Buying Property: Is This the Best Investment for You?

Once upon a time, if you were going to achieve the “American Dream” you’d need to be a homeowner. However, recent studies have indicated that many are starting to believe that owning property isn’t the best financial investment with 43% of participants in a study believing this to be the case. Furthermore, nearly 50% felt that financial success could be achieved just as easily by those renting property as those who owned it.

So, is owning property a good long-term investment? Or, are people given more financial flexibility and just as much security if they rent a property?

Long-term Investments in Property

As mentioned previously, many Americans now believe that strong long-term investments aren’t achieved through housing. A leading expert on housing in the U.S., Robert Shiller, found that from 1890 to 1990, there was almost no change in the real inflation-corrected prices of houses.

Evidently, these statistics go against the reasons why people will purchase property to invest, as most will believe that buying property will provide them with a financial gain in the future when they come to sell it. With decreasing housing prices witnessed during the early stages of this century and in the 20th century, the instability of housing prices doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

While housing does stay in line with inflation (historically speaking), there are a vast amount of changeable factors that can have a negative effect, including changes in style preferences, technological advancements and changes in amenities.

Higher returns over time are far more likely to come from the stock market than property investments and are perhaps a more clear-cut answer for those looking to invest. Nevertheless, many would still argue that housing offers security and a sense of pride when investing in this.

The Financial Security of Renters

Even though attitudes are changing towards buying homes and renting, it is still clear that being a homeowner is more likely to be a better financial decision than renting. A report conducted in 2013 found that a higher net worth was generated by those households who had a low- and moderate-income, compared to their equivalents who rented property.

While the study didn’t provide conclusive evidence that homeownership is the right avenue to take, it did show that over three years, those with mortgages increased their net worth by $20,000 compared to those renting who achieved $15,000.

Many do argue that renting should increase wealth faster but research always tends to find that homeowners have this advantage instead.

Should You Invest in Property?

Homeownership isn’t for everyone and it may not be the right decision for you. To start with, you’ll need to find a large payment that you’ll have to make upfront, which will affect your liquid assets for quite some time. And, mortgages can vary so you’ll need to look into the rates, fees and payment schedules of these before proceeding. Also, take into consideration where you’re looking at property because some areas will provide greater benefits for renters than homeowners, and vice versa.

Should you be thinking about investing in property to rent out to others, there are also a number of financial considerations you’ll need to make here. Like a dividend-paying utility stock, rental income will provide you with steady payment amounts each month, where any price appreciation you achieve will be a welcome addition. However, unlike buying a low-cost index fund, you’ll have to consider the additional work of having to deal with tenants and maintaining the property.

You’ll need to establish whether you can take on this extra work and whether you’re prepared to deal with tenant calls out-of-hours and what you would do if a tenant stopped paying their rent. Make sure you’re aware of what ongoing maintenance costs you may have as well as the initial costs of renovations. If all of these aspects aren’t taken into consideration at the start of your investment, it could severely impact the returns you receive.

In summary; if you’re looking to buy a property to get your first step on the property ladder or you want to make some investments for the future, carefully consider what options are available to you. Analyze what return on investment you can realistically expect and calculate this against other avenues, such as investing in stocks. Doing your homework first will enable you to make an informed decision that provides you with the right financial investment for you.

Jade Gould is a consultant who works with individuals and selected small businesses. Keen to share his knowledge and always ready to offer his opinion he really enjoys writing articles and seeing his words help others.

 

Take Care Of Your Car Early And Often To Save Money

When you buy a new car, it smells brand new and sparkles on the outside, but it won’t stay that way for long until you take special care of your vehicle. You need to wash, clean, and polish regularly to keep your car in top shape. And the more time you spend on it, the better your car will look. But it takes time and effort! Personally, I didn’t take good enough care of my car, and after 3 years, it’s got some water spots and the interior could use a good cleaning. It won’t be cheap, and I would have saved money had I taken care of it properly from day one instead of waiting years to get serious about keeping it clean.

This is doubly true when it comes to regular maintenance. Whether it’s normal oil changes and air filter replacements, tire rotations, or more serious issues like brake replacement, the better you take care of your car, the cheaper it will be in the long run. Take it from someone who knows! You can get all the products you need to take care of your car from AutoZone, from cleaning supplies and replacement parts, to tools and accessories to give your car some personality. Just don’t get those headlight eyelashes, please! With their excellent customer service, you can be sure that you’ll get the right advice on products to keep your car looking as good as the day you drove it off the lot.

With all the different types of maintenance and upkeep you just read about, it might be a bit overwhelming to think about how much this is going to cost you. After all, you just spent tens of thousands of dollars on the car itself, who wants to spend more just to keep it looking good? Well, there’s good news for you! Groupon has some great AutoZone coupons that can help defray the cost of all these products.

This is true not only for AutoZone but for also hundreds of other retailers. So anytime you’re thinking about going shopping, head on over and see if you’re favorite retailer has a coupon. You never know, you could end up saving a lot of money by taking an extra minute to search before you buy.

With your car, the more time you put into a car early on, the more you’ll save in the long-run. The same is true when trying to save money on something you’re going to by anyway: spend a few minutes searching for a coupon and you’ll save money with minimal effort!

Should we be Using Mobile Banking?

Our smartphones have revolutionized the way we live our lives. They have become integral to communication, to organization, and now to banking. Mobile banking applications are becoming increasingly popular and are slowly but surely overtaking more conventional means of making financial transactions.

Acknowledging the fact that convenience is a key selling point, most major commercial bank offer the capacity to send money and make deposits using a mobile app. Bank of America has stated that more of their customers use their mobile banking platform than their online banking service and the technology is improving daily. Mobile phones can now even be used as contactless credit cards using near-field communication (NFC) technology. This means that PIN numbers and debit cards might one day become a thing of the past.

All of this advancement sounds incredible, yet there are often downsides to every innovation. So how do the benefits of mobile phone banking stack up against these drawbacks? And are we increasingly becoming reliant on technology that we don’t even fully understand?

Mobile banking is easy to set up

Getting started with mobile banking is easy and straightforward for those familiar with technology and mobile apps. With just a few swipes of your finger, you can get your mobile banking set up and running. You simply use your existing internet banking details and then everything is available to you at the touch of a button. The majority of banks even offer a customer service line that you can contact at any hour of the day.

Mobile banking saves a lot of time

There is no denying that mobile banking saves a considerable amount of time. Gone are the days when we used to waste what seemed like hours lining up to be served by a cashier at the bank. With mobile banking, you can check account balances, send and receive payments, schedule transactions, and transfer money at a moment’s notice from any location.

Mobile banking is unarguably convenient

Last year, research from the US Federal Reserve revealed that 87% of US adults own a mobile phone, and 71% of these mobile phones are internet-enabled smartphones. This was a 10% increase from 2014. This same research showed that 39% of adults with mobile phones used them for banking. This data demonstrates both the growing reliance on mobile phone technology and the increasing willingness of people to use mobile banking due to how conveniently it works in their modern lives.

People are wary of security risks

One major concern surrounding mobile banking is that of security. Smartphones are such a large part of our lives that we often forget how new the technology is and how badly things could go wrong if security was breached. There are risks with any banking method you choose, but there are steps that you can put in place to minimize the likelihood of fraud.

Ensure that you have malware software on your smartphone and always certify that the banking app you pick is authentic and not created by fraudsters. Ensure that your phone’s locking mechanism is active and that it requires a PIN, passcode, or fingerprint to open. Set up your phone to lock automatically after a set time. Update your mobile banking app whenever a new version becomes available. All of this should make it more difficult for hackers to reverse-engineer viruses or to find weak points in security. Out-of-date banking applications are much more vulnerable to attacks. Having said this, in many ways mobile banking beat out traditional security measures such as PIN codes and signatures. It is much easier to fake someone’s signature than to steal their phone.

Beware of impulse overspending

With enthusiasm and innovative new mobile technology comes the temptation to spend especially when access to our own money is so easy. Regardless of how inviting it might be to take to the internet and spoil yourself with an impulse buy, it is best to reign in this behavior. New research shows how mobile banking apps are causing young people (aged 18 to 34) to be far too willing to embrace compulsive spending with the impulse spending of this age group being double that of those aged 55 and over.

 

Reckless spending and lack of control can easily send you down a debt spiral. If this occurs, consult an expert in debt management. These professionals have access to innovative insolvency software, which can help track your incomings and outgoings and calculate payment plans, thereby getting you back on sturdy financial ground.

How a Business Factoring Loan Helps Your Business Gain Working Capital

Offering credit to your clients potentially increases your sales base, and, in some cases, it’s the industry standard, meaning there’s virtually no way to avoid it. Unfortunately, however, the delay between issuing the invoice and receiving payment can cut into your working capital. If you’re staring at a stack of unpaid invoices wondering if there’s a way to turn them into cash, it’s time to consider factoring. Here’s how it works:

Factoring Turns Accounts Receivables into Working Capital

The factoring process is simple – you turn your accounts receivables over to a factoring company and the factoring company gives you cash based on the value of your unpaid invoices. In most cases, factoring companies forward about 75% of the total value of the invoices you are trying to collect. For example, if you have $10,000 in unpaid invoices, the factoring company may give you a $7,500 advance.

As your clients pay these invoices, the factor pays you the remainder of the balance minus its fee. In most cases, factoring fees cost between 2 and 6% of the total collected. To continue with the above example, once all of your invoices have been collected, you receive an additional payment worth between $1,900 and $2,300. In total, this means you have received between $9,400 and $9,800 in exchange for your $10,000 worth of accounts receivables, but, instead of waiting for the funds, you received most of them upfront.

Factoring Fills Your Business Coffers Quickly

The application for a factoring loan is traditionally much faster and easier than applying for a business loan. Rather than meeting with lenders, drafting a business plan and gathering all of your financial documents, you rely solely on the value of your unpaid invoices.

Online factors in particular tend to approve factoring loans very expediently, and these loans fund quickly as well. In many cases, businesses have the operating capital they need within a day.

Factoring Doesn’t Increase Your Debt Load

Unlike other business loans, factoring doesn’t increase your debt load. Instead, factoring just turns accounts receivables (an asset on your balance sheet) into cash. In addition, because you pay factoring loans upfront with your invoices, you don’t’ have to worry about juggling more monthly payments or increasing your debt liability in general. That also helps preserve your operating capital so you can spend it on the things you need rather than on loan repayments.

Similarly, as factoring loans aren’t based on your business or personal credit rating, you don’t have to worry about being rejected on the basis of your creditworthiness and that can take a lot of uncertainty out of the application process. However, it’s important to note that some factoring companies look into the creditworthiness of your clients, and they may request information on your client’s payment histories before they extend a loan.

Factoring Companies Give You Relief from Debt Collection Activities

Some factors give you an advance on your invoices, and then they simply wait for the invoices to get paid per usual. In other cases, once the factor gives you the advance, they start trying to collect on your invoices. If you work with a factor that does the latter, it lifts the burden of debt collection activity from your business.

Rather than calling old clients to recoup old debts, your staff can direct their talents in other places. That potentially saves payroll hours, allowing you to focus that portion of your operating capital on other critical areas of your business.

Factoring Offers Multiple Options

Many factors offer a lump sum advance, followed by small payments as the invoices are paid, but, in other cases, factors offer a business line of credit. With a line of credit, you receive access to all of the advance payment from your invoices, but you don’t have to spend all of it. As a result, you don’t pay fees or interest on the amount that you don’t spend.

Many businesses prefer this level of flexibility, as they can take out operating capital when they need to pay employees, buy office supplies, cover utility bills or take care of other current expenses, but if they have a lot of sales one week and they don’t need the boost from their factoring line of credit, they can leave it untouched.

Factoring is Not for Everyone

Although factoring can be an effective way to access operating capital without taking out a loan, it isn’t the right choice for every business. If you already have access to a personal or business line of credit with a lower interest rate than the factor’s fee, it’s more cost effective to use that instead. Similarly, if you don’t want to cut into your profits and you have time to spare, you may just want to wait until your clients pay their invoices. Additionally, in some cases, factors set minimum limits, and they only work with companies who have a certain value of invoices. If you don’t meet the threshold, you may also want to explore alternative options.

Accounts receivables are an asset on paper, but they offer no help when you have a pile of current bills to pay. Factors can eliminate this issue by turning your accounts receivables into cash. If your operating capital needs a boost and you don’t have the time or desire to take out more debt, factoring can be the best option.

The Top Three Ways you Can Become a Better Trader

Whether you’ve been trading for a while now or you are looking to start your new ventures into forex, you need be on top of your game. There’s no time in the trading markets for those who aren’t clued up and it’s very much survival of the fittest. But what can you do to ensure that you’re one of the winners and you don’t end up falling behind the rest?

There’s actually quite a few things you can start to put in place now, which can see you go from nobody to somebody in the trading markets, in next to no time. Here are three such examples you may wish to consider:

#1 Become More Knowledgeable

It might sound obvious, but the more you know, the more you can do with your trading. As such you need to research the trading platforms and look to those which are tailored to your specific forex interests. There are also platforms which come with useful tools you can access, such as these from FxPro, which can essentially add to your existing skillset.

#2 Re-evaluate your Plan and Practise

When you’ve gathered more knowledge and thought about how and where you’re going to start trading, before you dive straight into it, it pays to re-evaluate and practise. Draw up draft plans of which currencies you want to trade with and what your overall aims are; then you can start to practise. Many of the aforementioned online platforms have programs that allow you to carry out simulations, otherwise you can always seek expert advice on the best practices and implement these.

#3 Don’t Take it Too Personally

The final piece of advice isn’t necessarily a skill you can be taught, but more something you need to train yourself to do – and that’s not take things too personally. There will be occasions when things don’t work out as well as you would like but if you look to the long term rather than the short term. Like with any profession you’ll have highs and lows, but with the right tactics and attitude you’ll hopefully see more of the positives in the long run.

Whether or not you follow all three of these pieces of advice is up to you, but whatever preferences you might have the smart move is to take as much of this on board as you can. The quicker you can up your game and become a better trader, the quicker you can become more successful.

How to Live Your Life on a Budget

Are you in complete despair when reviewing your monthly expenses? Realistically it’s not surprising, for last year the minimum total of expenses for a UK region was a shocking £427.50; with the highest total being £616.30 in Greater London.

If you’re concerned about your finances, perhaps it’s time to cut corners through comprehensive spending to ultimately save those costs. Check out this guide on how to live life on a budget without sacrificing quality.

Road to Change 

Create a Plan:

First off, there’s no point mindlessly jumping straight into altering your finances with no considerations, for you are effectively changing your entire lifestyle. You still need to live, so boycotting all expenditures will simply fail. Start by creating a plan that covers all your current overheads to work out A) how much you’re spending and B) what’s costing the most. Software like Excel is brilliant for producing spreadsheets that are easy to interpret.

Suit Your Circumstances: 

One scheme of planning definitely won’t suit everyone, so make sure yours suits you. Take into account when you get paid (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to ensure your smarter spending complies. Another important factor to reflect on is the amount of people living in your home. Naturally if you live alone you’ll have fewer essential expenses than a family of four so set a limit per person to create an overall figure.

Set Goals:

Once you’re aware of the individual expenses, start setting some goals that’ll help you achieve and most importantly, stick to your targets. These need to be sensible and realistic, for example – reduce expenses on groceries by £50 a month. Putting these goals in a visible place like the refrigerator or a pin board will ensure everyone in the household is aware of these goals; increasing your chances of everyone sticking to them.


Separate Wants From Needs:

Be honest, how many items do consider a need when they actually aren’t? A need is something you simply couldn’t survive without (food, water & shelter); whereas a want covers the things you desire to have that you realistically could live without (expensive holidays and designer clothes). Categorising these separately will ensure you’re saving on the wants and focusing more on the needs.

Food

Create a Food Budget:

The average UK household spends approximately £60.00 a week on groceries, that’s over £3,100 per year… Considering a family with children throws away £700.00 worth of food annually, perhaps you’re buying way more than necessary. Implement a weekly or monthly food budget that sets a limit per person in the household to make the budgeting fairer and easier to manage. Also if you want to be really thorough, it might be beneficial to research each supermarket to gain a comparison on which will work best for you. In May 2016 Aldi once again triumphed over all six leading UK supermarkets, ranking £10.68 cheaper than ASDA and over £20.00 cheaper than Sainsbury’s.

Buy Multipurpose Foods:

Stocking up on your staples is a brilliant solution to making food last longer. Always having staples means you’ll have a variety of cheap meals to cook, allowing you to focus the rest of your food budget on fresh produce. Some great staple foods include:

– Rice

– Cooking oil (light olive oil)

– Butter

– Eggs

– Frozen vegetables

– Tinned fish

– Tinned tomatoes

– Dry beans

– Pasta

– Spices

Less Meat:

You can save money by skipping the meat and going vegetarian. A recent study identified a vegetarian diet can save you up to £530.00 a year in comparison to a meat diet. However, if you’re not prepared to go cold turkey on the meat, try incorporating some vegetarian meals throughout the week to reduce meat consumption. Cheaper cuts can be sourced through economy meat (sausages, chicken wings, mince and even organ meat), combine these with vegetables to produce both tasty and cheap stews, casseroles, soups and bakes.

Purchase in Season:

Fruit & vegetables are at their cheapest in season, so as it is summer you could focus on purchasing: strawberries, cherries, cauliflower, mangetout and asparagus. Thankfully there are vegetables that grow all year: carrots, potatoes, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes as they can withstand the winter months.

Luxury Alternatives

Exercise for Free:

The UK wastes a total of £37 million a year on unused gym memberships, and with the average membership costing a gym-goer £442.00 annually, are you really getting the most out of yours? Ditch the gym and workout at home for free. Plan your own weekly workout routine (e.g. Monday – run for two hours, Tuesday – do an hour of aerobics, etc.) You could even set up an exercise group that meets in the park every week if you prefer a group workout.

Eat Meals at Home:

According to a recent study Britons spend £4,000.00 a year on dining out, that’s a ¼ of the average annual living income! Saving leftovers is a great way to avoid having to cook and not spending a fortune in a restaurant. Planning a weekly menu at home will ensure the time duration of each meal complies with your daily schedule.

Ditch the Habits:

Smoking is not only unhealthy, but it costs a fortune. In 2015, an average 20-a-day smoker spent £3,000.00 on cigarettes, that’s almost a year’s worth of food.  This will test how determined you are, for kicking a habit is never easy, but dedication will always prevail. Another habit you could kick are all those work morning coffees. Buying a coffee everyday costs you £519.00 a year, so either invest in a flask or wait until you get to the office.

Clothing Cutbacks:

Clothes are always something we have more of than we actually use; making them a fantastic cost cutting solution. Before you purchase new clothes go through your old garments and choose between the ones you do and don’t wear. Try selling these at car boots or online, that way you can reinvest any money earnt into new garments. Sticking to sale racks and avoiding expensive clothing is essential for making your money go further; the beauty of fashion nowadays is the versatility -nothing ever really ages.

Homemaking

Purchase Inexpensive Furnishings:

There is absolutely no need to splash out on brand new furniture when there are fantastic alternative methods, for example – instead of purchasing a new oak wood cupboard for storage when you can buy plastic containers for considerably cheaper; these can even be decorated with wrapping paper for extra appeal.

Fix & Update Instead of Replace:

Shabby chic furniture is extremely popular right now, so don’t throw away and replace broken furniture, try fixing them instead. If the legs on old chairs are coming loose then retighten the joints; don’t throw them away for the sake of a little DIY. When things the kitchen cupboards are looking tiresome and outdated, add a coat of paint to revamp them.

Energy Saving Solutions:

It costs 7.3p to run ten lightbulbs for an hour, and although this doesn’t seem like a huge amount the cost quickly adds up. To prevent the gradual cost increase, optimise natural lighting for as long as possible by opening the curtains and cleaning your windows. In the colder months, turn down the heating and opt for blankets and hot water bottles for added comfort without the added heating bill.

Accessorize Inexpensively:

Accessorizing your home doesn’t need to involve fancy cushions and overpriced candles. Add house plants for extra colour and freshness; these can be purchased very cheaply at almost all supermarkets for considerably less than gardening shop prices. Picture frames are also great for brightening up plain walls without having to purchase expensive wallpaper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could sew your own cushion and sofa covers for a sense of uniqueness, discarded pieces of fabric can be purchased from most charity shops for a fraction of their original price.

Forget Your Goals – How to Make Real Changes to Your Finances

Your life is full of more money advice than you can possibly take in. Unfortunately, much of it falls into the “just give up that expensive cappuccino!” variety, which makes sense on the surface, but only applies to 0.001% of the population. The fact is there are no “easy” fixes to real financial problems. Changing your financial life is just as hard as changing your health, your relationships, or your career. So if you are tired of your money problems, open your mind, take a deep breath and read on.

Forget Your Goals

Chances are you’ve had the same financial goals for a long time now. “I want to own my own home.” “I want to live comfortably.” “I want to be debt free.” If these goals were going to fix things, you’d have checked some of them off the list by now. Unfortunately, for change to occur, there needs to be a clean slate. So stop trying to fix the ramshackle financial house you’ve built in your mind. Instead bulldoze it and rebuild from the ground up. To do that, there are a lot of other things you need to forget.

Forget What You Want to Own

You are currently surviving with what you own. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading an article on finances. This means that, at a fundamental level, you don’t need more stuff. This isn’t meant to be a judgment against struggling people who “waste” money on fast food or cigarettes that only the rich “deserve.” Instead, it’s a fundamental change in how you think about possessions. They just don’t matter until your money situation is fixed.

Forget “Saving” Money by Spending It

This goes hand in hand with the previous point but also applies to spending on essentials. If there is a great sale on something you want, but it means buying more than you budgeted, don’t. The hypothetical money you “saved” by spending more may feel good, but it won’t help you in an emergency the way money you actually save and put aside will. Having real money set aside for real emergencies is a must.

Forget Your Credit Score

Your credit score has one real purpose – to make it easier to take on debt. Sure, in the long run making good financial decisions will improve your credit score, but until you get where you need to be financially, it might as well be the high score on an old arcade game. Sure, it makes you feel good about yourself, but you might waste a lot of money achieving it. Save for emergencies and pay off debts that will make a difference to your long-term situation rather than paying off debts that will protect your high score. And never, ever try to improve your score by taking on new debt.

Forget Fairness

Oscar Wilde, who was no economist, once said “Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” This is hard to accept. The world is stacked against you in many ways that you cannot change. There may be some ways that it isn’t but for the most part, you won’t notice those. If you are going to change your financial life, you cannot beat your head against the wall bemoaning the fact that some people get to have things you don’t and do things you can’t. Yes, it is unfair. It is also the way things have always been. The one comfort is that if you can tolerate that long enough to truly change your financial situation, then you have a better chance of becoming one of the people that other people are jealous of.

Informational credit: Accuplan Benefits Services, providing self-directed IRAs and 401Ks