Expenses You Can Look to Reduce this Year

While you could look to an opinion outpost to give you all of the answers, the truth it it’s up to you to make your own financial decisions and in order to free up extra money each month so that you can build an emergency fund to give you a cushion in case of unexpected expenses, not to mention fund your retirement account so you are prepared when you do finally decide to walk away from work, you need to reduce monthly expenses right now.

Get Rid of Cable

This may be a tough one to swallow, but think about how much TV you actually watch, or better yet, how many channels you actually sit down for, not including flipping around for what is most likely “nothing on” anyways, or a string of commercials.  If you can spring for a streaming service for around $10 a month you can still watch quality shows, even getting an HD antenna so you can still get local channels, it’s probably closer to a reality that you can cut the cable cord and go ahead and save yourself at least a hundred dollars a month.

Reduce Going Out to Eat

This may be more difficult than getting rid of cable, is having someone serve, prepare, and clean up after you when you go out to eat.  The problem is that the costs add up pretty quickly and feeding yourself, let alone an entire family can just be a waste compared to what it would cost if you just went to the grocery store and prepared your meals at home.  Even stopping for coffee can add up over a course of a month so you can even time for your coffee to be brewed by the time you are ready to walk out the door for work in the morning.

Limit Impulse Purchases

Think of when you are at the grocery store without a list, walking up and down each aisle, loading any item into your cart that looks good, especially if you go on an empty stomach, everything looks great, and pretty soon you’re paying through the roof compared to what you had planned, and by the time you get home you wonder why you bought all of these items that now not only hurts your wallet, but also your waistline with all of the junk food purchases that you made.

Boost Your Credit Score

You may not think that credit score has a lot to do with monthly expenses, but think about the bills that are due each month when it comes to the mortgage, any outstanding loans, or interest that you’re paying on a credit card balance that you carry over each month.  By improving your credit score, you can take advantage of the best interest rates on the market and lower your monthly payments if you refinance, take out a new loan to pay off the existing, or get a better credit card and cut up the old one, especially if that new card has rewards that you can earn cashback.

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.

Be Frugal and Avoid Just Being Cheap

Living the frugal lifestyle is a great way to free up extra money each month.  After all, it’s important to build an emergency fund of a few months’ worth of expenses to give yourself a cushion if any large unexpected charges come in, a lowes build and grow, or being able to float yourself for a few months in case of a sudden job loss, not to mention save for retirement, which will come quickly and you don’t want to be unprepared.  There is a line to cross though from being frugal, to well, just being cheap.

Have Proper Tipping Etiquette

If you have been out with a group for dinner and drinks and you just decide to split up the bill evenly, there always comes to a point where you are still short when factoring in a tip, where one or two always short money for a tip and others have to throw in a few extra dollars to make up for it.  Unless service was just terrible I can see dropping down what you were going to leave, but otherwise it should be standard to leave at least 20%, otherwise maybe you shouldn’t be going out.

Keep the Free Samples to a Minimum

Going to places like Costco where they have free samples available in virtually every aisle on the weekends takes the burden away of going shopping and fighting crowds a little, but there those that crowd around the toaster oven waiting for the fresh batch to come out, and when they do, basically take the whole tray back for them and their mooching family members as well.  Be cautious, grab one and keep shopping, they are samples for you to try, not providing a substitute for buying lunch.  After all, it is to entice you to buy the product.

Cutting the Cord but “Borrowing” Passwords

With the price of cable continuing to go up every year, not to mention if you really sit back and think about the number of channels you actually do watch in a given day, probably doesn’t add up for the need to continue to pay a couple hundred dollars a month so you may decide to cut the cord.  While that is all good, you should still buy an HD antenna to get local channels and then subscribe to the many $10 a month streaming services, but it is those that cancel cable and borrow your Netflix password that it crosses from being frugal to being very cheap.

Regifting

As you get older it really does provide more satisfaction to give someone a gift instead of receiving one, and I’m finding myself putting more thought into gifts each year and gone are the days of gift cards.  What is annoying those are the clear regifted items that just make you cheap.  I think of the movie Old School where Frank keeps trying to give away his bread maker that he got as a wedding gift.  It’s probably better to not give a gift at all instead of one day being caught for regifting.

Focus on Raising Your Credit Score in 2018

There’s plenty of talk about a resolution to lose weight, but what about your finances?  How about your credit score?  Those seems to be targets that are more important than probably losing ten pounds for beach season.  Instead of spending your days asking what a aaa membership cost, how about taking a hard look at your credit score and look for ways to improve it, so you can take advantage of the best interest rates on the market when looking for a mortgage, loan, or a new credit card.

Review Your Credit Report

There is so much fraud these days that you never know who has your information at this point, so it’s a good idea to check to make sure that your credit report is up to date, and more importantly, accurate.  The three major credit bureaus will provide a free copy of your credit report once a year so you can review, although it will not have your score.  You can see your credit score month over month on your credit card statement, which now lists the score each month so you can make sure it’s trending in the right direction.

Never Miss a Payment Due Date

One of the most influential pieces of your credit score is history.  Now paying past the due date will not hit your credit, although you could be in for a late fee or interest rate spike.   Any late payments that are thirty days late and more will severely damage your score so it’s always important to make sure they are paid by the due date, if not earlier.  The more you continue with on-time payment you should see your score rise as you are establishing a positive credit history, showing lenders that you are a responsible borrower.

Eliminate Debt

Just as important to your score as payment history is the amount of debt you carry, in other words, the credit utilization between the balances and the overall credit limits that you have.  If you have, say, multiple cards but only have a balance on one, your score should be improved instead of maxing out one card.  The more you pay down your debt to the overall credit limit the more you will continue to see your score improve, and not only that, less interest payments that you will need to make once you get rid of your debt and are in the clear going forward.

Consolidate Balances

Whether it is taking out a new credit card offer for 0% APR to transfer balances, or even taking out a debt consolidation loan, by weighing the pros and cons being having the debts paid off sooner than making minimum payments vs, cost, it may make sense to combine your balances and consolidate debt so that you can get a handle and finally be debt free.  Once debt is paid off you can focus on putting your recently freed up money to more important areas such as building an emergency fund and saving for your future.

Why You Should Use a Credit Card for Christmas Shopping

One can argue that you should use a credit card for all purchases you make in a given month, but if you are afraid to totally rely on a credit card I don’t blame you, after all, it takes discipline to keep the balance down enough so that you can pay it off entirely by the statement due date, otherwise interest starts to incur.  If you want to try out baby steps and just use for Christmas shopping only, then you can start to see why using credit cards actually make plenty of financial sense.

Better Fraud Protection

When you use your debit card and your card gets compromised, your entire checking account could potentially get wiped out if you don’t catch the fraudulent charges in time.  Sure, you can dispute them, but what if you have bills pending that need to be paid.  The delay in getting the disputed charges returned to you could put your finances in jeopardy, so at least with a credit card if your information is taken and charges are made, at least they’ll remain pending until resolved without putting you on the hook.

Build Up Rewards

Probably the best reason to use a credit card and why it can be argued to be used for all purchases are the credit card rewards.  Now I don’t know if say a victoria secret credit card would give the same perks as the other cards out there, but by making purchases that you would normally make anyways you can earn points to redeem for gift cards to restaurants, earn points for free hotel rooms, or just accumulate dollars that you would receive in a check back to you once a year, either way, not using a credit card is like essentially leaving free money on the table.

Improve Credit Score

You may that that credit score is not important, but if you ever want to buy or refinance your home, get a personal loan, car lease, or even employment, then credit score really does matter when it comes to showing if you are a responsible borrower or not.  While it will not help your score to carry a balance over each month as that would add to your credit utilization, by charging and paying off each month it can not only improve your score with on-time payments, you can also gain credit line increases as well which will add to your overall credit available.

Simplifies Spending

It can be a lot to juggle cash, debit, credit, while staying within a budget and not going overboard.  After all, if you continue to pile up the charges sooner or later you will have to pay them off, so why not simplify purchases with say a credit card.  You can earn rewards while you are making purchases, give yourself a little grace period of paying back, and only have to track purchases on one account and statement to review line by line to see what you purchased the month prior to see any room for improvement.

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!

Money Moves to Make Now to Improve Finances

As we wind down 2017 it can be a great time to reflect back on what we accomplish this year, and what we did not.  Like most of us who create a resolution probably stuck with it for a while, only to give up and go back to living normal life.  While most strive to lose weight, others can focus on getting finances in order.  There is still time to make good on your resolution and set yourself up for success in 2018.

Finalize Tax Write-Offs

Whether you are not sure if you are going to owe and want to make the most of your return, are feeling charitable, or it’s ok to admit a combination of both, now is the time to finalize tax write-offs before the year ends, so there are still a couple weeks.  Take a look in your closet for clothes you no longer wear, check the basement storage for items that may have collected dust, or kitchen items that you are needing to replace soon, all can be great items to donate to the less-fortunate and get a tax write off in return.

Create a Budget

It’s no surprise the most American’s do not use a budget, two-thirds in fact, so if you are in a place where you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, it may be time to look to free up extra money and keep a clamp on spending, where you may have not in the past.  Who knows, you may be finding out that more money is going out than coming in, and find yourself getting further into debt.  By creating a budget, you can work on allocating funds to monthly bills, food, gas, and spending, and continuing to tweak to make sure there isn’t too much/too little.

Look to Reduce Expenses

If you are looking to free up extra money each month, if you can reduce the amount you’re spending, both in monthly bills and spending money, you’ll be on the right track to see the savings adding up.  Whether it’s going grocery shopping instead of eating out, checking is lyft cheaper than uber, or cutting your cable bill altogether, you may have to think outside the box, while making sacrifices along the way in order to reach the final goal, which is having no debt and having enough saved up for in the future during retirement.

Increase Savings Contributions

While retirement may be decades away still, that is all the more reason to start saving now, the earlier the better, so that it can continue to grow over time.  Whether you are not contributing anything, to having a large percent of your pay going, now that the new year is coming soon, it’s time to increase contributions even further, even by a percent, so you don’t feel the burden as much, as your money is leaving your check and going into your retirement account.  I know you’d rather spend it now, but you will need it to live off when you are finally ready to walk away from work.

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.

How Credit Card Debt Can Quickly Spin Out of Control

In this cashless society, relying pretty much on credit and debit cards, especially with the ease of purchases between online shopping and swiping in-store, as the purchases continue to pile up, so does the credit card debt.  When you carry a balance over to the next month is when things can start to add up, now that you are paying interest and the monthly payment will need to be large enough to cover interest and chip away at the balance, before credit card debt can spiral out of control.

Charging to Earn Rewards

Rewards is probably one of the best perks when it comes to using a credit card, earning free money on the purchases you would be making anyways, whether that is in the form of airline miles, points to redeem gift cards, or even get a cashback check each year.  The problem is, once you start to see the rewards adding up, you may be tempted to start making extra purchases just for the rewards.  If you start to carryover a balance and pay interest, that would probably outweigh any rewards you would get in return anyways.

Lack of Emergency Fund

You never know when a large unexpected charge will come up, whether it’s an auto repair, home appliance replacement, or vet bill, that can put a strain on you if you don’t have the available funds and need to put on a credit card, trying to figure out how and when to pay back.  If you can set aside a few months’ worth of reserves, that would give yourself a nice cushion in case something comes up.  From there, saving your retirement would be your next bet, whether that’s a  401k vs ira, it may be best to consult a professional on your best option.

Using Credit Instead of Cash

When you pay with cash you actually see the money leaving your hand and going into the cash register, watching your hard-earned money leave pretty quickly, probably enough to make you wonder if the purchase is worth it in the first place, going back to the days when you would actually think about it and come back to finally make the purchase.  These days you can just swipe your card with no worries, that is until the bill comes in and scares you, but there really is no second guessing when it comes to swiping your credit card.

Not Tracking Purchases

If you don’t know where your money is going, now is the perfect time to take a look at last month’s credit and debit card statements and actually go line by line and see what and where all of your purchases were.  From there you can take a look to see which ones were necessary monthly bills and expenses, and what probably could have been avoided.  A good place to start would be looking at food expenses, specifically going out to eat, something you could have avoided if you would have gone grocery shopping and prepared your meals at home, for a fraction of the cost.

How to Confidently Invest in Forex

Forex, short for foreign exchange market, had gained momentum in the past few years. Previously Forex was traded mainly by large companies or those with experience and understanding of the foreign exchange market.

What has stimulated this change? One answer is that average investors now have more information available to them than ever before. In addition, the internet has not only provided a wealth of knowledge but it has also made access nearly instantaneous.

Returns with Forex, although riskier than some other investments, can be high. But of course, not all Forex investors are as successful as others.

This may lead you to wonder, then, how to confidently invest in Forex so you can have success as well.

1. Educate Yourself

Whenever I lack knowledge about anything I usually follow the example of Hermione Granger in the well-known Harry Potter series. Granted, I don’t head to the library of a magical castle. But I do use other available tools to learn more about the subject.

Generally my method of educating myself is to look it up on my computer or smart phone. There’s no risk in learning about Forex, so read all you can.

Something else you must do is to have patience with yourself. You are most likely not going to learn how to trade Forex confidently overnight.

2. Get Help

If educating yourself about Forex doesn’t feel like enough, talk to a friend or somebody else you trust who has attained their investing goals trading Forex.

Another choice would be to hire an investment expert. This person should be educated in the field and usually works with investing daily. They will know all of the fine details of investing and can guide you as you delve into this new area of investing.

Obviously there will probably be a fee for their services. It can be worth it, though, in order to learn what you need to confidently invest in Forex trading.

3. Trade Virtually

A really great way you can gain confidence in Forex trading is to trade virtually first before trading in real-time. Choosing one that utilizes a robo-advisor can help you build your self-assurance and remove the guesswork.

There are some questions you should ask about virtual accounts that can help you. One is how long you can trade on the virtual account. For instance, if you have to start over with a new account every month it is harder to see progress.

Something else you could ask is if you can make the size of the demo account comparable to what you may actually be starting with. If the demo account is $100,000, as an example, but you only have $1,000 of real money to invest it isn’t very comparable.

4. Start Small

You could start with a small amount of money when you begin trading Forex rather than starting out risking thousands. Trading in this way is just one more method to help you confidently invest in Forex.

Furthermore, some people don’t have a lot of money to start out with. If you are one of them you may not want to risk your entire life savings on a high risk, high return investment. Instead, start small.

Despite the risks you can see that it is possible to confidently invest in Forex. Educate yourself, get help if you need it, trade virtually, and start your real account small and you will have a greater chance at building wealth for your future.