Wednesday, December 23, 2009

M is for Money

Balancing FinancesHow much can you really expect to earn by becoming a virtual assistant?

How do you make sure that you get that money?

These questions are VITAL to ask and answer yourself before ever considering work at home. The whole invoicing and money exchange can really get tricky. Of course, all jobs require different amounts of money per hour. So, let’s use nice, even numbers for our example. If you charge $20 per hour (for something like data collecting/entering/interpreting or market research etc.) for 3 hours per work day (and as a stay at home parent, you may not want to schedule yourself for much more than 3 to 4 hours daily at first) this would be the kind of income you can expect working Monday through Friday: about $15,600 per year. And that's if you are good at keeping a good client base going.

( $20 an hour x 3 hrs. a day x 5 days per week x 52 wks per year )

After paying state and federal taxes on your misc income, this really isn't much, but it can be comparable for a part time job outside the home.

Let’s face it. . . .that can seem like chump change when there are scam artists out there saying they make $10,000 a month part time right? However, when you consider not having to put your 2.5 children in day care for $150 a week (per child) and that ½ kid will be 250 per week when it turns six weeks old and goes to daycare because that’s when society decided was long enough for the baby to be with its mother. If this was your scenario (2 or three small children in daycare), you could save an extra $500+ on daycare every week!

Another big question is: Can I get anything done with my kids at home?
The answer is: Absolutely.

Why do you think they keep ratios for kids to caregivers at 4:1(or more)?
Because children need to have adult interaction, but they also need to be able to play alone at times. It's really good for them and you!

The more VA’s that succeed will encourage more companies to employ Virtual Assistants or Consultants. So, work ethically and you will get the financial reward you deserve! Here are the rules I work by:

1. I never charge my client for time I spend learning how to do something. For example, if some system is upgraded and I have to go and read the "how to" page, I don’t charge my client for that. That is my time that I spend learning my trade. And, most likely that same week, I will use the same system for another client, so why would I charge my first client the time it took me to figure something out?

2. Download an invoice template from Microsoft’s free templates page to use to invoice your clients, Or you do a search on invoices to see what services you can use and track online. KEEP TRACK OF THESE. You will definitely need them when you are filling out your 1040 Schedule C documents for the IRS!

3. Sign up for account with PayPal so people can pay you online, or require payment via check within the week the project or task is due. Some VA's charge an upfront fee and then bill the rest at the end when the solution has been satisfied. Someday, when you are more established, you can setup and get payments via credit and debit cards. If you think you are ready to research this option, you could go to Google checkout and see their setup for credit card transactions.

My best advice is to encourage you to start small, be honest, and learn to work smarter not harder.

There was a really fabulous article in the December 2009 issue of "The Virtual Entrepreneur" called: The ONE Self-Sabotaging Thing You Do Every Day That Keeps You From Making 7-Figures In Your Business page 16-18. It's quite insightful.

If you have any advice or questions, you are always welcome to leave your comments.

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