• When Should You Buy Your First Home?

    by  • November 20, 2014 • Tagged: ,

    Are you thinking about purchasing your very own home for the first time? Perhaps you’re sick of renting or you’d just like a permanent place to call your own. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re certain that you’re ready to buy your first home and are doing it wisely. Follow the helpful tips below and your first home buying experience should be a breeze.

    1) Check Your Credit

    One of the first things that banks will do when offering you a loan is check your credit. If your credit is poor, they will either deny you a loan entirely or they’ll hike up your interest rate and down-payment amount to protect themselves in case you default.

    Before you even head to your bank or credit union (or HomeStart Perth for that matter), do yourself a favor and check your credit yourself. CreditKarma.com is a great place to do this since they’ll provide you with a free report from Transunion (one of the major three credit report companies) and they will tell you why your score might be low and what you can do to improve it.

    2) Save Up 20%

    If you really are serious about buying a home and making it your long-term residence, then I would suggest that you save up 20% for your down-payment. With this 20% you can basically insure that your home value will never fall below what you owe the bank and you can therefore avoid PMI payments to the bank as well!

    I understand that saving up 20% of the purchase price might take quite a long time, but this process will teach you to scrimp and save and to live within a budget, which is very important for when you own a home and have unexpected items that are in need of repair. Make a plan to sock a large amount of money away each month and save up that 20%!

    3) Find a Deal

    So during what time of the year should you buy a home? The absolute best time is when demand is low and house prices can be found for cheap. For many areas in the north, this means winter time. Nobody wants to buy a house during the holidays and they certainly don’t want to move their stuff in the snow. If you don’t mind this and would be willing to make a purchase in the winter to save a few thousand bucks, then I would certainly encourage you to.

    If you want to find even more of a deal, don’t be afraid to find a fixer-upper home. Ideally, you’d like to find a home that is appealing on the outside, but could use a few updates on the inside (ie. carpeting or flooring, vanities, etc). If you are fairly confident that you can repair or replace the rundown areas of the house, then that means you can probably do fairly inexpensively as well. By purchasing a fixer-upper, you can save yourself another 10%-20% off the fair market price.

    Are you ready to buy your first home?

    Maximize Profit on Your Business Website

    by  • November 19, 2014 • Tagged: , , , ,

    Every business needs a website. Local market searches are a driving force for businesses to increase market share locally. Organic web traffic is not just about local traffic, though that is where the bulk of online traffic generates. It is also about global traffic. Shoppers in other countries use the web to find better products and services in both B2C and B2B transactions. A website represents your company when you close up shop for the night. It works 24/7 to sell, teach and convert visitors into customers.

    From Brick-and-Mortar to the Digital Age

    cyber monday Image via Flickr by Glory Cycles

    Two words: Cyber Monday. Each Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, online stores draw millions of visitors world-wide to their websites. On Cyber Monday in 2013, consumers spent an estimated $2.6 Billion. That is just one day out of the 365 days per year that your business website works for you. If your business is not online, your business needs to be online.

    Location, Location, Location

    Learn How to Make Your Business a Top Google Maps Result

    Image via Flickr by MintSocial

    Local search engines direct local traffic to stores in many ways. Search engines use the physical business address to provide direction and show consumers the choices they have on Google Maps. Local searches and mobile searches now outrank traditional searches. That fact translates into two things. First, the amount of local searches in your area is probably staggering. Second more shoppers look for instant access to products and services.

    Businesses do not need a fancy website to draw local search traffic. A good website uses the content that appeals to visitors of the site. The power of events like Cyber Monday occurs because stores offer special online-only discounts. That is something that some businesses use year round as part of their marketing plan.

    Use the Whole World as Your Marketing Platform

    NASA GOES-13 Full Disk view of Earth August 3, 2010

    Image via Flickr by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

    Websites are not limited to just your local area. The world-wide-web connects the world. Use each of the days in the week to run a special for customers in other countries. Encourage them to pay via sites like Ria Money Transfer, so both you and your customers minimize th fees charged by your bank and credit card companies. Keeping your prices as low as possible attracts foreign customers. That is one of the biggest attractions for Bitcoin. It transcends borders without fees. Offer your customers the same service in an easy to use online format.

    A good tip is to develop marketing strategies that focus both on local and global customers. Many businesses lose money because they focus only on local marketing. Maximize your revenues by increasing your sales territory.

    Search Engine Optimization and You

    Search-Engine-Marketing Image via Flickr by Danard Vincente

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is powerful. Don’t be afraid to invest in the services of a professional company to help you with SEO. If you choose a good company, the increase in local and global traffic will offset the service cost of optimization. Using a professional company also allows you to focus on the things that you need to do. SEO takes a lot more time when you do not understand it. This is one opportunity that justifies the cost.

    Talk to an SEO company about social media marketing, video marketing, Email marketing and the power of the Call-To-Action (CTA) as these are highly focused ways for your website to interact with online shoppers. Not every option will benefit all businesses. The huge arsenal of online marketing products offers businesses the best options for reaching as many online shoppers as possible. They can also become a time dump, so check time-spent versus results.

    The world holds over seven billion people. Websites help business owners maximize revenues by enabling globally based customers to find exactly what they want. A website is a tireless employee that also represents your business when no one else is on duty. You don’t have to pay a website or offer it benefits. Periodically they need upgrades or maintenance, but they do a ton of work for very little cost. A website is your best tool for maximizing profits.

    How to Configure Your Small Business

    by  • October 30, 2014 • Tagged: , ,

    It can be easy to scan the newspaper headlines and see the fearful titles declaring businesses closing, mega-retailers declining, government incentives drying up. Unfortunately, some of these headlines truly do reflect the state of the economy. But fortunately for you, many others are blown out of proportion. They only reflect the failure of businesses that avoided a few simple steps to improve optimization and efficiency. By keeping your business in a healthy and well-managed state, you can ensure the longevity of your business, and keep your output at maximum. To do this, you’ll have to work with the tools at hand, which often means limited marketing, equipment, and employment budgets, unlike the massive corporations that tend to make the news. The modern small business, however, has more tricks up its sleeves than ever before, and you’re primed to take advantage of these features. Here are some of the most effective ways to whip your small business into shape.

    Stay Current

    The race to stay ahead in business often involves being proactive about what innovations and trends you embrace. No matter what your customer base is, or how diverse your selling model may be from your larger competitors, the need for constant overhauls and upgrades is essential. When designing your small business and its model for sales approaches, try to keep modern innovations and current designs in the forefront of your mind. Some of the latest technological advancements in retail include the rise of cloud computing, which enables you to store your data on centralized servers and grant access to any users you select. This can be a fantastic way to keep your business connected and on the same page, but it can also enable you to overhaul your business’s Point-of-Sale (POS) model, transferring from your standard desktop to a more sleek and mobile tablet system. As Business News Daily highlighted, businesses are rapidly replacing their older models with customer-driven POS systems and tablet platforms. Some companies, such as Shopify, have already created entire lines of hardware for the iPad tablet, including credit card payment terminals. These upgrades will keep you firmly attached to the modern trends, and allow you to maximize your efficiency in employee management, overhead costs, and inventory tracking.

    Set Priorities

    Often times, you might be pressured by advertisements and the waves of business articles that grace your favorite magazines. You might be tempted to buy each and every product on the market, praying that it will cause some miraculous upswing in your sales numbers. The truth is that every upgrade to your small business should be carefully weighed and considered before it’s implemented, and you ought to pore over your options to determine which upgrade will yield the most benefits. If your business deals with shipping, then upgrading your self-checkout stations will probably not be a primary concern. Be practical and judicious in what you choose to overhaul, and be sure that it will raise your profit margins, relative to its base cost. Some upgrades are completely free, but still make heavy use of the modern trends in today’s business world. Social media site like Facebook and Pinterest have become a prominent and powerful tool in the marketing sphere, and you can easily take advantage of these systems. American Express pointed out that 35 percent of small businesses are now utilizing Facebook to attract new customers and build their brand name; why shouldn’t you?

    Emphasize the Employee

    When asked what makes your small business truly small, you probably won’t think of your square footage or income first. Small business is generally defined by its employee numbers, and like most businesses in the United States, you probably employ a limited number of workers compared to the retail giants. To make up for this discrepancy in employee numbers, you need to really maximize the efficiency and role of each employee. All Business discusses the necessities a proper business leader must have, including the ability to aim for and focus on the positive trends in business while staying flexible in how you assign your hours. Most employees, if treated properly, will be more than willing to work with you and help your business grow. With their cooperation, you can have a healthy and sustainable business model, and work in tandem with your most precious and determined resource, your hard-working employee base.
    In today’s economy, the need to stay relevant and keep your business optimized is more crucial than ever. With a bit of know-how and the proper application of your funds and workers, you can have your business run as a tight ship, and rake in the subsequent profits. Staying optimized and organized often boils down to a keen eye in the workplace, and ensuring that you make the most of every asset in your small business. Follow these tips, and you’ll be competing with the big dogs in no time.

    8 ways to monetize your website

    by  • September 29, 2014 • Tagged: , ,

    The Internet is a great way to make money. In order to do this though, it is necessary to know how to monetize a website. There are all sorts of different ways to do this, but knowing the ins and outs of this process is helpful. That is why understanding the eight different ways to monetize a website can point a potential business or website designer into the right direction.

    1. Banner Ads on the Website

    This is one of the easiest ways to monetize a website. Ads placed on a website can help generate some money, depending on the kind of ad you use. Google Adspace is the most often used way of integrating banner ads onto the website. Basically, the site owner receives a certain amount of money every time someone clicks on an advertisement. With other ad services, a website user receives a set amount of money for the number of people who view the ad and do not click it.

    2. Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing is a way to bring in money by advertising different products or services. For example, someone can make a how-to video on how to build a garden fence. They can then provide links to the tools they used to build the fence. When someone clicks on the link and purchases the tool, the website owner receives money for this purchase. There are all sorts of different affiliate services out there. Amazon has this, as does TicketMaster, and dozens of other services. It all depends on what a website coves.

    3. Selling Ad Space

    While the pay per click options and pay per view features are available through the banner option, it is also possible to sell ad space on a website. This is generally done for more popular websites where a flat fee is given. One company might pay $1,000 to have their ad placed at the top of the website or in a certain location.

    4. Sell Products

    A website is able to either sell digital products or physical products. Digital products are the easiest to perform as it does not require any sort of shipping. With the digital option, someone pays to purchase a music track or an image. The physical products require someone to mail out the product, but either way, having a web store on the site is a great feature to integrate into the site. If you want to sell something on your website pay more attention on finding the best domain name as a part of your branding strategy.

    5. Donate Button

    For not profit options (for profit websites can use this as well, although they might find it harder to generate income), it is possible to bring in money through donate button feature. This button allows people to send any amount they want to the Website owner. It usually connects to a PayPal account, but there are different ways to do this and generate some income. You can easily create yours here.

    6. Email List

    When people sign up for information from a website, they provide their email account. After enough emails counts have been obtained, it is possible to sell the email list to a third party, who then sells the list to companies interested in purchasing the information.

    7. Premium Website

    For many website builders, they create a website that features advertisements and one that does not. It is possible to charge someone a monthly fee to access the website without ads. While the amount charged is usually just a few dollars a month, if the website has enough of a following, it is possible for someone to generate a few thousand dollars a month, just by incorporating the service, and it does not alienate visitors to the website as they can still connect to the site, only with ads.

    8. Charge to Access

    For other websites, it is possible to charge to simply access the material inside. The website might provide videos and other special content people do not access without the monthly fee. For some, this can become rather lucrative.

    What Happens if I’m not happy with a Health Insurance Claim Decision?

    by  • August 19, 2014 • Tagged: ,

    There may come a time when you submit a health insurance claim and you’re not happy with the decision made by the insurance provider.  But what can you actually do about it?

    There are a number of reasons why an insurance provider might turn down your claim, such as insufficient need for treatment, or questions over whether the area of treatment is covered by your policy.  Whatever the reason it’s not ideal for you if you end up being presented with a large bill for treatment.

    Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act appealing a decision could be something of an unknown quantity. You might pick up a phone to call the provider and not even be aware that you’re actually starting a formal appeal process. This has all changed, as there are now procedures to be followed by all health insurance providers. You can learn more about the health insurance policies offered by HBF by following this link.

    What are these procedures?

    There are two types of appeal that are possible; internal appeal, and external review.  When an internal appeal takes place the insurance provider looks at the decision again and checks whether or not it is correct.  When an external review takes place the decision is considered by a third party who looks at whether the appeal decision was correct. There are procedures in place for both of these circumstances.

    Internal Appeal

    If you’ve received a decision that you’re unhappy with you need to appeal to the insurance provider within 6 months of receiving the original decision.  If you need help with the appeal you should speak to your local Consumer Assistance Program who can submit it for you.  To submit the appeal you need to either complete the forms your provider requires or write to them with your name, heath insurance id number, and the claim reference number.

    You should include anything that you want to be considered as part of the appeal, such as a doctor’s letter.  Remember that you should keep copies of all the documentation including the original decision, your appeal request and any supporting documentation.

    There are several different types of decision that you can appeal:

    • Benefit not covered by plan
    • Health care provider not in the plan’s network
    • Treatment not medically necessary
    • Claim irregularities

    Your appeal must be decided within 30 days if you’ve not yet received the treatment and within 60 days if you’ve already had the treatment.  The health insurance provider must give you their decision in writing.  If, after reconsidering your case, the provider still refuses your claim you can ask for an external review.

    External Review

    As for the internal appeal, there are procedures to follow for an external review.  You must submit your request in writing within 60 days of receiving the appeal decision.  Sometimes your plan will allow more time than this; you’ll need to check. The third party reviewer will then review the decision and provide you with a response within 60 days of your request.

    Who deals with your request depends on whether or not your state has a provision that complies with consumer protection requirements.  If they don’t then your review will be considered at federal level.

    Budgeting for Traveling and Using a Great Rewards Credit Card to Help Along the Way

    by  • July 8, 2014 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Learning about different cities, cultures and customs is educational and exciting! Everyone loves to visit different places, whether it is to visit friends or family or for a vacation. You may be wondering if it is possible to travel more without spending a lot of money. It is possible, with careful budgeting and using a ... Read more →

    Loan Shark Guide

    by  • July 3, 2014 • Tagged:   • Comments

    With research suggesting that the number of illegal money-lenders operating in the UK continues to soar, read our handy guide to how to spot a loan shark and what to do if you fall victim to one.  Our guide covers the definition of a loan shark, how to handle a loan shark as well as ... Read more →

    How to Cruise on a Dime

    by  • May 23, 2014 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Cruise holidays are some of the best deals out there for budget travellers. All-inclusive cruise deals mean that most food, accommodation and transportation are all nicely wrapped up into one very reasonable sum for a journey that can vary from the Caribbean to Asia. With a range of amenities that are included in the cost ... Read more →

    Best Money Tips for Single Parents

    by  • May 22, 2014  • Comments

    If you are a single parent, trying to have enough money for everyday bills is hard enough. Yet, you want your children to have an enjoyable life. Follow these money tips to save money and have enough to cover your bills without the worry. Keep an Emergency Account An emergency account is necessary for every ... Read more →

    Can You Write Your Own Will?

    by  • December 18, 2013 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    It’s a common misconception that you have to hire an attorney to write your own will. Yes, an attorney will know how to draft a will properly and they know your state’s estate laws, but there are plenty of legal websites out there that can help you draft just as good (if not better) of ... Read more →

    Getting Rid of the For Sale Sign: How to Get Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan

    by  • November 24, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    The dire straits of the economic recession are still taking their toll, especially within the struggling real estate market. There are millions of people throughout the United States who are eagerly searching for ways to qualify for a mortgage loan so that they can get the keys to their new home as soon as possible. ... Read more →

    Ways to Save Money on Sports Shoes

    by  • November 13, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    If you’re a sportsperson then taking care of your body will be essential and your shoes will be far more than a fashion statement. There are many different models of sports shoe for each sport. Some are better than others and some are cheaper than others. The trick to buying the perfect sports shoe is ... Read more →

    Vegas Baby!

    by  • October 1, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    When we started our blog, we were freshly engaged, and had started to plan our wedding. Readers of our blog know that we had some expensive ideas for the wedding and not many of you agreed with our decisions. We went ahead with our own plans anyway a few years after that first post. Five ... Read more →

    INFOGRAPHIC: Be A Premier Performer at Tackling Debt

    by  • September 26, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    The number of individuals living with debt in the UK is on the rise. As of July, the total amount of personal debt held by individuals was right around £1.426 trillion. This is partly the result of the global economic recession which caused a high percentage of redundancies but it’s also on a count of mismanaging ... Read more →

    We’re Buying a House…Sooner or Later

    by  • September 19, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Sadly, after almost nine years of renting an apartment and stable rent payments, we’ve decided that we need to get a bigger place to live. Our financial lives were pretty simple the past few years, even with the addition of a new family member. We’ve decided to turn our world upside-down and look for property ... Read more →

    Five Steps to Setting Up Your Online Business

    by  • September 10, 2013 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    There are several online services that allow you to sell products, whether those products are hand-crafted wares, antiques, or even baked goods. Of course, getting your online business up and running can be a little daunting, depending on how complex or competitive your industry may be. These five steps can help you achieve a no-sweat ... Read more →

    Planning a Holiday on a Budget

    by  • May 31, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Trying to plan a holiday when money is tight can be hard, especially if you’re planning a break for the whole family. There are lots of ways to save money though, so going away somewhere nice doesn’t have to break the bank. Firstly you should think about where you’d like to go. It’s almost certain ... Read more →

    How Small Savings Can Go a Long Way

    by  • May 14, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Even if I am exceptionally good at saving and budgeting money I often forget about small expenses, and whoever said “Don’t sweat the small stuff” obviously didn’t have an expensive daily coffee habit. Despite being organised and striving to be financially secure, if I look at my weekly purchases there are so many small ways ... Read more →

    Choosing the Best Gas Supplier for Your Large Business

    by  • May 8, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Organising energy providers and paying monthly bills is an arduous task for homeowners and small businesses, let alone large businesses and enterprises. Ensuring that the process of organising and paying for large business gas supply is streamlined and simple will mean that the person in charge of the utilities will have an easier time of it. As ... Read more →

    Creative Ways to Tackle Debt

    by  • March 28, 2013 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Many adults find themselves swimming in credit card debt, car debt, house debt and other types of debt. This can be very stressful and you might feel like you’re walking through every day with a gorilla on your back. Whether you’re dealing with unsecured or secured debt, eliminating it from your life will make a ... Read more →

    Don’t Spend Your Savings!

    by  • March 13, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Maybe it’s a problem unique to me, but every time I used to find a way to trim my budget, I ended up just spending the savings. Spending My Savings Prime example – I used to spend roughly $3 per workday on coffee drinks, which multiplied by 20 workdays a month, meant that I coughed ... Read more →