8 Free Excel Spreadsheet Templates

Personal Budget

budgetingIn honor of America Saves Week, I want to talk about budgeting today. I know, I know, budgeting isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world. But it is needed if you ever want to attain financial freedom. Too many people are stuck in life because they have no clue where their money is going. Honestly, how many times have you logged into your bank account, saw your balance and were surprised because it is much lower than you expected? Heck, I’ve been there plenty of times myself.

The way you overcome this is by budgeting. To some reading this, you might shudder at the thought of a budget. After all, it is limiting your spending right? Wrong! Stop looking at a budget as a short term tactic to stop you from spending and start looking at it as a tool that will help you reach your wildest financial dreams. Want to retire early? A budget can help you achieve it. Want to go on a killer vacation? A budget can help you here too. Once you see how a budget benefits you and doesn’t limit you, you can begin using one to get you to where you want to go.

Finding The Right Budget Template

OK, so I’ve got you interested in budgeting. We are getting somewhere. Now the trick is to find the best option for you when it comes to budgeting. After all, if you don’t like eating peas, it doesn’t make sense to make them a staple of your diet right? You should make broccoli a staple since you enjoy eating it. This will make sticking to a diet that much easier. [Read more…]

5 Things To Do When Approaching Retirement

approaching retirement cake

approaching retirement cakeI recently read an article on the Time website about 5 things you need to do when you are within 10 years of retirement. Overall, I thought the article was good, as it covered a lot of the things you should think about as you near retirement. In fact, it included one thing that I think most people often overlook. With that said, all of the items on the to do list should not be ignored until you are approaching retirement. So what are these 5 things? I list them below and then go into more detail as well as action steps you should take to be in the best financial shape possible as you are approaching retirement.

  • See if you’re saving enough
  • Stagger retirement with spouse
  • Don’t quit on stocks
  • Do mortgage math
  • Make friends with co-workers

5 To Do’s When Approaching Retirement

Are You Saving Enough?

When it comes to investing, time is your best friend. For this reason, you shouldn’t wait until you are approaching retirement to see if you are on track with your savings amount. You need to do this throughout your working years. [Read more…]

8 Ways To Pay Off Student Debt

student debt

student debtStudent loans suck. There is no sugar coating it. But, student debt is for most, a necessary evil if we want to go to college. While there are tons of ways to avoid student debt in the first place, I am not going there with this post. In this post, I am going to be talking to those who already have student loans and are trying to get rid of them.

There are all sorts of ways you can pay off your student debt and I am going to walk you through 8 such ways. I’ve done a few of these and know some friends who have done some others. In all, picking a few of these tips will help boost your repayment and help you eliminate your student debt once and for all.

8 Tips To Pay Off Student Debt

Prioritize

The very first thing you need to do is to prioritize. This means taking the time to sit down and review the money you have coming in and the money you have going out. How much can you afford to put towards your loans each month?

Note that I didn’t tell you to verify that you can make the minimum payment each month. Just doing that isn’t going to get you out of student debt anytime soon. In order to get rid of the debt, you need to pay as much as you can. This is where prioritizing comes into play. [Read more…]

5 Great Cheap Valentine’s Day Ideas On A Budget

valentine's day

valentine's dayWhat options will you consider if you find yourself with an empty wallet as Valentine’s Day approaches? If you are like some people, you may max out your credit card. While an expensive gift would certainly wow your partner, going into debt because of it will eventually put stress on your relationship. So, before borrowing money to buy a gift, consider these gift ideas.

5 Cheap Valentine’s Day Ideas

Romantic Dinner For Two at Home

Restaurants hike up their price on Valentine’s Day. But you don’t have to treat your partner to an expensive dinner in a classy restaurant to impress him or her. A cozy dinner for two at home can be just as effective if you can create the right environment. You can either cook his or her favorite dish or get take out. You can top off the evening with a bottle of wine.

Minimize The Gift Items

Rather than cutting out gifts altogether, try to minimize them. Instead of a bouquet of roses, give her a single red rose. Instead of a box of chocolates, give a chocolate bar. But think of something creative to make it special. For example, with the rose held in one hand, reenact the moment you proposed to her, but with different words this time. [Read more…]

Worst Financial Advice Ever

worst advice

worst adviceLook anywhere online and you will find financial advice. This is good and bad. Having easy access to all of this knowledge allows for you to easily learn and take the steps needed to become financially successful. But this also allows people who have no business writing about finances to give advice. It also means that companies that are trying to scam you out of your hard earned money can give advice that makes their product/service look good. Below I’ve come up with 12 pieces of the worst financial advice ever. Follow them with caution!

12 Pieces of The Worst Financial Advice Ever

Co-sign A Loan

I’m sure there is one (maybe two) reasons why you would want to co-sign a loan. But for the overwhelming amount of times, it makes zero sense to co-sign a loan. When you co-sign a loan you are saying that you are willing to take over the loan payments if the other person stops paying.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Are you OK with paying for someone else’s car? Are you OK with paying for someone else’s education? If you answered yes to these, email me as you have just become my BFF.

No matter how much you love or care about the other person, you should not co-sign a loan. It will end badly. Alright, 99% of the time, it will end badly.

What To Do Instead: Support them. If they need a co-signer, either they are trying to take out a loan for more than they can handle or they have bad credit – meaning they aren’t great with handling their money in the first place. If they are trying to take out too much of a loan, help them to find a lower cost option. Instead of a new car, look at good used cars. Maybe help them to find ways to save more money or earn more money so they can take out a smaller loan and therefore won’t need the person to co-sign. [Read more…]

The Complete (Fun) Guide To Understanding Health Insurance

health insurance deductible

health insurance deductibleA few months ago, I went on a mini-rant about why health insurance is so complicated. I feel that I am a reasonably smart person, but for the life of me, I just cannot wrap my head around all of the in’s and out’s surrounding the world of health insurance. I think I get the gist of it, then I learn of a new term and it throws everything out the window.

Since I don’t like to be clueless, I did some leg work. Lots of leg work and learned a lot about health insurance, co-pays, plans, health insurance deductibles, co-insurance, etc. While I can’t officially call myself an expert, I do know enough about it to feel comfortable talking about it.

So today, I am going to walk you through health insurance. Before you run away, hear me out. I’ll do my best to keep it basic, and I’ve even included a bunch of awesome videos that explain things in better ways than I can (trust me, I’ve tried). So sit back, relax, and educate yourself on health insurance.

Your Guide To Understanding Health Insurance

Health Insurance Background

A few years ago, the President signed into law the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as some like to call it) which made getting health coverage easier for those that had pre-existing conditions and for those who weren’t covered by their employer. It also created a centralized location for you to shop for health insurance coverage as well. While there is debate surrounding the ACA, I am not getting into that today. Here though, is a nice short video on the myths and facts of health insurance that clears a lot of stuff up: [Read more…]

Organize Your Bills Once And For All

organize your bills

organize your billsWhat is the number one reason most people fail to pay their bills on time? It’s not keeping their bills organized. When you can’t find your bills, you will likely forget to pay them until you are reminded. There are penalties for late payment, and they include late payment fees and a reduced credit rating. So here are 5 tips for organizing your bills.

How To Organize Your Bills

Create a Central Depository For Unpaid Bills

Do not leave your bills lying on your bed, dining room table, TV, bookshelf, or dresser. They may get mixed up with other papers, torn into little pieces by your children, blown away by the wind, or accidentally thrown into the garbage. Create a central depository where all the bills will go to as soon as they arrive. It could be a file folder, paper tray or wall pocket. Arrange the bills in chronological order of due date so that you will know which bill to pay first.

Separate The Paid Bills Immediately

Mixing paid bills with unpaid bills creates confusion. As the stack of bills grows bigger, you may find it more and more difficult to find the one you are looking for. Separate the paid bills from the unpaid bills immediately after making the payment. Keep the paid bills in a separate folder or envelopes. Since you will accumulate hundreds of paid bills over time, place each bill in its own category so that it will be easy to find when you need to see it. For example, place all the electricity bills in a folder or envelope with ‘Electricity Bills’ written on it. [Read more…]

Automating Your Savings Just Got Easier With Digit

automated savings with digit

automated savings with digitA few months ago, I posted on the simplest way ever to become rich. While I think you should really read that post, I’ll give you a CliffsNotes version. (Side note: do they even make CliffsNotes any more? Do kids still use them?) Anyways, the way you become rich is to automate your savings. Since most people save what is left over at the end of the month, they end up savings a whopping NOTHING each month. It doesn’t take an advanced math degree to know that your nest egg will never grow if you never put anything into it.

The Typical Automation Route

Up until just recently, there were a couple of ways to automate saving money:

  • Invest in your 401k plan at work. Since the contributions come out before you get your check, you are guaranteed to save.
  • Set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your saving account.

That’s it. While most can handle the 401k plan option, few set up a recurring transfer from their checking account to their savings account. Why? I have no idea. Maybe they get paid at different times each month, so it is hard to decide when to make the transfer? Maybe they couldn’t figure out an amount to transfer? Maybe they were so busy they just forgot? Regardless what the excuse issue was, there is a new solution that is going to fix everything.

Welcome To The Digit(al) Age

There is a new service out there called Digit. What exactly is Digit? It’s a service that automatically transfers money from your checking account to a savings account. Here is how it works:

  • You sign up to become a member (as of right now there is a waiting list, but my link will get you VIP instant access. No, bottle service is not included.) and link your checking account, the end.

Yeah, seriously that is all you have to do. Digit then crunches numbers in various algorithms to figure out your income and expenses on a monthly basis. Based on these findings, Digit will make an automatic transfer out of your checking account into a savings account. When they made my first transfer, it was for $4.95. [Read more…]

3 Ways to Help Your Business Thrive Overseas

Overseas

OverseasHave you ever woken up in a cold sweat after realising your business is a small fish in a vast ocean?

For years, you’ve been happy flogging your wares to local customers that you know by name, but there comes a time for broadening horizons in every ambitious entrepreneurs life.

Whilst you may not have Derek Trotter’s zest for life and the goal of becoming a millionaire “this time next year”, you do need a strong work ethic and the determination to succeed.

Indeed, dipping a toe outside the warm waters of your locality needn’t mean being swept away on a tide of ruin – you can actually conduct overseas business profitably with very little risk.

Need some help? Check out these three ways to help your business thrive abroad …

Research Your Market

Before you take the plunge and expand overseas, it’s vital to do your research and determine whether your new market actually wants the product or service your business is selling, and whether the price is realistic for the demographic you plan to target.

Additionally, you must scout the competition and find out how your product or service compares to what they have on offer. Importantly, don’t be afraid of healthy competition, as what you’re selling may be the cost effective alternative to what your rivals are flogging.

Sort Out Your Deliveries

There’s nothing more infuriating than ordering a product online, only to be told it’ll be delivered sometime in the next century between 6am and midnight. When you do finally receive your delivery date, you wait all day only to nip to the loo and miss the delivery driver.

Consequently, if your business is to thrive overseas, you must make sure your international parcel delivery is up to scratch by teaming up with a reputable carrier. Not only will this ensure deliveries reach their destination promptly, it’ll prevent your inbox filling up with throngs of complaints.

Hunt For Advice and Support

You may not know it, but there are plenty of UK organisations designed to support overseas trade, such as the UKTI, UKEF and the Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, you can look to banks, law firms and accountants for specialist advice.

What’s more, make sure you ask your friends in the local business community for advice and support, as their experiences, not to mention noticing any holes in your business plan, can feed into your plans for overseas success.

Now it’s over to you …

Do you have a business that’s gone from strength to strength since moving into an overseas market? What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to do the same? Let us know by leaving a comment below – we’d be delighted to read your thoughts.