How to Add Value to Your Home [Infographic]

They say there is no better investment than in bricks and mortar, and year after year that sentiment is proven, while there are occasional dips in house prices, overall investing in property is one of the safety forms of investment out there. If you don’t have the budget to invest in a whole house, then investing in your current one can also create value.

One of the fundamental errors that people make when trying to increase the value of their home before selling it is spending too much compared to the increase in value that it will create, homes are a big part of our lives and we have some emotional attachment to them, so making them look as nice as we possibly can and often overpaying is a common pitfall that people make, even when the decision has been made to move on.

Luckily there are plenty of relatively simple and affordable things that we can do to our homes that we can be fairly confident will increase the value, without breaking the bank. So when you’re ready to move up to the next price bracket and you need to squeeze a little more out of the house you’re selling then think of it like a business decision of simple return on investment, otherwise costs can easily spiral out of control.

And while the advice for adding value is fairly standard, ensuring your home is smart-ready and even investing in a few smart devices that potential buyers will see around the house is a great way to increase the perceived value of your home.

So check out this new infographic put together by Florida Realtors  Florida House Sale that gives an idea of how much particular improvements might cost, and the possible ROI that you will see from doing them:  

How to Implement New Professional Services Automation Software

It is a difficult process to choose the right kind of Professional Services Automation (PSA) software for your business. You have to consider several factors first, as it affects all the aspects of your organization. However, just think of it – implementing the right PSA software enables you to bring efficiency across all the areas of your business and gives you an edge among your competitors. If your business is growing rapidly, then a PSA is a great tool to assist you in a sustainable way.

Once you purchase a PSA software, it shouldn’t stop there. Yes, it can solve a lot of problems, especially those manual tasks but having this system will not solve all your woes in an instant. Aside from having the PSA tool, you should have an implementation strategy in mind too.

There are a lot of companies that say the PSA system doesn’t work after a few months and just give up completely without investing that much time, effort and even proper training to their personnel. When you decide to change established processes in your business, sometimes it can be painful as you need time – and this is something most businesses don’t have – also ironically one of the major reasons why they purchased a PSA software in the first place.

So how to implement new Professional Services Automation software effectively in your company?

The process of implementing the system can be quite lengthy and complex, sometimes even you or the vendor would never see it coming. This is to be expected since you purchased an extensive product that will take over major processes. However, once it has been put into place, you can reap great benefits from it. Keep in mind though, that you might encounter several bumps in the road that will test your patience and perseverance for you to achieve proper implementation.

It is important to make a commitment towards effective PSA implementation. There are several thousand other companies that uses this type of system in their business and it has radically changed their business for the better. One thing they did to achieve this feat? They made a commitment to have PSA implemented properly. You will need to choose a dedicated implementation team for this. Since there will be setbacks and progress, it is essential to have a support team that has a high level of commitment. You, as a business owner should also be equally dedicated in working with the team to be able to create the best system you’ll have.

Create a clear plan to figure out what are the steps you should take to get to that point and follow it as closely as possible. This way, the vendor support team or even your own dedicated team can implement and customize the system properly. You will need to ensure that the system you build is something that you want it to be, or else it will just be a waste of time, money and it can even cause more problems later on.

It would be ideal to instantly implement your entire PSA software, although it would be best if you have it implemented first in segments. This way, it can help your business focus on one aspect at a time and then improve the software when needed. Never do a massive overhaul in the system – it will be easier to train the users by segments. When you implement the system one part at a time, it will be less pressure on all parties involved and you will see how beneficial it will be later on.

How To File a Tax Extension

Tomorrow is the official Tax Day of the United States of America.  It is the last day to file your taxes, unless you have requested an extension.  Why would someone need to file an extension?  Perhaps they have not had time to do their taxes or get with a professional.  Maybe they have a complicated tax situation and need more time to get everything together to do a proper filing.  Procrastination is also a big reason for many needing an extension.  Whatever the reason, there is a proper way to file that tax extension.  Approximately 8% of all tax filers file an extension in a given year.  This amount is roughly 14 million Americans. Image result for tax day

What does filing a tax extension get you? By filing a tax extension, you receive an additional 6 months to file your taxes, meaning your new tax deadline would be October 18, 2017.  Filing an extension ultimately equates to more time for one to get his or her taxes in order.

How to file a tax extension:

Online: You can file a tax extension online by either accessing the IRS e-file from a computer or through a tax professional or tax software that uses the e-file program.  You will complete an online version of form 4868 which is the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.  The form can be found HERE.  Filing your extension using the IRS e-file software is safe and secure.  Once you have completed the filing you will receive an electronic confirmation.  You will also be required to estimate your tax liability when you fill out the form.  The form will also allow you to pay a portion of your tax amount if you choose to do so.  Payments can be made online via a direct transfer from your bank, a check or money order.

Paper Form: In addition to filing your extension online, you also have the option to fill out a paper version of form 4868 and mail it in to the IRS.  Paper forms must be mailed to specified mailing addresses depending on which state you are filing from.  When you file your paper form, you also have the option to add a payment if you would like.

Filing an extension would never be ideal in most scenarios.  After all, the majority of Americans do pay too much in taxes throughout the year and most end up receiving a refund.  In 2016, according to the IRS the average refund issued was just over $3,000.  The earlier you file your taxes the earlier you can receive your refund if you are entitled to one.  Maybe you wait to the very last day to file your taxes.  If so, once you get them filed go celebrate and take advantage of the following Tax Day freebies that some stores are offering.

Challenges Facing International Business

2017 looks to be a year of big challenges for business wherever they are in the world. Let’s pin down some of the major incoming challenges for businesses in the next year.

International Law

If you’re operating a business on an international scale – even a retail business that ships internationally – it’s important to have a proper understanding of the laws that govern your business model in different territories. This is particularly important if you’re operating a business model that doesn’t have a direct existing analogue. AirBnB has made a lot of money and adopted huge publicity by breaking new ground and crowdsourcing rental property for holidays, but by moving into Spain without conducting proper checks into its legal standing it found itself on the receiving end of a large fine.

Shipping to, from or within Scandinavia, is another example of international business law that takes time to understand: the customs situation is complicated, and can result in parcels being delayed, lost or the intended recipient having to pay unexpected customs charges in order to pick up their parcel. Unless this is accounted for and handled correctly, this could sink an attempt to move into the Scandinavian market under red tape and customer resentment.

It’s important to conduct proper research and consult experts before you make a move into a new market. You may find it helpful to talk to contacts at other businesses who have made a successful expansion into the territory you are considering. They can identify some of the challenging areas you may find yourself facing, and possibly give you a head start on solving those problems.

Brexit

As Chris Williams puts it, “Uncertainty is never good for business…now we have uncertainty caused by the Brexit result, combined with parliamentary disruption and still no clear plan”.

This is a challenging time: without clear knowledge of what the effects will be of Britain leaving the UK. The knock-on effects, as it disrupts the relationships of businesses around the world doing business in the UK and Europe are hard to predict. You’ll definitely expertise in your business, but it’s hard to know what expertise will be best to help you in this uncertain time.

You would be well served making preliminary enquiries with an interim recruitment company, like Savannah Interim, who are experts at getting temporary expertise into organizations that need it, when they need it.

2017: Starting a Roth IRA

We are now well into the new year, but it is never too late to get your finances off to the right start.  Budgeting should have been and still should be your number one goal for the year.  If you haven’t started a budget, you should.  If you have started a budget, then great, keep it up!  At budgetandinvest.com we talk also about investing and the right ways to do it.  One of the best ways to invest your money is by starting a Roth IRA.  This retirement vehicle has many benefits, the main being that your gains and distributions are tax-free when you take your withdrawals.  How do I start a Roth IRA?  I’m about to show you how.

Image result for roth ira
Starting a Roth IRA

Step 1: Determine if starting a Roth IRA is right for you.  There are a few rules you have to remember when starting.  For example, you can only contribute a maximum of $5500 per year unless you are 50 years of age or older, then you can contribute $6500.  Also, there are income limits to consider.  If you are a single tax filer who makes $300,000 a year, you can’t participate in a Roth IRA.  Additionally, the money you contribute must remain until you are 59 1/2 years old, except for a few exceptions.  For a full list of rules visit: 2017 Roth IRA.

Step 2: Once you have determined that starting a Roth IRA is right for you, the next step is opening up one online.  It is easy to do and requires about ten minutes of your time.  I’d recommend opening it up through one of the following sites:

Vanguard

TD Ameritrade

Fidelity

Step 3: After you have opened your Roth IRA, it is important for you to contribute additional money to it on an ongoing basis.  This allows you to take advantage of Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA).  Ideally you would like to max out your Roth IRA contribution every year if you are able to.  Also, contributing a set amount on a constant basis will allow you to invest your dollars during stock market highs and lows.

Step 4: Stick to a plan, be patient, and watch it grow.  Building a large Roth IRA doesn’t take a stroke of luck or perfect financial acumen, it simply boils down to a few key steps.  Open up a Roth IRA, contribute to it on an ongoing basis (the maximum is preferred), allow your dividends to reinvest, and don’t touch your money.

Whether you have a company 401k, a pension or 403b, a Roth IRA is a great complement to any individual’s retirement plan.  The tax-free income that it can provide in retirement will allow you to offset many of the taxes you will be forced to pay with ordinary retirement accounts and social security.  Don’t hesitate in opening one, the best time to start is now!

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

 

What is the Starting Credit Score?

Image result for starting credit score
Starting Credit Score

Having a credit score can have many benefits.  Wait, having a good or great credit score can have many benefits.  As we go through life, credit becomes an essential tool for an individual to progress through society.  You can use credit to purchase everyday items, a car or a house.  Without credit, some of the essential purchases we rely on to carry us through our lives every day would be unavailable, such as a car for transportation to and from work.  Having a credit score and a good one at that can allow you to get the best deal on large purchases and also helps create a financially responsible person.  But just how does one get a starting credit score, and where do you begin?  I will lay out some of the easiest way to start down the path of a good credit score.

Step 1 to getting a starting credit score:

The first thing you need to do to get a starting credit score is simply to get credit.  The easiest way to do this that I recommend is by opening up a $0 annual fee credit card.  Your monthly limit won’t be all that much, most likely less than $1000.  Commit to making a couple easy purchases on it every month and paying it off at its due date.  For example, a couple tanks of gas or a visit to the grocery store is all it takes to start building your credit.  It is vital to pay off the full amount after a month’s time before the card’s due date

Step 2 to getting a starting credit score:

The second step to building a starting credit score is to continue purchases with your credit card and meet the monthly payment date, along with exploring an additional option of building your score.  If you rent an apartment, sometimes the apartment complex allows you to report your on-time payments to credit agencies.  Additionally, if you have student loans you are paying back, this also will show up on one’s credit report.  Time is a big factor in your credit score.  It usually takes at least six months for you to build your first credit score.  Image result for credit score rangeIf you make on-time payments in full, you can expect a score anywhere in the range of 675 to 740.

Step 3 to getting a starting credit score:

By step 3, you should already have shown a positive pattern to creditors through making payments on a timely manner.  The most important part of this step is just to be patient.  Building a good or great credit score takes time.  Two of the bigger factors that impact your credit score are the length of time you have had credit and the number of accounts you have that required credit.  Chances are as you start building your credit both of these factors won’t be too much in your favor.

In summary, there are many benefits to building a good credit score, but it all boils down to a few simple factors.  Firstly, you need to begin building credit through a $0 annual fee credit card, student loan repayment, etc.  Secondly, you MUST make your full payments and make them ON TIME.  Finally, you need to be patient.  It takes time to build a great credit score, but if you budget correctly and make sure not to spend above your income level then a great score will eventually come.

Saving for a Vacation: Ski Edition

Image result for ski vacation
Saving for a Vacation: Ski Edition

We are currently in the heart of wintertime.  January and February are the coldest months in the United States.  While many people despise cold weather, many can agree that the snow which comes with it can be a nice compliment.  Although summertime seems to be the time when most families vacation, a ski trip during winter allows some families to break the mold.  Saving for a vacation is only half the battle.  While having the available funds to do something enjoyable is important, finding a good deal is also just as important.  I recently planned a ski vacation and will share my six tips on how I saved and budgeted for the vacation.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 1:

If you are like me and enjoy traveling with family and friends, then it is important to have a “Travel” category in your budget.  Setting aside $100 or $200 every month for travel allows the funds to add up and allows you to have a couple enjoyable vacations every year.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 2:

Vacationing for many people means eating out every meal, which can get very expensive.  Packing snacks ahead of time and a quick trip to the grocery store when you arrive can help limit your food costs.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 3:

Plan for transportation ahead of time.  Booking a rental car before you arrive to the airport is often cheaper than waiting until you arrive at the destination to get one.  Kayak.com is a great place to search for the best rental car rates.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 4:

If flying to a destination, use Google Flights to search for the best rates.  Google Flights allows you to search many airlines at once and see the cheapest rates for the best dates.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 5:

When booking a ski vacation, book your lift tickets and ski or snowboard rentals online.  Keystone Resort in Colorado offers online reservations to early bookers for a 20% discount.  Additionally, you can rent your equipment cheaper online ahead of time as well.  By booking my equipment through Christy Sports I was able to save an additional 20% versus the walk-in rate.

Saving for a Vacation Tip 6:

Lodging tends to be one of the more expensive parts of any vacation.  Last year when I traveled to Hawaii, a night at a resort was close to $600 per night; however, a couple friends and myself split a three bedroom Airbnb for less than $150 per night.  Exploring your lodging options can help greatly reduce the cost of any vacation.

As you can see, saving for a vacation is a two-fold strategy.  You first want to make sure you have the available funds.  This is done by creating money in your budget.  Secondly, you want to make sure you find the best deals out there.  I have found that planning for a vacation ahead of time is one of the easiest ways to save on your trip.  Meshing both of these aspects together can help create an enjoyable, budget friendly trip for all.

How to Become Independently Wealthy

Image result for how to become independently wealthy
How to Become Independently Wealthy

Becoming wealthy is a goal many of us hope to achieve in our lifetime.  Whether you want to be wealthy so you can have unbelievable lifelong experiences or to validate your success, the goal is often dreamed of but rarely achieved.  Ken Fisher, the author of The Ten Roads to Riches, discusses the many ways people can achieve wealth throughout their lifetime, ten to be exact.  All of these roads have proven to make someone independently wealthy throughout their lives.  Some are more common than others.  So if the question of how to become independently wealthy has crossed your mind, I will discuss two of the ten Ken illustrates in his book.




How to Become Independently Wealthy: Save and Invest Wisely

I usually sign off my posts with a simple phrase: Budget Smart, Invest Wise.  Budgeting allows you to allocate your funds to various categories, and hopefully one of those categories is savings.  Whether your savings vehicle is an IRA, Roth IRA or other type of investment, saving money is critical to building wealth.  However, saving is only half of the battle to building wealth this way.  The other key ingredient is investing wisely.  Investing wisely means creating a smart investment plan, be it with a financial advisor or through acquired knowledge, that creates a return on one’s investment.  For example, I have found that investing on a monthly basis in a mutual fund that covers the broad range of the U.S. Stock Market to be of most benefit to me.  I recognize that this investment, although it has risk involved, prevents me from being susceptible to the failure of one company or one sector of the market.  Saving and investing wisely is the road most traveled, but it also provides the greatest chance of reward.

How to Become Independently Wealthy: Invent Income

Inventing income can cover a wide spectrum of earning additional money.  For example, if you are a song writer or musician, you can create an ongoing stream of royalties from your lyrics or music.  If you purchase a property that you decide to rent out, you could turn it into a cash flow positive stream of income.  The possibilities are endless.  Maybe you have a specific skill that people are willing to pay for you to teach them.  Perhaps your area of expertise at work can lead to consulting other companies on the side.  Do you have something you’re passionate about that you can create into a blog or website and charge for ad revenue?  Many of us have the tools, knowledge and capabilities to put our talents towards creating additional income.

Becoming independently wealthy or successful all boils down to one’s level of commitment.  If you are committed to becoming independently wealthy, then most likely you can find a way.  Some individuals, like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, created an enormous amount of wealth.  Maybe you want billions like these company creators, or maybe you will be satisfied with millions or even a million.  Only you can determine what being wealthy is to you.

How To Trim Your Budget

Image result for trimming your budget

With the new year in full swing, people are doing their best to stick to the freshly made New Year’s Resolution’s they mapped out for themselves.  The most common resolution always seems to be losing weight.  Instead of going with the status quo resolution this year, why not try to trim something else?  Your budget perhaps?




How to cut my expenses? Is a question often asked by many in order to free up funds in their daily lives.  Maybe they are living paycheck to paycheck, maybe they are trying to save up money for a special purchase, either way trimming your budget is the best way to go about doing this.

For starters, you need to have a budget.  You can download a free budget template and simply put in your income and expenses.  The best part about budgeting is you get to see where your hard-earned money is going every month.  Perhaps you are spending a large portion on eating out, can you bring your lunch instead of going out to eat?  If so, you might be able to not only cut some expenses but trim your waistline also.

The free downloadable budget allows you to choose the expense categories you have for a given month.  Say for example you spend $100 a month on your cellphone bill, can you change service providers and possibly get the monthly expense down to $80 per month?  If so, you have freed up $20 per month or $240 for the entire year.  Can you trim $10 a month off your grocery bill by purchasing generic products versus name brand?  This can be an additional $120 in savings for the year.  Attempting to save as little as $10 to $20 per category for a few of your monthly expenses can add up to some awesome end of the year savings.

Below is a quick easy way to trim your budget:

  • Create a budget: If you don’t already have one, now is the best time to start budgeting. This will determine where you are spending your money every month.
  • Track all of your expenses: See just how much you are spending in the various categories every month. Some may surprise you.
  • Pick 2-4 categories: By selecting a few categories where you think you can cut some expenses you will maximize your yearly savings.
  • See how much you can cut: It can be $5, $10, $20 or maybe even more per category per month. Living on a little less each month won’t change your quality of life for the worse.  Instead, you can use the money saved to enhance it by saving up for a vacation or a future purchase.
  • Don’t incur new expenses: While trimming your budget to save up money is the ultimate goal, don’t incur new expenses during the process. A car payment or a gym membership will quickly eat away at the money you are trying to save.

Stick to it: Trimming your budget will only be beneficial to your wallet if you stick to it.  Developing discipline for sticking to a budget can be tough but also very rewarding.

 

Confessions of A Former Credit Addict

Confessions of A Former Credit Addict
I need to make a confession. My financial life is in ruins. I am badly in need of credit repair. Throughout the past few months, I have searched for ways to atone for my past money mistakes. Methods that will wipe away old debts and missed payments like squeegee water from a windshield car, idling at a stoplight in Manhattan.




My past misdeeds include filling up my first credit card with hundreds of dollars in bar tabs during freshman year of college. Walking through the quad one day, I came upon a folding table loaded with free t-shirts bearing the logo of a mid-Atlantic bank. I had to have one of those shirts. So I signed up for a credit card with a limit of $800, despite being a full-time student with no income. And promptly spent most of it at local pizza places and a T.G.I. Friday’s where my fraternity brothers bartended.

All that semi-astute financial decision making left me as unprepared fawn in the wilds of the real world during my 20s. I spent freely, saved little and cared less. Debts were left to collection agencies and leases were handled by my parents and girlfriends.

So I have made it a mission to find and call out the best credit repair companies throughout the land. Today I own a house and 2 cars, living a good school district. All thanks to taking advantage of the great credit repair services from places like Sky Blue Credit Repair.

Credit repair is a necessary service these days. The country is under duress, with household after household struggling under the weight of overleveraged houses and unsustainable credit card debt. That is a recipe for financial disaster.

With all that credit card debt, individuals and families end up victims of horrible, terrible, no-good credit. That means that, more than ever, credit repair is needed by many people. SkyBlue Credit Repair is particularly skilled at helping consumers decide what to dispute and when to do it. It has a very accelerated dispute process because it takes 15 items at once (5 from each of the 3 credit bureaus) and disputes them all at the same time. For those clients with numerous negative items, Sky Blue could be the answer to faster score improvements.

Sky Blue even goes as far as to offer a 90-day, risk-free guarantee, meaning that if you are not satisfied for any reason during that time period, just tell them why and you can get your money back. Their pricing is reasonable: $59 to set up and $59 a month after that.

For more information and reviews about skybluecreditrepair.com, you can feel free to visit their website.