We’ve turned back our clocks, started buttoning up our houses in preparation of our winter, begun pondering the impending holidays and have given brief reflection to the end of yet another year. As we rapidly move through the third quarter of 2012, most of us are subtly reminded of what’s looming on the horizon….the dreaded tax season!
If you are like most people, you hate thinking about preparing for tax season. Many people procrastinate because they think they have plenty of time before that April deadline. Unfortunately, this rarely is the case and we end up scrambling, oftentimes missing eligible credits and deductions and overpaying Uncle Sam.
However, with some planning and preparation, filing your taxes doesn’t have to be the nerve-racking, hair-pulling hassle it typically has been. Here are a few tips to help you get ready and make this year’s tax season less stressful.
- Get your paperwork together. When preparing for tax season, go through your past returns. This will help spot items you may have forgotten or remind you of questions you may want to ask you tax preparer. Prepare a folder labeled “2012 Taxes and begin filing important tax documents, statements and receipts and as you get additional end of the year items (e.g. 1099s, W-2s, etc.) add these to your file. It’s a good idea to retain this folder with a copy of your tax return every year. It will be a lifesaver if you’re ever audited. Note: If your name has changed in the last year and you haven’t applied for a new social security card, do so now, so that it reflects your new name by tax time.
- Decide what’s the best way to do your taxes – filing yourself or hiring a CPA. Today, programs like Turbo Tax can save you money. But depending on how complicated your return is, and how much your time is worth, a CPA may be worth hiring.
- Have a chat with your working teen. If your teenager works and will be filing a return make sure you find out whether he or she is claiming himself or herself.. Typically he or she shouldn’t. Most teenagers don’t make enough money to claim themselves.
- Be Patient. Although it feels great to have your taxes done early, don’t be too overly zealous. Make sure to wait until every form you need has arrived. It will cost you more if have to file an amended return.
Remember, taxes are a necessary evil. They are bound to cause some anxiety. But if you leave yourself enough time and start preparing early by following the steps above, tax season will be a breeze…or at the very least, a great deal less stressful!
Although we Floridians are continuing to experience muggy, summer-like days, most other areas of the country are meandering into one of the most beautiful seasons of the year – fall.
Even though I’ve lived in Florida for over twenty years, having grown up in New York, fall remains the season I miss most. Oh sure, northern Florida gets a taste of fall, but it is quite dull in comparison to the vibrant, rich colors observed by our colder states.
One of the many benefits of living in central to northern Florida – other than the fact it doesn’t snow or more accurately, accumulate snow here – is our close proximity to the true fall – the kind all of us more northern transplants fondly remember and often yearn for each year around this time.
A recent Southern Living article I came across listed the best places in the south for experiencing the radiant colors of fall. I thought I’d share a few with you which are fairly close to home.
So, before this incredible color-packed foliage disappears (peak season is usually the second and third week of October), pack a bag, gas up the car and take a delightfully unexpected trip and celebrate the true colors of fall!
Enjoy your trip and tell me all about it when you return!
1. Ellijay, GA
Ellijay is located on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest, about 80 miles north of Atlanta. This town and surrounding Gilmer County are known for being the apple capitol of Georgia, claiming 10 pick-your-own apples orchards.
2. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Clermont, KY
This forest is located just south of Louisville in Clermont. It includes 14,000 acres of fields and forests and 35 miles of hiking trails. For the biking enthusiast, there is a bike route that winds along the beautifully fall-colored Long Lick Creek.
3. Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, NC
This state 7, 024 acre park, which boasts some of the best colors of fall in North Carolina, is approximately 30 miles north of Winston-Salem. You will find mountains rising more than 2,500 ft., cascading waterfalls and more!
4. Lover’s Leap Loop Trail, Hot Springs, NC
The Lover’s Leap Loop Trail overlooks the French Broad River and the town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. A hiker’s heaven – offering 1.6 mile miles of the Appalachian Trail. With its panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you won’t want to miss this!
5. Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg, TN
This most visited national park offers acres of fall colors and incredible wildlife to include white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and black bears. This park spreads across 800 acres of the southern Appalachian Mountains, winding through Tennessee and North Carolina.
6. Natchez Trace Parkway, TN
The Natchez Trace Parkway runs through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. It connects the cities of Nashville, Tennessee and Natchez, Mississippi. Approximately 100 miles of this parkway runs through Tennessee and passes through such towns as Leipers Fork, and several historic spots.
As the lazy days of summer begin to wane, many parents are facing the overwhelming task of preparing their first child for college. Gearing up your first-time college student with the necessary supplies for dormitory life is a significant part of this preparatory process. Appointing your child’s first home away from home can seem particularly daunting. With the faithful assistance of Google, I sifted through the seemingly infinite articles, topics ranging from saving for college to dealing with being an empty nester, and compiled some great advice from parents who’ve “been there, done that” and survived to tell their stories. Hopefully, these tips will guide you, somewhat painlessly – a few bouts of tears, sadness and momentary nervous breakdowns are be expected, through this life-altering endeavor, accomplishing the feat both efficiently and cost effectively, ultimately creating a memorable rite of passage for you and your child.
Must-haves for your Freshman College Student
1. A small refrigerator and microwave –
Even if your child is on the meal plan, there will times when he or she will want to sleep in or just have the convenience of eating in the dorm.
2. Linens and Towels –
Dorm mattresses are covered with a plastic waterproof material – you will want to purchase a mattress cover for comfort. You will need a full set of twin sheets, including pillowcase, and of course, a pillow and a comforter. You may want to buy two sets of sheets to alternate between washings. Note: Look for dorm/college length sheets (usually found at Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond) because a college bed is longer than a traditional twin bed. Towels – three large bath towels and three washcloths or a bath sponge are recommended.
3. Storage Bins –
Find ones that will fit under the bed to allow more space.
4. First Aid Kit –
In addition to necessary over-the-counter medicines (e.g. aspirin, cold medications, etc.) and required medications, you will want a first aid kit containing bandages, antibiotic ointment and other basics.
5. Laundry detergent and quarters –
Dorms are equipped with commercial washers and dryers, requiring quarters and your own laundry supplies.
6. Night Light –
Courtesy goes a long way to a lasting friendly roommate relationship – your child won’t annoy his or her sleeping roommate by turning on a bright light when he or she comes in late.
7. Memorabilia -
Your child may never admit to being homesick. Either way, bring a piece of home – a framed family picture is perfect.
8. Shower Caddy –
Fill it with shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor, shaving cream, etc.
9. Power Strip –
Dorms don’t have enough outlets to keep up with the electronic demands of today’s kids.
10. A debit card –
If your child hasn’t opened a checking account yet, it’s time to do so.* Make sure to order a debit card for the account. The debit card will come in handy for all of his or her ancillary needs (e.g. groceries, school supplies, an occasional night out, etc.). A debit card is safer than cash, there’s no waiting for checks to clear, it provides more accountability than a credit card, and with online management there is immediate access to the account balance.
*Stop by our branch and one of our courteous team members will be happy to assist with this.
Okay, before you hit the aisles of your favorite discount store or begin filling the shopping cart on your most frequently visited house ware internet site, step back, take a deep, cleansing breath and utilize what’s remaining of your common sense. Today’s freshmen have access to a tool we didn’t have when our parents packed up the wood paneled family station wagon and carted us off to college – the Internet. They can gain valuable information about each other by connecting on Facebook; their likes and dislikes as well as what kind of supplies and furniture each person is bringing. Although, the element of surprise is gone, the potential for duplication is eliminated, allowing the parents to divide and conquer the communal wares still outstanding.
Before you can blink your weary, occasionally tearful eyes, the momentous day will arrive. You’ll check and recheck your to-dos, must-haves and the various can’t live with outs, pack the car and set the GPS; destination, Collegetown, USA. As you head down the highway, trying to collect your thoughts and maintain composure, remember one very important thing – parenting doesn’t end….ever. You’re just suiting up for the next phase of life with your child. Who knows, when all is said and done, you just might end up being best friends!
As the last bell rings for the school year and the kids head out the doors gleefully chanting, “No more school,” their cares are left behind and replaced with thoughts of staying up late, sleeping till noon, hanging out at the beach, and just “chillin” with friends. Unfortunately, for most of us parents, our worries and homework have just begun. Our once toyed with ideas for this year’s perfect summer family vacation must NOW turn into a planned, scheduled, and booked reality. The struggle for most of us is not the vacation itself, but ultimately providing a memorable experience for the entire family that doesn’t deplete the savings account or burn the numbers off our credit cards.
So, how do we create the perfect blend of quantity and quality, while remaining fiscally responsible? Actually, it’s easier than we think. As busy, intelligent, organized overachievers, we tend to overcomplicate and overplan everything, including the family summer hiatus. So, let’s begin by thinking outside of the proverbial box and get back to some old fashioned basics; the availability of limited technology and the K.I.S.S. principle.
Today’s technology has undermined the true definition of vacation. Think back to a time when you couldn’t be called, emailed, texted or posted while away from the office or the house. To really allow yourself and your family to take a quality break from everyday modern life and the sophistication that accompanies it, make a family pact to leave technology behind. Bring one cell phone, designated only for emergencies, and put an “on vacation” voicemail message on the remaining phones and an auto reply on emails.
With technology in check, let’s begin planning a vacation that both our budget and family will love! This is where the K.I.S.S. principle applies – keep your adventure uncomplicated. The challenge is to find age-appropriate activities that aren’t mind-numbing for adults or boring for kids. The ultimate family vacation choice is one that provides a simple mix of physical activity, education, and sightseeing opportunities. So, after doing a bit of homework, here are my top three frugal, yet memorable family summer vacation ideas to get you going.
- The Road Trip Vacation
Even with higher gas prices, the All-American family road trip is still one of the least expensive options. Choose an ultimate destination (e.g. Washington D.C., Black Hills, South Dakota, Las Vegas or any of our incredible National Parks) and then plan a route which offers interesting, fun stops along the way. When making your lodging reservations, don’t forget discounts provided by membership organizations and be sure to ask for budget-conscious deals and/or accommodations where kids stay free. To reduce food costs, look for restaurants with kid’s menus or where kids eat free. Another option is to book a room with a refrigerator or kitchenette. By preparing some meals yourself, you can reduce your restaurant costs. So, grab your GPS, pack a large cooler, stop at grocery stores along the way, sing silly songs, play I Spy and the License Plate Game, watch the sun rise and set, and make some wonderful memories.
- The Close to Home Vacation
Living in Florida provides a multitude of day trip opportunities. Make your home your hub. Depending on the number of vacation days, take in as many local attractions as possible. Some great suggestions might include spending the day at one of Florida’s beautiful natural springs, venturing out to an unfamiliar beach spot, a trip to the zoo (I’m partial to the Jacksonville Zoo) or even spending the day at one of your family’s favorite theme or water parks. There are two important prerequisites to make the close to home vacation an enjoyable one. First and foremost, remember this is a vacation – have a plan with a predetermined schedule of events. Remind yourself that memorable family quality time doesn’t include cleaning out closets, landscaping the yard or painting the house. Second, as stated earlier, make a family pact to keep this time technology free.
- The Camping Vacation
This can be the traditional camping experience, vacationing at any of the many Florida or National state or private parks or the innovative summer “family camp” programs. Like summer camps for kids, a “family camp” experience comes complete with beautiful settings, simple lodging, meals, campfires and an assortment of imagination stretching activities. Now if you’re feeling really adventurous, this can be combined with the Road Trip vacation.
Although the Road Trip, the Close to Home, and the Camping vacations are my top picks, I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there. If you have a personal favorite, let me know – I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, remember that family vacations are important. There’s the quality time spent together away from life’s distractions, the laughter and fun and most importantly, memories that will last a lifetime. So, start Googling, begin planning, and have a wonderful vacation!
As we move into the second quarter of 2012, we see the U. S. community banking industry stepping up their technology budgets. This movement is a result of the industry trying to capture their future market; the Generation Y (Gen Y) customers (Yurcan, Brian, “8 Bank Technology Trends That Will Shape the Industry in 2012,” www.banktech.com, January 3, 2012).
The Gen Y market, comprising people born between approximately 1979 and 1999, is enormous. The immensity of this demographic is only outsized by its future earning potential. This group, made up of approximately 80 million adolescents and young adults, earn approximately $214 billion annually and are expected to earn $3.4 trillion, compared to the estimated $2.8 trillion earnings of the baby boomers by 2018 (Constantine, Greg, “Tapping Into Generation Y: Nine Ways Community Financial Institutions Can Use Technology to Capture Young Customers,” www.firstdata.com, April 2010).
In an effort to meet the growing technological demands of a technologically savvy market and to make banking easier and more convenient for our customers, Intracoastal Bank is initiating several exciting new services in 2012. Some of these new services include:
- A newly installed ATM which will eventually be an automated banking center, allowing transactions to be done 24/7. Business and Personal customers will be able to make deposits using image technology; no deposit slips or envelopes are needed. This ATM will allow bulk cash and checks to be deposited. The machine will add up the checks and cash to be deposited and confirm that this number matches what the customer enters. The customer will receive a receipt of their transaction with images of all checks deposited for their records. This machine is so smart that it can even detect counterfeit bills and will reject them.
- A new and improved Mobiliti Banking. We currently offer mobile banking, but we are taking it to a whole new level. There will be 3 ways to access the mobile banking feature: text messages, website or by downloading an app to your phone. Besides checking account balances, making transfers and looking at account history, customers will be able to pay bills with their smart phones.
- The addition of Account Create to our website. This allows new and existing customers the opportunity to open accounts 24/7. This new service alleviates having to come into the bank during designated hours to set up an account.
- The addition of LinkLive to our website. This gives our customers the opportunity to have online chats with our Personal Bankers when they have questions. This program also allows our Personal Bankers to view a customer’s desktop in order to assist them with their online banking issues.
Corporate Volunteerism: A Win Win Win
Today, the true measure of a corporation’s success is more than the bottom line and the value of the company to its stockholders. Corporate citizenship is an integral part of a company’s success. Some essential business practices of corporate citizenship include treating employees well, practicing good ethics, being transparent and accountable, building trust and relationships, and contributing to a sustainable environment (Hitachi Foundation & Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2003). However, one of the most critical components of corporate citizenship today is volunteerism; the involvement and positive social impact that the corporation and their employees have on the community where they work. More and more, today’s successful businesses realize that their profitability, reputation and retention of quality employees have a strong correlation to their commitment to employee volunteer programs.
At Intracoastal Bank, we understand and stress the importance of giving back to our community. By providing our employees with an opportunity to do good deeds that they don’t have time for outside of work, we increase company loyalty and develop strong and lasting ties to our community. At the end of the day, our company, our employees and our community reap the benefits of our continued dedication to volunteerism.
Intracoastal Bank’s support of employee volunteerism has several benefits to us as a company. It has grown our relationship with the community who has helped make us successful. A by-product of this valued relationship is the enhancement of our corporate image and reputation. Additionally, our support and direct involvement in various not for profit projects over the past several years; the United Way of Volusia/Flagler Counties, Habitat for Humanity, Mobile Benefits, Feed Flagler, Flagler County Education Foundation, etc., has built an extremely cohesive and motivated workforce. We’ve become a unified team!
For our employees, the involvement in community volunteer programs has many perks. Volunteerism offers our employees the opportunity to improve the community where they work and live. Also, the ability to participate in the bank’s supported programs adds variety and fulfillment to their work day. In addition and quite possibly most importantly, the active engagement of our employees in these volunteer programs has improved their leadership and interpersonal skills and increased their sense of self worth. We truly have more effective and better-rounded employees because of it!
Intracoastal Bank’s unwavering support and involvement in community-based volunteer efforts positively impacts our hometown as well. Our efforts have increased the understanding of the necessity of a strong and enduring relationship between businesses and the not for profit sector in the vitality of our community. Our employees also are providing their skills and talents to needed community services that might not otherwise be possible. Lastly, our bank’s efforts assist in enhancing the quality of life in our community.
Dollars and Sense Series Article for March A Day in the Life of Flagler County’s “Hometown Community Bank”
From the moment you step through the doors of the Key West architecturally themed home of Intracoastal Bank, Flagler County’s “Hometown Community Bank,” you immediately sense a different atmosphere. From the warm friendly greetings, freshly baked aroma of Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies, freshly brewed coffee, signature bottled water, and “Customer Appreciation Days” to the dog biscuits for Fido, you will be quickly immersed into a new banking experience. Dorothy, you are not in Kansas….I mean “big bank land” anymore!
With Americans becoming more and more frustrated with the “big banks” or as commonly referred to as the “big box banks,” many are making the choice to move to smaller, more personable community banks. Many American consumers have become fed up with the mergers, buyouts, bailouts, and huge executive bonuses. They feel that these large institutions have lost touch with old-fashioned customer service and serving their community.
When Intracoastal Bank opened its doors on June 16, 2008, we were determined to be different. Our goal was to be different in so many ways. We are not a corporate giant. We are a small bank with hometown values and practices. Our size allows us to be able to customize our products and services to meet the needs of our customers.
Not only are our customers and a growing number of Flagler County residents aware of a change in the air, but our employees as well have a full sense of our unique institutional culture and work environment. Our bank’s core values prioritize teamwork, recognizing that each team member plays a vital role in our overall success. Our overall philosophy empowers our employees to make decisions without having to jump through the big corporate hoops.
We make decisions locally, typically around our upstairs conference table. This allows a much quicker turnaround on loan decisions and decisions pertaining to our customers’ accounts. If a customer ever has a question or concern, “management” is always available. Our management team has an open door policy. The decision makers are not hidden away in offices located on the 43rd floor of a skyscraper in a major metropolitan city. Our decision makers are always accessible and that’s the difference.
Similar to the Bailey Building and Loan Association depicted in the Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we pride ourselves in giving our customers a friendly, small town, face to face banking experience. As our cute, recognizable mascot implies, we like being the small fish in the big pond. We are a close, happy family…..employees and customers!
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.
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.
- 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.