Holiday Budgeting

This is a very expensive time of year, which is why it is important to spend within your means. Luckily, there is still some time before the gift giving begins, so follow these guidelines to make sure the holidays don’t put you in the red.

1. Set a budget and stick to it: There are tons of apps that can help you manage your budget, but it is important to not go over the amount you are comfortable spending. Going into debt over the holidays will only bring your mood down.
2. Start saving now: Skip out on your morning Starbucks ritual and make your own coffee. Think of ways you can cut back to make sure you have the funds to buy for everyone on your list.
3. Never underestimate the power of a handmade gift or card: The holidays are about demonstrating your love and appreciation to those around you, so never doubt that they wouldn’t love a handmade gift or a card filled with kind words. Show them you care without breaking the bank.
4. When in doubt, cook!: Pulling off of number three, cooking for people is an affordable gift. Homemake their favorite cookies, pie, or other treats!
5. Space out the buying: Start buying now to spread out the burden all at once.
6. Look for sales: There are already sales everywhere. If you know what you want to get people, watch the retailers for sales on the item!

What is QuickBooks?

Quickbooks is an accounting software perfectly suited for small to medium-sized businesses. There are different versions and editions, but the basic premise is to allow businesses an easy system to accept payments, manage inventory, pay bills, and complete payroll.

There are also add-ons for tax preparation and features for marketing, merchant services, product and supplies, and training. Quickbooks allows a streamlined way to manage businesses’ accounting functions without paperwork. There are also reporting tools so you can see exactly where the business stands. For some, Quickbooks can be a confusing, time consuming tool. Therefore, for small business, it is more efficient and effective to hire a bookkeeper to manage your Quickbooks account. As the company grows and internal accounting is preferred, ask us for a Quickbooks training session to learn the ins and outs of this popular software.

Payroll for Small Businesses

Small business owners are busy and may not have time for all their tasks, yet their employees deserve to be paid on time.This is a task that can easily be accomplished by a CPA. Not only will your employees be paid in a timely manner, complete payroll services include:

1. Payroll entry and calculations to ensure each employee is paid appropriately.
2. Direct deposit of paychecks can easily be achieved and tends to be a favored perk by employees.
3. E-Payment of Payroll Tax Deposits
4. E-Filing of all Federal and State payroll tax returns so you are always in good standing with the IRS.

A CPA can also offer after-the-fact payroll services, such as catching up on past due payroll tax returns and updating all of the books. A CPA can easily remove all payroll pressure and make filing your taxes a breeze!

Bookkeeper vs. CPA

The term bookkeeper normally refers to a sort of clerk who keeps the books and maintains transaction histories for a company. An accountant can also complete such tasks, but may also focus on reporting, analysis and possibly offer advice of the business transactions. Sometimes a bookkeeper can work in tandem with an accountant, but there should always be a strong relationship and degree of trust between the accountant and business owner.

Small business owners may not need to hire full time professionals, but they should always consult someone from the beginning. An accountant may not be necessary depending on the industry and size, but the more complex the organization, the more important it is to ensure the books are handled by an experienced CPA. If full time is not necessary, a CPA can consult with the business and touch base periodically to make sure the books are being maintained properly. Otherwise, errors may only be caught at the end of the year. If books are set up properly from the start, this is a great measurement tool for growth.

Vacation for Small Business Owners

School will soon be out for the summer, which means beach trips and road trips. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, the key is to relax and enjoy the things you love. This can sometimes be harder for small business owners who have to ensure their business operation runs smoothly while they are away.
1. RESEARCH – The more you know the better you will feel. Make a list and don’t forget to include restaurants, various types of transportation, payment options and visa requirements.
2. PACK LIGHT – We have all been guilty of packing things we never use and going through airports with the uncomfortable overweight luggage. Plan not just your trip but the essentials you will need and leave the rest behind. Don’t forget we always want to bring back more than we take. Save room for those rare finds that you will remember for years to come.
3. REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE GOING – You need to plan well in advance but leave some time open to breathe and enjoy life. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the beautiful landscape, unplanned conversation, unexpected stops, and well deserved down time. After all, vacation is a time to relax so leave open time to sleep late and enjoy life.
4. CALL YOUR CPA – If something is going to go wrong, it will while someone is on vacation. Make sure your accountant is on standby to fill in for those expected emergencies.

What TO SPEND Your Tax Return On

Tax Day has officially come, so now it is the season of returns. If you’re one of those lucky people getting some money back, don’t splurge! Use this money wisely and watch your money and life grow!

1. Education: Whether this is a college fund for your children, paying off your student loans, or investing in skills for your own future, like design or language classes, this is a great investment! Investing in yourself is always worth it- just don’t use this concept for buying clothes or items that depreciate!

2. Outstanding Loans: Any loans, debt, mortgages, car, or student finances there are accumulating should be paid off so you can live debt and worry free!

3. Savings Account: One way to “use” the money is to create a savings account/ rainy day fund for those unexpected expenses that happen in life such as medical bills. Your future self will thank you!

4. Necessary Items: Though these are more splurges and the above items are more important, we all have those “necessary” items we need. Make sure these are practical and truly necessary, but if you need a new coffee maker to fuel your days or a dining room table to seat your family, treat yourself with this extra cash!

What to NOT Spend Your Tax Return On

Tax season is under way which means tax returns are too. Though this may seem like a little extra cash, this is a great time to save and take advantage of the added bonus, even though you technically already earned it. This month, we’re listing some things you should NOT spend your tax return on. Be wise with you funds and invest smartly in yourself.

1. A new boat: If you’ve been interested in a boat and done your research, then by all means go for it. But if you just decided you want a boat on a whim, make sure you look into the costs of docking, storing, and maintaining a boat. This is not a cheap hobby.

2. A new car: Unless you need a new car, cars tend to be poorer investments since they lose a great deal of their value the second you drive off the lot.

3. Frivolous Purchases: This is an all encompassing category, but each person has their own vice. If you like expensive liquor, clothes, jewelry, tools, etc, this is the category for you.

Most of those objects have little return on investment, and a tax return is a great time to decrease any outstanding debt you’re paying off, save for future investments (i.e. children’s college or first house), or spend in something you truly need or have spent time thinking about, like an upgraded kitchen. Spend wisely this season and watch your investments grow!

Married Couples: File Jointly or Separately?

The IRS STRONGLY recommends married couples file their taxes jointly. For most couples, there are tax breaks that make this the most economical option. This is because most joint filers reach a higher income threshold for certain taxes and deduction, meaning there is potential for certain tax breaks. If you decide to file separately, you are disqualified from many tax deductions and credits.
Additionally, if couples file separately, they are limited to a smaller IRA contribution deduction and cannot take deductions for student loan interest or tuition and fees deductions.

However, in certain situations filing separately might be beneficial. This is mostly due to a large out-of-pocket medical expense, as the IRS only allows a certain deduction amount of these costs that exceeds 10% of you adjusted gross income. If you and your spouse have a high household income, it can be hard to claim these expenses.

Filing taxes is dependent on each couple’s situation, but make sure to research or contact a CPA to find the way that saves you the most money.

Tax Season Prep

Tax season is right upon us, which means it’s time to prep. You will need the following information as part of your tax preparation:

-W2 for self and spouse
-1099-S forms for income from sale of a property
-Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid
-State and local income taxes paid
-Vehicle license fees based on value of vehicle
-SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received
-Records of IRA contributions made during the year

This is just a quick snapshot of some of the items you may need. For more complicated or individualized cases, a CPA can file your taxes for you to guarantee the they are filed properly and you obtain as much of your money as possible

Holiday Spending

Between the holiday parties, corporate gifts, and year end bonuses, holiday finances, no matter what size of business you run, can be complicated. Let a CPA help by managing your bookkeeping and ensuring payroll continues as normal, even after the bonuses. Running a business is hard enough without keeping track of every dollar spent.

The end of the year is also a great time to allow your CPA to do a yearly review with profit and losses statement. That way, as you go into the new year, you know exactly where your business stands. Allow a CPA to make this joyous, yet stressful time of year a little easier so you can have peace going into the new year.