Tips and toes

We can’t take anything for granted. Each moment that we think everything looks just fine or we think we’ve got it made, it could fall through in a second if we didn’t take the steps to shore it up, to seal it, to insure it, to check and double check,  to defend it properly. Just ask the Falcons, just ask Hillary’s teams in Michigan & Wisconsin, just ask those who were insured by AIG  in 2008 or employed by Enron. So, being mindful of some good tips, actually following through on those tips and staying on our toes can be useful in many aspects of our lives. This week’s blog keeps us on our toes with some tips on what to do to keep the pressure on political leaders and what to do to keep our finances in good shape.

Toes — The Women’s March was always more than just one day. We will stay on our toes for as long as the oval office is occupied by a person who doesn’t accept equal rights for all Americans. It’s a movement to maintain focus on issues important to human rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, equal rights, and many other important issues. A major tip from the Women’s March website, https://www.womensmarch.com/,  was to commit to 10 actions every 10 days for the first 100 days of Trump’s administration.

For the first 10 days the action was to contact one of your Senators about what matters most to you. I visited the offices of both of my Senators and talked to their staff about the importance of the Affordable Care Act; my extreme displeasure on the immigration ban; my desire that they vote no on cabinet nominees Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and Tom Price; and my dissatisfaction that they failed to do their jobs in holding hearings or votes on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland yet were quick to express support for Trump’s nominee Gorsuch. I was very clear in saying that Republican Senators were irresponsible and I was deeply disappointed and ashamed that they set the tone in 2016 of not doing their jobs by not holding hearings or a vote on Judge Garland. They disrespected their office as a Senator and they disrespected President Obama. And they showed cleared extreme partisanship by now quickly and simply supporting Trump’s nomination of Judge Gorsuch. This is a disgrace.

On the Affordable Care Act, I made it clear that it was irresponsible for my Senators to fall into the trap of “repeal and replace” when there are so many strong and effective provisions of the ACA that are highly beneficial and that everyone believes should be kept. These include:

  • Not being able to charge women higher premiums just because they are women
  • Preventive health care, well-baby care
  • Sons and daughters being able to stay on their parents coverage until age 26
  • Elimination of the $1 million lifetime cap that insurance companies imposed

I mentioned that the Republican party is pro-life so they should be happy that the abortion rate has gone down for the past several years, largely attributable to the ACA and women being able to access birth control and Planned Parenthood services.

I hope each of you reading this blog has contacted your Senators or will do so soon to let them know how you feel about what matters to you. This is how we stay on our toes and keep them on their toes. Democracy works when we hold our elected officials accountable and they know we are paying attention to what they do.

Up next for Women’s March “10 actions in 100 days” is Huddles, I will attend a Huddle in Raleigh on February 10th to define our next steps and envision how to transform this energy we generated in Women’s Marches into local and national actions. #Wewillwin.

Tips — One of the topics for my blog that I indicated I would periodically give information on is financial tips / financial literacy. Even though that is my background, I am not the expert but I am lucky enough to be married to an expert who does financial,  CPA, tax and business advisory services for a living and it helps to fund his weekly golf habit. With one month of 2017 already behind us, here are a few thoughts to keep you on track for the year:

  1. The “fake / alternativefacts IRS” scam calls are still going on. Please know that the IRS is not going to call you and tell you they are filing a lawsuit against you. If you receive a threatening call either on your mobile / cell phone or your home phone, tell them you know this is a scam and hang up. Don’t give any personal information to anyone calling you claiming to be from the IRS. That is just not how the IRS operates. We know of several who got this call just within the past week. I got one of these calls while I was driving from a very heavily accented fellow and I proceeded to use some language that my grandmother would not want me to repeat here. Generally, the first interaction from the IRS is going to be a letter to you or your tax preparer.
  2. It’s not too late to establish a budget for yourself for the year. Don’t give up on the whole year just because you missed (or messed up) the first month. Look at what you spent for 2016 and do a realistic month by month budget … don’t be scared, stick to it!
  3. Charitable contributions – as you are gathering your receipts for your tax return, you can claim contributions that you made. Acknowledgements and receipts are required only if an individual contribution is over $250. If you made non-cash contributions, you should have an itemized list of  what was contributed and the value of each item on the list. You can go online to Goodwill or a similar organization to get a per item estimated contributed value.
  4. Estimated tax payments – If you are self-employed or own your business, you should be making estimated tax payments during 2017 so that you are not caught owing a hefty tax bill at the start of next year when you file your income tax return.
  5. S-Corp – If you operate under an S-Corp structure, you should be paying yourself a reasonable salary. Talk to your CPA to get more information on this.
  6. Retirement plans for self-employed – there are retirement plans you can set up as a sole proprietor. Some simple information is available by visiting the IRS regulations but you should also talk to your CPA or financial advisor. The IRS link to visit is: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-for-self-employed-people.

Here’s a closing tip to keep us on our toes: we do belong to each other. We are on this life journey together. When we identify a topic that matters to us and call our Senator or Congressional Representative, it will matter for someone else too. The marches, protests and rallies have gone on now for more than two weeks. We are being heard. Trump and his team are rattled. Trump craves adoration and is used to bullying others to get it. The protests have shown that his policies are wrong and his lies will not be accepted with blind trust. So, stay on your toes and use what is available to you to stand for what is truth. We are not powerless. We are power-filled, powerful, full of power, filled with power to make ourselves heard by those in power. #Wewillnotbequiet

Post Script: the photo collage are photos that I took during my visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on February 2nd with our son.

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