Working From Home 101

 

Contrary to popular belief—and as many of you are now finding out—working from home is not for the faint of heart. It takes discipline AND flexibility. And the same is likely true even if you’re not working right now. I hope some of these tips may be helpful to you.

 

Wear what makes you feel good. Listen, I’m sure some of you enjoy the freedom of working in your sweats or pajamas, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you are someone who feels better when you get dressed, then you should do it. It shouldn’t matter if you are going to see other people throughout the day or not, if you feel better with hair combed and makeup on, then that’s what you should do. Remember, your mental health is important too, so do what makes you feel good even if you feel silly doing it.

 

You do NOT have to be at your desk from 9-5. When working from home, it’s easy to think that you have to be chained to your desk. If someone calls and you’re not there, you wonder if they will believe you are working. But even in an office setting, you are not at your desk all day. You go to meetings, out to lunch, to get a drink of water, and more without worrying that people won’t think you’re working hard enough. Just remember, voicemails and can be returned later.

 

Set a schedule, but be flexible. You’re still working, so it’s very useful to have a schedule of when you will be working—and a set spot in the house—just like when you went to the office (in fact, routine is helpful for everyone at times like this). Of course, in these days and times, and for those of us with kids “distance learning,” schedules get interrupted. The great thing about working from home, however, is that people don’t necessarily care WHEN the work is getting done as long as it IS getting done on time. So, if you have to comfort a child now and then work tonight, that may be okay.

 

Take a break. Remember that sometimes even when you’re the busiest or the most overwhelmed and think you can’t afford to take a break, that’s when you need one the most. And often, if you take that break, watch that show, take a nap, you will actually be more productive when you sit back down. Even calling a friend or walking the dog can give you that reprieve and remind you that there are others like us out there. When in doubt, just stand up and stretch or walk around for a few minutes (remember sitting is the new smoking).

 

Flexibility is a double-edged sword. It’s great that you can do your work remotely and that you can be there for the kids/parents/loved ones, but sometimes work and home life can blur together too much, hampering both. Your kids think you always work and don’t actually enjoy being with them, and you feel unproductive or like you’re failing at both. Remember to try to find the balance between being flexible and too flexible. This may mean you don’t work past a certain hour, or you stop checking emails at a set time. You may need to take a day off or put your computer down sometimes. Remember that you’re doing this for your loved ones and they need you healthy and sane.

 

Change the scenery once in a while. Okay, this one is tougher given the social distancing, but it’s not impossible. Even if running out for coffee or lunch is not an option today, even working on the patio or on the couch, rather than your regular work spot can change your attitude from time to time.

 

Try not to sweat the small stuff. When working from home, the occasional dog barking or child interrupting is bound to happen. And especially now, most people will not think twice about these things as it’s happening to them as well. So, try not to stress about it too much.

 

Cut yourself some slack. This can be a tough transition even in the best of times—especially if the bulk of family responsibilities end up falling on you. But try to be grateful that we live in a time when so many of us CAN work from home. And if you’re not working, try to take some joy in being with your family, taking classes online, getting the chance to Marie Kondo your home, or whatever you can do that helps feed your soul a bit.

 

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you simplify your life and make confident decisions during even the most stressful of life’s transitions. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.

Four Ways to Make a Decision When You Are in Transition

It’s natural to want to help people you care about—especially when they’re going through a hard time. Your friends and family are no different. When they see you going through a transition, they will naturally try to help. But it can be challenging enough to navigate these types of situations without all the different voices in your head. Here are a few ideas to help you make the best decisions for you.

 

  1. Keep perspective

Your friends mean well and want to be helpful. However, what worked for them in a given situation may not be what will work best for you. Remember that you can listen to the advice, but you do not need to take it. Above all, trust your instincts.

 

  1. Make a list

Sometimes it’s helpful to put the options down in black and white. Make a list of:

 

  • Your income (salary, Social Security, alimony, interest and other income you receive on a regular basis)
  • What you own (assets like your home, art, jewelry, cars)
  • What you owe (liabilities like your mortgage, debt payments, utilities and more)
  • The potential options you have
  • The pros and cons of each course of action

 

Often simply seeing things in black and white will help make it clarify the right course of action for you.

 

  1. Use the 10, 10, 10 rule

Another idea is to make consider each option from the perspective of the future using the 10, 10, 10 rule—which simply has you consider how you might feel about each option in 10 weeks, 10 months and 10 years. Consider that in 10 days you may still be wondering if you made the right decision, or may still be pinched by the financial repercussions, but what about further down the line? Looking at each time frame, ask yourself:

  • What difference will this decision have made in your life?
  • Will the money matter anymore (if that’s part of the issue)?
  • Would you even remember this decision?
  • If you don’t do it, would you wish you had?
  • If you do it, will you be wondering why you were ever stressed about it?

 

  1. Consult a professional

Sometimes the best idea is to get the advice of an objective professional that you trust. While friends and family are helpful, their advice may be driven by emotions. Your trusted advisors can help you see things more objectively and may have some potential solutions you may not even be aware of.

 

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you to make informed, thoughtful decisions through even the most stressful of life’s transitions.

 

Good Finance Starts at Home

 

Good Finance Starts at Home 

Determining how to talk to your kids about money and values can be stressful. But the truth is that there’s never been a better time to teach your kids about money, the importance of savings and the difference between needs and wants. Consider that, even during a global pandemic, kids are likely to ask for things they don’t need, like new toys or clothes, takeout food and more. And while buying some of these things may make it easier to have them home for an extended period (games, puzzles and crafts anyone?), it’s a good time to try to get them to understand the difference between wants and needs. 

Wants vs. needs

There truly isn’t a person on earth who won’t be affected by this virus from a personal, economic or other basis. Explain to your kids that you need to pay for your basic needs first. And these are:

  • Shelter
  • Utilities
  • Food

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t get them clothes or candy or whatever they ask for, it’s simply a way for them to start to understand that you have choices and responsibilities. And that your needs come first before paying for wants.

 Providing an allowance

Another way to help your kids understand the value of money is to give them an allowance. Whether or not you tie the allowance to chores or simply give it as a matter of course, it can be a really good tool. 

  1. Determine how much you are comfortable giving them each week.
  2. Explain to them what their allowance is meant to pay for—snacks, hanging out with friends, toys and shoes they want, but don’t need, etc.
  3. If you want to earmark part of the money for savings or charity, let them know that up front and consider letting them select the charity, as it will be more meaningful to them then.
  4. The next time they ask for something, have them calculate how many weeks it will take them to save for it. This helps them:
    1. Understand just how expensive it really is
    2. gain math and budgeting skills
    3. make better decisions about what is and isn’t worth the money 

You’ll invariably discovery that they’re far more willing to spend your money than they are to spend their money. But you don’t need to worry that they will spend it all. While some might, others are quite excited to see their savings grow (a friend of mine has one who  saves ALL his spending money so he can always have more than his brothers).

When in doubt

It can be just as easy for kids to get overwhelmed about money decisions as it is for adults. One idea to reduce stress is to tell them to think about it from the perspective of the future using the 10, 10, 10 rule, imagining how they will feel about this decision in 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 weeks (you can do weeks, months or years too). While a child may be more upset in 10 minutes about not getting that ice cream, for example, will they even remember it in 10 days? Probably not. Looking at each time frame, ask them:

  • Will the money matter anymore?
  • Would you even remember this decision?
  • If you didn’t do it, would you wish you had made that choice?
  • If you did do it, will you be wondering why you were ever stressed about it?  

 

Gasber Financial is happy to help you teach your kids about savings, investing, responsible use of credit, and more.

 

 

How to Avoid Being Scammed pt 3

How to Avoid Being Scammed a Guide for Women pt 3 

As we’ve discussed, scams are not limited to robocalls and emails. Scammers can pose as romantic partners, as IRS agents and even as investment opportunities. 

A taxing situation

A growing type of scam involves your identity and your taxes. Each year, the IRS is reporting an increased number of cases where someone steals an identity and then files a fraudulent tax return. Why would they do this? In order to claim a “refund,” which they request to be deposited onto a debit card. 

The government is pretty good at spotting this, but it can mess with your taxes and cause other challenges as well. And the only way to truly protect yourself is to keep as much of your personal information, passwords, and other information private as possible. 

There are other tax scams where the “IRS” calls you and tells you that you owe them money and if you do not pay it immediately, you will go to jail. But the IRS does not contact people in this way. 

Stressful times call for scams

Tax time isn’t the only stressful time of year that can lead to scams. In fact, there are a growing number of scams targeted around global crises. 

For example, currently there are some “pump and dump” scams related to the corona virus. Here’s how they may work:

  1. The scammers pick a small or very small stock, that may or may not be a healthcare company, and they buy a lot of shares while the price is extremely low.
  2. They begin circulating rumors that this company has a “cure” for the virus and that it’s just a matter of time before it’s made available. This information goes “viral” for lack of a better word.
    1. They choose small companies because less information is publicly known about them and that can make it hard to determine whether or not rumors are true.
  3. Investors buy the stock in order to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and drive the stock price up.
  4. The scammers dump their shares at the increased price before the public can realize that the information isn’t true.
  5. Investors often lose money as the stock drops back to its original value or below. 

Helpful tips

When it comes to the IRS, remember that they will never:

  • Initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information
  • Call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests
  • Call, email or text to request taxpayers’ Identity Protection PINs* 

Additionally, you should never give your birthdate AND place of birth over the phone, text or email. This is 98% of what scammers need to steal your identity. 

And when it comes to investment opportunities, remember that Gasber Financial is here to help you analyze—and get advice on—any investment opportunity you may be considering.

 

 

How to Avoid Being Scammed pt 2

How to Avoid Being Scammed  a Guide for Women pt 2

As we discussed in the previous installment, criminals are endlessly inventing new ways to part you from your money. And they do not discriminate based on age, gender or social status. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, was recently scammed. And I personally know of a Wall Street legend who was also recently scammed. 

Scammers are cunning and they have ruthlessly developed formulas for scamming because they work. 

The random call scam

Scammers use random calls because they work. They can spoof the number of the FBI, IRS, your local police station and others. Perhaps you answer and they tell you that your child or grandchild was in an accident or committed a crime (or they claim to be that child). They tell you that you need to send money for bail or for the hospital. They may know your child’s name, their girlfriend and a lot of other information because they can find it on your social media. And this type of thing happens every single day. 

There was a recent story in the Wall Street Journal about a nurse who was scammed out of $340,000. This is basically what happened.

  • She received a call from someone identifying himself as an “FBI” agent.
  • He told her that her identity had been stolen and used to commit crimes. He told her that if she didn’t do exactly as he said, files would be charged against her and she would go to jail.
  • He told her to leave work and go to a hotel. He told her to send him her receipts for the hotel and food, as they would be reimbursed by the government.
  • He kept her on the phone for hours at a time and told her if she let her family or friends know what was going on, she might be guilty of another crime.
  • He said she needed to move her assets to “FBI” accounts in order to protect them from the identity thieves.
  • Over the course of a few days, she transferred more than $340,000 from her accounts to the “agent.” 

In general, these types of scams play upon your fears and make you afraid not to comply. And while banks, especially those holding retirement accounts, typically ask a number of questions to try to determine if something fraudulent is going on, these callers know how to coach you through answering those questions.  

In another recent scam, a woman received a phone call from someone saying they had her daughter and that if she hung up, the daughter would be killed. The caller kept her on the phone for hours going from bank to bank and sending money, until a few hours later her daughter texted her about something and she realized the caller was a scammer. Of course, by then it was too late. 

The business email scams

In these types of scams, the perpetrators “spoof” an email address that you recognize, so you receive an email that you think is from your boss, another company executive, or some other important person asking you to do something that may or may not be out of the ordinary.

One woman received an email she thought was from her boss asking her to buy gift cards for everyone in the company as Christmas gifts. The email told her to send the gift card numbers and pins to the boss when the task was complete. She did so and the scammers got away with more than $10,000. And the worst part is that her company is saying she’s liable for the loss, as she put it on a corporate card. 

In a similar incident, a Wall Street Legend’s employee received an email he thought was from the boss’s wife asking for a significant wire transfer to an art dealer’s account in order to buy her husband a painting for his upcoming birthday. Naturally, she asked for the information to be kept secret. In this instance, the “wife” actually emailed a few times to say the transfer hadn’t come through and could it be sent again either way, as she had now found a more expensive painting to buy. These scammers got away with more than $300,000. 

Helpful tips

In order to try to avoid falling prey to these and other scams, here are some tips that may be helpful.

  1. Remember that the FBI and police will generally not call you. They will come to your home or place of business.
  2. Do not stay on the phone for an extended amount of time. Ask for a number where you can call the person back and then try to verify if what they are saying is true (call the FBI or your daughter).
  3. Do not underestimate the amount of detailed information scammers may have.
  4. Check to make sure any email with instructions about money is truly coming from the person you think it is from. Double check the address or call them/email them from a new email to be sure it’s legitimate.
  5. Verbally or in person confirm instructions given by a boss, vendor or someone else with regard to money, property or payments. 

Gasber Financial is dedicated to helping you keep your assets safe. You can always call us with any suspicions you may have. In our next installment, we’ll discuss tax and investment scams and tips for avoiding them.