How Easy Is it to Retire at 50?

Do you have dreams of being able to retire early? Do you want the opportunity to really enjoy your senior years? Maybe you have big plans of travelling, perhaps you just want to be able to relax and not have any work responsibilities, or maybe you want to be able to spend more time with family and friends. Whatever the reason, retiring early is something that many people work towards but aren’t always able to accomplish.

So exactly how easy is it to retire at age 50? Let’s take a closer look at some tips and advice that can make it possible for you to retire early and live out your dreams.

Start Investing Long Before Retirement

While there are a plenty of people that depend on working long enough to pay off their mortgage and save money at the same time, others want to be able to accelerate how much money they have available to them in the retirement years. For these people, investing may be the best answer. Obviously, with investments there is never a guarantee, but there are those investments that are considered much safer than others and typically take longer to grow in terms of profits.

If you’re looking to wade into the territory of investments for the first time, it can be worth your while to use a broker. Just be sure to do your research and pick a broker that matches your investment style and goals. To get you off on the right track, InvestinGoal’s list can be a helpful tool while you’re looking for that perfect broker.

The earlier you begin investing, the more time your money will have to grow. But you have to invest wisely and weigh your risk vs reward carefully before you make a move. You could easily lose money by investing on bad speculative stocks for instance. At the other end of the spectrum, you can’t be too cautious either. You can’t only stick to sure bets like CDs or money market accounts if you want to get good returns.

If your goal is to retire early, then you have to have a long term trading strategy as well. Ideally, you should stick with dividend yielding stocks that will be here for years to come. The more you change your mind, the more chance you might end up making the wrong move. And the more trades you make, the more fees you have to pay, so you have to keep that in mind too.

If you’re in it for the long haul, your focus should be not to lose any money rather than trying to go for big short term returns. Whatever you do, try to stay away from high risk speculative investments at all costs. Yes, break outs do happen from time to time, but the chances of that happening are usually 100 to 1. So, if you want to reach your goal, invest in established companies that will still be there a few decades from now when you’re finally ready to retire.

Index funds are also a great low risk way to invest by tracking various indices, like the FTSE 100 for instance. Index funds replicate the market and allow you to get broader market exposure instead of investing in multiple individual stocks. And they’re much cheaper than actively managed funds as well, which is another major plus.

Make Sure All Debt is Paid Off Before Retirement

One sure fire way to sink your dreams of retiring early is to have debt. If your goal is to retire at age 50, then you need to make sure all debt is cleared at that point. That means things such as your mortgage, car payment, credit cards, loans, etc. This clearing of debt can help provide you with direction as you work towards early retirement.

Take on the Extra Hours at Work

While you are still working, it’s also important you don’t shy away from extra hours. Remember, all that extra money is just more money that can go towards making your early retirement possible. That extra cash can be used to pay down debt faster or can go straight into a retirement savings.

Downsize and Live on Less

The final tip is to consider downsizing and living on less. Once you are retired, maybe you don’t need that big house anymore, perhaps you don’t need a brand-new fancy car or a car at all, and maybe you can cut back on other expenses. Living on less means you’ll have more money to spend on the things you have looked forward to in retirement.

Retiring early doesn’t have to be the impossible dream, instead it’s all about creating a realistic plan that you stick with. There will be times when it will seem tough but keep that end goal in mind and keep a positive attitude.

4 Tips to Working With a Collection Agency

Debt recovery is a potentially taxing, unnerving, and time-consuming undertaking hence the rising popularity of collection agency merchant accounts. Collection agencies hold clients financially responsible for outstanding bills. For better services, we recommend you secure engage a collection agency that acts as more of a partner than a contractor.

The importance of cultivating an excellent working relationship with your agency can’t be stressed enough. Work ethics dictate you hold regular meetings for status report updates to assess your account status.

This piece will explore on the various way to work with a collection agency.

1. Determine an agency’s legitimacy

Statistics reveal the existence of over 4,200 collection agencies in America alone! You’d expect a few unscrupulous agencies to account for a fair percentage of that figure.

Some collection agencies handle B2B collections, while others deal with consumer accounts. The more established collection firms often deal with both B2B and consumer accounts.

Ask for referrals from trusted business associates, your attorney, or accountant in your industry.

Another aspect to consider is licensed and bond status. In most states, regulations stipulate that collection agencies require to obtain either of bonded status or licensing and others both. Assuming you do business locally, hire a collection agency located in your State.

For cross-border business persons, find an agency that’s licensed in all states you conduct business.

2. Disclose information

The collection agency requires you to provide them with as much information as possible about a debtor. Full disclosure helps in raising the odds of obtaining the highest possible compensation.

The more debtor information you disclose, the more cash you stand to collect. Besides revealing your debtor’s name, you must furnish the debt collector with their telephone numbers and addresses.

Also share cell phone numbers and email addresses, physical address, spouse, neighbors, relatives, and friends.

Other information includes;

  • If the debtor has, in any way, responded to your collection inquiries
  • Nicknames, aliases, and maiden names of the debtor
  • Extensive details about the transaction or purchase, including the date and time- if need deemed necessary
  • Contracts signed and credit applications

3. Understand applicable regulations

The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) guides the practices of collection agencies. As much as the debtor owes you, they remain protected from possible harassment. Agencies are known for employing aggressive tactics, pushing and bending laws to coerce people to meet their debt obligations. Understanding relevant laws will guide you during your collection exercises.

Refrain from hiring an agency renowned for using underhanded tactics.

4. Understand the cost of engaging a collection agency

Collection agencies recover your money at a price, meaning you must pay them a pre-agreed percentage of what’s recovered. In most cases, if your business receivables go past the 120-day mark, your chances of recovering your monies drop significantly.

Key takeaway

It’s vital that a collection agency doesn’t ruin the relationship with your customers by fulfilling their mandate as per the law. Hire a reputable agency to safeguard future business.  

5 Top Tips to Work Towards Financial Freedom

Do you find managing your money complicated and stressful? Money problems can cause huge stresses in our lives and so it is important that this is something you are always keeping on top of as doing so will lead to financial freedom for you later down the road. Below, we are taking you through some simple steps that will help you to work towards being financially free.

 

Keep Track of Your Spending

When you are working towards financial freedom, you need to know exactly how much is coming out of your account and where this money is going, otherwise, your spending can quickly become out of control. We would recommend tracking everything that you spend for a few months so you can see where most of your money is going and this will then help you to create a monthly budget. The more you work with a budget, the easier it gets, so while this may seem complicated and difficult at first to work with, in no time at all you will be following your budget and working towards financial freedom.

 

Combine Your Finances

Are you married? If you are, then it is important that you combine your finances and work out a budget based on this. We would recommend that you deposit your money into a joint bank account and then distribute your money from there.  This will not only help your finances, it will also create better communication between you and your partner and will eliminate any fights about money if you are both on the same page.

 

Build an Emergency Fund

We’ve all been there where an emergency comes up and we end up going into debt on a credit card to cover this unexpected cost. When you are financially free, however, you will have a bank account containing your emergency money that is always sitting there should an emergency arise. This peace of mind it what will lead you towards financial freedom!

 

Stick to Cash

When you are trying to stick to a budget, using cash is the easiest way to do this as you can easily keep track of what you are spending and you can see what you have left. You are also not as likely to overspend! The envelope system works great here and this is essentially different envelopes that you have where you will put money aside each money for different categories in your budget. Then, you can only spend the cash that is inside these envelopes for that category throughout the month.

 

Sell Your Unwanted Items

Those who are financially free don’t hold onto things that they no longer need. We all have things that we have bought on a whim and then later regretted the purchase, so why not sell it online and put this cash towards extra money in your budget? A good rule to stick by is that if the item does not bring value or joy to your life, then you should get rid of it.

The Costly Consequences of Bad Credit

It doesn’t take much for your credit status to turn upside down. A missed payment, loss of employment, medical emergency, or impulsive financial decision can send your credit history from excelling to poor in just 30 days. Depending on how bad the situation is, improving your credit can take months or even years.

Everyone knows that if you have bad credit, it can be nearly impossible to get approved for credit cards, home loans, and some jobs, yet what they don’t often talk about is how costly it is. Realizing that the consequences of bad credit are larger than not being able to finance a brand-new car or house is the first step to acting and improving your score. Here’s a look at just how much it costs when you have a negative credit status.

Higher Interest Rates

For those who have bad credit, getting approved for a loan is nearly impossible. If they are able to find a lender willing to extend some help, it comes at a cost. Their poor credit history paints them as a high-risk borrower. Lenders are automatically going to charge them more in interest to make sure that they can recuperate as much of the loan as possible.

Deposits

When applying for certain services, people with poor credit will have to pay more than those who have better credit histories. Utility services, television services, and even cell phone services will require a deposit before the customer can receive service. The deposit can be hundreds of dollars depending on how bad your credit is. The same goes for rental properties and secured credit card offers.

Increased Insurance

If you have bad credit and drive a car, then there’s something you should know. Car insurance companies use your credit score to determine your rate, which means that you are paying a higher insurance premium. A poor credit history symbolizes a high-risk driver which provokes companies to charge more per year to keep you protected.

What to Do About it

Didn’t realize just how much more you paid for having bad credit, did you? Now that you’re aware, what are you going to do about it? If you answered improving your credit, you’re on the right track. Here are some effective tips to getting things back in order:

  • Credit Starter Loans – Financial Institutions like http://westernshamrock.com/, offer customers with bad credit a second chance. They have credit starter loans which can be used to show positive history on your credit. If approved, you make monthly payments until the loan amount you’ve been approved for is reached. Then, the funds are deposited into an account for you to use at your discretion.
  • Secured Credit Cards – Although you’re going to pay more for it, secured credit cards are another option for rebuilding your credit. These cards require collateral, which is usually in the form of a cash deposit which also serves as the credit limit. You pay the amount upfront and have a credit card you can continue to use.
  • Ask Someone Else – If you have a trusted friend or family member who has good credit, you can ask for their help. By adding you as a co-borrower on their account, they can help boost your credit. If they add you to a credit card and also allow you use of it, be sure that you are responsible so that you don’t make everyone’s credit bad.
  • Clean Up Your Mess – As you’re tapping into all of these opportunities to boost your credit, you also need to clean up your mess. This means reviewing your credit history and getting rid of the negative marks. Contact service providers and negotiate new rates and payment arrangements, boost your income with a side hustle to pay down debts faster, and even consider debt consolidation services for help.

Just because you already have a house and a car doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about your bad credit. Negative credit histories do a lot more than impact your ability to get a loan, it also makes life a lot more expensive. If you want to stop paying for bad credit, you need to do the work. This includes a combination of cleaning up your credit history and finding opportunities to boost your score.

Accounting, Compliance and Healthcare, Oh My!

Running a business can be challenging in many areas, but some of the most challenging issues are accounting, compliance, and healthcare. Making sure that you are compliant with all laws can be a full-time job, and if you don’t have a proper HR department or if you aren’t working with PEO companies can help you through this process, you may experience situations you aren’t sure how to handle.

If you are asking, “what is a PEO?,” the short and simple answer is a PEO is a personal employment organization. A PEO helps a business handle their HR either by providing them with the information they need to self-service or by taking over all operations.

Common Challenges Your Company Should Be Aware Of

Being aware of common challenges can help you navigate through the sea of laws with which you are working to comply.

The Assumption That Profits Always Mean Cash Flow

Even if you take on a $100,0000 project that is only going to take you $50,000 to fund, you should not book $50,000 profit. Many things could hold up the deal and other factors that could cause costs to rise.  If that is the case, your estimate is wrong, and you’ve recorded incorrect numbers.

While you might want to write down every deal for your income column as it comes in, you need to refrain from doing this as it gives you a distorted picture of your company’s health. Profits do not always mean cashflow.

Failing to Classify Employees & Contractors Properly

If you classify employees as contractors, you could get into hot water. States like California are cracking down on misclassification of employees. Some companies have improperly classified employees as independent contractors because there is less responsibility to be had without employees. While it may seem like a good idea, you need to make sure of your state’s laws and classifies someone as an employee or a contractor.

Not Understanding Healthcare Laws

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires you to learn key parts of the law and make changes as necessary. Some of the things you need to keep in mind are the 90-day maximum waiting period. Many companies already had this period in place, but others were making their employees wait for long time periods before they made healthcare available which is why ACA put this in place.

FSAs (flexible spending accounts) can receive unlimited contributions from the employer, but only $2,650 from the employee per year. There are a couple of options available when you want to roll over employee’s FSA accounts each year. You can learn more about these options here.

While employer wellness programs and other activities that support healthier workplaces are not mandatory, the ACA creates incentives for employers to implement them. The maximum reward for these programs has increased from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage. For programs designed to reduce or prevent tobacco use the incentive is 50 percent. You can learn more about this here.

Payroll & Taxes

Payroll and taxes are one of the most confusing parts of HR. If you have remote employees, this can make matters even more confusing. You’ll have to figure out specific tax rates for different variations of employee classifications, make sure you are withholding the right amounts, and that you are paying the government quickly enough.

It is possible to take care of payroll in-house, but this can cause complications and make things more expensive vs. saving the company money. Payroll is another area that you might find having a partnership with a PEO company helpful. They can take care of your payroll and ensure everything is compliant in this area, so you don’t have to worry about steep fees and legal challenges.

Employee Handbook

Having an employee handbook is important when you want to protect yourself from compliance challenges. The more in-depth and specific your handbook is, the better. If you come up against a situation what you did not foresee, this can cause challenges that can cost you valuable resources such as many and time.

You can use a template for your employee handbook, so you don’t have to start out from scratch, but make sure that you get something down for people to have something tangible to look through and know what behaviors are expected of them and what behaviors are not acceptable.

Safety & Workers Compensation

Until you have a safety issue, you might not think about this area of your business too much. When you are dealing with workers compensation claims, this could be a different story. Make sure you have proper worker’s compensation insurance in place so that you can continue to do business even after an accident takes place.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many things to think about when it comes to all of these issues in your business. Making sure you are compliant, providing proper employee benefits, and that you are taking care of your accounting department and necessary tasks are vital to the longevity of your business.

If you are unsure about how to proceed in any of these areas, you should speak with a business law attorney or consult your PEO if you are partnered with a PEO that is well-versed in compliance issues and all areas of HR. Knowing what is required of you will make it easier for you to comply.

The Top 3 Tips for Shopping for a Hard Money Loan

When people hear of the term “hard money loan”, they often think of loan sharks and shady dealings. But that is not the case nowadays. There are many trustworthy and legit companies like Maggio Capital Inc. – San Diego, CA that aim to help those people who are not able to qualify for bank loans.

Since there are so many hard money lenders, you should be careful in choosing the one that will truly assist you. Here are some tips to follow when looking for a lender.

  1. Check to see if any of your friends can recommend one to you – the first step you can do is to interview any of your friends or colleagues if any of them had ever gotten a hard money loan. You don’t have to just ask them for the company they got the loan from. but the whole process itself. Every company has a different way of processing their loan applications, and you want to be prepared with whatever documentation you have to pass. Then, ask them if they will be able to recommend their own lender. Get feedback on how the service was and of course the rates that were given to them.

 

  1. Do your research on what hard money loans are – before getting yourself a hard money loan, you will first need to understand what it is. Don’t go blindly into an agreement with first doing your homework and understanding the basics. Know what the difference is between a hard money loan and why it is different from traditional lenders, like banks. Simply put, a hard money loan is a short-term loan secured by real estate. Instead of banks, you will be funded by private investors and the loan term is shorter compared to traditional loans. Unlike in banks where the applicant’s credit rating is the primary concern of the lender, for hard money lenders, it’s usually the value of the property that they consider. So you should arm yourself with information on the industry standards and the types of property that you can use a hard money loan for. Some of the examples are fix and flip homes.

 

  1. Compile a short list of the private lenders you are eyeing and do your background check on them – even with recommendations from friends and family, it would still be a good idea to keep a short list of potential companies that you can go to for a loan. You should watch out for red flags in order to avoid . the shady dealers who might not be giving you the best deal. Schedule a time of consultation with them and ask them the process. You can tell that a lender is trustworthy when they can explain to you every step in the process so that you can understand what will happen. If a lender will not tell you right away the specific cost and fees when you ask them, and if they evade your questions, it would be best not to deal with them.

Smart House Technology for Saving Energy

When it comes to home management, you can easily take certain expenses for granted. You may assume that regular bills such as your mortgage, water, sewer, and electricity are non-negotiable. While it’s unlikely that you can go off the grid and eliminate these costs entirely, you can actually take several steps to cut down on these bills. If you’re looking for an effective way to improve your home’s efficiency, consider investing in some of the modern smart home solutions on the market. Giving your home the ability to manage itself may offer the first step toward lower bills.

Smart home products rely on big data to make efficient choices. While you can certainly use your own knowledge of your daily schedule to adjust items such as your thermostat and fans, you’re still only working with a fraction of the information available. A smart thermostat or other system can consider such minute factors as the optimum length of time for your air conditioner to run to get the best efficiency from the system. Taking a more hands-off approach to your utilities can result in dramatic energy savings when you have the right tech in place to take over the job.

Smart home systems will help you efficiently manage everything from your thermostat settings to your home lighting systems. If you’re looking for an easy way to save money on your home management, explore the infographic below to learn more about the modern technology available for this purpose. Trim your bills and increase your comfort with several sleek investments.