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When and How to collect initial payments??

Can someone please give me a brief synopsis on how to obtain a brand new tenant's deposit and first month's rent.  Obviously the deposit is taken before move in.  What about first month's rent.  Say they move in mid July and sign for a one year lease?  Does this really mean they owe the rest of July and then the year starts in August?  Thanks!
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I usually take the first months rent and security deposit either ahead of time or at the Lease signing but always BEFORE I hand over the keys. I handle mid month move-ins in different ways: 1) by starting the Lease at mid month making the rent due in the middle.or 2) Have the tenant pay the pro-rated rent and have him pay the first full month rent when it is due. or 3) Have the tenant pay the pro-rated amount along with the first full months rent before move in.
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