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(53)Childcare Finances - Some Money Basics

         
Sole proprietor, Inc, LLC, - What does it all Mean? Your childcare is a business. While you may not need to formally create a legal business, there are options to consider if you have an especially large operation, or employ more than one person. From a legal standpoint, different types of entities provide limited liability. This is something you would want to discuss with a lawyer. Different entities also provide different tax advantages and disadvantages. The type of entity really depends on the business and how many people own the business. An accountant should be able to advise you on the best entity for your situation. What can you deduct on your taxes? Any why would you want to? Each time you claim something as a deduction on your taxes, you reduce the amount of money the government can tax. By reducing that amount, you can reduce how much tax you pay, letting you keep more of your money.
A simple rule of thumb to remember is any ordinary and necessary business expense is deductible. Keep in close contact with your accountant, and find one if you don't have one. Regular meetings or discussions with the accountant will help in working through what is considered ordinary and necessary for your business. Be sure to keep in mind all the expenses you incur when doing business - ie., don't forget things such as mileage on your vehicle. Trips to the bank to deposit your weekly daycare income, for instance, is an ordinary and necessary business expense that is deductible.
Who has time to file receipts after a day with the kids? Even though resting from your busy day sounds better than filing you receipts for groceries that week, stay on top of your paperwork and make sure you keep records of all the money you spend on your business. From the IRS point of view, the more records and documents to substantiate your position, the better. Invoices, receipts, credit card statements, bank statements and cancelled checks are all good evidence of the expenditures incurred. There are also several accounting programs - available at any store that sells computer software - that are inexpensive and work great for tracking expenses and providing useful financial reports. Several online companies sell software specifically for childcare providers. Be sure to set up a filing system for your records. It doesn't need to be fancy, as long as it makes sense to you and you can find your records once tax time comes around. Keep work and personal expenses separate Having a separate checking and savings account for your business will make keeping track of your finances a lot easier. Sure, you have to balance another checkbook, but you'll know that all money in and out of those accounts has to do with your business. Also, consider getting separate credit cards for the business. When you use all of these accounts exclusively for business, it is much easier to put all your records together, rather than trying to separate out what is business and what is personal. Ahh, taxes. Where do we start? Tax laws are so specific to your state and city, that it's hard to give even general guidelines. You may want to check with a local accountant or state and local tax authority to find out if there are any special rules, permits or taxes that you may need to run your business. Paying your taxes quarterly might be an option, so you can spread the payment out over the year instead of paying it all at one time.
About the Author
Melissa Newby is the cofounder of www.daycarematch.com
Bob Sawicki is a CPA practicing Tax and Financial Planning in Madison WI. He can be reached at sawicki@tds.net.

Written by: Melissa Newby, MS, Bob Sawicki, CPA
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(54)Commercial Collections: Business Finance Booster Shot


If commercial collections is not part of your B2B business plan, you're losing money. Get your cash flowing again with these commercial collections secrets.
Commercial collections: fixture of the new B2B culture
If you're in the business-to-business field, or even if you're a consumer products business that works through third-party distribution channels, you probably know what it's like to check your mail anxiously each day, sifting through all the bills for that payment that was supposed to have been in months ago.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. If you were a good, honest businessperson who dealt with other good, honest businesspeople, "commercial collections" wasn't supposed to be part of your vocabulary.

Back in the good old days, an invoice or purchase order that had an established company listed in the "bill to" field was almost as good as a cashier's check. Nowadays, if you're in the business of serving other businesses you may find that your cash flow is less reliable than a small-time bookie's.

Commercial Collections: A Personal Story
This past April I finally got the $2,000 a client owed me for work done in December, after spending almost as much money's worth of my time reminding them to pay.
No, this wasn't one of those hand-shake deals-we had a 5-page contract specifying net-30 payment terms. Nor was this some guy with a lemonade stand. It was the media division of one of the largest retailers in the United States.

The worst part was, I trusted this client based on my experience working with them a few years before. I actually spent the money on Christmas presents, fully expecting the payment to come in before my credit card statement.

Avoiding Outstanding Invoices
Of course, you can nip this problem in the bud by cultivating strong relationships with clients who pay on time. But those clients are getting few and far between-and, as I found, the good can go pretty bad pretty fast.
Worse, it seems that the larger the business, the less likely they are to pay on time. "Net 10 days" might as well be a foreign language in Fortune 500 land. The long-standing advice given to B2B businesses and self-employed people is that the money is in big corporations. But good luck getting it from them before your rent is due.

What I Should Have Done
Looking back on my experience with the deadbeat corporate client, my biggest mistake was doing it all myself, with writing the letters and making the phone calls. With an hourly rate of about $75, I ended up spending the time equivalent of a large chunk of my $2009 fee.
I should have gone to a collection agency. I just didn't know then that were collection agencies that would take on small business debts and run the whole process for you for as little as $20 per debt.

Of course, I also didn't know that going to a collection agency didn't necessarily mean "putting an account in collections." Many collection agencies are in fact refashioning themselves as "accounts receivable management" specialists; they'll even manage your invoicing from end-to-end if you want. The client may not even realizing that the person on the phone is from an outside agency and not your own personal assistant.

When I think of all the value of the time I spent collecting that last $2,000, I could kick myself for not handing it over to a collection agency. But, I can always look forward to putting this knowledge into practice the next time I have a client who's slow in paying.


About the Author
Steve Austin is a regular contributor to Let No
Debt Remain Outstanding (http://www.let-no-debt-remain-outstanding.com/),
a website with articles on choosing a collection
agency, along with recommended the best collection agencies.

Wood Profits Banner Written by: Steve Austin


   (55)Considering a Mortgage Refinance

 


If you are looking for a mortgage refinance, it never hurts to shop around for the best rate and deal. Shopping around could mean the difference between paying or saving thousands of dollars in closing costs, and interest fees'.
If time happens to be on your side, and you don't need to refinance your mortgage immediately, take some time to educate yourself about the mortgage industry.
By educating yourself about the mortgage industry, you are essentially putting yourself into the driver's seat.
There is so much mortgage jargon, terms, and definitions that will be thrown at you when considering a mortgage refinance, that it is impossible for any one person to understand everything.
It is not necessary to become an expert in the mortgage industry. You just need to have somewhat of an understanding. This way, while you are shopping around for a mortgage refinance, your decision on which lender you want to work with, will be all the more educated.
The mortgage industry is a very competitive one, so by shopping around, and making it clear that you are shopping around to the lenders or brokers you are dealing with, they will be forced to come back at you with the best deal possible. They know that they are competing with other mortgage companies, and they will not want anyone else to get your business, so they will offer you the best rate available to them in order to keep your business.
Keep in mind when a loan officer or broker offers you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it just may be, so be careful. You don't want to get to the closing table only to find out you are not getting what you thought you were getting.
Remember, before you commit to a lender, ask for everything they told you to be sent to you in writing, this way you won't have any surprises at the table.
This is why it is so important to educate yourself about the mortgage industry.
With just a fair amount of knowledge, you will have a general understanding of what you are being offered, and you will be able to determine whether or not the deal is reasonable.
My suggestion to you would be to allow for up to four loan officers or brokers to assess your situation. Whichever one comes back with the best, and most reasonable deal, should be the one for you to consider.

About the Author
Jennifer Hershey has more than twenty years of experience in the Mortgage Industry as a loan officer. She is the owner of http://www.explainingmortgages.com/, a mortgage resource site devoted to making mortgage terms and products easy to understand.

Written by: Jennifer Hershey


.(56)Create and Maintain a Budget - Finance 101


The first step to avoiding the troubles of financial debt is to create and maintain a budget. Itís not as intimidating as it sounds, donít worry.

First off, create a list of all your monthly income and also a list of your monthly expenses. When determining income, list all sources including alimony, child support, side jobs, etc. In calculating expenses, be sure to include housing, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. To gain an accurate reflection of actual expenses, sit down each night and write down expenses, just make sure to save receipts. Determine if your income covers all of your expenses. If the answer is no, then some expenses need to be reduced.

Adjust expenses. If it is a small discrepancy, it may mean reducing some minor expenses like entertainment or cell phone plan. If the deficit is larger, you may need to downsize your vehicle or living arrangements. If your income covers all of your expenses, you still may want to trim some of the excess fat off your spending habits. This can free up extra money for things such as vacations or college funds for your children.

Additionally, consider if you need to add new categories. Some areas that are often overlooked are debt reduction, emergency savings funds, and retirement savings. An emergency fund ensures there is an adequate amount available to cover unforeseen events (car emergency, etc), should it arise. This will eliminate the need for using credit which can quickly damage your budget.

There are several advantages to sticking to your budget. Firstly, most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach in the future. Sometimes it may be a trip, a brand new car, or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality. Additionally, many people are crushed under heavy consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending, it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing debt. A personal budget will provide the necessary framework to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.

If executed properly, a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debts. Therefore, it is anyoneís best interest to create and implement a budget.

Cut Back on Spending

At first it may seem difficult to limit spending and stick to a budget, however there are a few practical changes that you can make everyday that will cut your spending more than you expect.

Firstly, alter credit car behavior. Start to pay cash whenever possible. This will help you avoid making a purchase unless you actually have the money available. If you decide to make a credit card purchase, be prepared to pay the balance off monthly. This will save a lot of money through avoiding interest charges. If you already have a credit card balance, then transfer to a card with a low interest rate. Also, find a card that does not charge an annual fee.

Another tip is to pack your lunch everyday. All of those lunch hours spent at restaurants will add up. Bringing your own lunch can save you several dollars every day, which will add up over time.

Use your cell phone during off peak hours. Some people will spend a couple hundred dollars a month on phone charges. Avoid this by making most calls during off peak times. Check with your service and plan to find out when you have cheaper or unlimited calls.

Stop throwing away the Sunday newspaper before skimming through the advertisements. Clip some of those coupons and check out the sales. This may seem tedious, but the savings are often worth it. Many stores will double or triple the amount of the coupon. This technique can save you up to 20 or 30 dollars each time you head to the food store.

Additionally, refinance. Mortgage rates have been extremely low over the past year. This has been a great opportunity to reduce the monthly house payment significantly. If you are planning to have your house paid off prior to retirement, then you may want to factor this in before refinancing.

Finally, bundle your insurance. Many insurance companies will offer their customers lower rates if they purchase multiple policies. For instance, some people use the same agent for multiple cars, and others combine their cars and house. Always keep in mind that a dollar here and there really begins to add up. Avoid the temptation of thinking that changing your spending habits wouldnít save that much money.

Start Saving! So you are loaded down with bills to pay each month and are wondering how you can begin a savings account for emergencies and other high-expense endeavors. In other words, where can you find that extra cash to put away for later? Firstly, when configuring your budge, plan for your savings first. You will grow richer each month if you begin to pay yourself first. Before paying any bills, decide on a set amount that you will pay yourself firstómaybe five or ten percentóor whatever you decideóof your paycheck. Then, deposit the amount into a savings account before paying any bills. When you do this at the beginning of the month, your entire paycheck will not suddenly slip through your fingers. If you wait until the end of the month, there may be nothing left to save. Paying yourself first will give you a systematic way to make your money grow. Regardless of your profession or your income, this system will work if you stick to it. Another technique you may try for saving money is to empty your extra change into a coffee can or a jar each day. At the end of the month, roll the coins and put them into your savings account. You may be able to save 30 or 40 dollars each month just with your spare change. Remember that good money management is more than just a mathematical formula. Itís too closely tied with the ups and downs of living to be just that. Your money management plan is always subject to change if your life situation changes. The object of a good budget is to make your money go the farthest in helping you reach your goals, it is not there to force to you to abide by rules. Donít get discouraged if the budget plan doesnít work perfectly right away. It may involve some revising and editing until it fits your needs. Then, make sure to review it often, and be sure it is making the best use of every penny! Because we know how helpful those spare pennies can be!

Avoid Spending Pitfalls! With all the advantages that are evident from personal budgeting, it is no wonder that more and more people are relying on them to reduce debts and increase their savings. However, all ëbudgetersí need to be careful to avoid some common pitfalls that appear often.

Credit cards may seem like small pieces of plastic, however they can cause a great deal of trouble for the owners. It is common for people to make unwise purchases, which they would have avoided otherwise, because they had the credit card in their wallet. The best solution for many people is simply to get rid of credit cards and begin paying only by cash, check, or debit cards. You may want to keep one card handy for emergencies, but it is probably best to keep it out of reach, and far away from your wallet.

Another problem with budgeting is impatience. There are financial goals set, but people do not have the patience to complete a savings program. For instance, an individual begins setting aside money for a new car; however, after a few months they discover the car of their dreams. Rather than waiting, they make the purchase. This could pose some serious financial strains. Discipline is a must to prevent impatience from breaking your budget.

Once a person makes a budget, they often fail to adjust it when necessary. A budget is created using a set of expenses and income figures that are liable to change. As these figures do change, it is important that the budget changes to reflect the adjustments. There could be some major deficits if this is not done appropriately and promptly. Of course nobody forgets about Christmas or Hanukkah, however many people do not consider budgeting for holidays when creating a budget. Therefore, adequate funds have not been set aside for presents, food, parties, etc. These items should be factored in and saved for throughout the year. Finally, many people factor in transportation and accommodations for vacations in their budget, however they underestimate money needed for food, entertainment, and spending money. Keep in mind that all the resorts and tourists areas are double or triple what you would normally pay. With a little planning, youíll be on your way to saving more money than you ever thought possible!

Easy Money-Saving Changes One of the most obvious and easy ways to save some extra cash is to change some of the way you use products and items in your everyday life. The key is to make minor changes. For instance, always buy the cheapest hand soap you can find. The quality doesnít necessarily go up with the price and you can use it in place of ëbath soap.í Always use the whole product. Turn bottles upside down and drain to get the last bit from them. Tear open sugar and flour sacks to get everything; squeeze or cut open tubes to use it all before running out to buy more. Youíll be surprised at how much there really is left!

Also, never use more than you need. Just because it says on the box that you need a full cup, doesnít mean that you really do it need it. Half a measure of laundry detergent and a half teaspoon of dish soap are examples of what are usually enough, rather than what the manufacturer says.

To save some cash, you can use some of the things in your house in some unique ways. Instead of spending lots of money on the fancy floor cleaners, try using ammonia. It does a great job, and you can use plain water in between times. If your furniture needs some polishing, mix equal parts of white vinegar and vegetable oil and rub on the furniture. Buff with a cloth until it shines.

For a freezer bag, use empty chip bags and close with masking taps. Also try a bowl with a lid, such as a margarine tub.

If your skin is feeling a little dry, there are several substitutes for expensive lotion. Petroleum jelly rubbed into your hands at night after a warm water soak, mayonnaise (rinse w/ cold water after), or any other oil based food. Just be sure to put it on immediately after your hands have been in water.

To save some money on laundry, dissolve a bar of handsoap in water to replace laundry detergent. Add three gallons of hot water, mix thoroughly and add a cup of washing soda.

Sure, these are small changes, but added up, they can put some extra change into your pocket throughout the year!


About the author:

William Nabaza of http://www.Nabaza.com specializes in domains, webhosting, webmaster's tools, netpreneur's articles and resources. Stands out as a freebie provider, business opportunity provider and the like. Visit his site at http://www.nabaza.com or contact him directly at william@nabaza.com more free articles here: http://www.nabaza.com/ecommerce.htm

Written by: William R. Nabaza of http://www.nabaza.com/ecommerce.htm


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