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3 Ways to Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs

Have you ever stopped to think how much it costs to get a person to buy one of your products?

Then you’re in the right place.

Customers come with a price tag called customer acquisition cost (CAC), and it’s one of the most important pieces of information for business owners who want to get more customers without breaking their marketing budget.

So, how do you get more customers without breaking the bank? We’ve broken things down into three categories:

  1. Streamline your customer’s shopping process
  2. Optimize your marketing tactics
  3. Embrace customer relationship management

Let’s dive right in!

What is customer acquisition cost?

Your customer acquisition cost is defined as how much it costs your business to attract a new customer.

How to calculate customer acquisition cost

reduce customer acquisition cost

CAC is calculated by adding up all your marketing and sales costs and dividing them by the number of new customers acquired for a certain period of time. Here’s the formula:

customer acquisiition cost

For example:

Let’s say you spent $5,000 on marketing and sales expenses this October. That same month, you got 1,000 new customers (meaning only customers that have never previously visited or made a transaction at your store).

Sum of all marketing and sales expenses = $5,000.00
Total newly acquired customers = 1,000
CAC = $5

In this example, it costs you $5 to acquire a new customer.

The next question you should ask is “what is my average transaction value?” If your point of sale system’s sales reports tell you that your average transaction value (ATV) for October is under $5, that means you’re effectively spending more than you’re making per sale. Not good. Your ATV should ideally be higher than your CAC.

How to reduce customer acquisition cost

Let’s say you fall into the above category: Your CAC is higher than your ATV. How do you lower your CAC?

Streamline your customer’s shopping experience

A great way to lower your acquisition cost? Remove as many barriers to purchase as possible.

Make it easy for customers to find and buy what they’re looking for either in your store or on your website. The easier it is for them to find and complete a purchase, the more transactions your store stands to make (that’s why online vendors are developing one-click to purchase technology).

The same can be said for brick-and-mortar transactions: Every retailer’s goal should be to remove as many friction points from their purchasing process as possible.

Imagine being a customer ready to buy something, only to find yourself in a lengthy lineup to pay. Most customers will abandon their purchase entirely if the wait time is too long. Research from Irisys found that Americans will leave a checkout line after waiting just six minutes.

The best way to stop losing sales from long checkout lineups? Eliminate them altogether.

Barbara Thau, a contributing writer for Forbes, suggests that brick-and-mortar retailers “banish the wait in line, once and for all” to avoid losing sales.

A cloud-based point of sale effectively removes the need for lineups and traditional cash registers. Sales associates can ring up sales from anywhere in the store and accept any type of payment. Only If the transaction is in cash do you need to move the transaction to your cash register, but consumers are using cash less and less these days.

If you want to increase your average transaction value, we suggest refreshing your store merchandising and point of purchase displays to cross-sell more items. For a deeper look into how you can increase in-store sales, check out a list that Lightspeed curated with other retail experts, How to Increase Retail Sales – 11 Tips.

Make your business easy to find online by local customers

reducing customer acquisition cost

The next step is to get more customers to find your store or website for free. To do this, we suggest doing the following:

  • Create a Google My Business (GMB) profile
  • Include your store’s contact information on its Facebook and Instagram Business Profile
  • Use the right keywords to describe your business on your Facebook and Instagram Business Profile

The concept here is simple: focus your marketing on people that live close to your business. If they can find you online, see your inventory and get directions fast, the likelihood of them paying you a visit increases substantially.

That’s why we created a step-by-step guide to creating a GMB profile and optimizing your business’s Facebook and Instagram profiles so that you get found online by more local customers entirely for free. With a little work, you can attract customers for $0.

Embrace customer relationship management

If you consistently have what customers are looking for in stock and your customer service is personalized, friendly and helpful, customers are likely to come back to your store again and again.

The more they come, the more they buy. Commonly known as customer lifetime value (CLV), the metric looks at the estimated revenue you make from a customer over the duration of their relationship with the company.

We mentioned ATV earlier, you can think of this as a micro view of your sales. CLV, on the other hand, is the macro view—the big picture.

In an ideal world, you want a 3:1 CLV to CAC ratio. In a nutshell, this means that you generate three times more revenue from a customer than what it cost you to acquire them.

But how do you achieve that ratio? In part, by leveraging loyalty programs, referral programs and customer retention.

Loyalty programs

A loyalty rewards program incentivizes members to make more purchases, eventually getting points they can exchange for exclusive rewards. In a nutshell, it motivates repeat visits and purchases. The more purchases they make, the more points they get to exchange for exclusive offers, promotions and gifts.

For the retailer, the loyalty program helps grow their CLV. It’s a win-win scenario.

See Also: Will Your Customers Buy From You Tomorrow?

Referral Programs

Your existing customers are your store’s biggest brand ambassadors. If they’re happy, they’re more likely to recommend your store to friends.

Believe it or not, brand ambassadors and referrals are one of the most effective ways to bring in new customers. 77% of customers are likely to buy from a business that they’re introduced to by friends.

Rather than sinking tons of cash into marketing to acquire customers, the most cost-effective (and financially sustainable) way to acquire new customers is for your happy customers to spread the word and recommend your business for you.

It’s an authentic trust signal that marketing alone simply can’t replicate.

Consider incentivizing your customers to refer your business to friends and family. For every customer they refer, they get more points they can use as part of your rewards program.

Customer retention

Did you know that it’s up to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one?

This means one thing: If you focus on keeping your existing customers happy (happy enough to recommend your store to friends), you can get them to find new customers for you. It’s cheaper and more effective.

Want to know what your business’s current customer retention rate is? Just use this formula:

customer retention rate

Retaining customers brings in a ton of ROI:

  • Affordable: It’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (HBR)
  • ROI: Just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s revenue by 25-95%. (HBR)
  • Loyalty: Retained customers buy more often and spend more than newer customers (maybe in part to the loyalty and rewards programs they offer). (American Express)
  • Referrals: Satisfied, loyal customers are more likely to refer their friends and family—bringing in new customers, without having to spend anything on marketing. (American Express)

See Also: 12 Tips That Build Customer Loyalty And Boost Sales

Improve your customer acquisition cost

Improving your customer acquisition cost is a process that should start from the inside out.

Before you focus on finding new customers and launching fancy marketing campaigns, you need to make your existing customers happy. When your customers are happy, they’ll voluntarily recommend your business to friends and family. Your customers turn into brand evangelists; walking trust signals that find new customers for you, free of charge.

The next step is increasing your customer’s lifetime value. With Loyalty and referral programs, you can increase how much your customers spend in store and achieve that coveted 3:1 CLV to CAC ratio we mentioned earlier in the post.

But it all starts with customer happiness. When customers are happy, businesses don’t need to spend as much on marketing to convince people that their shop is worth going to and spending their hard earned money.

The post 3 Ways to Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Personal Loan vs Credit Card vs Debit Card: When to Use Each

You’re working hard every day to provide for your family and you’ve got a steady source of income. Frankly, you know you’re doing everything you can to get by, but you’ve also got personal necessities to buy, a pantry to restock, and hungry mouths to feed. The bills just keep piling up every month!

When is the best time to get a personal loan, swipe a credit card or use a debit card to consolidate debt? How do you manage your finances without hurting your pocket too much?

Understanding the differences among these three options will help you confidently manage your expenses and become more financially literate.

Choosing whether to get a personal loan or credit card depends on your spending habits, the status of your credit score, the amount of money you need, and the time it will take for you to repay the debt.

For instance, your credit score highly influences your chances of loans, credit cards, or mortgages getting accepted. It reflects how likely you are to pay back your loan or credit within a certain period. If your credit score is high, your credit card or loan application will likely be approved.

Below is a look at the differences between personal loan, credit card, and debit card, as well as when you can use each of them.

Personal Loan or Credit Card

Getting a credit card sounds like taking out a personal loan. Both types allow you to borrow money and pay it back in a certain period.

You can pay a personal loan in installments. You receive the whole amount and then make fixed monthly payments for a specific period. It can take anytime from 12 months to five years.

Lenders that provide personal loans generally place interest rates that range from 6% to 36%. Borrowers with good credit score, however, may qualify for lower interest rates. The limits of a personal loan can be up to $100,000, depending on the borrower’s credit score.

Meanwhile, a credit card is a revolving form of credit that allows the owner to repeatedly access funds. Unlike a lump sum of cash, a credit card has a credit limit you must abide by. If you choose not to pay it back immediately, you will begin to carry a balance.

The minimum amount of monthly payments is about 2% of the balance. However, if you pay back the credit in full on or before the due date, you can avoid getting charged with interest rates.

The difference here is that a personal loan is a better option for financing a large expense or settling high-interest debts while a credit card is good to use for smaller expenses. A personal loan is a fixed loan that you need to pay back in equal installments for a certain period, while a credit card is a line of credit that you can borrow from at any time. It needs to stay within the credit limit.

When to Choose a Personal Loan

When should you choose to get a personal loan?

If you need to finance large expenses or pay off debts, choosing a debt consolidation loan with fixed payments is the best option. It will even be better if you can get a lower rate on the loan than the rate for the existing debt.

What makes personal loans a good option for borrowing money is that interest rates are low and borrowing amounts can be high, with fixed repayment terms. The rate you receive will depend on your credit score. Your credit history, income, and debt-to-income ratio will also be assessed by lenders.

See Also: Personal Loan Approved? Here’s What To Do Next!

When to Choose a Credit Card

credit card

If you need to pay off a smaller amount of debt, a credit card is the best option for you. Since credit cards have higher rates and risks of carrying a high balance, they are best used for short-term purchases that you can pay off in full. This can include daily expenses and monthly bills for gadgets, appliances or furniture.

With credit cards, you can max-out your credit limit, which could keep you stuck in debt. On the other hand, with personal loans, you can be certain that your balance is at a fixed amount. You can’t keep borrowing money unless you’ve already paid off your loan.

See Also: 9 Valuable Credit Card Perks

Credit Card vs Debit Card

What’s the difference between credit and debit? Both debit cards and credit cards are accepted when purchasing in-store and online and they both offer the same convenience. However, the difference between these two cards is the source of the funds.

A debit card is connected to a checking account or savings account. It usually requires a PIN number or signature for every transaction.

When you make a purchase, debit cards draw money directly from your account and place a hold on the amount you purchase. The merchant sends the amount you bought to their bank and it is then transferred to their bank account.

Some people may argue that it’s best to use a credit card because of the credit card reward programs. However, this could only work if you pay off the balance in full every month. If you don’t, whatever amount you borrow will incur interest charges and fees.

Still, using a credit card has its benefits. A credit card is safer to use for online transactions than debit cards because it offers more protection against unauthorized transactions. When travelling, it’s also best to use a credit card for bookings, flights, and hotel accommodations. You could even enjoy travel perks such as air miles, travel assistance, travel insurance, and airport lounge access.

When to Use a Debit Card

debit card

If you want to keep your finances in check, it’s best to use a debit card. To make sure that you don’t overdraw your checking account, it’s better to keep a record of your running balance. A debit card isn’t advisable to use when traveling because you may end up short of money for your daily expenses. However, it’s the best option to use when buying small purchases like medicine or groceries.

Whichever of these three options you choose, it’s important to avoid drowning in credit card debt or else, you might experience financial ruin. With that, a debit card with limited balance can help you develop financial discipline and curb bad spending habits. With a debit card, you won’t be spending money that you do not have.

The post Personal Loan vs Credit Card vs Debit Card: When to Use Each appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Simple Money Hacks That Every Millennial Needs To Know

If the media reports, editorials, and advice columns are to be believed, millennials can leave a lot to be desired when it comes to saving and spending money wisely. Living in the moment isn’t such a bad idea when those moments are fast running out! However, using ‘treat yourself’ as an excuse to indulge also isn’t all that great for our bank accounts.

With many of us held captive to large student loans and ever-increasing living costs, it isn’t uncommon to find ourselves with $5 left in our bank accounts at the end of the week and with little to show for it. If this sounds all too familiar, chances are you could use a few simple money hacks to help you turn your finances around.

Let’s get started with these money management tips for millennials.

Look At Your Bank Statements

Do you know where all of your money is going each week? There’s a good chance you don’t. Spending a little here and there may seem harmless — until you’ve spent $500 over the last six months on cute outfits for your dog.

Taking a look at your bank statement might seem scary, but it will help you identify exactly where your spending is going wrong and where you could be saving a little each month. Grab your last few bank statements and a highlighter and start marking everything that isn’t a necessity.

And no, expensive coffees, dining out or going to see live music are not necessities.

Necessities include expenses like groceries, rent, utilities, and fuel. Reduce your highlighted expenses to a few treats a month and save the rest.

Be Responsible With Installment-Based Payment Plans

money management tips for millennial

Laybuy, Afterpay, and other “Shop now, pay later!” payment options make it all too easy to make spur-of-the-moment purchases. While they’re a fantastic convenience, they also tempt you into buying things you wouldn’t buy usually if you had to pay a lump sum or save up.

Upfront payment is always the best option. As my grandparents used to tell me, “Don’t buy something unless you can pay cash for it”. This can prevent you from spending outside your means.

And if you do choose to use one of these options?

At least be responsible with it and limit the number of items you have on a plan at any given time.

Keep Track Of Your Subscriptions

There’s no doubt that most of us have signed up for a subscription service and found ourselves hardly using it. Or, for that matter, signed up for one of those super enticing “First 30 Days Free!” offers and forgotten to unsubscribe.

Cancelling any subscriptions that you no longer use is a great way to save a little extra. Not sure if you’re getting your money’s worth?

Take the monthly cost of the service and divide this by the amount of times you use it per month. If the cost-per-use is pretty high, then unsubscribing is a safe bet.

Write Out Your Financial Goals

It may sound cheesy, but writing out your financial goals can help keep you accountable. It’s a great way to drive you to work towards your goals, whether that’s buying your first home, vehicle or saving for a new piece of technology.

Here are a few examples of how to make saving for large items easy.

  • A $20,000 car every 10 years? Save $38 a week.
  • A $2,500 laptop every 4 years? Save $12 a week.
  • A $1,800 iPhone every 2 years? Save $17 a week.

Setting money aside for big-ticket items you know you’ll need will leave you feeling prepared.

See Also: How to Stick to your Financial New Year’s Resolution

Accumulate An Emergency Fund

Millennials, listen up. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but savings and an emergency fund are not the same thing. I only learned this recently myself!

An emergency fund is separate from your savings. It’s mean to be used to cover medical expenses, family responsibilities, or – as is becoming increasingly common – job loss.

Your emergency fund should ideally consist of 3 to 6 months worth of income so that you can keep your head above water during a financial emergency or unforeseen circumstances.

Save For Retirement

money management tip for millennial

 

Yeah, I said it.

Whether you are busy saving for a new car, a pair of shoes, or a home, retirement isn’t getting any further away. The best way to tackle retirement savings is to start setting some money aside each month and make the most of any retirement saving schemes offered by your government. They’ll often include added bonuses and contributions to incentivise the savings process.

Building Your Savings Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

Learning to separate necessities from luxuries is an important step in not only being able to save money, but also to pay off personal and student loans and credit cards while also being able to put money aside for the future.

As a millennial myself, I know the influence of social media. The seemingly perfect lives of Instagram influencers or Facebook friends can leave you feeling like you’re struggling to keep up. But remember, “If you live fake rich now, you’ll live real poor later.”

Start working on these money management tips for millennials and have peace of mind when it comes to your future.

The post Simple Money Hacks That Every Millennial Needs To Know appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Are you a smart businessman? Do you have what it takes to take bold decisions when your company faces the music? Are you aware of the regulations and policies of the top lenders? Do you know how to get a short-term business loan?

If your response is affirmative to the above questions, you know how to sail your company’s ship out of the troubled waters like a champion captain.

Now, before you go ahead and set a meeting with your lender, you must first know your primary purpose.

Basically, such a loan is usually obtained by small businesses when they are in an urgent need of cash. It could either be due to the need for a bigger space to  store your products or fit your growing workforce. They also come across situations where they need extra cash to purchase resources for a big order from a special client.

Such challenges can test an entrepreneur’s ability to handle the pressures of the business world.

Although a short-term business loan can save the day, business owners must repay the loan within 18 months or one and a half years.

Now that you have understood what a short-term business loan is, let’s look into how to qualify for one.

Maintain a Good Credit Score

It all starts with your credit score or the record of your bill payments.

A lender needs to know the status of your finances and how responsible you are in dealing with your debts. If you are able to maintain a clean and reputable credit history, your credit score would allow you to look for different sorts of financing options.

Always keep in mind that lenders check your personal credit score in addition to your business one. It is important because personal debts and mortgages often create problems in the repayment of loans.

This way, your lender will have a 360-degree view of your finances like your credits, debits, and years of business before offering you a loan.

Meet the Minimum Requirements

get a short term business loan

It is essential to know that getting a loan is a two-way deal. You must be equally indulgent and cautious about the whole process as much as your lender is.

If the lender asks for your financial information and reviews your accounts, then it is necessary for you to do your own research as well. Even before approaching a lender, it is wise to carry out research to make things easier and more transparent for you.

You should look into their mission statements and understand the requirements that should be met to get a loan approved. Having all proofs and documents ready will impress your prospective lender. It will make it easier to meet their standards and increase your chances of getting approved.

Get Your Testimonies Ready

Getting a loan is a hectic process. Sometimes, it can take months of rigorous hard work to complete it and a delay in the process can deliver a severe blow to your business.

As a smart entrepreneur, you should be prepared. Before even applying for a short-term loan, make sure that you have read its details and requirements.

Your next task is to collect the necessary documents, like personal and business balance sheets, leases, and bank statements. It will not only improve your loan application’s chances for approval, but will also save your precious time.

The quicker you arrange the required paperwork, the earlier you are going to have an access to that pile of cash for your business.

Make Your Business Strong

short term business loan

The status and prospects of your business are of great interest to the lenders. No lender would want to engage its money in a business that is not doing well. Things may become even gloomy if your company has no future business plan or if it has a flimsy business structure.

You need to have a robust and proactive approach in your business. You must have a detailed picture of where your business started from, where it is now, and where will it stand in the future.

Make sure that your business plan is free from any discrepancies or shady areas. It must be strong and articulate for the lender. Don’t forget to include your company’s origin, background, mission, and vision statement.

It should mention your product or service description. It would be a great idea to also make an industrial analysis, relevant market research, and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for your business. These things will make your lender well-informed and impressed with your efforts.

See Also: 5 Ways Business Investment Loans Can Help Your Start-Up

Final Thoughts

Securing a short-term business loan is quite convenient if you know your business and you’re willing to go the distance to inspire its growth. A suitable lender will see through your hard work and reward it with a prompt loan — and with leniency and a lower interest rate.

You have to believe in your business and pitch the idea to your lender with real dedication and conviction. Do not laze around or delay the process. Be active.

In fact, you need to be proactive in both receiving and returning the loan. If you have the qualities mentioned earlier in your business, you will have a short-term business loan approved in no or little time.

See Also: What Are The Advantages Of Business Consolidation Loans?

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Did The Gig Economy Jump The Shark?

Is the gig economy working and thriving?

The gig economy came on strong at a time in American history when people needed to be able to onboard quickly and start making money immediately. The country was deep in the grips of The Great Recession and people were losing jobs and homes left and right. The idea of driving people around in your own car for money didn’t seem all that crazy.

And back then, the money was actually pretty good.

These days, gig drivers have seen wages fall by more than half since 2014 and it’s not just gig driving jobs that are seeing turnover rates of more than 500% per year. As the economy strengthens and people are able to find more steady employment that includes the benefits they need to live, the gig economy is starting to show signs of jumping the shark.

Where Did The Gig Economy Come From?

gig economy working

During the Great Recession, unemployment rose to 7.2% and many people struggled to get back into the workforce right away. This is due to the higher numbers of applicants that went out for the same small pool of jobs.

At the same time, tech was being developed to hire and manage independent contractors to do things that didn’t require companies to own any property or employ any workers. It included things like ridesharing and home-sharing.

With an app, you could suddenly rent out your spare room like a hotel or drive people around like a taxi. It seemed like the perfect stopgap move for people struggling to find full-time employment and the money was worth the effort — at least at first.

What Happened To The Gig Economy?

As these jobs became more popular and more people were competing for them, wages fell. Municipalities began to question the legality of such employment situations, with some outright banning the services due to concerns about worker protection and even public safety.

As wages continued to fall, people began to realize that when they factored in the cost of wear and tear and fuel for their cars, they actually weren’t even making minimum wage in some cases.

As a result, some people tried to unionize while turnover skyrocketed to 500% for some companies. Today, 60% of gig workers can’t come up with $400 for an emergency.

The Gig Economy Is Still Struggling

the gig economy working

As this option becomes less appealing as a full-time job and people are reverting back to using the gig economy as a side hustle, incomes have dropped off sharply. Median monthly incomes for gig economy sectors are:

  • $793 non-transportation
  • 762 transportation
  • $534 selling

The number of full-time gig workers dropped from 16.2 million to 15.8 million between 2014 and 2018, but the number of part-time gig workers rose from 12.9 million in 2017 to 14.9 million in 2018. People are relying less on the gig economy to provide them with full-time work and a living wage and more to provide a part-time, short-term gig to help get them out of a pickle when they need it.

The U.S. Department of Labor ruled that gig workers are not employees. Therefore, they are not entitled to minimum wage protections or normal employment benefits such as health insurance. Most workers are flocking to more traditional forms of employment, but employers are increasingly seeking gig workers to do jobs in more flexible arrangements.

As of 2016, one in six organizations had at least 30% of contingent workers in its workforce, signaling a shift in the parameters of traditional roles. Meanwhile, gig companies like Uber are trying out benefits like free college tuition for top drivers, though this is doing little to stave off unionization efforts.

See Also: GenZ and Money: How GenZ Faces Their Financial Fears

Is It Completely Doomed?

As with all new things, the gig economy is going through growing pains trying to find its place in the world. There are some people who benefit from being able to start and change jobs quickly and set their own hours and who don’t necessarily need all the perks that come along with doing a particular job.

As the gig economy grows up, these will be the people who power it, while others will move back into more traditional working arrangements as the economy strengthens. Learn more about the future of the gig economy from the infographic below.
Gig Jobs
Source: Online Schools Center

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Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: The Pros and Cons You Need to Know

Nobody in this busy world wants to file for bankruptcy. However, if debt settlement and negotiation are not sufficient to resolve your financial crisis, then you may have no other option.

Calling bankruptcy implies that you have come to the end of your financial rope and have no means to pay your existing debts like car loans. For people facing overwhelming debt because of buying a car, filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy is regarded as one of the few means to initiate a bankruptcy fresh start program, erasing the obligation to repay and giving you a chance to get on with your life.

The decision to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy is a big one and it has its pros and cons, which you need to pay attention to.

Generally, a debtor can select to file for either a chapter 7 bankruptcy or a chapter 13 bankruptcy. But mostly, all individuals file bankruptcy under Chapter 7. It is referred to as a ‘liquidation bankruptcy’ because it involves a gathering of the property and assets and selling them to pay off as much as debt as probable before the remaining debt is discharged.

Ultimately, you can erase your debt with a chapter 7 bankruptcy or even create a repayment plan with chapter 13 bankruptcy when you’re planning to opt for a car loan.

Real Examples of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Example 1:

Mia is a retired educator on a fixed income. She decided to sell her home before moving in with her daughter. She had great credit score because of on-time payments on her mortgage and she never had debt. Later, she agreed to co-sign on a home loan for her granddaughter and a car loan for her grandson. Well, she couldn’t say no!

But 2.5 years later, the house was repossessed when the granddaughter had a divorce. The grandson’s car was repossessed after he lost his job. A substantial amount of debt was remaining after the house and the car was sold at an auction.

Mia, in critical health, was cornered by creditors. She filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which stopped the harassment and rejected the deficiency claims. Her social security and retirement money were ultimately excused and protected.

Take note that if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy while paying off a vehicle loan, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’d keep the vehicle.

If you decide to surrender the vehicle, you’ll have to forfeit the sum you’ve paid toward the loan. Nevertheless, the creditor won’t be able to sue you for the balance once the vehicle is sold at the auction.

Pros and Cons of Chapter 7

Declaring for chapter 7 bankruptcy may seem like an amazing idea. It can relieve your debt and offers a chance to rebuild and get a fresh start. Nevertheless, you should definitely also be aware of the upsides and downsides of it.

Upsides

chapter 7 bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is common: There’s nothing to be embarrassed about bankruptcy. It’s quite common and, honestly, the best option in various scenarios. Businesses have a downfall and credit cards spiral as the interest rates increase. Even Donald Trump has filed bankruptcy.

Makes you financially disciplined: If you ever plan to buy a car again, you will require to be economical and accountable about debt. You’ll be able to demonstrate perfect ability to pay those car loans on time even though there might be open lines of credit in the later future.

Eliminate credit card debt: That’s a big one. Credit card use is a common cause of declaring bankruptcy. Individuals often pay off vehicle loans with credit cards when cash isn’t readily available, and debt gradually snowballs from there. Filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy permits you to start fresh without credit card car debt.

See Also: How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt Fast

No effect on your wages: Wage garnishment happens when lenders have a court order that permits for a part of your pay check to get sent to your lenders. However, when you apply for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will stop from happening. It can, at the end of the day, improve your income as you’ll be able to keep the money you worked hard for. This doesn’t work in cases of student loans, child support, and taxes.

Downsides

file chapter 7 bankruptcy

A downfall for credit score: Credit rating can be severely damaged when you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. It lowers the score by 200-250 points, which stays on till 7-10 years. This can make it quite difficult for you to qualify for fresh car loans and credit for nearly 3-4 years.

Won’t erase student loans: Student loans for buying a car cannot be erased with bankruptcy. If it is your debt, then you’ll definitely be on the hook to pay it. However, it prevents creditors from taking aggressive collective action which absolutely helps. Proving that your student vehicle loans are too much of a liability is a very tough task. It mostly requires a separate lawsuit and an attorney.

See Also: 5 Strategies For Paying Off Student Loans Fast

Loss of expensive property: In the process of filing, you will most likely lose some of your assets, especially extraneous luxury items including all sorts of cars. These goods are used in repaying your creditors and depending on your state’s exemption laws, you might be required to give up on material things that you’d rather not.

Six-year filing: Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be filed every six years. This encourages all those who recently filed bankruptcy to keep their head above the water and be attentive.

Final Thoughts

We would just like to make you aware that the most significant thing is to analyze your own personal financial situation. Compare consumer car debt solutions in order to select the best resolution for your financial situation.

If you have nominal assets and merely require a fresh start, then chapter 7 can definitely help you.

But if you think that your situation is a bit more complex, then it can still be significant for your financial situation. It’s vital to get direction on whether chapter 7 or chapter 13 would be the right option for you. While our brief list of pros and cons may be helpful to you when it comes to opting for car loans, it’s honestly just the beginning.

The post Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: The Pros and Cons You Need to Know appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

China’s Transsion and Kenya’s Wapi Capital partner on Africa fund

Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion is teaming up with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups.

Headquartered in Shenzhen, Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa that recently confirmed its imminent IPO.

Wapi Capital is the venture fund of Kenyan fintech startup Wapi Pay—a Nairobi based company that facilitates digital payments between African and Asia via mobile money or bank accounts.

Investments for the new partnership will come from Transsion’s Future Hub, an incubator and seed fund for African startups opened by Transsion in 2019.

Starting September 2019, Transsion will work with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000, Transsion Future Hub Senior Investor Laura Li told TechCrunch via email.

Wapi Capital won’t contribute funds to Transsion’s Africa investments, but will help determine the viability and scale of the startups, including due diligence and deal flow, according to Wapi Pay co-founder Eddie Ndichu.

Wapi Pay and Transsion Future Hub will consider ventures from all 54 African countries and interested startups can reach out directly to either organization, Ndichu and Li confirmed.

The Wapi Capital fintech partnership is not Transsion’s sole VC focus in Africa. Though an exact fund size hasn’t been disclosed, the Transsion Future Hub will also make startup investments on the continent in adtech, fintech, e-commerce, logistics, and media and entertainment, according to Li.

Transsion Future Hub’s existing portfolio includes Africa focused browser company Phoenix, content aggregator Scoop, and music service Boomplay.

Wapi Capital adds to the list of African located and run venture funds—which have been growing in recent years—according to a 2018 study by TechCrunch and Crunchbase. Wapi Capital will also start making its own investments and is looking to raise $1 million this year and $10 million over the next three years, according to Ndichu, who co-founded the fund and Wapi Pay with his twin brother Paul.

Transsion’s commitment to African startup investments comes as the company is on the verge of listing on China’s new Nasdaq-style STAR Market tech exchange. Transsion confirmed to TechCrunch this month the IPO is in process and that it could raise up to 3 billion yuan (or $426 million).

Transsion sold 124 million phones globally in 2018, per company data. In Africa, Transsion holds 54% of the feature phone market — through its brands Tecno, Infinix and Itel — and in smartphone sales is second to Samsung and before Huawei, according to International Data Corporation stats.

Transsion has R&D centers in Nigeria and Kenya and its sales network in Africa includes retail shops in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Egypt. The company also has a manufacturing facility in Ethiopia.

Transsion’s move into venture investing tracks greater influence from China in African tech.

China’s engagement with African startups has been light compared to China’s deal-making on infrastructure and commodities.

Transsion’s Wapi Pay partnership is the second recent event — after Chinese owned Opera’s big venture spending in Nigeria — to reflect greater Chinese influence and investment in the continent’s digital scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitcoin Trading Platform: What Exactly to Look for

The cryptocurrency market has grown exponentially over the past five years, with many people interested in the emergence of a virtual currency which isn’t controlled by a central authority (government) & has the potential to gain massive value over a minimal amount of time. But, the bitcoin market is very volatile and it can be very tough to keep up with the trend – especially since this kind of market never sleeps.

To make it easier for traders, trading bots and platforms have been created. A trading platform or bot refers to a specific software program that has been especially designed to handle financial exchanges effectively & efficiently (much better than a human being) and allows any relevant information to be collected and interpreted automatically so that market orders can be easily bought and sold on behalf of the trader.

Essentially the bots make the final trading decision through intensive monitoring of market prices and using some preset rules, so that any losses can be prevented. The system will analyze the market for any changes in terms of volume, pricing and orders before it makes a decision, so if you are a bitcoin trader you may want to find the best trading platform to make the process easier for you.

Ultimately, the question now is how exactly do you know which one is the best?

The Operating System

bitcoin trading

Remember, not all platforms are made for all traders as their operating systems can vary. Because of this, you want to have a platform that will work on all kinds of operating systems such as Mac, Windows, or Linux. It should work on your device to fully take advantage of its usability and features. With all of your orders and configurations stored in a USB, all you need is to plug it in and play it on any computing device to trade – regardless of the operating system. A platform that requires installation only on a compatible system is inconvenient for any trader.

Easily customized and user-friendly

The overall interface of an excellent bitcoin trading platform must be very easily customized and user-friendly. Anyone should be able to use it without the very technical details or any programming knowledge. All necessary information must be easy to navigate and the gains shown very clearly along with the rest of the other trading information, as this will make it easier for any bitcoin trader to buy and sell orders. All you have to do is merely input your pairs as well as numbers, and voila! You can start trading with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Supports coins, pairs, and any other exchange

bitcoin trading currency

Aside from bitcoin, you must be able to trade in different pairs, currencies, and other various exchanges. It can be thus helpful to look for a trading platform that can accommodate various coins provided in major exchanges around the world. A full stacked cryptocurrency platform will work best for any spontaneous and eager trader.

Various other bitcoin trading platform features that can be useful and practical are reporting, notifications, historical data & real-time backtesting, just to name a few. Find out what a specific trading platform can do and choose the best one that suits your needs now.

See Also: What The World’s Governments Think Of The Expansion Of Cryptocurrency

The post Bitcoin Trading Platform: What Exactly to Look for appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Cost of Email Phishing

When did email become the weakest link? How can you protect your organization from email phishing attacks?

There have always been problems with people clicking on malicious links and somehow having them sent directly to you seems to make it more likely you will click on it.

One out of every 99 emails is a phishing scam which means that every employee in your organization is getting almost 5 phishing emails every workweek. Unfortunately, most people rely on their email program to filter out such messages.

Phishing Attacks Are Very Common — And Very Costly

Almost a third of phishing emails make it past default email security and 5% of those have been whitelisted by a system admin. There are several very common forms of phishing attacks:

  • 41% are credentialing attacks in which hackers try to gain access to the target’s usernames and passwords, costing $400 per account to clean up.
  • 51% of attacks are links that prompt the download of malware which can cause an average of $2.4 million in damage when successful
  • 0.4% of attacks are spearphishing attacks in which high-level people in an organization are targeted. While these are the least common attacks, they can be the most expensive, averaging $7.2 million per incident.
  • 8% of attacks are extortion attempts and when they are successful, they can cost an average of $5,000 per user.

Last year, 64% of information security professionals were targeted by spearphishing attacks while 35% of working professionals don’t even know what a phishing attack means. The cost of phishing comes in more than cleanup – it can also do serious reputational damage.

The average cost of a phishing attack on a midsized business is $1.6 million. There’s lost productivity while everyone tries to halt and undo the damage. There’s also a loss of proprietary data and perhaps the worst of all is the damage to a company’s reputation after a breach. A third of consumers will stop using a business once a breach has occurred and it could take years to recover from such an incident.

It’s Entirely Too Easy To Fall For The Bait

phishing attack

Even if you are in the 65% of working professionals who know what a phishing attack is, it’s still very easy to fall victim. Successful phishing campaigns play to our emotions and sense of urgency. They often feature subject lines designed to scare or cajole us into action.

Subject lines such as “complaint filed” or “open enrollment” make us believe there’s an action that needs to be taken immediately or something bad might happen. It may include losing our family’s health insurance or getting fired from our jobs.

It also doesn’t help that a quarter of phishing emails spoof trusted brands. When you are expecting a package from Amazon and happen to get an email from Amazon in your inbox, it might seem believable enough that you open it to see what’s going on.

The most common signs of phishing include:

  • Address of a crypto wallet
  • Link to a WordPress site
  • BCC to many others
  • Shortened URLs
  • From a trusted brand
  • Link to a file on Google Drive

Because these are all things that have legitimate uses, hackers can exploit them to make us think they are completely safe. Knowing the threat is the best way to avoid falling victim, but that may not be enough. If hackers weren’t so good at what they do, which is understanding human psychology, we would have no need for email scanning software.

It Helps To Have Backup

The existing spam filters in your email program catch a lot of the problems but not all of them. This lulls us into a false sense of security and leaves us believing that if something lands in our inboxes, it’s probably safe.

Unfortunately, this is just not the case. Learning how to avoid phishing attacks and schemes is crucial and it means reminding employees of these tactics on a regular basis. It can also help to get additional email scanning software to catch anything that looks real enough to be a threat.

Learn more about how email became the weakest link and how you can fight back from the infographic below.

How Email Became the Weakest Link [infographic]
Courtesy of Avanan

 

 

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Capital One’s breach was inevitable, because we did nothing after Equifax

Another day, another massive data breach.

This time it’s the financial giant and credit card issuer Capital One, which revealed on Monday a credit file breach affecting 100 million Americans and 6 million Canadians. Consumers and small businesses affected are those who obtained one of the company’s credit cards dating back to 2005.

That includes names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, self-reported income and more credit card application data — including over 140,000 Social Security numbers in the U.S., and more than a million in Canada.

The FBI already has a suspect in custody. Seattle resident and software developer Paige A. Thompson, 33, was arrested and detained pending trial. She’s been accused of stealing data by breaching a web application firewall, which was supposed to protect it.

Sound familiar? It should. Just last week, credit rating giant Equifax settled for more than $575 million over a date breach it had — and hid from the public for several months — two years prior.

Why should we be surprised? Equifax faced zero fallout until its eventual fine. All talk, much bluster, but otherwise little action.

Equifax’s chief executive Richard Smith “retired” before he was fired, allowing him to keep his substantial pension packet. Lawmakers grilled the company but nothing happened. An investigation launched by the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the governmental body responsible for protecting consumers from fraud, declined to pursue the company. The FTC took its sweet time to issue its fine — which amounted to about 20% of the company’s annual revenue for 2018. For one of the most damaging breaches to the U.S. population since the breach of classified vetting files at the Office of Personnel Management in 2015, Equifax got off lightly.

Legislatively, nothing has changed. Equifax remains as much of a “victim” in the eyes of the law as it was before — technically, but much to the ire of the millions affected who were forced to freeze their credit as a result.

Mark Warner, a Democratic senator serving Virginia, along with his colleague since turned presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, was tough on the company, calling for it to do more to protect consumer data. With his colleagues, he called on the credit agencies to face penalties to the top brass and extortionate fines to hold the companies accountable — and to send a message to others that they can’t play fast and loose with our data again.

But Congress didn’t bite. Warner told TechCrunch at the time that there was “a failure of the company, but also of lawmakers” for not taking action.

Lo and behold, it happened again. Without a congressional intervention, Capital One is likely to face largely the same rigmarole as Equifax did.

Blame the lawmakers all you want. They had their part to play in this. But fool us twice, shame on the credit companies for not properly taking action in the first place.

The Equifax incident should have sparked a fire under the credit giants. The breach was the canary in the coal mine. We watched and waited to see what would happen as the canary’s lifeless body emerged — but, much to the American public’s chagrin, no action came of it. The companies continued on with the mentality that “it could happen to us, but probably won’t.” It was always going to happen again unless there was something to force the companies to act.

Companies continue to vacuum up our data — knowingly and otherwise — and don’t do enough to protect it. As much as we can have laws to protect consumers from this happening again, these breaches will continue so long as the companies continue to collect our data and not take their data security responsibilities seriously.

We had an opportunity to stop these kinds of breaches from happening again, yet in the two years passed we’ve barely grappled with the basic concepts of internet security. All we have to show for it is a meager fine.

Thompson faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Everyone else faces just another major intrusion into their personal lives. Not at the hands of the hacker per se, but the companies that collect our data — with our consent and often without — and take far too many liberties with it.

How to Apply Good Financial Habits to the Rest of Your Life

It’s easy to see how having good money habits can make you feel better. More money in your pocket means you are able to go grocery shopping and get that fancy cheese, get your oil changed, and maybe shell out for another TV subscription.

However, you may not have considered the psychological and health impacts that having better money habits can have. If you create improved money management, it has an effect on lowering anxiety. It helps you get better sleep which boosts your immune system. The reverberations of one aspect of your life can deeply affect the rest.

With this idea in mind, you can take aspects of one part of your life that seem to be working and apply them (with some small variations) to the rest. In this way, it’s possible to use the lessons that keep your financials in order to address your life.

Lexington Law has compiled an infographic with over 20 ways to treat your life and finances similarly. Some of the most important lessons speak to issues like:

Don’t stretch yourself too thin

Overwork is just as dangerous as overspending. Don’t find yourself making time investments that your body can’t cash. Like credit card debt, sleep debt is a dangerous thing.

Proper rest, on the other hand, will build your life portfolio in many ways. You can get improved decision-making, immune system boosts, and a generally better outlook.

See Also: 10 Tips to Manage Your Time Effectively Under Pressure

Prioritize the future

Pure impulse purchases are bad for your finances and life. Even if you are generally not a planner, there are a number of things you can do to create good habits in this area.

Make a down payment on organizing

Organization guru Marie Kondo suggests ways to tidy up your life through her KonMari Method. The most important element of this is the first step: making a commitment.

Applying this to your finances means sitting down to make budgets and plan for your future. The same idea can be applied to your life:

Vision board it

retirement planning age

It might seem strange, but just the action of writing your goals down has a large impact on what you are actually able to accomplish. Something about the physical action of recording what you want in life, studies show, makes it up to 10 times more likely to happen.

Prioritize your time

Make a schedule and stick to it. If that means turning off your phone and getting rid of push notifications, do it. The myth of multitasking is that it helps you get more done, when in fact, the opposite is true.

By switching between tasks, you are actually wasting precious time. In fact, about 40% of your productivity can be lost when you try to multitask. And besides, you know it always ends up with you on social media!

To Do, To Done

Do you feel like making lists is taking up too much of your precious time?

The lists you make are more than just physical reminders of all the myriad tasks you have yet to perform. They are actually organizing strategies that have added benefits like helping you feel less anxious, get better sleep, and be more productive.

Don’t stop learning

It’s crucial to stay abreast of financial trends and that means always finding more ways to educate yourself. From a life perspective, accepting the idea that you should never stop learning is an imperative. Being a lifelong student is an important part of any journey.

Beyond the direct effect of learning a new skill or gaining new information, continuing to expand your mind will have you living longer and making more friends.

Habla Español?

Learning a new language does more than let you talk to people from other countries. Studies show it can also physically expand your mind and add to improved general cognition.

Make something

Doing something creative, like playing music or creating art, is more than just “art for art’s sake.” It’s a relaxing outlet and will also make you more creative in other areas of your life, too.

Take a continuing education class

There may be topics that can help you professionally or just something you’ve always wanted to know about. These classes keep your mind working and lead to a longer, more fulfilled life.

Let’s get physical

Financial wellness and physical health may not seem to have much in common, but just sitting down to assess your level of heath and making a commitment to better habits is an area where these two elements of life overlap.

Take time to exercise

We all know that exercise makes us feel better, but it has other benefits. Studies show more exercise leads to improved memory and is often correlated with higher salary.

Get out into nature

Yes, sunshine is pleasant and Vitamin D is good for your body. Spending time outside has also been shown to help you sleep, lower blood pressure, and increase your metabolism.

Having good money habits is sometimes not enough. There are a number of excellent reasons to start to think about your life the same way you might approach your finances.

The post How to Apply Good Financial Habits to the Rest of Your Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Online catering marketplace ezCater gets another $150M at a $1.25B valuation

In 2007, Stefania Mallett and Briscoe Rodgers conceived of ezCater, an online marketplace for business catering, and began building the company in Mallet’s Boston home, mostly at her kitchen table.

Recently, sitting at that same table, Mallett negotiated with Brad Twohig of Lightspeed Venture Partners the final terms of a $150 million Series D-1 at a $1.25 billion valuation. Lightspeed, alongside GIC, co-led the round, with participation from Light Street Capital, Wellington Management, ICONIQ Capital and Quadrille Capital.

“Raising money or getting to unicorn status, it’s all nice validation but that’s not the purpose, the purpose of being in business is to grow a very successful company with happy customers and happy employees,” Mallett, ezCater’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “We are going to have cupcakes with unicorns on them. That will take us about a half hour, then we will get back to work.”

EzCater co-founder and CEO Stefania Mallett

Mallett compares ezCater to Expedia . The travel company doesn’t own and operate hotels, nor do they create them. EzCater, similarly, works with 60,500 restaurants and caterers around the U.S. to fulfill orders, but at no point do they work directly with food nor make any deliveries themselves.

Since its inception, the ezCater marketplace has grown considerably, expanding 100 percent annually for the last eight years, Mallett tells us. Though, like most unicorns, ezCater isn’t profitable yet.

Both Mallett and Rodgers are software industry veterans, establishing engineering careers prior to tackling business catering. The pair bootstrapped the company until 2011, when they secured a small Series A investment of $2.7 million. That same year, U.S. foodtech startups raised $176 million, per PitchBook. EzCater would go on to raise more than $300 million in equity funding, including its latest round, and VC interest in foodtech would explode. Already this year, U.S. foodtech startups have brought in $626 million after pulling in a whopping $5 billion in 2018.

EzCater has benefited from this boom. The company raised a $100 million Series D just 10 months ago.

“We really didn’t need the money, we have quite a lot of money in the bank from the last round,” Mallett said. “There was so much talk of a funding winter and a recession coming so we said maybe we should try to raise money and then people jumped on it so we thought OK, why not? If there is a funding winter, we’re set; if not, well, we are still set.”

The investment comes hot off the heels of ezCater’s acquisition of Monkey Group, a cloud platform for take-out, delivery and catering. Mallett declined to disclose terms of the deal but said the partnership makes ezCater the indisputable market leader in catering management software. The company will use its recently expanded war chest to accelerate its international expansion and, potentially, continue its M&A streak. As for the future, an initial public offering is amongst the possibilities.

“We certainly are considering it,” Mallett said. “As we’ve grown, we’ve become more sophisticated and mature; that puts us in a good position to continue operating as a successful standalone company or be acquired by a public company or go public if we see an opportunity to do that. We are not wedded to any of these outcomes.”

5 Ways You Haven’t Considered to Save or Make Money

Everyone needs money to survive, to grow, and to have fun. And Google turns up with more than 9 billion pages if you search for “I need money”!

In the burgeoning gig economy, we have hundreds of opportunities to earn quick money by running errands, walking dogs, selling artwork, and doing freelance work. You already know about them.

In this article, we will talk about simple actionable tips and frugal living ideas.

Frugal eating does not mean unhealthy eating

Most students in college think eating on a budget means shopping at Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, eating Ramen noodles or peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and drinking energy drinks.

This is not what ‘frugal eating’ means.

The cost of eating unhealthy food is way more than what’s printed on the packaging. If you really want to save money on food, drink only water and buy generic and cheap items. Good examples are potatoes, dried beans, and legumes, eggs, sauce, spaghetti etc.

You might also consider exploring your local Asian and Mexican markets as they offer pretty good deals on buying staples, rice, spices, meat or produce in bulk.

A few simple recipes can save you a lot of time and money and keep you healthy.

See Also: 10 Cooking Tips For Beginners To Help You Master The Kitchen

Try online teaching

One edge that online tutoring assignments have is that it allows you to save up on transportation costs. Moreover, you can choose to teach at any time of the day.

3 easy steps to earn as an online tutor are:

● Register yourself as a tutor on a reputed online tutoring website
● Make a good profile and fill-up as many details as you can
● Take up teaching and assignment help gigs that suit your qualifications, skills, and interest areas.

If you want to teach at odd hours, try teaching international students. It will help you widen your scope and give you better exposure to what curricula other countries are following for a particular subject.

Native English speakers can also make good money by teaching English online as a second language to foreign students since they’re always looking for online tutors for high school and competitive exams.

Sell your notes and old books

Once you complete your course or graduate from your school or college, you hardly have any use for your classroom notes or revision notes you prepared. You can sell them online to students who are about to join the course or the level.

Many websites also allow you to sell your old textbooks and guides and get a good amount of your money back. If you use your books gently, you are likely to fetch more while re-selling them.

Similarly, you can sell old clothes and junk from time-to-time to make some quick money and make your living area clutter-free.

TV/Phone/Social media addictions mean losing money

man watching tv

TV, phones, FB, WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube eat up a lot of our time. Most people come back from their college or workplace, switch on the TV, and end up wasting hours doing nothing.

The moment you decide to let go of them, you’ll feel calmer and more relaxed. You will also find a lot of extra time to exercise, meet with friends, take up online gigs at micro-services websites, and do other constructive work.

Hours wasted in watching TV or phone literally mean losing hundreds of dollars per week.

Save your $10 notes

Saving money needs discipline and it’s not an easy trait to acquire. However, you may end up saving a lot of money if you keep saving notes of a certain denomination.

Every time, you get a $10 note, stash it up in your ‘saving’ fund. The loss won’t hurt you immediately and you will be able to see your savings grow as your days pass by.

This only works when you deal in cash. If you make digital payments, you may try another variation of this tip. For example, each time you spend $100 or more, put $10 in a separate saving or investment account.

These days, almost everybody is doing a side job along with a full-time college degree course. These tips can help you alleviate your financial woes as a student and work your way to a happy and contented life.

The post 5 Ways You Haven’t Considered to Save or Make Money appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How The Student Loan Bubble Affects The Economy

Surpassing the market value of media giants Microsoft and Facebook combined, the national student loan debt ceiling is coming up on crisis levels. The United States is no stranger to financial disasters; the Great Depression still within living memory, the mistakes of the past are perhaps going unheeded as we approach yet another potential crisis.

Reaching $1.4 trillion, millions of Americans from recent grads to Gen X continue to struggle to make monthly payments. To make it worse, there’s only a lifetime ahead for this to go on.

What’s The Problem With All This Debt?

money management

College graduates leave their hallowed halls of learning with more than just a degree to show for it. On average, recent college grads are in the hole for nearly $30,000 and just ten years to pay it all back.

Monthly payments come out to around $400 a month, not a small amount for fresh-out-of-college graduates. The burden of an extra, hefty bill every month doesn’t just put pressure on an individual’s bank account, it also has huge ramifications for the economy at large. This is especially true since many Americans struggle to make payments.

Millennials are spending less and less on discretionary purchases every year. Average daily spending by 18 to 34-year-olds is down by $19 since 2008. By the time they reach age 30, millennials are less likely to start their own business. 42% are citing that they do not have the financial means to enter entrepreneurship.

It takes a recent college grad, on average, 12 years to save enough for a down payment on a home. Over 80% of people aged 22-35 that have not yet purchased a home blame their student loan debt. On the other hand, 47% of Americans are putting off buying a car. One in seven American couples are waiting to get married as a result of financial roadblocks

From A Drag On The Economy To The Next Bubble

So, how are we going to manage this bubble that’s about to burst?

how to manage money effectively

For those living and struggling with student loan debt, there are options to help make repaying these loans easier and faster. Income-based repayment, rather than fixed repayment base on loan amount plus consolidation options means lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, and avoidance of deferring loans. Deferment rates are highest amongst young and recent graduates, with 26% of millennials and 77% of Gen Zers choosing deferment.

Additionally, American graduates are given just one-third of the time to pay back their student loans in comparison to other countries. Extending the period of time in which to repay loans helps in the short term by lowering monthly payments. It also gives young people more options for saving money and stimulating the economy.

In 2013, Congress made moves that actually lowered the general interest rates for student loans, but these changes were not made immediately available to individuals who had taken loans out prior to the change.

  • Repayment period in the US is ten years; in England, it is 30 years
  • Extending the time provided to pay back loans will lower monthly payments, but may increase interest
  • The pre-2013 rate was 7%; 2018 rate was down to 5.05%. Lowered interest rates even by just a few points can help save the borrower thousands of dollars over time and potentially help pay off loans quicker.

However, some experts agree that it will take more aggressive and even “radical” changes to make lasting progress. This calls for a massive overhaul to not only loan policies but educational standards as well. The outright cancelation of loans, while not entirely unheard of, is rare and only available to certain careers.

Nurses and public school educators have the option to cancel their loans after a period of time. However, canceling all student loan debt could change the game completely. Loan forgiveness would encourage consumers to spend more of their money on economic goods and services, rather than on repaying on debt and interest, to stimulate the economy. On the other hand, it could increase taxes for everyone.

How Could Less Student Loan Debt Affect The Overall Economy?

A step further from loans canceled outright, some experts suggest hitting the issue right at its source is the most effective solution: free public college. Existing in several European countries, the precedent for free college has already been set and acts as a living, working “experiment” in Germany and Denmark.

From Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposed 2017 College for All Act, it was estimated to cost $47 billion per year to manage free college and states. Things are looking up in such states as New York and Tennessee as they’re already working on free tuition for in-state students in public colleges.

Canceling student loan debt would increase GDP by up to $108 billion per year for the next decade. Canceled student loans would add up to 1.5 million jobs into the economy. No tuition costs would dramatically reduce the financial burden of earning a college degree, influencing the economy as a whole.

Learn more about the student loan bubble from this infographic.
Student Loan Debt
Source: Student Loan Review

The post How The Student Loan Bubble Affects The Economy appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Car Insurance

Car insurance can be very confusing for anyone. It’s also one of those things that can be very costly if not done right. We rounded up the 10 key things that you may not know about your car insurance.

Having “No-Fault” Insurance

Many people mistakenly think that when they have a no-fault car insurance, no one will be blamed or considered at fault in the event of an accident. If you cause an accident or scratch a car when you park, having this type of insurance doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe. If you caused the accident, you can and most likely will be held accountable.

This type of insurance means that if you are in an accident and it isn’t your fault, you won’t personally have to go after the other driver’s insurance or the driver for compensation. The insurance company will do it for you automatically.

Several Factors Impact Your Insurance Cost

You’ll get asked a series of personal questions when you apply for your car insurance. The list can include your gender, age, marital status, and how long you’ve had a license count. Your answers will impact how much your insurance premium will cost per month or year.  Additionally, any previous accidents or tickets can make your premium go up.

If you’re a male who is under 25 years old, your insurance company will deem you a higher risk for accidents. In turn, you’ll most likely have a higher premium than a female who is under 25.

Your Car’s Age and Type Increase Your Insurance Costs

car model insurance

People who drive high-end or luxury cars will typically pay more to have their car replaced or repaired in the event of an accident. This means that you’ll most likely pay more to cover this type of car because your insurance will pay out more if there is an accident. Cars that cost less to repair or replace or cars that are older will cost less to insure because it won’t cost your insurance company much if there is an accident.

Modifying the Car Can Cost You

A lot of people like to modify their vehicles, but insurance companies don’t necessarily like these modifications. There are a few valid reasons behind this. First, modifying the vehicle can impact how much emissions it releases into the environment. Second, if something happens and the insurance company ends up with the car, they may not be able to sell it again because the modifications make it illegal to drive on the street.

If you modify your vehicle, the car insurance company may take steps to protect themselves. This can mean increasing your premium. If you absolutely have to modify your car, look for a specific insurance company that won’t penalize you for it.

All Car Insurance Companies Have Different Rates

When you apply for car insurance, it’s vital that you shop around to find the cheapest car insurance that can give you all of the coverage you need. Several search engines allow you to compare various car insurance companies side-by-side so you can find the best rate. Don’t skimp on liability insurance and be very aware of what your car insurance covers and what it doesn’t cover. That way, you won’t get a surprise if you’re involved in an accident.

See Also: Average Car Insurance Rates For People Under 21 Years Old

Perks

When you think of car insurance, you usually don’t think of any perks that come with it other than avoiding a ticket for not having it. However, some insurers offer perks for people who are loyal to the company. You may get free towing in the event of a breakdown, tiered rewards with lower rates when you stay with a company for over a year and a refund for not having accidents every six months.

Your Rates May Increase with a Claim

Say you caused an accident on your way to work or school and the other driver filed a claim. Some insurance companies will increase your monthly premium in response to this claim. This includes if you file a claim in the event of an accident as well, and it applies whether or not the accident was your fault.

It Won’t Cover Your Belongings in the Car

Did you know that your car insurance will cover the cost to repair or replace your car and some medical expenses depending on your policy but not any belongings you lose as a result of an accident? For example, say you have your laptop, cell phone, GPS unit, or tablet in the car and they got ruined due to a car accident. Your car insurance won’t cover the replacement cost. It also won’t cover their replacement if they’re stolen out of your car.

It May Cover Pet Injuries

pet injuries car insurance

Some car insurance companies have coverage for veterinarian expenses if your pet is in the car and injured when you have an accident. Not all insurance companies offer this though, so you should ask if your pet routinely rides with you. Also, make sure you check on how much the insurance will cover because a lot of them cap at $1,000 for veterinarian bills.

You Can Save Money By Paying Your Premium in Lump Sum Form

Yes, you can pay your car insurance every month. This may seem like the cheaper option upfront. However, you’ll most likely pay more over the course of the year by doing this. It’s better to pay for a year or half of the year when you buy insurance. It’s more expensive upfront, but you’ll avoid additional interest fees, payment processing fees, and other miscellaneous fees.

No matter what insurance company you decide to use for your car insurance, make sure that you compare them. The goal is to get the cheapest car insurance available that will still provide adequate protection in the event of an accident. Take your time, shop around, and pick the car insurance plan that is going to work for you.

See Also: Not So Perfect Driving Record? What You Need To Know About Car Insurance Coverage Costs

The post 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Car Insurance appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

It looks like Coinbase is preparing to add a lot more cryptocurrencies

Coinbase aspires to be the New York Stock Exchange of crypto, and it is taking a small — but not insignificant – step to offering a lot more cryptocurrencies after it revamped the process of listing new digital assets.

The exchange currently only supports just five cryptocurrencies — Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic and Litecoin — and the process of adding each one has been gradual. The company would announce plans, and then later announce when listing the asset. The idea being to reduce the potential to send the value of a token skyrocketing. (Since support from Coinbase potentially adds a lot more trading volume.)

That clearly isn’t a sustainable process if Coinbase is to add “hundreds” of tokens, as CEO Brian Amstrong told an audience at TechCrunch Disrupt it eventually plans to.

Regulatory concern is high on the scale when evaluating support for new cryptocurrencies, so now Coinbase is speeding up the process by limiting trading of some tokens to specific locations where necessary.

“Today we’re announcing a new process that will allow us to rapidly list most digital assets that are compliant with local law, by satisfying listing requests in a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction manner. In practice, this means some new assets listed on our platform may only be available to customers in select jurisdictions for a period of time,” the company said in a blog post.

That’ll mean an end to the double announcement — ‘token X is coming soon’ and ‘token X is now supported’ — and instead a single reveal. That indicates that a large number of new assets may be incoming — for an idea of which ones, Coinbase recently said it is looking over a number of cryptocurrencies.

Interestingly, the company also noted that it may introduce a listing fee — this is common with many other exchanges — in the future in order to cover costs around adding some projects.

“Initially there will be no application fee. Depending on the volume of submissions, we reserve the right to impose an application fee in the future to defray the legal and operational costs associated with evaluating and listing new assets,” it explained.

The company has opened a listing proposal link, here. If similar features from other exchanges are anything to go by, Coinbase’s will be flooded by naive token holders who think they have a shot at getting listed on Coinbase, which will take them to the moon. Good luck maintaining that list, guys.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Coinbase plots to become the New York Stock Exchange of crypto securities

The future of Coinbase looks something like the New York Stock Exchange. That’s according a vision laid out by CEO Brian Amstrong who was interviewed on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today.

Coinbase is known for being the most popular exchange for converting fiat currency into crypto — most of the largest traded exchanges are crypto-to-crypto — but he foresees a future in which it plays host to a growing number of cryptocurrencies as it becomes standard for companies to create their own token, which runs alongside equity as an alternative investment system.

“It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens,” Armstrong said.

“We want to be the bridge all over the world where people come and they take fiat currency and they can get it into these different cryptocurrencies,” he added.

Brian Armstrong (Coinbase) says crypto regulation will result in the next version of the stock market #TCDisrupt pic.twitter.com/2kyxAmhPSZ

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) September 7, 2018

That tokenized future could see Coinbase host hundreds of tokens within “years” and even potentially “millions” in the future, according to Armstrong. That’s a big jump on the five cryptocurrencies that it currently supports today, and it would make it way larger than financial institutions like the New York Stock Exchange, which is actually a Coinbase investor and is getting into Bitcoin, or the NASDAQ.

One of the critical pieces of making this vision a reality is, of course, regulation. This week at Disrupt, others in crypto space have argued that a lack of clarity around crypto regulation is costing the U.S. as innovation and startups are being developed in overseas markets. As the founder of a U.S.-based crypto startup that is valued at over $1 billion and is hiring hard, Armstrong doesn’t subscribe to that thesis but he did admit that there is “a big open question” over whether the majority of the new rush of tokens he foresees will be securities or not.

Still, Coinbase has made moves to add security tokens to its portfolio with the acquisition of a securities dealer earlier this year.

“We do feel a substantial subset of these tokens will be securities,” he said. “Our approach has always been to be the most trusted [exchange] and the easiest to use. So we want to be the legal compliant place where you can start to trade these tokens that are classified as securities.”

“Web 1.0 was about publishing information, web 2.0 was about interaction and web 3.0 is going to be about value transfer on the internet because now the web has this native currency and so applications can be built that instantly tap into this global economy on the internet,” Armstrong added.

How international can crypto become? The Coinbase CEO thinks that the total number of people in the crypto ecosystem can reach one billion within the next five years, up from around 40 million today.

You can watch the full video from Armstrong’s interview below.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

5 Ways To Get Physically Fit Without Spending Too Much Money

According to research by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), more than 1 in 3 adults are overweight and 1 in 13 adults have extreme obesity.

The findings mentioned above are to be expected in today’s fast-paced environment. More and more people spend long hours at work to maintain their financial resources. Unfortunately, this 9-to-5 lifestyle often affects our food and lifestyle choices. Most adults on a tight budget avoid the gym because they don’t want to spend money on monthly membership fees.

It may seem like a wise investment to some, but let’s be honest. A gym or fitness center can be heavy on the pocket.

However, sticking to your budget doesn’t mean that you have to compromise your health. Getting fit on a budget is totally possible.

So, here are 5 of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to get physically fit without burning holes in your wallet.

Walk 10,000 steps a day

walk daily

Most of us take our phone everywhere. We use it to message friends, take photos, send emails, and much more. So, why not take advantage of this hand-held device and use it to track our fitness levels, too?

iPhones have an inbuilt step-tracker loaded as a standard feature. But the latest study suggests that using our smartphone to track the total steps taken in one day may not be accurate. Researchers found that the iPhone’s built-in pedometer missed about 1340 steps (almost half a mile) in a day.

This is why we recommend you to invest in a physical tracker or a pedometer as it can help you achieve your goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. Walking for 30 minutes a day has tons of health benefits and can help keep chronic illnesses at bay.

Watch what you eat

If you are looking to lose fat and build muscle, then you need to increase your intake of healthy food. Eat a balanced diet that contains protein to help build muscles, fruits and vegetables for mineral and fiber, wholesome carbs to keep those energy levels high, and healthy fats to boost fat loss. Don’t forget to drink ample amounts of water to stay hydrated.

Eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive. Whether you are a student or an adult living within a limited amount of money, here are 20 tips that will help you make better food choices on a budget.

Volunteer for a good cause

We are a firm believer in the idea that what goes around, comes around. Try giving a few hours in a week to your nearest nonprofit organization. Help them with physical work like garden digging, trail building or training your local sports team. You’ll experience double the satisfaction. Nothing beats the good feeling that arises after helping others and the soreness that comes from working hard for a good cause.

See Also: The Power of Volunteering

Clean up

clean up

Believe it or not, you can burn a lot of calories by cleaning, especially if it is the intense spring-cleaning sort. The exact number of calories spent during housework and cleaning varies from person to person and depends on the individual’s weight.

Stay away from toxic chemicals and don’t contaminate your environment by using them regularly. Use mild cleaners like soap, water, and vinegar which do an equally good job. Get moving by pushing the couch and cleaning underneath it. Wash the windows and get out all the extra stuff out from the garage.

Catch up with a friend

Catching up with a friend or colleague for a game of tennis, golf or swimming is a great way to combine socialization and exercise. You’ll feel motivated and refreshed after flexing those muscles and spending quality time with a cherished one. Remember, the key is to avoid picking up a pack of beer on your way back and passing out in front of the TV!

Conclusion

If you want to live a long and healthy life on a budget, think positively and work hard to achieve your goals. Visit your physician at least once a year to know more about the workout that best suits your body type. Use a waist trainer to maintain a correct posture during the workout session.

Eat home-cooked food at least five days a week. According to research, home-cooked meals are far more nutritious and healthier than convenience foods. Plus, apply the Japanese concept of living and eat till you are 80% full instead of wiping your plate clean every time. Give up smoking and drink occasionally.

Just make these small changes in your lifestyle and switch to these lifelong habits. You’ll notice a rise in your mental and physical health while staying well within your budget.

Do you have any tips or tricks that can help stay us fit without spending bucket loads of money? Share your best-kept fitness secrets with us in the comments below.

The post 5 Ways To Get Physically Fit Without Spending Too Much Money appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Smart Tactics to Resolve and Stay Out of Entrepreneurial Debt

Debt is a part of every business and every entrepreneur knows that. However, not all entrepreneurs are aware of the difference between a bad and good debt and that makes it hard to learn how to avoid the debt trap.

All good business debts are credit lines, mortgages, and loans. They get leveraged for the benefit of the entrepreneur’s business. In other words, they are productive debt.

Bad debt, on the other hand, is the amount that you can’t leverage as your company expands. Financial experts call this reductive debt. Simply put, it’s money which isn’t working in your favor. Generally, this capital gets used to purchase things that are beyond your financial reach. Typically, the results aren’t always favorable.

Reasons entrepreneurs encounter debts

Entrepreneurs find themselves in debt for three main reasons. They are discussed as follows:

The fluctuations of the cash flow

Some entrepreneurs and business owners sometimes undervalue the crucial cash-flow ups and downs. They are unable to predict a poor cash-flow for a prolonged time frame. These entrepreneurs usually switch to credit cards to manage the troublesome cash flow, hoping there’s some balance.

Most entrepreneurs feel that they can repay off their credit card amounts fast, but that’s far from the truth. And that’s the starting point of the crisis. It is here that entrepreneurs contemplate on loan and get caught up in a debt cycle.

Excessive business pressure

Sometimes, entrepreneurs start to live on their business income. It is not a smart call until such time the business can support them.

Most leave their jobs and go all out to develop a business. But most don’t realize that they aren’t yet ready to pay off the monthly earnings that they stay on.

Each company requires investment and it also needs time to invest. It also requires time and reserves for generating a consistent cash-flow. If you resonate with this, have a second line of earning to balance the crisis.

Overconfidence is dangerous

At times, entrepreneurs can be overconfident while using productive debt. Generally, the situation shapes up something like this:

The entrepreneur counts on his earnings and he decides to maximize the business debt to expand his business as fast as possible. However, his lifestyle also gets modified to the new income level.

Here’s where the situations go out of hand.

Due to losing customers or an economy change, a crisis happens. The entrepreneur incurs a financial loss and the situation goes out of control. The entrepreneur incurs a debt to smoothen financial crisis.

See Also: Tips for New Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know Before Starting A Business

How to manage entrepreneurial debt?

Entrepreneurs who understand good debt go a long way. Their strategies are progressive. Some of these entrepreneurs, who are millionaires, have various thought processes that other business owners don’t possess. They have a unique way to make money and manage debts as well.

Two primary methods have been discussed below as follows. If you want to know more on managing entrepreneurial debt management, you can browse through sites like NationalDebtRelief and others to get better information.

Getting out from a reductive debt

Every entrepreneur wants long-term success. For that, it’s essential to obliterate all kinds of wrong and reductive debt from your business at the earliest.

The spreadsheet strategy or analysis must be familiar to you. It is instrumental in taking you out of any business debt faster than you can imagine. The process is simple.

All you need to do is:

• Develop a basic financial plan
• Adhere to it
• Learn from your experience

You need to start by outlining the monthly earning. Know how much of it you can use on an end-to-end basis to reduce the reductive debt. Commit as much as you can. The amount you decide to pay to remove the deficit needs to stretch you.

Go on and create a reductive debt list in proper order. You may start with a high-value debt amount at number 1 and the least at last. Don’t forget to add in the least payment beside every debt in your list.

Once you do this, you’re all set to execute the plan. Go ahead and take out the exact sum that you promised to remove the debt with on a monthly basis. You may add some extra money to small debt payment.

Keep on making your required minimum repayments for every remaining payment. You’ll notice that the lowest debt gets repaid fast this way. Going forward, you may apply the same process to pay off the high-value debts. In the same process, you’ll see that the high-value debt amounts get repaid. Repeat this process, until such time all the debts get cleared.

Consciously stay out from any debt

It is the ideal way to steer clear of all kinds of business debt. However, precise financial planning is essential. You can count on few of the best business practices to manage and stay away from entrepreneurial debt.

Try and shrink expenditures – Being frugal is smart. Successful entrepreneurs always suggest this practice. You can read books that will be of help.

Avert unnecessary expenditures – Do consider the opportunity expenses when you are arriving at a financial decision.

Recruit people only when it’s possible – You have to pay your staff. So, it’s a smart call to only recruit people when you have the financial capacity to. Else, you will have to apply for a loan and eventually fall into a debt cycle.

Don’t stretch with productive debt – Spending carefully, even with productive debt, is crucial. Making investments that can go against you isn’t a smart decision.

Conclusion

In all situations, it is always advisable to have ample cash deposits. It helps to manage economic downturns and manage other emergencies.

In the recent times, debt consolidation has proven to be a great way to manage entrepreneurial debt. Rather than repaying at various quarters, it is easy to pay off one huge loan amount. That way, an entrepreneur will have one amount to pay off in a month.

Today, there are various financial institutions providing debt loan consolidation services and other financial counseling. You can use it to plan your business cash-flow better and master how to avoid debt trap.

See Also: Entrepreneurship: A Better Career Choice For Generation Z?

The post Smart Tactics to Resolve and Stay Out of Entrepreneurial Debt appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Easy Money Hacks to Improve Your Finances

Personal finance doesn’t have to complicated. With the right mindset and commitment towards a better financial life, you can make big improvements effortlessly and quickly.

The following are 10 easy money hacks that can take your personal finance management to the next level:

Online Shopping

online shopping

One of the best ways to save money is to shop online as frequently as possible. This is because there is a slew of reliable and useful online portals including Amazon, Walmart, etc. where you can enjoy attractive discounts and cashback offers.

By making purchases at the right time and from the right website, you can easily save up to 30% or more than you would otherwise spend at your local store where you have limited options and limited time for research.

Refinancing

Is your mortgage or car loan giving a hard time? If your answer is “yes”, then refinancing can be a good solution to look into.

In refinancing, you essentially take a new loan to repay the current one. The advantage of this is that you can get a lower interest rate and a more flexible repayment structure with the new loan.

Increasing Credit Score

Your credit score will play a huge role in your life as far as the finances are concerned. So, if you have a high score, then not only you can get a personal loan, home loan, etc. rather easily, you can also negotiate and get a lower interest rate than the standard. This way, you can save a lot of money on the interest.

There are many easy and simple ways to improve your credit score. You don’t even need the help of a professional to succeed in this endeavor. You can just refer to authority websites and blogs such as the Dough Roller Blog for tips and advice. By taking the recommended credit-building measures, you can make decent improvements in a short period and enjoy more financial freedom!

Avoiding Minimum Payments

minimum payments

Credit card issuers often market their products with the “minimum payment” feature. As you can imagine, it’s an option for a credit card user in which they can choose to pay only a small portion of their credit card bill i.e. the minimum payment to avoid penalties. However, it’s something you should stay away from as much as possible.

When you make a minimum payment, your account is saved from fines and penalties. However, the remaining amount i.e. what’s left on your bill after you have made the minimum payment is carried over to the next month and added to the next bill. In addition to that, this balance continues to attract interest. Thus, always pay your bills in full to avoid paying interest and to protect your credit score.

Buying Used Items

There is nothing wrong with buying used products, especially when they cost a lot when bought new. However, the key is selective purchase.

For instance, items like furniture, expensive college books, hardware tools, musical instruments, etc. can be easily bought online with websites like eBay, craigslist, wallapop, and letgo etc. This is because these items age well and their quality does’t degrade too much over time if they are well taken care of.

Buying used items can help you save as much as half of the original price. However, always be sure to inspect the products before you hand over the money.

Availing Tax Benefits

Do you pay the exact amount of income tax that’s applicable to your profile? There are ways to lower your taxable income which means you can save money that you would otherwise pay in taxes.

For instance, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow you to put money into an account tax-free and withdraw it tax-free when used to cover medical costs. Similarly, you can deduct interest from your student loan payments on your tax return.

Taking up Freelancing

There are many easy ways to make money online. For instance, if you are good at writing, photography, video editing, etc. then you can take up related gigs online from SMEs and individuals looking for help.

There are a number of reliable and high-paying freelancer websites like Upwork and Freelancer where you can create an account to bag gigs and earn some decent money on the side. This will also allow you to use your free time during weekends or holidays for something productive and financially beneficial.

See Also: 5 Freelancing Tips That Will Make you Successful

Setting up an Emergency Fund

emergency fund

Life is uncertain, and if you lose your job one day or aren’t able to work for some other reason, then your savings can deplete quickly, thus leaving you vulnerable. You may end up taking a personal loan at a high interest rate being short of options. However, you can prevent this kind of situation by setting an emergency fund for the rainy days.

Ideally, an emergency fund should be enough to cover your expenses for at least 3-6 months.

Using a Mobile App for Tracking Expenses

We have all heard that creating a monthly budget, monitoring the expenses, etc. is important. However, who has the time to note down all the expenses and do the math? Fortunately, there are a number of free apps that can help you track your spending.

The best personal finance apps in the market are capable of reading your emails and SMS for automated tracking, creating detailed reports, suggesting payment methods and credit cards that offer discounts, etc. Thus, these can help you save money in a variety of ways.

Reconsider Recurring Expenses

A lot of times, one-time expenses such as car repair, dental treatment, etc. can’t be avoided. However, the recurring expenses which are also the biggest burden on your finances can be looked into and altered for saving money.

If you find that there are more affordable alternatives to your current recurring expenses such as insurance premium, Internet connection charges, cable bills, etc. then you can make a switch. Maybe you can find a cheaper Internet plan, or replace your home’s light fixtures with their energy-efficient versions at to lower your utility bills, etc.

So, these were some of the best ways to improve your financial health. Do try them out and see how you get the benefits in just a short period! Good luck!

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5 Strategies For Paying Off Student Loans Fast

No one can deny the fact that education nowadays has become very expensive. It is not always possible to fund the whole investment personally and sometimes, you’ll need assistance in the form of student loans.

If you have a good strategy in place though, paying off student loans fast is possible. In case you are having problems devising a plan alone, you can reach out to a financial adviser who can analyze your outstanding loan and give you the best method to clear it.

Being just out of college still means there is a lot left to see in life. Therefore, worrying and losing sleep over student loans should be avoided. If you are looking for help, then this article can guide you in taking the right steps.

Figure out your budget

figure out budget

This is the first reality check that you need to do before paying off your loans. You need to figure out what your budget is every month while repaying. It should be more than the minimum balance that you should invest in.

Whatever extra cash you have, don’t use it for any other purpose other than paying your loan. The extra cash will assist you in clearing your debt faster.

Refinance your student loan

If you have multiple student loans running at various places, getting it to one single agency might be a wise decision. By doing this, you will need to pay only a single interest instead of multiple small ones. As a result, your interest amount will be lower.

Refinancing gives you additional time to repay the loan but consider the decision very carefully. The longer it takes you to pay your loan, the higher the accumulated interest will be. Act according to your situation.

Get in on the sharing economy

Sharing economy is a very novel and fair concept that has caught on with the younger generation.

If you are swimming in a debt pool, consider renting or borrowing useful stuff from strangers instead of paying a lot of money to buy them. This can help cut down your expenses, leaving you with more money to repay your loan.

Since a digital platform is involved here, the transactions are relatively safe, which allows many strangers to collaborate.

Treat the loan like a mortgage

Once you have an outstanding student loan, treat it like you would treat a mortgage. A mortgage is a property or a good whose value is almost similar to your loan amount.

Any issues with the loan can be settled by taking over the mortgaged entity. Once you treat your student loan like a mortgage, you will be motivated to clear your loans as soon as possible.

Focus on one goal at a time

focus on one goal

If you have multiple loans on your head and you keep worrying about all of them at once, life is going to get difficult for you. Instead, you should focus on one loan at a time and concentrate on clearing that.

If you are having difficulty in deciding how and where to start, you could refer to debt review. It can analyze your outstanding loans and give you a plausible solution to repay it.

There are two ways of doing it.

You could take up the loan with the largest amount and start clearing it and once that is done, you can go for the loan of the next lesser amount. This is called the debt avalanche system and it works for most people.

Another technique is to clear the low-cost loans first and then go for the higher ones. This gives you a mental satisfaction of finishing at least one loan so that you can move on to the next one with confidence. This is known as the debt snowball system. You could resort to any of the ways according to your convenience.

A student loan is a burden at a tender age but once you have a good strategy in place, you won’t have a hard time freeing yourself from your debt.

See Also: Is There Going To Be A Student Loan Apocalypse?

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Debt Collection Technology Updates You Need to Be Aware Of

If you’re not on time with your bills, it’s important that you stay aware of the latest debt collection technology. From your smartphone to Ringless voicemails, debt collectors have gone high-tech to help increase payments.

While agencies argue that their methods benefit customers and allow collectors to complete their mission, debtors are left surprised and consumer advocates are beyond angry.

Here are the latest updates on debt collection technology:

Ringless Voicemail Drops

ringless voicemail

A lot of debt collectors are excellent in finding ways to test and defy the laws that put a limit on how often they can call their clients. One of those ways allows them to send voicemails directly to phones without causing a ring.

Due to a technicality, these messages don’t appear as calls but messages that show up as voicemails.

The Consumer Protection Firm’s attorney Billy Howard doesn’t fall in line with companies like Stratics Networks who argue that no violations of regulations occur because auto-dialed collections technically are not phone calls. “They’re trying to torture the language of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” says Howard.

Senior sales vice president Paul Gies of VoApps Inc. believes differently. Gies argues that customers prefer ringless messages to standard calling because it creates less pressure to respond immediately. Consumers can return when they’re able to without feeling forced. He adds that collectors believe the system works too well.

And it’s not only the consumer Gies believes he’s looking out for. Even clients tell them that they overwhelm their call centers with inbound volume.

Avatars

Friendly avatars can increase the likelihood of payment from debtors than when they visit typical sites. That is according to Tom Gillespie Jr. who works as the chief executive of BeGuided Inc.

His collection company, Access Receivables Management Inc., works under the idea that “nice people collect more”. They aim to turn around traditional interpretations of debt collectors by moving away from practices like threat and insults with characters like Zoey. This animated avatar appears in borrowers’ inbox and guides them through the debt repayment process.

Zoey and avatars like her have a wide range of character traits. From access to multiple languages to the ability to smooth-talk borrowers into repaying debts, these avatars offer a personal approach. They also have access to credit histories to allow for better payment plans for debtors.

“In the last year, we’ve sent out millions of emails” notes Gillespie, “We’ve had zero consumer pushback” when using avatars.

Speech Analytics

Cursing during conversations with debt collectors will be met with prompts provided by CallMiner Inc. software. It helps direct discussions back to where they need to go. These programs evaluate keywords used during conversations to identify emotions.

The color-based box system used by Supervisors incorporates the company’s speech-analytics system. Colors communicate the agent’s standing while interacting with a debtor. Green means that the conversation is typical and the agent is providing necessary information like “mini-Miranda” rights for debtors to understand their rights.

If a box changes color to red, it signifies a problem. Maybe an agent is experiencing difficulty or there’s profanity.

“A supervisor can consider barging in and taking over the call, or whispering into the agent’s side of the call,” CallMiner marketing vice president Scott Kendrick explains.

The Eureka program of CallMiner has multiple functions. It can provide a ranking system for agents and guide the negotiations for valid results. It can even step in and give better responses when an agent struggles to make an emotional connection with the borrower.

Games

Debt collection agencies like FidoTrack LLC in Vermont use video game tactics to motivate agents to compete against each other to improve performance. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering collection agencies are known for not caring or being reachable.

The president and founder Brett Brosseau justifies these tactics saying that “you figure a lot of people who are actually collecting are maybe on the other end of the phone in their personal life. It sucks to ask people for money.”

Agents at FidoTrack improve their sales by 19% according to Brosseau through these types of regulated games. He adds that consumer complaints are down as well with shorter calls and a better response.

The game-like competition between collectors may make work more enjoyable but debtors surely aren’t enjoying them.

Other Tactics

social media tracking

Skip tracing makes it difficult for debtors to hide from collection agencies because agents look through various social media to locate them.

While some collectors will merely use social media, others are taking more aggressive approaches. An agency in Texas, for example, links the Social Security Numbers of their clients to their social media accounts, causing upset among specific groups.

Spoofing, on the other hand, is a tactic employed by agents who change their area code to match the debtor’s local one. This tricks the debtor into responding. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advocates for canceling this practice.

If consumers feel they have been mistreated, they have options. They can either complain to the right government agency or they can sue the agents. This opens them up to something called scrubbing.

Collectors look through lists of databases when they are scrubbing to remove potential hazards. These “banana peels”, as they are called in the industry, are people who have litigious records and are seen as unnecessary hazards.

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The Top 4 Best Alternatives to Paypal for Business

Paypal is the biggest payment gateway out there and there’s no doubt about that. It is the most famous online payment system in the world to the point that people associate the word “payment gateway” with Paypal. It offers a nice, clean and very comfortable service within a click and makes everything possible. You know the score.

However, Paypal is not the only payment gateway out there and it is not even the best of the bunch. Sure, it dominates the market but it doesn’t mean that the competition is just slacking around. There are competitors and they rapidly evolve and try to outplay the big guy.

Before we get to the best alternatives to Paypal for business, let’s explain its problem first.

Paypal is a victim of its own marketing. Over the years, Paypal was hyped as the one and only super payment gateway and people believed in that idea. However, the reality is not exactly like that.

Paypal is good for basic transactions. It is serviceable for slightly larger sums but when it comes to a commercial operation with diverse payments and schedules, it gets clumsy and barely usable.

Another thing that raises concerns is security. Paypal is not very good at it. There are holes in its security systems that enable account hijacking and account blocking and that is not something you want to experience. Imagine the consequences of such glitches in your business.

Who are Paypal’s Competitors?

Diversity is the key to success in eCommerce operation. You need to have a set of options for your business and you need to give your customers several options to perform payments.

By using only one payment gateway, you are seriously limiting not just yourself but your customers, too.

With that, here are the best alternatives to Paypal for business you should consider.

Stripe

stripe payment

Stripe is a heavy hitter. It came late to the party and turned the tide on its side simply by being handsome and charming. Jokes aside, it is one of the biggest competitors to Paypal because of its smoothness of operation and security.

Stripe is really easy to integrate into any kind of website. In addition, it avoids redirects and performs the entirety of operation on your website. It gives a larger degree of control over the operation and that is particularly calming for a businessman.

Stripe’s greatest asset is its fraud detection system. It consists of thorough credibility checks, comparison with blacklist databases, and analysis of activity. It guarantees that no one ever will succeed in wrecking your account.

Stripe’s fees are standard but chargebacks are lower than Paypals.

The challenge comes with operating it. In order to make Stripe work, you need to know a thing or two about programming. That isn’t that much of a problem if you think about it for a moment.

Square

square-official-payment

Square is probably the most radical payment gateway out there. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t skew the principles of the economy. Instead, it offers services that feel absolutely different from any other payment gateway available.

For the lack of a better word, Square is “Stripped-down” or “no-nonsense” payment gateway. That is what makes it so attractive to an ever-growing audience.

From the user experience perspective, Square is very similar to Paypal if it was cleaned-up and dropped weight. It is faster, smoother, and more elegant to use.

In terms of service, it is a reliable and trustworthy gateway. If there is something wrong, don’t worry as its customer support service will be the ones to handle it.

Authorize.Net

authorize net

Authorize.Net was there from the very beginning of eCommerce on The Internet. It saw it all and it knows a couple of tricks. As one of the oldest payment gateways active today, Authorize.Net has the benefit of having the time-tested trust.

One of its major assets is security measures. Authorize.Net is a perfect gateway for those who have a paranoia about online transactions.

In terms of UX, it is really user-friendly. You can do whatever you need if its legal. The tools for structuring payments are easy to handle and there are many additional settings that help with nuances and scheduling.

However, Authorize.Net is not cheap and that is a major turn off.

Braintree

braintree

Braintree is a division of Paypal that is a much better fit for eCommerce payments.
The best thing about it is how easy it is to handle very different types of payment. Just a couple of clicks and you can get your thing done.

Another great thing is integration. Unlike Paypal that needs some tweaks in order to fit the website, Braintree fits every type of site like a glove.

Fees are standard but in exchange, you get more features to play with so this is definitely a win. However, there might be some complication regarding technical adjustments.

Conclusion

Paypal still stands tall in the payment gateway segment, but there are worthy competitors who have something else to offer. For business owners, that is a good thing.

The nature of the competition in the payment gateway segment is beneficial for every involved party. It jumpstarted rapid evolution, increased the overall quality of services, and deepened sets of available features.

As such, the variety of options available is inspiring.

The post The Top 4 Best Alternatives to Paypal for Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Eight Mistakes You Could be Making with Your Health Insurance

Health insurance can be expensive, but not having it can be an even bigger mistake. Did you know that the average cost of an emergency room visit in the United States can cost upwards of $1,233 per visit. If you don’t have insurance, you could end up paying this bill out of your own pocket. There are several common mistakes people make when it comes to your health insurance, and you don’t want to make them if you can help it.

Picking Health Insurance with a Low Premium

good health insurance plan

With health insurance, your premium is the amount you pay each year for your healthcare before your insurance covers the rest. A lower premium means that you’ll pay more for any co-pays or deductibles after you have the services. A higher premium means that you pay more upfront, but the costs go down once you pay it.

If you’re generally healthy and if you have a decent financial cushion that can handle a more significant medical bill, you may benefit from having a lower premium. If you have ongoing health issues, a higher premium may be better because it’ll reduce the costs of your visit expenses.

See Also: What To Look For In A Good Health Insurance Plan

You Only Use Employer Health Insurance

Insurance through your employer might be a most cost-effective option, and it might seem like the best deal upfront. If you’re relatively healthy, you can usually find cheaper options because the employer’s insurance rates are based on their employee’s average health statistics. It is essential that you shop around and compare health insurances.

Additionally, many employer health plans cover routine doctor visits and even emergency room costs, but they might not have vision or dental options. It’s essential that you shop around and look at your employer’s plan to see what services it’ll cover and which ones you’ll have to pay for.

Not Reading all of the Fine Print

Health insurance can be very dry and difficult to understand. This is why a lot of people don’t read it, and they assume that whatever they have done will be covered by their insurance plan. This isn’t always the case, and you could get a nasty surprise in the form of a large bill.

The fine print on your insurance information will tell you everything you need to know about your plan. It’ll let you know whether or not specific services are covered, what your co-pays are, what percentage of hospital stays the insurance will cover per day, and how much you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance picks up the rest.

Don’t Find out if You Have an HMO or a PPO Plan

HMO insurances have strict in-network and out-of-network fees they can charge. It also dictates which doctor, clinic, or hospital you can visit and have your insurance pay for it. A PPO plan is more flexible, and it lets you choose your doctor or clinic, and it can also be more lenient with in-network and out-of-network care.

A POS plan is a hybrid plan of the HMO and PPO plans. These types of programs let you see out-of-network doctors and clinics, but they usually require that your primary care doctor gives you a referral so you can go to them.

Skipping Health Insurance Because You Never See the Doctor

health-insurance-benefits

Life and accidents happen, and your health is one thing that you don’t want to be unprepared for. This is especially true because healthcare costs continue to climb, and even routine doctor visits can cost you over $150 per visit.

If you decide not to get insurance and you need medical care, you’ll most likely have to pay for everything out of your own pocket. Many insurance companies refuse to backdate their services, so you’re out of luck and on the hook for the full bill amount.

Ignoring Your Flex Spending Account

Many employers let you set aside a percentage of your check into a flexible spending account tax-free. These flexible spending accounts help you pay for medical bills that your insurance won’t cover. These non-covered services could include eyeglasses, dental, emergency room visits, co-pays, prescriptions, and deductibles.

Your flexible spending account can also help you reduce the amount you claim on your yearly taxes. If you have a taxable income of $80,000 each year, your annual tax amount is 15 percent or $16,000. If you’ve managed to save $3,000 in your flexible spending account, your taxable income goes down to $77,000. The amount the government claims as taxes drop as well.

Not Having Prescription Drug Coverage

Did you know that a lot of insurance plans don’t cover prescription drugs? While this may not be a big deal if you don’t take them regularly, they add up quickly. Certain prescription costs have gone up by as much as 10 percent, and you don’t want to get stuck paying for these on your own.

Take a look at your current policy and see if it covers the medications you routinely take. You might have to call your insurance company and ask about your specific medications, especially if they’re more expensive. You could also ask your doctor if any generic versions of your medicines exist because they’re usually cheaper.

Not Renewing Your Insurance Each Year

Almost every health insurance plan requires you to renew it once a year. State plans may require a renewal every six months. Make sure that you don’t forget about your annual or semi-annual renewal paperwork. If you don’t get it, call your insurance company.

Once your insurance lapses, it may be difficult to get it active again for the same price or on the same plan you had before. If you have medical services during the time your insurance lapses, it may not backdate and cover those services. This could cost you a lot of money and drain your finances.

These eight health insurance mistakes are very common, and you want to avoid them at all costs. Your health is important, and you want to make sure that you can get the care you need when you need it.

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A Simple Guide to Understanding Cryptocurrency

The cryptocurrency market has grown. It has gone far compared to its status when it was just starting way back 2009. According to the updated list of Investing.com, there are 1,890 cryptocurrencies available in the market.

By now, you’re probably wondering what those cryptocurrencies are. Guess what?

If that’s the case, then this article is for you. This will give you a better understanding of cryptocurrency and the following:

  • The main types of cryptocurrency
  • The top cryptocurrencies and their differences
  • Pros and cons of each cryptocurrency

What is Cryptocurrency?

The prefix “crypto-” originally stands for cryptography. It is a technology that stores information to keep attackers away from malicious undertakings.

If you will connect cryptography to your history class, Allied Forces in WWII used to apply it to send and receive confidential and secret messages. Nowadays, computer technicians utilize cryptography in a lot of different ways. One of them gave birth to cryptocurrency.

You can’t examine the history of cryptocurrency without first beginning with blockchain. It was started by Satoshi Nakamoto for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transaction using Bitcoin. Blockchain gave the response to digital trust since it records imperative data publicly and doesn’t enable anybody to expel it. It’s transparent, time-stamped, and decentralized. Everyone can access it with the use of the internet.

With cryptocurrency, people don’t have to entrust their wealth to a single company such as a bank to handle their money. Banks are centralized while cryptocurrency is decentralized and runs by blockchain technology. Blockchain serves as a public ledger which enables tracking transactions while maintaining the anonymity of the parties involved.

Three Main Types of Cryptocurrency

bitcoin

Bitcoin

It is the first one to use blockchain in 2009. A person under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto started it as a way to digitally and anonymously pay for goods and services between two parties without the use of third-parties to verify transactions. Several years passed, Bitcoin’s primary role is for goods and services trading. In 2013 to 2014, it boomed. It slowed down its pace and soared up again in 2017 until today. Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency made in history.

Altcoin

“Alternative Coin” to Bitcoin, it means that any cryptocurrency aside from bitcoin is considered as altcoin. And there are thousands of it available in the market. Altcoins came after the success of Bitcoin. More often, it presents as a better version of Bitcoin. Numerous altcoins are endeavoring to focus on any apparent constraints that Bitcoin has and thought of coming up with newer versions and competitive advantages.

Token

Some people find tokens generally fascinating. In contrast with the other two, tokens are special because they don’t have a particular blockchain. They are used to make purchases on Decentralized Applications. They also provide specific advantages like discounts. The dApps are built for the use of smart contracts which is why they use tokens.

Tokens have a value and that is the reason why people get them. Some purchase tokens to offer them later at a higher cost rather than get and utilize them right away on a dApp.

To transact using dApp, you must have Ether or NEO to make the necessary purchases. Other dApps are built on other blockchains like ETH or NEO. The nodes on the said altcoin blockchains still verify the token transactions. This means that the transaction fee is still paid using ETH or NEO and not with the token itself.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Trading for Beginners: How Can You Get Started?

Well-Known Cryptocurrencies in the Market

well known cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin

Pros

  • There are only 21 million Bitcoins.

There are only 21 million bitcoins to be mined in total. Since 17 million is already in circulation, the remaining 4 million bitcoins can be seen as a shortage for crypto enthusiasts.

This is actually a good thing. If there’s a lot of Bitcoin fans who want more of it despite the low supply, they’ll have to pay more just to get their hands on them. This can dramatically increase the price of Bitcoins.

  • It is easier to exchange than the other types.

It means that Bitcoin is easier and faster to convert into cash.

  • Bitcoin is acceptable in almost all stores than any other cryptocurrencies.

Hundreds of online sellers accept payments in the form of bitcoin. It is good for larger transactions because there is no charging on taxes. It also has lower transaction fees. Bitcoin has already established its name and that is why the trust and acceptance rating from the market is high.

  • It’s the biggest cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin is the king of all kings. It’s in charge of about 40% of the market. This domination means that Bitcoin has a huge liquidity and it has already established its name to public knowledge. Users do not have to worry about the malicious activities concerning cryptocurrency.

Cons

  • Fluctuation happens a lot. The price of Bitcoin changes almost every day. Actually, Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange based in Shibuya, Japan collapsed and filed for bankruptcy due to Bitcoin’s price falling up to 50%.
  • A better cryptocurrency may replace Bitcoin. Hundreds of altcoins and many are still coming up. Bitcoin has been in the market for 10 years and any of the newer and advanced cryptocurrency may eventually replace the king crypto since there are other cryptocurrencies researching for advanced features than Bitcoin can offer.
  • It’s being used for crime. Many scammers are using the identity of popular celebrities or personalities to mislead others. Some fans of the artists are being victimized because they don’t know that accounts used for solicitation are fake ones.

Ethereum

Ethereum allows people to create dApps, tokens, and even smart contracts.

Pros

  • People who use Ethereum-built dApps will constantly require Ether.
    They’ll need it for the transaction fees as dApps run on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • There are newer projects on Ethereum.
    Arcade City, an app for P2P ride sharing where drivers and users are matched together, is being built now under Ether. An application, just like torrent, a file-sharing software called IPFS, will be launching soon. Ujo Music, a decentralized music platform where artists are being paid directly is also under construction. More projects concerning Ethereum will come soon and crypto fans shall stay tuned.
  • Speed. It only takes a couple of seconds to complete a transaction process in Ethereum. That is in contrast to Bitcoin which takes a minimum of 10 minutes.

Cons

  • Ether coins supply is greater than Bitcoin.
    This means that the scarcity for ETH is far from reality due to the fact that there’s a huge availability of the coins compared to Bitcoin.

Ripple

Ripple makes bank payments quicker which is why it’s considered as the banker’s coin.

Pros

  • Well-known companies have confidence in Ripple. There are financial organizations that have developed a partnership with Ripple. This is why it can be considered as a better alternative for you in the finance world. Gaining trust from the government, it has already manifested its power and influence.

Cons

  • Ripple is not decentralized. Ripple Labs, the company behind it, owns the majority of the tokens (XRP). They have power over it and if ever they want to, they have the power to sell all the tokens they have. This will definitely send the price down.

Litecoin

The blockchain for Litecoin was once a part of the Bitcoin blockchain. It split up when the update of Litecoin came. It has similarities with Bitcoin but Litecoin has distinct features.

It’s the first cryptocurrency to utilize the Lightning Network. It fixes issues concerning cryptocurrencies like scalability. It can process a lot of transactions in a matter of seconds.

Pros

  • Much faster and costs less than Bitcoin. Litecoin transactions only take seconds, just like Ethereum.

Cons

  • It’s only slightly better than Bitcoin. Litecoin won’t be that useful if Bitcoin improves into cheaper and faster transactions.

Lastly, taking the time to get a better understanding of cryptocurrencies is one way to know what you can get and what you can risk from using them.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

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How to Finance A Startup Business

After telling your boss to go to – well, you know where – and coming home to explain to your wife what you had just done, you sat in your man cave and processed both reactions: your boss was shocked and your wife was seriously mad.

You’ve got this, so you assured her. But, is that really the case?

Yes, you have a wonderful business idea that will surely take off, but she brought up a very important point:

How are you going to finance it?

Don’t fret as we share with you the best tips on financing your business.

Business Investors

business inventors People invest in businesses every day when they purchase stocks, but you aren’t ready for your initial public offering just yet. You need somebody who is willing to put his or her money into your idea, which is an entirely different beast.

Your first step is to write a business plan that details your idea. You will be asking people to give up their cash, so you must keep this in mind when you write your plan. Think back to your business courses in college.

You likely learned that there are many sections of a business plan and all are important. You must include an executive summary first that briefly encapsulates all aspects of your vision. Next is your company description which should include your corporate set up and business goals.

After that, describe in detail your product and/or services and how they will make money. The fourth section is your marketing analysis. Section five should explain your business startup and growth strategy and how you plan to implement it. Sections six and seven, meanwhile, are your management and financial structures, respectively.

Investor options include angel investors, crowd funders, and – believe it or not – your competition.

Angel investors are wealthy people willing to put their own money into business ventures. Some will put a ton of cash into a new venture while others will invest just a tiny sum. You can have one or many angel investors banding together and forming a group.

Angel investors do more than just give you moolah; they can also take a stake in your company which means they will expect investment returns. Many will take a management role, too. They can give you crucial advice while you’re still starting out.

Crowd Funders

For the independent entrepreneur who doesn’t want anyone else involved in managing his startup, crowd funders are another option. It leaves you 100% in charge.

Just like GoFundMe, there are a lot of available online crowdfunding websites for businesses. You will need to find a website the best one that can help you raise money. Remember to be realistic about this financing option.

While there are success stories about people reaching their funding goals, they don’t mean you’ll surely experience the same thing. For you to be successful, your plan must be full proof and others must become impassioned by your idea.

The benefit is this money is yours to keep with no strings attached. This is another reason why so many business startups try crowdfunding.

It doesn’t hurt to try. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you may still receive donations which you can use for your startup and for networking with others in your niche. This can bring you to investment by your competitors.

That isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. Many people in your industry might be interested in giving you a helping hand. Competition is healthy and when you’re on your feet, you can divest out and be on your own. Don’t forget about microloans and grants, either.

Growing Your Entity

Once you are up, running, and turning a profit, think about venture capital to grow your business to greater heights. Venture capitalists are people who invest in existing entities to give them the boost they need to reach their next plateau and then go beyond it.

Many people think that venture capitalists only invest in technology companies, but this isn’t the case.

Many businesses receive funding from VCs, as they’re called, including biotechnology and other science companies, food service, retail, and beyond. Companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Uber have taken advantage of VC financing in the past, too. amazonChris Sacca is one venture capitalist who helped put Instagram and Twitter (among others) on the map. Born in Lockport, New York, Sacca founded Lowercase Capital which has had its hand in financing and managing numerous businesses.

Experts in business growth, Sacca and his team helped owners design and implement growth plans. And when you look at Sacca’s record, you’ll realize VC is a wonderful tool once you’re established. It’s full of visions which are usually successful.

Your wife will calm down eventually and you don’t ever need to worry about your boss again. In the meantime, write a comprehensive business plan and seek out the money you need to get your venture off the ground. There are plenty of financing options available whether you are just starting out or planning your growth. So, keep your mind open and good luck to you!

See Also: Tips for New Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know Before Starting A Business

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5 Tips for Creating A Wedding Budget

Are you nearing your wedding day and still have not figured out the best ways in creating a wedding budget? If yes, then you have to be smart while planning your budget and just go for the essentials that will not force you to break your bank.

If you are curious to know what those ways are, check out the following amazing tips you can start using now.

Make Your Reception Private Yet Grand

One of the most common things that bother couples the most during their wedding planning is the guest list.

Cut down the guest list and only include your close friends and relatives. That way, you won’t have to spend too much on your reception.

Also, watch out for off-peak seasons as that can help you save more. Don’t forget to consider holding your wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue, too.

Focus on Greenery More than Flowers

wedding budget

Although most people will go for flowers, choosing for greenery instead will give you a great chance to create a reasonable budget. This does not mean you have to completely eliminate flowers from your list. You just need to focus more on non-floral elements.

If you are adamant about flowers, then make sure you invest in floral products that are in season and comes at a discounted price.

See Also: Make Your Celebratory Table Special With Minimum Effort

Wedding Bands

wedding bands

This one is an important consideration, especially if you are on the bride’s side. A wedding band is mostly the only jewelry that a groom will wear throughout his life.

To make things easier for you, shop for wedding bands online from credible sources and get wedding bands at great prices. Also, make sure to research on certain metals before purchasing the wedding ring.

For instance, if you cannot afford to buy platinum wedding rings, look for alternatives.  Palladium, for example, offers the same luxurious feel yet it comes at a budget-friendly price.

Opt for the Services of a Budding Music Group

Needless to say, music is an integral part of any and all traditional wedding. It helps create the right ambiance and mood for the guests and the couple.

Resist your urge to book a live band at your wedding event. Instead, find amateur music groups with refreshing and untapped music talents. Conduct a short audition or ask for their videos to examine how well they can set everyone’s mood at the event.

Consider Web Designers for Printing Invitations

In case you are unable to stretch your budget to get a professional wedding invitation designer, look for web designers who know how to design and print wedding invitations.

You can also buy software packages that provide classic layouts and creative graphics along with fun fonts for making your invitation card stand out.

Final Thoughts

Creating a wedding budget is now easy with the aforementioned tips. They are a great help for making things smooth for couples who want to save their funds for the future. Cut all the unnecessary costs by adhering to these tips and have a budget-friendly yet great wedding.

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The Definitive Guide To Cryptocurrencies

There’s a lot of information out there about cryptocurrencies. However, for the vast majority of people understanding what they are and how to use them remains a mystery.

Most people think that Bitcoin is the only type of cryptocurrency and that it only applies to illegal activities. In reality, that’s nowhere near the truth.

To enlighten you, here’s a handy cryptocurrency guide you can use.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency built on blockchain technology. Blockchain technology uses a public ledger to record transactions and each transaction bears the insignia of the previous transaction. This ensures continuity.

Decentralization prevents single point data breaches since all transactions occur across the network. Instead of being government issued like a fiat currency, it is built on a zero trust model by private individuals for various reasons.

Everything is on a public ledger. That way, any attempt to tamper will be obvious. Using it is just like any other currency. Even big companies like Overstock, Microsoft, and Expedia accept payments in Bitcoin, making it one of the most prevalent and widely known cryptocurrencies.

Buying And Selling Cryptocurrency

Depending on how you want to use your cryptocurrency, you have different options for how to buy and store it.

If you want to use it just like cash to buy and sell things online, you can use something as simple as the Cash App by Square. It allows you to trade your dollars and make payments using Bitcoin. If you want to buy cryptocurrency as an investment, you will need to find the right exchange for you.

Choosing an exchange can be as simple as picking the one available in your country. You can also choose based on maker and taker fees, security breaches, and more. Most importantly, if you’re planning to sit on your cryptocurrency for a while, make sure you are storing it in a cold wallet offline to prevent theft.

Getting started on cryptocurrency exchanges is the first step toward making full use of the cryptocurrency boom.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Trading for Beginners: How Can You Get Started?

Types of Wallets Available

When buying cryptocurrency, you have to choose the right wallet depending on your purpose. Your options include:

  • Desktop Wallet – All of your cryptocurrencies are available through one computer only.
  • Online & Mobile Wallet – All of your cryptocurrencies live on the Cloud for ease of use.
  • Hardware Wallet – All of your cryptocurrencies live on a single piece of hardware, like a thumb drive.
  • Paper Wallet – All of your cryptocurrencies live on a piece of paper you print out.

Who Are The Major Players In Cryptocurrency Right Now?

the winklevoss twins

There may be some people you have heard of and lots of people you have never heard of making their fortunes in cryptocurrency.

Remember the Winklevoss twins?

They were famous for their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, alleging he stole the idea of Facebook from them. After they won $65 million in their lawsuit, they invested $11 million in Bitcoin back in 2013. Today, that’s worth over $1 billion.

In 2015, they created the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and they have also applied for and been denied the ability to sell a Bitcoin-based ETF. They became Bitcoin’s first billionaires in 2017.

Eddy Zillan is hardly a household name but the Ohio teen has become quite wealthy. He has invested his life’s savings in cryptocurrencies.

When he was 15 years old, he started investing his savings from teaching tennis lessons into cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. He started with a $100 investment and quickly scaled up to everything he had – some $12,000.

Within a year, his portfolio was over $350,000. He’s now a cryptocurrency consultant and has earned over $1 million in cryptocurrency markets since he first got his start.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

Is It Ok To Own Bitcoin?

There is a lot of confusion about whether owning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is legal. Currently, it is not illegal to own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the United States. Many other countries, however, have outlawed it.

If you are ready to take the plunge, figure out your objective, find your best exchange, choose a storage system, and get going. Learn more about the basics of cryptocurrency from this infographic.
Guide to Cryptocurrency
Source: Best Accounting Schools

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4 Ways You Can Make Money Online By Selling Old Stuff

Yard sales are one of the most famous ways to sell your old stuff, but it is one of the most excruciating parts of selling anything. Nowadays, several online platforms have made it super easy for you to sell old stuff and make a quick buck.

There are a few methods that I’ve tried personally and would like to share with you all so that you can get rid of your clutter in a really beneficial way. I’ve been selling old stuff online for one year, and all I need was a reliable internet connection to actually keep a check on customers. I’ve been using Mediacom internet service as it is one of the most reliable and high-speed internets. I’d like to discuss some of the ways to earn quick money by just selling your old stuff.

Use Social Media:

social media

Are you new to these selling websites and don’t like to negotiate with strangers? You don’t need to worry about that as social media has got you covered. This would be the most effective way to sell your old items. Just post a picture of your stuff online on social platforms with a clear description of item and price. Your pictures might attract your friends and acquaintances to actually buy those items from you. It would save you from the hassle of negotiating with strangers and to go and deliver the products.

eBay:

ebay

One just can’t resist from discussing eBay when it comes to selling any stuff online. We all know that it’s one of the most efficient and effective ways to sell your stuff. The good thing about eBay for sellers is its really easy process: create an account, list your items, Upload a clear picture, and you’re good to go.

But it’s the preferred platform if you’re selling high-end products and products of high-involvement because of its huge customer market. eBay charges around $.30 as listing fee and it would also charge 10% of the sale price on an item.

Craigslist:

craigslist
Via diapmedia

Another option to consider, if you’re planning on bargaining any stuff that might be of use to someone else or just simply selling your old stuff, then there’s Craigslist for you. It provides a free platform for people to sell their stuff. All you need to do to get most out of it is: post a clear picture of your item, it’s preferred to set a deadline so that potential buyers would opt to negotiate early, be genuine about a product you intend to sell, lot your items together to get rid of them quickly.

Amazon:

amazon

 

It is not only a giant when it comes to buying anything. Amazon also provides with opportunities to sell anything. Have you ever heard of Amazon’s fulfillment program? What it does is that it gives sellers a chance to put their used items right next to new versions of the same products. If buyers are interested in saving a few dollars then they would definitely opt for your used stuff.

The post 4 Ways You Can Make Money Online By Selling Old Stuff appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt Fast

Credit cards come with a sense of power. There is nothing you cannot buy using that piece of plastic. With its power, however, comes the illusion that you can easily buy everything.

Because of that, more and more people are finding themselves drowning in credit card bills. And the less they are able to pay those bills, the more their finances suffer.

The average American household has a credit card debt of around $4,400 as of the first quarter of 2018. Each family has an average of 3 cards from various service providers.

That is an alarming piece of stat and it shows why the total credit card debt of America has risen to a staggering $1 trillion in the recent times.

In 2017, credit card debt reached its highest possible level ever due to increasing interest rates, increasing prices of commodities and services, and the habit of spenders to use their cards indiscriminately for every payment.

How can you manage your multiple credit card payments?

multiple credit card payments

If you find yourself spiraling, you can always take the help of credit card debt consolidation loans. This will reduce the number of payments you make each month.

In case you are wondering how to get out of credit card debt fast, here’s what you should do

  • Get your FICO credit report. This will give you a detailed update on your credit score.
  • Find a non-profit service that offers credit card debt counseling exclusively for personal users.
  • Look for debt consolidation loans that can cover your credit card bills in the future at a much lower cost.
  • Do not cancel your credit cards or stop using them. Regularly using your card is one way to build your FICO score. Just use them sparingly to pay your electricity bills, medical bills, grocery bills, and fuel expenses.

What are two alternatives to debt consolidation loans?

Debt snowballing and debt avalanche are other ways that can help you pay off your credit card bills. Although they are distinct debt payment procedures, they are quite alike in that both of them need you to pay off the minimum on all your credit card debts except one.

Debt snowballing

According to this method, you start with the smallest balance and progress towards the largest one during the time of payment. This process is independent of the interest rates on each debt. So, just grab the credit card with the least debt and start by paying that off.

Debt avalanche

This one goes through debt payments in the absolute opposite direction. You start with the largest payment and move to the smallest gradually. Economically, this makes sense since you will pay less in interest if you follow this order of payment.

Why can debt snowballing and debt avalanche be bad for your financial health?

multiple credit card

In reality, both methods can be debilitating for your credit score. Meeting the minimum payment requirements for your credit cards is not such a great idea. Debt snowballing and debt avalanche might work with invoice factoring and payday loans that do not have any direct links to your FICO score.

These two processes are not effective when:

  • You need to pay off large amounts over a long period.
  • A balance transfer is not an option.
  • You can easily qualify for a good and sensible consolidation loan.
  • Your new loan comes at a significantly lower rate.

For credit card debts, always paying the best you can towards the company charging the highest interest is the better idea. A debt consolidation loan can help with a new loan at a much lower interest and better APR to pay off your outstanding credit card bills.

If you think you cannot manage a large amount of money and pay the credit card companies off on time, you should seek the help of a debt consolidation program as well. Several new and approved credit card debt consolidation programs and debt consolidation companies focus on the needs of individual credit card holders.

What should compulsive credit card users know about debt consolidation loans?

The new loan will make the payment periods a lot better and manageable. However, without a proper check on your spending habit, you will fall right back into the quicksand of payment and surmounting bills.

Start by setting a maximum spending limit on each card. Find out the minimum compulsory expense on each card that you need to meet in order to rebuild your credit score.

Each month, cut down on expenses. For example, switch from a luxury brand of soap to a store brand for the time being. You might smell less than awesome but your finances will feel amazing!

Download a holistic monthly budget template so you can chart your monthly income, expense, overheads, and penalties. This will help you make sense of the top priority payments and cut the unwanted expenses weighing your finances down.

The kind of loan and debt consolidation loan company you pick can make all the difference in your finances. Always remember that your credit card debt is already unsecured. You do not want to convert that to a secured debt at any cost. Always stick to an unsecured debt as long as you can.

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Cryptocurrency Trading for Beginners: How Can You Get Started?

Cryptocurrency has been a hot topic lately and a lot of people are getting interested in cryptocurrency trading for beginners.

Now, how do you even go about buying it?

Much like stocks, many cryptocurrencies are also traded on exchanges. You input your preferred fiat currency and use that capital to buy, sell or trade various forms of cryptocurrency.

You can either own a coin directly or you can trade in a contract for difference, owning a position with a broker. You’ll have to choose based on things like security of the trading platform, how currency is stored once purchased, which fiat currency you can input, currency input methods, and more.

Cryptocurrency Exchanges Options

  • Binance – Only supports crypto-to-crypto exchanges and does not accept any form of fiat currency into the system. Very low maker and taker fees and no reported security issues.
  • GDAX – Owned by Coinbase but aimed at professional clients. Accepts U.S. dollars, British Pounds, and Euros through bank transfers as well as cryptocurrencies. No maker fees and moderate taker fees and no reported security breaches.
  • Bitstamp – A great platform for European investors, it does not charge for conversion of fiat currency when Euros are deposited through SEPA. U.S. dollars are also accepted with a fee. There are moderate maker and taker fees and there was a major hack in 2015 that lost $5 million worth of cryptocurrency through hot wallets.
  • Kraken – Probably the most versatile exchange in terms of fiat currencies accepted and with no security issues and moderate maker and taker fees. It’s a great option for international users.
  • Bitfinex – This is a popular exchange for American and European traders due to high liquidity of assets. However, there was a serious security breach in 2016 that cost investors $65 million.
  • Bittrex – This is an exchange with a solid security record that is great for beginner investors. Only cryptocurrency is accepted into the exchange and there are moderate maker and taker fees.
  • Bithumb – Based in South Korea, this exchange has low maker and taker fees but recently experienced a massive data breach.
  • Gemini – Founded by the Winklevoss twins who rose to fame in their lawsuit alleging that Mark Zuckerberg stole Facebook from them.  There are moderate maker and taker fees but no security issues at this time.

Best Investment Strategies For Cryptocurrency

cryptocurrency

Just like investing in stocks, investing in cryptocurrency requires a sound investment strategy. Diversify your portfolio by investing in more than one cryptocurrency or ICO. That way, you’re able to protect your funds when volatility strikes.

Remember to invest slowly and incrementally, too.

Don’t panic when volatility strikes and pull your investment out while it is low. And most importantly, don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose.

There are also three types of orders you can use to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

A market order allows you to buy and sell at whatever the market is when you place the order. It is the most susceptible to slippage.

Less susceptible to slippage is a stop order. It allows you to set conditions on buying and selling.

The only way to avoid slippage, however, is to use a limit order. It allows you to set the price at which you are willing to buy or sell your cryptocurrency.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

All Investments Come With Risk

Investing can be scary, but a little bit of knowledge and preparation can help you make the best decisions possible. Many of the strategies are the same as mainstream investing strategies.

Learn more about cryptocurrency investing options and cryptocurrency exchange platforms from this infographic. Are you ready to dive into crypto?

Top Crypto Exchanges for 2018

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Creating A Car Budget: 7 Things You Can Give Up For That Brand New Car

Getting a new car is way cheaper than you think. In fact, buying a car on finance can even be less expensive than the monthly cost of a fancy new iPhone, broadband contract or your gym membership!

So, ready to hit the open road?

Here’s how to set your car budget by giving up some of your unnecessary expenses.

Cut: Daily coffee fix
Get: Honda Jazz

daily caffeine fix

It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a latte on your way to work every day, especially when every other store is a coffee house. But do you really want that expensive coffee or is it simply a force of habit?

The average American spends a whopping $1,100 a year or $91 a month on coffee. Forgo the daily coffee spend and make your own at home instead and you could easily afford to buy a Honda Jazz with those savings. It’s perfect for zooming around the city.

See Also: Top Tips In Buying A Car With Your Significant Other

Cut: Apple iPhone X 64GB
Get: Toyota Aygo

The new Apple iPhone created a buzz as soon as it was released. Unfortunately, the buzz subsided once consumers saw the monthly contract prices that come with the phone- an eye-watering $157 a month!

If you don’t really need the latest smartphone and all its associated tech, why not go for a lesser and cheaper model. Do so and you could afford to buy a Toyota Aygo!

Cut: Monthly nights out
Get: Seat Ibiza

A night out in a big city costs around $83 a pop by the time you’ve bought drinks, paid entry, and possibly had a late-night snack. To sum that up, that’s about $332 a month.

Do yourself a favor by giving up a few big nights out. You won’t only enjoy more hangover-free mornings (which your head will love you for) but you’ll also be able to treat yourself to a Seat Ibiza instead.

Cut: Takeout food
Get: Peugeot 108

pizza takeout

Leading a busy life means it’s tempting to call in a takeout after a hard day at work. And the rise of fast-food ordering apps means you can order a pizza in a matter of moments.

But at a monthly cost of $153, takeaways don’t come cheap. Do your waistline and your wallet a favor and ditch them. That way, you can drive away in a gorgeous Peugeot 108 instead.

Cut: Cigarettes
Get: Audi A1

Smoking your way through a 20-pack cigarette costs a staggering $447 a month. Not only is it a painfully expensive habit, it is also proven terrible for your health. Why spend that much money on something so bad for you when you could put that money towards a set of wheels instead?

Forget your cigarettes and you’ll start to look, feel, and smell better in days. You can treat yourself to an Audi A1 as a reward.

Cut: Luxury subscription services
Get: Toyota Previa

Luxury subscription box services where you get, for example, some tasty organic food delivered to your door a few times a month are super trendy right now. They’re also expensive, costing around $86 a month.

If you find that most of the food usually ends up left uneaten, your subscription might not be all that worth it. Cut it out and you could afford to make monthly payments for a Toyota Previa.

Cut: Date night
Get: Vauxhall Corsa

Now, we’re not for a minute suggesting you shouldn’t go on dates. But if you’re willing to go on one less a month, you’d be saving yourself a sizeable $104. That’s enough to buy a Vauxhall Corsa! Log off Tinder and get behind the wheel instead. Dating is overrated anyway, right?

By cutting out some of your non-essential expenses, you can easily create your car budget. If you are still in doubt how to start, you can use a car finance calculator to find out which vehicles will suit your budget.

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Six Ways Brexit Could Affect Global Finances

With the UK still locked in negotiations with the 27 member states of the EU following the country’s decision to leave the Union, a great deal of uncertainty still remains about what form a post-Brexit world will take. At the moment, even the negotiating position is open to debate with the country’s MPs split on what the best approach should be.

Although the direction Brexit is taking is still uncertain, there is no denying that it is going to influence more than the UK or the EU’s finances.

Let’s take a look at the likely influences of Brexit around the world, in six key areas.

Supply chains and manufacturing

brexit supply chains affected

Today’s supply chains are global, so the cost of raw materials for manufacturing may increase under new trade agreements, as well as being affected by currency exchange rates. One thing’s for sure, whichever way Brexit goes, it’s a monumental event on the world’s economic data calendar, with ramifications for more just one country. Increased customs procedures for materials entering or leaving the UK for EU countries could also slow down the supply chain, increasing costs and reducing efficiency.

Corporations

Many global corporations have their headquarters in the UK and are actively considering what this could mean for them once the country has separated from Europe. If they do decide to move to an EU country, it will obviously have financial consequences for them, not least in meeting the costs for both new premises and relocation expenses for valued staff.

Trade

brexit trade affected

The UK is actively looking to draw up new trade agreements worldwide as a hedge against any changes in the way that it trades with EU countries. One of the UK government’s key mantras has been “Britain is open for business” so it could be that many countries are in a good position to negotiate especially favourable terms to minimize tariffs for exports and imports.

Exchange rates

As was seen shortly after the Brexit referendum result was announced when the value of sterling dropped by 10% almost immediately, the pound is likely to be weaker against all of the world’s major currencies. Some hope that this may help to offset the higher tariffs that might form part of new trade agreements.

Taxes

The UK is very aware of the need to both retain the companies headquartered there and attract new ones. So, there have been suggestions that the level of corporation tax, which is currently 20%, could become as low as 15%. If this was the case then it would be one of the lowest rates of any of the world’s major economies.

Equity markets

Just as the value of sterling fell after the Brexit vote, global equity markets also showed considerable volatility. So, although nothing can be certain right now, it is expected that these will react in one way or another as more is known about the world economy after the UK has finally severed ties with the EU.

So these are interesting times not just for the UK and Europe but for the whole world. But it’s only after March 2019 that anyone will know just how interesting they are for the global economy as a whole.

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What To Look For In Health Insurance Plans for Parents

Finding the right health insurance plans for parents can be tough but when you know exactly what to look for, it can become a seamless process.

Old age brings with it ailments and health-related problems. If you aren’t prepared, it can put you under a lot of stress. It can cause problems not just with your finances but your relationship with your parents and siblings, too.

One of the best ways to be prepared is to invest in the right health insurance plan. Here are the most important factors you need to consider before purchasing one.

Entry Age

health insurance plans for parents entry age

A majority of the health insurance companies provide health insurance for senior citizens around the age of 60 to 70. If your parents have passed 60 years of age, consider getting a senior citizen health insurance policy rather than a family floater plan. There are different entry age guidelines for different policies so make sure you check in advance before signing up for one.

The Kind of Coverage Available

You need to know that the policy you buy provides extensive coverage. This ensures your aging parents are protected against various types of ailments and even pre-existing illnesses.

Make certain that you check all the terms and conditions well. This helps you understand the kind of coverage you get in a better way.

Sum Insured

The sum insured should be sufficient to cover your parents’ medical expenses. You need to take into account all your parents’ existing health issues and conditions they are at risk of.

It goes without saying that you need to go for a policy that offers the highest coverage. Stay informed about the medical inflation rate and then decide accordingly.

The Premium Amount

As a person ages, his insurance policy’s premium rate also increases. Premium rates on senior citizen insurance policies are on the higher side. This is because the risk element is comparatively high for senior citizens.

When finding the best medical insurance for parents, you need to consider all the coverage factors and go for the policy that comes with the lowest premium.

Network Hospitals that Provide Cashless Treatment

health insurance cashless transactions

When an emergency occurs, you can take advantage of your policy by seeking medical help and assistance from network hospitals. This gives you the advantage of gaining cashless treatment.

Although you can head to a non-network hospital (as your insurer would eventually cover the outstanding expense in time), you can go to an in-network hospital to obtain treatment without worrying about paying the hospital bills. See that the insurance policy you choose has a wide range of network hospitals on its list.

See Also: 7 Medical Procedures That Are Not Covered by Health Insurance

You also need to consider the renewal age which determines when you can renew the insurance policy. These factors can make choosing a systematic and trouble-free health insurance policy for parents easier.

See Also: 5 Financial Emergencies Everyone Must Be Prepared For

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How Has Trade Changed Over Time

Trading centuries ago was way different than what we’re experiencing today. It was less convenient, easy, and predictable. It took a lot of time and it came with a lot of risks.

Here, we take a look at how has trade changed over time.

Setting the scene

Post-war investment was very different to the trading opportunities of today. The Great Depression, along with two world wars, had impacted the Stock Market such that very few people owned common stock. In fact, until 1954, daily trading volumes sat below one million shares on the NYSE – a tiny fraction of what they are today.

Investing was time-consuming and investment choices were fairly restricted, thanks to the limited competition among independent stockbrokers.

With contemporary technology, trade took much longer, too. Investors had to contact their brokers to instruct a trade. After that, a ticket needs to be created before the transaction can be carried out.

Prices were also harder to come by. An investor had little choice but to contact a stockbroker for the current market price on shares.

One instrumental change that took place was the introduction of a monthly investment program by the NYSE. This enabled investors to risk smaller amounts of money.

The 1970s to the end of the 20th century

stock market 1970
Via wikiwand

While the Stock Market was experiencing slow growth during the 1970s, progress and changes in other areas were beginning to take place. Where trading had traditionally taken the form of physical stock certificates, this decade saw the rise of electronic trades, with stocks held at a central depository.

As automation and technology improved, the capacity for trading volume increased. At the time, the NYSE reported a daily trading volume of 100 million by 1982.

In 1970, the trade in derivative financial instruments increased. A number of governments initiated volatility into the markets by relaxing controls on pricing and a methodology for establishing option prices was introduced. Predicting future prices was sped up with the advancement in computing technology.

It wasn’t just the improvements in computers that helped the financial markets grow in the late 20th century.

In their 1996 publication, “Globalization Myths”, Paul Bairoch and Richard Kozul-Wright noted that the price of a three-minute phone conversation from New York to London fell by $242 over the course of the century. By 1990, a call was just $3. That’s way lower than its $245 price in the 1930s.

With cheaper telecoms available and electronic trades predominating, commissions were lower and investments could be smaller. Smaller risks were a major factor in the increase of mutual funds. With the introduction of individual retirement accounts (IRAs), more investors chose to pool their money with others’ in order to achieve financial goals.

21st-century trading

21st century trading

Today, it’s possible to make trades from the comfort of your living room, without having to employ the services of a broker or a financial advisor. The internet has proved an invaluable resource to investors, with current prices available on demand and the option of managing daily investments themselves.

Trade options have become so extensive that those who are new to investing can find the market somewhat intimidating. With the information available on the internet, new traders can easily adjust.

Compared with the 20th century, the economic sectors are vastly different. Iron, coal, and steel were a much larger part of the market before. Today, banking, pharmaceuticals, and information technology are the largest sectors.

Further differences include a rise in online brokerages, which means investors are able to pay lower commission rates, and the introduction of decimal pricing for stocks in 2001. As a result, there’s faster trading.

These developments come with an increased risk.

As the credit crunch of the late 2000s demonstrated, globalization and the close relationship between international markets can mean there is nowhere to hide when disaster strikes. An apparently small event in an overseas market can, therefore, have economic implications across the world.

Rather than being conducted through multiple regional exchanges, today’s global economy is defined in terms of financial centers. The largest of which are Tokyo, London, and New York.

Conclusion

Although investing is quicker, cheaper, and more convenient nowadays, the number and complexity of options make it more challenging. With the risk introduced by globalization, a portfolio structured for the future is more important than ever.

See Also: Trading Tips For Beginners: Are You Emotionally Ready to Trade Online?

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Trading Tips For Beginners: Are You Emotionally Ready to Trade Online?

Trading online is no child’s play. It requires guts and an unflappable will. If you are not able to control your emotions and exercise the highest level of discipline, you most probably need to change direction.

Trading online needs you to forget about your emotions and think with your head at all times. You also need to know the right trading tips for beginners to help you get started on the right track.

But why do you need to be in control of your emotions?

  • Because as a trader, everything happens on a short notice.
  • Markets can nosedive in the blink of an eye.
  • The direction can change anytime and you need to make snap decisions.
  • You do not have the time to throw even half a tantrum. You must be present and ready all the time.
  • If you look at sites that have information on online trading, such as social trading platforms, you will see why you cannot afford to slack.

Are you afraid?

Without a doubt you are.

However, that doesn’t mean you should hurl your computer against the wall and just walk out. Instead, take a deep breath and take stock. Sometimes, the stress can be too intense that the urge to punch something can almost take over.

The one thing you should avoid when the fear sets in is overreacting. This may feel like the right time to liquidate everything, but hold on. As earlier mentioned, tides can turn really fast and selling off your holdings can cause you to miss out on very good gains.

Reign in the fear

Face it head-on and see it for what it is. Take the time to assess your fears and the things that are causing them.

Additionally, it helps if you can cover all bases before placing trades. Ensuring that all loopholes are sealed may not guarantee you a win, but it will set your mind at ease. Fear, when well-managed, can turn into your greatest asset.

Greed is a sign of emotional immaturity

Sometimes, there is the compulsion to latch onto what seems to be the winner at the time. There is also the temptation to risk more when you have experienced some great gains.

Those are things you need to know how to control. If you are in tune with whatever is driving you, you might recognize greed and probably do something about it before it leads to your downfall.

Your business decisions should not be made on a whim. They should be carefully planned and executed.

Follow the rules

There are trading rules that you should take seriously. If you find yourself taking shortcuts, you are definitely not emotionally mature.

There must be limits governing your trading activities to cushion you from monetary disaster. Some of the rules that you may need to formulate are:

  • When to quit
  • When to stop a loss
  • A limit on how much money you can place on a trade
  • The limit on how much you can rake in or lose every day

These are just a few of the rules you need to come up with. They are important in regulating your trading activities so that you do not go overboard.

Have a plan

learn how to trade

Have a plan that you can justify and own. A few pointers to how to come up with a plan include:

  • Know the market that you are most interested in trading in.
  • Attend seminars and workshops on trading.
  • Spend a lot of time on research.
  • Learn all you can about how the market operates. This is one surefire way of managing fear.
  • Get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Try new things but do not stray for too long.
  • Every once in a while, evaluate your progress. It gives you an amazing boost to see how far you have come.

While is important that you see the whole picture before taking the plunge, remember to do the following:

  1. Follow rules
  2. Plan
  3. Research
  4. Get experience

Emotional maturity in trading is something that you must have. Without it, the chances of committing serious errors are very real.

Try seeking the advice veteran traders. They can share their experiences with you and also help you identify the pitfalls so that you can prepare for them.

So, are you ready to trade stocks?

After learning those trading tips for beginners, you need to know what you should do next. Opening your brokerage account is one thing. Getting into the game is another.

To start with online trading, you will need:

  • Goals
  • A trading plan
  • A system that has the potential for profits
  • Rules to manage risk– Be clear about how much risk you can take and how much you can afford to lose.

All those things should be written down and studied well so you won’t feel overwhelmed. Having a well-documented plan is one way of ensuring that you are prepared.

online trading plan

See Also: Want To Start Trading? Here’s What You Need To Know

Conclusion

Emotional maturity is paramount in online trading. You need to be sure that you’re prepared and ready to make decisions when and where they matter.

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Personal Line of Credit: From Basics to Benefits

Even in a fluctuating financial market, you can always find a way to avail credit and access funds. The catch lies in choosing the right lender or financial product. If you are looking for a relatively flexible option with a lower interest rate, consider a personal line of credit.

What is a Personal Line of Credit?

A personal line of credit allows the borrower to use only the money he/she needs. Its variable rate of interest is typically lower than the interest rates on fixed loans.

While the lender approves your entire loan amount at once, the borrower only pays interest on the amount transferred for use. A personal line of credit lets you maintain a maximum loan balance account and gives you instant access to funds. This is a continuous revolving credit account and includes a maximum borrowing limit.

The credit limit will depend on the CIBIL score, which reflects the borrower’s creditworthiness. It’s based on his income and credit history. As the borrower repays a part of the amount, the interest is then charged on the remaining balance, which keeps reducing every month.

Personal Loan vs. Personal Line of Credit

personal line of credit loan

A personal loan provides the borrower access to a fixed amount of cash for a predefined period where the repayment timeline remains fixed and pre-payment attracts an additional fee.

A personal line of credit, on the other hand, is available for use at any time. Its interest is not charged on the entire amount allocated to you. In a personal loan, the lump sum amount is disbursed to the borrower for one-time use and the interest is charged on the entire amount, regardless of the amount used.

Another major difference between a loan and a line of credit is the rate of interest.

The interest rate of a personal line of credit is generally higher than a personal loan. Yet, if you compare the closing costs of both, a personal line of credit would prove to be an affordable option. A personal line of credit is flexible, open-ended, and can be used for any purpose.

Interest Rates and Processing Fees

Banks and non-banking financial businesses are now offering financial products with the benefits of a personal credit line.

The generic charges and fees of such funds typically include:

Activation Fees – This is a one-time joining fee that lending institutions charge at the time of approving a personal line of credit or on withdrawal of funds.

Interest Rates – A line of credit has a variable rate of interest that depends on the borrowers’ CIBIL score and typically ranges between 16-25% annually.

Processing Fees – The lender may charge an annual maintenance fee of 1 to 2% of the approved amount. Certain lenders don’t charge an annual fee, but they do charge a processing fee every time the borrower withdraws money.

Applicable Taxes – Government taxes are levied on a personal line of credit wherever applicable and they include the interest rate.

Who Should Leverage a Line of Credit and When

Having a line of credit helps when you don’t need a fixed amount. It’s also useful when your monetary needs are spread over a timeline of a few months. It proves beneficial in case of medical emergencies, home improvement, vacation or a family wedding where you can never be certain of the amount you would need.

Both self-employed individuals and professionals who do not have a fixed income can benefit greatly with a line of credit. Borrowers can instantly access cash through the ATM, mobile banking or checkbook and get the needed amount any time, anywhere.

atm machine

The Benefits of Using a Personal Line of Credit

Fast and Flexible– Borrowers can tap into funds as and when the need arises with a personal line of credit. While they have access to a large credit amount, they also have the freedom to use only what they need and pay interest on that amount only. Also, the repayment terms are relatively flexible for both part and lump sum payments.

Affordable– Since borrowers don’t need to pay interest on the entire amount that is disbursed, the cost is reduced significantly if the funds aren’t utilized completely.

No Charges on Withdrawal– Generally, there are no charges for withdrawing money.

Higher Limits– A personal line of credit usually comes with a higher limit as compared to personal loans and credit cards. This makes it a perfect solution for funding large expenses.

No Collateral Required– A personal line of credit needs no collateral backing. Even if you don’t have any financial reserve, you can make use of a line of credit.

The Limitations

Fluctuating Interest Rates– Being an unsecured product, the interest rates of a personal credit line keep fluctuating as bank interest rates go up and down. Borrowers may end up paying much more than what they had expected.

Revolving Account– This means that borrowers need to keep track of the amount due.

Stringent Approval– A personal line of credit is approved on the basis of the borrower’s CIBIL score. Those with a poor credit history may not be able to take advantage of it.

Maintenance Cost– Some banks and NBFCs levy closing costs or maintenance charges on a personal line of credit.

No Tax Deductions– The interest charged on a personal line of credit is not tax-deductible. A line of credit is a flexible instrument fulfilling the dreams of many professionals today. So, if you are planning to make the most of this financial product, make sure you are well-informed with the right knowledge.

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How to Reduce Expenses When You Live In An Expensive City

Living in a high-cost area has its perks. There’s a lot of high paying jobs, which means you have a lot more opportunity to earn. And since things can cost more, you’re less likely to consume them. This translates to lower living standards. Of course, those ideas don’t apply to everyone and not all people can live well in an expensive city. Whether you’re looking to pinch pennies or you’re struggling to make ends meet, here are some tips on how to reduce expenses when you live in a high-cost area.

Saving on your housing

rental sharing Of course, your rent will be one of your highest bills. If you live in a city like New York City, expect the average rental rate to be around $3,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. While this number is nothing to sneeze at, you can bring this cost down by doing the following:

  • Renting with friends or a co-worker- Consider finding a roommate to slash your rent by 50%. You can ask your friends or co-workers. If you can’t find one, try Craigslist or post on your local Facebook marketplace. Just be sure to screen for your security.
  • Avoid the flashy areas– In most large cities, the rental opportunities are endless. And since they are in-demand, they are likely to cost more. Try to avoid those “flashy” areas and try to find a place that’s a few blocks away.

Saving on transportation costs

Transportation is a cost that can easily exceed $8,600 annually. The costs are derived from car payments, insurance, interest, repair costs, maintenance costs, gas, auto club fees, and more. When residing in an expensive city, the amount you pay out of pocket can increase every 6 to 8 months depending on the size of your vehicle and the length of your commute. The following are a handful of tips that can assist you in cutting or eliminating this (non-essential) expense:

  • Carpool/Ride-share– This option allows you to decrease the wear and tear and fuel costs of your vehicle. The cost of ride-sharing (Lyft, Uber, ZipCar) is a mere fraction of the cost of owning a vehicle of your own.
  • Utilize public Transportation– If you are in an area where public transportation is available, use it. It’s far less expensive than driving a vehicle around town.

Start decreasing your debt

You can decrease your monthly expenses by reducing or eliminating revolving debt. As you pay off your debts, you’ll receive fewer monthly bills and you’ll have more money to save. The following will show you a few ways to reduce debt and increase your savings:

  • Use balance transfers– If a debt that you’re currently paying is attached to a high-interest rate, consider utilizing a balance transfer. It offers perks, like an 18-month APR of 0%. You can also try rewards programs but be certain to factor in all transfer fees. It is also best to pay the transferred balance during the introductory period (if plausible).
  • Refinance– Contact your auto and homeowner insurance company and see if you qualify for a lower interest rate. A reduced rate can save you money over the life of your loan and this can make living in a high-cost area more affordable.
  • Consolidate loans– Consolidation can provide you with a lower interest rate and a greater chance to pay off the loan quicker.
  • Reduce credit card rates – You may be able to negotiate with your credit card company to reduce your current rate/s.
  • Use auto debt repayment plans– This will keep you from missing payments and incurring late fees or rate increases.
  • Spring clean and purge – Go through your home and gather unused or rarely used items. Once you have gathered them, sell them. This will give you some added income, no matter how small the amount may be. You’ll also be able to free up space.

Think about decreasing your energy costs

On average, American households spend approximately $2,200 annually on energy bills. Fortunately, advances in technology are making it easier for energy expenses to be slashed. Below are some ways to decrease your monthly costs for energy:

  • Seal your home– This will prevent drafts which is a common issue with energy efficiency. The loss of heat or cool air can increase your costs.
  • Use LED or CFL bulbs– These bulb types are (on average) four times more efficient than standard incandescent light bulbs. This simple change will save you $0.66 per month and (plausibly) $40 annually.
  • Reduce the temperature of your hot water heater– 14% of your home energy cost is from your hot water heater. By reducing the temperature to between 125 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit and installing a water heater blanket, you will drastically decrease that cost.
  • Install a thermostat that is programmable– This will allow you to decrease energy use when no one is at home, saving you money throughout the month.
  • Unplug– Any electrical devices that are not in use should be unplugged. Whether on or off, they are still drawing electricity and adding to your monthly bill.

Decrease your entertainment costs

decrease entertainment cost Most people think of entertainment as dining out, heading to a movie theater or concert. Those are not your only forms of entertainment. Remember, you’re living in an expensive city so there are probably tons of low-cost entertainment options such as local museums or parks. Here are some of the things you can cut out to reduce your monthly expenses:

  • Cancel Club Memberships
  • Eliminate or reduce your cable/satellite bill– Utilize streaming services, such as Netflix or the PlayStation Vue. There’s no reason to pay $100+ per month for cable TV purposes.
  • Cancel magazine and newspaper wubscriptions– Read and view your favorites online for free.

Living in a high-cost area is doable and you can still successfully live in one if you’re smart with your money. Hopefully, by applying some of these tips, you can slash a few dollars off of your budget.

The post How to Reduce Expenses When You Live In An Expensive City appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Medical Procedures That Are Not Covered by Health Insurance

Many people apply for a health insurance in the hopes that whenever they have medical problems, it can help them cover the costs.

Health insurances are pretty expensive and they take a sizable portion of your total salary. It is really helpful as it can truly cut your health expenses down.

Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t aware that there are certain medical services not covered by insurance. Below are just some of them:

Liposuction/Weight Loss

Obesity is rampant and a number of people suffer from being overweight. This is why a lot of people undergo weight loss procedures that can cost them a lot of money.

Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with getting the procedures as long as you can pay for them. However, it’s important that you understand that they aren’t covered by your insurance so you may need to pay for them on your own.

Also, note that there are weight loss procedures that would require you to visit the doctor a couple of times and each time you visit, you’ll need to hand out cash.

Lasik Surgery

lasik surgery

If you’ve worn glasses all your life, Lasik surgery can be a godsend for you. This procedure makes use of a laser to fix your cornea and improve your vision. This is ideal for people who are suffering from astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Despite its amazing benefits, Lasik surgery can easily cost you more than $1,000 per eye. If you do not have the money to pay for the surgery, you can get a personal loan to cover the costs.

Breast Implants

A lot of women are always concerned about their figure and that is why breast implants have become quite common.

The implants and the entire operation would cost you anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000. That is pretty expensive and you might not be able to pay for it as of the time being. If that’s the case, you can request a reasonable payment plan but not all doctors will be fine with that.

Acupuncture

acupuncture

Acupuncture has a lot of health benefits. You can get this procedure to detect and even heal some of your bodily ailments.

Unfortunately, it can cost you around $100 up to $1,000 and one visit to the acupuncturist will not be enough.

See Also: How Acupuncture Can Help You Quit Smoking

Dental Procedures

Certain dental procedures are covered by your health insurance but only if they are deemed as “medically necessary”. For example, if you’ve suffered an accident where your jaw has been severely damaged, a dentist can help correct it and it should be covered by your insurance.

However, if you only plan to get dental services for the sake of cosmetics, then you may need to pay for them by yourself. This includes services like teeth and gum augmentation, braces and porcelain veneers. Prices vary depending on the dentist.

The best thing you can do is get dental procedures from a dentist who has affordable rates or you can apply for alternative funding such as personal loans or credit card line.

Infertility Treatment

Infertility is another treatment that isn’t covered by your health insurance. In vitro fertilization can cost you around $2,500 to $5,000 per cycle.

And you know what’s worse?

You’ll probably need more than one cycle.

Cosmetic Surgery

Let’s face it:

Every one of us likes to look beautiful and it’s the reason cosmetic surgeries became quite popular. Unfortunately, despite their popularity, they aren’t covered by medical insurances.

Depending on which body part you want to enhance, a cosmetic procedure can easily cost you thousands of dollars. The cost can greatly increase since you have to buy medicines for the procedures, too.

Paying For Medical Services Not Covered By Insurance

The procedures above are just some of the medical services not covered by insurance. If you are thinking of getting them, you need to be prepared as they can get costly.

So, what should you do?

Well, you can get a personal loan to pay for them. It is very easy to apply for one as long as you have a good credit score.

See Also: What To Look For In A Good Health Insurance Plan

Now, the main takeaway here is this:

If a medical procedure is purely for cosmetic purposes, there’s a good chance that it won’t be covered by your medical or health insurance.

The post 7 Medical Procedures That Are Not Covered by Health Insurance appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Is There Going To Be A Student Loan Apocalypse?

One of the scariest things that can happen is a robocall alerting you to the fact that student loan forgiveness program is on thin ice. It’s such a predictable tale of terror – people were promised a decade ago that if they made payments based on their incomes, the remainder of their debt would be wiped out in a decade.

It seems that the program is on the chopping block and people are in a panic. They entered into these agreements in good faith, executed their end of the bargain over the past decade only to see their balances increase, thanks to unfettered interest rates.

Now, they have no recourse and many will have to start the cycle all over again. Is it time to talk about student loan forgiveness?

Student Loan Forgiveness Horror Stories

Clerical errors that aren’t even your fault can keep you in debt for life if your debt is in the student loan category. The New York Times recently reported a story about an Oregon man named Jed Shafer who discovered- after eight years of his 10-year payment plan- that his loan servicing firm failed to enroll him in the program he asked to be enrolled in.

The $70,000 he’d paid in that time period had not put a dent in his loan principal balance. And he’s not the only one who spent the last decade spinning his wheels.

Even the folks in the correct repayment programs are worrying that they might not be out of the woods yet after announcements of their programs’ probable cancellation.

How Many People Are Affected By Student Loans?

The short answer is almost everyone. Even if you don’t carry a student loan balance, chances are you know someone who does.

But even if you don’t know a single person who carries a student loan balance, student loans are an invisible drag on economic recovery. Black Friday is just around the corner. It’s called Black Friday because that’s when retailers get their ledgers into the black after being in the red all year long.

But people who have a student loan debt, a debt category that is second only to mortgage debt in America, spend far less money during the Holidays than everyone else. These are people in their supposed prime earning years who should be otherwise contributing to the economy.

  • 61% say they spend less on gifts
  • 39% say they spend less on travel
  • 28% say they spend less on charitable donations
  • 28% say they spend less on Holiday gatherings

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

student loan tips

The bottom line is this:

The only way to survive student loan debt is to not get into it in the first place. Sure, there are people who dutifully made maximum payments and got out of their student loan debts by living in their parents’ basements and working two jobs.

But, for many people, especially those who find that making a living wage isn’t as easy as you were led to believe at college orientation, the payments are too big and the paychecks are too small. It may be too late for Millennials. However, younger generations should heed their warnings: no amount of student loan debt is safe.

What Needs To Be Done?

student loan crisis

If you already have student loans, don’t count on forgiveness programs to bail you out. You could end up like countless others paying minimum payments while your balance continues to grow. Pay as much as you can each month, including additional principal payments.

The key is to reduce the balance, not to wait around for someone else to do it for you. Take a second job if you have to or find an employer who will pay a portion of your student loan debt as part of your compensation package. Your future depends on it.

See Also: What Can Employers Do About The Student Loan Crisis?

If you are a student looking at schools, stop. Go to a state school or a community college. Apply for work-study programs. Do not go to a private or for-profit college or university. You don’t need it. Consider becoming an entrepreneur to fund your school expenses so that you can work your schedule around school.

The problem with student loan forgiveness is that it is a tremendous economic burden. All that debt has to go somewhere and it’s starting to look like Congress has declared a collective “not it!”. Time will tell if anything meaningful will be done about the student loan crisis. Until then, learn more about the case for student loan forgiveness from this infographic.

Source: refinancesstudentloans.net

Student Loan Forgiveness

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Client Refusing To Pay Invoice? 5 Ways To Deal With Non-Paying Clients

One downside of being an entrepreneur is clients who pay late or not at all. Small business owners are most likely to face this problem. It’s usually because they are unsure about how to pursue these clients.

Are you a small business owner tired of having your invoices ignored? These tips can help you deal with a client refusing to pay an invoice.

Contact the Client

email clients

Email your clients and remind them that you haven’t received payment. If they don’t respond within a week, then send a follow-up. The person responsible for invoices might have been out of town, had an emergency or accidentally deleted the message. You can also try contacting them via social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

However, if these methods yield no results, then it’s time to place a phone call.

Talk to the client. You may need to call every day for a month and act like an absolute pest, but hey, you need the money. Make sure to leave a voicemail each time, explaining that the invoice is past due and you want to resolve the issue. This is a good time to ask if there was a problem with the service or product you provided. If the answer is no, then they should have no problem paying.

Offer Options

Sometimes, clients put off paying their invoices because (1) the payment method is inconvenient or (2) they’re having trouble with the payment system. In this case, often all they need is a friendly person to reach out and guide them through the process. If there is a problem with the system itself, offer another way they can pay you.

The client may also put off paying their bills because they’re having financial trouble. Be flexible in this scenario by working out a payment plan (a certain amount per month over a certain time period) or requesting a good faith payment now and the rest later. When you’re understanding with your clients, they’re more likely to stick around.

Settle for Less

If worst comes to worst, you can discount the bill. They’re likely to jump at the chance to pay less for the service and you’ll get money in your pocket sooner than the alternative. You may want to avoid potential future invoicing headaches by dropping the client, though.

Hire a Collection Agency

Emails, phone calls, and reminders have gone unanswered. In this case, business to business collections is a possible solution. A professional collection agency could contact the client and attempt to get your payment. This type of agency deals exclusively with business debts.

As long as your debt is business-related, then this type of agency can be your next best option. If you’re hesitant to go that far, a warning letter from a lawyer generally elicits a speedy reply.

Small Claims Court

small claims court

Small claims court allows you to present your case directly to a judge. Some states, such as Michigan and Nebraska, don’t allow lawyers in small claims court. If you live in one of those states, then it’s mandatory for you to represent yourself. But, in most states, legal representation is an option.

The cost of hiring a lawyer for small claims court is usually not cost efficient, so most people choose to represent themselves. However, using an attorney instead of a debt collection agency can result in a quicker resolution to the outstanding debt and the preservation of your business relationship.

Each state sets its own limit for the maximum amount you can request. The limit can be anywhere from $2,000 up to $10,000. Check with your state to see if your claim is eligible. If your claim exceeds state limits, then you need to file your case in another court.

See Also: How to Sue in Small Claims Court

Moving Forward with Problem Clients

Once the client has finally made the payment, you may want to make some adjustments to how you bill them in the future. For example:

  • Ask for a pre-payment or retainer, especially for larger projects.
  • Make them sign a contract before getting started. That way, if they go AWOL, you have a more straightforward route in place to go after them.
  • Ask for payment based on project milestones rather than dates. This makes sure you’re paid in full before the project is finished.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, you’d get every invoice paid in full and on time. in reality, however, you have to take action against a non-paying client. So, don’t hesitate to ask for the money you’re owed; you’ve already earned it.

The post Client Refusing To Pay Invoice? 5 Ways To Deal With Non-Paying Clients appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Simple Yet Effective Tips To Win Online Slot Games

Who doesn’t like to win in an online casino game with a huge winning potential?

Everyone wants to do good with online slot games and earn the maximum while dreaming about what to spend their winnings on. Online slots are full of fun and excitement, even for those who are not interested in winning them. They’re one of the best pastimes and once you get on a winning streak, there’s no way you won’t develop a liking for them.

Let’s look at some of the simplest yet effective tips that can help you win big at top online casinos like EuroGrand Casino.

Understand the odds

It’s important to understand slots odds before strategizing to win. For instance, a 20-symbol 5-reel slot game has 1/3.2 million winning chance whereas a 20-symbol 3-reel slot game has 1/8,000 winning possibilities.

This is because a 5-reel slot game has comparatively more winning combinations than the 3-reel version. Hence, there’s a considerable difference in terms of odds in these types of online slot games.

Play only at reliable casinos

reliable online slot game casino

Though you may find various online casinos to play at, it’s important to sign up with a licensed one only. Look out for a casino that offers high-quality games. Make sure that you like its atmosphere and enjoy playing on its platform.

A good online casino should offer a wide range of slot games, should be fully licensed and should process withdrawals quickly. Furthermore, it should also offer other prominent online casino games, like poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, bingo and so on.

Money Management

It is very important to manage your money well while playing these online games. At times, people get so confident that they bet everything on a single spin; there’s no bigger folly than this. Please note that there is no guaranteed outcome in online slots or any other online casino games.

The game’s outcome can change anytime and cause you losses. That’s why you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Be cautious while placing your bets. Winning from a spin is just a possibility and there’s no certainty in it. There are various ways you can place your bets and use your money to play these games.

Before making any deposits, it’s important to know which would be the best currency to play online games.

See Also: Top 5 Strategies To Maximize Your Online Casino Profits

Have Fun

online slot games fun

 

You should play online slot games not just to win but to have some fun! Hence, it’s important to never take any losses to heart and stay relaxed while playing casino games. Although it’s important to pay extra attention while playing jackpots or tournaments where you’re expected to play quickly, you should never let it get to you.

Furthermore, never take your wins too seriously. These games are for your entertainment and enjoyment alone. The moment you start playing them for a livelihood, they lose their charm and lead to an unhealthy gambling behavior.

Conclusion

A lot of people play online slot games regularly. If you are one of these people, knowing and implementing the above-detailed tips can be immensely helpful in gaining an upper hand over the casinos.

The post Simple Yet Effective Tips To Win Online Slot Games appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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5 Simple Ways to Pay Off College Debt Faster

If you have a massive debt on your student loans, you’re not alone. Many people do.

The standard repayment period for student loan debt is 10 years. That means you will be spending a chunk of your monthly income to repay your student loans for a decade.

If you apply for a program based on your income, it is possible to be approved for a lower monthly amount and a longer loan term. An income-based program can help you if you’re finding it a challenge to make minimum monthly payments. Take note that it can make your monthly payments longer.

For many people, the 10-year repayment period is a long exercise in denial. Paying their monthly student loans means they may not be able to save for a house, buy a new car or take a nice vacation. We only have so much disposable income and if college debt repayment is part of your monthly budget, it can effectively eliminate most of your spending money. You’ll have a hard time gaining financial freedom.

One solution is to repay your college debt more quickly. Once you no longer have debts to repay, you’ll have money to pay for other things. It can become the seedbed for your first house, raising a family, buying a new car or traveling to Europe.

How can you pay college debt off more quickly? Here are five simple steps to consider.

Pay More Than the Monthly Minimum

This is probably the best way to pay off student loans faster.

You can pay off your student loan debt quicker than 10 years by raising the amount you pay every month. Any extra amount you can pay goes toward the principal, not the interest. Lowering the principal will decrease the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.

If you can pay $75 per month more on a $10,000 student loan with a 7 percent interest rate, for example, you can save almost $700 over the loan’s life.

Some loans do charge a penalty for prepayment, so be sure to check with your lender. It’s also a good idea to double-check that any amount above the minimum will go toward the principal. Most loans do, but you want to avoid surprises by knowing what your lender’s policies are.

Re-Evaluate Your Repayment Methods if You Have Multiple Sources of Debt

Many people simply pay whatever minimum is owed on every debt they have, whether it’s a credit card, car loan or student loan. However, there are methods to manage your debt so your overall burden is removed more quickly.

The first method is called stacking or laddering. In stacking, you sit down with every debt you have, read the paperwork, and find out what the interest rate is. Then, you prioritize the debt with the highest interest rate. The higher the rate is, of course, the more money you are paying both every month and over the loan’s life. The idea behind stacking is to reduce the debt costing you the most the fastest. It ends up costing you less.

Say you have a Visa credit card with $600 at 12%, a department store credit card with $300 at 11% and a student loan of $10,000 at 7%. If you have $20 extra per month, you’d put it toward the credit card. Once you are free of credit card debt, you then put the $20 extra toward the student loan.

The second method is called snowballing. With this, you place any extra money toward the debt with the lowest dollar amount, ignoring the interest rates. In the example given above, you’d pay your extra $20 for the $300 department store card. Once fully paid, you can add the $20 to your Visa card repayment.

The idea behind snowballing is that you can pay off smaller amounts of debt more quickly and that it provides psychological impetus to keep going.

Get a Higher-Paying Job or a Raise

One of the best ways to pay any debt faster is to increase the amount of money you earn. The more money you have coming in, the more easily you can utilize the first two methods.

One of the best ways to get a job with a higher salary is to find a high-paying career with low-cost degrees. You can be trained as a medical biller or electrician, for example, at a relatively low cost and be paid more in your first job out.

student loans

Any raise you receive in your current job can be used to raise the amount of your student loan payment. If you don’t want to put all of your raise toward a student loan payment, just allot a portion of it.

Consolidate and Refinance Your Loans

If you have student loan debts from several different providers, you may be able to pay less per month if you consolidate the loans. You need to apply for loan consolidation and a repayment plan.

If your student loans have a high-interest rate, apply for a loan consolidation with a lower interest rate. The best sources for refinancing and consolidation are often nontraditional lenders with digital platforms, such as Sofi, rather than banks. You will have to have an excellent credit score to qualify.

sofi student loan

Use Any Windfalls to Pay Down Student Debt

A windfall is any money you weren’t expecting. An aunt dies and leaves you money in her will. You get an unexpectedly high tax return. Your company gives out bonuses.

Again, any money applied to the principal reduces the amount of interest you’ll have to pay. That, in turn, lowers the amount you pay over the life of the loan. So, putting all or some of your windfall money toward student loan debt will help you pay it off more quickly.

These five methods are proven strategies for paying off your college debt faster. The faster you pay it off, the more you can spend on other things and save money for the future.

What’s the best way to pay off student loans for you?

The post 5 Simple Ways to Pay Off College Debt Faster appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Top Destinations In Europe for a Long Weekend on a Budget

Romantic break for two? Long weekend with the guys?

Europe offers so many different and interesting destinations. Whether you want to embrace your inner foodie in France, run with the bulls in Spain or traverse Italian city canals, there is something for everyone in Europe.

For those on a budget, long weekend trips can mean exciting experiences. You can get away for a few days, explore a new destination, and save more money than you would if you go on a longer holiday.

Looking to make your break as affordable as possible?

Try avoiding the main European hubs and venture a little off the beaten path. There are so many hidden gems in Europe and by choosing the right destination and going on a long weekend, getting a break doesn’t have to break the bank.

Here are the top destinations in Europe you should definitely add to your list:

For Foodies

Lyon, France

vieux lyon
Via thousandwonders

If you are looking for an alternative to the gastronomic glamour of Paris, try Lyon. Nestled in the Rhone Alps region, Lyon is hailed as the gastronomic capital of France. One of France’s oldest cities, its roots go back to the Roman period.

The city’s old town, Vieux Lyon, is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can meander through quaint passageways, cobbled streets, and stunning old world architecture. Foodies can try one of the charming ‘bouchon lyonnaises’ that serve traditional lyonnaise fare.

Take note that Paris can be notoriously overpriced, so if you are looking for the perfect base to explore the French culture and cuisine a bit deeper, then Lyon is the perfect budget destination for you.

For Culture Lovers

Toledo, Spain

toledo spain
Via toledosistercities

Just over an hour from Madrid, Toledo is a cultural center in Spain. With its ancient hills and medieval architecture, the historic city is a lively hub for history buffs and travelers. There, they can experience the buzz of the old European culture without the drama or fanfare of Spain’s capital city.

Visit the 13th Century Toledo cathedral in the center of town or the Moorish Bisagra Gate and the Sol Gate, which opens up into the old quarter. Visiting Toledo is like taking a step back in time. You’ll get an unforgettable experience to soak up distinctly Spanish culture here.

Moreover, the savings one can get when traveling to this top destination make it perfect for visitors on a budget. You can save over 66% on a weekend trip when staying in Toledo over Madrid. Fees typically include accommodation, a meal, drinks, and ground transport into the city.

For Trips with Friends

Vilnius, Lithuania

vilnius lithuania
Via cctv

For the more adventurous travelers, Vilnius is the perfect destination. It offers a little more action alongside history and culture. The walkable capital city is nestled in the heart of Lithuania and is becoming one of the more increasingly popular destinations for city breaks in Europe.

Vilnius houses the oldest medieval town in central and eastern Europe and is popular for its stunning baroque architecture. Visit the Palace of the Grand Dukes in Lithuania or the gripping Museum of Genocide victims, housed at the former headquarters of the KGB.

You can expect a little more lightness and fun in the evening as the continental town is one of the cheapest destinations for food and drink in Europe. This makes it a spirited town with a burgeoning nightlife scene, perfect for those stag-dos and weekend trips with friends.

For Romantics

Klosterneuburg, Austria

klosterneuburg austria romance

Getting away for the weekend with the one you love should never be off of your list. You can impress your partner with a romantic holiday to Austria. Although Vienna is known to be expensive, it doesn’t make Austria off limits for budget travelers.

Nearby city Klosterneuburg is only 12 miles away from the Austrian capital and has a whole lot to offer travelers who want to experience the Viennese culture without its price tag.

For starters, you can visit the huge castle built by Salian Emperor Henry IV that sits near the Danube river. You can also go see the Klosterneuburg Monastery, which is home to one of the oldest vineyards in Austria.

With such a short travel time, you can fly into the capital and find an elegant and romantic bed and breakfast out of the tourist trap, saving money on accommodation and food. This way, you get to experience the best of both worlds.

See Also: Top 10 Cheap European Car Hire Destinations

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Solar Panels For Home: Do They Make A Great Investment?

The days when solar panels used to be a rare and exotic source of energy are gone. Their popularity is growing and a lot of people are now choosing it as their main source of electricity.

Before installing this system that is supposed to lower energy bills, people are usually curious about the average efficiency of solar panels and the price. If you are one of these people, you’re probably wondering if they are really profitable and how much you can save.

Here are some of the most important facts you should know about solar panels for home.

What is the price of solar panels?

solar panels for your home

The price of solar panels might be different depending on the state you live in as well as your desired size. The more panels you need, the higher the price tags become.

The average price for solar panels is about $4 per watt. A whole system can be as big as 5 kilowatts, which means it can cost you almost $19,000. That may seem too pricey, but it is worth it in the long run.

If you fear that this price won’t fit in your budget, there are ways for you to spend less on solar panels. Government incentives, for example, can reduce the cost of solar panels.

How to Spend Less on Solar Panels?

Federal investment tax credit is a way to make the price of solar panels lower. It can also save you some money on installation. Except for a national rebate, there are also regional discounts. If you add both, the price can be reduced significantly.

For example, if you have a house in Austin, Texas and want to install a large 7-kilowatt solar panel system, it would cost about $26,000. The city’s rebate will reduce $800 per kilowatt and you will save about $6,000. Thanks to the federal tax credit, you might be able to save an additional $6,000.

All in all, you’ll probably save more than $10,000 in total. So, before installation, consider checking the government incentives you can get in your city.

How Much Money Can You Save With Solar Panels?

The main reason to install solar panels is that it allows paying less for the electricity. How much exactly can you save?

Depending on the size of your system, you can save from $150 to $200 per month. The solar system pays for itself in a period of about 7 to 15 years. It is a good result considering the fact that it can serve you for 20 to 30 years.

The competition on the market of solar panels is growing, making them more affordable. If you also use the incentives and rebates, it becomes possible to install solar panels for less than $10,000.

Is It Worth Getting Solar Panels?

home solar panels

While making a decision about solar panel installment, it is important to think not only about the cost of the system, but also about the amount of sun in your area. Both direct and scattered sunlight is good for solar panels, but there still should be enough sunny days to feel the benefits.

Before installing a solar panel system, it might be a good idea to check a specialist’s opinion and find out if your state is suitable for solar energy usage. Another crucial factor is the location of the house and the roof.

Make sure it is possible to provide panels with good exposure. Check where the roof faces, the number of trees and presence of constructions that are situated around. In case the location is not satisfying, solar panels can also be installed on a garage roof or you can use a ground-mounted system.

Solar panels installment requires a lot of time but if you pay attention to all the details it might become a great investment.

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Where a Career in Finance Can Take You

If you are looking for the perfect career option, you might be thinking about majoring in finance. However, you could be wondering what your job opportunities will look like if you do end up getting this degree. Luckily, this is a career field that has a lot of different opportunities. These are some of the potential careers in finance you can look into.

Financial Planner

financial planner

Some people need a lot of help with their personal finances. They might be having trouble meeting their financial goals or might just be looking to make the most out of the money they’ve saved and worked for. For these individuals, a financial planner can be incredibly helpful.

After majoring in finance, you can choose to help people with their personal finances by becoming a financial planner. In this job, you will help people determine how to handle their money, achieve their financial goals and plan for their future. You’ll need a broad and varied view of finances and be able to advise on a variety of financial topics.

Budget Analyst

Many businesses and non-profit organizations like to have someone who will take a second look at their budget to help determine where they can make cuts and changes. As a budget analyst, you can help these businesses and organizations to improve the way they spend their money.

Office Secretary

If you love the idea of working in an office, you might like the idea of being an office secretary. With this type of job, you will help with handling finances, but you may have to wear a lot of other hats as well. This could be a good fit for someone with a finance degree. Someone with a human resources degree or general business degree might also find this as a good job choice.

Accountant

One of the most common jobs that people with finance degrees look for is a job as an accountant. Of course, there are all sorts of different accountants.

You could choose to primarily work with individuals who need help with their taxes or you could work for a business and handle their payroll, budgeting, taxes and more. You could even open your own accounting firm and provide accounting services of various types to those who need them.

Credit Analyst

If you choose a career as a credit analyst, you will generally work within a bank or lending institution. Your job will be to take a look at the credit profiles of individuals who apply for various types of loans. After assessing their profiles, you’ll determine whether or not they qualify for the loan.

Insurance Actuary

If you choose a career as an actuary for an insurance company, your job will be to calculate risks. As you might already know, insurance companies generally base their customers’ rates by the chances of them filing a claim.

Professor

professor

If you are passionate about finance and would love to share it with others, you can always consider working as an instructor at a college or university. By teaching finance classes, you will be able to improve your own education and share your knowledge with the rest of the world.

As you can see, engaging in these careers in finance can be a wonderful thing as they can open up a lot of doors for you. If you think you might be interested in one of these careers or another career in finance, consider looking into your options for attending a school with a good finance program. After that, you can start working your way to achieving your career goals.

 

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How to Cover your Unexpected Round-the-World Travel Expenses

No matter where you go, how you go or how many days your stay will be, you can easily spend more cash than you thought you would when traveling. Unexpected travel expenses can cost you more than you would spend if you just stay at home.

Expenses for airplane tickets and hotel rooms are obvious. But, what if you end up losing your baggage? Or someone gets sick?

There are several unexpected travel expenses that can fast spike the total price of your trip to an uncomfortable height. Thankfully, there are some effective and easy ways to cover them. Below are great tips you can use when planning your next trip.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is not really common among people. But, it only takes a bad fall on your trip or a motorbike accident to make you regret your decision of not getting a travel insurance.

Policies are available for a cost as low as a night’s lodging. If you have more money, you can consider increasing your deductible and just use your insurance for real calamities.

Unplanned Upgrades

travel expense

There will be times when the train you expect to take you from one spot to another gets delayed for 12 hours. There will be times when you miss your bus and have to buy a nicer class ticket so you can stay on your schedule. In some cases, getting tour buses will be so difficult that you’ll need to spend your last $50 to buy a one-way flight back instead of waiting.

The best way to cover such unexpected travel expenses is to find reasonable offers online for cab or taxi services or get cash advance online.

Baggage problems

A lot of travelers just do not pay attention to their free checked baggage allowance once they find tickets with amazing prices. They’ll only realize the problem when they are hit with excess baggage fees.

To avoid this, always double check your airline’s website before packing your suitcase. This will keep you away from extra charges.

Lost luggage problems are a very common scenario today, too. If your baggage doesn’t show up, go to the airline counter to file a report. They may provide you a bag of essentials and ask you to share your contact details. Remember that the longer your luggage is lost, the more compensation the airline will provide. A payday loan could cover this travel problem.

See Also: Things You Didn’t Know That Occur While Traveling

Medicine and doctors

doctor consultation

When traveling, your routine changes tremendously. You’ll eat and drink a lot of new things, too. So, you have to go see your attending physician and consult him about your travel plans. If you don’t, you can end up spending tons of cash for expensive medicines, like antiseptics, sunscreen, and allergy pills.

To cover these expenses, you can pack a few medicines in your baggage. If your airline won’t allow it, look for discounts and buy extra packs whenever you see a good deal on your way. A small town without any drugstore can sell these essentials at a high price.

Lodging Fees

And finally, you should be ready for certain fees connected with lodging that are frequently hidden and unexpected for many travelers. Before signing your final payment, ensure that you have a clear understanding of how much you are going to pay for the whole stay.

Ask the hotel management to provide the list of extra payments that are not included in your stay rate. Also, be ready to cover extra charges, like open bar, internet, and room service fees.

To avoid all those inconveniences and prevent awkward situations during the arrival, include those expenses in your travel budget.

Conclusion

Every time we plan a trip, we often forget the smaller, less pressing stuff. Just keep the above-mentioned points in mind next time you are planning or saving for an overseas trip.

When taking a trip anywhere in the world, you must be prepared for unexpected travel expenses. This way, if something comes up, you won’t end up feeling stressed, frustrated and broke.

See Also: 5 Important Tips Before Traveling Overseas

 

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Bitcoin breaks $3,000 to reach new all-time high

 Bitcoin has reached a record high valuation of $3,000 per coin to complete a rollercoaster week that begin with the long-awaited split of the cryptocurrency. A number of exchanges, including popular destinations Coinbase and Kraken, valued a single bitcoin at over $3,000, an all-time high that is up $485 on the valuation one month ago. Earlier this year, Bitcoin surged to surpass $2,000 for… Read More

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How To Get Rich Quick

Money is a part of life. Whether we love it or hate it, money is a necessity. It provides food, shelter and health care. It also gives us freedom, opportunity and decision-making flexibility. In addition to those, money allows us to pursue our passions or philanthropic desires.

As much as we may wish it weren’t the case, money plays a huge role in our lives so the attainment of wealth is often on our radar.

During my own journey to wealth, I learned a few distinctions that deepened my relationship with money and allowed the idea of getting rich quick to be a real possibility. Of course, with these terms, there are qualifiers.

Getting rich quick can often refer to a scam or gamblers mentality. That’s not what I’m referring to. Becoming rich is not an event that happens to you. It’s a process that takes place over time. Whether that time period is short or long, that depends on your approach.

I became rich quickly and I was the most unlikely candidate – a high school dropout, blue-collar mechanic. I had a light bulb moment when I realized people could get rich on purpose- not by accident or luck, but by educating themselves how. If they could do it, so could I. And I did.

Let me clarify by saying nobody can tell you how you are going to achieve it. This is an entrepreneurial step and you need to take personal responsibility for it. But, yes, you can learn how to get rich quick and there’s a process you must go through.

You must change how you think about money.

The average person looks at the average income around them. They work hard to earn that because it is their obtainable reality. They believe that to gain greater wealth, you must have to work harder, be smarter or luckier. But, working hard is not a determining factor at all.

The fundamental ingredients of how to get rich quick are: believing, purpose, knowing for yourself and following through no matter what.

Believing

how to be rich

When you make the mental leap of believing that getting rich is possible, your mindset has shifted. Once you know great wealth is obtainable for you right now, THAT is the golden first step. Every person who has ever obtained wealth quickly has accomplished this belief first.

Purpose

HOW you choose to obtain your wealth is the responsibility of every entrepreneur. There are so many different types of business vehicles and you have to pick one that aligns with your passion, that excites you and that motivates you. You must be working towards a vision.

Know for yourself

Most importantly, you have to see the numbers from any venture and know for yourself that there is an opportunity for wealth. You don’t have to invent the opportunity.

I was a mechanic working crazy hours to barely make ends meet when I saw a presentation for a Network Marketing opportunity. I didn’t know the industry at all but I saw beauty in the product offering AND the business model. It ignited something in me and I knew that it deserved my time and would absolutely lift my income. I did the math and saw it for myself. A couple of years later, I was a self-made millionaire.

Following Through

how to become rich

To become rich quick, you must believe it’s possible, keep your eye on that goal, follow through and it’s yours. If you’ve already decided it’s too hard to make a lot of money or you believe you don’t have the time to invest, then you’ll never see the opportunities that are right in front of you.

The number of times I’ve seen people give up right before I know they’re about to crack is so frustrating. You must be steadfast in your focus and productivity. Otherwise, you’re not really in it to win it. Commit half-heartedly and you will achieve half-hearted results.

There’s not a right or wrong way to make money. At the beginning, I didn’t have the idea, the means or the knowledge to create a venture of my own. I just had the mind shift that I COULD and the opportunity I saw wasn’t a mass produced product with a small profit, requiring huge sales. I saw a high-value product, offering high-profit with great leverage and I made a killing.

To me, that’s a great way to make money quickly in business. It’s not the only way or right way, it is just ONE way.

With lessons I learned from that business and a fire in my belly, I later went on to create my own business venture which was valued at US $170 million in its fourth year. And again, it was based on a high value, high profit product which was loaded with leverage.

That is a great equation for a successful business that has the possibility of creating wealth quickly.

See Also: Five Steps To Turn Doing What You Love Into A Successful Business

Part of the fundamental process of getting rich quick is to understand that thoughts create things. Believe it can be, find the opportunity, do the sums, follow through and you will achieve it.

See Also: You Can’t Miss Your Boat

 

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3 Steps to Getting That BIG Raise at Work

One of the most important components of achieving long-term financial well-being is increasing your income. In most instances, this will come in the form of raises to your salary. As you gain more experience and rise up the ranks, you’ll receive compensation adjustments.

But, do you know exactly how to get a raise?

In this article, we’ll discuss how to craft a compelling ASK which you can use to maximize your salary increase. This past year I used these techniques to increase my base salary by 10%!

Look at your work situation objectively

work evaluation

To start the process, you’ll first need to sit down and objectively look at your work situation. Have you been over-delivering on your project requirements? Have you been showcasing your leadership ability?

Sit down and write a list of 5-10 things that you’ve done to add significant value to your organization. If you can’t come up with at least a few things that you’ve done to add value, you may not be ready to ask for a raise.

If this is the case, don’t be discouraged. Use the situation as a motivator to improve yourself. Reach out to your boss and ask for feedback on what you can do to improve. Once you determine your areas for improvement, begin working towards your action items. Once you come up with 5 -10 talking points, it’s time to begin crafting your compelling ASK.

Crafting your ASK

You’ve done all the hard work of delivering results, now it’s time to talk about them. When developing your ASK, it’s important to determine how much of a raise you’d like.

Do you want a 5% raise? A 10% raise?

Be sure to research what an average raise for your position looks like and determine how much you deserve based on your performance. You’ll need to be prepared to justify this amount to your employer when you’re at the negotiation table.

Next, you’ll want to begin structuring your ASK appropriately. Start by thanking your boss for his/her time and express your appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of a great organization. This will help diffuse the situation and give you an extra positive boost when you begin your negotiation.

Next, you’ll want to highlight the 5-10 items on your list that have added value to the organization. It’s extremely important that you express the VALUE you’ve provided because, in the end, that’s what your employer cares about. Use metrics and other supporting data to solidify your case.

Once you’ve explained your positive results, close out by asking your employer for your determined percentage raise. Below, I’ve given an example of what a good ASK would look like:

“Over the past 6 months, my team and I have successfully delivered on project x & y, increasing revenue by $100,000 as well as reducing customer service average wait time by 3 minutes. I plan to continue to set the bar high for myself and my team so that we can continue delivering more results like these to the organization. As a result, I feel that my compensation should be adjusted by x% to reflect my performance”.

Practice your ASK in front of people to get comfortable delivering your request. This will most likely feel awkward at first, but practice can help you gain the confidence you’ll need to deliver. Now that you’ve crafted and practiced your compelling ASK, it’s time to set up a review meeting with your employer.

The Negotiation

raise negotiation

Now that you’ve crafted a compelling ASK and practiced delivering it, it’s time to begin your negotiation. Reach out to your employer and request a time to speak with him/her. If you already have a pre-set evaluation meeting, mark it in your calendar.

On the day of the negotiation, show up dressed to impress and ready to kick some butt. When your meeting time finally arrives, thank your employer for meeting with you and sit down to begin your discussion. During the discussion, remember to highlight the VALUE that you’ve created for the organization and focus on the key metrics that you’ve delivered. Once you’ve given your pitch, ASK your employer for your desired raise.

From there, your boss will either accept or reject your proposal. If he/she accepts your proposal, congratulations! You worked hard and deserve every penny of your raise. If your boss rejects your proposal, ask if you could substitute some of your proposed extra yearly compensation with other forms of compensation, such as year-end bonuses, stock options or more vacation time.

Many employers are more lenient with this form of compensation and it may be a great option for you. If your boss still rejects the proposal, ask them if there is anything else you need to do to be considered for a raise in the future. When your boss provides you with feedback, take that feedback and implement it into your plan of attack right away. Once you’ve completed the desired items outlined in your discussion, re-engage the raise conversation.

Bringing it all together

As a high performer and excellent contributor to your organization, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your contributions. Preparing for this important interaction with your employer will not only help you achieve better results in the present, but it can also have a massive impact on your long-term financial well-being.

See Also: How Social Niceties Can Ruin Your Chances Of Getting A Promotion At Work

Pro-tip: Book Recommendation

A good book to read in this scenario is “The Greatest Salesmen in the World” by Og Mandino. Mr. Mandino delivers key selling success strategies through a parable set in ancient Babylon.

I found the timeless lessons he discussed in this book extremely compelling and I enjoyed the story he illustrated to frame these lessons. Learning the soft skills taught in this classic book will surely be of benefit to you in many life and work situations.the greatest salesman in the world

Do you have any stories or experiences of asking for a raise? Do you have any beneficial tips or strategies that you’ve utilized in a wage negotiation? I’d love to hear from you.

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