It’s All About the Money!

This is a very interesting Infographic that explains exactly why we need money! Money is the lifeblood of our economy, and the circular flow of it is important to keep it thriving. Make sure to read through the infographic thoroughly, it’s a good resource for anyone who needs to understand how money works and how we value it. I must say the guys at BuddyLoans have developed an infographic that will be remembered for a long time. For even more interesting content please check out the BuddyLoans website.

Lets Talk About Money and Why We Value It

courtesy of BuddyLoans.com

How to Save Money in the Home

If you’re looking to stretch your pay check a little further each month, you won’t be alone. Many of us wish that we could save more and pay for things like holidays, home improvements and new cars without having to take out high interest loans or resort to using credit cards. However, there are plenty of simple and effective ways to save money in the home. You can get started today.

Reduce Your Energy Bills

Did you know that there are now apps that allow you to remotely control the temperature of your home? It doesn’t matter if you forget to turn the heating off or down before you leave, because you can do it via your handset. It’s important to do your research into the best deals available from energy providers, and there are plenty of price comparison sites online that will allow you to find the most competitive rates.

Start Selling

Those unwanted items lying around your house could be making you money. Start de-cluttering and deciding what can be sold. There are plenty of second hand shops that will pay for old games, music and DVDs, and technology like mobile phones and laptops can be sold for parts. Try online auction sites for clothes, shoes and accessories, and retailers like H&T Pawnbrokers for old jewellery or unwanted gold. You may have some real treasures in your loft or attic, so make sure you’re not sitting on some untapped income.

Take Up DIY

The increasing popularity of DIY is testament to the fact that you don’t always need to call in a tradesman when things need repairing or remodelling in your home. DIY can be a fun and productive way to spend weekends and evenings, and you can get the kids involved too. Painting and decorating tasks are great for children of all ages, and will allow you to spend hours with your kids engaged in a creative and practical pursuit. There are plenty of how-to guides and tutorials online and advice from experts, and this means that beginners can learn how to do simple tasks and quickly become more competent. Big jobs like complex plumbing and electrical wiring may require a qualified tradesman, but as long as you stay safe and realistic about what you can achieve, DIY can be a wonderful way to save money and have fun.

 

Signs the Economy is on the Mend

Welcome to 2014, the year that we officially see the economy turn around and start to grow again! There are many signs that signify a healthy economy and we are currently seeing most of them on the mend. Consider that the stock market is near an all time high, and that’s despite the fact that interest rates are going up. Yes, that is another indicator, interest rates on investment and mortgages alike are starting to steadily rise month over month. Then we have the housing market, which is seeing new construction rise steadily, as well as the number of existing homes sold up two fold over previous years. One of the last and more significant indicators of a strengthening economy is that of jobs growth. When jobs are on the rise you have more people working and business owners investing, that’s the cycle of spending that we all learn about in our economics class.

 

Interest rates are a tricky indicator, when they are low then people love to invest in the stock market and stock options because the rate on reliable treasury bonds is are so low. At the same time, they spur the housing market because more people are willing to borrow at lower interest rates. Yet, when rates rise we consider the economy to be stronger because it means that people are still willing to invest and borrow despite rates increasing.

 

All of the indicators above lead right into job growth! For people to invest in the stock market, build and buy houses, and to spend money in general then they need to be earning money! It’s clear that corporations and small businesses alike are feeling confident in the economy and are willing to invest in hiring more people. The number of jobs isn’t the only sign this is true as compensation and benefits are on the rise again as well. Consider that the average salaries are increasing, 401k matches and pensions are becoming more generous, and healthcare benefits are growing stronger.

 

With the signs of an improved economy we are seeing consumer confidence growing along with it. The recession has been dragging us down for over half a decade so these improvements are a welcome sign and long overdue. I personally hope that we continue to see the economy rebound even further.

 

Debt Consolidation Can be as Fun as Playing a Game

Getting into debt is usually a lot more fun than getting out of it! After all, spending money on fun things is more appealing than spending money on credit card and loan payments. However, if you look at the infographic below, you will see that beating debt can be as much fun as playing a game. Looking at the steps to getting out and staying out debt you would think you’re in the middle of an arcade game, but in reality you are getting some helpful pointers for bettering your finances.

The first and most important step is to get a grasp on your current finances. Sounds easy, but sometimes people have no idea how much they owe and whom they owe it to. Get a list of all debtors, the monthly payments you are currently sending them, and the monthly interest that it is costing you.

Next comes the fun part…earn “financial lives” by consolidating your current debts into one easy and manageable monthly payment! The key to the next level lies within which type of consolidating loan you find, be it with a bank, or perhaps a peer-to-peer lending group.

In order to continue advancing levels, and conquering the primary enemy (debt!) then you simply need to work hard at building cash reservces, paying your monthly bills on time, and most importantly…staying out of debt!

The infographic below is brought to you by Zopa

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Today’s Cold Shipping Technology Involves Far More Than Dry Ice

Shipping of goods worldwide is an enormous business and companies compete for our business with catch words and phrases like “if it fits…” or “let Brown…” or “…it’s logistics” to grab and hold our attention. Within this shipping world is a very specialized kind of service, one that can literally be life-saving. Cold shipping is a specialized shipping service in which sensitive products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, foods, healthcare products, biomaterials, human organs and even animals that need to be kept temperature-controlled may be sent and delivered safely.

Insulated shipping supplies are needed to properly package items that must be temperature controlled during shipping. These vary from vacuum flasks, similar to a thermos, to molded expanded polystyrene foam (EPS — similar to coolers) to sheets of foamed plastics.  There are fabricated thermal liners and blankets as well as molded foams known as polyurethane polyethylene. There are metalized film reflective materials, gel packs and cold bricks, insulated box liners and moisture shields. Some products are designed to be used once and discarded while others are made to be reused.  For frozen and very cold foods, there is still dry ice.

Thermal protection solutions for cold shipping are often part of a cold chain, by which the shippers maintain a record of the temperature of the product and its freshness through every step in the shipping process.  In order to accomplish this, a digital thermometer or some sort of device to indicate temperature and time is often packaged with the product to monitor its temperature inside the packaging for the entire trip.  In this manner the quality and freshness of the product is assured. This is crucial for all shipments, but a matter of life or death when shipping organs for transplants or someone’s pet amphibian or reptile.

Two primary characteristics of insulated shipping containers that are of major importance are the insulation properties or value of their materials (known as the “K value”) and their thicknesses.  These form most of the functional ability of the container. There are a variety of different temperature control packaging products from which to choose. Your choice will depend upon your specific shipping need and the item to be shipped.  There are box and gel pack combination systems, molded EPS insulated containers, panel box containers with 1.0 EPS foam panels included, and Polyurethane (PUR) molded “Super K” containers.  There are also containers build specifically for transporting amphibians and reptiles safely in any climate at any time of the year.

Dry ice used to be the go-to material for frozen shipping but it is classified as a dangerous material. Today’s temperature-sensitive biomaterials and biogenetics benefit from a deep frozen shipping option from the technology of liquid nitrogen dry vapor.  Using this form of nitrogen eliminates the need to ship under a dangerous goods classification. This and many new technological advances have been of great benefit to the cold shipping industry.

Five Ways for Parents to Save on Tutoring

Now that it’s a couple months into the academic year, you’re probably starting to notice your child’s strengths and weaknesses in school, as far as grades go. Maybe they’re acing language arts and struggling in math. Maybe foreign language classes are causing some headache and they could use some help keeping up with the rest of the class. Regardless of which class your child needs help in, there is a solution: tutoring.

Unfortunately, tutoring can be very pricy, with some experienced tutors charging in upwards of $20-30 per hour, depending on their educational background and whether or not they work for an established tutoring company. If you want to help your child improve their academic record without breaking the bank in the process, the following five alternatives to overpriced tutoring services might alleviate some of the financial burden:

Volunteer Organizations

Many high schools require a certain number of volunteering hours as a prerequisite for graduation and, given the relative lack of on-the-job skills high schoolers have, many gravitate towards tutoring or coaching younger students. As a parent, contact a high school or other volunteer organizations in your area such as YMCA or perhaps your local church has educators or students willing to donate a little of their time to help a fellow student. Although this is unpaid help, it’s generally recommended that you buy a little gift or something for the tutor when your child no longer requires the assistance of one.

Hire a Student

If there aren’t any volunteers, then hiring a student is the next best thing. Not only are they already immersed in an academic environment—and the ones offering tutoring services tend to be at the top of their class—but they won’t charge you an arm and a leg for elite tutoring services like a full-service tutoring center would. The unemployment rate is quite high among those in high school (even college students aren’t doing so great, employment-wise), so many would be grateful to have some source of regular income. Many students set their own rates (generally a little above minimum wage or even as high as $20+ per hour, depending on the demand for tutors in their specialty), and although they’re not high school or college grads yet, independent student-tutors are fantastic alternatives to paying exorbitant prices for tutoring elsewhere.

**Note: be sure to check their qualifications thoroughly prior to hiring (maybe even ask your child’s teachers or fellow parents for recommendations).

Online Tutoring

Online tutoring services, whether they’re conducted over email, chat, or live video chat, are becoming increasingly popular in this digital age. Thanks to today’s technologies, even students in rural areas can get top-notch help from tutors and the wide variety of tutors available all over the world means you can do a little price-comparing before selecting a tutor that’s right for your child’s needs. This is especially great for foreign language students who want a tutor whose native language is the one they’re learning.

Local Offers/Coupons

If hiring an online tutor isn’t right for you or your child’s needs, then check around for local coupons and coupon codes to see if tutoring centers or private tutors have any specials or coupons for first-time customers.

Request a Discount

If you can’t find coupons readily available, you could always just ask. The worst they can say is no, but many places are willing to offer group discounts for multiple students utilizing their tutoring services. Others offer package deals (e.g., sign up for three months and get the fourth month free). The problem with signing up for several months is that you don’t know how long your child will need help in the subject they’re having trouble with, so as a general rule, avoid signing up for several months of tutoring in advance.

Obtaining an Offshore Bank Account

Have you ever thought about getting an offshore bank account? If not, allow me to give you some reasons why they are an important financial tool for your portfolio. I also want to provide some insight into how you go about obtaining an offshore online banking account.

Diversification is typically thought of as having a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds within an investment portfolio. However, diversification can be a lot more than that. Having part of your wealth outside of your home country allows you to avoid the risk of a government freezing all of your assets, or the effects of currency fluctuation throughout the year.  Also, there are jurisdictions with low taxes that may be available to you. Next, you have to consider that some countries have more stable, or even thriving, economies than others.

It used to be that you need to show up in person to apply for an out-of-state bank account, let alone an international bank account, but these days you can visit a local branch of an international bank and get it done from there. While there are quite a few documentation requirements, it’s virtually pain free, and the account can be fully managed online from the comfort of your own home.

The globalization of large corporations has actually contributed quite a bit to the popularity of offshore bank accounts. Expats that are transferred to foreign countries for work like the ability of having a bank account in both their home country as well as the one they reside in for work. The assignments are usually temporary but the bank accounts stay open long past their departure from the foreign country.

Beware that the minimum balances for these types of accounts tends to be higher than that of domestic accounts. Also, there can tend to be varying fees depending on the services utilized with these accounts.

Hopefully you can see the benefits of holding an offshore bank account, and give some thought to diversifying and obtaining one of your own.

Mortgage Broker vs. Bank Manager

People who are shopping for a new home or an investment property often hit a snag when they are faced with financing the purchase. There are many options for financing a mortgage, but buyers must choose between getting mortgage broker assistance, or that of a bank manager when applying for a mortgage. There are benefits and disadvantages to each of these choices that should be evaluated before a buyer makes a decision.

Mortgage Broker

A mortgage broker is a financial professional who works as an intermediary between mortgage lenders and buyers. Banks and other lenders may use the services of a mortgage broker to reach a wider range of clients, while buyers may use a mortgage broker to gain access to a variety of mortgage lending options.

Advantages of choosing a mortgage broker:

  • Provides      access to many different lending options
  • Focuses      on helping clients obtain financing for purchasing a home
  • Works      with a client to get the financing needed

Disadvantages of choosing a mortgage broker:

  • May      push clients to borrow more than they feel comfortable borrowing
  • Cannot      guarantee rate quotes from banks
  • Does      not have access to some banks that may offer low rates

Bank Manager

Bank managers are financial professionals whose responsibilities include consulting with home buyers and processing mortgage applications. Mortgage lending is typically not the primary focus of bank managers. Professionals who are in management positions at banks also oversee employees, handle training schedules and consult with clients about any financial instrument offered by the bank.

Advantages of choosing a bank manager:

  • Has      the authority to finalise mortgage paperwork in the office
  • Processes      the loan for the client
  • Funds      the mortgage

Disadvantages of choosing a bank manager:

  • Requires      borrowers to do their own comparison shopping
  • Fewer      options when it comes to the types of loans and rates that are available
  • More      stringent about approving mortgage loan applications

There are positives and negatives to choosing mortgage brokers or bank managers for mortgage lending. Mortgage brokers offer a wide variety of financing options, but it is possible for brokers to underestimate mortgage rates available from their partner banks. Bank managers are able to process applications and finalise financing, but choosing an individual bank for mortgage lending limits options. Buyers need to personally weigh the pros and cons of each choice to make the best decision for their situation.

How to Choose the Right Gas Credit Card

One of the biggest expenses for most working adults is the cost of gas for their cars. With gas at a national average of $3.60 most people are looking for any way possible to save a few bucks when they fill up. With that in mind we put together a blog about some of the best gas credit cards that are available today, a bit about how they work and some advice about which ones to use. Enjoy.

First, having the correct gas rewards credit card can definitely decrease your gasoline costs. There are basically two types; cards that are tied to a particular gas station only  and cards that give you cash back, points or rebates no matter which gas station you decide to use. Unless you are going to exclusively use a specific station and never any other kind, the latter is definitely the best.

Cash-back cards, the kind that give you a specific percentage of your total back every time you get your monthly statement, are the most straightforward and usually offer the most value. Whatever card you choose however, focusing on getting the card that gives you the best rewards for your lifestyle is most important.

One of the most essential things to consider before getting any gas rewards card is that you should have at least above-average credit and have the financial means to pay off your bill in full at the end of every single month. If you don’t, a gas card that comes with no annual fee or a 0% interest offer might actually be better for you.

The card that you pick depends on your personal preference more than any other factor since most of them will offer rewards that are relatively attractive. For example, a Costco gas reward card (True Earnings Card) offers a combination of convenience and value if you are already a Costco shopper while the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express might be more preferable to you if you want a card that not only gives you rewards for gas but also on other everyday purchases. If you’re simply looking for gas rewards and nothing else the PenFed Card (Pentagon Federal Credit Union) is probably your best choice.

For a lot of people the idea of using a credit card for only one specific type of expense might not seem financially astute but, if you use the “island approach” strategy, you’ll find that it actually does make sense. The idea behind this approach is that you get the best possible collection of terms and rewards by using different cards for specific different expenses as if they are individual “islands”. This might entail, for example, using one card for gas, another for airline miles and a 0% credit card to save on interest for other purchases. If you’re the type of person that values simplicity in their financial plans the “island approach” is probably not for you but, if you can handle a little bit of extra paperwork, it will definitely help you to get better rewards, better rates and save more money than using a single card to purchase everything.

No matter which approach you take, using an app on your smart phone like “Gas Buddy” to find the lowest gas prices in your city or town is a must. Knowing which of the supermarket chains in your town have partnerships with gas stations to offer rewards is also key and can help you save money on both gas and groceries.

The fact is that the cost of the gallon of gas isn’t going to go down anytime soon and, more than likely, will rise (and rise, and rise). If you drive a lot you definitely should take the time to research all of the available cash rewards credit cards that are out there on the market, compare what their rewards, interest and other rates are and pick the one that seems best to you. It won’t do anything to lower the cost per gallon but, if used correctly, it will help you to save money overall on gasoline.

If You Link to it, They Will Come #1

Hello All, this week I want to highlight some especially well written blog posts, and some generous people linked to my blog.  You will find below a list of blog carnivals that my blog was included in.

 

This weeks post by The Blue Collar Workman was especially inspiring, as I have a relative myself who has gone through a similar experience.

Ive written about the benefits of discounted gift cards for awhile, but the Might Bargain Hunter really hits it home with this post.

Thinking about trying out a new investment…check out this post by Reaching Financial Independence.

 

Carnival of MoneyPros hosted by Rather Be Shopping
Yakezie Carnival hosted by Frugal Rules
Finance Carnival For Young Adults hosted by Mom And Dad Money
Festival of Frugality hosted by Start Freelancing Now

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