PayPal Accounts for Nearly Half of All Digital Wallet Complaints in the US, Almost 4,500 in the Last Four Years

Over the last four years, consumer complaints about digital wallets and mobile payment apps in the United States surged as more and more Americans choose cashless payments.

PayPal Accounts for Nearly Half of All Digital Wallet Complaints in the US, Almost 4,500 in the Last Four Years

Between April 2017 and April 2021, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received nearly 9,300 complaints related to mobile or digital wallets, and the majority of them aimed at one platform.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, PayPal accounts for nearly half of all digital wallet complaints in the United States, almost 4,500 in the last four years.

PayPal Received 2x More Complaints than Square and Coinbase Combined

As one of the first and most significant players in the digital payments landscape, PayPal witnessed impressive growth since the pandemic struck. More than 67 million people started using its services in the last year alone, with the total number of users rising to nearly 400 million.

Unsurprisingly, given its wide user base, PayPal had the most complaints of all companies providing digital payment services in the United States. Between April 2017 and April 2021, PayPal received 4,431 digital wallet complaints, or two times more than Square and Coinbase combined, revealed the US Public Interest Research Group data. Furthermore, statistics showed most of them were related to managing, opening or closing a mobile wallet account.

Square came second with over 1,200 complaints in this period, with unauthorized transactions as the top issue.

The digital wallet service for buying cryptos, Coinbase, ranked third with a total of 755 complaints related to digital wallets or nearly six times less than PayPal. PNC and JPMorgan Chase &Co. round the top five list with 594 and 324 received complaints, respectively.

Total Number of Digital Wallet Complaints Surged by 5,200 in a Year

Although the number of digital wallet complaints has been constantly growing since 2017, the last year set a new record.

Statistics indicate that between April 2017 and April 2021, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received a total of 9,277 complaints related to mobile or digital wallets. More than 1,000 complaints were received in the first year. However, in the year preceding April 2021, the number of complaints surged to 5,200 or nearly 60% of all complaints received in this period.

Statistics also revealed there were 970 complaints in April 2021 alone, nearly double the previous complaint peak in July 2020.

The global shift towards a cashless society and the surge in the use of mobile wallets are expected to continue driving the rising number of complaints. In 2021, mobile wallets are set to become a $2.5trn worth industry, growing by a massive 25% year-on-year. Nearly 20% of the total transaction value or $468.1bn will be generated in the United States.

The full story can be read here: https://stockapps.com/blog/2021/07/27/paypal-accounts-for-nearly-half-of-all-digital-wallet-complaints-in-the-us-almost-4500-in-the-last-four-years/

Top 8 Factors to Consider When Selecting Financial Advisors

Need a hand with setting financial goals? If so, if you’re really not alone, especially since there are almost $90 trillion of international assets under management right now. Not sure how to find an expert with financial advising experience? To tell you the truth, finding the right professional to help you handle your finances requires knowing your options. Take a look at a few factors to consider when selecting financial advisors below!

1. The Suitability Standard 

If you’re looking for a financial advisor who will put your needs first, consider this. Financial advisory firms that meet the suitability standard address and disclose any “conflict of interest” they may have when representing you. On the bright side, most financial advisory firms will put this down in writing for future reference.

Besides this, it’s also essential to think about whether or not your firm is an RIA, or Registered Investment Advisor. That’s because they are held to a higher standard as well!

2. Upfront and Clear Fees

Let’s be honest. No one wants to work with a financial advisor who isn’t clear about their fees. That being said, figuring out the total cost of getting your portfolio together can be a difficult and confusing task.

On the other hand, finding a financial advisor you can trust means that they will be more than happy to break down all of their fees for you.

This can include everything from:

  • Hourly financial planning fees
  • Fees for managing your portfolio
  • Other hidden fees

Once you’ve made sure that all of your financial fees are as transparent as possible, you should be good to go.

3. Accurate Performance Reports 

Now that we’ve got that covered, it’s also essential that your financial advisor of choice provides accurate performance reports. That’s because user-friendly transaction and holdings reports are the keys to managing your portfolio successfully.

To get started, you must decide whether you like to receive your reports on a:

  • Monthly basis
  • Quarterly basis
  • Semi-annual basis

We highly recommend that the more you review your financial portfolio, the better!

4. A Simple Investment Process

When you’ve found the right financial advisor for you, the next step is to ask them what their process for investments is. For instance, they may let you know which investment vehicles are products that will work in your favour.

In addition to this, your financial advisor should also let you know whether not you need to make any changes to your existing investment portfolio. Besides this, they may also ask you about your primary contact information.

In exchange, we encourage you to ask your financial advisor about their professional credentials and experience as well.

5. An Independent Custodian 

Additionally, you should ask your financial advisor if they use independent custodians like:

  • Charles Schwab
  • Fidelity
  • TD Ameritrade

In case you didn’t know, independent custodians are great for providing additional asset reviews and records aside from your financial advisor. They’re also helpful in protecting your account from any fraudulent activity! 

6. Honest Offerings and Services

You should also clearly understand the level of service that your financial advisor will offer. For instance, email and ask them if financial planning is included in their initial package. Also, find out what kind of financial planning software they use and whether or not you will have access to it. Believe it or not, this can potentially make or break your deal as well.

To get the ball rolling, here are a few more questions that you should ask your financial advisor:

  • Do they schedule weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings?
  • How long will it take to hear back from them?
  • Do they provide investment offerings for beginners?

Once you learn more about the financial services that you are looking for, picking the best financial advisor for you should be a piece of cake.

7. Events and Education 

Another important thing to consider is whether your financial advisor provides any educational events. This is particularly helpful if you’re interested in learning and understanding your overall financial portfolio.

To get started, be sure to ask your financial advisory firm if they will take the time to answer any questions you may have during your regularly scheduled meetings. Also, you can ask them if they will continue to educate you on your financial portfolio as time goes on. Finally, covering complex topics such as asset management is vital to your success as well.

8. Life Transitions

Last but not least, do your best to choose a financial advisor who puts your life transitions as their top priority. This can include common event such as:

  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Getting divorced
  • Losing loved ones

Ask your financial advisor if they have any experience dealing with customers who are going through difficult life changes. 

If so, what did they do to help them? As long as you feel comfortable opening up to your advisor, you should be in a good position to put your finances in their hands!

Why Hire a Financial Advisor?

Sometimes, going through a major life event is enough to make you want to rethink your personal finances. Typically, this type of event will include some sort of major gain or loss of money.

So that’s why it’s important to seek a financial advisor if you are:

  • Close to retirement age
  • Receiving an inheritance
  • Getting married soon
  • Going through a divorce
  • Lost a partner
  • Helping your parents with their finances
  • Unsure of how investing works
  • Looking for a “second opinion”

Now that we’ve got that covered, choose your advisor wisely!

Selecting Financial Advisors Is Simple 

Having a hard time finding the perfect financial advisor for you?

Here’s the thing: When it comes to selecting financial advisors, the process shouldn’t be complicated. Fortunately for you, we are here to help.

From comparing advisor fees to reading references and reviews, we’ve got everything you need to succeed. If you’re finally ready to talk to your advisor, don’t forget to read our handy guide first!

Looking for my financial and banking help?

If yes, don’t hesitate to read more of our blog right away.

Make Smart Investing Choices With These UK Stock Market Tips

It’s been a tumultuous year for the UK stock market to say the least. Between Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, March led to some record-breaking highs and lows in the FTSE 100 due to global uncertainty. While some stock exchanges have recovered significantly, the UK stock exchange remains burdened. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are still many ways to make smart and safe investments on the London stock exchange in 2021. We’ve put together our best stock market tips to help you know how to invest with confidence.

Knowledge is Power

We’ll start with a note for newcomers, although it could also serve as a reminder for the veterans of the exchange. Due to all the hype and chaos around the potential GME short squeeze, many new investors entered the market this year. 

This is great news that more people feel empowered to invest, but it’s so important that investors have the knowledge they need to invest well.

By this, we don’t mean knowing everything there is to know about each stock and where it will go. Nobody knows this and anyone who says they do is kidding themselves. What we mean is you need to understand the terminology and mechanics of the UK stock market. 

Know your terminology and particularly synonyms for all the different buzzwords. Know which companies pay dividends. Know your different market indices.

One of the most important things to understand and accept is that past performance does not guide future returns. While analysing previous share performance and market performance can give us great insight, that’s all. They don’t guarantee the future of the market or a certain stock.

The LSE Is Unique

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, with a market value of more than £2 trillion. It’s one of the oldest exchanges in the world and comes with unique benefits and risks.

We’ll start with the good news. Because of its age and stature, the LSE is a financial hub. It’s an advanced financial market.

This makes the securities market both very liquid and stable for investors. For those looking to exchange outside the New York Stock Exchange, the LSE is one of the best options.

It’s also home to some of the largest blue chip companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever and AstraZeneca. This comes with security, so investing in the LSE comes with less risk than other financial markets worldwide. 

It’s not all good news though. The political risks of Britain are unique. While the entire world has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, only the UK has the additional risk of Brexit.

Though we’ve left and absorbed the initial hit and consequences, economic uncertainty remains. Not least, as Scotland and N.I polls both continue to show voters wish to leave the UK and rejoin the EU. 

Politics aside, the UK economy is a service economy. This is common for developed countries and in good times can mean more stability. But in more volatile times, commodity prices and consumer credit changes can cause problems fast. 

Much like our first point, understanding the unique risks and benefits of the LSE allows you to make safer and smarter investments long-term. 

UK Stock Market Tips

This uncertainty sounds like bad news, but it isn’t that simple. For those who already invested and faced the market crash of 2020, it seems that for now, the storm is over. For those looking to invest, it’s a bargain.

Though the market has recovered a lot throughout 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021, share prices are low. Barring another global catastrophe, they’re unlikely to be this low again for a while. It’s an excellent opportunity to invest.

This is particularly true for industries worst hit by the pandemic. Share prices in the hospitality sector remain low despite government support. With the end in sight thanks to the vaccine rollout, as well as substantial support to get to the finish line, this could be a great investment as normality returns to the UK.

Stocks that have risen throughout the pandemic may also remain a good long-term investment as consumer habits change. Online businesses such as Ocado have enjoyed strong growth for obvious reasons throughout 2020.

But research suggests the new norm will remain in some aspects. 40% of UK consumers surveyed said they would continue to spend online post-pandemic.

While this is good news for online businesses, it adds additional uncertainty to an already suffering high street. This means staple stocks that were once a safe investment remain troubled into 2021.

The best investing tips we can offer are the ones that could apply to investing on any stock exchange: plan, diversify and remain calm.

Plan

Planning for the unknown can seem impossible because it is. By plan, we mean understand the risks and rewards and plan for uncertainty. 

You cannot control how your investments perform, it’s the nature of the game. But you can control how you prepare your investment portfolio to prepare for market changes.

Planning can help you understand how long you’re prepared to invest for, what your objectives are and how your assets are spread. In a volatile market, this can help keep you sane and know when to sell.

Diversify Your Portfolio

In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

It can be tempting when you read analysis after analysis about some definite market changes. But it’s never definite and as Reddit has proven, experts come in all shapes and sizes.

This isn’t to say don’t invest when the opportunity arises but spread your investments. Over the long-term, variety and patience almost always pays far more than short-term gains. 

Diversifying your portfolio should be part of your planning. Researching company operations, competition and the wider industry will help you create a smart portfolio that will perform well throughout market changes. 

Keep Calm and Carry On

If the last year has taught investors anything, it’s that nobody can predict the market. So remain calm.

The best investors know not to react rashly to emotion. If you spend your day keeping an eye on scoreboards it will lead to overreactions to short-term changes.

The ups and downs are all normal, so ride them out and focus on your own plans. Planning and diversification can help you avoid panic selling as you know your strategies and long-term goals.

More Financial Information

The best UK stock market tips are the age-old advice applicable for any stock market. Understand your market, plan well and diversify your portfolio. For further research, our blog offers great insight into the UK stock exchange, as well as global exchanges, so make sure to check it out.

6 Common Online Banking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In recent years, online banking has continued to grow as banks offer more and more online and mobile banking services. In fact, 73% of banking customers use online banking at least once a month. Similarly, 59% use mobile banking at least once a month. 

With this rapid rise in popularity comes some concerns for bank account holders. Luckily, it is easy to avoid the most common online banking mistakes. We’ll take a look at what to keep an eye on and how you can make online banking a breeze.

1. Login Safety Mistakes

One of the most common banking mistakes is not having adequate safety measures set for online banking services. You should never use auto-login features. This can make it too easy for someone else to access your account. 

Instead, use a password or biometrics login on your phone. If possible, you should also use two-factor authentication to ensure additional safety. 

It’s also important to choose a unique username and password, one that you do not use anywhere else. Your bank may be taking strict online security measures but other websites you use may not. 

If a hacker finds out your password on another website and then learns that you have used it in multiple places, they could have easy access to everything, including your bank account. For similar reasons, you should also change your password regularly, so if a security breach does occur your account is not at risk for long.

Speaking of passwords, it is imperative that your bank account password is very strong. Use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Make sure it’s not easy to guess either.

2. Unsecure Online Access

How you access your online bank account is also important. This is particularly true if you plan on accessing your online bank in public or through a device you don’t own. 

Don’t bank on public wi-fi if you can avoid it. You also shouldn’t use public computers. Even if you log out completely, hackers can still record keystrokes to gain access to your accounts.

When using your bank’s website, make sure the web address includes “https://”. The “s” is important as it indicates that there are extra security features protecting you.

If you want to download your bank’s app, make sure it is the official one. Download it via iTunes or Google Play. You may even be able to download it through your bank’s website. Either way, make sure your phone is also protected with a strong password too.

3. Not Checking Banking Activity

Another common online banking mistake is not frequently checking your online banking activity. If fraudulent activity occurs, it’s important to catch it early so you can talk to your bank and rectify any issues. 

But in order to do that, you need to actively be aware of what is going on within your account. Online and mobile banking make it easy to view your recent activity. Simply look through your transactions once a month to make sure everything is how it should be. 

If you notice anything is off, you should then immediately get in touch with your bank. Doing this does not take a lot of time and could prevent you from having to deal with much larger problems down the road. 

Additional online banking services can make staying on top of your account even easier. Many banks allow you to enrol in email, text, or push alerts that are triggered by certain activities. These could include unusual activity, balance thresholds, or transactions meeting certain criteria. 

These options are usually available in your profile or through the security features section of the website. Signing up for these options lets you know about problems with your account between times when you check on it. This can help you keep an eye out for anything unusual.

4. Handling Mobile Deposited Checks

Being able to remotely deposit checks can save you a lot of time. But, it’s important that you handle mobile check deposits correctly.

Instead of throwing the check away as soon as you deposit it, keep it for two weeks. It takes a few days for the check to clear. If there is a problem reading the check, you’ll have proof of the correct amount. Afterwards, be sure to shred the check, instead of only throwing it in the trash.

5. Mistakes When Making Online Payments

Online payments make it easy to send money to others and pay bills. But, you need to be very careful when doing these actions.

If you are scheduling a payment, make sure the date is correct. Sending it too late could cause late fees if it’s a bill. Also double-check the amount you enter. Even a slight change in decimal can make a huge difference.

Finally, be sure you follow through with the payment. Online banking portals may have multiple steps. Follow through and make sure you end up with a confirmation page or email. Otherwise, you could owe late fees for your bills if the payment isn’t fully completed.

6. Sending and Receiving Money 

If you send money to another person or account, be sure to double-check their details very carefully. If the details are wrong, you could send the money to a different person or business. This is very difficult to correct as the other person would need to approve returning the money.

If you expect to receive money from someone else, also make sure the details you give them are correct. Otherwise, you may not receive the money you are expecting. This can be difficult to fix too if the person accidentally sends it to someone else.

Avoid Online Banking Mistakes

Online banking is an important part of modern financial management. This is why avoiding common online banking mistakes is so important. Taking these measures can save time, money, and a lot of potential heartache. 

Subscribe to the CFI.co magazine to learn even more ways to improve your finances.

7 Invaluable Benefits of a Financial Planner

If you are serious about managing your money and accumulating wealth, the benefits of a financial planner can take all the stress and burden away from doing it yourself.

Sure, you could feel competent at investing and money management, but do you really have the time to go in-depth? 

Yet, opting to work with a financial planner won’t suit everyone. There are pros and cons when using a financial planner or adviser, but we do think the benefits we’re going to discuss are well worth considering.

So let’s check out seven benefits of a financial planner.

1. Full-Time Professionalism

The first and obvious benefit of choosing to work with a financial planner is that they are full-time professionals, making investment decisions day in day out.

They will have a wealth of knowledge and plenty of tips about where to invest money. Plus, they can prove to you with past clients the sort of returns they achieve. 

With all their training and know-how, it would be hard to compete with what they are capable of in terms of investing and managing your money wisely year on year. 

Keep in mind, however, just because someone is a qualified and experienced financial adviser, it still doesn’t give you any solid guarantees that you won’t lose money. Going with a financial adviser is always a risk.

But typically, a financial planner will run you through different investment options with varying calculations of risk attached to them. Ultimately, you will be the decision-maker in the process. Your financial planner just handles the more technical aspects of your investments, as well as offering tips and advice.

2. Tax Advice

When anyone invests their money and makes capital gains on their wealth, tax is always an issue. In some cases, taxes can destroy the point of investing as they can simply erode away your gains to a pittance.

A financial planner should be experienced enough to know how to navigate the tax realm in your favor. They will tend to let you know various options you can choose to help reduce your tax burden, and they’ll be up-to-date on new regulations and changes in the law.

3. Objectivity

One key benefit of a financial planner is that they are likely to be a lot more objective than yourself when investing your money. 

This benefit is strongly linked to the professionalism of a financial planner. They are just doing their job investing your money – they don’t have emotional attachments as you may have. 

When emotions get in the way of investing, you’re treading on a pathway to ruin. Objectivity is essential to make wise investment decisions, and a financial planner will give you that.

They can either consult with you about investment decisions they’d like to take for you and explain them clearly.

4. Partnership

A financial planner doesn’t just get the keys to your car to drive off alone into the sunset. They will be available to discuss things with you and keep you updated on what’s going on with your hard-earned cash.

A financial planner is someone you can collaborate with, they’ll listen to you, and they’ll try their best to understand your wants and needs.

As well, the communication aspect of your partnership can be extremely beneficial. By speaking out ideas and strategies allowed, they can become more obviously viable, or conversely, something to avoid.

Plus, there are plenty of tips out there that will help you monitor your financial adviser. 

5. Proactivity

This benefit is linked in a sense to the points of objectivity and professionalism.

A financial planner will be poised and ready to anticipate almost every eventuality that could happen in the markets and with your money. They don’t let their emotions get the better of them, which is easier for them since they are trained professionals.

They will also seek out new investment ideas that you might be aware of and get you tied up in some lucrative opportunities ahead of the curve.

Furthermore, they can implement any ideas that you may have with speed, which you might not be capable of doing yourself.

6. Organization

For many of us with busy schedules and limited time, managing the flow, saving, and investment of our money can become overwhelming.

It may be that you’re losing money that can be easily kept if your finances and payments are restructured in a more organized and logical manner. 

Having control over your finances can relieve a lot of stress, and it could even be the case that you save more money by actually paying for the services of a financial planner. 

It’s funny how they don’t properly teach us the ins and outs of taking care of money and investing at school. Now you have the opportunity to see your financial planner, not only as a money manager but a teacher of investing and finance too. 

7. Relaxation and Free Time

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all your financial worries set aside and dealt with by someone you can trust?

Most of us have enough on our plates already with work, family, and other commitments. Choosing a financial planner’s expertise will surely give you the peace of mind you deserve and some much-needed relaxation. 

The Benefits of a Financial Planner

We’ve just mentioned only seven benefits of a financial planner. There are loads more benefits to take advantage of if you decide to take the leap and regain control of your finances.

It will be like starting off on a new journey into the unknown at first, but once you get your bearings and develop a rapport with your financial planner, we think you’ll be surprised at the positive changes that will occur.

Please check out our blog for more financial advice and wisdom.

Top 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bank

Are you looking for a new and trusted bank to handle your financial services? Choosing a bank isn’t always easy. While it’s tempting to just go with the bank that you’ve always used, when your financial needs change, you need to look at your options to find the best one for you. 

But how do you choose? What should you keep in mind when you need a new bank?

We have a few factors for you to consider. Keep reading to learn more so you can find your new bank with ease. 

1. Your Banking Needs

So what kind of bank are you looking for, anyway?

Depending on your specific needs, you might choose banks that cater to them. For example, are you looking for a basic business bank account, or is this for your personal bank account?

Are you trying to combine the two? 

When you’re looking for a bank, don’t be afraid to ask about how they treat each kind of account and the specific benefits that they offer that relate to these accounts.

If you have a business in need of a bank, what kind of support does the bank offer? Are there staff members available that can advise you on business growth? Can the bank scale with your business? 

A great personal bank doesn’t equal a great business bank. While many banks offer adequate services for both, it doesn’t hurt to check. 

2. Bank Perks

Many banks offer great perks to new members, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to take advantage of them. What is your bank of choice willing to offer you?

Some banks offer a money bonus (like a gift card) when you join. Others may have discounts on hotels, transportation, or other necessities that are exclusive to their members. 

Bank perks shouldn’t be your primary decision-makers, but they don’t hurt. 

3. Your Credit Score

Did you know that some banks filter clients based on their credit scores? While having a normal credit score is often enough, some banks may favour you if you have a high credit score. 

Credit requirements often only apply to people who are trying to open a business account. The bank wants to ensure that you’re a secure client, and they have enough clients that they’re able to pick and choose.

Before you choose a bank, check on credit requirements and work on building or maintaining your credit score. 

4. The Locations (or Lack Thereof)

Are you used to having a bank that’s in a brick and mortar location? There are a few things that you want to keep in mind when you’re trying to choose in that case.

First, how accessible is the bank for you? Are there multiple locations that make it easy to access your required services on the go?

It’s a good idea to choose a bank that has a location somewhere that you frequent. For example, many grocery stores have banks nearby or even within the building for easy access.

Also, keep ATMs in mind. It’s annoying to find yourself needing to withdraw money only to be hit with ATM fees because your bank’s ATM isn’t available. If there are insufficient bank or ATM locations and you’re someone that spends a lot of time travelling around, you might want to consider another bank.

That said, it’s getting more popular for banks to move online and get rid of brick and mortar options. Consider whether or not you’re comfortable with this.

These online banks are easy to access wherever you are, but when it comes to withdrawing cash without fees, they’re lacking. While they often offer easy online support and chat options, they also don’t have the in-person interactions that many people rely on. 

If you value personal connections and the ability to go to a physical location to get help or withdraw money, in-person bank services might be best for you. If you value ease of use and accessibility, online banks are also great. 

5. Digital Options

Most banks, even if they have a “real” location, also offer digital services. This combines the in-person features of a brick and mortar bank with some of the accessibility and perks of an online bank.

When you’re looking into your bank, ask about their digital services.

Some smaller banks have insufficient digital options. Their sites might be clunky, slow, or difficult to use, and they sometimes don’t have all of the features of larger bank websites.

This doesn’t make small banks bad, and it doesn’t mean that all small banks have problematic websites. 

A good bank website should allow you to get support, check your bank statements, move money around for online purchases or transfers, and make it easy to open up secondary accounts (like savings accounts). If you have a specific digital service in mind, ask about it before you make your choice. 

6. Savings Account Options

Speaking of savings accounts, they aren’t all the same. 

While safety is the primary concern with a savings account, you should also look into interest rates. A savings account with a strong interest rate can protect your money (in a small way, at least) against inflation. 

A good savings account works as a slow investment. An account with no interest (or low interest) should be a red flag. 

7. Basic Services

What kinds of common banking services are you looking for from your new bank? 

Regardless of whether the bank is for business or personal use, you want to know that you’ll be able to access the services that you rely on for your banking. 

For example, are you someone who likes to have a tax professional on hand? Good bankers are often able to handle difficult tax questions and concerns. How does this bank handle loans? 

There are plenty of services that you want to keep in mind when you’re choosing a bank. Make a list and compare it against the services listed on their website, or call to confirm. 

Choosing a Bank Isn’t as Easy as It Seems

There are plenty of options for banks, more so now that online banks are so common. This makes choosing a bank confusing and sometimes overwhelming.

If you keep these factors in mind next time you’re trying to set up a new bank account, you’ll be one step closer to finding a bank that you love and trust. Choosing a bank is a big commitment, so don’t take it lightly. 

Are you looking for more helpful financial resources? Check out our journal for everything that you need to know to stay updated on business, economics, and finance. 

It’s Not Too Late! How to Build Wealth in Your 40s

Did you know that one in three older people only begin to start retirement planning two years ahead of time? You can see how this can make planning for retirement stressful, confusing, and can leave a lot to be desired. However, this also means you’re not alone and that building wealth in your 40s isn’t impossible. 

In fact, it’s never too late to begin building wealth and planning for retirement. However, it’s important that you begin with a strategy that makes sense so that you’re not throwing your hard-earned money away. 

Read on to learn how to build wealth in your 40s with our straightforward guide! 

Create an Emergency Fund

Since retirement is still years away, it’s important that you start an emergency fund sooner rather than later. This is where you’ll set aside money that you’ll use only in times of emergency. For instance, if you lose your job and need to pay rent, experience a major health issue, or need to do immediate repairs on your car or home. 

For emergency funds, it’s recommended to put aside enough money that will cover three to six months of living costs. How much you contribute is your own personal choice. If you have multiple streams of income, you may be able to set aside less. 

Deal With Debt

You next need to deal with any debt. With high-interest rates and a tanking credit score, debt can put a hamper on future plans as well as hinder your ability to put money towards retirement if you’re only paying the minimum each month. High-interest debt such as credit cards, loans, and car payments should be dealt with as soon as possible. 

Your mortgage payments may be able to remain the same if you’re near the final years of the mortgage. However, it may be helpful to make extra payments towards your mortgage in the early years in order to reduce your interest payments later on. 

Retirement Plans

Once you have an ample emergency fund and you’ve handled your debt, it’s time to focus on your retirement plans. Regardless of how you plan to spend your retirement, it’s recommended to maximise your employer contributions. You may also want to consider voluntary contributions because you’ll be able to get tax relief on your contributions up to the limit of £40,000.

If you’ve already made the maximum allowable contributions and are still willing and able to pay more, you still have options with the carry forward allowance. This allows you to use any unused allowances from the previous three years in the current year, as long as you were part of a pension scheme during those years. 

If you’re not able to contribute the maximum to your retirement plan currently, we still recommend using a retirement calculator. This helps you visualise your retirement in concrete terms. If you have trouble parting with your income, this may make it easier–you’ll be able to visualise how you’ll be living in 20 or so years! 

Limit Risk

Many people feel the need to take on some investment risk because they want to make up for the lost time. This is because the potential returns are higher, though those returns are far less guaranteed. However, it’s important to limit your risk, as you have far less time to recover from losses. 

A conservative level of risk would be to invest a percentage equivalent to your age in bonds, while the rest goes into stock. However, it’s important to speak with financial planners or accountants before you even begin making investments. They’ll be able to help you decide on how much to invest as well as the risk you’re able to handle. 

Life Insurance

If you don’t have life insurance now, it’s important to get sooner rather than later, as the policies are more affordable the younger you are. Many people have life insurance policies with their workplaces, but if you started with your company years ago, it may be worth speaking with the human resource staff about upgrading your package or policy or add second life insurance.

It’s also important that you add any additional family members or children to your policy. Last but not least, if you don’t go to a doctor every year, you may want to consider no exam policies that aren’t as stringent when it comes to yearly check-ups.

Set Your Priorities

When you start saving for retirement in your 40s, it may feel selfish if you have children or other dependent family members. As your retirement account begins to grow, you may feel the urge to take out some in order to send your children on vacation or help them more with college. However, it’s important to remember that your children still have their lives ahead of them. 

As you get older, it’s important that you’re able to help yourself and your spouse. By saving for retirement and making the right financial decisions, your children won’t have to worry about you as you grow older! 

How to Build Wealth in Your 40s: Start Planning Today 

It’s never too late to start building your wealth or plan for retirement, even when you’re in your 40s. When it comes to financial planning tips, the best takeaway is to start planning your strategy today. For instance, if you don’t have an emergency fund, we recommend starting with this first. 

If you lose your job or you need to make sudden medical payments, you’ll be taken care of with an emergency fund to dip into. Next, we recommend taking care of any high-interest debt that impacts your ability to contribute towards your pension. 

Maximise your contributions as much as possible, and try to visualise your retirement with the help of a calculator. Now that you know how to build wealth in your 40s, you’ll be well on your way to a comfortable retirement. 

Ready to stay on top of the latest banking and finance developments in the world today? Keep reading our finance archive

8 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score Rating

Your credit score can have a major impact on what you can and can’t achieve in your life. In these modern times, your credit score rating can determine whether or not you get a car loan, a mortgage, an apartment, or even a job.

If you’ve got a less than perfect credit score, you don’t have to fret. While rebuilding your credit won’t happen overnight, you can take steps that will help increase your score over time.

Are you wondering what you can do to boost your score so it stops limiting you?

Let’s take a look at eight tips for improving your credit score rating.

1. Reduce Your Credit Utilization Ratio

There are a number of different factors that determine what your credit score is. 30% of your score reflects your credit utilization ratio. This ratio signifies the total amount of credit you have access to and how much of that credit you are using.

Basically, if your total credit limit is $10,000 and you have charged $2000 to your credit cards, you have a 20% credit utilization ratio.

In general, it is recommended to not use more than 30% of your credit card limit. Some experts even suggest keeping your utilization ratio under 10%.

Are you trying to learn more about credit in general? Check out the different types of credit here.

2. Fix Any Credit Report Errors

Occasionally, credit report errors can occur that can hurt your credit score. This means that even if you are doing everything right, you should review your credit report periodically.

If you do find any errors on your credit report, you will need to contact the credit bureau and file a dispute.

3. Request an Increase to Your Credit Limit

It is a good idea to periodically request a credit limit increase. Different credit card companies will have methods for this process, but it is usually a quick and easy thing. In fact, most companies will allow you to request an increase online.

The reason that this can help to improve your credit score rating is that it lowers your utilization rate.

There are a couple of things that you will want to keep in mind when you do this, though. For one, don’t request an increase on a new credit card, as many companies won’t give increased credit limits for new cards.

Secondly, you want to make sure your request does not require a hard inquiry on your credit report. Relatively small increases can typically be approved automatically. If the company asks for more information, declined the request, as they will likely do a hard inquiry which can negatively impact your credit score.

4. Make Your Payments on Time

The most influential factor that determines your credit score is your payment history. This means that it should be your highest priority to make your payments on time.

One of the best ways to ensure that you are never missing payments is by setting up automatic bill payments. This way, the money is withdrawn from your bank account on a specific day every month to ensure that you never have late payments.

5. Be an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Credit Card

Do you have a family member that has a higher credit score and you? If so, they can add you as an authorized user to their credit card. This can help to boost your credit score if they have made on-time payments, have a low credit utilization ratio, and the account history is long.

6. Use “Dormant” Credit Cards Every Once in a While

Over time, as you build your credit history, you will be able to qualify for cards that have better interest rates and better rewards. However, it is not usually a good idea to close your first credit card. Instead, make occasional purchases with that in order to keep it active.

If you completely stop using a credit card, the bank might close the card or reduce the credit limit. If you receive a credit line decrease than your credit utilization ratio will also go down.

It can also hurt your score to close an old credit card account. The only reason you might want to close an old credit card that you no longer you as if it has an annual fee. Even so, though, you might be able to downgrade the card to want without an annual fee without closing the account.

7. Diversify Your Accounts

It can be beneficial to your credit score to have a number of different credit accounts. Of course, you should only borrow money when it is necessary. However, it can demonstrate to lenders that you can manage credit responsibly when you have a variety of credit accounts.

This might mean having a home mortgage, a credit card, and a car loan.

8. Negotiate With Creditors With Whom You Have Outstanding Debts

Paying off debt will help to lower your credit utilization ratio. However, if you have been missing payments than your credit score can be negatively affected. You can often negotiate with credit card companies to have the negative hit removed from your credit report in exchange for paying off your debt in full.

If you go this route, remember to get the agreement in writing.

These Steps Can Help Increase Your Credit Score Rating

Boosting your credit score rating takes time, organization, and commitment. That being said, you can help to increase your number over time in a way that can offer serious benefits to many aspects of your life.

Are you looking for more resources to help you navigate the complicated world of finances? If so, check out the rest of our blog for more informative articles!

Self-Employment Tax Tips: 6 Important Things to Know

Are you dreading tax time and don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), it takes small business three weeks every year in order to comply with tax rules. You’ll find that preparing ahead of time by doing research and budgeting will help you pay self-employment taxes easily without the stress. The confusion comes from how much you have to pay depending on different percentages of your earnings. We’re here to help cut down on the time and smooth away some of the confusion. Read on for our top six self-employment tax tips so you’ll know how to do taxes correctly once the time comes! 

1. Budget for Taxes

If you were working on a side-hustle and didn’t earn over £1000 throughout the year, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to tell the HMRC that you’re self-employed. You also don’t have to pay taxes for the first £12,500 you earned. 

If you make more than this, however, it’s important that you plan ahead and budget for taxes. According to UK tax laws, you’ll need to pay 20% for income between £12,500 and £50,000. This bumps up to 40% for income between £50,001 and £150,000. 

Lastly, it increases to 45% for income of over £150,000. This also includes your income if you rent out properties. 

We recommend setting some money aside in a separate savings account every time you’re paid. This will help you keep track of what you owe and also help you remember that not all the money you earn is yours–even if it feels like it! 

2. National Insurance

It’s also important that you budget for the National Insurance payments that need to be made. If your profits from self-employment are greater than £6,475, you have the pay a rate of £3.05 a week for Class 2 National Insurance. This is paid through direct debit to HMRC. 

If you’re making between £9,500 and £50,270, you’ll also need to pay 9% of your income for Class 4 National Insurance as well. For profits greater than £50,270, you’ll have to pay 2% of your profits. What you have to pay for National Insurance will also show up in your Self Assessment tax return. 

3. Payments on Account

Even if you budget ahead of time, you may find that the HMRC is asking for a task bill that’s higher than you predicted. One reason could be because they’re asking to collect taxes that are due in the current year as well. They calculate this based on your earnings from the last year. 

You’ll need to make your payments on account in two instalments: before midnight on 31 January and 31 July. Budgeting ahead of time will help for your first payment, as this is where you’ll find that for your first year, you’ll need to pay 1.5x more. 

4. Claiming Mileage

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to pay based on your entire profits. You can claim expenses that you used for business in order to cut down on what you owe come tax time. If you use a vehicle for business, this is one of the easiest ways to claim some expenses. 

Here are the mileage rates that you need to remember: 

  • For the first 10,000 miles in the tax year, 45p per mile
  • 25p per mile above 10,000 miles
  • 24p per mile for motorbikes 
  • 20p per mile for bikes 

The easiest way to keep track of these miles is to use an app that can automatically log your route and do the mileage calculations for you throughout the year. Many of them allow you to name and categorize your trips.

If you take frequent trips to the same location, you can even have the app automatically categorize the trip based on the route so that you don’t have to always manually input the information. 

5. Claiming Home as Office

If you work from home frequently, it’s also important that you also make note of this on your Self Assessment. If you’re a sole trader or partnership, the easiest way to do this is through the simplified expenses rules.

Depending on the hours you work from home, you’ll be able to claim a flat rate. For instance, if you work for 25 to 50 hours, you’ll be able to claim £10 per month. If you work 101 or more hours, you’ll be able to claim £26 per month. 

6. Find a Bookkeeper and Accountant

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to suffer through taxes alone. As your business begins to grow, there’s no shame in finding the help of a bookkeeper as well as an accountant. A bookkeeper will help keep all of your records organized and up-to-date so that they’re easier to compile during tax time. 

An accountant can help you through the process of doing your taxes. Even better, throughout the year they can help you make smart business decisions. They’ll analyze the data and help you find ways to maximize profits and minimize expenses. 

Self-Employment Tax Tips: Preparing Ahead of Time

When it comes to self-employment tax tips, our best piece of advice is to begin preparing as soon as you begin your small business. Keep track of your income and expenses so that you can predict how much you need to pay and how much you can deduct.

Then, create a separate savings account so that you can funnel a percentage of your earnings away. That way, you won’t become attached to the income you earn that still belongs to the government. 

There’s also no shame in asking for help–bookkeepers and accountants are professionals that work with small and large businesses each day. They’ll help you explain the tax rules and procedures better as well as provide ways to keep your income organized. Even if you’re not looking for tax advice, accountants can help you make better business decisions. 

Ready to stay in-the-know when it comes to financial news for SMEs? Take a look at our finance archives to stay on top of the latest developments throughout the world! 

Budgeting for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

Creating a budget is one of the best things you can do for your financial health. Budgets are like road maps giving you direction. To help you manage it all, we’ve rounded up the ultimate budgeting for beginners guide.

We’ll go over how to make a budget, where to start, and budgeting tips to help keep you on track. Here’s your go-to guide to creating a budget. 

Where to Start

When creating a budget, you’ll want to start with your goals. Your goals could be anything from building up your emergency fund to saving for a home. Thinking about your goals will help you better understand where you should put your money.

If your goal is to retire early, for example, a good portion of your budget will go towards retirement savings. If your goal is to pay down debt, you’ll focus your efforts on reducing your credit card bills.

One helpful tip is to set small, attainable goals that will help you reach your larger goal. Let’s say your end goal is to pay off your debt.

Start with the low-hanging fruit and pay off your smallest or highest interest debt first. Paying off a small credit card, for example, will leave you with a few hundred extra pounds each month to pay off a larger card.

Write Out Your Income and Expenses

After you’ve set your goals, you’ll want to write out your income and expenses. You can’t make a plan for what’s coming out if you don’t really know what’s coming in. Write out any income sources you have.

Next, you’ll need to write out all your expenses. Separate your fixed expenses as well. Fixed expenses are expenses you have to have or pay such as rent and electricity.

Non-essential expenses include gym memberships, music subscriptions, and the money you spend on clothes. These are all expenses you can trim if the money in your budget becomes tight.

Check your bank statements for anything you may have missed. Go back a few months so you can see anything that’s paid quarterly. The more detailed you are, the more accurate your budget will be.

Where to Make Cuts

Once you see how much you have coming in versus what you’re spending, it’s time to make some cuts. Be realistic here. If you cut too much, you won’t be able to stick to your new budget.

Look at anything that’s non-essential. If it isn’t being used, cancel it. You may be surprised by all the subscription services you have that you aren’t using.

If you have three group fitness class memberships, for example. Choose your favourite and stick to one.

If you’re spending more than you’re bringing in, cutting items will help you get back on track. Keep your goals in mind here. If it isn’t helping you reach your goals, cut it.

Making a Budget

To start writing out your budget, begin with your fixed expenses. Rent, student loan, and your car payment are examples of fixed expenses. You need to pay for these each month.

Next, look at your utility payments, cell phone, and grocery bills. Groceries are one you can be flexible with if you need to. If you’re eating out for three meals a day, cut this down and increase your grocery budget to save money.

When you’re assigning items a budget, be realistic. If you’re used to spending £500 a week on groceries for a family of six, start by cutting that down to £300. If you try to live off £50, you’ll probably end up ordering takeaway and blowing your budget.

The next part of your budget should include reaching your goals. Remember to work on small goals to help you reach your larger one.

Carve off any disposable income towards reaching your goals. If these aren’t included in your goals, make room for saving for emergencies as well as retirement.

What to Use

Your budget can go on anything from a piece of paper to an online app. A spreadsheet that you can access online and from your phone is also helpful. You want to be able to see your budget whenever you need to.

There are a number of helpful budgeting apps as well. These often synch with your bank accounts, so your income and spending are tracked.

Cutting Down Fixed Expenses

Fixed expenses are harder to cut down. Rent, for example, has to be paid. If rent is too expensive, this is where getting a flatmate is helpful. You can split the rent, utilities, and even some groceries. You two can also share a car.

If you live in an area that’s walkable, you can also sell your car. You’ll use less petrol, save on car payments, and insurance.

The more you save and pay down, the less fixed expenses you’ll have. With budgeting, you can go from paying three credit cards to one.

Have Weekly or Monthly Meetings With Yourself

Once your budget is in place, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying on track. Host weekly or monthly meetings with yourself to make sure you’re staying on budget. It’s so rewarding to see yourself meeting your goals.

If a goal is to pay down debt. Pull up all your accounts online and check on your progress. When you see that debt number go down, put that money towards your emergency fund or another goal.

Budgeting for Beginners

Budgeting for beginners starts with accountability. You need to hold yourself accountable for your spending.

The only way a budget works is if you keep it realistic and set small, attainable goals. For more money advice, check out the finance section.