The cost of spending a winter in Guatemala

The cost of spending a winter in Guatemala

Retiring abroad permanently may not be in your long term plans, but how about escaping the long and dark winters for 3-6 months a year? Sounds like a good compromise between living abroad and staying at home? I have already talked a bit about how much it costs to live in Guatemala, but this post breaks down the cost of spending a winter in Guatemala. [Read more...]

Of course the rich want to keep the middle class down!

Of course the rich want to keep the middle class down!

Financial Samurai had an interesting post recently asking if rich and powerful people are trying to keep the middle class down. I went through the comments and was really surprised to find that the vast majority said “of course not!” and there were some shy “maybes”, mostly pointing the rich are trying to keep their circle closed. Of course they want to keep the poor down! I am surprised at the comments to be the first one to say it clearly. Maybe because in Guatemala, it is way more obvious. [Read more...]

Potential pitfalls of being self employed

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Working for yourself can seem like the dream job. Who wouldn’t want to avoid the daily commute, not to mention the demands of an impatient boss? Certainly, many Britons are deciding that self-employment is the right option for them — so much so that the UK is now fast-becoming Western Europe’s self-employment capital. The government says that there are now almost five million people in Britain working for themselves, up from the 3.9 million who were self-employed at the beginning of the financial crisis. There are countless others who yearn to ditch their employee status, but there are challenges that self-employed people must face and pitfalls that they can encounter.

Pensions

The insurer Prudential claims that almost half of the UK’s self-employed population have no pension provision, and the estimate is that people working for themselves will miss out on anything up to £91,500 over the course of their working lives, purely because they do not benefit from employer contributions to a pension scheme. There is also the possibility that people will not have made the required 35 years of contributions needed at the moment to secure a full state pension, putting financial security in retirement seriously at risk.

Loans and Mortgages

There was once a time not that long ago when it seemed almost impossible for the average self-employed person to get a loan or mortgage. It would be fair to say that, in many quarters, it is still much more difficult to secure financial assistance in the form of a loan if you work for yourself than if you were in ‘regular’ employment. There is financial assistance available, however, if you choose the right lender. There are now specialist self-employed loans on offer such as the ones from Evolution Money, along with homeowner loans, which are much easier to obtain because lenders have the security of your home to fall back on if you were to default on the payments.

Tax Problems

Working for yourself can be a complex business when it comes to paying tax. You may have problems with being put on the right tax code, and you can also face hefty bills at least once a year. This can make budgeting difficult, and then there are tax benefits that you miss out on. Self-employed people, for example, are not entitled to the usual termination payment tax exemption up to £30,000, which can have a major effect on finances at the end of a contract.

Employee Benefits

They may not seem to be worth much, but employee benefit schemes can really boost your pay packet. Self-employed people, however, miss out on the likes of private health and dental care, along with other bonuses such as gym membership or even free parking passes. There are also other benefits to working for a company other than your own, such as free eye tests if you work with a computer. Employers must pay for a free test if this is the case and must even fund some basic glasses if they are required.

Fluctuating Income

Self-employment can be a turbulent road, especially when it comes to making regular payments. There are inevitably months when the budget is tighter than others, but there are often still the same bills to pay. Budgeting is inevitably more difficult for you if you are self-employed, and there is more risk of short-term money shortages. There is also the fact that you are not entitled to sick or holiday pay if you are self-employed. Unforeseen illnesses, for example, can lead to short-term cash-flow problems.

There is no doubt that there are pitfalls to self-employment, but there are also many benefits to be had. Careful planning and understanding the downsides and advantages can put you on the road to success and help to keep you there.

10 things you need to know before getting a Great Dane

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Today on Savvy Scot, I share 10 things you need to know before getting a Great Dane. Napoleon has been a joy to have around but it sure is not for everyone! Click to read more…

great dane

And over at Make Money Your Way, I am having Hayley from Disease Called Debt who has recently written an ebook packed with 101 ways to make money from home, and will talk today about setting up a home based venue sourcing business.

Is Bitcoin right for you?

Credit Bitcoin.org
Credit Bitcoin.org

Credit Bitcoin.org

Are you familiar with Bitcoin? Unless you live under a rock, you have probably seen it mentioned quite a bit lately, however, if you don’t know what it is all about, here is a quick review.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that was launched in 2009, and is not affiliated to any government or central bank. It is a peer-to-peer system that can be assimilated to a way of using cash online. Bitcoin is anonymous, so if you make a payment, unlike when providing your credit card details, there is no trace of your purchase. While that may seem good for privacy, it also means that if you paid a vendor who did not deliver what you paid for, you have no way to get your money back. Bitcoin being a global currency, you can send money anywhere in the world, without having to pay currency exchange rates of hefty bank charges.

There are a lot of companies, from Expedia or Dell to bookmakers who accept Bitcoin transactions. It looks like now it is just another way to pay for a purchase, just like Paypal or using a credit card. The only thing is, being a currency, Bitcoin goes up and down in value and so you may buy it a day and sell for either a profit or a loss the following day. Due to the relatively low amount of currency being traded, Bitcoin has a high volatility, meaning it could gain or lose more value than a stable currency over a short time frame.

Considering Bitcoin as an investment can be a way to diversify your portfolio, but I would advise as always that you don’t invest money you are not prepared to lose, or would need in the short term, as you may have to exit a losing position. Bitcoins have been worth over $1,000 and are now back in the $400 range. It is not for the faint of heart!

Bitcoin is now a pretty lucrative business, while countries like Bolivia or Bangladesh have made it illegal, others like the Isle of Man are trying to encourage it to flow over. I still have mixed feelings regarding Bitcoin. On one hand, I like that it is all digital, and quick and easy, but on the other hand I wonder how something that technically isn’t worth anything can hold a value that people recognize and respect over the long term.

That said, the same goes for U.S. dollars. Before, you had silver coins, or gold coins, and the value of the coin was directly the value of its weight in gold. Now you have a paper $1 bill, and if we all went at the same time to the central bank and demand that our bills be exchanged for tangible gold, there may be a big problem.

So far, it looks like people recognize the value of Bitcoin, but since it is a pretty young currency, only six years old, it is hard to predict its future. I am sticking to “real” currency for now, while I wait to see how the whole thing gets more formal and regulated. But down the road, I am really attracted to it as an option to send money to different countries at almost no cost.

Getting a mortgage when you are self-employed

Credit

When I knew I was about to quit my  job and work for myself full time five years ago, the first thing I thought about was the possibility to get access to credit down the road. I had a good credit score, and had been working with the company for long enough to qualify for a mortgage, so I decided to buy a property before quitting.  [Read more...]

5 Things to Remember When Choosing a POS System

POS system

POS (Point of Sale) systems have become a staple for many business establishments for good reason. Many enterprises have experienced how they can automate many tasks business owners like you used to take time to complete. Some of these important tasks include tracking and keeping tabs on inventory and creating daily reports on business operations. [Read more...]

Side hustle series, part 10

Time for a new installment of awesome, weird and unusual side hustles, check it out on Make Money Your Way!

 

And on Savvy Scot, I share a few more ways to make your own healthier and cheaper junk food.

Blame it on the economy

Blame it on the economy

Once thing that makes me cringe is people talking about how times are tough, and how hard it is to get a job. How tough was 1929? I never heard my grandparents saying “times were tough, we couldn’t find a job”, and they lived through WWII. They just got up their a**es and got to work. They grew a garden, had some animals so they could be mostly self sufficient, and raised 7 kids on one salary and food ration tickets. [Read more...]

When the Joneses want to belong

rat race

Why do the Joneses often have the urge to bully us to go “up” to where they are?

When I was a kid, my dad lost his job. In hindsight, it was not a big deal, we kept going on holidays, I still had piano and horse-riding lessons, we still attended one of Paris’ most expensive private schools and lived in a prestigious neighborhood. [Read more...]