Category: Budgeting

Avoiding the ATM Pitfalls: 7 Credit Card Tips for Traveling Abroad

card using tipsHere are some pointers on how to use your credit card wisely abroad and suggestions for using a travel card plus other savvy tips that should ensure you get the benefits of using your plastic on foreign soil without costing more than it should.

Before you go

It should be remembered that some credit cards are more attractive than others when it comes to overseas use and it would be a smart move to check out which of the cards in your wallet are international-friendly.

Using your credit card abroad will often incur a transaction fee and a withdrawal fee at the ATM, but you will find that some card companies either don’t charge any extra fees or offer much lower transaction charges than some of their rivals.

Shop around and check to see which is the best card to have with you abroad.

ATM agony

Drawing cash out of an ATM is quick and easy but it can be one of the most expensive ways of using your credit card, especially abroad.

The card company will likely charge you a cash advance fee and interest on the amount you take out and there may well be a foreign transaction fee on top of that too.

Try to plan your trip so that you don’t have to use an ATM unless your card provider is one that doesn’t apply punitive charges and interest.

Keep it local

Another potential sting in the tail is when the merchant offers to convert the transaction into your local currency rather than theirs.

This is invariably a bad idea as the conversion rate is not normally as good as the “mid-market rate” that card providers use when they make the conversion on your statement.

Tell your credit card company

Having chosen the card or cards that you are going to use abroad it makes good sense to tell them of your travel plans in advance.

If your card starts being used abroad and you haven’t told them beforehand they might assume that the transactions are fraudulent, which could mean they decline a purchase or block the card altogether.

Save the hassle by notifying the card provider so that they won’t flag foreign purchases as suspicious.

A bit of peace of mind

It is worth pointing out that there are definite benefits to using a credit card abroad too, and one of those plus points is the fact that you should get payment protection.

If you buy something that is faulty and it is not feasible to get a refund from the retailer your card company should offer payment protection and cover any potential loss you might otherwise have suffered if you paid for something in cash.

Find a secure connection

If you are using a banking app or accessing your account over the internet while abroad make sure that you find a secure connection rather than rely on somewhere more vulnerable like an Internet cafe.

You don’t want to find that your personal details have been compromised.

Lost or stolen

If your credit card is lost or stolen don’t waste any time telling your credit card company.

Any delay could give someone the chance to wreak havoc with your card if it’s fallen into the wrong hands.

Even though it might be a pain to interrupt your holiday to call your bank it could save a lot more hassle later on.

Avoid the classic credit card pitfalls and if you choose your card provider wisely it should make using it abroad a breeze.

Applying for an appropriate loan during retirement – Know the ins and outs

retirement loansRetirees can own cars and houses but does that mean that they can never use a loan? From offering tax benefits to paying for urgent expenses, loans can often be of immense benefit for the elder Americans for more than one reason. It is pretty common for the retirees to realize that they usually require getting their hands on lots of money. Seniors can have costly expenses like medical emergencies, they can suddenly realize that a part of their home requires a big renovation or even decide to help their grandchildren with bearing some kind of expenses.

Irrespective of the reason that a retiree can have in obtaining a loan, the application process is similar to working adults and retirees. However, the older applicants can require going through few other steps like showing an added income stream to display their ability to repay the loan on time. While there are several types of installment loans and online loans to take resort to, you should know the ins and outs of borrowing funds.

The process of choosing the appropriate loan

The senior Americans can be eligible for several loan types, personal loans backed by collateral, home loan, auto loan to name a few. Among these options, refinancing a home loan can be appealing due to the fact that you can deduct the interest from your tax returns. While there are several forms of income in retirement like IRAs, traditional 401(k)s which are not taxable, but they should never borrow from these as they can have an adverse impact on retirement income.

There are seniors also who may watch out for personal loans or payday loans from online sources like PaydayMe. These loans can also be enough for them to meet their immediate personal financial needs. The best way to make sure you are on the right track is by speaking to a loan expert who totally understands your financial situation. Watch out for all the options that are there in the market.

Have realistic thoughts about your repayment ability

Just because a senior can qualify for any loan type, this doesn’t mean that he should take out any loan that he wants. Those retirees who are living on a tight budget should understand their needs and wants before considering a loan. Due to the fact that seniors have restrained money to stretch over, the present life spans are making it tough for people to reach 80s, 90s and even more than that. Spending your entire retirement life on repaying debt could make it tougher for you to sustain the savings for a certain time period.

No matter whichever option you choose for borrowing money, you have to be sure that you’re able to pay back the money on time. If you’re not able to do that, you will start incurring high interest debt which will push you towards a vicious cycle of debt. Debt can spoil your golden years and hence it is best when you take steps to keep debts at bay.

Personal Financial Management – A knowledge base

manageable financesFinancial management has to be one of the most daunting and demanding tasks that can cause an individual stress. There is simply no margin for error, and a slight misappropriation could have far reaching effects in the immediate future or sometimes later in life. Now, more than ever before, personal finances are at a greater risk thanks to the availability of easy digital spending platforms. Purchases are made easier by swiping or just by a touch of a button, and bank accounts are accessible through a myriad of services. With a few clicks a person can have thousands of dollars of credit and being destroying their financial future.

The Essence of Personal Financial Management

Basically, personal financial management entails understanding your financial situation at current state, and making plans for the future with what you have. It could also be taken to simply mean watching your spending, and saving what you can. It is important to be careful as someone can easily overextend themselves with just a couple bad moves.

The Specifics of Managing your Finances

Income and Cash Flow management

The easiest way of making the most out of your income is by putting in place a mechanism to track and understand what you get versus what you spend, and finally being able to gain capital for covering other additional concerns, as well as setting the stage for a bright future. However, what challenges most individuals is the means of tracking those finances.

Tracking your finances

Financial experts will tell you that the best way to track your finances is by keeping records of every single financial activity. It’s that simple.

Your financial trajectory will be drawn by calculating your monthly, weekly, or daily income against the amount you spend over the same period. Remember, in addition to your daily expenses and other miscellaneous expenses, other amenities such as rent, insurance, subscriptions, etc, should be included in your record. That way you’ll be in a good position to see the real picture and take the necessary steps.

By having such a detailed record, you will be able to qualify expenses in order of necessity, and somehow cut down on the ones you deem unnecessary, or those that you can do without. Luckily, today there are apps dedicated for the purposes of recording personal emoluments instead of keeping an Excel sheet (which is not a bad idea at all). When you can look at all of your expenditures at once, it makes it much easier to figure out where you are going wrong.

Financial Security and Growth Management

Insurance and investment have been listed by experts as areas of great importance. However, these are areas associated with persons who qualify, or can afford some expendable capital even after balancing their other expenses.

Insurance, for instance is listed as a basic requirement for modern living. You will need to identify a good insurance that promises to secure the well being of your family when hard times come, and no one knows when they do.

Investment on the other hand is dictated by a number of issues, like how and when to venture. It boils down to thinking strategically and taking risks, through what is projected to provide financial stability in future.

The best way to go about it is through starting off with a professional to manage your investments. It is an expensive venture, but the importance of lowering the risk outweighs the deal.

Putting up Liquid Savings

Part of the money meant for savings and growth should be accessible should an emergency arise. This could mean either maintaining a savings account with an emergency clause, or investing in a long term venture but with the ability to secure quick transactions during emergency. Ideally, it’s good enough to have enough money to live on for six months or more if a major issue arises.

Summary

The idea here is to practice individual financial discipline and to understand the different strategies of financial management, and how and when to execute them. A complete financial plan is what constitutes a stable financial future, but discipline is paramount. It takes dedication and sacrifice to attain the above, even when low or high risks are involved.

To learn more about investing and finance, check out this website.

Business Decisions to Make After Hitting the 5-Year Mark

business moneyThe five-year anniversary marks a good time for business owners to stop and evaluate the company’s status and the next steps going forward. Much will depend on where the company stands in relation to where it was half a decade ago. This metric can help small business owners gauge what the next five years have in store.

Here are some typical options for thoughtful consideration:

Expand

If you’ve been in business for five years, the next question is whether or not to expand your business. Just because you are profitable and problem-free at this point does not necessarily mean the company should grow. Investing in higher production, more employees, or expanded facilities runs the risk of over-extending your financial and managerial capabilities. But if everything is running smoothly with savings in the bank and careful use of small business loans, this may be the time to take your company to the next level in moderate rather than giant steps. Scaffold your growth incrementally to minimize the risk of loss while assessing each new phase of development.

Upgrade

With operations running smoothly, you may want to upgrade machinery or processes to save time. While this usually entails an up-front investment, with a clear eye to the economy and a realistic view of possibilities, upgrading to new or improved assets can set the bar higher to help the company reach new goals. Upgrading equipment may help to keep your business competitive within the industry while soon seeing more profitability.

Reorganize

At five years, it may be time to consider reorganizing the company. You may want to step back from leadership to let an outside person come in with fresh ideas. The business may have grown to the point that you decide to establish a subsidiary branch for a specialized offshoot product. Department divisions could become more diversified. Future growth may need to be strategized and direct the reorganization for a leaner budget or increased productivity.

Refocus

If profits are lagging or employee performance is sliding, it could be time to refocus company efforts into rebuilding the product line. This might be a good opportunity to introduce motivational employee training, too. If the company has experienced mission creep or the original goals have shifted, this is a good time to reevaluate and refocus company objectives.

Sell

When a business reaches and exceeds the original goals, another option is to sell the company. You might feel there is nothing further to be done within the company, and it is time to find a new challenge. Conversely, profits may be so low or so high that you have neither the drive nor the ambition to stay at the helm. If you decide to sell, take time to plan an effective exit strategy to optimize overall gains.

An entrepreneur who reaches the five-year sustenance goal of a business deserves applause. Rather than resting on company laurels, make a careful decision about where to take the company from here. Whether you hold on and grow via the above methods or decide to sell and move on to other endeavors, evaluate the first five years of performance in detail to see what you have learned and how that knowledge might be applied in the future.

Four effective ways to protect yourself on the financial markets

money marketWhen it comes to trading on the financial markets, you owe it to yourself to stay safe. After all, it is your own money that you will be risking! When you add in the fact that modern online trading sees you handing over your sensitive personal and banking data to brokerages, making sure that you stay fully protected is vital.

Of course, this should not scare you off from investing in the global financial markets! It is still a reputable investment method favored by many big names, such as George Soros, and one that you can take advantage of also.

Awesome tips on staying protected while trading

When it comes to staying as safe as you can, there are two things to think about. One is safeguarding against online scams and people trying to dupe you out of money. The other is how to trade in a way that protects you from the market turning against you in an extreme way.

Here are a few ways to avoid both:

1. Choose a regulated online broker

To begin with, we will look at how to keep your cash and personal details safe when trading the financial markets. Online trading has made this open to everyone now and has made investing in the markets simple for all. As with anything online though, you do need to keep your wits about you! Before handing over money and personal details to the broker you will use, check out their reputation and reviews online. Make sure that they are regulated by the relevant authorities for where they are based and also have secure website protection such as SSL or 128-bit encryption.

2. Personal cyber security

Another great tip to stay safe while trading online is to always make sure that your own cyber security is up to scratch. Change passwords to your broker and other sensitive accounts regularly so that no one can break in. You should also keep your own PC’s anti-virus software up to date at all times.

3. Diversify

When it comes to protecting yourself from major market crashes or moves, diversification is advised. This sees you spreading your investments across a range of asset classes, sectors and companies. If the market does move against you, then diversification will avoid it wiping you out totally.

4. Get the latest news

One great piece of advice for staying safe in terms of the markets themselves is to always be up to date with the current financial news. This will allow you to make the right trading decisions and manage your portfolio effectively so that you do not suffer big losses. Hammerstone Markets Inc offers a professional news feed service that many traders rely on to protect them in this way. Sign up for a free trial today to see what Hammerstone offers.

Knowledge is power

The last and perhaps best piece of advice for protecting your money when trading is to simply know what you are doing! Too many traders rush into opening trades before they know how the markets work or what their overall plan is. Take the time to educate yourself a little first and this, combined with our other tips, will help a lot.