Browsed by
Author: Katie

Kate is a finance blogger and currently works for one of the big high street banks. In her spare time she likes to educate people on finance and business matters. Married with 3 children she enjoys travel and family time when not in the office.
Everything is For Sale, Including Debt

Everything is For Sale, Including Debt

As the saying goes, “Everything is for sale, you just have to come up with the right amount to make the purchase” and if you think about it you’ll realise that this is actually true. I’m not just talking about those scenarios where sentiment and desire seem to defy economic logic and trump real market value here. I’m talking about sales which go on without the majority of us even knowing about them. Debt is a very big seller in the world right now, yet it all happens within the darker corners of what’s otherwise plain view as most people choose to turn a blind eye to it going on.

Debt is being sold all day, every day and its trade never stops for single second. For as long as the world is turning, debt is being bought and sold somewhere around the world if not everywhere, you just don’t know it’s going on.

The basic forms of debt are rather straight-forward in their makeup and can take the shape of something like getting financed by the bank to buy your car, for which you’d make weekly or monthly repayments with added interest of course, so something like your mortgage or bond you have on your house which will take a much longer period of up to 20-30 years to pay off.

More sophisticated forms of trading debt are where the real money is made due to one of the most powerful tools of the financial sector; leverage. If a company offering financial services has been given the green light by the Financial Conduct Authority to operate within many different sub-sectors of the financial sector, they in effect hold the true power of leverage and gearing in their hands to generate insane amount of money, mostly through the business of trading debt.

Why do you think an insurance company is seemingly never satisfied with just doing insurance? They’d much rather offer financial services which span the entire insurance sector and given half the chance they’d expand into other financial services such as housing a resident banking branch or even brokerage for services such as offering the public a CFDs and stocks trading platform. In the case of offering a trading platform, licensed brokers are themselves traders and make use of leverage to make huge profits while charging traders a service fee for each trade or perhaps levying a spread fee instead of a fixed per-trade fee.

What’s ultimately at play here is debt because financial services companies can list the credit they hold on their books as assets, assets which can then be repackaged and sold or used as collateral to fund expansion operations or further investments.

Nothing sells like debt and when you earn interest on the money you have in a savings account (although it must be said that this is very little interest you earn) you are indirectly participating in the trading of debt. The money which you keep in the bank is being loaned out to other clients and some of the interest they pay on that loan is filtered down to you, but you’re really just getting scraps because banks have the authority to use leverage to loan out more money than what they physically have in reserve.

Whenever some investors or businesspeople who’ve been active in other spheres of business finally head on over to the financial sector, they often wonder just why they didn’t make the transition earlier. Because of the way in which our financial sector is set up and operates, often making insane amounts of profits is as easy as getting the right finance leads, which are known to be of high quality since financial services have become a very important if not critical part of our everyday lives.

So, the message for you today is that you should perhaps take the time to think about what exactly you’re spending your money on. You can either buy or sell debt and if you do it cleverly, you can enjoy some big financial rewards.

What you Need to Build a Successful Logistics Business

What you Need to Build a Successful Logistics Business

The world of logistics can open several business avenues, from the international transport of goods, to local deliveries and more, this can turn out to be quite a lucrative sector. Like with any business venture though, this needs to be done right from the start to ensure success.

With this in mind, here is what you need to have to start up your own logistics business:

A Plan

Before you start investing any of your money, you need to first create your business plan which outlines several key aspects. These might include:

  • What area of logistics you intend to work in?
  • Where you want to operate and what goods you wish to move
  • The size and scale of your business and your objectives for the coming years
  • What your business’ core values and beliefs are

If you need assistance creating this, you can find some useful templates on this UK Government page.

Additional Funding

Logistics can be quite an expensive industry – especially if you’re planning on working abroad. This means you should have plenty of capital behind your business to begin with, if you don’t you should look at acquiring a business loan, or seeking additional funding.

The Right Licences

Depending on what goods you intend to move, you might need to have certain licences. There are also import and export regulations to be aware of when shipping overseas, so you need to research these first before you agree to start transporting.

The Right Image

Your company brand is another big factor to consider as this will be something plastered all over your vehicles, company premises and even packaging. This needs to be eye-catching and something that makes an impression on customers, TNT Direct branding is a good example of this, with bold colours that really stand out.

Storage Facilities

On the subject of company premises, you will need to have a storage area that meets your requirements and which gives you space to grow and develop. The best bet here will be to lease something in the short-term and purchase a bigger space when your business is doing well.

Reliable Vehicles and Equipment

Finally, you also need all the vehicles and equipment for moving goods. Again, this is an area where you should look to cut costs initially and source second hand alternatives, then when you’re little more successful, purchase newer, more efficient models.

The logistics markets can be a competitive place, but with the above sorted and a little hard work you’ll be on the road to success with your logistics.

What is the Cost of Selling my House?

What is the Cost of Selling my House?

If you are thinking about selling your house to raise money to offset your debts, it is important to keep in mind the cost of selling. In addition, you also need to explore several smart ways to save money on the major financial expenses. Otherwise, you will be surprised at how much you selling your home will be an expensive business.

With the many agencies and factors involved in the process of selling a house, it is more than just naming price and finding a buyer who is ready to buy. Even then, when you take time to research and prepare adequately, you will know the costs that are involved and how to cut down the amount. Here are the main expenses related to selling your house and ways of reducing them:

  • Estate agency fees – This is a major cost when selling your house. Estate agency fees varies depending on the kind of agent that you are working with. A high street agent for example will charge you a commission of up to 3 percent of the selling price.

If for instance, your house is selling for £219,000 and your estate agent is charging you a 2 per cent fees, you might end up giving then about £4,380. Consequently, if your house is worth much more the agency fee will definitely rise.

However, you can save on this fee by opting for a fixed agency fees that you agree upon upfront before instructing them. This way, you are guaranteed of a good return from the sale. Alternatively, you could opt to use an online estate agent that will potentially save you money. It is also the simplest way of reducing the cost of moving.

  • Removal costs – Although you may be keen on negotiating the estate agency fees, you also need to keep in mind the removal costs when calculating your budgets. In addition, depending on your furniture and the distance to your new home, the price could rise from a few hundreds to several thousands of pounds.

You need to take into account whether you want the packing services or not because this is likely to bump up the price.  Thus, you will do well to reduce these costs by shopping around. You can also use comparison sites to see how much it will cost you. If you are not moving a lot of stuff and you are willing to do some legwork, then you will certainly pay less.

  • Solicitor’s fees – While the buyer will foot the charges for the stamp duty, survey as well as searches, you need the services of a licensed conveyancer or a solicitor that will act on your behalf and handle all the legal issues associated with selling your property.

Although you cannot get around this, you should expect to pay between £500 and £1,500. However, this depends on how complicated the sale process will be. You could also reduce the solicitor’s fee by using a solicitor from outside the capital, compare quotes or using price comparison sites to ensure that you get the best deal possible.

Other unexpected costs

The cost of selling your house does not stop at the estate agency fees, removal costs and solicitors fees. Therefore, the law requires you to provide an energy performance certificate (EPG) and provide information about the energy efficiency of the property.

You will do well to use assessors who are accredited to do the required survey. While your estate agency can arrange for one, you are better off organizing it on your own.

If you have large appliances that you are willing to get rid of and you cannot take to the recycling centre on your own, you need to pay a small charge to your local council so that they collect and dispose them on your behalf.

 

POS Solutions for Small Businesses

POS Solutions for Small Businesses

image1

 

If you are a retailer or service provider, and you take over the counter payments, you will be aware that customers like to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Nobody likes to stand around for longer than is necessary, so getting things done fast is encourages consumers to use your services. For example, if you don’t have a modern, up to date Point of Sale system, you may be losing business. These surprisingly affordable and very capable machines allow you to process transactions quickly and efficiently, and they can help bring your business into the 21st century.

Furthermore, do you take card payments? Many small businesses don’t, largely on the mistaken grounds that it will cost a lot of money, but in fact it is costing you money not to take card payments! This is because people appreciate the convenience of paying by card – it’s quicker for both you and the consumer – especially in these days of swipe cards that don’t even need a PIN. Also, people tend to spend more when paying by card – nobody is sure why but it appears to be true – so you are missing out on potential further turnover.

Modern POS Systems

For the very latest POS systems for small business use check out the range on offer from Merchant Account Solutions, a leading name in the field with many satisfied clients and a reputation for excellent service. They can provide you with fully integrated up to date systems that will enable you to service your clients quickly and effectively, and at a sensible and affordable rate. Indeed, we believe their prices to be the best in the business, so you should take a look now for more information.

You should ensure that your new POS system includes a credit card machine, so you can begin to take card payments immediately. This will also be at an affordable rate, and they have many different models to choose from, and will be happy to advise you on the very best solution for your business requirements, at the best prices in the business. You cannot afford not come on stream, so have a look now and you’ll be impressed.

Online eCommerce Solutions

If you are dealing largely in eCommerce, you will need the latest solutions to enable you to operate efficiently, and at www.merchantaccountsolutions.com you can fine everything from POS solutions to a range of accounting and invoicing software, all specifically designed for use by smaller businesses. You will find they offer an integrated system that will vastly improve your cost-effectiveness, and allow you to ensure all your transactions are processed quickly and correctly.

The 21st century lays many demands on smaller businesses, and being on the ball when it comes to POS solutions is one way of staying ahead of the pack. Merchant Account Solutions are there to help you get the very best out of the latest technology, so have a chat with them now and see how they can bring your business into the modern world.

Turning Your Specialist Hobby or Craft into a Money-Spinner

Turning Your Specialist Hobby or Craft into a Money-Spinner

I won’t get into detail about which languages they were, but when I was younger and we were in one of the additional language classes, speaking about our hobbies had the teacher drilling it into us that a hobby is something you do purely for the love of it and in addition to doing it in your spare time, you actually go out of your way to make some time for it. What a hobby isn’t according to the teacher is something which you do for money or professionally in any way.

Well, I guess we’re going to blur those lines a little and discuss just how you can turn your specialist hobby or craft into an income generation stream. I mean we’re always taught to follow our passions and then working on those passions in anticipation of the money to follow naturally, but in reality it requires a bit of initiative to be taken on your part. You’ll perhaps be driven by your passion for whatever it is you have a special interest in, so it’ll never get old, which means that you can really carve out a nice, consistent stream of income out of your continued perusal of it.

Create a Blog or Website

It really doesn’t take all that much to get a professional website up these days, in the same way that it’s very cheap and easy to get a blog up. Get a website or blog of your own up covering what will undoubtedly be a lot of topics which form part of your hobby or special interest. Don’t think about monetising it yet because then you might run the risk of having the passion sucked out of the content you’re generating. Never succumb to the pressure of feeling like you have to cover a certain topic because that’s how passion slowly dies. Also, it’ll make for the reason why you end up making no money with your blog or website when the time comes for you to monetise it. So don’t be swayed by the latest news doing the rounds or anything of that sort.

Topics covered should be those which you’d perhaps naturally discuss with other fellow hobbyists interested in the same topic.

Sell Products and Services Related to Your Hobby or Special Interest

One of the ways through which to sell products and services related to your hobby or special interest is through your blog or website. This proves to be very effective as a way through which to sell because what you’ll essentially be doing is referring so-called “hot leads” to the online sales platforms you’ll be linking to. If you won’t be selling directly as the retailer then you can sell as an affiliate. Link to products and services that solve a specific problem, like linking to a book, instructional DVD or other form of media which discusses exactly how to solve a specific problem. For example maybe a how-to guide detailing how to use a specific piece of machinery for a specific activity.

Do No Credit Check Loans Exist?

Do No Credit Check Loans Exist?

image1

 

Have you noticed that it’s one of the ways that most advertising has? A bold statement to build up the product or service being sold that is at the same time both true and not quite true.

That’s probably the way it is with so-called no credit check instant payday loans. It’s more or less true that there’s no credit check on your ability to repay the loan, yet at the same time, there is strictly speaking no such thing as a no credit check loan.

So, what’s the real answer – do they, or do they not exist?

Credit checking

A credit check offers lenders a way of assessing whether applicants are likely to be able to afford the loan requested and if they are likely to make the agreed repayments without defaulting.

That’s done with reference to your credit history of the way you have managed your borrowing in the past, the extent to which you have made repayments on time or whether there are recorded difficulties – as evidenced by your having been declared bankrupt, have had country court judgments (CCJs) mas against you, have entered any Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) with creditors or have needed to make a Debt Management Plan.

These records of your credit history are kept by the main credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian and CallCredit.

Lenders not only choose to conduct credit checks (to safeguard their own interests) but are obliged to do so, in the interests of responsible lending to customers, under the terms of the authorisation and regulation to which lenders are subject by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Under these strict rules, therefore, there is no such thing as a no credit check loan.

No credit checking

On the contrary, insist many providers of instant payday loans. They make a decision about whether or not you qualify for such a loan based only on the information you provide in your application – a “snapshot”, if you like, of your current financial standing, but without any formal check with the credit reference agencies.

This is a process known as a “soft search” or “quotation search” which leaves no trace on your credit history file.

This is an important consideration since every application you make for credit is noted on your credit file. If the application is rejected, this too is noted and is likely to have a negative impact on your overall credit “score” and subsequent ability to secure credit or a loan.

By pre-checking your likely ability to be approved for a loan when you make a formal application, therefore, this represents what might properly be called a no credit check instant payday loan.

No credit check/credit check

In this way, both answers might be seen as correct. The soft search or quotation search done by the provider of a payday loan avoids the need for a formal credit check – it is a no credit check solution. When you finally make your application for the loan, however, any lender is obliged to conduct a credit check on the file held on you by the credit reference agencies.

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Same day delivery is quickly becoming the norm, with a greater number of companies offering delivery within a one-day window. In today’s technology-ruled instant-access world, customers and are no longer content with the discounts, good customer service or quality products. Instead your customers want to be able to purchase and receive an order within the same day, meaning building a relationship with a reliable and reputable delivery service is paramount.

That being said, what are the benefits of utilising same day delivery for your business?

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Happy customers and clients are at the core of every successful business, so any opportunity to increase customer satisfaction should be considered. This is particularly true when it comes to same day delivery, as these services make customers feel appreciated, who will in turn spread good word of mouth about your company. In addition, an express delivery service also promotes your business as being professional and reliable.

Reduce Delivery Costs

Typically, many businesses buy or hire their own vans to ship goods, along with recruiting delivery drivers and paying for vehicle repairs. While this can be cost effective if deliveries are local, costs can soon mount when travelling further afield. Instead, it can be beneficial to hire a third-party delivery comparison company (like Parcels Please), as they can often quote prices that your business would find impossible to match, particularly for same day services.

Boost Business Productivity

Unlike standard delivery options, offering a same day delivery service means that there is no leeway when it comes to completing customer orders. This means that staff can no longer put off fulfilling an order until tomorrow as they must be processed and sent out on the same day. This requirement tends to increase the productivity of employees, although companies could also consider using additional bonus and incentive schemes.

Creates Competitive Advantage

Whether competing in local, national or global markets, your business needs an edge to help it stand out and increase customer numbers. While your company could consider reducing prices or increasing the quality of products, offering same day delivery services can provide something of a unique selling point. Giving customers the option of expedited delivery not only increases customer satisfaction, but also creates a competitive advantage.

In conclusion, same day delivery services carry several benefits, including: increasing customer satisfaction, reducing business costs, boosting the productivity of employees and providing a competitive advantage.

The First Step to Clearing Your Bad Credit Record

The First Step to Clearing Your Bad Credit Record

Given the rate at which consumers are increasingly getting listed with their country’s version of the credit bureau, one would perhaps be justified in truly believing that the rating system in use favours the creditors and is perhaps a little bit biased against the debtors. The regulations for issuing credit appear to be rather lithesome, with creditors often proving to be the instigators of bending those regulations just so that they can add that next debtor to their books.

How many times have you gone through the parameters and minimum requirements of some sort of loan or credit extension you’re trying take advantage of, realised that you actually don’t quite qualify to get the credit you want and yet you take a chance anyway? Upon filing the application, you delight in the fact that against all odds, you got approved for your financing….

A lot of the time (if not all the time), creditors are fully aware of the fact that they are approving and going ahead with the provision of credit to debtors who aren’t good for the repayments and will essentially eventually default on their loans. It’s a practice mostly instituted by the bigger financial institutions such as banks, but the reason behind them doing this is because holding lots of debt on their balance sheets is big business, perhaps even bigger than the actual interest they earn on the loan repayments. Debt can be repackaged and sold on to other creditors or even to debt collectors, but that’s perhaps a topic for another day because of its technical intensity.

What you need to know is that if you haven’t been reckless with your spending as a consumer and you find yourself sitting with an increasingly bad credit record and a growing pool of debt, it probably isn’t your fault that you have so much debt to deal with and that you’re struggling to pay it back.

That’s where you should look as the first step to clearing your bad credit record and getting out of debt and this can be done through simply looking beyond the big lending institutions by way of credit providers. Why do bad credit car financers exist, for example? They exist because they operate in that little pocket of the industry banks resort to as part of their plans to re-structure the loan repayment terms they’ve essentially shoved down clients’ throats by operating at the very edge of the regulatory parameters. If a bank can give you much better interest and repayment rates on a loan you qualify for, there’ll still try to hit you for the most favourable rates they can benefit out of, so chances are you can always go back to your bank and re-negotiate your repayment terms as a means through which to be able to afford paying the debt back.

That won’t repair your credit record as quickly (if at all) as perhaps going to those specialists who do consider lending to consumers with bad credit records on a case-by-case basis though. These bad credit lenders, so to say, will only give you credit if they are confident you can pay them back after assessing your unique financial situation and working out a plan for you to further reduce the debt you currently have.

This shows up as a positive factor with the credit bureau or ratings agency and thus works towards repairing your credit rating.

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

The Chancellor has swung his axe, and many landlords within the UK are rethinking their decisions to invest in the buy-to-let business. Impacting the property market are several factors, including mortgage rates, tax, and stamp duty. When the Government decided to review them, panic set in amongst property investors.

To set the scene, investors usually get their money (mortgage) from a bank or some financial lenders to acquire a property. As was previously in place, the Government operated a mortgage interest relief system, which allowed landlords of residential properties to reduce the cost of financing their newly acquired property, but changes to tax relief for residential landlords will see that the cost for finance is restricted to the basic rate of income Tax. And on top of that, the newly introduced Stamp Duty Land Tax means that landlords will now, from 1 April, 2016, pay an additional 3% on any new property acquired.

However, many experts believe that property investment business is still good business in 2016. In fact, The Week reports, “The property portal Rightmove has revealed that enquiries on its website from would-be investors rose by 30 per cent between June and September. It says that the number of new properties being offered for rent rose six per cent nationally and 15 per cent in London during this period.”

With the panic in the sector ebbing gradually, investors could yet gain, but they must learn the tips to investing wisely. Here are five of them.

  1. Research is the Key

Conducting a full survey of lending rates, tax rates, and capital gains is the first step. You wouldn’t want to buy a property and then discover that your mortgage is due, when the property has not started yielding gains.  A survey is necessary since rates are not always stable. Since mortgage rate is crucial to the survival of property investment, you would do well to look at the rates of several lenders before making a final choice.

  1. Add Value to Your Property

By offering things that tenants are really looking for in a property, you could attract the best tenants who are willing to pay a premium for your property. There are plenty of guides about exactly how to improve your property online.

  1. Choose Your Target Location Wisely

Manchester-based property investor Robert Jones calls the kick to the property investment sector an opportunity. Rather than buying a property in a place where you want to live, you should consider buying one in a place where tenants are willing to move to. Ultimately, this means researching your prospective tenants’ demographics such as family size, income level, and age groups.

  1. Investing Professionally

Seeking financial and tax advice from professional property experts is invaluable before making your investment decisions.

  1. Simon Lambert from Thisismoney.co.uk advises that you go for rental yield. “To compare different property’s values use their yield: that is annual rent received as a percentage of the purchase price.” Say your property’s rent is £5,000 and the cost £145,000, your rental yield would be 3.5%. This method lets you know exactly how much you should gain over a long term basis.

Finally, before you invest in a property, ask anyone you know who has been there and done that. All of these tips will definitely save you from trouble when the grim days come again.

With Low Interest Rates, Does It Make Sense To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

With Low Interest Rates, Does It Make Sense To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early?

For the past six to seven years, mortgage rates have averaged less than 5%. Many argued there’s no better time to pay off your mortgage than now, especially in an economy that is unpredictable.

It is an appealing proposition as you’re able to shave off significant amounts on your balance if you pay earlier than scheduled. That would after all, seem the goal of lenders: to encourage borrowers to reduce their monthly payments with lower balance payments.

For example, using your mortgage calculator, if you’re on a £150,000 repayment mortgage at a consistent rate of 3.5% spread over 40 years, but choose to pay a reduced payment period of, say 25 years, it will cost you £225,300, instead of £279,000. That means you’ll save a hefty £170 on monthly payment!

Really, no one wants to be indebted longer than necessary and watch it accumulate with interests over the years. But even if you have some free money lying around or got some financial windfall, paying off your mortgage early isn’t always a smart decision. Besides, it could leave you financially drained or left with limited liquidity.

So, if you’re considering offsetting your mortgage balances early, here are reasons why you should review the plan.

Pay off Your More Expensive Debts First

Mortgages are called ‘good debt’ for a reason. They are properly spaced out for convenience and ease of payment, very much unlike credit cards, store cards or unsecured loans with significantly higher interest rates that cost you an arm and a leg.

You should focus on offsetting your more expensive debts that costs you a lot to pay over a long time.

Invest Any Free Money into Your Pension Scheme

Rather than pay off your mortgage from any extra saving or free cash you’re fortunate to get, why not put it in a scheme that rewards you better and helps you save more in the long run? For example, the pension scheme is tax-efficient because the government contributes to your savings while also offering you tax relief.

If you don’t have a pension plan and have some money to spare, you should think of opening one or let your company set up one for you and then invest the money there. Your employer is also obligated to contribute to your pension. This way, your pension savings will double and you could guarantee a more secured future.

Check to See if There are Better Options on Savings Rates

Investing your money into a pension scheme is great idea. However, take your time to review your existing pension plan to see if it’s the smarter option or if it’s better to explore other savings options. That is if the savings offers you a better deal than what you’re paying on your mortgage. This is the time to do your math and make comparison, after factoring in tax deductions on savings.