Whether you’re in the accounting world or just need to get them done, we have a few tips to help get you through (we’re almost there!).
1. Time Management. Set deadlines and block out your schedule ahead of time. Don’t let Tax Day sneak up on you! For many people getting taxes done is more about simply carving out the time to do so, and that can be the most stressful part. For CPAs it's often more about letting your loved ones know that this is a busy season for you, and you need space in your schedule and support to get through it.
2. Eat, hydrate, and breathe. For CPAs this is about long hours and supporting stressed clients. For everyone else this is about not having a meltdown and making things easier on your CPA.
3. Be Organized. For many of us this is something we try to practice everyday, and if we’re successful in doing so it makes tax season SO MUCH easier. But if file organization has gotten away from you take the time to sort through everything before your tax appointment. It will make a world of difference in stress and timing for all parties involved.
4. Know what is needed from each other. CPAs should have a list of things that their clients need to have prepared and with them when they arrive to their appointments. Clients should be aware and on top of these items.
5. Have a de-stressor scheduled! After your appointment or season have a little (or big) reward waiting for you. Maybe it’s happy hour, or maybe it’s Hawaii…just do something to celebrate the fact that you made it through Tax Season!
Harrington Group was recently honored to be a part of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services conference in Monterey. Supporting organizations such as this is one of the most gratifying parts of being a non-profit CPA firm and we were beyond thrilled with the turn out for such a wonderful cause!
The California Alliance is a collaborative organization that brings together some of the leading child and family services agencies in the state, giving them a platform to stand on and voice that can be heard. They leverage services from fostering and adoption to family preservation and support, plus a myriad of programs, assistance and treatments for all youths and family members.
From their website: “The California Alliance of Child and Family Services is the unifying force in the charge to lead change and provide support for the state’s children, youth and families.
For those dedicated to improving the lives of these at-risk populations, the California Alliance stands apart as the champion and leading voice for organizations that advocate for children and families, and for advancing policy and services on their behalves.”
At Harrington Group we believe deeply in these values and are extremely proud to have been a part of the important conversations had at the 2018 Executive’s Winter Conference!
It’s that time of year, friends. The time that brings stress and confusion to so many people – it gets put it off, it’s intimidating, and more often than not it doesn’t yield the results we want.
We want to make the whole experience less painful. As CPAs we know that a little preparation goes a long way and can really revolutionize your tax experience. Even if you’ve put off prepping all year, this list will help streamline your process and hopefully make this your most painless tax year yet!
First things first: Get your documents in order.
Whether you’re an individual or a business you need certain documents ready to go when it comes time to file and you need to familiarize yourself with those specific to your situation. Make sure your bank statements are printed and highlighted, same with your credit card statements, both business and personal. Additionally, have last year’s tax return on hand and any pertinent business accounting forms (and payroll documents, if applicable).
Next: Acquire your necessary tax documents.
Learn which forms you need to file. Forms are specific to individuals and certain kinds of businesses; make sure you know exactly which applies to you.
Organize your deductions.
Have all your receipts in order. Your statements are highlighted accordingly with expenses and deductions. Make one neat little pile to either go through or hand over to your accountant.
When in doubt…
If you’re not sure whether or not you will need a record or document just play it safe and keep it until you can verify with a professional. The bottom line is it’s always better to have something that might not be important than not have an item that ends up being essential.
Don’t let tax season get you down! You’ve got this, and your CPAs have got your back.
We are never more proud to be CPA to over 250 non-profit organizations than in this, the season of giving. It’s a time of reflection on what really matters and what is missing the lives of so many men, women, children, and animals in the world. With good intentions running high and generosity in just about everyone’s spirit, we thought it was the perfect time to make a list (and check it twice) of ways you can provide help to those that need it a little extra holiday cheer.
1. Collect cans of food and donate them to a food bank.
2. Gather up your old coats and donate them to Goodwill or a homeless shelter.
3. Buy books for strangers. Put them in free libraries around town with notes inside.
4. Give an unexpected generous tip to make someone’s day.
5. Bake (or buy) some holiday cookies and bring them to a children’s center. Maybe buy plain cookies and let the kids decorate them!
6. Sign up for a holiday 5K for which the money goes to a good cause.
7. Donate possessions you no longer need to the Salvation Army.
8. Bring a box of toys to a children’s hospital.
9. Donate blood and save a life.
10. Bring some blankets, pet food or pet toys to the animal shelter.
Remember, all of these things are appreciated a little bit more at this time of year, but we can always be helping to end hunger, provide health care, and save animals. Keep giving when you are able, and check back regularly to see how you can serve. We’re always updating ideas on the blog and through Facebook and Instagram!
Harrington Group and everyone we work with thanks you from the bottom of our hearts.
While we strongly believe the saying “behind every successful business is a great accountant,” we recognize that every business’ road to success is different. One thing remains the same, however, and that is a good, preliminary budgeting plan will inevitably set your business up for a much smoother ride than trying to play things by ear.
We put together a little list of universal budgeting tips to be applied at any time, to businesses of all shapes and sizes, making your (and your CPA’s) life easier!
1. List your set expenses
Make a list or chart of all your recurring expenses, along with their costs and due dates so you know what’s coming and are never late with payment. This includes things like rent, utilities, payroll, insurance, and any materials/inventory your business might require.
2. Put debt repayment at the top of your list
After you’ve taken care of the payments that keep your business running turn directly to any and all debt you have regarding your business. These payments should come before any extra expenses so as to stay ahead of excessive interest charges and keep you on track to pay off all loans and credit cards. The sooner you can stop making those payments the sooner those funds can go toward exciting new facets of your business!
3. Save for hidden/unexpected costs
It’s so important to set aside a percentage of your business’ earnings for the inevitable surprise fees and expenses that will pop up through the course of business.
4. Think big, save big
Always, as a general rule of thumb, overestimate the cost of things. That way when something ends up costing less you can relocate those funds to other areas, but if the price is inflated your budget is padded to accommodate.
5. Constantly revisit your budget
Update your spending and earnings as you go and keep a close eye on your financial standing/patterns. Don’t be afraid to move things around as you find your rhythm, just remember that adjusting one thing in your budget very likely affects multiple other areas, so adjust accordingly.
Implementing these practices as soon as possible will make your business journey so much smoother, and your CPA proud! What are some budgeting habits you’ve found to be imperative to your business’ success?
At Harrington Group we are fortunate to work with a vast network of wonderful organizations that are making a difference in the world. Let’s take a moment to turn the spotlight on one of them (and share this hilariously adorable photo of their accounting department on Halloween with the MIB Audit team – that’s us!) and learn a little bit about what they do and why it’s so deeply important
Today Harrington Group is proud to feature McKinley Children’s Center.
Born from one couple who generously opened their doors to homeless, orphaned, or abused children over 100 years ago, the program has grown immensely throughout American history. It has expanded in its offerings but never wavered from its mission: to compassionately transform “the lives of youth and families through innovative education, counseling, and social services; inspiring hope to achieve success.”
Today McKinley Children’s Center offers a variety of services to help underserved youth find their way in the world. It’s a real-life Wizard of OZ foundation built on providing the essentials: a brain, a heart, a home, and courage.
The schooling program offers small, focused classes with a unique, individualized approach to learning for each student enrolled. They work hard to provide counseling and mentoring to any person (or family) in need in order to set a foundation for success, both academically and emotionally. Mental Health programs are offered in wide variety, designed to be available for assistance in all stages and hurdles of life, and the foster care and adoptions program flourishes within a circuit board lit up with families and community members eager to help. Most importantly Mckinley Children’s Center works hardest to give all those who join them a chance to experience the world with confidence and joy.
Want to get involved? Learn how you can make a difference from volunteering to donations here!
November is upon us, and while many people maintain the old standby rule that there is no Christmas music until Thanksgiving, it’s safe to say that the majority of us are pretty much decking the halls the day after Halloween. No matter which camp you’re a part of we have a few tips we recommend implementing right at the beginning of the season in order to make it the best one yet!
Remember: this is a season of giving. Find a non-profit that you care about and volunteer some time or donate some resources – this is known one of the jolliest times of the year but for many it’s one of the hardest. Be it an animal shelter, an after school program, a kitchen, or simply bringing a toy to a donation bin, you will feel great knowing that you contributed to someone else’s holiday season experience.
Try: setting a budget. We are entering the biggest spending season of the year, which causes stress in relationships, businesses, and families. Consider laying out a rough schedule of the biggest money-sucks in your near future; parties (friends and work), weddings, family gatherings, and nights out – all of these things usually require purchasing food and/or gifts. Make a plan and decide on a reasonable budget so that you don’t end up cringing at your bank statement come January 2nd.
Don’t Forget: if you’re traveling, book it now! The best deals are on and things will only get more expensive – honor your budget goals and plan ahead!
Most Importantly: have fun. For many people the stress of the holidays overwhelms the joy…don’t let it! Focus on the meaning of the season, surround yourself with people you love, do some good for others, and stay the course of what makes the holidays happy, whatever that may mean for you!
So you hit the pumpkin patch. Hard. And soon the trick-or-treaters will have come and gone and you’ll be left with a dozen pumpkins of various shapes and sizes that you’re not really sure how to dispose of responsibly…until now. We love giving back to our earth and these three methods of pumpkin recycling do just that – waste not, want not!
1. Compost. It’s the easiest thing to do with your carved jack-o-lanterns that are maybe a little worse for the wear thanks to any lingering October heat. They make great food for your garden, just throw ‘em in there, chopped or whole, and let nature do its thing! If you’re a city dweller seek out a community garden that will likely be grateful for the donated organic matter!
2. Donate them to a farm or zoo for animal feed. Pumpkin is wonderfully healthy for human and animals (if you’re interested in cooking yours find a recipe for pumpkin puree here, then turn it into something delicious for you…or your dog!) and there are farms, petting zoos, and regular zoos that happily will accept yours for good animal eatin’.
3. Ready for the cutest post-Halloween craft ever? Make a bird feeder! Like we said, pumpkin is great for animals, and those cute little pumpkins that have adorned your table top for the last month make the sweetest bird attractions, whether you live in an apartment or a home with a yard. Cut a hole in the side and scoop out the guts, and then fill the cavity with some birdseed – they can eat the seed and the pumpkin! Lastly, tie some twine around the stem and hang it outside.
Interested in giving back even more? There are loads of Halloween costume and candy donations available all over the US, do a quick search in your area to see how you can help!
1. Color changes. Whether it’s trees, wardrobe, or the general aesthetic at the grocery store, you can’t help but feel inspired and a little bit warmed by the season change.
2. Pumpkin Spice. You either enjoy it, or you enjoy making fun of people who enjoy it.
3. Sales galore! Summer merch is massively discounted, and back-to-school sales have gotten even better now that school is actually back in session. Even airfare is cheaper in the fall! Start. Saving.
4. No more summer crowds. If you live somewhere remotely touristy you get your city back for a small window of time before the holidays. Breathe deeply while you can.
5. Changes in food flavors. Suddenly soups and braises become readily available and produce has switched from bright, light options like berries and asparagus to heartier, moody varieties like squashes and pomegranate.
6. Changes in drink flavors. Wine tendencies switch from white to red; spirits favor a darker medium like bourbon and spiced liqueurs. Variety is good for the soul, folks.
7. There is no lack of things to do. You thought summer weekends were busy, but fall offers almost more events and incentives to get out of the house and have some fun! Pumpkin patches, apple orchards, haunted houses, and just the general desire to stroll through the park with a hot beverage in hand.
8. Cozy season is in full effect. Yes, it gets dark earlier but it almost feels like permission to snug up on the couch with a good book or movie rather than going out and spending money. Just set the slow cooker in the morning and let all social pressures fall by the wayside!
9. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Enough said.
10. Halloween is really fun. Jack-o-lanterns, costumes, fun décor, scary movies…and if none of those things float your boat there is always the discounted bulk candy to consider.
Before you know it Autumn is waning and the holidays are rapidly approaching, so remember to live in the moment before it passes you by!