What I Learned about Finances, Tax Planning and Myself

All about tracking, tax planning, effort and perseverance!

I am so motivated to fix my finances this 2021. I’ve learned so much from diligently tracking both my personal and business income and expenses. So for today, I’d love to share with you what I have learned and hopefully, these learnings can help you, too.

You can’t do away with LEARNING Finance Topics if you want to be Financially Independent

I have friends who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear when you start talking about finances, investment, taxes, accounting, etc. To be honest with you, years ago, I was like that, too. And when I was young, I abhorred Math. I never really understood why we were studying it.

I started enjoying finances when I worked for a bank, and I love it even more now that I’m running a startup. I started seeing why we need to learn how to compute (even just for the basic stuff) and why we need to “read and understand” numbers. The thing about these topics is that you can’t really do away with these if you plan to be financially independent later on.

Last 2020, I tried to learn as much as I can about all of these, and I got to learn more on how “money” can work for you. One of the things that I learned is that you need to look at each Peso or Dollar as something or someone who works for you. Is their task to pay a bill or pay for a particular expense, or is their task to grow themselves?

For most of us, it may take a while before you can send some of your funds to grow themselves. Most of your money will really be spent on paying bills, etc. but take your time and enjoy the process. That’s another thing that I learned.

Know what your Constraints are

I learned to make more informed decisions last year, and this stemmed from the fact that I learned to know and realize what my constraints are. I know myself really well and one of my personal challenges is saying NO to things that don’t really matter. The PROs of this weakness is that there are a lot of opportunities that come to me and I get to widen my circle, but the CONs are I have less time for myself and less time for the things that really should matter.

So last year, I made a conscious decision to prioritize. The pandemic really slowed down Manila Workshops’ business, but what I realized is that handling Manila Workshops, Taxumo and Blogging / Vlogging really is a lot to handle. Although the purpose of Manila Workshops is great, I realized that I can also fulfill that purpose when I do the other things on my plate (like grow our startup and enjoy vlogging and blogging).

As for blogging, vlogging and streaming, I plan to work on understanding and learning more this year. People also think that Blogging and Vlogging is easy. You just create content and people will come. Well, that’s not the case really. You need to treat it like a business, so you will need a little bit of capital and lots of effort and learning. Nowadays, the learning curve for being a content creator is steep IF you really want to earn from it. It’s easy to learn tools that simplify content creation, but there are a lot of things to learn if you plan to earn from it.

This year, I am also officially announcing that I will keep the Manila Workshops brand, but we will be keeping it as a community instead. I won’t be monetizing it again yet. I’ll still look at a more scalable business model. Oh, that’s another thing, too. Growing Taxumo has made me realize a lot of things about how I handled Manila Workshops, which was actually pretty cool. I think I have grown more when it came to handling a business.

Learn how to Track literally EVERYTHING and do Tax Planning

People, I have realized that the first step to financial success is really knowing where you stand. You need to know your numbers — your personal income and expenses, your household income and expenses and your business revenue and expenses. Making decisions base on gut feeling (at least for me) isn’t the way to go.

Hard decisions are “hard” to make (like getting married, shifting careers, starting a business, etc.) because you obviously haven’t been to the FUTURE. Any path you take will be hard, unless you intentionally decide to take a one year break from making any life decisions, and just “Eat. Pray. Love.” your way through life that one year. In any case, you need money to sustain you that whole year.

So if you want to get on track to fixing your finances, start the habit of tracking it. You will realize that this simple habit will help you discover things that you haven’t discovered before about yourself, your spending, your behaviours, etc.

This is how I track my personal finances

For business, it’s really the same thing. I remember having this conversation with Nicole Alba, a young finance vlogger, and I mentioned that in order for people to run sustainable businesses and freelancing careers, they also need to know how to handle their personal finances.

For my business, I use Taxumo to track both my revenue and expenses.

It super easy and not at all complicated to learn how to use the system. Taxumo has FREE onboarding sessions here just in case you want to learn how to use it: http://txmo.co/onboarding.

What I have learned also by consistently tracking my business revenue and expenses, I can do tax planning. I can easily identify how much I should set aside for taxes early on. I have all of my information in Taxumo, so it makes it easier for me to know the amount of taxes that I need to pay. I also get a feel of what I have spent on significantly on the previous month.

As a self-employed individual, tax planning for me begins with just tracking really. How can you plan if you have no idea on where your funds are going or how much are you earning.

As for the tax rate that you can choose at the start of every year, before your first filing for the year, Taxumo has this notification bell that recommends what tax rate is best for you based on your cashflow entries.

Tax planning recommendation tool in Taxumo!
Machine learning tax planning tool of Taxumo
Sample of what is seen in the recommendations tab

You can check this out after inputting cash flow entries.

I have so many things going on in my life right now, but what I can say really is that I know where I am heading this 2021. It’s clear to me where I want to go and I am happy with the things that are happening to me and my loved ones.

I wish you all the same feeling. I wish that you find enough motivation and will power. I wish you find clarity. I hope that the path to being financially free will be clearer and I hope that you find your life’s purpose.

Cheers to a great 2021!

5 Things You Should Do to End the Year Right

Another year is coming to a close, for better or worse, but as the song goes, “baby, it ain’t over til it’s over”! I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s been a really big year for me personally, both in terms of business and for my family. And while there have been ups and downs, I’m determined to end this year with a smile on my face.

So whether 2017 was the best year ever, the worst year ever, or something in between, there’s still time to close this chapter on a positive note. Here are five things you should do before the year ends:

This is what my 4-year old daughter wrote! haha!

Show your gratitude.

It’s so easy to think of gimmicky #gratitude efforts, but the truth is, heartfelt gratitude is a powerful tool that helps lift up not just the person you express your gratitude to but also your own spirits. According to Forbes.com, gratitude improves physical and psychological health as well as sleep, self-esteem, and mental strength, and it also makes you more open to new relationships.  

Showing your gratitude can be as easy as posting a message on someone’s Facebook wall or sending them a PM. You can also just pick up the phone and tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. Or, if they are someone you see often, like your partner, kids, parents, siblings, kabarkada, and so on, make sure you take some time out the next time you see them to thank them for their role in helping you to become who you are, as well as for more tangible ways they have supported you over the years.

If you’re reading this, I’m going to take this opportunity to say thank you for following me and being such a great audience this year. I really appreciate all your comments, your likes and shares, and the time you take to read my posts.

Pay off a debt.

Some people like to say that you should end each year debt-free, but let’s be practical here—when that debt is something like a mortgage or a business loan or any large amount, that isn’t always possible. But if there are little debts you can afford to pay off (or even if it’s just advancing a little more than usual on your credit card payments or any other bills so you don’t have to worry about them at the start of the year), I’d suggest that you do it.

There are also cases of non-monetary debts, like when a friend has done you a favor and you know you’re in a position to do one back in turn, or to pay it forward.

Take a few minutes, an hour, even a day or two before the end of the year to work on balancing the scales a little more.

Share your blessings.

Apart from balancing the scales, you can tip them in your favor by sharing your blessings. Are there good deeds you can easily do for people you know or even for perfect strangers? Or maybe you can take time out with your family and friends to volunteer, perhaps to play with kids at an orphanage or do some sort of last minute charity work before the year ends.

Also consider that the holidays are coming up, and not everyone can afford a feast to celebrate Christmas or New Year. Consider contacting local homes, shelters, orphanages, and such and asking them what you can contribute toward their holiday meals. Or even what you can contribute to them in the long term.

Do a post-mortem.

If you’re going to make sure next year is better than this year, take a little time to sit and reflect on the year that’s passed. Do a little soul searching. Are there goals you failed to meet this year that you need to revisit next year? Are there things you achieved that you can take one step further? Are there things you didn’t prioritize that need to take a bigger role in your work or personal life?

Even just sitting and thinking these things through will help a lot already, but for best results, I would recommend writing these down, even if no one buy you sees them. Even better, if you can ask your friend, sibling, or spouse to be your accountability partner going into the new year and do the same for them, that’ll help you ensure that not only will you have support for achieving your dreams next year, but you’ll also be helping someone do the same.

Treat yourself.

Last but definitely not least, make sure to indulge a little! Especially if you’re a mom. With the holidays coming up, the pressure is on to make sure presents are bought and wrapped, parties are planned and food prepared for the many get-togethers sure to be scheduled, and the house looks gorgeous going into the new year.

But all that effort is no good if we start the new year stressed or, worse, haggard! So make sure to schedule a spa day for yourself, or even just a staycation for Netflix and chill. Leave the kids with their grandparents for their weekend and book a room at a hotel or just take a road trip. Do whatever helps you rejuvenate so you can start the new year with a smile on your face and the energy to face another 12 months of awesomeness.

 

Realign your Life

Every year, around October to December, I set a day in my life to realign my life. By definition, to realign means to change or restore to a different or former position or state or to change one’s position or attitude with regard to (a person, organization, or cause). I think  realignment is necessary as our environment changes, but most importantly, we change as people. Even if just a year has gone by, a lot of things happen in a year.

Last year, I’ve defined a mission for myself. That mission is to help more aspiring business owners and freelancers create and start their own businesses and careers. And I do this, through all of the businesses and consultation that I have been doing. This year, I will still focus on that, but I will zoom in further.

I will zoom in further into these two aspects: one is legalizing their businesses and careers and the other one is to spread news about the amazing small business owners that we have in the Philippines.

For my personal goals, these are the goals that I have set for myself this coming year:

Relationship with Family and Friends
– I will spend one on one dates with Zeeka once a week
– I will spend one on one dates with EJ once a week

Personal Growth
– I will set aside time for studying more about different topics, not just those related to my craft or expertise

Spirituality
– I will pray more often

Finances
– I will add more to the investments that I have, especially those with the objective of helping in Zeeka’s tuition fees for college. I want her not to worry about the school and just focus on where she wants to go for college.

Career
– I will fix and create more online courses for aspiring and current business owners and professionals

Leisure Time
– I will travel internationally at least thrice this year

Volunterism
– I will continue to donate to the organizations that I am contributing to
– I will volunteer to help some small businesses fix processes for their company

Health and Fitness
– I will workout three times a week.

These are the things that I have thought of this week. I have a more detailed breakdown of these things on an excel sheet.

Have you thought of what you want to do next year? Have you thought of your goals and plans? If you have, please share them with me! I’d love to hear more about them 🙂

Momtrepreneur: Goal Setting

During the start of the year, it has always become a habit of mine to reflect and to contemplate. If there’s one thing that I like doing, I love contemplating, creating goals and thinking of ways on how to achieve them. I know that some of us do this, but some may also consider it very tedious and time consuming. I’d like to share how me and my husband do our goal planning or goal setting. We have done this since the time we got married in December 2009. I, personally, have done it since 2007.

Okay, for this year, we have already actually made our plans last December. We agree on a set schedule and we really sit on it. I have learned from a previous female boss that once you really block of something in your calendar, it helps you stick to this schedule. I know that their are things that may come in the way of the schedule that may delay and even cancel it, but all you need to do is reschedule. Both of you and even all your children should stick by this ‘agreed’ goal setting meeting.

Now that you have gathered everyone, ask each member of the family to share what they want for the themselves, the family and for other people in the future. To make it fun for the kids, they can cut out pictures from magazines or draw something that will answer all of these questions. This time of reflection will lead you to knowing your family’s vision/mission. Since right now, it’s just me and my husband, we discussed it and we found out our vision for our family. The vision of our family is to be “A family that will spread knowledge through various media to help people grow and achieve their goals in life.

We realized that both of us have this gift of spreading knowledge using our skills. EJ is a great presenter and communicator. In the future, he really wants to try it out as a motivational or attitudinal speaker. I am great at events coordination so my business, Manila Workshops, for me, will be the medium that I will use to help spread knowledge. Both of us are bloggers and this year, we intend to carry out this vision by writing more educational and informative articles that would be beneficial for our readers. So that’s our vision? Do you have your own family vision/mission already?

Momtrepreneur Goal Setting

Now going back to the goal setting activity, once you have your vision/mission, you now can create goals. What we do in our home is divide the goals into categories. In my list, we have divided our goals into seven sub-categories. These are:
– Goals related to the baby (since this is a major change in our lives in 2013)
– Spiritual Goals
– Financial Goals
– Fitness and Health Goals
– Career Goals
– Mental Goals
– New things and experiences

I also have columns on who will be the main driver of a particular goal. The driver will be the one encouraging the other family members to work on the goal. I also have another column for duration. I have a set deadline for each of the goal.

It really depends on you and your family on how you want to create the sub categories or even how to lay them out or how to document them. I use an excel spreadsheet, but for some families, they use manila paper. Others use a plain sheet of white paper. For us, it has been like this for the past 3 years. I still have the file from three years ago. What changed is that we just added the goals related to the baby this year 🙂

To cast this is stone, I print out the paper and have me and EJ sign the paper. We then do a monthly review of our goals just to see that we are on track.

How about you, mommy? What do you do to set goals for the year? Do you have any activity that you and your family go through for goal setting and planning? How do you do it? I’d love to hear how you do it at your home, momtrepreneur?

Love lots,

Mommy Ginger

Mommy Ginger