The Financial Realities of Retirement

When you begin your first job, retirement seems so far away. It is easy to think that there are more priorities for your money than starting to save for a time so far head. Your immediate priorities may be to begin to pay off your student loan or buy your first automobile. As time goes by there is real estate then perhaps the costs of raising a family? Sometimes you might wonder whether there will ever be a time when you have a surplus at the end of each month when all your bills are paid. There is a time, however when you should sit down and think about how you are preparing for future retirement.

Set out the Picture

When you do that, you need to write down details of all your assets. It is obvious that you will include positive balances in any bank or retirement account. You may no longer have the equity in your real estate that you thought you had when the recession came along. However you need to include that equity, but it is important to be realistic. If you have investments, gold or silver or even valuable paintings you need to include these as well.

It is crucial that you take account of your financial liabilities including any personal loans, mortgages, and insurance. If you have Private Mortgage Protection (PMI) you should ask yourself whether you really need it; you certainly shouldn’t if you have paid off the bulk of your mortgage. That money could be better spent going into your retirement provisions.

Anything Obvious?

Once you have written everything down there may be some obvious courses of action. If you are carrying significant credit card balances and therefore paying a large amount of interest every month, you should be able to make savings. Today’s online lenders will listen to reasonable applications for loans. They are likely to approve an application if the applicant appears capable of making the installment payments throughout the term of the loan.

Obviously, if you earn more money each month, you will be able to put more way for the future. There are other ways to create more money by reducing your spending. You may always have had a new auto every few years. It is worth thinking whether you really need one so regularly. Indeed, used cars that have a good service record may be the answer without compromising on quality.

Urgency

The closer you are to retirement the more urgent is the need to plan. Some people are quite rightly nervous about the prospect of not working and having enough money for a comfortable life. If they have lived in the same neighborhood for years then moving out of familiar surroundings is difficult. However, there are good reasons to reduce monthly bills once regular income has dropped.  A smaller home is often the answer to the problem. Some people take the view that retiring in a nicer climate makes sense. It is not always wise to pick a regular holiday destination; living in such places full-time is different. However, it is certainly worth thinking about where to live in retirement and the financial implications involved.

Just Think Things Through

Everyone looks forward to a long and happy retirement. It does cost money to live in retirement. In some ways, it can be more expensive to live after finally finishing work and retirement. It’s not quite like being on permanent holiday, but it is possible to spend more during a day in retirement than when you were working full-time. As the years go by, life expectancy has increased. It is difficult to know how much money you will need to live in your later years because you will not know how many you have got.

That is all the more reason to think about doing as much as you can during your working life to provide for those later years. There is advice available, but ultimately it is down to the individual to decide the best way forward. What is certain is that it is far better to pay off any debt that is incurring high interest than to struggle on. If that means taking out a loan and dispensing with credit cards, then so be it.

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The Importance of Business Insurance: Reasons to Invest

It doesn’t matter what industry your business operates in, it is crucial that you invest heavily in protecting and safeguarding its assets. People often only associate insurance with certain industries, however, you’d be pressed to find any enterprise than wouldn’t benefit from insuring their assets. There are numerous ways that you can achieve this, whether it is generalized cover or very specific insurance.

It’s important you consider the following when looking for insurance. It pays to do your research and spend time making sure you are getting the best deal. Otherwise, you may find that you either overspend or you are not covered for everything you need to be.

  1. Accident or Injury

Every workplace has casualties, whether you own a factory driven operation or one that is office based. Businesses that operate out of an office may think this type of cover doesn’t relate to them but that’s not necessarily the case. Even small local SMEs should look into this as it could cause issues if someone does get injured and you have no cover. The simple act of an employee injuring themselves in the workplace can have devastating consequences, both in terms of long-term sickness and financial damages. Public liability and other forms of insurance can help to protect your business and reduce pay-outs in instances where you are not at fault. Without this, you are liable to pay over the odds even for minor injuries.

  1. Assets – Physical and Virtual

Business has changed a lot with the growth of the internet. Now almost every business has a broader range of assets. Even a domain name can be worth millions and businesses need to know how to protect these kind of things. An ecommerce site could generate big revenues per day so any problems with the site could result in big losses. While there is an increased focus on virtual assets and online insurance, it is important to understand the importance of protecting your businesses physical assets as well. These include anything you own, from your main office space to any facilities that you may own. Insurance coverage can protect you in the event of fire, vandalism and even acts of international terrorism. While this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it is one that can deliver huge peace of mind and it is also particularly ideal for firms with international offices. This may be more relevant to certain industries. For example, if you work in the energy sector, cover such as that provided by Catlin, protects you for working in that sector, detailing specific things related to energy and power.

  1. The right Image

Creating the right image for your business is very important. Customers need to be reassured that you are a serious business and insurance is a clear indicator of that. It’s more important than ever to gain the trust of your target market so you need to make an effort in any way you can.

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How the Pension Reforms Will Affect You

The 6th April marked the official introduction of some major reforms to the pensions system. Investment charges have been re-examined, an auto-enrolment scheme has been rolled out, and the ability to pull money from pensions has been completely redefined. With practically every aspect of saving for retirement scrutinised and changed by the government, almost all of us stand to benefit from reassessing our pension arrangements in light of these alterations, so which of these changes do you most need to know about?

Increased Freedom 

One of the most important changes implemented by the Conservative government has been to give people greater power over how they spend, save or invest their retirement pots. You’ll now find that you’re able to access your entire pension fund from the age of 55. Additionally, you’ll no longer be limited to removing 25 per cent of your pension pot tax-free on only one occasion; you’ll be able to make as many withdrawals as you wish.

Free Guidance 

An additional move by the government has been to introduce free money guidance to advise people on their options and how the changes will affect them. Although these sessions will not offer personalised advice, they will provide expert general guidance to help inform your decisions.

New Products 

These changes will also mean that a number of new pension products will be made available to those considering their retirements. New income drawdown schemes, in particular, look likely to see a surge in popularity thanks to changes in their format. These alterations will mean that they’re no longer only available to those with a certain amount of other guaranteed income, and that people may be able to invest in them alongside an existing work pension.

Tax Opportunities 

These reforms have been accompanied by a flurry of tax changes, foremost among them the ability for pensioners to pass on the remainder of their pension pots to loved ones tax-free. Many will welcome this, as the children of deceased pensioners must currently pay a 55 per cent tax on their inheritance. Now, those with a parent under 75 will not pay any tax at all, whilst those with an older parent will only be taxed at their current income tax level.

Increased State Pensions 

State pensions have also been altered, which means a 2.5 per cent increase in income for those currently receiving them. This means that those reaching retirement can now expect £115.95 per week. A ‘triple lock’ has also been introduced, which means that payments will increase by whatever percentage is the highest out of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.  In addition, the two-tier system also looks set to be phased out, with the intention that everyone should receive a ‘flat rate’ state pension of between £144 and £155 a week by 2021.

How will these changes affect you?

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Talking about Earth Day with your kids

I’m blown away by a video that poet and rapper, Prince Ea, did for Stand for Trees. It is quite simply the most poetic expression of pure truth, here on Earth Day 2015. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch this incredible call to action…then continue the conversation in the comments.

I showed my kids the video this morning, and I think they were really moved. I realized recently that I’ve been so wrapped up in raising three kiddos and launching my part-time businesses that I haven’t really had “the talk” with them about environmental issues and my previous (and now regenerated) passion for sustainable living. I’m sure there are more conversations to follow, but this was a good starting place for a conversation.

After twenty-five years of calling myself an environmentalist, I’m finally ready to take my sustainability commitment to the next level. It’s unconscionable not to at least give this planet our best try, and I actually think it will be inspiring to create a “global warming of our hearts.” I know my kids would love to be part of the solution and have bright and shining spirits to share with the world. This is just the beginning, a new leaf.

I wasn’t familiar with Stand for Trees, but there website is really impressive and there programs and impacts are explained very clearly. They seem to have a really savvy approach. I’m hopefully they will be part of the solution. Green Empowerment, the non-profit organization Miel leads, is another group poised to make a powerful positive impact on our planet. Their work is already underway, we just need to support them.

So, I’m committing this Earth Day 2015 to offset my family’s carbon footprint 100% by 2020.

Sorry, but I’m not ready to apologize.

What are you going to stand for?

How will you offset your impact and work together to fix this thing?   

With light and love,

Darcy

The Basics of Home Security

Your home is more than just an investment: it’s the place your family lives and grows, and where you and your loved ones should feel your safest and most secure. So, as a homeowner, parent and responsible adult, how can you protect your home and family? How can you prevent burglaries, theft, home invasions and other dangerous scenarios?

The Fundamentals of Home Security

The basics of home security may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how many break-ins occur as a result of unlocked doors or windows. In fact, more than 25% of burglaries in the United States are no-force break-ins. That said, the importance of secure locks and deadbolts cannot be understated. What’s more, it’s not enough to lock your doors when you’re away or asleep; to prevent home invasions and daytime burglaries, make sure your whole family gets into the habit of keeping doors and windows locked at all times.

Home security systems are also a safety fundamental. And, in addition to deterring crime, modern systems, like these home security systems in Florida, offer added benefits like motion detectors, smoke alarms and other hi-tech features, all designed to keep your property safe and secure. So, to protect both your home and loved ones, investing in a home system is just good common sense

Thinking Like a Criminal

In addition to basic security measures, thinking like a would-be criminal can help you ramp up the safety of your home. Use these tips to reduce your risk of being victimized:

  • Keep valuables out of sight. Step outside your home and see if any valuables are visible from the outside. Can you see electronics, works of art, etc. from the yard or porch? If so, invest in some window treatments, and stop enticing would-be burglars.
  •  Secure outdoor items. Motorcycles, tools and even children’s toys can attract burglars. Keep these items locked away, and be sure to keep your garage and outdoor storage spaces secure, as well.
  •  Know who’s in your home. Conduct thorough background checks before you hire someone to do work on your house or property. Also, after strangers have been in your home, check to make sure that all windows and possible entrances are locked and secure. Many burglars enter a home under innocent pretenses, then unlock a door or window so that they can return at a later date.
  •  Make sure your home looks occupied. If you plan on being away from home for an extended period, making your home look occupied can deter would-be criminals. Use timers for your lights, have a neighbor pick up newspapers and mail, and make sure all blinds and curtains are closed.
  •  Keep your lawn and hedges neat. Tall bushes, trees and overgrown shrubbery can serve as hiding spots for burglars and other criminals; therefore, you should keep everything neat and maintained.

Forming a Neighborhood Watch Group

Neighborhood watch groups can be extremely useful in preventing theft, burglaries, vandalism and other types of crime. If your community already has a watch group, sign up and lend a helping hand; if not, talk to your neighbors about your community’s need for added crime protection. Canvas your neighborhood, and suggest a meeting spot where residents can brainstorm ideas on keeping your area safer and more secure.

Your home and family deserve the best in safety and security. And with the tips provided here, you can protect your property and loved ones, and reduce the risks associated with burglaries, home invasions and other types of emergencies.

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