Top Tips for Personal Finance

These days, in our world of credit cards, mortgages and the loom of crushing debt, it’s so important to know how to manage personal finance so we don’t get caught up in that trap. But we often hear different advice from so many different people, each with different and often conflicting ideas on how we should manage our personal finances. The truth is, smart finance tips aren’t hard to follow. Read on to learn those personal finance tips that we recommend the most:

Get a fixed rate home loan

For many people, home mortgages are a financial crutch which prevents them from living with financial freedom. Home loans can incur skyrocketing interest rates, and if you’re not careful these can completely decimate your savings. So when you’re signing up for a mortgage, make sure that you’re signing a fixed rate home loan. Fixed rate home loans allow you to budget more effectively, because you won’t be shocked from rising rates.

Set a weekly budget for groceries

You might be surprised, but grocery shopping can be one of the highest expenditures in many homes. It might not seem like much when you go out to stock up on Sunday night, but those mini trips throughout the week to pick up a few ingredients, combined with those unnecessary extras thrown in to keep the kids from whining, can really add up. So set yourself a budget to stick with, that you know will allow you to enjoy the other areas of your life.

See where you can cut back

Maintaining good personal finance doesn’t mean that you’re stingy with yourself or your family. It simply means that you recognize the difference between what’s necessary, what’s enjoyable and what you really don’t need. If you find yourself buying a few expensive lattes per day, try to cut one out. Other habits you might not notice at first can end up costing you over the long term, so see where you can cut back without reducing your quality of life too much.

Teach your kids about personal finance

If you can teach your kids the skills they’ll need to learn later in life, this will pay off greatly in the long run. This could mean the difference between self-sustaining grown children, and those who still need handouts late into their 20’s. Give your kids a modest allowance and teach them the ways that they can earn money around the house. Let them know that once their budget is spent, they need to find ways to earn more rather than just getting money handed out to them.

Top Tips for a Healthy Heart

You probably already know that a healthy heart is essential for a healthy life. It’s the organ that pumps life force through your body, so taking the time and care to ensure it’s working properly can add years onto your life! But unfortunately, many habits in life today can compromise heart health. So read on to learn how you can take control and make your heart healthy with some simple lifestyle changes!


Improve your diet

Did you know that changing your diet even just a bit can really improve the health of your heart? First of all, minimize trans fats as much as possible, which are found in fast food and processed foods. Replace them with healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats like those found in fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Just a small handful of walnuts after lunch and dinner can create a significant improvement in your heart health.


Stress is unfortunately one of the biggest contributors to heart disease today. With the constant barrage of news, media and obligations in our lives, it’s easy to get overstressed and the heart can suffer from it. So create some space in your life to unplug from social media and the news. Dedicate an hour per day to time for yourself, reading and meditating, or whatever it is that chills you out.

Check your heart

It’s hard to know how much you need to improve your heart health, if you’re not even sure where you stand. That’s why it’s important to take a heart health test so you know how you’re doing. We recommend the HBF Healthy Heart Check because it’s a simple test that lets you know how you’re doing, and can help you identify areas in your life that you can improve to increase your heart health.

Quit smoking

Smoking is another major risk factor for heart disease and other heart problems. So if you’re a smoker, it is imperative that you find a way to quit, if you want to reduce this risk in your life. And if you live with smokers or are exposed to smoke regularly, find a way to change your lifestyle to remove this risk.

Strength Train

You might think that cardio exercise is the best way to keep your heart in good shape, but it’s strength training that will really beef up its health factor. Yes, cardio training is helpful but when you strength train, you reduce your body fat percentage while increasing muscle mass and endurance, all of which contributes to a healthy heart.

Should I lease, rent or finance my car for business  

A Mini, that’s what the business needed. Something that could glide through traffic; a car that could get from one point to the other, quickly, fuel efficiently, and in style.

The business didn’t need a White Van. It was really just for running documents and travelling to client meets. There was only one dilemma in my mind: “Should I lease, rent or finance the car for my business?”

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I wanted to make the right choice, so I needed to conduct a little research and find out what the best option was. Now, a year later, I’ve found that I made the right choice, but each business is different, so you’ll want to analyse all of the following options before you commit.

Car Rental

Let’s say that you, as I once did, decide to rent a Mini Classic. You’ll soon realise that while this arrangement works very well for a day or two, it is not normally a good long term arrangement. Car rental companies force you into ‘their’ contracts; they required that I bought additional Mini Classic car insurance (for the Mini that I was renting). Even though I already had car insurance that would cover any accident, their contract meant that if I didn’t take their offered insurance I would have had to foot the bill for “Loss of use”. This meant that in the event of an accident I would have had to pay a fee for the time the car was being repaired (loss of work use for that rental). Needless to say, these fees were not cheap.

Of course there are also other ‘miscellaneous’ costs associated with a rental. In other words, you never end up paying that low headline fee advertised in the paper and so car rentals are rarely a long term business solution. If, however, you need a short term option, they may be the right choice for you


Car leasing is becoming more and more popular in the business world. This is certainly an option to consider, as there are more than a few benefits to obtaining a business car using this model.

  1. Offers a fixed leasing contract, for a period that generally ranges from 2 to 5 years.
  2. This option also includes certain maintenance benefits; you don’t have to pay additional costs for maintenance servicing, tyres and other items when you purchase a ‘fully-maintained” lease option.
  3. Lease payments are fixed for the term of the lease. This makes it easier for you to budget business expenses.
  4. Leasing can eliminate many of the risks associated with owning a vehicle. The only additional item you’ll need to pay for is car insurance.
  5. If you are registered for VAT you can claim a proportion of the finance rental when you file.

There are a couple of negative points to the option of leasing however, and you’ll want to consider these before making a final decision. Lease contracts tend to be inflexible, so if you want to return the car before the contract is up, you’ll have to pay an early termination fee. There may also be costs incurred at the end of a lease, depending on the contract you opt for.

Why Buy?

As a person who has both bought and leased business vehicles, I can tell you that there are a lot of advantages to buying. Two of the key benefits to buying a business vehicle are as follows.

  1. You own the car and as a result it is deemed an asset. You have the right to sell the business vehicle at any time, as long as you are not restricted by finance agreements.
  2. Unlike a lease, a car that you buy can do as much or as little mileage as you require. Often leases will restrict you to a certain annual mileage.

The main drawback to buying is of course that you do need to offer a large up-front payment, whereas you don’t in a leasing agreement. You also bear the costs associated with the depreciation of the vehicle.

Final Thoughts

Both leasing and buying are good options. If you want predictable expenses, and easy maintenance, then the fixed costs associated with leasing may offer the best solution. If you are cash rich then buying can offer you more flexibility.

Enjoy the golden years: save money on your retirement  

The journey to retirement begins with the first day of work and, while saving for retirement should be the primary focus, preparing to spend that nest egg wisely is also important.  Today, retirement covers a longer period of time than ever before – thirty years or more for some people – so ensuring that the money is going to stretch and serve well is a priority.


Good money habits during retirement


One of the top ways to save money during retirement can begin long before actually retiring.  Having bad habits with money can have an immediate effect as well as a long-term effect on finances, but establishing good habits and patterns can have a very positive effect very quickly and, once established, will be easy to maintain when retired.  Make it a habit to work out a monthly budget, as well as planning for yearly expenses, and stick to it as closely as possible.  Explore available discount programs and cards, particularly when eligible for senior discounts.


Choosing a retirement community


Though some retirees will have enough saved to maintain their own home or travel the world, living in a senior community is the best long-term option for many.  Senior communities, in particular independent living communities and Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), offer a wide variety of services and amenities in addition to the peace of mind that an all-inclusive living environment provides.  With utilities and maintenance taken care of by the facility, residents are free to enjoy activities out and about, or simply sit in and relax.  A senior community lifestyle can be a money-saving option, keeping most living expenses at a constant unlike the fluctuations that occur when maintaining a home and car and living independently outside a community.


One important criterion to be considered when choosing a senior community is the quality of health care offered by the facility.  Health care is one of the largest expenses incurred during the retirement years and, as more and more retirees live into their 80s and 90s, the prospect of needing continuing care becomes ever more likely.  Senior communities offer a variety of different health care programs and options for residents, customizing care to suit their individual needs.  From personal care to memory care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s to respite and hospice care, senior communities provide quality care with professional medical staff that will help a resident retiree save money.


Planning a worry-free retirement


Though worries may arise during the years leading up to retirement, from concerns over whether there will be enough money to retire to worrying whether there will be enough money to get through retirement, one thing is certain: the retirement years should enjoyed!  After a lifetime of work, retirement should be a time of unique opportunities and fun.  Living in the ideal senior community can be a major part of that worry-free and enjoyable retirement.


All the clever investment strategies and plans cannot ensure a worry-free retirement, but fostering good habits with money early on, as well as exploring retirement community living as a real option, can help stretch those dollars throughout retirement.



Five Ways your Business Start Up Can Save Money Today

The first couple of years for a start-up can be amongst the most difficult, building up an audience and battling to remain in existence. Having a frugal and financially-responsible business model and implementing cost-effective ethics are hugely important at this stage. Here are five ways in which a start-up can save money without compromising the quality of the services and/or products.

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Never Miss an Advertising Opportunity

Many newer and smaller businesses bemoan a lack of funding to implement an advertising campaign, citing the expensive costs of television and radio airtime. However, everyday business endeavours are in themselves packed with advertising opportunities. All business mailings can include advertising materials, promotions and unique offers. Piggybacking your advertising can help cut costs directly appeals to your market demographic according to J. Donald Weinrauch, co-author of The Frugal Marketer.

Take Advantage of Skilled Freelancers

If your start-up requires a number of different skills, you may feel pressured into undertaking a lot of unfamiliar tasks or expanding your workforce. Both of these options can be problematic – either stretching yourself beyond your skillset or taking on too many costs. The internet is jam-packed with talented freelancers with a range of skills and abilities at great prices. People Per Hour is a fantastic service with a great range of talented individuals with skills as diverse as photography and web development. One-off jobs can be completed at a cut price by an individual with the correct skills.

Cut Down on Delivery

More and more commerce companies are starting up on the internet rather than out of a bricks and mortar site, due to the money-saving potential of inhabiting virtual space rather than physical space. This however can lead to high levels of delivery costs. Make sure you keep your services competitively-priced, by cutting down on delivery costs. All courier services charge different amounts for different services, so use a company such as Rapid Parcel or Parcel2Go to ensure you are always getting the best rate available for your delivery needs.

Take Advantage of Government Schemes

Keep abreast of government schemes for local businesses to make your money go further. Tax breaks are available for small business in a bid to improve the strength of the country’s economy as well as other benefits. Apprenticeship schemes have grown in scope and popularity in recent years with added incentives offered to companies employing apprentices. Employers may be entitled to a £1,500 apprenticeship grant as a part of the government’s scheme, making it more affordable to expand the workforce.

Utilise Free Software

Where possible, take advantage of free software. Services such as Skype are just as effective in the workplace as at home, allowing you to make free business calls to clients, customers and colleagues. The instant chat feature also allows you to stay in quick and constant contact with your colleagues during the workday, and transfer important files. Additionally, Dropbox is a free (for the starters’ package) online storage service, ensuring you have access to all your important documents at all time.

Entrepreneur retirement: taking charge of your future  

Owning a small business has always been appealing to people because it offers the individual owner a degree of personal independence and the freedom to direct their business as it grows. The feeling of creating a successful business that leaves a mark simply cannot be measured. With this freedom, however, comes unique responsibilities, as entrepreneurs will find themselves taking responsibility for their own finances in a way that non-business owners do not need to, namely properly planning out their retirement finances.


Planning for your retirement when self-employed

Planning inadequately for retirement is a major mistake that many entrepreneurs make. Regardless of the age of the business owner, fears about finances both current and future may severely hamper any savings plan. This could lead to a business owner finding themselves in a predicament when the time comes to retire, either finding themselves short of funds and forced to supplement their meager savings or deferring retirement indefinitely in order to continue producing income.

Successful retirement plans should begin with the start-up of the business and be factored in along the way. For a self-employed business owner, considering options for saving and finding the best route means doing some homework. There are a variety of routes that one can take to save for retirement, many of which are very generous in their tax-saving features.

Begin by learning as much as possible about investment and finance, particularly as it pertains to retirement savings. The current instability in the economy means that a certain degree of flexibility may be needed. In addition, seek out advice and guidance from reliable sources such as the Gallagher Group; more complete knowledge equals better investments equals a better retirement in the long run.

Beginning early to save for retirement is important for two reasons: first, a longer span of time before retirement means a longer period of time in which to be saving money; second, a longer span of time allows for changes to be made to the structure of the retirement investments, depending on the success of the business as well as the economy and stock market.

When it comes to investing, there are a wide range of choices to explore. Remember to spread the savings around, diversifying into stocks, funds, real estate, as well as investing in the business itself. Establish a yearly contribution goal, at least 10% of the net yearly income, to be saved. Individual business owners without employees may want to explore the SEP-IRA. This type of IRA is a simplified employee pension, and the investor may contribute up to 15% of their yearly self-employment income. Another option is the Solo 401(k), which allows for sizable contributions up to $50,000 per year for a business owner and spouse.


Taking charge of your retirement

While it may seem intimidating to begin saving while the economy is still experiencing the recession hangover, it is actually the best of times to start building a retirement nest egg. With thorough research and sound advice, any entrepreneur can wisely and confidently invest for their future in a wide variety of ways, putting the gold in their golden years as they watch their own business grow.


Buying second-hand cars

Are you considering buying a car but you’re afraid it will cost you a fortune?

Some days ago we talked about the benefits and drawbacks of both buying and leasing. We now present an option that stands right in between of these two: buying used cars. Don’t think that the expression “used car” implies an old broken car that will last you no longer than one year. This idea is completely out of date. Nowadays there’s fortunately a big amount of second-hand vehicles that have been well taken care of and stand in extremely good conditions.

Online second-hand market

Thanks to the internet, buying and selling have become so much easier. The evolution from the local to the global market is something we should take advantage of. There are thousands of websites all around the world where you can find great offers of second-hand cars. Check for example the used cars for sale in India, the second most populated country in the world has an expanding second-hand market which is growing around a 15% every year.

Benefits and drawbacks of used cars

But what are exactly the benefits of buying a second-hand car instead of a new one? Well, the main benefit of course is the price. Only by coming out of the car leadership, the car’s price experiences a fall of 20% and most of them lose up to a 40% of their original price during the first year. If you have a limited budget, this more affordable price will allow you to choose among cars of higher quality.

However, when purchasing second-hand cars, we obviously take a higher risk than when buying a brand new vehicle. It’s important to always revise every single aspect, such as mileage, accessories, hoods and motor. But it’s even more important to check that the car papers are in order. If you take care of these aspects, you can really get a good deal and find the car that suits your necessities as well as your financial means.


Alvaro Sobrinho – The Man

Africa is a continent which is rapidly growing in the areas of science, business and technology. No longer is Africa completely dependent on other nations for support in these areas. No longer must Africa rely on others to help with its domestic issues and to care for its people. Africa is growing, creating stronger higher education systems and producing great leaders who are devoted to the continent’s success. Alvaro Sobrinho is one of these people, a great leader and philanthropist whose mission is to see Africa achieve great success and independence.

Who is Alvaro Sobrinho?

Alvaro Sobrinho is a prominent businessman and philanthropist who is from the country of Angola in Africa. His business success really began when he opened a branch of the subsidary branch of Banco Espirito Santo in Angola. He is well-known for his philanthropy work in Africa, including his role as chairman of the Planet Earth Institute. It is through this position that he is really making great contributions towards Africa’s scientific independence and growth in business and technology as well. Check out this interview with Sobrinho to learn more about who he is and what his vision is for Africa.

What is Africa’s agenda?

Sobrinho has an agenda for Africa, and it is not one to be taken lightly. He foresees scientific independence for Africa, a goal which might seem lofty but in reality is not far away. What does scientific independence really mean for Africa? It means that Africa will be able to make its own scientific developments and conduct quality research. With these developments, Africa can take care of its own issues and no longer rely on other nations for so much support. The Time for Africa science agenda is full of more info on exactly what it means for Africa to achieve scientific independence, and the steps it will take to get there. And the fact is that Africa isn’t as far from this goal as some people might think. They have already created technologically-advanced Africa drones that are helping to boost military power. Innovations such as these and mobile e-learning are helping Africa to gain strength in science and technology.

Getting started in stock market trading  

If you are interested in getting involved in stock market trading there are a number of things to be aware of. Firstly, if you know little about the subject you will need to become more familiar with it. There are a number of resources that will help you to learn the basics of stock trading. Remember, the key to being successful is to know what you are doing and stay calm when things become fraught.

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Learning as much as you can is the best way to minimize your losses once you begin trading. Stocks are also known as shares or equity. Companies sell shares to the public to enable individuals to have a percentage of ownership in the company. This is why, when getting into stock market trading, it is important to invest in the right companies. It is well worth seeking investment advice to help you take the right steps.


The first point to be aware of is that stocks increase and decrease in value. If a company performs well, then its stocks will be in great demand. This increases the value of the stock, as more people will be interested in buying. However, if a company is not making a profit, demand for its stocks will decrease.


The stock market fluctuates constantly, a fact you will need to bear in mind when it comes to stock trading. If you choose to invest in a company that is performing well you will enjoy the benefits. Companies that are stable and generating high levels of profit pay dividends to their investors, which can provide them with a steady source of additional income.


One of the main things to think about when getting involved in stock market trading is why you want to invest. The main reason will be to make money, but think about what you will be using this cash for. Some people choose to invest to fund a certain type of lifestyle, such as if they are planning to travel, whilst others may be wanting to invest in order to secure a better standard of living when the time comes for them to retire. Think about what your aims are and what you plan to gain in the long run.


Stock market trading is ideal for those planning to invest long term. As the market can be unpredictable, it is not always a good idea to invest with the hope of becoming instantly wealthy. Be prepared to spend some time researching the options available so that you maximize the chances of investing in the right company. Try to learn as much as you can about the company you are considering investing in before risking any cash.


You should be aware of which companies are performing well in your area. It is better to invest in a company that you know a lot about. Familiarize yourself with the value of its stocks over past months and years. You will need to know as much as possible about any companies you are planning to invest in, such as how much they are worth, cash flow and how well they are likely to perform in the future.


Another step to getting into stock market trading is to start building up a portfolio of stocks. You are not restricted to investing in one company or one particular business sector. Try to create a portfolio that spans a number of industries, as this will enable you to continue earning even if one is doing badly. Look at various markets to identify which ones are performing best at a particular period of time and be prepared to shuffle your portfolio.


In addition to choosing the right companies, you also need to know when to purchase particular stocks. Have a look at recent stock trends; there are stock charts available that will help you. You can find stock quote charts online and in newspapers. Doing a little research will help you to understand stock chart symbols and other stock market terminology.


Once you are ready to take the plunge you will need to employ the services of a stockbroker. There are different types of stockbrokers available, so you will need to choose one that is right for you. You may wish to choose one that offers financial advice, as this will enable him or her to look at your financial situation and suggest the best stocks to invest in.


By taking the right steps, you can enjoy all the benefits that stock market trading offers and build up a portfolio that is both diverse and profitable.

Should You Buy or Lease Your Next Car?  

If you’re in the market for a vehicle, whether new or used, you’re probably facing many different questions and options. One of these is whether to buy or lease your car. Once you’ve figured out exactly which vehicle you want, you’ll face these two options and you’ll want to be well-educated in both of them. Buying and leasing each have their benefits and drawbacks, which are important to understand before you make your decision. Read on to learn more about these two options and make the decision that’s best for you.

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Do you plan on keeping your car for a long time? Is this an investment that you feel is for the long-term? These are signs that buying could be right for you. When you buy your car, you will own it once the loan is completely paid. So basically, each payment you make is bringing you closer and closer to ownership as you gain equity. And once you own your car, it’s yours to alter or modify however you want. (Keep in mind that as you’re paying off your car, you may not be able to make modifications like paint changes, add audio systems, etc. until it’s fully paid off.)


There are some drawbacks to keep in mind when buying a car, however. You will need to make a much larger down payment when buying a car than you would when leasing. And when you’re buying, you are taking a chance that you’ll be able to resell the car for a good value. This is different from leasing, where the resale value is actually determined beforehand and put right in the contract. But remember that you’re truly making an investment in the vehicle so if you see this as a long-term car, buying can really be a great option.



When you lease a vehicle, you’re able to pay way less money overall because you’re not paying for the sales price- only the future depreciation. You’re able to make a much smaller down payment, so leasing is a good option for people who don’t have a large amount of cash ready at hand to drop on a car. A typical length for a car lease is about 3 years, so it’s a good option if you’re someone who likes to change vehicles rather frequently. And if you like a car with the latest and greatest tech options, leasing might be for you. Because you’ll be switching cars every few years, your next vehicle will have the newest updates! Leasing can be a great option for people who want to drive an expensive car but can’t afford to buy it. You can check out a BMW lease to find out more about options for your next vehicle.
But when you lease, keep in mind that you don’t have many rights over the vehicle. You can’t make any modifications you want and there might even be a restriction on the miles you can drive. And when you lease, you’re essentially just renting for a couple of years and paying extra interest on top. So you’re not really making any investments in a future purchase. Also, you usually need a good credit score to be able to lease a vehicle.