You've escaped the corporate world and made the leap to being self-employed. Or you never lived in the corporate world and are making a living. You may be a writer, a blogger, a photographer, or any of a wide array of professions. You have the freedom to work while wearing yoga pants, and you can be home when your kids get home from school. You have more freedom than when you worked 9-5, but you also have to be in charge of the administration of those dollars that get deposited into your bank account.
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The accounting and organizing side of being self-employed can be overwhelming, especially if you are not an accountant. Luckily for you, the year is 2015, and there are so many things right at your fingertips that can help you streamline that side of being self-employed. Here are five apps that will take the stress of administration down a notch or five.
1. Freshbooks. I am a CA, and use a higher-end program, but I have a number of friends who use Freshbooks and they love it. Let's keep it simple. It's designed for those who may not have an accounting background. It's intuitive, and it lets you easily track your revenue and expenses. You can take a photo of expense receipts and enter them via your phone. For invoicing, you can accept payments from major credit cards and PayPal.
2. Evernote. I have read many posts about Evernote, and I downloaded it, but haven't put it into play. HOWEVER. My husband is taking his Masters course in Leadership. He downloaded it, learned how it works, and now has our entire church staff on board. I need to catch up, and you should as well. This one stores notes, lists, to-dos, and virtual slips of paper.
3. Kindle. Again, Mr. Masters has shone the light on this one. Paper books are great, but having a Kindle with all of its features is something you need to have at your fingertips. If you buy a Kindle Fire (tablet) it will read to you, which is handy if you spend a lot of time commuting.
4. Cam Scanner. Scanning documents is huge, whether you are self-employed or not. You don't own a scanner? Cam Scanner has your back.
5. Kingsoft Office. We (I) may live in an Apple world, but Microsft Office is the go-to software for documents and spreadsheets and presentations. Sometimes you have to lay down the sword from the white side.
Do you have any apps that you'd like to share for the rest of us?
If you like this, check out Top Five Tax Tips For Freelancers and Bloggers and 5 Smartphone Apps that save you money
It's not a secret that spending time with your partner - just the two of you - is key to keeping your relationship healthy and alive. Not all of us have a lot of disposable income when we're in the throes of parenting, so we think that we can't go on dates because dinner and movie can be quite costly. Or maybe you don't have kids yet and are a student. Or maybe you chose a career that fulfills you, but doesn't bring in the big bucks. Whatever the reason, spending time with your love doesn't have to be a costly affair. Here are some fun dates for under $50:
1. Meet for lunch. This won't work if one or both of you have a long commute, but if you can make it happen, it's a great way to connect during the day. My husband works in our small town and I'm self-employed (Yay, flexibility!), so we'll meet for lunch at our favorite coffee shop for lunch every few weeks. Paninis and coffee and an hour to talk without our kids listening/interrupting. Win.
2. Go skiing. We have seasons passes at our local ski hill and will occasionally ski during school hours. We get to be active and have time on the chair lift and at lunch to chat. Purchasing day passes can add up, but Costco often sells tickets at a discounted rate.
3. Snow shoe/walk/run/hike. We bought snowshoes for the family last year, and sometimes my husband and I will head out without the kids to get some exercise and spend time together, while enjoying nature. The same goes for walking and hiking. I'm a runner, and my husband hates running, but will join me sometimes to get some cardio along with some alone time with me.
4. Go out for coffee. Take some time on a Saturday (or other common day off) to go out for a cup of coffee (or three) to connect with each other. Better yet, find a coffee house that has live music and add to the experience.
5. Child swap. We're lucky enough to have a child who is of the babysitting age, but before that we would plan a child swap with some friends. We'd have their kids over so they could go out without the cost of a babysitter, and they'd return the favour.
6. Make a later dinner. If you have younger kids, complete their night-time ritual and put them to bed. Then, sit down for a quiet dinner with your significant other. We'll sometimes order good (and cheap) food from our local pub to enjoy at home, just the two of us.
7. Go bowling. We went bowling this past summer and I was reminded how much fun it is. Also, a little healthy competition makes for some funny moments as you tease each other.
8. Mini golf. While sitting down to write this, my husband reminded me how we used to go to mini golf when we were first married. We plan on going again once all of the snow is gone, gone, gone. There are even glo-in-the-dark putting ranges.
9. Play pool. We had a date night last year that saw our dinner finished early and no need for us to rush home. He suggested stopping at the pub to play some pool. Neither of us had played pool since before we were married (15 years ago), and we couldn't stop laughing at how horribly we both were playing.
10. Rent paddle boards or a canoe (Or skating in colder climates) We live in an area with many lakes, and many options to get on them in the summer. Paddle boarding is fun, a great workout, and pretty hilarious when the wake of a boat tips you over. (Obviously a warm weather option; if it's cold where you are, try skating.)
11. Go on a Zipline. I'll admit that I've yet to try it, but thinking you're going to die and then surviving will give you both a greater appreciation for each other.
12. Take a class together. Before we had kids, my husband and I took a ballroom dancing class. He has two left feet, but it was fun to learn a new skill (ish). We signed up with our friends and it was a fun night out. If dancing isn't your thing, take a pottery class, or an art class, or a cooking class. There are so many options out there that you're sure to find something you will both enjoy.
13. Go to an indoor amusement park. Race against each other in the Go Carts, and play some games together. We have a blast whether we go with or without our kids. Get coupons online or search for admission deals to get cost low, and pack your own food if possible.
14. Have a picnic. This may seem cliche, but we love it. Pack some food and wine and park yourself in a nice spot. We'll sit down by the lake and enjoy some quiet time together and even catch a sunset sometimes. Perfect. If it's cold or snowy where you are, turn your livingroom into a park at dusk.
15. Go on a wine tour. We live in wine country, and we'll spend an afternoon touring our local wineries. Tastings are usually free if you purchase a bottle of wine. In the summer months many will have live bands playing as well. Sit in the sun with a glass of wine, enjoying the view and the ambiance, while sharing it all with your best friend.