Effective eCommerce Accounting and Software Solutions

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The commercial world of today, as we are firmly into the 21st century, is a completely different place to that of even 20 years ago. These days, many small to medium sized business do a considerable amount of business online; indeed, eCommerce is rife in every area of business, as people like to pay for goods in online shops, book hotels and holidays, and much more besides. One of the concerns about online business is that of payments; you need to make sure you have a secure and proven, reliable payment system in action, one that is tried, tested and ready to go.

A leading name in the field of merchant accounts and payment solutions, www.MerchantAccountSolutions.com provides point of sale and credit card payment systems to a wide range of customers in many different areas of commerce, and also offers a series of tried and tested software packages, including some for eCommerce users. These are designed to help ensure your day to day accounting routines are covered, and that payments can be taken easily and securely on any website. Let’s have a look at what they can do for you.

Authorize.Net

Merchant Account Solutions can offer you an Authorize.Net Payment Gateway account, which is a clever and effective way of accepting payments, and keeping an eye on your business accounting, from any website. It is dedicated accounting software for eCommerce and is very popular, and it has many satisfied users in various areas of eCommerce. With Authorize.Net you can accept card payments and e-Checks, and your funds will go into your own dedicated merchant account. You can also accept payments from digital payment solutions – such as PayPal – so you will appeal to every consumer.

If invoicing and general accounting are a headache to you, then you are far from alone! Not everyone enjoys the housekeeping side of business, but it remains essential. Fortunately, Merchant Account Solutions can help you here, too, with their specially developed invoicing software for eCommerce, which is highly effective and very popular with smaller business and online retailers. It will help streamline your accounting processes, especially when used in conjunction with the Authorize.Net account mentioned above, and it will save you precious time so you can soon get back to the areas of business where your required expertise lies.

Credit Card Payments

In these days of online shopping and digital business, being able to accept credit cards is essential. It’s quick, efficient and affordable, and Merchant Account Solutions are the people to talk to for the best solutions for your eCommerce business. It is said that, within just a few years, online spending will outstrip that on the high street, so it’s clear that you need to make sure you have your online shop optimised and ready for sales, and able to take safe and secure payments.

Have a look at the Merchant Account Solutions website now for more information, or get in touch and one of their friendly, expert team will be more than happy to help.

How to Successfully Boost Your Bank Balance

There’s nothing worse than looking at a bank statement only to find you are in the red or close to it. Fortunately, you could soon be seeing green with our helpful tips that can help you boost your bank balance.

Whether you are saving up for a holiday, want to pay off some debts or simply hope to see an influx of cash in your bank account, we can provide the tools you need to help improve your finances.

Create a Budget

Have you got a money saving plan in place? Well, you should have, because this could be the difference between having money to spend or money to find.

You should start by setting a savings goal. Identify how much money you would like to have in your savings account by the end of 2017, and add an amount into your bank account each week or month like it is a bill.

If you’re in debt, consider a debt consolidation plan or overpay a bill so you can say goodbye to this annoying financial obligation as soon as possible.

Voucher Codes

It’s seriously surprising how many shoppers fail to use voucher codes. From online shopping to dinner with friends, you can save a significant amount of money by taking a few minutes out of your day to find a handy voucher code.

Whether you are looking for a 50% discount code for your favourite pizza place, or want to shave a considerable amount off the price of a new top, you should turn to a website like myvouchercodes.co.uk to pay a fraction of the RRP.

Start Haggling

Do you often accept a price at face value? Many people do, unfortunately. You should try to practice the art of haggling to pay considerably less on a one-off or regular bill. So, ring up your TV provider and negotiate a new deal, or ask for a discount on an item when shopping in store.

Browse the Market

We’re all guilty of accepting the first website we find at the top of Google, or accepting an expensive price in a supermarket. Unfortunately, this kind of customer behaviour will only lead to one thing: the draining of your finances. You may as well have placed your money down the drain – because that overpriced item is probably so much cheaper elsewhere.

So, start browsing the market as much as possible. For example, you could use a comparison website to find the best deal for your needs and budget. So, go online and look at a better rate for that summer holiday or expensive car insurance. The more resourceful you become, the more money you will have in your bank account.

Cut Back on Your Bills

We bet you wish you could cut back on your bills, right? Well, what if we said you can? All you need to do is become a little more economical. For example, take a shorter shower, swap the central heating for a blanket and dry your clothing on the line over the expensive tumble dryer. You know it makes sense.

Should You Sell Your House to Clear Your Mortgage?

Paying off mortgage debts monthly can be frustrating especially if you are struggling financially. In fact, you may even fall into debt. If you are at a point where you do not have any other means of paying off your mortgage debt, you may want to consider selling your house.

This is usually an easy way of obtaining money that you can then use to pay off your mortgage. You may even have some money left over to clear other debts. Here are some important considerations that you must keep in mind when you want to sell your house fast to clear your mortgage debt.

To begin with, if you are repaying a mortgage and you are in debt, avoid handing your keys back to your lender or sitting there and waiting to be evicted. This is the biggest temptation when you have fallen back on your mortgage payments. Some homeowners opt to vacate the property and hand the keys to the mortgage lender while others do nothing and just wait for eviction from the property.

If you sure do not have other means of paying for your mortgage, you will do well to sell the property on your own instead of handing it back to your lender without doing anything to save the situation.

The downside of this is that you will still be required to make mortgage payments, pay for the buildings insurance as well as other costs until you find a buyer. Moreover, your mortgage is likely to sell the house for much less than you would as is usually the case with those properties where owners have handed the keys back to the lender or they have been evicted.

In such a situation, you are unlikely to get adequate money to cover the money you owe your lender. Consequently, you will still have a debt to pay. In this case, you need to inform of your lender of your intention to sell so that you make arrangements to pay for the difference. If you cannot arrange to repay failure, to which your lender may go to court to force you to pay.

In an ideal situation, your lender usually has a time limit within which to take action to recover the difference from the sale of the house. This can be a little complicated hence you need to get advice.

Should you fail to pay this difference and go ahead to purchase another property, the lender of your first property could take you to court that may then a charging order against your new property. Therefore, you will be forced to sell your new property and the proceeds be directed to repay the difference. The lender may also obtain orders to sell our new home to repay your debt. If there are other debts besides the difference from the sale of your house, you could file for bankruptcy where you can include the difference in the bankruptcy order.

In summary, selling your house to clear your mortgage is an idea that you need to apply after carefully examining your situation and possible options. This way, you can then sell because it is the best option that will produce the best solution.

Top Tips to Get an Instant Decision Loan

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If you have a financial emergency or you want to take advantage of a sales offer that’s good for a very short time only, you are likely to think about borrowing the cash you need.

If time is short, though, and you are under pressure to find that extra cash fast, you also need a quick decision on any loan application you make.

That might rule the opportunity of a personal loan from your bank – not only because they are likely to take more than a few days to arrange, but also because many banks insist that you have been a customer with them for at least a month or so before making an application.

But instant decision loans do exist – and may also go by the title of short-term or payday loans. Here are a few tips on making a successful application:

The amount

  • be reasonable in the amount you are applying for and if the limit of the amount for which you can apply is, say, £1,000 but you only need £700, go for the lower figure;

Repayment period

  • you are generally able to choose the repayment period that most suits you, and the shorter this is, the less you are going to be paying for your loan – this type of short-term loan is typically repayable in full in a period of between 1 and 18 months;

Affordability

  • the amount you choose, the repayment period, the rate of interest and the setup fee likely to be charged by the lender are all factors determining what the loan costs and, therefore, its affordability for you and your ability to repay the loan within the agreed time;

Credit checks

  • play your part honestly and accurately when it comes to providing the information needed by the loan provider to establish your creditworthiness;
  • most providers use the information you provide to perform a “soft search” or “quotation search” to take a view on the likelihood of your application for the loan succeeding – this avoids the risk of your making multiple applications, having some or all of them rejected, and these rejections adversely affecting your credit rating;
  • that is why you may see instant decision loans also referred to as no credit check loans – but your status needs to be confirmed by the credit reference agencies when you do make the formal application for the loan;

Debt management

  • it is important that you apply for and use any short-term loan only when you are faced by a genuine financial emergency or need the cash for some exceptional purpose;
  • avoid making frequent use of payday loans – rolling the last over into a new one, for example – simply as a way of keeping on top of your everyday expenses and commitments;
  • this may be the path to debt management problems and finding that your borrowing is spiralling out of control;
  • if this looks like becoming a concern, lose no time in taking advice from one of the – free – debt advisory services, such as the National Debtline.

By exercising a little care and responsibility you are likely to find that a short-term loan may be readily available on the strength of an instant decision.

How Free Online Tools Can Help Your Businesses Save Money

With the advent of the internet, businesses have been provided with an endless array of money saving opportunities to take advantage of. Whilst industry leading software is available if you have the budget for the likes of Hubspot, it may surprise many small businesses there are tools online which are free to use and can help them to get the job done just as well.

Indeed, using many of the following pieces of software will save your business a great deal of money. Some of them are apps for your phone, others are cutting edge pieces of software you can download, but all of them are designed with productivity and ROI in mind.

Online storage

There are all manner of tools your business can use to store important work online, and they’re free! The likes of Google Drive, Dropbox, and many others can be used in tandem to offer your business multiple GBs of free storage.

For small businesses, it will likely be all you need, with the added security of everything being stored in the cloud. No more work lost due to crashing computers, in other words.

Evernote and Slack

It’s important for any business to stay in contact and share ideas across projects. For this, Evernote is a brilliant option as you can brainstorm, take screengrabs from useful articles you stumble upon, and generally brainstorm your way to greater things. Consider it an advanced version of sticky notes – this Evernote guide will help you along. It’s a free piece of software as well, so you can develop your strategies in a productive online environment with no expensive charges.

Similarly, Slack is a free piece of software which allows your business to communicate easily. With its streamlined digital chat features, your staff can keep in touch and develop projects easily and effectively.

G Suite

For a personalised email address and all of the fancy software Google has to offer, signing up to this is possibly one of the smartest things any modern business can do. With G Suite, your business can quickly and easily get setup with 30GB of inbox storage which is ad-free, professional, and there’s 24/7 customer support if you get stuck.

One of the big bonuses is you’ll be able to structure a bespoke email address: yourname@business.co.uk (or .com). This adds an extra layer of professionalism to your business and will help you easily stand out in often overcrowded inboxes. This guide to setting up G Suite from Google is the ideal place to start.

Streak

Quite a lot of businesses remain unaware about streak, but it’s a massively helpful tool for business owners. Streak is essentially a CRM which you install into Gmail (you’ll need an account – this is also free), but its multiple features allow an entrepreneur to collaborate with colleagues, multipurpose, work with Google Apps, and everything is based in the cloud. The great thing about it is it doesn’t require much technical knowledge to setup. Just install and off you go!

Password Tools

One of the downsides of the online world is, of course, the need to remember a seemingly perpetual stream of new passwords for all the endless accounts you’re on.

There’s an easy way to remember all of this (as you’d expect), with the likes of Dashlane and LastPass offering highly secure ways to store your passwords in one place. From there, all you need to do is load the right login screen and you’ll be logged in automatically.

SEO

This may be a dreaded term for some businesses who don’t fully understand its potential. On the financial marketing side of your business, SEO can reduce overhead significantly by acting as multiple pieces of content marketing at once. It’s a free form of lead generation, can claim you important ranking positions to generate relevant traffic, and provides you with a golden opportunity to structure compelling content through meta tags.

You’ll need a basic understanding of SEO to make all of this come together, but you can start with free tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Yoast SEO in WordPress to help you claim ranking positions which matter.

SEO is deeply complex and requires on-site, off-site, and technical knowhow, but with commitment it will pay huge rewards. If you’re sitting pretty in first position on a key search term in Google’s SERPs, you have the chance to dominate your market. This beginner’s guide to SEO from Moz will help you get to grips with what to expect.

5 Ways to Save Money When Driving in the Winter

Well, summer is officially over and we’re deep into autumn. You can tell by the onset of wind, rain, and occasional bursts of snow we’re in for a rough patch. This means it’s time to adapt your driving style, but you’ll also be eager to save money as the winter roles in, as well as adding an extra edge of security in potentially hazardous conditions.

The following tips are an ideal way to ensure you stay safe and secure, whilst saving money, over the following 5 or so months. Jot down these ideas and you’ll be able to use them in subsequent years, adding extra saved money you can stockpile for things such as better Christmas present for loved ones!  

  1. Fuel saving techniques

Changing your driving style in the autumn and winter is a good idea as it can help you save fuel as the weeks and months elapse.

To start things off, you should ensure your tyres are properly inflated as cold temperatures decreases the pressure in your tyres. Making sure your wheels are aligned is another good option, as is avoiding sitting around in your car with the engine on wasting time. This wastes a lot of fuel (at any time of year, obviously) but is made worse in the cold weather.

The myth is this is good for a winter warmup, but this isn’t the case in the modern era of driving when gadget laden cars have no problem with this, and instead you’ll be straining the engine and wasting energy.

  1. Take out excess weigh

Try not to overburden your vehicle with superfluous weight. If there’s, for instance, a foldout bike you leave sitting around in the back for emergencies, this will lead to wasted fuel. The same goes for any racks you might have left on the roof of you vehicle, as this adds aerodynamic resistance which, as the miles add up, leads to wasted fuel as you’re being slowed down.

Some of these may sound trivial, but they genuinely do add up – you simply have to think of the long-term impact of a roof rack on your car as you’re driving at around 30mph. You’ll be slowed down a lot! You can read this fuel saving guide to find out more.

  1. Fit new tyres

By “new tyres” I mean, ideally, a brand new set of all-season or winter tyres. The latter are particularly effective at getting your car from A to B with the minimum of fuss. They’re designed to deal with the cool temperatures, and not simply for snow, so you get the maximum grip and safety features as you’d expect.

Ultimately, having these fitted will reduce your rolling resistance – you’ll save more fuel and there will be less wear on your tyres’ contact patches, meaning you won’t damage the likes of summer tyres, if you have them fitted.

  1. Don’t damage your car if it’s frozen!

It’s a tempting tactic to pour boiling hot water over your car if it’s frozen first thing in the morning. It’s something of a tradition – the sight of the stricken driver attempting to coax his car to life after a bitterly cold night.

However, pouring boiling hot water on your car can damage it. The right temperature water to use is between 35-55 degrees – this will remove ice easily. If you use boiling water, you could simply shatter your windows!

Similarly, if there’s a shelf of snow on top of your car simply brush if off. Pouring boiling water on that is another very good way to damage your vehicle. Check out how to save your car this winter for more advanced tips.

  1. Drive safely!

At winter, you can be hit with the most hazardous conditions you’ll see all year. Wind, rain, slush, snow, ice, thick fog, and a combination of all can hit you simultaneously. It goes without saying the more sensible you are when driving, the less chance you’ll have of being involved in an accident.

Indeed, if the weather is so bad it’s dangerous to head out onto the road, walk or use public transport to get to your destination. It’s as simple as this – don’t put yourself in undue danger. Be safe and enjoy the Christmas season!

3 Mistakes That Could Prove Costly for Drivers

Now, as I’m in the finance world, I’m obviously conscious of what’s costing me money and, as a result of this, and the fact I’m based in one of the busiest cities in the world, I don’t drive. Before I got settled in my career, when I was living at home, I saw so many things that people, my parents included, were doing that were just costing so much money which was totally unnecessary.

I saw an accident on my way to work the other day, nothing serious (I don’t think, it didn’t look serious anyway) and it got me thinking about how much money things like that cost and it’s even worse when you’re involved in something that isn’t your fault too! From costly driving habits that you do every day without thinking to the accidents and things that happen which are beyond control and you just happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

So, this post is about 3 costly mistakes you, as a driver, are making.

Road Rage

This first one kind of fits into the category of “things you can’t control” but if you think a little bit, you probably could go some way to getting some control over it. If you suffer from road rage, you definitely aren’t alone! But, if you spend your time shouting, screaming, pomping your horn, flashing your lights or whatever else it is that you do, this makes you a not very safe driver.

You’ll find that when you’re about to have a go at someone, you lose your better judgement and are more likely to make rash driving decisions and if you’re driving somewhere like the motorway, this could end up to be a very costly mistake to make. Even if you’re sat in traffic, you could accidently lift your foot off the clutch (or brake for you automatic car drivers) and jolt forward into the car in front of you. Not good, hey?

Loud Music or Radio

This one is something that you can absolutely control and it’s something that you may not feel is actually a problem but, it can be. If you’re driving around with the volume blasting out of your car, then you could be even more distracted. Maybe not if you’re listening to the news, but if it’s a subject you feel passionately about, who knows…?

Anyway, driving with music loud actually slows your reaction times. The louder it is, the more your attention is focused on things like the words, rhythm and sounds of the song which means that your attention is taken away from the road and your driving surroundings which isn’t ideal. On average, drivers have a reaction time of three quarters of a second which, if you’re travelling at 60mph, the car will travel a further 66 feet before braking and slowing even takes place and if you’re listening to music above 95 decibels, the distance before braking increases to around 79 feet.

Clearly, this isn’t good for you as it means you’re potentially less likely to react in time to stop before a collision which opens up a can of worms in terms of the cost to you, which, let’s face it, everyone could do without.

Buying Part Worn Tyres

Now, you may be asking yourself why this is in the list because, buying part-worn tyres is cheap and they’re still road legal, right? Wrong. Well, I don’t mean wrong as in they’re not road legal, they are, and they may even be cheaper in terms of there’s less damage to your wallet in the short term, but in the long-run, they could prove costly.

There’s been a bit of coverage I’ve seen recently about how costly buying part worn tyres, instead of quality, new tyres like Continental tyres for example, can actually be. From longer stopping distances to high risks of a fine if you don’t check the tread depth and needing to replace them more frequently, there’s many ways that part-worn tyres can prove to be costlier. In some instances, they could even cost you your life if there’s internal damage that you can’t see which then causes a blowout.

Now, think about this, is it worth risking a fine possibly in the thousands or worse, your life, just for the sake of spending £20 – £30 on a tyre? I’d say not…

There’s More to Buying or Selling a Business than Just Money

It takes a lot to build up a business from scratch and turn it into something profitable and something you can be really proud of. As the founder, your business is like your baby and you go through a lot with it in its various stages of development, from the lowest of low points to the sheer joy that comes with profits and perhaps also from being able to employ some people and make a positive contribution in that way.

For many reasons however, the time to sell may come and it may as well even come sooner than what you may have imagined. You could perhaps grow tired of having to micro-manage every employee or you may indeed have plans of an early retirement. Perhaps you want to fund another venture and enter into a different industry altogether, or you might even want to invest your money passively and live off returns which require less of your direct day-to-day involvement. Whatever your reason for wanting to sell, it’s not just a simple matter of money changing hands and the ownership of the business getting amended.

This is something to take note of whether you’re the buyer or the seller because it does indeed apply to both parties involved.

Money is but just one small part of the process involved in buying or selling a business, although it is indeed perhaps the most important part. What business owners need to know is that actually putting a business up for sale, or merely starting the process of selling it, takes quite a bit of time. You can have an offer come in suddenly – an offer which you just can’t refuse, but you’ll still be in for a lengthy due diligence process from the data of the initial offer the notification you receive from your bank that the funds have cleared.

An important factor to consider is the seller’s legal obligation to ensure some continuity in the business, particularly if the new owner plans to keep much of the same operations running. This may entail divulging some sensitive information, which is something that needs to be done strategically. I mean you never really know if the so-called interested party is in actual fact a competitor who’s actually just posing as a willing buyer in a bid to get some trade secrets from you. Trust me, this sort of thing happens a lot more than you may think.

Protecting yourself against such practices means you have to bring in some legal expertise, which in itself is an added expense. There’ll be plenty of added expenses you’ll have to prepare yourself for and chances are the final valuation of your business won’t be anywhere near what you might have initially thought.

The best way to prepare for the sale of a business is to operate it like you’re never going to put it up for sale, in that you’re operating it in the best way possible to keep it running profitably. This way, whenever an offer does come in, all your affairs are in order, including all the bookkeeping, which always makes the sale of a business a much more streamlined process.

Renting or Buying – Which is Better?

For those who are fortunate enough to be able to say they can afford to either rent a place to live or buy the property they want to live in, the question of whether to rent or buy cannot help but come up. Affordability is probably the main reason why people would perhaps have to choose to rent over buying because it really just works out cheaper to rent a place to stay than to commit to the upkeep of a property you’re paying off.

So if you can’t afford to buy a property, renting may very well be your only option, but you should be making plans to change your financial situation so that you at least have the choice between renting and buying. This is because as much as one option may make sense over the other in any given situation, it’s always better to have a choice.

How long do you plan to stay?

If you do indeed have a choice, the length of time you plan on staying in a specific area pretty much determines whether you should rent or buy. Naturally, it would make sense to buy if you plan on staying for a long time, with the duration of your stay approaching forever. So if you’re planning to retire at a particular place, buying is definitely the better option. There are other advantages to buying as well, such as the fact that you can rent the place out if you ever have to move somewhere else. In this way, you can essentially have someone else pay off your bond as a tenant, as a good way to climb the property ladder.

So generally I’d say if you can afford to buy, then buy, but there are some advantages to renting as well, although renting should really only be a temporary solution.

What the market is currently like

Generally the value of a property appreciates and it’s perhaps a well-known fact that property is one of the only assets which actually appreciates in value. The value you get out of that appreciation isn’t always what it’s made out to be however, so you might want to delay an outright purchase a bit to assess the markets so that you can perhaps enter during a much more conducive buying time. As much as property appreciates in value, waiting it out a bit to take advantage of a property bubble burst could make a strong case for renting over buying.

Another case which would have you choosing to rent over buying is if you already own a property and you don’t necessarily want to sell. This applies even if you’re still paying off a bond on that property, so long as that property is generating some or all of the money required to pay off the bond eventually.

Capital gains take things in a whole different direction and if you are indeed chasing capital gains over investing in property for cash-flow, you likely have large sums of money available in cash and so buying over renting definitely makes more sense in this instance.

Mentors, Coaches, Expert Authorities and New Money

If you take a look at how people are becoming wealthy these days you’ll notice that it’s no longer through the creation or invention of a new product or even a new, revolutionary way of solving a problem. These days, wealth is created through taking ownership of the process of money exchanging hands, whether directly or indirectly. An institutionalised example of this is when a bank charges you service fees for the services they offer you and many other clients as well as the charges on the transactions themselves.

That’s basically how the big guys continue to make a lot of money these days, building up considerable wealth in this way. For those who want to be in on the action but don’t quite have the means or connections to start their own financial services operations, the next best thing is skimming money indirectly. These people create an environment for money to change hands and then indirectly charge a fee for sharing the information which leads to that money changing hands and it’s becoming big, big business. I’m talking about mentors, coaches and so-called expert authorities. “Guru” is perhaps really bad word to use, but that’s not far from what a lot of these people are.

Look, for as long as there will be people seeking to make some extra money and perhaps lift themselves into a better financial situation, there will always be a market for this sort of thing. Consumers should always approach these types of offers with great caution though because if I must be honest, I don’t know a single person who attended a wealth-creation seminar, mastermind, crash-course or anything of that sort and actually came away from it with some solid, tangible actionable information they’ve actually used to generate wealth. If anyone does go on to make money, it’s usually through selling the exact same information or course they themselves went through and the cycle just goes on and on.

To put it quite bluntly, the guy trying to sell you some wealth creation “system,” programme or course is likely not using the very techniques they sell and teach  to make their money. They’re likely making all their money through the sales of that material. It’s big business today and often these people cover themselves from any backlash by stating that the systems they’re teaching aren’t guaranteed to necessarily work for everybody, every time.

Pretty much the same applies to motivational speakers and other expert authorities, although with motivational speakers it’s at least a case of knowing exactly what you’re paying for upfront, motivation. Motivational speakers however often then try to get you to buy some further material from them or from their affiliated partners, with a famous example of this being the proclamation that you need a mentor if you’re serious about your entrepreneurial endeavours.

So the message I guess is just to be careful. Don’t pin your hopes on attending some wealth creation seminar being the answer to all your financial dreams you’ve been waiting for.