Posts tagged: expenses

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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Saving Up For Christmas

christmas moneyChristmas is only a couple of months away, and many people are already way into their Christmas shopping. But the real task is budgeting for your perfect Christmas as well as making sure you enjoy the festive season as much as possible.

Work Out What You Can Afford

Before you start planning all of your decorations, food and gifts for everyone you know, first take the time to sit down and look at what you can realistically afford. Think about it this way- Christmas is only one day a year. You don’t want to splash out on 24 hours and regret it for the next year. Be smart and think about how much expendable income you have saved for the festive season.

Stop Buying Unnecessary Presents

Sure, Christmas is a time for puzzle games and silly gifts; but if you are trying to save up and stay smart with your finances, it’s not really a great idea to buy 10 whoopee cushions for your friends. Stick to presents you know your loved ones will love.

Or, if you really hate the idea of not being able to be a bit fun- give yourself and your friends a small budget to stick to for silly presents. Maybe even arrange a secret santa

$100+ in time for Xmas

Yes, that’s right. You can bag yourself some extra cash for the festive season by simply switching bank accounts. Make the switch and get yourself a nice little bonus to go towards your festivities.

Supermarket Saving Stamps

Supermarket saving stamps schemes are used to help families save up for Christmas throughout the year to cut the bow at the end. However, if you are smart about it you could get an extra 4% bonus on your savings in time for Christmas. If you add in a large amount to the card at once, the supermarket will give you a bonus. So pay in, get your extra cash and spend on all of your winter essentials.

Christmas IOU generator

As many of you will know, during December the price of even the simplest item can sky rocket. However, in contrast the prices drop in January. So if you are trying to save up for something big such as a TV or Games Console, just wait for it. Yes, it might mean that the kids are opening an empty box (or a cheaper gift in the meantime) on Christmas Day, but it will save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

Black Friday

When you think of Black Friday, you may have visions of riots in the street and carnage at the supermarket…you wouldn’t be wrong. But you don’t have to step out into no man’s land this November to bag yourself a bargain. Instead, shop online. Sites such as Amazon run week-long events for Black Friday and chop the prices of products by anything up to 80-90%. If you are waiting for a game or DVD release, hold out for Black Friday because the likelihood is that a deal will come on for it.

Sell Your Old Stuff

Out with the old, in with the new. And money goes straight into your pocket ready for the festive season. We get a lot of things around Christmas, and often it can be difficult to move in a sea of gifts for the week afterwards. Get onto GumTree and sell some of your old things to make room for the new stuff, it’ll also mean a nice financial bonus for the festive season.

Home Or Away?

Although staying at home is the obvious choice for most of us, you don’t have to spend Christmas in your house using up all of your own electricity and water. Why not club together as a whole family and rent a lovely cottage or apartment from a site such as Meriton? It will be exciting for the whole family and means that you all club together for a great holiday and amazing memories.

Avoid Expensive Turkey

Now, of course turkey is the star of the show for your Christmas Dinner, but to be honest, you don’t need to splash out for the most expensive brand to get a good quality bird. Try swapping out your usual choice for a lower brand option, you probably won’t even notice the difference!

And there is another option… you could eat a different meat.

‘That’s sacrilege!’ you say- but it is well known that stores will hike up the price of turkey through the winter months because they know people are willing to pay for it. But actually, not everyone likes turkey, and a great alternative would be a beautiful joint of roast beef.

Consider the Risk of Gift Cards

You might think that getting someone you don’t know very well a gift card is much better than buying them a gift that they won’t like, and that can be the case. However, sometimes there can be a few risks with opting for a gift card over money.

• Big Retailers can go under. It’s happened before, and it could happen again. When a retailer declares bankruptcy, they will stop accepting gift cards as payment.

• Expiry Dates – always check that there is a good amount of time for the recipient to use the card.

Kids Don’t Care

If you have children, you’ll know that you could buy them the most expensive and elaborate toy for Christmas and they will still play with the box. Children don’t care how much you’ve spent on decorations, how many presents they have in front of them or whether you’ve bought a budget turkey. For kids, it’s the magic of Christmas and the thought of Santa visiting which makes it special.

So save up your cash for a rainy day and keep it simple. Put out a cookie and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer, read them a bedtime story and sleep safe in the knowledge that you can have a perfect family Christmas without spending all of your savings.

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The Best Financial Advice For College Students

money for studentsDespite all their partying and endless nights of fun, college kids actually have it rough – financially speaking, anyway. It’s a tough period as students have a lot to pay for, and not a lot of money to pay for these things.

As such, if you’re a student, here’s some of the best financial advice you’ll ever read:

Make As Much Money As You Can

The grind never stops – or at least it shouldn’t stop – during your college years. Any opportunity you have to make money, take it! You will need money now more than any other time in your life. If you’re earning while in college, you can start paying off some of your student loan debt while you study. This lowers your interest rates and means you have less to pay when you graduate. It’s also mentioned on businessinsider.com that the earlier you start to pay, the faster you can pay your debt off. Plus, it’s always handy to have some disposable income for college essentials.

Find a part-time job in the town near where you’re attending college, or look for jobs around campus. Some final year students will often pay other students to take part in research projects or to be test subjects for them. The way I see it, this is basically free money for a student, so you should do it!

Raise Your Credit Score

College is usually a good indicator that life is getting serious and it’s time to do some adult stuff. One of those things is raising your credit score. Do this during college, and you can leave with a very good score that opens your world to many possibilities.

You can raise your score in various ways, but there are two main ways a college student can do this. The first is to use a credit card responsibly to build up your creditworthiness. It’s mentioned on studentcredit.cards that some companies offer credit cards with low-interest rates specially for students. The second thing you can do is avoid going into your overdraft and taking ages to get out of it. This doesn’t make you seem very creditworthy, and your score won’t grow.

Learn How To Budget

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most people haven’t budgeted before they go to college. You don’t really have any need to before then, your parents tend to take care of everything. Now, you’re on your own, and you have expenses to pay, and you want a social life too.

So, you have to learn to budget your money. Do the math, work out how much you have, how much you need to spend, and how much you’ve got left over. The money you need to spend is essential payments you know you have to make, such as your tuition fees and accommodation costs. What you have left over will be split up into food money, toiletry money, and so on. Stick to your budget, and you will make it through college without much financial trouble.

Don’t become one of the many college students that manage their money badly. Work on improving your financial life while you study, as well as setting yourself up for a less stressful financial life after college.

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Your Flexible Friend? Four Things That You Should Know Before Getting a Credit Card

before getting a credit cardIf you’re thinking about getting your first ever credit card, then it may just seem like another way of spending money and making purchases. But in reality, and something that is often forgotten about, it can be much, much more. If you use a credit card wisely, it can help to give your credit score a boost. If you weren’t aware of that, though, then it could damage your credit score without you even realizing it. Experian.com explains that a credit score can be an influence when it comes to things like mortgages, loans, and even a new cell phone contract, you want to make sure that your score is a positive one.

So, what are the other things you should know before getting yourself a credit card? Here are some things to be thinking about or finding out the answer to before you commit to a credit card.

You Should Know What a Credit Card Is

It might silly, but you’d be surprised at just how many people think that a credit card is like a debit card. In the ways you physically use it, they are basically the same. But in terms of money, they couldn’t be more different. A credit card is like a small loan essentially, that you have been approved for. But you have to pay it off each month. Otherwise, it costs you more than it would have been if you’d used your debit card.

You Should Know Why You Want a Credit Card

If you’re looking to get a credit card, simply because you find yourself in your overdraft each month, then that is not the wisest of reasons to get one. If you’re looking to get it to help build a credit score and to practice discipline with money, then that will stand you in much greater stead.

You Should Know How To Budget

Again, in order to make your credit card work for you, then it is a good idea that you know how to budget. A credit card can be helpful when you don’t have money right now, but you have some coming in. You need to know your finances well, as well as being able to budget, to really make your card work for you. If not, it can spiral out of control, and the next thing you know, you could be looking at a site like consolidate.loan in order to help you to consolidate your credit card debt. So budget, know your finances and pay off your card as soon as you have the money to do so.

You Should Know About Interest Rates

If you are getting a credit card, then you need to know all about interest rates. What interest rate does the card you have, or are looking at, have? If you don’t pay off your card in full each month, then what will it mean for your finances? How much will it end up costing? A credit card only works for you, if you don’t have to pay any interest.

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The Business Costs Startups Should Never Skimp On

invest in start upsAs a startup owner, chances are that you don’t exactly have a huge and unlimited pool of money at your disposal and it’s only natural, and sensible, that you should try to make savings wherever possible if you want to be in the best possible financial situation 12 months from now, but there are some things that startups just should not even think about skimping on.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you MUST invest in if you want your business to be a success commercially and financially:

Reliable IT Services

So much of what we all do now is done at a computer, tablet or smartphone, and online is the space that modern businesses really need to conquer. What this means for you as a startup owner, is that you really cannot afford to skimp on reliable IT services. If you cut corners in this department, not only could you lose money when your network goes down, but you could actually risk losing sensitive data, and that could get you into a whole lot of trouble, not to mention cost you a whole lot of cash. It really isn’t worth the risk, especially when you can find great IT services which are moderately priced.

Data Backup

It’s also sensible to invest in a good data backup system, preferably in the cloud, so that should your website be hacked and your data lost, you will be able to instantly recover it. You can backup your data securely for as little as $10 per year, so it really would be foolish not to do so, especially when a loss of data really can cripple a small business.

Great Design

A lot of what determines whether or not a business will be successful, rightly or wrongly, is how attractive its brand is. Think of all the massively successful companies out there; your Google’s, Coca-Cola’s and Nikes and you’ll notice they all; have one thing in common – an instantly recognizable brand. If you want to be in their league someday, you need to invest in great design for your website, logo, business cards and, where applicable. Your products.

High-Quality Web Hosting

A lot of small business owners opt for the cheapest web hosting package they can find available to them. This is understandable, after all, hosting is hosting, right? Wrong! Very wrong! You see, a lot of the cheaper hosts go offline a lot, and when your website is down, that means you are losing money. Not only that, but a poor host could mean a slow website which will put customers off and prevent your media from effectively loading. Factor in the time you spend sorting it out, and the losses to your company could be huge.

Web Design

As well as putting a great web hosting package in place, you should also invest some of your startup capital in creating a website that looks beautiful and performs flawlessly. In the 21st Century, your website is often the first thing about you that the consumer will see and if it looks awful, well, they’re hardly going to have much confidence in your products and services are they? Don’t make the mistake of using a basic template when even just a little investment in a custom solution can be all that it takes to make that sale!

Creative Content

Naturally, you’ll want to put some content on your website so that people can actually find your company. If you want that to happen, it pays to invest in high-quality content written by professional copywriters, either on staff or freelance. If you do this, you can bet that you’ll make your money back and then some in the fullness of time.

Customer Service Training

Most startup owners are so focused on the future and how they want their business to be a year, two years or even ten years down the line, that they often lose sight of the things that need to be done now to get them there. One such thing is high-quality customer service training.

You see, although customer service might not seem like your most pressing issue right now, or even something you can justify using the business credit card on, it is actually one of the most vital tools in your arsenal. After all, your customers are the people who will make or break your business, and without them, you won’t even have a business at all. Once you realize this, it’s well-worth taking the time to invest in the right training so that your employees always treat your customers right.

Legal Counsel

We all know that legal fees are expensive, lawyers aren’t exactly known for being poor, after all. However, there is absolutely no way of getting around the fact that, if you want to start a successful business and avoid future financial difficulties and even bankruptcy, you need to invest in good legal counsel when you set up your business. If you don’t do this, you could end up making a mistake somewhere down the line and getting sued and, as I’m sure you will know, the cost of litigation, not to mention the cost of compensation should you lose a case, can be astronomical.

Great People

You can try, but I would bet against you starting a successful new company without a few good people by your side to help you along the way. Every company’s biggest cost is its payroll and hiring more employees than the minimum or those who don’t exactly come cheap might seem like a good way to cut business costs, but if you want your company to grow, you need to invest in the most creative, hardworking qualified people and you need to invest in enough people so that none of you are spread too thin.

As the old cliche says “Sometimes, you have to speculate to accumulate.” This is something that is certainly true in the startup world, and especially when it comes to these particular things.

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