25 Jun

Three Things Accounting Firms Can Do For You

Look, let’s be honest here.  Managing our money is a pretty difficult task for anyone, but the more of it you have, the harder it seems to be to manage it.  The worst part about managing your money is how many things that happen in your daily life that eat away at that money, and many of which you have no control over, or no accurate way to gauge how much money they’re going to cost, or, indeed, what is going to happen to cause such a loss.

Then the whole issue is compounded by the fact that, at no point during our schooling does any class prepare you to budget your own money accordingly.  For example, after leaving college, someone told me that when you rent an apartment or house, there is pretty much no one who will rent to you for more than a third of your monthly earnings. Never heard about that in school at any level, but really, it makes good sense, especially when you consider that your living expenses like power and gas and food can easily take up the second third of your monthly income.  Of course, we also don’t spend any time in school looking at things like what we spend money on that is wasteful, or how to pay our taxes, and believe it or not, these are pretty important things to account for as well.

So, when we have these issues, what are we to do?  I mean, it’s not like you can spend a few days and figure out the best way to budget your money, or fix months or years of bad budgeting.  You need help, and that help is in the form of local accounting firms that can help you in various ways.  Below, find just three of the ways that are most likely pertinent to you and your life.

1.  Tax filing

So, one of the most difficult things that you are likely to do every year concerning your finances is probably going to be figuring out how much money you should either be paying or asking for in return from the United States Internal Revenue Service.  The more you make, the more you can owe, or, conversely, the more you can ask for back from the IRS (up to a point), and making sure that you’re getting everything you’re entitled to is a good idea and just plain good business sense.  Hiring one of the many CPA firms near you to help you with this is a great idea, and a great way to make sure that you can bring in more money, or keep more in your pocket every year, which is important when it comes to building your budget.

2.  Budgeting and trimming the fat

So, now that you’ve got your tax problems under control, next you need to consider what to do about your budgeting.  You need a savings, this is something that you simply can’t live a life without.  There are millions of people in the United States who are, sadly, living their entire lives without having any real savings to speak of.  By this I mean that they have less than ten thousand dollars combined between all their savings accounts including retirement.

CPA servicesThe time to begin building your retirement account is now.  If you don’t start now, you’re just going to keep putting it off until you hit that age where you need it and find you have nothing, and by the way with the rate that social security is emptying out, it isn’t going to be there to help you.  Let your accountant help you figure out a workable budget that allows you to deposit into your retirement account and stick to it.

3.  Paying off debt

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to pay off your debt, even if that means that the money that you’re saving in your budget has to go there first.  As long as you have debt, you have a problem, and the longer you let it stick around, the worse off your future can be.  Your debt is going to be accruing interest, and that interest means you’re going to have to pay more on the debt.

I can’t think of any CPA accounting firm that won’t tell you that the best way to save yourself money in the long run is to pay off debt immediately, and they’re going to be able to help you to do so by finding the best way to save money every month.  That money can be put toward paying off that debt.

So, if you’re having money troubles, if the money that you bring in just seems to go out of your pocket far too quickly for your liking, then you should consult a local accountant.  They’ll be able to help you find a way to save, and to save your way to a better financial state.

12 Jun

Experiential Marketing And Your Business

Have you ever turned on a television and watched for a bit?  You will, eventually, see a commercial (unless you’re one of those people who TiVo’s everything and just fast forwards, but don’t be that guy.  That guy has some real attention span issues, and you’re better than that.  I believe in you), if you watch television long enough (crazy talk, I know, but you must believe me).  This commercial will attempt to convince you to exchange your money for the good or goods or services it provides.

This is, basically, the most common and played-out method of advertising.  It’s old-hat, old top.  It’s something that has been done since Grug the Caveman saw that Ug had extra meat that his family didn’t need and attempted to convince him to trade for a shiny pebble (please not, I’m not actually sure this happened, it’s a lighthearted joke.  I guarantee something similar happened somewhere in history, though).  Standard marketing, commercials, ads, billboards and the like, they all work just fine, as is evidenced by the fact that for centuries they were the basis of our trade, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the best way to attract new consumers. To prove my point that there’s a new way to do so, to offer people goods and services, I’m going to talk about experiential marketing at the NRA’s SHOT show that I attended a few years back.

First, a quick explanation of experiential marketing, though.  Basically, regular marketing is a very static affair.  There’s a commercial, an ad, whatever.  It tells you that the product I have to sell to you is amazing, or that it’s something that will make your life better in some noticeable way, or that it will make people think you’re awesome, or something similar.  You look at it, and then that’s pretty much the end, unless the catchy jingle gets stuck in your head or unless you act on the commercial and buy my product.  Experiential marketing doesn’t just tell you a story, show you a film, anything like that; it also packages this with an experience, something that will stick with you.  Back to SHOT show.

SHOW show is basically the NRA putting on a big show for all the gun manufacturers (and anything to do with gun manufacturing) to show off their new products to the public, although you can also find police departments, private military companies, and sometimes even people who work in acquisitions for the military showing up to look at the new gear that’s being offered.  Then, of course, there are the people who make up the general public, the market that is going to be consuming many of these products for private and civilian use, milling around between the tradeshow booths.

trade show exhibit designNow, while some of these people are actually there looking at what they’re going to be buying in the near future, most of them are just there for the experience (thus why you find people have to pay to get in to the expo, rather than it being free to everyone who wants to come).  And the SHOT show delivers an experience.  If you have the proper credentials, you can, in fact, see a lot of the firearms, especially the automatic ones (also known as machine guns) in use at a range nearby.  Again, with the right credentials, they’ll take you to said range (normally around twenty minutes’ drive from the expo location) and will allow you to handle the firearms under safe conditions, and to fire them at a target or a series of targets.  However, even for those who don’t get to go and experience some range time, some of the exhibit displays have their own experience built-in.

Most of them allow you to handle the gear in some way or another.  However, they also have booths that are doing things like, say, allowing you to watch body armor in use.  Others still will allow you to watch a lucky volunteer be hit with a TASER (having been tased both with alligator clips and with the barbs, it’s actually an interesting thing, I didn’t find painful at all, really).  All of this is making sure that, when you leave, you remember those companies, because they offered you more than just a place to show products, they offered you an experience that will stay with you forever.

In other words, if you’re going to be spending the money on a booth, and taking the time to go out there and advertise, you better up your game and make sure that you stand out. Just remember to keep it appropriate to the event.

11 Jun

Four Reasons To Visit Your Dentist

Look, let’s be honest here.  A lot of people don’t like to go and visit their dentist, and I’m no different.  You have to balance this out with the fact that, no matter who or what you are, we all need, from time to time, quality dental care in order to make sure that our teeth are the best they can be, and to make sure that we will continue to have those teeth for the foreseeable future. Nobody wants to go through their life toothless for any portion of it, but I can’t think of anyone in the world who wants to be toothless by the time they hit thirty, and this means that you have to visit your dentist regularly, as well as making sure that when you’re at home, you spend the time needed every day to brush and floss and properly clean your teeth.  Otherwise, all the dental care in the world isn’t going to help, even if you’re visiting your dentist every six months.

There’s a lot of very good reasons to visit your cosmetic dentist and to see what they can do for you, and in this post, I’d like to point out and discuss just a few of them.  Four, for example.

1.  Examination

The basic reason to go and see a dentist is just for your standard examination, and maybe for the cleaning of your teeth, depending on how well you take care of yourself and your teeth normally.  Depending on that information, you may need to see your dentist every six months, or you may only need to see your dentist once a year, which is what most people do.

cosmetic dentistry for smile correctionAnother good thing about going for a dental examination regularly is that you’re going to be able to get issues out of the way.  Issues like cavities, for example.

2.  Treatment of cavities

So, if you don’t keep up with the proper brushing and flossing and all that, you’re going to find that you will, eventually, have a bit of pain in your tooth.  It’ll start small, maybe your tooth will just be more sensitive to hot and cold (by which I really mean cold.  If you have a cavity, the minute that you bite into something cold, like ice cream, it is going to be intensely painful, and you will know that you have a problem).  Eventually, it turns into a lot of pain.

Anyone who works in professional family dentistry will be able to help you spot, and treat, a cavity, which is great, because if you ignore it for too long, it becomes an abscess.

3.  Treatment of abscess

Once you have an abscess, you have entered a world of hurt.  An abscess, a dental abscess, isn’t just some discomfort any time you eat something cold.  It’s far worse than that.

Basically, an abscess means that you’ve let a tooth go so long that it is rotting.  There’s all sorts of terrible things in your tooth, and they’re working their way toward the nerves.  Those nerves, then, will be vulnerable, and that bacteria rotting your teeth can travel up it.  This causes immense pain, a fever, and eventually, when the infection gets to the brain, it causes a very terrible coma that nobody has yet been reported to come out of.  Scary stuff, believe you me, and the pain is almost crippling, to the point where even the toughest men find themselves unable to think straight.

4.  Braces

The last reason we’ll discuss is standard braces.  A lot of people will visit their cosmetic dentist or orthodontist to get braces over their lifetime.  In fact, recent research suggests that in the United States, one out of every three people in the nation will need to, and will, over the span of their life, have braces of some sort in order to fix an issue with the alignment of their teeth.  Obviously, then, this is something important, and something that people will want to fix.  There’s a lot of ways to do so, to fix the alignment of the teeth, but in general, the most effective ways to do so are either with the use of the standard metal braces that have been in use since the seventies, or the use of Invisalign invisible braces.

So, even if you don’t like to visit your local cosmetic dentist, you should still consider doing so regularly, for the four things that I’ve mentioned already.  It’ll be good for you, good for your health, and it’ll serve you well in the long run.

9 Jun

4 Things A Website Developer Can Do For you

If you’re running a business in this modern age, there’s a good chance that you have a website of some sort to allow people to come and view what you have to offer them without having to come into your store or spending their time answering any questions that you may have to ask about products or availability or whatever the case may be.  If you don’t have a website, before you can even really take advantage of anything I’m writing in here, you need to get one.  Seriously, how do you not have a website?  There are hipster companies that have productivity levels that are a complete joke (because they think that doing everything like they live in the early 1900s somehow makes it more holy?  Who know.  All I know is that nothing about having to wait ten minutes for them to make my cup of ‘artisanal’ coffee makes it taste any better, but it certainly does make me angry and less likely to ever return to your business or to suggest it to anyone else), and they still have a website, and a Facebook page, and a twitter, and an Instagram, so that they can share pictures of them standing around doing no work as their business accumulates debt, because they’re at least looking well-groomed with their manicured hands, carefully teased hair-styles, and perfectly cut mustaches (well, perfectly cut if we lived in the 1880s), and their overpriced clothing that is meant to give the idea that they’re an average laborer or machinist in the years when people actually could make a living doing such things.  Tell me that you’re better than a hipster company.  Tell me that it’s so.

expert responsive website developerSo, what can a website developer do to help you?  Quite a lot, really, but here are four ways that they can assist you, personally, with your internet page issues.

1.  Grab attention

You know, if you look at the way that people jump to conclusions, you’ll find that we all do it, and quite fast.  It’s been said that, on a date, a woman knows if she’s going to ask for a second date pretty soon after meeting you.  The same thing is true with websites.  People spend a few seconds taking a look and getting a first impression, and if it isn’t a good one, they click on back to the page before.  You need to grab their attention right away, making sure that you’re giving them some real reason to be there.

2.  Crafting content

Something that any design agency that you hire is going to need to do for you is to help you make sure you have content to show.  Now, whether this means helping you to update your look every so often, or putting up articles and postings by your employees (or theirs) is up to debate based on what you’re doing as far as your business goes, but if people show up and see nothing ever changed on your website, they will go elsewhere.

3.  Building trust

If someone doesn’t trust you or your website, you’re going to lose their possible business.  There are a lot of ways to build trust, and the first is to have a website that doesn’t look like it was designed by a high school, something that your developer can help you to do.  However, there are other ways.  For example, you can make sure that you offer something to customers to appreciate their loyalty.  Behind the scenes, you can make sure that a customer’s information for shipping is kept secret so that it doesn’t get leaked.  It’s the little things that build trust, just like any relationship.

4.  Maintain the website

If I go to a website and two-thirds of the links are dead, I’m not going to trust anything that website has to say.  That is a website that is basically the internet equivalent of the abandoned house in everyone’s neighborhood where the windows are all broken and people joke that it’s being used to cook meth.  You need to have a digital agency that is going to keep your site up and running, not just put it up there and never tend to it.  Otherwise, it will eventually begin to look abandoned, and that is not a good thing at all.

Long story short, if you need help with maintaining your website and web presence, don’t be afraid to hire someone to do it for you.  It’s a lot better than making your own website that nobody wants to go to, believe me.

8 Jun

Three Ways Orthodontists Aid You

Your orthodontist is an important part of the process of keeping your teeth healthy and making sure that they last a long time.  Along with your local professional dentist, they make sure that your teeth will be healthy, preserved, and perfectly aligned as long as is possible (of course, you have to do some work yourself, you can’t just rely on your dentist to clean them every year or every six months and think that that’s all it’s going to take).

While dentists are concerned with making sure that your teeth don’t fall out, busying themselves with protecting them with ‘polish’ (that always seems to make me nauseous for a day after) and fluoride treatments, orthodontists are more concerned with the alignment of your teeth and the way that said alignment impacts your dental health, and your life in general.  Misaligned teeth can do damage to themselves, to begin with, due to the fact that they aren’t being subjected to the wear and tear that they were designed for, as well as the fact that they simply aren’t going to be aligned properly in your mouth to make your smile the best that it possibly can be.

Because of this, if you’re having issues with the natural alignment of your teeth, it’s important that you see your local practitioner of board-certified orthodontistry.  Here’s just three ways in which they’ll be able to help you.

1.  Examination and diagnosis of misalignments and their causes

To begin with, your local professional orthodontist is going to be able to help you with diagnosing the cause of your particular misalignment.  Were you, for example, a thumb-sucker as a child, reliant upon that sucking motion for self-comfort well past the age when such is appropriate?  Well, this can, in the long term, especially if it continues for years and years, even after you’ve lost your baby teeth, lead to your teeth being out of alignment.  There’s also a plethora of natural reasons that your teeth might not come in perfectly straight, and the end result is that you’re going to need something done to them in order to make sure that your teeth are the best they can be.

straighten teeth with orthodontic treatmentNow, in extreme situations, that can mean that you need to have some sort of dental surgery done.  For example, a common issue is overcrowding, meaning that your mouth just doesn’t have enough room for all the teeth that are coming into it.  When you experience this, you’re going to find that your teeth are slowly misaligning, and may even be overlapping.  This can be painful, in fact; when you see people who are getting their wisdom teeth removed, they’re doing so because wisdom teeth just aren’t designed to fit into the average mouth any more, and leaving them in can cause pain and alignment issues.  This means you’re going to need the tooth cut out or pulled out to alleviate your issue.

However, this is basically the worst case scenario.  The majority of people will just get some form of braces.

2.  Standard metal braces for treatment

Standard metal braces are the most common method of treating misaligned teeth used in the world today.  It’s a treatment that’s been around since the seventies, and it is simplicity in itself.  It consists of using a series of metal brackets, affixed to the teeth, and a wire run over said brackets, held in place over them with the use of a rubber band, to apply the appropriate tension to the teeth to make sure that they’re all as straight as they can be.  However, there is a newer way to treat such alignment issues…

3.  Invisalign braces for treatment

Invisalign is basically the newest and most modern method of realigning teeth available today.  It doesn’t have any metal in it at all, unlike its predecessor; in fact, it’s made entirely of a clear plastic that allows the natural color of the teeth through, making it invisible when placed over said teeth.  They’re discreet teeth braces for adults and teens, capable of doing the same job as standard braces, but doing it in a way that they don’t draw attention to the mouth as they fix the issues with it.  Truly, they’re a great step forward in tooth realignment technology.

So, if you’re looking to realign your teeth, go see your local professional orthodontist and see what they can do for you.  They’ll be able to tell you the problem that you’re having, what is causing it, and most importantly, they’ll be able to tell you how they’re going to help you fix it.

3 Jun

Why Your Enclosed Grow Room Should Be Modular

grow room designerIn recent times, most growers have realized that the ultimate method for growing the best marijuana possible is a CGE, or Closed Growing Environment. A CGE is an isolated micro-climate, created specifically to maintain the optimum environment for growing cannabis plants. This method is so vastly superior because it prevents so many of the major obstacles associated with growing, problems like mildew, mold, fungi, pest infestation, stresses on the plants, light contamination, improper CO2 levels, all of these factors and environmental variables can be prevented by a CGE, because in the CGE, the only environment your plants will be exposed to is the CGE.

So, how is this accomplished? The CGE is created by containing your entire grow operation within an enclosed indoor marijuana grow room. This enclosed environment is then controlled with various mechanisms, which monitor every element of the micro-climate, and regulate it to maintain optimum conditions. Some enclosed grows pump in filtered air from outside, but to be a true CGE, the air within is instead recycled, and the CO2 that would come from outside is replaced by a CO2 tank or generator. This ensures that no contaminants are allowed in from the outside world, which means no mold, no mites, no mildew, nothing but the equipment and your green beauties.

Most such systems come in prefabricated kits, the best of which come with everything you need, from the lights to the fans to the irrigation to the enclosure itself. However, some of these prefabricated systems have come in only a certain number of sizes and dimensions, and this has been one downside to the prefab system. However, that problem now no longer exists, as many of the leading grow room designers and builders are now creating not a limited number of prefabricated kits, but a modular system that can be adjusted to virtually any size, and any dimensions that you require, to make the maximum use of your space.

The reason the modular method is superior is obvious, it can be outfitted to utilize just about any space you may want to grow in. From a 35 square foot cabinet to a 350 square foot basement, these modular grow rooms can be adjusted and customized to suit anyone’s needs. If you choose a truly quality company, then you may even be able to have a custom grow room builder design and install your grow room for you, to ensure that absolutely nothing goes wrong, and that every facet of the room is perfected for your purposes.

To determine how big of a grow room you require, you can simply look at your space, and also how much cannabis you want to produce. Each light typically supports four adult plants, taking up a 6 by 6, or 8 by 8 foot area, depending on the size of the plants. Height of the room usually depends on what type of plants are being grown, indica or sativa, but typically should be at least 6-8 feet high. From that information, you simply look at the space you have, see how many such units can fit into it, and you already have a rough idea of how big your enclosed grow room needs to be. Of course, the best way to design your grow room is with the assistance of a professional grow room designer, who hopefully will also be installing your grow room for you.

With such a system in place, your marijuana growing enterprise will be incredibly easy. With all of the systems in place and your CGE maintained, this grow room will practically grow the marijuana without you. If you really want to go all out, you can even install a centralized computer control system that will monitor and adjust every aspect of your grow, including temperature, light timers, irrigation, PH level of the water if you use hydroponics, humidity, CO2 levels, nutrient injections, heating and cooling, and even security. With a system like this, you practically won’t even have to be present for your grow. In fact, it’s even possible to install cameras, and monitor your grow from across the world, if you so desire.

Modern technology has really changed the game of growing cannabis, and a modular grow room is just one more such advancement in technology. Clearly, LED lights have made growing better. Hydroponics systems have made growing better. Central control systems have made growing better. Grow room enclosures have made growing better, and now those enclosures being modular has significantly made growing better, once again. With all of these improvements, it’s hard to imagine where we’ll go next; growing in space?

26 May

Learning About Hedge Funds

hedge fundFor a variety of reasons, you may at some point find yourself with a significant amount of money you’d prefer to invest. Hedge funds are a common way to invest large sums of money, and if managed properly they can provide a huge return on investment. It’s not easy to understand the complex world of hedge funds however. Properly managing a hedge fund requires a deep understanding of financial markets and accounting principles. These funds capitalize on the a concept termed ‘hedging,’ which attempts to turn a profit regardless of the economic environment.

Hedge funds draw attention because they are dynamic and offer many different investment opportunities. They are not required to provide the same level of detailed data one would see provided a regarding a mutual funds, because hedge funds are private. The accountant running a hedge fund must only provide and annual audit, required by the IRS.

In order to properly manage a hedge fund, an experienced and talented accountant with knowledge of investments and markets will be required. Hedging uses ‘long’ or ‘short’ position on investments. A long position is more straightforward, the idea being that one purchases stock or an index and waits, hoping the value will increase. Things begin to get quite complicated when it comes to short positions. They are extremely involved and require a thorough understanding of borrowing and repaying, and selling and repurchasing to take advantage of a dropping market. Short investments are made in the hopes that stock values will decrease. The help of expert CPA firms is strongly suggest when trying to understand short positions.

In the end, hedge funds typically have an ultimate goal. They seek to provide an “absolute return,” or to turn a profit whether the market is trending up or down. It may seem implausible or even impossible, but it is, it’s just difficult and quite risky. Using a ‘long’ position to make an investment means you (or your investor) is confident that the assets will increase in value, while the opposite is true for a ‘short’ position investment. Hedge funds truly need to be managed by an individual with an immense knowledge of markets and investments. Making a profit isn’t easy in any economic climate, but hedge funds are expected to return a profit even in a down market.

One way managers accomplish this is by following a hedge fund strategy called the 130-30 strategy. It can be explained rather simply using stocks.

Check it out:

  1. A short seller investor invests $100 in a group of stocks believe to be undervalued.
  2. Using $30 of the worst-performing of the $100 worth of stocks as collateral, the broker borrows $30 worth of what is thought to be overvalued stock.
  3. The overvalued stock is sold right away, with hopes that its value (per-share) decreases quickly.
  4. After the stock’s value does decrease, for example to $10, it’s purchased again at the lower price.
  5. Then the broker returns the shares to the securities lender, who returns the $30 collateral for a profit of $20.
  6. This $20 is typically invested into the best performing stocks, and the process will be repeated.

Even if you’re not going to become a hedge fund manager, it’s key to understand the basics if you want to invest in hedge funds. It’s always a good idea to do some independent research if you’re interested in learning more about hedge funds, or you could talk to an accountant who specializes in hedge funds, and investor, or a different financial services provider.

Recently, hedge fund investments have become more accessible and available to “normal” people. Meaning, hedge funds used to the tool of only rich investors, but the economy has changed opening them up to more individuals. Keep in mind that information on hedge funds is much more limited than it is for other investment options. It’s much easier to get regular updates and financial data about these investments than it will be for hedge funds. Beyond an annual audit, you will not see much.

Speaking of the audits, they’re handled by independent accounting firms, completely unaffiliated with the hedge fund manager or investment group. The audits must be carried out in compliance set forth by the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission), and help investors understand where they stand. Typically the audit will carry an opinion aimed at verifying the accuracy and validity of the fund’s financial statements. The audit seeks to ensure that this information is being presented clearly and fairly to investors. The auditor must be thorough and become intimately familiar with the fund’s investments through testing. The fund’s procedures are check and made sure to be in line with the original paperwork regarding the fund. The audit will let investors know whether or not the fund is performing up to snuff.

Hedge funds are quite complex and need to be researched at length if one wishes to gain an expert understanding of them. This article gets you started on the right foot, but there is much more to learn.