Discussing Finances with Grown Kids Who Live at Home

Discussing Finances

With the economy as it is, it is more and more common for young people to stay at home with the parents longer or to return home after being out on their own for a while. In addition to the negotiations that need to take place over privacy, responsibility, chores, etc. discussing finances can be a huge challenge. Here are some tips for talking about finances and discussing money and work with adult children who are living at home:

Your personal values will dictate whether you want to charge grown children rent, or ask them to contribute to the groceries, utilities or other household expenses while they are living at home. Some parents feel it is important for kids living at home to contribute while others see their role as supporter and do not make any requests. Once you decide how you feel and what your belief system is, it is important to also consider what is best for the grown children. Is it better for them to contribute? Could they be asked to pay for any additional expenses above and beyond the normal household expenses? Whatever you decide, the first step is to become clear in your thinking before sitting down with your child.

Prepare an adjusted budget that you can share as part of the discussion. Many parents would rather just pay for things than to discuss finances with their children (even if they are adults.) If you are going to have the discussion, however, be prepared and have the figures written out so you can stay focused on the finances and not speak in vagaries.

Try to keep the emotions and past out of the discussion. Just because a grown child was financially irresponsible as a youth does not mean that they will be that way forever. In fact, this might be a “second chance” for you to help an adult child develop financial management and responsibility. Stay in the present and try to talk about finances as two adults-not as parent and child. Stay focused on keeping your relationship separate from discussions about money.

Set goals and limits on the financial changes. If the ultimate goal is for the adult child to move back out on his or her own, design your financial arrangement to facilitate that and discuss the steps it is going to take. If the young person needs to save for a housing deposit or pay off debts-make this a priority and develop a plan together for how it can be accomplished. Again, keep emotions out of it and focus on the financial realities. Decide how flexible you can be and set deadlines for when payments will be made and stick to them. If you can be clear and concise from the beginning, it may make the living together run smoothly.

 

Six Radical Ways to Save Money

Six Radical Ways to Save Money

Let’s start with a confession: I have never been cool. I don’t ever think back on my glory days in the club scene. Photos of me from nearly any period of my life reveal me to be hopelessly out-of-touch with all things fashionable. It’s not because I’m not in my twenties anymore. It’s not because I’m a mom. It’s because I’m me.

But every once in a very long while something spectacular happens: fashion comes to me. I stumble upon a style that is, apparently, very “with it.” Such is the case with my radical frugality. I came to it out of necessity, years before this economic downturn. I got looks of pity from friends and family for several years, but now I get more people asking me for advice as they too are forced to find more ways to cut back.

If you’ve experienced a “budget reduction” and are looking for ways to cut back, here are my best ideas. I’ve lived or am currently living every one of them.

  1. Take stock of what’s important to you. Do not skip this step! Take the time to set goals for yourself and imagine what you would like your life to look like. Most of us say that money can’t buy happiness, but we don’t live that way. Looking to fill a void is the fastest way to flush money down the drain. Think of Michael Jackson or Britney Spears – no amount of money can make you a happy person. Find fulfillment in your life outside of status and vacations.
  2. Sell big things. Cars, furniture, boats, ATV’s, whatever you have. Most people can picture doing this when “things get really bad,” but the problem is that their alarm goes off too late. Instead of getting worried when they dip into their emergency fund (or being worried that they don’t have an emergency fund!), they start to worry when their lines of credit dry up. At that point there’s not nearly as much you can do. So get desperate sooner. Do you really need two cars?
  3. Kill your TV. My husband and I stopped all television service to our apartment three years ago and we really haven’t missed it. It’s a huge, ongoing expense, but the worst part is the advertising. We are blissfully ignorant of the latest tech gadgets, the best-looking kitchens in America, and the places people are taking exotic vacations. Lead yourself not into temptation.
  4. Eat in and cook from scratch. It’s insane how much money a person can spend on eating out and/or buying expensive prepared foods. I was not a big cook, but I discovered that making my own food is not as hard and doesn’t take as long as I thought. Meal planning is a crucial component to making this one work. Another great idea in this category would be to make your own cleaning supplies. A simple internet search will yield countless recipes for all kinds of great, nontoxic cleaners and detergents.
  5. Keep track. Of everything. Write down your financial goals. Make a written budget every month and stick to it, make a poster, whatever it takes.
  6. Use cash. Cash helps us all stay out of denial. When we use plastic, in the form of credit or debit cards, we lose touch with the most basic rule of money: money is finite. We only have so much of it. Cash is also the easiest way to stick with your budget — put it in envelopes according to category and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Very simple.

Above all, I’ve learned that saving money is a mindset. There are a thousand methods but all of them start with a genuine desire to change your situation. If you’re still looking for ways to save a lot of money without making a dent in your lifestyle, you won’t get far. But if you stop looking to your finances to find fulfillment, you’re on the right track.

Home Business Ideas for Seniors

Home Business Ideas for Seniors

A small home business can provide extra spending money or finances for living expenses. If you are a senior thinking of starting a business, here are ideas and options to consider.

Internet Home Business Advantages

Selling a product or offering a service online differs in several important ways from operating a local business. One of the biggest advantages of an online home business may be its market potential. With the Internet, you can find needed supplies or merchandise for your business, and sell to customers worldwide.

This is especially valuable if you are interested in marketing a very specialized items or service. Unusual and unique products and services will probably appeal to someone somewhere – via the Internet, but may be impossible to sell locally.

Another big advantage of an online small business is its flexibility. With the Internet, you can pretty much work on building your business according to your own preferences and time schedule. You can even close up “shop” for days, weeks, or even months at a time and not worry about the pool of potential customers drying up.

Possible Internet Home Businesses

Seniors, more than the general population may excel at certain types of online businesses. Some possibilities are:

Past work experience Services

If you’ve spent many years perfecting your skills in a subject or field, consider selling your expertise online. Advertise your extensive background and charge a little higher than the norm for your practical knowledge. Customers appreciate finding someone who really “knows their stuff”, and your business should prosper.

Senior-related Products or Services

Because of your own experiences, you are more likely to know what other seniors might want or need. Products for retired and senior citizens you might consider selling include knowledge (articles and books), items relating to entertainment, travel, lifestyle, nutrition, and health. An Internet business could also provide any services that could be delivered or arranged electronically and would fulfill the needs and desires of seniors.

Local Home Business Advantages

If you would rather spend your time involved in business activities that do not involve the computer, a local home business might be the ticket. One large advantage is an opportunity to socialize. A big part of many home-based small businesses is some or a great deal of interaction and even socializing with clients and customers.

You can also build a local business that is done mostly from home with very little interaction with others. Or even none – through arrangements with other marketers. Possible local home businesses for seniors to consider include:

Antique and collectible Items

If you enjoy shopping at garage and estate sales, thrift stores etc., you might do very well at dealing in used, old, and vintage things. Depending on your preferences, you can sell at flea markets, collectibles shows, on consignment in the shops of others, or even open your own store.

Craft and Holiday Items

Making and selling crafts or holiday items of any kind is a possibility for seniors who love the work. Selling options include craft or holiday fairs and shows, on consignment in various shops, or through you own store.

Outdoors or Indoors Services

Any type of work geared towards the needs of local resident seniors will probably do well. Choose to offer something that your research shows is in short supply in the area, and that you enjoy and do well. Or choose to provide skills to the general population of your area and advertise your considerable background. Providing professional services of all kinds should work well also, if the number of competing providers is limited where you live.

 

Finance Your Mortgage or Pay Off Credit Cards

Pay Off Credit Cards

Are you worried about how you are going to survive financially? Well, you’re not alone. The economy is in bad shape. Incomes have dropped by 10% from what they were last year. With the rising cost of utilities, food, gas and other necessary living expenses, many people are running out of cash long before their next paycheck.

The economic crisis has not bottomed out and is not expected to until sometime in 2010. Financial advisers are suggesting people tighten their belts a little tighter by adopting a budget and sticking to it. Cut out all unnecessary expenses, pay off credit cards and keep one or two credit cards with the lowest rate and start a savings account. It’s easy to say but hard to do.

Paying off huge credit cards balances and keeping the mortgage on the house current is a struggle for most Americans today. But when you’ve done all you can do and bank loans have all but dried up, here are a few sources of cash you might try:

Virgin Money

Virgin Money has two types of loan programs. Social Lending which formalizes loans between family and friends and Traditional Lending, you borrow from Virgin Money.

Social Lending

Let’s say you need extra money to pay off credit cards, to fix the car or for a down payment on a new home and you think mom or dad might help. Relatives or friends would probably feel more comfortable loaning you money if the loan was formalized and handled by a third party. Virgin Money negotiates the terms and repayment schedule. The interest rates can be lower and the terms more flexible than a traditional bank.

Traditional Lending

Maybe you are trying to sell your home and can’t find any bank approved buyers. Virgin Money offers FHA, fixed and adjustable rate mortgages. Get the information you need from Virgin Money.

Lending Club

Reader’s Digest lists lendingclub.com as a possible source of cash. They offer low rates and fixed monthly payments on personal loans, auto, debt consolidation, student and home improvement. If your credit is good, you can get a lower interest rate than you would receive from more traditional sources.

Lending Club has been written up by CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC News and quite a few more. Read the news coverage and see what you think.

Since traditional loans are harder to get and social lending clubs have become a viable source of loans, the Securities and Exchange Commission is busy trying to form regulations and approve each club. Two clubs awaiting approval are Loanio.com and Prosper.com. They have suspended operations and hope to reopen soon. At the rate the economy is crashing, let’s hope it’s soon!

Loanio.com and prosper.com are for riskier loans. They facilitate loans between borrowers and lenders. Be sure to gather as much information as you can and understand the risks and your rights before you borrow or lend.

Private Student Loans

The demand for student loans has increased while the availability of loans has decreased. GreenNote is a social lending club for student loans and they provide fixed rates and no co-signer or citizenship is needed. Relatives, friends or anyone who wants to invest in you, can fund your education. GreenNote formalizes the loan and handles all the details, including repayment. Read news and press releases for GreenNote.

Be careful, these loans are real and need to be paid back. Missed or late payments will be reported to credit bureaus.

How to Get Started in Owning a Franchise

Get Started in Owning a Franchise

There’s lots of advantages to owning a franchise. You can operate under an established name, sell products people already want, have a pre-determined pricing structure, and it can be a valuable opportunity. Some may be more beneficial than others, and you’ll have to do your homework though! Is a franchise investment for you?

While it’s still no walk in the park; a franchise could be saving grace for anybody who wants some of the ‘work’ that owning a business involves done for them. This bonus comes at a heft cost, and there are lots of pros, and cons to the situation. Let’s examine each of them.

The number one pro to owning a franchise is of course operating under an established name. Let’s say somebody is driving down the road, and they see two resturants – Burger King, and Joe’s burger shack. People are more likely to stop at the place that they are familiar with (Unless of course they’re an avid BK hater).

There’s always the one extremist who’s totally against Mc Donalds, KFC, or any other chain. Whether it’s because they’re funded by the Church of Satan, they way they supposedly treat employees, ect. The people who appreciate a chain store more than outweighs those that do not; else this model would not exist.

You also can take into account that all your product sourcing, pricing, and materials are through the company. This means that you won’t have to barter with dealers, and go through the hassle of making sure you can turn a profit for the price you charge. The only problem with that is that the corporation can charge you anything that they want. You’re only allowed to by cups from them, buy computers from them, buy fries from them, ect.

There’s also a certain code of ethics you’re not allowed to change. Typically regarding wages, benefits, practices, how employees are handled, ect. For example somebody I know used to be a manager of Papa John’s. Per their chain’s rules they are not allowed to hire any drivers with traffic violations – No exceptions. Things like this will be beyond your control with a franchise; wherein if you owned your own business the law is made by you.

There can be other rules involved with you even purchasing a franchise though too. For example Chik Fil-a manually approves buyers, and if they deem that where you wish to put the franchise is unacceptable they’ll deny your claim. The fees for operating different entities varies a lot as well. It can be anywhere from $70k to upwards of $1 million dollars. The price tag is not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve got the cash it can be worthwhile to you.

Some people own several franchises whether they be the same store or different businesses, and make a pretty penny doing it. A franchise owner does not always manage the franchise either; meaning they don’t come to the store everyday, and do the dirty work. Many simply bank roll the operation, and collect the rewards – opting to pay somebody else to over see operations for them.

You also will not have to deal with the hassle of supplying benefits to your employees. Since you are owning a franchise any of that goes through the actual corporation, and they can take part directly. This goes for training as well – Your store will most likely recieve pre-made materials for your future employees.

If you decide you want out of this particular franchise you’re free to sell it at anytime most cases to another individual. Our local Dominoes pizza store trades owners probably a couple times a year – Mostly because they find out that particular chain has a very low profit margin, and expensive equipment.

Enterpeneur.com recently released their list of the top franchise opportunities for 2009! Start up costs in parenthesis.

  1. Subway ($78k -$238k)

Subway is a very popular sub chain. Growing in name for value, and health reasons. Personally I detest their food, but considering the low start up costs, and big profit potential I’d probably still own one of those if I were to go a franchise route.

  1. Mc Donalds ($950k – $1.8M)

The biggest burger chain in the world of course commands a high price. No doubt you’re paying for their big name, and not equipment charges. While this is pretty much guaranteed to turn a profit – It might be a while before you recoup your expenses on this one.

  1. Liberty Tax Service ( $53k – $66k)

Very cheap start up costs, but low profit potential in my opinion. More, and more people are getting their taxes done online, and with software these days (including me). It’s not hard to do them yourself, and I don’t think it will be much longer before people refuse to pay $70 to pay money to the government. There’s also a limited time frame to do business so the earnings seem small to me – Not something people would want every week like fast food.

  1. Sonic Drive-Thru ($1.2M – $3.2 M)

This franchise seems rather expensive considering their popularity, and their equipment costs. This resturant pretty much consists of a kitchen, and outside dining room!

  1. Intercontinental Hotels Groups (Varies)

In the right area a hotel could be a very good investment. I live in what may be the vacation capital of the United States – Everyone wants to come to sunny Florida, and they need a place to stay! The pricing is unlisted, and probably varies by location, and building size.

  1. Ace Hardware ($243k – $1m)

Ace Hardware is of course a hardware store – which again looks overpriced to me. They pale in comparison to competitiors like Home Depot, and Lowes who have a much bigger selection. The store layouts are basic, and unimpressive. I don’t see the huge profit potential from something so pricey, and yet so small.

  1. Pizza Hut ($638k – 2.9 M)

A popular pizza chain. The have the advantage sometimes of being both a sit down resturant, and a delivery service. Similar stores like dominoes, Hungry Howies, and Papa John’s do not offer a dining room. Again, a tad pricey for their offering I think. Perhaps to be more exclusive, but they may offer better profit margins than competitors.

  1. UPS Store ($171k – $280k)

This one looks like an opportunity to me – Owning an internationally recognized postal carrier outlet. Especially in a busy shopping center where people could do their shopping, and mail their packages all in one go. While I use USPS myself; I know somebody who mails packages at UPS about every week. The start up costs are much lower than some of the other options as well. Could be very busy during holidays too.

  1. Circle K ( $161k – $1.4m)

Circle K is a quickie mart type of store, but can also have gas pumps. Any place convienient to the main road that sells gas can make a pretty penny. I’m surprised this one is so cheap considering the prices to install pumps, maintain gas containers, ect. Though that will probably all come out of your pocket – Something to watch out for.

  1. Papa John’s Pizza ( $135k – $431k)

Cheaper than the other pizza place on the list, but probably not quite as popular. This one seems like a better value to own, but you’d have to do your market research before buying. Some of those marked as more expensive may be that way, because of their desirability. The profit margins they turn, the desire for their product, ect. Investing in a business peddling pricey products at this time may not be wise, but a company like Mc Donalds with it’s dollar menu should be seeing pricing booms.

Even if a family can’t afford to drop a good $100 at Outback for dinner they can afford to spend a few dollars at McDonalds instead. A recession puts a strain on every business, but some are doing better than others. You might look into lower cost resturants, or discount stores such as Dollar Tree too.

If you don’t have a load of cash sitting around it is possible to get financing for a franchise purchase – though this will be no easy feat. If you have less than perfect credit then you will have quite a time doing it. Below 700 probably will not net you a loan for an expensive business venture.

How to Finance a Business Purchase in Today’s Economy

Finance a Business Purchase in Today's Economy

You’ve come to the right place if you want to understand how to finance a business. Getting your business financed can be a piece of cake if you get a complete evaluation on all potential lenders, choose the right loan for you and discover how to structure your financing. Stay tuned to learn how you can make getting your business financed a breeze.

Our current economic situation leaves many people reluctant to spend any money. Many banks are hesitant to lend money in fear they will lose their investment or gain a business in foreclosure. Protect yourself and your business by requesting a background check before you decide on one particular lender. With many banks dropping like flies from day to day, it is important that you get the protection you need for your investment. Once you’ve mastered securing a stable and reliable lender for your new business, finding the right loan for you will be the icing on the cake.

Once I’ve made a list and checked it thoroughly to find a good lender, then what? How do I know what type of loan would be best for me and my business? Your loan should fit you like a well fitted glove. It’s important to choose a loan that won’t cause you to “live beyond your means”, your business will only last if you can afford it. Choosing the right loan is important, but a proper financing structure is the key part to the purchasing process.

I found the right lender and a loan that fits my requirements, what else do I need? What else would I need to do to make my business purchase? It is important to fully analyze your finances. You need to make sure that your finances are structured for success now and in the future. Understand that the research and planning you put in now will create the foundation for success for your business.

Did you realize all the thought and planning that goes into purchasing a business in today’s economy? Getting your business financed can be a piece of cake if you get a complete evaluation on all potential lenders, choose the right loan for you, and discover how to structure your financing. Now show the world that you aren’t going to let the current economic recession crush your dreams of owning your own business today.

 

How Do Divorcees Safeguard Their Finances?

Divorcees Safeguard

A divorce, in most cases, is brought about by marital conflicts and, despite the fact that it is the legal way of parting ways, it rarely ends in a friendly manner. It is never easy for the divorcees since it tends to create a painful semi-permanent scar due to the emotional trauma that is suffered. It also causes quite a huge financial impact especially to the economically disadvantaged partner. In most cases, it is the woman who has to sacrifice their careers to tend the family as a wife and mother. Even when undergoing tough emotional strains and stress, it is imperative for one to take financial matters seriously during this process of separation. With the right strategies in place, one can be able to achieve a smooth deal that ensures financial security afterwards.

To begin with, it is very important for one to hire a good attorney to represent them. This does not call for the most expensive ones but those who will have and keep the matter to their best interest. A good attorney should produce documents that cover all the necessary aspects such as the custody of the children, their maintenance or support, and possession of properties and assets. The attorney should be well vast with matters concerning family law and must be able to handle and take matters in the speed that is required. The more the case drags, the higher the costs of settling it and the nastier it gets.

Also, one requires to have a bank account in his/her own name for the sake of settling the normal basic expenses. The courts never bar one from operating such marital funds thus this provides a good support for any short notices.

One may need some credit cards under their name. It is usually advised to get this credit card before things get out of hand since after a divorce, it may turn to be very difficult to get one. Getting such as card is usually very easy for those whom are still married. This card helps one to overcome the stress caused by joint accounts since one partner may opt to close it down after a divorce leaving the other party in a financial crisis.

Having a record for the financial documentation makes the process of solving financial matters easy during a divorce. It might seem unnecessary to have the documents such as financial statements when in marriage but the ex may make it difficult to acquire these papers after separation and it is not be easy to have them once divorced. Some of the documents may, out of malice, disappear.

One must learn and cope up with an adjusted and more realistic budget. It is very important for one to assess and find out how much it will cost them and the children to live on only the available resources. The style one was accustomed to may change drastically.

Lastly, it is critical for one to focus on the future other than cry over the past. Life has to go on and if one had never worked before, they need to focus on what they can do and go for it. The child support or alimony one might receive out of a divorce will quite often not be enough. The healing process calls for starting a new life and realizing new goals or previously shunned potentials.

Bad Credit Affects More Than Just Finances

Bad Credit Affects More Than Just Finances

Bad Credit Affects More Than Just Finances – Most people realize that having bad credit can create a variety of financial problems. If you have poor credit, it is difficult to be approved for any new credit accounts. Having bad credit can result in less than ideal loan terms. You might very well struggle for approval on a loan for an automobile or a new house if you have poor credit. Unfortunately, a bad credit history can reach farther than your pocketbook.

If you are in the market for auto insurance, a poor credit rating can make it difficult for you to find affordable insurance. Many insurance companies charge higher premiums for people with poor credit. This might sound like a financial issue, but it is much more than that. If you cannot find affordable car insurance, you might not be able to drive! This might not be so bad if you live in an area with public transportation but does create problems if you live where there is no or minimal public transportation.

You probably do not give your credit history much thought when you are applying for a job, but you should. A poor credit history and credit score could prevent you from being hired from a job. There are employers that will request a credit check if they are giving consideration to hiring you. If you have poor credit, the employer might believe that you are not responsible enough for the job. They will probably overlook you for sure if you will be handling finances in your job because they believe you cannot handle your own finances. A poor credit score is not something to take lightly if you are hunting for a new job.

A poor credit history can make if difficult for you to rent a home. Most landlords will request permission to request a background check. If you have a poor credit history, they are not likely to approve you as a tenant. If you have no option other than renting an apartment or house, you could face an uphill battle if you have bad credit. If you are approved to rent a property, it will probably not live up to the same level of quality as a house or apartment you could have rented if you had good credit.

Having bad credit can affect the way you feel about yourself. You might feel as if you are failing your family or yourself if you have not been able to establish good credit. You might even feel embarrassed by your credit problems. This makes it difficult to stay positive and motivated enough to improve your credit rating.

A poor credit history can affect you if you have children who are ready to go to college. Most students do not receive enough scholarships or financial aid to cover their entire tuition and expenses. They might look to you to help them secure loans for college. If you have poor credit, this might not be possible.

Parents often like to help their children when they buy their first new car or their first home. Many parents do cosign for their adult children who need a significant loan. This is something that you will not be able to do if you have very poor credit when they need your help.

It is important to work to build good credit or to rebuild your credit if it is currently poor. Poor credit will have a negative impact on many aspects of your life. It will affect far more than just your pocketbook. Start making responsible financial choices today.

Eliminate Debt by Going on a Spending Fast

Eliminate Debt by Going on a Spending Fast

Consumer debt is at a all-time high. Families are living above their means and using credit to cover the expenses they can not afford. If you are reading this article, I will assume you are at a point where you are tired of debt running your life and ready to eliminate it.

Fasting is traditionally known as a time without food. People in the Bible used a Fast as a time with no food to seek direction through prayer from God. A spending fast can help your family seek direction on your finances by eliminating your current spending habits.

Here are 5 steps to complete a spending or financial fast to eliminate debt

  1. Pick an upcoming month to do the spending fast. Make sure you pick a month that you are able to complete it. Do not pick a month that you know you are going to have some issues with. If you make an exception for one item or event it will be too easy for you to slip off of the spending fast.
  2. Make a list of the expenditures that you truly need for a month and make a vow to not spend over this amount. For example you need gas for your car to get back and forth to work but you do not need gas for your car to travel for entertainment or other events. You need groceries but try to make a vow to only spend a certain amount per week. Attempt to make as many meals as you can out of your pantry. By separating your needs from wants before the month starts you have set the rules and groundwork for your spending fast.
  3. During your month long financial fast make some tough decisions. If a friend calls and asks you to go out to dinner, explain to them what you are doing and that you are attempting eliminate some debt. Ask the friends to come over after dinner to play cards. Cutting entertainment like going out to eat, movies, and even cable can save you lots of money that can be used at the end of the month to pay debt. If something in your house breaks that is not an emergency, try to find a solution to fixing it that is inexpensive. Be creative, look on line for some solutions to different household problems.
  4. Keep a journal. Write down those things that you did not miss and those that you did during the month. Maybe you did not miss going out to lunch at work but did miss taking your kids to a movie. These journals and note entries can be used later to reset your budget. If your spending fast can identify some areas that you spend money carelessly with no real gain then it will prove to be a life changing event.
  5. Track your savings each week and write a check to pay a debt at the end of each week. By using your surplus to eliminate debt weekly you will encourage yourself to continue and get the money out of your checkbook to not be tempted to spend more when the spending fast is completed.

A spending fast to eliminate debt can help a family to pay down debt during their spending fast month and also encourage new habits to be formed that can help them permanently change how they save money. A website with Christian roots that you can sign up for a 30 day spending fast is www.financialfast.com This Christian ministry will pray for you during the fast and send you some encouraging materials to help you along the way.

Good luck on your plans to eliminate debt and I hope a spending fast can get you their faster!

How to Use a Commercial Factoring Company to Finance a Business

Finance a Business

Factoring is designed to increase cash flow when funds are limited and accounts receivable are high. It is short-term financing to solve short-term cash flow bottlenecks. The cash-poor company sells its accounts receivable at a discount to a commercial finance company known as a factor. Cash is made available to the entrepreneur as soon as proof of shipment is provided or on the average due date of the invoice. Most factoring arrangements are made for one year.

Factors make their money by acquiring a company’s invoices and collecting on them, charging the business a fee. Unlike banks, factors buy, pay for, and own the receivables outright. If your creditors don’t pay, the factor may incur a loss. Some factors require that the entrepreneur establish a reserve for bad debt of approximately 5% of the account. If the account is not collected within 120 days, the factor will draw against the reserve. If the receivables eventually are collected, the factor’s return on investment exceeds that of conventional lenders.

Many business owners use factoring when their banker turns down a loan request that they had tried to guarantee with their accounts receivable as collateral. Under factoring, accounts receivable are not used as collateral against a loan but instead are sold directly, at a discounted value, to a factoring company. For example, if the factoring company uses a one-time charge and discounts 6%, then for every $1,000 in receivables, the seller receives $940.

Some factors discount according to a schedule, paying a smaller percentage up front and then paying an additional percentage depending on whether the receivables are collected within 30, 60, or 90 days.

The factor takes over the entire collection procedure, including mailing the invoices and doing the bookkeeping. Each of your customers is notified that the account is owned by and payable to the factor.

If you are a new business and your accounts receivable are evaluated as marginal credit risks, you may not be able to find a factor that will accept your accounts receivable. Let’s face it: although they take greater risks and are more liberal lenders than commercial banks, factors need to be assured that your customers will pay their bills. They will execute substantial credit checks on each debtor and carefully analyze the quality and value of the invoice before buying it; they look to the strengtMof the receivables and creditworthiness of the invoices that you are selling them. Factors will also establish credit limits for each customer.

Factoring is not the cheapest way to obtain money, but it does quickly turn receivables into cash. The advantages of factoring are receiving a cash injection quickly, paying bills in a more timely manner, obtaining more credit, and fostering better growth than traditional borrowing. Also, the fee is an expense and offsets taxable income. Essentially, the entrepreneur is buying insurance against bad debt.

The chief disadvantage of factoring is the high cost of money relative to traditional borrowing. Also, to many entrepreneurs, factors receive outrageously high returns. A business concerned with cash flow but not with collection might want to pursue the less costly route of using accounts receivable as collateral for a commercial bank loan.

Overall, factoring can be compared with using a credit card for your business. Factors work best with businesses that have cash flow problems because of long delays between making and selling goods and then collecting cash. Start-up ventures, emerging businesses, and service companies are prime candidates for factoring. For recommendations and references about which factoring companies to use, talk to your trade associations, to members of the infrastructure, and to other entrepreneurs in your industry.