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.

Top 10 Celebrity Styles For 2008-2009

Every year we look to celebrities for fashion inspiration and new styles. Looking back over this year we can say that 2008 did not disappoint. Although some celebrities veered a little too far left of what is fashionably acceptable many others hit the bulls-eye. Even if you didn’t commit to any of the following trends, you can’t deny that they made statements in 2008. We have broken them down in order from 1 – 10 and let you know who owned that specific celebrity style.

Fashion Trend # 1: The Two-finger ring. This is one of the coolest jewelry trends we’ve seen in awhile. It has been spotted on famous celebrities such as Rihanna and Lauren Conrad from ”The Hills”.

Fashion Trend # 2: Baggy ”Boy” Jeans. This was a hit-and-miss look. It really depended on the body type of the person sporting the look. We think the new Baggy Boy Jeans should have a distressed and loose look, but should also be cut to show off a woman’s curves. This celebrity style was rocked by Reese Witherspoon and Katie Holmes.

Fashion Trend # 3: Nail Designs. Many celebrities decided to wear crazy colors on their nails this year. Those celebrities include Beyonce, Eve and Rihanna.

Fashion Trend # 4: Sky-Scraper High Heels. Every year high-heels get higher and more dangerous looking. If you don’t believe us just take a look at Victoria Beckham and Madonna.

Fashion Trend # 5: Pointless Accessories. Anything and everything was up for grabs to be an accessory in 2008. Just take a look at Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Beyonce.

Fashion Trend # 6: Obama T-Shirts. For the first time we can remember political T’s were available and worn by the general public. Check them out on Halle Berry, Beyonce and P Diddy Combs.

Fashion Trend # 7: Nerdy Glasses. Geek-chic is a sure thing, when worn right. But be careful because dark, thick plastic frames aren’t a look everyone can pull off. If you want to see them worn right check out the celebrity style of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Common.

Fashion Trend # 8: Bangs. This look also doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does, watch out! Check out the bangs on Jessica Alba and Christina Aguilera…HOT!

Fashion Trend # 9: Leather Jackets. This look was taken straight from the 80′s, but worked great in 2008. Some celebrities rocking leather jackets were Vanessa Hudgens and Rihanna.

Fashion Trend # 10: Hippie Headband. Very few people can actually pull this look off. Personally, I’m not of fan of it on anybody. Some ladies sporting the hippie headband this year were Nicole Richie and Mischa Barton.

As you can tell there were many new celebrity styles this year, along with some re-tread styles. Every year we are amazed at what people bring back out of the closet and add to their wardrobe. No matter how much we may fight it, the looks always seem as glamorous and hot as they did before. We can’t wait to see what celebrity styles these people pull out next year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Most Popular Sports Around The World

All types of sports are popular globally, but what sports can we call THE most popular in the world? Some of the answers may surprise you.

It’s no surprise that football, or what Americans call “soccer” is the world’s most popular sport to play and to watch. An estimated 3.5 billion people either watch or play football. The World Cup is the global championship of the sport and this tournament is played every four years. The World Cup itself is one of the highest rated sports on television, with many countries tuning in en masse to watch their country’s team play. Football is popular in all of the UK, Europe, Asia as well as South America. However, with so many other sports being popular, the Unites States still lags behind in their interest in “soccer”.

Next, we have cricket. This sport which consists of a bat and a ball, has been around for hundreds of years and originated in England. The sport is popular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, some African countries, some Caribbean countries and it is the most popular sport in the countries of India and Pakistan. An estimated 3 billion people watch or play cricket each year.

The next most popular sport is a sure surprise, and that is field hockey, with an estimated 2 billion players or watchers, mostly in Asian countries, European countries, Australia and around Africa. This sport tends to be played in high schools in the United States, usually by girls only.

Coming up next is tennis. Not so surprising, but there are an estimated 1 billion players and watchers of tennis around the world. Tennis tends to be popular in richer countries, including the United States, Asian countries, Australia and Europe. There are four main tournaments in tennis, called “Grand Slams” at which players from many countries play. The first is the Australian Open, then the French Open, Wimbledon and then the US Open in late August. The Grand Slam tournaments tend to get the most attention during the tennis season.

Next we have volleyball. Yet another surprise, with an estimated 900 million viewers or players around the world. Volleyball is popular in the United States, where the sport originated, as well as in Brazil, all over Europe, Russia, China and Japan. Volleyball is a popular high school sport in many countries due to it’s team centered play and lack of specialized equipment requirements.

Also popular is table tennis, otherwise known as Ping Pong. This is another surprisingly popular sport around the world, with an estimated 900 million watchers or players. Table tennis originated in England as an after dinner activity for Victorians in the late 19th century. Table tennis as a competitive sport is popular in many countries but is especially popular in China, Korea and Singapore.

After these sports, we have a triumvirate of more mainstream American sports including baseball, golf, American football and basketball, with each sport attracting between 400 and 500 million players or watchers worldwide.

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.