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Lexington woman opens new tax agency in her hometown; Valentine’s Day events planned

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TRU Tax office opens in Lexington

Sharicka Holloway Sides is planning a grand opening celebration on Jan. 30 for her recently opened TRU Tax office in Lexington.

The 2008 graduate of Lexington Senior High moved back to her hometown after a stint of living in Georgia to open her business at 364 Dixon St. The local agency opened in December.

“I moved back really because I got an offer to have my own agency, and a majority of my clients are in North Carolina,” she said. 

Shortly after high school, Sides began doing her own taxes and helping family members file their annual tax forms. She worked for various tax preparation companies in N.C. and Georgia during the next several years. TRU Tax began in Georgia, she said, and now has agencies in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Ohio.

“I love to help people,” she said, explaining why she began working in the tax form preparation industry. “My company will be about modifying charges and getting you the most (refund) back as possible. We have so many tools to use. If I can lower your fee or help you get more refund than you did last year, I’m all for it.”

TRU Tax also has credit repair and accounting services. Sides’ Lexington office will concentrate on tax returns, however, and has 10 employees. She said she will refer clients to TRU Tax credit repair and accounting specialists if requested.

Managing a new TRU Tax agency in Lexington is not Sides’ only job. She is also working with her husband, Kevin Sides, to open Kitchen Konects, a catering company. She first opened a food catering business of the same name while living in Georgia. More information about this business venture will be given when the opening date is nearer.

Potential clients can reach Sides or her employees by downloading the My Tax Office app and using code 8925LA, or by calling or emailing (404) 721-3349 and sharickahtrutax@gmail.com.

Pictured are charcuterie boards made by Chef John Wilson of Sophie's Cork & Ale for the Arts Davidson County New Year's Eve fundraiser. The arts nonprofit and Wilson have teamed up again to offer charcuterie boards for Valentine's Day featuring sweet treats.

Charcuterie boards are back for Valentine’s Day

Arts Davidson County is bringing back its charcuterie board fundraiser, but this time with sweets and wine for Valentine’s Day celebrations at home during the pandemic.

The nonprofit staged a New Year’s Eve charcuterie board fundraiser where it partnered with local artists to make the boards and local restaurants to create the food and sell the wine. 

“We sold 89 boards for New Year’s Eve,” said Amanda Murphy, events and community coordinator for Arts Davidson County. ” We had a few boards left that we did not sell, so we wanted to do this again for Valentine’s. People loved it.”

While the first fundraiser partnered with a Lexington and Thomasville restaurant, the Valentine event will feature the mostly homemade treats of one Lexington restaurant. Chef John Wilson of Sophie’s Cork and Ale in Lexington will fill the handmade boards with Chocolate pretzel sticks, chocolate-covered strawberries, candied pecans, crunchy peanut butter buckeyes, s’mores Girl Scout cookies, pistachio brittle and Nutella marshmallow fluff.

 In addition, Wilson has also partnered with three other Lexington eateries to provide treats. Those treats and businesses are: Chocolate bombs from The Factory – Coffee & Waffles, doughnut holes from Red Donut Shop and swiss rolls from Sinfully Delicious Custom Bakery.

Purchasers will select from six wines when purchasing their charcuterie board at eventbrite.com. The cost is $50. Boards and wine will be ready for pick up at Sophie’s Cork & Ale, located at 23 W. Second Ave., from 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

“It’s important to us that we are supporting local businesses with our fundraiser,” Murphy said. “…We’re trying to say stay at home and be safe and stay healthy, but you can still support the businesses in our community.”

A Valentine dinner catered by Kathleen Watson of Cuisine Kathleen is planned for Feb. 13 at The Holt House.

Valentine date night dinners planned in small setting at Holt House

The owning partners at the Holt House have planned a Valentine dinner on Feb. 13 at the historic home in Lexington.

Nia Ward, one of three local women who purchased the home in March 2020 to operate it as a wedding and events venue, said she and her partners wanted to provide a way for people to still “go out” for Valentine’s Day but in a safe, socially-distanced way.

Timed, staggered seating will be provided for two to 10 people. Tables will be set up six feet or more apart in all the rooms on the house’s first floor. A party of six to 10 will be provided a private room. There is also an option to purchase a meal and take it home.

Kathleen Watson, owner of Cuisine Kathleen catering, is preparing the meal that features beef tenderloin, seasonal salad, potatoes au gratin, yeast rolls, flourless chocolate torte and a glass of beer or wine. The cost is $50 per person and includes a floral arrangement to take home.

Seating times from 5-7:30 can be made and tickets purchased at holthoucenc.com. Guests may enjoy their private table for up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Afterward, guests may lounge by the outdoor fire pit and patio area. 

– Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. She wants to know what people in Davidson County are talking about. Contact me at jill.doss-raines@the-dispatch.com and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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