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A Lightbulb Moment: Investing In Sustainability

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Reducing your carbon footprint is the big thing on every modern investor’s mind, it’s just disguised as “how can we save money?” Because the great thing about working towards a sustainable world, whether it is renovation and selling your property on, or by using technology to cut down on the amount of paper waste, it is a smart move to invest in green living to get the green. As new investors that are trying to make their way onto the ladder, there are some approaches you can take.

Purchasing green bonds is a good entry point for brand new investors. As the green industry is increasing each and every day, these bonds are essentially a broad term for “debt instruments.” The proceeds are applied to new and current environmental initiatives, and as they can make a short-term profit as well as a long-term profit in the sense of the global impact on the initiative, it makes financial sense to get involved.   

Sustainability is a buzzword in environmental practices. By switching to sustainable products in your business, and by using renewable resources, this is ensuring a better investment for businesses over time. The initial expense can be deemed sizable, but this is then offset by the increase in revenue in the ensuing years. You can learn more from Oil & Energy Investor on the profitability that sustainability in all its forms has on a business. A lot of companies choose to support sustainability organizations, and as the majority of these organizations are not for profit, they benefit from the revenue of businesses that use renewables. As an investor, you can opt to invest in the stocks of these businesses, which would encourage them greatly.

When choosing to invest, it is always a risky venture. A way around this is to invest in mutual funds, and for the most part, you will enjoy better benefits. Invest in green mutual funds, in the renewable industry, or related to the environment. Also, the alternative energy mutual funds are another route which is a sound and responsible investment. If you did not want to invest, then you could start your own green business. If this is something that you can get behind, it is a great way to show initiative in improving the environment. There are several green businesses that require little money to get off the ground. Or if you would rather operate a business in an ethical way, you could buy or sell green products or spearhead green initiatives, such as planting trees around your office or installing renewable power sources.

Renewable energy is a big industry, and it is always increasing in scope. Investing in this industry will allow you to buy many different types of assets or you can invest into renewable energy projects, such as solar panels, or a wind farm. As the energy sources of the last 100 years are slowly dying out, we are, as a planet, looking to the future and how we can preserve the earth. Renewables and going green are essential pillars of the modern world and an essential aspect of investment.

 


Top 5 Ways To Save Money

Saving money is something we’ve all needed to become better at doing in recent years. However, most people would probably admit that they could do more. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at the top five ways you can save money, with some included that could even help you to make extra money on top of the savings for a double dose of financial benefits.

Save MoneyConsider Your Lifestyle

Yes, we know this is probably a very boring idea that you might not want to hear, but the stark reality for the vast majority of people is that changing their lifestyle will have the biggest impact on their finances.

Why don’t people do this? Generally, it’s because they believe their lifestyle is something that is fixed and they then look to earn money to satisfy this. Not a problem, but at the same time if you want extra money it isn’t always going to be easy to get another job and a pay rise.

Think about what you’re spending and if you really need to be spending such amounts. Many people don’t make savings when they think they’ll only save a little, but in terms of the bigger picture you’ll save a great deal more than you expect. It all adds up!

Lose the Car

Some people might throw this into the lifestyle category, but for us many people see a car as an essential rather than as a lifestyle choice. Take it from this author, who thought he needed a car until the day he got rid of it and has saved a small fortune since, without having any problems getting around or living his life. Oh, and he has kids, too.

Yes, public transport costs are increasing, but using it is still cheaper than owning a car in most instances, and you’ll be doing the environment a good turn, too.

Find a Wealth Manager

Even wealthier individuals find themselves looking to save money. If you’re one of these, then using a wealth management company like ACPI is definitely something you should explore.

You can even connect with employees of these companies online through various social media websites, making it easy to discover what they do and how they can make a difference to you. This is an idea that can make you money as well as save you money.

Downsize Your Home

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to where you live. We’re not saying you need to go to IKEA and get one of their concept homes that puts a whole house into a very small space, but do you really need the two spare bedrooms and third that you’ve converted into an office?

The money you’ll save on a smaller home is huge, too, especially if you’ve paid off your mortgage and will make a profit on the sale; you’ll even have the money for a great holiday!

Go to the Bank

If you don’t want to make too many changes to your life and want to keep your money saving simple, then go to the bank and try a fixed term bond. You can’t withdraw your money, so you’re certain to save rather than spend!

Spend time online and look for financial resources that will help you to make the best decisions for you.

Featured images:

Graham Barker likes to consider himself a savvy individual who does a lot to save money in his home. As a result, Graham is able to have luxurious holidays every year although he still lives very comfortably despite having a simple life.


New Software to Run your Finances

New Software to Run your Finances

Economy seems to have been the buzz word for the last couple of years. Everyone is paying more attention to the economy, their jobs, and especially their finances. With technology on the rise, and their prices getting more affordable, many are turning towards tech to help keep their finances in order and save as much money as possible.

The economy’s future is unknown, but your finances and budget don’t have to be. If you are also turning to your computer or smartphone to help manage your finances, then you should consider the software and apps you will need in order to stay organized. Here is some of the most popular software to keep you on top of your finances.

You Need a Budget:

YNAB is personal finance software that implores 4 rules of budgeting. Each rule is implemented in the software as well as teaches you how to look at your money differently. These rules include giving each dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, and stop living paycheck to paycheck. More than just a system for their software, these rules can be applied to everyday spending.

The software shows you how to create your budget and stick with it. You can import your bank statements to see where your money is going, where it has been, and how much you are saving. The software remembers everything from your normal bills, to the larger infrequent payments that need to be made. There is even an iPhone and Android app available for managing your budget on the go. You can try it for free, but the full version of the software is $60 and is available for Mac and Windows.

Manilla:

This is an online service that basically puts all of your bills in one place. By adding all of your accounts, Manilla will show balances due, payments that have been made and reminds you of when your payments are coming up. You can easily track all of your utilities and other bills with one password. This service is meant to help avoid late fees and overdraft charges by offering an easier way to view your monthly bills. Currently Manilla is n beta and is free to sign up.

AceMoney:

Since Microsoft Money is no longer supported or upgraded, many are looking for full featured software to replace it. AceMoney is one of those software suites. It is a cheap solution that offers downloadable transactions, budgeting, and investment tracking, plus much more. The software tracks your spending habits and shows you how to budget your money more effectively. You can view reports in AceMoney or export it to your favorite spreadsheet format.

Buxfer:

This software does it all. It allows you to upload reports from your accounts, track payments, and even set spending limits. If there is more than one in the family with access to your accounts, you can even track shared expenses and spending. For those who want to keep an eye on your budget while on the go, there is an iPhone app available to see where your finances stand no matter where you are.

Either the economy needs to improve or we need to improve our budgeting. If your finances are on your mind, look to technology and the many different software suites available for managing your personal budget and spending. Take the small amount of time it takes to enter your account information and yield the rewards of a better financial future.

Author Thomas Hathaway is a finance consultant and contributor for payday loans uk, a site that provides more information and cash advances when you need an advance on your regular paycheck.


The Unexpected Costs of Living

The Unexpected Costs of Living

Life is full of mysterious setbacks and hiccups. Especially when it comes to finances, nothing is for certain and nothing should be taken for granted. A healthy financial plan should take unexpected costs into consideration, because so many times in life we find ourselves paying money for things we didn’t expect. These are called contingencies and a fraction of your Visa debit card balance should be set aside to pay for them. The following is a short list of unexpected but common occurences that you could find yourself subsidizing and what to do should they happen:

Car accident. One of the great risk/reward, promise/peril dichotomies of modern living is driving an automobile. Its usefulness to business, commerce, and personal convenience is widely established, yet within a period of just a few seconds, you can find yourself in the hole for thousands of dollars because of a single errant turn of the steering wheel. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and also one of the leading costs of insurance. If you get into a car accident, immediately contact your car insurance company. If you can afford it, increase your deductibles in order to reduce your premium. Also, drop unnecessary coverage features.

Personal injury. A broken leg, deep cut, or surgery can cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills. Ideally, you’ll have health care insurance to balance out these costs. If not, you could find yourself in debt for years, possibly decades. Even with health care, the deductibles for some plans are up to $500 or more and that’s not counting the added costs of physical therapy, additional surgeries, and the time you may need to take off from work in order to recuperate. Our bodies are fragile and a major injury could happen any day. You don’t need to be paranoid, just financially prepared. It may be worth hiring a personl injury attorney. Often times you can be awarded significant amounts of medical subsidies from the courts. At the very least, contact your health care insurer and find out what procedures will and won’t be covered.

The vagaries of Wall Street. For anyone who invested significant amounts of money in stocks in the past decade, the fluctuations of the market are no surprise. Many people lost thousands of dollars, even their entire retirement plans when the economy crashed. Hopefully, this served as a lesson learned in the fragility of man-made systems. But for people who are persistent and keep investing in risky stocks, it’s good to be sure you’re not using money you can’t afford to lose. Investing in the stock market is no get-rich-quick scheme. Be patient and smart and look for promising penny stocks and stocks that pay healthy dividends.

We all know the normal costs of living. What can pass under the radar are the unexpected costs of living—freak accidents, injuries, market crashes and other anomalies that while unusual are somehow par for the course. Be smart and set aside a fund to help pay for these costs so they don’t liquidate your bank account.


5 Ways to Be Frugal

5 Ways to Be Frugal

Being frugal does not imply that you are cheap, selfish or mean. You are only being frugal because you are trying to save for something specific or clear a certain bill. To stay focused, you have to write all your goals down and know what you want to achieve. Through a lot of commitment, you will be in a good position to meet all your goals.

1. How To Be Frugal
First of all, you should calculate the amount of all the cash that you have on hand, and how often you will receive more cash. Once you finish, you need to compile a list of all the things that you need. Then, go through it again to confirm that all of these things are actually necessities. Once you have made the confirmation, it is advisable that you start calculating the cost of the different commodities that you have listed. This way, you will know the amount of cash that you have to spend every month.

2. Start Shopping!

Look for stores that have free samples and discounts. The free samples will come in handy, and you will not have to spend a single cent on these items. By searching and asking around, you will be able to find different places where you can be given different kinds of samples. The best place that you can go to is online. Once you have subscribed to various listservs and emails (if you don’t want your email full of junk, open an account just for this), all the items will be sent to you through your mail. To keep getting the deals, you’ll have to renew the subscription.

3. Go Green!
Use energy-saving equipment. These include solar panels and energy-saving bulbs. When using a panel, you won’t have to make any electricity payments. This is because you will be getting your energy from the sun! Just.make sure that it has been installed in a place where it can be fully exposed to the sun.

4. Medicinal Cures

When buying medication, you will notice that the brand-name items are more expensive than the generic brands. If you are really trying as much as you can to use less cash every day, you should really purchase the generic medicine. They are effective, and so long as you follow the instructions carefully, you will be able to heal all the same.

5. Bonus Tip
To really be frugal, invest the cash you have saved on a lucrative project, some promising stocks or at least a good savings account. This way, you will be making more cash at the end of the day. After you’ve worked hard enough, you can finally reap the rewards!

Taylor Levine writes about frugality, travels extensively and frequents Homeownersinsurance.org.


Three New Year’s Resolutions for the Fiscally Minded

Three New Year’s Resolutions for the Fiscally Minded

Tis the season my friends… At this time of year it’s customary to eat as much turkey as is physically possible, lavish each other with expensive gifts, drink large quantities of whatever happens to be left in your drinks cabinet (normally something horrible like Cointreau) and then 6 days later repent everything and promise that this year will be the year you sort your life out and get back to the gym.

With Christmas soon to be here and gone it’s time to set out your agenda for 2012 and start formulating those all important New Year’s resolutions. Most people tend to stick with the same old mantras of ‘I will go to the gym at least once a week’, or ‘I’ll eat salad at least once a week’. As 2012 is looking like it’s going to be another difficult year financially, it’s time to sprinkle a little frugality and pragmatism into those New Year resolutions – after all, a healthy bank balance leads to a healthy peace of mind…

I will not impulse buy on a whim and a prayer.

Everyone is guilty of doing this on occasion, for most of us it happens just around payday. You may decide to go out on your lunch-break, or into town on a Saturday, and then all of a sudden you find yourself attracted to a shiny object and BHAM! You’re at the till handing over your credit card and buying something you don’t really need. Avoid impulse buying in 2012. If you need an item then that’s justifiable, but if you can live without it then don’t buy it – you’ll save lots in the long run by keeping your impulses in check.

I will keep a spreadsheet of all my outgoing and incoming. I will budget like a responsible adult.

OK so let’s be honest, spreadsheets aren’t cool or sexy, but if used correctly, they can be immensely helpful, especially for those living on a budget. Having lived in a shared house for many years I understand the pain of having to keep track of all the bills, as well as the individual debts that build up over time. Believe me, keeping a household account is a lot easier than fretting about how much that bill was, or who owes who what. It also allows you to work out the average monthly/annual cost of certain bills, helping you to budget for the future with a little more ease. Keeping a spreadsheet or a household account is all about sticking to a routine and being ordered. Keep your financial info up to date and stick with it.

I will set aside something every month for a rainy day

Let’s face up to reality here, the western global economy and its’ particular brand of consumer capitalism is unlikely to make a healthy recovery back to the affluent levels of 1996 anytime soon. Even the most optimistic outlook on the global economy suggests that most western economies will either stay stagnant or experience only slight growth throughout 2012. With that in mind it makes sense, if you haven’t already, to start planning for a rainy day. Setting up a standing order or using an online system to filter away a few dollars here and there is simple. Even if you only manage to save a few bucks each month it can still make all the difference for when that rainy day eventually arrives.

Keeping an eye on your finances is relatively easy – sticking to your budget is much harder. It takes a lot of willpower to keep things on track, but savings a little bit here and there, as well as being more fiscally responsible will pay dividends in the long run.


How to Keep Money in Your Pocket

How to Keep Money in Your Pocket

The economy is forcing people to pay more attention to spending. Deciding if an item is a need or a want is hard, but necessary. Nobody likes to have to choose between paying a bill or buying a collectible, it’s just a sign of the times, so to speak. Follow these plans to keep the most money you can in your pocket!

1. Plan Your Day
Taking a few minutes to plan a shopping trip can save money on gas. Decide what stores you really need to visit. If you have another appointment in the same town, try to schedule them the same day. Plan out your route to limit the amount of traveling between points.

2. Check Ads
Coupons are a major craze today. Clippers accumulate dozens of the small slips of paper each week. While it seems 50 cents off a loaf of bread seems hardly worth the effort, some stores double the value.
Gathering several coupons for multiple items can add up to great savings. There are coupons for nearly everything you buy, from food to clothing to oil changes for your car. Always keeping an eye out for sales and coupons can help you cut your retail and grocery budget by a large chunk.

3. Cook What You Have
Cooking at home is a great way to save money. Eating out is quick and convenient after a long day of
work or school, but what most people don’t realize is, that by the time they spend $20 at the drive-thru window, they could buy all the ingredients for a delicious quick homemade meal at a fraction of the price. Making dinner at home not only saves money, it gives you time with your family and is healthier!

4. Make Small Repairs ASAP
Make sure there are no water leaks around the house. Just two leaky faucets that drip once a minute
waste approximately sixty-nine gallons of water each year. Check the faucet knobs – make sure they are still turning all the way off. Sometimes the rubber washers wear out inside the knob, allowing for loose fits and letting water drip, costing you money.

5. Turn off the Lights!
Check for lights, radios and televisions left on around the house. Any plugged-in item adds an amount to your power bill each month. As with other things, the small amounts aren’t visible alone, but when kept under control, you will see the difference.

6. Impulse Buys are Evil!
While waiting for the line to move, you pick up a tabloid from the rack, see an article you want to finish and next thing, it’s in the cart. These items are placed to catch your attention at the very end of your shopping trip. Retailers know that you will have to stand in line at some point. There, the temptations begin. News about celebrities you read once and throw away. That’s costly trash. Other items are placed there to capture your attention in hopes that you will pick them up as well. To keep money in your wallet, resist the urge!

7. Simple is Key
Saving money isn’t always easy, but it can be done with careful planning, good decision making and priorities. Coupons, eating at home and avoiding impulse buys can help you keep that money in your pocket for a rainy day.


Got No Credit? Want To Build Some?

Got No Credit? Want To Build Some?

Building up your credit can take time – but what if you have no credit to begin with? How do you build credit when you are just starting out?

If you are just beginning, you’ve probably run into the problem of being denied credit because you have no credit. How are you supposed to build credit if no one will give you a chance? It’s an age-old problem. The key is to start small, remain consistent and over time, you can develop a financial profile that will make it easy to obtain credit.

For those looking to establish credit, one of the easiest ways is to obtain a secured credit card. A secured card is one that you by depositing a certain amount of money. You are then allowed to use the card up to that amount. In other words, if you get this type of card and deposit $500, your credit limit on the card is $500. As you use the card, the card issuer will report to the credit bureaus, and your usage and payment history will help you establish a credit history.

Another option is to obtain a retail store credit card. These cards are relatively easy to get, but they do charge high interest rates. Using a store card wisely for about a year can go a long way toward setting you up with good credit.

When seeking to build credit, you may be tempted to run out and apply for several different credit cards. But be warned: you should definitely take your time when applying for new lines of credit. A flurry of new credit card applications is not looked on favorably by the credit reporting bureaus, or by lenders. Prove yourself first with the one card you have to establish and build your credit before you attempt to add other lines of credit.

You should keep an eye on your outstanding balances, and refrain from reaching the maximum limit on any credit card. Credit reporting agencies look at the ratio of total available debt versus the actual outstanding debt. If you have used a large portion of your available debt, it is a definite negative on your credit report.

One of the simplest things you can do to establish good credit is to pay your bills on time. Doing so will help improve your creditworthiness in the eyes of the credit bureaus, and will make you appear more trustworthy to lenders.


Keeping Up With Gold Prices

Keeping Up With Gold Prices

With the increased number of people who are choosing to invest in gold, and the ever-fluctuating prices, it’s important for you to be able to keep up with the going rates. Whether you are an investor, someone looking to invest, or simply have an interest in gold, then you can find good ways to keep yourself updated on gold prices. Gold prices are constantly changing, yes, but there are many ways of tracking those changes and learning about them so you can use them to your greatest advantage.
In the past, it was up to the daily newspaper or economic journals to track gold changes. Firms dealing in gold had their own ways of tracking gold prices as well, and you would have to work with one of these to get their information. However, as times have progressed, it’s much easier to access this information and have it at your fingertips.
Modern Ways to Track Gold Prices
There must be hundreds of websites out there solely dedicated to the following of gold prices. Services that offer options for buying and selling gold usually keep track of the prices, both locally and worldwide. Many of these websites offer you the option to subscribe and receive regular updates whenever you need them. This can be useful if you want hour-by-hour or daily info on gold prices.An increasingly used way for tracking gold prices comes directly to your smartphone. There are more and more apps being created for people who want to keep up on their investments, and these can be a great option for you if you want to be able to check up on them whenever you feel like it. Apps and mobile websites are both great options for staying constantly informed.

Of course, if you are working with an investment agent, then he or she should be keeping you informed and making sure your investments are going well, but even so you can get the info you need yourself with only a few seconds of work. By using up to date sources of gold price knowledge, you can be sure that your money is where it should be.

Investing in gold is a highly recommended option, and it’s something that nearly anyone can do. If you want to make the most of your cash, and you have had it invested in gold, then be sure to stay updated and pay attention to the trends with these modern ways of getting information.


Three Things About My Finances I Wish I Could Tell My College Self

Three Things About My Finances I Wish I Could Tell My College Self

As we move through life, we sometimes find ourselves thinking about what we would have done differently if given the chance to do it all over again. One area that I find I think about most is in relation to finances.

Although little can be done today about the what-if’s of yesterday, if I had the opportunity to teach my college self anything, it would have to do with how to better handle finances. It really is true that the decisions we make early in life, can have a major effect on how we live in the future.

Stay Out of Debt

The best piece of advice I would give to my college self would be to stay out of debt. It seems that college students are prime targets for credit card companies. The lure of easy money and the ability to purchase things without actually having to have the cash available to do so is a hard temptation to resist. If you must have a credit card, click here first to compare interest rates and terms.

Credit card debt, however, can lock you into years and years of increasing payments if it isn’t put under control immediately or better yet, not entered into at all. Many students today are leaving college with debt from both student loans and credit cards putting them already behind the 8-ball before they even earn their first real paycheck. Therefore, it’s important to steer clear of debt. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending the next decade or longer just trying to pay it off.

Start Saving Early

Although saving money is the furthest thing from most college students minds, it is essential to get into the good habit of setting at least some money aside on a regular basis. By initiating this habit early in life, it is likely that you will continue to practice good savings habits throughout your entire life. And this is essential if you want to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement or even before.

Nobody ever said that you had to wait until you turn 65 to retire. And, by starting to save money early you could very well have the opportunity to retire at an age much younger than 65. A nice nest egg will give you the choice of how and where you want to live and the first step to getting there is to begin saving at an early age even while still in college.

Purchase a Home

As a college student, buying real estate was nowhere close to being on my radar screen. In fact, even the idea of renting a small apartment was iffy. Back in those days, though, it was certainly great to have my own place – even though, unfortunately, it really wasn’t my place.

The apartment I rented belonged to my landlord and that landlord collected rent from me, as well as all of his other tenants month after month after month. Because of that, I helped my landlord build equity in his property and to move closer to owning the property free and clear.

Over the years, I’ve realized that if only I had purchased my home earlier in life, I too would have equity built in that property and would likely be very close to owning the property free and clear.

One reason that many young people shy away from purchasing a home versus renting is that they feel they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment. But, with today’s first time home buyer deals, coupled with low interest rates, owning a home could be much easier than you think. If you are able to lock into a low fixed rate mortgage, you may even end up paying far less in mortgage payments than you would to rent an apartment that is owned by someone else!

For those who are in college today, the financial picture in the economy is far different than it was in the past. But there are still great opportunities out there to save and invest – while keeping yourself as far away as possible from debt.

When not writing finance articles for blogs and online publications George Gallagher helps graduates find student loan consolidation with not-for-profit credit unions.


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