Category Archives: Business

How to Saving Money on Business Travel

Business travel is very different from traveling for pleasure. Traveling for work has its limitations with respect to duration and expense. Since economic viability is of importance when it comes to any business undertaking, one has no choice but to consider ways in which unnecessary outflow of cash can be harnessed without much ado. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your business travel easy, affordable, and smooth. We have mentioned these things in the form of simple, easy-to-understand tips. Once you’re equipped with these tips for saving money on business travel, you can effortlessly save hundreds to thousands every year. Shall we start noting them down?

Evaluate phone charges.

Thanks to the perpetually skyrocketing roaming call and data charges, one of the most exorbitant bills you pay after a business trip is your phone bill. An intelligent way to tackle this problem is to buy a local SIM card every time you visit a new place where you are likely to spend a substantial amount of time. By cutting down on roaming charges, you’ll save a LOT of money by paying for only local outgoing call charges. As far as internet data charges are concerned, the best advice I can give you is to use Wi-Fi. Mostly all airports and hotels now offer free Wi-Fi services, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Finish as much work as possible using the Wi-Fi connections at these places; it’ll drastically reduce your costs later on.

Carry enough reading material.

This may look like a weird, quite unconventional a tip that may not really be of any help, but before you jump the gun, hold your horses. Think about it, don’t we usually end up buying a magazine or a book at the airport in order to keep ourselves entertained throughout the journey? While working on the flight is a good option to finish pending work, sometimes you only want to unwind. Instead of spending a few dollars here on reading material at the airport, load a few articles, books, and even movies on your cell phone. This way, you won’t add to your luggage and your expenses.

Say yes to public transport.

By using the public transport in any city, you can further reduce your business travel expense exponentially. How does this work? Seek details of the area of your travel for the day from the hotel reception. Ask them to provide commutation details, such as modes, alternative routes, and approximate charges. This way, you can cut back on almost 80% of your commutation costs when compared to the amount you would have to shell out for a cab. If the hotel doesn’t have these details, use Google Maps. It’s one of the best apps for such kind of information. You might pay for Internet data charges, but they’ll still be lesser than the cab fare you would be required to pay.
Lookout for deals.

There are a million travel deals you can tap and cash in on if you keep an eye out for them. The best and most profitable of the lot is the frequent-flyer program (FFP). Almost every airline, old and new, offers this loyalty program. Under this, you become entitled to several discounts, privileges, and offers, especially if you fly quite often. The best places to find these deals are airline magazines. Always go through these magazines, usually kept in the seat pocket in front of you, and you’ll be surprised to find some of the best deals you’ve ever come across. Apart from this, you can also apply for a debit/credit card that has a tie-up with an airline.

Never fall prey to luggage fees.

The most unforgivable mistake you can make is to create situations to pay luggage fees. It’s not always possible to weigh your luggage at the last minute, but it’s always possible to save a lot of money in this area by being a smart packer. Business trips don’t need much luggage and there are a few tips you can follow to reduce your luggage just in case you’re combining meetings or planning on a long trip. You already know how you need to replace magazines and books with eMagazines and eBooks. In a similar way, cut down on multiple gadgets and instead carry one that functions as an all-in-one cell phone, music player, tablet, camera, and laptop. Apart from these, don’t carry too many clothes, food items, and/or stationery. Calculate the number of days you are going to spend at a place and pack the exact number of clothes in keeping with your itinerary. Fill the empty spaces inside your shoes with jewelry, socks, handkerchiefs to save on space. Keep things as minimal and compact as possible.

Go for rooms with kitchens, not minibars.

Though a business trip may not give you time to cook, it’s advised that you pick hotels that have rooms with kitchens. This way, you can cook your own meals even if you choose to make just an omelet. Minibars seem tempting; all you have to do is open the door and serve yourself. However, bills that come with the usage of minibars are usually far from attractive and highly inflated. Items available at a minibar are always charged at a higher price, sometimes as much as 30% more. A room with a kitchen will also enable you to save the money you would otherwise spend on eating out. By choosing this option, you can work, eat, and rest in just one place.

Club trips to save thousands.

Most of the time, an executive travels to a specific place to work with a specific set of clients. In such cases, it is always advised to combine trips. For example, if you’re meeting a client in Italy, you might as well make arrangements to meet another one in Spain right after your schedule in Italy. Imagine the amount of money you will be shelling out if you go to Italy, come back to your original country of work, and then fly out to Spain again! You can actually save yourself a lot of money by avoiding at least two extra to-and-fro trips by planning your travel smartly. This not only applies to places that are located in the same geographical area but also to places that are halfway around one potential business area. For example, if you have to travel from India to France, you might as well also plan meetings in New York and finish it off at one go. This way, you can save thousands. By planning multiple meetings in the same city, you save on both traveling and staying costs. The basic tip is to get maximum work done in one single trip in order to economically use financial resources in the best possible manner. Of course, it is not always possible to club your trips because the schedule of different clients may not always match. The point is to try to schedule trips in such a manner as frequently as practicable.

Befriend locals.

The best people to help you when visiting another city are not guides or agencies, but locals. They know the city the best and have no hidden motives; they don’t gain or lose anything by cheating you. They’re the best people to approach when you need help with directions, prices, or suggestions. Just by asking a local for something as simple as directions, you save on Internet charges by not using apps, on money you may end up spending while commuting via wrong or longer routes, and in the end, time – the most crucial element while on a business trip. They also come to your aid when you’re looking for inexpensive places to eat, relax, or work.

Understand taxes and use them to your benefit.
Taxes levied on income from any source are waived off to a specified extent when certain stipulated types of investments/expenditure made can be shown. Travel expenses are one of them. Though only a portion is eligible to be waived off, the sum still amounts to quite a lot. So, educating yourself about how these benefits can be reaped optimally can result in saving money in the long run. Similarly, a lot of things come with additional taxes while an individual is traveling. These include food at the airport (sometimes), items at the minibar, services like laundry in a hotel, etc. Though a person learns more about these from experience, it’s good to at least know the basics in theory.
Look out for opportunities to make multiple bookings together.

Always remember that there are certain advantages and incentives of booking more than one ticket, especially in flights. It is always better to book tickets together in order to avail group discounts. This way, your company poses as a potential customer to the airline – a reason why they’ll always offer you certain privileges that they won’t offer other passengers. A company is a more respected entity with a higher brand value and credibility score than an individual in the eyes of airlines, hotels, and other business houses. A company is always more trustworthy than an individual. Also, in many ways, having your company as a client works in the favor of these houses when it comes to building their own brand value.

Tps for Avoid Emotional Investing and Handle Finances

Taking emotional decisions for your financial investments can prove to be highly devastating. Emotional investments are often short-term choices, which affect the long-term benefits in an adverse way. If you observe the cycle of market emotions, you will find that an investor is ruled by the sentiments of optimism, thrill, euphoria, anxiety, denial, fear, desperation, panic, capitulation, despondency, hope, relief, etc. Owing to these emotions, an investor may take decisions, which may not benefit him in the long run.

Take a simple example: When you see on television that the market condition is not favorable for investment, you may panic and start thinking about selling at a low price. In another scenario, when you realize that the price of a stock is going to rise even further, you may get excited and buy at a very high price. However, think about the consequences if things do not go as predicted. Apart from losses, you may even suffer a financial setback.

You must be able to keep your emotions away from investing decisions in order to attain your financial investment goals. Hence, it is important that you take concrete steps, which will eliminate any kind of financial investments as an emotional response. Here are a few strategies that will help you in preventing emotional investing.
Have a Strategic Financial Plan

It is important that you have a strategic financial plan ready, which can act as a driving force for your investment decisions. It should include your financial goals and means to achieve them. It is possible that your emotions will go on a roller coaster ride when you will hear alarming words, like ‘recession’, ‘slack’, ‘collapse’, etc. Also, there may be times when things, like herding, market speculation, or media hype will prompt you to take sudden financial decisions. Do not get swayed by all this, and make investments or sell assets based on such temporary changes. These short-term emotions can cause long-term problems to your financial goals. Align your investments with your financial plan for reaping benefits of good returns. It is advisable that you review the plan and update its strategies every year.

Dollar-cost Averaging

It is an effective way to avoid emotional investments. Equal amounts of dollars are invested regularly for a previously decided interval. This helps to sustain during all types of marketing conditions. For example, instead of investing $2400 in stocks or funds at once, you may contribute $200 to the holding every month. This will generate an average price for the investment over a period of one year. It immensely helps the investors to manage risks.

Avoid Herding

Investors often fall prey to what we know as ‘herd mentality’. When the word spreads that a certain stock or industry is going to perform really well, groups of investors start taking interest in it. They are even ready to buy at a higher price because they think that prices will increase further. However, we have already witnessed the problems that herding has caused in the stocks related to technology, real estate, gold, etc. Hence, avoid falling into this trap. Understand why you want to purchase a stock and have valid reasons for it.

High-quality Investments

You must always buy high-quality investments, which will perform for you in the long run. You should not go for stocks, funds, or other investments, which will not be feasible, especially in the wake of an extreme market condition, like recession or slow down. Hence, do your research thoroughly before choosing your investments.

Consult an Investment Adviser

If you have a history of taking impulsive and emotional investment decisions, it is better that you take professional help. A financial adviser can help you to take rational and accurate decisions. He can also guide you about when and where to invest. He may study your long-term financial goals and arrange to structure your portfolio accordingly. Also, he will be able to exercise control on what kind of investments you make and when you sell them according to the market conditions. He can be a great asset to help you to maintain a diversified portfolio.

Equilibrize Your Portfolio

You must balance your portfolio regularly. This will help you to ensure that your investments are within your risk tolerance limit and you have a diversified asset allocation in your portfolio. It helps to strategically align your portfolio with your investment objectives. Many times, people do not sell their assets that perform well; however, this may not be financially beneficial in the long run. Bringing a balance forces you to take a practical and critical look at your portfolio without getting emotional about it.

Acknowledge Your Emotions and Isolate Them

Whenever you start getting bombarded by positive or negative emotions regarding an investment, acknowledge and isolate them. Avoid the urge to make decisions based on these emotions. Try to recollect your investment mistakes, which you may have committed in the past because of an emotional surge. Try to get to the bottom of the facts and gain knowledge whether a certain thing that you have heard about the investment is really true. If you are satisfied with the results, only then go ahead and make the financial decision.

Invest at the Right Time

Due to the emotions of fear and anxiety, many people like to pull out of the market when the conditions do not seem good. They abandon their investments when they hear bad news. This is okay if you have allocated assets to short-term investments or if the investments may eventually challenge the limits of your risk. However, if you wait for the right time, you will reap huge benefits on your long-term investments. In 2008, many people pulled out of the market fearing the inevitable. However, the market soon regained itself after sometime, and these people lost huge benefits. Don’t let this happen to you.

Diversify Your Investments

Warren Buffett has rightly said that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. You should reduce the risk by diversifying your investments. These investments should be distributed on the basis of intensity of risk, country, industry, etc. You may also invest in hedge funds, real estate, bonds, etc. This ensures that even if one investment does not work the way it should have, there will be others who will continue to do well.

Know and Manage Risks

It is not practically possible that an investment may be completely risk-free. You must understand about every aspect of the risk involved in your investment. You must take calculated risks in order to mitigate the probability of making losses. You can consult your adviser and tell him about the level of risk tolerance that you are comfortable with. Just because someone tells you that high risk is high gain, do not go on to invest your hard-earned money

Research the Alternatives Thoroughly
Many times, you think a stock is good because top-notch analysts on TV, print, and Internet are vouching for it. You may base your decision to buy or sell an investment based on these reports. However, it is essential that you conduct a research yourself before deciding about buying the stock. Look out for the trend that the stock in question is showing, and verify its financial documents. Do not make hasty short-term plans, which will affect your long-term financial goals.

As an investor, you should never invest more than you can afford based on ‘hot tips’ or market speculation. Also, no matter what, verify all the ‘hot tips’ before you get excited and execute. One more mistake that investors commit is that they concentrate on interest rates, inflation, market conditions, natural disasters, etc., for taking an emotionally driven financial decision.

Accounting Concepts and Principles

The main purpose of financial accounting is to provide necessary economic information required for decision-making in a business. Financial accounting follows certain rules and guidelines to prepare reports on the financial standing of an entity. These rules and guidelines are usually referred to as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). GAAP sets its accounting standards and guidelines for preparing financial reports for public, private, non-profitable organizations, and government-owned companies.

Readers of a financial report should be intimated if the information provided in the financial statements follow the GAAP guidelines. The accountant or auditor is responsible for ensuring this procedure.

Fundamental Concepts of Accounting

Business Entity
This principle treats the company as a separate entity from its owners. Personal accounts of owners/partners should be kept separate from profits and expenses of the company. So, the accounting reports are prepared from the viewpoint of business purposes and not from the owner’s outlook.

Cost
This principle states that the company has to consider the original cost of fixed assets like building and machinery, rather than market value. But today, most of the companies report only the market value.

Sincerity
According to this principle, the auditors should prepare the financial reports in order to project the real financial position of the company rather than fabricating facts.

Monetary Unit
This principle assumes that transactions should be recorded in a single currency and exchange rate. This will help the company compare its accounts to the previous years, in spite of a change in the rate of inflation. This principle actually supports the preparation of business reports in a uniform manner.

Prudence
The main objective of this principle is to show the real financial position of the company. The accountants should show the correct revenue accounts and provide a provision for expenses, which may occur in the future.

Matching
According to this principle, all the revenues and concerned expenses incurred should be shown in the same financial period. The main objective is to avoid any overstatements of income at any particular time.

Consistency
According to this principle, the accountants should use the same methods and functions for different periods of time. For example, the same rate of percentage should be applied for all depreciation. This principle is also known as the principle of regularity.

Accrual
This principle requires the company to record the revenue or income when it is actually earned.

Time Period
This principle specifies a particular interval of time for which the financial reports are prepared. It can be either year, fiscal year or short period like a quarter or a month.

Full Disclosure/Materiality
This principle states that the full disclosure of information and events should be ensured. The financial reports should not mislead the investors and should provide clear details of the financial position of the business.

Continuity or Going Concern
This principle presumes that the functioning of the company will be smooth and the business entity will continue to operate for a fairly long period. This principle mainly helps in preparing financial statements of the company as well as ensures that investors will get revenue on their investments.

Realization
This concept indicates the actual amount of revenue or cash inflows earned and realized from a business transaction. It means that realization occurs at the time of receiving the cash in the exchange of goods and services, and not at the time when the contract is granted.

Dual Aspect
According to this principle, all financial transitions have two effects. This concept, which is the cornerstone of accounting principles, assumes that making a record of transactions in the books of accounts has a dual outcome. For instance, getting goods for some amount of money has two effects: (1) paying cash and (2) receiving goods. A record of both should be made into the books of accounts. The dual aspect concept is expressed by the following equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Equity

Assets are owned by a business, and liabilities are the debts of a business, that the company owes to its creditors. Equity is what the company owes to its owners. So all transactions must comply to the above equation.

Tax Levy and Garnishment

Often, you are faced with a situation wherein your assets are forcibly seized on account of you not paying the taxes (or some other similar reason). Creditors can impose a tax levy if you owe them money and have not paid it even after the stipulated time has expired. On the other hand, a wage garnishment is something like a wage deduction. The two terms are often confused with each other since they are believed to perform the same function, but it is not so. The tax levy vs. garnishment comparison in the paragraphs to follow will give you an idea of the difference between the two.

Tax Levy

According to the Federal Law of the United States, when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes an authorized action to seize a property under debt, without going to court, the action is termed ‘tax levy’.
This is done in order to satisfy the liabilities of tax.
This can be levied upon insurance proceeds, account receivables, property payments, social security payments, wages, etc.
The IRS also has the powers to levy upon the assets possessed by a third party.
Even though this procedure does not include directly going to court, it includes a hearing, and if the taxpayer is unhappy with the decision, he can take the matter to the United States Tax Court.

Garnishment

A garnishment is a legal order which says that the property of a third party can be seized in order to satisfy the debt of a person.
The term is mostly called ‘wage garnishment’, because generally, the wages of an employee are deducted by court orders for debt pay off.
This is done mostly as apart of the payroll process. And it continues until the debt is completely paid off.
The common types of debt include student loans, taxes, child support, etc.

Factors of Differentiation

Tax LevyGarnishment           Financial operations

You cannot perform any financial operations once a levy has been imposed on you. Your account is frozen and you no longer have access to it. Even if you deposit a check, it will be frozen. This will continue until the creditor is paid with the entire debt.

You can carry on financial operations, certainly, though a percentage of your income will be paid to the creditor. You will never see this money, because the creditor has garnished your wages. This amount is withdrawn before it is deposited or before you receive it.

Finance Targets

Your financial accounts are targeted.

Your wages/salary is targeted.

Sources

It is commonly used by the IRS and other Federal agencies, and sometimes, private creditors.

It is mostly used by private creditors.

Court Orders

The IRS or the Department of Education do not require a court order to impose a levy. In other words, a court order may not always be mandatory here.

A court order is required to garnish your wages. Even if the IRS need not have a legal notice, private creditors most certainly require a legal order to impose garnishment proceedings on you.

Timeline

It is a one-time event.

It takes a considerably longer time.

Things to Remember

Whether you have a levy imposed on you or a garnishment, talk to a tax professional or an attorney to evaluate alternative solutions.
Garnishment is also a kind of tax levy, for it is a legal way for th IRS to collect your tax liabilities.
Before enforcing either of the above, you will be sent the required notices and given a 30-day notice period.
Even though the necessity of a court order has been stated as a differentiation point between the two, the truth is that, both cannot be done without legal notices, except may be, in case of child support.
Wage garnishment is a nasty collection strategy, however, there are certain settlements using which you can negotiate and compromise.

There are plenty of formalities and other legal conditions involved with both the above terms. An easy way to escape from a tax levy would be to pay back your creditors on time. You can also create a payment plan for debt replacement, if you anticipate such problems in future. For resolving these issues easily, catch hold of a good attorney who will guide you through the complicated legal cornucopia and make the procedure simpler.

How to Start a Successful Karaoke Business

Try to buy an existing karaoke business or become a part of a franchise, instead of opting for a start-up. This will not only give you an established customer base but will also be far less riskier than a start-up.

If you can sing, are an extrovert, and can entertain others, you will surely make a good karaoke business owner. However, this business will prove to be a disaster for introverted and shy individuals as they will have to deal with many people every day. It is recommended that you work for a karaoke business before plunging in it yourself. This will give you hands-on experience, and you will be able to network and market your business in a better way. If you do not have the funds for investing in a rental or permanent space, karaoke business is ideal for you. You can conduct this business by hosting shows at bars, cafés, restaurants, private parties, etc. However, remember that you will need to source some investment capital for buying all the equipment and paying your employees, if any. It is advisable to buy a digital karaoke system as it will save you a lot of money, effort, and storage space. If you want to know about a few more essential tips to start a karaoke business, read further.

Equipment

You will require a good karaoke digital system for your business where the files will be played from a laptop and the words will be displayed on the screen. If you think that you do not have the amount to invest in one, you can get CD+G discs which can be connected to a CD+G player, television, monitor, or screen for playing music and displaying words. You can buy karaoke CDs or download music from online websites. You can also buy karaoke music books or make them on your own. However, you need to make copies of these books so that people will select their songs and write them on the slips provided by you. Whatever you do, ensure that you will be able to play your customer’s choice of song in absolutely no time. You will also need good quality speakers, mixers, cables, extension cords, microphone stands, RF converter, and amplifiers. You will also need three wireless microphones. It is advisable that you get one extra as backup. Getting a wireless microphone is recommended because people tend to step on the cables and spoil them. It’s essential that you also carry spare cables, duct tapes, and a tool kit for a quick fix.

Conduct Research

Before jumping in this business, there are certain things which you should know. For example, you will need to know how many competitors you have, how much to charge your clients, which songs to play, dealing with difficult clients, etc. It is advisable that you speak to someone from the same business who operates from a different area. You need to keep abreast with the latest chartbuster songs as well as the classic ‘must-haves’ of a karaoke. Ensure that you have music which caters to all genres as people will like to sing different songs. You will need to have a business plan in place to organize the overheads and income of this venture. Ensure that you find a business mentor who will be able to guide you to go about setting this business.

Business Expansion

If you do not want to own a karaoke bar of your own, you can always request hotels, cafés, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, etc., to allow you to host a karaoke night every week. You can also ask them to host open Mic sessions that will rake in business for both the parties. Other than this, you should also network with wedding and event planners who can recommend you for karaoke nights. This is one business that will prosper through word-of-mouth publicity. Host theme nights which will play a particular type of music; this will give you a lot of customers. Ensure that you have many satisfied customers who will recommend your business to their family and friends. Slowly, your schedule will be packed with offers for karaoke gigs.

Charges

Before you start this business, know about the prevalent rates for karaoke gigs in your area. If you are a new player, you may have to charge lesser to survive the competition. Many bar owners may not pay you well even if your show is a crowd-puller. Hence, decide and mention your payment terms in the contract itself. Also, ensure that it is mentioned in the contract about show cancellation or refund policies. Also, predetermine the amount of payment, time of the show, etc., during a private party. If you are to play a special dedication to a bride or a song while a person is proposing to his girlfriend, you can definitely go ahead and charge more fees. Ensure you include your travel and logistics charges in your final figure.

Wrapping Up

Always ensure that you are personally present for the wrapping up of equipment. Don’t put this duty on your employees as they may not check if everything is in place, before leaving for home late in the night. It is best to make a checklist of all the smallest to largest equipment and load them properly in their boxes before carrying it to your vehicle. Making a checklist will tell you immediately if a certain equipment is missing.

Hosting the Karaoke Night

If you have to travel to some other venue, like a bar, café, bachelor or hen parties, birthday parties, etc., make sure you interact with the audience keeping in mind what they anticipate from this show. Wear clean and striking clothes; however, remember that you are only there to host the show. So, do not keep speaking, and encourage the other people to take over the Mic. Avoid passing negative comments about the singers as not all of them will sing with the finesse of the professionals. Have a professional attitude, and ensure that people are enjoying their karaoke time. If there is a ‘once more’ for a song, go ahead and play it again. If they request you for having a recording of their song, burn the CD of their performance and hand it to them. You can charge separately for this. If there is a time limitation for the show, ensure that you stop on time.

Promote Your Business

It is important that you take promotion of your business very seriously. Apart from meeting people who can get you more business, you must have a website or blog giving details about your business. This will allow customers to get in touch with you. Don’t forget to add pictures of the karaoke gigs you have hosted where people are enjoying themselves. You will have to get a written permission from your customers to display their images. You will also have to keep updating the latest schedule of your shows on your website so that people who want to visit can join you at the decided venue. Most of the younger crowd will get in touch with you through Internet, so ensure that you have posted ads on the Internet and websites that give information about the gigs, concerts, plays, etc. Get your website keyword optimized for reflecting in the top searches. Do not forget to connect with customers through social networking websites.

Slowly and steadily, you can recruit and train a good employee to become the host of your karaoke gigs, while you can look after the management of these gigs, collection of money, marketing, networking, and getting new business. Also, keep extra song books as people tend to steal some of them away. Make sure you have a professional approach all the time, and do not give a chance for people to complain. Remember that people may constantly force you to play their favorite songs and keep hogging the limelight. You will also have to learn to say ‘no’. Whatever you do, make sure that the people enjoy their karaoke time thoroughly, if you want to survive in this business.

Financial Problems in a Marriage and Solutions

It is said that marriage is the best thing that can happen to two people in love. It is true, provided the spouses understand each other and are aware of the responsibilities that come with marriage. However, married life can suffer a setback, if there are financial issues in a relationship and the partners do not work it out properly to solve these problems. In studies conducted by experts, financial issues have been included as one of the top reasons for a divorce. So, it is always better to be aware of financial problems, if any, and find effective ways to deal with them.

Monetary Issues and Their Solutions

Handling Finance

This is one of the basic issues that married couples face. They are not clear about whose salary should be used for household expenses and whose should go in for savings. Lack of planning leads to confusion, ultimately resulting in differences between a couple.

Solution: Couples should try different ways to handle their finances and check which one works the best for them. According to surveys, around 64% of couples have joint accounts, 14% of them have separate accounts, and 18% of couples have both joint as well as separate accounts. There is no particular method to handle finances; it depends on a couple as to how much they want to spend and how much they want to save. So, sit down to decide among yourselves, and make the best call for your future.

Excessive Spending

Among the various money-related problems affecting a marriage, spending habit is a contentious issue. Many a time, one of the partners is inclined to shop and spend more than the total earnings with the help of loans and credit cards. Mounting bills and high interest rates can really make things difficult for the family.

In certain cases, among the two partners, the wife mostly has the habit of presenting her family with goodies every now and then. The expenditure made, might irritate the other partner and ultimately give rise to arguments.
Solution: Couples should fix a budget for the month and keep a check so that the expenditure does not exceed the limit. As far as possible, use of multiple cards should be avoided. When going through tough financial times, couples need to cut down on entertainment and leisure expenses. Wives and even husbands, if either is into the habit of buying unwanted gifts, should keep away from doing so. This is because, occasional exchange of gifts does not affect, as much as the usual ones do.

Mounting Debts

Sometimes while making hasty decisions, it might happen that married couples tend to apply for house loans or car loans without figuring out their repayment capacity. Apart from that, some are even in a habit of using credit cards in excess. This negligence in handling money leads to rising debts which becomes difficult to repay in future.

Solution: Taking loans only as per one’s need and repayment capacity, is the first solution to avoid the problem of mounting debts. One should have realistic aspirations and dreams, and think twice before applying for loans and pledging assets with the lenders. And, if both the spouses are working, they should contribute equally to pay off the EMIs.

Improper Investments

In order to lead a settled life, couples have to think about their future and secure it. Investment done inappropriately is one of the prime factors to be looked into, especially when you have a family to take care of. For this, couples have to make precise investments and while doing so, they have to be careful as it might be a risky affair.
Solution: Couples should figure out the investment goal and time frame, and make sure to review their investments at least once a year.

Unnecessary Expenses

Love is blind and people in love know no boundaries when it comes to spending for each other. They tend to buy expensive stuff in order to please their respective partners. This act of unwanted splurging causes problems later on, and couples start blaming each other for mismanagement of money.
Solution: In order to avoid financial hassles, couples should refrain themselves from buying expensive gifts and going for lavish holidays. As is rightly said “cut your coat according to your cloth” couples should spend according to their capacity.

Crisis
An unstable monetary situation arises due to the lack of savings for your future use. An accident, a major illness or an unexpected pink slip, or any other emergency – all situations which require you to dole out a large sum of money – can land you in peril.

Solution: Problems are unavoidable and can never be predicted. So, instead of waiting for the problem to arise, couples should keep themselves prepared for the bad times. They should make sure that they have an emergency savings account. They should plan their monthly savings together along with a target amount to be saved every month, so that they have enough in hand when a sudden need arises.

Ego Clashes

This is the age where women have caught up with men in every field and are the breadwinners. These days, in many households, we can find women earning more than men which hurts the male ego to a great extent, and if a man is jobless then the situation gets even worse. In such cases, it becomes really difficult to save the relation, as both the partners have their self-pride and none of them is ready to bow down.
Solution: Marriage is a union of two souls and bodies, so couples should treat each other as one. To avoid ego clashes, men should see situations in a broader perspective, and instead of getting offended by their respective wives’ earnings, they should encourage them to work. After all, whoever earns, eventually the income will be utilized for the family.

Keeping Financial Secrets
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest financial problems in a marriage. Many spouses are seen hiding their financial documents, bank account statements and information about their assets, which can be frustrating for the other spouse.

Solution: It is always better to speak the truth, and show all your financial details to your partner. By doing so, your better half would be able to suggest ways of dealing with finances, if need be.

Some Tips for Managing Family Finances

  • A family begins with ‘We’ and not ‘I’. So, while dealing with money matters, always remember that you should think for the well-being of your family.
  • If your problems are too big, take suggestions from a financial planner.
  • When you commit to managing finances, fulfill it at any cost, because the other person relies on you.
  • Think before you spend, because money should be used wisely.
  • Try to avoid interference from relatives in your family finances (if any).
  • Don’t be jealous of a higher-earning spouse. Instead, motivate your partner to do well in his/her career and earn even more.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment, so never ignore the petty issues. Financial issues can be resolved easily, so do not waste time crabbing about it. Your family’s betterment and future depends on the same.

Tips Personal Finance Budgeting

Your money is the lifeline of your home. The standard of living that you have is because you can afford it. Your money basically, is the heartbeat of your lifestyle. To continue living the same lifestyle and to reach higher standards, personal finance budgeting is very essential. Spending is inevitable, if you have money. However, money, or your resource is always limited and your needs are unlimited. Reconciling the two by prioritizing your demands will help in managing your personal finance budget. This practice of budgeting will help you save your money on inconsequential items and teach you the importance of prioritizing.

Need for Financial Budgeting
The need for budgeting arises because of the fact that you are responsible towards yourself. Responsibility towards oneself means, a constant struggle for the better. Thus, the need for personal financial planning is to fulfill the self-actualization need for improvement.

Monthly Financial Budgeting
Make a chart of income and expenditure, which you make all through the month. Based on this you will be able to make successive budgets. Here’s a chart that you can follow.
Net Income
Electricity
Water
Natural Gas and Oil
Fuel
Telephone
Groceries
Child Support
Health and Fitness
Other Loans
Entertainment
Rent/Mortgage
Insurance
Home Repairs
Home Improvements
Electricity
Expenses At Home
Balancing Figure (Difference of income and expenditure)

Once you fill in the details for this chart, you will get a complete picture of what you are earning and how much of it you are spending. Based on this chart, you can make the estimated budget and the actual details will follow as the month progresses.

Yearly Budgets
Now that you have the monthly assessment, of income and expenditure, multiply it by 12 and you will get the yearly account. Yearly budgets will give you targets of the income you need to earn to sustain the lifestyle of your choice. Getting into the habit of following the chart will give every detail of every penny spent.

What Personal Financial Budgeting Does?
Finance and budgeting go hand in hand. You may get ample of finances, but if you don’t have a budget, they will all go haywire. Budgeting will get you into the habit of saving your money for the rainy day. Living from paycheck-to-paycheck will consequently change to living with wise decisions. Budgeting will employ your each dollar for better returns. Most importantly, it will give you a breathing room in case you decide to take some time out from work.

Double Benefits
Summer is here and you want to take a vacation to an exotic destination. Of course, it isn’t possible with meager travel budget to vacation anywhere else other than your couch! Saving an amount will help you create a fund for both the rainy day and the happy days.

The habit of making personal finances budget, should be started early in life. Beginning to plan while you are at college will make you an expert at managing your own finances by the time you begin to earn your money. Financial planning will alleviate problems during the big days of your life, such as marriage. It will give you an edge over the others in planning the wedding budgets for the ceremony, the way you always wanted.

Tips to Start your Own Music Teaching Business

If you can play a musical instrument such as the guitar, piano, or any other, or if you sing well, you may consider starting your very own music-teaching business. It is a lucrative business option and can be done from the comfort of your home. You can take classes at home and also train students over the Internet, thus reaching a large number of students. This business requires less initial investment and can prove to be a profitable venture. There are some music teachers I know, who are earning pretty well through a music-teaching business. Knowing how to start this business can help you begin on the ‘right note’.

Conduct Background Research
Conducting a background research is of utmost importance before starting any business. In case of a business in teaching music, do some online research to understand the number of music teachers in your area, what they teach, how much they charge, and the response they get. The answers to these questions will help you gauge the viability of your business idea and tell you whether investing in this business would be profitable. If there are quite a few music classes in your locality, consider starting your business in some other area. Choose the location wisely.

Find a Mentor
Try to speak to a person who has worked in the field or someone who owns a similar venture. Talking to him will help you understand the nitty-gritty of the business. However, if he is from the same city/locality as yours, he may not divulge too much information with the fear of competition. Look up on the Internet for someone who has achieved success with a music business. Consulting him will help you know about all the aspects of starting this business. Maintain good relations with him. Sharing a good rapport with a successful music business entrepreneur is sure to benefit you.

Have a Business Plan Ready
Before you start the business, you need to have fool-proof plan ready. Start by deciding a name for your music class or academy. It should be striking and inviting. Other things to be planned include, whether to conduct one-on-one lessons or take group lessons, how much to charge as fees, and which musical instruments (or any other equipment) to use. It is also important to decide the target audience and devise ways to reach them. Pertaining to the financial aspect of your business, ways to raise funds for the initial investment, salaries of the people you may need to hire, expenditure on the infrastructure and equipment, and the record-keeping system to use, are among the important things to consider. It is important to think about ways to expand your business, and also have an exit strategy ready, in case your business is not a success.

Source Instruments and Course Material
Decide the number of students to be accommodated in a single batch. Accordingly, decide the number of instruments (and accessories, if any) that need to be sourced. After a few months of training (once the basics are taught), the students can be asked to get their own instruments. Prepare the course material and source books and song sheets accordingly. Make lesson plans for beginner level as well as expert level students. Arrange for the course material to be printed and given to every student who enrolls to your class. You can also make instructional DVDs for the same. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

Complete the Formalities
You will have to get the license to teach and buy insurance for your business. Look into the zoning and land use rules of your community. Also, don’t forget to get a business liability insurance. You can browse through the government’s Small Business Administration website to understand the formalities that need to be taken care of. You may have to register your business name as ‘Doing Business As’. Complete the necessary paperwork as per your state’s requirements. You will also need to register your business with the IRS. Take professional advice for accounting and taxation.

Find a Good Location
You can either rent a facility or use a part of your house. Renting a facility will be costly. It is good to start small. To start with, use a spare room in your apartment or the basement. See that it has a separate entrance so that movement is easy, and ensure that this arrangement does not disturb other residents of the apartment. If time and distance are not your constraints, going to each student’s place to teach him, is also a good option.

Use the Media for Promotion
It is important that you promote your business strategically. Use attractive visiting cards, brochures, and fliers, and circulate them in music stores and cafes. Advertise through local community newspapers and specialty magazines. For any business to succeed today, a strong social media presence is important. Make Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles for your business. Keep updating them with interesting photos and information. Try to have a Fan page on Facebook. People tend to visit these pages to see how many people Like them before deciding whether to join the classes. You will benefit immensely if you start a YouTube channel and display your musical talent in weekly video updates. Create a separate email account and website for your business. Advertise your business effectively.

Watch Your Conduct
Leave your flip-flops and that rugged t-shirt at home when you go for networking or invite students for a musical demonstration. Dress smartly and neatly to make a positive impression on the people you interact with. When communicating with them, be polite. Be approachable.

Do Good Networking
Visit local music shops and leave your visiting card, resume, and fliers/brochures there. Meet the managers personally and explain your business to them. Visit school teachers and ask them if they can give your reference to students who want private lessons. Firstly, this will help you get students. In addition to that, it might get you work as a sub-contractor for a marching or jazz band. Contact local band directors. Even they may help you get students. If you have a college degree, or if you have received formal education in music, you may get hired on an adjunct position in a community college or university. Word-of-mouth promotions work wonders for a music-teaching business.

Make the Classes Interesting
Fun activities, educational games, and contests make learning a fun experience. Feature the best students on your website and/or social media pages. Once in a month or two, host a musical night so that your students get a chance to perform. Such events help promote the business. Even the students and their parents feel motivated to continue with you. Introduce discount schemes, lucrative offers, and/or allow the students to pay in installments. Schemes like these help attract more business.

Tips to prepare your business for bad weather

My hometown recently experienced an intense late summer heatwave. With temperatures hovering at a record-breaking 111 degrees one afternoon, I realized that I was the lone person outside at the normally busy community college campus where I teach.

The people I did see outside as I drove home looked understandably weary and stressed by the heat. As I stopped to pick up a few things to prepare a light no-cook supper for my family, I noticed the trashcans outside the store were overflowing with cold drink cups.

Inside the sparsely populated store, I saw some people grabbing watermelon and ice cream. A few others were at a freezer pulling out bags of ice.

There is no doubt that extreme weather affects business. On that day, stores selling cold drinks and ice were bustling, while most retail stores, restaurants and other businesses were slow.

Retail businesses usually see a significant drop in traffic during heatwaves and cold snaps or during stormy weather in any season. Even if your business does not count on in-person traffic, your employees may not be able to get to work or stay as engaged in their work during bad weather. In addition, your supply chain can be significantly interrupted by extreme weather conditions that cause icy roads or delayed air traffic.

Since even the best weather forecaster cannot fully predict how weather swings will affect a business during an extreme weather event, there are some steps you can take to keep your business afloat during bad weather.

Create a weather communication plan. Be clear about setting expectations and communication guidelines for your employees during bad weather. If you have to close your business due to a weather emergency, you don’t want some of your staff attempting to make it into work.  Notify them via group text or through your website of any closings or delays in operation.

For the same reason, have clear communication with your vendors and suppliers about what happens during unexpected weather-related events. While the weather may be a surprise, the way you handle the situation does not have to be.

Keep up with short-term weather forecasts. As a business owner, you are accustomed to keeping up with economic forecasts and with business news. You need to add weather news to that list.

Here’s an example. Knowing that its customers buy more soup in cold, damp and windy weather the Campbell’s Soup Company pays close attention to the weather.  It even links its advertising to the weather forecasts in certain markets with an algorithm called the “Misery Index.” Therefore, if you hear a Campbell’s soup ad on the radio, chances are pretty good that the weather where you are is miserable.

Diversify your product line. I recall a new small business in my town that sold primarily smoothies and iced drinks. The Hawaiian-themed drive-through kiosk seemed to be doing a brisk business during the summer tourist season. As fall neared, however, I watched closely for menu items that would reflect the upcoming temperature changes.

Maybe soup? Hot drinks? However, nothing seemed to change and, not surprisingly, I saw a “For Sale” sign on the shuttered doors before the end of the year.

Seasonal changes are predictable, but you can also experience the occasional cold snap during the summer and warm spell during the winter. Have options for your customers, so that you can meet their needs on a year-round basis.

Have an emergency plan. In weather emergencies, the situation can worsen quickly. Although you hope you never need to implement it, it is important to have an emergency preparedness plan in place.

The first step is to think about what weather-related problems could affect your business and what you can do to prepare for them. The type of emergency will determine the steps you should take to keep your staff, your customers, your inventory and your equipment safe.

Here are some details to include in your emergency plan:

  • a detailed evacuation procedure
  • storage of important company documents in an easily accessible and secure location away from your business location
  • a list of contact information for people to notify, including supervisors, board members colleagues, clients family members and insurance company.
  • the location and directions to the closest emergency shelter. Contact your local fire or police department if you do not know.

Finally, it is important to remember that bad weather does not always affect us in predictable ways.  Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino and her research team asked 200 adults to predict the impact of weather on work productivity. More than 80 percent of the respondents predicted that good weather would increase productivity and that bad weather would decrease productivity.

However, that supposition may not hold up in the real work world. As part of its research, for instance, the Harvard team examined findings from a Tokyo bank that showed its workers were more productive during stormy weather than on clear, sunny days.The Harvard team’s follow-up studies confirmed the trend.

Tips to Keep Track of Your Money

Before we take a look at few ways to keep track of your money, here is a simple test. Ask yourself these questions, and answer with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
Do I owe anyone money?
Do I borrow money too often?
Am I usually late to pay my bills?
Have I put off doing something that I actually need to get done but can’t because I can’t afford it?
Do I run out of money before my next paycheck arrives?

If you answered most of the above questions with a ‘Yes’, there is no other way to break it to you but to say – you need help, friend! It is not everybody’s cup of tea to manage their personal finances. However, the good news is, you can learn to do it pretty soon and quite effectively too. The following tips on how to keep track of your money are going to help you save money. It is never a good idea to live paycheck to paycheck; so if you don’t want to do that, follow the tips given below and start keeping a tab on your money!

Ways to Keep Track of Your Money

Wallet

Know the exact contents of your wallet. That does not mean you should keep track of every single penny that you put in or remove from your wallet. But it always helps to know how much money you have in your wallet. It even saves you from embarrassment – what if you were to have coffee with a nice girl in a nice cafe and you discovered you had no money left in your wallet? I wouldn’t want to be the girl with you! (Just kidding… I hope that never happens to you.)

Tip: Check in the morning before you leave the house how much money you have in your wallet. Even if you find some of it missing, you have only a day’s expenses to cross-check and trace back your missing money.

Credit

This is how credit cards work (in the simplest, crudest terms) – they (credit union) give you money to use for free. They give you a time limit within which you have to return the money. But if you fail to return it in that time, they charge you an interest such that you eventually end up returning a lot more than you borrowed! Now the problem is, somewhere we have this psychological block in our heads – credit card is somebody else’s money, so even if I overspend, ‘my’ money is still intact. So we tend to overspend. But that is so wrong, for we all know that ultimately we have to pay the credit card bill from our own money. Plus credit card bills are always unbelievable. We take one look at the bill, and we are like ‘Damn! When did I spend that much money?’

Tip: Switch to using an ATM card or a debit card. That way, you would think twice before spending, as it would be ‘your’ money. Also all your transactions will show in your monthly bank account statement. It makes keeping a track easier.

Expenses

It is best to keep track of your expenses to know exactly how much money you spend and on what. Many a time it so happens that we do not remember how much money we spent. We buy a box of liquor chocolates and forget we bought it. We pick up a bottle of wine on our way to someone’s house and forget we did. And then we rack our brains trying to remember where it is that the money was spent! So keep a track of your expenses. You can keep a record in a small pocket diary. If you want to be all pro, you can do the same on an iPad!

Tip: Do this daily (at the end of the day, before you hit the sack) and you won’t even have to keep a diary! It is not important to actually ‘write’ down all your expenses; even a mental check can suffice, as long as you are absolutely sure.

Budget

Set yourself a budget and do not spend outside the budget. If you do, make sure to keep a track of what you spent the extra money on. Did you indulge in a shopping spree? Did you lend anyone money? Were you hit by some unexpected expenses? Medicine? Dinner? Trip to somewhere? Keeping track of your money when you are out on a small trip, holiday or vacation becomes almost impossible. Everybody is in the mood to spend. It is essential you set yourself a budget to keep track in such cases.

Tip: Keep a comfortable margin. Too low a budget can make it seem like you are overspending all the time, when actually you are not. It can bog you down! Take into account all your monthly expenses before setting a budget.

Account

Monitor your bank account vigilantly. It is the world of e-banking, so make sure you subscribe for an electronic monthly statement of your bank account, and make sure you actually go through the statement when it arrives and check for any transactions that seem fishy or unaccountable. I do hope this never happens to you, but a possibility of theft cannot be overruled. Credit card scams are not something unheard of. A lot of people have a lot of reasons (though wrong ones) to tamper with people’s bank accounts. It is better to be careful than sorry!

Tip: Train yourself to read through the bank statement carefully. Do not simply throw it in the trash can. It hardly takes a few minutes. Also report any unusual transactions immediately, without further ado.
So those were some personal finance tips that will help you keep track of your money. Train yourself to deal with money responsibly. You can inculcate responsibility in your children right from their tender years, so that they learn to use money carefully from an early age. Everything in life is not about money, yes. But many important things are – food, clothing, shelter, medical help, for starters. So it is always a good idea to save and invest. Hope the above tricks and tips help you out.