How To Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards?

For some, credit cards can be a trap, creating a never-ending spiral of debt and high-interest rates. For others, credit cards are a source of free airline miles, gift cards, and even extra cash. If you are a savvy consumer and always pay your bill in full, credit card rewards are the icing on the cake, giving you free perks just for spending on the stuff you already buy.

If you are financially responsible with a strong credit score, you can get in on these credit card bonuses and enjoy a steady flow of cashback, gift cards, airline miles, travel perks, and other offers. While you make sure to avoid the common credit card mistakes, read on some tips for making the most of your credit card bonuses too.

Book Some Quick Rewards with Signup Bonuses

Competition is stiff among credit card issuers, so much that banks will pay you to take their cards. If you watch the offers and choose your cards carefully, you could scoop up hundreds of dollars in sign-on bonuses just for using your new card.

Requirements differ, and you will need to read the fine print and make sure you satisfy all of the qualifications. Some bonus offers require a minimum amount of spending in a set period, while others ask that you maintain a bank account at the issuing bank. Be sure to follow up once the requirements have been met to make sure you get the points or cash you have coming.

Sign Up for Extra Points

From time to time, credit card issuers offer exclusive bonuses, like five times the points at restaurants or gas stations or extra cash back or points for shopping online. Be sure to sign up for email alerts, so you know which offers are active and how to take advantage of them.

Keep careful track of when these various special offers expire so you can adjust your card use accordingly. It may take some juggling, but these bonus offers can pay handsomely if you are willing to work at it.

Use the Right Cards in the Right Places

If you truly want to maximize your credit card rewards and take advantage of the best bonus offers, start by using the right card at the right time and place. If you have a card that gives you bonus points when eating out or buying groceries, pack that plastic before heading out to the store or local restaurant. If another card offers extra points for gasoline purchases, make sure you have it the next time you fill-up.

These bonus offers are subject to change, so make sure you keep abreast of the changes to maximize your rewards. And be sure to double-check your monthly statements to make sure you are getting all the base and bonus points you deserve.

Maximize Rewards with Discount Offers

Once you have earned the rewards, it is up to you to maximize them. Different rewards can have different monetary values, so look at your options carefully and choose what is best for you.

For instance, you may be able to turn your credit card points into cash, but a gift card could be an even better value. If you can get a $125 gift card to a favorite merchant instead of a $100 check or statement credit, that could give you the best bang for your credit card buck.

It is easy to get sucked into a spiral of credit card debt and high-interest charges. Still, there is another side to the financial equation. If you are highly disciplined with a solid budget in place, you may be able to beat the credit card companies at their own game, starting with the reward maximizing strategies listed above.

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Stocks Vs Index Funds: The Benefits of Trading Stock Indices

The world of trading has never been more accessible; anyone who wants to begin trading in stocks, shares, and other financial instruments can now do so with ease. However, before you begin trading, you need to know what you will be trading and how to trade it. In this article, we are going to take a look at two of the most prominent forms of trading – stocks and shares trading, and index fund trading.

Investing in Stocks

When you buy stocks and shares in a business, you essentially become a part-owner of that business. Each stock and share will represent a fraction of ownership. As you would expect, the amount of money you can make, either through the sale of stocks and shares or through dividend payments, is proportional to the portion of the business that you own. Conversely, should the business run into difficulties or fail completely, your financial liability will be proportional to the number of stocks and shares that you own.

Investors that trade in stocks and shares might be on the lookout for new businesses that show extraordinary promise, and can therefore produce extraordinary returns on relatively modest investments. However, they might also be looking out for already established businesses that represent a safer bet, albeit with a reduced potential for massive returns.

Trading in stocks and shares is relatively simple; the underlying principles are easy to understand even if you have no previous experience with investing. It is also easy to appreciate the risks and rewards involved in trading stocks and shares. While individual businesses are obviously impacted by wider market conditions, investors who are new to trading only need to get to grips with a relatively small range of data in order to assess whether a business is worth investing in or not.

Investing in Index Funds

An index fund is different from stocks and shares. It is essentially a collection of individual stocks that is designed to track a specific index. In the parlance of investors, stock indexes are usually referred to as a “basket of stocks.”

An interesting feature of stock indexes is that you don’t actually have to own any of the stocks within the basket in order to trade them. There are also stock indexes that are pegged to a specific category of stock. One of the best-known examples of this is the Nasdaq index, which is comprised entirely of non-financial companies.

The Benefits of Trading Indices

stocks

There are a number of reasons that many experienced investors prefer trading indices to trading individual stocks and shares. The most significant benefit of trading stock indexes over individual stocks is diversity. Because stock indexes incorporate a variety of different stocks, investors are somewhat shielded from the impacts of one business or market suffering losses.

Trading stock indexes that are based in different locations and markets enables traders to keep trading 24/7, which is beneficial to investors who want to conduct their trades at specific hours, such as part-time traders who are supplementing their main income with trading.

While trading in stocks and shares is the best place for a new investor to start, there are a number of good reasons to eventually graduate to trading stock indices. Regardless of what you trade or how, it is essential to research beforehand so you know exactly what you are getting into.

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What Is Wealth Management?

“Wealth management” is a term that is often thrown around, but if you’re new to investing, it can be a difficult concept to grasp.

Although there are lots of financial planning tips around, unless you can develop a wealth management mindset and know-how to track your wealth management, you’ll struggle to see the desired returns.

So, here we’ll explore this topic in more detail and discover the ways that you can easily track your wealth management.

The Wealth Management Basics

In simple terms, wealth management is the principle of enhancing or solving your financial situation. The term was coined by finance professionals as the ability to choose the best types of investments rather than just investment advice. Wealth management should consider all aspects of a person’s financial life, so there is a holistic approach where all the services needed to manage money and plan for the future are covered.

Many wealth management strategies are based on specialisation in particular areas of focus. So whether you decide to consult a professional or do it yourself, you may have some aspects of your wealth management outsourced to others to develop the most beneficial strategy.

There are four main areas of comprehensive wealth management. These are:

Each of these areas requires different planning strategies to ensure that you are completely covered.

The DIY Approach

Although JP Morgan statistics show that individual investors make an average of 2.6% per year, far lower than the 7-10% typically enjoyed with the stock market, it is still possible to take a DIY approach to wealth management. Of course, you’ll need to understand the best types of investments for your specific risk profile.

DIY wealth management requires some basic abilities and resources, including having the proper emotional constitution. This means that while you can go with your gut if you feel strongly, you don’t get caught up in an emotional whirlwind of investing. You also need to feel comfortable with numbers, so you can analyze financial reports without falling for any deceptively positive spin.

You will also need to develop the skills to complete present or future value calculations, but there are tools available to assist you with this. It would help if you also made an honest assessment of your unique limitations. This will enable you to start in areas where you feel confident and see help for all other areas.

For example, while you may feel confident about structuring and managing your individual stocks to create a diversified portfolio, if you’re not sure you could accomplish this with bonds, you could use an outside manager to handle these investments.

As your abilities grow, you’ll start to feel more confident that you can bring some or even all of these outsourced areas back under your direct control.

Tracking Your Wealth Management

One of the most crucial areas of DIY wealth management is a way to reliably and accurately track the performance of your financial products and investments. You need to honestly assess how your investment efforts are matching professional portfolio performances to determine if you need to seek help or can continue going it alone.

Fortunately, there are some great tools and apps that can help you to track your wealth management. These include:

  • Yodlee.com: This platform offers a variety of online money management services, allowing you to track all of your investments and accounts. You can not only track investment values but also create budgets, track spending, and even pay bills through this site.
  • MoneyStrands.com: This is a money management tool that can gather all your financial information automatically. This allows you to see all of your investments and accounts in one place, and you can even sign up for personalized financial advice.
  • Money-rates.com: This website allows you to compare interest rates on credit cards, CDs, savings accounts, and money markets quickly. This allows you to maximize the interest you earn on your investments and savings while minimizing the interest charged on any debt. The site also offers tools and information to help you to make informed choices.

Getting Started

The first step to getting started with your wealth management strategy is to get an understanding of your financial situation. You can only start to address investments and financial planning once you have an accurate and reliable picture of your finances. Unfortunately, according to US Bank, only 41% of Americans follow a basic budget; one of the fundamentals of financial planning.

Fortunately, there are lots of tools that can help you to not only establish a budget but also keep track of your expenses and costs. These tools can also be used to streamline your expenses to create disposable income to start your investment journey. These include:

  • Mint.com: This is one of the most popular finance websites to track budgeting and cashflow. It can help you to analyze your financial situation and will even offer some suggestions on where you can save on your expenses. You can also use the site to research bank accounts or credit cards to get the best deal.
  • BudgetPulse.com: This website provides a basic budget system to monitor your savings and spendings. You can also track finances in multiple currencies, so it is ideal for those who frequently travel or have overseas investments.

So, Are You Ready to Start Your Wealth Management?

If you want to have a strong financial future, it is crucial to develop a wealth management mindset and take a more proactive approach to your finances.

Fortunately, there are professional experts and some great DIY tools to help you tackle all aspects of wealth management, from managing your budget to making investments, allowing you to establish a solid portfolio to meet your financial goals.

Author Bio:

Lorraine Halton enjoyed a successful career in the finance industry and now uses this expertise as a professional writer. Through her blog posts and articles, she helps people to improve their financial health. Whether you need to organize a budget, save money or plan your financial future, Lorraine can help.

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Financing Basics for First-Time Rental Property Owners

Have you been thinking about becoming a landlord, but wondering if now is the right time to purchase a rental property? You are certainly not alone. Real estate is one of Americans’ favorite investments. Plus, with current low-interest rates and the trend of millennials choosing to rent instead of own, you may want to consider taking the plunge sooner rather than later.

Having a rental property in your portfolio has plenty of perks (including a steady, passive income). Still, you need to do your research first and understand options to make sure it makes financial sense for your situation. Rental property financing is not as straightforward as purchasing a primary residence. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss some of the financing basics of investing in real estate to consider, which can be especially helpful if you are a first-time rental property owner.

Make a Large Down Payment

Mortgage insurance will not cover your investment property. So, for a traditional loan, you will need to put down at least 20-25% to get favorable financing according to Quicken Loans. A substantial down payment gives the bank more security, and it also demonstrates your commitment. Additionally, the bank will review your credit and debt-to-income ratio when making their decision on how much down payment is necessary, and if you will even qualify for a traditional loan.    

Evaluate Loan Options

Big bank’ traditional loans probably are the type of financing you are most familiar with, but if you can’t qualify, there are other options available to finance your rental property. Smaller, local (or community) banks sometimes have more flexibility in their requirements. They are usually not as conservative as the big banks, and they like to invest locally and value building relationships with their investors. Another idea is investing in a multi-family property that you can live in to take advantage of primary residence financing.   

Rental Property Owners 1

Ask the Seller to Consider Financing

If you can’t get a loan for your rental property from a bank, another option is to ask the seller if they would consider financing the loan themselves. The seller will extend credit to cover the purchase price of the property (minus the down payment), and you’ll sign a promissory note agreeing to make your payments. Interest rates will likely be higher than you’d get from a bank, but the down payment should be more flexible. Plus, you can close your deal quickly since you don’t have to go through the hassle of the traditional banking process to get your loan application approved. Remember, if you chose to explore this option, be sure when you approach the owner that you have a game plan in place. The seller must have confidence in your ability to repay the loan.      

Gather a Small Group of Investors Together

Although it would be nice to own your rental property outright all on your own, that is not feasible for most people. As an alternative to going it alone, you can gather a small group of investors to buy the property together. This option keeps you all from having to take out a loan, and it allows you to start generating cash flow sooner. Although you will have to share your profits, it does avoid the risk of a foreclosure on your rental property. It can be a great way to get your feet wet as a landlord without shouldering all the risk. To make things even easier, your group can hire a property management company, so you don’t have to deal with tenant issues.    

Making the right choice when it comes to financing your first rental property can help set you up for success. You don’t want to rush into deciding, and you should always consider your short-term and long-term goals to figure out what kind of financing makes the most sense.

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How Sole Traders Can Separate Their Personal And Business Finances?

Sole traders are more than just individuals; they’re business people who are self-employed and running their own business alone.

As a sole trader, it can be easy for your life to become entwined with that of your business, as it means that your finances become combined and you find it difficult to separate a business expense from an individual one.

This can make your life difficult, particularly when it comes to paying taxes, creating budgets and accurately assessing how much money you’ve spent on your business over a period of time.

To help, here are some practical ways you can divide your business and personal finances as a sole trader and make both facets of your life enjoyable.

Use An App

There are a variety of apps out there that are designed to allow you to track your business expenses, invoices and more, meaning that you can accurately log your business finances in one place and keep them separate from your personal expenditure. This will make accounting easier and allow you to track how much money your business is costing.

Be More Careful With Money

It sounds obvious, but when you become a sole trader you need to be more careful about your spending in general. Learn ways to save money, such as buying some items in bulk and avoiding using tempting, but hard to keep track of spending methods, such as contactless. This approach will help you to save money and keep your business and personal finances under control.

Keep Your Borrowing Separate

In the finance market, there are personal and business loans, but in some cases services like overdrafts and credit cards can make the lines between borrowing for business and personal use blurry. To avoid any confusion, take out dedicated personal and business loans instead of using short term financing options. This approach will save you money and time in the long term. Check out https://www.citrusloans.co.uk/ to find a selection of personal loan options to suit any personal need, so that you don’t end up using your work credit card or dipping into savings designated for your business.

Mark Every Transaction

If you have several transactions in your bank that you are unsure of, then you’ll be unable to accurately plan your spending and completely understand your business’ cash flow. As such, you need to make sure that you label every transaction accurately and are clear about where all of your money comes from.

Create Separate Budgets

Draw up a personal budget alongside your business one, and make sure that you stick to both. This will show you how much money you have to spend, and where you need to be spending it. In both your personal and business budgets, you need to make sure that you leave a little money aside for emergencies, and some to be put into a savings account to accumulate and help you prepare for any serious emergency expenses that you encounter.

Learn To Do Your Accounts Yourself

Doing your accounts might seem time consuming and boring, but it’s an important part of running a business. It will teach you to appreciate the value of money and understand the rate of tax you need to pay for every pound you earn. Whilst it might be tempting to outsource your accounts, doing them yourself will allow you to price your services accurately and learn a valuable skill that will stand you in good stead throughout your time in the business market.

A Business Bank Account Is The Ultimate Way To Separate Your Money

Unlike other forms of business, as a sole trader, you’re not legally obliged to have a business bank account, and as such in the beginning, when you first became a sole trader, you might not have thought it necessary to open one. After all, it was just more hassle and work for you at an already busy time. However, now that your business is up and running, with more transactions, it will be tough to keep your business and personal money separate without a business account. Business bank accounts also offer a wide range of additional benefits for your company, making it easier for you to conduct your business and provide your clients with the services they want.

Separate Your Savings Too

As well as your current account, budgets and borrowing, you should also separate your savings when you become a sole trader. Create a separate account for your business savings, so that you can reinvest your profits into your business and prepare for the future. Alongside business banking options, there is also a wide range of business savings accounts on offer so that you can separate your personal and business savings.

Being a sole trader can be a serious challenge, but by using these tips you can be organised, separate your finances and make your accounts easier.

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