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Five steps to creating a successful monthly budget

What is a monthly budget?

A monthly budget is a tool that helps you manage your money. It allows you determine how much money you are earning, spending and saving. Devising a budget can help you balance your income with your regular expenses and guide your spending habits to help you attain your monetary objectives.

Creating a budget can initially be overwhelming and a difficult feat, yet as you read through the following five steps, you’ll see that it’s feasible and definitely worth the effort.

What are the steps to creating a monthly budget?

Overall, the steps for creating a monthly budget are as follows: 1. Track your spending to determine where your money is going, 2. Divide your expenses into various categories, 3. Record your daily expenses, 4. Assess where you can cut your expenses and 5. Define your financial goals, make a plan and stick to it.

1. Track your spending to determine where your money is going. For a month or two jot down every single cent you spend, yes even that $3.75 caffe latte you sip at your daughter’s ballet practice and the chow mein meal you devour after dancing the night away with your girlfriends.  

At the end of the month add the total expenditures and subtract this total from your net earnings to see whether or not you’ve spent more than you’ve earned. This calculator will show you how seemingly inconsequential purchases can add up over time.  For instance, if you spend $2.50 on a daily coffee, it will cost you more than $900 per year.   On the flip side, if you make small changes to your spending habits, such as reduce the amount of coffee you buy, this minor change can have a positive effect on your budget and your ability to save.

2. Examine what you spend money on during the 1 to 2 month period and divide your expenses into various categories. You could divide your expenses into broad categories such as housing, car, food, and then set up sub-categories within them. For instance, under the category housing, you could further divide it into mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and repairs.

3. Consistently keep a tab of your daily expenses. Write down all your purchases on a Post-it Note and keep it conveniently in your wallet. Then when you get home, transfer your purchases to an excel spreadsheet or a budget app. Here is an excellent budget calculator worth checking out.

4. Assess where you can cut your expenses. This is where the real fun begins. It’s now time to examine each category (see step 2) and determine where you can trim your expenses. You may be surprised by the seemingly minor purchases that are eating away at your credit card, such as the extra $50 you rack up at the grocery store simply because you are purchasing food when you are hungry or not adhering to a grocery list.  Carefully review your spending habits and devise a list of items to par.

The accompanying activity might help you figure out which spending to cut from your budget. Divide your expenses into two classes: “needs” (e.g., groceries and utilities) and “wants” (e.g., tickets to a show). Assess your needs and wants. A need is something that is important, required or fundamental. For instance, a roof over your head, heat for your home, nourishment, clothing or medicine. On the contrary, a want is something that you’d like, however, don’t really require. Dinners at restaurants, coffee from Second Cup, tickets to a concert, a gym membership or designer clothes and shoes are examples of wants. Needs and wants aren’t the same for everybody. One individual’s want might be someone else’s need. Let me explain. If for instance, you live in a metropolitan area near a bus route, a car may be more of a want rather than a need. On the other hand, if you live in the suburbs, and don’t easily have access to public transportation or can’t walk or cycle to work, a car may be a need.

Some suggestions on how to cut your expenses include: borrowing books from your local library instead of buying them on Amazon; borrowing movies from the library instead of going to the movie theatre; running or walking outside instead of purchasing a gym membership;  getting rid of one car and relying on public transportation; using the washer and dryer during off-peak hours; and shopping at discount food stores or using the app Flipp, which could help you price match and save on weekly food essentials. These changes no matter how small may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

5. Define your financial goals, make a plan and stick to it. Creating a budget won’t magically transform your spending behaviour.  You will need to consistently monitor your spending and define your goals and priorities and stick to them. Monitoring your spending could be done by consistently writing down your weekly budget and reviewing it to see if you are spending less than you earn.  Whereas defining your goals involves sitting down and reflecting on where you want to be financially in a year, three years or five years from now. One important goal you should consider is to increase the amount of money you deposit into your savings account each year.  Yet, this goal should be a priority only after you have paid off your debts because it won’t make sense to put money away while you are paying interest on your debts. Other goals that are worth attaining include setting up an emergency fund, paying off your mortgage in x amount of years or saving money for your children’s post-secondary school education. 

What are some tips that could help you to adhere to your budget?

  1. Minimize your spending behaviour as much as possible to what is in your budget. try to stick to buying products and services that are needs rather than wants.
  2. Record your receipts and bills in your budget app or excel spreadsheet.
  3. List your income and expenses and compare the two at the end of the month to see if you are spending more than you earn.
  4. Evaluate your monthly budget to see if you are your spending greatly differs from your budget. If this is the case, you may need to reevaluate the figures to make it more sensible and realistic.
  5. When contrasting your budget with your actual spending, ask yourself the following:
    1. Are there huge or little differences between your actual spending and budget?
    2. Which categories have the biggest differences?
    3. Are differences due to an atypical circumstance (e.g., repairing the washer) or is this prone to happen every month?
    4. Are you able to save enough money to achieve your financial objectives or pay off your debts?
    5. Continue to reflect on your spending behaviour and to ask yourself these above questions every month.
    6. You are going in the right direction if your spending differs a bit from your budget.

Are you looking for more info on how to make smarter financial choices?

A great resource to check out is MyMoneyCoach.ca.

MyMoneyCoach.ca is a free public service provided by the Credit Counselling Society (CCS). The Credit Counselling Society is a non-profit, government registered, charitable organization dedicated to helping individuals and families find solutions to their debt and money problems. CCS provides consumers with confidential and free counselling services, credit education, and debt management programs.

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/make-budget.html


About S & P Accounting Services

S & P Accounting Services is a professional accounting firm situated in North York, Ontario. We are chartered accountants with extensive experience with audit, review, tax and bookkeeping. We strive to operate in accordance with our principles of quality, professionalism, and integrity and are dedicated to excellent service.  We aim to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality of financial, tax and accounting services and advice. We happily serve clients in Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and in other cities in the GTA.

If you have any questions or inquiries about our accounting services, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer: We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

Why small business owners should have a business bank account

Are you still using your personal checking account to manage your business finances? Regardless of whether you own a home-based business or are building a multi-million dollar enterprise, there are several benefits to differentiating between your personal and business finances. In this article, we will discuss the following: The numerous reasons you should have a business bank account and how to open up a business bank account.

The reasons you should have a business account

Having a business account will ensure that you keep your business funds separate from your personal funds.

Here are some of the worthwhile reasons:

1. Having a business bank account gives your new business credibility and professionalism. This is particularly important if you have customers that pay with cheques. It definitely looks more professional when you ask your clients to write a cheque to  “XYZ Enterprise” as opposed to  “Bob Smith.” It also looks more business-like and credible when you use separate business cheques and a separate business credit card to pay suppliers and other companies for their services.

2. Having a business bank account is advantageous for tax purposes. Maintaining a separate business bank account will help you keep track of all your business-related transactions and will make it easier to pay your taxes when tax season rolls around. It will also provide you with a clear trail of your business revenue and expenses in case the CRA decides to audit you.

3. Although having a separate business bank account is advisable for businesses that are sole proprietorships or partnerships, it is especially recommended for corporations (more about these business structures later in this article).  A corporation refers to a business that is a separate and distinct entity from its owners and as such the personal assets of the owners are sheltered from potential liability.  However,  sometimes courts will hold the corporation’s owners, members, and shareholders personally liable for business debts. When this occurs, it’s called “piercing the corporate veil.” For instance, if the corporation has been utilized as an instrument of fraud and improper conduct, or was incorporated for no valid business purposes, then the court may deem the shareholders personally liable. One of the criteria which may be used to decide whether the court should “pierce the corporate veil” is the degree of separation between the financial activities of the business and those of the owners of the business. As such, it is vital that an incorporated company have a separate business bank account.

4. The most obvious reason to have a business bank account is that you will be able to keep track of your cash flow and to see if your business is profiting.  A business checking account ensures that all your business transactions are separate from your personal financial transactions. This helps you monitor your business’s profitability.  If you were to combine your personal financial transactions with your business financial transactions into one account, you might have a difficulty determining your profit margin because to determine your profitability, you must remember which expenses were personal and omit them.

How to open up a business bank account

There are three main steps to opening a business bank account: 1. choose a business structure, 2. decide on who will be the primary business representatives and 3. provide the bank with several critical documents.

1. Choose a business structure

Prior to setting up a business account, it is imperative to decide which type of business structure you will be running. Is it a sole proprietorship? partnership? or corporation?

In a nutshell, here are the differences between the three business structures:

  1. A sole-proprietorship refers to a business in which you are the sole owner and fully responsible for all debts and responsibilities related to your business. One of the advantages of this business structure is that all profits go directly to you. However, one of the disadvantages is that you are subject to unlimited liability which means that a creditor can make claims against your personal assets to pay off your business debts.
  2. A partnership refers to a business in which you and another individual or multiple individuals have a legal relationship to operate a business as co-owners. In a partnership, you and your business partner(s) combine your financial resources into the business. You and your partner(s) share the management, profits, and assets of the business as outlined by the legal agreement you have formulated. One of the benefits of this business structure is that there is a tax advantage. For instance, if income from the partnership is low or loses money, you and your partner(s) include your shares of the partnership in your individual tax returns. One of the disadvantages is that there is no legal difference between you and your business so similar to owning a sole-proprietorship,  you have unlimited liability.
  3. A corporation refers to a business entity that is separate from its owners. The majority of corporations have shareholders, and the shares are held only by a few individuals, or they may be available for sale to the public (publicly held). One advantage of this business structure is that as a shareholder of a corporation, you will not be personally liable for the debts, obligations or acts of the corporation.  One of the disadvantages of owning a corporation is that it is more expensive and time-consuming to set up than other business forms. We advise that you seek legal advice if you plan on incorporating.

If you’d like to read some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a sole-praetorship, partnership, and corporation, check out this article from Canada Business Network.

2.  Decide who will be your primary business representatives

Next, after you decide on a business structure, determine who will be the primary representative for your business. In other words, who will have the authority to sign on contracts, cheques as well as perform certain functions such as withdrawals, transfers, and payments on behalf of the company?

3.   Provide the bank with several critical documents

Typically, banks require that all owners and signing officers provide two pieces of approved personal identification.

Also, depending on your business’ legal structure, you will be required to provide additional documents to the business bank specialist. For instance, for each of the following business structures, you will need to provide the following documents:

Sole Proprietorship

– Certificate of Registration of Business Name

Partnership

– Certificate of Registration of Partnership. Partnership Agreement (if available)

Corporation

– Articles of Incorporation. Certificate of Registration of Business Name (if available).

-Most current filing with your incorporating jurisdiction listing your directors

-Trade Name Registration (if applicable)

An important note:  Please contact the bank that will be managing your business bank account to determine if you require additional documentation and what their exact procedures are for opening a business account.


If you require additional consultation or want to learn more about our professional accounting services, please do not hesitate to contact S & P Accounting Services.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer: We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

A Chartered Accountant shares important news about tax evasion scams

Important news from a Chartered Accountant: “Canadians be wary of tax evasion scams”

The O.P.P. and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are warning Canadians of fraudulent tax evasion emails and phone calls. Some residents of Tiny Township, Tay Township, and Penetanguishene have been victims of these emails and phone scams purporting to be from the CRA.

A young 18-year-old Chilliwack woman, Sasha Tuttle,  has also fallen prey to the CRA scam and lost $2,000 of her savings. Another Chilliwack resident, 86 year old, Norman Schott received the same phone call as Tuttle. The person on the other end of the phone claimed to be the CRA and told the senior that he has a warrant out for his arrest for tax evasion. Schott knew “something fishy going on” and immediately reported the incident to the police.

Ways to protect yourself against tax evasion scams

As a Chartered Accountant, these are some important precautions I share with my clients:

  1. If someone calls you saying that they are from the CRA and asks you for personal or financial information, really question the caller and ask yourself is the requester asking for information I would not provide in my tax return? (such as my passport number, health card, or driver’s licence) Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me? (such as my social insurance number).
  2. When in doubt, hang up and call the CRA through the official phone number to verify if you owe back taxes or are eligible for a refund. You could also check your online CRA Account to make sure that there is no problem with your tax account. Here are some examples of fraudulent scam stories.
  3. The CRA will never ask you for credit card information or for prepayments by prepaid credit cards or your personal information by email or text message. So if you receive mail, an email or a text message requesting personal information, know that these are fraudulent and never respond to them.  
  4. The CRA will never email a link to you and ask you to divulge personal or financial information. However, the one exception is if you call the CRA to request a form or a link for specific information. In this case, a CRA agent will forward the information you are requesting to your email during the telephone call. This is the only circumstance in which the CRA will send an email containing links.
  5. If you are a responsible citizen that pays your taxes on time and correctly, then it would not make sense for the CRA to claim that you committed a tax evasion. If in fact there are tax evasion allegations against you, then CRA will do so formally in writing.  And even in this case call the CRA through the official phone number to verify if you owe back taxes. You should also check your online CRA Account to check the status of your tax account.
  6. CRA will never use coercive or nasty language to threaten you. Cases of fraudulent communication could include using intimidation or coercive language to frighten taxpayers into paying a fictitious debt to the CRA.  The scammers may threaten to arrest you if don’t pay your fine. Yet, in reality, the CRA will never threaten to arrest you.
  7. Fraudulent communication could play out more subtly as well. The scammers could insist that personal information is needed to process a refund or benefit payment. Yet, in reality, the CRA will never request money or demand credit card information over the phone.
  8. The CRA never shares your taxpayer information with another person, unless you have given the appropriate authorization.
  9. The CRA never leaves personal information on your answering machine or requests you to leave a message containing your personal information on an answering machine.
  10. If you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud or have received deceptive telemarketing, you should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit CRA fraud website. Follow these steps if you’ve been defrauded.

If you are unsure if the phone call, email or text message is legitimate or a fraudulent message, ask your Chartered Accountant. Your Chartered Accountant should know how the CRA communicates with taxpayers and your chartered accountant should be able to distinguish between fraudulent communication and legitimate communication from the CRA.

If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquires, please do not hesitate to contact us. We serve clients in Toronto, North York, Vaughan, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, and all other GTA cities.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371- 6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Five income tax tips for small business tax preparation

Five key tips for reporting your income tax

Are you a small business owner? Congratulations! It takes a lot of passion and dedication to get to where you are. There are many standard challenges that businesses face today. These hurdles include hiring the right people, getting and attaining customers, work fatigue, increasing cash flow and profitability, etc.

One challenge that I will cover in this article is managing your business finances. As an accountant, I notice that individuals are sometimes hesitant to start a business because of fear that they won’t know how to properly prepare and file their taxes. Below I complied five key small business tax preparation tips that will hopefully give you the knowledge and confidence to run your business more smoothly and help you know that you’ve covered some essential tax preparation basics.

1.Report your income from any business you or your partner run

As a small business owner, you are obligated to report income from any business you run yourself or with a partner. Business income is defined as money you earn from a:

  • Profession
  • Trade
  • Manufacture or
  • an undertaking of any sort, an adventure or interest in the nature of trade, or any other enterprise you engage in for profit and there is proof to support that intention.

Please note that if you have a service business such as a restaurant, income from a service business is considered business income. However, business income does not include employment income, such as wages or salaries received from an employer.

2. Neglecting to report income may result in a penalty

Here is another important small business tax preparation tip. To calculate income for tax purposes, you must document and report all amounts of income. If you neglect to report all your income, you may be fined a penalty of 10% of the amount of income that you did not report.

3. It is crucial to keep your records detailed and complete

If you are a small business owner or are engaged in a commercial activity, it is crucial that your records are detailed enough and complete in order to calculate the tax you owe and to support any deduction or credit you are claiming. They also must be supported by original documents.

4. It is your responsibility to keep your supporting documents for six years

You must keep the supporting documents for six years after the end of the tax year to which they relate. Even if you are filing your return online or don’t have to affix specific supporting documents to your return, you must still keep the documents in case CRA reviews your return or audits your business. CRA may ask you to confirm your claims for deductions or credits with documents other than official receipts, like canceled cheques or bank statements.

5. Paying your income tax by installments

Here is a final small business tax preparation tip.  If you get income that has no tax withheld, or does not have enough tax withheld for more than one year, you may have to pay tax by installments. Some cases where this may occur are if you have rental, investment, or self-employment income, certain pension payments, or income from more than one job.

If you have any small business tax preparation questions or any other accounting related inquiries, we would be happy to assist you.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371- 6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

 

Disclaimer:
We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.