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5 Ways To Stop Christmas Draining Your Money

christmas save money able accountantsChristmas is coming, and although the goose may becoming fat, your bank balance probably won’t be. It’s that time of year when ends become harder to meet, with a double-whammy of extra costs and possibly reduced income all hitting the season.

It’s therefore helpful to take a step back and look at ways to be more proactive and make sure you’re not only still in the black in January, but nicely so. A few small steps and adjustments can pay serious dividends later on.

Therefore, here are 5 top tips to get into action and reign-in your cash this festive season:

1. Diligent Deliveries

During this time of gift-buying and ordering, just watch out for the true costs of these being delivered hitting your pocket.

From speed and laziness when ordering online you can default to excesses and duplicate delivery charges, and even where they do get delivered on-price, you may end up incurring all kinds of additional costs simply collecting them from somewhere at a different time.

Ideally know what these are, try and arrange them all at the same time and place for the greatest savings.

2. Expected Expenses

It’s worth going over the distinction between what costs are personal to yourself, and what are legitimate business expenses – not only when you’re running a business and considering business-deductible expenses, but as an employee where certain costs may be part of an expenses claim.

Any increased travel and social time and costs may well be legitimate business expenses, and in addition make sure the timing of these being paid is not delayed from the slower Christmas period.

Even the timing of your salary may need to be considered in December where a beneficial earlier payment date then may well mean a longer period in January in order to catch up with the usual payment dates.

3. Predictable Property Costs

We all live and work in properties of some description, and of course they cost money to run. The winter periods can unfortunately see these ratchet up, whether higher heating and lighting costs, or allowing for repairs and breakdowns that can occur.

See what things can be controlled better to keep these within budget, whether efficient bulbs, lowered heating levels, and even a guaranteed-cost for services and repairs.

4. Happy Holidays

Work patterns can be different during this time of year, right from unpredictable illnesses and sick-leave, to taking additional holiday over the Christmas period and having to use-up holiday allowances.

Depending upon whether you’re an employee or a business owner, you’ll see this from different perspectives. It’s also a balancing act between savings in usual working-life costs, verses additional costs from not being at work.

Where you can plan for these things, think through the consequences, in addition to having any back-up plans for things not being straight forward.

5. Calculated Car Costs

If you’re driving a vehicle, whether you own car or any form of business vehicle, then you’ll know what large costs these can incur anyway. Right from the essential insurance and servicing costs, to ongoing repairs and fuel.

Well, bad weather unfortunately often means more issues, therefore plan and see what you can do now in order to manage these most effectively over the next few months.

A good service with essentials like a battery-check and antifreeze in the water can help reduce the likelihood of breakdowns later on, and even joining a vehicle recovery service can help reduce these risks.

Also looking at other forms of transport can help, not only with less potential problems and additional fuel bills from long-winded journeys, but simply less hassle.

Making Your Bank Balance Swell

As you head into the busy festive season, these small tips can help keep a tighter rein in your hard-earned money. If not, then it may be a merry time this side of Christmas, but that can soon change in the New Year.

So where these are applicable, not only make a note but make sure actions are in place to see them happier in reality, to then enjoy the season ahead.

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Don’t Lag Behind This Autumn – 3 Accounting Tips to Gear Up For the End of Year

autumn accountancy tips able accountantsWe’re now in the last quarter of the year and one of the busiest times with schools being back, holidays completed, and working life revving-up with activity. This is the time to get ahead of the game in whatever business and field you’re in before things then start slowing down before the end of the year and Christmas.

Therefore here are some top accounting tips to help make the most of the next quarter. They’re not bogged down with accounting detail, but just general pointers to help businesses make the most of the season, whether you’re a direct business owner and managing matters yourself or you’re an advisor for businesses.

We’ve organised these into three different areas, all beginning with the letter ‘W’, and helping to focus on the needs of the season at hand. These will help provide a snap shot of what to look out for over the season:

1. The Weather

As the physical weather conditions change, you need to watch out for how this can have an effect on business activity and costs.

So one example is actual property costs that are often one of the largest expenditure items for any business, for example increased heating and lighting costs with colder and darker periods, and even more repairs of say leaking roofs and window areas.

There are also other costs such as personnel and HR costs, and say increased sick leave from people during colder times.

The nature of the business in question may also be seasonal, so a supplier of barbeques will suffer during these times but a supplier of domestic heating systems will be increasing.

2. The Workability

On a more positive note, the general productivity of people can be high between September and November. People are fresh back from holidays, and knuckling down to work as the weather turns and the work builds up.

It’s therefore worth harnessing this energy, with special attention to new projects or ideas and even preparation for the following year. Working together with clear action-plan and timescales can see a whole lot of work productively completed before things then start winding down for the pre-Christmas period.

3. The Wonga

This should all filter through to the hard fast wonga and money of the business, whether for better or worse, and whether hitting the bottom line profit, top turnover, or essential costs.

Watch out for sudden costs such as special Christmas and social party expenditure and even staff bonuses hitting this period, and the delayed cashflow often seen over the more sluggish Christmas period.

It may also be a natural year-end time to complete accounts and produce budgets and forecasts. Even if these are not technically due, now then it may be worth being proactive and preparing these anyway in order to have rough figures to-hand to go through with others during this productive period or more social wind-down times.

The 3 ‘W’ Ways to Benefit This Autumn

So as we head into the later quarter of the year, these three aspects all beginning with ‘W’ will help focus your mind and squeeze various opportunities from this.

First of all, look at the weather, and whether that will have any affect on your figures, trade, and people. Then look at the workability of the season, and how to channel the often focused energy from people just before the Christmas wind-down.

And lastly, consider the wonga and the actual money during this period. Right from your additional potential sales and turnover, further costs, and of course end-profit.

Get all these bottomed out, and you’ll soon be enjoying a very happy Christmas and New Year at the end of the period.

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Some Financial Advice Pearls of Wisdom

financial advice tips able accountantsWhen we help provide financial advice to clients, it’s often good to take a step back and look at some of the fundamentals. These help shape the whole financial direction of where you need to go, and how further detail and advice can be formed.

Whether this is our own network of accountants and advisors helping to interpret accounts and reports, or a regulated Independent Financial Advisor with specialist knowledge, we can help organise and provide as much or as little as needed.

So in the meantime, here are some good basic pearls of wisdom to bear in mind when beginning to prepare your financial strategy and advice:

1. Know Your Resources

You need to begin with what resources you already have that can be used and re-invested in to provide a better return in the future.

In addition to immediate things like cash, assets and stock, and immediate returns, think of longer term ones as well that may pay dividends in the future. A careful investigation of accounts and reports can often help dig these all out.

Also, non-money ones such as your people and staff, abilities and skills, and existing brand and market presence.

This is your starting point to now begin building for the future.

2. Know Your Goals

This may sound straight forward, but knowing just what you’re trying to achieve is paramount. And the more specific the better, for example target income and values, proposed timescale, and degree of involvement of yourself and others.

Once you have this determined, then think about what the next stage is, whether another longer-term strategy will kick in, or an exit-strategy being on stand by.

3. Know the Right Data

In addition to having any old set of accounts, often you need to dig deeper for more and better data to analyse. This will then help see the reality of how the business ticks, and potential areas of investigations and growth.

In addition to further accounting data, this may need to include other forms such as market activity, sales and demographics, and utilising the power of the internet.

4. Know the Right People

It will always boil down to people, whether your customers and clients, your staff and helpers, or your competition. No matter how great things look on paper, if these relationships are not strong and quantifiable then it can be almost worthless, particularly where the business is highly relationship dependant.

5. Know Your Options

It’s good to have some blue-sky thinking out of the box, and see what other options are available. This creativity often comes with the right people then going over the correct data and coming up with the best opportunities.

Being then able to finely tune these, act quickly if needs be, and prepare for any future ones is key to being ahead of the game.

Other Options

Therefore when looking at which way to go with your finances, don’t panic - all situations will have the right answer to help get things back on track.

Before getting in the detail, go through these simple pointers in order to help gain a better understanding of what the reality is, before then seeing the wood for the trees and a clear way forward.

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Getting the Basics of Payroll Right

payroll tips able accountantsWhen you're dealing with people's pay as part opf a payroll service, it’s serious business. Staff costs are often the largest cost of any business, and therefore a huge issue to get right from a business accounts perspective. From an individual's point of view it's also key, as this is their reward for their hard work within the business, and any even slight error can cause considerable concern and frustration on their part.
 
It therefore needs to be right, and within a confusing world of regulations and adjustments this can be a challenge. But here are a few pointers to help steer you in the right direction, they're not exhaustive but designed to help establish the basic principles.

1. Get the Basics Right 

This is almost too embarrassing to mention, but for the sake of completeness it needs to, and that’s to make sure your accounts match the reality of people's situation.
 
So check that the right salary level is being used, particularly after any review or changes to employment, and clarify any exact start and end dates of employment. 

2. Bring in the Taxes

You can't get away from paying tax in a lot of cases unfortunately, and payroll is certainly one where you do. 
 
Therefore get this bottomed out as to how and when this is deducted, what exact amount and tax band is used, and any special adjustment like p11d for this.
 
On a related side is national insurance, and although for a different purpose, this uses similar principles.
 
From an individual's perspective, they may need to be reminded that they need a separate tax return for their own personal income and investments in addition to their employment which has tax automatically resolved at source.

3. The Tweaks and Changes

So as you're dealing with individuals, they may well have unique situations to accommodate, whether that's benefits to account for or maternity cover and sick pay to arrange.
 
Make sure this is clearly documented and confirmed beforehand, and then communicated to all the right channels.

4. Simply Pay the Money

Again this is painfully obvious, but all so important as people's own personal financial situation is shaped by literally receiving the money.
 
So agree strict and regular time frames for this, with all other tasks often on hold for this. Clarify how this isn’t then paid, often direct into bank accounts of course, but you may be dealing with other payment methods as well.

Don't Pay the Price for Ineffective Payroll Services 

Therefore when looking at payroll services, whether you're in the thick of providing these, or involved in overseeing  and instructing others to do, always begin with some common sense and realisation that at the end of the day you're dealing with real people's money and lives.
 
Then build up the accounting truth with all the adjustments and processing that is needed, all ending in a completely accurate and reliable service.
 
And who's knows, maybe even a few bonuses as well.
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How to Get Slicker Management Accounts

management accounts tips able accountantsAs part of our management accounts service we provide bespoke reporting of any accounts for whatever reporting purpose you have. Typically this is for key senior management and interests, who need bottom-line summaries of information of important data to make important decisions.
 
This isn’t just basic bookkeeping or statutory accounting, but making this compliant and financial information actually matter and make sense. It’s empowering the right people with the best data to make the most effective decisions.
 
Therefore here are 5 essential factors in any effective Management Accounts to get the accounts slicker. It might be the same old data being used, but these will help relate to people in a new way and help them digest and apply them:

1. Timing is Everything 

Getting the correct frequency of these management reports is key to not only fall in line with any regular meetings and updates, but to balance enough timely information with not being overloaded by too much information overload.
 
It might be monthly senior management meetings, a quarterly review, or weekly update – get this established, and then plan to have the reports circulated at the meeting or before hand for people to browse through.

2. Comparison to What is Right

The main idea of management accounts is to check performance, and being able to make any business decisions to help steer things in the right direction. So firstly, know what budgets, forecasts, and KPIs you have set, before secondly making sure that actual performance data can be compared like-for-like.  
 
Practically, these should be easy to see on the reports, with any variances noted and comparisons to past figures for similar periods.

3. Using the Right Data

It sounds obvious, but worth checking that you’re using the right data. You will need to check how this is accessed from existing bookkeeping or nominal ledger systems, and that every future report has the correct and latest information as well.

4. Adapting to the Right People 

This is one of the most important factors, knowing who is the recipricant of the report, as this will affect how it is presented.
 
This works on both a team level as well as an individual one. You need to carefully gauge who has the final say on this, and make sure as many people as possible benefit from the final agreed format.

5. Presenting Results Well

Okay, you have the right management accounts ready to go, you just need to make sure the final figures are presented real good. And this might be more visual than you first think, so maybe a nice looking pie chart or progress line showing exactly how this all looks in reality.

Management Accounts on the Move 

Applying these 5 factors to your management accounts will help bring them back to life. No one likes going through pointless information for the sake of it, particularly those who are not involved with accounts every day – they want the bottom-line answers from these accounts, and now.
 
There will help get that wow-factor back in them nicely.
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