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Helping your Teen Understand Income Taxes

tax planningThe often-dreaded tax day is just around the corner. But, as this day approaches, whether we’re anticipating it or not, it provides the perfect opportunity for us, as parents, to teach our teens about taxes, and, if they’ve had a part-time job, filing a tax return.

As our children move toward adulthood, they face many milestones. And with these milestones come great opportunities for them to learn important life skills.

The subject of income taxes and income tax filing, like most financial concepts, is not taught in school. Most teen’s initial understanding of taxes and tax filing is limited to the look of anguish they see on their parents’ faces during tax season.

A teen job is likely your child’s first, and no doubt shocking, introduction to the world of taxes. When they receive their first paycheck, they will notice that some of their money has been taken from this vaguely familiar entity called the federal government, and in some cases the state and city governments as well. (The FICA tax is separate discussion.)

Most teens have trouble understanding the tax concept (some adults still do). It seems strange, as well as frustrating, that some of their hard-earned money was deducted for such shared services as government employee benefits, roads and national defense. All they really comprehend at this point in their young, working lives is that these items have affected their cash in hand.

As parents, we can help our teenagers better understand income taxes by explaining the following:

1. Make them aware that when they work and earn money, they have to pay taxes – Explain that when they receive money from a company, the company will take taxes out of their pay and, if they make over a certain amount in a given year (with no unearned income, above $6,300), they will be required to file a separate tax return. (In most cases, a 1040EZ.)

Teens should also understand that even though they may not be required to file a tax return, it might be beneficial for them to do so anyway. If, for example, they’ve worked part-time for an employer, earning less then the required amount, and federal taxes were taken out on that lesser amount, they’ll be due a refund. The only way they can receive this refund is by filing an income tax form.

2. Teens should also become familiar with certain tax forms and paperwork – Explain and help them fill out their W-4 when they land their first job, and how it affects their net income. When they receive their first W-2, go over it with them (even the boxes that don’t pertain to them), and how this form is used to file their tax return. Explain the importance of the form and that it should be kept in a safe place.

3. Teach your teen how to file their own tax return – Now is an ideal time to show them how to file their return because, in most cases, their tax situations are extremely simple.

Many tax preparation software companies, like TurboTax for example, offer free e-filing if certain qualifications are met. (Visit IRS.gov for details and lists of free software options.)

These programs will walk your teen through the process, step-by-step, and keep them updated on the progress of their return. If your teen doesn’t have a checking account already, now is a good time to open one. (Their return can be automatically deposited in their account.) By helping them with this the first time, they’ll soon become old pros.

The bottom line is that it is up to us to teach our children about taxes, returns and the value of a dollar by fully explaining the steps involved in the process and the reasons behind each step they are taking. If you don’t have all the answers…don’t stress…there are plenty resources out there today that you can turn to for help.

Spring Cleaning Safety Tips

Spring has sprung! And so has our sense of urgency to clean our closets, houses, garages and all of the stuff that has piled up over the winter months.  What most of us don’t realize is these chores can be hard on our bodies. In fact, according to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, a national leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, millions of home-related injuries occur every year as we clean our way into the warmer months.

Typically, we all try to do too much too quickly. If you are anything like me, you feel the overwhelming desire to get this done in the shortest time frame possible – warp speed!

Cleaning chores involve stretching, lifting, climbing, pushing, pulling, climbing, twisting and turning – movements most of us don’t do on a regular basis.  Many of these movements use muscles we wouldn’t typically use even in a daily exercise program. In addition, most of us don’t take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries.  Many common injuries are the result of improper bending or lifting or not using our common sense when it comes to safety, e.g. securing and stabilizing a ladder before climbing to reach the hard to reach areas that require our spring cleaning attention.

To help us all get the job done safely and without injury, below are some helpful tips:

  1. Set realistic goals – Rome wasn’t built in a day and either is our thorough annual cleaning. Tackle one project at a time. Spread projects out over a few days or even several weekends.  I know…this is killing you…us… A+ personality types, but this will alleviate our tendency to overdo and give our bodies some rest in between.
  2. Check all equipment that is needed for cleaning projects – Make sure all ladders, stools, etc. are in good solid working order before beginning a project.
  3. Work safely – Make sure all cleaning areas are free of clutter and well lit. Make sure to work in well-ventilated areas when using cleaning solutions and chemicals and keep them away from children and pets.
  4. Ask for help – We have a tendency to think that the only way anything gets done right is if we do it ourselves. Well, that may be true but, other people live in the house and they should all do their part too. Assign tasks so that everyone shares in the workload. In the end, everyone will feel good…especially about the sense of accomplishment.
  5. Use proper cleaning techniques – Using the correct body movements can help minimize risk of injury.   Here are a few recommendations.
    • Lifting and carrying – Always have someone help you with heavy boxes or when moving furniture and remember bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back.
    • Windows – Always keep your feet on the ground or on a secure ladder/step stool.  Never climb on furniture or windowsills.  Yes, I know, we’ve all been guilty of this.  Keep level with the area that is being cleaned to avoid overstretching. Also try to keep your back straight and avoid tilting your head upward or backward, especially for long periods of time.
    • Painting – Always keep paintbrushes and rollers in front of you and waist high. This will avoid stress on the spine.  Looking up at high walls or ceilings for long periods of time puts extra pressure on the neck, which can cause pinching and numbness. Again, although we’d all like to have a freshly painted house before the sun goes down, we will benefit immensely, body and mind, if we practice patience – paint in short intervals and take frequent breaks.

Getting our house in order is good for the body and the soul.  It’s great exercise and we feel such a sense of accomplishment when it is completed.  But, let’s be sensible. We must our limits, take frequent breaks and always drink plenty of fluids.

Here’s to spring!  Now let the cleaning begin!

Dollars and Sense Series – Women in Top-Level Positions in Banking – Flagler’s Intracoastal Bank Leads the Way

Dollars and Sense Series

Women in Top-Level Positions in Banking – Flagler’s Intracoastal Bank Leads the Way

Although women have a predominant presence in the American banking industry today, that same presence is not found at the industry’s senior management level.  Over half of the employees in American banking today are women.  Yet, even with significant efforts of the banking industry as a whole to level the playing field, recruiting and training women for top-level positions, women currently only make up 17.9% of  the top level positions in banking (Graff, E. J., “Discrimination Against Women in Banking”, www.americanbanker.com, October 1, 2011).

In promoting Cheryl Tanenbaum to the position of Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer this past July, Intracoastal Bank, “Flagler’s Home Town Bank”, not only increased the percentage of women in senior level positions, but set precedence in banking in Flagler County.  With approximately eleven banks located in Flagler County, Tanenbaum is the only woman occupying this high level position. Bruce Page, Intracoastal Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and the bank’s Board of Directors are very proud of this significant accomplishment.

Cheryl Tanenbaum, a twenty-two year resident of Flagler County, came to Florida from Plainview, New York, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Communications from Adelphi University.

Tanenbaum has been in banking for twenty-eight years.  She started as a bank teller and diligently worked her way up the ladder.  “I’ve held numerous positions over the years, so I have a broad understanding of banking”, says Tanenbaum.  Upon moving to Florida, she worked for Barnett Bank, which later became Bank of America.  When Tanenbaum left Bank of America in 1999, she was the Assistant Vice President.  She was responsible for the operations of two of the largest branch offices in the Volusia/Flagler market.

Tanenbaum then teamed up with banking veteran Bruce Page and they went on to startup the first two “true” community banks in Flagler County; Cypress Bank and today’s Intracoastal Bank.  Tanenbaum comments, “Bruce has been a true mentor to me over the past seventeen years.  He has always supported me and helped me grow in this business.  With two successful banks under our belts, I feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”

When Flagler’s only woman bank Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer is not shaking up the banking industry, Tanenbaum spends her time with her family; Larry, her husband of twenty-four years and three children; Jonathan, twenty-two, who just graduated from University of Florida, Russell, twenty, who is a cosmetology graduate from Daytona State College and Sammi, fifteen, a sophomore at Matanzas High School. Tanenbaum also stays very active in the Flagler community, where her focus and passion is helping children.  She is a mentor for the Take Stock in Children Program, the Treasurer/Chairperson for the Senior Scholarship Committee, serves on the Board of the Flagler County Education Foundation, a committee member of the United Way Volusia/Flagler, Women’s Initiative of Flagler County, a facilitator for FDIC Money Smart classes for adults and youths, and the past Treasurer of the American Business Women Association.

Clearly, Cheryl Tanenbaum has not let any grass grow under her feet since hitting Florida soil. Today, when very few women have climbed the banking ladder, Tanenbaum not only moved up the rungs, but broke through the infamous “glass ceiling”.  “Cheryl has played a key role in the bank’s success and we are very proud that our bank has set the example in Flagler County”, says Intracoastal Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Page.

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Intracoastal Bank was conceived by a group of Flagler County business people who had the vision to establish a truly local “hometown community bank.” Flagler County is located along the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville in Northeast Florida. The Bank’s office, at 1290 Palm Coast Parkway NW in Palm Coast, FL, opened in June 2008. Most recently, the bank announced the launch of a leading office in Ormond Beach, Florida.

Intracoastal Bank offers the products and services that a large bank offers with the personal and friendly touch that only a true hometown bank can offer. Offering the best technology available, the bank can customize products and services to meet the needs of both corporate and retail customers.

Intracoastal Bank believes in giving back to our community. The employees live and work in the community and volunteer many hours to help make the community a better place to live. Deposits are kept in our county to benefit our local economy. This helps our community to be more prosperous.

Mission Highlights

  • Be recognized as the best financial services company in our community.
  • Provide the highest quality personalized banking service to our customers.
  • Provide customized financial products and service designed to meet the unique needs of our community.

For more information, call 386-447-1662, or visit them on the web at www.intracoastalbank.net. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/intracoastalbank. Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/intracoastalbnk.

Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Intracoastal Bank