Personal Budgeting: An Imperative

Budgeting is a basic part of accountancy.

Nations, states, cities, towns and every incorporated company have budgets. Every private company, or other commercial entity, worth its salt has a formal budget. So why is it that the vast majority of people do not use a formal budget in their private lives? They do budget of course. We all do in one way or another. But very, very few people have a good enough memory to successfully budget informally – that is, without writing it down. And it's when we forget to allow for some expense that we get into trouble. We get into debt. Is not that just about the worst feeling in the world – to be in unplanned debt?

To be poor is a sad experience – it's a state of mind. To be broke is an uncomfortable experience – but it's a temporary condition. To be in unplanned debt can be gut wrenching. And generally speaking, unplanned debt is just plain carelessness.

Why then does it happen? Simply because in the days before computers and calculators budgeting was a boring and time-consuming task. There was an awful lot of adding up to do and the darned thing had to be continuously adjusted as time went by, usually every month at least. So it was not surprising that most people just did not bother and as the generations passed by, so did the practice of ordinary people not preparing budgets for their personal finances. They just did not think that the value derived from maintaining a personal budget was worth the time consumed.

So what's changed? One very important factor: personal computers – they've just made it so easy that if you do not budget, you're making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. It is now well and truly worth the very small investment of time to input a few lines of data every week. Because from that the computer can give you more financial reports than one person is ever likely to need. It will produce reports on tax payments; about what you've sent; about where you've spent it, about what you've spent it on and it will do that for any given period of your choosing. It'll find transactions that you've forgotten about but that suddenly you really need to know about. It will tell you how much money you will have in the bank next Christmas (or what you've got to stop spending money on so that you will have the amount of money you need in the bank next Christmas.)

The really big thing is that you will be in charge of your finances. It makes it so easy to explain to your dependents – be it spouse, partner or children; just exactly what the household can afford to spend, on what and when. Ninety-five percent of the arguments about money will go out the window because people will be able to see clearly what can and can not be done. If we buy you that cell phone, we will not be able to buy that game. You get the idea.

What software is best? Well there's no shortage of it. It's not expensive. The best is less than a hundred dollars and you'll save that in no time flat. Check out the choices available, and choose the one which best suits your personal needs. It will be well worth whatever you decide to invest in it. And it will most definitely save you lots of headaches and heartaches in the long run, if used properly.

Tips When Seeking Your Automobile Extended Warranty

You may have heard that "research is critical" when it comes to purchasing an extended warranty for your automobile. Sometimes auto extended warranties are depicted in a negative light because of a few scam artists looking to capitalize off peoples' concern for their investments.

A recent Consumer Reports study recommended that people buy highly rated models only and that they invest in Money Market accounts to save for repairs, rather than invest in a warranty. However, if you tend to incur a good number of auto repair bills, if you plan on keeping your car more than three years and if you drive your car over the recommended 12,000 miles annually, then you are a good candidate for the extended warranty program .

Dealerships know that consumers trust them, by nature. An establishment that deals with billions of dollars in sales each year could not possibly rip you off over a technicality like the extended warranty, could they? Well, maybe they do not mean to rob you blind, but think of the dealership as a retail operation.

If you've ever worked in retail, whether it's clothing, furniture, consumer gadgets or automobiles, then you know that retailers mark up the cost of their items anywhere from 100% to 1,000% of the cost value! Now imagine how much extra you could be paying for your extended vehicle warranty. Do not be afraid to go directly to the source and purchase your warranty online from a trusted company like Warranty Direct.

Another factor to consider is auto warranty for "wear and tear." This type of warranty can be hard to find, since many only cover mechanical failure. However, you can definitely find extended warranty coverage that includes "wear and tear," thereby covering parts like the idler arm, piston rings, U joints, CV joints, wheel bearings, motor mounts, suspension bushings, tie rod ends, seals, gaskets and other engine parts that typically wear down and may or may not cause a mechanical breakdown.

If you have an anti-lock braking system, then you'll want to make sure your coverage extends to ABS and instances of overheating. The comprehensive website, carbuyingtips.com recommends Warranty Direct and Nation Warranty Corporation, which both include "wear and tear" in their plans.

The most important thing is that you do not feel rushed or hassled into securing the extended warranty for your car immediately. Most auto warranties allow you the option of buying later; yet of course, you should only delay as you research, rather than allowing enough time to elapse so your car is a liability. Like with health insurance, it's much harder to get coverage once problems arise.

As with anything, the extended auto warranty is a "buyer beware" scenario, but if you do some homework and understand your auto habits, then the couple of thousand you pay today can save you a small fortune tomorrow.

A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Construction Logo – Are Low Costing Logos Too Good To Be True?

There are quite a few design firms on the internet which are claiming that they can design a professional looking construction logo for $ 200 or less. For many people, this would sound like a scam. Most are used to paying at least 5 times that amount to have a logo custom designed for them by a professional.

Is this claim for real or is this just a scam by designers who provide substandard designs to unsuspecting customers for a quick buck?

The Real Deal

The truth is there are professional designers who provide excellent designs for very low prices. However, there are those who unfortunately provide substandard designs for the same price. So the trick is to find those who are the real deal. We will touch on that later in the article.

How Can They Provide Design At Such Low Prices?

As the old saying goes 'Time Is Money'. What these designers have done is simply make the whole process – from start to end – much shorter. What they have done is save time on research and information gathering. There are no one hour phone calls to the clients to find out in-depth information about the company. And unlike design packages which cost $ 5000, those which cost $ 200 or less do not come with a logo manual once the project is completed.

Why Did They Do This?

It is a fundamental matter of demand and supply. Because of the growth of ecommerce, the market for quality logos minus a branding campaign grows along with it. Merchants of online stores wanted well designed and unique logos for their store at an affordable price.

Will The Design Quality Suffer?

The designs that these designers provide are of good quality. The designers may not have research the company in extreme detail before progressing with the design but any information provided is used to good effect. Designs are clean, in some cases very detail and look professional.

What Are The Signs Of Good Design Firms?

The more reputable design firms, more often than not, offer unlimited revisions. This is to ensure customers get what they want. However, in the event that they do not, many firms offer no-strings-attached money back guarantees. Money back guarantees are like a safety net so ensure that you pick a design firm which clearly states this in their design package.

What You Should Expect?

Do not be surprised to view your first concepts in less than 3 business days. Most these designers have been in the business for at least a decade and understand different industry design requirement. and can therefore conjure a viable design within that time mentioned. Expect to view at least 2 original concepts. When the project is completed, ensure you also get your logo in a vector format which will enable you to use your logo for printing purposes as well.