Norton Accounting Services, LLC - January 2020

NortonAccountingServices.com 985-640-6072 Info@NortonAccountingServices.com JANUARY 2020 NORTON NEWSLETTER EASE OF MIND • AVAILABILITY • FLEXIBILITY • INDIVIDUAL APPROACH • EXPERIENCE • TAX SAVINGS OPPORTUNITIES THE REAL ESTATE TAX PRO ™

FROM THE DESK OF Bob Norton

Happy New Year! I’m not big on

making New Year’s resolutions, because I’m constantly working on several goals at any point in

time. However, the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on how you are progressing toward your goals. If you are not progressing as quickly as you would like, I’d like to make a simple suggestion for you that helped me. And it is this: Focus on the goal that will have the most impact on your life. Last March, I attended a conference session led by one of my mentors, Dan Kennedy. He said that most of his new clients come to him for advice on new ventures, and he always asks them if their existing business is currently running at capacity, to which most replied, “No.”Dan told them to refocus their effort to fill that capacity first. I realized that I also had unfilled capacity. So I focused on filling my business’s capacity, and growth took off. That just goes to show that one secret to success is focus.

D on ’ t L et the S eason S top Y our F un in the K itchen AWINTER FOOD WONDERLAND

If you do your best to eat seasonally, you’re not alone. In recent years, more and more people have embraced the idea of eating fresh, local produce that cycles throughout the year. Some choose the path for health reasons — studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables, which are more common on small farms, have 20–40% more antioxidants than conventionally grown ones —while others want to decrease the carbon footprint of the food on their plates to help fight climate change. Regardless of the reason why, many have embraced this simple fact: The fresher produce is, the better it tastes! A tomato engineered to travel hundreds of miles to your dinner table just doesn’t pack the same flavor punch as one picked in your own backyard. In the spring, summer, and even the fall, eating seasonally is relatively easy. If you have access to a farmers market or local co-op, it’s no doubt bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables during the warmer months. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, salad greens, peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries — all of these tasty foods and more overflow in the spring and summer. Once fall arrives, an abundance of squash and apples shows up to complement the summer bounty. Winter, however, is another story. When the weather turns chilly, berries and delicate greens disappear, and produce in general seems scarce, which can make it feel impossible to eat seasonally.

-Bob Norton

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However, even when there’s snow on the ground, there is more seasonal food out there than you might think! Here are just a few of the fresh vegetables and fruits the U.S. has to offer in winter:

• • • • • • • • •

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

• • • • • • • • •

Carrots

Winter squash

Beets

Turnips Parsnips

Onions

Garlic

Rutabagas

Broccoli Cabbage

Winter radishes

Celeriac

Pomegranates

Citrus fruits

Leeks

Kale

Brussels sprouts

Root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and beets are ideal for roasting and can pair with bread and cheese for hearty, warming dishes like roasted root vegetable salad (see FoodNetwork. com for a great recipe), shaved carrot tart with ricotta (Saveur.com), or chicken and root vegetable soup (BonAppetit.com). If you’re missing the fruits of summer, try adding pomegranates and citrus to your diet and seek out farmers who offer canned, frozen, or preserved local fruit throughout the year. A bag of frozen strawberries can make an excellent pie, and canned peaches are delicious on ice cream!

massage the leaves with olive oil and let them chill in the fridge overnight. Some farmers even have greenhouses that enable them to grow herbs, leafy lettuces, and other warm-weather delights year-round. If you’re struggling to find sources for local, seasonal produce, don’t worry; the internet has your back. Websites like LocalHarvest.org can connect you with farmers, farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, and food events in your area. Just type in your zip code, and its search engine will offer up suggestions on where to shop. With resources like this at your disposal, there’s no reason to quit the kitchen this winter. In fact, you might just discover a new favorite dish!

Winter greens like kale can make for delicious versions of your favorite salads, too, and if you’re concerned about kale’s toughness, simply

Ctrl, Alt, Delete Your Clutter

TIPS FOR NATIONAL CLEAN UP YOUR COMPUTER MONTH

Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean UpYour Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order. Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removingmost of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean thembetter. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing themback into your computer. START BY DUSTING

ORGANIZE YOUR FILES

CLEAN UP SPACE

Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need. Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about howmuch room is left. BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER

Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin— it’s easy to forget just howmuch goes in there.

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SOCIAL SECURITY IN 2020 Know What’s Changing

If you’re in the appropriate age bracket, Social Security may play a major role in your finances. So, it’s important to know how Social Security will be changing in 2020.

be able to start taking some benefits at age 62, but they’ll be at reducedmonthly payments.

TAXES

How much your benefits are taxed depends on your household income levels. For example, 50% of your benefits will be taxed if you make between $25,000–$34,000 individually or $32,000–$44,000 for married couples. If you’re above that income bracket, then 85% of your benefits will be taxable.

COST OF LIVING

Low inflation means that Social Security benefits will only see a minor cost of living increase. This year, it’s expected to be around 1.6%. It’s not major, but if you’re living off Social Security alone, every penny is important.

TRUST FUND

Unless Congress takes some drastic actions in the coming months, the current excess trust fund revenue will be depleted by the year 2034. If that happens, Social Security will only be able to pay 79% of the promised benefits from ongoing payroll taxes. You may need to think about what your financial plan would be like with 21% less income.

MAXIMUM BENEFITS

Those near the top of the Social Security income scale in 2019 will see an increase in their maximum payout in 2020. The maximum payout for an individual will be capped at $2,861 per month. That translates to $34,332 per year, so consider how that may impact your finances.

RETIREMENT AGE

If you haven’t reached retirement yet, this one is important to consider. If you were born after 1959, the full retirement age is now 67 for you. You’ll still

Take a Break!

Inspired by The New York Times

Everyone should be able to make pancakes without a boxed mix. This recipe is no-frills fantastic and can probably be made without so much as a trip to the grocery store. Simple Pancakes From Scratch

Ingredients

• • • •

2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder

• • •

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

1/4 tsp salt

Unsalted butter or canola oil, to grease skillet

1 tbsp sugar, optional

Directions

1. Heat a griddle or skillet to medium-low. 2. In a mixing bowl, combine

3. Add some butter or oil to the skillet. If the butter foams or oil shimmers, the temperature is correct. Pour in a pancake of any size, cooking until bubbles form, about 2–4 minutes. 4. Flip and cook other side for 2–4 minutes. Serve warm.

dry ingredients (including sugar if you like a sweeter pancake). In a separate bowl, beat eggs intomilk. Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. Mix only until flour is moistened. Clumps are fine.

CELEBRATE CHAMPAGNE CONFETTI COUNTDOWN

GOALS JANUARY JANUS MIDNIGHT

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION TOAST WINTER

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of Bob PAGE 1 How to Eat SeasonallyThrough the Winter PAGE 1 Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer PAGE 2 Changes to Social Security in 2020 PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Simple Pancakes From Scratch PAGE 3 These Health Hoaxes Will Sink Your Resolution PAGE 4 The new year is a great time tomake your health a priority again, and there are a bunch of workouts and diet plans to choose from. Too many, some might say. It can be difficult to determine exactly which health plan will help you reach your goals, but there are some pretty obvious red flags that you’ll want to avoid. BEWARE THE DREADED‘DETOX’ Plenty of diets, supplements, and products claim to“purify”your body by removing unspecified “toxins.”These“detoxes”conveniently forget that your kidneys and liver are already removing substances your body doesn’t need! The human body has been capable of cleansing itself for thousands of years. It doesn’t need a special smoothie or footpads to get the job done. Most detox products are nothing but snake oil, and some of them can leave you feeling worse than you did before you started using them. Unless you have been diagnosed with a disease

MEDICAL MIRACLE OR HEALTH HOAX?

3 Red Flags to Watch Out For

that would impair your liver or kidneys, you don’t need to spend extra money to keep your insides clean. A healthy diet is enough. CELLULITE ISN’T REAL In 1968, Vogue magazine introduced American women to the word“cellulite,”warning them of a terrible“diagnosed”condition women suffered from. They encouraged the use of a special rolling pin to banish the little lumps of fat on women’s thighs and buttocks. Since then, cellulite has been used as shorthand tomean “bad body fat you need to remove.”But cellulite is not an indication of poor health. Furthermore, there’s no cure for cellulite because it’s not a disease. It would be like using a special lotion that claims it can remove the wrinkled skin on your knuckles! Most people, especially women, have cellulite. It’s perfectly natural!

clear indication these treatments aren’t based on real medical science.

CURE-ALLS CURE NOTHING A“cure-all”is any product, treatment, or diet that claims to cure a bunch of unrelatedmedical problems. Cure-alls have been a problem for centuries, claiming to help with weight loss, migraines, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and even baldness! This isn’t howmedicine or the human body works. One change cannot magically fix many different, sometimes unrelated, problems.

A good way to determine if something is a cure- all is to check if it claims to help treat, prevent, or cure

cancer. That’s a big red flag you want to avoid.

If you want to get in shape this year, avoid diets or products that claim tomelt cellulite. This is a

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