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Archive for October 2015

What To Do This Fall

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Slow down and enjoy fall

Slow down and enjoy fall

As of the publish date of today’s blog we are over one month into the autumn season. If you enjoy the change of seasons, this time of year is probably a special treat as we are just past the peak season of fall foliage in most areas of the United States. For the sports fan this is a time when all 4 major sports are playing. Football season is hitting full stride as colleges are getting into the conference schedules and rivalry week is fast approaching. Baseball is about to crown its champion and Hockey and Basketball seasons are about to ramp up.

In case you are wondering how to take advantage of this time of year I thought I would list what I have done so far this fall and also list what I would like to do – my wish list for the next two months.

So far this fall I have done the following things that maybe of interest to you:

  • I have watched several college football games including homecoming. The local University is in its first season in the FCS division (formerly known as division 1-AA) level. They are the Kennesaw State Owls and are doing well so far.
  • A bicycle ride in the glorious sunshine at a slower pace – yes, it is okay to smell the flowers when the season is coming to an end. I can ramp it up again in the spring.
  • Relax with a cup of steaming hot coffee (or your favorite morning beverage) on the deck or back porch and ease into the day.
  • Take the dog to the dog park and enjoy some outside time for yourself at the same time. (Fido won’t know what you are doing)
  • Roast a turkey in the oven now that it is cool outside and it won’t heat the house up. I just did a five-pound, fresh, never frozen turkey breast and it was delish!

Below is my list of some things I hope to do in the coming weeks:

  • Take a ride in the car and stop when I some to an interesting place to have lunch or dinner – preferably outside. Sure, it is okay to plan to be spontaneous just don’t have any details in mind.
  • Find some real apple cider at an orchard or roadside stand and warm it up and enjoy it with a cinnamon-sugar sprinkled donut.
  • Eat a homemade pecan pie made by my sweet, dear mother who is the best ever! I hope the selfish and obvious flattery works.
  • Take my sweetie to Ted’s Montana Grill (Ted as in Ted Turner) and have a turkey dinner which is their Sunday special.

Apparently I plan to do a lot of eating in the coming months. Read my blog next spring “how to lose weight after a fall of non-stop activities revolving around food”. I hope you see an idea or two that you may want to try. Have a good week.

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Written by pacelinebiz

October 26, 2015 at 8:01 am

Ideas For 2015 Year-End Preparedness

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No more taxes - or Taxed Enough Already

Tax Planning Can Be Fun!

I realize it is not even November but year-end planning is a pain and can be more effective (and easier to stomach) if the extra year-end stuff is done over a longer period of time than at the last-minute when you don’t have the time and are prone to rush and make mistakes. I will keep the list to a small number of items because if you achieve these it will be better than not getting anything done at all.

  • Update your vendor master files with correct addresses and most importantly tax ID numbers for vendors who will be receiving a 1099 in January. Begin asking for the IRS W-9 forms (click here for a copy) from your vendors now and any future ones at the time of first doing business with you when they are most willing to do so since they want your business.
  • Any items that have been left to a “suspense” or “ask my accountant” account on your books need to be taken care of and moved to the correct expense account.
  • Adjust your loan balances to reflect principal and interest not just the entire payment going against the loan balance. Your year-end accountant can do this but it will cost you at the going rate. If you don’t have an amortization schedule from your lending institution there are many on-line programs that can run one for you that you can print and save for the life of the loan. All you need is the payment amount, interest rate, number of payments, start date of the loan and original balance.
  • Make sure your payroll tax withholding accounts are correct. At the least you can make sure you have the payroll records ready so the tax preparer can do this task for you.
  • Make sure you have reconciled your bank account for every month for the entire year. Along with this; take time to organize the bank statements, loan statements, record of business estimated tax payments made, if applicable, and other similar documents so it saves you time and money when the tax pro begins his or her work.
  • Gather any copies of asset purchases that were made and have them ready for the tax preparer (see above). Also, make sure that the new piece of equipment is in the machinery and equipment account as an asset not buried in office supplies expense.
  • Schedule an appointment to go over tax planning for early December if you are having a better than or worse than expected year. You might be able to reduce your final estimate tax payment or have time to prepare to increase it to save penalties if things are going well. If you do the items suggested above they will be very pleased and it will save you money on the tax preparation bill.

Have a great week getting organized.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

October 19, 2015 at 8:01 am

My first Honda automobile – A review

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My Owner Has "Trust Issues"

I am not perfect

I bought a 2015 Honda CR-V in June and after driving it for 3 months I thought I would give you my impression. This is the first foreign car I have ever owned and I will be reviewing the base model. I wrote about the reason for getting a Honda here.

I guess I will start with the reasons I am writing the review; the negatives.   So far none of these are a reason to go back to Chevrolet but as you will see it is disappointing since they are so easy to correct and so unexpected.

  • There is no automatic headlight option! My goodness the GM products I have been driving have had this option for as long as I can remember. I know my 2002 Pontiac Gran Prix had this. I haven’t had to remember to turn my lights on or off for so long that this is a major inconvenience to get accustomed to.
  • There is no variability setting for the intermittent wipers! Is it really intermittent if it is just one speed? What I have is a low, medium and high option. This is ridiculous because I know GM’s had true intermittent wipers since the 1970’s.
  • No XM satellite radio availability. This is available for the luxury model but I have rented econo-boxes of all makes and models and they have XM.
  • No dashboard tire pressure reading option. The car will let you know when the tire pressure is below a certain level but I can’t look on demand to see the pressure. I didn’t think this would be a problem but after driving cars for years with the option it bothers me.

When adding those four items up it really detracts from the initial excitement of driving what I thought was the standard that other cars are measured against. It is especially disappointing knowing how easily this could have been avoided. There are other minor things I dislike but they do not rise to the level of stupidity for me to mention in much detail. The two I can think of are the “clunky’ dashboard display and the driver’s side mirror has a split display that makes me disoriented and I don’t know what purpose it serves. I will have to read the manual in my free time – perhaps when I am retired.

  • To be fair I will add some positives but unfortunately the positives will mostly not be enjoyed for another 5 or 6 years. Those are the reliability and quality after 100,000 miles and beyond. I can add some that I have already enjoyed and here they are:
  • I am very pleased with the very smooth ride and seamless shifting of the automatic transmission.
  • I also give two thumbs up for the power and responsiveness.   If I was writing for a car magazine I would call it excellent “throttle response”.
  • The car has an overall pleasant drivability and a good turning radius which helps getting in and out of tight spaces. The rear view camera is also ok but is really just a gimmick that I haven’t noticed to be very useful. I think this is a 2016 government requirement for all SUV’s that Honda decided to include for 2015.
  • The fuel economy is very good with 29 in mixed driving and about 32 on the highway at speeds of 75 miles per hour.

In summary, the good outweighs the bad especially as I get accustomed to the small aggravations. In the long run the car will be a winner as long as the reliability is as good as advertised. Have a great week.

KPI’s – Use Them To Run You Business

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Use KPI's As A Dashboard

Use KPI’s As A Dashboard

I recently gave some advice to someone that had recently started a business after spending his career with large companies in the corporate world. It is a big change coming from a large company to running your own much smaller company. The person I spoke with had a very good handle on his business and my advice to him was that he needed to develop some fundamental reports, data points or metrics in his business he could use to evaluate and monitor the success of his company. These are typically called Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and they differ for every business since each business is unique.

Today I thought I would share some of what I wrote to him and perhaps it might be useful for you to begin using KPI’s in your business or maybe add a new one that you didn’t realize might be useful.

A few thoughts about your KPI’s:

* Your KPI’s should be what you use to manage your business like a dashboard on your car, not necessarily traditional financial statements like income statements (P & L) or balance sheets
* You could possibly have KPI’s that are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.
* They should be as simple as possible
* Sacrifice precision for timeliness – be close enough to spot a trend but go overboard to be exact if it is not needed (usually “good enough” is good enough)
* Ease of generating reports is a highly desirable attribute – cost of creating versus benefit derived (keep it simple)
* Not all KPI’s need to be expressed in dollars- tracking customer complaints/satisfaction by employee or supplier could be a meaningful metric
* Along the same line don’t be too focused on sales – be focused on profits. $500,000 gross profit on $1,000,000 in sales or $2,000,000 in sales is the same gross profit – with less effort!
* Don’t just count the “beans”, knowing where they come from is important too. Track referrals and other sources of sales. Consider things like sales by Zip Code over a period of time. Why are they going up or down? This KPI would be used on a periodic basis like quarterly or annually.

I hope that reading this may have triggered an idea of what you might want to add to your list of KPI’s or perhaps tweak them. If you don’t have any KPI’s think for a minute and I bet you can list items you are tracking to monitor your business. It might be a good idea to share this and make it a formal report for everyone in your company who has a part in the success of reaching your goals.

Have a great week.