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.

Ten Reasons You Can not Lose Weight

You may be among many who have attempted to lose weight many times yet remain unsuccessful. You might be thinking, "If only I had the secret!" If you are frustrated, take a look at why weight loss comes difficult. Here are ten pitfalls that slow down or halt the process:

1. Fat Overload . We need protein, but often the sources of our protein are also sources of fat. Fat has nine calories per gram. It is wise to choose foods with unsaturated fat and eat cleaner proteins, such as soy products and whey protein powders.

2. Sugar Overload . By eating candy, cookies, and breakfast pastries, and drinking juice, we tend to consume a lot of empty calories, which digest very quickly in our bodies. The excess gets stored as fat. It is better to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings with fruit.

3. Water Deficit . Water is a miracle nutrient. It can help us to lose weight. Many times we feel hunger pangs and think we are hungry, but our bodies are really telling us that we are thirsty. Water satisfies our cravings and makes us feel fuller.

4. Soda Pop Overload . Many people try to quench their thirst with soda pop. This contributions to the many empty calories that we consume each day. And why put all those chemicals in your body anyway? Switch to water.

5. Alcohol Overload . Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. One 12 oz. bottle of beer has 180 calories. A 24 ounce beer has 360 calories. Your body will break down alcohol calories before it breaks down carbs, fat, or protein. Drinking only one serving a day and counting those as calories is very important.

6. Condiment Overload . It is really important to count condiments in your calorie counting. How much mayonnaise or ketchup are you putting on your chicken sandwich? Yes, and pickles have calories, too.

7. Meal Deficit . It is a whole lot more fun to eat six times a day then three times a day. Eating more often raises the metabolism and improvements digestion, because we consume less food at a time and are able to eat more in 24 hours.

8. Skipping breakfast . Never skip breakfast. You may be eating less food, but you are also slowing down your metabolism. Who wants to drag all day?

9. Burning too few calories . It is difficult to lose weight by only dieting. Exercise is essential. So get on those running shoes and go for a thirty-minute walk every day. Weight training can also really accelerate your weight loss efforts.

10. Lack of goal setting . Weight loss takes time. One should lose only 2 pounds per week at most. It is there important to set short-term and long-term goals so that you can celebrate as you reach miles and continue this lifelong journey.

Now, it is time to throw out all of those negative results and get some positive ones. Get excited, because you are about to begin a successful weight loss journey.

Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

4 Ways to Lose Weight Before and during the Holidays

Here are 4 tips if you are trying to lose weight before or during the holidays.

When the holidays are approaching, you might be worried about how much weight you might gain. Perhaps you started a diet during the summer and are doing well, but now the trips and big holiday dinners are causing concern. Or you lost weight in the spring and now all those July 4th and summer barbecues are looming. Do not worry! You can still lose or maintain your weight through any holiday season.

Drink Only Water

One of the best ways you can lose weight and continue losing even through the holidays is by drinking more water. The majority of what you drink on a daily basis should be water. We have all heard the 8 cup of water a day rule, right? Another recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. Also try to drink a glass of water before and after any other type of drink. So if you are at a holiday party and want a glass of champagne, drink a full glass of water beforehand. You are not allowed another glass of champagne or wine until you have another glass of water. This helps to limit how much alcohol you end up drinking.

Indulge, But Not Too Much

The problem with wanting to indulge during the holidays is that you feel left out if you can not have trees. If you keep denying yourself too much, you might find yourself on Christmas Eve, (or New Year's Eve, or Labor Day weekend), eating everything in sight because you went without for so long. A good way to remedy this is by letting yourself taste everything, but not over-indulging. If you are at Thanksgiving dinner, have a small small portion of each food item, but not a full portion.

Remove 1/3 of Your Meals Immediately

When you are eating out for the holidays, this is another time when you might indulge a little too much. This can make it really hard to lose weight. If you decide to order something that is not as light and fit as it could be, separate your meal immediately. Ask for a to-go container when your food is served. Then take 1/3 of the meal and place it in the container. This decreases how much you end up eating. It also lets the meal last longer.

Top Food With Salsa

Instead of putting cheese, sour cream, or guacamole on top of your food, consider adding some salsa. This adds a lot of seasonings and is extremely low in fat and calories. The majority of salsa is just tomatoes, jalapenos and onions, so there is not much to it.