Knowledge is Power – The Future is Now

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The Dragon’s Philosophy – Trust the Process

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(Money on my Mind) McDonald’s will close 700 stores this year – What do you think their mistakes were? Will they survive?

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McDonald’s closed 350 stores in the first three months of 2015 and is planning to close an additional 350 by the end of the year.

The struggling fast food giant recently announced it was closing 350 poorly performing stores this year, but on Wednesday McDonald’s admitted it had closed a previously unannounced 350 stores in the U.S., Japan and China.

“Earlier on Wednesday, McDonald’s reported an 11% decrease in revenue and a 30% drop in profit for the first three months of year, a continuation of its troubles in the last two years as it has struggled to compete with new U.S. competitors, a tough economy in Europe and a food safety scare in Asia,” Fortune reported.

McDonald’s started falling into a steep decline after customers began seeking healthier alternatives, a decline which may prove terminal for the world’s largest fast food chain.

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It was definitely a sign of the times when Hillary Clinton stopped to eat at Chipotle while campaigning in Iowa earlier this month, two decades after her husband famously stopped at a McDonald’s while jogging.

“The world is starting to ask what they’re truly eating in their food — and the new conglomerate of natural grocers and restaurants are trailblazing the way into an entirely new economic environment,” Anthony Gucciardi wrote. “In other words: people are simply tired of shoveling garbage into their bodies, and they’re not going to put up with it anymore.”

And price conscious consumers aren’t just limited to McDonald’s nowadays: natural food outlets such as Whole Foods are offering organic foods at the same price as a Big Mac with fries.

The Truth Hurts – Give them a Reason to Hate

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Money on my Mind – Stay Ready to Get Ready

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MONEY ON MY MIND – WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

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1. Shave some extra cents off your gas costs by checking out GasPriceWatch.com to find the cheapest offerings in your area. For example, you’ll find that the Chevron on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles is selling gas for 22 cents less than a Mobil station a few blocks down the road. 

2. Nix name brands and start buying generic toiletries and cleaning products in bulk. Better yet, take shopping trips with friends to Costco so you can all split that bulk pack of toilet paper.

3. Join your local library. You might be shocked to find that its DVD collection is stocked and up-to-date (not to mention totally free). If you normally rent one movie per week from the video store or Netflix, you can save over $200 in a year!

4. Unplug your appliances like coffee pots, toasters, hair dryers, and computer cords when you leave the house. According to Energystar.gov, it costs you $100 per year to power appliances in standby mode (especially ones with features like clock displays). When you go on vacation, it’s a good idea (both for your wallet and the environment) to unplug large energy consumers like entertainment centers. 

5. Cliché as it may sound, skip your morning Starbucks latte. You’ll save about 190 calories and $3 per day. You can still make your homemade coffee feel special by adding a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.

6. Get cash back on your clothing purchases. It sucks when you buy a piece of clothing full-price, then see it on sale a week later. Hang on to your receipts, because larger chains like the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy will refund you the difference on items that go on sale as long as you present a receipt within 14 days of the original purchase.

7. Need new furniture? Before heading off to Ikea, check out Freecycle.orga site where users list things they don’t want anymore. Or, try your local Craigslist.com listings for moving sales (oftentimes people are in a pinch and will sell items for “best offer” just to get rid of them).

8. Work out for free. Look up donation-based yoga studios in your area so you can pay what you can (instead of a normal $12-$20 per class). Similarly, many yoga, dance, and Pilates studios offer new student incentives such as two weeks of classes for only $20. Can’t afford a personal trainer? Check out iTrain.com,where you can download personalized workouts for your iPod for as little as $7.99 a session. Other cheap options: Go for a hike in the fall foliage, jog outdoors, or organize a game of touch football with friends (a great excuse to get them to invite single guys!). 

9. Think about your cash. Always know exactly how much money you have on you. It will prevent mindless spending (and the shock when you realize you’re out). Also, plan out your day so you withdraw the money you need from your home bank, avoiding ATM fees.

10. Do your holiday shopping on the cheap by hunting down cool stuff at thrift and vintage shops where you can find heartwarming items for less than 20 bucks. Think music boxes, quirky costume jewelry, vintage postcards to frame, or collectors’ plates. 

11. Bring the party home. Ask friends to come over with a bottle of wine for a game night on Saturday. Offering a simple, homemade dessert like cookies or a pie won’t cost more than a few bucks if you already have the basic ingredients on hand. If you absolutely have to get out, then organize a get-together at a bar with a happy hours special. Make the occasion more festive by creating a Facebook invite with a quirky theme like “International Talk Like a Pirate Day!” One more tip: check out Myopenbar.coma site that lists events at bars with free booze in several cities including New York, Miami, and Chicago.

12. Do more research. It might be painful to actually look at the breakdown of your expenses, but it’s the best way to cut down on costs.  (Hint: you can probably get both used or at your local library instead of paying full price).

Credit: Cosmopolitan

Be Like Bacon (Francis Bacon) Knowledge is Power

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The Truth Hurts – Come as you are

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TAX DAY IS HERE…D’OH!!! -10 CELEBRITIES CONVICTED OF TAX EVASION

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WRITTEN BY: RYAN FU @FU_BEATZ

April 15th is Tax Day which means you’re either relaxing or stressing out about your finances. Please take tare of your taxes and finances because the U.S. Government is nothing to fuck with, trust me I used to work for the government. They’re like Shylocks when is comes to retriving and getting what is owed to them. Learn a lesson or two from this article which is to be like Ned Flanders and pay your taxes on time. Don’t be like Homer Simpson and the rest of these famous people on this list, who decided they were more important than the government. Stop stressing out and pay your taxes on time to get your refund back early so you buy that indoor jacuzzi that your significant other desperately does not want.

Think tax evasion is a poor’s man’s game? Think again. Convictions range from middle class Joes all the way up to top celebrities like Nicolas Cage, Annie Leibovitz and Marc Anthony. Here’s a look at 10 high-profile celebrity tax evasion cases and the lessons they offer.

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1. Martha Stewart: She may be a home and garden guru, but she’s also a convicted tax evader. Before doing jail time for insider trading, Stewart was forced to pay $220,000 in back taxes and penalties to the State of New York, learning the hard way that East Hampton mansions also generate taxes. Her claim that she hardly spent time there didn’t reduce her burden, or appease the state of New York.

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2. Wesley Snipes: You know him as Blade, but the IRS knows him as a tax evader that used various means to hide a lofty income. Snipes was found guilty on three counts of failing to file a federal income tax return, owing the government $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest. His attempt to pay off a portion of what he owed during his trial to avoid the slammer, failed and in 2008, Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison. He began serving his sentence in December 2010.

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3. Willie Nelson: After seizing most of his assets in 1990, the federal government forced Willie to pay over $16 million in back taxes and fines for his involvement with a bogus tax shelter, offering new meaning to the singer’s top-ten hit from 1975, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Offering a note of redemption for the famous crooner, it was later discovered that Price Waterhouse had not paid Nelson’s taxes for years and invested the funds instead.

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4. Nicolas Cage: Cage inspired humor in “Raising Arizona” and sobriety in “Leaving Las Vegas,” but only irony when the star of “National Treasure” contributed to the national debt to the tune of approximately $6 million, according to the IRS’ 2009 charge. Accusing his ex-manager and accountant of making poor investment choices in risky real estate and failing to pay his taxes, Cage set out to make good with the IRS, but still paid considerable fines on the taxes. Be careful whom you trust with tax advice.

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5. Marc Anthony: He may be the husband of superstar Jennifer Lopez, but fame didn’t remove his obligation to pay taxes. In 2007, the IRS served Anthony with $2.5 million in back tax bills. Then in 2010, he received two additional bills totaling over $3 million for unpaid taxes on real estate. Marc Anthony blames management, but few empathize after the IRS claimed numerous years of zero tax payments.

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6. Annie Leibovitz: It was December 8, 1980 when celeb portrait photographer Leibovitz captured John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the cover of Rolling Stone. Since then, her notoriety rocketed almost as fast as her spending. After years of extravagance and poor financial management, it seems paying taxes was just one expense she couldn’t afford. Picture this: in 2009 Leibovitz owed $2.1 million in unpaid taxes for 2004-2007 and was forced to pledge the copyright to every photograph she has ever taken, or ever will, to get the loan she needed to pay her debts.

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7. Darryl Strawberry: Mets or Yankees? Strawberry led them both to World Series titles, but like Pete Rose, he stumbled when it came to claiming taxable income. Both can likely recite their stats for every season played, but neither was very good at recalling income from autograph and memorabilia shows. After years of signing away without paying taxes, both received tax evasion convictions. The lesson? If you earn money from it, so should Uncle Sam.

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8. Boris Becker: Christened “Boom-Boom” thanks to an impressive serve, the 90s tennis star impressed men and women alike with his talent, but the German tax authority? Not so much. Claiming to be living in the tax haven of Monaco from 1991 to1993, Becker was actually at home in Munich with his wife and kids. When the final ball dropped, Becker paid approximately $3 million in back taxes and interest on earnings from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees.

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9. “Survivor” Richard Hatch: He survived the first season of Survivor, winning $1 million. But when it came time to paying his taxes, he stayed on the island and voted CBS off, claiming the network agreed to pay his taxes. In 2006, Hatch was found guilty of tax evasion and served part of a six-year prison sentence as a result. Then in March 2011, he returned for his third prison term for failing to file amended returns. Celebrity tax lesson: Don’t “forget” to pay taxes on your income…especially before 51 million television viewers.

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10. Heidi Fleiss: Known as the “Hollywood madam,” Heidi Fleiss was sentenced in 1997 on tax evasion charges in connection with her high-profile prostitution ring. She served part of her seven-year sentence in prison and a halfway house. Her excuse? Apparently it’s a bit challenging to pay legal taxes on illegal earnings.

While some celebrities engage in various attempts to avoid paying taxes, from filing false returns to hiding money overseas, regardless of the method or fame of the individual, the government can force those guilty of tax fraud to pay back taxes and penalties, and serve time in confinement—a costly lesson for an avoidable mistake.

Credit: Legal Zoom www.legalzoom.com

Money on my Mind (Business Philosophy) – Is It Your Fault You’re Poor? By Russell Brand

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