5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Car Ownership

Posted on 17. Oct, 2014 by .


The cost of owning a car can have a significant impact on a person’s monthly budget. Not only must drivers budget for the cost of fuel, but they also need to consider the cost of auto insurance. Here are five ways to effectively reduce the cost of car ownership.

Buy used parts
Used parts are typically a lot less expensive than brand-new parts. While a new bumper may cost $500, a used bumper can be obtained for as little as $50. The availability of used parts is a big advantage for car owners who wish to repair their vehicle at an affordable cost.

Drive more efficiently
Developing an efficient driving style can certainly reduce the amount of money spent on refuelling a vehicle. Instead of travelling at a speed of 70 miles per hour on the freeway, drivers should consider reducing their average speed to 60 miles per hour. Most automobiles tend to experience a reduction in fuel economy when travelling at speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour. When accelerating from a stop, drivers should place as little pressure as possible on the gas peal.

Take advantage of insurance discounts
Most insurance companies offer discounts to safe drivers. However, being an accident-free driver is not the only way to receive discounts and incentives. Many insurance providers also provide discounts to the car owners who have installed upgraded safety features on their ride. Visit your local insurance agent to find out about all the other available discounts.

Invest in a repair manual
A vehicle repair manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix a number of mechanical problems. A detailed repair manual can easily be purchased for less than $50. Instead of paying a mechanic to do the work, the car owner will be able to perform the necessary repair work. The person will be able to gain more and more confidence with each successful repair job.

Obtain a wheel alignment
A wheel alignment will effectively prolong the life of a car’s tires. Typically, most automakers agree that a wheel alignment needs to be performed at least every 15,000 miles. A proper wheel alignment also helps the vehicle to get the best possible gas mileage.

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Do You Need a Financial Adviser?

Posted on 30. Sep, 2014 by .


Planning for the future helps ensure that you will be able to live comfortably and happily when the time for retirement comes. It will also give you safety and security before you retire, which can allow you to pay for large costs like college tuition, medical procedures and even events like grand weddings. The tricky part is knowing not only how to save your money but also where to invest it so that your funds grow at the right rate.

That’s where a financial adviser and planner can make the difference. They can teach you the principles you need to save money while maintaining your quality of living, guide you to make the right investments and help you plan out your future so that you can pay for all those expected and unexpected expenses.

How Can a Financial Adviser Help You?

The first thing that any financial adviser will do is to help you look through what you currently have in terms of assets and debt. They will then talk to you about clearing any debt that you have before you begin setting realistic and obtainable personal finance goals.

The second step they will address is creating a plan to help you meet your future financial goals. You’ll work with your adviser to establish a timeline and a way to measure your progress towards successfully meeting your goals with actions, such as depositing a few dollars into a savings account every week, that will ultimately push you toward the funds you need.

Your adviser will then converse with you about the various investment options available to you while covering the challenges that each pose. This will help you make a sound investment that should help you grow the amount of funds you have in your savings account, which means that you will be required to save less so long as your investments grow.

The last step in setting up your financial plan entails putting it into action. Your financial planner will then help you put your plan into action while monitoring it in the event that some alterations need to be made.

Do You Need a Financial Adviser?

Financial advisers can help you put a plan into action that will help you save the money you require for the future. While you can do this on your own, professionals provide the help and insight required to give you the best chance at maximizing your savings over a prolonged period of time.

If the time ever comes that you need to change your financial plans, they’ll be there to work with you.

Click here to find a trustworthy and professional financial adviser in Columbia, South Carolina.

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How the Queen is going to help your business get access to funding

Posted on 01. Jul, 2014 by .


It might not be immediately apparent but the Queen is an active champion of small businesses in the UK.

Her Majesty’s expression of that support comes in the form of her annual address on the occasion of the state opening of parliament. 2014 proved to be no exception, with the Guardian newspaper offering an insight into key sections of the speech and summarising the reactions from a number of commentators and spokesmen on behalf of the country’s small businesses.


The Queen’s speech

The speech is published on the official government website and outlines its plans and intentions with respect to a list of policies and legislation for the current session of parliament.


Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

Clearly, this is the key piece of proposed legislation for small businesses and is designed, says the Queen in her speech: “to help make the United Kingdom the most attractive place to start, finance and grow a business”.

As part of this plan, the legislation aims to:

  • improve the access to finance needed by small businesses;
  • improve ways in which customer payments may be made to small businesses;
  • allow small businesses to compete fairly for their share of the £230 billion public procurement contracts that are made each year;
  • improve the means by which small businesses may make investments; and
  • minimise bureaucracy and red tape affecting the way in which small businesses operate.

There are many options to traditional bank loans. No mention is made, however, of the numerous ways in which alternative sources of funding are being tapped by businesses eager to expand and grow. This includes small business loans, Government grants, crowdfunding and investors etc.


Confederation of British Industry

The referenced report by the Guardian newspaper carries the reaction of the Deputy Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Katja Hall, who comments on the reliance of Britain’s economic recovery on making adequate credit available to small and medium sized enterprises.

The spokesman also referred to:

  • a need for lenders to have better access to credit data in order to inform their lending;
  • the improvement of small business’ cash flow problems by introducing a system under which tardy payers (later than 60 days) need to pay up or explain their reasons for failing to pay; and
  • the need for improved access by tender for small businesses interested in competing for government contracts.


Federation of Small Businesses

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), John Allen, welcomed the apparent step forward in government’s support for small businesses and the role they play in the economic recovery of the country.

He described the proposed legislation as a “landmark bill”, which covered many of the issues over which the FSB has been concerned; in particular the rules governing late payment of invoices and the reduction of bureaucracy and red tape.


British Chambers of Commerce

The Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also called for policies and legislation that led to the simplification of life for small and medium sized businesses.

John Longworth expressed support for the declared aims of the small business, enterprise and employment bill, but also voiced the caveat that any measures needed to be seen to be working.



David Bywater is a partner responsible for small and medium sized businesses at accountants KPMG.

His comments focussed on the construction industry in particular in which he referred to the army of suppliers made up by small and medium sized enterprises. Describing the legislative proposals as “infrastructure developments”, he welcomed the prospect of improved access to finance and regulation with respect to the late payment of invoices.

He reserved his principal support, however, for anything that put into law the reduction of bureaucracy and red tape that appears to beset British businesses. These obstacles currently consume valuable time and effort on the part of small businesses, detracting them from the very process of running the enterprises for which they are responsible.


A round-up of comments

The various spokesmen for small businesses evidently welcomed the promises made in the Queen’s speech but also stressed that any intended legislation needed to take practical effects, especially in the reduction of the bureaucracy and red tape under which small businesses continue to labour.

Bio: Judy Sturgess is a stay at home mum to two boys who loves writing. She works freelance for a number of websites.

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5 Great Tips to Maximise Your Tax Return in 2014

Posted on 30. May, 2014 by .


There’s so much paperwork at tax time; tiny little receipts flying all over the place and no matter how organised you intend to be, those bits of paper always seem to get away from you; sound familiar? No need to panic; in fact there’s never been a better time to get focused. With a little planning and a bit of help from somebody like Fox Symes, you can face the financial year end with determination instead of trepidation.

Pay In Advance

Try to pay as many tax deductible expenses in advance – even into next financial year. This common money management strategy is used by many successful enterprises and it works just as effectively for your personal finances. By paying for some of next year’s bills now, you can receive the deduction in this financial year. Note that this strategy only works for deductible expenses, such as interest on investment loans or certain types of insurance premiums. The larger your prepaid expense items, the greater your deductions. The other benefit of this strategy is that it gives you a really clear, running start to your new financial year. The best way to utilise this strategy is to keep paying deductibles in advance so you have a rolling run of deductibles with which to offset your income each financial year.


Charitable giving is often deductible, so if you are considering any worthy causes it’s a good idea to donate before the financial year ends on June 30. Make sure you keep your receipts. If your contribution is paid monthly via direct debit, ask about receiving a statement for your contributions at financial year end.

Consider Private Health Cover

If you earn well, you probably get hit with a surcharge. You can avoid this by taking out private health insurance. You do need to have held the policy for the full financial year in order to receive the full benefit, but if you don’t already have some form of private health cover then you can at least make a start.

Receive This Year’s Income Next Year

It isn’t always easy (or practical) to defer income but if you can have any bonuses, term deposit earnings, or dividend payments deferred until after July 1, you will not be required to pay tax on that money this financial year. You will of course need to declare it next financial year; running a rolling balance sheet works just as well for maximising income as it does for minimising expenses.

Record Keeping

Do you have a system for tracking receipts and deductibles? The end of financial year is an ideal time to examine your paperwork systems. Ask for electronic receipts whenever possible and make sure your computer files are organised in an easily manageable way. For those times when you can only get paper receipts, set aside some regular time to scan these in regularly; weekly or monthly works well for most people. This means you will always have electronic records for anything you might claim. Remember – if you can’t prove it, you can’t claim it.

Making a living isn’t about what you earn; it’s about what you keep. Maximising your tax return is all about keeping as much of what’s yours’ as you can so it’s worth a little time and effort to get it right.

Have any tax time horror stories? Let us know in the comments box below.

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Drowning in Cash: 5 Unusual Ways to Fund Your Business

Posted on 08. May, 2014 by .


Business funds

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, funding a new business venture is likely to involve a seemingly endless struggle with the green stuff.

For fledgling firms, cash is especially tight, with begging letters to bank managers, endless loan forms and countless snobbish letters rebuffing your pleas for funding.

But times have changed.

Gone are the days of relying on a cash injection from your local financial institution, with many modern start-ups looking at more unorthodox ways to fund their business goals.

Check out the top five below …

1. Use a Factoring Company

Countless rapidly expanding businesses are using factoring companies as a handy alternative to the traditional overdraft.

This route involves your firm selling the majority of invoices to a factoring firm at a discount. They’ll then provide you with a cash advance, usually at around 70-90 per cent of the value of the invoice.

2. Join the Crowdfunding Movement

Crowdfunding is one of the hottest ways of raising cash and it involves collecting finance from a large number of backers by using various digital platforms.

Crowdfunding has helped finance non-profit campaigns, political campaigns and charities, and can be very fruitful for businesses keen to involve unknowns in their capital raising efforts.

3. Obtain Government Backing

In Britain, it’s possible for businesses to benefit from the Funding for Lending scheme introduced by the Bank of England over two years ago.

The scheme allows building societies and banks to borrow from the Bank of England at lower rates, which means they can lend more freely to businesses just like yours.

4. Find an Angel

Not a real angel, of course, that would be a bit odd, but an angel investor equipped with the wealth and experience to help your firm grow from small acorn to mighty oak.

Estimates reckon business angels inject over £800m into new companies every year in the UK, with shares in that organisation the typical upshot of their financial backing.

5. Venture Capital

When you’re attempting to build a business up from the ground, suddenly handing an element of control to a venture capitalist may make you more than a little uncomfortable.

However, this arrangement can actually be very beneficial for new businesses, assuming the investor and firm they’re investing in is a match. Typically, above average returns tend to make the risk for investors worthwhile.

 Image by Howard Lake on Flickr

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