Mow A Better Lawn, The Easy Way

I was schooled, as many of you were, about mowing lawns, that each time you mow the lawn the next time you rotate 90 degrees. If you are extra anal you go for the 45 degree rotation. I was never that anal so I just cut on the 90 and things went well. The people that “schooled me” said that it would make groves in my yard where I ran the mover. And, I believed it. Until I moved into my new house, and I followed suit and started my 90 degree rotation. Well we live on a slope becase of 1. the view and 2. the water drainage problem we had in out previous home (that is another story.)

I mowed the lawn three times. Twice up and down and once side to side. It was
amazing how much easier going across the slope, than going up and down. I spent
the rest of the summer going across the slope. Along with the proper fertilization
and watering. I kept the blade on the mover sharp and What a Beautiful Lawn. The
kids had a ball barefoot and happy.

I am a proponent of push mowers. I think that they mow a better lawn and provide
and provide a chance to get the blood flowing in between exercise sessions.
Working behind a computer as much as I do, that is much needed. I also feel that
they give you more control of the mower than a riding mowers. Not to mention that
they are safer. It also really hacks me off to see some one terribly over weight
mowing a 1/4 acre lot with a riding mower. That is ridiculous! Anyway off my soap
box.

After I am done, if there is any “clumps” I take the leaf blower and disapate them
into the grass. I hate to say it but the more regularly that you mow the less clumps
you will have. Blah, Blah, Blah!

All and all a beautiful lawn is not that difficult. Just some ideas to help you save
some energy for other projects. Just thinking of you.

Just a few options.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Family Law Lawyer

A family law lawyer specializes in matters relating to issues that surround the family. These can include marriage, divorce, child support, spousal alimony, guardianship, adoption, domestic violence and child abuse.

Choosing a family law lawyer is an important decision, especially when dealing with child abuse and domestic violence. These legal issues are highly-charged events that require attorneys who are well-versed in domestic relations law and child advocacy.

Divorce can also be an emotionally-volatile arena that requires lawyers who can help both parties work through their differences while obtaining a fair settlement. When children are involved it is important to work with attorneys who will fight for the rights of minor children to ensure adequate child support is provided.

Issues related to family law often require clients to work closely with their chosen lawyer. It is best to determine what qualities you prefer before interviewing attorneys. Do you prefer a male or female lawyer? Do you require an aggressive attorney or one who remains calm? Do you need a lawyer with years of experience of would a recent law school graduate suffice?

It can be helpful to create a list of questions, concerns, and the desired outcome. Organize all records pertaining to the legal issue. For example, divorce lawyers will require financial records, real estate deeds, automobile titles, current and previous years’ tax returns, and information surrounding minor children.

It can be beneficial to interview three or more attorneys to determine which is best suited for your needs. Most law firms offer gratis meet-and-greet consultations while others assess a minimal fee. When arranging appointments inquire about initial consultation fees and what documents should be brought to the meeting.

During the meeting it is important to determine cost estimates. Family law lawyers normally require clients to provide an upfront retainer. This typically ranges between 25- and 50-percent of expected costs.

Legal fees are usually assessed at an hourly rate, but some cases are charged as a flat fee. Cases requiring extensive research and court appearances are typically billed hourly. Cases involving minimal work, such as a legal name change, are billed at a flat rate.

Law firms also assess backend fees to cover the cost of phone consultations, court filing fees, copying and faxing documents, and postage fees. Some attorneys deduct these costs from the retainer, while others remit monthly invoices.

The majority of family law lawyers require payment at the time services are rendered. However, some will allow clients to develop a payment plan. It is important to determine payment schedules to ensure you can comply. When payment plans are allowed, it is smart to obtain the plan in writing so that all parties understand payment amounts and due dates.

Individuals who require services from a family law lawyer, but cannot afford legal fees may qualify for pro bono services. Much depends on earned income and circumstances surrounding the case.

If possible, obtain family law lawyer referrals from family or friends. This can minimize time spent searching for or consulting with attorneys. Those unable to obtain referrals can utilize the Internet or telephone directories to locate law firms.

Another source for locating reputable attorneys is the American Bar Association website at abanet.org. The ABA does not offer recommendations, but instead publish a list of nationwide family law lawyers who are in good standing with the organization.

How to Start and Run a Successful Lawn Care & Landscape Business

Before you “Hang your Shingle”

Plan? We don’t need no stinking plan! There is only one time I personally recommend you do a “full fledged” business plan. When you need to borrow money that you CANNOT get anywhere else. I say this because a true business plan, though a “map” to where you’re going, has much information you won’t really need, use or understand. I favor Marc Allen’s’ approach called the “one page plan”.

I suggest you read the Millionaire Course by Marc Allen to get a better feel for it, but here’s the basics.

• Write down your ideal scene, set five years in the future.
• Write down your goals (extracted from ideal scene).
• Turn your goals into positive, personal, present-tense affirmations.
• Deal with doubts and fears effectively (the book provides a specific process for this).
• Write simple plans for your goals on paper.
• Take the most obvious first action right in front of you, and keep going from there.

So you basically write down your ideal scene, be brave and be outrageous. Then scan this document for “goals” that you can write down. Then write down specific tasks you can take to accomplish these goals. Remember, beginning has boldness! And hard work is simply a bunch of easy stuff that didn’t get done when it should’ve!

Who are you? Who are your clients?

Define your market – define yourself: Who are you as a company? Are you the guy who specializes in cemeteries and schools and other municipal properties? Or are you the one who takes care of that “select group” of wealthy, particular clients who very few have the skill and patience to serve? It’s SO important to define yourself FIRST or you’ll have a “mixed bag” of clients and you’ll make many errors in judgment as to how to serve each type. You can be general or specific, but start defining now.

We cater to middle to upper – middle class, middle to old age, particular but not “spoiled”. This is where we experience the best money, most enjoyment and greatest client satisfaction. On the corporate side, we cater to small properties who are loyal to a company who gives great service. We want companies that say “Ok, he did our property JUST the way we liked it last year, I see no reason to go anywhere else”. I stay away from companies that put their properties out to bid every year. You MIGHT keep the job if you give “knock em’ dead” service, but chances are, saving money will always win in the end. I Stick with small and loyal, and that just works for us.

DO occasionally take clients “above” your target, just not below. Defining yourself is another way of setting your “terms”. For instance, our rate is our rate. We don’t dicker. We say HOW the work gets done, the client gets to dictate the end result. I am paid on time. I do what’s best for my family, I live by the golden rule and I clean up my messes and take 100% responsibility for my life. Notice there are no “or else’s” at the end, no “back doors”. THEN they would be called “conditions”. These are NOT conditions, they are “terms”. There is no room for any alternative and we do not give the alternative space to exist. Period. Most of your personal terms would be the same whether you were married, single, childless or patriarch over a brood of 11. They “define” you, and adhering to them strengthens you and compromising them weakens you.

Metaphysically speaking, when you define yourself, you invoke the great “I AM”. When you firmly define yourself, you will begin to find situations drawn to you that fit your definition. You’ll get calls from the “right” clients, you’ll be in the “right” place for the president of the condo association to stop and talk to you, you’ll happen to be the ONLY contractor that answered his phone that day when the new homeowner next door calls.

Pick two and “Know the WHY?”

Pick Two: This is extremely important! There are 3 things you can offer; low price, great service, great quality. You can only offer TWO out of the three. What are they going to be? If it’s great service and quality, don’t you DARE let clients dicker with you on price. Trying to offer all 3, OR offering a “different 2” from one day to the next will do you in quicker than almost any bad business decision you can make. Who are you? It’s ok to change your mind as you go along, just be clear as to why. Be clear on who you are.

I’m clear that I’m all about quality and service, which is why I hire subs and am “stepping back”. All my successful business decisions can be traced back to a decision to follow these two choices. All or most of my poor decisions can be traced back to a time that I “waffled” and forgot who I was.

Know the Why!: Know what you’re going to charge and WHY. You MUST feel that there’s a reason you charge $40, $60 or $80 per hour or you’ll let yourself be talked out of it. Know WHY you’re in business. What are your goals, what are you trying to accomplish? Where are you going? Another word for “WHY” is “purpose”, and purpose gives the needed energy and passion to everything. Passion is really all you need to get going and STAY going through all sorts of conditions. Passion leads to perseverance. Perseverance leads to success. Perseverance is “heard” by God and the universe as “Hey, this is what I want and where I’m going, regardless of whatever obstacles I encounter”. This is also crucial in budgeting. Know how you came up with your numbers. Do the extra work. Instead of just saying “I want to grow 20% next year”, figure out what needs to happen to accomplish that. How many lawns do I need to get? Make sure you BELIEVE that you can do it, and you understand what needs to HAPPEN for you to do it and your chances will skyrocket.

Sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation? This is one of those questions that can ONLY be answered firmly by a lawyer or tax specialist (you do have an accountant don’t you?!) But I’ll put my 2 cents in here. I believe that ONCE YOU ARE MAKING A GOOD PROFIT, an Scorp is the best way to go for the following reasons:

1. It disciplines you to keep company and personal money separate because you HAVE to pay yourself a paycheck and CANNOT commingle funds.

2. As you make more profit, you get to dictate your paycheck and leave the rest of the profit in the company which simply gets taxed at your rate. For instance, if you are a sole proprietorship, and you make $50,000 profit you have to pay state and fed taxes PLUS social security and Medicare (self employment tax) of 15.3% (you and company side). If you are an Scorp instead, you pay yourself $30,000 and pay all those taxes on it, then JUST pay state and fed on the remaining $20,000, saving $3,060!! Setting up an Scorp is pretty straight forward.

I would say that as long as your GROSS is $100,000 or less and your net before tax profit (including money you pay yourself as wages) is $30,000 or less, you should stay either a sole proprietorship OR LLC. Consult your lawyer and accountant on these matters first though.

A couple of points about incorporating:

• DON’T buy expensive ledger and corporate package. It’s only a fancy 3 ring binder and corporate seal. Google “corporate seal” if you really want one, but my understanding is that they are no longer necessary.
• DO spend 50-60 on an incorporating package OR a program like LLC maker because it just simplifies and clarifies everything for you. IF you are comfortable researching, go ahead, but my advice is that if you can run a business, you can incorporate yourself without a lawyer. I just bought a “maintenance package” that includes minutes and bylaws to keep everything tidy and legal.

That’s it for now!

No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.

Crucial Steps to Take During Your Search for the Perfect Bankruptcy Lawyer to Represent You in Court

Considering how our lives have become so dependent on credit cards for every little purchase, it becomes very easy for people to lose track of how much money they owe and before they know it they get buried in so much debt that they find it impossible to recover from it. This is not only limited to people but carries on to businesses and organizations as well. The borrowing and lending of money and the purchase and selling of goods on credit are the main reasons which lead to excessive debt. This is why we have bankruptcy laws to help people recover from excessive debt and start fresh. But the laws of bankruptcy are quite complicated and in order to file for bankruptcy you need to have a competent bankruptcy lawyer to help you out.

To begin with, the very first step that you need to take before filing for bankruptcy is to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. This step though might appear to be very simple; it is in fact the main step that will determine how your bankruptcy case unfolds in court and how likely you will succeed in it. The bankruptcy lawyer you choose is your future and therefore you need to take the utmost care and caution when choosing which bankruptcy lawyer to hire to represent you in court. This article is written to specifically help you out in this step. You will get to know all the steps required for you to successfully hire the best bankruptcy lawyer for you.

The first source to look into for bankruptcy lawyer referrals is either your friends or any other lawyer that you may know. If you do not know of any person who is a lawyer or any person who knows a lawyer than the second source to look into for a bankruptcy lawyer is the yellow pages. This is a convenient and quick way to get a name of a bankruptcy lawyer working in your area. The yellow pages usually list all lawyers according to their specialty therefore looking into the bankruptcy section will immediately give you a list of all bankruptcy lawyers in your area.

The next step involved in your search for a good lawyer is to start gathering some background information on the names you have in your list. Background information can easily be found on any lawyer through the internet. If not you can call up the court and ask them for a review on the lawyer you are interested in. Check out for which bankruptcy related lawyer has the most number of successful cases and which bankruptcy related lawyer has the longest work experience of practicing particularly in your area and your local court rather than in any other state. If a bankruptcy lawyer has a longer experience in another state then avoid hiring him or her because the laws and regulations change a lot from state to state and that bankruptcy lawyer might not have sufficient information to represent your case.

Once you narrow down your list to two or three lawyers then start calling up each bankruptcy related lawyer and ask them to allow you to visit them for a consultation session. These consultation sessions are normally free. If a bankruptcy related lawyer is charging you for it, avoid him or her. This initial session with a bankruptcy related lawyer will help you make the final decision of which bankruptcy related lawyer to finally hire depending on which one you are the most comfortable with. Comfort is a major factor because in the coming days you will be spending a lot of time with this new bankruptcy related lawyer, therefore always ensure that you are fully comfortable with him or her.