Keep Your Finances in Check This Holiday Season

Have you ever entered the New Year financially strapped because you spent more than you intended to over the holidays? If so, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are steps you can take today to help avoid “paying the piper” when the credit card bills arrive in January.

Write down the names of everyone on your gift list. This includes family members, friends, business associates, household service providers and so on. It may be helpful to create your list after you’ve determined how much you’re comfortably willing to spend on gifts this year. This way, you can keep your list controlled to a certain number of people and be more critical of those gifts that may not be crucial.

Set a budget and stick to it. Assign an affordable dollar amount to each recipient category, for example your spouse, parents, nieces and nephews and children. If something they desire costs more than what you’ve budgeted, ask someone else to go in on the gift with you or give the recipient a gift certificate that they can apply toward the item they desire.

Discuss your approach to holiday spending with your spouse, significant other or partner. If your money personalities and approach to holiday gifts differs greatly, look for common ground and agree to compromise to enable you to stay on track financially. If you’re worried your partner will spend too much from your shared account, talk about how overspending over the short-term on the holidays will affect your day-to-day finances and long-term goals.

Comparison shop for the best price. Thanks to the Internet and mobile device scanners, comparison shopping is quick and easy – and well worth your time. If you’re making an online purchase, take a moment to search for coupon codes for the site you’re purchasing from. Doing so can amount to some savings. Also, if free shipping isn’t available, see if there’s a free “ship to store” option to help stretch your holiday dollars.

Check out your local dollar store. You can often find high quality gift bags, bows, ribbon and tissue paper for cheap. If possible, go earlier in the season when the selection is at its best.

Control holiday party costs. Gifts aren’t the only expense during the holiday season. Parties are another, especially if you host one. To help reduce costs, send out electronic invitations and host the event with a friend to split the costs. It also helps to keep the menu simple – and ask others to bring something to share. If you’re serving alcohol, offer a signature drink instead of stocking a full bar or ask guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine.

Keep your holiday receipts together. This makes it easier for you to track your expenses and stay within your budget. It also makes it easy to locate a receipt if you find an item at a significantly lower price elsewhere and want to return or exchange your original purchase.
Staying on track with your finances during the holidays is all about being realistic about what you can afford. It may be tempting to overspend, but it’s important to think about the impact that doing so may have on your overall financial situation. Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you save money during the holiday season and throughout the year so you can work towards your short- and long-term financial goals.

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10 Keys To Stop Holiday Stress In Its Tracks!

It’s the holidaze! Days of wonder and joy, shopping for all of the perfect gifts for your perfect family and friends, enjoying awesome festivities, feeling and looking great, traveling with ease and having the best holiday with your family ever! Does that sound like your holiday experience? No?

It’s not the picture of a lot of people as they struggle with finances, loneliness, frustrating family members, and the oh so commercially advertised happiness and joy that seem elusive. I bring good tidings… there’s plenty of time to change what you can and make this holiday season work for you and yours no matter what!

Pre-plan everything. Leave nothing to chance unless you’re a very spontaneous and forgiving person. Don’t wait until the last-minute for anything.

Decide what you want. If you don’t know what you truly want, you’ll likely not get more than what you always expect and experience during the holidays. With a pen and a sheet of paper write down exactly what you want in every area of the holiday season Then, decide which ones are realistic and which are a set up for friction and disappointment.

Be realistic. Take control of your thoughts, beliefs and feelings during a very emotion-packed time of year. Don’t depend on commercials, TV shows and old movies, advertising and tradition to supply your “perfect holiday” picture of reality. What we want for our holidays and what we experience are sometimes miles apart. So, be realistic from the start. You know your family and friends by now, expecting them to be different is a sure way to trigger you to be stressed. Work with what is possible and enjoy it.

Figure out your finances. These economic times for many people are not easy. The average baby boomers portfolio has lost 30-40% of its value. Financial changes, loss of jobs or other reasons can bring daily stress into one’s life which is magnified during the holidays with such an over-emphasis on gift buying and spending. Decide how much you really can afford to spend before ending up at the cash register or clicking the pay button online. The #1 holiday stressor is finances, related to gift-buying and travel. Two keys to staying financially free during the holidays is 1) be realistic and 2) pay with cash. Going into plastic debt due by buying gifts to make people happy makes no sense. Make a realistic budget for yourself and stick to it, no matter how “cool” or “cute” or “gotta’ have it” something is.

Make a food budget for waistline happiness. Making a grocery shopping budget and menu for your home cooking is one good thing to do to stay realistic, but making a food “eating” budget it even more important. If you go to a lot of events, parties and family gatherings, it’s too easy to keep grazing on high calorie foods. This is not healthy for your body, mind or spirit. The holidays are not a license to overindulge. 99.99% of holiday foods can be purchased or made anytime of the year. Keep your eating patterns the same as always, and even better. Enjoy a little bit of the different and special “holiday” foods that you enjoy but enjoy the people and events that you’re around more.

Communicate. People really can’t read our minds. Ask for what you want and tell others “the plan” so that you don’t set them up for stress too. You may need to say “no” and “yes” to things that you otherwise just let happen. Be in charge of your thoughts and feelings by communicating your truth. You will still not get everything you want, but you’ll feel better that you did your part to communicate it. And, no, not everyone will like it!

Leave your expectations at the door. Enjoy each day “no matter what”. Something will go wrong, people will be inconsiderate, things won’t go as planned, and you will feel hurt or unacknowledged. Take charge of your thoughts and feelings. Let it go, forgive more quickly, and enjoy it all anyway. Change your mind more quickly about where you might blame others, creating more stress, to letting it go and releasing the struggle.

Dealing with loss. One of the top six reasons for holiday stress is the loss of a loved one, family or pet. The loss of a family member or very close friend or pet can leave a big void in the usual family gathering. Take the time to grieve, share good stories about the loved one, look at family albums or whatever you need to work through it to enjoy the holidays with those who are still around now.

Take time out. Take time to just “be” during the holiday season. Enjoy the weather and sunshine, snow or rain, holiday sounds and smells. Take naps and periods of quieting your mind in between the hustle and bustle that is this season. Invite others to “be” with you so that you create deeper social relationships as well as new positive memories.

Permission. Give yourself permission to start, stop, stay, leave or whatever you want to do or be when you want to or need to. Give yourself permission to “change your mind”, even about your own plans. This gives you the option to be more flexible and spontaneous when things, or you, change. You don’t have to “do it all.” If nothing will happen unless you set it up, then be okay with that too. Just don’t struggle with “what is” which causes you stress, no one else.

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Cheap Holiday Loan For An Extravagant Holidaying

The last holiday you took was five years ago. Your career requirements or pressing financial obligations have come against your holidays at one time or the other. It might be that you had world of time but just couldn’t make it due to lack of finance. Don’t get disheartened, cheap holiday loans can take you to the most exotic locations of your choice.

As the name suggests a cheap holiday loan is meant for financing your holiday expenses with a lower rate of interest. The chance of loan acquisition at low interest gets higher with a good credit score and collateral. People with bad credit history and those who are not in a position to provide collateral shouldn’t worry as there are many lenders who give loan to such individuals. The interest charged might be slightly higher in such cases.

With the rise in standard of living of people and preference to foreign locations for holidaying has a huge market has been created for cheap holiday loans.

Many financial institutions have come up to cater to these market needs and are competing against each other by bringing new loan plans. This has created confusion in the minds of consumer.

Therefore, loan seekers are advised to do some market research, study various loan proposals, and compare interest rate charged for such plans. The most cost-effective and quicker way is to research online on the Internet.

There are various websites available on web where one can find all the information pertaining to holiday loans. After collecting necessary information and deciding on the holiday loan, make a loan application online. The rest of formalities will be taken care by the lenders. So, next time you feel like taking a break, look for a cheap holiday loan and add wings to your dream.

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Caravan Finance Advice – Questions & Answers

Here our long standing park manageress Judy Weight with 27 years experience answers some typical questions regarding finance.

We don’t have enough spare cash to buy a holiday home out-right, what finance options are open to me or am I best to mortgage?

Quite simply; No. Traditional mortgages are not generally available for this sort of purchase. If you have adequate security, for example your own house, then you may be able to get a bank loan for this purpose.

Saying that the most common ways of borrowing the cash is through a finance company, which can be done either through a caravan holiday home park like us, a caravan holiday home distributor or through a finance house.

What size loan is available to me?

Well that depends on a few variables, your credit rating, chosen holiday home price and which finance company you approach. Most set their minimum figures at £5,000 and lend up to 75-90% of the purchase price, alongside a cash deposit.

Is the interest rate fixed or variable?

It can be either, again depending on the finance company you approach and the loan you take out. With fixed rate loans the interest rate stays the same throughout the whole term of the agreement and it has the peace of mind of knowing that the repayments won’t go up. With a variable interest rate loan the rate is linked to the finance house base rate meaning that the number of repayments could go up or down as appropriate. The advantage here is that you can make lump sum repayments or pay off the loan in full at any time after the first 12 months. In either case it is important to shop around and most importantly, check the small print.

Is sub-letting a holiday home a good idea?

It can help cover some of the costs of owning a holiday home, but it is unlikely to net you a profit. If you do decide to sub-let you will get the best return by doing the administration, cleaning and maintenance yourself. Remember to make sure your chosen park allows sub letting and above all only sublet to people you know, for the sake of hiring your caravan out for a £100 a weekend, finding your holiday home wreaked makes the whole exercise pointless.

What else do I need to know about sub-letting?

Well firstly if your chosen park allows it. A lot of parks, like ourselves, do not allow sub letting for the simple fact that people who hire out a caravan just for a weekend at a time do not look after or respect the facilities or the wishes of other residents, and are more prone to breaking rules and being noisy in the late and early hours of the night. Parks that do allow it may charge them for using their facilities. You will need lots of good publicity (use a website) booking forms and effective financial control. Yearly gas and electrical tests are obituary and your caravan will have to be cleaned to a high standard after each visit. A clear cut policy (for example whether or not pet’s are allowed) and terms and conditions may be required. You’ll have to inform your caravan insurer and you may find your insurance premiums come at a higher price.

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Spending Time With Your Family and Cheap Holidays

Entertainment is the thing that folks could do with as of late and this is likely one of the reasons why they’re in dire need of a holiday. It appears that our employment is always accompanied by strain and really the only way that we could possibly get away from it is to spend a vacation in a peaceful location. The thought of going away on holidays and spending all that money may be nearly as taxing. Fortunately for us there are lots of different techniques of uncovering Very Cheap Holidays, taking away the tension and permitting us to relax.

Also, simply because you’re on tight finances does not mean you can’t take pleasure in your favorite break location. There are tour operators that can provide us with the chance to experience an agreeable vacation without sacrificing our finances. Activities are also prepared to keep us occupied and busy. We just have to make sure that our prospective destination will be enjoyed by our family. A great idea should be to ask for their opinions first.

The incentive why tour operators offer cheap holidays is to attract more clients. Taking into account our current fiscal state of affairs, it is extremely likely that there are not loads of folks queuing to pay the money for an upscale Large Holiday Home. Planning your trip is among the most important things that we have to contemplate before we take our break.

The responsibility of the travel agent is to help us with our travel wishes and selecting the holiday vacation spot will all be approximately us. One of the most vital steps of enjoying a vacation is to analyze your finances. Knowing how much funds you are able to spend while you’re away, before you leave home to go on your break, is a large factor. This method of assessment is similar regardless of whether you’re remaining close to your own home or you might be flying abroad on Dominican Republic Holidays. We should make sure we include the food, hotels and transport facilities in our budget.

One of the better things about going away on holidays as of late is that many of the airline firms are offering flights at cut rate fees. Discounted fees for airline tickets are one more thing that is being offered. Sometimes the previous cost has been discounted at approximately 50 %. This form of deal provides great financial savings. Reserving in advance can also be essential as this will supply us more possibilities of getting reduced rates on airplane tickets and places to stay.

Aside from booking directly with a tour operator, we also have an option to book using the net or with a tour operator. The foremost advantages of this of process are that you don’t have to leave your own home to book your vacation plus your choice will probably be far wider.

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Project Risk Management and Assurance

Why do so many organisations embark on high-risk projects without demanding robust project assurance?

Projects fail for many reasons. Recent global studies indicate that inadequate risk management is a common cause.

Successful project managers aim to resolve high levels of exposure before they occur, via systematic risk management processes.

Many projects are inherently exposed to myriad risks and are often significant in scale, complexity and ambition. Delivering large-scale projects can often be adversely impacted by a bias towards being over-optimistic.

Imperfect, insufficient or inadequate data increases exposure that often results in over-estimating benefits and under-estimating costs.

Managing macro and micro-level events related to achieving project deliverables, whilst balancing the needs of many stakeholders, has become increasingly important.

Assessing risks at both portfolio and work-stream levels helps increase confidence that risks are understood.

Projects are often prioritised relevant to their levels of perceived exposure and one has its own risk profile.

Project Risk Management

Project risk management focuses on identifying, analysing and responding to project events.

It should be designed to systematically identify and manage levels of uncertainty and potential threats to delivering project objectives successfully.

Risk management processes should be iterative throughout a project’s life-cycle and embedded in project management planning and activities. Smaller projects often require minor work and periodic monitoring.

Complex projects need formalised processes to analyse, manage and report risks.

Good reporting relies on clear descriptions of all exposure, their impact on the projects, and potential costs for mitigation and inaction.

This helps ensure project personnel understand the potential impact risks may have on projects’ success and have prepared strategies to minimise negative consequences.

Problems occur when there is limited visibility of risks at project and portfolio levels or approaches to risk-management are ad-hoc and inconsistent.

Further problems can arise when risks are identified but recorded at a very high level accompanied by highly subjective risk ratings, rather than being the result of more substantive risk assessment.

When these problems arise, an organisation would benefit from clearer, more formal and wide-spread processes for capturing and monitoring risks.

Project and Portfolio Risk Assessments

Project and portfolio risk assessments should be undertaken to understand their risk profiles and associated threats in achieving business objectives.

Assessments should identify the action plans to address the risks identified and allocate executive responsibility to manage them. Additional risk assessments should be carried out on selected projects (perhaps by prioritising them by value or complexity).

Risk management processes should be on-going and monitored throughout a project’s life-cycle.

Regular risk reports would provide Project Sponsors, Senior Responsible Officers and Steering Groups with better visibility of projects’ risk profiles.

Whether you’re responsible for overseeing or managing a project, robust project assurance will help you address the risks that threaten its success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Business Advisory Services.

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown from strength to strength.

It has matured from a small accounting and tax services practice to one that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and executives navigate complex challenges; including strategy, risk management and internal audit, managing shared-service centres and operations.

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