ORGANIZE YOUR MONEY

20140326-220831.jpg I can't believe it's already the end of March. This means two things:

  1. My husband's birthday is near (it's actually today - wish him a happy birthday here)
  2. And taxes are due

I dropped the ball this year and did the minimum amount of financial work for my business. Meaning taxes this year will likely take triple the time it would usually. Not to mention how unhealthy and stifling it is for my business to not keep track of where and when money is coming and going. Do not do what I did. Instead, follow these tips to stay organized and ready for tax season.

Keep a balance sheet A balance sheet is essentially a spreadsheet or a piece of paper with lines and categories for you to organize when money is coming in and out. You can easily create one in google docs (see screen shot below), with windows excel, write on a piece of paper, or download this pdf I created here and pictured below. The one I use (and created for you below) has a column for projected and actual income and expenses, that way you can plan ahead and budget your money. You can use this pdf each month and at the end of the year to tally everything up.

Organize Your Money Free Download

organize-your-money

Put money aside Save yourself the stress mentally and financially and put away 10-15% of your monthly income into your savings for taxes. Odds are you'll have more than enough money saved to not only pay the man, but to also to go on a mini vaca or maybe attend that workshop you've had your eye on.

Have a separate business account Don't try to decipher business money with home money all in one joint account - that's terribly stressful. Do yourself a favor and open up a separate checking and savings account just for your business. That way when you meet with a client over lunch or run to Office Max to grab some ink and paper, you can whip out your business account card and swipe away knowing it won't get lost with your grocery and home charges.

Stay organized Using services like Mint, Freshbooks, Outright or Quickbooks can help you stay organized throughout the year and some offer functions and features that help prepare you for tax season. Personally I use Mint and love it. I can budget, receive texts when I'm close to going over budget, check balances from the app on my phone, create goals and its all free. Another tip to staying organized is stowing away your receipts each month in an accordion folder. That way when you need to find a receipt for a specific month, you don't have to dig through the entire years worth. Trust me, it's not pretty when you have to do this.

Print off monthly bank statements If you're like me, you use your computer for mostly everything when it comes to money. So when you receive your monthly statement from PayPal or your bank, print it out. Otherwise you might have to go backward for months in order to track down each expense. It's also a good idea to have a paper trail of everything just in case.

Hire an accountant Back when I was an employee and received a paycheck it was easy to use a service like Turbotax online. But now I'm self-employed and have a billion expenses and write off's to keep track of, I've hired an accountant. Actually I acquired my accountant through my husband when we got married and it was the best thing that ever happened to my money. My accountant keeps me organized, sends me a tax preparation packet in February and answers any questions whenever I have them - like when I discovered I had to charge sales tax (oops). When you're staring out, it might make sense to do them yourself, but as soon as you can afford an accountant, do it. He will save you time, he will cost a chunk of change but he always makes sure everything is legit.

Need more financial advice? Check out these articles:

What I Learned at Tax Time From My First Year as an Indie Business Owner 10 Tax Deductions for Small Biz Owners Being Prepared for Tax Time Taxes Made Easy Advice: How do you Deal with Tax Deductions and Working with an Accountant Taxes 101 for Etsy Sellers 5 Ways to Make Tax Season More Serene

How about you, did you file yet? Do you have any tips, resources or advice to share for us creatives scrambling to file taxes in time?

MUSIC INSPIRED

music-inspired Music can tear me apart and put me back together. Music can tap into pain that I bury so deep. Music can change my mood instantly, allowing me to absorb beauty, life and all that surrounds me more fully. Music can be the simplest pleasure to the most inspiring indulgence.

Music molds my life and makes me who I am.

I remember when I was younger (maybe age 8 or 12?), I would watch music videos on MTV obsessively. My sister and I would video tape our favorite songs, play them back, write down the lyrics then memorize the words so we could sing along anytime the song came on. We would make endless mix tapes, sticking paper in the holes of the tape edges in order to record over whatever was on the tape itself.

I've always love to sing. When we were really young, my sister hated when I would sing along in the car or at home. She would ask my mom to make me stop, my mom responding with "you never know, your sister may become a rock star/singer when she gets older". This kind of encouragement was always given to us kids from our parents.

Years later, I've had experience promoting and booking shows, blogging about music, interviewing musicians, hosting music and art events and festivals, dating and being friends with many musicians, and even playing music.

Having a history of always being immersed in music keeps me going. Marrying my husband and watching him grow as a musician and giving him advice on how to promote his shows, grow and connect with his fans, sell his merchandise, reach his goals and improve his stage presence are just a few of several ways on how I learned I wanted to coach and visually direct other musicians and artists.

Lady rock, reverb heavy vocals, loud guitars and distorted sounds tend to be my favorite style music to listen to. And because I not-so-secretly want to be a musician I've shared a playlist of some of my favorite female musicians and singers.

Below are the tracks followed by the artist's/band's name. Go to Spotify to listen to the playlist. And check out more inspiring images of live performances and musicians go here.

  1. Goatman - GOAT
  2. Top of the Hill - Conduits
  3. Lord Knows - Dum Dum Girls
  4. Into Black - Blouse
  5. I'm Gone - Tu Fawning
  6. Mezzazine - Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
  7. Split Like a Lip - Buke & Gase
  8. You Wish You Were Red - Trailer Trash Tracys
  9. All the Things - Dark Dark Dark
  10. Be Brave - My Brightest Diamond
  11. Drifting In and Out - Porcelain Raft
  12. PLastic & Powder - Lower Dens
  13. How far We've Come Now - La Sera
  14. 15 - Flock of Dimes
  15. Follow - Blue Hawaii

How about you, what inspires you to the core? What music are you listening to lately?

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CAMPS, COURSES & CONFERENCES

camp-courses-and-conferences-23 As a self-taught artist, I learned early on that a constant flow of education and inspiration is mandatory for my personal and business growth. It's like the fuel that feeds my fire.

Lately, I've seen workshops, e-courses, classes, conferences and camps popping up all over the country. It's no surprise to me that more and more people want to share what they know with others because I believe that most of us were put on this earth to do exactly that. And two (or several) people/brains are better than one, right?

The obvious reasons to participate/purchase/attend a class, course or conference are:

  1. Connections - whether you're attending an event in person or online, the connections you develop with others who attend, teach or speak are priceless.
  2. Inspiration - Sometimes inspiration comes from photographs, nature or music. Other times I find endless inspiration from others. Participating in a conference, course or camp gets you out of your own head and watching and experiencing others.
  3. Learn - I am proud of the fact I am an entrepreneur living my dream and I couldn't have done any of this without the help of courses or conferences. I have yet to attend a camp, but I have a feeling they help you learn new ways to pave your own path too.

So here are my favorite camps, courses and conferences (most I have yet to attend) that promise a bucket full of inspiration and education.

Conferences

This year, I've attended 2 conferences and met dozens of creatives, speakers and leaders who were a part of them. Most of my business is based online, so the value of having face-to-face-shake-their-hand conversations with real people is priceless. I walked away with lasting impressions, business cards and the feeling I wasn't alone and that others want to connect too. Here are a few I have my eyes on and a few that I attended this year:

Courses

I am no stranger to e-courses. This year alone I purchased 2 out of 3 of the e-courses that Braid offers. I then ultimately hired them to help guide me to where I am today. Check out their courses and some other awesome online courses that look interesting:

Camps

I have yet to attend a camp, besides the ones in grammar school, but love the idea of taking consecutive days off to from work to shift your focus and thinking. Here are a few that sound pretty inspiring:

Resources

Here a few additional resources to find camps, courses or conferences:

Have you attended/taken or purchased any camps, courses or conferences lately? I am always on the hunt, do you have any recommendations?

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