Large bills fanned out and held in hand

Large bills fanned out and held in hand

There are many people that are fantastic at their jobs. They do so well that they deserve to be promoted. After their promotion they would have more responsibilities, a higher pay, and be in an overall better situation. Many of those people are passed over for promotion for two reasons: they don’t ask for one, or they don’t ask properly. Just popping into your boss’s office and asking for the promotion likely won’t yield the results that you desire. However, if you take the approach that your payroll services expert in Billings, Montana recommends, you can be sure to land that promotion (and all it entails).


Do Your Homework

The worst thing that can happen when you want to be promoted, is to simply walk into your boss’s office and ask for the promotion. Most of those conversations go something like this:

Employee: I have been here one year now. I think I deserve a raise/promotion.

Boss: What have you done to deserve it?

Employee: I have arrived on time every day, worked hard, I understand the business and the job, I have more responsibilities now than when I started.

Boss: So… what have you done to deserve a raise?

Employee: I’ve been here a year, and all the stuff I just said.

Boss: Now isn’t the right time.

While it seems silly, that is how the vast majority of people ask for a raise or a promotion. They simply walk in and ask (or usually demand) it. The gut reaction is to throw up defensive arguments and turn down the employee.

Before you ask your boss for that raise or promotion, you need to do your homework. This can be extensive, and it should start when you begin working.

Track Your Progress – As soon as you begin your job, you need to track your progress. How many accounts are you bringing in? What value are you adding? How are you easing your boss’s burden? Over time all of these quantifiable aspects will grow and give you solid evidence that you deserve more.

Go Above and Beyond – As you work, you have to do more than the minimum. The minimum will help you to keep your job, going above will help you grow your career. If you are comfortable doing just the minimum, then you must be comfortable earning just the minimum.

Know the Competition – Your job isn’t the only one in the industry. This can go both ways. If you’re a terrible employee, you are replaceable. If you’re a great employee, you have options. Pulling out the “I can work for XYZ” should be a last resort option. And be prepared to follow through on your threats.

Asking for the Promotion

Now for the daunting part: asking for the promotion. First, here are your don’ts.

  1. Don’t ask at your performance evaluation
  2. Don’t blindside your boss
  3. Don’t be demanding
  4. Don’t ask without evidence

Your boss needs to know, ahead of time, what you are meeting about. He needs to know what he can offer, even if he is “certain” the answer will be no, before you step foot in the room. When you do go in, follow these tips.

  1. Do be polite
  2. Do show evidence of increased productivity
  3. Do expect the answer to be no, and have a compromise ready
  4. Do be prepared to move to another company

If you have done your homework, and you have evidence to show that you are providing much more value to the company than you did when you received your last raise or promotion, then your boss shouldn’t have any problem giving you the promotion.

Practical Taxes

Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. If you are passed over for promotions or raises repeatedly, it may be time to start your own company. When that time comes, we can help with business consultation, payroll services, tax preparation, and much more. Let us ease the burden so you can focus on growing your business.

Taxable-Income-300x199Most people want to be wealthy. This doesn’t mean that they want to be able to afford a mansion on the beach and drive exotic cars, although that could be nice. Instead, wealthy, to most people, means being able to have financial freedom. They don’t have to worry about money, they don’t have to worry about working, and they don’t have to wonder where their next paycheck will come from.

Unfortunately, most people will never be wealthy. The vast majority of Americans don’t save nearly enough to meet their retirement needs. Instead, they spend (and over-spend), and ultimately will rely on government programs to meet their needs when they are physically unable to work any longer. If you would rather save now so you can have a comfortable retirement, pay attention to these five tips from your accountant in Billings, Montana.

Boost Your 401(k) Contributions

When is the last time you looked at your 401(k) contributions? Are you even contributing? Most people put in the bare minimum: between 1 and 3%. For some reason they feel that increasing their contributions will make them suffer greatly and not be able to afford their expenses. This couldn’t be further from the truth; the math is simple.

If you make $30,000 per year, and you put in 3% of your income into a 401(k) and your employer matches 3%, you are saving $1,800 per year. If you increase your contributions to 5% (and you get a 3% match), then you are now saving $2,400 per year, but your take home pay will only decrease by about $40 per month (assuming a 20% tax rate).

Every six months, increase your withholdings by another 1%.

Pay Down Your Debt Rapidly

Most Americans have debt. Most Americans hate their debt. Yet for some reason people keep charging, keep buying more car, boat, or ATV than they can afford, and keep getting into mortgages that strain their finances. At the same time, those people are all paying minimums on their debt, and racking up huge interest charges.

Instead of floundering through your debt, pay it down rapidly! It can be done with a little dedication. Take for instance the story of Joe Mihalic. He graduated from Harvard with $90,000 of debt. Within 9 months he was debt free.

That may mean earning more money.

Bring in Money on the Side

Something that has become more and more popular over the last few years is earning more money on the side. For many it seems impossible, for those who have done it, they know it is actually pretty easy.

Take something you are good at, and start asking around for those who would pay to have it done for them. Can you push a lawnmower? A handful of lawns mowed on a Saturday morning could bring you a few hundred extra dollars per month. Are you a wiz in the kitchen? Many people hate to cook, prepping their meals a few nights per week could bring in some extra cash. Are you a fantastic artist? Freelance designers are always in demand.

Choose a skill, hone that skill, market that skill, and be on your way to an extra $500 to $1,000 per month with only a few extra hours of work each week.

Be Passionate and Create Value

Many people don’t want to work outside of their regular job. But then they get to their place of employment and complain through the day. They don’t like their work, they hate going to work, and they do the bare minimum to scrape by. This attitude is guaranteed to leave you at the bottom of the ladder while your peers move up.

Instead, find a job that you can be passionate about. Create immense value by breaking away from traditional methods and employing those that clients need and want. By becoming an expert, creating value, and showing your enthusiasm and passion, you will show that you can be trusted with more and more.

Negotiate Expenses

If you want to be wealthy, quit throwing away your money. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to use leaves at toilet paper, take cold showers, and sit in the dark so you don’t spend money on electricity. What it means is that you need to slash expenses whenever you can.

When is the last time you looked at your car insurance? You could likely be paying several hundred per month more than you need to. Have you checked your phone plan lately? Many carriers have offered upgrades for free, but won’t give them to you unless you ask. At the same time, you may be able to get the same plan for cheaper. Do you really need cable TV, or can you get everything online for a fraction of the cost?

Take an hour to slash your expenses and you could save thousands per year.

Practical Taxes is Here to Help

When you get your tax refund, you probably have an idea of where it will go even before the check comes. If you are truly intent on building wealth, have us prepare your taxes. We can find most of our clients a bigger refund, and in the end they gain wealth much faster than if they spend hours trying to do their taxes on their own.

Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We offer payroll services, accounting, bookkeeping, and much more. 406-894-2050.

fear-1440347-300x225As humans we have a wide array of fears. Many fear death, many others fear failure. Some fear spiders, some snakes, some fear other people. The business owner compounds those fears with other fears that other people don’t ever experience. For instance, the business owner fears what will happen if his top client drops off. Or perhaps he fears that nobody will ever take his business or product seriously. If you want to be able to overcome your fear, your first step is to understand what you fear.


Sizing Up Your Fears

Let’s suppose you are afraid of snakes. Your initial reaction is to say that you fear snakes. They give you the willies and whenever you look at one you get a creepy crawly feeling. But what you are describing is the feeling you get from the snakes, not the actual fear itself.

Instead, you have to dig a little deeper. Your fear likely stems from something you saw or heard when you were younger. You fear that a snake will bite you, poison you, and you will end up dying (yours is a fear of death, not exactly snakes). Or you are scared that one will wrap around you and never let go. Or perhaps you worry that one will crawl into your mouth. The idea is that you don’t fear the snake per se, but rather what the snake can do to you.

Let’s take a look at the business owner. Many claim that they fear failure. But really they do not fear that their business will fail; but rather that they won’t be able to make the income that they need. It’s not exactly about the business failing, but about how it reflects back on them (fear that their reputation and sense of self worth will be damaged) and about how they will survive without this business (a true entrepreneur knows that they will fail, and they have to start again from a new angle).

More than anything, though, the business owner has a fear that trumps all others: regret. This is why many entrepreneurs take some big risks. They know that their idea should work, but they are unsure of whether or not it will work. They are afraid of failure, but even more they fear the regret that they will have if they don’t even try.

Overcoming Your Fear

Determine which fear is setting you back the most. Then deeply analyze that fear and find the root underlying cause. Doing so will help you understand where your fear comes from, and how to overcome it.

When you have boiled things down to exactly what you’re afraid of, then you can take steps toward dispatching that fear. This is the hard part and requires you to constantly face the fear, and push through it. Every time you overcome, it gets a little bit easier.

Practical Taxes Can Help

If you are a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. As a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana we can help you overcome some of your fears by taking the stress out of your day. We offer a variety of services, like payroll, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and more. Let us take care of your busy work, so you can take care of overcoming your fears.



Summer is well underway, the year is half over, and you are enjoying the long days and warm weather. Tax season is months away, and you are likely not even beginning to think about your taxes yet. But now is the perfect time to reassess your tax situation in order to ensure that you will not owe exorbitant amounts to the IRS next year. Your payroll expert and Billings, Montana accountant explains 4 quick ways that you can make your taxes more favorable come next spring.


Summer Tax Move: Adjust Your Tax Withholdings

Your 2014 taxes turned out just fine, but perhaps next year you would like to get a refund that is slightly larger. Or maybe you ended up owing money on your 2014 taxes and you’d like to avoid that uncomfortable situation in the future. Fortunately, it’s not too late to adjust your withholdings.

If you are an employee, you likely remember filling out a W4 when you were first hired on. Did you know that you can change those forms at any point throughout the year? Simply talk with your human resources department (or your payroll services provider) and ask that your withholdings be updated. You can specify a smaller number (any number 0 or greater; the higher the number the less is withheld). If you’re already at 0, then you can specify an additional dollar amount to be withheld from each paycheck.

Many people will tell you that you should shoot to have a $0 refund, but really it is in your best interest to have a larger refund.

Summer Tax Move: Save Summer Camp Receipts

If you have a child, and you enrolled him or her in summer camp, keep those receipts! Did you know that the IRS views summer camp as a form of day care? You can deduct up to 35% of your summer camp costs claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

In addition to summer camp, if you’re doing any charity work this summer, like traveling across the state to help rebuild a school, church, or other non-profit, you can deduct 14 cents for every mile you drive.

Summer Tax Move: Increase Retirement Savings

The vast majority of Americans are woefully behind on their retirement savings. They really need to ramp things up in order to meet their goals. You don’t have to be one of those that are behind on their savings.

If your company allows it, boost your savings by 2% this summer. You probably won’t even notice the change in your paycheck, but when it comes time to retire you will be far better off. Next summer, do the same thing.

For those who are maxed out at work, or can’t change contributions mid-year, start putting more into your Roth or Traditional IRA. You can put aside up to $5,500 this year. If you have maxed those out as well, then consider permanent life insurance, or a non-qualified investment plan.

Summer Tax Move: Increase Your Charitable Giving

The standard deduction for 2015 is $6,300 for a single person, $12,600 for a married couple. If you feel you will be coming close to that amount, then you should up your charitable contribution to get a bigger deduction.

You can start simple by giving $50 every two weeks to your favorite charity, and then boost those deduction amounts by doing some summer cleaning. Clear out your closets and garages; anything you haven’t used in a long time, give it away. Be sure to get receipts!

Practical Taxes Can Help

Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2050 to learn more.

Drucker-portrait-bkt_1014Running a business is all about efficiency. Without certain systems in place, you will never be able to accomplish all that you need to get done. For example, if you simply have too much work to get done, then you will need to hire employees. Of course with those employees comes a whole host of other problems that need to be resolved such as payroll, bookkeeping, and many more. You can do all of those yourself, or you can put a system in place to accomplish those tasks for you. Your payroll services specialist in Billings, Montana explains how.



Becoming More Efficient

Peter Drucker, the late business consultant and educator, once said, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” These words have never been truer, especially in today’s world where often business owners try to take on everything rather than delegating and simplifying.

Eliminate – There are many things that business owners simply don’t have to do. But for some reason, perhaps it’s because they want to make sure that everything gets done properly, they do them anyway. For instance, there are a lot of business owners out there that feel they need to incorporate every form of marketing available. So they stress and worry about their radio ads, billboards, TV ads, internet marketing, and social media marketing. In today’s world, they could easily eliminate three or more of those forms of marketing, and still make just as much of an impression on the community.

Delegate – If you have employees, then you are already delegating. Whenever there is a task that can be done by someone else, you can help alleviate some of the stress by delegating that task to someone else. Most of us delegate already. We ask our connections on Facebook for advice, we have employees help us, and we have our accountant run our payroll and our bookkeeping. Any time that you can have someone else do the work, it is usually better to have them do the work.

Simplify – Sometimes you just need to simplify your work. Instead of having an elaborately designed 10 page color catalog that nobody ever reads, have a 1 page flyer instead. But as we referred to above, if the work doesn’t need to be done, then simplifying isn’t going to make you more efficient. That is why we always ask first, “can this be eliminated?” and then, “can this be delegated?” and finally, “can this be simplified?”

Practical Taxes Can Help

In your quest for maximum efficiency, Practical Taxes can help alleviate the burden that you feel. If you have employees, and you are still writing paychecks every two weeks, delegate that to us. If you are slogging your way through bookkeeping every months, delegate that to us. If you are trying to file your taxes quarterly and are frustrated beyond belief, delegate that to us. As a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana, we can take a lot of the pressure off of you so that you can better run your business.