Brittney Hippensteel

We are very pleased to introduce you to Hamilton Wax Co….the quintessential “Shop Local, Shop Small Business” company.  Hamilton Wax Co has been in business for a year, based in Lancaster’s west end neighborhood of Hamilton Park.  Named after the neighborhood, this small business is run out of an 850 sq. ft. home that was built in the 30’s for the Hamilton Watch Factory workers and their families. The owner’s love for beautiful home goods, and simple design is where this dream began.

Brittney Hippensteel has a BFA in Graphic Design, but loves all kinds of art.  In addition to creating quality hand crafted candles, Brittney is a full time Graphic Designer.  She enjoys package design, photography, and social media marketing. As a self taught candle maker she has fulfilled her dream to make something tangible – outside the computer generated graphic design world.

Hamilton Wax Co offers 5 classic scents in 9 oz jars or 8 oz tins.  Holiday and seasonal scents are available as well. The candles are richly scented, soy wax candles poured in small batches. All candles are proudly vegan and phthalate free. Orders can be placed by visiting the Hamilton Wax Co website or locally at the following vendors:

Sophie Stargazer – 323 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603

Realm and Reason – 213 W King St, Lancaster, PA 17603

To get in touch with Brittney, please check out Hamilton Wax Co on facebook and instagram.  She can be reached by email at with specific questions.  Subscribe to Hamilton Wax’s eNewsletter through their website, and receive 15% off your first order!  



Workplace Tax Deductions

Chances are your career brings some tax deductions that you didn’t even know about!  Of course, with the new December 2017 tax law, it makes sense for most people to stick with the standard deduction than itemize each year.  But if you find yourself in the group of taxpayers for whom those itemized deductions are higher than the standard deduction, here are some workplace deductions that you can claim!

If you are self employed, the number of work deductions available are generally higher.  Some examples of these savings include your home office costs, car for business, and health insurance.  Included in health insurance are premiums paid on medical and dental insurance.

If you pay dues to a professional society as a result of your career, those can be deducted.  Union dues and expenses are also available for deduction.  The portions that are paid towards benefits or pension funds are not deductible.

Travel costs can also be deducted including mileage from your your place of employment to another work site.  These deductions are most common in careers such as sales, midwifery, residential service providers and the like.  Among the available travel type deductions are the cost of a passport if needed for a business trip and parking garage fees.

Work clothes, or uniforms, are one of the most common employment related deductions.  These can be taken when the uniform is required for your job and it is not suitable for wear in situations outside of your workplace.

Teachers from grade K to 12 who work 900+ hours a school year, can deduct up to $250 for expenses that are not reimbursed.  These expenses could include books, supplies, and computer equipment. Save those receipts!

As usual, we turn you over to the IRS or your tax preparer for more in depth info if needed on this topic.  The IRS has a comprehensive list with links to numerous different industries and their tax considerations.  Our office is open for questions as well as you plan for this tax season or the future!


Matt Landis

Introducing this week’s Local Businessperson, Matt Landis!  Matt has practiced law for 7 years since graduating from Widener Law Commonwealth in 2010.  He has his undergraduate degree from Susquehanna University as well. In September 2014 Matt transitioned from a firm in Harrisburg to Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP (RKG) and he’s been there ever since. His favorite part of his job at RKG is helping entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their goals. Matt works with a wide variety of businesses, learning how they work and how he can help them achieve their business goals.

If your company needs help with business law issues such as entity formation and governance, contract drafting and negotiation and business transactions, RKG is the place to turn.  They also assist clients with estate planning and administration, domestic relations, litigation and municipal law. Why choose RKG instead of another firm? Matt says his firm prides themselves in their flexibility in communicating with clients.  RKG also has alternative fee arrangements available for many types of projects. This provides an option aside from the traditional hourly billing model. They offer flat fees for many services, and also have a subscription option geared towards business owners and entrepreneurs to encourage proactive resolution of potential legal issues and predictable costs for businesses.

To find out more about how RKG can help your business achieve its next goal, call 717.293.9293 or send an email to  From there the firm is flexible and can be available to consult via phone or in person.  They can meet with you at one of 3 local offices or travel to a place that is convenient for the client.  Video conferencing is a popular option as well when necessary. For more information about this local business you can visit their website  or their blog at  RKG keeps their blog updated frequently with information on legal topics that may be of interest to clients and the community.


Your Family Budget

If you’ve tried to create a budget for yourself and stick with it, you know how challenging it can be.  Trying to expand that budget to include a family of four or more, only compounds this challenge.  We have several tips to help get you started with the task, and hopefully follow through!

Experts recommend starting any budget plan with a goal in mind.  There are a multitude of possible goals depending on your family’s current situation.  For some, that goal might be to pay off debt.  Others may be saving for a dream vacation.  A college education.  Retirement.  Whatever your goal might be, do the research ahead of time to determine how much money you will need to save and a timeline for when they money is needed.

Next you will want to decide whether to do an online budgeting worksheet or go with paper, pencil, and a calculator.  With this decision, it is best to keep it simple!  Choosing a budgeting tool that is too cumbersome means you will be more likely to abandon the budget long term.  There are several very simple online budgeting programs available.  You can select from a variety of excel type spreadsheet that can be set up as you like it.  If you want to go with a budgeting tool that has already been set-up for you, Kiplinger’s has a very easy to navigate sheet on their website. This budgeting program lets you delete or add your own expenditure categories as needed.

It’s time to start tracking your money, both in and out. With money out, list bills or expenses in their order of importance, greatest need first down to least.  For most people this begins with either your mortgage or monthly rental cost.  When planning for regular monthly expenses, budget high based on the most you’ve ever paid for that particular bill.  After you’ve calculated the total amount of money you spend on needs each month, compare that to the amount of income earned each month.  

The hard part is then figuring out which of the wants to cut out when necessary.  It is also important to budget money towards credit card debt every month.  Make sure you pay at least a little more than the minimum amount due each month so that you are putting a little towards the actual debt and not just paying off the interest.  Finally, be sure to budget in a certain amount each month towards the goal you set at the beginning of your budget planning.  This amount will be based on how much money you need to reach your goal and when it is needed.  However, in months where other needs take precedent or money is tight, it might not be possible to allocate funds towards this goal, depending on how crucial it is to your situation.

Creating and sticking with a budget can be a challenge, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.  Beginning to follow a plan is a great step towards reaching your financial dreams!