Category Archives: Saving money

Accio! Harry Potter Star Rupert Grint Hopes To Summon £1m Tax Refund – Forbes

As J.K. Rowling’s Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint faced a number of challenges, including keeping the Philosopher’s Stone from Professor Quirinus Quirrell, finding and destroying the Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort with Harry and Hermione, and fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts. Grint, however, has come up against a Voldemort-sized obstacle in the form of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Grint has gone to court seeking a refund worth approximately £1 million ($1.33 million U.S.) as part of a tax dispute. The dispute focuses on Grint’s choice to use an accounting period shorter than 12 months between 31 July 2009 and 5 April 2010. Grint made millions as part of the Harry Potter franchise, shooting the final films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2, in 2009 and 2010. Grint’s take was said to be just below co-star, Emma Watson, who was named Hollywood’s highest paid female actor by Vanity Fair after pulling in a cool £20 million ($26.60 million US).

Read More: Accio! Harry Potter Star Rupert Grint Hopes To Summon £1m Tax Refund – Forbes

October 2015: The End of the Swipe-and-Sign Credit Card – Corporate Intelligence – WSJ

It’s a payment ritual as familiar as handing over a $20 bill, and it’s soon to go extinct: prepare to say farewell to the swipe-and-sign of a credit card transaction.

Beginning later next year, you will stop signing those credit card receipts. Instead, you will insert your card into a slot and enter a PIN number, just like people do in much of the rest of the world. The U.S. is the last major market to still use the old-fashioned signature system, and it’s a big reason why almost half the world’s credit card fraud happens in America, despite the country being home to about a quarter of all credit card transactions.

The recent large-scale theft of credit card data from retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus brought the issue more mainstream attention, leading to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week. Executives told the senators that once the country transitions to the new system — which includes credit cards embedded with a microchip containing security data — these kind of hacking attacks will be much more difficult to pull off.

The shift is coming though: both MasterCardMA +0.05% and VisaV -0.64% have roadmaps for the changeover, and both have set October, 2015 as an important deadline in the switch. But why has it taken this long, and how will the changeover work for card users and businesses?

We spoke with MasterCard’s Carolyn Balfany, the company’s expert on all things related to the new payment system, known as EMV, that will lead to the end of the swipe-and-sign and the beginning of the chip-and-PIN. Here’s what she had to say.

Much of the rest of the world switched to chip and PIN cards years ago. Why has it taken the U.S. so much longer?

There’s a historical view to this. In the past, other markets migrated for two reasons. First, there were higher fraud rates in some other markets, and they wanted to make this move to combat fraud. Second, this system can operate in offline mode – the card and the terminal can authorize a transaction independent of communication with the bank’s systems. In some other markets they struggled with robust telephony networks, so this offline capacity was attractive.

Both those factors were not driving factors here in America. Fraud was more prominent in some other markets, but what has happened since then is that as other markets migrated to EMV and became more secure, fraudsters migrated their activity to markets with less security. We saw fraudsters move over to the US market – they are looking for the path of least resistance.

There were also some more specific challenges to US migration to the new system. Because the US is one of the largest and most complex markets, the business cases for the costs had to be established. And there were requirements of the Durbin amendment, mandating all us debit transactions are able to go across at least two networks, which took some time for the industry to sort out.

It seems now like there is agreement on the switch. So when will the changeover happen?

For Mastercard, now is the time, and we’ve been very consistent on that message for years. We introduced our roadmap for migration in 2012, and that roadmap says that for face-to-face transactions, where a consumer uses their card at a merchant’s location, the liability shift will happen in October, 2015.

October 2015: The End of the Swipe-and-Sign Credit Card – Corporate Intelligence – WSJ.

Stress-Free Bookkeeping | Virtual Bookkeeping Company – Your Administrative Solutions

Stress Free Bookkeeping

laptop with numbersManaging your books is a cumbersome but critical task for any business. It can be very time-consuming, frustrating, and could mean working late hours. However, it has to be done to know the worth of your business and to satisfy the government for taxes. You also need to do this on a regular basis to get an accurate idea of your financial health.


How do you make this stress-free task work for you?

Some small and medium businesses either employ part-time bookkeepers or do the work themselves. No matter how it is done it is still a mundane task involving shuffling papers and working extra hours. Often there is a twinge of doubt that you are not doing something quite right or are missing important information.

Ask any entrepreneur why they went into business and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Odds are that “do bookkeeping” was not on the list even though bookkeeping is the core of any successful business. It is the way to measure growth, keep cash flow positive and track expenses.

Bookkeeping is like learning to play a musical instrument. The secret is to learn the fundamentals and create a system that works for the company.

Here are a few tips that could prove helpful to make the right decision for bookkeeping and accounting needs:


Don’t mix business and pleasure:

Get a business credit card to enable you to separate your business expenses from your personal. By this time you have already started your business checking account. So adding that business credit card will help you establish and build business credit and points. Co-mingling funds between personal and business is not a productive or efficient way of doing business and can prove to be a headache at tax time.


Keep it simple:

When creating your business in your accounting software doesn’t create too many categories in the chart of accounts. For example, office supplies will be a sufficient category rather than separate categories for paper, letterhead, printer supplies, etc. This complicates profit and loss and adds time to the day-to-day activities when items are being expensed.


Automate your invoicing:

There are many online invoicing services that allow you to schedule invoices for clients who are charged on a regular basis. You will find that most accounting software has the ability to memorize invoices that reoccur monthly. The day of the re-occurrence can even be set such as the first of the month.


Use the right accounting software:

There are many accounting software packages out there that you can use to assist you with your accounting and bookkeeping needs. Of course, I highly recommend QuickBooks but there is also a wide variety of Open Source software which is free to download. Additionally there are a wide variety of free manuals and tutorials online.


Outsource to a virtual bookkeeper:

Outsourcing to a virtual bookkeeper saves time, money, worry, and headaches. Many business owners take two common approaches to tackling the issue of bookkeeping. They try to do it themselves – which is time consuming and can lead to costly mistakes. They pay large firms to do it – which is unnecessarily expensive. A professional bookkeeper has the skills and experience to do the job right. There are many advantages to outsourcing your books. Save money, save time, and the need for extra help. The biggest benefit is your bottom line.

  • Books that are inaccurate do not reflect the true health of the business
  • Being clueless at any level about where the money is going is not being in control of your business.

Business people need to focus on the business:

There are many aspects to running a business and the most important is earning money. Some things just have to be delegated in order to maximize time and productivity. Bookkeeping can be a painful and time consuming process and many business owners do not have the expertise or knowledge to get the job done right. Time spent on bookkeeping activities is time away from making money.

If you liked this article by Fran McCully, you’ll want to hop on over to where you can find more articles, resources and strategies to help manage the finances of your business. We also create business plans (with full market analysis and competitor research), do cash flow analysis, and assist companies with budget set up and implementation.

How to Read a Cash Flow Statement | Intuit Small Business Blog

Business papers and red pencilHow much money does your company have available right now? That’s a question your cash flow statement can answer.

As its name suggests, a cash flow statement charts the flow of money into and out of your business. It’s all about gauging liquidity — or cash on hand — so that you can make smart decisions about paying bills and buying additional assets or inventory.

When viewed with your company’s income statement (a report of sales and expenses during a specific time period) and balance sheet (a summary of the net worth of your company on a given day), your cash flow statement gives you a complete view of your company’s financial profile. (Publicly traded companies are required to disclose all three statements to the SEC each quarter.)

Let’s break down a typical small-business cash flow statement and review each of its sections. Print or view this sample statement [PDF] to follow along.

Read more:

How to Read a Cash Flow Statement | Intuit Small Business Blog.

Writing Off Your Summer Vacation – My Money (

If you’re lucky enough to get away this season, consider making vacation plans that will enable you to deduct some of your travel expenses. The only way to do this is to include certain activities in your trip.

Combine business with pleasure. Take a meeting for business in a distant location and all of your airfare is a deductible business expense even though you spend some time on your personal activities. As long as the primary purpose of the trip is business within the United States, transportation and lodging costs and 50 percent of meal expenses on business days can be written off. If you drive instead of fly, you can deduct 56.5 cents per mile, plus parking and tolls.

However, there’s no red line for determining whether the primary reason for your trip is for business or pleasure. Clearly, if you spend more days on business than personal activities, it demonstrates a business need for the travel.

The key to nailing down a deduction for business travel is good record keeping. Be sure to carefully follow the rules outlined on so that if your return is questioned, you can back up your claims. Consider using an app like Expensify to keep track of your business-related travel expenses.

read more…via Writing Off Your Summer Vacation – My Money (

Do I Need an Accountant?

If you are bootstrapping, or starting a small business on a limited budget, you have probably spent some time trying to figure out where you can cut business costs and do more on your own in order to stretch the funds you have available.

One area you may consider doing it yourself instead of hiring it out is accounting. If you have an accounting background and a solid understanding of business finances, then this may be a good place to cut costs. However, if you lack experience in managing the books of a business and expect to learn as you go, you should think twice. Managing your own accounting system incorrectly can hurt your business not only now, but also in the long-term.

Here is a rundown of the things an accountant can do for a small business owner. Review the list carefully, especially if you’re still unsure why an accountant may be a good resource to add to your small business team.

During the Start-Up Process

When you start a business, there are a number of actions you need to take and systems you need to set up in order to create the foundation of a successful business. Here are some ways an accountant can help:

via Do I Need an Accountant?.

Rules for 2013 Summer Hiring

Obtain W-4s from all summer employees, even the owners’ children, students working part-time and foreign students.

 Withhold FITW from all employees, including the owner’s spouse/children, unless a W-4 claims exempt.

Withhold FICA from all employees, even high-school students and those who receive SS benefits. Exception: Employees under 18 working for sole-owner parents.

Pay overtime for hours actually worked over 40 hours in the workweek. You are not required to include as hours worked paid time off (holidays, vacation days). Do not substitute paid nonwork hours for work hours to make all hours straight time, thus avoiding overtime pay.

Example: Eric works 12 hours a day, 4 days of the workweek. He is off the 5th day, a holiday, but is paid for 8 hours. He is correctly paid 40 hours’ straight time + 8 hours’ overtime + 8 holiday (nonwork) hours. Eric’s employer is not allowed to substitute the 8 hours’ holiday pay for Eric’s 8 hours of overtime to avoid paying the overtime rate.

Paid holidays and vacations

Under federal law, paid holidays for part-time and summer help are always optional, but check state laws.

No paid vacation is required—but if you provide paid vacation, some federal and state laws apply.


For temps and part-timers, benefits are optional; if offered, they should be explained in a written benefits plan.

–The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB)

Three Things I’ve Learned From Warren Buffett by Bill Gates| LinkedIn

Know how valuable your time is.

No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time. There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day. Warren (Buffett) has a keen sense of this. He doesn’t let his calendar get filled up with useless meetings. On the other hand, he’s very generous with his time for the people he trusts. He gives his close advisers at Berkshire his phone number, and they can just call him up and he’ll answer the phone.

(Good advice for all business owners…spend time doing what you do best, and leave the other details to those who know those details best. Contact us today ( if you’d like to stop dealing in the bookkeeping details!)

via Three Things I’ve Learned From Warren Buffett | LinkedIn.

Analyzing Business Expenses

budgetTracking business expenses is essential for staying profitable and predicting future income and expenses. Whether you’re doing the analysis or leaving that to your financial person, it’s important to know what’s going on with the finances of your business.

1.         Compare the budgeted numbers to the actual numbers.

If you don’t have a budget, create one based on past years’ data and soldier on from there. Knowing what you plan to make and spend over a year’s time and tracking that plan against actual spending month by month is very helpful in forecasting what lies ahead and how to fix it.

2.         Analyze the income statement.

Accounting software (such as QuickBooks) provides a report of operating expenses called the Profit & Loss Statement or Income Statement. Compare the operating expense figures to last month, last quarter, the average of the last three months, average year to date, and the same month last year. By doing this, expense trends can be identified making it easier to see if a particular expense has increased. This provides the chance to find out what’s happening before it gets out of control.

3.         Understand the business’ fixed and variable costs.

You’ll always have an electric bill, but maybe you only have to buy milk for your ice cream business in the spring and summer months (since ice cream sales are zip in the winter). This is the difference between fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are always there, whether you have income or not—variable costs depend on the amount you’re selling.

4.         Breakeven analysis.

This is the volume of sales needed to cover all costs. A breakeven point can be determined once the variable and fixed costs for the business are known.

To have a strong and successful business it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the financial impact that the most basic business decisions have. Analyzing business expenses is critical to making informed and profitable decisions for your business’ future.

Social Security – Who gets it and when? A Full Explanation!

sscardFor those born in 1942, full retirement age is 65 and 10 mos.;

in 1943, 66;

gradually rising to 67 for those born in 1960 and later.

If full retirement age is reached:

•          Before 2013. Recipients born in 1937 or earlier receive full benefits at age 65. No limit on earnings, no reduction in benefits for those at full-retirement age.

•          In 2013. Recipients can earn up to $40,080, then lose $1 in benefits for each additional $3 earned. From month of full retirement age on, there is no earnings limit.

•          After 2013. Recipients can earn $15,120 in 2013 before losing $1 in benefits for each $2 earned.

Age 50.  Benefits start for disabled surviving spouse.

Age 60.  Benefits start for nondisabled surviving spouse.

Age 62.  Reduced benefits for employee’s spouse or former spouse (if still alive).

Important: 40 earned credits (generally 10 years of work) will make a person eligible for benefits at a certain age—but not necessarily maximum benefits. Credits are unrelated to the amount of the benefits.

Social Security benefits are based on average earnings of the best 35 years of work—not just the last 10 years, as many think. An adjustment is made to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. SSA then calculates average monthly adjusted earnings over those 35 years when the worker earned the most money.

Handy new Website. The SSA’s new “my Social Security account” is a personalized online account that replaces the annual paper statement mailed to workers. When employees have questions about their future benefits, send them to the site below.

The new site lets you access your payment history, earnings record and a benefits verification letter. The letter can be used to prove income to secure a loan, mortgage, housing, state or local benefits, or to prove your age for Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status. The letter can be customized and printed. You can also change your address and sign up for direct deposit.

Anyone 18 or older can sign up at Be ready with data about yourself.

On the same Website, those not yet receiving benefits can access their Social Security statement of earnings, benefits information and estimates of future benefits and link to online services such as applications for retirement disability or Medicare.