Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Ambassadors for a presentation on the latest news in astronomy. Finish the evening by relaxing and enjoying the night’s beauty with the members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club for a tour of the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets. Feel free to bring your telescope or binoculars for your own exploration.
Entrance gates close one hour after the program start time.
Should you stay or should you go?
Here is a happy problem: Should you renovate or move? No matter what choice you make, you are going to have something better.
But when you get into the details, both options are stressful.
If this is your decision, start by asking yourself whether you like the location of your home.
You might find yourself saying you like the neighborhood, the commute, the access to amenities, and the school district. If so, ask yourself if your home has the space to accommodate your needs and, if not, what it would take to make it work.
Changes are an important issue. It’s fun to change the look of a home, but the most important renovations could be functional: roof, furnace, foundation, and siding. These cost a lot and aren’t nearly as satisfying, but they are crucial to maintaining your investment.
Cost is an issue. Adding a room can cost $40,000, according to CNBC. Remodeling a kitchen averages about $22,507. A new bathroom could cost $47,000. Of course, getting a contractor to estimate the costs and the time it will take to make the changes will be important. You’ll be living in a construction zone for a while — consider whether you are willing to do that.
Another thing to consider is the future resale value of the renovations. You don’t want a house that doesn’t fit the neighborhood, or your renovations will be worth less.
On the other hand, moving could get you into a house that already fits you. Of course, you’ll have to sell, pack up, and move. That is no treat. But when your lot is too small to add a room or if your kids need to be in another school district, it’s time to move on and build memories in a new space.
Payment apps will soon report on your income to the IRS
Making some side cash via the gig economy, maybe giving lifts through Lyft or slinging some goods on eBay? If so, you’ll want to pay closer attention during 2023.
The IRS plans to drop the 1099-K form threshold from $20,000 to just $600, owing to changes written into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
That means third-party cash networks, such as Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal, must provide 1099-K forms to people getting money through their apps. It used to be you had to make more than $20,000 to get a tattle-tale 1099-K form from one of these apps. But now, the level is down to $600. Those cash apps will remind you and the IRS of just how much you are making from that side hustle.
In the past, you still had to report the income. If you have been playing it a little casually with the math, that’s over.
Many everyday people- clearing out the garage by selling stuff online, for example — could end up handling more paperwork and reporting more income. Folks using apps like DoorDash or Uber as side hustles will also likely be impacted. Before the threshold, the forms involved were largely limited to full-time drivers, professional sellers (say, a second-hand goods retailer on eBay), and others handling many transactions.
Income on the 1099-K form is subject to income taxes and the 15 percent self-employment tax, so it’s smart for taxpayers to plan ahead. Otherwise, they may lack the funds when the time to pay comes, increasing the risk of penalties. Meanwhile, some companies must also ensure they have the systems to generate and send reports to their clients.
Initially, the 1099-K threshold change was supposed to land for the 2022 tax year, but the IRS delayed it for a year. Good thing, too, as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants warned that “The excessive reduction in the de minimis reporting threshold for third-party network transactions has created a significantly large reporting burden.” The organization further elaborated that with the IRS already facing an unprecedented backlog, the lowered threshold would result in more delays.
In December, IRS Commissioner Doug O’Donnell announced that the 1099-K reporting requirements would be delayed. Still, the threshold definitely will be lowered for the 2023 tax year.
Four steps to protect your online bank account
Online banking has made it easier than ever to manage your bank account from anywhere in the world. While convenient, online banking doesn’t come without risks. Here are four steps to take to protect your account.
1. Create a strong password
Use a passphrase incorporating upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using personal information, such as your name and date of birth, to ensure your password is difficult for hackers to guess.
Changing your online banking password every three to six months is a good idea to lower the odds of your pass¬word being stolen or decoded.
2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi
Avoid using online or mobile banking while connected to public Wi-Fi. If a hacker taps into the unsecured network, they can access your personal information, including your bank account login.
3. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication provides a second layer of security when logging into your online or mobile banking account. For example, you can choose to receive a one-time code via text message or an automated phone call to verify your identity. This makes it difficult for hackers to unlock your account.
4. Monitor your account regularly
Consult your bank statements and review your transactions weekly. If you notice anything amiss, contact your bank immediately. If possible, sign up to receive notifications from your bank that instantly alert you of suspicious activity.
Although online banking can potentially lead to hacking and fraudulent charges, the above practices will help you stay safe.
Become An Action Taker To Live Your Dream Life
You’re a dreamer, but sometimes you don’t take action. Why not? Is it because you are afraid to fail? Maybe you feel you’re too old to start a new project. Or maybe you don’t want to mess up your current career.
Many people want to become successful, but they don’t know how to get started. You may feel like you’re stuck in a rut, but there’s always a way to break free. The only thing holding you back from being successful is your mindset. If you want to take action and follow your dreams, then it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing it!
Success is not a destination. It’s a journey.
If you want to take your life and career to the next level, it’s important to have a mindset that is focused on action rather than talk. Have you ever noticed that people who dream big and set goals seem to be able to achieve more than those who are content with doing what they think they should be doing?
Dreams are all well and good, but how do you turn them into reality? We’ll explore some simple yet powerful techniques for turning your dreams into action.
Take Small Steps Towards Your Goals
Many people set big goals for themselves but never actually act towards accomplishing them. They might put something on their bucket list and leave it at that.
You need to ensure you’re always taking small steps toward achieving your bigger goals. That means you have to put in more effort than you normally would.
If you want to succeed in anything, you need to embrace your dreams. You’re not going to accomplish anything if you don’t believe in your dreams or goals.
If you can’t act toward your dreams, they’re just pipe dreams to you. The fact is, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to the moon to say you did. If you want to accomplish something big, then you need to take baby steps toward that.
Small, everyday actions can help you achieve your dreams faster than you ever could by just sitting back and watching your goals unfold before your eyes. It might be easy to say you want to get out of debt, but that’s much easier said than done.
You can actually go to your bank and request a lower credit card rate, or you can find a job and start working. You can even get your family on board with your dreams and get them to pitch in on your dream project.
Start with something small and get it going, and then you’ll have something that you can look forward to accomplishing. You might also find that you need a little help along the way, so you can work towards it with friends and loved ones as you build your business.
As you can see, you’re only going to get anywhere if you do something, and you only get to do anything if you take action. If you’re not progressing, you might want to reevaluate your situation and goals.
Mindset Drives Action
Your mindset determines the level of energy you have to put into a task, project, or goal you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re constantly negative, your energy levels will be very low, leading to poor results.
On the other hand, if you’re positive and upbeat, you’ll be able to tap into a lot of your energy to progress toward your goals. When you’re positive, you’re also able to see the obstacles in front of you as something that you will have to overcome, making them less intimidating.
One of the biggest problems people face is that they allow the obstacles and challenges that get in their way to becoming so large that they can’t be conquered. Instead, you should embrace them and learn from them.
Embrace failure as a way to learn how to avoid it in the future. The fact is, you won’t succeed if you don’t fail, and there are a lot of things that you can learn from failing.
For example, you can use failure as a means to improve yourself, and that’s what you should do.
You might think that failure is a bad thing, but if you can see the positive lessons you can draw from it, you’re more likely to succeed going forward. Even if you’ve failed in the past, you still have a lot to learn from, and you can apply that knowledge to avoid repeating the same mistake.
So the next time you feel like failure is inevitable, look at it as positive. It’s the only way to grow as a person and the only way you’ll be able to get through any challenge you’re facing.
You might be thinking that this mindset is one that only succeeds people have. The truth is, it’s not reserved for just those that are successful; it’s for everyone willing to take action on their dreams.
Successful people are not necessarily people who are all about action. They’re about the journey, not just the destination. It’s important that you realize that you can do a lot more than get where you want to go, even if that means a lot more work and struggle.
You can achieve more than you ever imagined. You can become the best version of yourself. You can make the most out of your life and even live your dreams.
If you’re truly passionate about what you want to do, you will find a way to make it happen. If you’re really driven and persistent, then you’ll succeed. If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want, you’ll succeed.
Don’t wait for someone else to make it happen. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you you can succeed. Just think about it and be sure about it.
If you’re ready to take your life to the next level, you need to start taking action. If you’re doing the things you need to do to achieve your goals, then you’re setting yourself up for success.
If you’re making some changes that you’re committed to, then you’re setting yourself up for success. If you’re doing what you’ve got to do to get where you want to be, then you’re doing the right things.
You might be scared, but you need to be scared. You might hesitate to jump into your dreams, but you must. You might be skeptical, but you need to be. There’s a reason why you’re where you are, and there’s a reason why you’re in the position you’re in.
It’s not luck, and it’s not good timing. It’s you. It’s your commitment. It’s your desire. It’s your persistence. It’s your will. You’re making it happen. It’s your dreams that are coming true.
Take the next step. Take the leap. Make your dream a reality. Don’t let anything hold you back. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be doubtful.
SNAP Emergency Allotments Will End in February
The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) will release the final issuance of emergency allotment benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households in February, in accordance with the requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. The new law recently passed by Congress ends VDSS’ authorization to continue issuing benefits through the temporary federal program, originally established in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The last issuance of benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP customers’ Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Thursday, February 16.
SNAP households began receiving the temporary emergency allotment benefit in March 2020 through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (2020). Per federal guidelines, states were required to request a monthly waiver to issue these benefits. VDSS submitted this request each month for the duration of the period emergency benefits were available to continue providing additional food benefits to SNAP households. Since March 2020, the Commonwealth has issued more than 2.1 billion dollars in emergency allotments and raised the monthly issuance to the maximum allowable amount for over 900,000 individuals in Virginia. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, emergency allotments have already ended in 17 states.
Households will permanently return to pre-pandemic allowances beginning March 1, 2023, and receive their regular SNAP benefit amounts on their usual day of issuance (on the 1st, 4th, or 7th day of the month). To further awareness of this change, VDSS has mailed letters directly to SNAP households.
Additionally, to support Virginians during this transition, VDSS has also created a dedicated webpage for more information and resources. Beginning January 28, households may contact the temporary information line at 1-855-635-4370, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. TTY assistance is available by calling 800-552-7917 or 866-246-9300. SNAP participants can contact Warren County DSS or visit CommonHelp for questions or account information.
For assistance with applying for food benefits, visit the VDSS SNAP webpage. To access information regarding resources statewide and in your local community, don’t hesitate to get in touch with 2-1-1 Virginia or visit the VDSS food and other nutritional assistance pages.
Heart Month: Learn the difference between cardiac arrest, heart attack
February is National Heart Month, and doctors want Virginians to understand heart health better – specifically, heart attacks and cardiac arrest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800,000 people have heart attacks yearly, most of which are first-time heart attacks. Cardiac arrest can involve numerous factors, and heart attack is the most common.
Dr. Benjamin Galper, assistant chief of cardiology at Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group in northern Virginia, said this is partly why the two get mixed up. He said signs of a heart attack typically could be chest pressure, nausea, or sweating – but the signs of cardiac arrest are more dire.
“Cardiac arrest itself is not subtle,” he said. “If you’ve gotten to the point of cardiac arrest, it means the person is unconscious and doesn’t have a pulse when you take their pulse, and they’re not breathing. So, when someone’s had cardiac arrest, it’s usually obvious and usually quite concerning.”
National Heart Month is a good time to commit to reducing those risks with a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise. Galper also encouraged people to get CPR training to aid someone having a heart attack until first responders arrive – and possibly save a life.
Underlying diseases such as diabetes or prediabetes can make a person more susceptible to heart problems. Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare, said genetics could be another risk factor.
“Things like Marfan Syndrome increases the risk of aneurysms and abnormal blood flow to the heart, and things of that sort, so there can be some genetic consequences,” he said. “There can also be genetic history; if your parents had problems with their hearts, there’s a higher likelihood that you may.”
He added that heart disease could affect people at any age. CDC research has found it can start as early as 35, and the risks increase with age. Anyone experiencing new chest pains or shortness of breath is encouraged to talk with their doctor about their heart-health options.
By Edwin J. Viera
Public News Service