• 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: , , ,

    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 travel credit card to its fullest potential. The best way to do this is to analyze your needs and then look for a credit card that will benefit you the most.

    The card that should place itself at the top of your list is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card since it got the received the most rave reviews on comparison portals like MileCards.com. It is a useful credit card that offers plenty of perks and benefits, and when combined with good budgeting and smart shopping, it will allow you to travel more often with your hard-earned money. One of the biggest perks for cardholders is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, which allows you to travel with a companion free for at least one year, wherever you go!

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    Just for applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and spending $2,000 in the first three months of opening the account, you will be awarded with 50,000 points. This is enough for two round-trip, economy class tickets with Southwest Wanna Get Away fares in the continental United States. The only cost to cardholders is the government taxes, which can be as low as $10 per ticket. This is definitely one of the best bonus offers available.

    When purchases are made directly with Southwest Airlines or AirTran, you will earn double points for each dollar spent on travel, another budget bonus. Double points are also awarded at A+ Rewards and Rapid Rewards Hotel and rental car partners. Purchases made directly while traveling with Southwest Airlines, such as inflight meals, Wi-Fi sessions or movies and video games will earn you double miles as well.

    Budgeting involves living within your predefined spending limits. You can use coupons, shop sales, dine at home instead of eating out and shop with a grocery list so that you don’t over spend and are not tempted to buy items you don’t need. Just cutting out a coffee every morning on your way to work can save over $300 a year! Using your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card to pay for everyday purchases, like gas, groceries, dining out and movies will earn you one point for every dollar spent. Large purchases, such as furniture for the house, insurance for your home or car and telephone and cable or utility bills can help you accumulate more points. Make sure ahead of time that you can pay for large purchases with the credit card so that you earn points.

    Savvy cardholders will want to enroll in the Rapid Rewards dining program. Just for registering the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, you will earn 300 bonus points. There are thousands of participating restaurants, bars and clubs across the United States that participate in the program. Every time you pay with the Rapid Rewards credit card, you will earn four reward points per dollar spent. This is another great way to earn additional points. You may think this goes against your budgeting plans, but it is okay to eat out every once in a while, especially if you are earning bonus points that can be used towards free travel!

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    The Companion Pass with Southwest Airlines is one of the best airline perks available. When you earn 110,000 points with Southwest, you are awarded the Companion Pass. The pass allows you to travel with a selected companion, such as your mother, a friend or spouse every time you fly with Southwest! It is based on a calendar year, so if you earn the 110,000 points in September, you will have the pass for the remainder of the current year, as well as for the entire following calendar year! The 50,000 bonus points earned for applying for the card count towards earning the pass too. Earning the pass can be straightforward. Points earned through Rapid Rewards partners qualify towards earning the pass. If you qualify for the card and spend $2,000 with Southwest Airlines on your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card in the first three months of having the card, you will have 54,000 points. This gets you more than half way there! By budgeting your travel and eating expenses to make the most of your card offers, you can save money on future travel with your companion.

    Research the different card offers to find the right one to help with your particular budget. There are several offers that could be helpful at keeping your travel spending in check.

    Loan Shark Guide

    by  • July 3, 2014 • Tagged: 

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    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 the steps you may take to identify a loan shark.

    What is a loan shark?

    A loan shark is an illegal money – lender who will typically offer cash instantly, in exchange for poor repayment terms and may threaten violence if money is not repaid according to their expectations.

    Why loan sharks should be avoided

    Loan sharks will typically offer loans on very bad terms to their ‘clients’. As such, in repaying a loan shark you stand little chance of actually being able to repay the loan and you will usually end up paying interest and being in a perpetual cycle of debt followed by rising repayments.

    A loan shark will generally also exert undue pressure for ‘clients’ to borrow more money, for example they may suggest that another loan is taken out in order to repay existing debt.

    Perhaps the best reason to avoid loan sharks is the consequences someone faces if they borrow money and cannot afford to repay it. A loan shark will pursue debts relentlessly, engaging in underhand tactics to reclaim the money loaned.

    There is a sliding scale of severity in terms of the tactics some loan sharks will employ to retrieve money, with some resorting to mean intimidation tactics and invasion of privacy, to others who will resort to violence in order to scare people into making repayments. An example of intimidation tactics can range from ‘milder’ cases where debtors are threatened with ‘legal action’ and harsh legal consequences of non payment when in reality these have been made up, to loan sharks who threaten to ‘sell’ the debt on to people who will attack property and people in order to secure repayments.

    Check if your lender is registered

    All legal lenders within the UK need to be registered on what is called the Financial Services Register. Any lender who is not registered is an illegal lender and may be subject to prosecution or criminal sanction for operating an illegal money lending service. If you are in any doubt as to the credential of a lender, don’t take their word for it; ask them for proof they are a licensed lender, or check the Financial Services Register for free.

    Consider whether a reputable lender can help

    If you are in debt you may wish to think about approaching a licensed, reputable lender like Wonga. These types of lenders will display their credentials on their advertisements and will happily explain how you may double – check these. Our recommendation is to focus on the larger and substantially more ‘public’ loan providers as companies of this scale value PR much more than trying to hoodwink a few customers.

    Don’t let a loan shark into your home

    Loan sharks will frequently try to gain access to their victim’s home in order to resort to illegal tactics to recover the money. As such you should never let a loan shark into your home. You can install a ‘peephole’ on your front door, or a lock with a chain so that you can find out who is at the door without having to open the door fully, or at all. If you suspect that a loan shark or an agent of a loan shark is at your door you should remain calm and ask them to leave.

    Report illegal money lending

    Many people simply do not realise that it is an offence to lend someone money if you are not a regulated, registered lender. An illegal money-lender, or loan shark therefore has no legal authority to demand money to be repaid under any circumstances and if reported to the police an illegal money lender can be arrested and have property confiscated. There have even been some cases of loan sharks being asked to repay their victims or face being sent to prison.

    Get independent financial advice

    There are many agencies in the UK who offer free financial advice to people in debt. You should remember that being in debt is not a criminal offence and if you are in debt this is something that must be addressed responsibly. A debt counsellor can work out a budget for you and will advise you of legal procedures that protect your when under financial strain such as bankruptcy, an IVA or a Dent Management Plan.

    Your input: we would love to hear it!

    Why not post a comment if you feel you have been affected by any of the issues we have discussed in this blog?

    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 →

    Insurance for Pubs

    by  • March 8, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    A pub isn’t like most other businesses, and has specific problems that may arise that are unique to it, such as loss of license, damage caused by customers, and potential injury to members of staff. Ideally, these types of incidents will be few and far between but, if they do occur, it will be important ... Read more →