think about is taxes. But if you are looking for ways to minimize your tax bill, there’s no better time for tax planning than before year-end. That’s because there are a number of tax-smart strategies you can implement now that will reduce your tax bill come April 15. And, with the higher rates put in place with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, being tax efficient is more important than ever.   Put Losses to Work If you expect to realize either short- or long-term capital gains, the IRS allows you to offset these gains with capital losses. Short-term gains (gains on assets held less than a year) are taxed at ordinary rates, which range from 10% to 39.6%, and can be offset with short-term losses. Long-term gains (gains on assets held longer than a year) are taxed at a top rate of 20% and can be reduced by long-term capital losses.1 To the extent that losses exceed gains, you can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses against ordinary income on that year’s tax return and carry forward any unused losses for future years.   Given these rules, there are several actions you should consider: Avoid short-term gains when possible, as these are taxed at higher ordinary rates. Unless you have short-term losses to offset them, try holding the assets for at least one year. Take a good look at your portfolio before year-end and estimate your gains and losses. Some investments, such as mutual funds, incur trading gains or losses…

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First Blush

First Blush – November 2013

  Headbands Autumn can be a tricky time for beauty. For many of us it’s somewhat of an awkward in-between season in which our skin is losing the last of its sun kissed summer glow, where your skin isn’t quite oily but not quite dry, your leg stubble becomes less of a concern, and your hair has become dull, limp, and seems to be suffering from early onset static. It’s easy to look blah and feel blah in this pre-holiday season slump. From fancy airbrushed spray tans, extensive waxing treatments, and high-maintenance highlights, you can waste a ton of money remedying most of these cold weather beauty blues, and with gift shopping right around the corner most folks are trying to save a buck. This season why not look to one of the fastest, simplest, and cheapest ways to give yourself a little pick-me-up; the headband! Lazy girls rejoice! With practical zero effort, headbands allow your locks a break from the blow dryer, hide bed-head and gym hair, rein in unruly flyaways, and polish up any look in a cinch. Plus it’s a welcomed change from your standard winter beanie. Adorning your noggin with a little unexpected flair is an effortless way to stay on trend this Fall, not to mention rake in the compliments from coworkers and commuters alike. Seen all over the catwalk and sidewalk, there are so many styles of headbands and scarves currently in style that there’s a look to suit every personality and occasion. From a Rosie-the-Riveter headscarf look to a glammed out sparkle crown, there’s something for everyone. When your mane is looking as bleak and dreary as the bitter November weather and you can’t bear to bother with fussy hot tools or hair-mashing hats, simply top off your look with the perfect chic…

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Exploring VA Wines

Exploring VA Wines – November 2013

The seasons are changing once again. The grapevine leaves are falling along with the other leaves in the area. I am looking forward to taking advantage of some down time, but it seems rather elusive. Just as the last of the red grapes get pressed, I am preparing our label order for a December bottling run. As soon as the tasting room staff gets decorated with pumpkins and fall colors, it is time to order the holiday items that will be sold in the room. Does this perpetual motion machine have an off switch? I do think it is critical to pause and reflect on what has worked well this year and what can use some improvement. I continue to hear positive feedback about our winery and the others across Virginia. We all put a lot of energy into training our teams, caring for our vines and babying the wines into the bottle. It is great to receive recognition for the quality from so many people.   I do recognize the fact that there are probably some folks that have issues when they realize that the little gem of a winery that they discovered a few years ago is not so little anymore. That challenge is one that is faced by many successful businesses. How can you grow a business to a sustainable size and not lose the small, cozy feeling? Some wineries have well-constructed business plans while others (like ours) grows and changes with the grapes available and the demand from the customer. My challenge is trying to understand how to slow (or stop) the growth in order to plan better and be sustainable. I also do not want our customers experience or the wine quality to be a victim of our rapid growth. Recognizing this challenge is important…

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Spiritual Renaissance

What if IT doesn’t go the way you planned?

In this case “It” could be a job interview, a new product launch, a salary negotiation or a potential client call, or something else that you were really jazzed & positively nervous/excited about.   It’s all fine to bandy about cliches like,  “When a door closes, God always opens a window” and “There’s always a silver lining to every cloud,” but those positive thoughts fly out the window when YOUR personal thing seems to tank before your very eyes.   You’re not a bad person for being ticked off and angry when things didn’t go the way you hoped.  You are not unworthy or less than and the Universe is not trying to make you jump through more hoops until you learn your lessons.   Sure, there’s likely something better out there. How you get from feeling kicked in the teeth to the something better is where most otherwise brilliant women get stuck. Instead of surrendering the outcome  and moving onward and upward, after a brief period of licking your wounds,  you get bogged down in a litany of everything that’s wrong with you – starting with the “stupid” belief that this thing could have succeeded in the first place! Trust me, this is something I know first-hand!   Here are some tips for avoiding the self-flagellation and keeping your positive momentum, even in the midst of apparent failure:   Assess the situation with your logical brain. Remove any and all emotional language and write up a report on the entire process from beginning to end. If you can’t remove the emotional language and thoughts find a good friend or coach to talk through the process with you. Ask them to “delete” any emotional language and replace with factual words.   Walk away! Get out in nature, spend time with…

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Single Space

Otherwise Engaged

Dear Steve – Put down your fishing rod and sit down.  It finally happened.  I’m engaged.  I’ve been waiting a long time to write those words to my fellow columnist, Steve Chaconas.  He’s enjoyed at least a decade of being entertained by my dating stories of both woe and “whoa!”  “But Lori, I don’t get it,” he’d say as he was drawing back to cast his line. “What are these guys thinking? – More importantly, what are YOU thinking?”  Now the question is, “what took you so long?”  The truth of the matter, I guess, is that I just wasn’t ready. It literally took meeting the right guy – actually – let me rephrase that – letting the right guy into my life.  I guess you could say that for most of my dating life I was ‘otherwise engaged’ in allowing the wrong men into my life.   For those of you who have been a serial reader of Single Space, you likely know and appreciate my dating journey and maybe it’s even helped yours – or at least provided some “oh no – she didn’t!” moments and laughs. As I recently told my good friend, Lisa, I feel like the poster child for Kay Jewelers. If nothing else, perhaps you’ve picked up a nugget of wisdom along the way or maybe I’ve spared you from a dating faux pas or 12. No doubt I made pretty much every mistake there is to make and then some.  The most important lesson for me in my dating and relationship journey, however, was to understand that at the end of the day, I deserved better. I was picking (and letting myself be picked by) the wrong people and scratching my head wondering why it wasn’t working. Duh. It wasn’t working because he…

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Featured Post


BRISTOE STATION AND THE MINE RUN CAMPAIGN LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN AND MISSIONARY RIDGE Following Gettysburg, both armies resumed their old positions along the Rappahannock.  Criticized for not aggressively pursuing Lee during his retreat from Gettysburg and for generalized inactivity thereafter, Meade embarks on a series of maneuvers and inconclusive skirmishes in September, then begins to settle into winter quarters.  Lee intends to surprise Meade with a wide flanking maneuver, but Federal signalmen have broken the Confederate semaphore code and warn that Lee is on the move.  Meade pulls his army back across the Rappahannock into Fauquier County. By October 13th, Lee is in Warrenton, with his goal to get behind Meade and engage him before the Yankees can find refuge behind the strong fortifications surrounding Centreville.  The Confederates are moving fast and Stuart’s cavalry catches up with the Federal Second Corps near Auburn on the morning of October 14th.  Stuart’s horse artillery startles the Yankees, who as usual underrate their opponents’ ability to cover distance fast.  Stuart’s cavalry and Ewell’s infantry follow on the shelling, dislodging the Federal Second Corps.  All signs are that the Yankees are retreating toward Centreville as fast as their feet can take them. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the weary Second Corps halts behind the Orange & Alexandria Railroad near Bristoe Station; the railway embankments not only conceal the Federals, but make a fine fortification to fight behind.  A.P. Hill is in a hurry when he reaches Bristoe and finds the Federal Third and Fifth Corps crossing Broad Run.  Sensing opportunity, Hill throws Heth’s division forward without taking time to reconnoiter.  As the advance elements of Heth’s force fall upon the Yankees trapped behind Broad Run, they draw fire from their flank.  Moving for the shelter of the railway embankment, they blunder straight into the Second Corps,…

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From the Bay

To Sail or Not To Sail

  You really shouldn’t go sailing today. Your cell phone’s Weatherbug app predicts sunshine and a high of 65 degrees. Accu-Weather forecasts 10 to 15 knots from the west, with gusts up to 20. The skipper’s swapping out the genoa for the slimmer “winter” jib so that the guests, Karen and Don—sailors who recently relocated here and haven’t been on the water for a while—will be comfortable. Wow, it’s beautiful outside. The leaves are rustling, yellow and orange, with patches of red. Such beauty does not last for long. Two precious weeks, max, until the leaves drop. But you really shouldn’t go sailing today. Deadlines are deadlines, and you’re a professional on a deadline. You’re behind schedule. Your penchant for procrastination is taxing on your teammates… and yourself. Remember the many readers who stopped by the booth during the sailboat show to say, “We love your articles!” You bask in such comments. They are your lifeblood. You don’t let yourself think about how these long days at the show will tax your brain, fill your e-mail box, and mysteriously wreck your desk. Until three days before the November print deadline, and you receive an invitation to go sailing on one of the prettiest days of the year. Then, you remember how much work you have left to do. Sailing would be foolish. All the excuses you have, real ones. The cat’s sick. Your clothes are dirty. The most nourishing food in your refrigerator are five apples, one egg, and a half cucumber that’s on the soggy side. And you have a heap of work to do. You really shouldn’t go sailing today. The skipper has even given you an out. “Just send a text if you decide not to go. No big deal.” He’s not short-handed. He doesn’t need you…

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Caribbean Connection

Ridge to Reef Farm: Organic Food Deliveries in Paradise

Living on a tropical island certainly has its advantages — beautiful beaches, crystal clear turquoise bays and lush, green hillsides. Head into a grocery store, however, and get ready to catch your dropping jaw. Last time my Mom was visiting, she offered to make one of my favorite dishes, eggplant parmesan. When she realized the small, scraggly looking eggplants were skyward of $7 each, not per pound, we decided a nice chicken dish would be just fine. Eggplants are not alone; many items on St. John are expensive. Gasoline, milk and eggs, you’re going to pay more for them here than you would stateside. These items, and eggplants, kale, tomatoes, etc., are all imported and you have to pay for that; it’s the cost of living in paradise. But you do hope that after paying $7 for the eggplant, it at least is good, great even. Sadly that is often not the case. These very expensive vegetables must be picked well before they are ripe in order to be shipped to the islands; this really affects the taste. And I’m not talking about organic produce here, just your run of the mill produce isle. So when the opportunity arose to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with the sole U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic farm in the Virgin Islands, I jumped at the chance. Ridge to Reef Farm is nestled in a lush tropical rainforest area of St. Croix, which is about 40 miles south of St. John. Owned and operated by Georgia transplant Nate Olive and his island wife Shelli Brin-Olive, Ridge to Reef Farm is also the home of the V.I. Sustainable Farms Institute, which is dedicated to nothing less than changing local resident’s relationship to food. The farm’s primary goals are to feed one percent…

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From the Trainer

November Fitness!

I can’t believe it’s already November! This year has been a crazy one. My wife and I have decided to pursue new careers. I was accepted into a Diagnostic Medical Imaging program back in July to learn about echocardiography and vascular sonography. After twenty one months, this means I’ll be able to scan hearts, arteries, and veins using ultrasound. The acceptance was exciting, but required us to relocate to the Denver area. It’s taken some time to get adjusted to the big city, but in the midst of major life changes, we’ve managed to keep exercise a part of our regular routine. The next two months will be no exception especially during the holiday season. I challenge you to include exercise as a part of your life even during the turbulent times. At the very least, it can alleviate stress that may burden you. With that in mind, I’ll keep rolling out new exercises for you to try. This month’s exercise is called the Bosu Dumbbell Side Raise. It challenges your balance and coordination plus builds upper-body strength all in one exercise! The DB side raise targets the muscles of the shoulders and upper back. Standing on top of a Bosu Balance Trainer will test your balance. Trying to do both simultaneously requires some coordination. To start, grab a Bosu and a pair of DBs. I should mention here that the amount of air inside a Bosu will determine its balance difficulty. A greater amount of air (firmer) provides a more stable surface making it easier to balance. A smaller amount of air (softer) provides a less stable surface making it harder to balance. Now that we got that straight, step on top of the Bosu of your choice with DBs in hand. Place the feet hip-width apart, knees slightly…

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