Sunday, 28 October 2012

Above Average in Student Loan Debt?

The numbers are out for the class of 2011 and two-thirds of the graduating class graduated in debt. If you are an average borrower, you owe $26,600, exceeding the class of 2010 by 5%, Was it worth it? In 2011, the unemployment for college graduates was 8.8% while unemployment of high school graduates was at 19.1% so the employment number would say yes.

So you decide to go to college. How do you reduce the amount of money you will borrow, have a good time, and graduate? Here are a few ideas.

1. Graduate on time or early. An extra year of college can cost you can $50,000 or more. To calculate the cost of that extra year, add your tuition, fees and books to your potential starting salary. Say that your tuition, book, and fees are $20,000 and your starting salary is $30,000; that extra year cost you $50,000. This number could be higher or lower depending on where you attend college and your career. Just for fun, calculate your own cost of an extra year of college. If you were to graduate in 3 years, you just saved $50,000!

2. Go to a college you like with a major you like. Transferring from one school to another can cost you an extra semester or year, depending upon what credits transfer and how credits are applied. If you do transfer, check with your advisor or Registrar’s office to make sure that all credits transferred and were applied correctly.

3. Do your homework when picking a college to find out what the average student loan debt is for that institution. Some colleges work very hard to offer students work-study money and enabling students to graduate either debt free or with small student loan amounts. College of the Ozarks, Knoxville College, and Berea College are strongly committed to students graduating debt free.

4. Apply for scholarships and grants. Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid. Great places to check are as well as with local organizations or employers who might grant scholarships. If you were to calculate the time you invest in researching opportunities and the funds you receive, you will be surprised at your hourly wage.

5. Take 15-18 credits per semester. To be classified as a full-time student, you must be enrolled in 12 credit-hours per semester. However at many colleges, you can take 15 or 18 credit at the same cost of taking 12 credits. That is like getting two classes a semester for FREE! You will have to work harder and you don’t want your GPA to slip, but consider maximizing your schedule so you can graduate early or take extra classes for a second major.

6. Take college level classes while in high school. In many high schools, student can have dual enrollment in both their high school and in a college. Many of these partnerships are with local community colleges. The high school pays for the class and the student can graduate with college classes. Who knows, you might be able to graduate high school as a college sophomore, completing enough college classes while in high school.

7. Talk to your admissions counselor and financial aid representative. These two contacts can be worth their weight in gold in looking for strategies for reducing college debt and increasing scholarships and grant awards. They know the inside and are usually more than willing to help you put together a plan to pay for college.

8. Take classes at your local community college. Most institutions will transfer in 62-64 credit hours if transferring from a community college; some institutions will take more. Work with the institution that you want to transfer to when you register for your community college courses. This will ensure that the courses you take at the community college will apply directly for your degree completion at the 4-year institution. I would encourage you to save the e-mail or have it in writing on what courses will transfer. Not every advisor is up to speed on transfer courses.

9. Create and live by a budget. College can be very expensive with a lot of extra-curricular activities. College should be fun, but some of that fun can be expensive. Know the opportunity cost of your fun and look for inexpensive alternatives. With your budget, you may not need all the money from your awards letter. It is okay not to borrow all the money you can while in college.

10. Start a 529 College Savings Plan. The earlier you start savings, the more time the money has to grow. Saving for has details on every state’s 529 plan and college savings plan. Do your research and start saving early. An old saying states that “The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The next best time to plant an oak tree is today.” Get started today saving for college.

There are many different routes to your college education and they don’t all have to be expensive. Take time to choose the right one for you.

What other strategies do you have for lowering your student loan debt? Leave us a comment and share your idea.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What is the Difference Between Financial Management and Book Keeping?

If you are one among those who relates finical management to book keeping then you need to re-think. In fact, there are many people who consider financial management similar to book keeping or often gets confused to differentiate between both of them. Perhaps, the difference between book keeping and financial management is a common inquiry among numerous sophomores who are eager to gain knowledge and have a career in the sphere of financial and business management. From an elementary perspective, the aspect of financial management is a massive arena, and much broader than that of conventional book keeping methodologies. It is true that most of the financial management programs incorporate the study and application of book keeping in their syllabi, but as a whole, the ins and outs, details of financial planning and management are monumental in quantity and relevance.

Generally, the book keeping procedure deals with the traditional methods of accountancy that primarily considers the debiting and crediting of various monetary transactions. On other hand, the different facets of financial management do not only deal with accountancy, but it even includes other core subjects such as economics, mathematics and commerce.

The procedure of bookkeeping is largely mechanical and often do not require any detail study. Instead of the analyzing, the bookkeeping majorly depends on the recording of the information. On other hand, FM once again also address to risk associated to business. Every business that has a well defined system or even a good cash flow can have a problem. Now through some tried and true methods of proper financial management problems like handling any sort of cash shortages can be prevented. The principles of management can at times help in preventing cash flow problems and deal with them more effectively.

Moreover, F.M as a whole can be broadly defined as the procedure of running the financial resources, including financial reporting, budgeting, risk management, and insurance for a business. In fact, it primarily refers on two key aspects - how you are really financing your business and how well you handle the money in the business. However, bookkeeping basically talks about the day to day operation of an accounting system. It majorly refers the recording of regular transactions within the suitable accounts. An accounting system defines the process of recognizing, evaluating, recording and talking about the financial information concerning the business. So, in simple words, the bookkeeping can also be considered as a subset of the accounting system.

Without doubt, financial management generally encompasses a number of crucial areas of business, but at same the business results are usually delivered in forms of reports. Consequently, talking in the present context both financial management and book keeping have their own role to play, but having a knowledge of both can always assure excellent employment in the market. Both of them are beneficial in terms of salary and also at context of job satisfaction.

All Business Facets Benefit From Healthcare Financial Management

With inflation taking a bite out of just about everyone's budgets these days, from single people, to families, to business and government agencies alike, it has become evident that quality healthcare financial management is increasingly important. With so many troubles related to the economy nowadays, and the uncertainty and turmoil that is being experienced by so many, providing good financial management in the healthcare sector is of the utmost importance for all parties involved, from patients to providers to insurance companies.

These days there are a number of financial management services for healthcare that provide specific solutions and have been specially designed for the healthcare organizations and the medical professionals involved in providing care for their patients. While there are many money management software programs and many common needs in the healthcare industry, not all of these solutions are right for every healthcare provider and so it is essential to find the right match in order to gain the best benefits for the situation.

Many of the healthcare financial management companies that offer professional money management services for the healthcare field provide basic, stock solutions that cover the needs and demands of most healthcare groups. These basic managerial solutions more than often will provide all of the functionality that is needed for the majority of healthcare providers.

This is because, in general, there is a great deal of commonality in practices and procedures throughout the healthcare industry, from individual doctors, to clinics, to large hospitals. These operations run under very traditional and standard practices and typically enjoy being able to implement standard managerial solutions, which are very effective in the overall business financial management needs of the organization.

At the same time, as with all companies in the business world, there are those healthcare organizations that have unique and special needs, in terms of the cash management products and financial management solutions that they need. For these providers, there are many healthcare related financial management solutions that can be custom tailored to perfectly match the needs of the business and help the company to reach any unique business objectives that have been set up by the managerial side of the company.

Healthcare related financial management solutions are often able to provide the healthcare organizations with significant savings. There are many clients of some of the best systems available that claim that they were able to save 20% to 50% by using the right services.

The complete healthcare financial management classifications that are available today are fully capable of dealing with every facet of money management for a particular healthcare organization. Some of these functions include medical bill reviewing, medical audits, claims, collections and many other crucial functions that are all absolutely essential to operating a solvent healthcare concern in this day and age.

Project Financial Management - 10 Key Steps to Streamline Your Business

Over the past decade or so we have been constantly bombarded with news about private and public projects that have either delivered scope at well over the expected budget or had to reduce scope to even come near to the original budget. Current thinking within project management methodologies only discuss the financial aspects of a project at a high level, leaving the "student" without any real way of working to greater understand the impact of their decisions on the financial results of the programme. In turn, the business case development is usually given minimal time and is a rushed job in the end. Investing in the correct people and time up front to review feasibility and secondly the business case is a must to ensure the total on target delivery of a project.

In the financial climate we are in, where budgets and costs are being cut, the time is now to ensure that whatever funding a company has available, that they invest it wisely - to do that you need to ensure that the project in the end - budget, costs and benefits are comprehensively reviewed.

With this in mind - using the Pathfinder Project Management Methodology as a basis, below are the 10 key steps to successful project financial management

(1) On new projects - invest time creating accurate feasibility studies and business cases, if this is a rushed job - in the end the results will deliver overspends.

(2) Review your project portfolio - are you carrying out the correct projects, are they nice to haves, are they being done for internal political gain - ensure each business case is robust and adds value to the future of the firm - spend time using previous experienced individuals to review and re-review the business case.

(3) Concentrate reviews just as hard on the benefits as the cost. In 80% of projects, once they are in, nobody wants to go back and review if they delivered as promised. So ensure from the start of the project you continuously check that as well as costs being on budget, that changes to your project have not altered your benefits.

(4) Cost cutting is not always the answer - allocate resource to "added value" projects - in today's world cutting heads is a an easy short term fix, do not throw out the baby with the bath water and leave the firm with projects in-flight with no experience to deliver them. Instead review your project spend and as in (2) concentrate on adding value.

(5) Workforce development - up-skill their financial management knowledge, develop staff in leadership, health and safety, motivation etc - so when you put a non-finance manager in charge of a large project, is it not about time they were given the financial know-how. Don't leave financial management to chance - develop your workforce.

(6) Break down the project into financially manageable sections. Too many projects work on the basis of a "pot of cash" - spend it as per the budget and if luck is with them, great! Instead take the "pot" and break it down into manageable sections - mapped to your project structure, that way you can see where budgets are by "workstream" and what ones are over/underspending.

(7) "one point of contact accounting" - too many managers will lead to budget overspend - following on from (6) above - The overall programme manager is responsible for the budget in total, at the same time each head of the projects parts should then be responsible for managing their part of the budget. This leads to one finance manager dealing with one project manager, ensuring a consistent relationship.

(8) Deliver focused and meaningful financial reporting to enable accurate decision-making. More is less - agree on what reporting is required from the project at the start and continuously improve until it is what the project needs to manage the programme of work. Because an accountant can deliver 20 pages of analysis a month to each project manager it does not mean that it's correct - save the trees - minimise the reporting and improve the decision making.

(9) Communication - have a strong relationship between your project and finance manager. Finance cannot be back office, they need to be part of the project team and be seen to be so, and therefore open and honest communication channels lead to no surprises.

(10) Finance should be made aware of all potential risks / issues and a probable cost - if a problem has or may arise warn finance early, finance will be limited to what they can do to assist "after the event".

Financial Management Programs

Financial management is one of the most important things you should learn if you wish to venture into any kind of business. It involves financial decisions, techniques on how to ensure high profit, as well as the tools and the methods of analyses in order to come up with sound decisions.

Starting a business and making it grow, as we all know, is not an easy task--even if you have all the financial resources you need for your business to thrive. Remember that your money is just a tool for a successful business. What really determines your success are your skills in handling your money and all other your skills in making decisions.

If you are new to business, don't worry because there are literally hundreds of financial management software programs available today. The right one can help you make accurate and objective decisions regarding your finances. Financial management programs can help you take care of cash management, accounting, payroll reporting, check preparation, financial risk management, and others with ease and convenience.

There are several kinds of financial management programs, and each kind has its own features, advantages, and disadvantages. It is important to choose one that truly fits your needs. It is not enough to get one that can make work easier for you - you need one that can help you optimize your profit.

You can check reviews on each product before you narrow down your choice to one. Compare their features as well as their prices before you choose a particular program.

Financial management programs do calculations automatically for you, so you don't have to worry about having to deal with too much numbers. It is advisable to choose programs with basic features first if you are starting a small business. If you find it hard to budget your finances and plan your business, you can choose programs with budgeting features.

Advanced financial management programs aid in billing as well as preparation of payrolls and invoices. Look for these added features if you think you need them. Furthermore, if you are more oriented toward visuals, choose programs that make use of graphs and charts, as these probably will be easier for you to use.

Like any other decision you are going to make in business, deciding which programs to use can trigger a chain reaction, so be very careful and do not decide too quickly. It may sound as simple as deciding what to wear for a formal gathering, but financial management programs are not like a tuxedo - they can give your business long-term solvency, not just a good first impression.

The Importance of Financial Management

The present world is synonymous with consumerism; therefore, management of finances is often a difficult task. Individuals can spend their money on a wide range of products or services. Over-indulgence in such products can lead to high credit card bills. In many cases, individuals spend their money before earning it, which can lead to a fiscal crisis. At this point, a financial management book comes to the rescue.

Every individual dreams of becoming a millionaire, especially in a relatively short period of time. However, dreams are not enough, and you will have to demonstrate effective monetary management. A management book contains useful resources and tips on how to manage your money.

A finance management book will give you definite steps to optimize your income and prevent losses. By reading it, you can equip yourself with a definite road map toward economic independence.

An important strategy listed in a finance management book revolves around changing your mindset. As a consumer, you would have to curb spending and wisely invest the money that you earn. Your perception of money should change if you wish to become wealthy. Most financial management books list effective habits and strategies, and it will do you a load of good if you master these habits. You should be able to understand the cash flow and manage it effectively, so that your income is more than your expenditure.

Almost every individual stands a chance of benefiting from knowledge related to monetary management. Every individual and business has financial concerns and hence it is important to learn the nuances of finance.

Fiscal management can be a tricky issue, and hence a financial management book is very handy. Effective financial management should help curb stress related to finance. Financial management equips you to pay your bills on time, and simultaneously have a good social life. Some of these books have been written by experts in this field, giving great insight, depth and knowledge. Financial management books are worth the investment if you can learn and master the listed strategies.

An important financial management strategy is to limit purchasing products on credit. Effective management programs help you save money for future needs.

The first step in management is making a list of all the sources of income. Follow this by a list of all your monthly expenditures. If you still have money left after taking care of all your expenditures, then you would need to invest this money in an effective way. Having an emergency fund is a great way to tackle unexpected expenditures.

Financial management can help if you wish to have a healthy, post-retirement life and a nice vacation home. It also helps you to take care of your child's education, especially college fees.

What Should I Look For in Personal Financial Management Software?

We often underestimate the importance of proper financial management and simply rely on the fact that our bank balance is still in the black; however, we are at a loss to explain where all of the money went. It's not unusual that many individuals are aghast when they look at their monthly bank statement and see that their paycheck deposit is gone through a series of many cleared checks. This situation can be unnerving to anyone, but if you are using personal financial management software, you can see at a glance what was spent, and what it did for you. It's not just about saving money and paying off your credit card bills, but the software should present strategies to maximize saving, eliminate debt, and give a true picture of your current net worth. In short, a financial management program is a highly detailed and complex system that is vital to keep track of spending as well as net worth.

The first thing that comes to mind when considering personal financial management software is the process of budgeting. The heart of proper financial management lies in budgeting, as it helps to keep track of spending and earnings, while at the same time, gives a view of your overall financial condition. These software programs are usually incorporated with one of these two types of budgeting methods: Retroactive or Proactive budgeting. The former one allows you to create your own budget, and it keeps track, after the fact, whether you followed your set budget or not. On the other hand, Proactive actually assists you to make a budget, and guides you through so that you can achieve these budgeted goals. In most cases, under this method, you are asked to keep aside some additional money for emergencies. This money that is set aside, allows the software to make financial recommendation with much more confidence and accuracy.

Budgeting is most certainly a very important aspect of good financial management, but it isn't the only one. Keeping track of your true net worth is also equally important. The budgeting process helps to keep track of our short and long term goals, and whether we achieved them. In order to properly track our net worth, we need to bring in the value of our bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc., and update them regularly. The more complex personal financial management software systems have this process as well, and will give you an accurate picture of your financial position. This type of financial information can be key when it comes to making crucial financial decisions, or applying to your bank for financing. Also, in this fast paced and globalized world, many individuals tend to have more than one bank account, and often times, various financial interests, making the situation even more complex. Good personal financial management software will be able to track this and present an accurate picture.

In summary, budgeting and keeping an accurate track of your net worth are crucial when it comes to good financial management. When you are exploring options for effective personal financial management software, make sure the program is able to handle your current and future needs. In addition, a program that is relatively easy to use and presents the type of reports that you require, is a must.

Cruising For a Bruising - Or Time For a Financial Management Course

Perhaps you're starting to feel comfortable again. The markets have been steadily recovering. The Dow has risen over 50% since its lows back in March 2009. The ASX has also performed in a similar fashion. Who needs a financial management course when you're cruising? But is it going to last? There seems to be conflicting views about the recovery. People are still losing their jobs. Banks are still writing off bad debts or making provisions for new ones and governments around the world are still printing money to meet interest repayments or keep their economies afloat. Many 'experts' believe this could just be the calm before the storm and that the Dow could retreat to new lows. Scary stuff.

Does that make you nervous about your investment portfolio or retirement savings? It should do. If you have retired or nearing retirement, the last thing you want now is to take another hit, which you may never recover from. And what about your financial adviser - have they reviewed or changed your portfolio since it went south?

Chances are your financial adviser has left it untouched because the thought of crystallising losses on some of those managed or mutual funds you hold would be too unpalatable to consider. It's likely too that you have funds locked up in a frozen property fund, which still resembles a losing boxer on fight night.

If you want to sleep better at night, the time has come to take control of your finances through a financial management course. Given you don't have the skill and experience of your financial adviser about investments, risks, asset allocation and all those other financial terms they throw at you , then the only way you can take control is to educate yourself through a proper financial management course.

Financial Advisers follow traditional asset allocation models and use traditional and popular managed or mutual funds. Many of these traditional global funds still invest in US or European companies. Is this really the path you should be going down? The global financial world is heading down a new track and you need to get onboard if you want to avoid another bruising.

How many international managed or mutual funds do you have in your investment portfolio? What percentage of them still invests in US or European companies? Where do you think the growth is going to be over the next 5, 10 or 20 years? US or China? UK or India?

This is the reason you need a financial management course. Your financial adviser is stuck with recommending to you the traditional investments and managed funds that follow traditional asset allocations. To survive you need to keep ahead of the times, and understand where the growth economies of the future are going to be. You need a financial management course that teaches you the foundations of financial education and gives you the power and confidence to sack your adviser and take control of your own future and finances. You need expert, independent, unbiased and up to date information and education about the economic times ahead, opportunities to look for and what markets to invest in.

Financial Managers - Are You Interested in a Financial Management Job?

Financial managers are present in about every industry and firm whether public or private, and they are responsible for preparing financial reports and managing the investment activities of the corporation. They may also go by the titles controller, credit manager, insurance manager, or finance officer.

Controllers are responsible for preparing financial reports and statements and earnings, and finance officers are responsible for managing the budget of the corporation. Credit managers are responsible for managing a corporation's credit and maintaining or improving a credit rating and determining debt ceilings.

Cash managers are responsible for controlling and monitoring the amount of cash that goes in and out of the business every month, and insurance managers are responsible for minimizing the risks that an individual or corporation will take during its business operations.

The most common areas of employment of financial managers are usually institutions such as banks and investment firms, and the role of finance management can be highly specialized in the case of larger institutions or cover most of a firm's operations in much smaller businesses.

Most financial managers will work in comfortable office settings working on new computers, and they may work long hours, which can include 60 hours a week. They may also have to travel in order to visit customers or clients. Managers will usually require a bachelor's degree in order to compete in competitive financial firms, although some first start out as loan officers and work their way up to a higher position.

In 2006, financial managers held over 500,000 jobs in America, with about 30% employed in the financial sector and the rest working for commercial businesses or Federal or state governments. Job prospects overall for financial managers will keep pace with the average rate of population growth in the country.

In 2006, financial managers in the middle fiftieth percentile of earnings made between $67,000 and $125,000. Larger firms will offer higher salaries and generous benefit packages, which can include stock bonuses and additional forms of compensation, while smaller firms will usually provide less in the way of benefits.

Courses on Finance For Non-Financial Managers

One important thing the executives and managers should understand is that finance and accounting is not just for people who always take calculators with them, it is also for non-financial managers as well. It helps to learn more about finance for non-financial managers because the financial status of the company can tell much about how the business is performing in relation to the vision, goals, and objectives that have been set.

Through a course on finance for non-financial managers, executives and managers will be able to learn how they can integrate financial policies and concepts into management decision-making process, as well as in the budgeting process. They will also be able to learn how to evaluate the financial feasibility of projects and activities with the help of balance sheets and income statements. They will also be able to learn how to use cash flows in analyzing the status of the business, determine and calculate the cost of different business activities, better control business operations by effectively managing the budget, and communicate effectively with the different executives and staff of the company who are directly involved with business finances.

One of the biggest benefits of a course on finance for managers, who are not directly involved with financial matters, is that they will be able to better oversee or supervise budgets allocated for different departments. They will be able to learn more about the basic financial principles used in the budgeting process - and this plays a significant role in becoming a successful non-financial manager. It is advantage for non-financial managers to be able to understand finance and accounting concepts so they can translate them into terms used in decision-making (which they pretty much do everyday).

Non-financial managers and practically anyone who wants to develop his or her knowledge in financial practices can attend a course on finance for non-financial managers. In this manner, they will be able to have better chances at improving their managerial skills.

A course on finance for non-financial managers can vary, depending on who or which institution is giving lectures, discussions, and activities regarding business and finance concepts and policies. Oftentimes, these courses allow participants to gain experience in analyzing and developing balance sheets, cash flow statements, and income statements. At other times, they can teach participants how they can establish and manage realistic operating budgets, as well as applying financial concepts and principles to different situations in the real world.

Improving Your Profitability Via Financial Management System

A good part of the success or the failure of a business has to do directly with how much profit the organization realizes from the sale of the products or services that the company provides to its customers. In order to maximize a company's profitability, it is very important to have a good and complete financial management system to handle the important aspects of money management.

One of the keys to a good business financial management structure is controlling the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly expenses of the operation. This comes down to simple math and cash management principles. Companies will not be profitable, and therefore won't stay in business long, if they spend more than is required to produce and deliver their product, and end up trimming their profit margin so that it is just too thin to make the business viable.

Keeping overhead expenses in check and making sure that the cash in the business is managed effectively through a financial management system will help make a company better able to compete in the marketplace. When expenses get too high, it is hard to compete effectively and a competing company can easily start luring away customers based on price.

One of the most important people involved in good business financial management is the treasurer of the board. He or she is typically charged with the responsibility to oversee the money management for a corporation. The person in this role should come to the job with a wealth of business cash management experience, a strong level of wisdom and a firm understanding of corporate financial management. With the treasurer strongly armed with these money management skills, the corporation stands a much better chance of being strong financially and being able to ride out the storms of business and economic challenges.

Another key person on the team that oversees the entire business financial management practices for a corporation is, of course, the accountant. It is the corporate accountant and his team, depending on the size of the company, that will deal with the minute and detailed money management for the company on a daily or sometimes hourly basis.

The accounting department of a company will keep the books for the organization, will generate the various financial statements that are required both by government agencies and by the board of directors, and will conduct the financial analysis of the financial reports. This is the department that is entrusted with managing and enforcing departmental budgets, which is such an essential part of financial management systems, and essentially handles and accounts for every penny that flows in and out of the business coffers.

Nowadays, with the ubiquitousness of computers at every level of business and commerce, there is no doubt that any company that takes advantage of a complete financial management system for their operation will also be using sophisticated money management software as well. Even though the people in the organization bring the expertise and knowledge to the task of business financial management, the software chosen to help them do their jobs is critically important and much be chosen only after careful research and comparisons, with regard to the options available.

Easing Your Money Management Using Financial Management Software

Good business financial management principles are some of the most important and foundational things that you can learn if you are planning to take the plunge into owning and operating your own business, either now or at some point in the future. Along with a sound understanding of these principles and acquiring solid money management skills, you should also make full use of the business related, financial management software that is available these days.

When business owners, managers and accounting personnel make financial decisions for a business, it is important that they have the most complete, organized and accurate business financial management reports that are available. It is also important that these reports are as up-to-the minute and current as possible, especially in today's volatile economic climate, and good a good software program in financial management is the best way to generate these kinds of reports.

Financial management software often comes in suites or bundles of programs or modules, which are designed to work together to manage the data needed for professional accounting practices for the business. These modules include a variety of financial management tools that can generate the reports for the management of the business, as well as being able to easily handle the calculation of taxes.

The software packages that are available today for business finance money management are typically "all in one" solutions that include many modules for different aspects of business accounting. These various modules all work together and are designed to easily share information so that financial data only needs to be entered into the system once. This reduces the chance of errors that are often created when data has to be reentered numerous times.

Money management for businesses, whether small home-based businesses or large corporations, all come down to the same principles, so these software programs are essentially the same regardless of the size of the business. In most instances, the primary differences in software for business financial management for small business, as opposed to those for corporate financial management, is the potential limitation on the size of the database, the number of users who are allowed to access the software, and the networking capabilities of the program.

However, the basic functions of any good money management software program will include all of the basic accounting functions. In addition, there are personal money management software solutions on the market as well, which allow the user to have more control and better insights into their personal financial situation and which can also prepare personal tax reports and forms. This level of software can often be very effective for the person who is starting up a small home business.

The larger financial management software packages for businesses will also have modules that can handle all aspects of payroll, cash management account needs, check preparation and generation, and financial risk assessment and management. Because the money management for a company is so crucial to its success, it is important to spend sufficient time comparing the different options available, as well as making sure the software publisher is reliable and reputable.

Finance Management Courses - Why Financial Management is a Popular Program

Finance management or financial management is that aspect of management which involves the application of general management principles to specific financial operations. It basically entails planning within a business enterprise to ensure a positive cash flow and maximize shareholder wealth. Financial management includes a large number of complex practices and processes, including the administration and maintenance of financial aspects and identifying and managing risks.

The decisions that financial managers need to make are in regard to financing, investments, payouts of dividends, and working capital management. They generally encounter difficulties in the form of measurement problems, uncertainty, and temporal spread. Financial managers need to be conversant with the tools and concepts of financial management, such as capital budgeting, sources of finance, various types of financial statements, financial accounting, financial reporting, and risk management.

Managerial or corporate finance is the task of providing funds for a corporation's activities. Its goal is the maximization of the company's wealth and the value of its stock, while balancing risk and profitability. People entrusted with the financial management of corporations must be sound in the practices of financial management if they are run an organization successfully.

Given the importance of financial managers in today's business environment, it is not surprising that a wide variety of courses from the full-time MBA to the online courses abound.

Finance is perhaps the most popular choice for candidates seeking management degrees. The role of the financial manager is to oversee the generation of financial analysis and reports to help with the company's decision making, business development, and more importantly, strategic planning. The job of the financial analyst is to use these tools and devices to shape the company's investments and business growth. Financial analysts and managers today play a crucial role in effecting mergers and global financing and expansion.

If you are looking for a role in finance in a medium to large corporation, the degree program is what you will need to look at, given the complexities of financial management in large corporations. When choosing a program, remember that with finance and management degrees, the institute that you pick must be reputable and recognized in the field. Accreditation bodies exist specifically for MBA programs to oversee the consistency and quality of business education, so it is preferable for a student to select a program that is accredited.

If however, you are already running your own small or medium enterprise or non-profit organization, and need to apply the tools of financial management to run your organization more effectively, you can opt for the shorter courses or the online programs offered by the many institutes.

Several MBA programs offer tailor-made courses that could be full-time, part-time, and distance learning courses with specialized concentrations. Accelerated MBA programs involve a higher course load and more intense and examination schedules. Part-time courses are another option, with classes being held in evenings, after normal working hours, or on weekends. Executive MBA programs are developed to meet the training needs of full-time managers and executives, allowing them to earn their degrees without compromising their jobs.

From this spectrum of financial management courses, there is truly one for each one to enhance our own financial management skills and take our enterprises to the cutting edge!

12 Areas to Include in Your Financial Management Operations Manual

From a process perspective, Financial Management is the easiest and simplest business process to take care of no matter what business you're in. But it's often the most avoided and neglected area of any business. So why is that? Well, in my experience it often comes down to our fears around money.

The best way to tackle fear is by using knowledge. Not avoidance. I work with many clients who at first will try their absolute best to avoid looking at their numbers, or not paying attention to it, in the hope that it will go away. But unless we know where you're at right now, there's no way we can improve it. This is where putting together a financial management process and documenting this in a financial management operations manual can be of huge benefit both to yourself as a business owner and to your business!

The type of Financial Management process that I take clients through is a method that I devised because I was probably way behind where you are now. It comes down to understanding some simple systems that you can then enhance to build your very own financial management process. Then putting that knowledge into a financial management operations manual so that your financial records are maintained in a consistent manner that you can get the information you want.

I have to be very clear with you here. I am not an accountant. My understanding of financial management comes from learning the hard way - by it costing me a fortune to NOT know. So over time, I developed my financial know-how and then devised systems and procedures to help me to be able to better manage my business finances.

And by the way, I have always had great financial people on my team. But they are made great by the fact that I have a system that they follow. This ensures that my data is recorded in a consistent manner, and that I've got my finger on the pulse of my business by having all the right reports available at the right time.

Here's a quick high level checklist of what should be included in putting together your financial management process and operations manual:

1. ACCOUNTING ROLES: Clearly indicate who's responsible for your money in your financial management operations manual. Understand the different roles of people who are doing the numbers in your business. Be clear about the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant or financial manager and how each can benefit your business in the most cost effective way. Then put together job descriptions outlining who is responsible for what and how they interlink (or you can purchase complete job descriptions for your bookkeeper and financial controller at our website).

2. FINANCIAL REPORTS: Work out what reports you require to keep your finger on the pulse of your business - and then insist on receiving them on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Outline in your operations manual who is responsible for delivering these (this should be outlined in the job descriptions also!) and at what regularity. These reports should form the cornerstone of your business decisions. You can never have too much information.

3. YOUR ACCOUNTING SYSTEM: Many people rely on their bookkeeper or accountant to tell them what the best accounting system is to use. But don't just take this information at face value. Investing in an accounting system is a big investment over time. Research the initial investment cost of any recommended system, as well as the continual costs to upgrade the system from year to year. Also consider how many bookkeepers are trained in this system. There is no point is purchasing an accounting system that is cheap as chips if there is no-one able to use it. This will just result in paying top dollar for a specialized bookkeeper and potentially more costs down the track to convert over to a less specialized system!

4. PROFIT AND LOSS PROJECTIONS: Every year prior to the end of your financial year, you should be putting together a profit and loss projection of what you want your business to be doing. This provides you with important "what if" scenario planning. It's always better to know whether something is going to financially work before you embark on it!

5. BUDGETING: Budgets are the most known about and yet least used thing in most businesses. You should have an annual budget that has been derived from your Profit and Loss Projection then broken down into specific areas in your business. It also assists people (including your bookkeeper) in your business to know exactly what they can spend and what they can't. It's also an idea to ask your bookkeeper to enter the budget into your accounting system so that you can incorporate your budget into your Projected Versus Actual reports.

6. CASH FLOW ANALYSIS: I often get asked why a business is making a profit, but there's never any money to spend. This is because there is a difference between cash flow and profit. It is essential that you ask for a cash flow analysis each month at a minimum - weekly would be better! This ensures that you have enough money in your bank to pay people when money is due, and allows you to chase up faster those that owe you money.

7. CONTROLLING COSTS: To control costs in your business you should have a purchasing system in place. Ensure that not a dollar is spent in your business without a purchase order and incorporate this into your company policy document. Every bookkeeper I've ever known baulks at this idea because it's extra work for them. But at the end of the day, it keeps control over your money. With this system in place you will never have unexpected expenses arise that an employee has kindly organised for you.

8. ACCOUNTS PAYABLE: Outline and record in your financial management operations manual how your accounts are paid including the method and timeline. Also include any regular payments including direct debits, as well as other spending methods such as store cards or credit cards. Another tip is to include your petty cash system and employee (and director) expense reimbursement systems.

9. ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Often business owners think that it's common sense for a bookkeeper to know what to do in accounts receivable. But never for one moment think that your common sense is the same as your employees! Ensure that your financial management operations manual includes an overview of the system for dispensing goods and/or services, your credit terms, how to raise invoices and how to follow up on outstanding payments. I also encourage clients to include phone scripts on debt collecting in their operations manual so that there is no doubt as to how to handle clients. Nothing annoys a good client more than an accounts person chasing them for money and conversely, nothing annoys a business owner more than an accounts person who can't get a definite payment date!

10. BANK ACCOUNTS: Make sure that your financial management operations manual includes an outline of bank accounts, including GST accounts and who credit cards are issued to. Also include an overview of online payment systems. However NEVER include details on your PIN numbers. This should be divulged in person and never written down.

11. Other things to include in your financial management operations manual should include items such as Fixed Asset Register, Insurances, Depreciation Registers and End of Year Procedures. Although these are generally covered by your accountant at the end of the year, it should also be included in your financial management operations manual so that your bookkeeper and/or financial controller know what steps to take to prepare the information for your accountant.

12. DATA BACKUPS: Your money records are THE most important records in your business. Ensure that your bookkeeper is saving your records to a device that is stored externally to the computer. Include information on how to back up to this device in your financial management operations manual.

Putting together a financial management process and documenting it in an operations manual takes time and patience. In general you should allow yourself time to collate all the information to put together a draft manual, then time to fine tune it. Alternatively, if you are looking to source a ready made template that already outlines most of what you need, then have a look at our website

Importance of Financial Management Degrees

At present, nearly all government or private organizations have at least one financial manager to guide investment activities, manage the groundwork of financial reports and develop and carry out cash-management schemes. These days, every organization, whether big or small has financial managers, and they hold a key and responsible position.

Although, responsibilities of a financial manager vary according to the position, but some of the common work includes preparing reports that are generally required by regulatory authorities. They also play important role in managing the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets, income statements and analyses of future earnings or expenditures. All these describe and determine the organization's financial position. In many firms, financial managers are the key personnel who administer the accounting and budget departments.

Financial managers also called as financial consultants or personal financial advisors use their knowledge of investments, tax laws, insurance and real estate to recommend financial options to individuals based on their short-term and long-term goals. Considering the work responsibilities and expectations of employers every firm looks for a skillful employee who can direct their business to the right path. Hence, to compete with ever changing requirements of employers getting a degree in financial management is must.

Typically, a career in the financial management needs at least a master's degree. Courses available in the financial management in the United States include fundamentals of business law, accounting, management principles, e-commerce, ethics, finances, tax laws and other related topics. These programs help students learn the skills of focusing on different aspects of business like systems integration, business strategies, e-commerce, technology consulting, and human resources. With Master's degree you can have a greater opportunity for promotion and advancement in your career field.

Since, financial managers can be found in every organization, their demand goes higher than any available positions in the market. Moreover, employment growth for financial managers is anticipated to be as fast as the average for all occupations. Apart from this greater demand for highly skilled financial professionals, make the career outlook even more excellent.

In fact, if we study the recent data then by the year 2016 the demand is expected to grow by 13%. Regulatory reforms along with the expansion and globalization of the economy will raise the need for financial expertise and drive job growth. Both the creation of new businesses and growth of established companies will spur demand for financial managers, controller, treasurer/finance officer, credit manager, cash manager, and risk/insurance manager.

Hence, to get into the rush of grabbing a honourable and responsible accounting position the first and foremost thing is to equip yourself with all the skills, which are in high demand in the financial market. For this you need to enroll in a recognized school where you can learn all the techniques of managing finance.

Financial Management

Many people would expect starting a business to be very easy. With a product or service to sell and enough knowledge to market it properly, many people think that they are ready to go. Starting a business, however, takes more than just products or services and simple knowledge. It takes much more if you want to make your business grow.

At the very start of the business, owners or shareholders will instantly be faced with financial matters that require financial decisions. Questions such as what assets to invest in and where to get the cash needed for such investments would require financial know-how. And as the business venture thrives, shareholders have to manage daily finances and make long-term financial decisions. All of this definitely requires more than just a little knowledge in business. It requires knowledge in an entirely different area - the area of financial management.

Defined, financial management is the process of planning financial decisions with the ultimate goal of maximizing the stockholders' wealth. In the world of finance, financial management is also known by other names like corporate finance, business finance, and managerial finance.

While the ultimate goal of financial management is clear "maximizing stockholder's wealth," the path leading to this ultimate goal is paved with other small goals. Goals like day-to-day profitability and properly managing daily finances are generally regarded as short-term goals, and achieving these goals belongs to the realm of short-term financial management. Aside from these, financial management also tackles other long-term goals, including business profitability and viability.

Achieving the goals of financial management, both long term and short term, involves a lot of processes and activities. These usually include cash management, financial risk management, financial accounting, managerial accounting, and others.

Now, these may sound like a multitude of tasks, especially for businessmen who are only managing small businesses. With the many financial management software products available, however, handling all of these tasks may become easier. Alternatively, businessmen may avail themselves of the services of a financial manager or seek the aid of companies providing financial management services.

Monday, 22 October 2012

One Key Thing

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to go to Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa and speak in Mark Ryan’s Personal Finance Class. This was the first class that I visited that is using our Personal Finance book. It was really fun and exciting to be at a different college and in a different classroom and answer the student’s questions. The one question that I thought was most interesting was “What is the one key thing, or most important part of your book?”

After a little time, I answered that Chapter 1, ‘Values, Vision, Mission and You’, was the most important part of the book. If you know your values and have a vision for your future, financial decisions become easier. Whenever you make a financial decision, ask yourself if this decision or purchase is a reflection of your values. Is this really how you want to use your resource of money? Framing your decisions around your values allows you to achieve your goals and work towards your vision.

Knowing your personal mission helps you define your passions and what you do best. If you can turn your passions into profits, you never have to work another day in your life. Knowing you passions and strengths helps you find careers where you can excel.

I also shared with them that I thought our Personal Finance book was really about helping you increase your happiness. Money decisions are stressful and knowing your values, and setting your budget based on your values will reduce your stress and increase your happiness.

We hope that this blog and our Personal Finance book increases your happiness, helps you discover your vision, values and mission, and be in control of your finances. Thanks again to Mark Ryan, Hawkeye Community College, McGraw-Hill, and most importantly, the students in the class for hosting me for the hour. It was an honor to spend time with you.

All our best, Bob and Kristy

Friday, 19 October 2012

Living off the Grid

It has been six weeks since we sold our house and moved into our motor coach. If you read our previous blog "Homeless" you know it was quite a shock moving from 3,000 to 300 square feet. The idea of living in our motor coach for 6 to 9 months while we build our next home was a great plan as we sat around the dining room table of our old house. The good news is that it gets better.

To bring you up to speed, we now have electricity as of two weeks ago but still do not have running water. When we were showering in the motor home, our 85 gallon water holding tank would last us about one week. Tuesday was our day to take the motor home out to empty our tanks and fill up with fresh water.

We changed our ways two weeks ago. We now get up at 5:00 am to head out to the Campus Wellness and Recreation Center (CRWC) for a work out and morning shower. We can now stretch our 85 gallons out for one month.

Lessons learned over the past 6 weeks:

1. Running water and electricity are great luxuries. There is nothing like a long hot shower.

2. We have a new appreciation for space. Bob misses his home office and fast Internet. Kristy misses her closet and room to get ready in the morning.

3. Living in a small space makes every other house seem enormous. We spent time at Kristy's parents’ house and our kids’ house and they both seem gigantic! Such a luxury to spread out and have separate rooms.

4. Public libraries are great places. Without a home office, Bob has been spending time working at the Coralville Public Library and he appreciates free Wi-Fi.

5. Laundromats have free Wi-Fi and you can do a week of laundry in less than two hours. They also have cable television and we can watch channels that we don't have.

6. Why did we pay so much for cable? We are using the antenna on the motor home and the reception is great. We get 27 channels from our pasture.

7. Living off the grid is frugal but the 'fun' varies.

8. Life is good. It's not the space you have but the people in your life that makes life good. When we are with family or friends, the space never feels small. For all our family and friends, we are very thankful.

On Guest Posts, Infographics, Brown Nosing Emails, and Mutually Beneficial Projects

For some reason, I receive each month a couple of requests from bloggers to make guest posts on my blog. I'm happy to consider such posts, and have done one or two in the past, but they must follow the three As: ACCURATE, ASTUTE, and ANALYTICAL. In other words, no pop history and no lists like "X Reasons You Should Do Y" or whatever. There are plenty of other blogs that do that sort of thing.

I also get emails from people who want me to post or link to their "infographics." They tend to be quite sharp looking pics but some fail all three A criteria specified above and I have yet to see one that was sufficiently analytical. Again, there are plenty of blogs out there that post infographics.

And please do NOT send me emails claiming that you have read my blog with interest, etc. and then display the utmost ignorance about its actual content.

But rest assured I'll happily trade with anyone who offers a mutually beneficial proposal.