Entrepreneur Feature: Kristy, Educational Technology

My name is Kristy Sevy.  I am a mom, wife, hair fanatic, and founder/CEO of FuzePlay (an EdTech company).  I have a background in Piano Pedagogy and Marriage Family Therapy.

I entered the startup world a little over a year ago when I decided to build FuzePlay! I didn’t have a background tech or business, but worked hard to develop the competence needed to run a company and develop a technical platform.

FuzePlay is an EdTech company that shows kids (and adults!) how stuff works. Our technology and toy platforms focus on making high level STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art, math) products that anyone can understand! Our main product is Zubi Flyer, a hackable frisbee that teaches coding in a fun and simple way: 1, 2, 3, | Build Hack Play.
I also launched a rad volunteer program this past year called STEAM Parents! In the initial phases of my startup I would visit schools and teach a simple circuit class; this was one way that I validated my ideas. As I posted on social media I started to get contacted by moms who were interested in volunteering at their child’s classroom. Parents were feeling the same pressures as I had been in regards to their children’s education, and wanted to help fill the gaps! So I replicated my process for teaching the simple circuit class in a way that any parent could teach. FuzePlay sends the lesson plan and all the materials for free! Moms have loved being able to bring something cool into their child’s classroom; not to mention it gives moms who aren’t so into the PTA (myself included) a way to contribute! We are accepting new volunteers now, so if anyone is interested, send me an email!

www.fuzeplay.io  Ig: @FuzePlay, @kristy_sevy; Twitter: @fuzeinteractive, @sevykristy; Read More

Are You Protecting Yourself from Tax Identity Theft?

By Jonyce Bullock, CPA

About two years ago the topic of identity theft became personal. I was aware identity theft happened; I had several clients who’d had their identities stolen, and I had attended hours of trainings on how to protect yourself from identity theft. However, on a certain level, I was in denial that this was something that could happen to me. After all, I had credit monitoring—I was fine!

Then one day I grabbed the mail on the way into my home and was casually flipping through all the junk, about to throw the entire stack away, when I noticed a letter addressed to me from Golden Valley Lending. My initial reaction was that it was just another piece of junk mail, but there was something about it that made me decide to go ahead and open it up. Inside was a not-so-nice letter explaining that I had defaulted on my payday loan and that they were going to commence collection efforts. My reaction at that point was still that this must be a scam, someone trying to get me to pay them. Like I said, I had credit monitoring—this couldn’t be real!

I spent the next several months unraveling what had happened, and I learned quite a bit in the process. Someone had obtained my personal information and had applied for eighteen online payday loans with Indian Tribe lenders. I learned that by doing so, this person bypassed the entire credit monitoring process, as these lenders don’t actually report to the credit bureaus. I also learned that the most likely next step for whoever had applied for these loans was to steal my tax identity.

Another annual income tax deadline has come and gone. Maybe you had to pay, but perhaps you were owed a refund. If the latter is true, did you receive it?

A lot of taxpayers didn’t, because hackers swooped in and stole their sensitive tax-related information. Tax identity theft is a serious problem, despite the IRS’s efforts to stop it.

But there are steps you can take to keep from being a victim, some of which are simply a matter of common sense. For example, consider the security of any wireless network you use when you’re working on your taxes. Don’t ever do so on a public network, and make sure your home or office wireless is password protected.

Offline Risks                 

You don’t have to be online to be at risk for tax identity theft. Hackers can grab your personal information in other ways. For example, do you ever carry your tax-related papers back and forth to work or some other location? Know where they are at all times; don’t ever leave them lying around where someone can copy your Social Security number and other details. 

Always be aware of your surroundings. If there are other people around when you’re working on your taxes—if you’re in a coffee shop or library, for example—make sure no one is reading over your shoulder.

Phone calls can be risky. A good rule of thumb is to never provide someone who calls you with any sensitive personal data—unless you can verify it was a call you were expecting, like one from your bank or a medical office. When you place a call to a legitimate number, it’s generally okay.

Other Traps

You’d think that a call from the IRS would be safe. In reality, the IRS doesn’t ask for personal information over the phone. They send letters through the U.S. Mail. If you ever get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the agency and is demanding some sort of payment immediately, hang up. This is a popular phone scam. You can always contact the IRS directly to see if there is some sort of issue.

Don’t make a practice of carrying your Social Security card with you. Keep it in a safe place unless you absolutely need it away from home for some reason. Also:

  • File your return early to keep a hacker from getting in line for your refund in front of you.
  • Reduce your refund by adjusting your withholdings at work. It’s nice to get that big payment after you file, but couldn’t you use that money throughout the year?
  • Request direct deposit of your refund. That way, no one can steal your check out of your mailbox or somehow re-route a paper payment.

Online Thieves

Be especially careful if you’re preparing your taxes on a website. Before you even begin, investigate the publisher’s security protocols to ensure that your very sensitive tax-related data will be treated with great care. Also, update any applications that will be involved, including your browser and antivirus/antimalware tools. 

The IRS will never send you an email out of the blue asking you to click a link or download an attachment or fill in fields to update personal information. In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid taking those actions ever unless you’re expecting an email and can verify the sender’s address.

Finally, use a very strong, unique password—one you don’t use anywhere else. You’re probably tired of hearing that piece of advice, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re working with a tax preparation application.

Take Action Quickly

It’s possible to get stung by a tax identity thief even if you’re being careful. If it happens to you, you’ll need to complete and submit IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and watch for responses from the agency. Contact your credit bureaus and financial institutions to apprise them of the situation. Tax identity thieves sometimes try to open new credit cards, for example. You should also file a report with the FTC

Completing this affidavit was the final piece of recovering control of my identity. Once I filed this form with the IRS, I was assigned a PIN to use when I e-filed my tax return. The IRS would not accept a return using my personal information without this PIN.

Recovering from tax identity theft isn’t a quick process or an easy one. However, taking these precautions will go a long way in prevention. If you are a victim of tax identity theft, be assured that there is help available!

 

Career Day: Dentist

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Lucinda Hall. I grew up in Southern California and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from BYU and I graduated from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. I completed a one-year residency (called an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency or AEGD for short) immediately following graduation from dental school. During my residency, I had the opportunity to provide dental treatment for disabled patients in an operating room setting. I worked in the oral surgery clinic at a local county hospital, extracting teeth and draining abscesses for patients transported from prisons and detention centers as well as individuals who unfortunately have no access to dental care and come to the hospital oral surgery clinic as a last resort. I worked in community clinics in low-income neighborhoods, providing basic dental services for some of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. I worked with several dental specialists on all sorts of interesting surgical cases, the likes of which my professors in dental school would never have let me take on! I currently work in a family and cosmetic dental practice where I treat 2-year-olds coming in for their very first dental checkup, 92-year-olds who may only be coming to see me for a few more years, and everyone in between.

What does your job entail?

My job is to diagnose and treat problems with the teeth, gums, and other related structures within the oral cavity. Part of my job entails educating patients on how best to take care of the teeth and gums. Most dental problems are preventable! I screen patients for oral cancer and talk to them about their diet and about habits like grinding or chewing on ice that can damage their teeth. I spend a lot of time fighting tooth decay. I treat infections and extract teeth that can’t be saved. I restore dental implants and fabricate dentures for patients who are missing teeth. As a general dentist, I am responsible for providing referrals to dental specialists when needed and act as the “quarterback” of the dental team in managing patient care. On a typical day I might see 6-8 patients for treatment or new patient exams plus another 3-6 patients for checkups after their cleaning appointments.

What drew you to dentistry?

I participated in a career workshop at a dental school in Southern California during the summer between my sophomore and junior years at BYU. We took x-rays, carved teeth out of wax, met dental students and professors, and even sat in on a couple of lectures. One of the dental assistants helping me take x-rays remarked that dentistry was a wonderful job for women because of the flexible schedule.  I didn’t have any friends or family members who were dentists and her perspective stuck with me. Read More

Voices from the Past: Silk Culture & Industry

by Brooke Nelson Edwards

In 1893, Relief Society sisters from Utah made quite a stir at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The group of women from the western territory had won a gold medal for their silk exhibit. This unlikely outcome, which caught the eye of French judges and Japanese silk experts, led to the final surge of interest in Utah silk. Many had doubted that producing silk in such a dry climate was even possible.

The industry began just a few years after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Brigham Young stated, “I wish to see this people manufacture their own clothing, and make as good cloth as is in the coat I now have on, and as good silk as in the handkerchief around my neck, and as good linen as is in the bosom and wristbands of my shirt. … I want to see the people wear hats, boots, coats, etc., made by ourselves, as good as ever was made in any country.”1 Depending on which account you read, the woman deserving credit for the experiment varies. Susan Stringham reported that it was a “Mrs. Dunyon from Draper” who first approached the prophet about importing silk worms into the territory. In any event, by the mid-1870s, the Deseret Silk Association had been established and Zina D. Young, also serving as General Relief Society president, had been named leader of the enterprise. Before the end of the operation in 1905, more than 5 million silk worms had been brought and more than 100,000 mulberry trees had been planted.

Nearly every one of the 150 local Relief Societies in the area had participated. “The strong organizational structure of the Relief Society, combined with the spirit of sisterhood among the women, resulted in an effective cooperative system. Each ward Relief Society was asked to send one sister to Salt Lake City to be trained in the art of silk production. These sisters then returned to their own communities to educate others.”1

Sister Stringham recounts how labor intensive the work of caring for the silk worms was. Eggs, as small as the point of a pin, were kept warm on paper until mulberry leaves were ready to eat in the spring. Then they were placed on special frames that took up an entire room in the house. Temperature had to be maintained at between 75 and 80 degrees and the worms had to be protected from any drafts and weather. The silk worms would molt every five days and required constant feeding. By the last two weeks of the worms’ growth before spinning, they even required feeding at night. Droppings had to be frequently cleaned as well.

Women were often surprised and overwhelmed by how large the silk worms could get and many discovered they had taken on more than their house could handle. “You could take what worms that you could place comfortably on your hand and they (placed on hurdles) when fully grown would fill a room sixteen by sixteen feet and eleven feet high,” Stringham explained.2 “At times some families had to move out of their homes to accommodate the ever-growing worms, which, if too crowded would not be able to breathe. One young woman reported that it was difficult to sleep with the sound of so many worms chewing, and that it was like a train thundering though the house.”1

Once the silk worms had finished growing they would spin a cocoon out of silky threads. A chemical was applied to kill the chrysalis and the women could finally harvest the long-awaited silk threads. One ounce of worms produced 160 pounds of cocoon material that then had to be boiled, spun, and wound. Relief Society sisters, many of whom were also active suffragettes, used some of this silk to make a dress for women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony.

Despite the success of the Utah silk makers at the World’s Fair, in 1905 the state legislature defunded the project and the church lost interest as well. The railroad made high quality silk from overseas much easier and cheaper to obtain than had been available previously.

Not much remains of the early Utah pioneer silk industry today. Most of the mulberry trees planted during that time to feed the insatiable silk worm appetites are gone. But Relief Society sisters proved that the “impossible” was indeed possible and that beautiful things can come from some of the most surprising of places.

 

Sources:

  1. “The Silk Industry,” http://www.stgeorgetemplevisitorscenter.info/by/silk.html.
  2. Susan A. Stringham, “Silk Culture in Utah,” The Woman’s Exponent, May 15, 1893, http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/WomansExp/id/32293/rec/3.

Other sources:

Spring/Summer Meetups

Our AMW Meetups are back in full swing, starting at the end of May and running through June.

If you’re in the Salt Lake City area, our meetup will be a tour of the Relief Society Building on Temple Square with historians Jill Derr (co-editor of the recently published The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History and who worked as a senior research historian with the Church History Department) and Cherry Silver (General Board of the Relief Society from 1990 to 1997 and who is currently helping edit and annotate forty-five years of diaries written by Emmeline B. Wells). Due to limited space, this is a ticketed, but free, event. So join us on Wednesday, May 24 at 7pm. For more information and ticketing, please go here. 

To find out if we’re having a meetup near you, visit and subscribe to our events page to RSVP and to stay up-to date.

Women who have attended prior meetups share that they appreciate face-to-face connection and networking with other aspiring Mormon women.

If you would like to have an AMW meetup in your area and are interested in hosting, please contact us.

 

Making God Your Divine Center

by Christina Shelley Albrecht

You know that President Benson quote, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can”? Have you ever wondered how to do that on a day-to-day basis?

I recently read a book that I consider to be a must-read for every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s called The Divine Center, by Stephen R. Covey. It addresses the confusion you sometimes feel as a member of the Church about the proper role of God, church, marriage, family, friends, making a living, and other things in our lives.

Have you ever heard someone say something at church or in conference that didn’t quite sit right with you? Did that person present his or her opinion as a general consensus or as an accepted doctrine, leaving you wondering if everyone else thought the same way and you were an outsider because you didn’t agree? Did you ever feel pressured to do something you didn’t feel right about inside? What do you do when you feel that way?

The answer given in The Divine Center sounds simple, and it can be, once you develop a trusting relationship with God: God is always first in your life, and He will let you know what to put second. And that won’t look the same for everyone. If you follow the Spirit and act in accordance with the guidance you receive, you will feel peaceful about your choice, regardless of how others respond. You will see God’s hand in your life as you move forward, acting on promptings you receive, and you will be amazed at what God is doing with you!

For example, a lot of aspiring Mormon women feel called to serve in the marketplace. Whether they are married or not, this can be a cultural challenge because of the emphasis placed on marriage and family. Many people see the role of motherhood as being a “full-time job.” The assumption is that if you’re doing it right, then you aren’t doing much of anything else, like spending a lot of time with your career. So, if you feel inspired, as I have, to dedicate tremendous amounts of time and energy on a mission you feel God has called you to do, how do you deal with the cultural feedback, silent or vocal, that what you’re doing is wrong?

You go back to God and make sure you’re on the right track, let His love and guidance strengthen you, and bask in the love and peace you feel, letting go of any concern that others may judge you for your choices. It’s not between you and them. It’s between you and God.

Putting God at the center of your life affects everything for the positive. It’s also possible to put things like marriage and family at the center of your life to your detriment, again, whether or not you are married. If your self-worth is based on your marital status, you’re on shaky ground, regardless of your marital status! There are obvious problems with being money-centered, possession-centered, pleasure-centered, friend-centered, and enemy-centered. But even becoming too centered on church activity and callings can be dangerous. The point is that the only abundant life is the life that is centered on God. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

While of course none of us is perfect, there are things each of us can do to always strive to be God-centered—especially when it comes down to the day-to-day time management needed to make our lives God-centered. Prayerfully planning my week ahead of time helps me sense what God would have my priorities be for that week. I schedule those priorities and then try to live flexibly, because I’ve noticed that the Spirit does a lot of in-the-moment guiding.

For example, a couple of Sundays ago, I woke up with this impression: Give your book to someone in the stake Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society presidencies. My response? “Okay.” I had no idea who was in the presidencies, how I would get their contact information, or how I would get them my book, but God knew, so I didn’t worry. And I was able to give them each a book within a week!

Recently, I prayed about what the Lord’s top priority for me to do that day was, and I felt I should email a former BYU professor of mine about a talk I’m developing. The working title is “12 Things from Church History that I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave Home.” Actually, I want every member of the Church to know these things, which is why they’re all included in my book and I’m developing a separate talk on them. When I emailed my professor, I was shocked to get an immediate response! But, should I have been? The Lord knew my professor’s schedule. He knew when would be a great time for me to contact him so he’d get the email and have a chance to respond. Still, I find myself amazed that the Lord is involving Himself in the details of my life in such a visible way. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

I want to end with President Benson’s full quote:

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

So, go for it! Prayerfully ask if you are doing your best to put God at the center of your life and how you can do it even better, and then act on the guidance you receive. I can tell you from personal experience that as I strive to put God at the center of my life, it’s more adventurous and fulfilling than ever.

Christina Shelley Albrecht graduated from BYU with a degree in linguistics and a master’s certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In the course of getting married and having children, she realized the need for books to support parents in having practical, effective, and fun family home evenings and daily scripture study. She originally compiled FHEasy: A Year of Weekly Teachings and Daily Devotionals for her family but also shared it with some friends. The feedback was so positive that she decided to publish it for all LDS families to enjoy. She has been surprised and delighted by the positive feedback she has gotten from single adults and empty nesters as well as families with children at home. She invites you to visit her website at FHEasy.com.

Personal Finance: Estimated Taxes – Do I need to worry?

By Jonyce Bullock, CPA

The 2016 tax filing deadline is barely in our rear view mirror and you probably don’t want to think about taxes for a long, long time.  However, now is exactly the time to start thinking about your 2017 tax liability so you can avoid penalties and tax liability surprises come next year.  Estimated taxes can be intimidating; but armed with an understanding of the requirements you can take charge of your personal tax liability and be better prepared!  If you are self-employed, thinking of starting a business, or find yourself having to write a check to the IRS each April – read on!

Paying Estimated Taxes? When You Should

It’s not just the self-employed who must submit estimated taxes. IRS obligations are pay-as-you-go.

Much as we may grumble about them, estimated taxes and payroll withholding are good things. Imagine preparing your taxes in April having not paid in anything through the 12-month tax period. Chances are, a large percentage of taxpayers would be filing extensions (which doesn’t get you off the hook for paying by the April deadline: You’re still expected to submit an estimate of the tax due).

If you’re a salaried or hourly employee of a company, it’s up to your employer to collect and submit an estimate of your income tax obligation every pay period, based on the withholding information you provided on your W-4.

The number of allowances you claim affects how much money is taken from each paycheck for taxes. If an insufficient amount is withheld, you may need to pay estimated taxes to avoid penalties.

But if you’re a freelancer or contractor who has no money withheld, the burden is on you. The IRS expects you to do the same thing an employer would: periodically (every three months) make a payment that approximates what you would owe for that quarter. Then, like everyone else, you’ll include that information when you prepare your income taxes, at which time you’ll either get a refund or have to pay in.

Everyone Is Subject

What this means is that the IRS expects all taxpayers to keep up with their taxes throughout the year. If you’re not having enough taken out of your paycheck, you should be submitting estimated taxes. You’ll avoid paying penalties, and you probably won’t have to file an extension.

Even if your withholding is working well for you, there may be times when you have extra money coming in because of things like alimony, interest and dividends, and prizes. You’ll need to factor this into your income. If you’re a sole proprietor, partner, or S corporation shareholder, and you believe you will owe $1,000 or more in taxes for the 2017 tax year, you’re expected to make quarterly payments. For corporations, the cutoff amount is $500.

Note: The IRS has different requirements for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and some high-income taxpayers.

Unless you’re paying electronically, you’ll need to visit this IRS page to print your estimated tax vouchers.

A Complex Calculation

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for calculating the estimated taxes you should pay every quarter. That’s why they call them “estimated.” And changes to the tax code aren’t finalized by Congress until the end of the year, by which time you should have made three payments (April 18, June 15, and September 15, 2017; your final quarterly payment is due January 16, 2018).

You can use the worksheet that the IRS supplies (you’ll find payment vouchers here, too). If you’re using accounting software or a website, it’ll be much easier to assemble the numbers. If your financial situation hasn’t changed much since the previous year, you could use your most recent return as a model.

The IRS offers multiple ways to make your quarterly estimated payments electronically. In fact, the agency encourages it.

Don’t Forget State

Do you live in a state that requires you to pay income taxes? If so, you’ll need to check with your state tax agency to see how to handle state estimated taxes. The Small Business Administration (SBA) maintains an online directory that you can consult to locate the appropriate website.

There’s no reason to add penalties to your tax bill when paying estimated taxes can help you avoid that. Although there is no quick answer for everyone on how much to pay; just knowing what your payment requirements are is an important step in planning for and managing your taxes each year.  If you need help calculating your estimated payments seek the advice of a trusted CPA.

Entrepreneur Feature: Rachelle, Counseling Practice

I’m Rachelle, and I am a Clinical Social Worker and an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker in private practice.

I started my own counselling practice, Happy Me Counselling, about 11 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. I felt inspired so I quit my job at a non-profit organisation and started my own counselling practice – with just one client! I now have a team of three counsellors (including myself) and an Administrative Assistant.

Through my counselling work with young children to adults, I have become really passionate about getting the most helpful and right tools that will make a huge different in their lives. As a result, I decided to launch an online shop.

The Happy Me Shop is an online website that lists the products I personally select – ones that I know can help families and educators. I use my expertise and clinical skills to test and then select unique and fun products to help with anxiety, stress, depression, ADD, autism, sensory issues, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills. I primarily focus on products such as fidget tools, books and toys that build skills and bring more calm and happy into people’s lives.

I also use blogging and my social media presence to advocate for normalising mental health and encouraging people to seek clinical treatment as they need.

What is your best advice for other (LDS) women entrepreneurs?

Never, ever, think you cannot do it. (And when you do, challenge that thought!) You are never inferior to anyone else, regardless of positions or callings. Believe this. Assert yourself when needed. And….get yourself a fantastic mentor!

There is no easy path, but if it’s the right path for you – it will work out. Maybe not how you expect, but it will work out.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

For my personal circumstances, it’s often been about sacrificing time. Having to prioritize time with my children and still juggle work, or even things like cleaning and shopping getting put on the back burner – again, and again, and again.

To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

I actually run a workshop that is called the “Five Keys to Private Practice Success.” I developed it around my learning from having a private practice. I will just share a few thoughts in each area.

  1. You – work HARD and believe in yourself, learn, learn, learn
  2. Your Practice – have processes in place and continually refine them
  3. Your budget and Income – be wise in how you spend money and always review this. Everything in business financially will impact your personal finances and vice versa.
  4. Your Clients – develop a niche that is needed within your field and become the expert
  5. Your Connections – utilize all your supports and connections, keep a list of who they are to remind you. Say “No” when it doesn’t work for you and “Yes” when you need help!
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