Ahh, a brand-new year. There’s something so beautiful in the promise of the next 12 months, yet unfettered by mistakes or regrets. I am, without a doubt, a goal-oriented individual. Mr. ThreeYear eye-rolls, my family cringes, but I absolutely love setting and achieving goals. Last month, when we’d paid off our two outstanding debts, it felt so good to feel the finality of all that hard work and singular focus. And it feels really good not to have those payments coming up this month.
Personal finance can be overwhelming. There are so many steps, dos and don’ts, behaviors to adopt, what have you. Once in a while it would be nice to have a fail-safe, simple solution to follow to make sure you have enough for retirement.
As Mr. ThreeYear and I struggled to pay off our debt and become more financially responsible, I met with a personal finance instructor who taught at a local college. I showed her the ins and outs of our finances, and I remember her saying, “you’re not even maxing out your 401K?” We weren’t, at the time. We were only contributing enough to get the match, because we were saving for a house downpayment. We’d contributed more in the past, but never maxed it out.
It took us another two years to completely max out Mr. ThreeYear’s 401k, but when we started to do so, I realized that for many people, this was the simple key they were looking for to save for retirement.
Hi readers! Welcome to a new series, where I’ll interview entrepreneurs who’ve created a unique business or stream of income. I’m constantly amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of the businesses people start, very often in industries I didn’t know existed. There are thousands of ways to create streams of income, to help you become financially independent faster and retire earlier. And that’s not to mention the tax breaks and write-off incentives.
Today, we’ll hear from Susan, my mom. She and my dad started a clinical research trials business a few years ago, and she sat down with me over Thanksgiving break to tell me a bit more about their unique industry and business. Susan was in the education field for many years, eventually earning her Ed.D., and only started this business in retirement. Not only has it provided a challenge and purpose for her during retirement, she has an i401K , tax incentives, and other benefits. Read on for more!
Can you tell us a little about your business? What do you do, what’s the industry like, etc.?
Our business is involved in doing clinical trials. We contract with pharmaceutical companies to do pediatric trials that fit the population of our collaborative pediatric practice.
What does that mean in layman’s terms?
When a pharmaceutical company has a planned trial (when they’re trying out a new medicine or further establishing dosage recommendations) they send out feasibility study questionnaires to see if we’d be a good fit, to see if we’d have a good population of patients that fit their criteria.
If they find we’re a good match, they come to do a visit to see if our setup is appropriate for their trial. For example, if the trial is for a medicine designed for swimmer’s ear, we determine how many cases of swimmer’s ear we typically see in a given month, and whether or not we have a population who’d be willing to participate in a clinical trial. Patients that participate in trials are compensated for their time. We estimate the number of patients who may want to participate, and based on that, the pharmaceutical company develops a contract. Once we sign a contract, we agree to follow exactly the protocol they’ve established with the FDA for the trial. Continue reading “Entrepreneur of the Week: Susan”
While we’re still over a month-and-a-half from the end of the year, we know that soon, December 31st will be upon us, so the ThreeYears are currently working on end-of-the-year money moves to make sure our finances are in good shape.
Here’s what we’re doing to close this year out:
1. Contribute as much as possible to my i401k
Since I’m self-employed, I have an i401k (if you’re interested in the particulars of opening one, read this post). I am playing catch-up with my contributions since we had so many cash goals that we funded with my income this year. So, in the final quarter of the year, and in the first quarter of next year (or at least until we file our taxes), I’ll be contributing a lot to my 401K. Even though the market is high now, I don’t want to miss the tax contributions of these contributions. I estimate we’ll save several thousand dollars on our taxes if I reach my contribution goal for the year.
2. Fulfill our outstanding financial obligations
We’ve got a few outstanding financial obligations, including completing our yearly pledge with our church. We usually wait and pay the majority of our pledge in the fourth quarter of the year, when our cash flow’s better (as a teacher, I don’t get paid in the summer and it takes a month or so after school starts to begin getting paid, so our income rises in October, November, and December).
I also have to pay my fourth quarter taxes for income earned from September through December. I have until January 16th, 2018, to file the taxes, but I’ll probably go ahead and pay what I estimate I’ll owe before the end of the year. I set aside 20% of my income as it comes in, in my business account, so that money is ready to send in anytime I decide to pay the bill. Continue reading “5 Money Moves We’re Making Before the End of the Year”
Our family is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, so part of our strategy is earning more over the next three years. One of the ways we’re doing so is through my teaching position. But how do you earn big bucks in education?
I admit that the title of this post is meant to reel you in. Because, as we all know, if you want to earn a big salary, then education is generally not the field to pursue. And, truth is, if you’re in education, you’re probably not going to ever make the big bucks that lawyers or doctors make (but kudos to you guys!).
However, if you’re already in the education field, or you’re interested in pursuing a career that gives you summers off, may I recommend a way to make more money in education than the average salary schedule of a classroom teacher?
Here’s the big secret: become a contracted service provider for a school district. I am a contractor for two school districts, and while I’m a part-time worker, my hourly rate is high enough that I’d be a six-figure income earner if I worked full-time, year-round.
Surprised? So was I when I first started teaching this way. Read on for more details.
First of all, what is a contracted service provider? It’s a person who provides some type of service to a school or district, but not on a full-time basis. Usually, specialists like ESOL teachers (that’s what I do), Reading Specialists, Special Education teachers, Curriculum Developers, psychologists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech and Language Pathologists can work with a school as a contractor. Usually, these professionals work on a part-time basis with the district, and may provide services for multiple districts.
I am a contracted service provider for two school districts about fifteen minutes apart. I provide English to Speakers of Other Languages services for both districts. What this means, practically speaking, is that I am a 1099 contractor who owns my own business and provides ESL teaching services to both districts. In one district, I have two students with whom I work, and in the other, I have four. I work a total of about 30-35 hours per week at both districts.
Many school districts have just a few English Language Learners in their populations, so it’s hard to attract an ESOL teacher to work for just a few hours a week. If an ESOL teacher is able to find several districts with the same small population of students close to one another, then he or she can work part-time at several schools. This is not just true for ESOL teachers, but for Occupational or Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, School Counselors, psychologists, and many other professionals.
The i401k (also known as the Individual 401K or Solo 401K) is the 401K plan for Independent Contractors. Just as a traditional 401K offers myriad benefits for employees like tax deferred retirement savings and the benefit of lowering your tax bill, the i401K plan was set up to offer the same benefits for independent contractors.