5 Easy Ways to Start Making More Money

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If you’re self-employed or your pay depends on your productivity, it’s important to consider how you’re currently planning your day and what you should do differently.

Having freedom in your schedule is a beautiful thing, but it can also be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have superior flexibility. On the other, you have a lot of planning to do — and that can be simply overwhelming. Many financial advisers like myself have to juggle marketing, administrative work, portfolio management, client meetings and more.

I reached out to a few to get their tips on how they plan their day to make the money – and I included a few of my own. Financial adviser or not, you’re sure to benefit from their advice.

1. Choose Your Top Three Most Important Tasks

Grant Bledsoe, CFA, CFP(R), a Portland financial planner and blogger at AbovetheCanopy.us, says, “I try to list out my top three most important to-dos the night before. That way, when I get to the office in the morning, I can refer to my list and get right to work. If I don’t, I’ll waste time on emails, ESPN and surfing the web.”

He adds, “I also try to limit the list to no more than three tasks. I’m far less likely to finish longer to-do lists, and the sense of accomplishment I get when it’s done helps keep me motivated.”

There seem to be two main takeaways from Bledsoe’s advice: Focus on a few of the most important tasks and do so early in the day.

2. Categorize Your Tasks to Achieve Balance

Peter Huminski, AWMA, a wealth adviser in North Carolina and blogger at ThoriumWealth.com/blog, says, “I try to block out at least 90 minutes everyday to work on prospecting for new clients. Sometimes it’s in the morning, and other times it’s in the afternoon, but I try to move a relationship closer to becoming a client during that block of time.”

Here, Huminski points out that prospecting is an important part of earning more money. It’s true that one can get caught up in the administrative tasks so much that they forget to think about the future of their business.

He adds, “I also break my daily tasks list into business development or administrative. For every administrative task I do, I will do one off the business development list. This gives me balance between the two most important parts of my business or any business.”

Labelling your tasks and making sure to work on each category equally, assuming they are both important, will help you focus on the present and the future of your business.

While you’re at it, make sure to look for some ways to save money. This is an important part of the future of your business. If you can cut some expenses, you’ll save a lot over the long-term and have more money to put to better use.

3. Don’t Forget Creativity & Good Customer Service

Joe Carbone, Jr., CFP(R), a wealth adviser and blogger at WealthManagementfortheRealWorld.com, says, “I use my morning as my creative time. I use this time to work on new marketing ideas, different investment strategies, reach out to prospects, etc.”

If your creativity peaks in the morning, you may want to use that time for your most creative activities. While you may or may not define these activities as your most important, creativity is a critical ingredient in making more money.

Carbone goes on to say “I also make sure my current clients are being treated with the utmost care and customer service throughout the day. They are the lifeline of my practice. What good is attracting new prospects and clients if my retention is 70%? Not to mention I would be failing them on my promise to take care of their financial world.”

Improving your customer service is a great way to increase your chances of making more money. People want to be taken care of, and if you don’t take care of them, they’ll probably look for service elsewhere.

4. Focus on Things That Allow You to Make Money Quickly

Yes, there is such a thing as a quick buck. It’s not always the best route to take, especially over the long-term, but it will help you get out of a bind. Look at some ways to make money fast and do try them in your spare time or try one early in the day. Whether you’re looking to raise some money to put toward advertising or buying new equipment you need to run a better business, there’s always an idea or two that will work.

5. Delegate Tasks

There are probably a few key tasks you do to make your money, and you’re good at them. There might also be several other tasks you do that have to get done but don’t really result in more money. Consider the second type of tasks. Are any of these the kind you can delegate to others? Perhaps you need some content edited. Instead of doing that yourself, find an editor to help you out. Maybe you need some web design. Again, delegate that to someone who can get the job done.

It can be a little scary to delegate tasks to others, especially if you’re new to it. You don’t have to dive in head first. Instead, pick one or two tasks that don’t require a lot of responsibility, and offload those to other people.

Final Thoughts

If you’re not used to planning your day before you begin, it may take some time to get the hang of it. Going from putting out fires to organized, efficient money-making isn’t something you learn overnight. Consider taking the tips from this article and try them out. (You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.)

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Tax Hacks: What to Do If You’re Self-Employed

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Being your own boss definitely has its advantages — flexibility, upward mobility, the chance to take your business in the direction you choose — but at tax time, being self-employed can be a challenge. Here’s a look at what’s expected of you when you go to work for yourself.

Self-Employment Tax

Like everyone else, if you’re self-employed, you’ll pay personal income taxes by filing Form 1040 on or before April 15. In addition, however, the self-employed also have to pay self-employment (SE) tax, which is a combination of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

You probably know that when you’re an employee, 6.2% of your gross pay is withheld from your paycheck for Social Security. What you may not know: Your employer also pays the government another 6.2%, bringing the total contribution for Social Security to 12.4% of your pay, up to $118,500.

Your employer is also responsible for paying another 2.9% of your pay into Medicare, with no limit.

When you’re self-employed, however, you’re covering all this yourself. You pay the entire 12.4% of Social Security, plus the 2.9% for Medicare. So while employees pay 6.2% of their earnings for Social Security, the self-employed pay more than 15%.

If your business earned $400 or more in net profit, you’ll owe SE tax. If your business netted less than $400, you may not need to even file a 1040. You may owe tax on your self-employment income even you aren’t self-employed full time or if your solo work is just a sideline. To know if you owe SE tax, subtract your business expenses (more on this below) from your business income using IRS Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business.

If you owe self-employment tax, use a different 1040 form, Schedule SE (Form 1040), to report your income. Transfer your bottom line amount from Schedule C to the SE 1040.

Schedule C-EZ

You might be able to use the simplified Schedule C-EZ if you meet the following criteria:

  • You earn a profit
  • You have expenses of $5,000 or less
  • You have no employees
  • You have no inventory
  • You are not using depreciation or deducting your home’s cost

The IRS has help deciding between Schedule C and C-EZ.

Quarterly Tax Payments

Self-employed workers estimate how much Medicare, Social Security and income tax they owe and pay it in quarterly installments. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals (PDF) to calculate and pay quarterly taxes. It has a worksheet that helps estimate what you owe and vouchers to submit with your quarterly tax payments.

You’ll need last year’s tax return to complete it. If this is your first year of self-employment, you’ll estimate, making up any difference in subsequent quarters.

In addition, there are other requirements. Your specifics will depend on the type of corporate structure you’ve chosen.

Corporation Types

Depending on how your business is incorporated you may have other tax reporting requirements. The IRS describes business structures and their tax filing requirements here.

Typically, self-employed workers, including contractors, operate as “sole proprietors.” Few one-person and small businesses become corporations as these have more complex tax and legal requirements.

Some small or one-person businesses use the S Corporation (S Corp) structure, though. The Small Business Administration, comparing incorporation options for businesses, says that “one of the best features of the S Corp is the tax savings for you and your business.” However, forming and operating an S Corp requires strict operating and reporting procedures that not every small business wants to undertake.

If you are curious about an S Corp, ask a tax adviser with expertise in this area to help you weigh the pros and cons.

Sole Proprietors

You may be thinking, “Uh oh, I didn’t incorporate at all.” Breathe easy. The most common structure used by small-business people is a sole proprietorship. You don’t need to do anything special to declare yourself a sole proprietor, as long as you are the only owner.

Tax-wise, this is the easiest approach. For details on IRS filing requirements see the IRS forms for sole proprietors.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

An LLC is a business structure established by your state that may give you some advantages, including some protection from personal liability. (The SBA has more on LLCs.) But having an LLC doesn’t affect how you file taxes — you just file as a sole proprietorship, an S Corporation or whatever business structure you’ve chosen to use.

State Taxes

Paying state and local taxes is another obligation of self employment. Each state and local government has its rates and rules. The IRS offers links to each state’s tax authority. Check with your city government for local rules.

Business Deductions

You can deduct “ordinary” and “necessary” business expenses by subtracting them from your income. Here’s the test, from IRS’ section on deducting business expenses:

An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.

Independent workers’ deductions can include costs for travel, retirement savings, entertainment, insurance, license fees, taxes, and office equipment and software.

More Deductions

Some of your business expenses can be deducted only partially — your costs for a car used for both personal and business transportation, for example. If 30% of your car’s use is for business, you’ll deduct 30% of the vehicle’s costs.

As an alternative, you can deduct all of your business mileage, so keep a record with odometer readings for the start and end of each business trip and consult this chart for mileage rates the IRS allows.

Some business costs — investments that become business assets — are treated differently. They are capitalized, deducted over a number of years.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

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