Saving Cash in 2020: Your Quick Guide

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Saving Cash|Saving Cash in 2020: Your Quick GuideThis year is looking like a difficult one for individuals and families across the world. With millions out of work – and still more on a reduced salary, or on reduced hours – it can become difficult to make ends meet. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to take a look at the ways in which you can save you, and your family, some cash – ensuring that you’re not eating into your savings during this difficult financial period. With the right preparation, you’ll be able to reduce many of your monthly costs – as you’ll see below.

Your Subscriptions

When you check through your bank statement each month, you may come to find a few recurring payments that you feel are above and beyond what you can cover at the moment. These might include exorbitant phone bills, fees for membership organizations, or subscriptions to software or services. Look up how to cancel Adobe subscriptions, and how to shut-down direct debits you’re paying in order to reduce your total expenditure every month.

Food and Drink

Next up is the cash you spend on food and drink for your family. While it’s always nice to splash out on a takeaway meal, or expensive food from restaurants and cafes, it can sometimes be a little irresponsible to do so when you’re not earning a great deal of cash. Cutting down on what you spend on food and drink – and this includes alcohol, which can be expensive – will help you save for the future in a responsible fashion.

Bills

Many families across the US pay their bills in relation to how much electricity and heating, or air conditioning, they use. In these summer months, there’s less reason than usual to use your energy up in your home: it’s warm outside without being stifling, and it’s light for most of the waking day. If you can cut down on your energy usage in your home, your bills will reduce dramatically as a result.

Vehicle

How much are you driving at the moment? Are you able to cut down the amount that you drive, replacing some journeys with public transport, walking, or cycling? The amount of cash you spend on gas and vehicle repairs each year can really add up, leaving you with costs of over $100 each month. If you can, attempt to leave behind some of your driving so that you’re saving this cash to put towards more valuable investments.

Luxuries

Finally, if you’re beginning to worry about your cash flow in the future, it’s best to begin thinking shrewdly about what you spend your cash on, and where you decide to spend your expendable income. Everyone is different, with unique luxuries and a unique spending pattern. It’s up to you to see what’s essential and what’s a luxury, and to cut out the latter in your monthly spending. You can return to that luxury spending when you’ve found financial stability once again.

Use the tips outlined in this short article to cut out a good deal of your monthly spending, helping you to achieve financial stability for yourself or for your family.

A Helping Hand: 3 Key Things to Remember About the Government’s Coronavirus Aid Package

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Coronavirus Aid Package|A Helping Hand: 3 Key Things to Remember About the Government’s Coronavirus Aid PackageThe Coronavirus aid package, known formally as the CARES act, was passed by the American government in an effort to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on small business owners and families. With all of the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, families and individuals should seriously consider taking advantage of all available resources to avoid long-term personal and professional consequences. Get started by reading on to find out about three of the most important things about the coronavirus aid package.

Small Businesses Can Get Low-Interest Loans

The CARES act makes provisions for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide cash-flow assistance to businesses with fewer than 500 employees in the form of low-interest loans. These loans are provided by banks, but they’re guaranteed by the SBA. To get a loan, businesses must meet eligibility criteria, find an approved SBA 7(a) lender, and apply for the program before funding runs out. The best way to get started is to find information online at bswllc.com about CARES act loan consulting for small business owners.

The loans provided through the CARES act Paycheck Protection Program are specifically designed to help small businesses weather the storm of COVID-19. They can be used to cover things like payroll costs, paid sick leave, health insurance premiums, mortgage payments, and more. Eligible borrowers include not just small businesses, but also 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profits, registered veterans organizations, sole proprietors, tribal businesses, independent contractors, and the self-employed.

Coronavirus Relief Loans Are Partially Forgivable

When the loans are used to pay employee wages after businesses are partially or fully suspended or gross income declines by more than 50% in comparison to last year, the loans are partially forgivable. Eligible businesses with less than 100 full-time employees can get partial loan forgiveness regardless of whether they have been subject to shut-down orders.

If borrowers follow all the regulations laid out in the CARES act for how the loans can be used, they will be eligible for forgiveness of the money spent not just on payroll costs, but also rent, utilities, interest payments, and mortgages taken out before February 15, 2020. Since the SBA is guaranteeing the loans through private lenders, it is up to the discretion of the lender to determine forgiveness. The timeframe for forgiveness by lenders is currently 60 days from the borrower’s request.

Borrowers must provide documentation of how the money was spent to prove that the loan was used for approved purposes. This documentation must verify how many full-time equivalent employees are on the company’s payroll, how much they were paid, and how much the business spent on mortgage or lease obligations, utility payments, or other debt obligations. Lenders can request additional documentation if they deem it necessary to verify that the borrower’s expenses qualify for loan forgiveness.

Businesses that lay off employees or reduce their wages during the covered period of eight weeks from the time of taking out the loan will have the amount of forgiveness reduced. Employers who reduced payroll or employee headcounts between February 15 and April 26 can reinstate their former employee payrolls by June 30 to restore their ability to request loan forgiveness.

The CARES act also makes provisions for a refundable payroll tax credit. Employers who keep their workers on the payroll even if they can’t work full-time, or at all, can expect the program to cover 50% of their wages during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit will cover wages paid from March 13 to December 31 of this year up to $10,000 per eligible employee.

Student Loan Borrowers Get a Reprieve

Business owners aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the CARES act. In addition to the paycheck protection program, it also stipulates that student loan borrowers will not have to make payments on the federal loans until September 30. During this relief period, student loan payments will be fully deferred, and no interest will be accrued on the accounts.

There’s even more good news for borrowers whose loans are in rehabilitation. For every month that the loans are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the suspended payment will count as if the borrower had made the payment. This avoids disruptions to former students’ loan forgiveness obligations and reduces the burden on borrowers who are rehabilitating their federal student loans.

Borrowers with eligible student loans don’t have to do anything to take advantage of this program. They can simply stop paying their loans without incurring any fees or additional interest. Those who choose to continue paying their loans will also benefit since 100% of the payments will go to paying down their principal balances during this time.

Borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans will not have their wages garnished during the relief period. If they have experienced wage garnishments since March 13, borrowers can contact their employers to request that any funds sent to the Department of Education during this time be returned. Borrowers whose 2019 tax refunds or Social Security payments were withheld to pay off defaulted student loans can also have their refunds returned provided the process for withholding it was completed after March 13.

The CARES act also makes a provision for employers who pay down student loans as part of their employee benefits packages. These employers can now contribute up to $5,250 through the rest of 2020 tax-free, which benefits both employers and employees.

The Bottom Line

It can be difficult for business owners and consumers to sort out all the provisions of the CARES act by themselves. The best thing for those with questions about eligibility or the application process to do is to contact an accountant who can help them better understand what assistance is available during these trying times. The pandemic has changed everything about life in America and across the world, but it shouldn’t mean that business owners and families wind up suffering needlessly. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the CARES act provisions for protecting America’s workers, but make sure to consult an expert before taking out an SBA-guaranteed loan to ensure eligibility and clarify requirements.

Effective Ways to Cut Your Business Expenses

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Cut Your Business Expenses|Effective Ways to Cut Your Business ExpensesAll businesses cost money to run and involve necessary expenses such as employee salaries, office overheads, and supply costs. While some expenses are unavoidable, there are various ways to cut your business costs and save more each month. Becoming more financially aware and identifying ways to lower costs will boost your bottom line and provide you with more cash to invest in core areas of your company. With this in mind, here are some effective ways to cut your business expenses:

Reduce staff turnover

Recruitment is a significant expense for businesses, and many companies invest heavily in their recruitment strategies to attract the best candidates. Recruitment costs increase significantly when you have a high staff turnover rate, as you will have to invest resources in advertising job openings, vetting applicants, and training new employees. High staff turnover will also cause disruption in your business, which is likely to harm productivity and overall revenue potential. The current job market favors candidates, and research shows that there are currently more job openings than hires. With this in mind, it is more important than ever for employers to keep their teams happy and take steps to retain their skilled employees. You can minimize staff turnover by offering competitive pay and benefits, praising your staff for their work, and offering regular career advancement opportunities.

Lower your office costs

Your office overheads are likely to be your biggest business expense. Reducing your office costs can be a reliable way to cut your business expenses and boost your bottom line. Luckily, there are several thrifty ways to lower office costs. Here are a few ideas:

  • Move your office to a more affordable area:commercial properties tend to be cheaper when they are located on the outskirts of city centers.
  • Relocate to a smaller office space that offers a lower monthly rent.
  • Reduce the number of employees in the workplace by offering flexible and remote working. This should cut your office overheads and can also be an effective strategy to boost office morale and employee engagement.
  • Encourage green habits in the office, i.e., switch lights off during the day and have all equipment on the more eco-friendly setting. Switching to more sustainable workplace practices will reduce your company’s carbon footprint and cut your monthly utility bills.

Negotiate cheaper supply costs

The majority of businesses make wholesale supply purchases. Negotiating lower deals on supplies can make a dramatic difference to your monthly expenses, especially if you make wholesale purchases on a frequent basis. Make sure you shop around to find the best-value wholesale distributors. You should always speak with your current supplier before switching, as they may be prepared to match the lower rate. This will allow you to avoid any unnecessary hassle and reduce the risks involved with switching suppliers. You may also be able to instantly reduce your business expenses by finding better energy rates. Switching to a new business energy provider could save you up to 30% and takes just 5 minutes.

Energy Saving Tips | How to Reduce Bills

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | Energy Saving Tips | How to Reduce Bills

A recent study shows that energy usage in the United States is doubling every 20 years. If you are like most homeowners, reducing the amount of energy your home consumes is something you are passionate about. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to conserve energy and save money.

However, implementing the changes needed to reduce home energy use can be difficult. In this article, we will discuss some methods you can use to conserve energy and save money.

Make Sure You Are Getting the Best Energy Rates

One of the main things you need to focus on when trying to reduce monthly energy costs is getting the best rate. In states like Texas, the energy sector has been deregulated. This means that the energy providers in this state are competing with each other for business. This level of competition can help you get cheaper electricity rates.

By taking the time to compare the various rates being offered by providers in your area, you can get a much better deal. Ignoring the need for this type of research may result in you paying too much for your home energy needs.

Check Your HVAC Air Ducts

Finding sources of home energy waste will usually require you to perform an audit. Inspecting the various parts of your home can help you see where problems exist. During this audit, you need to pay close attention to the condition of your HVAC air ducts. If these ducts are filled with dust and dirt, it will be hard for air to pass through them.

The longer this problem is left in place, the harder your HVAC unit will have to work. Not only will this result in higher than normal energy bills, it can also lead to the unit being damaged. Hiring professionals to clean your ducts is a great way to keep your HVAC system efficient and reliable.

Control the Amount of Natural Light Entering Your Home

During the summer months, temperatures inside of your home can get pretty hot. As a homeowner, it is your job to find ways to reduce the amount of heat that enters your residence. If you leave your blinds open or have curtains made from sheer material on your windows, a lot of natural light can enter your residence.

The more natural light you have entering your home, the higher the temperature will get. Rather than putting your HVAC unit in a bind, you need to work on controlling the amount of light entering your home. The best way to do this is by investing in blackout curtains. The money paid for these new curtains will be worth it considering the energy they can help you conserve.

Invest in Solar Energy Solutions

If you are trying to make your home more environmentally friendly, investing in solar energy solutions is a great option. With the addition of things like solar panels and solar-powered water heaters, you can save money and reduce your dependence on fossil fuel-based energy. Most homeowners fail to realize just how much energy their electric water heater wastes. With the addition of a solar-powered water heater, you can get the consistent supply of hot water you need without relying on fossil fuels.

Solar panels are also a great addition to your home. Allowing professionals to install these panels will allow you to avoid mistakes.

It’s Time to Take Action

Using any of the suggestions in this article can help you save a lot of money and energy. With the help of professionals, making these energy-efficient changes will be easy.

Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business’ s Financial Position

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial PositionBusinesses have been hit hard in recent times, as the pandemic situation has given many business owners cause to worry about their finances. Not that worry is anything new, of course. The life of an entrepreneur has always been a difficult one, as there are all kinds of other factors that can cause financial worry, including the threat of the competition and the ever-changing marketplace which can leave some businesses struggling.

Chances are, you might be struggling within your business, and your financial position might not be as affluent as you would like. This might be because of the factors we have suggested, or there could be other reasons why your business isn’t as fruitful as it could be.

Of course, it might be that your business is doing just fine. If this is the case, then great! Still, no matter how well your business might be doing, we’re sure you would like to reach further heights of financial nirvana.

So, whatever the case is for you, be you happy or otherwise with your financial situation, here are some of the actionable steps you can take to make improvements.

#1: Assess your current situation

To know how well you are doing, you need to get on top of your accounting. If you have an accountant or any other type of financial adviser, sit down with them to discuss your finances. Do the same if you have people on your payroll that deal with the monetary sides of your business. Together, work out where savings could be made, or where other changes need to be put in place and take the necessary steps to make an improvement to your financial position.

And if you haven’t already, consider cloud ERP solutions for your business. These will give you a clearer picture of your finances, with Business Intelligence tools to help you evaluate every part of the financial side of your business. Using the data before you, it should be possible to get a better understanding of how well your business is doing financially.

When you have assessed your current situation, you will be able to work out the way forwards. The following suggestions might be useful to you, so keep reading.

#2: Assess your marketing tactics

For any business to make a profit, marketing has to be key. The more you can to do to get the word out about your business the better. However, you don’t want to waste money with your marketing efforts. If you are investing a lot but seeing zero or minimal return, then you need to rethink what you are doing. It could be that you are targeting the wrong demographic, for example, or you could be using a marketing method that no longer appeals to customers.

So, here’s what you need to do. Firstly, analyze your marketing tactics. You can do this using analytic tools, so check out the link and put them into practice if you haven’t already. Speak to your team too, and ask them for their opinion, and collect feedback from your existing customers to ask about the relevancy of your marketing.

For those marketing tactics that are working, keep using them. But consider how you might improve on what you are doing, and what tweaks you could make to make these tactics work even better for you. And then think of the marketing tactics you need to ditch. While they may have worked in the past, it is important to remember that time moves on and that you might need to try different ways to engage with potential customers. Check out these digital marketing trends if you haven’t already, and take a deep dive in to work out what might be practical for you.

#3: Sell those things you no longer need

Not only will you make more money if you sell some of your unwanted assets, but you will reduce your storage costs too! So, take a look around your business and consider the items that are no longer relevant to you. You might have surplus desks or pieces of computer equipment, for example. If they aren’t being used, and if they are unlikely to be used in the foreseeable future, it might make sense to sell them. Consider the same for any other items you have lying around your office, or that are filling up space in your storage areas. When you have made money from them, put a portion of that cash into your savings if you don’t need to spend it immediately, as you will then strengthen your financial position in the future.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial Position#4: Shift your surplus stock

Especially if your business is seasonal, it is important to sell off your surplus stock before you need to get rid of it through less-profitable means. So, mark down your prices and highlight them on your website. Send word out to your customers via email or social media. And if you’re still using leaflet drops to market your business, send the word out door-to-door about your discounted products. You will then make money rather than lose it, and for the short-term at least, you will see a rise in your financial position.

#5: Check for government grants

In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a government grant. If you were to innovate in any way, for example, perhaps with a product or service that could make a difference in people’s lives, you might be able to apply for a grant from your local government. Similarly, if you were to make green improvements to your business, you might also be eligible for some money. It’s with checking, so have a look at grants.gov for anything you might be eligible for, and continue your research online for other pots of money you might be eligible for.

#6: Deal with your business debts

The longer your business is in debt, the worse off you will be, as you will never have the opportunity to fully spend your profits on things your business needs. So, do what you can to reduce or eliminate the debts that are currently holding your business back. You might want to consider consolidating them, as if you can combine your current debts into one low-interest loan, you will make life much easier for yourself. You might want to contact your lenders too, and ask if they will freeze interest charges to give you a better chance of paying off your debts. You should also pay more than the minimum payment each month, as this way, you will be paying off more of the debt rather than just the interest charges. There are further ideas here on how to manage your business debt, so have a read, and get rid of them as soon as possible.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial Position#7: Stop spending more than you should be

If you want to improve your financial position (which, of course, you do), you should take a long hard look at your expenses. If you are paying too much in certain areas, stop! There are all kinds of ways to reduce your business expenses, so read the linked article, and start to make those savings. Of course, going beyond your expected expenses, you need to think about frivolous spending too. If you are buying unnecessary things for your business, then you are simply wasting money. Assess your spending, and keep in mind that saving is better than spending when you’re tempted to buy something you shouldn’t.

These are just a few of the steps you should be taking to improve your business’s financial position, so go back through each one, and commit to further research to help you increase your business profits.

We wish you every success with your business!