How to turn your hobby into a home business

By Bob Russo

If you had all the money in the world, what would you choose to do for work?

That’s the question we’re supposed to ask ourselves to identify what we’d prefer to do for a living. Maybe your response to that question indicates that you’d like to become a photographer, for example, or that you’d like to make jewelry. Identifying your dream job is surely encouraged; there’s a good chance, however, that you’re not quite ready to quit your job and pursue your hobby full time. Perhaps because you cannot afford to do so.

But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least consider whether the possibility exists that you could make money by turning your hobby into a home business. Sure, you can’t expect that such a business would take off overnight. But who knows? Maybe after a few years, you’ll actually be able to quit your proverbial day job and focus your efforts on making a living while doing something you love.

Before you make a decision, you must ask yourself an important question: Are people willing to pay for what I make?

Prior to launching a home business, you have to be sure that there’s a market for the items you make or the services you offer. Ask your friends how much they’d pay for an item you made, for example. If you are comfortable with their responses, it’s time to ask a stranger how much he or she would pay. Satisfied with that answer? It might be time to begin looking into starting a business on the side.

In order to establish your business, you need to be able to prove that you’re trying to make a profit. If you lose money year-after-year and aren’t turning a profit, the IRS could very well view your business as a hobby, and may limit your deductions as a result (consult your tax advisor for specific information).

Here are some tips to help establish your profit motive:

• Create a business plan that clearly defines the fact that you are indeed trying to make money.
• Run your business like a business. That is, keep records of all your expenses and all of your sales.
• Make decisions to increase profits. After all, the goal of a business is to make money, so make sure your actions work toward that goal.

Turning your hobby into a business might be a fun way for you to bring in some extra cash. After that, who knows? The sky could very well be the limit.

How do I calculate my net worth?

by Patty Gallagher

Do you know how much money you would amass if you paid off all of your debts and sold all of your assets?

That number is referred to as your net worth. While we would all like our net worth numbers to be near those of Warren Buffet ($65.1 billion) and Bill Gates ($79.1 billion), the truth is there is no “magic” number we for which we should strive. Rather, we should aim for a year-over-year improvement upon that number.

Believe it or not, calculating your net worth is relatively easy. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. You will first want to put together a list of all of your assets. This will include things like your checking and savings account balances, the value of your stocks and bond holdings, any property you might own and expensive items like cars, jewelry, boats and valuable art. You can include whatever else you want into that mix, but for all intents and purposes, that list should likely suffice. (In other words, you might not want to include your DVD collection or that old guitar into this calculation.)
  2. Now it is time to figure out how many liabilities you have. Liabilities include any debts you have incurred such as: student loans, mortgages, credit card balances and car loans. Gather all of those numbers in one place and add them up.
  3. Now it’s time to subtract your liabilities from your assets. That difference is your net worth. No matter what the number is—positive, negative or zero—you should simply focus on improving it every year.

Be aware, that it’s not that uncommon to have zero net worth , as some estimates indicate as many as half of the country has zero net worth, meaning their assets equal their debts.

You might even have a negative net worth. After all, you might have just bought a new house and have a large mortgage or may have just graduated college or graduate school and are still carrying hefty student loans. Neither of those scenarios are necessarily bad things. The good news is that improving your net worth doable. Every time you chisel away at your liabilities, your net worth goes up. Similarly, every time you pad your assets, your net worth increases.

Facts About Current American Net Worth

Every quarter, the Federal Reserve calculates the net worth of American households. Most recently, the banking institution pegged that number at $81.764 trillion—the highest it’s ever been. Following the first quarter of 2009, collective American net worth stood at $55.71 trillion, meaning the number has increased by almost 50 percent in just five short years.

There are roughly 115 million households in the United States, which means that on a per household basis, Americans have $301,000 in assets and are free and clear of debt, according to CNN. Of course, those at the top of the proverbial financial food chain skew those numbers. In fact, America’s median net worth is $45,000. So while the country ranks fourth in the world in terms of average net worth, it ranks 19th in the world in terms of median net worth.

Hidden Ways to Save Money Each Month

By Lynda Mason

Today’s difficult economic climate has affected many individual’s finances. And it certainly doesn’t help that the prices of everything—from gasoline (did you know gas costs consumers 5 percent more this year than last year at this time?!) to electricity to food—seem to be increasing.

At The Milford Bank, we understand the realities inherent in today’s economy. We also value each and every one of our customers and want nothing more than to see all of their savings accounts grow every month.

While we might not be able to control your rising expenses, we can offer some advice as to how you can save more money. In this ongoing series, we’ll highlight a few tips that we hope will help:

  • Shop your car insurance. We’ve all heard the commercials, but how many of us actually shop car insurance? The truth of the matter is that, with the chaos and rush of day-to-day life, we’d rather let our policies automatically renew simply because it’s easier. But there are so many insurance companies out there, and they all want your business. Who knows how much money you stand to save annually by switching insurers?
  • Consider who produces your electricity. More than a decade ago, Connecticut deregulated the electricity market, allowing small energy producers to send their electricity over infrastructure owned by the utility companies. Did you know that you’re able to shop around and choose who produces the electricity that powers your home? You may be able to find cheaper rates and switch providers at no cost. Be careful, however, to understand how long the less expensive rate applies, the frequency and amount of any rate increase and how long you are committed to buy from a new energy producer.
  • Cook more meals. Sure, going out is fun. It’s nice not to have to cook, and perhaps even more so not to have to clean. But let’s say you spend $50 every time you go out to dinner, and you go out twice a week—that adds up to a hefty $5,200 a year. You can certainly reduce that expense by cooking more meals at home. And there’s a good chance it will be healthier for you, too.

Just Married: What to do with your finances?

by Chaz Gaines

Congratulations on tying the knot!

You and your spouse might find yourselves fortunate enough to wonder what to do with your newfound resources.

In either case, do you say “I do” to merging your savings and checking accounts or do you keep it all separate?

Years ago, it might have seemed like a no-brainer for newlyweds to merge their accounts. But today, it’s much more likely that both spouses have their own sources of income prior to getting married.

Either way, the answer varies on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to your finances, you’ve got three options:

  • Completely merged accounts. There is certainly a level of comfort that comes with combining your savings and checking accounts. Both you and your spouse will know the current state of your finances, and every bill—from utilities to mortgages to groceries—can be paid from the same account. It’s important to keep in mind, that each of you will be supporting the other’s purchases.
  • Partially merged accounts. Is keeping some of your finances separate and merging others the best of both worlds? Couples can consider sharing some of their money while keeping personal accounts to use as they choose. But you still have to consider how you are going to fund that shared account. For example, will the higher earner contribute more?
  • Completely separate accounts. For couples who have both achieved financial independence prior to marriage, keeping completely separate accounts might make the most sense. But keeping finances completely separate still requires you to consider how certain bills are going to be split, for example.

Money is an important aspect of life, but the level of its importance varies from person to person. At the end of the day, it is critical you remember that no matter which option you choose, you should talk openly about your finances. The more conversation that occurs, the more likely your financial objectives will be the same.