Tax Help for Your 2018 Filing

2018 Marginal Income Tax Rates and Brackets

Revised  Income Brackets and Marginal Tax Rates  What are marginal tax rates?  It’s the percentage of your income that you pay in taxes.  Good news –the brackets (or income ranges) were lowered so most of us will be paying 2-3% less income tax. Find your annual income range and the associated percentage you'll pay below

Example: If you are single making $50,000/year you are in the 22% tax bracket

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Standard Deduction 2017 compared to 2018

The standard deduction was almost doubled to simplify the process and encourage less people to itemize their deductions. The 2018 tax reform bill got rid of the personal exemptions. To see what was eliminated click here.

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Your Budgeting Worksheet

Your Budgeting Worksheet

With this easy to use DIY budget worksheet you can start tracking your earnings and your spending, be mindful about your money and make better decisions that will lead to financial stability. Start gaining control by routinely checking back on just that one spreadsheet...and the best part is that your privacy is protected since the budgeting spreadsheet resides in your drive, so you don't have to share any information with anyone.

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How well do you receive money?

By: Liz Wolfe

I recently read a moving and insightful book called 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik.  It’s a true story of a man who completely turned his life around when he decided to write a thank you note every day for one year.  This memoir is an example of how powerful gratitude can be.

The story that I remember most from the book, though, was one that Kralik tells in the beginning.  He describes how as a young boy his grandfather gave him a silver dollar, telling him that if he received a thank you note, he would send another one.  As long as Kralik sent him a thank you note, the silver dollars would keep coming.  In this way, his grandfather taught him a life lesson in etiquette, while simultaneously illustrating how gratitude generates more abundance.

As the story goes, Kralik did indeed send his grandfather a thank you note, and true to his grandfather’s word, a shiny new silver dollar came back to him in the mail.  Once again he wrote a thank you note, and in return another silver dollar.  By the third silver dollar, however, Kralik had lost enthusiasm for the exchange, and did not send another thank you note, and thus the flow of silver dollars stopped. 

My husband and I don’t give an allowance to our children, so one day my son Julian came to me asking if he could earn some money.  “Sure,” I told him, and he presented a list of activities and how much each was worth.  Getting out of bed when called in the morning and getting dressed was worth 25 cents.  Making a bottle of seltzer was worth 10 cents.  Doing a complete load of laundry, including folding and putting it away was worth $1, etc.

For two weeks, Julian enthusiastically completed tasks, and as he did I dropped quarters in to a cup for him.  I noticed, however, that I was the one reminding him that if he did certain things he would get the money, and I soon tired of that game.  One day I said to him, “When you complete a task, you let me know, and I’ll put the money in the cup.”  I figured if he really wanted the money, he would tell me, plus, I wanted him to be the one taking the initiative.

For a while, Julian accumulated a fair amount of money in his cup, and got to spend some of it.  However, once I told him that he was responsible for letting me know he had earned money, the rate at which he earned it dropped significantly.  In fact, for the past month, he hasn’t asked me for money at all.  He still makes seltzer, he still gets out of bed and gets dressed in the morning, and does a host of other items that we decided on -- but he doesn’t collect on them.

The similarity between these two stories is that in both cases, had the child simply taken the initiative to do the prescribed activity as directed, they would have received more money easily and abundantly.  It caused me to think about how often I “leave money on the table.”  For instance, I have a check for $100 sitting on my desk right now that I just haven’t taken to the bank.  I’ve written in previous blogs about various gift certificates that end up buried in piles on my desk.  I even occasionally delay in submitting invoices for work I’ve done.  People actively owe me money, but I don’t collect on it, just like Julian and his chore money.

If inadequate cash flow is a frequent theme in your life, take a look at how well you are RECEIVING the money that is already out there in the universe waiting to come your way.  While there is a common belief that receiving is easy, many of us could use practice in this area.  Receiving is an action that requires conscious attention.  You can practice receiving by being gracious when people give things to you – compliments, gifts, a seat on the subway, and of course, money. 

I have a personal practice whereby any time anyone offers me money, I take it.  I want to tell the universe that I want money, and that I am ready to gratefully receive it.  That way, like the author’s grandfather, it will send me more.


Liz Wolfe cropped.jpg

Liz Wolfe is a skilled and energetic motivational speaker, coach and trainer. For more than 20 years she has inspired hundreds of people with her passionate stand of abundance: “There is plenty for everyone, including me.” As a coach for entrepreneurs, she empowers clients with her unique system: “A Clear Vision + Purposeful Action – Hidden Barriers = Breakthrough Results.” Lizwolfecoaching.com

Comment

Liz Wolfe

Liz Wolfe has lead trainings professionally for over 20 years. She is originally from Western Pennsylvania where she grew up on a sheep farm. She began her public speaking career as a child, doing spinning and weaving demos at local festivals with her family. In her formative years, she was money poor but resource rich. Her days on the farm supplied her with a wonderful foundation to learn about the abundance of the universe.

She came to New York City in 1987. Since then she has created a successful business with her husband, Jon, that focuses on helping companies and individuals realize their full potential.

Money Talks - Get in on the Conversation

By: Liz Wolfe

A hot topic these days is why the “1%” have accumulated so much wealth.  Perhaps you’ve seen the video that went viral demonstrating, with impressive graphics and mind-boggling statistics the chasm between the nation’s wealthiest and the bottom 20 percent.

So how did 1% do so well?  Is it because they greedily and purposely hoard wealth to keep it away from the rest of us?  Are people poor because they are lazy or financially irresponsible, especially when on public assistance?  Does the government unfairly favor the rich and big business?

Here’s my question:  who cares?

How much money they have has nothing to do with how much money you have.  There is an unlimited amount of money available to all of us, and the key is not figuring out why they have more than you do, but rather why you don’t have as much as you want. 

Here are some common ideas about money that keep us from creating as much as we want:

#1 –Money is a “thing” or a fixed entity

Money is energy.  Dollar bills and coins are merely symbols of the life energy we exchange and use as a result of the service we provide to the universe and to each other.  Thinking of money as an object restricts our ability to create it freely.  By learning to acknowledge it as energy, you will have unlimited access to it.

#2 –There is a limited supply; if wealthy people have too much, it takes away from my supply.

Back to reason #1.  There can be no limit because money is not a fixed entity.  There is an unlimited supply.  How much someone else has does not affect how much you have now, or will have in the future.  Ever!

People from the poorest and most difficult backgrounds — Steve Jobs and J.K Rowling are two — have found great fiscal success.   The top 1% didn’t stop them.

#3 –Money is directly related to personal worth.

People have the mistaken notion that you have to "deserve" money.  Wealthy people, the argument goes, shouldn't have so much, because no one "deserves" that kind of money. Who came up with this idea of “deserving” anyway?  To say “all that I deserve” puts a limit on it.  How do you know if you deserve it? Who decides if you deserve it?

Money is neutral.  It doesn’t care if you deserve it or not.  You have as much money as you have created up until now. End of story.

#4 – It is more noble to be poor than rich, and rich people are selfish.

Stories often portray the rich as unfeeling and stingy, and the poor as benevolent and generous.  While true that the working class gives more to charity proportionate to their income than wealthy people, it’s not true that all rich people are selfish.    

#5 – You have to have money to make money. 

Since money is energy, it can be created from nothing.  Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Just ask someone for money,   someone that you know will give it to you. You ask, they give, and you have it.  There!  Created from nothing!

#6 – Money is good – wait, no, it’s bad...

We’re told “Money makes the world go round” yet “money is the root of all evil.”  “Money can’t buy happiness”, but we’re convinced that we’d be happier if we had more of it.  No wonder money seems so perplexing.  We’ve received mixed messages about money that are confusing and incorrect!

#7 – We are not skilled at receiving money. 

Actually, we’re usually not skilled at receiving in general, but money in particular presents challenges for people.  It stems back to reason #3 (we don’t think we deserve it) and reason #4 (if we accept it we’re not good people.) 

I have a personal policy – whenever anyone ever offers me money, I take it.  I want the universe to know that I am open to receiving money at any time.  So, I always say yes!

It’s all about perspective

The makers of the video I mentioned before despair at the chasm between the top 1% and the bottom 20%.   However, if we took the bottom 20% of the US demographic and compared just that portion to the demographics of most "developing" nations, it would likely fall in, if not the top 1% then at least the top 10 or 20% of a graph of all those nations.

Think of it this way.  First, put yourself somewhere on this scale:

Affluent

Prosperous

Managing

Struggling

Impoverished

Destitute

Most "middle class" people put themselves somewhere around “managing” or “struggling”. Now, think about the photo of that child that UNICEF sends out when soliciting donations – the one that hasn't eaten for a month and has a distended stomach and two parents with AIDS. Now, compare yourself and your situation to that child, and place yourself on the scale. Compared to that child, you're affluent.

Back to my original point.  How much the 1% has, while certainly unbalanced, is irrelevant to how much money I have the OPPORTUNITY to create.  For that, we’re all on equal footing.


Liz Wolfe cropped.jpg

Liz Wolfe is a skilled and energetic motivational speaker, coach and trainer. For more than 20 years she has inspired hundreds of people with her passionate stand of abundance: “There is plenty for everyone, including me.” As a coach for entrepreneurs, she empowers clients with her unique system: “A Clear Vision + Purposeful Action – Hidden Barriers = Breakthrough Results.” Lizwolfecoaching.com

Comment

Liz Wolfe

Liz Wolfe has lead trainings professionally for over 20 years. She is originally from Western Pennsylvania where she grew up on a sheep farm. She began her public speaking career as a child, doing spinning and weaving demos at local festivals with her family. In her formative years, she was money poor but resource rich. Her days on the farm supplied her with a wonderful foundation to learn about the abundance of the universe.

She came to New York City in 1987. Since then she has created a successful business with her husband, Jon, that focuses on helping companies and individuals realize their full potential.

The Key to Handling Credit Card Trouble: Don't Procrastinate!

by Elliot Raphaelson

Consumers can find themselves with insurmountable debt for any number of reasons. Unwise use of credit cards ranks near the top. As a Florida certified county mediator for the last 12 years, I have seen cases involving failure to pay credit-card debt increase markedly over time.

It is not unusual for an account with a limit of $2,000 to rack up a balance of, say, $4,000 within a few years. How does this happen?

Many, if not most, consumers fail to read the initial agreement when they sign for a credit card; they assume they will always be able to make sufficient payments. When they cannot make the required minimum payments, or when they charge more than the limit on their card, bad things happen. Failure to make minimum payments results in an increase in the interest rate and a monthly charge for not making a minimum payment. Exceeding the card's credit limit brings additional charges.

When faced with hard times, many people naturally pay mortgage and car payments first, putting off paying their credit card debt. Given the high interest rates and fees this triggers, their debt can quickly spiral out of control.

Once you stop making minimum payments on your credit card bill, your card issuer will send you statements showing additional fees and higher interest rates. If you do nothing, these fees and charges will continue to accumulate.

If you do nothing and procrastinate until faced with a lawsuit, your options become limited. The credit-card issuer, or its representative, is entitled to legal expenses as well as court costs, if it can demonstrate that you owe the amount in question.

Along the way, however, you may have options you are not aware of to get a resolution more in your favor.

For example, once you have failed to make minimum payments for several months, the creditor recognizes that it is unlikely that you will be able to pay off the account in full. If it is forced to sell this account to a collection company, it will do so at substantial loss, so it may be willing to negotiate with you. If you offer to pay off some portion of the balance over a short time frame, such as two to three months, you may be able to receive a substantial discount.

If you are unable to negotiate successfully with your creditor, you can get help from a local nonprofit counseling agency. Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org, or call 800-388-2227) to help you find one.

If the issuer has increased the interest rate on your account because of missed payments, try to renegotiate the rate. (When you call the creditor's customer service line, you can ask to speak with a supervisor.) Indicate you are now able to make minimum payments -- if the company is willing to reduce the interest rate. You have nothing to lose.

What can you do once you have been sued by a debt collection firm for an account on which you have not made payments for several years? If you do not believe you owe the money, or if you believe the amount is incorrect, send a certified letter (requiring acknowledgement of receipt) asking for documented proof.

When an account is purchased by a debt collection firm, especially if it has been sold many times, the firm may not have sufficient documentation. This helps your bargaining position. If the case is heard by a judge, the plaintiff will have to provide proof to the judge that the debt is owed. Once you request such proof from the debt collection firm, they know they are dealing with an educated consumer.

State and local laws and procedures vary. Your case may be heard by a mediator initially, who cannot offer you advice. If you believe your case is strong, you should insist on an appearance before a judge. If you do not want to appear before a judge, you should negotiate with the collection firm; there is no downside in asking for favorable terms for repayment and lower and/or no future interest charges. The collection firm may not want to appear before the judge either, especially if it has insufficient documentation. If you have requested documentation, and it hasn't provided it, it probably doesn't have it.

If you have credit card debt you can't handle, don't procrastinate. Find ways to pay off the debt at a discount, or have the interest rate reduced. Otherwise, the debt will increase quickly, and it will become even more difficult for you to resolve the problem.

 

Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at elliotraph@gmail.com

(c) 2012 ELLIOT RAPHAELSON. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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Elliot Raphaelson

A retired executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, Elliot Raphaelson joined The Savings Game after decades of experience as an advisor, teacher and author in the field of personal finance. He has taught courses in personal financial planning at The New School for Social Research and at the Military Academy at West Point, as well conducting seminars for Chase, Dow Jones & Co. and other corporations.

Past publications include Planning Your Financial Future (Wiley, 1982), and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, Vogue, Self, Savvy and Working Woman magazines. For ten years he has worked as a certified mediator and trainer in a Florida county court, where he helps resolve personal financial problems of every description.

A Gigantic Business Lesson From A Gigantic Pumpkin

Ordinary pumpkins are kinda, well, ordinary. When Halloween comes around you likely go to the farm to pick out a nice round one for the porch. But besides that, you pay little attention to pumpkins. That is until you see a story of a mammoth pumpkin in the local paper. You know what I am talking about; one of those prize winning, nearly a ton, behemoth pumpkins.

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Do You Have A Scarcity Mindset?

From our earliest childhood memories, most of us remember hearing specific messages about money from the adults that took care of us. What did you hear when you were growing up? Was money hard to come by? Was it tight? Did you hear the adults around you arguing about money? Did it feel like there was never enough for everyone to feel good?

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A "Hair"-oing Tale: What Does It Mean For Your Career?

Women & money expert Manisha Thakor explores the impact on long term women's economic empowerment of pieces that deride professional women for the very bodies they were born with. In this case, she examines the backlash facing former News Corp International CEO Rebekah Brooks' choice to appear in Parliament with... gasp... her real hair down.

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Turn Your Kids Into Personal Finance Champs

by Manisha Thakor

Do your children think you are a walking ATM?

If you are tired of "must-have-that-toy-right-now" tantrums as you walk down the aisles of Target or Toys “R” Us, go straight to your nearest bookstore and buy Alisa T. Weinstein's new book, EARN IT, LEARN IT.  Alisa tosses the old allowance-based system of teaching your kids about money and replaces it with: J.O.B.S.  But not in the way you might think...

Innovative learning lessons can transform a child's life. When I was growing up one of my pivotal memories was sitting down with my dad who showed me how to calculate how much money I'd have in my IRA down the road if I contributed my babysitting and lawn mowing money to it and it grew at 6%, 8%, 10%, etc.  Yeesh. Once I saw that if I saved $2,000 a year (the annual max contribution back then) for 50 years and earned 8% average annual returns I'd have over $1,000,000 - I was hooked. It changed my attitude about money forever. Learning to be responsible with money became fun. Now most kids aren't as wonky as I was so punching the keys of an HP12C financial calculator might not do it for them, but I have a strong hunch Alisa's unique approach will.

How did you come up with this concept of using jobs to teach kids about money?

I credit my daughter completely. She wanted “one more lip balm Mommy!” and I thought 13 lip balms were plenty for a four-year-old (a four-year-old!). In my exasperation I told her to “get a job.” As soon as I said it, I just knew that was how she was going to earn her allowance: by test-driving real jobs.

How does EARN IT, LEARN IT work?

For the book, I interviewed 49 people with 49 different careers. I then translated their day-to-day responsibilities into kid-friendly tasks, many of which take 15 minutes. So when Mia was a Toy Designer, she cut out a paper version of her favorite stuffed toy and we talked about things like hard costs (which she apparently doesn’t have because “Mom, I don’t pay for [that stuff]. You do!”)

What is the most surprising reaction you've had so far from a child?

I say this with a big smile: the most surprising reactions don’t come from kids. The real surprise reactions are from parents, who didn’t realize it could be so easy, and take so little time, to get their kids engaged in something totally worthwhile.

What is the most common challenge parents have today when teaching their children about money?

It has to be just getting started. Talking about money makes people uncomfortable. On top of this, the traditional methods (paying for chores, odd jobs, or no strings attached) aren’t much fun. Since we’re all so busy, it would seem easier to avoid the subject altogether. But then you end up with a kid who thinks the world exists to provide her with another lip balm.

What have you personally learned about money while writing this book?

I was lucky. My parents taught me early on that what we do to earn money can be even more valuable than the money itself. Which means being more open to finding a career that simply makes us feel good. And this not only makes life richer, it makes living with (and learning about) money a lot more fun. [You can follow Alisa on Twitter at @EarnMyKeep]

What experiences have you had teaching your kids about money?


[Want more financial love? You can follow Women's Financial Literacy Initiative founder, Manisha Thakor, on Twitter at @ManishaThakor or on Facebook at /MThakor.]

Comment /Source

Manisha Thakor

From Manisha's linkedin profile page:

Manisha Thakor is the Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and The BAM Alliance. 

Manisha and her colleagues provide both evidence-based wealth advisory services for high-net-worth households and core asset management solutions for women and families nationwide with $80,000 or more in investible assets. 

An ardent financial literacy advocate for women, Manisha is the co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books: ON MY OWN TWO FEET: a modern girl’s guide to personal finance and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey. She is on Faculty at The Omega Institute and serves as a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha is also a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Experts Panel, a member of the 2015 CNBC Financial Advisor’s Council, and wearing her financial educator’s hat serves as a part of TIAA-CREF’s Women’s Initiative. 

Manisha's financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets including CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, Real Simple, Women’s Day, Glamour, Essence, and MORE magazine.

Prior to joining the Buckingham team, Manisha spent over twenty years working in financial services. On the institutional side she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager and client relations executive at SG Warburg, Atalanta/Sosnoff Capital, Fayez Sarofim & Co., and Sands Capital Management. After this she moved to the retail side and ran her own independent registered investment advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management. 

Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, her BA from Wellesley College in 1992 and is a CFA charterholder. She lives in Portland, OR where she delights in the amazing Third Wave coffee scene and stunning natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Manisha’s website is MoneyZen.com.

Generation Earn: A Chat With Kimberly Palmer

by Manisha Thakor

US News & World Report senior editor and personal finance columnist, Kim Palmer, has written an excellent new book for young professionals: GENERATION EARN.  Kim was kind enough to share her thoughts both on the writing of the book and to highlight "5 Money Tips for Today's Young Professionals."

What motivated you to write GENERATION EARN? I felt frustrated with the constant focus on how bad our generation is with money. We’re told that we have too much debt and are clueless about finances, but the fact is, we’ve learned a lot from the recession. We were forced to learn how dangerous debt can be and how important it is to save and understand where your money is. As a result, we probably know more about money than any previous generation did at our age. I wanted to help people with their new goals-- financial security, supporting growing families, and giving back in meaningful way.

What has surprised you the most as you've talked to people about GENERATION EARN? That there has been a huge shift in how young people think about money. We care more about having money in the bank than impressing people with big houses or fancy cars. Financial security is the new measure of success. But that doesn’t mean we’re greedy – in fact, the focus on giving back is a hallmark of our generation. We also want to make sure we’re spending our money in ways that support the bigger causes, from environmentalism to social justice, that we believe in.

What do you know today that you wish you had known 5 years ago about personal finance? That the only way to get ahead financially is to save at least one-third of your income. It sounds impossible, and sometimes it is. But if you don’t start saving that much for your emergency fund, goals, and retirement in your twenties and thirties, it’s just going to get harder later, when you have even more responsibilities. Sometimes that means living in a tiny apartment for a lot longer than you ever thought you would.

5 Money Tips for Today’s Young Professionals... from Kimberly Palmer

  1. Save one-third of your income. Yes, saving such a big chunk of money each month means sacrificing some comforts and indulgences for the short-term, but it’s the only way to get closer to that ultimate goal of financial security.

  2. Don’t scrimp on career-related investments. There’s one area where it’s okay to be a spendaholic, and that’s when it comes to investing in your future earning power. The category includes not only education expenses, but also voice lessons for an aspiring podcaster, how-to books for those with potentially lucrative hobbies, and even a new wardrobe for office workers who need to impress the higher-ups.

  3. Pay off all but your cheapest student loans early. Student loans that carry a 5 or 6 percent interest rate (or higher) are costing you much more than your savings can earn in our current low-interest rate environment. That means paying off a chunk of your loans will immediately start saving you more money than you could if you continue to make those slow and steady monthly payments.

  4. Don’t wait to invest until you have “extra money."Waiting to start a retirement account until you feel like you can afford it might mean you can never retire. Don’t wait to open up a 401(k) account if your workplace offers it, even if you start by contributing just 2 percent of your salary.

  5. Give back – on your own terms. Use Charity Navigator to check up on the background of your chosen organization before donating any money to make sure they’re going to use the money the way you want them to.

What about you - what advice do you have for today's young professionals?

[For more MoneyZen in your life, follow Manisha on Twitter at @ManishaThakor, on Facebook at /MThakor, or visit MoneyZen.com.]

Comment /Source

Manisha Thakor

From Manisha's linkedin profile page:

Manisha Thakor is the Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and The BAM Alliance. 

Manisha and her colleagues provide both evidence-based wealth advisory services for high-net-worth households and core asset management solutions for women and families nationwide with $80,000 or more in investible assets. 

An ardent financial literacy advocate for women, Manisha is the co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books: ON MY OWN TWO FEET: a modern girl’s guide to personal finance and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey. She is on Faculty at The Omega Institute and serves as a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha is also a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Experts Panel, a member of the 2015 CNBC Financial Advisor’s Council, and wearing her financial educator’s hat serves as a part of TIAA-CREF’s Women’s Initiative. 

Manisha's financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets including CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, Real Simple, Women’s Day, Glamour, Essence, and MORE magazine.

Prior to joining the Buckingham team, Manisha spent over twenty years working in financial services. On the institutional side she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager and client relations executive at SG Warburg, Atalanta/Sosnoff Capital, Fayez Sarofim & Co., and Sands Capital Management. After this she moved to the retail side and ran her own independent registered investment advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management. 

Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, her BA from Wellesley College in 1992 and is a CFA charterholder. She lives in Portland, OR where she delights in the amazing Third Wave coffee scene and stunning natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Manisha’s website is MoneyZen.com.