CPA’S 2.0 - Budget Week


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In what might soon be labeled the “DIY Age,” makeshift independence thrives, while investments dwindle. Grunge artists are fashionable; affluent businessmen are thieves. Most fascinating of all, young people seek advice not from the traditional sage, rather they heed the instruction of blogs, Twitter experts, and social connects to search for information on everything from health, legal affairs, and, assuredly, financial counsel. The trusty accountant has lost his eminence in a time where most computations can be done online, and budget tips available left and right after a simple Google search.

Nevertheless, the result of this shifting fiscal consciousness has not necessarily proven promising, as not only is America piled high in debt, joblessness and foreclosure, but few members of the Millennial brigade show due diligence to budgeting their funds and balancing their checkbooks, if checkbooks aren’t already relics of the past. The lack of an established approach to banking spreads far and wide, from those scraping to make a dollar to their counterparts at the top of the food chain. According to an article on, “Cisco interviewed folks under 50 with more than $500,000 in investable funds about how they manage their wealth and investments and found that increasing, they’re turning to Facebook and the Internet… More than 25 percent of the demographic had switched financial advisors in the last two years (compared to 7 percent of older respondents), and a third planned to leave their current adviser within the next year (versus 8 percent). Why the exodus? They think they can do better on their own.”

And maybe they can. Search “do my own taxes” and a slew of sites and advice posts arrive. The IRS even offers suggestions using Free File, a software program that enables anyone to do their own taxes and file online without spending additional money. ‘Tis but another example of the Internet outsourcing people, though there are always fundamental, proven recommendations that any DIY accountant should follow.

Here are a few rules of thumb from a bona fide financial advisor, CPA David Aron of Rifkin Associates:

–       Start a 401K – Very important! If you work at a company that offers one, match the company offer. “A lot of people don’t do anything, but you must do something.” If you’re job doesn’t offer a 401K, enroll in an IRA account with your bank.

–       Live within your means, “The big mistake young people make is running up a lot of credit card debt.” Aron also admits many people now are not making enough money to save, so he says the least you can do it stick to a budget.

–       On that note, choose the right credit card. You should only go with one that has interest rates in the single digits, as it could takes umpteen years making minimum payments to see the light. Additionally, cards advertising additionally incentives (i.e. frequent flyer miles) can often be the worst as they come with fees and higher rates.

–       Don’t overstress about retirement. “Everyone’s plan is different…For those who end up with a pension at their jobs, they may not have to save anything…Others can’t retire until they’ve saved millions.” If you’re young and struggling, stick to a budget and slowly ease into a savings plan. The most essential point is don’t spend what you don’t have.