Friday, July 18, 2014

Great Ways to Keep Your Finances Organized

Whether you are dealing with constant harassment from creditors, or you just need a better system for organizing your finances, you have options. Getting on top of your finances is not easy, but it can help you eliminate and prevent debt, spend and save wisely, and feel more fiscally secure.

Before you begin organizing, do a little cleanup. Consider closing any bank accounts or lines of credit that you don’t use. Having too many open accounts makes it difficult to get a clear picture of what you are spending each month.

Then go through the financial paperwork you currently have, including tax documents, outstanding bills, and receipts. Come up with a system of organization—set aside a space for paid bills, W2s, unpaid bills, credit reports, and any other specific documents you frequently receive. Start with some file folders, a file box, or letter sorter, and build from there. This may take you some time, depending on how disorganized your paperwork is, but keep at it! Having a reliable, functional system is well worth the effort.

Once you’ve created the foundation of your system, use one of these three financial services (or a combination of the three) to keep your money well-managed.

One: Budgeting


Budget structures come in all shapes and sizes and you may need to experiment for a few months to find one that fills your needs. Here are some starting places:

  • Begin collecting receipts. Put an envelope in your glove box for gas expenses and two envelopes in your wallet: one for necessities like groceries and toiletries, and one for entertainment, fast food, and other non-essentials. Write down your totals on the front of the envelopes for quick reference. After a few months, sit down and figure out your average expenses in each category.
  • Record your transactions. Invest in a pocket debit and credit register. Make a habit of writing down every transaction (including the balance in your account afterword). This is particularly helpful if you frequently overdraft your accounts or have a hard time remembering what your balance is.
  • Generate a personalized budget. Make a list of your monthly or weekly expenses (or start with an online worksheet) and set a maximum budget for each category. You can make this your starting point, or use the average amounts from your expense envelopes to figure out how much you should allot for each expenditure.

Two: Tracking Software


If you are working with multiple bank accounts and lines of credit, you may benefit from investing in a collective tracking program. Software packages like Quicken have tutorials if you don’t consider yourself particularly tech-savvy.

Web-based programs, like Mint.com, have a dashboard feature which allows you to see the balance of each of your accounts in one place, including:

  • each of your checking accounts.
  • each of your savings accounts.
  • your retirement fund.
  • your outstanding loans (such as student loans).

Even better, almost every Mint.com feature is free. This big picture view can help you track your spending and saving, avoid unnecessary debt, and better understand your overall finances. 

Three: Debt Counseling


After budgeting or using tracking software for some time, you come to the realization that you don’t know how to eliminate your outstanding debts. At this point, you may benefit from consulting with a financial management firm like Paddon & Yorke, even if you’re nowhere near bankruptcy. From Toronto to Texas, there are people struggling with debt.

Many people hear “debt counseling” and assume the phrase refers to a last-ditch effort for individuals struggling with the prospect of bankruptcy or foreclosure. Debt counseling is required in bankruptcy proceedings, but it can help you well before your situation gets so dire. Most management firms offer free or low-priced initial consultations in person, over the phone, and online. These sessions usually take less than an hour, during which a debt management professional can help you work out a budget (if you’re still having trouble), develop a strategy for combating your current debt, decide what, if any, other steps you should take.

Don’t wait to begin organizing your finances. So much of your life depends on your money being managed well—from the roof over your head to the transportation between work and home each day. It may take some time to feel like you’re in control, but don’t give up. Living debt and worry-free is well worth the effort.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roles of Accountants for Small Businesses

An accountant performs different functions in the financial operations of a business or organization. He or she may perform various administrative roles. Smaller businesses may require the help of a qualified accountant for collection, entry and presentation of financial data. He may also deal with customers, vendors, financial institutions and other third parties. Professional accountants are well trained, they are supposed to add value to your business if you are just starting out or help you save money. It is important to know the roles of an accountant before you start your small business and decide how you can hire yours. 

Managing Financial Data


Financial data in business, regardless of its size, is essential to its operations. An accountant collects and maintains data as it relates to business. He ensures that financial records are intact in compliance with the legal obligations. This information should be stored in a safe system because these will also be used in managing the business. Depending on the structure and size of an organization, the role of an accountant in managing data could include rather sophisticated duties including implementing databases and control procedures.

Analysis


Accountants may serve as analysts. This is also a reason why some opt to outsource accountants. The role of analyzing data could be crucial because it affects business operations. Thus, it has to be done in an accurate manner. In many parts of the world, hiring accountants from third party providers is already a common practice. It is done even in the small city of Glasgow in England where small to medium sized businesses are widely supported. Professional accountants in Glasgow help decide on important matters, and advise them on critical business operations. He could also analyze financial data to resolve some discrepancies and eventually make recommendations. 

Compliance


Another important role of accountants is to ensure that financial reporting obligations are met on time. This involves both internal and external reporting. Internally, businesses may require quarterly or annual reports. This is equally important to managing taxation matters. Companies choose to outsource accountants also for this purpose. They want to be sure they comply with taxes and avoid penalties. This also makes third party accountants in Glasgow and other cities in demand. 

External Affiliations


Accountants also work with other finance professionals from the government, internal auditing and other industries. They provide data to public accountants, and advice creditors, executives and even tax personnel. They work with the government to maintain records in connection with taxation and other government regulations. 

Value Addition


Every jurisdiction has a guideline which demarks which kind of businesses is exempted from audit. This is where the accountants play a vital role. They advise you on the unavoidable compliance. No matter what kind of business you are involved in, business accounts provide valuable services. An accountant can even advise you on how you should initiate one’s business, what type of business you must opt for, give assistance to execute business plans and can also help you with various tax aspects and legal bindings involved in a business. Professional accounts are furnished with book-keeping and accounting expertise.

Accountants play a vital role in every organization, which is why it is important to hire the right professional. They perform a key function that affects the business. Growth of small businesses is related to capabilities of internal finance function. Their expertise is needed to run and grow small and medium enterprises. Companies these days have the option to outsource accountants from third parties. This offers a cost-effective solution of hiring someone who can devote their time and expertise according to the needs of the client. Professionals such as accountants in Glasgow are hired to ensure all vital roles are performed.

Ways To Make It Big Without Stepping Foot In An Office

Not everyone wants to work at a nine-to-five job sitting in an office all day. Fortunately, there are other ways to succeed. You may, however, have to be willing to learn some new skills or even take a few risks. If you are open to less conventional possibilities, however, there are many ways to make it big on your own terms. Let’s look at four alternatives.

1. Earn Your Fortune in Real Estate


There are a couple of ways to make money in real estate. If you have a little money to invest or good credit, you can become a home or property flipper. This takes some research, as you want to be able to identify properties with good potential for fast turnover. If you can make improvements to the property, or can afford to have someone do this for you, you can often make a fast profit.

If you don’t have money to invest in real estate, you can become a real estate agent and earn commissions on properties you sell. It’s even possible to earn real estate commissions without becoming a professional realtor. Some people make money by “bird dogging” for real estate agents. This is where you identify properties with good potential and tell the realtor about them. You then earn commissions when the properties are sold.

2. Become a Consultant


Consultants can earn a good living and often travel all over the world. This is a good choice for someone with expertise in a field with high demand, such as helping businesses become more profitable. Many consultants specialize in certain areas such as finance, education, entertainment or technology. Consulting is a good business for people who want to live an independent lifestyle and set their own prices. You do, however, have to be good at networking and marketing yourself.

3. Become a Professional Gambler


While gambling is usually thought of as games of chance, there are people who master certain games and make a good living from them. Poker players are the best known examples of this. There are also, however, people who become skilled at casino games such as blackjack, craps or roulette.

If you want to become a professional gambler, you will need a lot of discipline. You’ll have to master your game of choice and find an effective strategy. This is a good choice for people who like the glamor of casinos. You can, for example, find an attractive setting such as Viejas and make it your workplace.

4. Start an Online Business


There are many ways to make money with an online business. You could, for example, start an e-commerce site and sell physical products on eBay or Amazon. If you don’t want to stock your own products, you can use drop shipping. An even simpler option is to become an affiliate marketer, where you earn a commission for selling other people’s products.

The above are just a few of the ways many people have found success without a traditional office job. If you find something that you are passionate about, you have a good chance of making it work. You do, however, have to take the time to learn how to turn your passion into a real business.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Planning an Early Retirement? Managing Legal Matters Wisely

Retirement
Retirement (Photo credit: Tax Credits)
It’s safe to say that most people would like to retire early, but how many people will actually be able to do so; moreover, how many will retire early and do so comfortably, i.e. without regretting not staying at work for a few more years?

Unfortunately, most people will continue to work until they have no choice but to retire, though if you believe that you’ll be in a position in which it’s feasible to retire early you’ll need to plan for retirement and plan well. 

Dealing with Debt


Retiring when you’re burdened by outstanding debts is impossible so you must ensure that all your outstanding debts are resolved well before you retire.

Many people slide into debt upon retirement because of a reduction in earnings, though provided you’ve planned your retirement well and you have surplus savings, there’s no reason why you should be at risk. 

Combining Pension Pots


If you’ve worked multiple jobs over the course of your working life your pension fund might be spread across multiple pension pots. If that’s the case, you need to find out where your pension is located and consider your options, including rolling them over into one pension fund. 

Are You Claiming the Benefits You’re Entitled To?


Whilst you might not be entitled to all if any of the benefits that senior citizens are entitled to because of your current age, you should still make the effort to find out what benefits you’ll be entitled to claim upon retiring early.

As much as £5.5 million pounds goes unclaimed by pensioners annually and if you’re not claiming the benefits you’re entitled to, the Government certainly isn’t going to let you know what you could be claiming.

There are a number of benefits made available for retirees – Council Tax Support, Housing Benefit, Winter Fuel Payment, etc. – and although you mightn’t be eligible to receive these benefits just yet, you could be at a later age. 

Considering Annuity?


Annuities convert pension funds into retirement income and despite receiving some bad publicity in recent years they’re still the best option available for the majority of retirees.

It’s important to understand that once you’ve decided on an annuity provider your decision can’t be reversed, so get it right the first time.

Couples need to think about joint annuities or single life annuities for each of them, and everyone needs consider the three annuity varieties – level annuity, escalating annuity or inflation-linked annuity – and buy according to their needs.

If you’re retiring early you might not be able to convert your pension funds into retirement income because of your age, or if you are, you might have to settle for an annuity for a specified period of time. 

Don’t Forget About the Taxman!


You’ll need an income to retire early and although you won’t be receiving a wage from an employer that incurs income tax, you still need to pay tax on the money you receive from stocks and shares, savings accounts, term deposits and income derived from investment properties.

Some sources of income aren’t taxed, most notably pensions, Government benefits and ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts); however, it’s important to ensure your tax matters are in order before retiring early because the taxman will catch up with you sooner or later and you don’t want that to happen after you’ve retired. 

Wills, Estate Planning and Powers of Attorney


Thoughts of dying are naturally far from your mind when planning for an early retirement, though you need to give some thought to the inevitable at some point in time and contacting a legal firm like Hanne & Co to create a will, engage in estate planning and discuss lasting powers of attorney needs to be taken care of sooner than later.

These legal matters must be attended to regardless of whether you have dependents, especially lasting powers of attorney, because you need to consider what would happen to your finances and wellbeing if you were no longer able to make your own decisions.

There’s a lot to prepare for an early retirement but there’s also a lot to look forward to, so take care of your legal matters early on to enjoy the early retirement you’ve worked hard for.

Author: Cheryl M. Graham is a freelance writer for Hanne & Co, a law firm in London with an outstanding reputation and a long history in offering services in various areas of law. The company is made up of individuals who actually care.
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