Mortgage Issues Can Be a Huge Midterm Issue Among Voters

The Trump administration has rolled back several regulations that were made under the Obama administration. He was honest about his plans even before he was elected. In fact, some of those policies have made people vote for him even more.

The problem is that a lot of those policies were created under false premises. For instance, Trump has promised stronger border policies because the immigrants are considered threats and are pouring in the country’s border. The truth is that there has already been a steady decline in the number of illegal crossings over the years.

He has also gone against environmental protection laws and said that they are killing coal jobs when in fact those laws were based on scientific research and the jobs he is trying to bring back are not sustainable anyway.

More detrimental policies

The recent issue about the trade war that Trump has made over the U.S.’s biggest trading partners like Canada and China was seen as a huge problem even among his allies within the party. The Republican Party has always been in favor of trade laws that will benefit the country. As it stands, Trump’s policy of increasing the tariffs has been met with retaliatory tariffs from affected countries.

People in Washington might not be affected by this trade war, but a lot of ordinary Americans could actually feel its economic impact. News outlets have started reporting that this policy can hurt the states that propelled Trump to victory.

The problem when there is a trade war is that the cost of basic commodities will increase, especially those that were obtained from products produced by the trading partners. It can also cause a major problem among companies that are sending products overseas as more taxes are imposed. They have no choice but to increase the cost of the goods and this could lead to lower sales. There were even projections that these companies will start laying off employees so they can lower the operational expenses. In effect, the value of properties around the affected areas could go up, making it even more difficult for people to buy a house.

Worse, a lot of people might lose their jobs or have income that is too low for them to get approved when applying for a mortgage. Even the options that could have made it easier to apply for loans might be tough for several people. The impact on mortgage loans is just one of the many effects of the ongoing trade war. It might not be felt for now, but it could lead to problems in the long run. Just check mortgage comparison sites like top10mortgageloans.com now and compare the changes in the future.

Election impact

Trump has never stopped bragging about his election victory. A major midterm election loss could be devastating to him and the entire party. He might try to exaggerate a lot of issues to justify the policy, but once people start feeling the impact of what he wanted to happen, they could really stand against it and let their voices be heard in the ballot.

What are funeral plans?

You may often hear the term ‘funeral plan’ bandied about, especially on TV advertisements. What is important to realise, however, is that this term can be used to encapsulate several different types of funeral financial planning products.

So, if you are considering funeral plans, then it is vital you research the different types of plans available, to see which one is most appropriate for you.

There may be some products that better meet your needs than others – for example, if you just want a form of funeral plan that will help towards the costs of you being buried or cremated – the average no-frills UK burial costs around £4,000, an almost 20% price increase in the past three years – then an over 50’s life insurance policy may appropriate for you.

So, what are your funeral plan options?

Prepaid funeral plan

With the cost of dying increasing faster than the rate of inflation, prepaid funeral plans are a way to remove the financial and emotional burden from your family.

A mid-range prepaid funeral plan can cost from £3,559*. You simply pay a lump sum or monthly payments to your chosen funeral plan provider over a set period (anywhere between one and 25 years), and this ensures an inflation-beating way that the bulk of your funeral costs are covered no matter when you die.

Note that we say that the ‘bulk’ of your funeral costs will be covered. This is because some prepaid funeral plans guarantee to cover all the costs when you die, while others may only guarantee to cover the funeral director’s costs. That is why it is important that you understand fully what your plan entails.

Direct cremation plans

Direct cremation plans are a fairly new addition to the UK personal finance market. These are where the body goes straight from the undertaker’s to cremation. There is no service, leaving families free from worry of having to make the usual funeral arrangements, as well as the upset of the actual funeral service. If they so wish, they can arrange a celebration of Life event or similar afterwards.

You can request that the ashes are returned, so your loved ones can scatter them or keep them.

Direct cremation plans are even more cost-effective than prepaid funeral plans, starting at just £1,595*, and again, protect those you leave behind against rising cremation costs.

Over50’s life insurance plans

Over 50 life insurance plans are often touted as funeral plans but are in fact, a form of life insurance. Costs start at £3.72* a month, and anyone aged 50 -85 can apply for the cover. Acceptance is guaranteed – so even if you have been refused life insurance elsewhere, perhaps due to a medical condition – you can still get an over 50’s life insurance plan.

The sum your loved ones receive when you die won’t be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds – more around £10,000-£20,000 depending on your budget.

The important thing is, this money takes the strain off your family, and it can be used to pay towards your funeral costs or to leave a small legacy.

In summary, you can there are many funeral plan options. Hopefully, this brief article will help you make an informed decision as to what plan may be the most suitable for you.

* All costs correct as at the time of writing (July 2018)

How to Streamline Your Small Business in 5 Ways

Every small business owner wants their business to grow as fast as possible, but with growth comes bigger problems and it’s important to know how to streamline your business so you can cope with your problems more easily. What can you do to manage your business operations better?

The less time you spend on email, the better

The sooner you realise that email is more of a distraction than anything else, the better. We understand that it may not always be practical to ban email altogether, but you need to cut down how much time you spend responding to it. At most, don’t spend more than fifteen minutes per day and when you do, only respond to the most urgent ones. If you use email for internal communications, we’d suggest something more efficient like Slack.

Don’t keep changing your systems every now and then

If something works for you, stick with it. Trying to reinvent the wheel every time you have a brilliant idea will only waste your time. Imagine having to train and retrain employees every time you switch up your file formats. Be like bigger companies and standardise your business processes to help you stay consistent.

Let Google do some of the work for you

Google has provided tools to help you get in front of your audience, so use them. By signing up for Google My Business, you make it easier for customers to find you. When customers are able to find the information they need about you, including directions, you’ll save time answering calls from clients who are trying to locate your office.

Use the right tools for your business

Technology has given small businesses access to useful tools that can help them save time and money. Using these tools to your advantage can make a huge difference, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Instead of using every app there is, focus on a few that can really make a difference for your business.

Tools to try include: Slack (for seamless communication between staff); Trello (for project management and progress tracking on tasks); ZenDesk (helps to simplify customer service across various channels); Freshbooks (for managing finances with minimal effort); PandaDoc (a document management software); MailChimp (a marketing automation tool for email); and Calendly (a tool for scheduling appointments and meetings).

Take inventory ultra-seriously

If you aren’t serious with inventory early on, you can face big problems later and even lose money in the process. Just as you would check your pantry or fridge to get rid of spoiled food, so should you clear your inventory of outdated stock. Doing this ensures that you can gain valuable storage space.

Keeping inventory organised helps to save time in the long run and prevent waste of resources. Depending on the nature of your business, you could benefit from an inventory management system, so look out for the options available to you.

Take these suggestions one at a time and make your business better every day.

Know the 5 Reasons Behind the UK High Street Crisis and Avoid them

Our high streets are still in crisis with retailers struggling with monster problems such as rising overheads, a shift to online shopping and slimmer profits. Many brands have been closing stores in a scramble to cut costs and more closures are expected. Even places like Nuneaton that have been able to weather the storm better than most other areas is hit hard.

If you’re going to have any hope of avoiding the causes behind the crisis, you’ll have to know what they are first:

1.    Overheads keep going up

In addition to the cost pressure of inflation, there’s also the issue of rising overheads. For instance, business rates keep rising and that can deter investment in local communities. There’s also the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage for people over 25 are increased annually and that costs the retail industry about £1.5bn to £3bn a year, according to the British Retail Consortium. When these are combined with other overheads such as insurance and utility bills, it all becomes too much to handle.

2.    The online shopping boom

Given the fact the overall retail market is experiencing minimal growth, success becomes a matter of market share and 20% of that now belongs to online stores. Big shots like Amazon have affected the high street significantly as more buyers consider shopping online to be easier and cheaper than heading out to a physical shop. The growth of online sales doesn’t seem like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon even as overall growth in the market is weak.

3.    Less disposable income

Since Brexit, the pound has fallen by nearly 15% and inflation has gone up by over 3%. This has caused imports to be more expensive and the consumers are the ones who get to bear the cost. Also, wages have not been rising at the same pace of inflation, meaning that shoppers don’t have as much disposable income to spend in restaurants and stores. Retail sales grew by 4.7% in 2016, but slowed down to a mere 1.9% last year. For some, it has been a rapid decline and for others, a serious problem.

4.    There are too many retail outlets

It’s dangerous for a retailer to have underperforming outlets, considering the tight trading conditions. The problem, however, is too many firms expanded beyond what was necessary when times were good and that left them exposed. Now, some companies have to shut down dozens of stores across the country. The lesson here is perhaps the way to grow a business is not always to open new outlets.

5.    High debt burdens

Having too much debt has a great deal to do with having too many outlets. Companies that over expanded know this now, but it’s too late. The ideal out for many brands is to call mayday and shut down their least profitable outlets.

While we can expect further decline of the high street, it’s not necessarily all gloomy. There are brands that will be able to weather the storm.

Never exit the trade during market retracement

The most common mistake that traders make in their career is they exit the market when the trend changes. It is a normal process that the trends will change and new trends will come. You do not need to close the trades for this reason. People think as soon as the favorable trend has ended, the new trend begins. There can be thousands of reasons for a new trend to come. It does not have to be a risk for your profit but you can still keep the trade open. This article will tell you why it is safe and also necessary to keep trades open in different changes.

Difference between retracement and trade change

Those who are completely new to the retail trading industry are always taking a huge risk to earn money from this market. But the risk takers can never make consistent profit from this market. Though the new traders in the United Kingdom managed to execute profitable trades most of the time yet they lose money. Do you know the exact reason for such loss? They are just closing their profitable trades too early. As a new investor, you need to stay in the market as long as you can. Let the winners run long and cut your losing trades early. If the market goes against you, try to identify whether it’s a trend change or minor retracement. If it’s a minor retracement your trade is still valid and you should stick to your plan.

Risk reward ratio

Finding high-risk reward trade setup is the most important thing in currency trading industry. When you are trading CFDs you have to deal with many losing trades. So if you always focus on big winners and embrace small loss, you are going to make a decent profit in the long run. Trade management skill is the most important thing in currency trading industry. Devote yourself and learn more about risk management factors. Never cut your winning trades early as it will ruin the risk-reward ratio of the setup.

It is the nature of Forex

The trend changes because it falls in the nature of trading industry of Forex. Forex is always evolving and many new trends are coming. People who have adapted themselves to the changes have survived and still trading and the others have lost their money. You cannot continue to make profits with the same trend for much longer. It will change because this is how the people make and lose their profit. The next time you see a change in the trend, never get afraid or pull out your trades. You have to place the trades with the strategy and proper planning so that they are not closed when the trend moves.

Some level of change in trend is accepted

Do not expect the Forex patterns to be fixed. The trends will change and there is some level. If you find they are changing at a rapid level, the industry might become volatile. Natural volatility is important for profit but a high level of volatility also indicates choppy market. In a choppy condition, the patterns get electrified and they change like winds. One moment they can be at the bottom of your chart and the next moment they will pierce the screen to get out of the chart. If the trend changes and it is accepted in your strategy, do not close the trades.

Early exit kills the plan

Every trade starts with uncertainty in Forex. You cannot say that your trade is going to win money as the trends do not have a pattern or nature. If you close your trades early to save your investment, you may lose your potential investment. Keep them open for as long as you can and you will find the trend has come in your favor. Many people find the trend changes after they have opened their trades.

New to Forex Trading, Work Your Way up Using Demo Trade Accounts

Not sure about forex trading yet? No need to rush. There is a lot that needs to be learnt to be a guru in this trade. Good news is that there are platforms where you can learn and develop your skills and strategies as you get ready to make a real investment. As you already know, forex trading is the buying and selling of different currencies online. The forex market is the leading market in the world in terms of capital investment.

Forex Trading Demo Accounts

There are many forex brokers available on the internet today. You have probably seen a number of pop-ups here and there. Forex brokers are firms or companies that provide online forex traders with a platform where they can trade. In order to trade, one is required to create or register an account with the platform of choice.

Forex trading can seem complex especially to beginners. There are a number of terms that may even confuse you. One needs to be cautious before making any decisions on the trade. But how and when does one gain the skills on how to trade without exposing the hard earned capital? Luckily, you can learn most of the techniques and skills from a forex trading demo account.

What Is A Forex Trading Demo Account?

This can be described as a pretend account. Basically, it has many of the capabilities that you will find in a real account; the only difference is that in this case, all these provisions are ‘fake’ but help you develop your skills.

Why Demo Accounts Are Free

Forex trading is rewarding, probably the most rewarding investment if one can learn how to correctly predict the market trends. The forex broker wants you to reap this benefits and that’s why he provides you with a platform where you can learn your way in, out and around the forex trading platform. He wants you to develop skills that will make you love forex and make a real investment without exposing your capital to great risks. With a demo account, you can safely assess your skills as many times as possible.

It is prudent to stay away from real trades until you are consistently making virtual money from the demo account.

Different Forex Brokers Have Different Platforms

The forex trading platforms do not have a specific layout of the demo accounts. However, though the platforms may appear to be a bit different, many have the same features. For instance, you will find charts, news, forex prices or quotes, drawing tools, buying and selling provisions among others. Some platforms have many features while some have just the main ones. Some platforms have the same features but in different arrangements.

When do I know it’s time to make a real trade?

Forex experts recommend that one should place no less than 50 trades on a demo account before going real. Ideally, this will help equip you with the skills and specifics of placing an order on the platform. That said, if you can confidently complete the following tasks, you are well on your way to live trade success

  • Set the limit and stop time at the time of entry
  • Place a limit order
  • Ask and bid
  • Differentiate between a variable and a fixed spread
  • Stop an order
  • Tell a typical spread from one that is not
  • Identify the lot size that you can trade in
  • Know when or not to mix lot sizes

As already mentioned, different platforms have different designs. In order to buy a currency pair, some will require you to click on the prices as displayed on the chart while others require the use of a pop-up window. When buying or selling a currency pair, you will find two terms; ask or bid. Asking means you want to buy currency pair while bidding means you want to sell.

Learning Never Stops

Demo trading equips you with the skills of live trades, with real money. Even after you feel that you have acquired the skills, do not trash your demo account. It is always a great platform for testing new strategies before making them real.

The Future of Agro-industry in Latin America

International Trade expert Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan calls for a new culture of enterprise in the Latin American Agro-industry sector. “The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a 50 percent jump in global agricultural production is needed to support a projected world population of nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

If Latin America is going to keep and increase its share of the global market, it needs to modernise.” Much of the increased demand will come from China which will account for 1.38 billion people by 2050, and its demand for food products will double.  Much of this will come from domestic supply but experts believe that there are significant challenges with which the Chinese food sector will need to contend with to maintain or increase productivity. As Chinese growth increases the size of the middle class there will be an increase in the consumption of western style diets – more meat, sugar, coffee, soy, diary and less demand for starch staples.

The value of beef consumption alone is predicted to rise by 236 per cent, dairy consumption by 74 per cent, sheep and goat meat consumption by 72 per cent and sugar consumption by 330 per cent. Food production in Latin American is projected to increase over the next decade but not by enough to satisfy this kind of demand.

To meet the demand, Dellan recommends the sector to adopt the same models used in high-tech industry. “The incubator-accelerator model is routinely used for technology start-ups and research innovation in other sectors, we need to introduce this method to the agricultural sector to encourage innovative approaches and new products. For this to work we need a new system of incentives and a simplification of the regulatory processes.” Above all, Dellan passionately believes in the need to invest in education. “For too long the land and farming have been second choices as careers, by linking high tech innovation with farming, we can encourage our young people to embrace the agroindustry sector as part of the future and not the past”

Julien Fournié Inspires New DasCoin Blockchain for Fashion

Haute couture designer Julien Fournié was recently asked to provide inspiration for an innovative blockchain solution for the global fashion industry by DasCoin, a leading cryptocurrency. The technology was unveiled at an exclusive event hosted in the world-famous Eiffel Tower in March 2018.

Blockchain Technology

Many industries, including the fashion industry, require ways in which to share information confidentially, such as sharing design ideas across multiple stakeholders. The challenge in this complex ecosystem is the protection of intellectual property, with previous solutions lacking efficiency and costing over the odds. The unique solution developed by DasCoin in conjunction with Julien Fournié utilises the same technology as the cryptocurrency, building on the DasNet platform to bring design safeguards and genuine product authentication to the fashion industry in one cost-effective and efficient package. Ultimately, DasCoin has expressed an objective of rolling this technology out to encompass a wide variety of industries including film, music, sports, insurance, supply chain and more.

Julien Fournié

The choice of Julien Fournié as partner for this flagship technology in the fashion industry was natural, as the designer has a long-standing reputation for the adoption and development of technology in fashion design. Julien Fournié has been closely involved with technological research and development. He has worked with Dassault Systèmes to create 3D design tools, and encouraged the use of mobile hardware for design. Fournié commented that the tools contributing to design protection were a key element in securing the future of the global fashion industry and ensuring designers maintain ownership of their collections.

DasCoin

 The blockchain technology developed and used by DasCoin is secure, quick and scalable, facilitating traceable, auditable and efficient solutions for the fashion industry. Legally binding agreements including automated non-disclosure agreements and smart contracts are integrated into the system, meaning the use of designs entering the system is audited and controlled, with access only provided to authenticated partners. All parts of the supply chain can be included at little cost into this fast and seamless system.

Eiffel Tower Event

 The partnership between Julien Fournié and DasCoin was unveiled on 26 March 2018 in the Eiffel Tower’s Salon Gustave Eiffel, in an event which featured a fashion show of Fournié’s latest collection. Fournié was joined by Michael Mathias, CEO of DasCoin, in a Q&A session detailing which questions specific to fashion designers were being answered by the blockchain technology. Mathias discussed how the technology could be utilised in future to protect a vast array of industries as well as the fashion sector.

For all the latest news and updates on DasCoin, follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

Entrepreneurs Can’t Work Forever: How to Plan for Your Retirement

Entrepreneurs deserve long retirements as much as the salaried men and women who work for them. Unfortunately, planning for retirement when others’ livelihoods ride on your decisions isn’t so easy.

Use this sequential roadmap to get your retirement planning on track — and prepare to hang up your hat while you’re still young enough to enjoy it.

Speak With a Capable Investment Adviser

Before you venture too far into the retirement planning process, find and consult with an investment adviser capable of advising small business owners on personal retirement decisions. If you have yet to set up a comprehensive benefits package for your employees, you might broach the topic during your consultation as well. Once you’ve set your expectations and centered your thinking, you can move on to the more specific, action-oriented steps of your retirement planning process.

Run a Comprehensive Cash Flow Analysis

Next, run a comprehensive cash flow analysis for your small business. While this may come off as a mundane step for hands-on owners intimately familiar with the financial workings of their businesses, it’s absolutely crucial to paint an accurate picture of your financial health. You need to know precisely what you can afford to set aside in the Self Invested Pension Plan (Sipp) you’ll set up in the following step.

Set Up a Self Invested Pension Plan (Sipp)

Did you know that you’re likely eligible to save into a private pension plan, known as a Self Invested Pension Plan (Sipp)? Far too few small business owners take advantage of this allowance: according to the Federation of Small Businesses, just over 30 per cent of U.K. entrepreneurs contribute into a Sipp, and some 15 per cent have no retirement savings at all. You’ll need to mind annual contribution limits and other important limitations. Speak with a financial adviser for guidance pertinent to your situation.

Look for Opportunities to Increase Your Contribution

Take the opportunity to trim unnecessary business expenses to further improve your cash flow. The nature of these cuts will depend on the nature of your business. Again, mind contribution limits that may affect your ability to make additional deposits to your pension scheme, and don’t hesitate to speak with a financial adviser for further guidance.

Devise an Exit Strategy

Begin thinking ahead to your exit. Determine the exit strategy that makes the most sense for your needs: winding up the enterprise altogether, selling the business to a third party, or transferring ownership to the next generation. Whichever you choose, expect the process to take several years from start to finish. If you intend to retire in the relatively near future, you’ll want to plan your exit sooner rather than later.

Don’t Assume Your Firm’s Sale Will Fund Your Retirement

Avoid overestimating your firm’s value. If you stake your retirement on a favorable sale, you’re set up for massive disappointment with unwelcome quality-of-life implications. Do well to have a nest egg separate from your firm’s paper value.

Plan Early, Plan Well

It’s never too early to get a head start on retirement planning. This sequential roadmap provides a basic overview of the planning process, but it’s no substitute for consultation with a professional. Take that step now, while you’re still enjoying yourself.

The Life of a Freelancer – Then to Now

This is the story of a freelancer and just what he does is not particularly relevant. Where does he live? This might be slightly related – somewhere in Asia. What he has accomplished in his freelancing career, he says, leaves him more than satisfied on the work and personal fronts, and it is safe to say he enjoys what he does.

Consider this – the UK is home to around two million freelancers. The number of freelancers has risen by 43% from 2008 to 2016. In addition, freelancers contribute around £119 billion to the region’s economy.

Rough Start

Sam had moved to a new city to work as a language trainer, when the opportunity to work as a freelancer arose. There was a glitch, though. He would have to settle for less than half his salary. The lure of being his own boss got the better of him, and he submitted his resignation to his then employer soon after.

He started off with a single client, who, by market standards, did not pay much. He was also required to work for around 10 hours each day. Ouch! It was natural for him to look for greener pastures and he did. When he told his first client that he had to reduce the hours he gave him, the client was none too happy. Sam was told it was 10 hours or nothing. Feeling exploited, he went with none. The result was he did not get paid for the last 50 or so hours.

Lessons he says he learnt:

  • Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Dot not put off asking till tomorrow the money you can ask for today.

Keeping At It

Sam’s second client, on whose account he had the courage to bid goodbye to his first, was not just a better paymaster, but also more accommodating. He soon had the freedom to manage time in his own way, and the travelling bug that had resided in him for long finally saw light of day.

Some research pointed him to a popular platform for freelancers and he’s not had the need to look for clients outside of it since. A steady supply of work keeps him going, and he’s come from $4 to $24 per hour after abiding by some self-made rules.

  • All Important Deadlines. Sticking to deadlines is paramount. If he feels he cannot handle a task in a given timeframe, he does not take it on. If he thinks, halfway through a project, that he might take longer than expected, he lets the client know immediately. He travels to his parents once or twice a year, for a month at a time, and when he’s there his work-load reduces to half. All his long-term clients know of this ahead of time, and he takes on new work accordingly.
  • This should go without saying, but, unfortunately, it does not. No matter what a client’s budget, he or she will look for top quality work. A shortcoming with some freelancers, Sam suggests, is that the quality of work they provide depends on the compensation they receive. He’s found an easy way around this. He does not compromise on his rate, and as a result, he has no reason to compromise on quality.

Working with International Clients

Sam opines that working with international clients is no different that working with ones in your home country, expect for one important aspect. You get paid in different currencies. Initially, he ended up losing a fair bit of money through fees and unfavourable exchange rates when receiving payments from overseas clients. Now, he relies on a handful of specialist money transfer companies. The list includes TransferWise as well as its competitors such as CurrencyFair, Currencies Direct, OFX, and WorldFirst. Most of his clients are happy using these companies because they tend to save in fees as well.

How He Got From $4 to $24 Per Hour

It did not happen overnight, of course. He’s been at it for more than eight years. He says that the feedback one receives from clients plays a crucial role in the life of a freelancer. The platform he works on has a simple “star” system through which freelancers are rated. Negative ratings affect a freelancer’s ability to get work in the future. He feels that that even if you’re not a part of a freelancing platform, you may use positive testimonials from your clients to further your case.

He has steadily increased his rate every year, and the feedback he has received so far holds him in good stead. The long-term clients he has been working with have never shied away from his request for an annual hike, maybe because they treat him as an asset.

Would he recommend the life of a freelancer? Absolutely, he says. He now has the freedom to travel where he wants, and he takes his work with him. He likes starting work early in the morning, and more often than not, he’s done by lunch. He’s not Spanish but he loves his siestas, and they’re part of his everyday life. He says his dogs couldn’t be happier – they get to spend the entire day with him.