A Single Mom Entrepreneur

Those that don’t know me or what my daily routine looks like tell me I make life look easy. Those that do know me well tell me they don’t know how I do it. The truth is, life is hard. It is both harder and easier when you’re an entrepreneur.

As I make that statement, I struggle to figure out where my professional life and personal life begin and end. You see, I am a mom of a very active (not so little anymore) boy. When he’s at karate, I’m writing, reviewing, reading, and returning emails….if I’m not on a Skype meeting. I stop when he calls out, “Mom, look!” and make sure that he knows I’m watching and am proud of his accomplishments. I’m reading and answering emails/text messages up until soccer practice starts and it’s time to coach. I meet people and make appointments at the BMX track. Between all of this, we have school, homework, food to cook, a house to clean, volunteer in our community, and enjoy scheduled down/quality time. This only works because my son not only attends some appointments with me (thus teaching him many social expectations early on), but knows all of my clients, their offices, and what they do.

You see, there were two very distinct decisions I made when I decided I would become an entrepreneur.

1. The lifestyle of an entrepreneur is the lifestyle that is right for us. The flexible schedule, the income potential, and all of the crazy commitments and obligations that are both planned and pop up out of nowhere.

2. My son would always be first in my life. Always. Trust me, this hasn’t been easy.

In order to make these two decisions work, my boy has become immersed very early into everything it means to be an entrepreneur. He understands what profit is and how to calculate it, the amount of effort it takes at times to earn money, the value of saving, and what a budget is and what it means to live on one. He also understands that in order for us to continue to live our lifestyle and improve upon it, we have to make certain choices and stick to them.

The result of sticking through making these decisions in our lives have been amazing, even to me. You see, my son is seven. He started his first business at school at the age of five. And he now knows more about how to be financially successful in life than I did by the time I graduated high school. We live in a nice house with amazing neighbors, he attends a good school, and, most importantly to him, we get to go on vacations. Because, as we say in our house, you only get to play as hard as you work.

The Benefits of a Flood Day

It is raining today. Storming. The rain is so bad that grass everywhere is flooded. You get soaked even if you do have an umbrella because the rain is blowing sideways. Apparently there is a tornado in San Marcos right now.

Schools, however, are packed. A few private ones started at 10:00 am, but all public schools started right on time. People asked if we should cancel meetings and our manager’s meeting was cancelled. But a surprising number of Austinites were still on the road, making it into the office by 9:00.

You know what? Today was a FABULOUS day.

Kindness shows up when in times of disorder. Once I braved leaving my car, I was escorted into our office building by a gentleman holding an umbrella. Wow! He walked me all the way to the door. He clearly was watching out for people coming in and escorting them in. As the rain was blowing sideways, he had gotten wet in the process. But he didn’t stop. That made my heart sing.

Office relationships still matter. As I got off the elevator and walked into our lobby, there stood the men of our office, talking and listening to a walkie-talkie with the latest weather news. They asked about my trip and made sure I was ok. Yes, it is 2015, and there was some checking email and texts on a variety of devices, but we were together and sharing.

Later, some of them were gathered around the TV, listening to the news. I haven’t seen that in years! It made me remininse of the old ‘water cooler’ days, when people would meet in the kitchen or water area of an office and catch up. Those few minutes of humanness and connection refreshed us and gave us the umph to take on the next few hours.

We’ve lost some of that in our work-from-home, communicate via email, text and Facebook. It was nice to experience it again. Even once everyone migrated to their individual offices, someone would inevitably come back and check in.

Places like Orange Co-working in South Austin recognize the value of collaboration, even for a few minutes a day. Shelly Delayne, creator and owner of Orange, indulges our need to be around “Nice Humans” by providing an innovative environment, a huge free parking lot, crazy-fast WiFi and more. Seriously crazy-fast. In fact, Orange has been known shut down corporate networks by having software engines send so much so fast.

It is a great opportunity to reduce the pile of paperwork that won’t leave your desk. You know what I’m talking about. You had every intention of converting those notes into search-able documents or putting them in the right files, but the next meeting came along then the next deadline, and now there is a pile of who-knows-what from who-knows when.

Today I can wade through that pile as fast or slow as I want to, reminisce about the insight I had at the time I wrote those notes, and not have one ounce of guilt. In fact, I might feel like I actually accomplished something while refilling my motivation bucket!

You remember what’s important. Connecting with the people around you, helping people around you and taking care of the little things – these are all good things that we may not do often enough.

Many lost ‘things’ today. Material possessions were damaged or destroyed. A few people were injured. After times like this, people grieve for a short time over losing their things, but are grateful for the health and togetherness of their loved ones. This is a time when people take the time to show their feelings, recall stories of shared experiences, and remember what they really wanted out of life. I think that is awesome. People rarely remember the many items they got for Christmas in any given year, but do they recall the trip they took or when the dog ate the turkey on the table. Experiences matter. Days like today give us a chance to remember that.

What is important to you? What experiences are on your to-do list?  What ONE thing can you do today to move towards actually experiencing them?

I encourage you: don’t wait for a flood day to experience the benefits of one. Take action today!

Welcome to Money University!

So, let’s get to know each other!  I want YOU to win in life.  So do YOU!  This makes us instant friends as far as I am concerned.  This thing called money, however, doesn’t have a clear set of instructions that most of us can read. And as your friend, I feel obliged to share with you directly the 34 years of experience I have enjoyed helping people sort out the financial facts from the financial fiction.

Fair enough?

The idea of the Money University blog is to keep you in the loop with ideas that can make your financial life go a little smoother.  Here, I will introduce you to industry experts that have been properly evaluated BEFORE we share their message with our trusted friends and readers.  You will learn more about saving, planning, retirement, debt reduction, and other related items.

Let’s get started.  This is important.  Take your money life seriously so that at some point in life, you won’t have to worry about “what might have been”, or “I wish I had…”.

So, Let’s Take A Quick Test!

We Call It The Vomit Test:

  1. How many years have you worked? ________ years
  2. What was your average annual family income? $ ________
  3. Multiply Years x Income to get Lifetime Income. (The amount of money you have made in your lifetime!) $ ________
  4. How much of that number do you have left in cash assets? (Don’t count home equity just yet) $ ________

Does your number make you want to vomit?

Stay tuned here at Money University Blog as we uncover some of the realities of life!  We want you to win and win big!  Thank you for enjoying our inaugural blog and we hope you will enjoy our team of experts as we navigate the oceans of opportunity in front of us all!

Entrepreneurial Bookkeeping

So, you want to open your own business? Great! Already have a small business started? Kudos to you for chasing the American dream, my friend. However, if you’re not careful in how you account for your money, you could end up in some serious hot water. Luckily, there is a very effective way to make this simple and efficient.

The first step: open a business account separate from your bank account. Don’t have any business income yet? Loan your business the minimum amount you need to make this happen. Then, when you start making a profit, you can pay your self back. Anytime you make a business purchase, use the business card. This not only makes sure that you know exactly how much you’ve spent on your business, but also makes the bookkeeping much easier. We’ll get to that in a bit. (Bonus, you’ll be able to show a distinct separation in the event of an audit!) Of course, this will only work if you also make sure to use your personal card for all of your personal purchases.

Once you’ve opened your business account, the second step is to make sure that you link your account to your bookkeeping software. Yes, bookkeeping software costs money. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, time is money, and the cost of the software will more than pay for itself in the amount of time you save when it is set up correctly. Once your business bank account is linked to the software and all of the expenses are mapped (read: assigned to their correct expense account, such as meals and entertainment, marketing, office supplies, etc.), most softwares will remember the transaction and automatically record all future transactions to the correct expense accounts in the future. Voila! Your bookkeeping for your new business is now automatically taken care of and will be kept up to date as you swipe.

The only other items you will need to manually keep up with for most will consist of mileage. Most of us don’t purchase a new vehicle specifically for our new business venture, so in order to get credit on your taxes for business miles driven you must keep a mileage log. Trust me, it’s worth it! Do these two simple things and whomever does your taxes will adore you….which might just result in a lower fee.

Not All Is Lost When You Become Un-Bossed

It happened again. I got THE call. “Barbara (said in THAT voice followed by a sigh), it’s Susan. I gotta talk to you. Call me.”

The situation was this: Susan had just been laid off. Fired. Let go. Axed. Terminated. No-longer-getting-a-paycheck. Is this you? Or a friend of yours? It wouldn’t surprise me. Approximately 111,111 people were laid off in the United States in 2013. Layoffs are occurring today.

How does that feel? Susan was devastated, scared, angry. Luckily, I could honestly give her some good news. Information that I have learned from living lives with people from all walks of life. Losing your job is not always a bad thing. Not all is lost when you become un-bossed.

1) MoPac is not jammed at 10:00 am. For real.

2) The gym is not jammed at 10:00 am either. Or 2:00 – 4:00 pm. This is a great chance to get that body back in shape. It feels good, it is good for you, you will do better in interviews and you can learn while you walk.

3) You have time to fix your retirement tax burden. IRA’s and 401k’s are called retirement benefits. The benefit of a retirement tool should occur during retirement, right? I don’t see how you can call it a benefit when you have to take out more than you need to cover the tax burden.

The fact is, taxes are the biggest bill that you will ever pay in your whole life.

People have strong opinions about the market and take steps to protect themselves from the market. The stock market has periods of depreciation; It also has periods of appreciation. It goes down AND up. But the money you give to the tax system never returns to your portfolio.

Instead of focusing on the maybe of the market, why not address the certainty of taxes?

4) Barton Springs is lovely in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. If it is too rainy or cold, go to the movies. No one is there either and movies are cheaper in the middle of the day. Double score.

5) Self-Employment. Millions of Americans have found freedom and regained their zest for life by working for themselves. Self-employment allows you to combine what you are good at with what you are passionate about. It gives you time to do items 1-4. Sometimes even get paid to do them!

Self-Employment opportunities such as Network Marketing are not only becoming acceptable, but respected and valued. People like Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet and Tony Robbins all talk now about the benefits of Network Marketing, which include low start-up costs, tax benefits, residual income, social benefits and more.

6) The opportunity to control your 401k on your terms. Many corporate employees invest in 401k programs simply because they are offered by their employers, even if there is no matching!

Yes, it is important to save for your future. Yes, you probably need to have a structured system that takes money out of your paycheck before it hits your bank account. However, you don’t need to lock yourself into a plan that won’t let you access those funds until you are 59½ then pay crazy taxes in return for the small tax break you took up front (see item 3). There are strategies and tools that will allow you to put away as much or as little as you want today, protect it from the market and taxes, and take ‘free’, matching money if your next employer offers it.

7) Life is too short to live under someone else’s thumb. Sadly, that is what happens to many people over time at traditional jobs. While losing your job can mean losing your short-term identity and needed income, it can bring many, many benefits. Losing the security blanket called a job is often what finally enables people to venture out into the world and test opportunities and life experiences that they would have never even acknowledged before.

Susan turned out ok. Great actually! Not only did she will land on her feet, but she ended up living a whole new life; one that had more ‘life’ in it.

What about you? What opportunities are waiting for you to finally see them and say hello? What types of irreversible financial mistakes could you address now? What would it take for you to raise your head, look around and take action?

Not all is lost when you become un-bossed.