Budgeting Fun

How to Make Budgeting Fun with Your Family

Budgeting Fun
Make budgeting Fun with your family!

Setting spending limits and crunching numbers is not exactly a traditional recipe for family fun. But you can make budgeting fun by getting a little creative. Here is how:

Talk it through

Finances are a complicated subject. But it is important for your children to learn this very important skill early in life. In order to make budgeting fun for all, make it a game. Seat everyone at the table and talk about where the money goes.

Show them the money

Ideally, you should keep record of your finances in a tangible place. A specific folder in your computer or an organized excel sheet. But let’s be realistic, creating excel formulas is hardly fun for a child, let alone a fun activity for the family.

Our suggestion: Go old school!

Set out three containers, jars, banks or baskets. Mark one of the receptacles with the word save.  One with the wod spend and the final with the word share.

Use real money and coins to fill the containers each month so the whole family can see exactly how a budget works and where money needs to go. Folger recommends divvying up money according to set percentages. This is an especially beneficial method to help your tweens and teens balance their own allowances while earning real-life financial lessons.

Work toward family-fun goals

Budgets are designed to keep your present bills paid as well as plan for the future. If your family is only focusing on what they’re giving up or not getting, there’s no way your family budget will resemble anything but doom and gloom.

Instead, making budgeting fun by including goal that everyone can appreciate or look forward to using. Perhaps you can work toward a family-fun day at a local amusement park or even an extended getaway.

When planning for a vacation, Godfrey stresses the importance of involving everyone in the family on decisions from where to go and what to do to how money should be spent. A budget designed specifically for fun-in-the-sun or a first-time adventure is sure to keep your kids interested in your family’s financial planning.

Give back as a family

Teaching your kids to give back is an important, life-long lesson. Dedicating a portion of your finances will create a life lesson and a lot of fun memories.

With open communication and an eye on future fun, you and your family can make budgeting fun and support your financial goals.


3 Great Financial Skills for Young Adults

Great financial skills at a young age!

The real world is expensive, and if you are a young adult the lack financial aptitude will harm you later on in life. Being financially unaware will make you struggle not only fiscally, but emotionally as well. That’s why you need to acquire financial skills as you make your way through college, navigate your first job and learn to save for the years to come.

 College-bound

College is often the first time you will experience a real sense of freedom. Gone are the days of a traditional school schedule with parents and teachers standing over your shoulder to make sure you study, eat and complete your assignments.

College may also be the first time you are faced with managing your own money to cover bills, school expenses and inevitable loan payments. To help keep you from failing Personal Finance 101, we recommend establishing a budget.

Record income from sources such as part-time job, student loans, money from parents, grants, savings accounts and scholarships.

Then record expenses: things such as books, tuition, rent, clothes, entertainment, college fees, supplies, personal care items and transportation costs. By tracking the first two months of spending, you will earn an accurate baseline of necessary and unnecessary spending and where’s there’s room in the budget for saving.

 On the job

The thought of saving for retirement after securing the first job out of college may seem ludicrous.

After all, you still need to pay off college loans,  rent, car payments and insurance fees.

However, saving for the future as soon as possible and investing in employer-matching retirement programs with the max amount possible are smart financial moves, according to The Balance writer Miriam Caldwell.

Remember the budget you used in college?

Now is the time to update if for the real world. Tracking your income, expenses and spending is the only way to gain control of your finances. As you progress in your career, your financial health should become more robust.

Be sure to consistently evaluate and re-evaluate your budget, plans for the future and investment options.

Credit cards are convenient, and sometimes the only resource you have to get through stressful financial times. But, they come at a high price. Sinking into credit card debt happens quickly and before you know it, you’re over your head in fees and balances you can’t clear.

To help you stay afloat, forgo any dependence on plastic.

 In case of emergency

Life will throw you expensive curveballs, and without an emergency fund, your financial health will take on serious damage.

According to Investopedia writer Amy Fontinelle, any amount you can save each month in a money market account, certificate of deposit or online savings account will do wonders in establishing your financial safety net.

Be sure the account you choose earns high-interest rates, too.

By adopting smart money habits, like budgeting, you’ll create a lucrative and secure future.


Raise Capital for your startup!

4 Ways to Raise Capital for Your Business

Raise Capital for your startup!
Raising Business Capital is Important!

Very few people know how to raise capital for their business, especially if it is their first startup. Though a necessary part of the process, investing your own money may not be enough. How can you raise capital for your business, and where can you get it?

1. Create a solid plan

Your business won’t be successful without a solid plan in place. Without one, you won’t be able to secure capital to get on your feet.

“Every successful business transaction starts with a carefully developed plan,” Jeffrey Hayzlett writes in a September 2017 article for Entrepreneur.

Hayzlett says that a good plan should identify the problem your business is trying to solve. It highlights the unique features that make your service or product stand out. Use these to build a short pitch. You should identify future milestones and then estimate how much capital you will need to meet them.

Without a solid plan, potential investors won’t have any reason to believe they can trust you and your business with their funding.

2. Friends and family

Borrowing money from friends or family is one of the most common ways to raise capital for a new small business. However, many investors shy away from it. After all, the potential cost of failure isn’t just financial; it’s personal. The key is to present your pitch professionally and treat your friends and family like real investors. This will make things go more smoothly if you are turned down.

On the upside, that personal relationship can take you further than you could go with an unfamiliar investor.

3. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way for small businesses to raise capital money to get started. Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe let you solicit funds through online campaigns. In return for their money, donors receive services or products related to the project you are trying to launch. The value of which is based on the amount donated.

4.  Angel investors

Angel investors are individuals with deep pockets who will invest in your startup in exchange for a higher rate of return than traditional investors.

Companies like Google and Yahoo, received help from angel investors in their early stages. “The big advantage is that financing from angel investment is much less risky than debt financing,” Susan Ward writes in an October 2018 article for TheBalance’s Small Business. “And, most angel investors understand business and take a long-term view.” You can find angel investors on websites like New York Angel and Angel List.

These are some of the ways you can raise capital for your business. Others include credit card loans, personal business loans, SBA loans and microloans from nonprofits. Talk with a professional to explore all of your options.


7 Money Saving Tips You Must Know Before Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and before you get together and celebrate Valentine’s Day with your significant other, remember it is saving, not spending what helps you create a future as a couple.

If you struggle with saving, or want to save even more than you do already, here are seven strategies worth implementing.

30-day rule

According to The Simple Dollar contributor Trent Hamm, one of the simplest ways to avoid impulse purchases is to apply the 30-day rule. As it implies, this rule involves waiting a period of 30 days to decide on whether or not to make a purchase. Observing this rule each month is a great way to build a long-term habit of making delayed purchasing decisions.

Stick to your shopping lists

Whether you’re grocery shopping or clothes shopping, an easy way to avoid unplanned purchases is to make a list, as Hamm advises. Make sure to stick to the list and turn a blind eye to anything not on it.

As a result, this list will help you buy only the food and clothing you need, rather than splurging on junk food that you might not eat or trendy apparel that you might only wear a few times.

Have a night in

While having a night out with your partner or friends for Valentines or any occasion can be refreshing, it can be a pricey habit.

With that in mind, Hamm recommends limiting evening outings by opting for alternative entertainment and food at home. Try having a game or trivia night, or an appetizer potluck, with friends the next time you crave a get-together.

Pay down your debts

School loans and credit cards can have high interest rates that add up over time. Kimberly Palmer, contributor with U.S. News & World Report, advises to pay down your debts as soon as possible to maximize savings.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin with the loans or accounts that have the highest interest rates.

Take advantage of Money Market Accounts and Certificate of Deposits 

An excellent way to grow your long-term savings is opening a Money Market Account or a Certificate of Deposit. These accounts grow at a set rate without the risk of a crashing stock market.

If you own a business, this is the perfect way to save for your taxes. Money Market accounts are liquid, giving you more access to your money.

Use automatic deposits

Put modern banking methods to use by setting up automatic deposits into your savings account, each time you get a paycheck.

Per Former Balance writer Joshua Kennon, it’s an easy way to stay on track with your saving goals.

It’s also a good idea to have the savings account with a separate financial institution than your checking account, as Michele Lerner with Money Crashers recommends. That way, it’s a bit harder to access the funds for non-essential items, the next time you feel like making an impulse buy.

Make your own meals

Frequently eating out can take a toll on your savings. Palmer recommends cooking your own meals regularly, to reduce monthly food costs. She also suggests implementing budget-friendly dishes — like soup and pasta — into your meal plan, to save even more money.

By applying these seven tips, you’re well on your way to a more lucrative new year — and building healthier financial habits that will pay off in the years to come.


Business Loans

How to Choose The Right Business Loan

Choose the right Business Loan for you!
Better Business, Better Loans!

Sometimes, your company needs a hand getting by when the market changes or unexpected costs arise.

During this situations, a business needs a bigger boost to push it to a new operating leve. In both instances, short- and long-term business loans are helpful. Learn more about these two loan options and the best time to apply for one.

Short-term loan basics

As the name implies, short-term business loans don’t stay on the books for long.

According to Rosemary Peavler in an article for The Balance Small Business, these loans usually last less than a year, with some terms as short as 90 days.

These smaller loans are great for businesses that need to build up inventory for busy times.

For instance, a retail shop might apply for a short-term loan to buy Christmas inventory in the fall so they’re ready when the holiday season strikes.

A manufacturing business that needs to pay for supplies before production begins might also use a short-term loan to help them get moving and bring money in.

Long-term loan basics

While short-term loans are for quick infusions of cash, long-term loans are for much bigger projects. According to NerdWallet, these loans are best suited for a business making a major investment or expanding.

Long-term loans have more options, with some of them having terms up to 10 years.

While a business (and its owner, depending on its structure) needs to be in good order to qualify for either a short- or long-term loan, long-term loans are much harder to qualify for. The benefits of a longer loan period include lower interest rates and smaller monthly payments.

Which one to choose?

 

Choosing between short-term and long-term loans is fairly simple, as it depends on how quickly your business can pay back what you owe.

If the money from a loan is more of a bandage solution until you get more capital, a short-term loan is probably the right choice.

However, if your business needs a lot of cash to pay for something that might not produce income for a while, a long-term loan is a better option.

Another thing your business should consider when looking at short-term and long-term loans is which one you qualify for and how expensive it is to borrow that money.

If your business is NEW!

If you are a start-up businesses you may qualify for a short-term loan more easily than long-term loan. The funds might be enough to get you going, but the higher interest rates might make repayment harder than looking for other sources of cash.

If your business is long-standing

If your business qualifies for a loan with a longer term and is comfortable committing to payments spread over several years, the interest rate — or cost to borrow money — tends to be lower.

Choosing the right small-business loan is difficult, especially if an enterprise qualifies for different types. If there is any question about which term is best, consult your financial or business advisor.


Business Growth

4 Business Management Skills You Need to Remember

Business Growth
Grow your business!

Do you remember the time your business started making profit?
The time you realized all your hard work had finally paid off. We are here to remind you of this moment because  there are key business management skills you need to maintain and never forget as your business flourishes.

1. Learn to listen to expert advice

The thing about owning your business is that you learn a lot and it becomes more difficult to listen to experts. This “know-it-all” syndrome can severely deter you from achieving your long-term business goals. Listen to the experts because they can see your business from a neutral perspective. They can tell you when something is working and when something needs to improve. Surround yourself with experts you trust. They may not always tell you what you want to hear, but they will advise you on what is best.

2. Separate your business finances and your personal finances.
Managing your finances properly is essential to keep things running smoothly. Make sure you are budgeting separately, saving separately and spending adequately. Make sure, you have a “salary” for yourself and pay yourself first. A huge common mistake is to reinvest all your earnings into the business you are running. Although, that might be great for a short-term investment strategy, it does not account for your personal financial well-being. You have to anticipate you will not be running your business forever, for this reason you need to have your own personal savings.

3. Learn the tax deductions that apply to you
Make sure you have a “Tax” expert look over your business finances and make sure you are paying as little taxes as required to. Most small businesses qualify for a 20% “Pass-through deduction. The deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers whose 2018 taxable incomes fall below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. Additionally, some business might be able to claim their vehicles. If this is you, get some information about how to get Free Gap Insurance  and take advantage of BSCU perks.

4. Stay Liquid and plan accordingly
Bad times happen to everyone, make sure you are prepared for them. Make sure you keep at least 6 months of liquid reserves at all times. Make sure you are also set with the proper protections and have a plan set up for emergency. Ask yourself the following; Do you have disability, health insurance and life insurance set up? If not, time to make adjustments.

We hope this helps!


6 Smart Financial Choices You Should be Making

Smart Financial Choices is the Making
Make Financial Choices that Matter

The world is a revolving door of bills, savings, spending and decisions. When we talk about financial wellness, we don’t usually talk about millions. We talk about living within your means. This means you have to make financial choices that will benefit you. For example:

 

  1. Create an emergency fund

Every single one of you, regardless of how much you make should have an emergency fund. Unfortunately, more than 50 million Americans forget about this very important financial choice.

This very important aspect of savings will help you take care of unexpected life events that will require you to spend money. The last thing you want when an emergency arises is stress about money. This fund will help you get to your next step easier.

 

  1. Embrace minimalism

Do not spend money on things you don’t need. Yes, you may treat yourself once in a while but if you are going out every weekend or changing your house décor every 2 months; STOP!

Take a step back, breathe and ask yourself “Can you live without this?” If the answer is yes, then put your credit card/cash back. We cannot stress this enough; you must live within your means. Once you start doing this, you can actually start achieving other goals like traveling, saving for a home and go on a shopping spree without having a huge financial strain.

 

  1. Make your money accrue interest

Growing up I heard everyone older than me say that financial stability came along when you figured out a way to make your money make own its money. CD’s and Money Market Accounts are the perfect way to make your money accrue interest by just letting it sit. It is also the perfect way to get disciplined with your savings. CD’s and Money market accounts are also a guaranteed way to make money because they do not rely on the stock market to grow. You just need patience.

 

  1. Change your insurance

We briefly mentioned changing your insurance on our “How to Make a proper Budget” blog. The internet has made research easy. Changing your insurance is research you should be making. See how you can take advantage of discounts, promos and benefits that can help you reduce the cost of your insurance.

 

  1. Save money on gas

Gas is one of those little things that makes a difference. If you live anywhere in Florida, you are spending money on gas. A way you can start saving on gas is buying or switching into a smaller car. This may not be possible if you are a parent or have a big family, but if this is not something you need…CHANGE IT!

 

  1. Find ways to make extra money
    Making a little extra money is smart- especially when you want to treat yourself a bit more. You can use APPs and websites like eBay, Offer Up and Facebook to sell gently used items. You can open a separate Savings Account to add the little extra money you are making. The extra dollars can help you pay for a plane ticket and help you pay for a vacation. It can also make it easier to grow your Emergency Fund.

 

Try to follow these tips to help you make better financial choices. It is the little changes that make a difference in your financial well-being.


Create a proper budget

How to create a proper budget

Create a proper budget
Start Budgeting today

Budgeting is the little plan in 2019 that will keep you financially organized and stress-free. However, to make an accurate budget you must have a clear picture of what your goals are.

For example, aside from paying bills this year, you will also like to travel and buy a home. Both are achievable but will take some discipline in your part.

Before you start, go through find ways to reduce your bills.

Reduce Your Bills 

We can thank the internet for making research and price comparison a lot easier. Basically, your first job is to review how to lower your main bills. You should try to reduce your car insurance, phone bill and internet payment. Take around 2 to 3 days to make accurate research and try not to fall for hidden fees.

 

Second, make a list of any additional expenses you have. These expenses are your wants. They will probably include coffee trips, friend dinners, splurge shopping and any expense you simply do not need to do. Minimalism is key when it comes to sticking your budget. After you have written these out find a way to cut them by 80%. Start making coffee at home and have a home-made breakfast with your friends instead.

Prioritize your Bills

Your budget will be divided in 3 parts. Your goals, emergency fund and everyday living.

Set aside 5% of your income after taxes and make this number your emergency fund goal. You will not touch this money unless you absolutely need too.

Then write down every expense you have. Starting with your groceries and ending with your favorite leisure expense.

If your end result shows more income than expenses, you are off to a good start. This means you can prioritize this excess to areas of your budget such as traveling and retiring. If you are showing a higher expense column than income, it means some changes will have to be made.

Make adjustments to expenses.

 If you have accurately identified and listed all of your expenses, the ultimate goal would be to have your income and expense columns to be equal. This means all of your income is accounted for and budgeted for a specific expense or savings goal.

If you’re in a situation where expenses are higher than income, you should look at your  “wants” to find areas to cut. Since these expenses are typically non-essential, it should be easy to shave a few dollars in a few areas to bring you closer to your income.

Review Your Budget Monthly

It’s important to review your budget on a regular basis to make sure you’re staying on track. After the first month take a minute to sit down and compare the actual expenses versus what you had created in the budget. This will show you where you did well and where you may need to improve.

Most importantly, keep yourself organize. A budget only works if you are willing to follow it and put in the work.


Safely file business Taxes

How to ensure that your business taxes are filed safely

How to ensure that your business taxes are filed safely

Safely file business Taxes
Safely file business Taxes

As a business owner, your number one priority is safeguarding the interests of your enterprise, which is why you should take extra precaution to ensure that your information is protected when filing your business taxes. These tips will ensure that your returns are filed safely, and your information remains uncompromised.

Practical protection

Tax returns require sensitive information pertaining to your business as well as personal details which make them attractive to hackers and identity thieves.

Since the Internal Revenue Service requires you to keep your tax filings and supporting documents for a minimum of three years and a maximum of seven years. The agency advises that you keep all paper documents locked safely away.

A locked drawer or cabinet are good options, but your best bet may very well be a hidden, fireproof safe.

When working with a tax professional, take the time to vet their credentials before you hand over any sensitive documents. If you choose to file on your own via tax software, make sure that your computer is equipped with up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software and that you are protected by a firewall.

If you store your documents on your computer for record-keeping purposes or for electronic filing, the IRS recommends installing software designed to encrypt your files and backup drives to prevent important information from being stolen.

Once you’re ready to cycle out older tax documents, the IRS advises that you shred any paper documents thoroughly to prevent identity theft. For electronically stored documents, you will need to wipe your drives before selling or disposing of an old computer or external drive.

Delivery methods

Before you send off or hand over physical tax paperwork, The Balance’s William Perez and Beverly Bird advise that you make a detailed list of everything you’re sending and make copies of every document. You can scan and save the documents as PDFs on your computer. To get an extra layer of protection get add secondary copies to a flash drive or an external hard drive.

Having readily available backup copies will reduce the stress that occurs if something should go missing en route to your accountant or to the government.

If possible, Perez and Bird suggest hand-delivering your documents to your accountant or professional tax preparer, as this serves as the best option to ensure the safe filing of your documents.

If your accountant is too far to reach in person, it’s suggested that you spring for delivery or signature confirmation and that you maintain your tracking information to monitor your documents’ progress. Additionally, Try not to use email.

Never send sensitive details within the body of an email and ensure that all documents are encrypted and password-protected.

Your tax paperwork is too important to the health of your business. By taking the proper precautions, you can better ensure its success and stability without having to worry as much.


5 Saving Money Tricks for this Holiday Season

The Holiday season is upon us and this could either mean you are overly excited about the celebrations or you’re overly stressed out about money. Granted, you can also be both, excited and stressed out. This is normal during this time and we are here to offer you some guidance.

How can you save your money and spend wisely this holiday season?

Make a Budget

It should be no surprise to you that a budget is the smartest way to keep track of your money. You should keep one year-round but you should also have a separate one during the holiday season.

When you create your holiday budget, be smart and avoid setting yourself up for failure. Do not set a budget that is unrealistically low or one that is way too high. Also, think about cutting back in other areas. Can you avoid brunch Sundays with your friends for a month? Or even little things like buying coffee every morning?

Make a list of gifts that you absolutely need to get and another list of gifts you can make yourself. Getting a beautiful printed picture in a cute affordable frame can be just as nice as a $50 bottle of wine. After all, it is the thought that counts.

Make a Potluck

Getting your friends and family together to celebrate is always a beautiful tradition. However, if you are the host, it can be a very expensive one too. Deviate from the all-or-nothing thinking and ask your friends to help you with side dishes and dessert for your celebration. Not only will a potluck save you money, it will also save you precious needed time.

Get Flying Deals and Discounts

If you’re planning on taking a nice trip out of town, search for discounts. Gone are the days where travel agents had the only good flight packages. Now you have a million ways to get discounted fly tickets, car rentals and hotels. In fact, you can even get some travel benefits with your BSCU credit card.

Here is a trick: When you search for flights online, make sure to check at different times of the day. Believe it or not, some flights can get very cheap when you purchase them at odd hours like 2:00am.

Have Will-Power and Know When You Need to Stop

When your list is finished and you’ve checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished, and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget.

Most people get the itch to shop a few days before Christmas, if this is you, then leave some shopping you NEED for the last days. This way, you will still feel like you are getting something but you are not just “checking things out.”

Time to Use Coupons.

If this isn’t typically you, that is okay but during this time you’ll be wise to utilize coupons. You can get coupons online, via email, through a newspaper and you can even buy a cheap coupon book at the mall. The point is you have choices. Do not buy that $25 dress when you can get it for $15. Be smart because every dollar adds up.

Finally, remember to enjoy this time with your family and if you have to spend, spend wisely. We hope this helps.