Storm Trooper: 8 Must-Haves for Your Hurricane Emergency Kit
Yay! It’s swimsuit and barbecue season… but unfortunately, it’s also hurricane season. It seems as if hurricanes are affecting more and more people in recent years (Hurricane Irene, Sandy and Katrina to name a few), and since the official storm season runs until November 30th, it’s best to have emergency supplies ready to go. Ben Franklin famously said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so follow his sage advice and get yourself prepared for anything with these eight must-haves.
1. Battery-Powered Radio and Flashlight (+ batteries): It’s easy to remember to pack the radio and flashlight (or a fancy combo of the two), but harder to remember to pack enough batteries. (via Nola)
2. Water: Water is definitely the most important supply to stock up on. Used for both drinking and sanitation purposes, you should have one gallon of water per person per day (and for pets, if you have them — Fido needs to drink, too!). Stock up for at least three days, preferably for seven. (via Kohler Generators)
3. Food: You want to make sure you have at least three days worth of non-perishable food (again, keep Fido in mind). And make sure to throw in a manual can opener. Those black beans won’t do you any good if you can’t get at them! (via Modern Survival Online)
4. Cell Phones + Battery-Powered Cell Phone Chargers: Battery-powered and/or solar-powered cell phone chargers can be found relatively cheaply on sites like Amazon and eBay. There are also gadgets like hand crank emergency chargers you might want to add to your kit. (via CDC Blogs)
5. First Aid Kit: Whether you want to purchase one at a drugstore or put the kit together yourself, make sure it includes the basics like bandages in a few different sizes, scissors, gauze and anti-bacterial wipes. (via Sitata)
6. Personal Sanitation Items: In the event that sewer systems become unusable, you’ll want to have moist towelettes, garbage bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer and plastic ties on hand. (via Amazon Supply)
7. Cash and Records: Including some cash and copies of personal records like driver’s licenses, passports and bank information (all in a sealed, waterproof bag) will make life easier in case of an evacuation. (via USCIS)
8. Survival Kit: When trying to prepare for any situation, it can be hard to remember every little tool or gadget you’ll need, which is why it makes sense to include a survival kit in your plans. You’ll be able to build a fire, catch a fish or signal help with this bad boy. (via Silodrome)
Each family is different, so once you have the basics, be sure to personalize your emergency kit. For example, if there’s a baby in your family, make sure you include baby food or formula. If you have young children, throw in some board games or magazines to help keep them occupied until the power comes back on. If you live in an area that gets cold at night, add a few blankets — you get the picture.
Once you have all your supplies, store them together, preferably in a dry, airtight and waterproof container (like one of those big plastic bins everyone uses at moving time). If you live in an evacuation zone, you may also want to consider keeping a backpack or duffel bag in the kit in order to make things easier to carry.
Are we forgetting any essentials? Let us know what’s in your emergency kit in the comments below!
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com