Monthly Archives: October 2018

5 Ways to Start Saving for Retirement as a Business Owner

5 Ways to Start Saving for Retirement as a Business Owner

As a business owner, you put your blood, sweat and tears into your company. While you were pouring your profits back into the business, you probably forgot to think about retirement. But it will be here before you know it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start saving for retirement. Here’s how:

1. Create a Plan

Create a plan to start saving, and start with a goal. How much will you need to live in retirement? Where do you envision yourself retiring? Do you want to travel the world, or live a modest life in a tiny cottage?

If you hope to live comfortably, you cannot rely on Social Security or survivors’ benefits if your spouse passes away.

If you’re unsure of how to calculate the cost, there are online calculators and worksheets that can help you understand your future expenses.

Once you understand where you want to retire and how much you will need, you can create a plan to reach that goal. Additionally, you can start developing a succession plan to pass on your business in retirement or after your demise.

2. Work with a Financial Planner

A financial planner can help you devise a saving strategy and reach your goals for retirement. Ideally, you should work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

A financial planner will help walk you through the plans available and identify the one that is most financially viable.

If you’re creating a succession plan, you may need to involve some experts to help you reach your business goals.

3. Invest in a Diversified Retirement Savings Plan

Establish a diversified retirement savings plan to get a jumpstart on your savings. You don’t necessarily have to throw all of your money into the plan, but these funds will help reduce your tax bill now and continue to grow – tax-deferred – until you start making withdrawals when you retire.

There are four main options:

  • Solo 401(k)
  • SIMPLE 401(k)

All of these options, with the exception of the SEP-IRAs, are available to sole proprietorships, corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.

SEP-IRAs are a good option if you’re the only employee in the business. With a SEP-IRA, you can contribute up to 25% of your net income each year and enjoy some tax savings.

4. Purchase Income-Producing Assets

A retirement savings account is the most common way to save for retirement, but you can also increase your savings by investing in income-producing assets.

Purchasing rental units, for example, can provide annual cash flow that can be set aside for retirement. Other income-producing assets include:

  • Farmland
  • Timberland
  • Vacation rentals
  • Franchises
  • Royalties
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • Dividend paying stocks
  • Interest paying bonds
  • Certificate of deposits

5. Automate Your Contributions

It’s easy to forget or overlook your savings if you plan to make quarterly or yearly contributions. Other business expenses may take priority, which will ultimately hurt your retirement savings. The longer you put retirement on the back burner, the less money you will have when you finally decide to hang up your hat.

Automating the process and making monthly contributions will ensure that your retirement is a priority.

Things to Consider in Retirement

Planning for your retirement is more critical than a space shuttle mission. In the same manner, you will be isolated from the options you previously had and will be forced to maintain yourself in the capsule you have created. If you get sick or something happens, what fail-safes do you have in place to ensure a safe landing and redeployment? Retirement is a fact of life. If you have been blessed enough to live past the retirement age and have take care of your health, you are better prepared to weather the next half of your life.

For healthy individuals with good health care, retirement can last longer than the years they spent working. In this manner, it makes sense to diligently plan and prepare for retirement while you are still young. One of the biggest issues to consider in retirement is how your investments are working for you without having to manage them anymore. It is generally not a good idea to simply save up a cushion of raw cash for retirement. The inflation rates have the potential to whither down that pile of cash over decades. If you have a pension, stocks, bonds, and a portfolio of investments that are certain to ripen over time, your money is working for you.

Retirement is the ideal time to vacation and enjoy the finer things of life that you put off to focus on your career. Travel is an important part of keeping your neurons active and fresh so that you retain your mental acuity in your old age. Learning to play a musical instrument and challenging yourself are the secrets to preventing mental morbidity. Exercising and remaining active can be fulfilled with golf, fishing, swimming and hours of serene walking in that scenic paradise you’ve prepared for yourself.

Healthcare is paramount to protecting your livelihood. Living in the US has its privileges of access to some of the best medical centers in the world. You will likely qualify for Medicare and will have your choice between optional coverage plans that can save you significantly over time. Choosing the best retirement age is equivalent to choosing the correct weather to launch your space mission. You are going to be up there for a while and a lot is at stake, delaying your retirement as long as possible is always in your best interests.

If you retire at 65 or older, you will automatically be eligible for Medicare in the United States. But, this health coverage will not provide any help if you plan on retiring in a foreign country like many people eventually wind up doing. You may be able to obtain an expensive COBRA plan from your employer that provides long-term coverage. Investing in extended care insurance for nursing home and other rehabilitation facilities will bolster your protections.

One of the biggest mistakes that early retirees can make is rolling over their 401K into a Roth IRA. They are simply prohibited from accessing the cash when they need it without paying a steep 10% penalty. The IRA puts you on track to liquidation of your earned retirement income by forcing you to withdraw funds or face huge tax penalties. It is important to speak with a financial consultant in all phases of your retirement planning because the rules can be complex and arbitrary.

If you live below your means and invest more into the market, you will have money working for you without doing anything. This not only gives you capital to liquidate if you should need it now, but it is also developing the fundamental skills for a smooth retirement. Buying a smaller house, learning to fix your own vehicle, learning how to cook ethnic foods that are tasty and inexpensive, and having different entrepreneurial ideas working in the background, will help you avoid the popular pitfalls of consumerism that rob people of their retirement savings.

The biggest costs of living are for automobiles, home payments, and food. If you can reduce these three elements to the minimal by learning how to be handy and how to live on cheap foods that are tasty, you have a powerful advantage. In foreign countries, the people make very marginal incomes individually. By living a more communal lifestyle with large families that stick together for life, they are able to use their combined incomes to accomplish the same as a very wealthy individual or a small corporation in America. If you provide an incentive for your children to remain living in the same household and sharing the same food, this can save significant money on elder care and the day-to-day costs of living. Investing in a tight-knit family that shares a communal spirit is by far the biggest advantage you can make in building a stronger retirement.

Considering all this great wisdom for retiring now will help you live a long happy life by preparing every day for the long haul.

How to Study Abroad in College

Studying abroad gives college students the opportunity to explore new cultures, have new experiences and become more independent. Many college students long for an opportunity to study overseas, but figuring out how to get there can be a challenge. Most people assume that their options are limited.

But there are a few ways to study abroad while in college.

Study Abroad: Your Options

Many college students don’t know that there are a few options when it comes to studying abroad.

A Traditional Study Abroad Program Through Your University

The simplest and most traditional way to study abroad is to enroll in a program through your university. With this method, courses will transfer easily, as they’re already approved by the school.

Some schools will even take care of the visa for you. And because you are going through a program controlled by your school, there is a chance that the cost will be lower than staying on campus.

Not all universities offer study abroad programs or programs that are relevant to every student’s major. For this reason, many students have to look to other options to study overseas.

Direct Enrollment Through a University Overseas

Another way to study abroad is to enroll directly in a university overseas. It is possible to enroll for a semester, a year or for a full degree at a university overseas.

Depending on the university and the program, students may have to apply for a student visa.

Additionally, students may have to have a good grasp of the local language if there are no courses available in their native tongue. That can prove to be a challenge in some parts of the world, but learning a new language will prove to be an asset in the future.

Find a Program Through a Third-Party Provider

There are several companies that work in the education field that help students of all majors and levels study abroad. Third party providers may also help students find opportunities to study in the summer, when traditional programs are not available.

If you’re unable to find third-party providers through your university, Go Overseas’ offers a list of study abroad programs.

The Costs of Studying Abroad

One important thing that needs to be considered is the costs of studying abroad. The idea is a romantic one, but there’s no denying that studying overseas will be expensive.

There are several variables that will affect the cost of studying abroad. These include:

  • Housing: Will you be living on campus or off campus?
  • The cost of living in the country
  • The tuition costs
  • Costs of traveling to and from your destination
  • Visa costs
  • Extracurriculars
  • Additional travel
  • Cultural events
  • Availability of financial aid and grants
  • The type of study-abroad program you’ll join
  • Who is running the study-abroad program

Take the time to estimate and figure out all of the costs associated with studying abroad before committing yourself. Financial aid and grants may be available that make studying overseas possible at little or no expense. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Keeping Track of Your Company’s Vehicles

An important benefit associated with buying company cars for your employees to use is the ability to track those vehicles as needed. Modern technology enables convenient, real-time and accurate GPS tracking. This technology may be used as a security measure, such as to locate a vehicle that has been stolen or to locate an employee who is not responding. GPS technology may also be used to monitor the location of employees for managerial oversight purposes. If you have decided to start tracking your company’s vehicles for these or other reasons, walk through these steps to ensure that you cover all relevant bases.

Set Clear Policies 
When GPS technology is used to oversee employees and to ensure that they are managing their time responsibly, you must establish clear policies for your employees. Some companies, for example, have lax work hours. They permit their employees to manage their own work schedules as long as all responsibilities are met and tasks are completed. Other companies set strict work hours and limit the amount of time allowed for a lunch break. Regardless of whether you adopt one of these policies or another policy, ensure that all employees have received and read a copy of the employee handbook that outlines these policies.

Understand the Law 
If your employees are allowed to take their work vehicles home after work, be aware that you are typically not legally permitted to track your employees when they are not on the clock. Tracking during work hours is generally permissible. However, you may need to notify your employees in writing of this policy. They may also need to sign a document consenting this. Because tracking laws vary by location, consider consulting with an attorney before installing and using GPS devices in company vehicles. This will help you to stay on the right side of the law when tracking your company’s cars.

Purchase and Install GPS Tracking Devices 
After you have taken these steps, you may be ready to look for top GPS trackers for cars. There are many variations of tracking devices to choose from. The accuracy and cost of these devices may vary. You may also need to pay for monitoring service for GPS trackers, and the software or platform should be easy to use. Ensure that the tracking device cannot easily be located or removed. If employees can remove devices, they may be able to manipulate the system. This renders vehicle tracking ineffective and useless.

Monitor Vehicles Regularly 
Once the GPS tracking devices are installed in your company’s vehicles, you should be able to track vehicles as desired. Constantly observing where vehicles are located can be time-consuming, so you may consider spot checking employees from week to week. If you have suspicions about an employee not working responsibly, you can always monitor that employee’s whereabouts more frequently. The information from a monitored tracking device may be used to support your decision to penalize or even to terminate a specific employee. However, when employees know that their movements can be tracked, they may be deterred from straying from the day’s plans. Remember that you are not the only person in your office who can track vehicles. You may assign this task to various managers in your company to alleviate the time burden of tracking employees.

Tracking your company’s vehicles is an excellent way to monitor your employees and to safeguard your property. While there is a cost associated with using GPS tracking devices in your company’s vehicles, the benefits may be worthwhile. Consider learning more about relevant laws in your area, and start comparing GPS tracking devices as initial steps. By doing so, you will be able to determine if tracking your vehicles is a reasonable and thoughtful step to take.

What Traveling Can and Can’t Help You With

Traveling can create lasting memories for individuals, couples, and families. It allows people to experience new foods, scenery, and traditions. You do not have to travel far to enjoy new territory. All it requires is setting aside time. If you are a planner, you can map the entire trip. If you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants, then maybe just getting a ticket and having a packed bag is all you need or want. No matter what style of traveler you are or how often you get to go to new places there are some benefits to traveling, but traveling cannot fix or repair all areas of our lives. Travel magazines, television commercials, and advertisements make it appear that traveling is a magic wand that once waved over our head will make everything better. You should know what it can and cannot do. There are many ways adventures change people. Here we will break down six issues that can and cannot be altered by traveling.

What Travel CAN Help With

1. Breaking Shyness – Traveling naturally forces you to engage with other people, but it can be far less stressful than in everyday situations because asking questions becomes necessary. You need to know what time the train leaves or where the bathroom is. It eases you into conversation and confidence. The relax effort may also be because you know you will probably never see these people again, so you have nothing to lose by asking a simple question. Psychology Today recommends to overcome shyness be interested in others. Take the focus off yourself. Doing this could begin some great conversations while traveling.

2. Enhance Creativity – Every time you allow yourself to be exposed to new foods, sights, or cultures you have a unique experience to draw from. Traveling brings about all sorts of temporary changes that the mind, body, and spirit can safely investigate. Long after the adventure has ended, the thoughts stay with you, and you can use them for creative problem solving, making new conversation, or establishing new models or frameworks for projects and ideas.

3. Lose Weight – What? I bet you never thought you would see that as a side effect from traveling, but it can be. Spa facilities that focus on exercise and nutrition are trendy, and these all-inclusive resorts are located around the world. If you have a family and need lots of activities, cruises offer fun fitness classes. There are caloric-burning dance classes, and you can continue to dance the night away on the ship. Shore excursions can involve paddling a kayak, riding a mountain bike, or learning to scuba dive.

What Travel CANNOT Help With

1. Depression – Many people are falsely led to believe that a trip will make depression “go away”. As documented by HealthLine that is not the case. Some symptoms are enhanced before, during, and after the trip. Planning is a necessary part of travel, and it can be daunting. The stress of trying to find hotels and flights, budget money, and set up the household to run while your away can create anxiety and move depression further. Returning home can add to the pain. After what seems to be a successful vacation, arriving back to reality can hit a depressed person’s system harder. It seems to amplify the negative feelings that were already there before, but now they feel even more prominent. There might be better alternatives to seek before choosing traveling to help ease depression.

2. Heartache – A broken heart can be caused by a breakup, the loss of a loved one, and divorce. The ache that comes with such devastation is deep. A person can feel more alone when traveling. A study posted by the Chicago Tribune found that the act of journaling helped mend heartache. It might be a better way to deal with the pain, and save your time and money for travel at another time.

3. Learning a Language – You were probably always taught the best way to learn a new language was to go to visit that country. Fluent In Three Months states learning is not a passive activity. If you are in a foreign country, you will be doing all you can to find food and shelter. It is not the time to learn verb conjugations. A better approach would be to study at home first. Learn some basic phrases you can use there then go on your trip. Use some of your new phrases to make friends, order a meal, and have a good time.

Hopefully, these tips shed some new light on what to expect out of vacations. Travel can be a great adventure and create lifelong dreams, but sometimes traveling is not the answer.

3 Plumbing Repairs You Should Make Before Winter

Winter is just about here. The colder weather is rolling in, and now is the time to make a lot of plumbing repairs and take precautionary measures. You don’t want the cold weather to cause your plumbing issues to become more complex.

Your home needs to be ready for the winter weather.

Start with the following, and you’ll be able to protect your plumbing system from potential costly repairs:

1. Start with Fixing Your Plumbing Leaks

If you have a known leak, you’ll want to get these repairs taken care of before winter rolls in. Orange Plumber notes that even a small leak should be fixed, whether it be a small drip or a puddle on the floor.

Check around the home for common leaks, including:

  • Under your kitchen sink
  • Under your bathroom sinks
  • Drips or leaks in the utility room

Even if you have a leaky faucet, it’s better to have the issue repaired before the winter rolls in. If the water happens to freeze, you may end up with a major repair bill as the leak worsens drastically.

2. Fix Pipe Freezes

If you know that your home’s piping system freezes often, it’s time to make a change. Don’t allow your piping system to continually freeze. Instead, you want to make “repairs,” or at least stop the system from freezing.


Insulate all of your pipes, and this can be done with an insulated blanket or some insulated foam. The great thing is that this is a very easy fix, and all it takes is a few minutes to learn how to insulate your pipes.

It’s a quick fix, and you’ll be able to find the insulation online or at your local hardware store.

All you need to do is:

  • Cut the insulation to the length of the pipe
  • Pull the insulation open
  • Push the insulation around the pipe

If the insulation doesn’t have its own adhesive, you’ll be able to use duct tape. Now, your pipes will be insulated and protected further against freezing.

3. Hot Water Heater Rust

Hot water heaters will last 8 – 12 years on average, and anything over this time span is very lucky. A lot of homeowners will wait until their hot water heater is beyond repair or stops working to replace it because it is a major expense.

And I don’t blame anyone that waits because of financial issues.

When you can, have your water heater drained so that all of the sediment build-up can be removed. It’s often recommended that this be done before the winter weather rolls in. During this time, the unit’s tank should be inspected for rust.

A lot of this sediment will cause the interior shell of the water heater to rust.

Rust build-up may be able to be removed in the early stages, but once the issue progresses, it will weaken the water tank. A plumber will be able to assess the situation and then tell you if a new water heater is needed.

Leaking or pooling near the water heater is a sign that a unit may need to be replaced.

It’s better to replace a water heater before it breaks down in the middle of the winter.

8 Ways to Cut Business Costs

In business, you have to spend money in order to make money. Some expenditures cannot be avoided, such as paying rent and electricity, but people who are careful with their spending will cut their bills in half. Review these 8 ways to cut the costs that you spend regularly on maintaining a business.

1. Cut Down on the Rent and Utilities 

Reduce the costs of rent and utilities, such as water, Internet and electricity. Every business needs a house or building to operate its activities. Reduce the money that you spend on basic resources that are used daily. Restrict your usage of the water, Internet or electricity. Also, consider renting a cheaper building or home.

2. Focus Strictly on Energy Costs 

Electricity makes up a huge chunk of the utility bills. Even people who don’t pay electric bills know this because some electronics are used all day long. Make a special plan to reduce your energy bills and save hundreds up to thousands of dollars a month. Obtain a monthly audit from your current energy provider. Compare the rates of the most affordable energy companies using a source like EnergySeek.

3. Reduce the Staff 

See how you can lay off one or more workers to save money. Businesses make the common mistake of hiring too many employees who do minimal work but still require fair salaries. They may hire too many people to do tasks that only a few people can do. For example, instead of hiring 20 salespeople and 20 marketers, consider hiring only 10 people who have expertise in both sales and marketing.

4. Reduce the Inventory 

Another thing to cut is the number of goods you sell. Some stores have too many items that rarely sell and remain locked in storage for years. Get rid of the inventory that costs money but does not earn any profits. Invest more in the products that get sold the most and remove the ones that sell fewer than 10 quantities every month.

5. Invest in Technology 

Technology reduces the time, effort and money that it takes to do work manually. Automate and streamline typical business processes for accounting, marketing and customer service. Replace customer service representatives with automated systems, and use accounting software instead of hiring bookkeepers.

6. Use Outsourcing 

Outsource your departments to third party workers and companies in other countries. They provide the same quality services at lower labor costs. Some businesses have eliminated their entire departments by hiring outsourced workers.

7. Improve Sales 

When you improve sales, you increase profits and earn more money, which helps to reduce expenditure costs. There are several ways to improve sales: reduce product prices, provide more sales offers or hire more convincing salespeople. Make sure that your business is making more money than it is losing in the end.

8. Pay Off Your Debts

Pay off your debts as soon as possible. Every business loan accumulates interest that costs more than the actual loan. Consolidate your debts into one affordable package or increase the monthly payments to pay off the debts quickly.

Every business has similar costs from utilities to inventory. You don’t have to spend the most money on expenses if there are ways to save money. Review all of the ways that you can cut the costs of doing business.

3 Things to Consider Before Your Kids Go to the Dentist

Parents often wait too long to bring their children to their first dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends parents bring their children to the dentist for the first time at age one or two.

But every parent is different. Some parents believe that since a child’s baby teeth will fall out, there’s no reason to go to the dentist.

The issue is that your child is going to wait a long time before being exposed to a dentist. This leads to our first points.

1. Bring Your Child to the Dentist Before the Age of 2

Dentists won’t be doing too much to your child’s teeth at this time. Children under the age of 2 will be introduced to the dentist’s office, and they’ll get accustomed to the tools that are in the dental office.

It’s at this time that all of the fears your child has about the dentist at a later age can be eliminated.

When a child is introduced to a dentist at a young age, the dentist will be able to prevent some crowding and future issues with teeth development, and every session will be a new introduction. The child may be introduced to brushing, polishing and then other procedures in each subsequent visit to reduce the potential of fear and anxiety.

2. Explain the Procedures to Your Child

Adults are scared when going to the dentist, and children will be just as scared, especially when going to the dentist for the first time at an older age. Your child’s first visit will include a routine cleaning if they haven’t been to the dentist until their adult teeth have formed. Even a diligent brusher will still have bacteria on their teeth that needs to be cleaned away.

But while these measures are necessary to prevent cavities, you’ll also need to explain the process to your child.

It’s scary having someone reach into your mouth. It’s also scary having a stranger stick sharp objects in your mouth.

One of the best things you can do is find a dentist that works with children: pediatric dentistry. These dentists and hygienists are trained to work with children, and they’ll be more sympathetic to the child’s needs.

You want a dentist and hygienist that will work through your child’s fears, explaining the entire process to them as they work through the appointment.

3. Sedation Drugs Should Be Used with Severe Caution

Kids shouldn’t have severe dental issues yet, but these issues do happen in severe cases. The problem with dental issues, aside from basic cleanings, is that sedation may be recommended for the child.

And sedation can lead to serious injuries.

A recent case when sedation wasn’t necessary or was improperly administered for something as simple as a dental cleaning demonstrates the danger of sedation. The case involved a three-year-old boy who died from brain damage due to a sedation mixture that resulted in the boy going into cardiac arrest.

If the dentist recommends sedation, you may want to seek a second opinion. Dental routines involving sedation can result in brain damage and death.

3 Items Homeowners Need to Be Able to Find on Their Property

Homeowners need to worry about more than how they’ll decorate their rooms and outdoor spaces. There are important system components that you need to be able to find on your land, and if you don’t know where these items are located, it can lead to a hazard in the future.

Which items should every homeowner be able to locate?

1. Sewer Lines

If you hit a sewer line in your yard, you’re facing a potentially wet and stinky situation. Sewer lines can be found in a variety of ways, from probing the ground yourself to asking the previous owner where the sewer lines are located – if they know.

But you also have a much better option: property maps.

“Property maps can be found in municipal centers. Here, you’ll be able to see the location and details regarding underground facilities,” explains Feltner’s. Municipal centers will provide you with maps that show where all of your utility lines are located.

It’s the easiest way to find your sewer lines.

You can also call in a professional plumber that will use scanning technology and equipment to locate your sewer lines quickly.

2. Utility Lines

You need to be able to find your home’s utility lines. If you hit one of these lines accidentally, it can lead to severe injury or death. You don’t want to go out and start searching for these lines yourself.

Instead, you want to rely on a professional to locate the electrical lines in the yard.

Utility companies can be called out to the property to mark the utilities on the property. You can call “811,” in the United States, to connect with location services for underground utilities.

You’ll want to call this number to have someone come out and mark all of your utility lines to prevent you from damaging them during a project.

Gas lines will also be able to be located with a call to “811.”

3. Water Cut Off Valve

A water cut off valve is usually inside of the home. You’ll want to scour the perimeter of the home on the side facing the street. This will allow you to find the valve to shut the water off. But if you can’t find the valve, you can look at the property inspection report to locate it.

The report should mention where the valve is located along with a photo of the valve.

There’s also an additional valve that is at the start of the water main. You’ll find this valve near the property’s boundary line. Oftentimes, the valve is encased within a utility box that has a trap door on the group level.

If you can’t find this line, you’ll want to call your local water company.

The water company may be able to dispatch an emergency team to help you shut the water off from the main. Dispatchers may also direct you on how to shut the water off in the event of a pipe burst or major leak.