Financial Goals: How Much You Should Be Saving Every Month

When it comes to saving money, not many understand what the best practices are. They question how much they should work towards saving, as well as how much they would need to put away every month in order to meet those goals.

While it’s important to actively save, you need to, first, be aware of what your financial goals are. The overall practices for saving may be similar, but no person’s finances or life situations are the same, so what works for someone may not be the best strategy for you, and vice versa.

That being said, being mindful of these strategies is a great starting point for anyone looking to have more control over their financial future.

A Breakdown Of Financial Goals

As you are doing your research, be mindful that the financial goals of others may not help you reach your own financial goals. There are typically three different ways you can view your goals: short-term, long-term, and far-future.

Short-Term Goals

When planning for your financial future, your short-term goals are just as crucial as your long-term goals. You may not be able to predict expenses that may affect you in the next year or two, but it’s important that you have an emergency fund available to pull from when you need to. These short-term finances can cover areas like taxes, vacations, and unpredicted bills.

Long-Term Goals

When you save for your long-term goals, you are saving for major expenses that may arise within ten years. This could be money used to cover the down payment on your first – or new – home, as well as any significant renovations that need to be done. These finances could even be used to cover expensive vehicle repairs or even buying a new car.

Far-Future Goals

This is money that you should not plan to utilize within the next ten to fifteen years. Some choose to put their money into a savings account that will help their children pay for their tuition after they enroll into college. But this category should mostly be viewed as your support system for life after retirement.

Once you have determined your financial goals, you can better plan out how you will implement practices to save for each of those goals. The rule of thumb that most people follow is planning to save at least 20 percent of your income every month. 15 percent of that should be dedicated to your financial future, while the rest can be invested into your short-term fund.

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Work Towards Being Debt-Free With These Strategies

The word debt casts such a dark shadow in our minds. Finances are not only vital to supporting our lifestyles now, but they are necessary in order to fund our future endeavors. It is also important that we have some level of a security net to help us cover those unpredictable financial emergencies that can arise.

No one ever plans to be in debt. It is something that happens when we are not mindful of our spending habits and spend money above our means. Unfortunately, it is quite easy to succumb to debt. Spending money is very easy to do – and often quite fun. Making unnecessary purchases and funding frivolous ventures is an easy way to deplete your bank accounts. That is, however, not to say that all individuals in debt got there by being careless with their money. For example, even an entrepreneur who carefully builds a business and takes caution in strategizing for success may still find themselves in debt.

Whatever your situation, here are a few habits that will help to get you out of debt:

Stop spending more money.

You are in debt because you have spent money beyond your means, so the only way that you can make an impact on your current financial situation is to cut back on the money you are spending so as not to put yourself deeper into debt. You can’t make progress paying off debt if you continue adding to what you already owe.

Don’t only make the minimum payments.

Start dedicating more money to your monthly payments. Paying the minimum is tempting because it is a lower amount, but that only means that it is going to take you that much longer to pay off. This also increases the amount of interest you will be required to pay, which means that when everything is paid off, you have most likely spent double or even triple than what the original amount was.

If you can, focus your efforts on one particular debt.

If you have multiple debts, it may be impossible to increase your monthly payments towards all of them at the same time. Instead, choose one debt that you will increase payments for every month until it is paid off while still paying the minimum – or a little more if your budget allows for it – towards your other debts.

Consider credit card debt settlement.

This is not viewed as the most desirable way to get out of debt, but it is definitely an option. You can work with your creditors to formulate a deal where you can pay a larger amount towards your debt that is less than you originally owed and they will cancel out the rest of your debt.

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What Makes A Successful Investor

Investing is, by no means, an easy world to get involved in. If you are a beginning investor, it is difficult to see the kind of results that more experienced investors experience on a regular basis. Every investor has to work their way up from the bottom and that can only be done when you put yourself out there and try to discover your own identity as an investor.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to insert yourself into the process blind. Successful investors all share similar qualities, so keep these in mind for yourself as you begin your own journey – they are a good starting point that you can hone in on as you create your own identity.

They set realistic expectations.

Starting out, your portfolio will not be as strong as you want it to be. This will come over time as you learn to identify the best investment opportunities. But be mindful that even after you become more experienced, your portfolio may not be exceptional every single year. A good investor will not let these fluctuations in numbers cause them to make irrational decisions or to lose faith in their strategy, especially if these fluctuations are very infrequent. The best way to measure your portfolio’s performance is in periods of 10-year increments.

They are constantly learning from their experiences.

If you want to be a successful investor, one of the most detrimental things you can do to yourself is to become stagnant. Always do your research; always keep an open mind. If a decision you make fails, learn from it moving forward. Even if something you does succeeds, still use that as a learning opportunity for future decisions.

They are practiced in patience.

Never invest with your emotions. That only leads to rash decisions, which oftentimes means pulling out of an investment opportunity before you should. A successful investor knows that it takes persistence in order to get the most out of their strategy.

They surround themselves with other advisors.

In the world of investing, you may think that keeping your secrets and strategies to yourself will benefit you in the long-term, but it’s quite the opposite. Every successful investor surrounds themselves with both professional advisors as well as other investors. Be mindful of who you confide in – you should converse with other individuals who all have the intent of challenging one another rather than with people who only want to mirror what you are doing.

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How To Raise More Capital

The entire concept of raising money can be overwhelming to many. For small businesses, needing to raise more capital in order to fund their flourishing endeavors is an exciting idea, yet they aren’t quite sure how to accomplish it. The thought of going to a bank is intimidating because securing a loan that way is not only challenging due to their strict standards, but it can also be a lengthy process from start to finish.

If you are an entrepreneur who is looking to raise more money for your business, here are some strategies to keep in mind:

Be Confident In Your Request

Becoming an entrepreneur is a risky journey to take on. There will be people who will doubt that you will be able to successfully bring your ideas to fruition, including yourself. But accomplished entrepreneurs will tell you that in order to succeed, you must overcome that mindset and establish confidence in yourself. Then, when you are faced with challenges like raising capital, you can trust that your ability to problem-solve and rectify these issues will bring about resolutions.

Develop The Right Mindset To Bring In Capital

You may think that you may have a unique idea for a business or that, because your business is thriving at the moment, that everyone will believe in your business’ future. But that doesn’t mean that you will have investors knocking down your doors to give you money. If you get in the right frame of mind to sell your idea, you will be adequately prepared to acquire capital. If you don’t have much experience with raising funds, it will be beneficial to consult with a professional who can guide you through the process.

Put Together Appropriate Paperwork

When asking for money, you are going to need to prove that you are a worthy candidate. Just because you inquire about additional funds does not mean that they are guaranteed. You are going to need to provide an investor or lender with background information into your business, including your business plan and financial documentation, to prove that you are not in serious debt.

If your request for capital is ever turned down, don’t let that hinder your pursuits. Being rejected once, or even twice, does not mean that you don’t have a chance at securing the money you need to grow your business. Having a finance professional on your side will only help to give you a better chance at raising that extra funding!

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What Makes Some Financial Advisors Better Than Others

If you are in a situation that demands financial consultation, be weary of the person who you are seeking advice from. Money plays a very substantial part in not only our daily lives, but in our future stability as well.

Just because someone is a self-proclaimed financial advisor does not, in fact, mean that they are actually qualified to give financial advice. Following one piece of poor advice could result in a depletion of your fundamental savings. Trust your gut when selecting a financial advisor for yourself. If you have a distinct feeling of unease or distrust at the very beginning, those feelings are just going to worsen as time passes. It’s better to protect yourself before any damage is done.

How can you find the right financial advisor from you?

There are a few imperative qualifications that you should look for when searching for your financial advisor. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make, but the more experienced and knowledgeable your advisor is, the better advised you will be to make the most informed for you.

Education/Experience

Ask for the educational background of any advisor you are considering pursuing before you make your final decision. Everyone’s financial situation is unique, so wouldn’t you want your financial advisor to be experienced in your specific needs? If you don’t feel comfortable asking them outright, research them online. Their professional website and online persona should be able to provide you with a basis of understanding before you pursue them further.

Additional Certifications

A good financial advisor must continue seek out further knowledge even after graduation. You can do research on what certain certifications mean and what the process to attain them looks like. Some of the top certifications require immense effort, which shows how dedicated someone is to their role.

How They Get Paid

An advisor who works off of commission is a riskier option than one who gets paid hourly or a fixed fee. If they are working for commission, more conflicts of interest tend to arise because you often don’t remain at the center of their focus.

Your Financial Future

Another attribute that not many people think to look for is transparency. A good financial advisor will work hard to help you understand the work they are doing for you so that, in the future, you will be able to come more financially independent. Be wary of advisors who tell you that the process is too complicated that you will never truly be able to do it without their input. These advisors may just want to continue to make money off of you, rather than give you a foundation to build from on your own.

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3 Mistakes Your Salespeople Could Be Making

Your team is the backbone of your business. When they succeed, you succeed. If you have devoted your time to building a team of strong, motivated individuals, you will reap the rewards as you watch your business steadily flourish. Because you have built a strong foundation at the core of your business, the growth of your company will not succumb to a shaky infrastructure. You can have peace of mind knowing that the most important areas of your business are stable.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances, not every team is as capable. You may not always be able to predict where failure could arise when putting together your team. Similarly, there may be behaviors or practices that your team implements that may not seem detrimental, but can actually affect your company’s bottom line.

These behaviors or practices often stem from salespeople trying to put into practice strategies that they have learned from other professionals. However, these strategies are often outdated and possess attributes that have since been improved upon and replaced by better tactics.

If you notice a stagnation or regression in sales, look for these 3 common sales mistakes:

1. The Avid-Caller

After the initial sales pitch, it’s important to re-open the line of communication again for a follow-up, especially if there has been silence from the client’s end. The best practice to implement would be to schedule a future call with a prospect in advance. If there is no timeline set in place and an extended period of time passes since the initial conversation, a salesperson may try to make up for lost time by constantly trying to reach the client via phone. Many clients perceive this as intrusive, especially if they lead very busy lives, and will either chose to avoid returning your call or, if they do call you back, will be more temperamental.

2. Lack Of Background Research

If you are attempting to reach out to a prospective client, you must do a little digging around before the initial phone call or in-person meeting. If they can sense that you know nothing about them or their business, they are going to interpret your intent as being extremely impersonal.

3. Talking Badly Of The Competition

Your products or services may, in fact, be better than that of your competition. But playing this card at any point during your conversation with a potential client makes you appear very desperate. Instead of calling your competition into question, research their products or services before talking to a client and strategically highlight the positives of your brand so that, subconsciously, they are choosing your business over the competition without feeling like they are being told to do so.

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A Guide For Investing In The Stock Market

Investing your money is a very unnerving process, especially if you plan on investing in the stock market. There is no rulebook for investing your money that will promise the most profitable results, primarily because the stock market is so unpredictable. We invest because we want our money to grow; since we can’t predict the trajectory of the stock market, there are a few guidelines we can follow to ensure that we are at least investing smartly.

Don’t let your emotions dictate your decisions.

Emotional investing is a guaranteed way to lose money. The illusion of fast money turns people into greedy, irrational investors. Talk of quick wealth leads people to make rash decisions, often resulting in investments done with little to no research or a lack of understanding in where exactly their money is going. While some let greed steer their investments, others let fear rule their decisions. In a moment of panic, some investors will sell their shares at a very low price, thus not allowing adequate time for their money to grow.

Don’t do anything just because everyone else is.

You are not part of a herd so “I did it because everyone else was doing it” should never be a reason for why you invest in a certain stock. That’s not to say that it might never happen that way, but don’t solely base your decision on numbers without doing any additional research first.

Do your research so you can make the most informed decisions.

Like with any big decision, you should do the proper research. One mistake that investors make is basing their investment on industry or company name only. Just because the industry or company is popular at the moment doesn’t mean that your investment will be the most profitable. Do your research and understand the business and industry you are investing in before you make your decision.

Diversify your portfolio.

We all have preferences towards different industries or companies, but part of your strategy should be to diversify your portfolio. While it may be tempting, never invest everything into one business. A more diverse portfolio has the probability of yielding a higher profit!

Set realistic expectations.

Of course, the goal of investing is to be more profitable and it would be unreasonable for you not to hope for the best outcome for your investments. However, setting goals on unrealistic expectations is going to lead you down a very troubling and risky path.

Now that you have some background on how to invest in the stock market, you can be better equipped to strategize for the most profitable path to your financial goals.

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Strong Partnerships Make For A More Successful Business

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Businesses that are built upon sturdy foundations will be able to withstand the ups and downs that come with running a business. One way to begin building a strong foundation is to build strong partnerships.

Business development is about more than short-term growth. It is about harnessing practices that will foster fruitful relationships, which will encourage success in the future, not just at the onset. When you build partnerships, you are doing more than just accumulating clients one-by-one. While both are important, concentrating on generating leads through partnerships will prove more productive and prosperous, even though it may take a little longer to see results.

What are the best methods to start developing these partnerships? Here are some of my tips for preparing and implementing these methods.

Be Selective

Yes, in some cases being selective can be better for your business. Prioritize by narrowing down your options to those that would make the most sense for your business. Think: what do you provide your customer base? You would want to find a partner that shares a similar buyer as you so your services can work together to not only benefit the buyer, but benefit both of you.

It’s Not A Competition

Sharing a customer base with a partner may mean that an opportunity for a sale may overlap. It is important that you have some sort of arrangement in place so that clients can be delegated to the appropriate business so that you both aren’t stealing business from one another. These partnerships are meant to increase sales on both sides, not to take them away.

Be Patient

Quick leads are great, but they aren’t always rewarding in the long-term. Partnerships are centered around relationship building, which takes times. Both sides should be aware of this at the beginning so that impatience doesn’t cause the relationship to be cut short. Use this time to build a strong connection so that when the growth does start to happen, you will already have a stable alliance.

You Scratch Their Back And They’ll Scratch Yours

Just like in personal relationships, both sides should be focused on helping one another grow. It’s the same for businesses. Your goal is to expand, but so is your partner’s. Think about how you can positively impact them when you make your pitch!

Have An Exit Plan

Even if you follow these guidelines perfectly, it doesn’t guarantee a healthy partnership. You might realize down the road that, for whatever reason, you just can’t find a mutual ground with your partner where both of you are benefitting from the relationship. Avoid making long-term contractual agreements at the beginning in case things don’t go as planned. You don’t want to be locked into a dysfunctional partnership that could end up hurting your business. Also, by making it clear that both sides have the choice to leave at any time, it will make each side work a little harder to maintain a relationship that is working.

Business development that is focused on strategic partnerships will plant seeds that may require extra care at the beginning, but will bear fruit in the years to come. Be selective, develop a strategy that will work for both sides, and develop a mutual trust for one another and you will soon reap the benefits.

6 Simple Tax Mistakes That Could Cost You

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There aren’t many people who enjoy doing their taxes. If I’m being honest, is there anyone who actually enjoys completing their tax forms every year?

When faced with a project that feels more like pulling teeth than anything gratifying, our natural response is to push the project as far down our to-do lists as possible. This procrastination is often to blame for simple mistakes that end up being very costly or time-consuming for an individual to eradicate.

Don’t wait until the last week to organize bank statements, unearth receipts that have been hidden in folders and pockets throughout the year, or gather all other important documents that are necessary in completing your forms. This will result in a rushed filing and, according to the professionals, the more you rush, the more likely you are to make mistakes, which can result in costly penalties, delays in receiving your refund, or a higher risk for an audit.

Here are the 6 common tax mistakes that individuals make that are easily avoidable:

1. Math Miscalculations

The math involved when filing your return is enough to give anyone a headache, but even moreso for those who have difficulty understanding and applying basic math. If you prefer the classic pen-to-paper method of filing, I strongly recommend using a calculator or a spreadsheet. If you don’t have a preference, this may be the year to consider filing electronically. The IRS reports that error rates for paper returns typically come in at around 21%, which is substantially higher than the 1% of error rates that happen when electronically filed. Depending on your income, you can even file electronically for free.

2. Not Filing On Time

If you have all of the necessary documentation to file your return, waiting until the last minute to file may just be mentally taxing. However, in a lot of cases, late filers will experience problems when filling out their returns that will cause them to miss the deadline, resulting in penalty fees and interest on the taxes they do owe. Give yourself time to file! If you know you are going to be cutting it close, file for an extension.

3. Incomplete Or Incorrect Information

You are not always going to be required to fill out every space on a return, which makes it difficult to see when you do forget an important section. Have last year’s return visible so that you can at least be sure that you covered those bases, but then make sure to read over the return carefully in case there is a section that would apply to this year that didn’t apply to a previous year. When re-reading your return, make sure to double-check that all numbers are recorded properly and everything is spelled correctly.

4. Missed Tax Deductions Or Credits

If you are rushing to file, you only have time to think about the obvious information you are required to report. But what about the deductions or tax credits that you may be eligible for? These are not going to seem as obvious, which is why people need to do a little researching before filing. Having children, being a student, or living in a low-income household are all examples of tax breaks that are available to tax filers that could apply to you.

5. Unrecorded Additional Income

Your salary is not the only income that you will report on. If you worked a side job at any point during the year, or have any additional source of income coming your way, you must report it when you are filing your tax return. Depending on when your oversight is detected, you could end up owing penalty fees and interest on what you didn’t report.

6. Missing Signature

Perhaps one of the simplest aspects of filling out your return, you would be surprised at how many people forget to sign their names as the final step of the process. An unsigned return cannot be processed by the IRS, so it’s crucial that you remember to do this. And if you are filing a joint return, both spouses will need to sign. For electronic returns, your virtual signature will take the form of a PIN number that you will receive.

If you are anticipating being overwhelmed as you begin to fill out your tax returns, get help. This will ensure that you don’t overlook any aspect of the filing process, big or small. Because as you can see in these mistakes listed above, even the smallest mistakes can hold significant consequences.

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Embracing patience is key to creating an innovation culture — #CornellFamBiz

New executives can lead innovation at family firms by accepting failure as a necessary part of the innovation process, Cornell University innovation expert Allan Filipowicz said at a CKGSB-Cornell University event in New York. “Innovation is going to be very, very slow,” said Professor Filipowicz, who is the Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations at […]

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