How Working from Home Increases Productivity

How Working from Home Increases Productivity

Now that many people are working remotely, businesses are questioning whether working from home increases productivity or reduces it. If it increases productivity, this could help transition more people out of the office to work from home. Although employees have more freedom in how they manage their time, studies suggest this has a positive effect on overall productivity. Contrary to what you may have thought, people actually waste less time at home. While this may not be true for all of us, it may have an impact on how companies structure their workforce.

What the Research Says About Working from Home

Prodoscore, a California based software company, conducted research to examine the workforce trends as more people work remotely. Their analysts compared data from 30,000 of its users to from March/April 2020 to the same time frame in 2019. According to the statistics, they found 47% increase in workers’ productivity. There were several data points they compared to draw these conclusions. For example, the number of phone calls went up 230%, email activity increased 57%, and messaging chats on internal platforms rose 9%.

However, it is important to remember that several variables impact the numbers to determine if working from home increases productivity. For instance, time of day and the day of the week greatly affect performance. On average, people’s average start time was 8:32 a.m. and end time 5:38 p.m. However Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are most productive for workers, in that order. Productivity decreases drastically on Fridays and Mondays. The window of time between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. is when workers are the most active.

Another Airtasker survey from 2019 interviewed 1,004 full-time workers, approximately half of whom were remote workers. They discovered that people worked 1.4 more days each month from home, largely due to no commute. Over the course of time, it adds up to 16.8 more days a year. Workers felt they had more free time without the daily commute. Many also said they would be willing to make concessions to continue working from home in the future.

How Working from Home Has Affected My Productivity

Like any major change, it took time to adjust. Although I have been working from home for years, the transition was not a smooth one. In the beginning, my productivity severely decreased because I was easily distracted. I had become used to supervisors or managers checking in on my progress. Working from home, no one was there to keep me on task. So, I could easily flit from one household chore to the next, or lose time scrolling through social media.

Once the decreased productivity affected my income, I took measures to improve. My greatest challenge was focusing on my work. It was hard to focus without a dedicated office space and constant foot traffic. To fix this major obstacle, I set up a desk space and began working late into the evenings when everyone was sleeping. Although I miss workplace collaboration and socializing with coworkers, I would likely also make concessions to continue working from home. With a few minor tweaks in my work environment and my schedule, I also found that working from home increases my productivity.

How to Increase Productivity Working from Home

One of the hardest parts of working from home is maintaining separation between your work and home life. Trying to do too much at once means your attention is divided. Therefore, the overall quality of the work is compromised. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to focus and prove that working from home increases productivity.

Maintain a Separate Work Space

The first thing you must do is find a quiet spot to set up your home office. You need to create boundaries to manage your time at work and at home. Maintaining a separate work space is vital for a professional environment. Get into a routine and condition yourself to do certain tasks in designated areas. While you want to be comfortable during the work day, you should avoid working from bed or the couch.   Scientists have long warned us of the negative effects of working from bed. So, it is better to create good habits in the beginning that promote productivity.

Keep to a Regular Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule also assists in the transition out of the office. It also let’s your family know when you are available to take care of things at home. Furthermore, it defines time when you need to focus on work responsibilities. Plan your day strategically, utilizing the hours you are most productive to take on more difficult tasks. Some people, like me, find it is easier to do the boring, more mundane tasks during busier times of the day. Following a schedule also makes it easier to confine work stress to hours you are on the clock, and make the most of your personal time when you are not.

Take Breaks to Increase Productivity

You should also schedule and actually take your breaks during the work day. Your mind and body need time to recharge and decompress. Since you have more flexibility when working from home, step away from your desk. Break up the day and get outside for some fresh air. Short breaks boost overall productivity by preventing burnout. A simple change of environment can reduce tension when problems arise and help you approach them with a new perspective.

Stay Connected to Your Coworkers

Human resources are an under-valued asset in many companies. The way people communicate and cooperate in the professional atmosphere builds cohesion. The bonds we create with our coworkers have boosted both efficiency and productivity.

However, one aspect that we have lost while working from home are social interactions with our coworkers. We are no longer able to catch up around the water cooler or vent to your work place bestie over coffee. But, it is still important to engage face to face interactions as often as possible. It’s easy to use technology to recreate these social interactions and make us feel less isolated from one another. Although you may not be able to meet in the conference room, you can schedule Zoom calls with your team. Another option is to reach out through in-house messaging, schedule a daily phone call, or Facetime during one of your breaks. One reason working from home increases productivity is the convenience of digital connections.

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Time Over Money: Reasons Why Time Is More Valuable Than Money

Time or Money: which is more valuable? This has been a hotly debated topic throughout human history, yet the question still remains. Although, it seems pretty clear that the answer should be time over money. I would even argue that time is the most valuable resource. If you are money-poor but time rich, you may feel otherwise. However, people find many reasons why time is more valuable than money.

Why You Should Choose Time Over Money

7 Reasons to Choose Time Over Money

1. You can’t buy more time.

You can use time to make money, but money can’t buy you more time. It is impossible to create additional hours in the day, no matter who you are. Time is the great equalizer. Everyone receives 24 hours in a day, no more, no less.

However, the difference lies in how you spend it. Someone who accomplished a great deal in their lifetime likely spent it learning and mastering new skills. One thing is for certain, though. Success requires time and hard work in order to achieve your ambitions. These things simply cannot be bought.

2. In the end, people ask for more time, not money.

When people enter their final days, you rarely hear them ask for more money. Most wish they had more time with the ones they love or doing things they never got to do. While money can greatly improve your quality of life, it cannot extend it.

Many people even keep a ‘bucket list’ of things they want to do before they die. The entire concept builds upon the idea that you have a limited time to complete them. If you are among this group, you already understand why sometimes you must choose time over money. You cannot put a price on memories and time spent with loved ones.

3. You need time to spend money.

You could have all the money in the world, but you would still need time if you wanted to spend it. While some may want to accrue money just for the sake of having it, most would prefer to splurge a little. The world’s elite have fortunes to support lavish lifestyles to last a hundred lifetimes over. However, it would still require more time than you think to spend $1 billion.

Money holds no value to you after you are gone. Certainly, it can benefit those you leave behind, but it has no use to you personally. Since you can’t take money with you when you die, it further proves that time is more valuable than money.

4. There is more potential with a day off than with a day’s pay.

The hours you spend at work are rigidly defined in financial terms. Your time has a set value when you are on the clock. Although, how you spend your free time is completely up to you. And what you do with that time is only limited by your own desires. Greater things have been achieved in a single day than with what you would take home after an eight hour shift.

Furthermore, who you spend your time with is equally valuable. Being present and enjoying the company of friends and family is priceless. On the other hand, it is just as vital to ensure that you take time for yourself. Your mental health can also greatly benefit from some time alone and self-care. However, time is the essential factor.

5. Only time can heal certain wounds.

Just as time is the great equalizer, it is also the great healer. Some hurts run deeper than any scan can read. Modern medicine and technology are ineffective to treat these wounds. Even time cannot completely erase the scars. However, time does help the pain fade from memory.

Time also grants us the gift of perspective. It also grants us more objectivity as time passes. We can look back through new eyes to analyze and reflect. This distance can make it easier to identify our strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to grow as people. These kinds of lessons can only be gained through life experience.

6. You can’t regain lost time.

Losing money is a terrible thing. However, given enough time and wise financial planning, you can earn it back. Once time slips passed you, there is no way to regain lost moments. No amount of money can recreate missed holidays, birthdays, and other important milestones. When you view time from this perspective, time becomes an invaluable resource.

Time is certainly not a resource I want to waste either. This point should also make you evaluate how you spend your time. Wasting time in front of a TV or with toxic people may not be the best use of it. Consider what you really want from life and who you want to spend it with. After re-evaluating, you may have a new set of priorities.

7. Choosing time over money promotes greater long-term happiness.

A recent study investigated the correlation between time and happiness. Specifically in relation to the survey question in which 80 percent of working adults wish they had more time with their families. Many participants responded that they constantly felt rushed due to the demands of their professional and personal lives. The term “time famine” describes the overwhelming feeling of these pressures.

Those who said they felt time scarcity were less happy and also more prone to depression and anxiety. Focusing on time over money can relieve this stress and promote greater long-term happiness. The key is in time management. While these obligations will always be there, finding ways to save time can help us spend more of it with those we love.

Prioritizing Time Over Money

These are just seven reasons why time is more valuable than money. In truth, you likely already have more money than time remaining. Perhaps you will feel the same once you realize that when the sands of time slip through your fingers, it’s gone. It may have you reprioritizing so you can maximize the sand still left in your own hour glass.

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Record Setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Record Sales

Most households this year likely came home to a similar scene after the annual shopping event of the holiday season. There was stack of boxes neatly piled and waiting beside the door when we arrived home Tuesday afternoon. Each one contained deeply discounted merchandise bought online during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Each purchase also contributed to the record breaking sales set this year.

While these two shopping days have always seen a spike in sales, this year’s spending eclipsed all previous years. What caused this uptick in numbers? And how much more revenue is now generated through online sales? These are both interesting questions that are being closely watched by both retailers and analysts alike.

Online Shopping during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is a high holiday for those who love shopping. Since the birth of the internet, Cyber Monday has also been added to this list. People who love a good bargain would line up for hours or even camp out the night before the store opened. They would do all of this just to snag the best deals on their holiday purchases. However, 2020 has been a year of many changes. While most headlines report one depressing story after the next, retailers are celebrating record setting sales from online shopping.

Black Friday

This year’s spending far exceeded all previous Black Friday sales. Americans spent $9 billion, which is up 21.6% from last year according to data from Adobe Analytics. Analysts calculated that online shoppers in the U.S. spent $6.3 million per minute. That equates to about $27.50 per person. If you do the math on all your own purchases, you might be surprised how conservative this number is in comparison.

One of the most important numbers to look at though is where purchases are being made. Roughly $3.6 billion came through purchases on smart phones or mobile devices. This figure rose 25.3% from the year before. Overall, these purchases accounted for 40% of all sales this year.

Cyber Monday

Following Black Friday, Cyber Money superseded even these numbers. This shopping day broke the record as the largest internet shopping day ever in the U.S. American shoppers spent a shocking $10.8 billion on things like smart phones, electronics, and toys. Cyber Monday spending rose 15.1% from last year.

These spending habits and record numbers make more sense when you look at the current conditions in the U.S. Most of us are spending more time at home in general due to social distancing measures. Whether it is because you work remotely or simply because fewer places are open, it means you are likely spending more time online.

Biggest Winners from Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Calculating total sales this year will be a bit more difficult due to the extended sales throughout the holiday season. So far, Americans have spent $106.5 billion. However, Adobe Analytics estimates this figure to reach more than $180 billion in online sales this year. So, the nagging question is who are the biggest winners from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020?

Amazon is continuing to see huge gains in the fourth quarter. According to an analyst from Truist Securities, Amazon earns 42 cents on every dollar spent equating to billions of dollars in profits. Other companies like Costco, Etsy, and Target each hit all-time trading highs on Black Friday. Many stores have spread out their promotions for longer period to capitalize on the trend of current online shopping as well.

Even though many large retailers closed on Thanksgiving to prevent large crowds, some hot ticket items were still hard to come by. For example, the Xbox One X and PlayStation 5 consoles sold out early and likely won’t be available until next quarter. Even online people were kept waiting to buy Lego’s. It seems like limited hours and heavy online traffic cannot keep seasoned shoppers from their prize.

Factors Affecting Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Greater Online Presence

Online studies show people are spending more time at home during the pandemic. This is a golden opportunity for online retailers to boost their profits. Many larger retailers have been advertising deals since October to draw more online traffic. Since most people are avoiding public places, they must depend upon online sales to compensate. According to the numbers, many retailers surpassed their expected profit margins.

The Convenience Factor

Another factor that added to the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday was ease of accessibility. Now that people are able to shop online, they can avoid the crowded malls and stores which everyone dreads. Many stores also offered curbside pick-up to ensure shoppers’ safety. Not only was there less hassle, but also prevented in-store conflicts that have incited violence in the past.

Extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Furthermore, most retailers have extended their timeframe so people can take advantage of holiday deals. This strategy has been especially effective with special savings only available online. Many retailers kicked off the holiday savings to coincide with Amazon Prime Day as well. With the bombardment of discounts and advertising, it is hard to resist the urge to impulse to buy.

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Impact Personal Finances

Increased advertising and targeted marketing made it even more likely that you participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. However, this does not bode well for your monthly budget. I always get slightly nervous and more conscious of my finances before the holidays. The pressures to host friends and family and find the perfect gifts are not kind to your credit cards.

As someone with a history of credit card debt, you can easily understand my hesitancy to buy anything during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To resist the urge, I removed all the shopping apps and avoided my smart phone as much as possible. This year, I planned ahead and made a list. I intend to stick to it instead of splurging on things I don’t need just because they are on sale. This mindset helped me stay within my budget and prevent overspending during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. However, if you are someone who continues to struggle with debt, contact a debt relief counselor to help you get back on track in the new year.

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People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

When Do People Make Their Wealth?

We all know the success stories of prodigies and young billionaires who made their wealth at an early age. However, the compiled research shows that it takes approximately 32 years to become a billionaire. This means most billionaires did not find immediate success. In fact, the average age of business founders is about 40. So, if you are still hoping to join Forbes’ list of billionaires, there is still time. Here are 10 people who made their wealth later in life.

10 People Who Made Their Wealth Later in Life

1. Donald Fisher (37) – $3.3 billion

Donald Fisher claimed his success as the founder of Gap Inc. after a career as a real estate developer. At 37, he launched the company in San Francisco by selling music and clothing. Eventually, he branched out across the United States and introduced affiliated stores Old Navy and Banana Republic. At the time of his death in 2009, his net worth was $3.3 billion.

2. Vera Wang (40) – $270 million

Vera Wang

This former figure skater turned fashion icon made her wealth later in life as well. After Vera Wang failed to qualify for the Olympics, she started at Vogue after college. She eventually became editor-in-chief of the magazine. Not only did she maneuver her way to the top of the corporate world, but also became a highly influential voice in directing fashion trends.

However, she made her fortune after she started designing her own gowns at age 40. Today, Vera Wang couture and clothing are highly sought after by the Hollywood elite. Moreover, they regularly appear on runways around the world. According to the Forbes list, Wang is currently worth $270 million.

3. Martha Stewart (40) – $400 million

Martha Stewart

In her early years, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker on Wall Street. After she discovered her true talents, she began building her brand. First, she owned a catering business, then published cookbooks, and founded her own magazine. Martha Stewart became a billionaire when her company went public in 1999.

However, things quickly went south for her. She served 5 months in prison for obstruction of justice and making false statements. Since then the company has been sold twice. However, she has rebuilt her reputation and her brand since then. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she is estimated to be worth about $400 million today. Martha Stewart is an unusual example of someone who made their wealth later in life, lost it, and managed to reclaim success.

4. Sam Walton (44) – $15 billion

Sam Walton

Everyone knows the Walmart name, but not many know that Sam Walton didn’t strike it rich until well after 40. He claimed his spot on this list for founding the retail giant in 1962. After a successful career at JC Penney, he left to manage his own store at 44. One thing that set him apart from his competition was his emphasis on logistics. He took a single sporting goods store and created a global empire. Today his family is among the wealthiest people in the world. Their net worth far surpasses Sam Walton’s $15 billion when he died in 1992.

5. David Duffield (47) – $13 billion

David Duffield is the creator of several software companies including PeopleSoft, Integral Systems, and Information Associates. He made his fortune when his company grew to one of the largest software application companies worldwide. Eventually, Oracle bought out the company in 2005. Duffield is currently estimated to have a net worth of about $13 billion.

6. Henry Ford (49) – $200 billion

Henry Ford

Henry Ford founded Ford Motors and became one of the richest men in history. He began as an engineer for Edison Illuminating Company where he met Thomas Edison. When he discussed his idea, other engineers encouraged him to build the automobile. He eventually started his own business in 1899 introducing the Model T car. Since then, the Ford empire has expanded exponentially. At the time of his death in 1947, he had accumulated a fortune equivalent to about $200 billion today.

7. Charles Darwin (50) – $400 million

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is one of the most revered names among the scientific community. As a famous biologist and geologist, he had several significant contributions to academia. Although, the moment he set sail on the HMS Beagle his life changed forever. His findings during his voyage led to the theories of evolution and natural selection.

However, he didn’t make his fortune until he published the “Origin of Species” at the age of 50. Charles Darwin is also among the people who made their wealth later in life. He was worth approximately $16 million when he died in 1882, which is valued at slightly more than $400 million today.

8. Taikichiro Mori (51) – $13 billion

Before Taikichiro Mori became a real estate mogul, he served as Dean of Commerce at Yokohama City University. Once he retired from the university, he used his knowledge to become a real estate investor. He went on to found the Mori Building Company which became wildly successful. Between 1991-1992, Taikichiro Mori was the richest man in the world. When he died, Mori’s net worth was estimated to be about $13 billion.

9. Ray Kroc (52) – $600 million

Ray Kroc

When Ray Kroc saw his golden opportunity, he was selling milkshake machines. After he met the McDonald’s brothers, he joined their company in 1954. There is much controversy surrounding his rise to success. However, no one can deny Ray Kroc’s influence in making McDonald’s a household name.

When he gained the company, he took it to heights that had never been imagined. McDonald’s is now worth more than $33 billion today and has locations in nearly every country. Ray Kroc was pivotal in launching the brand and was amply rewarded for his efforts. At the time of his death in 1984, Kroc was worth approximately $600 million.

10. Arianna Huffington (55) – $100 million

Arianna Huffington

Our last person on the list of people who made their wealth later in life continues on an upward slope. Arianna Huffington began her career as a successful author, columnist, and political commentator. Some have even called her one of the most influential and powerful women in the world because of her media platform and global reach. She founded the news publication Huffington Post which later sold to AOL for $315 million. Since then, she has been heavily involved in other successful companies such as Thrive and Uber. Today, her personal worth is about $100 million. However, her new endeavors could launch her to even greater heights.

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How to Live Below Your Means

With rising prices and ever increasing consumer demands, it becomes more challenging for many individuals to live below their means. Credit card bills, keeping up with the Joneses, and other unnecessary expenses are among some of the reasons it is exceedingly hard to stick to a budget. Some find themselves unable to spend less than the amount of money they are able to make each month. Here are a few suggestions to help you live below your means and improve your financial health.

Living Below Your Means
Living Below Your Means

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How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

The sad truth is that most Americans are not properly prepared for retirement. According to a 2019 survey, 64% of Americans expect to retire with less than $10,000 in their accounts. Whether this is a result of medical expenses, poor investments, or outstanding debts, you must remember it is never to late to plan for retirement. It is also possible to start over and rebuild your nest egg. Here are five things you can do to get back on track when you have lost your savings.

How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

5 Ways to Help You Plan for Retirement

1. Ramp Up Your Savings Plan for Retirement.

While it may seem obvious, the first step to plan for retirement after you have lost your savings is to begin again. You must also be realistic and admit that your current savings plan is likely not enough to rebuild your nest egg. It will require a great deal of sacrifice, discipline, and lifestyle changes to regain what you lost.

First, carefully evaluate your monthly budget and see what you can do without. This means cutting out unnecessary expenses like entertainment expenditures, buying the latest electronics, and going out to eat. Create a minimum budget where you are only spending money on what you need to survive. Once you know what you need to meet your monthly bills, put every extra penny towards your retirement funds. Additionally, utilize employer-sponsored 401k plans and max out your IRA contributions. This includes catch-up contributions for those over 50. Make no mistake; it is difficult to do without the things you enjoy. However, supporting yourself after retirement is a much more important goal.

2. Delay Your Retirement.

Another option is to delay your retirement date. Not only does it allow more time to save, but also to see more gains on your investments. If you are still living off your wages, it will postpone when you must begin drawing from your retirement funds. Furthermore, it reduces the number of years that your savings must sustain you. Working a few more years may  prevent you from running through your savings too early.

Prolonging your retirement also increases your Social Security benefits. You are able to claim retirement benefits from 62, but you can maximize the amount if you work until 70. Your monthly check increases approximately 7-8% every year you hold off retiring. The income you earn during those years is also calculated into your monthly benefits which could increase the amount you receive. Unfortunately, there are no increases beyond age 70. Keep in mind that most workers retire sooner than expected due to layoffs, health issues, or caring for a family member or spouse. Although this is a good strategy to help plan for retirement, don’t bank on working till 70. You never know what surprises life may throw you that could put your savings plan off course.

3. Adjust Your Retirement Lifestyle.

Another hard pill to swallow after losing your savings is that you may not be able to live as lavishly as you had planned for retirement. You must create a new retirement budget by trimming the fat. This means tightening the purse strings and finding ways to lower monthly expenses after you retire. Some suggestions would include downsizing your home, eliminating travel plans, or moving to an area with a lower cost of living. Living on a restricted budget will help you stretch your savings and catch up to your retirement goals.

4. Understand How You Lost Your Savings.

Another important step when starting over is to understand where things went wrong. Some matters are beyond your control, but other lost their retirement savings due to poor investing decisions. If this includes you, you should evaluate your investing strategy and examine why your portfolio suffered such extensive losses. If you invested too heavily in one area, diversifying will reduce future market exposure and personal risk. Many are tempted to invest more aggressively to regain their savings, but this could backfire and cause a second major loss.

5. Seek Professional Advice.

The most important thing is to remember there is always hope. However, if you are unable to find your own solution it is very easy to fall into despair. If you feel like there is no way out, seek professional advice from a financial planner. They will assess your situation, explain the options available to you, and find solutions you may have overlooked. Also, choose someone who is fee-only. This means they only earn a commission if you make money. It may eliminate any concerns over conflicts of interest or doubts that they are making the best decisions for you. Even when you must go back to square one, there is always a path forward.

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Buying Part of a Business: Is it Worth It?

Buying Part of a Business

When seeking to continue to build your financial portfolio, adding investments is one idea that many choose to pursue. One way that such investments are typically made is by buying part of a business. Buying into an existing business means that you become one of the main stakeholders, owning a portion of the business itself. While this is something that is done frequently, business owners are often unaware of the many factors that are related to making this significant financial decision. Here are a few serious considerations before buying part of a business.

The Rewards of Buying a Business

Of course, buying part of a business may sound overwhelming, but there are many factors that make it a beneficial decision.

  1. There is an established company client base. One of the benefits of owning part of an established business is that the client base is already set. A new business has to attract customers and build a group of returning clients. However, one that is already functioning will have this taken care of. This will allow the business owners to focus more on customer service, client retention, and increasing the number of clients.
  2. You have greater ease of expansion. If you happen to buy part of a business that is looking to expand, it will be much easier with a company that has already made a name for itself. Look to see if the company has a good reputation and gets good feedback from its clients. It’s also easier to get an unsecured small business loan for expansion when the company has a proven track record of sales.
  3. You can focus on business improvements. You may like challenges and, thus, purchase part of a business that requires a few changes to improve. Luckily, the company should have a plan of operation in place. Then, you can focus on how to improve it for the company’s overall success.
  4. You have access to current owners’ knowledge. One of the greatest advantages of buying part of a business is that the current owners will be very familiar with the company. They can show you what has and hasn’t worked for business operations thus far. You, equipped with this knowledge, can then come up with innovative ideas to benefit the business.

The Risks of Buying a Business

As there are many pros to buying part of an existing business, there are just as many risks of shared ownership of a company. It is best to keep these factors in mind as you make your decision.

  1. You disagree with the current owners’ practices. It would be an absolute nightmare to purchase part of a business where the owners mismanaged funds. Upon learning more about a business you may want to purchase part of, be sure to research all financial records.
  2. The company has a bad reputation. Good use of customer feedback is to learn how the company fares amongst past clients. A company with a bad reputation will likely struggle with being successful.
  3. It has high turnover. In addition to clients being indicative of a company’s progress, the employees can serve the same purpose. It is a red flag if there have been numerous employees during the business’ lifespan, especially due to multiple resignations. This would be something to keep in mind as a problem area if you decide to take on the company.
  4. There are differences between owners. If the current owners are not open to change or new ideas, you could run into difficulties. You may meet resistance trying to take the company to the next level in terms of expansion, increasing profits, or employee and client satisfaction.

Checklist Before Buying Part of Business

Before you make any large purchases or investments, you should always do your homework. The Westmoreland Checklist of Due Diligence provides a great set of guidelines as you vet out potential investment options.

First and foremost you want to make sure the company is in good standing with government, financial, and community organizations. This includes issues about all the companies operations. It means you should look at all the company’s financial information. This includes everything from permits and tax compliance to its reputation with employees and clients.

The choice to buy part of a company should only be made after carefully considering all factors, good and bad, that are involved. It can also be helpful to seek the help of a business adviser who can answer your questions and give guidance as you take this big step.

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The Pitfalls of Foreign Mutual Funds

When comparing the returns of equity mutual funds, many foreign mutual funds outperform domestic ones. This has caused some investors to buy more securities in international companies in the hopes of huge returns. While these funds offer great diversification, you must also be aware of the pitfalls of foreign mutual funds.

The Pitfalls of Foreign Mutual Funds

What Are Foreign Mutual Funds?

Foreign mutual funds are international funds that invest in securities of foreign companies that are listed in foreign markets. Some mutual funds invest directly in international stock markets. Others serve as feeder funds that invest in specified mutual funds in international markets.

They can be categorized geographically or by the markets they invest in. Some international funds choose to focus on a single sector, commodity or emerging market.

Why Do People Invest in Foreign Markets?

One of the greatest advantages when investing in foreign markets is the instant diversification you receive. With these funds, you are buying a piece of larger portfolios than you couldn’t assemble on your own. Investing in foreign markets also diversifies your holdings into different currencies. Monetary depreciation between currencies increases your returns on investments in foreign markets as well.

Another benefit of foreign investment is exposure to new markets and economies. Varying markets and economies do not necessarily move in tandem with one another. Investing in foreign mutual funds allows you the chance to invest in other economies that are performing better at that particular time.

Finally, you get professional management for your portfolio backed by a full financial team. Fund managers have extensive experience in the global markets. Additionally, research analysts located worldwide are constantly looking at new investment opportunities for their firms.

What are the Pitfalls of Foreign Mutual Funds?

However, there are many pitfalls of foreign mutual funds. Before you run off and invest in an international fund, consider these drawbacks.

1. They charge annual management fees. The average international fund charges about 1.5% of the total assets, but some are much more expensive. This figure seems like a small amount but it can add up over time.

2. You have less control over decisions since your fund manager chooses where to invest. They may choose to focus on a different region than you prefer, or invest in different companies that you would not choose for yourself. Since they are only required to report holdings twice per year, you may not know the details of what your manager is buying until long after the fact. This is not always a bad thing, but many things are out of your hands

3. Not all international funds perform well. Furthermore, currency exchange rates could work against you as well. If the foreign currency appreciates instead, this can reduce your returns.

4. U.S. tax payers who invest in foreign mutual funds more heavily taxed for foreign mutual funds. Since the Tax Reform Act of 1986, investors can no longer cash in on the loophole related to tax-free foreign mutual funds.

Should You Invest in Foreign Mutual Funds?

In the end, the argument for global diversification in your portfolio is a compelling one. However, you must carefully weigh it against the pitfalls of foreign mutual funds. Should you choose to invest in foreign markets, it is always wise to proceed with caution. Don’t sink all your money into an unfamiliar market or ignore the risks of forex investments. As with all financial matters, never invest money that you can’t afford to lose and seek professional advice when you feel out of your depth.

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How to Become Independently Wealthy

Become Independently Wealthy

Becoming wealthy is a goal many of us hope to achieve in our lifetime.  Some want to be wealthy to have unbelievable lifelong experiences or to validate success. However, 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 in their lifetime.  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 roads Ken illustrates in his book.

What Does It Mean to Be Independently Wealthy?

To determine whether you are independently wealthy, you must ask yourself a few basic questions. First, do you rely on financial support from anyone? If not, then consider yourself financially independent. Second, do you depend on your employment income? If you answer no to the second question, you would be considered independently wealthy. When you have become independently wealthy, you have either saved enough or earn sufficient passive income to give up your day job.

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. 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. This may be with a financial advisor or through acquired knowledge that creates a return on your investment.  For example, I have found that investing on a monthly basis in a mutual fund is of most benefit to me because it covers the broad range of the U.S. Stock Market.  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 songwriter or musician, you can create an ongoing stream of royalties from your lyrics or music.  If you purchase a rental property, 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 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 talent to create additional income. However, do you have the drive to reach your goal?

Becoming independently wealthy or successful all boils down to the level of commitment.  If you are committed to becoming independently wealthy, then  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. On the other hand, maybe you will be satisfied with millions or even a million.  Only you can determine what being wealthy is to you.

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Which States Do Not Tax Retirement Income?

Choosing where to retire will be one of the most important decisions you make. One factor that impacts this decision is local taxation law. How much your retirement income is taxed may have you considering a move in your golden years. After a little research, you will soon learn that local taxation varies greatly from state to state. In fact, there are some states that don’t tax retirement income at all. Here are a few financial factors you should include when choosing where to put down roots in your retirement years.

States That Don’t Tax Personal Income

If you want to maximize you savings during retirement, there are currently nine states that don’t tax retirement or personal income. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming do not have income taxes. However, New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax dividends and interest for the time being. But, both states have plans to phase out these taxes. Tennessee will see these changes in 2021 while New Hampshire will phase it out by 2025.

States That Don't Tax Income

 

Taxation of Retirement Income by State

The taxation laws and treatment of retirement income in the remaining states vary greatly. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the local laws before you make any decisions.  Some states will allow partial exemptions for pensions and social security income. However, others will tax the entire amount of your retirement income. If you are unsure how local tax laws in your state apply to Social Security benefits, you can read more here.

Pension Exemption

If you live in Illinois, Mississippi, or Pennsylvania, then there is some good news! These states exempt all your pension income from taxes. Although, this 0nly applies to qualified individuals.

Partial Exemptions and Credits

Another common structure for tax on retirement income is to allow a partial exemption or provide a credit for part of your pension income. If you settle in one of the following states, you will receive some relief since these states don’t tax your full retirement income: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

An alternative structuring in other states is when pension income is tax included. This applies to residents of Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

The Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

Tax Friendly States

In 2019, Kiplinger compiled a list comparing the tax burden for retirees state by state. To complete the analysis, they used the same hypothetical household as the constant variable.  The purpose is to compare how the burden of income, property and sales tax varied across the country.

The rankings are based on a family of four with a yearly income of $150,000 and $10,000 in dividends. Additionally, Kiplinger included $10,000 in mortgage interest on a home valued at $400,000. It then applied each state’s local income tax to these figures. Based on these metrics, here are the top 10 states that are the most tax-friendly towards retirees:

1. Wyoming
2. Nevada
3. Delaware
4. Alabama
5. South Carolina
6. Tennessee
7. Mississippi
8. Florida
9. Georgia
10. Arizona

Keep in mind that these rankings are based on a hypothetical model. Although, it may be different for your personal financial situation. If you are considering a move in your retirement years, be sure to do your homework. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek out professional advice to help you plan for retirement. Choosing where to retire is a huge decision. Moreover, it is not one that should be made lightly. Moving to one of the states that don’t tax retirement income could help stretch your retirement savings through your golden years.

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