How to charge on a sliding scale

I don’t think I’ve mentioned lately how much I love Hadassah Damien, curator / writer / technologist / activist and “femme punk big sister of financial real talk” over at Ride Free Fearless Money.

One of the coolest things on her site is a really thorough explanation of how to charge on a sliding scale… also known as letting people pay what they can, within a set of boundaries, such that the people who pay more essentially cover the costs of the people who pay less.

Hadassah goes into detail on:

  • Why a business or organization that charges for events, services, or even goods might consider using a sliding scale (because: colonial capitalism!);
  • How to set up a sliding scale pricing system that won’t compromise your business’s financial sustainability; and
  • How to guide your customers toward the most appropriate end of the your sliding scale.

To that last point, she also just released a new-and-improved version of her own sliding scale fee guidance chart:


If you’ve ever been tempted to use a sliding scale for your business or organization, I highly recommend checking out the very useful resources Hadassah has compiled! Better yet, sign up for her newsletter for a regular dose of “nerdery and hustlerdom” (eg awesome money tips, ideas for hacking capitalism, and ways to hustle).

Thanks for the inspiration, Hadassah! ❤

Expensify this

My day job, as you’ve probably noticed by now, involves making YouTube videos for a small business audience. At a small business software company.

Expensify, another small business software company, just won that game with their Superbowl ad:

When my colleague Luda shared this with me last week it had fewer than 500 views; it has 7.2 million as I’m writing this. They’ll be paying an estimated USD$5.25 million to air the ad during the game, and I am so curious what percentage of those YouTube views they paid for. A lot of people are commenting that when they clicked to watch the video, the same one comes up as an ad, so clearly they’re paying more than they should have…

I was only half joking when told Luda I might as well quit, there’s no touching their big-budget over-the-top interactive star power collab sweepstakes approach. Definitely not my style, but still… wow. I catch new details every time I watch (”smoke a bong with a porcupine,” why not?) and I’ve watched it So. Many. Times. I even tried scanning the receipts but couldn’t get any of my blurry screenshots to scan properly in the app, which I already have on my phone because that’s what we use for our expenses. I feel so Silicon Valley right now.

Well played, Expensify, well played.

Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life

Of course this woman is one of my role models (Source:

I finally had a chance to read the new edition of Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, a book that had a huge influence on me when I first discovered it back in the late ’90s.

With this book, co-author (and now friend!) Vicki Robin sparked the FIRE, or  “Financial Independence, Retire Early” movement… though few people were aware of this until relatively recently. She is a huge inspiration to me, and I definitely aim to be like her when I grow up!

The new edition includes a wider range of examples from Millennial types, and the chapter on investing is FAR better aligned to today’s investing climate.

YMOYLIntrigued? Vicki has generously shared a VERY detailed summary on the fancy new YMOYL website, but I still suggest you buy the book, and spend some time with it!

In addition to calculating how much money we’ve earned over our entire lives, and what we have to show for it (aka our net worth; this is Step 1), we’re instructed to calculate our real hourly wage, a function of our life energy, and track every cent that comes into our goes out of our lives (Step 2). And we get into the habit of tallying up our spending by categories that are relevant to our lives, and we regularly convert those monthly spending totals into hours of life energy (Step 3).

But my favorite step by far is Step 4: Three Questions That Will Transform Your Life: Continue reading “Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life”

When should you hire an accountant?

When I was running my publishing company, I used my (sadly, rather inept) accountant exactly five times: once to set me up on my accounting software — a disaster through-and-through — and once a year for the four years to do our taxes.

If I had known then what I know now (businesses that use accountants regularly grow their profits 23% faster!), I would have made an effort to find an accountant that was a much better fit, and I would have consulted them far more frequently.

Here’s a video I made recently for Xero that goes over the critical times when it’s a good idea to hire an accountant.

Cloud accounting: good for business

I hope I don’t need to explain why it’s important to do your business accounting. (How the heck can you make strategic business decisions without knowing what’s going on under the hood?!)

But if you’ve never tried using cloud accounting software, aka accounting software that lives online vs on your computer, you’re in for a treat. I recently made the video above describing all the ways that cloud accounting makes your business life That Much Easier. Check it out if you need more inspiration to make the switch!

Yes, a specific cloud accounting software company pays my bills. Yes, they charge a subscription fee. Yes, I 100% believe it’s worth it (and I wouldn’t be working there if I didn’t believe in what the company is doing). Yes, there are alternatives, both paid and free, but buyer beware; sign up for the free trials, kick the tires, talk to your biz friends and advisors to find out which software they use and what they think of it. But by all means, free yourself (and your business financials) from your desktop!

Death and Taxes

Creative people, get your finances together!

Listen via iTunes

The life of an artist is typically all or nothing and so is their taxable income. As such, many accountants don’t have the patience to guide creative clients through the motions of each financial year.

Introducing Paco, founder and director of the HellYeah Group – a boutique bookkeeping agency aimed at creative folk needing financial support. Paco joins me to discuss some of the financial holes creatives find themselves in and how she assists them in getting their finances and lives on track. “For a lot of people it’s feast or famine so a lot of times they have to come up with the patchwork of incomes or different revenues streams and at the beginning at least you either have to have a pile of cash that you can rely on or you need to hustle your ass off so you can build a pile of cash so that you have flexibility there in terms of cash flow timing,” says Paco. Listen in for more recommendations from Paco and to hear about her incredible entrepreneurial journey.

It’s brave and completely inspiring.

Accounting 101 with Liz Mason

When you’re a startup, you only have about a billion things to think about. So it’s understandable if accounting isn’t top of mind. That’s why I worked with Liz Mason from High Rock Accounting to produce this 37 minute online course, designed to provide the accounting basics you need to know to become a successful small business. It covers:

  • Why accounting is better in the cloud
  • Basic accounting definitions
  • Track what’s important (ie, enough to glean meaningful insights, and not so much that you get bogged down in unnecessary detail)
  • Payroll concepts
  • Integrations with other small business software

Raising capital without selling your soul: interview on the Small Food Business Podcast


It’s always a pleasure to serve as a guest on other people’s podcasts. Back in November, Jennifer Lewis interviewed me for the Small Food Business podcast series. They released the episode today, saying:

Many of us start our small businesses with a broader mission or vision for what we’re hoping to achieve beyond just dollars and cents. In today’s podcast, we talk with sustainable small business expert and author Elizabeth Ü about how mission driven businesses can raise the capital they need in an environment that seemingly values the bottom line above all else.

But my favorite part about this podcast is the end, when I had the opportunity to describe how my passion for supporting small business owners ultimately led me to take a job with an accounting software company: Continue reading “Raising capital without selling your soul: interview on the Small Food Business Podcast”