Harrington Group Blog

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Working as accountants, our busiest time falls from the start of the new year, through that April 15th deadline. As hard as we work, and as much as we love what we do, we can also get stressed sometimes - we’re human. It happens to all of us at one time or another, so if something in life is stressing you out, here are five tips of how to de-stress.

1) This one is a little silly to some, but we find it helpful. Give yourself a finite amount of time to worry. Designate 5-10 minutes of your day as time to acknowledge your worries. Think about them, write them down, get them out of your head so you can return to your work and stay on task.

2) Stretch and move your body. Don’t sit at your desk for 6 hours straight. We know there is lots of your work to do, and little time to complete it all, but take 2 minutes to walk around the office or stand up and stretch at your desk. This not only helps your physical comfort, but re-invigorates you mentally as well.

3) Bring snacks to the office. This one is very important. When working long days people often do not take the time to stop and eat full meals. Whether you have time or not, having healthy, protein packed snacks easily accessible at your desk can keep you working and able to focus all day.

4) Get a head start. Wake up early, get out the door a little early. Starting your morning off on the right foot sets the tone for your whole day. When you make it to the office on time, or even a little early, you are in a positive mind set to tackle your day.

5) Get some sleep! It is easier to get that head start in the morning if you get enough sleep the night before. If you get enough sleep, you are able to function at a higher level throughout the day. With enough sleep you will not be groggy, you will be clear headed and ready to work.

While you have lots of work to do, remember that many other factors can influence your ability to complete everything to the best of your abilities. Take these small steps to keep stress at bay. In addition, remember to keep everything in perspective, and remind yourself all the things you love about your life and job.
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This month, Harrington Group has the honor of helping you to get to know The Community Foundation—Serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in California, the feature of this month’s Client Spotlight.

Charles Brouse was a man who in addition to being a banker, was also a civic leader who saw an opportunity to repay all the favors and goodwill he was shown in the years leading to his success. He saw the needs within his community, particularly those of students in need of financial assistance, and he seized the opportunity to do some good.

Brouse established the Foundation in 1941. His main focus at the time was to help students attending Riverside Community College by providing scholarships. As the needs in the community changed and grew, so did the Foundation. In 2000, the Foundation expanded its community reach by serving both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

In 2014, The Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling over $7 million. $2.8 million of that was in scholarships to every two- and four-year accredited university and college in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, in addition to schools and universities across the country. Close to 300 component funds equate the nearly $86 million in assets that The Community Foundation manages.

The Community Foundation’s work is simplified into the five “G’s”: Get gifts. Grow funds. Give grants. Gather people. Guide philanthropy.  Get:  If someone wants to be philanthropic, they can make a donation, donate to an existing fund, or arrange for a gift to be given at a later time. Grow:  Once the gifts and donations are received, they are invested in order to capitalize on their potential growth, maximizing their reach and effectiveness, and extending the life of the gift from the present to include the future as well. Give: The Community Foundation gives grants to 501(c) 3 nonprofit organizations and provides scholarships to deserving students. Gather: As a practice, they gather community leaders and nonprofits in an attempt to create an environment where all may come together and assess the needs of the community. Guide: The Foundation strengthens philanthropy through projects such as Give BIG, an online giving day, and encourages involvement in nonprofit participation and encourages youth philanthropy.

The Community Foundation is one of those organizations whose reach is so broad and their structure is such that the overall impact that they can make is infinite and forever. What this means for the communities surrounding them is an assurance that if there are needs that the people have, The Community Foundation and their generous donors will do its best to address those issues.  The Community Foundation is “Here for Good.”

Harrington Group is so proud to be able to list The Community Foundation among our esteemed clients.  We are grateful to offer our assistance, so that in turn, The Community Foundation can offer theirs.  
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There are always a plethora of causes that each month is dedicated to. As we work exclusively with non-profit organizations, we always have an interest in learning about and getting involved when we can. While there are various dedications in March, we are going to take this post as a chance to discuss Multiple Sclerosis, often simply referred to as MS.

The Mayo Clinic defines Multiple Sclerosis as “a disease in which your immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers your nerves. Myelin damage disrupts communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Ultimately, the nerves themselves may deteriorate, a process that's currently irreversible.”

Early symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness, and blurred vision but may extend to muscle stiffness, thinking problems, and urinary problems. The deterioration can be physical or mental and either progressive, or happen in what is referred to as “attacks.” As a result of the disease, those affected can lose certain physical functions, sometimes deteriorating to the point of not being able to walk, or take care of themselves. In short, they require care and assistance to accomplish tasks they may have formerly given little thought to. The simple daily routines become increasingly difficult, or even not possible on their own. As mentioned above, these effects are currently not reversible.

The effects of the disease are compounded by the toll they take on the sick individual and those who surround them. As with any problem that causes pain and suffering, or requires medical attention, there is more to it than the disease itself. There is an accompanying financial burden, in the form of medical bills, or even live in care, if so required. The emotional, and psychological state of the sick individual can be greatly altered by this new dependence on others. There can be frustration, or guilt for the effect they are unintentionally having on the lives of those they love.

So, the first thing that comes to mind in terms of how you can help is a monetary donation. Funding towards research and helping reduce care costs is always appreciated, but we are not asking that of you. We are simply asking your awareness and kindness on the issue. It is always  best to be over informed and totally aware. So take the time to learn about something, you never know when the information will be useful to you.
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As we move from the cool, dark winter months into the bright sunshine of Spring, let’s take pause to examine our lives and keep ourselves accountable. Just over two months ago was the grandest of new beginnings: a new year.

Did you promise yourself a few changes, a new life, a new you? Whatever it was that you were so determined to add to, or change about your life - not to nitpick - but, ahem, are you still doing it? Whether you are 100 percent still dedicated, or you barely remember what that oath to yourself was, let’s just stop a second and evaluate.

Be objective as possible in your self-checking. No excuses. No blaming. No judging. Be real with yourself about what you have accomplished, where you have fallen short and what is still available to improve. Maybe your goals were a little lofty for immediate results, maybe you dreamed so big you intimidated yourself, maybe you hit a rough patch and it totally threw you off. Maybe you have already started losing the weight, maybe you now love volunteering every month. Wherever you are at, can you do more? Should you do a little less? Whichever end of the spectrum you are on, don’t write yourself off.

Spring is fast approaching, the sun is shining, the flowers are getting ready to bloom and surround us with the beauty of new life. So take the opportunity to embrace more change, more beauty, and resolve yourself to really put in the effort you deserve. Every day can be a fresh start, but it never hurts to have the visible reminder every day. So although, every time is the right time to start, to change or to just keep going, there’s no time quite as beautiful and inspiring as Spring.
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Now that everyone has had adequate time to recover from the holiday season and adjust to the new year, it’s time to look forward. It is time to start getting ready to file your taxes!
We know a lot of people dread this task every year, but it’s not as awful you think. Get a jump on organizing everything you will need and avoid the unnecessary stress. Here are two things you can do now, in preparation, to save yourself later.

The first thing is for those of you who may not have kept track of things as well as you could have over the past year, to sit down and go over it all. Start adding up all of your deductions. You will want to log things such as work related milage, travel and entertainment expenses. Have you paid for child care, work materials, permit fees or made any charitable contributions? Check the IRS website to find a complete list of all 2015 deductions. Make a complete list so you are ready when it come times for you to file.

Next step is even more simple. As you receive all of the documents relating to your finances for the previous year, keep them all together. Designate a space, file, or folder - whatever you know will work for you. File away all the statements from your bank, employer, any rental properties, partnerships or other income. If organizations you donated too send you paperwork, keep those as well. Store these all together, so once again, you will be saved the trouble of hunting them down as the deadline looms closer.

Whether you file your own taxes, or have someone take care of your accounting, you will not regret getting organized ahead of time.
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Walking into a job interview can be intimidating. You want to clearly portray all your abilities, competence, professionalism and personality to the interviewer, thus showing your compatibility with the company. That is  a lot to accomplish in a brief period of time, while under stress.

Asking the right questions is a simple way to show your interest and knowledge, without adding more pressure to yourself.
Here are five simple questions you can keep in your back pocket for any interview.

How do you evaluate employee performance?

This is important to know, so you understand what the company values, and what your job entails. Is it a sales based job, where the sales you make directly correlate to your success level? Is there a general rubric they follow that reads like a report card? These are things you want to know, so that you can make sure your skills line up with their evaluation methods, maximizing the benefits for both sides.

Are there opportunities for growth within the company? Do they promote from within?

I know this question seems borderline, too basic, but I promise it has a place. It is important to acknowledge your desire to grow within the company, and to make sure that it is in fact a reality. You want to know that you will have opportunities to grow and learn, and continue that process.

Why is this position open?

It may be that this is a new position within the company, as they are growing, or changing. However, it is more likely that the previous employee either left or was let go. You can often tell a lot from the way the interviewer speaks about situation, or previous employee. You want to be aware of if the position seems to have quick turnover, or if you are about to walk into an office full of drama.

How are the finances of the company?

This question is a lot harder for many people to ask. It is forward to ask about financial situations, but as you may be joining this company, it is justified. Companies that are struggling financially are often also stressful, and in reality, may not be a stable, steady, long term option for you.

How will doing this job contribute to the overall growth and success of the company?

You need to know more than your daily job duties. You need to know your role in the bigger picture. Your contribution to making the business run smoothly, and how your work will contribute to the success of the company is integral information to ensure you are prepared and informed when accepting a potential job offer.

While nerves can come into play, having these few questions to pull out will help give you a break from speaking, and help you learn important information the interviewer may not have discussed otherwise. The interviewer will inevitably ask you if you have any questions, and you should always have at least one. Hopefully having these questions to rely on will help you, and you can walk away feeling that the interview was a success
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Harrington Group recently hosted a Holiday Party for its employees at Golden Road Brewery in Glendale. We thought it would be fun to share some of the photos with you, and give you a glimpse of us, away from our desks.

We took time to celebrate all the hard work and dedication from our awesome team in 2014 . And there is no better way to celebrate, than by eating plenty of delicious food and having some locally crafted beer with great company! We were also given a tour of their local, in house, brewery. Then we played games, and gave away prizes, because no one is never too old for some good old fashioned fun!

We had a great time, enjoying a team day away from the office, in the name of holiday cheer!

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and cheers to a great 2015!
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As the week comes to a close, many of your are preparing for a three day weekend, as Monday is Martin Luther King Day. As Americans we are well versed in the work and history of Martin Luther King Jr. He was an inspiring activist who stuck to his ideals and dedicated his life to affecting positive changes, specifically in the Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an inspiring man in so many ways. Although we view his work on a rather large scale in the context of the history of our country, we must not forget that he was, at his core, a man, just like the rest of us.

Here are a five of our favorite inspirational quotes from Dr. King.
They are not only inspiring, but relatable, and useful in navigating every day life.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

May we take this holiday not only as a reminder of the wonderful work done by Dr. King, but as a time to examine our own lives, philosophies, ideals. It is the perfect time to question our own personal intent, actions, character and commitment, and renew our dedication to doing what is right.
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I don’t think I’m over stepping my bounds by saying the holiday season can cause stress. There is a lot to do, and it suddenly seems as though there are more people just about everywhere. The roads are crowded, the malls are crowded, the parking lots, grocery stores, coffee shops, they are all crowded. This leads to long lines and plenty of waiting. Waiting is, needless to say, not something many people are used to doing in our instant gratification obsessed society.

I suggest you give yourself and the rest of the world a sincere gift this holiday season: PATIENCE.

If you choose to practice patience, you will be so much happier and actually get to enjoy the most wonderful time of year. You will be calm, relaxed and courteous. As a result of this patience, you will not cause unnecessary stress to yourself or others.

When someone snags your spot in a crowded parking lot, or a little old lady takes extra long at the register when you are already running late, I recommend you simply take a breathe and promptly let it go. You will find a different spot, you will get where you need to go, and I promise, everything will be okay.
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December first is World AIDS Day. AIDS and HIV are not openly discussed, even in our  modern society, but are still a widespread problem.

Here are a few facts to remind you of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS today.

1 in 6 living with HIV in the US are unaware of their infection.
1.2 million in the US are living with HIV.
3.2 million children worldwide are living with HIV.
35 million people worldwide currently have HIV/AIDS.
HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer.

So the real question is what can you do? The firs step is simply to act responsibly in protecting yourself. Practice safe sex and get yourself tested.

In the larger picture what can you do? You can help inform those around you about what HIV/AIDS actually are. You can be well informed and correct misperceptions when you come across them. You can also choose to volunteer or work with any number of organizations to spread information about prevention. There are opportunities to volunteer through needle exchange programs, to prevent the use of dirty or shared needles. You can support health organizations that care for those living with HIV or AIDS.

The most important part is to be well informed and aware, in your own life. You can
also join the conversations all over the internet today, by using the #WAD2014 and #FacingAIDS.
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