4 Ways to Save Money on a New Car

Posted on Saturday 27 October 2012

New cars are notoriously expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a price reduction. There are several ways to get a discount. The following four tips will help you save money on your new car.

Look for Zero or Low Interest Deals

The interest on a car loan can cost you thousands of dollars over the sticker price of the car. If you want to save big money, one of the first things you should do is look for low or zero interest promotions. If you can save 3% to 4% on the interest rate, it will leave you paying a lot less over the life of the loan. It will also make it easier to stretch out the term of the loan for lower monthly payments.

Call Every Dealer in Your Area

Car dealers compete with each other. You can save quite a bit of money by using their competitive nature to your advantage. Call every dealer in your area for a quote on your desired vehicle. Then, call the dealer you want to buy from and present the lowest quote you received. Ask the dealer to meet or beat the price.

Forget the Extras

When you are purchasing a new car, truck, or jeep, you are presented with many optional goodies that can drive up the price of your vehicle. Leather seats, sunroofs, navigational systems, rims, undercoating, and other extras can add thousands to your purchase price. Know what you are paying for, and make sure you really want it. If the vehicle you are looking at has extras, ask the dealer for a standard model without the flair.

Learn the TMV

TMV stands for True Market Value. This represents the actual value of a car based on the make, model, and region in which it is being sold. TMV and sticker price are rarely the same thing. The initial price the dealer is asking is negotiable. You should learn the TMV of your desired vehicle and then negotiate with the dealer until you get the asking price down to actual value.

savvy @ 2:16 PM
Filed under: General Finances
The Basics of Estate Planning

Posted on Thursday 25 October 2012

It’s all too easy to keep putting estate planning off until the future. Yet as your financial situation changes over the years, estate planning can grow ever more complicated. It’s best to start the process as early as possible, and make amends when necessary as you experience life changes. There are several factors that are involved in estate planning which are worth taking a closer look at, so that you can start the planning process with the help of a financial professional.

Wills

Your will is one of the most important documents that you can draft during your lifetime. It gives you control over what happens to your property at death. Some of the advantages of drafting a will include the fact that it gives you the ability to choose an executor of your estate, donate to charities of your choice, minimize your estate tax, and distribute your property according to your wishes. You can speak to a legal or financial advisor such as those at Lombard Odier to discover how your will can be used most effectively in a financial sense.

One of the most important roles that a will plays is designating a guardian for your children should you pass on. It’s best to think of this as a fluid decision. A will doesn’t go into legal effect until you die, so you can always make changes as you go through life and your circumstances change.

Trusts

For small, uncomplicated estates, a will alone may be sufficient. Yet if you are a property owner, you may want to think about setting up a trust as a compliment to the will. Trusts can be used to help serve in special situations. For example, if you have a child with special needs or pets that you want to ensure are looked after properly throughout their lifetime, you can set up a trust for this purpose. Trusts are set up during your lifetime, and transfer your assets or property to an individual manager. This trustee manages the fund for the beneficiaries. Living trusts go into effect while you are still alive, while testamentary trusts are enacted after your death.

There are many different benefits that you can gain by setting up a trust. It’s best to speak to a financial advisor about how and why a trust may benefit you. With the help of an estate planning expert at a firm like Lombard Odier, you can minimize your estate taxes, distribute your assets to beneficiaries in a more efficient manner, and put conditions on asset distribution when needed.

Tax Issues to Consider

Inheritance tax is one factor to consider when you are planning what to do with your assets. This tax is due on any trusts or gifts made during your lifetime, as well as any inheritance you leave to beneficiaries in your will. As of the 2012/2013 tax year, no tax is charged on estates worth up to £325,000. After this, everything is taxed at a rate of 40%. Assets that are passed between spouses are exempt from tax, as are any donations made to charity. The best way to plan for these taxes is to look into exemptions and structured trusts that can help lower the bill.

By taking the time to start thinking about how and where your assets will be divided, you can start to put together a plan. This will leave you breathing easier during your lifetime, knowing that your family will be protected when you pass on.

savvy @ 6:57 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Should you start a small business? Three signs you might be ready

Posted on Wednesday 24 October 2012

There may come a time in your life when you start thinking about opening a small business in your home, online, or in an actual brick-and-mortar space. I know many women who have ventured into small home-based businesses and Internet shops as a means of earning extra money or fulfilling their creative passions. And contrary to popular belief, starting a small business doesn’t have to be a stressful, expensive endeavor either. In fact, it can be quite affordable, easy to pursue, and eventually profitable. If you’re interested in starting a small business, here are three signs you might be ready for the endeavor.

You have a passion

Let’s be honest: Without a passion, there is no sense in trying to start a small business. You’re going to be putting a lot of time and effort into your small business, so you need to love what you’re doing. Keep in mind, the small business world already has more than enough concepts, ideas, talent, and competition to go around, so you’re going to need to be thoroughly committed to the idea or concept you are pursuing if you hope to find success. There will inevitably be another small business out there that is doing exactly what you do, but the one thing that can set you apart from this other company is the passion you have for your product or service. Customers don’t want to buy a product or service from someone who doesn’t seem passionate about their own business or product. In fact, passion is the one key ingredient that inspires customers to commit to a product or service. Therefore, if you’re going to start a small business, make sure it is something you really care about and have a passion for. That energized passion will get you through those crazy work hours and those days when you just don’t think you can take it anymore.

You have patience

Success doesn’t come easily. It takes time to build a successful small business, so you’re definitely going to need to cultivate a sense of patience before you start your business. Remember that anything worth having takes time to mature and grow, so you should expect to experience a number of failures before you have any successes whatsoever. Whenever you start planning for your small business, go ahead and write out a list of short-term and long-term goals you have in mind. Next, map out how soon you would like those projected goals to happen. You must be patient with these projected goals, however. They may not happen as soon as you’d like, but just keep working hard and moving forward, and they eventually will!

You have a plan

Naturally, there is no sense in starting a small business if you don’t have a business plan or foundation to build it upon. Before you even start thinking of a designing a business card or logo, start mapping out the important details and key plans for your small business: What will your product or service be? How much will you charge? What will your overheard cost be? Do you need investors? Is your product marketable? How many hours a week do you plan on working? Do you need employees? Etc. There is no one way to write a successful business plan, so just get started! Once you’re finished have an investor, trusted confidant, or mentor look it over and give you their feedback.

If you’ve been thinking of starting a small business, keep moving forward with your plans! There are many different businesses, products, and niches out there, so find what works for you and you’ll be on your way to small-business success!

Karen Smith is a writer/researcher that writes about the benefits of receiving a business degree online. Her articles often cover topics related to education, starting your own business and trends in business technology. Please leave your questions and comments for Karen below.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Be a Good Entrepreneurial Citizen

Posted on Monday 22 October 2012

Growing a business often relies on building stronger relationships with key movers in your community, from customers to vendors to political leaders and community activists. And that means spreading around some goodwill. Here are four key strategies to increase your influence in your community:

  1. Contribute financially to local causes. Even small contributions can earn you the thanks and recognition of your peers. Donate to a local radio station and they might feature you as a business leader in an ad. Donate to the Red Cross and they might plaster your name on a plaque. Building the strongest, most effective ties after all is a lot more about grooming your reputation after all – not just advertising in the local newspaper.
  2. Give your time. Find a cause or organization you love, and volunteer for it. You’ll meet other civic leaders in your community and may even get the chance to sit on local boards. That’s real networking. It’s also an excellent public relations opportunity and shows your business cares about its community.
  3. Become an angel investor. When you help businesses in your community thrive, you’re helping yourself thrive. Investing in other businesses in your community also expands your sphere of influence. If you aren’t sitting on a large pile of cash, consider using a self-directed individual retirement account (IRA) to make small investments in other companies. This strategy allows you to use some of your retirement savings to make business investments. Keep in mind that many IRS rules apply to self-directed IRAs. But even a $5,000 investment is enough to get you in the door in many angel investor networks. And new crowdfunding laws promise to break the market open for many more opportunities for small investors.

As you’re working on building a name for yourself, make sure the projects, groups and business leaders you’re helping are aligned with your business goals. Strive to be seen as not just a civic leader, but an “industry leader.”

Kelly Spors writes for the leading Roth IRA and online retirement planning resource, RothIRA.com. She is a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has also written for The New York Times, Entrepreneur magazine, SmallBizTrends.com and Yahoo!. Kelly specializes in personal finance and small business issues.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Saving Money on a Move to a New Home

Posted on Monday 15 October 2012

In this beaten down economy finding ways to save money is no longer a just a luxury. With rising food costs, fluctuating gas prices and increasing rates for even the basic necessities, adding a move to a new home can be a financial disaster unless you are prepared to cut corners in order to create a cushion for the long haul.

Budget: Expenses can spiral out of control from the very beginning unless you get organized. Know from the very start what your budget is and stick to it. Create a checklist of items you will need for the move and then transfer to an Excel spreadsheet that will allow you to itemize each expense. This spreadsheet will come in handy at tax time too since some moving expenses are tax deductible.

Create a Checklist: Items you will need include movers, moving truck, gas for moving truck, additional insurance, boxes, bubble wrap, tape, permanent markers, a cleaning crew, transportation to new home, childcare arrangements, meals while you’re unable to cook in the new home, storage fees, lodging, utility deposits and even a set amount for new décor or household items you’ll need at move in.

Request Estimates: Now that you have you checklists in place go row by row and begin calling businesses to get quotes. For example, call at least 5 moving companies before settling on one. Ask what all is included in their rate; truck, movers, boxes, moving straps and dollies. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts too. Storage companies, for instance, typically have first month free specials. Pick up packing supplies like moving tape and permanent markers at the dollar store. No need to spend a lot, you’ll only use this stuff once.

Hire Movers vs. DIY: Once you’ve selected the least expensive moving company quote compare it to the costs associated with DIY moving. How much will it cost to rent a truck? What will the gas costs be? How much will packing supplies be? The most important question has to be, how long will it take you and a couple of friends or family members to load your truck and move your belongings? These are all valid questions and should be considered before scheduling the movers or renting the truck.

Be Frugal: When saving money on a move to a new house, be frugal in every aspect of the move that you can. For instance, instead of spending a lot of money on bubble wrap, use newspaper. Thrifty papers are free at the local convenient store. Save the bubble wrap for the crystal. You also don’t have to spend tons on boxes. Hit up your local grocery stores on delivery days when they have more boxes than they care to break down. They’ll be happy to let you take them off their hands.

While there’s still a long road ahead of you with the actual move, take comfort in knowing you’ll be settling into the new home with a little money left in your pocket. And it was all thanks to the budget you set from the very beginning. Good job!

Ryan Franklin is a blogger and moving expert who writes on behalf of uShip. He believes that hiring movers usually saves money in the long run.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances
Social Media Marketing

Posted on Friday 12 October 2012

iContact – Helping Businesses Reach Buyers

Email and social media marketing can help you reach out to new customers, strengthen current relationships, and improve brand awareness. If you’d like to launch this type of campaign for your small or medium-sized business, you may want to consider getting professional assistance from a company like iContact.

iContact is dedicated to helping small businesses reach out to customers through email and social media marketing. When you hire iContact to assist with your marketing campaign, you receive cutting-edge PR software, award-winning support, marketing education, and unwavering expertise.

iContact Marketing Services

iContact offers a wide range of email marketing services so that you can stretch your marketing dollars and meet the needs of your customers. Easy-to-use tools allow you to create powerful and beautifully designed emails–even if you have no knowledge of HTML or web design. And you don’t have to worry about the messages reaching your customers. iContact has delivery specialists, relationships with major internet providers, and tools like SpamCheck™ to ensure your messages are delivered every time.

iContact also offers assistance with social media marketing and special tools to help you post and track results on Facebook and Twitter. Whether you are new to social media or an old hat, you can increase your social impact and get the results you need to make your business a success.

savvy @ 7:40 PM
Filed under: General Finances
4 Great Ways to Get Cheap Homeowners Insurance

Posted on Tuesday 9 October 2012

With the cost of everything rising, obtaining cheap homeowners insurance is even more important than before. There is no way anyone should risk leaving their home uncovered. Disastrous events happen when least expected and it is good to have the coverage that protects from financial difficulties. However, it is not always so easy to locate the best homeowners insurance rates. Read on to get some tips for obtaining a lower rate.

Many insurance companies have realized that access to low cost insurance is important to many property owners. They have responded to the demand with offers that sound affordable and look good, but some of these savings are not worth it because the insurance given is completely inadequate. It is possible to get rates that still grant the level of coverage needed. All it takes is a solid and informed strategy.

Shop Around and Compare Rates

To get cheap homeowners insurance quotes, it is important to compare rates from a variety of different companies. You may already practice this approach but its importance to obtaining lower rates cannot be stressed enough. When looking for the right rate on the right policy make sure to get as many different companies involved as possible. Look not only at the price or the reputation of the firm, but also at the details of the policy itself.

Maintain a Good Credit History

What you have to offer up is very vital to obtaining better rates. Good credit helps you get lower rates on a lot of things and that includes insurance for your home. There was a time when a credit score did not have much impact, but now more insurers are using credit history as a determining factor in rates. If you really want to have cheap homeowners insurance, do all that you can to improve and protect your credit. However, this is not the only way to get cheap homeowners insurance.

Make Improvements to Your home

Insurers pay attention to those who work to make their home more disaster resistant and reward them with better insurance rates. This is because a home better able to withstand disaster is considered to be a much lower risk. There are many steps you can take to improve the stability of your home and make it more eligible to be covered at a lower rate. Some of the things that make a home more disaster resistant include burglar alarms, smoke detectors, secure locks, wire mesh screens for attic and crawl space vents, structural reinforcements, and window shutters. An agent from the insurance company of your choice can inform you of all the preventative measures that qualify you for a discount.

Quite Smoking

Those who do not smoke also receive more affordable quotes. Making it a policy to not allow any smoking in your home makes it more attractive to insurance companies. Many home disasters can occur from burning cigars and cigarettes. A non-smoking policy lowers your rates and makes your home a safer, healthier place to live.

There are many other strategies you can use to get cheapst homeowners insurance. The ones listed here are just a few that can really help you out a lot. In the end, rates can vary by the insurance company you choose. Therefore, when looking to get a lower priced policy be sure to get as much information on rate determination as possible from the insurance companies under consideration.

savvy @ 8:17 PM
Filed under: General Finances
How to Avoid Estate Tax on Life Insurance

Posted on Monday 8 October 2012

State and federal regulations make anyone feel worrisome when it comes to taxes, but estate tax on life insurance is usually a concern separately. This is one of the most burdensome taxes that one has to pay, ignoring that a carefully planned tax strategy may help to avoid this imposition. There are many ways to work around estate tax on life insurance, but further understanding on this topic can help you to find what the right solution for you to avoid it is.

One solution to avoid estate tax on life insurance is getting an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT,) which means assurance on your insurance. However, a life insurance trust will only reduce taxation and some financial advisors say this option is only worth it when you are the owner of large estate that is worth millions. Naturally, any homeowner may try this options regardless the property value, but savings are only considerable when insurance is taken out on a millionaire real estate investment.

Good news is that you can find many other solutions to avoid, or at lest minimize, tax on life insurance, including to make use of state exemption twice, understanding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows individuals to get one lifetime exemption over their estate. Therefore, married individuals can enjoy this benefit twice because the exemption applies for both spouses. However, depending on the conjugal situation of the homeowner, an example married for the second time, an ILIT or will is necessary to apply for this benefit.

Nonetheless, another good strategy to avoid estate tax on life insurance is removing your life insurance proceeds from your own estate, because these are often included in home insurance. In this case, the work around consists of reviewing the policy before purchasing life insurance, and make sure the beneficiary is the estate and that you do not possess by the time of your death any of those rights that your home ownerships grants you, such as right to assign, re-assign, or cancel the policy, among others. An estate-planning attorney can advise you on this topic and review your policy to ensure you can avoid this taxation.

Transferring the ownership of your estate or giving it away, is usually a good technique to deal with estate taxation on life insurance by reducing the tax amount in the proportion you are reducing your estate value this way. Giving away your estate is something that you will forcibly have to do when passing away, so why not take advantage by gifting your estate to the people you will give it to in your will.

There are many other strategies to avoid estate tax on life insurance, including getting your estate into a family limited liability company or family limited partnership to enjoy the benefit resulting from annual gift exemption and discounts, while removing part of your estate from life insurance without losing control over it. In this same fashion, you might consider donating part of you estate to charity, although this solution significantly reduces taxation over your estate, be aware that beneficiaries that you left in your will are going to receive less money from your policy, based on the proportional basis of your donation.

The most important thing to remember is that if you want to avoid estate tax on life insurance is to do some research and talk with an estate attorney to learn the best options available. Too many times, estate tax is passed on to beneficiaries if not taken from life insurance, ensuring you know the laws governing such actions will protect your heirs in the future or deal with the issue at the time of your death.

Author Bio: Larry Smith works for Lifeinsurancequotes.net a business that provides great quotes on life insurance.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: General Finances