Home Life Made Simple: Upgrading to a Wi-Fi Thermostat

When you are thinking about retirement, you have probably considered moving to a new home in a nice beach town. Or, maybe you want to stay right where you are and finally spend the time doing renovations to truly create your dream home. With all of the new gadgets on the market today, there are countless ways to update your home and make it quite an impressive, modernized place to be.

Home Life Made Simple: Upgrading to a Wi-Fi Thermostat

 

One of the latest technologies on the market for home improvement are Wi-Fi thermostats. There is nothing worse than a temperamental HVAC system—especially during the dreary winter months. If you have ever forgotten to turn on your heat when you go away for a weekend and come home to a frigid house, you know the feeling of being frustrated with your thermostat. But here comes the good news: purchasing a Wi-Fi thermostat is sure to solve all of these issues, and you will never have to worry about extreme temperatures in the home being out of your control again.

 

A Wi-Fi thermostat will connect to your home’s wireless Internet service, allowing you to control it from your tablet, mobile phone or computer by using an app. They are quickly becoming the standard for homes, appealing to all age groups for their relative cost. Buying a Wi-Fi thermostat will come with many additional advantages for your home, including:

  • Savings – Wi-Fi thermostats are said to cost you 30% less on your energy bills per year. That’s money well saved—and spent on other, much more fun retirement activities!
  • Safety – Wi-Fi thermostats allow you to set reminders and alerts when it is time to change your filter. Plus, they can tell you when there is an internal issue of some sort going on with the system, which can help you to make quick and easy repairs before the issue gets worse.
  • Convenience – Wi-Fi thermostats can also be controlled from anywhere with a mobile device, making it convenient to control your home’s temperature when you are away so your home always stays perfectly adjusted.

 

With all of these benefits, you can understand the many advantages of Wi-Fi thermostats for the sake of creating even more at-home conveniences with the help of technology during your retirement years.

 

This is another in a line of informative articles contributed to Leisure Freak by freelance writer Jackie Edwards that illustrates how easily we can do small things to improve our lives .

Now working as a full-time freelance writer, Jackie Edwards is also a busy mum of two small children. In any free time she has (which isn’t much) she likes to volunteer and do charity work and take the family greyhound Bertie for long walks.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Leisure Freak’s Fourth Anniversary – It was an Interesting year

My oh my, how time flies. It’s Leisure Freak’s Fourth Anniversary sharing all of my early retirement tips and experiences. Just when I think I have experienced all I can from this little trip I get unexpected surprises. There is always something fun and new to learn, changes in the way things are done, changes in the way I feel about things, and a lot of nonsense to deal with. I do find it all fascinating and at the same time I’m reminded how easy it is to get sucked into things I would really rather not have in my early retired leisure freak lifestyle.

Leisure Freak’s Fourth Anniversary - It was an Interesting yearLeisure Freak’s Fourth Anniversary: Observations, Surprises, & New Experiences

I started Leisure Freak because I wanted to learn how to create and administer a website. I also wanted to share my passion for early retirement, how I did it, and my twist on what I see as a realistic definition of retirement. With that I have learned a lot and continue to learn and experience new things associated to this online ride.

This past year brought some new opportunities for Leisure Freak. I was approached to enter into a Content Syndication agreement of which I accepted with The Dynamic Wealth Report. They share some of my posts with their readers. I appreciate them for reaching out to me and our relationship has been very positive.

I continue to support other bloggers and freelance writers by posting their contributed articles.

Leisure Freaks site traffic continues to slowly grow even as I find I’m spending less time trying to grow it. That’s because my interests keep expanding and there is only so much time in the day.

Life Imitating Seinfeld

Sometimes things happen and it mirrors a Seinfeld TV episode. The first time it happened to me I didn’t see it happening until I was a day or so into it. It started off slowly with an interesting proposal about the Leisure Freak site that I hadn’t contemplated before. It was an unsolicited offer from a media company to buy Leisure Freak.

At first I was intrigued by the idea. They offered a price and asked if I would be interested. I explained that I hadn’t thought about it before and needed to think about it. They sent me their terms and conditions for the sale and I asked that they give me a couple of days to get back to them. I then went through everything they sent and researched the company.

How this Intersects with a Seinfeld episode

While on a hike the next day with my bride it hit me. As part of the conditions they gain full control of all content as their property. Although Leisure Freak offers the early retirement strategies I used to pull it off, there is also a lot of personal stories and experiences. I laughed and thought this is just like when Kramer sold his life stories to Peterman for his autobiography in the Seinfeld, Van Buren Boys episode.  It later catches up to Kramer when Elaine tells him he can’t tell his life stories to his buddies anymore because they now belong to Peterman. He eventually has to beg to get them back.

I declined the offer. Some weeks later there was another unsolicited offer from a different media company. I didn’t need time to think about it and I declined their offer. I can’t say that I would never consider a like-deal in the future but now I have at least thought about what that would take.

The Constant Opportunity For Ego To Get In The Way

There are a lot of things I can do and do very well. But a lot of them are things that I really don’t care to do anymore. However, I always keep an open mind and love having the option to pursue opportunities I really want to experience or learn more about. There are always other less desired opportunities that challenge my ego. There’s the recruiter contacts with semi-interesting opportunities where ego says I can easily do that and bank big bucks. I have no problem tamping ego down for that. But over the past year something new started coming to elevate ego into my leisure freak lifestyle.

Don’t take yourself so seriously, it’s just life

As far as I am concerned ego loves us to take ourselves seriously and project that to the world. The ego challenging experiences that started was my being asked for interviews to be posted on popular personal finance related websites under the condition I reveal my full name and bio. I am flattered when approached and at first ego had the upper hand in my thinking. Who doesn’t want online name recognition? Well, in the game of retire early and often that I enjoy playing, this guy doesn’t!

I do see the value in self promotion to be successful. But I had to ask myself what it is I want in my early retirement freedom lifestyle. Would doing this be about that or simply succumbing to ego? Taming ego isn’t that hard if you have a purpose, goals, and a plan to stick to. I would rather always keep my options open for opportunities. Having a recruiter or hiring manager search my name and see that I am Leisure Freak Tommy talking about living life on my terms, employment liberation, being picky about what I do and for whom I do it would limit my opportunities. Face it, the overlords of paid opportunity prefer desperate employees. Employees willing do whatever they want them to do over someone who is financially independent and able to leverage work for pay in their favor.

I initially let ego control the conversation in my head when the first interview opportunity came. But then I soon concluded that online recognition for personal finance or notoriety associated to my full name isn’t aligned with my early retirement lifestyle goals nor is it required to meet them. I have happily and kindly declined.

And Finally,

I could go on and on talking about the past year’s Leisure Freak ride. Going forward I do plan on writing at least a couple of new posts each month where I try to share something useful to anyone interested in early retirement, working in retirement, and the way retirement can mess with your mind after decades of employment conditioning.

I do want to thank my readers for stopping by Leisure Freak. I also give a big thank you to those who share their well-wishes and insightful thoughts in post comments and email contact. Leisure Freak’s Fourth Anniversary would have not happened without your support.

Thanks again,

Tommy


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Common Money-Saving Beliefs That Are Slightly Off

There is a lot of advice about how to be financially responsible and improve your financial future. Much of that advice is delivered with broad strokes as absolutes. However, some money-saving beliefs overlook the fact that there are no absolutes. Missing that may end up hurting you in your savings goals and quest for financial betterment. The broad stroke money advice isn’t wrong, it’s just incomplete. It’s also easier to believe and maneuver through time-tested money rules that are black and white. The gray area money rules takes a bit more discipline. As with any gray area it takes awareness and a more strategic approach to stay on the right financial track.

Common Money Saving Beliefs That Are Slightly Off

Money-Saving Beliefs That Need Clarification

Avoid Debt At All Cost

While it is true that debt can kill financial goals it is actually a necessary evil. Responsible debt practices will help you save more money. The trick is to use debt to your advantage and never succumb to it’s easy access allure. Smart debt use is harder to explain so debt avoidance is preached and solidly part of our money-saving beliefs. Here is why smart debt is important to us.

The Importance of Having a Good Credit Score

Everyone knows having a bad credit score due to poor payment practices and having too much debt is bad news. It will cost you, but so will having no credit score. You have to borrow and establish good payment habits to create a decent credit score that will save you money. Not only for securing a lower interest rate for any needed debt but it’s important for many other things that touch our lives.

  • Insurance –  Auto insurance and property insurance companies generally offer lower rates to clients with a good credit score.
  • Rent – Having a bad or nonexistent credit score may result in having to pay a higher deposit amount or being rejected.
  • Jobs – Many employers run security checks for new and existing employees. Part of the check may include credit scores.
  • Rewards – Many credit cards now offer rewards in cash or travel points to use their credit cards. Having debt discipline can actually pay you to responsibly use a debt instrument to buy what you need to buy anyway. In the absence of any other debt, using a credit card and paying the balance off every month will help your credit score.
Debt Associated To Income Producing Assets

Debt can be used effectively to generate income. I’m not talking about borrowing a bunch of money to make risky investments like bitcoin. Think something far more traditional.

  • Rental Property – Debt leveraged by income producing rental properties is an effective money producing strategy for real estate savvy investors.
  • Business Loans – Many profitable businesses can responsibly utilize debt to grow their business.

Always Shop For The Lowest Price

Looking for deals to save money on anything we need to buy is sound advice. But it shouldn’t be the only factor used in our purchases. Quality must also be considered for our purchase.

  • Online Purchases – Everyone enjoys a good online deal. But the posted price is only one part of the equation. There may be shipping costs and even if there isn’t with the purchase there can be shipping costs on returns for a defective, non-fitting, or misrepresented products.
  • Reliability – Paying a bit more for quality saves money in the long run. Costs to repair or replace cheap priced cheaply made items can add up. Always include some product quality research before buying.

Don’t Rent, Buy A Home

It is easily the first money lesson I was taught. Renting is paying to increase someone else’s net worth so buy your own home. Home ownership has always been touted as the main path to the middle class. Although this financial advice is true, this money-saving belief is not absolute. There are situations where buying your home may not be in your financial best interest.

There are many benefits to owning your own home. Bought right, you have an appreciating asset and a hedge on inflation. Rent is always going up. However, there are many considerations that must come with this money-saving belief.

Here are some of the home ownership money-saving pitfalls to be aware of:
  • Buying More Home Than You Really Need – Just because the mortgage company says you can afford it doesn’t mean it will be smart debt use. A larger home can be sold later to downsize but while you live in it you pay higher utilities, higher property taxes, and have a lot more to maintain.
  • Overlooking Mandatory Additional Costs – It’s easy to do a rent vs buy cost analysis on a property based on sales price and your likely loan interest rate. However, don’t forget to also include any HOA fees. These can be already high and/or climb even higher over time. In some extreme cases they may surpass your mortgage payment amount. Aside from HOA fees also consider insurance costs. With all the wildfires, storm damage from wind or hail, and flooding of late, insurance rates may be very high depending on where you buy your home. These are things often missed in rent vs buy calculations.
  • Maintenance – Every property will require maintenance and needs to be budgeted for. If you have to hire most or all of that maintenance out then that is another high cost that must be considered.
  • Mobility/Staying Put – In normal real estate markets, people who don’t stay in one place  for at least 5 years may at best end up breaking-even when it comes time to move. Real estate sales cost and a less than stellar real estate appreciating market can cost you much. If your relocation is job related and your home doesn’t sell quickly you can be left making payments on an unused and empty home. Real estate doesn’t always go up. There will be cycles as with any investment. Reasons for depressed real estate gains is not only tied to economic trends but also location specific dynamics.
Should The Money-Saving Belief  Be Considered a Yes, Maybe, or No?

These are just a few common money-saving beliefs that are slightly off if they are not fully clarified. Any broad stroke advice is a starting point. It is the money rule that easily gets our attention. Then as with anything, we need to slow down and look at all the variables. We have to research the money-saving advice and then wisely use it. A lot of money-saving beliefs are more a “maybe” than an “always” situation.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Is The Million Dollar Barrier Keeping You From Early Retirement?

 

It seems to be widely accepted that it takes at least a million dollars to afford early retirement. But is saving that much money really necessary? The million dollar barrier is something that most people can’t overcome to achieve their early retirement dream. Maybe it’s time to just stop chasing other people’s numbers. This million dollar thinking gets its traction from the often repeated safe withdrawal rate of 3% to 4%. With this safe withdrawal strategy, depending on the percentage one settles on, a million dollars would allow for $30,000 to $40,000 a year in inflation adjusted retirement income. Not to live a wealthy lifestyle but an amount many feel they could manage a decent life with.

Having a million dollar portfolio is definitely excellent guidance to follow if you have the income and time to hit it. It sure makes early retirement a lot easier to call and hats off to those who do. But generalized guidance or consensus about a minimum early retirement savings number doesn’t fit everyone’s situation. People have unique variables that should drive their early retirement savings target.

I retired early at the age of 51 with far less than a million dollars after 31 years of honoring my end of the career-driven devil’s bargain in the corporate world. What I did was look past the million dollar barrier. I took a hard look at what early retirement really is and what it would take to have it.

Is The Million Dollar Barrier Keeping You From Early Retirement?

Bypassing The Early Retirement Million Dollar Barrier

Early retirement still takes saving a considerable percentage of your income to achieve. For the working class there is only one way to early retirement. It’s the same advise every early retirement enthusiast preaches.

Make as much money as you can

You can make more money to amp up your early retirement plan in a couple of ways.

  • Dive deep into the devil’s bargain working overtime or increasing your skills and then killing business objectives to climb the career ladder.
  • Leverage your skills to jump somewhere else that pays much more.
  • Work a second job.
  • Start a paying side hustle.
Cut your spending

Not just a little, but in a big way. Embrace frugal living and a happiness focused lifestyle instead of the stuff-ownership lifestyle of a consumerist world. Take it as far as you can without feeling you’re living a deprived life. A sustainable budget and happy lifestyle is the long-view goal.

Be debt-free

Killing debt is a must. Even better if you can also pay off your mortgage. Any debt that isn’t associated to income producing rental properties needs to disappear. Not only does vanquishing your debt for all time free-up more money while you are working to save for retirement, but it also reduces your lifestyle cost. This then reduces the amount you will need for financial support in retirement.

Become a super saver

Saving 10% to 15% of your income for retirement is an awesome start. It’s especially a great percentage when paying off all your debt. But once debt is dead you have to put on the cape and go full super saver. This is the only way to build any sizable portfolio before you are age 65 or older. It will take having a strategic retirement savings plan and investing wisely.   

Get your healthcare figured out

Most importantly stay healthy. Healthcare cost is a bear to deal with outside of work. If you have a retirement healthcare benefit at your or your spouse’s employer then do what you have to in order to secure that benefit. Others who have successfully lowered their lifestyle costs should get to know the ACA healthcare subsidy thresholds and use them. If “THEY” finally kill the ACA or your taxable income is above subsidy earnings thresholds then use a healthcare broker like eHealth to find the best rate. Don’t forget to plan for possible long-term care down the road.  

The Big Problem With The Common Early Retirement Advice

For most people, doing all the above may never result in a million dollar early retirement portfolio.

Most of us don’t make enough to save enough in dollars to hit the million dollar mark before we are well into our 60s. Especially if we didn’t start aggressively saving in our 20s. I never had a 6 figure salary while saving for my early retirement. I saved throughout my career but like most people it was a huge achievement just to hit the yearly 401K maximum contribution amount. Even with putting in herculean savings efforts, the most I could save was about $20,000 a year until the last few years of my career where it was around $30,000. That was 50% of my take-home pay.

Life, kids, all the stuff we do to financially to cover raising a family and making a life has costs. Even with a frugal lifestyle, without having a huge salary it’s tough to support saving enough in dollar amounts to hit a million dollars.

Obviously time matters.

The sooner you invest the easier it is to save a large amount of money, as compounding interests and gains dramatically adds up. My earlier 401K contributions, although smaller, really increased. But it is all relative to how much is there in a dollar amount to grow. Saving 30% to 50% of your income is impressive, but not so much when comparing your saved dollar amount to the million dollar mark. My $20,000 to $30,000 sure wasn’t.

Even if there had been an impressive uninterrupted 8% return for each year (there wasn’t) my yearly contributions would each take 9 years to double. After aggressively saving for the last 10 years of my career I didn’t want to stay in the rat race another 9 or 10 years to break through the million dollar barrier. The math towards a million dollar portfolio only works if you can contribute and invest high dollar amounts over lots of time.

Shift Your Early Retirement Thinking

If you have the time and income to save a million dollars or more then that’s awesome. By all means go for it. But that’s a tall order for most of the financially responsible working class. Early retirement needs to take a different mental and financial approach. It also takes honesty with ourselves and what’s really going on in the early retirement game.

First off, all the standard early retirement advice mentioned above is a must. The budgeting, debt elimination, super saving, all of it. The shift comes in the million dollar or more portfolio thinking. Here’s the million dollar barrier busting approach I took.

Cost of Lifestyle Dictates Retirement Savings Needed, Not The Million Dollar Consensus

Your retirement lifestyle cost is the key to early retirement. The lower your cost the less your required portfolio total will be. The quick and dirty calculation based on the 4% withdrawal rate is to take your yearly lifestyle budget amount and multiply it by 25. When I did that the result was close to a million dollars and my portfolio was short. Yet when running my savings total against my funding needs in the awesome FireCalc retirement calculator I came in with a 100% success result.

I ran it to age 90 and included the amount from my full retirement age Social Security estimate. I even reduced that estimate by 20% just in case they cut payments. Why did I included Social Security? Social Security is the country’s workforce mandatory retirement account. We were forced to pay into it for decades with the promise it would be there to help pay for our retirement. I count it because I played by their rules and yes, I do expect it.

The problem I found with the 4% rule is it assumes we take that amount with inflation adjustments each year. I take the position that it may be a more valid guideline after starting Social Security benefit payments. Without a million dollars in the bank my needed early retirement funding was closer to a 5.5% withdrawal rate. But I knew that wasn’t a static withdrawal rate throughout my long retirement. It was temporary. Many things would change over the years. There could be a mortgage payoff or downsizing our home. I took my budget amount and instead multiplied it by 20 for a closer down and dirty estimate. Then I ran my assumptions through FireCalc.

Retirement is the absence of needing to work, not the absence of work.

I knew that retiring young with all my go-getter energy and drive wouldn’t disappear when I walked away from the rat race. I always knew I would do what I call the “retire early and often” thing. There were things I wanted to learn and experience that would also pay me something when doing it.

I think whenever you read about successful early retirees they all have some kind of paying pursuit that they passionately engage in or occasionally take on. Some of the posted blog income of early retirement gurus is very impressive. Other early retirees clearly have self employment or freelance activities that they happily do.

Not everyone will have an appetite to work in their early retirement. It is something that needs to be calculated into an early retirement funding strategy. It has been some time since I last engaged in a paying pursuit. I will say that working in retirement is a lot more fun than working was before retirement. When something interesting comes up I will definitely consider it. Keeping an open mind to the possibility goes a long way to realizing you probably won’t need a million dollars before you can retire early.

With my first early retirement I took 5 months off to decompress and celebrate. Then I did just as I always believed and planned on doing. I started my first opportunity of interest and passion, followed by an encore career, and a couple of early retirement side hustle gigs before retiring again. I used my earned income to payoff my mortgage which lowered my lifestyle cost and increased my net worth. Then everything I earned went right back into my portfolio. This again helped reduce my overall withdrawal rate from what started as my non-million dollar portfolio.

Reducing Your Portfolio Target Amount

A million dollar or more portfolio may be needed depending on your lifestyle cost. That may be more dictated by where you live than by your frugality skills. I live in a high-cost/high-income county of Colorado. It is close to our children and their families. Had we bought a more expensive home we wouldn’t have been able to pay it down low enough to still retire early. I didn’t have to make the decision about moving to a lower cost house or location to reduce my lifestyle cost. However, that is something that is on the table if reducing cost is necessary in the future.

I have also found that we have trimmed even more cost from our budget since retiring early. We constantly reassess our happiness focused lifestyle. That and we have the time to look for better deals.

Last Words

By all means, if you can do it, go ahead and set a million dollar goal. I obviously have different views regarding early retirement and bypassing the million dollar barrier. It has worked for me but I am sure that some will question my reasoning.

  • Risky? I suppose, but so is early retirement. Traditionalist and early retirement naysayers will say so, but it was all calculated.
  • Worth it? No question about it, YES!

Obviously it goes without saying – What worked for me isn’t guaranteed to work for everyone else. We are all bound to the economy and market volatility so a wise investment strategy is paramount.

Hopefully describing the way I approached conquering the million dollar barrier will give you ideas of how you can craft your own successful early retirement strategy.

As to my portfolio health today – Overall up about 25% since my first early retirement and now at a 3.8% withdrawal rate. I’m still 7 years away from my Social Security. Maybe I gambled going against the million dollar consensus, but it sure has paid off. I have enjoyed my time in employment liberation and time is something that we can spend and invest but can’t get back once passed.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Money Worries When It Comes To Retirement? Essential Steps To Ease The Stress

For many, the dream of an early retirement is what keeps us getting through the daily grind and the routine of work. When an end is in sight, it can make things seem much easier to deal with while still enduring the rat race. But when on the long road toward retirement for an unknown amount of time, it can be a long process and each day can drag on. If you are reaching a certain age then you’re likely to be checking out your pension and/or retirement savings pot to see when you might be able to retire. This can cause money worries when it comes to retirement.

If your dream is retiring and enjoying plenty of vacations on cruise ships and other travels, then you’ll want to retire with a good amount of money in the pot. But if that all seems a little far off because you haven’t seriously started to prepare financially and you won’t be able to retire for a while, let alone on any cruise ships, then don’t stress and despair. With some good planning, it can still happen. Making your personal finances and eventual retirement a priority in your life will help make a big difference in your retirement stress level.

Money Worries When It Comes To Retirement

Photo Credit www.aag.com

Easing Stress About Money Worries When It Comes To Retirement – What To Do

Use Your Employer To Save

It isn’t surprising to hear that those that enjoy their retirement and have less money worries, are those that have earned a good pension and/or contributed to retirement accounts with their employers. So if you are already contributing to your employer’s pension scheme, then that is a really good way to go. When they match what you are paying in, then it can make a big difference, much like the fed retirement scheme that government employees pay into.

Participating in your employer’s retirement scheme is the easiest way to save a large amount of money for your retirement. I can speak from experience because that is exactly the way I was able to retire early. If you are yet to pay into an employer’s pension, 401K, or other retirement scheme, then it is certainly something that is worth looking into and the sooner you do the better. It is never too late to start. That’s because doing it is always going to be better than doing nothing no matter how late you start. If you are already participating in your employer’s retirement scheme, then try to do whatever you can to increase the amount you contribute. Utilizing your employer’s retirement scheme is a great way to save and plan for YOUR future.

Non-Employer Associated Retirement Savings

Not every employer offers a retirement scheme for their employees. Seeking other ways to save for retirement is very important. Even if your employer does offer a retirement scheme, it is still a good idea to also save money for your retirement in non-employer based retirement accounts. It can start by setting money aside in an interest paying savings account. Then strategically use your savings to invest in low-cost funds. Consider using any of the low fee brokerages like Ally, Ameritrade, Vanguard and Fidelity. Use tax-preferential retirement accounts like IRA and Roth IRAs. Once again, saving anything is better than saving nothing for YOUR retirement.

Budget Well

Setting and living on a smart budget packs a one-two punch. The less you spend in your lifestyle will free up more income to put away for retirement. But budgeting doesn’t end once reaching retirement. It also must be part of your retirement planning. The lower your smart budget lifestyle is, the less you will need saved to pay for your retirement. Budgeting-well makes your target retirement savings amount easier to hit.

If you’re nearing retirement, it can be a good idea to look at what income you will have coming in. Think about how it is going to be spread out over your years in retirement. To start with, you are likely to have higher spending needs earlier on. Things like trips, vacations, and family gatherings will likely feature quite high. But as you get older in your retirement, you’re less likely to be spending as much doing those kinds of things. You’ll still be fairly active, but most likely living differently. As you age, money spending activities will most likely decrease. Other areas may remain flat or increase as in the case of health care. So look at what you’ll have and plan accordingly in your long-view retirement budget.

Ease into Retirement

From being someone who has worked for almost all of your life, going from being busy to suddenly not working can be a big step financially, socially, and emotionally. So for many people, it can be a good idea to ease into retirement. Working part-time with your current employer, or even looking for a more relaxed part-time role can be a good way to still be getting paid, staying socially connected, and getting you used to a little more enjoyable leisure time in your life. This kind of phased retirement approach will reduce pressure on your retirement savings and help lessen financial stress.  

Downsize Your Home

If worries about mortgage or renting are going to be bothering you, then why not consider moving to a cheaper property or even to a cheaper part of the country or world? When you don’t have to be stressing about paying a mortgage or high rent, then it can both ease your retirement financial stress and make your money go much further through your retirement.

 

Everyone eventually retires, on their terms or not. A little retirement planning ahead of that time and taking positive action will help reduce retirement worries and stress. Anything you do to improve your retirement finances is a win!


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Your Guide To Buying A Profitable Business & Retiring Early In 2018

Buying A Profitable Business

Looking for ways to make an easy early retirement? Perhaps buying up a business is a more feasible way to make your dreams come true? After all, starting from the very beginning and becoming an entrepreneur now may not fit in with your life plans.

With the help of the internet and online tools, business ownership is not as complicated as it once was.  You can quite easily get your hands on a good business that’s already turning a tidy profit, and tune it up to make even more.

Investing in ready business equity means cutting out the expensive build phase entirely, but you will need some capital in order to get started.  Doing it the smart way means spending a little now, in order to make a lot more in the future.

To ensure you’re stepping into something profitable, there will be plenty of balances and checks you’ll need to complete before running to the bank. Here are some essential considerations for anyone looking to buy a business in 2018.

Spotting a profitable business

What does a profitable business look like? Funnily enough, it might not be one that looks like it’s raking in the cash. Don’t be fooled by a busy shop-floor or a popular Facebook Page — profitability is all about number crunching.

Things like distribution networks, equity, and market demand will dictate how much money you can expect to actually take home. Depending on your investment and retirement plans, you may need to shift focus based on how much ready equity and cash there is in the business right now .Profitability is all about managing business outgoings and cash flow, and ensuring that at its heart the business is balanced.

Speaking to the business seller and their financial team should give you a good idea of how things are currently doing. Look out for any potential warning flags like employees on little or no salaries, a high commission structure, low profits, or a dwindling business on a steady decline. (If you believe in the product or service and have the right skills, you could turn an ailing business around. But don’t count on it).

Note: A lot of high turnover businesses aren’t that profitable, and you need profits in order to take assets and cash out of the business. Make sure you understand the business balance sheet well enough to be able to make a sound judgement call.

Your Guide To Buying A Profitable Business & Retiring Early In 2018Check in with market demand

Market projections can be deeply flawed once taken out of the ‘lab’, but that doesn’t mean

that you shouldn’t at least try to gauge what’s happening out there right now. From industry reports to keyword research, even a cursory glance can help fill in some data blanks.

Google Trends offers some useful, if basic, data. Social media is a good place to find potential customer communities and influencers who will be able to tell you more about the scene on the ground. Even an internet business will benefit from having a clear understanding of the local landscape, so don’t dismiss local knowledge and developments. It all helps paint a more accurate picture of the current marketplace and landscape.

At the same time, demand can ebb and flow, and many ‘dead’ niches are still generating people a ton of profit. You will often hear people advising you to invest in evergreen, rather than seasonal businesses; but there is something to be said for jumping on a current bandwagon and riding it for all its worth. Products or services that are hitting the headlines right now can help give your business a much-needed boost.

The strongest position to be in is one where you have exclusive rights to a market, or you have a unique product or service. But that’s also a potentially vulnerable position, as others will be eyeing you up and attempting to copy what you’re doing….

Buy into a passion, or make it yours

Passion businesses can be risky, but a passionate group of customers is a surefire way to make a lot of money fast and make a profitable exit from your business.

Buying into a business that’s a passion for a large group of people is a fruitful endeavor, but with passion also comes challenges. Customers will be picky and you may have to invest time and money into community management in order to balance sales with customer experience.

From a business owner perspective, the more you like and care about what you do and what you’re selling, the better. It will keep you engaged with the business, and will ensure that you keep coming up with ideas to drive the business forwards.

Mark Cuban has gone on the record to say that following your passion into business is not a good idea, and that you should follow your effort instead. There is definitely something to be said for that attitude. A pet project won’t always easily turn into a profitable business.

Where to find businesses to buy

There are plenty of different ways to find businesses for sale — both online and offline.

Other people who are retiring are actually a good demographic to buy from. It often means the business is doing well, and they just need a new challenge or want to slow down their pace of life.

  • There are sites for sale on Ebay, as well as specialist website marketplaces
  • Social media groups and reddit threads are good places to go as sellers often advertise on there
  • Traditional business brokers who buy and sell businesses will work on commission, but they can help you save time
  • There are many offline places in the community like groups and noticeboards where people advertise businesses for sale
  • Reach out and put some feelers out there — if you let people know that you are looking, you will attract sellers.

Developing a business further

If you buy a business, you should definitely be thinking of ways that you can increase and improve scope.

Whether you widen the product lines, bring down overheads, improve margins, or re-launch the brand — it’s a good idea to have a few different developmental ideas up your sleeve. After all, there is always room for improvement!

Buying an ecommerce business is probably one of the easiest ways to buy a business and make it more profitable within the space of about 3-6 months. Often all that is needed is some better marketing and targeting in order to increase sales figures. If the ecommerce business is already making sales, you know you’ve got a product that works.

It’s advisable to stay away from a business that doesn’t really have a strong product offering at its core. Otherwise, you will just be buying a domain name and a logo, and an ecommerce business should be more than that.

Bootstrap or die

The best way to grow a business is to adopt the bootstrap mentality. Don’t go and needlessly invest in all the latest tools and tech, advertising, expensive consultants etc.

Even if you are in a hurry to turn the business around, you need to make sure that the business builds up its own cash so that you aren’t having to reach into your own pockets for everything.

Here are some ways to ensure profitability:
  • Hire slow, fire fast. Look at remote working and freelancers before bringing experts in-house
  • Know your business figures and get financial help if you aren’t good with numbers
  • Sort out your sales pipeline or customer journey — all businesses need a steady stream of prospects, and many make the mistake of trying to implement changes when it’s already too late
  • Be on the constant lookout for ways to drive down business overheads.

Reinvest for growth

Whether you are looking to sell the business on, or you want to keep drawing a healthy income for the foreseeable future, make sure that company profits are reinvested in the right things. Equity, assets, product development, marketing — invest in the things that will contribute to growth.

Multiple businesses, franchising, or a multichannel sales approach may work best for you. Don’t dilute your efforts too much, but having multiple profitable projects or businesses on the go is obviously a good thing! Opening up the business to partnerships is also a great way to make the most of running the business in a short space of time.

Buy a business that you 100% believe in and that has good profit potential. As a first-time buyer, don’t pay over the odds. Starting with a more modest investment may be the way forward — it’s certainly safer from a financial perspective.

    

This is article was contributed to Leisure Freak by the very talented Victoria Greene.

Victoria Greene: Writer & Digital Marketing Specialist

Now that I’m freelance, I love spending my days writing, learning more about digital investments, and sharing my tips with fellow entrepreneurs. I live for digital and am always on the lookout for the next big thing.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Lower What You Pay for Life Insurance Regardless of Your Health

Hopefully, you signed up for a life insurance policy at a young age and in prime health, thus securing a low premium. If you missed this window, don’t fret. Even those with chronic health conditions can take some steps to reduce their payments. For example, working to manage a health condition — whether you’re trying new types of exercise, dropping bad habits such as drinking or smoking, or consulting with a doctor about other medications you could be taking — can reduce the cost of monthly premiums.

In addition to lifestyle changes, take a closer look at your current policy with some help from professionals like at Health IQ. For example, riders are typically added to policies. Many people, however, can do without the extra coverage that riders provide. Re-evaluate your policy and remove unnecessary riders to lower your payout. Also keep in mind that you don’t want the longest term period you can find. Your health will change as you age — which is something insurers account for. A longer policy increases the risk that the company takes on in insuring you, so you’ll deal with a more expensive policy.

The above situations are only a few brief examples. From driving more defensively to securing a rate when you’re young and switching to annual payments, you can consider many factors to reduce the cost of life insurance. Meet with an insurance agent, but do some homework beforehand. Take a short quiz on costs to learn about other ways to decrease what you pay for life insurance.

Thank you Health IQ for sharing this knowledge quiz with Leisure Freak readers.

About The Quiz Provider / Insurance Company- Health IQ

Health IQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world by celebrating the health conscious through financial rewards. Health IQ delivers better rates and underwriting, and was recently featured in sites such as CNBC, Venturebeat, and TechCrunch.  and partners with top-rated insurance carriers such as SBLI, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Assurity Life Insurance Company, and reinsurer partner Swiss Re to offer health conscious people between 4 and 33 percent lower rates on life insurance. Founded in 2013 by a team of health conscious entrepreneurs, the company is a licensed life insurance company in all 50 states and has helped tens of thousands of individuals secure a total of $5.3 billion in insurance coverage.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

The Fixes You Need When Retirement Goes Wrong

So, you’ve got your retirement plan all done and dusted and you’ve managed to save up a nice sum of savings that should help you get by once you do retire. And all of those preparations means that your upcoming retirement will be plain sailing, right? Well, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. When retirement goes wrong you need to take action. There are a few issues that some people face once they retire, some of which they might not have entirely bargained for. For instance, their savings might not last quite as long as they had hoped or they might end up getting in some medical complications which could dramatically increase their monthly outgoings. 

To ensure that you can continue to enjoy financial security well into your retirement, it’s a good idea to have some fixes up your sleeve that you can use to solve any problems that look set to ruin things.

The Fixes You Need When Retirement Goes Wrong

Credit

Maximize Savings Now

There is no better fix than prevention to make sure that your retirement isn’t turned upside down by any problems that might raise their head well into your retirement. But maximizing your savings doesn’t just mean that you need to start saving more – there are ways that you can help your current pot of savings to continue growing, even once you are retired. For instance, you should consider putting your retirement cash bucket in a high-interest savings account as they will accumulate a lot of extra interest over the years. Be sure to diversify your non-cash investments with allocation ratios aligned with your risk tolerance and long-term retirement funding plans.

Know How To Fix Your Credit

Just because you are retired doesn’t mean that your credit rating is safe. In fact, it could be a lot more at risk as you will no longer have a regular income from a full-time job. In the event that you do need to take out any extra financing or loans during retirement, you might find that it is a lot harder to secure some cash. But there are ways to ease the process, such as going through a credit repair company or financial advisor. These experts will be able to give you plenty of tips to ensure that your loan or finance application looks attractive to potential lenders.

The Fixes You Need When Retirement Goes Wrong 2

Credit

Be Prepared To Return To Work

If your retirement finances really do start to look bad, you might need to return to work. Unfortunately, for those who never before considered a retirement job, this is something that cannot be sidestepped. When retirement finances go south, going back to work and earning again is the only real way to secure a regular income. So, as long as you are fit and healthy in retirement, you can have peace of mind that returning to work is always an option if you ever struggle to get by. Just stay curious in retirement learning new things to stay relevant. Aside to doing all you can to be healthy, you should also keep up the skills you already have to keep working in retirement as a valuable option.

Consider Releasing Your Equity

If you own your house outright then you will have a large sum of money tied up in it. This is known as equity. You can release some or all of the equity and get a sum of money by remortgaging your home. This is something that a few retired couples do if they ever need any extra cash. Just be strategic about it as this may also increase your monthly outgoings. You can always reap the equity in other things you own by selling non-essential items like second cars and any other property of value.

 

Hopefully, these fixes will help you think about ways out of any tricky financial situation that may come up during your retirement.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

How Planning Ahead Can Save You Money

Birthdays, nights out, and vacations can be expensive, and threaten your budget. If you would like to maintain your financial health, and get more value for your money, it is a good idea to plan ahead and secure the best prices and discounts available in the market. Below you will read some of the tips on how to make your money go further; whether you are planning a vacation, a romantic dinner, a day out with the kids, or if you’re my age, spoiling the grand-kids.

Use Discount Code Sites

Planning Ahead Can Save You Money

Image by Goodfellow Air Force Base

You could shop around to get a discount on your flights, cruises, restaurant bookings, or even hotels if you start your search early. There are several last-minute travel sites and voucher code pages on the internet that offer great savings for customers. You don’t have to sign up for each of them, as you might be overwhelmed by the number of promotional emails you receive. Instead, you could simply search for your destination or restaurant on the site.

Book Your Transportation Early

You can save a lot of money on travel and transportation if you book your flights, taxis, or train tickets early. Check out https://www.rydely.com/ for travel voucher and discount codes. You can even get a family travel card or book your parking in advance to save money. If you already know the dates of your travel or night out, you can put everything in place on time, instead of making last-minute reservations.

Take Advantage of Young Person’s or Senior Discounts

You are likely to find young people’s, family, and senior discounts offered by restaurants, bars, and event organizers. You can cut the cost of your travel by making sure that you don’t pay more than you have to. Choose the right package and type of ticket, and check out the different offers. Some restaurants have happy hours for seniors or couples a few days a week, and this will help you save money.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

How Planning Ahead Can Save You Money

Sometimes, you will be offered services you don’t need. If you are traveling by air, companies might add insurance to your booking that you already have through another company. Before you book cheap flights online, make sure you need the guarantees and services that are added to your account, or you will end up paying more than necessary. Getting a meal on board can be expensive, and if you have a meal before and after the flight or pack snacks, you can save hundreds of dollars per family.

Eliminate Credit Card Fees

Whenever you book a table online or order your tickets for events, look out for credit card  charges. While it is a good idea to make a vacation booking using your credit card, as it is easier to claim money back, you don’t want to pay extra for this convenience. Check out the terms and conditions before you complete your booking.

 

Whenever you are planning a night out or a vacation with your family, you should compare prices and get all the information to avoid paying more than you have to.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

4 Simple Tips for Protecting Seniors from Indoor Air Pollution

Did you know that your efforts to keep cold or hot air out of your house are trapping air pollutants in? Houses these days are constructed so tightly that they lack the natural ventilation of yesteryear. The cleaning products, building products, pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, and other pollutants can have harsh effects on seniors with compromised immune systems. Fortunately, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Protecting Seniors from Indoor Air Pollution

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Protecting Seniors from Indoor Air Pollution

Monitor and Test

Install carbon monoxide detectors and test your home for radon. Radon is a byproduct of decaying uranium that is naturally found in some soil. It is invisible and odorless. However, it can lead to serious illness if it finds its way into your home. Test kits are fairly affordable so you can conduct the test yourself. Many of the tests involve you sampling the air in your house. You then send the sample to a laboratory to get the results. There are several ways to block the entry of radon into your home.

Similarly, carbon monoxide can also cause you harm, and you cannot see or smell it. CO is a combustion byproduct, and it comes from gas-fired water heaters, space-heating equipment, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, and several other in-home sources. Make sure the areas where this equipment operates are well-ventilated.

Choose Products that Don’t Pollute

Fumes that can be harmful to seniors are produced by building products, solvents, cleaning products, adhesives, and some plants. Therefore, you should choose low-VOC (volatile organic compound) or low emitting products.

The evaporation point for some chemical compounds is room temperature. This causes fumes. Most of the time, VOCs are harmless. Other times, they can produce headaches, dizziness, and irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes. Serious diseases may develop after long-term exposure.

Change Your Air Conditioner and Furnace Filters

The equipment inside forced-air HVAC systems is protected from household dust by filters. You must regularly change these filters to reduce air pollution in the home. Do it at the beginning of the heating seasons, and if a central air conditioner is part of the system, change the filter at the start of the cooling season as well.

Bacteria, mold spores, and some allergens are not removed by standard filters. You will require a high-efficiency filter to take these air pollutants out of the system. The rating of the filter will tell you how efficient it is. The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) is rated on a scale of one to twenty by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Use Natural Ventilation

You can clear the air by opening doors and windows. Of course, if it is extremely cold or hot outside, you should avoid this alternative. But, at some pollution sources, you can spot ventilate. Make sure your dryer vent and bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans are working correctly. They remove moisture that could cause mold. Also, use and store solvents, adhesives, paints, and other building products in well-ventilated areas to dissipate the harmful fumes they leave behind.

By taking these simple steps, you can avoid the dangers that indoor air pollution poses for older adults.

 

This Article is a contribution to Leisure Freak from the talented freelance writer Jackie Edwards.

Now working as a full-time freelance writer, Jackie Edwards is also a busy mum of two small children. In any free time she has (which isn’t much) she likes to volunteer and do charity work and take the family greyhound Bertie for long walks.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page