June 19, 2018

Commuting Doesn’t Have to Be Terrible: 5 Alternatives to Sitting in Traffic

commuting-auditors

The daily commute can be miserable. No wonder people prefer to work from home. I know I do.

Too bad auditing requires you to show your face at a client’s office. And don’t tell me it’s for rapport building. It’s to keep the client honest. Otherwise, I’m sure the whole audit would get sent overseas.

While an easy drive to and from work doesn’t bother most people, the frustration bubbles up when you get stuck in traffic. Profanity abounds. It is the reality of doing an audit.

According to a 2015 study, we are destined to spend upwards of 42 hours a year in traffic jams. Let’s discuss commuting alternatives on this fine Thursday. If I still drove to work, I’d like to get that time back to do more enjoyable activities or to sleep in every day.

Bike to work

In honor of Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area today, we’ll mention this classic way to skip gridlock. It’s a healthy alternative, and it’s a lot cheaper than driving. For instance:

It costs just $308 per year to keep bikes in shape — nearly 30 times less than cars, according to the Sierra Club. It says: “If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $4 per gallon, total savings would be $7.3 billion a year.”

Or, if you want to spice it up, why not get a penny-farthing bike? This guy did in Chicago:

And it seems he’s not the only one. There seem to be a handful of other people who prefer the old-fashioned bicycle. I remember seeing this guy biking to and from work in Denver:

Denver

Park your tiny house in the client’s parking lot

You can’t pitch a tent in your client’s parking lot. So, maybe, you could simply park your tiny house outside? I kind of like that idea. Tiny homes are fairly comfortable and during busy season, you basically live at work anyway. What do you think? Try it and let us know how it goes.

Underground

Subways are the lifeblood of most big cities. It seems like old news to hop on the subway to beat traffic. Or, that’s true until Elon Musk starts to meddle with the idea of underground tunnels to move people around quickly.

Musk envisions an interconnected 3D tunnel network with crazy car skates to transport cars under Los Angeles at lightning speed. Confused? Just watch this video from The Boring Company:

The tunneling project has plenty of engineering hiccups, but Musk doesn’t seem too worried about them when he spoke at TED in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago:

So a couple of key things that are important in having a 3D tunnel network. First of all, you have to be able to integrate the entrance and exit of the tunnel seamlessly into the fabric of the city. So by having an elevator, sort of a car skate, that’s on an elevator, you can integrate the entrance and exits to the tunnel network just by using two parking spaces. And then the car gets on a skate. There’s no speed limit here, so we’re designing this to be able to operate at 200 kilometers an hour [about 130 miles per hour]… So you should be able to get from, say, Westwood to LAX in six minutes — five, six minutes.

While I haven’t spent much time in LA traffic, the concept sounds glorious. Musk has already acquired a drilling machine that he named “Godot” this morning after a character who never shows up in a play called “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. Funny, Elon.

Above-ground commuter trains

Another old standby, ideal for being able to zone out on your commute and relax a bit without worrying about being rear-ended. I only know of a few cities that have these and, typically, the client is too far away from the stop to make it convenient. But, it can be nice, when it works out, and the client is right near the stop. Oh, and it’s a lifesaver when it’s snowing, and the interstate is a skating rink!

Although, I will mention that I took a light rail to work for several months, and I still remember how eerily quiet it was in the morning. You could feel how depressed everyone was as they marched into work. But, drown out the silence with some headphones, and you’re all set.

Walk

Last but not least — ditch the mode of transportation and move closer to your clients. Sure, this will not work if you live in a suburban area, but it theoretically could be a game changer in a bigger city. Walking is easier now that everyone is using digital work papers — at least I hope they are by now.

What are your favorite commuting alternatives? Who rides takes a water taxi every day? Who’s dog sledding to the Anchorage office? What else did I miss?

Image: Unsplash.com

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Tracking Charitable Donations? Now There’s a CPA-Developed App for That

In more non-iPad, Apple-related news, we learned earlier this week about iDonatedIt, an iPhone app developed by BMG CPAs in Lincoln, Nebraska. The app is designed to track all non-cash charitable contributions whether it be clothes, furniture or family members (okay maybe not the last one). This will allow you to track all of our donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. rather than receiving that crappy receipt they give you that has nothing on it.

Being interested in all things accountant-ish, we got in touch with BMG to find out how this bit of ingenuity came about.

We spoke with Todd Blome, a partner at BMG who came up with the idea and he told us that as soon as he got an iPhone he was thinking of ideas for apps that would be useful for his clients. Since Todd is the tech-savvy partner at BMG, (he heads up their IT consulting services) he started kicking around ideas right away and eventually landed on the idea for iDonatedIt.


Todd told us that the development was fairly simple and that there were only two test versions prior to releasing the app.

“So far we’ve 100% positive feedback on iDonatedIt,” Todd told us, “We’re definitely looking for suggestions for improvements or add-ons.” The one idea that has been floated to Todd was adding a tax savings tool to the app so that a user could determine how much tax savings would be created by the donations. “That will probably be in version two,” he told us.

iDonatedIt retails for $2.99 at the app store and as Todd noted, “a donation of one item pays for the app.” A version for the Droid is currently in the works as well.

Todd and the rest of of his team at BMG are kicking around a few more ideas for apps but he said they want to make sure iDonatedIt is working as good as possible before committing to another project. Check out the demonstration below and jump over the firm’s website or follow them on Twitter to give them your feedback.

Shoeboxed: Saving Accountants One Nightmare Client at a Time

Last week we briefly mentioned Shoeboxed.com and how they can make all your shoebox receipt toting clients disappear. Not only that but it may save some of your more aggressive employees the trouble of explaining why they punched out the deadbeat who showed up with their receipts on April 15th.

We were fortunate enough to spend a some time with Stacy Chudwin, the Company’s Director of Communications, to learn more about the Durham, North Carolina Company.

Stacy told us that the Company got its start by servicing small businesses who wanted to avoid the hassle of tracking expenses by keeping a mind-numbing amount of receipts around, “Businesses can simply compile all their receipts, send them to us and we scan, enter the data and categorize them.”


Now the Company offers an “Accounting Professional Plan” which allows CPAs to do the exact same thing for those clients who aren’t so organized with their bookkeeping, “CPAs can either have their clients send us the receipts directly or they can send the us shoebox that gets dropped off on their desk and we’ll take care of the rest,” Stacy said.

Once all the data entry is finished you can access the information via your business’ account and for CPAs, you can create sub-accounts for each individual client. These reports can then be exported to a number of applications including QuickBooks, Quicken, Excel, and others.

The Company has also developed a free iPhone app that will extract all the information from a photo of the receipt. So for you Holiday Inn jockeys out there, you don’t have to stuff all your receipts in your suitcase and try to decipher everything you spent two weeks later.

“So far all of the feedback from our clients and users of the mobile apps have been great, however everyone wants more features both in their accounts and for the app,” Stacy told us.

Stacy also maintains the Shoeboxed Blog that is updated a few times a month that has areas for “Small Businesses”, “Taxes”, “Budgeting” and “Shoeboxed.com Resources”. She also informed us that they have a very active Twitter account, “We like to use Twitter to make announcements, to highlight recent press, and to retweet some positive feedback from followers, but we will also respond one-on-one if a user has an issue and reaches out to us via Twitter.”

If you’re not hip to the whole Twitter thing the Company has online customer support and a toll free number for all your questions.

The Company has several different plans for both businesses and accountants and both come with 30 day trials. So if you’ve more nightmare clients thatn you can count, what are you waiting for? Thanks to Shoeboxed, now you can add more clients instead of wanting to physically attack them.