Money for Nothing

There was a time, not too many years ago, when relationship articles were the hot topic. They still are, but they’re not the hottest topic anymore. In its place is now money and security.

One of my publishers, whose opinions I greatly respect, was talking to me about the kinds of articles that most people are reading these days and we thought that with people so concerned about wanting to meet and marry their soul mate, that they were the articles most people gravitate toward. We were wrong.

I was looking over the stats of the articles that I’ve written over the last four years (over 900 articles) and what I discovered is that relationships, which used to be the prime focus of people, has been steadily losing ground to articles about money.

People are now more concerned about financial security than meeting their soul mate. There is more of a here today, gone tomorrow, way of looking at their lives. And business articles, which used to be a big drawing card, don’t seem to have the same impact that they used to.

Today’s hot topics center around getting money for nothing. People have always been attracted to articles about getting a lot of money without having to work for it, but lately, it’s been almost a mania, as evidenced by all the people who set up gofundme websites. This concept is now called crowdsourcing. I call it panhandling or standing there with a begging bowl in your hands asking strangers for money.

I had heard a story about a lazy, spoiled, twenty-one-year-old girl, who is in excellent health, setting up a gofundme website asking people to donate money so that she can go to Japan on a two-week vacation. The hands out, begging bowl concept, annoyed me so much that I wrote an article about it. And, wouldn’t you know it, but the number of people who read that one article climbed much higher and much faster than most of my other articles.

People take a look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and all they can see is the billions of dollars they have and they want to have what those two men have. They don’t see all the hard work that went into accumulating that wealth, nor do they see the kind of hard work they do to sustain their wealth. They just see a lot of money and they think they are entitled to the same riches.

Sad to say, but we’re living in a lazy, selfish, society these days and we’ve lost our moral compass along the way. We need to get back to the things that are really important before our whole society comes crumbling down around us.

Connie H. Deutsch is an internationally known business consultant and personal advisor who has a keen understanding of human nature and is a natural problem-solver.

Things Not to Do When Filing for Bankruptcy

When most people think of filing for bankruptcy, they think of what they need to do and have to do. Rarely do they worry about what they shouldn’t do. This is one good reason to consult a bankruptcy attorney when first considering the idea of filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy attorney will be able to fill the individual in on some tips they might like to consider before filing.

Prior to filing, most people don’t realize how the bankruptcy estate is created and what is included in it. Because of this many people will take money out of their retirement to cover their living expenses prior to the bankruptcy filing. This is a huge mistake because money that would be protected by bankruptcy exemptions is now part of the state and fair game for the trustee to take it. If it was just left in that 401(k) account it couldn’t be touched.

Another foolish thing individuals do is pay debts preferentially. They might choose credit cards that they want to continue using up until the bankruptcy filing so they choose to pay them while no longer paying any of their other debts. Preferential payment is not okay with the bankruptcy court and that money might be collected by the bankruptcy trustee. Even worse than that, people will pay friends and relatives back so they can leave them out of the bankruptcy filing. What they don’t know is the bankruptcy trustee will look through the bank account of the individual filing and see if there were any payments made in the six months prior to filing. Any money given to the relative or friend can be seized by the bankruptcy court making a very embarrassing situation for the individual.

How to Create a Budget Around Debt Repayment

In order for you to start putting extra money aside to pay off your debt, you must first gain control of your monthly spending. After all it is your spending habits that have led you into debt in the first place. Before each month begins, you must sit down and allocate every single Dollar of your income to a particular spending category. Every Dollar has a purpose. You must create what is known as a Zero Balanced Budget. What this means simply is that when you total up your income and subtract all of your expenses, the balance is $0. Every single Dollar of your income must be put to work for you, there is no spare money. Not even a spare cent!

When completing your budget, you must allow for every single area of spending. If you do not then you will not have money for it when it comes up. For example, if you do not include money for tires or car servicing, you will not have the money for them when they are required. It is easy to account for the general monthly expenses such as food, lights, heat, mortgage and so on, but you must also include a category to cover annual expenses such as clothes, car maintenance, insurance etc. My own personal budget is created using EXCEL, but you can simply use a pen and paper if you wish.

OK you have now created your budget but this is only half the plan. If you do not stick to your budget then it is all but pointless. You need to record every single penny that you spend on a daily basis. You can simply jot it down on a piece of paper or notepad or you can use any number of smart phone apps. I personally use an app called Spending Tracker and it allows me to export my spending record to EXCEL. Last point on this is to record your spending as soon as possible after you spend the money or you will forget.

When you have created your first budget and recorded your spending for one month you will be ready to adjust your budget. It is extremely unlikely that your first budget will go according to plan. If it does then you have not set it tight enough and you need to cut it more. Using your spending record, adjust your monthly expenses as required to get a more accurate budget. Keep doing this until you have developed a budget that you can live on and includes all of your spending requirements.

Once you find yourself following this budget process regularly and consistently, you will free up money to pay towards your debts. If you do not, then you have an “Income/expense gap” problem. I will tackle this in a later article. If you need any further help with budgeting or budget forms, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

How to Invest Your Equity Release in Retirement Investments

A number of events over these last few years have seriously impacted the way in which we all plan for our futures. For people who are approaching retirement age, they might just realise that their pensions are not quite enough to keep them going. The cost of living is always climbing, and other complications tend to creep in over time. For these and other reasons, pensioners often choose an equity release plan to help keep them afloat and avoid serious financial problems.

A great way in which you can be sure that you receive an adequate income over the years is by investing your money in the right places. Regardless of the type of investment you opt for, you will need some extra money to pay for the initial financial contribution. Whether you are more inclined to invest in a buy-to-let property or invest a lump sum in a short-term investment policy, you will need access to cash in order to start the process. As they say, you need to spend money to make money.

If you don’t have the necessary cash readily available, then you can take out an equity release on your existing property in order to cover your new investment. The value of your property, the type of equity release plan you choose and your age will all contribute towards determining how much you can release against your property. For example, the older you get, the more equity you can release. The greater the worth of your property, the more money you can release too.

By determining how much cash you can release, you can make informed decisions in terms of how you choose to invest that money. Many people choose to invest a large portion of their equity release so that they can benefit from their investment in years to come. They also pay off debt such as loans and credit cards so that they are free of yet another burden. Other pensioners choose to invest their newly released cash in a holiday home. This second property can eventually become their permanent home, or they rent it out in order to earn some extra money each month.

3 Effective Ways to Avoid Inheritance Conflicts

These issues come up mostly while talking with those who have gone through conflicts in their families during property division process in any of their estate settlements. In most of the cases there are references to the input from one of the members of family “once removed”, and not necessarily the ones who are the so called immediate heirs. These other people who are usually spouses or grandchildren don’t always have the similar emotional connection when compared to the ones who are immediate heirs. In most of the cases this may be unintentionally done. But, when children or spouses have things they want and they make demands, they often end up creating situations that finally result into conflicts.

Here are 3 ways that can help in avoiding such conflicts.

Understanding the Personality of other Heirs: It is very important that you try and understand what kind of people the other heirs who are also involved in the settlement issue are. Analyse their basic traits and find out the way to communicate with these heirs. This approach often resolves most complications even before they arise and clears off lot of misunderstandings. Personality difference is often the main cause behind a conflict concerning settlements. It will become more and more difficult to avoid conflict or maintain peace without understanding the differences.

Keep the Home Untouched before Formal Division: It is very important that you don’t claim your right on something that logically belongs to other heirs. It can also mess with their emotional sentiments and can further complicate the case for you. This is why it is important that the house remains untouched or undisturbed till a legal division is announced. An in-depth scrutiny of the property is important before there is any legal division and you can contribute to the process by not disturbing anything. Without the consent of other beneficiaries or heirs if you remove items from an estate or a home it is very much possible that the issue will get complicated. Very often we see people making this mistake of just going into a property and picking what they want without any consent with the concerned people and such actions are often justified by them through some facts or instances of the past. That being said, legally it will only complicate the case.

Only Beneficiaries or Immediate Heirs should be Part of the Property Division: Property division is a sensitive case and hence it should not be made a mass trial. Only immediate heirs or beneficiaries should become part of the process and other outside influences like children of heirs, grandchildren, in-laws, spouses etc should be kept away from the process. This is particularly more important at the beginning of the division process.