Podfest 2018

I went to Orlando for the Podfest Multimedia Expo from February 8-10th. Podcasts seem to be all the rage today and while I do not have a podcast for Clarity Finances, I have appeared as a guest on a couple of podcasts and listen to a few podcasts for my own personal enjoyment.

My first guest appearance on a podcast really was spur of the moment. I was at a class with Shawn Yesner and he was talking about his podcast Crushing Debt and he asked me if I’d like to be on his show. Since Clarity Finances and Profit First are all about crushing debt, I said I’d do it. The building that we were attending the class had recording equipment so we just recorded right there, simple as that. Although my appearance is short, I still had fun. If you’d like to listen to the episode, I appear on episode 90.

The second time that I was on a podcast was scheduled in advance so I had a little more time to prepare. Sam Belyea does his podcasts at the Foot Reflexology Institute and he does a Zoom and Facebook Live video for his students while recording the podcast at the same time. This was a longer conversation than my previous appearance on a podcast and we talked about bookkeeping tips for start-ups and the Profit First Method. We also talked about some ways to keep an eye on your finances without doing the bookkeeping yourself. And lastly, we talked about a common interest of ours, giving. I am not really used to being on camera, but once I was able to ignore the cameras, it was just a conversation between Sam and I.

If I am fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on another podcast I’d like to talk more on some practices that promote financial healing and why entrepreneurs should be givers.

I did just sign up for shared office space at CoCreativ that has a recording center where podcasts could be done so may be you’ll be seeing an official Clarity Finances podcast in the near future.

 

Julie

 

 

Being SMART in 2018

 

How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

Every year, people use the New Year to start fresh. Common areas of focus include our health and finances. Gyms get flooded with new members who will gradually fade as the year progresses. We make pledges to work an extra shift or stay a little later to work on projects and not get overwhelmed at work.

I have no problem with making New Year’s resolutions, although I avoid making them myself, but I think it’s a matter of setting attainable goals. For example, if your resolution is to join the gym and get healthy that is respectable but not always attainable. To truly get the benefits of exercise and going to the gym, one must be consistent and going to the gym has to become part of your normal routine.

Those people that you see in the gym that look like they just stepped out of a fitness magazine didn’t get their bodies to an admirable state by accident; they’re committed. If you never exercise or have never joined a gym, adding this to your routine can be quite difficult and can result in paying for something you won’t use. Maybe your best route would be to try exercising at home and seeing if you can stick to a routine and then take it to the next level by joining a gym and if you can afford it, hiring a personal trainer who will make sure you stick to your goals.

On the side of sticking to financial resolutions, it’s similar to setting attainable physical goals; pick something realistic. Don’t do something like setting a goal to double your savings if you know that isn’t possible with your income and budget. Setting a budget is actually a good start to attaining financial goals. Once you know what you are working with, you can set your goals.

Again, don’t go too big with your goals or you’ll quickly lose focus. Financial goals can be monitored and tracked through our bank statements and pay stubs. One doesn’t have to be an accountant or bookkeeper to make a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to monitor your finances. And just like hiring a personal trainer, if you can afford it, hire a professional bookkeeper to look over your numbers and help guide you along the way to reaching your financial goals.

An easy mnemonic device to use when it comes to goal setting is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-oriented. Some people work better with visual aids so if you’re one of those people, make a vision boards or write down your goals and hang them where they’re visible for some additional motivation.

 

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!

Julie

New Year, New Taxes

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year’s Eve celebration. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, my move to Florida has overall been a great thing in my life, but while I was having fun adapting to warm weather all year round, we are having our own cold snap—not the deep freeze of up north but in the 30’s at night. The top of Florida has even seen a flurry or two. I am told this should be over in a week or two though.

If you saw my last blog post it was short and sweet, simply containing a short message of well wishes and a picture that I took while out and about of a palm tree with Christmas light on it. That picture can sum up my times in Florida thus far; things are slightly different down here (like being warm during the winter months), yet quite similar to where I grew up (like the availability of Wawa convenience stores).

Now that we are in 2018 I thought I’d write on something that will have an impact on all of us, tax reform. No matter where you stand on this overhaul of our tax system, I’ll do my best to translate what at times can be confusing to most people: taxes.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The new tax plan takes effect on January 1, 2018, which most importantly means that it does NOT affect the taxes that you will be filing in April 2018. New tax brackets were established and they are listed below in the image. These new brackets will expire in 2025.

 

 

What most people want to know about this tax overhaul can be boiled down to one question: does it save me money? The answer to that question depends on which new bracket you find yourself in but can be answered with a “yes.” According to The Tax Policy Center for example, if you earn $65,000 a year you’ll save around $930 in 2018. If you make $500,000 a year, you will save around $13,480 in 2018.

If you’re curious about how much you’ll save under the new tax bill, use this tool from the Tax Policy Center. This tool is a just an estimate but can give people a better idea of how the TCJA impacts them specifically.

For businesses and business owners, this bill could be considered a win. The corporate tax rate will drop from 35 percent to 21 percent, which is seen by some as a way to boost the US economy and thus workers’ wallets.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

“For unto you is born this day, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

These palm trees covered with Christmas lights can symbolize more than just Christmas in a warmer climate. I took this picture while out and about in my new home state of Florida. Growing up in the Northeast, Christmas without snow sometimes didn’t feel like Christmas. At this point in my life, I have reached the conclusion that it isn’t the weather or dare I say it, not even the presents that makes Christmas special. For me what makes Christmas special is the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is through Him that I do all things and through Him that I am wishing all of my family, friends and clients a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year’s!

Financial Healing & Stress Management

Money can be stressful subject on its own but combining that with the stress of the holiday season can create a double whammy of stress. This is where financial healing and stress management comes in. Whether you’re a small business owner, someone raising a family or a single person, we could all benefit from a little financial healing.

There are a couple of different ways to look at money. On one hand, you can look at it from the perspective of someone like myself, a bookkeeper. I see money as the numbers that determine the success and future of businesses. Looking at the “books” of a business can be very telling. A quick glance could give you an idea of the business’ financial health, which in turn can determine the health of its owners and employees.

Someone like my friend and colleague, Victoria Whitfield looks at money from a different perspective. Victoria is also a financial healer like myself, but we differ in our approaches to achieving financial health. While I may heal you and your business by making sure your numbers are to the upmost accuracy, Victoria has a more holistic approach. Among the many things that she does for her entrepreneur clients is managing stress.

I’ve worked with Victoria for a few years for both personal and business healing. Especially around this time of year we could all benefit from a little stress management. I have a few different things that I do around this time of year to relieve stress and they may work for you too!

First off, I scale back. My sons are now in their twenties and while we do celebrate Christmas, it is nowhere near what families with younger children do around this time of year. I still decorate, but at a minimal level, only putting up the decorations that I know are my favorite. When it comes to my shopping, I try to find a balance of supporting my local small businesses while doing much of my shopping online to avoid crowds. Most importantly, I try to focus less on the consumerism side of Christmas and more on the spiritual side of the season.

Some of our family traditions stopped as grandparents passed but one of my own personal traditions that I have maintained is the reading of a few Christmas stories. One is “The Power of Christmas Prayer” by Stormie Omartian. It tells the story about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus from the time the Angel Gabriel give Mary the news to when the wise men visit. At the end of each chapter is a corresponding prayer. The other book is “The Max Lucado Christmas Collection.” It contains three stories of Christmas miracles.

If you’re in need of some financial healing or stress management, feel free to try some of my tips or contact myself or follow this link to contact Victoria Whitfield.

 

Time to Give Thanks

While I find it beneficial to be grateful for what I have throughout the year, this is the time of year when we all seem to focus on the things for which we are thankful.

I’d like to share some of the things I am thankful for here in my blog.

This past Sunday we were told not to forget the Giver, so let me start by acknowledging that God is my provision and it is to Him that I am thankful!

I am thankful to my clients for trusting me to manage their bookkeeping and for allowing me to introduce them to Profit First!

To show that the little things count too, I am thankful for the large Dunkin Donuts coffee that I just ordered with the free beverage coupon I received a few days ago.

I am thankful to be living here in Tampa where it tends to be sunny most days. After living here for the past year, I now truly realize why it is called the Sunshine State. I love that I can enjoy the beach year-round!  And a special thanks to Tim, my boyfriend, for making it so easy to choose Tampa over other warm, sunny, by-the-beach and near-a-major-airport places. I can’t mention being thankfulness and Florida without mentioning being thankful for my health and safety after Hurricane Irma hit in September. After the storm, things were really put into perspective for me, as others were far worse off than myself and I have God to thank for watching over me and trust in Him to care for and watch over those whose lives were impacted on a bigger scale than myself by Hurricane Irma.

I am thankful for all the awesome people I have met in the past year and a half here in Tampa.  I love my church, Relevant Church in Ybor City.  I love my BNI (Business Network International) Chapter; it’s full of encouraging, giving business owners. Another wonderful perk of BNI in the Tampa Bay region is access to Asentiv’s referral marketing training.  I am so thankful for my Referrals for Life group and for Tiffanie Kellogg! Tiffanie does such a great job cutting through my hazy explanations of what I do and to whom I want to serve, turning it into clear, concise language that speaks to those who need my services. Every interaction one has can be considered a networking opportunity and I look forward to making more connections in the future and growing my network.

As much as I love living in Florida now, I am thankful to still be able to serve clients in Pennsylvania and for choosing to be part of PowerMatch.  Sara Rosenberg does such a great job connecting me with people up North who can in turn connect me with more people who need help with tracking their finances. I am thankful to have a business that can work with anyone around the world who has access to the Internet.

I am thankful that I attended Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins earlier this month and got to walk on fire!

I am thankful to have the opportunity to be the VP of Fem City Tampa and help President Amanda Vining grow our Tampa Bay chapter as a space for women to encourage each other in our businesses as well as develop deep friendships.

I am very thankful to have discovered Yanik Silver, author of Evolved Enterprise and Giovanni Marsico of Archangel.  The work that these two are doing is exactly what I want to do—heal the world through entrepreneurs! I am also thankful that I am finding social entrepreneurs and groups that support them as they learn and grow right here in Tampa.

Finally, I am forever grateful for my sons, Tom and AJ. This is for many reasons, but most importantly because I know that God gave them to me to love so that I would better believe and accept the love that God has for me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Julie

Hot Coals

What would it take for you to walk over hot coals? For me, all it took was a little motivation from Tony Robbins.

Last week, I attended Unleash the Powers Within, hosted by Tony Robbins. I’ve been a fan of Robbins’ work for some time now, but never had the opportunity to attend one of his events. Unleash the Powers Within was held in West Palm Beach, which is just a few hours drive from my home in Tampa so I decided to go.

For those who are not familiar with him, Tony Robbins is an American author, entrepreneur and life coach. He is most well known for his live motivational seminars like the one I attended. In 2016 he released the popular documentary I Am Not Your Guru, which is now available on Netflix. If you have the time, check it out to get an idea of who Robbins is and what he does.

Aside from the motivation and inspiration I received over the days I was at the event, a highlight was walking on hot coals. This was something that I had never done before but was willing to give a try. The coals were spread over a distance of about 30 feet, which at the time sounded like a mile. When it came time to walk over the coals, there were hundreds of other participants around giving us encouragement and enhancing the trancelike stance that I felt. Before I knew it, I was across and felt nothing. It was almost so easy that it felt anticlimactic in a way. I only have a small blister on my foot to show for it, but I would totally do it again! This is the power of Tony Robbins.

Another thing that I did at the event was make two commitments. One was to be easy and the other was to be hard. For my easy commitment, I chose to start stretching my back daily, which is something I know I should do but do not make the time to do. My hard commitment was to grow my business while looking at things over a ten year window. I also got to do some networking at the event. I met a few people from the Philadelphia area like myself and connected with a few more people on Facebook after the event.

I can easily say that I would attend a Tony Robbins event again and recommend anyone seeking inspiration, motivation or is simply curious to check one out too, or even watch his documentary on Netflix.

 

 

 

Bloodcurdling Tales from the World of Bookkeeping

With Halloween around the corner, I’d like to join in the festivities by sharing some scary tales from the world of bookkeeping. With all of the numbers involved, bookkeeping on its surface can already seem scary to some. Once you hear a few horror stories from within, you’ll see how scary things really can get.

A few years ago I was personally involved with a bookkeeping horror story. A business owner had a friend who ran into some tough times, so the business owner gave the person a job doing her books. After three years of employing this person, the books showed a large profit when in reality the company had huge losses due to deliberate improper bookkeeping practices. She now owed a lot of money to the IRS and when they came knocking for the money she was unable to pay up. After this misconduct by her bookkeeper, she hired Clarity Finances and an accountant to right the ship. In a way, there is no happy ending for this story as the business was forced to close, a friendship ended and the business owner went back to her former career.

Some simple searching around the internet will show you tons of stories like this where a business thinks things are running smoothly until someone else takes notice of the errors or worst of all the IRS steps in. There are some check and balances that can prevent such horror stories. A common theme you will see in many of these stories will be that no one was watching. It helps to have a few different sets of eyes on your numbers. Keep an eye on things like petty cash, which can be manipulated rather easily. As scary as these things can sound, ill intended mistakes in the numbers of a business most often times are rare. To cover all of your bases and assure accuracy, it’s best to have an outside accounting firm or bookkeeping company, like Clarity Finances look over your numbers.

So I don’t scare too many people, I’ll finish this week’s post with a story that has a happy ending. I had a client who was building a new home and she wanted me to look over her numbers. I noticed a discrepancy in the numbers on her invoices where she would have overpaid by roughly $30,000. This mistake was not intentional by the contractor; it was just that without an extra set of trained eyes, the error would go unnoticed. She and her family have been living happily in this beautiful home for the last five or so years.

Hearing stories like these may make you feel nervous about your numbers, so it is imperative that you have the right people on the job. Clarity Finances is here for the business owners who seek trust and accuracy in their bookkeeping.

 

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

 

 

Here are a few bonus tips for business owners to ensure accuracy with their numbers:

Don’t have the person who signs the checks also sign invoices.

Don’t make the checks easy to sign out so that suspect purchases cannot be made.

Get a second or third set of eyes to look over things like invoices.

Reconcile your accounts with your bank.

Always consider a third party to look over your numbers.

 

 

Clarity on Profit First

As I wrote in my previous blog, I am now a certified Profit First Professional. As of January 2018, all of my clients will reap the benefits of my application of Profit First principles I have learned throughout my Profit First Certification. But what does this mean exactly?

Just around the time of the first Profit First book being released by Mike Michalowicz, I was struggling to grow my business rapidly enough to cover the expenses of a five-figure marketing coaching program and an additional full-time employee. I saw that having to cover the costs of these things in addition to my normal business expenses would put my business in poor financial health. After doing some research on Profit First and reading the first book in the series, I realized that Profit First was the answer for both my business and for my clients’ businesses.

Being a bookkeeper, I knew how to track the numbers, but wasn’t setting sustainable financial goals to guide my business decisions. Two of the main principles of Profit First are to be disciplined and thoughtful with your money. I was too busy chasing after revenue without paying attention to how much money was being spent by my business and the cost of this revenue chasing can really add up. With the principles of Profit First under my belt, I could really see more clearly how decisions based off emotion without due diligence can be a problem. 

Profit First will shift your mindset on how you view your numbers. You will have a better understanding of how your money goes in an out. You will discover new, creative ways to increase profits. There will be no more sleep lost over wondering if your business will have enough money to meet payroll. You will enjoy taking a quarterly distribution from your profit account. You will have the money to pay your taxes sitting in an account ready when you need it.

While Profit First is not a complicated system, doing it alone can be challenging. Clarity Finances will be there to walk you through the process, helping you choose financial goals that will improve your business and enable you to give in a BIG way.

We start with a Profit Analysis, providing a roll out plan and meeting with you regularly to track your progress all while providing encouragement as you need it to celebrate your successes.

When businesses get their numbers right through Clarity Finances and the Profit First system, they can play BIG and give BIG.

 

 

 

ProfitCON17, Certification and more!

This past weekend I attended ProfitCON17 in Morristown, New Jersey. This was my second time attending a ProfitCON and just like the previous time, I came away with such good insight.

I am also proud to announce that I have completed the certification process of becoming a Profit First Professional. Starting in January of 2018, all of my clients will reap the benefits of my application of what I have learned throughout my Profit First certification. To put it simply, with The Profit First System, the business owners will pay themselves, have their financial numbers to the utmost accuracy and all this will help accumulate wealth for themselves and their businesses. My foremost goal however is to have my clients give back, in a BIG way, once they accumulate wealth and have their numbers accurate.

I’ve found such inspiration in the stories I’ve heard from other entrepreneurs who have implemented Profit First into their businesses. Entrepreneurs like Mastery Member John Briggs who said, “The math is simple. One hundred percent of the Profit First Professional members who apply the organization’s benefits, grow. Period.”

Ultimately, I want to achieve my dream of having a successful business that gives back and clients who do the same. Mastery Member Lori Petersen spoke on how being a part of the Profit First Community helped her achieve her dreams saying, “I have more than doubled my company revenue since joining PF two years ago, but that is not the most remarkable part of my experience. I have been unequivocally supported every day by this great organization. I never before have had so much support in achieving my dream.”

In January I’ll be going on a mission trip to Jamaica with Creators of Hope. If you are not familiar with Creators of Hope, feel free to follow the embedded link to their website for more information and how you can get involved. According to their website, “Creators of Hope brings clean, dry housing to Jamaica’s most vulnerable populations-children, the elderly, and single mothers-in the most poverty stricken rural areas around Porus, and beyond.” I’ve wanted to help on one of these trips done by Creators of Hope for a long time now and I’m glad to be able to lend a hand. I’ll be there for about a week and most likely will post a blog post about my experiences, so stay tuned!