Personal Finance Expert Patrice C. Washington Talks Overcoming Struggles of Great Recession and Financial Hurdles, How to File Taxes for Free!

The Great Recession of 2007 really had a horrible impact on the lives of so many of us. According to a report on Stanford.edu “Over 60 percent of U.S. households experienced a decline in wealth during the Great Recession.” In my home state of California, state workers were forced to take furlough days; countless people across the United States lost their jobs and were forced on unemployment, and let’s not forget about the housing crisis and the families who lost their homes. If you were one of the millions who was affected by the Great Recession, you are definitely not alone.

Personal finance expert and best selling author Patrice C. Washington struggled coming out of the recession, but learned the importance of holding yourself accountable when it comes to money. Patrice was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to discuss how families who are still being affected by the Great Recession can rebound from it, the biggest financial hurdles men and women face and how to overcome them, financial habits we can all adopt that will have a big payoff, where you can file your taxes for free and how you should spend your tax refund responsibly.

 

Personal finance expert Patrice C. Washington joined Candace Rose of CandieAnderson.com for an interview to discuss how families can overcome the struggles they've faced due to the Great Recession, how to adopt new financial habits that will have a big payoff, and how to file your taxes for free!

Personal finance expert Patrice C. Washington joined Candace Rose of CandieAnderson.com for an interview to discuss how families can overcome the struggles they’ve faced due to the Great Recession, how to adopt new financial habits that will have a big payoff, and how to file your taxes for free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candace Rose: Do you have any advice for families who are still struggling to rebound from the Great Recession?

Patrice C. Washington: “I do have advice, as someone who struggled myself coming out of the recession. There’s something that I learned that was really important and I don’t think enough people share this or talk about it, and I realize that when I was looking for help I would hear a lot about budgets and credit reports, but what it took for my family and I was to take a step back and really assess our part in this debacle.

I had a very successful business and it crumbled during the recession. I was hurt, I was bitter, I was embarrassed, I felt guilty. I had all this range of emotions and I loved to blame everyone else. I would sit with my friends and family and colleagues, and we would blame the economy. We would blame the President and we would blame the banks. It finally came to me in 2009 that if I was actually going to make progress and move forward in my finances, that I had to look at the person who had the most control over my finances, and that was me. It took a really hard look and it took some reflection, but I had to look at just everything that I had done and it wasn’t about blaming myself or beating myself up, but it was about regaining control because once I looked at the spending habits that I could have curved; once I looked at the purchases that I really didn’t need to make or the fact that I didn’t reach out to my mentors when I needed help the most, I realized that it was my responsibility too. It wasn’t just the banks, it wasn’t the economy, it wasn’t the President – I needed to look at Patrice, and once I did that I was able to take control and move forward.

For any individual or family who is still struggling to get through what happened during the recession, I would say let’s put the credit reports down for a second, let’s set the budget aside and let’s take a really hard look and have that difficult conversation and go – ‘What did I do?’ ‘How did I contribute to this?’ That will be the first way you can move forward.”

 

Candace Rose: What are some of the biggest financial hurdles men and women face, and how can they overcome them?

Patrice C. Washington: “Well, I think both men and women have these myths that keep them stuck where they are in their finances. I’ve done a lot of research on this, focus groups when I wrote both of my books ‘Real Money Answers for Every Woman’ and ‘Real Money Answers for Men’, I learned that we have these different myths that really perpetuate what’s really going on with our finances.

For women, we love to say things like ‘I work hard so deserve it’. That’s how we justify our purchases. That’s why we might go out and spend money on things that we don’t necessarily need. I challenge women to get over this hurdle and think about yeah, you work hard and yeah, you deserve something, but is it another purse? Is it shoes? Is it more makeup (or whatever you like to do)? Or do you work hard and deserve to leave a legacy for your children? Or do you work hard and deserve to start that business you’ve always wanted to start? Do you work hard and deserve to sleep peacefully at night and not worry about bills and phone calls from creditors? What do you deserve more? To get over that hurdle you have to ask yourself that question. Again, it’s about having that real talk with yourself – ask yourself that question and then prioritize based on what you really truly want more.

With men, there’s this myth that just because they were born male that they’re naturally good at money. That’s a myth that keeps them from financial success because it makes a man too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help when he knows he needs it. When you live with this myth that ‘because I’m a man, I should manage the family income or manage the household expenses’; ‘because I’m a man I don’t need to talk to anyone about this’, what I often find is that men end up at retirement age going ‘I wish I would have asked for help 10 years ago;’ ‘I wish I would have sought out assistance 20 years ago or sat down with a financial advisor or an accountant – anyone 25 years ago, then I wouldn’t be in this position.’ That’s a hurdle that men have to overcome because if you stay in this place that because you’re male you automatically manage money wisely, in the long run you’re really going to hurt yourself and your own financial success.”

 

Candace Rose: What are some financial habits we can adopt that will have a big payoff?

Patrice C. Washington: “Well, one habit in particular that I really encourage people to adopt is budgeting. I know that makes people get tense, it makes you feel like ‘I have to deprive myself and I have to sacrifice’, but I really want you to look at budgeting not as a deprivation tool, but one of discipline. Budgeting is about telling your money where to go instead of doing what most of us do – look up and go ‘I know I got paid, but where did my money go?’ Budgeting is a tool that can help you plan for your savings, plan for paying off debt, plan to just manage your lifestyle better. It doesn’t matter how much you make. It’s not that I don’t make enough to budget, if you make $2 a month, it’s enough to figure out what you’re going to do with those $2 and plan accordingly.

You want to start up to build up that muscle. Just because you earn more money – which a lot of people think is going to be the big difference for them – earning more money doesn’t mean that you’ll have more money in the long run. If you’re not familiar with budgeting and planning, you might still blow it…and we don’t want you to do that. That’s one habit that you really want to get your hands around.”

 

Candace Rose: With tax season upon us, who is eligible to receive free tax services?

Patrice C. Washington: “Individuals and families who have a household income of $60,000 or less are eligible to file their taxes for absolutely free at MyFreeTaxes.com. Now what I love about MyFreeTaxes.com is that you’re not only filing your taxes for free with the federal government, but you’re also filing with the state. In all 50 states including Washington, D.C., you can file these taxes for free and you can get filing assistance for free. Just because you’re self-filing doesn’t mean that you’re on your own. Don’t think that once you log on and putting your information in you’re all by yourself because that’s not true, you actually get support! You get online support through a chat, you can get email support or even telephone support to help you through the process. If you get stuck anywhere there’s always a backup team there of IRS certified specialists to help.”

 

Candace Rose: How can families make the most of their refund if they are getting one this year?

Patrice C. Washington: “Well, how do you make the most of a refund? The first thing you want to do is make the most of filing your taxes by making sure that you look out for credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a credit that many Americans qualify for, but one in five Americans don’t even know, so they don’t take advantage of it and they leave their hard earned money on the table.

I want you to make sure that you’re taking advantage of maximizing the experience from the beginning (the whole filing experience) but when you think about the refund, I want you to not wait until the money hits the bank to start thinking about what to do. What you want to do is plan in advance because we don’t want to spend that refund emotionally. We want to make sure that there’s a plan in place that’s going to support us over the next 365 days. Think about your savings – do you have some savings that you need to beef up a little bit? Think about your debt – do you have debt that you need to pay off? And then think about some deferred maintenance. Do you have car repairs that you’ve been meaning to make? If you don’t make them now it’s going to snowball into something catastrophic. Do you have a home repair or maybe something as simple as dental work that you need to have done? What are those things that you’ve been meaning to get done, but you’ve been saying ‘I don’t have the money to do it.’ This is the time, so plan wisely so you can take advantage of all three buckets: saving, paying down debt, and then also taking care of any maintenance in your life.”

 

Candace Rose: Well, thank you for the great tips, Patrice. Where can we go for more information?

Patrice C. Washington: “For more information just head to MyFreeTaxes.com. You’re going to get tons of resources and learn more about how you can file your taxes for free, easily and securely.”

 

 

 

How To Choose The Perfect Health Insurance Plan For You & Your Family During Open Enrollment with Dr. Scott T. Josephs – Interview

Searching for the perfect health insurance plan can be an extremely stressful process, especially for those on a fixed income. With open enrollment season kicking off on November 15th and ending on February 15, 2015 (for 2015 coverage), now is the perfect time to start doing research in order to choose the perfect health insurance plan for you and your family. Cigna national medical officer Dr. Scott T. Josephs joined me for an interview yesterday to share his advice for picking the perfect health plan, and how you can save money when doing so.

 

 

Cigna's national medical officer Dr. Scott T. Josephs joined Candace Rose for an interview to discuss how we can choose the perfect health insurance plan during enrollment season.

Cigna’s national medical officer Dr. Scott T. Josephs joined Candace Rose for an interview to discuss how we can choose the perfect health insurance plan during enrollment season.


 

Candace Rose: Choosing a health insurance plan can be a stressful experience, what advice do you have for those who are currently searching for the perfect plan?

Dr. Scott T. Josephs: “Well, we did a survey (Cigna) that looked at that very question. What we found, Candace, is a very tight link between health and financial security. In fact, 3/4 of the people we surveyed were concerned that healthcare costs could prevent their ability to have a secure retirement.

Yet, and to answer your question, we found on average that more than half of the people spent less than one hour choosing a health plan – less than one hour! I urge your followers to spend the time and ask the appropriate questions, so they can make the right financial decision, as well as health decision for themselves and their family.”

 

Candace Rose: I can’t imagine spending only an hour choosing a health plan. Why do you think this is? Is it out of fear and anxiety? 

Dr. Scott T. Josephs: “I don’t think people really stop and consider how important of financial decision this is. Let me give you an example – when asked, 44% of the people we surveyed were concerned that healthcare costs could prevent their ability to pay for a child’s college.

Think about when we were growing up, parents were concerned that they wanted to stay healthy so that they can be healthy enough to see their child graduate from college, now parents are concerned that they stay healthy so that they can afford to pay for their child’s college. It’s a much different dynamic. Yet, people can be overwhelmed by this decision, so it’s important to ask the right questions, Candace.”

 

 

Candace Rose: Health insurance can be expensive, especially for those who are on a fixed income. Why advice do you have for them?

Dr. Scott T. Josephs: “First of all, remember that preventive care is 100% covered – screening for cervical and breast cancer, colorectal cancers screening, checking for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, vaccinations – all are 100% covered, please utilize it.

In addition, make sure that the doctor and hospital you use are in the network. Out of network costs can be so expensive and can be really financially painfully, frankly.

Use generic medications when at all possible, and remember, emergency rooms are very expensive settings of care. If you’re having a true emergency, please go to an emergency room. But if you’re not having an emergency, please seek care elsewhere which will be much less expensive.”

 

Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?

Dr. Scott T. Josephs: “Sure, during opening enrollment season, certainly check your employers website – they may have information, they may have an enrollment fair. But also, check Cigna’s website: http://www.Cigna.com/KnowYourBenefits. There’s a wealth of information to help you navigate your healthcare choices.”

 

 

Mic Co-Founder, CEO Chris Altchek Talks Elections, And How Voters Can Be Informed in Less Time With Bing Elections – Interview

Election season can be very overwhelming. We’re flooded on a day-to-day basis with deceptive political ads, telephone calls and literature; it can be difficult to decipher who the right candidate is for us and where they stand. Microsoft and Mic (a leading news and media company for young people) understand voters frustrations and  have teamed up to make the elections more personal with Bing Elections. With Election day just a week away (November 4th), Mic co-founder and CEO, Chris Altchek joined me for an interview recently to discuss the elections and how voters can be more informed in less time with Bing Elections.

 

 

Mic co-founder and CEO Chris Altchek joined Candace Rose for an interview to discuss how voters can be more informed in less time on the right issues just in time for the Elections (Election Day is November 4th). Image courtesy of Twitter.com/CAltchek

Mic co-founder and CEO Chris Altchek joined Candace Rose for an interview to discuss how voters can be more informed in less time on the right issues just in time for the Elections (Election Day is November 4th). Image courtesy of Twitter.com/CAltchek

 

 

 

 

 

Candace Rose: Election season can be very overwhelming, what can voters do to be more informed in less time?

Chris Altchek: Mic is a new site for the next generation. We focus on creating thoughtful, entertaining and high quality news about the stories that matter for young people. We’ve partnered with Microsoft on a tool called Bing My Elections, which is allowing voters to figure out what races are happening in their local, state and senate races, figure out who the candidates are and where they stand.”

 

Candace Rose: In 2010 only 38% of eligible voters voted in the election. Why do you think this was, and what can be changed to increase voter turnout this year?

Chris Altchek: “That’s a great question. We saw in 2008 and 2012, much higher voter turnout. In the midterms we’ve had much lower voter turnout. That’s what we believe is primarily driven by lack of information on the candidates, on the races and on the issues.

With Microsoft we’ve partnered to make the information really clear, nonpartisan, data driven, so you can figure out who the candidates really are and where they stand on the issues. We’ve personalized it and localized it, so when you go to the site on your tablet or your phone or your computer, it automatically pulls the race that’s in your state or your district and makes it as easy as possible to get the information you need as quickly as possible.”

 

Candace Rose: Is there anything else we can do to be more informed for the elections?

Chris Altchek: “Make sure you’re registered to vote. In the top righthand corner of the tool you’ll find information on how to register and then make sure you show up on Election Day. If you pick the candidates that fall within the issues you care about, you’re in good shape and you’re doing a real service to your country and your community.”

 

Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?

Chris Altchek: “Just check out the tool, it’s Bing.com/Elections. If you want to read more about it, you can also see it on Mic.com. We’re really encouraging people to get informed. The elections are only a week away, so now is the time.”

 

 

Video: Nightly News Brian Williams Raps “Baby Got Back” On Jimmy Fallon

 

"Nightly News" managing editor and anchor Brian Williams raps "Baby Got Back" on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on June 16, 2014!

“Nightly News” managing editor and anchor Brian Williams raps “Baby Got Back” on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on June 16, 2014!

 

Brian Williams has done it again. My love for the newsman has grown even stronger than it was yesterday, all because of his rendition of “Baby Got Back” on Jimmy Fallon last night. Around the same time Brian Williams took over for Tom Brokaw as host of the Nightly News, I learned I love karaoke all because of “Baby Got Back”. My friends would unwillingly drag me to do karaoke around Sacramento in those days, and I hated every minute of it. I despised being on stage singing (or shouting in my case) well, that was until one night when one my friends started rapping to “Baby Got Back”. I kid you not, that night I obtained courage like I’d never had befiore, I took the microphone from her, apparently started rapping and have never looked back. My confidence grew, and I have been hurting people’s ears with my singing aka shouting ever since.

Brian Williams definitely did Sir Mix A Lot justice last night with his news version of one of the greatest rap songs of all time! In case you missed it, or in my case want to watch it over and over again, please be sure to watch the video below to hear NBC’s Brian Williams, Hoda, Kathy Lee and the rest of the NBC gang rap the news to “Baby Got Back” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”!

 

 

Brian Williams raps the news with Jimmy Fallon!

Brian Williams raps the news with Jimmy Fallon!

 

 

 

Jimmy also welcomed comedian Keenen Ivory Wayans of “Last Comic Standing” and Jennifer Lopez! If you’re around my age, you definitely remember them from “In Living Color” where J-Lo was a fly girl! Be sure to watch the video below to check out Keenen and Jennifer on Jimmy Fallon.

 

 

Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Fallon chat on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Monday, June 16th.

Jennifer Lopez and Jimmy Fallon chat on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Monday, June 16th.

 

How to Get Your Federal and State Taxes Done for FREE and Last Minute Tax Tips to Ensure You File on Time with United Way’s Laura Scherler

Tax day (April 15th) is right around the corner. Believe it or not you have less than six days to wrap up your taxes without being hit with severe penalties, and many post offices (including the post offices in Sacramento, California) will not be open late to help tax payers avoid those penalties. If you’ve avoided doing your taxes due to cost, or you prefer waiting until the last day you’re in luck! Laura Scherler is United Way Worldwide’s, Director of Income Capacity Building and she joined me for an interview yesterday to answer every question you may have about doing your taxes- from what materials you should have on hand, how to claim the right credits, why doing your taxes online is the way to go, how to receive your federal and state income tax returns quicker and how those who earn $58,000 can have their taxes done for FREE!

 

How you can get your taxes done for free with United Way Worldwide's Laura Scherler.

How you can get your taxes done for free with United Way Worldwide’s Laura Scherler.

 

 

 

 

Candace Rose: With April 15th nearly upon us, what should people be aware of during this last week of tax season?

Laura Scherler: “I think it’s really important for people to keep in mind the tax filing deadline and to file their returns by the deadline if it’s at all possible.

If people do need extra time to file, they can go online to the IRS’ website and file an extension. But you have to keep in mind that that’s not exactly an extension of time to pay your taxes. So if you do owe money to the IRS you’ll have to go ahead and pay that now or at least pay as much as you can afford to pay and then work with the IRS and set up a payment plan for the remainder of the money. If it’s at all possible for you to file your return by the 15th, that’s actually the best thing that you can do.”

 

Candace Rose: What materials should those who have yet to file their taxes have ready?

Laura Scherler: “You should have all of your income statements ready – so your W2 form, your 1099 form…anything that lists your earned income for the year. You also need any documents that list non-wage related income. If you have interest income from a bank account or investments, you’ll need those documents as well. You’ll also need Social Security information for yourself, your spouse and any dependents in your household. You’ll need any documentation for payments that you’ve made that might increase the number of deductions on your return and could increase the amount of the refund that you receive. Things like payments to childcare providers or payments for medical care expenses – those types of things could increase the number of deductions that you take and could increase your refund.

Finally it’s important to have your bank account information ready. If you want to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you’ll need your account number as well as your bank’s routing number.”

 

Candace Rose: How can you make sure you claim the right credits on your return?

Laura Scherler: “The IRS website actually has a great list of credits and deductions. If you go to their homepage: IRS.gov, there’s a tab that says credits and deductions, and lists some of the most common credits that people qualify for. It also lists the eligibility requirements for those credits, so people can familiarize themselves with them and when they sit down to file their return, they can ensure that they complete the forms that are required in order to claim those credits.

The two that I think that are most important that people often overlook are the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Both of these can provide significant benefits to workers particularly those with children.”

 

Candace Rose: What are some common myths when it comes to filing your taxes?

Laura Scherler: “I think people assume that taxes are difficult and that they can’t do them themselves. But, the reality is that a lot of the online tax programs that are out there now really take the guesswork out of taxes for people. Not only do they walk you through a series of questions to determine your eligibility for many of the tax credits that people qualify for like the EITC, but they also check all of your calculations and then check the accuracy of your return at the end, so when you do file it, you feel that your return is accurate and that you’re getting all of the credits and deductions that you qualify for.”

 

Candace Rose: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I never thought that I would be able to do my own taxes (and I do them on my own). They absolutely 100% make it very easy for everyone.

Laura Scherler: “A lot of the software programs out there are really affordable. Some of the for-profit preparers, particularly those that provide in-person services can be really expensive. Lots of people are on tight budgets right now, many of the online programs are very affordable and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do your taxes these days.”

 

Candace Rose: Who is eligible to receive free tax services?

Laura Scherler: “United Way Worldwide, Goodwill Industries International, The National Disability Institute and the Walmart Foundation are partnering together on a project called My Free Taxes. We provide Free federal and state returns to individuals and families that earn $58,000 or less. If you meet that income requirement, you should go online to our website, which is MyFreeTaxes.com. You can file your federal and state return for free.”

 

Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?

Laura Scherler: “I would encourage people (if they feel comfortable) to file online and get their return via direct deposit. If you get your return via direct deposit, you can have your money in your bank account in as little as seven to 10 days. I know that often times people have plans for their refund – either to pay bills or purchase household items and they really count on that money, so getting in a week to 10 days is really critical. Filing online and using direct deposit is really the fastest way to get your refund.”

 

Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?

Laura Scherler: “The best place to go is our website, which is MyFreeTaxes.com. We also provide a helpline for filers that need a little bit of extra assistance whether you have tax questions or need help with software, the phone number is 1-855-My-Tax-Help. You should feel confident using our software knowing that there are customer support specialists out there that can provide you with additional support if you need it.”