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Underhanded Dealings

The dark side of the “shadow economy”

Unscrupulous vendors are a small part of the so-called shadow economy – the unlicensed contractor for sure, but also a vast black market of businesses, often cash-only, working out of homes or garages, that don’t pay the taxes or licensing fees their competitors do. While profitable for the person getting away with it, this underground economy hits all of us right where it hurts – in the pocketbook.

Oct 24, 2014 Rich Ehisen
This gentleman planned ahead, and now — he's signing something. 

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Happy National Estate Planning Awareness Week!

But before the party starts, here are 7 questions you need to answer

If National Estate Planning Awareness Week, which started yesterday,  snuck up on you this year, you are not alone. In fact, if you don’t have an estate plan, you have lots of company. Fifty percent of Americans lack a will and other vital estate planning documents, and their absence is a sure path to probate court and often lengthy, costly legal proceedings before an estate is settled.

Oct 21, 2014 Barry Brundage

Made to Last

Trusteed IRAs can stretch assets over generations

You’ve made all the right financial decisions. You’ve saved, you’ve planned, you’ve invested. But what if your heirs aren’t quite ready for the responsibilities and tax advantages that go along with inheriting your dutifully funded IRA? Your best bet for control from the grave may be a trusteed IRA.

Aug 28, 2014 Esther Shein
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Avoid the Liquidity Trap

3 tips for succession planning

Surviving the Great Recession wasn’t easy for anyone, but it had a unique impact on business owners who were looking forward to retirement. One-third of small biz owners are over the age of 55 – primed to step away from the day-to-day routine. When the economy went into a tailspin, those trying to either sell or otherwise transition the ownership of their business had to keep working, even as the long slump made staying in business a struggle. 

Aug 15, 2014 Barry Brundage
Photo by David Angstead, shutterstock

The Big Squeeze on Small Credit Unions

They may be on the verge of extinction

On a hot, sunny morning last fall, 69-year-old retiree Pamela Chappell of Citrus Heights hit rock bottom. She was scraping by on Social Security checks and a tiny pension while paying for medication to treat her lymphedema, a painful swelling in her legs. Then she got a letter from the IRS warning her that it was about to empty her  savings account of $8,000 — every dollar she had — for back taxes.

May 31, 2014 Steven Yoder

Rent the American Dream

Sacramento millennials aren't interested in mortgages

Brian Collins is a 26-year-old director of accounts at Sacramento-based mobile applications marketing firm Appency. He makes what he calls “decent money,” is putting lots of it into a 401(k) and has an eye on his financial future. And, like most people his age, he’s decided that buying a house is not part of the plan.

Mar 1, 2014 Steven Yoder

Merge or Purge

Community banks contemplate consolidation as regulatory costs grow

Banks throughout the country are putting new practices in place to comply with an onset of new federal regulations prompted by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other post-meltdown rule changes. Those expensive efforts are sparking major changes and concerns for some of the Capital Region’s smaller lenders.

Jul 31, 2013 Torey Van Oot

A Fair Use of Tax Dollars

I am no fan of Measure U, the voter-approved sales tax that went into effect in April. New taxes are rarely the answer to economic malaise.

May 31, 2013 Winnie Comstock-Carlson
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Accounting for Green

New research may change how commercial real estate loans are designed

Among the many risks involved in commercial real estate lending today, energy risk is so poorly understood that lenders simply do not have the tools they need to measure it. This ignorance of energy risk — the likelihood that higher energy costs compromise a building owner’s ability to make their mortgage payments — leads to inflated loans. This is because both efficient and inefficient buildings are judged the same in the eyes of the lender. But UC Berkeley researchers have developed a tool they claim would measure the net benefit of energy savings investments.

Feb 13, 2013 Bill Romanelli
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Bank of Tomorrow

New sources for business loans

Banks are running up against some odd new competitors these days. Big box retailer Costco is advertising mortgages. Wal-Mart has issued its own debit card. Amazon is offering loans to merchants in its online marketplace.

Feb 12, 2013 Robert Celaschi

Social Network

How crowdfunding connects strangers — and your business – to money

“Small Market, Big Heart” tells the story of the Sacramento Kings and their fans’ fight to hold onto the team. But the 80-minute documentary — packed with NBA archive footage and interviews with Kings’ executives, local politicians and sports entertainment personalities — isn’t from the NBA offices or an established production company.

Feb 12, 2013 Andrea Kennedy

Economic Evolution

It’s slow growing out there

Congratulations Sacramento. You finally got the economic recovery you’ve been asking for. 

It’s not as big or fast as you had wished for, but give it time. It should get stronger as we move toward 2014.

Jan 1, 2013 Robert Celaschi