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5 business needs that will be more expensive in 2015

(Business Finance) 2015 is going to be an expensive year for certain types of companies, and for the rest of us, we’ll lament the price hike for bacon and bourbon.

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2015 will be more expensive

Does your business require shipping, travel, or coffee? That’s too bad – you’re looking at spending more money in 2015, and we hope you’ve budgeted properly. Although gas prices have hit a four-year low and consumers are feeling positively about that, the savings will be made up for elsewhere, we promise.

In your personal life, you should start setting aside some chocolate, bourbon, and bacon (prices are set to spike on those luxuries this year), but for your professional life, you need to brush up on what this year holds for price spikes.

1. Coffee

If you breathe and live in America, you probably drink coffee, and if you travel for business, you are a pro at racking up your Starbucks rewards points. The average American worker drinks $20 per week of coffee as of 2013, and prices were expected to drop last year. But they didn’t.

No, Brazil had a nasty drought, and since that’s where the majority of the globe’s coffee comes from, prices went up on brands like Starbucks, Gevalia, Folgers, Maxwell House, and even Dunkin’ Donuts. Further, K-Cup prices by Keurig have already jumped, and Kraft Foods recently announced a 9.0 percent increase for their single-serve K-Cup packs by Maxwell House, McCafe, Gevalia, and Yuban.

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2. Shipping costs

In 2015, UPS and FedEx will be increasing prices, implementing a dimensional weight pricing structure, wherein packages of all size are priced based on the amount of space the package occupies as it relates to its weight.

At the end of December, UPS prices rose 4.9 percent for all ground, air, international, and freight services in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

This week, FedEx prices also rose 4.9 percent for all domestic, import, and export services in America, as well as for FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground services.

3. Hotels

Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations said, “For hotels, business travel is up and unemployment is down, so rates will continue to tick up.”

Analysts forecast that hotel costs will rise 2.2 percent for international travelers, with a 3.5 percent increase in North American nations alone. Anyone traveling to Latin America should save up – hotel room prices are expected to rise 6.5 percent this year due to a shortage of rooms.

4. Air travel

The American Express Global Business Travel Forecast for 2015 indicates a 6.0 percent increase in prices for short-haul business flights, while the Global Business Travel Association predicts a 2.2 percent increase in prices for business air travel globally, and a 2.5 percent price increase within North America, and a 3.5 percent spike in cost for travel to Latin America.

Expect fewer flight bargains this year as the economy improves. Many are annoyed that gas prices are plummeting, but air travel isn’t following suit, and some are crying foul, but airlines don’t pay for jet fuel tank by tank like consumers do, rather they buy futures and hedge their bets (in this case, it was a good bet – in 2012, there were some bad bets). Jet fuel is expected to fall 17 percent in cost by the end of the year, but that will go toward profits, not bargains for you, friend.

5. Health care

Medical costs are expected to rise a whopping 6.8 percent in 2015, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper which also reports that 85 percent of employers are implementing or considering implementing increases in employee cost-sharing within three years. One in five employers now offer a high-deductible health plan as the only option for employees.

For those insured under the Affordable Care Act that aren’t looking at plan options before the open enrollment period ends on February 15th, a 20 percent increase for health insurance might be coming their way. Further, AARP reports that prescription drug prices will continue rising dramatically.

It’s not all bad news

The truth is that 2015 is going to cost a lot more for companies with traveling teams, but for those staying put, several business expenses are actually expected to go down – cloud storage, smartphones, smartwatches, software, and even many hardware options. So while technologies get less expensive, travel gets more expensive. If only there was a way to travel less and use technology more…

#2015costs

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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Business Finance

Can you afford missing a paycheck? Finance tips for freelancers

(FINANCE) Freelancers who are not always promised a regular paycheck could benefit from staying on top of their finances. Here’s our tips!

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Most Americans don’t have a regular savings account and could not handle a $1,000 emergency, let alone miss practically a month of pay. We all could benefit from some careful reflection about the precarious nature of our personal finances.

Particularly those of us who don’t receive a regular paycheck.

Entrepreneurs and those invested in the gig economy have volatile incomes, and literally no promise of a paycheck ever – that can impact your personal finances in a number of ways.

Variable incomes are normal for this group and can impact entrepreneurs in ways as simple as handling debt.

If this is you – here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you deal with the volatility of living on a variable income and handling your personal finances.  

  • Set up an emergency fund. Start with 500 if you have to, and remember this is an emergency fund for your personal expenses, not your business. If you have an emergency fund, make sure you identify what an emergency is and also be prepared to put money back when it comes out. If you have a hard time not spending money in front of you, put your money in a local bank or CU that you don’t have immediate access too.
  • Stick to a budget. when you can’t forecast your income appropriately, controlling expenses is so critical it’s the few things that are in your control.
  • Don’t mix business with personal. While you may be pouring your personal energy and time into your start-up or gig, be careful about mixing expenses for two reasons: First, it messes up your budget. You need to have separate budgets for personal and business. Second, there could be tax challenges – consult a tax professional for more information. Here’s a little primer to get you started.
  • Save for retirement. There are tax benefits and come on, don’t wait till you can’t work anymore. Also, an IRA IS NOT AN EMERGENCY FUND.
  • Practice good financial behaviors. Automate bill pay. Online statements. Digital receipt tracking. The more you can automate your life, the better you are. You already have so many demands on your time, reduce that so you can spend more time doing what you love and what matters.
  • Consider diversifying your income. Either ensure you have multiple strings or a backup gig (even if it’s just uber driving) or be prepared to do temporary or contract labor during your slow seasons.

The path to entrepreneurship is rough. If the government can be unstable, those of you who work in the world of startups, gigs, and entrepreneurship, need to be even more on your toes. The “normal recommendation” for saving is 10% of your income, but normal may not be enough for you. Be prepared and save (more) of your paycheck.

Disclaimer: I am neither a tax nor investment professional. This is personal financial advice and I encourage you to visit a professional if you need more specific plans of action.

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Business Finance

Under-representation of women in fintech: Let’s talk about it

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Representation of women in fintech remains scarce despite a prevalent population of interest. Why is this the case, and what can we do about it?

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Woman reading a document in front of her computer, one of the women in fintech.

Women are 50% of the population – so why are there only 9 of us on the 2020 Forbes Fintech 50?

I’m personally shocked by how underrepresented women are in such a lucrative industry. By 2022, it’s predicted that fintech, or financial tech, will be worth $26.5 trillion, and we cannot afford to miss out.

And I’m serious when I say fintech is truly taking over. This includes payment processing, online and mobile banking, person-to-person payments (think Venmo or Cash App), financial software, to name a few. For some perspective, half of consumers use digital banking services as the primary way to manage their money. That’s a big deal.

So why does it matter that women are drastically underrepresented in leading roles at these companies?

  • Women CEOs receive only 2.7% of all VC funding – that is astonishingly low, considering that the remaining 97.3% is secured by their male counterparts.
  • While a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review on leadership skills found that women scored higher than men in 17 out of 19 categories (I could’ve told you that), women founders make up only 17% of fintech companies. Some of the categories tested on were:
    • Bold leadership
    • Taking initiative
    • Resilience
    • High integrity & honesty
    • Collaboration and teamwork (this is a big one!)
    • Inspiring & motivating others

If you’re a woman interested in business, tech, or entrepreneurship looking to break into the big leagues, here’s some exclusive advice from lady CEOs, founders, and COOs:

  • Stay Passionate
    Suneera Madhani, Founder + CEO of Fattmerchant, says: “…remember why you started and hold that close to your heart when times get tough.”
  • Be Open to Learning
    “Never behave as the smartest person in the room because you may miss some of the best ideas.” Says Snejina, Co-founder + CEO of Insurify.
  • Trust Your Intuition
    As the Founder + CEO of Tala, Shivani Siroya urges us to: “Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimist. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.”

2021 is a new year full of opportunity – even though the odds are (and always have been) stacked against us, let’s have this be the year where women techies and business owners capitalize on their leadership skills. We have lost time – and profit – to account for.

Author’s Note: Thank you to CreditRepair for the linked infographic!

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Business Finance

TikTok users are making bank by copying Congress peoples’ investments

(FINANCE) TikTok, the short-form video platform, has users trading stocks tips. The newest strategy: following Congress peoples’ stock moves.

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TikTok isn’t just for funny dances, crude jokes, and kids born after the year 2000 (but crazy to think, they aren’t kids anymore, they could be 21…time flies). The short-form video platform that soared to be the #1 most downloaded app during the pandemic is giving tips to youngsters and millennials for their finances. The newest strategy: following and copying Congress’ stock moves.

This is in part to the not-so-surprising news of insider trading among politicians and the ability to duplicate trades of another user on platforms such as Iris, whose website says…

“Invest together with your family, friends, and brilliant people all over the world. Get real-time notifications when others make trades and copy their moves.”

Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, are the prime examples of government traders (or traitors, you decide) to watch. For example, Paul made $5.3 million through call options to buy 4,000 shares of Alphabet before the House Judiciary Committee voted on antitrust regulations. He also exercised $1.95 million worth of Microsoft stock just 2 weeks prior to the company’s awarded contract worth $22 billion for the use of their VR headsets in military training. Lastly, before President Joe Biden announced another incentive program for EV manufacturers, he also paid Tesla stock options for $1 million.

Nancy Pelosi at the podium.

Christopher Johns, the cofounder of Iris, said that every trade “inevitably turned out to be such a long-term winner.” Wonder how that’s possible (eye roll). He adds, “if they’re the ones passing the laws, it’s probably smart to keep up and see what they’re buying.”

And yes, their stock picks are considered public trading activity and this is perfectly legal. Trading is no longer a lone man in a dark room behind 3 large computer screens of graphs or Jim Cramer screaming in the background- it’s a full-on social activity, just like everything else nowadays.

There is a whole community behind these meme cryptos, penny stocks, and short squeezes. You’ll find them on r/wallstreetbets, Elon Musk’s Twitter, Facebook groups, and of course, trading TikTok, all contributing to the “Eat the Rich” scheme of Gamestop/AMC, the elaborate rise and fall of Dogecoin, and the now trending, 2nd dog-specific coin, Shiba Inu.

Laugh all you want, but these kids are working smarter, not harder, and even outsmarting the best in the league, by following the best in the league.

AMC, Gamestop, and Dogecoin.

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