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Teaching Kids the Importance of Money

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Financial education is crucial. The last thing we want to see is our kids growing up and needing debt help before they even get started in life. Unfortunately, we are not teaching our kids the importance of their finances early enough. This is something that needs to be addressed. After all, managing one’s finances is a fact of life. We have to prepare our children for that reality as early as possible.

Here are a couple of things parents can do to introduce the idea of financial responsibility to their children.

Teach them Early

In order for kids to understand the value of something, they have to experience it themselves. So, even at an early age give your kids the chance to pay for things. It can be as simple as a weekly treat. This is so that they understand that once you spend money, it’s gone.

Encourage them to Save

Give your child a chance to pick something they really want, and encourage them to save up for it. For older kids, consider letting them open a savings account of their own. This way, they will see the value of setting aside money for practical use.

These are just a few of the things parents can do to teach their children the importance of personal finances.

6 Important tips for choosing the best cryptocurrency exchange

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Investing in cryptocurrency has become all the rage and more and more people are interested in learning how to get in on the newest way to make money.

Digital currency is becoming more popular with every passing day which means that there are many platforms being created that give you the ability to trade, exchange, or purchase cryptocurrency. The trouble is that because there are so many, it can be a challenge to determine which is the best one to use to conduct your business.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to choose a cryptocurrency exchange so that you can find one that will fit your needs and investment goals.

Location of the exchange

It is important to know where your exchange of choice is located because every state or country has their own laws and policies regarding the purchase of cryptocurrency. Ideally, it is in your best interest to utilize an exchange that is located in your home country.

The reason for this is that you will be able to conduct business in your home currency. However, if you are interested in conducting business with an exchange that is not based in your home country, be sure to review their terms and conditions. The fine print of terms and conditions can be helpful in understanding how the exchange works and will provide details as to what currencies are are accepted.

What forms of payment are accepted?

Before you commit to doing business with an exchange, it is important that you take into consideration the types of payments that are accepted. It would be a detriment to spend time on an exchange to only find out that the payment method you wanted to use is not accepted at checkout. Many exchanges accept major credit cards, wire transfers, cash or Paypal. If you are concerned about your privacy, you may want to conduct business with cash.

However, if you are not worried about anonymity, a credit card transaction will be fine. It is important to note that the payment type can come with its own set of fees. For example, some exchanges will charge a small fee if you choose to pay via credit card whereas a wire transfer or cash payment may be free.

The bottom line is that it is important to do your research and find out what fees are involved as well as what types of payments are accepted.

Exchange fees and volume requirements?

While we briefly mentioned the notion of exchange fees above, it is important to mention it again as exchange fees can vary from minute to minute based on the change in rates and market fluctuation. Fees also can vary between exchanges.

For example, if you have been working with exchange A but now want to work with exchange B, it is important to check their fee structure as it could be different from exchange A. In addition to checking the exchange fees and rates, you want to also make sure that you understand the volume requirements.

Some exchanges require that you purchase a minimum amount while others do not.

How fast can you receive your currency after purchase?

If you plan to invest a great deal of money into the crypto market, you will likely want to know how long it will take before your currency will appear. One thing you may want to look for when choosing an exchange is the idea of “locked in pricing.”

Locked in pricing means that the price you agree to pay when making the purchase is the actual price of the coins even if it takes several days for them to arrive. Some exchanges will charge you a different rate if it is higher on the delivery date than when you made the initial purchase.

Security

When choosing an exchange, make sure that it is secure. This is a critical component as you do not want to deal with having your identify or funds stolen while making a transaction. Be sure to look for an exchange site that uses an HTTPS instead of an HTTP. HTTPS is an immediate indicator that the site is secure. To take it a step further, some exchanges offer a 2-factor authentication sign in system.

Reputation

If you have friends who are also exchanging cryptocurrency, be sure to get their opinion of the best exchanges available. IN addition, do some research and find out if there have been any cases of fraudulent transactions.

There are many forums available online that feature consumer reviews and helpful information that can serve as great advice to you when selecting an exchange.

There is much to think about when investing your money into digital currency. To help you identify the best exchange, be sure to access websites like Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges as they are useful because they compare and review a large number of exchanges in one place.

Life Insurance For People Over 80 – Is It Worth It?

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When it comes to getting life insurance the general rule is the younger the better, however, life insurance companies for seniors over 80 do exist. They might be harder to find but don’t be put off they are out there.

But the other question you need to ask yourself is whether a life insurance for some over 80 is going to be worth it? This is a tricky one to answer and it really all depends on your own individual circumstances but in a general sense, I would say yes, it is worth it.

Life insurance provides many great benefits it will protect your family, help towards funeral/ memorial costs and best of all it will give you extra peace of mind. There are also many different variants of life insurance available, so you can get cover for what you need.

Now the older you are the smaller the coverage will generally be however people are living a lot longer now so that doesn’t mean you should think getting life insurance when you’re 80 is a pointless endeavour. After all, you could still live a happy and healthy life for many years to come so getting a life insurance policy can still hold many benefits.

What Options Do I Have? 

So, what options do you have if you’re over 80 and want to get a life insurance policy? Well, the good news is you have plenty of options available, you might not have everything a younger person would have when it comes to policy options but there’s still a variety of policy plans available.

Life insurance policies for people aged over 70 are very popular in the United States right now and there is definitely a growing demand in the market. Depending on your needs you might be able to get coverage for many different things, but this will result in a higher premium, so you will need to consider whether it is worth it.

The next area you’re probably wondering about is whether you need a medical examination or not. This again really depends on your insurer however in the majority of cases an insurer will want you to submit to a medical examination before they agree to a policy.

However, you may still be able to purchase an insurance policy without one if you’re willing to pay an extra cost. But not all insurers will be willing to provide this service either. Either way, one of the things you should be sure to do is scout the field and don’t be afraid to refuse an offer.

Life insurance is a very competitive field, especially with older people. Like I mentioned earlier more and more older people are looking for life insurance and that gives you an advantage. Many insurers will be willing to negotiate with you on the price especially if you can show them a better plan somewhere else.

Don’t be afraid to haggle and negotiate with insurers in the past many insurance agents and companies would only offer limited options for older people. But nowadays with people living much longer agents and insurance companies have rethought their policies and plans and they will be much more willing to negotiate with you.

How Can I Make My Policy Cheaper?

We’ve talked a lot about the expense of life insurance for people over 80 because it’s obversely going to be one of the main deciding factors behind whether you get a policy or not. And while negotiating with insurers can help there are a number of other ways you can help make your policy cheaper.

Making a few lifestyle changes can have a big impact on the cost of your policy, now we know this might not always be easy especially for older people, but you don’t have to suddenly run a marathon or anything extreme. A few simple changes to your diet could have a big impact on your health and help you cut the cost of your policy.

If you smoke or drink alcohol regularly then you should cut that down right away. Some insurers may not even grant you a policy if you smoke. But remember it isn’t just your physical health you need to worry about. You also need to consider your mental wellbeing as well. So, try to avoid stress whenever possible and you could even try mediation or light exercise.

Getting regular health check-ups is also advisable as well and because it’s highly likely you’ll need to attend a check-up before you get your policy this can help you ensure you’re in good shape. Remember balance and moderation are key so don’t overdo it.

So, What’s The Answer Is Life Insurance For People Over 80 Worth It?

Well, we’ve looked at all the main points people aged over 80 need to consider if they want to get health insurance. There aren’t as many options but more than there used to be, and people are living longer after all. So, don’t think there’s no point in attempting to get life insurance simply because you think you are too old because too many insurers you aren’t.

There are many benefits to getting life insurance even when you’re a senior you can help your family towards funeral costs, help repay debts, and give your children/ grandchildren a more prospers future and much more.

So, yes getting life insurance if you’re over 80 is usually worth it for the majority of people. The world is changing and just because you’re over 80 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt getting life insurance if you think it would be beneficial to you.

Yes, it might take a little longer to find a policy but if you scout all the plans available and clearly explain what you want you might be surprised by what you find available. Just because you are 80 or over doesn’t mean you should miss out on the many benefits life insurance offers so in my opinion yes you should definitely consider it.

Simple answers to your questions about Blockchain technology

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It’s been hard to miss the excited talk about Blockchain technology in tech news over the past year or so – with exceptional new minds and applications coming to the fore.

But there’s no getting around it, Blockchain is a complex subject and only very few truly understand the depth of it’s workings and applications. With that in mind, we’ve taken 8 of the most popular questions about Blockchain and distilled the answers down into understandable bitesize chunks…

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a decentralised currency ledger.

To understand how blockchain works, it’s important to get a quick understanding of how traditional currency ledgers work:

Currently, a bank or government controls a ledger – a central record of transactions with the chosen currency. When a change is made, it’s this central ledger that’s updated – and you trust the bank or government to do that accurately.

Now, instead of being held centrally, imagine if that ledger was spread over a huge network of computers, owned and administered by people right around the world. Every copy of that ledger has to correspond with all the others – and transactions from every corner of the globe are recorded and verified with every other copy of the ledger. There is no trust needed in this type of system – as it’s constantly checked against the copies for accuracy. This is effectively what a blockchain is.

Who created blockchain and Bitcoin?

Although blockchain is the foundation technology that underpins Bitcoin, it was actually Bitcoin that came first – on the 3rd January 2009.

It’s still something of a mystery who created Bitcoin – with speculation that the moniker ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ is actually a group of innovative minds that imagined the concept then brought it to the world.

Bitcoin was a really just a currency experiment when it began, released as open-source software in 2009 – and designed to remove the ‘middleman’ needed to administer physical currency transactions.

Who controls a blockchain?

Quite simply – no one.

No one person can control blockchain technology. When blockchain tech was created, the original protocols and ways of operating were set in stone – and cannot be manipulated, because of the way a blockchain develops.

Everyone has access to the entire ledger – at all times. The infrastructure that underpins the technology is scattered around the world – and cannot be reigned in by any organisation who would seek to control it.

How does the blockchain generate Bitcoins?

You might have heard the term ‘Bitcoin mining’ – this is the quick reference term used for the process needed to generate more Bitcoins. Rather than offering any resemblance to mining – a more accurate term would be ‘problem solving’.

The computers around that world that hold copies of the Bitcoin blockchain also solve the mathematical problems that are required to expand the blockchain and create new coins. When they do this, they’re rewarded with Bitcoins. This effectively creates an incentive for people to verify and build the blockchain.

The maths problems underpinning the blockchain started out comparatively simple when compared to the ‘mining’ required today. As the blockchain grows, so does the complexity of the verification needed to create more Bitcoins. As such, incredibly high-powered computers are now required to solve these problems.

The power and hardware needed to mine Bitcoins is now out of reach for most individuals – so instead, groups of miners pool their resources and tackle problems collectively. When problems are solved – the individuals are rewarded for the amount of effort they and their systems have put in.

Can blockchain technology be trusted?

The short answer would be yes – and that’s because no one has any more power than anyone else using the blockchain.

And, as we’ve already covered, no one has any power whatsoever. So, in a system with no power, no power or influence can be leveraged to make changes. What’s more, a blockchain creates the rules through which you interact. In short, there is no trust needed – with the ledger spread across hundreds of thousands of computers (all verifying the current position) – trust takes a back seat to a ‘consensus’ based system.

Does it make currency anonymous?

No matter how many scare stories you hear in the media, the Bitcoin blockchain is not anonymous. In fact, transactions are ‘owned’ and attributable probably more so than virtually any other currency in the world.

There’s an idea of anonymity because it’s not easy to work out who’s sent your Bitcoin – whereas your bank or PayPal system sees a very definite name and account number that the transaction has come from. The best cryptocurrency exchanges are quick to point out that blockchain tech actually eliminates the chance of financial fraud – so in some ways is a much less appealing option for criminals than current infrastructure.

With Bitcoin, the companies who store it do know who you are – and as with any company, their records can be accessed by law enforcement. Hence, the large criminal networks that have operated with Bitcoin at their core are generally no more – or can be brought down fairly quickly when transactions are scrutinised.

What are the other applications for the technology?

While blockchain is currently associated with financial areas – that’s not to say this is the full extent of what’s possible.

Where a record is required to be kept – it could potentially be done with a blockchain. There’s a record kept votes cast, contracts signed, healthcare administered, property owned, rights of movement across borders, marriages – and so much more.

Blockchain would decentralise all of these records and instead, seek a consensus from every ledger copy that the information being created is consistent with information that’s gone before.

Can blockchain by compromised or hacked?

Well, here’s the thing. You could put a tremendous amount of effort into changing the ledger so you benefit from the transactions, rather than the intended recipient.

This requires a few things though.

Firstly, you’d have to do the complex calculations that are required to chain all of the previous blocks of calculations together. When you’ve recalculated these blocks, you’d then have to convince the rest of the blockchain that your transactions were valid (even though every other copy says otherwise)

The word you’re looking for now is ‘impossible’ – there are so many checks in place to ensure this doesn’t happen – that it’s just not feasible to ‘hack’ the network.

Getting (and staying) in control of your debt – a complete guide

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Does trying to tackle your debt problem feel like the last thing you want to do?

What if we told you you’ll feel an enormous sense of relief if you just follow the steps we’re laying out in this guide?

You’re absolutely not alone if you’re worried about debt, at any one time in the country around 1 in 6 of us are facing debt that looks as if it will never go away – arrears, reminders and worse, without the income to get us from one month to the next paying it all.

It’s difficult to know where to start when you’re tackling financial problems – but follow these steps and you’ll be closer to having control of your finances back by the end…

  1. Find people who’ll support you

Part of the reason people ‘bury their heads in the sand’ and ignore debt is because it’s genuinely frightening to face up to the problem.

However, there’s a big issue with putting this pain off – the debt will chase you – and no matter how much you want it to go away, it’s going to catch up with you, and you’ll often owe an increasing amount of money the longer you put it off.

It can really help to have some allies on your side. We recommend starting with a friend or family member who’ll offer you some non-judgemental support. Even if all they do is chat to you on the phone or come around for a coffee while you’re working through paperwork and calls – it’s nice to have someone there who’s ‘on your side’.

There are some great companies who’ll help you too – even if you’re not going to chat with them on the phone. As an example, here Face The Red reviews nationaldebtrelief.com – so if you think you’re going to need to seek professional support with your debt, you’ve got people who’ve done some of the legwork for you, working out who are reputable companies you can approach.

  1. Get an understanding of where you are with money

It’s really important to get a true understanding of where you are with debt right now.

This might feel painful – but you’re not going to be able to handle the problem unless you’ve got a very real understanding of what you owe, who you owe it to and when it needs to be paid. You don’t have to pay it all right now – but you do need to know the important facts and figures.

Gather all the paperwork that relates to money you owe and start making a list – on it you should note:

  • Who you owe money to
  • The most recent amount they say you owe
  • Account numbers and reference numbers

It’s helpful to have this in one place rather than scattered around in different letters. It’s worth adding to this list any money that you may owe friends and family too, there might not be agreements in place, but at this stage you need to know where you are.

  1. Work out what’s the most pressing debt

There are some types of debt that are more pressing then others. This doesn’t mean prioritising debt that companies are shouting the loudest for – instead, understanding what you’ll get in the most serious legal trouble for if it goes unpaid.

Money owed for any of the following should be prioritised before any others:

  • Rent or mortgage costs
  • Gas and electric bills
  • Court fines
  • Police issued fines and penalties
  • Income tax, national insurance or VAT
  • TV licence
  • Council tax

The debts above have more serious consequences than any other types of debt – including credit cards, overdrafts, unsecured loans, water bills, benefit overpayments, phone bills – etc. You’ll still need to pay everything off – just understand which you should deal with first.

  1. Put a quick budget together

When it comes to paying debts off, you’re going to need to understand truly how much you can pay – as it’s no use committing to a certain amount – only to find out you can’t repay it the following month.

To do this you’re going to need to create a budget.

Work yours out by noting down all the income that comes into your home. When you’ve got that, make a list of all your essential outgoings – by essential we mean the things you absolutely cannot live without, i.e. utilities, rent, food and clothing costs, work related travel costs – and so forth.

By taking away the ‘essential costs’ figure from your ‘income’ figure you’ll be left with an amount known as your ‘disposable income’ – money that is left over when the essentials are covered. Your creditors might want to see this working out – and they also might want you to prove it to them, so they know you’re paying back as much as you can.

  1. Deal with priority debt

Now, you’re going to need to talk to the companies you owe money to – but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be nearly as bad as you think.

Don’t forget, these companies want you to pay them – so in most cases they’re going to be extremely understanding and work with you to put together a plan that means they’re recovering some of their money.

The fact that you’re working through your finances and actually talking to companies puts you in a strong position. Don’t forget, a lot of the other people they’re trying to deal with are just not answering their calls. You should commit to paying off priority creditors on a ‘fair’ basis – i.e. paying as much as possible while ensuring you’re making a contribution to each.

  1. Talk to non-priority creditors

After you’ve talked to your priority creditors, you should then move on to talking with the lower priority companies you owe money to. Let them know that you understand that your priority debts need to come first but that you’re serious about paying them back. Even a small contribution to the debt is better than nothing – especially if it’s made with a commitment to keep an open line of communication.

Where possible you should make payments to creditors as quickly as possible – ideally on the day you talk to them. That said, it’s not always possible – so don’t put off starting this process just because your account balance is low – instead, be clear with dates and make sure you stick to them.

It might not feel like a joyous process to work your way through, but when you’re done you’ll get some respite from the letters and phone calls – and hopefully sleep a little more soundly knowing things are on their way to getting better financially.

8 ways to prepare your finances for retirement

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Maybe you’re reading this nearing retirement age – then again, you might be glancing through in your 20s or 30s.

Either way, now is the right time to think about retirement.

When you reach retirement age, you deserve to be able to relax about your money situation – but that’s not going to happen by accident. If you want to make sure your money matters are in order – follow these 8 steps…

  1. Work out your retirement income

If you’re going to start looking at what life looks like post-retirement you’re going to need to know exactly what’s going to be hitting your account each week or month.

Start by getting some pension statements – including a government pension statement. This will give you an idea of how your state pension looks – and includes a breakdown of all your national insurance contributions to date.

Effectively, working out your retirement income is a little like drawing up a projected budget – think about income, outgoings and what’ll be left – before weighing up whether that’s going to allow for the lifestyle you want.

  1. Get your pensions in order

This might seem like an obvious step but there’s sometimes a little more to getting your pensions in order than you might realise.

People often lose track of their pensions – especially in the modern world of changing workplaces and fluid career paths. If you think this might be the case, you can use a pension tracing service to get the full picture.

Be careful though, you don’t have to pay to track you pensions down – while there are some good paid services out there, there’s also a free alternative Pension Tracing Service provided by the government.

  1. Clear your debt

If it’s at all possible, starting retirement with no significant debt is a massive step in the direction of financial freedom.

The chances are, the ‘incomings’ part of the budget you’ve put together is going to be lower post-retirement than it was when you were in work, so debt will make up a greater percentage of your financial picture if it sticks around.

Get a full picture of everything you owe – then, look at the interest rates you’re paying on each amount. While it’s important you continue to pay your repayments, it’s beneficial to prioritise debts with the biggest interest rate first. For more in-depth advice, look over the advice on How to Get Out of Debt Fast in 2017 (New Edition).

There’s a chance that taking a lump-sum from your pension might go a long way toward paying your debts – if not clearing them totally. While it’s tempting to do so – ensure you seek professional advice before making a solid decision. While the lump sum and no debt might be tempting, you might be worse off in the long run.

  1. Look at what you might be entitled to

Upon reaching retirement age it’s worth talking to the department of work and pensions to see if there’s any additional support you might be entitled to.

It’s not a certainty that your situation will mean you qualify – but if your income drops below a certain level, you’re struggling with your health or you’re supporting someone else who struggles with their health – you might be able to access support.

  1. Make a will

If you’re looking at overhauling your finances on the approach to retirement, it’s well worth making sure your will is in keeping with the changes.

Assumptions about your estate can lead to be problems when your will is read, so clarity at this stage is absolutely vital. Even assumptions that are correct can pan out a lot more smoothly when an accurate will is in place – reducing stress at an already difficult time for your family.

  1. Don’t take any risks with your savings

As you approach retirement, the dwindling amount of time you have before you start to access your pension provisions means it’s often a good idea to reduce any risk that’s associated with the money that’s being put aside.

Look into the type of pensions you have – personal pensions, stakeholder pensions or a workplace pension are all likely to have some kind of investment behind them – and investments are not a ‘sure thing’.

You’ll find that some pensions automatically reduce the risk that bolsters their return as retirement age approaches – but not all do this, so it’s worth checking if you’re not certain.

Ideally, this is a step to take between 10-12 years prior to retirement age – and it is often a good time to be taking professional pension advice at the same time.

  1. Budget for retired life

Now, you might think that we’ve already covered ‘budgeting’ – but this is a little different and more lifestyle based – rather than numbers based!

Generally speaking, it costs more money to be retired than it does to maintain life while you’re working. There’s a variety of reasons for this – it might be driven by your desire to take up new hobbies or pass times, or maybe your decision to engage in a slightly more leisurely lifestyle – with more holidays and days out.

Either way, projecting some costs is important. It might sound like it’ll take the joy out of your plans, but actually, a little financial discipline can equal a lot of leisure freedom.

  1. Think about work

Think about work they say! As if you haven’t been doing enough thinking about work for the years leading up to your planned retirement!

Retirement means different things to different people. Perhaps it for you it means endless days in the garden or on the golf course – but that’s not for everyone. For a lot of people it’s just about a change in pace – and taking low pressure part time work often ticks that box nicely – while maintaining some level of income.

There’s might not be any pressure to work when you’re retired, but if finances would be more comfortable with a little bit of extra income, then it’s certainly an option that’s worth exploring.

Are You Safe Following The Equifax Hack?

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It has been around 3 months since Equifax dropped the bombshell that was their security breach, and the subsequent theft of the personal details of over 145 million of their trusting customers.

In the days and weeks that followed, millions of us have taken taken steps to protect ourselves in the future but that is not the only thing that happened. For a start, Equifax was hit a second time, with their website redirecting to malware, and a contract with the IRS for Equifax to provide taxpayer identity verification services was put on hold; safety and security aside, the irony may well have proved to be too much.

The question on the lips of many consumers now, in the wake of the Equifax hack, is “can I still safely apply for a credit card?”. The short answer is yes, so long as you protect yourself, but many people may feel safer applying for a personal loan instead – take a look at LendingPoint Personal reviews for inspiration – instead, or something similar. There is nothing wrong with that approach, indeed in many cases a personal loan is just what is needed.

Life after Equifax: Handling your credit card applications

It would seem that trust has not diminished that much (overall that is, Equifax still has a lot to claw back) since a poll conducted by SSRS found that 81% of the people they spoke to would still consider signing up for a new credit card in the future.

Make no mistake, the Equifax breach was huge and affected more than 145 million people. It now appears that more than social security numbers and dates of birth were taken; full names, driver’s licence numbers, addresses, credit numbers with more besides were also stolen. However, people are still able to use existing cards and even apply for new lines of credit, including cards, with appropriate measures of protection:

Be sure of the site’s security

The first thing that you should ever do, before entering any information – however innocuous it may seem – is to make sure that the site you are on is secure. This is fairly easy to do by looking for a padlock icon in the address bar of your browser window. The padlock should be closed, which indicates the certificate is up to date, and the address itself should begin with “https” as opposed to “http”. Neither of these things can be spoofed, so they are good starting points.

Always take emails offering credit card deals with a pinch of salt

Opportunists love emails, and phishing scams are getting more sophisticated. There is always the chance that hackers have stolen your email address in order to entice you into signing up with your personal details. Scammers will then use these details to order cards of their own. Always verify ‘offers’ on a secure site, not through an email.

Sign up for alerts with your bank / card issuer

One way to protect yourself is by having your bank or your card issuer alert you to password change attempts, every time a withdrawal is made, when your account reaches a certain balance… There are several other custom alerts that can be configured, and these should be discussed with a representative who will be only too happy to help you.

Consider two-factor authentication

Upon opening a new account, anywhere and with anyone, get yourself setup with two-factor authentication to double down on your login security. As an example, when you login with your regular details you may have a one time code sent to your cell that needs to be entered into the site before it will allow you to continue. Many online services offer this layer of security too, not just banks, so consider locking those down also to protect yourself even further.

Check up on your credit report

You can grab a free copy of your report from one or even all of the credit agencies, once every twelve months – getting one from all 3 means you can stagger them and get a report every four months. Requesting these reports is pretty straightforward, and can be done at the website of Annual Credit Report. Going over your credit report, keep your eye out for things that don’t look right:

  • Names don’t match
  • Credit enquiries from lenders you didn’t apply to
  • Accounts you didn’t open

There are others that will stand out to you if you are diligent.

Monitor your credit report

The first thing you should note is that credit monitoring, by its nature, is reactive not proactive. In other words, you can only take action once something has already happened – that being said, it does give you the chance to act sooner rather than later. If something out of the ordinary is discovered, you will be able to take steps to correct or remove it. Credit monitoring is the next best option to credit freezing, especially if you plan on taking out a credit card or other financial product.

Credit freezing

Credit freezing is a step up from monitoring and is also seen as being the ‘nuclear’ option. This measure of last resort withdraws your report right of the games, making it impossible for anybody (even you) to view it until you unfreeze it. Making the report unavailable for viewing makes it impossible for financial products to be applied for, protecting you in a very real way. This may not be the best option for everybody but it does protect you fully from financial fraud.

Protection is everything

When almost half of the American population affected by the Equifax data theft, there is an extremely good chance that you, or somebody you know has had their personal information stolen. It is a sobering thought, to be sure, but there is no reason for you to go all John Connor and go off grid just yet.

You, and everybody else, can still apply for financial services and products safely, so long as steps are taken to protect yourself, your existing accounts and any that you may take open in the future.

Our Top 5 Finance Tips If You’ve Suffered A Personal Injury

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After suffering a personal injury even one that you believe to be relatively minor you should always get it checked out because even a less serious injury could result in you being out of work for a long period of time, that’s not evening taking into account the emotional stress it could cause.

More serious personal injuries could also mean that you could easily be off work for months or might not even be able to return to work at all! These might not be common, but it can happen, and any kind of personal injury whether serious or minor is going to impact your finances.

The financial impact of a personal injury is not going to be your first concern and that’s understandable. When you suffer a personal injury you’re not going to instantly be thinking about your bills are you? But the impact an injury can have on your finances can hugely affect your recovery and mental health.

It’s all added stress that you could do without, isn’t it? But we can help below we’ve outlined 5 tips that will help get your finances under control after you’ve suffered a personal injury. This way you can focus on your recovery and on getting your life back on track.

Make A Claim

An unfortunate pattern that many people fall into when they suffer a personal injury is that they blame themselves. You might think “well I was clumsy,” or “I should have been paying more attention” but when you’ve been injured, and it wasn’t your fault you need to understand that you are the victim.

If you blame yourself, you won’t want to claim compensation which means you’ll be left burring the financial burden of the injury yourself. This will make your recovery much more stressful and difficult so, don’t blame yourself and make a claim for compensation as soon as you feel ready. For more information around making claims click here.

Case Evaluations

A good first step for anyone looking to make a claim for compensation after suffering a personal injury is to make contact with a solicitor. However, before you ask them to take your case you might want to inquire about whether they offer an evaluation service.

A case evaluation service will give you a better idea of what your chances of success will be, this is very useful for people who have only suffered minor injuries, or the injury occurred during more complicated circumstances. For serious injury cases, this step probably isn’t necessary, but many solicitors do offer it for free so it’s always worth inquiring about.

No Win No Fee

Yes, we have all seen the adverts, haven’t we? The moody lighting, the dramatic voice-over, and the fast-paced editing! You might roll your eyes or tune them out by those adverts do carry an important message because personal injury solicitors will be very helpful when it comes to getting you your compensation.

There are many solicitors who specialise in personal injury claims so do your research and find out who the best solicitor for your case is. One important thing to look out is a no win no fee offer because this will guarantee that even if you lose your case you won’t be out of pocket.

Organisational Assistance

It’s easy to feel lost after suffering a personal injury, many people do, and the added financial burden doesn’t help matters. But you don’t have to go it alone if you have been injured at work or while carrying out your job and are a member of a trade union then they will be able to help you.

And if you have been injured while on the road in a traffic accident for example and are a member of a motoring agency then they will be able to assist you.

The way these organisations can help will vary but they will usually be able to offer specialist legal advice and may even be able to make a claim for compensation on your behalf. This gives you one less thing to worry about and will be sure to ease any financial burdens.

Talk To The Citizens Advice Bureau

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can be a huge help in the aftermath of a personal injury, they can help you in many ways and you should seek out your local CAB office as soon as you can. They can also help you ease the financial impact of a personal injury especially if you are struggling with debts.

But even if you aren’t yet suffering any financial issues after suffering a personal injury the CAB can still help you get your finances under control before you do, and they offer help in many other ways as well. So, a good first step for anyone who has suffered a personal injury is to get in touch with their local CAB.

Consider A Claims Management Company

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, then the first step many people will take when they are looking for compensation is to get a solicitor. However, a solicitor isn’t your only option you can also opt to use a claims management company instead.

A claims management company works in a similar manner to solicitors and they also work on a no win no fee basis and in England and Whales, all claims management companies must be authorised by the government.

However, there are some downsides to using a claims management company for one they cannot claim any compensation through the courts. So, depending on the nature of your personal injury you might end up receiving less money. A claims management company also doesn’t necessarily have to use a solicitor.

And while a claims management company will usually work on a now win no fee basis there still could be a considerable fee to pay if you win. For example, if the claims management company is successful in winning your case they could easily ask for a high percentage of your compensation in return. So, make sure you have a clear idea on what percentage of compensation you’ll get if they win your case.

9 tips to make moving-house stress free

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There’s no getting around it – moving-house can be painful and stressful.

At the very least you’ll be working to timescales with a lot of packing and logistics to consider – and then there’s the additional worries that go hand-in-hand with relying on solicitors, banks and vendors…

We recently sat down with the team at Your Property Advice who offer free mortgage advice in Glasgow which have compiled the following 8 tips, you may be able to reduce your headaches and midnight box shifting…

  1. Start early

It’s a simple tip and almost everyone plans it – but few people actually start packing and planning as early as they should.

Instead of planning to have everything ready on your move date – aim to have everything done 1 week before. That kind of plan might force you to start even earlier, especially if you’ve got work and family commitments to consider.

Now, in reality you’re going to end up running over that week – which is fine, because you’ll need clothes and essentials to stop life grinding to a halt. But, it’s better to aim to get finished before time, rather than working until the small hours of the morning the day before you move.

  1. Create a checklist

Moving-house is a big deal and our brains don’t do well with big deals on top of day to day life – which means you’re going to forget stuff.

Instead of leaving it to chance, create a checklist of everything you know will need to be done, signed, kept out, stored, borrowed – and so forth. When you’ve got your list, print it out a few times and stick it around the house.

It’s not totally fool proof – but half the battle is just keeping the most important things in your mind.

  1. Do a reconnaissance mission

This is an optional tip depending on where you’re moving to – if you’re staying local and know the area you’re heading for then feel free to skip forward.

However, if you’re moving to a totally different postcode, it’s going to be worth doing a bit of homework to make the transition as smooth as possible. If you can, take a trip to your new place a week or two ahead of time and look at the following:

  • What’s the parking provision around the house like? There’s nothing worse than turning up with a van or a big box of breakables and finding out you can’t park within half a mile of your front door.
  • Where’s the local shop or supermarket? You’re going to need some essentials when you land – and setting out to try to find milk or something for dinner without knowing where to go can be painful, plan-ahead and keep things simple.
  • Is there a recycling centre or tip nearby? You’re going to need to get rid of heaps of boxes, wrapping and packaging stuff if you want to keep your new place stress free and tidy. Knowing where to take it all is really helpful.

You might want to take things to the next level and checkout what’s a decent takeaway for your first night hassle free meal – a bad chicken tikka masala can really take the edge off the excitement!

  1. Create some key leeway

If it’s possible, creating some breathing space with the handing over of keys puts you in an enviable position.

For example, you’re handing the keys to your landlord on the 30th of the month – why not get paperwork in place to make sure you can move into the new place on the 28th or 29th – giving you an extra day to get your possessions moved and give your old place a spring clean?

It can get complicated if you’re selling and buying – and therefore relying on funds being moved – but it’s not impossible, talking to vendors and solicitors can free time up.

  1. Get good boxes

Short and simple tip! Getting some good big boxes can make a world of difference. Storage and removal companies often sell them, or, if you’re working on a budget, asking politely at supermarkets is good too.

  1. Make a document box

There is virtually nothing worse than trying to remember which box that ‘important stuff’ is buried in – and typically, it won’t be in the first one you empty into the back of the rental van.

Get one small box and make it the place that the important stuff goes. Documents, wallets and purses, keys and phone chargers are all important, keeping them safe will stop tempers flaring when the pressure is on.

  1. Buy a cordless screwdriver

If you like your furniture Scandinavian, then you’re probably familiar with that unique ache in your wrist that comes after the 300th turn of a little silver hex key. Moving-house is a double pain if you’ve got flat pack stuff in your house – because you’re going to need to take it apart then put it back together again – sometimes within hours.

You’ll be able to pick up a perfectly adequate cordless screwdriver for about £15. If you’re not DIY-savvy, just search on Amazon or in B&Q – they’re a little gun-shaped power tool and they’re an absolute piece of cake to use – quiet too. Trust us, it’ll become your new favourite thing when you’re on wardrobe number two…

  1. Create a survival kit

A little like the document box, a survival kit means that you’re not hunting for stuff when time and your mood would benefit from a little convenience.

If you’re a coffee drinker, put it in. Don’t want to be turning boxes out to find your toothbrush, make up or shower gel? Put an overnight toiletries bag in. At very least, make sure you’ve got a change of clothes and a towel in there so you’ve not faced with boxes the moment you wake up.

  1. Look after yourself

With a bit of scheduling and planning – you can put a bit of time aside to make sure you’re feeling good.

Feeling good means something different for everyone, it could mean finding a space on the floor and having a glass of wine while you’re on social media for an hour – or perhaps it means making sure your running trainers are in the survival kit box and getting out to pound the pavement for a little while.

You’re never going to totally remove the stress from getting into a new home – but keeping your head in a good place is a big step toward not letting the experience get on top of you.

Choosing the Best Custodian for your Gold IRA

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Choosing the Best Custodian for your Gold IRA

Individual Retirement Plans are popular among many, as they allow people to build for their future when it comes to the retirement. More and more people are recognizing the potential benefits of investing in gold, and as such, are converting their retirement plans to a Gold IRA. However, this isn’t something that can be undertaken by ourselves, and as such, we must seek out the services of a reputable custodian. Simply opting for any custodian, could mean that our plans fall by the wayside.

This isn’t to say that converting to a Gold IRA is full of risk, but like any kind of investment, we need to make sure that we are employing the services of a trustee that has our best interests at heart, and has the experience and knowledge to make worthwhile investment decisions.

Call the Custodian Direct

People tend to get a feel of a company simply by speaking to them, regardless of the context. When speaking to a custodian who will be dealing with your Gold IRA, you need to ensure that they are easy to speak to, and able to offer answers to any queries that offer your clarity.

The world of Gold IRAs can be confusing, so those who offer answers that are a little vague could cause you to worry unnecessarily. Similarly, a company that is not able to furnish you with updates and advice could mean that your investments aren’t being treated in the right manner.

You also need to ensure that the custodian you choose to deal with isn’t pushy, and speak to you in a professional manner.

These may seem like trivial things in the interim, but ensuring you have the right custodian on the side will ensure that your future is a brighter one.

Find Out How Reliable They Are

Allowing professionals to take care of our future means that we need someone we can trust. While many can make the right noises, it is often the case that actions speak louder than words. What this means for us is that we need to make checks that the custodian we’re planning to use is moral and professional.

Fortunately, those interested in a Gold IRA Rollover can check the standards of any professional institution they plan to use by visiting the Business Consumer Alliance or even better the mineweb.net website. Mineweb specializes in providing you with the most up to date and in depth reviews of the precious metals companies and offer advice on the rollover process itself. So if you are thinking about transferring from a 401k to precious metals IRA read their guide on how to do just that in the most cost and tax effective way. You are advised to look towards those that have a triple A rating, after all, you want to ensure that only the most erudite is looking after your financial future.

Find Out How Trustworthy a Custodian Is

Just as we should check out the reliability of a custodian, we also need to ensure that they’re trustworthy. Many companies will strive to work in line with IRS regulations in offering a safe way of storing assets, while giving investors access to their assets in the right way. However, there will be those who operate using underhand methods, and these are the institutions that should be avoided.

You are able to check reviews of services via the Better Business Bureau, which will detail any complaints made against a financial institution, and how they were resolved. Many of us are able to accept that sometimes, things can go wrong. However, it’s how such errors are resolved that can make the difference as to whether we entrust our financial future to them or not.

What Are The Other Investment Options?

Although you may only be looking for a custodian in relation to gold, it can make sense to ensure that your potential custodian also deals with other precious metals should you wish to make plans surrounding other precious metals. 

While the prospect of other precious metals may not seem appealing at the moment, you never know what’s around the corner. As such, it can be advisable to maximize your options from the off, and ensuring that you have a custodian who has experience in dealing with a manner of precious metals will ensure that you’re heading in the right direction when securing your financial future.

Just How Safe Is The Storage on Offer?

As well as being able to make the right decisions, you need to ensure that the gold you’ve invested in stored correctly. One of the rules associated with a Gold IRA is that the gold is kept with a trustee in qualified conditions set out by the IRS. This is often why so many are seeking a custodian in the first instance. While it can be easy to assume that all custodians will store the gold in the same way, there can be some differences that you may need to factor in before deciding.

Some may provide segregated storage, while others will provide storage that sees your assets mixed with others. There’s no right or wrong here, but it’s something people need to be aware of when it comes to choosing a custodian, as this is your future we’re talking about.

How Much Are the Fees?

Although you shouldn’t make an overall decision based on price alone, it’s certainly something you should factor in along with other aspects. There can be custodians out there who look to offer the essentials for the maximum price. Similarly, there can be those who promise everything, but offer a price that’s too good to be true.

What you’re looking for is a competitive rate for the feature you require. For example, if you were looking for segregated storage from a three-star custodian, you can probably expect to pay more commissions than you would if you opted for a more less-experienced company, but the value is held in the service that’s offered, so it’s important to keep this at the forefront of your mind when making your choice.

9 gadgets, tools and apps for working from home jobs

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9 gadgets, tools and apps for working from home jobs

You’re there! You’ve won the working from home job that finally gives you the freedom you want – or you’re setting up by yourself and making home your command centre. Whatever’s brought you here, you’re going to need to the right kit around you to make sure you’re as productive as possible – from physical kit to software and apps – we’ve got you covered.

  1. Handsfree headset

If you communicate with people every day you might want to think about getting a Bluetooth handsfree earpiece or headset. Most modern phones let you handle a variety of calls, whether that’s on normal cellular networks or over a data connection using a service like Skype or Whatsapp. It used to be that taking a Skype call meant being stuck in front of your computer – but as that’s no longer that case – so with a Bluetooth earpiece you can handle all your calls while you’re doing other tasks.

  1. 1Password

Struggle thinking of unique passwords for your email, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts? If the answer is yes, the world of remote working just made your password troubles ten-times worse. We can’t stress quite how important it is to choose unique passwords for every application, service and device you use – so if you want some help with that, look at a system like ‘1password’ – as its name suggests, you only need to remember a single password – it’s browser extensions and app integration mean one click will get you into everywhere else 100% securely.

  1. A laptop stand

If you’ve been allocated a work laptop (or you’re a business owner who likes the portability) then having a stand can make the difference between enjoying working on your machine or it taking a toll on your back, neck and shoulders. Ergonomics experts say your eyes should line up with the middle of your screen – which is often impractical for laptop users. If you’re really struggling with peering down at your screen, get a stand that sets your laptop fairly high and use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse in easy reach.

  1. Backup

If you’re working remotely as part of a bigger company then your IT team will hopefully have you covered in this regard – but if you’re setting out by yourself, you’re definitely going to want to invest in a good backup solution for all your files and data. By ‘backup’ – we don’t mean saving your important files to a USB drive – we’re talking about a dedicated cloud-based backup service that will keep you on track no matter what.

Without a good backup, you’re taking a big risk with your data. The risk is primarily from malicious programmes and viruses – but there’s also a possibility that computer could be damaged or suffer a hardware fault. Less than £5 per month will get you started.

  1. Trello

If you’re the kind of person who benefits from having to-do lists then you’ll fall in love with Trello. It’s a simple and customisable drag-and-drop task system. You start with an overview of everything you’re working on, each individual task is represented by a note which you can expand to enter more details. You can create any number of ‘boards’ – these act like larger project titles. Within those boards you make your own categories to start putting your notes in.

It’s a little like having a very well organised wall covered in post-its – except with Trello those notes can become places for notes, discussions, files, check-lists and so much more. Drag and drop to your hearts content. Oh, and you can share your boards with collaborators too.

  1. Pomodoro app

If you have any grasp of Italian you might be wondering what a ‘tomato app’ is going to offer you as a home worker – but actually the ‘pomodoro’ technique is well established business productivity tool – and is an absolute must if you’re one of the 25% of people who consider themselves a ‘chronic procrastinator’. You set a timer running for a short period (usually 20-25 minutes), during that time you concentrate on one task only – even switching your phone to silent if necessary. When the timer chimes – you’re done.

The thinking is this – 25 minutes of sole focus on one task is better than countless hours revisiting the same task in between a multitude of other distractions. And it works – it takes a little discipline, but you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be in such a short period. There are some great apps that offer alarms, tracking, prompts to keep you on task and much more. If you’re on iOS have a look at ‘Be Focused – Focus Timer & Goal Tracker’ on the Appstore, Android users might like ‘ClearFocus: Productivity Timer’ on Google Play.   

  1. An ergonomic chair

The majority of working from home jobs and new business start-ups involve sitting in front of a computer for lengthy periods of time. If you’re planning on doing that on your sofa or a dining room chair you’re going to quickly find yourself quite uncomfortable – worse still, actually damaging your back.

Finding a good ergonomic chair is a must – some are eye-wateringly costly, but not as eye-watering as painful physiotherapy sessions. The general sentiment is that you ‘get what you pay for’ – but realistically even a budget option is better than risking your back slumped on an unsuitable chair.

  1. Docusign

If your business is going to require signatures on legally binding documents, contracts, quotes or similar than having Docusign can take a huge amount of scanning, sending, copying and waiting out of the equation. It’ll reduce your costs elsewhere, especially in print and postage – and is backed up by over 200 million worldwide users – from huge multi-nationals to one-person start-ups, so you’re on sound legal ground.

  1. Coffee – and a big cafetiere

Finally, if you’re in the middle of launching your own business it’s time to buy a large cafetiere and some good strength ground coffee! There isn’t an entrepreneur in the world who got to where they are quickly and without some very long days and sleepless nights…