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 Than Ever

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.

How To Find The Perfect Premises For Your Start Up

location

locationTaking a leap into the unknown and starting your own business can be terrifying.

After you’ve given up the security of a regular wage and the thrill of telling your boss what you really think, the sudden awareness that you’re on your own hits home like a David Beckham free kick.

From now on, you’re expected to attract and retain customers and ensure your employees (if any) are paid on time, as well as trying to keep the wolves from the door in the first couple of years.

It’s an undeniably challenging mission.

Indeed, many have tried and failed, with around half of all small businesses crashing and burning in the first 24 months, which can be your motivation to succeed or your pathetic excuse to fall short.

In the early days, it’s crucial to duck and dive – to keep your head above water – and ensure your dream doesn’t drown in the unpredictably choppy waves of Startup Ocean.

Part of this success, for start-ups in the retail realm especially, is finding premises to enhance what you have to offer, leading to customers streaming through the door desperate to part with cash.

For the first time buyer, however, dipping a toe in these waters can be fraught with danger.

If you’re unprepared, the whole process can leave you with an expensive location in the back-end of nowhere, with hordes of cash splashing customers nothing but an unobtainable pipe dream.

Scared? You should be.

However, in an effort to avoid troubling you to death – you have enough on your plate, after all – our top tips are here to make finding the perfect premises for your start-up a cinch.

Begin Your Search Online

When you’re looking for a retail premises to let, it’s a shrewd move to begin your search online with a few clicks of a mouse and a dollop of perseverance. By browsing the web, it allows you to quickly and easily see what’s on offer in your preferred location, without traipsing all over town.

Location, Location, Location

We all know that location is extremely important when buying a house, but when purchasing or leasing a retail property for your start-up, the same advice rings true. Why? Because retailers need customers, so make sure you find a premises that’s not housed in a deserted industrial estate.

Stick To Your Budget

Whilst it’s tempting to blow your budget on a premises that has all the bells and whistles, location is much more important for a fledgling retailer. Although a larger property offers the chance to expand should things go well, it’s vital not to hemorrhage cash when every penny is a prisoner.

Do you agree? Do you have any tips for wet behind the ears start-ups looking for premises? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

3 Ways Technology Is Saving Your Business Money

business technology

business technologyRemember the days when the hard copy interoffice memo was the most efficient way of communicating information to employees? Think of the time and resources that went into typing the memo, making copies, hand-delivering it to each employee’s inbox, retrieving it, and then recycling it after reading. Today, email has superseded this whole laborious process, sending messages in seconds without the paper waste.

This is just one example of the myriad ways technology has made business more efficient, more productive, and more profitable. Technology has given businesses capabilities they never thought possible, and the result is a healthier bottom line. Here are three specific examples of how technology is helping your business financially.

The Nebulous But Useful Cloud

The term “the cloud” is batted around so frequently these days that it’s hard to define the amorphous marvel with any precision. What’s certain is that the cloud can store massive amounts of information, provide unparalleled security, and offer remote access. The cloud is the modern-day filing cabinet, albeit an invisible one. Cloud storage offers an affordable, streamlined alternative to in-house storage, whether physical or electronic.

The cost-cutting powers of the cloud are many. For one, physically storing files, papers, records, etc. takes up valuable office space, which costs money to rent or own. The cloud moves all of this information into an ethereal realm where information real estate goes for much cheaper than the brick-and-mortar kind. Second, anyone in your company can access anything they need in seconds without having to visit the site where it is stored. [Read more…]

5 Ways To Stay On Top Of Your Debt In 2015

stay on top of your debt

stay on top of your debtUnfortunately debts don’t just vanish without work; they need to be paid to the last penny. But when you have a sizable debt to pay, you need to have a clear strategy. Otherwise, not only will you still have the debts, your creditors will start harassing you as well if you are not making at least those minimum payments. So here are 5 ways to stay on top of your debt in 2015.

Staying On Top Of Debt In 2015

Create a Budget

Creating a budget is the first step towards a debt-free life. List all your monthly incomes, such as salary, rental income, dividend income, etc. in one column. List all your regular expenses, such as food, utilities, etc. in another column. Now create a monthly budget based on your monthly income and expenses. Whatever money is left after deducting the expenses from the income should be divided between debt and savings. (For help with creating a budget, you can take advantage of free excel templates or go with an online solution.)

Debt Consolidate

If you have several debts, consider consolidating all of them into a single debt. Having one big debt instead of several small debts can be advantageous. The advantages include a single interest rate and only one creditor to worry about if you are late in payment. You may even be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. Just be careful when looking for help with this. Your first stop should be the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

If it turns out consolidating doesn’t make sense for you, all hope is not lost. Look into snowballing (or avalanching or snowpocalypsing) your debt. [Read more…]

Top Posts of 2014: A Year In Review

new years times square

new years times squareWelcome to 2015! I took some time off around the holidays to spend with friends and family and to simply re-charge my batteries. I have a ton of great things planned for everyone in 2015, but before we get into that, let’s take a quick look back at the top posts from 2014.

I like to highlight the best posts from the previous year for a few reasons:

  • first, everyone is busy and as a result, you might miss a great post.
  • second, I have new readers find my site all of the time. By having a quick review post, they can get up to speed rather quickly.
  • third, sometimes a post might not connect with you at the time of reading it, but now you are in a place where you want to get out of debt and might find the information helpful.

With that, said, below are my top posts of 2014. I have them listed from in reverse order, so the biggest post is listed last. You might be wondering how I came up with this list. Well, it’s a complicated formula that is locked in a vault in Fort Knox. In other words, it’s just a combination of page views, comments, and buzz.

11. Learn To Live On Less

In my cutting monthly expenses post, I go break out monthly expenses into two groups: big and small, then provide tips to cut each group and which one has a larger impact on your bottom line. At the end of the day, learning to live within your means is a key factor to reaching financial independence.

10. Earn Money On The Side

I wrote a post about all of the various ways I make (and have made) money on the side. While I didn’t sell plasma to make money, I have used a bunch of methods that I am certain you find helpful of you too are looking to make some money on the side. [Read more…]

How To Prevent Cashflow Issues In Your Business From Becoming Worse

cashflow planning

cashflow planningLet’s face the facts: cash is the lifeblood of any business. Without it, you would have a difficult time expanding your enterprise, much less running it from day to day. And whilst you may think your business is doing well because of all the cash payments you are expecting to receive, at the end of the day (especially when unforeseen emergencies occur), what matters is the cash you have on hand. Once you have experienced a difficulty in cashflow, then you will know exactly what we mean.

If you have had some occasional cashflow issues, you know how important it is to address the problem before it gets worse – because it is a problem. So to help you prevent even more catastrophic cashflow issues, below are a few tips:

Knowledge is Power

With this, we mean knowing exactly how much cash you have in your business account at all times. Keeping yourself in the dark when it comes to the available cash you have is similar to burying your head in the sand. Keep track of your available cash every day, if possible, especially if you are a business start-up or a smaller enterprise. [Read more…]

Carnival of Financial Planning – Time Is Running Out Edtion

pulling out hair

pulling out hairWelcome to the Carnival of Financial Planning – Time Is Running Out Edition! I chose this theme for the carnival because I heard a report on the news that close to 50% of people aren’t done with their holiday shopping yet. Not to brag, but I got mine done weeks ago! I also hears a report that retailers are guaranteeing delivery of your online purchases as long as you order by December 20th. My question is, how can they guarantee it when it is out of their control?

If you get your package on time, they win as they kept their promise and you shop there again. If you don’t get your package on time, the retailer blames UPS/FedEx/USPS and you do too.

Anyways, in between the hustle and bustle of shopping and wrapping, take some time to remember where you want to go financially in the weeks, months and years ahead. Here are some great blog posts that can help with that.

BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Get Your Debt, Before Your Debt Gets You: the six rules of debt busting – Yesterday I read the story of a guy who took loads of pills and booze trying to kill himself because of debt.

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes 6 Ways Shoppers are Deceived! – Brands and advertisers use specific marketing tactics to convince shoppers to make purchases There are some tactics that they use that, while not illegal, border on being unethical.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes 4 IRA Withdrawals that Actually Make Sense – Withdrawing funds from a traditional IRA before a person turns 59 ½ usually means that they’re going to pay a lot of taxes and penalties.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes These are the Biggest Money Mistakes Couples Make When Divorcing – When people get divorced, it’s the spouse who hasn’t had a whole lot of experience with the family’s finances that often ends up on the short end of the stick.

Jay @ Daily Fuel Economy Tip writes How to Save on Gas – Uncommon Ways – I will describe a few less common ways you can save on gas – I hope you will find them useful.

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes The Expenses of Buying and Owning a Home – From finding the perfect mortgage with the appropriate fees, to the year round upkeep and maintenance, this investment requires a lot of time and capital.

Brock Kernan @ Cleverdude writes Dear Garbage Company: I’m Moving On – My garbage company offered to keep my rates the same for 2 years, so how did my bill go up by 30%?

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes 3 Habits of the Highly Effective Blogger – You aren’t born a successful blogger. People with successful blogs are an odd breed. A lot of us aren’t writers by trade, and many of us have just stumbled into the niche we inhabit

CAREER AND INCOME

Kayla @ Shoeaholic No More writes Trying Out Full Time Freelancing – Last week I had the opportunity to test out what it would be like if I were a full-time freelancer, and it was awesome!

Jon @ Penny Thots writes How To Make Money With Photography – You love taking pictures. Going out and seeing the world through a lens provides you with happiness and relaxation. While many enjoy photography just for the pleasure and joy that it brings, others are interested in turning their hobby into a side income.

INVESTING AND SAVING

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes There’s No Time Like the Present to Start Investing – The best time to start investing is 20 years ago. The second best time to start investing is today. There are plenty of other ways you can make sure you have enough for retirement, and maybe a little extra to enjoy now.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes Investing Doesn’t Take Genius Intelligence, Just Common Sense – A quote that’s attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like this: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes Stock Investing Myths and Truths Part 4 of 4 – Even though there’s plenty of information about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to investing in the stock market, many myths still refuse to die.

RETIREMENT AND TAXATION

Michael Kitces @ Nerd’s Eye View writes Tax Extenders Reinstated Temporarily, But ABLE Act Of 2014 Will Permanently Change 529 Plan Landscape For Special Needs Beneficiaries – Late last night, the Senate passed H.R. 5771, known as the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 or more simply as the “Tax Extenders” legislation.