10 Ways to Earn and Save More in the Spring

This is a guest post from Pauline of InvestmentZen.com

Spring is just around the corner, and what better time for a little spring cleaning of your finances? Today we will cover areas of your financial life that may help you save more, earn more, and invest better.

  1. Have a financial audit

It is not as bad as it sounds, with a quick audit, that should take you a few hours at most, we are going to make sure you are not spending in areas that don’t bring you value, or paying more than you should for products and services you do need.

Going through a few months of bank statements, try to challenge your expenses. Are you still going to the gym? Now that the weather is getting better, it may be time to cancel and go for hikes instead. Do you watch enough cable to justify your monthly fee? Can you transfer your credit card balance to a 0% deal and stop paying interest for the next 12 months? A one time phone call to your internet or utility provider to get on a better deal can save you a couple hundreds over the course of the year.

Also make sure you open a high yield savings account to earn interest on your cash, instead of keeping it in checking.

  1. Use your tax refund wisely

A tax refund is not free money. It is money worked hard to earn, and overpaid to the state, that is being given back to you. With the average tax refund from the IRS around $2,800, we are talking serious money. You don’t want to spend it mindlessly. Since you weren’t missing it before, that is the perfect time to open a brokerage account and start investing it.

Pick a low fee broker, and simply start with index funds. You don’t need to understand much about investing to get started. Just know the average returns for the S&P500 over the past 30 years are over 8%, and that is much better than any instant access saving account on the market right now.

But if you are in debt, you will get even better returns by paying off your credit cards or any outstanding balance with a high interest rate.

  1. Prepare for Spring break

And summer holidays, while you are at it. You will need cash, so make a budget, and divide the sum you need by the number of weeks until your holiday. That is how much you need to save every week. Better yet, start locking out the best deals in flights and accommodations, instead of waiting until the last minute.

Consider a cheaper holiday, like a road trip to a nearby state, or a camping trip to a state park.

  1. Go out!

During the winter, you were probably tempted to meet with your friends at a coffee shop, or order comfort food from the take out. Now that it is getting warmer, and the days are starting to get longer, it is time to go out. Meet in a park and bring a picnic, dust off your bike and go cycling, or try Meetup for fun activities with people from your town.

Exercising outside will allow you to ditch the gym membership as mentioned earlier, and doesn’t require more than a pair of shoes and an old t-shirt.

  1. Check your local calendar

There are tons of free events all year round, but spring is a great period for cultural events, outdoor concerts, garage sales, and more. The nearby college, the free newspaper, or the city’s Parks and Recreation department should have a calendar listing all these cool things. Instead of resorting to the usual diner and a movie, get creative and use these for affordable dates or family outings.

  1. Get a side hustle

It is easy to get lazy in winter, and just want to go home and snuggle by the TV after work. But with more daylight, you should have more energy and time to make money on the side. You could either look for one off ideas, such as selling water bottles at a sports event, or more regular activities, like tutoring a kid after school to make sure they finish the school year strong. Many side hustles don’t require you to spend a lot of money, if at all. If you are just going to market your skills, like with tutoring, or offering a service to your neighbors such as dog walking, you can get started in no time. Just ensure you will have time to commit for a few months if the job requires you to do so.

You can use the extra money to pad your holiday savings, pay off your debt, or simply for fun money.

  1. De-clutter

De-cluttering your space will make you feel good, and can make you money too. You can organize a garage sale or try to sell your stuff online. Go over your books, clothes, and any item you haven’t used in a while. While you are at it, try to organize all your important documents in one place. That will save you a lot of time later. And make sure the things you don’t use regularly are still working. Nothing worse than needing that leaf blower and finding out it’s broken. Fixing up things is generally not as complicated as it seems, there are tons of tutorials online and it is a cheap hobby!

What other suggestions do you have to earn more and save more during spring?

Tips on Travelling to Paris

Paris is a beautiful city that’s normally incredibly welcoming to tourists. Even if you had never visited before, there is a good chance that your trip will go off without a hitch. However, if you want to get the most out of your trip to Paris and avoid any negative situations, here are some useful tips:

Bring a decent pair of walking shoes

Paris is big and driving is a big no-no. You’ll find that there is no on-street parking in Paris, a lot of streets can be quite narrow and some of the best places to see are all within walking distance of each other. Even cabs can be very expensive, so ditch the wheels and pick up some comfy shoes that won’t let you down when you need to walk long distances. If the distance is especially long, simply use the Metro.

Put the diet on hold for a day

While it’s still important that we keep our health in mind, if you visit Paris you’re not going to get the full experience without tasting some of the amazing food. Sure, the salads are nice, but you won’t find anything like a real Parisian Croque Monsieur or Paris Brest anywhere else in the world. So, give yourself a treat and taste some of the best things about Paris.

Dress respectfully

If you intend on visiting the churches and religious sites it’s important that you cover up. Absolutely no shorts should be worn in the churches or cathedrals and bring a jacket to cover your shoulders and midriff if you have them exposed. While you might not necessarily be kicked out for dressing down, it is considered to be very disrespectful, so be careful.

Get an EHIC card

If you live in Europe and you’re travelling to Paris it’s a good idea to play it safe and apply for an EHIC card or look into renewing the E111 card. These cards will give you a certain amount of health insurance while you’re visiting Paris, which is always useful to have. If you haven’t got one of these cards you can apply for and receive one for free from the official EHIC website.

Secure your belongings and look out for scams

While it’s not particularly common, around certain busy tourist sites in Paris you can find some pickpockets and scammers. Be cautious around ATM machines and any people selling things near the monuments. To avoid being pickpocketed, keep your luggage secure and close to you. Don’t keep your belongings in your pockets and if you have zips on your bag keep them zipped up. You might want to even consider putting some small padlocks on pockets if you want to be extra careful.

Learn some basic French

To get the best service in shops and restaurants and to avoid some uncomfortable conversation, you should learn at least a few French phrases before you visit Paris. You should always greet the servers with “Bonjour Madame/Monsieur” when you enter an establishment and thank them when you leave. By at least trying to speak a little French as you’ll receive a much warmer welcome than you would if you were to just shout at them in English!

How to Make a Living Day Trading

The minute you tell someone you are a full-time day trader, everyone wants to know “how.” Well, in today’s blog post we are going to walk you through the first five steps on how to make a living day trading.

Start Calling Yourself a Day Trader

You have to first believe you are one before you can become one. Pretty Zen, right? Day traders have confidence and part of that confidence comes from knowing they “can” do something; not that they “will” do something, or that they will “try” and do something. From this point on you are a day trader. Now you have to figure out how to make a living being one.

Get Your Equipment in Order

If you want to make a living day trading, you are going to need the right tools. Here is what we consider the day trading starter kit:

  • a dedicated place to work (this can be your home office, an executive office you rent, or a quiet Starbucks but you need to find somewhere where you can concentrate and not be distracted);
  •     a highly functioning laptop and fast internet connection (you do not want to miss selling that tanking stock because your computer crashed or your internet is too slow); and
  • time (dedicated, non-distracted, fully alert, not watching ESPN, not doing laundry time).

Find a Community

You are not reinventing the wheel here, learn from the people who have already figured out how to make a living day trading. Warrior Trading is our favorite place to find a community because they put a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and their chat room is both friendly and welcoming to beginners but also engaging enough for more advanced traders. And don’t forget to connect with DayTradeWarrior on StockTwits. Trust us, you do not want to miss his mid-day recaps!

Set Time and Money Goals.

Set your work hours and set money goals. Start slow in regards to both and ramp up as you get more comfortable with the systems and processes. Make sure you schedule time off. Some beginners make the mistake of diving head first into the deep end of the pool and quickly realize they forgot their life vest. Healthy, well-balanced day traders are more likely to find success making a living day trading.

Now, you are all set to start making a living day trading. Best of luck to you and let us know in the comments below what questions you may have about how to make a living day trading. You never know, you might just inspire our next blog post!

5 Tips For Going To America

If there is one thing people love most about crossing the Atlantic and visiting the states is that it’s all about chance and being able to take part in new experiences. The country’s spirit is reflected in America’s bold outlook and ever evolving nature. From the stoic skyscrapers of New York to the beautiful rolling hills of California, America is such a fantastic place to get acquainted with another part of yourself and try things that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Brits in particular are fascinated with America’s youth in comparison to that of Europe – America has only been alive for a few centuries, whereas Europe has a history that can be traced back thousands upon thousands of years. If you are looking to travel to America this year, here are a few tips to get you by, regardless of when or where you go…

ESTA

Before you book your trip, it is very important to apply for an ESTA, as the UK is part of the Visa Waiver Programme that means that those countries part of the programme are able to apply for a piece of documentation called an ESTA rather than have to apply for a full blown visa. An ESTA grants you entry into the states and was introduced shortly after the Twin Towers attack in 2001. It essentially runs a background check and ensures that you are safe to enter the US. Without an ESTA you will not be allowed entry into America, so it is imperative that you apply for one by visiting this website: https://www.esta-visa.org.uk/.

Sales Tax

When shopping in America, it is important to remember that when looking at the price of something, the price is not what you will pay as the sales tax that most states have is not included on the sticker or label. The actual cost of the item that includes tax will be determined at the checkout which is certainly something to keep in mind when you are only carrying certain amount of money with you or are budget conscious. And no, there is no tax refund like the VAT that is possible in other parts of the world, although if you are shipping back to the UK you may not have to pay tax.

Medical Insurance

Be sure to purchase substantial medical insurance before you go to America as it can be hard for many Brits to realise just how expensive medical treatment can be in America. A broken leg can set you back $9,500! Also bear in mind that you will have to pay first and then apply for reimbursement when you return to the UK, so you should have access to funds.

Tips

Tipping is common courtesy in the US and since Brits are notoriously tight tippers, it will be helpful to remember that tipping is commonplace in America and comes in at about 15-20 per cent of the service you receive.

Interaction

Go easy on the swearing when you are visiting America as most American’s don’t swear a lot, particularly in the South where they might apologise for saying ‘damn’! Similarly, while it can be interesting, don’t start a discussion on politics, religion, guns, obesity or war.

Three Ways to Stay Connected with New Clients

Your customers are the lifeline of your business. Every successful business owner understands the importance of having great customers. To ensure the loyalty of your customers, you have to be able to connect with them on a consistent basis. Competitors, hectic schedules, and technology can all get in the way of staying on the same page with your customers. A lot of business dealings include the use of technology, which can hinder the personal touch you want to provide your clients.

To make sure you remain connected, you want to utilize the technology to really get to know your customers and have them get to know you as a business. Here are some ways to get started:

Hold an Event

Even though your goal as a company is to sell a product or service, you must first educate your customers on what exactly your business is about.One way to show them who you are is to hold a conference. With so much technology surrounding us, it has never been easier to connect with your customers all over the world. However, nothing says customer service like meeting in person. New product launches and innovations are best presented face to face.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use technology to make your event special. Using a conference app like DoubleDutch, you can enhance the conference experience for you and your clients. You get access to real-time analytics and data streams that may, over time, improve your ROI. Attendees get access to conference schedules, more information, vendor contacts and more.

Use this opportunity to introduce yourself as a company and get a little more in depth about what you believe in. You can also use a conference app to help get your attendees engaged and excited about your products using live marketing.

Utilize Data

One way to really get to know what your customers are about and spend time engaging with them is through real-time data. People of all ages are flocking to social media to connect with friends and family members. You can tap into what’s trending during your event and stream it into other avenues, allowing more people to connect to your company. It also allows you to see what your customers are particular interested in and what they may not be. Even more so, you can build a community with your customers so that they remain loyal and attached to your company. This also provides you a way to stay on top of trends so you can adjust your business model to remain active and present in the industry.

Improve Your ROI

There are numerous ways to get your company’s products and services in front of your clients, but you have to turn your client’s purchases into a profit. In order to do this, you can use the conference app to improve your ROI. Tracking data trends and getting your attendees excited can help improve your sales and business. In return, you walk away with a bigger profit with less invested.

Why You Might Choose To Move Abroad

Thousands of people leave the UK every year and settle in another country. There is a big world out there, waiting to be explored, and there’s nobody saying you have to stay in the place you were born for your entire life. Moving abroad can provide plenty of opportunities to try a new career or progress in your existing one, meet new people and live in a climate preferable to the one you currently live in. here are some of the key reasons that many people choose to move aborad.

Job Opportunities

Careers are among the most common reasons for people to leave the Unite Kingdom and live abroad. In some cases their company is expanding into new territories and they’ve been chosen to head up things abroad. Alternatively they may be actively seeking new employment opportunities, they skills could lie in a saturated industry but there are more options abroad. Relocating offers a fresh start for many people every year who find the job of their dreams waiting for them across the ocean.

Climate

British weather can be dreadful, at best, the majority of the time, with very brief sporadic bursts of warm sunshine. Many companies who provide international removals to Spain that high numbers of people move abroad because of the warmer weather and pleasant living conditions. A Spanish villa with its own outdoor pool that you can use all year round should be a mouth watering prospect, and it certainly beats waiting for the bus in London during torrential rainfall.

Disillusionment

A lot can happen in a very short space of time, and 2016 is the ultimate testament to that fact. With the high number of celebrity deaths, big political changes like Brexit and the US Presidential race, it’s not surprising that a large number of people have had enough of where they live. Moring abroad provides the opportunity of a fresh start in a new country, a new neighbourhood and the chances to make new friends and experience an entirely different culture and way of life.

Cost Of Living

Statistically, Britain is the 12th most expensive country to live, and when you break it down, the goods and services we receive aren’t light years ahead of everybody else’s. With that in mind, it makes sense to move abroad (and providing you can find a job that offers the same pay) and you can make your wages go a lot further than they do in the UK. You should even have a lot more money left over that you can put towards things you really like, possibly leaving a bigger pension once you retire, and along you way you can have much more time to relax in the sun.

Romance

Thanks to the internet, the world has become a much smaller place. It’s now possible have real time conversations with your friends in Australia while you’re relaxing in your London flat. More than 35% of relationships start online today, which means it’s not unfathomable to meet the love of your life online who happens to live in a completely different country. In that scenario, one of you may decide to move to the others country so your life together can really begin.

Ways to Get Money when Your Credit Sucks

Credit scores seem to dictate your financial future. If you happen to have a bad credit score it can seem nearly impossible to get the money you need. Thankfully, there are a number of options open to you. It’s still possible to get money when you have a low credit score. This article is going to show you some of these options.

Get a Credit Card for Those with Bad Credit

Need a small loan? You might not qualify for the best credit cards but there are still cards available to you. These cards are designed for people who need help with rebuilding their credit scores. The credit limit may amount to no more than $500, but if you need a small amount of money fast they can be great. In many cases the lenders perform no credit checks for a loan. More importantly, using them correctly will help you to repair your credit score.

Opt for a Payday Loan

Payday loans are short-term loans that can allow you to borrow in excess of $5,000. These are for the emergencies that hit before you get paid; hence the name. These loans are designed for short-term use only, which is why they always come with high interest rates. Make the repayments and you’ll never be hit by these enormous rates. Shop around online for lenders. The money can be in your account on the same day and you can take advantage of online calculators to help you with determining how much you’ll eventually have to pay back.

Consider a Secured Loan 

Sometimes you have to think about a secured loan instead. Secured loans are better because they rarely take into account your credit score. A pawn shop is the best example of a secured loan. You submit a valuable item and if you don’t pay the money back you lose that item. The item is always worth more than the loan, so the lender never loses out. A type of secured loan is a mortgage. As you can see, if you have an asset you can get one of these loans.

A Cosigned Loan

Some lenders will give you money if you can find a cosigner to guarantee that loan. The way it works is if you fail to pay back the loan the cosigner is responsible. The cosigner can be anyone from a family member to a friend. Think about whether you can pay the money back before asking someone to take this position of responsibility.

Borrow from Family and Friends

A final alternative is to borrow money from family and friends. Tell them what you need the money for and ask if they’ll grant you your request. Set down the terms of the loan in writing and treat it as seriously as you would treat a loan from a bank.

Conclusion – There are Options

As you can see, there are options on the table for those with bad credit that need a loan. Take a look at which one works for you based on your personal financial circumstances.

How will you get money if you have a low credit score?

What is a “Good” Credit Score?

In the eyes of a lender your credit score is the most important when it comes to giving not only approval, but to decide your interest rate and terms that come along with the product.  The difference in a few percent could change a monthly payment by hundreds of dollars depending on the size, so it is important to have the highest score you can. It’s so important that many people with sub-par scores tend to utilize the best credit repair services out there just so they can improve their financial outlook going forward.

FICO is the most widely used scoring model, with the worst starting at 300 and the highest being 850, with the range as follows:

Excellent:            800-850

Very Good:         750-799

Good:                   700-749

Fair:                       650-699

Poor:                     600-649

Very Poor:           300-599

What do Those Ranges Mean?

In the “Excellent” range, you have done a great job managing your finances and you are rewarded with pretty much a guaranteed approval and the best possible interest rates and terms that are available.

Typically, a “Very Good” borrower is not much different than “Excellent”, so from scores below this is where you will start to notice a significant difference the lower the scores go.

“Good” will get you approved, you just will not have the lowest rates that will be awarded to “Very Good” and “Excellent”, with the real problems starting next.

“Fair” is average, and probably will be approved, but by the skin of your teeth, going through a lengthy approval process to show you are on the right track and are worthy of approval, only to receive higher rates and fees.

“Poor” is usually referred to as having bad or subprime credit, and with your troubled history, may have to require a co-signer to prove your worthiness, and selling your soul to the lender’s terms.

“Very Poor” leaves you with very few options, so instead of pursuing approval right now, time should be spent improving credit now.

Where do you Rank?

Most creditors are now providing credit scores in the monthly statement, or clickable in the online account, so can view pretty easily where you fall.  If you are not able to view for free, you can purchase your credit score through one of the credit bureaus or third-party sites.  It is important to view a copy of your report each year to check for inaccuracies anyways, so although a score is not included, now would be a good time to request a free copy of your credit report through any of the bureaus, and request annually going forward.

Are You A Social Drinker Or A Problem Drinker?

Do you know the warning signs that alcohol might be becoming a problem for you? It’s a simple question but surprisingly difficult to answer.

Drinking is common to most cultures and for most of recorded history. It is easier to pinpoint substance abuse for recreational drugs because they are relatively new. However, drinking alcohol has been around for so long that it could almost be called a cultural norm like drinking tea or coffee.

What’s more, effects vary from one form of alcohol to another and from one person to another. According to Hotel California by the Sea, who takes a comprehensive approach to alcohol treatment, “It can be difficult to ascertain when moderate or social drinking has crossed the line to problem drinking.”

A Quick Self-Check Quiz

If you are wondering about your own drinking habits, here are 7 questions you can ask yourself to distinguish between social drinking, which is drinking to be social, and problem drinking, which is drinking to numb out emotional pain:

1. Do you feel guilty or ashamed when you drink?

Is there a part of you that is telling you that you are crossing the line between social drinking and alcohol abuse?

2. Do you minimize to others or lie about how much you have been drinking?

If you lie it’s often because you want to hide when you drink and how much you drink.

3. Do family or friends talk about your drinking?

They may hint that you may be drinking too much or tell you straight out that it’s time to stop drinking? In other words, have other people let you know that they worry about your drinking habits?

4. Do you drink even when you are alone?

Often alcohol is used as a way to be convivial in company, but you might drink when you are alone because you want to relax, unwind, forget about the day, or just feel better.

5. Do you “black out” when you drink?

This doesn’t mean that you pass out but that you can’t remember what you did when you were drinking.

6. Do you find it difficult to just stop after one glass?

While you might intend to just have one glass of wine or beer or one shot of hard liquor, you find that it’s not enough. You often need another and another until you feel some satisfaction.

7. Do you drink more than the average person?

The Washington Post created a percentage chart to answer that question. If you drink a glass of wine every night with dinner, it puts you in the top 30 percent of Americans when it comes to per-capital consumption. You hit 20 percent if you drink two glasses a night. However, this is still a modest amount compared to the top 10 percent. According to the article that accompanied the chart, “The top 10 percent of American drinkers – 24 million adults over age 18 – consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.”

Clear Signs of Problem Drinkers

In many cases, the distinguishing line between social drinking and problem drinking has obviously been crossed.

Here are 3 signs that it’s hard to miss that you’re a problem drinker:

1. You routinely neglect your roles and responsibilities in your life.

At home, you don’t do chores, neglect your family, or don’t keep your promises. Your relationship with your spouse or children is strained. You may also spend more time drinking with your buddies then spending any quality time with your family.

At work, you do the bare minimum to avoid getting fired. You may even show up to work slightly intoxicated or with a hangover.

At school, you have little idea about what is going on in class, don’t do any assignments, and flunk classes.

2. You drink even when it could endanger yourself or others.

Drinking can be dangerous if you drive or if you’re using heavy machinery. In this case, you are not only endangering yourself, but others, too.

It can also be dangerous if you’re mixing alcohol with your prescription drugs despite a clear warning by your doctor about the risk. This could be fatal, resulting in multiple organ failure.

3. You get into trouble with the law.

You get arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct or are given a DUI for failing to pass an alcohol blood test.

Ask For Help

Alcoholism is rarely something that can be solved through will-power or taking some self-help DIY course of action. You usually need help to break the addiction because your cravings tend to override decisions you made when you were in a more reflective mood.

If you’re not sure, talk to your pastor, family doctor, or a psychotherapist. They will then help you figure out if you have a problem with alcohol. Often they can also direct you to the best course of action to take. If you are clear that you have a problem, you can then enroll in a rehab program yourself.

The bride’s mother will take longer to choose an outfit

It should not really come as a surprise to hear that some mothers of the bride will take around six days longer than their daughters in choosing the perfect outfit for the big day, according to research.

While a bride will take around 12 days looking at wedding dresses to choose ‘the one’, and many of them will choose their gown in their first visit, it’s not quite the same case for grooms or the mother of the bride.

That’s because they will take, on average, an incredible 18 days to choose their outfit for the wedding and visiting more than one outlet looking for designer wedding dresses which will offer them a variety of tastes and budgets.

One reason for this is that many mothers have been dreaming about their daughter’s wedding day for many years which means they believe they need the perfect outfit for the perfect day.

This delivers a challenge for the mother of the bride who then must take advice to avoid wearing the same colours, or even the same style, as the groom’s mother is wearing. However, the research reveals that just two in five mothers will know what their counterpart is planning to wear when they begin their search for a wedding dress outfit.

A spokeswoman for the firm that undertook the research said it was surprising how many mothers preferred to leave their choice of dress to chance rather than have what could be an awkward conversation with the groom’s mother.

One in five mothers of the bride also confessed to researchers that they began planning their wedding outfit search immediately after they had celebrated their daughter’s or son’s engagement with one in three saying they tried on many outfits before deciding what was the perfect ensemble. They also they had to find matching shoes, bags and hat with some also looking for designer evening dresses to change into.

This does not really help the 90% of mothers of the bride who confessed they worried about their outfits for the wedding and felt under huge pressure to look the part.

The research reveals that just two in five mothers know in advance what the other mother will be wearing and 5% said there had been a disagreement between the mothers over what to wear.

It’s always a huge help to find a bridal shop London where the stylists can give advice and tips on what to wear for the mother of the bride since they will have more extensive experience and expertise in judging what is the perfect outfit.