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7 Alternatives To A Loan

Whilst loans can be a convenient way of paying for out-of-pocket expenses, they carry extra costs in the long run. If you can’t afford something and don’t want to take out a loan, here are 7 alternative funding options to consider.

Sell your clutter

Many of us have unwanted possessions in our home that we can sell for cash. You may be able to take these items to a second-hand store and get some money for them straight away, however you’ll likely get less money that using other selling methods. Online sites such as Gumtree are often one of the best ways of selling clutter, providing you don’t need the money in a hurry – you can find local buyers who can pick the item up rather than having to deliver the item, and you can set your own price. Other ways of selling your clutter could involve taking items to auctions, hosting a yard sell, pawning these items or recycling them for cash. Explore all your options to find the most profitable one for each item (for example, antiques may be better sold at an auction, whilst old broken electronics may make more money being sold for parts).

Borrow from your pension       

It’s possible to borrow money from your pension pot. This could leave you with less money to retire on, although you could always make efforts to pay this money back into your own savings account (you won’t have to pay any interest because you’re technically borrowing from yourself). In certain cases, there may be restrictions preventing your from accessing your retirement fund early – you can read more into borrowing from your pension here.

Get an equity release

If you own a property and have owned it for a while, it’s likely that this property has increased in value over the years. It’s possible to access this added value without selling your property by opting for something called an equity release via companies such as Sun Life. This is technically a loan, but you only pay it back when your property is sold or when you die, making it more practical than a regular loan that has to be paid back straight away. An equity release isn’t a good option if you plan to sell your property soon and upsize. Many people use it as an extra retirement fund, usually when they don’t plan to ever move.

Seek legal compensation

In the case of an emergency cost, consider whether the emergency was directly caused by someone else. Car accident repairs or medical treatment costs could be covered by legal compensation if you believe that somebody else directly caused the damage, saving you the unnecessary costs of taking out a loan. There are many lawyers out there such as Slack Davis Sanger Law Firm that can help you potentially win compensation for accidents as wide ranging as medical malpractice to aircraft accidents. This money is not something that you’re likely to get access instantly, but it could still be worth waiting for in certain cases.

Get funding from investors

If you’re trying to fund a business or some kind of community project, you could always consider seeking out investors rather than taking out a loan. You don’t have to pay back the money that an investor gives you, however many investors will generally want something in it for them such as future shares in profits. Investors will also generally only give you money if they believe in your cause – you may want to spend some time writing up a persuasive pitch as well as getting a financial advisor to help you with figures.

Borrow from a friend/family member

By borrowing from a friend or family member, you could prevent yourself from having to pay interest and arrange a more flexible means of paying the money back. Of course, you do need to be careful of borrowing from friends and family as it can put a strain on your relationship. Make sure that you have the willpower to pay them back.

Save up

When it comes to non-emergency expenses, you could always take the old-fashioned option of saving up. This is a much slower process that takes a lot of willpower, but it’s undoubtedly the most rewarding way of raising funds. You could even consider putting the money in a high interest account where it will naturally increase in value. There are some things you can’t save up for (few people can save up for a house without using some kind of loan in conjunction), however treats such as a holiday or a new car could be things that you can save up for.

Are Your Finances Letting You Down?

Finances are tricky to get on with, and everyone has their own kind of trouble with them. It’s one of the main sources of worry for the population of the world, seeing as we call those with millions and billions in their accounts the 1%. But it’s important to remember you’re not alone in your struggles, and that there are plenty of methods to bring your finances back up and keep them lifted.

As we stated, handling your money carefully and cleverly is something everyone needs to do in their own way; we all have our own experiences, our own opportunities, our own jobs and salaries from them, our own backgrounds etc. But when it comes to making sure you’re on top of your finances, and they’re not dropping away as you’re clinging to them for stability, there’s some general rules we can apply. So here’s some tips and tricks to use in your day to day life to look after the pennies.

Calculate Costs By Year

We always need to look at the big picture when it comes to looking after our finances, and that can be hard to do when you don’t track what you bring in and what you spend on an annual basis. We mostly calculate our profit and loss by week or month, and that can be dangerous if you’ve got a volatile job or varying rates of pay, or if you’re often strapped for cash and have little ability to plan ahead as a result.

So all in all, it’s very good practice to start budgeting by the year. This allows you to oversee every facet of your financial life, and then to plan accordingly. If you’ve got a holiday coming up at the end of the year, you can budget for it from the beginning of the year, making it a lot easier to have some souvenir money to spend whilst you’re there. If you’re worried about the amount of money you’re spending on food each week, you can easily find out just how much of your yearly income goes towards filling the fridge. If the number shocks you, now you can cut back a few dollars every month, which can go towards savings or that new 52 inch flat screen TV you’ve had your eye on for a while.

Budgeting by year is a much easier way of forming a plan of attack, so try it out now. Thankfully, there’s a lot of budgeting apps out there that can help you, and there’s always some spreadsheets you can sketch out yourself to better personalise your budget to your household.

Take a Look at Your Habits

We all have money habits, both good and bad. We can only ever pay for food at the takeaway with our card, simply because it’s easier to use, instead of rifling through our wallet for the correct change. When you’ve already got the money there, why do you dip your bank account even lower and risk your budget’s health? Because it’s a habit, and we need to change it.

Habits are hard to spot when you don’t have any clue you’re doing them, which is why we need to be hypervigilant with ourselves. Leave your frustration with your inability to stop biting your nails at the door and turn your attention to your financial habits; are you someone who forgets to sock away some income into your savings every paycheck? Have you made a bad investment in the past that never paid off? Are you known for impulse buying whenever the fancy takes you? No matter what it is that you feel is harming your bank account, take stock of it now.

For example, when you see a sale, don’t head in unless the shop is offering something you actually need. Similarly, sometimes there’s a lot of deals on the supermarket shelves that just entice you to buy more, even when you had no intention of buying from the particular aisle in the first place. Always remember that just because there’s a reduced sticker on an item doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for your household!

Don’t Be Afraid of Credit Options

Finances make the world go round, and they make it spin the fastest for those who have money to lend out to people and accumulate interest on. Even taking out a secured credit card feels very dangerous! But even though we often think of credit options as being last resorts and deep, dark pits to fall into, there’s a good side to them to. They’re worth taking a look at at least, especially if you’ve got a credit score to build!

There’s a lot of credit options for you to look into these days, and no longer do you have to rely on your bank and your bank alone (whilst avoiding the loan shark in the alley). Now you can turn to the internet for sites such as Bonsai Finance and plenty of other options with just a quick Google search. And that just makes the entire premise easier, and with little effort, apart from being able to thoroughly comb through a credit agreement.

Your Finances aren’t as Bad as You Think!

When it comes to reviewing our own finances, we’re always going to be harsher than we need to be. Because of this we make judgements we often don’t need to, so before you start off with your financial planning, make sure you’re aware of the norm. Know your place in the financial world and you’re never going to overreach or sell yourself short.

All in all, if you feel your bank account is on a downward spiral, make sure you’re aware of it and putting a plan in action. And with the tips above, you might just stop the tide before it overflows you. But there’s always more information available, so make sure you’re doing your own research as well.

A Beginner’s Guide To Saving Money Every Month

Are you trying to save money, but don’t know where to start? Good, then you’re in the right place! The hardest aspect of saving money is not having any structure to your savings. Some people just put some money away now and then but will wonder why their savings aren’t that substantial. If you really want to save, then you need to focus on saving money every month.

How can you do this? Take a look at this very simple beginner’s guide to help set you on the right path:

Reduce Energy Use In The Home

If you can tackle one of your most substantial monthly expenses – your energy bill – then you’ll very quickly save money every month. It’s a simple concept; use less energy, and pay less each month. There are a thousand and one ideas when it comes to lowering your energy consumption. These days, a lot of experts recommend using smart apps to reduce energy costs by tracking the amount of energy you’re using and figuring out where most of it is coming from. This helps you see that your central heating system may use up the most energy, so you will then try and turn it on less by just wearing warmer clothes around the home. Unplugging electrical appliances and turning things off when they’re not being used is another one of many ideas to help you reduce energy usage and save money.

Drive Your Car Less Frequently

Family cars are another very substantial personal finance expense. Mainly, this comes in the form of fuel. The average family will fill their car up every week or two, and you don’t need me to tell you that it isn’t cheap! If you’re doing this every month, then the costs soon skyrocket. All you have to do is drive your car less frequently to save money on fuel. It’s really that simple! Try walking when you only have a short distance to travel, or even consider buying a bike to cycle to work instead. The savings you generate will be pretty incredible, and you have the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly as well!

Shop Smarter

Lower your food bill by being a much smarter shopper and staying away from the overly expensive products. Buy non-brand versions of things, and you essentially get a very similar product for half the price – or less. Trust me, you could save hundreds every month just by doing something this simple.

Set Up A Direct Debit Into A Savings Account

All these ideas help you spend less money and therefore save a lot more. But, the final idea is to set up a direct debit that goes into a dedicated savings account. Here, you pick a manageable figure and set it so you send money to your savings each month. Doing this will slowly grow your savings and ensure you’ll never forget to deposit money.

By using this guide, you will be in a much better position to save money. Work on reducing your monthly expenses, and start saving plenty of cash every month.

How to Conduct a Financial Health Check

Every now and then, it is important that you check how well you are doing financially. If you are generally the kind of person who settles for surviving from one month to the next, you will have to change your attitude towards money, so you can improve your financial future. Looking at your budget and your spending as an outsider can be a good idea, and you don’t even have to involve others unless you want to. Below you will find a few tips on how to conduct a financial health check for your household and spot opportunities to improve.

List Your Expenses

First, you will have to list all your expenditures. Make sure that you include the regular bills, such as rent, tax, insurance, and the cost of motoring. Don’t forget about those magazine subscriptions, the cell phone and TV bill, the credit payments, and the occasional days out, either. Every little thing adds up and reduces the amount you have left at the end of the month. Chances are that you don’t even realize how much you spend unless you create a detailed list.

Account for Your Income

Next, you will have to work out how much you earn from all your jobs, side gigs, and how much money you receive for a rental property, maintenance, or other sources, such as tax credits. If you find that your income is below your expenses, you have a serious problem to deal with and have to work on balancing out the two figures. If you don’t earn enough to cover all your expenditures, chances are that you are living beyond your means and will end up in debt.

Check Your Savings

Once you know about your regular income and expenses, it might be time to look whether or not you have any savings. This might be an old account your grandparents have opened, or an equity on your home. Whatever you have, you can use it to earn you interest of pay off your existing debt, so you can take better care of your financial health in the future.

Check Credit Interest

It is also crucial that you check how much interest you are paying on each account. Don’t think about the credit card accounts and loans only; if you bought a cell phone or a computer on credit, you might be paying over 40 percent. If you would like to find the right products for your credit rating and circumstances and reduce the rate of interest you are paying, you can check out Bonsai Finance to compare the different rates and conditions. This way, you can make better decisions about your money long term.

Review Your Investment Income

In case you have any investments, including a pension, a 401K account, or stocks and shares, it might be time to check what they bring on the table and whether they are growing or shrinking. If you are not familiar with the different products, it might be a good idea to set up an appointment with a personal financial advisor who can look through all your products and give you some helpful suggestions on where to move your money to increase your interest earnings. The same principle applies to your investment properties or collections you are keeping in the hope that their value will go up.

Prioritize Your Debt

As soon as you see clearly about your debt, it might be time to create a plan for paying it off. In case you have more than one account open and don’t know which one to settle first, you will have to evaluate your circumstances. If you are behind your mortgage, this should have priority. However, if you only have unsecured debt, you might want to pay off the account that charges the most interest and is the most expensive to keep open.

Work Out Where You Will Be Five Years From Now

You can’t create a detailed financial plan if you don’t know what you would like to achieve. It is important that you think about the long term finances, and decide where you would like to be in five years’ time. Whether you want to save up for a deposit to buy your first home or travel the world, your financial situation needs to be right. If you want to move house or renovate your bathroom, it might be time to make some smart investment decisions today.

Ask Yourself If You Are Living The Life You Want To

To complete your financial health check, you will also have to ask yourself whether or not you are happy with your life. If you are not happy at home or in your job, it will be much harder to keep on top of your finances. Whether it is insecurity, relationship, or work issues that are making your life harder, you’d better deal with the issues here and now, or you will stay disconnected, get too busy dealing with the problems, and will not have the time and energy to improve your financial decisions.

Look for Development Areas and Get Professional Advice

As soon as you  have completed your financial health check yourself, it might be time to have a chat with a professional to confirm your findings. Once you know where you need to make improvements, you will have to explore the different opportunities and make sure that you are dealing with the problems one-by-one. Unless you are a trained accountant or personal finance expert, you will find it hard to navigate your way through the different options. Getting a professional advice to make the most out of your savings and reduce your credit gradually might be the best thing you’ll ever do.

It is important that you complete a financial health check every couple of years, or when you are about to make an important decision. Whether you decided to go back to college, change your job, or move to a new home, you will need to make sure that your money issues don’t stand in your way.

What You Need To Know About Taking Care Of Your Financial Health

If you’re not concerned about taking care of your financial health yet, you should be. Paying attention to your financial health early on is imperative if you’re going to have savings, investments, and things that will provide you with a happy, healthy, carefree future.

It doesn’t matter how young you think you are, you’re never too young to begin taking care of your financial health. Here’s what you need to know so you can get to work on it ASAP:

Step one: Assess Your Finances

The first thing you need to do is assess your finances. How much are you earning and spending? How much are you spending on bills? What are your habits like right now and how can you improve? Being honest with yourself is key to getting the ball rolling. Your bank can sometimes provide you with insights, or you can use an app to track your spending and see what’s going on.

Step two: Save An Emergency Fund

Saving an emergency fund should be the first thing you do, if you haven’t done this already. This usually includes 6-12 months of living expenses to cover emergencies. If you want help with this, you can look at reviews by the Motley Fool to get an idea of who to save with and the best banks. An emergency fund will give you peace of mind in the future, whether your job is on the line or you need a new car.

Step three: Look At Your Retirement Savings/Pension

How does your retirement savings/pension look? The sooner you start putting money into this, the better. Your future self will thank you.

Step four: Pay Off Your Debt

Paying off your debts is key if you want more money to put into savings/investments. You don’t want it all to be going on interest. Find a method of paying off your debt that suits you, whether that’s paying off the smaller debts first to gain momentum, or paying off the larger ones to reduce interest.

Step five: Start Investing As Soon As You Can

As soon as you can, start investing. It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about it, you should be doing it. There are free resources that can teach you all about it online, and even apps you can use to make investments for you.

Step six: Perform Experiments To See if You Can Improve Your Cash Flow

There are going to be many ways you can improve your cash flow without swapping much of your time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start a vlog and monetize your videos.
  • Look at affiliate marketing.
  • Try dropshipping.
  • Write an ebook.
  • Create a course.
  • Rent out a spare room in your home or your driveway.
  • Advertise a company on your car.

Step seven: Develop A Better Relationship With Money

While you’re doing all of the above, make sure you’re also working on developing a better relationship with money. The relationship you have with money can affect how you earn it and use it, so make it a positive one!

Protect Your Business from Legal Issues

When you run a business, making sure that it stays in compliance with the law is one of your top priorities. Otherwise, you could find yourself in legal hot water which threatens the future of your company. And after working so hard to build this up in the first place, this is the last thing that you want to happen. Just because you are a small business owner, this does not make you immune to the law and everything that this entails. So, here are a few of the top ways of protecting your business from potentially expensive and damaging legal complications.

Read Up on Business Laws

Even if you have a legal team on retainer, it still helps to have the knowledge for yourself. Every type of business has specific laws which regulate operations. Financial laws should be one of your first priorities, as well as employment and labour laws. If you run a creative business, reading up on intellectual property law will help you to keep your work protected. And an understanding of marketing and advertising law will also defend you from potential lawsuits in this field.

Back Up Partnerships with Contracts

Even if you are sure of a verbal agreement, it still helps to have your partnerships confirmed by a clearly written contract. This way, both parties are literally on the same page. As well as helping to reduce the chances of disagreements further down the line, you also have something that you can refer back to in the event of a difference of opinions.

Keep Up with Paperwork

Tax filing and record keeping can be tricky for a lot of business people. And if you are not used to it, not only can this by a mundane and boring task, it can also end up being a complicated one. This is why so many entrepreneurs decide that the best course of action for them is to hire a professional to take care of it. You can end up saving yourself a lot of future legal headaches in this manner.

Seek Advice When You Need it

There is no doubt that the world of business can get complicated at times. And depending on what area of business you are getting into, there will be specialists who can help you own with each individual area. Perhaps you are looking for something highly specialised such as debt collection licensing requirements by state. Rather than trying to wing it, you are better off going to a firm which is well-versed in this specific area. Not only will this help to put your mind at ease, it will also free up your time to concentrate on tasks which are more suited to your specific skill set.

Though it may not feel like the most exciting task in the world to protect your business from legal issues, it is one which is necessary to complete to ensure the continuity of your company.