Friday, 3 November 2017

20 Fastest-growing Skills for Freelancers - 2017

Here are fastest-growing skills for freelancers in 2017 according to Upwork Skill Index. Other skills like Website building, Graphics designing, Accounting and bookkeeping, Inventory management, Content writing, Digital and Social media marketing, Compliance management are still in demand.
Virtual reality has made it to the list for the very first time along with a growing demand for AI (Artificial Intelligence) related skills.
20 Fastest-growing skills for Freelancers in 2017

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

6 Tips to Pay Off Mortgage & Loans at A Faster Rate


If you are someone who has recently purchased a home or has credit card loans to pay, then this one is for you. 

Purchasing a house is a fantasy and now that you have one, you must aim at paying mortgage faster. Mortgages are payable in installments over a 30-year period. This, not the only option available. People often panic looking at the number of installments they must pay. The loan is payable before that and does not lock you down for 30 years. Prepayment charges may apply.

Many people wish to pay the mortgage off as early as possible, as it makes sense. Paying it off builds up equity and enables another investment. Follow the tips mentioned here, and you will be able to cut down the 30-year term by at least half. The tips may sound difficult to follow, but you can pay the mortgage off faster by using them.

Here are 6 tips to pay off the mortgage at a faster rate:

1. Budget & Save
It is best to start now, by keeping track of spending; record all expenses. Make a budget and ration every dollar of earnings to specific categories. Divide the money towards savings and expenses. Write a budget plan down and create a cash envelope system to control expenditure.

Cut down all small expenses like coffee and hunt for bargains. Take advantage of thrift shops, coupons, and clothing sale.

Once you have cut down on expenses and begun saving money, stash away cash as an emergency fund. Build up at least $1000 to fall back on, which may take 6 months. Leave it unless there is a major financial crisis. Sell your car, if you do not need one, or drive less, walk more or take public transport. Try to cook at home rather than eat out.

2. Downsize or Monetize
Make big cuts in the budget like on housing, transportation, and food. These will make a big impact on the net earnings and eventually the ‘bottom-line’. Downsize to a less expensive, smaller home, if possible. You may choose to monetize it by getting a roommate and use the rental income to pay off the mortgage.

3. Make More Payments
Monetize on skills or talents and increase your monthly income. Many people choose to freelance or moonlight. If you get a bonus, refund, or raise, use that extra cash or income to pay towards the mortgage installments. Pay the monthly installments by going beyond the minimum payment amount each month. You can do this in three ways:

a. Make one extra payment once a year. This will shorten the mortgage by a few years. Divide the amount and pay it in 12 installments or in 24 installments by paying twice a month.

b. If the extra payment sounds big, then round up the payments to pay a few extra dollars.

c. Increase the amount every month, or after every six months and maintain it. You can choose to increment by an ’x’ amount, which could be $5, $20, $50, $100 or whatever is possible. This will save you from paying more interest.

4. Get Inexpensive Homeowner’s Insurance
Shop around for the best and the lowest homeowner’s insurance premium rates. Bundle up auto- and home insurance to your advantage at a lower rate or a higher deductible. Low insurance premiums reduce the mortgage payments. However, if you continue paying the amount as before, then you will be able to pay off the mortgage at a faster rate.

5. Refinance Your Mortgage
Shop around to refinance and convert the 30-year mortgage to a 15-year-loan at a fixed rate. This will pay off the mortgage in half-time. Moreover, you will pay less interest in the 15 years as compared to 30 years. If it is possible to increase the installment amount, refinance and pay off the mortgage in 10 years.

Do not choose an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) as the interest rate will keep changing, in favor of the bank. There will be extra transaction and closing costs when you refinance.

Moreover, if it sounds risky, then pay the amount as if you have refinanced. This will give you flexibility, in the case of an emergency or financial crisis. You must not fall back on the older payment amount if you want to clear off the mortgage amount faster. This will need discipline.

6. Merge All Debts and Use Equity
Protect yourself from the increasing interest rates by consolidating several unsecured debts. Consolidate credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, payday loans can into one bill. When the home loan interest rate rises, it affects the interest rate of all. Moreover, the interest rate on credit cards and personal loans are higher than on home loans.

If you have already paid off some amount of debt, then you would have accumulated some equity. It is the difference between the current property value and the amount you owe. Use this equity to re-borrow and pay towards the mortgage.

There may be other options or deals available. Keep an eye open for such deals and take advantage of them. You will be able to pay off your mortgage at a faster rate.

References

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spend or Save? How & Why You Should Do Either


Have you thought about how you handle money the way you do? You may be a ‘saver’ and feel immense pleasure in knowing the amount saved and feel discomfort when spending. On the other hand, you may be an impulsive shopaholic and pay little attention to the future needs. Saving and spending are two sides of the same coin. This is a tricky dilemma for many, as our fathers and forefathers may tell us to save enough for the future. 

However, it is okay to spend a little and enjoy the short life we have. Most people are nervous about spending money and outliving their money. According to Warren Buffet, “Spend what is left after saving”.

Here are 3 reasons why you should ‘Save’.

Financial Independence

Being rich depends on who you talk to. Moreover, for many people “being rich or wealthy” means having financial independence. It means a heart and mind free from all ‘What-ifs’ of life and savings to depend on. Financial freedom means having the liberty to make life’s choices and remaining wealthy. This is possible with the knowledge about money.

For many, it could mean the ability to go on a vacation whenever you want or having the option to leave work and go back to school or start your own business. Financial independence means having the potential and capability to invest in someone else’s business. To someone else, it may mean taking up a less financially beneficial but a satisfying job. It would mean retiring with a less stressful, secure life with enough reserves for the future.

Financial independence does not depend on a pay cheque. It makes you feel rich beyond imagination. Moreover, it gives you the ability to live a lifestyle you desire. You would not need to rely on anyone for money or work for it.

Unforeseen Expenses & Emergencies

The savings often come handy at the time of emergencies or unforeseen expenses like car repairs, home, and appliance repairs or illness. A recent study by Bankrate suggests, 41% people turn to savings in case of sudden costs. They do not rely on banks to lend them money for such expenses. It is often better to anticipate and prepare for such situations. As many as 28% of the silent generation take care of surprise expenses and use credit cards to pay for it.

Emergencies happen and are usually untimely. For example, A member of the family may fall ill, you may need to travel, harsh weather conditions may cause damage to property or a funeral. These emergencies are big-ticket, and so it is better to equip ourselves, be self-sufficient and self-reliant if possible rather than become a target.

To Have a Good Life

Living from day-to-day or pay cheque to pay cheque is stressful - emotionally, psychologically and physically. When people don’t save, it is imminent, they often run from “crisis” to “crisis.”
Happiness comes from organizing and planning. However, it does not mean that just organizing everything will make us happy, nevertheless, it helps. When the future is uncertain, putting aside savings, taking charge of future and any financial apprehensions are organizing. Saving will make you better off in the future.

Here are three reasons you must ‘Spend’.

Make More Money

Spending money is imperative and when you spend intelligently you can earn more money. More earnings help in saving more. It is a cycle. You do not need to spend all your earnings, that will be foolish. We save to spend and enjoy life so the main idea is to save and spend wisely.

Spending money on important things is imperative, like buying a house.

Live Life’s Experiences

We earn money to spend, but it depends on what you would choose to spend on. Many people spend money on gaining life’s experiences. This could be by traveling, cruising or adventure sports and creating wonderful memories, like photographs and souvenirs.

Living life ‘Today’

Most important of all the reasons to spend is the reason to live life ‘today’. You will save for tomorrow, how about spending money for today? Living life 'today' is important. Life is knotty when lessening debt - ‘cut expenses, spend small, save more’. However, that does not mean you will not spend money to live a penny-pinching life. This necessitates spending on today and preparing for tomorrow.

When you take steps to spend wisely, you will make more money to save more. If you begin today by keeping aside some money from each pay cheque in a savings account, you will have reserve funds up to $1,000 and more with time. Put aside bonuses and refunds as savings and as life transpires, funds may dip. You need to build it up with some work.

Spend and/or save enthusiastically and welcomingly, else you will miss out on the great benefits of saving and spending wisely.

References

http://cashmoneylife.com/spending-money-is-good/

Friday, 24 February 2017

Web Services Make Life Easier


Applications running locally on a computer device - desktop or laptop computer, are limited by hardware and OS requirements.

Imagine this. If you were to download all applications for use which will eventually slow down the system, and require upgrades consistently, this is not only time-consuming but expensive too.

Businesses will often run into tangible costs and frustration among users (technical or non-technical), especially, if the applications are ineffective or cannot be integrated with existing business software to meet the requirement.

Fortunately, today, with the advancement in technology, availability of higher internet bandwidth and connectivity, web services offer integration of standalone desktop applications without downloading them onto the device, on the web browser.

The web services provide an online runtime environment which supports these plug-in apps, built in different programming languages, to run across platforms - Windows, Mac or Linux, as well as any mobile device.

Using web services, businesses can deploy the applications cost effectively, allowing access anywhere. It is possible to customize them on a range of devices and offer greater levels of interoperability, and easing maintenance of applications. Moreover, they help in adapting to heavier workloads in an extremely secure environment.

These benefits lower the overall cost to businesses as one pays only for the services and applications used in the cloud. Moreover, the applications can be accessed as and when required which reduces the overall implementation time and technical complexities.

The applications offered by the web services can be easily integrated into the existing systems thus reducing the overhead costs, eventually, allowing businesses to scale globally with the available budget in no time.

There are lots of web services some of them are rollApp, Appetize, Cameyo, Manymo, and Turbo. They offer services with some dissimilarities to make life easy for businesses as well as individuals.

rollApp, Cameyo, and Turbo.net have a lot of applications like Chrome, Skype, VLC Media Player, SketchUp, Games, Animators etc. that can be easily accessed by signing in. Pick an application that you would like to try, and use it without downloading the application after specifying the basics like storage and cloud requirements. Here is a rundown on these web services.

rollApp lets you run any desktop application, work with files and get things done from the browser of your choice - Firefox, Chrome, Safari - or in the cloud with some storage options.
rollApp offers 250+ applications
Cameyo offers virtualization for Windows applications to run on any other device. Turbo.net 
Cameyo creates portable versions of Windows applications
Turbo.net is available as a web-based service and an on-site server and is OS dependent - Windows.
Turbo is a repository for 1000+ applications in various categories
Appetize.io and Manymo work like emulators for Android and iOS applications. 

Use Manymo when you wish to emulate Android apps, embed apps in websites or develop them, collaborate and use to automate testing as well as for quality assurance.
Manymo is an Android emulator
Appetize.io is for iOS & Android application previews. You can even make use of it for training purposes, customer support, testing, and demonstrations of applications.
Appetize.io is an emulator for iOS & Android applications

What is the use of such web services?

  • Test or use the application on any device - Access desktop applications from mobile devices
  • Use the applications from the browser
  • They can be integrated with cloud storage like Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive, or Box
  • Perfect for iPad and Chromebook
  • Package large, complex software packages into single standalone executable files with portability options
All in all, there's no reason why you should not be testing any of these web services. Even if you wish to test and see whether a specific application can satisfy your needs before you invest into it.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Electric Cars You Will Plug-In Soon - 2017


Electric cars have been around for a few years and are being considered by the public in place of petrol and diesel ones. This year the electric cars will continue to be the talk of the town. The electric car companies had a great year in 2016, the trend seems to continue as the plug-in market warms up.

Car companies are investing in the electric car technology. This calculates to smaller and lighter batteries and increased battery range. This interprets as a reduction in the battery charge time and more public charging points.

Electric vehicles (EV) are not for everyone because of the purchase price. Car manufacturers are aiming at 50% new electric car sales by 2027. They will get cheaper and faster, with better range. Two major advantages electric cars have been its low running cost and absence of poisonous emissions. The electric car companies are now competing against each other for better range.

Here is a list of the 10 Electric Car Companies to look out for in 2017 in no particular order:

1.    Chrysler
Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid is a family minivan, useful and comfortable. It is the first of the kind, a plug-in hybrid electric minivan. The Pacifica Hybrid switches over to gas after running 33 miles at 84 MPGe (Miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) in the electric mode.

2.    Hyundai
Hyundai’s ionic EV is unique and good for commuting. It is stylish with a choice of the power trains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric version. It can travel 174 miles on fully-charged batteries and 150 miles within the city. This puts it ahead of the EV’s in the competition making it one car, you would want to opt for.

3.    Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid SUV. It epitomizes the next generation of electric cars. The hybrid SUV is fuel efficient, has a third row for 7 riders, and is quieter than ever at 25 - 30 MPG. There is no reason to expect less from this EV.

4.    GM
GM’s all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV is spacious, quick and fun to drive. Its fully-charged DC electric batteries cover 238 miles. This is first long-range EV at an affordable price.

5.    NextEV
The Chinese brand NextEV claims NIO EP9 is a bold, sexy and stylish electric vehicle. It is the world’s fastest EV at 127 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds. The supercar is a splendid piece of engineering, making headlines by being the fifth fastest at 195 mph.

6.    BMW
Innovative in design, BMW’s i3 hatchback use high-tech construction techniques. It is different and unlike many electric cars by being low weight and strong. The BMW's i3's official range is 195-mile where its low residuals and running cost make up for the price.

7.    Volkswagen
The brand that reassures buyer’s safety with the e-Golf variant, along with style appeal. Volkswagen's e-golf is similar in design to its traditional sibling except for some badges and stylish blue flashes. This model will run at an 186-mile range and 125-mile range in the real world. The e-Golf's range is better in comparison to the previous model’s range at 115 miles.

8.    Nissan
Nissan’s Leaf has revolutionized electric vehicles. It has been quite successful, gracing the roads around the globe. This quirky-looking hatchback is quick and responsive, with a reasonable 124-mile range. Its battery recharges to full charge in 3 – 8 hours for an economical drive.

9.    Ford
Ford Focus Electric is like the gasoline-powered model. The hatchback will appeal the masses, due to its traditional styling with a 70 to 100-mile range. Launched in 2012, Ford's Focus Electric in 2017 comes with a lower price tag and 115-mile range. The battery will charge faster. However, it looks compromised compared to purpose-built EV.

10.    Tesla
A company that is well-known for electric cars is Tesla, its Model 3 is the most awaited EV. At a relate-able price tag, it will soon be a reality for those wanting to own an EV. It will compete with Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf.

References:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Five Tips Guarantee Payment from Clients, Freelancers

Like I promised you will read on how to combat non-paying clients, here is the blog.

Many newbie professionals freelance and often get stiffed on payment in the beginning. It is common and frustrating for small-time business owners. You may feel unappreciated, worn down, creates self-doubt.
You may think getting stiffed may be because ‘you are a newbie and do not have a business mind’, or ‘your work is not good’. Mind you, it is because you let someone take advantage of you.
Ann Landers once said ‘No one can take advantage of you without your consent,’
It is time to analyze the situation and rectify it. If you are a professional the opposite party must see it in everything you do.

Analyze your situation

If you have been ripped off several times, it is time for a ‘Check’. Analyze everything that’s happening-
1.    Are you delivering what is required of you?
2.    Do you meet deadlines?
3.    Do you have return clients?
4.    Are you professional?
If any of these are negative, it is time to change the way you do things. The most important thing is to learn from mistakes. Change your approach if you want to continue freelancing.
If all of these pointers are positive, you just need to implement right work and pricing principles. No one needs a business mind to get paid for their work.
Avoid getting ripped off again by implementing payment policies and a contract. Ask for a deposit and for the balance amount at completion before you submit the work.
Get a good boilerplate contract template for your business. Send the contract and ask the client to sign and return. It will not only set you as a professional but also establish a great working relationship with your client.

The psychology behind asking for a deposit

When you ask for a deposit, the client views you as professional with payment policies in place. They will respect you and your work. This will set the right expectations. This lets them know the way you work. The deposit binds the client without which there is no commitment from the client for the project.
Ethically, 30% deposit is good. You must mention this to all your clients, a deposit is
required to get started on the project, even if they are close relatives. It may sound a little strange, however, you will get used to it.
If the client is not ready for a deposit, do not commit your time when they are not ready to commit to the project, only the serious ones will. This weeds out the non-paying clients.
When they do not make a deposit, let them know you will start only after they pay. Be professional and friendly by telling them they can call when they are ready.
Some clients may give you other excuses like - ‘they do not have the money now’ (and may never have it).
Some clients may not wish to pay a deposit; it is wise to avoid working with them. You can let them know they can contact you when they are ready to pay a deposit.
In some industries, if you have been working for less than 2 years, you may need to prove yourself. If you have been in the industry for more than 5 years, the clients can call your references. You don’t have to prove your worth and ability.

Learning from mistakes

Here is a simple guideline you can follow, so you can always get paid:
1.    Include the pricing in your Email and allow leeway to add in case of change in scope
2.    In case, you work with some materials subject to change or a change in your situation may lead to higher prices, add a date of validity on the price and ‘subject to change’ clause
3.    Begin working after you receive deposit from the client
4.    Send frequent updates to the client
5.    When you complete the project, send them a draft or a snapshot so they can arrange for the final payment


No freelancer would want to work hard and not get paid neither do you want to lose potential work. It is better to implement solutions, policies and avoid getting ripped off, ever again.