EBONY Wealth Challenge Wrap-up, Part 3

Continued…

  • Stock up – this is a tip that I am not really sure if I agree with but here it goes.  A few well-selected stocks can give your portfolio a nice boost.  Just make sure you do your research.  A legendary mutual fund manager Peter Lynch once said, “before buying a stock, do as much research as you would normally do before buying a refrigerator.”  I personally like to leave this task to professionals, e.g. buy funds vs. individual equities but researching before pulling the trigger still stands true.
  • Raise wealth builder – use technology (websites, apps) to encourage financial literacy with your kids.  Create family budgets, set savings goals and teach children how to earn money and save.  Good habits in fiduciary responsibility early on will go a long way.

These are 9 tips from the latest issue of the magazine.  Which ones are you going to follow?

EBONY Wealth Challenge Wrap-up, Part 2

Continued…

  • Develop a side hustle – explore a field related to what you already do for a living to develop supplemental cash flow, e.g. teacher giving private tutoring sessions.  Obvious downside – what you gain in discretionary income, you will lose in available free time.
  • Find extra money at home – in addition to selling unwanted furniture, clothes, etc. at one of many popular sites, take a hard look at various services you have including cable and cell phone.  Everything’s negotiable – give customer service a call and ask if there’s anything they can do to keep you as a customer.
  • Develop passive income – somewhat related to the first bullet above, this entails creating multiple revenue streams that’s truly passive, e.g. does not necessarily depend on your time such as owning a rental property.
  • Save for retirement – company pensions are gone with the dinosaurs and you should not rely on social security for retirement anymore.  Take advantage of 401K matching if available where you work.  While many personal finance experts advocate 20% savings of household income, I’d say save something every month regardless of how small.  We all have to start somewhere.

EBONY Wealth Challenge Wrap-up, Part 1

As published in the most recent issue paraphrased….

  1. Get your mind right:  Wealth begins in the mind and ends in the purse.  If you want to earn more, you must learn more.
  2. Lower your bills:  Renegotiate the terms for your car note, cable bills, utilities and cellphone bills.  Be pleasant – everything’s negotiable.
  3. Automate:  Pay your bills automatically each month by setting up electronic withdrawals to eliminate late fees, avoid credit score issues and reduce postage costs.  And even if you are late, negotiate elimination of late fees.

To be continued…

Going Cash Free? It’s Not Just for Consumers Anymore…

Yesterday I went to a soft opening for a new artisan bakery, Hewn Bread, in our suburban Chicago community of Evanston.  (Full disclosure: We knew of the soft opening precisely because we know the owners, but I’m a fiend for fresh-baked bread regardless, so I probably would have discovered it by smell alone if I hadn’t already known about it.)

Besides the expected shelves full of fine goods and the nostalgic “throwback” mental association I get from the growth of new businesses using good old-fashioned quality and simple, traditional methods, I was a little surprised to find myself paying for my rustic French Wheat Loaf with a debit card on the bakery’s iPad-style PDA.  I’d gotten used to seeing this at farmer’s markets and other parts of the “smaller” economy, but it was certainly new to witness such technology at a traditional retailer.

Part of the surprise was my own choice to use a debit card for a such a small purchase, which I generally disfavor as a consumer, because it’s typically unnecessary when I’ve got cash.  The other part of my surprise is really less unexpected the more I realize that modern business has changed.  I’m normally sensitive to the fact that the added costs of debit and credit transactions for the merchant are ultimately passed along to us consumers, and I always hear gripes on that subject from small business owners.  However, the social media interaction between this new business and its prospective customers seems well-served by this innovative technology.

At checkout I was given the option of having a printed or emailed receipt.  While I declined both options to avoid adding to the vaults full of paper and electronic receipts that drive my wife crazy, I suddenly got why cash-free or “cash-less” has become just as attractive for some businesses as it is for many consumers.  Small Business Matters recently posted an article on PayPal’s newest entry into the point-of-sale (POS) market that reflects this growing trend.  -Paul for SMBMatters  BTW, the bread was great!  What else would you expect to hear from a bread junkie?

PayPal encourages small retailers to ‘lose your cash register’

Summary: The mobile and digital payment company is running a competitive trade-in under which it will help retailers get outfitted with an iPad solution in exchange for old cash registers.

ipad_checkout_here

PayPal has launched a competitive trade-in-program designed to get more small retailers to use iPad point-of-sale (POS) solutions that happen to use its payment processing services.

Under the Cash for Registers initiative, companies will receive free PayPal payment processing services for the remainder of the year when they turn in their old cash registers and start using an iPad-based payment solutions, such as PayPal Here. The offer doesn’t just apply to the transaction fees for PayPal services, it covers them for credit-card, debit-card and check processing, according to the company’s information about the program.

PayPal Here encompasses an iPad, card reader, iPad stand, cash drawer and printer. There are a number of pre-integrated solutions that PayPal has organized to help with the transformation.

Some of the companies that PayPal is working with include Erply, a POS and inventory management software developer; Leapset, which integrates POS information with a company’s customer relationship management systems; Leaf, which develops customer loyalty  and business intelligence solutions; NCR | Silver, which provides POS hardware;  ShopKeep POS, which sells an iPad POS system; and Vend, a POS and inventory management software application developer.

The program officially kicks off in June, according to a blog post written by David Marcus, president of PayPal.

“In addition to this great offer, we will make participating businesses known to our 55+ million U.S. (128 million worldwide) and growing customer base, and drive meaningful incremental business to them, stimulating the vibrant small-business community in America,” Marcus writes.

The rise of the tablet computer has signaled a turning point for small-business POS solutions, a trend that began accelerating in 2012 and is continuing to gain momentum.

Related stories:

Reblogged from ZDNET.

By Heather Clancy for Small Business Matters

Funding Tips for SMBs

Tips for Funding Medium-Sized Businesses in Today’s Environment

When running a business, one of the biggest problems many have right now, is obtaining funding. In the past, money has been much easier to borrow, but with current economic conditions, easy funding is gone. Businesses borrow money for any number of reasons including to hire employees or open up new locations. In reality, a lot of businesses of any size falter because of the lack of adequate funding. Here, are 5 tips for obtaining funding for medium-sized businesses in today’s environment.

Venture Capital
When running a medium sized business, one needs to determine how much they are willing to give up in regards to control. Venture capital money is usually obtained for higher risk, higher reward companies. This is an excellent way to get a serious amount of money to take a business to the next level. The downside with venture capital is; they end up owning a portion of the business. Oftentimes, they even want to control aspects of the day to day operations. Venture capital money can be used to start up a company, or to expand operations or ideas.

Traditional Banks
By the time a business is medium-sized, they will no doubt, have a banking relationship. Even though, receiving funding is difficult, an established business can still get money. Banks are exceedingly strict when giving out loans, so be prepared to have financial statements on hand. A business that over the long term has made money will have no problem qualifying for a loan. Establishing a banking relationship with a local bank is a terrific idea for a business owner.

SBA-Guaranteed Loan

Image representing U.S. Small Business Adminis...

Image via CrunchBase

If a bank will not loan money, there are other options. One is through the SBA guaranteed loan program. There are SBA district offices all over the country where one can fill out a loan application. The people at the SBA will be able to assist one in filling out the application. Many medium sized businesses can get more consideration if they are hiring new workers or in a certain industry. The small business association can help one qualify for the maximum amount of money.

Angel Investor
If a business is viable and profitable, an angel investor may be able to assist. Like borrowing from a bank, one needs a solid plan for what they plan to do with the money. One would need to have financial statements and proof of profits to have a serious chance of receiving funding. Angel investors are different from venture capitalists in that an angel investor does not seek to run the operations of a company.

Sell Stock
A company that is seeking funding, can also sell a portion of their company. This is a way to gain funding, while still controlling the company. This is a way a business can get a large amount of money, to really fund operations needed for growth. Stock can even be sold to employees who are confident in the companies operations.

Anyone looking to obtain funding for their business needs to be prepared. Financial statements and a serious business plan are needed. This is because anyone giving out a loan wants to be sure they are dealing with a legitimate business. When obtaining funding, a business has an excellent opportunity to take expand exponentially.

Skylar Rickman writes about business, finance & more at www.creditreport.org.

Fees Exposed – 401K Disclosure Coming to You and Your Employees 3rd Quarter

With 72 million participants in the US and a total of $3 trillion in assets, you would think there would be a bonanza of information about the average 401K available.  That has not been the case but it will be so as of July 1, 2012.

Until now, you as the plan provider (plan “sponsor” and possibly contributor in the form of matching contributions to the plan) have only been required to ascertain that the expenses levied for services and investments are reasonable.  On July 1st all service providers must provide additional information about the compensation they receive to plan sponsors – and by August 30 the plan sponsor (you) must make these disclosures to plan participants.

Until now, it was OK to simply assess the reasonableness of investment fees and expenses – going forward you must assess the reasonableness of what the service providers get – even if it’s not from the plan itself.  And this information must be displayed in written reports to participants, quarterly going forward and annually for any investment related fees.

What this addresses is the fact that participants, most of them anyway, don’t believe that these plans cost much if anything. A survey published February 2011 by AARP, for example, found that 71 percent of those polled believed that they did not pay fees on their 401Ks. Six percent said they did not know whether fees were levied.  This means that more that 75% of plan participants are not aware of the costs of their plans!

A more shocking finding is that not only don’t participants know about fees, neither do some 30% of plan sponsors!

As a plan sponsor, you have a duty to pick a good plan and a good provider for your employees, and now you must display the costs to participants.  If this thought of disclosure causes you pain, maybe it’s time to find a new provider.  Some good options for small companies are cited here.

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