Weekly business rail, with tips on making your home office comfortable and functional, a BBB warning about tax refund loans and more.
Tip of the Week
Setting up your home office so that it is functional and looks nice is important, but because you'll be spending a lot of time in there, you should make it comfortable as well. Here are some tips on how to make your home office functional, yet fun and stylish.
- If you have young children at home, designating your office separate from the rest of your house with a closed door, or a standing partition, can help your children learn that you are "at work" and not to be disturbed unless they have an emergency. If you plan to use your office space for family business after work hours are over, consider making a sign indicating you are busy working to hang on the door or partition.
- Your desk probably will be where you spend the majority of time in your home office, which means you need it to match your style, both comfort-wise and design-wise. Your office chair needs to be comfortable and match as well.
- Decorate your office in colors and materials that will help keep you operating efficiently but also allow you to enjoy the time you spend working. For example, yellow is considered to be a stimulating color, orange encourages creativity and green provides a calming influence. Depending on the energy level you would like to have in your office, consider using file folders, binders, pictures and wall paint to bring colors into your office that would enhance your professional emotions and behaviors.
- Keeping your home office picked up is key, especially if you pace while talking on the phone or while brainstorming a business idea. Make sure all your electronic cords are bundled and tucked away under your desk so you aren't tripping over them while chatting with a client on the phone.
- Get organized with a cubby hole or filing drawer system, which will help keep the paperwork off your home office desk area and also help you find filed information quickly and easily if you were to have a customer catch you by surprise on the phone.
Many Americans are looking forward to the expected refunds from their 2010 Federal Income Taxes. Many people may also consider applying for a refund anticipation loan (RAL) to speed up the process of receiving the refunds that they expect. If you are considering an instant refund loan, the Better Business Bureau offers the following advice:
- Use e-file and direct deposit? The fastest and most secure way for you to get your refund is to file your taxes online and then allow a direct deposit of the refund into your bank account. Taxpayers can have the money usually in eight to 15 days.
- Be cautious with debit card offers. Some tax preparers offer to provide instant refunds on debit cards. However, these cards may include hidden fees and can have limits on how much money you can access, which means you would incur the high transaction fees over and over again.
- Shop around for the best RAL deal. Fees and interest rates for RALs vary by tax preparer, so compare a few before selecting one, if you absolutely need you refund immediately.
- Check with the BBB first. Before you sign a contract, be sure to check out the tax preparer's record of integrity and performance at www.bbb.org.
According to Forbes.com, here are NASCAR’s highest-paid drivers:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Tony Stewart
5. Kevin Harvick
Number to Know
16.9: Percent that new-home sales dropped in February, according to the Commerce Department.
Mozilla recently reported that its updated version of Firefox had about 6 million downloads in the first 24 hours. By comparison, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer update had 2.35 million downloads in the first day.
GateHouse News Service