How to Use Tech to Manage Your Small Business Money

If you’re a small business owner who hasn’t made the transition to modern technology for making financial management easier, there’s really only one question for ask: what are you waiting for? Technology has come a long way over the last two decades; it’s no longer just for scientists and robotics-engineers. You can utilize technology right away and see results for your business with the help of digital applications, software and websites. Here are some of the most compelling reasons your business should consider for taking advantage of all the opportunities technology has to offer.

Software

Modern technological software has evolved beyond all recognition over the last decade. While the advantages to using software are numerous most corporations find value in one specific reason: businesses that utilize technological software when managing their affairs, on average, see a twenty-six percent increase in productivity for their employees. CRM software, for example, seamlessly affords clients numerous advantages like simplifying market development strategies across the board. The majority of services are cloud-based, making them easily accessible no matter where – laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone – a user decides to sign in. Business owners also get the opportunity to customize their software to meet the needs of their growing business.

Websites

How can you use the internet to your advantage for your small business? In a study conducted by The Atlantic, over a billion websites exist in the world today – thousands of which aim to assist business owners and entrepreneurs better manage their finances. Wise Bread is a personal finance forum by which users gain access to experts who bestow advice for spending less and saving more. MailChimp is another great example; it is an innovative website that assists clients seeking to better manage their advertising campaigns. Nearly every task in your business has a shorthand version online – you just need to search for and find it.

Digital Applications

There is a whole world of helpful digital applications at your disposal that can simplify even your company’s most complex financial situations. From budget trackers to accounting software and everything in between, modern applications make developing a strategy for financial tech as simple as ever by taking all the uncertainty out of corporate money management. Using analytics to drive better decision making is helping companies grow faster than ever.

Due, for example, is an easy-to-use professional service that allows its users to send invoices directly to clients, view status updates for payments and also send helpful reminders for due dates. For the business owner who despises accounting, QuickBooks Online is an incredibly popular cloud-based accounting application that’ll solve all your woes. Here are just a few more of the top applications on the market today:

  • Expensify: take a photo of your receipts and Expensify converts it to a document for easier filing
  • InDinero: offers accurate, up-to-date snapshots of the financial health of your business
  • FreshBooks: create and receive client invoices on one convenient portal.

Technology affords its wielders numerous advantages that more than speak for themselves. Don’t fall behind the curve. Bring your company out of the Dark Ages by incorporating technology into your next strategy – before your competitors beat you to it!

Invest in Lowering Your Daily Expenses

Invest in Lowering Your Daily Expenses

Apart from big, one-time expenditures, or perhaps expensive “habits” like collecting shoes or smoking cigars, a large portion of the population ends up spending the majority of their income on essentials. This includes expenses like housing, utilities, food, professional certifications, cleaning products, toothpaste, and the list can go on and on.

We often don’t stop to think about how to lower this base cost of living, usually overlooking that option and going straight to hacking off the things that give us pleasure, like golfing, traveling, or dressing like a fashionista.

There are ways, however, in which you can lower your cost of living and perhaps be able to continue to thoughtfully spend time and money on those “bonus” activities or items which keep you thriving or allow you to be more “you”.

It might take an initial investment on your end at first, but here are some “hacks” you can use to lower your base cost of living and boost your “fun fund”.

  1. Buy Food in Bulk

Being intelligent about your grocery shopping can save you thousands of dollars a year- talk about funding that adventure trip to Thailand! The trick is to buy things in bulk when they are on sale, store them in the appropriate manner, and use them in your everyday cooking. From items like chicken breasts, to your favorite cereal, or even spices, you won’t run into as many situations when you buy regular price just because you suddenly need that product for one of your meals. By stocking the cupboard with sale items, you can shop first in your pantry and use weekly grocery trips for selecting fresh fruits and vegetables that won’t keep otherwise.

  1. Invest in Your Personal Health and Hygiene

It’s time to put our long-term thinking caps on and consider the costs it takes to maintain ourselves- everything from basic health, like doctor’s visits, to supplementary services like physiotherapy, down to basic routines like shaving.

Is there anything we can do to minimize the time and expense that it takes to keep us in good shape? Consider joining a gym or committing to a fitness program as a way of cutting down on treating your health problems and funding health care visits, or getting braces in order to correct your bite and avoid a slew of dental issues down the road. You can even eliminate a lifetime cost of shaving accessories when you sign up for treatment with an IPL device that provides permanent hair removal results 4 to 5 times faster than diode laser, and is certainly more convenient than everyday maintenance.

  1. Retrofit Your Home

Good bye high utility bills- it’s time for you to meet your match. You can significantly lower the cost of your bills when you invest in energy-saving technology in your home. Start with replacing your lightbulbs for LED alternatives, purchase high efficiency appliances, and research methods in which you can better heat and cool your home during the different seasons. From simple fixes like replacing your windows to reinsulating your roof, by doing it “right”, not only will you appease your inner environmentalist, you will delight your inner economist who won’t have to wait long to see the payback on these investments.

When attempting to balance the budget in your household, we often lean towards depriving ourselves of those “extras” which keep us happy and satisfied. However, that’s just one option that we have to choose from. Though attempting to lower our base cost of living can be difficult, it can be more rewarding in the end since we don’t have to sacrifice that which makes us feel like ourselves.

5 Signs That the Time is Ripe for Investing in Real Estate

Investing in Real Estate

When it comes to investing in real estate, timing is key. Ideally, real estate investors should buy when the prices are low, and reap benefits when housing prices go up again.

A good time when prices were low was back in 2008, after the recession hit. However, it was also a time of economic crisis, and foreclosures were at a near-decade high. But, if you had bought a house back then in a lucrative commercial area, the price of that property would have doubled by now.

It’s not always easy to say when exactly it would be the best time to put your money in the real estate business. Sometimes when prices are high, the sector is in a bubble, as it was in 2007.

Investing in Real Estate

You shouldn’t invest in real estate just because a deal superficially looks amazing. There are several other factors to consider, namely the potential for growth and return. Higher cap rates can indicate higher risk. The risk could involve local instability like dangerous neighborhoods, or it could have something to do with the overall market in general.

There are three types of markets that matter for real estate: growth, stable, and declining markets.

  • Growth markets occur in places that are experiencing an influx of population, rising income, and other factors, and make a place appealing to live in.
  • Stable markets are places that aren’t growing so fast, but are unlikely to experience decline anytime soon.
  • Declining markets as the name suggests, are going downhill with people moving out of the area. When investing in real estate, you should look for either growth or stable markets.

With the above in mind, let’s look at five factors that say the time is right to investing in real estate in an area:

1.     Home Prices are Rising

Rising home prices indicate a growing market. Right now in the U.S., house prices are rising overall. Compared to 2015, the national home prices in 2016 rose by an impressive 5.7 percent, according to a CoreLogic study.

Some states—namely Oregon, Washington, and Colorado—saw rather amazing house price hikes by as much as 9 percent yearly. Since 2009, the median prices of homes in the U.S. have risen significantly. The numbers for 2017 are not available yet, but it is highly unlikely that the streak will be broken anytime soon.

Aspiring real estate developers should buy right now to enjoy high rentals and resale values in the future. But it’s also noteworthy to keep in mind that national rates may not always indicate local data for select markets.

When you buy, you should always check the median housing prices for the local market. For example, while housing prices for Denver have been rising astonishingly, the same is not true for Chicago. So, always do check local data without solely depending on national data.

2.     Millennials are Starting to Buy Houses

The time when everyone was hotly anticipating millennials to start buying houses has finally arrived. Millennials are reaching their late twenties and early thirties.

In 2016, a whopping 61 percent of all home buyers were under 35. In the coming five years, it’s expected that more and more millennials will be looking to buy houses as they get married and settle down. It’s the 21st century baby boomer market.

Wages have also been rising for most professions, so it’s unlikely that highly-educated millennials would put off buying. Even if millennials shun buying, they will definitely rent, which is also another great sign for real estate investors.

3.     The Rental Market is Growing

Renting is at an all-time high. In urban areas, people, especially young people, are more likely to rent than buy. There are now fewer distress properties thanks to the real estate market having bounced back. And that has raised the price of rentals.

If you are a buy and hold real estate investor, now is the best time to prepare a property for rent. It should be noted that single-family rental marketing is remarkably growing, according to Dennis Cisterna, the CRO of Investability.

As mortgage rates are rising, the lower income bracket is increasingly renting, and the trend will very likely continue into 2017 and beyond.

4.     Inventory Remains Low

In many cities and areas in the U.S., there are more home buyers than sellers. The inventory levels are tight, which makes the current real estate market a seller’s market.

Many realtors across hot markets like Denver are saying each home for sale gets multiple offers. It’s not unlikely to sell above the listed price considering the tight inventory.

Also, the recession shut down the market for low-priced entry-level homes. New homes are still being built. This is a great opportunity for savvy real estate investors to take advantage.

5.     Interest Rates are Still Quite Low

Earlier this year, the Fed raised the interest rate by 1 percent to stall the possibility of inflation. However, mortgage interest rates remain below 5 percent.

In fact, consumers can receive a 20-year fixed conforming loan for under 4 percent! The maximum rate right now is for a 30-year fixed FHA mortgage for 4.7 percent. In addition, foreclosure levels are also at a low since the year 2000.

All this is great news for homebuyers as well as people who invest in real estate. Low rates make it easy for people to purchase homes without the risk of foreclosure in the future. As many young people are already moving to buy new homes, the low rates only mean that there will be great demand in the market in the coming two years.

This year, home sales in the U.S. have been rising. January and February are traditionally slow months for real estate, but there are more people buying now to avoid higher interest rates in the future. Because of the interest rate hike, home buying will be slower than in the previous two years.

Yet, the market is embodying great potential to grow in the coming years. Millennials will definitely be driving the sales and rentals. As millennials age and become earners of a higher income bracket, the demand for real estate will grow. Foreign purchases have also seen a spike in areas like Texas where rich Chinese are driving the demand.

All in all, it has never been better since the recession to investing in real estate.

Bad Credit is OK for Used Car Loans

Bad Credit is OK for Used Car Loans

One of the most important things in American society is keeping your credit history as free from errors and delinquency as possible. Credit, after all, plays an instrumental part in our lives, and is absolutely necessary when you want to take a loan for nearly any purpose. Still, there are used car loans for bad credit if you know where to look. Read below to gain some tips on how to go about financing your used car.

There Are Lenders That Take Low Credit Scores into Consideration

This shouldn’t be so surprising; there are millions of people in the States who fall below what is considered a ‘good’ credit score. As such, there’s a sizable market for providing car loans to them at manageable prices. This doesn’t mean that they disregard your credit score; rather, it means they tailor services for you that account for the risk they’re taking on by lending to you. If you can handle that, then there’s certainly a used car loan out there with your name on it.

MyAutoLoan is Willing to Give You a Chance

You’ll be impressed by how quickly this loan-specialization website places viable lenders right underneath our nose in seconds to minutes.It’s the rare lender that promotes private seller deals, too, and they are short on surprises: the loan calculator tells you the likely interest rate before you take the time to apply in earnest. As an example, for bad credit holders, a FICO credit score of just under 600 could mean an APR (annual percentage rate) of between 10% and 25%.

MyAutoLoan also requires you to list your income because they need to know if you can pay the rate in principle. The minimum income that’s eligible is $1800 per month. Take a look at their web portal to learn more about the restrictions they have for bad credit auto loan seekers.

Blue Sky Auto Finance is Available

Bad Credit is OK for Used Car Loans

Not only does the Blue Sky car loan outfit accept bad credit holders and routinely approves them for car loans, they’ll even consider you if have a bankruptcy on file! It’s imperative that the bankruptcy is not ongoing, though, and must be discharged. The minimum credit score is 550 for a pretty much guaranteed approval; lower than this and you might still be able to secure a loan after a consultation and specially-tailored package. Lending is all about risk, after all, and they need to ensure that you can make the monthly interest payments on the principal amount.

Capital One

This company is certainly big enough to add the provision of auto loans to its impressive collection of investment and finance vehicles. The Capital One Auto Finance division has tens of thousands of lenders under its flag, which means you have many choices. There’s even a trademark Auto Navigator Tool that will tailor a package for you after you enter in requested details and explain what you’re looking for. To get in-person representation, however, you have to live in the lower half of the U.S. or halfway to the Atlantic Ocean – otherwise it all has to be done online. Not that this is a bad thing, of course.

These are just the tip of the iceberg; online sources and neighborhood sources are out there that will deal with you if you need a car loan but your credit is a work in progress. Know what you’re getting into by carrying out research on the companies and on your own credit status, and you should be alright.

Fight Your Way through Divorce – Financial Tips

Divorce Financial Tips

When the fights get nasty, even the strongest people give up on their marriages. While divorces can be emotionally challenging, the separation process puts additional financial stress on both the parties. Anyone who has gone through a divorce would tell you exactly how painful the struggle is, to settle things peacefully and move on with their lives. It isn’t possible to feel immediate relief, but what can make the situation less frustrating is a little guidance on making the right financial choices. It is important to take sound decisions throughout the settlement process in order to live a relaxed post-divorce life. So, here are some points you should consider, which will help you reach an equitable agreement, beneficial for both parties.

Divorce Financial Tips

There are many factors into consideration: from dividing the property to deciding whether alimony should be paid. It is therefore absolutely necessary to know and understand all the possible consequences of the proposed settlement. Amongst all the emotional turmoil, you need to be focused on what you really want. Think through about what you want to accomplish from the litigation. Have an action plan, and have clear objectives.

Many people, friends, and family are going to pour in advice, just to make you feel better. However, you are only to take legal and financial advice from your lawyer or a financial consultant. Because, a Yes, I know exactly how it feels isn’t true at all. No one has gone through the exact same situation as you are at the moment, and it is therefore really important to take professional help, to get proactive advice throughout the process.

Now, coming to the administrative work you need to do to get your personal finances in order and secure your financial picture during the divorce procedure, there is a list of things:

  • Close all joint credit accounts with your spouse.
  • Remove your spouse’s name from any of your bank accounts, credit cards, and employee’s records. Make sure you make changes regarding your marital status and address on tax records, post office records, driving licenses and other professional licenses, health insurance, and any property titles.
  • Change beneficiaries on your pension and life insurance policies. Remove your spouse’s name from your will, trust, medical directive and power of attorney. (OPTIONAL)
  • Open a new bank account and establish sound credit in your name.

Sorting Out Finances

Make a list of all that you own and any debts you have: your home, your savings, household items, your car, etc. In case you are not clear about what your possessions are worth, you may want to consult an expert. Then comes the tough job of deciding who is paying the bills and the loans, how the house should be divided, what to sell, what to divide, how to support your children’s education and other several aspects that draw up an agreement, which explains how you’ve decided to divide everything.

Out-Spouse and In-Spouse

Understand your role in your marriage finances, by understanding the difference between the above-mentioned terms. The ‘out spouse’ is the one who doesn’t have a relationship with the family financial advisor or attorney and has never been involved in managing bills, insurances, and budgets. While the ‘in spouse’ is the one who has enough experience and contacts to make this transition without having to go through much trouble. Whether you are an ‘out spouse’ or an ‘in spouse’ determines how secure your post-divorce financial security is. No one wants to get stuck with useless illiquid assets, while the other part gets to enjoy the cash.

For the Older Lot

While those of you who are divorcing in their middle age or later have an additional problem of child custody, because your financial situation in your 40s is more complex than it was when you were in your 20s or even 30s. You have lesser time and energy to get back on track after typical financial setbacks of divorce since you are closer to retirement. Plan out a strategy to minimize disruption to personal finance and secure a safe financial future for your family.

Divorce Financial Tips: Some Do’s and Don’ts

  • DON’T run up debts on joint accounts or freeze accounts without giving any prior notice to your ex-partner. Also, do not ignore calls or letters from companies or banks you owe money to. If you are having a money-tight situation, it is always more advisable to reach out to them as soon as possible, the sooner it is, the more feasible options you have.
  • Consider only those conditions which cater to bills to be paid in the short-term.

While we are already struggling to balance our personal financial status, divorces can simply make the balance status significantly more complicated. Most people slip into the web of emotions, as the finances are wholly neglected. What it really takes is strength.

Online Lending Options

Online Lending Options

If you’re looking for a loan, you’re not limited to banks and credit unions anymore. While both of those types of financial institutions are still a good loan choice if you can qualify, there are plenty of online lenders available, as well. The lender you choose will depend on the type of loan you need and your financial situation. Here are the most popular online lending options and what you can use them for:

Loans Through an Online Lender

These are the most similar option to a loan from a bank or credit union, and you can get a personal loan or a business loan. The process is very similar, except you’re applying for the loan online instead of in person at a branch. The lender processes your application, chooses whether to approve you for a loan and, if you’re approved, sets an annual percentage rate (APR).

Most online lenders allow you to fill out an application and see the APR you could get with them while only going through a soft credit check. This allows you to compare your options without affecting your credit score before making a final decision. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you’ll go through another application, at which point the lender will run a hard credit check on you.

Peer to Peer Loans

You can also get personal loans or business loans with peer to peer loans. The application process is the same as it would be with an online loan. You can still check your APR without going through a hard credit check. The difference is who finances your loan. Instead of an online financial institution financing it, investors can choose to fund your loan on a peer to peer lending marketplace. After you finish your application, the peer to peer lending site puts your loan request on their marketplace where lenders can see it.

Invoice Loans

An invoice loan is only available to businesses because you’re getting a loan on the value of your unpaid invoices. If you have outstanding invoices from your clients, you can get most of the money early through an invoice loan. The lender pays you a set amount, such as 85 percent of your outstanding invoices. You then turn those invoices over to the lender and they collect on them.

One thing to keep in mind with this type of lending is that your customers will know that you’ve used an invoice lender because it will be a different company than your own collecting on your invoices. It’s up to you whether you feel this impacts the image of your business.

Revenue Based Financing

A revenue-based loan is another type of loan that is only available to businesses because you’re getting a loan and paying it back through a percentage of your business’s revenue every month. Instead of having a loan for a set term, you have the loan until you hit the repayment target, which is usually between 150 to 250 percent of the loan amount.

This type of loan provides more flexibility regarding your payments since they’re a percentage of your revenue. If your business is doing well, the payment will be higher ad this will be a more short term loan, but if revenues take a hit, you won’t pay as much. This makes revenue based financing less risky than a traditional loan, where you would need to pay the same amount regardless of how well your business is doing. For that lower risk, you usually end up paying more.

The best thing to do if you’re looking for a loan is to figure out what type of loan you need, and then apply with a few lenders to see what your options are and how much APR you can expect to pay. You have the ability to shop around, so take full advantage and find yourself the best deal.