By Brian McKay
Be honest. How much do you know about your current financial situation? When was the last time you opened a bank statement or had a good look at your accounts online? Do you know exactly how much you earn each month, how much you spend and whether or not you’re in debt? Many of us try hard to stay hard in the black, but this is not always plain sailing. If you’re worried about your finances, it’s worth taking time to draw up a simple budget. It sounds dramatic to say that this could change your life, but it’s so important to have an accurate view of what’s going on in those accounts and how much you can afford to spend. If you don’t have a budget, you’ve come to the right place!
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The basics of budgeting
Budgeting is a technique, which helps you to plan how you’re going to spend your money and enable you to keep track of payments that are coming into and going out of your accounts. In the simplest form, a budget is two columns of numbers. One represents money coming in, and the other represents your expenses. In order to stay afloat, you need to find a balance and make sure that you haven’t got a deficit between your income and your outgoings. If you’ve never done a budget before and you tend to just hope for the best, being a little more organized could have a really positive impact on your financial situation. There are several different ways you can budget including using apps and spreadsheets or resorting to old-fashioned pen and paper. You’ll find sites like WiserRobo helpful, especially if you’re looking to use budgeting techniques to try and save or make more money. Once you’re used to budgeting, it will become a way of life, and you’ll probably wonder how on earth you managed before you started crunching numbers and paying attention to your statements. When you are doing a budget, it’s useful to have a list of payments that you make on a regular basis and one-off expenses you plan to cover during that specific time period. At Christmas, for example, you may find that your additional expenses are much higher than normal.
Why budgeting is so important
When you carry cash, or you’re making contactless payments on a daily basis, it can be really difficult to keep track of how much money you’ve spent, and this can easily lead to overspending. If you’ve got no idea how much disposable income you’ve got per month, there’s every chance that you’ll end up spending cash that should actually be earmarked for something else. Budgeting doesn’t take long, it’s easy to do, and it can have an incredibly positive impact on your finances. With a simple budget, you know exactly what you can spend, what you can save and what you’ve got to pay for in the coming weeks or months. You can identify potential pitfalls, such as a shortfall in the run-up to the holidays, and this can help you plan ahead and prevent unexpected surprises.
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If you don’t already work to a monthly budget, now is the time to get organized and start figuring out those numbers. You won’t regret it!
By Lina Martinez
Credit scores are one of the most talked about topics in the financial world. Consequently, there tends to be so much information about them online. Sadly, a lot of this information is more fiction than cold hard facts. As a result, we’ve decided to take a look at the biggest credit score myths, and debunk them once and for all.
A Bad Credit Score Stays With You Forever
Some people are led to believe that a bad credit score stays on their back forever. There are numerous examples of people I know that have worried about applying for credit because they once had a very bad credit score. Is a bad score in the past something to worry about in the present and future?
Truthfully, no, it really isn’t. A bad score will only hurt you in the present moment, for as long as it remains bad. As you can see on bankrate.com, there are loads of ways you can improve your credit score. It’s something that fluctuates over time depending on your financial behaviour. If it was once bad but is now good, then you don’t have to worry about the past at all. When you have a credit check against you, they’ll only look at your current score and nothing else.
Your Credit Score Is Based On Applying For Credit
Many of us believe that a credit score is made up simply by looking at our credit applications. People will tell you that the more credit you apply for, the lower your score will drop. There’s a lot of truth in this statement; your score does drop when you apply for credit. This is simply because applying for any form of credit is seen as a potential financial risk. People that rarely apply for any credit and owe very few people money will generally have better credit scores.
However, this isn’t the only thing that your score is based on. There are many other factors of your financial activity that come into play. If you visit experian.com, you’ll see a whole list of other things that combine to make your credit score. This includes things like bankruptcies, payment history, debt, and so on. So, no, your credit score isn’t solely based on your number of credit applications.
You Need A Good Credit Score To Get A Loan
Incorrect, well, partially incorrect. There are some loans out there that do require you to have a good credit score. Furthermore, some lenders only give out loans depending on how good your score is. For example, it’s rare to find a bank that will hand out a mortgage to someone with a bad score. So, in this instance, you do need a good credit score to get a loan.
However, saying this is the rule for every scenario is just plain false. You can still get various loans even with a bad credit score. If you visit DebtConsolidationUSA.com, you will see that debt consolidation loans are available to people with bad credit. There are personal loans, car loans, and a lot of other loans available as well. Mainly, it depends on how much money you’re borrowing, and the lending institution. Typically, you won’t be able to apply for as good of a loan with bad credit compared to if you had good credit. But, the fact remains, you can still get loans with a poor score.
You Can Damage Your Score By Checking It
Checking your credit score is a normal thing to do as you’re keen to know the state it’s in. This isn’t something you get in the mail every month or see on your bank statement. You have to actually go out and check it. Some people believe that doing this will damage your score and lower it. However, this is only true if you check your score in the wrong way.
The right way to check your score is to do it through a credit score checking service. This won’t hurt your score at all, and you can do it as often as possible. The wrong way is to check your score by applying for credit. As mentioned earlier, applying for credit can lower your score slightly. But, most people will only ever check their score when they apply for loans, and the lender does the check for them. Don’t do this as it will hurt you. But, use the right credit checking services, and you can see where you’re at without worrying about damaging your score.
People With Low Income Will Have Bad Credit Scores
Another very common thing that’s thrown around is this idea that having a low income will automatically grant you a bad credit score. This is built around the ideology that the more money you have, the better your credit score will be. Like a lot of the things on this list, there is some truth behind these claims. For one, having more money means you’re less likely to be at risk of certain factors that lower your credit score. As an example, you might be clear of any debt, and you may not be applying for lots of credit. Both of these factors could apply to poorer people who may depend more on credit and be in debt.
Having said that, there are many instances where someone that earns a low income has a better score than someone that earns way more than them. It all boils down to money management and how good you are at it. You can earn minimum wage and be so good at saving money that you’ve got no debts, don’t depend on credit, and pay all your bills on time. The myth here is that your income affects your credit score when it simply doesn’t.
There’s a high chance you believe a lot of the things mentioned in this list. Hopefully, this article has helped clear everything up and present you with the facts. Yes, there is some truth in many of the things suggested here. However, a lot of the time, they’re generalizations that don’t apply across the board. Use this post to help you understand credit scores without worrying about fact or fiction.
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by Jerry Mooney
One of the biggest problems with owning a car in the modern world is the price which comes with it. As roads become more populated, they become more dangerous, and this drives the prices of insurance through the roof. Along with this, as oil runs out, fuel for cars is also getting pricier. Of course, though, it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, the motor on your driveway could be a source of finance, not just a drain on it. To help you out, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to squeeze some cash out of your car.
Over the last few years, making money with your car has become easier than ever. Companies like Uber have taken the world of taxis by storm, offering the chance for those with some experience on the road to make some money. Using a method like this, you will be technically self-employed. This gives you a lot of freedom, but it might not be for everyone, as it also comes with some risk. An option like this is often best for people who would like to have a schedule which they choose, while also being backed by a big company.
In most places, achieving this sort of goal will require some background credentials which you’ll need to get. Taxi licensing is usually handled by your local government and will enable you to get everything you need to start driving people around. Along with this, you will also need to have your own car. This should be something reliable and economical to run, while also being safe enough to move passengers around without any issues. With all of this in place, you should be able to get started with the app of your choosing.
For some people, the idea of working as a freelance taxi driver to get some money out of their car will seem very boring. This isn’t your only option for driving work, though, as delivery drivers are also becoming very popular. Working for a business like Amazon, you can choose your hours and exactly how much you’d like to work each day. This sort of role is often a lot more secure than using something like Uber. Along with this, you will interact with customers a lot less, and this will be a huge benefit to some people.
To be able to perform a job like this, you probably won’t need to get any special licensing or permits, as you won’t be putting anyone at risk. Instead, you will simply need to make sure you’re insurance covers your car when it’s being used for business. Without this sort of coverage in place, you could risk getting in some serious trouble and may even be left without a car. Once you’re all covered, you can start to think about applying for one of the many delivery companies out there which hire people on a freelance basis.
Finally, of course, some people won’t want to make driving into their job at all, and will simply want a way to get some money out of their car for a rainy day. Thankfully, there are some good ways to do this. Getting car title loans online only through the best companies will take some research. But, with a financial service like this in place, you will be able to take a safe loan without risking losing anything bigger than your car. The value in your motor is often overlooked. You don’t have to give it up to get something out of it, though.
To be able to get a loan like this, you will first need to make sure that you have an operational car which is up to date with servicing and other maintenance. The condition of the car will make a huge difference when it comes to the amount of money you can borrow. Along with this, though, you’ll also have to think about your credit rating. If your score isn’t high enough, it could be very hard to convince a company to part with their hard-earned cash.
Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the money you get out of your car. A lot of people will ignore this part of their life, simply seeing it as a tool to help them from A to B. Of course, though, this piece of machinery can offer you a lot more than this, whether you choose to make a career or grab the cash and run.
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter.
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by Brian McKay
There are some businesses you come across that people in other countries have never heard of. I’m sure many of you have been abroad or spoken to someone from another country and been amazed that they’ve not heard of a certain brand you deem common. It works both ways as foreign countries have brands and businesses that are big there but non-existent here.
Then, you have certain brands and companies that are well-known throughout the world. Again, you’ve probably been abroad and seen a certain company out there and been stunned as you thought they only existed back home. Businesses like this are smart as they’ve taken themselves global. This means that instead of just tapping into one national market, they’re working on an international level.
In this piece, you will learn how your business can do this. You can go from a small company working on a local level to a national one, and then a global one. But, before we get into this, let’s look at some reasons why expanding your business is a good thing.
Why Expand Your Business Across The Globe?
Expanding your business globally requires a lot of work and patience. So, why would your business want to go through all this effort? The first reason is simple; you can make a lot more money by tapping into global markets. Instead of just having customers in one country, you could have some in multiple countries. At some point, you will reach a moment where your business struggles to increase its customer base if you’re only working in one country. Try as you might, you just can’t bring in a significant number of new customers. But, by focusing elsewhere too, you can bring in more new customers.
Furthermore, a global business helps establish your reputation all over the world. Think about when you go abroad, and you see certain brands that are common back home. What goes through your mind? Normally, you think wow, I never knew this company was so big! Establishing your brand on a global scale will make your business seem bigger and more important. This creates a positive reputation, which helps your business in so many other ways.
The last point I want to make is that a global business isn’t reliant on one particular market. Let’s say you’re selling things to a national market, but you end up in an economic recession. This normally leads to consumers being more frugal and spending less money. It’s a tough time for businesses, and your sales dry up. However, if you’re also operating in other countries, then you’re not going to be as badly affected. The economy may be down in one market, but it could be booming in another one!
Expanding Your Business Globally: The Plan
Now that you’ve seen why it makes sense to expand your business, you’re going to be keen to learn how. In this section, you will find all the tips you need to form a plan of action. Be warned, you won’t see overnight results. This isn’t a plan you can implement and expect to see results after a few days or even weeks. It’s a lengthy process, but you will eventually get to a point where your business is operating globally.
Identify Your Most Profitable Global Markets
The first step is figuring out where your business should expand to. You might think this doesn’t make sense as ‘globally’ means all over the world, right? True, but there are definitely some countries your business will see more success in than others. As such, it makes sense to only expand to these countries, rather than wasting money on marketing in places where results aren’t guaranteed. For example, would a business that makes and sells alcohol see a lot of success marketing in deeply religious countries where the people don’t drink alcohol? No, it wouldn’t be a smart business decision. Here, you’re conducting initial market research to identify the best countries to expand your business into.
Continue Market Research With Expert Advice
Next, you need to build on your market research with the help of expert advice. The best way to do this is to hire established experts from all over the world. Try and hire people with knowledge of these foreign markets so they can help you learn more about them. There are two routes you can take with this idea. Firstly, you can publish an international job advertisement for people to come over and work with you. In this scenario, make sure you also hire a lawyer to deal with any international work clearance and visa issues. The alternative route is working remotely with other people. This can help reduce the costs of hiring them, but it may be hard to collaborate as you’ll work in different time zones. Either way, make sure you have new people on board to give you expert advice in these new international markets. It will help you put together different marketing strategies for each country, guaranteeing your success.
Deliver Your New Marketing Strategies
The keyword here is strategies rather than strategy. When you’re targeting a national market, you tend to have one strategy that’s aimed at your target audience there. Now, while you may have the same target audience in a different country, your strategy could differ depending on the country. This is all to do with the culture of certain countries and how one approach for one place might not work for another. In the previous two steps you should establish the right strategies for your international markets, and now you need to deliver them. Start rolling out marketing and promotional material in these different places and build up brand recognition. You want people to recognize a new brand emerging, but you also need to play on your previous success. Don’t make it seem like you’re a brand new company, let people know you’re already established and successful in a different country. This will immediately give you a good reputation and inspire consumer confidence.
A huge part of delivering your new strategies is getting your website ready for different countries. You will have to completely translate your site into different languages, and make it accessible for people in different regions. This is such a simple step, and you’ll be amazed at how many businesses try and go global without making their website international.
Open Multiple Headquarters
You’ll quickly realize that running a global business is hard to do from one location. There are loads of reasons for this, mainly, it’s hard to stay in touch with global markets from one single place. As such, you will find things much easier if you open multiple headquarters all over the globe. Ideally, you want an office in every country you’re selling in. This works as a base for that country, and you can establish a team there to oversee everything and ensure it’s all working well. It also provides you with an office location that people can visit if they need to. Other companies can come to your headquarters if they want to work with you. It’s likely there may be foreign brands keen to form a partnership with you in foreign territories. Having headquarters in their country makes it easier to communicate with them. Plus, you’re not working on any time delays or worrying about time zones; it’s much easier for you.
I’d also add into this the importance of having customer service channels in different countries too. Consumers hate calling up a customer service number and being greeted with a foreign voice on a poor phone connection. It’s so much better for everyone if you can offer local customer service. This doesn’t mean you need to put together a customer service team in your multiple headquarters. No doubt there will be loads of places you can outsource to in these foreign territories.
Take It Slow
Finally, it’s important that you take all of this slow and build up to it. The best method for success is to establish yourself locally as a small business and grow bigger nationally. Then, slowly expand your reach into different countries. But, don’t go for loads all at once, try and expand into one country, then another, and another. This slow progression helps you stay in control of everything. You can establish yourself in one country and make a lot of money that can be invested in another foreign market. If you try and deliver your products/services to loads of different markets all at once, then it will be very hard to stay on top of things. Take it slow, be patient, and don’t force success out of your business.
Hopefully, these tips can help you put together a plan for expanding your business across the globe. If you do everything correctly, you will see the benefits mentioned at the start of this piece. Global expansion is a natural progression for most businesses. Experts that have worked in the business industry for years will tell you that progression is the key to success. Don’t stay in one place; grow bigger and better!
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption, the President of Extra Pro Services and the President and creator of PETiO DOOR INC. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Gonzaga University and an M.B.A. from Boise State University (yes that blue field). His goal in life is to look out for the regular guy and bring as much knowledge and change to this world as he can. His purpose in founding zenruption was to do just that and help craft the world he wants his daughter to inherit. Please feel free to email him any feedback or article ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter or Facebook.
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by Lina Martinez
When working in the realm of law, new cases are the foundation of all success. Without them, you cannot possibly accomplish major success as a business. Therefore, knowing how to attract clients should be one of the very first items on your agenda.
Choosing a legal representative is a major decision for all potential clients. They are quite literally putting the future of their business or personal finances in your hands. This is not a choice that will be taken lightly, which is why your firm must do everything it can to win the contract. Knowing exactly what clients want can help influence the manner in which you present your business. Here are the key elements of focus.
Clients know that all legal attorneys have spent years getting their qualifications. So, while education is a vital aspect of your development, it will only go a small way to gaining their trust. Most potential customers aren’t too fussed about your overall legal understanding anyway. In truth, it’s your knowledge of the specific field that truly helps your firm stand out from the crowd.
Once upon a time, most attorneys covered a wide spectrum of areas. However, the increased volume of cases in all fields enables legal representatives to narrow their area of expertise. Choosing something like personal injuries or automotive accidents may potentially reduce the number of people that show an interest. Still, if those sacrifices bring increased conversion rates and fewer wasted opportunities, it has to be a step in the right direction.
Positive Personal Appearances
As a lawyer, you will be tasked with representing your clients in the courtrooms. Unfortunately, nobody is going to trust you to take care of their future if you can’t even look after yourself. First impressions count for everything in all business transactions, and this is certainly true in the field of legal representation. Therefore, you cannot overlook the need to invest in this aspect.
Whether you like or not, attractive people emit a friendlier vibe. This is why staying fit and using a good beauty/grooming routine can work wonders. Aside from the standard practices, keeping your nails looking great can make a subconscious impact. Meanwhile, a well-tailored outfit generates connotations of success as well as attention to detail. Apart from anything else, looking good will make you more confident. This in itself can be hugely influential in all legal activities.
A Great Online Presence
Consumerism has changed massively in recent years, and the internet is at the heart of those evolutions. Even when it comes to something as important as finding an attorney, most people begin their research via online interactions. Law firm websites that work well will tell clients all about the firm and its reputation. Moreover, they achieve this with a professional and inspiring design.
The company website will always be the most important element, but it should be supported with strong SEO strategies. This ensures that potential customers will find your firm when they search Google for local firms. A strong social media game, combined with positive reviews on external platforms, will complete the task. When your online appearances are in good health, it instantly boosts your hopes with each interested visitor. In turn, it should help you beat rivals to the deal.
Visiting the firm’s office is a big moment for any prospective client. In most circumstances, they will leave this meeting with a very strong gut feeling as to whether your business is the right one to represent their case. A good impression here is the factor that will often get them to sign. It’s a harsh reality, but the location can count for a lot, even if it means going a little smaller than you’d like.
The interior design choices are crucial, and you want to create a professional and luxurious vibe. Safety and good organization are also very important features to remember. Otherwise, the whole business is struggling to maintain control. Celebrating accolades and awards can be useful while you should show a team atmosphere too. Finally, a water cooler and coffee machine can help future clients relax within this scary setting.
Clients rightly have many demands as they look to gain the best representation. However, none of the other factors will count for much without great communication. After all, people need to know exactly where they stand at every step of the legal battle. Even if you’re not available, a receptionist should be able to provide some comfort. The fear of not knowing is the worst thing for anyone.
That transparency doesn’t only keep clients happy. It actually means that there will be less hassle for you. In turn, this should enable you to take on more cases simultaneously without reducing your production. For plaintiffs and defendants, this counts for everything. Get it right, and you won’t just win more clients now. You’ll additionally gain the reputation needed to keep winning an increased number of cases over time. What more could any lawyer or attorney ask for?
Lina Martinez has her B.S. in Journalism and a regular contributor to our Politics, Life and Money sections. She once admitted over drinks to singing “Careless Whisper” in the shower. We are still trying to get her to sing it at karaoke.