November 2010  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 7 Issue 9

Happy Thanksgiving!

A couple of weeks ago, we held the very first Texas Virtual Assistance League unconference, this is one of my little side projects as most of you know. Ten of us got together in a large conference room (Regus is highly recommended, by the way, they did awesome!) and had a few presentations and discussions. It was so nice to get together with my peers and learn from each other. I highly recommend everyone to take every opportunity that they can to grow and learn at such things.

Things here are winding down for the holidays, always bittersweet for me because I know the crazy time of year is coming up - chock full of W2s and 1099s. I also made a brave decision in my business last month. I will not be actively working on Fridays for my clients. That's going to be a day each week I take off to concentrate on my other volunteer and personal projects. I was amazed at how all of my clients were very accepting and I had several email me that they thought it was great. It feels good to know that other business owners, my clients, "get it". I'm looking forward to spending that time dedicated to myself instead of trying to spread it out throughout the week.

To those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving!

In this issue...

No, it's not December, but it will be, soon, and for many of us that means the season of (gift and charitable) giving will soon be upon us. Before you send those cards, order those gift baskets, or anything else, check out this month's article about some of the things you ought to consider before sending gifts to your business partners or clients.

Business Gift Giving
By Lydia Ramsey

Giving gifts in business is a way of developing and maintaining relationships. It may be done between the company and its customers, between the company and its employees or among employees within the company. When handled in the right way, gifts bring pleasure to the giver and the recipient. Done improperly, gift giving can create problems and generate negative feelings. Before you venture forth to purchase that business gift, you need to consider a number of factors.

Know the company policy. That means being aware of your own company’s policy and that of the recipient’s company. It’s easy enough to check within your own organization; however, it may not be so simple to find out if your customer may accept a gift. If you have doubts, be prepared that your gift might be refused and accept the refusal graciously.

Learn what the gift giving traditions are in your organization. Find out what has gone on in the past. Depending on your position, you may decide to start a new tradition; but be sensitive to history.

Know when it is appropriate to offer gifts. Occasions for gift giving in business fall into six categories: family, personal, company, employee recognition, thank you and holiday. Family events are births, weddings and funerals. Personal occasions are birthdays and illness. Promotions, retirement and other work-related milestones are times for company recognition. Sadly, thank you gifts around the office are the exception rather than the rule.

Remember that one size does not fit all. Select gifts that reflect the taste, interests and culture of the other person, and try to connect them to office or work. Since this is about business, your gifts should be professional and send a positive message about your organization.

Article source: Business Etiquette Articles

NOTE: Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author featured in the Wall Street Journal and many other off-line and on-line publications. Lydia shares her business etiquette tips in her monthly e-zine, her blog and on Twitter. To register for these free services visit Manners That Sell today!

QuickBooks Tip

How do I track my profitability with a new client contract?

Q: I am pre-paying some expenses for a client but need to bill it back to them. Is there a way to automate this in QuickBooks so I don’t forget?

A: Yes! When you enter the expense in your check register be sure to enter the customer name in the customer:job column and be sure the check the box in the “Billable” column. When you do your billing a box will pop up reminding you that you have billable expenses. Be sure “select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice” is selected then hit “OK”. The second tab, expenses, will have all your billable expenses listed. Select the items that need to be billed and choose OK. Your items will show up on your invoice.

A couple tips:

1. If you mark-up expenses that you prepay for clients you can choose your mark-up amount here and it will mark items up automatically.

2. If you do not itemize billable expenses you can select the box at the bottom “print selected time and costs as one invoice item”. Be sure to select your time separately or you will get one line item for everything.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!


What do accountants suffer from that ordinary people don't?


Tax Deadlines

November 1

- 3rd Quarter Payroll Taxes Due
- Employer's Deposit Federal Unemployment (FUTA)
- 3rd Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher

November 15

- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

Tech Talk With Tom...

Old Computers

My son and I are both into computer games. It can be an expensive hobby keeping not only one, but now two computers capable of running today’s new games. A friend of his recently got into the hobby as well, but the only computer available to him is much older and won’t play some games. His dad asked me a very reasonable question: “Why not?”

The answer applies not only to computers used for gaming, but also for ones in an office application. If you aren’t upgrading your office computers, you may be sacrificing productivity over a long period of time to save a couple of hundred dollars today. Here is why (assuming your computer is around 5 years old):

CPU Speed: Today’s budget CPUs are at least 20 times faster than the CPU’s available just 5 years ago. The CPU is the main component of your computer and will do the most to determine its speed.

Memory: Oh for the days of 512 MB of RAM. Today’s lowest end systems usually ship with at least 2 GB of memory. Additionally, memory access speed has tripled.

Hard Drive: 5 years ago, 40GB (for about $80) was a decent sized hard drive. Today’s drives are available in sizes surpassing 1TB (for about $70). Also, seek and access times are much lower due to new caching technologies and faster platter speeds.

Graphics: Most computers will come with some type of onboard graphics processors. This handles the work of handling your display while the CPU handles raw data. They also manage viewing of videos, photos, and many other forms of media. (And yes, also computer games.) The onboard graphics available today rival even the most powerful of add-on graphics cards available 5 years ago.

So that is why your 5 year old computer will not run as well as one (even a cheap one) that just came out of the box. There is only so much you can do with an old computer to speed it up. Mostly this is due to component obsolescence. You may be able to upgrade that old clunker, but chances are, it will still be much slower than buying something new.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at

Spotlight On...

Tom Turkey!

How did 'Tom Turkey' get his name?

Originally, the turkey was supposed to be our national bird. Benjamin Franklin really didn't like the eagle because he felt it had bad morals because it robbed its food for a living. The turkey, however, was more respectable and was a true native bird of North America. However, others felt that the eagle had a more biblical significance and so it won out over the turkey. Benjamin Franklin named it after Thomas Jefferson when he would not allow it to be national birds.

How did the wishbone get started?

The wishbone custom started a long time ago. The Etruscans believed fowl were fortune tellers because the hen announced she would be laying an egg with a squawk and the rooster told of the coming of a new day with his early morning crowing. A circle was drawn in the dirt and divided into twenty wedges that represented the twenty letters in the Etruscan alphabet. A piece of grain would be placed in each wedge. A hen would then be allowed to peck at the grain. As she ate, a scribe would list the letters in order and those letters would be interpreted by the high priests to answer questions.

When one of these chickens was killed, its collarbone was considered sacred and left under the hot sun to dry. Anyone was permitted to stroke an unbroken bone and make a wish, thus, the name wishbone. The Romans took many of the Etruscan customs as their own and since everyone wanted good fortune, they fought over the bones, breaking them.

It is said that the phrases "I need a lucky break" or "I never get a break" come from being the loser in this tug of chicken bone contest.

The English heard of this superstition from the Romans and called their wishbones merry thoughts after the merry or happy wishes that most people desired. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in the New World, they brought along the custom of breaking the wishbone. When they discovered the northeastern woods of North America were filled with turkeys, they changed their custom from the chicken bone to the turkey bone.

So, two people take hold of either side of the bone, some insist they must use their little fingers only, and pull until it breaks. Whoever gets the largest piece can make a wish which, if not told to anyone, will come true.

Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

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?


The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of Time Is Of The Es-Cents.