8 Tips To Separating Personal And Business Finances

Most emerging business owners don’t separate their personal finances from their business finances. This is an unhealthy financial habit, even if the latter is your personal business.

Regardless of your business size, as long as it is a business undertaking, you must draw a clear line between the two. This way, it will not muddle up your finances. Though this task is daunting at first, it will make your life a lot easier in the long run. Also, this is vital to your business’s long-term success.

Personal Finances

Making an effort to open a business account can save you from devastating outcomes later on. Finance pros share some tips to separating your personal and business finances.

1.  Know What a Business Expense Is

Some of the biggest pitfalls in keeping your finances separate are food, travel, and entertainment expenses. It may be tempting to write off as much as you can as a tax deduction, but remember that dinners out with your family and friends won’t qualify as business expenses, regardless of how you arrange things.

2. Set Up Separate Checking Accounts

You can be diligent about drawing on the right account if you have separate checking accounts. Get into the habit of paying business expenses from this account and depositing corporate earnings here. So when it’s tax time, you just have to review your bank statements for a clearer picture. 

You can even easily do your taxes and other financial reporting if you only use your business debit card and avoid using cash.

3. Store Receipts in Different Files

Make sure to use different files or boxes to store receipts, one for personal receipts and another for business receipts. If you don’t have enough time to collect and sort both receipts, prioritize filing your business receipts. 

Most tax auditors won’t care much about your personal expenses but will be quite interested in your business transactions.

4. Get a Corporate Credit Card

Getting a credit card for your business will help you establish a credit history for your enterprise. A good credit history will help you gain better access to reputable financial establishments.

Having a corporate credit card will mean that when there is something your business budget cannot afford as yet, you will not be tempted to use your own credit card to pay for it. Though you can use a personal loan and credit card to finance your business operations, it can significantly muddy the waters. 

Having a separate line of credit for your business will simplify a lot of things.

5. Give Yourself a Salary

Writing a check for the same amount each month from your business checking account to your personal account will make it a lot easier for your personal and business finances to stay on budget. This will also maintain boundaries and make sure you are paying the proper taxes.

6. Draw a Line between Your Office and Home

You need to clearly delineate the line between your home and office, especially when you are working from a home office. This will help you better manage your finances. Even when you have a home office, your business should not be paying for the monthly residential electricity bill. At least part of such an expense should fall into your personal finances.

7. Keep Track of Business Use

Each time you use a personal item like your smartphone or car for business purposes, you must keep track of the split. Life can be a lot easier if you have a separate phone and car for your business. However, since that is not a practical option, you can invest in logging tools for business use which are also a more economical solution.

8. Speak with Banking and Finance Experts

If you are having a hard time separating your finances, seek professional help. Reliable banking and financial service organizations and professionals will help you establish a system that will work best for your situation. They will also advise you on the things you should do to efficiently maintain a separation between the two.

Maintaining accurate records of your earnings and expenses is among the most crucial aspects of running a business. This is the best way to get an excellent read on how your business performs. Therefore, keeping your personal finances separate from your business finances is a must. 

Start by monitoring how much your business is earning, and separating it from your personal income and expenditure. Serious and costly complications may arise if you do otherwise.

5 Health Insurance Shopping Secrets That You Need To Know

The very word, “insurance” is enough to make some people run for cover. The healthcare laws say we must have insurance. That means whether we have the means to pay for it or not. No longer can we shrug it off and say it is impossible. You must have medical health insurance

Living on Medicare

People 65 and older are eligible for Medicare. If you're under 65, you could be eligible for Medicare if you have end-stage renal disease, ALS, or have received Social Security Disability Insurance for 24 months. Medicare Part A pays for hospital bills when you are admitted. Part B pays for most (or a portion of) doctor visits. Part C is where you can buy private insurance to take care of more of your medical expenses, using the dollars you are already paying for Parts A & B. Part D is prescription coverage. 

Health Insurance

Part C To The Rescue

It is the purchase of insurance using your Medicare dollars that gives us adequate coverage. Still, you must shop for the insurance. There are many companies out there. You need to understand what you are buying. Below you will find 5 tips to help you understand.

Tip 1

Understand how your physical health and financial picture affects your insurance premium. If you are living on a very low annual salary or if you have had multiple medical issues, it will affect what you will pay.  It breaks down to this. If you have a high premium, you pay more for your insurance and it begins to pay for your medical expenses sooner. If you have a high deductible, you pay less for your premiums but more when you visit the doctor and your insurance will not begin paying until you have paid your deductible for the year. 

Tip 2

Know when you can buy insurance. Many people think they can buy insurance any time. The fact is, there is an open enrollment. Annually, you can buy your Medicare Advantage private insurance from November 2st until January 31. If you miss those dates, you will have to wait until next year. 

Tip 3

Ask basic questions:

Which doctors and hospitals are in your network?
Do you need a referral if you need to see a specialist?
What happens if you go to an out of network hospital?
What is your copay, out of pocket, and deductible?
What pharmacy will you need to use?

Tip 4

Weigh all of your options. There are many different plans. You may do better with an HMO vs a PPO. You may live where there are few doctors. Find out what your options are. If you do not have health issues and you do not mind a 30-minute drive to the doctor, you may be able to get a cheaper plan from a neighboring town. 

Tip 5

Find out what you qualify for. Many people are afraid of shopping insurances. The truth is, millions of people qualify for government help paying for their policy. You will not know if you do or not until you try. A lot of Americans qualify for plans that are under $100.00 per month. This is less than one doctor’s visit. You cannot afford not to have insurance. 

Educate yourself and weigh your options. You will see that there is a way to get the coverage you need without going bankrupt. You may have to shop around, but it is worth the effort. Obey the law, take care of your health, and protect your family.

Managing Money When You're Self-Employed: A Four Step Plan

If you have looked at the pros and cons of working for yourself and going into a home-based business, then you need to look at developing a plan. You need your business to define you and lead you to where you want to be. Having a plan can also help you to assess your personal finances and what money you will or won’t need. And unfortunately, there are plenty of statistics out there that show how much home-based businesses fail, simply because they have not been planned out well enough (particularly when it comes to finances). So if you’re thinking that this might be the next step for you, then there are so ways to make being self-employed work for you.

Managing Money

Keep Accurate Records

There is no payroll department when it comes to working for yourself. You are the person that will be keeping the records and checking how much taxes you owe. And if you don’t stay on top of it, it can take over and lead to a surprise bill at the end of the financial year. So look for something like a check stub maker to use each month, so you can figure out what taxes you need to set aside and pay. You should also keep copies of invoices, payments, and other expenses that you might have. Even things like business cards can be good to file as you may need them to network with later down the line.

Avoid Credit Cards

If you plan to go into self-employment thinking that you’ll just rely on credit cards, then you need to think again. This shouldn’t be the attitude to go on with at all. You need to think about being paid interest with you cash, rather than paying interest on credit cards. Budgeting well is the best way to avoid this.

Track Your Income

When you are self-employed, the income that you get from month to month can vary. Some work can be seasonal, and some months just much slower with clients being stricter with their budget, for instance. So it is a good idea to track every penny that you get paid and where it goes. When you earn more than normal, make sure you have a good savings account or investment to put the money into. Then you can draw on it during the months that are quieter.

Don’t Underestimate Expenses

You can easily just guess at what you will need to get your home-based business started, even if all you need is a new laptop and internet connection. But the thing is, there are many other expenses when it comes with running a business. Things like insurance, bills, apps, childcare, and travel can all add up. So allow for this when you are planning your finances and the budget for the business.

There are many examples to follow online, so don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Just take your time, plan, and set your budget accordingly, in order to have financial success.

If You’re Thinking Of Buying Your First Home, Read This First

When it comes to buying property, it’s definitely not a decision that you take lightly. While to some, investing in property is always going to be something they do for retirement reasons, or to earn extra income, when you’re ready to buy for the first time, it’s often a home that you’re after. And it can definitely be exciting for that reason. However, as with any big purchase, it’s important not to just rush into this. Because buying a property is a deal. Although, when you decide that you’re ready, you want it to happen tomorrow, you need to take your time. Because it can be costly.

Buying Your First Home

Even when you’ve thought about the cost and you still want to go ahead, you have to be sure that you know exactly what kind of budget you need. Because it’s easy to believe that you just need a savings pot to get the mortgage in the first place. But that’s not the only thing you need more money. In fact, it’s really just the starting point. Before you get ahead of yourself, it’s time to work out exactly what buying property is going to cost you and what you need before you get started.

So now we’re going to work through seven of the big home buying costs that you’re going to be faced with and should really start to budget for now.

Deposit

First up, you have the deposit. This is always the first financially area that people think of. But it’s often the last two. The deposit is what you’re going to need to secure the mortgage in the first place. Sometimes, it will take you a long time to save up for it - years even. So you’re going to want to get it in your mind that this won’t happen overnight. You also need to make sure that you save up enough to get the mortgage, which can sometimes be up to 20% of the property value.

Solicitor Fees

Then, you have the solicitor fees. These are always going to vary from case to case. Because they can often depend on the firm you use and where you’re based too. But you still need to factor them in. The solicitors will charge for the close of the sale, and this can often catch buyers by surprise, so you need to ensure that you’re ready to pay this fee from the start.

Survey Fees

Then, you’ve also got the survey. A house survey isn’t always going to be something that everyone needs, but it’s highly recommended that you get one. It’s often good to know what you’re buying, when you’re buying it. So be sure to allocate the cost of a survey in their too. Again, this cost will vary, but its essential if you want to be saved making a poor purchase decision when it comes to the property.

Stamp Duty

Then you’ve got your stamp duty, or the tax that you’re going to pay for buying a house. For this, you can take a look at stamp duty rates 2017 online before you think about buying. Not every house will have stamp duty applied, but it’s always worth checking before you go ahead.

Estate Agent Fees

And, as an extra to think about, you also have the estate agent fees too. While, traditionally, these are only paid by the buyer, if you are, for example, buying your first property with someone that is selling their home, you’re going to want to account for the fees in their half of the costings. Because they may need the money from their home to move, and this will then affect the amount that you need to save.

Renovation Costs

You should also look to factor in any renovation costs too. Because if you’re buying a fixer-upper, or just somewhere that will need a bit of work, this will affect the amount you’re going to want to pay overall. If you need a substantial amount of money for this, it’s best to save it upfront so you can get to work as soon as you buy.

Homeowners Fees

And finally, you should definitely consider any homeowners association fees that may apply to your new property too. If you live in a gated community or even an apartment building, these fees can be payable each year, each month, or even when you first buy. So you need to know what they’re likely to be so that you’re not caught out when you make your purchase.

Two Fundamental Strategies for Getting Out of Debt

The challenge with debt is that it’s often a slippery slope in that due to the interest and late fees, once you start missing a few payments your financial position can quickly go downhill - as can your credit history. It’s therefore understandable that people in debt wish to get out of debt but sometimes it can feel so emotionally, and practically, overwhelming that people don’t know where to start. A good starting point is the money advice service that offers free and impartial advice on how to get out of debt. This article looks at two fundamental principles of getting out of debt, in an attempt to simplify your thinking, when it comes to this journey.

CONSOLIDATE

For most people, having debt in itself, isn’t particularly stressful - it’s the debt collection activities that are unleashed upon you falling behind; such as the red letters, the phone calls, the threat of a ‘home visit’, court action, and even the prospect of bailiffs coming to remove property from your home. Being pursued for debt, is an extremely stressful situation, and often times people in debt are being pursued by multiple creditors with multiple streams of debt collection activity.  

Getting Out of Debt

One of the best ways to reduce the stress of this, is to consolidate the existing debt, into one lump sum in order to get the plethora of creditors off your back.  Have a looking into schemes such as http://www.debtconsolidationloans.uk.com/debt-consolidation/government-debt-consolidation-loans-and-how-they-work.html in order to better understand how debt consolidation loans can help you; as the two core benefits aside from the financial benefit of avoiding late charges being applied, is that you are now dealing with one creditor rather than several - and rather than having a number of debts with late payments (which can seriously affect your credit score) you now have one debt with payments that are being made on time.

In short, a debt consolidation loan is one of the best ways to get back on track; as long as you are in the financial position to keep up with the repayments it can give you some breathing room to get back on your feet; the article below provides advice on the different types of loans availble: http://www.personalfinanceopinions.com/2015/08/different-types-of-loans.html

INCREASE YOUR INCOME

The second strategy sounds simple enough, but all too often, when we are focused on debt - we stop focusing on creating wealth.  If you can start to shift your thinking, in terms of looking at strategies to increase your income rather than getting caught up in the lack mentality that comes with being focused so heavily on debt, you will be in a much better position to get out of debt.  There are many ways to make an extra income, from online side-hustles to getting an additional job, or even doing odd-jobs for others such as mowing the lawn or babysitting.  

In summary, the first thing to consider is how to consolidate your debt in order to get things back on track - and then, how you can increase your income, in order to be in a better position to start paying off the debt.  However, in terms of making that extra income, it’s important for your goal to go beyond merely paying off your debt - because for most people this isn’t a very juicy goal; you should also set yourself an incentive such as a nice holiday, or even going out for a nice meal, for when you reach a particular milestone.

If Your Business Loves Money, You Might Have To Let It Go

Most of us know that, in the business world, it helps to have money behind you. There are articles out there which claim to help you start up with less than $1000, but for the most part, they’re not the best way to go. You might be able to start something from your bedroom, but it would be just you and a computer.

money

If you want to get serious about a start up, you need decent savings to make it happen. To make sure those savings last, the majority of us cut costs wherever possible. It’s the best way to make a real success of things.

But, it would be naive to assume you can cut costs in every aspect of your business and not pay for it later. When it comes to specific areas, in fact, the more you spend, the more you stand to see back from your efforts. For proof, let’s look at a few areas in which you need to spend to earn. 

Product materials

You don’t need to be a genius to work out that there will be product material costs. Not even the best entrepreneur can create something out of nothing. And, this is very much a situation in which, the more you spend, the more you stand to make. Of course, you need to do this within reason. Buying the most expensive materials will mean charging extortionate amounts to break a profit. In that instance, customers are more likely to head to a cheaper competitor. But, you also don’t want the most inexpensive materials which break and decrease the quality of your product. Instead, find a middle-ground, and don’t be afraid to spend a little to make more back. 

The best team

When you’re starting out, you may be tempted to hire those who are less qualified and offer a lower salary. This makes sense in some ways, and at times it can work out. After all, everyone is capable of learning. You could end up with the best team in town. That said, it’s usually worth offering higher pay rates to attract people who know what they’re doing. This is especially important when you’re new to things, too. A team of inexperienced staff would become a blind leading the blind situation in no time at all. You can always offer opportunities to lesser experienced individuals later on. For now, a qualified team is the best way to improve your business, and see sales coming your way. Of course, to appeal to such individuals, you need to offer competitive pay rates. But, you’ll soon be glad you did when they get things off the ground for you. 

best team

Marketing

Marketing is another area in which it pays to spend. By paying for advertisements you’re sure people will see, you’ll soon start to turn a decent profit. If you fork out less for that billboard in the middle of nowhere, your efforts definitely won’t pay for themselves. It’s also worth thinking about hiring the services of a digital agency like Candid Sky. Agencies like these will take care of every aspect of your digital marketing. You will have to pay for their services, but this is another case of something which will very much pay for itself. Bear in mind that most of your customers will come from these outlets. So, it’s well worth splashing the cash to bring the sales. 

marketing

Accountants

Accountants quite literally pay for themselves. Well, they do all the workings out at least. Hiring an accountant is essential when your business gets off the ground. You don’t have to hire an in-house employee here before you’re ready. But, outsourcing an accounting service will ensure everything financial runs as it should. Though there’s a cost involved, an accountant will ensure you don’t misplace money, or overspend where you shouldn’t. Without one, your cash would be hard to keep track of, and earnings would be much more tricky to come by. After all, if you don’t know how much you have to spend, nothing is stopping you from losing all your profits before you enjoy them. So, bite the bullet and fork out the money for someone who knows how to handle those business books. 

In conclusion

So, you see, sometimes you really do have to send money out into the world before you can get it back. Think of it like lovers of old - if you love something, let it go. If it’s meant to be, it’ll come back to you.

Crucial Things You Need to Know When Considering Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy is stressful, and you always want everything to go as easily and smoothly as possible.

This means that, before you file bankruptcy, you need to do your research to learn all of the facts and look at your financial situation from every angle. While you are going through bankruptcy, you want to be sure you handle your finances properly.  

Bankruptcy

If you aren’t careful and make a mistake with your finances during the process of bankruptcy, there could be serious consequences. You can handle it though. Just make sure you are smart and remember these six facts and tips. 

You Will Likely Still Have to Pay off Student Loans

Although it can relieve a lot of debt, filing bankruptcy will not actually make your student loans disappear. A lot of people believe that bankruptcy erases all debt, but barring special circumstances, your loans probably won’t be discharged. 

Do Not Obtain New Debt

If you will be filing bankruptcy, you should not take out debt or a new line of credit 70-90 days prior to filing. This is because if you know you will be filing bankruptcy, then you believe this debt will be erased. 

This means that you took out a new line of credit or new debt without any intention of paying it back. This is not only immoral, but it can actually cause your bankruptcy to be denied by the creditor. 

Do Not Repay Creditors

Most banks suggest that you do not pay back any loans within the 90 day period before you file bankruptcy. This could qualify you for a preferential transfer, which can in turn be used to get some money back from loans that have already been paid off. 

After you debts are discharged, creditors are legally prevented from trying to collect on your debts. 

Do Not Transfer Money

Do not try to transfer any money out of your account. This could make it seem as if you are trying to hide money. You cannot try to hide money or assets in any way.  Even if it you have no ill intention, do not do it because it will look like an attempt to keep some type of monetary asset. 

When you file bankruptcy, you must provide details about all of the assets you still have. You do not want it to seem as if you are trying to hide your money. If it seems you are trying to hide assets or are lying, your bankruptcy could be denied, and you could face criminal charges. 

Do Not Cash Out Savings 

If you are going through bankruptcy, it is not a good idea to try to cash out any savings. You must notify the trustee over the bankruptcy about all of your money and assets, so attempting to cash out your savings can be seen as a way to hide money. 

If you are caught doing this, your bankruptcy could be denied, and you could face criminal charges. This is illegal and is a textbook definition of theft, so instead of trying to lie, spend your efforts coming up with a plan to improve your credit and save even more after the bankruptcy is complete. 

Do Not Try to Hide Assets

Just like you do not want to transfer money or cash out savings, especially to hide it, you definitely do not want to try to hide any of your remaining assets. More valuable assets are included as part of the bankruptcy process. 

Even some things you wouldn’t think of— everything from household good to cash from worker’s compensation settlements is vulnerable. 

Do Not Delay the Process

If a professional has told you that you should file bankruptcy, make sure you take time to discuss the timeframe with them so that you can understand when you should take action. 

There are times that moving too slowly can have negative consequences on a bankruptcy, so use any resource you have on hand to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. 

Educate Yourself and Stay Engaged

Bankruptcy is a difficult process to go through no matter who you are. The best bet you have at being financially successful in a short time frame after bankruptcy is to just educate yourself about the subject as much as possible. 

Being educated and using your resources will help you make the best decisions possible. Before making any moves and take action, you want to be sure you understand all of the laws around bankruptcy and what debt it actually affects. 

Filing for bankruptcy will never be fun, but if it is the best option for you, follow these tips and continue to learn as much as you can about bankruptcy to make the process as painless as possible.

Tips for Saving for your Retirement

Saving for retirement is among the most important things you could do in your life, these savings determine how much freedom you have after you stop working. It's important to make wise investment decisions as they could pay dividends in the future. Everyone wants a relaxing, carefree retirement and with these great ideas implemented, you could achieve that dream. 

Retirement

First off, be considerate of your spending. If you see something you really want at retail price, do not buy it. Full retail pricing is the death of all savings strategies, not every shop will have the same price for the item, so shop around and compare prices online. Chances are there is someplace cheaper and whether it's $1 or $100 cheaper, it doesn't matter because the savings from that purchase goes right into your retirement pot and brings you one step closer to your dream retirement. PriceSpy.co.uk and Kelkoo.co.uk are highly recommended as product price comparison sites and search engines for online shopping. Remember, coupons are your friends. 

Second up is using Individual Savings Accounts, these are accounts which are designed for saving as per the name. ISAs are special and valuable because they don't charge tax on the interest you accumulate. You can transfer money freely and never have to worry about losing your tax-free status. In 2017 and 2018, it's possible to gain up to £20,000 from tax in Individual Savings Accounts in the form of cash or stocks. That's a huge upfront amount right in your pocket.

Thirdly, pensions are a common subject when it comes to saving for retirement. A private pension offers well-needed tax relief on your payments and returns, these come in two forms mainly - a personal and work pension. 

A workplace pension is on your employer to contribute savings to your account and recently, this pension has seen a positive boost in terms of availability because of new rules. Any and all employees aged between 22 and 60 earning a salary equal or higher than £10,000 must be offered a workplace pension. The most hailed benefit of this pension is that you in combination with your employer contribute to the fund, most companies pay from 3% to 10% of your salary into the pension fund.

Now a personal pension is a little different, these can be changed by hand throughout your career while the provider will commonly give entry to a large range of investment funds. This gives you greater freedom in which scheme you want to apply, unlike the workplace pension, which is restricted to your company's choosing. 

A self-invested pension has the longest list of investment options but whatever pension and provider you choose in the end, make sure it's the right one for you and you understand the details perfectly. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for you to shop around and compare plans, doing so will give you much insight into charges and overall investment performance. Another important thing to note is that you can claim tax relief on the first £40,000 you earn.

Investing To Win Big

The term ‘investing’ can include a large and varied list of items and interests that you become financially involved in, but that all should make you a profit without having to lift a finger. A smart investment will bring in profit, no matter how big or small, however, investing is always going to have risks, which is why it’s always a good idea to spread your money out across multiple enterprises, rather than lumping it all into one. The rewards could be smaller, but any losses would be smaller too.  You can invest in material things, or in the stock market - however you choose to invest, remember only to do so if you are in possession of all the facts. You can't blindly throw your money at things - unless you are incredibly lucky, you will lose it all. 

investment

Shares

The stock market is confusing; there’s no question about it. But, it can be, potentially, a very profitable thing. People make millions off the stock market every day. If you are new to the practice, then you should consult with an experienced professional before proceeding. Buying stock means buying a share (or shares) of a company which has gone public. The shares you own will either rise or fall in value and will continue to fluctuate like this for as long as the shares exist. The idea is to sell your shares while they are high in value, but you can still make a loss in the time you put them back on the market, and someone else buys them. This tends to happen if a company fails or if you hold out for too long. If you get involved in the stock market, you need to become immersed in the stock world, or have someone you trust to handle it for you. 

Property

Buying property is always a good investment. If you are buying a house to live in, then any improvements you make over time will be an investment for when you eventually sell. And when it does come time for you to sell, make sure you’re doing it at the right time; the real estate market constantly shifts between being better for the buyer or the seller. Keep an eye on the market and time it right. You can also think about going to invest in foreign property, it works the same as buying at home, but you might be able to make more money from it by renting to holiday goers. Plus the initial buy can be a lot cheaper than it is here. And, when you’re ready to move on, you can always sell it for a profit.

Wine

Wine is a material thing that can take years before it becomes profitable - purely because if you are buying an old bottle of fine wine, you are likely to be paying cost price, and so will have to wait for a few more years before that price tag increases. However, if you get your hands on a truly unique bottle, then it will always be worth more than cost price for the right buyer. Collecting wine is a practised art - you need to know your region's, your vineyards, your types of wine, and your grape years. There’s no point buying a bottle from a renowned vineyard if the harvest was below par. In all fairness, most big vineyards scrap their batches if that happens. Do the research, become familiar with the winemaking process, and how to best look after the bottles you have acquired.

A Pricey Procession: Avoiding Extortionate Funeral Costs

If there's one thing we all dread in life, it's when a loved one passes away. On top of the emotional effects you or your family would feel, the big decisions you have to make so soon after someone's death can be ovewhelming, not least the ones that relate to money, and specifically the cost of the funeral. It's at this point where people can be so consumed by grief that they may very well make an unwise decision with regards to the best way forward. Here are the best ways to make sure you are prepared for the hidden costs, as well as the ones that hide in plain sight, for funerals.

Funeral

Picking The Funeral Package

This can be a very expensive cost, depending on the service you want. There are options such as the “classic funeral”, also known as the “full service”, which can be far more expensive than you realize. And the best way to compare packages is to examine the specifics of each package, and you could also compare funeral directors with regards to the cost of each package.

Paying In Advance

Lots of people feel that they are securing a good quality service by paying in advance. However, it's important to be cautious in this respect. Sometimes it can be a better option, especially if someone is attempting to plan their own service. But extenuating circumstances can cause problems when someone has prepaid and left the surviving members of the family to foot the bill, such as if the funeral home has gone out of business. Or even the cost of inflation may mean that the surviving family members will have to pay a lot more for the service, even though it wasn't the deceased's intentions.

Purchasing The Casket

When it comes to picking a casket, consumer habits have shown that people will buy one of the first three caskets they see and is usually the mid-priced one. Believe it or not, showrooms are strategic in their displays and show the most expensive models first. It's always important to take a little bit of time to look at various models with different price ranges, and also insist on seeing the lower priced ones, especially if they are not visible to you!

Embalming: The Hidden Cost

Some people choose to have the body embalmed, which is where a body is prepared, so the disintegration is slowed down. This can be due to religious reasons, but if it's a personal preference, the fact is, this is not the case. Depending on where you are, the embalming of the body can add a significant cost to the bill. Some funeral establishments will be insistent on embalming, but it's not required by law, there are some caveats to the rule. In this respect, you should do your research on the embalming laws in your particular state.

The last thing you want to do when someone you love has passed away is to barter and bargain, but some aspects really do need thinking about, especially if you don't have the finances in place.

UK personal pension infographic: how did the UK prepare for retirement in Q4?

True Potential Investor, has produced this insightful graphic below, providing us with a glimpse into how the UK population is preparing for retirement. Results have been gathered from Q4 2016 and show that, across this particular quarter, a total of 5% of men and women contributed over £5,000 per month to their personal pension pots

Continue reading to learn more about the research undertaken by online investment company and pension specialist.

pension

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay: Here's what you need to know before you invest

Cryptocurrencies are still a relatively new investment opportunity and remain unregulated. This means that if you choose to invest, you will be entering a highly volatile marketplace and you could easily lose your entire investment. 

However, since Bitcoin changed the financial scenery back in 2009, when it first started trading, these cryptocurrencies are gaining traction and becoming an ever more popular investment option for those willing to shoulder their high risk in order to speculate for potentially massive returns. 

currency

If you aren’t sure what you are doing, the best idea is to invest in an alternative option while you learn about this intricate market and learn to identify the patterns and rhythms that cryptocurrencies follow - assuming that they do follow them! Even if you have no intention of investing, understanding these currencies now will certainly be of use in the future. 

Which Currencies Should I Look At?

Bitcoin may have been the original, but since then over 700 have appeared. Ethereum and Litecoin are among the more popular and Litecoin was the first to follow in Bitcoin’s footsteps back in 2011. The type of coin you choose is down to a few things: whether you are an individual or a business, which one you feel most confident in following closely and which your research suggests will emerge as a leader in the near future. 

Information is the key with all investments and as cryptocurrencies are such a new form, the amount of research and information is still relatively small. This puts you at both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, you have relatively little in historic data, on the other, no one else knows how this is going to go, so the playing field is relatively level. You should use as many sources as possible to establish the value of each coin and look into trending coins to see how the market lies.

Follow the Fluctuations

Cryptocurrencies can be treated as both long term investments and used by day traders to achieve quick wins. How much you choose to invest depends on your intentions, how much you have, and how much you are prepared to lose. 

It is well worth spending a couple of weeks watching how a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin fluctuates and searching for patterns in the movement. In this time, you should also be glued to the news about cryptocurrencies, something you should already be doing as part of your research, to see what, if anything, can be identified as the cause for a sudden movement. 

Once you are comfortable following the fluctuations of the currency, then you can start to think about investing seriously. To do this, you will need to find an online wallet to store your currency and a suitable exchange site. You should never leave any currency on an exchange site, as these sites have been hacked before and you could risk losing everything. 

Cryptocurrencies have sparked a new era of economic exchange and while it is still too soon to project how global economics will be changed, it is worth getting up to speed with these currencies, even if you don’t plan to invest. They look a lot like the future and so far, they are here to stay.

How to Control Your Home Finances

The finances you are forced to pay and deal with when you own your own home can spiral out of control if you allow them to. But, you're not going to allow them to spiral out of control, are you? No, you’re going to control your home finances. Better still, you're going to take the expert advice below that will teach you how to do so!

You need to buy yourself time when it comes to debts

It’s easy to find yourself in debt when you’re a homeowner, so don’t worry if you ever do. But, what you should be worried about is (excuse the pun) buying yourself as much time as possible in order to pay off these debts.

Home Finances

In order to do this, you should never be afraid to ask for financial assistance in order to scrape enough money together to pay off the serious debts that you owe; you should not be afraid to borrow money until you are in a comfortable enough position to pay back both the money you have borrowed and the money you owe in debt. Now, this financial assistance could come from your loved ones, such as your parents, or it could come from a professional borrowing and lending company, such as personalloan.co. Just know that no matter the borrowing route you take, you will have to pay the money that you borrow back within a deadline.

Make sure you are in control of your taxes

Taxes are one of the biggest reasons why home finances spiral out of control so easily, so you need to ensure that you are in control of yours.

When it comes to being in control of your taxes, first of all you should ensure that you set yourself up with a tax recording book. In this book you should record everything regarding your tax outgoings and incomings and any changes in the taxing rules of your country of residence. Simply, to stay in control of your taxes make sure you are aware of everything in regards to them.

And, of course, try not to make any of the tax mistakes found here.

Stay smart when it comes to home insurance

Home insurance is another necessary outgoings that can plunge your home finances into peril, but not if you stay smart in regards to them.

When it comes to staying smart with your home insurance, the first thing that you should be doing is looking to save as much money on it as possible. To do this, look into ways in which you can combine this particular the of insurance with the other insurances that you pay, such as your car insurance or gadget insurance — by bundling them together in this way (many insurers actually offer these types of bundles, by the way) you stand yourself in good stead to saving a load of cash on your premiums.

Your home finances can and will spiral out of control if you let them; make sure you don’t let your finances spiral in this way by controlling them and taking the advice found above. 

And, once you've controlled your home finances, you should then turn your attention to maximising the money in your home.

4 Things To Watch Out For When Viewing A Rental Property

Real estate is one of the best investment opportunities at the moment. Rent is at an all time high so as a landlord, you stand to make a lot of money. But it’s not as easy as that. If you don’t pick the right property you’ll struggle to find tenants and you’ll just be losing money. Properties have a lot of hidden problems that are easily overlooked but will put tenants off renting the place. Here is a quick checklist of things to look out for when you’re viewing a rental property

Rental Property

Location 

Don’t just focus on the property itself because tenants will base a large part of their decision on the location of the property. If there are no good shops or schools nearby, you’re going to struggle. It’s also worth getting to know the area because, as a place gets popular the prices will increase until people are priced out and they’ll start moving to a cheaper, up and coming neighborhood instead. Buying a house in an area that’s on the rise, while prices are still relatively cheap, is the best way to make maximum profit on the property. It’s worth speaking to planning consultants who have a good understanding of the housing market and extensive knowledge of which areas are worth buying in, and which aren’t. They’ll be able to help you decide on a good location for your new property.  

Cracks 

There’s nothing wrong with buying a house that needs a little work. It’s a good way of keeping the price down. However, you should only invest in a property that needs cosmetic work, avoid anywhere that is going to need expensive structural repairs. Cracks in the walls and ceilings are one of the biggest indicators of serious damage to the house so always be on the lookout. When a real estate agent is showing you around, they might try to hide these cracks by moving furniture around so always make sure you’re having a good look in all the corners and behind wardrobes etc. 

Size Of The Rooms 

This is an obvious one and it’s probably one of the first things you notice when you’re looking at a house, but be aware, there are ways to make a room look bigger than it is. Cleverly placed mirrors or a good furniture arrangement can create the illusion of space in small rooms. When you go in there, note any mirrors and try to imagine the space with different furniture arrangements in there to get a sense of the actual size of the rooms. 

The Roof 

The state of the roof is a good indicator of how well the previous owners have maintained the property in general. Damage to the roof can also cause all sorts of other problems inside the house so if you buy a property with holes in the roof, you’ll be paying for those repairs plus a whole lot more. You can easily end up losing money if you have to put loads into fixing up the house so always ask about the state of the roof. 

Real estate is a good way to make a lot of money but if you buy a house with one of these problems, you’ll make it a lot harder for yourself.

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 Medicare

People 65 and older are eligible for Medicare. If you're under 65, you could be eligible for Medicare if you have end-stage renal disease, ALS, or have received Social Security Disability Insurance for 24 months. .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.

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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.