Planning a Family Reunion in Texas? Try These 5 Bright Ideas |

Nothing makes for a ton of fun like having a good, old-fashioned family reunion. While to some people the idea of a reunion may seem a bit antiquated, in this “go-go” world of today, being able to get together with your family once a year is a nice way to connect with the ones you love and hold dear.But when it comes to family reunions, they can often be somewhat chaotic and stressful simply because there has to be some level of consensus as to what types of activities will be a part of the get-together & where the reunion will be taking place. If you’re already stressing over planning flights, taking time off (if applicable), or making sure you lose those pesky ten pounds before everyone sees you, the one thing you want to look forward to is killer activities that bring a smile to everyone’s face.Well, if it has been decided that your family reunion will be in the great state of Texas, you’re in luck. The Lone Star State has a lot to offer and quite a large amount of space with which to work. If you’re part of the planning committee for the ‘shin-dig’, here are five different ideas to make your next reunion absolutely rock:1. Family “Reunion-lympics” – Organized games, kind of like the yearly amateur Games of Texas, provide a way for family members to have fun with one another, engage in some friendly competition, and catch-up with everyone at the same time. Some games you could take into consideration are volleyball & horseshoes that can involve family members of all ages. You could even have a medal ceremony.2. Record Family Recipes – Put together the best recipes in a collection to be shared by the whole family. Since you’re in Texas, this could be chili recipes or even “King Ranch” chicken recipes. Make the title of the ‘cookbook’ the year of the reunion, which can be nice if you decide to make it a tradition that has multiple editions.3. “Pecan” Family Tree – Since you’re in Texas, incorporate the long-living Pecan tree into a neat activity. Impose a pecan tree on some poster board, and have everyone add their part to the whole family tree. This could get a little crazy in terms of entries, so you can also create a “pecan” computer file to which you add to, and you can use this to create a neat family tree book for each family.4. A “Bootin’, Scootin'” Talent Show – Give the whole family a chance to get their cowboy hat & boots on and put on a fun talent show. You can make it thematic to match your Texas surroundings & sing the best music the state has to offer. Given how diverse Texas is, this can include polka, Tejano, country, and rock music.5. Scavenger Hunt – Sure, Austin is nice, but why not take advantage of the Texas Hill Country & stay in the neighboring town of Fredericksburg, TX? You’re nestled a bit away from the city, which is great because you can have a fun scavenger hunt that takes advantage of the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.A Texan-style family reunion may be the perfect way to get the whole gang together for an amazing time, and if you’re lucky, “y’all” will hopefully call Texas your home away from home!

5 Ways To Make Your Business Work Harder for You and Your Family |

Many business owners are working so hard at their business that they fail to enjoy the rewards of being the business owner. If you are letting the life of your business overrule the business of living your life, then it is time to begin turning the tides.Finding ways to make your business work harder for you and your family is the reason we all started our businesses in the first place. If your business is obstructing your efforts to enjoy life with friends and family, this is a problem. We all know a lot of work goes into building a successful business, but if it is consuming all your time, effort and energy… is it worth it?Why this coordination is important:Every time you find new ways to help your family benefit from the efforts of your business, your life balance and family life improves.If your business consumes your entire life and your family life suffers because of it, your spouse and children may actually resent the time that you spend there. Even if it provides a great deal of income, the value of family and social life may be sacrificed.Make your business help you, your family and your social life. You will be happier, healthier and live a longer more rewarding life.5 Ways To Consider:Consider paying children’s education expenses as wages for workMany small business owners make a good living and have higher than average incomes. This can cause their family to qualify for little to no college financial aid when their children are ready to attend college.If you are going to have to pay for it anyway, why not pay your children to help out at your small business. Pay them as an employee, contractor or consultant to do work for you and your business.If you pay them enough to cover their college costs, you will receive a tax deduction for the cost of their college education by deducting their income from your business. They will be responsible for helping out with your business and they may surprise you with how much value they add to the business. New ideas, new technology, a new and different viewpoint might be just what your business needs.Schedule family vacations around business travelWhen a family vacation is something you’re considering, think about coordinating it around a work trip. Do you need to go to conventions, trade shows, seminars or other training for work? If you drive to go to those business activities, your gas mileage is tax-deductible regardless of how many individuals you have in the car with you. Does this conference or training trip require you to stay in a hotel? Your hotel expenses for that night can also be deductible regardless of whether you have your family with you in the room.Scheduling family vacations around business travel can help make it more manageable. This allows you to enjoy time with your family or friends while also working on your business. Consult with your spouse or family to coordinate the two.Manage taxable income and year-end purchases to lower tax bracketOperating and owning a business requires seeing the big picture and planning for the future. Your business will likely need new or updated equipment, computers, other technologies etc. to operate smoothly and efficiently. Be able to forecast these needs.Here is where you coordinate your tax situation with these needs. If you know you are in need of new equipment, computers, etc. in the near future, look at your taxes. If you are looking at a higher tax bracket for the year you may want to make these necessary equipment purchases sooner than expected. Or you may want to wait until next year. This requires consulting with your business advisor to determine the best option.Use Retirement PlansConsider reducing your current income by using a Retirement Plan. Not only will this help you once again for tax purposes, but it’s also helping you and your families future. So many small business owners neglect to put retirement needs on their priority list. Often we hear “my business is my retirement plan.” Putting all of your eggs into one basket can be extremely risky and even dangerous for your future.You may want to consider adjusting your salary in order to account for contributing to a retirement plan. There are many ways to rearrange things to make it possible to contribute. The tax savings alone can help justify the redirecting of your income into a retirement plan. Be sure to look at all of the different options and scenarios as this will provide further clarity.Also if you choose to offer your employees a retirement plan, this will help attract quality employees, retain them and allow for an additional tax savings for any company match. You may even be able to take a few days off without worrying about the business functioning without you! Think of how that would allow you more family time. Consult with your financial advisor to clarify your options and the benefits to you, your business and your family.Consider adding or using a home office arrangementThere are many benefits of utilizing a home office arrangement for you, your business and especially your family. If you’re currently renting or paying for office space it may be feasible to create or use an office space at home. With technology today, working out of the house has become much more functional.If you’re solely stationed out of your home, this provides for another tax benefit. You are able to write off the portion of your mortgage that accounts for the square footage of your home office. Also any improvement expenses, internet expenses, utility expenses or taxes that are directly related to your home office may also be deductions. Finding ways to cut taxes is crucial for a small business owner.If your line of work makes it unable to be based completely out of your house, even just working a day or two from home will allow you to spend more time around your family and add some flexibility to your work schedule.Your Challenge:Here are 5 ways to help your business work hard for you and your family. Share your ideas with your spouse, children and business advisers. In every case that we have executed these strategies properly, the rewards were three-fold. Family life improved, your work-life balance improved, and the business also benefited.You’ve worked too hard to get your business to where it’s at… It’s time your business returned the favor!