May 2005

All of your business needs. One easy solution.

05/17/2005       Vol 2 Issue 5

http://www.offassist.com


I passed! ... and other ramblings...
I passed the CVA (Certified Virtual Assistant) exam with high marks!  I'm so proud of myself for finally getting this done.  It has been on my "to do" list for longer than I care to admit.  I now hold my CVA as well as having passed the EthicsCheck exam.  I've been debating going for the IVAA CRESS (Certified Real Estate Support Specialist) designation, but have decided to take the summer off from exams.  I've accomplished more than I thought I would over the past couple of months and deserve a bit of a break from all the testing.

In this issue:

  • "Tom's Tech Tip" talks about backup options for your computer
  • I've started a new section for QuickBooks tips (please feel free to submit a question)
  • Our spotlight this month is on Castle Hill Investments
  • My usual collection of quirky office and accounting humor.

I am also including an article I wrote for the March 2005 IVAACast newsletter about my PDA, Morris. Poor Morris was recently retired and has been replaced with a brand new shiny Treo 650 PDA Phone. He doesn't have a name yet and I'm taking suggestions :) I miss Morris, but this upgrade has really made me much more productive - I can even check my email and browse the web on this thing. Technology truly amazes me.

I hope you enjoy this month's issue! I am always looking for articles. If you have an article you would like to write, please feel free to email me at candy@offassist.com

For This VA, Freedom is Spelled PDA
by: Candy Beauchamp

Walking into my office this morning, I wondered aloud, “Do I have time to run out for a pedicure today?” Morris tells me that I have a lunch appointment with a client and a report due by 5:00 PM. So much for that idea, right? Oh wait, Morris pipes in that I have a hair appointment on Wednesday, why don’t I just do both at the same time. Good old Morris, he never misses a beat. I often wonder what kind of shambles my life would be in without him. He never forgets, he never loses that important piece of information in the pile on my desk, in fact, he has never let me down. 

Let Me Introduce You 
Morris is my PDA. He’s goes everywhere with me: to my office, to the grocery store, to my kid’s school and he’s even been known to show up to family gatherings. My PDA may be the single most important tool in my business. It holds the schedule of my life, everything from the grocery list to deadlines for clients to reminders to pick up my child from preschool. In fact, he’s become such an integral part of my life, I even gave him a name. Morris. Just sounds dependable, doesn’t it? What better instrument to help keep me on track. 

My Life Was Chaos Before Morris 
When I first opened my business, it was next to impossible to tell where my business life left off and my family life started. It was complete chaos in my home office. I would spend at least 30 minutes every day just trying to find scraps of paper I had written things on. I would find out I had double-scheduled something and have to reschedule with a client. That wasn’t fair to them or to me. I tried a calendar, but when I was out of my office that was no help. Then the fateful day arrived … I found Morris. The chaos has been greatly diminished ever since. 

No More Missed Deadlines 
The best part of organizing your life in this way is that you never wonder about deadlines, you never miss a task and you always have a quick way to check your schedule while standing in line at the grocery store. I’ve never had to say “let me check my schedule and call you back.” More importantly, I feel like I have a plan every day. Morris is set up to sync with “My Yahoo.” They sync together my calendar, my address book, my task list, etc. Every morning when I open my browser, it’s set to open at my calendar so I know I will spend five minutes just reviewing what my day is going to be like. Morris even beeps 15 minutes before a scheduled event to remind me throughout the day. 

The Answer To My Business Dilemma 
Morris may not be the answer to your business, but something similar might be. If you are like me, you’ve spent entirely too much time each day just digging through slips of paper and trying to remember deadlines. There is a better way. But it won’t happen overnight. It took me a good two months to get used to using my PDA Pilot and a lot of discipline, but the feeling of control and organization is worth it. My life is so much easier with Morris. I think I’ll keep him. 

Q: What is the definition of an accountant?

A: Someone who solves a problem, you didn't know you had, in a way you don't understand.

Quickie QuickBooks Q & A 

Question: I am a sole proprietor and have a separate account for my small business. I recently paid $500 for a new printer from my personal account. I don't want to reimburse myself from the company account, but I do need it to show in my business books. What do I do?

Answer: This is actually one of the most common questions I get from people. It's important to make sure all of your business assets (in this case, a printer) is accounted for in your business financial reports. The simplest way to do this is to make what is called a General Journal entry to turn that printer into an owner's investment to the company.

  1. In your QuickBooks company file, go to File and then Make General Journal Entries.

  2. Use the date of the purchase for the entry date and let the program choose an entry number.

  3. On the first grid line, you want the account to be Owner's Investments (this is usually a sub-account of Owner's Equity). You will want to put 500.00 in the credit column and a descriptive memo.

  4. On the second grid line, you want the account to be "Printer - Description of Printer" - It will prompt you to create a new account (make sure it is listed as a fixed asset). You will want to put 500.00 in the debit column and a descriptive memo.

  5. That's it! Just save it and run a Balance Sheet from the reports menu to make sure it all looks correct.




 


A special thank you to our copyeditor and all-around-language-geek, Dyanna Larson of Ink Think - visit her website for more information about her services.

 
 
Q: What is the definition of a good tax accountant?

A: Someone who has a loophole named after him.
 
Important Tax Deadlines
May 16 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due

May 16 - IRS Form 990 due for exempt organizations

June 15 - RS Monthly payroll tax deposits due

June 15 - 2nd quarter 2005 estimated tax payments due

June 15 - US citizens overseas 2004 tax returns due (or file 4868)

 

 

Spotlight On... Castle Hill Investments 
Center stage this month is Castle Hill Investments.

Robert Grunnah, Jr. was a passionate real estate investor whose day job was building software products for a number of Austin area high tech companies. When the dot-com companies began to go bust he decided it was time to make his passion his profession.

After completing his MBA at the University of Texas at Austin, Robert began building Castle Hill Investments. They are now in their seventh year and one of Central Texas' premiere firms, assisting investors with every step of the real estate investment process. They specialize in commercial investment property and duplexes/fourplexes in Austin and the surrounding area.

Castle Hill Investments provides seller assistance for current investment property owners, including 1031 exchanges, turnkey services for buyers at all levels of involvement, and an affiliated property management service-a boon for the 40% of their customers who have never even set foot in Texas.

When asked why he named his company Castle Hill Robert says, "I just like the name, I guess…It's a classy name… and symbolizes a person's 'castle' (dwelling) and 'hill', which is often associated with affluence… Plus the domain name castlehillinvestments.com was still available."

For more information about Castle Hill Investments, please visit their website at http://www.castlehillinvestments.com


Tech Talk with Tom... backing up 

Well, there is another type of threat that no matter how hard you scan, or filter, or defrag you just can't prevent. That is the threat of damage, PHYSICAL damage, to your computer or hard drive. In this tech tip, I'm going to go over a few different methods of ensuring your information stays safe and available, even if your computer does not. 

The only way to ensure that your data stays safe in the case of computer failure, fire, flood, or other physical danger is to regularly backup your data. There are three main methods of accomplishing this in use today: 1.) CD/DVD, 2.) External Hard drive, 3.) Online storage. We will go over the pro's and con's of these three different methods. Whichever method  you choose, please remember that it is important that backups always be stored off site from where your computer is located. It doesn't do any good if the backup is destroyed along with the computer it came from.

CD/DVD Backup
Most people today have some type of recordable drive in their PC's, often referred to as a "burner". Using special recordable media, you can often simply just drag and drop files that you would like to save onto a CD, then, when ready to write the files, simply click a button and off you go. The major benefit of this method of back up is that it is relatively inexpensive on the hardware side of the equation. The downside is that you either 1.) Have to buy a new disk every time you want to back up, or 2.) Have a special re-writable drive that allows you to delete or replace data on the disk. I recommend CD/DVD backup for those that have only a few files that they need to store or, only make minor changes to their files.

External Hard drive
This is probably the EASIEST method of backing up your data, as most external hard drives come with a back up utility or two in the box with them. These drives simply plug into an existing USB port on your computer.  You install the software, are asked a series of questions about your computer usage, and you are done. This is my personal backup of choice since you can easily and fairly rapidly back up and entire hard drive. The main benefit of this method is the ease of use, however the downside is that there may be more upfront cost for new hardware than you are ready to pay. I recommend external hard drive backup for those with a LOT of files, or who feel more secure knowing that their entire hard drive is copied and ready-to-go should something happen to their main computer. This method is also the best for those that are less "computer savvy" than others.

Online Storage
Maybe you travel a lot, or maybe you just like to share data online with others. Maybe you just have one or two really important files that you feel MUST be saved at all costs. Whatever your reasons, some people have a definite need for online file storage. These services usually have two costs: 1.) How much data you can store and 2.) How often you transfer those files. This method can easily end up being the most costly, as well as one of the hardest methods to master. But if you have one of the needs listed above, then this might just be the method of choice for you. The major benefit of this method is that your files are IMMEDIATELY available off-site, but for some, the cost and difficulty may prove too much.

Well, folks, those are the three major methods of backing up your computer. If you are interested in any of them, or would like more information on this topic, please feel free to e-mail me at daystar@lansedge.com.

Tom Beauchamp is the owner of LAN’s Edge in Austin, TX. LAN’s Edge is a computer gaming center that offers PC and Xbox gaming as well as a high-speed internet connections, and PC sales and repair.  He can be reached at daystar@lansedge.com. Visit http://www.lansedge.com for more information.  

 


Have an article you’d like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?
Email candy@offassist.com.

 

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This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. (c) 2005
Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA.