Things to consider before investing your savings

Investing your savings into something can be a great move that generates an additional income, but it is also something that should be carefully evaluated.

However, there are many factors that can influence how successful your investment is in the end, so before you do anything, the best course of action is to sit down and take a look at the situation realistically.

Investing is always a risk, which means you need to be prepared for all outcomes.

To help you with all of that, here’s a short list of things you need to evaluate before making a serious financial commitment of this kind.

 

Be aware of scams

The most important thing is that you have someone you can trust helping you with your investment. 

Unfortunately, scams are not unheard of in this line of work, so do your homework and find a person who you know is going to do everything in their power to help you. 

And should you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to deal with a scam, getting help from lawyers such as the ones from Optimal Solicitors is the best move to make.

 

Have a clear plan in place

What do you want to achieve with your investment? How big do the returns have to be? What kind of risk are you willing to take? 

All of these questions have to have a clear answer before you commit. 

If you don’t have any prior experience in investing, the best thing to do is to talk to a professional and see what they tell you. 

With a clear plan, you will know exactly what to do in every situation.

 

Invest in different assets

Diversifying is vital because it protects your investment from any price plunges a market can experience. 

Sure, you may have an industry you’re familiar with, but investing all of your funds into one company’s stocks, for example, can be risky. 

By spreading your resources out, you will not be as affected by a drop. As a matter of fact, a drop in one place can result in a rise of another asset.

 

Age

Investing when you’re young and investing when you’re on the verge of retirement or even retired is not the same. 

Young people can often afford to make riskier investments and wait longer for the returns to come in. 

On the other hand, older people will probably want to find the safest investment available so that they can be sure the income they create this way will be steady.

 

Keep an emergency fund close by

Like we said, investments are often a risk, so it’s always smart to create some sort of a safety net for you if things don’t go as expected. 

Savings are the best way to do that, and you may want to have enough there to keep you going for at least several months if all else fails. 

If you lose your job or your investments come crashing down, something like this can literally save your life.

 

How To Make Your Furniture Look Antique

For many people, new furniture simply does not have that softened character we see in well-worn antique items. Fortunately, age can be faked.

With solid wood pieces you have so many interesting options that are available. Just think about wood veneers. You can buy something of a very high quality from a reputable shop like Kairos Shop and then just add the veneers. You can use paint with laminates and many other options exist. However, the following are the most common ones that can be considered.

Painting The Furniture

With paint you can add some faux age without causing physical damage. In order to get much better adhesion, you can lightly scuff the surface with the use of fine sandpaper. Then, you would have to apply paint primer. Since you are going for an antique appearance, you want to get a layered look. To achieve this, you want to paint with a minimum of 2 coats of paint, preferable in different colors. Scuff through paint layers with the use of sandpaper. Then, chip away some small areas with the use of a simple paint scraper.

You can also use crackle paint, which is a great technique. A shade is covering the furniture (even coat) and you then add a crackling medium. In the top coat we see shrinkage so cracks are produced. Then, the base coat peeks through. When you want to get the lighter antique appearance, the furniture needs to be coated with the use of off-white paint. Then, wipe darker shades like golden brown into corners, seams, and all the other recessed areas.

Staining Wood

When the wood is pale, it looks new, no matter what species it is. Even light pine ends up aging to a shade of warmer gold after a couple of years of sunlight exposure. Darker wood stains automatically imply age. When you look at antique furniture, you see a shade that is close to black. Dark tones can be enhanced with the addition of lampblack. Use a spoon and put it over an oil lamp or a lit candle. Then, collect the residue. Stir it inside stain small bits. Do this until the color is what you want to achieve.

Scarring Wood

Wood furniture is well-worn and has an imperfect surface. This happens because of years of constant wear appearing around edges. There are also accidental dings, burns, and scratches. You can mimic marks with the use of your ingenuity and imagination.

Use sandpaper to round off the sharp edges and use a simple ice pick to produce the worm holes. Heavy objects, like a thick chain, can add dents we often see in antique furniture. Then, a wood-burning tool can leave dark spots here and there.

Wood Finishes

Nowadays, polyurethane is the very common protective wood finish. The problem is that the result is not antique-like. It is patently. You need a finish that is more convincing when the furniture was stained, scarred, or even both. Go for something more suitable, like beeswax. You can warm it and blend it with some mineral oil in order to make a paste. That paste would offer a soft sheen if lightly buffed. You just need some extra buffing or new was for touch-ups. Shellac will protect furniture surface more than wax and removes the need of sanding.

For many people, new furniture simply does not have that softened character we see in well-worn antique items. Fortunately, age can be faked.

With solid wood pieces you have so many interesting options that are available. Just think about wood veneers. You can buy something of a very high quality from a reputable shop like Kairos Shop and then just add the veneers. You can use paint with laminates and many other options exist. However, the following are the most common ones that can be considered.

Painting The Furniture

With paint you can add some faux age without causing physical damage. In order to get much better adhesion, you can lightly scuff the surface with the use of fine sandpaper. Then, you would have to apply paint primer. Since you are going for an antique appearance, you want to get a layered look. To achieve this, you want to paint with a minimum of 2 coats of paint, preferable in different colors. Scuff through paint layers with the use of sandpaper. Then, chip away some small areas with the use of a simple paint scraper.

You can also use crackle paint, which is a great technique. A shade is covering the furniture (even coat) and you then add a crackling medium. In the top coat we see shrinkage so cracks are produced. Then, the base coat peeks through. When you want to get the lighter antique appearance, the furniture needs to be coated with the use of off-white paint. Then, wipe darker shades like golden brown into corners, seams, and all the other recessed areas.

Staining Wood

When the wood is pale, it looks new, no matter what species it is. Even light pine ends up aging to a shade of warmer gold after a couple of years of sunlight exposure. Darker wood stains automatically imply age. When you look at antique furniture, you see a shade that is close to black. Dark tones can be enhanced with the addition of lampblack. Use a spoon and put it over an oil lamp or a lit candle. Then, collect the residue. Stir it inside stain small bits. Do this until the color is what you want to achieve.

Scarring Wood

Wood furniture is well-worn and has an imperfect surface. This happens because of years of constant wear appearing around edges. There are also accidental dings, burns, and scratches. You can mimic marks with the use of your ingenuity and imagination.

Use sandpaper to round off the sharp edges and use a simple ice pick to produce the worm holes. Heavy objects, like a thick chain, can add dents we often see in antique furniture. Then, a wood-burning tool can leave dark spots here and there.

Wood Finishes

Nowadays, polyurethane is the very common protective wood finish. The problem is that the result is not antique-like. It is patently. You need a finish that is more convincing when the furniture was stained, scarred, or even both. Go for something more suitable, like beeswax. You can warm it and blend it with some mineral oil in order to make a paste. That paste would offer a soft sheen if lightly buffed. You just need some extra buffing or new was for touch-ups. Shellac will protect furniture surface more than wax and removes the need of sanding.

How to get value for money when purchasing a new motor

There are few feelings quite like being able to get behind the wheel of that car you’ve had your eye on for months or even years, for a great price.

Many of us depend on a set of wheels for work and/or personal purposes. However, you won’t want to feel ripped off or have to fork out more than you’re comfortable with or can manage on a month-by-month basis.

So, here are some great ways to clinch the right deal for the car you want.

Prioritise needs over wants

Sure, in a complete money-no-object situation, perhaps you’d have the luxury of buying exactly the car you’ve always dreamed of, and maybe even another car for day-to-day practical purposes.

But most of us aren’t in that situation. So, focus on what you need first. Ask yourself, for instance, whether you really need a brand new car, rather than a better-value used alternative. After all, according to MoneySavingExpert, a new car typically loses nearly half of its value in the first three years.

Consider the next model down from your ‘dream’ car

Continuing the above theme, if possible, try to strike a nice balance between your needs and wants, by considering downsizing to the next obvious model. Do you really need a BMW 5 Series if a well-specified 3 Series would serve you just fine? Maybe you were initially going to get a Golf, but have since spotted a Polo that caters to 80% of your most pressing priorities for a lot less?

‘Dropping down one’ from the model you might have originally targeted doesn’t just save money on the upfront price of a car. That’s because smaller (and smaller-engined!) cars also usually cost less on an ongoing basis, not least due to better fuel economy.

Buy when the car is in less demand

You know that time-honoured money-saving tip of buying your Christmas gift wrapping for the following December in the January sales, rather than in those few urgent days before Christmas Eve? Well, you can apply similar logic to car purchases.

If you fancy a convertible, for example, wait until the colder and rainier months to make your move. Conversely, those in the market for a four-wheel-drive car might be best-served approaching dealerships in the summer.

Haggle… but with a plan

Obviously, if you buy your new motor online, there isn’t much opportunity for old-fashioned haggling. But if you do come face-to-face with a dealer, they’ll almost expect you to haggle at least a bit – it’s something of a ‘no no’ to pay a car’s list price at a brick-and-mortar dealership.

A common ‘beginner’ haggling tip is to get the dealer to throw in something for free, such as a sat nav or floor mats. Meanwhile, more confident and experienced hagglers may like the idea of getting offers from multiple dealers and playing them off against each other to land the best price.

Whether you’re a novice, intermediate or advanced haggler, do at least have a plan. Research price ranges for the given car for different mileages, and have a set price that you refuse to go over.

If you need finance, approach a broker

Not all of us have the money to pay for a new car sitting in our bank accounts. So if you do need to borrow, consider a personal loan from your bank or building society – ensuring it is not secured against your house, given that this would put your home at risk if you fell behind with repayments.

Alternatively, look to a car finance broker, which doesn’t lend you the money directly, but instead calls upon a panel of lenders to present you with the most competitive finance deal for your situation. CarFinanceGenie, for example, is a trusted provider of car finance in Essex even among those who have poor credit and might have been turned down elsewhere.

There you go – just five great ways to spend less on your next vehicle, so that you end up with a car you can be proud of, without being pushed dangerously into the red.

The Basics of the Stock Market

A stock exchange, share market or equities market is an association of traders and owners of securities, who collectively represent ownership claims to companies; these can also include commercial securities such as mortgages, notes and commercial property. The exchange of commodities or stocks involves the exchange of one commodity for another; it also includes the exchange of shares of a company for the ownership of other shares in the same company.

Stock markets are governed by stock exchanges. A company’s share is listed on the stock exchange and traded among stock holders. There are different stock exchanges in the world. These are stock exchanges operated through government agencies, stock exchanges established by local governments, or stock exchanges set up by individual companies, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The U.S. Federal Reserve Board establishes the New York Stock Exchange.

The term stock exchange was derived from a Greek word meaning “the exchange of commodities.” This expression has been adopted by governments, courts and regulatory bodies to describe financial markets that involve trading of securities, usually equities. The term share or stock, in its common use, refers to any number of shares of any particular stock. Stock markets differ widely, as well as the regulations governing their operation. For example, a common stock market is often referred to as a stock exchange.

A variety of firms conduct research on the various stock exchanges. These studies are done by brokers who buy and sell stocks. When buying a stock on the stock exchange, a broker obtains knowledge of the current market price in his or her preferred stock and reports it to the market maker. When the market maker buys the stock, the broker reports this to the market and the two parties, or the seller and the buyer, then enter into a contract known as a stock exchange.

There are three major types of stock exchanges, and they are the over-the-counter (OTC), under-the-counter (OTC), and closed system exchanges (closed system). OTC refers to markets where only brokers buy and sell securities. OTCs are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and can be traded privately between broker-dealers. The closed system provides a complete regulatory environment. for the exchange of securities through a national clearing house.

Stock exchanges have an enormous impact on financial markets and the economy. They play an important role in the allocation of capital and are a main source of finance in many countries. In the United States, they account for about two-thirds of the gross domestic product. They vary greatly in their scope and structure. Stock exchanges may include general market-based marketplaces, regional markets, municipal or regional markets, or countrywide markets.

There are three major types of stock exchanges: the over-the-counter (OTC), the under-the-counter (OTC), and the closed system exchanges. OTC refers to exchanges where only brokers buy and sell securities. The closed system exchanges are those that operate only under a national clearing house and are not open to the public. Regional stock exchanges include state-based markets, where the exchanges are located in various counties or states.

The size and number of stock exchanges are dependent on the type of market. The largest markets, such as the NYSE and NASDAQ, account for about ninety percent of total trading volume. In fact, the two largest exchanges, the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, account for almost two-thirds of the total volume. The Chicago Board of Trade has the most trading volume on an annual basis.

Traders can make money from stocks that they buy and sell by buying and selling shares of stock themselves, or by placing trades in an exchange. An individual trader can also buy and sell securities through a broker, who may be a specialized trader or an independent firm.

Brokerages provide services to help brokers facilitate trading activities, as well as to supply them with information regarding the market. Many firms will manage all aspects of a trading business for their clients, while others may focus on just one particular area of the trading process. Brokerage firms usually do not hold the stocks.

Investors should always conduct thorough research before investing in the stock market. This research should include a thorough review of the company’s record, an assessment of the market, and an understanding of how the market works. Investing in the stock market is a complex and time-consuming process, so it is important that you get the proper guidance before you start trading.

Why Investing in Cryptocurrency is Risky?

Cryptocurrency is the digital or virtual currency in this modern age that serves as a means of exchange. Over the years, the cryptocurrency network has spread widely to the extent that its means of exchange purpose is adequately met. Without exaggerating, it is safe to say that a little above half of the world’s populace has an understanding of the strings of benefits they stand to gain. However, not every one of them knows about the risks attached to the Crypto network.

Decentralized Status

Although the decentralized Status in the Cryptocurrency world is one of the advantages that digital currency and investors enjoy, however, this same perk is very risky. The lack of physical presence in the cryptocurrency world equates to the lack of a central authority or institution. This lack of central authority, therefore, leaves room for discrepancies to happen. This means that when any form of complication arises, the investors may be left in a lurch because there is no central authority or government to report the case.

Market Manipulation

Due to a lot of social engineering and misinformation on digital platforms, the Crypto network is affected, and investors manipulated. However, the investors affected most are those with little or no knowledge whatsoever about the risks and changes in the market system.

Hacks

Unlike the physical banks where money and other valuables are stolen at gunpoint, the Cryptocurrency world is safe from this. However, this does not outrightly write off the fact that theft and other illegal acts happen in the Crypto world. It is a digital network that is not free from being hacked. 2018 and 2019 recorded the highest attacks on Cryptocurrency. However, hackers got out with more money ($875.5 million) with only six hacks to the Crypto network. In 2019, they could only get away with $283 million. Hence, the risk of being hacked is a significant security threat to the Cryptocurrency world.

Technology

Over the years, investors, as well as financial institutions, have not been able to curb the effect of technological complications in the Cryptocurrency world. This is because there is much technological advancement which everyone does not understand fully. Therefore, investors must read more about Crypto trading platforms to have a full grasp on different opportunities and platforms available in the world of Cryptocurrency for them to invest.

Poor Liquidity

Liquidity in the Cryptocurrency market allows for stability in the prices of goods and assets. However, the same Crypto market battles with the challenges of Liquidity. When the Crypto market faces the problem, it results in a volatile market which will cause an increase in the prices of assets.

Fraud and Money Laundering

Since there is no central authority to report any fraudulent activity, investors are at a loss when or if they become victims of fraud and Money Laundering. Over the years, people believe that the Cryptocurrency world gives room for fraudulent activities of all sorts. Hence, this is a significant risk for all investors to look out for especially those that do not wish to be victims of such criminal acts.

10 tips for finding a great accountant

The Money Guy

Although an accountant might be capable of what they’re actually doing, they might not be the proper fit for your business. In this article, we have mentioned a comprehensive 10-step checklist for choosing an accountant.

Look for recommendations

It’ll be a sensible idea to ask your friends and other familiar persons for recommendations in case they have used the services of an accountant in the past. You can talk to the accountant in person after getting the referral.

Talk to more than one accountant

It is a fact that there are quite a few accountants in your area, you should make it a point to talk to several of them before appointing one for your business This will help you to compare amongst different accountants and choose the best one out there.

Make certain that they fit your business

Make it a point to select an accountant who is experienced regarding the business that you are operating. For example, if you happen to be an IT contractor, it will be of no use to select an accountant who is specialized in pubs.

Can they advise you about recent changes

The world of business and accounting is always changing. Is your accountant up to speed and can they advise you about the latest changes in tax rules for example. If you in the UK can they advise you about setting up companies in Ireland after Brexit ?

Make sure that he is qualified

Ensure that the accountant does have an accounting qualification and happens to be a member of an accounting body like the ICAEW.  In case he is a tax agent, he will be able to give you advice on tax only. He will also be able to offer financial planning advice in case he has got a Financial Services license .

What services are being offered by them?

Accountants are going to provide different services, and you will be able to select which services you require from them. For instance, although they might be offering a bookkeeping service, you will not require their assistance in case you want to make use of online accounting software. You need to understand what exactly you need from your accountant before appointing him.

Fees

In case you are running a small business, it is natural for you to try to save money. Therefore, it will be imperative for you to go to the correct accountant. There are many accountants on the market offering quality services at reasonable rates at present. Also, try to find out whether they have got any hidden charges.

Personality

It is natural for you to interact with the accountant whom you’re appointing from time to time. Therefore, it will be imperative that your personalities should not clash. Always go for an accountant who is friendly as well as amicable.

Obtain proof

While appointing the accountant, always ask for a copy of the Public Indemnity Insurance of that person along with his operating license. Any professional accountant will furnish you with all these documents, which will provide you with total peace of mind.

Will he be able to prosper your business?

The accountant is going to become involved with your company’s operation from the very beginning, and therefore you should not take this decision lightly. Try to find somebody whom you can trust and who has got the required experience behind him. Good accountants will help your company prosper by dealing with your complicated accountancy work and will also provide you with business advice.