Monthly Archives: July 2022

5 Ways to Maximize Learning for the Contractor Licensing Exam

The contractor licensing exam is a big step you need to take in order to become a licensed contractor. To pass it, you have to prepare in advance. The more work you put in, the more it will pay off. But just reading books might not be enough. Here are five ways to maximize your learning as you study.

Create a Study Routine
When you’re trying to do something new, you need to train your brain to get used to it. The first few times that you sit down to study, you may find yourself distracted easily because you simply aren’t accustomed to it. Create a study routine that helps to relieve any outside stress and make it easier to focus. You might have a routine that takes as long as an hour, involving coordinating with other members of your household or getting a few chores done first. It might also be comparatively short, as simple as getting yourself a cold beverage and going to your study room. Whatever you decide to do, make it consistent. When you do the same thing every time you sit down to study, you’ll naturally start thinking about it.

Don’t Cram
Although you might’ve been able to get away with cramming in high school, it isn’t a particularly useful practice for adulthood. Much of the knowledge and skills that you need to have in order to pass the contractor licensing exam are things you should know for the job you want to do. Cramming isn’t practical because it doesn’t tend to lead to long-term absorption of information. Instead, break up your study sessions into smaller, manageable chunks. If you start to notice that you are reading to memorize facts and figures instead of building an in-depth understanding, take a break.

Review What You Learn
Learning experts say that you may have to come across the same fact several times before you can really remember it. Review and repetition is key to mastering a subject, more than just having a passing familiarity with it. Devote some time to each session for reviewing what you learned in the last one. You’ll start to notice that your recall is better, which is more important for doing well on the exam. As you approach your exam date, you should spend more time on review than you spend on learning new material. That way, your last few days emphasize long-term retention.

Learn How to Test
It’s easy to assume that having a firm grasp of the subject is enough to pass the exam, but testing is a skill that you have to pick up. Not everyone does well in a testing environment, particularly when there are time limits and proctors. One of the best ways to minimize stress or a poor test result is to get some practice time on the test itself. Most of your studying might happen with few time limits or pressures to get things done. As you get closer to the exam, it’s important to add time to practice working with the type of exam. If you can, take practice exams to help you figure out trouble spots and make improvements.

Get Professional Guidance
When you first decided to become a contractor, you had to spend quite a bit of time working under the guidance of an expert. For the exam, it’s a great idea to take the same path. Teens who get professional assistance in preparing for big exams tend to get higher scores. Similarly, if you take a course that helps you prepare for the exam, you get the benefit of expert guidance designed to help you get a passing score. At CSLS, we offer a variety of courses that cover the subjects you’ll need to know in order to pass the exam.

The more you learn prior to the contractor licensing exam, the better you’ll do. These tips can help. For more information about our expert courses, visit CSLS today!

How to Save for Retirement While Running a Contracting Business

When you work for a company, you might have options to save for retirement that come with the job. As a business owner, you have different choices to make. Here are a few things you should know about saving for retirement as a contractor.

Types of Retirement Savings Accounts
There are a few types of retirement savings accounts that you should understand. They have several differences, so you should be able to distinguish them before you make a choice. These include:

  • 401(k)
  • IRA
  • Roth IRA

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan. It is possible to open a 401(k), even if you are a sole proprietor. Business owners might gravitate toward an IRA, which tends to cost less to set up and maintain. An IRA is an independent retirement account that people can contribute to, and most people can deduct the contribution from their federal taxes. You pay taxes as you take withdrawals. A Roth IRA offers a similar investment vehicle, but the taxation is different. People can’t claim Roth IRA contributions on their taxes, but they generally don’t have to pay taxes on the withdrawals.

Contribution Limits
For each type of retirement account, there are specific contribution limits that mostly depend on age. A 401(k) usually offers the highest limits. For 2022, people under age 50 can contribute up to $20,500 of their salary. After age 50, they can contribute an additional $6,500. For a traditional IRA, you can only contribute $6,000 per year, or $7,000 per year if you’re over 50. A Roth IRA has similar limits, but there are a few more restrictions. Specifically, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA phases out at higher incomes.

How to Diversify
Diversification of your retirement plan is an important way to minimize your level of risk. People who put all of their retirement savings into one account may have a higher level of risk, especially if they aren’t investing in something that spreads out the risk like a mutual fund. It’s better to have more than one account or investments in multiple arenas, just in case one of them ends up losing a lot of money. It’s wise to consult a financial advisor, particularly if you don’t have much experience with investing. They can help you evaluate your retirement goals and diversify your portfolio in a way that helps you achieve them.

Importance of Compound Interest
The reason many financial experts recommend that you start saving as soon as you can is the benefit of compound interest. Most savings vehicles allow you to compound the interest that you earn, which increases your principal over time. For example, take an investment of $10,000 that increases in value by 5% each year. After the first year, you’re calculating the increase based on $10,500, not $10,000. As you continue to make contributions, the value of your investment grows both ways. Over a period of decades, you can turn a relatively small investment into something that you can live off of during retirement.

Increasing Contributions Over Time
For most people, the amount of money that you’re willing and able to save goes up over time. Inflation changes the value of necessary items like housing, medicine or food. You don’t want to be caught saving too little because your original plans were based on a cost of living that doesn’t make sense anymore. Instead, get in the habit of saving, and make periodic increases when possible. You might not be able to contribute the maximum right now, but you can always work toward it. This is particularly important for contractors who can’t start saving early in their careers. Adding more at the end might not give you as much compound interest, but it will still help.

Saving for retirement may be more complicated as a contractor, but there are ways that you can start working on it now. For more information on what you’ll need to be a successful business owner, contact CSLS today!

5 Signs of Heat Illness to Watch for in Your Contracting Business

When the weather starts to heat up, people who work outside need to watch out. Heat-related illness can be serious or even deadly, particularly when you spend most of your time out in the hot sun. Here are five signs to watch for in yourself and the members of your team.

Heat illness can be extremely dangerous on the construction site, particularly when it leads to dizziness or disorientation. Not only are people at risk of getting sick as a result of the heat, but they may also be working with equipment that makes them a danger to themselves and others. People who are feeling dizzy or disoriented may not realize that they are making unsafe choices. For example, they may stumble into areas where others are operating equipment. Feeling lightheaded is a good indicator that you need to stop what you are doing and get to a safe place for a break.

Hot/Dry Skin
When people first start to suffer the effects of heat illness, their bodies will produce sweat as a way to help cool them down. As such, people who are dealing with some kind of heat illness might be sweaty or damp. As the body loses the ability to cool down, they often stop sweating. It can be hard to tell sometimes, as someone may have damp, sweaty clothing but dry skin. Be wary of the amount of sweat that you produce, particularly on very hot days. Drink plenty of fluids to replenish your body’s supply. A lack of sweating might be a sign that the heat illness is getting worse.

Muscle Pain
When people sweat a lot, they lose more than just water. The sweating process depletes the body of minerals and salts. Athletes often consume specifically engineered sports drinks that are designed to help them replenish everything that they lose during a workout. People working on the construction site may need to do the same. If they don’t and choose instead to drink more water or coffee, they may start to notice muscle cramps or pain. These cramps begin as a result of the muscles losing those salts and minerals, which causes them to seize.

Once people start to feel dizzy, they may suffer from headaches or nausea. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of factors and might be too easily dismissed as an upset stomach or insufficient sleep. However, these conditions can make it harder for people to pay attention to what they’re doing, which increases the risk on the site. As such, if you notice either of these, you should encourage the person to take a break, find a cool place to sit down and medicate for the discomfort as needed. If it doesn’t go away or gets worse, they consider seeking medical attention.

Unusual Pulse
As your internal temperature starts to increase, your heart may attempt to compensate by increasing its function. As a result, people who are starting to feel the effects of heat exhaustion or heat stroke will often have a pulse that is faster than normal. A fast pulse isn’t something that people will necessarily notice, particularly if they are doing a lot of heavy labor. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the people working around you, and check-in with them periodically to see how they’re doing. Someone with a fast pulse that feels weak probably needs medical attention to keep it from getting worse.

Avoiding heat-related illness is difficult for construction workers in the summer, but it’s not impossible. Following these tips might help you to save a life. To get started on your construction career path, contact CSLS today!