Protect Your Business and Employees from Fire

As a business owner, you are probably well versed in lowering your bottom line and increasing sales.  You look at budgets, spreadsheets, and marketing reports much of the day.  You meet with clients and produce your product.  However, if you have one employee or more, do you give much thought to fire safety and prevention?  Chances are, this is not high on your list.

However, it should be because one fire could wipe out all that you have worked so hard to build.  Here are some ways to make your business safer when it comes to potential fires:

1.  Consult with the local fire department.  The Seattle Fire Department offers business owners assistant with developing fire evacuation plans as well as training their staff.  Many other fire departments across the country also offer this service.  Simply call your fire department to see if this option is available for your city.

2.  Invest in fire extinguishers.  If you have not already done so, one of the simplest things you can do to prevent a spreading fire is to invest in fire extinguishers from or another company.  Fire extinguishers are not that expensive, and they can prevent a fire from spreading and causing serious damage.

3.  Have regular fire evacuation drills.  Make sure after you develop an evacuation plan that your employees are familiar with what they have to do.  The best way is to have practice drills.  Yes, drills can take your employees away from their work, but practice is the only way everyone will learn what to do in the event of a fire.

4.  Make sure you have the appropriate insurance.  Your business is likely your greatest asset.  Make sure you protect it by being properly insured.  Take the time every year to review your policy and see if you need to update it or increase coverage.

Thankfully, business fires are rare, but there is always the possibility that one will happen.  You don’t want to jeopardize your business or your employees by not being prepared.  Take steps now so that if a fire does occur, you are prepared and can either stop it from spreading, or, if that is not an option, you can prevent serious injury or loss of life.

Photo by EyeNo

3 Ways to Enjoy Your Retirement Online

I love the Internet.  There are so many different ways that you can kill some time online, it just seems amazing.  I have my favorite websites, and I’m sure that you do to, but here are some fun ways to kill time online.

Read the News

One of the most common things that I do online is stay up to date on current events.  I hit up the news sites several times a day to know what is going on in the world.  I also try to browse the finance news several times a day, and keep up to day with stock quotes of my favorite investments.

There are a lot of great sites to read the news on, but I stick to the basics of CNN and Yahoo Finance, but I also use the app Flipboard on my iPad to find the latest stories.

Play a Game

Another fun thing to do online is to play a game.  No matter what type of game you’re looking for, you can find it online.  Sometimes I like to stick to the basics, and will play single player games like Solitaire or Sodoku online.  However, other times I’d like to play with another person, and you can play games like Scrabble against others.

If you really want to step it up a notch, you can play massively multiplayer online games like World or Warcraft or Call of Duty.  These games do take a lot of time to learn and master, but they can be great time killers since they do take a lot of time.

Wager a Bet

Finally, you could always do a bit of gambling online at sites like JackpotCity Online Casino.  Sites like this have the full online experience of a casino available to you – from slots to table games.  Some online casinos even allow sports betting.  If you like to gamble, you may be able to find an online casino that fits your needs for fun!

Should You Consider Credit Card Consolidation?

If you have multiple credit cards and multiple interest rates, you may be wondering if consolidating credit cards could help you, or would hurt you in the end.  While there isn’t a right or wrong answer for your individual situation, here are some things you should think about when considering credit card consolidation.

Will It Make It Easier?

Many people look to credit card consolidation because having one credit card payment instead of multiple tends to be a lot easier from a bill paying and money management perspective.  Most financial pundits don’t recommend that people have more than 3 credit cards, because it can get really difficult to manage your spending across so many cards.  Then, the logistics of paying each of those bills can be challenging as well.

Will It Make It Cheaper?

Consolidating your credit cards can also make it cheaper to pay them off.  Many credit card companies offer 0% or low APR balance transfers for a set period of time.  If you have multiple high interest rate credit cards (say 19.99%), transferring to a lower interest rate card will save you on interest each month.  Then, if you do that for multiple cards at a high interest rate, you can really save a lot of money.  That is where credit card consolidation can really help you get out of debt faster.

Can You Qualify?  

The biggest question when it comes to consolidating your credit cards is if you apply for a credit card, will you be approved?  If you have a lot of credit card debt and haven’t really been responsible with it, it could be difficult to get a new credit card to consolidate all your other cards onto.  In order to qualify for the best interest rates (especially the 0% APR balance transfer rates), you typically need to have excellent credit.  To get excellent credit, you need to pay all your bills on time, including your multiple credit cards.  You also need to show the ability to pay off future debt, since the credit card company will not know you are looking to consolidate.

Buy Real Estate or Invest in Real Estate?

Many of the world’s richest individuals did it by owning real estate.  Many of the most popular “wealthy people” have done the same thing.  However, should you buy real estate, or just invest in it.  Here are a few thoughts…

Apartment Building

Photo by RenoTahoe

The Pros and Cons of Buying Actual Real Estate 

When I talk about buying real estate, I mean buying an actual physical property and renting it out.

The biggest positive of doing this is control and ownership.  You own the property and can do with it as you please.  You also have full control over the tenants and who you rent it to, as well as what to charge.

The drawbacks of real estate ownership are that you have to deal with the property as an owner.  This means mortgage, simple landlord insurance, taxes, utilities, and more. These expenses can quickly exceed the amount of rent you bring in, and also have a huge time implication as well.

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Real Estate

Owning physical real estate and renting it out is almost like a side business, because it does require a lot of involvement.  And if that doesn’t sound like your thing, but you still want to get into real estate, you could always invest in real estate.

The primary way to invest in real estate is to buy a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust.  These trusts act like shells that invest in real estate, and you get a portion of their earnings.

The advantage of investing in real estate, especially via REITs, is that the cost is lower, there is no real work required (beyond simple research), the transaction fees are much lower, and you can also be selective of what types of properties you invest in.

The biggest con of investing in a REIT is lack of control over the investments.  If the manager makes a mistake, you could lose thousands, if not more, on your investment.  This lack of concrete information makes investing in a REIT much different than real estate.