Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tips to Financially Survive the Wedding Season Without Stressing Out

How frequently have you gone to a wedding despising the measure of cash you have needed to spend for it? When one wedding is so substantial on your pocket, the whole wedding season can truly humiliate you monetarily! Be that as it may, you can be cheerful for the couple entering wedlock, and with yourself for making it to the wedding on a financial plan. Yes, you can without a doubt

Research suggests that attending one wedding can leave you $500 lighter (spending on yourself, your clothes, the gift, and other miscellaneous expenses). And this does not include travel expenses in case you have to travel to another city for the wedding. While insurmountable expenses are inevitable for the couple headed into wedded bliss, for the guests attending the wedding, the day(s) can be saved. You are obviously going to have to shell out a few bucks for the gift, your attire, and the parties before and after, but these can be controlled significantly by one simple measure – planning! Head into the wedding season without a plan, and you won’t know what hit your savings. On the other hand, a little planning, even though it may end up with you going slightly out of budget, will keep you within spending limits and help you get through the wedding season financially. To make a plan, consider the following questions:

  • How many weddings have you been invited to?
  • How many weddings do you absolutely HAVE to attend?
  • How many involve the same group of guests?
  • How many people are you close to among the guests?

Why is this important you ask? So that you can prepare a budget, your wardrobe, choose a gift, and make travel plans accordingly.

Is Attendance Necessary?
Bombarded with too many invitations? Choose the weddings you genuinely want to attend above the ones you know you could give a miss. You don’t have to feel guilty for missing someone’s wedding. Wouldn’t you rather spend more on your buddy’s big day than for someone you’re not so close to? Just politely decline the invitation at the appropriate time so that the couple can make arrangements accordingly.

Dress Up or Dress Down

Most of us end up spending a lot of money on clothes for the wedding of someone we may not be very close to. But there are ways in which you can look your best at a wedding without having to make a hole in your pocket. Consider the following factors when deciding on your outfit for the event.

  • The Venue: This will decide whether you are going to wear a simple, light floral dress, or a designer cocktail dress; a pair of linen pants and a simple, light shirt or a formal suit, and how much you technically have to spend.
  • Can You Repeat your Outfit at Multiple Weddings?: This is possible if the group of guests attending one wedding are unlikely to be present at another wedding. This makes it easier for you to repeat your outfit. (Of course, you may have to deal with being tagged in multiple pictures on Facebook in the same outfit.)
  • Can you Borrow?: So if you know that the same group of guests will be attending, or if you can’t stand the thought of being tagged in the same outfit at different weddings, consider exchanging outfits with your friends so that you have something new to wear without having to spend much.
  • Your Closeness with the Couple: You are expected to dress in a particular way if you are closer to the bride or groom or both of them. For a wedding where you aren’t so close to the couple, you may tone it down a little and save some bucks.
  • Mix and Match: If you can fish out a good skirt and accessories, then all you have to do is find a good blouse. Or if you have a simple dress, you can jazz it up with a good belt and a nice pair of shoes. If you find the right jacket, you can get a good shirt and trousers to go with it. Sometimes even a good tie can make all the difference. If you can find even one item in your closet, it saves you that amount, and you get to sport a unique look at every wedding.
  • How Good You are at Doing Your Own Hair and Makeup: This one is specific to women. If you aren’t good at it, learn from online tutorials. There’s no way you can survive the wedding season on a budget if you go for professional services all the time.
  • Why not Rent Your Outfit?: If you can’t afford to buy a different outfit for different occasions, you don’t have clothes that you can mix and match, and you can’t wear the same outfit at different weddings, rent your outfit. You’ll find it at half the price as compared to retail stores, and can hence save a lot of money.

What about the Gift?

You just can’t go to a wedding without a gift. But there are lots of things that count as gifts and don’t cost too much. Try out these ideas.

  • Rush to the Gift Registry: If the couple has signed up at a gift registry, try getting there as early as possible to get the good and the less expensive stuff for them.
  • Chip in for a Bigger, Better Gift: This is why you need to know lots of other people who will be attending the wedding. Get together and buy a gift that will truly wow the couple! This way you don’t have to spend too much money, yet you get to give them a great gift!
  • Make Something Yourself: If you are really close to the couple, and you know they will appreciate the effort, make something for them yourself. Use your knowledge or learn how to do it through the Internet, and give them your love and affection through your handmade gift.
  • Offer your Help/Services as a Gift: If you think you can’t afford expensive gifts, offer to help the couple with the wedding arrangements and ensure that they know this is your gift to them. For instance, if you know people and can pull strings to get one of the many things they badly want for their wedding (such as a particular decorator, a band, or even an ice sculpture at a discount), this could be a perfect gift for them. Also, if you are involved in the planning, you can help save the couple’s and your own costs in certain areas, e.g. if it is a destination wedding, you can get bulk discounts by making bookings for the entire group.

When the Wedding is Out of Town

This is when it can get real difficult. While some couples are generous enough to make arrangements for all their guests, there are some that can’t. In such a case, you’re left to fend for yourself. How do you make the most of this situation?

  • Chip in for Bulk Discounts: Yet another reason knowing other people attending the wedding can help. Bigger bookings help get better discounts. It’s as simple as that.
  • Be the Early Bird and Save: The sooner you make your bookings, the cheaper they will be. This may not be feasible for everyone, but if you can travel on an off-peak day, you can even save flight costs to a certain extent. Lots of websites offer packages at discounted rates which you can make the most of in the financially burdening wedding season.
  • Stay with your Friends/Acquaintances: If you know someone in the place you are traveling to and who will willingly put you up for a couple of days, you my friend, have struck gold and saved a LOT of money. Of course, remember to repay your friend/acquaintance with a nice gift, or offer to do the same for them when they come to your town.

The best way to avoid getting hit unawares in the wedding season is to plan, and to save. You have to keep some amount aside if you know weddings are coming up and you just can’t avoid them. Finally, don’t let the expenses bog you down. Just go and have a good time at these weddings and give yourself a break!

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

unduhan-24How frequently have you gone to a wedding despising the measure of cash you have needed to spend for it? When one wedding is so substantial on your pocket, the whole wedding season can truly humiliate you monetarily! However, you can be glad for the couple entering wedlock, and with yourself for making it to the wedding on a financial plan. Yes, you can to be sure.

The root cause of most of our problems, is that we are never satisfied with what we have. We want more. And more. And more. And some more… It just doesn’t stop, this wanting. Which is OK. But, what’s NOT OK, is the instant gratification of these wants. Actually, that could be termed OK too, as long as you are spending within your means. So what is it that is not OK, you ask? Well, it is when you are spending beyond your means, to live the way you want to. When you do not have the money, yet you spend on that extra purse, or cell phone, or that gorgeous dress, or a new car, or whatever. Before you know it, you have used up your money in debit cards, so you turn to your credit cards, reach your credit limit, and now you have those terribly annoying warning letters, flooding your letter box and crowding your email. Reminds you of the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic? There is a very thin line between living paycheck to paycheck, and the above described scenario. It can vanish far too easily, and before you can say ‘damn’, you’ve been hauled into the credit bandwagon. The only way to prevent this from happening is to change your spending habits, and start saving now. Let’s look at some easy ways to earn quick money in times of need, and then we’ll take a look at how to avoid such situations.

Ways to Earn Quick Money

Garage Sales

This is a quick way of getting some cash in your hand, as well as get rid of all the things in your house that you no longer need. Thinking practically in such cases, is more beneficial than thinking emotionally. Avoid storing unnecessary junk, furniture or knickknack in your house that occupies space, needs maintenance and does not serve any purpose. Best to give it away to someone who can find good use for it. You don’t need any money to host a garage sale, and it is the best way to kill two birds with one stone!

Small Home Businesses

Small home businesses that require no/ very little investment, can be a great way of adding to your income. Maybe you could start selling your paintings, if you are good at drawing and painting. Or if you have good culinary skills, then you can try making and selling cakes or other food stuff. If you are interested in photography and have a personal photo collection, you can also try selling your photos to magazines or newspapers. Or you can babysit for people’s kids for a couple of hours every day, like a mini creche. If you have other hobbies that can help you make money, cash on them.

Temporary Jobs

If you are good with the written word, there are sites that allow you to generate content for them, for some pay. Or, you could get a temporary job at a department or food outlet, for a couple of months to tide you over. There are many other small jobs that you can take up, like working at a library or a bookstore, or take part/ volunteer in clinical research studies at a local hospital, take care of people’s houses when they are out-of-town (water their plants, clean their houses, mow their lawns etc.) Start a blog or monetize your already existing blog, walk people’s dogs for them, clean driveways, shovel snow, etc. You can come up with a lot of ideas once you get started.

Home Tutoring

Starting coaching classes in your home is a great way to supplement your income. Start classes of subjects which you like and are good at. Guitar classes, Math and English classes, arts and crafts classes for kids, etc. The options are endless. Put all your creativity and talents to good use, and spread the knowledge. This can also turn out to be a successful way of self employment, and a great long term venture as well.

Ending Paycheck to Paycheck Lifestyle

The following options will help you get away from the dreaded and risky, paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. When you are living life on the edge, you are just one disaster away from slipping into the credit driven lifestyle. You do not have any nest egg for an emergency, and have to flounder around when one strikes. If you follow the following tips, it will slowly and surely lead you away from this lifestyle, and give you some buffer to fall back on when you really need it, without having to ask for a loan. These are some easy changes and tips that you can start implementing right away, and reap the rewards. Here goes…

Stop Taking Loans and Borrowing Money

Yes, this has to be done right away, no matter how desperately you think you need the money. Except, if it is for some medical emergency. This is the worst habit of the lot which puts you in debt, and 9 out of 10 times, it is quite unnecessary. Do not ask for money for things that you don’t need or you already have.

Make a List of Your Debts

The next step is to see how much you have borrowed, and how much is still left to be paid back. Make this list starting with the least amount that has to be paid back to someone, going up to the highest amount, in that order. Why? Because, if you start with the biggest amount, it will take a lot of time to pay it back, and you may lose motivation. Starting with small amounts makes it easier, and you feel a sense of achievement when you tick off the debts one by one. It will keep motivating you to continue, till you have scratched out all the debts. Make this list, and put it up where you can see it as often as possible.

Cut Down Unnecessary Expenditure

Keep track on the money you spend, and then try to spend less money every day. See where the money is going, address all the cracks, and stop all the unnecessary expenditure. Eating out, shopping, going to movies and other entertainment activities really burn a hole in your pocket. You can also save on fuel expenditure, by car pooling. Stop buying things that you already have, just because they are on sale and you are getting a good discount. You will be amazed by how much money you save, once you cut down these unnecessary expenditures.

Decide and Stick to Minimum Expenditure

Based on the amount of money you spend on things like groceries, fuel, mobile, etc., decide the limit of these expenses. Then keep the money for each item separately, so that it is easier to keep track of how much you are using, how fast you are using it, and whether you are managing to save some. This will help in saving money and give you a fair idea of how much you spend on a particular thing. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are spending until we see it written down, and then we balk. Separating the money for every individual expenditure, is a good way of keeping a tab on yourself.

Make a Budget

Make a list of all the things you need for the month, and their approximate costs. Then add up all the expenses and see the final amount. Include only those things you think that you cannot do without, and not things you want to indulge in. If you need groceries, toiletries, fuel, etc., then that can be added, but a separate allowance for entertainment shopping, eating out, and the like, shouldn’t be included, when you are trying to cut expenditure and save money. Remember, that the point of this whole exercise is to make a minimalist budget. The total amount of the monthly budget should be a lot less than your monthly income. You will break away from living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, only when this happens.

Do Not Use Your Debit and Credit Cards Unnecessarily

Credit and debit cards are the devil’s inanimate forms for those of you who are planning to save money. Firstly, have only one credit card to your name. That’s it. Scrap all other cards. Carrying more than one, is simply inviting the temptation to use it. You don’t need more than one card, not really, so just give them up. Secondly, debit is OK, but use your credit card only and only in case of emergencies. Having a credit card doesn’t mean you can spend. And you shouldn’t.

Start a Savings Account

This is a very important part of the process. Whatever money you save every month – and you should be saving more and more by following the tips mentioned above – put into your savings account. Do not use this money to indulge yourself. It is much more satisfying to see the money piling up in your account, than to see a new handbag in your wardrobe, or a watch on your hand. I just cannot stress the importance of saving! Save! Every penny that you do not spend, put in your account, because every penny that you put in your account takes you further away from financial crises.

Maintain Separate Accounts

While you are at it, you may as well make two separate accounts. One for your savings, and the other for emergencies. At the end of each month or even week, take your savings and divide them 70-30. Put 70% in savings, and the 30% in your emergency account. Do not use the funds from the emergency account, if those from the savings account are over. Keep them for crunch situations, like medical emergencies, accidents, sudden travel, or other unplanned emergencies.

Avoid Fines and Over Insuring Things, and Pay Bills Online

When you do not make your credit card payments on time, you are fined. Ditto with various bills. Best to pay these bills, amounts and installments on time, so that you do not have to spend any unnecessary money for covering their fines. Also, it is easier to pay bills, and carry out all the monetary transactions online. You save not only money, but also the time, energy and fuel required to go to the separate offices to pay the bills. Sometimes, you tend to pay too much insurance for something that doesn’t require it. This is an added burden on your paycheck, and can be eliminated quite easily. Avoid over insuring your possessions.

Plan Ahead and Set Goals

Plan your expenses for the future, and start saving for them now. If you have children, or are planning to have them soon, then start saving for their education and other expenses. If you want to take any holidays after your retirement, save for that. Even for your retirement itself, you will need to save enough money for daily/ monthly expenses, so that you do not have to depend on your kids for financial support. These are crucial expenses, and there is absolutely no point putting off saving for them, to sometime later. The sooner you start, the better.

Supplement Your Income

I’ve already given you a few ideas of how to start a home business, without much initial investment. There are hundreds of other ideas that you can explore, or you can come up with unique ideas of your own. Start brainstorming. If you have managed to save some money, then you can think of starting other home businesses on a slightly bigger scale, that require a little investment on your part, but those that are a good source of income. Catering, testing video games, making jewelry and candles and selling them, organizing parties, etc., can be a few options to consider.

Downgrade to Practical Things Instead of Flashy Things

If you are a couple staying in a three bedroom house, ask yourself whether you can do with a smaller house. If you own a flashy car that eats up a lot of fuel, maybe you could get one that is more practical, economically? These are really big changes though, and you may not want to even think about them. But if you analyze these things you will find out, that downgrading will seriously reduce your expenditure. Maintenance of big, expensive things is equally expensive, and if you can do with something smaller, nothing better. Cheers to you! You can save a huge amount of money this way, your savings will pile up substantially every month, and before you know it, you will have a nest egg for a rainy day!

Saving money is a skill, and there are many ways to save money on a tight budget. It is all about managing your expenditure, and making sure that you are spending a lot less than you are earning. With practice you will acquire the skill in no time, after which a monthly or weekly budget won’t scare you or put you off. You may, in fact, find it difficult to manage without one! So curtail your expenses, and start saving right away. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Ways to Become Independently Wealthy

Who wouldn’t like a leisurely life, without the 9-5 grind, free of meeting the deadline or completing targets. You would probably find a majority of people desiring it and even succeeding at it to some extent. Yet, you would find a minority who simply have to grind it out just to make ends meet and safeguard their future. If you find yourself in a similar situation, wouldn’t it be preferable to have some cash stashed away for difficult times so that you can be financially independent?

And before your crafty mind starts thinking of how much money is needed to be independently wealthy, let me tell you, there isn’t a fixed number or amount. Financial independence is something that is achieved step-by-step, not all at once. While there are suggestions that financial independence and being independently wealthy are different, the underlying fact is that both goals target financial security. The paragraphs below will give you some ideas about this concept.

Steps to Become Independently Wealthy

Save, Save, and Save

  • Regarded as the oldest rule in the book, this step is the first to become financially stable.
  • Save a part of your income/salary (a substantial part), in fact, do not consider it be your income/salary at all, do not touch that money.
  • Apart from spending for mandatory household necessities, try to avoid buying something luxurious, something you can do without. Before you purchase anything, weigh the necessity of that object/good at that point of time.
  • Again, this depends on the kind of lifestyle you lead, which in turn depends on your family, their monetary requirements, etc.
  • For example, if you live alone and have no family obligations (at that point of time), then you can save rather easily. But, if you have extra bills to pay, many mouths to feed, and other expenses to meet (a sick family member, college fees, etc.), then your saving strategies should be carefully thought out.
  • Let’s say, you are married and have a kid. Your total expenditure per month would include household expenses, your kid’s education, taxes, insurance, an outing once in a while, etc. If your spouse also earns, the combined income/salary would help save quite a bit, if not, you have to plan your expenses such that you save a significant amount.
  • Ideally, it would be better to start saving as early as possible so that you are in a better prepared financially to tackle any unforeseen expenses that may arise in future.
  • That said, do not stop enjoying life. Save enough, spend wise.

Investments

  • Irrespective of whatever you do to earn a living, investing wisely is the magic key to a golden future.
  • The money you save should not lie idle; remember, no money is good money if it does not fetch an interest.
  • Therefore, read and research on whatever investing strategies there are.
  • Another point, always understand the concepts of inflation before investing. If an item is worth USD 100 today, its cost may probably double or triple in a decade.
  • Certificates of deposit (CD) are a great way to save a large amount of money, since you are offered a higher interest rate than that of a regular checking account.
  • There are many types of CDs, and you need to choose one that you feel is safe for you.
  • Again, CDs have their own disadvantages, like higher penalties and lesser risk.
  • Stocks and shares are a great investment option, but DO NOT invest in them unless you know how the share market works.
  • Investing in stocks can be tricky, and you need to have sufficient experience and capital under your belt. Consider this investment option later in your life, when you can afford to take a higher risk.
  • There are different saving accounts, mutual funds, equities, annuities, bonds, insurance policies, and other investment options that can fetch you a decent return after a sufficient period.
  • You have to consider a number of factors, like recession, market position, interest rate, etc., while investing in any scheme.
  • Another important step is to have a tentative plan in place, as to how much money you intend to have as a safety deposit, depending on your lifestyle, inflation, and other factors. Accordingly, choose a proper investment strategy.

Real Estate

  • Investing in real estate is a risky, yet assured way of earning money.
  • A piece of advice before proceeding though, always, I mean, always research the market well before investing in this field.
  • The property business changes according to the prevalent economic situation.
  • However, if the market is favorable, remember that a piece of land is one of those assets that never depreciates in value with the passage of time. Ask any wealthy individual, and he will attest that a property worth, say USD 100,000 today, will be much more in just a few years time.
  • This is true with every kind of property―apartments, villas, farms, etc. Unless, of course, the land has some issues, like it is in a marshy area or flood-prone area.
  • Beg or borrow, do anything, but buy that piece of real estate without delay.
  • You can work out a plan with the bank or any other financial institution to pay off the loan in periodic installments.
  • With time, the value of that land is bound to increase, and one day, you will be in a position to lease it out for a substantial amount, or even better, sell it for a much higher price than the original, and reinvest the lump sum.
  • Even while you are paying the EMI, you are still the legal owner of the property, which means that you can lease it out the moment you gain possession.
  • If you have invested in an apartment, and you already have a place to live in, get the house registered and look out for tenants.
  • This will give you a regular extra income every month, help pay your home loan, and leave you with alternative investment strategies.
  • Remember though, that real estate investment is not a piece of cake, be very careful with the legalities, conduct a thorough investigation and then proceed. This holds true for the tenants too; look for a decent family to rent out, instead of leasing it out to someone who may have a police record or a dubious past.

A Safety Net

  • Always, I mean always, try to create a second source of income. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a food runner or a corporate junkie, have a passive source from where you can generate money.
  • The other source may or may not generate much income, but it still is income. It will help you tide over difficult times.
  • You could be an independent freelancer, blogger, illustrator, etc., anything that allows you contribute some time from your regular routine.
  • Apart from keeping your home fire burning, this will give you the financial strength and the encouragement you need.
  • Because you have two sources of income, your boredom will vanish, as you will look forward to working on something else for a change, something you enjoy doing.

Entrepreneurship

  • Starting your own business can be another source of income, but here, you have quite a bit at stake.
  • To begin with, a business venture requires a worthwhile idea or market, besides running a business/venture/enterprise successfully is a totally different ball game.
  • Depending on the type of business, you will need sufficient initial equity. Moreover, you need contacts.
    If you think you can do this, start small, and without initial expectations.
  • Begin by planning what you plan to do. That is to say, whether you want to start your own catering business or a chocolate/cake-making business, even scrap dealing, etc.
  • Accordingly, begin by advertising your business/service to friends and family and on social networking sites. Supply product samples and record feedback.
  • You must know to manage your time extremely well, since you have to contribute a lot of time initially until the venture is stable enough.
  • Any business venture always runs the risk of failure and closure; therefore, do not place all your bets on the same.
  • Once you have established a loyal clientele and steady stream of customers, you can think of ways to improve your business, as well as learn to wrap up things quicker than before.

To conclude, understand that there are many methods to become rich, but saving more and spending less is one sure and probably the best way to become independently wealthy. Yet, as mentioned before, do not scrimp so much so that your life becomes dull. In the process of making your future colorful, do not make your present colorless. Learn to balance. All the best!

Tips to Raising Funds for Small Businesses

Getting the fundamental assets to kick-begin your little business start-up can be a significant testing errand. In any case, before you get crestfallen, lets first investigate what the numbers need to say. The normal little business start-up cost to wind up a partner advertiser for example, is some place around $250, which is a little venture when contrasting it and a $30,000 money store, that is required to begin an establishment.

But when you take into consideration all the other additional monthly expenses like rent, advertising, payroll and inventory, then you know that starting a small business is no ‘small’ deal. So, coming up with the necessary cash to fund your business can be very difficult when you have a car loan to pay, a mortgage to take care of, and a family to support.

Going the traditional way and opting for a loan from your bank won’t really get you very far, especially when you consider the fact that they don’t like lending out money to start-up businesses that have no assets or history. But, again do not let this dampen your spirit. It is time to take a look at all your personal assets. You never know, you might actually already have the required ‘wealth’ to get your small business started.

Sources for Funds

Here are some sources:

  • Life Insurance Policy
  • 401(k) Plan
  • Friends and Family
  • Credit cards

These are all potential sources that can be tapped into. In doing so, you will raise money out of your own resources. It will give you full control over your money. And this control is the very thing you wanted in the first place right? That’s why you chose to become an entrepreneur!

If you do have a life insurance policy, then you can put it to work. Though it sounds weird, think about it – a life insurance policy will provide money to your family and spouse in the vent of your death. What most people don’t know is that you can actually borrow against the cash value of the life insurance policy, and then pay it back at flexible rates, on your own terms.

Next, you have the 401(k) Plan from your previous employer – all those monthly statements that you filed away so diligently but never cared to even look at. Though the whole concept of borrowing money from friends and family to start your business may sound like a simple one because you already have an inbuilt level of comfort and trust with them, but you need to understand that there are many risks involved as well. If things go smoothly, then you’ll probably be the Donald Trump or the entrepreneurial king of your family or your friend circle. But, if your business goes down the drain, then it will put stress on the relations you had with those closest to you. So, is this risk worth taking?

Now, take a long hard look at your credit card. The one that you used to buy that dinner, your computer, and those new shoes – yes this credit card can help you get your business off the ground. If none of these resources work for you, then you can always take the traditional route and opt for bank loans.

Business Loans Available

  • Long-term loans are probably the most common types of loans available. These loans can be used as a working capital funding source and you can repay them on a monthly basis over a term agreed with your bank or financial institution.
  • Short-term loans on the other hand are supposed to be repaid within a year in a lump sum, instead of monthly.
  • Credit lines are usually used for working capital funding. Instead of granting you the entire loan amount, the financial institution will give you a certain amount each year.

Some Other Sources

When looking around for small business funding resources, your bank should be your first stop, especially if you have a history of working together before. Familiarity does go a long way in clearing any insecurities and doubts. There are many other types of lenders as well, the only differentiating factor between each of them would be the kind of loan they grant – secured or unsecured. Banks grant unsecured loans, while financial institutions are in favor of secured ones.