Finance

Cutting Summer Electricity Bills

Cutting Summer Electricity Bills

Finance, Seasonal
In the summer your home will become unpleasantly hot and the vast majority of us will immediately resort to turning the air conditioning or fans on for 8 hours a day. The electricity used up by cooling your home is obviously significant and the bill from your electricity supplier will be large too if you do not find a way to cut back on usage. This article considers how you can reduce your electricity, and thus your bills, in preparation for the summer.

Create Isolation Points

Cooling your entire home is a mammoth task and it is a move that will greatly increase your electricity bills. There is no need, however, to cool your entire property during the day if you will not be using all of it. For most people the vast majority of the home will be unused throughout the day, so paying large amounts to cool the whole property is unnecessary. By creating areas that can be isolated by closing an insulated door, you can make it so that you need only cool one room instead of trying to reduce the temperature of the other 90% of your home that you are not using.

Giving Your Children Financial Security

Giving Your Children Financial Security

Finance
We all want to provide the best possible start to for our children and this usually involves some good financial planning. However, it also means protecting your family investments and savings from losses and unexpected costs. Even if you save and invest wisely, unexpected financial strain from the economy or form a loss of employment can quickly drain your money away.

Life Insurance

You should consider finding some good life insurance in order to protect your family from the loss of income if you, or your partner, pass away unexpectedly. For a relatively low cost you can make sure that your children are protected against any debts you might have such as a mortgage or any personal loans. While it is not nice to think of your death as anyone’s profit, you still need to think of your family’s survival.

Planning Your Own Funeral

You should also be planning you and your partner’s funeral well in advance and consider inquiring about funeral cover. A funeral can cost a small fortune, and if you have not saved or insured yourself then someone will still have to pay for the costs involved. Even funeral plots are becoming increasingly in demand and therefore more expensive as space in cemeteries is at a premium.

How to Cope With the Rising Cost of Living

How to Cope With the Rising Cost of Living

Finance
The cost of living in the UK is rising rapidly and looks set to continue to do so. Much as we’d all love to turn back the clock to more prosperous times it just isn’t possible, so we need to find ways to reduce our expenditure instead. The cost of living is increasing at a faster rate than the average income, so it really is time to look seriously at household budgets and cut out the fat:

Prioritise

There are some things in everyone’s life which just aren’t necessary. Whether it’s spending £30 instead of £50 on a manicure, or buying a £3 coffee each morning, there are areas in everyone’s life where they can cut back without sacrificing their standard of living. Certain expenditures like school supplies for your children are essential, but you may have to start buying plain pencils instead cartoon character stationary for example.

Stop losing money

You may think that you don’t lose money but the average Brit is unable to account for £59 a week. This expenditure on ‘unknown items’ adds up to over £3,050 a year! Most people blame it on unexpected supermarket spending and nights out, but it’s very important to keep track of every cent in this climate. A somewhat painful but necessary process is the tracking of your family outgoings. Sitting down with your partner and honestly reviewing where your money is going will almost certainly make your realise a disproportionate area of spending which can be easily rectified.

Most Common Investment Mistakes

Most Common Investment Mistakes

Finance

Investment mistakes can happen all the time, it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced stockholder or a novice investor. However, there are some basic investment mistakes that are very common amongst investors.

You should try to avoid:

1. Investing Too Much and Without Knowledge

Investing is always a gamble; it is a strategic activity that requires patience and also risk. Investing too much money means that if you don’t play your cards right, you could potentially lose it all.

The key with any investment, particularly when starting out, is to start small. Invest only a small portion of the money you have (if at all) and use this to gain experience in the marketplace before you invest more.

Buying gold bullion or investing in the next big technology company may sound exciting, but investing before you’re ready can lead to some disastrous results. Many beginner investors either invest too much or fail to obtain the appropriate knowledge and training before diving into the marketplace. Those looking to invest in currencies, for example, will benefit from forex training (or similar) and will have more potential for returns than somebody simply “guessing” at the market.

How to Have Financial Freedom in Your Business

How to Have Financial Freedom in Your Business

Business, Finance
Financial freedom is something we all strive for, both in our personal lives and for our businesses. But with the never-ending spiral of needing to spend money to make money, it can seem impossible to ever achieve financial stability for your business. While it may be a long, hard road, the following tips will help you slowly make your way towards having financial freedom for your business.

Set Clear Goals and Make an Action Plan

If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, it will be very difficult for you to ever make it there. How much money do you want your business to earn? What is your plan of action to achieve that amount? What resources to you have to help you? Write up a detailed plan of action that includes your destination and how you will get there so that you can work towards reaching your goal every day. Even if your goal is still far off, you can always set short-term goals as you go.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget and sticking to it is an important step along the path to financial freedom. You absolutely need to keep track of your money so that you will always know where to cut back and how much money you have to play with. Be completely honest when you create your budget, and constantly refer to it and update it as necessary.

Preparing for the Cost of Home Ownership

Preparing for the Cost of Home Ownership

Finance

From the cost of your mortgage to the routine maintenance that every home requires, being a home owner comes with multiple obligations, not to mention numerous expenses. Nevertheless, having a home you can call your own comes with plenty of advantages, both personal and financial.

Still, it pays to be prepared.

Here are some ways to ready yourself for the challenges, and rewards, of being a home owner.

Evaluate your needs

Before you look into buying a new home, consider your needs. Are you single or in a relationship? Are you planning on having children? How do you see yourself living for the next decade or so? Do you want a second floor or would you prefer to have a basement?

Purchasing a house is a lasting decision and one that should reflect your current needs and your anticipated needs in the near future. New home owners often get themselves into trouble by not understanding their needs. They either over-commit and land themselves in financial trouble, or under commit and live in near poverty for months.

What Types of Damage Does Home Insurance Cover?

What Types of Damage Does Home Insurance Cover?

Finance, Home & Garden
While every home needs to have at least the basic amount of home insurance coverage, you may need more depending on your home, property or lifestyle. To be able to make the right decisions regarding how much coverage you need, it’s important to know what kind of damage you are already covered for. The following is a list of the most basic types of home insurance coverage that are offered in standard policies.

Dwelling Coverage

The most obvious form of home insurance coverage is for the dwelling itself. Insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home in the event that it is damaged or lost due to wind, hail, lightening or fire. Depending on the insurance policy, you may not be covered for damages that come from earthquakes or floods, so you may need to have it added if it’s relevant to you.

Coverage for Other Structures

Detached garages, granny flats, sheds and fences are typically covered under most standard home insurance policies should they be damaged and need repair. You need to check with your policy to find out how much is actually covered, because the typical coverage for these other structures is generally only around 10 per cent of your dwelling coverage.

Consolidating Your Business Banking

Finance, Technology
With the variety of ways in which customers pay for goods and services, along with a range of financing products and loans, it’s not uncommon for businesses to review their business banking products and discover that it has become far more complicated than they’d realised.

A disorganised banking system can hinder your business more than help it. From everyday banking products to small business loans, this article looks at some of the products and services you may be able to consolidate and simplify in terms of business banking.

Everyday Business Banking Services

Most businesses probably use an everyday transaction account for receiving and making payments. Debit cards or credit cards can be linked to these to simplify bill payments or to provide travelling staff with payment options.

Many everyday business banking accounts offer chequebook services. You could also have a linked account specially for keeping your GST or a trust account if you work with client funds held in trust.

Merchant services for business are those that enable businesses to accept card payments from customers. The bank can provide you with terminal facilities that facilitate these transactions. Some lenders provide smartphone or tablet apps, which give you the choice of accepting payments on the go.

Having Financial Security in Your old Age

Finance
The biggest worry for most middle aged people is how secure they will be once they hit old age and retirement. Quite often, people struggle with their finances right up until they retire and then have to survive on even less income. So how can you better organize your income and investments now to better prepare for old age?
  • Hire a financial planner.
  • Develop a short, medium and long term budget.
  • Protect yourself with insurance.
  • Diversify your portfolio.
  • Develop streams of passive income.

These five tips will result in you having more money to properly plan for your retirement that will have its own specific concerns.

Planning for Your Health

The biggest change once you hit old age is the level of health you are likely to experience. While health insurance and even life insurance can help you and your partner financially, you will also need to be planning specific health regimes and treatments you might need. This can include:

  • Contingency plans for worsening health.
  • Plans for regular exercise routines.
  • Proximity of homes to medical specialists.
  • Availability of dedicated nursing home places.

While you are unlikely to need specific medical care in your home straight away, living in an area that has an abundance of home nurses is also beneficial. For all of these things you will need either money or coverage from government programs or insurance.

The Financial Burdens of a Funeral

Finance
Funerals are expensive things. Whilst it is possible to opt for the bare minimum, this is not the right way to see off a dearly beloved family member. Even the most basic of funerals will cost you a few thousand dollars and a relatively nice one will cost you between £10,000 and £15,000. Unless this sort of money is loose pocket change for you, then it seems sensible to prepare for the burden of these costs.

Thankfully, it is possible to make arrangements so that your family does not need to scrabble for cash in the weeks after your death, just so they can give you a good send off. This article considers options for paying for your funeral upfront, so you family doesn’t have to.

Life insurance

Life insurance is an aspect of life that becomes very frustrating. It is something that you have to pay for, but which will never directly give you any benefit. What it does give you, however, is peace of mind in knowing that even after your death, your family will be ok.

Insurance of this kind should cover the value of your mortgage and provide enough cash reserves to leave your family comfortable after your wake. This insurance can also be used to pay for your funeral expenses, but there are some things to consider in this case.

When looking for your life insurance quotes it is important to take note of the payment periods that can be expected. In some cases the period for payouts will be much greater than the time before the funeral. This means that you would not be able to use these cash reserves to pay for it. Similarly, if there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, then payouts can be delayed for as much as a year or more.

Recovering from an Unexpected Expense

Finance
We’ve all been confronted with a surprise bill at one time or another in our lives. A major car repair, a damaged roof, an unexpected medical treatment or some other large bill can throw us off course, as far as our budgets are concerned. If you’re wondering how you can recover from an unexpected expense, check out the following three-step guide to help you get back on track fasterand to reduce the risk of unexpected expenses.

1. Exploring Your Current Savings Options

As a consumer, you always have a choice when it comes to saving, and household expenses are an obvious starting point. As a quick illustration, you could compare the current rates that power companies are offering, and be willing to make a switch if you see a better rate. Similarly, whether you have one of the variable or fixed-rate home loans, you could think about refinancing your mortgage if that will help you realise more savings than on your current loan.

Doing this – cutting your spending immediately – will enable you to pay off your surprise bill more quickly. You can also use this opportunity to build a good savings habit that will see a more successful budgeting for other unexpected events or budget blowouts in the future.

Rewards for Meeting your Financial Goals

Finance
Rewarding yourself for meeting or exceeding your financial goals will keep you motivated in continuing to save money and sticking to your budget without the risk of burning out prematurely. The key is to find inexpensive rewards that you can splurge on and will not sink your budget or ruin your saving efforts.

Different financial goals

Whatever your financial goal is, it’s definitely worth treating yourself with small or medium rewards along the way depending on your progress. Once you’ve ultimately met your goal, you can treat yourself to a large reward.

If you’ve saved a healthy amount of money in your savings account or you have set aside a good amount in a jar or piggy bank, you can treat yourself to a small reward. Or if you’ve simply been sticking to your budget progressively, you can allow yourself a small reward every three or four weeks or so as well to keep you motivated.

To earn yourself a medium size reward, you would need to save more money. If your ultimate goal is paying off your mortgage, you can occasionally give yourself a medium reward if you have started to make extra or larger repayments or did a health check on your home loan and refinanced for a better money saving deal.

For a large reward, you would need to reach your ultimate goal or save a larger amount of money. You may have paid a deposit for your home loan, made a lump sum payment or even better – paid off your mortgage or car loan. You deserve a large reward for the efforts you’ve put into saving.

Paying For Your Retirement

Finance
When you consider that your life in retirement could continue for several decades, it may be quite an expensive time in your life, especially with less money coming in than during your working life.

Being able to cover the costs of your retirement will require careful planning and even better money management, but with the right approach, your retirement years can be the best years of your life. The following article looks at some of the ways that you can pay for your retirement.

Investments

If you have a decent-sized investment portfolio, one of the best ways to fund your retirement is by liquidating some of your investments. Having the cash on hand rather than invested in an extra car or piece of property will be far more useful to you as you set yourself up in retirement, and may even mean that you can afford to retire a year or two earlier. Lots of property or other investments are useless if you can’t afford to cover your bills, and by liquidating one here or there you may be able to cover all of your retirement wants and needs.

Health Insurance

As you get older, you are more likely to experience health problems, so make sure that you have adequate health insurance to cover anything and everything that may arise. Whether you need acupuncture, a heart operation or a new electric wheelchair, government insurance will never cover it all, so extra coverage can make all the difference. Good health insurance can also play a big role in helping you maintain your health in old age, by covering the costs of exercise classes, gym memberships and the like.

4 Reasons for Investing in Real Estate

Finance, Home & Garden
So you’ve saved a good sum of money and you want to start earning some real returns from it – not just the interest you can make from keeping it in the bank. Deciding what to invest your hard earned cash in can be really difficult. You have the option to turn to something a little left of centre but offering high returns if done correctly, by investing in art. Investing in stocks offers a comparable risk/gain investment. Or you can turn all of your money into a deposit, take out a home loan and put your cash into an investment in property. But why invest in property? Here are a few good reasons:

Low risk

Standard real estate is a reasonably safe bet when it comes to investing your money. While the economic situation of late, and lower levels of consumer confidence, may mean the real estate market is down, it certainly isn’t out. Lower prices now will almost certainly go back up if investors looking to sell can wait for the sale, and realistically it is incredibly rare for the actual value to go down over time – it just may not go up as quickly as you want it to.

Earn two ways

Real Estate also offers you the unique opportunity to earn in one of two ways – firstly by investing in a property that you will make a rental return from. Secondly, you can buy, move in for a short time to reduce costs, get a handy removal company to move you back out, then re-sell when the market becomes more lucrative. The latter, if done carefully and if you are well-informed, can be a quick turn-around, not to mention a big return! Rental return, on the other hand, provides a steady and consistent form of income, with most of your costs tax deductible.

Avoiding Defaults on Your Loans

Finance
 If you are in default on any one of your loans, this can potentially lead to you having a black mark against your name, in regards to your credit history. This mark, or negative listing, can stay on your credit history for up to 7 years and can significantly limit your financial options. A poor credit history can affect your application for a credit card, home loan, car finance, cash loan, or any form of credit through banks. It is therefore sensible to look after your credit health and avoid defaults on your loans.

What is a Default?

A loan default means that you haven’t met your legal obligations of acontract to repay a loan. A default occurs when you have missed a payment, are late with a payment, or haven’t made any payments.

A default shouldn’t be confused with:

  • Insolvency, which means a debtor cannot pay their debts.
  • Bankruptcy, which involves legal intervention in the finances of those who are insolvent or in default.

Finding Home Loan Advice in Social Media

Finance
In recent years, social media has increasingly become popular and has changed the way people communicate on the Internet. Because there are literally millions around the world engaging in social media, this makes it the largest audience for word-of-mouth marketing on a giant scale, for almost any company or industry. Read on for how social media marketing is being utilisedby home loan lenders and real estate agents.

Facebook

Facebook is a great way for home loan lender companies to communicate and display messages of advice and news of their company. Their Facebook page can be used for consumers and clients to ask questions and get real answers about interest rates and loan options.

Once a company establishes fans through people liking their Facebook page or ads they click on, those fans will receive their content. This will happen through the company’s updates, which will appear in their fans’ newsfeeds. Furthermore, if they find that the advice or content from the home loan lender is appealing, they will share it with their friends. This attracts new followers and builds up the lender’s fan base on Facebook.

Renting vs. Buying Outright

Finance, Home & Garden
Households and businesses have a variety of options available to them when purchasing new equipment or goods. Two key alternatives are leasing and buying outright. Leasing, such as through a finance lease or hire agreement, can give purchasers the option of ownership, without the need to make a full outright payment at the outset.

These are some of the major differences between leasing and buying outright:

1. Instalments vs. Upfront Payment

Lease payments are made in instalments, while outright purchases attract a full upfront payment. Depending on your situation, you might find that payments in instalments are more preferable to a large upfront payment. Paying in instalments means businesses can divert precious cash flow to other areas of the organisation, rather than spending it all on equipment or technology assets.

Many businesses find that instalment payment arrangements are considerably better for their cash flow than upfront purchase arrangements, particularly as these payments are usually tax-deductible.

2. Repair and Maintenance Costs

While outright purchases confer ownership over the purchase item straight away, leases usually do not. Depending on the type of lease, this can mean that the lessee or the person leasing the item is not responsible for repair and maintenance costs. Instead, the hire-purchase company or financing company might be the party that covers certain repair and maintenance costs, though of course, this will depend on the specific terms of the agreement.

Finding Money to Repair a Work Vehicle

Finance, Transport

As sure as death and taxes, cars will break down. While it is inconvenient and stressful, it doesn’t mean you still can’t hold down a job to make money to fix the repairs. It will take some adjustments, but before you know it, you’ll be back on the road again.

Here are some options to consider:

Take Public Transport or Hire or Borrow a Car

If your car is only going to take a day or two to get fixed, jump on the bus or train. It may be easier than you think.

Some jobs rely on using a car to get to business meetings, so public transport isn’t going to cut it. Ring around all the local car rental and hire car companies. Some do fantastic weekly deals, and if you explain the situation, they may offer a further discount. Also, make sure to read all the fine print, so you know exactly how much you’ll be up for.

Ask around family or friends if they can loan you their car, until yours is fixed. Some families have a second car that is rarely used, so front up.

Investing in your Own Home

Finance, Home & Garden
Investing in your own home can be a fantastic way to increase its value and bring you a great return on your investment, especially if you decide to sell, rent or increase your home loan later on. What are some of the best ways to invest in your own home and boost its worth?

Extending

Extending your home will undoubtedly add the most value to it, since it makes your home much bigger and offers more to buyers. This can be particularly beneficial in popular metropolitan areas, where finding a large home is a challenge. Things like building a second storey, converting your attic, adding a bedroom or even a home office can all be easily done. If you don’t currently have the funds, consider whether a construction loan or renovation loan might help you. If you’re planning to sell in the near future, you might just be able to pay back your loan and make a profit on your investment.

Renovating

Renovating is one of the biggest ways to increase the value of your home, especially if it’s quite old or run down. While renovating might send a shiver down your spine at the amount of money you need to spend, it’s important to remember that renovating doesn’t have to be huge. One-off jobs like replacing your kitchen cabinets, redoing your flooring, replacing your shower or simply repainting your home can all be done in cost-effective ways, especially if you are keen to DIY. The best way to decide what to renovate is to determine exactly what is detracting from the value of your home or what will add the most value to it. Kitchens and bathrooms are good places to start.