Working From Home – Can I Claim Any Money Back For Tax?

If you run an office from home then you can expect to have higher domestic bills. Why you may ask, well for one you will be using more electricity as you will be using your computer throughout the day and other appliances. You will also use more gas for central heating; you may even notice your water bills going up a small amount too.If you are working from home but are employed by a company then you are entitled to claim a proportion of these expenses back against your tax bill at the end of the financial year. But HM Revenue and Customs in Britain would rather that you didn’t. Back in 2005 it capped the tax relief available for gas, electric, water and phone bills to just two pounds a week for employed workers. This is as in effect by working from home you are saving your company money. The more people a company has working from home, the less it needs to spend on bills of their own such as electricity, gas, rent for premises etc.So why should the company keep those savings and expect the taxman to cover your costs? This is because it is down to your employer to reimburse you any costs by working from home, not the taxman. But alas more often than not the company will not as they see it that you are benefiting as you do not have to pay for travel costs.If you are self-employed working from home then it is a different story, and a better one. You can claim some of your home bills such as gas, electric, phone and the rent against tax. But you do need to demonstrate that your home office is only used for business purposes. So if you are working in the corner of your kitchen then I don’t think it will go down very well with the taxman. The easiest way to work out what you are entitled to is by square footage, so for instance if your home office takes up fifteen percent of your home then as a rule of thumb you can claim fifteen percent back of your bill s against tax.My advice is if you are running an office out of your home, then it is best to speak to an accountant to calculate it for you. They know the exact amounts you can claim back and how. They are the experts so ensure that you inform your accountant exactly what you use for business purposes in your home.

The Real Estate Investor’s Creative Financing Ideas

Finding Financing – Creative Ideas

For many years, the way to finance real estate was to make a 20% down payment, and get a loan for the remaining 80%. Of course you could make a higher down payment, but 20% was typically the minimum. Luckily, this standard has changed.

There are now several finance options available to the real estate investor. One popular way to finance your purchase is to have a second mortgage. The buyer makes a 5% down payment, and borrows the remaining 15%, usually at a higher interest rate, on a different loan.

Even though it’s nice to invest less on a property, the higher interest rate isn’t the only drawback. Usually, if the buyer does not meet the 20% minimum, they are required to get costly private mortgage insurance (PMI).

You are able to remove PMI when the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio reaches 80%. This is achieved by paying down the second mortgage and appreciation of the property value. This does not happen often because the property is usually sold or the buyer refinances before PMI can be removed.

For creative investors, other financing sources exist. Manufacturers of homes in planned developments are often willing to provide financing to early buyers.

Another risky and rather complicated way of financing a property is called ‘sub2′ which stands for ‘subject-to’. This type of deal is when the seller gives you the deed to the property, the loan stays in place, but the buyer never legally takes over the loan, just the payments. There are many different versions of this kind of transaction. Because of the complexity and risk, this method of funding an investment is not recommended for beginners.

You can also consider forming a limited partnership to finance your real estate investment. There are many different arrangements on this method. Some types involve each person in the partnership contributing in a portion of the cost, usually 50% each. However, sometimes the profit is distributed relative to the original amount invested. Another arrangement is that one half of the partnership contributes the capital, and the other half provides the needed services, such as repairs on a home that needs to be fixed. There are many different variations of this method.

How about the Lease Option? The lease-option allows a potential investor to lease the property and have some, or all, of the lease money applied to the purchase price if the potential buyer exercised the option to purchase. The investor then sub-leases the property with the option to buy or just rent it out.

In a conventional lease with option to buy, the seller charges the buyer a nonrefundable fee for the option to purchase the property at some agreed-upon point in time. The amount can vary depending on how eager the seller is to sell and the size and quality of the house. Typically, the higher the fee, the better the buyer maintains the property.

Because the lessee has made no down payment, the monthly rental fee is typically higher than prevailing market rates. The two parties agree on what portion of the rent will be applied to the down payment. Any amount can be credited.

Government loans are available to low income investors, or buyers who have served in the military. These programs are usually only available for primary residences.

Did you ever think about buying a home on a credit card? This is another method of financing your real estate purchase, although it’s usually not recommended. Obviously, the interest rates on most credit cards are substantially higher than loan rates. Another drawback is that lenders determine your creditworthiness based on your outstanding debt, and if you use credit card cash advances to cover the 5-20% down payment that you need, you’ll probably get turned down for a loan. This is also true for money borrowed from friends or family, unless you can show that the money is truly a gift.

Habits – The Big Secret to Marketing Success

What do you think you need more than anything else to attract more of your ideal clients?Many people will say, “better information to show me how to do what works.”Others will say, “more motivation and drive to implement what I already know.”Another common answer is, “more time to fit marketing activities into my schedule.”And lots of people will say, “I need better goals and more clarity about what I want to achieve.”In writing this ezine/blog for the past 20 years I’ve talked about the importance of all of those.But I’m finally understanding a factor that is much more important: good habits.Over the past year, I’ve been a big advocate of the writings of James Clear. He writes a blog about success and habits. And he just came out with his first book, Atomic Habits, which is fantastic.Even though James isn’t a marketing expert, I’m convinced he’s right when he says that the ultimate determinant of success is building positive habits.This idea is simple but true: Self-employed professionals who establish regular marketing habits have a much better chance of succeeding than those who don’t.And the crazy thing is that the four items – information, motivation, time, and goals – I mentioned above don’t actually make a huge difference.Information. These days, we have access to more information about marketing than ever before in history. And much of it is free and instantly available through a Google or YouTube search.The problem is that most of us have not established a regular habit of studying what we need to know to become better marketers. The information is useless unless we become proficient at implementing it.And even if we pay good money for courses and programs, much of it goes to waste. I just learned recently online that 97% of people who buy a course online never complete it.Motivation. If we measured motivation by intention, we are all motivated. Don’t we all want and need to grow our businesses? But we keep getting distracted and don’t follow through on our intentions. Again, the issue is poor habits.Time. If only we had more of it. But unsuccessful marketers have just as much of it as the most successful ones. The key is that they dedicate more time to implementing regular marketing habits.Goals. Nothing wrong with goals except that they are only a starting point for success. And they can get us stuck in the future, instead of doing what needs to be done today – the routine marketing habits that we perform every day or week.”A habit or system beats a goal every time.” – James ClearThe research is in and the conclusion is clear.Establishing positive and consistent marketing habits have a bigger impact on marketing success than anything else.We may have great information, high motivation, lots of time, and clear goals, but unless marketing activities are performed regularly and habitually, the chances of success are slim to none.The question you should be asking is, “How do I start establishing better marketing habits?”James’s Atomic Habits goes to great lengths to share a multitude of ways to become an expert habit practitioner. So I highly suggest you get his book. It could be the most valuable ‘marketing’ book you’ll ever read.But let me also give you my perspective on what it takes to establish new marketing habits.The C – SPAT ModelThis is a model I came up with for one of my marketing programs.Coaching or Context. A coach declares the game, how it is played and how to win at it. And this creates the context in which you play the game. It helps if you have an outside source that can hold you accountable to play by the rules necessary to succeed.This principle is why when you’re working with a coach or in a program that you suddenly find it’s easier to take action and form positive habits. The context of the game helps shape your behaviors.Notice that all professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants go through rigorous training in the form of a professional school and internship. And in this context, professional habits and protocols are established.As independent professionals, we’d all prefer to do things on our own, charting our own direction. That’s nice, except that it doesn’t always work very well, does it?Study. A big part of the game is study and learning the body of knowledge necessary to perform effectively. Again, the information required to be an effective marketer is readily available, but you need some assistance in sorting the wheat from the chaff and studying what is most useful.Planning. All successful marketing needs a plan. The alternative is implementing random marketing activities with little structure and direction. So it’s not how much you know, but how you put what you know into action.Action. Success doesn’t come from being busy or doing a lot of things, but in doing the right things at the right time. This is where establishing regular marketing habits comes in.To some, it might be writing an article once or twice a week. For others, it may mean setting up more meetings with networking contacts. Or it could be booking regular speaking engagements.The secret to making this work is to leverage the first three steps of the model – Coaching, Study, and Planning, into marketing Actions that you perform as consistently as possible.Tracking. What gets measured gets done. And when we fail to measure, habits don’t tend to stick. When we measure and track habits, the chances increase dramatically that they are performed consistently.It can take some time to establish positive habits. You know that’s happened when you don’t even have to think about it anymore; you just sit down and write that article every Monday or make five calls to prospects every week.And when you’re in action like this, you create a feedback loop, learning what works the best and what doesn’t. This enables you to fine-tune and adjust over time until your marketing habits become more established.So, stop putting so much attention on searching for the “perfect” marketing strategy, getting motivated, finding more time, and setting goals.Instead, use the C – SPAT approach to establishing positive marketing habits.Cheers, Robert