How to Maintain a Good Credit Score

What causes bad credit? Late payments, charge-offs, defaulting on loans, foreclosure and bankruptcies are some of the things that can ruin your credit. An unpaid judgment can also cause your credit score to drop to the point where even an easy personal loan isn’t so easy to get. Dealing with bad credit can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways that you can keep your credit score high.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Check Your Credit Report

It is estimated that 20 percent of people have at least one error on their credit report. If you have a low score, then it may be due to errors on your credit score. That is why it is important to obtain a copy of your credit report. Keep in mind that you can get one free report each year. If you have errors, then you will need to report them to the credit bureaus as soon as possible.

Watch Your Credit Card Balances

A credit card can make or break your credit score. If you keep your credit card balances low, then you can increase your credit score. Paying on time can also boost your credit.

The optimal credit utilization percentage is 30 percent. This means that if your credit card limit is $1,500, then your balance should not be above $500. You can keep your balance low by making multiple payments throughout the months. If you are getting close to the 30 percent limit, then you can ask for a limit increase.

Leave Old Debt on Your Credit Report

Many people remove items that they have paid off from their credit report. However, it is a good idea for you to keep these items on your credit report. Keeping items that you have paid off on your report will help you add points to your credit score.

Pay Bills on Time

Your payment history is one of the main things that affect your credit score. In fact, it determines 35 percent of your credit score. That is why paying your bills on time is one of the best things that you can do for your credit score.

It is important to note that one missed payment can drop your credit score. If you have any missed payments, then you will need to pay them off as soon as possible. Ask your bill collectors to delete past-due accounts after you have paid them off.

Be Careful About Applying for New Credit

You can add points to your credit score by having multiple credit cards on your credit report. However, applying for too many credit cards at one time can cause your credit score can drop. Lenders may also consider this a risk. Many people apply for credit cards in order to supplement their income.

Bad credit is a problem that many people have due to things like late payments, past-due accounts, collection accounts and errors. However, there are ways that you can improve it. You will need to make sure that all credit errors are corrected. You will also need to keep your credit card balances low, pay bills on time and leave old debt on your credit report. Additionally, you will have to be careful about applying for new credit.

5 Keys to Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Successful Business

Starting a side hustle is the perfect way for people to pursue their passion while paying their bills. With hard work and dedication, entrepreneurs can start a business while using their regular income to support their efforts and keep the lights on.

For some, keeping a side hustle is a great way to supplement one’s income while working a full-time job. For others, the goal is to create a full-time endeavor. Here are five keys to turning your side hustle into a successful business.

Get the Right Tools in Place

When you’re building a side hustle, you have wiggle room to try new things, make mistakes, and determine what is going to work best in the long run. Get the right tools in place– particularly the costly ones– when you have another income to support the expense.

Assemble what you need to create professional-looking Self-Employed Invoices and social media graphics. Determine if you need to outsource and purchase a branding consultant and designer. Get those big bucket items handled before attempting to shift from a side hustle to a full-time gig, and you’ll take off some of the pressure to succeed in the early months of your transition.

Set Goals and Deadlines

If you want to successfully shift from the side hustle mentality to that of a full-time entrepreneur, it is critical that you set goals and deadlines for yourself. Remember the SMART goal-setting process: goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

If you decide that you want to make this shift, set a deadline for yourself. You are highly more likely to achieve your goals if you have a perceived deadline, even if you’ve assigned it to yourself. To ensure you meet the goals and deadlines, you must also create an action plan. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Develop Your Time Management Skills

If you are handling both a full-time job and a side hustle, you already have some strong time management skills in your favor. That being said, as you transition into full-time business mode, you’ll need to become even more efficient. Work to develop your time management skills and determine how you will prioritize your tasks.

Many entrepreneurs opt to use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to determine which tasks should be conducted when. With this matrix, you divide tasks into four quadrants:

  1. High Urgency, High Importance – tasks you must do right away.
  2. Low Urgency, High Importance – tasks you should schedule for another time.
  3. High Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you should delegate.
  4. Low Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you shouldn’t bother with.

By breaking these tasks down as such, you ignore petty distractions and put your focus where it should be to reach your goals.

Network Like a Champ

If you haven’t already taken steps to cultivate connections both within your industry and in your community, now is the time to do so. Let people know about your business plans and create a network of people with whom you can consult and build referrals.

It’s worth noting that you may never work with the people you add to your network, but you never know when a potential client will come your way via one of your connections, and a part of building a successful business is having a strong client base.

Prioritize Self-Care

Entrepreneurs face a high potential for burnout and stress. Be sure to set aside time to take care of yourself and do the activities you love, apart from work. Set business hours for yourself, so that you are able to unplug and focus on the joys in life. Take care of your mind and your body so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Turning your side hustle into a successful business will be challenging, but well worth the effort if you go about it the right way. Use these five tips and success is sure to follow.

What is a “Small Business” Work Retreat?

It’s difficult to find the balance between work and your personal life in the startup phase of your business. You fear that if you step away for even a minute, the entire enterprise will flounder and fail. The truth is that there is a lot of risk associated with starting a business. And it could not work out. But you will never know for sure unless you put your whole self into it. However, that could lead to burn out.

Entrepreneurs have drive, but this can be what forces them into a state in which they are unable to enjoy simple pleasures, they end up innocently ignoring friends and family, and can’t ever relax. Walking the line between work and play isn’t simple, especially when there is so much to sacrifice on both sides.

This is where the “work retreat” comes in. It’s a chance for the owner to switch gears for a bit, use a different part of their brain, while remaining productive and checking things of his or her list. It’s a small business owner’s version of a vacation without the feeling of guilt and fear that if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

Here are some things to plan for your “work retreat”:

Accounting with Professionals

If you outsource accounting, most of the time you’ll be communicating with your “guy” online. Look for qualified accounting services in Montreal to grow your business, while also giving you a reason to visit once or twice a year. Set an appointment to discuss ideas, plans going forward, or talk about anything that would benefit from a face-to-face.

Boosting Your Marketing

Marketing ideas require inspiration. Being out and about during a work “retreat” gives you a chance to see your potential audience, observe them, brainstorm ideas and more. Carry around a note-taking device and review your comments at the end of the day, hopefully coming up with something tangible by the end of the week like a campaign or a solution to the marketing block you are currently in.

Getting a Photo Shoot

A photoshoot is always a great excuse to get out to an exotic destination. Plan with a local photographer or bring one along to create some visual content that you can use for the upcoming months. You’ll be “working”, but still experiencing a different scenario than the one you have been stuck in for the last few months.

Finding New Suppliers/Retailers/Partners

Meeting face-to-face and being somewhere in person can really give you a leg up on your business. Whether it’s attending a trade show and looking for suppliers, or visiting potential retail locations, being “on the ground” can give you benefits that an online interaction won’t be able to make up. From feeling materials and seeing them yourself, to shaking hands with an important contact, making a trip can be a great way to combine both business and pleasure.

The day-to-day reality of owning a business is not always sunshine and rainbows. There’s a lot of grinding and a lot of sweat. But by switching gears and going on a “retreat”, not only will your mind have a rest, your business will benefit from the inspiration and tasks that you complete while away.

4 Goals for A Great Retirement

When it comes to retirement planning, you need to do more than figure out how to increase your investments or scale down your expenses; you also need to set some meaningful goals.

Goal setting isn’t something you should do only when you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder or achieve your dream career. It’s something that will also serve you well if you want to enjoy a great retirement.

Without goals, retirement can be challenging. If you have to live frugally, then it’s rewarding to focus on something other than financial affairs. But goals are also important if you have a well-funded retirement, because they let you take full advantage of all the time you now have available.

Bearing in mind the value of goal setting when you retire, here are some worthy goals to consider when you’re planning your retirement:

Goal #1: Provide for your family after you have gone.

Besides creating a will, another way you can provide for you family after you pass away is to get burial insurance. This insurance not only covers the cost of your funeral, but it can also be used to pay other outstanding final expenses like credit card bills, legal costs, and medical expenses. Although the normal purchase range is between $5,000 to $25,000, you can buy coverage up to $50,000. If you review the guide by Policyzip entitled “How Burial Insurance Works,” which can be found under their section on Life Insurance, you’ll discover why this is an affordable way to take care of your last expenses.

Goal #2: Correct Financial Miscalculations

While you can correct financial miscalculations when you retire, it’s best, if you can, to correct them before you retire. Depending on the nature of the miscalculation, you may have more options because you’ll still have a salary. For instance, some financial miscalculations might be not investing enough, investing in a declining sector of the economy, or not diversifying your portfolio.

Goal #3: Find ways to avoid letting your money sit idle

If you’ve been successful in saving a substantial amount for your retirement, you may feel that you’ve taken care of your financial needs. This is a mistake because if you let your money sit in a low-yield account, the rate of inflation will erode its value over time, and this means that it may not be enough to cover future expenses. Explore ways to invest your money, including buying some blue-chip stocks.

Goal #4: Share your wealth of knowledge and experience.

There are probably many things that you could share with others that would enrich their lives. Think about some of the things you have acquired a considerable amount of knowledge about and that others would love to learn. Once you’ve identified what it is that you would like to share, then find some avenues to express your ideas. For instance, you could create instructional lessons on Udemy, give talks at your local library, or start a blog. Depending on what you’re sharing and the avenues you use to share your knowledge, you could monetize your knowledge. For instance, if you’ve worked in the financial sector all your life, you could start a personal finance blog that offers your readers ideas on how to manage their money better. You could then monetize this information by using affiliate links in your blog posts.

To conclude, don’t make the mistake of thinking of retirement as retreating from the world to live a quiet life. If you adopt this attitude, you’ll end up bored and frustrated with all the time you have on your hands. Instead, make some meaningful goals to enjoy your retirement.

5 Ways to Enjoy Your Spring Break

Spring Break is just around the corner, and for some restless college students, it can’t come fast enough.  Having lived through tough exams, late night cramming sessions and last-minute revisions on papers and thesis, students are eager for a break from studying and from the cold of winter.  For many, heading to the tropical climes or straight to the closest beach is all they can think about.  And while they may have fantasies about fruity cocktails with little umbrellas, string bikinis and partying into the wee hours, the reality is that you have to pay to play.   For too many students, this means using their student loans to fund their trips.  As eager as they may be to frolic on the beach, the sobering fact of more student debt should give them pause.  With a little planning, Spring Break can be a time to refresh your mind and relax your body, catch up with friends and visit family.  Here are five ways to make your Spring Break a social and financial success.

  1. Make your travel plans early – You can save a lot of money and headache when you confirm your hotel reservations weeks before leaving. The earlier you book your rooms, the greater your discount is likely to be.

 

  1. Pool your resources -If you know you’re going to travel with friends, don’t forget to allow for extra luggage, sleeping accommodations and the like. Pool your resources and buy bulk shampoo, and other toiletry items you can divvy up among yourselves.

 

  1. Use a Groupon coupon – Rent a car and drive to your destination.  Driving will cost less than flying, and you can share the expenses with friends.  Not only will you have more control over your experiences along the way, but you can often find places where parking is free.  With a dollar car rental coupon you can save as much as $40 off a weekly rental, and even more when you apply a money saving Groupon to your rental fees.

 

  1. Set a spending limit and don’t exceed it. – Spring Break is a time to get away – but not go crazy.  Remember, what goes up must come down.  When you’re talking about your credit card balance, it can take a long time to pay off a few days’ worth of frivolous spending.

 

  1. Bring your student ID – Not only will you need it to verify your identity, you can get local discounts at many places along the way.

3 Tips To Improve Your Money Management Skills

If you’re not adequately handling your finances, you may be stressed out and struggling to keep up with your bills. Although your problem may be due to the fact that you’re not earning as much as you need, some of it may be due to poor personal money management skills.

There are some basic personal finance management techniques that you can quickly learn to begin to feel confident about your ability to manage your finances. Let’s take a look at how to get money for a financial emergency, how to create a budget, and how to build awareness around money.

1. How to get out of a financial emergency.

There’s nothing more distressing than doing your best to make your salary last through the month only to be blindsided by an unexpected high expense.

If, for instance, you notice one morning before you get into your car on your way to work that all four tires of your car need to be changed, then, on average, it could cost you as much as $600 because the cost of tires ranges from $500 to $700. While you might be able to postpone this for a few weeks, the longer you wait, the more you risk having a blowout on the freeway. Since you may only be earning about $300 to $500 a week, with that money going to pay your regular bills, you may be wondering how you’re going to be able to afford to buy new tires.

Fortunately, there are lending companies that will give quick cash loans you can pay back in installments. The approval process is fairly easy and you will receive your money fast. You just need to be employed, have a valid Social Security number, and have an active checking account.

  1. How to create a budget.

In order to create a budget, you need to take the following 7 steps:

  • First, find a system that works well for you. You may want to get a software program that makes it easy to set up your budget. Alternatively, you may prefer complete autonomy in how you organize the budget. In this case, use a spreadsheet. After you’ve opened up a spreadsheet program, put in column headings and then create cells for recording income and expenses and cells for calculating totals.
  • Second, establish what your net income is after taxes. You need to know exactly how much money is coming in every month from all your income sources.
  • Third, make a list of all the ways you spend your money each month.
  • Fourth, create a financial goal to spend less than you earn.
  • Fifth, make a plan to help you reach this goal.
  • Sixth, take a month to track your cash flow.  This first month should be focused on researching your budget numbers.
  • Seventh, keep on improving your budget. Every month, you will get a more realistic idea about your spending habits, and you will get numerous insights on how to manage your money better.
  1. How to raise your money awareness.

In order to improve your habits around money, you need to increase your awareness around money. Specifically, you need to become aware of where your money is going. In order to develop self-awareness, you need to keep track of  the following four things:

  1. How often you sabotage your money plan.
  2. When you confuse your needs with your wants.
  3. The times you succumb to peer pressure, spending money on things that you don’t really want but buy anyway because you are trying to fit in.
  4.  When you abuse your credit card, creating a debt that you won’t be able to pay off during the next billing cycle.

The best way to develop money awareness is to carry a small notebook with you. Simply writing each money mistake you make will build your awareness; and, over time, you will stop making mistakes.

In closing, if you find yourself struggling with money, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with money management because they were taught how to manage their money despite years of formal education. Fortunately, learning these three basic money management techniques just requires time and patience to master.

Making a Study

If you’ve got a spare room in your house, you’re enjoying a luxury few have! Rather than waste it by simply filling it with dusty boxes you never got around to unpacking, you can clear the room out and make it serve a more productive purpose that will make it an asset to the house.

Today we’re looking at the steps you need to follow create a study you can really work in, whether you run a business from home, or simply want somewhere you can work on your life admin in comfort.

The Blank Canvas

The first thing you need to do is make space. If you can, unpack any of the boxes you have stored there and give the items a home, or arrange to donate or dispose of them. If you’re making a study you need a place you can shut out the world and focus, and a cluttered environment actually creates stress, rather than promoting calm.

If you need to keep some of your clutter, or don’t wish to permanently get rid of furniture you’ve cleared out of your nascent study, you might consider considering local storage facilities. byStored storage in London offer additional services like the free collection and delivery of your stored items that mean you don’t have to worry about actually driving your boxes and furniture to the storage facility can get on with the important business of decorating your new study.

Decoration

If your room is large and well lit, decorating it with pale, restrained colours may make it appear bland. If you’re not trying to make a strong statement with this room, and simply want somewhere you can focus, this may suit your purposes. If you’re trying to stamp a little more personality onto this latest addition to your home, it’s worth picking out one wall (likely the one facing the largest window) to feature a more vibrant colour, or a strongly patterned wallpaper.

In a smaller room, bright colours can be overpowering so it’s worth going for lighter colours to create more of a sense of space, and placing mirrors to reflect light.

Equipment

When the paint has dried, you need to gather the necessary equipment, so you can do all the work you need to. A desk and chair are essentials, and it’s worth taking the time and spending the money to some you can use in comfort for extended periods without causing back or neck pain.

It’s also worth getting a printer so you can print important documents without using offsite facilities, and stocking a stationary cupboard as you would at work. If you need to make an unscheduled trip to buy more printer ink, that’s a chance to get distracted and not do the work you urgently need to in your new study.

How to Score the Best Deals on Gadget Insurance

So you have just splashed out on a brand new iPhone and want to insure it in case something happens, but don’t know where to start looking or what you should even be looking for? We can help. These days, many people look into insurance for their recently bought gadgets, what with ever increasing prices and so on. When spending so much money on a device that is really so delicate and easily breakable or lost, protecting it with insurance is really a no-brainer. We are here to help guide you through insurance plans and help you find the best deal on the market.

Where to find the best deals for your smartphone

iPhone insurance

The iPhone is a phenomenon in the tech world, and insurance for these expensive gadgets is so solicited that there are a number of plans out there made especially for them. One of these insurance deals is with Switched On, who offer deals from £4.50 per month. This is the most basic plan that includes accidental damage, liquid damage and cracked screens, the most common problems these days with smartphones. For theft or loss cover, though, you will have to pay a bit more for the ultimate cover plan, which includes everything you could possibly think of or need for £6.50 a month. This is one of the cheapest plans available, with yearly prices from just £54, and is well worth a look.

Samsung insurance

After the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy smartphones are one of the most popular on the market, and there are tons of deals out there specifically made and tailored for these phones. On websites like Money you can find a top 10 list of insurance plans detailing the prices and what exactly is included in the plan. Prices vary depending to what extent you want to insure the phone and what model you have. Here you can really get a good overview and compare the different deals available, and read the conditions of each individual insurance company.

What to look out for when choosing your insurance plan

Always remember to compare prices and policies before contracting an insurance policy, and read the small print. Many insurance companies have special conditions that may not be very clear initially, and if you skip the small print, you may enter into a contract that does not really suit your needs or cover you when you need it to. Other policies may have hidden fees, making the total price way more expensive than it seems, so be smarter than they are and do your research.

Remember that most insurers offer a few different plans. Love It Cover It even offer couple’s insurance! If you just want to insure your phone against water damage, screen breakages and accidental damage, this company offer incredibly good deals coming in at less than £60 a year for iPhones.

Why HR is Good for Your Business

HR is unfortunately one of the most overlooked and maligned departments in the business world. It’s not hard to see why, when looked at from the top down: the head of HR can never report to a CEO about the revenue they’ve brought into the business this year. They’re focussed on regulations and compliance, so they might find themselves in the position of having tell managers ‘no’ to ambitious plans and instead recommending longer and apparently less efficient courses of action.

Writing them off, however, is a path towards failure and low morale. A business that makes full use of its HR team, and goes to the best HR Executive recruiters for its hires will be at a huge advantage. Let’s look at why.

Employee Development

Run badly, an annual appraisal is simply an awkward conversation that employees have with their managers once a year. Getting it right, however is a vital way to identify problems with your business, find employees who could be tomorrows leaders and retain the talent that makes your business unique.

One of the things that drives employees to leave a business is a feeling of stagnation: if they’re not learning anything, and have nothing to aim for they’re likely to look around for greener pastures where they can develop more skills, more responsibilities and of course a bigger pay cheque.

A well run employee development programme uses regular appraisals to find areas where employees want to grow and allows them to develop those skills in the course of the year so they can achieve those aims. This keeps everyone engaged with your business and prevents attrition from dissatisfied employees.

It can also identify problem managers who may need some development and mentoring themselves. If a whole team is rating themselves poorly, and showing signs of unhappiness, that may in fact be a cue that something is wrong with management rather than the individual employees.

Communication

If you think of your C-Suite Executives as the brain of your business as your brain, and your different teams as limbs, HR is the nervous system that connects them all.

Good communication in your business is what allows everyone to work efficiently towards the same goal. Poor communication means wasted effort and resources, and resentment from employees who feel they aren’t being heard, and for whom the decisions coming down from above are opaque and incomprehensible.

Using your HR team to its full effect means your decisions are communicated clearly and people understood what they are doing and why, so they can work with you happily and productively!

How To Find More Time In The Day As A Business Owner

When you are looking to get a hold of your financial life as a business owner and fics your finances, it starts with find more time throughout the day. That is when you figure out ways to earn extra money, stop money-wasting habits and begin to tend to your financial garden. And it starts with being able to take back time from wasteful activities and give it back to your growing business.

Anyone who runs a business knows how much it can take over your life. So to be a successful business owner and to not burn out, you need to take control of your time. Running a restaurant or a mortgage company requires a lot of time, but it should not be all of your time.

Improve Your Business Tech

Whatever kind of business you operate, you are going to need to accept payments. That is where, if you upgrade to SumUp, you can cut your transaction time down and increase your customer satisfaction. SumUp mobile card readers can process an EMV credit card chip quickly and efficiently, leaving you with more time to provide quality customer service.

Get to Know Your Customers

You need a customer data repository that allows you to gather info about your regular customers and be able to serve them better. Knowing your customers better will allow you to tailor your service more easily and encourage repeat business. Since everything is digital these days, whatever software you choose to gather customer data, make sure it can link up with your credit card payment system, so can improve your transaction time.

Get Off Social Media (Too Much)

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be great tools to stay in touch with family and friends or to keep up on important news, but they can also be enormous time wasters that suck away your productivity. While they can be effective marketing tools for your business, you need to have the right scheduling software and content creation services to make sure that you are using them effectively and efficiently.

Scrolling through Facebook, staring at videos and your friend’s kid can be a time suck and it even can affect your mental health. Studies have shown that hours spent on social media can lead to depression and anxiety in vulnerable people. Suffering from those effects can be even more devastating after all the lost time and productivity.

Limit The Netflix During Leisure Time

Binge watching your favorite shows can be fun, but over enough time, it can really eat into your time with family and your brain function. Your sleeping time is valuable for restoring your body after a hard day of work and as a way to stay healthy. When spending too much time in front of the flat screen takes away time that you could be building skills and hurting your sleep, you know it is not worth it. This will give you more time to devote to your business.

When you are more engaged in your business, your profits will grow and you will find more productive things to do with your leisure time.