Articles for November 2019

Cash Flow Management

An underappreciated fundamental in financial planning.

You’ve probably heard the saying that “cash is king,” and that truth applies whether you own a business or not. Most discussions of business and personal “financial planning” involve tomorrow’s goals, but those goals may not be realized without attention to cash flow, today.

Management of available cash flow is a key in any kind of financial strategy. Ignore it, and you may inadvertently sabotage your efforts to grow your company or even build personal wealth.  

Cash flow statements (CFS) are important for any business. They can reveal so much to the owner(s) and/or CFO, because as they track inflows and outflows, they bring expenditures to light. They denote your sources and uses of cash, per month and per year. Income statements and P&L statements may provide inadequate clues about that, even though they help you forecast cash flow trends.

Cash flow statements can tell you what P&L statements won’t. Are you profitable, but cash poor? If your company is growing by leaps and bounds, that can happen. Are you personally taking too much cash out of the business? That may inadvertently transform your growth company into a lifestyle company. Are your receivables getting out of hand? Is inventory growth a concern? If you’ve arranged a loan, how much is your principal payment each month and to what degree is that eating up cash in your business? How much money are you spending on capital equipment?

A good CFS tracks your operating, investing, and financing activities. Hopefully, the sum of these activities results in a positive number at the bottom of the CFS. If not, the business may need to change.

In what ways can a small business improve cash flow management? There are some fairly simple ways to do it, and your CFS can typically identify the factors that may be sapping your cash flow. You may find that your suppliers or vendors are too costly; maybe you can negotiate (or even barter) with them. Like many companies, you may find your cash flow surges during some quarters or seasons of the year and wanes during others. Maybe you could take steps to improve it outside of the peak season or quarter.

What kind of recurring, predictable sales can your business generate? You might want to work on the art of continuity sales – turning your customers into something like subscribers to your services. Perhaps price points need adjusting. As for lingering receivables, swiftly preparing and delivering invoices tends to speed up cash collection. Another way to get clients to pay faster: offering a slight discount if they pay up, say, within a week (and/or a slight penalty to those who don’t). Before you go to work for a client or customer, think about asking for some cash up front (if you don’t do this already).

Relatively few small business owners look to home equity as a source of a business loan or a line of credit. Only 7%, in fact, according to the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, only 6% explore a mortgage refinancing. But why are there so few? It could be that the repayment terms might be intimidating as well as the inherent risk of placing your home on the line. That said, it may be a suitable option for some seeking to start a small business.1

Be that as it may, there is a temptation for an owner of a new venture to get a high-limit business credit card. It might be better to shop for one with cash back possibilities or business rewards in mind. If your business somehow isn’t set up to receive credit card payments, think about how the potential for added cash flow could render the processing fees utterly trivial.1

How can a household better its cash flow? One quick way to do it is to lessen or reduce your fixed expenses, specifically loan and rent payments. Another step is to impose a ceiling on your variable expenses (ranging from food to entertainment), and you may also save some money in separating some or all those expenses from credit card use. Refinancing – if you can do it – and downsizing can certainly help. There are many free cash flow statement tools online where you can track family inflows and outflows. (Your outflows may include items like long-term service contracts and installment payment plans.) Selling things you don’t want could make you money in the short term; converting a hobby into an income source or business venture might help in the long term.

Better cash flow boosts your potential to reach your financial goals. A positive cash flow can contribute to investment, compounding, savings – all the good things that tend to happen when you pay yourself first.


Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – entrepreneur.com/article/336037 [7/1/19]

 

Facts About Medicare Open Enrollment

How much do you know about the different coverage options?

Medicare’s open enrollment period runs through December 7. If you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you will discover that it is much more complex than an employer-sponsored group health plan.1

When you are enrolled in Medicare, you pay multiple premiums for multiple types of coverage (Parts A and B as well as the Part D prescription drug plan), and unlike a group health plan, there are no caps on out-of-pocket costs and a risk that you might have to pay a hospital insurance deductible more than once per year. Original Medicare also does not cover some costs that many seniors would like to cover, such as dental and vision care expenses.2,3

This is why so many retirees decide to buy Medigap policies or enroll in comprehensive Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans – they recognize the shortcomings of original Medicare. The downside of Part C plans is that you are restricted to the doctors in their networks. Original Medicare allows you to choose any doctor that accepts Medicare (though it is smart to have a Medigap policy as well).1,3

You can freely switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another in the open enrollment period; you can also enroll in one without having to go through underwriting. If you want to move from a Part C plan back into original Medicare, you may not be able to supplement Parts A and B with a Medigap plan right away because underwriting will be required.3,4  

Whether you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time or considering a change in coverage, it is vital to understand these matters. If you have questions, visit Medicare.gov or ssa.gov/medicare for more information.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com.

www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – cbsnews.com/news/medicare-open-enrollment-2019-change-plans-or-stay-with-what-you-have/ [10/11/19]

2 – medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance [11/4/19]

3 – money.com/money/5659788/medicare-open-enrollment-date/ [10/15/19]

4 – medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/12026-Understanding-Medicare-Advantage-Plans.pdf [9/19]

 

 

 

Cybersecurity

Protecting yourself from potential calamity.

Cybercrime affects both large corporations and private individuals. You’ve likely read about the large data breaches in the business world. These crimes are both expensive and on the rise. The U.S. Identity Theft Resource Center says that these corporate data breaches reached a peak of 1,632 in 2017. The response to the growing need for data protection has been swift and powerful; venture capitalists have invested $5.3 billion into cybersecurity firms.1

That’s good news for the big companies, but what about for the individual at home? What can you do to protect data breaches to your personal accounts?

For most private individuals, the key idea is to both:

* Know what to do if you’ve had a data breach.

* Know what you can do that might help prevent a data breach.

Total cybersecurity for your financial matters isn’t something that can be strategized in a single short article like this one, but I would like to offer you two suggestions that can help you get started. Both can be done from home and represent reactive and preventative measures.

Credit Freeze. By reactive, I mean that a step that you can take after the fact. In many cases, a credit freeze might be a reaction to identity theft or a data breach. What it specifically does is restrict access to your credit report, which has information that could be used to open new lines of credit in your name. The freeze prevents this, but it will not prevent a criminal from, for instance, using an active credit card number, if they’ve discovered it. For that reason, you still have to monitor for unauthorized transactions during the freeze.2

While the freeze is in place, you can still get your free annual credit report. You also won’t have issues with credit background searches for job or renter’s applications or when you buy insurance – the freeze doesn’t affect those areas of your credit history. You can even apply for a new line of credit during a credit freeze, though that requires a temporary or permanent elimination of the freeze during the process. This can be done through either a call to the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) or a visit to their respective websites.2

Password Manager. This is a preventative measure. Yes, we all know the poor soul who uses “Password” as their password. While you are probably not that far gone, the truth is that there are many tricks that cybercrooks use to learn or intuit our passwords. In fact, 20% of Internet consumers have experienced some sort of account compromise. That comes at a time when about 70% of consumers operate 10 or more accounts. A few, against best practice, will use the same password across each of those accounts. A good security measure against that is password manager software – applications that allow us to keep all our numerous passwords encrypted in a vault and drop them into our browsers when requested. While yes, there are options to save these passwords, encrypted on most browsers, these security measures are limited. Password managers are focused solely on security and are more frequently updated than the browser security features might be. That attention might be difference between a criminal obtaining access to your sensitive personal information or being blocked in the attempt.3,4

While this is a very basic pair of tips, they are worth thinking about and may prove to be helpful in your efforts to prevent identity theft. There are, however, additional, more-advanced choices for you to explore. Talk with your trusted financial professional about other cybersecurity best practices that you might consider.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/10/09/the-need-for-a-breakthrough-in-cybersecurity/ [10/9/19]

2 – consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs [9/2019]
3 – wired.com/story/best-password-managers/ [9/25/19]

4 – digitalguardian.com/blog/uncovering-password-habits-are-users-password-security-habits-improving-infographic [12/18/18]

 

Spotting Credit Trouble

How to check for problems.

Americans aged 45 to 54, who have credit card balances, carry an average debt of $9,096 per individual.1

The wise use of credit is a critical skill in today’s world. Used unwisely, however, credit can rapidly turn from a useful tool to a crippling burden. There are several warning signs that you may be approaching credit problems:

Have you used one credit card to pay off another?

Have you used credit card advances to pay bills?

Do you regularly use a charge card because you are short on cash?

Do you charge items you might not buy if you were paying cash?

Do you need to use your credit card to buy groceries?

Are you reluctant to open monthly statements from creditors?

Do you regularly charge more each month than you pay off?

Do you write checks today on funds to be deposited tomorrow?

Do you apply for new credit cards, so you can increase borrowing?

Are you receiving late and over-limit credit card charges?

It is important to recognize the warning signs of potential credit problems. The quicker corrective action is taken the better. Procrastinating is almost a sure way to guarantee that you may face financial difficulty down the road.

The lowdown on those free credit scores.  Did you know the credit score provided to you may be different from the one provided to lenders?

The first thing you should know is that you have a right to see your credit report once annually without cost. To receive your free credit report you can visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

This report will contain important information that may affect your credit score.

While your credit report can be obtained for free, your credit score will cost you money, except if you have been denied a loan based on your credit score, in which case you may obtain your credit score for free.

Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, which considers past and current credit activities, including any late payments, judgments, liens, bankruptcies, and foreclosures.

When you see an offer for getting your free credit score, it may be a marketing-driven incentive to get you to sign up for a fee-based credit monitoring service. The score may be only available at no cost if you agree to sign up for a trial subscription and don’t cancel prior to the end of that trial period.

The dirty little secret of credit scores. Before you purchase your credit score, understand that the methodology used to calculate the score you buy is different from that used to determine the credit score lenders receive.

There are hundreds of methods for calculating an individual’s credit score, and many lenders use private models with proprietary outcomes. While knowing your credit score may be important, it may be more vital to review your credit report to correct any errors that may be hurting your score and take the necessary steps to improve your credit profile.


Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com.

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities. 

Citations.

1 – thestreet.com/personal-finance/credit-cards/average-credit-card-debt-14863601 [2/14/19]