Polished and stylish when preparing for a board meeting, Ariel McGuire looks cool and professional. But stick around and watch her when she is doing her side hustle and you might be surprised. This 20-something year old has a few tattoos that you can see when she is in the ring….she’s a Muay Thai martial arts fighter!  When she’s not in full-contact combat, this amazing young lady is involved in a much different type of fight. She’s battling for the lives of girls and women in a country over 5,000 miles away from home.

Born and raised in Virginia, Ariel graduated from university in 2014 with a degree in Religious Studies. In 2012, she traveled to Ghana to study. While there, this adventurous lady traveled through West and East Africa. Ariel lived and traveled in Southeast Asia from 2015-2016. While living in Thailand, she loved the culture.

“There were lots of markets and shops. I lived in the mountains,” Ariel said. “The people there are beautiful.”

Ariel was teaching English, but she was seeking out people to teach her the art of Muay Thai.

“I was on a mission and I asked everyone how to start Muay Thai lessons. No one could help until a friend introduced me to someone who was practicing.” Ariel was soon hooked.

She was also still passionate about helping people in other countries. In the summer of 2017, Ariel returned to work in Ghana.

Ariel said, “Through Global Leadership Adventures, I partners with [fellow co-founder] Fafa Nukunu. We created a new program together.”

On The Mother’s Heritage International (MHI) website, Ariel is described this way: “As a very curious, vivacious, and strong-willed young woman, her experiences over time have evoked a fervent belief and passion for education and empowerment of women. After seeing and experiencing first-hand the type of change that needs to happen in Ghana, paired with the ability to create it within reach, she jumped on the opportunity to create MHI with Fafa Nukunu.”

Lake Volta, Ghana, is plagued by child slavery. In the Lake Volta region, around one in three children are engaged in child labor. Ariel said, “When I arrived, I saw the homes for child slaves were only for the boys. I asked, ‘Why not girls, too?’

Ariel and Fafa worked together to make a home a reality for the girls, too. They founded MHI to be an agent of social change and refuge for at-risk girls in Ghana. They provide rescue and refuge for young female slaves, teach women self-sustainable vocational skills, support educational and medical missions, and offer community education outreach. The entire idea behind their organization is to provide a safe, healthy environment for growth and education for girls who seek refuge from harmful labor practices and treatment on Lake Volta. All of Ariel and Fafa’s social initiatives are efforts that work together to stop the cycle of forced child labor and create positive change for women in Ghana.

“My main takeaway is knowing we are making a difference,” Ariel stated. With the establishment of MHI in 2018, they have just gotten started.

“My vision for 2019 is to raise money to purchase land for a new home for the girls.” Ariel said the best way to contribute to MHI is to donate money so she and Fafa can purchase the land and the building materials they need for the new building. 

Another way Ariel is raising money for MHI is through her passion for Muay Thai. Ariel currently competes in Muay Thai tournaments in Virginia. Here at RBI, someone who is associated with insurance had one of his unfiltered ADHD thoughts and suggested to Ariel to have a fight card to benefit her nonprofit.  She thought this was a great idea!  Ariel’s fight to raise money for MHI will be happening on January 26 in Winchester, Virginia at 6 PM. To learn more, please go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/RFSMMA/posts/.  Ariel is kicking butt, both figuratively and literally!

Whether she’s grappling with a fighter in the ring, or she’s working tirelessly to give girls and women in Ghana their freedom, Ariel is the kind of contender we love to champion.

To donate to MHI, please go to their website at https://mothersheritageintl.org/donate/.

While you’re getting ready for the holidays, RBI’s Chris Smith is getting ready for tax season! He’s sharpening all of his pencils, and instead of sugarplums, he’s dreaming of W2 forms and 1099s.

We’re so glad that Chris is always on top of what you need to know to prepare your taxes, whether it is for your personal finances or for your business. Here is Chris’ list of the ten big changes for the 2018 taxes.

  1. Standard deductions went way up.  Married filing jointly went to $24,000, up from what would have been $13,000.
  2. Personal exemptions have been eliminated.
  3. There are new tax brackets…the 15% bracket is now 12%, and the 25% is now 22%
  4. Estate tax exemption doubled – continuation of the road to eliminate the death tax.
  5. The child tax credit has been raised to $2,000 per qualifying child, those who are under 17, up from $1,000. A $500 credit is available for dependents who do not get the $2,000 credit.
  6. The deduction for interest is capped at $750,000 for mortgage loan balances taken out after December 15th of last year. The limit is still $1 million for mortgages that were established prior to December 15th, 2017.
  7. The itemized deduction is limited to $10,000 for both income and property taxes paid during the year.
  8. The employee limit for 401K and 403b plans went up $500 to 18,500.
  9. Phaseout limits were raised for those who have workplace savings plans and choose to not use or to do extra on the side.
  10. Phaseout limit for ROTH IRA’s has gone up.

So if you’ve read the list about, and any of these changes make you go, “Huh?” or cause you to lose sleep at night, please contact Chris and schedule some time to talk. He understands that as a small business owner or nonprofit president, you didn’t go into business for the financial work involved…He says, “We handle the financial stuff that overwhelms owners.” Chris also shares this advice to help out with your personal taxes. Sure, Chris looks out for small businesses and nonprofits too, but wouldn’t it be great to spend less time on your personal taxes so you can spend time on the things that matter, too?

That’s a gift you should give yourself for Christmas for a less stressful 2019!

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, there’s a new annual tradition. Have you heard of it? It’s Giving Tuesday. Around here, our pants are fitting tighter after that big turkey feast the previous week, our thoughts are turning to buying a Christmas tree, and we start thinking about presents for the RBI gift exchange. Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season that reminds us, while we’re recovering from the turkey feast and preparing for the holiday hubbub, to remember to give to our community too during this season of generosity.

At RBI, we’re all about Giving Tuesday. And giving Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and on the weekend too! Seriously, our driving force, the foundation of our existence as an insurance and accounting company, is so we can serve the underserved nonprofit community with the support they need. Many insurance companies shy away from providing insurance to nonprofits because while they may be high-risk and really need insurance, they don’t have a lot to spend. They’re called nonprofits for a reason!

But we at RBI are really grateful for Giving Tuesday because it serves as a reminder to all of us that we’re part of a larger community. The holiday season is about showing that we care. While we care throughout the year, the cold winter months make it a little harder to get from one place to another, doing the daily things we have to do. The holiday season and Giving Tuesday remind us that it’s not just all about walking around with blinders on as we go through our daily activities. We have this reminder that we can show our community that we care about everyone. Having a great holiday spirit during this sometimes bleak season – looking at all of the bare trees, trudging through snow, dealing with ice – brightens not only our own lives but also the lives of everyone we support.

While we care for many nonprofits, we wanted to check in with Rebecca Blackwell at the Sophie House and find out what Giving Tuesday means to their community. The mission of the Sophie House is to provide encouragement, supportive services, and housing to single women and single women with children that will move them from instability to stability.

When asked about the impact of Giving Tuesday, Rebecca shared, “The Sophie House relies on the generosity of our community to support the single women and mothers in our program. Giving Tuesday is a great way to give back to organizations that make a difference to you. After being able to shop and buy and save lots of money on the things we want to give during the holidays, we then have the opportunity to give back some of the money we saved while shopping, to a cause that makes a difference in the community and to us! Giving Tuesday makes a difference!”

As Board Members for Sophie’s House, we’re so grateful for the impact of Giving Tuesday! We believe in giving through monetary donations, but also through giving our time and energy. So when you’re considering trading in your work pants for stretch pants after Thanksgiving, and making out that long holiday shopping list, consider starting first on Giving Tuesday, November 27th, and make the season bright through a donation to your favorite nonprofit.

The confusion was spreading across his face as Jimmy and one of his valued RBI clients sat across from one another. Jimmy’s client knew the importance of personal liability insurance but he wasn’t aware of professional liability insurance. And he had a question for Jimmy.

“Why do I need that?”

Jimmy froze for a second, and then a smile came across his face.

“Green Skittles.”

His client, clearly surprised by Jimmy’s answer, looked more puzzled. Jimmy confidently continued.

“Imagine that you are onstage talking with a huge audience of potential clients. As a business expert, they trust you and they are listening to everything you say. During this presentation, you tell your potential clients that what they need to improve their business is to eat Skittles. Lots of Skittles. But only the green ones.”

Jimmy’s client gave him a sideways glance.

“Um, OK!”

Jimmy continued.

“You keep telling the audience, ‘Eat green Skittles!’ After your presentation, many of the people listening run out, buy, and eat green Skittles. Soon afterwards, several people in your audience learn they are allergic to the ingredients in the green Skittles. They turn green and swell up like Violet Beauregard from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ Now these audience members are upset! As a business expert, you told them that they needed to eat green Skittles to grow their business. They ate Skittles based on your advice but all they did was grow big and green themselves! Other than getting Incredible Hulk auditions, they can’t work anymore! Now they are looking to sue you for providing advice that not only didn’t help their business but also caused them to have an allergic reaction.”

A light of recognition flashed across his client’s face.

“Ah ha!”

Jimmy smiled and continued.

“If you have professional liability insurance, guess what?”

The client smiled knowingly.

“I get protected from the green Skittles!”

Jimmy nodded. “You get protected from business advice you share that doesn’t work for your clients.”

As they talked, Jimmy thought to himself, “He gets it!” It was a great feeling.

And it is a feeling that Jimmy, Chris, and Tracie experience frequently when assisting clients at RBI services. The RBI Services team works together to answer questions for the entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small business owners every day. With their years of experience, Jimmy and the RBI team know the insurance coverage people need. They recommend the insurance their clients need to be fully protected and will never try and sell you an unnecessary coverage. As Jimmy always, say, “We will find you the proper coverage at the best price.”

If you have any doubts or concerns about the insurance you and your business need, but feel unsure, Jimmy and the team are ready to put your mind at ease. Ask them any questions.

Using the green Skittles story, Jimmy’s client gained insight about exactly how professional liability insurance can keep him from legal scrapes while still being able to share his knowledge and wisdom with his client base. And Jimmy helped the client obtain the professional liability insurance that best suited his needs. That’s pretty sweet!

The new Tax law for 2018 that will affect millions of Americans when the new filing season comes around. Many individuals love to use home ownership as an extra way to save money on their taxes. After all, this is a major incentive for people to purchase homes in the first place, to save money.  These changes are being brought about by longstanding provisions from direct and indirect tweaks that have allowed individuals to deduct home-mortgage interest on Schedule A.

With these new changes in place, the 32 million tax filers who received a write off on their home will fall to approximately 14 million. Not only will this stop a tax break, this will cause a rift in savings. These new changes have begun to stir the question of what is the best thing to do with your home financially if you can’t pay it off? Many are beginning to advocate for paying off the mortgage as soon as possible. This mentality of paying off a mortgage can help compensate for the lack of a tax break, as well as rising mortgage interest costs. Many married couples will feel the blunt of this new law due to limitations on number of returns received, not person in a house hold. There is a cap on deducting more than $10,000 of state and local income or sales and property taxes (SALT). If a married couple is filing jointly, this is the limit they must stick to when filing. During the 2017 filing season, a couple only needed write off’s totaling over $12,700 to receive the benefits of listing deductions on Schedule A.

For 2018 couples will have to claim one $24,000, nearing doubling the amount from the previous year. These new limitations are causing stress and concern for individuals worrying about their taxes.

Contact us through www.rbisvcs.com to talk to us about this and other tax changes, so we can make sure your 2018 filing is as smooth as possible.

Names are important for any startup company! It was no different for RBI Services. When Jimmy and Chris first started brainstorming for the perfect name, it took a few tries to get the right one.

Relationships, they decided, had to be part of their name. Their slogan is “It all begins with the relationship” for a reason. Personal connections are huge for each member of the team both personally and professionally.

Give me an “R”!

Coverage is a huge part of what their company provides. Coverage for potential information technology issues, protection for businesses who aren’t sure about accounting issues, and of course insurance. So, the word “insurance” represents the coverage.

Give me an “I”!

And they wanted a name that showed that they mean business. Jimmy, Tracie, Jacob, and Chris not only care about their clients, they are all professionals with years of experience. The word “business” represents all of the services they provide and the proficiency that comes along with it.

Give me a “B”!

Well, Chris suggested that they go ahead and name their company according to the letters they put together.

Give me a R-I-B!

Jimmy laughed and said, “Two healthy-sized men naming a company RIB is not going to work! People will come to us looking for ribs and sauce!”

Back to the drawing board they went. They realized that they wanted a name that showed that they are a team. Jimmy brings the insurance, Chris covers accounting, Jacob tackles IT, and Tracie keeps the team straight. They work together much like a baseball team. Each member of the team has a different role but they all work together to hit as many professional home runs as they can.

And then RBI Services was named. In baseball, RBI stands for “Runs Batted In.” RBI Services – which stands for Relationship Business and Insurance Services – represents the way each member of the team goes to bat every day for their clients!

It all began one afternoon as Jimmy was leaving a meeting feeling frustrated. Driving across the James River Bridge, blasting Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” he screamed along with lead singer Robert Plant.

“AAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAH – AHHHHHHHH!”

What made Jimmy scream? Frustration with the way some traditional insurance companies treat their clients. In particular, he was frustrated with how nonprofit organizations weren’t receiving the coverage they needed.

Nonprofits are not traditionally attractive clients to insurance agencies. To be blunt, they are not usually sources of lots of profit for these agencies. Nonprofits by their nature are, well, not making profits! With their mission to bring funds to groups who need their assistance, nonprofits don’t generate a large margin for the insurance companies.

If you know Jimmy, you know he is incredibly passionate about nonprofit organizations. He’s an active chairman and board member of a number of nonprofits. He’s also a frequent “hub hopper” and a hub leader for Synapse, a Richmond-based networking group that meets with and supports nonprofit organizations. He had seen an organization about which he deeply cares paying for insurance for a building they no longer owned. Another organization thought they had crucial coverage for their nonprofit when he discovered they were not actually covered at all.

While angrily belting out Led Zep, Jimmy had a thought. What if I branched out on my own? His blood pressure dropped. And what if I collaborated with a couple of trusted friends and fellow professionals to bring the best coverage to these organizations? The vein throbbing on his temple slowed and a smile came across his face.

Jimmy turned an unpleasant experience into a fork in the road towards his destiny. Later you could hear him screaming a different song – “WOO HOO!”