Advisors warn against cutting marketing budgets at the risk of plunging into obscurity. However, that spend should deliver a decent return on investment (ROI).
Giving into Facebook’s prompts to boost a post might seem harmless, but it’s an easy way to burn through cash.
Not targeting ads effectively is akin to pouring good money down the drain. Determine who your ideal customer is, which media they consume and when they’re most likely to buy. Then tailor your ads accordingly.
Have a plan and a budget and stick to them.
Efficiencies are the holy grail in business – doing the same thing (or better) for less money. Yet, some are less obvious than others.
Improving employee welfare and workplace culture can reduce staff turnover – saving on recruitment, training and exit payouts while stemming the loss of skills, experience and intellectual property.
Don’t confuse busyness with productivity: teams should work on revenue-driving activities, not administration. Look for ways to simplify operations, freeing staff to work on core tasks.
Avoid sacrificing existing clients for new ones. It’s more expensive to attract new customers than to give existing ones more attention and value.
Automate inventory control and staff rosters to reduce errors. Running out of stock or being short-staffed ultimately means lost sales.
Streamline business finances and develop strong financial foundations. Invoicing promptly means money coming in sooner, while paying bills and taxes on-time eliminates interest and penalties.
“Prevention is better than cure” typically applies to health, but the same goes in business.
Review your risk mitigation strategies and stress test them for weaknesses. Risk mitigation includes:
insurance against business interruption and loss/damage/theft
contingency plans for key staff absences
automatic back-ups of essential software and data
security protocols, password management and staff cyber training to avoid fraud and hacks
work-from-home capabilities should staff be unable to attend the business premises (as COVID-19 has demonstrated)
Insurances and staff hours spent on these are up-front costs, but they’ll save big bucks should disaster strike.
4. Misplaced cost-cutting
Why slash the stationery budget only to blow those savings elsewhere? It sounds silly, yet many businesses fall into this trap. It’s important to deliver real savings.
For instance, stop paying rent on unused space – downsize to smaller premises or sub-let surplus space to subsidise the cost.
Upskill employees in revenue-generating activities to boost income, rather than fire them and face hefty exit payouts.
Don’t overlook taxes when looking for cost savings. Claim legitimate depreciation of business fit-outs, office furniture, vehicles and equipment. Update vehicle logbooks to claim eligible mileage allowances. Apply for relevant tax concessions and COVID stimulus.
“It’s cheaper to do it myself”, many business leaders claim. But are you sacrificing your ability to earn more in the process?
Outsourcing could involve delegating tasks to new or existing employees, hiring contractors or implementing new technologies.
6. Buying power
Consider how to get the best value for your money.
Interest rates are at record lows, making money cheaper to borrow to upgrade equipment or expand. Refinancing debts could also slash repayments. However, plan your finance needs ahead of time – cash flow quick-fixes like short-term loans typically cost more.
Could you buy the business premises in a self-managed super fund (SMSF)? That way, your retirement fund receives the rent rather than a third-party.
And avoid the “lazy tax”: annually reviewing subscriptions, utilities, loans and insurances can net substantial savings. Often, you don’t even need to change providers – just ask for a better rate or get them to price-match a competitor!
Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of – On Your Own Two Feet Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field.
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Happiness, experts say, is U-shaped: generally speaking, we are happy/full of life satisfaction as young adults but, as we reach middle age, we become less satisfied, with a trough in one’s early 50s; from this trough we rebound to ever-increasing satisfaction levels as we age. It’s remarkable, really, considering the physical infirmities we face, plus financial worries, loss of loved ones, and more. What explains this? We become wiser and we are able to see all of life’s ups and downs with a greater sense of perspective.
But what if that’s not true?
A new working paper by Peter Hudomiet, Michael D. Hurd and Susann Rohwedder, researchers at RAND Corporation, suggests an entirely different answer: older individuals have greater life satisfaction because the less-satisfied folk have been weeded-out. And by “weeded-out” I mean that they’re dead or otherwise unable to reply, because the likelihood of dying is greater for those who have less life satisfaction. When they apply calculations to try to strip out this impact, the effect is dramatic: rather than life satisfaction climbing steadily from the mid-50s to early 70s, then remaining steady, they see a steady drop from the early 70s as people age.
Here are the three key graphs (used with permission):
First, life satisfaction plotted by age without any special adjustments:
And, third, the same life satisfaction graph, adjusted to take into account the impact of the disproportionality of deaths:
In this graph, the blue line represents the unadjusted outputs from their calculations, the orange line is smoothed, and the grey line adds in demographic, labor market and health controls, to strip out the impact of, for example, people in poor health being less satisfied and try to isolate the impact solely of age.
Here are the details on this calculation.
The data they use for their analysis comes from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a long-running survey of individuals age 51 and older at the University of Michigan, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. It is a longitudinal study; that is, it surveys the same group of people every two years in order to see how their responses change over time, adding in new “refresher cohorts” to keep the survey going. The survey asks about many topics, including income, health, housing, and the like, and in 2008, the survey also began to ask life satisfaction, on a scale of 1 to 5 (”not at all satisfied” to “completely satisfied”).
One simple way of analyzing the data is to look at how life satisfaction ratings vary based on survey participants’ characteristics. The average reported life satisfaction of those between ages 65 – 74 is 3.91, just slightly below “4 – very satisfied.” But those who rate their health as “poor” average out to 3.13, or not much more than “3 – somewhat satisfied,” and those who rate their health as “excellent” average to 4.34. Those who have 2 or more ADL (activities of daily living) limitations some out to an average of 3.32 vs. 3.97 for those with no such limits. Those who are in the poorest quarter of the survey group come out to 3.7 vs. 4.07 for the wealthiest quarter. (See the bottom of this article for the full table; this table and the following graphs are used with permission.)
But here’s the statistic that throws a monkey-wrench into the data:
“On average, the 2-year mortality rate [that is, from one survey round to the next] is 4.4% among those who are very or completely satisfied with their lives, while it is 7.3% (or 66% higher) among those who are not or somewhat satisfied with their lives.”
As a result, “those who are more satisfied with their lives live longer and make up a larger fraction of the sample at older ages.”
Now, this does not say that being pessimistic about one’s life causes one to be more likely to die. Nor does it say that this pessimism is justified by being in ill-health and at risk of dying. But this statistical connection, as well as further analysis of survey drop-outs for other reasons (such as dementia) is the basis for a regression analysis which results in the graph above.
What’s more, the original “inventor” of the concept of the life satisfaction curve, David Blanchflower, published a follow-up study just after this one. One of their key concepts is the notion of using “controls” to try to identify changes in life satisfaction solely due to age rather than changes in income over one’s lifetime, for example, or other factors, and there has been extensive debate about whether or to what degree this is appropriate, given that the reality of any individual’s life experience is that one does experience changes in marital and family status, employment status, and the like.
Having received pushback for this concept, they defend it but also insist that the U-shape holds regardless of whether “controls” are used or not. At the same time, Blanchflower is quite insistent that the “U” is universal across cultures, though (see my prior article on the topic) it really seems to require quite some effort to make this U appear outside the Anglosphere, which is all the more interesting in light of the John Henrich “WEIRDest people” contention (see my October article) that various traits that had been viewed by psychologists as universally-generalizable are really quite distinctive to Western cultures and, more distinctively, the United States.
But here’s the fundamental question: why does it matter?
On an individual level, to believe that there is a trough and a rebound offers hope for those stuck in a midlife rut. It’s a form of self-help, the adult version of the “it gets better” campaign for teenagers.
On a societal level, the recognition of a drop in life satisfaction for the middle-aged might be explained, by someone with the perspective of the upper-middle class, as the result of dissatisfaction with a stagnating career, failure to achieve the corner office, the challenge of shepherding kids into college, and the like. In fact, when I wrote about the topic two years ago, that’s how the material I read generally presented the issue.
But Blanchflower’s new paper recognizes greater stakes: “These dips in well-being are associated with higher levels of depression, including chronic depression, difficulty sleeping, and even suicide. In the U.S., deaths of despair are most likely to occur in the middle-aged years, and the patterns are robustly associated with unhappiness and stress. Across countries chronic depression and suicide rates peak in midlife.” (In the United States, among men, this is not true; men over 75 have the highest suicide rate.)
And what of the decline in life satisfaction among the elderly?
The premise that the elderly become increasingly satisfied with their lives as they age is a very appealing one, not just because it provides hope for us individually as we age. It serves as confirmation of a more fundamental belief, that the elderly are a source of wisdom and perspective on life. Although it is Asian cultures which are particularly known for veneration of the elderly, the importance of caring for those in need is just as much a moral imperative in Western societies, even if without the same sense of “veneration” or of valuing them to a greater degree than others in need.
Consider, after all, that the evening news likes to feature stories of oldsters running marathons or competing in triathlons or even just having a sunny outlook on life; no one likes to think of the grumpy grandmother or grandmother from one’s childhood as representative of “old age.” In this respect, “old folks are more satisfied with life” provided an easy to make the elderly more “venerable.” Hudomiet’s research might force us to think a bit harder.
Yes, I’m a nerd, and an actuary to boot. Armed with an M.A. in medieval history and the F.S.A. actuarial credential, with 20 years of experience at a major benefits consulting firm, and having blogged as “Jane the Actuary” since 2013, I enjoy reading and writing about retirement issues, including retirement income adequacy, reform proposals and international comparisons.
So, are you setting yourself up for true happiness as a retiree? Sure, you’re planning the money piece, and that’s important. But, there’s also the personal piece of the retirement equation that’s just as important as the money part. Read more: https://www.wesmoss.com/news/7-skills… The 4% Rule: https://www.wesmoss.com/news/the-new-… Retirement Calculator: https://www.yourwealth.com/retirement… Send me your questions directly at https://bit.ly/3dPKcvd (contact box in top right corner) You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think https://bit.ly/3kiRhXJ Money Matters with Wes Moss podcast https://spoti.fi/3jk9wL8 or on Apple Podcasts https://apple.co/3kwKvhj Twitter: https://bit.ly/2HqnWfe Facebook: https://bit.ly/3kvrHi4 Check out my website for more financial tools and articles: https://bit.ly/3dPKcvd Please note, this information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee offered that investment return, yield, or performance will be achieved. There will be periods of performance fluctuations, including periods of negative returns. Past performance is not indicative of future results when considering any investment vehicle. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax, or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.
s you enter the home stretch of your career, you may be paying professionals large sums for retirement guidance. Maybe you don’t have to do that. This 7-part series on wealth will give you the tools to make a lot more financial decisions on your own.
#1: Put It All In One Fund
This cheap index fund is an excellent one-step, five-minute answer to your portfolio needs. Read more →
#2: Create Your Own Yield
You don’t have to buy those complicated, fee-saturated Wall Street products that promise big payouts. Instead, create your own payout. Read more →
#3: Don’t Buy A Long-Term Care Policy
We have two better ways to fund nursing care. Read more →
#4: Cut Your Portfolio Management Costs
Are you paying 1% or 2% to have your money invested? Why? Read more →
#5: Pay Off Your Mortgage Rapidly
The Trump tax cut means that debt is for losers. Get rid of your mortgage. Read more →
Take up a second career and take advantage of these tax breaks for the self-employed. Read more →
#7: Count Your Blessings
What makes a retirement happy? We veer off the money track. Read more →
I aim to help you save on taxes and money management costs. I graduated from Harvard in 1973, have been a journalist for 45 years, and was editor of Forbes magazine from 1999 to 2010. Tax law is a frequent subject in my articles. I have been an Enrolled Agent since 1979. Email me at williambaldwinfinance — at — gmail — dot — com.
It sounds like the makings of a sitcom, but your parents may end up rooming with you if they haven’t started saving for retirement.An analysis for the Harvard Health Letter using U.S. Census Bureau data concluded that some 3.4 million people aged 65 or older were living in a grown child’s home in 2016.
Before you start counting the ways your life will change once your parents move in, prepare to do some information gathering. Your parents may not have much in savings, but the faster you can get their finances in order, the better off you’ll all be.
1. Get your siblings on board
Start by having an informal chat with your siblings to share perspectives. Has anyone already had this conversation with mom and dad? If so, how’d it go? Also find out who’s willing to join forces with you to ensure your folks have a good plan for the future.
2. Invite your folks to an open conversation about finances
Your parents may be defensive about their financial situation, so it’s important to set the tone carefully. Do your best to treat this as a shared circumstance. You’re not fixing or blaming. You’re simply looking out for them by planning for their future.
By starting the conversation with an offer to help, you can keep from playing the blame game. You might say, “Mom and Dad, I’d like to help you guys plan for your later years. Can we set aside some time to talk about financial stuff?”
3. Ask for the numbers
It may feel better to talk about finances in generalities, but to be successful, you need to resist that urge. You can be most helpful when you know how much your parents spend, their income, what they own, and what they owe. It’s also useful to chat openly about how stable they think their income is. For instance, Mom may plan on working another 20 years, but things are more complicated if she’s worried about getting pushed out next year.
When you understand their income outlook, you can broach the topic of Social Security benefits, and help them strategize on when to take those benefits. If they aren’t sure where they stand with Social Security, help them set up an online account withmy Social Security. And while you’re at it, see if they’ll share passwords to their other financial accounts in case you need to check in on those.
If your folks have a ton of debt or are borrowing to cover their expenses, help them find ways to spend less. Review their credit card statements and checking accounts for subscription services they don’t use, encourage them to shop around for cheaper rates on home or auto insurance, and introduce them to streaming TV so they can cancel cable.
A consistently high grocery bill is a harder challenge to tackle. You might introduce them to a grocery delivery service to minimize impulse purchases. A produce delivery service can also eke out some savings, as these focus on less expensive, seasonal produce that’s locally sourced.
Once your parents’ spending is in line with their income, every bit of savings should go towards paying down the debt.
5. Consider downsizing on homes and cars
If your parents are open to it, downsizing now may result in more freedom later. Selling an extra car raises some quick cash to pay down debt, and also reduces insurance and maintenance expenses. Downsizing the home may be a tougher conversation to have, but it’s worth exploration. A smaller place that’s fully paid off provides a lot more security for your parents than a bigger place with a mortgage. Ongoing maintenance and expenses will be less, too.
6. Brainstorm new streams of income
Even after you help your parents streamline their debt and expenses, they probably won’t have access to the traditional, work-free retirement lifestyle if they haven’t been saving diligently for years. That’s not to say they’ll be fully dependent on Social Security either. They could start up aside hustle to generate income and protect their lifestyle.
A little teamwork between you and your folks could have them on sustainable financial ground in just a few years. In other words, the best way to head off the parent-roommate situation is to start those tough conversations now.
The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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More Canadians are living well into their eighties. Chances are that many of us will be involved in caring for at least one aging parent and will be concerned if their retirement savings will be enough. Planning ahead will help ensure your parents’ financial independence and for you – piece of mind. BlueShore Financial advisor David Lee explains the nuances of financial planning for aging parents, including RRSPs, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Long Term Care Insurance and more. Learn more about helping your parents with their financial plan: https://www.blueshorefinancial.com/We…