Healthcare

What if You Just Don’t Feel Like It?

Ever have one of those days? It’s a struggle to get out of bed, and once you do you feel like you are walking around with weighted boots on your feet? What’s the solution to this common problem aside from going back to bed? Because your energy levels and health have a significant impact on your productivity and the ability to achieve successful results, here are a few tips to overcome sluggishness when it comes about.

Just start: Even though you don’t feel like getting out of bed, starting a project, or exercising, you must resist the temptation to give in to these feelings. All you need to do is get past that initial resistance and just start doing. Once you are out of bed, you just won the first battle against sluggishness. Did you ever notice that after you start something then you end up continuing the task and finishing?

Routine and daily scheduling: The more you schedule important tasks the more you will eliminate the thought process of what to do. For example, if you wake up at 6 AM every morning to go for a run then it will be easier and easier to do as this becomes a habit. Also, if you schedule tasks on your calendar then it creates a sense of importance and things get done.

Avoid sluggishness: The best way to overcome sluggishness is to avoid it in the first place. Take a look at your life, including habits, routines, schedule, diet and anything that impacts your energy levels. Years ago, I dramatically cut sugar out of my diet by reducing the amount of sugary beverages I drank and my energy levels skyrocketed. I do miss drinking sweetened iced-tea and soda, but I sure don’t miss the drain on my energy.

Look around you and take notice of the energy levels of people around you. Generally those with higher energy levels are more productive and quite possibly more positive to be around.

Don’t Worry if the Timing is Not Right to Conquer the World

Ever feel frustrated that your business or your career isn’t going as well as it should? I’m sure that most people feel like this from time to time, but sometimes there are valid reasons for this. Not excuses, as the “success” coaches may call them, but as human beings we have many moving parts to our lives. Some reasons for not being able to conquer the world right now and what to do include the following:

Health Issues (Physical & Mental): They may come at any time and can be minor, permanent, or severe. Health issues can put you out of work for months or even years. The main objective should be to focus on getting your health back so that you can take care of yourself and your family. Next, you should look into how future health problems may be prevented, if possible. You may also find that you have to attend to family members that get sick, such as spouses, children, and aging parents. First things first.

Raising Children: Raising children is not an easy task and many parents feel the tug between working and taking care of their children, especially mothers. This is especially true when both parents work, which is the majority of parents nowadays. I’ve written about the trap when both parents work full-time as the financial benefit is not usually as great as it seems when factoring in taxes, additional expenses, etc. Some options to help juggle responsibilities are to change your work schedule, have a flexible schedule, or work part-time, especially during school hours.

Addictions: Addictions can be in the form of alcohol, drugs, pornography, and gambling to name the major ones. No one likes to talk about this because of the stigma of addictions, but these will have a devastating impact of your business or career, even if you are indirectly impacted by addictions, such as with a child or spouse. Healing and overcoming addictions needs to take place.

Family Issues: Divorce or separation is a common family issue and may go hand in hand with the other examples above. Marriage struggles, especially divorce, will not only impact you and your children emotionally and spiritually, they tend to destroy family finances. Who care if they are successful if their family is torn apart? Marriage therapy, family therapy, or spiritual guidance from a priest or minister can help to save your marriage. Also, all kidding aside, they are much less expensive then a divorce attorney.

We are not machines, but people that have problems, emotions, and are all fighting our own battles. Some battles are greater than others, but we must build a solid foundation before conquering the world.

If You Want More Success Then Know the Difference Between Important vs Urgent

Important vs. urgent. Many people confuse the two, but if you want to be more successful, then you need to be able to discern between them. Important items have great significance or value while urgent items require our attention immediately. Here are some examples:

Important:  These are items that you need to do, but do not have to be done today, such as projects and assignments, planning, exercising, learning/training, saving for the future, etc.

Urgent: These usually have to do with grabbing your attention immediately, such as text messages, social media, doing dishes (our spouses may disagree with this one), interruptions, emails, most telephone calls, etc.

The problem arises when the urgent items seem to be important because they are pulling at us, and then we ignore all of the important items that we should have done. This is probably why many people say that they didn’t get anything done because their attention was diverted to urgent items. Even worse is when we procrastinate and make the important items both important and urgent.

What are some solutions? If an item is important, then you should set aside time either daily, weekly, or monthly to take care of it and actually put it on your calendar. Once an important item is scheduled there is a high probability it will get done. As for the urgent items, you can schedule these as well to take care of them at specified times or on a specific day. If you want to be bold then try this experiment for one week or even one month: shut off all of your alerts, emails, etc. while you are working, and designate a time to check them, say twice a day. Then, see if your productivity improves, and let me know what happens.

Do You Have Too Many Customers?

What do you think is better, 100 customers or 200 customers? It might actually be the lower number, and I’ll explain why.

Let’s say that a small business provides landscaping and maintenance services for both businesses and for residential customers. Most of the customers are within a reasonable driving distance from the main office, and the total amount of customers they have is 200 (50 businesses and 150 residential customers). In order to serve their customers the business has 10 employees and several business vehicles.

After reviewing the amount of services provided to each customer, the owner realizes that it is either unprofitable or only slightly profitable to service a small residential customer, especially if they are more than 15 miles away.

Furthermore, the owner realizes that if an employee performs work for a business customer it tends to be much more profitable because only several are being serviced in one day for a total of eight hours of service performed. For residential customers, only four hours of service is performed after factoring in travel time, plus there are additional costs of travel. Also, the work for business customers tends to be steadier and provides overall higher revenue.

What is one possible solution? The owner may decide that it makes sense to only service business customers. By decreasing the number of customers from 200 to 100, it means that 50 more business customers were acquired, while discontinuing service to 150 residential customers. If each business customer usually receives $5,000 of services per year while each residential customer receives only $1,000, then revenues will actually increase by 25%, while actually decreasing costs.

All you have to do is substitute the type of business with your own, such as computer consulting, printing, medical practices, all types of contractors, and you will get the same results. I believe that serving too many customers even leads business owners to feel that they are busy all of the time without having anything to show for it.

Smart Ways to Cut Your Expenses

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A previous article was titled, “Don’t Cut Your Expenses,” and this time I am going to give examples of cutting expenses in a smart way.

Personal Expenses: With mortgage rates at record lows, now may be a good time to refinance your existing mortgage. You need to compare the savings with any upfront costs. If you can cut the length of the mortgage, this is the better way to go.

Delay major purchases, such as a new car or gigantic television. A car payment, along with insurance, gas, and maintenance can become a large percentage of a person’s income. If you can delay the purchase, you can save each month towards a larger down payment. The same applies to a TV, which should be paid for without having to use credit.

Business Expenses: Generally, if an expense can be reduced, without reducing quality or other necessary benefits, then it is worth investigating further. A perfect example is that you may be able to get a better deal by switching phone or Internet providers and save money.

Review insurance policies, such as health and liability coverage with your agent or broker. You want to make sure that you are receiving the coverage that you need with a good rate. As a caveat, make certain that you have the proper amounts and types of insurance so that you are covered adequately.

There are other advanced ways to save money and sometimes they even require upfront investments. This can include investments in technology, managing employees better, and even tax planning.

Bad Tax Planning

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Tax planning can prevent you from overpaying taxes, but it has to be done before the year is over. Good tax planning takes a proactive approach, and bad tax planning includes either not planning, breaking the law, or taking it upon yourself without using a competent tax professional.

Without planning you may not be able to take advantage of the ever-changing tax laws. When we work with business clients throughout the year we are able to understand their business finances much better. By doing so we can suggest proactive ways to reduce taxes, run their businesses better, and help with cash flow and profitability. For example, if your business is doing well, it makes sense to review the current structure to make sure that it is tax-efficient. Our services are designed to save much more in taxes and produce more value than our fees.

A bad strategy is to pay for personal expenses through the business and take a deduction for it. Personal expenses should be kept separate and paid for personally. An IRS auditor can easily spot this, assess more taxes, and even assess penalties of 20% or more.  And of course, underreporting your income is not wise either and may result in criminal prosecution.

I know what I know and know what I don’t know. I use other qualified professionals when it comes to legal matters, insurance, and healthcare. If you take it upon yourself to do your own tax planning, you usually end up unknowingly paying more in taxes than the cost of using a professional. The key is to make certain that you choose the right professional and ask a lot of questions.

Taxable or Non-Taxable?

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Which items do you think are taxable and which are not? The answers are below.

  1. Workers compensation
  2. Educational assistance
  3. Cancelled debt
  4. Expense reimbursements
  5. Fringe benefits
  6. Bartering
  7. Hosting a party and receiving payment (such as a candle party)
  8. Life insurance proceeds
  9. Unemployment benefits
  10. Federal income tax refund

Taxable: cancelled debt (there are exceptions), fringe benefits, bartering, hosting a party, and unemployment benefits

Non-taxable: Workers compensation, education assistance of $5,250, expense reimbursements, life insurance proceeds, and federal income tax refund

There are always exceptions and the rules are constantly changing. If you ever have a question about the taxability of an item, do not hesitate to contact our office.

FSA Plan = Money Saved

What exactly is an FSA plan and how can it save you money? FSA stands for flexible spending account, which is a special account that is used to pay for medical expenses on a pretax basis. In other words, the money put towards the plan is not subject to income taxes and social security/medicare taxes.

An FSA plan must be set-up by your employer for the benefit of its employees. For this reason, sole proprietors, partners, and S-corporation owners are not eligible to participate. Each year you need to decide how much money you want to put towards the FSA plan, which will then be deducted equally from each paycheck. For example, if you decide to put aside $1,200 and you get paid twice each month, then $50 will be deducted from your paycheck. For a person in the highest tax bracket the tax savings would be over $500 each year! The maximum amount that can currently be contributed is $2,550.

There are of course some drawbacks to an FSA plan from both an employee and employer perspective. First, if you don’t use the full amount that you elected to set aside by the end of the year, then you will forfeit the money to your employer. The best way around this is to set aside the absolute minimum that you project you will need for medical expenses. Additionally, even if you come up a little short, the tax savings may still be much greater than the shortfall.

The drawback to the employer is the extra cost of for administration of the plan, although it is offset partially by the social security/medicare tax savings. Another point is that if an employee leaves during the beginning of the year and has already spent their maximum, you cannot ask the employee to repay you back. This is why you want to set the threshold to a reasonable level so you lower your risk.

We all seem to be paying more and more for healthcare, but the FSA plan is one way to help lower our costs by lowering our taxes. Regardless of what the current administration elects to implement regarding healthcare, an FSA plan should still remain a viable way to help us out.