Sunday, April 27, 2014

The little things are BIG

Let's pretend. Imagine that you visit the doctor tomorrow and he tells you that you only have three days to live -- 72 hours.  What would you do first?  Who would you visit? Where would you visit?  Who would you talk to and spend time with?  What would you do that you've always wanted to do?  How would you fill those 72 hours?

Would you go to work?  Would you cut someone off on the freeway?  Would you stand in line for 30 minutes at the grocery store? The bank? Would you call someone and argue with them?  Would you spend hours with people who don't like you and you them? Would you go to the gym? Would you watch court shows on TV all day long?  Would you watch sports on TV all day long?

If I had only 72 hours to  live, I would want to be with the people I love the most.  I would want to make sure my affairs are in order.  I would want to make love one last time. I would want to give money to a desperate and needy person.  I would like to fly to Hawaii and watch the sun set on the blue shores of the island.  I would want to have a huge party and invite only people who like to laugh and have fun. I would want to write.  I would want to let every person who has helped me know how much I appreciate them and how much they changed my life.  I would like to know that I changed someone else's life for the better.  

Funny, all the things I didn't do today.  

Sad but true, the things that mean the most to us--we don't do.  What kind of life is that? A sad life where we don't comprehend that: the little things we do are actually big parts of our lives and they mean the most.  

Start doing the little things my friend.  At the end of your life, you'll be much more satisfied.

Pay attention to the little things.  Be powerful and influential my friends.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's Good for the Soul

What do you love doing the most?  What is the thing that you do that makes you feel REALLY, REALLY good inside?  

Do you like to draw?  
Do you like to write?  
Do you like to make furniture? 
Do you love sewing?  
Do you love sports? 
Do you love fixing things? 
Do you love to dance? 
Do you like making videos? 
Do you love creating exotic looks with make-up?  
Do you love cutting hair?  
Do you love coding?  
Do you love animals?  
Do you love working with children? 
Do you love rock climbing? 

Do you love _____________________________________________(fill in the blank).

Then DO it.  Right now.  Today.  Stop reading this blog and do that thing or make plans to do that thing.  Sure you have obligations that take up a lot of your time . . . family, work, etc. But there are ways you can do the thing that you like doing.  Schedule it into your day, week or month if you have to. Block out some time in your calendar and title it: "Very Important Appointment/Mandatory".  

Your mind and soul deserve some type of joy.  Make it a priority to regularly get some.

Just a note:  I'm really curious about the things that make people happy and the many talents that we have.  Please, in the comment section below, let me know what thing gives you JOY.  What thing you would do every day if given a chance.

Stay powerful and influential my friends!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Telecommuting Essentials: When Internet Goes Down - Use Your Smartphone Hotspot

As an avid telecommuter, I recently realized that many of my friends, co-workers and colleagues do not realize the full power of the technology that they wield every day! 

I quickly began figuring this out when my business coach's internet access shut down and she couldn't contact her clients.  She went down the street to a FedEx Center to use their computer and let us know that her internet service would be down for a couple of days.  Even more recently, a friend went MIA from Facebook for a week because her internet service was down.

My question to these problems are . . . wait, you both have smart phones?!  

It seems that we are walking around clueless of our own power and what we have in our pockets.  Did you know that if you have a smartphone with a data plan, you can create a WiFi Hotspot?  This WiFi hotspot can let you share your phone's data connection with a tablet, a laptop or even a desktop computer.  Which means, if your primary internet connection goes down for any reason, you can use your smartphone as an internet provider instead.  It's called wireless tethering and it's a great tool to know about and use.

If you are even thinking of working from home, you should learn to master this little concept, tool and opportunity.

Okay, before I give you instructions on how to do this.  Be warned:
  • You use much more data at a faster rate on your laptop or tablet, so you really need to be aware of your data usage.  You don't want to go over your allotted data usage limits.  Usually, your service provider will send you a little text or e-mail when you use up a certain amount of data usage, but it's best if you monitor this yourself.  In the Settings Feature of every phone, there is a place where your phone will tell you how much data you used and what is left for the month.  Check this often!
  • DO NOT stream HD Video through your smartphone hotspot!  HD Video eats up data faster than a SUV goes through gasoline. Just don't do it!
  • If you are in a business or have a telecommuting job that requires reliable internet access, you should definitely think about calling your service provider and asking about unlimited data rates. The ability to create a WiFi hotspot could be a job-saver for you. If you are self-employed (own your own business) this extra expense could be written off as a tax deduction (legitimate business expense).  This particular expense is worth it, in my opinion.
Turning on your WiFi Hotspot through your smartphone is different for every device, so my instructions on doing this may be a little different for your particular device.  Google your particular phone and operating system and the term "wi-fi hotspot" to find accurate instructions on how to turn on your WiFi Hotspot.

Turning on your iPhone 5 (OS 7) Hotspot
  • Go to Settings
  • Choose either [Cellular] or [Mobile Data]
  • Select Personal Hotspot
  • Personal Hotspot  (flip ON - Your button indicator should be green)
  • It will give you a password [but you can configure your own]
  • The Hotspot name will be whatever your phone is called
  • Below WiFi Password are instructions on how you can connect to your hotspot using WiFi, Bluetooth or USB cable.

Turning on your Android Hotspot
With an Android, you might have to play around a little because each one is different.  I tried this on a three different friend's android phones and turning on the WiFi Hotspot was different on each one.

  • System Settings
  • under wireless and networks go to "More Settings"
  • Mobile Hotspot [toggle ON]
  • Select: Tethering and/or Portable Hotspot
  • Hit the toggle next to portable WiFi Hotspot to activate
  • Once it's activated, tap on the text to the LEFT of the toggle
  • Takes you to the mobile tethering section
  • Tap on CONFIGURE button in button right
  • Set the name, password and protection type (I recommend WPA2 PSK) of WiFi hotspot.
To help you further, I found other articles that have useful information about creating a WiFi Hotspot with your smartphone:

Wiki-How: How to Make your IPhone a HotSpot

How to Turn on WiFi HotSpot Internet Sharing

Hotspot: Share Your Phone's Mobile Date with Other Devices

 Stay powerful and influential my friends!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tele-jobs: NORDSTROM

"Do you simply love fashion?  Would your dream job be working in the fashion world?  Maybe you should work for Nordstrom's HauteLook division.  HauteLook’s goal is to provide all members with the highest level of customer service in the industry. HauteLook strives to go above and beyond the call of duty and have an innate knowledge of our members’ needs. The primary function of this position is to provide all members with the highest level of customer service in the industry.  In order to provide Nordstorm shoppers with exceptional member care, Nordstrom is looking for a Member Care Representative who enjoys interacting with our members and isn’t afraid to get on the phone. This is a part-time, work from home position reporting to their Los Angeles office."

Does this sound like a great job for you.  
Then check out Nordstrom Careers;
Click on Search Jobs;

Type: "telecommuting"  or "care representatives" in Keywords

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Don't Forget to Make a Life

I used to think these sayings were a bunch of crap.  Coming from an "impoverished" childhood and background, my mindset immediately went to: Well, you can't have much of a life if you are starving to death or you don't have a roof over your head.  

It was like I was always defensive about the amount of time work took over the rest of my day/the rest of my life.  Of course work takes up the majority of you day, right?  And there's nothing you can do about it if you want to sleep, eat and live the other 14 hours of your day in some sort of comfort, right?

It took me until this great age to realize that what the message was saying was to not let work consume you until you "convince yourself" there is no time for the other things that you love.  Make what you love a priority, even if you are forced to be at work and not do the thing you love.  I mean, seriously, you can be at work and still think about, enjoy, plan, participate in the things you love most.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.  Say there is a woman who wants to be a writer--I mean, she just loves to write and tell stories.  But, and here's the kicker, she's a single mother with with two kids.  She manages to have some reliable child care, but she has two jobs. Here's the messed up part, she has two part-time jobs that add up to--not the usually 8 hours a day, but 10 hours a day--and commute times that's really 12 hours a day.  

With this scenario, most people would say, "there goes her dream."  I mean, with two jobs, two kids and no spouse to help out, she's got to let go of something right?  The easiest thing to let go of is her dream of becoming a writer. 

That's where the motto: Don't Forget to Make a Life comes in.

Let's suppose that she refuses to give up the thing that she loves in all of life, the thing that makes her feel really good about herself.  The thing that makes her complete.  Let's suppose she schedules out her day.  

The schedule:  She wakes up an hour early at 5AM.  Gets herself cleaned up, dressed for work, and gives herself a 15 minute block of time to write.  Fixes breakfast for three, wakes the kids up at 6:15AM, feeds them and gets them dressed.  Out of the house by 7AM.  Drops them off at child care between 7:15-7:30AM.  Elects to take the bus or train to work, public transportation takes 25 minutes to get to work.  The great thing about public transportation is you don't have to drive which allows her 25 minutes to write.  Get's to work at 8:05AM.  She gets a 20 minute break at work . . . she writes on her break.  She gets off first job, she already prepared her lunch the night before, eats it on her way to next job while taking the train and writing all the way.  On her next job, she gets another 20 minute break, she writes.  She writes while commuting home, another 25 minutes.  Her mother or best friend picked up the kids from daycare four hours ago.  She spends some quality time with her kids before they go to bed.  She takes 45 minutes to prepare lunches, pick out clothes for the next day, take a shower and then for the next hour she writes. It's 11PM and lights out because she has to wake up at 5AM tomorrow, again.

Crazy and busy day, right?  But guess what?  She got 3 hours of writing in that day!  Most people with time on their hands barely get 3 hours of writing into one day. Sure she's tired.  Sure, that's a difficult way to "live her dreams and make time to have a life that she wants and enjoys."  But at least she's living it, right? She found a way.

But that's what this quote means.  Make time to LIVE your life.  Make time.  Make time to call your friends and have a great conversation at least once a week.  If you have to schedule it into your busy schedule, than do that.  Make time for your family, and guard that time from other obligations aggressively.  If you have to say "No" to someone, to money, to opportunity, to sleep, to whatever . . . so what, make the time!  

The key to a great life is figuring out what matters to you . . . and then, do that damn thing!  No matter what it takes.

That's what "Don't Forget to Make a Life" truly means. Figure out what matters to you and at all costs . . . do it!  On this, I know, you will never regret.

Stay powerful and influential my friends.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

What scares you?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

After I completed my taxes this year, I want to kick myself!

About 5 years ago,  I had a successful virtual assistant business with over 30 re-occurring clients. It was a lot of work, but it was great.  In 2008, one of my top clients decided that they wanted me to work with them exclusively and was willing to pay the high bill to have such a privilege.   That was even greater!  So, I essentially closed my business and became and independent contractor. The work was challenging and interesting, my work hours were flexible and I was well paid. 

Then 2009 happened, my major client was a financial services agency. You all know what happened to businesses in the financial sector in 2009, right? Sad day for me.

Then the housing bust happened which affected my landlord's finances, but allowed my husband and I  the chance to purchase the house we were renting (it is a really nice house guys).  To top if off, my sister (who was living with us at the time) was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. Everything was falling apart, and everything was whirling like a whirlwind at the same time.

Business was slow and new clients were few and far between. The bank said they were not accepting anymore 1099 income statements (that means independent contractors, people) with loan applications.  Unfortunately, that's all I had to show my income or lack thereof.  With a major illness, my sister did not need to be moved to a new house at this critical time.  So, I did what I had to do.  I got a regular, commuter job that issued a W-2.  

It was the solution to everything.  Our income statements satisfied the bank, the loan came through, we bought the house, we didn't have to move my sister at a critical time in her life, and the kids could stay in the schools they loved. 

However, I could not see myself (operative words here) working 8+ hours a day, commuting 2 hours round trip, taking care of a home with children and a sick relative AND maintaining--even part-time--my home business.  So I closed shop.


The next year, my husband and I owed thousands of dollars to the IRS!  We had never owed that much money to the IRS before.  We were flabbergasted! But as we completed our 1040, we realized that our true financial savior was the Schedule C.

Let me tell you why:
Owning a business can really help your household's budget bottom line.  The expenses and deductions from your business are amazing, they are huge.  

 Here are the items you can deduct if you own a legitimate business:

  • Office Supplies
  • Office Equipment
  • Other Equipment you need for your work
  • Software
  • Publications and Books
  • Postage
  • Business License
  • Mileage
  • Travel (get a nice hotel room because you can deduct 100% of that)
  • Costs while on the road (dry cleaning, tipping, rental cars)
  • 50% of eating out while traveling
  • Insurance premiums (if your spouse and children work for you and are covered by your insurance it's tax deductible)
  • Retirement contributions
  • Half of Self-Employment tax (*You have to pay 15.3% of net profits to Social Security - but you can deduct half this amount on your taxes!)
  • Phone charges
  • But the Pièce de résistance is the Home Office Deduction
The Home Office Deduction:
If you can prove that you have a dedicated space just for business in your home, you can take that space, calculate the percentage it takes up of your home and deduct expenses.  

I don't think you heard me.  Let me give you a "for instance".  Let's look at my case.  I am very blessed.  I have an entire room that is devoted to my home office.  Anyone (which would mean an IRS agent, business inspector, etc.) walking into this room would know immediately that this room is devoted to being my home office.  They would know this simply because there is nothing but home office stuff in there: Desks, computers, printers, books, paper and more paper, office supplies.  There are no beds, no sofas, no TVs - nothing that says "here we relax and entertain friends." 

Now, my husband and I measured the area of our office against the appraised square footage of our home. The IRS estimates our office takes up 7% of our home.  Which means . . . check this . . . we can deduct 7% of our costs to run our home.

(These are example numbers, not the real ones -- I just made them up for easy calculation)

Heating for the year?  Why that's $2,000.  $2,000 x 7% = $140 deduction.  What?!

Alarm Service?  That's $1200.  $1,200 x 7% = $84 deduction.  Stop!

Home Repairs? Receipts total  $7,000.  $7,000 x 7% = $490 deduction.  Get out'a here!

Put window coverings up throughout the whole house?  Well, the window coverings in the office need a separate receipt because that's fully deductible! Boom!

Are you starting to see the advantages of having a legitimate home business?  Let me stress legitimate.  

Well, what is legitimate?  I'm glad you asked.

A business that you are working hard to gain a profit in.  If you can show that you are working hard to gain a profit in your business, that you actively seek clients and customers, engage in promotion of your business, work to acquire income from your business - even if you do this just one hour out of your day. . . then you are legit.  

The list of deductions I provided above for the home office, is only the beginning.  There are so many more deductions that you take when you own a home or small business.  For more on this, simply go to the IRS's webpage. IRS Home Office Deduction Sheet. Or talk to a tax professional, it will be worth your time and money to do so.  Really.

I closed my business and went all W-2.  I regret it.  

Having a regular W-2 income, being an employee really sucks! (Sorry, to all you guys contented with employee status. I'm sure it works for you -- but, it doesn't for me.)  It sucks so much that I have relented and I'm back in business again. 

Learn from me everyone.  If you've always wanted to be your own boss and start a business.  Do it!  Do it now!!!

If you have a business and for whatever reason, you are thinking of quitting and closing shop -- DON'T! 

Stay powerful and influential my friends.

Do me a favor . . . Click one of the icons below and share this article with friends! Leave a COMMENT by clicking on the little orange "comment" below right by "written by Telemill" notation. It's the little things you do that make the biggest difference. Thanks.