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March 26, 2017

Is it better to write off mileage or actual expenses?

Filed under: Business Tips — Tags: , — admin @ 9:50 pm

The Federal mileage deduction rate changes each year and is 54 cents a mile for tax year 2016. You can deduct your actual expenses such as gas, oil changes, tires, brakes, transmission and other repairs as a percentage of miles driven. Or you can deduct straight miles. If you own an economy car, you will get a better benefit from deducting using the standardized mileage rate which is in my case about triple what my actual expenses are since I drive a Toyota.

However, if you drive an inefficient car which has expensive parts, guzzles gas, and depreciates a lot every year, then consider both options.

As a Mobile Notary, you need to keep your mileage book updated every time you get in your car — what a pain. But, the deduction can wipe out perhaps 70% of your income leaving you owing hardly any tax! Additionally, you do not have to pay self-employment tax on Notary income (ask for the advice of an accountant and read the SE section of your tax book.) Unfortunately, there are no instructions for how to fill out the forms.

I was asked to fill out two schedule-C documents. One for the portion of my income that was notary income and the rest for mobile fee income which I did pay self-employment tax on.

This is complicated, no accountant will understand what to do, and the IRS will probably misguide you, so good luck and look forward to being audited. But, as a mobile notary, between the mileage deduction and no self-employment tax on notary income, you will owe less than half of what you would normally owe on the same income.

As a Notary, you can determine that in a signing of ten signatures — if your state allows $5 per signature you could arbitrarily decide that $50 of the income from the signing was for signatures and the rest for travel fee. In California with $15 per signature you could say that in many cases the whole signing was travel fees. Or just go through your notary journals at the end of the year and count up your various signatures and see how many there are. Do the math your way just as long as you do it correctly!

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February 19, 2017

Need an NNA Alternative?

Filed under: Business Tips — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:53 pm

NNA is a very reliable and quality organization that has been helping Notaries with education, supplies, background checking, and a world-class technical hotline for years. We at 123notary recommend them highly. However, their fees can be a bit high for some budgets, and you are probably thinking of alternatives for your Notary needs. Some claim that NNA has gotten too big, and is no longer the optimal source for Notaries to rely on. I refrain from having a personal opinion on this matter, although I would say that you should analyze your various Notary needs, and find the ideal source for each need rather than relying on one-stop shopping unless you feel that one-stop shopping makes more sense. So, here are the alternatives.

Signing Agent Education
(1) 123notary offers good loan signing combos with solid marketing advice and the convenience of take home course in printable, online, or take home book.
(2) We recommend Notary2Pro if you want thorough training and hand holding. they train their Notaries better than anyone else. Their courses are not as affordable as 123notary’s and do not have the marketing expertise that 123notary does, but they excel at nuts and bolts technical training.

Background Checks
NNA and Sterling are the two acceptable names for background checks. So, if you want an alternative to NNA, try Sterling.

Directories
SigningAgent.com used to deliver more jobs to Notaries than it does now. Over the last six years it has gone down hill from what I’ve heard.
(1) 123notary is a good source for high paying notary work
(2) SnapDocs is a good source for low-ball signing work for beginners
(3) NotaryRotary is the runner up for a mix of signing agent work ranging from top-notch to low-ball.

E&O Insurance
Notary Rotary and other organizations also sell Notary E&O insurance. Not sure who has better prices, but you can shop around.

Supplies
There are various companies around the nation that offer supplies, Notary Rotary being one of them. Personally, I always relied on NNA as my sole destination for thumbprinters, acknowledgment pads, carry-all bags, and anything else I needed.

Summary
NNA seems to be the best destination for one-stop Notary shopping. However, the alternatives might offer better prices and in some cases better quality especially for signing agent education, background screening, and directory marketing. However, for E&O and supplies they would be my first choice. I am not here to make your decision for where you should go for what. But, compare the competition for each type of items or services that you need, perhaps try each option out, and then optimize your decision making skills!

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October 18, 2016

FASS has a brand new app

FASS has a new Faxing App you can download. This app is so important since so much faxing is required. I don’t know how the app is used since I don’t do faxing anymore. But, the following banks below require fax backs on many of their documents. See the list.

Ditech Financial, LLC Investment, Second-Home, and Non-Rescindable properties or when notated in special Instructions, 100% of the entire package MUST BE scanned/faxed back immediately and you would need to plan your schedule accordingly.

Freedom Mortgage- certain critical documents on all Freedom signings must be scanned/faxed back immediately.

Bank of America- certain documents on all Bank of America signings must be scanned/faxed back immediately and you would need to plan your schedule accordingly.

Wells Fargo- CRITICAL DOCS on all Wells Fargo signings MUST be scanned/faxed back immediately and you would need to plan your schedule accordingly.

All other lenders: Some lenders might require critical or all documents to be faxed back on case by case bases.
***Please be sure to review the Signing Agent Checklist for faxback requirements. Documents should be scanned/faxed back within 4hrs of completion of signing.
*** You must upload all documents to the order prior to closing/completing out order. If you complete the order prior to uploading the documents, the upload feature will not be available and a traditional faxback would be required at that time. (Quality issues will not be voided.

Will this app change your life? Has anyone used it?

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Apps that Notaries have never heard of that could change your life!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16311

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October 10, 2016

A comprehensive guide to Notary organizations

Are you a Notary? Do you want to join some Notary organizations? There are many of them out there. Some help educate Notaries while others have helplines or hotlines. Some sell Notary supplies while others help Notaries advertise their services.

123notary.com
http://www.123notary.com/
123notary.com has been around since 1999 and helps Notaries advertise their Mobile Notary services online. Title, Escrow, Signing Companies, Attorneys and individuals love using 123notary to find some of the best trained and most experienced Notaries anywhere. 123notary also sells loan signing courses and has a very entertaining and informative blog. Check out their list of signing companies with reviews to see who you should and shouldn’t be working for.

National Notary Association
https://www.nationalnotary.org/
The NNA has been around since 1957 as a California Notary Association to help Notaries with educational resources and tools. In 1964 it became a National Association. NNA sells Notary supplies, errors & omissions insurance, education to help pass the Notary exam and become a signing agent, andmore… Advertise your signing agent services on signingagent.com

Notary Rotary
http://www.notaryrotary.com
Notary Rotary has been around for decades and offers a very potent way for Notaries to advertise their services. They also sell seals, and E&O insurance. Signing Agents can place an add and get found based on how close they are to the zip code being searched for.

SnapDocs
http://www.snapdocs.com/
This organization makes it easy to find newer Notaries who work for cheap as well as providing a system for downloading documents. More seasoned Notaries are complaining that SnapDocs is contributing to the lowering of fees in the industry. We recommend this organization for newer Notaries who want to get their foot in the door.

American Society of Notaries
http://www.notaries.org/
ASN offers a phoneline for technical support just in case Notaries have a question while on the job. They also sell Notary supplies and more.

American Association of Notaries
http://www.notarypublicstamps.com
Buy your stamps from the AAN!

Notary Café
https://notarycafe.com/
Notary Cafe is a smaller directory of Notaries that seems to specialize in the more serious Notaries. We do not have records to show how popular their directory has been in the last few years, but they have been popular for a long time.

Pennsylvania Association of Notaries
https://www.notary.org/
Need help becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania? Try this organization.

California Association of Notaries
http://www.calnotaries.com/
This is yet another Notary directory.

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You might also like:

Snapdocs — see our feed for posts about this company
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=snapdocs

The State of Notary Advertising in 2015
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13625

The Towles Booth (pronounced Tolls)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=9456

Why the Notary industry went South
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16500

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October 4, 2016

SnapDocs has a new feature for bank auto pay within 30 days

Tired of not getting paid on time? SnapDocs (our competitor) has a new feature which we think is helpful. I’m not sure how the feature is used, but you can arrange that companies will auto-pay you within 30 days. Most Notaries are tired of waiting, and not knowing when they will be paid. To be guaranteed payment, and not even have to deal with checks sounds like a wonderful arrangement. Ken has an even better arrangement which is getting paid Paypal up front.

I wonder how you guys would feel if 123notary had a system where slow paying companies would be denied our future search algorithms? That would eliminate a lot of the bad traffic from 123notary and give you only the best. I’m not sure that would help our site, or help you guys that much, but it would make your lives safer and perhaps more pleasant.

Let me know what you think

You might also like:

SnapDocs — all articles (string)
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=snapdocs

You want to get paid well as a Notary, but do you merit a good rate?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16687

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August 2, 2016

How to find a Notary mentor

Many new Notaries want to set up shop and get going. The problem is that they don’t know how. They haven’t mastered their Notary skills and have no idea how to complete a signing or even get a signing. They need a mentor — and fast! But, how do you find a mentor? Actually, there are various types of mentors, and that is something more critical to understand than anything else.

You can get an actual human being who lives near you who can be your mentor. If you are lucky, they will let you tag along at signings and explain things to you. You could also find someone far away who can coach you. The problem is that most Notaries who are good at Notary work might not be good at teaching Notary work, and even if they are, they might not care about teaching you.

Those who are too close to you might see you as competition. We’ve had many stories on 123notary about how a mentor trained someone new out of the goodness of their heart. The next thing you know, that new Notary steals all (or a good portion) of their mentor’s clients and puts their mentor out of business. It has happened many times.

So, what type of mentors should you be looking for? We suggest finding many sources of knowledge and help, as you cannot depend fully on any particular source.

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1. Hotlines
NNA has an amazing hotline. They are great at helping out with technical questions about ID’s, credible witnesses, out of state forms, international issues, and more. 123notary does not have a hotline, but people routinely email us asking us questions and we are happy to help. Some people call Carmen at 123notary, and she is very seasoned in all aspects of the Notary and Signing Agent process.

2. Local Mentors
Get one in the next county over so you are not in direct competition with them. Mentors know that you might cut into their market share, so they will be unlikely to help you if you are within 30 miles. To be safe, you can consider 50 miles. If you can go out on a few signings with them, that might really help out as you will have hands on experience with the documents and procedure. Just make sure you do your studying first before you go out on an assignment, so you’ll have some knowledge about the documents. Seeing the documents a lot is different from having a solid knowledge about what the salient features of the documents. So, don’t fool yourself into a false sense of confidence.

3. Far away mentors
If you can find someone who is great at answering questions over the phone, but is too far away to actually visit. 123notary has many Elite Certified Notaries throughout the nation who are excellent. I think that NNA used to have an official list of mentors that was nationwide. I am not able to find that list on the web anymore. But, if you want to mentor, just post a reply to this article.

4. Courses
Many Notaries want a mentor when they haven’t actually studied. There is no substitute for book knowledge. It is hard to find a good mentor unless they like you. But, it is easy to find a book. 123notary offers loan signing courses that will get you started in about two weeks. You can take our online test and be officially 123notary certified which counts for a lot when advertising on our site. You will learn all the pertinent terms, all about the basic documents, signing procedures, marketing, and more.

5. Blogs
Many Notaries have caught on to the idea that they can get free knowledge and advice by reading blogs. NNA and 123notary have excellent blogs with great technical and marketing information in addition to entertaining stories, and more. To use the 123notary blog effectively, it is better that you understand how the categories work. Here are a few categories we recommend:

The 30 point course
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3442

Loan Signing 101
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=2053

Hospital & Jail Signings
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3251

How to get work & Who is getting work
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3264

Best Humorous Posts
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3241

Technical & Legal
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3244

We also have many subcategories under Marketing, Humor, Popular Posts, types of documents, and more.

6. Companies that micromanage
I learned more about loan signing from Nation’s Direct than from anywhere else. They taught me the ropes and were there on the phone to get me through my first 100 signings. They don’t pay that much, and Notaries complain that they micromanage, but they are a great place for newbies to get started in my experience. We have a list of companies that hire beginners. Those companies might tell you more about loan signing than any “mentor.”

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You might also like:

Companies that hire NEW signing agents!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=7059

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July 19, 2016

What types of loans do you know how to sign?

Please don’t say, “I sign them all.” Few Notaries really sign them all, so saying you sign them all makes it sound like you don’t know the names of all of the types of loans. If you are dressing up your Notary profile, it is recommended that you clearly state a list of the types of loans and/or documents that you are familiar with.

Loans
Refinances (1sts, 2nds, Piggy Backs, FHA, VA), Conventional, Commercial, Residential, Modifications, Debt Consolidations, Debt Settlements, Purchases, Cash Sales & Purchases, Reverse Mortgages, Applications, Annuities, Helocs, eSignings, Time Shares, and more… There might be more that I forgot to include, but those are the main ones.

Documents
Many other Notaries do I-9’s, Wills, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, Affidavits, Auto Titles, Boat Titles, Permission for Minors to Travel, Contracts, and more.

The worst thing you can do is to claim that you have a good knowledge of the docs. That says nothing and sounds like baseless bragging. So, don’t be vague, and state the facts. Other facts about your service are helpful in you notes section.

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You might also like:

POA — Proceed on Alert
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14661

Can a Notary notarize a Will or Living Will?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=7088

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July 14, 2016

The UPS Quandry

QUESTION
You were given an airbill for UPS. There is a UPS box near you but no UPS station. However, there is a Fedex station nearby that you could use if you paid for the package. The loan is critical and won’t fund if the paperwork doesn’t arrive on time. It None of the contact people on your list are available for an inquiry. Should you use the UPS airbill as instructed, use the Fedex Station or wait until the next day to ask for further instructions?

I liked the venue question. That is a great example of how a wrong instruction could ruin the loan. When to be insubordinate!

ANSWER
NEVER add your own money for shipping; we are not in the favor or money lending business; they will appreciate but it becomes nearly impossible to be repaid.
“The loan is critical” – that is OPP (Other Peoples Problems); we work with what we are given.
As the UPS will not go out that evening it can be sent the next day; wait till next day – converse – and probably earn an additional scanning fee.

The scenario need the following assumptions added:

The UPS station is 30 miles away, it’s late in the day – you might make it and you might not.
The UPS box shows the daily pickup has already been made.
Your client is a new one, that you did not work with before, thus no trust relationship.

You might also like:

Should you send the Fedex right away?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16166

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May 10, 2016

Apps that Notaries have never heard of that could change your life

Here are some apps I researched that you might really like. The last app article we wrote was so popular, that we decided to create another one. Let us know which apps you are most “apt” to use in the future!

ORGANIZATIONAL

The 16 best scheduling apps
Just see this list and decide for yourself which one you like the most!
https://zapier.com/blog/best-meeting-scheduler-apps/

4 best shipping apps
These can be used with UPS, Fedex and other carriers. Read the list for yourself.
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224495

Wave
https://www.waveapps.com/
Create invoices wherever you are using your i-phone. Don’t wait until you get back home to bill that signing company, wave them an invoice right when you drop the package at Fedex. Wave will tell you if your invoices are past due, or have been viewed.

MileIQ
https://dashboard.mileiq.com
Track your miles for the IRS tax deductions with this app.

MileBug
http://milebug.com/
Keep a log and track your expenses on this popular app.

Evernote
https://evernote.com/?var=2
Evernote is a modern workplace that helps you can write notes of any type from lists, to research projects, to articles written by yourself or ones you found on the web.

NAVIGATION

On The Go Map
http://onthegomap.com/#/create
Map your route with On The Go Map with ease. You can even send it to your clients at a touch of a button.

Inrix
http://intrix.com/
Check road conditions at a glance. Map routes, get traffic maps and road alerts.

Waze
https://www.waze.com/
This app is a GPS, and community based traffic and navigation app. Waze will also help you find the cheapest gas on your route.

Beat the Traffic
https://www.beatthetraffic.com/
This app will tell you which route has the least traffic.

GENERAL

Lockify
https://lockify.com/
Send information to your clients encrypted. That way you ensure the confidentiality of the information just in case. Nobody has the key to your info — not even lockify. Your secrets will be bound, sequential, and under lock and key — all lockified up!

123notary.com/s
123notary.com/s
Look up signing company reviews. 123notary already has this for i-phones. It is a page, not an app, but what is the difference right? www.123notary.com/s

Gas Prices in US, Canada
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gas-prices-in-us-canada/ogiokghpcdfhbhfpmaapaniooojfigga?hl=en
This app helps you find out what up to date gas prices are like in any neighborhood in North America. Of course with gas getting so cheap, perhaps we don’t really need that app appter all…

TRANSLATION

iTranslate
http://itranslateapp.com/
Get Notary documents translated with this app. But, beware, not all computers translate as well as a professional human translator.

Google Translate
https://translate.google.com/
This is one of the most renowned hi-tech translation devices. Try it — it doesn’t cost anything.

iHandy
http://www.ihandysoft.com/apps.html
This app will help you translate directly from one language to the other. Just write a word or phrase in the box. It might really help when you have to ask your signer to raise their right hand and swear under Oath. “Tu jura esta documento es correcto?” “Oh, Ci….”

FICTIONAL APPS WE MADE UP

Notaryz
Find a Notary who does it all, and compare scores on standardized tests as well. (sorry, fictional app just for fun.)

Kullect
Trouble getting paid from signing companies? Use Kullect and let us do the work. We’ll harrass the signing companies until they pay you.

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January 12, 2016

Notary: The Art of the Decline — To new Jobs

Notary: the Art of the Decline – To new Notary Jobs
In a prior rant, I rambled on about declining to perform illegal activities; they definitely deserve and should always receive an unqualified NO. Here I will focus my oft grammatically incorrect scribbles at the decline. Nobody can accept every assignment offered, nor should they attempt to.

Why decline? The reasons are legion. For whatever reason, you do not want to accept the task that is being presented by the caller. Your key objective here should be to leave a pleasant and competent impression. Perhaps that 40$ lowballer will remember the great impression you gave and call you for a more realistic assignment at a later date. Your objective should not be to “get rid of the caller as soon as possible”. Each call is an opportunity to market your abilities.

It takes a lot less time to give some procedural advice over the phone than to do the job. Take a few minutes with the caller and showcase your knowledge. That works better with individuals than signing services. Perhaps your decline can morph into a postponement to a later date. As a minimum you should steer the caller to finding someone available. It’s not apparent to you, my reader; but that exact situation just happened to me. The caller needed a Will notarized, and unfortunately it needed to be done very soon. I do not qualify as the signature of the testator, the person who the will is for; must be notarized. In NY State, by a person who is both a Notary & Attorney. Having had similar calls in the past, I was able to direct the caller to a solution.

Sometimes the issues are much more complex. There are many ways to process the various documents that cross my path. Giving procedural, not legal advice is, to me; a proper form of public service. As notaries we understand our state laws and procedures. Sharing, to a caller some information on “what options you have that I am familiar with” does no harm. Of course some “trade secrets” are reserved for me to utilize. Giving “some” help is better than none.

Perhaps you have virtually no time at all to spend with the caller. It takes but a moment to tell them about http://123notary.com and perhaps Notary Rotary and Notary Café. Take a moment more to suggest the caller search using the zip code where the notary will be going. Often the caller thinks / assumes you are a walk in facility; and that is what they are seeking. I tell those callers that notaries are “sometimes” found at banks, pharmacies and law offices. No matter how little time you can allocate to the caller; you are always able to give some useful information. That will “mark” you as being helpful and caring; possibly the one to call for the next need.

No, I did not read “The Art of the Deal” by you know who; perhaps I should. But, I don’t think my notary function requires much deal making. Nor does it require declining many job requests. Some, yes; but not many. Thus “The Art of the Decline” will not be published by me. It all boils down to just being helpful. Make it clear you cannot accept the job, specifically say it’s not a money issue; you have “other” reasons for not being available. You really don’t need to give an exact reason; I simply say that I am “not available”.

Pay as much attention to your projected image with declines as you do with accepts. Think of it as contact with a potential future client. Perhaps a referral to a known to be competent “rival” is in order – and such arrangements often become bidirectional, a mutual advantage.

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You might also like:

Decline profitable junk work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15495

The Right to Decline Notarization
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14664

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