The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

hvac system

hvac systemAn HVAC system provides great comfort in a home and is seen as a worthy investment purchase. However, many people do not understand the importance of completing regular maintenance on the system. There are several reasons why you should maintain the upkeep of your HVAC unit.

System Life

Similar to a car, if you want your unit to take care of you, you must take care of it first. An HVAC system is not a cheap investment, so you should secure your investment by performing proper maintenance on it. If a unit is cared for correctly it can last for well over ten years. As such, it pays for itself over time.

Functionality and Efficiency

When a unit is not properly maintained the parts become dirty and it does not function properly. When compared to a clean unit, a dirty HVAC system must work 20% harder to produce the same amount of heating or cooling capacity. This inefficiency causes an increase in energy usage and diminishes the air quality that is provided, which can affect the health of you and your family.

Lower Bills

Simply stated, when an HVAC system is properly maintained it provides optimal energy efficiency and reduces the amount spent on electricity, heating and cooling. Such savings also add to the value of the unit. However, a unit that is not maintained can produce the opposite effects. As previously stated, there is a drastic difference between the amount of energy used by a well maintained unit and a poorly maintained one.

No or Low Repair Costs

Having your unit examined regularly and repaired when necessary can help to eliminate the possibility of major issues. Also, many of the important parts of the unit are under warranty, so there is a chance that you may have it replaced for free. You will still have to pay labor costs, however the savings on the part can be substantial. It is suggested that you store your warranty guarantee together with a list of the insured parts and their warranty expiration dates. Having this on hand should you need repairs can help you keep costs to a minimum.

To ensure the proper function of your unit so that you receive all of its benefits, it is critical that you maintain it. Having your system checked regularly and fixing any issues as soon as possible is key in sustaining your unit. Utilizing energy management systems such as SiteSage systems can also help you to troubleshoot issues before they develop into major problems. To learn more about your HVAC maintenance options, contact your local energy management provider.

An Education In Finance

investing with a small amount of money

investing with a small amount of moneyNobody teaches ‘money’ at school. It might be a good idea if they did. There are many businesses that exist to persuade people to part with their money. They range from banks and insurance companies to the whole of the retail sector, online and on Main Street. There is no suggestion that there is anything wrong with them but how people handle their financial affairs impacts greatly on their happiness.

There are some simple tips that will help everyone, no matter their age so that they have a good chance of avoiding trouble. Events such as the recent recession can ruin the best of plans, but those who had no plan at all were hit even harder than the majority. [Read more…]

End of April 2015 Update

bird nest

springtimeHappy Friday! I decided to not go too serious today and just give everyone a brief update on things going on around here. Spring has finally come to the East coast!! Our flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warm.

A lot has happened since my last update. In fact, I can’t believe I last wrote an update back in February. This year is flying by! Here are some of the highlights since then:

Personal Updates

Ireland

My wife and I went over to Ireland for a wedding a few weeks ago. The craziest part was that it was warmer there than it was back home! The best part though was the strong US Dollar. As of this writing, the exchange rate is roughly 1-for-1 USD to Euro. We were over there back in 2012 and this time it was so much cheaper!

From rental car to hotels and bed and breakfasts, I was blown away at how much cheaper things were. The only downside was the VAT. For those that don’t know, the VAT is a tax the EU charges and as a non-EU resident, we don’t have to pay it. But since it is built into the prices, once of three things happen: [Read more…]

Fast Food Workers Pay: How Much Is Enough?

Fast-Food-Workers-Strike1

fast food workers payI originally posted this back in 2013 when it became a hot topic around the country. Recently it is back in the news and so I wanted to update it and get your opinion on what is a solution to this issue.

Over the past few weeks, there has been plenty of news about fast food workers pay. Many workers across the country have marched in hopes of getting a pay raise to $15/hour. While everyone deserves to earn a living and get paid a fair wage, there are many factors at play when essentially doubling fast food workers pay. I will look at both sides of the issue, hoping to bring some clarity to this issue.

Background: Setting Up The Story

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average fast food workers pay is just under $9.00 per hour with annual earnings of roughly $12,350 per year, while working around 26 hours per week. The current movement is calling for pay increases to $15.00 per hour, better benefits, more hours and the right to unionize. (This is the third time since November 2012 that the union-backed group Fast Food Forward has organized marches.) A few points on this:

  • The reason hours are only 26 per week is because it allows the restaurants to avoid having to offer health care benefits to its workers. This is even more of an issue now with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.
  • If fast food workers pay was to increase to $15.00 per hour and they were working 30 hours per week, their annual earnings would be $23,400 or roughly $11,000 more than they are now.
  • An $11,000 pay increase along with more hours sounds like a great thing, so why not just increase fast food workers pay and add a few hours each week? The reason is because there are many consequences to doing this.

[Read more…]

Facebook Is Stealing Your Money

facebook is stealing your money

facebook is stealing your moneyFacebook is stealing your money. There I said it. The site where you go to check up on friends and family is one of the biggest reasons why you will never be financially independent. Heck, it’s the reason why you won’t even be financially comfortable. If you are a regular user on Facebook, the odds are stacked against you that you will be financially independent.

Some reading this might be taking offense. You’ll tell me that you are on Facebook all of the time and you are doing fine financially. But are you really? Do you have zero consumer debt? Do you follow a budget to keep spending in check? Do you have at least 6 months worth of living expenses in an emergency fund? Do you max out your retirement accounts each year? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you aren’t in of good financial shape as you think. [Read more…]

Las Vegas On A Budget

las vegas

las vegasI’ve never been to Las Vagas, but the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing match on Saturday has flamed my interest in going once again. I’d love to see a boxing match there, but with tickets close to ringside going for over $100K, this is not the fight that I will be attending. In any case, this post comes from Fiona Moriarty, who knows all things Vegas and taught me some stuff about the city. I hope you enjoy!

Las Vegas is one of the top vacation destinations in the U.S. because it’s a city with the goal that everyone should have fun. Visitors arrive from all over the world to see the shows, do some serious gaming and take advantage of the low prices. Even the luxury hotels in Las Vegas offer budget prices, so you can visit the city and enjoy world-class entertainment on a small vacation budget.

Affordable Hotels

Most of the budget hotels offer excellent in-room amenities and good facilities such as swimming pools, restaurants, bars and spa treatments. The room rates are low, and they have a nominal resort fee that gives access to the fitness center and discounts on cocktails and buffet meals. It also includes high-speed Internet access and in-room local telephone calls. All of the luxury hotels and many of the budget hotels offer free attractions such as a 75,000 gallon aquarium with a three story water slide that takes you right through the middle of the shark tank. [Read more…]

What Happens After Winning The Lottery?

moneyShould you somehow manage to beat the overwhelming odds and hit the jackpot in your state lottery, you will have some major challenges ahead of you. Rather than cashing in the ticket right away, it helps to first understand the implications of being a jackpot winner.

After the initial ecstasy wears off, take the time to learn what you need to do next in order to properly manage your finances and handle the public relations so you don’t end up broke in a few short years.

Sign The Ticket

As a safety precaution, sign the ticket. This way, you have proof that the ticket is yours should you somehow manage to lose your ticket or a backstabbing relative takes it from you without your knowledge. Anyone can claim an unsigned winning ticket, so put your signature on it right away to err on the side of caution. [Read more…]

Fun Facts About Money I Bet You Didn’t Know

fun facts about money

fun facts about moneyI love money. I love the smell of it. I love the feel of it as I roll around in it a la Scrooge McDuck. OK, I don’t roll around in it. But I really do enjoy it. I love learning about it too. When FXX was running The Simpsons marathon last summer, I knew I couldn’t miss the $10 trillion dollar bill episode. It is easily my favorite.

While the story is fictional, it made me think about what are some real facts about money that would be fun to learn about. After burning the midnight oil and reading through the National Archives, I have the following money facts that I know you will enjoy.

Fun Facts About Money

One bill weighs 1 gram and 454 bills equals one pound. This means if you have $1 million in singles, it would weigh over 1 ton! A suitcase of $1 million in $100 bills weighs over 20 pounds! [Read more…]

Statistical Facts: How The Lack of Accounting Systems Can Reduce Efficiency

efficiency

efficiencyIn 2013, more than one-quarter of professionals were using accounting systems that were more than a decade old. Almost half of those have been using the same system for a minimum of 15 years. Considering the number of advancements technology has made since those days, the small business accounting software of yesteryear may be contributing to a lack of efficiency in the workplace. I am basing everything in this post on data collected by various reputable sources in order to demonstrate the importance of accounting applications.

Manual Data Entry

Approximately 80 percent of finance executives feel that their companies are hindered by low-level manual tasks. This means that not enough automation is available to complete workloads which reduces the effectiveness of employees. Through the automated processes that are available through small business accounting software, employees could spend time working on other projects instead of data entry. This includes everything from recording bank records to processing payments from clients.

Online payment methods are available through most accounting applications streamlining how the businesses accept funds. Since millions of people access the Internet regularly, the payment methods are convenient and allow individuals to pay immediately. Automatic reminders can be connected to those accounts informing a client that a bill has not been paid further reducing the workload of financial employees.

Metric Analysis

Almost half of surveyed Chief Financial Officers believe they do not have the available reports in order to make informed decisions. Decisions such as product pricing, availability, expense justification and more can influence how a business functions. Without clarity and easy to comprehend metrics, a small business could continue to spend money on frivolous costs that have no impact on future success. Proper small business accounting software can deliver that information making it easier to approach expenses with knowledge rather than speculation.

Without detailed information regarding business finances, decisions could be based on inaccurate assumptions. It could be incredibly easy for a small business to believe a specific marketing strategy is working when in fact it is not. Analytical information helps these small businesses find expenses that are not conducive to sustainable practices. Even the smallest of changes in spending each month could have a profound impact on the budget of the organization. I have witnessed how changing credit card processing platforms saved a small business money each month, which was then redirected into local marketing to help boost sales.

Excessive Spreadsheet Usage

More than 60 percent of surveyed CFOs are using more than 25 spreadsheets for financial data and information. These are set up in an intricate web of inter-document calculations and links. While this method may work for keeping track of data, it can come with many complications and failures such as:

  • Keeping files organized and together
  • Causing problems by in all forms by accidentally deleting one
  • Taking more time to analyze available data
  • The need to understand formulations in spreadsheet software
  • Making it more difficult to share without sending all files to an individual
  • Making it easier to lose certain metrics needed for developing strategies
  • Relying more on manual data entry

An automated, single-interfaced solution wouldn’t have any of the above complications. The process is more streamlined and able to adapt without extensive programming, saving or elaborate field entries as seen in spreadsheets. All of those files can be condensed into one easy to use application.

Invoicing Capabilities

Without automated small business accounting software, such as the ones from Sage.com, invoicing can take considerably longer. The fifth biggest challenge for businesses without accounting applications is the excessive time that is wasted developing invoices for clients. With the right software, these can be done in less than a few minutes and immediately available online. This means that employees are spending more time preparing an invoice instead of turning attention to more important tasks.

Proven Efficiency

Of businesses that utilize Cloud-based accounting applications, 92 percent of them are completely satisfied with the results. This is an astonishing number demonstrating how the vast majority find quality in the use of online small business accounting software. Through my personal experiences, I would have to agree to the efficiency of these apps especially when it comes to filing yearly tax reports. Instead of certain small businesses taking weeks to prepare forms, it can all be done in less than an hour as the information is already stored in the small business accounting software ready to be used.