Accounts payable audit may save a fortune

Accounts can be a complicated business, which in terms of the bottom line means they can be an expensive business. There aren’t many companies that don’t have some kind of discrepancy in their books at the end of the year. That can have various consequences, some of them serious. On the one hand, it might just mean the numbers don’t quite add up, little more than a frustration to a bean counter somewhere. On the other, it could spell a substantial loss of funds for your organisation, or a problem with the taxman. An accounts payable audit can help you iron out many of the kinks in your accounts, enabling you to locate problems such as duplicate payments and other forms of overpayment. This is all possible using specialist recovery audit software, which trawls your accounts and finds sources of mistakes. The results can be surprising, particularly for larger organisations, and can represent a significant saving. In fact, the software could easily pay for itself the first time you use it.

Audit software is versatile enough to check for not only problems that occur due to negligence or accident – simple human error – but also more malicious cases, such as fraud, when a client deliberately overcharges you or keeps money that you have paid by mistake. (In fact, the Inland Revenue uses this kind of software to check returns, using the information to identify possible cases of fraud.) That’s important, because if your client list is long or complicated, there may well be opportunities to exploit that, costing you even more money. Running the software will flag up suspicious entries, enabling you to recover funds that you never should have paid in the first place. That’s got to be a good thing in tough times, when every little extra could mean the difference between balancing the books and wondering about ‘efficiencies’ – usually meaning layoffs – or even worse.

If you’re in need of convincing, start with the (not unreasonable) assumption that errors could account for 1 percent of turnover, perhaps more. What does that equal in cash terms, and is it worth pursuing – apart from any wider concerns such as tax returns and catching fraudsters? For most companies, the answer will be an emphatic ‘yes’ – recovery audit software is inherently worthwhile. Duplicate payments and other overpayments can be hugely and unnecessarily expensive, so an accounts payable audit is often highly illuminating.

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Social work jobs need not be excessively stressful if you know how to relax at the end of each day

social work jobs present many challenges to the committed professionals who are employed in them.  Those in social services jobs will typically encounter several people each week who are undergoing extremely stressful or upsetting situations, and the social worker will need to provide an emotional crutch, supporting the service user in every way possible.  This can be very fulfilling but it also means that anybody in social worker jobs needs to be aware that their work can place a strain on their own emotional wellbeing.  Having a few fail-safe ways of relaxing and regrouping after a stressful day or week at work can make a great deal of difference not only to you but to the people you are helping on a daily basis.

Perhaps the most important way to unwind if your job is emotionally straining is to have somebody to confide in.  Obviously confidentiality is an important consideration in social work jobs, so you may find it useful to have a friend or family member to whom you can talk in fairly general terms about what may be affecting you at work.  It is often the case that you do not need advice or specific guidance, but just somebody who will listen to your issues and understand why you feel stressed.  If your employer is doing his or her job properly, you should have a supervisor who you can speak to about all of your cases, and this is often a good way of helping you avoid feeling that you are holding the burden of everybody’s problems on your shoulders – nobody’s shoulders are strong enough for this.  They will generally be able to offer you professional advice as well, so if you are unsure about what to do about any aspect of your case you can turn to somebody above you.

It is often the case that physical activity can be very helpful in relieving mental stress.  After a tough day you may feel like all you want to do is sit in front of the television with a glass of wine, but this is often only a very short term solution to anxiety.  If you really want to boost your mental state, physical exercise is often the best thing to do.  Going for a run will release the endorphins that genuinely make you feel happier, and give you an energy boost that is always useful in social worker jobs.  If you are not a particularly sporty type, other forms of exercise may be more suitable. With its focus on mental and spiritual well-being, many people find that yoga is a highly effective way of dealing with stress.

Most jobs cause some stress and anxiety from time to time, but it is important for those in social work jobs to be aware that they might be more at risk of this than many other professionals.  Social services jobs demand a lot of us mentally, and we need to know how to unwind.  With the right strategies to stay in control of our body and mind, social worker jobs should provide an enjoyable and satisfying career.

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Phono stage means records sound like they used to

Most people are either LP lovers or not – you’re either sold on an old technology that was never bettered, or you’re not interested in vinyl. The difficulties start to come when you combine old with new. LPs were intended to be used with the record players and amps of their day. That means that they don’t work as they’re supposed to when you hook them up to modern stereo systems. The stereo you have that plays CDs perfectly happily might have other inputs that fit your turntable and can be plugged in, but the sound isn’t right. That’s because you’re missing a crucial bridge between old and new technologies: the phono stage, otherwise known as a phono preamp or phono amp.

Unfortunately, enjoying your old LP collection on current top-of-the-range stereo equipment isn’t as easy as it might be. The output from a record turntable is very different to the kind of output you get from a CD or MP3 player. The signal is much lower, which in practice means that you have to turn the volume right up before you can hear the music properly. But that means that all the additional noise – the interference, crackles and hiss – is also amplified. The subsequent playback quality is poor as a result. What you need is a unit that plugs in between the turntable and the stereo amplifier that converts the signal from the LP into something that the stereo can usefully send to the speakers.

That’s the point of the phono stage. It’s a gadget that interprets the signal coming out of the turntable and pre-prepares it for your stereo amplifier. A phono preamp can make all the difference to playback quality. Some modern stereos have the right circuit inside already, but not many, because there is little demand for them (few people listen to LPs any more). You’ll be able to check by looking on the back of your stereo and seeing whether there’s a turntable jack – if not, then you’ll almost certainly need the phono amp before you can listen to records properly. These components are available on the internet, but it’s worth doing a little research around them first. The overall sound quality is only going to be as good as the weakest link in the chain, so if you’re hoping to play your much-loved record collection on an expensive stereo set, it doesn’t make sense to economise on the phono stage.

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Cash Genie: tips for saving money

Cash Genie is committed to responsible lending practices, and it’s a business principle that customers should not have to come back and use the short-term loan services repeatedly. Apart from anything else, it’s not good commercial sense, because encouraging unwise financial practices means that clients are more likely to default on their debts! So a part of the service is helping customers to organise their money in such a way that they won’t need to go for such loans in the future.

The best way to do this is to examine your spending: all of it. It sounds like a big deal, but it can make a great difference. Break it down if it seems scary. First, check all of your major outgoings: rent or mortgage, bills, utilities, phone, internet, interest on loans, council tax and so on. It may be that you can save money already by moving providers for one of these. In the case of a mortgage, that could save you hundreds of pounds or more a year. Others might mean you have an extra ten or twenty quid at the end of the month – still worthwhile.

But the most surprising examples are likely to come from the expenses you barely notice. These are the little, cumulative expenditures you build up over the week. When you look at them over the course of the month and year, they can make a huge difference. Picking up a coffee on the way to work every morning? That’s only £2 or so, right? But that’s £10 a week, £40 a month or getting on for £500 a year. That could represent an instalment on your mortgage or a month’s rent. Similarly, buying a sandwich and drink every day instead of making the same at home? Easy another £1,000 a year. The same goes for the odd night out: it’s very easy to lose track.

Cash Genie recommends keeping an eye on these ‘trivial’ expenses. It doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself totally – no one’s saying that you shouldn’t enjoy the odd treat or lunch out. What’s important is that you see what these are actually costing you. Once you know that, you can decide whether the convenience or treat is really worth it, if the end result is staying in debt (and therefore having to pay more through interest) in the end. In addition, if you’ve got debts you need to pay off, this can be a great motivator. If a couple of coffees a week fewer means peace of mind in the long term, then it’s no contest.

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