Gopen Finance Consultant

Watch your finances like a hawk.

Month: January 2018

Step To Opening Bank Account

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 kids to learn how to open a bank account.

Similarly, there was a huge call out for:

  • 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.This article is the first article in the four-part series and will discuss the best and simplest way to get started with opening a bank account.

It seems easy, but there are several questions many people never think of that we’ll address in this article:

  1. Which bank?
  2. Checking or savings account?
  3. Are there fees or minimum balances?
  4. Should I get a Debit Card too?
  5. Should I have my name on the account with my kid?

1. Choosing a Bank

When you choose a bank, there are a few criteria you’ll want to look at:

  1. Location
  2. Number of branches
  3. Ease of access

The location should be convenient to your home, but also have enough branches so that – in the case of an emergency – you can get to your bank.I opened an account with Elevations Credit Union when I was attending CU Boulder. It was convenient and credit unions are really great to bank with. However, after I graduated and moved, there were no branches around me, which made things very inconvenient. I ended up opening an account with US Bank since they are in about every King Soopers, where I do my grocery shopping.

This is especially important with kids because you don’t want them to have to drive too far just to bank.

Similarly, ease of access into the branch is important. I remember having a Norwest (now Wells Fargo) account, and getting in and out of the bank’s parking lot was terrible. I had several near-miss car accidents and dreaded even going to the bank.

2. Checking or Savings Account

As you’ll learn in the future article about saving and budgeting, there should be an account that is used for saving and investing.

That means it’s important to have BOTH a checking and savings account.

The reason a checking account is important, is so that kids can learn how to write checks, and have a designated spending account aside from a designated savings account.

Checking accounts are important for paying bills (be it online or via mail) and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to write checks. Even if check writing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, it’s still important.

I was shopping one day and realized I forgot my wallet, which had my credit cards and cash. I started to panic because I needed some food. Fortunately, I keep a couple of checks in the car and was able to save myself by writing a check… they still come in handy!

3. Fees & Minimum Balances

Some banks have fees to have an account and others don’t. Obviously get the one that doesn’t since your kid shouldn’t have a huge account. Likewise make sure there isn’t a minimum balance or a very small ($10 or less) minimum balance.

Just as important is how overdrafts are handled!

When I was in college, it never failed: my peers (who hadn’t learned how to balance an account) would routinely trigger their overdraft protection and the hefty fees that went along with it.

They would look at their balance online and it would show $10. Then they’d check it again a few days later and it was at $30.

It was the magical growing bank account; and they never wondered where the extra money came from. Until the end of the month when they had over $200 in overdraft protection fees!

I would suggest NOT getting overdraft protection and instead making darn sure they can balance their account (which we’ll cover in a future article).

4. What About a Debit Card?

Here’s my thoughts on kids having debit cards: it makes it much, much harder to balance the bank account while making it much easier to overspend and run into trouble.

Are ATM machines convenient? Yes, but I have never once used one in my entire life. Part of teaching kids life skills is to teach them to be prepared. I keep an extra $10 in cash plus a few checks in my car. It wouldn’t bother me if it got stolen.

If you’re determined that your kid gets a debit card, wait at least six months after opening their account so they can learn “the old fashioned way” and understand how the debit card affects their account when they actually start using it.

5. Should I Be On The Account Too?

I think it’s a very good idea for you to be on your kid’s first account so you can monitor their spending and make sure they don’t cause a train wreck.

It’s good to get statements so that you can use that as a learning experience to go over them with your kid and teach them how to properly dispose of them (in a shredder) so that they decrease their risk of identity theft.

Come up with a time frame or benchmarks until you pull yourself off the account and let your kid take on the responsibility of an individual account.

Opening a bank account is a huge step into a new world for kids and it should be a great experience. Walk your kids through the setup and look for the learning opportunities along the way.

All About Blockchain Finance

Let’s say that a new technology is developed that could allow many parties to transact a real estate deal. The parties get together and complete the details about timing, special circumstances and financing. How will these parties know they can trust each other? They would have to verify their agreement with third parties – banks, legal teams, government registration and so on. This brings them back to square one in terms of using the technology to save costs.

In the next stage, the third parties are now invited to join the real estate deal and provide their input while the transaction is being created in real time. This reduces the role of the middleman significantly. If the deal is this transparent, the middleman can even be eliminated in some cases. The lawyers are there to prevent miscommunication and lawsuits. If the terms are disclosed upfront, these risks are greatly reduced. If the financing arrangements are secured upfront, it will be known in advance that the deal will be paid for and the parties will honour their payments. This brings us to the last stage of the example. If the terms of the deal and the arrangements have been completed, how will the deal be paid for? The unit of measure would be a currency issued by a central bank, which means dealing with the banks once again. Should this happen, the banks would not allow these deals to be completed without some sort of due diligence on their end and this would imply costs and delays. Is the technology that useful in creating efficiency up to this point? It is not likely.

What is the solution? Create a digital currency that is not only just as transparent as the deal itself, but is in fact part of the terms of the deal. If this currency is interchangeable with currencies issued by central banks, the only requirement remaining is to convert the digital currency into a well-known currency like the Canadian dollar or the U.S. dollar which can be done at any time.

The technology being alluded to in the example is the blockchain technology. Trade is the backbone of the economy. A key reason why money exists is for the purpose of trade. Trade constitutes a large percentage of activity, production and taxes for various regions. Any savings in this area that can be applied across the world would be very significant. As an example, look at the idea of free trade. Prior to free trade, countries would import and export with other countries, but they had a tax system that would tax imports to restrict the effect that foreign goods had on the local country. After free trade, these taxes were eliminated and many more goods were produced. Even a small change in trade rules had a large effect on the world’s commerce. The word trade can be broken down into more specific areas like shipping, real estate, import/export and infrastructure and it is more obvious how lucrative the blockchain is if it can save even a small percentage of costs in these areas.

Tips Keeping Your Cash Flow

MISTAKE 1: NOT LINKING YOUR BANK TO XERO

Why?

You could potentially miss when a customer pays, or worse not notice if they don’t pay, and may run into cash issues using old data, rather than real time up to date information.

What to do:

Imagine logging into an app every day which has pulled in the bank transactions from your online banking system. This means you can immediately match payments in and out of your bank to your customer invoices and any payments due to suppliers such as hosting costs, contractors etc. Xero Touch operates on IoS and Android and provides a real time hand held update on your business finances, meaning you can be anywhere in the world and never be in the dark.

MISTAKE 2: NOT BILLING YOUR CUSTOMERS ON TIME

Why?

There is nothing worse than doing the work, getting side-tracked with the next job and forgetting to bill for the first job. This can cause cash flow issues if it extends into more and more jobs, yet too often we find people are literally too busy with the work to action this.

What to do:

1) For one-off projects, when agreeing on the initial fee for the job create a quote on Xero which you can then turn into an invoice at the touch of a button when the work is done; and

2) For retainer jobs or repeat, subscription income create a repeating invoice on Xero which means the invoice gets issued each month until you tell it to stop. As an example, our invoices go out on the 1st of each month while we are sleeping!

MISTAKE 3: NOT SENDING YOUR INVOICES TO THE RIGHT PERSON

Why?

If your customers are small businesses, this won’t be a big issue as the person you agree to do the work for will likely also pay the bills. Imagine, however, that you are dealing with much larger firms, with multiple sites, multiple departments and running bureaucracy crazy processes. If you don’t get the invoice to the right person and department it simply won’t be paid when you need it to be.

What to do:

When the fee is agreed with your contact get details on how the invoice will be paid, specifically finding out if the invoice needs a reference for their system (e.g. a purchase order) and the details of who the invoice should be emailed to (never post An invoice when it can be emailed!). Then email the invoice from Xero to your contact and the payments department and attach all the backup to the invoice when sending.

MISTAKE 4: NOT MAKING IT EASY TO PAY THE INVOICE Why?

Your customers are busy people just the same as you. What would you do if you received an invoice without bank details on it? You would procrastinate unintentionally and say, “I must check up on that” while never doing so as a million other things come in.

What to do:

Xero now allows you to insert a “pay now” link on your invoice. So, when the email is received (see Mistake 3 – never issue an email other than by email), the recipient can see the backup to the invoice and an extremely handy button which allows them to literally pay within a few clicks. Imagine being paid within an hour or so of the invoice going out! We recommend you set-up a PayPal or Stripe account for credit card payments and GoCardless for bank transfers to offer as much choice as possible.

Why Strong Connection Is Important

This construction bond is the title given to a kind of surety bond that has been made to come into use by investors in projects related to construction. This step has mostly been taken to provide a certain kind of protection against a very severe kind of event taking place that can cause a certain kind of hindrance or failure in the completion of the project, the reason behind it being the insolvency of the builders or the inefficiency of the job to meet ends with the specifications of the contract.

Usually you will notice the existence of three kinds of parties in a construction bond, namely they are the party that has a hand behind the building of the project, the eventual owners and then finally you have the surety company that has got the back of the bond.

As for the types, this kind of bond contains three types; let us have a look at the list:

• THE BID BONDS

In situations where as the expected honor and respect for the bid by the principal which in this case might be the contractor is not met, this bid bond comes into the picture where it provides protection to the owner of the project. The obligee held under the existence of this bond in this case is the owner and he absolutely has the rights to sue the surety and the principal if he wills to in order to establish the enforcement of the bond. In case the principal refuses to extend any kind of honor to the concerned bid, then he takes the responsibility of being liable for any kind of additional costs that might surface.

• THE PERFORMANCE BONDS

This performance bond is used to provide a kind of assurance or rather guarantee by the contractor or the principal. This guarantee talks about the completion of the contract in full accordance with its respective terms. IF under any circumstances, the principal is seen to be facing defaults, the owner holds the right of calling upon the surety to ensure that the contract meets its completion. In that case, the surety will have no other choice but to hand over the contract to a new designated contractor.

• THE PAYMENT BONDS

This is the kind you head to when you need all your payments to be guaranteed, the payments that have been lying under the due tag to subcontractors and some other from the mentioned principal. The subcontractors and the suppliers are the ones who qualify as the beneficiaries for the payment bond. This bond proves to be of a tremendous benefit to the owner especially, the reason being that it comes as a substitute to the mechanic’s liens as a non-payment remedy.

© 2018