Posts tagged: economy

Things to Consider When Planning a Tree Change after Retirement

retirement advicesBy now, you might be confused what a “tree change” means. Experts are advising that people need to start thinking about their retirement early because the current economic trends have brought about a hike in property prices. There are very few living options for retirees and even then, they have to rely on someone, after their savings run out.

When it comes to retirement, people have three options – tree change, sea change and inner city living. As you can understand from the terms, a tree change is where you move to a rural setting, a sea change is where you move to a beach side and inner city living is when you move into an apartment in an urban locale.

Tree Change

A country retreat is mostly preferred by people who have or aim to purchase a few acres of land, some space from the hustle bustle of the city, scenery, fresh air and a sense of peace. With retirees, the most pressing concern is their health. Living confined in a house and being dependent on others for making small trips to the market can get rather depressing. When they feel like a burden, they retreat into themselves and destroy their chances of living a quality life. Having freedom insurance can make them feel secure and independent in such times.

Living in a rural area offers many perks, which include:

• Growing your own vegetables and fruit (this can become a source of income)
• Owning animals
• Less security problems
• Less pollution
Healthy environment
• Greater sense of belonging and community
• Peaceful living

How to Make the Decision

Savings run out easily and as a retiree, it’s hard to find a source of income. This means that you have to carefully plan and count your potential expenses before making the move. Make a checklist of all your “wants” and “essentials” and then crosscheck it with your partner’s list, if you have one.

Most people remain at a 200 km distance from where they used to live because this allows them to remain in contact with their service providers such as a mechanic, hairdresser, medical professionals, etc. This also gives you the benefit to visit your neighbors or friends in times of crisis or celebrations. A lot of money is spent on repairs and by hiring someone who has been working for you for quite some time can be a plus. You will be able to save more and can spend that money on other important things.

Before moving, the most important thing you need to make sure is whether or not medical aid will be available to you in the vicinity where you are moving. It can be quite difficult to get medical help for medical emergencies in rural areas. Before moving, visit the location and check the medical facilities on site. Find out how well equipped they are to handle your problems and then make your decision.

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The Future Is Now: AI to Boost Your Small Business

business setupYou can’t have missed the rumblings in the air. From water-cooler chat to major media focus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the phrase on every business owner’s lips. A lot of the noise concerns what the shape of society will look like with robots in our midst and whether our skills will become redundant under the slow creep of automation. With estimates from the PEW research centre showing that two-thirds of us in the US expect robots in the workplace to be a common sight within the next 50 years, it’s easy to take a dim view of society’s desire for a walking, talking embodiment of our knowledge. But robots are not exclusively a force of the future – since Victorian times humans have created and refined machines to take on drudge work and liberate them to dream bigger and achieve more. So could the future be brighter for small business owners who embrace AI? And how can you use it now? We take a look…

Customer Care Made Easy

One of the most significant challenges facing a young start-up is manpower. You need staffing to grow, but you need more revenue to employ those people. It’s a chicken and egg situation that’s stifled the development of many promising start-ups. And that’s why AI technology is so promising for entrepreneurs struggling to do it all. The advent of a more transparent, internet-connected customer base means that reputation is a more important sink-or-swim factor than ever in business, and whole sectors are now driven by customer review platforms. This means that excellent customer care is simply a hygiene factor, and customers expect an instant response when something goes wrong. For small businesses without an army of staff, this can be all but impossible – so investing in chatbot technology can be a real breakthrough moment. Thinking through the customer journey and created some scripts is simple and doesn’t require any real programming skill. You will find that a lot of basic enquiries are the usual suspects, so this can be an extremely efficient way of filtering those out to allow you to deal with more complex cases. Chatbots are good at instantly retrieving customer information, which can cut call queuing, and it’s a scalable solution that will grow with your company while helping to reduce barriers to sale with potential customers.

Get Your Accounts on Track

Smart software can make your financial management a smooth process, from solutions that allow you to access business loans and receivables all in one seamless system such as www.octet.com to machine learning that can use big data to predict spending patterns. If the day-to-day functions of finance become fully-automated, the resource can be diverted into strategic, long-term planning rather than the bandwidth-drain of servicing routine processes – returning you to being more of a specialist rather than a jack of all trades.

Your Personal Assistant in the Clouds

Keeping on top of the day-to-day onslaught of a small business involves being on the ball about hundreds of micro-decisions that need attention, but not many entrepreneurs can afford a PA from the get-go. Using a remote virtual assistant to schedule and monitor tasks such as travel arrangements, diary planning and admin support makes perfect sense. Using a virtual assistant can free up time and headspace for more demanding tasks, even if we’re not quite in the era of being followed around by a Jetsons-style sassy robot yet (although those will be on shelves in the very near future).

AI doesn’t have to be scary – in fact, it’s working with us right now, and its influence could future-proof your business.

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Small Business Owners Need To Be All-Rounders, Not Specialists

business ideasThere’s a misconception about entrepreneurs that need to be eradicated. It’s the one of the genius leader, the one who can come up with a genius idea, usually thanks to their one track mind. In reality, small business owners don’t need to be specialists in anything; indeed, it’s probably better if they’re not. What they do need to be are all-rounders, able to do a lot of things well, rather than just one thing like an expert. Below, we take a look at a few of the areas that every small business owner needs to have at least a passing familiarity with, and a willingness to learn about.

Dealing with the Public

Your business depends on the public. Without people buying your products and using your services, there is no business. As such, you need to learn how to handle the complex nature of “the public”; a public that is often demanding, and full complaints; though of course, also filled with happy, pleasant people. If you’ve never had to deal with the public, you’d be well advised to put yourself in front of house – that is, if you’re normally behind the scenes – to see what they can be like first hand.

Being the Boss

If you’ve hired a team of staff, then you’re no longer an entrepreneur: you’re a leader. And as a leader, you need to know how to handle underperforming employees, office complaints and arguments, as well as all the logistical issues that go into staffing, such as rota planning, covering sick days, and managing staff holidays. For the personal skills needed to be the boss of a productive staff, learn from the experts. For the logistical side, you can use rota and holiday management software to make your job easier. If your staff are well-prepared and productive, then your company will have the best chance of being a success.

Marketing and Advertising

Once upon a time, it’s possible that your business may have been able to be successful without much marketing or advertising. Alas, those days have long gone; now, you need to commit considerable resources to your marketing campaign and be advertising in a variety of mediums (print, online, etc). No-one’s expecting you to come up with the world’s greatest advertising campaign, but you should understand what works and what doesn’t.

Inspiring, Productive

The company, especially in the early days, isn’t anything overly abstract: it’s you. The quality and success of your business will rest on your ability to be an inspirational and productive worker. While there are a lot of tasks to take care of, it’s important that you’re always well rested and able to deliver your best work.

What To Outsource

Finally, remember that you don’t need to do everything on your own, and you don’t need always to give your staff tasks. Outsourcing will be an invaluable tool for your business, especially when it comes to repetitive and specialist tasks. Use it wisely, and you’ll be bringing the best on board to your company.

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Finances: Avoid Sorrow And Plan For Tomorrow

money planningFinances are a tough thing to manage. Even if you’re earning a high-figure salary, poor money-management can lead to a very sparse bank account. It’s not so much about the level of your income but what you do with that income. Even on a minimum wage salary, you can make those earnings go a very long way if you screw on your financial head and start to spend or save your money in sensible ways. It’s all about taking a look at all the necessary costs you face in life and then making smart decisions as to what you do with the rest of your money.

Of course, whilst you might be sailing on by smoothly at the moment, you have to think about the future. Earning a lot of money and spending it all is fine today because you’ll get another paycheck in a week. However, you need to start planning ahead for the day on which you retire because very few people want to work for the entirety of their lives. We’ll get onto that in more detail later, as we will with all the other points touched upon briefly in this introduction. If you want to avoid sorrow and start to plan for tomorrow then these sound nuggets of financial wisdom should help you on your way.

Organize your finances.

First of all, you need to get your house in order. “That’s why I clicked on this article,” you say. Fair enough. If you need a little guidance then you should start by making a budget for the month; you can do one weekly but planning for the month is always a nice place to start ( bills such as rent are often faced on a month-by-month basis). Write down how much you earn in a month. If you’re self-employed then write down an average and alter the budget on a monthly basis depending on whether your situation changes. Either way, you’ll end up returning to your budget frequently to make changes when things change in your life; whether you change energy providers, move house, reduce your petrol costs, and so on.

The most important thing is that you estimate how much your necessities cost; rent, food, utilities, everything else we’ve mentioned and anything else you can think of. Once you’ve added up the sum of these things, you’ll know how much money you have to set aside for necessities and how much disposable income you have left over. Don’t exceed this figure and you’ll never end up in debt. It’s that simple. Just don’t spend beyond your means. Cut down on expenses by using less energy around the house or cycling to work instead of wasting money on petrol.

Avoid debt.

Of course, continuing from the point above, if you’ve overspent in the past and had to borrow money to make ends meet then you should dedicate all available earnings to debt repayments; it’s important to pay off your debts in life as soon as possible in order to improve your credit score. Even if you don’t overspend, we all have to borrow money at some point (perhaps it’ll be for a car or a house). The point is that you shouldn’t borrow money to fund bad habits such as poor money-management, excessive shopping, or gambling. Track your expenditures so that you live within your means and your bank account will grow each month, even if only marginally. In terms of the future, you’ll thank yourself tomorrow for doing more to manage your money today. We’ll get onto smart ways to use your “excess income” throughout this article.

Think about your retirement.

It’s so important to plan ahead for your retirement. If you ended up on this article then this was probably already on your mind. You might be worried that you’re not earning enough from your job to provide for you and your family once you stop working. Perhaps your pension plan isn’t looking very good. It’s good to think about these things today because there’s always time to improve your situation before you retire. You might want to look into power of attorney solicitors who can act on your behalf if you’re thinking about a future in which you might not have the mental or physical capacity to manage your personal, business, or financial affairs.

Your retired years shouldn’t be filled with doom and gloom by any means but it’s smart to start thinking about tomorrow. You can make rational decisions regarding your finances today but you have to think about your later years. Will your family be well looked after? Do you want to authorize those close to you to make decisions for you if you no longer can for yourself? Sort out these things today and you won’t have to spend your retirement worrying about money or other things when you should be relaxing and enjoying life.

Get an advisor or an accountant.

Of course, you could go one step further than the suggestion in the point above. Even if you’re nowhere near retirement age yet, why wait until you’re older to start getting good financial advice? As explained throughout this article, you need to start taking action today to protect your finances for tomorrow, so it makes sense to get somebody to start helping you today as well. A financial advisor could help you out if you’re struggling to get your head around proper financial management, even with the advice given so far in this article.

It’s all very well to understand the concept of managing your money but life can get hectic and overwhelming very quickly. An advisor could take a load off your shoulders by teaching you how to better look after your money (and an accountant could help you file tax returns if you need other forms of financial aid). Better yet, there’s great return on your investment here; pay an advisor to help you and they’ll show you smart ways to invest your savings to make more money. Remember, this is in their interests because they’re getting paid to help you; they want you to do well financially. You’ll end up more than making back the money you’ve spent.

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The Golden Rules of Taking Out a Loan

loan timeIf the world was perfect for everyone, no one would ever need to borrow any money. Unfortunately, things just don’t work like that yet – and as long as we have a banking system, it’s unlikely to change. The reality is that we have to borrow money to lead the lives we want. However, there are limits, and many people are guilty of stepping over the mark.

The truth is there are good debts and bad debts, as you probably already know. And even if you are in good enough shape to take out the former, after a few missed payments or a challenging life event, it can quickly turn into the latter.

When it comes to personal loans, the temptation is strong enough to turn heads of even people with the strongest financial constitutions. Advertising is everywhere, and almost all speak to your aspirations and the life you could have – if only you would borrow a few thousand dollars or more.

To make sure you don’t fall into a trap, there are a few things you need to consider when taking out a loan. These golden rules should be set in stone, as when you step outside of them, it’s often the first step down a slippery slope to unaffordable, bad debts. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Always shop around

It doesn’t matter whether you are borrowing money to buy a car, a home, or just pay for something quickly with cash loans, always shop around and look for the best deal possible. You should compare percentage rates for interest, but also check the length of the loan. Sometimes, cheaper interest rates over a longer time period will result in a higher overall cost.

Always check your credit score.

Another thing to consider before applying for a loan is your credit rating. When you make an application and get turned down, your credit score takes a hit. Not only that, however, but when you are attracted by a fantastic looking deal that you see in an advertisement, you have to remember that these deals are only offered to consumers with the best credit scores. If your rating is anything less than perfect, you won’t be offered it, and instead, have to put up with a much more expensive deal than you applied for in the first place. A lot of people fall for this, so ensure your credit rating is up to scratch before you apply.

Always read the small print.

The terms and conditions on loans are notoriously detailed, and the vast majority of borrowers never pay them a blind bit of notice. It’s no surprise – who has time to read the reams of paper that often come with your application form? However, you should make time. Banks and lenders of all varieties depend on your ignorance and lack of time, and will often include some pretty dire conditions that you need to meet to qualify for any of the supposed advantages. Another thing to watch out for is early repayment charges – you should always include them in the overall cost of the loan when you do your initial sums. Ideally, all loans would be free to pay off whenever you want, but the reality is somewhat different.

Consider insurance

Loan insurance gets a bad rep, because of a lot of malpractice in the past. However, it’s a valuable protection if you can find the right deal. For a few dollars a month you can protect yourself in the event you suffer an injury at work or get ill and can’t earn any money to pay the loan back. Again, shop around – there are varying rates from all kinds of lenders and insurance companies, and you will often find it is more expensive to buy insurance from the company offering the loan.

Compare with a credit card.

Another major misconception is that personal loans always have better deals than credit cards. To be fair, this used to be the case, back in the day when credit cards were only for the very wealthy, but times have changed. When you consider the long 0% deals you get on credit cards – some of which go for around 18 months at the moment – they often compare very favorably to a personal loan at, say, 6%. And if you can pay off the card before those 18 months are complete, it won’t actually cost you a penny.

Pro tip: borrow more money

As a rule, you should never borrow more than you can pay back. However, when you consider that banks and lenders will offer lower interest rates for higher loans, wouldn’t it make sense to get the better deal? In short, of course, it would, but you have to have a lot of self-discipline. You could borrow a larger amount of money, only spend what you need, and then pay it back over time using a combination of your personal repayments and the surplus. Over the course of a 4-5 year loan, this could actually save you a four-figure sum, so it’s well worth investigating – if you have the discipline, of course.

Be careful with secured loans.

Secured loans will always give you a fantastic sounding deal. But there is a reason – it’s because you have capital at stake. When a loan is secured against your possessions, lenders tend to sleep easily, content in the knowledge that if you fail to pay, they get your house, car, or treasured objects. Yes, the deals can be tempting. But unless you are 100% sure that you will be able to pay them back. Unsecured loans may attract higher interest charges, but ultimately if you have a problem paying them, there is little a lender can actually do.

Always stake the shortest path.

Finally, whenever you take out a loan, the cheapest option will always be to pay it back as quick as possible. It’s down to your personal circumstances, of course, but if your idea of the perfect loan is that it ends up costing you less, it’s the only way to go.

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