Monthly Business Finance (You’ll Love Yourself at Tax Time!)

For most entrepreneurs, bookkeeping ranks up there with the absolute most dreaded tasks in the business. Unless of course, bookkeeping is your business- in which case, chances are you probably don’t need to read any further!

Love yourself at tax time

Last year at tax time, I found myself scrounging around, digging through piles and piles of papers to find one certain receipt. Hunting through emails, looking for that invoice. Hours and hours wasted. If only there was some super obvious way to avoid all this, right?!

Well, I’ve learned a lot since then. And guess what? Doing my taxes was MUCH easier this time around (and only in part because I hired an accountant to file them for me)!

Here are a few little things I’ve learned that have made life so much easier!

1- Invest in a filing cabinet, or at least a filing box. Personally, I use both.

2- Actually use the filing cabinet. I know some people prefer to use a software program or app for bookkeeping, but it’s important to back it all up in physical form too. You can be audited for years and may need too produce those documents, and what will happen if your phone or computer is long gone by then? So use digital if you like, but print and file too!

3- Have separate bank accounts. Using your personal account for your business is probably one of the biggest mistakes that people make in the world of small businesses!

4- Keep every receipt (that is relevant), every invoice, every document you think you may eventually need to refer to. Mine get collected into an envelope to sort later (usually weekly, but sometimes monthly during slower periods.

5- Pay roll. If you have employees, track their payroll monthly- you’ll thank yourself when it is time to issue T4’s/T4a’s!

6- Stay up to date on sales tax payments (whether they be monthly, quarterly, or yearly). Most provinces/states require you to collect sales tax, and it’s not something you want to fall behind on!

7- Keep a milelage log. A lot of planners come with them included, and if not, there’s tons of free printables to be found online.

8- Print everything. Your monthly bank statements, any invoices/receipts you receive digitally, contracts, etc. Print them, and then FILE THEM.

9- Keep an ongoing expense sheet, and add to it regularly. It’s easy to forget that printer ink you bought if you don’t log it right away!

10- Update your ledger, income/expense spreadsheet, or online software to calculate your monthly net profit- it’s hard to evaluate how you’re doing when you really don’t know what you’re doing!

Follow these tips on a regular basis, and I promise you will have the easiest tax season possible! Who knows? You might even grow to enjoy (or at least not dread) bookkeeping!

My Plan for a $200 Christmas

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Christmas really is my favourite time of year. The family time, the traditions, the decorations, the reason for the season, and the financial strain.

It’s true though, although it shouldn’t be. For most people, Christmas is EXPENSIVE. This year, I am making an effort to enjoy the season more by not letting it strap me financially.

I’ve always limited the gifts bought for my four children to:
-Something you want
-Something you need
-Something you wear
-Something you read

But my Christmas spending was still out of hand! With a large family, and four children, it was easy to get to that point without even realizing it!

This year though, it’s my goal to do every last bit of my Christmas shopping for $200. Even as I type that, I have some serious doubts of my own,  but I’m gonna make it happen!

Here’s the Plan:
*Swagbucks– If you stay on top of it, those points can add up very quickly and you can buy giftcards with the points (most of mine will be spent on Amazon, because it doesn’t matter what I want to buy, chances are Amazon has it.)
*Air Miles– Another points program that I use often, the rewards can be used to purchase items, or for store credits/discounts.
*PC Points– This points system is hooked up to my company debit card, as well as a separate rewards card. The points are for store credit at any PC grocery store (at Christmas time these stores stock toys as well as clothing, and they also carry a lot of item that can be used for stocking stuffers.
*Scene Points– Since Scotia Bank is my main bank, and they have a partnership with Cineplex, every time I use my debit card I earn points (this card adds up faster than any other!), I can use these points for free movie passes, restaurant gift cards, and gift cards for select stores.
*Shoppers Optimum– Another rewards program that adds up quickly! I buy most of my cosmetics, toiletries, and some of my groceries at Shoppers Drug Mart, so I accumulate quite a few points there.
*Crafting/Baking– I am a decently skilled crafter, so why not put those skills to work for Christmas as well? I have a few craft projects planned, as well as some upcycling. And there just so happens to be a couple of uncles on my shopping list that love nothing more at Christmas time than homemade chocolate bark!
*Shopping sales to make the most of the limited budget I have given myself.

In total, I have 23 people on my Christmas shopping list, so this is a pretty brave goal- but I’m feeling pretty confident about it!

What is your Christmas budget like? Any more ideas for me?

 

How I Started my Business with Less Than $200 (And you can too)

How I Started mybusiness for under

Want to start your own business? Of course you do!

But, you don’t have thousands to make that initial investment. Well, you’re out of luck- right? Nope!

My event coordination company now spans five provinces, and guess what? It was started with just under $200! And most of that went to legal fees and purchasing a website.

Of course there are some companies that would be very difficult to start without capital (franchises, things with expensive equipment needed from the get-go, etc), but if you are choosing the right business, and starting small, you can have a very successful business with little, or even no, start-up investment, especially in the service industry.

The five main points I want to hit here, things that I’ve learned from experience (I’m not going to say that they were good experiences..) are these:

1) Don’t quit your day job. Oh stop that groaning! Unless you’ve saved up 3-6 months worth of living expenses, it really is important to keep that income coming in. So, start small in your “off time”, and once you are getting busier and turning a profit, re-evaluate- it may not take long for your business to become viable enough to be your one and only!

2) Use the resources that you have. If it’s a freelance business, chances are you have a computer already. If it’s a catering company, you have a kitchen. Don’t try to get too big too fast, that’s probably one of the worst things you can do during the start-up phase. Don’t drown yourself in storefront/office space expenses that you can’t afford (yet) if you can make do with what you already have.

3) Look for new, free resources. You would be surprised at what you can find on “free” Facebook pages, kijiji, Craigslist, etc! If you need “quiet time” to work out of your home, try a local park or wifi enabled coffee shop. And don’t even get me started on all the free marketing available! (I think I feel another post coming on..)

4) Don’t go too big too fast. You don’t want overgrowth to kill your start-up! Stick with a steady growth, and you will be much more firmly established in the long run.

5) Use the money you do have wisely. Don’t buy every gadget that you *think* you need right off the bat. Instead, invest in items that are going to help you make money. A website, business cards, promo materials, etc are all solid and helpful investments into the growth of your business.

6) Yeah, I know I said 5.. But, this one is even more important, don’t get discouraged. In the early days it’s easy to get. down on yourself, to feel like you’re doomed before you even begin, but press on! It’ll be worth it, I promise!

Have you started your own business on a tight budget, or no budget at all? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

The Big List of Jobs You Can Do From Home

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Working at home is a dream for many, and a reality for a few. Luckily, I get to be one of those few! More and more people are working from home these days, and more and more companies are looking to hire people that do so, so you may be in luck!

This is by no means a comprehensive list, however I’ve done my best to hit all of the major legitimate opportunities that are out there.

Freelance- This can mean almost anything, really. If you have a skill, chances are somebody needs it. Personally, I’ve done Freelance writing and Freelance Social Media Management. However, you can do Freelance graphic deign, editing, bookkeeping, etc as well.

While you can find Freelance jobs on your own, sites like  are a great place to get started and get your foot in the door.

Virtual Assisting- Again, this is a fairly broad range to work with. Some Virtual Assistants work as a jack of all trades, while others specialize in things such as Reception, Emails, Etc. This is also something that you can seek out yourself, perhaps even locally or you can sign up for any of several online directories to help you find contracts. Some VAs work full-time for a particular company, while others take on more than one smaller contract.

Start A Business- You can start many great businesses from home, both things that you do virtually or where people actually come into your home to receive your product or service. For example, my event production company is (mostly) home based- although I do have to leave for events, of course. In home daycare, pet sitting, and hair salons are also popular work from home options where you actually service customers in your home.

Blogging- This one isn’t going to make you money overnight, but it can turn a great return in the long run. If you have advice to give or stories to tell, you can start a blog and if you can find them, there are probably many people out there who would love to read what you have to say!

Transcription- While there are some requirements to meet in terms of technology you have, and your typing speed and accuracy, this can be a great way to make a good income from home. www.speakwrite.com is a great place to start, if you live in Canada or the US.

Tutoring- This another one that can be done with a physical client, or you can sign up as an online tutor through sites like www.tutor.com

Call Center Work- A lot of call center companies hire work from home agents to lower their overhead. Places like flower shops, restaurants, road side assistance, etc. One great place to look for this type of work is www.contractworld.jobs

Direct Sales- There are hundreds to choose from, but if you are interested in the world of direct sales it is vital to choose something that you are passionate about. This option is suitable for someone who does not necessarily need a monthly guaranteed income, since they are for the most part commission based and they generally (although not always) require a start up fee.

Sell things- Two of the best avenues for doing this are eBay and Amazon (duh!). You can start with things that you already have, and build from there. Some people find suppliers and specialize in selling certain types of items (much like you would in a retail store), while others make money by shopping yard sales and second hand stores for items that they know will turn a profit. You can even make money selling other people’s stuff and charging a commission!

Sell things you make- If you are crafty at all, you can make it profitable by selling online, either through your own website or via a site like Etsy. You can also sign up for local tradeshows, markets, or craft fairs.

Translator- Obviously this one is only an option for those of you who fluently speak, understand, and write in more than one language.

Give lessons- Music lessons, cooking lessons, sewing lessons, even couponing lessons- if you have a skill that other people want, you can turn it into a profitable business!

Sales- A lot of companies hire home based sales representatives (like me!), generally they pay a commission and if the product or service is great, and you have an exceptional phone and email manner- you can make a great full or part time income doing so.

 

 

Easy (and Painless) Ways to Save Money

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Saving money can seem daunting at the best of times, and it can be, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The things I’m taking about for the sake of this post aren’t going to give you enough money to buy a house in a year, but it will add up to a noticeable amount over time.

#1- The first thing to do is call your providers for things like cell phones, internet, insurance, etc and see what can be done to lower your rates. If they are not willing to work with you, or even discuss it with you, it may be time to shop around!

#2- Check your interest rates. If you’ve had the same rate on an account for a few years, and the account is in good standing then you can ask to have your interest rate lowered.

#3- Ebates. There are a few great sites out there, that actually give you back money when you buy things that you would’ve purchased anyway!

#4- Rewards cards/accounts. Okay, these ones aren’t technically saving you money up front, but you can earn points and rewards that can save you money in the long run. For us, our Shoppers Optimum account is a big saver for us, and it seems to take no time to earn free products! Swagbucks is also a wonderful point earning tool, even if you aren’t interested in taking the surveys, if you shop online it is well worth signing up for an account and clicking through their site while shopping.

#5- After a loan is paid off, consider taking that amount and putting it into savings for the next few months. You’re used to not having that money anyway, so use it to your advantage.

#6- Take your coffee and pack your lunch. If one or both of you work outside the home, and you’re eating everyday, you could be potentially throwing away hundreds of dollars a month without even realizing it. Think of it this way, you buy a coffee in the morning ($2), and then grab lunch (we’ll conservatively say $5). It doesn’t seem like much at the time, but if you do that five days a week, it adds up to a whopping $1,820 per year! Purchase a good travel mug and a lunch bag, and save yourself thousands of dollars a year!

#7- Cook from scratch and eat at home. Now, I’m not saying to never eat out, but budget for it and get yourself out of the habit of eating out for convenience (hint, meal plan!).

#8- Don’t shop with anything smaller than $1. Put all of your change into a jar or piggy bank, and then count it out and take it to the bank every few months. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much it accumulates!

#9- Barter. You can barter for a lot of things in life, one of my favorites though is babysitting. Trade off babysitting with a friend that you know could also use it! The point on this one is to be creative, and don’t be afraid to ask!

#10- Buy Used. This can save you tons. I buy almost everything used- clothing, cars, books, household things- almost everything!

These are just my top ten, but there are so many more! If you have any great money saving ideas- please share!