With tax season behind us it’s time to take a long, honest look at the state of your office. The whirlwind of taxes often leaves us feeling a bit like we’ve just somehow managed to keep our feet on the ground through a tornado, and the repercussions of the storm are teetering stacks of paper, receipts spread over multiple surfaces, and multiple coffee cups strewn about your desk. Gather up the mugs, put them in the sink, and then roll up your sleeves; it’s time to spring clean your finances.
Clear out your documents. We all have the filing cabinet (or cardboard box) that has gotten fat and unkempt over the last year. Go through the papers and statements to see what can go and what needs to stay for your records. Anything that can go should be shredded immediately, for your protection and so it doesn’t simply start another pile of documents in your office. Get rid of ‘em.
Clear out your electronic documents. The same process applies to your email and desktop folders; we live in an age of digital files and they take up room on your hard drive and in your brain. If you no longer need to save them drag them into the trash and empty the bin. Additionally, make sure you’re not keeping any papers or statements that you have duplicates of e-filed on your computer!
Check for any paper statements/documents you’re getting that you can switch to electronic. This way you can begin to minimize future physical clutter and disarray in your office. Make the switch right away.
If you’re feeling really motivated you can scan the documents that you need to keep onto your computer and eliminate that bulky clutter all together!
Back. It. Up. No matter how many or few files you have on your computer, make sure they’re backed up and secured on an external hard drive, Google drive, Dropbox, or other systems. Especially take care to do this if you end up converting all of your files to electronic files!
In California we don’t take the brunt of winter like other states, but there’s still a certain something that happens when spring rolls around. The smell of cut grass in the air, the breeze getting warmer, the days getting longer…we can’t explain it, but it feels like a new beginning all around.
In the spirit of springtime we’ve put together a little list (you know how we love lists) of things to start focusing on with the change of the seasons.
1. Get Organized. Spring cleaning covers a lot of bases and one way to shake the winter brain-fog is to take a solid look around you and purge the things that no longer serve you and re-evaluate your daily routines and workspace.
2. Do Your Taxes. Done ‘em already? Excellent. Cross it off your (very organized) list. Haven’t done ‘em? Make your appointment, mark your calendar.
3. Don’t overspend on a spring wardrobe. It’s tempting to get excited about a new season and the opportunity to buy new clothes but we guarantee there are surprises in the back of your closet that will be just as satisfying to revisit in lieu of spending an inordinate amount of money on new clothes. Anything you won’t wear again is up for donation and you can swap it out for something new!
4. Start budgeting for summer travel. Summer is just on the horizon and that means travel plans need to be made. Set your flight alerts to search for the most affordable airfare, start researching the price of air bnb’s vs. hotels and resorts…planning ahead = saving money!
5. Get outside. No matter where you live THIS is the time of year to take advantage of the great outdoors. Hike, picnic, road trip, or just walk; there is no amount of nature that is too little or too great! Get outside and breathe deeply.
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!