How Prepaid Credit Cards Can Service Your Business Better

How Prepaid Credit Cards Can Service Your Business Better

Wisely managing expenditures is an everyday responsibility for all businesses. Companies that are interested in making sure that they do not overspend in areas like rewards and customer promotions will benefit greatly from using prepaid credit cards. There are several key advantages both internal and external that your business can reap from properly implementing prepaid credit cards into your business plan.

Increasing Customer Traffic

Running promotions where you give out a prepaid card to customers for visiting your store or for purchasing a certain type of product will help attract more attention. This marketing strategy can be focused to improve sales in a particular area. Another great application of prepaid credit cards is using them as an incentive to gain traffic online. You can offer these cards as a reward for customers that sign up for a mailing list or create an account on your web store, which will lead to more prospects seeing your business and what it has to offer. Beyond just the increase in traffic, having a card with your company name on it will give your brand an element of prestige and respect that will impress people.

Building Employee Loyalty

While prepaid cards are of great value when you give them out to customers, they can also be very important for internal success. You can use prepaid credit cards as rewards for sales contests, or to recognize an outstanding employee that has done good work for the current month or quarter. In addition to their use as rewards, they can also be used as incentives for participation in company-wide surveys or wellness programs that are beneficial for the entire organization. Employees that receive these prepaid credit cards will appreciate having the ability to spend their reward money wherever they wish.

Simplifying Employee Compensation

These cards can help make compensation easier for a business in several ways:

· Temporary workers can be paid with reloadable prepaid credit cards so that they do not have to wait until a check clears to access their funds.

· Employees that travel can be compensated with a prepaid card to reduce the complexity of the expense process

· Employees that are spending for company projects have a way to easily get what they need, while the administrators tracking their spending can conveniently see records of what was spent where.

Increased Security

When a business decides to use a prepaid card, there is no need to expose sensitive information such as bank account or debit card numbers. If this information fell into the wrong hands, it could be disastrous for the company that had information compromised. Prepaid credit cards are a much safer alternative, because money that is spent when a card is lost or stolen can be recovered much more easily than with other methods of payment.

These kinds of cards are becoming popular in several different major industries. Customers like them because they make them feel like the companies that they patronize value their business, and employees like them because they are versatile and make spending on behalf of the company less of a challenge. Look for a capable provider of prepaid cards so that you can get your company needs met by a specialist that has the experience necessary to keep your programs running smoothly.

Significant Moves of Banking Industry Towards Better Service Delivery

Significant Moves of Banking Industry Towards Better Service Delivery

Banking industry has saw significant growth in terms of business levels. It has expanded its capacity and extended its muscles to the widest horizons. It is now preparing for new challenges and tides that can shape the future of communities and economies. Unquestionably, this sector is experiencing growth and exceptional development because of its globalized rights and ability to do at distant locations. This has also given it the ability to scale new heights of services and banking applications. In fact, it is penetrating into the deeper levels of societies for border coverage.

Today, banking sector has categorized suffice into its network of branches, which has enabled it for offering multi delivery channels. This has raised the customers' expectations as well as improved the quality of customer service. Maintaining a value-added and sustained emphasis on the comprehensive quality of customer service is the main goal of banks. Banks and financial institutions are supporting their internal architecture of delivery and aligning its research wings and strategies to harness the potential breed of customers. They are not only focusing on building and strengthening relationships with their customers, but also helping them in venturing new endeavors.

They are continuously looking towards greater coördination, collaboration, technology adoption, banking technology enhancement and vendor management. In fact, they are collaborating for precision-based technology and business process re-engineering. They are not only simplifying their lengthy processes, but also making them customer friendly. Most banking and financial institutions are putting their traditional strategies on hold and improve them for better working efficiency.

Today, banks are musing on some of the most eminent factors such as:

1. Next generation of security risks
2. Leading a secure migration to mobile technology
3. More digital-exposure
4. Intervention of new technology horizon
5. Better business compliance
6. Solid IT investment
7. Mobile banking
8. Wealth management

A couple of years back, all these initiatives were not possible. But, today, these all are possible because of greater dominance of technological transformation. It has provided new wings to the banks and allowed them for offering unique value propositions. As a result, there was real growth in industrial sector, banking and finance sector, insurance sector and business field.

In more accurate terms, banks are going social and technology-centered with customers in mind. They are constantly exploring new wider technological perspectives for better service delivery and unique, inspiring products. In this way, they will satiate rising customers and community demands.

Are You a Card Player or a Forex Trader?

Are You a Card Player or a Forex Trader?

Without knowing it, you may very possibly be like a card player in the forex market. In fact, if you're like most people who trade forex, you are probably more of a player than a trader. Forex traders who are not making money consistently, simply have the wrong mentality, unlike professional traders who have developed certain habits that allow them to earn money regularly by speculating the financial markets.

There are two types of forex traders, those who play with their money like card players do and professional traders who consider forex trading as a business. To determine if you are a player, let's talk about some of the most common features for players. This will help those who are more players than traders to first acknowledge this factor and gradually change their mentality.

Main Features of Traders Who Are Players

Players are addicted; they like to do the same thing over and over just to get a feeling of euphoria. They consider trading as a hobby and not as a serious activity that involves a thoughtful and responsible approach. Unfortunately, this "hobby" often turns into an addiction to the game that can cost them thousands of dollars. Players become intoxicated by "hoping", which is why they continue to lose and do not change their habits, they squander a lot of money even to take out loans to finance their habit. The players still believe that their luck will eventually smile and they continue to put more money on the table. Unfortunately, the majority of individual investors in the foreign exchange market have a similar approach to that of a card player. People with a similar mentality, become addicted traders and behave like fanatics of the a card game, they risk large sums of money, with random, no risk management plans. These types of traders are in the market for fun, even when they do not win. They lose the sense of reality by using a very high leverage as their approach to trading is based purely on greed and hope.

Professional Traders

In the mind of a professional forex trader, money management is the surest way to control risk. Understanding and applying the risk/return ration, allows traders to manage risk on each trade. Basically, professional traders do not take a lot of pleasure to enter and exit the market. Unlike players, they do not seek euphoric emotions because they know exactly what they want to do within the market before making a trade. They do not rely on luck, but on the likelihood of success. In other words, they have a forex trading plan. Successful traders are familiar with their forex trading strategies, they do not enter the market only to make up for a loss and have confidence in their strategies over the long term. Generally, traders that make money, trade only a few major currency pairs and on reliable market configurations. Patience, consistency, a viable method and accuracy are the tools and qualities of successful traders. On the contrary, players invest in the markets randomly with very high leverage, as they enjoy the strong adrenaline rush.

What Can You Do Now?

Here are some principles that you can start apllying immediately to think and act like a professional trader:

To become a professional forex trader, you must create new paradigms that include positive habits that will assist you to obtaining the mindset of a winning trader.

Consider trading as a full-fledged occupation which includes significant responsibilities. You may have a family to feed? Would you be willing to take risks that are not calculated and could affect your family's needs? You must realize that your limit is determined by your level of emotions, loss of your emotional control will certainly result in losses within the forex market.

Keep a trading journal to archive all past trades. All businesses have records of their expenditures and revenues to monitor and measure the performance of their daily activities.

Finally and most importantly, you have to be realistic about your profit goals in relation to your starting capital and do not invest money you cannot afford to lose. The possible loss of your funds should under no circumstance affect your standard of living.

Financial Diversity

Financial Diversity

Those who wish to grow their finances tend to adopt an investment philosophy of diversification. Given the investment climate we have had to deal with in the last few years this is certainly the best approach for a 21st century strategy.

If your desire is to grow your portfolio, then these suggestions I offer to you should help you in that endeavor;

1) Define your investment approach - every successful investor has an approach to what they will invest in, how often and into what areas. Are you an equity investor (purchasing assets for value), a stock investor (purchasing shares of stock in a company to represent your preference), a business investor (you take ownership in a business) or real estate investor?

2) Define your investment criteria - It's possible to invest in a variety of ways. You must outline what fits into your investment criteria. For example, if you invest in real estate your criteria might be apartment buildings with 10% cap rate in a residential area. If you invest in stocks it may be tech companies only which have shown some increase in their stock price in last 60 day. This criteria will help you to focus on certain investments.

3) Define your investment focus - you must focus in a particular direction seeking a certain return on your investment. You could invest for income (you want income from the investment once you purchase it) or equity (you have an ownership interest on some level). Most investors choose either income or equity but not both.

4) Make plans based on your approach, criteria and focus - now that you have your approach, criteria and focus you can take the appropriate actions. To find financial success you must know exactly what you want so that you can go after it with focus. Access what levels of risk you are comfortable with and go for it.

5) Diversify your portfolio - When you have done the above mentioned steps then you need to make sure that all of your money is not tied into any one investment. You should have some in cash (money market, savings) and in illiquid forms such as stocks, bonds, real estate, T bills, etc.

Stay consistent with your financial investments. Use dollar cost averaging to make regular deposits into your savings plan. Slow and steady is the best way to move towards real wealth. In time you will be pleasantly surprised.

Why Swing Trading Is Favorable For Beginner Traders

Why Swing Trading Is Favorable For Beginner Traders

As a beginner trader, you need to understand the different trading time frames available. There are actually 4 time frames to choose from. The first one is the day trading, then the swing trading, intermediate trading and lastly, the long-term trading time frame. But if you're a beginner trader, I would encourage you to choose the swing or intermediate trading time frame.

In day trading, everything moves fast. Stock price moves fast and it fluctuates fast that it can make you cry. You will be bombarded with countless information that only an experienced and knowledgeable trader can handle well. Beginner traders will really find it very daunting and challenging. And because they don't know what to do, they may eventually lose money in their trades.

Here are the benefits of swing trading:

1. You give yourself time to adjust to trading: Trading needs practice and time to get used to. If you want to become a profitable trader, you need to adjust to how the market behaves. With the swing trading time frame, you have the opportunity to do exactly this.

2. Identify the overall trend: Day traders capitalize on the slightest fluctuation of the price movement to gain profits. On the other hand, swing traders wait for a trend to form before they actually get in a trend. This helps them secure their trades. In this time frame, you'll see the beauty of trends and reversals.

The stock market can be compared to traffic hours. Day trading happens during the rush hour when traffic is just tight. Everybody is busy taking care of their own business. Everything looks and sounds like one big mess. Swing trading on the other hand happens in between rush hours. You get to maneuver your car in different lanes without any hassle. Traffic is definitely tolerable. If you're just learning how to drive, which scenario do you prefer? I don't know about you but I prefer driving in an empty street since I just don't have to deal with the risk of bumping into any car because of my lack of experience. As my skill progresses, the more comfortable I will feel driving next or behind another vehicle. This is due to the fact that I already know what to do and what to expect. It's the same concept with trading the swing trading timeframe.

Starting out as a swing trader or an intermediate trader is the best way to be inducted to trading. This is what I believe. Although I am not encouraging beginner traders to start as a day trader, you can still trade this time frame though. However, never do so without proper training, education and guidance. If you really want to be a day trader, you need stock market education, experience and consistent guidance from a trading coach. In order to be a successful trader, you must never skip or reject these 3 factors I just mentioned.

Before you take day trading into serious consideration, try reading more about swing or intermediate trading first.

Preparing Yourself for Home Ownership

Preparing Yourself for Home Ownership

Do you want to buy a new home while avoiding the missteps and mistakes that overwhelmed many buyers the past few years? Buying a home now, especially with today's low mortgage rates, can be an excellent investment, but you need to be financially prepared for the responsibility of home ownership.

Establish a budget and live by it. You need to track your earnings and expenses to know where your money is going and determine how much house you can afford. Expenses consist of utilities, car loan, credit card debt, and housing expenditures as well as miscellaneous spending which includes entertainment, dining out, and even that cup of coffee you routinely stop and purchase on your way to work. A good way to track spending is to open a checking account and use online banking to obtain spending feedback and establish a reasonable and retainable budget.

Get control your debt. You don't want to buy a home if you have uncontrolled debt. Excessive debt, limits available cash for mortgage payments and the unexpected expenses a home owner can experience. Also, the less debt you have, the better your debt-to-income ratio, which is one criterion lenders use in approving your loan. According to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), your debt expenses, including your mortgage payment, should not exceed 43% of your income.

Shape up your credit report. Even though you don't have to have perfect credit to qualify for a home mortgage, a better credit report can qualify you for a more favorable loan with lower interest, potentially saving thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Create an emergency savings account. As a home owner, an emergency repair on your home or an appliance is never a matter of if, but when. Even as a renter you should have an emergency fund. You never know when your car will break down or you will need cash to cover an unexpected situation. With an emergency fund you are prepared for the unexpected and won't need to rely on a credit card with its high interest rate to pay for the emergency. A handy way to start an emergency fund is to open a savings account at your bank, make regular deposits, and don't touch it unless it's an emergency!

Save up for a large down payment. A traditional mortgage requires a 20% down payment. Though some programs allow a smaller down payment, the more money you put down on you home, the smaller your mortgage payments will be. Have you heard of someone having an "upside down" mortgage? That means they owe more on their home than what it's worth. This is a situation you never want to be in. Having a large down payment will immediately provide you more equity in your home and help protect you from suffering an upside down mortgage. Should your home lose value as a result of a market downturn, a large down payment provides a safety net to absorb a possible loss should you need to sell your home.

Be prepared to stay in the same place for a long time. One of the advantages of being a renter is that you have quicker mobility to move if needed compared to a homeowner. That mobility comes at a cost as your monthly rent creates zero equity and pays absolutely no financial return to you. If you buy a home, be prepared to stay in that home for at least three to five years. The longer you stay in your home the greater the equity you will create which will put you in a much more favorable financial situation should you decide to move.

Home ownership is part of the American dream. However, if you buy a home before you're ready financially, that dream can quickly become a nightmare. With a little patience, homework and financial diligence, you can make that dream into a reality.

Does All of This Debt Really Affect YOU?

Does All of This Debt Really Affect YOU?

As I talk with people from around the nation, I am constantly reminded that the federal government has almost $17 trillion in debt and unfunded liabilities totaling almost $100 trillion. The important question is of course how this really affects you; or does it? I mean with all the hoopla on the right, you'd think the world was coming to an end and with all the people on the left being so blasé' about it, you'd think it doesn't matter. So what is a normal person to think; what is the truth?

American's are becoming increasingly uneasy about the nation's debt situation and even the global debt situation. In America today, there is a total of around $55,000,000,000,000 in actual debt between government, business and individuals. This is staggering by some measures as our economy is only a little over $15 trillion; so our debt is in excess of 3x our national income. If we normalize these numbers down to the "per person" level, our income is around $50,000 and our debt is around $150,000; adjusted further to reflect only people who are tax payers (so we're not counting children, the poor, etc.) those numbers are still around $50,000 income because that has to provide for everyone regardless of status, but the debt grows to around $300,000 per tax paying person. So think about it as having $50,000 in income and owning a $300,000 house. You're not in real trouble if interest rates stay low and you keep your job, but if rates rise, or you lose your job look out.

The simple answer to whether or not this debt affects us in our real lives is categorically yes, it does affect us, and it does so in four tangible ways; interest rates, access to credit, inflation and economic growth. Let's take just a moment and drill down into those four key areas.

First, interest rates are set by global supply and demand of debt and by the perceived security of the debt instrument. Today, interest rates in the U.S. are near zero because there is an enormous supply of debt, a large demand for debt driven in part by the U.S. Central Bank (The Federal Reserve Bank) and a high degree of safety as the debt of the United States is ultimately secured by the taxpayers in the United States, the world's largest economy. These dynamics benefit U.S. borrowers for home mortgages, car loans and business debt. However, the risk is that the demand for U.S. debt will shrink because eventually the FED will discontinue its buying spree. Should this happen, rates will increase in order to provide incentive for others to step in and loan the government money.

The second issue is access to credit and the issue here is supply and demand once again. As the government takes up more and more of the supply of lenders, there are fewer and fewer lenders available for consumers and business. This is felt by businesses and consumers as things like the amount of down payment for a loan increases or the need for a superior credit rating increases. Think about it, would you rather loan money to the government where you're virtually assured of repayment or an individual or business that might well default? A rational lender will respond by saying a) you pay a higher interest rate for the increased risk; b) you need to put up more collateral; and c) you need to verify your ability to repay. This increased difficulty in borrowing money is the second risk.

The third thing is inflation. Now understand that typically inflation is caused by an over demand for a limited supply meaning that when U.S. manufacturing capacity is nearing its limits, prices naturally rise. However, there is a second type of inflation which is caused by a devaluing U.S. currency. Simply stated, as more dollars are printed due to expanded borrowing, each dollar in circulation is worth less and thus prices rise. We've seen this primarily in food and fuel; interestingly two things left out of government inflation statistics.

The fourth thing is economic growth and it is directly affected by the first three issues and this is where debt does directly affect you. As interest rates rise with a changing supply/demand equation, and access to credit to the private markets is naturally restricted, and prices on core commodities rise the economy's growth is slowed down. This credit situation we're currently experiencing is one of the major reasons our national growth rate hovers around 2% per year. This economic malaise affects real people by limiting access to new jobs; limiting compensation increases and bonuses and increasing the uncertainty people and businesses feel which in turn reduces consumer spending which ties right back to reduced economic growth.

Until the United States begins to show signs of reducing its red ink, the economy will continue to experience the anemic growth rates of the past few years. This debt DOES affect everyone. In the near term, it will not lead to the apocalypse some on the right are suggesting, but by the same token it is a real and important issue unlike what some of the left would suggest (Paul Krugman comes to mind). To rekindle a significant growth rate in our economy and thus restore middle class prosperity, the United States must get its financial house in order. Until then, normal people will suffer, and investors will prosper. How you ask? By using investments that capitalize on fluctuating currencies, commodity prices and equity and debt markets and the mission of The Society is to teach you how to do that! We can help.

The Ins and Outs of Car Repossession

The Ins and Outs of Car Repossession

With the economy being in recession for most countries, repossession of vehicles is becoming more and more prevalent. People are struggling to keep up with their payments and the cars are being taken back by the lender.

When can a car be repossessed?

A car can be repossessed when the payments are not kept up to date. This is mainly when cars have been bought of hire purchases. This is when you have a monthly payment for a car and after a certain time period, the car will become yours, but whilst you are still making the payments, the car is still the property of the lender and you are essentially hiring it from them.

With this type of purchase, the lender can repossess the car without a court order if you have paid less than one third of the value of the loan for the car. They can't do this without a court order if you are near the end of the loan period when you run into money troubles.

What is a repossession?

This is where most people get mixed up about what constitutes a repossession. The lender cannot just turn up on your doorstep, enter the premises and then take the car. This would be breaking and entering and theft. They have to have your consent to take the vehicle. If you are having money problems anyway, you might be happy giving your consent.

If you do not give consent, then the lender has to apply to the court for a default order and then a repossession order for them to legally take the vehicle.

What if you want to keep the vehicle?

If you are having money trouble, but you want to keep the vehicle, you can ask the lending company if they will give you some time to get some money together and carry on making the payments. This is at the lenders discretion and don't rely on this. They can refuse this and send you a default notice anyway.

You also have the option of contacting the lender and asking them for a reduction in payments. This way, you are still making some payments and you are not completely defaulting on the payments. You will still incur interest on this payments, so you need to discuss with the lender if the lesser payments will cover the interest as well, otherwise there is no point in making the payments.

Check your contract!

Before you do any of the above, you should check the contract and see how long you are actually tied into the hire purchase for and if there are any "get out" clauses. There may be a clause where if you are made unemployed, you can just give the car back no questions asked.

If you are near the end of the contract anyway, you might have options for selling the car, paying the remainder of the loan off and then paying some other items off as well. This might be better for you in the long run because you won't default on the loan and it would affect your credit score.

When you are experiencing money problems, it will be a highly stressful time for you. It will be hard for you, but keep in mind there are options out there for you. You don't have to live in the constant worry that a bailiff is going to come knocking at your door. Do your research and try to remain calm.

If you are thinking about hiring a car and you know that you might come into money troubles in the future, it may be worth having a credit check done to see what items you actually own and what could be repossessed in the future.

Don't Let Your Immediate Annuity Funding Options Limit Your Choice Of

Don't Let Your Immediate Annuity Funding Options Limit Your Choice Of Annuity

Retirees looking for a vehicle to supply retirement income often consider annuities - specifically the immediate annuity. Though retirees may have specific arrangements set up for funding an immediate annuity, they should be prepared to go purchase the best paying annuity they can.

An immediate annuity is a guaranteed series of payments that can continue for a set number of years or one or more lifetimes. The promise of a steady, predictable income that you can't outlive is very attractive - and a unique character of the annuity as an investment.

With the boomers starting to retire, financial firms are aiming to attract more annuity customers with competitive deals. Because of this you must be sure you shop around within the immediate annuity market for the best deal. Beginning an immediate annuity is a permanent decision, so getting the best payout for your money is important

Typically, immediate annuities are purchased in one of three ways. One way is with a lump-sum payment that the purchaser transfers to the annuity company to buy his 'stream of income'. This lump sum may come from a retirement plan distribution, a personal injury settlement, or a divorce as examples.

Another way is by simply annuitizing a deferred annuity you've been contributing to over the years. Annuitization means converting the value of the deferred annuity into an immediate annuity.

Lastly you can fund your immediate annuity through the terminal funding of your retirement plan. Some retirement plans terminate their liability to the participant by transferring the plan's value to an insurance company. When a retirement plan pays out this way it creates a special kind of "qualified immediate" annuity requiring no taxation on the transfer, but all payments are fully taxed as income.

But be sure you recognize your choice to choose the best annuity company you can find for each of these options. So, if you own a tax-deferred annuity and want to annuitize, you aren't limited to the payout offered by your own insurance company. You can still shop for the best deal offered by competing companies. You need only complete a tax-free (IRS Section 1035) transfer to the company that offers the best terms.

Even if your retirement plan offers only one insurance company for terminal funding, you can still shop for others and then transfer the money to the vendor you think is most suitable for you.

Because of the competitiveness in this industry, shopping around is the wise approach. If you want information on annuity payouts, just give us a call or fill out the card so we can get it to you.

Realize that income from annuitization is taxed partly as ordinary income and partly as return of capital - i.e. the premium you paid for the annuity.

Tricks to Get Your Home Loan Approved Even With Bad Credit Score

Tricks to Get Your Home Loan Approved Even With Bad Credit Score

To buy your dream home, you need to first get pre-approved for a home loan. With bad credit ratings, it can be next to impossible to qualify for the loan. Home loan restrictions are tougher than ever today, mainly down to the massive bank bailouts and rising cases of foreclosures. Obtaining a loan is no longer as easy as it once was. However, you can still manage to be approved even with your bad credit score, if you are a bit proactive and smart in your proceedings. Here is a guide for getting home finance with less than perfect credit score.
Check credit history

Before starting to look for a home loan, take the time to evaluate your credit history. Your credit score might not be as bad as you initially perceived. A score below 620 is considered bad; however, a score over 620 and below 680 can at least get you qualified for a home loan.

Improve credit score

Before rushing headlong to make any overtures, take the time out to improve your credit score. Start by clearing your pending bills, paying outstanding debts and change your account to a current one. Steadily, improve your credit score to make your home loan more affordable. Before signing any contract, have your attorney to take a personal look at it and update you on the intricacies involved.

Down payment

Try your level best to make a large down payment on the home. The more money you manage to put on your home, the more favourable will be the terms on the loan, irrespective of your past credit score. If you are unable to make down payment of at least 10% of the value of the home, you will be required to pay additional charges on home insurance, which will radically increase your monthly payment.

Contact mortgage broker

There is too much complex jargon associated with loans, which can be beyond your comprehension. Contact an accredited mortgage broker and inquire with them about the finance requirements and documents needed to qualify for the home loan. Your loan application will be processed on three distinct categories - your current income, credit ratings and ability to repay the loan. The job of your mortgage broker is to guide you through all the intricacies involved and make sure your loan application is sanctioned.

Shortlist lenders

Shop around for lenders; a bank might burden you with a ridiculous interest rate, especially with your bad credit history. Search online, shortlist the companies that commands good reputation in the market. Read the information given on the company's website; determine if the company will be willing to work with people with bad credit score.

Loan application

Applying for loan online is easier than ever today. Fill in the easy application form with required details and submit it. Once the application is processed, the loan provider will contact you directly to further discuss on the loan. If everything goes well, your loan amount will be sanctioned even before you realize it. Be prepared to pay staggering high interest rate. Keep an eye out for closing costs, points, penalties and other hidden charges, when deciding on a loan.

Thorough research and careful planning is all that it takes to get the loan that fits your budget.

Financial Fitness Tips for the Mom Entrepreneur

Financial Fitness Tips for the Mom Entrepreneur

One of the greatest gifts of being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to flex your financial muscles. It's also one of the greatest challenges for me personally. In fact, many entrepreneurs make the decision to start their own business because they have a certain skill or talent - or an idea for a product. They don't know anything about the financial aspects of business - like payroll, budgeting, P&L statements, profitability, cash flow, taxes, etc. So what happens? We learn as we go! We rely on the experts. And we develop those financial muscles.

Many of the moms I work with are creative types - writers, photographers, caterers, artists, graphic designers, fitness trainers, dieticians, chiropractors, counselors... and the financial aspects of business don't come naturally. Very few of them are "in the business of money." Yet, all of them are in business for themselves. And if you're a mom entrepreneur... if you own a business of any kind... no matter what your company is... no matter what service you provide or product you sell, as a business owner, it's YOUR JOB to know about the money. And if there's something you don't know, your job is to find someone you trust who does know. It's a challenge for some of us to accept this responsibility, but we can't have a thriving business unless we do.

Here are five financial fitness tips to help you develop those financial muscles and stay in good financial shape.

Financial Fitness Tips for the Mom Entrepreneur

1. Open a separate checking account for your business. This is the single most important step you can take to turn your hobby into a business. For some reason, this simple task is a huge ordeal for many moms when they are just getting started in business. They put it off until they are making money. Or they convince themselves that it's going to take a long time and require a ton of paperwork, so it's not worth the effort. The truth is it takes about 30 minutes to go to the bank and open a business checking account and in most cases all you need is your tax ID number, some identification and an initial deposit. Having that separate account not only makes things cleaner for you at tax time, but it also helps you to take your business seriously.

2. Pay yourself a salary - even if it's a small amount. Here's another step that many entrepreneurs tend to skip in start up phase. They pay their vendors, employees and bills and then pray there is enough left over to take a distribution for themselves. I understand that when there is little or no profit and you're bootstrapping the business you may not feel right about taking a salary. But, hear me on this - you WILL burn out if you don't have a reasonable steady salary coming in! And you can choose to invest it all back in the company if you want to - but it should still be coming to you on paper. And I know it's a stretch to think about this now, but if you ever plan to sell the company - or seek investors - you're going to need an accurate operating budget, which would include your salary.

3. Hire a bookkeeper and CPA. For most entrepreneurs, this is one of the first responsibilities we need to outsource. That's because we are not experts in finances, taxes and bookkeeping. Yet many of us insist on trying to do it ourselves. I did this for several years before I realized that it caused a strain in my marriage. One day I was working on the books with my husband and we could hear the kids playing in another room with a babysitter we had hired so we could prepare our tax return. We sat in the office for about three hours, getting frustrated and irritated with each other while the kids laughed and played. I decided that we would never again miss out on a day of fun with our children so we could do something we weren't very good at doing and didn't enjoy doing at all. I immediately hired a bookkeeper and a CPA and have never regretted it. Remember, when we let go of something we are not called to do in our business, we have an opportunity to bless another business owner who is called to serve others in that capacity. And - we free up our own time to focus on what we are called to do in business and at home!

4. Watch your numbers to determine ROI and manage cash flow. If you are the type of mompreneur who gets wrapped up in the creative side of business and ignores the finances, this is going to be a challenge. But just like a new exercise routine, you start small and make a commitment to be consistent. The idea is to schedule a specific time every day, week or month (depending on your business) to review your financial statements. This is easier to do when you have a bookkeeper setting up your books with you. And it doesn't have to be a complicated process - you can create a simple spreadsheet or dashboard that allows you to track the numbers you want to monitor, such as sales, expenses, returns, accounts receivable, etc. This dashboard will be different for every business, but keep it simple and focus only on the numbers that will help you make better decisions in your business.

5. Set boundaries around your time and money. This is one that's difficult for women because we're people pleasers and we don't like to say no. But if we want to run a profitable business, we have to set boundaries around our time and our money. When you set boundaries around your time and our money, you are able to:

  • Charge what you are worth for your services
  • Outsource or delegate tasks
  • Stop saying yes to volunteer projects that steal your joy and leave you filled with resentment
  • Identify the charitable contributions and in-kind donations (pro-bono work) you can commit to for the year and say no to others
  • Stop attending networking meetings that aren't bringing you an ROI
  • Collect on unpaid invoices
  • Require payment in advance for your services
  • Attract clients and customers who value your time and will pay what you are worth

What am I missing? Share your financial fitness tips with us here!

Bankwest Encourages Re-Engineering of the Productivity Agenda of

Bankwest Encourages Re-Engineering of the Productivity Agenda of Organisations

Andy Weir, the chief information officer of Bankwest, stated that success in productivity initiatives should not be measured solely by the amount of cash saved by an institution. Instead, each bank's productivity agenda must also put other variables into the equation.

Changes in the Playing Field

The landscape of the playing field in the financial sector is very different than how it was before noted Weir in the Australian Banking & Finance report. This is due to the increased competition brought about by new major players in the banking industry and the entry of non-traditional entities such as eBay and Google. Add to that other elements such as slower economic growth and digital disruption.

During the Bankwest CIO's speech in the AB+F Randstad Leaders Lecture Series for 2013, he warned various organisations in the financial sector that if they do not re-engineer themselves or re-invent their productivity agenda in order to adapt to the digital environment, then they are definitely doomed to be left behind by those who do.

70 Per Cent of Global Population will be Digital Savvy in Three to Five Years

Citing a recent study conducted by Bankwest, 70 per cent of the global population is projected to be digital savvy by 2016 or 2018. So, it is imperative that the productivity agenda of financial institutions should be re-invented to not only concentrate on cost-cutting measures but also to adopt other variables that could let them adapt or rise above the continuously changing trends influenced by the digital environment.

Weir added that the study suggests that those who will be able to go correctly with the trend coupled with the right sort of customer proposition will be able to increase their revenue up to 30 per cent. Then, optimising processes and systems will give them about 30 per cent reduction in operational costs.

Cost-Cutting as the Sole Measurement of Productivity

Productivity is often equated with cost-cutting alone based on Weir's perspective. He stated that the notion is the big mistake that many organisations have. He relayed at how Bankwest treat cost-to-income, customer satisfaction, client satisfaction or financial performance as variables distinct from productivity.

He reminded that saving money does not instantly translate to profitability. It is how factors such as savings, customer satisfaction and risks are balanced. In Bankwest, for instance, its productivity agenda puts focus on things that boost their financial performance, enhance customer and colleague satisfaction, and elements that improve the bank's operational risk profile he explained in the AB+F report.

4 Important Tips If You Are Chased For an Old Debt

4 Important Tips If You Are Chased For an Old Debt

Here is the story. You have a debt you can't repay. The lender tires of trying to recover it and sells your bad debt to a collection agency. They now pressure you, then offer you a heavily reduced amount to encourage you to finalise the account, which you do. Years later you receive a call to say you still have an outstanding debt that needs to be paid... what do you do?

This has recently happened to a family friend of mine, so based on their experience, please consider the following four tips to help you work through the issue.

1. Do not agree to owing the debt

In Australia you may have a defence against a debt if:

  • a long period of time has passed since you last made a payment or confirmed the debt in writing
  • no court action has been taken to recover the debt in the meantime.

Generally, you can raise this as a defence if 6 years have passed since you last made a payment or confirmed the debt, and there is no court judgment against you. If this is the case, recovery of the debt through the courts is said to be 'statute-barred' and the courts will not enforce the debt. If there is no court judgment against you and you make another payment, the clock will start again and generally you will not be able to rely on this defence anymore.

If you think a debt collector is contacting you about a debt that is 'statute-barred', you should get legal advice before you make any payment or confirm the debt in writing.

2. Obtain a copy of your Credit Report

In Australia, you can obtain a free copy of your personal credit report by completing an online form and providing some identification through Veda Australia. You must check your report and;

  • look for what the original lender listed on your report. You can only have one listing per debt, so if there is a default noted, the collection agency can't list another despite their threats.
  • see if anyone has accessed your report without your consent. My friend had his file accessed by the collection agency the month before they began calling him, and he is certain he gave no written or verbal authority. He is pursueing this currently now.

3. Keep all your paperwork

My friend was certain he received a letter confirming the final payment years ago, but on searching his archives, he was unable to locate it. This is an important lesson. You should always keep all correspondence (no matter how old) that confirms a debt has been repaid. Without being able to prove payment by receipts, bank or credit card statements you can still be liable to pay the debt.

4. Get legal advice

This depends greatly on your individual situation, but given there are free legal advice centres throughout Australia, it is certainly worth discussing. Many people feel pressured by collection agencies and do not understand their rights. There are strict laws governing the conduct of these agencies, such as unreasonable harassment, which legal advisors will be able to determine for you.

I certainly don't wish this situation on anyone, but if it does happen to you, I hope these tips point you in the right direction to fairly resolve it.

How to Talk About Finances With Your Partner

How to Talk About Finances With Your Partner

How to Talk About Finances with Your Partner
When you're in a committed relationship or marriage, finances need to be agreed upon in the present and the future. Whether you're the frugal one or the one who likes to spend all you have, if you're joined with another person then your financial decisions will affect that person as well.

What are Common Financial Decisions that can Cause Conflict?
Common conflicts in a relationship involving money are disagreeing about how much money to save periodically, spending on monthly necessities, paying for brand names or generic brands and how much to spend on non-essential items. Are you the type who likes to use coupons and save for future purchases or are you someone who spends your whole paycheck and buys items on credit? If you're in a relationship and you feel like your partner's spending habits are the polar opposite of how you like to spend your cash then you're probably fighting more and your relationship might be suffering because of it.

First Track How Your Money is Being Spent
Before having a discussion with your partner, you should first track where all your money is being spent by using an online banking system or free online software. If you track how your money is being spent on a monthly basis you can hone in on purchases which were not necessary or too pricey. This can be more difficult if you have separate bank accounts or your partner uses cash for purchases. You'll need to track all forms of spending - credit cards, ATM cards, cash withdrawals and so forth. This way you will have a master view of all purchases and how much you are saving.

How to Avoid Conflict While Discussing Finances
Communicating that you disagree with how your money is being spent with your partner is difficult to do without creating conflict. Most people who spend money frivolously will try to defend their actions and explain their spending habits are normal. If your partner is accustomed to a particular lifestyle it can be difficult to break those lifestyle habits of spending. You don't want to make harsh accusations or act patronizing. You and your partner are a team so try to initiate a conversation using the word "we" to show you are 50% as responsible for the spending habits as your partner is. Also show that you have taken the time to research your findings. Below are a couple examples of how to initiate a discussion about your finances.

"Can we discuss our finances? I think that we could be saving more money for our future."

"I feel like our finances aren't being spent as optimally as they could be spent. I've used a software tool that is showing we could be saving $300 in our monthly expenses. Would you mind taking a look at this information with me to see if you agree?"

Discuss How to Spend Money So You Can Track Your Spending
To be able to track your spending habits you need to be able to access the transactions from your credit card and bank account. If you are using cash for weekly expenses you'll spend hours adding receipts up and this won't be the most effective way to track your spending. If you can both agree that you'll make all purchases with a Credit Card or ATM card this will help track your spending much easier.

Find a Common Ground
Whether you are trying to curb monthly expenses, have a savings account or investing for your future - There needs to be a common goal which you both can agree on. Talking to a financial adviser together can close the gap between you and your partner while you learn all your financial options. Maybe you are saving for your child's education and your retirement at the same time. A financial adviser will show you the best ways to diversify your savings plan and your monthly budget.

Stick to Your Spending Plan
Saying you are going to spend a certain amount monthly is easy to do. It is much more difficult to stick to your guns and be proud that you consistently are within your monthly budget. Do you ever notice couples fight more than usual while they are shopping for groceries or necessities? Try to stick by your plan by making lists before you go out spending. You can also further save money by gathering coupons online before your weekly shopping trip.

Agree to Space Out Your Bills Weekly
Agree to set specific dates for auto bill pay during the time of the month when your bank account will have the balance to cover your bills. Say your mortgage bill or rent is due on the first. Have your cable, internet & phone bill be due on the second week of the month. Have your auto insurance and utility bills be due during the 3rd week of the month. The last week of the month will go towards your mortgage or rent payment on the 1st of the following month. Spacing out your bills on a weekly basis will make paying your bills easier.

Don't Argue on Daily Purchases
Are you still disagreeing on daily purchases? Try not to voice an argument every time you don't agree with how your partner is spending. This can really drive a wedge in between you both. You can offer suggestions to show the lower price for generic name brands or sale items which are similar. Say you yourself can't live without a particular name brand of expensive coffee. Search for coupons for coffee online or in your local weekly ads. Show your partner that you are making an effort to lower your own spending. Sign up for weekly deals with Stores that offer special sales on items you or your partner regularly purchase. It takes a bit of extra effort but if you know that you're saving money then you won't be arguing as much over common purchases.

Pair Up and Talk Periodically
It is a good idea to sit down for 30 minutes once a month to talk about your finances and take a look at your online financial software stats together. Get together with your financial adviser a couple times a year if you have one. If you communicate about your finances periodically there will be more understanding and confidence in your relationship or marriage goals for the future.

Investor Awareness Campaign: A Look at the Other Side

Investor Awareness Campaign: A Look at the Other Side

Sign up for a newsletter to get the latest information in the stock market. Don't miss on the available opportunities that give you the current information. You can learn about stock prices and make wise investment decisions. However, it is not this simple.

Stock promotions enable investors to become shareholders of an upcoming company. However, the investor awareness industry has been given a bad name by bad seeds. They make investors get caught in by other investors dumping their investments

Investor awareness firms

a) The firms may not be straight forward or the information they give may be biased. The reason is that the firms are paid fees to generate the newsletters, campaigns, and articles. The firm is paid in cash, or they may opt to take up an option thus becoming shareholders of the company. With the investor firm becoming a shareholder the information it gives will be biased.

b) Employees of the company or people who know how the company will perform do insider trading. Therefore, during campaigns, as an investor you should be aware of employees selling their options.

c) Pump and Dump is a method used by companies to introduce a bullish market for their shares. They offer their shares to employees to cheat the market. To avoid this situation, then you have to make sure that there is a restriction on the shares of the company.

d) You will need to ask yourself a number of questions. This questions are based on your intelligence and observation skills. Is the company profit making? Is the company in business? Does the company have an investment for the future? These questions are important because they make you to know what to look for in a company.

However, do not always accuse firms of pump and dump scenarios, or the investor firms of being biased just because they have taken up shares. They might do so because of:

1. The campaign may be successful such that the shares become valuable. Therefore, the firm will need to make more money from this opportunity.

2. It might be the only option of the investor awareness firm to close the deal.

When a stock is being promoted, it is an opportunity to get money, as more investors are attracted to customers. However, to determine the sheep from the wolf in this case will only take your personal intuitiveness.

Much as there are so many people who are trying to create an awareness of the stock market and the events thereof, it is important for you as an investor to make sure that you are as informed about the market as possible. The main reason for this lies in the fact that you will be in a good position to make worthy decisions once you are well informed about the market. Investment is about money and most importantly your money.

Therefore you have to make sure that you guard your money with as much intelligence and verve as you can. This you can do by being knowledgeable.

Starting A Litigation Case: The Importance Of Doing Preliminary Checks

Starting A Litigation Case: The Importance Of Doing Preliminary Checks

Litigation is a process that many people will want to start at one point or another in their lifetime. For instance, if you had received a service in such a manner that you were not satisfied with its quality, there are times when it may make sense for you to lodge a legal complaint against this. This is especially so when it turns out that there is no other way to resolve the issue, such as when talks with the other party break down. There are a number of benefits of filing a case in such a setting. For one, you can get refunded for any losses that you might have incurred due to the transaction. It also ensures that service providers are kept in check, since they know that if they offer substandard goods or services they will be taken to court.

However, this does not mean that you can simply walk into a court and lodge such a case. In fact, there are many processes that are involved in doing this, some of which are designed to prevent people from filing frivolous cases. This means that when you are sure you want to go ahead with this, you need to think things through first and ensure that all the preliminary checks are done before proceeding.

One of these is identifying if you have a case at all. There are times when you may be truly aggrieved, but the lack of any substantial evidence about this makes it very difficult for you to get the justice you deserve. In such cases, simply going ahead and filing the case will not be a good idea, since you stand to lose a lot of money in the process. It's often a better idea to ask someone to do a professional review of the circumstances surrounding the case, so as to make sure that it's a watertight one.

One other benefit of doing this is that it makes it easier for you to get any third party funding you might need. The fact that such cases cost a lot and are sustained for a long time means that most of the time, they cost a lot. This means that you might need a large sum that you can use to fund the case. In the end, you are bound to make enough money from the litigation to cover the cost of getting the third party funding and having enough left over to use as compensation. By doing a background check on the technical details of the case beforehand, you make it much easier for you to get such funding without much of a hassle.

In summary, there is a lot that you might need to think about when you want to start a litigation case. One of the most important of these is simply making sure that all the background checks are done first to ensure that you really do have a solid case you can take to court. This helps you avoid wasting a lot of money and time.

Learn How to Buy Gold Bars

Learn How to Buy Gold Bars

There are few sure investments in today's economy. In the past, real estate was the ideal form of investment. However, nowadays the housing rates and values are falling along with the stock market. This leaves gold and other precious metals, as the only sure investment left. Gold is a stable as well as liquid investment. These qualities make it valuable even during bad economic times. The first step of investing in gold is to buy it. That is why it is important for potential investors to know how to buy gold bars.

Buying Gold Bars

Normally, people purchase gold bars from a dealer. However, it is advisable for a person to do some research and look for the best sources and deals in the market. This way he or she is able to make the most out of the investment.

One should start by finding a legitimate gold dealer. There are some websites where one can find ratings and reviews of different gold dealers in the country. It is always advisable to look for an experienced and established dealer. This does not mean that the new companies are not legitimate. However, one should be cautious when working with a new dealer.

It is also important for one to know exactly what he or she wants before contacting the dealer. Before purchasing the gold, a person should have a plan. Therefore, it is advisable for one to do some research and know which investment will best suit him or her.

Investing in large gold bars is more profitable. This is because the dealer charges a premium on each gold bar. So, purchasing small gold bars ends up costing more.

Once a person has purchased the gold, he or she should store it in a safe place. Some people store it in safes or safety deposit boxes. The other alternative is to store it in a depository which charges a percentage of the deposit value as storage fees.

Where to buy Gold Bullion

Apart from dealers, there are other places where one can purchase gold. Some of them include:

• Banks

• Gold jewelers

• Auctions

• Mints

Potential buyers should compare the different sources and see which of them offers the best deals in terms of price and quality.

Purchasing Gold might seem like an archaic investment strategy. However, that is far from the truth. It is in fact the safest form of investment that a person can make. So, one should learn how to buy gold now and make a low-risk, high-gain investment that will benefit him or her for a long time.

HMRC RTI - Are People Burying Their Heads in the Sand About the Biggest
Change to PAYE Since 1944?

HMRC RTI - Are People Burying Their Heads in the Sand About the Biggest Change to PAYE Since 1944?

By October 2013, all employers will need to have complied with the new Real Time Information requirements of HMRC. The changes, which represent by far the largest overhaul of the PAYE system since its birth back in 1944, affect every organization, large or small, and with the deadline approaching fast, concerns are starting to be raised about just how ready we are?

According to Phil Robinson, CEO of IRIS, "there appears to have been a "burying heads in the sand" approach so far on RTI". At least, that's the impression he was left with after this year's conference season for accountants and financial controllers.

Despite the fact that small employers will move to the new system in April 2013 - barely six months away - and all organisations, even the largest employers, will be forced to migrate by this time next year, many businesses are yet to firm up their plans to ensure compliance.

HMRC RTI - The facts

What? - Real Time Information (RTI) is a significant development in the way that employers report earnings for the collection of tax and national insurance within the PAYE system. RTI will require every employer to provide information - which covers earnings, tax and NIC deductions - every single time a payment is made.

Who? - All businesses must comply with HMRC RTI.

When? - Most small organisations (those who number less than 250 employees) would have joined the scheme by April 2013 with large companies joining in a phased way, all of them by the ultimate deadline of October 2013 - a deadline which is unlikely to shift.

Penalties for non-compliance
According to Steve Wade, Director of international executive services, tax and pensions, at KPMG, "repeated submission failure under RTI may be taken by HMRC as PAYE compliance failure, which could impact reporting under the senior accounting officer regime. Under RTI late filing and late payment penalties will be issued automatically, with additional penalties for incorrect returns also applying. Further details on the penalty regime are expected before the issue of the draft finance bill on 11th December."

What should businesses do?
The most important thing any business can do in preparation for RTI is to recognize the need for urgent action. Issues such as whether your payroll operations are in-house or outsourced and whether you pay for licensed software will affect how you actually set the wheels in motion for compliance but, in reality, many firms will find themselves consulting experts who can provide specialist advice concerning the fastest - and most cost effective - routes to compliance.

At a minimum, here are the questions you need to be asking today:

* How will I source RTI compliant software
* How much will it cost
* What are the implementation timescales
* What changes are required to the data I supply
* What training and support can I access

It is only be facing the challenge head on that employers can ensure readiness and with significant penalties likely for non-compliance, it really is time to move into the implementation phase.

Why HMRC RTI BACS Approved Software?

1. Customers don't need to pay for any upgrades relating to RTI Submission.
2. Cloud Based solution which means no hardware's or legacy solutions to manage.
3. Highly secure giving you peace of mind.

Mission- to provide accessible online finance systems for our customers, for a one-off subscription fee. How do we do it? By creating an online cloud-based finance system that you can access anytime, anywhere, as long as you are connected to the internet. Why not find out more by clicking on this link to our website? You can read about why our cloud-based finance solution has no negatives; we'd be delighted to talk with you.

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