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Why You Need to Clean Out Your Computer Regularly

Why You Need to Clean Out Your Computer Regularly

Depending on how you feel about technology, your computer may or may not spark joy, as Marie Kondo would have it. However, it’s important to clean out your computer from time to time. Just as you clean out your closets and do a spring cleaning.

What parts of the computer should be cleaned?

Both the machine itself, and its inner workings and software.

Make a habit of cleaning your computer physically, following these steps. After you’ve turned it off and unplugged it, of course.

Clean out your computer #1: dust it off and wipe it down weekly.

A soft, dry cloth will do the dusting perfectly well. You can also find special cleaning fluid for your monitor at the store.

 

Regular household cleaners might damage your screen, so just use a soft cloth like microfiber to wipe it. If you’ve got smudges you want to remove, dampen your soft cloth with water (preferably distilled or filtered to avoid streaking) to wipe it.

 

Still have smudges? Mix up a 50/50 blend of distilled water and distilled white vinegar and use that to dampen your cloth. Ammonia may potentially harm the screen, so don’t use commercial glass cleaners as they usually contain ammonia.

 

 If you’ve got a laptop that needs some TLC, wet a clean sponge with water and (mild) dish soap and then wring it out. Use that to wipe the front and back of the laptop, not the screen and laptop inside.

Clean out your computer #2: Clean your keyboard

Turn your keyboard over the trash can and pat it on the back (!) to get rid of crumbs, bits of dirt, hair, etc. If you’ve got some dirt that remains, use a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol or one of the solutions above. When you wipe around the keys, you can prevent them from sticking.

 

You can also get a can of compressed air at most office supply stores and blast out the buildup.

 

If all that isn’t enough, the manufacturer may provide instructions on opening it up so you can clean out the inside.

Clean out your computer #3: Blow dust out of vents, fans, etc.

Compressed air yet once again is your friend. Use a screwdriver to open up the exterior of your desktop, following the manufacturer instructions and making sure the vents and fans are clear of buildup.

 

You might or might not be able to perform the same operation on a laptop, so check the instructions.

 

Clean out your computer #4: Check your surge protectors

You know that power surges can damage your devices. Did you know that one power surge is all it takes to wipe out your surge protector? The light may be on, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually protecting your electronics.

 

Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure if your surge protector has worn down, unless you purchased one that comes with warning lights. They’re rated in joules. Which means a 1,000-joule surge protector can weather 1,000 joules worth of surge.  If you get one surge of 1,000 joules, your protection is gone. If you get 10 100-joule surges, same thing.

 

If you’ve experienced a major power surge, you should probably replace the protector. A rule of thumb is to get a new one every two years, but that varies. A good way to keep your surge protectors working longer is to unplug devices when you’re not using them.

Do some preventative maintenance on a regular basis for your software.

 

You’ve probably been told to back up your data, and this is very important. You can set up a weekly routine to ensure that if something happens to your computer – it dies, someone spills coffee on it, someone takes the wrong computer at the security checkpoint, or whatever – you haven’t lost the data.

You can use a physical backup such as an external hard drive or a thumb drive. Or use the cloud, in the form of Google Docs or online document storage.

You should also back up your system, not just the data. This usually means selecting a “restore point” (using system restore in Windows) that the computer can roll back to if disaster happens. It’s best to do this on an external drive, because it does require a lot of free space.

We’ve posted some cybersecurity tips, including making sure you have anti-malware software installed, and that you update it when asked. Worms, phishing, hacking and other dangers to your computer mutate all the time. If you don’t update, you’re not protected against the latest threat.

 

Declutter your software.

 

There are a number of ways you can clean up your software.

When you’re not using programs or files on your computer anymore, delete them. This frees up some memory. It ensures your computer doesn’t drown itself in unnecessary data, which slows down its speed. Removing these programs also removes a potential point of entry for hackers.

Clean out your Windows registry, which contains all the details on everything that’s happened on your computer. Make sure you back it up first, in case you make a mistake and have to reinstall the operating system. This isn’t a guaranteed way to make your computer operate more efficiently, but it often does the trick.

Clean out your cookies! Cookies are little text files that apps and browsers install on your computer to make your web browsing experience faster and easier. However, they compromise your privacy because they can be used as spyware. Too many cookies also slow down your system.

It’s a good idea to periodically clear them out: both the text-based cookies and flash cookies. Each browser has a slightly different way of clearing cookies, so follow the instructions for the one(s) that you use.

Run hard drive maintenance. With Windows-based systems this is usually defragmenting and disk cleanup. Your computer might do this automatically, especially if you bought it recently. But you can also run it yourself.

 

We hope you’ve found these computer cleaning tips helpful, and are well on your way to a sparkling PC both inside and out!

 

If you’d like to schedule a financial planning consultation with us to see if your finances need a little TLC, please email us or give us a call at 619.255.9554.

 

20 Fun, Free Online Activities at Home

20 Fun, Free Online Activities at Home

You’re already washing your hands and staying home. As we deal with the reality of our new normal, here are some resources for staying occupied while staying home. Please let us know if you have any cool resources to add to our list.

 

 

Stay Connected

Coordinate with friends and family members to shares experiences. You can use Netflix Party, a Chrome extension to share a movie experience on Netflix.

Set up virtual happy hours and meals using FaceTime, Zoom, or other virtual conference services.

Cook new foods together from pantry staples with some easy New York Times recipes.

 

Yoga and Exercise

Down Dog app – personalized experience based on your time, level, focus, voice, and music. Free for everyone until May 1, and until July 1 for health care workers, students, and teachers.

Core Power Yoga offers some free classes and a free week trial.

Headspace – Offering resources and guided meditations to decrease stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and stay healthy.

Join Oprah and Deepak in their free 21-day meditation series Finding Hope in Uncertain Times

The Nike Training Club app helps you reach your fitness goals with expertly designed workouts from our world-class Nike Master Trainers.

 

 

Arts and Entertainment

Travel and Leisure magazine put together a list of 12 museums around the world that you can tour virtually.

Stream Broadway shows with a 7-day free trial from Broadway HD

Get your fix of classical music and opera with this list of streaming concerts and broadcasts including the NY Metropolitan Opera and symphonies around the world from ClassicFM.

Travel the world from the comfort of your couch to visit over thousands of museums, zoos and theme parks now offering virtual tours.

 

Kids

Epic! is a digital library for students that now has free membership.

Check out the wonders of our plant with the National Geographic Kids website for videos, experiments, and games.

Students can become film makers using their mobile video and camera. Movie making editor apps like iMovie or Windows Photo App.

 

Sports

Watch classic games with free access to NFL and NBA League Pass websites.

Take a walk down memory lane by watching the top 50 sports movies of all time.

 

Online Learning and Reading

Class Central, an online course aggregator, compiled a list of more than 400 classes in Humanities, Science, Computer Programming and Data Science, Art and Design, and many others.

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

Libby by Overdrive gives you access to your local library or any library you have a library card for. Borrow ebooks and audiobooks instantly on your mobile, tablet or Kindle.

 

 

 

 

We would love to learn more about you.

IRS Tax Deadline Changes

IRS Tax Deadline Changes

Recently announced IRS changes.

 

In response to the pandemic, the IRS moved the federal income tax filing deadline back three months from April 15 to July 15. The July 15 deadline applies to:

  • Filing income tax returns
  • Payment of income taxes due
  • Payment of estimated taxes due for the first quarter of 2020
  • Funding retirement account contributions for 2019
  • Funding Health Savings Account contributions for 2019
  • In addition, this 3-month period will be disregarded for calculating interest, penalties, and additional taxes for failure to file returns or pay taxes.

The new deadline applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, and companies and corporations.

For California residents, the Franchise Tax Board also extended tax deadlines to July 15. You can delay filing and payment of taxes (including second and first quarter estimated payments), LLC taxes and fees, and non-wage withholding payments. California is also waiving interest and penalties for individuals and businesses.

Taxpayers that are entitled to a refund.

You are encouraged to file as soon as possible in order to get your refund more quickly.

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

What is the SECURE Act?

What is the SECURE Act?

SECURE Act Brings Big Changes to Retirement Account Rules  

 

President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act into law on December 20th, 2019. It becomes effective as of January 1, 2020. It brings sweeping changes, including a later starting age for Required Minimum Distributions, more opportunities for contributing to IRAs, and the end of the stretch IRA strategy for inherited IRAs. Below are details on some of the key provisions. 

 

The SECURE Act Allows Longer Tax-Deferred Growth for IRAs

 

RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) to begin at age 72. If you turn age 70 ½ after December 31, 2019, your required distributions from traditional retirement accounts will begin at age 72 instead of age 70 ½.  Unfortunately, if you turned 70 ½ in 2019, you must still take your 2019 RMD no later than April 1, 2020. If you are already taking RMDs because you are over 70 ½, you must continue taking your RMDs. 

 

QCDs (Qualified Charitable Distributions) continue for those over 70 ½  

QCDs are direct transfers from your IRA to a qualified charity so that the distribution is excluded from your income. The QCD rule that you must be 70 ½ will remain unchanged even though the age for starting RMDs will increase to 72. There may be an impact to your QCD if you make deductible contributions to your IRA after age 70 ½. 

Contributions to IRA accounts allowed after age 70 ½Beginning in 2020, if you have earned income, you will now be able to contribute to your traditional IRA without any age limitationsIf you are married, your spouse can also contribute to an IRA even if they do not have any earned income.  

 

The SECURE Act Permits Students to Use 529 Money to Pay Back Loans

 

Expanded use for 529 college savings accounts. The definition of a qualified distribution from a 529 college savings has been expanded to include up to $10,000 to repay qualified student loans and expenses for certain apprenticeship programs. This provision of the SECURE Act is retroactive to distributions made after December 31, 2018. 

New Moms and Dads Get Penalty-Free Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts

 

Penalty-free withdrawals for birth or adoption expenses. Beginning in 2020, parents can withdraw up to $5,000 from a retirement account within one year of the child’s birth or adoption. You will owe taxes on the distribution, but the usual 10% penalty for account owners younger than 59 ½ will be waived.  

 

The SECURE Act Eliminates Stretch IRA for Inherited IRA Accounts

 

Inheritors must take more care with tax planning when taking distributions. There are no changes for anyone who inherited an IRA from the original owner who passed away before January 1, 2020. However, if the original IRA owner passes away after December 31, 2019, most beneficiaries will need to withdraw all assets from the inherited IRA within 10 years following the death of the IRA owner instead of spreading required distributions over their own lifetimes. This provision applies to both traditional and Roth IRA accounts. There are exceptions for spouses, minor children (until they reach the age of majority), disabled individuals, and beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the decedent.

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is just one part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. A Certified Financial PlannerTM can help you navigate the complexities of financial planning. Talk to a Financial Planner>

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Dream. Plan. Do.

Social Security Changes for 2020

Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2020 will be 1.6%, more than a percent lower than this year’s 2.8% adjustment. The adjustment is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2018 through the third quarter of 2019. The increase will become effective in January 2020.

Maximum Taxable Earnings

The SSA also announced that the maximum taxable earnings that are subject to Social Security payroll taxes will increase to $137,700, up from $132,900 in 2019. Employees and employers will each continue to pay 6.2% in payroll taxes on earnings up to the limit, and all wages will be subject to the Medicare payroll tax of 1.45%. Individuals with earned income greater than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) will continue to pay an additional 0.9% in Medicare taxes on all wages.

 

Medicare Premiums

Medicare Part B premiums have not yet been announced, but the latest Medicare Trustee’s report projects an increase of $8.80 from the current $135.50 premium to $144.30 per month. Those with higher incomes will continue to pay a surcharge known as the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) on both Part B and Part D. The announcement of Medicare premiums and the IRMAA income-tier surcharges is expected in late October or early November.

 

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services.

Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and Medicare Open Enrollment!

Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and Medicare Open Enrollment!

It’s that time of year again.

 

Autumn is here with cooler weather, college football, and the excitement of Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period. Beginning October 15, people already enrolled in Medicare can make certain changes to their coverage. Open enrollment runs through December 7, and during this period you can:

  • Switch between Original Medicare (Parts A&B) and Medicare Advantage (Part C).
  • Switch between Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Join a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D), although late penalties may apply if you didn’t enroll when you were first eligible.
  • Switch prescription drug plans or drop coverage completely.

    This is your opportunity to evaluate if your current plan still provides the coverage that you need. Every year, drug plan formulary lists can change, so make sure that your plan covers the drugs that you take regularly. Policies also change annually with new premiums, deductibles, and other costs, so you can check to see if you are getting the best price for your coverage.

     

    Tools for DIY Changes

    The government website www.medicare.gov offers tools to help. Their Plan Finder Tool can help you compare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/?lang=en

    You can also call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE to get information about plans in your area or to enroll in a new plan.

    There is nothing you need to do if you don’t want to make any changes to your coverage.

    If you do make a change, your new coverage will begin on January 1, 2020.

    Medicare

    After reading through the information, you might still have questions. Call us. Or register for our upcoming workshop.

    What options are right for you?

    We’ve heard many of our clients’ concerns about how to make the best choices for Medicare and when to file for Social Security. These decisions can be overwhelming, and government websites do little to help break down the information in a meaningful and easy way. 

    •    Do I need Medicare if I’m still working?
    •    Should I make changes during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period?
    •    Should I delay benefits or file now while Social Security still has money? 
    •    What’s IRMAA and how can I avoid it?
    •    How can I maximize my Social Security benefit

    We are pleased to invite you to an informative and helpful workshop about

    Social Security and Medicare on Oct 22, 2019 from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm. 

     

     

    The Presenters

     

    Tracy Burgett

    platt wealth management

    Tracy is the Director of Financial Planning at Platt Wealth Management, where she creates customized financial plans. She specializes in retirement planning, Social Security and Medicare planning.

     

    Diane Gaswirth

    United health care

    Diane Gaswirth helps consumers simplify Medicare to make the choices best for their healthcare. She is an accomplished leader in health plan selection at UnitedHealthcare.

    Where is the Workshop?

     

    To help make these confusing topics easy to digest, we will host this workshop at Ballast Point Brewing Miramar. For those of you who have never been to Ballast Point, you will enjoy the fun, open atmosphere and delicious award-winning beer. Tracy and Diane will present in a spacious event room that opens up onto an outdoor deck, perfect for our happy hour following the presentation.

    What better place to talk over Medicare and Social Security than over tasty pub

    snacks with informed experts? Get your facts and your fun together.

    If you’d like to extend your afternoon into evening, you can receive a complimentary tour of the Ballast Point brewery.

    • The tour runs about 30 minutes.
    • Experience the 150-barrel brew house, cellar, lab.
    • Finish with a guided tasting. 
    • Leave with financial knowledge and a commemorative beer glass.

    Sign Up Here for Our Medicare and Social Security Workshop for Thursday, Oct. 22 3:30 pm -6:30 pm

     

    Reserve Your Spot

    Join us for a fun afternoon at Ballast Point Brewing Miramar. Get your questions answered while sampling a selection of hors d’ oerves and award-winning beer. Let us know if you would like to bring a friend or family member in the guest box.

    Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter?

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    Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

    Dream. Plan. Do.

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