Friday, January 29, 2021

Productivity Tools for Moms Who Work At Home

 


When you’re a work-from-home mom, staying focused and productive can be difficult. The key is to set yourself manageable goals. To support your working week, there are several productivity tools you can try. All of these can help you to get organized, and manage your remote working schedule.


1 . Serene

Serene combines a range of different productivity features in one single tool. With Serene you can choose to block distracting sites, making it easier to stay focused. The app allows you to:

  • Create to-do lists
  • Set goals, and
  • Plan out your workday.
Serene offers many different ‘focus music’ tracks, helping you to stay on task. The app guides users to work for 20-90 mins, and strive for high levels of productivity. These are called ‘power sessions’, and are followed by short breaks to recharge, similar to the Pomodoro Technique. The concept involves not spending ages on one task, and therefore remaining alert and energized.


2. Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects is a fantastic tool to manage your projects and stick to deadlines. Key features are reports, task management, milestones, and Gannt charts.

The platform includes a ‘teamwork desk’ tool, where you can boost productivity, measure traffic, and manage communications.

Teamwork Projects allows you to

  • Create budgets
  • Manage documents
  • Access project templates, and
  • Set priorities.


3. Evernote

Evernote is a nifty note-taking app, streamlining the process of getting organized. With Evernote, you can manage tasks, store ideas, and create to-do-lists. The app allows you to save receipts, photos, and audio too. You can also store itineraries, and make annotations with ease. It’s simple to sync with all your devices, to check your notes while you’re on-the-go. I've been using Evernote for several years.


4 . Toggl 

To stay organized throughout your working week Toggl is the application you need. With this app, you can see exactly how long you spend on every task, and use this data to improve your schedule. The tool allows you to keep on top of your projects, with handy bar graphs and pie charts. It’s simple to use the app along with tools such as Freshbooks and Basecamp. Some of the handiest features are time tracking, reports, break-downs of each task, and the ability to work offline.


5. TickTick

TickTick is an effective task manager and to-do list.

Using this app you can

  • Create the perfect schedule
  • Manage your time
  • Remain focused
  • Set reminders for deadlines, and
  • Organize your work from home life.
Whether it’s setting goals, capturing ideas, or accomplishing work, TickTick can help you to get more done. You can track your habits, assess your projects, and collaborate with colleagues. Further features of TickTick include voice input, alarms, and productivity charts. For further support, check out Productivity tips for mompreneurs.


Saving yourself time

Working from home is all about remaining productive, whether you’re a working professional, or you run your own business. When you’re managing a remote operation ensure that you get yourself mailbox access online. A virtual mailbox is the easiest way to organize your mail, and save yourself time. When you’re working remotely, it’s all about time-saving hacks that help you to stay organized!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

6 Important Things to Think About Before Renting Your First Apartment

You did it! You are finally moving out of your parents' house and you have decided to rent your first apartment. 


Where do you begin this process? 

Your journey begins before you have even found your dream home. There are a lot of factors to consider before you have signed any papers, slapped down your money, and hired the moving trucks. I have outlined below six very important things to think about before renting your first apartment. 


With a little preparation and forethought, you can begin to prepare for the adventure you are about to embark on!


Location

In all things real estate, you know what they say – location, location, location. Before you rent your first apartment, you need to scope out the perfect locale for your new abode. Your first order of business when it comes to location: safety.

 

It is almost as important to see your apartment building at night as it is in the daytime. If you have to make the trek to the market down the street on foot, you want to ensure that you feel safe doing so at night and in the day. When considering location, you must also factor in the distance to work and proximity to public transportation, shopping necessities, and the fun things you might want to do.

 

When possible, you want to arrange a full-scale walkthrough of the apartment building or complex to gauge a feel for management.

  • Is the lighting kept up?
  • Have any blemishes in the infrastructure been patched up?
  • How is the security managed?
Each of these factors should culminate in your final decision.


Parking

When moving into an apartment, you might plan on utilizing your own two feet as your mode of transportation. However, if you choose to bring your own car with you, this poses a whole new list of questions.


Is there a parking lot on the facilities? A parking garage? Or is the building street parking accessible only? If you live in a main city, street parking could be dangerous not only for you but for the livelihood of your car also. Maybe the apartment building you are considering has a garage built into it, but some apartment buildings in cities like LA might not have a secured garage with a gate and a lock.

 

These types of scenarios are something you want to keep at the forefront of your mind when you are looking into renting your first apartment. If your main priority is moving out ASAP, and you are ready to move into that apartment you saw listed on Craigslist immediately, these might not be concerns of yours. However, they might come back to haunt you if you are not careful!

 

Immediate Costs

When it comes to renting or buying, the price is never as it seems. When you create your budget for finding an apartment – rent is not the only cost you have to consider while budgeting. After you have found your dream apartment and you are ready to get the process going, you are expected to pay certain costs up front.

 

Most property managers will require an application fee to process your application – including a credit score check and a background check – which is approximately $25 per applicant. At this point in the process, you might require a cosigner to even lease the apartment if your credit score is not up to par, or this is your first moving into a new home. The roommate you plan on living with might be able to help with that!

 

Next, a security deposit is required to secure the space and to cover any damages or clean-ups when you move out. In most cases, the security deposit is somewhere between $1000 USD to $2000 USD, with the first month’s rent on top of it. Sometimes, some property managers will actually ask for up to the first three month’s rent. You might want to avoid properties like this if you have noticed signs of property mismanagement.

 

Thankfully, so long as you have been a model tenant, you will get this security deposit back at the end of your lease. Other fees might include a pet deposit, a parking fee, and eventually moving fees.

 

Long-Term Costs

It ranges based on the property which utilities are covered – but the majority of places require you to at least pay for water, gas, air conditioning, and internet on top of your rent and personal expenses. However, you could end up paying a pet fee, trash and sewer services, and additional amenities which adds up in additional costs.

 

However, apartments are a competitive piece of real estate, especially when living in the city.

 

If you haven’t found the right financial combination yet, stay persistent and keep looking. The next-door neighbor to your dream apartment building might have better coverage for utilities, or cheaper rent with better amenities.

 

All of these expenses need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right apartment for yourself and to keep your budget happy!



Get Everything in Writing

There’s a ton of paperwork involved in renting or owning an apartment – paperwork from you like verification of your identity, employment and financial stability, and paperwork on the side of the property manager. You’ll want everything in writing, from the lease terms (make sure to read this carefully and clarify whatever you are unsure of), to the rules and regulations you must abide by.

 

When you finish discussing the lease agreement with your new property manager, you should have in writing when your lease is terminated, how much notification is necessary before moving out, how much you paid into your security deposit and each roommate of yours should have a copy.

 

To save yourself some trouble in the future, try to refrain from making any large messes in your new apartment. Keep your space as clean as possible, scour any immediate spills, report any leaks and refrain from putting any major holes in your walls. If you and your roommates adhere to these tips, you should get most of your security deposit back at the end of your lease!

 

Amenities

The fun part of apartment living – all of the amenities that come built into your rental! There are some properties like Setapak Ria Condominiums that boast amenities like a swimming pool, squash courts, and 24 hours security (including many more). These are incredible perks that turn your apartment life into a small community.

 

You’ll want to start by making a list of your priorities.

  • Do you require a washer-dryer unit in your apartment, or would you prefer a laundry room?
  • Would you like a gym on-site to stop by after work?
  • Does your ideal space include an elevator?

 

Many apartment properties are raising the bar on the amenities they offer, and these are major selling points for their apartment units. If you do some research and have the budget, you might be able to find exactly what you are looking for!

Things to consider before investing in a foreign property

Real estate is one of the most common investments, for the very simple reason that it is incredibly lucrative. Perhaps you've already got a home, or you are considering investing in another property to rent out. But you may be also looking at venturing further overseas. Many people invest in property overseas, and it can be incredibly lucrative, especially when it's in the desired location. But some people hear horror stories about a property not being finished in time, or the builders causing problems, ultimately resulting in investors losing thousands of dollars. So before you sell your home or expand your portfolio, what does it take to invest wisely in a property overseas?


Really Think About the Right Location

The temptation from an investor’s perspective would be to find a market that is up-and-coming, and cheap. But this could very well fall flat on its face. Because, after all, you are relying on the rumor more than anything. It is far better to go for an established market, especially when you are a first-time investor. When you see a house for sale in another country, take the time to see if it is an established location. Mortgage providers will look more favorably on properties in areas with a proven rental market. As nice as it is to be investing in a property, based in a beautiful location, it's got to be a sure thing, investment-wise.


Remember the Taxes and Exchange Rates

As romantic a notion as investing abroad is, you must consider the different tax rules to each country. It's vital to get to grips with each country's tax rules before you purchase anything. Countries have their own additional taxes, sometimes known as Stamp Duty. If you are using this property as a rental, and are charging money to tenants, it's important to speak to a tax advisor to get a clear picture of how your overseas investments could impact your tax obligations. It's a great idea in theory, but if you are paying more money in taxes than you are making in rent, you will either have to increase the rent and run the risk of losing out on good tenants, or think about getting rid of the property altogether. In addition to this, you have to factor in the exchange rates. You might be savvy when it comes to the exchange rates, but it's a good idea to use a specialist that can figure out the best way to transfer payments, minimizing the chances of your money being lost in poor exchange rates.


Understanding the Local Area

Investing in a property in another country is not just about getting a feel for the place. You need to use a legal specialist who has knowledge of the local property market. There are law firms that specialize in properties overseas, and it's important to find these individuals because they will have an understanding of the destination, as well as the financial assistance. You can always choose a legal firm based in your chosen destination, but make sure you keep the lines of communication open. It's a little thing, but you need to be aware of things getting lost in translation. This is especially true when it comes to legal documents. If you are investing in a country where you have no knowledge of the lingo, it might be best to have somebody that is able to liaise so you can get the best deals, as well as make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.


Investing in a New Development

If you decide to invest in a development where the properties are yet to be built, you need to communicate with the developer. You need them to show you some of the recent projects. If there's no information online, or they are not able to show you anything they've done recently, you need to hold back on transferring any cash to the developer. You need to make sure that there is a clause in the contract that states you will get any money back if the development is not completed. It sounds like a fantastic idea to invest in a property, especially if it is a new one with modern materials. But this can be dangerous and can result in you not getting any money back if you don't cover yourself.


Do it right, and investing in a property can be very lucrative. Do it wrong, and it can land you in heaps of trouble, financially, professionally, and in terms of your reputation.

7 Tips on How to Start Saving Money

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest thing about saving your money. However, saving is an achievable goal. It only requires commitment and having financial discipline. Regardless of the amount you earn, you can achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals.

To realize your financial goals, you need to develop a realistic and simple strategy. The following is a step-by-step guide on how you can successfully save money for your future.

1.       Determine your Expenses

The first step to start saving your money is to determine the amount you spend. Ensure you keep track of your expenditures. Once you have the figures, classify the figures based on the categories of your expenditures.

After classifying the figures, get the total amount. You can use your bank and credit card statements to obtain accurate data. You can also use spending trackers such as digital programs or mobile apps to help you automate these figures.


2.       Budget your Savings

Once you have developed an idea of what you spend monthly, start organizing your detailed expenditures in a workable budget. The budget should be based on your monthly income. Developing a budget enables you to strategize your spending and reduce any overspending.

Your budget should also consider regular expenses that do not occur every month, for instance, car maintenance. Aim to save at least 10-15 percent of your total income.


3.       Develop Methods for Reducing your Expenses

If your expenditures are too high, you should consider developing some mechanisms to reduce them. You can identify and reduce the budget for non-essential expenses such as dinner outs and entertainment. You can also reduce your expenses by reducing your fixed monthly expenses like cell phone subscriptions and television packages.


4.       Set your Savings goals and Objectives

Setting a savings goal is a strategic way of saving money. Establish the short-term and long-term goals you would like to achieve. These goals may include marriage, vacation, and retirement plans. Determine the amount of money you need and the approximate period you need to save it.

If you are saving money for your kid’s education or for your retirement, it is recommendable for you to open an investment account. You can also enquire info on retirement planning on high-income earners from online sources. Ensure your goals are realistic and achievable.


5.       Determine your Priorities

Besides your income and expenses, your goals should also determine your savings allocation. Learn to prioritize your savings.


6.       Select Appropriate Tools

Use your savings goals to determine the most appropriate channel of savings. Some tools are ideal for long-term goals (such as retirement), while others are ideal for short-term goals. These tools include savings accounts and insurance programs.


7.       Automate your Saving 

Most of the banks offer automated transfers. Automated bank transfers facilitate convenience and discipline in saving.


Conclusion

Saving money for future use is an achievable goal. You only need to develop a smart and workable strategy based on your income. To successfully realize your long-term and short-term goals, stay committed and focus on your saving strategy.

Productivity Tips for Stay-At-Home Mompreneurs

Although some women love the life of a stay-at-home mom, some crave creating and building something outside mom life. If that’s the case, then you could have decided to start your own business. Starting your own company is a great way to boost your income and gain what many people crave in life: financial independence




If you are starting your own business, then it’s important to explore the best ways to ensure it is a success. One of the ways to do this is by making sure that you do remain productive through the business day. If you can’t remain productive, then you are ultimately going to struggle to maintain profitability and keep your new business in the red. So, how can you ensure that productively levels are high in your business model? Here are a couple suggestions. 


Use The Right Software

The first step to keeping things productive is making sure that you are using the best software for your business model. For instance, if you are using employees in your company, then you will need to think about investing in a time clock. A time clock will ensure that your employees are paid the right amount and guarantee that you aren’t accused of unfair practices. 


Unfortunately, working out the hours here can be quite difficult and take a lot of time. If you are worried about problems here then you should think about looking at the best small business time clocks. One option would be a cloud solution. This will allow you to easily keep track with an automated system, saving you a lot of time. Don’t forget, when you’re running a small business, time is money. 



Another productivity booster is a website blocker. If you have a modern phone, you will get an update each week on your screen time. This will show you the apps and websites that are taking up most of your time. A blocker can solve this issue and stop you from easily accessing problematic sites like social media networks through the business day. Of course, some elements of social media might be relevant to your business. 


What About Technology?

Next, you should think about the tech that you are using for your business. It’s possible that you’ll get away with using old tech to watch Netflix and check your emails but this might not be the best idea if you’re trying to run a business. 


You need to consider elements that you have never thought about before like processing speeds and power or even performance. In some cases, you’ll need multiple apps and pages open and running at the same time. If that’s the case, then you might need to consider investing in a high-end laptop or computer. 


It’s possible that you have a high-quality computer but you are still experiencing issues with it running a lot slower than you need it to. If that’s the case, then you need to make sure that you are checking your systems for viruses. This is particularly important if you are keeping customer and client data on your computer. Security must be a top concern as it could leave your business vulnerable to both lawsuits and financial penalties. 


Get The Right Set-Up

Running a business from home is always going to be different compared to working from an office. You have more freedom to work where you want, when you want, and how you want. However, you should still think about setting up a space where it will be easier for you to remain productive. 




You should definitely avoid trying to work from your bedroom or even a comfortable location like the lounge. If you do this then you’ll probably find that you take far more breaks than you need to through the day. 


Working at a desk will ensure that you don’t get distracted and potentially help you avoid issues with a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) at the same time. A problem like RSI can cause your productivity levels to crash completely. The pain from this type of injury will cause you to lose countless hours when you are trying to work from home. 


We hope this helps you understand the best ways to remain productive when you are running a business from the comfort of your home. Keeping productivity levels on the right track will be the difference between a company that has longevity and one that burns out after a year on the market. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

What Causes a Poor Credit Score


Your credit score is your grade as a credit user. If you’ve got a poor credit score, it could prevent you from taking out loans, taking out a mortgage, renting a property, getting insurance, or even taking out a phone contract. There are even some employers that run credit checks on applicants - so it could prevent you from getting a job too. All in all, it could hold you back from achieving many things in life.

Everyone has a credit score. Most credit score lenders use the FICO score scale, which is between 300 and 850 (anything below 579 is considered poor). There are many sites and apps that can allow you to check your credit score.

A number of different things can affect our credit rating. Understanding these factors could be useful when trying to improve your score. Below are just some of the things that can cause a poor credit score - and the numerous ways in which you can improve your score, so that you can have more financial freedom.


Missed payments on bills and loans

One of the biggest things that can reduce your credit score is missed payments. Every time you don’t pay a bill on time, you can expect to lose points from your score. 

Bills and loans that aren’t paid for long periods can cause the most damage. A single bill that hasn’t been paid for thirty days or more could cause your credit score to seriously drop - even if you usually make every payment on time.

Missed payments can stay on a credit report for up to seven years. By learning to budget, you can make sure that every payment is made on time. If you do think you’re going to miss a payment, make sure to warn the creditor in advance - in some cases, this could save you having your credit score affected. If you do miss a payment, try to pay it up before thirty days pass (some lenders won’t report a late payment to the credit bureaus unless you’re 30 days behind).

Paying bills consistently on time can improve your score. If you want to improve your score quickly, it could be worth trying a credit-builder loan from a bank (these loans are paid off over a year - if you make every payment on time, the bank will notify credit bureaus and your credit score should vastly improve).



Too many debts

Having a lot of debt doesn’t necessarily harm your credit score. In fact, relying on multiple forms of credit - including installment loans and credit cards - can be good for your credit score. However, if you’re frequently borrowing large amounts at a greater rate than you’re paying them off, credit bureaus may start to think you’re getting financially desperate and this could start to harm your score.

Maxed out credit cards can do a lot of damage. If you do have a credit card, try to only borrow small amounts on it so that it doesn’t reach its limit. In fact, it’s recommended that you only borrow up to 30% of your credit limit to keep your credit score high (which is easier said than done). 

Overdrafts tend not to have much impact on your credit score. However, if you frequently exceed your overdraft limit, it could start to damage your score. This could be something to be wary of if you live in your overdraft.

By learning how to borrow wisely, you can improve your credit score rather than damaging it - see here about the dos and don’ts for debt. Taking steps such as consolidating debt and reducing credit card debts could make a big positive impact. 


No credit history

If you’ve never borrowed money before and you don’t have any recurring bills, you may find that your credit score is poor. This is because you have no credit history to base your score off of - and so credit bureaus have no idea of whether you’re financially responsible or not. 

Many young people fall victim to this when trying to apply for their first loan or trying to take out auto insurance or rent their first home. The solution to this is to build a credit history - as soon as you start paying off debts and bills on time, you’ll prove to credit bureaus that you’re a responsible spender and your credit score will shoot up.

Getting a credit card is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build a credit history. Some banks offer credit cards to young people who may not have a credit history (being a student or having a job may be a requirement in some cases). Setting up an overdraft, using it, and paying this off could also give you some credit history.


Applying for credit frequently

Every time you apply for a loan, there’s a chance that your credit score may be damaged. Getting rejected by a lender will generally have the biggest negative impact; however, you may lose a couple points even if you are accepted but choose not to take out the loan. 

Any damage to your credit score from applications alone tends to be minimal. However, if you’re constantly applying for loans, you could start to see a more serious effect taking place. This is because making lots of applications makes it look like you’re constantly in need of borrowing money.

When applying to multiple lenders at the same time (such as applying to car finance) you’ll usually only lose a point or two. However, if you’re making different applications to various lenders every week for different purposes, your credit score is likely to drop more noticeably. 

Only apply for credit when you need it. To avoid application rejections (which will have a bigger negative impact than accepted applications) research into lenders before applying. Some will advertise that they offer loans to people with poor credit, so there’s less chance you’ll get rejected if you apply to these. Generally, these loans tend to have high-interest rates, so just be careful if you do take out one of these ‘bad credit’ loans. 



Missing/mismatched personal details

If details such as your name or address are missing from public records - or they don’t match up - this could also have a negative impact on your score. This is always something worth looking into. 

Firstly, consider whether you are on the electoral register. Some credit bureaus check your accounts against information included on the electoral register - if you aren’t on the electoral register, credit bureaus won’t be able to do this. As a result, not being on the register could result in a low credit score. Sign up if you’re not already to see what impact this makes (being on the electoral register doesn’t mean that you have to vote). 

Mismatched information can also harm your credit score. If you’re married and your married name is on the electoral register, but you still use your maiden name on your bank account, make sure that this information is updated to avoid it from harming your score. Similarly, make sure that an account or card isn’t still registered to an old address. Credit bureaus do not like mismatched information because it could suggest that something dodgy is going on (some people try to change their name and address to escape debts!). 


Identity theft/mixed credit files

If none of the above seems to be the problem, consider whether you may have been a victim of identity theft. It could be possible that someone has applied for a loan or credit card in your name and then refused to pay back the debt. Usually, if this happens you’ll receive bills or final payment letters to your address, but some fraudsters may manage to apply with a different address so you never get these letters. You can find information here on what to do if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft

In other cases, credit files can be mixed. Your credit file may get mixed up with someone who has exactly the same name as you (this is more likely to happen if you have a very common name such as Robert Smith). This is a fault of the credit bureau themselves - it could be worth enquiring with credit bureaus just to check. You may be able to make a dispute in court to reverse any damage caused by this. 


Taking on other people’s bad credit

Sometimes a credit score can be damaged as a result of taking on someone else’s debts or sharing a joint account with someone who has a very bad credit score. 

As a rule, you should always avoid taking out loans for other people. If they fail to pay you on time and you end up missing payments, it will be your score that is affected. Let these people take out their own loans (if they’re unable to do so, it’s probably because they’ve got a bad credit history themselves). 

When it comes to joint accounts, avoid setting one up with someone that has a bad credit score - you’ll be ‘co-scored’ and your credit scores will become linked. Don’t let someone else’s bad spending behavior negatively affect your score. 



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