Home Business Has Never Been This Easy To Understand

A lot of people think that operating a home business is something that is hard to do, but it’s actually something easy if you apply yourself and learn the information. Look at this article with a careful eye and see what information you can take and use towards your home business goals.

Make a plan for your home business before you just go jumping in. If you know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, you’ll be much more likely to meet your goals. Starting a business without a plan is like trying to drive to an unknown location without a map – even if you know where you’d like to end up, you probably won’t get there in any reasonable timeframe.

Update your website if your inventory has run out on individual products. Customers will respect your honesty, and will be more apt to do future business with you. Avoid selling products that are out of stock; if they are, inform your customers so that they are not left waiting while you restock.

Try to keep regular work hours when working from home. The freedom of a home business can be very convenient, but your body’s clock can take a beating if you change your routine too frequently. Try to keep regular work hours and sleep routines in order to keep your mind and body working at its best!

Find inexpensive ways to advertise your home business. If you are a pet-sitter, drop some business cards off at local veterinarian offices. Stores, post offices, even community centers often have bulletin boards you can advertise on. Be creative and you will enjoy a larger demand for your services!

It’s crucial that you put together an in-depth business plan. As situations change over time, your plan may need to be adjusted or even replaced entirely. But the initial importance of your smart business plan cannot be overstated; nor can the many benefits it will provide. Make sure your business plan is up to date.

Create a business plan before you open your home business. This will help you think through everything you need to do to achieve your goals. You can find examples and templates for a variety of business plan styles online. These documents also allow you to troubleshoot ahead of time as you consider the type of problems you may encounter.

Use programs that will present your company’s ads on your website. Showing your ads to visitors on your site will result in a profit every time visitors click on them. Each click will evntually add up after a while, even if it seems slow when you first place the ads.

With all of the information you just learned you want to try to do the best of you ability to apply it towards your home business. The thing about being successful in home business is that you want to continue to expand your knowledge and apply it. You should see success in no time.

Hints And Helpful Ideas For The Home Business Owner

Running a home business is an exciting venture. It can be a little scary, too. There are so many things to learn and to coordinate. You have to figure out a daily routine, keep improving your skills, and take care of lots of paperwork. The helpful tips in this article can make these tasks and many others a lot easier for you.

You should be able to talk about your business plan and goals in a few sentences. If you’re able to tell others what your business is about in a couple of sentences, you can impress people when you’re speaking with them. Cover the areas that your business can improve to build credibility with customers.

If you are running a home based business, you need to have a domain name and a website. Even the best websites will still look unprofessional if they are hosted on a free web-building site. Domain names are relatively cheap. Pick one that’s related to your business and you will undoubtedly see an increase in sales.

Running a home business can be a difficult task if you do not take it seriously. In order to succeed at working from home you should dress the part, have a space dedicated for work and work only, and have a set schedule. This ensures that business actually takes place when you are at home.

Use an online service or software to design a matching set of postcards, fliers and brochures to send out to customers and prospects. Look online for printer suppliers that offer an interface that allows you to add text to one of their existing designs, or upload your own. Choose a design as your “brand,” the look and feel you want people to identify with your business.

All young businesses take quite a bit of time to really get up and running. Because of this you should ensure that you have a secondary source of income until the home business is able to sustain itself as well as your household. This can come from a spouse, savings, or a part-time job.

Make sure you have a safe workplace. This includes having a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your work area. You should also find an efficient solution to backup all your data. The right type of fire protection helps you lower your business insurance costs, and an ergonomic keyboard helps protect your hands.

Examine all of the ways your home business appears in the marketplace and be sure you have a consistent message and presentation. Whether it is your business cards, web site or social media business page, keeping your messaging professional and synchronized helps you promote your business appropriately and clearly across multiple channels.

It will always be challenging trying to run your business from your home. However, many people do it and make a success of it every day. You can make a go of it, too, if you learn the tricks that help things run more smoothly. Start applying the pointers provided in this article today, and make your home business experience an enjoyable one.

Click Here To Read All About Debt Consolidation

It is a struggle to get out of debt. Some people do things without thinking when they are in a bad financial spot. Rather than doing something regrettable, read on to learn more about debt consolidation.

If you think you have a debt consolation company that you want to work with, make sure you look them up on the Better Business Bureau. You should be able to see consumer reviews, which will help you determine if you really want to do business with them or not. Even doing a simple search online for the company’s name may bring up some helpful information.

Ask your credit card company if they’d accept a lump payment for a lesser amount than the debt. Many companies will accept 20% to 30% less than the amount you owe currently just to get the cash in hand. If you can scrape up the cash, this is an excellent way to save funds that can go to other debts.

Make sure to ask about the debt consolidation company’s privacy policy before getting involved with them. What will they do to ensure your information is kept confidential? Get a copy of their privacy policy and read over it before making any decisions. If you spot something you do not like, move on to another company.

Try keeping and applying for those introductory 0% interest credit card offers in the mail. Consider the amount of interest that you may save via consolidating all that debt onto your new card. You must use caution, though. Keep to a plan that lets you pay off the transferred debt during your low interest period. Don’t miss payments or you will make your interest rates go up drastically. Don’t open multiple cards and keep one of your old ones with a small balance on it.

Inform creditors that you’re working with a consolidation service. They might be willing to offer payment alternatives. They need to know when you are considering other options. If they are aware that you are working hard to repay the money they are owed, they will likely be more willing to help you.

If your creditors are applying high interest rates to your accounts, a personal loan could be a good option. Try finding a personal loan with a good interest rate. A loan is a good debt consolidation strategy as long as the interest rate offered is lower than what creditors are charging you.

When struggling with making several payments, you may want to see if you can qualify for a personal loan. These signature based loans are based on your credit profile. One benefit to these type of loans is that they lower your payments by extending the length of the loan.

People often feel defeated when in insurmountable debt and get desperate by making bad choices. Now you know that you can avoid making bad choices when you consolidate your debt. You should use the tips you just read and learn more about debt consolidation from different sources.

Basics Of The Stock Market

Many new investors jump into the stock market based on hearing the hype of how it?s possible to make great money investing this way. They may have heard of a friend who made a bundle with day trading or a colleague who has a hot stock tip and so they figure they?ll jump into the market too.

Before you begin investing, it?s important that you understand at least the basics of the stock market.

While investing in stocks can help you to build a great investment portfolio, if you?re not careful about your strategies, you could also find it can be a great way to lose a lot of money too.

There are two sections to the stock market. The primary market is where shares are created by companies and generally offered to the public via an IPO (Initial Public Offering). The secondary market is where established stocks are exchanged and traded among investors without the involvement of the company issuing the stocks.

When people think about investing on the stock market, they tend to be talking about the secondary market.

Basics of Stock Market Shares

Shares, or stocks, are individual pieces of ownership of much larger companies. When companies need to raise capital, then sell off little portions of the company so that investors may become partial owners of that company. Each time you buy a stock, it represents a share of ownership in a publicly listed company. You become a shareholder. As you increase the number of stocks you have in one particular company, you increase the percentage of ownership you have.

As a shareholder, you are entitled to your share of the company?s earnings. These are usually paid as dividends, although not all companies offer dividend payments. You?re also entitled to exercise any of the voting rights that might be attached to that stock, however you don?t have a say in the daily operational running of that business.

Basics of Stock Market Pricing

There are several factors that can affect the price of stocks and you might notice that the price of stocks changes every day. While the price can be partially dictated by supply and demand, there are also other factors that can affect the overall price too. Economic changes, unemployment or bad management in the company are all individual factors that can also affect the pricing.

 

The price you see listed on any particular stock is based on the perceived profitability of the company and not the value of the company. This means the stock can often be priced based on what investors believe the stocks are worth. The value of the company is called the market capitalization.

When you see on the news that the market rose or fell by a number of points, it?s important to understand that not every single stock listed on the exchange followed the same movements. The index you see reported is a representation of a number of stocks and presented as a single figure to give a general idea of the market movements as a whole.

However, there will always be individual companies that move contrarily to the main market sentiment. It?s this contrary movement that day traders watch for, trying to find the next stock pick that will rise in value and gain profits for them.

Basics of Stock Market Investing

There are several types of stock market investment strategies. Day trading is growing in popularity as a way to smaller investors to begin building capital. The basis behind day trading is to buy a stock in the early part of the trading day and hopefully sell it again at a profit before trading closes.

Long term investors tend to purchase many different stocks in a diversified range of companies in various sectors to spread their risk. These investors tend to hold stocks for longer periods of time, allowing the value of their stocks to appreciate. They also receive dividend payments, either in the form of a check or as a dividend reinvestment plan, where the company issues stocks to the value of the dividend payments to the shareholder to add to his portfolio.

This is how retirees live on $1 million

For most people, the word “millionaire,” a term coined in the 18th century, calls to mind images of lavish wealth and extravagant lifestyles. Simply having this much money once represented a ticket to life on easy street. These days, thanks to inflation, cost-of-living increases and lifestyle changes, retiring on $1 million isn’t as carefree. It now requires smart budgeting to ensure this nest egg lasts for a retiree’s remaining years.

Though it does not provide for the sumptuous lifestyle of years past, having $1 million for Social Security benefits to pay the bills each month (see What is the size of the average retirement nest egg?). This is a big reason why the poverty rate for Americans 65 and over is frighteningly high. A retiree with exactly $1 million may not be spending much time at The Breakers in Palm Beach, or the Plaza Hotel in New York. But invested smartly, this sum should ensure he or she can live in a typical U.S. big city – such as Chicago, Los Angeles or Houston – without worrying about poverty or inability to pay the bills.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the key strategies shrewd retirees employ to stretch $1 million throughout the retirement years. One technique is to purchase an bond investments, then withdraw a fixed percentage of that portfolio each year to pay living expenses.

Immediate Annuities

The Good

For retirees who worry about running out of money at some point, an immediate annuity offers perhaps the single most attractive feature of any retirement product: a fixed-income stream that is guaranteed for life – whether the purchaser dies the day after buying the annuity or lives to 120.

Immediate annuities are sold by life expectancy. The longer he or she is expected to live, the lower the monthly payments. For this reason, women, who generally outlive men, receive smaller annuity checks on the same balance.

While life expectancy is used to calculate benefit amounts, the checks do not stop coming once that age is reached and the annuity balance is amortized. Rather, the retiree receives checks for as long as he or she lives. “Purchasing an immediate annuity is like buying a pension. You exchange a lump sum for the insurance company promising to pay you for the rest of your life,” says Georgia Bruggeman, CFP®, Meridian Financial Advisors, LLC, Holliston, Mass.

An annuity is essentially insurance against outliving one’s money, with the insurance company assuming the risk of the individual living too long. A retiree who prioritizes peace of mind in this regard, knowing that his parents and grandparents all lived to 100, should consider an annuity.

The Bad

Annuities feature two distinct disadvantages: tax treatment and illiquidity. While most investment income earned over a long period is taxed at long-term capital gains rates, annuities are taxed at ordinary income rates. The difference between the two depends on the investor’s tax bracket; it might be immaterial, but it might also be significant. For a high-income earner, the top ordinary tax rate, as of 2016, is 39.6%. Long-term capital gains, by contrast, are never taxed at more than 20%.

The other problem with annuities is that owners are effectively limited to their monthly checks. “Buying an immediate annuity when interest rates are still relatively low is not a good idea, especially with the high upfront fees and surrender costs associated with annuities, because the fixed payments will be low and won’t increase even if interest rates go up,” says Elizabeth Saghi, CFP®, president, InAlliance Financial Planning, in Santa Barbara, Calif. What’s more, you cannot withdraw a large chunk from the annuity, such as for an emergency or a major purchase, without incurring penalties.

It comes down to priorities. If having income for life is a bigger priority to a retiree than having access to his or her money in full, an annuity might be the best option. Otherwise, retirees should look elsewhere – or at least not invest all or most of their retirement funds in an annuity. “Any unexpected cash need (health need or otherwise) as well as the potential for future inflation make these products less desirable,” says Evan L. Wolk, managing director, Wolk Financial Management, Inc., Parkland, Fla.

Traditional Portfolio

The Good

Another strategy to make $1 million last through retirement is to place the money in a diversified portfolio and withdraw a set percentage per year, indexing that amount to inflation. Many retirees who use this strategy follow the 4% rule. They withdraw 4% the first year, or $40,000, and they live on this amount. The second year, they take out the same 4% plus the rate of inflation for that year. If inflation were 2%, the second year’s withdrawal would be 102% of $40,000, or $40,800. The third year follows the same pattern, and so forth, with the retiree always taking out 4% plus the accumulated inflation rate. Projecting forward the interest rates and inflation environment of 2016, a retiree can easily make $1 million last more than 30 years using this strategy.

“A globally diversified portfolio allows investors to match their individual risk capacity with their individual risk exposure, provide flexibility in terms of access to their money, potentially provide flexibility in terms of tax exposure and provide potentially higher payout rates than what is provided by products in the insurance market. While a 4% withdrawal rule is a good start, I usually tell clients they can afford 5% to 6% if they are globally diversified with tilts towards the known sources of expected return, such as small cap and value stocks,” says Mark Hebner, the president and founder of Index Fund Advisors, in Irvine, Calif., and the author of “Index Funds: The 12-Step Recovery Program for Active Investors.”

The Bad

The main downside to the traditional portfolio strategy is, unfortunately, no method exists to project with certainty future market returns or inflation rates. The years following the bear market or a period of unusually high inflation – the 1970s featured both – causes a retiree’s $1 million to evaporate much more quickly if it is invested using the strategy outlined above.

The Bottom Line

Investing $1 million in a traditional portfolio and taking yearly withdrawals gives a retiree more flexibility with money than purchasing an annuity does. The returns from mutual funds, historically, have been stronger than annuity returns. And in a low interest rate environment, such as the current one, annuities are going to have less generous payout rates than in times when interest rates are higher.  On the other hand, an annuity offers a retiree one feature a traditional portfolio does not –  an iron-clad guarantee he or she will never outlive his or her money.

10 Ways to Save $200 a Month

5 car insurance myths that are costing you

Car crashes are getting more serious with an increase in fatalities in the past few years. Data from the National Safety Council indicates a 6% increase in motor-vehicle deaths in 2016, and $432 billion to cover the costs of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage — 12% more than the previous year.

With that sobering stat in mind, it’s important to get the right car insurance coverage and to steer clear of common misconceptions about what can impact your rates. So here’s a course on what’s fact vs fiction.

#1 Fact or Fiction: Red cars cost more to insure

You’ve probably heard the rumor that a red car costs more to insure than other colors. It’s a popular myth, but your car’s color is not a factor in determining your insurance premium. In fact, your insurer most likely doesn’t even know the color of the car you’re driving.

What does drive up the price of your premium is your driving record, as well as your car’s make, model, engine, body type and safety features. So you can expect to pay more for a high-performance red sports car than a red sedan.

#2 Fact or Fiction: Your age affects your car insurance rate

If you’re going through a midlife crisis and need to roll up in that Maserati, the good news is you might get to pay less because of your age. Insurance premiums decrease once you’re 55 with a good driving record.

“Premiums go down as more mature drivers have more experience behind the wheel, resulting in the number of crashes decreasing,” says Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute.

On the other hand, the highest-paying age groups are those age 16 to 20 year, then 21 to 24. And rates continue to drop until you’re 70.

#3 Fact or Fiction: Your car’s age affects your premium

With new vs. used, it depends on the type of car you’re looking to insure. A new car could cost less to insure because of its advanced safety features. But a pre-owned vehicle with a lower MSRP could be less expensive to insure because it costs less to repair. That said, if either of those cars are on the list of cars that thieves love to steal, then your premiums could still be higher. Some of the most popular cars among car thieves include Honda Accords and Civics, pickup trucks from Ford and Chevrolet, and Toyota Camrys.

#4 Fact or Fiction: Men are better drivers and pay less for car insurance

Women have long been picked on for being worse drivers than men. But the facts say otherwise. It turns out women are generally safer, less aggressive drivers than men. So while women have more minor fender benders, men have more serious accidents and get more speeding tickets — which means women pay less for car insurance.

Down the line, that could change, says Worters. “For now if you’re a woman, you’re still in luck. But there are more women drivers on the road than there were 20 or 30 years ago and these younger drivers are exhibiting behaviors conducive to accidents like texting and driving. So it’s starting to change,” says Worters.

#5 Fact or Fiction: The smaller the car, the smaller your insurance bill

Compact vehicles are riskier because they can be made with lower-quality materials and likely to take on more extensive damage in a collision. And just by sheer force and weight, smaller cars can be more heavily damaged when impacted with a larger car.

Considering a compact car that’s a top safety pick can be one way to save. Volkswagen Jettas, Toyota Corollas, Mazda3s, and Honda Civics are among some of the top picks for safety from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Other ways to save on car insurance? Shop around for at least three quotes, the average cost of insurance in US is $866 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Build up your credit score, and don’t be so fast and furious on the road.

The Savings Rate Method of Retirement Planning

When it comes to saving for retirement, one of the toughest parts is determining how much to save. Plenty of online calculators allow savers to set goals, and professional financial planners have their own methods for determining target numbers for clients. These options for calculating your retirement number are helpful. But there’s one hitch: They often depend on your best guesses about events that are far in the future.

[See: How to Save $1 Million by Retirement.]

Many aspects of retirement planning require an educated guess. For instance:

— How much will you spend each year of retirement?

— How many years do you expect to live?

— At what age do you plan to retire?

— Will you pay off your home during retirement?

— Will you live in your current location or somewhere cheaper or more expensive?

— How will the market perform, on average, over the next two decades?

Some of these questions are impossible to answer, and your responses might also change over time. But you don’t need to know the answers to all of these questions to build a nest egg for the future.

[Read: How to Get a Good 401(k) Match.]

Select a savings rate. Instead of focusing on a far-away goal of saving $1 million or more by your desired retirement age, you can set monthly or annual savings goals. It’s possible to cut through the complications of your retirement goals by focusing on your current savings rate. Here’s how this savings strategy works:

1. Make concrete savings goals. It’s no secret that Americans have trouble saving for retirement. Some of the problem is likely that retirement seems so far away. Sure, you want to save a million dollars, but it’s easy to delay saving when you have 30 or 40 years until retirement. Focusing on saving a set percentage of your income each year forces you to think in immediate terms.

2. Lower the bar. One way to calculate future retirement needs is by estimating your retirement expenses and multiplying your annual expenses by the number of years you expect to be retired. But it’s tough to estimate your expenses 30 years into the future. Setting a savings rate goal of at least 10 percent of your salary — but preferably 20 percent or more — teaches you to live on less money right now, and you can continue that frugal lifestyle in retirement.

3. Save more quickly. If you look at a retirement calculator with standard inputs, such as average rate of return and annual income, you might find that you can get away with saving less than 10 percent per year. By setting the bar high with a savings rate goal, you’ll save a large balance more quickly, so you’ll reach your savings goal much sooner.

[Read: How Long Does it Take to Vest in a 401(k) Plan?]

Don’t only use this method. The savings rate method is an excellent option for young savers. The younger you are, the more difficult it is to determine what your financial needs will be in retirement. So instead of estimating retirement expenses that could change, focus on saving at least 10 percent of your income, preferably more.

As you get closer to retirement, then you may want to use more complex methods to set your retirement savings target. You may find that you want to increase your savings rate to allow for a more luxurious retirement. Or maybe you’ll find you’re on track to retire sooner than you planned.

The savings rate method is a great way to begin to save for retirement. Then as you move closer to retirement, you can use more complicated methods to refine your retirement savings needs.

Here’s why women need to take control of their money right now

Military Millennials: What the Research Reveals

Millennialsthose born between about 1978 and 1994came of age in an America that is different than it was for previous generations. They grew up in a country characterized by more racial diversity, a narrower gender gap in educational attainment, large increases in the cost of higher education and the defining events of September 11, 2001. They faced the economic challenges of the Great Recession early in their lives and/or careers. They are also the first “digitally native” generation, and the most educated generation in American history.

 

Millennials are the largest cohort in the U.S. workplace today. While millennials make up about 30 percent of the general population in the U.S., they constitute nearly three quarters of the service men and women in the military. Understanding the financial capability of millennials in the military is an important step toward understanding the financial capability of the military in general.

Toward this end, the FINRA Foundation performed an analysis of the financial capability of millennials in the military using data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study. The research revealed that military millennials are much more likely to be married than their non-military peers. Thirty-five percent of active duty millennials surveyed have student loan debt, and about a third have mortgages. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents are concerned that they have too much debt.

Three in four military millennial respondents indicated they were offered financial education, and of those, almost half participated in financial education—a financial education rate that is much higher than the national average. In addition, forty-one percent of the military millennial respondents have high levels of financial literacy, again, a rate significantly higher than the national average, which is 24 percent.

Not surprisingly, married military millennials with dependents reported more financial stress than those without. Of the sample, twenty-one percent of active duty married millennials have unpaid medical bills, and over 40 percent engaged in costly credit card behaviors, such as carrying a balance and paying late and over-the-limit fees, over a 12-month period.  Twice as many married millennials with dependents reported using costly, alternative forms of borrowing like pawn shops and payday lenders than married millennials without children.

As Ms. Rosemary Williams, DASD for Military Community & Family Policy, briefed at the July 2014 Financial Roundtable meeting, military millennials are also more likely than other millennials to live away from urban areas and, not surprisingly, own cars and carry auto loans.

Millennials also communicate differently. Especially in the United States, they are the first generation that did not have to adapt to the Internet and mobile technologies—instead, they were born with them.

The financial outlook is not all gloomy for Millennials though. Millennial respondents are nine percent more satisfied with their financial situation than the generation Xers that preceded them. That may be about managing their financial expectations.

Can we draw general conclusions about military millennials from this research? Here are some thoughts:

  • Military millennials lived through more than a decade of war and deployments—and few have experienced peacetime in their careers.
  • They experienced some traumatic events in their formative years: 9/11, the housing bubble and stock market collapse.
  • They carry student loan and medical debt burdens that previous generations did not often have to bear.

Different experiences can lead to different behaviors. Millennials behave differently. Those organizations best positioned to meet their needs will understand the different challenges and opportunities Millennials face and adjust to new ways of working with them.