McKee Financial

McKee's Weekly Newsletter 11-23-2020

Open enrollment is your annual opportunity to review your employer-provided benefit options and make elections for the upcoming plan year. You can get the most out of what your employer offers and possibly save some money by taking the time to read through your open enrollment information before making any benefit decisions. Every employer has its own open enrollment period (typically in the fall), and the information is usually available online through your employer.

 

 

What are your health plan options? Even if you’re satisfied with your current health plan, it’s a good idea to compare your existing coverage to other plans being offered next year. Premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and benefits often change from one year to the next and vary among plans. You may decide to keep the plan you already have, but it doesn’t hurt to consider your options.

 

Should you contribute to a flexible spending account? You can help offset your health-care costs by contributing pre-tax dollars to a health flexible spending account (FSA) or reduce your child-care expenses by contributing to a dependent-care FSA. The money you contribute is not subject to federal income and Social Security taxes (nor generally to state and local income taxes), and you can use these tax-free dollars to pay for health-care costs not covered by insurance or for dependent-care expenses. Typically, FSAs are subject to the use-it-or-lose-it rule, which requires you to spend everything in your flexible spending account within a calendar year or risk losing the money. Some employers allow certain amounts to be carried over to the following plan year or offer a grace period that allows you to spend the money during the first few months of the following plan year.

Tip: As a result of unanticipated changes in the need for medical and dependent care due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS announced it will allow employers to amend their employer-sponsored health coverage, health FSAs, and dependent-care assistance programs and allow employees to make certain mid-year changes for 2020. The carryover limit for unused 2020 FSA dollars is now $550 instead of $500. For more information, visit irs.gov.

 

What other benefits and incentives are available? Many employers offer other voluntary benefits such as dental care, vision coverage, disability insurance, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. Even if your employer doesn’t contribute toward the premium cost, you may be able to pay premiums conveniently via payroll deduction. To help avoid missing out on savings opportunities, find out whether your employer offers other discounts or incentives. Common options are discounts on health-related products and services such as gym equipment and eyeglasses, and wellness incentives such as a monetary reward for completing a health assessment.

 

This information is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek guidance from an independent tax or legal professional. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2020 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

 

 

Source: http://www.mckeefinancialresources.com/What-Is-the-Capital-Gain-Tax.c1283.htm

 

 

...and for the History Lovers... This Week in History

 

November 23, 1992

The first Smartphone, IBM Simon, introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

November 24, 1995

Ireland votes 50.28% to 49.72% to end its 70-year-old ban on divorce.

 

November 25, 1923

Transatlantic broadcasting from England to America commences for the first time.

 

November 26, 1979

Oil deposits equaling OPEC reserves are found in Venezuela.

 

November 27, 2001

Hubble Space Telescope discovers a hydrogen atmosphere on planet Osiris, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.

 

November 28, 1943

Sir Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet at Tehran, Iran, to hammer out war aims.

 

November 29, 1972

Atari announces the release of Pong, the first commercially successful video game.

 

 

Notable Dates in October

 

“Just for Fun” Dates in November

November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month—who knew? Here are some more wacky celebrations to look forward to:

  • Nov. 1: National Cook for Your Pets Day

  • Nov. 3: Zero-Tasking Day

  • Nov. 9: National Scrapple Day

  • Nov. 16: National Button Day

  • Nov. 21: World Hello Day

  • Nov. 23: Fibonacci Day

 

Source: https://www.almanac.com/content/november-holidays-fun-facts-folklore

 

BETTER THAN A BOYFRIEND BROWNIES

THE BEST BROWNIE RECIPE

Here it is… your foolproof, satisfy your chocolate cravings, ultimate chocolate chunk brownie recipe.

These “Better than a Boyfriend Brownies” are whipped up in one bowl and are so easy even kids can make them. I am pretty sure I could make these brownies in my sleep. I’ve tried more brownie recipes than I would like to admit but all of that practice has made me a brownie connoisseur of sorts, right? This is hands down the BEST homemade brownie recipe.

I have been baking since I could stand up on a stool! I have been able to compete in the Pillsbury Bake-Off for a million dollars twice, win the Cooking Channel Contest for the most perfect cookie in America and film in the Food Network Studios (the #1 recipe in 2012), and land on the cover of Food Network Magazine for winning their Bake Sale contest. This was all before I started Modern Honey and have been baking up a storm ever since!

All of these years of baking and working to create the perfect brownie recipe and here it is! Once I tried this homemade brownie recipe, I have never looked back. This is the ONLY brownie recipe I use because it is the best!

This brownie recipe is rich, decadent, and fudgy. No dry cakey ones here! You may want to eat the entire pan – they are that good and it might just become your absolute family favorite.

The name – Better than a Boyfriend Brownies stems from where all good inspiration comes from – a breakup. I have a ridiculous memory. It can be a really good thing and a really bad thing, simultaneously. Here’s where the really good memory isn’t so great.

For some stupid reason (because teenagers generally don’t always make the most sound judgments), my friends and I thought it would be funny to toilet paper my first little boyfriend’s house.

Since we couldn’t drive, we convinced my Mom to drive us to this unsuspecting boy’s house. We realized pretty fast that his yard was huge and we needed some help. So we ran to the car and grabbed the master toilet paperer – my Mother. We somehow convinced her that toilet papering at the age of 50 was completely normal.

All was going well and we were quite impressed with our TP skills…until we saw car lights rounding the corner into the cul-de-sac. There was nowhere to run so we squealed like little girls and hurdled into the bushes. Unfortunately for us, our hurdling skills weren’t the best and our covers were blown….by his parents!

They got out of the car, walked over to the bushes and we slowly peaked our heads out in utter shame and embarrassment.  The real entertainment came when they discovered that my Mom was hiding WITH us!

I don’t think they were impressed. That little boyfriend – the giver of my first kiss completely broke my heart into smithereens when he broke up with me. Note to self: don’t toilet paper your boyfriend’s house. They usually have to clean it up and won’t like it.

I went home and did what any normal teenager would do…put on some really sad music, baked up a pan of brownies, ate every one of them and drowned my sorrows. Hence the name – Better than a Boyfriend Brownies.

If only, I would have applied my good memory to the periodic table in Chemistry.

I’ve had a lot of years to work on my brownie making skills. I am going to give you 5 tips to make sure those calories are worth it and to NOT screw up your brownies. These are truly the best brownies in the world!

5 WAYS TO NOT SCREW UP BROWNIES:

  • Don’t overbake. Holy cow this is a big one. Ask my kids how crazy it makes me when I see the cooking times listed on a brownie mix or cake mix box and it’s so long that you’ll end up with hockey pucks! No wonder people think they are bad cooks when really we can just chalk it up to bad directions. Can we do that? Yes, we can. Anytime you are baking up a cookie, cake or brownie….watch those precious gems like a hawk. You want laser beam focus because a few minutes can be a difference maker.

 

  • Cream butter + sugar for at least 3 minutes to ensure you don’t end up with grainy brownies. Creaming works wonders in baked goods as it helps to dissolve sugar crystals and it creates little pockets of air. The butter wraps around the sugar as it coats it and helps to say goodbye to the grainy texture.

 

  • Don’t overmix your flour. You know how kneading bread makes it better….well it’s the opposite with baked goods. If you overmix your batter, it creates more gluten which can leave you with a tougher brownie. We want a tender one! Mix until just combined or even turn off your mixer and fold in your flour.

 

  • Use high-quality cocoa. It’s the star ingredient and it’s integral to the overall success of the brownies. I buy Callebaut cocoa powder in bulk at Winco and even though it’s high-quality stuff, it is actually less expensive than buying one of the other popular brands in the store. It makes a huge difference in the depth of flavor.

 

  • Add chocolate chunks. Because if you are going to eat chocolate, you want to really eat chocolate. Adding semi-sweet chocolate adds a richness to it and another depth of flavor. Guittard and Ghiradelli are some of my favorite brands of chocolate. Trader Joe’s makes a killer chocolate bar and it melts beautifully. If you are really crazy, add some white chocolate just to really mix it up (think Paradise Bakery black + white chippers).

 

Use a toothpick or even a cake tester (OXO makes a good inexpensive one HERE) to test the middle to make sure it’s not a goopy mess.

You want it to come out with a soft crumb and not be dry as cardboard. No one likes to eat cardboard. Use light colored pans. The dark colored pans cook the bottoms of baked goods too quickly. Here are a few of my favorite pans — USA 9 x 13 inch pan and USA Square Cake Pan 9 inch.

Feel free to up your game and add some caramel or dulce de leche. People will be impressed at your mad skills. Carefully heat up a jar of that caramel goodness and swirl half of the jar into the brownie batter. Bake in the oven. Once they come out of the oven, top and swirl with remaining caramel.

Make sure you lick the spoon after you are all done…..in the name of research, of course. *They are adapted from I am Baker’s brownie recipe (who you must follow because she’s so hilarious and incredibly talented).

Better than a Boyfriend Brownies

This rich and fudgy brownie will satisfy all your chocolate cravings.

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Keyword best brownie recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 32 minutes

Total Time 42 minutes

Servings 20

Author Melissa Stadler, Modern Honey

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter softened

  • 2 cups Sugar

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar

  • 4 Eggs

  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla

  • 1 cup Flour

  • 1/2 cup Cake Flour

  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks or Chips

  • *Optional: add 8-ounce jar Dulce de Leche. Carefully heat in the microwave. Swirl in 4 ounces into the batter. Bake. Top brownies with remaining Dulce de Leche.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.

  • Stir in flour, cake flour, cocoa, and salt until mixed together.

  • Fold in chocolate chips.

  • Pour into 9 x 13 pan and spread evenly.

  • Bake for 28-36 minutes.

  • *Adapted from I am Baker's decadent brownies

 

Source: https://www.modernhoney.com/wprm_print/12685

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