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Simple ways to save money

Simple ways to save money

Set a savings goal

Whether you’re saving for a holiday, home renovations or want a little extra in the bank for a rainy day, having a savings goal will help you get there.

Work out how much money you need and how long it will take you to save.

Have a savings plan

The secret to saving is start early and save often. Create a savings plan so you can manage your money and stick to your goal.

Know where your money is going

Have a clear picture of your regular expenses and spending habits. This helps you see where you can cut back and save. For example, cancel an unused gym membership or bring your lunch to work. It may surprise you how little things add up.

See track your spending for practical ways to get started.

Start a budget

Once you know how you’re spending your money, you can set a realistic budget. Your budget will help you to stay on track, review your progress and reach your money goals sooner.

See how to do a budget to get started.

Pay off some debt

If you have some money left over after your regular expenses, use it to make extra repayments towards any credit card debt or loans you have.

Paying off your debts sooner can save you thousands in interest. Pay off the one with the highest interest rate first.

11 INSANELY EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

11 INSANELY EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

Just like kitchen garbage, financial waste can pile up – leaving you with little room for your future. Whether you live month-to-month or enjoy living the luxury lifestyle, you can make some simple adjustments to change your path.

No matter how much money you make, limiting financial waste will always leave you better off.

When you save more money, you have more money to invest.

And, if you have more money to invest, you can use the magic of compounding interest to become the next Warren Buffet.

Whether you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or swimming in cash, you can make some simple adjustments to skyrocket your future.

SAVING MONEY IS IMPORTANT FOR EVERYONE

Yes, saving money is important for everyone…even the wealthy.

I recently met with a client who is financially successful. While income fluctuated, his annual earnings occasionally reached seven figures.

But, there was a problem. He spent most of the money he made.

Unfortunately, this describes most retirement savers in the U.S.

Fortunately, we were able to get our clients back on track in a hurry.

As their financial planners, we combed over their spending to figure out where their money was going and to find opportunities for them to save more.

11 SIMPLE TIPS AND TRICKS TO SAVE MONEY

Today, I’m sharing some of these suggestions with you. While not all of these money-saving strategies will apply to you, many of them could.

If you implement even a few of these tips, you could potentially save a bundle and set yourself up for a money-infused future.

1. STOP LEASING YOUR CAR

When it comes to saving money, some people just can’t give up their expensive wheels. And that might be okay as long as you’re not overspending in order to drive a fancy car.

To save money, it usually makes more sense to buy used – or even buy new – versus leasing.

Ideally, you’ll want to purchase a car you can keep for the long run.

Why?

Because, if you pay your loan payment long enough, you will eventually own your vehicle free and clear.

With leasing, however, you will never own your vehicle. You’ll make monthly payments in perpetuity, and you won’t build any equity along the way.

The bottom line: Stop leasing! Buy a car instead, and look for models dependable enough that you can keep them for a decade or longer.

2. ASK FOR A DISCOUNT

I can hear my mom now, “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”

She was right. And this tip has saved me thousands of dollars and counting. You can approach it two ways:

  • Proactively
  • Reactively

Proactively: Call the customer service department of a vendor you make regular payments to such as cable TV, cell phone carriers, or trash service. Thank them for their wonderful service and then … ask for a discount.

It’ll take five minutes. One five-minute phone call can result in years of savings.

Reactively: Let me preface by saying this is not an attempt to get out paying for a service you most certainly owe money for. If you requested a service and you are happy with the result, pay your bill 🙂

With that out of the way, we have all received a bill that caught us off guard. Yesterday, my wife received a bill in the mail for a test she agreed to have done. To her surprise, insurance did not cover it and she was billed $500.

My wife wanted to pay the bill and move on. I asked her to call and politely ask for a discount.

The result? They took $300 off!

How many times have you neglected to make a quick phone call because you were too busy? You might be missing out on hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars.

3. STOP OVERSPENDING ON CLOTHING

Do you really need new clothes? Maybe. Maybe not.

If your current wardrobe is sufficient and in good condition, consider how long you can go without purchasing anything new.

Three months? Six months? Could you go a whole year?

You could save tons of money by getting creative with the pieces you already have. And you’ll save lots of time shopping, too.

4. WATCH YOUR ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET

Does it cost money to have fun? Sometimes it absolutely does. You have to pay to get into a concert, after all, and nobody is going to let you into your local theme park for free.

Then again, there are plenty of ways to have fun for free.

If you’re angling to save money, try experimenting with a $0 entertainment budget for one month. See how much fun you can have without spending any money. Some fun (and free) things include:

  • bike rides or hikes
  • building a fort out of couch cushions and sheets
  • finding a Meetup group that matches your interests
  • visiting a local museum on “free day”
  • taking your kids to the park or playground
  • playing a board game or doing a puzzle
  • breaking out the sprinklers and hoses
  • starting a small garden with seeds from a local seed share program

You get the point. There are plenty of ways to save money and still have fun, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

5. CUT DOWN ON DINING OUT

It’s astonishing how much eating out can eat up your budget!

If you’re not sure how to get out of the dining out trap, there are some fantastic recipe apps and online resources.

While it can be difficult to learn how to cook if you don’t have a lot of skills or time, there are plenty of recipes that are easy and nutritious.

If you need to make things as easy as possible, getting a crockpot or Instant Pot can also help. There are plenty of recipes for both that let you throw in your ingredients and push “start.” It doesn’t get any more convenient or cheap than that.

6. CONFRONT YOUR FANCY FRIENDS

The two tips we listed above – limiting dining out and cutting your entertainment budget – can be difficult to execute when you have other high-spending friends. Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean your friends are.

Unfortunately, peer pressure can be the death knell for your efforts if you’re not careful. That’s why, like it or not, you should probably tell your friends about your new spending and savings goals.

If you don’t, you’ll continue getting invitations to fancy dinners and parties that will throw your budget out of whack.

By starting an honest conversation with your friends, you may convince them to choose frugal things to do with you. Instead of going out to dinner, for example, you can plan a potluck and game night or have a BBQ at a local park.

7. KEEP TRACK OF MISCELLANEOUS SPENDING

Sometimes, money disappears without us knowing where we spent it. This is usually because we get busy and spend without any sort of plan.

If you want to stay on track with your financial goals, it’s important to make sure you’re not wasting $20 here and $15 there.

Psst…pick up these free budgeting resources:

  1. Detailed Cash Flow Worksheet (Download Excel Template)
  2. Simple Budget Worksheet (Download Printable PDF)

Here are some additional tips that can help:

  • Track your expenses to see where your money is going. Find out if you really need what you’re buying.
  • Get on a budget. Your budget doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should have a basic spending plan for the money you earn each month.
  • If credit cards make you overspend, try using cash or debit only for a month. Doing so forces you to accept what you’re spending money on in that moment.

8. FIND AN ALTERNATIVE TO CABLE TELEVISION

If you’re a millennial, you’ve likely never even paid a cable bill unless you’re a huge sports fan. But, even sports fans now have options for “cutting the cord” of the cable company.

If you’re tired of your pricey cable or satellite tv bill, consider ditching your cable company for NetflixHulu PlusAmazon Prime, or Sling.

You can also get an over-the-air antenna to get free TV.

Heck, you can even catch NFL football games for free.

9. DIY YOUR GRUNT WORK

Why pay someone when you can do-it-yourself for free?

If you’re forking over a ton of cash for a cleaning service, it can pay off to save that money and clean your own house for a while.

Got minors in the house? You could also put those kids to work!

By assigning cleaning chores to your kids, you can teach them about hard work. The experience of tidying up the house will also prepare them for when they’re out of the nest.

The same advice rings true for the work around the home, including gardening or home improvement projects.

Spend time in your own yard and you’ll receive several benefits. Not only will you get fresh air, but you’ll connect with the Earth and save money!

10. ANALYZE YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET

You can spend a ton of money on travel – or just a little bit. It all depends on your flexibility and your desire to save money.

If your goal is spending less, however, there are all kinds of strategies to consider. Tips that can help reduce your travel budget include:

11. PAY OFF DEBT

Far too many people pay only the minimums on their debts each month without ever taking the time to figure out what their debts actually cost over time.

Unfortunately, this can lead to paying hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in interest each month.

Since interest payments don’t go toward the principal of your debts, this is money down the drain.

If you really want to save money, pay off your debt.

Imagine you have $10,000 in credit card debt at 18% APR. You’ve been paying $200 each month. At that rate, you’ll pay an additional $8,622 in interest and it’ll take 94 months to pay it off.

That’s almost 8 years!

If you were able to pay off your $10,000 in credit card debt quickly by cutting your spending, on the other hand, you could avoid almost $9,000 in interest AND free up $200 in extra cash every month.

When you pay off high-interest debt, you just can’t lose.

TRY OUT NEW WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

If you’re looking for more ways to save money, don’t forget to think outside the box. Everyone’s spending habits are different, so it’s likely you’ll have some special circumstances in your life that could help you brainstorm more ways to save.

You may also want to start the process by tracking your spending for a while. Once you know where your money goes each month, it’s a lot easier to find the source of your money woes.

Even small changes can make a giant difference!

How Much Should You Save Every Month?

How Much Should You Save Every Month?

How much money should you save, as a percentage of income? The 50/30/20 rule says to save 20% of your income. But it’s not always so simple.

More than income or investment returns, your personal saving rate is the biggest factor in building financial security. But how much should you save? $50 per month? 50% of your paycheck? Nothing until you’re out of debt or can start earning more money?

Many sources recommend saving 20% of your income every month.

According to the popular 50/30/20 rule, you should reserve 50% of your budget for essentials like rent and food, 30% for discretionary spending, and at least 20% for savings. (Credit for the 50/30/20 rule goes to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who reportedly used to teach it when she was a bankruptcy professor.)

We agree with the recommendation to save 20% of your monthly income. But it’s not always that simple to suggest the right percentage of income for YOU to save.

If, for example, you’re a high earner, you’d be wise to keep your expenses low and save a much larger percentage of your income.

On the other hand, if saving 20% of your income seems implausible, or even impossible at the moment, we don’t want you to get frustrated. Saving something is better than nothing.

But if you want a shot at being secure through old age—and having some extra cash for things you want—the numbers suggest that 20% is the number you’ll want to reach or exceed.

Where should you save?

Opening an online savings account is a great way to start saving.  You’ll find some of the best rates online (vs. brick and mortar) and accessing your funds can be done from anywhere in the world.

How to Find Money for Education – For Adults and Kids

How to Find Money for Education – For Adults and Kids

Post secondary education can be expensive, but the good news is that you don’t need to pay for it all up front. By doing your homework ahead of time you can plan how best to fund your or your children’s college or university education.

In Canada we have many great options for funding student’s education. There are Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) for children, free Government money to fund RESPs, RRSP LifeLong Learning Plans for adults and scholarships and bursaries for students.

Saving for Your Child’s Education – Start Early, Sign Up for RESPs & Government Programs

The earlier you start saving for your child’s education the more money you will have to provide your child with more options. In Canada, our Provincial and Federal Governments strongly support education, and they make it easy to start saving for your child’s education as soon as your child is born.

Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)

As soon as your child is born, you can apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit. This is free money that the government gives to all parents of children under 18 (you can click here to figure out how much you are suppose to receive). You can use this money in any way you like, but if you are a new parent, a great idea is to put this money aside in a RESP for your child’s education. Most people don’t expect to receive this money, so if you weren’t planning on this money, or if you don’t have any pressing need for it, why not save it for your child’s future?

If you have a child under six years of age, you will also receive $100 per month as part of the Universal Child Care Benefit. Again if you don’t need to pay for child care for your child, than why not consider putting this money into your child’s RESP as well?

These government programs change periodically, and will gain in July 2016. Ensure that you file your income taxes to take advantage of the most up to date federal and provincial programs.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

Free Money: Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

If you contribute to an RESP for your child, even more free money is available from the government. To encourage parents to save for their children’s education, the government will match 20% of the money a parent saves in their child’s RESP each year to a maximum of $500 per year for each child. So if a parent puts $600 into their child’s RESP, the government will contribute $120 (the government is matching 20% of $600), and if a parent contributes $2,500 to their child’s RESP, then the government will contribute $500 (again 20% of $2,500). You can do this every year until your child turns 18. This is a great way to get another $500 of your taxes back every year if you happen to have $2,500 to put toward your child’s education. To learn more about the Canada Education Savings Grant, click here.

More Free Money: Canada Learning Bond

If your child was born after December 31, 2003 and your family’s net income is less than $35,595, the government will deposit $500 into your child’s RESP. All you have to do is open an RESP for your child and apply for the Canada Learning Bond. Most RESP providers will apply for the grant on your behalf if you ask them to. After your child receives the $500, the government will continue to deposit $100 per year into your child’s RESP for as long as you qualify. If you qualify for this program, take advantage of it. It’s a gift. Click here to learn more about the Canada Learning Bond.

RESP Tips

If you have more than one child, it is usually best to open a family RESP rather than separate RESPs for each of your children. The advantage of a family RESP is that you can save all of your children’s education money in one account, but the government will still separately recognize your children so you still get all of the same bonuses that you would get if your children had individual plans. Family plans have the added advantage of allowing you to allocate different amounts to your children’s educations if one child doesn’t need as much money as another. So if one of your children decides not to pursue post secondary education or only attends a bit of college, you can use most or all of the money in the family RESP for your child that does continue his or her education. Family RESP plans provide great flexibility. To learn more about RESPs, talk to your financial advisor, bank, credit union, or visit this link.

Paying for Your Education

RRSP Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)

As an adult, if you would like to continue your education or train for a new job, the government will allow you to withdraw money from your RRSP to pay for your education. You can also use this money to finance your spouse or common-law partner’s education or training. You or your spouse can take advantage of this program as long as you are going to school full time. You can withdraw up to $10,000 per year to a maximum of $20,000, and they give you 10 years to pay the money back into your RRSP. For all of the details on how the RRSP Lifelong Learning Plan works, click here.

Paying for a Student’s Education

Scholarships and Bursaries

To maximize the money you are saving for your child’s future, encourage your child to get good grades. Good grades can be more important than most people think. They can subsidize your child’s education. Good grades can enable a student to pay for much of his or her education with scholarships and bursaries. Encouraging your child to pursue scholarships and bursaries can save you a lot of money. It is an especially good strategy if you are not able to save very much for your child’s education.

Some people think that only the most exceptionally talented students can get scholarships. This idea is completely false. There are numerous scholarships and bursaries available. Many of these scholarships have specific criteria that make sure that normal kids get the money. In many communities, scholarship money is awarded to deserving high school students by various organizations, business, individuals, and governments. In addition to this, numerous scholarships are also available for college and university students. At times, only a small number of students take the time to apply for many of these scholarships. Many scholarships are much easier to win than most people think. They are a great way to fund an education and save you money.

To get an idea of what kind of scholarships might be available for your child, check out the links below.

What is Money Management?

What is Money Management?

Money management refers to the process of tracking and planning an individual or group’s use of capital. In personal and corporate finance, money management usually includes budgeting, spending, saving, and investing.

Private banking financial advisors provide money management services to individual customers. Commercial banking provides money management to corporate clients. In financial markets, money management also refers to portfolio management and investment management. Financial professionals manage investments and make investment decisions for pools of funds.

Money Management in Personal Finance

Money management is a broad concept. It refers to the strategies and techniques to determine the use of an individual, company, or institution’s capital. In personal finance, money management covers budgeting, spending, and saving (investing). Money management can be proactive with periodic or regular financial planning. It can also be reactive to specific events without intuitive planning in advance.

As a result of different ages, lifestyles, family structures, and many other factors, financial plans for individuals are different. However, the fundamental principles of budgeting can be commonly shared. For example, one simple method of personal budgeting is the “50-20-30 Budget Rule.”

The 50-20-30 Budget Rule suggests an individual spends 50% of their after-tax income on essential expenditures. The essentials include house mortgages or rents, transportation, groceries, utilities, and so on. 30% of their income should be spent on the things that the person wants. It can include expenses on partying with friends, movie tickets, and vacations. The remaining 20% should be saved or invested for future financial goals.

Money management with intuitive planning and budgeting helps to reduce inessential expenditures. Such expenditures do not add value to an individual’s living standards. They can be saved or invested for better use in the future. Money management also lowers the risk of running out of money. It helps individuals to achieve their financial goals in the long term.

Financial advisors in private banks, insurance firms, and other financial institutes provide personal money management services. Individuals can also process their money management needs through personal finance applications.

 

Money Management in Corporate Finance

Similar to personal finance, money management for corporate finance also includes planning and budgeting. However, the process of budgeting is quite different. A company’s budgeting is mainly shaped by its business strategies. It is built upon the company’s historical financial statements and adjusted with forecasting estimates.

In addition to the use of capital, corporate money management also considers the raising of capital – how much to finance and how to finance should be determined. Money management for corporate finance is more complex than for individuals. Companies need professional teams to provide financial analysis and planning.

 

Money Management in Financial Markets

In financial markets, money management also refers to investment management or portfolio management. Investment companies manage a pool of capital from their individual and institutional clients.

Money managers invest the capital in different asset classes to generate returns. The assets include stocks, bonds, private equities, real estate, commodities, and so on. The firms also offer brokerage, mutual funds, ETFs, investment advice, retirement services, financial planning, and many other money management services.

Some of the world’s top money management firms include The Vanguard Group, BlackRock Inc., and Fidelity Investments. Vanguard is the world’s largest mutual fund provider and second-largest ETF provider. BlackRock’s ETF division is the biggest ETF provider in the world. Its iShares unit lists $1.9 trillion assets under management.

Different investment strategies are applied depending on many factors. The factors include investment philosophy, client risk preferences, the size of the fund, and many others. For example, Bridgewater Associates, as a hedge fund firm, applies a global macro investing strategy. It seeks investment opportunities from economic trends. On the other hand, The Blackstone Group, the world’s largest alternative investment firm, invests a lot in private equity and commercial real estate.

Stock portfolio management can either be passive or active. Passive portfolios invest in ETFs and mutual funds to follow certain indices. Active portfolios are managed by management teams with particular strategies. The management of a debt portfolio usually considers credit risk, interest rate risk, and reinvestment risk. Alternative investments can further diversify a portfolio and lower the systematic risk.

Examples of alternative investments include private equities, venture capitals, commodities, and real estate. Portfolio and investment management can be very complex and requires expertise. Professional money managers apply different strategies effectively to reach a higher expected return at the given level of risk.

Investment risk is proportional to the return in an efficient portfolio. The main idea of money management is to balance the risk and return to maximize investors’ utility.

11 Simple Money Management Strategies Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know

11 Simple Money Management Strategies Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know

Excited to have launched your new business? These money management strategies would help you save money on all fronts.

If you are a small business owner, you probably know that the key to your success is not just driven by the number of customer transactions, but also the way you manage your money.

Being a small business owner is all about following your dreams and calling your own shots. But it’s also about managing your money responsibly and keeping a tight grip on your finances.

Business owners won’t like to be strapped for cash, especially during an emergency, but sometimes there can be instances where finances are mismanaged. Almost 42% of small business owners have reported that handling steady and consistent cash flow can be quite challenging. An effective yet simple money management strategy can really come in handy.

Why Should I care?

Any seasoned business owner would tell you that the first few years for any new business are crucial to its long-term success, with many challenges to overcome and lessons to be learned.

One such problem is the problem of cash flow problem and mismanaged finances. Some companies fail to plan properly, some set their sights too high or low, some don’t keep track of costs, some fail to chase payment. And we all know that failing to plan ultimately leads to planning to fail.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

In order to not only survive but thrive as well, it’s important that you learn the best ways to cut down on your costs while still providing the same level of quality.

All of this may sound complicated and overwhelming, but if you stick around till the end, you will with some of the best financial best practices to implement.

What does financial management mean to small business owners?

Money management involves handling business finances, and it involves setting goals, having a practical budget, tracking your expenses and income, and making smart investment decisions. When business owners have smart financial plans and opt in for accounting software, they can avoid negative cash flow periods and always ensure that the business is on track to make a profit.

As a business owner, if you fail to manage your money wisely, then it can lead to issues like running out of money, not having enough savings, and making late payments.

Top Money Management Suggestions:

If you want the business to operate smoothly, then you must have enough money to cover all the necessary expenses.

So without further ado, let’s get started:

1. Create a budget and stick to it

Many small business owners are doomed to fail because they make the skip budgeting. One of the biggest known reason for is the fact that it’s difficult to estimate what you’ll spend when you’re new in business and don’t have prior period numbers to use as a starting point.

But make no mistake, creating a budget is the first place to step in managing your business finances.

A budget is the blueprint using which a business owner can create a beautiful building with a strong foundation.

But what happens if your numbers aren’t spot on? Don’t sweat it! It’s perfectly fine since even established businesses see variances.

The process of creating a budget will make you more thoughtful about how you’re spending your revenues and what you can do to improve.

Once you’ve created a rough budget, evaluate how your actual numbers compare to your budget estimates on a timely basis. Over the course of time, your budgets will be more accurate and you will be able to efficiently manage your money.

2. Stay ahead of your deadlines

It’s important that you’re aware of all the bills that are due, such as loan payments, accounts payables, credit card payments, and so on; once you’re aware of the deadlines, you will be aware if you have enough money to pay off bills. If you fail to pay your bills on time or not know when they are due, you can get late fees, added interest, business credit card score is lowered, and vendor relationships can go sour.

To avoid missing any crucial deadlines, try setting reminders and be on top of your deadlines. You can start by recording the payments along with their deadlines; this way, you won’t fall behind. Create a schedule online so that you have a consistent payment reminder.

3. Track your spending

Many business owners lose track of their expenses after a week. If you don’t keep track of your spending habits, then the bills will pile up, and this is a situation that you will want to avoid; furthermore, failing to track your spending habits will lead to misuse of funds and overspending.

It’s easy to make small expenses, but at the end of the month these expenses do add up; if you don’t keep an eye on these expenses they will expand into a bill that you are not prepared to pay for. If you have decided to track your expenses, then you will have to factor in the uncashed checks. This is because sometimes the recipient forgets to cash the check, immediately, and if you don’t monitor the spending, you will end up with overdraft fees and an overdrawn account.

So, take up accounting books or simple online accounting tools to record every transaction.

4. Keep your business and personal funds separate

Ensure that your business accounts are separate from your personal ones; this method is crucial for effective money management. Also, business bank statement can be useful if you want to track the business’s profit margin, reconcile the books, and keep track of your spending habits.

When you mix your personal and business accounts, it can result in it disorganized records that can lead to overspending, not meeting bill deadlines, and missing growth opportunities. Tracking expenses and business fund deposits can be difficult; therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep the two accounts separate. This is where accounting software can help share the load and save headache.

5. Cut costs to increase revenue

There are two money making rules that you will have to live by if you want to maximize your profit margins- decrease your expenses and increase your income. If you find managing business funds challenging, you’ll have to look for ways to cut costs and increase revenues. If you want to cut costs, then you will have to start by looking at your expenses and eliminate any unnecessary spending, you can cut costs by shopping around for new vendors. Increase revenue by offering discounts, promoting products, adding new products for sale, and creating loyalty programs.

6. Have a consistent cash reserve

You can read up on a million finance management tips, but they are all futile if you don’t apply them to your business; when you apply money management tips to your finances, then you can improve your cash flow as well. However, unexpected situations can occur, and you will need to cover it with your emergency expenses. Therefore, it’s crucial that business owners have a cash reserve that helps them manage money whenever there is an emergency. You can start managing a cash reserve by starting a business savings account or investing in a money management software. Ensure that you make regular deposits in the cash reserve.

7. Put Your Money Back in The Business or Save It

If you are running or trying to grow a small business, there are two things that you need to know about financial management and how to manage money – the first one is to pay yourself and the second is to have more money that can be reinvested in the business to keep it going.

Your profits and expense allocations can be used to invest in the development and marketing of your business. You profit first personal money management system will ensure that you have a constantly building profit account with which you can reinvest in the business, save it or use it for yourself.

The primary idea behind this money management technique is to carefully utilise the money and use it to grow the business, put some away for the future and allocate some to emergency funds.

8. Time Equals Money

With new businesses, there’s usually one person or a team of few people who take care of everything. Be it marketing and sales, accounting and product design, and shipping or customer service, each member of the small team wears multiple hats and carries out the tasks. But as the business grows, you must be aware of which tasks you excel at and where you don’t.

Maybe, for example, you are very good at understanding thousands of pages of tax code and spend twelve hours to prepare your tax return. But the point to understand here is the opportunity cost of the time spent here is not worth it. You can rather hire someone else to file a tax return for you for a fraction of the time and money you have invested here.

Once you have enough revenue-producing work to focus on and keep you busy for the week, you can start to outsource some of your tasks. For instance, you can hire someone to keep your books in order or handle email and other routine tasks. This will keep you free enough to direct your focus on tasks in which you are good at.

9. Get Your Cash Flow Organized

When you’re getting your business started, keep track of all income and expenses from day one — even if most of your numbers are zero.

It’s easy to let managing your business finances fall behind when you’re focused on the million other things you need to do to get your business off the ground. But staying on top of your accounting is incredibly important.

You’ll be thankful you took the time to set up your finances and get organized at tax time and when your business grows to the point you need to hand the daily accounting tasks off to someone else.

How to put it into action you ask? It’s really simple — invest in a cloud-based accounting software.

While small business owners in your community could have started out with a simple spreadsheet for tracking income and expenses, online accounting software would end up paying for itself when you consider the time that is saved from automating invoices, filing tax returns without hassles and staying top of the finances.

10. Set SMART Goals

Ambition and enthusiasm are important characteristics of business owners and managers. But so is the ability to make rational financial decisions based on the facts.

One of the reasons why so many businesses fail to thrive is the fact that their owners give in to the enthusiasm but fail to create a proper short-term and long-term goal that is realistic and achievable.

In fact, the short-term goals for every small business owner should be SMART:

Specific,

Measurable,

Achievable

Results-based and

Time-limited.

This means using the budgeting data we mentioned above to set financial goals specific to the business and its needs.

Once a goal is in place, you as a business owner would be able to easily identify wasteful spending and conclusively plan for ways to trim the costs to increase your profit margins.

11. Create and Review Your Financial Reports Regularly

It’s important to keep a close eye on your business expenditure. An online accounting software will automatically quickly draw up useful reports, such as:

  • Profit and loss reports: This report will show your company’s income, expenses, and profits and losses over time.
  • Balance sheet reports These show assets, liabilities, and net equities.
  • Receivables and Payable Report: These show how much money is owed by and to, your company.

These reports give an insight into the financial health of a business empowering business owners to create effective buying, selling and collection strategy.

(If you want to read more about financial reporting, its importance and how you can make the best out of them, you can read it here!)

Conclusion

Business might be about creating great products and services. But if you can’t pay your bills, you could be out of business.

Failing to understand your numbers is the number one reason for a business to go bankrupt. So it’s important that you manage your money wisely, and build a healthy business that benefits your customers, employees, and more importantly ‘You’.

Are you a business owner using one of these money management tactics? If so, comment below and let us know.

Smart Ways To Cut Corners

Smart Ways To Cut Corners

While many people spend most of their time and energy on earning more, it is important to note that without learning the art of spending money well along with judicious saving and prudent investing, they may not be able to create a promising future for themselves and their families.

Money plays an important role in our lives. On one side it is a tool for wealth creation for future needs and on the other it serves as a transaction instrument for satisfying present needs.

While financial planning allows individuals to meet life goals by prudent management of money and finances, it may be observed that learning to manage money wisely could be the first step towards the bigger goal. Both these areas call for ascertaining the need, efficiency and time frame before getting started.

Expense management is all about getting the right value for every rupee spent and appropriate decisions on the payment mode, that is, cash, cheque, credit card or equated monthly instalments (EMIs). The two can help us meet our spending needs with ease and comfort.

A BUDGET FOR ALL TIMES
Making a family budget which includes regular spends and one-time, even discretionary, expenses, is a way to be never out of money and save enough for life’s goals.

A person with a budget will have control over his finances. He will be in a good position to manage cash flow and pay short-term dues and make provisions for other goals. The budget of one person may vary drastically from another person with a similar cash flow. This is because budget reflects our habits and aspirations.

It is best to customise spending categories based on past experience and have well-defined financial goals, short-term as well as long-term. Seeking advice from a Certified Financial Planner or a CFP practitioner is the best way forward.

Regular and Non-Discretionary Expenses:
These include grocery, electricity, fuel, phone, laundry, domestic help, eating out and entertainment expenses. As these are regular and unavoidable, you can put a broad limit so that they do not go out of control. In addition, making bulk purchases with friends and relatives may get you good discounts. Ideally, the right mode for such transactions is cash, debit card and/or credit card (only for the free-credit period).

Irregular and Discretionary Expenses:
These include things like buying furniture and consumer durables, valuables like gold or going on a holiday. Since these cost a lot, one must plan intelligently. For example, while buying furniture, do a price-value analysis to determine the quality and place from where to buy. These days various payment options are available-cash discount, zero-interest EMIs, etc.

5 Money Management Strategies Every First-Time Business Owner Should Know

5 Money Management Strategies Every First-Time Business Owner Should Know

Being a small business owner is all about following your dreams and calling your own shots. But it’s also about managing your money responsibly and keeping a tight grip on your finances. At this stage of your business, that may not be as complicated as running a major corporation, but there are still several financial best practices you should be aware of. Here are five money management strategies you should know about.

1. Create a Budget and Adjust Accordingly

Creating a budget is the first place to step in managing your business finances. Many small business owners skip budgeting because it’s difficult to estimate what you’ll spend when you’re new in business and don’t have prior period numbers to use as a starting point.

It’s okay if your actual numbers aren’t spot on – even established businesses see variances – but the process will make you more thoughtful about how you’re spending your revenues and what you can do to improve next year.

How to put it into action: Start by figuring how much you bring in on a monthly basis, then deduct fixed costs that are the same each month.
Things like subscriptions, rent, salaries and insurance typically don’t change from month to month, so they’re easy to predict. Then fill in the variable costs (those that vary from month to month) and one-time purchases.

Once you’ve created your budget, look at how your actual numbers compare to your estimates each month, quarter or year. With time and experience, your budgets will become more accurate.

2. Get Your Cash Flow Organized

When you’re getting your business started, keep track of all income and expenses from day one – even if most of your numbers are zero.

It’s easy to let managing your business finances fall behind when you’re focused on the million other things you need to do to get your business off the ground. But staying on top of your accounting is incredibly important.

You’ll be thankful you took the time to set up your finances and get organized at tax time and when your business grows to the point you need to hand the daily accounting tasks off to someone else.

How to put it into action: Start using cloud-based accounting software from day one. There are plenty of low-cost options to choose from while you’re starting out.

While some small business owners start out with a simple spreadsheet for tracking income and expenses, cloud-based accounting software can end up paying for itself when you consider the time saved from automating invoices, following up on past-due accounts and attaching receipts with just the click of your smart phone’s camera.

3. Save for Retirement (Really!)

New business owners usually try to invest as much as they can back into the business to help it grow. That’s smart, but don’t forget to plan for the future – your retirement – while you’re at it.

Being self-employed often means you no longer have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan to save for retirement, so it’s all the more important to take charge of retirement saving for yourself.

How to put it into action: Talk to your financial advisor or bank about your options for setting up a SEP-IRA, SIMPLE IRA, Solo 401(k) or SIMPLE 401(k).

Do your research on what each of these plans offers and how they can help you meet your retirement goals. You don’t have to funnel a ton of money towards your retirement account, but whatever you can save now may help curb your tax bill and grow tax-deferred until you need to access it in retirement.

4. Establish an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund isn’t just for personal finances. Business owners should have one, too. Odds are, your business will eventually face a less than stellar month or an unexpected expense, so it’s essential to plan for these cash crunches.

Without an emergency fund in place, something as small as a late-paying client or fried laptop can spell disaster. You may not be able to pay important bills or cover payroll.

Credit cards or other short-term loans are an option in a pinch, but they typically come with hefty interest rates. They may solve your problems in the short term, but end up costing more and creating more cash flow issues over the long run.

How to put it into action: The hardest part of creating an emergency fund for your small business may be finding the money to put away. While reinvesting in your business is important, look for ways you can cut costs or make more money.

Save your emergency fund in a savings or money market account rather than investing it. That way it will be easily accessible when you really need it. Three to six months of expenses is ideal, but don’t despair if you can’t reach that goal right away. Start small and build your emergency fund while you grow your business.

5. Remember That Time Is Money

New business owners often start out with one person running the show. Marketing and sales, accounting and product design, shipping and customer service – it’s all in a small business owner’s job description. But as you grow, it’s important to know which tasks you excel at and which ones you probably have no business doing.

Sure, you can read through thousands of pages of tax code and spend 12 hours preparing your own tax return, but what is the opportunity cost of those 12 hours? Could you pay someone else a fraction of that to handle filing a tax return for you?

How to put it into action: Once you have enough revenue-producing work to keep you busy 40 hours a week, start looking for tasks to outsource. You might work with an outside accountant to ensure your books are in order, hire a virtual assistant to handle email and other routine tasks, or outsource your social media to someone who can grow your online presence.

Conclusion

Running a small business is no easy task, but it’s easier when you stay organized and disciplined. When you dive in and get comfortable with your business finances, you’ll have a better idea of how your business is really doing, where improvements are needed and where growth is possible. The tips above are an excellent place to start and will help ensure that you and your small business thrive.

Top 10 Online Writing Communities to Perfect Your Craft

Top 10 Online Writing Communities to Perfect Your Craft

Whatever type of writer you are, you could use some company. Personally, I only sit with a group of wordsmiths and get letters onto paper a couple of times during the year. In a bid to hone my craft, I’ve been participating in text conversations all over the web in online writing communities. These dedicated forums for writers enrich my content and daily life in many ways, whether it’s finding motivation to keep prose flowing, getting help to build characters, or simply improving my style.

 

I also found that these online writing groups are among the best places for getting ideas out there. To begin, introduce yourself in the forums, respond to comments and suggest new ideas. You’ll quickly link with people who will push your vocab, views and verbal reasoning. Most importantly of all, use discussion to escape from the mundane while making your writing exquisite.

 

Keep in mind that these writing forums have different target audiences. From this article, you’ll get an inkling of the main characteristics of each community. The next thing you should do is go and participate in the discussions, to see which one is right for you.

 

So, stick with me as I narrate you through the top online writing communities for authors of all levels, genres and styles:

 
  1. Writing Forums

  2. Mythic Scribes

  3. She Writes

  4. NaNoWriMo

  5. Wattpad

  6. Writing about Writing

  7. Commaful

  8. Writing Prompts

  9. Writers Anonymous

  10. Critique Circle

  11. Bonus: Start your own writing community

7 Online Writing Communities For Authors

7 Online Writing Communities For Authors

Writing is and has always been a solitary endeavor. Still, any accomplished or novice writer will tell you that a writing community is just as important as their keyboard or notebook. If that feels like a bit of a contradiction, you’re right.

We write alone, but what we write is for a broader audience. And unless you’re either a) a literary genius or b) extremely lucky, you won’t be able to transition from solitary creation to popular adoption without an intermediary step. That step is your writing community.

Why Writing Groups Matter

Because we are social animals. Plain and simple. Even the most introverted among us need some interaction. And for writers, this becomes doubly important.

We don’t just need to socialize because it’s good for our psyche; we also need the advice, encouragement, and criticism of other writers. Authors, who may seem like some of the least social creators, need a community as much or more than anyone.

Thankfully, we have more options and opportunities to connect than ever before. Online writing communities are incredibly well suited to authors who need connections but don’t want to (or can’t) participate in writing groups in-person.

1. NaNoWriMo Forums

NaNoWriMo (the official name for National Novel Writing Month) has long been an annual challenge for me. Basically, authors commit to writing 50,000 words (about the length of a short novel) in the month of November. For anyone that writes regularly, this is both ambitious and exciting.

But what about the other eleven months? Over the years, the staff at NaNoWriMo have spun out the idea, with numerous ‘Camps’ during the year to help keep the inspiration flowing. Their writing forums are some of the best on the web for authors. From simply chatting in the Coffee House to finding genre-specific advice, NaNo’s forums are rich with authors like you.

Who It’s For: Authors at all levels, but specifically great for authors in the first/second draft stage.

2. Chronicles

The Chronicles is another writing forum, this time focusing specifically on science fiction and fantasy genres. If that’s you, then you’ll probably find something to love on the Chronicles!

In contrast to the NaNo forums, the Chronicles is not as active a community. You’ll notice threads have new posts and comments, but not a lot of them. So, if you’re looking for a bustling place, the Chronicle may not be for you. But if you want something highly specialized, focusing on sci-fi and fantasy, you’ll find good advice, good conversation, and lots of classic author spotlights.

Who It’s For: Science Fiction and Fantasy authors who want to connect and find inspiration.

3. Critique Circle

Don’t let the drab layout and colors of the Critique Circle fool you. The CC is a very active community, featuring both a user forum and a peer-to-peer critique section. They also offer some really nice free resources—from listing useful websites to guides on using metaphor, magic systems, and character development.

I’ve never used the critique functions from Critique Circle (I’ll talk about one I have used later), but the idea is one of the most useful I’ve found to date for writers. If you’ve ever participated in a writer’s workshop (and if not, you should!) you’ll be familiar with the form. Basically, you post some work you’ve done, usually within a word count limit. Other authors read it and chime in with thoughts, criticisms, and encouragement.

Who It’s For: Serious authors looking for valuable critiques and resources.

4. Underlined

Underlined, it must be noted immediately, is part of Penguin Random House. I hesitated to even add them for that reason alone. But after spending some time checking out the site, I would be remiss not to mention Underlined.

That out of the way, I really like Underlined. It’s more of an aggregated set of user-generated blogs than a forum, so it differs from the other communities I’ve mentioned. The upside of this is that there are a lot of active members and with the backing of PRH, the site is well designed and easy to navigate.

I suggest thinking about Underlined like a mini-Medium; rich with content to read and discuss with a focus on reading, creating, and creative lifestyles.

Who It’s For: Readers and writers who want to learn and connect over long-form content.

5. Writing.Com

Another amazing writing hub, Writing.com is part forum, part resource center, and part industry news site. They really do it all when it comes to fostering an online community for authors.

The forums are very active and they host a number of really great prompts (which is one of my favorite ways to overcome writer’s block). With so much content, Writing.com offers fiction and nonfiction writers lots of resources and opportunities to connect. The Shameless Plug Page is also really cool, giving authors a space to share their work with like-minded and interested readers.

Who It’s For: Anyone looking for feedback, writing tips, and connections with other authors.

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