Category:

Tech

Intuit Quickbooks, self-employment, freelancer

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

Are you self-employed? In today’s digital world, more and more people are working as freelancers, contractors and quite frequently, remotely. Brick and mortar businesses are quickly becoming obsolete dinosaurs. With the Internet, many jobs can be done online from anywhere in the world.

It’s not like when our parents were starting their families. Moms don’t have to stay home with kids (unless they want to) and dads don’t have to leave the house for a traditional 9-5 corporate job because now, almost everything we can do in an office, we can do from home, and it costs less overhead for the company. Not to mention, it’s a savings for the employee because you’ve eliminated the cost of gas, lunch and even a car.

The fact is that today many of us do work from home and with contract work and freelancer gigs, that freedom, has a price. we have to figure out the logistics of the accounting; not only doing the work but filing the invoices, following up for payment, keeping track of receipts and, on top of all of that, we have to make sure that we are setting aside the right amount for taxes. It’s a lot a work but totally worth it to be your own boss.

With a lot of hard work, dedication and a great accounting software, being your own boss doesn’t have to be a dream; it can be a reality. Honestly, who doesn’t want to be their own boss? But you have to take yourself and your business seriously. Just because you are not working in an office, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be professional.

Since I am self-employed and I make most of my income freelancing, keeping track of invoices and receipts for business costs is an absolute nightmare. My secret weapon is good accounting software. Intuit QuickBooks is a game changer when it comes to keeping track of your hard-earned money whether you are self-employed or just want to be in control of your finances.

Why Intuit QuickBooks, you ask? Let me count the ways.

• The Intuit QuickBooks Resource Center has free resources for starting, running and growing your business which is awesome when you are trying to manage running the financial aspect of a growing business.

• There are in depth guides, free tools, helpful articles, and even videos to help you succeed.

• The Intuit QuickBooks Resource center is not just for small/medium businesses, but also the self-employed, freelancers, creatives, like myself.

• And one of my personal favorite resources is A Woman’s One Stop Resource for Starting and Financing a business.

Intuit QuickBooks Resource Center features or articles that can definitely be helpful to you.

a. Free self-employment tax calculator for self-employed people to figure out how much they need to pay for self-employment tax. This is an important one, you do not want that surprise when doing your taxes. Believe me.

b. Article on 10 tax deductions every freelancer needs to know:

c. Users that use the automatic mileage tracking feature can save an average of $7,393 in tax deductions each year.

d. There is also a paycheck calculator for employers to figure out how much to pay their employees.

e. Free income statement (profit and loss statement) template, example, and guide.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that maybe Intuit QuickBooks is something your business needs, here are some quick facts about Intuit QuickBooks to make your life as a freelancer so much easier.

1. Intuit QuickBooks is the #1 accounting solution for small businesses.
2. Intuit QuickBooks users save an average of 11 hours per month.
3. Intuit QuickBooks users find on average $4,350 at tax time by linking expenses and receipts on their phone.
4. Customers agree that Intuit QuickBooks gives them peace of mind their books are accurate.
5. Customers are more efficient and productive with Intuit QuickBooks.
6. Intuit QuickBooks Online customers find an average of $4340 at tax time by linking expenses and receipts on their phone.

You work so hard for your money, shouldn’t it be easier to keep track of it? For more information visit Intuit QuickBooks on Facebook and on Instagram.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Do you love music? I think most people do. I feel like there should be a soundtrack to life and for each milestone, there should be a designated song playing in the background always. I think the world would be a better place if music was just always running in the background.

It probably has something to do with the way I grew up. My parents are both very big music lovers and there was always some kind of music playing in the house when I was growing up. Whether it was Mexican music playing softly in the background during dinner while my dad told us stories of growing up in Mexico, nursery rhymes playing when one of the children was small of soft jazz playing as my dad held my mom and swayed through the house on any given Sunday, music was always playing. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.

We do the same at our house. But instead of playing music on huge speakers we use portable speakers and instead of blasting a boom box in one room of the house, we now have Google Chromecast which makes it easy and affordable to play our music from our devices in any room, or multiple rooms in the house.

 

Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

 

Google Chromecast Audio is available at Best Buy. Google Chromecast Audio enables you to play music on your speakers, new or old, wirelessly from your phone, laptop or tablet.  Because Chromecast Audio uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, you can stream crystal clear hi res sound. It is the best of all worlds and makes the transition from the boom box to your tech devices effortless. Because Chromecast Audio uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, you can stream crystal clear hi res sound on your new or old speakers.

Listen to your favorite tunes on your speaker/

By using your phone, it’s easy to play, pause, or change the volume from anywhere in the home. And while streaming, you can still text or call without interrupting what’s playing or draining your battery.

1)      Crystal clear sound, powered by the cloud     Use Chromecast Audio to stream over Wi-Fi which has many advantages over Bluetooth including higher sound quality.

2)      Enjoy hundreds of your favorite audio apps

Stream millions of songs, radio stations, and podcasts through apps like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Google Play Music. Find more at chromecast.com/apps

3) Play music everywhere with Multi-room

Now you can easily fill every room in your home with synchronous music. Simply group Chromecast Audio devices together so you can listen to the same song on multiple speakers making curating the best life soundtrack that much easier.

Google Chromecast audio, 12th birthday

What would be the top three songs on the soundtrack for your life and why?

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freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

 Thank you TaxSlayer for sponsoring this post. Get simple pricing with no surprises when you e-file with TaxSlayer this tax season!

The life of a freelancer is one of excitement. Seriously, you never know from one week to the next what your income will be for that day, week, month or even year. You can set goals but sometimes you exceed them and others, you fall short.
Some people might call that nerve wrecking. I call it hustle motivation. I’ve never done anything the easy way. I like forging my own path but let’s not get silly, I don’t like making things harder than they need to be. Though I’ll admit, figuring out how to file taxes as a freelancer was difficult in the beginning.

For me, freelancing was an answer to the dilemma of how to be in two places at once; at work and with my children. After giving birth to our first daughter, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew that I wanted to be very hands-on and, lucky for us, we could survive on one income as a 3-person family. That worked for a minute until we got pregnant again and suddenly, we needed that extra income. Babies aren’t free, ya’ll.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

I learned real fast that babies burn through money at an alarming rate and when there are two, they go through it twice as fast. I took a job tutoring college students in English and editing college research papers online. It really was perfect but it reminded me how much I truly loved writing myself, and my daughters provided more material than I could have possibly imagined. It seemed like they were always getting into one thing or another so after a couple years of blogging on the side, I was able to quit my tutoring job and focus on freelance writing exclusively.

This gave me the freedom to work from home while staying home with my girls. I had the best of both worlds. I never had to miss a recital, match, meet or dance. I didn’t get much sleep in those days because work-from-home mom is code for most exhausted woman on the planet but we were all so happy, I didn’t care.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

That’s where I am still today, blissfully exhausted doing what I love while getting to spend time with the people that I love. Being a freelance writer is a dream come true in most aspects but it can be a little trying at tax time because when you’re a freelancer, taxes are not withheld from your check. I used to joke with my husband that it was “free money”, you know, like in college when they were handing out credit cards in the quad with t-shirts to anyone willing to take them? Credit card money isn’t real money, right? WRONG!

It’s awesome getting your entire paycheck until you actually do your taxes and realize that you need to come up with thousands of dollars in a short amount of time because you owe the government. Then it’s not so awesome not having taxes withheld. Freelancing is an act of restraint. For me, it took a few times for the lesson to take. I’ve finally learned.

freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Here are a few easy, practical tips that I’ve learned over the years to make doing taxes as painless as possible so that you can enjoy your life with the people you love;

Receipts: Keep your business receipts in a safe place. Don’t crumple them up in jacket pockets and in car consoles. Have a designated place for those receipts and if you are really thinking ahead, I like to write exactly what I used it for (which post) because believe me on April 14th, they all look the same. If possible, I highly recommend digitally scanning all receipts in ASAP.

Know Your Deductions: As a freelancer, you really need those deductions to off set the amount you will owe, especially with all that “free money” floating around. Remember, you can deduct things like your home office up to 300 feet at $5 per SQ foot, domain and web hosting, telephone and internet expenses, legal and professional services to maintain your website, education (all those online courses that you bought to improve your SEO), office supplies and equipment and even a percentage of business meals and so many more. Oh and don’t forget about these Top 5 overlooked deductions.

Put money in a designated business banking account: My personal suggestion is to have business savings and checking accounts. All that “free money” that should be withheld in taxes, be smart, put it in that savings account and let it gain some interest. Take the rest and put it into your business checking account. Then, not only do you have your business earned money readily available to you, you will have a digital trail of what you spent. You might need that for reference later.

We normally do our own taxes at home. TaxSlayer helps me to navigate my complex freelance tax issues and allows me to file my taxes from the comfort of my own home. With TaxSlayer, you choose your level of service, everything else is included. TaxSlayer offers free live phone and e-mail support to all customers. It’s simple and affordable. TaxSlayer has over 50 years of tax preparation experience. It is the total package. File now at TaxSlayer.com

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions about how to file your taxes as a freelancer expressed here are all my own.

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Get Healthy, working out, New YEar

Time to get healthy. It’s that time of year again when I’m not quite sure what day it is and my jeans no longer fit. Even the jeggings are being pushed to their limits. Well, technically, I can still zip my skinny jeans but they are functioning more like a tourniquet these days than actual clothing and there is nothing “skinny’ about the situation. Unless you consider the magic they hold that can hold a 10-pound sack of ass in a 5-pound bag sort of stretchy magic. I’m afraid I’m going to be in public and a bend in the right direction is going to send my derriere publicly exposed in all directions.

I am in full on Humpty Dumpty land and feeling every bit of all of those holiday carbs that I’ve been shoveling into my face between Halloween and the New Year holding their hands up and demanding to be counted. This happens every year. Somehow, I slowly phase out the cute skinny jeans for full skirts, A-line dresses and the dreaded Christmas leggings and voila, here we are…”fat girl in a little coat” ( or jeans as it were) time.

It sucks. I hate feeling perpetually bloated. And I’ve convinced myself that my skinny jeans have to weigh at least weigh 15 – 18 pounds. It’s not me. It’s them and they need to get on a diet STAT. It’s the only logical explanation. I’m sure this new egg shaped physique that I’m sporting has nothing to do with all the cakes, pies and alcohol that I consumed at all the holiday gatherings. Oh and I blame my period, as I always do. Has to be. I mean that’s at least another 5-10 pounds of water weight, right?

All I know is that if this state of being is not remedied soon, I’m going to go postal in the nearest fast food joint or maybe the nearest 1200 calorie latte serving Starbucks. Sonsabitches, I knew that caramel crème brulee latte was French for fat girl. Bastards. The thing is no one made me eat it. No one forced me to sip that sweet, overpriced, calorie stuffed latte. I wanted it and with wild abandon, I consumed in typical American nature. Moderation? I don’t need any stinking moderation. Come on we all know that I operate on two speeds; restriction or no moderation whatsoever. It’s a sickness. Really.

Anyways, you know me, I’m not one to go gently or silently into anything. I’m scrappy and I’m going to fight it to the death. It’s that time once again when I feel the need to beat the fat back into submission. Okay, all joking aside, I’m not delusional. I’m never going to sport the waif like body of my 20’s ever again. Mostly because I’ve been in eating disorder recovery for nearly 20 years and I can’t relapse into full on anorexic, not with tween girls in the house, that would make me a terrible role model. Hey, I didn’t say it’s right but everyone has their thinspiration’ mine just happens to be healthy for my girls without being off the rails mentally ill in front of my girls while doing it.

It’s a daily battle that I’ve mostly been winning. I won’t lie, there have been days when I’ve purged out of guilt after a particularly rich meal or simply passed on something I should have eaten because I needed the control on that day and there has even been the bad choices of mania laden juicing or over exercising. I know my triggers and I know, like an alcoholic, I’ll be in recovery (one day at a time) for the rest of my life. Eating disorders are a life sentence. Nobody tells you that.

I don’t want the setback if I can help it so that means I have to jump into that familiar territory of “healthy living” or as I’d like to call it “Moderate restriction with good intentions.” Don’t worry, it mostly entails actually watching what I’m eating, getting those 10000 steps in a day and just saying no to all the cakes, pies, fast food and alcohol for a while. But don’t feel sorry for me, it also means looser jeans, better fitting tops, lower blood pressure, lower sugar, feeling sexier in my own skin and feeling strong and the cherry on top, being a good role model for my girls.

I’m sharing a few of the things I’m using to get healthy in 2017. Because I don’t care what the number on the scale says anymore. I do, however, care about how my clothes fit me and that I have enough energy to play with my kids. They are tweens now so we’re not chasing them on the floor but the hours they can walk in the mall is mind boggling. I may as well put on a pair of good gym shoes and become an undercover mall walker. Plus, side note, no one wants to be their kid’s very own Gilbert Grape’s mom, right?

I’m sick of feeling sick and tired. Also, after the break last year and the subsequent loss of weight, now that I’ve gained it back, I can really feel the effect it is having on my knees, ankles and back. It’s not good.

Here are my favorite tools in my arsenal to battle the holiday bulge.

ExoSOLS inserts: These are awesome because they are custom made orthotics that are made specifically for your foot, to give you the support that your feet need. No prescription is required, simply download the SOLS app and capture images of your feet to render your true custom foot support. Made for you, on-demand, ExoSOLS will be shipped six days later.

Gel-Nimbus 18 Lite Show by Asics: I found out that I suffer from supination or as you runners call it underpronation.Basically, my ankles roll out in a state of sprain your ankle or stress fracture your legs at all time so I need to take precautions (Along with my physical therapy and orthotic inserts…see above) just not to fall.My world is filled with metaphorical banana peels.

TRX training: Get the workout of your life using your own body weight and it’s easily taken with you and doesn’t take up a lot of space. TRX, the global leader in Functional Training and creators of the Suspension Trainer and Suspension Training, has teamed up with PEAR Sports, the leader in app-based, real-time audio coaching focused on performance and fitness, to provide world-class interactive training to TRX newcomers and devotees anytime and anywhere, at home or on the road.

Qardio scale: This is my favorite scale ever because it not only sleek and beautiful, it is a very functional, wireless smart scale and body composition analyzer that provides users with in-depth knowledge and a broader view of fitness goals by measuring body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, body fat percentage, and water and bone composition, in addition to weight.

QardioArm Blood Pressure Cuff: High tech blood pressure cuff that works wirelessly through an app on your phone. It is accurate, convenient and awesome. It offers users a convenient way to take medically accurate measurements of key heart health metrics including blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a great way to be proactive about monitoring your health.

PEAR Sports: PEAR Sports delivers an innovative and intuitive technology that guides users through every step of their fitness journey. With over 500 unique workout programs including running, cycling and strength, users can experience real-time, interactive audio workouts and personalized training from some of the world’s most talented athletes and fitness experts. Utilizing biofeedback and data, PEAR’s interactive software empowers its users to train smarter, keeps them motivated throughout the process and shares in their successes. PEAR is helping the everyday fitness enthusiast achieve better results, faster.

Huawei Watch: I wear my elegant like it is going out of style, which it never will. With the Huawei Watch, classic Swiss design meets smart technology to create an enduring timepiece. A superior full circle display offers a window onto the world. A wearable to be worn in the gym, to the office or on a night on the town. I loved it so much I got my husband the classic for men.

Portion Control boxes to measure my food because I need portion control in my life badly.

Oh and CIZE and Pure Barre videos because honestly, I love to do classes but I just don’t have the time and money right now to be on someone else’s schedule at the gym.

Now, I start the work. I’ve already begun the portion control and better choices, less carbs and alcohol part of the new year healthy living plan. Tomorrow, when everybody goes back to their respective places, I will begin my workout regime. Wish me luck.

What’s your favorite thing you do to get healthy?

 

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unlocked smartphones, tech, Best Buy

Disclaimer: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift but all opinions are my own.

I have been dying to get the newest iPhone 7 Plus but I’m trying to decide if I want to stay with my current provider or if I want to switch. I desperately want the phone but I want the best price for the service and no dropped calls, as I work a lot from my phone. I need dependability and so, I don’t want to commit to a phone and a contract until I really check into everything. Meanwhile, my phone is on the fritz and I just have to deal with it until I have the time and money to upgrade or change providers. I think everyone who has ever owned a cell phone in the history of cell phones has faced this dilemma and it sucks.

But I’ve been learning about unlocked smartphones. What? What is that? I pretty much thought all the good cellphones were being held hostage by the cell phone providers. Seriously, every time I have to renegotiate my contract, I feel like my provider is demanding a ransom for a release of service on the phone I want. It’s awful but what were my options? Now, you can get awesome unlocked smartphones. I’m not talking about some analog flip phone that your grandpa’s still using from the 1990’s either.

What is an unlocked smartphone? An unlocked smartphone is a phone that isn’t tied to a specific carrier or contract. Therefore, you have the freedom to shop for the latest phones and plans as often — or as infrequently — as you like. And when it comes to international travel, unlocked phones can’t be beaten.

Unlocked phones are becoming a very popular choice here in the U.S. And why not? Nothing beats the freedom of an unlocked phone when it comes to choice of models, carriers or plans. An unlocked phone offers you freedom and flexibility from carriers and contracts. You definitely save money because you have the freedom to be choosy and it’s great for international travel.

In case you’ve never traveled outside the U.S. with your cell phone under your current contract, just try it once and you will see just how expensive using your cell phone outside the United states can be. I bought a data package and minutes specifically to accommodate a press trip and my bill still doubled after only 4 days traveling internationally. I use my phone a lot but I never go over my data but international usage is not under the same umbrella and you will get heavily charged for usage.

Interested in finding out more about how an unlocked smartphone could change your cell phone experience or how it can save you money? Best Buy has an Unlocked Smartphone savings event going on right now with sales on Samsung, Huawei, Moto, Sony, BLU, Alcatel and ZTE smartphones. Shop your favorite brand during the Unlocked Smartphone Savings Event.

Offers:

Moto:

  • Offer: Save $50 on Select Moto Mods with purchase of Moto Z Play
  • Valid Dates: 10/30/16-11/5/16

Huawei:

  • Offer: Save $50 on the Honor 8 by Huawei plus get a free case
  • Valid Dates: 10/30/16-11/12/16

Samsung:

  • Offer: Save $100 on the Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • Valid Dates: 10/30/16-11/12/16

BLU:

  • Offer: Save $40 on the BLU Life XL
  • Valid Dates: 11/6/16-11/12/16

Sony:

  • Offer: Save $100 on the Sony XPERIA X Compact
  • Valid Dates: 10/30/16-11/12/16

And, in case you were wondering, an unlocked smartphone is the perfect gift for that special tween, teen or college-aged child that you want to give a cell phone to but don’t necessarily want to add to your plan or have locked into a 2-year contract. Maybe you just want a way to let your kid check in and say they’re safe or need a ride home or whatever. Why should we be charged an arm and a leg for wanting to stay connected to our child? Check out unlocked smartphones during the unlocked smartphone savings event, you won’t be sorry.

Disclaimer for all offers listed: Offer valid 10/30/16-11/12/16. Phones, service, and coverage not available in all markets. Available in New Jersey. No dealers. See a Blue Shirt for details. 4G/4G LTE not available in all markets. Products must be purchased on the same receipt to receive bundle/package savings.  

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freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Do you know the difference between a cyber fan and a cyberstalker?  Because there definitely is a difference and if you work online you should be aware of what cyberstalking is. You should also familiarize yourself with what catfishing is because there are some really desperate individuals out there.

I live and breathe online. I get it. I make my business public. That’s why I’ll never get to live out my dream of being a politician.Well, that and the fact that I actually have some morals and ethics. Those are hard qualities to reconcile with being a politician. My personal business is just too damn public. It served its purpose. It was cathartic but the downside is…everyone knows my business. I’ve had to forfeit some of my expectation of privacy by doing this.

It wasn’t important at the time. At the time I wrote some of the pieces, believe me, my mental status and processing were much more important than who knew my business. But then the dust settles and it’s out there and, as we all know, once it’s out there. It is out there so be somewhat cautious with your online presence.

A couple months ago, I had a real life face-to-face meeting with a reader. Well, she wasn’t so much of a regular reader as my bank teller who handled a deposit from Pop Sugar once and from there on decided to Google me and follow my writing…everywhere. First I thought maybe she was a fellow writer who wanted some tips on how to pitch Pop Sugar. Normally, I would have been flattered but she did one of those things where you go just one step too far. You know what I mean. We’ve all done it. You know you’ve gone too far fangirl when the other party gives you the “the hell?” look. I think she saw mine all the way from my car.

Anyways, I was a little bit creeped out that my teller not only went fangirl on me but then started telling me how she Googled me and had read my pieces on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Latina Mom.me, Parenting, She Knows, The Stir and even stuff as far back as Aiming Low. But, I let it go. I mean after all; I make my life public so what did I expect? Someday I was bound to run into someone other than my family, friends or fellow bloggers who actually read my blog.

But then a couple weeks later I returned and again she referenced things I had published online. Now, again this might not have been creepy except when I write online there is a tiny bit of privacy. For instance, most of you don’t know where I live, have my actual address and social security number at your disposal and know where my kids go to school and what they look like in person. You guys don’t know my husband’s name and I probably won’t run into any of you at the local grocery. Basically, I’m not in any immediate danger of you guys coming to my door and boiling my dog or using me as a skin suit. Her on the other hand, she was creeping me out. And now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be writing this at all because SWF might be reading it. Anyways, here’s hoping she’s not!

I’m not going to lie. I started avoiding my bank. I just felt uncomfortable with her level of comfortableness with me. It’s one thing to Google, someone, it’s a completely different thing to actually tell them and continue on like that is normal to do. It certainly wasn’t professional.

I didn’t think it had really affected me until I realized I have 4 very personal posts in my drafts folder. Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don’t leave posts in the drafts folder. I publish it all.

Then last night, I had a very weird and long dream. I’m not going to go all into detail but let’s just say it involved a very not well-thought out panic room, a weirdo and my entire family. The scariest part of all was that after the entire situation was resolved and the aggressor was apprehended in my dream, the creeper looked at me and (Scooby Doo ending like) said very eerily, “It’s okay, I’ll find you again. You’ll be x, y, z, doing x, y, z again soon.” And that was very scary because they mentioned very specific posts from my blog and I woke up ready to shut the whole thing down. But then I remembered, that’s not who I am and I’m not 5-years-old. Nightmares don’t send me running to my mom’s bed anymore. So, I’m hitting publish and I’m leaving it all on the blog.

The moral of the story is that if you don’t want to be labeled an online stalker, don’t tell people you meet in person that you’ve never met before that you’ve Googled them. It’s just weird unless you are vetting someone for a job or a date and definitely don’t do it every time you see them.

Have you ever had an cyberstalker cross over into real life and how did you deal with it?

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shark week, PMS, living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

Disclosure: This post about living authentically online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Whenever I am asked by digital influencers new to the space or get emails from people contemplating starting a blog or becoming a digital influencer, my first word of advice is to be true to yourself; be authentic in the version of you that you present to the world. The bottom line is that there is only one you and that is what makes each person’s voice online special. Why even try to be someone else? Imitation is not flattering and you are almost always guaranteed to fail at trying to be someone else.

Of course, it is hard to be yourself in life and even harder in the digital space these days. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week, two separate posts landed me in hot water. I spoke my truth, my opinion on what turned out to be a very controversial subject and then, I had to put on my big girl panties and live with the consequences. After all, if you chose to live your life openly and authentically online there will be repercussions, at some point.

Still, I choose to be who I am, flaws and all. Sometimes I rush to snappy judgements or let my emotions guide my writing. This is not always a good thing. There is authentic, then there is too much information and that’s what happens a lot of the time with me and the fact that I lack a filter. People who know me can be forgiving of a rash jump to a conclusion or one time lapse in judgement, the general public who don’t know by by anything other than one singular loud, opinionated post are not usually so forgiving.

In one way, it’s awesome because if you follow me on social media and my blog you know the “real” me but at other times, when I make snap judgements or speak out before I know all the facts, it’s bad because I’ve already put that bad first impression out into the world. I think, it’s only one bad choice but to someone who doesn’t know me, I am just that one bad choice. I think it’s best to find middle ground.

Here are my tips to living authentically online:

Be yourself.

Don’t over edit yourself and write in the way that you speak. No one’s life is sunshine and rainbows all the tie and no one speaks like Shakespeare in real life.

Be honest but hold the nasty.

Put your real thoughts out there. You are allowed to have an opinion. My only word of advice is if it is a heated topic, go ahead and write it out. Mull it over. Come back to it in a few hours and then hit publish if that’s still what you want to say. Believe me, this is the thing I still struggle with.

Develop a thick skin.

If you decide that you want your brand to be all in your face, all the time, then be prepared for backlash. Someday, some time on some topic, someone will disagree with you. In fact, you may just have the most unpopular opinion out there and when you do, the public will let you know. They can be cutting with their words and sometimes they even go for the jugular by attacking not only you personally but your family, thoughts and beliefs. My advice, if you choose to be 100% authentic all the time be prepared for this and either let it roll off your back (easier said than done) or don’t read the comments.

Be a Big Girl.

If you still decide to put your views online to be scrutinized (and they will be) be a grown up. If someone calls you ugly and stupid (and at times much worse) for having a contrary opinion, the best response is not to hurl insults back at them. Be a professional. If you can’t respond civilly, then walk away from the conversation. I don’t like to delete comments because I feel like if I put a topic up for debate, it is my reader’s rights to be heard too. However, sometimes reading the comments can become so consuming and overwhelming that I just have to not read them anymore. I am a professional, this is my job but I’m also a human and, not going to lie, sometimes my feelings suffer collateral damage as a result of my opinions and choice to live authentically online.

Last but not least, don’t take it personally.

I know this bit sounds crazy because, after all, if you are living online authentically, it is all very personal for you. When people attack your opinions, your choices, your beliefs it definitely feels personal but remember this, they’ve never actually met you. They don’t know you. They are disagreeing with your stance on a topic, not you the person even though it usually feels like they are. This is a very important thing to remember always.

These are my tips for staying authentic online. There is an understanding of culpability when you live your life online. You have a venue to broadcast your words and thoughts to people all over the world, so even when you are being authentic you should still consider the effect your words can have on those around you. There are ripples to every action we do in the world and online is no exception. Be yourself, but be responsible. Obviously, this too is something I still struggle with but I’ve come to a point where when I make mistakes, I am adult enough to admit it and say sorry if need be.

Living authentically online doesn’t mean you have a license to be mean, judgmental or bully others. It means you have a responsibility to be true to yourself while being watched by the world. So be yourself but remember you are a part of something much larger than just your thoughts from behind a computer screen.

A fun way to let people know who you are and what you’re about from the very beginning is to obtain a .ME domain name as the perfect way to stay authentic online. For example, if you are a homeschooling mama from the south how about SouthernHomeschoolingMama.Me. See it’s fun and it lets the world know what you’re about before they even click into your site.

If you are living authentically online what would your perfect .ME domain name be?

living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

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authenticity online, authentic online, real me, mommy blogger, blogger,mommy guilt, parenting fail, missing firsts, tap, dance

Disclosure: This post about authenticity online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I started this blog, The TRUTH about Motherhood, I was known to the Internet as Truthful Mommy. I picked this pseudonym because I planned to bust every parenting myth that ever existed and I was a little leery about putting my face to my truth. I didn’t plan on being the poster child for authenticity online but I had every intention of being the real me.

I wanted to be the voice of the “regular” mom but I wasn’t sure that I was a “regular” mom because I felt like I was doing it so wrong. I didn’t think I was special in anything but my inadequacy. I just wanted to have an open and honest dialogue with other moms online or offline about the ups and downs of motherhood and life. I exist beyond just being a “mommy blogger” on the internet. I am a real person and people need other people. This isn’t just my job, it’s my life. I just wanted a place where I could be my own authentic self.

When I had my first daughter, suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed and completely out of my depth as a parent and as a human being. Every other mom I met made everything look so effortless and they weren’t telling me otherwise. I felt like the ultimate failure. I had so many questions.

Why was my 9-month old crawling backwards? Why couldn’t I ever make the arm to bed transition? Were my kids going to co-sleep until they left for college? Did no one else’s 2-year-old drop the F bomb? Why wouldn’t my toddler eat anything other than damn chicken nuggets? Why was I making all the wrong parenting choices when everyone else was making the right ones? Was I born missing the mom gene?

All the other moms looked so put together at Kinder Music and the Little Gym and I looked like death warmed over.  Motherhood looked effortless on them; like those 18-year-olds who just wake up and look gorgeous. Those were the days before Zombies were all the rage but I’m pretty positive I was the original Mombie. I was perpetually exhausted and about as far away from perfect as I could get. I mean, I was a nice person, trying my best but my best just felt like it fell short.

Then I “really” got to know the other moms and I realized those broads were just as exhausted and out of their depth as I was but they had something called dry shampoo and they never told me about their mommy woes because they were afraid I was going to think less of them. ME? The woman who hadn’t slept in 2 years. The woman who only wore pony tails and makeup she could put on in 2 minutes or less because little people needed every bit of my attention. That’s when I knew, I had to tell the truth for all of our sakes. So I did and it was glorious.

I had to be honest to have authenticity online or it was pointless.

To be fair, I’ve never been much of a liar anyways and my poker face is completely nonexistent so it’s not like I really had a choice but I chose to be the voice of honesty, not necessarily reason, on the internet and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years. I hope I’ve helped a few people along the way. If comments and private messages are any indication, I’ve had my moments of truth that have landed on desperate ears that needed to know they weren’t alone. That alone was worth bearing my soul naked on the Internet.

I can’t imagine not being my authentic me online or anywhere else in my life. I don’t have the time or desire to be anyone else. I’m definitely rough around the edges, I’ve been known to curse on occasion, and I don’t always say the right thing but who I am online is who I am in person. In fact, the best compliment I’ve ever received has been when meeting readers in real life and having them say that I am exactly who I am online.

I am fully aware that there are times when I overshare and maybe should keep some things to myself. There are times when I hit the publish button and it terrifies me to think what a reader half way across that world might think of me; after all, my skeletons are not hiding neatly in some closet, they are right here for anyone with Google to read. But I can’t over censor myself and pretend that my life is all rainbows and sunshine all the time because it’s not. Sometimes it is but sometimes it’s really shitty; so I share it all here.

For me, being authentic online is the only way that I know how to be. Life is too short to spend all of my time trying to create some fake perfect virtual world that only serves to make others feel bad about what they’re doing. I refuse to be part of the problem. This is me and if you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I’m not perfect but at least with me, you know what you’re getting.

How do you stay true to yourself in life?

What is your definition of authenticity online?

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huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and as we all know, every mother like every child, is a snowflake and picking just the right gift can be a daunting task if you forget that the only thing moms really want is something from the heart. That’s all it takes to make any of us happy really.

But if your mom is a techie, like myself, there may be some things that might make her high tech heart smile just a little wider than say a crockpot. But hey, if mom’s in to easy to make, on the go crockpot dinners, a new crockpot might be the best gift ever. Me, I prefer tech.

Here is a list of some of the hottest tech gifts this Mother’s Day:

huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

The Huawei watch

The Huawei Watch Jewel & Elegant is at the top of my list. It’s inspired by the timeless style of feminine beauty. It’s elegant form complimented by smart technology, seamlessly blends in full functionality with flair. It’s more sophisticated and beautiful than the competition and can be outfitted in a number of different styles. It’s all the beauty of a fine timepiece and all the function of a high-end smart watch.

Powered by Android wear, the Huawei Watch makes keeping active and reaching your health goals effortless. A high-accuracy motion sensor keeps track of your activity and knows when you are walking, running or climbing.

 qardio base, huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech

The Qardio Base Smart Scale & Body Analyzer

Now, I wouldn’t normally put a scale on a Mother’s Day gift guide but I have to say, I have one and it really is one of my favorite things. The Qardio Base is a smart scale that provides weight and full body composition feedback. It works with an app and provides your weight, BMI and fat percentage. Multiple users can use it and there is even a pregnancy mode that accounts for expectant moms.

Want to know if you’re burning fat and gaining muscle? Or whether you’re actually losing weight not just water? Qardio Base smart scale makes it possible.

It allows you to set your goals and track your progress with clever charts & graphs and it even has a pregnancy mode. It’s the first scale that let’s mom know her body, not just her weight and that makes a difference.

 

Panasonic Lumix ZS100

Whether the mom in your life is an enthusiast or full-auto photographer, the ZS100 delivers the upgrade in image quality a 1-inch sensor affords with just enough zoom lens for a lot of framing flexibility and the capability to be sufficiently fast enough to capture kids and pets in action. Plus the ZS100 supports 4K video for the sharpest video capture possible. It has everything the professional or novice photographer mom could ever want.

qardio base, huawei, Mother's Day, gift Guide, tech, nvidia shield

Shield TV 

Shield TV is a top-of-the-line Android streaming device from NVIDIA. From its sleek, angular design and the world’s largest app ecosystem to exceptional speed (34x faster) and 4k resolution – Shield TV is packed with ultra-modern features to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience by centralizing your favorite shows, movies, games, music and more in one place. With options for all ages – from PBS Kids to ESPN – and the ultimate Android gaming platform, Shield is the must-have travel essential for family trips.

With amazing Google voice capabilities and microphone-equipped remote, you can now find exactly what you want on Netflix or YouTube without seemingly endless clicks as you scroll through libraries. This means mom can pull up her favorite titles, instantly and virtually hands-free. No matter what she’s doing.

 

Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system

Portability, great quality and ease of use, the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system has it all. It delivers the best-looking images. Your mom the smartphone photographer will get a fisheye, wide-angle and two macro lenses using a mount that works with both front and rear cameras of Apple’s two newest smartphones. All of this comes in a kit that offers great image quality while still being easy to carry. The system takes just a second to attach to her phone and stows away neatly in a pocket or bag using the included cloth pouch.

 

Moleskine Smart Writing Set 

The Moleskine Smart Writing Set may be one of my favorite things ever. It is a 3-part system that includes a Paper Tablet, a Pen+ and the free Moleskine Notes iOS app. This system allows mom to turn anything she writes on the tablet into a digital file. No scanning required.

The Pen+ and its built-in camera picks up the code embedded in the pages of the Paper Tablet and uploads it to the Notes app. It is the perfect gift for moms like me who still like to take written notes. What can I say? I’m old school and I like tangible.

These gifts are sure to make the tech-loving mom in your life smile. I know they’d make my techy heart happy.

What’s at the top of your Mother’s Day wish list this year?

Disclosure: Some of these gifts on this Mother’s Day gift guide were provided to me for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

*This post is a sponsored post.

The elves have arrived and everyone is on their best behavior. Well, the kids are certainly trying to be. They want to be on the nice list. Me, I think the naughty list is more fun. Sure being a good girl is great for your reputation but being a little naughty gives a mama a lot more street cred, right?

Christmas is right around the corner, literally 10 days away. It’s been an exhausting venture up to this point. The good thing to do would be to drink lots of water, take lots of deep breaths, have lots of patience and enjoy soaking in every single second of this holiday season but sometimes that’s not possible.

Sometimes, kids are bickering, presents need to be wrapped (because that fat dude in the red suit never seems to wrap anything), you’re exhausted from all the holiday activities and you really just want a stiff cocktail or two and your Netflix. You could do that, and I have, but that usually lands you on the naughty list because life gets infinitely more naughty when cocktails are involved. Either way, none of us is naughty or nice all the time and I think we all deserve a little something nice this holiday season.

I love my tech and T-mobile has some great presents available for that special someone on your naughty or nice list this holiday season. Here are a few of my favorites.

iphone 6 plus, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple iPhone 6s Plus in rose gold 128 GB
With 3D Touch, Live Photos, 7000 series aluminum, A9 chip, advanced cameras, 5.5-inch Retina HD display and so much more, you’ll see how – with iPhone 6s Plus – the only thing that’s changed is everything.

ipad air 2, plus, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple iPad Air 2 64 GB
At just 6.1mm, the thinnest iPad ever is also the most capable. It has a re-engineered 9.7-inch Retina display, the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a powerful A8X chip with 64-bit architecture, a new iSight camera, an improved FaceTime HD camera, faster wireless, iOS 8, iCloud, and up to 10 hours of battery life. It also comes with great apps for productivity and creativity. And there are many more apps available in the App Store.

iphone watch rose gold, T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

Apple Watch Sport: 38mm Rose Gold Aluminum Case w/ Lavender Sport Band
To wear it is to love it. Receive and respond to notifications in an instant. Track your daily activity. Control your music using only your voice. Pay for groceries just like that. With Apple Watch, important information and essential features are always just a raise of the wrist away.

• Anodized aluminum case: this custom alloy is 60 percent stronger than standard aluminum, but just as light.
• Light and tough Ion-X glass display: The display is protected by a lightweight aluminosilicate glass that’s especially resistant to scratches and impact.
• High-performance band: The durable fluoroelastomer band is remarkably flexible, light, and soft. Fits 130 – 200 mm (5.12 – 7.87 inch) wrists.
• Requires an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus and iOS 8.2 or later.

T-mobile agrees and for a little fun, they are daring you to take their Naughty or Nice Quiz and share your results. I confess, I scored high on the naughty side. What about you?

T-mobile, Naughty or Nice, Holidays, Christmas, gifts, giveaway, Visa Giftcard

GIVEAWAY!
Whether you make the naughty list like us and will be buying your own gifts this year, or if you make the nice list and need some extra cash to buy presents for those you love the most, I’m partnering with T-Mobile to give away one $50 Visa gift card.
Entering is easy:

Simply take the T-mobile Naughty or Nice quiz and share your results on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram using the hashtags, #GifTMobile, #AllIWantforXmas, and #Sweepstakes and tell me in a comment below.

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on December 22.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you naughty or nice this holiday?

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