10 Alexa Skills That Will Change Your Parenting Life
Alexa isn’t exactly where the term “mother’s little helper” originated (far from it), but that’s not to say it can’t lend a major hand to moms everywhere. (We’re fully on board with getting a little Amazon assistance now and then!) If you need some serious mommy-ing help, check out these not-to-miss skills.
1. Quick List: There’s no chance that you’ll remember the all dozen things on your shopping list next time you’re shopping. But Alexa can help you ask Quick List to add items that you’ll need as you remember them, making your shopping trip with baby a breeze.
2. Any.do: Carpool. Band practice. Ballet. Soccer. Mommy and Me. Playdate. Playdate. And another playdate. Oh the list goes on. Simply ask Alexa to add almost anything to your to-do list and it’ll be there waiting for you.
3. Life Hacks: You need hacks, but what busy mama really has time to Google those helpful how-tos daily? Now you don’t have to. Just ask Alexa to open Life Hacks and you can get the completely creative help that you crave.
4. Amazon Storytime: Alexa opens Storytime and storytime actually happens. There are plenty of professionally narrated picks for older kiddos, including choices from Audible short stories and the Amazon Rapids app.
5. Sesame Street: You’re looking for a way to entertain your tot — without having to scour the internet for ideas. Sit this one out and let the littles ask, “Alexa, open Sesame Street.” Here’s where the fun begins. Your Elmo enthusiast can talk to the furry red friendly monster, play games, and do so much more.
6. Wake Up Clock: Do you fantasize about your child staying in bed until the sun makes its way over the horizon? With this skill, your child asks Alexa if it’s time to wake up — and gets the answer that you set.
7. My Mickey Vacation Travel: A Disney vacation might be totally welcome, but the planning that goes into it is definitely not. If you’re not into the travel prep, My Disney Vacation can help you learn more about the parks, where to eat, what attractions to visit, where to shop, and what to do on your magical family getaway.
8. Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm: Every mama needs a little Zen in her life. When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or just can’t cope, Guided Meditation gives you three to eight minutes of calming bliss.
9. Instant Pot: If you’ve jumped on the bandwagon but you’re still not exactly sure what to cook in your new Instant Pot, ask Alexa to open “Instant Pot” for all kinds of yum-inspiring recipes.
10. Baby Sleep Sounds: You say it’s bedtime but your baby doesn’t agree? Ask Alexa to open “Baby Sleep Sounds” and get ready for some serious zzz’s. Even though Baby Sleep Sounds can’t actually put your kiddo to sleep, its calming music can help lull the little love off to dreamland.
What’s your favorite Alexa skill? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.
(Photo via Getty)
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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