Saturday, June 23, 2018

Should you go back to school in later life?

I was chatting with some mommies from my sons' school the other day. They were asking me about my work-at-home career. One of them was a housewife and the other one was a manager at a company. The housewife wanted to earn money from home while the manager wanted to quit her job so she can spend more time with her kids. We got to talk about how our sons' school was looking for more teachers and we tossed around the idea of getting an education degree and applying as school teachers. I got excited enough to even ask my husband about it later that day.

Me back to school again at 41? If I had an education degree, I can always find a job, to be honest. Here and abroad (fingers crossed!). My husband and I have been wondering about migrating to another country since we don't feel good about what's happening in our country in the last two years but no one's looking for our skills so maybe it's time to learn new ones and earn new degrees. 

I also feel that I'm falling behind because it's a fast-changing world. My boss, the people I work with now, and my mentors are all about a decade younger than me. I've been looking at online courses, distance-education colleges, and workshops so that I can learn new skills to be on equal footing with my younger colleagues.

The problem is going back to school means time. I barely have enough time to get through my day! Plus, a new degree will cost money and we're already pouring a huge chunk of our income into the kids' education. That’s why I'm thinking think long and hard about this. If you're in the same boat as I am, these 3 questions will help you decide whether you should go back to school in later life.

Can You Afford It?
This is the first thing to consider because college is so expensive. An MBA and PhD don't come cheap either. If you can’t afford it, you might end up landing yourself in some serious financial trouble. Think about the impact of 4 years without an income.

If your husband can support you both, you might be ok. But if not, you need to work out how you’re going to pay the bills. If you have a healthy savings account, that might sustain you, but then you’ve to decide whether you want to spend all of that and start saving for the future all over again. You may also be able to get a loan to go back to college but again, think about whether you want to take on that huge amount of debt at this stage in your life.

Is There Another Way?
Thinking about what your motivation actually is can help you to decide whether it’s the right choice. If you’re thinking about it because you feel that your younger colleagues are more qualified than you, that’s not always the best reason. As long as you’re happy in your job and you have the skills you need to do it well, you don’t really need to get a new degree.

However, if you’re looking at moving into a position that requires a certain degree, then you will have to go back into education. But that doesn’t always mean having to go back to college full time. You can do an online msw program in your spare time. Being able to do the degree from home while you’re still working makes it so much more affordable and you won’t have to leave the job market for 4 years.

Will It Pay Off?
If you do decide that full-time college is the right thing for you, there’s one more question you need to ask yourself before taking the plunge: Will it pay off? If you spend 4 years at college, getting yourself into loads of debt, sacrificing time with your family, and you end up in a job that pays the same salary, is it really worth it? Sometimes, if you change career and that was your motivation, then it’s worth doing. But if you’re going to work in the same industry for the same money, it’s not worth spending all that time and money.

Going back to college in later life is a big decision so ask yourself these 3 questions before you do anything. Good luck to us, mamas! So many things to consider now that the world is changing so fast and everything costs so much more!

*Photo from FlickrThis post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What you can do to make your small business survive

I'm a sole proprietor of my writing business. The business covers my blogging, writing and editing work, and also my few press release assignments. Even though my business is already a few years old, I still don't know everything about making it succeed. I honestly feel that one of the problems is the government. There are so many requirements to submit and so many steps to take to make it legal and keep it that way. There are so many tax forms and taxes to pay. Seriously, how can a business even start or survive when the government systems are hell bent on making it difficult every step of the way?

And mine is just a tiny business! I'm not a food business, I don't make products nor do I sell anything. Those kinds of businesses need even more permits. I do understand that these systems are in place to protect the consumer. I just wish that the government also understands that in order for a country and its citizens to become richer (and thus pay more taxes to fund the politicians' coffers nation's many projects), it has to make everything easier for small business owners, startups, professionals and freelancers. Singapore, for example, makes opening a business so easy because you do everything online. You have a legitimate business set up in one day! How long did it take me to register Frances Jules Amper Sales Writing Services? Two weeks! 

Anyway, here's a guest post today. A few tips on how to make your small business survive. I'll add my notes at the end of each tip!

* * * * * * *  

Small businesses are popular, but it’s rare that they end in success. Whether you’re starting a home business, taking over a family business, or making a business out of your blog, it will be a struggle.

The fact of the matter is that the world is a very treacherous place for small business owners and most will fail to make it. This makes you think; what can you do to ensure your startup survives? While success isn’t guaranteed, there are certain things you can do to help your company have a better chance of succeeding.

Be Active In Your Local Government
A lot of small business owners fail to see how important it is to be active with local government politics. State legislation can make a huge difference in how successful your business will be. I have two suggestions here. 

Firstly, I encourage everyone to vote in local and state elections. As you can see on, there are Secretary of State elections around the corner, and these play a huge role in small business success. If you vote for someone with policies and legislation that benefit small business owners, then it will naturally put you in a better position to succeed. 

Secondly, I suggest you don’t shy away from writing to government officials. This can often be the first step in getting certain laws changed or relaxed to help your business thrive. At the very least, this communication can help you understand laws better and what’s expected of your business.

This is a good tip, mamas. Let's vote for people who are making legislation that helps families (like Senator Risa Hontiveros who authored the Expanded Maternity Leave Act) and lowers income taxes (okay, while Senator Edgardo Angara's lower income tax bill was fantastic, it became part of the awful TRAIN Law that raised taxes on everything else!).

Understand The Ins And Outs Of Tax
Tax is a small word, but it carries massive worries for small businesses. A large proportion of small companies fail because of tax issues. You either don’t pay enough, or you pay too much. Either way, you end up in a situation where money is a real issue. 

Tax can be a huge business expense, so it pays when you learn how to reduce your tax bill as much as possible. Get to grips with the ins and outs of filing your tax return, and your company can save thousands of dollars every year. This could make all the difference in the race for survival. 

Another good tip! If you're on top of your bookkeeping and if you know the best deduction method for your business and your correct tax code, you can pay less to even no income taxes. I'm lucky I have my amazing tax consultants over at Taxumo who helped me figure this all out! Sign up at Taxumo now for all your tax needs!

React When Things Clearly Aren’t Working
There are loads of common reasons behind the decline in small business success rates. In fact, there a whole list on that goes through them all. I want to focus on one point that stood out for me, this idea of not reacting quick enough. When things start going badly for you, you need to react. This might mean changing your business model completely, to adapt to the way the market has changed. When things clearly aren’t working, this is where you must be proactive rather than trying to ride out the storm. 

Yes. I know many businesses that sell only online. Many Pinoys want to touch and feel a product so these online business get lots of inquiries about a physical store. The owners saw this as a sign to join bazaars and expos. This really helped reach a different market (the not-online one!) and also helped market their brand to new customers. 

Everything here applies to small businesses of different types and varieties. Even if your small business is a blog, everything is still applicable. You’ll still be burdened or relieved by government laws, you still pay tax, and you can still go through a period where suddenly your blog doesn’t make money anymore. So, what can you do to make your small business survive? Following the pieces of advice above is a good start.

*Image from Flickr. This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

5 things to cut from your budget ASAP

Enrolment is done! Half the year is over! I hope your bank account is surviving, mamas. If it needs reviving but you can't earn more money, then we'll need to cut some items from the household budget.

 #5: Your Membership To The Gym
If you go to the gym every day, then you can skip this one. Most of us, however, start the year with good intentions and sign up for gym memberships but by the time June rolls along, we've never even stepped inside the gym! I know this because I bought a Gold's Gym membership plan a few years ago but because my schedule was so packed, I only went to the gym maybe 8 times. And I paid for an entire year! So unless you can commit the time, these gym memberships end up being a total waste of money. 

Getting fit need not be at a gym. We know that, right? I exercise right in my living room while watching Netflix. My friends also suggest the many fitness apps you can put on your smartphone that aid in working out and making the process a lot easier. You can also walk or run outside—I do it early in the morning so that it's not too hot and polluted. 

#4: Cable TV 
In today’s world of instantaneous connectivity and insane amount of streaming services and platforms that we have, there simply isn’t any point paying for cable television. We're still subscribed to cable because we have a contract but we watch Netflix more so we're cutting off our cable sub as soon as our contract is over. That's P6,600 we can save a year. 

What I'm also hearing a lot about is the Amazon Fire TV (latest version, the Fire TV Cube, launches this month). It's a digital media player that has access to a wide variety of services that are exactly the ones that you would find with a regular cable television package. But, you actually get to choose what you want to watch, rather than having to contend with the programming that the network has chosen to play. The Amazon Fire TV is a Smart TV Set and it comes with the Firestick Remote, which but can be slightly tricky to set up! Pairing it correctly allows you to access many different platforms and services for television, and there really is no shortage of high-quality programming! 

#3: Your Coffee
Yes, you can have coffee at home. Stop getting those expensive frappes and lattes and whatever concoctions coffee shops keep coming up with. If you have three P95 coffees a day, that's around P5000 you spend on coffee every month. And that's the cheapest cup. If you get the ones with whipped cream and lotsa sugar, you not only get poorer, you also get fatter. 

#2: Transportation You Don't Need
This is a very simple one, but more often than not, we end up driving/getting a taxi to places that are a few blocks away. This ends up having a bad effect on the environment, and it also ends up wasting the money that we spent on gas/fare because we could’ve just walked. 

I walk everywhere. If you see me on the street, say hi! Anyway, our streets are not easy to walk on because they're dirty, not paved well or broken, crowded with vendors, and sometimes the sidewalks disappear entirely! So I understand it that us Pinoys would rather take the car or a cab. But if your destination is near, do try to walk instead. By walking, you burn off calories, you get exercise, and you're saving money on gas and parking as well.

#1: Your Landline 
These days, everyone has a mobile phone. I prefer a postpaid plan (my Smart plan is an old one but it's fantastic because it's unli-data—it's not offered anymore so hooray for me!). But if you prefer a prepaid plan, you can get a prepaid card for just P40. I know because I just got one for my business phone. A mobile phone plan is a better option especially if you're never home. You can make calls, send messages, surf the internet, stream services, play games for the same amount as a landline! So if you cut the cord on your landline, you’ll find yourself saving up a lot. 

Now that you've cut out these five things from your budget, you can now take that money and put it towards things like a vacation or a new car, or a financial goal that inspires you! Happy saving, mamas!

*Article concept by and written with Clarissa Caouette. Image by @rawpixel from Unsplash. This post contains affiliate links.