4 Ways to Communicate Effectively in the Workplace

Communication is one of the most common soft skills that employers and employees value. We all know that things would work better if we could communicate better, listen more, explain things more clearly, and so on.

Of course, communication is very important at work, but how can we really improve it? We’re glad you asked.

Below are four habits of effective workplace communication. The first two are simply verbal communication skills, but the second two include technological tools like group texts. The best way to achieve optimal communication in the workplace is to incorporate both methods into your day-to-day workflow.

1. Make Communication a Two-Way Street

There are few habits that stifle communication more than a lack of effective listening. Practice putting away all distractions when someone is telling you something important—or not important! Get your cell phone completely out of sight, for example. Look your coworker in the eyes.

Now and then, say something specific that you are understanding from what your coworker is telling you. That will show that you’re listening, and let him or her clarify if you misunderstood.

We misunderstand each other more often than we think! You can reduce this by listening instead of planning your response while the other person is still speaking.

2. Meet More Frequently and Consistently

To have great workplace communication, we need consistency and a higher frequency of quality meetings. If you’re a manager, set up consistent one-on-one meetings with each direct report on a regular and predictable schedule. It might be once a week, once a month, or some other time period that works for everyone and for your business cycle.

Your direct reports have to be able to rely on this communication session. Be consistent with them for some time until your meetings become a habit.

Once they get used to productive one-on-ones, your employees will gather their questions and comments and have them ready each time, successfully boosting efficiency and clarity of roles and expectations.

If you’re not a manager, you could let your manager know that you really need consistent meetings in this style. You could suggest that it be just a five-minute meeting at first in order to start creating a habit.

3. Set Up a Group Texting Service

One of the quickest ways to reach your direct reports or coworkers is through group texting. Everyone carries a cell phone, and if you send SMS texts, your coworkers can receive them even when they’re not on the internet.

These days, mass texting services are very simple to set up and use. Group texts are a reliable way to send your team emergency updates, meeting times, task reminders, and much more.

Group texting services are also quite affordable, and they can save you money and time. They can let you reach your employees or coworkers when other communication methods fail.

4. Get Good Feedback

Everyone on your team has a valuable perspective. Your employees who are on the front lines working with customers and products have knowledge and insights that could improve the company. So, you need to get feedback and suggestions from them.

 

Let them know that their thoughts are valuable and encouraged, and give them several options for sharing, such as email, one-on-one meetings, and group meetings. Also, give them a place to leave anonymous feedback, such as an online forum, a suggestion box, or a notebook.

The goal is to get the best, most candid ideas possible—and put them to good use to improve your organization!

Build a Culture of Communication

We all want to be heard, for our ideas to matter, and to have a great place to belong. Make your workplace more satisfying for everyone by building new communication habits and using them to create a better team.

How You Can Set Yourself Up For Financial Success In Your 20’s

Starting your financial growth in your 20’s can give you a huge head start on many of your peers. The most important thing that you can do during this time is to educate yourself financially. Most people were not taught the basics of living financially as an adult in school but do have a grasp of trigonometry. Taking a proactive approach towards your financial health will also help reduce poor spending habits of which we all have a few in our 20’s. The following are tips that will help set you up for financial success in your 20’s and beyond.

Pay Off Student Loans And Credit Card Debt

Taking care of debt is paramount as soon as possible as it will help your credit as well as help you take out loans in the future. The best thing you can do is to create a strategy and budget your loan payments. Try to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate is important as this can compound quite easily. Most of the time credit cards are the debts that have these high rates so take care of these first. It can take you years to pay off a credit card even if the balance is just a few hundred dollars if you continually pay the minimum payment month after month.

Start Contributing To A 401K

A small contribution out of each paycheck will make a huge difference when it comes time for retirement. If your company matches your contribution up to a certain percentage then take advantage of this as it is basically free money. People that start in their 20’s contributing to their retirement fund allow that money to grow over the course of their professional lives. This is the large nest egg that most people rely on after retirement combined with their social security monthly payments.

Grow Your Money With Stocks

Participating in dividend growth investing can be a perfect way to grow money without too much risk. There are certain stocks that have produced a return for a decade or multiple decades straight. Diversifying your portfolio while young is important as stock with a little bit more risk can yield far great rewards. If you work in a specific industry and know a company is producing the right products or services investing in their stock is important. Of course this company is going to have to be publicly traded unless you are going to invest privately.

Live At Home With Parents Until You Can Put A Down Payment On A Home

Living at home with your parents is going to cut back all of your costs even if they charge you rent. Parents usually are more than willing to take in their child after college if they are working full-time, following house rules, and are saving money for a home. The ability to purchase a townhouse in your 20’s can be a huge financial opportunity especially if you find multiple roommates. This will help pay off your mortgage quickly and could even help pay it off by the end of your 20’s. This property can now be used as a rental income which will produce monthly which can pay the mortgage or part of the mortgage on a new home.

As you can see there will take quite a bit of self-restraint and sacrifice in a personal sense. The stress that you will take off of your shoulders by handling your debts and student loans will be immense. Enjoy being financially healthy in your 20’s as very few peers of yours can claim that.

Day-to-Day Decisions That Will Make You Money

What do you do when you want to save more money? If you’re like most people, you hop on the Internet to get some ideas. It’s a great way to brainstorm, but there’s just one problem: these tips always involve cutting out your morning coffee to set aside extra cash.

While choosing to brew your own coffee could save you more than $1,000 a year, it isn’t the only way to adjust your budget. This is good news to any bean heads.

If coffee is one of the few pick-me-ups in your day, don’t skip it. Try these other tips to limit spending and boost saving.

Cut the Cord

Still watching shows the old-fashioned way? Cancel your TV package and you stand to save hundreds of dollars a month.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to give up on your favourite shows or movies. With subscriptions services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, you can catch up on Game of Thrones for a fraction of the cost of cable.

Switch up Your Commute

Do you start the average workday by jumping into your car and peeling out onto the roads, only to get stuck in traffic? Your long commute to and from work could be costing you.

If it’s possible, try walking or cycling to work. They’re free, and they’re a lot less stressful than driving through gridlock. If you live too far away to walk or bike, try carpooling with others. You’ll have a friend to talk to who splits the bill of parking and gas.

Stop Paying Banking Fees

How often do you get dinged for taking money out of the ATM? Or what about just keeping your money in a chequing account? The big banks have service fees and minimum monthly balances that eat into your bottom line.

Although bank fees may feel like an unavoidable charge, you can escape them by switching to a credit union. A credit union is a cooperative approach to banking that shares the profits with its customers. Rather than raising fees each year, a credit union maintains affordable daily banking services with higher interest rates on deposits.

To find out more about how a credit union can offer the same banking services at a lower fee, stop by a First Calgary Financial location to talk with a specialist.

Skip the Gym

Working on that beach bod? Your hopes and dreams for 6-pack abs could be draining your savings.

Although it may only cost you roughly $50 a month, this adds up to $600 a year. This is a lot of money considering most people with memberships don’t go to the gym at all.

By skipping the gym altogether, you stand to keep more money in your pocket — but without sacrificing your health. You can stay active without the gym. There are plenty of free apps and videos that walk you through cardio workouts, weight training tips, and specific exercises such as yoga and Pilates.

Find Savings Where it Makes Sense

If you enjoy your daily coffee too much to give it up, then don’t! Take a sip and savour that sweet, caffeinated beverage.

Saving is all about sacrificing some things to afford others. If you keep your daily coffee, find another daily expense you can easily live without. Start with cable, banking fees, or a gym membership, but don’t stop there. Look to your budget to find unique expenses you can cut out, so you can keep fun treats and save, too.

Investment Tips of the Canadian Newbie Looking to Their Future

Being a Canadian investor is not easy. The typical fund in Canada has higher total expenses than mutual funds do across the border. Nevertheless, it’s possible to do well as an investor when taking the right steps and approaching the investment processes carefully.

Here are some useful tips for Canadians looking to their future.

Don’t Save Too Little

If you’re saving for retirement, then you’ll probably need at least 25 times what you spend annually in retirement. That’s a considerable amount of money.

For most Canadian investors, they will need to save and invest over a couple of decades to accumulate enough. When doing so, don’t make the mistake of overestimating the returns you’ll receive. Sometimes markets have been rising steadily for a few years and the likelihood of strong near-term future returns is slim.

Look to the next 10-20 years but ratchet down your return expectations. Accordingly, save more to compensate for frothy markets that might not do gangbusters for a while.

Look Closely at the Management Expense Ratio

One thing to watch out for with Canadian investing is the Management Expense Ratio (MER).

The investment fees for actively managed funds are some of the highest in North America. Many Canadian funds come close to 2% in fees. When you consider that long-term returns are usually not more than 4-5% above inflation, that’s a huge chunk out of what you might receive.

Most investors in Canada are better off using a financial advisor like Berger Financial Group. Then seek out a balanced indexed portfolio using low-cost funds that track the market. Bear in mind that trying to beat the market is not worthwhile as few actively managed funds achieve that over 10+ years.

Get Enough Diversification

Investing in Canada is a bit tricky because the Canadian stock market is not anywhere as large as the U.S. one. It’s also dominated to a dangerous extent by the financial and energy sectors.

It’s a good idea to get adequate diversification by investing in Canadian businesses along with some American ones and companies in Europe and Asia too. This provides more balance to your returns to smooth them out. Also, you have the choice whether to buy index funds that have been hedged to the Canadian Looney; if you’re worried, consider hedging if you’re staying in Canada for the rest of your life.

Know Your Risk Tolerance

Risk tolerance is how much you can accept when your investment portfolio declines steeply in value.

Put simply, the more equities (stock market) investments that you own, the greater fluctuations in value that you’ll experience. The more bonds/fixed income you have, the less the ride will give you an upset stomach.

The trick with risk tolerance is to get the stock/bond mix right for you before the market takes a nosedive. The last thing you need is to be calling up your financial advisor telling them to sell all stocks after their values have plummeted. This locks in losses before they have ever had a chance to rebound back to their previous values. You cannot change your risk tolerance after a steep decline – you’ll never get ahead that way.

Start slowly, learn what you need to about investing and never invest in something that you do not fully understand.

Revamp Your Financial Life: Start Practicing These Healthy Money Habits

People think there is some kind of magic formula to living in a budget friendly manner. The truth is that if you are mindful about your spending then being budget friendly really is not that hard. You might have to tweak a few parts of your life but not worrying about bills due to financial health is extremely appealing. The best thing that you can do is to understand what constitutes a good purchase or allocation of your financial resources. A proactive approach is necessary as you can easily spend quite a bit of money if you don’t keep your budget in your mind. The following are healthy money habits that will help you revamp your financial life.

Stop Eating Out Or Ordering In So Much

The ease of ordering food in is at a higher level than ever as you can order food then track where your driver is. The ability to do this allows people to plan out their orders and have food arrive as soon as they get home. This temptation can be quite expensive though when compared to cooking food that you bought at the grocery store. People that go out to eat frequently are paying for the experience of being served rather than just for the ingredients in their meals. Combining this with the ridiculous markup on alcohol and you could be wasting quite a bit of money for average food on a monthly basis. If you do not like cooking you will still save on prepped meal packages that are popular with busy professionals when compare to eating out or ordering in.

Reduce Your Fixed Costs Where Possible

There are fixed costs that simply might be too high like that of your car insurance or health insurance. These can be huge expenses when you can get a similar plan from another company for far cheaper. Cable TV is another place where people are wasting an immense amount of money when there are plenty of streaming platforms that even stream live sports. Phone plans are also another source of wasted money as many smaller carriers simply piggyback off of larger carriers and their satellites. Do not think that you will be getting $100 more of service or convenience just because your phone carrier is a huge company.

Educate Yourself About Investing

Once you have figured out how to save money on a monthly basis and are able to predict how much you need to have a plan for this money. Letting money just sit in a savings account is not wise as there are mutual funds and dividend stocks that can grow money at a much faster rate. Take a look at things like The Intelligent Investor Review to see if this would be a great piece of educational material to read. Diversifying your investments is important so come up with a plan that will help you grow your money and potentially earn quite a bit through different types of investments.

Practicing the above tactics will help improve your financial health immensely. The ability to save and grow your money monthly is a luxury that you have earned so continue to do so for as long as possible.

How the Internet of Things is Affecting the World and Why You Should Invest in 2019

 
A major technological paradigm shift has fundamentally changed how the world around us operates. A few centuries ago, this would have been the industrial revolution, and today change has been dominated by innovative technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).
While the opportunity to reap the impressive financial gains provided by the Industrial Revolution is long gone, there is still plenty of time to capitalize on the growth of IoT. Our smart devices are now increasingly interconnected, and the value of IoT-related companies is likely to increase.
 
From healthcare to manufacturing, the Internet of Things is set to change how entire industries operate fundamentally. Now is the perfect time to learn more about the impact of IoT and how you can leverage it to increase your own financial gain.
 
Just What Is IoT? Why Does It Matter?
The Internet of Things has come to be known as the extension of internet connectivity to physical devices everyday objects. In other words, IoT represents the expansion of modern computing technologies past the traditional laptop or desktop and into the vehicles and sensors of the future.
 
The Internet of Things represents a fundamental shift in how society interacts with technology, as now (and more so in the future) almost every device will be connected to the internet in some way, shape, or form. In short, IoT matters because it has the potential to change how our world functions.
 
How Is IoT Changing Investing?
At this point, you are probably asking yourself questions like, “Can the connectivity provided by IoT technology actually lead to superior gains in the market?”. While it’s hard to directly answer this question without wading into the world of investment advice, some trends are starting to become apparent.
 
For one, many industries (ranging from healthcare to energy) are starting to make the Internet of Things a cornerstone of their business models. We have already seen the impressive impact that IoT has had on the manufacturing industry and expect this trend to continue developing across a variety of industries.
 
Best IoT Stocks for 2019
With a clear understanding of what IoT has to offer, it’s time to unveil the top IoT stock for 2019:
 
CAP-XX LTD (CPX)
CPX is one of the leading firms in the super-capacitors space. This may sound like its unrelated to IoT, but such electronic components may actually enable the explosive growth of IoT to continue. Thanks to their unique properties, Super-capacitors enable power solutions that help make advanced IoT technology possible.
 
LightWaveRF PLC (LWRF)
LWRF has developed a unique (and most importantly, proprietary) IoT platform that assists customers in better integrating this tech into their smart homes. As the first company to provide an all-in-one IoT app solution, they’ve gotten off to a great start. More importantly, LWRF appears poised to continue its growth as they partner with popular brands such as Amazon Alexa and Google Nest.
 
Tern PLC (TERN)
TERN specializes in the development of software for the cloud, Internet of things, and traditional mobile devices. With numerous business holdings, some of which are industry leaders in the field of IoT security, TERN is playing an important role in improving the future of IoT systems. As cybersecurity continues to be a pressing issue, investing in IoT security looks to be a great choice.
 
Ilika PLC (IKA)
Similar to CPX, this company specializes in electronic components that play a crucial role in IoT devices. Specifically, IKA creates industry-leading solid-state batteries that are uniquely capable of meeting the demands of IoT technology. From smart homes to the medical and transportation sectors, IKA batteries are powering the powering of IoT behind-the-scenes.
Clearly, there are a number of great IoT stocks out there. While these picks are our favorite, we encourage you to do your own research and due diligence before investing. Here’s to the continued growth of IoT and the market, together!
By David Corne
Want more investment advice? Visit financialhobby.com.

Debt Crisis Canada: All You Need to Know about Consumer Debts

Canada’s debt crisis is becoming a threat to the country’s economy. According to Canada Statistics, the debt-to-income ratio of most Canadians increased in the fourth quarter of 2018 after the debts slightly outpaced the growth in income. The looming household debts result from the unprecedented number of people who borrow more than what they earn.

In March 2019, the Bank for International Settlements’ (BIS) quarterly review stated that Canada’s risk to fall in a debt crisis dropped significantly over the previous year. However, out of 75% of Canadians are still living in debts, and 31% claim that they don’t have enough money to cater for their needs, putting the country at a higher risk of a debt crisis.

Why Many Canadians are in Debt

An average Canadian has a consumer debt of about $8,500, excluding mortgages. About 14% of Canadians have consumer debts between $10,000 and $25,000, while 14% have debts of more than $25,000. The credit card debts contribute the most significant percentage to household debts in Canada.

Now, let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the factors that contribute to high consumer debts in Canada.

 

  • High Living Costs

 

Most Canadians go into debts not because they are spendthrift, but to get money for their necessary living expenses. In 2017, Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. issued a report explaining that most people with low incomes take out loans to cover living expenses.

 

  • Abusive Usage of Credit Cards

 

Considering how credit cards are easier to use than cash, most people end up misusing them, posing a huge risk to the Canadian economy. While credit cards make payments convenient, they can land users into financial trouble.

Most Canadians use credit cards to transact. In March 2019, the Bank of Canada issued a report stating that 89% of Canadians have at least one credit card. As most credit cards charge higher interest rates of up to 22% or more, it might be challenging to pay off the entire debt once you begin using the card.

 

  • Lower Income

 

Another reason why most Canadians struggle with multiple debts is because of lower incomes, especially if the expenses outpace income. As a result, they end up spending more than what they can afford. By doing so, the consumer debts my most likely increase.

 

  • High Income Tax

 

When it comes to public services, most Canadians spend more than half of their income on taxes imposed on the services. Average Canadians with middle incomes spend about 63% of their income on public services, leaving them with a little amount of money to save or spend on their daily expenses.

 

  • Income Inequality

 

According to Larry Brown, the president of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), most Canadians struggle with debts because of income inequality. The latest report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) states that about half of Canadian households are $200 or less far from insolvency.

How to Avoid Debt Traps

Multiple debts are unhealthy because they reduce savings, and can lower your credit score if not paid on time, tarnishing your financial reputation. In a nutshell, let’s take a look at some of the tips that can save you from getting into debt traps.

  • Spend money on what you can afford. Spending more than what you earn can land you into debt traps
  • Save at least 20% of your income for unexpected expenses or emergencies
  • Pay your bills on time to avoid late charges. That will not only save you from debts but also stabilize your credit score
  • Spend less than your credit limit to prevent high-interest charges

Final Words

Canada’s household debts have been growing over time, putting Canadians at financial risks. If you are struggling with multiple debts and you need to get out of debt traps, Loans Geeks can offer a great solution. Not to mention, the website has helped many Canadians to pay off their debts on time.

How Do Construction Loans Work?

Building a new home is a dream for many Canadians, but unless you’re paying with cash, you’ll need to obtain a construction loan to make your dream a reality. These loans are different from conventional mortgages, so it’s important to understand how they work before you even think about starting the building process.

Types of Construction Loans

According to Maxiron Capital, construction loans are short-term and used to finance a building. There are two main types of construction loans:

  • Standalone: The first loan pays for the construction. Once you move in, you obtain a mortgage to pay off the construction debt. Ultimately, you’re taking out two separate loans.
  • Construction-to-permanent: You obtain a loan to pay for construction. Once you move in, the lender converts the balance into a permanent mortgage. It’s like having two loans in one package.

It’s important to understand the difference between these two types when applying for your loan.

Standalone

Standalone construction loans aren’t as popular as they once were, but it may work out well if it allows you to put down a smaller down payment. If you already own a home and don’t have much cash for a down payment, this type of loan may allow you to stay in your current home while your new home is being built.

But there are some drawbacks to a standalone construction loan:

  • You’ll pay two sets of closing costs: one on the construction loan, and one on the permanent mortgage.
  • You won’t be able to secure a maximum mortgage rate. If rates rise while your home is being built, your permanent mortgage may have a higher-than-expected interest rate.

Construction-to-Permanent

With a construction-to-permanent loan, you only have to worry about one closing. This reduces the fees that you have to pay.

While the home is being constructed, you’ll only have to pay interest on the outstanding balance. The interest rate will be variable during construction, meaning that it will move up or down with the prime rate.

Once the construction is complete, your lender will convert the construction loan into a permanent mortgage. The permanent mortgage is just like any other home loan. You can choose between a fixed-rate and an adjustable rate loan. You can also choose between a 15-year and 30-year mortgage.

With many lenders, you have the ability to lock in a maximum rate once the construction begins. Generally, lenders will require a down payment of 20% with this type of loan. Of course, every lender will have its own requirements.

One other important thing to note: construction loans are generally harder to obtain than a conventional mortgage. Because you don’t have a complete home as collateral, qualifying for a loan can be challenging. The lender will also want to be sure that you can afford to pay the monthly interest payments in addition to your existing mortgage or rent.

Don’t let the challenge of obtaining a construction loan deter you from building your dream home. If you take the time to make sure that your finances are in order and that your credit is in excellent shape, securing a construction loan may not be as challenging as you think.

 

 

 

4 Things You’ll Need To Do Before Starting a Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you’re probably an ambitious person.  It’s admirable to want to create something of your own. However, if you’ve never been an entrepreneur before, then you have a lot to learn before getting started. It’s essential to know all the ins and outs of how things work so that you can be prepared as possible ahead of time.

Since most businesses fail within the first two years, you need all the luck you can get.  So take a look at some of the things that you’ll need to do before starting your own business.

Determine Whether It’s a Profitable Industry

Many people have great ideas.  However, great ideas don’t always equal a fantastic profit.  It’s essential to determine whether you anticipate your business idea has real money-making potential.

You can do this by looking at your competitors and studying the market.  How many businesses fail vs. succeed? How much competition do you have in your area?  Can you offer superior distribution and delivery times?  Do you have the resources to ensure your product exceeds the quality of theirs? By measuring the potential money-making success that you’re looking at, you’ll be able to know whether it’s worth your time and energy.

Find Investors

Unless you have a considerable amount of money lying around, chances are you’re going to need to find an investor. You’ll have all sorts of course that you’ll be looking out if you hope to grow a successful business.

herefore, you need to either ask the bank for a loan or find a private investor.   Your investor is going to want to see a detailed business plan about how you plan on using the money wisely to turn a profit. Your chances of being approved for a loan will be much higher the more prepared that you are.  So gather all the possible information you can and then some.

Create a Marketing Plan

Even with the best product or service in the world, customers aren’t going to find you on their own. You’ll need to create a successful marketing strategy which will attract and retain customers.

If you have no experience in marketing, then you may want to outsource this to someone else.   Your marketing should be professional and effective; otherwise, your chances of succeeding are likely very low.

Create a Name

One of the most critical aspects of your business is how you present yourself.  What do you stand for as a company? Your name will play a crucial role in how potential customers perceive you as a company.

If the goal is to become a household name, then be sure to choose one that you think we’ll stick and people will identify with.  Once you choose your name, it’s best not to change it again. You may confuse your customers and lose your following.

3 Things To Teach Your Kids About Money While They’re Young

Part of being a parent is preparing your kids to live productive lives once they become adults. While this includes things like getting a formal education and learning how to take care of themselves, many parents neglect to give their children proper lessons in personal finance.

Whether this is an innocent omission or it’s glossed over due to talking about finances being taboo, it only does a disservice to your children is you send them out into the world without knowing at least a few basic principles of finance. To help you in teaching these things to your children, here are ideas to teach your kids about money while they’re young.

To Delay Gratification For Something They Want

Especially when kids are very young, they can’t understand or fathom the idea of delaying their own gratification for any reason. When they want something, they want it now. And while this often works out for them, this isn’t a trait that should be indulged for long.

Consequently, Laura Shin, a contributor to Forbes.com, recommends that, from an early age, you teach your children that it’s possible and sometimes necessary to delay their gratification for things they want. If you can teach your kids how to not buy something impulsively or spend money now when it should be saved, you can save them a lot of hardship in the future.

How To Earn Money

From a young age, your children can learn about earning their own money. When they’re little, you’ll have to be the one giving them simple jobs to do and then compensating them appropriately. But as they get older, it’s wise to encourage your kids to get jobs of their own.

According to Madison Dupaix, a contributor to The Balance, it can be even more beneficial if you can nurture any entrepreneurial spirit your teen has by helping them to start their own business. As long as their idea is safe and legal, like not pet sitting for animals that will harm them or using proper equipment for landscaping, your teen could learn so much more than just the basics of making money.

The Importance Of Saving

Not only should you teach your kids about making money and then wisely spending that money, but you should also stress the importance of learning how to save money for a future purpose.

To help make this idea stick more, DaveRamsey.com suggests that you have your children save their money in a clear jar so that they can visually see how their savings grows and grows as they add money to it and abstain from making withdrawals.

If you want to give your kids the best chance of finding financial success in their adult years, consider how you can best teach them some of the financial principles mentioned above.