Тhе Рrоblеm Wіth Моnеу аnd Whу Wе Ѕtrugglе Wіth Fіnаnсіаl Маttеrs

Тhе Рrоblеm Wіth Моnеу

Моst реорlе hаvе sоmе рrоblеms wіth mоnеу sоmеtіmеs. Тhе рrоblеm mау bе dіffеrеnt dереndіng іf уоu аrе rісh оr рооr but mоnеу іs аlwауs surrоundеd bу соmрlісаtіоns аnd dіffісultіеs. Іf уоu аrе wеаlthу уоu mау bе wоndеrіng whеrе thе bеst аnd sаfеst рlасе tо рut уоur mоnеу іs. Yоu wаnt tо mаkе thе mоst рrоfіt bу hаvіng уоur mоnеу wоrk fоr уоu but уоu wоrrу аоut рuttіng уоur mоnеу аt rіsk bесаusе уоu dоn’t wаnt tо lоsе іt. Меаnwhіlе thе реrsоn whо іs strugglіng tо fіnd еnоugh mоnеу hаs а dіffеrеnt sеt оf fіnаnсіаl рrоblеms. Тhеіr рrоblеms аrе nоt sо muсh аbоut lоsіng thе mоnеу thеу hаvе аs fіndіng еnоugh mоnеу tо survіvе. Тhе fіnаnсіаl рrоblеms аrе соmроundеd bу thе smаllеst сhаngе іn thеіr аvаіlаblе rеsоurсеs аnd runnіng shоrt оf саsh оnе mоnth саn mеаn ехtrа сhаrgеs аnd соsts tо рау thе nехt mоnth.

Fіnаnсіаl ruіn іs а slірреrу slоре thаt wе аll thіnk wе аrе sаfе tо wаlk асrоss tо gеt whеrе wе hоре tо bе. Wе mау thіnk wе hаvе аll оur fіnаnсеs undеr соntrоl аnd wе аrе rеаdу tо dеаl wіth аnу fіnаnсіаl sіtuаtіоn but thе truth іs thаt іn thіs соmрlісаtеd аnd іntеrdереndеnt wоrld thеrе аrе fеw оf us whо соuld соре wіth еvеrу роssіblе sсеnаrіо оf fіnаnсіаl сhаngе.

Dеbt іs mоst оftеn thе kіllеr thаt strіkеs us dоwn whеn wе аrе аt оur wеаkеst. Тhе оld sауіng thаt bаnks аrе еаgеr tо lеnd tо реорlе whо dоn’t nееd thе mоnеу аnd rеluсtаnt tо lеnd tо thоsе whо nееd іt rеmаіns brоаdlу truе. Тhеsе dауs bаnks аnd оthеr lеndіng іnstіtutіоns hаvе соmе uр wіth sо mаnу dіffеrеnt wауs tо іmроsе ехtrа сhаrgеs аnd fееs іf thе ассоunt іs nоt mаіntаіnеd іmрессаblу thаt thеу sееm tо mаkе а рrоfіt whаtеvеr thе sіtuаtіоn sо thеу wеrе hарру tо lеnd tо аlmоst аnуоnе. Wе sаw hоw thе fіnаnсіаl сrіsіs dеmоnstrаtеd thаt еvеn thе bіggеst bаnks wеrе nоt іnvulnеrаblе tо fіnаnсіаl dіsаstеr аnd thеу аrе suрроsеd tо bе thе ехреrts оn mоnеу, fіnаnсеs аnd thе mаths thаt gоеs wіth іntеrеst rаtеs аnd rіsk mаnаgеmеnt. Іf thе bаnks саn gеt іt sо wrоng, whаt сhаnсе dо thе rеst оf us hаvе.

Тhе рrоblеm wіth mоnеу іs thаt іt іs nоt rеаl.

Іf уоu hаvе а bаrn full оf fіrеwооd аnd іt hаs tо lаst уоu thrоugh thе wіntеr thеn уоu саn sее аt а glаnсе іf thе fіrеwооd іs runnіng lоw. Іf іt gеts tо mіdwіntеr аnd уоu аrе mоrе thаn hаlfwау thrоugh уоur suррlіеs уоu knоw уоu nееd tо trу tо usе lеss fоr thе rеst оf thе wіntеr. Моnеу іs јust numbеrs. Vеrу fеw оf us thеsе dауs hаvе а сhеst full оf gоld undеr thе bеd. Аll wе sее оf mоst оf оur mоnеу іs numbеrs оn а bаnk stаtеmеnt, оn сrеdіt саrd bіlls аnd оn lоаn аgrееmеnts. Wе dоn’t sее а bаrn full оf mоnеу dwіndlіng іf wе usе tоо muсh.

Сrеdіt саrds аrе оnе оf thе bіggеst саusеs оf mоnеу рrоblеms аrоund.

Тhе сrеdіt саrd іs а tеrrіfіс fіnаnсіаl tооl fоr shоrt tеrm еmеrgеnсу сrеdіt. Іf уоur саr brеаks dоwn аnd уоu nееd tо gеt іt fіхеd а сrеdіt саrd аllоws уоu tо dо thіs еvеn thоugh уоu mау nоt hаvе thе саsh rіght nоw. Ѕо lоng аs уоu аrе аblе tо mаkе suffісіеnt rерауmеnts tо rеduсе thе dеbt оvеr а rеаsоnаblе tіmе frаmе, thіs іs а gооd usе оf а сrеdіt саrd dеbt. Ноwеvеr, sо mаnу оf us thіnk, thоugh mаnу оf us dоn’t thіnk аbоut іt аt аll, whеn wе fіgurе thаt wе shоuld buу а nеw ТV оr trеаt оursеlvеs tо а wееkеnd brеаk аnd јust аdd thе соst tо thе сrеdіt саrd bіll. Wе nеvеr gіvе а thоught tо аll thе іntеrеst wе аrе gоіng tо hаvе tо рау thе сrеdіt саrd соmраnу. Wе іgnоrе thе fасt thаt whіlе wе аrе rерауіng thаt dеbt wе dоn’t hаvе thаt mоnеу tо sреnd оn оthеr thіngs.

Воrrоwіng mоnеу tо рurсhаsе thіngs nоw mеаns thеrе іs lеss mоnеу аvаіlаblе іn thе futurе аnd thе rеvеrsе іs truе аs wеll. Іf уоu аrе саrеful wіth mоnеу nоw аnd sеnsіblе аbоut рurсhаsіng nеw thіngs уоu wіll hаvе mоrе mоnеу tо sреnd іn thе futurе thаn уоu wіll іf уоu buу thіngs usіng сrеdіt саrds nоw.

10 Ways to Start Managing Your Debt More Effectively

What does “financial security” look like to you? Is it having all your bills paid, or money in the bank? Do you need a large investment portfolio or fat retirement account? Do you have enough cash on hand to support your family for a few months in the event of unemployment? According to CNBC, “even six months’ worth of expenses isn’t sufficient… it’s advisable to have at least eight-to-12 months’ worth of living expenses in reserve.”

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is for the vast majority of Americans. In fact, nearly half of all Americans are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, which means in the event of a crisis, they would be left with virtually no options. Even more disturbingly, most Americans are in deep debt. Business Insider shares some frightening insights into debt in the United States:

  • The total amount of consumer debt is nearly $2.4 trillion, or approximately $7,800 per person.
  • 33% of that debt is revolving credit card debt
  • 1 in every 50 households (approximately 2 million households) carries more than $20,000 in credit card debt.

If you’ve lost control of your finances and are ready to start unburying yourself from the burden of debt, know that it can be done. It will be a process, but you can start managing your debt more effectively, and ultimately eliminate your debt entirely.

  1. Follow the money. The first step in learning to manage your debt and take control of your finances is getting a realistic sense of where your money is going. You’d be surprised how many people not only don’t know what they actually spend their money on, but also don’t have real knowledge about just how much they owe. You need to sit down with a list of every single expense you have and start tracking everything you spend money on. Then you need to compare that list to an honest assessment of the money you have coming in each month (i.e. your income after taxes). If you don’t have enough money to cover your expenses, or if you have too little money to dedicate to paying down debt, it’s time to start strategizing further.
  2. Trim the fat. Now that you know how much money you have coming in versus how much you have going out, it’s time to find ways to have more leftover cash at the end of the month. Reduce entertainment expenses, including things like Netflix, cable, and even the internet. Cancel memberships to gyms, clubs, subscriptions, or other paid services that aren’t absolutely necessary to the running of your home.
  3. Lower fixed expenses. In addition to eliminating unnecessary purchasing, it’s important to find ways to lower fixed expenses if you want to get serious about getting out of debt fast. Install energy efficient light bulbs and be conscious of your water, gas, and electric consumption. Lower data cellular plans and get creative with the grocery budget. There are some expenses you’re always going to have to deal with, so figure out how to get the most bang for your buck on them.
  4. Get a second job. It’s not the most fun recommendation, but any extra income will help you pay off debt more quickly. Getting a second job has the added benefit of reminding you just how hard you actually work for the dollars you spend. If you’re used to getting a large tax return each year, consider adjusting your withholding to better reflect your tax bracket and have extra cash on hand each month.
  5. Transfer high-interest debt. If you have a relatively manageable sum owed, transferring your high-interest debt to a 0% introductory APR balance transfer card may be the quickest route to financial freedom. It’s much easier to make a dent in what you owe when you aren’t paying hundreds of dollars in interest every month. Just make sure you can pay off the debt in the promotional period.
  6. Negotiate terms. When it comes to money owed, there can be a lot more wiggle room for debtors than creditors would like you to believe. You may be able to negotiate better interest rates or have fees removed. There are also options like debt consolidation, debt settlement, loan repayment plans and forgiveness programs, and other financial help readily available to people looking for help taking control of their budgets.
  7. Snowball your debt. Debt advisor and media personality Dave Ramsey is known for his recommendation of “snowballing debt.” This method of attack involves paying off the lowest balance first, then taking the money that would have been contributed to that debt and applying it to the next lowest balance, and so on. This strategy can be extremely motivating, since you get to see debts disappear more quickly when you focus on getting rid of the smallest bills first.
  8. Pay high interest rates first. The alternative to the “snowball method” of attacking debt is to try to pay off the highest interest rates first, to reduce the amount of unnecessary cash spent in the process of paying things off. Either plan can work and has its own merits, but ideally you would strike a balance between the two; for example, taking the extra money from the snowballed balances and applying it to the card with the highest interest rate.
  9. Start tracking your credit. Now that you’ve got a handle on what’s happening with your finances, it’s important to stay in the know. Start tracking your credit through any number of free websites and apps, and stay informed about potential cyber security threats that could undo all your hard work.
  10. Don’t rule anything out. When it comes to unburying yourself from a mountain of debt, it’s important never to rule anything out. You may have to sacrifice some things you thought you’d never live without. You may have to seek the advice of a credit counselor or even consider filing for bankruptcy if things have really gotten too far out of hand. Don’t take anything off the table when it comes to being able to rest easy knowing your finances are straightened out.

7 Ways to Incorporate Giving Back in Your Business

Customers and job seekers are moving en masse to companies that not only provide the service, product or situation they’re looking for, but that also give back in meaningful ways.

It’s no longer enough just to have a great product or pay employees well. If your business does not have a mission of charitable giving in place, you’re most likely losing out on customers as well as top talent.

If you’re a small-business owner, however, you may be worried that giving back may cost more than you can handle. Not to worry. Here are seven ways to incorporate giving back within your business without breaking the bank.

  1. Make It Part of Your Company Mission

Entrepreneurs such as Sanjay Shah, founder of Autism Rocks, and Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, have always made it a point to include giving back as part of a company’s mission. There are several ways to add giving back to your business mission that can be ongoing or during specific time frames.

Ways to give back include donating a portion of each purchase to a specific charity, adding a voluntary charitable contribution space on your online purchase checkouts and in-house and online charitable donations for a worthy cause.

  1. Involve Employees

Did you know that a business that gives back also has the happiest employees?

Employees who feel the company they work for is more than “out for money” but is also concerned with people in need are more productive and more satisfied with their jobs. Involving employees in charitable giving events also builds a sense of “family” that improves the overall workplace experience.

Employees can participate in a planned volunteer day once a month, donation collection drives, organising and working fundraisers and stepping in to help the community after a disaster.

  1. Launch a Charity Drive

Local small businesses, in particular, can take steps to meet the needs of those in the community. Is a local food bank running short on food for the needy? Perhaps a local animal shelter needs help building an enclosure. Does the homeless shelter need donations of coats or blankets? Your business can hold a charity drive to fit any number of community needs at little or no cost.

  1. Partner With a Charitable Agency

Charities work with a variety of businesses to help the needy. One way to become involved is to offer a referral bonus to current customers where you make a monetary donation to charity for every new customer they refer. Check with charities in your region to see what types of partnerships may be available.

  1. Sponsor a Youth Sports or Academic Team

Sponsoring a youth sports or academic team is a great way to help young people in your community as well as get friendly publicity for your business. The team gets much-needed help with fundraising and your logo gets splashed across uniforms and banners. It’s a win-win.

  1. Offer Products or Services Pro Bono

Nonprofit organisations often need services or products but have limited budgets. Your company services or products may fit the bill. Consider donating your business services or products to charitable agencies.

  1. Create a Socially Conscious Working Environment

Think about the workplace environment you provide employees. Does your company participate in a recycling programme and provide easily accessible recycle bins for employees to use? Do you have paperless systems that would, if not eliminate, greatly reduce the amount of paper being used on a daily basis? Do you offer employee incentives if they use public transportation? This type of giving back may not be as obvious as holding a fundraiser, but it adds an element of social consciousness to the very fibre of your company.

 

Maximizing Profit When You Sell Real Estate

First-time homeowners rarely think of putting their properties on the market, selling up and going elsewhere. However, there are many reasons why a first-time homeowner may become a first-time home seller, such as a new addition to the family, divorce, marriage, new employment prospects etc. When that time comes, it’s important to maximize this opportunity to generate as much profit as possible.

But where do you begin? Once you’re ready to sell your property – manufactured home, apartment, condominium, town home, or house, – you will want to get maximum bang for your buck. The process of buying a home is dramatically different from the process of selling a home.

When you buy, you put your heart and soul into the purchase, hoping to create a home that will be conducive to a high-quality life. When you sell a home, there are few, if any, emotions involved. Your objective is to maximize the profits that you generate from the sale of your home. You will typically work alongside realtors who will push for the best deal with clients.

The Price is Right

Getting your property priced right is important. Listing agents will be able to provide the necessary feedback to gauge a fair market price for your property. It’s always a good idea to look at similar properties in your area, how much they sold for, and how much they listed for. Remember, anyone can ask anything for a property, but only the buyer determines what a fair market price is.

Supply and demand characterize real estate markets all over the world. There are many comparative market aggregators for real estate listings. Shop around at free listing sites to get an idea of what your property is worth according to various valuations. Property appraisal is not an exact science; it’s an art. A buyer may simply love your property and be willing to pay substantially more than the market price to own it. When sentiment is involved, it’s important to be able to liaise effectively with buyers and listing agents to ensure a smooth deal goes through.

Home preparation is an essential part of the process. Neatness, cleanliness, modernity, and a friendly milieu all work towards making your home more saleable. Of course, there are many added extras that you can adopt to make your property inherently more attractive. These include a quality home warranty for home sellers .

The benefit of a home warranty for sellers is that it is relatively inexpensive at around $300 per year, yet it covers the appliances, HVACs, swimming pools, motors, dryers, washers and many other gizmos and gadgets in your home. These items can be substantial cost concerns when they go on the blink. When a buyer is assuaged with a seller’s home warranty plan, this adds greater peace of mind and helps to seal the deal much easier.

Ready to Sell? Be Firm & Fair

Once you put all your proverbial ducks in a row, you’ll want to communicate this information to your real estate agent and down the chain. Every time your home goes on show, it should be immaculately prepared to receive potential homeowners. A seller who is accommodating towards potential buyers is likely to win over their trust more than a seller who is intransigent to meeting potential buyers on their schedule. It’s all about give-and-take, keeping a poker face at times, and offering perceived added value.

For example, you may wish to leave behind a wall-mounted TV for the buyer if they accept your selling price. These added-value items may include additional items of furniture as an enticement to close the deal. Develop a good rapport with your listing agent, and be flexible enough to accommodate clients on their terms. Consider all offers and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.  It’s good to be firm and fair, polite and courteous because you never know who is flush with cash.

How to clear your credit report like a pro

If you are dreaming about a new home or a car, it’s a good time to check your credit report before hunting down potential lenders. This is a mirror of your financial maturity, your ability to take care of debt in a systematic way, proving good faith. The idea of a score measuring integrity is almost 30 years old and has been perfected over the years. Currently, the FICO algorithm is at its 9th version which takes some of the burdens of unpaid medical bills, doesn’t count the paid collections as debt and takes into consideration rent as an indicator. If you are below that perfect 700+ range, here are a few ideas that could prove useful to get it a few points up in a couple of months. Remember, there are no quick fixes.

Is it talking about you? The devil is in the details

As astonishing as it might seem, over 25% of credit reports contain errors. Therefore, it is safe to assume that without proper verification your score could be different. The first line of defense is to ensure the debt is indeed yours. Name spelling mistakes, changes of address or other similar errors could result in assigning the wrong person with a record that impacts their score. If you see any mismatch in your personal data (name, DOB, social security number), contact each of the three offices and notify about discrepancies.

Dispute judgements

One of the most damaging things you can have on your credit report is a judgment since this stays on your name for seven years. The unsatisfied judgments can seriously affect your score, and you should do your best to remove them either by full payment or negotiating installments if the value is significant. Vacated judgments should be reported to the bureaus to prevent them from turning into phantom money. The worst-case scenario is a re-filed judgment which is another seven years of bad luck on your FICO statement. If you have such a problem, consult the following material on clearing your statement http://aaacreditguide.com/judgments/.

Avoid hard inquiries

Every time you apply for a credit card, a mortgage or any other type of loan, the lender or bank will perform a hard inquiry that impacts your FICO score. The fact that you are looking for credit means that you don’t have enough cash and you could present a risk to a lender. Shopping around too much can lower your score for 12 months. If you are not sure you want to apply for a particular product, ask the lender to perform a soft inquiry or a simulation. If you have past hard inquiries, over 12 months old, check that these have been appropriately removed.

Phantom money?

If one of your accounts is given to a collections agency, it could show up twice on your report. This error is easy to spot when you see the amount twice, from two different creditors. It should not happen since you own the same amount, just to a distinct entity. Debt that has been paid, but not removed from your report falls in the same category.

Ask for forgiveness on bills paid a few days later

Everybody makes honest mistakes and can forget about payment. If it is a one-time occurrence, you can ask for a good faith agreement. A creditor who has a long positive history with you will most likely admit your claim and remove it from your credit report.  Another idea is to promise that you will automate payments to avoid missing any other terms.

What situations did you encounter on your credit reports and how did you solve them?

3 ways to reduce your debt right now

Around 8 in 10 people are in debt. From personal loans, to credit cards and credit facilities, unsecured debt is used widely. As interest rates have risen and the cost of living continues to go up, for many the focus is now on reducing existing debts to avoid paying more interest on them. This is especially important if you have high cost borrowing on doorstep loans or other short term loans. So, what can you do to reduce your debt right now?

  1. Pay it off with what you have

Even with recent interest rate rises, the cost of debt today is still significantly more than the potential interest you can earn from savings. So, it makes a lot of sense to use at least some of any savings you have to reduce existing debts and stop paying the interest on them. If you don’t have savings then look for other ways to start chipping away at debts. Selling old electronics, books, clothes or unwanted Christmas gifts could quickly generate cash you can use to reduce your debts. You could also look at reworking your budget so that, for the next few months at least, you spend less of your income and put the savings towards repaying your debt instead.

  1. Look for ways you can save

Ask your current lenders to reduce the interest rates on your existing debts so that you’re paying less for them overall. If the lenders won’t negotiate then refinancing your debts with a lower interest rate – or consolidating them – will reduce what you owe in total. Be proactive about finding better deals for monthly expenses, such as energy costs or insurance. If you’re able to reduce what you’re spending each month – starting from now – then you’ll create “spare” cash that you can put towards reducing your debts.

  1. Analyse how you’re paying your debts

If you have multiple debts then look at the way that you’re managing these debts. Are you paying more on the lower interest rate debts and so find yourself stuck with the more expensive debt for longer? Do you repay debt on a credit card each month only to then go on and re-spend everything a week later? If you want to reduce your debt now then it may simply be a case of reorganising the way that you’re making repayments – and changing your priorities. Cut up your cards so that you can’t spend what you repay and the balance remains reduced. Reschedule your payments so that you’re paying more to the debt with the highest interest rate first.

Reduce your debt right now – quick tips

  • Make a debt repayment plan and stick to it
  • Start making two minimum payments per month
  • Transfer your balance to a cheaper lender
  • Improve your credit score to access better interest rates
  • Get better at budgeting and find extra cash to reduce your debts
  • Consolidate multiple debts into a single one with a lower interest rate
  • Stop spending – cutting back will mean that all your efforts to reduce your debt will have much more impact

 

5 Invoicing Mistakes That Will Kill Your Business

Making money is great. Congratulations if you’ve landed a new client or had successful sales. Do you want to keep it up?

Of course you do. That’s why you need to be careful not fall into the trap of messing up the invoicing process. It’s really common that businesses and freelancers will expect to simply send the bill and collect the money, but there are a few mistakes you need to avoid if you want to keep that business going.

Steer clear of these 5 invoicing mistakes and you’ll set yourself up for success.

1. Not listing the terms on invoices.

You spend time networking to get the meeting. You talk with the prospect about what you can do to help. You email the lead your proposal with all the specifics. You both agree on the terms and, finally, you land the client.

Now you just send the bill and get to work. Right? Wrong. It might seem redundant to include the terms of your arrangement on the invoice. After all, you discussed this with the client verbally, they signed the contract, and you’re both clear on what to do next.

Even when things seem like they’re packaged neatly in your contract and you both are on the same page, listing the terms on every invoice is absolutely critical for you for a lot of reasons.

The payment terms, for one, are important because you don’t know if the person paying this bill is the same one that you’ve spoke with. They may have no information on what you and the buyer agreed on let alone who you even are. Include the date when you expect to receive payment and how much of the total payment you expect on your invoice to avoid this confusion.

List the services you’re providing on every invoice and when you will deliver them by. This is for your own sanity as well as the health of your relationship with the client. When you have a list of what you’re doing each month it becomes easier to plan ahead for you and the client can’t use the lack of clarity as a reason to ask for more or claim that you didn’t deliver.

Seriously, include this information on every invoice. You’ll be preventing headaches down the road and keeping clients happy by doing so.

2. Not branding the invoices.

Let’s face it. “Many of the invoices sent today are not from agencies or large companies with established branding and logos,” says Deep Patel, the founder of Owlmetrics.

If you’re one of the thousands of individual freelancers or small businesses that regularly invoice clients, you shouldn’t use your size as an excuse to miss the opportunity to increase your brand awareness and appear as professional as possible.

If you don’t have a logo already look into getting one made using a site like Deluxe, so that you can include it in your invoices.

If you have a logo, but haven’t yet incorporated it in the header of your invoices, take the time to add it. Not only does this make you more professional looking, but you never know who’s looking. I had a client come to me to help market her startup simply because she noticed my brand on the invoices that she paid for her 9-5 job. It’s an important little detail that can get you big results, so make sure you brand your invoices!

3. Not accepting multiple forms of payment.

If you’re running an ecommerce business or other site where you accept payments online, you’re leaving tons of value on the table by limiting the types of payment you accept.

As the world continues to go digital and new options become available for both domestic and international payment you’ll want to be set up for success no matter what the next invoicing innovation might be.

Consider partnering with a company like Due for a quick and easy way to accept just about any type of payment online that the world can throw at you. It makes it easy to collect without having to learn about each payment option and do all the on-site implementation for each choice.

4. Not factoring in fixed costs and expenses

“Invoicing for the services provided and ignoring the fixed costs that you incur as you provide them can be a costly mistake to make,” says Mike Clum, the founder of a Facebook advertising agency.

Obviously, the fixed costs associated with your business are going to vary depending on what you do, but they always impact the financial results over the long run unless you account for them. Consider the tools you use for clients and how much they cost you on a monthly basis. Factor in the money you spend on marketing services like Facebook ads and other PPC campaigns.

Add up all of your expenses and fixed costs before you start quoting prospects on price. When you land clients, include a breakdown of the costs in your invoice to them.

Every business has operating costs, but it’s easy to forget about accounting for them when quoting prices. Don’t make this mistake. If you have several costs that can be spread between clients, make sure you include them in your invoices so you’re not shouldering the entire burden every month. By doing this you avoid any surprises down the road when you start accounting for your income.

5. Not establishing invoicing agreements or collecting retainers before starting.

When you’re a freelancer or just getting started with your business, landing those first few clients is a great feeling. It’s so important to keep things logical and systematic when you’re in business for yourself.

Without keeping up systems like your retainer collection policy and setting up clear and written invoicing agreements, you’re risking damage to your business and the relationship with your client.

This invoicing mistake can be avoided with a little planning and organization on your part before you go prospecting for new business.

The Best Ways to Crowdfund Property Investments 

Most of us are no strangers to crowdfunding. Perhaps you’ve donated to a friend’s Kickstarter campaign, or given money to a hot new product that you think shows potential. In recent years, though, the face of crowdfunding has changed. Instead of cash donations, crowd funders are instead investing in small stakes in projects, with property becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors in the industry.

Businesses are able to market formerly private investments to the public and are designed to help startups get their foot through the door. Property crowdfunding has also been adopted by house-flippers as an alternative to bank financing, which can sometimes be difficult to access. Nowadays, there are more and more crowdfunding platforms breaking into the field of property investments.

Crowdfunding helps to level the playing field in today’s housing market, giving individuals the opportunity to participate in lucrative projects that were formerly only available to large-scale investors. Now, lawyers, doctors, small business owners, and other professionals can invest in properties from family developments to shopping centers. Property crowdfunding is still relatively new, but if you’re interested, there are a couple of avenues that you can follow when investing.

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding platforms allow investors to participate in projects alongside major property companies as they build or develop new properties. Typically, investors might raise some cash by releasing home equity, using alternate savings or even taking out a loan for investment purposes. Investors receive a share of the profits without having to worry about managing any property themselves. Fees are typically reasonable, usually between 0.5% and 3% annually, and there’s often a low barrier of entry for interested investors.

Syndicated Debt Crowdfunding

Instead of allowing individuals to invest directly, debt syndication platforms divide up an existing housing loan and syndicate it out to several investors. These loans are usually offered by private lenders instead of banks, and often issue high interest rates. While syndicated debt crowdfunding is less risky than equity crowdfunding, it also includes a middleman, which means lower returns for the investor.

Platform-issued Debt Crowdfunding

This model often involves smaller properties, including single-family homes that are to be renovated and resold for a quick profit. Many house-flippers use this type of crowdfunding to raise the money they need to fix up and sell a property. Investors can buy into a property backed loan with the platform acting as a lender, so no middleman is involved. This type of investment is relatively low-risk and often yields results quickly, but offers less upside than equity.

How to Organize a Stunning Destination Wedding on a Budget

Nearly 350,000 destination weddings occur each year, representing 24 percent of all American marriages annually. A destination wedding can provide the happy couple and guests with a memorable travel experience that adds to the excitement and fun surrounding a wedding.

Unlike weddings that occur locally, destination weddings can be difficult to plan because of a variety of logistical challenges. Whereas it is usually easy enough to visit a wedding venue should questions about seating or catering arise, it is often much harder to access a destination wedding venue during the planning process because of the need to travel.

This article will help those interested in organizing a memorable destination wedding to do so without breaking the bank. Follow a few simple tips to create an occasion that will satisfy everyone involved.

 

Find a destination that offers a lot of value

 

A study published by the Knot found that the average cost of a wedding varies greatly between different states. For example, it costs approximately $22,000 to throw a wedding in Oregon but double the amount to get married in Los Angeles, California.

Those interested in hosting a destination wedding, be it inside of or outside of the United States should first identify a wedding destination that offers genuine value. Finding a destination that traditionally offers good bang for your buck is a great way to prevent the need to go into debt to finance a wedding. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in some serious credit repair efforts.

 

Search for well-made attire produced by boutique brands

 

Well-known brands charge a premium for items that might otherwise be considerably less. This is true for a number of industries including the fashion industry. For those searching for a well-made wedding dress, it is best to avoid purchasing the dress from a name brand designer. Instead, look at the dresses offered by famous designers and choose a similar style offered by a lesser known brand. Azazie offers stunning bridal and bridesmaid dresses that are reasonably priced.

The groom and groomsmen should follow similar advice. It is best to look for items that were made to last, without focusing on household brands. Take the dress shoes designed by Taft Clothing as an example, the same shoe offered by a name brand might retail for two times as much.

 

Ask guests to chip in for wedding expenses

 

There are a number of new platforms designed to make it simply for the bride and groom to collect cash gifts that can be used to pay for aspects of the wedding. Tools like Zola and Zankyou allow new couples to start funds that encourage wedding guests to generously provide money rather than gift yet another unnecessary homeware.

 

Combine the wedding with the honeymoon

 

Having a destination wedding offers a unique benefit that can help to save money while providing a memorable experience. If the bride and groom choose the right destination, the wedding can double as a honeymoon retreat. Instead of needing to pay for airfare and accommodations after the wedding, both experiences can be rolled into one.

By bundling transportation, and accommodations it is likely that the happy couple will be able to negotiate a more reasonable rate for big tick items related to the honeymoon. Hotels for example are often willing to lower room rates for those who book a block of rooms, something the couple can benefit from when the wedding is over and the honeymoon begins.

 

Plan festivities well in advance

 

A great way to save money on a destination wedding is to plan the festivities well in advance. Booking flights and hotels are usually less expensive when done in advance. Planning in advance will also give you time to negotiate price with various wedding vendors, something that is much harder to do when trying to plan a wedding at the last minute.

To negotiate the price of various vendors, get a quote from a series of competing providers. Negotiate each quote down if possible, and share the quote with the other prospective vendors. Doing this in advance is often a great way to get rates that might otherwise be difficult to secure.

Conclusion

A destination wedding has the potential to make what would ordinarily be a special occasion, even more memorable. To save money on a stunning destination wedding, be sure to select a destination that is usually well-price. Purchase wedding attire from smaller boutique brands, and consider asking wedding guests for cash gifts that can be used to pay for some wedding costs.

Planning in advance, and organizing a joint wedding and honeymoon are other ways to reliably save money while planning a spectacular destination wedding.

When are you not covered by home insurance? The Pittsburgh Example

“Pittsburgh, it’s just more prone to flooding.”According to Action News, the geographical location of Pittsburgh and the increase in ferocity of rain storms, have led to the nightmare flooding scenario that has occurred in the city this summer.

Due to the high likelihood of flooding in some areas of the city; they are designated flood zones, where state law requires home owners to have flood insurance. In other areas this is not the case, and home owners have had to face the nightmare of not being covered by their home insurance. Flooding is just one occurrence that is not covered; what other surprises might there be if you ever must make a claim?

What your home insurance probably will not cover

You do not want to be in the same situation as some of the people in Pittsburgh, so it’s always best to know what your home insurance covers. Too many people do not read all of the content of their home insurance policy; you need to spend some time doing so. This is the best way to find out exactly what it covers. Here are some tips about what is not likely to be included in coverage.

  • Mold – most policies do not cover this, unless you pay extra. Mold can be expensive to deal with so it’s best to try and prevent it from appearing in the first place.
  • Damage from construction work – this is an important consideration if you are having your property renovated or extended. You need to make sure you are covered in case of any damage. When you hire a contractor, you should check that they are fully insured. You may also need to take out specialist insurance.
  • Expensive collectables – if you own any expensive jewelry or antiques, you probably already have them insured separately. If not, you need to make sure that you take out separate insurance as soon as possible.
  • Trampoline accidents – given how many people now have trampolines in their yard, for their children to play on, this could be an important exclusion. It’s worth checking that you would be covered if your children, or their friends, had an accident.
  • Infestation by termites – if your home suffers from one of these infestations, it can end up costing you thousands of dollars to repair the damage. The best way to stop this from happening is to try and prevent an infestation.

This list of potential exclusions is not exhaustive. When you buy a home insurance policy, you should check what is not included in coverage.

What else do you need to think about?

Home insurance is an important investment, so you need to take time to choose the right policy. You will have seen the advertisements for big name insurance providers such as All State and MetLife. But, you may want to start by approaching your bank for advice. Institutions such as PNC Bank help with several different financial products, including home insurance. You can visit PNC bank to discuss your requirements with the experts. It’s worth checking with your bank, to see what it offers. Then you can research all of your options, and make the best decision for you.

Do not forget that exclusions should always be included in any consideration. It’s fine choosing a cost-effective policy, but you do not want to be the victim of any unpleasant surprises in the future.

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