6 Simple Ways to Cut Costs and Save During Retirement

A safe and comfortable retirement is a goal for most retirees, but living on a fixed income can make it seem impossible. Since there is no safety of a steady paycheck, many are left feeling overwhelmed, looking for options to accommodate their growing needs. So how do you make sure that you spend your retirement doing everything you love, without draining your retirement funds?

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Well, there are subtle things you can do that will help you boost your savings and stretch your nest egg for years to come.  You don’t have to downgrade your lifestyle to live a fulfilling retired life. Though, you do have to focus on some key areas that are known to be the biggest financial worries among retirees and tackle those first. With some pre- planned financial groundwork and strategic planning, you can enjoy a smooth transition to the retired life.

Here are 6 smart ways to save money so you can enjoy your “dream” retirement:

1. Find the Best Health Coverage

One of the primary expenses retirees worry about is health insurance coverage, especially if you plan on retiring before the age of 65, in which case you won’t qualify for Medicare.

If you aren’t eligible for Medicare, you can still get insured through the Health Insurance Marketplace. While comparing individual plans, make sure to consider factors such as premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Start your search by signing up at Healthcare.gov; if your income after retirement falls below a specific cap, you might qualify for subsidized coverage.

But while comparing premiums, look beyond the dollar amount to see if the package is right for you. If you visit the doctor a lot, look for a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs, but if you don’t visit the doctor often then a plan with a higher co-pay may be good, since it will give you a lower premium. Also, check to see if your current doctor is in-network since you might be more comfortable sticking with your current doctor than change to another. Your current prescription medications are another thing you should see if your plan covers. Before you decide on a plan, examine your drug coverage and see how much you will be responsible for paying out of pocket.

In many families, one person retires while their spouse still works. If that’s you, then continuing your coverage through your spouse’s insurance can help you save a lot.  A pre-Medicare retiree with a working spouse can continue coverage through their employer’s health insurance, provided they request enrollment within 60 days of losing their health insurance.

Or, consider establishing a health savings account. You can contribute $6,750 max if you have family HDHP coverage and the money used for qualified medical expenses is tax-free.

Another option would be to apply for COBRA, which is a federal law that lets you continue your insurance through your employer for at least 18 months. However, this might be an expensive option, since you will be paying the full premium, including the amount that your employer paid while you were employed. Some insurers add on an extra 2% as an administrative fee

2. Take Advantage of Discounts

One of the major perks of being a senior are discounts! There are thousands of deals available exclusively for older adults. From retail, restaurants, travel to activities, there are many incredible savings that you can take advantage of.  One way to get access to these senior discounts is by becoming a member of AARP.  For just $16 a year, you can get exclusive access to a myriad of discounts through AARP. These include discounts on car rentals, cruise trips, vacation packages, hotel discounts and more.

Two alternatives to AARP that are a popular discount destination for retirees are Association of Mature American Citizen (AMAC) and American Seniors Association (ASA). For memberships costing $16 and $15 per year, respectively, you will have access to many great discounts, helping you recoup that membership amount and then some. But if you are mobile savvy, there is a whole world of discounts that you can discover using the power of apps.

Forget Googling for deals. Apps like Senior Discounts can help you discover amazing savings for eating, traveling and shopping through your iPhone or iPad.  Flipp is another great app that helps you discover best deals from popular retailers like Target, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and more. It offers discount savings between 20-70% on items.

3. Review Your Expenses and Your Savings

Prioritizing expenses and keeping account of where the money goes is a major step to avoid depleting retirement funds. Downsizing doesn’t always have to mean downgrading. There are many ways to cut expenses to save money such as avoiding impulse purchases, buying in bulk, finding cost-efficient ways for your daily commute, replacing that expensive cable bill with a much cheaper Netflix subscription; are all money saving habits you can embrace.

If you live in a place with a high cost of living, and since you are no longer tied to a job, relocation to a much more affordable city can be an option worth considering. You can then use the saved dollars to pay other huge expenses like health insurance.

4. Save on Auto-Insurance

With middle age, auto insurance rates typically drop because of your years of driving experience. But, senior drivers, even with a clean driving record, and the same driving habits might be faced with a higher insurance rate, because, as a group, they are considered to be more prone to accidents.  Many states require insurance companies to give drivers, 55 and over, discounts for keeping a clean driving record and for taking certain driving courses, like defensive driving. You can access these classes through AARP and AAA for a much lower price.

Not all auto insurance companies increase the premium for older drivers at the same age. Some might increase it at your 60’s, and some might wait till you are 70. You should shop around and see what company is offering the lowest rates. If you are not planning to drive as much, you might be qualified to receive a low-mileage or usage-based discounts that offer breaks in premiums for drivers whose annual mileage falls under a certain mileage cap, which is usually between 7,500 and 15,000 miles per year.

With a usage-based, or pay-as-you-go program, you can get a personalized auto insurance quote based on your driving habits, and other patterns like the average speed you drive, braking habits, average number of miles, and time you drive. All these factors are monitored by a small telematic device that you would be asked to install in your car. Based on the results, you will be able to get a customized premium rate that might be lower than what you are currently paying. Sometimes you can get a discount just for installing that device

5. Take a Part-Time Job During Your Retirement

By having a steady flow of income, you won’t have to exhaust your retirement savings to fund your hobbies. A part-time job will also keep you physically and mentally active. It isn’t just about the paycheck, staying in the workforce, albeit part time, can give you a sense of purpose especially if you don’t know how to spend your retirement. A fatter nest egg is a nice little side effect.

There are several routes you can take after retirement. Starting your own business is a good option for those wanting to work at their hours and pace. If you have a hobby or passion, you can look for ways to start a business around it. For example, for retired teachers, starting a tutoring business can be a good source of income, or if you were a salesperson, you could look into affiliate marketing, where you make affiliate commissions selling things you love. Amazon has a popular affiliate program you can join for no starting fee.

One advantage of being retired after so many years in the workforce is the wealth of knowledge you acquire. You can put that to good use by becoming a consultant. Becoming a tour guide, working part time at your favorite golf course, teaching English abroad, working as a librarian assistant or a bookkeeper are all professional options that let you keep that income coming while allowing you to have ample time for your friends.

6. Consider a Reverse Mortgage Loan

A reverse mortgage loan can enable you to put off accessing Social Security payments till later in life, bringing about a bigger monthly payment through social security if you wait. By drawing on your reverse mortgage loan to cover your expenses, you also get to let your investment assets grow. If your investment portfolio assets are not doing well, a reverse mortgage loan can cover you till the market conditions improve again.

It’s a way to make ends meet, but it’s definitely not free money. It’s a loan that will eventually need to be paid back, with interest, when you move out, upon your death, or if you fail to comply with any terms of the loan. Also, you only get a percentage of your home value, not the full amount. What you may qualify for depends upon several factors including age, home value and interest rates, and the amount received will be affected by any amounts owed on an existing mortgage. A reverse mortgage loan allows you to convert a portion of your equity to cash without having to sell your house. You must continue to pay taxes, insurance, and maintain your home as well as comply with loan terms in order to avoid foreclosure. While processing the loan, your lender will usually charge an origination fee, appraisal fees, closing costs and other fees that are similar to what you paid while you bought your house.

Retirement can be everything you ever wanted it to be if you plan and lay a good financial foundation that keeps your future secure. Thoroughly researching and comparing health and auto insurance plans can help you save hundreds of dollars, while still giving you the satisfaction of staying covered for difficult times. Taking advantage of discounts while shopping for everyday items is a fantastic way to aggregate savings that can add up to a substantial amount over time. Budgeting and taking note of money coming in and going out can help you stay in control of your finances. But if you still need help to cover costs on a rainy day, you can always look into getting a reverse mortgage loan.

*If you qualify and your loan is approved, a HECM Reverse Mortgage must pay off your existing mortgage(s). With a HECM/Reverse Mortgage, no monthly mortgage payment is required. Borrowers must continue to pay taxes, insurance, and home maintenance as well as comply with loan terms in order to avoid foreclosure. **Consult your financial advisor. © 2017 Re-published with permission from original post at AmericanAdvisorsGroup.com

Considering a Personal Injury Claim? 5 Things You Should Know

Any personal injury is a grave injustice and in the face of any injustice it’s only natural to seek retribution.

Personal injuries are, by definition, not our fault and yet they can have far-reaching and damaging effects on our day to day lives. They can cause us to take financially damaging time off work and erode our sense of worth and personal identity. They can cause us emotional stress which can cause discord between us and our friends and family.

And that’s without going into the pain, discomfort and psychological trauma of the injury itself.

Yes, it’s safe to say that in the event of personal injury that it’s only natural that a victim should seek justice through the proper legal channels. But, as with anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Here are 5 things you should know if you’re considering submitting a claim…

You should act sooner rather than later

While you absolutely shouldn’t act rashly or out of panic or anger, it is important that you take steps as quickly as you feel able. Whether your injury was the result of medical malpractice, negligence at work, a slip, a fall, a road traffic collision or even as a result of a faulty product you need to strike while the iron is hot.

The longer you wait to act decisively, the greater risk of evidence being lost or harder to collect and the more the strength of your case may be diminished. There is also an inherent time limitation (usually 3 years) on personal injury claims.

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Once you have made the decision to act, you need to find a legal representative to assist you. While you could make the claim yourself we would advise against it as you will be in a vulnerable position and may not be able to present the best possible case for a claim.

Personal Injury Law is a huge market and it can be difficult to know who to choose when there is so much competition out there. Look for someone with a proven track record who is open and upfront about what your expectations should be. You can use this Online tool that checks if you have a no win no fee claim but whomever you choose to represent you, make sure that they work on a no-win-no-fee basis and that they will ensure that you get the maximum award owed to you.

You need to be open and honest with your representation

It may be tempting to exaggerate the details of what happened or omit details of your medical history (such as previous injury) from them out of fear that they may harm your claim. While this impulse is understandable, it can seriously harm your claim if you are not open and honest with your legal counsel. Dishonesty can lead your solicitor to make unfair or inaccurate judgements on the strength of your case and when any lies are found out it can seriously damage the integrity of your claim.

You need to take care of yourself

It may be tempting to assume that you should not look after yourself or make efforts to help your injury heal out of fear that it may harm your claim. Rest assured, legal professionals expect human bodies to heal so you should absolutely seek medical assistance and follow any medical advice given to you by your doctor.

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You will be expected to take any medication prescribed to you and attend all appointments, lab tests, therapy sessions, referrals and check-ups throughout the claim’s progression. Exacerbating your injuries through deliberate negligence will aid absolutely no-one. In fact, it will damage your claim as the opposing legal counsel may try to imply that any symptoms you experience will be a result of your own poor self-care rather than of the incident itself.

Keeping on top of your treatments, eating well and getting plenty of rest can only ever help your case.

Be aware, you may be watched

Depending on your circumstances, it’s not unheard of (though it is rare) for the defence to monitor your personal activities through a private investigator. Any documentation of strenuous activity on your part can give the defense grounds to question your honesty and this can seriously damage your claim.

For this reason you should avoid long walks, running, lifting heavy objects or going to the gym until you are advised by a medical professional that it is safe to do so.

You should keep your head down on social media

While many of your friends may feel the need to record everything they do on social media, you should avoid this at all costs. Claims adjusters or private investigators can access this information and use evidence of your activities to harm your claim. Even an image of you picking up a friend’s baby could be seriously damaging. Avoid posting on social media and turning your privacy settings up to their maximum just to be on the safe side.   

The Importance Of Having Childhood Values In Business

From a young age, we are told about the importance of values such as kindness, compassion, and generosity, and this should be no different in business. Teaching children to make good financial decisions alongside being valuable citizens is something that will benefit them and those around them. Unfortunately, there are far too many organizations and businesses putting profit before the well-being of people such as their employees. This is something that we need to move away from, particularly since this will not benefit the long-term health of your business. There are many reasons why you should take care of your employees, principally, because of the very same reasons we were told to care for others as children, but also because a happy employee means a productive and engaged employee.

Workers who engage with their job are more likely to want to stay with their employer and not move to another company, as well as being more likely to perform well. This is because productivity is closely associated with job satisfaction which means that workers who feel valued will have a motivation to do well. The overall reputation of your business will increase if you show yourself to be a company that looks after your workers, and this will encourage people to seek employment within your organization

The key ways to ensure the happiness of your workers, and increase the levels of overall job satisfaction are not complicated. Included below are several straightforward ways in which you can look after the wellbeing of your employees as well as the overall health of your company.

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Pay decent wages

More than any other factor, the amount you pay your employees will directly affect their desire and motivation to work for your company.  Paying a fair, and competitive salary will ensure you lower your staff turnaround, and allow you to keep on quality members of your team who might otherwise go to a competitor who pays a better wage than you. Paying a minimum wage is not the same as a decent wage or even a living wage, and so paying a competitive salary to your workers will be more beneficial for the growth of your company in the long run.

Healthcare

Having a generous sick leave policy and not penalizing your employees who take sick leave, will increase the productivity of your business, as nothing wipes out an office like a round of flu.  In places of work such as offices, germs and illnesses will spread quickly, and you could see half of your workforce knocked out by one employee who decided to come to work. Many workers are reluctant to take sick leave as they feel that they may get penalized for this and will come in even though they are still contagious or not well enough to do their job properly. This is where you need to step in and ensure that your workers feel supported in their decision to stay at home, even if this means working remotely until they feel able to come into the office. Regarding ensuring that your workers are covered for health problems or work-related illnesses and accidents it is important to provide insurance and compensation to cover both their back and yours as well. It is worth investing in a workers compensation lawyer to help you deal with your workers’ compensation claims and make sure that this is handled as efficiently and as professionally as possible.

Create a fun work environment

Creating an enjoyable work environment doesn’t mean that you have to be less professional. It simply means that you provide your employees with certain activities or perks that will increase their overall satisfaction. Some ideas for this include having a designated games room which people can choose to frequent during their break or might include fun snacks and drinks that your employees can freely take throughout the day. Another idea to boost performance is through fun motivational activities; this might be a regular icebreaker each day or a day set aside for team building activities. Many companies are choosing to include casual Fridays, into the working week as a low-cost and easy way to make their employees feel comfortable at work.

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Childcare

A flexible approach to childcare, where your employees can work their children’s needs alongside their work schedule will be appreciated by your employees.  More companies than ever are including on-site daycare options for the children of their employees which save the time spent commuting to other child-care facilities and instead of cutting their work day short, allows parents to spend more time at the office.

Encourage a healthy work-life balance

Professional burnout can occur when a worker is stressed or overworked and can manifest itself in various forms, such as a loss of motivation and productivity and in extreme cases in a nervous breakdown. Avoid employee burnout by encouraging a healthy balance between the hours spent at the office and the downtime of your employees. This can be as simple as having a policy where employees must have a decent lunch break or cannot stay at work past a certain hour.  To avoid certain triggers of stress or anxiety make sure that you provide clear, realistic expectations for your employees to meet.

Have an employee of the month

Having a company employee of the month is a simple way to show your workers that they are valued and that you notice individuals within your organizations. Don’t just make this about who is the most productive or who has made the most sales for example, but make factors such as acts of kindness or generosity an equally important reason for becoming the employee of the month. For example, someone may have covered someone else’s shift or helped another colleague with a project in their own time. Consider providing rewards such as allowing the employee of the month to choose half a day off work that week, vouchers or even a small bonus. Creating small incentives such as this, will increase production and create a sense of unity within a company where the individual is just as important as the whole.

7 Things To Think About Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

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Starting a business is one of the most ginormous commitments anyone can ever hope to take on. Yes, it is worth it because not only is it exciting and rewarding, it is also yours. However, to prevent you from starting off on the wrong foot and then struggling to get into your stride thereafter, we have come up with a list of essential advice you should know about and carefully consider before you start your business.

  1. Research Is Key

Research everything you can and remember that there is no such thing as too much research. Research the competition, the marketplace, the technology, the marketing approaches, the economy, governmental policies, gaps in the markets and emerging trends. As an entrepreneur the more you can do the better.

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  1. Organisation Wins

There are so many variables, so many different aspects and challenges and things to do that it is absolutely crucial you get as organized as you can from the get go. Great ideas are great, so is passion and research, but without being organized, you will struggle. This also includes having a plan and sticking to it.

  1. Passion Helps

It isn’t the be all, but having a passion for what you do is what will help you get through the rough and, yes, there are going to be rough times. Things will go wrong, you hope will start to fade and you’ll ask yourself why you are doing this. Be able to answer that question.

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  1. Seek Help

Starting a business is not something you can do alone. Okay, it is, but you shouldn’t. There are too many plates to spin. That and the fact you aren’t an expert at everything, whether it be accountancy, finding and keeping your best staff or whatever. So find help. It’ll be the best thing you do.

  1. Know The Legalities

Never ever start a business without getting legal advice first. Too many people think that legal advice is there to help us when we get into trouble, but it isn’t. As Bovill Risk & Insurance Consultants will tell you, legal advice is there to prevent us from getting derailed legally. Knowing what professional indemnity insurance you need is key, having the right insurance to protect your employees is vital, and your board members. Legal advice helps long-term success.

  1. Better Credit Rating

Nothing is going to impact on your credit rating as much as starting a business will, that is why it is so important for you to do everything you can to improve it. Starting a debt will likely mean you get into debt and all sorts, and you’ll likely need to borrow money. Quite simply, your personal choices can have professional consequences because the better your credit rating the more you will be allowed to play with.

  1. Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience and really getting under their skin is going to have a huge impact on your road to success. As such, do all you can to better understand them. Survey your demographic, find out their likes and dislikes, their spending habits, their hates and their wants. If you know what they are like as consumers, you can tailor your marketing and development toward them.

What Can Make Buy-To-Let So Difficult?

If you are looking for a secure way to make some decent profit in the long run, then buy-to-let is often a good way to go. However, nothing is certain, and that applies to this as well as anything else. Although buy-to-let can be extremely lucrative when done right (and in good circumstances) it is also true that there are many things which can often make it a difficult process. They could be other financial concerns, problems with tenants, issues about being a landlord, or any other little niggles that could get in the way. In this post, we are going to take a look at some of the major things that can often make buy-to-let difficult to succeed in. Knowing these will help to prepare you and to help make the most of it, so it is worth a look.

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A Lack Of Professional Knowledge

The whole process of buying a property to rent out to make money is more complex than many people think. If there is one thing that tends to slip people up, it is not having all the necessary knowledge before they set out. If you want your buy-to-let mission to go as smoothly as possible, then you will definitely benefit from knowing everything that you possibly can before you even start looking into it. It might be that you need to carry out a lot of personal research in order to get the ball rolling here, but even that might not be enough. You might decide that getting the help of a professional is the way to go, and it very often is. Find yourself a real estate agent and take their advice on what you should do. They know the marketplace and the procedure better than you, and it is likely that they will be able to help you more than you might think.

A Crashing Market

All markets are volatile by their very nature. Any kind of investment you ever make is something of a gamble, even if some investments are more of a sure thing than others. The housing market is relatively safe in most places, but this doesn’t mean that it is a sure thing. There will always be crashes, as there are in every market in the world, and it is likely that you will need to try and navigate these water as well as you can. The best thing is to simply keep an eye on the marketplace, especially before you plan to make your move. The closer you are paying attention to it, the less likely it is that you will get your fingers burned, and the more likely you will make as much from it as you can.

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Poor Credit

If you have poor credit, you might find it difficult to see the whole process through to the end. Many people have poor credit, and it can come about easier than you might think. Fortunately, there are ways of dealing with this situation, and it is not as difficult to do as you might think. If you have particularly bad credit, you should try to find ways to improve it as much as possible. Such methods do exist, and although they are quite slow to come to fruition, it is worth doing. You can also use other means to get around the fact that you have poor credit. If you use a service like Improve Finance, you can borrow money against the home through a secured loan, even if you have bad credit. This means you will then have the necessary funds for any fix-ups that might need doing, or if you are planning to renovate before renting the property out. There is always a way to get what you want, and as long as you remember that you should find that you end up with the kind of financial situation you’re hoping for.

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No Target Tenant

If you want to make a success of this buy-to-let scheme, you will need to ensure that you can actually get your hands on a tenant. Without a tenant there is no profit, so this is essential. But a surprising amount of landlords do actually struggle to find tenants, or to keep hold of them for very long. The first thing you will need to think about is whether you are advertising your property in such a way for it to be attractive to potential tenants. In order to do that, you will find it helpful to think of a target tenant whom you can market towards. You can think of this example simply by taking the core demographics of the local area and thinking about what kind of person is likely to go for your property. Then you can renovate it according to their likely tastes, and this will make it much more likely that you find a tenant who wants to hang around for a decent amount of time. You should of course also ensure that you have tenancy agreements lasting at least twelve months, so that you can feel relatively secure for the following year at least. If you think of it in terms of basically having guaranteed rental income for a year, you will understand the value of doing so.

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Bad State Of Repair

One thing you absolutely must avoid is letting your property to fall into disrepair. If this happens, it can be much more difficult to get it back to a normal state, so it is better to just avoid it happening altogether. While it is on the market, make sure that you clean it regularly so that it doesn’t build up. You should also go around the property and ensure that there is nothing that needs fixing which hasn’t been fixed. If there is, that might be all it takes to stop it gaining interest from potential tenants, so you don’t want to take that risk. Keep the home in good repair, and you will be much more delighted at the results that you see.