• Charlsie Pecoraro

I live in an "unhappy" city according to data!


Recently I read an article on Apple News, The Happiest & Unhappiest Cities in the United States by Samanda Dorenger. Being a Virgo, I am attracted to lists by nature and this one caught my attention. 182 cities were put to the test and graded by the following criteria.

  • emotional and physical well-being, which includes depression and suicide rates, sleep rates, life expectancy, food insecurity and sports participation;

  • income and employment, which includes poverty, unemployment and bankruptcy rates, income growth, job satisfaction, commute time and work hours;

  • community and environment, which includes weather, divorce rate, hate crimes, well-being index, amount of parkland and leisure time.

Each location was rated on the individual criteria with 100 being the top mark. An overall average was assigned based on these three scores. What city was crowned number one? Fremont, California came out on top due to their low divorce and depression rates, community and environment scores and employment.

Imagine my surprise as I worked my way through all of the happy cities finding NONE in the South. Things changed quickly as I began reading the Unhappy list. (This sort of felt like Santa's naughty or nice tally). Detroit, Michigan was deemed the most unhappy place with a high divorce, depression and low employment. Nipping at its heels was good ole' Gulfport, Mississippi as #2. My poor home state falls low on most rankings due to the lack of significant revenue streams. In "her" defense, Mississippi has some of the most beautiful National Forests in the US to explore. I spent many a summer day walking well worn trails among the trees.

The state of Alabama, in fact the whole South, did not fare well in this study. Montgomery(#5), Mobile (#9) and Birmingham (#13) were all at the bottom of the list.


Here are the stats for Mobile:

  • Emotional & physical well-being, rank: 171 out of 182

  • Income & employment: 172 out of 182

  • Community & environment: 124 out of 182

So out of 182 cities, Mobile came in near the bottom in two categories. Thank goodness for the ease of beach access. I imagine that helped the city reach 124th for community and environment.

So what are my thoughts on the area as an outsider? From day one, I noted things that could change that might improve overall satisfaction. If you have never lived anywhere else, especially in a larger metro area, then it is likely that you accept the city's status quo. One easy fix would be if the powers that be would address the horrific and dangerous drivers in the community. Wow, if we installed traffic cameras on the stop lights in this town, the county's revenue would skyrocket. Other areas of contention are shopping, nightlife and business growth. I get the sense that many Mobile residents are bored and head to neighboring states for entertainment.


I want to give a shout out to Brooks Conkle, owner of The Mobile Rundown who makes a valiant effort to inform his followers about everything going on in the area. Visit his website by clicking here and be sure to sign up for his e-blasts! There are things to do in the community and with a bit of creativity, we can catapult this area into a Happy Place to live!

 

The Word on Payment Methods by Richard Lindsey

There are more ways than ever for your company to get paid with each choice having good points and bad for convenience, speed, and security. Let’s look at the options and see if you’re using the best payment methods for you.

Is cash king?

Maybe, maybe not. You get your payment on the spot, there are no sneaky fees (as with many other payment methods), and with diligent recordkeeping, you won’t get into tax trouble. If you sell relatively inexpensive items or services from a brick-and-mortar store, cash might be best.

Yet you might be surprised how many people don’t carry cash anymore, and your customers aren’t likely to make a major purchase with cash. And a lot of cash on your premises, frankly, can make you a target.

Did we mention diligent recordkeeping to avoid tax trouble? We mean really diligent. You have to make a special report to the IRS if any transaction involves more than 10 grand in cash. (Reach out to us with any questions about this.)

Give yourself credit

Credit cards (which consumers seem to prefer more than debit cards) can make a smooth transaction on both sides of the checkout. Taking card payments can expand your pool of customers and, via deposits right to your bank, streamline your revenue without you keeping a lot of cash on hand. They’ve also been shown to increase impulse purchases.

This convenience comes at a price for you in the form of multiple fees (such as per-transaction and monthly) or special equipment such as card readers (which can cost up to a grand or so). Note that fees for debit card transactions are capped but credit card companies set the fees for their cards’ transactions.

And with a cash purchase, the buyer has to show up and plead their case to get their money back. Chargebacks for returns from unhappy credit card customers can ding your account without warning. Some banks also hold merchants responsible for credit card fraud, a potentially expensive liability especially if you can’t process more-secure chip cards.

The quaint paper check is about as far as you can get from microchip technology. Yet some older customers prefer writing checks, and some businesses still take them – all you need is a business bank account and a smart acceptance policy. Best to take only checks from well-known or in-state banks or to use a third party to verify the quality of the check. Electronic processing of checks can come with a service fee.

Customers can stop payment on a check. And of course, checks can bounce. Not only does this sometimes nick you with a fee from your own bank but getting your money can then become an especially long process. And it could go all the way to small claims court or end with you hiring a collection agency.

Other payment methods

Mobile: Probably as many people own smartphones as hold credit cards – maybe more – and payments are usually fast and convenient, but you may have to worry about security, frequent app updates, and compatibility issues, especially if customers don’t have iPhones or Androids.

Electronic payments: Again, it’s fast and easy, especially if you have international customers. These are also pretty much indispensable if you sell online; they’ll calculate the sales tax for you. Fees tend to be higher here than with other methods.

Autopay: Customers often find this the best way to pay for subscription services, and you get your money regularly without having to send more than maybe an annual reminder to re-up. That can also produce problems for you, such as overdraft charges when your customer can’t make the payment and after-the-fact (sometimes angry) cancellations and demands for refunds.

Email invoicing: Good if you provide a service. Your bill goes out fast, which can produce a faster payment. It also makes your bookkeeping and accounting easier because it’s electronic, and you won’t have to track down paperwork. It doesn’t always work as well for retail, though, and there’s always the chance your bill will wind up overlooked in a customer’s spam folder.

Some vendors

Here are a few household names that offer options, just to get you started. (We can recommend others that might be better for you.)

Paypal: Mobile, online and in-person payment. An online transaction fee of about 3.5%, about 2% for in-person payments using a QR code. Various fees for other services such as credit and debit card payments.

Venmo: No set-up fee, a seller transaction fee of about 2%, no monthly fees. “Profile” needed. Other fees for such features as electronic withdrawals.

Quickbooks Payment: No monthly or set-up fees. Rates from 1% for ACH transactions to 2.4% to 3.4%, depending on how the transaction is processed.


Thank you, Richard for such practical advice! If you are looking for a great team of CPA's to work with your business, give Lindsey & Waldo a call at 251-633-4070.

 

Summer Cocktail: Lemon Drop Martini!


If you are out and about in Fairhope, Alabama be sure and stop in Tamara's Downtown during Happy Hour. Bartenders, Billy and Cameron serve up one of the best Lemon Drop Martini's in the area. Their happy hour runs from 3-6PM even on weekends. Want to make one at home? Click here for a recipe!

It is interesting to note that Fairhope and many other cities in Baldwin County are making the most of their community. Many Mobilians head across the bay seeking nightlife, shopping and excellent food.

In fact, I met friends at Gambino's Italian Grill last Wednesday night to listen to the Wise Guys Jazz Band. The music, food and company was stellar. Driving through downtown, Fairhope, at 9:00PM was enlightening. The streets were lined with cars (I am talking hundreds) with patrons visiting local restaurants.


 

The Reading Corner!

As most of you know, I am a reader of books! My taste ranges from mysteries to self development and many genres in between!

I picked up a copy of this little gem by the late Thich Nhat Hanh. Love radiates off the pages of this text and are a reflection of the author.

Here is a sample saying from the book:

Love is a living, breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing.

You can order a copy of How to Love from Amazon or check out your local library. This one is guaranteed to make you feel good! Enjoy it and other books by Thich Nhat Hanh!


 

Happy 4th of July!

I want to wish everyone a very Happy 4th of July! Spend time with family and friends celebrating our freedom in the United States. I realize that things look pretty bleak right now however, know that these times will not last forever. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to make a quick list of things you are thankful for.


Here's mine for today!

  • I am grateful to be married to my soulmate.

  • I am grateful for an air conditioning unit that is keeping up with our record heat wave!

  • I am grateful for a thriving business that truly helps others!

  • I am grateful to live in a subdivision that is truly a happy place to be! Neighbors know one another and are kind and helpful.

  • I am grateful for the lifelong friends I have made in Mobile and surrounding areas.

The list could go on and on...Charlsie