Money Matters: To Charge or Not To Charge Sales Tax

That’s a very good question. And I think this is the first time I’m delving into this topic. So this should be fun. Maybe moreso for me than for you, but hopefully for both of us.

As a side hustler, maybe all your fees and services are cash based. There is no tax to charge because it’s, well — to put it frankly – you get paid under the table. We’re not reporting the income we’re earning on the side because maybe it’s not worth reporting. Now the IRS will tell you something different. They will say that ALL income needs to be reported. I say (but please do what’s in your best financial interest and to avoid jail time) that IRS needs to prove there was income before I report anything. I mean, a few years ago I found $25 in the street on the way to work and on the way home. The cash I found that totalled $25 in that one week. That wasn’t income. That was finders keepers!

But in all seriousness, there is a reason why cash based businesses still exist. They can report higher losses and keep more of their money because they have “less” receipts to produce if audited or for whatever reporting purposes. But the question is, should you charge sales to clients tax at all?

I’ve done/do both. When I was providing resume services, and clients were paying via online, I charged sales tax with the expectation that I would have to report it on my taxes. And I explained to the clients that because California will charge me a tax, I needed to charge them a tax. Poor reasoning but people legitimately went along with it.

With my part time notary business, I don’t charge a sales tax at all. And it could be because I also charge a travel fee. But a flat rate has helped me – I feel – continue to get clients and have repeat clients.

So… should you charge sales tax? I say yes, if you’re going to be collecting a lot of online payments. No (but you still can), if you’re going to remain a cash based hustle. The decision is yours.

Money Matters: Your Crowd Affects Your Cashflow

Literally. My mother used to tell me as a child:

association brings about assimilation

And now that I am wiser and older, I believe her wholeheartedly. The company we’re constantly involved with and have in our lives directly affects our lives. And oftentimes, our livelihood. Sounds like a stretch? Then follow me on this train of logic.

Affluent people hang around other affluent people. People in poverty spend time with other people in poverty. Celebrities tend to marry other celebrities. Birds of a feather flock together. Does that ring a bell? Too vague? It’s been said and supposedly studied that we are all the summation of the top 5 people when spend the most time around. So, whomever we tend to share time with, break bread with are the people we’re most likely to reflect. Assimilate.

But how does that affect our dollars and cents?

Think about it: if you’re spending time with people who don’t amount to much and don’t want to amount to much, chances are you probably aren’t amounting to much either. The wealthy tend to spend time with other wealthy people. Think about all those inner circles and clubs and societies most of us could never be in. We’re not on that level. That financial level.

Elle and I had a long talk about this Sunday afternoon about keeping the right people around us and we decided we are each other’s tribe. Well, we didn’t really just decide that then. We’ve always known it, it just was reiterated in our conversation. But we understand our strong will and determination helps pump the other up so when we call each other we’re already on the same wave length. We get each other. And we give each other business. She refers me to new clients — what’s starting to feel like — all the time. And I help her craft and polish her business ideas and give her guidance in what direction to go in. Because good company cares about your success. Good people want to see you succeed. Good friends and tribe members want to revel in success with you.

Because they too know it matters having the right people have your back. It’s more than friendship. It’s your livelihood.

Money Matters: Budget Check-In

All right, ladies. Let’s open those banks apps and see how much money we’re working with for the rest of June. And more importantly, checking in to see if we’re on track for the rest of the year. I hope many of you are and if you’re aren’t, let’s talk about it.

Well….let’s plan for it, at least.

For me, I’ve always wanted to have a spare $1,000 in the bank for an emergency. Y’know, a rainy day fund. And surprisingly, I don’t have that yet. Working on it, but not completely there. I have more than that in my dream home fund. Much more than that in my IRA (I converted my 401k from the old job). More than that in my checking account. But surprisingly, just a few hundred bucks in my savings.

Why?

Chase, where I have my emergency savings account with, is only offering 0.01% for accounts with less than either $5,000 or $25,000. Something like that. In other words, Chase wants be to believe I’m earning interest on my money by offering one percent of a penny. What the hell! So… the extra funds that I’ve accumulated have been moved to my dream home fund, with Ally Bank, and they give me 2.20%. The difference is like night and day.

But that’s no excuse not to save for an emergency. So, by the end of the year I will have met more than that $1,000 emergency fund goal. And it’ll just sit there till I need to use it. In addition, I’ve been cutting back on my Uber and Postmates spending. Which got out of control in April and May. And I’m saving to lease a new car by next month with Fair.

So, I’m making some traction with my short term financial goals. How about you?

Money Matters: Side Hustles Aren’t Pretty

I was up until 11:30pm last night sorting our recyclables. And by the time I got to bag 20 (from a small bag I sorted plastics and bottles into a larger bag, reducing the amount of bags we have), I was over it. Not the sorting. The recycling. Yes, recycling is good for the environment; it reduces our footprint on our limited natural resources, it provides us with more post consumer materials to use rather than create new materials. And of course, there’s coinage in the mix. It’s why I’ve made it one of my side hustles since last year.

But, it’s not fun. Not at all. My mom works at night (while she continues to look for full time work) so she collects the bottles qnd cans and I sort them. But I’m sorting other people’s bottles… and leftovers…and DNA. Ugh. Recycling is practically gross when you think about it. But a true side hustle isn’t going to be pretty, at least not all the time. It may not be as dirty and messy (you should see my kitchen floor in the process) as recycling, but there is still the nitty gritty of it all. Rolling up your sleeves and diving right in.

I think that part needs to be shared more often. The hard work part needs to be emphasized, but if you ever want to turn your hustle a business and have it sustain your ideal lifestyle, it’s going be everything but cute. And if you’re serious about earning extra money, sometimes it means partaking in activities that aren’t the prettiest.

Money Matters: B.E.A.C.H. Wallet

It’s June! And for most of us, that means summertime splendor! ๐ŸŒž And for many people it means all things beach ๐Ÿ–. Or, beach-like activities. Getting or staying in shape, hanging out with friends, kicking it poolside ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ or at the beach itself. And although all those activities๐Ÿ„๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ are super fun๐Ÿคฝ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ, they be super expense when they add up. So, while everyone else is focused on their beach bodies, focus on your B.E.A.C.H. wallet.

What’s that?

Beginnings of Establishing Any Cash Haven.

In other words, funds. Savings. Rather than spend every other paycheck hanging out and giving the appearance you can afford to hang, save for those occasions. I’m sure we’ve talked about this already; the importance saving up for things and experiences you want to enjoy rather than just splurging and figuring out how you’re going to come up above water next month.

Save, save, save!!!

I cannot begin to stress this enough. I don’t care if you have five profitable side hustles and three full time jobs (unlikely, but these days who knows), save. For anything. For everything. Make it a point this summer that whatever your goals or plans are, you put some money aside for those occasions you want to really enjoy before you spend haphazardly.

I mean, after all, going to the beach should be fun. Not a bank-breaking event.

Money Matters: Mother’s Day Spending

Aaaahhh! I think I may have spent a little too much on my mother’s day gifts. And I think so because I didn’t plan accordingly. Now, I’m not broke or close to over drafting my account, but I definitely could’ve spent less than what I did had I been paying attention.

So here’s the breakdown:

  • Flowers – $53.20
  • Chocolates (See’s Candy) – $13.46
  • Two Tickets to the Dodger’s Game – $148.23
  • Stadium Parking – $25
  • Raffle Entry – $10
  • Food at Game – $30

And the total comes to…$279.89.

SH*T!

That’s way more than I planned to spend. Don’t get me wrong, totally love my mom and would do all in my power for her, but damn. I dropped nearly $300 on one holiday on one person. Not to justify this over spending, but had I spent all of this money in one day instead of over the course of a few weeks, I would’ve been more conservative with what was leaving my wallet.

I gotta continue to focus on saving, and hustling, and creating more exposure for my business and getting more business in general. It’s nice to know I can afford to spend nearly $300 on someone, but if I don’t have to, I shouldn’t. Pricey lesson learned.

How much did you spend on your mom yesterday?

Money Matters: Be Thankful for What’s in Your Wallet

I speak a lot about the importance of earning extra monies and saving and investing, if you can, but sometimes I forget to slow down and be thankful for the dollars and cents that I have. Elle reminded me this past Sunday to find the positive in everything. I was talking to her over the phone while I was at Ross and the Dollar Tree and I was mentally calculating what I spent that day. I said to her that I had spent over a $100 I was not planning to (this is why we have budgets, right?) and she said to me without missing a best, ‘be thankful you had the money to spend’.

Deep, trust me.

Oftentimes, I’ll beat myself up for spending too much money that I won’t spend anything for weeks afterwards, thinking it’ll balance me out. And althouh, like everyone else, I am constantly working on being better with my finances and managing my money, I forget to be thankful for the money I do have.

I’ve operated far too long from a place of lack and need and hustle and grind that I don’t stop and just be… thankful. Gracious. In a state of gratitude. Shame on me. Really.

Yes, I think it’s absolutely important to be focused and geared towards something that offers value to our lives. But it’s also important to be present in the moment. And in those moments, be thankful. For all that we have. No matter how muc it adds up to.

I am thankful for my dreams, my ambitions, my mom, Elle, my job, other loved ones in my life, Los Angeles for offering me a wealth of opportunities. And the dollars and cents in my pocketbook.

What are you thankful for?

Money Matters: What Are You Doing With Your Tax Return?

So, after tax season comes tax return season or… audits… or money you may owe to the IRS. This is can be a touchy topic here, but bare with me. And I know lots of people will say, “If youre getting a tax return that means you gave too much money to the government interest free”. I don’t disagree with that statement but I’m not here for that arguement… yet. I’m here for those of you ladies who’ll be getting a return.

So, let’s talk about how we’ll be using that money and where it’ll be going. I’ve already received my state return and I had that directly deposited into my “Dream Home Fund”. That’s a bit of good news. If I actually see all of my $1,164 federal return, I’ve already decide to divide that into thirds.

  1. One-third will be split among my savings. $194 will be going into my Emergency Fund. And I’ll drop the other $194 into my “Dream Home Fund”. Really trying to beef up that goal.
  2. Another third will go into my business and personal development. Any remainder monies will go into my Emergency Fund.
  3. And the final third, $388, will hang out in my account for 30 days. If in 30 days I cannot find a real need for something important I need to buy, then it will be split again among my savings accounts. Or maybe I’ll start my Travel Fund. I’ll see.

If you noticed, I have only two real goals for my tax returns. To save money and to invest in myself. That’s really it. That’s all I want to do. I don’t need to buy anything for myself or my apartment. Im not trying to go on some splurge and live it up. No shopping sprees for me.

I made a decision not to pay down student loan debt, because I just feel right now while I am making steady payments on time, it’s important I beef my savings, both long and short term. And when I get my saving accountd to where I want them to be in the near future, I’ll change gears.

Point is: my money has a plan because I’m on a mission. What’s the plan for your money?

Money Matters: Mixing Money and Friends

Yesterday I completed a notarization for two friends in the Larchmont Village area. One of the gentlemen found me online via Craigslist and very honestly explained that he was lending his friend $5,000 for a personal loan and wanted to have an agreement notarize should they have a falling out and not remain friends during the repayment period. It’s happened before. Probably a lot more than we realized.

But this was smart. Even among friends. Because sometimes our interactions with our friends will be transactions. In which case, a small part of the relationship will move from being personal to business. And if we’re not careful, we’ll blur the lines too much and make it hard either to be friends or ever do business with friends.

I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should ever lend friends money or ever taken a loan from a friend. You know them better than I. You know yourself better than I do. I will say be careful and be responsible. People can be funny about their money and I would hate to learn of another friendship that dissolved over money matters.

My golden rule for money and friends — even family — has always been: if I can’t afford to lose it, I can’t afford to lend it. I don’t do it often, but if I’ve lend someone money, I have to treat like a gift. Treat it like I gave them the money instead of loaned it to them. This way I’m not upset if they never pay me back. But I’m no fool either. If I lent someone money and they didn’t pay me back, I don’t lend them anymore money. I don’t want to turn myself into their ATM. I work hard for my money and I give it away to enough other people in the form of bills.

I also try not to borrow money from people. I will exhaust every option first before I ask for a loan from a friend or family member. If I gotta go pawn some sh*t first, so be it. I try to keep my friends and money separate from one another to maintain a healthy relationship with my friends and my money. I get it. Things come up all the time and we have to figure out how to deal. Yes, we know about having an emergency savings account,but not everyone has one. So they make do. I just ask you be careful if making do is mixing your friends and money together.