Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web

This week: Weird tax deductions; how to make your spouse save more; working from home; how to become an entrepreneur; four phone calls you need to make; and how to save for a rainy day.


1. 5 True Stories of Totally Weird Tax Deductions

[Credit.com] “Tax season is almost upon us, which means someone, somewhere is asking the age-old question: Can I write off my cat food? (The answer: You can’t unless it’s a business expense). What you can do, however, is read this excellent roundup of weird tax deductions …

Having been a CPA (now inactive) for more than 30 years, I’ve heard of many strange write-offs, including some similar to these. They include people writing off bar mitzvahs, the family dog, organic food, exotic travel and other in-no-way-deductible expenses. Check out the post for details, then check out my new tax course, where you can learn what’s actually deductible and why.

2. 5 Ways to Deal With a Spouse Who Does Not Want to Save Money

[The Dollar Stretcher] “In a study conducted by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University, it was shown that couples who argue about money once a week were 30% more likely to get divorced than couples who disagreed about money only occasionally. Clearly, finding financial solutions is worth the effort. But what can one person do when their spouse isn’t on board with saving money?”

As you might imagine, this is another topic we’ve hit on quite a bit. The advice offered in this article includes talking, learning more about money, budgeting together, considering separate accounts and lots more. Fighting over finances? Take a break and read a little. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Want to Work From Home? Here’s What You Need to Consider First

[The Penny Hoarder] “Working from home may be among your goals for 2016. What better way to find freedom, flexibility and autonomy in your work than working for yourself? But working from home might come with a few less-exciting surprises as well ….”

Since I’ve worked exclusively from home for 25 years, I had to check this one out. This author said what you need to consider is that you’ll get sympathy from your friends (since they’ll think you don’t actually have a job), you’ll feel guilty (since it’s so cool to work from home), you’ll need to establish boundaries (since your friends and family will forget you’re working), and you’ll need to remind yourself to get dressed and shower. See the article for more.

4. 10 Tips for Becoming an Entrepreneur in Your Spare Time

[Debt.com] “Thinking of quitting your day job to pursue a passion project? Just wait. After all, some of the most successful business people in history, from Warren Buffett to Sarah Blakely, held onto their 9 to 5 lives while building their empires on the side. And thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to make your dreams a reality in your spare time.”

Confession: I didn’t know who Sarah Blakely was. (In case you don’t either, it’s the woman who brought us Spanks. Don’t know what Spanks are? All I’ll say is, it’s not what you think.)

This post has lots of good advice for the part-time entrepreneur, including talking to lots of people, expanding an existing hobby, patenting applicable ideas and taking your time. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is the Small Business Administration and the SCORE program. Check them out as well. If you’re thinking of turning your hobby into a business, check out these tips.

5. 4 Phone Calls That Will Save You Big Every Month

[Wise Bread] “If you want to save money, you should call your credit card company, mortgage lender, insurance agent, or cable provider. Ask for everything from a lower interest rate to a less costly cable subscription.”

There’s no question that calling the source of your greatest household expenses and asking for a better deal is definitely a good idea, and this post explains why. At first glance, I thought the title was saying you should call them all every month. Not to worry: It means to call them once, then start saving big every month.

Bonus: 5 Golden Rules for Saving a 3-Month Emergency Fund

[Credit Sesame] “We all know we should have an emergency fund, but to those who don’t, creating one seems like a daunting task. The secret? Have a mapped out plan.”

The steps to creating an emergency fund? Setting a goal, treating contributions to the fund as a bill, tracking your spending, being creative and keeping on top of everything. See the post for the nitty-gritty.

Stacy Johnson

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