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5 Smart Spending Tips for Tax Refunds

Lynnette Khalfani Cox

Lynnette Khalfani Cox

By Cricket Wireless and Lynnette Khalfani Cox

Get the most value from your money this tax season

For savings-savvy consumers, tax season means getting creative with how to use your federal tax refund check.

The IRS says the average tax refund issued so far in 2015 tops $3,500. While it can be tempting to hit up the mall and blow through your money the second that big check arrives, smart spenders find ways to turn a refund into a “MeFund” through thrifty money-management decisions that keep cash in their pocket.

To help you become a better saver and a more prudent spender, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach® suggests five smart ways to stretch your refund check, making your money go further and enhancing your quality of life:

1) Invest in yourself

In today’s economy, it’s wise to invest in your education, your career and your health. Each will benefit you personally and professionally. Consider using some of your tax refund check to take a continuing education class or attend a business networking event. Similarly, invest in your health by signing up for a gym, taking yoga classes, or getting the aid of a personal trainer. A healthy body can boost creativity and productivity – and hopefully lower your long-term healthcare costs too.

2) Pay off debt

A recent study from the American Psychological Association showed money is a top cause of stress for Americans. To help rid yourself of money worries, reduce debt with your tax refund. Pay off a credit card bill, wipe out a lump sum on loans, or make an extra mortgage payment to help toward becoming debt free.

3) Spend wisely by taking advantage of seasonal promotions

If you are going to spend on something you want, do it the smart way. Take advantage of seasonal promotions in order to keep much of your refund in your pocket. For instance, if you’re in the market for a new phone, go to Cricket Wireless to receive free or discounted phones, all after mail-in rebate, such as the Nokia Lumia 635.  And, if you port your number to Cricket, you may also get a free month of service after completing two months on one of the provider’s Smart, Pro or Advanced plans. Check out more details atwww.cricketwireless.com.

4) Budget for larger purchases

If you’re thinking about spending your tax refund on a vacation or must-have electronics, be sure to first budget realistically. Remember, a vacation won’t just involve travel expenses and hotel accommodations. Be sure to factor in food, entertainment and miscellaneous costs such as tips, souvenirs and parking. Before using your refund on a big-ticket purchase, you should also use helpful budgeting tools to monitor your monthly spending. Mint.com is a good online and mobile budgeting software tool that can help you track your spending.

5) Create a “MeFund”

A final way to put your money to good use is to boost your savings. Create a “MeFund” as a way to save more every month – whether from a tax refund check, through smart budgeting or value found by switching to a no-contract wireless carrier like Cricket on a nationwide 4G LTE network – so you can spend more on the things that matter to you in the future. Whatever your goal, you’ll reach it a lot sooner if you save exclusively for it.

From investing in yourself to paying down debt and being a smarter spender and saver, let tax refund season be your time to get ahead. After all, by using that tax refund check wisely, you’ll set yourself up for financial prosperity in 2015 and beyond.


Mitla Restaurant Brings Classic Live Music Back to Route 66

Mitla Restaurant

By Anthony Garcia

Live music on Route 66 at The Mitla, one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in the Inland Empire going back to the “hey days” of Route 66, one of my favorite restaurant’s. Great food, great service, family oriented restaurants also something new is a great Sunday Brunch. Tom Penn, a local promoter has been promoting at the Mitla since 2007 along with co-owners of the restaurant Steve Oquindo and Michael Montano.

On Valentine’s Day, the feature artist was Dave Garfield, world class musician, keyboardist, music director for George Benson, Smokey Robinson, and Natalie Cole. Dave and I played in a group together called Caldera many years ago, which included local legend saxophone, Steve Tavaglione and Brazilian trombonist, Raul De Souza. I caught there second show, I had an early gig that night. To be quite honest they caught me off guard. Dave Garfield is one of the most creative musicians I’ve ever met or heard. I was expecting to hear a creative jazz performance, yet I was in no way disappointed. Dave Garfield and the Katz are one of the best dance bands I’ve heard in a very long time. Excellent repertoire, great band, high energy dance music, with a little help from some of the members of the Earth, Wind & Fire. Band Drummer John Perris, Horn Player, Gary Baez and vocalist Lamont Dozier whose father just got inducted to the Hollywood walk of fame.

Dave had great control of his band, great conducting by the master keyboardist. In the past they have promoted the e Banda Bros from the Poncho Sanchez Band bassist and drummer Ramon Banda and Tony Banda has their own Latin jazz band. Also on the show was the Delgado Bros Blues Band.

I’m impressed and proud of these three young business men and what they are planning for the future of live entertainment on Route 66. Speaking with Steve Oquindo and Michael Montano, I asked them how it felt to be co-owners of one the most popular successful authentic Mexican restaurants in the Inland Empire they both laughed and said that 50% of the time it’s cool. So if they both have 50% then it must be 100% cool. The two young men are cousins and are glad to keep the business in the family.

“Music is the Silence between notes, between rhythm and between the silences you’ll find music that tells a story, a musical story that never lies!!!! This is music that touches your heart!”

Whatever Happened to an Old-Fashioned Handshake?

Dr. James L. Snyder

Dr. James L. Snyder

By Dr. James L. Snyder

I must confess I do have some old-fashioned biases. I would be the first to admit I’m not up to date on the latest fad or trend.

I come from that era that believed the well-dressed man is one that doesn’t stand out from everybody else. I’ve tried to keep to that all these years. I certainly don’t want to stand out and have people recognize me or point their finger at me and whispered to each other.

For years, I’ve been very careful about that. Now, it seems that because I try to dress like a well-dressed man and not stand out I am in fact standing out. Nobody, except me and two other people, really care about being well-dressed.

This has never been an issue with me and it even now is not an issue. But reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year before me, I have to take some calculations. According to my calculation, I no longer fit into that “well-dressed man” category, because the term “well-dressed man” does not mean what it used to mean.

I hate it when something outlasts its definition.

To be a well-dressed man today, according to the latest fads and trends I have noticed, I need to throw away my belt and let my trousers drop all the way down to my knees.

Let me go on record as saying, never in a million years will that happen.

Then there is the issue about a necktie. Am I the last person on planet earth wearing a necktie?

Very few people today know how to tie a necktie. Well, I do and I will until they put me in a casket and then I hope I’m still wearing a tie. So if you come to my funeral and look at me in the casket and I’m not wearing a tie, complain to someone for me.

The latest trends and fads have no interest to me whatsoever.

This came to my attention recently when I had to sign some legal papers for something to do with the church. I had to sign here, initial there, sign the next page, initial three pages and it went on and on until I ran out of ink.

I’m one of those old-fashioned guys that use a fountain pen and all that signing and initialing drained all of the ink out of my fountain pen. Before I finished, I was on the verge of carpal tunnel.

I sighed rather deeply, looked at the gentleman (I think he was a gentleman because he was dressed like a gentleman), and said kind of sarcastically, “Do you remember the old-fashioned handshake?”

He looked at me without smiling and then said, “Here are some more papers for you to sign.”

I thought I was signing my life away, but in reality, I was just signing my ink away.

I do remember when a handshake really meant something. Just about everything was sealed with a handshake and both parties were as good as their word. It would take a lot of undoing to undo that handshake. Now, you’re only as good as the word on a piece of paper over your signature. Then, some lawyer can finagle it around to mean something other than what you really meant it in the first place. So what’s the purpose of all this?

I know you’re not supposed to say this, but I will, I sure long for the good old days when a handshake was all you needed. I get tired of the rigmarole passing as business these days. I get tired of paperwork that’s piled higher than the tallest tree in the forest.

Of course, if we go back to that handshake scenario, it will put many lawyers out of business. What would these people do for a living? I have some ideas, but I’m going to keep that to myself.

Trust has gone out of our culture today because everybody is only after what they can get for themselves and they don’t care how they get it.

A handshake met something in “the day.” In fact, I believe it was more binding than all of the paperwork and signed documents and legalese we have today. It’s hard to sue a handshake!

What I want to know is simply this. When we replaced the good old-fashioned handshake with all of this legalese stuff, are we better off? Have we simplified everything and covered all of the bases?

The answer is a loud no.

A man’s word used to be his bond and something he would never go back on.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have lived on that marital philosophy all of our married life. I know in the marriage ceremony there is no “handshake.” But the philosophy of that handshake is right there. When I said “I do,” and she responded by another “I do,” we were shaking hands and saying to everybody around us but particularly to one another, “We do.”

I think James shook the right hand when he wrote, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12).

I’m all for getting back to the good old days when a handshake was all you needed.

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net or website www.jamessnyderministries.com.