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How You Can Save Money for Retirement

save money for retirement

A 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual found that nearly two-thirds of Americans who have a plan to save money for retirement are certain they’ll outlive their savings. Moreover, one in five Americans (21 percent) have no retirement savings at all, and another 78 percent are concerned about not having enough money saved for the future. Here is how you can save money for retirement.

These statistics are worrying and something needs to be done. Saving for retirement means doing more than enrolling in a company 401k to ensure financial security during your golden years. It also means finding the freedom to enjoy your retirement, which is what actually makes those years golden.

If you haven’t considered saving for life after work, now might be the best time to get started.

However, if you’re already retired, proactive financial planning can help you save money right now. You don’t have to spend the next three decades stressing out or worrying about running out of money at any moment. Here are eight ways to help you save money for retirement and guarantee it lasts as long as you do after retirement.

Minimize Your Fixed Expenses

One of the many ways you can save money for retirement is by minimizing essential expenses like shelter, transportation, insurance, debt payments and food. Owning two or three cars might have been necessary for your family before retirement. But, since you’re no longer commuting to work, sell one of your cars.

You’ll make a little money in the short term, and it can save you on maintenance costs and monthly auto insurance payments long-term.

Downsizing your home may be a good option for you too. Chances are your children have grown and are no longer living with you, which means you need less space. A smaller home will also help you save money on utilities and repairs. Consider moving to a retirement community as well. This may bring some fun and new friendships into your life and simplify life after work.

Maximize Credit Card Points

Taking advantage of credit card points isn’t only attractive for young professionals who travel a lot. It could be a great way for you to save money for retirement.

Imagine taking your 80-year-old parents on vacation to Europe or booking a luxury family trip to your dream destination. Here’s the best part. You get everyone to fly first-class using your points and miles, saving over $25,000 on flights. Yes, that happens more often than you think. And you can do it as well.

Simply sign up for the perks your credit card offers (cash backs, travel miles, points, etc.) and take advantage of them.

Always Ask About Senior Discounts

Whether you’re visiting a national park, shopping for a new piece of furniture, or buying your favorite dish at a local restaurant, ask if there are any discounts for seniors available. Keeping track of all the stores that offer senior discounts can be daunting. So, make it a habit of asking for one. You’ve earned it, and it only takes a few seconds to ask.

Consider a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage is a type of loan that lets homeowners over the age of 62 borrow from their home’s equity and receive funds as structured monthly payments, lump sum, or line of credit. According to the CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, Michael Branson, if you’re a retiree with considerable home equity and are looking to supplement your retirement income, a reverse mortgage might be ideal.

The entire loan balance becomes due when the last surviving borrower passes away, vacates the home permanently, or sells the home.

However, If your current home is unsuitable for aging in place (e.g., two stories, large yard with high maintenance or upkeep), you may also use a reverse mortgage to buy a new home. That lets you relocate and right-size into more senior active communities for a more enjoyable retirement.

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits

According to Social Security Administration data, 9 out of 10 elderly individuals receive social security benefits (they’re eligible at 62). Social security benefits represent around one-third of the income made by the elderly nationwide.

Among social security beneficiaries, 21% of married couples and about 45% of unmarried people rely on these benefits for 90% or more of their income.

Since so many see social security as their main source of retirement income, they often can’t wait to take out benefits as soon as they reach retirement age. It’s important that you consider your longevity before making social security decisions. If you delay drawing on social security until you’re 70, monthly payments will be 32 percent higher than what you’d have received at your retirement age.

Have a Retirement Spending Plan

Truth be told, you need a guide that will help you track and monitor your spending and live within your means. And that’s exactly what a retirement savings plan does by putting you in control of your money.

Not having an appropriate spending plan as you save money for retirement can lead to overspending, which can become a threat to your financial well-being. The last thing you want is to run out of money while you still have many more years to live.

Be Smart About Investing

It’s not uncommon for retirees to leave their money lying in the bank due to a fear of investing. The truth is you may be losing money to inflation if you leave it in the bank. While it’s not wise to make risky investments after retirement, you shouldn’t shy away from a little bit of investing. Try investing a portion of your cash in stocks instead of letting it sit in a savings account.

Work Just a Little Longer to Save Money for Retirement

With so many part-time, remote, and freelance job opportunities available, you can take on a new role with more vacation time, flexible working conditions, or less responsibility. You really don’t have to return to any previous roles.

Find a new role you’re passionate about and keep working. Waiting a few extra years to retire can greatly increase your income, social security benefits, and retirement assets.

Image Credit: gustavo fring; pexels

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2021 business strategies Entrepreneurs entrepreneurship ReadWrite Small Business startup Startups

7 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business

starting your own business

Starting your own business can be an exciting endeavor. As a small business owner, you’re free to make your own decisions, guide the company in the direction you see fit, and benefit from complete creative freedom.

Despite the myriad of positive benefits, starting a company isn’t a decision you should be taking lightly. With that in mind, here are seven important things you should consider before starting your own business:

Can You Solve a Problem?

Far too often, prospective business owners are so excited about their idea that they throw themselves (and their money) into making it happen. But one of the first things you need to consider is whether your business idea actually solves a problem. Why do customers or clients need your service or product? Can they get it elsewhere? What is your value proposition (as in, what makes you more valuable than your competitors)? These are all questions you should consider before you jump into entrepreneurship.

Start Small

It’s always a good idea to test the market before you invest too much of your personal money and start searching for loans. For example, if you’ve created a line of custom frames, why not try selling on a platform like Etsy before you open a brick and mortar shop or create your own ecommerce store?

Starting small lets you get a better idea of what it takes to run a business. It also makes it easy for you to work out the kinks before you become an official, legal business entity.

The basic idea is getting a feel for what you enjoy and what you aren’t willing to do as a business. For instance, if you invested $10,000, you might find that you don’t enjoy being an entrepreneur or that you want to pivot your business but don’t know how to reverse your initial investment. Think of starting small as an insurance policy against potential pitfalls.

Business Name

It might seem like a simple tip but creating a business name is much harder than you think. Most people don’t realize it until they start to brainstorm their business name and have taken the first step towards becoming a serious business owner. The fact is, your business name stays with you forever and sets the tone for your brand. If you’re starting your own business and having trouble coming up with a catchy name that isn’t already taken, try using a business name generator for hundreds of potential ideas.

When choosing business names, try to stay away from names that are difficult to spell. You also want to avoid names that could limit business growth in the future. For instance, if you want to sell cruelty-free lipstick, you might not want to have a brand name that insinuates you only sell lipstick if you plan to expand your product line in the future.

Set SMART Goals

The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your business goals should all be SMART. For example, let’s say you’ve created a website and want to generate more leads for your landing page. In this situation “generate more leads� is a specific goal. You can choose to measure with a time-bound goal by saying, “I want to grow leads from our landing page by 20% this quarter.� To make it attainable, be sure your goal isn’t a far cry from what you’re already achieving. And just like that, you’ve created a SMART goal.

Search for a Mentor

Some of the most well-known business owners had mentors. Did you know Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Apple founder Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs also had a mentor named Bill Campbell. Mentors are there to offer guidance as you navigate the treacherous waters of starting your own business. They’ll give you honest feedback because they care about the success and growth of you and your startup. You can find mentors on platforms like Facebook or SCORE.

There’s No Fast Lane to Cash

No matter how great your business plan is, there is no fast way to get money. If you think you can get rich quickly, chances are you’ll fail. As it stands, the statistics are stacked against you; half of all new businesses fail within five years. If you’re in it for the money, not only will you be disappointed, but you’ll also lose momentum.

To start a business, you need to be passionate about your work as well as potential customers. Passion and hard work are what keep you moving during the tough early days of low to no revenue.

Create a Financial Plan

It goes without saying, you need money to make money. When you’re starting your own business, create a business model that doesn’t put too much burden on your financial resources. After all, as previously mentioned, the goal is to start small.

Use your personal savings for early funding and be sure to save up and accommodate for negative cash flow during the first few months. Create a budget to ensure you stay on track as you build out the business. Before long, you mays start to see the signs of an emerging, successful business.

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credit card services Customer Service digital payments digital transformation Entrepreneurs Payments ReadWrite

Growth in Digital Payments Spur Credit Card Services

digital payment growth

The entire digital payments landscape has faced significant structural changes over the last few years and keeps growing as a valuable payment option for shoppers worldwide. Now, with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing operational adjustments everywhere, more companies are adopting global payment solutions to fuel growth and remain profitable. 

As companies continue to digitize their operations, online shopping is becoming more accessible to consumers. As a result, the global credit card processing industry is expected to experience steady growth due to a rise in digital payments. 

Read on to learn about how global credit card services are expected to grow thanks to the rise in digital payments.

Begin Accepting Credit & Debit Cards

Utilizing global credit card processing services empowers your small business to accept credit and debit cards. With e-commerce sales surging, there has never been a better time to begin accepting credit cards, a widely favored form of consumer payment and essential for doing business online. 

Accepting credit cards legitimizes your business, boosts your sales and improves your cash flow. It may also encourage impulse buying for online shoppers, which in turn helps increase revenue and average transaction value. 

When you use global merchant services, you can eliminate the risk of accepting a bad check while simultaneously increasing convenience for your customers. Purchasing global merchant account services will set your business up for greater success by offering your customers the convenience of credit, debit, and online payments. 

Attract Foreign Customers

Purchasing global credit card processing services also helps online businesses effectively attract foreign customers. Across the globe, online payment solutions are consistently becoming the preferred way for customers to shop. 

Using global credit card processing services, you can manage currency exchange, tax compliance, foreign standards, and language support. By addressing this demand, you can attract new customers in other countries, expand your business into a truly global enterprise, and manage compliance standards. 

Remain Ahead of Competitors through Digital Payments

Working alongside global credit card processing service providers can help your small business consistently remain ahead of the competition. Whether you are operating a small brick and mortar business, an online e-commerce company, or a large conglomerate, you undoubtedly already know that it’s essential to strategically plan how to stay ahead of competitors.

With a global merchant account, you can set the bar for competitors in your market space. These solutions allow you to expand your online presence, attract foreign competitors, and offer services that your competitors do not. 

Options: Offer Alternative Digital Payments

Global credit card processing solutions let you offer alternative payment options to your customers. When purchasing products online, consumers want and expect a choice. Global merchant solutions deliver the flexibility to provide a variety of payments and alternatives. 

Once equipped, these processing services allow you to accept alternatives such as mobile wallets, smartphone payments, and direct bank transfers. Other advanced options are even able to process transactions using digital cryptocurrencies. These advanced global merchant account solutions expand the choices you can offer to your valued customers. 

Scale Your Business

Most business owners realize how important it is that their companies continue to grow. In fact, for your business to remain successful, you need to fuel dynamic and consistently robust growth. Global credit card processing solutions can help you do just that. 

Accepting credit cards optimizes your checkout procedures and makes your services more accessible to your customers. It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure your business is thriving, and it’s especially effective in growing your business during an ongoing health crisis like COVID. 

As the digital landscape continues to grow, businesses are integrating global merchant account solutions in order to improve productivity. They’re looking to enhance shopper convenience and fuel business growth. When properly installed, global digital payments are a relatively inexpensive business resource. Even better, these systems can be set up relatively quickly and easily. 

Once installed, online businesses can utilize these solutions to effectively attract foreign customers. At the same time, global merchant accounts empower you. They help you outpace the competition and offer a more convenient, pleasant customer experience. The result is a more consistent rate of growth for your business. 

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Entrepreneurs legal legal industry startup Startups

How Legal Tech Companies Are Re-Shaping the Legal World

legal tech

Legal tech includes software and other tools that help attorneys and their support staff to provide legal services to clients. Many new applications empower reputable firms to improve their efficiency and adapt to mobile working environments. Here’s how legal tech companies are re-shaping the legal world.

Legal tech also gives small firms and individual practitioners a chance to compete with larger competitors. It grants them access to powerful research tools. And, the right tech tools are essential for law firms that want to stay competitive. 

Understanding and embracing these innovations in technology can be the key to success in today’s legal profession. 

What are Companies Considered Legal Tech Companies?

While there are many legal tech companies in the world, what we are looking for is to be provided with technology that genuinely stands out in a crowded market. For instance, Relativity gives specific technology to lawyers.

With the Relativity tech, lawyers can store and search for documents, automate contract reviews, and perform other regulatory work and due diligence. 

Major U.S. law firms use the service. Some large firms and in-house corporate legal departments have hired experts from Relativity to help them set up eDiscovery departments. 

Other essential legal tech companies are Apttus, Everlaw, HighQ, and iManage. These companies produce software that simplifies the way companies manage their sales processes and contracts, collaborate on litigation, and handle important documents. 

The legal technology allows lawyers to focus on their cases and reduce their time in document review and management. 

How Have These Developments Affected the Legal Profession?

Technology has caused a revolution in the legal profession that has reshaped its culture, composition, delivery, skill sets, and priorities. These developments have not only bolstered departments within law firms but have also improved their reputations. 

Firms go global

Firms are now able to operate globally, collaborate with other lawyers, and improve service delivery. They are no longer stuck in the limited geographic markets established long ago by significant law firms. Now lawyers can provide services to clients on a more global scale, which benefits clients who conduct business internationally. 

The expansion of law firms into global markets has also made legal services somewhat more uniform. Furthermore, clients can now review their lawyers online, forcing attorneys to perform at a consistently high level. 

Customer satisfaction and AI move to the front.

Additionally, this new technology has given lawyers and law firms new service models that are customer-centric and that meld human resources with tech to optimize performance. In these new models, profit flows from customer satisfaction rather than hours billed. 

Lawyers are no longer tasked with brute force labor. They can rely on automation to maximize their resources. Technology has replaced the repetitive tasks of a lawyer’s work with new software. This can make lawyers more efficient and save both clients and firms money.

The arrival of technology in the legal world is transforming the profession from a pedigree-centric, tradition-bound, labor-intensive field into something entirely different.

Tech has made legal services more flexible and given lawyers access to effective automation. With new delivery models and methods, practices are shrinking while clientele is expanding.

The result is the promotion of efficiency, risk prediction, enhanced value, and cost reduction. With this expansion comes the availability of legal services to everyone. 

Furthermore, technology makes both primary and secondary legal source materials easier to access. For example, Harvard Law School decided to digitize their collection of 40 million pages of case law and give everyone free online access to them. 

Moreover, the use of legal tech and software can automate many parts of a lawyer’s job. Many legal tech tools have begun incorporating artificial intelligence, cloud computing, legal research and automation.

The rise in automation has caused some lawyers to fear it’s only a matter of time before tech disrupts the delivery of legal services. Despite this worry, thus far, legal technology has not taken jobs from human attorneys. Instead, it has improved the work for those who are willing to accept it. 

What Is a Legal Tech Incubator?

A general tech incubator involves a larger business providing support and mentorship to small start-up tech companies. Legal tech incubators include well-established law firms creating space for the rapidly increasing number of start-ups providing legal tech. 

For instance, global law firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, and Mischon de Reya have each created incubator programs for up and coming legal tech companies. These incubators help member businesses grow and succeed.

However, that success requires more than just space and positive intentions. Successful incubators must focus on solving issues commonly faced by law firms.

Focusing on the issues is often accomplished by providing human resources and mentorship. In these programs, the host company regularly teaches smaller companies to face their problems. The teaching, training, and mentorship are accomplished through meticulous planning, organization skills, a technical focus, and consideration of consumer opinions. 

What Are Some Legal Tech Start-Ups?

In addition to the established legal tech companies, there are many start-ups as well. Legal start-ups rose in popularity in recent years. Some examples include Luminance, Libryo, Lexoo, CrowdJustice, Alacrity, and Advokatguiden. 

  • Luminance is a relatively new company that provides artificial intelligence for the legal profession. 
  • Libryo offers software that helps individuals in any organization to understand applicable legal obligations. 
  • Lexoo is an online platform that gives individuals access to international lawyers and is also used by companies to compare and recruit lawyers for their in-house legal departments. 
  • CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation. 
  • Alacrity is a web-based platform that lets major corporations and law firms connect and improve their service delivery. 
  • Advokatguiden is a Norwegian website that publishes client reviews of lawyers and firms. Advokatguiden.no has forced transparency onto the legal profession and gives individuals insight into a lawyer’s pricing, skills, and track record. 

Embracing Legal Tech

The rising popularity of legal tech has contributed to the globalization of legal practice. The implementation of legal tech has also created new delivery models that focus on efficiency and the customer.

Legal tech opened these services to a broader client base and led to the adoption of automation.

While some are concerned about this new technology, other firms are embracing it. Legal tech incubators now help startups provide new legal technology to the profession. 

Image Credit: August de Richelieu; Pexels

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