Business Finance

Solid terms and conditions for your invoices are extremely important for your small business. If your invoices are complicated to understand or confusing to read, you may do some severe damage to your cash flow. Why? Mainly because if the client can’t understand your invoice they’re not going just pay. Your client wants to be sure that they’re being priced the proper amount of the goods or services that they requested.

1. Start thinking about all potential legal problems and scenarios.

The first thing that you must do before writing down your terms and conditions is to list all the probable legal obstacles or circumstances that could happen.

As an example:

  • What measures will you take if the client does not pay the invoice?
  • What will happen if you’re past due on delivering your services or products or service to the customer?
  • What will you do if the client is dissatisfied with your goods and services?
  • What will happen if the product or service is damaged when being provided by your client’s delivery service?
  • Are there any incentives if your customers pay beforehand?
  • What kind of rate of interest would you like to charge for late payments?
  • What if the customer is interested to renegotiate the contract just after the two parties agree to the terms and conditions?
  • Can your customer request a reimburse? If it does, what scenarios would allow for this?
  • What will happen if the scope of the work becomes wider?
  • If there was a misestimate on a budget or quote, who is going to pay for it?
  • Who is responsible if a product breaks after being bought?
  • What strategy will you undertake it the agreement or contract is terminated?

It might take a little time to think about and formulate this list, but as soon as you have got all of this written down you will be in a position to write future conditions and terms in a flash with the other clients that you will add to your client list. Most importantly, having the most appropriate terms and conditions for your firm will ensure that you are compensated and take care of your business if legal action is ever undertaken.

2. PROVIDE ALL CRUCIAL PARTS OF AN INVOICE.

Featuring the all-important elements of an invoice isn’t going to only speed-up the payment process, it will also answer whatever questions that the client has with regards to the goods or services that you provided for them.

When generating invoices, ensure that that you include:

  • Your logo
  • Invoice number
  • Your contact information
  • Your client’s contact information
  • The due date
  • The products or services you provided and their costs
  • The forms of payment that you accept
  • Early payment invoice discounts or enforce late fees

Before mailing out the invoice, ensure that all the information is right and that it’s being sent to the correct person. Any errors can easily slow-up the payment process and make you appear less professional.

3. CLEARLY EXPLAIN THE PRODUCTS/SERVICES BEING PROVIDED OR SCOPE OR THE PROJECT.

This is certainly the most relevant part of the terms and conditions on your invoice. Why? Because it describes what particularly the client is paying you for.

Like for example, if you are hired to make an internet-site for a client and it’s more than the client has imagined, having a description of the time and expenses it cost you to finish job answers any kind of questions or doubts relating to the final sum of the invoice.

4. SHORTEN YOUR PAYMENT TERMS

This should be {is kind of} obvious, but when you give customers a lot of time to make a payment, the longer it takes for you to get paid, which in turns leads to a slower cash flow.

So if you have a customer 45 days to pay an invoice, for instance, and that customer paid you a couple of weeks late, that means you’ve waited 2 whole months to receive a payment.

A payment term of 30 days or even less is the standard when it comes to invoicing simply because it’s helpful in keeping the cash flowing. Nevertheless, review your industry’s invoice standards and check with the client when their pay cycle runs. These factors can help you establish your payment terms.

5. HIGHLIGHT GUARANTEES AND WARRANTIES

It is not unusual for any business that is selling goods and services too often give guarantees and warranties. It makes them look more legit and reputable and gives the customer assurance. If you do provide a guarantee or warranty, make sure that is clearly outlined in your terms and conditions.

Never forget to address topics like situations where the client/customer loses their guarantee or warranty.

6. PURSUE LATE PAYMENTS.

Generally, there will be times when customers won’t pay invoices by the due date. Instead of being passive, you need to be persistent by tracking down those particular late payments.

Regularly keep track of your customers’ payment due dates and get in contact with them by telephone, e-mail, or mail if they have not paid you by the due date and feature late-fee terms on your invoices, like charging interest on over due payments – which a trusted cloud-based invoicing software will do for you automatically.

In case you can’t get a hold of the late-paying client, or they are not responsive to follow-ups, you may possibly have to send a collection letter, hire a collection agency, or take them to court. Make all of this information crystal clear from the beginning.

7. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

Be sure that your terms are specifically created for your business. Remember, your business does not have the identical requirements, resources, and clients that other businesses have. Because of this you can’t really just copy and paste the terms and conditions from a commonly used template or another business considering that they probably won’t address your particular needs.

A template is really good for starting and directing you in the right directions, but ultimately you have to write terms and conditions that best match your business and clientele.

8. ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL AND POLITE.

Being polite can have a beneficial influence on your business. Simply adding a phrase such as kindly pay your invoice within twenty-one days” or “thank you for your business” can, in fact, increase the number of invoices getting paid by more than 5 percent! This may not sound like much, but this can result in thousands of us dollars per year right into your banking account.
Aside from assisting you get paid faster, being professional and polite can easily make improvements to your brand’s image.

9. MAKE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS UNCOMPLICATED TO READ.

Keep the language in your conditions and terms simplified and intuitive. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients’ customers and realize that they’re not all familiar with industry terminology and even bookkeeping terms, like for example “net 30.”

Additionally, don’t aim to hide every single thing on just one page by using a small font so that your clients are not able to read the fine print. It will look tricky to your client and will ruin your reputation (regardless if there is nothing tricky on your invoice).

10. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP.

When all else fails to perform as expected, or you wind up in a sophisticated or specialized situation, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your mentor, fellow business managers, or your attorney. These are individuals that have experience in writing terms and conditions and are more acquainted with laws and regulations then you are.

 

Business Finance

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

  • How to open a bank account
  • How to budget & balance accounts
  • How to write checks and pay bills
  • And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

In the last article, we focused on budgeting & balancing accounts. We even looked at games and contests you could set up for your kids. This article is the third article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to write checks and pay bills.

Paying Bills

I was a bit surprised when several parents recently reported they had teens that were going to pay a bill by sending cash. I guess the obvious isn’t so obvious.

Paying bills is often done online, so it’s important to teach kids how to protect their identity online and store their login information where it can’t be stolen or accessed.

However, there are still quite a few companies that don’t offer online payments, and the only way to pay their bills is via check in the mail.

All kids should know why you NEVER send cash, and how to write a check specifically for paying a bill. For example: putting your account number and any other required details in the memo.

This brings us to the next topic: writing checks.

Writing Checks

When I was 12 years old, I went to outdoor ed. Oddly enough, part of the experience was that we could only write checks to buy goodies there, and our parents put a certain amount in our accounts so that we would also have to budget and balance our register.

Most of the kids were nervous! They weren’t sure how to fill out a check, and it was a great learning experience. I remember being nervous because we were required to fill out the amount in cursive, and I had trouble fitting it into the space.

These days, many kids never even think about writing checks because there are so many other means of transacting much more common; however, I’ve still found myself in need of checks for bills, paying contractors, and even helping me out of a pinch when I’ve forgotten my wallet.

Additionally, in my previous articles, I’ve expressed the dangers of using and relying on a debit card.

So how do you get your kids to learn how to write checks, and why would they care?

Getting Kids Involved

The best and most interactive way to teach kids to work a checkbook is to come up with a reason for them to write checks.

Here’s how it’s done:

Give your kids an old checkbook, play checkbook, or make your own (complete with a register). Then tell them in order to get certain things around the house, they’ll need to write checks. For example, to use their electronic device, there’s a rental fee that requires them to write you a check.

In addition, you can also give them a budget for the month to help them balance and budget their spending. You should balance a separate register so you can compare at the end of the month for accuracy.

Kids absolutely love this game.

Here are a few things you can charge for:

  1. Using electronic devices
  2. Watching TV (by the hour)
  3. Special snacks or treats
  4. Bicycle rental fee
  5. Getting out of a chore (limited usage)

At the end of the month, if your kids keep a positive balance they get a prize. If you have more than one kid, whoever is the most accurate in balancing their register can also get a prize.

A variation is to cut off the privileges if they run out of money. Some think this is harsh, but it does mimic the real world.

Writing checks is simple, and most kids love to learn because they feel more like an adult in the process.

 

Business Finance

Emergency financial situations can happen to anybody and any financial arrangement exercise is not ideal without planning for such occasions. The whole idea of having an emergency fund is to offer a cushion against any unexpected expense.

This will ensure it does not have any negative impact on your financial condition and does not rip off the whole financial security.

There are many circumstances which can cause a financial emergency such as a sudden illness, accident, medical emergencies, emergency house repairs, loss of a job, emergency car repairs and much more.

The major reason for having an emergency fund is very clear because when a person falls into an emergency financial situation, they will have to break their savings or make a compromise to get the needed money.

It’s not rare to find people who just take out their credit card and swipe it for hard cash. Opposing popular opinions, credit cards are the worst way to fund any financial emergency. The fastest way to get thousands of dollars its to get a car title loan it is not a long-term solution but a short-term solution.

In a circumstance where you’ve taken a cash advance with your credit card to get the needed money, the credit card company will charge you a cash advance fee with an interest rate. This is a very costly way to borrow and manage finances for emergency situations.

Therefore, what is the best amount that should be set aside as emergency money? There are diverse opinions on it. Some professional’s experts agree that a minimum of 3-6 months’ worth of monthly income should be set aside for an emergency situation. This amount can differ according to marital status, the size of family and lifestyle.

Everyone must reserve some extra cash in case of emergencies. But, the amount to reserve depends on your income and monthly expenses. The amount that is needed for your emergency fund is open to debate, the minimum amount should be sufficient to cover your expenses for daily living for at least 3 months. It’s also ideal to save for 6 months even though some financial advisers agree on a full year worth of cash.

These funds must be kept aside in an instrument, which is easily available when needed. It could be money in a bank account, hard cash, liquid funds or fixed deposits. This will ensure the fund is always accessible instantly or within a short period when it’s needed.

Where to Keep the Cash

Your situations and what can offer you peace of mind are the factors that can help you determine how cautious you want to be. Keep your emergency fund somewhere that is safe and accessible because you may be required to get the cash in a hurry when an emergency arises. The best option you’ve is to open a money market account or savings account. But, always examine their offer with regards to the interest rate, minimum balance, and other terms.

When you think you’ve saved enough, you can stop. You can now sleep easier and try to start placing your extra saving into higher-interest and less accessible accounts or investments.

 

Business Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Business Finance

New college graduates are on the loose and out building their new work wardrobes for their first job. Are you a proud parent and grandparent? In addition to celebrating with them over parties and gifts, now is the time to give them the gift of financial independence too. As they start their first jobs, you might ask yourself, “Is my child prepared for the financial responsibility that comes with a full-time job and living on their own?” Right from the start, you want them to develop savings priorities and healthy spending habits. Here are some tips to help you point them in the right direction:

Explain the importance of saving

As young adults start receiving a paycheck, they may find it tempting to spend their funds a lot more on “wants” rather than “needs.” You can help by reminding them of the difference between the two and sharing the importance of saving. Whether it’s saving for unexpected expenses and emergencies or to eventually buy a car or home, encourage your young adult to put a set amount aside from every paycheck. You may also tell them to check with their employer and see if they can direct the savings portion of their paycheck directly into a savings account with only the remainder going to their checking account for spending.

Emphasize retirement contributions

New graduates hardly think about retirement. They’ve just entered the workforce – why would they need to think about an event that will impact them 40+ years from now? With rent, bills and other responsibilities, your young adult may choose not to contribute to their retirement right out of school. We all know that this is a mistake! This is your chance to emphasize how a long retirement time horizon can benefit them financially. Educate them about compounding growth in savings and encourage them to speak to their employer about any professional guidance offered. Emphasize to them that they have one of the greatest assets working for them at this age: time.

Teach them to follow a budget

Budgeting allows young adults to create a spending plan with their money. It’s a great way for them to track their expenses and see if they have enough to spend on the things they really enjoy. Budgeting can keep your young adult focused on their money goals and avoid any unnecessary financial hassle. If they become overwhelmed, share how you learned to live within your paycheck and show them that there are apps and online tools today that they can use – here are just a few examples.

Show them how to pay bills on time

As an independent adult, your child will need to take on lots of responsibility quickly. Perhaps this includes regularly paying a variety of bills (rent, cell phone, etc.). Keeping track of when bills are due can become cumbersome for those just starting out. Show your child that it’s crucial to stay on top of bills and pay them on time. Late payments and fees – and any outstanding interest on balances – will deplete their disposable income, leaving them less money to spend on entertainment and fun. Many apps and computer programs exist to help set reminders and automatic payments. Help your young adult look at the options and share any systems you use to manage monthly payments.

Help them build credit

Many college grads have not yet had a chance to establish a credit history. Educate them about how a credit score can impact their future. A good credit score can influence their ability to get car loans and mortgages approved. Their credit score can also impact the interest rates on these loans: A good credit score may lead to lower interest rates. Some employers use a credit check in their hiring process. Some insurance companies also use credit scores as part of their underwriting process as a person’s credit can be a predictor of insurance claims. To help your young adult build their credit score, encourage them to pay bills on time, avoid acquiring too much debt on any open credit cards, limit the number of credit cards used, and keep their oldest credit card open.

Now that your graduate is officially launched, use some of your time together to pass on good financial habits. Whether it’s dedicating a portion of every paycheck to savings or using an app to track spending, these tips may help your young adult to stay on top of their finances and develop good money habits that can last a lifetime.