Same-Sex Marriage: Should it be up to Voters?

voterPhoto courtesy of Jamie Sanford

Recent news headlines have broadcast loud and clear that there may very well be a gay marriage referendum on the voting ballot in New Jersey this year. In fact, it was New Jersey’s first openly gay legislator, Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), who proposed the idea.

Although nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington) as well as Washington, D.C. (and two Native American tribes) currently recognize same sex marriage, there has been some surprising backlash in the mostly liberal state of New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie swiftly vetoed the gay marriage bill that was passed by the state Legislature in 2012, reaffirming his stance that same sex marriage should be put to referendum. Many lawmakers and voters alike have called this move a smoke screen behind which Christie is attempting to hide his lack of leadership on the issue.

By putting the issue to a public vote, Christie defers all responsibility onto voters.  While it is purported that approximately 52% of New Jersey residents support gay marriage, some of them argue that it’s not an issue that can (or should) be voted on. Many hold the view that marriage is a civil right that should be available to anyone and everyone, regardless of race or sex.

And while New Jersey does allow and recognize same sex civil unions, the rights afforded to gay couples under the civil union law have been deemed “utterly useless.”

The possibility of a New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Referendum in 2013 leaves a huge number of New Jersey residents (and Americans in general) feeling uneasy at a lacking political system who should be making such sensitive decisions for them. New Jerseyans, although by majority may back the idea of same sex marriage, want and need a leader that will move them forward instead of backward.

The argument against same sex marriage is based entirely on writings contained in the Bible. There are a number of Christian groups who agree that the Bible and the Constitution are two separate texts and that law making should not be based on religious beliefs of any kind. The United States was founded on the very concept of religious freedom, particularly to avoid the benefit of one religion over another.

Should same sex marriage be a votable issue? Three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – approved gay marriage in ballot questions last November with President Obama at the top of the ticket. It can be done – but should it?

Keep the Keys to Your Home with NJ HomeKeeper

keysPhoto courtesy of Keith Williamson

Every day, Veitengruber Law meets with clients who are struggling to make ends meet. If you’re finding yourself in over your head, or if you’re managing to barely tread water, we’ve got some ideas that may be just what you need.

Most people who are struggling financially name their rent or mortgage payment as their most cumbersome bill. Homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments all the time, especially in recent years, as the job market has been unpredictable.

If you are struggling to keep the keys to your beloved residence and honestly don’t know where to turn, we want to talk to you about the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program. This amazing organization receives its funding through a federal grant from the U.S. Treasury’s ‘Hardest Hit’ Fund, which has been helping those states that have the highest unemployment rates. If you’re in danger of losing your New Jersey home to foreclosure because you can’t make the payments, this program may be for you.

The HomeKeeper Program requires that your home is located in New Jersey, and that you have become unemployed or underemployed (have had an income loss of 15% or more) in the past three years through no fault or personal decision of your own. The home you’re struggling to keep must be your primary residence, and must also be the only residential real estate that you currently own.

You must also not owe over $429,619 when it comes to mortgage debt (for a one unit property). If you’ve got next to nothing in your savings account (not including investments for retirement and/or education of a dependent), and your lender participates in the New Jersey HomeKeeper program, Veitengruber Law can assist you in applying for help.

Of course, you may be wondering just how much help you’ll be entitled to if you qualify. We’re excited to tell you that the HomeKeeper organization can offer you up to $48,000 in forgivable mortgage assistance! The money can be applied to your current mortgage payments and/or arrearages (late payments), and includes payment of your principal, interest, and property taxes.

Don’t worry if you haven’t yet fallen behind on your payments; you will still be eligible if you are likely to fall behind very soon. We applaud your ability to stay current as long as you have, but again, being unemployed or underemployed will sooner or later prevent you from making those payments. Luckily, you have a good, solid solution right at your fingertips.

Call our office today so we can run through the basics of the New Jersey HomeKeeper Program to see if you qualify. Self-employed individuals are encouraged to give us a call as well. We may need to acquire some additional information from you, but you are eligible for the program.

Don’t let the keys to your home slip through your fingers. Take action now, and let us help you explore all options that will help you stay rooted firmly in your beloved State of New Jersey.

Building a Referral Incentive Plan

shake handsPhoto courtesy of The Tax Haven

It’s a fact that many business professionals get most of their work through referrals from colleagues, current or previous clients, networking, and friends. It is also true that you’d have a hard time finding a professional who isn’t interested in getting more referrals. How does one accomplish that?

The first step to getting recommended is to ensure that you have the qualities that potential clients are looking for in your field. Naturally, some of these qualities will vary from one profession to the next, but as a general rule, people refer clients to professionals with certain desirable qualities:

  • Dependability
  • Reputability
  • Tenacity
  • Honesty
  • Results-driven

At Veitengruber Law, we will refer our clients to our colleagues based on the above qualities, so that our clients get the best service they need, if we can’t provide it for them. Above all, it is important to us that the person we are referring someone to is friendly and easy to get along with. Having a great rapport with clients is one of your best bets when it comes to getting referrals.

Of course, even if you possess all of the above qualities and you are awesome at what you do, you may not be seeing referrals flying in. There’s more to it than that, for sure. In order to further encourage your colleagues to refer other clients to you when they need services that you can provide, you’ll need to be more proactive

For example, some professionals do not feel comfortable asking for referrals, for fear of looking desperate. The fact of the matter is, most professionals are in the same boat! Everyone understands the need for new clients, and it’s possible that some assume that you’re too busy to take on any more work. Asking for referrals can be as simple as saying, “I’d love to help anyone you know who needs my services.”

Incentives may also help bring more referrals your way. For example, Veitengruber Law works closely with other professionals like accountants, financial planners, divorce attorneys, realtors, and mortgage brokers. Any clients who are referred from other business professionals will receive a free consultation, and we are even willing to see your client in your offices for the initial consult, if that makes your client more comfortable. You may want to try a variation of our referral system, to see if it works in your favor.

Continue networking at every given opportunity so that you can forge important relationships and friendships with the type of people you are most likely to receive referrals from. Also, make sure that you are returning the favor by referring your clients to a variety of your colleagues. When business professionals work together, clients benefit the most because they get high-quality services from trustworthy business owners.

Your client’s win is also a win for you, because every time you refer someone, you are actually growing your network, one step at a time. Following the examples given, you’ll soon see more referrals coming your way.

5 Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

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Here at Veitengruber Law, we give our clients who are small business owners the same advice we would give ourselves when it comes to networking. Although we are attorneys and not business advisors, we pride ourselves on helping many people and businesses get on track financially.

A huge part of running a successful business is generating a customer base large enough to ensure that your company will succeed. Oftentimes, we meet clients when their business is in danger of going under. Many times our clients ask us to help them repair and rebuild their finances so that their company can succeed. As we work to help clients amend important aspects of the financial side of their business, we also offer some basic entrepreneurial advice.

Before your business can begin networking, you must spend time creating an innovative and well thought out brand that is easily marketable. It’s also important to be doing what you love as an entrepreneur.

Networking, or connecting with other professionals in your field or similar fields, is a component of self-marketing your business. If you are like others who sometimes find networking difficult or uncomfortable, there are several things that you can try to lessen your discomfort as you do your part to expand your business.

  1. Be honest and be yourself . Don’t attempt to make your efforts to network look like anything other than they are, but don’t overdo it, either. Other business owners will appreciate your candidness and will be much more likely to share information with you once they like you. Honesty is a very likable quality.
  2. Step outside of your industry. Many times, startup company owners think that they should be networking with companies similar to theirs. However, you’ll realize that networking outside of your industry can be just as helpful, if not more so. A business is a business regardless of the industry, and you’d be surprised what you can learn from someone whose business complements yours, rather than competes against it.
  3. Give before you get. Nobody likes a Needy Ned, right? Don’t be that person always asking for a phone number or leads without giving anything in return. As a matter of fact, it will do you good to offer up valuable tips and referrals to those people who you can benefit from in the future. They will be quite likely to return the favor.
  4. Stay neutral. It’s a good idea to pick a neutral meeting place if you plan on networking one on one. Taking a potential partner out to lunch is a fantastic way to avoid the distractions of his office (or yours), and it’s a good way to capture their attention. Since the average business lunch usually lasts at least an hour, you’ve got a good amount of time to connect on a business level and a social level. You’ll probably walk away from the lunch as friends, barring anything disastrous.
  5. Keep it light. Diving in with a sales pitch or business opportunity is not a good idea when networking, especially at first. Make it your goal to have a friendly encounter. Once people see you as a friend, they will be much more inclined to do business with you. People surround themselves with people they like, even in business.  Seal the relationship with a follow up call, email, or ideally, get them on your calendar for another meet-up in the near future.

Networking, although it can seem daunting at first, actually get a lot easier with some practice. Also, the size of your network will grow exponentially with each contact you make, because you’ll then have access to that contact’s network. It’s just one component of making your business a success, but it leads to referrals, which we’ll talk about next week.