Professionals Who Can Support Your Business

When you’re running a small business you will have to keep a lot of plates spinning. You don’t just have managerial responsibility for your staff, you’re also in executive control, making decisions about the future direction of the business, and ensuring you are compliant with legal, and health and safety regulations.

It’s too big a job for one person, especially when you really need to be putting your focus into the practicalities of running this unique business you have set up. Fortunately, there are many professionals who exist to provide the support you need to ensure your business doesn’t run into an unexpected pothole.

The Law

It’s important to be aware of legal matters as they affect your business. Making sure you are compliant with the law, even laws you may not be aware of such as relatively new legislation relating to the gender pay gap, is important. It’s also advantageous to be ready for new laws even if they haven’t come into force yet, meaning you can begin to prepare your business to, for example, meet new health and safety standards before you’d actually be penalised for not doing so.

Finding the right business solicitors for you. You need a firm who understands the issues that affect your industry, and are also within your price range. Online lawyers are a relatively new development that allow you to pay only for the service you need, so if you need a simple contract reviewed you only pay for that rather than a full hour or more in a lawyer’s office.

A business lawyer can advise on legal compliance for your business, make sure your contracts are rock solid and get you exactly what you need without exposing you to risk and help to defuse threats of legal action against you should they come up.

Brought to Account

It’s also important to make sure you consult an account. While it’s possible to navigate the complexities of the tax system alone and not be penalised, the help of a professional trained in the system is invaluable. Making sure you are paying the correct amount of tax is a complicated business, affected by the sector your business is in, your number of employees, your earning and many more factors.

An accountant can not only take the stress out of the paperwork, but can also where you are paying too much tax, and make sure you don’t!

Overcoming the Obstacles of a Criminal Record

They say crime doesn’t pay, and they’re right. Crime doesn’t pay, it costs. Crime costs the victims, it costs society, and it costs the perpetrator once they are caught, tried, and convicted.

Nearly 70 million Americans currently live with a criminal record, most of whom are convicted of nonviolent offenses involving drugs and firearms possession. Whether sentenced to six months of community service or six years of a hard time, many soon discover after release from their punishment that the price for their poor choices has not yet been paid in full.

It turns out society has imposed many ways in which a criminal record continues to cost an individual long after they’ve done their time. Those in this situation – particularly those who have long ago learned their lessons and genuinely wish to be good citizens – are faced with some genuinely tough obstacles going forward.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome them for the patient and the informed:

Restoring Rights

Though one could always make some kind of argument to the contrary, it’s not likely the ability to own a gun and the ability to vote are critical for earning a living. However, if someone with a criminal record decides to try and reinstate these rights, it can become an expensive proposition if they opt to go straight to a lawyer versus doing most of the legwork and research themselves.

For instance, someone with a criminal record seeking to own firearms can get the process started online. Resources for how to restore gun rights will include sections on various state laws, as each state has their own pathway to reinstatement. Convicted persons living in Texas will discover they regain the right to keep a gun in their home five years after release from confinement or probation. No need to pay a lawyer $300 to tell you something found online.

The ability or inability for someone with a criminal record to vote in a local, statewide, or national election also varies from state to state. Before picking up the phone and calling a local attorney charging by the minute, give the ACLU executive summary on voting with a criminal record a look. It lays out the complicated but otherwise useful truth regarding voting rights for convicted criminals across the United States.

Finding Employment

Restoring rights and upholding them is nice and all, but most folks with a criminal record won’t start thinking about that until they land themselves a steady job and the financial security it brings. Unfortunately, the requirement to inform a potential employer of one’s criminal record means many otherwise qualified applicants never get that final phone call. Proponents of discriminating against convicted criminals in the workplace might say “Expand your horizons, relocate to find new opportunity!” and consider it a generous piece of advice to provide, but what about those bound by the geographical restrictions of parole and probation?

There are two ways for those with criminal records to increase the chances of employment. The first is education. While there are plenty of universities with exceptionally selective standards where a criminal record is not easy to overcome, many others are welcoming of anyone with the aptitude and desire to learn. A college degree doesn’t erase a criminal conviction, but it does make an individual more qualified for employment as well as demonstrate to potential employers a person’s dedication to a reformed way of life.

The other way for convicted criminals to better their odds of getting a good job is to have their record expunged. This essentially means having the criminal record sealed, after which it is legal to not disclose it to a potential employer. Now, having a criminal record expunged is not some magical process wherein one pays a lawyer a certain amount of money and *poof* their criminal past is suddenly gone. Many states will deny a request for expungement based on the severity of the crime, and other factors may prevent the process from occurring successfully. However, similar to restoring gun rights, an expungement is possible without a lawyer.

We expect those guilty of committing a crime to do the time. However, this time often extends long past what the judge sentenced due to a number of restrictions and policies aimed towards those with a criminal record. While it may never be possible to completely rid oneself of the cost of mistakes, it is possible to overcome the obstacles these mistakes create in order to spend the future making up for them.

Financial Lessons To Be Learned From Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones has become one of the most iconic fictional storylines of our generation. Known for intricate plot twists and a host of mythological conflicts, the series has set a high calibre. There are often underlying themes which can be extrapolated into real-life scenarios, and you’ll be surprised (or not) to learn that one of those themes revolve around financial habits and lessons. Examples of certain principles can be applied toward a money-saving or investment strategy.

“Brace Yourselves”

This is arguably the most popular meme of the series and has been seen on countless Reddit pages for well over four years. Depicting the motto of House Stark, this statement has far more ramifications than the impending winter alone. This can be roughly translated into the policy of being prepared for what may exist around an unforeseen corner. When applied to investing, it signifies that the investor should always have a financial buffer in the event that the markets do not perform as expected.

Dubious Debt

First coined during the 2013 season, the expression “a Lannister always pays his debts” is another solid take-away. Debt has been one of the underlying themes within Game of Thrones and it has caused conflict and chaos throughout the series. This very same observation holds true in real life. Loan defaults and other forms of debt mismanagement can cripple one’s ability to move forward. When times become lean, there will be little room for extra liquidity. Debts should be chosen wisely and the borrower always needs to be aware of his or her limitations.

Friends Versus Loan Institutions

Borrowing money from close friends or family can always be a dubious prospect. Remember when the Lannisters were put in a dangerous position after the Tyrell family loaned a veritable fortune to the Crown. This became even worse when the Lannisters suspected this family of aligning against them. The main point is that loans from personal acquaintances involves intense feelings of psychological obligation on both sides. Not only can this lead to contracts being broken, but long-standing relationships may be destroyed as a result.

Eyes on the Horizon

Planning ahead is obviously one of the most basic principles behind even the most basic investing strategies. Unfortunately, many investors still look at short-term gains as opposed to long-term milestones. This occurs even if they are otherwise astute at their profession. Let us look at King Robert. While brave and impassioned, he lacked the foresight to plan his estate. The entire realm of Westeros suffered as a result. The lesson here is that future estate planning as well as general long-term prudence are the two components of fiscal success.

The Virtues of Patience, and Prudence

Daenerys: one of the most loved characters on Game of Thrones, is known for far more than her captivating presence alone. In what can only be called a particularly ironic twist, this young woman displays much more patience than her older and more seasoned counterparts. When she was gifted seemingly useless dragon eggs, she neither sold them nor squandered their value. They eventually evolved into powerful weapons which she would use to forge her own niche within the empire.

While Game of Thrones is certainly fictional, there are always points that can be applied to the real world. Investors who are looking to eventually become “masters of their domain” should keep these strategies in mind when looking to succeed where others have failed.

How are your Retirement Plans Going? Tips for a Brighter Future

All the experts tell us that the most important thing about a pension is to start saving early. But the reality is that many people, for plenty of good reasons, simply cannot save for retirement in their early working years. So what can they do to improve their prospects as retirement draws closer?

Start Where You Are

OK, so you didn’t start saving for a pension in your 20s. It is no good just bemoaning that omission. Now is the time to do what you can, not to worry about what you cannot change.

Start by having a good hard look at your finances today. Analyze your income and expenditure and work out where the money is going. Look for every way to divert money from unnecessary spending into retirement saving. There may still be more urgent priorities, like paying off credit card debts, but even a small amount put into a pension fund will get you going in the right direction.

Maximize Your Savings

Pension saving is a special category of finance, due to extra help that you can get from both government and employer.

If you pay into a 401(k) scheme through your company payroll, that money goes into your pension pot free of tax. Moreover, your employer may well make a matching contribution. There will be a limit on the amount of matching contribution the employer will make, and there is a limit on the total amount that can be put into a scheme in any one year, although over-50s can contribute an extra “top-up” amount.

It is well worth your while finding out exactly how much your employer will contribute, and take as much advantage as you can.

Instead of, or as well as, a 401(k) scheme, you might consider putting your money into an Individual Retirement Arrangement. These are not managed by an employer, so there is no matching contribution, but they are transferable between jobs and often have lower charges.

Using Your Home

If you own your own house, this is a good source of potential to help with your retirement. One option would be to downsize and to release some of the equity that you have. This can help you with your expenses (although it would be a finite resource) or be invested into a means to increase your income. Try to keep track of the equity that you have as you approach retirement.

Property can also generate income, for instance by taking in rent-paying boarders or running a small bed-and-breakfast business.

Saving on Your Car

As well as earning in retirement, you can make a hobby out of saving money. The costs of running a car are often underestimated by those who are used to a company car. A good way to build a rewarding hobby that will also save money is by learning how to maintain and repair your own car. Good manuals are available for all makes of cars; for instance, fans of Swedish technology who get hold of a Volvo service repair manual can do a surprising amount of their own work.

Continue Earning

Retirement is not necessarily a time to stop earning money altogether, but an opportunity for a new way to earn. If your retirement fund is not likely to keep you in the style you wish, now may be a good time to start preparing for a different work pattern—one in which you can be in control of your time.

Look at your hobbies, and consider if any of them can be turned into productive work. Artists, musicians, and writers may well be able to find work through the internet; people with experience in home maintenance will always be in demand; builders of toys may find a ready market locally.

Now is a good time to build your skills to a marketable level, and to plan the contacts you will need when the time comes.

Alternatively, if you have professional qualifications, you may find that you are in demand to work occasionally or part-time into retirement. Know whom you should inform of your availability—while you are still in the loop.

A New Start

Retirement is not the end of a working life, but a new phase. For a lucky few, that will mean a life completely relieved of the necessity to earn a living, but for many others, it is an opportunity to change gear, and to be productive in a new way. Maximizing your pension pot is a good start, but it is not the end of retirement planning.

How to Figure Out What You Need for Retirement

Retirement may be a long way off for you, but the years will pass by more quickly than you think. Unless you’ve already got a sizable chunk of change socked away, you are likely already behind in your retirement planning. If you don’t end up with the money you need by the time you retire, you may have other options, such as continuing to invest and striking it big or getting a reverse mortgage on your home. But the best thing you can do is start planning now so that you have more control over your retirement. Start by checking out these reverse mortgage facts.

But planning for retirement may seem like a daunting task. Where do you even begin? How do you account for all the variables? Here are some easy steps you can take to figure out how much you will need in retirement:

Calculate Years of Retirement

You can’t know how much you will need for retirement if you don’t know how many years you will spend in retirement. Start by figuring out when you plan to retire. If you’re like most people, you want to retire as soon as possible. But if you’re like most people, you won’t actually retire until the full benefit age of 66. Soon, that age will rise to 67. Eventually, it may rise even more. So if you are in your 30s now, you may be looking at a later retirement age in the coming years.

Next – and here’s the uncomfortable part – you need to figure out how long you are likely to live. Of course, no one can know this for sure. You may smoke every day and live to be 100 like your dear old granddad, or you may get hit by a car on your 67th birthday. The only thing you can do is figure out how long you are likely to live and use that for planning purposes. You can use a mortality calculator that considers your unique lifestyle factors, or you can just use the average lifespan in the United States, which is 79 years old. If you retire at 67 and will only live to 79, you need to plan to have about 12 years’ worth of income for your retirement.

Determine Your Needed Income

You won’t need to make as much money as you do now to support yourself in retirement – or, at least, that’s the idea. The general rule of thumb has been that you need about 70 percent of your current income during retirement. So if you make $100,000 a year now, you will need about $70,000 a year in retirement. Ideally, you would have your home paid off by then and you wouldn’t be supporting children or buying a lot of new things, like furniture and household goods. Therefore, you won’t need as much to live.

Compare Rates

Look at how much you have in your current savings or retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. Now look at the rate of return on those accounts and compare that to the rate of inflation. That will let you know how much the money will grow and deplete over time. For example, you may have an IRA that returns an average of 6 percent each year, which you can compound over time to see how much you will have at retirement age. But then you have to subtract the 3 percent inflation rate each year to see how much that money will actually be worth in terms of spending dollars.

Determine Monthly Savings Amount

Once you know how much you are likely to have from your current retirement accounts and your social security benefit (assuming it’s still there when you retire), you can figure out the deficit between what you will need and what you will have. Then you can figure out how much you need to be saving every month to make up the difference. Even if you can’t save all that amount each month now, you can start putting aside a little and build up to the full amount when your income increases.

Whatever steps you can take to save for retirement now will save you a lot of heartache later. Use these steps to figure out exactly how much you will need.

How To Teach Your Children To Manage Their Money

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about how to manage their money. Keeping track of your spending and managing your finances is something that everyone struggles with from time to time. We all know that a direct payday loan lender can be necessary to help you get by until the next pay day, but teaching your children how to budget is a skill for life and will hopefully keep them out of debt in the future.

Teach Them The Value Of Money

Most children don’t grasp that money needs to be spent carefully and isn’t just used for buying the things they want. The easiest way to show children the value of money is to talk about it when you are food shopping. Ask them to help you to choose the items you put in your trolley and explain whether they’ve chosen the best value item. Point out deals and cheaper alternatives, this will teach them to shop by value and shows them how expensive some items can be!

A Savings Jar

Children who instantly get everything they ask for don’t learn the true value of money. Teaching them that they must wait and save up before they can buy something they want is an important money management lesson. Although a savings account can be useful for older children, a savings jar is a good way to visibly demonstrate to children that the pocket money they save is building up over time. This makes the purchase more satisfying and teaches children the importance of savings and being patient.

Give Them An Allowance

Some parents may disagree with giving their children money. But giving children a small monthly, or weekly, allowance is a good way to teach them some basic budgeting skills. If they know that their allowance is the only money they will have to spend that month, they will soon learn that they can’t have the latest new toy or game every week.  If your children still impulsively spend their money as soon as they get it, try challenging them to wait a few weeks.

If an allowance isn’t something you are comfortable with then offer them the chance to earn their pocket money by completing basic house hold chores. This shows them that hard work can be worthwhile, setting them up for the future.

Keeping Track

Try to encourage your children to keep track of their spending in a notebook. Try to put a fun spin on it by making it a game or giving them an old purse to keep their recipients in. This will help you to explain that some of the things your children are buying- typically things like sweets or the latest fad- are using up a big chunk of their allowance. Alternatively, show them how you manage the family budget. Explain that you have to work so you can afford to buy all the things on the list, so they understand that money doesn’t just get given to you by the bank!

Does Today’s Youth Know How To Handle Finances

In grade school, high school and college, you are forced to take many classes on an array of subject matters. Anywhere from English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, and History. If you were lucky you may even be exposed to special courses such as art, music, health, home economics and trade classes. One thing that most of us were not exposed to are personal finances, meaning every day finances that a family deals with in a home. I personally think this would be a good idea to help men and women learn to do things from a financial perspective in a classroom that may appear to be common sense but aren’t.

What can be done?

Similar to a home economics class that teaches you how to cook and sew, or a woodshop class that teaches you to build things made out of wood, a financial 101 class should be introduced into high schools to teach students the essential financial tools of running a household. This class would be mandatory so students would not be surprised by the responsibilities involved in financing their lives and their family’s life when they are on their own. A recent study in Canada by LowestRates.ca showed that only 31% of millennials could pass a financial literacy test. Financial literacy simply means the ability to understand how money works in the world. This is disturbing.

Subject Matter

There are many items that should be addressed in such a course. Kids need to be able to function in the real world. It would be ideal to teach information on mortgages, taxes, insurance, bank accounts, etc. These are all subjects that are addressed on a daily basis as an adult. All of us have been forced to figure it out, but wouldn’t it eliminate the unnecessary stress of starting off on your own?

How do you balance a checkbook? How do you make a budget? How can you begin to save money? What is a 401K? What do you need insurance for? How do you get insurance? What is involved in buying a new home? How do mortgages work? What is a loan? How do you get a credit card? How do you maintain good credit? What are taxes? How do you file and pay taxes?

All of these questions could be addressed and help today’s youth in understanding their financial situation better when they are on their own.