Millennials and the Side Hustle

February 20, 2017 § 3 Comments

 

Many Americans are taking on second jobs, or “side hustles.” Some do it for extra spending money, some for retirement, some simply to pay the bills. But no one side hustles more than millennials. A whopping 44% of those between the ages of 25 and 34 have taken on a second job, in addition to 39% of those between 18 and 24 years of age. It comes as no surprise: young professionals strive constantly to better their resumes and portfolios, and student loan debt is higher than ever – both on an individual and national level.

Positive attitude - we've got loads!

Side hustles today are a little different than they used to be. Thanks to technology, the entire job market is evolving, and second jobs are no exception. Some still opt for the classics: waiters and waitresses, bartenders, baristas, etc. But many millennials are looking for the freedom of doing their own thing on their own terms in their own homes (or wherever they can plug in a laptop). Now, people are opting for other jobs like driving with Uber, designing websites, hosting with AirBNB, blogging, freelancing and so much more.

But don’t cozy into your couch to start working on your side hustle just yet. There’s a lot of work that can go into making this extra job successful. Here are some items to consider before getting going:

  • Be careful that you don’t lose money. Earning extra money appears glamorous, but keep in mind that with any business comes expenses. Whether these expenses come in the form of maintaining your car or home or purchasing supplies, materials or software, they will still affect your bottom line. Keep accurate records of every cent those goes into and comes out of your hustle. Consider opening a separate bank account just for your side hustle.
  • Yes – this money counts toward your overall taxable income, and with a side hustle, none of those taxes are coming out throughout the year like they might at your day job. Fortunately, you can deduct expenses you put into the work, but keep a good chunk of money aside for those taxes. Uncle Sam may take as much as 50% of your extra earnings in both income and self-employment taxes.
  • Speaking of taxes, you’ll need to file a Schedule C at tax time to report these earnings and expenses. Keeping up-to-date, accurate records will make this much easier on both you and your tax preparer. Again, consider opening a separate bank account and using an accounting program.
  • Don’t let it affect your primary job. Do you have the time and energy to commit to another line of work? Does your side hustle conflict with the work your employer does? Remember that this is extra income; don’t let it jeopardize your base income.
  • Likewise, don’t let it affect your home life. How will this lack of free time affect your personal relationships with friends, significant others or kids? Weigh the pros and cons of money versus time, and make sure what you make per hour is really worth it.

For those of you readers who work with and/or supervise individuals with side hustles, it can be an interesting experience, but if they are careful and mind the ideas above, it will hopefully never come between them and their job. Simply respect that they have goals outside of work, and having that extra job or income is a means of achieving that goal. But if it interferes with their performance, don’t hesitate to speak with them about it.

Side hustles can be difficult, interesting, and somewhat scary, but they offer individuals and communities many growth opportunities. If you need a small job done, there’s likely someone in your community who can do it well and for a good price, and shopping local is always a great idea.

Kelsey Cervantes
Kelsey Beyer
Marketing Supervisor – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.
kcervantes@mhcscpa.com
http://mhcscpa.com

Tips to Help Spot Scams

February 1, 2017 § Leave a comment

It seems like I get an alert daily telling me about another scam that is trying to trick us into giving out our personal information or into downloading a virus or malware onto our computers.  This past week I heard of two more scams that are targeted at small businesses.  I am passing a few of these current scams on to you and am hopeful that you will pass them on to others to keep anyone else from becoming a victim of one of them.

phishing-01QuickBooks Software Scam

Victims of this scam receive an email with the subject line “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.”  The email says that they want to confirm that you have made a change to your business name.  Of course, the issue is that you have not requested a change, but they provide a link that you can click on to cancel the request.  Your first instinct may be to click on that link and cancel the request.  Unfortunately, this is what will cause you trouble – this one click will allow malware into your device, giving scammers access to your information.   This may allow them to acquire your passwords or your identification information, leading to identity theft.

W-2 Scam

With this scam, which is making its way across the nation for the second time, a scammer impersonating a corporate officer sends an email to the payroll department or HR department of your company.   The email is requesting a list of employees, SSN’s or copies of W-2s.  This W-2 scam first appeared last year.  The scammers tricked payroll personnel into disclosing employee names, SSN’s and income information.   With this information, the scammers were able to create income tax returns and fraudulently file for tax refunds.  The email sent in this scam actually contained the name of the CEO and company name, so beware of this type of email and double check to make sure it is authentic.

TurboTax Scam

This one is a new scam that I just heard about yesterday.  An email is sent – supposedly from TurboTax – saying that you have a refund pending, but you have to submit a tax refund request and to click on the link for the refund. This exposes your personal information to the scammers and can lead to tax fraud or identity theft.

IRS Payment Scam

This scam is not a new one.  I have received calls from clients for over a year regarding this scam.  However, I still get calls so I wanted to remind you of it.  In an email or phone call the scammer will tell you that he/she is with the IRS.  They may even give you a badge number.  They will say that you owe taxes and will demand payment immediately.  They may request bank information or want to be paid with prepaid phone or money cards.   Do not be intimidated by these messages.  The IRS will not email and will not demand payment over the phone.  The IRS always corresponds via mail.

These scammers are getting more sophisticated and creative every day.   Be especially careful during the tax season as many of these scammers use the information they get from you to file returns and get hefty refunds.  Here are a few tips to help spot phishing emails:

  1. Check the reply email address. Make sure it is on a company domain rather than a generic address.
  2. Consider how the organization/individual normally contacts you. For instance, the IRS does not use email.  Do not reply to any email saying it is from the IRS.
  3. Read the message carefully. If the message does not sound like the person they claim to be, check with that person independently before clicking on any link or sending personal information with a reply.  I have received several emails with the correct email address, but could tell it was not legitimate by the language used in the email.
  4. Check the destination of links before actually clicking on them. Hover over them to see where they lead. Be sure the link points to the correct domain for the company name, not a variation.  Scammers are becoming more creative.  For instance, using IRS.com rather than IRS.gov or a slight variation of a company name.
  5. Be very cautious of any email asking for your personal information or wanting you to click on a link. Be sure to have company procedures informing employees not to clink on links from unexpected sources and who to contact to verify an email if they are uncertain about it.

Hope these tips will help you to stop and think before you or your employees get caught up in a phishing scheme! Scammers are always coming up with new tricks, so stay on the look-out. You can never be too cautious…

Kathi Koenig, CPA
Kathi Koenig
Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.
kkoenig@mhcscpa.com
mhcscpa.com

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