Andre Sugars’ Parents’ Guide For Telling Their Family’s Financial Story

Andre Sugars’ Parents’ Guide For Telling Their Family’s Financial Story

How we are raised around financial matters can impact us for a lifetime.

When a close friend or family member loses their home, or their job (or both), it can be frightening on several levels. You begin to wonder if the same could happen to you. And, as you're probably aware, this fear of economic uncertainty causes anxiety in many children, too.

While it is impossible to shield kids from all that goes on around them, I happen to believe money worries are one of those things we shouldn't share with kids. There are a number of ways to do that — some very specific, and some more subtle.

I'll begin with this: When it comes to transferring anxiety over money to your children, there is no faster way than to fight over it with your partner. Asking South bay couples not to argue over money at all is a little unrealistic, so when differences arise, at least try to do it in private and out of earshot of your kids.

Spenders and savers are bound to clash, but when they fight in front of kids they give kids something to worry about beyond Mom and Dad fighting. Will we run out of money? Is Dad losing his job? Will we have to move? Will we have money for food?

Even if parents are unsure about the answers themselves, they owe it to their kids to exude confidence when it comes to money. If things really do get bad, emphasize that no matter what, you'll all be together and that home is where you make it — wherever that may be.

You see, as quickly as children seem to "grow up" in this digitally-connected world, they still really are in need of being brought into the wider world with care.

And I have more thoughts…

Andre Sugars' Parents' Guide For Telling Their Family's Financial Story

"A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams." -Gilbert H. Grosvenor

When kids ask to buy things, and money is tight, try to rationalize with them instead of simply saying, "we can't afford it." Tell kids that instead of spending money on toys this week, you need to focus on buying some basic things like food and gasoline for the car. Ask them to come along to the grocery store to help pick out a few favorites. If you simply say you can't afford something, kids will begin to wonder what else you can't afford, and that's a psychological slippery slope for young minds.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say this: Don't allow anyone in your house to use the word "poor" when describing your economic situation — even when times are pretty lean in the household. Families might be broke– but that doesn't mean they're poor! It's more than semantics. The word "poor" seems to connote inferiority, or having some unfortunate circumstance. We don't have to accept that paradigm. Sometimes, families simply spend more money than they earned and have to live on far less to turn things around. They may have been foolish, but they don't have to be poor!

Now, let's shift away from things not to do around kids, and focus on some positive things to teach kids to help them with their own financial futures.

Don't Be Afraid To Teach

When I was growing up, money was taboo. Many South bay parents would no more talk about money with their children than they would their love life. While this is still true to an extent, I think most of us have recognized that kids need to eventually become more aware about the potential financial pitfalls out there than we were in my generation.

Start giving kids an allowance to budget their savings, spending and giving. Help them open a savings account and begin to teach the mechanics of a bank account — completing deposit slips, balancing their accounts and explaining how compound interest works. As kids get older, introduce them to increasingly more complicated topics like investing, borrowing money, insurance, etc. By the time they are teenagers they should have a good grasp on Personal Finance 101 topics to better prepare them for life.

Save More; Spend Less — For Kids

As adults, we know it is prudent to put back a sizable emergency fund of several months (I actually recommend a full year) of basic, household expenses. Because kids are not responsible for everyday expenses, it can be hard to get this message across to them. Instead of focusing on saving money for emergencies, teach kids to save money for opportunities.

Raising Young Entrepreneurs

My parents and grandparents were probably a lot like yours — they worked 40-50 hours a week, punched a clock and recharged over the weekends. After doing this for several decades they were given a cheap retirement gift, maybe a small pension, and a retirement send-off.

Well, times have changed.

The global economy, and the hyper-connected marketplace have underscored the importance of developing an entrepreneurial streak at a young age. Chances are very slim that your child will graduate college, pick one job and stay there for 40 years. More likely, there will be many jobs with many employers, and many periods of being "between jobs" in their lifetime. Wouldn't it be great if they developed a "side hustle" to get them through those periods of unemployment, or to supplement their full-time income all along?

Perhaps you enjoy building things and have turned your one-time hobby into a side hustle building decks and fences on the weekends. Get your kids involved in the process as they grow older, and perhaps you can pass along a valuable trade. Even if they become accountants or fire fighters, having the knowledge and experience of a trade to fall back on could be incredibly valuable to them over a lifetime.

The point is not to stifle your kids' ideas by forcing them into some ideal career path you have selected for them. Allow them to cultivate their own ideas. Over the next few decades, personal branding, and the branding of individual ideas will likely be hotter than any particular industry. Think about it — an iPhone app may be the next lemonade stand.

In a way, social media, and other new media, have greatly expanded the opportunities for kids to create new products, explore new ideas and push new content into the mainstream. There's never been a better time to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and fostering that in your children at an early age is invaluable.

And for all of it, we'll be in your corner, cheering you on.



Andre Sugars

(310) 327-1985

Champion Tax Service


Andre Sugars’ Five Principles For Spending That Actually Produces Satisfaction

Andre Sugars’ Five Principles For Spending That Actually Produces Satisfaction

We're all still basking in the World Champion US Women's Soccer Team over here in the Champion Tax Service offices. Pretty amazing to see so much excellence, and on behalf of our country. Here's to hoping for continued unification within our culture in the aftermath.

There's lots of conversation about different pay scales for the men's and women's national teams, and rather than get into that debate, I thought it might be worthwhile to step back and consider what's underneath all of these salary/payment/money conversations.

Because, as I always like to point out, what lies beneath these conversations is a deeper conversation about what it is we really value.

And THAT conversation is one that I think every family should engage in, as well. Because you can spend your life chasing the brass ring of "better income" … but what if it actually doesn't make you any happier?

Andre Sugars' Five Principles For Spending That Actually Produces Satisfaction

"Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present." – Jim Rohn

Creating a budget really shouldn't be the place where financial decisions begin. Instead, a comprehensive look at what you most care about and how you want to live your life is the best place to start, even before budget categories are determined.

This becomes especially clear when we consider how to raise our children with a proper financial mindset. We want them to learn how to earn, how to save (and invest), and how to spend. Unfortunately, this doesn't spring up for them from the womb!

When speaking with our clients about their financial decisions, these are the sort of conversations that ultimately prove to be the most meaningful — often life-changing.

We get the opportunity to help them discover not only how they want to use their money, but perhaps even more rewardingly — how to align that spending with the things they care most about.

Here's one of the places where we start:

Rich people in South bay don't clutter their lives with liabilities — they make investments.

As a way of contrast, those in the middle class tend to accumulate such items, and are often forced to make payments on them (too-expensive cars, boats, etc.). And, of course, those who are stuck in a cycle of poverty usually see themselves as buying "things".

The problem here isn't that those who are poor, or "middle class" aren't wealthy — it's that they haven't taken the time to figure out a healthy approach to their spending.

There is a book by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton (called The Science of Happier Spending) which chronicles the "research distinguishing spending that satisfies from that which disappoints". The authors give us five principles of the kind of spending that actually produces satisfaction. Here they are…

1. Experiences satisfy more than material things.

2. Too much indulgence wears down. Making it rarer makes it more satisfying.

3. The best investment is usually in your time.

4. Flipping the credit game — "pay now, use later" versus "pay later, use now" — gives a sense of anticipation which is far better than immediate pleasure combined with the later pain of paying for something already consumed.

5. It is happier to spend on others rather than on ourselves.

I'd say that's a great place to start in having these conversations.

For example, recognizing that time is in much more of a limited quantity than money (as the adage says: "We are each only given 24 hours in a day") means that it makes sense to evaluate how you are approaching the "spending" and stewardship of your time — and that it often makes sense to pay money for more of it.

The wealthy see the value of their time, and they regularly invest in it by paying others to free it up. This could range from paying for lawn care and cooking — or even sometimes paying for someone else to drive them to and from work. And this often forces them to think about using their time in the most valuable way possible.

You are the only one who can be a mother or father to your children. You are the only one who can be a spouse to your partner. You are the only one who can do the things that only you can uniquely do.

Bringing your money together with the things you most deeply care about isn't always easy … but it IS worth it.

And this is what my team and I are here for. When you come to us for your planning this year, if you're willing, let's set a time to have a longer conversation about what you would like to do with your life. Because that's really where everything comes together.



Andre Sugars

(310) 327-1985

Champion Tax Service


Three FAFSA Tips to Help South bay Taxpayers Get Their High School Grads Ready for College

Three FAFSA Tips to Help South bay Taxpayers Get Their High School Grads Ready for College

Independence Day is this week. Bombs. Patriotism. Picnics. Barbecue. All those things.

I often write about "financial independence" this time of year (yes, I like the puns) … and when I do, invariably I get contacted by a few clients (or former clients), who communicate that they are pretty dispirited about their personal situation, that anything discussing "financial independence" really seems like a pipe dream — completely unrealistic for them.

Honestly, I LOVE these kinds of emails because firstly, I know that when a few people write about it, there's likely even more that think about it. And secondly, I get the chance to speak a word of encouragement to those that need it.

Maybe that's you?

Don't give up.

With all of the local South bay people and families out there who are going through hard times, it's easy for them to believe that there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel. Especially when social media and the media keep putting the glossy and wealthy in front of our faces, it can be hard to face a different kind of facts on the ground.

But did you know that most self-made billionaires were previously bankrupt at some point in their lives? (Just Google it, you'll see.)

In fact, it's often the "fire" of these times of trouble which serve to clarify things — and get you making smarter financial decisions, perhaps for the first time.

So, if you're feeling the financial heat right now, look out for the blessings in the midst of pain. I know it's hard — but chances are, you're being reminded of what's REALLY important … and often, seeing this again can be a launch pad for living the kind of life that you really want to live.

And we'll be right here in your corner.

Now … on a different note, but a similar theme. Rather than write about financial independence today (I've already given my sermon for the week), I thought I'd offer some pointers about when your children become more independent, i.e. go to college, and how to handle the taxes and financial aid part of it all.

Three FAFSA Tips to Help South bay Taxpayers Get Their High School Grads Ready for College

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." -Benjamin Franklin

Sending your kids off to relative independence in college is one of the scariest, most exciting times for a parent.

You do what you can, as a loving disciplinarian, for roughly 18 years and then after one weekend of stuffing a car full-to-the-brim and unloading it the next day … it's all up to them. It's so bittersweet.

Today, I want to help you (or any friend you know with kids heading off to university), to experience more sweet than bitter this season with a few FAFSA tax tips.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is becoming increasingly in-demand with ever-inflating tuition fees.

Here are three FAFSA tips that might benefit students you know and love.

1. FAFSA Data Retrieval

This first tip is arguably the most important, because it will help long you after you're done reading this article.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will help college parents IMMENSELY when it comes to retrieving FAFSA tax info. The U.S. Department of Education recommends this IRS-backed service to conveniently access items like family earnings online.

You can share this service with anyone using this FAFSA website link which contains the IRS DRT.


2. FAFSA Questions. You Answer.

There are many financial details FAFSA will call for, and I want to make sure you and your college-prep people are prepared.

Here are a few FAFSA non-negotiables:

  • Social Security Number
  • The parents' SSNs (if a dependent student)
  • Driver's license number
  • Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal tax info and returns
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Cash, savings and checking account information

In regard to the information listed above, I'll say this: gathering such info is one thing, but understanding how each piece correlates to FAFSA is another. I would love to help any college-ready family with this process, and it starts with us sitting down to meet. Please give me a call or contact me using the email at the top of our site, so we can get that first meeting on the textbooks ASAP. (See what I did there?)

3. Transcript Access

One of the first items we'll go over is a tax transcript. This document possesses most of the line items necessary to complete the FAFSA. It will also serve as an alternative to your original tax return.

This document will offer adjustments the IRS made AFTER you filed your return, and are therefore updated and accurate. To receive your tax transcript, you can get it online at Get Transcript, or pick up the phone and dial (800) 908-9946 to order one by mail.

Although there are some tedious tasks involved in completing the FAFSA, remember you're taking one more step in chipping away at that unfortunately-high tuition cost ahead of you.

A little work will go a long way when it comes to paying for student education. And if those students don't appreciate all the hard tax work now, one day they (hopefully) will. Please reach out if you have any more questions, and best of luck to all of the college-bound kids you know!



Andre Sugars

(310) 327-1985

Champion Tax Service


Four Ways the IRS Reform Bill Helps South bay Taxpayers Like You (and Me)

Four Ways the IRS Reform Bill Helps South bay Taxpayers Like You (and Me)

Believe it or not, 2019 is almost halfway over (!). We're through the summer solstice, the days get shorter from here on out, and here at Team Champion Tax Service we begin to turn our eyes more directly at 2020.

We're pretty thrilled by the opportunity, because it means we get that much more time to take advantage of all the juicy tax-saving opportunities on behalf of our clients.

But those really are only available to those who communicate and meet with us … so don't let this year pass without doing so: (310) 327-1985 (or shoot me back an email using the email button at the top of our site).

Moving on … there is an IRS reform bill (The TaxPayer First Act) that passed through Congress in the last couple of weeks that marks some encouraging progress towards the ability of the IRS to be more responsive to regular taxpayers (like you and me). There has been a small amount of controversy about it, so I thought I'd pipe in with some thoughts about why this might be a GOOD thing for you and me.

Four Ways the IRS Reform Bill Helps South bay Taxpayers Like You (and Me)

"Sometimes the only answer people are looking for when they ask for help is that they won't have to face the problem alone." -Mark Amend

On June 13th, the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) passed through the Senate. As of this writing, it still awaits the President's signature, but it looks as if it will be signed and confirmed.

If this doesn't seem like much of a big deal, here's a brief but powerful fact:

The TFA is the first significant piece of legislation addressing the workings of the IRS since the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act signed in 1998.

Twenty years later and it's time for a change.

But if you're in the dark as to what changes are heading your way, allow me to provide four ways this bill can help you in the months and years to come.

Customer Service

When thinking about the IRS, the term "customer service" isn't exactly what first comes to mind (at least, not in a good way).

But one goal of the TFA is to tip the customer service scale in a more favorable direction. At the top of that list? The IRS is now required to devise a "customer service strategy" which they can then instill in each employee.

Simply put, more focused training in this area for IRS employees will only benefit South bay taxpayers like you should any interaction arise. This component of the law will be a great way to take an unfortunate stigma and turn it around for taxpayers for years down the line.

Independent Appeals

In the event you have to appeal an IRS decision, the TFA changes will also benefit your case. There is a newly-appointed independent appeals office that would be available, which would allow for greater access for taxpayers to view the case against them.

This adds a new level of transparency and communication to the whole tax dispute resolution process.

Change for the Private Collection Agency (PCA)

In 2017, PCAs were formed to collect unpaid tax bills. Under the TFA, PCAs can no longer specifically target low-income taxpayers who are behind on their tax bills. In other words, PCAs can no longer pressure them into payments they can't afford.

Specifically, PCAs will not be able to collect from any taxpayer with a gross income of 200 percent below the poverty level.

Theft Prevention

The TFA follows suit with a nationwide, technological pursuit of greater identity protection.

Under the new provision, taxpayers who have had their identity stolen can request an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN). The IP PIN is a preventative measure to stop criminals from accessing items like taxpayer Social Security Numbers.

In turn, the IRS will assign a worker to the individuals with IP PINs so that their case can be filed unto completion.

These are just a few improvements that South bay taxpayers like you can expect to see under the TFA.

But if you have any question moving forward, please let me know. I would love to sit down and discuss other ways the TFA might affect your filing. For now, take heart in these promising changes, and know there are people trying to make filing easier for you.

I would love to help do the same.



Andre Sugars

(310) 327-1985

Champion Tax Service


Tax-Smart Ways to Run a Savvy South bay Side Hustle

Tax-Smart Ways to Run a Savvy South bay Side Hustle

I'm so old, I still remember the days when "hashtags" were only about a particular button on your phone.

Yep, the world has shifted massively underfoot. You know it; we all know it.

And one of the developments we've all seen is the proliferation of news feed gurus, ready and willing to help you start your new business — for the low, low price of three payments of $5,997.

What once was a sanctuary of grandkid photos and food pictures, has now become another marketplace for more barkers to shout their wares at you.

But it's all for good reason … because lest I come across as TOO much of a cynic, the proliferation of onramps for (truly) ANYONE to start a business is a net positive for our culture, in my opinion.

There are so many great tax reasons to have a real business, even if it's just a "side hustle" like the kids say.

And today I want to clear some of the fog around this topic, especially for your wallet — and your taxes.

Tax-Smart Ways to Run a Savvy South bay Side Hustle

"The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don't give up." -Robert Tew

Despite having full-time employment, many Americans need some sort of work on the side to supplement month-to-month living expenses. In fact, a recent MarketWatch survey says one-third (!) of Americans depend on a side hustle.

Do you fall into that category? If so, I'm here to help you figure out the (multiple) tax ramifications for self-employment. Whether it's you or someone you know, I love to come alongside any endeavor that helps pay the bills. There's no reason that tax questions should hinder all that hustling.

Here are a few tax tips, whether you're in the middle of a South bay side hustle or thinking about starting one, that will help keep your taxes in order.

Research and Report

There are a few basic differences between W2 and 1099 employees. And if you're doing some freelance work for another South bay business, they're not required by the IRS to send you a 1099 unless they've paid you $600 or more. HOWEVER, even if you earned less than that, with no documentation required, your money is still taxable income.

I can't overstate this enough: if you are earning money on the side, you are still responsible for keeping track of and reporting all earnings.

By Tax Day, you'll need to report all earnings, with or without a 1099, to the IRS.

Many freelancers end up filing Schedule C as sole proprietors. You and I can tackle this document together, but it's imperative your numbers are accurate for filling out each box.

Pay Up

A side hustle is just that: a hustle.

But these gigs aren't as simple as a childhood lemonade stand. That ice-cold cash is (sadly) not all yours. Unfortunately, this is taxable income we're talking about and it's vital to pay those estimated taxes…

…four times a year (April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15). That's right, things like self-employment taxes are required from all the strenuous (but fun!) work you complete throughout the year.

But don't get discouraged! This is another part of the hustle, yet it has to be accurate for continued success. Just one more reason I'm in your corner all year round.

Stay Healthy. Stay Hungry.

The IRS also wants to help the self-employed in regard to health insurance and retirement benefits. Those contributions can be deducted, but are filed on your personal tax return as an adjustment to personal income.

Now, I can help you with any of the aforementioned items. I know the tax side of self-employment can seem like a lot, but there are many benefits of self-employment if you can make it through tasks like filing your taxes.

Please reach out so we can get our first meeting on the books. No one should have to hustle alone, for it can quickly lead to burnout.

You need a team around you, and I'd love to join.



Andre Sugars

(310) 327-1985

Champion Tax Service


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