The Snowball Effect of Smart Money

Smart personal finance is something you can only learn from experience. Sure, you can read books, you can listen to your parents, you can think about how well you would use your money if you just had some. But there’s nothing like having money to save or waste that forces you to deal with the nitty gritty details of your wants, needs, and future plans. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’re more than familiar with the snowball effect of debt. Poor financial decisions breed debt, and debt breeds more debt. If you’re locked into high credit card debt, you could be packing on to your debt snowball at a rate of 25% or more each year. Killing off debt is its own thing. If that’s what you’re struggling with, I advise you to read another post. But eliminating debt has some marked similarities to wealth creation, chief of which is the snowball effect.

Making money is a lot easier when you already have some. The old saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money. And that’s true, more or less. Once you’ve managed to get rid of your debt, it can take awhile to scrape together some actual savings. What’s more, savings do very little work for you in terms of wealth generation. Savings tend to sit around, actually losing a little bit of value against inflation, and they don’t start doing you any good until you spend them on something. While I advocate strongly for a large emergency fund, once you’ve got that in place, your savings need to be allocated as investments.

Investments can take many forms. You’ve got short term day trading like Forex. You’ve got mid-term investments like real estate (as well as personal investments like your own education). Finally, you’ve got very long term investments like ETFs and mutual funds, which may take the form of IRAs and/or 401(k)s, as well as other retirement accounts. There are plenty of other ways to invest, but if you have accomplished even these three, you’ll probably start to see money accumulate at a noticeable pace.

Financial growth (and loss) tends to occur at an exponential pace. Basically that means accelerating change. A little bit of money can make a little bit more. That little bit more gives you more money to work with, which can make more money. When you’ve saved up a lot of money, that amount can work to create a lot more, etc. But without good decisions made early, you’ll never have the chance to create wealth later in your life. You’ll be stuck with little money or just a lot of debt. So the time to start creating wealth is now. If you have debt, it’s time to start killing that off. Once it’s gone, use the money that you were putting into debt reduction into savings. Once you have a big emergency savings pile, use the money you were putting into savings to start investing. From there, you’ll start earning meaningful financial growth.

The Right Way To Find A Forex Broker

You work hard for your money. As such, you should take the time to make sure you are using the best products and services for you, so that you can reach your financial dreams. These products and services include the right bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages and even investment and forex brokers. In fact, the importance of choosing the right broker for your money is paramount as this can have the largest impact on your finances going forward. This is why you need to take the time to compare forex brokers.

Why You Need To Compare Brokers

Just like anything in life, you need to compare things to make sure you are getting what you really want. You do this for cars and houses, so you might as well do it for your forex accounts too. While there are many forex brokers out there, you want to find a forex broker review that does a detailed job at forex broker comparison.

So what does a detailed comparison look like? Be sure that it covers the basics – like account minimums and fees – to the bigger picture items like the platform the forex broker uses and how that broker is regulated.

You will also want to know if there are any bonuses for opening an account and very importantly, make sure that there are individual forex brokers reviews by users.

The Importance Of Reviews

The reason why forex broker reviews are so important is because you get the input from people who have used the service. Any company can make their product sound awesome, but by having a third-party use and rate them makes all of the difference.

The reviewer won’t hold back and will be sure to point out any flaws or shortcomings, and will even highlight things that make the service spectacular.

After reading through a forex brokers review, you will start to see a trend and can then make a better decision if said broker is right for what you need or if you are better off looking at other brokers.

Your Last Step

Once you read through the reviews and find a few forex brokers that meet your needs, your final step is to make sure they are regulated. There are all sorts of regulating firms that oversee forex brokers. You want to make sure that at the very least, the one you go with is regulated.

If you see that they are approved by a certain regulating agency, don’t just accept that as proof. Be sure to visit that agencies website to see what they are all about. Remember, it’s your money and no one cares about it as much as you do. The last thing you want to get suckered into a scam.

Remember, at the end of the day, you need to make sure you are doing what is in the best interest of you and your money. By taking the time to find the right forex broker for you and your needs, you only increase the possibility of success.


It’s Easy to Be Frugal When You Don’t Have Money, But What About When You Do?

People get into the saving, squirrely spirit because they don’t have a lot of money. At least that’s usually the case. They know what it’s like to live from hand to mouth, and they want to see that change some day. But at some point, the challenges of poverty give way to the comfort of living well beneath your means. As savings grow, so does a feeling of security and independence. It is here that many people start to see a plateau in their savings and investment plans. They start to get lax, as they aren’t scraping the bottom of the financial barrel at the end of each month. This is just human nature, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t avoidable. If you want to do more than be not-poor, you’ve got to get in the habit of living frugally, and keep it up for the rest of your life, no matter what happens.

This is especially difficult if you get money suddenly. This is typically called a windfall, and it can come in many forms. Maybe you called one of the places to sell annuity payments. Maybe you got a big inheritance from a relative. In times like these, your emotions are stirred. You feel great! All of a sudden you have this big, cushy financial buffer between you and the big bad world. But it’s here that people get themselves in trouble, living like they’re high-rollers when in fact they just had one big payday. It’s easy to blow a windfall quickly, and you’ve got to make sure you don’t do that. The best way is to plan ahead for unexpected earnings. You also want to keep the money saved and secret for awhile, so you can make sure you’ve got a good plan to put it to use, and so nosy neighbors don’t start fishing around for a handout.

Most of us will earn our money more gradually. This is a blessing in one way, because it lets you instill good financial habits within yourself. During the time that you are being frugal, squirreling away every spare dollar you can come across, it’s good to remember that this is the way that you want to live even when you’ve saved enough to retire on. There are plenty of ways to make the frugal life the most enjoyable life of all. It’s a great opportunity to acquire important skills, to be self-reliant if not totally financially independent. Spend this time learning to cook with simple ingredients. Learn to fix and alter your own clothes. Find times to work with your hands and pursue hobbies that challenge your skills and maybe make you a little extra money.

Saving money is hard, but it’s just as hard to make it last once you have it. Whether you gain your money all-at-once or a little at a time, you’ve got to make sure that you derive benefit from it for many years to come. So squirrel away, and make it a habit you keep for the rest of your life!

6 Personal Safety Apps for Your Kids in College

Because of the huge number of crimes committed on campuses, the need for personal safety apps is increasing. The concern for parents and students is justified, but there are ways to help them. Despite the presence of police officers near campuses, safety is still a major concern and mobile apps can help fill this gap. If you are the parent of one or more students, you should consider these personal safety apps for your kids in college:

1. Guardly

Guardly is a personal safety app for students and works on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. This application allows students to instantly connect with their friends and family members in emergency situations. All students have to do is tap a few times for dialing and sending an alert. Their location will be tracked in real time. Another way to use the app is by sending photos that have been captured to authorities or mobile contacts. Downloading the application is free, but there is a monthly subscription.

2. Smart24x7 Campus

24×7 is an application that has different purposes, as it can be used for the personal safety of kids, seniors, women, college students, employees and other people. The section dedicated to students is called 24×7 Campus. The application is available on Google Play, Windows Phone, App Store and App World. It can give students instant access to police or administration. With this app, students can get prompt medical support whenever they need it.

3. OnWatch

With this Android and iPhone application, friends and authorities can be immediately alerted in case of an emergency. The app has six functions: call 911 and friends, call 911, call campus police, watch my back, contact friends and I’m here. Watch my back allows students to set a timed alert that can be deactivated with a passcode. The free options are call 911, call campus police and I’m here.

4. MyForce

MyForce is a subscription based personal safety app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Whenever a student feels danger, an alert can be sent with just a few taps. A discreet alarm can be activated by pushing the red button of the app. After the alarm is activated, the software will record the call and will track the student’s location. The mobile operator will consider this an emergency situation and will call 911. This application can be great when students are walking home during the night through desolate areas.

5. EmergenSee

EmergenSee is an award winning personal safety application that can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play. It uses live video streaming, along with GPS and audio data for ensuring personal safety. When the student or someone nearby is in danger, a few taps will help them to send the streaming data to friends and family members, but also to Professional Monitoring Centers. The application provides 24/7 professional monitoring.

6. Circle of 6

Circle of 6 is an application for iPhone and Android that has the purpose of helping students get out of dangerous situations. Students can include the phone numbers of up to six friends, classmates, or family members. When danger occurs, a mass message can be sent. There is a car icon that can be pressed for sending a text message, while the location of the student is tracked. If the phone icon is pressed, a special message is sent to all the numbers that have been inserted into the application. The app also allows students to call 911 if there is a true emergency.

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No Tengo Dinero: How to Visit Spain on a Budget

We’ve all seen this scenario before: You’ve been planning a trip to Europe for years and you finally settle on one European country that has it all: Spain. Vibrant mega-cities, wonderful beaches, great food and warm people make this country on the coast of the Mediterranean a must see for any pale skinned North American.

After all the research and planning, you’re finally ready to set the wheels in motion. But there’ a problem: a financial miscalculation has wiped out half of your vacation funds! Bummer! Is this the end? No, not by a long-shot if you know how to travel on a budget. You need to regroup, breathe, and follow these tips to salvage your much anticipated trip.

1.     Book a flight in advance

Scour the internet for cheap flights by booking months in advance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a cheap airline, because the cheap ones are known to have a ton of hidden charges. You can also book a flight and land anywhere in Europe and just take a cheap local flight going to Spain. Use Skyscanner or Vayama to compare flights from different carriers.

2.     AirBnB, Hostels and Couchsurfing

If you have no qualms about sleeping in someone else’s house or sharing sleeping quarters with complete strangers, you can skip the hotel and look for good deals online. AirBnB will help you locate locals willing to rent out a room in their homes for a fee. Some of the locals would even show you around town, so no need to pay for Spanish translation services or a guide.

Couchsurfing can help you find locals willing to let you sleep on their couch or mattress at no charge. Just make sure you treat your hosts with respect and try to get to know them. It’s also a good idea to bring your hosts a gift for letting you spend your vacation in their home.

Hostels do the job if you’re on vacation to party. Although AirBnB and Couchsurfing are considerably cheaper, it’s a little bit of a problem to your hosts if you love to come home late and hammered from all night drinking, so hostels maybe the right choice for you if you’re there to party.

3.     Take the Train, Bus and Subway

When you’re in Spain’s big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, the subway is a cheap and indispensible way to travel. Taking the train on the other hand, is usually more expensive than taking the bus, so be sure to check the local fares first before hopping on.

4.     Eat like a Local

Spaniards are heavy lunch eaters. They have a small breakfast, a humungous lunch and a normal dinner because dinners in Spain are more expensive than lunch. It’s a legal requirement in Spain to offer a Menu del Dia or a complete meal of soup, salad, main course, side dish and dessert – all for one price. This is the most economical way to eat in these parts, so don’t eat a heavy breakfast! You can get away with eating a cheap and light dinner because of all the food debauchery you did for lunch.

5.     Visit Museums for free

Many of Spain’s museums have “free” days where you can visit without paying anything. You can also consider getting a discount card if you’re hell bent on seeing all the priceless art on display.

6.     Drinking in Granada

If you find yourself I Granada, don’t forget to drink up! Every alcoholic beverage you order in Granada will be served with Tapas, or small portions of appetizers. You can get your fill with just a few orders of beer. Eating for free never tasted this good!

See you in Spain

There you have it, tips on how to save a fortune on travel costs and see Spain on a budget. Don’t forget to book your flight early in advance and take advantage of early bird promos. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also great ways to save money while meeting new people and possibly making lifelong friends in the process.


How to Apply and Be Approved for Title Loans Online

Auto title loansYour vehicle is likely to be hugely important in your life. It allows you to get from A to B, to work and to school. It is also a financial asset and if you need money fast, you could use it as collateral to get some money. For many, this is a better option than selling it, as this would mean you can no longer use your vehicle for anything. Using your vehicle as collateral is done through a title loan and you can apply for title loans online. But how do you apply, and how do you get approved? Let’s take a look at the process.

Step 1 – Find a Loan Company

This will take you the longest of all. You need to find a company that offers good rates and has an excellent reputation. There are a few searches you can do to make sure you’re not becoming a victim of some sort of financial scam. Unfortunately, while the industry is regulated, it is still too easy for companies to trick customers out of their money.

Step 2 – Compare Rates and Loans

One of the most important things to look for is the most affordable loan interest rate. Whenever you borrow money, you will have to pay back that amount (the loan principal), as well as interest. Interest is how lenders make their money. These rates vary from one provider to another. However, they are often very high with title loans and you need to find the one that is the most affordable. Generally speaking, the worse your credit rating is, the higher your rate will be as well.

Step 3 – Make Sure You Meet the Minimum Requirements

Exact requirements for title loans vary from one company to the next. However, commonly, you will have to prove that:

  • You are the registered owner of a clear title.
  • You are over 18.
  • You have a regular source of income.
  • You are a permanent and legal resident of this country.
  • You have a bank account.

Step 4 – Apply for the Loan

When you apply online, you will usually have to provide a number of details that will enable the company to check your credentials. Sometimes, you will have to fax a few pieces of paperwork as well, but this is becoming increasingly uncommon.

Step 5 – Receive the Money

In most cases with title loans, you will receive the money within 24 hours of applying. Some even guarantee same day payments. Once received, you can spend the money in any way you see fit, which is also a difference with other loans, where you often have to indicate what you will be using it for.

Step 6 – Pay the Money Back

Finally, you will have to meet your repayments. With title loans, you absolutely cannot default on your payments, because your vehicle will immediately be repossessed. This is also why you should only apply for one of these loans if you are sure that you can pay it back.

How to Get Funds for your Postgraduate Degree

Paying tuition for graduate school can be pretty tough, especially if you have a family to look out for. However, you can’t let your financial problems get in the way of seeking higher education. Pursuing a master’s degree is very important if you want to have a steady career and better income.  If, for example, you want to become a financial consultant or an operations manager of an accounting firm, a Master of Science in accounting degree can help hasten your promotion. In addition, it also adds more credibility to your professional career.

Funding your tuition needs can be a difficult task. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s an impossible one either. With the right motivation and resourcefulness, you can surely find the money that you need. If you really want to pursue higher education without breaking your bank, read on to learn more about useful solutions for funding your postgraduate schooling.

  1. Don’t store your eggs in just one basket

Simply put, this means that you shouldn’t put all your energy in finding just one sponsor.  There are a lot of universities and charitable institutions out there that offer aid to students. In addition, you should also search for other creative ways in searching for money. Instead of just relying on one big grant, you can also opt to apply for several awards. On their own, they do not really provide a large amount of money. But together, you can pull enough funds to accommodate all your basic needs.

  1. Get an on campus job

Most universities are generous enough to provide on-campus jobs to worthy candidates. Aside from a salary, you can also get great perks like tuition discounts. You can apply for a secretarial job or as a research assistant. Aside from earning money, you can also be exposed to a lot of new information about your chosen field.

  1. Discuss options with your employer

If you are studying a course that is in line with your field of work, you can talk to your employer and ask for financial assistance or joint funding. They can also arrange a work schedule so you work and study in a more organized way.

  1. Plan early

 If you are planning to go full-time with your studies, you need to plan one year before you actually enroll. This is a big financial commitment, so every step of you plan must be organized. Make an estimate on all the expenses that you might incur while studying.

These are just some of the tips for funding your postgraduate degree. If you can share other pieces of advice, feel free to do so in the comments.

Importance of Managing Risk with Binary Options

BINARY OPTIONSRisk management, similar to the insurance policy placed on your car, house, or any valuable asset to you, is an important element to any financial investment. As a binary options trader, the risk potential that you face is limited in that you don’t lose more than your initial investment. In addition, if your trade expires out of the money, you can still receive a small percentage of your beginning investment back to your trading account. Managing risk while trading can make the difference between generating profits in your trading career or clearing your capital completely.

It’s very important to have a good understanding of how much risk you’re exposing yourself to if you desire to be successful in binary options. The purpose of this article is to look at the importance of risk management, how to control your losses and what risk and strategies to use when managing your risk in binary options.

Why Managing Risk is Important

Risk management is one of the key elements to surviving in the investment world. As a binary options trader, you have the knowledge of how much risk and profit potential you have before you place a trading position. However, this doesn’t eliminate your trading performance risks, how many trades lose, and whether you’re placing suitable investments.

As a trader, you have a certain sense of fear that you can lose all of your money without being cautious. This alone is the reason why most traders are able to grasp such a concept easily; the only difficulty they face is the actual application of it. Most brokers place a lot of emphasis on the benefits of binary options while ignoring the drawbacks. This causes most traders to believe that large, risky trades and big money aims are the way to go.

It’s very easy for those that have a demo account to practice risk management, but after emotions and real money come into play, the game completely changes. This is why managing risk with binary options is important.

Risk Management: Loss Control

A good way to manage risk is by taking control of your losses from each trading position. Understand that losing in binary options is completely fine and normal. In fact, most professional traders lose every now and then; winning each trade every time is not realistic. Unlike forex and stock trading, binary options don’t have a stop loss feature on trading platforms. Instead, you can cover your lost trades by placing a trade whose profit will cover the lost investment plus an addition to your total profits.

Bottom Line

Managing your risk in binary options is all about maintaining control. The more control you have on risk exposure, the more flexible you can be when the occasion arises. As a trader, you should have the ability to act when an opportunity arises. Directing your attention to inherent risks will enable you to continue trading even when things don’t go as planned. Managing your risk in binary options is very important, as it can be the difference between being a professional binary options trader or another chart statistic.

5 Mistakes to avoid when getting a POS System

Point of sale systems have made the life of a business owner today a heck of a lot easier than when everyone used a big old cash register, a pen and a log book. With all the automation, speed and efficiency of a robot, POS systems can help run a restaurant or retail store and take some of the burden off the people that are working alongside it. But you just can’t get any point of sale system you come across, because not all of them are created equal. Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid when choosing your next POS system.

  1. Not going Branded. For clothes and other items, you can make do with simple, non-branded stuff. You may even get away with buying a cheap phone. But for a system that will help you run your business? You simply can’t take that risk. Being frugal with your POS system will cost you more future headaches and frustration, which leads us to…
  2. Not choosing a reputable Manufacturer. Imagine investing in a system that worked fine for a few days and then quit on you during the busiest week of the season? And when you called for support, it was almost non-existent and you had to call an IT professional to help you because they were taking forever. These headaches happen with non-established companies. It’s like buying a car. You know what you get when you buy a Toyota or a Honda. These cars are legendary for their safety and service record. Would you take a risk buying a cheap car from a company you just heard about? You would never risk it! Go for companies that have a proven track record. 
  3. Not doing your Research. Word of mouth marketing is fine. But when you hear about a POS system from a friend, who heard it from another friend, would you just go ahead and buy it? Choose a POS system that fits your business model. Do your own research and never take anyone’s word for it unless you see the actual point of sale system in action. If you narrowed down your choice for a POS system, ask for three or more referrals that use the exact same system you want to buy. Talk to the business owners about the system and ask if you can drop by and see it in action. Ask about the company’s customer service record and how fast they respond. Ask them for any system glitches and quirks that they may have encountered. 
  4. Not asking the manufacturer everything. When you talk to a manufacturer, ask them anything and everything. It helps if you make a list of things to ask so you’re prepared for a little Q&A. Ask about training schedules, service response times, if there’s dedicated support, scheduled updates, reporting, cloud support, experience in your industry, bundled hardware, discounts, etc. 
  5. Using your old hardware. Some business owners want to save money on point of sale systems, so they just buy the software and attempt to assemble their own hardware using an assortment of old computer hardware bought online for cheap. I’m all for the DIY spirit and repurposing old stuff, but you just can’t take the risk of using old hardware for your POS system. What if it has compatibility issues? Also, the hardware used for businesses were made to take abuse for 12 hours or more, everyday. The same cannot be said for machines made for home use, especially old ones. You’re better off paying a little bit more extra for the hardware that comes with the software, just to save you from all the stress.

In a Squirreled Nutshell

Saving money is very important in life and in business. But when you’re a scrooge on some of the essentials like a good restaurant POS or a POS for retail, you’ll only end up hurting your bottom line. Please remember that a point of sale system is not an expense, but rather an investment that will help you run your business better and more efficient than ever.