Plan for working at home

Working a full-time job I usually get home and find my motivation drained and I wind up spending the rest of my afternoon and evening doing nothing to improve my situation. I just can’t seem to plug my work ethic into my spare time.

I thought about how I can run a business from home. On the clock I do great. I clearly define a task and work hard at it until it is completed. Then it’s on to the next. It’s all a series of tasks and sticking to one at a time. The hard thing at work is when I’m not sure about something and I can’t move forward until that gets cleared up.

The boss has the knowledge and authority to help me out when that happens. He can make executive decisions or talk to the right people to get things clarified or changed. In my own business I need to be the man to talk to. I need to come up with specific job descriptions so I can see what exactly I am going to do in the amount of time I have. I need to specify what tasks need to be done.

Sometimes its a matter of pushing through rough spots. At work I find times when the task is a real drag. I’d like to just move on to something else, but there will be consequences so I just have to keep going. At home I usually stop when it starts to drag. There is no immediate consequence besides feelings of failure and inadequacy. No big deal. What I need to do is act as though I am going to a second job. I clock in, work part time hours and clock out when I’m done, and not a second before. That way I will be on someone else’s time, I’ll be working for myself.

I can tell people I have a second job. Is it a lie? No, unless I don’t perform. I have to treat myself like a boss. I must think of myself as a separate entity, someone to return and report to at the end of the day or week.

At this job I will be boss, supervisor, and underling. I’ll have the flexibility of experiencing every role. I can dictate my own wage, and know just how much I am capable of making. If I want a day off I’ll know exactly how it will affect my business and whether or not I can afford to take time off.

This job can be an excuse to not do things, go places, or deal with people I don’t want to. I can say that I have to work, or that I don’t have that day off. I can say that I have to get up early tomorrow morning for work, so I can’t stay very long.

Will I be able to be productive on the job? Well, I’ll have to figure out what tasks need to be done to be profitable. When I am feeling motivated I can make plans and move things forward. When I feel like just going through the motions I will have specific tasks to accomplish so I can just put the time in and know that I have done the business good.

10 Small Things

I don’t know of one big secret to becoming financially independent. Here are 10 little things I can do.

1. Maintain a steady source of income
2. Make sure your income is greater than your expenses
3. Save a portion of everything you earn
4. Minimize necessary spending
5. Cut out unnecessary spending
6. Work smarter, not harder
7. Make your money work for you
8. Increase your income (get a raise, add an income stream, find a better paying job)
9. Develop an emergency fund
10. Give back

These seem simple enough, but realizing them is a bit harder. To make things even more manageable I will break them down again.

1. Maintain a steady stream of income
– Find a day job
– Keep a day job
– Make yourself more valuable within that job

2. Make sure your income is greater than your expenses
– List all your expenditures over the last month or two
– Figure out whether you are living within your means
– Write down each necessary item on one list and save for step 4
– Write down each unnecessary item on another list and save for step 5

3. Save a portion of everything you earn
– Find out how much of your income goes towards fixed expenses
– Pick a percentage of what is left
– Set that much aside every time you get paid
– Leave that money alone

4. Minimize necessary spending
– Look at list of necessaries
– Seek a discount or cheaper alternative for each
– Decide whether it is really a necessary expenditure
– When you are about to acquire a new expense (internet, car, longer commute, etc.) restart this process.

5.Cut unnecessary spending
– Look at your list of unnecessary items
– Keep it handy
– When you feel the urge to spend money on something, check to see if it is on the list
– If it is not on the list, decide whether it belongs there or on your other list
– If it is on the list, don’t spend the money

6. Work smarter, not harder
– Keep your work space clean and organized
– Sharpen the saw (take care of yourself and your equipment)
– Eliminate distractions
– Get enough sleep to function properly
– Seek additional education and training
– Take breaks to avoid burn out

7. Make your money work for you
– Try to buy things that won’t lose their value
– Buy things that will appreciate in value
– Add to your career education and training
– Learn a new skill
– Get a savings account with higher interest

8. Increase your income
– Ask for a raise
– Add an income stream
– Find a better paying job

9. Develop an emergency fund
– Figure out how much you would need to function for one month with no income
– Start saving a portion of your income until you have one month’s expenses in reserve
– When you have one month saved, go for six months
– Have at least $500 set aside for car trouble, preferably $1,000
– Keep it in cash

10. Give back
– Recognize how lucky you are to be where you are and have what you have, even if it isn’t much
– Help someone out of a bind
– Pay for someone’s lunch
– Gas up someone’s car
– Help someone find gainful employment
– Teach a man to fish

How To Come Up With 50 Dollars

A few minutes browsing through YouTube will show how many people have used the following methods to come up with some extra cash. These aren’t get rich quick schemes, and it may not happen over night, but they are proven methods. Some of these ideas might produce the full sum all at once, while others require the accumulation of several sales, gigs, or items. What’s cool is that there’s something for everyone. Happy hustling!

How to come up with 50 dollars:

1. Scavenging scrap – electronics, garbage, up-cycle crafts, cleanup and removal

2. Turn over items – books, bikes, furniture, random items online

3. Garage sale – pretty self explanatory

4. Art – sculptures, paintings, drawings, poetry, crafts

5. Writing – copy, filler, blog, magazine,

6. Services – windows, cleaning, yard work, handyman, babysitting, pet care

7. Teaching/tutoring – music, math, English, software, yoga

8. Space for rent – storage space, car, yard, internet

9. Mobility – carpool, haul stuff from place to place,

10. Security – house sitting, installation of home security stuff, varmint duty,

11. Maintenance – simple car, outdoors equipment, yard, electronics

12. Repair – electronics, house interior, furniture, appliances

This is a pretty general list, so if you want more specifics or just more ideas shoot me a comment and subscribe for more!

30-Day’s Cash

How much cash does a person need to survive a month of no income? While we cannot plan for every emergency, we can give ourselves a safety net that will give us a little peace of mind. If you were to lose your job for some reason, you would have at least one month to find work or retrain. Here are some things to take into account when planning your 30 day emergency fund.

Gas

What if gas prices are high? How far would a tank of gas get you? What if gas prices rose to twice what they are now?

Currency

What kind of currency will you need? Precious metals may ride out any fluctuations in the dollar value but what happens when it comes to paying? It is a good idea to have your cash in small bills and some coins. If you have nothing but hundred-dollar bills and there is no way to get change then you may be forced to pay a hundred dollars for something that only costs a few bucks.

Emergencies

What unexpected problems might eat up your cash, like car trouble, medical problems, or plumbing disasters? It is impossible to know whether it will be minor or devastating, but a few hundred bucks already set aside is a great blessing whatever happens. You will be glad you did.

Food

How much do you spend per month on food? Such a time would certainly demand that you cut down on outings and pizza nights. However, just because the future is bleak doesn’t mean you’ll have to boil leather either. You need good nourishment, especially in stressful situations. Save enough to be able to eat well and even have a few comfort foods.

Though this article is focused on money, I should mention that in addition to your financial reserve you need an actual storage of food. Stocking up now gives you the freedom to find foods on sale or wait for case lot sales. We cannot hope that food will be cheap when we need it most. The same goes for fuel and clothing.

Season

You never know what time of the year you may need to pull out the emergency fund. What difference is there in your expenses during the winter vs. summer? Imagine an exceptionally cold winter. The cost to heat your house could rise outside the planned budget, which could throw your whole budget out of proportion.

Education

What if you had to get some kind of training to be able to work again? A mechanic from fifty years ago would have a hard time finding work in these days of computerized cars and alternative fuels. Who knows what new of technological advances might render your marketable skills cheap or useless? Statistics show that the average person changes jobs seven times in their lifetime. The odds are not in our favor that our current employment will last us our lifetime. Things happen and times change. At the very least, you should expect to have to upgrade your skills. 

Security

Another issue to plan for is where you are going to keep all this cash. The logical place would be the bank. What happens if your bank shuts down for some reason? (Insert a few examples) The alternative would be keeping it in your home. Obviously, this presents some risk. A coffee can with thousands of dollars is enough to entice all kinds of scum. A safe box is a good investment if only to stash important documents. There is a variety of such boxes on the market. There is a box for whatever level of security you want, be it child-proof, waterproof, crush proof, fire-proof, or all the above.

After everything, though your first and greatest line of defense will be a zipper on your lip. This is not fool-proof though and should be backed up. If it becomes common knowledge that you keep cash stashed in your home you might be able to feed that rumor a red herring. Find a reliable blabbermouth and let slip that you moved it to a bank. On the other hand, you might make it so outrageous that it turns into myth. You could say that you have an underground vault with armed guards or that you spent it gambling.

Safe boxes are a good idea, but a burglar might just decide to take it with him and crack it elsewhere. A better idea is to get a floor safe or come up with a hidden place to stash your cash. It wouldn’t hurt to find a way to camouflage or hide your safe, like building it into the wall or some such ploy. The poor man’s version might be to stick with the traditional coffee can under the bed. Who does that these days anyway?

How do I start?

For even those with no one depending on him or her all this adds up to a pretty big price tag. However, for anyone who is working, it should not be very hard to set aside the necessary cash. It might take a while, but if you are living within your means then there should be a few bucks every month that you can put in a can. Keep the cash separated and labeled so that you know exactly what you have covered. Something I used to do is use envelopes and write on them what the money inside was for. That was before I upgraded to the underground vault.

It doesn’t make sense to put yourself into debt or take away from current expenses to reach your goal. There are a few ways to accomplish this. You might find financial drains that can be plugged or funneled into your 30-day savings. Some examples of such drains are as follows: household inefficiencies (wasting water, and other utilities), frequently eating out, toys (electronic gadgets, motorized recreation, etc.), home improvements, trips and vacations, TV, etc. Understand, I’m not saying that these things are bad, but when one’s spending is beyond one’s means there is a problem, and a little evaluation could fix it. You know what is essential and what really is not. It can be hard to change some spending habits, but imagine how you feel when there is too much month at the end of the money and you recall where your money went. When food gets scarce or the kids are sick, it gets hard to justify having a boat.

The first thing you should do after deciding to act is make a plan. Plan whether you will save by redirecting funds, finding part-time work, or both. There are many plans on the internet that help people painlessly amass a respectable sum over time. A secondary source of income might even become your primary source if things go awry at work. Use your own judgment to figure out how aggressively you will save and how soon you will reach your goal. Eventually this fund should be increased to six months and then a year but 30 days is a practical start, plus it will put you in the right mindset to continue saving.

Paper Work

Determined to do things right the first time, I walked into the city hall to get a business license. A nice lady handed me a form and instructed me that I needed to register online in the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code and then fill out the municipal form and hand it in to be considered/rehashed. I would then be told, in two or more weeks, if my application had been accepted. Then it would cost about $75 for the license. The reason for the state of our economy became a little clearer that day. I’d imagined that I would have the form done and handed in by later that day. Actually it took me a couple of days just to get the online registration figured out. I had to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) before even starting that process.

I had to learn about the different business organizations, and discern which applied to me. This all probably sounds amusing to those who have done business for years or have been to business school, but most of this I learned as I figured out what to put on the forms.

For those who are just as ignorant as I, someday I’ll write my understanding of each business organization (with a link to the real definitions). As I delve into this maze of policies and regulations I’ll try to keep checking in here, that those who come after might have a reference of what they need to do (or not do) to get their business off the ground.

Sometimes you just need to step back and remind yourself that it’s possible, that others have done it, and that you have what it takes to make it happen if you just apply yourself and don’t let the thick of things sap your strength. In football they taught us to keep our feet moving and chopping with such intensity that our opponents would hesitate to grab hold of us, and if they did then we might break their grip. If we were doing the tackling then we needed to have so much power behind us that grip didn’t matter. Nothing is more exhausting than paper work.

—Post Ideas—

  1. Thrift ideas and paradigms from The Tightwad Gazette
  2. Study the scriptures for teachings found on value, wealth and finances.
  3. starting a business,
  4. getting the paperwork out-of-the-way, 5 most commonly used business organizations, taxes, municipal licensing, and all that comes with it.
  5. a typical bid
  6. capital, and buying equipment for the job
  7. on the job
  8. Employees

Pounding the Pavement

On a Saturday I had nothing going on but a fire in my bones to move forward and accomplish something. Instead of sitting down with pen and page to plot business ideas I decided to get out and try.

I chose window cleaning for several reasons. Firstly, a cousin of mine had a similar business and it had worked out pretty well for him and his friends. Second, it requires much less capital than most ideas I had kicking around in my head. Then, I have had a bit of experience from working for a janitorial service. Also, heights don’t bother me like they do many people.

So 8:00 Saturday morning I took off for main street. I was nervous but determined. Doing my best impression of Gregory Peck, I strode up to a hardware store. The first thing I did was buy myself a tape measure to help me get an estimate on prospective jobs. I bought the tape and then asked the employee if they would like to get their windows cleaned. The first thing I learned is that the manager makes those kinds of decisions. I also learned that most managers don’t work on Saturdays. Call back on Monday.

I went on to enter another 20 stores and businesses, offering window cleaning services. I learned several more things before I decided I’d had enough. Most businesses don’t open until 9 or 10:00 on Saturdays, and some don’t even open. Mondays are the best time to find managers at work. A business card is very convenient (though I’m glad I could work out some bugs before setting my offer in stone). Most people will want your card to call if they decide they want you. It is good to ask for referrals from everyone and anyone.

Everyone I met was very nice and polite, but, en fin I had contacted about 30 people and still didn’t have any work.

I noticed a couple of buildings that really needed cleaning up on the exterior but they were empty and up for sale or lease. Then I had the idea to call the real estate agency and see if they would let me bid on some of their buildings around town. If I could land a job like that I would be plenty busy and then I’d be able to show the locals my work. I called a couple different agencies and one accepted to let me bid on a building. Though I still didn’t have anything definite, that was enough to keep me from scrapping the endeavor. I felt like that was a decent start and rewarded myself with a doughnut. The bakery took my number but said they already had a regular cleaning.

I kept hearing that a guy came by regularly to wash everyone’s windows and that the guy was handicapped. One employee mentioned that he knew the man and said that he was considering quitting the profession. This was some interesting news. News that just might define the fate of my business. Had I given up after the first few establishments I wouldn’t have learned this valuable insight. It was like one of those omens mentioned in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.