2014 First Quarter Business and Personal Finance Goals Update

I changed my goals for 2014, going with 3 goals that keep us accountable both on a personal and business level. With 3 months gone, it’s time to check in on my progress.

As always, I am leaving out steps on the way to achieving my goals (like fully funding out Roth IRAs and contributing to 401(k)s) because they would have simply been checkboxes. I don’t believe in setting goals that are more of a given than anything else. It’s not impressive to make a long list of achievable goals and when you accomplish 18 out of 20, to claim that 90% were completed when really those last 2 were the most important.

1. Grow My Blog Carnival Submission Service To Over $500/Month

This has been fairly stagnant and I haven’t put much effort into growing the service the last few months, but I have streamlined the process so it takes up less time and effort. It’s a good start, but now it’s time to be better at networking with newer bloggers to build a relationship and see if they can use my services. Even getting one new blogger to sign up each month would be a great, and the amount of work to get one person to sign up seems like it should be very reasonable.

2. Create At Least Two New Streams Of Income That Bring In $100 Per Month.

At the beginning of the year, I said I had an idea for one of these income streams, and in March, I’ve achieved that mark. With a friend, we buy some items in bulk and resell them individually for more on eBay. It’s worked out very well so far, and we’re looking for other opportunities to grow this.

I have no plan for the second income stream, but I suppose it’s early? Maybe SeriousBabies.com will take off?

3. Keep Discretionary Spending to 105% of 2013 Levels

Year over year spend decreased 2.6% for those first 3 months. Would have been very positive, but I removed a tuition payment from the equation. Last year we prepaid Spring tuition in December 2012, this year we paid it in January, so we did spend a lot more, but it would be very misleading and that represents nearly a 100% increase.

A few caveats: Our new car is not included in this calculation (we decided to pay it off over 5 years instead of paying in cash). Our typical grocery bill, insurance, charity, student loan payments, rent, and utilities won’t count toward this goal, but everything else does. We want to see if we can keep our discretionary spending in check, because that’s all we can really control.

I’m pretty excited that we actually reduced out discretionary spending the first three months. I assumed we spent more this year especially since I just booked a trip to the East coast for us, which was not cheap.

Of course, we still have at least 2 other trips we’ll have to pay for, including at least one international trip for a friend’s wedding. So we’ll see if we can keep it up, but it’s definitely a good start.

Rating Our Progress So Far

I could not be much happier with our current performance, especially on the personal front. On the business side of things, there is definitely work left to be done, but I’m definitely in a position where I can succeed, which is what I’m looking for after the first quarter.

How are you doing on your goals so far? Where are you succeeding?

Forex Fund Management

The following post is by David Parker from www.easy-forex.com.

Much like eating healthy, exercising, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis, money management is a routine that most forex traders agree on following but not many actually take the step and embrace. The truth is that it takes energy, both mental and physical, to apply these routines but in the long run they will prove highly beneficial.

Money management is divided into two methods. The one involves the assignment of many stop-losses on positions, and the profits from a few large successful trades which will outperform the many small unsuccessful trades. The other instructs the application of very few large stop-losses, and the profits from many small successful trades will overbalance the large unsuccessful trades. For any of the two methods, it is essential for the traders to take note of some considerations for the protection of their trading account balance.

Traders should not be using any funds needed for essential purposes such as housing or car loans, children university fees, or money set aside for any specific purpose because they might find themselves in pretty tight situations. It is no secret that the forex market bears risks and currency trading is more comparable to gambling than long term investing because of its high liquidity. For this reason, forex traders should be using money set aside only for risking in the forex markets and they should not be deprived in case those funds were lost.

Having a firm plan on stop-losses will aid traders, novice or not, to keep away from any emotional decisions such as hope of price reversal during a losing position. The decision of the size of the stop-losses will depend on the fund management method chosen by them. In case of winning positions, traders should let their profits accumulate and the setup of trailing stops is a useful method of doing so.

Understanding the power of leverage changes the traders’ perspectives on volumes traded. Leverage is a common loan given by forex brokers to their clients, from 50:1 up to 200:1 according to different brokers and account types. Even though it initially looks like a risky offer by a forex broker, it is not the case considering that currency prices change by less than 1% during a day. Although there is great potential to increase profits significantly using leverage, it is a double-edged knife. In other words, in case of the price going in the opposite direction, leverage can work as effectively to amplify potential losses and should therefore be accepted in moderation. By keeping this in mind, traders will not be taken by surprise on big losses if the market turns against their open positions.

Sometimes traders open positions which are of higher risk than the level they can handle, and the result is them worrying too much for taking too much heat. Traders will be better off mentally and technically when trading volumes of manageable sizes compared with their overall account fund sizes. Moreover, trading positions with higher risk than the trader’s own appetite is many times the result of greed. This trading sin became the downfall of many otherwise successful traders, not only because of risk overload but also due to overtrading and failure to take profits at appropriate levels. The best way for traders to avoid this type of mistake is to apply safeguards against positions and incorporate them into their trading plans.

Although money management requires discipline, it is flexible and can be applied in many different ways. The bottom line is that there should be a fixed plan on money management to provide the necessary guidelines instead of relying on emotions and ‘feeling’s on how to move within the forex markets.

Improve Your Credit Health with These Simple Steps

If you think that money rules the world, you’d be mistaken. In fact, when it comes to buying power in the United States, nothing gets you more than a healthy credit score. Sure, you can pay cash for a majority of your purchases, but when it comes to making the big purchases in your life, such as buying a house or even a car, a healthy credit score will help your dollars go farther.

handing over money

If you are like millions of people, you may find that your credit score isn’t as healthy as lenders would like when you go to secure a loan, purchase a car, lease a new apartment or buy a home. If you’ve been turned down for credit because you have a low credit score, don’t get discouraged; there are some simple steps that you can take to turn things around and get the bank to turn their “no” into a “yes.” Before you can start to take the necessary steps to improve your situation, you need to obtain a copy of your credit score. There are a number of sites such as Creditsesame.com where you can obtain a copy of your score.

Be Mindful of Credit Card Balances

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to make sure that you maintain low balances on your existing credit cards. You want to strive to keep the amount that you owe, compared to the available credit you have, at a rate of 10 percent or lower, according to Barry Paperno, consumer affairs manager with MyFICO. If you have credit cards that are close to their limit, you can increase your credit score by paying down those balances.

Deal with Past-due Accounts

Everyone has fallen behind on payments at one time or another. When a payment is late, it has a huge impact on your credit score. Your credit history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. That means that making even one payment more than 30 days late can drop your credit score. If you have several accounts that are past due on your credit report, you can’t waste any time correcting the problem. Accounts that are more than 90 days late have a bigger negative impact on your credit score, notes Abby Hayes, contributing writer for U.S. News and World Report. It is important to get these accounts current as soon as you can. Once you’ve caught up on the most delinquent accounts, you can start to gradually catch up on the rest of your past-due accounts.

Don’t Close Accounts

Part of your credit score is determined by the length of time you’ve had established credit with each creditor. You are rewarded for positive, long-term history that you have established with each creditor, according to the contributors at Entrepreneur. So, if you have credit cards that you aren’t using, it’s best to keep them open. If you want to keep from using the cards, simply put them out of sight and forget that you have them. Only use one or two cards, and give your credit score the positive boost that it may need.

Pay off Balances

There are a number of different philosophies regarding the best way to pay off credit balances. One approach is to pay off your largest debt first, advises Mandy Woodruff, writer at Business Insider. She suggests that by paying down the largest debt first, you can save a ton of money on the interest charges related to the account. Another thought regarding paying off balances is to tackle the balance with the highest interest rate. By paying this debt off first, you can get out from under the high interest rate and have more money to put toward your other cards. Another plan is to pay off the card that has the lowest balance first, advises Curtis Arnold, founder of CreditRatings. This gives you the instant gratification of having a single card paid off rapidly and can help motivate you to keep going. It doesn’t matter which method you choose; the only thing that matters is paying off the balances on your cards so you can increase your credit score.

Having a healthy credit score is vitally important to getting what you want in life. Without it you will have a difficult time buying a car, obtaining new loans, finding a new apartment and owning your own home. If you’re plagued by a low credit score, you don’t have to give up on the things that you want. You simply have to put in some extra effort and do the work that is needed to improve your credit score. While there isn’t an overnight fix to the problem, over time you’ll be able to see an improvement in your score and will start getting more approvals from the banks.