From the category archives:

Managing Money

It is hard enough to even get a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan with bad credit, let alone decent interest rates, but what if your monthly bills are now affected.  With risk-based pricing, companies such as your mobile phone, internet, cable, or even insurance are using your credit report to decide which terms they will offer.  You might be wondering how they are able to do this, but as long as you are informed, probably somewhere in the small print of your contract, it is completely legal.  If you find yourself in a risk-based pricing model, and you have bad credit, you need to now find a way to improve to get better pricing.

Check Your Credit

If you receive notice that the less favorable terms you received are based on negative information from your credit, the first way to see how your credit is affecting you is to pull your credit report.  Every year you are entitled to a free copy of your report from the major credit bureaus where you have the right to dispute any errors that you notice.  Credit scores are not given on these reports, however, but now most of the major credit card companies are offering your free credit score just by logging on to view your statement.

Have a Plan of Attack

Once you verify that your poor credit is accurate and you face the facts, the next step is to improve it.  This does not happen overnight, it takes months and years to have a solid score.  Start by making sure that all of your monthly payments are made on time and have a solid payment history.  Do not open up a lot of new credit as each pull will lower your score.  Pay down the accounts with the highest interest first so that each monthly payment will go towards less interest eventually.

Stay Disciplined

A monthly budget is the best way to reduce unnecessary spending habits so that more money comes in each month than goes out, therefore reducing the debt that can pile up each month.  Using debit cards instead of credit cards will allow you to only spend what you have, instead of the seemingly endless amount of credit available to keep spending on.  It is not easy, it does not happen overnight, it takes planning and discipline, but if you are dedicated on improving your credit, you will see results.


Assuming you can stay disciplined and not carry a burden of credit card debt and pay high amounts of interest, using a credit card has many advantages of using cash/debit card.  Whether you enjoy the rewards, having one bill to pay each month, credit cards can get a bad reputation, but they are definitely not all bad.

Rewards are Free Money

Using credit for all monthly bills such as utilities, phone, cable, as well as expenses such as grocery, gas, and entertainment can help to add up your rewards, however monthly payments such as mortgages or car loans usually cannot be paid with a credit card, only through bank accounts.  Cards can offer rewards from 1-3% cashback on purchases, or accumulate a point balance that can be redeemed for gift cards.  The always popular airline miles card still exist, even offering free checked baggage as well, which could bring savings up to $35 each way.

Almost Too Many to List

Sometimes the benefits of using credit cards do not come in the form of money, still getting more in return than what cash/debit cards can provide.  Sometimes making large household purchases such as appliances with credit cards can add extended warranties.  Credit cards offer purchase protection, which can get credited to your account if there are any fraudulent purchases.  Some cards offer programs that if there are price drops of an item purchased within a certain time you can receive the difference in price change.  Even using a credit card to check into a hotel or rent a car can be a lot easier on the bank account, as using a debit card can tie up holds on the account for up to a week until it is cleared with the bank.  If you are traveling to another country, your credit card is widely accepted and as long as you give them a heads up, should not have any trouble making purchases.

Stay on Track

While ditching cash for credit cards has its benefits, it could be easy to sink into debt if only using plastic.  With high credit available, going on endless shopping sprees could be tempting, but it is very important to spend within your limits and have a budget.  It takes discipline, but in order to not rack up credit card debt and pay high amounts of interest every month, barely chipping away at the balance, you have to spend responsible.  Pay attention to your budget, remove any unnecessary spending, and contribute as much as you can to your savings accounts.


Now that the Halloween parties are over and then decorations are put away, pretty soon it will be Christmas, New Years, and then tax time.  Getting a hefty tax return can pay for a nice vacation away, complete home renovations, while owing can start off a new year behind, wiping out any extra in the savings account.  While it is important to plan for your return, it is what we do on a day to day basis that sets you up for the entire year, staying ahead or behind.

Stay out of the Red

In business, companies are often a success on whether they are in the black, profitable, or in the red, owing, on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.  Same goes for the average person.  If you have more money going out in spending than coming in with your income, each month you sink deeper and deeper into debt.  The best way to avoid unnecessary spending is to create a monthly budget.  With that you can see incomes coming in, expenses/bills, spending habits, and start to watch the progress you can make to have more money coming in than going out.

Paper or Plastic

Credit card abuse is one if the easiest ways to sink into debt that can add up each month.  Since it is not actual money and cards have high credit limits, there is virtually no reason to stop spending each month without discipline and a plan.  You need to be able to set limits for yourself on how much you can spend each month that you will be able to pay off the full statement balance by the time it is due, otherwise you could be paying upwards of 15% interest.  What you cannot pay off will be carried over to the next month, and pretty soon you could have thousands in debt that will never be paid off.

Neglecting Savings

It is hard enough making sure that money coming in is more than coming out, credit cards are under control, and are not carrying debt, but what about savings.  You need to contribute to savings so that you will have a cushion for emergencies such as job loss, a broken appliance, or unexpected medical bills.  Once you are in the black, so to speak, each month, you will need set automatic deposits to savings, start small and build up from there, so that savings will add up over the course of the year.  It is not easy, but you will thank yourself down the road.



Often, the first thing most homeowners do after moving into a new property is start thinking about remodelling. One of the joys of purchasing a property is being able to decorate it to your taste, and most interior designers agree that a person’s home should be an extension of their personality. However, remodelling your home is about more than just picking out counter tops. Remodelling requires a carefully thought out budget that will ensure you get the best return on your investment and protect you from financial ruin. If you are planning to remodel part of your home in the near future, then the following guide will help you decide how much to spend.

Only Remodel When Necessary

Remodelling an entire kitchen just because you hate the previous owner’s choice of lime green cabinets and canary yellow worktops may be tempting, but it will not increase the value of your home should you decide to sell. Kitchens should only ever be completely remodelled if they are extremely old or poorly constructed and not just to improve their overall look. Start by choosing the parts of your home that are most in need of remodelling and slowly work your way around the rest of the property.

Be Realistic About Your Remodelling Requirements

One of the main problems interior designers face is matching a client’s expectations to their budget. Remodelling is an expensive process, and homeowners often fail to factor in all of the costs when choosing their new kitchen. As well as purchasing new fixtures and fittings, you will need to pay labour costs for your old kitchen to be ripped out and disposed of and for any water or electrical connections that have to be rerouted.  Therefore, it is wise to let your designer or construction company know your budget restraints upfront so they can advise you on exactly how much the work will cost.

Plan For Contingencies

Jeffrey Veffer, owner of Incite Design, advises clients to subtract 20% of their budget and set it aside for any unplanned expenses that may crop up along the way. Remodelling projects often go way over budget even if homeowners think they have planned for everything beforehand. During the remodelling process you may discover a crack in the foundation of your home or a leaky pipe that needs to be taken care of before the work can continue. If you set a small amount of your initial budget aside for any problems, then you will hopefully stay within budget even if something goes wrong. Remodelling projects that start to spiral out of control once the work begins should be halted while you reconsider your options. Never be afraid to postpone remodelling work for the future if you simply don’t have the funds available.

Always Consider Return On Investment

According to Remodeling Magazine, the only home improvement that offers a 100% return on investment is the addition of a reinforced, steel entry door. Projects such as kitchen and bathroom remodelling or attic renovation rarely add much value to a house and should never be carried out in an effort to entice potential buyers. Even if you are not planning to move house in the near future, it is still wise to think about how much value your renovations will add to your home. Potential buyers often look for the same features when viewing homes such as a modern kitchen, en-suite bathroom or landscaped garden. For an idea of what sort of features will make your home more attractive to buyers, you can check out some of the properties at If you are planning to remodel your home in order to sell it, then be sure to stick to neutral décor throughout. Even though you might be a fan of bright colours and clashing prints, it could be enough to scare away any potential buyers.

If you wish to remodel part of your home but do not have several thousand pounds available to splurge, then there are a number of finance options that can help you manage the cost of remodelling. Home equity loans are a popular choice for those wishing to pay for expensive remodelling projects, or you could even consider taking out a second mortgage. If you do not feel comfortable using your home as security against a loan, then you may want to consider a contractor loan or talk to local lenders such as banks and building societies.

Oliver Corrigan is a budget-planner in his work and likes to apply his skills to managing the family finances. He also enjoys sharing his insights on balancing the books with an online audience and writes for a number of personal finance websites.


Saving money on car insurance is far easier said than done. After spending endless hours comparing quotes from multiple companies, attempting to find the picture-perfect policy can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. But before you settle on a company or policy, you should know that there are just some things that your insurance company won’t tell you.

Many of these things can cause you to spend more in the long-run, regardless of how low your premium may be. Here are a few lesser-known facts about car insurance that can impact how much you pay each month.

Paid-in-full Discounts

Paying all of your insurance costs up-front may seem daunting at first, but it can certainly save you money in the long-run. Most insurance companies offer sizeable discounts to customers willing to pay the full cost up front. Drivers can typically opt out of the monthly installment plan, and pay either the 6 or 12 month cost at one time. For more information regarding this option, it is best to speak directly with an agent.

Personal Item Reimbursement

The majority of people understand that damage to your vehicle after a collision or break-in is covered by insurance, but your personal belongings are not. Even the most encompassing policy does not reimburse you for stolen items. This is why it is important to never leave expensive items such as laptops, cell phones, and other valuables in the car. Having to deal with the emotional pain of a break-in is bad enough without having to deal with the financial aftermath. Insuring your more expensive possessions is a great way to prevent this from happening to you.

Pet Injuries

Car insurance always covers medical expenses for the driver and passengers after an accident, but it doesn’t cover expenses for your pets. If you frequently transport your pets in your personal vehicle, this is definitely something worth thinking about. Veterinarian bills for serious injuries can easily cost upwards into the thousands, and some drivers may be expecting their insurance company to chip in. Be sure to take a closer look at your insurance policy, since more comprehensive policies may offer reimbursement for injuries up to $1,000.

Taxes and Other Costs

No one enjoys paying tax and registration fees, but in the event that your car is totaled, many companies offering car insurance in Charleston may be willing to reimburse you. While doing this is a legal requirement in some states, it is not in others. This means that it is your responsibility to extensively research your policy and local laws before signing up. Even if your state does requires tax and registration reimbursement, some companies may not be required to do this if the other-party’s company reimburses you first.

Examine Your Policy Closely

Yes, there are many intricacies regarding insurance companies and policies, but many of them can be highly beneficial to drivers. Having a complete understanding of your policy and what it covers is one of the best ways to find out about these unspoken rules. You should also remember that these “rules” vary from company to company, and from state to state. By doing your homework, you can use these little-known facts to save you money and get the most out of your policy.


It’s a well-known fact that the money spent on food can take a detrimental bite out of anyone’s budget. Whether you’re cooking or dining out, use these tips, tricks, and sources to save big on feeding the whole family.

Your budget.

This one is obvious. Take the time to calculate your income, factor in necessary expenses, and set your specific budget for every category of your spending. To prevent the costly total of all those little extras that we toss in our cart at the market, take only an allotted amount of cash to the grocery store. (The cash method works wonders for any area of spending!)

Cut those coupons!

The revolution of coupon-cutters has left wallets thicker and consumers a tiny bit obsessive. You don’t need to approach coupons with a do-or-die mindset, but taking a few minutes each day to search the paper – and the internet – for savings is a wise investment of time. Just as all of those cheap grocery additions add up, so do the small amounts saved with every coupon used.

Download the apps.

There are plenty of apps designed to save you money when grocery shopping. Check out Ibotta, an app that offers small rebates on specific items and reimburses you within 48 hours of submitting your receipt. Though these rebates start small, they have the potential to add up!

Buy bulk.

It’s no secret that buying your food in bulk quantities can save you money and time. This method works best if you’re working on a monthly budget, but it can also benefit those who draft a plan to last two weeks instead of four. Sign up for a monthly membership with your local bulk supplier, or purchase a one day pass if your trips are infrequent. Groupon, which is a free service, offers discounted day passes that can be used for such suppliers!

Eat everything.

Is your pantry stocked with rice, soup, and other foods when you set off to the grocery store? Instead of spending more money on extra food, make a point to use every ingredient you have before buying more!

When dining out.

It’s perfectly alright to reward your penny-pinching labor with a meal that you didn’t have to cook yourself! Treating the family to dinner doesn’t have to put a strain on your budget, especially with Groupon’s latest development, Groupon Pages. This money-saving tool is a directory of dozens of restaurants in your local area that offers mouth-watering discount codes that you present to the server like you would a gift card! Check out this page for Chicago’s beloved Pizano’s Pizza, which offers deals for takeout, delivery, and dining in!


No matter your budget or the number of people you’re feeding, there are so many ways to save without cutting taste out of the mix. By following these simple guidelines, you can cut your spending on food and put the extra money to good use in other areas of your finance plan!

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Starting a new business is exciting. Your new business can allow you to pursue your passion, or fill a customer need in the marketplace. The costs required to start a business, however, can be huge. Use these tips to start your business and stay on a budget.

Keeping your costs down

Your business plan will include a budget for all of the important costs you’ll incur. Some costs are unavoidable. Here are some strategies are keep your costs to a minimum:

· Website: Nearly all companies need an attractive website for their business. Many of your prospects will want to visit your site before they decide to do business with you. WordPress allows you to create a professional-looking website without any programming knowledge. The publishing platform offers hundreds of themes. You can choose a theme that fits the image you want for your business.

· Tech security: Your company may do a great deal of business online. For example, a firm might take customer orders and payments using ecommerce. Many businesses need security software, spam blockers and data security for all of their online activity. Protecting your companies confidential information is a must, and can be extremely costly if the data becomes compromised.

· Payroll: Processing payroll and reporting wage information can also be expensive and time-consuming. Consider using a payroll processing company, such as ADP, to handle your payroll. These firms can calculate tax and benefit withholdings, pay your workers and handle all tax reporting. You may find that their costs are much lower than investing the time to process payroll yourself.

Reasons to start a business

Launching a business requires a huge commitment of time and money. Before you dive in, you need to be clear about why you are making this decision. Here are some popular reasons for starting a business:

·  Your passion: The new business allows you to pursue a passion. Some people take a hobby that they are passionate about and turn it into a business. Maybe you make wood furniture as a hobby, for example. People see your furniture and start buying pieces from you. Before you know it, you have enough interest to make wood furniture full-time.

·  Filling a need in the market: Ann Wilkinson is writer who interviewed dozens of successful entrepreneurs. One characteristic they shared was the ability to find a market that is not being served- or is underserved. This strategy helps you find customers quickly. An underserved market is a good reason to start a business.

·  You have expertise to offer: explains that positioning yourself as an expert is a great way to draw people to your business. An expert can attract people, based on the problems they solve for customers. This approach can be much easier than trying to “chase” business using other marketing efforts. If you have expertise in an area, you might succeed in an expert-driven business.

Each of these reasons can be a justification for launching a new business.

Writing a business plan

All business owners should write a detailed business plan. This is a critical step. It forces the owner to think through all of the important issues that impact the new business.

Fortunately, you can find great software for business plans. This software provides a template with all of the components of a comprehensive business plan. If you use software, you should cover most of your bases.

Consider these strategies to start your new business and stay within a budget.


When you’re trying to manage your money wisely, there are some things that you should never forget to do. Well-known practices include making a budget and setting aside savings—but one of the single most important things you can do to protect yourself is purchase a quality insurance plan.

Protecting Yourself

If you’re trying to cut back on unnecessary expenses, insurance might at first seem like something you could do without. After all, you’re paying each month for something with no immediate benefits. Expert financial advisors agree, though, that having insurance is absolutely crucial.

Disasters can happen to anyone, whether they are car crashes, lawsuits, or even crimes. When problems come, replacing or repairing your belongs on your own or paying other expenses can leave you financially ruined. Insurance is necessary to get through the tough times, and when trouble strikes you’ll be glad you have it. A solid insurance policy isn’t a useless expense—it’s an investment to protect your in emergencies.

Legal Requirements

Insurance isn’t just a good idea, either. While it makes a lot of financial sense to get some basic coverage, in some cases getting insured is required by law. This is especially the case when it comes to car ownership. Although requirements differ from state to state, you must have a vehicle insurance plan if you want to drive. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is also required nationwide; most businesses are also subject to commercial insurance requirements.

Your Needs

While you need to make room in your budget for insurance, though, you don’t want to pay too much. The trick is finding the right balance between sufficient coverage and low cost. According to Duke University, here are some of the top tips for figuring out how much insurance you need:

  • First, identify your exposures. Figure out what the most valuable items you own are, and what risks they face. Also, determine what changes would occur in your finances if you became incapacitated and could not work.
  • Next, evaluate the likelihood of these events occurring. If you live in an extremely dry area, then you might not need a generous flood insurance plan. But if you have a motorcycle that you ride often, you’ll probably want to get insurance for your bike in case of a crash.
  • Identify the costs that will result from these disasters. Could you handle them on your own, using your savings or available cash? Or would you need insurance to help pay for everything?
  • You may also wish to consult a broker or other insurance Nationwide has a number of agents who can help you determine what types of plans are best for you.

Carrier Options

Finding a good provider is one of the most important things you can do when seeking insurance. The right carrier should be able to create a specialized plan that ensures you’re protected without making you pay for policies you don’t need. Plus, finding the right provider can also help protect your budget and keep costs low. Good insurance is an essential part of any personal finance plan.

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The following post is brought to you by Ben Alderson


As 2015 winds down you may start to think about 2016 and a better way to focus on finances.  You do not have to wait for January 1st to act.  If you start now, you could save when it comes to April taxes, a greater contribution to retirement accounts, or even pay down that debt that has been staring you in the face this year.  You could start your plan now and start 2016 ahead of the game.

Take a Look at Your Portfolio

I find myself guilty of this and just read the bottom line percentage increase on the quarterly statement but experts suggest that this is the time of year to take a look at your investments and see where each are performing and rebalance your portfolio, especially with the stock market being as volatile as it has recently.  Rebalancing is the process of buying and selling portions of your portfolio in order to set the weight of each asset class back to its original state as you can find by the end of year that each asset class in your portfolio has changed due to earning a different return.  Rebalancing allows the chance to minimalize and keep risk in check.

Max Out Retirement Accounts

With the option of contributing to 401k up to $18,000 if under 50 years old, $24,000 if you are over, there is still a couple more months of paychecks coming before the end of the year to contribute more to increase savings rate.  Another option is contributing to a Roth IRA which you can contribute up to $5,500 a year, or $6,500 if over 50 years old.  The great pro about a Roth IRA is that the money grows tax-free, and as long as it has been there for at least five years, will not have to pay taxes when you start to take out in retirement.

Take a Look at Credit Reports

With a free copy of your credit report available to you every 12 months from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  It is not a secret what is on your report, so make sure it is accurate.  The free credit report does not come with a credit score, however, with credit card monthly statements now showing your credit score, you will be able to now know your detailed report and score prior to any large expenses, or even just for peace of mind.

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About Ben Alderson
Ben Alderson heads up the business operations of the deVere Group for North America and it is his goal to offer only the most talented individuals a unique and rewarding career opportunity in financial services, to give best advice to both US / Canadian nationals and expatriates working in the US / Canada today.

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After a tumultuous 2014, Wonga is back with a new ‘responsible and transparent’ approach to lending. The UK’s leading short-term lender went back to the drawing board towards the latter part of last year to overhaul its offering. It has since undergone an extensive rebranding exercise and has revamped its loans in line with new rules imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The result is a new Wonga that’s ready to make waves in a new look lending sector.

Wonga’s mission to repair its damaged reputation began with the appointment of a new creative agency. Albion was the incumbent advertising agency on the account, but after four years working with Wonga and creating the now infamous ‘Wongies’ – the geriatric puppets that featured in many of Wonga’s advertising campaigns – it declined the chance to re-pitch for the advertising account.

Instead, the powers that be at Wonga turned to the agency Fold7, which was appointed after a creative pitch that also involved leading names such as Saatchi & Saatchi, The Corner, and VCCP.

‘Credit for the real world’

Wonga’s new advertising campaign, ‘credit for the real world’, will run on television, print, radio and online, and has been developed to appeal to ‘typical’ Wonga customers who are in need of a responsible source of short-term credit.

The ‘Wongies’ have been firmly banished to the annals of television advertising past, as a more down to earth campaign heralds a new approach for the lender. Wonga had previously come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after suggestions were made that the use of puppets could appeal to children.

Commenting on the changes at the lender, Tara Kneafsey, Wonga’s UK chief executive, said: “Our new product features and today’s marketing re-launch are further proof of the action we’ve taken, and continue to take, to ensure Wonga is lending responsibly and putting customer outcomes first.

“We’re re-presenting our short-term loans to the public in a way that accesses the right type of customer and reduces the risk of inadvertently attracting the very young or vulnerable.”

Serving hard working people

Wonga’s focus in the new era of tough regulations imposed by the FCA, has been placed firmly on serving hard working people who need access to short-term credit products to help them meet essential and unexpected costs.

Wonga is now committed to only lending amounts that borrowers can afford to repay. It also follows the Good Practice Customer Charter, and offers three days grace before applying a £15 fee for late payments payments.

Welcoming the overhaul, Tara Kneafsey said: “We’re determined to put customers at the heart of everything we do, which is demonstrated by the new features we’re implementing, a number of which go beyond regulatory requirements.”

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