Nov 11 2014

It’s Time to Review Your Monthly Expenses

By |November 11th, 2014|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|0 Comments|

I love automatic monthly payments. I never want to be late on a payment so I love when things are automatically pulled from my account. I haven’t had a late payment on anything in over five years, so it’s obviously working.

However, automatic payments can be dangerous. Sometimes you end up paying for something you don’t need, and you don’t realize it because it just keeps hitting your credit card or bank account every month.

In the last week I’ve canceled two recurring payments that are saving me a minimum of $65 a month, or $780 a year!

The Gym

How many people sign up for a gym with good intentions and then end up paying a monthly “fat tax” because you don’t use the gym and you don’t cancel the membership? Count me and my wife in that group.

We started with a membership and I was going 1-2 times per week. Then I got busy and stopped going but the monthly payments just kept on coming. It was only $22 per month for both of us, but we simply weren’t using it. I canceled this one last Saturday and am ready to just use our treadmill, bicycles, and P90X to stay in shape.

The Golf Course

This might scare people at first. No, I’m not a member of some fancy country club where I pay hundreds of dollars every month. This is simply a $40 plus tax (so about $43) membership that gives me free range balls and discounted greens fees.

This was actually a really good way to save money on a golf habit. A bucket of balls alone costs $11 and the membership saved me about $20 per round of golf I played. Hit 2 buckets and play 2 rounds in a month and I’ve saved a total of $62 dollars, which makes the $43 price tag worth it.

However, it’s November. That means it’s cold and the sun sets at 5:30. I can’t play after work because it’s dark and I can’t play on the weekends because it’s too dang cold. I canceled the membership last week and am looking forward to an extra $43+ in my account.

This is a really exciting cancellation because it also means I’m not playing golf anymore. That means no more greens fees, no more golf balls, gloves, lessons, or any of that nonsense. I’m actually probably saving at least $80 or $100 a month on this one.

Readers: Do you have any monthly expenses that you could get rid of?

Nov 11 2014

The Exciting Possibilities of a Career in Public Relations

By |November 11th, 2014|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

public-relations

Getting your degree in public relations (PR) is exciting, demanding, socially enhancing, and lucrative. But most of all, it’s a lot of fun when you land celebrities as clients.

Imagine working for a public relations firm that handles mid to high-profile celebrities.  The work involves meeting people from every industry and handling their promotional needs whether it’s a new film, book, or event.  This is a career that promises excitement, diversity, and incredible connections, and best of all – it’s a growing business.

A PR career

A public relations degree is required to move into this field.  A bachelor’s degree will get you in the door, but a master’s degree is suggested for a more strategic positioning in this highly desirable field.

A career in public relations allows you to interact with clients who require media attention in whichever method is available to them.  It is a position that allows you, as the PR specialist, to go out and advocate for your clients, whether they are people or corporations.

Public relations industry growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the public relations field will grow by 12 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is an exceptional growth spurt, and although this is a highly competitive career, finding the right job with a good public relations firm can be highly rewarding.  The available positions are determined by the number of clients who need PR services, which is all encompassing and most PR businesses are booming.

PR specialists create a public image for the clients they represent. The bulk of this work entails increasing visibility for clients while developing a favorable public perception.

Essentially, you will be promoting clients who need publicity via a surplus of media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and speaking venues.

What PR agent’s do

A PR agent’s duties include writing press releases and designing information in a platform that is commonly required of major media outlets. They respond to media requests for their clients and help them communicate successfully with the public. Drafting speeches and arranging interviews is another facet of PR work.

They perform regular evaluations of the publicity and promotional programs within their firm to make sure that they are successful and that the company or client is benefitting.

PR Positions

Public Relations Specialists generally work with corporations, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and even government organizations in a capacity sometimes known as a press secretary.

Publicists are more individualized PR agents, and their work includes book launches, new film releases, art exhibits, and high exposure to media when clients need a brand-name public identity. These are the PR people who mostly represent clients such as actors, musicians, athletes, authors, and even corporations.

Communications Directors primarily deal with non-profit organizations, acting as a liaison to the media to publicize the company’s mission and goals. This job can involve public fund-raising and enlisting public involvement in promotion and financial support of worthy endeavors.

Media Contacts

PR specialists develop relationships with every facet of the media, from top news affiliates to high-profile radio personalities and magazine editors.

The life of a PR agent is extremely rewarding and rarely mundane as these types of contacts can get you into places that many will never get to experience.

photo courtesy of Niuton may

Nov 11 2014

How Government Fiscal Policy Works

By |November 11th, 2014|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

government-house

Governments all over the world use a number of tools in the form of macroeconomic policies to influence the direction of the economy. Over-all a macroeconomic policy aims to foster a stable policy environment that is able to support strong and sustainable economic growth. Economic growth results in the creation of wealth and the availability of jobs. This consequently leads to improved living standards for the population. There are three main macroeconomic policies that governments use towards this end. They are fiscal policy, monetary policy and the exchange rate policy.

Fiscal Policy

In the advent of the current environment of government deregulation, fiscal policy is the only macroeconomic tool that is completely controlled by governments. Fiscal policy involves the level of government spending, the types of taxes levied to its constituents and the form of government borrowings. Government action in these areas influences various economic conditions.

When the economy slows down for example, governments may increase fiscal spending to increase economic activities. This is often called the stimulus package. Government spending can stimulate additional job creation and therefore can lead to a more vibrant economic condition over-all.

The ultimate goal of a fiscal policy is to achieve balance in the aggregate demand. Ideally, a government must have a balanced budget. That means that the government’s capacity to earn revenue in the form of tax collection is equal to the expenditure spent on government services. However, there will be times when governments choose to spend more or lesser than its revenue in order to control fluctuations in the aggregate demand.

When an economy contracts for example, taxes tend to shrink as companies and individual taxpayers realize lesser incomes. The logical consequence would be for the government to also cut on spending. However, they can choose to increase spending in unemployment benefits and other social programs. This way, the increase in government spending provides a counter weight to the decrease in private spending. Thus, the level of aggregate demand is maintained. For private individuals, this may also mean that income is lost due to the contraction of the private sector are recovered through social payments and support made by the government.

A stable aggregate demand ensures that total performance of the economy expressed in terms of aggregate domestic production is able to catch up with the forecasted growth. Conceptually, the uptrend in the economy tends to correct the deterioration in the government budget bottom line as economic conditions improve and private individuals are able to recover with the help of government subsidies given.

But fiscal policy does not only serve to correct short-term and cyclical economic fluctuations. Fiscal policy can also be framed to support long-term objectives. The current budget can provide for anticipated future demand. This includes expenditures for infrastructure to support further growth in the future, or expenditures on disaster management and clean energy to mitigate future impact of climate change to private businesses and individuals. This also includes government investment in education to ensure a competitive work force that will fuel the long-term growth and stability of the domestic economy.

Photo cred: indigoprime

Nov 5 2014

Raising Money After Divorce to Recoup Costs

By |November 5th, 2014|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

No matter how it happens or who is involved, divorce is the epitome of complicated, and navigating the financial waters before, through, and after takes patience and preparation. Smoother transitions are often the result of meditation, instead of fighting in court, and the calculation and division of assets as early as possible is helpful in ensuring time and money aren’t spent in vain on avoidable obstacles.

After the 50/50 division of property is said and done, many divorcees find themselves adjusting to a new lifestyle accompanied by lower income, without a plan for it.  In reassessing what is essential, it can often become necessary to strategize about how to bring in extra income to recoup the cost of newly single life.

Sell your Jewelry

Laws vary by state but if you are legally entitled to sell your diamonds, engagement rings or jewelry, it is a great way to generate money. Companies such as WP Diamonds offer a seamless process where an appraisal and competitive offer for buying back luxury accessories can be helpful. The catharsis of starting again and not being held down by sentimental pieces from the past can help you move on, funding the capacity for replacing jewelry and watches with something new—a gift for yourself that symbolizes new beginnings.

Ask for a Raise

Whether child support payments, a significantly reduced income or increased financial responsibility are the issues after a divorce, the situation is rarely easy on the wallet, unless both parties have a significant amount of money saved or earned on the work front. Particularly in cases of emotional abandonment, such as cheating, it can be helpful to focus energy on non-family related activities, such as excelling at work.

Maintain balance and build your career by delving into work and impressing your boss, ultimately setting up the perfect scenario to ask for a raise.  Why is it a good time?  You’ve proven you work best under stress, and your new unattached life will prove easier for showing your drive and flexibility to the workplace. So go ahead and be the best, then ask to reap the rewards of your labor.

Donate Wedding Mementos

After divorce the line that defines what should be a keepsake for your children can become very ambiguous. Women will often save their wedding dress, wedding shoes, and wedding rings to pass on to their daughters, secretly wishing one’s little girl chooses to wear at least one of those pieces for her own wedding day.

The reality is that painful memories associated with a divorce, might be something she associates your wedding mementos with in the future. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to donate these items for a tax deduction at a Goodwill, Salvation Army or local thrift shop.

Freelance

Juggling full custody with one less hand to help? The responsibility can be staggering when the desire to spend quality time with children meets the reality of needing to stay financially afloat. For those considering a career shift, freelancing offers a variety of benefits, such as flexible hours and the ability to work from anywhere.

Websites like Elance connect opportunities to qualified freelancers in industries such as: IT, video, marketing, translation, writing, product design and customer service.  Freelancing and working from a local coffee shop or library also provides an opportunity for meeting new people outside of the usual social circles, which can have a positive impact while healing.

Ultimately, the progression between previously married back to single life should aim to be done as easily as possible, and tackling expenses creatively is a mature outlook. Think-outside-the-box financial options can make the process a healthy transition for both divorcees and their children, who need support in getting through a difficult time.

Nov 5 2014

What is a Protected Trust Deed?

By |November 5th, 2014|General Personal Finance|0 Comments|

(The following is a guest post relating to Scotland residents…)

A Protected trust deed is an agreement between you and your lenders that lets you pay off as much of your unsecured debt as you can afford over a four year period. At the end of the agreed period the remainder of the debt is completely written off.

A protected trust deed is available to anyone in Scotland with debts in excess of £5,000 or joint debts of more than £10,000.

Can a trust deed help me?

You may qualify for a protected trust deed if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a minimum of £5,000 of unsecured debt
  • You have sufficient funds to make some monthly payments towards what you owe
  • You are unable to repay the full amount of your debts in a reasonable time-scale

How does a protected trust deed work?

A trust deed is protected if at least 50% of your creditors accept the agreement. As long as you keep making the agreed regular monthly payments the trust deed is legally binding and your creditors can no longer act against you.

A protected trust deed replaces all of your unsecured debt payments with one monthly repayment which you can afford. You make the payment not to your creditors but to an insolvency practitioner who is appointed to manage the trust deed on your behalf. The insolvency practitioner is the one who deals with the creditors and you have no further contact with them.

As the majority of trust deeds operate for a four year term you will need to make a total of forty-eight monthly payments, after that time all remaining debt included in the trust deed will be totally written off. Any debts not included in the trust deed will still need to be paid.

Applying for a protected trust deed

You can apply for a trust deed through the services of an insolvency practitioner. Before deciding to go ahead with a protected trust deed it is important that you take professional financial advice and make sure that this is the right solution for your debt problems. There are many debt solutions available and the right choice for you will depend upon your individual circumstances.

Are there any downsides to a protected trust deed?

There are a few disadvantages to a protected trust deed and it is important that you seriously consider them before proceeding with this option.

  1. If you own property you will be required to release the majority of the equity in the property to help pay off your debts. If you are not able to release the equity the trust deed will be extended for a further year.
  2. A protected trust deed will have a serious effect on your credit rating. Your credit history is held on record for six years, and obtaining further credit while the trust deed remains visible may prove to be very difficult.
  3. If you are made redundant while a trust deed is ongoing then you may be required to use some of your redundancy to pay off part of your debts.

Photo courtesy of conner395

Nov 3 2014

Getting in the Money Saving Mindset

By |November 3rd, 2014|Blog, Life|0 Comments|

It’s funny how easy it is to spend too much money. Ever since my wife and I finished paying for our wedding, we have felt like we have all this extra money and we didn’t have to be so careful with our spending.

Then we decided to buy a new house and we had to get back to saving as much money as possible. We are in the process of taking the first steps to saving money, which for us always starts with spending less money eating out.

It’s funny how easy it is to get in a mindset to eat out, particularly at lunch. Here’s an example of what might go through my head at the grocery store:

My Grocery Store Mindset

In the fresh veggies isle: I don’t want to buy any of this stuff, it’ll go bad before I eat it all.

In the meats isle: I could buy some ground beef, but I’d probably just make spaghetti and all those carbs aren’t healthy.

In the frozen dinner isle: If I eat these every day my heart will explode. No way I can have these for lunch.

These are all very valid reasons not to buy certain things at the store. At least they appear to be. They certainly had me convinced for quite a while. This type of reasoning has resulted in me buying only enough food for the meal I’m planning to make the next day, and invariably leads to me spending $8-$15 on some kind of unhealthy fast food option.

Why would I turn up my nose at a $2.50 TV dinner or homemade spaghetti for being too unhealthy, but then spend $5.00 at McDonalds?

Why would I be worried about spending $4 on some fresh veggies that might go bad, when I would spend $12 on a “healthy” meal at a sit down restaurant.

It’s important to pull back the curtains on the excuses and find the real motivation behind my grocery store trips. Here it is:

I don’t want to buy food for lunch because if I don’t have food to bring for lunch then I can just go out to eat.

Once I recognize the true motivation for avoiding grocery store purchases, I can ignore that voice inside my head and start making the right choices for my wallet and my waistline.

My Money Saving Mindset

Now at the grocery store I have a very different mindset. It goes something like this:

Is this relatively inexpensive? Is it healthier than McDonalds? Will I eat it? If the answer to all 3 questions is “yes”, then buy it.

This mindset is much more simple.

Readers: What kind of crappy reasoning have you used to convince yourself a poor financial decision is actually a good one?