Five Ways to Manage Back-to-School Stress

Five Ways to Manage Back-to-School Stress

If you are anxious about sending your children back to school, you are not alone. A recent poll from ABC News/Ipsos showed that 45 percent of parents do not want their kids in the classroom at all. But whether your kids are in school or learning at home, there is still plenty of worry to go around. How do you cope? Read on for a variety of suggestions from counselors and mental health professionals. 

Express Your Feelings

Noticing the anxiety that is going on inside is half the battle — the other half is to let it out. “I would encourage parents to share this feeling with their partners or other family and friends,” says Michael Consuelos, MD, a senior medical advisor with the mental health management platform NeuroFlow in Philadelphia. Simply releasing what you are feeling can often take the power of it. 

Teach Your Kids How to Navigate

This starts with talking to your kids about what social distancing is, what it looks like, and how to wash their hands thoroughly. Fran Walfish, PsyD, MFT, a family and relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, Calif., suggests making up real-life situations and asking kids to “think in advance about what they would say or do to protect themselves while preserving a friendship.” For instance, a friend of your son stands too close to him and asks to borrow a ruler. How should he react? Or your daughter is eating lunch and a friend reaches in and takes a few chips from her Doritos bag. What should she do? You can probably come up with many other scenarios that help your kids figure out the best options for keeping safe.¬†

Have Honest Conversations

Kathleen Rivera, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents at Nuvance Healthin Danbury, Conn., strongly suggests talking with your kids about the situation, no matter how young they are, and asking them how they are feeling about the changes in their school environment. What things about school do you miss the most? How is this new learning set-up working for you? What are things you don’t miss about school? Claudia Kohner, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and creator of IntroDUCKtion to Very, Very Big Feelings app, says that if you have very young children, give them some colored pencils and a coloring book. Sit down with them and help them create a homemade book that describes the changes in their school setting and reflects their feelings that go along with it. Encouraging imaginative play with dolls and stuffed animals is also a great way to help your kids express what they are going through. 

Practice Self-Care

In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to be kind to yourself — and not judge yourself for failing to cross everything off your to-do list. “You don’t have to do it all,” says Elizabeth Derickson, MSW, LCSW, RPT, a therapist with online therapy provider Talkspace. This is her number 1 piece of advice for parents who are dealing with back-to-school anxiety. She suggests setting up realistic expectations and acknowledging that there will be both good days and bad days, and allowing yourself “to learn from the bad days, move on and rock those good days.” 

Embrace Change

In a few months, the landscape of your life might look radically different than it does today. That is why being able to adapt to whatever new circumstance presents itself is key. According to Dr. Rivera, “Flexibility is the most important thing in this whole process.” Knowing you have every right to reverse your decisions is OK — and empowering. 

Despite the seemingly never-ending stream of worries that inevitably crop up in our new abnormal, remember: the most constant thing in life is change. Things will get better. 


Borrowing From Your Retirement Plan: New CARES Act Rules

Borrowing From Your Retirement Plan: New CARES Act Rules

It’s been nearly half a year since Americans first became widely aware of the coronavirus contagion within the United States. While for a brief month it looked as if we had the virus in hand, since then it has spread wildly out of control in many areas. 

People who did not suffer dramatic financial consequences in the early stages of the pandemic could see some hard days ahead. For this reason, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the new relaxed rules associated with withdrawals from tax-advantaged retirement plans. 

In late March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This bill offered provisions related to distributions from retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k). One of the key goals was to enable workers to make penalty-free withdrawals from a retirement plan to help sustain them while out of work due to the coronavirus. 

To be eligible to make penalty-free withdrawals, plan participants must meet one of the following criteria: 

  • The account owner, spouse or a dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19
  • The account owner experiences one of the following financial consequences due to the virus:
    • Furloughed
    • Laid-off
    • Work hours reduced or place of business closed (including for self-employed)
    • No access to childcare
    • Quarantined¬†

The Act stipulates that workers can self-certify that they meet at least one of the criteria. Be aware, however, that if it is later discovered that the account owner did not meet the criteria for a coronavirus-related distribution, he might be required to pay the early withdrawal penalty. 

Also note that while this penalty is waived for qualified workers, they must still pay income taxes on the amount withdrawn. However, there are a few ways to mitigate the income tax burden on those withdrawals. The first is through regular distribution. These are the parameters: 

  • You have up until Dec. 30, 2020, to make a distribution
  • The total aggregate limit is $100,000 from all plans and IRAs
  • The distribution waives the 20 percent income tax withholding requirement
  • Income taxes will be due when filing a 2020 tax return
  • Retirement account owners who no longer work for an employer are free to take a distribution
  • Current employees may take a distribution only if the employer plan allows for a hardship or in-service distribution (note that the CARES Act permits employers to amend plan documents to allow coronavirus-related distributions)¬†

While a retirement plan distribution does trigger income taxes for the tax year withdrawn, you can spread the tax burden out over three years. For example, let’s say you withdraw $18,000 this year. You may report the full amount as income on your 2020 tax return; or you can claim $6,000 a year on your 2020, 2021, and 2022 returns. This strategy reduces the chances of bumping your income into a higher tax bracket.

The second way is to pay the distributed amount back into your retirement plan. Initially, you will have to pay income taxes on the amount withdrawn. However, if you pay it back within three years, you can file to get the taxes you paid refunded. One caveat with this plan is that eligible retirement plans will treat repayment of this type of distribution as a rollover event for tax purposes. Be aware that if the retirement plan does not accept rollover contributions, it is not required to change its terms for this purpose. 

Your third option is to withdraw money as a loan if your employer permits loans from the retirement plan. This is another scenario in which you must repay that money within a specified time period. You do not have to pay income taxes on the loan, but you do have to pay interest on the amount borrowed. The good news is that the interest you pay also goes into your account. 

Under normal circumstances, retirement account loans are limited to $50,000 or 50 percent of the account balance, whichever is less. But for a coronavirus loan, you may borrow up to 100 percent of your vested balance or $100,000, whichever is less. You will need to repay that loan within the plan’s stated repayment period, although the CARES Act gives 2020 borrowers an additional year to repay this type of loan from an eligible retirement plan. Be aware though that you’ll owe both income taxes on the outstanding balance and the penalty for withdrawals made before age 59½ if you do not repay that loan in time. 

Note that these CARES Act provisions are available only for the first 180 days after the Act was passed, which was on March 27, 2020. As Congress debates new legislation to aid struggling Americans suffering from the pandemic, this provision could be extended.

3 State Level Tax Hikes That Might Be Coming Due to COVID-19

3 State Level Tax Hikes That Might Be Coming Due to COVID-19

No surprise, but Americans are consuming and spending less since the coronavirus kicked in.  Retail sales dropped to 8.7 percent in March, the largest month-over-month decline since the Census Bureau started tracking this data. Previously, the sharpest decline was less than half this — at 3.9 percent from October 2008 to November 2008, during the previous economic crisis. The reduction in consumer spending is due in part to lockdowns, people spending more time at home for fear of the virus, and the economic impact — whether it’s losing a job, experiencing reduced hours, or in anticipation of tougher times ahead.

While consumer spending is down at a net level, there appear to be some winners and some losers in the post-COVID world of staying in and working from home. Restaurants and apparel are the hardest hit, whereas online retailers, home, garden, grocery, and alcohol sales are all up.

The decline and shift in consumer spending are having a strong negative impact on state sales tax revenues. Nationwide, sales taxes account for approximately 20 percent of all state revenue, so the decline in consumer spending will have a material impact on state budgets. As a result, states are looking at new ways to generate or increase revenue to offset the trend. Below we’ll look at three ways states are looking to raise taxes to make up for holes in their budgets.

Grocery Staples 

Eating out less and working from home mean Americans are spending more at the grocery store; approximately 13 percent more, year-over-year, per Census data. The issue for states is that groceries are generally not taxed or are taxed at a lower rate, although there are a few items that apply the full tax rate.

Kansas, for example, applies the full sales tax rate to groceries. The consequence of this is that grocery sales make up about 15 percent of Kansas’ total sales tax revenue. The result of this policy is that the state’s sales tax revenue has barely taken a hit, year-to-date.

Other states are taking notice of the situation in Kansas and may move to the trend of taxing groceries as a way to recover part of their declining sales tax revenues.

Digital Taxes

Another trend is the increase in streaming services and one-time rentals/purchases of digital goods for entertainment and working at home. Currently, 22 states tax streaming services, and 30 states tax digital goods. Other states will look to start taxing these services as well, and digital taxes will start to expand into cloud storage and other services as more people work remotely.

Sin Taxes

Sin taxes are taxes on goods and services that are “bad” for us; think alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and marijuana (where it's legal). Increases in sin taxes are generally easier to pass as they do not apply to the overall general population and politicians can play the moral angle.

During the last recession, for example, lawmakers in more than 12 states increased tobacco and liquor taxes. Newer sin taxes are being instituted, such as those on vaping equipment and supplies.


The exact form and structure will vary, but one thing is certain: States will institute or increase taxes in areas where the money is being spent to ensure their sales tax revenue remains stable.

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Announces George Willie Scholarship Intern

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Announces George Willie Scholarship Intern

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC (RBG) is pleased to announce that Amber Richmond has been selected as a recipient of the 2020 George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Scholarship and Internship Program. 

Students selected to participate in the George Willie program receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and secure an internship with one of the AICPA’s Private Company Practice Section member firms for the following busy season. Richmond will join the RBG team as an intern in January of 2021. To learn more about the scholarship and internship program, visit 

Richmond is currently a student at the University of Memphis. She expects to graduate in 2021 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting with a minor in Finance. She is currently affiliated with the National Association of Black Accountants, the AICPA, and the Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA). 

“The George Willie program offers a fantastic opportunity for ethnically diverse aspiring CPAs,” said Skeet Haag, CPA, managing partner of RBG “Amber was selected from a group of 13 other very well-deserving applicants, which certainly highlights Amber as an outstanding candidate. We are very much looking forward to welcoming her to the RBG team.”

Successful Employee Recruitment Strategies

Successful Employee Recruitment Strategies

This article is aimed at helping small businesses grow in the right direction through the recruitment process. Some of the best practices outlined in this link are identifying what your vacant jobs entail, advertising, and holding introductory calls. Be sure to check out this link and review all of the strategies because recruitment is a vital key for success in any small business.

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Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Named Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Named Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC (RBG) is pleased to be named a 2020 Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For. 

Accounting Today has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees. This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best employers in the accounting profession. This list is made up of 100 firms. 

“It is a great honor to be recognized as a best accounting firm to work for,” said Skeet Haag, CPA, managing partner of RBG. “We take pride in our team and the exceptional workplace we have built. We’re delighted to receive such a sought-after award.” 

Firms from across the United States entered the two-part survey process to determine Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work for. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top firms and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process, analyzed the data, and determined the final ranking.

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Announces New Staff Auditor Accountant

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC Announces New Staff Auditor Accountant

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC (RBG) is pleased to announce the addition of John “Ben” Dodd to its professional team. 

A recent graduate, Dodd joins the RBG Audit Department as an audit staff accountant. He brings with him one and a half years of part time experience as an intern-staff accountant for a Mississippi accounting firm. 

A graduate of Delta State University, Dodd earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 2019 and a Master of Professional Accountancy in 2020. He is currently in pursuit of his CPA designation. Raised in Sunflower, Mississippi, Dodd currently lives in Southaven, Mississippi. 

“It is a pleasure to welcome Ben to the RBG team,” said Skeet Haag, CPA, managing partner of RBG. “His eagerness and professionalism make him a fantastic fit for the firm. I look forward to watching his career develop with RBG.” 

Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive Benefits

Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive Benefits

This article discusses a rare opportunity that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have produced for investors in the United States. Long story short, this act is incentivizing investors to invest in distress communities in order to receive tax benefits in the hopes of “spur[ing] economic development and job creation” in those regions. Be sure to check out this article for more details surrounding the opportunity zones qualifications needed!

To view this article, click HERE to access the original content.

Turning Failures Into Successes

Have you ever heard somebody talk about their “failure resume?” Doesn’t sound like a very appealing topic, right? Wrong. This person likely had a very healthy view of failure—they understood the key to turning failures into successes. 

When you fail, the worst way you can respond is by trying to forget about what happened. Instead, the best move is to put the failure to use by analyzing it and learning from it. 

Learning From Failure

Here are some tips for how you can turn your failures into success:

  1. Take Some Space – Whether you need some space—and how much you require—will depend on both your unique personality and the scope of your failure. If you are the type of person who can easily brush things off, you may not need much time to process what happened. However, if you tend to take failures hard, you might need more time and space before addressing what happened. Just be sure that you return to analyze your failure after taking however much time you need away from it.
  2. Analyze What Happened – Once you are ready, take a long, hard look at your failure. Develop a clear idea of what happened, how it happened, and what mistakes you made. Develop some concrete lessons that you can take away from what happened. Acknowledging the failure and the role you played in it will allow you to learn from your mistakes.
  3. Be Kind to Yourself – While owning your failures is important, you need to learn how to do so without damaging your confidence. Throughout this process, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Keep in mind that you are analyzing the problem in order to learn from it and avoid repeating it in the future. Remember that the fact that you failed in a particular circumstance does not speak to your character or your worth—it doesn’t define you.
  4. Start Fresh – After you have evaluated and analyzed your failure, take the lessons you learned with you, but leave the rest in the past. Do not dwell on your failure except to remember the lessons that you learned from it. 

Mistakes to Avoid

Learning from your failures is no easy task. Consistent results require consistent practice. Additionally, there are a few common mistakes that you should learn to guard against. Keep in mind that you should avoid:

  • Letting your mistakes define you ‚Äì You are not your failure. Rather, you are someone who has failed at something. Not only that, but you are not alone in your failure‚Äîeveryone fails sometimes.
  • Letting the fear of failure lead to inaction ‚Äì It is difficult to rebound from failure. Fear of taking action is a common result. To counter the tendency towards inaction, remind yourself that doing nothing is as much a choice as doing something‚Äîeither road presents some level of risk. Oftentimes, it is better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing at all.
  • Losing confidence in yourself – Just because you have failed in the past does not mean you will continue to fail in the future (especially if you have taken the time to learn from your previous failure). If you find that you are focusing on your failure and losing confidence, try this trick: force yourself to spend at least as much time dwelling on ‚ÄúWhat if I am successful?‚Äù as you do pondering ‚ÄúWhat if I fail?‚Äù