Tips For Your Retirement Planning

Retirement is considered to be one of the most important life events that we will experience. The ability to enjoy it comfortably requires years of persistence with retirement planning. With some research, an investment plan, and dedicated commitment, you can build a successful nest egg. Here are some key things to consider to ultimately execute and enjoy comfort in your golden years.

Government Programs

An initial key topic that should be addressed is the uncertainty of the prospects of government-sponsored retirement, namely social security and pension benefits. There are fewer working-age people remaining in the population to contribute to these government-sponsored social security systems. For example, a 2005 study reported that there were 35.3 million workers paying into the system in 1940, with only 222,000 beneficiaries (a ratio of 159 to 1). The number of workers increased to 154.3 million in 2003, with 46.8 million beneficiaries (a ratio of 3.3 to 1).

With advances in health care, people are now living longer than ever before. Combined with an increase in the number of retired citizens, substantial strains are being put on the system. This could cause the government to place a hold on benefits or allot them for the poorest.

Unforeseen Medical Expenses

The intention of social security programs is to provide you with the bare minimum standard of living for your old age. Planning done solely on funds you do not control is probably not the best option. With a lack of personal savings to enhance your retirement funds, you will find it virtually impossible to enjoy anything above the bare minimum standards of living. This situation can quickly escalate if your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse. By nature, with old age comes increased medical issues, thus an increase in healthcare expenses. Living in comfort while covering the costs of medical bills can be much too large a burden to bear. To counteract this, you should consider securing medical and long-term care insurance to finance any unforeseen needs that may arise.

Estate Plans

An additional factor to contemplate when doing your retirement planning is the fact that you may desire to leave part of your savings to family and loved ones. By contribution to their education or by passing on portions of your assets such as real estate, this adds additional costs and planning to your financial future. Without proper planning, you could find yourself being forced to liquidate your assets just to cover expenses and get by in your older years. Not only could this prevent you from leaving a financial legacy to your family, but it could also make you a financial burden on your family.

Life always seems to throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. Unanticipated health issues and financial needs from your dependents combined with the insecurity of social security can leave you living uncomfortably during a period intended to be enjoyed. Retirement planning can ensure a secure nest egg to help you cope with whatever comes your way.

7 Tips for Marketing Your Small Business

Marketing your small business is an essential responsibility along with the day-to-day operation of your enterprise. You must plan your marketing initiatives just as you plan your daily work activity. Effective marketing is a tool to help drive traffic to your business consistently.

The following are 7 tips for marketing your small business for increased sales and profit:

1. Promote your website

Include an invitation to your website on all your other marketing materials. This includes invoices, order forms, promotional signs, brochures, and press releases. You can also include your web address in your email signature. Additionally, include it in your letterhead, envelopes, business postcards, and facsimile (fax) cover sheets.

2. Utilize social media effectively

21st Century marketing certainly means being social online. However, you must properly introduce your business and its products and services via social pathways. Your introduction to your business must show that you have solutions for your target markets concerns.

Make your introduction short and clear. In a few words describe what you do, who you do it for, and what benefits you provide. It’s that simple – sum up what your business is concisely and precisely.

3. Engage in offline marketing

There’s still something positive about traditional offline marketing. It’s served businesses well for centuries and continues to so. This runs the scale from face-to-face discourse, to direct mail, to newspaper and radio ads, to flyers to homes and other businesses, and business cards.

If a nice review of your business was included in your local newspaper, use this article as part of other offline marketing initiatives. For example, you can put an excerpt of this review in your hard-copy newsletter if you have one.

4. Market via trade shows

Use trade shows to introduce potential customers and suppliers to your business. Quality shows that attract huge audiences can garner you significant exposure. Trade shows are all about informing, displaying, promoting, demonstrating products and services, and of course, selling.

Make sure to investigate the cost of a particular trade show you’re interested in. Some can be expensive. Consequently, you must budget suitably for one and do a cost-benefit analysis to ensure you reap a proper return on investment (ROI) from the event.

5. Send out press releases

Press releases are a useful way to market your business. You can put them on your website and then to media channels. Furthermore, include these releases on your social media portals.

A press release is a way to inform about developments at your enterprise that are beneficial to your clientele. A good one contains accurate facts and information. They are simply and clearly written. They can highlight new products and services from your business. They can highlight quality employees – their achievements and job promotions as they affect your customer base and their needs.

6. Perform personal networking

Good old face-to-face networking still ‘works.’ Be ready to promote your business anytime as is appropriate. This can be at conferences and at community, cultural, sports and business events, among others. Just check to make sure it’s fitting to engage in business discussions at certain events. Sometimes promotional activities are frowned upon depending on the purpose and atmosphere of a particular event.

7. Consider direct response advertising

With this type of advertising you encourage customers to reply directly to your enterprise. For example, you may put a small ad in your local newspaper. This ad asks customers to call your business directly and place an order. It may ask customers to access the order page of your website to view products and directly place an order. Fundamentally, direct response advertising highlights an offer and includes a call to action to start the sales process.

Devote the time, energy, and finances as is feasible to market your small business properly. A concerted effort in this area will pay short and long-term dividends for your enterprise. The marketing of products and/or services is a skill you can develop the more you commit to actually doing it on a regular basis.

Tips for Personal Finance

Monitoring income and expenses is a tedious process that requires patience and foresight. While it may be dull to balance your checkbook and ensure bills are being paid, the security provided from managing your money is priceless. By employing a few simple techniques you can make the process both easy and enjoyable.

When I first entered college, I found myself having to manage my first income along with a sizeable amount of bills-rent, groceries, cell phone and recreation money. I spent the first semester going out to eat, to the movies and buying unnecessary items. I soon found that I had blown my savings from my summer job. Instead of having a comfortable financial cushion, I was soon living off a meager income from a part-time campus job-lets just say ramen noodles became a fixture of my diet.

Unfortunately, I had not set up a balanced budget to ensure I was paying all my bills, saving money and allotting for “fun” money. I had overlooked one of the crucial steps for managing money: I did not set up a budget to know how much I was making or spending. It is important to sit down with your pay stubs, bills and receipts to determine how much money can be allotted for each item. In fact, this basic step is really half the battle to ensuring a sound money management strategy.

The repercussions of not having a balanced budget can often cause you actually to lose money. For instance, many banks charge overdraft fees when you buy an item and do not have sufficient funds. While in college, I often found myself not only with depleted bank account but also a hefty overdraft fee-usually around $35 dollars-after not closely monitoring my spending. It is hard to imagine now, but I was actually paying for my poor money management choices.

So, what are a few simple steps to balancing a budget? The first step you must do is actually total the money you receive monthly. Add the sum of all the income or support you receive-whether it is from a job, rental property or a relative. After figuring out your monthly income, next add up all your monthly bills-rent, mortgage, cell phone, water, gas, electricity etc. Once you have both of these numbers, subtract your total income from your expenses and what remains constitutes your surplus from each paycheck.

Now, many people decide to spend their surplus income on personal hobbies or entertainment. While it is certainly appropriate to spend a portion of your income on these items, it is not wise to spend all your extra money on dining, clothes or other luxury items. Instead, saving a portion or investing your money in a personal project allows you to invest in yourself and help you grow as a person. For example, I spent my summers while in college working for a landscape company, so I could invest in my education and myself. Although I had a lot of surplus money from the job-I lived with my parents during the summer and had almost no bills-I choose to invest and save for my education. This investment took years to pay-off, and I had to sacrifice going out and having fun; however, the “nest egg” I saved over the summer helped me pay for college expenses and develop a better future.

Finally, it is important to not see money management or a budget as a hindrance to your life. Instead, it is important to view it as a necessary tool to ensure a successful future. When I save money now, I do not feel as if I am “sacrificing” for tomorrow; rather, I recognize that I am ensuring I will have a safety net later in life. By positioning saving money as a “precaution,” it reframes it as a necessity and a much more essential part of my livelihood-rather than a burdensome sacrifice.

So, the next time you find yourself out of money at the end of the month or paying overdraft fees, reflect back on the techniques you are employing for managing money. Make sure you have developed a balanced budget, allotted “fun” money and are investing in your future. Whether you are a young professional or an individual nearing retirement, it is never too late to develop the skills necessary to managing money. Most importantly, do not think of budgeting money in detrimental manner. Rather than seeing it as a deterrent to your current life, view it as a necessary insurance policy to ensure a bright and secure future.