The Cost of Finding your Own Place

I have pretty much had my own place since I was 19, (Aside from a few months’ moving back to my parents house when a relationship ended). My younger brother however, has never had his own place, and has never felt the need to.

Yesterday, I got a call from him and he was in a bit of a state. Little bro was threatened with being kicked out of my parents place, because of his bad attitude. This ‘Bad attitude’ includes swearing, and having a bit of a temper. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot worse, and to be honest, if they hadn’t let him get away with so much when he was a kid, things would be different.

Not knowing where to begin

In any case, little bro (Who happens to be in his early 30’s, I might add), is now faced with the realization that he may actually have to move out. This has caused him quite a lot of concern as he really doesn’t know where to begin. For years my parents have done everything for him: the cook his meals, do his laundry, and buy him exactly what he wants. Now faced with the prospect of moving out, little bro really doesn’t know what to do. He has no idea what the process of moving out involves, and he certainly is unaware of the costs.

I’ve told my darling little brother that he’s going to need to save at least a few thousand dollars. This will (hopefully) cover the costs of a move, a months’ rent in advance, admin fees, and anything else that crops up. Plus, it’s likely that he’s going to need to buy a sofa, kitchen equipment, and more.

The cost of finding your own place can really mount up. I should know, I’ve moved home a lot, and I know you need money to do that.

Here’s a brief summary of the things you’ll need to pay for:

  • The first months’ rent
  • A credit check
  • Deposit
  • Admin fees

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line and you’ve got your keys, you will then have to move in. Now it’s time for you to pay for:

  • The removal firm
  • Groceries so you have something to eat as you settle in
  • Washing machine, bed, sofa, refrigerator, cooker etc
  • Gas, electricity, insurance
  • Landline costs, cell phone rental
  • Clothing
  • More groceries
  • and more

Trust me, I’m not trying to scare you, or even put you off moving out, I just want to make you aware of all the costs involved. You could be looking at paying $600+ a month if you rent a small apartment, this is before you add all of the household bills on top.

Other payments

Don’t forget you will also need to get health insurance, unless you already have it. Please make sure that if you’re named on your parents health insurance, that it’s still valid if you move out. It’s always worth getting insurance, or you may have to pay full price for detail care from Invisalign Charlotte, full health costs when you visit the doctor, and for medication too.

Moving out of your parents home can be expensive, but at the same time, it could also be the best thing you ever did.

Can you survive the proposed benefit cuts?

At the time of writing, the British government are trying to implement some benefit cuts. What this means is people who are currently on a low wage, will see their working tax credit reduced. This is terrible news as it means those who are already struggling to make ends meet, will have to struggle even more.

What I find absolutely awful about this situation, is that some well-off people who do not struggle to pay their bills, are the ones who are making this decision. The poorest people in the UK are likely to find life even tougher come April 2016. The chancellor has said that most people will benefit once the living wage is implemented, but the fact of the matter is that most people won’t actually get the living wage. This is because it’s not mandatory, which means the poorest people on the minimum wage will be badly affected.

So what can we do to make sure that when April 2016 comes, that we’re not struggling even more than we currently are? I have a few tips that could help you should the worst happen:

Save what you can

If you think you’re going to be badly affected by the proposed changes, then my advice is to save what you can. I know you may not be able to save a lot of money, but every pound helps. Even if all you can do is put £5 aside, but it aside as it could be a lifeline next year.

Think about what you can sell should you need extra cash

We never want to have to sell our things in order to be able to eat, but this is something you may need to be prepared to do. I’m not suggesting you sell your best kitchen knives or even the TV, but for now, think about those things you can easily live without.

Consider taking on more work

This may seem impossible if you’re a single parent, but with the internet readily available to most, you may want to consider doing a bit of freelance work. There are a lot of freelance websites out there that post thousands of jobs every day, and there could be something for you. Alternatively, you may want to think about getting part-time work.

Remember you can treat yourself now and again

If ‘treating yourself’ means you can enjoy a 99p pizza once a week, then do. When times are tough, you have to keep your spirits up. For me, treating myself involves buying a few second hand books from a charity shop, as there’s nothing finer than a good [cheap] book.

Stay away from branded products

When you’re food shopping, try to stay away from branded products and instead go for the shop’s own make. Sometimes the shop’s own is just as good, or occasionally better than the branded product. Reducing the cost of your grocery shop will make things easier, so make sure you go for the bargains, and make use of cheaper shop’s own products too. As you can see, there are ways to cut down on your expenses and make life a little easier. Don’t forget to ask for advice and help if you’re really starting to struggle.

Does getting older come with additional expenses?

When we look ahead to our retirement, we often think that it will be a fairly easy time. By then, we should have paid off the mortgage, the car, and perhaps any loans we have taken out. It’s likely that we also think we’ll have a lot of time on our hands, and we can fill it with whatever we want. The trouble is that life may not turn out this way, and getting older can come with additional and unforeseen expenses.


What kind of expenses am I talking about?

When I talk about people getting older, and the costs associated with it, I am referring to the potential health issues that may arise. Every single senior citizen has some sort of health concern that has come with age, and it’s this that could prove to be costly. If you or your partner become housebound or dependent on each other, you may have to fork out for durable medical equipment. On the other hand, you may also have to pay for one of you to be cared for by someone else, in an entirely different location.

Ok so not every senior citizen will have to deal with ill health in such a dramatic way, but it is best to be aware of this issue. Many people rely on their pensions to help them, they assume that they will be able to get by once they have retired, and indeed some people do. The trouble is that not everyone saves up enough money, and not everyone has the ability to.

Not knowing what the future will hold

The fact of the matter is that we just don’t know what the future will hold, but what we can do is tryto prepare for it. Even if this means setting $20 a month aside to go into your pension, it’s better than nothing.

It’s safe to say that we just don’t know what the future will hold. We may be able to get by, or we may struggle. If we start to prepare ourselves, and if we save money where we can, we may just find that things are ok.

Getting older may come with additional expenses if we need medical equipment, or even if we need to find somewhere else to live. All we can do is prepare ourselves and hope that everything turns out ok. My advice? Start saving where and when you can, so that you have a bit of extra cash when you reach retirement.

How to expand your office space without breaking your wallet


If your company is growing faster than you accounted for, you may be on the lookout for new office space. While that may be necessary for many companies, there are a few options you can consider first. This article will give you a few ideas about how to manage the problem without having to spend too much.

Expand office space

Some companies need a space to meet clients and make their pitches. It may be important for all your employees to share a common building to make the job easier. You can look for good deals to lease a larger space or put in additions- these are the traditional methods of increasing office space. You may also want to consider using module offices if you own your office building. This option allows you to put in an addition without spending too much money and without too much disruption to the workday.

Share a space

If you lease an office in a building with other companies, you may be able to find a shared workspace situation. Some businesses may have more office space than they need and may be willing to rent a portion of their space out to you. This means that you share in the burden of rent and utilities. Another advantage of this arrangement is that you can negotiate a shorter lease than you would get with a commercial landlord. This allows your company to be agile and respond better to sudden drops in workforce numbers.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Not only will these arrangements help you cut rent costs, but they can work wonders for morale as well. This will mean that you have a more happy and productive workforce. Offer to let your employees work from home if they do not absolutely need to be in the office. You can also offer shared spaces where employees can work flexible hours and share a desk or area. This is especially viable for businesses that need to be operating around the clock.

Take down those walls

If you have a suite of offices around the cubicles for mid to high level managers, you can opt for an open flooring plan instead. While you may hear some grumblings from the managers, it can work wonders for team cohesion and productivity if implemented properly. The managers will always be around their employees which will build trust and a more harmonious environment. Getting rid of large offices and their walls will also mean that a lot of floor space will open up where you can accommodate your new employees. A growing company will need team cohesion if it is to keep functioning properly and an open floor plan is a great way to achieve this.

These are just some of the options when it comes to accommodating more people on a short budget. Brainstorm with your employees and get their input before making major changes. This will mean that you will have a workforce that will bear some of the responsibility for the decision and will be happy with it.

How to Save Money on Fitness


If you keep spending money on gym memberships but never have to time to go in, it might be time to rethink your approach to fitness. There is no reason to spend a lot of money on expensive gym membership and home fitness equipment to keep fit. Here are some tips to keep your body and your wallet healthy.

Start with your diet

Along with exercise, your diet is an important factor in keeping fit. Start saving money by eating out less and cooking healthy food at home. Shift your diet to include more fruits and vegetables. Keep the portions small. Try using a small salad plate to keep the portions about the size of your fist.

Use free apps

There are many free apps available that help motivate and instruct you to keep fit. Apps can help you keep track of your calorie intake and create a personal fitness regimen that you can do at home. Additionally, there are many wearable available that keep track of every fitness indicator of your body from your heart rate to the amount of sleep you are getting.

Use online forums

Online forums are a great resource to join a community of like minded fitness enthusiasts who can motivate you and help you stay on track. Take the opportunity to ask for advice from the more experienced members and boast about your progress. There are online communities for all sorts of activities- from how to eat healthy to runner’s forums.

Get creative

You can easily exercise at home without equipment. Sit-ups, jumping jacks and stationary running are all options. If you want to do some gym activities, there are many easy ways to save money on home equipment. Look for the best stationary bike stand that you can find and convert your own bike into a stationary bike that works as well as the one at the gym.

Get outside

Join a running group and run outside. Go biking when you can. Join an amateur league in a sport that you love. All cities and towns have these group activities. It is just a matter of finding out where they meet and when. Don’t be shy. These groups are always looking for new members.

Look for deals

If you have your mind set on that expensive membership, home equipment or sports apparel, try your best to find the best deal. Sign up for newsletters and coupons that alert you to a sale. Ask your company if they offer incentives for fitness. Some healthcare plans also cover fitness expenses. Ask your insurance company.

Gyms also offer family and friends discounts in which case you may save money if you join with a friend. You should also be aware of the best time to get a gym membership. Generally, you will not be able to find a deal at the beginning of the year because gyms get flooded with new members who have resolved to get fit in the new year.

Use Free Trials and Samples

Before paying the full price for a supplement to lose weight and keep you fit an healthy, you should take a look at free trials offered by supplement companies. For example, you can get a garcinia cambogia cleanse free trial for 30 days, with free shipping and handling.

This way you get to try before you buy and make sure they they work for you and agree with your body before stumping up the cash in full.

There are many ways to save money AND get healthy, just use a bit of creative thinking to get the most for your money.

Applying for a loan when your credit score is bad

file000195499258Not everyone has a great credit score, in fact more and more people have trouble keeping their credit score just as it should be. In a perfect world, we would all have a good credit score or history, and we’d be able to get a loan as and when we needed it.

The trouble is that a lot of people are struggling as it can be hard to make ends meet, and they often take out loans that are hard to pay back, or they miss payments on their current loans.


A risk

When your credit score is bad, banks and other financial institutions tend to see you as a risk. Unless they are sure they will get the money back, they won’t lend it to you in the first place. I know this may seem quite harsh, but they do have to be careful.

Imagine if someone asked you to lend them some money, but you weren’t sure if you would ever see it again, how would you feel? Chances are that you may not be too keen to hand over the cash. The money that you’ve worked so hard to earn may end up disappearing into someone else’s pocket, when it could be in yours all the time.


What can you do?

So what can you do? How can you get a loan when you really need one? There are a few solutions that you may want to consider:

  1. Ask yourself if you really do need a loan, and whether there’s any way you can manage without one.
  2. If you find that you still need the money and you cannot manage, then perhaps asking friends or family is a good way to get the cash you need. They are unlikely to charge you interest, and arranging payment dates can make them more confident about handing over their cash.
  3. Try to work a few extra hours. Some people I know have taken on a few more hours at work, and they’ve managed this way. My friend who creates Topiary Art did an extra 5 hours a week, and that helped him to get hold of the much-needed cash.
  4. Think about selling things you don’t need or want. This is a great way for you to make some extra cash. Although you may not be able to come up with the full amount, you could well find that your bank balance is a little better.


Pay day loans

One thing I don’t want to suggest is taking out a payday loan. The interest rates on them can be phenomenal, and you could end up paying 50% more back. Some people do manage with this type of loan, but a lot of people don’t. My older took out a payday loan, and then had to apply for another as he was unable to make payments on the first loan. This is how things can spiral out of control if you’re not careful.

I think one of the best things you can do is to consider all of your options before you take out a loan. If it looks like you can get away without applying for one, you could save yourself a lot of cash in the long term.

Topiary Art

Should you pay for the services of an accountant?



I run my own business, and every year I’m asked to file my taxes. I sort out my books myself, as I don’t see the point in paying for an accountant to do it. However, my aunt runs her own business, and she pays an accountant every year, and she’s happy to continue doing that.

You may wonder why I am so averse to hiring an accountant, so I’m going to explain why:


I do my books weekly

Every time I get paid, I add the figures to my spreadsheet. This practice helps me to stay up to date with how much money the business has. I also add expenditures every time I have them too. If I need to see how well the business is doing, I just take a look at the figures, and workout the profit from there.


Accountants aren’t cheap

We all know that accountants can potentially charge a lot of money for their work. This is the main reason why I won’t hire one. I can use that money elsewhere, and I would rather not pay about $1,000 each time.


I usually have time to do my taxes

This is because I make the time to do my taxes. As soon as I know they need doing, I do them at the next available opportunity. My aunt hires Broadridge IMS to help her with other aspects of her business when her accountant wants to go over the books with her. As you can see, this means there’s a lot of expense on her behalf, but she’s happy with that.


Getting someone else to do my books is too personal

I’ve been running my own business for nearly 4 years, and it’s become quite personal. It’s something that I enjoy doing, and doing my books is a part of my job. The thought of an accountant looking at my incomings and expenditures seems a little too personal. I’m sure a lot of business owners feel this way, and can identify with this.

It’s good practice to do it myself

The very first time I took a look at my books and decided to do it all myself, it did seem a little intimidating. I had very little business experience, but I was willing to give it a go. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do the work, and it turns out that I could. I think being able to do the work that an accountant would ordinarily do is good practice. Knowing what needs to be done and when means that if I were ever to hand the reins over to someone else, I know what the job entails.


It’s entirely up to you whether you pay for the services of an accountant. I guess it depends on how mathematical you are, and how willing you are to give it a try. If you would like to make sure that everything is kept in order, and it will give have peace of mind, then perhaps hiring an accountant is the way forward


The top 10 investment tips



When it comes to the world of investing, unless you’re a seasoned professional or you’ve studied investment, chances are you’re going to find things a little difficult. The world of investment can seem a little overpowering to new comers. This is why I’ve decided to give you a few tips, to help make life a little easier for you.

Please note that the tips I give you will not guarantee great results, they will just help you along your way a little bit.

The top 10 investment tips

1 Be prepared to watch investments lower in value

This obviously isn’t something that you want to hear, but it’s something that happens to everyone who invests. There are good times, and there are bad times in the world of investment, so be prepared for them. If you don’t think you want to risk watching your investments lower in value, then you may have to re-think your decision.

2 Invest in equities rather than in savings accounts

Equities usually outperform savings accounts, so it could be worth your while seeing what is out there, and what the returns are.

3 Don’t invest all your money in one venture

If the venture, business or market you’ve invested in goes into decline, you could potentially lose all of your cash. To avoid this, spread your money out and you’re more likely to have some cash left if something bad happens.

4 Invest as soon as you can

The sooner you start to invest, the sooner you will have reached your investment goal. Put some money away and you’ll have to add less to it in order to achieve that goal.

5 Be aware of what it happening out there

Watch and listen to the news, read newspapers and keep your eye on the ball. Learn about what is happening in the world of investment so you know how the economy is doing, and how it could affect all your investments.

6 Update your will

Update your will, or write one if you don’t have one already. This will ensure that you will leave your investments to your loved ones, in the event of your death.

7 Seriously consider each of your investments

Before you invest your hard earned cash somewhere, you should seriously consider each of those investments. Just as you would look hard for the Best Cook’s Knife, a good car and even your new home, so too should you seriously consider any investment that you make. Read the fine print, ask questions and see what your instincts tell you.

8 Learn when it’s time to withdraw your money

Unless you have your cash tied up for the next 5 years, you might want to be on the lookout for those times when you need to withdraw your cash. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when you’re about to lose money, so it’s essential you keep your eye on the ball. Withdraw your money when you can (You may have to pay a penalty if you withdraw early), and invest elsewhere.

9 If you don’t want to invest just yet, don’t

Sometimes people make the mistake of investing just because they can. If you haven’t yet found somewhere good to invest your cash, don’t invest it. Wait until something better comes along.

10 Don’t believe everything you hear

You may hear some sensational news about a specific type of investment, but I wouldn’t get too excited. The media are great at exaggerating things, they do this because it sells. Don’t believe everything you hear, just assume that they might be right. Wait until you see the facts for yourself, before you do anything.


Use the above tips to help keep your money as safe as you can. Don’t expect great success, but do keep your eye out for those good money making opportunities.

The effect of free educational content

682013celebratescienceFree online educational sites are playing increasingly significant roles in classrooms and lecture theaters across the world. But what effect will this abundance of high quality, cost free educational resource have on the value of formal qualifications and the relevance of educational institutions as a whole?

It is a fundamental law of market dynamics that you cannot expect consumers to pay for something when a similar resource of the same intrinsic value is available for free. So now that it is possible to take the equivalent of a first year college economics course online in the form of short hour long videos, how long can traditional education models justify their existence?

How we fund education varies massively from country to country, state to state and even between individuals. However, these can be simplified into two discrete financial models, third party funding through the state or charities and private funding by individual consumers. Which system is morally and practically superior is the source of intense ideological debate, arguments we try to steer well clear of on the rapscallion blog! However what they both have in common is the need to adapt to the coming shift in how educational content is shared and accessed.

The rise of eLearning

Teaching sites such as Khan Academy, Duolingo and even Wikipedia were developed with the noble goal of spreading knowledge and information for free throughout the world. Now, such websites and the online courses are widely used by teachers in classrooms to support education and, in some areas, form integral parts of the curriculum.

Moreover the rise of internet leaning is not limited solely to the classroom. Vocational courses and training for a range of careers are increasingly offered online, at a fraction of the cost of conventional graduate study. The web based Evo Prep CPACE Workshop, for instance, drastically reduces the time and cost of becoming an accredited school administrator, in some cases cutting out the need for formal grad school training entirely.

But what is the net impact of this to the education market? You might think public funded education models would benefit from access to free resource and in one way you would be correct. However it raises significant questions regarding how best to streamline tax payers money. Should schools invest in smartphones and laptops for each student at the expense of teaching staff? For that matter, what is the role of conventional teachers when lessons are already neatly structured and delivered as pre-packaged online tutorials?

Privately funded tertiary education systems may seem immune as they provide accredited qualifications, which remain the currency of the labor market. But today the value of a degree certificate is even more subjective to employers than ever before. Certificates and accreditations from online sites, however informal they may be, are increasingly used to securing work and in the process devalue traditional certification.

The cost of everything but the value of nothing

In a world where the quality of education is no longer validated be the financial contribution of the tax payer or the consumer but by simply having access to a computer, laptop or smartphone we have to ask ourselves, what is the real value of learning? For those with an eye for finance, the reaction to this shift in the market will be fascinating to witness.


Risks in the financial world



The world of finance is a risky one, with almost everyone involved making decisions that could potentially help a financial institution thrive, or make it fail.

Here are a few of the risks than most financial institutions need to consider:

Funding liquidity risks

Also known as ‘Cash flow risks’ this type of risk refers to the ability to pay the businesses bills, and fund the liabilities. Being aware of these risks can help any business to determine how they are going to fare in the future.

Market liquidity risk

Also known as ‘Asset’ or ‘Product risk’, this refers to the ease of being able to easily get out of a position. If for example, the business has to be sold in order to pay its debts, it may ultimately be sold for a lot less than its true value. What’s more is that owners of an asset may also decide to exit their position at a specific market price. If this were to happen, how would it effect the financial institution in general? Would it be able to keep going?

Raising capital

It can be difficult to raise enough capital, especially if you don’t have the right kind of access to financing. Those who are trying to grow and expand their business may find it hard to do. Some financial institutions will offer growing businesses money, but they will add a lot of interest to the loan. This action can prevent the business from making enough money to become profitable.

The chance of bankruptcy

It seems that there’s a bigger chance of bankruptcy these days, thanks to the flailing economy, bad auditing procedures, and other factors. If for example a business’s account has decided to ‘Cook the books’ and make the business seem more profitable than it really is, this could spell trouble. When the deliberate errors are uncovered, shares in the business are likely to drop, and this could result in bankruptcy due to poor reputation.

What’s more is people are businesses are being more cautious with their money, and this can result in a business not performing as well as it otherwise should. Bankruptcies have become more common since the onset of the credit crunch, and businesses have had to fold.

So what can you do to minimize the risks?

Unless you know how to manage a financial institution inside out, and you also have the time to do it, then you may need help from someone else. Hiring staff can be expensive, but making use of services from companies such as Broadridge risk management can make life so much easier. If you simply don’t know the risks, or you’re unable to concentrate on them then getting someone else to do the work could well pay off.

There are so many risks in the financial world, and although they occasionally pay off, a lot of them don’t. Knowing the difference, and preparing yourself for the risks can help tremendously. What’s more if you are aware of the risks, then you’ll make more informed choices, leading to a better outcome most of the time.