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How to Affordably Develop Skills

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It is a simple rule to follow that the more skills you develop, the better your chances of being able to earn more money in the future. In days gone by, you would have had to spend a great deal of cash to develop skills. However, the internet has changed all this – making a whole host of skills so much more accessible. And when you don’t have a huge amount of money to spend in the first place, this is so important. Here are some of the ways that you can learn skills without spending a fortune.

Read, Read and Read Some More

Books are expensive, but you can read as many online articles as you like for free. And with so much information readily available on the internet, you can learn any skill under the sun. If you still think that you need access to books, you can get them so much more affordably in electronic format. Though you may think that there is only so much you can learn by reading, you are giving yourself an invaluable starting point.

Join a Professional Organisation or Club

There are professional organisations out there dedicated to all sorts of subjects. While reading is a solitary activity, professional organisations and clubs can put you in touch with people who have the same interests as you. Social media provides a great place to start when you are looking for organisations which suit your needs well. Online groups are a good place to build up your confidence until you feel ready to attend a club in person.

Take Classes

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There are plenty of courses which you can take online to improve all sorts of skills. Some of these courses are even available entirely for free. Otherwise, there are all sorts of educational organisations such as an online bachelor’s in healthcare administration which offer courses at a reduced rate in comparison to their ‘real life’ courses. One of the major advantages of taking courses online is that you can study in your own time and fit learning around the other commitments that you have in your life.

Volunteer

If you feel like you need some real practical experience in your chosen skill, you could always volunteer your time in that area. For example, if you feel like you need to improve your writing skills, you could always write for some online publications for free. Sometimes, the practical experience that you get makes it worthwhile to commit your time for free.

Attend Events

There are plenty of free events out there which bring together people who are experts in the skill that you are trying to develop and people who are just learning. So, take a look online to find out what sort of occasions are available for you to attend.

Developing your skills is a lifelong pursuit which is worth taking part in seriously. These are just a few of the ways that you can do this without spending a vast sum of money for the privilege.


Your Employees Are Your Greatest Asset. Are You Letting Them Down?

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There are a lot of things that you need to consider when running a business. It can often feel as though you’re keeping a whole lot of plates spinning all at once. In fact, trying to do that can often be incredibly overwhelming, to the point that a lot of people struggle to manage it at all. That’s where your employees come in. Out of all of the assets in your business, there’s no denying that there are any more important than your employees. Not only are they able to take a great deal of the weight off of your shoulders but they can also help to guide your business, as well as keeping it running smoothly. Of course, that’s only possible if you’re able to support your employees as best you can. If you’re not able to create the best possible environment for your employees, then you’re never going to be able to get the most out of them. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make sure that you’re not letting your employees down.

Training

Your employees might be the most important aspect of your business, but they’re not going to be able to do anything if they haven’t been properly trained. After all, every role within any given business requires a whole host of skills that not everyone is necessarily going to have. Whether it’s OSHA training, training in a specific piece of software, or simply improving their ability to communicate with other members of staff, if you’re not providing frequent and valuable training for all of your employees, they’re going to be woefully unprepared for the tasks ahead of them. The time and money required to train your employees are likely to be pretty negligible when compared to the benefits that training will provide.

Flexibility

There was a time when most businesses were defined by a pretty rigid adherence to strict schedules. However, over the last several years more and more research has come out demonstrating that this might not be the ideal solution. In fact, rather than forcing employees to all work specific hours in a single place, being flexible with when and where they work can often improve your business significantly. Being able to fit work around their personal lives can often make for much happier and more motivated employees, and offering things like remote working means that you can find the best possible people for any given job without having to limit yourself to those who are local to your business premises.

Appreciation

One of the most common mistakes that a lot of business owners can make is that they assume that, because their employees come away with a paycheck at the end of each month, that means that they will always be as motivated and happy as possible. However, your employees are not machines. You can’t just put money in and expect great work to come out. They are human beings with needs and limitations. This means that you’ve got to be able to show them an appreciation for all of the hard work and effort that they put in. Even simple things like offering bonuses when your employees go above and beyond the call of duty, or even simply recognising some fantastic work really can go a long way to helping your employees feel more motivated and satisfied at work.

Communication

Communication has always been the bedrock of any successful business. Without it, you’re almost certainly going to fall into the trap of your left hand having no idea what your right hand is doing. If you’re not able to effectively communicate what you want to your employees, they’re never going to be able to get things done. Sure, employees should be able to take the initiative but leaving them entirely to their own devices is going to make life harder for everyone.

It’s often tempting to feel as though, as the owner of the business, you’re the most important person in it. And sure, there’s a degree to which that might actually be true, but you need to be sure that you understand just how important the impact that your employees have in your business really is. In fact, your employees could well be having more of an impact on your business than you realise.


How To Make The Workplace More Diverse

A large problem that’s still around is that society dictates who should work where and if the rules are broken then it’s somehow frowned upon. For example, women working on building sites simply isn’t something that you often see due to the nature of the work and sometimes the comments received from colleagues who are male. The workplace shouldn’t be somewhere that you feel like you have to conform to fit in, and everyone should be given an equal chance. To avoid being a business that is like this, here are some tips on how to make the workplace more diverse so that you can have the best of the best working for you; leading to a more successful business.

Workplace More Diverse

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Be blind to gender

One of the worst things that business owners do is assume someone’s capabilities because of what gender they are. It may be true that men are built differently to women and in general are more powerful, but that doesn’t mean that a woman that walks through the door won’t be of any use to you. For example, if you run a busy kitchen that has male chefs, you shouldn’t assume that if a woman applies for the position that she will be any less capable than your male employees. The decision whether to hire someone should be based on skill and not whether or not they will fit in with the pattern that’s already there.

Don’t let language barriers get in the way

It’s understandable that it can become frustrating when someone who doesn’t speak your language is trying to obtain custom from you. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be turned away or left disappointed. The language people offer multiple services that can help you like website translation, interpreters, document checking, multilingual SEO and much more. Rather than closing off your business to a whole world of opportunities, why not get some help along the way?

Appearance means nothing

Another problem that businesses run into is judging people by the way that they look before seeing what they could offer your business. Whether it’s someone interviewing for a position at the company, a customer, or even someone wanting to collaborate business wise, it’s always important to remember that appearance means nothing. Some people choose to go for more radical looks than you might be used to, but it doesn’t mean that their skills or custom would be of any less value. Remember to put the business before opinions so that you can ensure that each and every person that comes into contact with your business is the right one, and so that your business can continue thriving.


A rise in Social Security checks in 2018 – Seniors need not get excited about it

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As per recent reports from the news agencies, the Social Security Administration lately announced an adjustment of cost-of-living which has been abbreviated as COLA, of 2% which means the recipients of Social Security will get a hike to their monthly checks. This is going to start from December, 2017 and reports reveal that this is the highest COLA in the last 6 years making it the most welcoming change for the American seniors and retirees.
Nevertheless, if you go by historical standards, a 2% COLA is pretty low and with the way in which Medicare costs are soaring out of control, they could offset major part of this increase. The major expenses which the seniors usually incur might be rising sooner than the COLA. If you wish to know more on the social security adjustments and their history, read on the rest of the article. Also know why 2% increase is not considered as something great for the retirees.

COLA – How is it decided?

The cost of living adjustments with regards to social security are usually decided by inflation. When the costs of services and goods increase, the benefits on Social Security should also rise by a similar percentage, so that the retirees can maintain their power of purchasing things. The Social Security COLAs, specifically, are based on the CPI (Consumer Price Index) for Clerical workers and Urban Wage Earners. This index traces the price of few items which are intended to represent working families.

Social Security COLA – A short history

This particular COLA method has been in impact in the US since 1975 and prior to this, SS benefit hikes were decided by the legislation and not according to any specific formula. There has been a dramatic increase in annual COLA over years and since 1975, annual adjustments have been as high as 15.4% and as low as 0%. However, in an average year, COLA has been 3.75% and this is why a 2% hike is considered as half of the average.

The significance of COLA for American seniors

As per data, the average retired senior worker gathers a Social Security benefit of around $1391 per month and hence a hike of 2% would mean an increased monthly benefit of $1398 or $27 more. There are many retirees which collect much more than the average and hence they will automatically get more benefit than others. In the year 2017, the maximum SS benefit which was collected by someone was $2876 and with a COLA of 2%, this would mean a hike of about $55. People who waited to attain their full retirement age could possibly be receiving much more. Hence, this means that it is indeed certain that few beneficiaries can receive a $72 monthly COLA which kicks off in December, 2017.

Therefore, when you’re a senior who has been wondering about the ways in which you can increase your retired income, you can definitely factor in this hike. However, don’t increase your expenses so that you are not able to save any money.


Why Brexit is not Recession Part 2

Why Brexit is not Recession Part 2

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As expected, Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union had its immediate impact (needless to say, adverse) on World Economy. And, we clearly aren’t speaking only of mild tremors here. One of the major financial headlines to closely follow the heels of the “Brexit panic” was that of the global market being swept off $2 trillion dollars right away. As the world feared that the UK referendum was not going the way David Cameron had planned it, the British pound went on to experience its scariest one-day sell-off figures. The London stock market started with plummeting figures only to recover by closing down 199 points.

Brexit: Financial “Bad” News

That Britain would suffer its biggest financial blow if it did choose to leave EU, had been made clear way before the referendum. Understanding the dynamics becomes simpler when one takes Britain’s exports into account. More than half of its exports are restricted within Europe- not to forget the lower tariff and the other trade facilities Britain used to enjoy as a member. And, its decision to leave the Union would, in all probability, lead to a sizeable reduction in the trade as well. As per reports, Britain’s trade would fall by something in between 1.1 to just a bit above 3 per cent.

The tremors are felt mostly in Asia, America and Europe. Now, however, is the time to find out whether a consistent trend has developed over these days following Brexit or not. Let us discover the same. Is it time to brace up for another recession? We hope not! Let us find out what the leading economists have to say.

In an interview to CNBC, John Van Reenen (Centre for Economic performance at the London School of Economics) opined that the world will immediately be faced with short-term economic challenges where the businesses will be scared to make investing decisions simply because they’re uncertain about the future.

Paul Krugman of New York Times argues that though short-term crisis is almost imminent, there is yet no reason to believe that we are heading towards something as massive as Recession. He agrees that the trade tariffs are low and the restrictions are milder compared to what the non-members have to face. Plus, the lack of assurance from Britain regarding long-term investments will definitely lead to plummeting trade and productivity in the country. In the past, we have witnessed the kind of positive impact the European countries have been able to yield on cross- border selling– riding solely on their assurance. Today, however, there is little room for such assurance.

However, he refused to brand Brexit as a long-term crisis because he believes that the fall of the Britain pound is not as big as it sounds. According to him, Britain in fact had witnessed much bigger fall at different junctures in the past including during the 70’s crisis and when it decided to leave the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992. And, because the country borrows in its own currency, it is definitely not going face the kind catastrophe experienced by Argentina which borrowed in dollars.

Winding up

So, basically it is not yet the right time to compute the magnitude of Brexit’s impact. Economists have unequivocally agreed on short term crisis but touting it as Recession 2.0 is definitely a farcry.


Solar Brokers Canada: Ontario’s solar power system brokers

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North America is leading the way in a global solar energy revolution. As countries around the world honor their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate more reusable energy sources into their power supply, the green energy sector has been able to reap the benefits of incredible growth. Data released earlier this year from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research found: “U.S. solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30 percent increase over the previous year and representing nearly $18 billion in new investment,” this as reported by Daniel Cussick and ClimateWire.

The steady growth is part of a five-year trend that has seen solar energy production increase along with the steady decline of solar panel prices. With solar panel installation costs decreasing across the board, experts predict the boom is here to stay. “Since solar costs are beating those of competing energy sources, there are expectations of a boom in demand — and it’s going to be a global solar boom. GTM Research predicts that solar installations will triple to 135 GW annually by 2020,” Travis Hoium wrote for USA Today.

With a global boom forecasted, there is bound to be a rise in companies that sell solar panel systems and do-it-yourself solar panel kits. However, like any new industry, it can be hard for the consumer to navigate, thus highlighting the importance of solar brokerage firms. These are companies that employ experts who can advise homeowners and business owners on the lengthy and often complicated process of assessing, acquiring and installing solar panels.

The Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) is the Canadian national trade organization representing the solar industry.While they are a not regulatory body, their existence helps maintain a high standard of quality and service within the industry. CanSIA members include solar panel manufacturers, installation companies and brokerages. One of those companies is Solar Brokers Canada, the leading solar brokerage firm in Canada.

Solar Brokers Canada was established to facilitate and consult consumers throughout the solar power system acquisition process. Solar Brokers Canada is committed to excellence and employs a strict vetting process of all key players within the industry for the ultimate benefit of the consumer.

Since the company’s inception, Solar Brokers Canada has been able to establish itself as an industry leader; the company attributes its success to a strong business strategy that benefits both their clients and the industry partners they work with. The company’s Chief Operations Officer Joseph Barker says Solar Brokers Canada’s mandate is to “create a unified standards program that ensures transparency and quality for the end consumer.”

This dedication to excellence and transparency has not only benefited Solar Brokers Canada as a company, it has raised the bar for the Canadian solar industry as a whole. “We work closely with clients to understand their long-term vision and goals,” Joseph Barker said. “With a variety of choices for technology, implementation, financing and ownership, our clients value our experience in creating customized solutions allowing us to structure their investment to mitigate risk and generate worry-free returns.”

As deadlines quickly approach for applications to various feed-in-tariff programs around the globe, the growth in the solar sector is expected to continue and even expand in developing nations that are starting to implement green grids of their own.


Carnival Post for Financewand.com

Happy Saturdays friends. Hope you all had a rocking Christmas! All of you must be worried about the new financial year as all of us want to kickstart a fresh 2014, without any baggage of debts or financial worries. So if any of you are looking for some of the best tips regarding investing, budgeting and debt, then your search ends just here as I have planned to write a carnival post including some of the most financially important posts, from some of the leading finance blogs –blog_carnival2

  1. Jonny @ Financewand writes 5 Simple Ways to Pinch and Save Every Month – In the present unstable situation of economy it is really difficult to save money and add some more amount to the emergency fund. And if you have bundles of debts to be paid off, it can be even more difficult to take out some extra bucks for savings! But you can actually do it by following certain smart trips and tricks.
  2. Jacob @ Cashcowcouple posts 6 Ways to Get Through College Debt-Free – Though posted by Jacob, the post is written by Kali @ Common Sense Millennial, who is a like minded member of generation Y. Statistics show that two-thirds of all students graduate college with student loans and the average person carries $26,000 worth of debt they have to repay. Also, in the United States, debt from student loans has surpassed $1 trillion dollars. There are definitely some choices and decisions that you have to make in order to manage your personal finance in order to live a life, without debts.
  3. John @ Frugalrules writes Motif Investing Review: A Unique Approach to Investing – Motif investing is a all new approach to investment, started only two years ago. Being an experienced guy in online brokerage industry, John gives a detailed description of motif investing including its advantages, disadvantages, features and his personal take on that.
  4. Jefferson @ Seedebtrun writes Good Money Manager Review – Good Money Manager is one of the leading and most reliable names when it comes to getting some helps with debt consolidation or you simply want to come out of the vicious cycle of debt. The site is especially meant for people who are burdened with tons of debt and have failed to figure out the proper ways to come out of that.
  5. Mr. CBB @ Canadianbudgetbinder writes The power of plastic points – While most of the people have wallets full of colorful credit cards, Mr. CBB goes on explaining the details of using credit cards properly and offers some significant tips on using credit cards smartly and strategically.
  6. Daisy @ Add-vodka writes 5 Tips for Successful Investing – Making smart investments really seems to be a challenge sometimes with so many options these days, and here is where Daisy helps you out with 5 really simple, yet effective tips. According to her the basic key to successful investment is simplicity and based on this simplicity, you can expect assured long term success.
  7. Paul @ Frugaltoad writes The Holiday Shopping Playoffs: Shop Without Overspending – In this season of holiday shopping, Paul talks about something really different. While it is the common story with most of us to have a big hole in our wallet by the end of the New Year’s Party, it is not quite the same with the serious shoppers. Paul offers 5 effective tips that one should keep in mind while going for holiday shopping.
  8. Charles @ Gettingarichlife writes Get Rich With Real Estate: Strategic Ways To Finance Properties – Those who are planning to buy some new properties soon, must have a look at this post, which specifically focuses on important topics like traditional mortgage, fixed mortgage and other relevant subjects.
  9. Hayley @ Diseasecalleddebt writes Christmas Money Making Challenge Update! – Hayley shares her experience regarding a Christmas money making challenge that she undertook a couple of weeks ago and quite interestingly, she was able to meet her challenge to some extent, and on some notes, she was a failure. Overall, it was a nice experience.
  10. Jennifer @ budgetinginbaby writes It’s the Most Wonderful time of the Year – Jennifer goes on describing her December goals, while mentioning the fact, that like most of us, December is a very special time for her family, and it is especially so as there are lots of holiday celebrations, apart from four birthdays.

Hope this was helpful and Wish you all very Happy Holidays!


3 of the Smartest Ways to Produce Funds for Your Business

BusinessYou might have a number of ideas for how to start up a small business, but what if you don’t have enough money to fund that business? You just shouldn’t simply abandon your entrepreneurial dreams because of a lack of cash. There are a number of financial alternatives to help you realize your dreams. From different types of low interest loans to contributions from different sources, you can easily find the required money if you know where to search for it. Even if you have already started your dream business, and are now finding it difficult to produce some extra much-needed cash, don’t worry; here are a few different financial sources which you can consider –

  • Try to get Small Business Loans – If you need a significant amount of capital to fund your business, a small business loan can be the ideal choice, since it can provide you with thousands, at a comparatively lower rate of interest. Even though there is the chance that you will borrow more than what you actually require, a small business loan is probably one of the less expensive ways of securing funding.
  • Consider Advance Orders – If you are clearly aware of the value of your business and also have some customers lined up for your products and/or services, you can consider advance orders as an effective option. Advertise your services well in advance, to promote your business and your offerings. This will not only provide you with sufficient working capital, but will also help you validate your business idea. g

Sell your own stuff for cash– One of the best ways to raise funds for your business is to sell off your own personal products. This can be an ideal solution for many to make some quick and instant cash. For example, MusicMagpie allows you to sell all of those old CDs, DVDs, games, electronic and technical gadgets, old clothes etc. It’s free to send these items to them, so just pack them up and post them off, or get their convenient courier service to take all your unwanted stuff off your hands!


Limits of a Will

Many people believe that leaving a will and testament means that all the last whims, wishes, and bequests in a person’s final days will be honored, by the law if not by family members. However, there are many limits to what a will will and will not do. If you are relying on your will as an ironclad statement of what will and won’t happen after your death, you may be disappointed. If it’s important to you that certain wishes be followed, make sure you know what exactly a will can accomplish and what it will not.

You May Not Dictate Funereal Arrangements

Many people believe that putting funereal requirements in their will makes it so that they cannot be countermanded. However, most wills are not even read (or found) for weeks or months after a person’s death. A funeral, obviously, is held much earlier than this. For specific instructions regarding your last rites, make sure to leave a separate document detailing your requests with your lawyer or family members, especially those that will be handling the disposal of your remains. Otherwise, your last wishes might not even be known until long after the funeral is over.

You May Not Leave Conditional Gifts

Most people are forgiven for believing the lie of this matter, since Hollywood uses it as a convenient plot device for wacky comedy movies. However, there are certainly limits to the kind of conditions you can put on a gift left in your last will. For example, the old hijinks-filled plot that a rascal grandson must marry in order to get his hands on a small fortune is completely illegal. It is not possible for you to leave money that is conditional on a recipient getting married. It is also illegal to leave gifts conditional on someone getting divorced or changing religion.

However, there are certain conditions you are allowed to leave in your will. These include such conditions as going to college, starting a business, etc. What you must understand is that in order for your orders to be carried out, someone will have to continue to execute your will. Unless you leave enough money for your lawyer to continue to enforce these conditions, the money will likely pass from your sphere of influence.

You May Not Pass On Certain Properties

There are certain kinds of property that you cannot leave to anyone in your will. For example, you cannot pass on any property held by you in joint tenancy. Upon your death, that property will become the sole property of the surviving party. You also cannot pass on property you have transferred already to a living trust, or the proceeds of a life insurance policy for which you have named a beneficiary.

There are other kinds of money that you cannot pass on, as well. These include stocks and bonds held in beneficiary accounts, and money that is held in a retirement or pension plan when you’ve already named a beneficiary with your account administrator before death.


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