5 Black Friday Mistakes I Made in the Past

Today is Black Friday and there are sales on virtually everything. It can be both a fun and stressful experience, and there are some mistakes I made in the past:

  1. Allowing myself to be convinced to wake up at 5:30 AM or was it 4:30 AM?. Waking up early does not bring out my “best” self.
  2. Not having a plan of which items to purchase or at least having a budget. This relates to shopping the old-fashioned way and online.
  3. Almost getting into a physical confrontation with someone 3 times my size because he thought that I cut in line. I like challenges.
  4. Not enjoying the experience, especially if it wasn’t your idea. Don’t fight over parking spots, run or walk quickly, complain, cut in line, be rude, or put on a frown.
  5. Remember these mistakes for next year!

 

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Are You Ready to Complete Your PPP Loan Forgiveness Application?

Did 24 weeks pass after you received your PPP funds? If so, then now is the time to complete your PPP loan forgiveness application. Here are a few tips from the SBA:

  1. There are several different forms to use, including SBA Form 3508, SBA Form 3508EZ, SBA Form 3508S, or a lender equivalent. To quickly determine which form you should use, take a look if you meet the main criteria for each.
    1. SBA Form 3508EZ is generally for sole proprietors without any employees
    2. SBA Form 3508S is generally used if your loan was $50,000 or less
    3. SBA Form 3508 is used if you do not meet the criteria to use the other forms
  2. Information you may/will need:
    1. Bank statements
    2. Payroll service provider reports
    3. Payroll tax filings filed during the covered period
    4. Payment receipts or cancelled checks to document health insurance, retirement plan expenses, mortgage payments, rent payments, and utility payments
    5. Copies of lender account statements, lease agreements, and invoices
  3. Submit the forgiveness application, along with supporting documentation
  4. Follow-up with your lender. I’m not really sure how long it will take, but I assume that it depends upon your lender, application volume, form used, how you prepared the application, and the amount of the loan.

If you need help completing your application, then let me know.

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15 Minutes to Success

I was going to call this article the 15 minute rule, but then I realized there was a book by the same title, which I have not read. Can 15 minutes make a difference to your success? Here’s my view of how it can:

It Gets You Started

Almost everything takes longer than 15 minutes to accomplish, which is the plain truth. However, if you say that you will spend just 15 minutes on a task, it helps you to get started rather than always putting off the important. Can you imagine all of the tasks that would help out your finances if you eventually started working on them? This is why there are such similarities between money and health. Commit small amounts of time and you will see drastic results over a long period of time. Ignore both and you will see dismal results over a long period of time.

You Can Get Something Done

Although 15 minutes is a short amount of time, you are usually pleasantly surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time. This is especially true if you commit 15 minutes over and over again. Before you know it, you are working your way towards accomplishment.

It Beats the Procrastination Drag

No one feels good when they procrastinate. Once a task gets started it will give you an emotional boost to continue and the procrastination bug will disappear.

Give a shot and see what you can accomplish in 15 minutes. You may end up writing a blog article!

 

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Productive People Focus on This One Time Management Technique

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of books on time management. Technically, you cannot really “manage” time, but you can control how you spend your time. Here is a technique that seems to trump most of the time management tips, but you must first be able to identify how and when to use it.

Focus on Important, but not Urgent Items

If you focus on this one technique, then your productivity will increase substantially. The problem is that it is easy to let important, but not urgent items slip away. Usually these important items have this in common:

  1. They take more time to complete than many of your other tasks
  2. They require more time, energy, and focus
  3. If you do not do them today, tomorrow, or even next week, then your current situation will probably not be impacted

Examples include:

  1. Projects that are not due in the near future
  2. Actions that have a cumulative effect, for example, marketing tasks for your business or personal actions such as exercising and eating better
  3. Developing and maintaining relationships with people

Take a look at all of the tasks that you are constantly putting off and this is where you should begin to implement changes. A common enemy that fights against the important are low value, urgent activities. Think of important, not urgent items as drinking a protein shake vs. drinking a can of soda.

 

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4 Business Ideas During These Times

What are some business ideas that you can implement and that should thrive during these times and in the future? Here are 4 to choose from:

Marketing Services

This includes web design, social media marketing, and developing content for your customers. The online marketing trend should continue and there will be a demand for this service to be outsourced.

Pest Control

With people spending more time at home they will notice more of the creepy crawlies around the house. If you’re spending more time inside your home then you are probably making more of a mess with food and inviting opportunities for pests.

Virtual Services

Although this is a huge market, there is a growing trend for services to be delivered online. Examples include: training videos, consulting services, and learning about various topics from personal to business knowledge.

Online Product Sales

Unfortunately, most online sellers do not do this one correctly and would be better off getting a minimum wage job. However, if you focus on a niche product or line of products that you can easily manage and that have a large enough profit margin, then you can do very well. Options include selling directly though your website or through online marketplaces like Amazon.

 

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Business Time or Family Time?

A common struggle is balancing spending time on your business to make more money and a focus on your family. Should you sacrifice your family time to make more money?

There will be times in your life when you need to spend more time on your business due to reasons such as seasonality of the business, growing the business, starting up a new business, and fixing problems. This is normal and probably will not create long-term problems unless taken to the extreme. Extreme examples include: working 7 days a week/12 hours a day, working away from home for long stretches of time, and always coming home with no energy left over for your family. The threshold will be different for every family depending upon dynamics and the length of time away, but a general rule is the more time away from your family, the easier it will be to invite problems into your home.

A good approach is a balanced approach. By taking this approach you set limits and boundaries on time spent on your business. While you can still grow your business, you may end up with slower growth due to less time being spent on it. However, if you work smarter, then you may actually do better by spending your time even more productively and only pursuing opportunities that provide the highest return per time spent. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it to!

Figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your business growth and make sure this is in line with what matters most to you.

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Do You Want a Free Credit Report?

Anytime you hear the word “Free” there is usually a catch and the free item isn’t really free. Surprisingly, you can receive a free credit report by doing this:

Type annualcreditreport.com into your browser, click on “Request your free credit reports,” and start the process. It will take you less than 10 minutes and it is completely free. Federal law requires each of the three consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Technically, you can receive 3 each year if you obtain one from a different credit reporting company every 4 months.

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Don’t Do This

There is one financial transaction that I strongly discourage clients from doing and here’s why . . .

Do not withdraw from your retirement accounts early! Here are the reasons why I hear most people want to withdraw from their retirement accounts:

  1. Purchase a house
  2. Pay for expenses while unemployed
  3. As a temporary loan, with the intentions of replacing the money
  4. To pay for unforeseen expenses
  5. You need the money for (fill in the blanks)

The main reason to not do this is because it is one of the major reasons for tax problems. Aside from early withdrawal penalties, additional income taxes are accessed  on the balance, withholdings are not usually taken or not enough, and you may end up increasing your income, which sometimes pushes you into an even higher tax bracket. Once you add up all of the penalties and taxes, then the amount withdrawn can disappear by half for some.

What are some other options as you are most likely withdrawing your retirement funds because you desperately need the money and do not have a cash cushion? If you are employed, you may be able to obtain a retirement plan loan from your employer, which is not a taxable event. Alternatively, you might be able to borrow the money from your home’s equity. In some cases, you may be able to delay what you need the money for if not needed for emergency purposes.

Over the long-term, this is why I stress slowly building up a cash emergency fund. Yes, it’s boring and unexciting, but you will be glad you did when the time comes.

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I Was Scammed

Even the smart professional gets scammed every now and then. I’m supposed to be impervious to anything related to parting with money foolishly. How humbling . . .

Fortunately, I didn’t fall for a huge scam, but I fell for it nonetheless. How did this happen? The scam penetrated my ultimate weakness; not thinking clearly when sleep deprived. Here’s the story:

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep right away. By the way, I heard that if this happens it’s best to just get out of bed for a little while instead of lying there sleepless or using your phone. Eventually, I picked up my phone, and started to watch YouTube videos. In the middle of a video appeared an infomercial about a special fan that cools air quickly with the use of water and some sort of advanced technology. It was probably a warm night because I purchased the fan thinking that it may come in handy, especially if making pizza in a hot oven during the summer. If the fan can cool down a factory that melts steel, then it can certainly cool down my kitchen.

Fast forward a few weeks, and fortunately only $90 later after shipping and handling, arrived this magical air cooling fan. I read the directions, added some water, plugged it in, and laughed at myself for being so stupid. The fan was so weak that you couldn’t even feel it unless you were within a foot or two away from the breeze. Nothing was really cooled except for my pride.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a lot of money, but I did learn two lessons. First, anyone can get scammed under the right circumstances, and two, don’t watch YouTube videos at night, especially when you’re tired.

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Are You Striving Too Hard or Too Little?

There is nothing wrong with striving to have financial success but be careful of taking it too far. The opposite can also be true, whereas you don’t strive enough, which can create another set of problems. Here are some signs of each:

Signs You are Striving too Hard

  1. You work an excessive amount of hours to get ahead at the peril of your own health and relationships
  2. No matter what you accomplish it never seems to be enough
  3. Most of your conversations involve making more money. However, this doesn’t apply to financial professionals.
  4. Your drive is not enjoyable anymore

Signs You are Striving too Little

  1. You are always behind financially due to a lack of effort
  2. When business is down, aside from a worldwide pandemic, you do nothing to turn it around
  3. Your efforts are not producing any real financial success
  4. You take little to no corrective actions to get ahead

The Right Balance

The right balance may be as simple as striving for success, while putting financial success in its proper place. It’s different for everyone and if you are honest with yourself you will know when you are striving in an unhealthy way or not striving enough.

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