How to Handle Your Finances After Divorce

When I started my freelance writing career, I almost never did interviews for the pieces I wrote. I just researched the topic and went from there. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more interviews and, despite my tendency toward introversion, I am really coming to enjoy them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When Magnify Money asked me to write a guide on handling your financial life after divorce, I got the chance to interview two Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs), Dan Burges from Ameriprise in Southlake, TX and Avani Ramnani from Francis Financial in New York, NY.

They had some great advice, not just for the immediate aftermath, but information you can use long after the ink on your divorce decree is dry.

You can check out the guide here.

(Image credit: Daria Nepriakhina via Stocksnap.io)

A Top Employee Left, Now What?

While most of my writing projects revolve around taxes, accounting and personal finance, occasionally I get a chance to write about careers. It’s a topic I really enjoy. Despite the fact that I’ve never worked in human resources in any official capacity, I’ve always been sort of the “go-to person” for friends and family members looking for advice on resumes, career development and interviewing.leader

Funny story . . .

Years ago, a friend (for simplicity’s sake we’ll call him Mike) wanted to switch career paths. Mike had been working in management in the hospitality industry but really wanted to go after an open position as the Executive Director of a local non-profit. Despite having no experience working in the non-profit world, Mike was a hard worker, a natural leader and excellent at managing projects, people and budgets. All skills that would translate well to this new position.

The night before Mike was to submit his resume, I was on an audit in Minden, Nevada. Mike asked if he could email me his resume to proofread. Whoa. It was a trainwreck. Full of typos and he’d listed just about every task he’d ever performed at every job he’d ever held. If I remember correctly, that thing was four pages long! Nobody looking at that resume would be able to decipher how his experience would translate to the new position.

Hey, some people just aren’t good resume writers.

I stayed up half the night completely re-writing the resume for him, consolidating experience, taking out what wasn’t necessary, and polishing the important parts so the board couldn’t help but see that he had what it takes.

Mike got the job, and eight years later, he is still there!

Of course, I can’t take full credit. He aced the interview and had the skills to excel there, but I can’t help but feel like my resume gave him the chance to show that.

So lately I’ve had the opportunity to write on a few career topics for Accounting Principals. Check out a couple of the blogs I’ve written for them:

A Top Employee Left, Now What?

How to Identify Leaders

(Image credit: Unsplash.com)

How Do Millennial Business Owners Compare to Other Generations?

Will we ever tire of analyzing, dissecting and writing about the Millennial generation? Not anytime soon.pexels-photo-159991

Recently, I wrote a piece for Freshbooks on how Millennial business owners compare to other generations. Researching this piece was pretty interesting. I uncovered a few statistics that surprised me.

I also listed a few resources to help small business owners (of any generation) manage their business finances.

Head over to the Freshbooks blog and check it out. Do you have any other tips I didn’t think of?

Tax Knowledge Showdown: How Do Millennial Business Owners Compare to Other Generations?

(Image: Alicia Zinn via pexels)

1040, 1040A, 1040EZ – Which one is right for me?

I recently started writing for Credit Karma. You may be familiar with their free credit monitoring service. This year, they’re launching free tax preparation software.Startup Stock Photos

My first article for them covered the differences between Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ. I got a chance to interview my favorite tax blogger, Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes’ popular Taxgirl blog.

Hop over to the Credit Karma blog to check it out.

What are key differences between Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ?

(Image: Startupstockphotos.com via pexels.)

How to Spot Terrible Tax Advice

Last month, Freshbooks asked me to refresh and expand on an old article from their archives with tips to recognize and avoid terrible tax advice.sign-slippery-wet-caution.jpg

This was a pretty fun assignment, and it allowed me to reflect on some of the doozies I’ve heard over the years. Head over to the Freshbooks blog and check it out!

Terrible Tax Advice Exists – Here’s How to Spot It

Have you ever received terrible tax advice? Share your horror stories in the comments!

(Image: Skitterphoto via pexels)

Majority of Small Businesses Unprepared for Cash Crisis

A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to write for Chase News & Stories about a new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute that analyzed data from nearly 600,000 small businesses and found that only about half of small businesses maintain a cash buffer large enough to support 27 days of typical cash outflows.

 

cash-flow2
Image: Jeff Weese via pexels

I had a tight deadline for this piece, and I needed to find a small business owner willing to discuss cash flow – not exactly a topic that many small business owners want to publicly admit they struggle with. Fortunately, I have a connection to Neva Peterson of Neva Knows Business, a bookkeeping and consulting business in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

I’ve been friends with Neva’s daughter, Jennifer since junior high school, so she was willing to open up about her experiences starting her own small business and dealing with cash flow while growing her business and hiring employees. Her thoughts are not only insightful but pretty entertaining!

You can check out the piece here.

2017 Goals and a Recap of 2016

I’m a die-hard fanatic of New Year’s Resolutions. As I mentioned earlier, there’s just something about a new year, a fresh start, a blank page, that gets me excited to start thinking big.

darts-dart-board-bull-s-eye-game-70459

Image: pixabay.com via pexels

I started my freelance writing business in October of 2015 and became a Forbes contributor in December of that year. (You can find out more about how I made that leap so quickly here.)

This time last year, I was fired up about my writing business. I had three regular clients in addition to Forbes, and I’d grossed $425 from my writing in December. My goals for 2016 included making $4,000 per month from my writing and cutting down to half time at the CPA firm.

I’m happy to report that I blew those goals out of the water.

2016 Goal #1 – Make $4,000 per month from my writing

My writing income grew steadily in 2016. I kept my head above water during tax season, bringing on a couple new writing clients even as I was working 60+ hours per week. I had my first $4,000+ month in May of 2016, and I started bringing in at least $4,000 per month every month starting in July. December of 2016 was my best month yet. I collected more than $10,000 from my writing alone.

2016 Goal #2 – Cut my hours to 1/2 time

In August, I quit my job at the CPA firm. I loved my job, I worked with some amazing people and had clients that I really enjoyed, but the hours and stress of tax season just weren’t working for me anymore.

In early April, I was so stressed that I broke out in hives on my face and my hair started falling out. I don’t know about you, but that was a wake-up call to me. This kind of stress was not good for my health (physically or emotionally) or my family. At the end of April, I talked to my boss about cutting back to 3/4 time. She was fine with that schedule outside of tax season but needed me to commit to at least 60 hours a week from February through April 15th.

My new schedule was much more tenable – mornings weren’t so rushed, and I had more time and energy to come home from work and unwind before cooking dinner. But to be honest, my heart was not in it anymore. I was much more excited about writing than I was about mentoring newer staff and I was already dreading the loss of work/life balance that would come next busy season.

In July, I came across a job post for a technical and content writing position with a consulting company focused on CPA firms. It seemed like an ideal fit. I applied, interviewed, and was offered a full-time position, working remotely from a home office.

BUT. . .

Accepting that job meant my son would remain in daycare full-time, and I would not have the time to continue to pursue and expand my freelance writing business. I was so tempted to just accept the position to get out of public accounting, but I knew this was a great company that cared about their people. I didn’t want to accept an offer from them, just to quit a few months or years down the road because I wanted to be my own boss. With a major lump in my stomach, I called them to say I was turning the job down, but if they ever needed a freelancer, please keep me in mind.

The next day I received a call telling me they’d thought it over and whether I worked as an employee or a freelancer, I was the right person for the job. They wanted to bring me on as a regular freelancer, working up to 20 hours a week.

That opportunity was enough regular income for me to leave my job. I put in my notice in July and began full-time freelancing from home in August. I could not be happier with my decision. My business has grown steadily, I am excited to get up and get to work, and I almost always take Fridays off to spend time with my 4-year-old son.

So, what’s next?

2017 Goals

#1 – Make $75,000 from my writing

I made $10K from writing in December of 2016 so you may be wondering why I’m not setting a goal to make $120,000 in 2017. Well, December was not a typical month. I wrote an e-book for a client that brought in more than $3,400. And while I would love to do that every month, that’s probably not going to happen.

To bring in $75K in 2017, I will need to make $6,250 per month. That is a much more attainable goal for me right now, especially because I still value the work/life balance I’ve gained in the last few months. But hey, if I make six figures this year, I certainly won’t complain!

#2 – Max out HSA and IRA contributions

At my old job, I had access to a 401(k) with profit-sharing and my employer contributed $600 per year to a Health Saving Account. Now that I am self-employed, I am on my own for health insurance and retirement planning.

To reach this goal, I need to contribute $283 per month to my HSA and $458 per month to my IRA. I am putting the HSA contributions on auto-pilot. I plan on funding the IRA with contributions here and there throughout the year when I have a good month.

In both cases, if I come up a little short at the end of the year, I have until April 15, 2018, to make contributions that I can deduct on my 2017 tax return.

#3 – Post regularly on this blog

I neglected writing for my own site for most of the last half of 2016. In 2017, I plan on getting into a more consistent posting schedule.

So those are my business goals for 2017. I am really excited to grow my writing business and set myself up for personal and professional success in the coming year.

How about you? Are you a goal setter? What are your goals for 2017?