Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Melanoma mortality accounted for $3.5 bi

Melanoma mortality accounted for $3.5 billion in lost productivity each year, with approximately $2.4 billion for men (average, $441,903 per man) and $1.2 billion for women (average, $401,046 per woman). Those who died from melanoma did so 20 years prematurely, compared with 17 years from other cancers, reported Donatus Ekwueme, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shop on your seat and not your feet!

My new motto is “shop on my feet and not my seat!”It is almost impossible to get any shopping done in an actual store these days. My girl’s patience and attention span lasts about 15 minutes before all craziness breaks loose! Faith almost always wants me to hold her. If we even venture in Target then I know I am doomed to torture in the toy aisle and coerced into a few games of hide and seek. The only place I can spend over 30 minutes shopping at is the grocery store. That is because their tantrums and minds are too busy being occupied with stolen fruit, lollipops and half eaten bags of goldfish crackers.  I can’t possibly become a 15 minute speed shopper so I have done what any smart Mom would do. Adapt. I have become an online shopper!

I absolutely love online shopping!! Now that the holidays are getting closer –I will most likely do 80% of my holiday shopping online. Plus online shopping offers my three favorite words; faster, cheaper, and better! There are just too many perks to take advantage of…

(Source: Ezine Articles)

Instant Gratification

Since we’re conditioned to want instant gratification in every aspect in our lives, we expect our purchases instantly, too. Instead of spending time traveling, looking for parking and finding the store you’d like to shop in before closing time, the internet is available at all times. You can shop at your convenience, any time, anywhere, no matter what.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Online shopping allows you to browse through endless possibilities, and even offers merchandise that’s unavailable in stores. If you’re searching for a niche product that may not be distributed locally, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on the internet. What’s even more useful is the ability to compare items, similar or not, online. You can search through multiple stores at the same time, comparing material quality, sizes and pricing simultaneously.

Moreover, the internet compiles results from thousands of resources, so you’re guaranteed a larger selection that’s more likely to have what you’re looking for. Consider what you pay for a shirt found only at your local mall. By searching for the same or similar shirt online, you may be able to purchase the shirt directly from its manufacturer or from an outlet-type store. The in-stock online sellers often have additional sizes, so you never have to scramble to find the last item in your size.

A Hassle-Free Experience

Shopping via the internet eliminates the need to sift through a store’s products with potential buys like pants, shirts, belts and shoes all slung over one arm. Online shopping also eliminates the catchy, yet irritating music, as well as the hundreds, if not thousands, of other like-minded individuals who seem to have decided to shop on the same day.

Customer Service, Guaranteed

Say ‘goodbye’ to the days when you stood in line waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for a store clerk to finally check out your items. Online shopping transactions occur instantly-saving you time to get your other errands done! Additionally, unlike a store, online shopping has friendly customer service representatives available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with locating, purchasing and shipping your merchandise.

Keeping Money in Your Pocket

Finding time to go shopping often requires cutting down in other areas of your life in order to get to the stores. And we all know that time equals money. With the rising costs of gas prices, it’s a no-brainer why online shopping is better. Not only do you have to pay for your items, you also have to pay to get there, twice. Your orders are shipped directly to your home or place for business, saving you time and money, without requiring you to leave your home. Many companies also offer great coupon codes too!

Recordkeeping and Deductions

As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.


Recordkeeping and Deductions
By Mary Byers
Author, Speaker Mary Byer’s created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof, to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, “I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!” I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement. If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at www.makingworkathomework.com.

The number one rule for moms who work at home is this: Do not mingle your personal and business finances. Open a separate checking account for your business. And, if necessary, secure a separate credit card so that you can keep your personal and business-related expenses separate. Deposit all of your income in the checking account. Pay all of your expenses out of the checking account. When you do, at the end of the year you’ll have an accurate record of income and expenses.

Check with your bank before your open your checking account. They may require proof that you’ve filed a “Doing Business As” form with your local or county government. Your banker may also be able to alert you to other regulations specific to your area.

I personally believe it’s essential to stay on top of your business’ finances on a monthly basis. Though it’s not my favorite chore, I use a simple software program to track income and spending. I can compare this year’s figures to last year’s to find out how I’m doing comparatively as well as monitor my year-to-date performance. There are many easy-to- use software programs on the market (such as Quicken and Quick Books) that make it possible for business owners to track and access their financial data.

In addition to inputting my financial data, I take time to organize my expense receipts each month. It takes less than a half hour to file them but doing so insure that my end-of-year tax preparation will run smoothly. Plus, I’ll have necessary proof if I’m ever audited.

Once your record keeping is in order, you should take the time to learn what’s allowable as an expense deduction for you as a self-employed individual. The more you deduct, the less your profit. The less your profit, the less you pay in taxes. The less you pay in taxes, the more you keep for yourself.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, “To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your field of business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate and helpful for your business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.”

The challenge in determining what’s deductible is that it differs based on your occupation. Day care providers can write off the cost of toys they buy for their charges and a computer game designer can deduct the cost of purchasing competing games for review and critique.

If you’re interested in learning more about deductible expenses, consider picking up a copy of June’s Walker’s Self-Employed Tax Solutions. It’s an excellent resource, as is June’s website at www.junewalkeronline.com. Her blog is worth subscribing to if you’re interested in learning how to keep more of what you make.

Of course, if you’re uncertain as to whether something is deductible, check with your personal tax advisor. And if you don’t have one, get one. I personally waited too long to do this and wish I would have done it sooner.

Here’s how to make the most of your deductions:
Know what’s deductible. Take the time to learn what’s deductible. You may be surprised by what you can write off. For example, authors and playwrights may deduct the cost of the plays and movies they see if they are doing so to better learn the craft of plot, story and character. If you conduct business on the way to or from your family vacation, you may be able to write off a portion of your travel expenses.

If in doubt, ask. This is where a tax reference book or good accountant comes in. While it may be easier not to ask, doing so may well cost you money that would be better placed in your retirement account or a child’s college fund.

Realize that small deductions add up. My bank is 5.6 miles away. With the current IRS standard mileage deduction of 50.5 cents per mile, every trip to the bank for a business related transaction results in a deduction of $2.83 (50.5 cents x 5.6 miles). Last year alone my mileage deduction totaled $1,971. (I record each trip in a mileage log in order to provide documentation for the IRS.) Remember, deductions decrease taxable income, and lower taxable income means paying less tax.

Keep your receipts. Develop a simple record keeping system that’s easy to use. You’ll need to keep your records for seven years after the relevant tax return is filed. (Though the receipts only need to be kept temporarily, you should keep your tax returns forever.)

If you need help developing a working system, get it. Though recordkeeping and taxes can be both tedious and boring, they represent an area in which solo-preneurs can make a huge difference in the bottom line. You owe it to yourself and your family to excel in this area. If you’re intimidated or uncertain in this regard, make a commitment to learn what you need to know–starting today.


As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.

Author, Speaker Mary Byer’s created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof, to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, “I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!” I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement.

If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.

Work-at-Home Childcare Strategies

(From Making Work at Home Work)

I wrote part of my first book with a toddler on my lap and some of my second with a child standing behind me on my office chair running his fingers through my hair. I’ve packed for overnight trips only to come out of the bathroom and find that while I was in the bathroom, my son unpacked my bag for me. I’ve shown up for client meetings with childish scribbles defacing my meeting notes. And I once bribed my kids with raisins and a later trip to McDonald’s so they’d sit quietly during a meeting when a sitter canceled at the last minute.

Despite the stress, I wouldn’t change a thing. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d be more deliberate about planning for childcare rather than assuming I could easily juggle a business with my mothering duties. As you consider the child care issue, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Give yourself permission to arrange for child care in addition to your presence at home. Many work-at-home moms have trouble with this simply because they are home precisely so they can be available to their children. Some believe it defeats the purpose if they utilize outside child care resources. But working from home without any child care makes your job as an at-home CEO more difficult. Figure out how much and what type of care you are comfortable with, then stay within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. It is possible to be fully at home and effectively utilize additional child care. The two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Be flexible. What works for one season in your family’s life may not work indefinitely. Trust your instincts about what’s working and what’s not, and pay attention to what your children say about the caregivers you’re dependent on. Be responsive to what they reveal, and consider your needs as well as theirs. It’s possible to find something that works for everyone, though it may take perseverance to do so.
  • Be creative. I love the idea of paying my kids to keep themselves busy while I work. (They love it too!) I wouldn’t have thought of this on my own, but I’m inspired by the mom who shared the idea with me, and I’m actively looking for other creative possibilities. This idea reminds me to be willing to explore new options as my child care needs continue to evolve.
  • Have the courage to do what’s best for your family. Because you and I are different and our needs and circumstances are not the same, our solution to the child care issue should also be different. That’s okay. Too often we look at what other women are doing and adopt the same solutions for ourselves without considering that our values, resources, and experiences are not the same. Your strategy needs to take into account your family’s situation and any unique circumstances that influence what’s right for you.
  • Seek support. Because the parental pact is so important, be sure your husband is comfortable with what you are doing. Even if he’s not interested in helping you decide what’s best or interviewing potential sitters, keep him informed. This keeps things running smoothly and lends itself to family harmony.
  • If financial resources are tight, trade child care services. Find another mom who works from home with whom you are comfortable exchanging babysitting services and develop an exchange agreement that allows you to regularly watch each other’s kids. Make sure you find someone who’s reliable so you can count on the regular work time this option provides. While spousal support is important, teaming with other work-at-home moms is valuable, too.
  • Reevaluate your needs occasionally. As your business evolves, your child care needs will likely change, too. More work may necessitate more child care. A business that’s seasonal may require periods of outside child care followed by periods of no assistance at all. As children age, they will be more able to look after themselves, perhaps eliminating your need altogether.

When my children were preschool age, I evaluated my needs on a day-to-day basis. It was stressful to have this issue continually hanging over my head. As I’ve entered a new season of mothering (the school season!) I’m now able to identify my needs on a monthly basis, which causes far less anxiety. If you’re in an early season of mothering, hang on! The child care puzzle gets easier to piece together as your children mature.

Work-at-home moms tell me that child care is one of their most pressing concerns. If it stresses you too, know you are not alone. Give yourself permission to proactively address this issue in a way that works for your family. When you do, you’ll be more likely to be a satisfied and effective at-home CEO.

Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at www.makingworkathomework.com.

Planning and Budgeting a Family Summer Vacation

Planning and budgeting are definitely the keywords to having a successful family summer vacation. During times when money has been tight it can be hard to wrap my mind around actually being able to take a vacation. We are lucky enough to have family to visit that live a few steps away from the beach…and to actually live close to the beach ourselves.

Taking drives up the coast and stopping anywhere that we want to explore a new beach or just drive has been the closest thing to a vacation that we have had lately. Our last trip up the coast was to Santa Barbara which is one of the towns that Brett and I just adore! It is so beautiful and relaxing. Even if we don’t stay the night–a day trip is all the fix we need to make us feel like we “got away.”

I remember as a child we would take road trips to destinations thousands of miles away. We took a plane maybe once or twice–it was always by car. As a child I never thought about the planning and the saving that my parents had to do in order for us to have a great summer vacation.

Since budgeting and planning are both one of my weaknesses I decided to search for some ways to learn how to budget for a vacation (in case we get to take one!). What I found was an excellent article that covers everything you need to know about vacation budgeting. My family and I have sacrificed a lot and we deserve to take a vacation. Vacations are times to rejuvenate, relax and enjoy each other without the distractions of every day life.

It all starts with deciding what you really want and planning for savings…

What I really want is at least three days where my family and I can enjoy each other. My ideal vacation would be camping in a lodge near a lake. For my in-laws 40th anniversary we stayed at Cypress Springs Lake in Texas and I loved it! The planning part should be done at least 6-8 months in advance. We probable wouldn’t need to worry about plane tickets because we live driving distance away from national parks.

I found this helpful planning chart on a credit counseling site. It covers all the expenses of a great family vacation; transportation, lodging, food, and activities. This was a perfect find because I need things laid out in an orderly way.

The most important thing about taking a family vacation is not going into debt over it or slacking on other monetary responsibilities in order to travel. It was really interesting that I found this information on a credit counseling website because I have actually used credit counseling before, but never thought about using them for tips on planning a vacation. It makes sense though because when you are free of debt it makes it a whole lot easier to budget and plan with a clear mind.

Hopefully, my family and I will be able to take a vacation really soon. But for now we will just enjoy the amazingly free beaches that we are blessed to live near. Take our walks through the wildlife preserve and continue to take our drives up (or down) the coast.

I would love to hear some of the ways that you save money or plan for a family vacation that doesn’t “break the bank”!

Kalisha

I Want One!

Mommies Angels reviewed and is giving away a really cool Flip Ultra!!! The giveaway ends July 3rd! Here is what Mommies Angels had to say:

The Flip Video Ultra will capture 120 minutes of full-VGA-quality video on 4GB of built-in memory – there are no tapes of memory cards required. I love how easy it is to upload the videos to the computer to share with family and friends and burn to DVD too!