4 Ways To End 2016 On A Financial High Note


In the midst of all the fun that comes at the end of every year, it’s easy to get carried away with spending and throw caution to the wind when it comes to your finances. But doing so can mean starting the New Year on a bad note. Instead, use these tips to maximize your tax contributions, avoid overspending, and achieve your financial goals.

1. Don’t Go Overboard on Holiday Spending

It’s so easy to get carried away with holiday spending, leaving you with a “financial hangover” in January. Another motivator to not get carried away? Keep your spring goals in mind and how a negatively impacted credit score could affect them. For example, if you are planning a major purchase like a house or a new car, your credit score will be under intense scrutiny by creditors and you don’t want excessive holiday spending to affect this. Consider devising a holiday budget – including gifts, travel, decorations, and food – and stick to it. Avoid making large purchases on credit cards unless you can pay off the balance in full. This way, you can start January fresh and focused on your goals, rather than scrambling to pay off credit card debt.

2. Donate to Charity

‘Tis the season of giving, after all. Even if you can’t afford to make a sizeable contribution, a small donation can still make a difference and will leave you with that warm and fuzzy feeling. An added bonus? Charitable donations lower your taxable income, meaning you’ll pay slightly less income tax.

3. Contribute to Your Retirement

With the year almost over, now is the time to maximize your contributions. The more you contribute to your pre-tax retirement plan before the end of the year, the less taxes you’ll pay in April. If you are under the age of 50, the maximum contribution for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and 457 plans in 2016 is $18,000.

However, if you are over 50, you can contribute a maximum of $24,000. The maximum yearly contribution limit for IRAs if you are under the age of 50 is $5,500, and $6,500 if over the age of 50.

4. Put Thought Into Your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

So often, people make their resolutions on a whim and put little thought into how to actually achieve them, leading them to be abandoned before February even hits. Use the approaching new year as an opportunity to reassess your financial goals. What have you achieved this year? Which goals need to be focused on or reevaluated? What new goals can you add? Consider making long- and short-term goals to help you stay motivated throughout the year and remember to make them realistic and measurable.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be sure to end 2016 on a high note and ready to conquer 2017.

6 Min Read

All My Life I've Had To Fight

I live the pain and stress of being black in America every day: I am a black woman, the mother of a black son, sister to black men, and aunt to my black nephews. I remember what it was like as a young girl to be afraid to go to Howard Beach for fear of being chased out. I know what it's like to walk on Liberty Avenue and be called "nigger" and being so young that I didn't understand what the word meant, I had to ask my mother. I know too well that feeling in the pit of your stomach when a police car pulls up behind you and even though you know you haven't done anything wrong you fear that your life may be in danger from what should be a simple encounter. Like all African Americans, I am tired of this burden.

African Americans have a long history of having to fight for our humanity in America. We have had to fight for freedom, we have had to fight for equality, and we have had to fight for our lives. The fight continues to go on. I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight." When I say this to my white counterparts it can sometimes be uncomfortable because it's clear that they just don't get it. They view it as melodramatic. But it's not. It's part of the black experience, and it is the part of the black experience that black people don't want.

I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight."

While I was out yesterday, passing out PPE and talking to people, a woman asked me, "What is it going to take for this to change?" I told her that I think peaceful protesting is a good start. But it's just the start. We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.

This injustice, inequality, and inequity will not spontaneously disappear. It will take bold, outspoken, and fearless leadership to eradicate the systemic racism in our country. We must address the violence at the hands of a police force paid to serve and protect us. We must address the recurring experience of black people being passed over for a promotion and then being asked to train the white person who was hired. We must address the inequities in contract opportunities available to black businesses who are repeatedly deemed to lack the capacity. We must address the disparity in the quality of education provided to black students. We must address the right to a living wage, health care, and sick pay.

While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system. One that works for all of us. I am running to become the mayor of New York City because I can't assume there's another person who has the courage to do the work that needs to be done to create a fair and just city.

We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.

There are some things we may not be able to change in people, but at this moment I think that whether you are black, white, purple, or yellow we all should be looking internally to see what is one thing that you can do to change this dynamic. Here's where we can start:

If we want change, we need a total reform of police departments throughout this country. That is going to require taking a hard look at our requirements to become a police officer, our disciplinary procedures when civilian complaints are filed, and a review of what and how we police. No one deserves to lose their life based upon the accusation of carrying counterfeit cash. We also need to hold police officers accountable for their actions. While it is their duty to protect and serve they should not be above the law. Even at this very moment, police officers are overstepping their boundaries.

If we want change, we have to build a sense of camaraderie between the police and community. A sense of working together and creating positive experiences. We have to be honest about the fact that we haven't allowed that to happen because we have utilized our police department as a revenue-generating entity. We are more concerned with cops writing tickets than protecting and serving. Even during these moments of protest we are witness to the differences made when the police supported the protesters and stood hand in hand with them or took a knee. It resulted in less violence and more peaceful protest. People felt heard; people felt respected; people felt like they mattered.

While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system.

If we want change, we have to be willing to clean house. And that means that some of you are going to have to step up to the plate and take roles of leadership. In my city alone, there are 35 city council seats that are term-limited in 2021. There are some that aren't termed but maybe their term should be up. Step up to the plate and run. If nothing else it will let our elected officials see that they need to stop being comfortable and do more. We don't need you out in the street taking selfies or reporting the problems to us. We need solutions. We need you in a room implementing policies that will ensure that these things don't continue to happen.

If we want change, we need to support grassroots candidates that are not in corporate pockets, who are not taking PAC money, and who really want to make a difference to their community. We need candidates that know first-hand and can relate to the experiences that many of us are going through.

We are at a pivotal moment. It is inspiring to see people from all races and backgrounds in the streets protesting, standing up for justice, and wanting to see change. We must seize this moment, but we must also be mindful that change requires more.

People often ask me why I decided to run for office? I am running for me. I am running for the little girl that was called nigger on Liberty Avenue. For the woman who has been pulled over for no reason. For my nephew who was consistently stopped during the era of stop and frisk. I am running for your son, your brother, and your nephew. I am running so that the next generation will never have to say, "All my life I had to fight." Because although we won't stop until we see justice and changes that address inequality and inequity effectively, this fight is exhausting.