tia delano

3 Things To Do In October for Financial Health

Welcome to October! As we step into the season associated with cooler weather and harvest time, it’s time to enjoy this break from the long, hot days of summer.

While autumn isn’t my favorite season, it is a great time to get certain things done before the end of the year. October marks the last quarter of the year, and it’s a perfect time for a bit of increased activity, especially since many businesses end their fiscal tax years at the end of September. Careful planning and execution in October, November and December can set businesses up for success in the months to follow.

Whether you have a calendar year or fiscal year schedule for your business, or if you have no business at all, there are a few things that you may want to do in October that can help improve your financial health. Here are some tips for this month:

  • Consider the charitable contributions that you want to make before the end of the year. With the focus on multiple charitable causes, heritage recognition and awareness (October is the month for Breast Cancer Awareness, National ADD/ADHD Awareness, Filipino American Heritage, LGBT History and Down Syndrome Awareness, just to name a few!), this is the perfect time to think about what you want to give to the charitable organizations of your choice. If you itemize, this could be a wonderful way to reduce your taxable income. If you don’t itemize on your tax returns, this may be not helpful to you as far as taxes go, since the current exception ($300 in charitable contributions are deductible for nonitemizers in tax year 2021) is set to expire at the end of the year, unless Congress intervenes.
  • Check your tax deadlines and start working on items that need to be completed before the 17th. Several major tax deadlines occur this month, so you may want to review your documents and see what may be due in the next few weeks.
  • Consider adjusting your withholding so that you have more income available during the holiday (peak travel/shopping) season. If you always get a refund and have never adjusted your withholding to get a little more of your money back with each paycheck, this is a good time to figure out if you want to update your W-4 (federal withholding form) so you can have more of your income now, instead of having to wait for your tax refund in the upcoming year. It’s a calculation you may want to discuss with a tax professional, so you don’t create a tax liability due to miscalculation.

Those are the tips for October! Are there any other things that you plan to do this month to improve your financial health? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

5 Income Sources You Can Create For Yourself Now

Happy Finance Friday! I hope you all had a great, prosperous week. If not, then I hope this post gives you some ideas for turning your money story around, and for majorly upleveling your finances.

Many of the discussions around money center around making more (which is what I’ll be talking about today) and spending less (to be discussed soon). These are the cornerstones to creating financial freedom, so the quicker you can implement them, the better your results. But when it comes to quickly implementing money-making strategies, there is usually this looming sense of overwhelm and a lack of clarity regarding where to start first.

Never fear: here are 5 income sources that you can create quickly, so you can start making more money NOW. I’m keeping it simple, giving you links and sources that you can explore right now, to start making money quickly and to give your finances a boost.

Tutoring – There are many online tutoring platforms, but I recommend Cambly for its ease of use. Once you’ve signed up and your profile is approved, you can sign up for Priority Hours, which guarantee that you will get priority student placements (basically, students are routed to you first) and you are guaranteed to receive partial payment for the hour, even if you don’t get any students routed to you (this is rare, but it can happen). It pays about $10 per hour, so it won’t make you a millionaire, but if you do one hour a day, that’s $300 per month that you can use to treat yourself, knock out debt, or invest in your future.

Make printables – if you’re creative, this is a fabulous way to make money without having to keep a bunch of physical inventory. Design cute templates and printable documents using free online software (like Canva), then upload the designs to your own website or to another platform (like Etsy). You can be making money within a few hours, if this interests you.

eBay store ownership – Sign up for an eBay account, take pictures of your stuff, then upload and set your price. Yes, there’s a little more to it (writing out descriptions, figuring out what has to happen once the items are purchased, etc.). However, this is one of the quickest ways to make money with what you already have.

Personal assistant work – Fiverr, TaskRabbit, and Upwork are just three of the platforms where you can advertise your skills as a personal assistant. Yes, even TaskRabbit has options beyond yardwork and furniture moving: you can find gigs for errands and clerical tasks. Once you set up your profiles on these websites, you can start making money.

Host virtual cocktails – This is great if you’re social and want to quickly monetize your popularity. Come up with a fun cocktail idea, set up a FB event page for it, work out the Zoom (or other meeting platform) details, then start selling tickets. Yes, it will take a few moments to set up a way to receive your payments, but that’s what PayPal, Zelle and CashApp are for. If you’re a fabulous hostess, you can make a memoral event happen from the comfort of your home.

These are just a few ideas for generating money quickly so you can start hitting your financial goals. Look out for another post in a few weeks, discussing 5 ways to spend less money, so you can hold on to more of what you earn. Have a great weekend!

Still Need Student Loan Debt Assistance? There’s Help For You.

The recent announcement of federal student loan debt forgiveness has exposed strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Aside from the passionate arguments from the pro and con crowds, there are many other issues and points of discussion that have arisen in light of loan forgiveness. One of the less discussed aspects of student loan debt debacle is the balances owed even after some debt has been forgiven. Many people will still have enormous debt, even after receiving the maximum forgiveness available.

For those that will still need assistance after the forgiveness is applied, there is a webinar that may provide some guidance that is helpful. The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is sponsoring a Student Loan Debt Webinar to provide resources and strategies to assist indebted individuals. The webinar is scheduled for September 22, 2022, starting at 7:00 PM EST. The session is scheduled to last for roughly 1.5 hours, so expect lots of valuable information: don’t forget your notebooks!

NCNW is, “Washington, D.C.-based charitable organization making a difference in the lives of women, children, and families through a four-pronged strategy that emphasizes entrepreneurship, health equity, STEAM education, and social justice.” The organization does a splendid job of offering timely tips and actionable information, and I think the Student Loan Debt Webinar will be an invaluable resource to those interested. With nearly 100 years of commitment to service, the organization has a long track record of giving back and uplifting the population it serves.

If I find any other useful information for you all (regarding student loan debt or any other barriers to financial freedom), I’ll be sure to post them here!

Tracking The Good Stuff – My Results

The past several weeks may have been difficult for you (I certainly felt the energy of difficulty and frustration). Last week, I mentioned that I would be focusing on all of the good stuff that came into my life. Keeping a Goodness Log is a great idea if you need to turn your mind away from frustrating topics and to put your attention toward what you prefer to have. Given the overall negative slant of most of the information that we’ve been getting, a Goodness Log can be just what you need to get your mindset back to where you want it to be.

I noticed that I experienced SO MUCH goodness last week: actually, there were too many good things to capture them all in this post. So, I’m going to share some of my highlights. Here’s some of the goodness that came my way over the past week:

  • I had a luxurious dinner with my lovely daughter at Hondo’s
  • I saved quite a bit of money on a few of my food delivery orders
  • I received a free set of candles to review on one of my YouTube channels
  • I got some fabulous instruction regarding which direction I needed to go in my businesses
  • I had wonderful conversations with some of my dearest friends
  • I got some great resources that will help me fill the gaps within my daughter’s educational program
  • I found some information that I needed to complete a chapter in my upcoming book
  • My schedule had a lot of restorative free time (much needed)
  • I saw increased channel and blog activity

The goodness is coming in, everyone! This exercise really helped me to get back to the positive mindset that I prefer. I’m hoping that you all felt an energy shift from keeping a log, too!

Making Your Labor Count – 3 Ways To Make The Most of Work

In the United States, yesterday was Labor Day. This day observes those American works that advocated for labor law improvements that established guidelines for ethical, reasonable work and that opened the way for safer work environments, fair(er) pay and better work schedules. While the state of US labor still has much room for improvement, this holiday recognizes the workers that paved the way for better work for all.

As I reflect on Labor Day, I think of how those early advocates would be both delighted and dismayed by the current state of work here in the US. I also thought about individuals within the workforce, and how they can position themselves to make the most of their careers and the experiences afforded to them by virtue of their professions. Here are three ways that we (because I’m still an employee, too!) can make the most of our time as employees:

  • Explore and take advantage of employee benefits. Free or lowered price training, various insurances, shopping discounts, access to restricted spaces and exclusive events: find out all of the benefits available to you from your employer. Then take advantage of every program, benefit, and perk that you can. If these perks can be enjoyed on the clock, even better!
  • Network like crazy while you’re there. Wherever you work, remember that you are less than six degrees from people that can assist you with your goals. So meet as many people as you can, and add these individuals to your network. The thought that a person should only go to work and refuse to develop networks within their sphere of influence is antiquated and limiting. Many people that hold this perspective will also complain about job stagnancy and air their frustrations over how better networkers get certain promotions and advantages within the workplace. Your dream role may be just one crucial contact away from where you are right now. Learn to network so that you can tap into all of the opportunities just beyond your reach.
  • Do a skills audit so you can quantify what you learned and make moves based on your skill set. Examine the skills you’ve gained on the job, and determine which ones would qualify you for a better position (spoiler alert: ALL skills have the potential to qualify you for something better). If you struggle with identifying and enhancing your skills, you can get a skills audit done by me. I offer this audit so that, instead of feeling overwhelmed or disempowered, you can devise a plan of action that moves you confidently toward the career of your dreams! As employees, most of us are more talented, skilled, and desirable than we know. The skills we have are often downplayed by us (as an attempt to display humility) or others (part of getting us to accept less than we deserve). If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, or what you bring to the job market, contact me: I can help you pinpoint your talents and tell you how to leverage them to your advantage.

Those are my top tips for getting the most out of your current job. What are some of your tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Keeping Track Of The Good Stuff

After a few weeks of keeping tabs on the highly misinformed conversations surrounding the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA 2022), I decided that I needed something lighter, but still beneficial, to discuss over here. Now, if something big comes up with IRA 2022 that I need to discuss, then of course I’ll share it (staying informed about tax legislation is what I love to do). But for today, we’re taking a break and doing something refreshing.

Many times, as we talk about finance, money, budgets, and the like, most of the conversation centers around the tasks needed to create more cash and less stress. Conversations about money almost always come from a place of restriction, instead of abundance. Most of us to taught to focus on what we eliminate, and how much we hold on to, to measure our success with our budgets and our financial freedom journeys.

But what if, instead of only focusing on what stays in our grasps, we focus on what flows in with ease? What if we counted the non-monetary “wins” alongside the others, like when someone gives us priceless information, or when find the perfect parking space, or when the store is fully stocked with everything that you want and need to buy?

What if we kept a log of all of the good stuff that happens each day?

Well, let me tell you all: I’ve done this very exercise as part of my work with my business and lifestyle coach. And this approach has really opened the floodgates of abundance into my life.

The more we realize that everything is interconnected, the more we can see and believe that small, positive changes in one area absolutely creates positive changes (small and large) in other areas of our lives. Nothing exists in a bubble, and calibrating our minds and lifestyles for goodness creates fertile soil for welcoming even more of the things we want (like more money coming in an enjoyable way, more time to do the things we love, etc.,).

So, for a week, try keeping a Goodness Log. Write down every good thing that happens to you – whether it connects directly to money or not – and see how you feel at the end of the week when you review it. It does wonders for shifting your mindset and opening you up to more possibilities, better emotions and, yes, more abundance. I will keep a log this week, too, and share my results in a future post!

5 Reasons Why We Don’t Earn Enough Money

Hi friends! I have a little bit of a surprise coming in a couple of days, but before I can unveil that, I have to cover a topic that I know has been on a lot of minds, and that seems to be discussed more and more in public forums as the economy goes through its ups and downs.

Many of us work hard, do a good job, and yet we still don’t seem to earn enough money. This is a problem that I had personally for years, until I made some crucial changes that helped me to turn this around (more about those changes in a minute). There are at least five common reasons why we don’t earn enough money, and I’d like to discuss these with you, as well as point you in the direction of some support for turning these reasons around.

  1. We didn’t do skill audits when needed. A skill audit is a deep dive into our knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs, for those that are familiar with federal job terminology). Listing our skills then having a deep appreciation for what we’ve mastered is critical to understanding our worth in tangible measurements. Without this knowing, it’s nearly impossible to be adequately compensated for our work. After all, if we aren’t clear about our value, how can we appropriately price our labor when interacting with clients and employers?
  2. We undervalued our skills. Even when we’re crystal clear about what’s in our skill set, we can still under-price ourselves. Many of us believe that timidity, and being the “lowest bidder”, will ensure that we get the clients or the jobs that we want. And it’s true that doing this may get us jobs and clients, however . . . We often find that undervaluing our labor means that we work harder, get burned out faster, and earn less over time. Please don’t let the current conversations about the desperation in the job market discourage you: there are enough positions available at every income level to satisfy your earning desires, and you don’t have to undervalue yourself just to secure employment.
  3. We have outdated money beliefs. Once upon a time, we believed that telecommuting and virtual work environments were only available to the few lucky people that happened to stumble upon progressive employers. Then 2020 happened, and we found out that a lot of employers that previously found telework to be “infeasible” and “unsustainable” could now operate with 100% virtual teams. I mention this example to illustrate that our money beliefs should be constantly shifting because our realities are always transforming. For that reason, we have to ask ourselves honestly whether we believe that we can actually earn more, that employers and clients are willing to pay what we ask, and that there are environments that will support the kind of work we wish to do. Only after considering these things can we remove this block in our earning potential.
  4. We accepted principle over profit. This is probably the only reason that may remain even after going through the other points. Sometimes, we choose work that is underpaid but rewarding (education and farming are two fields that come to mind immediately) because we’ve decided that the emotional rewards outweigh the financial gain. It is possible to have abundant income and deeply purposeful work all wrapped in one, but if our main motivation is principle, we may not seek out more lucrative opportunities. The goal should always be adequate or abundant income, coming from meaningful work. We should never have to choose between the two and, if our financial gain means that we have to compromise our values, then the opportunity isn’t worth it.
  5. We’re paralyzed by fear. This is probably the biggest one, because it’s the only thing that requires constant monitoring and addressing issues as they arise. It’s also the only point that can’t be easily corrected by introducing objective information. Our fears can convince us of monsters in teh shadows and can keep us from taking leaps of faith. However, it’s key to note that we are always larger than our fears, and we can always choose to be brave. Our future selves require us to be courageous and take one step forward, then another, even when we don’t know exactly where it will lead us.

I’ve personally gone through each of these reasons for underearning. I didn’t understand the breadth of my skillset, I did work where I was grossly underpaid, I believed that my dream salary wasn’t possible due to XYZ (insert lots of detrimental thinking here), I engaged in meaningful work that didn’t pay much, and I’ve been so scared that I wouldn’t even apply to certain jobs. I’ve tackled each of them one by one, in order to dismantle my money blocks and earn more money than ever. Now my work is simultaneously interesting, full of purpose, and well paid. I also got to tap into one of my core values – flexibility – since I now have a position where I can choose my work schedule based on my needs.

I’m here for you all if you need help with reason #1 – identifying your current skill set. I am currently offering a skills audit package on my Services page, so you can see my approach to quantifying your KSAs. It includes a telephone/zoom conversation with me, as well as a beautifully formatted document that you can use when seeking new earning opportunities, and you can customize it as you add new skills to your toolkit. It’s perfect for helping you get clear on your depth of expertise and how to position yourself to earn what you want and deserve. The skills audit will also help you overcome any of the five reasons that may be blocking you from earning more money, as well as any skills gaps, and recommend how to address these gaps in the most affordable and efficient way.

Those are my top five reasons why we may not be earning enough money. Look out for more insights in upcoming posts! Take care.

Why the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Should Worry You

You’ll have to journey with me a bit, before you see that this post is not quite what it seems. . .

No, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not be hiring 87,000 special agents. I’ve written about this in several places (beyond this blog), because I cannot stand sensationalism. It’s an abundance of emotion and an absence of sound, factual research that makes me shake my head in disappointment. I usually point to it as a failing of the US education system, but it is often information spread by “learned” people that are experts at exploiting the vulnerabilities of others (including the lack of critical thinking displayed by many) behind the outrage and fallacies being shared. I explained all about the misinformation regarding IRS hiring over on LinkedIn, but I’ll share a copy of that text below, as well.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

As written August 11:

In July, I posted on my blog that the Inflation Reduction Act, if passed, would allocate $124 billion for IRS tax enforcement. I also stated that this meant more IRS collection jobs would be announced. These jobs would be revenue agents and officers, auditors and specialists, etc.,.

Imagine my surprise when today, I saw the rumors of 87,000 SPECIAL agents being added to IRS. I laughed immediately, because I know the difference between a special agent and a revenue agent, and I also chuckled because I knew that there was NO WAY that IRS would double their workforce by hiring special agents exclusively. Special agents do not consistently collect enough money for IRS – with a current staff of 82,000 – to bring on a group SPECIAL agents than exceed the number of staff they have currently.

There is a difference between revenue agents and special agents. Revenue agents are auditors and unarmed. They do the bulk of the audits conducted by IRS. Special agents are law enforcement, just like FBI and CIA agents. FBI special agents have strikingly similar job duties. IRS’s special agents are armed, because they go to FLETC in Georgia. No official sources have confirmed this 87k hiring boom, and several sources indicate that this is a rumor at best. This rumor came from a poorly comprehended report and a desire to sensationalize a hot topic that few people actually understand.

But, I’ll play along and pretend the 87k hiring rumor is true. Assuming that IRS does hire 87k ppl, I assure you that the majority of those ppl will be tax specialists, revenue officers and revenue agents, not special agents, who really don’t generate revenue consistently enough to justify this type of hiring push.

Please continue to read, read, read, and use your power of discernment. Don’t go by what one source says (even if the source is this post!) If I’m wrong, then I’ll personally put up another post admitting it. But I’m pretty sure I’m not. I just want you all to continue to be wise, be alert, and watch out for those that monetize and exploit your outrage.

I wrote a detailed post in late July about the potential impact of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA 2022), and it’s most likely effects on tax law (you can read that here). Yet still, several days after IRA 2022, I see lawmakers actually spreading the same tripe as quoted by careless Twitter users that have never worked at IRS and, prior to IRA 2022, were completely unaware that IRS has special agents, which are not the same as revenue agents.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The whole quote of 87,000 agents that IRS will be hiring? It was an estimate proposed last May, that is in no way a definite plan for this year, just a “wish list” that I, as a federal employee, can confirm is hopeful at best, and IRS would be lucky to hire and retain half of this amount. The hiring levels rarely meet the amounts that agencies project, simply because turnover still happens, other hiring takes priority, and some people will leave because of termination, resignation, or transfer to other agencies. Also, this is a projection for a 10 year hiring plan, because there isn’t enough staff or resources to possibly train 87,000 agents within the next year. The IRS has recorded a record low of auditors and agents, with numbers being the lowest they’ve been since World War II.

Cries about these auditors and agents targeting people earning less than $400,000? Accurate on the surface, but it takes a little digging to understand a critical point. The assertions about people earning less than $400,000 came from Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who stated something that many completely disregarded (or simply were unable to comprehend): she directed that, “any additional resources—including any new personnel or auditors that are hired—shall not be used to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels.” That historical levels part really tripped up the speedy (non-critical) readers, and caused all manner of histrionics. According to IRS, these agents, “cannot simply be assigned to global high wealth, partnership, or large and complex business examinations without the requisite skills, training, and experience to analyze returns that are highly complex[…]”; that means they will have to practice honing their audit skills prior to get these $400K+ returns. And, since the historical levels have been much higher than they are currently, you can reasonably expect that some individuals earning less than $400K per year will be audited because, historically, they were. I’d be worried if you follow advice from people who refuse to read for clarity, and who jump on catchy soundbites that suit certain narratives.

Again, to be clear, no one said that all individuals earning less than $400K would be audit free: EVERYONE has noted that the audits for this group shouldn’t go up disproportionately. Only time will tell whether this will happen, but on the outset, realize that Yellen never said that people earning less than $400K were exempt from audits. Many skipped over this part because it didn’t serve a narrative about IRS being the horrible bullies that mistreat every American that cross their paths.

As I stated above in my post from LinkedIn, one source is not enough, and exploitation and monetization of outrage is exactly what certain influential groups desire. I’ve read information from IRS, Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Congressional Budget Office (CBO), as well as groups that disagreed with the measures, such as The Heritage Foundation and a statement from the Republican House Budget Committee Members. I’d caution most people to read multiple sources – from a variety of perspectives – and to ask, “Qui bono?” (Who benefits?) as you read. The same people criticizing certain tax legislation often organize groups, movements, and products designed to get money from their supporters/readers. The same can absolutely be said for those that are eager to support tax legislation, without offering critical analyses of how they have reached the conclusions they so eagerly share on their platforms and social media at large. In short, hot takes are rarely supported by the amount of analysis needed to make a balanced and fair assessment. These groups KNOW that, and capitalize on it.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Our rapt attention is currency (hence the phrase, “Pay attention”). Be mindful of how your attention has been monetized by the people whose opinions you adore: most of them are pandering to our worst fears because it is (and always has been) a lucrative gig, and it’s a far more profitable angle than giving balanced, neutral opinions that neither stir hope nor fear in our hearts. Our biggest worry about IRA 2022 should be all of the people trying to cash in on our worries: they’ve figured out how to “sell shovels” to us and many of us don’t even know it.

Finance Friday – What I’m Reading

Along with posting three finance tips every month (you can read the tip for August here), I aim to share one finance book that I think will be helpful for you all. I’ll make sure that I introduce the book of the month at the beginning of the post, and give my favorite points from the previous month’s book in the middle to the end of the post.

This month’s book is Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach. I’ve been a fan of Bach for years, and this book in particular has been on my “to complete” list for a while. So this month seemed like the perfect time to restart and finish this book. I love Bach’s approach, and I’m excited to share my favorite takeaways next month, when I announce the next book of the month.

What finance books are you reading this month? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!