How Much Do You Pay For Your Health If You Don’t Have Insurance?

Healthcare is a major problem in most Americans lives. If you have insurance, the cost is probably more than you ever dreamed it could be. The co-pays, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses still add up to a huge burden. Even so, if you do not have insurance, you are living in a world where you pray every day that you or a member of your family does not get sick.

Penalty

First, you have to look at the penalty the government hits you with for not having coverage. If they think you can afford insurance (even if you know you can’t) then you get hit with a penalty at the end of the year for each member of your family who dared to not assume this expense. 

health insurance

The fee is 2.5% of your total household income or $695.00 per adult in the household and $347.50 per child (under 18 years of age) up to a maximum of $2085.00. Supposedly, this is roughly what the government figures it would cost you for the Bronze Plan if you had insured your family.

Medical expenses

The average cost of seeing a doctor when you are sick is $150.00 - $200.00. That is just for the office visit. Tests are extra. Tests can range from minor (blood work) $100.00 charges to thousands of dollars, depending on what tests are needed. 

If the doctor sends you to a specialist, you can expect the office visit to be at least $300.00. You can also expect a lot of tests.

If you are sick and do not have any money, you can visit health department clinics that charge fees based on your income. They are usually packed with patients and while they good doctors and nurses, you do not generally get extensive healthcare from them.

Emergency rooms

Many people who have no coverage and no money to pay a doctor, will go to the emergency room at their nearest hospital with sickness or injury that are not really an emergency. However, when your child has a high fever or you have broken your finger and there is no money to fall back on, an emergency room must treat you. They cannot turn you away. However, you can expect a bill that is sometimes 10 times more than a doctor would have cost.  

Living on Social Security or below the poverty level

If you are in one of these groups, you qualify for Medicare. It comes in 4 parts. Part A covers hospital charges (only if they keep you, not if you are treated and released).  Part B covers routine doctor's visits. Part C is also called Medicare Advantage. It is Insurance that a person can purchase through a private company for little or no cost to them. Part D covers many (but not all) prescriptions.

  • Medicare Part C policies are handled through private insurance companies. The plans are low cost and sometimes free depending on the company and plan you choose. 
  • Medicare Part C covers everything Part A & B covers and some policies have added a prescription drug coverage to the plans they offer. 
  • You are probably familiar with HMO or PPO plans. These types of plans are available to you. If you live near an area when you have a big network, these plans are usually your best option. 
How Do You Get It?

To take advantage of Medicare Part C, you must already be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B. You may not qualify with some companies (depending on their contract with the government) if you have permanent kidney failure. There are exceptions, so do not settle for a “no” too quickly. 

The time to take care of your healthcare dollars is before you get sick. Explore these options carefully and protect your family.

Why Improving Production Can Help You Increase Profits and Reduce Costs

Optimizing your business is how you increase profits. It doesn’t require costly advertising, and it doesn’t require a fancy marketing campaign. What’s better, is that optimizing your business increases your profits every quarter. Optimizing your business is better than trying to lower your costs because it ensures your customers are receiving the same quality. In fact, nothing about your company has changed, except you waste less. To improve your production so that you can increase your profits and reduce costs (without sacrificing quality) try any of these three tips: 

1. Ensure You Don’t Run Out of Stock

Not providing enough products can be as costly as providing too many. It can be very difficult to find the sweet-spot between production and demand, but finding it is key to optimizing your business. The only exception to this is if you create a forced demand. This means that your company decides to create a small-run of a product so that it naturally sells out. This increases the perceived value of the product. This is a great tactic to use for limited edition items, but can backfire for regular stock. 

Production

2. Reduce Unneeded Materials

Reducing materials doesn’t mean making your products to a substandard quality, but instead to try to find an innovative way to use the waste that your company produces. For instance, recycling any plastic that you need for your product or packaging and then reusing it for further production. This will allow you to do more with less. 

3. Help You Branch Out

Another way you can make use of the waste your industry produces is to take the waste and branch out with it. For instance, you can take your recycling waste and sell it or use it to create another product. If you are in the food industry, you can sell the unwanted parts of an animal to other companies that will either further process the food or even use it for major innovations like in medicine. There are so many ways that you can partner up and branch out so that you can increase your profits. 

4. Partner Up

Another way to improve production is to partner with other companies. For instance, when a major food processor bought Smithfield Foods, they would have been able to allocate and share resources. This means that you can share your production burden and waste so that it is not only as cheap as it can be, but also as efficient as can be.  

When you want to increase your profits, you should first consider how you can optimize your business. This is important for every business no matter how successful you are. The smarter you can use your resources, the more money you will be able to keep. Lowering costs doesn’t mean you have to reduce the quality of your items, either. Instead, focus on quality control. Find new ways to power your company, new ways to use waste, and better ways to analyze your data. Together, you’ll be able to improve your production.

You Want To Maximize The Money In Your Home, But How?

As a homeowner, you don’t always want your home to be worth a lot. More often than not, you bought it because you fell in love with it, or it suited what you needed from a family home. But at the same time, it’s nice to know that you can keep some money in your property. Because nobody likes the idea of losing value in something that they’ve spent a significant amount of money on. Especially if you are used to frugal living! But when you do decide that you want to maximize the value of your home, you don’t always know the best way to go about it. So if you want to get the most return for your money, or just keep your value as high as possible, here’s how to go about it.

house

Find Your Floor

To make sure that your home is worth as much as possible, it makes a lot of sense to find your floor first. You need to know what your home is worth now, to see how to increase it. So, you need to find a realtor that you trust and want to work with. They can provide you with an accurate valuation to get you started. That way, you’ll how much to invest to increase the value. They can also tell you want the top value for a property in your area will be, which will also aid in your investment decisions too.

Get Some Space

Once you’ve worked out the maximum amount you can spend and still increase the value, you should always consider extending or converting first. By adding on extra space in either of these ways, you can add up to 10-20% value to your home on average. More space will always improve your property, but you should only do this if you have a lot of room to move with, budget wise.

property

Upgrade The Good Stuff

Next, you’re going to want to turn your attention to the upgrades that will increase your value the most. Although there are things you may want to improve, you should be focusing on what will be most worthwhile. Two that always count include your kitchen and the bathroom. These are both areas that buyers want to be in great condition. But, again, you need to keep your spending in line with your profit margin.

Redo The Outside

From here, you’re going to want to turn your attention to the outside. Because there’s a lot you can do externally to add value. A stunning landscape, sprucing the paint, adding a garage, and generally ensuring there’s enough parking will help.

Finish Off With Simple Spruces

Although not every kind of spruce you go for will add value, you need to be ensuring that your basics are covered. Chipped paint, old and worn out flooring, and badly maintained rooms will always drag your home down. Ensuring these are kept fresh and modern will help your house to always keep its value.

5 Shopping Hacks To Get High-Quality Products At More Affordable Costs

Shopping is a necessity in life and something we all do, whether we want to or not. Some of us love to shop, whereas others would much rather spend their time on other things. Whichever way you feel about shopping, you still want to buy great products without having the sky-high prices. If you’re reading this blog, you’re ready to take the first steps in making better and cheaper shopping purchases. Whether it’s shopping for the latest fashion on the high street or buying a new electrical gadget online, you need to know these awesome hacks right now.

Shopping Hacks

Be on the lookout for freebies

Let’s admit it, we all love stuff when it’s free! It always gives us a thrill when we can get a cheeky something without having to splash out on the cash. Free stuff is everywhere, you just need to know where to look. The internet is littered with freebie websites which do all the work for you and find the best free stuff from your favourite brands.

Keep an eye out for sales

Sales are happening all the time. Depending on what type it is, you can get fantastic bargains. Shops may have clearance sales if they’re closing down and will advertise this on their website. However, there are times when we buy something for a fantastic deal, just to see it break a few days later. Know your consumer rights and don’t feel bad about returning a faulty item.

Become a pro-discount hunter

Just because you’re frugal with your money doesn’t mean you can’t live in luxury. You can still buy from designer and high brands for cheaper costs. There are lots of discount sites on the internet in which you can sign up to and receive regular updates on awesome deals, for example, Tarte discount code on DontPayFull. Next time you’re craving a delicious meal from your favourite restaurant, check on the company’s website for any promotions currently going or have a look at their app. 

Grab those bulk deals when you see them

If you see deals such as 2-for-1 or 3-for-the-price-of-2, get them if it’s something you always need. Of course, don’t go buying every bulk deal you see, be practical and only get what you would use in the future. Another important tip is always to watch your products going through at the checkout. Sometimes, certain deals don’t go through properly, meaning you’ve missed out on the deal you wanted. Tell a member of staff about this so they can fix it!

Compare prices before buying

Many people tend to be quite impulsive when they go shopping and may buy something without comparing the prices of the same product elsewhere. Typically, this is easier to do with online shopping. Price matching is also a key rule to shopping and an essential way to save money. Some stores advertise the fact that they price match, meaning if you find the same product at another retailer for a lower price you should challenge them. There’s no harm in doing this and gets you a better deal!

Squeezing The Most Value Out Of Your New Vehicle Purchase

We all know that getting set up with a vehicle is expensive. It’s something which must be done if you’re to have any traveling freedom and agency over your travels, but that doesn’t mean it comes cheaply. If you’re to spend a considerable amount of money getting set up, you should make sure you’re truly squeezing the most value out of your new vehicle purchase.

New Vehicle Purchase

It’s likely this promise drew you to this article, so we’d like to forget overly long introductions and instead help you immediately with the following advice:

Consider Seller Reviews

If you’re visiting an independent garage or a private retailer who might sell a niche variety of vehicle, take a few minutes to check online for reviews. This can help direct you to some issues that you’d rather have known beforehand, and not experienced later. It might also help lend some more professional insight into a seller. Perhaps a particular retailer charges a slightly higher price for the vehicles they sell, but they give you a long time warranty, they have spend money restoring the car and ensuring its service has been recent. Sometimes, price is not always a rip-off, but you’ll only be able to find and understand this if you’re subject to quality reviews. Check multiple sources, from Yelp to auto trading forums. 

Shop Around
The only way to truly gain the most bang for your buck is to shop around, and then inform those garages of better prices you have found elsewhere. This might motivate them to sweeten the deal, or to dissuade you from a sale. This way, you’ll find the right price. You’ll also find the right seller, because trust means everything when you’re purchasing a vehicle.

Access To History

A good seller will give you a full history of the vehicle, such as previous owners, servicing dates and repair work done. If they are effusive or otherwise hostile about you requesting this information, then take your money and invest it elsewhere. You need to know exactly what your money will acquire you, so make sure you have a great understanding of where the vehicle is, and who it’s been with.

Test Drive

Most vehicles should be available for a test drive, especially if they are being sold with the understanding it’s road worthy. This will help you get a good feel for the vehicle, but any issues will also become apparent relatively quickly. This is also a great place to inspect the vehicle inside and out. If you’re unsure of the intricacies of vehicle maintenance, and what to look for when you purchase, it’s important to bring someone along with you who knows what they’re talking about. If you don’t, it will be very easy to identify your lack of knowledge, and potentially hide issues that a more shrewd eye would have identified. 

Finance

Financing your vehicle through a service such as https://www.allcarleasing.co.uk can help you save plenty of money in the short term. For a loan contribution either monthly or weekly, you can purchase a car slightly out of your current price range. If you submit to a credit check, have a decent income that can comfortably cover the monthly payments, and are happy with the duration of the contract terms, there is simply no better way for you to acquire a vehicle slightly out of your budget. Buying quality will always be worthy, especially when it comes to something you hope to drive daily in all likelihood. When you’re driving on the highway, you’ll sure appreciate a vehicle you can be comfortable with, and feel safe in.

Buy Pre-Owned

A new car comes at an expensive price. The moment you drive it off the lot, over 20% of its value is lost. For this reason, purchasing used can always be a preferable option, particularly if the previous owners have treated the vehicles well. High mileage is not always a sign of negative car durability. This can help you acquire models in great condition, so long as you’re happy to trust the seller is being upfront about the vehicle's history. 

In fact, purchasing a pre-owned vehicle should always be your default option if you’re hoping to make a wise use of money. Purchasing new is possible, and you can do it, but only if you’re willing to sacrifice initial purchase value after you use vehicle, or if your finance terms are good to you.

Trade Car

Your current vehicle can be used as a token to chip down the price of your new vehicle. For example, if your children have grown up, changing from a people carrier to a smaller hatchback can be more economical, and your larger vehicle is sure to fetch a respectable price. Trading your car in this way not only helps you subvert the effort and cost of sending it to scrap, but finding it a new home can help you become that person who provides a much-needed car for the next person, similar to the situation you find yourself in now.

Keep Good Credit

The most favourable loan terms will always come when you keep good credit. This matters for purchasing vehicles, because you may get shorter loan terms, less interest, or even be eligible for help-to-buy schemes. Take good care of your finances, always prioritize saving, and you may just find that premium car deal just around the corner.

Take Good Care

The best way to squeeze the most longevity out of your vehicle is to take good care of it. It’s really that simple. Drive safely, always seek to become a better driver, and pre-plan your routes. Never drive drunk. Maintain your vehicle often, and learn how it works. Get great insurance, and coverage for roadside breakdowns. Clean it at reasonable intervals. If you can afford it, use better and more premium diesel. When you take care of your vehicle in this way, its lifespan improves, even if it has less than one hundred miles on the clock.

With these tips, you’re sure to not only achieve a car you love, but you’ll have a car with plenty of value.

Tax Planning? Avoid these common mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. It is the way of life. But it can be very helpful if someone just points out and gives a ‘heads-up’ before you make one, right. Think of this post as a heads-up when it comes to tax planning. So, read on to know some of the common mistakes you should avoid when you do your annual tax planning exercise.

Mistake #1: Delaying your tax planning 

Procrastination: even the best of people indulge in it. Apparently, Leonardo da Vinci was a master procrastinator. He took nearly 15 years to complete the Mona Lisa. Sadly, tax planning is not a work of art. Most people think of tax planning only during the last quarter of the year (sometimes even later). By doing so, you can make rushed decisions which could lead you to pick wrong investment products.

Tax Planning

Mistake #2: Blindly fulfilling the 80C limit

Under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, you are eligible for tax deductions up to Rs 1.5 lakh. But that does not mean you simply try to reach that limit without carefully checking your investments. This may help you earn short-term tax benefits but you might lose out on long-term investment opportunities.

On the other end of the spectrum, many people are unaware of the limit. As a result, they do not make use of the tax-saving opportunities. Therefore, you should understand the rules and invest in an investment vehicle that can get you the best of returns as well as tax benefits. Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Pension Scheme (NPS), Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS) and Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) are some of the investment options that can help your wealth grow and also help you save on taxes.  

Mistake #3: Turning your back on basic exemptions

It is said: Ignorance is bliss. But, it certainly isn’t when it comes to your money. Just imagine that after the deadline you find out that you could have saved another Rs 50,000 in taxes! 

There are many deductions available apart from Section 80C. You can avail deductions on education loans, donations, medical expenses and even on interest on housing loans. These come under various sections such as 80D, 80DD, 80E, 80GG and many others. 

Mistake #4: Investing in tax-inefficient schemes

A lot of people in India invest in fixed deposits (FDs). You are allowed to make a one-time tax claim on the investment you make. However, they may not be very useful when it comes to saving taxes. This is because the interest you earn on your FDs are taxable. Instead, you could opt for tax-efficient schemes such as Public Provident Fund (PPF) or even diversified tax-saving mutual funds

You could do this by investing through systematic investment plans (SIPs). SIPs are a very efficient way of gaining investment returns as well as tax benefits at a low level of risk. 

Invest in Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS) funds to qualify for tax exemptions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

Conclusion

So, whether you like it or not, you cannot avoid your tax planning. So why not do it well? Avoid the above mistakes and enjoy the extra monetary benefits you can gain from saving tax.

Business Finance Tips from the Trusted Name Freedom Debt Relief

Plenty of people have great ideas for new products and services, but it takes a lot more than a great idea to create a successful and lucrative business. A lot of new start ups don't make it more than a year, even more succumb within five years, and only a third of all news businesses will still be in operation ten years after they open for business. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this, notes Freedom Debt Relief, but a lot of the problem ends up being related to the financial health of the company.

Business Finance Tips

It is easy to see how this happens, most people with good business ideas are not economists or financial experts and thus, this is the area of running a business they struggle with the most. Problem is, as Freedom Debt Relief explains, this is the most important aspect relating to a business being a success or failure. One must be able to manage their expenses while also turning something of a profit, otherwise the business is doomed to fail.

What follows are just a few tips from Freedom Debt Relief on how to stay on top of your small-business finances so as to improve your chances for long-term business success.

Use the Tools At Your Disposal

The first recommendation from Freedom Debt Relief is to use all the small-business tools that you can get your hands on. If you are willing to look for it, there is tons of help and assistance available for the small business owner. Affordable digital tools like financial software packages take a lot of the guesswork out of things like billing and payroll, ensuring that all of these elements are properly attended to, but that don't require you to spend all your time managing these important, but tedious, tasks.

Keep Business and Personal Life Separated – Financially

A big mistake a lot of small business owners make, according to Freedom Debt Relief, is not properly separating their personal and business finances. You should avoid using your business resources for personal use and vice versa. It might seem easier or more convenient to keep the lines blurred, but it is actually a very bad idea. Pay yourself a salary from a separate business account and never have any personal ties.

Be Involved in Accounting

Though it is not everyone's proverbial cup of tea, Freedom Debt Relief points out just how important it is for you to take a personal role in your business's accounting. This doesn't meant that you have to keep the books, that is not at all what is being suggested. Rather, look into the books on other occasions than just when you receive your monthly statement. You can better understand areas where the company might be able to save, as well as identify waste or fraud more quickly, by taking a more active role.

The tips provided by Freedom Debt Relief will help you develop better business financial practices that will help improve the chances of success for your business. The sad reality is that only about a third of new businesses will still be open after ten years, and bad financial management is often a key factor in the failure of two thirds of all newly started businesses. Following these tips will keep your business finances more streamlined and help you to avoid the common errors that failed small businesses make.

Five Skills You Need to Become Successful at Trading

Many people find the opportunities to trade online from home appealing. It promises a lot of free time, flexibility, and financial freedom. If you are thinking about trying your hand at forex or any other day trading, you need to first check whether or not you have what it takes to succeed. While some companies will tell you that all you need is a laptop and their software, there is actually a lot more to it. Find a list of five skills you will absolutely need to succeed in trading online.

1. Good Habits

You will need to develop habits that will help your business over time. Make sure that you wake up early, get organized, and get rid of all the distractions. You cannot be focusing on trading while you are having a chat with your friends or watching the news on the television. At least not in the beginning. If you want to be good at your job, copy the behavior of people who have already managed to build a successful portfolio.

forex trading

2. Self-discipline

You need to stay focused and have a rigorous schedule. If you skip one trade, and fail to follow up your positions, you are likely to lose the momentum, and this will have serious financial consequences. When you start up as a trader, you will have new methods and analysis to implement, and this means you have to give it a hundred percent, or you will make mistakes and fail.

3. Good Decision-Making Skills

If you cannot make decisions on time, you will be following others, and make little or no money. While learning to spot opportunities and trends is an advanced skill, if you don’t take chances, you will not make money. If you want to become better at making decisions fast, you can learn it from online resources. To make good decisions, you have to have a clear mind every day, and start fresh, without allowing previous trades or failures influence your trade.

4. Willingness to Learn

It is absolutely necessary that you learn from the best in the trade. Check the resources of successful traders online, such as http://trustedforexbroker.com to see what experienced traders have to offer. Seek advice and enroll on a professional trading. Don’t rely on the “magic bullet” software alone to make all the decisions for you: remember that there will be hundreds of thousands of people using the same system.

5. Analytical Skills

You need to have advanced analytical skills to spot opportunities and assess risks real time. While some people are naturally good at this, others simply learn the skill from others. It is not illegal to follow the trade of advanced traders and learn from them. Analytical skills will help you see clearly in every situation and make the decisions that result in the best possible outcomes.

There is more to creating a successful online trading business than a software and patience. If you want to beat your competition and make better decisions than most of the traders, you need to engage in learning and developing your skills.

Tips To Help You Save On Fuel This Holiday Season

Travel Reduction

The truth is, the best way to save money on fuel is to consume less fuel; but that can be easier said than done. Still, there are methods you can use to reduce your gas expenses during the holidays. Following are a number of suggestions which may save you enough to increase your celebratory budget!

Strategic Traveling

If you’re savvy, you can save gas just by the way you travel from one destination to another. Here are some holiday travel tips to consider. If you really want to save during the holidays, you need to drive around the traffic.

travel expenses

If you get stuck on a Southern California freeway near a holiday rush, it could take you three hours to go thirty miles. That’s on a good day. You could be stuck in the mousetrap as long as eight hours. You can watch over and over again all the commercials next to the road, on you can go through your social network. You can make yourself not so bored today with all the gadgets. But this is bad for the engine, bad for your gas tank, bad for your peace of mind, and bad in general.

But you know when there’s no holiday rush, even on the eve of the date? Two in the morning. Nobody’s out at two in the morning. The roads are clear. You can go the speed limit, or get to your car’s most optimum operational velocity—both of which will extend the mileage of your vehicle, meaning you get more per gallon.

Plus, it’s cooler at night, so you don’t have to stress your engine as much as you otherwise would. Night driving can be dangerous for reasons of vision reduction and fatigue, but if you have little traffic you can rely on your brights, and if you sleep strategically, you can wake up right before your 2 am drive—and there’s always pulling over somewhere to nap.

A Technological Solution

If you’re especially strapped for cash, you may find people have a more giving spirit during the holidays, and a modest crowdfund profile could net you the needed funds to underwrite your journey. This is a bit of a long-shot, but if you can outsource the cost of your trip entirely, that’s 100% fuel savings.

Discounts

Sign up for a Safeway card, a King Sooper’s card, a Von’s card, an Albertson’s card, a Piggly Wiggly card, a Gelson’s card—any supermarket you can find. You’ll encounter diverse outlets that have gas stations, and you can save pennies on the gallon.

Double-Down On Travel Conservation

If you’re a professional driver, you may have your own big rig that is regularly used hauling equipment. Well, during the holidays, you’ve got the choice of driving through town to find hotels, and expending fuel, or just sleeping in the truck. This can be uncomfortable if you don’t have a sleeper model.

One thing to consider when you’re perusing semi trucks for sale is a sleeper compartment; according to MyLittleSalesman.com, “…sleeper trucks are designed for long hauls where sleeping lodges are not always readily accessible.” You might even trade your existing truck in, or make an upgrade.

Avoiding Risky Routes

Not every location has the traffic of San Francisco at rush hour. You’re pretty much never going to encounter real traffic in Wyoming. You might be delayed a minute or two here or there, but that’s it. Sometimes what you want to do is take a less-than-common route to get to your destination.

Sometimes you want to take the highway rather than the interstate, sometimes country roads are recommendable. Also, slower speeds are generally better for fuel economy; and on these roads, those slower speeds represent the limit. Generally, your ideal range will be between 45 and 65 miles an hour, depending on your vehicle.

Save Money, Save Time

The best gasoline conservation measures involve taking shorter routes unless there’s traffic, getting discounts, upgrading vehicles, underwriting your journey, and driving at your vehicle’s optimum efficiency. Practice strategies like these and you’ll potentially save hundreds of dollars a year.

The People To See To Improve Your Business

Business is a world of its own, with plenty of marketing avenues to go down, plenty of people who can work wonders for you, and many sales to make when you’ve built yourself a good customer base. However, getting there in the first place can be hard, and you might need a bit of a helping hand. Here’s a couple of ideas about the people to contact and bring on board when you feel a little down and out on your business luck. 

Someone to Work the Web

The web is the biggest place to advertise for your brand, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately receive traction. 

Improve Your Business

Be on the lookout for an SEO specialist to keep an eye on everything to do with your online content. It’s easier to keep a track of the rest of business this way, and makes the website more relevant for search engines and customer search terms. Involving this professional element means you can also learn from the masters, and soon you might not even need to outsource like this anymore. 

Someone to Make the Sales

Now usually this would be you, as the person bringing up their own business. If you’re the founder of a company, then you’re going to need to be on the shop floor most of the time, trying to increase sales and securing new customers. 

Yet, if you’re busy coming to terms with every other business operation, such as sorting your inventory, maximising on it, looking to increase your online reach, and taking care of the books day after day, you might want to try delegating. 

There’s no harm in taking on a hire or two to work the shop floor when you’re not there, but looking for a designated sales person that can take on most of this work to make connections and find friends amongst partners and the odd competitor is a saving grace at your disposal. Of course you’ll want to balance this carefully, as as the founder you’re going to need to be involved at the beginning and still have touchdowns after this, as customers and investors love to see the face of the brand. 

An Accountant

Finances are one of the most tricky things to get to grips with, and if you’re just starting off with little or no previous experience, you’re going to need to get a little helping hand with them.

However, a lot of the time startups like to believe they can do their financing themselves, and whilst that can be pulled off, it might not go as well as someone who is just finding their feet in the corporate world thinks. That’s not to say coping with business finance is impossible, it’s just made easier and a lot smoother to learn when you have a professional on your side. Edge ahead of the competition by hiring yourself an accountant and giving your startup a firmer foundation. 

Use these people as liberally as you like and for good measure. 

Be The Boss: Three Ways To Earn Money From Home

Sick of being stuck in the rat race, working yourself to the bone to earn lots of money for a big corporation? Why not take the plunge and become your own boss instead, more people than ever have been able to make the move from employee to boss and you could do the same too, there are some great ways to make reliable money from home these days. Here are a few ideas.

make money from home

Start a Business

Running your own business is the dream for many, you get to pour your passion and creativity into something you really believe in. Even setting up a small online business from home can earn you a fantastic amount of money if it does well, so if you have an idea for a business don't overlook it. If you don’t have a lot of money to have a website created (and then promote it which is expensive within itself) sell through an online marketplace like Amazon, Etsy or eBay. This way you have your own shop instantly, and are likely to be seen by a larger number of customers since these sites already have a huge customer base. Once you’re turning a profit you could then look into having your own website designed by a professional.  As a business owner, just be sure that you’re doing everything by the book. If you’re hiring additional employees, for example, you’ll need to make sure they’re treated fairly, or you could end up with a lawsuit on your hands. You’ll need to look into avoiding director disqualification since this can jeopardise your future as a business owner. You will need to make sure you have the correct insurances in place, that way if something does go wrong with your products or services you don’t end up out of pocket. 

Go Freelance

If you have a skill but are being employed by a company, why not cut out the middleman and go freelance instead? It could be writing, design, art, gardening or whatever else you currently do. For lots of skills there are freelance sites out there, you can sign up to and bid on jobs. Otherwise, you could advertise your services online. On the downside, you do have to advertise and find your own clients so work can be unreliable, but once you have regular clients, it can give you that bit of security. 

Write a Blog

Blogging has taken the internet by storm over last few years. What was once very much a hobby can now be lucrative, with the big companies of the world discovering how influential bloggers could be when it came to promoting their products. Getting a blog to the stage where it's earning money takes work, but if you've already been blogging for a while and are established, look into ways to monetise. As a bonus, bloggers tend to be sent a ton of great things to review as well as opportunities like holidays, days out, courses and so much more.

It’s Time to Make Your Company More Open and Accessible

These days, it’s not alright for your business ignore the needs of your customers and you can’t ignore issues of accessibility and the needs different kinds of customers will have. If you want to present your business as one that’s modern and progressive, you should be working towards making it open and accessible for everyone right now. It might seem daunting to make big changes to an otherwise successful company, but it will all be worthwhile and beneficial to your business in the end.

company office

If you’re not sure where to start with making your business more open and accessible than it currently is, the guide below will help you out. You’ll find information on where to start and which steps are most logical for your business.

Offer a Warm and Helpful Welcome

The way in which you welcome your customers as they walk through the door will have a big impact on how they experience your company. You should be there to offer a warm welcome and a helping hand should your they need one. It shows that your business is open and willing to help people out. That makes a difference and it’s also a simple change for you and your staff members to implement. 

Train Your Employees to be Sensitive

Sensitivity training is very common inside companies these days. You don’t want your employees to say the wrong thing or fail to speak to people politely. Customers will not come back if they feel that they’ve been treated badly by your staff and no business can afford to lose customers over such needless things. Given the right training and the right guidance, your employees will be able to behave properly and interact with customers in the positive way they expect. 

Install Proper Disabled Access

Disabled access is not something that should be considered optional. It’s a vital part of modern companies, and if disabled people don’t feel able to use your company, you’re unfairly rejecting people based on something that’s no fault or choice of their own. Places like Terry Lifts offer disabled access facilities like lifts and other things that can make your company more accessible. It might be a big financial commitment right now, but it will pay off in the long-term.

office interior

Offer Equal Opportunities to Employees and Candidates

Accessibility is not just about physical needs and stair lifts either. You also need to make sure that your business is open to and accepting of all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. This is something that should be at the forefront of your mind during the hiring process. You want people to feel like they’re being given a fair opportunity and that there is no prejudice. There’s no room for anything that runs counter to those kinds of principles inside any modern business.

Make Sure All Washrooms Are Accessible

The accessibility of washrooms is an important point to consider from the point of view of your customers. There should be washrooms in place that can be used easily as and when they're needed. These facilities should not just be viewed  as nice added extras. Some of your customers might have health problems that mean they need access to these kinds of facilities, so they’re necessary for any modern company. You can also make the business more accommodating to parents by offering baby changing facilities too.

Keep Paths Clear

Tripping hazards can become major problems in companies with a high levels of foot traffic. Refusing to act until something does go wrong is not the way forward because the injured party will have grounds to sue you.I’m sure a legal battle that could end in you coughing up a lot of compensation doesn’t sound too appealing. Avoid any such eventuality by keeping the paths clear and monitoring the situation throughout the day.

Provide Adequate Lighting

The lighting inside your business might not seem like a huge deal to you, but lighting the path and making sure people can always see what they’re doing and where they're going can actually help to prevent accidents. You don’t want people to get hurt because of a simple matter like this one, so it makes sense to take action. You can improve the lighting by extending it throughout any areas that can be used by the customers you rely on. The usability and accessibility of your business will immediately be given a boost and it won’t take much time or money to get it right.

Making these changes to your company will instantly have a massive impact on it. Most importantly, it will positively impact the experience of your customers, making more of them feel more welcome.

Too Small To Hire But Too Big Not To?

There comes a time for every startup when things suddenly happen. The weeks and months of struggling for that first customer or client are long forgotten. You’ve been working steadily to build your portfolio. You've developed your marketing strategies, and nurture your first few clients. But now it’s all paying off. You’ve planned and planned to make this happen. But did you plan on coping when all this happened?

business strategies

As a one-man-band or an entrepreneur, your gifts are clear. You come up with great ideas that others believe in too. And you know how to package that idea up into a profitable product. Your marketing skills are excellent, and your visions for growth have come true. But you’re not a receptionist. You’re not an administrator. You’re not a media buyer or a customer service representative. If you don’t hire someone soon, though, you’ll have to don all these hats and more.

Fast Rising Star

The trouble with growing from nothing to something quickly is that you have no track history to rely on. You can’t yet risk the expense of a sales team, or a customer service team because you have no reliable forecast for the future success of your company. There is no history there to determine that you can cover their wages in a year or three years. Then there is the pension, the insurances, the taxes, and the benefits. Is now really the time to commit to all that?

Is There Another Way?

We’ve all heard of outsourcing, but not many startups actually use the full range of services that might be available to them. Outsourcing helps your company to run smoothly. This applies if you're just starting or you're a well-established and profitable business. Using outsourced services means you can have specialists working for you. It’s usually set up as a ‘pay-as-you-go’ provision so you can hit the stop button when you need to.

What You Can Outsource

What you need will depend entirely on your business model. If you are a retailer, you might choose to outsource your customer service department. Chances are you need to strategically coordinate several marketing campaigns and promotions. That is a lot even for a whole team of marketers to take on. As well as a customer call center and marketing agency, you’re likely to need a logistics team to manage each order. Packaging and coordinating pickups and deliveries isn’t something you can realistically manage on your own.

If you’re a B2B company, then you might need a dedicated sales team. Sales personnel are often commission-based. Some are happy to work like this, managing their own workload. They are effectively freelance or self-employed. The sales process for B2B is much more lengthy in time and steps. This means you will need a freelance copywriter managing each of your newsletter and email campaigns. Chances are you need your website to be rich with SEO content too. 

outsource

Regardless of your business type, you still need to run the company. This includes handling inquiries by telephone, email, and contact form. It might also include social media engagement. You’ll need to handle accounts, invoices, and taxes. And sometimes you’ll need to take meetings with regulating bodies, local authorities and big clients. Your home-run business is starting to be stretched beyond the walls of your spare room!

You can outsource every service you wish to provide your customers. And yes, this does include your very own company office! There are many benefits of using a virtual office. Perhaps the most important one is that you can pass over those tasks and concentrate on being an entrepreneur. Someone else can pick up the phone and field calls. Someone else can manage the office cleaning. Someone else can pick up the bills from owning premises like that too. You use it as much as you need for a fee. Like all other outsourced services, it’s designed to be hassle-free for you.

Expanding and Growing or Getting Bigger Than You Can Handle?

Ultimately, there is a crucial point for any business - that moment where you can no longer personally fulfil your customer’s requirements because you’re too busy handling all the others! If you don’t get some help to manage each of the tasks we’ve discussed, you could start to let customers and suppliers down. Before you know it, your company reputation is in tatters, and you’re about to lose your business.

Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to grow and continue to expand without any big initial outlay. Services tend to be pay-as-you-go, so that means that you cover those costs as you’re getting paid. This can continue for as long as you need it to. Of course, eventually, there might come the point where it is cheaper to handle that volume of sales in-house. When you reach that scale, then you can simply turn off the services you don’t want outsourced anymore.

When Should You Hire?

Hiring is a huge undertaking. You don't just need a reliable and consistent revenue stream. You also need to dedicate the time and resources to creating roles, advertising the jobs and interviewing. Of course, you could always outsource this process too! Recruitment agencies can send you temporary workers to fill a role for a week, a month, or ongoing. You might then choose to make it a temp-to-perm role. That means the candidate they send for the role could be interviewed to determine if they are right to become your permanent employee. You will have to pay the agency a ‘finders fee’ of about ten to twenty percent of the agreed salary.

Taking a candidate on that has already been doing the job for a while is hugely beneficial for you. They’re already trained and competent so you won’t have to do that task twice. Best of all, you’ve already spent time with them and know they’re a good fit for the company culture you’re developing. You know you can get on with that person. 

If you’re too small to hire just yet, but struggling to run your business alone, there are plenty of outsourcing solutions. Which do you need?

5 Car Repairs You Can Do Yourself to Save Money

There’s nothing worse than starting up your car and realizing something just isn’t right - your brakes are squeaking or your window is stuck or maybe it just feels “off.” That’s when you get that sinking feeling in your stomach: you need to visit a mechanic and there’s no money in your bank account for this unexpected expense. 

One way you can help prevent repeated trips to the mechanic for repairs is by keeping up with your car’s regular maintenance, and fixing small problems as they arise. With a little confidence, you might even be able to do some of this work yourself. 

5 Car Repairs

Check out this list of five car repairs you can do yourself; all you need is your owner’s manual, a quick YouTube tutorial, and an auto parts store that you trust. The rest, well, it’s up to you!

1. Replace your air filter

When your air filter is too dirty, it impairs your engine’s function and impacts your gas mileage; changing it regularly will help prolong your engine’s life. How often you change your filter will depend on how much you drive, but your owner’s manual should have information on when you should be checking it out. If it’s dirty or clogged, it’s time for a new one. Air filters are generally inexpensive and can be purchased at an auto parts store. This is an easy job that should only take you a few minutes - and might boost your confidence to try some other quick fixes. 

2. Replace your windshield wipers

When you start to notice your windshield is looking a little streaky, it’s probably time to change your windshield wipers. Other giveaways include squeaking or skipping wipers, or noticing that your wipers aren’t making proper contact with your windshield. Having good visibility when you’re driving is a matter of safety, so don’t put off this simple fix. This is another easy job that doesn’t warrant a trip to the mechanic’s. 

3. Replace a headlight/taillight

The timing on this one is a no-brainer - you need a new headlight or taillight when your current bulb burns out. Your owner’s manual should give you the information you need to buy the right bulbs. You might also start to notice your headlights becoming foggy or less bright. This is also a problem you can fix yourself with a headlight restoration kit. Not only will your lights be shining brightly after this easy job, but it will also freshen up the look of your car.

4. Rotating your tires

Rotating your tires refers to changing the position of your tires to even out tire wear. Doing this regularly will help to extend the life of your tires, so you’re not paying for replacements more than is necessary. If you know how to change a tire, you have the skills to tackle this job (and if you don’t, it’s a good thing to learn). You can also install your winter tires when the time comes, something that will keep you safe in cold and snowy weather and could qualify you for a discount on your car insurance

5. Touch-up scratches and scuffs

Surface scratches and scuffs on your car don’t just look bad, they also put you at risk for further rust and damage to your car’s body. That being said, you don’t have to run to the auto body shop every time you ding your vehicle; many surface scratches and scuffs can be repaired at home. You can keep some touch-up paint on hand - just make sure that you have the proper colour for your car. The factory paint code should be found on a sticker under the hood or inside your door. A quick search online will give you many cheap but effective ways to handle touch-ups yourself and keep your car beautiful. 

Whenever you decide to handle a repair job yourself, make sure you are consulting your owner’s manual and doing your research. If you’re unsure that you can handle a project, it might be best to leave it to the pros. If you can tackle a few small jobs, though, you’ll save money and learn some new skills that you can brag about later.