Distinguishing Wants from Needs

One of the most difficult aspects of living in a market-driven, consumption-oriented society is knowing when what you already have is good enough. After all, you’re bombarded with messages everyday telling you the thing with which you thought you were satisfied has been replaced by something ending with the suffix “-er”.

Whether bigger, better, faster, prettier or even smaller, we’re continually being told what we have isn’t good enough. This can make distinguishing wants from needs tough to do.

Needs and Wants Defined

On the face of it, the difference between needs and wants is pretty simple.

A need is something you must have to survive, while a want only makes your existence more pleasant. For example, you might well need a car to get back and forth to work to earn an income to help you survive. But you want that car to be a Porsche or a Cadillac—even though a Volkswagen or a Chevrolet will do.

When it comes right down to it, all you need to survive is nutritious food and water, competent health care, clothes, shelter, and an income to help you acquire those things. Desiring anything beyond the basic version of those things transforms the need into a want.

Mind the Questions You Ask

Marketers routinely plant thoughts in our heads to elevate wants into needs.

“Why throw good money after bad? Rather than fixing that toaster, just get a new one with more modern features.” (Because it will cost more.)

“Why settle for a HDTV, when Ultra HDTV is coming soon and will make HDTV obsolete?” (It doesn’t.)

“I’m already spending $20,000 to get the car, why not spend another thousand to get it in silver?” (Even though white is included in the base price.)

Succumbing to these rationalizations inevitably cause us to spend more money than we really should, just to satisfy an artificial “need”.

Stop and Take a Good Look

Getting caught up in delusional “needs” is very easy to do. In order to break the cycle, we have to step back, take a look at what we have and realize it’s so much better than good enough. When our brains convince us, we need something outside of our price range, we tend to focus on that thing to the detriment of the similar item we already have.

If we aren’t careful, this desire can become an obsession, rendering us incapable of appreciating the things we already own. This can push us to a relentless pursuit of “new and better.” In a society like ours, it’s all too easy to convince ourselves we’re being deprived, when the fact of the matter is we’re light-years away from deprivation.

Breaking the Cycle

With all of that said though, how much fun would life be if we just fulfilled our needs and never indulged our wants?

Pretty dull—right?

Maybe, but we must also be careful to avoid overindulging.

This is one of the reasons most Americans are in debt. To break the cycle, stop living from paycheck to paycheck and get out of debt, taking note of these impulses is a good first step.

Meanwhile, if the situation has progressed past your ability to make ends meet, it might be useful to contract the services of a company like Freedom Debt Relief. Firms like this can help you reduce your debts to a more manageable level, so you can pay them off and get back on solid financial footing.

Keep in mind; nobody’s saying you shouldn’t have nice things. We’re put on this earth to thrive, not merely to survive. However, learning to distinguish your wants from your needs will make it easier to enjoy those wants when you get them. Otherwise, you’ll always be seeking the next new thing, when the reality is what you already have is good enough.

Focusing On Bigger Things: Firing Your Business to Success

The biggest obstacle that holds back most enterprises from hitting the anticipated success is the inability to focus big.

Well, it is a bridge that can be frightening, but you need to cross it to succeed in business. It is time to stop focusing on small things and engage the gear towards the big things. Therefore, how do you focus on the bigger things?

Go for business coaching

Though you might have a great business idea or even started, it is the leadership skills that you have that will steer it to success. Do not feel too comfortable. This is the moment to make that great move. Business coaching is designed to help you look at the business from a different angle and craft better strategies.

Though your marketing strategy worked well and the sales are edging up. Good leadership skills leant through coaching will help to map more steps and cruise to success. Think of it this way. Beating the local competitors is not enough. You need to start competing with international firms.

Working with experts to make the big move

While it is true that your business product such as an app was only conceptualized for the local financial sector, it could bring evolution to the industry globally. All that you need is getting the right experts around you.

The professionals will help to amplify your idea and introduce another viewpoint to redefine success. The focus is on rethinking the product and positioning it at the global level.

Restructuring and working with strategic partners

When entrepreneurs think big, it can get very scaring because of the large financial implication.

Where will the money for expanding offshore come from? Your business only needs to restructure with the target to move to the next level.

For example, it is possible to hit the one million mark in sales by adopting a different marketing strategy. You could even save a lot of funds by using online marketing as opposed to the brick and mortar models such as television and billboards.

To grow abroad, things do not have to be as complicated as many people often put it. For example, you could work with strategic partners in an offshore destination before moving a business there. Do not let anything stand between your dream and the ability to achieve it.

How to Start Saving for Retirement in Your 20’s

You’ve just left university and a half just embarked on your [first] career, the last thing you want to do is think about retirement – after all, you’ll spend the next decade or so paying off your student loans.

But if you really want to pursue a sustainable life, then you’ll need to start thinking about important financial milestones including retirement. The reasons are simple, costs keep going up, careers are becoming shorter, and we are expected to live longer, more active lives. As such, here are some tips on how to start saving for retirement in your 20’s.

1. There is no Time Like the Present

You only live once but this also means that you only have one chance to be prepared for your golden years. While it is difficult to comprehend what your life will look like 50 years from now, the reality is that you need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

One way to be prepared is to start saving – now. It doesn’t matter if it is only $50 per week, every penny counts and over time that modest contribution will grow into a sum which will help secure your future.

Still not convinced? Think of it this way, if you started with zero today and were able to put away $50 per week for 35 years, you’d end up with close to $170,000 and that’s only at an interest rate of 3 percent. Now, imagine you were able to average 8 percent over the same period? Then, you’d end up with close to $600,000 – that is some serious money.

2.  Sign up for Your 401(k)

While the odds are that you won’t be working for the same company in 40 years that you are working for today, you should start participating in your 401(k) program at work. In fact, you shouldn’t just participate, you should maximize your employer’s matching contribution as this is free money.

If you are self-employed, then you should make the maximum contribution as this money will help to lower your tax bill and the contribution of the two will help your money to start working for you instead of the other way around. Beyond this, try to stay away from direct investments in stock, bonds, and mutual funds through your 401(k).

Instead, focus on putting your cash in an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). Not only will the fees be lower, but your returns will be higher over the long run. Not convinced? Then check out this retirement advice from Warren Buffett.

One last thought, don’t turn your 401(k) investments into 40-years of torture as it shouldn’t be. Instead, try to find a balance between maximizing your savings and having enough money to live sustainably. Doing so will help you to reach your retirement savings goals while giving you the money you need for life.

3.  Set up an Emergency Fund

Into every life, some rain must fall and while this might be difficult to comprehend, just look at what your parents or grandparents had to do to survive previous economic downturns. Sure, the economy is strong, but it has also been growing for nearly 10 years and as such we are probably due for a recession – even though unemployment is at a 50-year low.

It might not even be a recession which pushes you over the edge, something as simple a major car repair could through a monkey wrench into your financial plans. As such, you also want to start setting up a separate account which will serve as your “Emergency Fund”.

While this account does not need to grow to $50,000, you might want to set a goal of having at least two-to-three month’s salary available as this will help to you to overcome any setbacks which might come your way over the years.

4.  Talk to Your Parent’s About Their Plans

This is something which none of us want to do, but the reality is that there will come a point in time when you will need to have this discussion with your parents. Given how important the topic is and the fact that they are already 20 or 30 years further down the road towards retirement, there is no time like the present.

If your parents aren’t completely prepared, then the key is not to panic. In fact, they still might have options including a reverse mortgage. Granted, your parents will need to be over 62, to begin with but they should also check the eligibility for seniors as required by reverse mortgage lenders.

Keep in mind, this is not the only option for the parents, but the key is to look at what they have done to this date and then find out what their long-term plans are. While you might face some pushback, keep in mind that you might end up having to take care of them down the road and this is all the more reason to make sure they are prepared.

If not, then you might have to adjust your retirement savings plan to for the possibility of caring for your parents in the future.

The Importance of a Vision and Strategy to Reach Your Goals

One of the most satisfying moments as a human being is when you have a clear vision and a goal, and you then achieve it. It is a wholesome, addictive experience, but remarkably few people actually complete what they want to achieve.

There can be a million excuses as to why people don’t reach their goals, but, essentially, there are three reasons why people miss out. The first is that the vision is not clear enough, which is a massive problem as it’s almost impossible to find your way somewhere if you don’t know where it is in the first place. The second problem is that they don’t have a clear strategy, they might know where the place is, but they don’t route there. And the third issue – and most common – is that they may be on there way, but they don’t have any definable targets to ensure that they keep up the pace and get to where they want before it’s too late.

Your Vision

Everybody has visions. It could be scoring the winning goal in the World Cup, wooing the person of your dreams, becoming a rockstar, getting fit, or creating your own business.

The trouble is, visions are often vague and, if no action is taken, they’re nothing more than a pipedream. But that’s not to say visions are bad. On the contrary, they’re invaluable. But the important thing isn’t to merely have a vision, it is to have clear vision. The clearer the vision, the more likely you are to make it a reality.

If you’re serious about your vision, you need to think about it in such detail that it is effectively reality. Nothing should be inexplicable in your vision. How did you reach your vision? What steps did you take get there?

Detail is key, and the best way to create detail is with numbers. How much, how many, when.

Your Strategy

If you have a clear, definable vision in place, you next need a strategy. How do you make your vision a reality?

Again, just as was the case with your vision, your strategy needs to have as much detail as possible. A strategy without detail just won’t succeed.
Say, for example, you want to buy your first house. Merely imagining the house won’t land you the house. But it’s a start, as you can picture what type of house you want. So, with this image in mind, you need to calculate how much this house will cost. Let’s say it costs 500,000. Now you know the cost, you need to figure out how to get the money. Let’s say you earn 50,000 per year and can save 10,000. That means it will take you 50 long years to pay off the house, forgetting the interest. So how can you gather the money you need? Maybe you get a second job, maybe you start a business on the side. But what is important is that you start thinking about the how – and exactly how – your strategy can make your vision a reality.

A vision, goal and a strategy is the key basis for achievement, but in order to make them a reality, you need clearly defined targets.

Your Targets

Once you have a vision, and strategy to achieve it, you need to set some targets in order to keep you on track.

One major mistake that people make when they set targets is that they are too big, too vague and too distant. Ideally, your targets should impact your daily life. You should wake up with them in your mind, ready to make happen, and go to bed thinking about how the next day can go another step to achieving your overall vision.

You should see your targets as a ladder, and the only way to reach your overall goal is to go up your ladder step-by-step. Make the steps to far apart or too high and you won’t reach them, so make sure you’re comfortable with every target you set and that you fully understand how you will reach that goal. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Your targets are key to implementing your strategy, which, itself, is key to realising your goals.

The Beginner’s Way into Forex Trading

If you are new to the online forex trading world, you might be feeling overwhelmed, confused and lost. A simple search online on how to trade forex will bombard you with loads of information and tips. If you want to trade forex successfully, the first step is to take it slow; take the time to learn about the forex market and how to trade, and then step into the trading arena with confidence and the right tools to succeed.

  1. Education is Key

Many new traders simply jump right in, and within a very short space of time, they have lost their trading capital and they then walk away feeling disappointed and disillusioned. As with anything in life, if you want to succeed, you need to educate yourself and understand how the forex market works and what factors impact price movements. To build a solid trading foundation, make time to follow the financial news and get a solid understanding of the trading terms as well as the tools that you have available to trade with.

  1. Choose a Reliable Broker

In order to trade online, you need to be able to access a trading platform. To find the best forex brokers in the industry, only look at regulated brokers. In this way, you can have peace of mind that they are operating within a regulated framework monitored by the necessary authorities. Ensure that the broker offers a platform that is easy to use and take the time to check their educational resources. The more knowledge and skills you have before you start trading, the more successful you are likely to be. Check the broker’s terms and conditions and test their customer support. Remember that a forex broker is your trading partner and it is important that they offer an all-inclusive trading platform that meets your trading needs and style.

  1. Demo Trading Account

As part of educating yourself and familiarizing yourself with the forex world, start your trading activities on a demo account. Not all brokers offer this service, so selecting one that does, is highly recommended. A demo account allows you to test the trading platform and its features as well as experience trading in a live setting without the risk of losing any money. Once you feel more comfortable with the trading process and the trading tools that can finetune your analysis, you can then move to a real trading account.

  1. Automate Your Trading

Some of the best forex brokers offer automated trading. This means that you can simply copy the trades of top traders on their platform. This is an excellent way to learn trading skills and strategies and to eliminate emotional trading. Auto trading may also involve setting specific parameters before a trade will be executed. You can use auto trading as you learn the ropes of forex trading.

The first step in forex trading is education. Once you understand the market you are trading and the price movements that always occur, you will be better positioned to make the right trading decisions. Keep records of your trades and make sure to record both your successes and your failures.

The Shocking Truth About Gift Cards

Everyone loves gift cards. They’ve rapidly become a favorite way to give presents; they’re classier than cash but offer the flexibility of letting recipients pick out their own gift. Sales via gift cards surge incredible around major holidays. Here are some gift card facts that may surprise you.

Gift Cards Aren’t Just for Enormous Chains

If you thought only international corporations had the ability to create their own gift cards, think again. With many cutting-edge payment systems – the Clover POS system for example – you can brand your own gift cards and even add funds to them with the touch of a button.

Gift Cards Are Inexpensive

If you’re already partnered with a merchant payments provider, there’s a good chance incorporating the equipment needed to offer gift cards either won’t cost you a dime or will be very price-friendly – expect around $1.00-$1.50 max per card.

Gift Cards Boost Your Brand Loyalty Significantly

Many POS providers, such as Revel Systems, allow you to create custom gift card designs that show off your brand name prominently. They also help you create everything from periodic sales to special promotions, point rewards and other exciting deals customers love.

Clients Spend More When Paying With Gift Cards

Gifts stimulate people psychologically to want to spend. They willingly reach towards big ticket items. It’s rare that customers will find an item matching their card’s value perfectly, so most overspend. They don’t feel guilty about going $15-$20 or more over the limit because they view it as free money.

You Can Accept Gift Card Payments Online

Some POS systems come integrated with mobile payment options that allow you to handle all types of e-commerce and even set up your own website. When customers can shop your store without leaving the house, and pay with a gift card, it’s win-win for them and you.

Take the plunge into setting up your own gift card rewards system. Gift cards make customers happy and deliver free advertising – not to mention word-of-mouth promotion from those happy customers. The best part is that there’s only one place they can spend it: that’s right, your store.

Summer Day Trips

When summer rolls around, everyone has the same thought. What can we do? Summer is the time to enjoy time off, enjoy the weather, and enjoy going places. When you are trying to find places to go it can either be visiting family/friends, going on vacation or even just day trips for new experiences. When kids are involved you especially want to do what you can to make their summers memorable. Day trips can be perfect for this because they allow you tackle multiple locations in a short period of time making summer time buckets of fun. Below are some options of day trips that you can do with your family.

Beaches

One option for a day trip are beaches. The beach (if you are fortunate to be within driving distance to one) is always a good time and can be done in a day if planned properly. It can be a day of relaxing if you don’t have kids or a day of fun if kids are involved. Be sure to explore where you can have a homebase like a bathroom or such for you to change and rinse off before heading home. Some beaches offer chair and umbrella rentals to make the day trip planning even more easy. It will allow you to relax and enjoy reading a book, play a game on your phone, or read a magazine. You can also visit restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner before heading home.

Parks

Parks are another option for day trips. Not only are there national or state parks that can offer you a good time but you can also simply look up well known playgrounds in the driving area that are worth the trip. State parks are often a good option if you would like to hike or take in the beauty of waterfalls or landmarks. Kids often like to try out new turf and take in new playgrounds as well.

Amusement Parks

Amusements parks are also a fun option. All throughout the country you can find various forms of amusement parks, water parks, zoos, aquariums, etc. that can be fun to drive to and visit. All are different in their own way. They often offer discounts as well in the summer. Some local libraries offer discount tickets or even free tickets for you to reserve.

Shopping

There are often good shopping venues  to explore. There are a lot of outlets that are outside so you can walk around and enjoy the weather as well. There are also malls that may be worth the drive to explore on a rain day.

Take these tips to start planning your summer bucket list and have the best summer of your life!