Daylight Savings Blog

The Surprising Impact Daylight Savings Time (DST) Has On Business

“Spring forward, fall back” – The old adage that is supposed to help you work out which direction to turn your clocks when daylight savings starts and ends. Most of us are excited when we get to put the clocks forward as it means summer is coming! Woohoo! Longer sunlight hours, BBQs with friends and family, walks on the beach with the dog, cricket season, tending to the vege patch while it is still light out, and of course, getting some much-needed vitamin D that the Wellington winter has robbed you of.

What you might not know is that flicking the clock forward raises a number of things to be aware of with regards to your business. We thought it would be a great time to go over the impact daylight savings could have on your bottom line.

Economic Impacts

THE GOOD NEWS: One of the popular arguments promoted by business groups is that DST helps stimulate consumer spending. There are mixed reviews about this ‘fact’ and as far as we are aware, no substantial research around Kiwi spending habits during daylight savings time has been done in New Zealand. A new study out from JPMorgan Chase Institute in the US did find that the switch to DST time is associated with an increase in spending between 2.2% and 4.9%, depending on where you live. So that could be good news for NZ business as it would indicate that people are getting out and about and supporting local shops, bars and, restaurants as they enjoy the longer daylight hours.

Productivity Impacts

THE BAD NEWS: It is well documented that shifting those clocks forward causes sleep disturbances. This is going to be exacerbated for your employees with young children who will likely have trouble going to sleep and/or waking up at the new time. This ultimately results in productivity losses – which no business wants!

David Wagner and Christopher Barnes, professors of management at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington, found “workers tend to ‘cyber loaf,’” and use computers for non-work purposes. Another US study estimated a national productivity loss of nearly $434 million – just from fiddling with the clocks! Wagner and Barnes say we don’t regain lost productivity in the fall when time shifts back either, as it takes up to 3 weeks for someone to hit a normal rhythm.

Health Impacts

THE UGLY NEWS: Unfortunately it is a well-documented fact that Daylight Saving time brings a rise in the number of heart attacks. Yes, a 5% – 10% increase according to Swedish and US researchers.

An article published on the Business Insider site explains:

“The impacts of DST are likely related to our body’s internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules…. The problems with DST are the worst in the spring when we’ve all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our natural clocks using the light. When out of nowhere (at least to our bodies) these cues change, it causes major confusion. Like anytime you lose sleep, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness”.

On a sunnier note (sunny – ha – see what I did there. Pun intended!), the number of car accidents during DST goes down and the U.S. Department of Transportation has said that daylight saving time has a lowering effect on crime rates because many crimes tend to occur in the dark.

So if DST doesn’t actually save energy, or improve productivity, why do we have it? We are interested to hear your thoughts. How do you find daylight savings affects you/ your business?

If you have noticed major peaks and troughs throughout your financial year we are available to take a gander at your numbers and come up with financial solutions to both mitigate the negative effects of DST and capitalise on the positive ones.

Five bad money habits

The 5 Money Habits That Are Financially Derailing Your Small Business

As accountants, we want to see our clients succeed with their businesses. Liquidating hopes and dreams is not fun for anyone involved! Although there is a lot WE can do to help get you on the right track, there are some critical money mistakes that are often made in business that YOU want to try and avoid to ensure upwards growth and business success.

Listed below are our top five ‘no-no’s when it comes to money habits in small businesses.

Not Saving Money

Aye caramba! Not saving money is probably the worst mistake you can make in business. You need both operating capital and a separate savings account/ accounts for things such as: putting aside money for taxes throughout the year and having funds at the ready for when a great investment opportunity pops up. When you don’t have a dedicated savings plan in your business, you run the risk of digging too far into your operational accounts and being caught short when it comes to paying bills, staff, and even yourself! It can be one of the quickest ways to run your business into the ground.

Low Returns on Large Investments

Another common mistake and a bit of an all-round money-wasting black hole is continually spending money on things that don’t make (as much) money in return. This is especially important in small businesses that are not yet established. Bigger companies have the funds to take risks like running a new, edgy marketing campaign. It could be a huge flop and a waste of $200k, but hey – they have the capital behind them to shake it off and move forward. While we understand the importance of taking a leap of faith in business, it needs to be calculated. Start small, record your stats and build up a clear picture of what is working and what isn’t. From there you can develop a business plan to accommodate. Return on investment tracking is easy, not to mention incredibly smart, business. Yes, Facebook advertising might be all the rage, but are you getting more back than you put in? You might be surprised when you discover what your best business generators actually are. Once you find out, you can put a little more money and effort into that area and reap the rewards as your business kicks up a notch.

In a similar vein – try not to get caught in the ‘instant money’ trap. This is where you take a quick sale with no potential for repeat business in the future, rather than taking the time to build a sales pipeline that will help give you ongoing business. This will look different for every business type (services and products), but the concept is the same. Too much instant gratification could leave you with no future income.

Getting Too Creative With Your Bill Payments

‘To be paid by the 20th of the following month’ catches a lot of businesses out. It is important to establish robust payment schedules to ensure you are on top of your business debt. Knowing exactly how much you owe and have owed to you can get mighty confusing! You always want to know how much you actually have in your accounts after everything has been paid and accounted for each month. Make it a point to pay in the current month, so you don’t catch yourself out.

As an added bonus – Did you know that if another company decides to check your credit rating, your credit rating goes down! The whole thing works on a risk matrix system, so if you haven’t been paying your bills on time and someone decides to check up on you, the algorithm sees that as a little mark against your name. Yikes!

Money Tunnel Vision

An example of money tunnel vision in business might be: You have always wanted to make a business that sells homemade baby clothes. One day your dream is realised, and you open the doors to ‘Baby Made’. Things are going along quite steadily; you have a loyal customer base, and sales have been going so well, you’ve been able to turn the business into your full-time job! Talking to customers, you’ve started to notice that people are enquiring a lot about buying toddler sizes. Ha. Funny. You don’t currently stock/ make them because you are ‘Baby Made’, a store that is focused on baby clothes…. WAIT A SECOND. It is so important to diversify in business! Listen to your customers – is there a trend appearing? If they like you, they buy from you, and they are suggesting something else they want to buy from you – you pretty much can’t go wrong! If you don’t listen, guess what? They are going to go someplace else that can cater to their needs and you could lose them altogether!

Did you know that it is reported that millionaires have at least seven income streams! SEVEN! It sounds crazy, but it is very smart business. It is always good to have other options to fall back on, and/ or to help build up another area you are working on. You could achieve this by diversifying something you already offer, like the example above, or by having another income stream in an entirely different arena (stocks, bonds, private music tuition, yoga instruction – the list goes on).

Not Recording ALL Your Expenses And Transactions

Those $4 coffees, and business related parking costs you forget to record, really add up! Over an entire year, you could be missing out on hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. We want to know all your expenses so we can get the best out of your finances through tax deductions. The best way to track your expenses is with an EFTPOS/ credit card linked to your business account. If you happen to use cash, or a non-business card, remember to add it to your expense tracking and keep the receipt so we can process that transaction for you. Also, talk to us! We can help you work out all sorts of things that you might not be recording in your business, that you are eligible to be claiming tax back on.

If you have been cringing while you read through some of these, don’t worry. We are done with our scary list of small business money no-nos for now! Take some comfort in knowing that we all make one or two of these mistakes when we are finding our feet in business. Hopefully, something you have read here might help you with your small/ medium sized business money habits moving forward.

Remember, we are financial growth and good money habit experts, and we are here to assist you with advice and support if you need us!

Money hacks for Students

Seriously Smart Money Saving Hacks for Students

You’ve all heard the expression ‘Champagne taste on a beer budget’, but as a student, you are probably thinking: ‘Beer! More like a ‘bring your own tea bag and get free hot water’ budget!’

We know student life can be all kinds of tough. Including financially tough, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. When my brother came back from four years at Canterbury, I heard all kinds of insane student ‘life hacks’ although I don’t know how effective they were because I could swear he had scurvy and a major vitamin D deficiency…

We have come up with a list of sane PRACTICAL hacks to help you get the most out of your moolah while you are hitting the books. To save you time, we have broken these hacks down into categories too.

MONEY STRATEGIES AND GENERAL TIPS

  • Step away from the credit card and pay with cash whenever possible. Parting with cold hard cash, rather than ‘tap ‘n goin’ makes spending a lot more difficult. Also, when you go out somewhere, only take a certain amount of cash to prevent impulse spending. If you don’t have it with you – you can’t spend it!
  • When you get paid on a certain day, make sure you have money automatically being deducted to start paying off student debt. Also, have some being put into a saving account. It doesn’t have to be a lot! Just a small amount each week/ fortnight will start to add up, and you will be able to afford that new MacBook Pro/ OE before you know it!
  • Set up a budget (link to fun personalised budgets – yay) – Work out what your expenses are and allocate money accordingly. What are your 100% fixed expenses (rent, power, internet, phone, etc..) What are some you can be a little more flexible with? (Food, clothing, toiletries…) What are luxury items? (a night out, an Audible book, a new hairdryer…) What about an emergency fund? (New car tyres, prescription glasses, doctors’ appointments…)
  • Put those random coins in a jar hidden away somewhere and take them out at the end of each month and use it for something you’ve been wanting/ needing. (“Or save/invest it!” the accountant in me is screaming!)

HAVING FUN ON A BUDGET

  • Bored? Don’t subscribe to paid TV. If you get free/ unlimited WiFi, just watch content online.
  • The world is a playground! Get outside and take advantage of parks and outdoor activities such as picnics, swimming, and sports.
  • Both on and off campus you will find free, fun events – maybe the drama students are hosting a play? Or the art students have a gallery opening?
  • Cities often have all sorts of free events and fun things going on too (often where food and drink might be provided). Some ideas include event openings, library events, community fairs for samples and tastings, house parties, and free tours at factories, breweries, newspapers, etc…
  • Join or create a social group (book club or coffee tasting with friends).
  • Find a cheap bar that does happy hour and/ or student discounts! (Even better if they have bottomless bar snacks!)

RETAIL THERAPY

If you haven’t already subscribed to the minimalist trend, you should! It’s all the rage to be able to fit your life into a backpack… Ha-ha-ha! If you are not quite there yet – here are some tips to help you navigate shopping whilst living the student dream:

  • Reassess your phone plan and get a cheaper one. Often a new deal comes but you are oblivious that you could be paying $9.99 rather than $29.99 per month – pays to check. That’s an extra bottle of wine my friend.
  • Shop around! There are hosts of websites (like PriceSpy) that can help you see who is selling that item for the best price.
  • Online shopping can be a dangerous game but is very effective if used correctly. It saves on parking and gas or bus fares and can be done from bed while eating 2-minute noodles. Just make sure you opt for places that offer free delivery.
  • Share the love: Lend and borrow books, clothes swap with friends, have potluck meals with others, barter your expertise with mates (“Swap a haircut for some graphics work?”)
  • Bulk buy and save if you tend to purchase a lot of certain items.

FOOD & HEALTH

  • Meal prep, cook at home, make your own lunch and eat before you go out, so you are not tempted by fast food and expensive junk. Often the healthiest foods are the cheapest: rice, oats, pasta, beans, frozen vegies and tinned food is inexpensive and tasty too!
  • Do you have space for a garden somewhere? Even a small one is great for growing herbs or the odd lettuce. Buying seeds and rotation planting bits and pieces can really save you a lot over a year
  • Buy fruit cheap when it is in season and preserve/ freeze it for the months when you would otherwise be without it. Stew apples and feijoa from Autumn for your porridge right through to Spring etc..
  • You don’t need a gym to get in shape. Just exercise at home – yoga, ‘freeletics,’ riding a bike, running, walking, swimming, even borrow a friends weights – or better still train together to keep each other motivated.
  • Community gardens + fruit trees. Are there any near you that you can access?
  • Does your part-time job provide meals during your shift? Often the restaurant industry will provide snacks or whole meals for their staff. Depending on how many days you work that could be a lot less money you need to spend on food.
  • Local sports clubs often have cheap food evenings (roast meals/ burgers etc..) on a certain night of the week. Get amongst that, and you might even discover a new sport and make some new friends.

TRAVEL

  • Don’t use a car if you can avoid it and you will save a lot! Goodbye car maintenance, gas, rego, WOFs, insurance, and parking! Use your legs, a bike, or public transport with student rates if you can.
  • Grab-a-Seat, Air BnB, and couch surf your way around NZ and the world if you are in need of a cheap getaway between semesters.
  • Carpool or take advantage of free transportation with campus shuttles if your campus provides them.
  • Take advantage of free lodging and good exchange rates with study abroad programs.

JOBS & INCOME

  • Hooray for Student Job Search – They often have cool little jobs you can fit around study and give a bash for extra cash.
  • Try recruitment agencies for temp work and build up your experience in a range of areas – customer service, administration, communication etc.
  • Tutor students in years below you or freelance in your area of expertise.
  • Comedian? Got a musical talent or know how to pull a never-ending silk scarf from your nose? Maybe you should consider busking? Those guys make a small fortune sharing their not so hidden talents with the world!
  • Volunteer work is amazing- not only do you get experience doing something practical and have something to put on your CV, but you also get to meet great contacts, and these can lead to paid work.
  • Sell your stuff: Get rid of stuff you don’t need any longer by selling it online/ via school and community notice boards.
  • Get paid to shop as a mystery shopper or sign up to be called upon for paid research events. They could be about anything from chewing gum or ice cream to banking and lawn mowers! (Often these pay about $80-$100 for an hour!)

 

It’s been a while since we were at university but we think it would have been handy to have a few extra tricks up our sleeves back then to help us be smarter with our money. We would love to hear from you if you have any great stories about how you saved while you were studying. Hopefully, these tips will help students to clear debt and get ahead while studying to become the next talented wave of professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Who knows, Accountants Plus might just be the ones helping you manage your money one day!