Saturday, February 5, 2011

Personal Accounting

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If you have a checking account, of course you balance it periodically to account for any differences between what's in your statement and what you wrote down for checks and deposits. Many people do it once a month when their statement is mailed to them, but with the advent of online banking, you can do it daily if you're the sort whose banking tends to get away from them. 

You balance your checkbook to note any charges in your checking account that you haven't recorded in your checkbook. Some of these can include ATM fees, overdraft fees, special transaction fees or low balance fees, if you're required to keep a minimum balance in your account. You also balance your checkbook to record any credits that you haven't noted previously. They might include automatic deposits, or refunds or other electronic deposits. Your checking account might be an interest-bearing account and you want to record any interest that it's earned. 

You also need to discover if you've made any errors in your recordkeeping or if the bank has made any errors.  

Another form of accounting that we all dread is the filing of annual federal income tax returns. Many people use a CPA to do their returns; others do it themselves. Most forms include the following items:

Income - any money you've earned from working or owning assets, unless there are specific exemptions from income tax. 

Personal exemptions - this is a certain amount of income that is excused from tax. 

Standard deduction - some personal expenditures or business expenses can be deducted from your income to reduce the taxable amount of income. These expenses include items such as interest paid on your home mortgage, charitable contributions and property taxes. 

Taxable income - This is the balance of income that's subject to taxes after personal exemptions and deductions are factored in. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Landscaping Your Garden - 3 Tips

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Landscaping is usually a fairly big task, consuming much time and energy. But before you hire that professional, here are some tips that could save both time and money.

1. Spend some time thinking about exactly how you want the final design to be. You need to take account of the style and function of your landscape. Do you want to include an area for entertaining? A barbeque? Is there to be an area for children to play, a fishpond or a swimming pool? An idea of the plants you want to be there will also help. Focus on the area where you spend most of your time. That's a good place to start.

2. Think twice before hiring a pro. An independent designer might cost you hundreds of dollars when you may be able to access free plans on the internet or at a nursery. But if you have an awkward block such as very steep ground, a pro might give you the expertise to save costly mistakes.

3. The style of your home must be taken into account. If you have a rural cottage, formal gardens surrounding it will look out of place. Think also about your lifestyle. Do you want to spend hours caring for many beds of annuals or pruning beds of roses? If so, go ahead and plant them, but if you'd rather spend your free time at the beach, then go for an easy-care garden and landscape.

Here are the various landscape styles you can choose for your own garden:

a. Formal. This style uses lots of straight lines and perfect geometrical shapes. Orderly arrangement of plants instead of random positioning is employed. Close arrangement and pruning is seen on many landscaped gardens with this style.

b. Informal. This kind of landscaping workds well with cosy cottages. Beds with curved edges instead of straight lines and random placement of plants suit this landscape style.

c. English Garden. This style emphasizes the harmony between the house’s architecture and the garden.

d. Formal/Informal Garden. This style often comes with a brick walkway that exudes formality. This walkway leads to the rear with a circle of plants. The arrangement of plants resembles the English garden style but it has no formal borders.

e. Oriental. It is often the kind of garden found in small backyards. It uses rocks, evergreens and water. A wide variety of plants create several interesting angles with this style.

f. Woodland. This landscaping suits a house that has a wooded backyard and sloping ground.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Accounting : Bookkeeping Basics

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Most people probably think of bookkeeping and accounting as the same thing, but bookkeeping is really one function of accounting, while accounting encompasses many functions involved in managing the financial affairs of a business. Accountants prepare reports based, in part, on the work of bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers perform all manner of record-keeping tasks. Some of them include the following:

» They prepare what are referred to as source documents for all the operations of a business - the buying, selling, transferring, paying and collecting. The documents include papers such as purchase orders, invoices, credit card slips, time cards, time sheets and expense reports. Bookkeepers also determine and enter in the source documents what are called the financial effects of the transactions and other business events. Those include paying the employees, making sales, borrowing money or buying products or raw materials for production. 

» Bookkeepers also make entries of the financial effects into journals and accounts. These are two different things. A journal is the record of transactions in chronological order. An accounts is a separate record, or page for each asset and each liability. One transaction can affect several accounts. 

» Bookkeepers prepare reports at the end of specific period of time, such as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. To do this, all the accounts need to be up to date. Inventory records must be updated and the reports checked and double-checked to ensure that they're as error-free as possible. 

» The bookkeepers also compile complete listings of all accounts. This is called the adjusted trial balance. While a small business may have a hundred or so accounts, very large businesses can have more than 10,000 accounts. 

» The final step is for the bookkeeper to close the books, which means bringing all the bookkeeping for a fiscal year to a close and summarized. 

Healthy Hands - Gardener's Best Tools

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Here are the major reasons why one should consider getting a pair of trusty gardening gloves:

Gloves protect your hands from blisters, thorns and cuts while doing rough work like digging or pruning in the garden. Investing in one or more pairs of quality gloves is a good decision. 

Here are some tips on how to choose the pair that will suit you best:   

1. Look for quality leather gloves with a cloth back; this will let the gloves breathe and keep your hands dry, cool and comfortable. 

2. If mud bothers you, select rubber gloves with cotton lining. 

3. When spraying pesticides or chemicals choose gloves that are made from neoprene. Gloves made from latex or any type of plastic may not offer the best protection.

4. When pruning roses, use gloves that reach up to the arms. 

5. If you usually operate large garden machinery, buy gloves in brown instead of red as the latter may dye your hands. 

6. Light cotton or even fingerless gloves may be useful for transplanting seedlings. They will allow more dexterity and so help to prevent the tiny roots from being crushed.

7. And of course, make sure that the gloves you buy actually fit your hands. If you have small hands, try the children's gardening section. there's nothing worse than trying to garden is gloves that are too big.

Your gloves must be comfortable as well as give protection to best serve your gardening needs.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hydroponics Gardening

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Hydroponics was derived from the Greek word hydro, which means "water" and ponos, which means "labor or water-working". Hydroponics gardening involves growing plants with their roots in other nutrient solutions and without soil. 

Hydroponics gardening is as simple as ordinary gardening. Both of them necessitate sufficient light, water, temperature, light, and humidity. But with hydroponics, no soil is used. Instead a soil substitute holds the roots while nutrients are carried by the water. Indoor hydroponic gardening is not that hard and plants respond well to this method of growing.

This is one of the major considerations in hydroponics gardening since it sustains the plants. One has to make sure that this nutrient solution maintains a pH level of 5 to 6 after dilution. In hydroponics gardening, the plants should be watered more than three times a day. this is usually done using a pump and timer. 

If your hydroponics garden is located indoors, the most suitable temperature is between 71 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, this temperature may change depending on the different types of plant you are working on, e.g. tropical plants. 

Place your plants somewhere they can receive ample amount of light. Otherwise artificial light must be used. High pressure Sodium lights or bulbs are a suitable substitute for natural light. 

Humidity is good. When the room’s temperature rises, the air will be able to hold the sufficient amount of moisture your plants will need. 

A hydroponics system can be fully automated. Since it is water-based, the gardener has no soil to dig or weeds to pull. Also, the water can be re-used to prevent wastage. 

With hydroponics, an excellent yield of quality plants can be easily achieved. Home hydroponics systems and DIY kits are are readily available in most hardware stores.

Job Search - Get Referrals from Warm Contacts

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You may find it hard to use networking to find a job if you can't rely on your warm contacts to give you the information you need.  At times, you would have to ask your warm contacts to refer you to at least two people that they know who will be able to give you the information you needed.

However, there are times that your warm contact, particularly those who don't know you well, may not readily provide you with the information.  Some of your warm contacts may feel reluctant about vouching for you to their other contacts.

Because of this, you may find it difficult to use your network.  To make networking and getting referrals an easy task for you, here are a few tips.

* Nurture your warm contacts.

Before you even need your warm contacts or before you even ask for help, keep in touch with your warm contacts.  You may send notes or greetings from time to time, call to "catch up" on them, invite them to lunch, be interested or help in their business or do anything just to cultivate your connection with them.

In this way, by the time you need help, they can remember you and can more readily give information about their other contacts that will be able to help you.

* Be polite.

Since you might not have close personal relationships with some of your valuable warm contacts, it is inappropriate to just give them a call and ask them for information about your field of interest.

Sometimes, sending a note in advance, or asking to meet them for lunch is a better way to ask for their help.

* Listen to them.

Most of the time, even if your warm contact knows little in the field where you are trying to find a job, they might offer you advice.  Be polite and interested in what they are saying.  Who knows, the information that they are giving may be valuable to you in the future.

There are times that your warm contacts may be telling you tips on what manner will work best when you talk to the persons to whom you are being referred.  Your warm contacts may also imply what qualities and qualifications the person is looking for.

* Ask for at least two referrals.

Before you ask for referrals, make sure that your warm contact had said everything that he or she can say about your field of interest.

Even if they know little about that field, it is impolite if you cut them short while they are speaking to ask if they know somebody who will be able to help you.

If they weren't able to refer you to at least one of their contacts, thoughtfully ask them why they couldn't do so.  They may give you answers that may include indirect comments or suggestions.  They may also indicate a lack of confidence in your work strategy.  If this is so, you may have to make follow ups with them to prove that you are indeed credible and match their requirements.

However, there are also times when they can't refer you to their contacts because they just don't know anybody who might have the information or might be interested in the product.  

In this case, ask them to keep their eyes open for opportunities that you might be interested in.  You can also leave with them copies of your resume. 

* Just ask for two referrals.

Two referrals are enough from each warm contact.  This is to have another option in case the first one didn't work out.  Asking for more than two referrals could be impolite as it can take much time from your warm contact.  Also, that will make your warm contact feel that you are relying mostly on him or her for your job search.  So, unless they volunteer the information, don't ask for more than 2 referrals.

* Contact referrals as soon as possible.

When your warm contacts give you referrals, there are times that they also call these people personally to give more information about you.  On the other hand, when you contact the people to whom you were referred, your referrals may call your warm contacts to verify the information or to ask more information about you.

Either way, you have to contact your referrals soon enough that these people can still remember their conversation with your warm contact, or your warm contact can still remember that you have talked.

At times, after your referrals were called by your warm contacts, they anticipate your call and even prepare questionnaires and exams for you to take.  Do not waste this opportunity by delaying follow-up on referrals.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Resume : Effective Way To State Your Responsibilities

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If you have never written a resume, the blank page you are facing can be very intimidating. While you can describe your job responsibilities to your friends, listing them out in a resume and showcasing how your experience to date meets your career objectives is a very difficult task.

To get started, you must first consider what type of a job you are seeking. Much like your career objective or summery should reflect your professional goals, your current and past experiences must showcase that you are the best candidate for the job you are applying for. In listing your current and past professional experiences, try to focus on those responsibilities that indicate you are qualified to take the next step in your career. Due to the fact that more and more companies as well as job search sites use scanning software to pick out candidates, it is very important that you use key words, including active verbs, to describe your skills. Instead of beginning your job descriptions with “Responsible for” try to use active verbs such as:

  • managed
  • developed
  • created
  • communicated
  • interfaced
  • achieved, etc. 


These key words get straight to the point of describing your responsibilities, which is exactly what the employers are looking for. Chose these words carefully – don’t say that you “managed a project”, implying you were responsible for the whole task from start to finish if you were only responsibly for communicating the project to other associates. Instead state that you “Developed and executed the communication strategy for associates,” describing your role more accurately and emphasizing your strengths.

Typically, the first job listed on your resume is the one you currently hold. In this case, make sure that your responsibilities are stated in present tense, as you are still responsible for them. For example, say “Manage accounting activities” instead of “Managed accounting activities.” This will indicate to your potential employer what your day-to-day activities are like and how they compliment responsibilities of the job you are submitting your resume for. All previous jobs should be listed using past tense, and should start with active verbs such as managed, developed, accomplished, etc.

Additionally, make sure that responsibilities you are listing are relevant for to your career objective. List only those responsibilities which help you put your best foot forward. For example, if you are looking for a job that requires managing a team of people, focus on your development and participation in group projects instead of focusing on solitary activities such as office organization.

In terms of formatting, make sure that your responsibilities are listed in bullet points. This formatting is preferred to paragraphs on a resume because it is easier to review quickly. Employers simply scan the resumes and look for key words – if the resume looks overwhelming, with a lot of copy and poor formatting, they will likely discard it. Thus, it is very important that your resume is formatted with enough white space and doesn’t contain any errors.

Care of the Flower Garden

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Knowing how to care for your flower garden can make a big difference in the look and over-all health of your plants. Here are some simple hints to make your garden bloom with health

1. The essentials must always be given major consideration.

Your flower garden must have an adequate supply of water, sunlight, and fertile soil. Any lack of these basic necessities will greatly affect the health of plants. Water the flower garden more frequently during dry spells. 

When planting bulbs, make sure they go at the correct depth. When planting out shrubs and perennials, make sure that you don't heap soil or mulch up around the stem. If you do, water will drain off instead of sinking in, and the stem could develop rot through overheating.

2. Mix and match perennials with annuals. 

Perennial flower bulbs need not to be replanted since they grow and bloom for several years while annuals grow and bloom for only one season. Mixing a few perennials with annuals ensures that you will always have blooms coming on.

3. Deadhead to encourage more blossoms.

Deadheading is simply snipping off the flower head after it wilts. This will make the plant produce more flowers. Just make sure that you don't discard the deadhead on the garden or mildew and other plant disease will attack your plants.

4. Know the good from the bad bugs. 

Most garden insects do more good than harm. Butterflies, beetles and bees are known pollinators. They fertilize plants through unintentional transfer of pollen from one plant to another. 80% of flowering plants rely on insects for survival. 

Sowbugs and dung beetles together with fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms are necessary to help in the decomposition of dead plant material, thus enriching the soil and making more nutrients available to growing plants.

Other insects like lacewings and dragonflies are natural predators of those insects that do the real damage, like aphis.

An occasional application of liquid fertilizer when plants are flowering will keep them blooming for longer.

Always prune any dead or damaged branches. Fuchsias are particularly prone to snapping when you brush against them. The broken branch can be potted up to give you a new plant, so it won't be wasted
 

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