Finance - Part 3

Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Debt consolidation loan calculators – how they can help you

Debt consolidation loan calculator sites are all over the web. If you’re in debt, it’s worth looking at what these debt consolidation calculator sites would suggest your monthly payments could be. By lumping your debt together, you may be able to achieve a payment plan that prevents you from going further into debt.

Benefits of looking at proposals from debt consolidation calculators

Lower payments

When you put all your debts together, you may be given a much lower interest rate than you’re already paying. Many credit cards have rates that stretch as high as 29%. Run some numbers in a debt consolidation calculator and see what options you’re given instead. You may be able to stretch payments out further, too, which reduces the amount of each payment. This can reduce the stress of payments. If you do this, you can still set money aside or pay more than the monthly payment – without having the stress of higher payments.
 

Use a secured loan to reduce your interest rate

If you can do a secured loan – such as through your home equity – you may be able to get a preferred rate on interest.
 

Simplify your life

 

If you find it stressful to be paying several loans and this financial chaos leads you to miss payments, you might want to look at a debt consolidation loan that just gives you one monthly payment. Having all your debt at one financial institution may help you save time — and stop you from being hounded by several creditors, assuming you make your new payments consistently, of course.
 
Of course, debt consolidation doesn’t work for everyone and you should never make a decision about your finances without talking to some advisors. Shop around, do your due diligence and find out what will work best for you. But there’s no harm in looking at a few debt consolidation calculators to figure out what will work best for you!

Bad credit debt consolidation loan

Bad credit debt consolidation loans are a good idea if the numbers work. However, bad credit debt consolidation loans are not the only option for getting out of debt.

In order to figure out if a bad credit debt consolidation loan is right for you, you need to get a sense of your overall financial picture.

Most people who struggle with debt dislike thinking about money. Of course, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when being hounded by creditors. But if you can set aside a few hours to consider your financial future you can save yourself hundreds of dollars per month. Stick with me here. You can do this.

Grab a piece of paper, your telephone, a phone book, and a calculator. Write down how much you owe to each creditor, write down the interest rate, and write down your minimum monthly payment, including credit cards. If you don’t know what the interest rate is, call your creditor and find out.

Bad credit debt consolidation loans are usually in order if you are unable to make all of your monthly minimum payments. Bad credit debt consolidation loans are simple: a debtor buys all of your loans, pays them off, and then you owe the debtor and can pay the debtor one monthly payment.

However, bad credit debt consolidation loans are not the only option. The debt-snowball method is another idea that may work better for some.

Nonetheless, whichever debt repayment method you choose, be sure to make your minimum payments and work towards improving your credit rating. Reading about bad credit debt consolidation loans is the first step. Now take the plunge and get your financial house in order.

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Why get a line of credit for small business

A line of credit can help you better manage your small business, assuming you can manage the credit itself. When I first opened my consulting business, I avoided debt like the plague. That meant going on a strict cash basis, avoiding a credit card or a line of credit. But, over the years, I’ve loosened my standards and realized that a little credit here and there can actually help with growing a business.

As a small business owner, you may go through cycles in your cash flow. For example, marketing consultants may see lots of work from September to November and from January to May, as companies ramp up for tradeshows or holiday sales. That same business may see less revenue in December or the summer months. A gardening business may see the bulk of its revenue in summer but need to invest in supplies in the spring. By using small business credit line financing, a small business can tap into the money it needs for day-to-day expenses without exhausting existing reserves.
 
For example, let’s say that, with summer stretching before you, you expect to see a bit of a slow down in business. Maybe you’ll be taking more vacation time. Maybe your kids will be out of school and you want to work fewer hours. Maybe you love kiteboarding or kayaking and you spend the summers on the water. Or perhaps you simply can’t stand the heat and find your productivity goes down. You could tap into savings and even your emergency fund, if need be. But you can also take a look at a line of credit.
 
With a line of credit – which usually has a lower rate than a credit card – you can access cheaper credit. You can pay the full balance every month or extend the payments over a longer period of time. That way, if you’re unsure about cash flow in the coming months, you can keep more money in your bank account or emergency fund. For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of a big contract and you know you’ll be receiving $5,000 in payments next month – but, this month, your laptop, printer or business equipment needs to be replaced and it’s not a great time to be exhausting your savings account. You can use the line of credit for a month or two while you wait on your accounts receivable. (Think about credit’s role in surviving feast or famine work cycles.)
 
Of course, like any credit, you need to manage your line of credit responsibly. If you have trouble managing either your business or personal finances, talk to an accountant or non-commissioned financial planner.  
 

Related to line of credit

 

Canadians: buy now and save on HST

If you’re Canadian, you  probably know the HST sales tax rolls in July 1st. Now is a great time to visit the Consultant Journal store, since there’s only GST right now. That means $9.75 taxsavings on the Become a Consultant course, for example. Take a look at:

By the way, if you’re a Canadian consultant in BC or Ontario and you haven’t registered for the HST yet, you might want to get on that and visit the HST site.

If you live outside Canada, I’m sure you have your own tax woes!

Related to tax

 

How many hours do you work as a consultant?

How many hours do you work as a consultant?

Okay, now, how many of those hours are actually consulting?

Some other kinds of work you may find yourself doing:

  • bookkeeping and invoicing
  • filing and sorting
  • buying supplies, such as stationery
  • chasing after late payments
  • updating your website or marketing materials
  • promoting your business

How much time are you actually spending on just consulting?

And, out of your consulting time, how much of it is stuff you could hand over to a more junior consultant?

Does it make sense for you to be doing all that work yourself? Could you outsource any of it and work on more value-added areas of your business? Can you mark up other people’s work, earning great consulting fees while paying less to others?

In asking these questions, I’m aware that I have a tendency to spend a lot of time working in my business, as opposed to working on my business. Once again, the 2009 tax year found me doing my own taxes. There’s just no good reason for that. I should really hand over all my accounting and bookkeeping to an expert. I know I’d be paying them less than I could make if I applied that time to my business. But coming to this realization has taken a long time. I now outsource work to graphic designers, web developers, writers, marketers and other service providers. It’s been a learning curve — but I’m pleased to say that it has led to business growth and a much happier me!

What work can you move outside your business?

Consulting contract example

Consulting contract examples are something that some consultants don’t take much time to consider. I mean, you’re a new consultant. You’re busy building your expert-status, finding new clients, and meeting your clients’ needs. As a result, for some passionate consultants, the financial and legal aspects of their business take a back-seat. But contracts are a key to your business.

You need contracts. Contracts protect you, and they help your client understand what’s involved and included in your work.

Most consultants work from a basic consulting contract example, which they modify for each new project or client. Since you’ll be reusing this contract again and again, you’ll want to start with a solid consulting contract example that you can trust. 

Generally, consultants work with a lawyer to draft a basic consulting contract example template. But it’s not always necessary to go that route. In fact, I considered working with a lawyer to draft my templates, but, having reviewed what US Legal Forms has to offer, I decided not to reinvent the wheel.

Remember, asking your clients to sign a contract is not interpreted as an inconvenience; the fact that you require a signed contract establishes your professionalism. So don’t shy away from using consulting contracts.

Get yourself a solid consulting contract example from a trusted source, like US Legal Forms. That way, both you and your client will be protected.

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Self Employed Rates: an entire site for your perusal

When I started Consultant Journal four years ago, I had no idea it would become so popular. I initially thought it would just be a place for me to record some tales from life in the trenches as a consultant. Readership grew, though, and soon my posts on setting rates, negotiating credit cards and loans and so on also became popular. And although many of you come here to learn about consulting, still others are keen to learn about self employment in general.

Still, while consulting is often self employment, not all self employment means consulting. And many of my readers want to learn about finance issues in self employment. So, with that in mind, I’ve launched Self Employed Rates at www.selfemployedrates.com. You can expect to read about credit cards, loans, funding, medical insurance, business insurance, car insurance and more.

Thanks for your support on my journey to date. I have enjoyed — and continue to enjoy — helping you with self employment. I hope some of you will find the articles at Self Employed Rates helpful too. 

What are your biggest financial concerns?

When you’re running or starting a business, finances tend to be a major consideration. Whether it’s paying your own mortgage or making payroll for a team of employees, money affects your life and your business.

Over the years, we’ve covered a wide variety of financial topics: consulting fees, second jobs, finance and more. In fact, our "Finance for Consultants FAQ" is a popular page — and it has a long list of our financial posts.

But what do you want to know more about? Credit cards, loans, lines of credit, write-offs, making money, health insurance, business insurance, leasing a car? Let us know. We’re listening. And we’re ready to research and help you find answers.

Two truths: you can hold both

Do you ever struggle with your desire to build a successful business and the here and now of where your business is today? Perhaps you struggle with a variety of truths:

  • You want very much to work on your own, but you feel a need to have someone guide you
  • You are inspired to grow your business, but you procrastinate and get behind
  • You love running your own show, but you have lonely days
  • You love what you do, but you hate how most of your days look
  • You know you’ll make serious money when your business grows, but you’re not there yet and you’re struggling to pay the bills
  • You love the excitement of new assignments, but you don’t like feast or famine cycles
  • or perhaps you’ve got your own polar truths to add here

Perhaps you feel one or the other must be true. But both can be true. You can hold both of those ideas.

The solution is finding a way to address both ideas. If one idea is really affecting your today, then look at how to solve it. It’s okay to take steps to make positive changes.

You can hold two truths.

Maybe you need to get a part-time job. Or a full-time job. Or join a networking group. Or get a mentor. Or do more social stuff. Or write a new business plan. Or draft a new marketing plan. Or build up an emergency fund.

In fact, as I write in How to make the leap to full-time consulting, you can take small steps. You needn’t jump to one polar view or take a black and white approach. You CAN build a successful business while having fears, uncertainties, hesitations, financial woes and more. You just need to honour those points and look to address them.

Your feelings matter. And they need not be one way or the other. You can hold multiple feelings and still be "right" and "successful".

Get a contract and deposit before you start work

Egads, how many times have I heard stories where there’s a consultant or freelancer who’s struggling with invoicing on a project — and hasn’t got a contract or deposit? In fact, usually, when I hear someone has run into payment troubles, it’s usually when there’s no written contract or deposit.

If you’re doing work without a written contract or a deposit, stop that! Stop that right now!

Start treating your business like a business. Sure, verbal contracts are enforceable in many places. But that doesn’t make it easy to enforce a verbal contract. Moreover, if you haven’t got stuff written down, how will you remember the expectations and conditions later, especially when it’s time to get paid? Get a contract in place!

And, wherever possible, get a deposit. Deposits provide a huge number of advantages. And clients may take you more seriously if you ask for money up front.

These are just suggestions, of course. Talk to a lawyer if you want legal advice. Talk to an accountant for financial advice. But, from the hard-won experience of this consultant, you should really get contracts and deposits in place before starting any project.