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Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

 

Getting a Second Job

To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

Working on the Side

Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at Practical Taxes, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

Practical Taxes knows all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

Getting a Second Job

To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

Working on the Side

Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at A+ Accounting & Consulting, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

We are accountants in Billings, Montana. We know all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

 When Money is Tight, You Need to Adjust

No matter how hard you try and how much you plan, sometimes, things just don’t go your way and you have to make some drastic changes to cope. Getting into financial trouble is one of those times and if you are currently stressing out over your tight money situation, here are a few tips to help you survive and recover. If money is tight, then follow these steps by Practical Taxes, your accountant in Billings, Montana.

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Stay calm, It’s Just a Phase

As difficult as things might seem, keep in mind that the money is tight situation does not have to stay as it is. You have to step up and make different choices; ideally, smarter choices that will help improve your situation sooner rather than later.

Re-evaluate your Priorities

Whether you got into this tight spot by choice (because of unreasonable spending) or by force (unexpected and unfavorable circumstances converged on you), worrying without looking forward simply shouldn’t be an option. Think of it as the universe’s way of telling you that it’s time to look back on the decisions you made, and change the way you’ve been going about things. If you feel overwhelmed, try simplifying by figuring out which expenses you cannot do without, and work your way from there.

Create a Budget

If you do not have a budget, it’s probably one of the reasons you got into this financial dilemma in the first place. Without any plan or objective, there’s nothing to guide you on what to do and what not to do. Financially speaking, it is only by having a budget that you will ever have a chance of achieving your short-term goals, as well as your long-term goals. Start by listing your expected monthly income and expenses, and then allot your income accordingly. Remember that setting up a budget is not enough. It is equally important to stick to your budget. Which means that your commitment and determination should be at their highest level. You’ll need discernment too so you’ll know when adjustments are necessary.

Cut Back on your Spending

If you’re short on funds, you know what you have to do. It’s time to practice self-control and reduce your expenses to their lowest possible level. Remember your priorities? Use this as your basis. Start with your basic needs: food, shelter, transportation and clothing.

While we love living life to its fullest, now is the time to cut back and reassess.

Food: Do you dine out more often than you eat at home? Maybe it’s time you don’t because it’s much easier to control your food spending when you’re the one who’s planning your. You can buy what’s on discount, buy in bulk and be creative about preparing that food item in different ways, use coupons, and purchase only those items that will fit your budget. When you cook at home, you even get that extra bonus of making healthier meals because you can use healthy and less costly food substitutes.

Shelter: If you’re paying off a mortgage, there’s probably not much you can do to bring down the cost. But do you happen to have an extra room which you aren’t using? Instead of bringing down the cost of maintaining your home, why not make money out of it by renting out unused space? It can be intimidating, so consider renting to a family member or close friend.

Transportation: Do you really need to bring your car to work every day? Maybe you can try alternately driving to work, and taking public transit to work. Your best option at this point will of course be the cheapest option; which for many is to actually use a bicycle. You get your workout, and you save on transit costs.

Clothing: Sure, clothing is a necessity because you just can’t go around in your birthday suit, right? But do you really have to buy new clothes weekly, or every time there’s a new fashion, or just because you feel like it? No, no, and no. When funds are low, shopping for clothes (or just plain shopping for that matter) is one activity that ought to be put aside in the meantime.

What about other expenses like utility bills, credit card bills, and loan payments? For your electric and water bills, be more mindful about your consumption. For cable bills, maybe you can survive without cable for a while? For telephone and internet bills, maybe you should consider downgrading your existing plans? For credit card bills and other loans, try paying the ones with the highest interest first, or those with the least amounts.

The bottomline: Spend only for those that you really need, and opt for what is the least expensive.

Earn More Money

Sometimes, trimming down your expenses is not enough. Maybe you’ll get by, but you might never get out of that rut. A perfect complement to that move is to find other sources of income. If you have extra space in your home, rent it out. If you have stuff you no longer use, sell it. If you have a hobby that can make you money like writing or making crafts, find a way to capitalize on it. If you have extra time, find extra work.

Take time to Relax

Worrying all the time doesn’t do anybody any good, so don’t waste your time. Instead, you should still find time to free yourself from all your worries and spend time to relax, be with your family, and have fun with your friends, without having to spend anything. And when you accomplish something (even if it’s a simple victory like earning profit from a batch of cookies that you made, or being able to pay off one of your credit cards)congratulate and reward yourself. Don’t go for anything expensive, of course. Just a little something to boost your spirit, a reminder and an inspiration to keep you going.

Practical Taxes can Help

We can help get you out of your rut when money is tight. We offer affordable tax preparation in Billings, Montana. That means you get to free up more of your time (to earn more on the side if needed), and receive a larger tax refund. You can use that refund to bolster your emergency fund, pay off debt, or do those long needed repairs.

Give us a call today at 406-894-2050 to schedule a time when we can free up your time by doing your taxes.

Want a More Energy Efficient Home?

Energy-Efficient-300x225If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we all have bad habits. Maybe it’s forgivable if it doesn’t affect anyone but yourself. Sadly, it seldom does. The good news is that bad habits can always be changed. And when it comes to using energy, the sooner we transform our bad habits into good ones, the better it will be for us, our entire household, our country, and our planet. Being energy efficient shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.

Practical Taxes strives to be the best accountant in Billings. So we have put together 6 do’s and don’ts that will help you become an energy saver through an energy efficient home. These will help you save money, reduce your impact on the environment, and still enjoy a happy and comfortable home.

 

Don’t leave appliances on standby. That small red light that remains on still uses up electricity just by being plugged in.

Do turn off and unplug all appliances that you aren’t using. This includes chargers which continue to use electricity even when they’re already fully charged. For commonly used appliances, try using a power strip. This way, you can easily switch power off and on without having to plug and unplug every time.

Don’t constantly wash clothes at a very high temperature. It doesn’t only make your bills go higher, it also makes your clothes shrink faster. Modern detergents don’t need hot water; science says 80 degrees is hot enough for most clothes (that’s barely over tap water temperature in most places).

Do wash your clothes at a lower temperature, or simply cold water from time to time, and wash full loads only. After washing, there’s no need to tumble dry your laundry all the time. When it’s a sunny day or a windy day, try air-drying your clothes. It’s not only an energy saver, it also helps make your laundry smell more pleasant.

Don’t take the sun for granted. It’s the easiest to use renewable resource we have.

When the sun is out, do welcome its warmth into your home by opening your blinds, curtains and drapes. When evening comes, keep the warmth in by closing your rooms off. With leftover natural warmth, your heater will not have to work as hard to keep the room warm and cozy.

Don’t insist on using lights that are pleasant to the eyes, but not to your budget. The days of bright 40-watt, 60-watt, and 75-watt incandescent bulbs are over.

Do replace those energy-burning high-wattage lights. Use energy-efficient lights like light-emitting diode or LED bulbs. Although significantly more pricey than general lighting bulbs, LED lights tend to be more of an investment because of the expected energy savings you’ll reap in the long run. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are also an option. They’re less costly and almost as energy-efficient as LEDs; however, they don’t last as long. Don’t forget to clean your lights regularly too so that it always gives off its maximum brightness, not dimmed by dirt and dust.

Don’t ignore those drafts. When combined, those small leaks and gaps that let cold air in and warm air out can result in a very noticeable difference. And not in a good way.

Do seal everything up so that air is kept in and let out, only through openings and entries that should. Use caulk, sealant, or weather-stripping to plug cracks, gaps, and leaks on walls, doors, windows and electrical outlets.

Don’t close your mind to the idea of going solar.

Do give solar energy a chance. Global warming is a very real threat and it’s time to seriously consider doing as much as possible to save energy and help keep our planet alive. The initial cost of solar power installation might immediately turn you off. It shouldn’t, though. Having your home powered with solar energy might just be the most energy-efficient move you can ever make. You’ll just have to open your mind to its possibilities. Even in our northern climate, your house can convert a lot of sunlight to electricity.

Practical Taxes Wants to Save You Money

Whether we are helping save you money on your taxes, get a bigger tax refund, or save you time, we believe in doing all that we can to make sure you are living a rich life. In order to be the best accountant in Billings, we believe in passing along money saving tips whenever possible. Those tips include making your home more energy efficient.

Want to get started saving money on your taxes? Call 406-894-2050 today!

Have You Considered the True Costs of Buying a Home?

real-estate-agent-billings-montana-300x227Buying a house is a big step. But most people don’t really understand what a house is going to cost them. Instead, they look at the price of the home, plug that into a mortgage calculator, and then think “hey, I could afford those payments!” What they fail to take into account is that owning a home is more than just principle and interest payments each month. If you’re wondering how much home you can afford, keep reading as Practical Taxes breaks it down.

For the sake of our analysis, we will use a home price of $200,000 and a 4% interest rate with no down payment.

 

Paying on Principle and Interest

Principle and interest are the two biggest components of owning a home. We can figure out exactly what those payments are by using a mortgage calculator. Google has one built right into its system, or there are dozens online (Bankrate has a good one).

Using a calculator we can see that a 30 year loan will cost $955 each month.

Paying Private Mortgage Insurance

Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is required if you put less than 20% down on the house that you are buying. This insurance protects the lender in case you default on the loan. Unfortunately you, the buyer, has to pay for this insurance that does nothing for you. PMI can run between .5% and 1.5% of the loan costs. Let’s use the lower number for our analysis.

PMI will cost an additional $83 per month.

Paying for Insurance

Best accountant in BillingsHomeowner’s insurance is a good idea even after you have paid off the loan. If you have a mortgage on your house, it is required by the lender that you maintain insurance. Costs for insurance premiums can vary dramatically depending on where you live, what types of materials were used to build the house, how old the house is, and if there are any “dangerous” items or animals on the property (swimming pools, trampolines, aggressive dogs, and the like). Most of the time homeowner’s insurance is pretty cheap.

Insurance will run you another $75 per month.

 

Paying for Utilities

Depending on where you were living before, you might not have had to worry about utility bills. If you lived in an apartment, then your bills were likely a lot lower than living in a home. Apartments are often warmer (especially if your unit was between 2 others), they don’t have a lawn to water, and generally they are smaller than a house. When you move into your own home, you are responsible for the entire utility bill. Since they fluctuate depending on season, age of the house, size, etc. we will try for a reasonable average.

Utilities will be roughly $200 per month. Not including phone, internet, cable, and other perks.

Paying for Maintenance

We’re not done adding up the costs of owning a home yet. Unless you are buying a brand new house that comes with a warranty, you are responsible for all of the maintenance that goes along with the house. That means if a water heater conks out, you get to fix or replace it. If the furnace dies, the dishwasher overheats, the refrigerator stops running, or even a light bulb burns out, then it is on you to get it back in order. That’s not to mention the fact that eventually the roof will need replaced, landscaping dies, and things will need upgraded, updated, and at least painted. You can pay for all of these when the time comes, but it would be better to have an emergency fund to offset those costs.

A maintenance slush fund needs at least $100 per month added to it.

The True Cost of Owning a Home

When you add up all of the costs, you can see that owning a home is a lot more than plugging the price into a mortgage calculator. In our example we see that our monthly costs come to:

  • Principle and Interest: $955
  • PMI: $83
  • Insurance: $75
  • Utilities: $200
  • Maintenance: $100
  • Total Costs: $1,413/month

Owning a home comes to about 150% of the principle and interest. So before you jump into home ownership, make sure that is the number that you can afford.

Practical Taxes Can Help

When you need an accountant in Billings, you have options. If you come to Practical Taxes you will get low cost tax preparation by an accountant. Your tax refund will likely be higher than if you try to do your own taxes, and the end result is that you have more money that you can set aside to put as a down payment on your next home.

Need to set up an appointment to have your taxes done? Call 406-894-2050.

The Debate Wages on: is Cash or Credit Card Better?

Credit-Card-300x200When making any kind of purchase, the same question is always asked (even if not out loud): will you pay in cash or using a credit card? It is typical for many people to use one or the other in different situations because both payment methods do have their own advantages and disadvantages. The key is to balance your choices so that you get the best of both.

If you read a lot of personal finance, you will hear the experts loudly proclaiming cash is better or credit card is better! They have their reasons, and ultimately it depends on you and your personality. Your Billings accountant lays out the details why you might choose one over the other.

Advantages of Paying in Cash

Controlled Spending – When you pay with cash, you are forced to be more mindful of your spending because you can only spend money that you actually have. If you go shopping with $500 in your pocket, you can’t let your purchases go over $500.00. If you bring your credit card instead of cash, although you plan to spend only $500.00, it will take more willpower to stick to that budget and avoid impulse buying to because it is just so much easier to have your credit card swiped than hand over real cash.

No additional costs – With cash payments, there are no fees to worry about. With credit cards, even if you do not have to pay for any interest because you make sure to always pay your full balance on its due date, you’ll still have to contend with other fees such as annual fees, foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, and balance transfer fees. And, if you happen to pay your bill past its due date (even just once), you will not only get charged with interest and late fees, it will negatively affect your credit history and credit score as well.

Security – When you pay with your credit card, merchants get the chance to ask for personal information (such as your email address, contact number, or your residence address) which they can then use for their promotional and marketing campaigns. By giving out this information, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of being victimized through data security breaches and identity theft. And even though you might not be held liable for unauthorized purchases done as a result of such, sorting things out might take some time and you will have to suffer through some unnecessary inconvenience. When you pay with cash, however, you rarely have to give out your personal data, and, you’ll be that much harder to track (for whatever reason you don’t want to be tracked by anybody).

Advantages of Using Credit Cards

Safety – Carrying too much money is rarely a smart move. When you lose your wallet or your money gets stolen, it’s simply gone for good. When you lose your credit card, you can just have it canceled and replaced. And, you will not have to pay for unauthorized purchases because of the protection that comes with it.

Convenience – When you carry only enough cash and an unexpected purchase needs to be done, you’ll have to resort to making an unscheduled withdrawal from your bank. If you have a credit card, you can easily pay for your purchase with it, and then make sure you include it in next month’s budget so you won’t have to pay for any interest charge.

Flexibility – When you’re fond of traveling, having a credit card gives you more flexibility because foreign stores and vendors generally accept payments from major credit cards. In contrast, you might need to have your cash converted to the country’s currency before you will be able to use it to pay for anything.

Additional perks – Paying in cash keeps you away from additional fees and charges, but rarely ever gives you the chance to receive any other perks. Credit card companies, on the other hand, usually offer rewards and incentive programs such as frequent flier miles, freebies from partner establishments, cash back rewards, and all kinds of discounts. More importantly, every time you pay your credit card bill on time, it makes your credit history look better and consequently, improves your credit score. This will certainly come in handy when you get faced with the need for a huge amount cash which you can only come up with by applying for a loan.

Easy monitoring – Credit card statements give you a complete and accurate record of all the purchases you made. With cash, you will have to do manual recording of your purchases so you’ll know where your money went.

Do You Prefer Cash or Credit Card?

The debate will always wage. Some will say cash is better, others claim you’re throwing away money by not utilizing perks. What it boils down to is your preference. If you’re disciplined and can manage your spending, then a credit card is great. But if you tend to overspend, then carrying cash is ideal.

Regardless of your method of spending, Practical Taxes, your best choice for accountant in Billings, MT, will provide you with outstanding service, prepare your taxes for less than you think, and get you the biggest tax refund possible.

Stop Believing these 5 Money Myths

Money doesn’t grow on trees. No, that’s not one of the 5 money myths that your Billings accountant wants to tell you about; most people realize that money doesn’t grow on trees. It is important to be aware of what is right and what is wrong when it comes to money, especially since almost any move you make can be restricted if you do not have it. To help get you on the right track, here are 5 of the most common money myths which you should stop believing today.

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It is always best to pay in cash.

While paying in cash is almost equivalent to saying that you have the funds needed to pay for what you are purchasing, sometimes, it isn’t always a good idea to do so. Why? Because you might be missing out on special offers, discounts, and other rewards offered by credit card companies. As long as you make it a point to pay your full credit card balance when it is due (which means no interest is charged), you will be better off racking up those reward points instead of paying everything in cash all the time with no rewards. And don’t forget, carrying too much cash around is a security risk because it is prone to theft, and is untraceable. Though your credit card can also be stolen, it can easily be canceled or frozen to prevent unauthorized use.

I’m too young/old to save for retirement

When you start saving while you are still young, you’ll have the benefit of earning more through compound interest. Which means it’s never too early to start saving. On the other hand, even if you are a bit older, you’ll still get to enjoy compound interest when you save, just not nearly as much compared to starting when you were younger. Which means it’s never too late to start saving.

You get what you pay for.

When it comes to quality, almost everybody assumes that the more expensive it is, the better it is. This may be true in many cases, but not in all instances. A good example is generic drugs. Sure, you have this preconceived notion that the popular medicine brands will surely help stop whatever pain you’re feeling. But have you compared the ingredients to the generic? A generic aspirin will stop a headache just the same as a brand name one. The point is, the brand and the price tag shouldn’t always be the only deciding factors when you are making any purchase. There’s a time to be practical, as well as a time for brand-consciousness. Know when it’s worth paying the higher price, and when it isn’t.    

You can’t start saving until all your debt has been repaid.

Whoever started this myth should be ashamed of themselves. Because emergencies and unexpected circumstances are a part of life (just like death and taxes), paying off everything you owe before you start saving might be impractical, if not, impossible. Just think about it. You’re working, working, working to pay your debts and make ends meet, when someone suddenly gets sick. You don’t have extra funds to go to the hospital or buy medicine. So it’s a choice between sacrificing food and groceries, or getting into some other kind of debt. And instead of achieving your goal to be debt-free, you end up getting into more debt instead. The lesson: even if you still have debts to pay, strive to set up an emergency fund by saving even just a little bit each month so you won’t have to go into crisis mode every time something unexpected happens

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Minimizing your spending is indeed a great way to save. But it is illogical to think that the savings you get by cutting down on expenses will pave the way for elevating your financial status — you can only do that by earning more. The best way to get ahead financially is not to just save more, but earn more.

Practical Taxes Squashes the 5 Money Myths

Here’s a bonus myth that you should stop believing: stop giving the government an interest free loan. Overpaying your taxes is a good thing since most of us don’t have the discipline to save that money every single month. A sudden windfall is harder to spend than a dollar here or there, and can help boost your financial health dramatically.

To get that sudden windfall, you need a great accountant that will maximize your tax refund, and save you money. As the best accountant in Billings, we can do that for you!

 

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. A year later, their footage was found.” Remember where you heard these 2 unforgettable statements? This was used as the tagline for the 1999 American horror film, The Blair Witch Project. This also happens to be one of the most famous embodiment of what has come to be known as guerrilla marketing.

Guerilla-Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing?

Formally introduced to the world in 1984, guerrilla marketing is a term coined by marketer Jay Conrad Levinson. Simply put, guerrilla marketing is an advertising tactic that makes use of non-traditional methods (creative stunts and gimmicks rather than high-budget promotions) to achieve traditional results (sales and profits). It was originally intended to give small businesses a chance to make themselves known, while working only on a minimal budget.

Doing away with the usual high-budget tactics, guerrilla marketing relies on sheer guts, ingenuity, and audacity to work its magic, and influence their targets to buy what they are selling, so to speak.

Origins of Guerrilla Marketing

Inspired by guerrilla warfare — a form of small-scale combat used by armed civilians that is characterized by surprise attacks — guerrilla marketing also depends heavily on the element of surprise to make the campaign effective. Because many consumers are so used to being bombarded with the usual forms of advertising (print, media, radio), the unexpected ways that are used by guerrilla marketing to make a product, service, or information known leaves a more lasting impression and results in a more memorable experience.

The Blair Witch Project Example

In the given example, the filmmakers (college pals Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick of University of Central Florida Film School) were able to draw considerable public attention by creating a website devoted to the Blair Witch – a wood-based kid-snatching character who has supposedly been terrorizing Maryland for the past century. Received too enthusiastically by those who visited website, the Blair Witch soon turned from a fictitious character into some kind of urban legend. The overall effect? The movie earned a whopping $250 million all over the world. A major feat considering it only cost about $50,000 to make.

This is the kind of reaction that guerrilla marketing is aiming for. Requiring creativity and imagination that targets customers in ways that no one can predict, guerrilla marketing attempts to create unforgettable impact and elicit observable reactions that will logically lead to the intended course of action, in this case — watching the film.

Characteristics of Guerrilla Marketing

Aside from being far less costly than traditional advertising strategies, a guerrilla marketing campaign generally exhibits the following characteristics:

  • It is interactive and stimulating so you can’t help but react.
  • It catches you off-guard because it is there when and where you least expect it.
  • There is an outrageous, shocking and mischievous element to it, yet when its true intention becomes obvious, there is hardly any feeling of negativity.
  • It can turn routine or everyday experience from ordinary to extraordinary.
  • It has the tendency to become viral.
  • It generates a buzz, creates a hype, and people actually talk about it.

Practical Taxes Can Help…

… with your taxes. While we do love to see businesses succeed, and we can offer some marketing advice, we tend to stick with what we know. And we know taxes, finances, and business. If you are a small business owner, and you have seen a sudden surge in success due to your guerrilla marketing techniques, that’s awesome! We can help you manage the tax implications of your success. Of course if you need help with your tax return, and you are looking for the largest tax refund possible, we can help with that too.

Practical Taxes has recently moved! We are now your Billings, Montana accountant located at 2201 Grand Ave.

 

 

Christmas-Debt-298x300Christmas is only a few weeks away. If you haven’t done any planning yet, you better get a move on soon! Otherwise, you’re likely to fall into the trap of overspending. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about money here. When you don’t plan and organize, you not only spend more money than you intend to, you also end up spending more time and effort.

It’s not that we don’t think that Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. It’s simply that the Christmas season should be a haven of happy memories, and not a cause of stress, anxiety, an empty wallet, and a lean bank account.

To make sure that this Christmas will be the joyous occasion that it ought to be, your accountant in Billings, MT offers a few tips to help with your gift-giving plans.

 

Save on money this Christmas

Make a list – Before doing any shopping, make a gift list, as well as a card list. This will ensure that you do not overlook anybody, risk hurting someone’s feelings, or go on a last-minute (usually over-budget) shopping rush.

Set a budget – One of the most logical ways to avoid overspending is to come up with a budget, and stick to it no matter what.

Come Up with a Theme – Especially for those you are unsure of what to get for Christmas this year. Having a theme might make gift-picking a little bit easier and likely more cost-effective too because of the possibility of buying in bulk or volume.

Bring out your Creativity – With so many DIY tutorials, finding a gift that you can do yourself is no longer a daunting task. More than just saving on cost, sometimes a personalized gift can turn out to be the most special because it speaks volumes about how important the recipient is to you that you were willing to spend extra time to make the gift, instead of simply buying it.

Make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are undoubtedly the best sales events of the year (The time between Black Friday and Christmas makes up over 30% of some store’s annual revenue). Maximize your savings by buying at least half of your gifts during these events. While you’re at it, why not treat yourself to great deals as well?

Save on time and effort

Embrace e-Commerce – Gone are the days when shopping requires a trip to the mall. With the advent of online shopping, life has become made so much easier. No need to dress up, drive through traffic, fight over parking space, and face the overwhelming holiday shopping crowd. Instead of physically going from store to store, try browsing through different online stores instead, and shop from the comfort of your living room.

Go out on Weekdays; Stay Home on Weekends – Spare yourself from the usual weekend rush. Do your mall shopping during the weekdays, and use the weekend for what it is made for rest and relaxation.

Wrap Gifts Immediately – Instead of completing your gift list before wrapping, why not wrap immediately after buying? Try it and you’ll soon realize that it’s actually faster, easier, and less tiring compared to marathon gift wrapping.

Plan Now to Save on Christmas Shopping

Start with your Christmas planning now, while there’s still plenty of time. And remember, as cliché as it may sound, when it comes to giving, it’s still the thought that counts, and not the price. So let the Christmas season bring out the best in you, without having to overspend on anything.

If you do get in over your head, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans will overspend this year. Just make a plan to get out of that holiday debt. One way is to maximize your refund. Practical Taxes can help you get that refund.

 

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.