Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 20, 2014

MVNews this week:  Page B:9




Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 20, 2014 


There are two apparently attractive 
options for buyers scoping out 
a deal. One type is the "short 
sale," where sellers have made an 
agreement with

their lender to sell the home for 
less than they still owe on the 

 The second type is the REO 
(bank-owned) home, which has 
fallen back into the hands of the 
lender after the sellers defaulted.

 While these properties may be 
appealingly priced, buyers need 
stomach and smarts to take proper advantage. If you're considering a short sale purchase, focus only 
on those with a price pre-approved by the lender. Otherwise, you may be wasting precious time in 
negotiations that may still ultimately fail.

 Also seek out foreclosures that are protected by the Cash For Keys program, which offers the current 
(or former) owners a cash incentive to prevent them from neglecting the property before vacating 
it. Either way, inspections are crucial, especially if the house has been vacant for some time. Talk to 
your agent about having the utilities temporarily reconnected for the inspection, so you're sure all is 
in working order.

 And finally, don't focus on the asking price alone. Location in a declining neighborhood or extreme 
maintenance and repair issues will eclipse any perceived value in a low price. Great homes are out 
there at bargain prices, but let an agent guide you through potential pitfalls.

Luther Tsinoglou has been a top producing sales agent at Podley Properties Sierra Madre office for years. Luther 
has been licensed and practicing real estate since 1992. He specializes in residential and income property in 
Southern California. Luther can be reached at his direct line (626) 695-8650 or at 



There are so many things to love about this time of year. 
Holiday cheer and generosity of spirit flow freely. But 
if you�re not careful, giving gifts could actually land 
you on the naughty list (at least the naughty list kept by 
the IRS). So here are some guidelines to follow when 
gifting to charity or even your own family members this 

- Charitable Donation Rules

Household items. Unless you are donating an item 
with a value over $500 and have a qualified appraisal, 
household items must be in good condition or better to 
qualify for a deduction. And if the value of your donated 
items exceeds $250, you must have a written receipt 
from the charity that describes the items. If the total of 
your non-cash contributions exceeds $500, remember 
to complete Form 8283 and attach it to your tax return.

Money. You must have a written receipt or bank 
statement for any donation of money to a charity, 
regardless of the amount. You can gift via cash, check, 
credit or debit card. If you donate via credit card in 
December, keep in mind that even if you don�t actually 
pay it off until January, you can still take the deduction 
on your 2014 tax return. Also, if you donate via payroll 
deduction, you�ll need a W-2 wage statement or other 
documentation from your employer that shows the 
total amount donated in 2014. 

Qualified charity status. Only gifts to eligible charities 
qualify for a deduction. You can check the eligibility on 
the IRS website.

- Family Gifting Rules

Annual exclusion. You are allowed to gift up to $14,000 
in cash, property or other assets to any one person 
without having it count toward your lifetime gift tax 
exemption ($5.34 million). If you are married, you can 
donate up to $28,000 as a couple to as many people as 
you want, as long as the total given to each does not 
exceed $28,000. You do not even have to be related to 
the recipient. Plus, limits on gifts to spouses don�t apply. 

Funding for college plans. Contributing to a child or 
grandchild�s college education is a gift that keeps giving 
forever. Contributions to a Section 529 education 
savings plan can be made up to the annual exclusion 
amount of $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples). 
Money in these plans grows tax-free and is allowed to 
be withdrawn tax-free as long as the funds are used for 
educational purposes. 

Other gifts. If you pay someone�s tuition or medical 
expenses (including health insurance premiums) 
directly to the service provider, this will not count 
against your annual exclusion or lifetime gift tax 
exemption. As long as it is paid direct to the provider, 
you won�t have to file a gift tax return.

By all means, be generous this holiday season. There�s 
nothing better� except being generous AND availing 
yourself of the IRS tax advantages for charitable 
contributions and gifting. If you need advice on specific 
gifts or anything else, please give me a call. 

To you family�s health, wealth, and happiness,

A local attorney, father, and CASA volunteer (Court 
Appointed Special Advocate for Children), Marc Garlett 
is on a mission to help parents protect what they love 
most. His office is located at 49 S. Baldwin Ave., Ste. G, 
Sierra Madre, CA 91024. Call 626.355.4000 to schedule 
an appointment to sit down and talk about ensuring a 
legacy of love and financial security for your family or 
visit for more information.

What do you want to create this holiday? Consider 
now. Before it�s too late.

 If you�re like most, you want to create something 
special. Something meaningful. Even magical. 
This kind of experience requires the heart. More 
than �doing,� it requires �being.� Being in peace. 
The more peace, the more memorable the holidays 
become. Mostly because you�re present. You�re 
experiencing the moments with attention. Not 
running lists in your head.

 The right brain is the place of peace. Of 
expansion and love. Away from the pressure of the 
left brain. With its judgments, rules and ridicule. 
The �right� way leads back to the real you. How to 
get there? Slow down. Breathe. Be here right now. 
What do you smell? What do you hear? What do 
you taste? 

 And when you�re with people, really be with 
them. Ask lots of �why?� questions. And listen to 
their answers. It is these conversations that connect 
us. That bring deep meaning. Why not ask a �why 
question� when the family gathers, for each person 
to answer uniquely. Feel what happens. 

 My hunch is you will transform your holidays. 
And beyond. xo

. . . . .

LORI KOOP : Helping women create financial 
independence doing what they love. Schedule a 
complimentary session: 
or call 626-836-1667. I�m here writing every other 
week. (Office: 47 E. Montecito Avenue, Sierra 


The latest on Business News, Trends and Techniques

By La Quetta M. Shamblee, 


It is a well known fact that it is to everyone�s 
advantage to have routine medical check-ups at 
least once a year for basic health, dental and vision. 
Whether it�s the more widely-accepted practices 
of Western Medicine practices that are sanctioned 
by the American Medical Association, or the 
growing sector of holistic and alternative medical 
practices, each discipline has established a set of 
basic screening tools. These annual check-ups are 
considered an important part of preventative care 
as the interim monitoring system to determine if 
key health indicators are within ranges that are 
considered healthy. More importantly, it is the 
most constructive way to identify problems or 
potential problems in their earliest stages. By the 
same token, every business should undergo a basic 
check-up at least once a year.

For a business, the annual check-up may be 
referred to as an organizational assessment and 
is often performed by a professional business 
consultant. A SWOT analysis is a tool commonly 
used as part of this process. The good news is 
that small business owners willing to invest a few 
hours can learn how to use this tool to conduct a 
�quick� analysis to determine the most feasible 
goals to pursue. The SWOT is a strategic planning 
tool designed to guide the timely selection of the 
overall objective for a business. The objective will 
be determined as to its appropriateness AFTER the 
SWOT analysis has been completed. Especially 
since the SWOT will help highlight the extent to 
which internal and external factors are favorable or 
unfavorable for the objective to be accomplished. 
This will allow the business owner to adjust the 
objective appropriately so a solid plan can be 
developed for it to be achieved.

A SWOT analysis can be used to evaluate 
the Strengths, Weaknesses/Limitations, 
Opportunities, and Threats of a business, but it 
can be used for many different situations. Albert 
Humphrey (1926-2005) was an American business 
and management consultant who is credited with 
creating the SWOT technique, which was evolved 
as a standard business tool in the 1960�s and 1970�s 
as it was used in conferences at Stanford University 
to analyze data from Fortune 500 companies. The 
genius of the SWOT Analysis is its simplicity. It 
can be used by owners of Mom and Pop businesses 
to gather basic information, as well as by 
professional consultants trained to conduct more 
indepth analysis of departments, processes and 
other operational components. Each of the letter 
in SWOT is used to prepare a list of responses in 
each quadrant as described below:

Strengths � will include a list a characteristics 
of the business, department or team that will give 
it an advantage over competitors

Weaknesses � will include a list of characteristics 
that have the business, department or team 
positioned at a disadvantage when compared to 
other competitors

Opportunities � will include a list of factors 
in the environment external to the business 
that provide a chance to strengthen or improve 

Threats � will include a list of elements in 
the environment external to the business that 
may likely result in trouble or challenges to the 
progress of the business or project

The tool is designed with four quadrants as 
noted in the example below. It includes a partial 
list of items that might be listed in each quadrant 
of the SWOT analysis for a landscaping business 
operated by a sole proprietor:

Having and knowing how to use the right 
set of business tools often means the difference 
between progress and stagnation, net profits 
or net loss, success or failure. Every business 
should undergo a basic check-up at least once 
a year, and for those with limited resources to 
engage in a comprehensive planning process, the 
SWOT is a great place to start. It is one of the 
most user-friendly business tools that can provide 
information that is relevant and timely for small 
businesses. Reprint MVNews 2010

Email marketing is still important. Some people 
thought it might go away when other social 
media strategies started coming on strong. Email 
is not going anywhere. In fact, more and more 
businesses are finding that email campaigns build 
lasting relationships with customers. 

 The email campaigns that produce the best 
results are simple. Emails with a single clear call 
to action with easy to consume content drive 

 If email marketing seems overwhelming, break 
it down in 12. Look at 2015 and build a simple 
editorial calendar with 12 email campaign ideas 
(one for each month). Think about each month. 
What holidays and events you can leverage? What 
do you need to promote? After you send out your 
first email, you�ll realize the value. When you 
use a tool like Constant Contact, you�ll be able 
to measure your results. You can see who opened 
your emails and what they clicked on. You can 
also schedule your emails in advance.

 Email is not going anywhere. It�s something we 
all use and it�s an important part of cultivating 

About MJ: MJ and her brother David own 
HUTdogs, a creative services business that 
specializes in Internet Marketing strategies and 
Social Media. They offer social media management 
services and help their clients build a strong 
on-line presence. �Like� them on Facebook for 
trending news in social media, internet marketing 
and other helpful tips,


Sign up for their upcoming classes, webinars and 
presentations at:

LIFE LINES by Amanda Rogers

Get this�when we�re 
born we feel content with 
ourselves. We have no 
negative self-talk. In other 
words, we�re not pulled 
from our mother�s womb 
apologetic for having taken 
22 hours to make our way 
down the birth canal. We don�t chastise ourselves 
for dripping placenta on the doctor�s shoes. We 
don�t worry that the crying woman holding us is 
disappointed by the size of our ears.

 Yep, babies enter this world with a clean self-image 
slate. The newborn feels that all is right in his world 
and experiences a sense of warm satisfaction with 
the first infusion of the mother�s milk. It�s not till 
later that we exchange a natural animal sense of our 
basic worth, for a contrived symbolic one. 

 Man has become the only animal in nature that 
vitally depends on a symbolic constitution of his 
worth. And the rest of his life is devoted to the 
protection, maintenance and aggrandizement of the 
symbolic edifice of his self-esteem.

 At first he nourishes it in the appraisal of his 
playmates, later it may depend on good grades, 
a baseball trophy or scoring the lead in the High 
school production of Oklahoma. Finally in our 20�s 
one comes to earn his self-esteem by performing 
in the roles that society provides; doctor, lawyer, 
struggling actor who goes from obscurity to being 
the Verizon guy on TV� Then we get our vital sense 
of who we are by repeating, �I am a good doctor 
because I heal people,� �I am a good lawyer because 
I help people,� �I am a good actor because, heck, I�m 
the Verizon guy!�

 How do we let go of the symbols society gives 
us to evaluate our worth and get back to the basic 
natural worth we were given at birth? How do we 
stop the images and inner monologue and embrace 
our worth on the fact that we just �are.� That simple. 
And we are satisfied. 


I�d like to suggest a few ideas�


1) Meditate yourself back in time and recall what you 
enjoyed doing before you did the things necessary 
for a strong college application.

2) Talk to your parents or an older sibling. Ask them 
to describe what you were like right out of the chute 
� your temperament, interests, and quirks.

3) Start protecting your current accomplishments 
from the evaluation of others. Paint a beautiful 
picture, play a piano sonata, write a poem, run a 10k 
in thirty minutes. Then keep it to yourself. What does 
that feel like? Can you give yourself enough praise 
and validation that you don�t need the approval and 
opinion of others? 

 This is our birthright� to be who we are. To not 
make life decisions based on the level of approval we 
get from others. What kind of life would open up 
for us if we could all maintain that innate sense of 
satisfaction with ourselves? 

 You can contact Amanda at amandarogerscoaching.