Nov 5 2014

Raising Money After Divorce to Recoup Costs

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

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|Comments Off|

(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|Comments Off|

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?

Nov 2 2014

6 Easy Ways to Save Money Daily

By |November 2nd, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

old store

We all try to save, but many times the ways we try to save aren’t always the most effective methods. Often this is because we’re stuck in an old rut, working from the habits our parents and poorly conducted financial educations gave us.

In truth, we don’t fail to save because we aren’t interested in saving, but rather because we just don’t have a modern enough perspective on things to really make a difference in our lives. However, these are just some of the reasons we can’t save money.

There are others reasons too, and chief among them is how we spend both our money and our time. Here are 6 great ways you can save money every day, just by managing your time and money better.

1) Cook at home, and do it often.

When both husband and wife work, there’s often little time to prepare food at home. Their joint incomes can make it seem like the added money justifies the stress of not cooking, but once you get into a rhythm of cooking at home, it really doesn’t take much time. For example, a few boneless chicken breasts in a covered pan on low heat, with some cut veggies on top, and a pot with a few potatoes boiling, or some corn simmering, takes about 10 minutes to prepare. It takes longer than that to drive to a restaurant. Add in the cost of time waiting for food in a restaurant, plus the premium price you’ll pay for any drinks, and you could have shopped for a week of home food.

2) Pack a lunch to work.

While we’re fans of taking meals to work, we also appreciate the headaches carrying home leaky Tupperware and other containers can create. Plus, they’re just plain inconvenient. What we recommend is spending a little money on some recyclable containers (they’re cheap), and a pack of cheap brown paper bags. You can then help better the environment by recycling what you use (most fast food lunch restaurants don’t recycle anything), and also save money on your lunch. A bag lunch will cost you about £3, versus the usual £6 or more you’ll pay elsewhere. Plus, you’ll save some office time while you’re at it, and actually enjoy your lunch instead of rushing through it. You can easily prepare these lunches at home. In the case of our chicken example above, it’s easy to cook an extra breast, and take a small can of corn and a wrapped piece of bread with you for a side. That makes a tasty and healthy lunch, and costs very little to prepare.

3) Make your own coffee.

This one is a great way to save money, and it’s one of those things most people don’t even consider. You can get a pack of inexpensive recyclable cups for your coffee, and when you finish, drop the empty cup in a recycling bin. This will save you money every day on your morning latte. You just won’t get to flirt with the barista, but then with the money you save, you will be able to invite him or her out on a date, so there’s that.

4) Make a grocery list, eat first, and then and shop fast.

When you shop with a grocery list, you’ll only grab items you need, rather than that pack of chips that looks so good. If you eat first, you won’t be hungry, and so won’t be imagining how delicious all of the things you didn’t plan on buying are too. This will keep you from buying piles of goods you don’t need. By shopping in a hurry, you will press yourself to be quick. A great way to do this is to plan your shopping before a favourite TV program is coming on. This way, even if you are a little late it isn’t going to ruin your day. In time, you’ll be able to get in and out of the store quickly, without wasting time or money on things you don’t need.

5) Get rid of any credit cards with annual fees.

When you first start off with credit, you might need to get some credit cards with annual fees. However, once your credit is a little more established, you’re wasting money on annual fees. Really, you’re already paying absurdly high interest rates on any long term cards you have, at least when compared to a traditional loan, so why add more money on it? The fees are just a slap in the face, and a way for High Street to squeeze a little extra money out of you. Don’t let them do that. You could be saving an extra £100 or more a year on just by eliminating unnecessary card fees.

6) Use the library, because you’re paying for it anyway.

Have you ever considered where all of your tax dollars go? Well, one place is the library. Technically you own quite a few of the books there. Instead of trying to build your own library, borrow your books from the one you’re already paying to maintain. You’ll thank yourself, and have more money to invest when it’s all said and done. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also have access to movies and eBooks, depending on the library you choose. This will let you plan more things at home, which will put you in a place where you can save more, rather than spend more.

There are many more ways you can save money, and these are just a few. By considering what you spend money on now, and reducing those expenditures, you can work towards increasing your savings. Money saved can then be invested, which is the road to future wealth. Save regularly, and invest often.

photo courtesy of Great Grandpa & Grandma T.

Oct 30 2014

The Best Cheap Halloween Costume

By |October 30th, 2014|Blog, Life|1 Comment|

If you’re an adult and you’re looking for an incredible Halloween costume that is unique then I have an idea that I think is going to make you the talk of your local Halloween party. I know you only have a day left, but this one is so easy you can do it in no time.

I’m sure someone else has done this before, but I’ve never seen it so it’s an original idea as far as I’m concerned. Instead of choosing a superhero or TV character, why not go as the one thing everyone really want to see on October 31st… a bucket of Halloween Candy!

For this costume, here’s all the materials you need:

  • A black bucket from Wal-Mart – normally used for ice/drinks at a picnic (about $6)
  • A generic orange Halloween shirt (about $5-10)
  • Suspenders or some string (probably laying around your house)
  • A few towels (around the house)
  • Candy ($5-100, depending on how much you want)

For about $20-$50 you can have a Halloween costume that everyone is going to love. People will be hanging around you all night. Sure, they might just be hanging out with you to pick candy out of your costume, but who cares? (Tip: this costume is extra awesome if you are single and looking to meet people).

How to Make the Costume

The first step is to put your cheesy orange Halloween shirt on, and then make sure you are wearing some kind of pants. I feel “wear pants” should go without saying but I just want to be sure.

Then take your bucket and cut holes in it to put your legs through. Don’t make the holes too big because you are going to put towels or something inside the bucket to fill the empty space and you don’t want them falling through the holes you cut. Step into the holes and bring the bucket up to your crotch.

Then connect the suspenders or string to the handles of the bucket and put them over your shoulders.

Next, fill the bucket with towels, bags of packing peanuts, or whatever else you can find that will fill a lot of space without falling through the leg holes.

Finally, dump your candy on top of your “filling” and walk around making tons of friends. Or if you want to be funny and make people mad, fill your bucket of “candy” with things like dental floss, toothbrushes, pennies, and other horrible Halloween “goodies” that every kid hates.

That’s it. A unique, awesome, cheap Halloween costume that will make you tons of friends.

Oct 30 2014

Even the little things matter – How I made my blog more efficient and saved money

By |October 30th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

make your blog work for you

Many successful bloggers were once clueless about the whole blogosphere thing when starting out. I too didn’t even know what HTML stood for let alone build a meaningful site and attract traffic. The good thing is that these things are not as difficult as some gurus want you to believe. In fact the easiest way of building a successful blog is by keeping things simple and knowing how to tinker with the basic essentials. Here’s a short guide on how I built a blog and made it more efficient simply by addressing the little but essential aspects of the blog.

1. Choose the best domain name and reliable hosting

The domain name and hosting company you choose forms the basic foundation of your blog. Getting a good name is usually a bit tedious since most of the great ones seem to have been snapped up by the competition. I simply overcame this obstacle by choosing a top level domain (gurus call them TLDs) such as a .COM, .NET, or .ORG that accurately reflected my brand. It didn’t necessarily have to be an exact match domain (EMD in guru lingo). Finding reliable hosting was not easy the first time. Fortunately you can avoid the same blunders I made initially by choosing a hosting company with reliable uptime, nothing less than 99% uptime, fast response times, and obviously affordable.

2. Design and content

One thing I have learned in this business is that first impressions really do count. Visitors to your blog will only need a second or two to pass a judgement about your site. So use a professional blog design that appeals to your target audience. If you choose to go the WordPress way, find a nice theme that your visitors will simply adore. As Bill Gates once said, “content is king.” The content you provide will either make or kill your blog. I believe in being consistent in posting relevant, lively, and engaging content.

3. Plugins make life easier

Plugins are simply awesome. They make life much easier for a blogger so make sure to use a few of these magic workers in your blog. They are easy to install and quite handy. Fine examples of plugins I use include Google Analytics for WordPress which gives you stats of visitors to your blog and Social Networks Auto-Poster which automatically updates my social network accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, and G+ with every post I make in my blog. This provides a great boost in traffic.

4. SEO for more traffic

Traffic is the lifeblood of every blog. Without visitors, even the most impressive blog in the world is of little use to the owner so ensure your site has all the basic on-page SEO features. Take time and effort to give your blog backlinks from other high PR relevant blog for an added boost in SEO. WordPress has useful SEO plugins such as All in One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO. Optimizing your blog for search engines should be a priority.

5. Speed up your website

Visitors are usually put off by a slow loading website and will often click away before reading what you have to offer. I always ensure that my site loads up quickly by choosing a web hosting company with quick response times, optimizing my images, and using a caching plugin, for example the W3 Total cache plugin.

6. Monetizing the blog

There are several ways I monetize my blog. You can choose to add affiliate products in relevant industries or, after you have built your readership base, sell banner space for advertisements. You can even market your own products in the relevant niche. However, do not over-saturate your blog with ads or you may lose all your loyal visitors.