First Time Donor Super Credit (FTSDC) – The Human Explanation

Today I had the opportunity to meet withJeff Hopper on CTV Ottawa Morning Live to talk about my best tax tips.  We talked about medical expenses, the new rules regarding income-generating websites and a few other things – but by far the most exciting one is the newly-implemented First Time Donor Super Credit. But what is it?  How do you know if you qualify?  And does it really make that much of a difference? So what is it? If eligible, it will add 25% to the federal charitable tax credit.  You may claim this ONCE in the tax years of 2013 through 2017. Do I qualify? Maybe!  If you meet the following criteria, you qualify to claim this credit in 2013: You AND your spouse HAVE NOT claimed any charitable donations on your tax return for the past 5 years (2008 and beyond) You are claiming charitable donations on this year’s tax return. You OR your spouse can claim this credit, not both What does it mean? The first $1000 of monetary donations made after March 20th 2013 will be eligible for this tax credit.  The following examples are for a couple residing in Ontario: If you donated $200 your credit will be $90 instead of $40 – a $50 difference If you donated $500 your credit will be $286 instead of $161 – a $125 difference. If you donated $1000 your credit will be $611 instead of $361 – a $250 difference. If you donated $2000 your credit will be $1012.98 instead of $762.98 – a $250 difference The CRA has a great online calculator – check it out! So how... read more

CRA & Reporting Internet Income

It’s no secret that social media has evolved much quicker than tax law, but the folks at CRA are starting to catch on! New this year You must now list on your tax return all internet channels generating revenue: blogs running ads, sponsored posts, and reviews. EBay stores and monetized YouTube channels.  Any website where you sell your products or services. You have to report what those channels are (along with the URL for each), how much income it has generated, and which percentage of your income is from this revenue stream. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you are making, it must be claimed. Are you reporting internet income... read more

John Oliver takes opportunity by the balls and runs with it

Or rather… he soared with it. I’ve never been much of a fan of the late night talk TV scene and prefer to get my news and political commentary from Twitter.  J-F, however, is a huge fan of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.  After almost 5 years I’ve come to appreciate Jon Stewart’s ability to speak on current events with a perfect mixture of wit, humour, and fact. Until he went away for the summer and left John Oliver in charge.   Now? I’m John Oliver’s biggest fan. Some would say he’s lucky to have landed such an opportunity.  Oprah would disagree and say that luck is preparation meeting opportunity – you have to be ready for the opportunity when it comes along, else you wouldn’t be ‘lucky’. A stint as a host of The Daily Show would throw many for a loop.  How do you ‘become’ Jon Stewart?  Will the fans like me?  Will the show be good enough? Instead of pretending (and ultimately fail) to be Jon he rocked the show with his own unique blend of humour, intellect, and personality.  He’s hilarious.  He’s on-point. He took advantage of this very unique situation and showed the world what he was truly made of.  He took opportunity by the balls and soared. I wouldn’t be surprised if he landed his own show in the next few years.  You heard it here first 😉... read more

LOVING my new Surface Pro

I’ve said it before – use the right tools for YOUR business… Except, I really (I mean, really!) wanted a tablet.  We bought one for my mom a year ago when she was going through some  medical stuff that left her pretty much house bound and wheelchair bound. I’d go over to visit, grab the iPad and ‘play’.  I longed for one myself.  Being on the road all day, every day – a tablet would be much easier to lug around than a laptop.  A tablet would make it easier to show the functionalities of the tools I’ve developed… but my requirements were pretty specific: It needed to run Windows – there’s no sense me having a tablet if I can’t run QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, Excel, and Photoshop – tools I use on a daily basis. Speaking of tools – it had to be quick.  Those applications are huge memory-sucks, so I need at least 4G of ram. That’s pretty much it!  Easy right?  Except most Windows tablets only had 2G of ram.  So I waited, and maybe wept a little when my laptop bag broke and I couldn’t find a suitable replacement. Then I found… the Surface Pro.  It’s tax season – I haven’t watched TV in ages, I haven’t seen the commercials for it – and when I told JF that it was time, I had to find something better, he did some research and showed me the Surface Pro tablet.  Well, really, it’s not a tablet – it just looks like one.  It’s a full computer.  Dual Core processor, 4G of ram, solid state drive… 4G of ram!... read more

Money Morons Beware – Gail Vaz-Oxlade has a new show!

My friend Ann & I decided to drive 3 hours to lunch with Gail Vaz-Oxlade and hear her talk.  The event was a fundraiser for the Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Center – a great cause – and Ann & I do love our roadtrips so off we went to Cobourg for the day. Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes from that day, in no particular order and not just about money – Gail is one funny lady! “My idea of when to stop is when the car goes crunch” – on driving and car maintenance – “it’s a 2006 dodge caravan – who gives a fuck?” “Decor Porn (home reno / design shows) :  It’s like going to the strip joint and coming home to your husband” – On keeping up with the jones “I never imagined I was Elizabeth tailor – she got married 7 times I limited myself to 3!” “Don’t buy what u don’t understand, Know the rules or don’t play” – on investments and anything else, really “If you think that 37th pair of heels is a need, please DO bite me” – on needs v/s wants To a CRA agent, bank manager and anyone else who manages to piss her off: “Fix it or ill chop off your arm and beat you over the head with the soggy bits” And my biggest take away, other than to get out of her lane… “Money is just a tool – it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on – Enjoy your present but take care of your future because it counts for something” What am... read more

What’s your paperclip?

We all sell paperclips. Huh? Whatever product or service you’re selling, it’s like a paperclip. Announce to the world you’re selling paperclips and by-golly you’ll sell some. Big ones, small ones, colorful ones, sparkly ones… But which paperclips are you most passionate about?  Which ones do you have the most fun selling?  Because ultimately you’ll be successful when you match a keen sense of business with a passion for what you are doing. Once you know what your paperclip is, you can define your ideal client. Who buys the sparkly paperclip?  Follow your tribe Knowing who buys sparkly paperclips is great… but you should also know where they hang out.  If cancer patients buy sparkly clips, go where the cancer patients are.  If highfalutin corporate big-wigs are buying the sparkly clips, go where they are. Go where your tribe is.  Attend the same events as those buying your sparkly paperclips, and that’s what you’ll sell.  You’ll always sell a variety of clips, but focusing your efforts on the sparkly ones will ultimately bring you better clients and more money. So what’s YOUR paperclip?... read more

Is it really worth it? Traffic meets ROI

Seems we all dive into entrepreneurship for the freedom – financial and otherwise – it can provide, but some days one must wonder if its really worth it all. Take today for example.  I got up at 7am, got 3 kids ready for school / sitter / etc, had a shower, made sure everyone ate and school lunches were made, and was out the door by 8h15.  The 2 year old was dropped off at 8h30 sharp and after putting gas in the car I made it from Orleans to Stittsville in 35 minutes flat to meet with a regular client.  A few hours there followed by coffee and a muffin at a local cafe while nursing the baby and returning a few emails.  By 1h30 I was at 2nd client’s and left promptly at 3h20, leaving me 40 minutes to travel across town to pick up my daughter from daycare. Ugh! Except it was snowing by the time I got out of there.  The highway was already at a standstill, and I didn’t make it home until 5h15.  From there I had to drive hubby to work since he was already late, then drive back from downtown to Orleans to pick up my daughter from daycare since she was still there.  Sadly I was very, very, very late picking her up.  We left the sitters at 7h08 sharp.  Off to pick up some food for my 2 hungry kids while the baby is screaming from hunger in back seat.  She’s been sleeping since 2pm and she’s had enough.  It was 8h10 PM by the time we got home. ... read more

Local Focus: Amanda May Lingerie

I love working with the small business community in Ottawa, and I love to hear exceptional success stories. Amanda May Lingerie – a high-end, sophisticated lingerie boutique located in the prestigious Byward Market – is a haven of provocative lingerie pieces in the ranges of A-K cup and 28-38 bands. Now just you wait a minute! How in the bejesus does lady underthings and frilly bits have anything to do on a business blog?  And how can a store that is only opening tomorrow be considered an exceptional success story? Easy!  Amanda May is a vibrant young woman who knew she wasn’t cut out for the corporate world.  She ‘saved up shit-load of cash’, quit her job, and built this beautiful business.  No partners, no investors, no loans.  Just a woman on a mission with a healthy savings account.  To keep things on the right track, she tackled the store renos herself – including the flooring! “I love  that I can use my creativity to bring these collections together and creating beautiful things while still being my geeky self working on the back-end of my business” she told me at her launch party. She’s looked ahead and made smart purchasing decisions.  A small-busted woman and a curvy one can’t wear the same bra no matter how they try.  She’s purchased the right pieces in the right size for the women who’ll be wearing them.  She’s flown out of the corporate nest to fly on her own and she’s doing it! I speak often about Formula 4 Success – building a business on cash; paying yourself a salary, covering business... read more

So You Work in Your PJ’s – Appearance Matters!

It’s Monday morning and the madness begins.  You make lunches and breakfasts, put the kids on the bus and head for the office grabbing a coffee on the way.  You spend the morning storming your way through a long list of emails and to-do’s and next thing you know it’s almost time to leave for an offsite business meeting. That’s when you realize…. You’re still in your pj’s. This isn’t a middle-school nightmare gone bad This is real life – You are, in fact, still in your pj’s.  Easy enough to do as your office is a mere steps away from the kitchen. As business owners working from home its easy to get in a sloppy wardrobe routine.  In my opinion (though experts would disagree) that’s all fine & dandy so long as you’re staying in.  Once you’re on the road though, its a different story! It’s true what they say: appearance matters! It doesn’t have to be complicated – a go-to outfit of jeans with your trusted blazer, a bit of mascara and some lip gloss (and don’t forget to run a brush through your hair!) is an easy look to pull off and quick to implement when you’re dashing out the door for your next appointment. Let us help: Glam it up! To help you (or that special someone in your life) step it up an extra notch we’re giving away one (1) $100 gift certificate towards any Stella & Dot purchase! Winning is easy: you can earn ballots by letting us know what your favorite pieces are from current collection.  You can also follow Sandra Butler:... read more

Who Needs Hockey? A Bussiness’ Guide to Surviving a Hockey Lockout

What’s up with this hockey lockout eh? Being an Ottawa native, hockey is MY sport: Go Sens Go!  As a business owner in this town hockey tickets are usually my go-to entertainment for clients and employees but there are other options.  With or without a lockout, one can still take advantage of the entertainment tax credit without breaking the bank! The Canada Revenue Agency allows businesses to claim 50% of most entertainment expenses incurred in the normal course of business.  It also allows 100% claim on employer-sponsored events available to all employees and tickets to fundraising events.  For more information check out this bulletin from the CRA. So where does one go when there’s no hockey? Have you considered the NAC?  I recently took my daughter to see Beauty & The Beast on Broadway at the NAC and I must say the experience was a delight from start to finish!  Located in the heart of downtown there was plenty of indoor parking.  The view from our box seats was incredible (not to mention ample leg room and comfortable seats!) and we truly enjoyed our evening.  Being in the terminal phase last weeks of my pregnancy I was happy to see the washrooms were easily accessible.  The staff was friendly and helpful and the show was amazing.  I could go on and on about set design, the cast, the music  – all of which surpassed all my expectations – but what’s really important is we had a great time. The NAC offers a variety of options from the orchestra and the ballet to classic theater and variety shows; you can even... read more

Travelling for Business? Don’t go broke!

Most of us will travel for business at some point or another – some of us more than other.  It’s a necessary evil and can get quite costly, but there’s no reason to go broke in the process. When you’re self employed conferences, seminars and out of town meetings can rack up quite a bit of traveling expenses.  Even if you’re being reimbursed, there’s still a delay before you see that money again which means a decrease in disposable cash for the time being. Luxury on a budget – Via Rail Business Class Last weekend I attended the 3rd annual SCCTO conference; once again I was travelling for business from Ottawa to Toronto.  I’ve always loved taking the train – more restful than driving, cheaper than flyer, and a million times more comfortable than the bus. Via Rail now offers free on-board WIFI on many trains making your time on the train as productive (or not!) as you want it to be. This time i decided to travel business class.  Now that was a treat!  The extra leg room is great – but more than that there’s the service!  I had a complete meal on both train rides and the food was amazing.  The service was impeccable – coffee and drinks followed by your meal (served with wine), followed by more drinks, followed by snacks.  Being pregnant I couldn’t  partake in the alcoholic portion of the offerings but I’m also constantly craving ice and the attendant kept my ice glass full without my needing to ask for it! The panorama lounge was a great experience too – comfortable seats,... read more

So you’ve had a few boners with your money – Money Tips

What’s in a word bon·er :  noun ˈbō-nər A foolish and obvious blunder; stupid mistake.  See also blooper, blunder, boo-boo Reality Check The important thing is to get back on track:  Stop spending money you don’t have, start paying off those debts and put money aside for the future. Easier said than done?  You bet!  We get accustomed to a certain lifestyle and when life throws us lemons we opt for margaritas instead of lemonade. Indulge Responsibly If you must enjoy the little luxuries, find ways to indulge responsibly.  A few tips: Set a small ‘me’ budget that you can dip into once a month.  Take advantage of opportunities such as the Women’s Show to get pampered on a budget.  Make gourmet dinners at home with fresh local ingredients.  Whatever it is… do something for YOU that you can afford. Live for Today, Save for Tomorrow Because being financially secure is more than just equity in your home and a pension plan: save for tomorrow, but make sure you can eat today.  Consumer debts eat up your monthly cash flow and perpetuate the cycle.   Live lean, get out of overdraft, and start living your life... read more

With all the fixin’s, please!

I recently had the opportunity to drive to NYC for BlogHer’12 in a brand new, fully loaded Dodge Caravan.  I wrote about buying versus leasing a car, but this trip got me thinking – What about the options?  How do you choose?  What do you want?  What do you need?  What can you afford? How I got there Name the feature, our Caravan had it.  Funny though – some we didn’t even use!  The UConnect, for example, that allows you to plug in alternate devices as sources of media (music, etc) was not once used… We were too busy chatting!  Same for the DVD player.  Trust me though, had I been on an 8 hour car ride with the kids, that DVD player would have been worth its weight in gold.  J-F also likes to be able to plug in his phone and have the music come out of the car speakers.  Had he been on this trip we’d would have listened to Weird Al and Jean Leloup the whole way down. Our current SUV has leather seats.  Nice, right?  Ever sat on a leather seat in -40 weather?  Let me tell you, the tush gets cold… FAST!  That’s why I’m glad we have seat warmers, as does this Caravan.  For me, if you’re going to have leather seats you better have a seat warmer.  It’s a personal ‘non-negotiable’.  What can I say?  I like my tush warm.  Some cars now even have seat coolers (that’s right, AC for your behind!).  Is it a must-have or a nice-to-have?  Maybe you don’t care! Adjustable pedals.  ‘Nuff said.  I’m 5’2″.  In... read more

Which is better: buying or leasing a car

Decisions, Decisions… It’s time to upgrade the ‘ole girl, and you and your spouse just can’t stop arguing decide which is better: buying or leasing a car? You’re thinking you don’t want to be bothered with mileage overages, and your better half is thinking of the small-business tax benefits of leasing. It’s important to look at the big picture when making a large purchase.  Consider these key points before making a decision Cash On Hand Do you have an extra $400-$500 in your cash flow to cover the extra payments each month?  If your answer is no then you can’t afford either option right now.  My suggestion would be to take the $2k you’ve saved up and upgrade to a slightly newer ‘ole girl if it’s absolutely necessary. Mileage = $$$ Do you typically drive more than 20 000 km each year?  You might think this is of no concern to you but many people have been forced to buy out their leased vehicle at the end of a term because overages were more than what the car was worth. Think ahead 4 years – will you have an extra $8000 lying around to pay the dealership?  Will you have access to the CREDIT to borrow this money?  Will you be able to afford the payments on this new loan?  If you can’t be sure then you might be better off just purchasing a car instead of leasing. Small Business Tax Implications Purchasing a car with CASH You can depreciate the car over several years based on federal capital cost allowance guidelines The depreciation amount is based on your... read more

It’s all about the Awesome! Event & Giveaway

I LOVE contests.  I love free stuff.  I love social media. It’s also no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have tiny twitter-crush on Scott Stratten – @unmarketing. You can imagine my excitement when I heard he was coming HERE – to Ottawa!   ReSoMe and Suprpod are very excited to present Scott Stratten in Ottawa on his official book tour for The Business Of UnAwesome! After the success of Scott’s last book “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.”, his most recent work, “The Book of Business Awesome“, covers concepts related to marketing, branding, human resources, public relations, social media, and customer service. From success stories to train-wrecks, Scott offers tools to use in your own business, and showcases what not to do. This is a great opportunity to be inspired by a modern marketing mastermind and refresh your perspective on marketing in a tech savvy world. In addition to being inspired by Scott, you will have the opportunity to mingle with other Ottawa’s business and marketing professionals. Sounds Awesome, right?  RIGHT?! <practically skipping with joy> You can check out all the event details HERE. In the spirit of all this awesomeness Shoebox-Be-Gone is hosting a giveaway!  One lucky reader will receive a ticket to the September 19th event and a copy of Scott’s book (he’s also signing copies on-site). You have until 11:59 PM on August 19th to enter the giveaway!  Winners will be announced within 48 hours of contest closing.  It’s easy – Enter below! *** UPDATE:  The deadline has been extended to Midnight August 22nd!  1 more day to enter ~ Angele   a Rafflecopter... read more

Did You Know: The Truth About Seminars, Conferences & Conventions

Like many of my fellow bloggers I am attending several conferences this year including BlogHer ’12 & She’s Connected Conference.  Both offer many valuable learning opportunities as well as the side benefit of getting away for a few days.   The Business of Blogging Have you monetized your blog?  Are you getting compensated for your writing?  Attending a conference this year?  Keep the receipt!  In Canada AND in the US you can claim the cost of attending seminars, workshops, conferences & conventions relating to your business activities.  If blogging is your business…. your BlogHer ’12 ticket is now a business expense! The Caveat In the US you must be able to prove that the conference content helped you gain useful knowledge for your business;  In Canada, you can only claim 2 such expenses (so pick the 2 most expensive ones!). Travel Too? Make sure you also account for all your traveling costs, as these can be claimed as well! Any legitimate business expense you can claim to help lower your taxes owing (or increase your refund) is worth claiming!  Take the time, keep your receipts, and put your hard earned money back in YOUR pockets! Do you have an income tax horror story?  Any other tips & tricks you’d like to share? Let’s hear... read more

The B-Word: Budgets of all kind

I’ve had several clients ask me if I could build them a personal budget.  I wish I could – but that’s just not my area of expertise!  I make bookkeeping EASY for people; I can show you how to pay yourself a salary while paying off your business debt and using cash to pay current and business development expenses.  I can tell you how much money you’re business has to spend this month, and how much money you can transfer to your personal bank account.  But how you should spend that money?  That’s really none of my business. If only we could avoid the dreaded B-Word.  Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy! Everybody hates budgets, but we all need one. Personal Budgets:  Reinventing the wheel You’ve likely heard of money-maven Gail Vaz-Oxlade and her budget binder.  Seriously, her spreadsheets ROCK!  Why would I bother coming up with my own when she has – bar-none – the best personal financial management plan out there!  If you need help with your household budget check out Gail’s Guide to Building a Budget.  Bonus, she has links to pre-formated spreadsheets you can download and use to calculate monthly fixed and variable expenses. Business Budgets: It’s a personal thing Knowing how much cash you have on hand is very important.  Being able to quickly glance and see what you owe, what you have, and where your money went is golden.  But when it comes down to what percentage of income will be spent on salaries, product development, advertising, supplies…  There’s no easy answer! The truth is, you have to take a good, hard, look... read more

Shoebox-Be-Gone is to Quickbooks what Ty Pennington is to ‘Extreme Makeover’

Most people who choose to use a computerized accounting software go through the following steps: (1) Spend a decent chunk of change to buy QuickBooks software package (or another program) (2) You still don’t know what to do with it, so you spend another chunk to have someone come in and set it up for you. (3) Wow – You’ve spent all this money and you have a great system that you still don’t know how to use!  How useful is that? The workaround Shoebox-Be-Gone has been offering Custom QuickBooks Set-Ups since 2007!  We build your company file in a way that makes sense (we use an account-numbering structure preferred by accounting firms, amongst other things) and give you a 15 page process books that shows you exactly what you need to do, step-by-step, to do your own bookkeeping in 1 hour or less / month!  Imagine all the free time you’d have?  We soon came to realize that more people needed to have access to our to set-ups. The “Extreme Makeover” as explained to Women & Men The Ladies: QuickBooks isn’t the prettiest right out of the box!  It needs gastric bypass, lyposuction, and many cosmetic surgeries!  It’s also not the most funcional:  you need to teach it how to walk and talk like a lady! Our Custom Set-Ups have gone through the transformations and is ready to use!  It looks pretty and pulls reports your accountant will be excited to look at! The Men: Quickbooks is the foundation your crappy house is sitting on.  We’ve bulldozed it and re-built it from scratch to give you a product... read more

Medical Expense Tax Credit: BUSTED!

MYTH:  My insurance company covers most of my medical expenses; I don’t have enough out-of-pocket expenses to get a tax credit.   BUSTED:  Medical insurance PREMIUMS are allowable medical expenses for tax purposes.  In order to get a tax credit your expenses must be at least 3% of your income (or at least $2000 if your income is over $66k).  Your expenses include any out-of-pocket expenses AND your medical insurance premiums.   QUESTION:  “I pay about $100 / month for my insurance – why is it not on my T4?”   ANSWER:  Your insurance premiums will rarely show up on a T4 (if it does, it’s in box 85) – however you can find your Year-To-Date total on the LAST paystub of the year.  Add this amount to your total un-reimbursed expenses.   PROBLEM:  I didn’t keep my prescription receipt ‘cause I thought I couldn’t claim them.   Now what?   SOLUTION:  Ask your pharmacist to give you a print-out for tax purposes.  They’ll know exactly what you need and they’re used to it!   And the kicker…   Many tax credits are based on Net Family Income.  Medical tax credits?  Nope!  This one’s based on the income of the person claiming it.  So take all of your medical expenses, all of your spouse’s medical expenses, plus whatever you spent on the kids.  Take the total amount and have the spouse with the LOWEST income claim the total amount to get the biggest bank for your... read more

Printing Shminting – Retiring that ‘ole inkjet!

TPH – a.k.a. The Printing House – is your one-stop shop for all your printing needs. Seriously. Need 1 custom brochure holder for that tradeshow booth? No problem. 50 stickers? Got it! 5000 business cards? Done!   I’ve been in business for a while, and I’ve done the whole tradeshow thing, the networking thing… All in a day’s work. I love the business development aspect of entrepreneurship, but I hate the ‘materials’ development process.   A Scenario… Who’s with me on this one? You create a kick-ass brochure but the printers won’t give you less than a thousand copies; oh, and it’s going to take 2 weeks before its all ready! Funny thing is, you know you won’t be using more than 50 or so before the information is no longer relevant. Your choice becomes providing sub-par ‘print-at-home’ materials or indebting yourself (and increasing your carbon footprint) to get the large-run.   The phone rings and you find out you’re about to land the account of a lifetime, if only you can fly down in 2 days to meet with the board. Crap. You’re sub-par option is no longer an option, but you can’t wait two weeks, this deal is happening now!   The Solution… Here’s where an awesome company like TPH comes in – Not only can they print on-demand, they can also print as many (or as little) as you need! Flying to Vancouver for a tradeshow? They’ll work the magic of the internet and have your order ready for you… in Vancouver! That’s right – no shipping costs, and no need to travel awkwardly with bulky, heavy promo materials.   YOUR Bottom Line Bottom line is they can work with you to... read more

Tax Preparation Software: small Shark, BIG Shark

It’s TAX TIME! Excited yet? I am, but that’s because I have a secret to share with you. It may not be as exciting as lunchroom gossip about who’s crushing on whom, but stick with me on this one 😉 .   The One That Got Away When was the last time you ran into someone you knew from high school but just couldn’t place them? You’re sitting there wondering: “I should remember her! Gorgeous, well-spoken, funny, successful… shit! I’m sure I didn’t date her… (hmm, maybe I should have), I would have remembered – I think. ”   Then it hits you. Like a ton of bricks. Hard. She’s the weird girl no one really spoke to ‘cause she had big hair, big glasses and a mouth full of braces. Once the shock wears off all you can really think is that she’s done really well for herself!   It’s amazing what a good haircut, a flattering wardrobe, and growing up can do to one’s image. Your early twenties are spent getting an education, finding a job, maybe even getting your own place. You didn’t morph from adolescence to adulthood overnight!   And What Does This Have To Do With My Taxes? GenuTax is that girl! Daddy’s trust fund (à la Veronica Lodge) doesn’t exist and she may not have access to the capital needed for expensive makeovers and a marketing campaign that will blow the big sharks out of the water.   What she does have is a unique product you should be using if you plan on doing your own taxes. GenuTax is a revolutionary – get this – multiyear tax software product for Canadian taxpayers. That’s right! MULTIYEAR! You... read more

The Big Debabe: Simply or QuickBooks?

A new year, a fresh start… Now is the time! We’ve all said it at one point or another: “It’s time I finally got stuff in order!” You need a system – or you’ve outgrown yours – and it’s time to upgrade to a fancy-shmancy software solution.   The contenders The biggest contenders in the small-business community appear to be Sage’s Simply Accounting & Intuit’s QuickBooks. EEnie-Meenie-Mynie-Mo…   I’m often asked by clients and colleagues alike which I would choose. Easy: if you’re an accountant, go with Simply Accounting. Everyone else: get QuickBooks.   Why?  Accountants LOVE Simply Accounting and hate QuickBooks. The default settings in this wildly popular software can make a seasoned accountant turn in his grave. Non-accounting folk will identify with QuickBooks’ user-friendly interface. Make your accountant happy and get a customized set-up that will be both user-friendly and functional!   Since accountants typically know what they’re looking for, let’s concentrate on the small business community.   Version Aversion QuickBooks it is… but which version? Easy Start?  Pro?  Premium?  Payroll or not? How does one choose?   Easy Start: You have no payables, no receivables and no inventory. Unless you’re using a cash-basis accounting system, this won’t work for most.  Great for self-employed consultants who get paid upon invoicing and have little overhead expenses.   Pro or Premium: Both will track inventory, receivables, and payables. Both will give you access to a wide variety of reports and information. From importing data from Excel to job-costing and projects you’re sure to be covered.   Most small businesses will benefit greatly from the Pro version. However, if you require a solution that will help you in forecasting and budgeting – or... read more

Not another crash diet – building an empire with cash

Are you stuck in a start-up rut? My first apartment was nowhere near the penthouse and that car was no Lincoln either. Shiny new toys are great but do you really need them right now?   Gail Vaz-Oxlade, TV host and money maven, teaches us how to live on a cash diet. Jars, binders, lists, budgets… CASH. Debit cards? Credit cards? Banned. Finito. Au revoir! Not another crash diet; no starving nor bingeing – just portion control.   Would your business survive Gail’s cash diet? YES! Maybe not with all the shiny new toys, but survive thrive it would. Impossible? I beg to differ.   Strategy How? Determine which percentage of your gross sales you will allocate to advertising, supplies, office expenses and of course, yourself (the beauty in owing no money: you can pay yourself first!). Maybe this month you only have $40 for advertising, but as your sales revenue increases, so will your advertising budget. Make the most of the resources you have:  be creative!   Analytics Track revenues and expenses; measure results. Are they in-line with your strategy?   ROI (Return On Investment) No borrowing costs. Reduced stress, increased productivity, and healthier bottom line. Success! ROI that!   Are you weighing yourself down with unnecessary ‘stuff’ or is the scale tipping towards fiscal responsibility and a balanced... read more

Here a Blog, There a Blog, Everywhere a Blog-Blog

I blog here, and you blog there. Here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog-blog… Every-bo-dy has a blog, EeieeiOH!   So you have a blog. Big deal, right? Everyone and their mother has a blog these days. It’s not a business though: really, you’re just getting free shit to write a few lines here and there. WRONG!   The truth is, the minute you accept free shit to review and / or giveaway, you – yes, YOU – are in Business! Congratulations! You are an Entrepreneur, and the TAXMAN wants a piece of it!   Received a brand-spanking-new appliance to review? Income! Received a 2nd one as a giveaway? Income! Gave that 2nd one to a contest winner? Expense! Gave ad space in exchange for product? Income! Yup, that $10 cover-up you got, because you’re worth it, is income.   Hell’s bells in a hand basket… Now what?  You’re in business Girlfriend! Time to start wearing those shoes you never wear – because you’ll need the shoebox to store all your crap receipts.  We’re talking advertising, shipping, home office expense, gas, and %*&$ THIS all the ‘fun’ stuff that comes with being in business. What you need is a system.   Income Huh – see, now you can tell your husband you’re actually working! Start with a spreadsheet and keep a tally of all items you received and their retail value. Also, if you receive any real money in exchange for ad space, track that as well. Everything from the restaurant vouchers to secrets you share with a lady named Victoria to all-expense-paid vacations should be tracked as income. From an income tax perspective, it doesn’t... read more

#shbx140

I’ve written a great new post… But I don’t want you to read it – At least, not just yet – I’m in the mood to experiment! I’m sure this has been done before but I’m new to the whole blogging/tweeting thing, so bear with me, please. Inspired by Project Priceless I decided to try my hand at social experimentation. Why? Because I’m weird like that and I’m curious. I’d like to see how far this goes, so I’m going to post another 140 characters for each retweet or new follower until the whole thing is up there. Like it? Want to read more? Come On! RT already! We’ll be using the hashtag #shbx140 so follow along and enjoy the ride!  Want to know a secret? A really, juicy, steamy, secret? I am CRUSHING! Badly; Not-so-guiltily. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a happily domesticated woman! I have a great family, a thriving business… but a girl still dreams.  I’m CRUSHING! Not the school-girl-blush-when-I-see-you-across-the-hall-and-accidently-dump-my-lunch-tray-in-your-lap type of crush. Nope! That would be DH, and I’ve snagged HIM already *blush*. The crush I’m talking about is of the entrepreneurial type.  Huh? There are so many great entrepreneurs out there; CANADIAN entrepreneurs who have achieved great things, big and small. I think of all the moms driving crappy momobiles because they are putting their family first, and need room for groceries. And what about all the men driving sexy cars (why not? The groceries only fit in the momobile, and they don’t do groceries *wink*). All kidding aside, men and women alike reached blindly for the stars. Many failed, some succeeded, and a few absolutely shined! So who am I crushing on today? I have a list somewhere, but... read more

Join me at the cool table!

I love social media so much I chose to spend a gorgeous summer Saturday at Ottawa’s first Social Media Learnathon, Social Capital. We discussed marketing channels, plans and strategies, the ‘why’ of it all. There was live blogging and tweeting, the food was amazing, and all the cool kids were there. Social media is what the cool kids are doing, and it’s no surprise the event sold out. While it was nice to hang with the IN crowd, I feel bad for other aspects of entrepreneurship that aren’t as much fun. We care about the cool aspects of our business while the losers sit alone in the corner. Debits, credits, and bank recs – a.k.a. The Beans – are the weird kids; most of us don’t really ‘get’ them and socialmatics dictates that WEIRD = NOT COOL! CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Weird is the NEW cool!   Nick Charney and Joe Bougher entertained us as they volleyed their opinions on change management openly and frankly. The guy behind Brandvelope, @DenVan, said when trying to invoke change, use the Cold-Slap-Warm-Hug-Solution approach.  While this certainly has its merits, I’m going to err on the side of caution with this one. A cold slap across the face doesn’t seem conducive to liking (especially if you’re the ‘weird one’ to start off with), and according to Scott Stratten hugs in a business setting can get awkward – and I’m not about to start walking around with waiver forms. But those solutions things have me pondering…can bean-counting turn things around and join the cool crowd? What if we replaced the words ‘social marketing’ with ‘bookkeeping’?   Social marketing requires more than just doing. Craig... read more

I wanted an Audi, not an Audit

…and the only place that will drive me is crazy!!!   audit n[ME, fr. L.auditus act of hearing, fr. Audire]: 1a a formal examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation b the “4-letter word” of any entrepreneur. See also pain-in-the-backside, royal-pain-in-the-backside, and nightmare. If you tout the merits of ‘financial engineering’ or ‘creative accounting’, you probably hate audits; if you’re an unsuspecting, tax-paying citizen, you probably hate audits; heck, auditors probably hate audits! So what do you do if you receive that dreaded notice from the CRA? Gather months’ worth of food and water supplies? Head to the nearest storm shelter? Change your name, disconnect all utilities, and spend your life living off the virtues of land and sea? Come on, Folks! The end of the world is NOT upon us, you haven’t killed anyone (I hope…) and those water bottles likely have some new-fangled atom-sized GPS device, so They’d likely find you anyways. How does one prepare for an audit? Arrange, Organize, and Plan; i.e. Prepare! You may not be able to prevent an audit, but you can be ready for one. Have your books in order, tell the truth, and file your taxes. “But I’ve already done that… now what?” Great question! Sign up (it’s free, and only takes 1 minute!) and receive our FREE Insider’s Report: What YOU need to do to protect your tax credits! ~The Shoebox-Be-Gone... read more

One size does NOT fit all!

On a recent hunt for the ultimate sling-back pump, I found an uber-cute pair of shoes I just had to try on! I asked the associate to bring me a size seven; as she approached me, box in hand, my heart skipped a beat I was so excited! She hands over the box, announcing they are all out of size sevens, but would I like to try the nine? …Excuse me?  Size 9? As in TWO sizes biggerthan I requested? On what planet would that shoe fit me? In bookkeeping – as in hats, clothing, and shoes – one size does not always fit all. The direct-sales representative’s needs are different than those of a big-box corporation. The cupcake lady has different tracking requirements than those of a marketing consultant. There are several well-known accounting packages out there – but you may find it difficult to navigate (and quite frankly, sometimes useless) if your transaction volume is fairly low. Is your current system working for you? What changes could you make to streamline your processes? Now is a great time to evaluate your real bookkeeping needs, to assess the efficiency of your current methods, and pinpoint key changes that must to be made. The next step? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! What have you changed today? Are your shoes too big to fill? Comment for your chance to win some great prizes! ~The Shoebox-Be-Gone... read more

Twits, Twats, and That Other Thing…

If one believes everything one hears, a twit is a pregnant goldfish (impossible!), a twat is a twit (confused yet?) and all have been used as reference to that other thing… the Tweet. Between liking, joining, following, and twit-twatting – euh, tweeting – it’s no wonder one has a hard time following the going-on’s as we join the conversation that is social media. As we shift from wall-flowers to social butterflies, we become evangelists of the new and improved; suddenly, we’re all experts! But a conversation remains as such whether in person, on the phone, or the ever-popular model: online. Some say that “many conversants develop strategies of achieving successful conversation over the course of their lives”. Does that mean then, that unless one is a sociologist, one is never really an expert at conversation? The premise can also be applied to bookkeeping. As one embarks on the journey of entrepreneurship, we attempt to embrace all aspects of business regardless of our level of expertise in the matter. Most believe they are moseying along just fine but evidence may point to the contrary. Are we really succeeding in this thing called business? Are we simply attempting to follow the conversation, pretending to swim, while urgently grasping the edge of the pool? Perhaps this is a good time for us all to measure our success in all areas of our business and admit that we simply just can’t do it all; a time to take inventory of our shortcomings and call in the experts where needed.  Whether the experts change your landscaping or merely dig up the weeds, the finished product is sure to bloom brightly. And who... read more

Know your limits – play within them!

Anyone who knows me knows my hair curls worse than a sheep in the high-heat of July; as luck would have it, my hair stopped curling in the months following the birth of my child. In a desperate attempt to revive my curls and save money, I attempted to give myself a perm. Big mistake! Though I may not have liked my hair, at least it looked good… until I ruined it. It took a year, 10 haircuts and several gallons of product to get my hair to look good again. Needless to say I could have spared myself a lot of grief – and money – had I gone to a professional from the get-go.   In business, as in life, we should “know our limits and play within them” as we are often reminded by the folks at OLG. Whether your books are in a mess, or your current system does not work for you, trust the pros! Invest in the help of a trained professional and save yourself countless hours of grief and the subsequent money-pit of having a professional fix what you have broken. And… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!   ~ The Shoebox-Be-Gone Team SOLUTIONS: BUSINESS USE OF HOME The Dog Is Not An Advanced Intruder Warning System And Other Facts What constitutes a real business-use-of-home expense? What is appropriate, what is not? This is one area that – for many – is quite gray and scary. First, what percentage of the expense do you use? Once you’ve determined that amount you must then ask yourself: “Would this be reasonable expense for... read more

News & Updates

It’s been a busy spring at Shoebox-Be-Gone! We attended the National Women’s Show and met wonderful ladies, participated in a Fuchsia Factory Inc. event and have started redesigning our website. And who has time for “Facebooking”? Apparently, everyone and their mother! Social media has become such an important networking tool, and our team has now joined ship. Check out our Facebook page and ‘like’ us for news, tips, events, and specials. ‘Till next month, ~ The Shoebox-Be-Gone Team SOLUTIONS: FOCUSING ON EXPENSES 3 Steps to Managing Personal Credit Cards And Business Expenses Are you a self-employed professional using your personal credit cards for business expenses? Not quite sure how to track it all in your accounting software? Good news! It can be done quickly and easily; no need for multiple journal entries, complicated bank account set ups and hours spent imputing data. Keep reading to discover the 3 steps to managing this bookkeeping task. Step 1: The Spreadsheet, Simplified You’ll need to set up a spreadsheet to simplify your journal entry. You’ll need columns for ‘Date’ and ‘Description’, and each type of expenses (gas expense, meals & entertainment, office supplies, etc); you’ll also need one for GST/HST and interest expense. Grab your first receipt; in a new row, type in the date and description in the proper column. Determine what type of expense it is – enter the net amount in the proper expense column and the GST/HST in the tax column. Lather, rinse & repeat until you’ve entered all your business receipts, including an entry for the portion of interest that relates to your expenses. Once you’ve calculated... read more