Beginners Budgeting Basics

An awful lot of us are bad with money. When we’ve got it, we spend it. We accept credit cards when they are offered, and increase our limits when we can. We put things on credit because it’s easy, and even when we can afford to buy something outright, we take the finance option so that we don’t feel the loss.

If you’ve got a significant income, this can be fine. If you’ve got enough money that you can spend without worrying, you won’t get into trouble financially. But, it’s still a mistake. You won’t ever have savings, you might eventually need credit cards for bad credit because you are out of options, and you’ll struggle to make large purchases like buying a house. Then, one day you’ll realise that you’ve got nothing out aside for your retirement, and your options decrease further.

If you live paycheck to paycheck it’s even worse. Failure to take responsibility for your money can mean that you spend much more than you can afford to. Getting into debt is all too easy, and soon your debts can start to mount, making it impossible to get out. You can quickly find that by simply being bad with money, your options are vastly reduced, your debts have skyrocketed and your financial situation is dire. This won’t just affect you now. Severe damage to your credit score can mean that your future prospects are limited, and it can seem impossible to see a way out of your mess.

Fortunately, whatever your situation currently looks like, it’s never too late to make changes. The first should be learning to budget. Here are some tips to help you get started.

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Take Responsibility and Change Your Mindset

Yes, it’s easy to get into debt. Banks, loan companies and credit card companies are always offering you credit. When you make a large purchase, the offer of credit is there. If you’ve already got loans, credit cards and overdrafts, the companies will always want to find ways to give you more. This is how they make money. As someone with debt, you’re an ideal customer, they can make more from you.

But, this isn’t an excuse. Just because it’s easy to get into debt, doesn’t mean that you have to. Stop thinking “it’s ok, I’ll put it on credit” and start asking yourself “can I afford it right now?” And sometimes more importantly “do I need it?”. If you want to be better at budgeting, you first need to take responsibility and change your attitudes towards money, sometimes going against everything that society is telling you.

Assess Your Situation

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Are you guilty of avoiding bills and statements when you know it’s not good? You’re not alone. Most of us have at some point put an unopened statement straight into the bin. It’s even easier now that so many of us have gone paperless. Deleting emails or avoiding online accounts is easy.

But, it’s not going to help. Sure, short term, looking at your bills and statements might be upsetting and cause you worry and anxiety. But, long-term, it’s the only way to help yourself to make things better. You’ll also struggle to budget without really knowing what is going on in those accounts.

Free up a morning, or an afternoon. Sit down with a cup of coffee and no distractions. Print out your most recent bank statements and bills. Look at what you’ve got and what you owe. Take your time to really look into your financial situation. This is often the most crucial step in creating a budget and getting on top of any financial problems that you might have.

Organise Your Debts

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Few of us that are in debt only have one. You might have store cards, credit cards, loans and overdrafts. These debts aren’t all equal, and sometimes, the smaller debts are actually costing you the most money, so don’t assume that these are the best.

Now that you are aware of what you owe write a list. Write down every debt, its amount, its minimum repayment and its interest rates or fees. Look at how much each debt is costing you each month, how long it will take to repay at your current levels of repayment and how much it will cost you in total over its lifetime. By now, you should be able to see which debts are costing you the most money.

If any are interest and fee free, put them at the bottom on your list, but take note of how long that interest-free period will last, so you know when you will start to pay for them.

Find Ways to Decrease Debt

Then, it’s time to find ways to decrease these debts. Balance transfers are a great idea if you are eligible for an interest-free period and you can get the card. Debt consolidation loans are another great option, as the interest rates are much lower than credit cards and all your debts can move to one place. Just remember that even if you can only transfer a small amount of your money to an interest-free account, it’s worth doing as it will save you money.

If you are moving money like this, make a note of when that interest-free period ends. Try to pay off the debt before then, and if you can’t look at moving it again.

If these aren’t options for you, look at your accounts with the lowest interest and see if you could move debt from a higher interest account. When it comes to repayments, remember, even a little bit more than the minimum will help.

Prepare a Spreadsheet

Now you are in control of your debts. You understand your money. You need to actually build your budget. Prepare a simple spreadsheet and add everything. Add your income from wages and benefits as well as any other money that regularly comes into your account. Then, add all of your outgoings. Start with things that you have to pay each month, like rent and utilities. Then, add things that you often purchase, money towards holidays and luxuries, debt repayment, savings and luxuries. The more you include and the more accurate you can be, the more helpful your budget starts to become. Once a month sit down and look at your budget and your finances, make any changes that are necessary, don’t just assume that your budget will stay the same.

Find Ways to Save

You’ve taken control of your debts, you are making repayments, and you’ve got a budget. So now you can spot ways to save more easily. Look at those outgoings on your budget for any easy ways to save. Any contracts that you could cancel or reduce. Then, spend some time checking to see if you could make savings by switching providers.

Things like meal planning, writing shopping lists, shopping sales, preparing for holidays and events in advance and using less gas and electricity at home can also be a big help.

Set Financial Goals

Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself. If you’ve got debts, your first goals should be about paying them off. If not, start to focus on saving money. Try to have a long-term goal, like saving for a mortgage or paying off a credit card, and then break it down into monthly or weekly targets to help you to stay on track.

Be Realistic

Setting goals that you can’t manage can be demotivating. Push yourself but make sure you’re goals and realistic and you’ll have much greater success.

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Why a Portable Pocket Wifi Might Keep You Sane in Japan

Japan remains a tech giant, despite having been hit by a generations-long economic recession. It has some of the best internet infrastructure in the world, and it’s had it for longer than most countries in the world. That said, it’s critical to consider how you plan to stay connected when traveling or living in Japan.

While you can just use your mobile provider’s roaming service, we highly recommend you rent pocket wifi in Japan, or arrange for one to be delivered to you as soon as you arrive at the airport. There are several compelling reasons you’d rather rent a portable pocket wifi device than consider the alternatives, especially if you’re not planning to live in Japan for over a year.

Here are just a few reasons you should get a portable wifi device on your next trip.

Free wifi access is difficult to find

In contrast to most other developed countries, you won’t find reliable free wifi at most train stations and malls. When these are available, usually at hotels, they’re usually quite inconsistent due to the sheer number of people who may be using that connection. Having a pocket wifi device on hand makes it a snap to get connected wherever you may be.

You’ll find it easier to travel

Maps, street signs, and other important directions in Japan are of course, in hiragana and katakana. If you don’t have a good grasp of Japanese, it’s all too easy to get lost. This isn’t helped by the fact they also have an unusual map and address system that may vary depending on where you are. With a pocket wifi, you will spend more time at your intended location and less time getting lost.

There are no Offline Google Maps in Japan

In the Japanese market, Google does not allow the offline use of Google Maps, among many other things. Apple Maps also has its issues as well. With a ready internet connection, this problem becomes moot and it becomes incredibly simple to navigate around the country – particularly around the Japanese transit system, which can be quite confusing to visitors.

Countryside connectivity

Having an internet connection in the countryside is also a snap with a pocket wifi. Pocket wifi devices are still able to deliver a fast internet connection outside of cities, which is pretty incredible considering there are still cellphone dead zones in Japan. Without a pocket wifi, the only alternative would be to pay huge roaming charges, which can be unsustainable for many travelers.

Pocket wifi is cheaper than roaming

We all know how expensive data roaming can be. For travelers who need to be constantly connected, the final bill for a short trip could easily be hundreds of dollars, and it’s quite unsustainable for long-term travelers. A pocket wifi is a cheaper way to get online that allows you to connect more than one device to the internet. Contrast this with prepaid SIM cards, the other popular solution, which can only be used on one device.

The next time you go to Japan, just get a pocket wifi. Pocket Wifi rental companies like Japan Wifi Buddy can help you get connected as soon as you land in Japan, giving you peace of mind throughout your whole trip.

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Moving House For First Timers

Your family just have another addition and you suddenly realized it is time to leave the starter home your family have enjoyed for some time now. Aside from having kids grow up, you also added new pets to complete the whole picture. There is just no more room for everyone in the house. It is time to move to a bigger place. And your dream of owning a place near that fabulous winery like the one here might just come to a reality. You and your wife have saved enough so that the kids and fur babies can enjoy a bigger place to play and grow up to. So you scouted for a bigger house in a nice neighbourhood and community. You found the one that checks all the boxes you have set, including the special inspection you have asked a plumber friend to see if the pipes are all intact (and you can learn more today about pipes, HVAC, home maintenance, etc). You closed a deal with the realtor and all systems go. Then you realized one thing, how do you start the moving process? This is your first time to move so it is a good idea to have these simple pointers in mind to help you get by with your initial move.

Check out recommended movers in your current area

Scout for reliable and professional movers in your area. You can ask your friends, family, neighbours for any recommendations and start from there. Contact a few, request for their quote and inclusions for the rate and compare with other movers. Select the one that fits your preference and meets your requirements. This website is a good example of a professional mover you have to consider and may want to book for your moving requirement.

Contact the mover and sign a contract.

Start packing

One thing to consider packing is pack per room and label boxes as per room. While sorting through your possessions, remove unwanted items you can donate or sell or give to your family and friends. Aim to bring only the necessary and essentials to your new home. Start fresh.

Leave a carry-all bag for your basic needs until you move

Keep at least one carry-all bag for you and your family containing basic items such as toothbrushes, undergarments, few shirts, gadget chargers, etc. This is for your everyday use until you settle to your new home and opened some of the essential boxes for your family.

Unpack per boxes per room

To keep things organized and not have your things all over the place, unbox your boxes per room so it is easier to set them up and keep them on their proper places once you have unboxed all the remaining movers’ boxes.

And, when you’re all done arranging your stuff, relax and appreciate all the work you put into making your move as efficient as you can. Now, you can visualize yourself being here and sipping the best wine with your partner creating memories.

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Hiring Professionals To Do The Drainage Repairs At Home While Observing Safety Precautions

Many homeowners cut corners when doing their own home repairs or renovations. The mentality towards saving money than spending extra to hire the professionals to do the service is often being thrown out the window. They think that calling the nearby plumber and other handyman who does digging and patching of other homes can do the trick. A lot can be said about how saving so much in that process can actually hurt the repair of one’s home. One cannot just go online too and press “click now” and hire a contractor without knowing more about the company, the price, and what other customers have said about the company and their service.

When it is time to do major drainage repairs at home, it is wise to call the professionals and have them do the dirty work for us. Yes, this will cost money but imagine the long term benefits of having a professional do the work for you to ensure your home is repaired at the highest level of standards and materials used are of high quality and will last many years.

Having the professional team handle the repairs can actually be more beneficial than what other homeowners dispute because of the cost of the service provided. These professionals have been doing this for a living and they have been licensed to do as such. They know the ins and outs of drainage repair. They also have the proper tools to use to carry out the repairs. And on top of that, safety is given a high priority when conducting repairs and maintenance.

A good professional drainage repair company must be able to provide:

A price quote of the service

Professional service provider of house repairs and renovations must be able to provide a price quote or estimates of the drainage repair. This can either be sent through the mail or printed off and handed to the respective homeowner. The quote must have the cost of materials, service/labor, permits, extra miscellaneous expenses, methods of payment, etc. This quote will become finalized after the agreement of the homeowner to pay the amount stated on the quote.

Contract of the repair

An established contractor must be able to write up a contract of the cost, conditions, clauses, timelines or the drainage repair for the homeowner to agree and sign. The contract must be clear with all the conditions and timelines to be met and this document must be treated officially and homeowners must have a copy on hand for their record.

Repair timeline

Timeline of the repair must clearly discussed and observed in a written contract. It is very crucial for professional contractors who will provide the drainage repair service to honour the outline to avoid any inconvenience and extra cost for both the homeowner and service provider.

Install safety fixtures around the perimeter

A good professional drainage company must have fixtures and other safety equipment and tools to use to cover your perimeter and ensure that workers, homeowners, and the public are safe. Proper gears such as hard hats, overalls, gloves, safety shoes must be worn at all times during the repairs. Surrounding perimeter must be barricaded and dug holes must be covered with steel plates to prevent someone from falling or slipping. Click here now to see a sample of a steel plate or rug used for constructions.

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3 Important Reasons Why the Philippines Is a Hotspot for Freelancers

The Internet hasn’t just changed how we live our lives. It’s also changed how we work and how we do business. Indeed, the rise and development of apps and web-based services have built up a gig economy for a lot of jobs—both big and small. And this definitely goes beyond signing up for Uber so you can earn extra cash on the side by ferrying people.

These days, tasks that used to be handled by companies in-house can now be easily outsourced elsewhere in the world for a fraction of the cost. Yet worldwide, one country in Southeast Asia continues to get a lot of attention from enterprises that are looking for some freelancing muscle: the Philippines.

Business processes usually outsourced to this country include simple ones like data encoding and customer service. Meanwhile, higher tier freelancer positions have included graphic designer, virtual executive assistant, social media manager, and web developer jobs, as well as a number of others.

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There are many reasons why the Philippines has become a hotspot for freelancers. What follows are just three of the most important ones.

English Proficiency Is High Among the Region

Simply put, Filipinos have a high proficiency in English. As a matter of fact, the country is second only to Singapore in the English Proficiency Index among Asian countries. This presents a great opportunity for multinational companies who are looking to cut down on costs while still keeping the quality of work at a high level. This goes beyond merely hiring freelance writers. Other tasks like management, programming, and even accounting can be outsourced to willing freelancers who can communicate well and think on their feet.

And although there are other English-proficient countries in Southeast Asia, there’s one other factor that makes the Philippines a better choice for outsourcing, which leads us to our next reason.

The Cost of Living Is Relatively Low

When it comes down to it, all businesses want to minimize operating costs. Hiring freelancers from the Philippines helps achieve this thanks to two interrelated factors. In the country, both the minimum wage and the cost of living are quite low and competitive, with the average monthly family income in Metro Manila at the equivalent of around USD 760 in 2015. This is compared to around USD 4,800 in the United States.

Due to the comparative difference in living costs, the possible savings from outsourcing to the Philippines is very high. This is especially true when the low cost of manpower is combined with the following reason.

The Country Has a Huge Pool of Talent

Compounding the reduced cost of enlisting Philippines-based freelancers is the country’s big talent pool. And this goes beyond the country having a sizeable population of 100 million people to pick and choose from. The country also has a highly skilled and qualified workforce, with computer technology degrees being popular among young Filipinos. This alone makes the Philippines a great choice for seeking freelance programmers and web developers with good communication skills.

The amount of talent at your disposal can determine whether your company is on the trajectory towards success or not. Yet again, this is another area where the Philippines does not disappoint. And when this factor is combined with low wages, the country becomes a buyer’s market for businesses looking for freelancers to beef up their team.

A Final Word: The Talent Is Easy to Access

In addition to all of the previously stated factors, Philippine entrepreneurs have also long been aware of all of these benefits. Indeed, there have been numerous companies and organizations, such as freelance websites like Smalljobs.ph, who have helped bridge gaps between companies and freelancers. This is yet another factor that further helps out the local freelancer market in the Philippines, turning it into a must-tap resource—for all types of businesses.

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