Angelina Jolie – Brad Pitt Divorce Cost

 

As of now, many have heard the news of the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt divorce. Of course this is unfortunate, especially for their children, but there are financial lessons to be learned when couples marry, then, all-too-often, find themselves in a divorce.

Finances are emotional enough, but when we add in the ending of a union, many cannot separate the hurt from what is essentially a business transaction. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have teams of lawyers that will be sure to keep everyone’s best interest in mind.

The ultimate Angelina Jolie – Brad Pitt divorce settlement will be agreed upon by both parties and they will move on. This article will hopefully provide some insight for us “regular” folks facing this situation.

 

Much of the tears can be avoided if an appropriate pre-nuptial agreement is signed, but if not when faced with a potential divorce, I advice the following:

 

Gather all financial documents:

Many couples live separate financial lives, but when you are married each of your assets and debts are aggregated to determine how it is all divided. So, hidden bank accounts and/or hidden credit card debts can really be problems. This is the time you must figure out what you are “worth” as a couple to determine what each of you are responsible and entitled to going forward.

 

Monitor your credit report:

Likely, you have many debts that are joint. Even if the car is “his”, but the debt is joint, it is both of your responsibility to pay on this loan. Many times couples will be ordered to refinance the debt singlely, but that is not always possible. Be sure to pull a credit report immediately (at mycreditreport.com) and continue to monitor it.

 

Open account(s) in your name only:

It is important to gain some independence and to keep track of what this new stage of life will “cost” you. Having a separate account that you pass all your income and bills through will assist you in determining what level of support (or not) you need. You will be devising a new budget and this account will be very helpful in determining that.

 

Hire professional help:

This is obviously when you hire a competent attorney, but often overlooked is a financial advisor as well as a social worker/therapist. Your attorney is essential to navigate you through this difficult and often illogical time, but the other professionals will assist you with your current issues you are facing during your divorce. More importantly, they will assist with having a plan to go forward.

Separately and often most important is how your children’s future is determined. This includes custody as well as how they will be supported financially and emotionally. I leave that issue for another day, but my hope is Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt can have a somewhat amicable and private divorce for the sake of their children.

 

Are You Owed Money? Contact Us To Find Out

With the Wells Fargo bank scandal in the news, many of you may be wondering if your bank is also leveraging unwanted, (and possibly illegal) fees on your hard earned money.

How would you tell if you are owed any funds? We could all use some extra money, and a second pair of eyes is always better than one.

Here at Berkshire Hills Financial, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Tom Sirois can take a good hard look at your expenses to income ratio, and track down any unnecessary or rogue expenses, helping you to tighten up your finances and giving you some extra money during the year.

Wells Fargo may have some people on the fence about trusting your finances with a third party, but Tom Sirois has a proven track record in banking, and financial advising, and can help you save money.

Give us a call today or contact us online!

The Cost of Court

Tom Sirois of Berkshire Hills Financial wants to make sure that you are prepared for any sort of disaster that comes your way.

Today, in the light of all of the political and corporation scandals rocking this election, we are going to discuss the cost of a civil lawsuit to put into perspective the need of the average business owner to set money back in case the need to go to court arises.

Okay, you want to sue someone.

What’s first?

Attorney’s can cost anywhere from $300 an hour, to some of the most experienced charging around $1000 an hour.

Anyone who has ever been to court knows that a hearing could take upwards of 3 hours or more per hearing.

Those court costs add up quick!

Let’s assume that you won’t hire an attorney.

Let’s assume you will act as your own attorney, commonly referred to as “pro se”.

First you have to draft your complaint, and then file it.

Filing fees vary from state to state, and differ from district to superior court. For instance, in California, just filing the complaint will cost you $435, and in North Carolina, filing a civil complaint can cost only $200.

Then there are various other filing fees, including writ of execution, alias/pluries summons, and even a fee to request a court date for your hearing.

It is imperative in today’s business age, that a company set aside a set amount per month for any legal costs that their company may incurr.

An ill prepared company who is sued by a plaintiff could spend upwards of $60,000 – $100,000 dollars before court is over.

Do you have a good strategy to protect your business or personal assets should the need to go to court arise for your business or family?

Contact Tom Sirois of Berkshire Hills Financial today to discuss how we can work out a financial strategy to protect you and your hard-working business today.

How Inflation Destroys Countries

Remember your parents telling you how “back in my day, that used to cost a quarter”, and “You could pay bills making a little over a dollar a day”?

Since the 1950’s, the cost of living has risen exponentially in the United States, and more than 50 million Americans each year go hungry.

Tom Sirois
Courtesy MyBudget360.com

In Venezuela, Hyperinflation is ravaging the country, where people line up outside of nut and fruit stores, hoping for cheap food.

A hamburger in Venezuela, according to a recent Yahoo news article, was found to cost around $170 in U.S. currency, and a hotel stay costing around $7,000, yes thousand, dollars a night.

A strict reform is needed in both America, and countries like Venezuela to battle the cost of living, versus earned income, so that the people may prosper.

7 Investment Mistakes that Celebrities Make

We have all seen it. The rich and famous who boast luxury cars, and lavish homes, then, in what seems like the next day, they are M.C. Hammer broke.

How does one go through so much money, so quickly?

Tom Sirois of Berkshire Hills Financial will analyze their spending habits so you don’t make the same mistakes they did when you live the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

  1. Overestimating the market values of real estate.
    The housing market is often not what it seems, and when the next big artist purchases 3 or more homes, overextending their credit or bank account, the market can fluctuate, further hurting the finances of the owner.
  2. Buying depreciating assets.
    Boats, planes, cars. All of these items decrease in value every year, and even faster with use. You may as well be throwing nominal amounts of money down the toilet.
  3. Blindly investing in new technology.
    Wanting to be the next Chris Sacca, artists and actors alike are guilty of blindly investing in quick-to-fizzle-out technology trends. When is the first or last time that you have used Google Glass?
  4. Taking investment advice from friends.
    It’s kind of like taking dating advice from friends. Don’t do it.
  5. Investing in restaurants.
    According to the National Restaurant Association, it’s one of the most risky investments. The United States sees around 60,000 new restaurants each year, with 50,000 closures. That’s around an 83 percent failure rate if you are keeping up.
  6. Selling stocks too quickly when they drop.
    Just wait it out, markets fluctuate and next year you more often that not would see an exponential increase on your investment.
  7. Overestimating future earnings.
    You have a prime of your life for a reason. Put some money back to rely on it after your fame and fortune fizzles out like a distant supernova.

Keeping Things Simple When Looking at a Stock

I have spoken with countless people (professionals and non-professionals) regarding stock they are invested in. Though many may “sound” intelligent describing the minutia as to why a particular company is a good investment. For long term investing, I think Warren Buffett has a great way to describe what HE looks for.

Here are four items he utilizes BEFORE he invests in a company by buying their stock:

  1.  Any Good Investment Idea Can be Put in One Paragraph: most great companies are simple and easy to understand (think Coke or McDonalds)
  2.  Circle of Competence and NO Called Strikes: know what you are good at, and do not pick a company at a bad price. Make your BEST decision always.
  3. Invest in great businesses that have a terrific person running it: Peter Lynch once said: “buy a business that is so good that any idiot can run it because sooner or later one will”.
  4. These businesses are hard to find, so do not sell them: Buy at the right price, and you will not need to sell these stocks.

A great video that wraps this all up is found here: Warren Buffett on Investment Analysis

Filing Taxes (not March Madness)

Though many of you are filling out your bracket for March Madness, this time of year is a good time to get your financial information in order to complete the filing of your taxes next month. Though you have a couple extra days this year, don’t wait until the last minute.

Over the last several weeks you should have been receiving documents from your employer, banks, stockbrokers and any other agencies that were in your financial life in 2015. By law, these would be sent out by the end of January, so you should have all of these documents at this time.

Something that is relatively new and essential to preparing your taxes is Healthcare statements. You will have an additional form (Form 1095) that discloses that you have health care coverage for you and your family, as well as the amount you paid for it. Having health insurance is now mandatory by our Government (thank you Obamacare), so you MUST provide this information on your forms.

Most common are the income and deduction statements. This includes W-2 provided by your employers showing the amount you were paid AND the amount that was withheld for paying taxes. If you own a home you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest: that would be form 1098. Student loan interest is reported on 1098-E. Many different types of 1099s are provided depending if you earned any interest on your bank accounts, received dividends from investments, sold stocks or bonds, received a refund in taxes, etc.

When this is gathered, sit down and prepare your taxes. YES, you can do it yourself most of the time, but if you do hire someone to prepare your taxes to watch out for these red flags.

Below are two links that assist you in preparing a checklist for all of your documents: