Alternative Ways To Prepare For Retirement

Securing your finances before you retire is incredibly important. If you finish work and you don’t have enough cash backed up, you’re going to struggle and you won’t be able to enjoy your later years. The obvious way to set yourself up for retirement is saving and putting into a pension. The thing is, that doesn’t actually work for a lot of people. More of us are finding that we just don’t have enough to get by on when we retire, regardless of how much you’ve been trying to save. The problem is made worse because there is too much of a focus on saving and not enough information on all of the other alternatives. If you’re worried that saving might not be enough, try some of these alternatives instead.

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Clear Debts

Even if you’ve saved a healthy amount of money, it won’t be enough if you’re plunging half of it into debt repayments. You’ll soon eat through your nest egg and be left with nothing. People often neglect debts in later life because they’re trying to put their money into savings instead. I can see the logic but there’s no point saving money that you’re just going to have to spend later. While you’ve got the money coming in, clear off those debts before you start looking into savings options.

Investing In Gold

When you’re trying to make the most of your money, investments are better than just putting it into a savings account. Instead of seeing small growth from interest, you’ll see a bigger return on those investments. There are plenty of places you can put your money but a lot of them are quite risky. IRA’s are a popular choice for retirement funds everywhere but they put your money into stocks and shares. You can see a good return on that but it’s also susceptible to market fluctuations. A good alternative is a gold-backed ira because it’s far less volatile. If the market crashes, you don’t risk losing any of your money. There are obviously going to be price fluctuations in the gold market but they won’t be anywhere near as drastic as the stock market.

Move To A Cheaper Area

When you’re really struggling to save up money for retirement you should think about the area that you live in. If the cost of living is incredibly high, you might not be able to afford to stay there with the money that you’ve saved. However, if you moved to a new neighborhood with a lower cost of living, you might find that it can sustain you. People don’t usually like this idea because they think it means living in a bad area, but you don’t have to downgrade that much. It’s worth living in a slightly smaller house if it means you can go on more vacations.

Trying to save money where you can is still a good way to prepare for retirement, but you should start as early as possible. Just remember not to rely on those savings alone, try some of these alternatives as well.

5 Ways To Make Money Online – Today

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The internet has opened up a pandora’s box of ways to make money online. It has also opened up a minefield of get-rich-quick schemes and scams. These unscrupulous schemes are often accompanied by extremely clever marketing aimed at making you part with your own cash, so that you will make oodles of money in return!

So how do you know what is legitimate and what to avoid like the plague? Luckily for us the internet offers masses of information. At the touch of a button you can read thousands of reviews on businesses, opportunities and  schemes, albeit positive or negative. Try googling any opportunity you are considering accompanied by the words “is it a scam?” and see what the search engine reveals.

There are however many resources and legitimate ways of making money online. Some of which are listed below.

Websites

Websites will often pay you to take surveys, test products and shop. Businesses and brands are constantly researching whether they are offering the best service and products to their customers. This is where you come in, acting as the customer and providing feedback. Examples of such website are Swagbucks and InboxDollars.

There are also websites that allow you to advertise your own services and get paid. They are similar to bidding sites, but are services rather than products. Perhaps you sell art, provide graphic design services or design logo’s as a hobby that you could promote and sell.

Freelance writing

There is a lot of opportunity on the internet for freelance writers. Think of all of the websites you see need content writing! Freelance writing can be profitable, but you will need to build a portfolio to showcase your work, be prepared to work hard. It maybe a good idea to join Linkedin as a networking platform.

Selling unwanted items

There are many online selling auction sites and they are extremely popular and successful. When listing your unwanted items, your item has a huge international audience, which increases the chance of it selling massively in comparison to a standard website. Ensure that your unwanted items are shown to their best ability by excellent photo’s and descriptions. Make sure you pack items well and post within timescales.

Online trading

Anyone with a computer and a small amount of capital can invest and trade in the global market. However, this is not without a large amount of risk, if you don’t have the knowledge on how to trade effectively. Thankfully there is help on the internet  here, which will help guide you through steps on how to make money with global trading.

Work from home

There are now many opportunities which allow you to work from your own home. Virtual PA’s are one popular role as is administrative assistant, writer and filmmaker. As long as you have an internet connection you have the potential to fulfill these roles remotely and also flexibly as you are not constrained to the usual 9-5 office hours. You will of course need excellent time management skills, to avoid distraction and stay on task!

Are Car Repair Costs Driving You Into Debt?

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Owning a car can be expensive enough without having to then pay for constant repairs on top. Many car owners will spend more money in repairs and servicing than they did buying the car initially. Fortunately there are many ways to bring these costs down and prevent yourself from heading into debt. Here are just a few ways to bring down these expenses.

Know when to make a claim

Third party car insurance won’t offer you any compensation. It’s worth upgrading to fire and theft or comprehensive cover as these could help you pay for damage done to your vehicle by others. When making a claim, it’s important to contact your insurer as soon as possible after the damage has occurred. Some insurers will only allow you to make a claim if you notify them within 48 hours. You don’t have to go through the claim process there and then, but you should let them know. Don’t get repairs until your insurer has accepted your claim and paid out (although it could be beneficial to spend this time getting quotes for repair services).

Similarly you may be able to make a legal claim if you have been injured in a car accident. Some of this money could help to go towards car repairs. Personal injury solicitors can help you to make a claim. Some will operate on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, meaning that you won’t have to pay these solicitors unless you win your claim.

Shop around for repair services

It’s worth getting multiple quotes from different repair centres in your area, especially when repairing major damage. Occasionally, you may be able to get loyalty rates by staying with one mechanic, however this shouldn’t stop you still shopping around for quotes to check that there isn’t anything cheaper out there.

Be wary of repair centres that are charging very cheap rates – they could be making up for a bad reputation. Many repair centres will have reviews online from users. Check these so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Negotiate

Once you’ve collected quotes from different repair centres, consider negotiating the price down. Not all repair centres will be open to negotiation as some may have fixed rates. In most cases, you’ll generally have to speak to the manager. Some mechanics may have an option of paying in instalments, which could make it more manageable to pay.

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Source your own parts

Repair centres will look to make a profit on any replacement parts they need to buy. You can sometimes save money by sourcing your own parts online. Second-hand parts will be cheaper, but could be partially damaged – meaning that they’re prone to breaking sooner in the future. Buy these parts from a trusted parts dealer. If you do decide to buy from an independent seller, make sure that photos are supplied so that you can guage an idea of the condition or buy locally so that you can go and inspect the part in person before buying. Be aware that legal requirements on the condition of parts varies from country to country. For example, when buying partially worn tyres from another country, be aware that the tread depth of those tyres may not be legal in your country.

Phone a friend

Do you have a friend or relative that’s handy beneath the bonnet of a car? If you trust that they are proficient enough, you could go to them for repairs for a discounted rate. Alternatively, there may be some repairs that you yourself feel confident enough to take on. There are Youtube tutorials and online how-to-guide on most car repairs. It could be worth visiting a mechanic afterwards simply to check that your work is up to standard, most mechanics will be able to check over your vehicle for free.

Take preventative measures

The temptation may be to only fix things that need immediate repairing. However, quite often you can save money in the long run by investing in preventative repairs. A worn brake pad could be causing you to apply more pressure on the brake pedal, putting more strain on other parts. It could be wear down your tyre too. Replace this part early and you could delay other parts having to be fixed. Preventative repairs may even prevent accidents in some cases.

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Keep fluids topped up

You’ll be amazed how many faults are the result of allowing fluid to run dry. Don’t wait until your oil levels are dangerously low – the oil keeps all your parts lubricated, stopping them from grinding against one another and prolonging their lifespan. Engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and washer fluid are other liquids to keep on top. Whilst obvious, you should also keep fuel regularly topped up. Try not to let your tank run almost to empty each time as you could be putting a greater strain on your engine.

Do you really need a hire car?

When getting your car repaired, consider whether you really need a hire car in the meantime. Car hire costs are usually very expensive. It could be worth going without a car for a couple weeks and catching a lift from a friend or using public transport. Be aware that some insurance policies may pay for a hire car.

Is it time to sell/scrap your vehicle?

There may come a point when you’ve spent too much on repairs and it’s time to call it quits and buy a new vehicle. You can sell damaged vehicles but must specify this damage – there may be some buyers who still want to take it off your hands and pay for the repairs. Alternatively, when it comes to serious damage, it may be better to simply scrap the vehicle. You’ll get a small amount of money for scrapping – it won’t be enough to pay for a new car but it will at least give you some money to put towards a new vehicle.  

Credit Card Debt – Are You Paying Thousands in Extra Interest?

Millions of people around the world use credit cards and despite our best intentions of clearing the balance very month, most of us will carry a balance. In fact the average outstanding credit card balance is $5700 in the USA (source ValuePenguin) and is over £2500 in the UK.

Chances are when you take out a new credit card you will be offered the opportunity to pay via direct debit either the full balance or the minimum amount every month. Since most people use credit cards as flexible spending for emergencies or contingencies it can be difficult to commit to paying off the full amount. This is especially true when transferring a balance from another card.

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Statistics show that over 65% over credit card holders carry a balance from month to month

Did you know that if you opt to pay the minimum balance you could take over 20 years to pay off the card? It is far better to agree a fixed monetary amount each month than the percentage which is often suggested by the credit card company.

The video below explains in more detail and you can prove it for yourself by using a credit card calculator

For more financial education tips and videos visit The Personal Finance Academy

Cost-Effective Ways of Communicating to Other Countries

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In days gone by, you would only be able to communicate with friends or relatives abroad via expensive phone calls or letters that would take days or weeks to arrive. Nowadays, there are a host of new communication methods that have been opened up largely down to the internet. So, if you need to speak to loved ones in another country or maybe you are running a business that relies on overseas interaction, here are a few of the top ways that you can keep open the lines of communication.

Get Portable Wi-Fi

Communicating using 4G can rack up your data usage fairly quickly, but if you have a portable Wi-Fi device, you can speak to people from wherever you are. And you aren’t limited by using the poor connection available at an internet café or having to wait until you get home again to have a proper conversation. Once you have this, you can then start to utilise all the different communication methods that are out there.

Sign Up for a Good Phone Deal

Tariffs generally tend to be reducing for international calls, but if you find yourself wanting to make these calls on a regular basis without the need to connect to Wi-Fi every single time, there will be various deals out there to make cheap international calls. This is especially important if you are running a business and find yourself needing to speak to people overseas on a regular basis.

Use Video Chat Services

Services like Skype really have been revolutionary, allowing to you to communicate across thousands of miles face to face – all entirely for free. You can also send instant messages through these services so you can set up a good time to speak to the person at the other end of the line. Not only this, you can speak to multiple people at the same time using a videoconferencing service.

Utilise Social Media

For sharing messages, pictures and videos, there are all manner of social media tools which keep you in touch with people. And with services like Facebook Messenger, you can even see when people were last online which is certainly a relief for concerned parents whose children are away on holiday or travelling. You also have the choice of how public you want to make the communication.

Send Messages on WhatsApp

For quick messages, you really can’t beat WhatsApp, which is another free service which has significantly impacted the way we keep in touch with people all across the globe. Simply download the app and you are good to go.

With such a myriad of different options available to you, there is really little need to be hit with big bills when you are communicating with people in other countries. Stick with one or use multiple depending on what you need to say, and whether you need a face to face conversation or one that can be sorted with a quick exchange of messages.