Friday, February 15, 2019

Receipt and Expense Tracking Still an Obstacle for Small Business Owners & Self-Employed

With tax season looming, many self-employed people and small business owners are starting to sweat their tax deductions. One of the greatest areas of concern year after year is business expenses and receipt capture. In a recent study conducted by the Receipts team at QuickBooks Online, 500 self-employed individuals and small business owners were surveyed regarding their current expense tracking and receipt capture habits.

Questions ranged in topic from what types of deductions self-employed individuals take to how expense receipts are stored and organized to what types of challenges these workers face while trying to keep track of it all.

Of the 500 respondents, 60 percent identified as self-employed, while the other 40 percent indicated they were small business owners. Sixty-five percent of these individuals indicated they have between 1 and 5 employees, while almost 20 percent (19.2) have no employees. A majority of all respondents were single (36.6%) or married (38%) with no children (50.4%) and intend to make a real estate purchase in the next 12 months (50%).
Leaving Money on the Table

Two things became apparent as soon as the data was initially analyzed: self-employed individuals are uncertain what exactly they can deduct and this uncertainty leads to not deducting everything they can. This directly translates to leaving money on the table.

According to the study, more than 50 percent (55.4) of respondents do not deduct all of the expenses they can from their taxes every year. In fact, only 15 percent (15.2) of those that responded stated they deduct 100 percent of what they can annually.

When examining why self-employed individuals don’t take all of their deductions, in addition to being uncertain of what can be deducted, people can’t remember all their expenses (21.8%) and don’t deduct everything because they lose their receipts (17.4%).

While it’s unfortunate that these obstacles keep self-employed individuals from taking all the deductions they could, it’s encouraging that these challenges are easily addressed. 

QuickBooks Receipt Scanner is designed to keep receipts all in one place and works fast, so it doesn’t disrupt a busy business owner’s day

Organization is Key

Of course, one of the key elements of any tax deduction is keeping and organizing the necessary receipts. Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents (79.6) stated that they could be better or a lot better at organizing their receipt. Only 20 percent (20.4) felt that they had no room for improvement where organization was concerned.

This margin for improvement leads to a high margin of error as well. Seven out of 10 self-employed individuals (69.8) stated that they lose a receipt at least once per month; while the other 30 percent (30.2) said they never lose receipts.

Plus, many self-employed individuals don’t keep their receipts for the express purpose of using them as a tax deduction. When asked to rank the most important reasons that they hold on to receipts, respondents stated it was in case they wanted to make a return. Tied for the second most important reason were the following: to keep product warranties; to keep track of how much is spent on business and expenses; and finally, to deduct expenses at tax time.

Physical vs. Digital Tracking

When asked to describe how they organize their receipts, only 16.8 percent of respondents stated that they keep track of their receipts digitally. That means that more than 80 percent of self-employed individuals are still relying on shoeboxes, coffee cans, file folders and their wallets as a filing system.

However, 20 percent (20.5) of respondents expressed a wish for a better way to keep track of their receipts, while another 8 percent (8.2) said that they spend too much time keeping track of and organizing their receipts.

Similar to understanding what receipts are necessary to keep for tax deductions, it would appear that a lack of knowledge regarding other expense tracking and receipt organization methods is what is preventing self-employed individuals from using a more secure tool.

Uncertainty Breeds Stress

Perhaps the most upsetting statistic revolved around the amount of stress that self-employed individuals feel when it comes to expense tracking and receipt management. Two out of 10 respondents stated that they feel stress related to expense tracking at least once every two to three months, while 13 percent of respondents feel stress on a monthly basis. That means that three out of every ten of the survey respondents are feeling some type of stress related to expense tracking on a fairly regular basis. When combined with the over 50 percent (53.8) of respondents who also feel stress organizing these business expenses, tracking these expenses and receipts are obviously providing self-employed individuals with another layer of stress they don’t need.

The Biggest Struggle

When asked what their biggest struggle was relating to tracking their business expenses, self-employed individuals were able to easily articulate these obstacles in their own words. Of all the responses, an overwhelming number was some version of the following: “keeping track of every expense.”

Other themes that were repeated included:
  • Misplacing or forgetting to separate personal and business expenses
  • Knowing what can and cannot be deducted
  • Keeping everything organized
Work Smarter, Not Harder

Fortunately, digital tools have evolved to help self-employed individuals to keep track of their expenses and receipts. With QuickBooks Receipt Scanner, a smartphone camera becomes a scanner. By taking a photo of the receipt, a digital file is uploaded to QuickBooks. Now, losing a receipt isn’t the end of the world; the digital image will remain and can be used when it’s time to review expenses at tax time.

This functionality directly addresses a set of challenges that self-employed individuals repeated throughout the study: keeping track of the receipts, finding the receipts, and putting the receipts all in one place.

Weird But Necessary

Despite confusion regarding what can be deducted, survey respondents were able to recall some of the more … odd items they have deducted for business-related purposes. Some of our favorite responses:
  • Trip to the Zoo
  • Banana
  • Cow
  • Shrunken Head
  • Mustard
  • Dog Walking
  • Inflatable Snowman
  • Feather Duster
There were a few other more “colorful” items, but we’ll keep this PG for business purposes.

QuickBooks surveyed 500 self-employed people about their business expenses and receipts throughout the US in May 2018. The sample was selected by Pollfish. QuickBooks welcomes the re-use of this data under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original source is cited with attribution to


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can and Should Your Business Go Paperless

Is your printer constantly warm? Do your regular customers get receipts a mile long? If so, then you may have considered going paperless more than once in recent years.

The paperless movement is on the rise, now that so much of our information can be stored digitally. With a recent but ongoing push toward green initiatives and sustainability in the corporate world, you may be wondering if your business is using too much paper. The truth is, it probably is. Matt Peterson reports on Forbes that for every 30 copies printed, 39% are trashed. That’s a lot of preventable waste heading to the landfill or recycling center.

However, just because everyone else seems to be talking about going paperless doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Some businesses can benefit from ditching the printer, while others suffer. 

Can (and should) your business go paperless?

Apps and Cloud-Based Services

One of the reasons going paperless is becoming “trendy” in the business world is because the way we do business is changing. There are many companies operating in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space, and many others participating in the “sharing economy”, which includes services like ride-sharing.

Currently, around 9829 companies participate in the sharing economy and more enter space each year. These services use apps and cloud-based platforms, which makes it simple for a company in these industries to go paperless from the very beginning. With other companies catering more to the demands of customers who are becoming increasingly mobile, the need for print materials has been drastically reduced.

Before you can decide if your company can cut the printer cord, ask yourself a few questions.

What Type of Business Do You Run?

The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to go paperless is the type of business you run. There are some industries (such as accounting or insurance) that could benefit immensely by reducing or eliminating paper records.

For example, if you’re an upcoming entrepreneur in the healthcare industry, then you probably help develop or maintain some of the 165,000 mHealth applications that allow patients to view health records from the convenience of a smartphone. However, if you run an e-commerce business and need to include invoices in your shipments, going paperless might not be as convenient or realistic.

Going Paperless Helps the Environment

Of course, one of the main reasons so many businesses are moving toward paperless operations is sustainability. It’s a much more environmentally-friendly option than using paper, since paper adds up to about 25% of the waste found in landfills, and causes the emissions of millions of tons of greenhouse gases. As we move toward sustainable changes like a circular economy, these changes can be a huge boon for the environment.

Paper isn’t the only environmental hazard caused by printing. The ink itself contains chemicals and heavy metals that can pose a risk to the environment if allowed to break down in a landfill and enter the soil.

Production of ink also requires the use of fossil fuels, which put a strain on the environment. Even recycling isn’t 100% clean since it takes energy and fuel to process the paper for recycling. Not all paper can be recycled, so some will end up in a landfill regardless.

Cheap and Convenient

In addition to being environmentally friendly, going paperless is cheap and convenient in the long run. Initially, making substitutions and ensuring that all necessary information is available digitally can be a slow and frustrating process, but it’s more convenient over time.

This is especially true if you’re like 80% of business executives that are planning to outsource or expand business internationally. Just imagine managing and organizing all of that paperwork! Or even consider how much money you save by not having to mail documents back and forth.

Any business looking to cut costs and increase efficiency in 2018 should consider making the switch. Going paperless can mean that more tasks can be automated, information can be backed up, and updates can be made quickly.

Security Risks, Fire Risks

Of course, cutting out paper isn’t without its downsides. Cyber attacks and data breaches are on the rise, and it can be difficult to stay one step ahead of hackers.

Many experts agree that it’s impossible to prevent all breaches and that the best businesses can do is apply security measures and have a damage control plan in case of a data breach. If customers’ data is compromised, they can lose faith in business quickly, or worse, the data could be deleted altogether, interrupting normal operations.

Most Americans have been victims of cyber attacks on major organizations, putting credit card information and even social security numbers at risk. Though the likelihood for the loss of physical data is much lower than for digital data, physical documents can also be at risk from theft, fire, or other damages.

Little Inconveniences and Viable Substitutes

While it’s easy to shift most operations over to paperless options, there are some small inconveniences and substitutions that need to be made. Document signing, faxing, and other traditionally paper-based tasks must be switched over to digital programs. Many of these are cloud-based, but most charge a fee for businesses for a certain amount of usage each month.

Depending on these costs, sticking with paper might make more sense for some businesses. However, some customers don’t have easy access to printers, fax machines, and other equipment they might need to share, and would prefer online forms and e-signature options.

Going Paper Light?

So should you go paperless? That just depends on the kind of business you run and your current dependency on paper. More and more customers these days want to support sustainable businesses, but it’s not always possible to completely cut out physical documents. If you can’t go fully paperless, you may want to consider going paper light.

Not all businesses can afford to get rid of paper altogether, but most could stand to cut down on how much they use. Think before you print. What really needs to exist in physical form? Probably less than you think.

Image Credit: Depositphotos

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

QuickBooks Apps to Improve Your Small Business

As any small business owner will tell you, running a business is a constant battle to find more time.

More time to sell the product, more time to supervise employees, more time to manage inventory and stock, and more time to handle any of the endless tasks and activities that come with running a business.

The good news is that there are other, far more accessible tools out there that can help the small business owner get their time back. Check out the following list of Quickbooks applications to help you better manage, and improve, your business more effectively.

Stripe and PayPal Sync

As two of the most popular digital platforms in the world to send and receive money through, Stripe and PayPal are used by merchants and customers alike.

With so many payments being processed through either Stripe or PayPal small business owners often find themselves giving themselves more work importing each individual transaction into their Quickbooks account.

With the Stripe and PayPal Sync app, small business owners can eliminate all the manual work involved and automate the entire process.

Through a simple 5-step setup process, small business owners can immediately sync their Stripe or PayPal accounts to Quickbooks. From there every single transaction or payment made will automatically be imported to Quickbooks, allowing small business owners to track all their transactions, everything from incomes, fees, to expenses, without ever having to leave Quickbooks.

Add Stripe and PayPal Sync to QuickBooks

TSheets Time Tracking

Whether you’re managing a team of employees or hiring our sub-contractors you need to be able to accurately track when they’re working.

Traditionally that process either involved having to keep a manual timesheet and entering the data into your accounting software when you had time. Not only this process slow and time-consuming, but it can also lead to mistakes being made like team members not getting paid correctly or on time.

By using the TSheets Time Tracking app, you’ll be able to monitor your team’s work hours directly from Quickbooks Online. With their mobile app all employees can easily clock in through their phone or computer and their time data will automatically sync to your Quickbooks account in real-time.

As the small business owner all you have to do is open up your Quickbooks account and you’ll be able to edit, review, and approve timesheets and invoices without ever having to switch to a different program. With any changes you make syncing up immediately with TSheets as well so all your information is accurate and up-to-date.

Add TSheets to QuickBooks

Inventory by erplain

For small business owners who manage physical products, managing inventory is a huge task in and of itself. In-between dealing with suppliers and ensuring that your product actually gets to the customer, you need a robust tool that can help you manage your inventory without the endless administration and potential for mistakes.

This is where Inventory by erplain comes in handy.

For one thing, with Inventory by erplain small business owners will be able to sync up their products and inventory with their Quickbooks account in real-time. Allowing owners to keep track of their stock and inventory before it actually gets invoiced.

Another perk of this particular app is that it also provides drop shipping support, allows tracking for products that contain multiple components, as well as allowing owners to easily track inventory across multiple locations through their easy-to-use interface.

Add Inventory by erplain to QuickBooks


A large headache for many small business owners is keeping track of company expenses, whether that’s the company credit card, tracking mileage, or getting a handle on suppliers and sub-contractors.

Using the Expensify app you can go entirely paperless by having all your expenses sync up directly with Quickbooks. Even if you’re a business that handles multiple paper receipts, all you have to do is use the Expensify mobile app and take a picture of it and it’ll immediately transcribe all the necessary information into an expense report for you.

Add Expensify to QuickBooks


Being able to make data-driven strategic decisions is key for any growing business. The problem with that is that unless you happen to have the money for a full-time accountant, it’s difficult for small business owners to find the time to create the spreadsheets and reports necessary to make those decisions.

LivePlan solves that with their easy-to-understand dashboard which breaks down the key metrics and sets of data for small businesses. By syncing up directly with your Quickbooks, LivePlan pulls through all relevant data to quick build financial forecasts and budgets for you without having to plug through numbers in a spreadsheet. The app goes even further by showing you how you compare with competitors using Industry Benchmark data.

This means that you can save so much more time when handling your finances, as well as be able to quickly gather the data you need to make the right decisions for your business.

Add LivePlan to QuickBooks


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

2019 Tax Scams Targeting Your Small Business

Guard Your Business’ Tax Information

With the continued adoption of going “digital,” small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) they have become increasingly vulnerable to cybercrime. This transformation, combined with fewer checks and balances inherent with a smaller team, is one of the primary reasons why SMBs are ideal targets for data thieves every tax season.

By making minor tweaks to their tried and tested fraud techniques, criminals can dupe small business owners and employees into falling for comparable cons each year. Here are some data scams targeting small businesses to be aware of as we approach the 2019 tax season.

Business-Related W-2 Scams

The IRS recently warned SMBs of the rising threat of W-2 scams, where hackers lure payroll and human resources professionals to share sensitive tax information via a bogus email. By the end of the email exchange, your employees’ W-2 Forms could be in the hands of cybercriminals.

In another scam, companies applying for Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) are being tricked into signing up through fraudulent websites. Like your Social Security Number, your EIN is required for business bank, loan, and credit accounts as well as state and federal tax filing. Only apply for your EIN by filing a SS-4 Form through the IRS.

Red flags indicating your business identity has been stolen:

You’re rejected from requesting a tax extension or sending an e-filed return because a return with your company’s EIN is already on file.

Your business receives an unexpected tax transcript receipt or IRS notice that doesn’t correspond to your return.

You fail to receive expected communication from the IRS because fraudsters have changed the address on your application.

Scams Targeting Tax Preparers

Tax preparers are often small businesses, helping consumers and SMBs in their community to prepare on time and accurately. Their database is a treasure trove of tax information, making them a target for scammers, cybercriminals, and identity thieves this tax season.

In 2018, the IRS received five to seven reports per week from tax professionals that experienced data theft.

The IRS requires tax preparers to create and endorse a security plan to protect client data and their computer networks from the threat of a hack. If using a tax professional to prepare your business return, be sure to confirm their credibility by asking for their Preparer Tax Identification Number. And, don’t trust your business’ information to anyone without first verifying their CPA status.

IRS Services Limited Due to Government Shutdown

As the government shutdown continues with no end date in sight, small businesses are all wondering if tax returns will be postponed. The IRS claims it is “business as usual” and tax refunds will be issued, albeit likely delayed.

Due to very limited IRS availability, do not expect your tax-related questions to be answered while the shutdown continues. You may also experience a delay in receiving your Employer Identification Number (EIN), which interrupts your ability to process your business tax return and other financial obligations. As previously mentioned, don’t be tempted to trust third-party websites to create your EIN.

It’s always important to be alert and aware of how you are protecting your organizational, employee, and customer data, but it’s especially during tax season. Avoid damaging the trust of your clients and your business’ reputation by letting hackers penetrate your small business.

Tips to Protect Your Small Business from Tax Scams

  1. Create a system of checks and balances. Have a trusted member of your executive team or an independent tax agent double check your processes.
  2. Train employees to recognize W-2 phishing scams. The IRS will never call or email you for tax-related information. They will first contact your organization via carrier mail.
  3. Keep up to date with the latest tax scams: The IRS keeps a running list of scams for consumers and businesses to be aware of, called “The Dirty Dozen”.


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Prevent Cash Flow Problems in Your Small Business – Read These 3 Tips

One of the biggest problems faced by small businesses is consistent cash flow. A US Bank study found that cash flow problems account for why 82% of small businesses fail!

It’s understandable; many people who start businesses do so because they have a passion, not business experience. They want to fix a problem they see, or they want to share their creativity with the world. They may not have the business know how or understand what systems they need to put into place to keep theirbusiness afloat.

How to Prevent Cash Flow Problems

Here’s how you can avoid that cash flow crunch for yourself and keep your business (and personal life) running.
Have an Invoicing System

Handling all your invoices yourself is a sure fire way to get behind, miss details, or forget to follow up on late payments. You can’t keep your invoice to do list in your head, and updating a spreadsheet is a task that many dread.

Having an invoicing system like Due means you can create a template for your invoices, set up recurring payments, automatically set reminders to go out a certain amount of days beyond the due date. All those things that currently take up your brain space and work time? Due can do them for you.

Having automated invoices for recurring clients can mean regular payments. Reminders to late clients means there won’t be month long gaps between payments. These help insure there’s always cash coming in.

Invoice More Than Once a Month

A common trend in freelancing or small business work is to invoice only once a month- at the end, when you’ve completed all the work for each client.

There’s no law that says that’s what you have to do. And a great way to avoid a cash flow crunch in your business is to invoice as soon as you’re done with a client’s work. Sending out invoices throughout the month means that payments should come in throughout the month.

Set Up Systems ASAP

The more systems and structure you have in your business, the better off you’ll be. Having an invoicing software is one system. What else can you systematize?

Have templates for common emails you send; requests for your bio and head shot, pitches, etc.

Set up automated emails and marketing funnels; automating emails is a huge time saver and can generate sales.

Client management software; track warm and cold leads, send out contracts, and save data with a client management software.

Having systems in place will make it easier for cash to flow freely through your business. Often payments will get held up because there is a breakdown in a system or because there is no system. Avoid a cash flow crunch by keeping channels open and running smoothly.


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Hiring An Outside Expert For Your Family Business

One of the of the trickiest thing for a family business to do is to ask for help from an outsider, whether it’s bringing on an expert as a full-time employee, a consultant or a board member. But to take a family business to the next level, tackle thorny challenges and receive no-holds-barred feedback, sometimes you need to do just that.

It’s tricky, though. Pulling back the curtains to non-family members requires trust and a willingness to listen and to learn.

For insight on when and how to find an outside expert for a family business, I reached out to Ted Clark, Northeastern University Center for Family Business executive professor of entrepreneurship and innovation and director of the Center for Family Business. Clark is also on the board of, from the University of St. Thomas’ Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange — — a social media platform for new business ventures. (Full disclosure: The Schulze Foundation, which funds EIX, is also a funder of Next Avenue.)

Next Avenue: When should a family business look for an outside expert?

Ted Clark: I would say as soon as you need one at any particular point in time. Bringing in a non-family employee can happen immediately, if you need someone to support the business.

The same with the board. You can’t do it soon enough.

Isn't there a psychological or ego issue — the insider versus the outsider issue?

From the perspective of a functioning family business, I would turn it around. If you’re thinking that you don't need these people — ‘We are smarter than the rest of the world. We don’t need outsider perspectives.’ — it’s really a question of how long can that last? Seriously!

To think for one second that you can be disconnected and unconnected from the outside world, that is not reasonable. If you are in the situation where your family is saying ‘We don’t need outside people,’ that is a sign that you need some outside people.

Does it depend on the way the family business is set up?

There are three types of family businesses.

There’s the monarchy or aristocracy, where there is the king or the queen, and one person is in charge. That is the family business that gets the bad rap of not needing outside people.

You see the king or the queen, who either started the business or have been running it for a long time, and they are very confident in their abilities and may have had success by not listening to the experts and charting a different course and being an innovator. It is difficult for them to hear somebody new, or an outside perspective. But if the business is faltering or not working well, that is the time that person hopefully acknowledges that yeah, maybe the world has changed. and they do need a new vision and perspective from the outside.

The next kind of family business is when siblings own the business. You move away from a monarchy to an oligarchy. That group is typically a little more prone to bringing in outsiders, because they have lived with the monarchy, and they may have seen sometimes the monarch gets a little long in the tooth and needs a new view of the world.

The third type of family business is the diffused type where there are multiple owners and more of a democratic structure. Those almost always have a board of advisers. And quite often a board of directors. They are the aspirational model of a family business: outside advisers, board of directors, meetings, openness, transparency. It takes a while to get there.


Is there a business case for bringing in an outsider as a consultant rather than as a full-time employee?

Yes. You bring in the expert employee — great voice, great vision, great everything — but all their eggs are in one basket of being an employee. And they may not necessarily give you the best advice for fear that they will upset you or that if they say something the monarch is not pleased with it, it could jeopardize their career or future employment. Sometimes, although these people are experts, they may be reluctant to provide advice and the owner may be reluctant to accept it. So, there is great risk there.

The upside with consultants is that it is temporary. It should be a transactional relationship. By that I mean, they provide a service and then move on. You can reengage them and hire them again.

But the idea here is you want someone to be able to look you in the eye and tell you that with all honesty, in a diplomatic way, that is the dumbest thing they have ever heard, without any fear of losing their employment with you because they know it is transactional.

So, you will hopefully listen to them. They are telling you the truth because they have nothing to lose.

If you’re hiring an outside expert, are you looking for a trusted adviser?

One of the things in family businesses that drives me nuts is the term “trusted adviser.” I don’t want to trust an adviser. I want a truthful adviser. Trusted adviser also sort of implies forever, too. I don't want them to think this is forever. As the business changes, my needs change; as I change, my needs change.

You shouldn’t feel you should keep them forever and they shouldn’t feel they are stuck here for life.

What’s the best way to look for experts?

There are two general ways to go.

First, you can openly broadcast that you are looking for people or go to your attorney, say, to push out information. ‘Kerry’s company is looking for a marketing expert to be on their board.’ People connect in and send a resumé and then you can have a conversation with them.

That is not my preferred method.

My preferred method is to do it blindly. So, you would go to the same group of people — like your accountant or your attorney — but you as the business owner should never approach these [potential experts] directly.

Say, for example, you are looking for an expert with my expertise and your accountant called me and said ‘Hey, there is a company looking for someone with expertise in your realm. Would you be interested?’ I might say ‘yes’ and send my resumé, and they would forward to you, and I would not know who the company is.

The thought here is if they reject me, I don’t have bad feelings about the company since I have never met them.

What are the rewards of having outside voices at a family business?
If there is conflict in the family, it is partially reduced, because bringing in outside people puts the family on their best behavior.

You don’t want to act like a 12-year-old in front of a bunch of adults. When you bring in the outsiders, you need to act more appropriately, so it elevates the conversation.

If you have been honest and set goals, it helps achieve the goals. Everyone wins.

Image Credit: Getty

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

4 Ways to Teach Your Children Financial Responsibility

Set your children on the path to a lifetime of financial stability and fiscal responsibility by helping them learn these four fundamental money lessons.

Americans are facing a personal finance crisis. Almost 60% of all working age Americans have no retirement savings. And dealing with unexpected expenses can be a hardship for many families without savings. In fact, 4 in 10 adults could not cover a $400 emergency expense.

We need to make sure the next generation is better prepared, and that means helping children form healthy financial habits and relationships with money at a very young age.

The good thing is, most parents understand this need. Edelman Financial Engines recently surveyed 1,000 parents and found that over half (56%) believe children should start learning good financial habits when they are between 4 and 8 years old. Nearly half (49%) of parents also said their greatest difficulty talking to their kids about money is doing it in a way the kids would understand.

In my new children’s book, The Squirrel Manifesto, my wife, Jean, and I tackle this problem head-on and give parents an easy way to talk with their kids about how to form good financial habits. We equate it to the way squirrels gather nuts to prepare for winter, eating some nuts now and storing some for later.

These are the four important lessons we believe children need to learn to be set up for financial success throughout their lives:

Tax a Little

The first time most of us learned that we don’t get to keep everything we earn was when we saw our first paycheck and wondered why the government was taking so much of our money.

Children need to learn from an early age that they don’t get to keep everything they earn. Consider withholding one-third of a child’s earnings and call it a tax, so they get used to the concept. Parents can put these “taxes” into a savings or investment account and hand over the funds when the child is ready to pay for a big purchase, such as college tuition or a car.

Spend a Little

It’s important to let children experience the joy of buying something they want with the money they earn or receive as a gift. Being able to purchase a comic book, toy or piece of candy will help them develop a positive relationship with money and teach them valuable lessons about how much things cost and how much they’re worth.

Save a Little

Most of the time when parents talk with their kids about money, it’s in the context of saving. In fact, our survey found that 86% of parents have this conversation with their children.

One practical way to teach children the importance of saving is by helping them set aside money for a big-ticket item, like a bicycle or electronic device. When children are trained at an early age to save toward larger purchases, they will develop the right mindset and self-discipline to save for future life milestones, such as buying a house or retiring.

Give a Little

Children need to be taught at a young age that they have a responsibility to give back by supporting worthy causes or helping others who are less fortunate. For every dollar a child receives, parents should have a conversation with them about what portion should go to philanthropy. The percentage should be material, to reflect true sacrifice, and applied consistently to all money the child earns or is given. Children should be empowered to decide who receives the money, whether it is a charity, a church or a friend in need. By developing a sense of philanthropy early in life, children will come to appreciate that the greatest joy in spending comes from supporting and caring for others, not spending on themselves.

Teaching children these fundamental money principles at an early age will set them up for a lifetime of financial security. As we say in our book, “If we save just a little, a couple nuts at a time, it leads to what matters: Squirrel Peace of Mind.”

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Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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