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06/29/16 General

How to Own a Car the Cash Smart Way

auto-833792_640If you want to own a car but are a little bit intimidated by the amount of money that goes into car ownership, it’s time to get more acquainted with some of the great ways you can save money on car maintenance. If you approach your car the Cash Smart way, you’ll find that you are spending significantly less on car ownership than people around you.

First of course, you need to do your homework before buying a particular vehicle. You’ll want to avoid buying a lemon, so it can be a good idea to avoid used car dealerships. Despite their claims at having done X-point inspections and having the car’s history, you really have no idea who drove the car previously, how they handled it, or what accidents it has been in. If you are intent on buying a used car, because that really is the Cash Smart way, find one through your personal network where someone you know can assure you that the car was treated well, or at least that was the intention of its previous owner.

When it comes to actually maintaining your car, you’ll want to be sure to follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Missing some of these maintenance steps could lead to a much costlier repair job down the line. Instead of putting these off, get proactive and learn about your car’s repair history, what seems to be going bad now, and about repairs that will likely come up in the near future.

By getting educated about your car, you can save money by being prepared. If you know what you might need in the near future, keep a few spare parts on hand. Rather than wait for something to go wrong and have to source an overpriced part through your mechanic, you can show up to the mechanic before anything goes wrong with a replacement piece in hand. Source these pieces for much less at Advance Auto Parts. The best part about Advance Auto Parts, well, it’s hard to choose between so many parts in there, but the best thing about Advance Auto Parts is that the staff is very knowledgeable and will help you select exactly the right item for your car.

Get Cash Smart and get proactive about your vehicle’s health.

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04/16/16 General

5 Ways to Keep Your Data Secure

technology-785742_640High profile hacking cases and data breaches mean data security is top of many firms’ agendas at the moment. Here are five key ways to ensure your data is safely stored.

1. Draw up a proper data security clause – focus on data security rather than non-disclosure

People are often the weakest link when it comes to data security, and employees and contractors must be made aware of the dangers. Many companies adapt a traditional non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to deal with their online data storage. However, NDAs are not the best way to keep your data secure. NDAs tend to cover intentional disclosure of information to third parties, rather than accidental disclosure or disclosure because of hacking or another criminal act.

A data security clause, on the other hand, makes a requirement of measures like encryption, passwords, and locked cabinets. It also requires staff background checks, security audits, and the reporting of any leaks. Government regulations and company privacy policies must also be abided by in such clauses.

NDAs usually have an expiry date of 18 months or three years, or perhaps more. What happens to the information which you hold after that date? You could delete it, but what if you need to keep it and it has to be protected by law? Perhaps it’s something like staff national insurance numbers and banking details.

A data security clause usually has no end date, and information remains protected by it indefinitely. See more advice here.

2. Use a password manager

This helps avoid the use of the same password across multiple sites or platforms because we can’t remember a large number of passwords. That’s a bad idea if hackers get hold of one password and can access multiple accounts with it.

The software tool selects random, long passwords for you for each site, then synchronizes them. Try 1Password or LastPass.

3. Switch on disk encryption

Lose your phone or laptop without enabling this, and anyone can access your information and steal your identity. Think of the damage that could do to you or your company. Some Apple devices have this switched on by default, but if you’re on Windows, Mac OS, or Android, you need to enable it.

4. Encrypt text messages and phone calls

Some of mobile apps are much more secure than your mobile phone provider’s text and messaging service when it comes to hacking. Apps like WhatsApp or Apple’s FaceTime have built-in levels of security which are higher without turning on special features. You could also check out Signal,which is available in Apple’s App Store.

5. Use two-factor authentication for your laptops

This is a secondary level of security after your laptop’s initial password, in case anyone obtains that. This could involve a specialized app for your mobile phone which generates single-use login codes or a number selected at random and sent to your mobile by text, or a U2F, a security key which is like a USB drive and inserted into the USB port.

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04/04/16 General #

Finding the Right Forex Broker

Finding the Right Forex Broker

The Foreign Exchange market is the arena where two different nations can exchange their currencies for a rate that they mutually agreed upon.

The forex market may be the same as the stock market with major difference that with a forex market, traders try to earn money through the increase in the currency rates. In forex trading, the currencies are normally traded in pairs.

The most important currencies used in forex trading are Dollars, Yen and Pounds. A forex broker may be an individual who acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. They work for them for a small commission. A good forex broker is necessary to achieve success with the invested money.

One of the unique feature of the forex trading market is the many tactics that brokers are using to entice the traders to trade more. Some brokers may promise no exchange or no regulatory fees, no commissions or no data fees. To an individual who is new to forex trading, this may sound too good to pass up. Make no mistake. They’re here to make money and brokering is their business.

Of course, trading without transaction costs is a great advantage. However, sometimes, it is not the bargain that it seems. Sometimes it even sucks.

Fees vs commissions

I will now show you how forex broker fees are evaluated as well as the commission structures. This shall help you find one that will work best for you.

Forex brokers use three forms of commission and they are fixed spread, variable spread and commission based on the percentage of the spread.

The spread refers to the difference between the bid price and the ask price. The bid price is the price that the market maker prepared for you for buying the currency. The ask price is the price at which he is prepared to sell you the currency.

The forex broker may also act as a dealer giving online trading services to individuals or firms to help them speculate the changing foreign exchange rates. It is best to get help from professional forex brokers as with any other forms of trading. They understand the market better and can help you with all the questions you have in mind pertaining to the trade. They will guide you so you can start trading on your own. Many US and international companies recently starts providing software and other materials that traders can use to speculate the changes in the forex rates. There are normally trading rules which were put up by the forex brokers.

What makes a good broker?

A good broker should have the right software that will calculate the amount of profit made while trading currencies. They also provide excellent customer service. This shall help the client have an overall good experience with the trade. A good forex broker helps a beginner trader in the market even with a minimal amount and commission. They guide the client to have good leverage. They also utilize proper spread sheet analysis to show statistics and graphs of the current market.

For more information about forex broker rates, you may check this link CMC Markets brokerage rates.

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02/11/16 General

Improving your management team in 2016

conferenceSometimes in business, if times are tough the management team can be lacking in enthusiasm. Inevitably, there are always going to be highs and lows, but keeping management focused and fully engaged at all times should be a high priority for any business as they have the most influence on employees further down in the chain. Here are some ideas for keeping your leadership team motivated throughout 2016:

Bonus Incentives

It might sound a little crude but there’s nothing like a bonus incentive to get your staff feeling motivated again. If you offer your management team a sizeable sum for completing targets and making deadlines on time this will encourage them to be more efficient with their time at work. Although, it could be costly to the company, if it produces better results in the long term, the slight financial losses at first could soon become gains. Introducing a quarterly incentive to start with is always a great idea.

Training

Any sort of relevant training that is beneficial to your company is worth the financial costs in the long run. Development can spark new ideas and any sort of positive innovation is a step in the right direction towards expansion for your company. A really beneficial course is the Global Knowledge ITIL course which focuses on IT management service provisions. An informed and proactive IT team are an amazing asset to any company. When technology isn’t working and employees can’t complete tasks your company is effectively losing money so having an effective IT team is key to success.

Team Building

An essential part of any business is a cohesive and stable management team. Sometimes a leadership team that appear to be lacking in enthusiasm just need to gel together to be more productive. Team building activities and days out are crucial to success. Although it might seem a little less conventional often having a management team night out or an activity day can really help a team to come together and work more in sync with one another once they are closer on a personal level.

The financial costs of implementing these three methods should be worthwhile if they help to motivate your management team. A well-motivated and enthusiastic management team means a more proactive workforce who are driven to produce better results which is a great investment for any company’s future.

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02/09/16 General

Is it Time to Upgrade Your IT Systems?

technology-785742_640As impressive as IT systems can be, they don’t last forever. Over time, you’ll likely start to notice several signs that your company’s systems are starting to become a little worn down. Unless you want to end up facing potentially expensive repairs, it’s important to pay attention to these little signs and know when it’s time to upgrade.

Noticing a decrease in speed

One of the easiest and fastest ways to determine whether it’s time for an upgrade is when you start to notice the system slowing down. If you’ve been using the system for some time now, you’ll have a good idea of how quickly it usually responds to requests and processes.

It could be that over time your business has added more pressure to the server as it has evolved. For example, there could be more people accessing the server now, or there could be a lot more data on it that the system needs to process. Whilst regular maintenance can help, eventually you will need to upgrade.

It could be that you simply need to upgrade the server’s memory or processor. Or you may need an entire new system.

You’re struggling to keep up with the competition

A sluggish, old system could be costing you in more ways than you realise. For example, if your competitors are using brand new, powerful systems and yours is struggling to keep up, that could have an impact on your business. Customers will go where the fastest, best results are received.

So if you want to keep up with your competitors, you need to make sure you’re using the latest, most effective IT systems.

You find it difficult to get the right support

If you’re working with an older system, you may find it difficult to get support for both the software and hardware. Even if you can manage to find support, it will work out ultimately more expensive than the newer systems.

Obviously finance is going to be a big concern when it comes to upgrading. However, you can actually reduce the cost of a new system by selling your old one.

Overall, the above are just some of the signs that it may be time to upgrade. Your current system doesn’t have to be broken in order to invest in a newer system. Upgrading could save you money and improve performance.

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.