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Whitney Hansen
3 days ago

5 Ways to Beat Procrastination Once and For All

freelance
working from home
Let me be incredibly honest for a second. I secretly dream of being the most productive person I know. In fact, I even told my S.O. that the other day and he looked at me with a confused look on his face, and said, “What does that even mean?”

Good question, right? After reflecting on this question, I found my own definition of productivity. To me, it means that I...
Let me be incredibly honest for a second. I secretly dream of being the most productive person I know. In fact, I even told my S.O. that the other day and he looked at me with a confused look on his face, and said, “What does that even mean?”

Good question, right? After reflecting on this question, I found my own definition of productivity. To me, it means that I focus on producing results instead of equating productivity with time spent working.

I would much rather complete a couple key projects in a week, then claim I worked 50 hours and didn’t actually finish any of my needle-mover tasks. So, here are my top 5 ways to beat procrastination once and for all.

Focused work, frequent breaks
Sometimes the most effective solutions are also the simplest. The pomodoro technique completely transformed the way I work. And it’s free.99 so you don’t have to worry about an expensive piece of software.

Here’s how it works. Grab your phone timer or a kitchen timer. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Then for 25 minutes work on one task (focus on this one thing!). Then when the timer beeps, set it again for 5 minutes, and take a short little break.

If you are finding that 25 minutes isn’t enough time to focus on a task full force, increase it to 30. Then slowly build up to a time that works best for you, but make sure you’re taking breaks. I find that for me personally, a solid 35 minutes of work time and 5-10 minute breaks work wonders.

I prefer having an external timer instead of on my phone, because I’m super prone to distraction and might just find myself on Instagram scrolling wanderlessly. This little cube timer is incredible. It costs ~$18 and is worth every penny if it helps you produce.

MIT = Most Important Tasks
Prioritization is super hard when you have competing priorities. But by using the 3 MITs (most important tasks), you’re forcing yourself to focus in on what really matters and prioritize what is most important and timely and what can wait.

Here's how it works. Hone in on the three things you need to accomplish today. If you are focusing in on only 3 things, you’re much more likely to get those done and feel productive in the process. 

Most people have a running to-do list of things that need to be accomplished and end up checking off one or two small things that don’t actually move the needle and get you closer to truly producing results.

So before you open your email, jump on social media, or touch your computer, write down three things that you need to complete today. I write these on a sticky note and put them on my laptop. That way I can check them off when they are completed and be reminded of my MITs.

Extra credit if you set your 3 MITs the night before, but I rarely do that.

I get most of my ideas and reminders in the shower. I use my shower notes as a way of jotting down the important (and unimportant) stuff that comes to mind. A lot of times, when I hop out of the shower, I have my 3 MITs already ready to go so I can immediately go downstairs and make my coffee, eat breakfast and get to work.

Your personal mantra
Mantras seem super woo-woo, but I find a lot of people already use mantras without even realizing it. Mantras are the little words of wisdom, affirmation, or quotes you tell yourself to get you to take action. When you say, “I’ve got this!” or “I can do it!,” that’s basically a mantra.

Here’s how it works: Next time you find yourself procrastinating, or pondering Netflix vs. the gym, pull out your mantra and repeat it three times to yourself. Repetition is key to habit change.

My personal mantra is “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” =I will legitimately say this aloud (if I’m by myself) or in my head and it is my trigger to start working and focus on taking immediate action.

Don’t knock it until you try it. But also try it more then one time– as I mentioned earlier, repetition is the secret to change and one the ways to beat procrastination.

5-second rule
No, this isn’t the amount of time that you can drop food and the ground and still be able to eat it. It’s a super simple way to force yourself to take action even when you don’t want to. It was made mainstream by author and motivational speaker Mel Robbins.

Here’s how it works. When we count down to ourselves, we pay attention and prep our bodies to take action. Mel discovered this while watching TV one night as a rocket ship was launching. She noticed that they counted down– 5….4….3…2…1 and immediately launched.

After realizing that, she decided to try this in her own life to help her wake up in the morning without pushing snooze. She heard the alarm go off, counted 5-4-3-2-1 and launched out of bed without pushing snooze. It worked. Then she used it for job hunting, working, going to the gym. And it worked.

I’ve tested this in my own life and it really does work if you do it. It’s very different than counting up from 1-5, tool. When you countdown, because there isn’t a number that we naturally go to after 0, you are more likely to take that action. I’m not a behavioral psychologist here, but the concept really does have some legs. I find myself going back to it quite a bit.

Limit Your Time on Social Media
You guys, no joke, I’ve found myself browsing Instagram/Facebook sometimes and looking up to see that I legitimately spent 2 HOURS mindlessly scrolling. WTF? Two hours is a lot of time to just waste when my goals are as big as they are. I have a feeling you’ve been there too. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I find that I have to almost treat myself like a teenager and put some parental controls in place. It’s ridiculous, but hey- this is where I am. It’s one of the best ways to beat procrastination.

Here’s how it works. To limit social media time, it’s important to know where you’re starting. Most iPhones now come equipped with Screen Time so you can see exactly how many hours and minutes you spent on your browser, email, social media, etc. It’s super helpful…and slightly depressing!

Set a goal for yourself. My personal goal is to be on social media less than 2 hours a day. This seems like a lot, but keep in mind, I run an online business and social media is a huge part of my marketing channels.

Set a goal for yourself too. How much time do you feel comfortable spending on social media per day? Do you want to check your platforms in the morning (this is a rhetorical question- of course you don’t want to see the world’s nastiness first thing in the morning)? How often do you find yourself reaching for your phone out of habit rather than necessity?

Now some barriers and use the other tips above to help you stick with your planned social media time.

Need some extra help?This chrome extension removes all your FB newsfeed and gives you a nice inspirational quote on your FB feed. It’s really helpful! 

You can also remove the apps from your phone. If you just got anxiety thinking about this, it’s probably a good sign you should do it temporarily. Remember- you can always add it back on your phone if you hate it.

You can also try this StayFocusd chrome extension, which allows you to block certain websites and social media feeds during set hours of the day. 
 
If you're interested in connecting with Whitney Hansen for one-on-one coaching, reach out here. If you want to hear more from her, check out this episode featuring Whitney on the Nav.it podcast.
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Lisette Austin
4 days ago

Travel Hack Alert: How to Get Wifi While Traveling

travel
travel hacks
With all my recent travel, I’ve been needing to catch up on work (and blogging) on flights. This means I need to use wifi. I often forget to pre-pay for a gogo in-flight pass, which is already fairly expensive at $20 for an all day pass. Once you are on the plane the price goes up even more. I don’t know about you, but I think paying $20-$30 for a few hours of wifi is a...
With all my recent travel, I’ve been needing to catch up on work (and blogging) on flights. This means I need to use wifi. I often forget to pre-pay for a gogo in-flight pass, which is already fairly expensive at $20 for an all day pass. Once you are on the plane the price goes up even more. I don’t know about you, but I think paying $20-$30 for a few hours of wifi is a complete rip-off. 

Enter the travel hack for how to get wifi while traveling.

I stumbled across this when frustrated that I would have to pay $10 for just a few minutes of wifi to check my email. I had noticed that I could still do Google searches but just couldn’t access actual websites. I started searching for hacks for free wifi, and hoped to catch something in the meta description viewable on the google search page.

This led me to a YouTube video about how to get free wifi, but I couldn’t view the video. Thankfully someone explained in the comments (for some reason I could view YouTube pages).Here’s what you do
And this should work on Alaska, American and Delta (not sure about United):
  • Get on the Gogo in-flight wifi network
  • Open your browser
  • When the Gogo entertainment page pops up – look for where they list movies you can watch for free inflight. Click on a free movie.
  • You will then go to a page saying you need the Gogo in-flight app in order to watch the movie. Click on the option to download it from the app store (even if you already have it)
  • Fill out the captcha form which will then allow you to move on to the app store
  • Don’t bother with downloading the app, instead immediately return to your browser (or texting or mail apps) because you now have about 10-15 minutes of free wifi!
  • Once your wifi time runs out, repeat the steps above. I found I could do this about 8-10 times before they said my limit was up. Then I switched to another device.
Why this works
The reason why this works is that in order for you to be able to watch the free movie, they have to allow you to download the Gogo app (many people don’t realize before they get on the plane that they will need it). So a temporary portal to wifi internet is opened, giving you enough time to download and set up the app. So simple. 

Of course this is a hack, so try it at your own risk – and who knows how long it will last. But now you know how to get wifi while traveling.

Happy internet browsing, Nav.igators!


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Whitney Hansen
7 days ago

Part 2: The Ultimate Guide to How I Paid Off My Debt and Celebrated in Hawaii

travel
debt
If you haven’t yet read part 1, go back to get the foundation for how I paid off my debt ($30,000 !!) in just 10 months. If you have, you’re ready for the tools to my success.

Step 3: The tools
Paying off debt is not an easy task. A plan isn’t enough. Working two jobs isn’t...
If you haven’t yet read part 1, go back to get the foundation for how I paid off my debt ($30,000 !!) in just 10 months. If you have, you’re ready for the tools to my success.

Step 3: The tools
Paying off debt is not an easy task. A plan isn’t enough. Working two jobs isn’t enough. Sacrificing isn’t enough.You need to have the right tools under your belt.

Don’t underestimate the importance of creating an effective budget. Creating a budget is nice and even easy to do ...but creating an effective budget--that’s a different story.

Fortunately, I learned some extremely valuable tips to creating a budget that works. Effective budgeting makes your money start working for you. It takes into consideration paying off debt, building up an oh sh*t emergency fund, saving for retirement, and even sneaky expenses like holidays and birthdays. (Pro-tip: using the Nav.it app can make all of this even easier.)

Trick to saving hundreds in student loan debt
One trick to how I paid off my debt is by paying principal only. Your payment is composed of two main pieces: principle and interest.

When you make a payment, the amount paid is divided into interest and principal. Paying principal only means that your money is going toward the amount borrowed only--and NOT to the banks pockets.

But did you know you can’t pay principal-only on student loans?
Don’t worry; I learned a secret workaround for this. This secret literally saved me hundreds of dollars. I put my findings in this handy cheat sheet and added a couple more tips in the cheat sheet as well. It’s free, so download it, print it off and keep it handy as you go through your process of paying off student debt.

Stay motivated throughout the process
Getting out of debt isn’t easy. You have to keep going back to your “why” to stay motivated and on track. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Why are you getting out of debt? 
  • What are the feelings you felt that led to you wanting to make this change? 
  • Are you embarrassed? Did you overdraft your checking account? 
  • Did you not have enough money in your account to buy groceries? 
Reminding yourself of your story and your "why" will keep you motivated throughout this process. That’s how I paid off my debt.

Step 4: Living a Debt-Free Life
Do you know how nice it is to have the freedom to travel whenever you want, spend $500 on a shopping trip guilt-free, and purchase luxury items? It’s not out of your reach.

You can do it.

In May 2014, I went to Kauai. Kauai is a beautiful, beautiful island. I hiked along the Napali Coast, some of the most rugged and gorgeous terrain; snorkeled with tropical fish and turtles; watched endangered monk seals snooze; rode in a helicopter around the island; drank Mai Tais, relaxed while reading on the beach; and my favorite memory--got caught hiking in a tropical rainstorm.

But the best part of livin’ the debt free life…When I return home, I have only the memories with me--and not the credit card bill. 

I also could start my own business without the financial stresses that go with it. As an entrepreneur, living a very low-risk life is important to me and keeping my monthly expenses to a minimum makes a huge difference in business growth versus business flop. 

Imagine what you could do if you were debt-free?

I really hope this post has helped you gain some insights around what I did to pay off my debt. I am a very normal, average, person. If I can do, anyone can do it. Go forth, and conquer your debt, Nav.igators!

If you're interested in connecting with Whitney Hansen for one-on-one coaching, reach out here. If you want to hear more from her, check out this episode featuring Whitney on the Nav.it podcast.


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Nicole Negron
14 days ago

Simple Ways to Remedy Anxiety

#women
wellness
Over 90 percent of the women I work with talk about the strain of trying to keep up with demands. They’re working hard to stay thin, move up the corporate ladder, maintain growth in their entrepreneurial endeavours, keep a perfect home, stick within their strict budget or arrange the ideal birthday party for their 3-year-old.

The strain from overachieving and pe...
Over 90 percent of the women I work with talk about the strain of trying to keep up with demands. They’re working hard to stay thin, move up the corporate ladder, maintain growth in their entrepreneurial endeavours, keep a perfect home, stick within their strict budget or arrange the ideal birthday party for their 3-year-old.

The strain from overachieving and perfectionism is real. We carry this intense amount of pressure in our bodies at all times, leading us to constant state of panic, sabotaging the confidence we need to show up as our best selves.

Here are simple stress and anxiety remedies you can do today and incorporate into your daily routine. Consistency is key!

Supplemental support
Getting enough Vitamin B6, either through food or supplements will help boost serotonin levels, which will help to reduce anxiety naturally. If you’d like to take supplements, start with 100mg of B6 daily.

Or skip the pill, and make sure you’re eating organic, clean, grass-fed, pasture-raised animal protein. It’s a great source of vitamin B6 that you can add very easily to your shopping list.

Lay off the caffeine (we’re sorry)
Have you ever considered that caffeine could be contributing to your anxiety?

If you have the genetic mutation called CYP1A2, your liver metabolizes caffeine and eliminates it from your body slowly. If this is the case, you likely struggle with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or sleep disturbances, which are all estrogen-dominant conditions. Talk to your doctor about testing for this genetic mutation.

If eliminating coffee is a challenge, be sure to consume coffee after breakfast (with fat, fiber and protein). My go-to? Eggs, avocado with sweet potatoes.

Take care of your body.
Engaging your feminine energy is about creating and enjoying the experience of attaining your goals. It’s not about grinding it’s about aligning. For every 52 minutes of work, take a 17-minute break. It helps you retain the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday (work smarter, not harder). Make sure to stretch, go for a walk and get some fresh air.

Create boundaries with ease.
If your feeling overworked and victimized by all you have to accomplish, trust me when I tell you working harder is not the answer. Instant gratification often leads us to say “yes” to projects that don’t serve us.

Protect your energy by saying no to people or projects that distract you from your greater purpose. I invite you to let go of your need to control everything around you. Let go of the thought, “if I’m not the person doing it, things will never get done.”

Stretch Daily.
Take 10 mins every day to stretch. The benefits? It increases blood circulation, reduces stress (cortisol), and nourishes the nervous system.

Practicing yoga daily can help train your system to live mostly in your parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest). Focus on stretching your neck first and your spine second, so that fluid can flow easier to repair your nerves. To flush out cortisol, aim for 10 minutes of yoga in the morning, and 10 minutes before bed.

To calm anxiety we need to begin with a new paradigm of modeling healthy boundaries, strength, and compassion for ourselves, otherwise we are simply modeling stress, work addiction, scarcity, and self-neglect. Prioritize your self-care and remember your worth is not equal to your achievements. A life well lived is no longer determined by a pile of achievements but the rich experiences we choose to create on our way to success.

How to Nav.it: To help clear up internal clutter, ask yourself a few questions:
  • Stop the obsession.
  • What things do I obsess over that are out of my control?
  • Set boundaries.
  • What could I stop doing that would allow me to reclaim my power and my energy to invest in things that are actually in my control?
  • Let go of what doesn’t serve you.
  • What would it feel like to surrender control in the areas that don’t serve me?
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Dana Filek-Gibson
11 days ago

4 Ways To Protect the Environment While Exploring Vietnam

travel
environment
When I’m at home, being an environmentally responsible citizen is a no-brainer: I recycle, use my own grocery bags, walk everywhere I can and tote my reusable water bottle to and from work. I’m lucky to live in Toronto, where considering ways to protect the environment is common practice.

But eco-friendly habits can be hard to take on the road. In Vietnam, a coun...
When I’m at home, being an environmentally responsible citizen is a no-brainer: I recycle, use my own grocery bags, walk everywhere I can and tote my reusable water bottle to and from work. I’m lucky to live in Toronto, where considering ways to protect the environment is common practice.

But eco-friendly habits can be hard to take on the road. In Vietnam, a country I called home for seven years, recycling rarely happens, plastic bags – along with straws, bottles, containers and packaging – are everywhere, and walking even a couple blocks in a city like Hanoi can be a sweaty, chaotic ordeal.

By and large, we travelers want to do our part to protect the environment, but figuring how to stick to our environmentally responsible practices in a foreign country isn’t always easy.

Here are four ways to protect the environment while making the most of your trip to Vietnam and showing the country some love while you’re at it.

Pass on the plastic.
Plastic is everywhere in Vietnam. At corner shops, convenience stores and restaurants, you’ll find bottled water by the case and plastic straws in every drink. When shopping, most items – from food to souvenirs to clothing – are wrapped in at least a few layers of unnecessary packaging. This waste not only winds up landfills but in the ocean as well.

To stem the flow of plastic waste, you can do your part by politely refusing straws, bags and other extras. But the number one way to cut down on your own plastic use is by bringing a reusable water bottle and filling up at larger water coolers and other safe water sources in hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Stick to reef-safe sunscreen.
Catching rays on any one of Vietnam’s beaches--like Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon, Mui Ne or Con Dao--is a worthy way to spend your holiday, but not all sunscreens are created equal. Chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate might protect you from the sun, but they’re also harmful to coral reefs and marine life.

You’ll want to stock up on sunscreen before your trip – and there aren’t many good, affordable options in Vietnam.  Look for mineral sunscreens that have “non-nanotized” zinc oxide or titanium dioxide so that you can protect your skin and protect the environment.

Eat local.
With all the fresh, locally grown ingredients that are part of Vietnamese cuisine, this is a habit you’ll have no trouble adopting.

Pass on imported food and drinks and spend your holiday diving into local dishes, from world-famous favorites like phở and bánh mì to lesser-known gems like bún chả (grilled pork with fresh greens and rice noodles), cơm tấm (broken rice, usually served with barbecue pork) and bánh bèo (savory steamed rice cakes).

If I had to list specific food destinations, head to Hanoi (home of phở and bún chả), HCMC/Saigon (home of bánh mì and cơm tấm) and Hoi An (home of cao lâu, a dish with pork, fresh greens and noodles that are only supposed to be made using water from a famous well in the town).

Thanks to a large Buddhist population, there are loads of vegan-friendly local options, and Vietnam’s abundance of rice-based dishes make it a great country for gluten-free diners, too.

Embrace slow travel.
No matter how you slice it, even a single plane ride has a significant impact on the planet. If you’re going to fly all the way to Vietnam, seek out airlines with a more eco-friendly track record, and consider purchasing carbon offsets for your trip. Once you’ve arrived in Vietnam, you can also limit your carbon footprint by making an effort to choose more eco-friendly transportation options.

If you’re traveling between destinations, for example, train travel is affordable and often safer than hitting the local highways on a bus. In town, hop on a bicycle or explore on foot instead of taking cabs and motorbikes. 

Not only is slowing down one of the best ways to help the environment, it also gives you the opportunity to stumble upon unexpected finds: hidden street stalls, conversations with locals, and glimpses of everyday life you’ll find in pagodas, at roadside cafes and on sidewalks.
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Whitney Hansen
13 days ago

The Ultimate Guide to How I Paid Off 30,000 in 10 months

adulting
debt
2010 was a great year. I graduated college, I got my first “big kid” job at a public accounting firm and life was looking promising. There was only one problem. 

I had almost $30,000 in debt staring me in the face. 

For some, that is okay, student loans are normal. But I wanted to make my own choices instead of having debt make choices...
2010 was a great year. I graduated college, I got my first “big kid” job at a public accounting firm and life was looking promising. There was only one problem. 

I had almost $30,000 in debt staring me in the face. 

For some, that is okay, student loans are normal. But I wanted to make my own choices instead of having debt make choices for me. Intuitively I knew that $30k was a crap ton of debt. I couldn’t take a job at a non-profit (paid too little), and I couldn’t start my own business, because I had a debt to pay off. My paycheck was officially owned before I even got my hands on it.

Treating debt like a necessary part of your life will cost you. What are the costs, you ask? Well…
  • Thousands of dollars in interest
  • Hours of lost sleep
  • Stress levels that not even wine can cure and the most costly…
Your freedom. It took me years to figure out that debt was stifling my growth. I didn’t even know I had problem until it hit me in the face – rather abruptly too. Okay, let’s get down to business. This is exactly what I did to pay off $30k in 10 months.

Step 1: The Plan
In order to tackle the Goliath of a debt, I needed a plan. Something that was actionable, measurable, and ambitious. I also needed a pretty big shovel to fill the hole I dug myself in. 

I’ve always been a big believer in the saying…“If people aren’t laughing at your goals, you aren’t dreaming big enough.” My first goal was to pay off my debt in 12 months. When I shared this goal, I not only got some strange looks, laughs, and smirky smiles, but I was also told I set my bar too high.

Anytime you go about trying to achieve a massive and audacious goal, people will try to put your dreams down. Don’t let them. People project their version of the world onto you. If they don’t think it’s possible for them to personally accomplish the goal, they will tell you it won’t be possible for you to do it either.

On October 10, 2010 I wrote in a notebook: Pay off $30,000 by October 2011.

Thanks to the power of setting goals correctly (and a ton of grit), I actually beat my goal by two months. In August of 2011, I made my final student loan payment. That night, I slept like a baby.

Step 2: The Sacrifice
Part of my plan of paying off my debt was knowing that I had to make some really, really big changes. Cutting out buying coffee twice a week was not going to cut it. To get drastic results, I had to make drastic changes.

My pre-debt freedom situation:
  • Owned my own home
  • No car payments (thank baby Jesus!)
  • No credit card debt
  • Was in a serious relationship
  • College degree
  • $30,000 in debt
  • Great part-time job at a spa with extremely flexible hours
  • Landed a Staff Accountant position with a flexible schedule
 Here were the sacrifices I made:
  • Rented my home out for $100 per month more than my house payment & moved in with my partner (allowing me to pay lower rent)
  • Sold all my awesome furniture (this was a bummer-dude moment for me, but gave me a nice chunk of cash to start my debt-free process)
  • Worked two jobs, 70-80 hours per week
  • Didn’t have a day off for three months
  • Didn’t buy coffee for 10 months (I almost forgot what the inside of Starbucks looked like)
  • Packed a lunch every single day (to this day, I still bring a lunch every day)
And probably the most important sacrifice…my lifestyle. I knew I could survive on less than $25,000 a year. Heck, I knew with my house rented out I could survive on $15,000 a year. I lived in true “college student spirit” a little while longer. 

The two shovels that I used to fill the large “debt” hole:
  • Spa job: This was my job that put me through college. I lived on a solely commission-based income for 4 years and knew I could continue living off of it. Working part-time at the salon meant that my income would decrease to around $25,000 a year. I worked 26 hours a week and made 100 percent commission.
  • Accounting job: Accounting is very cyclical business. I was deeply needed for audits and preparing tax returns. I worked at the accounting firm 49 hours per week, and was paid once a month. This check went ENTIRELY to paying for my debt.
Have you ever been so busy that you literally couldn’t even make it to the bank, let alone go shopping? That was my life. Being so busy was a huge blessing in disguise. I didn’t even have time to spend money if I wanted to. My sacrifices were drastic (but passive streams of income can be game-changers).

I wanted unreal results, and I got them. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t discuss the financial tools I used to make this happen.

Next week, we’ll share how these and the perks of living debt free in the Ultimate Guide for How I Paid Off 30,000 in 10 months, Part 2. If you're interested in connecting with Whitney Hansen for one-on-one coaching, reach out here.
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Heidi Esau
14 days ago

A Field Guide to Nav.ing Your Taxes

taxes
self-employment
For our sole proprietor nav.igator crowd, listen to this podcast episode on Freelancing as a Way to Nav.it.

I’ll admit it—tax season gives me the nervous sweats. I get anxious that I’ll miss something important, especially when I close in on the deadline before even taking a look at my W-2.
For our sole proprietor nav.igator crowd, listen to this podcast episode on Freelancing as a Way to Nav.it.

I’ll admit it—tax season gives me the nervous sweats. I get anxious that I’ll miss something important, especially when I close in on the deadline before even taking a look at my W-2.

This year I decided to educate myself on all things taxes and break it down into easy manageable steps. Since I believe in sharing the wealth, I’ve compiled my learnings into a tax guide so you can get your taxes done like a boss and get back to your birthright of Netflixing. 
 
Estimated quarterly tax payments are due June 17. That date is fast approaching, so let’s get started. 
 
Gather your documents.
First things first, find your W-2 (this might be the hardest part). If you’re traditionally employed, you should have received it from your employer back in January. You’ll need to report your individual income on form 1040, and if you have a side hustle (kudos, girl), but you’ll need to fill out form 1099 as well. You may need several other forms to report your deductions (more on that later).  
 
Be a freeloader.
Download the Free File Software at IRS.gov. If your income is below $66,000 you can use the free software instead of forking money over for some commercial software or tax preparer. And you get the added satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself. You’re a strong, independent woman who don’t need no TurboTax. 
 
Get some easy credit.
For as much as we complain about Uncle Sam, there are many ways he (read: the government) gives back, and that’s especially true when it comes to tax credits. Increase the amount of your refund based on your dependents, health care, education, and so much more. 
 
Determine whether to itemize your deductions.
Deductions reduce your taxable income, so more deductions are better. Choose the method that provides the highest possible deduction list. Most tax software will help you make this decision.
 
Standard Deduction: This one is easy peas-y. Just take the standard deduction based on your marital status and household size to reduce your taxes. Voila!
 
Itemized: Some people don’t qualify for the standard deduction and therefore should itemize. Popular itemized deductions include but are not limited to:
  • Property tax: When you pay your local government, your federal government pays you back!
  • Charitable donations: Like all the clothes you donated to Goodwill that could never see the light of day at your fresh-out-of-college professional job.  
  • Student loan interest: The one time you might feel good about debt, right?
  • Mortgage interest: Hopefully your refund helps you upgrade from a futon to a real bed, now that you have a place to call your own.

Get your refund fast.
For a speedy refund, set up direct deposit and then e-file. Filing electronically ensures the fastest possible refund and if you  set up direct deposit, the cash money is sent straight into your account. 
 
Listen up, self-employed folks.
If you have a small business or are an independent contractor (think Uber driver, AirBnb rent), you must file your net earnings if they are $400 or more. Self-employed individuals report income annually like everyone else but must pay an estimated tax quarterly.
 
Beware of the tricksters. 
Some of these scammers can sound legitimate but are only looking to take away your hard-earned dollars (and that’s only for the government to do). Review IRS’ Dirty Dozen Scams so you don’t find yourself in a sticky situation when you make that last-minute Hail-Mary attempt to make the deadline.
 
Going...Going...Gone.
If you’re really not ready to do your taxes and you won’t make the April 15 deadline, you can file for a six-month extension. Be aware that penalties and interest may apply to money you owe after the deadline.
 
LA
Liz Alterman
15 days ago

How to Ask for (and Get) the Raise You Deserve

adulting
salary
Talking about money — especially when it comes to asking for more of it —makes many of us feel, well, awkward. But that’s no reason not to request the amount you deserve.

According to a study by the Cass Business School, the University of Warwick, and the ...
Talking about money — especially when it comes to asking for more of it —makes many of us feel, well, awkward. But that’s no reason not to request the amount you deserve.

According to a study by the Cass Business School, the University of Warwick, and the University of Wisconsin, women ask for raises just as frequently as men do. Unfortunately, the study found that while women aren’t shy about asking for a raise, historically, they’ve been 25 percent less likely than their male counterparts to receive it.

But don’t let that information discourage you. Let it empower you to strengthen your resolve to change those statistics.

“Asking for a raise is tough on any employee, especially women in the workplace,” says Neale Godfrey, president and chairman at Green$treet Commons, Inc. “That said, women have made incredible strides and a women's voice in corporate America is louder than ever.”

Let’s take our volume and fearlessness to a new level, ladies. As the new year and review season roll around, it’s vital to build an iron-clad case that proves you merit this bump in pay. Here’s your roadmap to asking for — and getting — the raise you deserve.

Know your worth
While it’s tempting to request a pay hike that would take your lifestyle to a whole new level of fabulous, it’s important to be realistic. When it comes to making an ask that will be considered, you need to understand where your salary falls in relation to others with your title in the same industry.

“The first step is to do your homework and determine what the current market rates are for your position,” says Amanda Haddaway, managing director and lead consultant and trainer for HR Answerbox. “Check out websites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, and other online pay sites. Keep in mind that some of this data is user-submitted, so it may not be 100 percent accurate, but it can at least give you a ballpark of what others are being paid for similar jobs in your area."

Pay attention to your role and level when doing this comparative research, says Adam R. Calli, principal consultant at Arc Human Capital, LLC. “Be sure it’s matched to your hierarchical level, your duties and responsibilities, your performance, and your geography.”

Show your value
Once you’ve determined that magic number, you’ll want to go into your review or meeting armed with evidence that illustrates exactly why you deserve that boost.

“Be prepared to talk about your accomplishments and have concrete examples,” says Jody Friend, president and CEO of JLM HR Consulting, LLC.

Calli recommends considering the following while building your case: 
  1. What are the key performance indicators that are monitored in your company or your division? “If you can tie your work to positive benefits for the organization, then you are putting down a strong foundation to justify an increase,” he says.
  2. What happened during the past year or so that was unusual and required unusual effort on your part? “Reminding the boss of how you stepped up during particularly trying times is an important part of your argument,” Calli points out. Think of things like going above and beyond while short-staffed, rolling out a new system, and meeting new client demands.
  3. Did you save the company money? If so, bring out the receipts. Data is your friend.
  4. Did you take on any new responsibilities? Flip through your calendar and look at everything that was scheduled this year to jog your memory, Calli suggests. Did you prove your worth by managing a bigger team? Go above and beyond to take on tasks you weren’t hired to do? Train a large number of staff or teach your colleagues something important? Take on extra travel that usually isn’t required?
  5. Did you earn a certification that makes you more valuable (not to mention more marketable!)?

Practice makes perfect
It’s completely understandable to feel nervous about making the request— all the more reason to workshop it.

“Role play the conversation,” suggests Godfrey. “It might be awkward to rehearse your negotiation, but preparation is key. Find a friend or family member and record the discussion.”

Time it just right
Be mindful of when might be an opportune moment. Choose the right time for “the conversation,” Godfrey advises. 

“Schedule it, and be cognizant of what is happening at work. Before a big deadline or the week before your boss is going on vacation may not set the best stage for a raise discussion."

Get creative with your requests
While, of course, everyone hopes this request will go his or her way, if you don’t receive a resounding, “Yes!” initially, take heart: all is not lost.

"Companies are hesitant to make a longtime increased salary commitment, but might be happy to recognize and reward you for a job well done,” Calli says. 

Perhaps there’s something other than cold hard cash that would make you feel more appreciated. “What is valuable to you besides only money?” Calli asks. “Maybe an extra week of vacation as a bonus? What if they pay for your parking for the year? To the company, paying for parking is a very different thing than more payroll dollars. So be creative and have a plan B of what you’ll ask for if the salary-increase request is turned down.” 

Remember the old saying, “You don’t ask, you don’t get?” Well, you’ve got this. And you’ve earned it!


EP
Erin Papworth
18 days ago

Leveling Up Personal Finances for Women

#women
money
I coach women about the wealth mindset. This coaching on personal finances for women has brought me a number of realizations, but the one that stands out most: women rock at managing money, they just don’t know it yet. 

That why I love the phrase financial feminist. It’s all about women having confidence. Saying to the world, I am a woman and I am worthy. I ...
I coach women about the wealth mindset. This coaching on personal finances for women has brought me a number of realizations, but the one that stands out most: women rock at managing money, they just don’t know it yet. 

That why I love the phrase financial feminist. It’s all about women having confidence. Saying to the world, I am a woman and I am worthy. I am a woman and I deserve access to wealth and financial equality. I am a woman, and I am essential to a healthy economy. I am a woman, and I deserved to be paid. 

When I coach women about money management, a common thread of self-doubt emerges. In general, women are not great braggers. In fact, self-promoting statements are often started with, ‘I’m not bragging, I’m just saying…’ (and this is not a strong way to begin a conversation about salary negotiations with your boss!). 

So here are what I’d call the levels of personal finances for women (and really anyone in general, but these are my clientele) so that you can successfully say, I’m nav.ing my money, I’m a #financialfeminist, and I am not afraid to say it it (hello, mindset shift).

Level 1: Live within your means
In coaching sessions, I’ve had women start our conversations by telling me they don’t know anything about money but then they proceed to list how they hit all of the big money management boxes: 
  • They don’t spend more than they make (they save). 
  • They are very conscious spenders (they look for deals and try to shop local). 
  • They pay off their credit cards in full each month to avoid accrued interest payments. 
  • They avoid debt (and are trying to pay off their school loans as fast as possible). 
As a financial coach – that’s what I call rocking it. And if you’re not quite there yet, it’s pretty simple to set up a budget with the Nav.it app that identifies your lifestyle goals along with some realistic financial goals.

Level 2: Investing–making your money work for you. 
But, in order to invest our money wisely, we need the confidence to take the investment risks that are right for our situation and to understand how our investments will work for us. That comes with some reading, potentially a few discussions with your boss babe friends (bonus if they’re financial advisors) and maybe even using one of these apps.

Level 3: Confidence is queen.
Like I said, when I coach on personal finances for women, it appears there is a lack of confidence because we’re always comparing ourselves to men. Time. To. Stop. That.

In fact, Asian women statistically have higher self-esteem because their benchmark of success is other woman. When you see another woman succeed it makes you believe your success is achievable. That’s why women supporting women, women championing other women, women celebrating other women’s wins, only benefits us all (#shinetheory). 
 
It’s our time, ladies. We are making more money these days than ever before. We are becoming more educated than our male counterparts. In terms of overall investment loss, we tend to be better investors because we take less risk and stay in when the going gets tough. We are traditionally more collaborative than competitive. We want our spending to reflect our ideals. 
 
All this to say: we don’t have (and shouldn’t) to do it the way the boys do. 
They haven’t been thinking about us as they’ve built their empires, so let’s pave our own way! We can compete equally in the financial world and we can do it on our own terms. We can manage our own money and grow our own wealth. Financial Feminists believe women’s access to money and wealth is not only essential to move our society forward, but that when women have full participation in the labor market and wealth management, our society becomes more innovative, more creative and more equitable. Here’s to the future! 
NN
Nav.it
20 days ago

Why Should I Form an LLC?

starting a business
llc
You’ve weighed the pros and cons and have chosen to kick payroll to the curb --congrats! But now that you’re starting your own small business, there’s some questions you need to navigate to get it up and running. Like, Why should I form an LLC?
 
First of all, that’s Limited Liability Company, in case...
You’ve weighed the pros and cons and have chosen to kick payroll to the curb --congrats! But now that you’re starting your own small business, there’s some questions you need to navigate to get it up and running. Like, Why should I form an LLC?
 
First of all, that’s Limited Liability Company, in case no one has ever said those full words to you. An LLC (which you form in a specific state) gives you similar legal protections of a Corporation while still treating you like a sole proprietor or small business. But seeing as you’re new to small business town, let’s break this bit by bit.

What does it mean to be an LLC?
You mean besides the professionalism and legitimacy those three letters give you? (Seriously, say your name and add LLC, and you suddenly exceed boss babe status.)

In short, you’re personal assets are protected if sh*t hits the fan. The LLC provides protection to owners by limiting the owner’s personal liability. So if there’s a little misunderstanding, and you find yourself in the middle of a legal dispute,  this is when you’ll appreciate the little extra bureaucracy of setting up that LLC (and won’t be I asking, why didn’t I form an LLC?).

It’s not a get out of jail free card, but it separates your personal assets from the assets of the business, limiting your personal liability--go figure. It may not seem like a big deal until you can’t buy a gallon of milk because your checking account has been frozen until the knot you’re twisted up in is smoothed out. 

What does it mean for my taxes?
The upswing is you’re just doing your own thing and filing your taxes as a single member of the LLC, it’s simple enough. Your friends at the IRS will treat you like a sole proprietor (we talk about this on our podcast), meaning you receive a 1099 MISC from everyone who pays you $600 or more each year, but no additional forms come tax time. 

You will need to choose a tax structure for your LLC but honestly, it’s nothing two Advil can’t handle.  And if you do nothing, you’ll automatically be considered a sole proprietor or partnership depending on number of LLC owners.

Any downsides?
You will have to pay taxes at the personal income tax rate, which could be higher then the Corporate rate (if you nav. yourself into a six-figure company, you’re paying a higher rate). 

But hey, if you can’t see yourself in the office, and don’t mind getting in the weeds of the administration work of your business (you do it all, when it’s just you), the extra protection is worth it. 

Disclaimer: Hey Nav.igator, just so you know, we have financial advisors reviewing our content, but our articles are only meant to be educational. Consider this friendly information, not financial advice (talk to a professional for that!).


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