Many business owners don’t keep good records. Some don’t understand bookkeeping; others understand it, but may be afraid of what the numbers might tell them. Think of it this way–bookkeeping is the glue that keeps your business together. If your records aren’t in good shape, the business could fall apart. A healthy business is monitored through its records on a regular basis so you can find problems and correct them before it’s too late.
Author Archives: firstclass
Tip # 1 Keep an audit trail
An audit trail is nothing more than a record of all your invoices and checks in numeric order. The thing to remember is never skip numbers. Record voided check and invoice numbers in numeric order with all other checks and invoices, only denote each one that is “voided.” This assures there will be no gaps in your numerical sequence and leaves a proper audit trail.
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Quickly Closing All Open QuickBooks Windows
To close all open QuickBooks Windows quickly, click on Window on the menu bar, and then Close All.
Using the History Button
The History button shows you all the transactions related to the one you are currently viewing.For example, view any invoice that you know is paid, then click on the History button.Then you’ll see the payment details on your screen instantly.
Keys that help you save lots of time when working with dates(Just type the key shown in the date field.)T = today’s dateM = First day of the month you are working inH = Last day of the month you are working inY = First day of the yearR = Last day of the year+ = Move the date forward by one day- = Move the date backward by one day
Chart of Accounts Shortcut
CTRL+A brings up the Chart of Accounts right away
Closing QuickBooks ShortcutALT+F4 closes QuickBooks software
Calculator ShortcutWhen working in a register, you can use the = to bring up the calculator when adding or subtracting from an account
Memorized Transaction Shortcut
CTRL+T will bring up your Memorized Transaction list immediately
Buying a Home: What To Do and How To Do It
Once you are ready to buy a home, you will need to be as informed as possible. This guide discusses how much money to save for a down payment, how to work with a real estate agent, how to negotiate, and what you need to know about closings.
Because home ownership is a substantial investment and a long-term commitment, it is important to become as knowledgeable as possible about the process of buying a home. Obviously, you want to avoid ending up with a home you are not happy with. You will want to find out all you can about how much you need to save for a down payment, about the process of finding the right home for you, about negotiating the best possible deal, and about various aspects of the closing.
Deciding How Much To Spend
Many new homeowners make the mistake of borrowing too much money. Before deciding on the price range of the home you plan to buy, think about how much you want to pay out each month in mortgage payments. Try to make as large a down payment as possible.
The Mortgage Payment
The mortgage payment will be composed of the mortgage payment, the property taxes (in most cases), and the mortgage insurance.
Caution: The lender will set a maximum on how much you can borrow. However, this maximum is often too much for the average homeowner to pay out comfortably each month. Therefore, use the maximum only as a starting point to deciding how much you will borrow.
Tip: Ask a real estate agent to help you get “pre-qualified” by a lender (to get an estimate of the maximum mortgage amount).
When deciding how much to borrow, be sure to take into account saving for your retirement, meeting your financial goals, and maintaining your current lifestyle. If your monthly payments do not allow you to meet these needs, buying the home does not make financial sense. Home buyers often end up unable to save enough money, to travel, to pursue their interests, or even to eat out and the purchase turns into a burden. Worse, many people buy a home that is too expensive and end up overwhelmed by debt, since home ownership requires more spending than renting: the home must be furnished and repairs and improvements have to be made.
Caution: To avoid having your dream home turn your life into a nightmare, calculate how much you realistically can spend on the monthly mortgage payment. Do not forget to add in the real estate taxes and mortgage insurance.
Lenders will be happy to pre-qualify you by giving you a preliminary limit on the amount they would be willing to lend you. This pre-qualification is not a commitment on the lender’s part; lenders will not commit to a mortgage until they have the property appraisal and all of your documentation. But the maximum they are willing to offer can be helpful for planning purposes.
The maximum debt is based on your income and debt level. It depends on current interest rates, the term of the mortgage, and the property taxes. To get a rough idea, the maximum debt amount is usually about three times your annual gross income.
Having decided how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can realistically afford, you are now ready to set a price range for your new home. You will give this range to the real estate agent during your first visit or use it to rule out homes you do not want to look at.
Planning Aid: See the Financial Calculator: How much house can I qualify for?
Tip: Don’t be afraid to look at homes that are 15% to 20% over your price range. In many cases, you will be able to negotiate the price down.
The Down Payment
You will probably want to make as large a down payment as possible. There are two reasons for this: (1) lenders will generally not require you to pay for private mortgage insurance if you can come up with a 20% down payment and (2) the sooner you pay off your mortgage, the better off you will be financially.
To save the 20% down payment, you may need to go on an “austerity plan” for a year or two. Many home buyers also use cash gifts or loans from family members to meet the 20% figure. If you cannot save 20% of the purchase price, you will still be able to get financing. However, it is best to try to save the 20% to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.
Working With Your Real Estate Agent
You can save yourself much time and trouble by knowing what to look for in a real estate agent.
If you find that your real estate agent is not doing his or her best to find you the home you want or is otherwise not meeting your expectations, don’t hesitate to make a change. Avoid the mistake of staying in the relationship because you have invested time in it. Rather, get out as soon as you can. The real estate agent will cost you money, so make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
You can shop for and buy a home without an agent, but you will need to put in much extra time to do an agent’s work: search for properties, schedule appointments to see them, coordinate inspections, and negotiate. Home buyers who already have a property in mind that they want to buy are the best candidates to do the deal without an agent.
Positive Traits To Look For
Of course, you want a competent and experienced agent whose work habits are compatible with your own. To find such an agent, interview several candidates at different agencies. Look for the following traits:
- Is the Agent Full-Time? Make sure the agent works in the field full-time. Otherwise he or she may not be up-to-date on the fast-changing information and skills required for the job.
- Is the Agent Experienced? Be sure the agent has been doing the type of work you will need him or her to do for at least a few years. For example, if you are looking for a modest single family home in the suburbs, make sure the agent has not spent the last five years handling mostly rentals-or mansions.
- Does the Agent Listen and Communicate Clearly? The agent must be able to understand your priorities in purchasing a home and to tell you what you need to know about a home. For instance, if you tell the agent repeatedly that you must have wood floors and a tree-lined neighborhood, and he or she persists in showing you linoleum floors on crowded streets, you need to get a new agent.
- Is the Agent Willing to Negotiate For You? To get the best home for your dollar you will have to negotiate with the seller on the price. The agent plays a crucial role in the process. If he or she is not willing to show you houses that are 20% over your price range or to vigorously negotiate with the seller, you need to find a new agent.
- Is the Agent Careful In His or Her Work? You need an agent who will cover all the details that go into buying a home. Someone who takes shortcuts in order to “produce”-generate as many home sales as possible-will not do you any good.
Tip: Ask the candidates for references from clients with whom they have recently worked in the area in which you are house-hunting. That will help you determine whether the agent has the traits you want.
Negative Traits To Watch Out For
Here are some traits a good buyer’s real estate agent should not have. Most of them have to do with the conflicts of interest that arise with any commissioned salespeople. Basically, a commission salesperson’s goal is to see that as many deals close as possible while putting in the minimum of hours. However, many agents still provide good service.
- Haste Makes Waste. The agent who tries to push you into making a decision before you are comfortable doing so is to be avoided.
- Spendthrifts. Avoid agents who urge you to go over your price range.
- Favoritism. Avoid agents who push you to buy their agency’s listings over other properties, or who push you to use the attorneys or inspectors they recommend.
- Cover-ups. Dishonest agents have been known to help the seller hide a defect, or to look the other way. The only way to protect yourself from such deceit is to use an objective inspector.
Finding The Right Home
Throughout the search for a home, you must remain focused on what you want (and don’t want) in a home and to investigate for yourself. You may want to keep a list of items that are important to you, such as the location of the neighborhood, the type of materials used in building the home and the schools.
If a particular aspect of the house is important to you, do not take anyone’s word for it. Investigate for yourself. Visit schools, walk around the neighborhood, look under carpets to see what the floors are made of, stay in the basement for awhile to see how damp it is. You may also want to drive through the neighborhood after dark to see if the it is a safe place to live.
Tip: In order to have a benchmark for comparing home prices, find out what the price per square foot is for homes you are looking at. To find the price per square foot, divide the asking price by its square footage. Sources of a home’s square footage include the local tax assessment agency, the real estate agent, and the home builder. You should verify any statement that might be self-serving.
Negotiating The Selling Price
Buying a home calls into play your negotiating ability. Successful negotiation can often save you tens of thousands of dollars. Here are some tips to keep in mind when negotiating for your hoped-for home:
- Be willing to walk away from a deal. If you decide you must have a certain house, you have already lost negotiating power. There are other good properties out there.
- Learn everything you can about the property before making your offer. For instance, how long has it been on the market? Has the buyer dropped the asking price? Why is the owner selling? The answers to these questions will help you to negotiate.
- Know what comparable homes are selling for.
- If the seller refuses to budge on price, try to negotiate for something else. For instance, try to get the seller to pay for repairs or improvements you would have done yourself.
- Don’t forget the real estate agent’s commission. It may also be negotiable.
City Business Tax Program – Data Exchange
According to the Franchise Tax Board: Effective January 2009, and as the result of the enactment of Senate Bill 1146 (Cedillo) (Chapter 345, Statutes of 2008), FTB and participating cities began exchanging data through a reciprocal agreement. There is no charge to either party.
City data helps identify self-employed individuals who are not filing required individual and business entity income tax returns, and state tax data helps identify businesses that may have a local business tax filing requirement.
Law references are – Revenue and Taxation Code Sections: 19542, 19542.1, 19542.3,19551, 19551.1, 19551.5, 19552, andCalifornia Civil Code 1798.29
Types of data exchanged
|Cities provide FTB:||FTB provides cities:|
Taxpayers Face Oct. 15 Deadlines: Due Dates for Extension Filers, Non-Profits Approach
Oct. 15 is fast approaching and is a key deadline for millions of individual taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2009 tax returns. It is also a crucial due date for thousands of small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they have not filed the required forms in the last three years.
Don’t Miss Your 1040 Deadline
The IRS expects to receive as many as 10 million tax returns from taxpayers who used Form 4868 to request a six-month extension to file their returns. Some taxpayers can wait until after Oct. 15 to file, including those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities and people affected by recent natural disasters.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to e-file. E-file with direct deposit results in a faster refund than by using a paper return. Electronic returns also have fewer errors than paper returns. Oct. 15 is the last day to take advantage of e-file and the Free File program.
Free File is a fast, easy and free way to prepare and e-file federal taxes online. The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies.
File If You Are Tax Exempt
Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file the required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15 under the one-time relief program.
The IRS has posted on a special page of IRS.gov the names and last-known addresses of these at-risk organizations, along with guidance about how to come back into compliance. The organizations on the list have return due dates between May 17 and Oct. 15, 2010, but the IRS has no record that they filed the required returns for any of the past three years.
Two types of relief are available for small exempt organizations — a filing extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) , and a voluntary compliance program (VCP) for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.
Small organizations required to file Form 990-N simply need to go to the IRS website, supply the eight information items called for on the form, and electronically file it by Oct. 15. That will bring them back into compliance.
Small Business BootCamp
If you ever thought about starting a business and you want to know where to begin, this is the workshop is for you. This is an intensive 3 hour workshop that will cover everything you will need to create, structure, market and grow your new business.