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Having a grasp on your finances is vital. You could easily lose everything if you are not careful. There is no greater tragedy than that. After all, it is your hard-earned money.

That is why it always pays to be smart. iFinance Help is your financial management partner.

 

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The Best Way to Understand Personal Finance

If you are just starting out, the very idea of managing your personal finances can be pretty overwhelming. After all, contrary to popular belief, there is more to money than just spending it. This is crucial since this is the area where many people mess up – with most people carelessly throwing away their hard-earned cash.

It needs to be stated here that personal finance entails a lot of planning and a lot of discipline on your part. Without delving in too deep into the many complicated matters of financial management, this article provides some of the best ways to understand personal finance. Remember, all of these are designed to help you make the best financial decisions available to you.

 

Creating a Viable Financial Plan

The best way to get started is by creating a financial plan that is perfect for your current situation. This means creating a personal budget. This is perhaps among the most vital aspects of any personal finance plan. A well-made budget should perfectly illustrate an individual’s spending patterns. At the same time, it should also allow you to craft a spending plan that fits your monthly income.

Making the budget is easy enough. The first step would be to gather all the financial information available to you. Keep in mind that your goal should be to make the most detailed budget plan possible. The more nuanced it is, the better.

To start things off, list down your monthly income after taxes as well as any additional income flow you might have. After that, get all your credit card bills, utility bills, bank statements, pay stubs, investment account statements, and all the other financial information you can get your hands on. Make a table, or a simple spreadsheet, with two columns – one for your monthly income and one for your expenses.

By doing this you will be able to determine how much money you have left over for a given month. Once you determine your spending patterns, you can adjust your patterns accordingly. If you are looking to save, then identify the expenses that can be trimmed down.

Understanding personal finances need not be so complicated. Review your budget plan regularly. Do the steps every month. Determine whether you are following your budget plan or not, so you can modify it if necessary. Just remember to be firm and follow your plan.

Alternative Sources of Business Growth Finance: Ways to Fund Growth

One of the daunting challenges budding entrepreneurs have to face is finding the funding necessary to spur the growth of their business. This is made even harder for business deemed ‘high risk’ by traditional lending institutions, as low credit scores and limited business history can often get in the way of securing financing.

Fortunately, there are now alternative ways to secure financing for your business. This article presents some of the options available to entrepreneurs looking to fund the growth of their business.

 

Crowdfunding

Entrepreneurs are given two popular crowdfunding options – equity and reward crowdfunding. The former entails selling pieces of your company to potential investors. This is particularly popular in fast-growing industries.

The latter option, reward crowdfunding is much simpler. It does not require you to take on additional partners, rather it just entails that you give your investors rewards in exchange for their contribution. This is particularly useful, and can even be used to expand the reach of your business by tapping on a new section of the market.

 

Credit Card Stacking

This is actually an inexpensive option to secure business financing options. This is best used by low-revenue businesses and startups. It is simple enough to do, just use different credit cards in order to reach a total credit limit that meets the amount you need.

You can ask lenders to do this for you. They will choose the credit cards with the highest credit limits for you. It can be rather tricky, so be mindful of the payments when the collections start. Otherwise, you may be creating more trouble for your business.

 

Inventory Financing

This particular financing option is only available for retail businesses. It works by having a lender give you the necessary funds in order to buy the items you will then sell at your store. This removes the pressure of having to come up with the capital necessary for expansion, as it gives you significant breathing room.

The additional financing for your expanded inventory will certainly give you that much desired flexibility in terms of controlling the additional revenue that comes in.

 

Online Loans

Online Loans are very similar to bank loans. The only difference being that online loans usually have higher interest rates. This is because securing these loans is also significantly easier when compared to bank loans. It should also be noted that online lenders are much more responsive and have a quicker turnaround time than most banks – taking just a few days to a couple weeks to process a business loan.

Of course, entrepreneurs will also need to take time and work through the details of the loan. This is crucial so that you know what you are getting into. Make sure that you make use of a business loan APR calculator in order to determine your interest rates.

On top of that, you should also pay attention to the fine print and examine how often payments need to be made. It is up to you and the lender to determine whether you will be paying weekly, monthly, or annually.

 

Seeing one’s business grow and prosper is every entrepreneur’s dream. These are just a few alternative ways to secure the funding you need to ensure your business’ growth.

How Much Does It Cost to Invest in the Stock Market?

Investing in the stock market can be a very lucrative enterprise, especially if you know the rules of the game. In the world of personal finances, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a free lunch. For instance, aside from the money needed to invest in an asset, there are also additional costs.

This article explains the costs of investing in the stock market. Prospective investors need to pay close attention since this is very important, especially if the amount in your investment fund is limited. These additional costs can really affect your investment money if you are not careful.

 

Mutual Fund Fees

Mutual Funds offer a number of advantages for beginners. They are also more cost-efficient. This is because regardless of the amount you invest, the fees remain the same. You just need the pay the minimum amount in order to open an account, then you can proceed and invest smaller amounts in the following months. This system is called dollar cost averaging (DCA).

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not tell you about the management expense ratio (MER) for mutual funds. Basically, this is charged annually by the management team. The amount is determined depending on the fund assets.

 

Commissions

Right from the start, before you even open that investment account, investors need to bear in mind the costs you will inevitably incur every time you purchase investments once that account is activated. So, every time you purchase an investment, be ready for additional costs. Oftentimes, these come in the form of commissions.

If you trade constantly then Investing in stocks can be surely become quite costly. This is because of the trading fee incurred every time you trade stock. This applies to both buying and selling of stocks. It can cost $10 to $30 per trade. Investors with smaller investments will surely feel the effects of these costs more than those with larger amounts at play.

In order to illustrate this point, imagine that you have $1000 to invest. If you buy stocks from five different companies, then you will automatically incur at least $50 in trading costs. It may not seem like much but that is already 5% of your total investment money. This is already a 5% loss on your investment before you have the chance to earn money.

Now, in the event that you decide to sell these stocks, you will also be charged another $50 to make that trade. So, the simple acts of buying and selling these stocks can already cost you $100, or 10% of your initial deposit. In such a scenario, you could already lose money. More so, if your investments did not pay off.

 

Investing costs money. Every step of the way, you need to be ready to pay the extra fees. These can easily deplete your funds if you are not careful.

This article presented some of the basic costs entailed by stock market investments. Keep these things in mind if you are truly serious about pursuing that investment opportunity.

Investing in the Stock Market

For prospective investors, the stock market can seem enticing and intimidating at the same time. You would not be wrong as investing in the right stocks can lead to a very lucrative payout. However, like with any other investment scheme, there are also risks that come into play.

This is why investors need to have a grasp of the basic rules when it comes to stock market investments. You need to be mindful of how the market itself works. Otherwise, you will be left grasping for straws.

This article presents some of the basic things you have to know about investing in the stock market.

 

Being Aware of your Financial Situation

People should understand that managing personal finances is really no different from running a business. You need to keep all aspects of financial life in order. In particular, prospective investors should take care in ensuring that they have a healthy baseline. This means carefully assessing your financial situation first before proceeding with any stock market investment opportunities.

For instance, this can mean monitoring your personal debt levels. It is ill-advised for investors to insist on an overly-aggressive investment strategy in order to hide their debt-ridden finances. This is a common mistake among many investors. Not only is it risky, but it is also counter-productive.

Take note that if you are having debt problems, the stock market is rarely the solution. Instead, you should focus on ways to normalize your financial situation and getting rid of all that debt. Once you have done, focus on ways to establish an emergency fund.

Of course, turning a profit on an investment never fails to create a positive feeling among investors. However, you also need to keep in mind that your investments do not exist separately from the rest of your finances. They are but one aspect of it.

 

The Stock Market is Not Las Vegas

A commonly held misconception about stock market investment is that it is nothing more than a scheme to get rich quickly – like getting lucky at a casino. If you know what you are doing, then you know that nothing is further from the truth. Investing in stocks is not about getting a lucky break.

Serious stock market investments entail hard work and research. For instance, investors need to develop a trading discipline that keeps losses at bay. At the same time, you cannot put all your eggs in one basket as the risk is simply too high. This means making sure that you diversify your investments. Look for any opportunities that present itself, and assess if it is worth being part of your portfolio or not. Diversification may seem like boring work but it pays off in the long run.

 

These are just some of the things you need to know about stock market investment. Always keep these in mind. Make sure that you carefully assess each investment opportunity that comes your way. Weigh all the risks and potential pay-offs, and more importantly, determine whether your finances are ready for it. After all, it is your hard-earned money going into these investments

3 Steps For Making Better Financial Decisions

Whether we like it or not, we deal with financial decisions each and every day, so it is very important for all of us to better understand how to manage them and come out ahead. Having a better understanding of what good financial decisions are will enable you to save more money in the long run and avoid wasting money on things you don’t need, on bad investments or bad decisions.

Write Down Your Monthly Expenses

The first step for better financial management is to be fully aware of what expenses you absolutely have to make each and every month. These include bills, rent, repaying bank loans, any insurance you make have that charges you a monthly or quarterly fee, food, etc. Write all of this down and come up with a number. Now that you’ve written this down you know exactly how much you absolutely need to pay every month. This will automatically show you how much money you are left with from your monthly household income after paying for everything on that list. So you know exactly how much you have left to spend.

Plan A New Budget

Now that you have this information, you know exactly what money you are left with each and every month. So next up, make a list with casual expenses you may have. Stuff you kinda need but aren’t 100% necessary, write all of them down as well. Finally, identify stuff you spend money on regularly that you don’t really need at all. These are whims and can be easily eliminated with a little discipline, to enable you to save more money each and every month. That’s not to say you should completely eliminate them. Everyone likes to indulge in the casual weekend away from home or an impromptu day at the mall. It’s important to limit the number of these expenses though, not completely eliminate them. Aim at cutting at least half of these expenses and you’ll save a good amount of money each and every month. You’ll soon realize you were throwing a good amount of money away needlessly and can actually live a fine life on a smaller budget, being just as happy.

Make Smart Investments

Instead of paying high energy bills, maybe its time to invest some of the money you’ve saved into more cost effective home appliances. if your car is costing you too much in maintenance and fuel, maybe switch to an electric one. Investing in stuff that will save you money on the long run is always a good idea.

These tips might seem simple and straightforward, and that’s because they are. Use them and your finances will look better with each passing month.

 

Understanding Loans Before You Borrow

If you need to get a loan it’s very important to understand how everything works. When having a full understanding of the ins and outs of borrowing money you’ll be able to have a better grasp on when you should get a loan and when you should avoid it. Also, you’ll be able to decide what type of loan would better suit your needs and how to get the loan that is most beneficial to you.

So what do you need to do in order to get a loan? What’s the price of borrowing money? Why, more money of course! When you borrow you obviously have to pay everything back plus a little extra in the form of interest. That’s the way loans work, but you knew this already in theory. Costs are a crucial part of acknowledging how loans work and will help you make much better choices about what types of loans to target. Some lenders might not make it easy for you to understand all the costs involved, so it’s always a great idea to check the numbers yourself.

For most loans you can use a Loan Amortization Calculator to understand how everything works. If you want to fully understand how the numbers work, use a spreadsheet and play around with the numbers by changing the variables. Costs can be tough to understand sometimes, so spending some time to get a complete picture in this area will prove valuable to you in the long term.

How Paying Back Your Loan Works

A loan qualifies as a loan by definition if you repay it. Repaying your loan sounds simple enough, as you’ll pay it gradually over a pre-determined period of time. You’ll be making monthly payments that account partly for the loan balance, and also a small portion in interest. You’ll do this until the entire amount is paid. Loans can differ in terms however, as you can get a loan and repay it over very long terms, or very small terms. When having to repay over small terms, your monthly payments will naturally be higher, but you’ll also have to pay them for shorter amounts of time. When going for a big loan on a 30 year term, the monthly payments might not seem that much now, but have to take into consideration that things might change for you 10 or 20 years from now. So when you do commit to a 30 year loan, understand what it means for future you and be prepared to manage it.

How To Qualify For A Loan

When requesting a loan, the lender will look at your file and determine if you are eligible for a loan. To qualify for a loan, the easiest way is to have a good credit score, as this will show lenders that you’ve paid off loans in the past and you are very likely to repay that loan. You’ll likely get the loan on a reasonable rate too because you’ll be deemed low risk. If you have poor credit however, you can still get a loan. You may need to also offer something as collateral to secure the loan – this will allow the lender to sell something of yours if you are unable to pay your loan back – but you will also have the option of getting somebody you trust with a good credit score to co-sign the loan. Obviously, they have to trust you as well because if you are unable to repay the loan, the lenders will ask them to do it for you.

Use this information to be better prepared before applying for a loan. Your chances of getting it at a good rate will surely improve.

Stock Market Investing Basics

The stock market has always been an attractive proposal for anyone looking to invest some of their savings with the goal of turning a profit over time, or even over night. And while you can certainly benefit a lot from investing in the stock market, and even make a fortune in short amounts of time, you can also lose big amounts of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this article we’ll look to explain some of the basics of investing in the stock market and hopefully help you understand some of the better practices to follow, while avoiding common mistakes.

So what are some of the good practices you should be applying to make sure your stock market investments are a success? Read on to find out!

Company Background Research

Investing in a company without having any knowledge of their background is suicide. This is what will make or break your investment from the get go. Regardless if you choose to go after bigger more established companies that look like a safer choice, or new companies trying to become the next big thing, you need to understand where they’re coming from. How has their stock evolved in the last few months and years(where applicable). Do they pay dividends? How are their industry trends looking? Is their competition doing well, or doing poorly? These and more variables need to be researched to have a full understanding of that company’s profile.

Company Financial Health

Now that you have a good understanding of a company’s background and their history it’s time to look at their financial health. Are they making steady profits? Do they have any debt? What new products and/or services are they launching, and how are their current products and services selling on the market. Are their stock going on a slight upward trend or downward trend? All of these are things you should be looking into and writing down.

Timing Is Important

Don’t buy stocks when a popular company’s stock has plummeted for some reason you might find odd. This is a common mistakes beginners make, thinking that company is bound to bounce back and you’ll make some easy money buying stock at a discount. There is a reason others are selling their stock, and if you don’t understand why that is, don’t buy. Timing is obviously very important when investing in stocks, but it’s so much better to invest in a well respected company that’s on an upward trend even if the stock price is higher. If it keeps climbing you’ll be happy in the long run.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Another common beginner mistake is to invest all or most of your money in 1 or 2 companies. This might seem appealing at first, but what happens if one of them goes on a downward spiral? You’ll lose most of your investment, and you don’t want that. It’s much better to instead invest that same amount into 10 companies. Sure, your profits might be smaller, but more consistent over the long term, and much safer too. As long as you perform good research, you’ll have every chance of hitting several winners, and the ones that don’t pan out won’t hurt you nearly as much.

Reinvest Some Of Your Profits

Once some time has passed and your portfolio has grown, you should look to reinvest some of your profits into buying new stocks. Of course, you could stop and make a decent amount of profit regularly, but if you always stay active, always adding more to your portfolio while eliminating stocks that might no longer be profitable you will actually be maximizing your profit potential.

These stock market investment basics should help you be much better informed when just starting out with investing into stocks.

What Is A Credit Report And Why It Matters To You

Your credit report and credit score tell an important story about you. They tell the story of your financial history and everything related to every financial decision you’ve made. It is used to grade you on how good you are with managing finances, paying off your debts and how trustworthy you are in terms of paying off what you owe. To financial institutions across the US, having a bad credit score means you are going to get rejected for loans (or have to pay higher interest rates to secure one), rejected for credit and so on. It is something of utmost importance to make sure your credit report is as clean and as positive as possible.

To find your credit history and analyze it for yourself, you can go online and find any website that provides this information from the 3 main institutions: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Either of these institutions will look at your entire financial history, analyze your decision making, grade you and put all of that information into a readable report. Any website that compiles a credit report with data from these 3 institutions will be accurate. You can compile your credit report online for as low as a dollar, and there are several websites that offer this service, so you can take your pick. Not only will you be able to check your credit score, but see your entire credit history.

This is important because checking your credit history and financial decisions on a regular basis will help you in identifying mistakes you’ve done in the past, and try to avoid making them again in the future.

You can consider your credit report to be something like a report card from school. Have bad grades and doors will close for you, have good ones and every door will be open. When you have a positive credit history, it will be incredibly easy to secure that loan(even very big ones) with very low interest rates, while having a poor credit score will obviously make it tough for you to secure any form of financial aid.

One extra thing that will show up on your credit report of significant importance is any fraudulent attempts by others against you in the past. You can even identify possible mistakes made by past lenders that you can then move to correct and clean up from your credit report.

You can use a credit repair company’s help to assist you with removing any errors from your report that could make your score rise back up over 600 in many cases. So before trying to go for a loan, always make sure to check your credit report and try to identify if errors exist. They can make a big difference.

A good credit repair company can also assist you in raising your score even if you have no errors on your report. They will devise a plan you can follow to start repaying some of your debt, which will in turn lead to your credit score rising back to decent levels.

Use this information to always be aware of your financial history, your credit score, and make it easier on yourself when trying to secure a loan.

The Different Types Of Savings Accounts

So everyone is saying you should be saving more money, and obviously that’s always a good idea, but what type of savings account should you use that better suits your needs? There are several options available to you and it can be confusing to pick one without fully understanding the differences and similarities between them. And as saving your money under the mattress isn’t really a viable solution nowadays, let’s look at finding out more about each type of savings account and identify the one that’s perfect for you.

Fixed Rate Bonds

This is the most inflexible type of savings account available. It obviously won’t be suitable for everyone, but here’s how it really works. This type of savings account has 2 important rules: you get a fixed length on the agreement, meaning your money will be fully locked in for the agreed amount of time, and your return rate is fixed as well. So when you agree to a 2 year fixed rate bond you deposit your amount of money and forget about it for 2 years. You won’t be able to withdraw it, and when the 2 years are up you’ll get it back plus the exact amount of interest that was specified when you first made the agreement.

Regular Savers Accounts

These types of accounts will normally pay slightly better rates than instant access account, but you will have to regularly deposit money into them. Basically you decide that every month you want to save a small percentage of your income and regularly deposit it into your saver account. Pretty straightforward. There can be 2 types of regular savers accounts however, the term based, where it’s actually fixed by nature, and the other would be the transactional based accounts where you can both put money and and withdraw money when necessary. You need to make sure you are fully aware of the terms and conditions of these accounts.

Simple Access Accounts

Probably the most popular type, this savings account allows you to have access to it at any time. You may also know it under the description of a ‘rainy day account’ where you can save money with a decent return but also be able to have full access to it at any time. So if you have a money related emergency your funds are easily accessible. You may have a limit to how many withdrawals you can do in a year, but generally speaking, you’ll have access to your funds when you really need them. As always, make sure to fully read and understand the terms and conditions.

Conclusions

Saving money is always important, so look to create a savings account and deposit there regularly. We’ve explained some of the various options available to you, so hopefully you can now make an informed decision that will better suit your saving needs. Remember, a dollar saved is a dollar earned, so always look to deposit extra cash into savings accounts, they’ll add up and you’ll have access to it during a rainy day.