Money Saving Tips While on Vacation

I love to travel and it’s important to me to spend my hard earned money on experience and memories that will last a life time, rather than materialistic goods.  Every paycheck we save money specifically for vacations and at least two to three times a year we take a trip.  We build vacation funds into our budget therefore there is nothing extra coming out of our savings account or typical spending money each check.  Over the past ten years I have learned some great money saving tips while on vacation I think could benefit others.  Below are some of my favorite tips I have collected during my travels.

When planning for a vacation, spending money is very important to budget out prior to your adventure. Don’t just start swiping the credit card for fancy cocktails and over the top souvenirs just because you’re on vacation.  I learned that I should plan about 70% of my trip actives and meals ideas prior to the vacation, thus I will have a good idea of how much I will be spending.  For example, if you are going on a cruise, research all the off shore excursion prior to leaving home.  You can for them on the ship or before leave, but at least you know how much you will be spending.  Always look for travel deals like two tours for the price of one, and the bucket of beer promotions rather than the cup refill discounts.

If you prefer a more of a low key vacation with the family and are planning to drive, budget out gas and hotels stops/stays if necessary.  For a long road tip see if it is actually worth it to drive over fly and remember speeding tickets can cost you hundreds of dollars too!  Don’t make the same mistake I did driving from Michigan to Florida and getting a $375 speeding ticket in Georgia, because obviously flying would have been much cheaper.  When packing for your road tip put together a cooler with water and soda, make sandwiches, bring yogurts and bags of chips and snacks.  This will keep your family eating healthy, save you money from having to buy overpriced fast food, and you can use the cooler in your hotel room once you arrive at your destination for water and beer.

The best part of saving money while on vacation is allowing you to save and invest that money for future vacations! Set a vacation budget, and then work to come in under that budget. Then take that difference and make smart and wise investments. Check out Banc De Binary when it comes to investing in binary options and such.

Basically, if you pre-plan your trip, then it’s very easy to save money while on vacation.

The Top 2 Tips for New Stock Market Investors

If you just decided to start investing in the stock market, you‘ve hopefully done a lot of research and homework in order to make sure that you have at least a little bit of an idea about what you’re doing. That being said, the 2 Tips that we have for you today are absolutely vital for any new stock investor. Know these well, and follow them, and your chances of success will be much higher. Enjoy.

The 1st rule is to never, under any circumstances, invest money that you will need soon. If there’s one absolute fact about the stock market, it’s that it has no guarantees. An investment that might look absolutely perfect on paper might, in real life, be a complete bust. For this reason you must always consider that you could lose every dime that you put into the stock market, and take into account what this could do to you financially if it were to happen.

Although there is inherent risk when investing in stocks, there are ways to minimize major losses and one of those is to never use money that you’re going to need some time in the near future. Here’s an excellent example that will illustrate rule #1 quite well: Approximately 2 years ago Chipotle (CMG) was priced at around $400 a share but, shortly thereafter, short sellers crashed it to $250 a share. Today however Chipotle is back over $500 a share even though, throughout the entire time, they didn’t change a thing. As with many companies, their stock simply grew as it had been doing all along and is still doing today.

If you would have purchased those shares when they were at 400 and held onto them until today, your profits would be quite nice and still be growing. However, if you would’ve purchased when the shares were at $400 but then, because you needed your money, were forced to sell when they were at $250, you would have lost a huge amount of money.

The 2nd rule is to use limit orders when buying and selling your stock. You probably should already know that, when purchasing any stocks, you have either the option to buy via a “market” order or using a “limit” order. When you use a Market order the current going rate for the stock is the price you will pay. Using a Limit order lets you set your price for the highest amount of money you are willing to pay for a stock as well as the lowest price at which you will sell it.

The problem with using a Market order is that you are at risk to the impulses of the stock market, and they can be big ones. The fact is, even on a daily basis stocks can go up and down a few percentage points and, if you put in a Market order at the wrong time, there’s a possibility that you’ll get caught at the high end of the average value of a stock that you purchase. Conversely, you might end up at the low end of the variance that day when you sell.

If you use a Limit order however, you protect yourself from these market fluctuations much better. By letting you set the maximum price that you’re willing to pay for a stock, a Limit order allows you to take advantage of stock prices that are under or over the current market price, depending on whether you are purchasing or selling. This can allow you to gain valuable extra profits.

There are, to be sure, a lot of other excellent rules that you should know and follow when investing in the stock market. Make sure to come back and join us here in the future because we’re going to be bringing you those rules as well.

Over 70% of Employees Missing Out on Pretax Dollars for Medical Expenses

In 2013 fewer Americans than ever put pretax dollars a way to cover future medical expenses but changes in 2014 will make these flexible spending accounts bit more attractive. These new changes will actually give taxpayers a bit of extra time to use their money.

Only 22% of eligible employees used the available flexible spending accounts that large companies were giving, meaning that they missed out on these tax-deferred plans that would have let them set aside up to $2500 to cover any out-of-pocket medical expenses that they might’ve had.  While it’s only a slight dip from 2012 (23%) it still means that over 75% of eligible employees aren’t taking advantage of this excellent program. The reason isn’t that large employers have cut back because they haven’t, it’s just that people aren’t aware of the extra money that these plans would give them or are confused about how they can use this money.

In fact, the low number of people taking it vantage of these plants is due to the fear that they would lose their cash if for some reason they miscalculated their medical expenses. That’s why the fix that was just announced for next year should be helpful because it will more than likely make these people more comfortable with using the plan. The fix, announced by the Treasury Department in October, will allow taxpayers to carry over up to $500 of their plan’s balance into the next year. This puts an end to the “use it or lose it” restrictions that have been in effect for over 30 years, restrictions that meant a person would forfeit their remaining balance if they didn’t use it.

The reason for the change is that, since the Affordable Care Act capped FSA contributions at $2500 (down from $5000), the strict use it or lose it rules became less necessary. It’s expected that low to middle income families will find the plan more appealing in 2014 because it will give them more time to use their money. It will  more than likely also reduce the unnecessary need for year-end spending that most taxpayers perform because they worried about losing their cash.

It was a valid fear, to be sure. The fact is that nearly one in four FSA participants was actually forfeiting their money come  year end, even though some companies were actually giving their employees a 2 ½ month grace period. According to the new treasury rules these companies will, in the future, be allowed to either give the grace period or the carryover but not both. It’s been reported that some companies are actually letting workers take advantage of the carry-over option this year as well.

Of course what that means is that all employees should definitely check with their employer to find out if they will be able to carry over any unused funds into next year starting this year. Since many companies already require their employees to decide this year how much they want to contribute next year it’s believed that many more people will opt to contribute at least up to $500 because they know that they will have a few years to use the funds on medical expenses like copayments, prescriptions and deductibles.

Employees who contribute the maximum of $2500 and are in the 25% tax bracket could actually save themselves over $600 on taxes while people who contribute $500 could save $125. In either case, the new rules will make it much easier for people to take advantage of this program without fear that they’ll lose any money.

Colocation Hosting: What is it and do I need it?

It may sound like a mouthful, but colocation hosting is a phrase you’ll probably hear more often in the coming years. It’s essentially a place for storing all of your bulky hardware, servers and networking equipment, off-site in a secure facility.

It’s a great solution for mid-size companies, and those who don’t have the space to store an ever-growing supply of servers and IT equipment.

It takes away the hassle of having to pay to run everything on site, and what’s more, colocation hosting is purpose-built, meaning your equipment will be safely protected, backed-up and stored in specially designed cabinets.

 

What’s the benefits of using colocation storage?

Everything is kept off-site, which means that should anything go wrong in your office, you’ll still be able to access all of your information off-site.

It’s also more secure, with CCTV, manned security and other systems in place to keep the building and your data safe. Plus, some hosts offer fire protection and temperature controls to ensure your systems aren’t destroyed by any changes in the climate.

 

Surely there’s downsides too?

Investing in a colocation host doesn’t mean that your network and servers can simply be forgotten about. It’s simply a secure place to store everything off-site and as such, if you need to upgrade, maintain or repair any of your equipment it comes down to you to do so.

That said, if you have a devoted IT team then this shouldn’t be a problem – it simply means that they will have to travel to the colocation site should they need to amend anything.

 

How do I get colocation hosting?

You should be mindful to choose a company that has centres situated within easy access to your company’s location, simply because it makes it easier to maintain your hardware.

There are a number of costs associated with colocation hosting too, so depending on what you need this is something you’ll need to weigh up. Costs will usually cover rental of the floor space, power fees and a fee for how much data you use. Additional costs such as the maintenance of the firewall and backup costs will also need to be considered too.

Insurance Considerations for Business Owners

With so many different facets of your business to think about, the last thing that you need to concern yourself with is worrying about what happens when things go wrong. No business owner, however, is immune from making mistakes or becoming the victim of circumstances beyond their own control.

With the air of uncertainty that surrounds business ownership,  it’s imperative to take out the right kind of insurance. And with insurance available for every conceivable eventuality, it can be difficult to know what types of insurance are necessary and which types are superfluous.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most important insurance considerations for business owners.

General liability insurance

General liability insurance is the foundation stone on which a properly insured business is built; it’s an absolutely essential purchase for a business owner of any size.

General liability insurance covers a vast swath of potential scenarios, but its basic premise is that it covers you if: you; those in your employ; or your products and services, cause bodily damage, or property damage to a third part claimant.

General liability insurance covers all manner of costs, including medical expenses, the cost of defending lawsuits, and court costs.

Product and professional liability insurance

If you own a company which manufactures a product, whether you then sell it directly or sell it wholesale to a retailer, you are responsible for its safety. Product liability insurance, therefore, is an important purchase, as it protects against financial loss, which results from injuries caused by a defective product.

If, however, you are running a service-based firm, it is imperative to invest in the requisite sort of professional liability insurance, which covers you against lawsuits pertaining to malpractice, human error, and negligence.

Property insurance

Property insurance covers your business for damage to your commercial property and the equipment which is contained inside, caused by fire, smoke, wind, and vandalism. While physical items, such as computers, office equipment and inventory are all covered, it is also possible to purchase property insurance which covers loss of earnings, as a result of being unable to operate as normal because of the damage.

Worker’s compensation

Worker’s compensation insurance is seen by many as an optional extra, as many of the areas that it covers have a modicum of coverage under general liability insurance.

The aspect of worker’s compensation insurance that is most attractive, however, is that it protects you, the business owner, from being sued by an employee.

Medical Claims can be an expensive and drawn-out affair, which can cause much unnecessary stress and financial strain. With worker’s compensation insurance, however, employees are guaranteed wage replacement and medical benefits, if they are injured at work, which they receive in return for giving up the right to sue their employer when an accident occurs.

If, therefore, your workers operate in a high risk environment, such as a warehouse, it may be worth considering.

Business owner’s policy

If you’re still a little confused about what types of insurance are necessary and which aren’t, as well as what each policy type covers you for, it could be worth considering purchasing a business owner’s policy (BOP).

BOP’s give you all the insurance policies that you require, but are arranged through one provider. BOP packages can also be tailored to suit your specific requirements, offering a one-stop solution to your insurance needs

5 Things to Consider When Choosing Premises for Your New Business

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or starting up a business for the first time, choosing the right premises is vital if you want the enterprise to succeed.

At the start of 2012, small and medium enterprises accounted for 99.9% of all private sector companies in the UK according to the Federation of Small Businesses. What’s more, these businesses employed 14.1 million people and had a combined turnover of £1,500 billion.

However, while the potential for success is evident, locating and purchasing the right premises is a major undertaking, so here is what to consider.

Buy or lease?

Buying commercial premises is potentially a huge expense and will need to be considered thoroughly. The services of a surveyor, estate agent, solicitor and mortgage broker may be required. The building will be considered an asset of the business and you will have complete freedom over decoration and furnishings.

When it comes to employee safety, you will be solely responsible for ensuring they work in an environment free from dangerous or hazardous materials. An asbestos claim against conditions like mesothelioma can result in substantial compensation.

Renting premises is a much cheaper and less complicated option. However the potential cost of leasing over a long period of time could be huge. Even if the business is struggling, you will need to meet regular rental payments or face the consequences.

Location

Deciding where to locate the business is largely dependent on the market and industry you operate in. Ultimately, the customer will either be prepared to come to you or the business needs to be situated in a convenient location.

A built up area such as a town centre will be suitable for a coffee shop or convenience store, as footfall and exposure is high. However, rates tend to be expensive and you will need a high volume of customers to make money.

Other ventures such as a garden centre or car showroom are better suited on the outskirts of a city. You will benefit from bigger premises, parking facilities and cheaper overheads. You will, however, have to rely on customers specifically coming to visit you.

Space

Think about furniture, how much storage is required and the number of staff members. Health and safety regulations for space could have an impact on the amount you need, so ensure you are aware of any legal requirements.

Growth

What may be an adequate amount of space now might not be enough when the business expands, so take this into consideration.

Although keeping your feet on the ground is advisable, having a bit of ambition and predicting future success could avoid a potentially strenuous relocation later on.

Fully furnished or an empty space?

If you require an office space for the short-term or are unsure of future growth, serviced locations are a great option. Although they may seem expensive, they are very convenient and you can begin trading quickly.

Obtaining a property with no furniture or fittings means you can put your individual stamp on the location, though this expense will need to be factored into your budget.

The Importance of Safety in the Workplace

There are certain health and safety issues to consider in all professions and workplaces, whether you work at a desk in an office, at a machine in a factory or at the wheel of vehicle. Nobody wants to feel in danger or at risk in everyday life, especially while earning money.

According to HSE, the national independent watchdog for work-related health and safety, just over one million people suffered from a work related illness in 2011/2012. Not only does this mean a potential loss in earnings for the individual, it has negative consequences for employers, too.

The importance of safety in the workplace is far-reaching, as is recognising the significance of creating an environment free from risk and danger.

Employee benefits

Even though keeping staff safe and protected is a standard responsibility for employers, ensuring the workplace is completely free from danger can hugely benefit personnel.

Potential employees will be more attracted to the business, job satisfaction is sure to become greater, efficiency will increase, absenteeism will decrease and staff will be reluctant to leave.

Employee safety doesn’t just apply to the potential dangers in working, as every member of staff should also feel protected against discrimination and bullying. While this may not result in physical injury, psychological damage can be just as debilitating, if not more.

Business benefits

Every boss wants their enterprise to be the most successful it can possibly be. Neglecting safety and ignoring how important this is could result in a failing business.

Losing an employee to injury or illness means losing a competent member of the workforce with a replacement being potentially difficult to come by – they’ll need training, too.

An accident at work will also increase the company’s insurance premium and any potential legal costs could spiral out of control. Instances where compensation is required include an industrial accident or simply slipping on an unsafe surface.

Reputation is also an important factor to consider. A business runs the risk of losing new and existing customers if it becomes clear that employee safety and well-being is compromised.

Health and safety policy

Having a system in place that can effectively manage health and safety will help ensure no accidents or injuries occur. Being able to plan, organise, control, monitor and review safety procedures will result in a better working environment for all parties involved.

An employer may need the assistance of a professional who is fully aware of any legal obligations. However, identifying potential hazards is one of the first things to address.

Assessing each individual risk and how often it might occur (if at all) is vital. The next stage will be implementing a workable solution that proves to the workforce that a danger has been eliminated.

Measures to control risk will need to be constantly monitored and evaluated, and this may involve training. However, health and safety law indicates benchmarks and standards that should be adhered to in any circumstance.

Top 20 things you can do to save energy all year round

A lot of people like to complain that their electric, water, gas or other energy bill is just too high.  We counter that by saying that, for the most part, those are the same people who don’’t turn off lights, wash small loads of laundry with a full load’’s worth of water and keep the heat on so high in winter that their house feel like a sauna.  But, rather than judge we put together a very simple list of some of the best tips for saving energy that we have come across.  Cheers!

  1. Turn off the lights!
  2. Turn TVs, stereos and computers completely off when not in use.
  3. If you won’’t use something for a few days or are going on vacation, unplug things that aren’’t vital.
  4. Wait until the dishwasher is full to run it.
  5. Don’’t put big furniture over or in front of heating ducts.
  6. Keep shades drawn and doors and windows closed when the AC is on.
  7. Invest in a programmable thermostat.
  8. Replace that old hot water heater.
  9. Insulate any pipes that carry hot water.
  10. Turn off the water heater if you go on vacation.
  11. Change the air filters in your heating and AC units twice a year.
  12. Make sure the insulation between the house and the attic is sufficient to keep heat loss down to a minimum
  13. Close vents in rooms that you don’’t use and their doors too.
  14. Turn the water off while you lather and wash your hair and body.
  15. Leave lights off during the day and use sunlight.
  16. Use 1 larger light bulb instead of several smaller ones.
  17. Use motion detectors on outside lights so that they aren’’t on all day.
  18. Clean and vacuum refrigerator coils occasionally.
  19. Cool off hot food before storing them in the fridge.
  20. Cook things in the oven at the same time to save gas or electric.
  21. Defrost food before you microwave it.
  22. Wash full loads of clothes and only use cold water.
  23. Clean the dryer lint filter after every use.
  24. Dry one load right after another because the machine is still hot.
  25. Don’’t waste water on the grass or washing the car.

And there you go. 25 excellent tips that you can start using today that will lower your energy bills and help save the planet a little bit too.  Come back soon and we’’ll have more.  Cheers!

 

Fraud and Your Bank Account

No matter how securely you handle your account information you can still become a victim of fraud. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are stolen each year from bank accounts through various means. As a consumer it is important to know how fraud occurs and what to do if you are a victim of fraud.

Your debit card is the number one way criminals can use to access your account, so be cautious when, where and how you use it. Many retailers have found themselves the victims of clever hackers that have used their skills to access their payment terminals and steal their customer’s information. As convenient as the debit card is learning to carry cash can actually help safe guard your account.

So what do you do if someone accesses your account with stolen debit card information? The first thing to do is to notify your bank immediately. Banking employees can quickly block debit card activity and keep any additional items from coming through. If you notice the fraud quickly enough many charges may be able to be sent back to the merchants where they were charged making for a quicker retrieval of you funds. In any case consumers need to know that they are protected by the law in cases of debit card fraud, and although you may have to fill out some time consuming paperwork your money is protected and will be returned to you.

Laws are very clear to protect the consumer and your banking institution should work with you to put back any funds that are lost to you as a result of fraud, however, it is not an overnight process and in some cases can take up to 10 business days to see your money returned to your account. The best thing the consumer can do is to take precautions before fraud happens to protect their debit card information and in turn protect their bank account as well.

Going Face to Face With Consumers

 The rise of internet and social media networks has provided companies with more opportunities to directly engage with customers. From tweeting to answering questions on live-chat, businesses have been able to interact with customers on daily basis.

Despite the increasing means of communication technology, going face to face with customers still acts as a strong strategy to produce leads, sell products and generate revenue. Companies like Cydor are still using this communication model, and company clients who follow Cydor on Twitter: @cydcor get the latest updates which includes tips on going face-to-face with consumers.

Being a face-to-face seller is possible through acquisition of some skills.

Here are some of the skills that are required;

1. Courtesy

Consumers are different. Some may be easy to handle, while others will be difficult. The salesperson needs to show courtesy all the time. If the consumer is upset due to some reason, the salesperson needs to understand the cause and convince the consumer the issue is going to be resolved as soon as possible, while informing about a satisfactory solution.

2. Listen

Listening to consumers is another important skill required for going face to face. Consumers are going to come up with queries, feedback, problems, suggestions etc. The salesperson needs to listen to varying requests, and tailor his/her response to meet specific needs in order to gain satisfied consumers.

3. Understand body language

Understanding body language of the consumers is one of the indicators of attitude and how interested they actually are in making a purchase. If the body language of the consumer is not being matched with what is being said, the salesperson should try to present a different angle. The salesperson should also be able to analyse posture and facial expressions and interpret them into different signals and gestures.

4. Knowledge about the product/service

Consumers are often looking for considerable detail about a product or service they’re looking to buy. This means the salesperson should have in-depth information about the features, the advantages the consumer can expect to receive. Knowing information about delivery times, maintenance plans and payment options is also necessary. Salespersons should keep on updating their knowledge about the products and services of their respective companies.

5. Confidence

Confidence matters a lot when going face to face with consumers. A confident sales person gives the consumer confidence to invest in the product or service. The consumer has a high chance to contact the sales person again, which gives opportunities later on.

These skills are required in order to be a face to face salesperson, generating leads and driving revenue.