New Years and Money

The beginning of the year can be tough for some families. The holidays usually lead to excessive spending so you often feel the monetary effects after the holidays pass. A brand new year also means preparations for tax time as well. Depending on your lifestyle and business choices, you may owe money for taxes. The New Year also means New Years Resolutions for most families causing for some changes in family spending. For all of these reasons, New Years is often a popular time to think about your spending and savings and ways to improve your family’s financial situation. Below are a few tips to aid in your family’s quest to a money makeover.

Lower Bills

The first and most obvious source of a budget killer are utilities and monthly bills. So a key to saving money is to evaluate what you are spending your money on and if you can lower it. Lower your costs and you will have more money available to save. Keep a list of all of your monthly bills and utilities to see if there is anyway to eliminate any. Do you belong to gym but never use it? Cancel the membership! Do you have multiple cable boxes in the house? Do you use them all? Can any of them be eliminated to save money on your cable bill? You can also call your cable, cell phone, car insurance, etc. to see if you are getting the best deal. It’s possible that just by calling you may be able to save some major cash. It’s better to be saving money than uselessly spending it.

Coupons

An easy way to save money and an easy way to be frugal is by using coupons. Coupons can be used basically everywhere. You can use coupons on groceries, clothing, gas, travel, etc. There are so many places to find coupons. One way they come is through the mail. People often find advertisements, flyers and coupons from their favorite stores in the mail. Most stores ask you to provide your email so that they can send you coupons via email as well. Another popular source now a days are discount sites. Popular sites available are Groupon, Couponcabin.com or Retailmenot.com . Just by going to the site you can find any coupons available for a particular store or service. Depending on how serious you are with using coupons, you can save some major cash.

Stash Away Money

Your everyday spending is something to be evaluated as well. Spending money on little things can add up to major cash per month. The biggest culprit is coffee. If you get your coffee out than it could add up to $50-$100 a month. That could be your water bill, or even go towards your child’s education. It is best to try to put off on purchasing these novelties on a normal basis. If you can’t, then a trick that is good for saving is to stash away money  each time you go and spend money on these type of purchases. You spend $2.47 on coffee in the morning? Put the 0.53 in a savings account. Over time it will accumulate to substantial cash.

Loan

If you dug yourself a hole and are having a hard time getting yourself out, than a loan may be something to consider to pay off your debt. There are many sources of funding, like norskkreditt.no, that can help you research what is best for you and your family.

These quick tips are just a way to get you started on your way to saving. Obviously there are extremes for each of these but even doing a little bit at a time will help and eventually add up to something. It is important to be disciplined, than you will be able to save for you and your family. Let the new year be a new start for your family when it comes to saving and spending.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

You know your credit score is important. After all, lenders use this three-digit number to decide whether to approve you for new loans and lines of credit. That’s a big deal if you need a loan to buy a car, become a homeowner or start a business.

When your credit score falls short of your expectations, fixing it is a priority. The question is how to improve your credit score quickly so that you can move forward with your financial goals. With the right plan, you can begin to see an improvement in your score in just a few months.

1. Know what’s working against you

Your credit score is based on what’s in your credit report. Things like late or missed payments, high credit card balances and numerous inquiries for new credit can all drag your score down. Taking a look at your credit habits can help you understand why your score is low.

2. Get on a payment schedule

Payment history is THE biggest influencer when it comes to your credit score. Even one late payment could knock up to 100 points off your score. If you’ve paid late in the past, you should be focused on paying on time, every time going forward. Set up email or text alerts with your credit cards and loan accounts so you know when they’re due each month. If you want to make absolutely sure you’re never late, schedule automatic payments for all of your bills.

3. Set up balance alerts with your credit cards

Next to payment history, your credit utilization has the next biggest impact on your score. This means how much of your available credit you’re using. If you have balances on one or more of your credit cards, you could make a difference in your score quickly simply by paying them down.

Aiming to use 30% or less of your total credit limit is a good benchmark to follow if you’re hoping to improve your credit score. To keep yourself under the limit, set up balance alerts with your credit cards so you know how much of your credit line you’re using at any given time.

4. Increase your credit limits if possible

As you work on paying down your credit cards, you can improve your credit score in a different way. Asking for a credit limit increase can widen the gap between what you owe and your credit limit. Many credit cards let you request an increase online but if you don’t have a great credit score, you may be better off calling and making your case to a customer service rep.

5. Check your credit regularly

Checking your own credit score won’t hurt you and it can be helpful to see where you’re starting from and what’s working for you or against you over time. You can check your free credit score with Credit Sesame. Your information is updated monthly so you can see what kind of progress you’re making in your credit improvement efforts.

When Life Sneaks Up On You: 3 Resources You Can Use When Life’s Unexpected Moments Pop Up

Whether it’s an unexpected medical emergency, your car breaks down, or you accidentally break something, render it useless, and need to repair it as soon as possible, it’s good to have some sort of a backup plan that allows you to handle the problem and get back up on your feet. Today, we’re going to discuss the top 3 resources that can get you out of trouble when life just doesn’t deal you the cards you’d want:

  1. Your savings

Of course, you need to actually have some money put on the side for this to be counted upon, but the concept of saving money is really important; a little bit of planning things in advance can make life so much easier later on. While true that you won’t be able to amass a small fortune in a couple of days, just think about how much money you can accumulate if you don’t go overboard with your spending habits and funnel it towards your savings stash instead.

For starters, set a goal of how much you’re comfortable putting aside each month. Depending on your overall income, it could be $50, it could be $100, or any amount you see fit. But even just a $100 a month will turn into $1200 a year, a whole whopping grand. Just think about how many emergencies this could cover.

  1. Insurance

By paying a small monthly premium and opting to actively protect yourself against predetermined disasters, having the right type of insurance can effectively save you from a financial disaster. For example, some people choose to have their car insured (having a car insurance of some sort may even be legally required in certain countries), so when something happens, the insurance company jumps in and covers the repair costs without you having to worry about it.

Depending on what you’re most exposed to in your life and the risks you are taking on a regular basis, you may want to consider a specific form of insurance custom-tailored to your needs (like personal injury insurance, for example).

  1. Personal loans

If you simply haven’t had the time to prepare in advance and life catches you unprepared, personal loans are an option to consider. These types of loans are used for non-commercial purposes, may be unsecured, and repaid in monthly installments. However, do keep in mind they have a rather high-interest rate, which is something you need to consider before making your final decision.

When it comes to personal loans, it’s easy to get swayed into borrowing more money than you actually need, simply because most of the providers are willing to offer you lower interest rates when you borrow a large sum of money. But no matter what you do, the most important thing is making sure that you’re going to be able to pay it back when the time comes, otherwise things could end up unnecessarily complicated.

Conclusion

When life gets sour, don’t panic and retain a calm mind instead, even though every cell in your body wants to start screaming and throwing tantrums. By remaining calm and level-headed, you’ll find that most of the unexpected problems in life are solvable in one way or another, especially if you’ve prepared for them in advance.

Can You Withdraw From Your RRSPs Before You Retire?

If you have a traditional RRSP, you might be wondering if it is possible to take money out of it for an emergency before you reach retirement age. The answer is “yes” – you can withdraw from your RRSP before you retire, but you will have to pay tax on it immediately. And the sad reality is the taxes might be much more than you would pay if you waited until you were retirement age. Also, if you withdraw money from your RRSP early, then you take the chance of permanently altering the original contribution room you had to save according to government guidelines.

What are the tax consequences of withdrawing from your RRSP ahead of time?

When you withdraw from your RRSPs before you actually retire, then the financial institution holding the funds is required to take an immediate tax and pay it to the government in your name. Depending on what the specific tax rate is, the amount you will pay will probably be somewhere between 10-30% and is determined by how much you withdraw. If you live in Quebec, you might get a slight break with the taxes only being between 5-15%, but there will also be a provincial tax amount held back.

Also, if you withdraw money from your retirement account early, then the amount that you take out is subject to being taxed. The money from your RRSP becomes “taxable income” – so in reality, you are taxed on the same money twice. Whether or not that will affect how much you owe on your taxes is related to your earnings and income situation. But before you take money from your RRSP, it is essential to understand whether it could put you in a higher tax bracket and end up costing you a whole lot.

What is the anti-avoidance rule?

In July of 2011, a new anti-avoidance rule went into effect to encourage people not to take money from their Assiniboine Credit Union RRSP accounts. The government decided that any money that you withdraw before retiring is considered income and taxed accordingly. The rule is that you are supposed to pay the amount of tax that equals the total amount of money that you gained at a rate of 100%.

What are the two reasons that withdrawing from your RRSP makes financial sense?

If you use it to buy your first home

The laws state that you and your spouse are both allowed to borrow as much as $25,000 out of your RRSP account if you are going to use it as a down payment on your first home. Under the Home Buyers’ Plan, if you use your RRSP money for a home purchase, then you don’t have to pay any taxes on it – as long as you pay it back within 15 years from when you borrow it.

If you use it to pay for training or education

If you or your spouse wants to use your RRSP for educational goals or to attend training, then you may both borrow up to $20,000 from your plan to pay for either part-time or full-time educational expenses under the LifeLong Learning Plan. The maximum you can withdraw in any one year is $10,000. If you do take out money to further your educational goals, it won’t be taxed as long as you pay it back within 10 years from when you borrow it.

If you find yourself in an emergency where you need money quickly, then you might want to really think twice about withdrawing money from your RRSP instead of trying to take out a loan. Sometimes, depending on the amount you withdraw and your income tax bracket, you might end up owing more than you think. If you use it for either a first-time home purchase or to further your education, then it might be a good idea. Just make sure that you pay it back in the time allotted, or you can end up being taxed on it twice – which can add up quickly.

Benefits of Owning Your Own Business

A lot of people would agree that putting up your own business brings a lot of benefits. Surely enough, that is true, but it has to be a successful one.

Now, if you’ve saved up some money and you’re still contemplating whether or not you’re going to create your own business venture, then I am here to convince you.

In today’s article, I will be going over some of the benefits of owning your own business.

  1.    You are the Boss

So, you’re probably accustomed to taking orders from your boss and doing what is required of you every single day.

That may be good and all, but there might be times where you just don’t want to work on something, especially if it is something that you do not want to do.

Well, if you have your own business, you are the boss. You are going to be the one calling the shots. You are going to be the one who steers the company/business towards the direction you want to go.

Essentially, you have all the power. Don’t want to work for today? That’s fine, you can just have someone to work on something for you.

  1.    Hire Your Own Staff

When you are going to do something grand, say, putting up your own money-making machine, you need to have people who you can trust.

When you are the leader of the business, you have the responsibility of hiring your own staff. Perhaps you want to hire your best friend to do some accounting duties. Or maybe, you want your wife to do the Human resources work that is needed by your business. Whatever it is, you have complete control of who you want to hire.

  1.    You Can Make Investments

Maybe you want to create a restaurant business or maybe, you want to sell some computer components. Whatever it is, you’re going to be the one to make the investments. After all, you are the boss, right?

  1.    Management

Running a venture from the ground up can be tiresome, so you definitely need to be in complete control.

If your business has grown considerably, you will need to hire more personnel to handle the workload. The beauty of owning your own business is that you can manage everything in your company. You even have the power to manage the finances as well.

Speaking of finances, if you find that your business requires some more money, you might want to consider getting some from cash advance online schemes.

From the staff person to the manager, you have what it takes to keep your service up and running.

  1.    Feel Pride

And lastly, once you’ve built your own business and made it successful for the years to come, you will feel that sense of pride and accomplishment.

Let me tell you, owning your own business is hard. But, once you’ve figured it out how to stay relevant for the years to come, nothing can beat that feeling of pride.

Conclusion

So there you have it. There are a lot of benefits to owning your own business. You are the boss, you can hire the people you trust, you can steer the company to the right direction, and best of all, you can feel awesome just making a venture from the ground up.

Refocusing Your Financial Strategy for 2018

A troubling trend is taking hold in U.S. households; nearly 8 out of 10 workers report they are living paycheck to paycheck, and the number of Americans living on the financial edge is only growing. The paycheck to paycheck lifestyle drives many people to incur debt or otherwise struggle and sacrifice when expected expenses arise, and far too many people are relying on credit cards to make ends meet. This has resulted in crisis-level debt situations for far too many families, with 1 in every 50 households (approximately 2 million families) carrying more than $20,000 in credit card debt. In fact, revolving credit has experienced an annual growth rate of about 4.9 percent, and with a greater number of consumers (even those with subprime credit scores) being approved for credit cards, it’s likely those numbers will continue to rise.

 

But credit card debt isn’t the only storm cloud hanging above the heads of the American majority; mortgages, student debt, auto loans, and personal loans account for a huge portion of the debt burden in the United States as well. For many American families living paycheck to paycheck, what feels like a manageable amount of debt one day can start to feel like drowning in the space of one small crisis.

For all these reasons, it’s important to refocus your financial strategy as we enter into the new year; when it comes to getting out of debt, saving for retirement, or making smart investments, time is money.

  1. Analyze your spending habits. If you haven’t already taken control of your finances by getting a realistic sense of where your money is going, it’s time to start balancing the budget. Many people not only don’t know what they actually spend their money on, but also don’t have any real knowledge of just how much they owe. You should be managing your finances with a big picture sense of all your expenses and an honest assessment of how much money you have coming in each month. Once you’ve sorted out the budget, you can start making adjustments to your spending habits. Analyze what financial planning strategies work for you and which don’t pay off, and adjust accordingly.
  2. Invest in yourself. If you’re regularly finding that you’ve got a bit too much month at the end of your money, it may be time to consider some sort of side hustle or a second job to gain some financial traction. While most people are in debt, nearly 80 percent of Americans report that they incurred that debt to invest in themselves or opportunities. If you’ve got a creative talent or a compelling product or service, check out Shopify templates to earn some extra cash on the side or even launch a full-time entrepreneurial endeavor.
  3. Take advantage of balance transfers. One of the fastest ways to get out of debt is to transfer the high-interest debt to a low or 0 percent interest balance transfer card so that the money you put toward your debt makes a greater impact. Assess all your credit card debt and consolidate as many high-interest cards as possible; since most people have debt spread across several credit cards, you’ll want to understand exactly which transfers will make the greatest difference in your overall financial health. Remember that your best bet is to pay off the balance of your transferred debt within the promotional period so you save money on interest, so pay particular attention to those details when selecting a balance transfer card.
  4. Avalanche debt. You may have heard of debt advisor and media personality Dave Ramsey’s recommendation of “snowballing debt,” in which you pay off the lowest balance first, then apply those payments to the next lowest balance once the first is paid off, and so on. This strategy can be super motivating since you get to see debt disappear quickly when you focus on the smallest bills, but an even more focused version of this strategy is the “avalanche” method, where you attack the highest interest rates first to reduce the amount of unnecessary interest spending. The most targeted financial strategy would be to strike a balance between the two; for example, taking the extra money you save each month by paying off the lowest balance debt and applying it to the card with the highest interest rate instead of the next smallest balance.
  5. Start tracking your credit. Now that you’ve got a handle on what’s happening with your finances, it’s important to stay in the know. Start tracking your credit through any number of free websites and apps; not only will a healthy credit score help you get the best rates and offers, but tracking it will ensure identity fraud or other security threats don’t compromise all your hard work.

If you feel as though you’re shackled to your debt and the risky paycheck to paycheck lifestyle that necessitates it, know that you can remove the irons. By refocusing your financial strategy as we approach the new year, you can start taking steps toward establishing greater financial freedom in the future.

What strategies have helped you focus on and improve your financial health?

BENEFITS OF A VPN

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN is a service that provides a securely encrypted connection to the internet. It basically enhances your security and privacy when it comes to your internet activity. It allows you to do such things as gain access to region-restricted websites, download torrent files anonymously, mask your internet usage from your ISP and prevent prying eyes from listening in on your activity on public Wi-Fi.

Benefits

There are many benefits to using a VPN and the first is obviously privacy. If you do not like the idea of someone watching your every move then this is something to think about. By connecting through a VPN you are hiding your internet activity from your internet service provider, government or anyone who wants to record your every move if they wanted to.

Another capability VPNs have is to evade censorship. An example of this would be if your work or school is blocking a certain site or only low you to do you certain things. By logging into a private VPN you will be able to get around this.

Similar to evading censorship, it also allows you to geo-spoof your location. This is basically tricking your device into thinking you are somewhere else. If you are being denied access to services or sites based on your geographical location this may come in handy.

One extremely convenient benefit to using a VPN is that you are protection your security and privacy. When using WIFI or a public hot spot you are susceptible to hackers getting into your connection and accessing your information. Whether it being your bank account information, password information or websites visited, it is scary to think people can see this information. A VPN may put your mind at ease.

If you are involved with P2P networks (Peer to Peer networks), it will allow you to download files safely. P2P networks are computer systems connected to each other so that files can be shared directly without the need of a central server. Again, VPNs allow you to securely and privately participate in this sort of network.

HOW IT WORKS

In order to use a VPN you must sign up for a VPN service. This type of service typically cost about $5 to $10 a month. You need to contact service providers to get information on how to get you started.

By weighing these benefits you will be able to determine if investing in this service is right for you and your business or family.