There is a strange, yet popular phenomenon here in Hollywood. People hire a business manager to pay their bills and handle other money matters. The going rate is 5% of the person’s gross income. Yes, gross income (before taxes), not net income (after taxes). So, if you grossed $500,000, you’d pay $25,000 a year for this service. Make $1 million, and you are paying $50,000 a year, and so on…
In return, you never deal with any of your bills. I’ve had friends tell me that their business managers handled the purchases of their cars and homes. They may even do your taxes and set up retirement accounts. For that price, they should draw your nightly bath and tuck you in bed.
I’ll give you some examples of how my friends got hurt by this arrangement. I’ll tell you how to do exactly what a business manager does – at a fraction of the cost.
I Was Drafted Into Service
Recently, a friend told me his business manager was giving him the boot because he wasn’t making enough to afford them. They wanted to bill at least $1,500 per month. At 5% of his gross, that meant he’d have to earn at least $360,000 a year.
So my friend asked me to be his bookkeeper. I have done it for myself and family but I have never hung out my shingle. I agreed to give my weird interest a whirl at an hourly rate, to see how we both liked the new situation.
What I discovered got me angry. I got more fired-up about this than my friend did!
The Cost – First of all, no one was analyzing my friend’s bills. The biz manager got the
If you are like me and Vinnie Barbarino, you are on drugs. That could explain the whole Adele Dazeem thing.
I have health insurance through my employer, but sometimes I get a better deal on prescriptions from the drug manufacturer.
Long time readers will recall that I enjoy my deep fried cheese sticks with a Lipitor chaser. As I wrote in “Lipitor Gone Rogue”, I can get that drug for $4 per month.
I also have seasonal allergies. Before I got my inhaler this spring, I googled the drug name and “coupon”. That saved me $15 per month.
If you don’t wanna save yourself some money, then… Up your nose with a rubber hose!!
Do you wish you had some extra money so you can take a few days off, throw a little dinner party, or splurge on a remote controlled video drone. After all, it’s almost swimsuit season.
Howsabout $450 & $600 tax-free? That’s the equivalent of $600-$1,200 earned in your regular job before paying taxes.
Generally speaking, a lot of credit cards offer you something if you try them out. Long before I became a credit card expert, I signed up for cards that got me a free baseball, a beach towel, a discount off my purchase at The GAP. That is chump change. When I was checking out at Amazon.com yesterday, I was offered $80 off my order if I signed up for their Visa Rewards card. $80??? No bueno.
Best Bonus Bang For Your Buck
Right now, there are two cards that I suggest for collecting hard cold cash. Both give you bonus points that you can redeem for cash (among other things), if you meet the spending requirement in the first three months of opening the card.
1. Chase Sapphire Preferred (personal card): Earn 40,000 Bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You get an additional 5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user’s name. You do not have to give the authorized user a card. It is just a name on a card. No other info.
Maybe you get one for Barack Obama or Miggy Cabrera. Some people get a card for their cat Mr. Tibbers, but I don’t go that far.
When you get the card, and meet the spending requirement, you get the bonus points dumped into your account. You can redeem them for travel, hotels, statement credit, or even get a check sent to you. 45,000 points = $450 cash. Tax-Free money!
2. Chase Ink Plus (business card): Earn 60,000 Bonus points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. No authorized user bonus on this one. 60,000 bonus points = $600 tax-free! This is an increase of 10,000 bonus points over the usual offer – for a limited time.
Are you looking for some extra cash? Wanna set your own hours? Are you an excellent driver? If so, this could be for you, Rain Man.
As an uberX driver, you don’t have to invest in a chauffeur cap, stand in baggage claim holding a sign with someone’s name on it, invest in incense and beaded seat cover, or put a giant pink mustache on your car’s grill. You just get in your car and take people where they wanna go.
Maybe I’ll use that to pay you to drive me around while we reenact scenes from Arthur.
Have we learned nothing from VH-1’s Behind The Music?
It seemed that virtually every band on that show was swindled by their business manager. When you aren’t watching your money it can disappear.
In actor James Franco’s case, his talent manager Miles Levy allegedly charged a slew of his own personal expenses on Franco’s credit card – without Franco’s permission. But that is just the appetizer for this story.
The complaint (see it here) alleges that Franco’s talent manager Miles Levy and his financial manager Steve Blatt collaborated to steal 5% of Franco’s commissions from Levy’s talent management partners, Randy James and Ken Jacobson.
Here’s the deal. James Franco agreed to pay 15% commission to his talent management company James Levy Management, Inc.
According to the complaint, Levy told his management partners James and Jacobson back in 2006 that Franco only wanted to pay a commission of 10%. The thing is, Franco said no such thing.
Then Levy and Blatt formed the corporation “Down Goes Frazier, Inc.” to divert 5% of
My 7 year old Godson may be the next Ron Popeil… or Willy Loman. A few months back, he told his dad that he wanted to sell something on eBay. The boy went into his bedroom and came back with a map of the world that he received in the mail for free. He said, “Let’s sell this for $7.” Then he headed toward his office, or sandbox, or wherever the heck 7 year olds go. He only got a few feet away when he stopped in his tracks, turned slowly to his dad and said, “No, 5 bucks.”
His dad posted the Doctors Without Borders map on eBay for $4.99. Not only did that one sell, but so have 4 more. Yes, he just sold his 5th map. After about $1 in eBay, PayPal and postage fees per sale, the kid is swimming in cash. Someone paid him for his junk mail!
Remember this when doing some spring cleaning. As I wrote about in “Crazy Chip’s Cyber Yard Sale”, I have recouped thousands for myself, and almost $10,000 for my parents’ things. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It’s the perfect storm of commerce and recycling when someone is paying you to let them take away something you don’t want. It is a Win-Win for the Capitalist Pig, Dirty Hippie, and 7 year old in all of us!
American Express used to let you get one of their cards, haul in the big sign-up bonus, cancel the card, and repeat. You just had to put more than 365 days between when you cancelled the first card and applied for the new one.
After April 30th, they are putting the kibosh on that. You will only be allowed one sign-up bonus per lifetime. They have had this once-in-a-lifetime in their pocket for quite a while, but have not enforced it, instead graciously forking over the bonuses for years. (I have tens of thousands of airline miles and hotel points to prove it – thank you Amex!).
But word on the street is that stops in less than two weeks.
So, if you have had an Amex card in the past, and would like to get another sweet sign-up bonus, this is probably the last call to lather, rinse and repeat. You gotta be approved before May 1st to get another sign-up bonus.
In “Results of My April “App-Aloosa” I went into detail as to how I picked up my four favorite Amex cards (Delta Gold SkyMiles & Starwood Preferred Guest cards). Check out my thoughts on Starwood Points here and Delta SkyMiles here. Of course, Amex has many other cards.
Click on Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more. Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation. Click here for a handy way to meet spending requirements.
The Feds have gotten lots of grief recently for website ineptitude. But the IRS site is pretty good. Check it out. Yes, I am suggesting you spend some of your free time browsing the Internal Revenue Service website. Do I know how to have fun or what?
Is Future-You sleeping on a cot eating kibble?
If you figure Social Security will tide you over in your Geezer-dom, see how much you have socked away at SSA.gov.
A recent EBRI survey revealed that 36% of Americans have virtually nothing saved for retirement (less than $1,000 in savings and investments). Those 36 percent-ers probably assume Social Security will cover them. Or maybe they figure they won’t live that long, like the folks on Sugar Mountain or in Logan’s Run.
When you check out your SSA stash, keep mind that your estimated benefit is a future-dollar that will not stretch as far as today’s dollar.
For example, let’s say that in 20 years, you were going to collect $2,000 a month as an old fogey. Not too shabby. You may have to forego your country club membership, but that’ll cover your apartment and some biscuits and gravy to chomp on, right? Maybe. First, you gotta factor in inflation. The average annual inflation rate since 1913 is about 3%.
$2,000 in 20 years at 3% inflation will buy what $1,107 does today. How far does $1,107 go for you in 2014? Will that keep you in the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed?
I say this not to bum you out, but to motivate you to squirrel away a few bucks into an individual retirement account (IRA).
Get that snowball rolling this week. Start by opening an IRA at E-Trade. That’s where I have my IRA (what can I say? I was sucked in by the talking baby commercials). You have until April 15th to make a contribution to your IRA for 2013. You can decide what you want to invest in at a later date. The important thing is to open an account and put some money in your IRA.
Plug your SSA benefit number in this calculator to see where you stand:
In the summer of 1998, there were two movies about an asteroid coming to destroy Earth. TWO! “Armageddon” & “Deep Impact”. The odds of that happening are about as remote as, well… an asteroid destroying our planet, AM I RIGHT PEOPLE?! Pardon me for yelling into the microphone.
Here’s another freakish coincidence – of discounts. Now through June 30th, all THREE cards I wrote about here are giving 5% cash back at Home Depot (Citi Dividend), Lowe’s (Chase Freedom), or Home Improvement Stores (Discover it) up to a certain amount. The 5% cash back is limited to purchases up to $6,000 annually (Citi Dividend) and $1,500 per quarter (Chase Freedom & Discover it). Besides 5% cash back which could total $450 tax free, you could also get $200 tax free in sign up bonuses.
Another 10% off
If you are planning on doing some fixing up around the homestead, please read my post “Craigslist for Coupons = Big Savings”. That will tell you how to find 10% off coupons.
$10,000 for only $8,350
Let’s say you have a