5 Activity Trackers… for Your Plants!
Activity trackers are all the rage these days. From the Jawbone UP to the Nike+ Fuelband and FitBit Flex, we can’t get enough of tracking our daily activities. But we aren’t the only ones whose mood, nutrition, and daily activities need to be tracked. Plants need in on the action too!
We’ve shown you all sorts of creative planters (for the avant gardener), swooned over creating a living workspace with Urbio, tried our hand at the Click and Grow, and even made our own centerpiece terrarium. But there’s one problem none of these attractive plant-related goodies solve. How do you know when to feed, water, and simply talk to your plant? Here are 5 0f the coolest plant monitors our there, sure to make your thumb a little bit greener.
1. Plant Link ($80): Plant Link is all about water. It consists of a main base and a link that you put in the soil next to your plant. From the soil, the link measures water level and inputs it in the Plant Link website, and suggests a custom watering schedule for your plant. The app will then alert you when your plant needs watering, but only if you’re close to it. ‘Cause let’s face it, we’ll probably forget if we’re far away from the plant (it’s probably why it’s so thirsty in the first place!). In addition, if the link is for outdoor plants, you can connect a smart valve to your hose, and it’ll water your plants for you.
2. Flower Power: Flower Power is like Plant Link on extra fertilizer. Not only does it measure the water levels of your plant, it also tracks sunlight exposure, temperature, and fertilizer levels. All you do is stick in the sensor, input what kind of plant it is on their website, and it’ll give you a health analysis of your plant. Using your plant’s health analysis, it’ll send you push notifications to let you know what it needs. It’s slated to emerge from the ground sometime this year.
3. Koubachi ($99): Nope, this isn’t a golf putt. The Koubachi is a Wi-Fi plant sensor that measures water, temperature, and light levels. It then sends all the information into the Koubachi website that you can access via phone and web. It’s also fully rainproof, so you don’t have to worry about those heavy storms. At $99, it’s definitely a good investment for the new gardener.
4. Easybloom ($50): It’s true, the EasyBloom plant sensor really does make blooming easier. What’s different about this sensor is that not only can you use it to see how your plant is faring, you can also use it to see what plants are ideal for where. Want to grow something in that empty patch in the front yard? Put the EasyBloom in the soil, get an analysis, and send it to the EasyBloom website. Using the soil information, the website will recommend what plants will thrive in that environment.
5. Botanicalls ($100): Botanicalls literally enables your plants to call you. When your plant is hungry or thirsty, the device will give you a ring and let you know exactly what it needs. So cool! If you don’t feel like getting called all the time, it can also send you a tweet. Botanicalls is definitely taking plan nurturing to a whole new level. We also like how the device has a minimalist, geeky feel with no fuss. It looks like the inside of a computer!
And we couldn’t resist, so we have one more bonus plant sensor!
Bonus! Monologue: We couldn’t help but adore the way this simple plant sensor look. It’s voice activated, so if you’re being a bad plant owner, it’s not afraid to tell you so! Sadly, it’s still in the design phase, but we’re crossing our fingers that it’ll make it into production soon.
Hi, I'm Brit, the founder and CEO of Brit + Co. I'm a young mom of two, tech nerd and design-inclined lady who has a zillion hobbies and curious about... just about everything! My mission from the beginning has been to unlock women's creativity and courage to try new things so that they can find the path to their true passions.
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