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Linda Chambers

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Why NOT to buy major equipment from BIg Box Stores

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, May 23, 2022 @ 03:29 PM

There are a number of reasons you should not be buying major equipment for your pressure washing business from a Big Box store; Home Depot, Lowes, or Wal-mart. 

1. Most of this equipment is foreign, European or China made. These will have Metric measurements for their fittings so they will not attach to US (imperial) measurement hoses and other equipment unless you get and use adaptors. The more attachments you have the more chance for pressure loss with leaking.

2. The initial price will be cheaper because it is foreign made using cheaper labor, but you will have trouble finding and getting replacement parts. The Big Box stores only sell new units not parts.

3. Inferior materials. With some equipment parts like pumps found on residential pressure washers, they can be made from cast aluminum, not harder metals so they can easily warp from the heat of heavy use. 

4.Hard to find and get parts. Since parts must be source overseas many things like pumps do not have repair kits available, you would have to buy an entire new pump to fix an issue. Or if you can order parts there will be a long time factor to get them here to the US, especially these days.

5. Harder to find shops to work on this equipment. Again because they are foreign made, even when you can find parts, repairs can be difficult with no readily available support documentation, no breakdown drawings, etc.

The alure of a cheap price may be appealing at first, but the first time you have an employee drop a surface cleaner off a curb and bend a bar, how great is that $250 price over the similar US $450-$600 unit? You now have either wasted that money and are loosing business or until if and when you can get it repaired. There is a big reason the Big Box stores sell these cheaper units, they consider them consumer disposable units. This equipment is not for the commercial business contractor. There is wisdom in the old adage "Buy the best you can once, instead of cheap over and over."

 

How to deal with increasing prices.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Feb 08, 2022 @ 12:20 PM

Rising CostsPrice Increase Ahead

Everyone is aware that over the last two years with the Pandemic the cost of everything has gone up. And the costs to the small business pressure washer is no different. The cost for fuel, chemicals, parts, supplies, repairs, new equipment have all gone up. So how do you make sure that what you are charging is fair to you so you can stay in business? And what can you do when the customer doesn’t want to hear that you are raising your service prices too? You need to first examine your current costs, figure in more increases that are still coming down the pike, have monthly percentage increases already in place, and then have a plan to explain your prices to your customers. No one likes to pay more for something then they use to, but if you have not increased your prices at all in the last two years your profit margin may have decreased by 75%.

Do a complete cost analysis of what it costs today to run your business for a day, a week an entire month. Every job price must cover all your costs. Not just the cost of the soap, water and gas to get you there but also some of the cost to purchase equipment, operate and maintain it, along with all your bookkeeping and other costs it takes to get and process the job. Every business needs to know its basic hourly overhead for a whole month even if you do not do a single bit of work that month. You need to know your fixed expenses: rent, insurance, taxes, labor, phone, for your base cost and then you can figure your flexible costs that change with the work: chemicals, supplies, fuel. Calculate what you need to make an hour to earn enough to pay your bills, make your profit, and pay yourself.

Know the difference between markup and margin. Markup is based on your costs and Margin is based on the price. If you price a service with a 20% mark up on the cost of the products you use for the job and then offer your customer even a 10% discount on the total service you may end up with not making the margin you need to make for that work.

You do not have to use the same margin for every type of work. No one says you must make the same % of profit for everything you do. You may need to decrease the margin on less time-consuming work, and increase the margin on the infrequent or costlier jobs. You can afford a smaller margin on the higher sales volume of the quicker jobs. Say the fast concrete driveway cleaning at the front of a house vs. a time consuming complete strip, stain and reseal job for a 3000 square foot deck at the back.

Now that you know your costs and what you need to make for each job how do you break the news to the customer?

Best is just to explain to them why. Make it clear that you're not raising the prices just to make more money but to maintain the quality of your service and to match higher operating costs. You should explain what caused the price increase. For instance, as some raw materials become increasingly scarce and expensive, due to the supply chain issues, companies like your chemical manufacture that utilize these materials are forced to increase the prices for products that use them. You do not want to buy less expensive inferior chemicals because you want your customers to be happy with the results and to maintain your quality of service. Laying that out to customers will prove your willingness to be transparent. Show them in writing, in percentages only, how much your costs have increased. They do not need to know the 5-gallon pail of chemical cost you $95 and that the price use to be $50 but that the cost has increased 90%. That gas use to run $2.50 / gal now it is $3.20, an increase of 35%. Then when you tell them you are having to increase their job price by 30%, to cover these cost increases, it feels better to the customer.

If you have repeat customers that have scheduled work that are not already grandfathered into a price with a contract, contact them as soon as possible with the news of your increases. Yes you may lose a few customers that are sensitive to any price change but most when they start shopping around will find out that everyone has had to raise prices and that what you are asking is reasonable. You might also explain that doing a job now may in fact save them money by locking in today’s price that may have to be higher next month.

If you still have long time clients that are pushing back to the price increase you might want to throw in a value-added service. DO NOT give a Discount. Once you give a discount, that discount price is the one they will remember, not the increased price and they will want that same lower amount again. With a one-time value-added service, you show them you appreciate their business, without compromising yours or your new prices. Things like a free outdoor furniture cleaning with their patio or deck cleaning, a free 50 feet of sidewalk cleaned with their driveway cleaning, an air-conditioner or heat pump cleaning with their house wash, etc. Plus with discounts it takes much more work to make up that lose. Remember: a discount offered to a customer is not a discount on the full price. It’s a discount on your profit.

Also this is a good time to remind them of your referral program where they can earn money back through gift cards, or whatever your incentive is. Reducing their cost of the current service you are providing.

Here is to a very good new year and one we wish will be profitable, too.

Tags: New Pricing, pricing

Switching from Multi-tasking to Batch tasking.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Dec 01, 2020 @ 11:01 AM

Gone is the day of management gurus telling us to try and save time at work by multi-tasking. This one time fad has been proven to not only not work well but in fact slows your productivity down.

When you try to multi-task your brain must shift between lots of different activities constantly moving between the left and right side of your brain loosing focus. It has now been proven that multi-tasking slows a normal persons IQ down by around 10%, the same as if they were overly tired or were legally drunk.

Batch tasking is where you take similar tasks, group them together, set a block of time dedicated to the tasks and focus on doing them all at once.

Things like:

  • Making phone calls, business or personal
  • Reading e-mails
  • Answering e-mails not at the same time as when reading them
  • Setting appointments
  • Research. Like doing estimates calculating cleaning square footage.
  • Writing quotes
  • Submitting quotes
  • Writing blog posts
  • Scheduling social media posts with a program like Hootsuite
  • Making videos
  • Writing your monthly customer thank you cards

When you limit distractions even for small amounts of time, like 15 minutes, to focus on one set of similar tasks your brain can work at top capacity.

business-man-working-on-computer-in-office

If you can not set up the same amount of time each day that is ok. You might only need to pick just one day a week and do as much as possible in pre-set time. There maybe tasks you only have to do once or twice a month. Whatever you need to do is fine, there is no right or wrong.

Here is my normal routine with time set for bulk tasks daily, weekly and monthly.

7:30-8:00 Get to my desk, look over my to do list for the day. Open all computer programs I might need for the day, this alone can take 10-15 minutes in two different web browsers on two separate screens. Opening them all now saves time later when I may need one.

8:00-8:30 Help answer phones and with any first customers in the show room. Glance over my e-mails for new orders or anything pressing that I need to make a task on my today to do list, flag e-mails that I need to reply to later.

8:30-9:00 If I have new e-mail or online orders I fill out an order sheet for each one. I will fill as many orders as I can later in one block of time instead of stopping to fill each one or as each new one comes in.

If no new orders, check Facebook, See if I have any direct messages or was mentioned in any posts that I need to address. Check the daily birthdays and say Happy Birthday. Some days this small task can be moved until noon or later if the store is busy or with phone calls.

9:00-10:00 This is my first block of time where I can focus on what ever is a top priority on my daily to do list. Today it was to finish this blog post I started yesterday. Many days it is to enter into Salesforce any new contacts from new orders or that I spoke with the day before. Updates to the websites, Research and searching for useable photos or taking photos and uploading them.

10:00-11:00 Revisit my e-mails. Delete any junk that got through, move any to other folders that did not go to one directly. Answer any e-mail that will only take a few minutes, ex: send out requested data sheets or SDS's, contact a new customer after their order has arrived to ask if they have any questions. If time work on my to do list or anything as it comes. Once every few weeks this is also the time I will run to Costco for office restock.

11:00-12:00 this is when I start to batch process morning orders, enter them in the computer, pack them, print shipping labels etc. If nothing to ship out, I restock the showroom with product or just work on my to do list. Always have general tasks you can do if your to do list was short, I may do research for future blog posts. Read industry magazines check out other company websites.

12:00-1:00 recheck e-mails and this is when I answer any I had flagged from earlier in the day that will require a longer amount of time. Finish up shipments if an hour wasn't enough. This is also when I can go pick up any soap stock that is critical to ship out.

1:00-3:00 This is my largest amount of variable time. Some days I have scheduled online webinars to listen to. If it is the few days before the 8th of the month I will be working on our monthly video submission. On a Monday or Tuesday I am checking and contacting any new customers out of Salesforce who have had time to get and try our products from the one to two weeks prior to make sure things are fine. With these follow up phone calls or emails is when we ask for reviews and testimonials. If it is near the end of the month I am checking for any open accounts for payment or scheduling posts in Hootsuite for the next few weeks or month. And at some time in these 2 hours I catch my lunch.

This is when my little timers come in handy. I have a set of 10, 15 and 30 minute sand timers. These help me stay focused and not let time get away from me like when I am out on Pinterest looking for new pins. If I did not use a 10 or 15 minute timer, those few set aside minutes can turn into an hour!

3:00-4:00 3:00 is our FedEx pick up time so I make sure the pick up sheet is ready and with the outbound boxes. Check Facebook and emails again and continue with my to do list or general tasks, again using the timers as needed.

4:00-5:00 In the last hour of the day is when I may look for and post Pinterest pins as this time is noted as one of the most viewed hours for Pinterest, make my to do list for the next work day. Send out any last e-mails to customers that requested contact. This is also when I restock any large orders of soap or other product that has been delivered during the afternoon. Print out batches of SDS's to replace ones I have handed out or shipped. If it is the last work day before the new month I try to go ahead and change out the cover page on all three of our Facebook pages. If not I do it first thing on the first of the month.

And of course at any time during the day I may stop to answer phone calls, answer chemical questions for in store customers or checking out customers shopping in the showroom which can break up even the best batch tasking schedule. But if I am in the middle of a set aside time, I may let any phone calls to my desk go to my voice mail to return at the end of the task time.

Having a plan with batch tasks will save you time in the long run. Have fun making yours.

Tags: Business, time management,, Tasks

Be careful choosing Covid cleaning chemicals.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jul 15, 2020 @ 01:17 PM

Right now everyone is looking and wanting products and ways to kill and stop Covid-19, the 

Covid-19

The problem is there are so many companies, equipment and products popping up making claims that they can kill, prevent infection, or give lasting killing action.

So how can you tell what is true or not?

First understand that when Covid came out no cleaner could say 100% for sure their product would kill the virus.

Products that already could claim they killed Human Corona virus most likely would also kill Covid-19 following the same directions so that is what companies where using and saying it would but tests had not been conducted yet.

In a press release on 7/7/20 the Federal government stated “Currently, EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting effectiveness are limited to those that control odor-causing bacteria on hard, non-porous surfaces. There are no EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting disinfection. The benefit of a longer-lasting antimicrobial product is the reduced need to clean and disinfect a surface or object every time after someone new touches it.”

These products included “Clorox” bleach, Lysol and others like the Victoria Bay Food Service Sanitizer that GCE carries 1 gallon Food Service Sanitizer and 5 gal Food Service Sanitizer So if you have or can get currently EPA certified products that can control odor-causing bacteria on hard, non-porous surfaces you are good.

Many companies like Clorox and Procter and Gamble are racing to conduct tests on current and new products to have products that will give and can guarantee longer disinfection.

The issue currently is that you can apply by spray, mist, fog etc. chemicals that after a specific dwell time, usually 10-30 minutes, will kill Covid on that surface. But as soon as that surface is exposed to Covid again it will need to be cleaned again. That is why the CDC is saying that frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned multiple times a day.

Please be careful when using claims in your advertising of when speaking to clients to be giving correct information.

 

Be well and stay safe.

Tags: GCE, Covid-19, disinfecting chemicals

Winter months are the time to restock and reevaluate.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 @ 09:25 AM

Many in the cleaning industry are either taking time off or have slowed way down so there is more time to get things done that can be overlooked during the busier times of your year. Here is a list of things you might want to look at during these slow Winter months.

  • Check all your PPE and make sure you have enough, including having backups. Out on a job when something breaks is not the time to realize you do not have another and may not be able to get a replacement right away.
  • That all PPE are in working order, ordering these items that you need while companies have sufficient inventory. Later in the year there may be shortages and you are not able to get an item right away or have to pay more for it where you can get it to have it.
  • Check and restock your first aid kits, spill kits, parts box for your equipment including tools and needed supplies. Again out on a job is not the time to have a hose bust and have to stop work to go get one.
  • Work on your website, check on your links to be sure they are working, read each page to be sure that there are no changes you need to make. Add more content. Content is what drives people to your site, update and add often with proper tags.
  • Check your website analytics to see where visitors are coming from, think about ways to improve and increase that traffic. Knowing that you are not getting the most traffic from the area you are spending the most on can allow you to reallocate time and funds.
  • Work on all your social media content and connections, you might add a new stream if you are not already using all of the ones your customers are. Never tried Pinterest or LinkedIn, now may be time to try one.
  • Go over last years and set up this year’s budget; equipment, advertising, supplies and mandatory expenses. Spending too much on equipment repairs, maybe time to invest in new or increase spending on preventative maintenance, like oil changes.
  • Check all monthly expenses to see where you might be able to save; insurance, utilities including phones, etc. Do not just accept yearly price increases to your expenses, price shop each year.
  • Make an advertising calendar not just for the expenditures but for what and when you want to make social media posts. Set up and use a program like Hootsuite to do this.
  • Go over or start a referral program. Using current customers to find new ones can save you up to 75% of the cost of new customer acquisitions by other means.
Let us know in the comments what besides these we listed that you do in the slower months to make your business more productive during the rest of the year.

Tags: Business, Tips, Tasks

Dyn-O-Coil - mineral scale prevention

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 @ 10:00 AM

Dyn-O-Coil is a dynamic mineral scale preventer and removal system. Dyn-O-Coil's ingredients modify the normal crystal structure of mineral hardness so that scale build up never forms inside the pump, on coils, in valves, hoses, wands or nozzles of your equipment. It will not harm any machine part including seals and packing.

mineraldepositinpump-resized-600

If you have to use hard water when you are washing then using Dyn-O-Coil occasionally is insurance for your equipment.

Use Dyn-O-Coil starting at 1/2 ounce per gallon of soap mix. Dyn-O-Coil will also remove pre-existing scale with each use, dissolving it over time. Dyn-O-Coil is non hazardous, biodegradable, easy to use. Works while you work.

For Preventive Use: Premix 1 quart (32 oz.) into 54.75 gallons of water in a 55 gallon drum and inject through machine as normal.

For Pre-existing Scale Use: Premix 1 gallon into 54 gallons of water in a 55 gallon drum. Then use water as normal.

For Soap Treatment: Premix 1 pint (16 oz.) per 55 gallons of soap or 1/2 oz. per gallon.

You can use Dyn-O-Coil in both the soap and the water at the same time without issue and for better results.

If scale buildup is already sever consider using Super Coil Descaler before starting a Dyn-O-Coil prevention plan.

Dyn-O-Coil 1 gallon $15.00

Dyn-O-Coil 5 gallon $65.00

 

Tags: Dyn-O-Coil, GCE

Non-Acid Coil Cleaner

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 @ 12:04 PM

Product 11161. Non-Acid Coil Cleaner has been designed to be a “Green” safe for the environment product and has been tested to clean aluminum air conditioner, evaporator and condenser coils without damage when used as directed.

 

DirtyCondenserofHVAC

 

Cleaning air conditioners and HVAC heat pumps are a great add on service for pressure washers who are already cleaning houses, gutters, and roofs or for contractors like painters, window washers and landscapers.

Because you are already at a customers home doing a service why not try to increase your sale by also offer to help maintain their air and heating units by coil cleaning?

This product is used at a normal rate of 1:4 parts chemical to water, no less than 1:40. A gallon is currently $12 a gallon that will make at least 5 gallons of RTU product. Most units will only require about a gallon and if you create foam using a foam gun or add a foaming agent that allows the product to hang onto the coils longer you can use even less.

GCE also sells both foaming guns and a liquid foaming agent.

Adding this service for even just $50 will make you a nice added profit for 15 minutes of your time. You can use it as a free offer, for referrals or as a free thank you bonus.

Non-Acid Coil Cleaner, one gallon $12.00

Non-Acid Coil Cleaner, five gallon $48.00

 

Tags: non acid coil cleaner, GCE

Contractor classes for 2019

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 03, 2019 @ 10:37 AM

This year GCE is planning to hold educational training classes for our customers and other contractors at our Norcross, GA location.

Here is the tentative list of classes. Dates TBA.

Jan - Making a Business Plan, Budgeting and Pricing.                   Scheduled for Friday Jan 18th

Feb - Pressure Washing 101/ Troubleshooting Equipment.

Mar - Ready Seal - How to use class and hands on demo.

Apr - Seal n Lock - How to use class and demo.

May - How to choose chemicals for cleaning and understanding pH.

Jun - Social Media Marketing; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Jul - Lift Training - by Sunbelt (this will be a paid class with certification).

Aug - EaCo Chem - Class and demo covering their range of products (repeat of Nov 2018)

Sep - How to set up OSHA training for your business.

Oct - OSHA training class - GHS labels and SDS's.

Nov - Maintenance repairs and winterizing equipment.

Dec - Chemical Safety, DIY Spill Kits.

In our new location we have a very nice conference room to hold these meetings that can comfortably hold around 24.

 ClassRoom

Most of these will be free classes, some we may ask for a small deposit to help us guarantee attendees that sign up show up especially for classes with out of town speakers. The deposit amount would be given back as in store credit for use with the event or later on.

Most classes will only take up a morning of time usually on a Friday so we are not interfering in the busy time of a contractors cleaning weekend. And having classes early in the mornings still frees up the rest of the day for work.

The class we would like to have for Lift Training would have to be a prepaid class but we would be getting a discount from Sunbelt for less than if you took the class direct from them. This class will also have to be an all day class as there are both classroom work as well as the hands on training on the lifts themselves and a completion card from Sunbelt that would be given for taking the class. This card also grants you rental discounts with Sunbelt.

We will ask that contractors sign up 2-3 weeks ahead of time and classes may be canceled if not enough sign up, so if you are interested in a class at all please sign up. We will put out sign up forms online from our Facebook pages, posted on other places online and have a sheet in our office.

If you are interested in a topic not listed please let us know and if one is not proving popular we may substitute a suggested one instead. These classes are for the benefit of our contractor customers so let us know what you want to learn about in this coming year.

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: business plan, training, Georgia Chemical Equipment, GCE, Contractor Class

Cash Flow Tips for your Small Business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Apr 06, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

Cash flow is a big part of any business. If your customers are not paying you in a timely manner then you will have a hard time paying your vendors for the supplies you need to do business, to support the infrastructure to run your day to day operations, and enough left to support you and your family.

CashFlow

Here are some tips on how to improve your businesses cash flow.

Improve your Accounts Receivables

Asking for payment for work you have done is the first step in getting paid and if you let this drag along then so will your cash flow.

  • Invoice as soon as work is completed and make it trackable so you can easily follow up until paid.
  • If possible have invoices due immediately upon completion of work.
  • If work will be done over a long time period get partial payment up front.
  • Have an easy way for customers to pay; ex: Accept online credit card payments.
  • If a contract customer is on terms, shorten them as much as possible; ex: NET 10 or NET 15 instead of NET 30, or NET 30 instead of NET 60.
  • Have late payment interest terms clearly listed on the invoice that you know can be enforced in your state. Then be sure to follow through and use them.

Extend your Accounts Payable

Just as you want to be paid quickly so do your vendors, but see if you can work with them to see how far out you can hold out on payments or pay other ways.

  • Can you purchase a larger amount of product for longer and better terms?
  • Can you set up equal guaranteed monthly payments to vendors you order from frequently? This can help you with budgeting and spreading out payments.
  • Ask if you can get longer terms with a vendor as your relationship time with them increases. Ex: NET 45 or 60 instead of NET 30 after 3 or 5 years.
  • Use lines of credit or credit cards to extend time to pay for items.
  • Consider bartering services for products.

Know your Breakeven Point

This is the amount you need to make each day, week or month to meet your basic business needs. Sales above this will be adding to your profit margin.

You need to first add up all the expenses it takes to be in business even if you did not do a day of work; rent, utilities, insurance, equipment costs. This is your breakeven point. Then you can figure what your working costs are; labor, fuel, chemicals, other supplies. These costs are added to your breakeven costs to arrive at your daily, weekly or monthly costs to subtract from your sales to get to your profits. Have a plan in place on how to distribute your profits.

Know what you are Spending

This is an obvious statement but you would be surprised how much money is spent that owners have no idea where it went.

  • Set up a budget. Be sure to add in any new line items as they come up. Do not have a lot of uncategorized miscellaneous items.
  • Track every penny. Keep every receipt, which is easier if you have a set place that they all go and a set time each day to enter them.
  • Have a computer program or system to enter and track everything.
  • Try to not use cash, check and card purchases are easier to track.
  • Do not intermingle personal with business purchases. If you need to pay for items for both at one store do it separately.

Be Mindful when Spending and Paying

There are ways to help you from wasting money you are working hard to make.

  • Before buying an item make sure it is something that is really needed. Ex: A must have supply for a job already booked vs. something nice to have.
  • Be sure to take advantage of any prepay discount from vendors, to pay off credit cards before their interest date, etc.
  • Take advantage of interest or payment discounts by paying with auto pay from your business account.
  • Be sure to know about and use any other discounts your vendors offer. Ex: Industry Organization discount, Military discount, volume discount, etc.
  • Set up auto drafts or payments for recurring bills to not incur late fees or penalties.
  • Do not tie up your money in unneeded or seldom used inventory.

Have a Cash Reserve

You never know when an emergency or unforeseen expense will come up. If you start putting a little away each month you can be better prepared and not have to use other high interest cash like with lines of credit or credit cards.

  • Set up a separate account just for these funds so it not as easy to draw on them for just any reason.
  • Have a goal set for your fund. Start with what it would take to pay for a whole month of bills, then extend that to 3 months then 6 months, etc.
  • Put a set amount or % of your profits aside each pay period until you have reached your goal amount. Once reached extend the goal or earmark it for a new project.

Plan ahead

Have a business plan in mind for growth and work toward making it happen.

  • Plan for equipment replacement. Everything has a work life and if you have saved up for it over time you won't have to use credit and pay interest for part or all of it the next time.
  • Plan for new or upgraded equipment as well. Want to have more than one crew working for you next year then start savings for that new rig now.
  • Put money that you know is not really yours, like for taxes, aside in a separate account so that it will be there when the quarterly taxes come due.

Small business owners need to understand that most fail due to the lack or misuse of money. So if you follow these suggestions we have covered you should have a better chance than most to succeed.

Tags: business plan, cash flow

So you are getting a tax refund, now what?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

If you are like most people when you get a tax refund you want to go treat yourself with these new found gains; go on vacation, eat out, buy new clothes or toys, etc.

But you need to treat them like what they really are, delayed income. Hopefully you don't blow each paycheck on just fun things that leaves you with nothing to show for it, so what really is the best way to spend a tax refund?

refundcoming

1. Treat it as a normal paycheck. Hopefully you have a system in place on how you spend your work income so do exactly the same thing.

2. If you do not already have a rainy day or emergency fund open it now with all this money into a separate account you do not plan on accessing except in an emergency.

3. Use it to pay on or off your highest interest bill, reducing your monthly expenses.

4. Invest in yourself. Pay for a certification class, go to a business convention, pay for your CDL license. Anything that will increase your work value.

5. Add it to a down payment you are building for a house. The higher your down payment the lower the loan amount and lowers future monthly mortgage payments.

6. Pay for needed vehicle or home repairs. Things that are truly needed not just a cosmetic home improvement.

7. Invest in your retirement. Pay into or open an IRA.

8. Invest in your children's future, pay into or open a college savings account.

9. Invest in your business. Buy new equipment, in full, that will improve your work or expand your ability to do new jobs. Pay off any loans you have now to reduce expenses.

10. Spend a small amount for fun, ex: $100 for a fun night out for the family.

This is what my husband and I have done with our tax refund for years no matter if it is less than a few hundred dollars or thousands. We have a 20/20/20/20/10/10 plan;

20% to catch up on any overdue bill or prepay any large upcoming one, like quarterly car or house insurance.

20% into savings.

20% to pay on highest interest credit card.

20% to pay for vehicle maintenance, new tires, brakes etc.

10% tithe to the church.

10% for fun.

The main thing is that you try to not have to pay extra at tax time. It is really best to calculate your payroll taxes so that you can bring home as much as possible with each paycheck instead of deferring that money into a large tax refund that you will just have to pay more taxes on again next year.

Tags: Taxes, business plan, tax refund

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