Monday, December 31, 2012

Knock a Zero Off of Your Energy Bills: A Practical Guide

Look for this logo when considering your new r...
Look for this logo when considering your new roofing materials (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Let’s face facts, energy is not getting any cheaper, and we use more of it now than ever before. From modern appliances to keeping your home warm through the winter, almost everything you rely on for a comfortable life at home uses energy. It is no surprise that energy bills can become one of your biggest outgoings each month, but they really do not have to be as big as they are. There are so many different ways that you can use energy more efficiently, and in the process money. Some may be obvious, some not so much, but by putting some tried and tested methods into effect you could easily knock a zero off of your energy bills. An average family in the United States spends around $2,000 or more on energy bills each year, but by following some energy saving guidelines you could reduce this amount by up to 25%.

In the Kitchen

Let’s start with the refrigerator. Your refrigerator is on 24/7, and is probably using somewhere in the region of 20% of your household’s daily energy consumption. You may have never looked at or changed the settings of your refrigerator, and if not now is the time. Switch your refrigerator temperature to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, which are widely regarded as being the most energy efficient settings, use the power saver mode if your refrigerator has one, and you will make a considerable saving.

When it comes to cooking, use some common sense to save cash. Use correct sized pans and pots, keep the lids on when you are cooking to retain the heat inside, and measure water you need so you do not waste energy heating more than you will use. Also, for washing machines and dishwashers, always wait until you have a full load and run them at a low temperature. Don’t use drying cycles unless you really have too, instead let dishes air dry in a rack and put clothes out on the line to dry.

Heating and Lighting

Many water heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can easily knock that down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and it would be hard to notice the difference. The Department of Energy claims you can save between 3 to 5 percent off you energy bills for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower your water heater by, so knock it down a few more notched for extra savings! Also, take a short shower instead of a bath to save money, and attach a low-flow showerhead to save more.

Choosing the right temperature to heat and cool you home really depends on where you live, but try not to overheat or over cool your house. Research has shown that the most efficient setting for thermostats is 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter days, and 55 degrees Fahrenheit on the winter nights. Make sure you don’t leave windows or doors open when you are heating or cooling your home, because you are literally letting cash blow way into the wind.

An obvious one perhaps, but you really should have switched all your incandescent light bulbs for energy saving bulbs by now. You can save up to 75 percent on energy used for lighting by using energy efficient bulbs, so do it now if you have not.

Appliances and Gadgets

Leaving TVs, DVD players, laptops, computers, mobile phones, and pretty much anything else plugged into a wall socket means that it will be sucking juice out of the socket whether you are using it or not. Plug all your home electronic into multi-socket power strips, which can be turned off quickly so you don’t have to unplug or switch off everything from the wall socket. Appliances left of standby still use power, so get out of the habit of doing that too.

Shop Around

Don’t be afraid to switch energy providers if you think you are paying too much or an introductory offer will save you money. This is your right as a consumer, so anything you can do to save cash, do it. Also, when you by new appliances, no matter what it is, check to see if it has an ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR products meet energy efficiency guidelines set out by the Department of Energy. To knock some dollars off your energy bills you should try to upgrade all your appliances so that they meet ENERGY STAR guidelines when you need to replace them. All of the tips included in this article can be easily done, and most cost nothing to do, so put them in action and watch your energy bills drop!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things to Consider for Housing When Moving Overseas

English: Punta Cana beach, Dominicana
English: Punta Cana beach, Dominicana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recession has made it tough on many folks to make a comfortable living. These people are now looking at countries abroad that can offer better living standards without raising the cost of living. Some of the Caribbean Islands qualify and come on top in such searches. Not only is the area very beautiful and scenic, but it also offers a good lifestyle for less. The governments has simple immigration laws that allow people to come into the country and start working without having to wait for citizenship. This also allows immigrants to get started with their new life instantly. 

The millions of tourists and visitors coming to the island shores ensure that all businesses work regardless of whether it is a small shop selling goods or a large business rendering a service. The islands are developing fast in terms of infrastructure and facilities, with great connectivity to other countries around the globe, good educational institutes for lower as well as higher studies, ample healthcare facilities and renowned hospitals, and so on.

When you are moving to a foreign country such as the Dominican Republic, one of your biggest priorities is to find a perfect home to move into. This being said, you first need to decide where you want to move and whether you want to buy or rent a home. For example, you can easily find Punta Cana apartments for rent through a real estate agency, but you need to first decide whether you want to move to this fairly small tourist town in DR. Once you decide on a country, do your research about the place in reference to your profession and needs. This means that unless you have already found a job and know where you need to move, find out where the demand lies for your profession. For instance, if you are a chef or working in the hospitality industry, or want to work as a taxi driver, you may want to check out the various tourist destinations in the country. These are where you might be paid the best, and get better job satisfaction.

You must also take into consideration your whole family and their needs before making your final decision about which town to move to. Take a good look at your family. Ask questions like how many people are moving? This question will tell you how big your future house needs to be. A family of four will at least need a three bedrooms, living and kitchen space to be comfortable. What about education for the kids? If you have young children, it is imperative that you first pick a good school and find a home that is close to it. After all, you don’t want to be a hop away from your work while your children have to travel 30 minutes just to get to school? Do you like peace and quiet or want to be close to the city center  This will help you to zero in on several areas that can be considered for a house to buy or rent. Also, keep in mind that if you have an elderly person in your family it may be wise to choose a locality that is in close proximity to a hospital.

Whether you want a humble apartment for rent or are buying a lavish villa, you can be sure to get nowhere without the help of a real estate agency. This is the precise reason why the first thing you need to do once you have decided on a place, is contact a good local real estate agency.

Bryan is a freelance writer for the He has lived in the Dominican Republic for a short period and recommends Punta Cana apartments for rent to vacationers as well as anyone who wish to move to this beautiful country. Being a avid traveler with an adventurous spirit, he is always hopping from one country to another and hope to do it until he dies.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt in 2013

English: First 4 digits of a credit card
English: First 4 digits of a credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With 2013 just around the corner many will be making new year’s resolutions about how they are going to join the gym, stop eating chocolate or fix their finances. While these pacts are all made with the best intentions, come Mid-February the majority of people will revert back to their old ways and forget about their resolution.

The one resolution that we are going to focus on throughout this article is the one regarding finances; and the various ways you can go about consolidating debt.

Debt can come in many forms, however arguable the most common is credit card debt; whether you've slowly amounted debt or have maxed it out in a matter of one purchase; getting it off your back is not that easy. Making minimum payments will chip away at the amount however depending on the amount owed and the interest rates attached; this method can take a number of years.

Arguably the best way to get rid of credit card debt is to transfer the complete debt over to a 0% balance transfer card. These work on the basis that you are charged no interest for a specific time frame; instead you will be charged a small transfer fee of roughly 3% of the balance.

The idea of a 0% balance transfer card is that you pay the complete balance off within the 0% interest time frame – failing to do this will result in you being charged interest each month after the 0% timeframe. Of course, one way of avoiding interest is to transfer the remaining balance over to another 0% interest card and continue to repay the debt that way.

The only problem with 0% balance transfer cards is their availability. Often, only those with immaculate credit histories will be eligible, therefore anyone with missed payments or defaults on their record will be declined.

When this is the case there are still a few options available. Many choose to take out a debt consolidation loan, much like credit cards, the cheapest rates will be reserved for those with immaculate credit history meaning that if you have had trouble with credit commitments in the past then the subprime loan market may be the only option.

Naturally, with subprime lenders offering finance to those with bad credit they will be less willing to lend large amounts and the rates will be much higher. Generally credit card debt will range from £1,000 to £10,000 and there are only two types of subprime loans that offer this amount; guarantor and logbook loans.

Logbook loans are loans that are secured against your vehicle, the amount offered by the lender will be dependent on the value of the car. The rates may however be more expensive than the interest rates of your credit card, although they are one way you could organise your debt if you have more than one credit card.

Guarantor loans are a unique loan product that requires the backing of an individual to stand as guarantor on the loan application. The guarantor simply supports the application and promises to pay if the borrower fails to do so. Guarantor loan lenders will be able to offer between £1000 and £7,500 over a term of 1 to 5 years. 

Author Bio: This article has been written by Jason Scott on behalf of UK Credit Guarantor Loans. To learn more about the loan market or for more money saving tips, visit their website and click on the blog section. 

Small Business Blues: How the Little Guy Funds IT Emergencies

Every small business goes through periods where cash is tight. Investments in new software or a few hours of professional IT service could put you in a very bad situation. What do you do when you do not have the money to fix the computer functions keeping your business operational? Funding emergencies like this takes a plan. That plan should include backups and a strategic alignment with the right professionals who can help.

Hide Emergency Funds

Small businesses can circumvent most types of financial emergencies by having a backup plan in place. A small fund, tucked away with a few thousand dollars can provide the savings necessary for big problems. Remove the funds from the operating budget. Place in an interest-bearing account that is not easily accessible through a debit card. This helps prevent those situations where temptation may lure you into withdrawing funds for the wrong reasons. A backup fund like this is a fantastic plan, especially when you put just a few hundred dollars into it each cycle. It is easy to fund. Via Flickr by newleoforex

Find an Immediate Lender


Turning to pay day loans for your immediate cash flow needs is ideal. In fact, you may face the least amount of downtime this route because you can get cash in hand within a very short period of time, sometimes just hours. However, another key advantage is this option does not come with a long-term repayment. Instead of getting a small business loan that takes weeks to fund and requires credit approval and long-term repayment, this option requires none of these limitations. Repay it within a few weeks when business picks up. Via Flickr by PostPhoto 365

Invest in a Retainer

Going to look for an IT pro when you are facing a shutdown of your system does not make sense. Not only do you have to trust this person to know how to fix the system, but you also have to shell out a small fortune for the service as an emergency. To cut costs and to gain confidence in your IT professional, hire someone to keep on retainer. When you need the help, pick up the phone and call. You will pay less overall if you contact these professionals with small problems that avoid big catastrophes. Via Flickr from Joba1984

Buy on Credit as a Last Resort

Finally, when all else fails, pulling out the plastic may be the route to take. Using a credit card to purchase new equipment or to hire an IT tech may be an option. However, it is an expensive one since most businesses hold onto debt long-term. To make it less overwhelming, get approval for a zero-interest credit card for your business account. Some even offer cash back savings. Make it a priority to repay the debt as soon as possible to prevent any additional charges or lawsuits that could force you to find additional lawsuit funding that would add stress to your business. Via Flickr from demosphere

IT concerns can bring any business to the ground. Yet, nothing is worse than being unable to fund the repairs you need to keep your business operational. With a plan and a backup option or two, you can avoid the risks associated with shutting your doors when your tech stops working. Via Flickr from Julio López Saguar

Why Many Payday Loan Customers Use the Service to Cover Small-Dollar Expenses

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)
Over the years, the usefulness of payday loans has continued to increase. For many of the population payday loans are used as a quick source of cash in an emergency. The unforeseen costs of seeing a doctor or having a needed car repair done can force many to overdraft their bank accounts or exceed the credit limit of a credit card. Many still write that check or charge on their credit card. Your bank gladly makes your check good and charges you a fee of $40 or more. The credit card company also rewards you with an over credit limit fee and raises your monthly APR.

Even with all the negative press payday loans get, they are actually cheaper than going into overdraft, for short term cash needs. The average fee for $100 of credit is $17.60 at a payday loan compared to bank overdraft fees of $30-$35 in 2012(FDIC).

Overdraft fees are more of a problem with people who carry a low balance in their account. Not going into overdraft and saving the penalty fees associated with it can add up to a real savings over time.

"When used on a recurring basis for small amounts, the annualized percentage rate for fee-based bounce [overdraft] protection far exceeds the APRs associated with payday loans."

Sheila Bair

Former Chairman
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Like all financial obligations, payday loans need to be taken seriously by the borrower and the lender. How do you know if your lender is a legitimate concern and obeying the laws for payday loan lenders in their state.

Go to the website of the lender you want to use. Look for an "About Us" link. An upstanding company has extensive information about themselves. Look for information about their license to operate in the state. Do they provide complete contact information. Look for links and phone numbers of state regulatory departments with contact information. Use the information and call the states regulatory division and ask questions. 

Also look for the emblem of the Community Financial Services Association of America. This association sets guidelines and best practices that ensure responsible conduct among lenders, protect borrowers’ rights, and encourage self-governance of the payday advance industry. Their website has a hotline where you can voice concerns and problems you are having with the lender.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Identifying Value in Real Estate Property

Property market
Property market (Photo credit: Alan Cleaver)
It has been stated over and over that the key to real estate value lies in location. But this has misled many people into believing that there is really no other factor to consider when appraising the value of real estate property. There are a number of factors that must emerge when you consider the value of any real estate property. 

One of the chief factors that you must bear in mind is the age of the building. An older building can be a financial drain rather than an asset. Older buildings tend to require more laborious and expensive renovation projects and are more likely to fail inspections. These problems include faulty plumbing or plumbing systems that are now outdated and need to be replaced. The same goes for electrical wiring. Plumbing and electrical overhauls can be very expensive especially since they typically require that the walls be cut open to allow the contractor to access the pipes or wires.

But sometimes an older home can be a jewel. Older homes that are steeped in history can be potential money makers. Ensure that the claim to historical fame is legitimate before making a purchase however, because you want to ensure that when you invest in refurbishing the building you get your returns. These types of golden opportunities are far and few between however and you should count yourself lucky if you stumble upon this type of treasure.

Carefully look at the infrastructure that comes with the home. Look for things like alternate power supply solar water heaters and ornate decorations. Consider elements such as the stairs. The stair design adds flair and elegance to the inside of a building. But it also serves another purpose. It indicates how much time and energy has been put into the building. An attractive decoration goes a long way in enhancing the resale or rental value of the property.

Appraise also the land space surrounding the home. Is there a wide expanse of land? Or is the home close to others in the community? Ample land space leaves options such as a pool or expansive outdoor entertainment spaces on the table. Once there is space the potential to develop the property is limitless and simply depends on your vision and budget.

One of the first things that visitors notice about a home is its size and this element has a serious impact on the value of the property. A smaller house will leave you with the potential to do less. If you are planning on hosting large gatherings at home or having a big family, this home won’t give you the right bang for your buck. On the other hand if you find a fairly sized home you may be able to creatively use a section to make money. Depending on the neighborhood rules you may be able to manage and run a home business from one room or a large garage. Note also that a large garage may be a luxury that eludes you with a more expensive and smaller home, though it may be located in a prime real estate spot.

So yes, the location plays a significant role in the price of a home and its value. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it is the only factor worth considering. There are many other factors that help to determine what benefits the property will have for you and your family and chief among those factors should be the value that the house has for you when you consider your needs or your family’s needs. So essentially, the true value of the house goes beyond the cash required to make the purchase.

Karl has been using his background knowledge as a real estate investor to inform millions across the globe about wise real estate investment choices. He enjoys spending time outdoors and engaging in meaningful conversation.

Home Appraisals: What You Need to Know

How Real Estate Appraisals Are Really Done
How Real Estate Appraisals Are Really Done (Photo credit: Dave Dugdale)

A home appraisal is used to determine the value or worth of a property. It is mostly used to determine how much a lender can give the buyer for the purchase of the property in question. It is an expert opinion to protect the financier from getting stuck with a property worth less than the invested amount. Don't mistake the appraisal process with an inspection process. An inspection involves noting potential problems that can prove costly to remedy in the future, while an appraisal uses the general state of a property to determine its worth.

What to Expect During the Appraisal Process

Here is what you should expect during a home appraisal:

Full Access

Expect the appraisers to want full access to your home. The appraisers will want to look over all areas including the garage, attic or basement. This is done to determine how well the property was constructed and how well it has been maintained.


The appraisers will also take a lot of photographs of your home, both the interior and the exterior. The photos will be shown to the lender as proof of the condition of the house.

Overview of the Home

You should also expect the appraisers to be interested in the general overview of the house. This includes foundations, improvements, type of rooms, number of rooms and even its age. This overview, however, will not be as thorough as the inspection process.

Square Footage Approximation

The appraisers will also be interested in the total square footage of your home. In this estimation, the non-living areas are usually excluded, but just jotted down as side estimates. Examples of non-living areas include porches and garages.

How to Prepare Your Home for an Appraisal

To ensure that your home is properly appraised, and that the appraisers see its real value, you should prepare your home beforehand. Here is what you can do to help:

Improve Your Curb Appeal

Your front yard makes the initial first impression for those who come to your home, appraisers included. This means if you wish to make your house presentable and well maintained, you cannot ignore the curb appeal. Work on the yard area and the general appearance of the exterior. Ensure that you get rid of any mold and mildew that may be present, clean the gutters and remove overgrowth on the sidewalks. While curb appeal may not necessarily be used to appraise the property, it can be useful in affecting your appraisers' attitude even before they examine the house.

Note all the Updates

You should note all the updates and improvements you have made to the home and show them to the appraisers. This list should preferably cover all the updates done within the last 15 years. If you have their approximate dates and costs, it would be helpful too. Some appraisers also say that you should also include the noteworthy features of your home. Appraisers are professionals, but they are still human and it is easy for them to miss something.

Note Neighborhood Changes

Some people might say that this is an appraisers' job, but it still doesn't hurt to give them a hand in it. After all, they may not be aware of the next door property sold without the involvement of an agent? Data from such a sale may not be readily available.


You should have the necessary paperwork ready before the appraisers arrive. This includes things like certificates of occupancy, tax bills, financial statements and others that may be needed. If there are reports from recent appraisals, you should present them too.

Most appraisals are done when a property is to be sold, but that is not the only occasion that calls for an appraisal. Most insurance companies request a home appraisal before determining homeowners insurance rates. Irrespective of the reason for the appraisal, you should prepare for it using the above tips.

Adam Vaught has extensive experience in the insurance industry. He enjoys sharing his knowledge on appraisals to readers of various insurance and personal finance blogs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How To Upgrade Your Finances In 2013

New year symbolizes a beginning of something new that is about to happen. That is the reason why so many people look forward to this holiday with a hope for a better future. Both adults and children believe in miracles and hope that next year will bring positive changes. Taking into consideration the economical statistics, most people would like to begin restoring their personal finances next year, though some accept the problem deeper. Some experts admit that life is about making little changes to it and the entire picture will be transforming into the likable one. If you want to upgrade your life in 2013, do not be afraid to face this fact and start moving forward to the changes. Read this post to add some points which are meant to change all aspects of your life into the better. 

Eating Out 

If you want to save more money, stop eating out at cafes, bars and restaurants. Surely, it is quite beneficial for its owners but not for your pocket. Won’t it be savvier to make lunch yourself at home that will take just ten minutes instead of wasting $10 every day? Start saving now and you will not even notice how a decent sum of money will appear in your emergency fund.

Be Imaginative! 

Do not forego with simple wishes and impulsion. If you want to have a special evening with your beloved one, do not give up this idea. Use creativity and imagination for making up a romantic scenery, as transforming your kitchen into a restaurant with candlelight and good dishes. Having a good time doesn't mean spending lots of money, keep that in mind. 

Cook more 

Firstly, it is cheaper to cook yourself at home, instead of buying everything prepared in cafes or supermarkets. Therefore once you cook, make more food for freezing it and using later. Most products do not get spoiled and renew their taste when heated. 

Set Long-term Goals 

Consider an issue with saving money a tough one and treat it with all the solemnity. Do not think that one bracelet does not cost a lot, if you sum up all expenses you will be surprised how much you literally waste on fiddlesticks. 

Create an Emergency Fund 

We try plan everything as much as possible, but emergencies still happen. If you do not have any savings then you can borrow from friends or family members or apply for no credit check loans to cover unexpected expenses. But try to save money and put it into the emergency fund. Then there will be no need to borrow and that will make you feel financially independent.

Summing up 

New year can meet all your expectations and wishes, just help them come true and be maximally purposeful!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Risk Factors of Small Business Loans: Solutions to Reduce Risk

Financing is the act of funding a business activity that hopefully will lead to profit. That is the book definition written down by students or people that never had the pleasure of running their own business. For those who have gone through the ordeal however, financing might take on a completely new different meaning. 

When someone talks about financing a business, what usually springs to mind is the foundation of startups. That is not true since businesses regularly seek financing. The problem occurs when there is difficulty in finding sources of finance.

The credit crunch in 2008 was more than a revelation for many entrepreneurs. Most of us never thought about the risk factors in small business loans. Small businesses account for the majority of new jobs being made in America and is to credit for 58% of its employment. It’s funny how the majority of the population has no clue as to what happens in the back end process of small business financing. For starters, let’s look at some of the risks an entrepreneur would have to involve himself with to finance his idea or company.

Personal Money

When a business owner wants to start something, his first action is to reach down his pocket. Ironically, if the funds aren’t enough, which in most cases is the case, this is also the first factor that banks would consider. Banks need to know how much of your personal money you are willing to hang on the balance to factor in the amount of loan would they approve you for.

Unfortunately, when the business initiative you’ve financed flounders, it’s not only the loan amount that will get lost, but also your personal savings you initially laid out for the groundwork. 


Collateral may be in the form of a house, a car, an equipment, real estate or anything that the lender may find of value to guarantee the repayment for a loan. All is well when you’re able to repay as planned, but when you’re trying to make ends meet the collateral is in danger of being possessed by the lender as repayment. 

Credit Score

We all want our credit score to be untarnished. Sadly, a good credit score is the first thing to go when you fail to make payments on time with your lenders. 

Some Effective Solutions to Lower the Risks

Create a Budget That Includes All Incomes and Expenses –to avoid failing on payments, always know where your money is going. Great entrepreneurs are often described having this trait. This is true no matter how incredible their net worth has become.

Start a Savings Meant for Setbacks – I’m sure you can set aside some part of your business’ income as an emergency fund. This works on all business scales. You’ll definitely have to afford it, because what you will not be able to afford is when your small business loans go on default.

Loans from Family and Friends –Although loans from loved ones are usually filled with benefits, this should be the last resort as it might destroy your relationships.

Author Bio: is the online lending company to go to when confronted by a brick wall. We grant people access to quick cash the moment they need it. For further information on our services.

How to Manage eCommerce Inventory Across Different Platforms

The inventory of any ecommerce business is its lifeblood. Without a fully stocked and varied inventory, no retail business can succeed. Managing your inventory properly can be tricky even if you only have a single store location. However, tracking and measuring your stock becomes drastically more difficult when you expand your brand across multiple storefronts. Each new order must be tallied against your combined stock or you will quickly lose track of your information and the fulfillment steps. There are numerous techniques available to ecommerce owners and managers that want to integrate multiple platforms in one system.

Stick to Compatible Platforms

Many ecommerce systems allow you to open separate storefronts and manage the inventory seamlessly between them all. However, this won't give you the benefit of using the existing customer base of many well-established platforms. Amazon Services says that a company can open a number of different stores and control the inventory through a single management account. This works well for some businesses but does limit your ability to expand later down the road. It can be useful if one platform has a wide enough consumer base to support all of your stores.

Inventory Management

Designers have developed a range of helpful software solutions for tracking inventory. Some rely on hand held item scanners used in the warehouse, while others allow you to manually enter each item that leaves your stock. Shopify says that these systems are essential if your ecommerce business grows beyond the occasional sale. Tracking and managing a complex inventory is extremely time consuming if you don't have help from a powerful software solution. These programs can automatically stop orders when a product runs out. Others include automatic re-ordering that can be switched on and off as needed to maintain a constant stream of new inventory.

Complete Management

Many systems designed to help you manage customer orders and fulfillment can also be used for inventory control. A completely integrated program often reduces mistakes made at every level. Each shipping or stocking mistake can cost you a lot of money. Investing in a fine-tuned order management system can keep your ecommerce business running smoothly, according to Ability Commerce. The best programs integrate seamlessly across all of the most popular platforms, including Amazon, eBay and privately hosted stores. Look for software that can support changes like holiday discounts or free shipping on qualifying purchases without requiring hours of hand coding.

An ecommerce business can start as a small and simple eBay store and grow into a massive network that sells products to customers around the globe. If you want to find true success in the world of online sales, you must start with a system that will allow you to grow. Choose a scalable solution to begin with. This will allow you to avoid a lot of difficulty and downtime in the future. You won't need to completely renovate your platform and install new systems if you go from one order a week to one thousand orders a day.

Ted Hosford has been a business software consultant for more than 10 years and enjoys sharing his knowledge via blogging. Visit for dropshipping software solutions that could help your business.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Job Hunting When You're Over Fifty

Employment Exhibition
Employment Exhibition (Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)
Although facing joblessness at any age is a challenge, seniors appear to be one of the groups hardest hit by the unemployment crisis. A government report has shown that 55% of jobless seniors had been out of work for six months or more, and many will dip into their savings or retirement funds in order to survive during this time. Although employers can't discriminate against you based on age, there are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to searching for a new role.

Consider part-time

You may be used to working a nine to five routine, but if it's a choice between having reduced hours or no hours, going part-time is certainly something to consider. With companies facing budget cuts, many of them are looking for skilled workers but may only be able to offer you part-time hours or a short-term contract. However, there are advantages to this kind of arrangement. Firstly, it means you can spend your spare time looking for something more permanent, or even doing some study to refresh your skills. It also means you'll avoid the dreaded resume gap which employers can find off-putting, meaning your situation is less likely to be long-term. Also, you should consider the impact on your finances. Working shorter hours means you might not be able to keep putting money away for retirement, but it also means you're less likely to dip into your savings to cover everyday expenses. Staying employed is also important for older people who aren't yet eligible for Medicare, as you will need to consider the impact that unemployment will have on your healthcare plan.

Staying open minded

Many seniors who find themselves out of work have much to offer an employer, and many of the older generation worked for years at the same company. However, you may find that your old career has become very competitive, is obsolete, or nobody is hiring for the roles anymore. It may be time to consider different jobs in your field, and what transferable skills you have. Despite high unemployment, there are many jobs that are still in demand, and you may already have the qualifications and experience required for them. For example, many older workers often go into teaching or training the next generation, and with your years of experience you could be an excellent mentor. If your change in career involves a pay cut, then see a financial adviser about your options. It may be the right time to downsize your lifestyle, look at semi-retirement, or even do some consulting work to top-up your income. You may not be keen on the idea of taking a less prestigious job, but it can often work out well in the long-term.

Using your contacts

If you've worked in your field for the past few decades, then you've probably built up a list of contacts that a recent graduate would kill for. Don't be afraid to use them, and make sure you put the feelers out as soon as you face unemployment. Although your contacts might not know of any positions now, something could come up in the near future. Waiting until you're out of work to start job hunting means that you could be facing a longer stretch of joblessness, putting a strain on your finances. Although your contacts are unlikely to have an amazing permanent position waiting for you, they may have some contract or consultancy work available, and your years of building up contacts could certainly lead to something exciting.

Have a positive attitude

One of the most important things for seniors to do when job hunting is to have a positive attitude about the changes in their life. You may have thought you'd be with your old company forever and perhaps be mourning your old job, but change is often good for people, and this is the time to look at things like finances as you start anew. Many senior workers get disgruntled when faced with the prospect of working under less experienced people, but try not to despair. You may enjoy working in a less stressful environment as you age, and you might find yourself with more spare time for family and hobbies. Keeping a positive attitude means that you'll find it easier to try new things and be open to new experiences, hopefully minimizing the time you spend out of work.

Being an older job seeker doesn't mean you're on the scrap heap. Although you may find it a struggle to match the job you had before, it might be a good time to try new things and see where life takes you. With the right financial advice, you can explore a range of options, and decide what's best for you and your family's future.

4 Neat Ways to Find Coupons Online

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Image via CrunchBase
The internet has been an answered prayer for many people, maybe for bargain hunters the most of all. Indeed, the newest and hottest trend in internet marketing and business building is the introduction of online coupons. Coupon hunting has now pretty much become a part of life: everyone is out for a deal, and will not settle into they find the right one. There are a myriad of ways in which you can go about finding the greatest deals and the best coupons on the internet. In some ways, it does quite a bit of skill and luck, but in other ways it is quite simple. Here are some of the neatest ways to find coupons online:

  1. Go Online
It has pretty much become the first thing any consumer should do before they intend to buy just about anything. Going online to find out if what you want is on sale somewhere or if there is a factory coupon available is a great way to save money and get the best deal possible. So, the first thing any bargain hunter should do is scope out what is available online first.

  1. Go Paperless
Many stores these days offer the option of having coupons sent directly to your smart phone. This is a great way to keep track of coupons and get great deals by barely having to do any searching for them. All you usually have to do is sign-up in the store or online, and that’s that: simple.

  1. iPhone Apps
There are hundreds of iPhone apps that will find coupons for you and send them right to your mobile device. All you have to do is log on and search through your local database for the best deals for you.

Best Sites For Online Coupon Searching

Groupon: This site is great for anyone that is interested in group deal discounts for local restaurants, bars, music venues and other destinations.
Tippr: Tippr is similar to Groupon, but is much more aggressive and guarantees customers a discount of anything from 50% to 90%, which is more than most competitors can offer.
Retail Me Not: This site offers customer reviews of which coupons they liked the best. It is a great way to find coupons that you may not have thought of or searched for before. This site is definitely for the adventuresome bargain hunters out there.

Best Apps For Online Coupons

Yowza: This iPhone app is one of the best for finding the best deals and coupons in   your local area.
Coupon Sherpa: Another great option for finding coupons in your area. These sites work as conglomerating sites that take deals from other sites and promote them on theirs..

Randy K. is a freelance writer for a host of community newspapers, educational web sites, lifestyle magazines and food blogs. When he is not reading or eating he is scouring the internet for the best deals on local restaurants, music venues and bars. He also tends to run up money on his credit card in the process. Click here to find out more about credit card abcs.

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Overview on Luxury Real Estate Development

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 (Photo credit: nancyarora2020)

Real Estate Development

Real estate development refers to many actions. These actions include buying and selling of land, construction and leasing of buildings, etc. It is a high financial business and is fast growing too. The developers buy the land and complete the deal, while the building work is given to a construction company. The land with potential for development is selected and bought. The project on the land is decided by the developers in addition to the work relating to completing the project like getting the government sanctions and other facilities. The real estate development projects include commercial buildings, apartments, IT companies and residential buildings. So, with real estate development a raw land is turned into residential or commercial projects. 

Real Estate Developers

Real estate developers are professionals who specialize in the process of buying real estate, doing modifications to the buildings, and in the construction of new buildings and their selling. They research market trends on the price variation in the real estate sector. They need to be up-to-date on the recent price trends and market values. The aim is to buy when the market prices are low and sell when they are high. 

Luxury Real Estate

Luxury real estate differs from ordinary real estate. In luxury real estates, the factors which determine the luxury are the property value, and other facilities like a pool and proximity to schools, hospitals and stores. The inside customization and architecture also determines a luxury real estate. The luxury real estate development is more difficult and challenging than ordinary real estate. The real estate properties are built according to the needs and desires of the buyer, and the facilities like waterfront or balcony are considered important. The avoidance from rush and noise of city and living in a silent peaceful place are considered a luxury. The buyers of a luxury real estate don’t belong to the local community. They come from other parts of the country, so the reach is more than ordinary real estates where the buyers are all local. Most of the companies have their own magazines showing the buildings for sale. It helps in advertising their company projects and in getting potential clients interested in investing. 

Process of Development

The luxury real estate development contains many steps from the development of an idea to the buying and selling of a constructed project. The first and foremost step is to find a raw land available for purchase, which possesses the probability for a good development. The land selected should have availability of water, electricity and roadways. Then, the planning as to the luxury factors and the necessities for the building are discussed, and the costs including the profit for the developer is found out. The developer needs to be convinced of the cost and expenditure for the completion of the project. Once it is found profitable, the land is purchased and the necessary approvals for construction activities are taken. The approvals are done on the basis that the construction sticks to the planning and development regulations. Luxury real estate development need more approvals, and need to satisfy more conditions. Once the architecture and the luxury with the building are discussed, they are implemented in the plan and drawings. The client is shown at this stage how the project looks and the luxury factors implemented in it. Then, it is given to a construction company and the work starts. Most of the developers have talks with their clients before starting the project. In case of luxury homes the client talk is necessary as the luxury aspects of the property need to be up to the clients’ needs and desires.

Author’s note

Sam, who works in the real estate development sector at , says the luxury real estate development is sought out by many people who prefer a silent place without the rush of the cities. The waterfront views are more preferred by clients and the scenic beauty adds to the flavor of the building.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Five Options for People Looking to Finance Their Small Business

Even the smallest of the small businesses needs some sort of investment to set off and succeed. The Internet might be a low-cost medium, but even an online business requires sufficient funds for marketing and search engine optimization purposes. Many entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas fail to launch a business.  Even those who do, never manage to realize its true potential because they don’t have the capital to invest. Money makes money, which means you need to have some money in order to make more money.

If you are one of those entrepreneurs with a great business plan, and waiting for the right time when you will have the funds or capital to invest, then you should stop waiting and go for one of the following options to get the capital to launch your company right away:

Bank loan

Banks are of course the first resort for small businesses looking for a loan. The only problem is they are less likely to lend money for a start-up, as compared to an established enterprise. Still, you can visit different banks and discuss your requirements. 

Friends & Families

If you are looking to start a small business online, you usually will need significantly less amount of money as compared to starting a brick and mortar store. Searching out conventional loans from banks or venture capitalists sometimes is not necessary, especially if you’ve got someone affluent enough in your friend or family circle to invest. The biggest advantage is the convenience, as they will be lending the money on much easier conditions when compared to a bank or angel investors. 

Angel Investors & Venture Capitalist

If you have the kind of idea or a prototype that you can sell to some of those “angel investors” or venture capitalist firms, you might be able to raise a big amount of money for your company, except that you will have a little less control on your business. They will be lending on tough conditions, but that’s the only way to find investment for a high risk start-up with lots of potential. You will have to do a lot of convincing though, since venture capitalists or angel investors are business savvy people who won’t put their money in a half-baked business plan. 


If you are looking to start a small business and you have got some savings to invest, but you’d like to have some more financing or someone else to share the risk, you can always look for a partner. There are different types of business partnerships, for example, general partnership or limited liability partnership. In case you are getting into a partnership, remember to discuss and include everything in the agreement, because partnerships can result in misunderstandings and disputes. 

Government Funding

There are many government funded programs and grants for small businesses in different parts of the world, especially in particular sectors like IT or agriculture (depending on the government policies). You can always check with your local small business authorities, and see if there’s a financing program available. 

Natasha Mesty is a business and finance student. Starting your own business requires lots of planning and hard work in the beginning, but this planning and hard work can pay off in spades once your company starts to earn.  

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