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Don’t Get Caught Making These 8 Newlywed Money Missteps

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Okay. No one is perfect. We all have a few money bad habits. A penchant for shoes, loans to friends who never make payments, a credit card bill unpaid too long. As you join your financial lives, owning up to your money gaffes is absolutely imperative so you can avoid major muddles later. A study funded by Smart Money magazine and Redbook found that more than 70 percent of couples talked to their partner about money at least once a week. Here are the major rules of what NOT to do.

1. Don’t keep money secrets

The most heated arguments come about when you’ve tried to hide a financial infidelity. Or at least that may be how your spouse sees it. Sometimes it’s just a difference in attitude, background and expectation. Most people have been away from their parents and earning incomes for several years before marriage without being accountable to anyone. “Whoops! Didn’t I tell you my credit score was below 600?” is not something your spouse wants to find out after you’ve started looking for a home loan. So, spend time talking about your debts, past poor purchases, and financial frailties. Together as a team you’ll be able to work through them and be stronger as a couple.

2. Don’t skip making a spending plan

Let’s face it; a budget is just too tedious and confining. Think of it more as a spending plan where you decide what your spending priorities are going to be and how they match against your goals and income expectations. You’ll be combining two spending habits as well as two saving habits into one plan. Write down what your income is likely to be; conservatively. Don’t count that raise until is shows up in your paycheck. Write down the bills that MUST be paid every month including the pro rata portion of those paid only once or twice a year. Don’t forget debt payments, savings, and ATM cash. Lastly, try to estimate those things that seem to go up and down every month like food, clothes, restaurants, and utility bills.

Although there is generally never any ‘extra’ money, don’t gloss over finding some to save on a monthly basis. Otherwise, emergencies will persistently cause you to come up short and become a major source of marital stress down the road. There are several good budget worksheets on the web, or call me and I will help you find one tailored to your specific needs.

Designing your spending plan is a great starting point for discussing short and long term goals like vacations, kid’s college, and eventual financial freedom. So you’ll get a chance to build your relationship while you talk about spending.

3. Don’t push the money job on one person

Which one of you sits down and pays the bills? Who files the taxes? Who makes the investment decisions? While one of you may have stronger skills and be more interested in finance, it is a mistake to hand the job(s) to one of you alone. The result is that the second person loses perspective, the chance for valuable education, and potential skills that may be called upon in a crunch. You may need to cover when the other is sick, traveling, or overly busy at some point in the future. I’m not advocating that every financial detail be a joint effort. It’s more important to be included in the discussion of some details on a regular basis about the day-to-day activities. Share the passwords and account information regularly as well as occasionally sit with the person as the bills are paid, the checkbook balanced, and the investments researched. And lastly, set aside time for a regular chat about your progress on spending plan, debt, emergency funds, and investments at least monthly.

4. Don’t let your debt become a ball-and-chain

A Dunn & Bradstreet study found that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards than when using cash. Your wedding alone probably gave you credit card debt before you even began your marriage. The perfect wedding, the beautiful honeymoon, and the new furniture needed to blend your lives can add up to a lot of dollars to pay back.Regardless of which spouse brought the debt into the marriage, paying it off and keeping it off is now a job for both of you. Come up with a plan to pay debt off. Merge that into your monthly spending plan and review debt regularly.

If you find after a few months that your debt isn’t going down, try a few tricks. Take a vacation from your credit cards by putting them in a drawer. Put all nonessential purchases on a 30-day wish list before buying. Put a big-red sticker on your credit card to remind you of the evils of overspending. Get help. Anything. Before your debt becomes a huge problem in your marriage.

5. Don’t let everything become a battleground

Don’t sweat the small stuff. A few lattes’ a week will not make you go broke. Nor will getting your nails done monthly. It’s not one thing that will cause money breakdown, it is lifetime patterns. Buying name brand cereal vs. off-brand for a dollar less is not the issue, but whether you must always buy name brands adding $50-$100 a month more to an otherwise stressed financial shortfall. Marriage is about communication and compromise. While it may be simpler to blame your spouse for their ‘spendy’ ways and pick an argument about the cereal, that ultimately won’t solve the problem. Discuss your spending plan and the little items that go into it at your regular money chat. Make a goal of finding the next wasted $100 a month together by turning it into a brainstorm not a blame game.

6. Don’t forget emergencies

As a consumer and as a financial planner, I’ve noticed that the majority of money surprises are predominantly bad ones. An unexpected medical expense, a car that breaks down, a roof that leaks, other life events whose solution always seems to require money. So it’s vitally important that you put a little away every month for the unexpected. Even if you can only start with a little, just start. If you don’t have three months of living expenses stashed away, (currently regarded as the minimum needed) start with a smaller goal. Start with $1000 as your goal. Then, increase it to $1500. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting till your credit cards are paid off. Having emergency cash can help break your dependence on credit cards.

7. Don’t automatically merge all your money

The Smart Money magazine study found most couples (64 percent) merge all of their money into joint accounts when they get married. However, this isn’t always the best option for everyone. Having your own personal account with some splurge money can help avoid fights over the little expenses like lattes and haircuts. It’s fine to have a joint account that the household and family bills are paid from if both contribute proportionally from your paychecks.It’s also important to keep old credit card debt in the original person’s name even if you are both working to pay it off. That will give you some control over your individual credit scores and make sure you both maintain individual credit history. Lastly, retirement accounts such as IRA, Roth, and 401(k) are required to be in one person’s name. Both of you should be saving for retirement, not just one. An exception would be temporarily when one of you has a 100% employer match and that is the total saving the two of you can afford right now.

8. Don’t ignore your credit score

Right now we are in a credit crisis caused by home mortgages given too freely the past several years. This has caused the banks to go the other way requiring better credit and higher down payments for home loans than in the past. A better credit rating can get you lower interest rates and lower monthly payments. If your score is low, it can take years of diligent, on time payments to improve. Better to start now before you are ready to buy a home. Check your credit on the web by searching for “free annual credit report.”

Wow. That’s a lot to talk about. Blending two lifestyles is part of the joy of marriage. No one is perfect; so take it slow and bear your financial soul to your soul mate.

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The Consequences of Stealing – Theft and the Law

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Theft can include armed robbery, burglary, theft by check, forgery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, fraud, false statement to a credit agency, shoplifting and the list goes on. The consequences for stealing range from a Class C misdemeanor to felony charges, usually depending on the monetary value of what was taken. If the value of the stolen item is under $1,500 then the perpetrator will most likely be convicted of a misdemeanor. This can result in a simple fine and/or community service, but could also involve jail time, depending on the circumstances. If the item stolen was of great value, the accused will most likely be charged with a felony and will have to serve prison time. At the time of a hearing the court will be notified if there is more than one offense on the suspect’s record and this will also affect the sentencing. People who steal generally do not do it just one time.

It is important to note that in some states, stealing of any kind is considered a “crime of moral turpitude”. This means the act of stealing is not a favorable action in community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will have a permanent criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. This can have negative effects on the wrongdoer’s character personally, legally and with future employment opportunities.

One of the most common forms of stealing is shoplifting. Shoplifting is the deliberate act of taking an unpaid item from a place of business and it happens more than we are aware. A person can be convicted of shoplifting even if they don’t walk out of the store, but are found with hidden merchandise in their possession. In some states, there is even a “law of Parties” meaning that if you are with a friend who is caught stealing in a retail establishment, you can also be prosecuted even though you didn’t intend on stealing. An average of $10 billion dollars’ worth of goods is stolen from retail businesses each year. The numbers and statistics are staggering. We all pay the price for people who commit these acts by having to pay more for products when companies pad prices to recuperate losses from shoplifters. The law does not look kindly on people who shoplift.

Bottom line, stealing is never a good idea and can land you in a world of trouble. It will affect the offender in many negative ways for the rest of their lives. Stealing also affects everyone in the community, in one way or another, which is why the laws are harsh. Thieves may think that they can get away with stealing, but eventually they will get caught and will be forced to face severe consequences.

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The Multiple Uses Of A Backup Email

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A backup email has so many uses that it really is essential for anyone that has an email to have a backup. A backup email is basically known as a secondary email that is most likely linked to your primary email.

The first use of such a thing is for the password recovery system of your primary email. Most of the time your primary email will contain all the important messages from your contacts such as a memo from the boss, a greeting from your family and so much more; your primary email is also where your contacts will be stored.

With such important data you will of course protect it with a password that only you would know. But what if you accidentally forgot your password, what can you do? Well you can use a basic feature that virtually all email providers have: the secret question feature.

This feature is where you are asked a series of questions, mostly around 2, that you have previously chosen and that only you know the answer to. The problem with this is that most of the time if the email you’re using has been around for a few years there is a big chance that you might have forgotten what the answer is; this is where a backup email comes into play.

You can choose to have your password be sent to your backup email. This provides you with fewer problems because you only have to check your backup email as opposed to having to try and remember what the answers to your secret questions were.

Other uses of a backup email would be either as a spam receiver or as storage for important messages. If you’re into the habit of subscribing to a lot of newsletters you will most likely receive a lot of spam mail and no matter how you filter those emails there will still be some that will be able to make it to your inbox.

What you could do is you could use your secondary email as the email that you enter when you subscribe to anything, that way all the spam mail will go to that email and you could just check it when you have the time to.

If you don’t see your backup as a spam receiver then you could use it as a password recovery email and as a backup storage for important messages, contacts and files. Ideally, everything that is digitized is supposed to have a backup so that when the primary data is lost there is still something that can bring it back.

What you could do is you could forward all important emails, save all contacts as well as store files in your secondary email so that you have a backup just in case you delete those things in your primary email.

A backup email has a lot of uses to the point that having one is turning out to be a necessity; just remember to try and have your backup with a different provider so that you don’t get troubled by ID security measures.

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3 Benefits of Web Analytics

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Web analytics is the process of measuring site statistics and analyzing traffic behavior. Here are there of the main benefits of web analytics.

It is typical for any business to do some data analysis. Data analysis is used to determine sales, profit, loss rate, and market interest. However, in terms of establishing a strong e-presence for your website, there is one tool that you could used in order to collect necessary data that you would need to promote your site.

Web analytics has been gaining steady popularity among websites, blogs and portals. It is used to analyze market trends and to identify website users or visitors. It is also used to determine the behavior of website users. It is a great tool to determine your latest website trends and your visitors’ or users’ preferences in terms of site features. Here are the benefits of web analytics.

Number 1: It helps monitor your visitors and users

With web analytics, you would know how long your visitor stayed in your website, who they are and where they came from. You will be able to know their clickstreams, the keywords they used, and how they came to be in your website (referrer pages, search engines, etc). You would be able to determine how many times a user or a visitor returned to your website and which pages were given preference.

In fact, a web analytics tool would tell you your website usage down to the last specifics. It would tell you about your visitor’s nationality and language. It can even pinpoint the city of origin. Of course, it will tell you the IP addresses and the host used for access. Further analysis would reveal if your visitors were there to actually check out your site or if they were mere strays. Most certainly, you will know how many visitors you get daily.

Number 2: It can help you optimize your website

Once you have carefully studied the actions of your visitors or web users, you would be able to act accordingly in order to optimize your website. You would also have an idea about the things that need changing and the aspects of your website that may appeal more to your market. You would know which pages are most viewed and which are basically ignored. You would be able to adjust certain aspects of your website that need improvement or adjustments. You could then fix any technical problems; or you could also improve, streamline or reshape site navigation to better assist your site users or visitors.

Number 3: It can help you formulate a sales and e-marketing plan

Web analytics will be able to assist you in preparing for an e-marketing plan and course of action. This will be more effective because your plan would be based on actual facts and not mere probabilities. You would be able to really know what your market wants. By tracking the items which were highly viewed, you would learn which products received the highest response. You would also be able to enhance other programs that you have already employed like pay-per-click or PPC advertising. You would be able to get more clients, as well as monitor and keep your clients interested.

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Business Technology in Small Business

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Business technology in small businesses can mean a lot of different things and can be interpreted in many different ways. But it will always come down to the same thing – the technology implemented and used by a business must provide the maximum amount of efficiency for the minimum amount of cost and maintenance.

Technology in business must be well planned and implemented in a sensible manner and a plan for technology management must be developed and adhered to. This may mean moving more of your business systems onto the internet to increase the mobility of your business, or identifying and investing in new systems which will do the same job but in a more efficient manner.

How Can the Internet Help My Business?

If you are looking to save money for your business, the internet is an excellent place to start. If your business includes a small call centre to provide customer service, you could save a lot of money in the long run by investing in changing the phone system to an IP telephony system. This would mean that rather than incurring massive phone bills using normal phones, all calls would be routed over the internet and customers would be able to call in using a normal local telephone number.

It is much cheaper to call someone through the internet than through a standard phone line and the savings you would make here would more than cover the cost of implementing such a system.

You would need to ensure that your business’ internet connection is powerful enough to manage this of course. If there is not enough bandwidth to accommodate all of the calls being made, the sound quality can suffer. As long as both parties can hear what the other is saying, this does not have to be too much of an issue – making allowances for this would need to be part of your business’ strategy for technology management.

What about My People in the Field?

If you have a large team of sales reps in the field, the savings which you could enjoy through the implementation of internet based telephony can be carried on to this side of your business as well. Nowadays, there are many mobile phones available which are capable of making calls over the internet using the 3G network. This would mean a possible upgrade of your corporate mobile phone contract and possibly some retraining for your staff – but ultimately it would save you money on phone bills.

How do I Know that My Company is Now More Efficient?

Technology in business also encompasses the assessment and monitoring of work performed by the employees. With modern networking and targeted technology management, it would be possible to not only make your company run more efficiently for less money; but also allowing you to keep an eye on exactly what is going on in real-time.

There are many products available which will allow you to monitor your employees’ statistics – be it the amount of time they are spending on each call or the amount of time they take to finishing each file before they are able to move onto the next one. Through this, you would be able to address any possible issues which may arise and discuss them with the employee.

Business technology should broaden the horizons. You should be able to do more for spending less. Something as simple as making phone calls cheaper or something as involved as identifying areas of concern in an employees performance and having more information which can be used to develop strategies for the employee to avoid this.

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Review of the BCIT GIS Program: A Boon to Canadian GIS Job Seekers

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When it comes to gaining an edge in the GIS job market, it pays to invest in an Advanced Diploma program to supplement the education you may have gained with regard to environmental science, geography or urban planning. While students often gain a cursory knowledge of GIS through their undergraduate work, it really does require a GIS focused program to set yourself apart in terms of the marketable GIS skills that employers often prefer.

I’ve examined several post graduate GIS programs in Canada and the US and I’m going to outline some of the best available. The first is that of the British Columbia Institute of Technology located in Burnaby. BCIT offers an Advanced Diploma in GIS that is designed for those with a university or college degree in a related discipline. BCIT offers the program to students on a full-time or part-time basis. This is a challenging program that will give you much of the technical knowledge you need to help set yourself apart in today’s job market.

The BCIT GIS Advanced Diploma program puts a strong emphasis on computer programming. They want graduates to not only be very skilled in customization and creating applications, but creating web applications as well. Students learn GIS as they apply to Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP among others. Thus, you will need to know about programming concepts and design before enrolling, though not necessarily familiar with any of the above languages in particular.

It should be noted that BCIT has admitted strong candidates whom did not have significant programming experience. In these cases, staff directed the potential applicants toward online programming tutorials to ensure they could gain basic programming fundamentals and to see if they would enjoy the programming aspect of the GIS courses. Students also use the web to present materials and thus need to know how to use HTML and an HTML editor before beginning courses. Students also find it highly beneficial to brush up on high-school math skills before classes begin.

In addition to the emphasis on programming, the BCIT program will give you an understanding in GIS as it relates to database structure, remote sensing, cartography as well as spatial analysis relating to both environmental and business applications. Students get hands-on experience with the latest ESRI and Autodesk GIS software and you will also be exposed to IT, management and organization issues as they relate to GIS. All your work culminates with a project/practicum course to gain real-world experience with a GIS employer.

Applicants must have completed a university degree, BC associate’s degree or have a diploma of technology before entering the program. Applicants with an international degree will need to submit for a full evaluation of credentials. In applying, students will also need to provide a resume and write a letter explaining their interest in the program and how they will prepare for the challenges it will bring. This is because the program is highly intensive with 30 hours per week in labs and lectures and a further 20 to 30 hours per week in coursework.

Past graduates explained to me that BCIT enabled them to stay within their particular fields of geology and marine biology respectively because they developed GIS as an extremely marketable skill through BCIT’s program.

BCIT’s relationship with employers for the final project/practicum can be extremely valuable because newfound GIS skills can be combined with a degree discipline which can lead to employment in the student’s chosen niche.

It should be noted that BCIT offers several GIS programs. They offer many of their introductory level GIS courses to people that are just looking to gain a working knowledge of how to use GIS applications by taking one or two courses. BCIT also offers a Bachelor of Technology Degree in GIS, aimed at students who, when they enter the program, have an Associate Degree or a Diploma of Technology and do not yet have a Bachelor’s Degree. The B.Tech in GIS consists of the same technical courses as the Advanced Diploma. As well, to earn the degree, the student must complete additional Management and Liberal Arts credits, and also complete six months of employment in the GIS field. Furthermore, in the fall of 2012, the Advanced Diploma program was offered in its entirety online through distance learning.

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MLM Autoship – What You Need to Know

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In MLM network marketing, autoship is the monthly shipment of product to a distributor. It is usually handled by an automatic charge to a credit card kept on file at the parent company. It is used to maintain a distributor’s commission level in the company by meeting a specific minimum sales volume.

Let’s face it. You’ve got to have some sort of autoship in MLM network marketing. That’s where the long-term residual income comes from. The real power of network marketing comes from leverage. With autoships and leverage, network marketers can earn significant incomes from the efforts of many people.

However, many times autoships slow the growth of, and sometimes even destroy mlm businesses.

When an autoship is way overpriced, when it’s based on luxury rather than necessity items, when it’s things you can go to town and buy for less, the autoship can be bad for business.

Many times, the autoship is just too much of the company’s product. When a distributor is asked to purchase more product than they can consume or sell, it’s a real problem. And it’s just wrong to let distributors stockpile products in their garage or basement to qualify for bonuses.

I’ve always been a firm believer in the concept of being my own best customer. In fact, when a business partner suggests that he or she doesn’t want to use your product or service, that’s a clear signal that partner is not in the game. People like that should not even qualify for your time. They probably need to find another business and sponsor.

The autoship has to make sense. Consider it carefully when choosing a network marketing company. Align yourself with a company whose products are a necessity rather than a luxury. Build an MLM business of solid residual income with products people really want.

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