21 Days of Gratitude

Guest Blogger
Christina Labonte

I heard someone mention recently that it takes 21 days to build a habit. This idea has stuck with me as I’ve been incorporating some healthy activities into my life more consistently over the past few months. Mainly things like meditation and exercise, which I tend to go through off and on phases with. The thought is that if I can do it for 21 days consistently, I’ll turn it into a habit that becomes part of my life.

Psychological studies show that happiness stems not from being the best, most successful, or most attractive, but from gratitude.  I started a gratitude journal a few months ago. In my quiet time each morning, I write down 10 things I am grateful for. Actually 11, because I always write one more that is something I’m specifically grateful for about myself. My goal was to do this for 21 days.

Starting a gratitude journal has a deeper purpose than just reminding yourself all you have to be thankful for in life. It’s about shifting your focus or your energy. It’s retraining your brain to look for the things that are working in your life. All too often we have this tendency or habit of focusing in on the negative, looking at what’s wrong, worrying about the ‘what-ifs’, and stressing about the ‘should-haves’. The gratitude journal is a simple tool to help us create a new habit.

It has shifted my energy. Not just when I’m writing in it, but throughout most of my day as well. It’s a subtle, inner shift. I just feel lighter and calmer and more satisfied inside. I didn’t stop after 21 days. I like focusing my attention on what’s working. It helps me find the opportunities, even in the challenges I may face.

The reality is, there are always going to be challenges we have to face and situations we don’t feel happy about. We are always going to have negative and positive thoughts about things. That’s normal.  We do, however, have a choice about which thoughts we’re going to feed. Are you going to continue feeding the thoughts that bring you down and stress you out? Or, as those thoughts come in, can you just as quickly let them go and feed the thoughts that lift you up, bring you peace, and help you see the opportunities and solutions already present?

This November, I hope you’ll really think about gratitude. Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but how you can experience and express it everyday!

Be Well ~ Christina

(Originally posted on Be Well Therapeutics, November 4, 2013)

Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

If you’re selling your main home this year, we have some helpful tips for you. Even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.

  1. If you sell your home at a gain, you may be able to exclude part or all of the profit from your income. This rule generally applies if you’ve owned and used the property as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.
  2. You normally can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return). This excluded gain is also not subject to the new Net Investment Income Tax, which is effective in 2013.
  3. If you can exclude all of the gain, you probably don’t need to report the sale of your home on your tax return.
  4. If you can’t exclude all of the gain, or you choose not to exclude it, you’ll need to report the sale of your home on your tax return. You’ll also have to report the sale if you received a Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. Please call us if you need assistance with this.
  5. Generally, you can exclude a gain from the sale of only one main home per two-year period.
  6. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live in most of the time.
  7. Special rules may apply when you sell a home for which you received the first-time homebuyer credit. Please call us if you need additional information about this topic.
  8. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
  9. When you sell your home and move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service. File Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.
  10. If you have any questions about the tax implications of selling your home, please give us a call.

IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Relief of Typhoon Victims

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams
taking place in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. On Nov. 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.

Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

  • To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
  • If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.   Additionally, scammers often send e-mail that steers the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.” More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”

First Time Homebuyer Seminar – TONIGHT!

First Time Homebuyer Seminar
HarborOne U, Mansfield MA
Thursday, November 14th, 2013
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Make a well-informed decision when you buy your first home. This seminar provides you the opportunity to get answers to your many questions from the professionals involved in the home buying process. Professionals include Mortgage Originator, Buyers Agent & Realtor, Real Estate Attorney, Insurance Agent, JEFFREY SCHWEITZER, Tax Advisor and Home Inspector. A light dinner will be served.

Register today as seating is limited.