If You Have More Than $1,000 in Your Checking Account, Make These 5 Moves

You’ve done it. You’ve built up a little cushion in your bank account — $1,000! It feels good, right? Those days of checking your account balance in a panic are behind you.Congrats! You’re on the right path. Now it’s time to think about some longer-term goals. What do you want to accomplish next with your money? Do you need to save more? Do you want to buy a home someday? Invest?What’s the next step you should take? What are some specific things you can do to take your finances to the next level?

We’ve got some ideas for you:

1. You Can Cancel Your Car Insurance

Did you know you can save some serious money just by switching car insurance companies?Its true — rates are at historic lows, and you could be paying way less for the same coverage. All you need to do is look for it.But don’t waste your time hopping around to different insurance companies.

Use a website called EverQuote  to see all your options at once.EverQuote is the largest online marketplace for insurance in the US, so you’ll get the top options from more than 175 different carriers handed right to you.Take a couple of minutes to answer some questions  about yourself and your driving record. With this information, EverQuote will be able to give you the top recommendations for car insurance. In just a few minutes, you could save up to $610 a year.

2. Give Your Family $1M

Have you thought about what would happen to your family after you die? How will they pay the mortgage? Send the kids to school?We know; it’s not fun to think about. But getting a life insurance policy is one of the most important things you can do if you have people who depend on you.A company called Insure.com can help you get a policy for as little as $10 a month — and in just two minutes.

Maybe you’ve considered it before, but it felt like an expensive hassle — or like something you only need to do when you’re older. But the truth is, even if you’re young and healthy, it’s often smart to lock in a cheaper policy now. Rates tend to go up as you age.Insure.com will show you quotes from different companies so you can compare and find the right policy for you. You never have to leave the house or take a medical exam. You don’t even have to speak to a human if you don’t want to.Take two minutes to answer a few quick questions to make sure you protect the ones you love.

3. Invest in Famous Art (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)

Here’s the deal: If you’re not investing in contemporary art, you might be missing out on an asset whose prices have outpaced the S&P by 164% from 1995 to 2020. (FYI, the S&P tracks 500 of the largest companies in the stock market) Monets, right?

But a company called Masterworks lets normal people like us invest in multimillion-dollar works of art — something typically only available to the super rich. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a masterpiece outright; with Masterworks, you can invest in multimillion dollar paintings with only $1,000. Investing in contemporary art is a long-term strategy, so patience pays off here — literally. But once your piece of art sells, you get your share of the potential profits.

4. Stop Overpaying at Amazon

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Amazon or Target and are about to overpay? Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

5. Ask This Website to Help Pay Off Your Credit Cards

No, like… the whole bill. All of it.

While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a website called Fiona  could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

Fiona can help you borrow up to $250,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 2.49%.

Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online . It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it. All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.

By The Penny Hoarder Staff

Source: If You Have More Than $1,000 in Your Checking Account, Make These 5 Moves – The Penny Hoarder

Creating a budget is an important financial step that can help you get your finances in order and track how much money comes in and out of your bank account every month. While it may seem like a lot of work to create a budget, there are numerous online resources and apps that can help you. Plus, once you have one, the majority of the work is done, and you can tweak it as your spending habits or income change. After you create a budget, it’s important to stick to it. Regularly check-in with your budgeting goals so you don’t spend more than you can afford to repay.

And if you share expenses with someone else, make sure you both have access to the budget and hold each other accountable. Establishing a good credit score is key to qualifying for the best financial products, like credit cards and loans. Plus, the higher your credit score, the better terms you’ll receive, which can save you thousands of dollars in interest in the long-run (we always recommend you pay your balance on time and in full each month). One of the catches of building credit is you need to have some credit history in order to qualify for a credit card, but it’s hard to qualify for a card without any credit history. One option is to become an authorized user on a family member or friend’s credit card.

You could also consider applying for a secured card, which works the same as a regular credit card, but you’re required to put down a deposit (typically $200). There are also a few options that can help you raise your credit score without a credit card, like *Experian Boost™. This is a free feature that lets you link positive payment history for monthly utility, phone and Netflix bills, potentially boosting your FICO® score. Once you have a credit card, the easiest way to improve your credit score is to regularly use the card, be mindful to spend within your means, make sure you pay at least the minimum on time every month and pay in full whenever possible. Check out more tips to improve your credit score.

One of the best steps you can take in your 20s is to establish an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses that may arise, such as medical bills or car repairs. The money in your emergency fund can help you avoid taking out a loan or carrying a balance on a credit card, which can save you money on interest charges. When you set up an emergency fund, consider keeping the money in a high-yield savings account, like Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings or Ally Online Savings Account. These online accounts only allow you withdraw money up to six times a month without penalty, which might help reduce the temptation to withdraw money for non-emergencies.

Experts generally recommend putting three to six months of expenses into an emergency fund, but amid the coronavirus pandemic and high unemployment rates, some financial experts are offering more realistic advice about how much people should try to save. Instead, you should focus on saving as much as you can afford, after covering necessary bills. It’s OK to start with a smaller goal. Saving $20 a week (roughly $3 a day) adds up to $1,000 in a year, which is a good cushion to get you started. It’s never too soon to start saving for retirement, and the earlier you start putting money toward your future, the more it can grow. When you get your first full-time job, your employer may offer a retirement account, such as 401(k), that you can open and deposit a percentage of every paycheck into each pay period.

Many employers also match your contributions up to a certain percentage, which is a great way to maximize savings. As a general rule of thumb, opt to save at least a percentage that is equal to your employer’s match. So if they match up to 6% of your contribution each paycheck, choose to transfer 6% or more to your 401(k) every pay period.

While employer-sponsored retirement accounts are helpful, you don’t have to wait until you have a full-time job to start saving for retirement. Roth IRAs are a great alternative to a 401(k), and you can set up recurring transfers from every paycheck so you never have a chance to miss the money. If you have student loan or credit card debt, you should make paying it off a priority in your 20s. Owing money to a lender has the potential to hurt your credit by increasing your utilization rate (the percentage of credit you use), which can result in a lower credit score.

Lenders may also consider you a high-risk borrower if you have a large amount of debt, which may reduce your chances of qualifying for other financial products. And beyond affecting your credit score and qualification chances, you’ll wind up paying a lot of money in interest charges the longer you carry debt. Take the time to make a clear debt repayment plan and stick to it. After you create a budget, consider how much money you can put toward your debt every month. Some experts recommend that 20% of your take-home pay should be earmarked for debt repayment and savings. If you want to pay your debt down faster, you might divert more of your income toward that goal.

You can also consider debt consolidation if you have balances spread across numerous cards. Debt consolidation can help you minimize the number of accounts you need to pay each month and sometimes offer lower interest charges than a credit card. While you’re in your 20s, consider ways you can build good money habits and be proactive with your finances. Get into the habit of regularly checking your different account balances. Avoid paying unnecessary monthly fees by switching to a no-fee checking account, like the Capital One 360 Checking® Account, or earning a competitive interest rate with a high-yield savings account like Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings.

Make sure to spend within your means and avoid racking up unnecessary credit card debt and paying high interest charges. You can also consider optimizing the credit card(s) you use and opening a card that has rewards tailored to your spending habits. There are hundreds of cards offering bonus rewards on groceries, gas, dining out, travel and more. You may also want to consider a simple flat-rate cash-back card that earns you the same amount of rewards on every purchase, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card (2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill).

In addition to saving money and earning rewards, you should be proactive and monitor any changes to your credit history. Spotting fraud early can save you time and money in the long run, but it’s not easy to do on your own. Signing up for a credit monitoring service can provide you with an early notice of potential fraud, so you can take steps to protect your personal information. There are a lot of services to choose from, so Select ranked the best free and paid credit monitoring services, so you can make an informed decision before you sign up. IdentityForce® UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit services rank as our top picks if you plan on paying for a service, providing alerts for changes to your credit reports from all three credit bureaus, as well as up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

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How The Real Estate Industry Can Simplify The Investment Process

For generations, real estate has proven to be a successful way to build wealth in America. People buy a home, often build equity over time, then sell their home.

CNBC reported in December that close to 95,000 homes were flipped in the third quarter of 2021, an increase for the second quarter in a row. In the past, buying single-family homes, fixing them up and selling them at a profit has largely been the purview of those with access to capital and privy to hard-to-obtain information, such as accurate data on home valuations and the true costs of conducting repairs. These acted as barriers to entry.

My company uses the power of data and technology to bring lending for real estate investors into the digital age, and I’ve observed technology has ushered dramatic changes into the market in recent years. If the real estate industry is to continue to grow and welcome groups of investors who have traditionally been walled out, I believe key stakeholders must continue to rid the home-buying process of high fees, needless complexity and inefficiencies, as well as expand access to capital.

Artificial intelligence is already creating change among lenders.

Buying a home obviously requires money, and that typically means acquiring a loan. To do that, an investor usually needs a good credit score. FICO is one of many ​​ways lenders assess someone’s creditworthiness. Most measure factors such as someone’s level of debt, credit history, the type of credit used and new credit accounts. For years, critics have questioned whether FICO is an accurate way to predict someone’s ability to pay back a loan.

In recent years, more and more lenders have turned to alternative means to measure creditworthiness, my company included. The rise of artificial intelligence has begun to create massive change. The ability to find alternative ways to determine credit risk could open more doors to groups who have not always received a fair credit evaluation.

That said, much has been written about the problem of introducing bias into these AI algorithms. While I believe AI is still a good option, it is still important to consider some challenges associated with using AI in the lending process.

For example, AI-based engines exhibit many of the same biases as humans because they were trained on biased credit decisions and historical inequities in housing and lending markets data. In order to address these inequities, AI-based engines should be designed to encourage greater equity, rather than try to align with previous credit decisions. Lenders can achieve this by removing bias from data before a model is built, which includes eliminating model variables that directly or indirectly create fair lending disparities.

Moreover, it’s important to add more constraints to the model so that it can encourage equity. For example, these constraints can reduce the difference in outcomes for people in different zip codes who have the same risk profile. If AI-based engines are left unchecked, they can reinforce the inequities that lenders want them to eliminate.

There’s still more to be done.

Buying a home is a stressful process; identifying the right market, finding a home that fits the investor’s criteria, getting financing and closing on time can be challenging. An investor needs to study the market by researching statistics in the area, including housing prices, housing inventory, listing prices and days on the market. In addition, one must get prices for renovation materials and identify the ​​right contractors. As such, investors need adequate tools to analyze different markets and deals.

Years ago, determining a home’s value required a real estate agent. Along with large institutional investors, agents were primarily the only ones with access to this information on a large scale. Now, technology has leveled the playing field, and a real estate investor can log on to Zillow, Redfin or similar sites and learn about price, value and trends regarding nearly any property in the country. This has simplified the buying process, but more needs to be done. Here are a few areas the real estate industry could work to address:

• Developing a better experience for virtual walkthroughs: Today, there are solutions that allow for virtual inspections to avoid the hassle of scheduling an in-person visit, which can be challenging, particularly if the property is out of state. But there is an opportunity to further streamline the process by leveraging technology. Virtual reality headsets showed early promise but haven’t taken off as expected, and there’s a significant need to improve the way to get an on-the-scene feeling for a property without spending the time and money to visit in person.

• Providing more digital tools and products: Tackling the different steps and paperwork involved with buying requires a degree of know-how. For real estate investors, speed is crucial, as an investor might be in the process of acquiring multiple properties at the same time while competing with other investors. It can be cumbersome and tedious to manage the paperwork for multiple properties at the same time. For this reason, companies in the real estate space can also aim to create technology that further streamlines the process, provides transparency every step of the way and helps scale.

The area is ripe for disruption. The goal for the players in the real estate industry should be to make the process of buying and selling a home much more akin to buying and selling a car. If we do that, we can truly transform the real estate industry.

Source: How The Real Estate Industry Can Simplify The Investment Process

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The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

I was recently a guest speaker at the Sales Leadership Conference organized by Dr. Karen Peesker, Co-Founder of the Sales Leadership Institute, a department at the Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson University) in Toronto, Canada. The conference was hosted by IT World Canada, Microsoft, DHL, Rogers and other community leaders. The conference goals were to bring university professors, students, industry leaders, and academicians to share their learning programs, identify gaps and requirements to advance the sales profession and most importantly, tackle a vision for the future of sales.

The strongest theme of the conference was the business imperative for advancing digital literacy, data literacy and ensuring that technology was firmly embedded in all sales learning programs. Digital literacy is best defined as an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and clearly communicate information and knowledge through using diverse digital platforms. It is best evaluated by an individual’s interaction skills with technology and includes: grammar, composition, typing skills and the ability to produce text, images, audio and designs using technology.

This point was acutely reinforced by Fawn Annan, the CEO of IT World Canada (ITWC), with her high impact video conference address, where she identified how pervasive technology is in shifting the global sales landscape. Her panoramic and rich perspectives highlighting how diverse technologies – AI, analytics, IoT, driverless cars – are collectively impacting the world of a sales professional at work, and in society.

Annan quoted Gartner Group’s research stating that “a seller’s decision making is now based more on data, analytics and AI, versus intuition and experience” – prior stable hallmarks of a sales professional. This means that sales professionals will need far more digital literacy and data literacy training to be able to function in a far more data centric world. Other key takeaways from this video included:

1.) Hyper automation is advancing a buyer’s sales journey, and that a seller only has 26 moments to engage and influence a buyer in his /her purchasing journey. In other words, finding the right moments is even more important in following the customer data crumbs.

2.) Consumers check their cell phones on average 47 times/day and these frequent check-in’s, according to Google, are referred to as micro-moments. Hence the increased value of AI driven advertising as well the increasing intrusion consumers feel in invading their privacy.

3.) Over 76% of consumers transact and ship on mobile devices, and this number is increasing year-over-year. Hence, sales professionals’ primary interaction devices must be mobile and portable.4.) Sales applications exist throughout the sales buyer’s journey and increasingly, they are AI applications. According to McKinsey, the fastest growing companies invest more in AI sales digital tools than slower growth companies. A major contributor of sales performance success is having a robust sales software infrastructure. Hence, companies must accelerate their investments in sales intelligence software toolkits for advancing competitive advantage.

5.) Annan profiled two companies in her video address: SalesChoice and RingCentral. SalesChoice’s focus is on accelerating the growth of sales professionals and is a comprehensive AI platform well known for its proven sales use cases. Solutions include:

· Predictive Opportunity Scoring (focusing on the best deals with highest probability of a win outcome),

· Predictive Sales Forecasting that are securing prediction levels of up to 95% accuracy,

· Monitoring your data to ensure the AI predictions are on solid foundations,

· Relationship intelligence, with their new alliance partner, IntroHive, to bring even more win or loss signals to the attention of sales professionals. Who would not want to buy software that can predict your future outcomes at the top of your funnel and predict a win or a loss on every sales deal outcome, and identify the depth and breadth of your customer relationships across your enterprise?

· Mood and Health Intelligence: SalesChoice is active in innovation research with the Ontario Center of Innovation (AVIN program) and Purolator, propagating the importance of health in advancing employee productivity, and reducing attrition. Did you know that according to Payscale, sales account management was ranked as the second most stressful job, with 73% of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.” Salespeople are under a lot of pressure to meet quota, convert quickly, and keep approval rankings high.

So increasing health approaches are critical to ensure sales talent don’t burn out or give up. Estimates of annual turnover among U.S. salespeople run as high as 27%—twice the rate in the overall labor force. In many industries, the average tenure of a sales professionals is less than two years. Given that the costs to recruit a sales professional is 20% and the time it takes to ramp up a sales professional is around 9 months, you can see how expensive it is to not retain your sales talent.

AI can act like a crystal ball. With good data, the mathematical genius in an AI algorithm and computational power is like the holy grail to guide sales professionals to greater deal outcome success and hopefully to happier behaviors and positive win outcomes as well.

The second company profiled was Ring Central, where Annan highlighted their collaboration and call center solutions, using AI methods to optimize building more productive customer interactions. Leaders like Sheevaun Thatcher, are advancing sales modernization programs at Ring Central, integrated diverse disciplines from: Adult Learning, Interactive Design, Strategic Planning, Collaborative Leadership, Diversity and Inclusiveness and always connecting the dots seamlessly. If there is a leader to watch advancing the field of sales and learning enablement, it is Sheevaun Thatcher.

Annan consistently highlighted that having advanced AI solutions can make a major difference to your digital conversion success, and reinforced that the old tools of looking in the rear view mirror are simply yesterday’s approaches. Due to the rapid speed of our world’s changing footprint, having smarter and forward looking (predictive AI analytics) toolkits is the only way that companies can grow faster, and more importantly, survive.

Increased AI Sales Toolkits Knowledge and Competency is Key.

Educating sales professionals to be ready for a smarter AI focused workplace will require skills, knowledge and proficiency in using modernized toolkits. So sales training must offer hands-on and practical skills development in universities to hit the ground running and bring value to a company immediately upon hiring.

Companies that use AI for sales in pre-sales have seen a 50% boost in leads, a 60-70% reduction in call time, and a 40-60% cost reduction. Numerous toolkits are in the market identifying the ideal buyer prospect and even knowing the propensity (density) of a buyer’s interest in your solution. Knowing where you customer is in their buyer journey is an inflection point for engaging in a micro-moment. Leading solutions advancing leads using AI are profiled in this blog.

In addition to pre-sales, other AI approaches can be used in opportunity scoring, predictive forecasting, and even mood / health indicator correlated to win rates. These are all areas that SalesChoice, a former ITWC Digital Transformation Award recipient, has been pioneering in.

According to the 2021 Buyer Experience Study, 80% of SaaS buyers report the buying process has too many steps and results in frustration for both the buyers and sellers. Hence, what this means for developing sales training programs is that skills not relevant to technology will need to be balanced with those that are. For example, empathy and two-way listening is key. Strong sales professionals understand that a buyer comes to solve a specific problem and not to buy your product. Understanding your buyer’s need is key in order to find a path for resolving it rapidly and reducing buyer and seller friction.

Research has shown that identifying the needs of your buyer can shorten sales cycle by as much as 65%. Customers (buyers) are coming into sales cycles far more informed from online sources. Hence, sales professionals need to learn more consultation skills to unravel the customer’s needs using relevant problem solving skills, enabled with as much prior information on the buyer as the buyer has on the seller.

Increase Training on Collaboration and Selling Virtually

With continued reliance on working virtually, the sales professionals will need to use a variety of online sales toolkits, ranging from a leading CRM (HubSpot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.,), calendar management system, and collaboration system (like Zoom, or Microsoft Teams) etc. Expertise for effective collaboration will need to include skills in emotional intelligence, written skills, video presence (posture, smiling vs frowning), and voice skills (how you sound impacts how people want to listen). Other key skills like relationship development are increasingly valued in our network economy as building trust online must be mastered in seconds to capture a conversion in a micro-moment exchange.

Increase Digital Literacy Skills

There are many skills in digital literacy – from being able to use software, operate a digital device, to the ability to manage complex cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills to function effectively in digital high-tech environments. Key areas in digital literacy for a sales professional will need to include: the ability to understand reading instructions in digital environments, create or analyze simple to complex graphical displays in user interfaces, use diverse visualization methods, extract knowledge from non-linear, hypertextual navigation, and ascertain the quality and the validity of the information that is being presented.

Increase Data Science and AI Skills

In our data rich world, it is imperative for sales professionals to develop stronger data literacy skills. Data literacy skills include the ability of a sales professional to identify, understand, operate on, and use data effectively. Gartner Group defines data literacy as “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.

Further, data literacy is an underlying component of digital dexterity — an employee’s ability and desire to use existing and emerging technology to drive better business outcomes.” Gartner Group is predicting that by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.

However, traditionally sales professionals possess stronger skills in relationship building, listening and understanding people’s emotional states. A recent survey found that out of over 7M sales professionals on Linkedin, only 0.4% indicated they had studied math. This mirrors my experience as well leading sales teams or building software for sales professionals. Data literacy is a major gap in sales and to bridge this gap, companies will need to invest in training sales professionals in math, statistics and AI general concepts. This also will shift the hiring profile as increasing digital literacy and data skills are imperative to lead in the changing data rich world.

Conclusion

The Sales Leadership Institute and the leadership of Dr. Karen Peesker is an excellent initiative that requires government and industry support, as close to 5% of the North American labour population is comprised of sales professionals. Sales is an important profession focused on selling a company’s products or services, and also one that manages the customer’s relationship from an account management perspective.

Skill development in digital literacy, data literacy, relationship intelligence, and not losing sight of the softer skills (communication, written and oral, and listening) are all critical to advance the sales profession and be prepared to compete in a world that, as Annan shared in her video address, is increasingly technology centric.

SalesChoice, an AI SaaS company focused on Ending Revenue Uncertainty and brining more Humanity to Sales to avoid attention deficit disorder using AI and Cognitive Sciences. A former Accenture, Xerox and Citicorp executive, she bridges governance, strategy and operations in her AI initiatives. She is also a board advisor of the Forbes School of Business and Technology, and the AI Forum. She is passionate about modernizing innovation with disruptive technologies (SaaS/Cloud, Smart Apps, AI, IoT, Robots and Cobots), with 14 books in the market, with The AI Dilemma just released. Follow her on Linked In or on Twitter or her Website. You can also access her at The AI Directory.

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Source: The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

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One-Third of Businesses Plan To Raise Prices In The Coming Quarter

Over a third of all businesses (38%) anticipate raising the price of their goods or services by more than usual in the next three months, a similar result to March 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of Industry Statistics, John Shepherd, said: “Most of these businesses were finding that increases in the cost of products and services (92 per cent) and fuel and energy costs (78 per cent) were leading factors for planned price increases.”

The other side

The survey results also showed nearly half (48 per cent) of all businesses have no plans to increase their prices over the next three months. “Of these businesses, nearly half (46 per cent) said it was to retain customers and 46 per cent said they had fixed-price contracts in place.” Mr Shepherd said.

The results also provided information about planned capital expenditure over the next three months. Almost one in five businesses (18 per cent) have planned capital expenditure in May 2022, consistent with findings in May 2021 (17 per cent). Nearly half (48 per cent) of businesses planning capital expenditure indicated it would be higher than what is usual for this time of year, fewer than a year ago when 59 per cent planned for higher expenditure.

The biggest Influencing factors on whether businesses were planning for capital expenditure were uncertainty about the future state of the economy (25 per cent) and supply chain disruptions (23 per cent).  Current inflation in Australia, as in much of the rest of the world, is the result of a combination of short-term and long-term factors and concerns about demand and supply.

The Reserve Bank of Australia previously raised the official cash rate for the first time in over 11 years from 0.1 per cent, which it had been at since November 2020, during the height of the Covid pandemic. It was raised to 0.35 per cent, which was higher than expected, and the RBA stated that additional increases were on the way.

Furthermore, the Russian war on Ukraine increased commodity prices significantly above pre-COVID levels. They produce more than one-tenth of the world’s oil and wheat.

By: Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

Source: One-third of businesses plan to raise prices in the coming quarter: Survey

Critics by Patricio Ibáñez, Ricardo González Rugamas, Sajal Kohli, and Eric Kuehl 

To understand the process of determining which price increases are fair and which are not, consider an example. A leading apparel retailer recently received price increases from suppliers for many of its primary brands, each citing the inflationary environment as the reason for the increase. The company wasn’t sure how it should respond.

This retailer needs to determine whether suppliers are passing along an increase that’s in line with inflation’s effect on the supplier’s costs. Although it’s not possible to answer this question exactly, the retailer can at least pressure test the increase by determining if it falls within a fair range.

To do this, it began by identifying the main cost inputs that have the highest level of change, especially in an inflationary environment. In this example, these cost inputs were commodities (such as cotton, polyester, spandex), as well as labor and transportation (such as import costs, shipping, and freight).

Second, it estimated the percentage of the total cost these inputs make up. We would expect that fabric makes up about 50 percent of the total cost of a men’s cotton T-shirt. It’s safe to assume that cotton fiber (which has a commodity index, making its cost relatively easy to research) makes up roughly one-third of the fabric’s cost.

Immediate commercial opportunities to mitigate volatility typically include maximizing spend on existing contracts whose prices aren’t indexed for inflation and requesting clawbacks on unindexed contracts that covered periods when commodity prices fell. Digital and analytics solutions can enhance cleansheet analysis to uncover how much purchases should cost for large parts of company spending, which lets managers quantify the extent to which inflationary pressure should affect supplier prices.

To improve future resilience, supplier collaboration can drive joint efficiencies and potentially help the organization look beyond price and at changes to quality or specifications or at finding ways to use less. Finally, companies can consider ramping up collaboration between pricing and procurement teams to weigh inflation’s possible effects on the prices the company charges its own customers.

The defensive, technical levers to respond to inflation include accelerating value engineering and adjusting batch sizes or order frequency. Reducing SKUs or high-cost features and attributes by modifying specifications is a potential medium-term technical lever that can help improve resilience. Depending on the sector, options to address volatility in the short-to-medium term include optimizing supplier footprints for better control over logistics, cost, tariffs, and inventory.

Longer-term volatility challengers could include strategic inventory stockpiling, relying more on vendor-managed inventory, expanding cross-industry collaboration to share commodity exposures, and partnering through the end-to-end supply chain to derisk certain nodes.

To approach suppliers in high-priority categories, a targeted playbook can help strengthen negotiation strategies, with pressure testing via mock negotiation sessions that anticipate potential supplier counterarguments…

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IRS Under Fire After Destroying 30 Million Tax Documents

The Internal Revenue Service, struggling to deal with a massive backlog of paper filings, decided to “destroy an estimated 30 million paper-filed information return documents in March 2021,” the agency’s watchdog reported last week.

The IRS said in a statement Thursday that taxpayers “have not been and will not be subject to penalties resulting from this action.” It said that it processed 3.2 billion information returns in 2020 and that the destroyed documents are not tax returns but documents submitted to the IRS by third-party payors.

It added that 99% of the information returns were already processed and the remaining 1% of those documents “were destroyed due to a software limitation and to make room for new documents relevant to the pending 2021 filing season.”

The agency also said that “this situation reflects the significant issues posed by antiquated IRS technology.” The destruction of documents has sparked a backlash from tax preparers, with some reportedly concerned that the decision could hamper the agency’s ability to verify returns and trigger additional error notices.

“IRS management’s decision to destroy information return documents due to the processing backlog raised numerous questions regarding IRS’ decision making and risk assessment process,” Edward Karl, vice president of taxation at the American Institute of CPAs, said in a statement. “The IRS’ recent statement provided some of the answers, but American taxpayers deserve to know why this decision was made and how it might impact them.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, on Friday called for President Biden to replace IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, describing the document destruction as the latest black eye for the agency.

“The IRS is vital to public confidence in our nation and its Trump-appointed leader has failed,” Pascrell said in a statement. “The manner by which we are learning about the destruction of unprocessed paperwork is just the latest example of the lackadaisical attitude from Mr. Rettig.

This latest revelation adds to the public’s plummeting confidence in our unfair two-tier tax system. That confidence cannot recover if all the American people see at the IRS is incompetence and catastrophe.”

While the report doesn’t specify which information returns the agency chucked, the news has triggered angry responses from tax professionals, particularly after another difficult filing season.

“I was horrified when I read the report describing the destruction of paper-filed information returns,” said Phyllis Jo Kubey, a New York-based enrolled agent and president of the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents.

Missing information returns can cause a “mismatch” at the IRS, delaying refunds because the agency can’t verify details on a taxpayer’s returns, she explained.

While the eventual consequences of the decision are unknown, tax professionals have long complained about the stream of automated IRS notices, with limited options to reach the agency.

“If they’re not putting those into the system, there’s going to be discrepancies, which means potential notices that are sent out,” said Dan Herron, a San Luis Obispo, California-based certified financial planner and CPA with Elemental Wealth Advisors.

Although the IRS halted more than a dozen types of automated notices in February, Herron says the constant correspondence is still creating headaches for taxpayers and advisors.

“There were no negative taxpayer consequences as a result of this action,” the IRS said in a statement on Thursday. “Taxpayers or payers have not been and will not be subject to penalties resulting from this action.”

Brian Streig, a CPA with Calhoun, Thomson and Matza LLP in Austin, Texas, said the news was a “break of our trust,” pointing to the burden on the business community.

“Small businesses stress out every year in January trying to accurately prepare these informational returns and get them filed on time,” he said. “To see the IRS just destroy these is almost like the IRS admitting they don’t really care.”

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Source: IRS Under Fire After Destroying 30 Million Tax Documents

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