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Why You Should Do Your Taxes Sooner Rather than Later

Why You Should Do Your Taxes Sooner Rather than Later

The dreaded tax season is here. Hopefully you kept all of your receipts because getting your money back is the best thing out there. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn how to file taxes in school. If you were lucky, your parents were able to explain to you how taxes work. If not, you’ve had to rely on random tips, and Internet searches.

Taxes are confusing, but a few good tips on how to file them can make a major difference. Getting advices from friends, family, and co-workers is okay, but getting the correct information is important. According to Time.com there are 30 convenient tips to know when filing taxes. Here are some of the tips:

  • Find out if you actually need to file
  • Have your social security number ready
  • Determine your filing status
  • Gather your documents
  • Gather your expenses
  • Understand which deduction is best for you
  • Don’t forget about charity donations/volunteer hours
  • Don’t forget about lotteries/gambling earnings
  • Beware of what you can’t deduct
  • Check your work twice, three times, or more.
  • Be cautious of scams
  • Know the deadline

That is a lot of information to take in all at once. If you weren’t confused before, and are now, hang in there. Just remember tax season only lasts until April. If tax season really stresses you out, you can file early. Sites like Turbo Tax highly recommend that you do start filing early. The more time you give yourself to file your taxes, the less stress you’ll feel. You won’t have to worry about cramming all your tax work in the night before they’re due.

Filing early is convenient, but also can be a juggling act. Employers have until the end of January to send out W-2s for the previous year. Most other documents needed for filing taxes typically have a similar deadline. This means that you will more than likely get all the information you need for filing around mid-February. From February to April you’ll have time to start your filing. If you start early without all your documents, be prepared to have to go back and fix things later.

The IRS typically starts accepting tax returns at the very end of January. This date of accepting returns generally changes by a few days every year. Once the IRS receives your tax return, it can take 21 days to six weeks to issue your refund check. The sooner you send in your return, the sooner you’ll have your money. If you want to get more money, faster, file your taxes now.

Do You Think We Are Slaves to Technology?

Do You Think We Are Slaves to Technology

TTechnology in our world today is a blessing and a curse it seems. There are positive advantages to technology, like being able to look up important information about your flight out of LAX. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks as well. Generations like the “millennials” are labeled as disconnected because of their preference to using dating apps versus meeting someone in person. Face-to-face conversations seem to be in jeopardy, as people would rather send a five secon picture through Snapchat instead of talking to the person in front of them.

Technology captures our attention for hours on end. If you were to ask a group of people how much time they spend on their phones/technology you’d probably get a bunch of vague answers. The truth behind this is that no one really know exactly how much time they spend with technology because we’re constantly looking at it. We don’t just check our social media once a day and call it good, we check throughout the day. It’s a part of our lives.

In the Journal of Media Education, a research study shows students in a class spend 20.9% of their time on their digital devices for non-class related purposes. The research also shows there has been an increase in student usage of technology in class from 2013 to 2015. This growth in technology usage only supports that it is increasingly capturing our attention.

Technology captures our attention by how it works. The vivid colors, sounds, and fast flashy movements on our screens keep our focus. Tristan Harris, a design ethicist for Google, explains how social media is designed to keep us checking our phones. According to Harris we check our phones on average 150 times a day. Technology captures our attention by giving us the illusion of choices and options.

Not only does technology limit our choices, it also makes us feel important. Our phones especially amplify this by the notifications. We start to become programed to look forward to how many ‘likes’ or notifications we get when we first wake up in the morning. We look forward to notifications because it can give us a sense of belonging. We feel connected to the rest of the world from our technology. Other social media tactics used to keep your attention include:
  • Newsfeeds – They are always being “refreshed” with new posts or information to keep you scrolling through the site.
  • Likes – “Likes” have created a sense of popularity through social media. The more “likes” you get the more people must like you.
  • Social Obligations – Social media creates a social obligation to participate. You can’t just not reply to a text message, or email. If you don’t then that is considered offensive. Another example of social media obligations would be “follow for follow”. If Taylor follows Jordan on a social media site, then Jordan would feel obligated to follow Taylor back.
  • Auto play – This is when a video or music starts playing automatically once a page is loaded. This often leads to viewers watching or listening to something they originally did not intend to.

Companies who purposely upgrade their products with the intent to distract their consumers are not ethically sound. Technology should be a tool, not a distraction. Our social media use can be productive by: promoting an online business, getting information out, staying connected with family and friends. However it seems to be more distracting than useful.

Companies should have an ethical responsibility to not waste our time. Time is something that we can never gain and are always losing. If a consumer chooses to spend their time on their technology all day, that is their choice. However, if a consumer is being distracted by their phone because of choices the company made, that is ethically wrong.

The Disappointing Reality of Shootings

The Disappointing Reality of Shootings

There are several universal laws that everyone should know, and typically follow. The problem with universal codes is that we assume everyone will follow those codes as well. Unfortunately, bad people do bad things. People break universal laws all the time, which is why we have services to help prevent this. If a law is broken there are consequences for the person who broke it. This leaves the rest of us shocked, confused, saddened, and sometimes mad.

With advances in technology we hear and find out about these shootings faster. This is good, but also bad. With the ability to find out more information instantly, we also tend to get told the wrong information. Facts get twisted and false information quickly gets shared across the country.

It is terrifying that you have to be prepared for these kinds of situation. Schools are starting to practice active shooter drills. Unfortunately, school drills aren’t practiced nearly enough, or taken seriously. School shootings are a real threat, and, quite sadly, are becoming more common. Here are some recommend steps of action to take if you ever find yourself in a shooting:

  • Run away whenever possible
  • Know your escape routes if in a building
  • Think and react immediately
  • Don’t worry about your belongings
  • Grab a weapon if possible for self defense
  • Hide yourself if you can’t escape
  • Call 911, if possible
  • Barricade your hide out/lock any doors
  • Turn off your lights
  • Turn off anything that makes noise (cellphones, etc.)
  • Play dead

Engaging the shooter is not advised because you don’t know the motive, or reasoning they may or may not have. If you’re even in this kind of situation you’ll have to rely on your judgment and readiness. To help prevent a situation like this from occurring there are also several steps you can take:

  • Report suspicious activity
  • Beware of your surrounding
  • Know your location’s lockdown proceduresTake classes for self defense

An active shooter scenario is something no one wants to be a part of, but we all need to be prepared. The increase in shootings, and the massive number of causalities should encourage you to take steps to be prepared. The best thing you can do is educate yourself, and beware. Do your own research and learn how to be prepared.

You Can’t Trust Everything Online, Even Reviews

You Can’t Trust Everything Online, Even Reviews

Anyone who has spent a lot of time on the internet knows that they can’t believe everything they read. While the internet is a great way to find information, not everything online is true or even remotely accurate. This is especially true for anything that is written by everyday people, and not professionals in their respective fields.

Unfortunately, this does include online reviews. As helpful as they can be, online reviews are only as helpful as talking to people themselves. Many adults are aware of the fact that everyone has different views and knowledge of life. This means that there are certain people you go to for advice on movies, and certain people who you go to for advice on home repair. The same goes for online reviews, though there is no way of knowing who is a credible source when it comes to reviews.

When looking at online reviews of anything, you need to be wary of the person who wrote it. Is this person experienced with this particular product or service, or is this their first time using it? Are the problems they encountered caused by the product or service, or were they caused by the person not knowing how to properly use said product or service? These are all questions that you should ask yourself while reading through reviews.

Another way to determine the validity of reviews, is to look at the numbers. How many five and one star reviews does the service or product have? If there are more positive than negative reviews, then using that product or service will probably be a safe bet.

Do You Believe in a Flu Season?

Do You Believe in a Flu Season

There are all kinds of people out there in the world, and all of them have their own believes and views. Some of them make sense, and others are just plain bizarre. Every once in a while, you hear of a belief that just seems too crazy to be true. For instance, some people think that there is no such thing as a flu season.

For those unaware, a flu season is classified as an annually recurring period of the year where there are consistently large sized outbreaks of the flu. These seasons typically coincide with the cold seasons, which vary from the Northern to Southern Hemispheres. The flu season lasts for roughly 6 weeks in each hemisphere. This is a trend that had been tracked and monitored for years now.

Recently, a televangelist told her followers that there was nothing to worry about when they brought their concerns of this year’s flu season to her. In case you didn’t know, a televangelist are Christian ministers, official or self-proclaimed, who spread their messages primarily through television broadcasts. When asked about the flu season, this televangelist told her followers that there is a duck season and a deer season, but there is no flu season. She informed them that Jesus gave them the flu shot and that redeemed them from the curse of the flu.

However, this televangelist’s followers were right to have some concerns. This flu season has been rather severe, quickly rivaling the 2014-2015 season. So far, this year’s flu season has claimed the lives of 37 children.

Now of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, there are some times when people’s opinions seem extremely questionable, especially when facts have been proven otherwise.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in a flu season, or is there not enough evidence to back that up?

Use Your Tax Return to Post Bail

Use Your Tax Return to Post Bail

It’s that time of the year again where everyone needs to sit down and file their taxes. Some people may be receiving a very sizable check from the government after doing that. This leaves many with the enviable problem of having money to send, and no idea what to do with it. Of course, the smart thing to do would be to put it away in case of an emergency.

Of course, you could already be facing family emergency if one of your loved ones has been arrested. If someone you care about is currently in jail, then you should use the money from your tax return to help post bail. You can put that extra bit of money to good use.

Bail in the state of California is not cheap, it typically costs several thousands of dollars. This is why most people turn to bail bond companies for help. A bail bond only costs 10% of the price of the bail itself. You can get even more discounts by going to Riverside Bail Bonds for help.

Here at Riverside Bail Bonds we provide our clients with affordable bail bonds. On top of that, we offer personalized payment plans for all of our clients and additional discounts for those that qualify. Clients with approved credit can get their bail bond at 0% down, which means they do not have to make a payment until a month after their loved one is released from jail.

Having an extra bit of cash from your tax returns can go a very long way. So, if you are getting a sizable check from the government after filling your taxes, consider putting it away for a rainy day or using it to bail out your loved one. You will be glad you did.

Small Healthy Choices that can Make a Big Differences

Small Healthy Choices that can Make a Big Differences

January is over, and so are most of our ambitions to carry out our New Year’s Resolutions. The first few days of the “New Year, New You” were great, but then reality kicked in. You realized that it is impractical to spend hours at the gym every day, and that no one really has the time to meal prep every single week. Now you’re starting to feel guilty because you haven’t even made it half a year.

Don’t stress, this happens to everyone. If you still have some motivation to make a change in your life, use that to make smaller alterations. Don’t give up on your dreams just yet. Hang on to your goals, there is still most of the year to achieve them.

Dreams and goals get set aside to focus on other parts of life. However, you shouldn’t give up on your goals completely. Making small changes that move you closer to your goals can be easier. It’s like taking baby steps before running. You gradually build up to the lifestyle or goals that you want. Let’s face it, you can’t do a complete and total lifestyle change within a few days.

Lifestyle changes take time. That’s why New Year Resolutions don’t always work out. You have to start building a habit for several weeks until it becomes a lifestyle change. Just like you can’t expect to lose ten pounds over night, you can’t expect to change your life overnight. Typically a habit is formed after two weeks. For example, if you continuously drink a glass of water every morning for two weeks straight, it should become a habit, though that doesn’t make them permanent. Habits can still be broken and changed.

Some small changes that you can start making right now to improve your overall health include:
• Start your days with protein
• Get moving
• Focus on can, not can’t
• Drink more water
• Be your greatest cheerleader
• Forget the scale
• Sit down to eat
• Cut out unhealthy choices gradually

These small changes were inspired from RealSimple.com, a website dedicated to helping people live a happy life. Each suggested tip might help you take steps towards your healthy goals. Once you start improving your health with these small steps you’ll start to see big change.

Tax Season Is Here

Tax Season Is Here

The new year is already a month old now that January has come and gone. This means we are truly entering into tax season. Businesses are handing out tax forms to their employees, and people are gathering all of the paperwork that they are going to need. It’s time for everyone to sit down and fill out some paperwork for the government. How exciting!

Most people aren’t very excited about this time of the year. It means extra work filling out dull paperwork, or paying someone to fill it out for you. Sometimes, you can get some money back from the government, other times you end up owing them money. All the while, you are hoping you filled everything out properly so you do not get audited.

This year, taxes are due to be completed by Tuesday April 17th. If you fail to file your taxes by then, you can miss out on any money that might be owed to you. However, if you owe money on taxes, you can face a failure to file fee. The fee is 5% of your unpaid tax bill every month that the balance remains unpaid.

If a person repeatedly fails to file their taxes for a number of years, they could face criminal charges. They will also receive a visit from the IRS if their unpaid taxes equal more than $25,000. This is why it is a good idea to pay your taxes on time.

Sure, filing tax returns may not be the most exciting thing in the world to do, but it can be very nice when that extra bit of money comes in. plus filing taxes doesn’t take that long if you just commit to doing it. Better to do that then wind up on the IRS’s bad side.

California Considering Plastic Straw Ban

California Considering Plastic Straw Ban

Just over a year ago, the state of California banned grocery stores from giving away single use plastic bags. The goal was to reduce the amount of plastic that made it out into the environment. Now, California lawmakers are considering making it a crime for dine-in restaurant waiters to give out plastic straws.

This new law was proposed by Assemblyman Ian Calderon this January, and since then it has received a lot of criticism. The many reason for this, is the fact that the bill calls on any waiter caught giving plastic straws to customers who didn’t ask for them to be fined $1,000 and face up to 6 months in jail. This would be a misdemeanor offense, and it is a pretty hefty penalty for handing out straws.

Of course, the goal of the law is a good one. The idea, which is identical to the plastic bag ban that voters passed in 2016, is to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by Californians every single day. Plastic straws are often used once, and then thrown away. From there, they can end up in the ocean or in other areas of the environment where they will stay until they decompose several decades later.

Assemblyman Calderon claims that the penalties were added on by the state legislative rules committee, and that he does not want there to be any fines or jail time for waiters who give out straws. He plans to rework the bill and expects to have it go across Governor Jerry Brown’s desk with in the next two months.

While this may seem like a big deal now, in all likelihood, this will blow over pretty quickly if such a law were passed. Just look at the plastic bag ban. That was a huge deal when it first occurred, but nowadays most people don’t care. It has simply become a part of their daily live, and it was not as big a deal as people feared it might be. A ban of this nature would not be the end of the world, and it could do a lot to helping keep the environment clean.

Mudslide Preparation

Mudslide Preparation

Most Californian’s know to be prepared for earthquakes and fires, but often overlook another common natural disaster within the state. We received a lot of rain in the early parts of 2017 in California. Then things dried up and we experienced plenty of fires as a result. Since we’ve had several large fires and winter storms are now here, we need to be prepared for mudslides.

Mudslides happen when the ground soaks up high amounts of water and then breaks away. With plenty of vegetation burned away from the fires, most of our hill sides don’t have enough vegetation to hold themselves together. All it takes is one good downpour and the hillsides could breakaway.

Ready.gov is an excellent place to gather information of how to prepare for natural disasters like mudslides. They have several highly recommended steps to take in order to help you be more prepared. They break their plans into three categories: before, during and after.

Before Mudslides
• Prepare an emergency kit.
• Form a plan.
• Know the land around you.
• Consult your insurance company.
• Planting ground cover on hills.
• Build retaining walls.
• Build channels to direct water flows.

During a landslide
• Listen for usual sounds.
• Move away from debris paths.
• Avoid rivers and low lying areas.
• Curl up into a tight ball if you cannot escape.

It’s important to always be prepared for any disaster. Unfortunately we don’t always know when they’ll hit. Take the first steps today and become more prepared for tomorrow.

Don’t Eat Tide Pods

Don’t Eat Tide Pods

It should come as a surprise to no one that there is yet another new “challenge” trending on the internet amongst kids. Unfortunately, like so many other trends before, this one is incredibly dangerous. This latest challenge is called the Tide Pod Challenge, and the goal is for a person, usually a child, to ingest either a Tide Pod, or the liquid itself.

For many adults, it is easy to see how this is a very bad idea. The liquids in these pods can be incredibly toxic if ingested, which can cause serious problems or even death. Unfortunately, there are many kids and teens out there that are actively attempting this challenge and putting themselves in serious danger.

As with many other dangerous fads that have come and gone over the years, it is important for parents to talk to their kids. Make sure they know that they should never give into peer pressure and that they can always come and talk to you. More importantly, make sure they understand that Tide Pods, and laundry detergent in general, should never be ingested.

Hopefully, most people are smart enough to understand the difference between food and laundry detergent. This horrible new trend is just more proof that a parent needs to monitor what their child does online, and just keep in touch in general. Staying in touch can be difficult in our fast paced society, but is the most important thing that a parent can do for their child.

Talk to Your Children about Bullying

Talk to Your Children about Bullying

Childhood can be pretty rough at times. All kinds of things are happening, and many times those things can feel bigger and more important than they actually are. As kids learn about themselves, others, and the world around them, they may develop some bad habits. The worst habit they can pick up, is bullying other kids.

Bullying is defined as using force or threat to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. It can happen at all ages, but it typically starts in childhood. People like to pick on and mock people who are different in any sort of way. This can be incredibly damaging to a person’s self-esteem. No one likes to be made fun off.

Far too often, you hear on the news about the worst possible outcome for bullying victims, the ones who have had enough and just want an escape. Nobody should have to go through that, parents or child. That is why it is important for a parent to be involved with their child.

A child needs to know that they can always talk to their parent, that there is an adult in their life they can rely on. Let your child know that they can always come and talk to you about anything, and that you will help them solve any problems that they may have. Make sure he or she knows to be kind to others, and to report any bullying they experience to a trusted adult.

No one wants to be bullied, and it is up to all of us to erase it from existence. It will not be easy, but by being there for one another, bullying can be conquered.