Aug 3 2015

Creating a Beautiful Garden on a Budget

By |August 3rd, 2015|Personal Finance Tips|0 Comments|

creating a beautiful garden on a budgetThe process of revitalizing your garden can seem like a daunting and expensive one –after all, your garden center has a decoration and gadget available for just about everything imaginable. But there are plenty of great ways to spruce up your garden without emptying your wallet; it’s just a matter of knowing where to spend on new, quality items and where you can cut corners by reusing and recycling goods for use in the garden. So if you’re thinking about giving your garden a new look, here are some tips to help you do so without breaking the bank.

Buy quality tools

The one thing you don’t want to skimp on when fixing up your garden is tools, as they will be used and re-used throughout many seasons, and having pieces of quality will make your life that much easier. There is nothing worse than having a dull set of shears or a trowel with a loose head, so when you head to the store for a new piece of gardening equipment, be sure to get something of good quality that will stay with you for the long run. You don’t always have to spend a fortune to buy quality tools though; many big supermarkets, including Tesco, offer good equipment for tight budgets.

Recycle old household items

There are plenty of great household items that can be used to give your garden a little something extra in the decoration department, and on top of that they come free of charge. If you’ve replaced any mirrors in your house recently, the old ones can be used as a great addition to your garden, adding a little bit of flare to a fence or shed wall. Similarly, if you’re looking for unique pots or hanging baskets, consider using old colanders, which you can grab from your own kitchen or look to pick-up at local second-hand markets or sales. Other types of reusable materials that can be helpful around the garden include old tires, which can be painted or covered in earth to create leveled beds, or even hanging shoe racks, whose individual pockets can be filled with earth and used as a spice and herb garden.

Using organic waste from your kitchen

There are many ways in which the waste from your kitchen can both help your garden and cut down on maintenance costs. The biggest thing waste from your kitchen can go towards is replenishing the soil of your garden. By creating a compost heap for kitchen waste you will not only cut down on your overall carbon footprint, but you will also cut down on the cost of fertilizers, as the nutrients from your compost will help your garden in a natural way. You can also consider using things like lemon rinds and eggshells as planters for seedlings.

When you look in a home and garden magazine it can be easy to think that a beautiful garden comes at a high price, but remember you can use your money wisely and still have beautiful results.

Image by Louise LePierres used under the Creative Commons License.

Jul 28 2015

How to Maintain Good Credit

By |July 28th, 2015|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|0 Comments|

This post is a contributed post from USA.gov.  See their Financial Self-Defense Kit for advice on how to build financial confidence as well as safeguard your finances.

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Your credit history is your financial reputation. And just like your professional and personal reputations, your credit history takes many years to cultivate, can be easily damaged, and will follow you for the rest of your life.

Sound intimidating? Good. Are you scared? Don’t be.

Yes, maintaining good credit is important. Nearly everyone will need to borrow money from a lender at some point — say, for buying a car — and your credit history determines whether you qualify for a loan and, if you do, what interest rate you pay. It can make or break your application for a credit card. A prospective landlord can check it to judge whether you’ll be a responsible tenant. Potential employers may request your credit reports to see if there are any red flags.

Having good credit is an important part of personal finances. Here are some invaluable tips for maintaining good credit.

Luckily, many resources are available to help you learn how to successfully establish — and maintain — a healthy financial reputation. Here are three tips for creating a stable foundation for good credit:

Monitor your credit reports

Understanding your financial habits — such as payment history and spending patterns — can help you improve them! Your credit score is generally based on information in your credit reports. Mistakes on your credit reports could hurt your credit score, so check them regularly. Make sure to check that your reports don’t contain any errors, such as incorrect contact information, closed accounts listed as open, or an item like an unpaid debt listed twice.

If you find something wrong in a credit report, you should contact both the credit reporting agency that produced it and the creditor that provided the information.

Pay your bills on time

This is one of the simplest ways to keep your credit score strong — yet, with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to lose track of time and miss payment deadlines. Set up auto-payments or electronic reminders to ensure that you won’t be hit with late-payment penalties. Paying bills late can also hurt your credit score, which in turn can raise your interest rate — meaning that you’re out even more money.

It’s a common misconception that the best way to improve a credit score is to pay off all of your accounts and close them. Get up to speed on your payments and stay on schedule, but be careful when closing accounts. Doing so eliminates some of the credit available to you, making balances appear higher when compared with the combined credit limit of all of your accounts. Also, if you managed that account well and made payments on time, closing it will remove all the positive benefits of your responsible credit behavior on your report and score.

Don’t get close to your credit limit

Credit scoring models look at how close you are to being “maxed out,” so keep your balances low in proportion to your overall credit. Experts advise keeping your use of credit at no more than 30 percent of your total credit limit. That means that if you have $12,000 of available credit, you shouldn’t use more than $3,600.

You can decrease your credit utilization ratio over time by paying as much of your credit card balance as possible each month. If you can, pay more than the minimum balance due; this will increase your available credit and decrease your utilization ratio faster.

Just as a shining professional reputation can take you far in your career, your credit score can make or break your financial status. To learn more about how to establish a stellar financial reputation, visit FinancialProtection.USA.gov.

 

Jul 27 2015

How to Go on a Vacation That Fits Your Budget

By |July 27th, 2015|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

budget vacationWhen it comes to vacations, there seems to be an assumption that in order to have a blast, you have to sleep in a five-star resort or hotel and eat at every fine dining restaurant you hear about. Getting to your destination should be equally luxurious, and an upgrade to business class is the only way to fly. The answer here of course, is heck no!

You dont have to throw away half your life savings just to go on a vacation. There are a lot of ways you can save on travel costs and still enjoy everything your chosen destination has to offer. You just need to know where to look and what services to use.

Getting There

The first thing you need to do is go check out websites like Travelocity or Skyscanner. These sites list all the affordable flights so you dont have to scour the interwebs looking for them. The prices would depend of course on where you’re headed, so if there’s an opportunity to for a connecting flight that’s a lot cheaper, grab it. Savings is savings. You can also try your luck with repositioned flights, but these are easily gobbled up because they’re listed publicly. Be wary of discount airlines and make sure you read the fine print. Some of the airlines even charge you for your carry on luggage these days.

Accomodations

If you’re adventurous and love meeting new people, you can try Couchsurfing International. It’s a little like Airbnb in a sense that you’ll be staying in another person’s home, but doing so wont cost you a thing. Just be a good “guest”,  bring your host a gift and don’t abuse their hospitality. This seems to work well for single travelers and couples because of the social element to the service. You can also try Airbnb if you’re travelling with a large group and want a bigger place with a kitchen. The last resort would be hostels, if you don’t mind sleeping in a dorm type room with strangers. Hotels not in the city are also cheaper.

Food

It’s best if you can find a place with a kitchen, because this adds to the adventure of going to the local market and shopping for supplies. You’ll get to immerse yourself in the place you’re staying, getting to know the town or city and the locals that live there. The next best thing is to always walk around when you can, so you can find the superb cafe tucked away at the end of the street or the delightful little mom and pop diner that the locals love. Avoid going to the fancy restaurants or eating in a hotel if you can, and always look for places that offer set lunches (soup, salad, main dish, dessert) for a fixed price, especially when you’re in Europe. Try to eat the delicacies on the menu that you can’t eat at home. No burgers and fries!

Communications (Wifi, 4G, SMS)

Roaming is expensive, and you might get bein the shock of your life when your bill arrives after your vacation. Don’t activate your carrier’s roaming option and just buy a local prepaid sim card for emergencies. You can always use Skype, Hangouts or Viber to get in touch with family and friends back home. Make sure you use free wifi, or use the local 4G network if available. If you want to call someone back home, it would have to be long distance and the charges are insane!

If you’re on a month long, UK vacation for example and you suddenly need to call your life coach, why not hire a life coach if you’re based in London anyway? The fees for your session might be more expensive than an hour long phone call, but at least you get to try out a new style of coaching and possibly get some new insights. Who knows, it might even be a better match.

Fun

For fun, some attractions are free and some are not. Avoid the usual tourist traps that all the clueless travelers flock to, because these places are overcrowded and expensive. Find out where the hidden gems are like off the beaten path beaches, nature sanctuaries, hiking trails and restaurants by talking to the locals. This is a great way to make new friends. Most zoos, museums and parks are free (or dirt cheap) anyway, and there’s nothing like enjoying a stroll in one these places. Always make it a point to do stuff you can’t do at home. If there’s a concert by a band you can also watch at home, why go?

FInal Thoughts

It really all boils down to the person. If a soft bed and room service is what constitutes as a fun trip for you, then by all means, splurge. It’s your money anyway. But if you want to travel on a budget and still have the time of your life, that’s possible too. And by most accounts, being down in the trenches is more of an adventure!

Jul 25 2015

How Could the Crisis in Greece Affect the Indian Economy?

By |July 25th, 2015|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

Low yields on bonds may leave you looking for an alternative. Think carefully about dividend-paying stocks.The Greek crisis is the world’s foremost piece of economic news at the moment, and it looks set to continue that way. Last week the Greek people voted to recent the terms of a bailout proposal put forth by Greece’s creditors, and while a new deal looks to have been reached, there’s a way to go yet. The aim is to avoid almost complete bankruptcy, and to do that the Greek parliament will need to swiftly put through a variety of measures to appease the Eurogroup finance ministers. This includes a variety of tax and pension reforms, areas in which the country is seen to be far too lax.

This uncertainty is of course causing some headaches across the world, aside from just within the euro and Eurozone itself. In particular, some of the world’s more developing economies may be under some threat from instability in the markets. In India, the government was fairly swift to downplay any potential impact that we might see resulting from the crisis, but how accurate are they? Let’s take a look.

Insulation

The claim is that India has a reasonably strong economy currently, and should therefore be able to shrug off any fallout. In a sense they are likely to be insulated from things, owing to good forex reserves, with good external balances and the everlasting appeal as an investment destination. Should Greece decide to leave (or be forced to quit) the euro, then it should not significantly harm the Indian economy, and most economists will agree.

However, there is certainly one way in which the current crisis might cause some issues in India, and that will be to the rupee. Many forex traders all over the world trade the currency; it’s more popular than it used to be and can be found in a great many portfolios. Crises do however tend to make investors nervous, and it’s very likely that the uncertainty surrounding Greece and the Eurozone might push many of them to (at least temporarily) put their money into the safe havens of things like gold, the US dollar and pound sterling. It’s worth subscribing to the updates of a forex broker such as ETX Capital to keep up to date on the movements of currency.

As you can see, the Greek crisis could have far reaching impact, well beyond Europe, but unless there are unforeseen issues, their economy is not large enough to have an overly significant effect on India, or indeed other developing economies.

Jul 24 2015

The Quick and Easy Way to Secure a Loan

By |July 24th, 2015|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

Have you ever had one of those months when everything seems to go wrong at once? A chipped tooth requires a costly visit to the dentist the day after you were slapped with a parking ticket, which was only a few days after you realized you went over you phone’s data and have to pay a penalty. And on top of it all, you still have your monthly payments for rent, utilities, and other essentials. When an unlucky streak such as this demands payment, sometimes even the most prepared person doesn’t have the savings available to cover all of their responsibilities.

secure a loan

Break your unlucky streak by contacting a direct online lender. They realize that sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can come up short at the end of the month; life can hand you lemons and throw out any budget. That’s why they offer small dollar loans with flexible terms to help out when times get a little tight. Even if you don’t have a perfect credit rating, direct online lenders will consider your application.

Bills have strict due dates, which is why direct online lenders build their practice around speed and convenience. Their goal is to eliminate the complicated bureaucratic process that so many individuals encounter when trying to attain a loan. By offering their loans to customers through a secure online platform, direct online lenders have removed the frustrating red tape that can delay or even prevent you from receiving the money you need.

You will receive the exact loan that you need for your specific situation when you contact a reputable online lender. With a simple online application, they will fast-track your request so that you can be approved within 20 minutes. From there, you can be advanced up to $500 in loans or $1,000 in a line of credit. And how and when you repay your loan will be tailored to your situation. Single-Pay loans have a short repayment period and are available to those who can repay the entire loan in one lump sum within a couple of weeks, or whenever your next paycheck is deposited. If this isn’t an option for you, flex-pay installment loans allow you to repay your loan throughinstallment payments over a longer period of time.

To get the loan that fits your situation, there aren’t too many requirements. You must be a US citizen of at least 18 years of age with an active banking account and a verifiable source of income. An email address is vital, as this is how online lenders will communicate with their customers. You must also be willing to search out the best direct online lender in your state

If you live in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, South Dakota, Utah, Texas or Missouri, then MoneyKey is the best choice for loans as they work according to each of these states’ laws and regulations regarding lending. MoneyKey offers personal short-term loans with state-sanctioned rates and terms that encourage responsible borrowing habits. Should you wonder if a flex-pay installment loan or a personal line of credit is more appropriate for your needs, MoneyKey has dedicated representatives who can answer any of your questions. Being an online lending company, their goal is simplification. They don’t want you frustrated over confusing terms or long waiting times any more than you do.

If you’re experiencing the month from hell, don’t waste your time with other lenders. Turn to a direct online lender who you can trust to match you with a small dollar loan when you need it most. With quick access to cash and clear, manageable repayment plans, you’ll pay off your debts and get back to normal in no time.

Jul 24 2015

What to Look for When Opening a Forex Account

By |July 24th, 2015|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

what to look for when opneing a forex accountAs the largest market in the world it’s no surprise plenty of businesses have formed and built themselves up around foreign exchange. Whether an individual or business looking to get involved in forex trading, especially for beginners, using a trading platform from one of these providers is essential.

Even though the exchange rates for each currency will be the same across the board no matter which forex account you use, they each have their own differences. A lot of your time and money will be on the line, so search through many platforms and compare these important aspects before deciding on the one right for you.

Services

Every forex account delivers the same overall service of allowing you to trade currencies on the forex market. Certain companies such as FxPro will provide platforms which allow you to trade from your computer, smartphone and tablet, linking your account together. This makes it easy to stay on top of changes in the market wherever you are.

Most will also offer a range of varying platforms that differ in the services they offer, depending on whether you want to trade fixed or floating spreads and in what level of depth. Using a reputable company is advised.

Fees

The start-up costs will differ for each company but one advantage of forex is that there are no commission based fees for making trades. Unlike on the stock market where you’d have to pay a broker a percentage for each deal made, forex companies make their money from bid/ask spreads.

The market maker captures the difference between the bid and ask prices. Each company will have different spreads for currency pairs to help them make more of a profit or attract new traders with lower ones. Even if they only differ by a few pips it can make a big difference if you’re trading a lot and over a long period of time.

Leverage

Depending on the amount of money you’re looking to put into the forex market will affect which firm you use. Leverage allows you to control large amounts of capital using a small percentage of your own finances.

This means the opportunity to make large profits is achievable with a lot less capital, but also big losses. Each firm will offer different leverage ratios, so if you intend to risk more to earn more or want to play it safe then choose one with the appropriate leverage.

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