Monthly Archives: September 2017

7 ways to make your business more productive

Improving the productivity of your business is one of the most important factors to make your company successful. All businesses strive to do more, use less, and save money. In fact, it goes without saying that more productive businesses are also more successful. To improve productivity in your business, follow these seven tips.

1. Empower Your Employees

It’s important that you offer your employees the best tools to complete their jobs efficiently and productively. In addition to this, however, you also need to catch them up with the latest training practices to make sure they have everything they need to succeed at their jobs. After all, your employees are the driving force in your company.

2. Outsource Common Tasks

As a business owner, it’s important to focus on the larger picture, not waste your time on common tasks, such as booking general meetings, updating your calendar, etc. Tasks like that can be handled by outsourced to virtual assistants or other freelance workers.

Not only can outsourcing common tasks help save you time and money, but it also frees up your schedule to network, strategize, and other important work tasks to improve your company.

3. Integrate Computer Technology

Adding new computer technology to your business can help increase the productivity of your office and its workers to get work done much quicker. However, when evaluating what kind of computer technology your company should integrate into daily work life, determine what manual procedures can be expedited with the advancement of computer technology. For example, many businesses can become more efficient by using accounting software like SAP. You will, of course, need to discover what SAP is first.

4. Take Advantage of Communication Tools

Remote or office workers nowadays are no stranger to adopting a wide range of communication tools, anything from text messages to online chats and emails. However, companies can improve the productivity of their workers by improving their communication tools and using the most advanced ones available on the market.

Streamlining modern messaging tools in the workplace for employees to communicate easier and more efficiently to each other can help boost productivity and satisfaction at their jobs.

5. Simplify Your Bills

Financially running a business is a common strain that most small business owners have a hard time overcoming. From keep track of invoices, bills, and expenses, there’s nearly a never-ending game of keeping track what your company spends and owes. However, you can make your life a lot easier, not to mention, more productive, by simplifying your bills and paperwork.

Simplifying these financial aspects can be anything from signing up for paperless and automatic payments to bundling the services your company uses. This way, you can save money and time on both stamps and envelopes at your local post office, but also get a variety of discounts from your service providers.

6. Filter Distracting Websites

Though the Internet can be an incredibly useful resource for businesses, it can also be very distracting. With websites like Facebook and Pinterest, employees often spend more time browsing the web than they do on doing actual work. By filtering your employee’s access to this sort of website, you can increase productivity and ensure your employees are working when they are supposed to.

7. Use Templates

You can save a lot of time and energy by creating templates for basic, everyday tasks. These tasks may include responding to emails, handling customer complaints and issues, posting on social media, and scheduling meetings.

For each of these repetitive tasks, create a template detailing the steps needed to complete the task. Or, if you receive the same questions frequently or need to send welcome emails, you can also create a template for that need and simply copy and paste it into an email. Instead of wasting time and energy completing these tedious tasks, you can simplify your work and boost your efficiency.

Increased productivity is something that many businesses hope for. By using these seven methods, you can make your business more efficient and save your company money. Hopefully, this guide could help you become more productive.

Guidelines for Giving Your Boss a Gift

Gift giving can be a fun tradition that can help you bond with other people. That being said, different rules apply to gift giving at work, especially when the gift is to your boss. Giving a gift to your boss can be fraught with workplace taboos that can really limit the types of gifts you can give and even how you can give them. Thus, having some gift giving guidelines can really help you avoid the embarrassment of committing a workplace foul. Below are some easy guidelines and tips to keep in mind when giving your boss a gift.

1. Don’t Be Obvious

Make sure that you are giving your gift to your boss discreetly, especially if it is not for an obvious reason like a holiday or recovering to health. Giving a gift to your boss could cause jealousy in your co-workers, who may view it as an attempt by you to get ahead of them. With that in mind, proudly presenting a gift publicly to your boss may not be the best route to gift giving in the office. By being discreet with your gift, you avoid the awkward situations that could otherwise arise from such a public display. For more on this idea and others, click here.

2. Always Make Your Intentions Clear

Gift giving is a way of communicating, and communication can always be misinterpreted by the one receiving it. To make sure that there is no embarrassing miscommunication, make clear your intentions with the gift up front. Either tell your boss why you are giving the gift to them when you give it or make it obvious through a card or some other way of communicating your intentions. You do not want your boss second-guessing your motivations for buying them a gift.

3. Don’t Make It Too Personal

This is especially important if you and your boss are not necessarily close. The idea of personal gifts can have a range of meanings as well. Don’t assume that you know your boss’ personal life well enough to get them a more intimate gift. Also, do not give anything that is personal in the sense of actually touching them. That means clothes, scarfs, or perfumes. Being able to tell someone’s personal taste can be difficult. There are also smell sensitivities and allergies to contend with as well. By keeping your gift a bit more impersonal and off their person, you have a better chance at giving them an appropriate gift. A way to give a thoughtful gift without being too personal is to get something relevant to their age.  If they are in their 50’s get them a relevant gift, if they just turned 30 give them something that would be relevant to that age group.

4. Don’t Expect Something In Return

As stated earlier, gift giving in the office is different than with relatives or friends. While having to give a gift back might be appropriate in more informal settings, it is not necessary in the business world. In the office, professional relationships are key, and gifts cannot and should not interfere with those relationships. With this in mind, you should not expect to receive a gift back from your boss. Again, you wouldn’t want them to think you are trying to buy their favor or a raise. For more on this tip and other guidelines for gift giving in an office setting, click here.)

5. Make Sure Its Price Appropriate

Typically a small but thoughtful gift or card is a good idea. Getting something extravagant is just asking for trouble. This is again especially true if you do not know your boss particularly well. Buying an expensive gift for your boss while not knowing what they like could mean wasted money for you. It can also be seen as simply inappropriate, even if they like the gift. Thus, keeping the cost of the gift fairly low is usually a good idea. Just because the gift is low cost does not mean that it can’t have at least a little thought put into it, however. For more on this concept and some other gift guidelines, click here.)

As mentioned before, gift giving in the office can be a hazardous venture, especially when it involves the boss. However, armed with these guidelines and tips, you will hopefully have a better understanding of how to give your boss a gift.

Introduction to Investing

Investing involves taking money that you currently have and placing it in some type of asset that you expect to increase in price over a long period of time. In the future, you hope to extract more money than you put in due to growth through dividends, interest payments or simple price appreciation. Typically, you would place an investment in one of the following products:

  • Stocks
  • Mutual Funds
  • Annuities
  • Commodities
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Bonds
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts
  • Money Market Funds
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Hedge Funds
  • Municipal Bonds
  • International Investing


The products that you choose to invest in are typically based on the amount of risk that you want to take. Different products offer different risk profiles and potential gains that you can accumulate.


Investing can be done at any stage of your life. If you have more time until you retire, you would typically want to be more aggressive with your investments. Individual stocks, mutual funds and ETFs all offer different types of risk. Some sectors of the economy are slow growers and provide constant returns year after year. An example of these type of assets include blue-chip companies such as Coca-Cola or Procter & Gamble. Investing in these companies would provide steady returns over time. Yet, higher risk stocks can also be bought to enjoy higher returns. These usually come from small-cap companies that are going through major growth. The amount of risk that you take on is dependent on your risk tolerance. Your risk tolerance is the amount of volatility and price swings that you are willing to tolerate in your portfolio.

Building a Portfolio and Diversification

A portfolio is created by investing in different types of products. If you choose to begin your journey into investing by purchasing stocks, you may build a stock portfolio that contains five or more stocks from separate companies. As time passes by and you accumulate more wealth from work or other sources, you may decide to diversify your portfolio and invest in other products such as mutual funds or bonds. Diversifying between products is the practice of spreading out your risk so that you don’t end up with too much of your money in one type of asset. If an asset takes a hit and you have all of your money invested in that asset, it could significantly drop the value of the wealth that you had accumulated up to that point. Diversification is a healthy way to ensure that you don’t get caught with too much of your money in one single asset.

Growth Over Time

Investing for the long term indicates that you are planning on holding an asset for the purpose of growth over a period of years. If you start early in your 20s, this period could be as long as 40 to 50 years. Statistics indicate that the United States stock market will have a positive year from January to December about 70 percent of the time. If you invest by dollar cost averaging, the odds are good that you will end up increasing your initial investment to a larger amount by the date of your retirement.

Dollar-Cost Averaging

As an investor, you need to decide what type of assets you are going to purchase. You may choose to buy individual stocks due to your ability to conduct extensive research or purchase mutual funds and rely on a fund manager to make those type of decisions. You will also need to decide when you are going to invest. Will this be a one time event or do you plan to dollar cost average? Dollar cost averaging is the practice of making periodic investments into the same asset. This averages out the price that you pay and helps you avoid purchasing at a high price. If you invest over time, you catch the swings in price when they are high and low. When this type of investing style is mixed with a long-term strategy, it should help you accumulate wealth if you’ve chosen an asset that appreciates over the long haul.

Always Learning More

In the realm of investing, there’s always the opportunity to learn more. You can dive deep into the intricacies of reading a stock chart, explore how the currencies of the world affect investing or study economic theory and discover why certain economic conditions are helpful. To get started with this exploration, it pays to understand terms related to the stock market, currencies, the economy and trading. Pick a topic and you’ll find a plethora of knowledge that can assist you with your investing endeavors. You’ll find that the topic of investing branches out into many different areas of interest.

Top 8 Ways to Find Your Career Path

If you’re unsure what career path to go in or if you’re thinking about heading down a different career path altogether, you might need a helping hand to get you started. Below, are eight recommended steps you should take to help find your career path, without feeling the need to pressure yourself into it.

1. Seek Help From a Mentor

Seeking help from a mentor is a great idea if you’re not sure what to do, or if you’re flip-flopping careers. To ask someone to be your mentor, either try talking to your school guidance counselor or consult people in your line of work to talk about possible careers with.

2. Visualize What Kind of Work Excites You

The last thing you want to do is choose a career that you will dread going to every day. It’s important that you choose one that you will particularly enjoy. However, at the same time, you should also find a career path that you’re good at. Focusing on your personality and skills are crucial to finding the right job for you.

3. Develop a Career Plan

You can really further your career if you develop a plan for it. For example, if you plan to be a writer, how do you want to continue your career? Possibly editing or teaching? Or, even after that, do you want to become a blog owner? Having a fully developed career plan is important to understand what direction you want to go in.

4. Ask Around

You don’t have to be along on the hunt for your career path. One of the best ways to look for a new career is to see what other people are doing. LinkedIn and Twitter are both great resources to see what jobs your peers are doing and seeing if that’s a direction you want to head in.

5. Take a Career Assessment Test

You may have taken one of these tests in high school, but it may be time to do it again. If you are totally unsure about what you are interested in or what your skills are, these tests can provide some clarity. Do a quick Google search to find a few career assessment tests that you can take. They will be able to help you determine what your skills are, what you wish to get out of a job, and point you in the right direction.

6. Research Unusual Careers

Sometimes you need to think outside the box to find the best job for you. If the ordinary job choices of becoming a teacher, doctor, or computer programmer bore you, keep in mind that there are tons of more obscure jobs available. Do some research to find these opportunities or, if you are so inclined, create your own unique job and market yourself as such.

7. Check Out Salary Information

Before deciding on your new path, you should consider what type of salary you can expect to make. Though it may not be as desirable as simply choosing your favorite activity to do as a job, your salary plays an important role in your decision-making process. Try to find a job where you can make a considerable income so that you will be better off later in life.

8. Obtain an Internship

An internship is a great way to dip your toes into a new industry or job. It can also provide a great opportunity to land a full-time job in your new field, even if you do not have any prior experience. Even if you decide you do not like the new industry, there are still benefits to working an internship. It will help you to expand your network and gain valuable advice and insight into your career path.

Finding your career path can be a difficult journey, but with the right resources on your side, it can be done relatively pain-free. Hopefully, with the help of this guide, we could help you get back on track with your personal career and offer you options to help you choose what job field you want to head into next.

Low Vs. High-Risk Investments For Beginners

One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on an investment is the level of risk involved. Every type of investment product has a level of risk that the investor will assume, and every individual investor has a level of risk they are willing to tolerate. Generally, the higher the potential risk, the higher potential reward, and vice-versa. Let’s look at the basic characteristics of some low-risk and high-risk investments.

Fixed-rate Investments

As the name implies, fixed-rate investments are guaranteed to pay a stated rate of interest on the amount invested. At the end of the investment period, the issuer will also repay the investor the amount they invested. This makes them low-risk investments. Two of the most common fixed-rate investments are certificates of deposit and bonds.

Certificates of deposit, frequently referred to as CDs, are issued by banks. CDs are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank. This means that in the unlikely event that the issuing bank fails, the investor can be sure that they will receive up to $250,000 of their money back.

Bonds, another low-risk, fixed-rate investment, can be issued by governments and corporations. Bonds are not covered by FDIC insurance, but are backed by the credit quality of the government or corporation that issues them. Because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, treasury bonds are considered risk-free. Bonds can be high risk, too: high-yield bonds, sometimes called “junk bonds”, are issued by entities with low credit ratings. They pay better interest rates than higher-quality bonds, but it is more likely that the issuers of these bonds will default on their obligations. As a trade-off for the safety that fixed-rate investments provide, their returns are usually lower than those of higher-risk investments.


Though the stock market has historically been one of the most consistently high-performing asset classes, stocks are considered a high-risk investment. Many long-term investors, especially those saving for retirement, invest in stocks using index funds. Though stocks tend to grow over time, there are no guarantees associated with them, and there is a great potential for loss. Look no further than the financial crisis of 2008 for example, when the S&P 500, a common benchmark of the U.S. stock market, fell by 38%.

Certain types of stocks tend to be riskier than others. The stock of a well-established, “blue-chip” company will generally be the least risky type of stock. Stocks of smaller companies, especially those that are in emerging foreign markets or highly speculative industries, are generally more subject to dramatic price swings and high risk of loss.

An extremely high-risk way to invest in stocks is with leveraged exchange-traded funds. The return of these funds is calculated by multiplying the performance of a stock market index by two or three times, magnifying the gain or loss that the index experiences. This can result in incredible gains or devastating losses.

Precious Metals

Precious metals, one of the world’s most enduring investments, have risk characteristics that are a bit different than those of other investments. The prices of these metals can be subject to fluctuation, but many investors consider precious metals to be a way to hedge against inflation and offset losses suffered by their other investments during times of economic distress. Investor Andreas Christian summed it well when he said: “Although precious metals can be subject to volatility, the security they provide in times of economic turmoil is unmatched. Holding some precious metals can actually be an effective way to de-risk a portfolio.”

Clearly, it is important for all investors to understand the risks of investments they are considering, and to ensure that their portfolios are constructed in ways that appropriately reflect the amount of risk they are willing to tolerate.

7 Health Changes that Have A Big Impact

Most people strive to live healthy and happy lifestyles, but this often proves to be a challenge in a fast-paced world. Even with the best of intentions, workouts may not always happen and mealtime may look far from healthy and balanced. Fortunately, there are a few health changes that can have a huge impact on your overall well-being.

Drink Water
About 70% of the human body is comprised of water, so consuming enough water to stay well hydrated is extremely important. There is no set amount of water a person needs to drink, but drinking enough is important. Sip water throughout the day and make water your beverage of choice, while limiting other drinks such as milk and juice, and potentially eliminating high sugar drinks. Sufficient water consumption helps organs and cells function properly, boosting immunity and energy levels. Drinking plenty of water also helps your skin look young and fresh.

Quality sleep is essential when striving for good health. Many people complain of not getting enough sleep. The average adult should try to get 8 hours of good sleep per night, although this varies with different individuals. As a common rule, sleep satisfaction declines as we age. This does not have to be the case. There is a direct correlation between health and sleep. The better an individual’s overall health, the better they can expect to sleep. At bedtime, eliminate excess noise and light and keep your sleep space at a comfortable temperature to help facilitate a restful atmosphere.

Be Active
Most people acknowledge that regular exercise improves their body and mind, but finding the time and motivation to get moving can often be difficult. Luckily, exercise does not have to be a chore. Find an activity that you enjoy, and start there. Doctors recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. If you are new to the exercise idea, start with a brisk walk at lunchtime or after work. You will quickly start to reap the benefits.

Watch Your Posture
Proper posture is an extremely important, and often overlooked, aspect of health. Poor posture leads to neck, shoulder, and back pain. This, in turn, leads to a more sedentary lifestyle, potential weight gain, and difficulty sleeping. Sitting all day often leads to slouching. Try to take breaks and get up and move around periodically.

Eat the Rainbow
healthy diet is vital to overall health. There is no set guideline as to what every individual should eat, as factors such as size, age, activity level, and potential food intolerance all play a role when planning meals. A healthy place to start is eating a colorful diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet will help control weight, improve your mood, and prevent many diseases.

Relax and Refocus
Many people lead stress filled lives. The fact is that stress is bad for health, and overall well being is vastly improved by practicing healthy relaxation techniques. Relaxation helps lower blood pressure and protects your heart. It also reduces your risk of stroke, boosts your immunity, improves your sleep, aids your memory, and reduces your risk of depression. Relaxation looks different for different people. Some ideas include yoga, reading, drawing, or just taking time to listen to music. It is also possible to relax while doing something active that you enjoy, such as going for a walk or attending a baseball game with friends.

Limit Screentime
As a society, we are nearly constantly surrounded by technology and screens. Many parents worry about too much screen time for their children, but fail to consider the damage that excess screen time can have on their own health. Too much screen time contributes to a sedentary lifestyle. There have also been studies done that link degeneration of gray matter in the brain being damaged by over exposure to screens. These are the areas of the brain responsible for processing. This has the potential to impact decision making, impulse control, organization, and balancing emotions. Some screen time is fine, but find a healthy balance. Definitely try to turn off the screens and relax at bedtime. Also, make sure to take time to connect to people in real life, and not just on social media. Human interaction is essential to good health.

It may seem overwhelming to try to think of instituting all of these changes at once, but do not be discouraged. A healthy lifestyle is a life long process. Make small changes as you can, and begin to reap the benefits!

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Unless you live in a brand new, specially designed home built for maximum energy efficiency, there are things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Sure, there’s big stuff like adding insulation or new windows, but there are a few simple, and surprisingly inexpensive, ways to cut down the amount of energy your home consumes.

The biggest way to save energy, and money, is to put insulation into the wall cavities of your home and also the floor of your attic or crawlspace.

The attic/crawlspace is relatively easy: you simply roll out rolls of fiber glass insulation between the attic floor joists after removing any existing flooring material. This will keep heat from escaping through the ceiling of your house.

Installing insulation in the actual walls is a little more complex, but you have a couple more options.

Remove the drywall. This method works best if you are remodeling or rehabbing. Since most, if not all, of the drywall or plaster will be removed as part of your overall remodeling plan, it’s easy to add bats of fiberglass insulation when the plumbers and electricians are done with their part.

Keep the drywall in place. Customarily installed from the exterior of the house, foam or cellulose insulation are both installed by inserting a large hose into a hole in the wall and filling the cavities with the insulating material.

A hole is drilled in every cavity between the structural studs that make up the exterior walls. The foam or cellulose is then “blown” into the cavity using the power of an air compressor, water, or both. When all cavities are filled, the holes are filled in.

Cellulose insulation can be a do-it-yourself project if you use the dry method. Machines are available to rent at many stores that sell insulation.

Of course the other big-ticket change you can make is to install new, energy-efficient windows in your house. New windows are almost all double-glazed, meaning there are two layers of glass in each pane, with either just air or a chemical in the gap, which increases the window’s insulating power.

Double glazed windows use glass that is called Low E, or low-emissivity glass. Its transparent metallic coating both reflects heat back into the room and allows heat and light from the sun to pass right through the glass. This process is known as passive solar heat gain, which means that you are receiving heat from the sun right through your window glass, while also preventing heat loss from the inside to the outside. Best of both worlds.

If you can’t afford to replace your existing windows, you can cut down on drafts and heat loss considerably by covering your windows with specially designed sheets of plastic for the winter months.

You can install this type of plastic on either the interior or the exterior of your windows. Just be sure to get the material designed for indoors or outdoors.

For the exterior, double-sided tape is mounted around the edge of the window trim, taking care to cover the gap between the storm window and the wooden frame. Then remove the cover on the second side of the tape and attach the plastic. The downside of this method is the aesthetics. It’s hard to get the plastic tight enough to blend in, and the edges that go beyond the tape seem to flap in the wind a lot, no matter how carefully or close you trim the excess.

Interior plastic covering for windows is a little more unobtrusive. You apply the same way using double-sided tape and of course you extend the plastic to the woodwork to cover the gap between window and frame. But the cool part comes after that. You use a regular household hair dryer, held rather close to the plastic. It makes the plastic shrink and practically disappear. Not to mention you don’t have to climb around on a ladder outside your house to install this type of plastic.

Another relatively inexpensive way to increase energy efficiency in your home is to caulk the cracks around window and door openings—the part where the woodwork meets the wall. This alone will cut down on drafts and make your home feel more cozy while reducing your energy consumption.

Other relatively inexpensive ways to save energy include insulating your water heater with an insulating blanket, wrapping your hot water pipes with pipe insulation, switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs and finally, simply turning your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer.

Of course if you want to go full-out energy efficient, you can always build or move into a zero net home. These houses are specifically designed to consume the smallest amount of energy possible for every type of application. From solar panels to passive solar heat to heat sinks and super-insulated shells, net zero homes are the epitome of energy-efficiency.

11 Essentials to Prepare Before Traveling Abroad

Going abroad requires careful preparation. The first step, of course, should be to learn the rules and requirements of your destination(s). For example, some countries require visas while others do not.

1) Visit the US Department of State’s website

It has information on what you need to do in order to prepare for a trip abroad, and it organizes the information by country. The section “Americans Traveling Abroad” includes information on required documentation and vaccinations. It’s also a good idea to check “Alerts and Warnings” for such dangers as hurricanes or terrorist activity.

2) Get a passport

Since the application process can take a long time, it’s best to start it several months before your departure date. If you already have a passport, make sure it isn’t about to expire. Many countries won’t accept passports that are within six months of their expiration date. Similarly, some countries require you to have a passport for at least six months before you can apply for a visa.

3) Get a visa

Many countries also require a visa. Getting one requires contacting the country’s consulate or embassy; you can do that by phone, mail or the embassy’s website. Some countries, like Vietnam, make getting the visa very easy. They offer a “Visa on arrival” program in which travelers can get their visas at the airport as soon as they arrive.

4) Take care of any needed vaccinations

Visit the World Health Organization (WHO) and/or the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for information about health. The CDC site is particularly helpful in describing the various vaccines travelers should get. It also notes who is most at risk of contracting a given disease. For example, pregnant women should not go anywhere that has a lot of Zika virus.

5) Handle money matters

Check the rules regarding how much money can be brought into or taken out of a country. Inform your bank and credit card companies about your travel dates so they don’t deny any purchases you make. Ask about ATM fees, travelers’ checks, and the exchange rate between the US dollar and your destination’s currency.

6) Get travel insurance

Travel insurance covers items like cancelled or interrupted trips, delayed flights, lost luggage, emergency evacuations and medical emergencies. The last can be particularly important since Medicare and many commercial health insurance companies don’t cover medical treatments provided outside the US. Travel insurance also provides phone assistance, so you can call a local hospital, get prescriptions in an emergency or get help looking for lost luggage or documents.

7) Check your communication options

In other words, make sure your cell phone company covers international calls. Some, like T-Mobile and AT&T, do, and some do not. Certain apps, such as Skype, will let you communicate with people back home for not much money.

8) Make arrangements to take care of the house

That includes contacting the post office to postpone mail deliveries while you’re gone. You may also want to call a house sitter to check on things from time to time, especially if you have a garden or some indoor plants. If you have a pet, you will have to make arrangements for its care.

9) Read up on your destination

Learn about local laws, regulations and taboos ahead of time, so you don’t offend the locals. To pick an obvious example, you should dress modestly and neatly when visiting a temple or church. Similarly, try to learn a few phrases and expressions. Also read up on interesting festivals or sites in your area.

10) Make the necessary transportation arrangements

Are you going by a plane or cruise ship? If so, you will have to book your reservation months before your departure date, especially if you’re traveling during the peak tourist season. Cruise ships generally offer the best deals to people who book six to 12 months before they depart. Airlines want people to book international flights no later than three months before the departure date.

11) Pack

Pack as lightly as possible, and give some thought to what you will and won’t need. Also research items like whether or not you will need an adapter for your electronics. Look up what you can usually buy for not much money. Leave space for souvenirs.

How to Protect Your Business From Lawsuits

If you’re a successful business owner, you should take measures to protect what you built on your blood, sweat and tears. One of the most common risks to a business are lawsuits.  Here are several ways to protect your business.

Liability from Our Actions

The liability from your own actions could threaten both your assets and your business. In the legal realm, this has been referred to as “outside liability.” It deals with problems like divorce, car accidents and personal lawsuit claims. Outside liability deals with influences from outside everyday business operations, and it could let creditors attack either your business or your assets.

How to Defend Your Hard Work

First, you should create a financial statement with all the assets at your company. You don’t have to make this complicated, nor should you need the assistance of your CPA. Instead, you list the assets at your company, and you list their fair market value. Some of the assets you might list include:

  • Equipment
  • Property
  • Mutual funds
  • Stock
  • Your home

Next to the column on assets, you should also list the debts secured by them. For example, you might list an equity line of credit or loans attached to equipment or a mortgage. All this helps to evaluate what equity in your assets will be vulnerable.

Unsafe Work Environments

Based on federal and state law, an employer must provide employees with a safe workplace. An employee might also report the person to OSHA, and the company could get fined for a failure to follow the law. Attorney Juan Reyna says “To combat unsafe work lawsuits, one of the best ways is to make sure you have followed all the OSHA standards. This makes it much harder for an employee to mount a lawsuit against your business.” In addition, you should carry insurance so that if an employee does get injured on the job, he can’t sue you for workers’ compensation. Employees have a federal right to work in a safe environment, and in some cases, they can refuse to work if you have not done all you could to make it safe for them.

Ask for a Quote on Umbrella Insurance

In the event you find yourself as the aim of a nefarious lawsuit, having umbrella insurance will make you feel much better. This insurance usually costs around $300 to $500 per year, but it will cover between $1 million to $2 million worth of coverage every year. It protects your assets from liabilities that happen because of personal actions. When you go to buy umbrella insurance, it won’t be the same as auto, home or business coverage. However, it does hand your creditor a target to aim at and minimize the risk to your business assets.

Keep in mind, while umbrella insurance does help for situations like accidents, it won’t cover reckless, fraudulent, criminal or negligent behavior. This is why a comprehensive asset protection plan could be one of the best decisions you ever made to protect your business. It includes more than insurance.

What to Do if You Have No Assets?

For those who have just started to build their wealth and don’t have the assets, don’t worry too much. You don’t want to scare yourself into buying an unnecessary policy. A solid defense from lawsuits is to protect your business assets before a bad situation tries to wreak havoc on your life.

Asset protection has been intended for the worst case scenario where another person files a lawsuit against your company. You should first check to make sure your asset protection strategy offers you security. When you’re a small business owner, sometimes you lack the resources of a bigger corporation and even the smallest judgment could destroy everything you worked hard to build. An attorney can help you plan this out better so that there are no surprises.

A Bill-By-Bill Guide to Saving Money

If you’re on a budget, one of the best ways to reduce costs and have extra money to pay down debt is through reducing your current expenditures. This doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all your comforts, in many cases, it can be as simple as going through each of your bills and seeing where you can make some cuts. Chances are you’re paying more than you should for each of them.

Let’s start with your Cell Phone

Without fail, one of the best ways to save money on your cell phone bill is to shop around. Many of the carriers offer very similar service ranges, and so unless you’re in an area that has particularly bad coverage for one specific carrier, it might be worth it to look at competitors and see what kind of plans they have to offer.

Another way is to check your actual data usage and see how much you think you need, versus how much you actually need. It’s not too hard to check your usage, but it is different for each carrier and phone. If you’re paying for 5GB of data, but find out you only use an average of 2-3GB per month, dropping to a lower amount can save you an extra $10 or more a month, or $120 a year.

Next, Check Out Your Utilities

You may think that your electric and gas rates are mostly unchangeable, but that is far from the case. There are several little things you can do that will add up to huge savings on your utility bill, provided you stay diligent and are willing to stand for some (very) minor discomforts.

For starters, consider lowering your thermostat a few degrees in the winter, and raising it a few degrees in the summer. It may not seem like much, but experts claim you can receive around 1% of your bill back for every degree changed, as long as it lasts longer than eight hours.

Try running your larger appliances at off-peak hours as well, since the house has to work harder to cool itself if a lot of devices are active. Don’t forget to turn off your lights and other devices when not in use. If you are still not happy with what you are paying you can shop around to find the best electric rates possible.

Call Your Internet and TV Provider

Sometimes, a simple phone call is all it takes to save a few bucks at the end of the month on things like your television and internet. If you simply can’t go without these resources at all (and let’s face it, who can?), then it’s always a good idea to call up your providers and ask about lower plans or lower rates. After all, if you don’t watch all 900 channels, why pay for them?

When you call the first time, ask to speak to their “Customer Retention Department.” Their job is to keep you as a customer as long as possible, and many times will go to great lengths to do so. Usually, this will involve something like bumping you to a promotional rate or adding extra services for free. Not bad for a quick phone call.

Don’t Forget the Credit Cards!

In 2016, the average American household carried more than $16,000 in credit card debt. $16,000! As if that wasn’t bad enough, those same households in the same year paid nearly $1,200 on those credit cards in interest alone! That is a ton of cash that is doing nothing but going down the drain.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all credit card companies are completely soulless and evil; many are willing to work with you in order, especially if you have been a long-time customer. Just like with the other bills, sometimes simply calling them up and asking about a lower interest rate is enough for them to drop it a few points.

Consider also switching to a card with a lower rate. Even a few percentage points can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s worth it to look into doing a balance transfer. Of course, the ideal way to save the interest money is to pay off the debt in the first place, but that is easier said than done for most of us.