Home Based Business Marketing Can Be Fun!

Home based business marketing can mean different things to different people. And the feelings it brings also vary. Some embrace marketing their home based business like an old friend. Others see it as a necessary evil – just part of being a business owner. Others head for the hills. They love the other aspects of their business but marketing? No thanks. Where category do you fall into?If you are less than enthusiastic about getting the word out about your business, then you are probably trying to fit yourself into a “one size fits all” marketing mold. You may have an idea of what marketing is all about and think you need to be a salesperson to get customers. Well, what if I told you there are LOTS of ways to market a business and you can absolutely find methods that you are comfortable with and that will be fun? Would you be interested?I have never thought of myself as being good at selling. It’s just not me. I used to almost apologize when I told someone about my business. Now that builds confidence in your business, doesn’t it? Of course not, but I didn’t know how else to go about letting others know about what I offered.However, today I can actually say I find marketing my home based business to be fun! Why the change in attitude? I have found ways to do it that fit my personality. Probably the biggest change that occurred was that I realized all the different ways there are to market a business, so now I am aware of opportunities when they come up. Before, I would have let them pass by, feeling like I didn’t have time to pursue them. But now, they have become my priority. I recognize marketing opportunities when I see them and I take advantage of them.For example, I belong to a group that does a Promo day once a month. I used to skim the other promos at best, sometimes, I have to admit, I just deleted them. But now, I read them and see if anyone is looking for some freebies they can offer or if anyone is asking for cross promotions. If our target markets are the same, you can bet I will offer what I can and take part in the promotions. It is a great, non-threatening way to get my business in front of a new group of people.This is just one example. There are so many other ways to do home based business marketing that will be effective. You need to explore your options and choose ones that you feel will work for your business and for who you are.

Top 10 Ways to Save on Travel

Springtime is here and if you are planning for that summer vacation, you may find these travel saving tips helpful. Whether it’s that class reunion, summer getaway or family outing – you have to get there. These days with travel costs on the rise, saving money is essential.It may take you a little longer to book your travel plans, but the savings may be well worth the time. When it comes to travel, I am all about saving money. I recently saved over 50% on my rental car and it was no ordinary rental. Our rental vehicle was the kind that you want to take home, however the price we paid was equivalent to the type you cannot wait to return.Here are the Top 10 Ways to Save on Travel:

Plan Ahead of Time. Booking your travel plans ahead of time (at least two weeks in advance) can save you money.

Discounts, Coupons and Promotion Codes. Applying discounts, coupons or promotions can translate into big savings on travel. My warehouse club membership travel discounts provided 25% off normal rental car rates plus a day free.

Discounts may be offered on rental cars, hotels, airfare, train and a variety of other travel related expenses. A few examples of those who may qualify for discounts are motor clubs, organizations, college student, senior citizen, employer or military.
Coupons and Promotion codes may be available on the web (e.g. company sites, social media sites), motor club websites, warehouse clubs (e.g. Costco) travel services, credit card promotions or your car insurance provider.

Shop Around. Compare the prices on the travel websites. Some websites that I use are Hotwire.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com and Orbitz.com. However, the lowest price may be found on the official company website, so compare these prices as well. Be sure to look for any direct booking special offers or promotions when visiting the official websites (airlines, hotels or rental car companies). Note: Southwest Airlines is not normally on any of the travel websites, you must visit their website directly.

Be aware of any Extra Fees. Spirit Airlines recently announced that they will begin charging travelers for some carry-on bags. Not to mention there is an airline considering charging to use the restroom once on board. These fees can really add up, so keep in mind any extra charges when doing your price comparison.

Travel during Off-Peak Times. Traveling on off-peak days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) can save you money on your airline tickets. Early morning or late night flights may also be cheaper.

Be Flexible with Travel Dates. Switching your travel date by a day or two could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings.

Compare Package Deals. Bundling up your travel into a package (airline, hotel and rental car) can be a tremendous savings.

Look for Last Minute Travel Deals. Yes, it’s true you can find great deals on last minute travel offers. The best way to find out about them is to sign up for email notification or to visit the company (e.g. airline, rental car or hotel) websites to check for any special pricing or last minute offers.

Join Frequent Traveler Programs. Frequent traveler programs can help you save on fees (i.e. baggage), get travel perks (e.g. special offers, upgrades, priority boarding) or receive free travel benefits (hotel stays, tickets).

Purchase a Travel Pass. If you are planning on visiting a city and touring some of the major attractions. Travel passes can really save you money. My husband and I purchased a city pass (visit citypass.com) in San Francisco and it included all of the attractions we wanted to visit and public transportation, amounting to about 50% in total savings.TripAdvisor.com is another great travel website. This site is very helpful with giving you some insight into what to expect from hotels, including hotel rankings and customer reviews (some of these are very funny!). The site also has ideas for places to visit, restaurants, price comparison tools and more.©2010 by KP Evans Financial. Reprint rights granted if crediting author Kembala Evans.

How to Deduct Your Travel Expenses

Travel expenses are a favorite deduction of many clients, because they love to travel and especially enjoy it when the IRS is subsidizing part of the expense. In order to deduct travel expenses, however, you must show that the expense has a business purpose and is ordinary and necessary to the business.Travel expenses that have a business purpose include:- Meeting customers/prospects/vendors residing in a different location;
– Searching for investment property;
– Meeting with business partners, both current and prospective; and
– Holding annual shareholder meetings (usually held in conjunction with an annual board meeting).The phrase “ordinary and necessary” generally is defined to mean, “in the ordinary course of business” and that “the expense will contribute to the success of the business.”If a taxpayer travels to a destination and while at such destination engages in both business and personal activities, traveling expenses to and from the destination are deductible only if the trip is related primarily to the taxpayer’s trade or business.If the trip is primarily personal in nature, the traveling expenses to and from the destination are not deductible even though the taxpayer engages in business activities while at such destination. Expenses while at the destination which are directly related to the taxpayer’s trade or business are deductible even though the traveling expenses to and from the destination are not deductible.Whether a trip is related primarily to the business or is personal depends on the facts and circumstances in each case. The amount of time during the period of the trip that is spent on personal activity compared to the amount of time spent on business is an important factor in determining the deductibility of the travel expense. Generally, if business is conducted more than 50% of the time in an eight-hour business day, the travel expense is deductible.Travel expenses incurred on behalf of a spouse, dependent or other individual accompanying the taxpayer are not deductible. However, if the spouse, dependent or other individual is an employee of the taxpayer or there is a bona fide business purpose, then the travel expense is deductible.Travel expenses involving a cruise ship typically are not deductible. However, they can be deductible if you are attending a convention on a cruise ship and you can show that attendance benefits your trade or business. No deductions for cruise ship expenses are allowed for meetings related to personal investments, political causes or other purposes.There are additional restrictions relating to cruise ship travel. For example, there is a $2,000 annual limit on cruise conventions and you must attach a written statement to your tax return that includes certain facts about the convention.Normally, expenses require simple documentation such as a receipt. However, travel expenses require additional documentation. If the IRS finds the taxpayer does not have sufficient documentation, the expense will not be deductible. The taxpayer must document the amount, time, place and business purpose of the travel expense.Sufficient documentation of a business expense includes receipts, cancelled checks or bills. Although a contemporaneous log is not required, we normally recommend that our clients keep an itinerary of the business trip listing all business activities as documentation of the travel expense. The log should list all elements of the expense (e.g., amount, time, place and purpose) as this has high credibility with the IRS. Documentary evidence, such as receipts or paid bills, is not generally required for expenses that are less than $75. However, the IRS has ruled that all lodging expenses must be documented.The taxpayer may deduct a standard allowance as set by the federal government. This is called a per diem deduction. In lieu of receipts, taxpayer will deduct the per diem rates. Per Diem travel expense deductions are not allowed for owners.Good news for those who hate keeping track of all of those pesky receipts when they travel. The IRS will allow you to deduct your meals and incidental expenses for travel away from home even without receipts. This is their Per Diem Allowance program.The way it works is that the IRS has a table indicating the amount of deduction you can take on a daily basis for meals and incidentals while traveling away from home. If you choose to use this flat, per diem amount, you do not have to keep track of the receipts for these expenses. If you are not an owner in the business, you can even use the per diem method for travel and lodging. Owners can only use the per diem method for meals and incidentals.Of course, per diem allowances, like deductions for actual expenses, may be used only if the time, place and business purpose of the travel are substantiated by adequate records or other evidence.The IRS has issued per diem rates based upon the Continental United States (“CONUS”) travel and foreign travel. New CONUS per diem rates become effective on October 1 of each year, and remain in effect through September 30 of the following year. Federal rates are on the Internet at http://www.gsa.gov/.If employee expenses are substantiated using a per diem amount, and reimbursement exceeds the relevant federal rates for that type of allowance, then the employee is required to include the excess in gross income. The excess portion must be reported on the employee’s W-2 and is subject to withholding. However, as long as the reimbursement amount does not exceed the relevant federal rates, then the amount is not taxable to the employee!Other technical rules apply to using per diem rates. Be sure to work with your CPA to make sure you are following all of the technical rules before using the per diem method for documenting travel expenses.