Month : September 2015

Money Management

How To Do Online Banking Safely

The internet is everywhere in our daily life. We can do everything online, like listening to music and watching movies. We can even buy anything online like a car or house. Heck, you can even meet your future wife online. Banking isn’t any different. These days online banking isn’t just convenient, it’s also safe. But it’s only as safe as the user.

Businesses like Lanemegleren (check out their homepage) are really hyping online banking. The only issue with online banking is the thieves that want to milk you out of your money. They’re a lot savvier than the old days of online banking. In today’s world, you can never be too careful with your personal information and trying to keep it from identity thieves.

The Holy Grail for a thief is getting a hold of your username and password. Once they get that, it’s free reign on your account. Never ever give out your username and password to anyone. That goes double for your bank. Your bank will never call you or email you out of the blue asking for that information. That’s most likely a scammer trying to take your money.

Also, be sure you come up with a good password. I highly recommend a program like last pass. It’s a password manager and it can create passwords for you so that they’re hard to guess. It’ll also save them for you so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. If you do get a call or email asking for your username and password, get as much info as you can about them and report it to authorities. Who knows, you might single handedly bring down a massive identity thief ring and get a movie made about you.

Another layer of protection is security questions. So even if somehow they are able to get your username and password, they’ll most likely miss the security question. You can use security questions like most people and just answer the question, or you can use it as a second password. Instead of just spelling your answer regularly, try adding in some numbers. That’ll help make the security of your account even better.

Online banking is the future of personal finance. It puts your banking at your fingertips. Just make sure you’re keeping the bad guys at bay. People are as clever as they’ve always been and are always looking for new ways to trick you. Just keep to the basics and you’ll be alright.

Mind Over Money

How To Solve An Uncomfortable Christmas

So you’re tackling your debt to achieve financial freedom but it’s time for Christmas and gifts, what do you do? It’s sometime uncomfortable if people shower you with gifts and you can’t reciprocate. They want to show you that they love you but it makes you feel bad. Here are 3 things you can do to get them to listen to you

Make a plan

Me and my fiancé are asking our relatives what they want that is inexpensive. This has been greatly received and gives the hint that you aren’t giving much and you don’t want much in return. You can also mention this in the conversation. If people know your intentions and know what to expect they usually follow the lead.

Return

Let them know that you are just going to return the gifts if they give you more than 1 gift (or whatever you are comfortable with keeping). This will get the point across that you are serious and you appreciate their love but it makes you feel bad. True, you still get the value of the gift but it’s the principle that counts :)

Just Say “No”

After you told them how you feel and they insist on giving anyway , just say no and don’t take the gifts. You don’t have to be mean about it, just say “No thank you”. This is the most confrontational way but it will get the job done.

Just remember that you can’t control what other people do and you have to accept it. As long as you’ve expressed what you can do, then they can react however they want. They can get you a bunch of gifts because they want to, or getting you an inexpensive gift because they understand you. This economy has really brought the holidays to their roots and price doesn’t mean you love someone more than someone else. The thought really does count.

Are you uncomfortable when someone gives you something and you can’t reciprocate?

How would you handle the situation?

Frugality

Do Black Friday Deals Still Matter?

Black Friday DealsOne of the biggest shopping traditions of the American holiday season is Black Friday. This day has most likely been the time to get incredible deals on holiday shopping since the late 19th century. For over a century, retailers have been capitalizing on this official start day of the holiday shopping day to draw in customers, move merchandise, and help increase their profits. For the past few decades, retailers have been providing more and more incentives to draw customers to their doors on Black Friday, especially with the rise of Internet shopping.

More and more retailers now have Black Friday deals all month long. Plus, Cyber Monday has become a major shopping day with similar deals found on Black Friday, but from the comfort of one’s home. With so many changes to this traditional shopping day, many wonder whether the Black Friday deals still matter. However, evidence shows that not only does it still play a major role in jump starting the holiday shopping season, most retailers still capitalize on this day to draw in customers with incredibly low discounts and deals.

Black Friday in Numbers

According to the National Retailer Federation’s (NRF) Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, the average person spends about $804.42 on the holidays, including purchasing gifts, food, decorations, and other items. In 2013, consumers spent over $57 billion on Black Friday, according to NRF. This is a decrease of about 2 percent from 2012. However, according to US News and World Report, this discount was not because people did not advantage of the discounts. Instead, it was because more people took advantage of the Thanksgiving Day shopping. Additionally, many people took advantage of Cyber Monday. About 141 million people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend, and there was an increase in eCommerce sells over the weekend as well. With so many people taking advantage of the deals in person, this shopping weekend still packs a punch for brick and mortar retailers.

The Rise of Online Shopping

Online and mobile shopping has become increasingly popular in the past decade or two. About 56 percent of consumers plan to do holiday shopping online according to the NRF, which is an increase from 2013’s 51.5 percent. They also plan on doing about 44.4 percent of their shopping online, which is the highest amount since the NRF’s survey began in 2006. According to predictions by USA Today, Cyber Monday is expected to crush Black Friday. Last year, about 131 million people shopped on Cyber Monday, which was only 10 million fewer than those who went to the stores over the weekend. The increase in Internet shopping is not just about the ease of shopping from home instead of dealing with other customers. For the majority of customers, savings and deals played the biggest role in deciding when and where to shop.

The Importance of Savings and Deals

Although more and more shoppers are beginning to take advantage of the many deals offered by retailers online, the most important aspects of shopping remains the deals. When shopping, deals and discounts play a significant factor in the decision making process of savvy shoppers. According to the NRF survey, sales or price discounts account for 74.7 percent of the decision to shop at a particular store.

Stores utilize large portions of their marketing and advertising budgets to draw customers into the stores to take advantage of the tradition of sales and deals on this day. However, it is changing and expanding, including stores adding deals online, in the days or weeks beforehand, and creating special deals throughout the whole weekend and even the entire week after Thanksgiving.

Why Black Friday Remains Important

With so many changes in shopping habits, stores are altering their traditions of Black Friday. However, it will still most likely bring in over $50 billion, as it has for the past few years. Some of the shopping may be on different days or online, but for retailers it still comes down to their Black Friday deals. Additionally, many stores will offer Door Busters to incentive customers coming to their storefronts. Some stores also will be open Thanksgiving night to draw customers into the stores to take advantage of the deals.

The face of Black Friday may be changing, but the tradition remains. The Black Friday 2014 deals, which you can find at BFads, will continue to draw in customers and crowds, keeping the day relevant. People will still take advantage of the major discounts and deals offered by the companies. Like many traditions, Black Friday is changing to keep up with the times. However, it remains a relevant event for stores to entice customers to purchase items, both those on sale and others. Although it is no longer necessarily the busiest shopping day of the year, it remains a significant time period for retailers to increase their profits.

Debt Management

The Ultimate Guide To Slashing Your Personal Debt And Expenses

One thing that most people have in common is debt. Some folks only have a small amount of debt, while others might be drowning in it! We usually get in debt because we want to buy something that we don’t have the spare cash for at the time. Examples include electronic gadgets, cars and houses.

Debt isn’t always a bad thing as it’s a way of proving to future creditors that you are a responsible borrower.

Slash Debt

Source: Flickr

But only if you can manage your debt. If you have to pay out more than you earn, you are on a slippery slope to debt hell.

If that sounds like you, today’s blog post will go some way towards helping you off that debt mountain you’re stuck on. If your money management skills suck, keep reading to find out how you can rebuild your finances.

Make a list of debts and earnings

The first step is to create a list of outstanding debts that you have. It will show you what you pay for each month so that you have an accurate analysis of what you owe and to whom. The list you compile should have the following information:

  • Name of creditor;
  • What you pay each month;
  • What your balance is;
  • Interest rate (i.e. APR);
  • Arrears, if any.

Once you have compiled this list, you need to add in how much you earn each month. For those of you that are self-employed, make a note of your average monthly earnings. You can also include income from other sources like pensions, share dividends and so forth.

I recommend compiling this list on a spreadsheet as it’s easy to update and calculate sum totals. If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, you can always use a pen, paper and a calculator to do the same job!

Determine how bad your debt situation is

Calculate two sum totals – i.e. your debts and your earnings. If you’re in the red and owe more than you earn, you need to address your debt issues immediately. The same applies if you only have a few bucks spare each month.

What you need to do next is contact your creditors and ask if you can reduce or defer your debt payments for a period. Creditors would rather work with you to reach a solution than sue you for outstanding debts.

Make any debts with arrears your top priority. If you are in arrears, it can damage your credit score and make it difficult to apply for credit in the future.

Consider a debt consolidation loan

Do you have a lot of credit cards, especially those with high interest rates? If so, a debt consolidation loan could help you gain control of your finances again. Loans do not compound interest like credit cards do, and you have a fixed set of payments to make to clear the debt.

Approach your bank and see if they’ll give you a loan. If they don’t, you could try applying for a loan from a peer-to-peer lender or even a credit union. In both cases, they will assess your application on its merits rather than just relying on a credit scoring system alone.

 

Cut Expenses

Source: Flickr

Pay off small debts first

Part of the problem with having debt is not having the motivation to pay it off! If you have this problem, you should consider paying small debts off first. Doing so will help you to achieve your goal of becoming debt-free. That’s because you can use the extra cash freed up towards the next-highest debt and so on.

Of course, if you have some high-interest debts, you should pay them off for obvious reasons. But if all your debts have a similar rate of interest, paying off small debts first is an ideal motivator.

Make sure you have the correct insurance for your car

Having the correct insurance for your car can save you a ton of money in the long run! It means that, if you were ever to have an accident (touch wood), you would be properly compensated for damages. For example, classic cars will be so much much expensive to repair due to their rare parts etc. Getting the correct cover, such as Carole Nash Cherished Vehicles insurance, means that you can be rest assured that your baby will be well looked after without you having to fork out a bomb.

Ditch the car and buy a motorbike

It’s no secret that motorbikes are cheaper to buy and maintain than cars. If you’ve got a car but seldom carry passengers or cargo, sell it and buy a used motorbike instead. You can use the spare cash to pay off your debts faster, and you will lower your monthly expenses too!

Before you go ahead and buy a motorbike, make sure the model you want is one you can afford to insure. For instance, BMW bike insurance quotes might offer higher premiums than ones for Kawasaki bikes.

Get rid of services you don’t need

Cable TV, cell phone contracts and even streaming music services all increase your monthly debts. Your goal is to reduce your debt as fast as possible. To focus on this goal, you need to ditch any expenses you don’t need.

When you’re in a better financial position in the future, you can then consider getting them again. And don’t worry; there are cheap or even free alternatives to what you pay for right now:

  • Cable TV – watch free TV shows and films online;
  • Cell phone contracts – downgrade to a SIM-only or prepay contract;
  • Streaming music – listen to music online for free.

Sell your unwanted possessions

I can guarantee you that everyone has personal possessions they never use or even need. Do a tour of your home and find stuff that you never use and have no attachment to. If they have a value, get busy by listing them for sale on eBay!

You can also use other classifieds or auction websites to advertise your wares for sale. Or for an old-fashioned approach, consider having a garage sale. You could even sell your stuff at a flea market.

It’s quite a fun and rewarding experience. Especially as you’ll have the cash to put towards clearing your debts down quicker! It’s something that I have done loads of times in the past to get some cash together.

As a by-product, you’ll have more space in your home once you sell your unwanted items! Just make sure that you sell valuables for the best prices possible.

I hope this guide will help you to sort your debts out and lead a more stress-free life. Thanks for reading!