Category Archives: Financial Literacy

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 18 – January 22, 2021

Welcome to our latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find advice on how to maximize your paycheck, news about Yelp providing COVID safety ratings, a forecast of President Biden’s tax plans, and more.

President Biden's Tax Plans for the Next Few Years

With Democratic control of the House and the Senate, it is unlikely that President Biden will have many obstacles to passing legislation this year. Kiplinger weighed in on what that could mean for finance in America this week; check out this piece for some insight into what the next four years could look like.

5 Tricks to Get More From Your Paycheck This Year

For some, the excitement of nabbing a new job can cause one to breeze through the onboarding paperwork. This means some employees may not be getting the most out of their paychecks because their deductions or benefits are not optimized. January is a perfect time to adjust these for the year to come, and this guide from Money magazine is the perfect piece to help you do it.

Yelp Is Now Accepting Covid-19 Safety Reviews

In pandemic news, Yelp has recently announced that reviews of restaurants by users can now include ratings on their COVID safety measures. These new ratings will have no impact on a restaurant’s overall score as of right now, but an establishment’s measures like mask-wearing and social distancing can now be evaluated from within the app.

The Next Evolution Of Digital Mental Health Support

The nationwide move to working from home in 2020 saw an increase in online mental health services, leaving many to wonder where the industry will go from here. This piece from Forbes extrapolates on what could happen in the next few years, forecasting the rise of mental health infrastructures like text message support and access to digital therapy.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 11 – January 15, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 4 – January 8, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: December 14 – December 18, 2020

A Guide to Keeping Tax Records as an Entrepreneur


Maintaining a good system for keeping tax records is essential for any small business owner. Proper tax records will save you stress come tax time, bring you larger deductions, and keep you prepared in the face of a potential audit down the line. Tax records consist of any proof of payment for expenses related to your business, which then help substantiate your tax claims and qualify you for deductions.

Knowing what you can deduct from your tax bill can give you a sense of the types of records you should keep. The IRS allows you to deduct costs that routinely show up in your industry and expenses such as:

Business Expenses

Keep track of every payment you make that is relevant to running your business. This includes advertising, benefits programs, utility and phone bills, rent, legal services, memberships to professional associations, publications, insurance, office supplies, and more.

Auto Expenses

You can either deduct for every business-related mile on your car or claim a flat standard mileage rate — a specific dollar amount for each mile you drive — that you can multiply by your business mileage to find your deduction.

While using this standard rate is easier, you are likely to get a larger deduction by tracking your actual mileage, plus fees from tolls and parking. Technology has made tracking mileage a lot easier in recent years through mileage tracking apps like MileIQ. For a starter guide on which apps to use, check out this list of recommendations.

Meals and Entertainment

Meals must relate directly to your business to be deductible and they cannot be excessive. The IRS limits this deduction to 50 percent of the cost of the meal. For your records, keep all receipts and include the business reason for the event, the amount paid, time and place, type of entertainment (meal, etc.), and occupations of those accompanying you.

Travel Expenses

Payments you make while traveling for business can be deducted as well. Keep track of the amount you spend on meals, lodging, and transportation. For these records, be sure to log the dates of travel, the city, and the reason or business benefit for each expense. Cleaning, laundry, telephone, fax, and Wi-Fi are also deductible.

"Proper tax records will save you stress, bring you larger deductions, and keep you prepared in the face of a potential audit."

Tips and Tricks for Proper Recordkeeping

Knowing what payments to keep track of is only half the battle — now that you know what you should be logging, it is important to keep it organized. Make tax season a little easier by following these tips:

Use Software

Having reliable accounting software is important for keeping all your records in order and easy to analyze. Look into software like QuickBooks, Xero, or Wave by using comparisons like this one from Investopedia.

Keep Source Documents

You should store all receipts, payment slips, and other business-related papers in a safe filing location. It is also best to keep scanned copies of these papers on a hard drive for back up. Thankfully, there are many receipt scanning apps that have made it much easier to keep track of your transactions. This list of recommendations from HubSpot can help you find the right app for your business.

Use Bank Statements for Electronic Payments

These days, a lot of electronic transactions have eliminated the need for paper receipts. For credit cards and e-payments, keep your bank’s financial statements as a source document. Look for the amount transferred, payee name, and date of the transfer.

Stay Up-to-Date Each Month

Taking the time to consult your records at the end of each month is an easy way to ensure that your records are kept properly. It is better to sit down with your records once a month than to find yourself missing a necessary document the week before the tax deadline.

Consult a Tax Professional

It is always a good idea to have a tax professional you can consult for your small business. Experts like these can catch anything you may have missed for lack of extensive knowledge of tax codes.

"You should store all receipts, payment slips, and other business-related papers in a safe filing location, with scanned copies as backup."

Good Recordkeeping Can Save You Trouble

When in doubt, it is better to save something you may not need when it comes time to file than to find you need something you threw away. Remember that the IRS provides resources and reading that you can access to ensure that you’re filing taxes properly. Finally, while we offer this initial guide as a helpful first step in understanding your tax records, always consult a tax professional when managing your specific tax situation.*

With a little preparation, tax season can be a breeze. Maximize your deductions as an entrepreneur and save yourself a headache this year by building good recordkeeping habits today.

*This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 11 – January 15, 2021


Welcome to our latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find a report on how small businesses are adapting to the pandemic, essential marketing tips for small businesses, the state of qualifying for a mortgage today, and more.

The Unique Ways in Which Small Business Owners Are Adapting to the Pandemic

This piece from the Good News Network highlights the unique ways that America’s entrepreneurs have adjusted to the massive changes of 2020 to continue to thrive. In a survey of 1,000 small business owners, 25% of respondents reported that the pandemic hastened their adoption of digital tools and 23% said it helped them digitize the way their customers pay. For these and other interesting statistics, check out this piece.

Five Essential Elements Of A Marketing Plan For A Small Business 

This straightforward guide from Forbes this week serves as a basic guide for any new small business that has just worked out its business plan and needs a good marketing strategy. These fundamentals include how to make marketing objectives, plan your marketing tactics, develop your timeline, and more.

Qualifying for a Mortgage Is Surprisingly Difficult Right Now

Despite mortgage rates remaining at an all-time low since the pandemic began, many people are finding it almost impossible to qualify for a mortgage to take advantage of this historic time. The Urban Institute reports that lenders’ tolerance for risk is the lowest it has been for two decades. Find out why in this informative piece from Money magazine.

4 Ways Your Company Can Have Great Success In 2021

Looking to make 2021 the best year yet for your business? Forbes has some concrete strategies for making this year a great one for revenue, with surefire tips on how to build resilience into your budget, how to capitalize on new trends, and more.


Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 4 – January 8, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: December 14 – December 18, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: December 7 – December 11, 2020

Six Strategies Great Leaders Use to Motivate Their Teams


After a year as eventful as 2020, your team’s morale might be lower than usual as we enter the new year. Good leaders recognize the potential to lead with positivity. You have the power to motivate your team and start their year on a good note.

Smart leaders know that effective motivation comes from rewarding your agents when they succeed rather than punishing them when they fail. Emotions drive us, whether we like it or not, and real inspiration is born from feeling good about the work that we do. But how do you cultivate an environment of positivity? These six strategies can help:

Building a More Motivated Team

Make work pleasant.

Being friendly and fun goes a long way to keeping your team happy and doing their best work. They can be easy to overlook, but a smile and a sense of humor are simple steps you can take toward making work a better place for everyone.

Figure out what motivates them.

Meeting your teammates on their own terms is an important step toward knowing how to inspire them. What is their reason for getting out of bed each day? Toward what long-term goals are they working? Learning their aspirations and interests can help you work with their individual needs.

Praise often.

Giving your teammates recognition for even the smallest successes is an easy way to bring positivity to everyone. In fact, a Gallup poll of over 10,000 businesses found that workers who were praised regularly experienced increased productivity, engaged more with coworkers, and were more likely to stay with their team in the long run. Try praising your team at least once a week to make it a habit.

Giving your teammates recognition for even the smallest successes is an easy way to bring positivity to everyone.

Offer flexibility and autonomy.

Micromanagement kills creativity. Giving your teammates the freedom to work however they prefer is a powerful way to ensure that the work gets done. You can still hold them accountable for meeting the team’s deadlines, but as long as they deliver their work on time, it is best to go easy on when, where, and how they get it done.

Eliminate unnecessary meetings.

Communication is key to keeping teams functioning well, but many companies hold more meetings than they really need. At best, they waste time by interrupting workflow. At worst, they smother creativity and leave your team reluctant to work. If what you are trying to say can be said in an email, it is best to type it up and send it out instead. When you do hold meetings, set out a clear agenda and only invite those who need to be there.

Unnecessary meetings can waste everyone’s time by interrupting workflow. When they do need to be held, set out a clear agenda, and only invite those who need to be there.Paragraph

Value one-on-one time.

Use the time you have saved on meetings to prioritize checking in with agents one-on-one. Making this a regular routine ensures that your teammates have the space to speak up in a safe environment about any issues they might be having. It also gives you a chance to recognize their efforts individually. This one-on-one time will motivate your team by instilling the confidence that you always have their best interests in mind.

By using these six simple strategies in your workplace, you will be fostering a positive environment where your teammates feel included, encouraged, and inspired to show up and put in their best effort every day. It can be easy to overlook the power of a positive mindset, but it can be the most powerful motivator we have.

For more great entrepreneurship tips, read our earlier articles on running your business during the holidays and maintaining momentum during the holidays.

FFS Agents – share this post with your networks using our resources in the ABO.

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 4 – January 8, 2021

Every week, our Financial Friday Round-Up compiles the best things to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance on the web. The articles below include the year’s best small business stories, an economic forecast for the coming year, survey results on retirement planning, and more.

Forbes Favorites 2020: The Year’s Best Small Business Stories

Forbes has long been a champion of small businesses, as this round-up of the year’s best stories of entrepreneurship can prove. Check out these articles to get a good picture of how the small-business community stands as we look toward 2021.

Better Times Ahead: What to Expect of the Economy in 2021

In this piece from Worth, the magazine asked financial experts Bob Diamond and Larry Kantor from Atlas Merchant Capital to forecast what the economy could look like in the coming year. The results were largely optimistic, with the new vaccines, resilient stock market, and potential for stimulus coming up as big reasons to remain positive.

A Kiplinger-Personal Capital Poll: Retirement Planning During COVID

Many Americans have been shaken by the uncertainty the pandemic has brought to their retirement savings since March of last year, with up to 43% of savers saying that they were less confident they would have enough to live comfortably in retirement. This survey from Personal Capital, as reported by Kiplinger, shines a light on how 2020 has affected attitudes on retirement across the country.

Here are the 24 Most Exciting Electric Cars Coming in 2021

As we see bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars coming in countries like the UK, Norway, Denmark, India, and elsewhere by 2030, many are considering electric cars more seriously than ever before. If you are looking to make the switch, this article from Wired can help you make the right decision.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: December 14 – December 18, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: December 7 – December 11, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: November 30 – December 4, 2020

Four Healthy Resolutions for an Uncertain Future


If you had more trouble reaching your goals in 2020 than in prior years, know that you are not alone. This year was a good example of how nobody can anticipate what the future holds and that even the best plans sometimes have to be thrown out in favor of a little improvisation.

As you reflect on this year and look toward the next, remember to be kind to yourself — we all did our best with what we were given, and if you made it this far, that is worthy of celebration in and of itself. As for thinking of resolutions when the future is so uncertain, here are four tips to setting healthy, achievable goals for 2021:

1. Prioritize Your Health and Well-Being

Negativity can have a dramatic impact on your energy throughout the day, so it is important to prioritize both your mental and physical health by focusing only on what you can change. This means reflecting on everything you did accomplish this year rather than dwelling on any failures.

Remember that as the world changes, your goals and expectations should reflect that change as well. Reward yourself for everything you were able to get done and let go of any stress and negativity. This will help you refocus on making the next year better for yourself and your emotional well-being.

2. Feel Prepared by Building Good Habits

Structuring each day around good habits saves our mind from worrying about little things and gives us more room for problem-solving. Maybe set a goal to start and end each day with something you enjoy, like a cup of tea or an exercise session. You could also look for ways to incorporate breaks into your routine to ease stress, making your body and mind that much healthier. That way, the work you get done during the day gets better as your overall mood improves.

Set a goal to start and end each day with something you enjoy, like a cup of tea or an exercise session.

3. Focus on Healthy Sleep

You will not find many things more important to your health than sleep. Unfortunately, this is one of the first things out the window as soon as we encounter stress. Make it an objective in the new year to establish good sleep practices. These ensure you stay happy and healthy, resulting in better workdays and more milestones achieved.

One thing to focus on is waking up at the same time every day. This trains your body to get tired at the same time, which helps you avoid tossing and turning at night. This habit can also be established by exposing yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning — your body responds to the daylight and helps you feel more awake. Finally, avoid hitting snooze at all costs, as this prevents you from maintaining a consistent wake-up time.

Make it an objective in the new year to establish good sleep practices, helping you stay happy and healthy.

4. Download Apps to Help Your Day

There are many helpful tools you can find online to help you achieve your goals in the new year. Here is a short list of some of the apps we recommended through our blogs this year:

ThinkUp gives you daily encouragement through positive affirmations and teaches strategies for self-improvement.

Fabulous teaches you how to build and track good daily habits through a library of resources on meditation and building routines.

Strides helps you write your goals every day and keeps them organized with charts and reminders.

Talkspace lets you talk to professional mental healthcare providers about everything from stress to anxiety to self-esteem.

Toggl tracks your working time so you can plan each day and know when to take breaks.

Never Be Too Hard on Yourself

If you start to feel discouraged, use these techniques to steer yourself back on course. Meaningful work should feel rewarding and important to you, so it can be helpful to remember why you are in the industry in the first place. Whether you find meaning in protecting families from the unexpected, setting your own working hours, or the flexibility to work from home, focus on the positive as you enter the new year. Remember, the most important thing is to keep yourself healthy — without that foundation, you will not have the strength to bring others the same peace of mind.

For more great seasonal entrepreneurship tips, read our earlier articles on running your business during the holidays and maintaining momentum during the holidays.

FFS Agents – share this post with your networks using our resources in the ABO.

Financial Friday Round-Up: November 30 – December 4, 2020

Every week, our Financial Friday Round-Up compiles the best things to read, watch, or listen to regarding finance on the web. The articles below include advice on how to find a home in a time of low inventory, mortgage refinancing changes, a fall in unemployment, and more.

How to Find a Home in 2020

Real estate agents are getting creative when finding homes to sell in today’s low inventory environment. This is the third-lowest the property supply has been since 1963 when the Census Bureau began tracking. This guide from Money walks you through creative ways to find a home, including using social media and local property records.

Unemployment Claims Fall After Two-Week Surge

While the coronavirus has continued to leave many Americans without work, weekly claims for unemployment fell a little this week after two consecutive weeks of climbing. Check out this report from Forbes for more details on the state of the labor market.

I started my first job completely remote. Here's how I formed meaningful relationships with my coworkers.

Starting a new job can be intimidating in any environment, but starting completely remotely and trying to make a good impression over video calls can feel like an even greater challenge. This piece from Business Insider is a success story offering tips on how to navigate this virtual first day from someone who’s been there.

A New Mortgage Refinancing Fee Begins Today. Here’s What You Should Know.

Starting on December 1st, the Federal Housing Finance Agency started charging a mortgage refinance fee which could impact anyone wishing to take advantage of these record-low mortgage rates. To learn more about this 0.5% “adverse market refinance fee,” check out this report from Forbes.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: November 16 - November 20, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: November 9 - November 13, 2020
Financial Friday Round-Up: November 2 - November 6, 2020