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Financial Planning Tips http://financialplanningtips.net Thu, 15 Oct 2015 03:32:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.8 Your Top Forex Trading Questions Answered http://financialplanningtips.net/your-top-forex-trading-questions-answered/ Wed, 12 Feb 2014 02:34:26 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7377 Even though the forex market is the largest financial market in the world with a trading volume of $4 trillion a day, many traders remain unaware of its existence, instead focusing on retail trades, leaving the world of forex to be a relative enigma. Its status as an enigma derives from the fact that forex only hit the mainstream a decade or so ago. Beforehand, it was usually the plaything of financial institutions, multinational corporations and secretive hedge funds. Now, however, anyone can trade forex, so, let’s decode the mystery and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about forex:

“What’s So Different About Forex?”

Unlike other so called ‘traditional trading options’, the forex is not traded on a regulated exchange, and all members trade with each other on credit agreements. This makes forex both the largest and the most liquid financial market in the world. Although it seems a little ad hoc and dangerous, it works very well, with self regulation providing a good level of control.

As well as this, many people prefer forex markets because there is no limit on position size and no insider trading regulations, particularly as much of the data that influences the markets is leaked days in advance of the official announcement. The sheer size and scale of the market make it the most active and easily accessible in the world.

“What Am I Really Selling Or Buying?”

Although this may seem like a hard concept to grasp, you aren’t actually buying or selling anything in the forex market as it is purely speculative and no physical currency ever changes hands, with all trades and profits being distributed via computer systems.

Although designed primarily for banks and large financial institutions, forex has now become accessible to all investors and, although these institutions still use the markets to conduct their transactions that involve foreign investors, this only accounts for just under a quarter of the market, with just short of 80 percent of all transactions being based on speculative price movements. Remember, however, just because transactions are entries onto computers and do not involve physical cash changing hands, this does not make them any less real.

“How Can I Get Involved?”

The increasing popularity of forex trading means that getting involved in the markets is easier than ever before. Firstly, it is wise to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you begin, as jumping straight in at the deep end can be a costly error. There are two ways that you can do this, and both are generally either free or low cost.

Firstly, make sure you increase your knowledge bank. There are a number of great research tools available that are forex specific, but if these are too complicated for you to handle, start by reading relevant news articles and assessing them against charts that show price movements. Once you’re happy with this, you’re up to stage two: opening a demo account.

A demo account is the perfect try before you buy feature. Here, you can test what you’ve learnt before risking your own money. This way, you can try the forex world and see if it really is the right place for you.

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The Top 6 Retirement Planning Resources on the Internet http://financialplanningtips.net/the-top-6-retirement-planning-resources-on-the-internet/ Tue, 14 Jan 2014 09:03:10 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7371 Financial security has become a more real concern for most individuals as we continue to struggle toward an uncertain future and attempt to plan for retirement as best we can. It is a very real fact that a significant number of families are living paycheck to paycheck, barely able to make ends meet, while trying to support their loved ones in an unstable economic environment. Despite the immediate needs of your family, however, you should still be looking forward into the future and making plans to establish a reasonably secure retirement plan.

There are many resources on the Internet that can help you plan for retirement in a variety of ways. Some of these resources offer tips and advice while others provide financial tools, calculators, and methods of estimating where you will be financially once you reach retirement age. Here are the top six retirement planning resources on the Internet, where you can learn more about making sure that your future is as financially secure as possible:

#1: What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan

The United States Department of Labor offers a 10 chapter retirement planning guide titled What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan that can give you a detailed look at several different aspects of retirement. The guide covers different types of retirement plans, how you can fund your retirement, claiming your benefits, plus a great deal of other useful information.

#2: Wealth Ruler

Wealth Ruler is a free online tool offered by TD Ameritrade that gives you an overview of the steps you need to take today to secure your financial future for tomorrow. It provides a visual graph that displays key information relating to your retirement planning and how you can meet your goals.

#3: Retirement Planning Tool (Market Watch)

Market Watch by the Wall Street Journal offers an online retirement planning tool that can help you determine if your retirement planning activities are on track to ensure that your future finances will provide you with what you need when you reach retirement.

#4: Retirement Calculator

An online Retirement Calculator by Charles Schwab takes your entered data and gives you a look at where you stand financially at your expected retirement age. They also offer other resources relating to retirement, including a question and answer section and planning information for meeting your retirement goals.

#5: My Retirement Plan Savings Calculator

Wells Fargo Bank offers an online Retirement Plan Savings Calculator, and you do not need to be an account holder to make use of the tool. The tool lets you know where you stand financially today, what you need to do over the next part of your life to get where you want to be, and offers advice and guidance for financial planning and saving.

#6: Blueprint Retirement Planning

Blueprint Wealth offers a “blueprint” approach to help individuals better plan for retirement. They combine retirement planning quizzes, retirement plans, tips for borrowing from retirement plans to purchase property, retirement flowcharts, etc to help people follow the steps to their owner personalized Blueprint SMSF Setup.

Many employers offer retirement savings plans and other financial options that can help you save for your future, so make sure you are doing all you can to ensure your security when you reach the point where you no longer want to work or can no longer work due to age or physical limitations. It’s your future and it is up to you to make sure that you have a plan in place that will provide you with the financial security you need to continue enjoying life long after you have retired from the workforce.

About the Author

Nicole writes about the latest in the financial planning and retirement planning industries. She loves teaching people how to better manage their finances and plan properly for retirement.

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Experts Say Now is the Time to Invest in Diamonds! http://financialplanningtips.net/experts-say-now-is-the-time-to-invest-in-diamonds/ Tue, 07 Jan 2014 01:16:45 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7367 Marilyn Monroe’s performance of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes certainly popularized the saying, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” But, recent trends in the diamond market now also suggest they are an investor’s best friend. It’s believed that reductions in production and increases in demand are soon to cause the value of diamonds to skyrocket.

In the wake of the 2008 recession, big dollar investors looked for new, non-monetary realms in which to invest. Diamonds provided a highly-portable option. The demand caused values to jump 70 percent between mid-2009 and early 2011. As fear of another economic downturn subsided, so too did the value of these shiny gems. Their value crashed by roughly 30 percent.

A Slowdown in Production

During the recession, rough-diamond producers responded to the decrease in prices by cutting their planned output. As the economy recovers, so too has diamond production, though only modestly says Bain & Company in The Global Diamond Report 2013. By 2019, they predict that rough diamond production will start to drop by 1.9 percent a year.

This could have to do with some technical problems, as it did during the recession. The better bet, analysts at Citigroup suggest, is this decrease relates to the declining discovery of kimberlites. (Kimberlites, also called blue ground, are the host rock for most diamonds.) Additionally, as fewer diamonds are found, stockpiles will dry up.

Growing Demands

Demands for diamonds in the United States continues to be steady. Bending knees and heartfelt proposals have long been tied to the tradition of diamond-studded rings in the “New World”. But, the trend has become equally as popular in China and India where more and more engaged couples are excitedly displaying their love with these precious rocks. In Shanghai alone, the number of engaged couples sporting diamond rings has roughly doubled.

As the middle class continues to grow in these two population hubs, it’s believed that so too will the demand. Jewelry sales rose a 1.8 percent from 2011 to 2012, topping out at $72 billion. The potential for skyrocketing prices is so great, Forbes has even suggested couples pre-plan their engagement ring.

Valuation (Determining a Diamond’s Value)

Appraisal standards are not standardized leaving diamond investors and potential diamond investors in a risky frontier. Uncertainties such as quality, mining practices, feuding warlords and aggressive terrorists make investing far from a sure thing.

Yet, GemShares has devised a standardized valuation practice known as the GemShares Global Investment Grade Standard (GIGS). PR Newswire says the GIGS gives investors a set of, “Gemological, proportional, optical and light-behavior guidelines.”

However, regardless of the GIGS or any other valuation standard, one thing is certain – placing the value on this expensive commodity is best left to the professionals. Trying your eye at pricing diamonds might be a fun party game, but when it comes to actually investing your wealth, it is wise to talk to those with a good deal of experience.

Beyond the Investor

Rough-diamond producers are ramping up productivity to meet the growing demands. While they are seeing a growth in revenue, it’s currently the middlemen who are enjoying the biggest influx. Polishers and cutters have been able to double and even triple their margins as the needs have increased.

On the retail side, stores are looking for ways to secure a long-term stock of quality stones. Some are even looking for ways to invest in the supply chain itself. But, if the discovery of kimberlites continues to decline, this investment could prove fruitless.

About the Author

Nicole is a blogger for the mining industry. She enjoys researching and writing about anything to do with mining. In her opinion, www.allightsykes.com/ offers the best mining products on the market.

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Direct Deposit: The Secret Weapon for Saving http://financialplanningtips.net/direct-deposit-the-secret-weapon-for-saving-2/ Tue, 26 Nov 2013 02:36:39 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7343 The youngsters of the world may not be aware that there was once a time when you received a paper paycheck, usually handed to you by your boss. You then had to take that check, endorse it, and stand on line at the bank to deposit the funds in your account. Then it typically took a few days for the check to process. In today’s world this is almost unheard-of, as everyone with a salaried job has direct deposit. With direct deposit, you supply your bank routing information to your employer and they electronically transfer funds to your account on payday no checks, no waiting in line, and no delays.

What a lot of people don’t consider is that direct deposit can be set up in different ways, and as a result can be a powerful tool for saving money, whether in general or for a specific purpose. It’s easy to set up and has a ton of advantages over trying to save money “manually” by putting money aside yourself.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Quick, how much did you pay in state taxes on your income last pay period? You don’t know, without looking at your check. In fact, we all often forget that our actual take-home pay is quite reduced from our supposed salary by automatic deductions for taxes, insurance payments, dues, and retirement account contributions. These are all taken out of our salary before we get the money, and as a result it’s a painless process we forget all about.

That can work for your savings, as well. By setting up a separate direct deposit for your savings account and having a portion of your salary automatically routed to it, you’re saving money without having to think consciously about it. This means you also don’t get the opportunity to decide not to make this week’s transfer, do you whereas now you can always decide you “can’t afford” to move money into savings, with direct deposit its just happens magically.

Focus

The other great aspect of saving via direct deposit is that you can either have a portion of your income deposited in a general savings account like a Money Market, or you can create an account specifically for a purpose for example, holiday shopping, or a vacation. Have a small amount of your salary sliced off into this account over a period of months, and when the time comes you have a preset budget for this event or activity that has accumulated painlessly. In the same way we fool ourselves into thinking of tax refunds as “free money” instead of money we loaned the government at zero interest, this is money we loaned ourselves but since it’s in a savings account, we at least earned a little interest on it!

The power of Direct Deposit lies in its hidden nature. If you set up a direct deposit savings plan, forget you did so as quickly as you can. The longer you can leave it alone to soak up interest and accumulate deposits, the more pleasantly surprised you’ll be when you check the balance.

About the author: Stephen Hart is a finance expert and owner of comparison site cardswitcher.co.uk, a site built to allow SME’s to easily compare card payment fees in the UK and find the cheapest option for their payment processing.

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Shopping Around to Save Money http://financialplanningtips.net/shopping-around-to-save-money/ Thu, 26 Sep 2013 03:02:54 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7227 When you’re trying to save money, you will be aware that every penny you save will help you in the long run. With this being true, it is important that you think about all the areas of life in which you could save money. Therefore, it is imperative that you not only shop around to save money, but take the time to put in effort to do things without professional help. Here, we will explore this point in more detail.

Price comparison websites can really help

One of the best things that you can do is to use price comparison websites to take a look at where you should be buying the things that you get daily. Although you may think that you are currently buying everything for a great price, the chances are you will be able to get them cheaper.

If you continue to shop ‘normally’ without checking the prices you are paying you could waste a lot of money. Remember, prices change as do the stores that you currently shop in. The cheapest supermarket six months ago may not be the most cost-effective one now. Fortunately there are plenty of people, sites and forums that are willing to help you.

Food or grocery shopping is very expensive

To save money on food shopping is another thing that can be very helpful. If you’re anything like the majority of people, you will simply use one supermarket all the time without thinking whether you could get things a little more cheaply elsewhere. By taking a look around, you may find bargains that you never thought were even available.

The same can be said for home improvement

In addition, you also need to take a look at how much money you’re spending on home improvement items. This is something that a lot of people need, yet they won’t have the knowledge to understand if they are getting a good price. Using the Internet gives you the chance to find value home improvement equipment. For instance, we will all need basic hand tools from time to time, and when we find the right place, we can use them time and time again.

If you take the time to think about everything in your daily life that you spend money on, then you should find that you are able to save money in the long term. This means that you can save it to spend on something you really like or have wanted to treat yourself to for a while, or even put it towards a much larger purchase. So, don’t delay, ensure you’re getting the best prices on everything that you buy, as this is something that will pay handsomely if you do it over a long period of time.

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Direct Deposit: The Secret Weapon for Saving http://financialplanningtips.net/direct-deposit-the-secret-weapon-for-saving/ Thu, 26 Sep 2013 03:00:01 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7183 The youngsters of the world may not be aware that there was once a time when you received a paper paycheck, usually handed to you by your boss. You then had to take that check, endorse it, and stand on line at the bank to deposit the funds in your account. Then it typically took a few days for the check to process. In today’s world this is almost unheard-of, as everyone with a salaried job has direct deposit. With direct deposit, you supply your bank routing information to your employer and they electronically transfer funds to your account on payday no checks, no waiting in line, and no delays.

What a lot of people don’t consider is that direct deposit can be set up in different ways, and as a result can be a powerful tool for money saving, whether in general or for a specific purpose. It’s easy to set up and has a ton of advantages over trying to save money “manually” by putting money aside yourself.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Quick, how much did you pay in state taxes on your income last pay period? You don’t know, without looking at your check. In fact, we all often forget that our actual take-home pay is quite reduced from our supposed salary by automatic deductions for taxes, insurance payments, dues, and retirement account contributions. These are all taken out of our salary before we get the money, and as a result it’s a painless process we forget all about.

 

That can work for your savings, as well. By setting up a separate direct deposit for your savings account and having a portion of your salary automatically routed to it, you’re saving money without having to think consciously about it. This means you also don’t get the opportunity to decide not to make this week’s transfer, do you whereas now you can always decide you “can’t afford” to move money into savings, with direct deposit its just happens magically.

Focus

The other great aspect of saving via direct deposit is that you can either have a portion of your income deposited in a general savings account like a Money Market, or you can create an account specifically for a purpose for example, holiday shopping, or a vacation. Have a small amount of your salary sliced off into this account over a period of months, and when the time comes you have a preset budget for this event or activity that has accumulated painlessly. In the same way we fool ourselves into thinking of tax refunds as “free money” instead of money we loaned the government at zero interest, this is money we loaned ourselves but since it’s in a savings account, we at least earned a little interest on it!

The power of Direct Deposit lies in its hidden nature. If you set up a direct deposit savings plan, forget you did so as quickly as you can. The longer you can leave it alone to soak up interest and accumulate deposits, the more pleasantly surprised you’ll be when you check the balance.

About the author: Stephen Hart is a finance expert and owner of comparison site cardswitcher.co.uk, a site built to allow SME’s to easily compare card payment fees in the UK and find the cheapest option for their payment processing.

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Top Tips for Buying Property http://financialplanningtips.net/top-tips-for-buying-property/ Tue, 20 Aug 2013 00:42:45 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=7018 Searching for a new home can be a tricky process, whether you are looking to make your first step onto the property ladder or are trying to find the new family home. If you are struggling, here are our tips to finding the perfect balance between finance, availability and of course suitability for your needs.

Figuring out your finances

Money obviously plays an important role in purchasing a property and the general rule of thumb for a traditional mortgage is that you can borrow three times your gross annual income. Over the last few years the government has launched schemes designed to help first time buyers get onto the property market, these schemes have proved invaluable to those struggling to save up the large deposits required my most lenders. It is important to ensure that you do not borrow more than you can feasibly pay back, generally your repayments should not be more than 35% of your net monthly income.

Once you have worked out what you can afford, it is time to look at the properties available to you. If you are looking for an older property that will need some TLC, remember that you will need to put aside money for improvements. Be prepared to be flexible with your choices, unless you are choosing a new build property, chances are you will need to compromise on some of your preferences. Ensure that you cast a wide net when searching for your new home, utilise local estate agencies, online property sites and local newspapers to ensure that you do not miss out on any properties. Location is key, however nice the property is you cannot change the area that it is in therefore it is best to consider the following factors when you have found a potential abode.

  • Is it accessible for work? Are friends and family nearby?
  • Are there suitable facilities nearby such as shops, schools, restaurants and parks?
  • Can you easily park in front of your home?
  • What are the schools in the area like?
  • What are the area’s crime statistics?

It is best to have a healthy cautious attitude when it comes to scoping out your location, ask the seller why they are choosing the leave and visit the property both during the day and at night to make sure it does not change from a suburban dream to a crime filled nightmare. Buying a home or getting one at an auction is a huge financial decision so it is important that you are 100% happy with your decision.

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Surviving Sequestration http://financialplanningtips.net/surviving-sequestration/ Tue, 13 Aug 2013 00:56:23 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=6990 Using Sequestration to get Free Through Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Your right to file for bankruptcy was carved into the Constitution by the founding fathers of this nation in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, before the right to free speech and the right to bear arms. Our market economy relies upon the acquisition of debt to allow us to purchase homes, automobiles, and take chances as entrepreneurs. Families plan their budgets, including what debt is manageable, according to their planned income. Under sequestration, the Border Patrol personnel have faced reductions in income from 25-30% through no fault of their own. Those debts that were once manageable can now seem absolutely insurmountable.

Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code allows individuals with regular income to settle debts with creditors for a fraction of what is owed. The bankruptcy process bunches debt into two basic categories, secured and unsecured. “Secured” means the value of property secures the debt, and “unsecured” means there is no property that can be taken to satisfy the debt. In bankruptcy, secured creditors interest are protected, but unsecured creditors may only get a percentage of what they’re owed. In short, secured debt stays the same throughout the bankruptcy process, while unsecured debt may be reduced through bankruptcy to give relief from what would otherwise be an impossible financial situation. But the bankruptcy laws can be used to change how some debts are defined and treated in the bankruptcy process.

In a Chapter 13, the individual’s disposable monthly income (DMI) determines the amount paid back to creditors. DMI is found by taking the net income of the individual and deducting living expenses. The Bankruptcy Code requires monthly payments in a bankruptcy plan for 60 months, and so the total amount you can repay is determined by multiplying your DMI by those 60 months. Once you repay that amount, you are left with your secured debts and absolved of your unsecured debt.

Two especially important aspects of bankruptcy, available through Chapter 13, allow debts that at the start are secured to be shifted to the unsecured debts. Allowing for a more manageable amount of debt after a successful bankruptcy, the first is lien stripping, and the second is the car value cramdown.

Lien Stripping Getting rid of that second lien. Lien stripping allows you to challenge the value of secured debt when you have more than one lien on the property and are underwater on the first lien. This bankruptcy tool is especially relevant in today’s housing market where many homeowners owe more on a first loan than the value of the property. In this situation, where the individual has two liens, and is underwater on the first, the Bankruptcy Code allows the debtor to shift the second one out of the “secured” category, and add it to the “unsecured” category. Let’s take the example of someone with a first and second mortgage. You have a first for $500,000, and a second for $200,000. The value of the home is $499,000.00. The Code allows you to strip off that second mortgage and make that $200,000 join the unsecured debt. Once you have paid off the amount required by the plan, you are freed from your 2nd mortgage.

This applies not only to homes, but also to automobiles or any other item you purchase with a security agreement, such as an RV, boat, or other items in which you might have two liens.

Car Value Cramdowns Two ways to get ahead. The car value cramdown changes the value of the secured debt owed on a car in two ways. The amount the dealer paid to pay off your old car’s loan when it was traded in, the negative equity, can be changed from the “secured” column to the “unsecured” column. In addition, the car loan can be crammed down to the present day value of the car. When a new car is purchased through a trade-in, and the buyer owed more on the old car than the trade-in value, many times the car dealer will pay off the outstanding amount, and add the paid off amount to the loan on the new car. This amount is called the negative equity in the new car, and the shifting of this amount to the “unsecured” column is the focus of the negative equity cramdown. For example, you trade in your old car for $6,000, but you still owe $10,000 on it. The new car is only $16,000, so the car dealer pays off the remaining $4,000 you owe and adds it to the loan for the new car. You now have a car worth $16,000 and a loan for $20,000. Through bankruptcy, you can cram down the amount of the loan to the value of the car, $16,000, and take the $4,000 and add it to the unsecured debts.

The second car value cramdown follows the demands of bankruptcy law that any secured claim by a creditor is only secured to the extent of the value of the property. In short, it gets the amount of the loan secured by the car to be recognized at the present day value of the vehicle. So that same car that cost $16,000 is now a few years old and Blue Book has it listed as only being worth $9,000. Different courts use different means to find the present day value, but we’ll use Blue Book to keep it simple. So, at the start of the filing for bankruptcy, the car’s value is $9,000 and the loan is still at $16,000. Through bankruptcy the “secured” claim by the dealer can be crammed down to the value of the car, $9,000, and take the $7,000 and add it to the unsecured debts.

So now take our example individual with $100,000 in unsecured debt with a DMI of $300. The total amount of repayment is $18,000 and so we have an 18% plan. To start, the individual has $720,000 in secured debt that will ride through bankruptcy and not be reduced like the unsecured debt. After the lien stripping and car value cramdown, the unsecured debt becomes $311,000 and the secured debt is now only $509,000. Through bankruptcy, $211,000 has been changed from secured debt to unsecured debt which shares in a portion of the plan’s $18,000. The plan is now a 3.5% plan. The individual will now come out of Chapter 13 with only the first loan on the house, and the loan on the car will only be for the present value of the car and won’t include the value of the old trade-in car. Most importantly, $311,000 of unsecured debt is taken off the shoulders of the individual, and they can have a fresh start. Once you’ve paid your $18,000, you have your home, your car, and freedom from your unsecured debts.

Sequestration’s impact on income, although painful, offers a short window of opportunity to get out from under crushing debt as never before. Bankruptcy offers individuals affected by this horrible legislation the tools necessary to reduce their unsecured debts, and return them to a position where they can get back to responsible debt management.

As the foremost bankruptcy attorney in San Diego, The McMillan Law Group is the first choice for anyone seeking financial freedom. Call Alan at 858-499-8951

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How To Fund University Fees Later In Life http://financialplanningtips.net/how-to-fund-university-fees-later-in-life/ Tue, 30 Jul 2013 01:55:44 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=6934 Education can be incredibly expensive. With university fees constantly increasing, obtaining advanced degrees is becoming more difficult every day. So rather than burden themselves with heavy student debts, many are simply giving up their aspirations for higher education, deeming it out of reach. Others looking to study later on in life after working and starting a family, find it impossible to find the additional finances for study after paying the bills and mortgage.

Yet a lack of professional qualifications is often a major obstacle in the path to career advancement. Companies frequently hire recent graduates with advanced degrees to fill senior positions, rather than promoting ‘under-qualified’ professionals with years of practical knowledge and expertise from among their own ranks. So many professionals today are eager to obtain further education, but daunted by the tough task of funding it due to already restricted finances. Fortunately, however, there are numerous ways to advance your skills and earn qualifications whatever your situation:

Employer-Assisted Education

When employees can demonstrate that further education will benefit the companies they work for, many employers are willing to help fund courses. Advanced professional certifications are by far the most common employer-assisted programs, but some companies even pay for university degrees in certain situations.

If your current boss can’t help, however, another option is to look outside the company. So talk to headhunters and polish up your resume. Even if it means taking a temporary pay cut or moving to a lower position, finding a company that will invest in your education is a great opportunity for long-term growth—especially if your career is stagnating at your current position. Sometimes it takes a step back to make a leap forward.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants aren’t just for undergraduates. There are countless ways to get a free education these days. But the only people who win them are those who apply for as many as possible.

Working Days, Learning Nights

Community colleges and online courses are popular options for professionals looking to advance their expertise. If you have the patience and determination, working days and studying at night or on weekends is an inexpensive way to obtain degrees. It takes self-discipline, but this course layout can work for those who can’t afford to leave full time employment. It can take longer to complete your degree if you are limited due to family responsibilities however if it means you can maintain family life AND gain your degree, it is definitely worth the hard work.

Non-Degree Courses

There are also a multitude of free and inexpensive workshops, conferences, seminars, lectures, and non-degree courses to help professionals grow in their industries. Whether you are looking to rise in the ranks of your current company or start your own business, these resources are invaluable for obtaining the skills you’ll need to excel.

Free Resources

The Internet is by far the most powerful educational resource humans have ever had access to. So why not utilize it? MIT offers free advanced courses online, as does UC Berkeley, along with many of the world’s top institutions. Meanwhile, TED talks, YouTube tutorials, web-based universities, educational forums, and online libraries provide a wealth of knowledge. The resources to learn through self-study are more accessible and comprehensive than ever. If you have the self-disciple, there is nothing holding you back.

The point of education is to increase personal value. So programs that undermine your financial growth without providing clear long-term benefits are counterproductive. Far too many professionals today pursue higher education by common means, and fail to obtain the money saving resources within their reach. If you want to gain new skills and knowledge, you don’t have to spend all your money doing so. Simply take the time to explore your options, seek opportunities wherever you can find them, and stop relying on the traditional systems that are becoming more and more expensive every day.

About the author: Kirsten studied at university in her mid twenties. Used to the comfort of a regular income which supported the bills and mortgage, and being married with a young family, she struggled to find a way it was possible to attend university without risking her family lifestyle. However she successfully completed her degree in 2011 after studying part time, and set up her own jewellery website kirstenhendrich.com.

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The Top 5 Qualities to Look For in an IT Consultant http://financialplanningtips.net/the-top-5-qualities-to-look-for-in-an-it-consultant/ Tue, 30 Jul 2013 01:53:19 +0000 http://financialplanningtips.net/?p=6944 Choosing a management service provider (MSP) or IT consultant for a small or medium business can be a daunting undertaking. To get the right kind of tech support, there are particular qualities that you need to be looking for. Below are the top five qualities of a good MSP or IT professional.

Service Range

This is an important aspect when looking for the right kind of tech support for your business. You need to get a wide range of IT services from your IT consulting company. This includes both network support and server management among other services. This will save you money as well as ensure that your network is always up and running.

Availability

Your IT consultant should be available round the clock. This includes prompt service for both remote and on-site IT support. Networks can fail at any time, which is why it is so important that someone be on call to solve any network problems as quickly as possible to reduce on downtime.

Experience and Reputation

It goes without saying that you need an IT professional who has the right kind of experience and a good reputation. You can consult with other businesses to find out where they are getting their IT support. You can also check their current clients, and contact them to see how satisfied they are with the support that they are getting. You also need to know that your provider works with other reputable vendors to help you out when needed.

Customer Service

Again, this is an important quality to look for in an IT consultancy company. You need a service that is geared to your exact needs, and that you are comfortable with. Your IT consultant should be relatable, and be able to explain technical jargon in a language that you can understand. Again, talking to other clients can give you a good idea of what kind of customer service you could expect.

Speed of Delivery

Finally, delivery speed is an essential quality to look for in an IT professional. Remember that your business can incur losses through downtime, and this needs to be solved as quickly as possible. You need to look for a service provider that has reputable uptime (preferably 99.98%) and is available round-the clock in case of any network problems. You service provider should also be able to make repairs and maintenance with the least possible downtime.

For your business to run smoothly, you need to hire the best IT consultant agency(or as the Danish would say It konsulent bureau for the job. Using these qualities, it is easy to find someone fitting the task at hand. There are plenty of good and reputable IT consulting companies to choose from and it is simply a matter of getting out there to find the best.

Pricing is another factor that cannot be forgotten especially for medium and small businesses that often have to operate on a tight budget. Explore different options before settling on one, and find the best pricing. However, it is important to avoid compromising quality for price. Remember the saying that you get what you pay for, which applies when hiring an IT professional for your business too.

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