The Basics of Money Management Skills…No Matter How Much You Make

  • Living pay day to pay day? 
  • Wondering if you will ever get ahead or if you have plenty but wasting money?
  • Imagining the day that you have enough to cover all bills and then some or have enough extra but don’t know how to properly save it?

We all have money struggles or worries, even if we do make enough to cover all bills and then some.  There is a saying “the more money you make, the more money you spend”.  I have found this true for myself so started asking myself why I continue to spend more as I earn more. My newest and ongoing question to myself and hope to become yours is…

If I perhaps lived the way I lived when I only had half my current income, then how much could I truly have now?”

We all could benefit from some simple money management techniques or mindsets…as I would call it.  Whether we make $25k or $200K per year, there are some basic money management skills to be had or learned.

How many of you constantly stress over the above financial issues?  I have been there and feel your struggles…still do which is reason for my writing this article.  Believe it or not, managing your finances is all completely possible with just a little bit of will power, a better knowledge of how to best handle your incoming cash and a few tips on investing and saving.  No matter your financial situation, it is possible to get yourself into a positive cash flow…if you are willing to put forth the time, attention, effort, and positive mindset. Let’s answer a few questions to see if you are ready to start on this new road to financial freedom…or at least not worrying about how your next meal will be put on the table.

  • Mentally ready to start a new financial journey? Note: This is the #1 most important thought process!
  • Want to stop worrying about where food money will come from tomorrow or next week? 
  • Motivated to see your savings account grow?

If you can answer yes to all of the above questions, then read on but get ready to make some sacrifices.  This will not be easy and does require some true willpower…as is with many things in life.  However, with the right mindset and motivation, you can change your situation.  It may take months or could take years (as it was in my case) but if you stick to it, it can and will happen. Even though I could stand to stop wasting some money, I still have enough to pay all my bills and much more, all because I followed the below tips.

Ok…here we go…ready? 

I will try to make this as simple as possible.  In my opinion, we all don’t have time for complex matters as life is already that for us.  So, we need easy go to methods for managing our finances…especially if you are working two jobs or one job plus juggling a family or other responsibilities. 

Let’s examine 3 basic smart tips for managing our finances to help at least have a little left over to put away in savings each pay day.

#1 Create a simple budget and stick to it.

Check out my article: How to Create a Simple Budget https://wordpress.com/post/thedeeperpocket.com/195

This step is basically determining how much you make and not spending more than that. If you figure out that your income does not cover your basic necessary living expenses, then move on to advice #3 or either contact me at info@thedeeperpocket.com to get some advice in how to move forward with your financial plan.

#2. Start a savings account, even if only $5 per pay day put into it.

This one is very simple. If all you have is $1 or $5, start putting it away in a savings account. Any small amount helps and will build up to a much larger savings as you start to get all of your other financial matters in order. First just start with a goal of anything. If it is simply $5 per pay day, then do it and do not touch it if not absolutely necessary. Keep building up until you reach at least $1000 for emergencies. After that, keep building for long term large purchases.

#3 Decide to further your education or get a second job to increase income.

Sometimes having enough to cover ordinary living expenses or building up a savings account is just simply working longer hours, getting a second job or going back to school to further your education. Working a second job is not ideal but I will tell you that, even though I have furthered my education and only work one job, I still often work the weekly hours equivalent to two jobs. Yes, getting the education and experience in my field of work has helped me to retain a higher salary however, very long hours come with that responsibility. I do owe quite a large education debt but there are many ways to go around that. If you feel that you would like to go the education route, you can always apply for Federal Pell Grants and much more. That is how I was able to get through college as a single mom. It is possible.

With the above proven and followed tips, you will be well on your way to living pay day to pay months or years. The main thought process is to stick with your plan and do not deter from it. Will it be easy? The answer is no but with the right plan and mental will power, you will be well on your way to a brighter and better financial future.

The Loneliness of a Leader

Facebook Messenger notification on my phone…a friend asking how I am doing and would I like to go on a walk…I say that I will have to see how the week goes.  I never contact her back as I am working 12+ hours per day and am exhausted.

Another notification on my phone…a different friend asking if I will be able to come to her party on a Monday evening…I say that I have just started a new job and am being slammed with demanding deadlines and that I may have to decline…too stressed on a weekday.  She does not respond back, and I feel hurt.

Text message from my mom…how are you doing, and you should visit soon…I say good and yes that would be great…but I do not go for many months as too much on my plate. 

Text message from my sisters…”we should get the grandbabies together to meet and play”…I say that yes, we should do that soon…many months go by with no follow through.  I am just too overwhelmed. 

I go to work, day after day, 8-hour days then go home and work from home more hours to include weeknights, Saturdays and Sundays.  Friends and family keep asking for me to join their activities and I keep making excuses for not doing so.  My brain is exhausted…so exhausted that all I can do in my free time is sit by myself and watch Netflix…cannot deal with doing anything else…other than to relax by myself.

I go to work each day and sit in an office by myself…no longer the friendships of colleagues who sit in cubicles beside me.  Long gone are the days where I felt no responsibility other than my one job where I socialized and talked about management or the perceived lack thereof with my peers.  Now I am the “management”, the one who is responsible for myself and all others, the one who is seen as the one to be feared or the one to be “on a different level”, not a peer friend/coworker.

I feel so many mixed emotions…satisfaction from career success, stimulation and adrenaline for fixing another company’s problems, depression and loneliness as I watch all my friends and family posting such fun get together and outings on social media that I declined being a part of due to work responsibilities.  Why do I feel so alone as I wanted this career promotion, this pay raise, this step on the corporate ladder?  Is there a way to have it all?

  • Are you a leader?
  • Do any of the above issues sound familiar to you?
  • Do you often feel isolated from friends and family due to your demanding job?
  • Have you wondered how nice it would be to figure out a good balance between work and personal life?

I often think about this all…day after day…as I watch my personal life get put on hold because of work demands, all the while wondering when I will have that fun, normal and less stressful work/personal life balance back.  However, I continue allowing the work to come first place…but why?

Why do I do this?  I wonder this on a constant basis as I turn down friends, family and other relationships.

Well, here are my top 3 thoughts on why I continue this lonely lifestyle that I do not necessarily have to continue.

  1. I have a deep ingrained desire to prove myself capable of accomplishing great things…even at the risk of losing great friendships.
  2. I am afraid of making less money and not having the desired financial freedom that I want.
  3. I am very unusually independent and do not like relying or depending on anyone for my well-being.
  4. I am afraid of deep personal relationships that would cause me to sacrifice my success.

In conclusion…as I sit here in loneliness and write this article…I am still in constant turmoil on figuring out how to be a successful leader and have a beautiful and balanced personal life.  I do know one thing and that is that I do not have the stress of living pay day to pay day as many others do.  I have been there before and that isn’t a pleasant place to be either, so I guess it is all up to what you want to be stress free about.  I choose the road to success and financial freedom and will eventually figure out how to balance the personal life too.

How about you?

The Importance of Safety in the Workplace

Making Safety the #1 Priority

Whether you are a business owner, human resource manager, safety officer or other business professional tasked with safeguarding your company’s most important assets (human capital), I am sure that you have experienced a great deal of thought and stress over how to protect them, while also preventing unnecessary costs to the business. This process truly doesn’t have to be as daunting as a task as you may currently feel it to be. All it takes for success is understanding the main reasons for why safety should be a main concern, implementing OSHA rules, creating a culture of safety, making sure to enforce the rules, staying on top of investigating all accidents and then understanding why certain safety and health hazards can damage your business and reputation.

Understand the Top 3 Reasons for Making Safety a Priority

#1 Legal Compliance

  • Safety is the law
  • Employers can be fined for not following the law
  • A company is subject to an inspection at any time

#2 Employee Protection

  • Employees are a company’s #1 asset
  • A safe work environment is expected from all employees
  • Employees should not have to worry about being hurt or killed

#3 Cost Savings

  • Fewer workers’ compensation claims, disability payments and lawsuits
  • Less sick leave
  • Decreased time lost for replacing employees who are injured or killed

Implement OSHA Standards

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is responsible for developing and enforcing mandatory safety and health standards for all jobs in the private and public sectors. OSHA has the right to conduct inspections, issue citations and fine companies for not following these standards. These standards involve protective clothing, safe machinery and equipment, first aid and administrative duties such as hanging posters and submitting injury reports each year.

Create a Culture of Safety

Safety and Fitness-for-Duty Tests Interviews

  • Ask behavioral safety related questions during new candidate interviews to get a feel for an accident-prone person
  • Require pre-hire physical exams
  • Conduct ongoing fitness-for-duty evaluations on current employees

Supervisor’s Key Roles

  • Continuously communicate the need for safety to all employees
  • Explain the reasons for using protective clothing and materials, proper work procedures, and always being aware of safety hazards
  • Reinforce best safety practices and immediately correct unsafe behaviors

Proactive Safety Training Programs

  • Create a safety program that uses different types of media such as courses, interactive games and printed/audiovisual material
  • Obtain ideas from employees on the best design for a safety program
  • Empower employees with a sense of ownership in promoting safety

Enforce Safety Rules

Safety rules can only be enforced once a company has implemented an efficient safety program, conducted training to all employees, installed warning signs, and provided employees with all appropriate safety equipment necessary to remain safe while performing their jobs

Investigate and Record Accidents

  • Investigate
  • Implement Corrections
  • Rearrange workstations
  • Install safety guards or controls
  • Conduct additional safety training
  • Record and Report

Understand Safety and Health Hazards and Issues

Conclusion

There are many reasons for safety to be made a top priority in any business.  By understanding the main 3 reasons for making safety a priority and implementing OSHA standards, a company can do a lot to create a great safety culture by engaging all employees in the importance of being safe, enforcing the rules and continuously recognize safety, health hazards and related issues. 

A healthy employee is a happy employee.

Discipline in the Workplace and the Results of Inaction

Discipline in the workplace is a very important tool for correcting negative or unacceptable behavior of employees so that they perform better and show other employees consistency in following company practices (Snell, 2016).  Some of the main reasons why managers should never be inactive when dealing with necessary employee discipline include:

  • Protecting the safety of all other employees
  • Preventing inefficient operations due to employee attendance and other issues
  • Eliminating the potential for theft and dishonesty

Let’s look a little closer at the results of inaction from an employer to discipline employees who are not complying with acceptable workplace standards.    

Lack of Safety Procedures = Many Unnecessary Company Costs

It is an employer’s ethical duty to provide a safe work environment for all employees.  Several reasons why an employer would want to ensure they keep their employees safe are to retain their most important asset (human capital), prevent lawsuits from injured employees, and save many unnecessary costs such as workers compensation and time missed from work.  If an employee is continuously allowed to do things such as bully other employees or managers, use profanity, sleep on the job, climb tall ladders without the use of lanyards, and lift heavy things while not wearing a hard hat, the safety of all other employees is at great risk. 

Implementing safety rules, such as the types required by OSHA will ensure that employees, customers and contractors do not get hurt while on company premises (Mooney, 2018).  Proper training of the safety rules and discipline for the employees who fail to follow them is very important to prevent legal action and the high costs of workers compensation insurance. (Mooney, 2018).  Another thing that can occur is the loss of customers and suppliers who may say that you are not allowed on their property nor do they want to enter your property due to safety hazards. 

No Employee Handbook = Chaos and Inefficient Operations

Ensuring that an employee handbook is in place for things such as aggressive behavior, substance abuse and sexual harassment are key to preventing the safety of all employees.  If not in place, a shooting or other serious act of violence can occur, including someone doing something like accidentally injuring someone with a forklift because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  An example I have had to deal with is a disgruntled employee who thought that I had messed up his paycheck on purpose.  The employee didn’t even give me a chance to calmly look at everything but instead immediately exploded at me using profanity and yelling.  The reason why he thought this was appropriate behavior is because his manager had allowed the aggressive behavior for a long time.  I immediately had a conversation with the manager and told him that I would not allow that behavior towards me or anyone else again. 

Inefficient operations such as angry customers whose phone calls are not answered immediately, or production lines shut down are very good reasons for the immediate discipline of employees who are consistently late or not showing up at all to work.  Since “efficiency is tied to a disciplined organization”, an employer needs to have rules in place for tardiness, lunch breaks, etc. to prevent chaos when trying to effectively lead operations (Mooney, 2018).  A good way to combat this issue is to ensure that you have an employee handbook in place.  An experienced HR attorney can definitely assist you in writing this up to meet any and all legal compliance for the state you do business in.  If you choose to not implement an employee handbook, then your company could face serious issues such as the loss of customers due to backorders, lost time on employees who take longer lunch breaks than allowed and basically just create chaos within the company.    

Negligence in Enforcing Company Policies = Theft & Embezzlement   

Finally, allowing an employee to not follow company policies and procedures for invoice approvals, contracts with customers, orders from suppliers, etc., sets a company up for fraud and embezzlement.  According to David Worrell, a finance consultant and part-time CFO, the average amount that an embezzling employee steals from a company in a month is $17,656 (Worrell, 2012).  According to David and what I know as a Controller at my current employer, it is essential to develop a system of controls for separation of job duties (Worrell, 2012).  Even though this is very difficult to do in a small business such as the one I work for with only 40 employees, I am slowly trying to develop methods of separating certain duties in payroll and accounting processes that I manage. 

When management turns a “blind eye” to employees who are not following company policies, the result can very potentially be theft and embezzlement which equals major company losses.  For example, an employee who constantly has “missed time punches” might need to be investigated as to whether they are committing what is called time fraud.  My tried and true advice as an HR manager is to start looking at company cameras to verify what time the employee actually came and went from your business.  Not trying to make myself seem arrogant at all, but each time I have suspected an employee as committing time fraud, I have been correct…trust your instincts for sure.

Other reasons that theft and embezzlement can occur is when there is not enough separation of duties, such as a Controller who has full access to sign checks, transfer funds in bank accounts but also is the same person who reconciles the bank accounts.  An inventory manager who is allowed to conduct the year-end inventory count without checkoffs from other departments is a pure setup for embezzlement of company assets.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is in a company’s best interests to develop a good discipline plan and enforce it in order to promote a positive and healthy workplace for all employees.  By establishing better discipline methods and accounting controls, your company will most definitely be setup for success in more ways than just what revenue your sales staff is bringing in the front door.  Why not seriously consider what is going on in the back door of your business?  I assure you that it will be very worth it…cost and reputation wise.

References

Mooney, L. (2018, April 13). The Importance of Discipline in an Organization. Retrieved from azcentral: https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/importance-discipline-organization-4661.html

Snell, S. M. (2016). Managing Human Resources (17th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Worrell, D. (2012, August 22). Protect Your Small Business From Fraud and Embezzlement. Retrieved from smallbizdaily: https://www.smallbizdaily.com/protect-your-small-business-from-fraud-and-embezzlement/

Using Emojis in the Workplace and Why You Should Not

Emojis…those little symbolic icons that, during our very busy lives without time to type a bunch of words out, can quickly express our thoughts and feelings to friends, family and other special ones in our lives.  The smiley face telling a friend hello or to have a nice day, the winking face blowing a kiss to a romantic partner, the hot red face grimacing about a bad day at work, the frowny face with tears telling the world about some sadness…all of these emojis and more have become the norm, the accepted way the majority of us communicate with one another on a daily basis.  We use these emotional symbols via texting, social media, and sometimes workplace email. 

But the question is…should we be using them in all areas of our lives? 

  • Personal texting or emailing to friends, family and loved ones…great! 
  • Posting on non-professional social media sites…not a problem! 
  • Using in workplace emails or professional social media sites such as LinkedIn…most definitely a no! 

“Why should we not use emojis in a workplace setting”, you ask?  Let’s discuss four of the main reasons why I believe we shouldn’t use emojis in our professional lives.          

Can imply sarcasm

I know you may have innocently used that smiley face emoji at the end of your email response to a manager, simply meaning you pleasantly completed the task they asked you to do.  You may have thought that straight face included in your “I am so sorry to have caused that mistake that you had to fix” email to your coworker was just a way to ask for forgiveness.  That frowny face inserted into a customer communication, apologizing as to why their shipment was late…I know you didn’t mean anything negative by doing this. 

According to Alizah K. Lowell, LCSW-R, CEDS, a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst in New York City, in her article titled Why Do We Use Emojis?  Sometimes our words benefit from the addition of pictures, we often use emojis for several different reasons such as lightening the mood, softening the blow and expressing ourselves when we have difficulty communicating the right words (Lowell, 2016).  However, she also states that “Emojis are not labeled, so their meaning is up to those who use them” (Lowell, 2016).  This is where I start to have a problem with them being used in the workplace.

Since emojis can be interpreted in many different ways, the receiver of a workplace email may not view your response the same way that you intended it to mean.  When dealing with someone with an eating disorder or marital problems, it might just be ok for a social worker or psychiatrist to use emojis to “lighten the mood” or “soften the blow”;  however, your manager may start getting irritated when they continuously get a “Done 😊” response to something they have had to ask you multiple times to do. Your coworker that has to constantly email you to fix mistakes you have made is going to start thinking the straight face you continue to send them each time has a sarcastic meaning.  That customer who would really like to send you the angry red face emoji because their order was messed up or shipped late again may just go find another supplier if they continue to receive frowny faces but no future change in the amount of errors.    

Could be viewed as sexual harassment

As a manager, I have had a winking face sent to me in an email where I was asking other employees why they were not following a certain process.  Even though I knew the certain employee was only implying that they were happy that I was asking for others to follow this certain process they had also previously requested, it made me start thinking as an HR Manager as to whether that winking face was appropriate or not. 

Can winking, smiling or other emojis be considered sexual harassment in the workplace?  Yes, I believe they can and so do certain attorneys.

“It’s very common, in my cases, to have an employer say something inappropriate—or sexually coming on—to an individual, who is shocked and unable to come up with a response. Often, they would put an emoji to try to diffuse the situation,” says Debra S. Katz, an employment attorney in Washington, D.C. “I’ve seen cases where the defense has said, ‘The behavior is not unwelcome—look at the emojis.’ Instead of saying ‘Stop this now,’ they try to diffuse it by sending more friendly—or, at least, more neutral—symbols (Schirm, 2018).”

Might show incompetence

While most of us use emojis in our personal interactions as a fun way to communicate our emotions and feelings, using them in the workplace might just make one appear incompetent.  Colleagues with master’s degrees who never have any true input to any problem or process improvement, other than a smiley face emoji, tends to make me think that they truly are incompetent.  The emoji is, in my opinion, a way for them to diffuse their lack of knowledge on the subject being discussed. 

As discussed previously, there can be many different meanings of any emoji.  Per a study published in “Social Psychological and Personality Science, “a smiley is not a smile” and it is best to not use them in formal emails (Liebermann, 2017).

May destroy credibility

Another reason to not use emojis in the workplace is to retain credibility with all colleagues.  For example, if I as a Plant Controller and HR Manager am sending out an email memo reminding all employees to adhere to the company’s workplace bullying and harassment policy, I would probably be laughed at and ridiculed if I used an emoji within that email.  The employees would most likely consider me to be a hypocritical leader who isn’t following the policy myself.

If a CEO needs to send out a memo stating the company has been sold and future layoffs or restructuring are imminent, he/she would not want to apply a frowny face emoji, as it could send the organization into a state of frenzy and chaos.  Employees might start immediately jumping ship, showing negative attitudes, and becoming less productive; therefore, causing major cost problems for the business.

In conclusion, an infrequent emoji in a casual business email might be ok; however, it is best to not use them.  Whether dealing with a lawsuit by an employee who feels bullied or harassed, losing productivity due to executive leaders not being taken seriously or other workplace communication issues, all it takes is one emoji taken the wrong way for an individual or business to suffer serious career and financial repercussions.     

References

Liebermann, O. (2017, August 17). Using emoticons in work emails make you look incompetent, a study finds. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/17/health/emoticons-emails-study-trnd/index.html

Lowell, A. K.-R. (2016, May 16). Why Do We Use Emojis? Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201605/why-do-we-use-emojis

Schirm, B. (2018, November 18). CAN EMOJIS BE DEEMED SEXUAL HARASSMENT? Retrieved from Super Lawyers: https://www.superlawyers.com/washington-dc/article/can-emojis-be-deemed-sexual-harassment/2d21e4c0-d606-4650-9717-44df031755ba.html

Dear Business Owner: Your Overhead Employees ARE Just as Important as Your Revenue Generating Employees

Are you a business owner who thinks that your sales team brings the most important value to your organization?  Do you continuously pay your back office/administrative positions much less than your front-line revenue generating positions but can’t figure out why you have so much negative attitude and turnover in all of your overhead departments? 

If so, then let’s seriously talk.

I am sure that you are not doing this on purpose…that you have a true belief that ONLY your sales generating personnel are creating the utmost value for your company.  Yes…they do bring in sales revenue that most overhead employees do not have the skills or wants to do.  However, I believe you are drastically overlooking and devaluing the true reality of what your administrative employees do…to the point they lose all respect and eventually leave your organization. 

Have you ever thought about and truly evaluated what those backline employees are doing and how they impact your bottom line?  Could your sales employees survive without your administrative employees holding them up?

Probably not…and IT IS costing you a lot of money.  Let’s discuss a few of the reasons why your overhead employees ARE just as important as your revenue generating employees.

Finances/Cost Control

Just as your sales people are traveling and bringing in revenue, your overhead people are “burning many midnight hours” managing finances, cutting costs and improving efficiency…therefore bringing in more revenue or net income. 

Your accountant stays long hours at the office, ensuring that all state and IRS tax guidelines are met; therefore, preventing huge financial penalties.  This same employee constantly stresses, worries over, analyzes and fixes what costs your sales personnel have not entered correctly into your system…just so their profitability looks better (low cost of sales vs. revenue).       

The IT and software administrator you employed ensures that only certain employees have access and security to certain functions within your software system…so as to reduce fraud, embezzlement, etc.  This same employee sacrifices personal time to create efficient work processes and assist all employees with technical difficulties for performing their jobs on time.

Your inventory control department is constantly frustrated because there is no accountability for sales employees who try to “go around the processes” so as to quickly meet customer needs.  Inventory is received and removed without being recorded on the books; therefore, causing many cost and quality issues.

Organization/Time Management


Who manages your sales employee’s schedules and payrolls?  Who keeps office supplies stocked, sales orders entered, customer invoice payments collected, and vendor bills paid?  Most likely not your sales personnel.  If office management type personnel did not adhere to their detailed and organizational job duties, your sales employees would not get paid, not attend customer meetings on time, not remember their travel arrangements and therefore not bring in that important sales revenue that you place such a high value on.   

Human Capital and Relations

Your company’s HR department may seem just like a cost inducing problem.  However, their many hours spent on recruiting, training, and employee engagement is something that you as a business owner should not take lightly.  Your employees (or rather human capital) are the most important assets you have.  If your HR department does not perform efficiently, then your turnover will increase; therefore, costing your company many sales dollars.

In conclusion, for a truly successful company, all employees need to be valued the same…whether on the sales revenue generating side or the cost reduction side.  They are all equally important in creating your “in the black” bottom line results. 

Even if you are seeing high sales dollars, that doesn’t mean your business is not losing high costs and therefore more net income…all because you don’t think your overhead employees are as valuable.   Make sure to recognize and reward your overhead employees just as much as your revenue generating employees. 

I think you will be surprised and pleased with the bottom line results.    

The Basics of Accounts Payable – For the New Accounting Professional or Business Owner

Are you a fresh graduate with an accounting degree, tasked with managing an accounts payable department at your new job, a new accounts payable employee, excited to dive into your new role as the person who keeps all bills paid in a timely manner, or a small business owner with no idea of where to begin in the efficient management of your company’s accounts payable process? 

If so, then I am sure you may be feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of what all needs to be done to ensure that everything gets completed correctly and meets all compliance with IRS and any state(s)’ tax guidelines.  The accounts payable process is one that often requires extreme detailed, organizational and time-management skills. 

As a tried and true expert with almost 20 year of experience managing the accounts payable process of both small and large organizations, I would like to provide you with a few of the most basic and simple tips that I have learned over the years for maintaining a very streamlined, organized and deadline oriented accounts payable function.  The first and most important thing that needs to be understood is the definition of accounts payable and how it impacts your business.  Secondly, implementing the basic steps of an efficient accounts payable process can be crucial to minimizing bad vendor credit scores and meeting tax deadlines.  Finally, we will discuss some options for automating your accounts payable processes so as to eliminate wasted time and resources for your company.    

What is Accounts Payable and How Does It Impact Your Business?

Let’s first discuss the definition of accounts payable for your business or employer.  Accounts payable in basic terms is everything that your business or employer owes to debtors.  This can include all purchased office supplies, manufacturing parts, building & grounds maintenance, employee training, meals & reimbursement for sales personnel to capital equipment, company loans, and more. 

Accounts payable is one of the most important key indicators of how your business is performing on a monthly basis.  For example, if in any given month, your company owes out $200K in outstanding accounts payable but you have only $100K due in from accounts receivable (what your customers’ owe to you), $50K cash in your bank, and maybe another $10K new sales orders, then you are in a $40K overall cash deficit.  This is not a good situation.  Therefore, we move on to the next important aspect of managing accounts payable, understanding the accounts payable process.  

What is an Efficient Accounts Payable Process?

An efficient accounts payable process can do many important things for your company, such as preventing the doing of business with illegal companies, eliminating bad credit scores, meeting tax deadlines, reducing duplicate payments and maximizing overall cash flow.  What is a great accounts payable process?  Let’s discuss 5 essential steps.

  1.  Do not set up a vendor account unless you have obtained a W-9 (or W-8BEN for international suppliers) and Certificate of Insurance from the vendor.  This process will ensure that you are not doing business with an illegal company nor participating with a company that could sue you for getting hurt on yours or your customer’s site because they do not have their own liability insurance. Plus, you will already have all important documentation for meeting 1099 tax deadlines each January.
  2. Pay all bills on time based on agreed upon pay terms with supplier.  A bad credit score with any company can greatly damage your business reputation.
  3. Research all state sales tax rules and payment deadlines so that you know when and how much to pay for all purchases and services.
  4. Set up internal procedures for minimizing duplicate payments to vendors.  An example would be to ensure that all employees responsible for entering invoices into your system follow same guidelines such as using consistent invoice numbering (invoice number with no dashes, spaces, or characters…only numbers), or that they do not enter a copy of an invoice, only use originals. 
  5. Maximize cash flow by only paying invoices due each week.  If your company is dealing with cash flow issues, it is best to only pay what is due each week or so.  Most accounting software systems have a way to pull into a payment run only what is due within a certain date.  Get with your software system IT consultant to find out the best way to deal with this issue if necessary.  There is no need to pay anything not due yet.  It is better to let the money sit in a money market or CD account earning interest.

What Are Some Ways to Automate Accounts Payable and Why?

With any company these days, there is always the question of how to automate business processes so as to streamline and eliminate unnecessary employees and tasks to reduce costs.  Accounts payable is one of the number one easiest process to automate in any company, small or large.  This can be done in several different ways.

  1.  Talk to your company’s bank representative on setting up vendor payments by credit card or electronic payment.  There is no need for expensive check writing anymore, unless they are for a utility or phone company.  That is about it.  Even those type of payments can be made online via ACH debit.  The time of cutting manual checks, signing them, stuffing into envelopes, applying postage, etc., is just a huge waste of time and money for your company.
  2. Purchase an expense management software system that streamlines all employee travel and expense reimbursement transactions.
  3. Outsource your AP to a third-party company, one that utilizes cost-saving technologies.  Contact me today at info@thedeeperpocket.com for consulting or other accounts payable management advice.

Stepping Back in Order to Step Up Your Career

Stepping back or even just laterally in your career may cause anxiety, stress and other severe mental issues with some.  Leaving a job or company that you have been with for years can be as traumatizing as other major life events, such as marriage, divorce and death of a loved one.  Even if a particular job causes daily extreme emotional issues and we know there is probably something better or more rewarding out there, some of us will choose to remain in that work relationship, so as not to have to come out of our comfort zone.   

Me…well I may not have so far achieved the success as some people have plus have experienced some major personal and financial setbacks along the way…however, I have done some not so structured career moves that continue to work out in my best interest.  While my strategies may not be the best for everyone…they do tend to work well for some of us.  Some of them do require some hard work and sacrifice while others do not.  Here are my 5 top methods to step back in order to step up your career. 

Method #1 – Go back to school

Going to school as a fresh high school graduate or going back to school as an adult with a family and/or full-time job and multiple responsibilities is by far the best method to get yourself ahead in the workplace and your financial life goals.  Yes, I know it is very difficult as I have just recently completed my Bachelor’s Degree at 44 years old.  This is after raising two biological children plus a stepchild, in addition to going through divorce and breast cancer, all in my late thirties to early forties.  A college degree is accessible to anyone…all you need is the desire and motivation to do so. 

Don’t think you have the time or money to go to college? 

I disagree as there are ways around all of this…all you need to do is ask and research your options.  If you have no idea of where to begin, please reach out to me at info@thedeeperpocket.com and we will work on a free plan for you and your circumstances.

Method #2 – Work harder than everyone else

Working harder than everyone else is a phrase that can send even the most laid back of us, self-motivated individuals into a depressive, rebellious and complacent state of thinking “why do I have to work so hard and receive no reward while all of the lazy, incompetent and manipulative people in society constantly receive rewards for negative and dishonest behavior”?

Trust me…I totally agree with you…as I am one of those extremely self-motivated and high-achiever “roll-up-your-sleeves” type of people.  However, even on my most high-strung days of saying that “I am done with it all and not going to put forth more effort than the ones getting undeserved promotions and bonuses” that will spike your blood pressure to the point of wanting to quit and destroy everything you have worked so hard for, I still continue to manage working harder than most around me. 

This mentality of working harder than everyone else WILL eventually get you to where you want to be in life.    

Method #3 – Accept a lateral or lower-level/less paying job in a much larger organization

Now we get to the true “stepping back in order to step of your career” truth.  Sometimes leaving a long-term position to move to a lateral or lower level position, whether at your current employer or a new employer, can reap many future benefits.  While it may seem at first that you are either damaging your career and/or finances by moving backwards a position or so, this type of move can actually project you forward more than you ever imagined.  I have made this seemingly irrational career move a few times so far with very advantageous and rewarding results. 

A move from a 13-year going-nowhere accounting job making better than average pay for someone with a two-year accounting degree to an $8/hour less paying job at a new company awarded me with several bumps up in pay and position.  Yes, I had to suffer financially for about 6 to 9 months while making the lower pay but the end result was a boost in experience and industry competence level.  Also, after about 4 years, moved back in position again to a lower-level position, which then moved me into my current, much higher paying and strategic management role.  Sometimes it just takes some extreme confidence, gut and strive to get where you have always wanted to be. 

Method #4 – Move to a higher-level job in a smaller company where you “wear many hats”

Now…moving on to my most current role as Plant Controller/CFO of my current employer…this job definitely did not come easy.  In all reality, I was quickly thrown head first into fast moving rapid waters that did not allow for any instruction, guidance or space to come up for air.  This was a “sink or swim” position that I jumped into without knowing the outcome of whether I had the power to make it or not.  However, despite all of my fear and anxiety, I am now almost to the shore of “I survived the almost impossible and am still treading water 2 years later”.

My move from always working in very large corporate, thousands of employees and many layers, organizations to a much smaller approximately 40 employee company with very few org chart extensions, happened by chance.  A recruiter on LinkedIn reached out to me to ask if I knew of anyone looking for an accounting position so I chose to apply.  I immediately acquired the position within a few days and have been there since.  My current role requires me to “wear many hats” that I had never worn before in large, highly segregated position organizations.  However, this “wearing of many hats” has helped me to create a new and highly desirable resume full of broad business acumen and experience that I would almost never have received at my previous large employers. 

The key outcome here is that everyone should work for a much smaller company where you are tasked with many different roles, such as in my case…finance, human resources, safety, insurance and legal processes.  You will most definitely gain a much broader range of experience that most will not while working in a large company.  Where will all of this lead me?  At this point…I am not sure…but am confident that any of my future career swimming endeavors will prove to be even easier to overcome than any I have ever faced before.      

Method #5 – Take on assignments that are out of your job description

The final last method of reaching your career goals is to volunteer for any assignment that may be way out of your current job description.  By doing this, you may not reap immediate results, recognition or promotion but you are most definitely increasing the amount of experience on you resume.  Like I am doing now…volunteering to take on the facilitation of a new company safety program when my education and experience truly only involve accounting…you should jump on new projects like your life depends on it.  Your career will truly thank you at some point.  Plus…what does it hurt to gain new skills in showing that you can handle any task or project thrown your way? 

Absolutely nothing…

Stressed Over Unplanned Medical Bills? Here Is A Plan.

In August of 2014, at 39 years old, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer.  Not only had I started a job at a new employer earlier that year making $8 less per hour than at my previous employer of 13 years (see my article called Stepping Back in Order to Step Up Your Career), but also was navigating the life of a newly single/divorced mom of two teenage boys.  In addition to the surprising medical news, I was also told by my new employer that our company had been sold and therefore might mean the loss of my job if I didn’t move into a completely new department and role. 

Did I have a plan for all of this? 

Absolutely not…and so I went into extreme “fight or flight” mode.  I had no idea where to even begin.  The shock and stress looming over me caused many thoughts of what I would do if I were to lose my job, need chemotherapy, or worse.  Would I need to go live with my parents at this age?  Would I go bankrupt?  The thoughts were enough to send anyone into a downward spiral of deep depression. 

Did I make it through successfully?

Yes…I did…and so can you.  If you are currently experiencing a situation similar to mine or worse and it seems your financial situation is moving towards rock bottom, please don’t panic.  There are ways to overcome this often-normal life dilemma and swim back to the shore of “I survived this”. 

Read on to discover the seven essential plans that I came up with to manage this unfortunate and abrupt disruption of my life’s financial fate.

Plan #1 – Reach out to your company’s HR department about your options with FMLA and paid-time off.

The first thing that you want to do when needing to be out of work for an unexpected medical illness, for yourself or a family member, is to determine what your rights are under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), what and if any short-term disability payments are available and how much paid time off you are eligible for.  Your company’s HR department should be able to assist you with all of this planning.  For employers with less than 50 employees, FMLA does not apply so you will need to ask or research the employee handbook/guidelines for how your specific employer deals with unpaid medical leave. 

In my particular case, I was able to apply for FMLA and short-term disability payments but still had to use paid time off for the first 8 days out of work.  If you or your loved one’s medical emergency cannot be planned, such as surgery after a heart attack, stroke, car accident, or other sudden “need to be rushed to the hospital ASAP” issues, ask a family member or friend to contact your company’s HR department for you to ask the above questions.  The paperwork can all be worked out within a few days or so.  

Plan #2 – Call your health insurance company to find out what medical costs are covered.

Once you start getting information on your physician’s plan for you or your family member’s medical treatment, make a call to your health insurance company to find out what all is covered and for how much.  Most often this will be a certain percentage such 70 or 80 percent after your plan’s deductible.  Sometimes the insurance company will cover 100 percent for certain procedures.  An example of this is when I was trying to determine if my breast surgeon’s advice of my having bilateral mastectomy was truly necessary.  Upon investigation, I found out that my insurance company paid almost 100 percent to perform the blood test that would show if I had the inherited gene that increases your chance of breast cancer by 80 percent.  This very fortunate and expensive test covered by my insurance helped me with making many more important medical decisions as I moved forward with treatment.

Plan #3 – Try not to worry about anything while in the hospital.

While I know that it is truly difficult to not worry about the outcome of your or your family member’s health or financial situation while in the hospital, I would advise to just let it all go while you are there.  A few days or so will not make that huge of a difference in getting the financial part figured out so just get rest and spend your time recouping enough to be released from the hospital.  Unfortunately, these days hospitals release patients almost too quickly so as to comply with health insurance guidelines.  After being put under general anesthesia and having a breast lumpectomy, along with two lymph nodes removed, I was released from the hospital within hours after surgery.  I was in no way shape or form able to remotely consider my financial state or any other matter at that time. 

Plan #4 – Let the medical bills pile up about a month after the procedure or surgery.

Medical bills can add up quickly.  Quite often, these bills are pouring into your mailbox while you are still recovering and/or receiving continuing medical treatment.  This can unfortunately cause a great deal of stress.  Since I was undergoing radiation treatment at the time my breast lumpectomy and other previous bills started piling up, I was just too tired to even open them.  I found out later that it takes about two months before a hospital starts sending you threats of a collection’s agency.  Therefore, I would advise to just not worry about them for about a month.  Nothing terrible will happen until you get closer to the two-month state of owing the debt.

Plan #5 – Sort all bills by medical supplier and scrutinize each one to ensure that you agree with all costs.

Once you have had about a month to recover a little, take a little time to sort through and organize all of your medical bills by supplier and month billed.  You will want to look at the most recent bill and then really study what is being charged, how much your insurance plan has covered and what is left over for you to pay.  Make sure that your insurance company has covered the correct percentage of the bill.  If they have not paid what you think they should have paid, then you will want to make a call to them to find out why it looks incorrect. 

Plan #6 – Contact each payor and ask for ways to apply for financial assistance or consolidation of bills.

Now that you have organized all medical bills by supplier, the best thing you can do before paying any of them is to give each one a call and ask if they have a financial assistance program and/or way to consolidate the bills.  Unfortunately, I did not realize this option even existed at first, but then, in desperation upon being sent to a collections agency because I couldn’t pay $12,000 within two months, I started asking for help.  The cancer center where I was going to for my radiation and oncology treatments was so helpful…all I had to do was ask. The financial counselor there was the one who facilitated getting 50% of my hospital bills reduced and then setting up a monthly payment plan that I could afford for the remaining balance.  She was also able to consolidate many bills (surgeon, hospital, pharmacy, etc.) into one.    

Plan #7 – Celebrate your recovery and the paying off of one bill at a time.

This is the best and most satisfying part of all…that is paying off the medical bills…one by one.  Yes, you have more than likely been drastically set back on you finance plan to success; however, life issues like unforeseen medical emergencies are almost 100 percent likely to happen.  If you are like me and didn’t already have a three to six-month savings plan in place for this type of issue, you can still overcome it.  Take one small bill at a time, pay it off, then move on to the next one.  And through it all, keep telling yourself that this is just a minor setback for a short period in your life.  You will and can survive with the right mindset and plans in place.

Leadership and How It Taught Me to Let Go

Leadership…what is it exactly?

Many say what a leader is not…not a dictating high-strung manager, not a person just sitting on a certain high step of the corporate ladder because they obtained a certain degree or figured out how to manipulate through the hierarchy of nonsense politics, and definitely not one who uses their status to control others from surpassing them along the way up, all because they are insecure of their own abilities.

There are numerous so-called leaders who steal others ideas and present them as their own.  Some will withhold important information so that no one else can become more experienced than them at a certain skill.  Others will sadly use dictatorship and controlling management styles to suppress those who report to them.  Unfortunately, this is the best way to gain disrespect, insubordination and high turnover.      

In my opinion as a two-year in officially paid leader, the true question is, what does leadership teach a leader?  It all truly comes down to one and only one essential lesson to learn in order to become a top-notch desired and successful leader.  Once you learn this very crucial yet hard-to-do skill for many of us, whether you are in a leadership or a non-leadership position, I believe you will find that people will actually start respecting, following after you and desiring your advice like you have always dreamed and aspired for.

What is this one great leadership skill…you ask? 

Ready?

It is to let go.

Really?

Yep…learn TO…LET…GO.

Seriously?  Let’s talk about this in some more detail to explain what I mean.

LET GO…of your power trip.

Leadership is not about power.  It is not about being more educated, experienced or knowledgeable than others.  Yes, you may have spent many more hours than them over the years, sacrificing your personal time to study for that degree or credentials.  You may have “paid your dues” learning to navigate the often harsh and ever-changing politics of the company and doing things you hated so as to please that certain manager who couldn’t care less about your success.

However, this does not make you more powerful than them.  I have learned that the more I develop a personal relationship with my employees, in other words don’t act like I am any different or better than them, the easier it is for us to work through any issues that may present themselves.  Develop an open-door policy (friendship) where you talk about personal and professional situations and how to learn from them.     

LET GO…of all the insecurities telling you that someone will take your job.

Ok…so hard truth…with or without your support…your employees may eventually gain the education, skills and knowledge to maneuver upwards through the often-complex organizational chart that you all are part of. But isn’t this what leadership is all about? Training, coaching and mentoring those who look up to you for advice and then watching them develop the confidence and skills to eventually soar without your constant assistance is what the best leader should hope to strive for. The now sparkles that I see in my employees’ eyes when they come up with an idea on their own or meet a goal that they set for themselves…now that makes all my efforts become worthwhile. Find their hidden talents and encourage them to develop. It is an amazing feeling of satisfaction.

LET GO…of your ability to know the best way to do everything.

Leadership does not mean that you know the best way to do everything.  Oftentimes that person who has been sitting in a certain position for years knows so much more than you can ever possibly know about the detail of the job.  I struggled for years with letting go of thinking my way is always the best, even while in non-leadership positions, but I have now realized that I do not know the best or most efficient way to do everything.  Give that person a certain duty or task, tell them to have their way at it and you will most often find that they end up coming to you for additional advice and suggestions.     

LET GO…of the perfection that you don’t think they have compared to yours.

To me, letting go of perfection was the most difficult one of all to deal with.  As a lifelong perfectionist and Type, A personality, I found that accepting what I perceived as imperfection on others part to be a true anxiety inducer at first.  Thoughts of how sloppy their work was would send me into a state of just doing it all myself.  Just doing it all myself ended up getting me nothing but extremely long work hours, in addition to employees who felt they were never good enough. 

Once I was thrown into a sink or swim leadership position, the only way for my survival was to let go of perfection.  As long as the way the other person was doing it wasn’t causing any major bottom line issues, then I actually realized that it was to my advantage to allow them to do it their way, even if it wasn’t the way that I would do it.  I learned that by letting go of the details that I could improve as a leader and also with my other goals of focusing on the bigger picture of the business.

Finally…

Want to be a leader?  Already a leader?  Whichever place you are at, letting go as a leader can be the most uplifting and rewarding thing you can ever do for yourself and others.  Allowing others to feel that their input, skills and ideas are valued can do nothing but good. 

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson