Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The ABC's of Treasure Hunting - "A"

"A" is for ACCOUNTING:

The settlement of financial income and expenses that the team members sort out at the end of each hunt - what is due to whom.

Expense items usually include entrance fees, petrol, mileage, treasures purchased, photostat copies, food, meals, wear and tear, membership fees, data services (3G subscription), tolls and I am sure there are more.

Income items will be cash winnings and proceeds from sale of shared items.

Non-financial items are often not included - e.g.hampers and free vouchers that do not have re-sale value. They are just distributed in a nonchalantly "whoever don't want, I take" manner.

Financial settlement method used is often dependent on how coherent the team is.

For those who seldom hunt together and who will not meet for a long while usually deploy the on-the-spot, paperless method. Each member declaring how much they have put out and in a jiffy, the netting is completed and money changes hand. Often the figures are rounded to the nearest Ringgit. When observed from a distant, they look like making "small bets".

For the more regular, someone will be the default or volunteered treasurer who will keep an account of who paid for what and then if there are any winnings in cash, a distribution is made out a few days after collection of the winnings. Sometimes the treasurer is the one who paid the most in advance - usually the one who paid for the entrance fees. Here the treasurer is often not the same person, and thus there will be variations in methods adopted in computing final figures. You can see the "treasurer" going around the team waving a hand at each member asking for details.

And for those who have permanent members - they keep a book of accounts and publish Excel reports via email, usually within a day or two after the hunt. They are usually very detailed and to the sen! Distribution or collection of nett amounts are usually done through Internet Banking or via cheques issued and deposited into the receiving members' accounts. They are never seen discussing about their affairs - always behind closed doors.

"What accounting? We are here just for the fun - it's a cheap holiday".

In all cases, settlement sometimes take the form of cash being paid at the next treasure hunt down the road. Another observation is "personal generosity" - often members will forgo declaring petty amounts and less often, forgo what they forgot to claim back. And I am sure there are "write-offs" too - because someone "forgot" to pay back. Malaysians are also too shy to ask for small "you owe me's".

Contentious too is "what is a fair rate" to compute for wear and tear of the "hunting car"? I am sure at some point, teams have contemplated rotating "hunting cars" in order to be fair!

Some will resort to "their own company's reimbursement rate per km", others will work out their actual expenses versus the total mileage covered as per their tachometer. Yet some will just force an arbitrary figure. Others will estimate based on the distances outlined in the tulips, plus or minus a small percentage for tracking back and detours. And of course there will those who will just say "Forget it!".

More to come ...
That's "A"... tell you about "B" in the next posting ...
Meanwhile, please share with us, your accounting codes, principles or practices.


Claire said...

From your experience and opinion, what do you think is a fair way for calculating mileage expenses?

BlogCe5nT said...

Very subjective question. So I consulted the "Man in the Mountain" and he humbly advises "Each to give until it just begins to hurt". Makes sen-se?