Top Financial Tips for Millennials

Are you a millennial who feels overwhelmed trying to manage your finances? Are you getting the most out of your money? Financial literacy is not often taught in schools and they don’t do a great job preparing their graduates to manage their finances. So when you’re out of college and start real life, it can be a little overwhelming and it is easy to get yourselves into debt and other financial trouble.

Most millennials are currently in their 20s and 30s – a time when many young people are ready to make major financial decisions in their lives, like home ownership, long-term investment activity, etc. If you’re currently a part of this generation here’s your crash course on what you should do to improve your financial wellness:

Take online financial courses
Since most young adults have the propensity for technology it is suggested you take a few basic online courses in economics, accounting, and any other financial topics that may be of interest to you.

Embrace Technology
When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app. To help you do that. These apps. Can categorize your spending habits and help you manage your spending. These insights can help you save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

When it comes down to managing your money there is probably an app to help you do that. Mobile apps like Clarity Money can help you track any wasteful spending habits. Digit and Stash can recommend where you can save money each month and then transfer that money directly to your savings. Online financial apps can help you make a workable budget for your lifestyle and ultimately change your net worth.

Examine Your Current Bank Accounts
Are you paying fees? If so, for what? Monthly maintenance and minimum balance fees should never be a fee on your account statement. Free checking accounts, are available, especially at credit unions and these accounts will help you keep more of your own money in your pockets. So don’t settle for anything else.

Build Your Credit and Understand the Impact of your Credit Score
Early on, you may only have a student loan or a credit card on your credit report. But now it’s time to start building your credit. Ask your credit union about a Credit Builder Loan to help jumpstart your credit. And if you already have some active loans, make sure you’re making payments on time every month. You’ll need that good credit history when you want to make big purchases in the future like a car, rent an apartment, or get a mortgage for your first home.

It’s also important to know that if you are planning on opening up a business your personal credit may be the defining factor in your ability to access necessary working capital.

Repay Debt Tactically
Since we are on the topic of credit, a lot of young adults have credit cards with very high interest rates. Focus on paying off those debts first! If possible, transfer those balances to a lower-rate credit card. It’s much easier to pay down debt when more is going toward the balance.

Track everything to obtain your whole financial picture
Just as businesses manage their cash flow, individuals need to do the same by tracking their income, expenses, assets and liabilities. There are many online tools to help you like Mint, Quicken and Personal Capital.

Build an Emergency Fund
Unplanned/unfair/unfortunate events can happen in the blink of an eye. You may get in a car accident, have unforeseen medical expenses or lose your job. That’s why it’s important for everyone to have an emergency fund. The best way is to set up an automatic savings plan where you pay yourself first by depositing a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account. If you forget it’s there you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Create a Long-Term Savings Strategy
An emergency fund is a short-term strategy, but you also can’t forget the big picture. Does your employer offer a matching 401(k)? If so, be sure to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s fundamentally free money, and it’s an investment in your future.

Get yourself a financial mentor
Even though there is an overabundance of information and apps on the Internet to help with your financial security, it is far superior to pick the brain and bounce questions off a trusted friend or colleague. Their pertinent insights will most likely be tailored to your specific requirements.

Use these financial tips listed above to get your finances on track while you’re still young. You’ve got a bright future ahead – so start now and stick with it. Your financial well-being will thank you! Although these tips are targeted at millennials, they’re useful for all ages.

What Is an ICO in Cryptocurrency?

ICO is short for Initial Coin Offering. When launching a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token, the developers offer investors a limited number of units in exchange for other major crypto coins such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

ICOs are amazing tools for quickly raining development funds to support new cryptocurrencies. The tokens offered during an ICO can be sold and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, assuming there is sufficient demand for them.

The Ethereum ICO is one of the most notable successes and the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings is growing as we speak.

A brief history of ICOs

Ripple is likely the first cryptocurrency distributed via an ICO. At the start of 2013, Ripple Labs began to develop the Ripple payment system and generated approximately 100 billion XRP tokens. These were sold through an ICO to fund Ripple’s platform development.

Mastercoin is another cryptocurrency that has sold a few million tokens for Bitcoin during an ICO, also in 2013. Mastercoin aimed to tokenize Bitcoin transactions and execute smart contracts by creating a new layer on top of the existing Bitcoin code.

Of course, there are other cryptocurrencies that have been successfully funded through ICOs. Back in 2016, Lisk gathered approximately $5 million during their Initial Coin Offering.

Nevertheless, Ethereum’s ICO that took place in 2014 is probably the most prominent one so far. During their ICO, the Ethereum Foundation sold ETH for 0.0005 Bitcoin each, raising almost $20 million. With Ethereum harnessing the power of smart contracts, it paved the way for the next generation of Initial Coin Offerings.

Ethereum’s ICO, a recipe for success

Ethereum’s smart contracts system has implemented the ERC20 protocol standard that sets the core rules for creating other compliant tokens which can be transacted on Ethereum’s blockchain. This allowed others to create their own tokens, compliant with the ERC20 standard that can be traded for ETH directly on Ethereum’s network.

The DAO is a notable example of successfully using Ethereum’s smart contracts. The investment company raised $100 million worth of ETH and the investors received in exchange DAO tokens allowing them to participate in the governance of the platform. Sadly, the DAO failed after it was hacked.

Ethereum’s ICO and their ERC20 protocol have outlined the latest generation of crowdfunding blockchain-based projects via Initial Coin Offerings.

It also made it very easy to invest in other ERC20 tokens. You simply transfer ETH, paste the contract in your wallet and the new tokens will show up in your account so you can use them however you please.

Obviously, not all cryptocurrencies have ERC20 tokens living on Ethereum ‘s network but pretty much any new blockchain-based project can launch an Initial Coin Offering.

The legal state of ICOs

When it comes to the legality of ICOs, it’s a bit of a jungle out there. In theory, tokens are sold as digital goods, not financial assets. Most jurisdictions haven’t regulated ICOs yet so assuming the founders have a seasoned lawyer on their team, the whole process should be paperless.

Even so, some jurisdictions have become aware of ICOs and are already working on regulating them in a similar manner to sales of shares and securities.

Back in December 2017, the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) classified ICO tokens as securities. In other words, the SEC was preparing to halt ICOs they consider to be misleading investors.

There are some cases in which the token is just a utility token. This means the owner can simply use it to access a certain network or protocol in which case they may not be defined as a financial security. Nevertheless, equity tokens whose purpose is to appreciate in value are quite close to the concept of security. Truth be told, most token purchases are made specifically for investment purposes.

Despite the efforts of regulators, ICOs are still lingering in a grey legal area and until a clearer set of regulations is imposed entrepreneurs will attempt to benefit from Initial Coin Offerings.

It’s also worth mentioning that once regulations reach a final form, the cost and effort required to comply could make ICOs less attractive compared to conventional funding options.

Final words

For now, ICOs remain an amazing way to fund new crypto-related projects and there have been multiple successful ones with more to come.

However, keep in mind everyone is launching ICOs nowadays and many of these projects are scams or lack the solid foundation they need to thrive and make it worth the investment. For this reason, you should definitely do thorough research and investigate the team and background of whatever crypto project you might want to invest in. There are multiple websites out there that list ICOs, we recommend checking this ICO calendar if you’re interested to invest in a crypto project.

The Greenback

When the Kingston Trio came out with their rendition of “Greenback Dollar” with the lyrics saying “I don’t give a dam about a greenback dollar I spend it just as fast as I can” today, half of that phrase is actually true. Too many of us continue to spend that greenback ever faster though. But, what we do care about is why that ever disappearing dollar doesn’t afford the things it used to. We do give a dam about every last dime that comes into our possession today.

To understand the seriousness of the United States financial status is to trace the history of the dollar or Greenback as it was known during the Civil War. The term greenback refers to legal tender, printed in green on one side and issued by the United States during the American Civil War. Currency at that time was backed up by gold but, when the Civil War broke out the demand for more currency was too much for the gold reserves the United States had. What President Lincoln did by issuance of the Greenback was to put the backing of greenback solely based on the credibility of the U.S. Government. Much like it is today. Those Greenbacks back then was largely what financed the Civil War and subsequently making the first industrial revolution possible.

Today, our floundering US dollar is precariously close to falling off as the world’s reserve currency. The main reason is that we still have our currency solely backed up by the credulity of our government. The Federal Reserve continues to print fresh “Greenbacks” and loans the money with interest it to the US government. It is the interest that is making Wall Street and the Federal Reserve wealthier at the expense of the US economy. Think of the Qualitative Easing the Fed did following the financial disaster of 2008. All that did was enrich the power brokers while main street continues to languish in financial distress.

When Lincoln assumed office he already understood that the outcome of the war would be largely determined by the resources of the North. Lincoln also understood the importance of raising enough funds to effectively carry out the war effort. With this in mind Lincoln on the day after his inauguration nominated Salmon P. Chase to be Secretary of the Treasury. Secretary Chase alone was authorized by Lincoln to act on all matters pertaining to the country’s finances. Chase, like most everyone else at the time, underestimated the severity of the War in terms of its duration and cost.

Confronted with the expenses of war, the Lincoln Administration sought loans from New York bankers, most of whom were fronts for, or connected to, European bankers. Given the very high interest rates of 24 to 36 percent, President Lincoln refused to accept the terms of the loans and called for other solutions. Colonel Edmund D. Taylor of Illinois made the suggestion that the U.S. government could issue its own money. Taylor is quoted as saying: “Just get Congress to pass a bill authorizing the printing of full legal tender treasury notes and pay your soldiers with them and go ahead and win your war with them also. If you make them full legal tender they will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money.” The express right by the Constitution gives Congress under the Treasury Department the right to print legal tender. We have to remember too that this was in a time of war and the Federal Reserve didn’t come into existence until 1913.

The idea to print Greenback based on the government’s credibility was not Lincoln’s idea originally, but with mounting pressure in Congress to accept the plan the President was quick to endorse it. The government could either print its own money or lead the country into to perpetual debt at the hands of European banks. On February 25, 1862, Congress passed the first Legal Tender Act, which authorized the printing of $150 million in Treasury notes. Printed on only one side with green ink. The bills were soon became known as “greenbacks”. These United States Notes or “greenbacks” represented receipts for labor and goods delivered to the United States. They could be traded in the community for an equivalent value of goods or services. The union used this money to keep the economy stable and help to pay for the war. There are at least two types of notes that were called greenbacks. They were referred to as: United States Notes and the Demand Note.

What Abraham Lincoln did was prove that the US government could issue it’s own currency and not the major banks that were intent on reaping billions of dollars in interest loans to the government in funding the civil War. The Greenback was proof that Lincoln understood the dangers of having currency loaned to the government at high interest rates. He knew that with interest rates with loaned money would be putting the United States deeper in debt. Sounding familiar, it should because today with the Federal Reserve in play that is exactly what is driving this nations debt even higher.

Jackson, Lincoln, Garfield and Kennedy all knew the dangers of money loaned to the government with high interest as the real cause of the United States national debt. A debt that will only continue to fester and push this countries ability to prosper further away from becoming a reality. In other words the United States economic and financial stability continues to be in very serious jeopardy. Today, it is also important to note that this nations debt and without the gold standard in play is the main reason why disposable incomes are at all time lows.

After the battle of Gettysburg Congress repealed the Legal Tender Act and restored the previous gold and silver backed currency loaned by major Banks with interest to the US government. It was the influence of the banks that swayed congress to repeal the Legal Tender Act. And, just like the Rothschilde’s who controlled the Bank of England have now gained control of much of the United States financial policies. Today, it is the Federal Reserve and Wall Street financiers that control the monetary policies of the US and to a great deal too many members of Congress as well.

With the understanding of our banking system we come away with the realization that Americans future is tied to the debt of this nation. A debt that only continues to grow. With past and current wars around the world along the present Administration total ignorance of the financial crisis we are in has put this nation’s future very much at risk. It could be arguably said that when President Nixon took the dollar off of the gold standard in 1972 was the financial blunder and is like a death sentence of the US dollar.

On August 15th was the 47th anniversary of President Nixon’s financial blunder. The blunder that severed the final link between the dollar and gold. It has been said that no other single action by Nixon had a more profound and irreparable effect on the American people. Up until that time a dollar was worth 1/35th of an ounce of gold. When Nixon took us off the gold standard was the beginning of the worst 47 years in American economic history. And it looks that the next 40 years will be a continuation of the first 47 years.

What Nixon did was promise by taking this action, the requirement of maintaining the dollar’s value in terms of gold would empower the Federal Reserve to use monetary policy to increase the general prosperity of the American people. We were also promised that the manipulation of quantity and value of a dollar would avoid costly recessions, provide high employment and produce economic growth. On the international level we were also promised that the devaluation of the dollar would reduce our trade deficit and improve the overall economy.

Since 1972 we have suffered numerous recessions and the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. Our unemployment rates have fluctuated from a high of over 15% to now around 5.5%. The sad reality though wages have plummeted in relation to the cost of living. Our economic performance since 1972 has been dismal compared to the economic boom we had following World War II up until 1972.

Economic growth has averaged just under 3% for the past 47 years. Had the gold standard survived our economic growth would have risen to over 4% or even higher. We have to point out that 4% economic growth rate always yields higher employment and higher wages. A 3% growth rate only maintains the status-quo and a $8.5 trillion smaller economy. All this means that had Nixon kept the gold standard medium family incomes would be 50% higher today, or about equivalent to around $75,000 annually.

This also means that the tax base for all federal, state and local governments would not be experiencing the budget shortfalls that are currently plaguing every budget across the country. The fiscal challenges we currently are facing would be negated and our economic future would be allot more stable and secure. It has been for the past 47 years that the dollar has fallen in value by more than 75% and we still have over $400 billion trade deficit.

When we look back prior to 1972 a dollar then only goes as far as $.20 today. And, with little reason to believe that the dollar will maintain even this paltry value, the average American family is left with no meaningful way to save for their children’s education or their own retirement. Millions of Americans today are faced with financial insecurity and little hope that their economic fortunes will turn around.

Having a gold standard is necessary for maintaining the buying power of the dollar. From 1948 to 1967 inflation was less than 2%. Interest rates were low averaging less than 4% which provided a reasonable cost to borrowers and a fair return to savers. Today, inflation rates keep rising every year. It is also interesting to note that had the dollar kept it’s value to 1/35th of an ounce of gold a barrel of oil would sell for less than $2.50. The whole notion of the energy crisis and the more intrusive government regulation dictating usage are based on the illusion that the price of oil has gone up more than 30 times when in fact it is the dollar whose value has fallen relative to gold, oil, and all other goods and services over the past 47 years.

The United States has suffered a most debilitating economic and financial crisis since 1972. The deviation from a sound dollar today can and must be corrected if we are ever to regain the economic growth and prosperity similar to what this nation experience for the 30 years prior to 1972. Many of the baby boomer generation have recollections of how their parents handled financial affairs. Disposable incomes were plentiful and that dollar went so much farther than it does today all because the dollar was backed up by gold.

A much different set of circumstances exist today. More sober, more unsettling, and even a more sinister approach has taken over the majority of families spending habits has arisen. The greenback is not worth what it was compared to back in the early 1960’s. To restore the value of the dollar and reestablish it’s true worth is to have the gold standard reinstated whereby every fiscal transaction is geared to insure that more disposable incomes are available for all. The surest way is to like Lincoln did is to have the Treasury and not the Bank of New York or today’s Federal Reserve print those all important greenbacks, interest free.

From Bookkeeping to Strategic Advisory: A Growth Switch for Accounting Professionals

Bookkeeping is mostly about data entry, and digitization of processes in every field is replacing the manual work. Now, client requirements have changed to financial advice rather than just compliance reporting. Thus it becomes imperative for accounting professionals to change their approach and increase their value in the upcoming business market. Advanced software integrated with technology provides an easy-to-use platform like QuickBooks cloud hosting that has already altered accounting processes.

The rapidly changing accounting industry will bring about many challenges and opportunities for accountants and their clients as well. Seizing the chance one should prepare themselves to confidently offer their advisory services as per requirements. But the trouble arises when you are not sure of the best way to do it.

The key here is to implement an effective business process that will guide your day-to-day activities to build up profitable advisory services.

1. Do not limit your services and expertise.

Create a standard business process that can be applied to all types of clients, no matter of which industry. Going niche may be the current hype, but that means your specialization should be a narrow category. Going forward with only a niche accounting process can be a success, but its scope has to be managed well. The ideal way is to be flexible with the clientele and not industry specific for standardized services, but gain specialization in your niche.

2. Keep your work scalable and fruitful.

Design your process with the understanding that all cannot be done in a month. Also, the work you do must be scalable and profitable. For that, you must deliver a decent amount of business guidance to your client every month. Not all, but enough. It is wise to create a list or a menu of extra services that can be provided at an extra rate.

3. Selling your services.

Everything boils down to this – sales and client satisfaction. Build a process that includes built-in steps for selling and customer engagement as a task. This involves everyone in your firm to successfully engage with and make sales to clients.

Establishing your financial advisory business model needs a manageable scope for focus. Outline on what you can deliver to your clients each month. Create a clear pricing model corresponding to each task. Lastly, build an infrastructure with the help of tools and software to support your business model.

The Current Scenario

A survey was conducted to quantify their firm’s share of revenue that comes from advisory or consultancy work. The results were surprising.

Almost half of the accountants said that advisory tasks amount to just 10 percent of the total revenue. But the desired rate is to be at least 40 percent. There is a huge gap in the numbers, but to be successful in the future, that gap has to be filled.

Our education system prepares and trains accounting professionals with the sole focus on technical skills. Proficiency in these skills makes you an expert, but not a strategic advisor. When dealing with clients, one can easily start to explain accounting steps and process rather than strategies that the client needs to implement for growth and profit.

Advisory may seem simple, but it is a whole different ballpark of which we do not have a lot of insight. Strategic advising means connecting with clients and gaining enough leverage to influence them to take actions that improve results.

For a successful shift into advisory and building a firm that is ready for future challenges, you need to acquire the set of tools, talented people, and a mindset that is largely dependent on soft skills. Your job will be to advise and not do the work.

As an expert advisor, your role is to ask questions and identify challenges in the business that are causing stress financially, or strategically. Once you know the point of stress, an action plan can be created that will eliminate the problem and prevent it from occurring in the future.

Small Business Management Software: Advantages For Accounting Firms

Managing an accounting firm, whether big or small, can be challenging. And, doing it all alone, only adds more to the challenges. If you wish to turn your business into a soaring success, a slew of factors needs to come into play; at the right time, at the right place.

Small Business Management Software is one such factor that helps to take your business to another level.

Small business owners usually believe in taking things in their own hands. Naturally, it saves money. However, this practice may be doing more harm to their business than anything else. If your office desk is covered in piles of sheets, paperwork from days is lying unattended and your staying up late in office is not taking you anywhere, then it’s time to seek professional help.

What Can Small Business Management Software System Do For You?

1. Saves You More Time At Hand

Surveys reveal that entrepreneurs who do not use computerized accounting struggle with management of their accounts. Using a business management software system can take control of an array of routine tasks. Thus, saving a lot of time for the owner’s benefit.

2. Can Be Learnt Quickly

The software developers understand how occupied entrepreneurs and business owners can be. Hence the software is constructed in such a way as to ensure that the users can learn to use them with ease and in the least possible time. A team of experienced technicians is also available for 24*7 assistance.

3. Generates Invoice From The Same Application

Business management software will streamline the follow ups. With everything at one place, owners can manage sales in an effective manner. Price quotes and invoices can be generated easily with low possibility of errors.

4. Allows You To Follow a Time Table

A business requires an array of tasks to be managed at the same time. There may be meetings, deliveries, queries and client/customer visits all happening at the same time. With an inbuilt calendar in the business management application, reminders can be set and appointments can be met, without a miss.

5. Leaves You Less Paperwork To Deal With

Once again, the application allows the owners to store everything at one location. All work-related files, whether invoice, price quotes, orders, shipping documents and customer’s emails can be stored into the system. These files can be accessed anytime, anywhere, without unwanted delays.

6. Ensures Better Management Of Your Projects

A business owner has several projects at hand. There may be meetings to attend to, prospective clients waiting, a price list to create or an inventory to stock. The project management tools offered by the small business management software can offer a great deal of help in project management.

7. Employee Performance Can be Tracked Regularly

Business management software also allows you to track your employee performance with real-time data. Information including performance report of each individual employee, KPIs, project status, etc. can all be reviewed on a crisp dashboard within a few clicks.

8. Less Issues To Handle At The Year End

The best part about the business management software is that they need the users to update information every month. This ensures that there will not be piles of untended paperwork at the end of the year.

9. Scale As You Grow

The cloud-based accounting software is a rage among start-ups and growing businesses. When expanding the business in size or introducing it to other countries, a slew of data is required at one place. The cloud-based software can be accessed anytime and anywhere via the internet, making business management simpler.

10. Carry Your Books With You

With the software available in the form of applications, installable at both android and IOs, users can carry all of their files, sheets, and data in their pockets. Thus enjoying the ease of access and saving time at the same time.

11. Individually Calculate Tax On Each Invoice

Small business management software makes it easier to manage the invoices. The regular customer payment reports allow the owners to get a reliable picture of what the customers owe and what they need to pay. Thus, profits can be tracked efficiently.

And Finally

Discussed above are the proven advantages of using a Small Business Accounting Software. But the benefits do not end here. Each user comes with his own set of needs, thus the benefits cannot be limited only to a list.