5 Ways to Get More College Financial Aid

5 Ways to Get More College Financial Aid

Going to college can be a very exciting and nerve wrecking time. Between the excitement from starting a new chapter and the thought of making new friends, it can become stressful very quickly. While there are some students whose parents can pay for college, not every student is that fortunate. When financial aid isn’t enough it’s easy to think that you’re all out of options but, there are ways to get more financial aid.

Reduction of Household Income:

If there is a decrease in your household income from the time the FAFSA is filled out to the time where additional assistance is needed, then there is a possibility that you can receive more financial aid. A decrease of income can come from anything from having a new job, to even losing employment or taking a pay cut. Most colleges want to see that there is a financial hardship and even though the FAFSA has many questions about household income, hard times are not easily seen on the applications.

Death of a Guardian or Parent:

This doesn’t mean that one of your parents have to die for you to get more financial aid. The death of a parent may not be included on the initial FAFSA for various reasons. Perhaps because it might not be a recent death some may not include it but adding this information can make the difference in receiving more aid. When filing an appeal it is key to note any negative to changes to really make your case.

Divorce or Separation:

While the question is posed on the FAFSA, some students may not be in the situation at the time that it’s filed. Mentioning this on a financial aid appeal can make a world of difference. Single-parent households usually receive more financial aid than a student who has both parents in the home.

Damage from a Natural Disaster:

Something that is essentially out of your control can earn you more aid. If there’s a hurricane or a snow storm and it damages your home or car this can increase your financial aid. When money has to go towards something else that is big, like home repairs, it will become more difficult to apply that to college tuition. This can lead to reduced funds and that’s really what colleges look for in an appeal.

Unexpected Medical Expenses:

Anything can happen at any time. Whether it’s an illness that’s spreading around or a major injury, this can also earn you more financial aid. Medical bills add up and can be quite expensive. This isn’t a common instance that sparks the thought of financial aid assistance so many may not even know of the opportunity to get that increase.

Any of these situations can cause immense stress and while communicating to financial aid it is definitely best to remain calm. Hostile phone calls and emails don’t benefit anyone, especially when you’re looking to get some extra help. It is always good to keep an appeal short and to the point while remaining polite throughout the process.

Edward Schinik is the CFO and COO of Yorkville Advisors.

The Importance of Marketing Automation for Your Business

The Importance of Marketing Automation for Your Business

Introduction:

For a business to survive, an effective marketing strategy is needed. No matter how innovative a product or service may be, if it does not target the right audience, a business can never succeed. Marketing helps in helping the products reach the target clients, and ensuring that they use it. In today’s world, automation is everything. More businesses are using marketing automation. As a business owner, marketing automation is essential because:

1. It boosts your CRM:

CRM is a tool that is present in every marketing strategy. Combining marketing automation with CRM makes it possible for you to track and monitor all the activities in your marketing campaign. When looking for a marketing automation platform, get one that works well with CRM. It is similar to a phone. If you have a smartphone, you have to get the best applications. If you do not use apps, it is just a normal phone.

2. Increased productivity:

Marketing automation simplifies the marketing process. The stress of dealing with a tedious manual process will be relieved by an innovative platform. As a result, your productivity gets a boost in that your marketing department can focus on activities that need the attention of human beings.

3. Customer retention is increased:

In all business, clients are essential. Most companies struggle to retain customers. Marketing automation can be linked to email marketing to ensure that your clients are kept up-to-date with your brand. Your business continues to grow while maintaining relationships with clients. Using automation helps you get better insights of your customer’s intentions. With such information, you can be able to tell what your clients want and avoid wasting time and energy.

4. Monitor marketing campaigns:

Whether your company uses drip or social media marketing, you need to monitor the success and failure of each campaign. For most businesses, monitoring is a tedious task, but it can be simplified using automation software. Additionally, you can be able to tell the success of your campaigns with measurable data. The software can help you monitor your expenses, and get to learn the campaigns that are worth continuing.

5. Understanding your leads:

Using automation software enables you to keep track of web pages your lead views, the emails they open, and the landing pages they are converting from. You will be able to find out the content that is popular among your clients to get higher conversion rates. Software professional state that a company that uses marketing automation can receive an increase in qualified leads by 451 percent. Many businesses invest in marketing automation to increase lead management.

Conclusion:

Finding the right marketing automation is necessary for any business that is targeting success. What used to take companies days or even months to execute can now be done in a short time. Because of that, much time and resources are saved and can be used to improve other sectors of the organization. To be able to have the edge over your competitors, invest in marketing automation and you are headed for success.

Edward Schinik is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Yorkville Advisors.

Tips for Surviving a Stock Market Crash

Tips for Surviving a Stock Market Crash

Investing in the stock market can be a great way to build long-term wealth. When you are looking to invest in the market, you will find that bull markets can provide a lot of growth and strong investment returns. However, there are also bear markets and random stock market crashes that can be harder to deal with. Fortunately, there are several tips that can be followed that can make it easier for you to deal with a stock market crash.

Don’t Get Emotional:

When a stock market crash is taking place, the most important tip to follow is to avoid getting emotional. When the stock market takes a deep dive down, it is very easy for people to panic and want to sell all of their stock. While they may be able to avoid some further temporary losses, they most likely will end up missing out on the rebound as well. This can make it impossible to ever catch back up and investors will end up losing out on a lot of potential.

Buy Low:

During a stock market crash, it could also be a great time to buy some speculative stocks at low prices. During a crash, many of the most struggling stocks will end up being those that are speculative in nature. While these stocks can increase dramatically during a strong economic cycle, they can do even worse when things are bad. This can provide you with a great opportunity to acquire a growth stock at a fraction of the price.

Focus on Quality:

During a bear market, you should also focus on the quality of stocks that you are buying. During periods of prosperity, it is important to focus on stocks that provide a lot of potential. However, during bear markets you should also look at companies that are stable and strong. It could be beneficial to invest more of your capital in companies that have a strong balance sheet and are able to withstand the bear market. You should also look for stocks that continue to pay dividends during the recession.

Consider Opportunities:

Another advantage of investing during a bear market is that you will receive more opportunities than you would during other cycles. When the whole market is going down, it provides plenty of opportunities to invest in companies that could actually prosper during a recession. Discount retailers and other similar companies can do very well when the market is low, which can provide you with a great opportunity.

Monitor Regularly:

When you are dealing with a stock market crash, it is also important that you monitor your portfolio on a regular basis. Many people tend to ignore the market when times are bad. While this can help to reduce stress in the interim, it can lead to larger problems in the long-term. A better option would be to continue to monitor the market and their portfolio to ensure they are positioned as well as possible for the future and are properly protected from other risks.

Edward Schinik has been with the Investment Manager since 2009.

5 Skills You Need to Be Financially Successful

5 Skills You Need to Be Financially Successful

Who doesn’t want to be financially successful? This article addresses the skills that make you financially successful!

1. Discipline:

Self-Discipline is the number one trait that brings success in not only the financial front but also many other aspects of life. However, when it comes to financial success, one needs to be very disciplined in order to control impulse spending and wasting money on unnecessary items.
The sudden urge to go on a shopping spree and to buy to make yourself feel better is a big NO. Maxing your credit card, a bigger NO. How do you not do any of these? By cultivating self-discipline. Save first, spend next. You can only do so when you have an uncompromising level of discipline.

2. Self Confidence:

If you don’t trust yourself, then who else will? A healthy dose of confidence upon oneself and one’s skills and capabilities play a significant role in determining a person’s financial mileage. Confident people make the right choices, right decisions and walk away with a profitable deal at the end of the day.
On the other hand, if you’re not confident about yourself and if you don’t curb your emotional instincts like unnecessary anxiety and panic in the cases of market ups and downs, your investments have near zero chances of yielding you a profit.

3. Organization:

It is nearly impossible to be financially independent, let alone successful if you are unsure about managing your finances. Have you paid your installments on time? Have you saved the 20% of your paycheck for your investment in a new business that you plan on opening next year?
Sit down and plan your expenses and savings. Stay organized, make payments on time. Pay the fees and bills on time to avoid late fines. Surround your planning and organization around this mantra— Save first, spend next. With proper planning and organization comes great wealth.

4. Critical Thinking:

You are your boss. You might hire a wealth planner, or you might subscribe to a brokerage firm that gives you the advice to bring you riches. Don’t rush, pause, wait, do an analysis of your own. Take every advice, especially a financial investment advice with a pinch of salt.
Do your thorough research, analysis and only then commit towards investing in any venture. Upon failing to critically think and evaluate where you put your money, you open gates to fraudsters and con-men.

5. Self-Awareness:

Being self-aware is being absolutely sure about what you are and what you are not. Being extremely rational, objective and clear about your strengths, weaknesses and risk appetite is one of the key factors to making it big.
Without understanding yourself, you can never make wise decisions and stand by your decisions in the case of failures or loss. With self-awareness, you also understand your spending patterns and can effectively identify where your money is sinking and what you must to do stop losing money. Awareness is something that is hugely person. No one knows you better than yourself.

Edward Schinik serves as both the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Financial Officer of Yorkville Advisors.

The True Value of SMS for Your Business

The True Value of SMS for Your Business

Running a successful business is, first and foremost, a matter of communication. After all, if you can’t communicate ideas, updates, and important information, how can you expect things to run smoothly?

Imagine being able to contact your customers, employees, and clients in mere seconds–allowing for fast, effective communications. Thankfully, this technology already exists: it’s SMS (short message service), better known as text messaging.

SMS has transformed from a mere personal communication tool to a potent marketing and business communication strategy. Let’s take a look at the incredible value this technology can provide your business.

Fascinating Facts about SMS:

Text messages have become a formidable communication method; a majority of people now prefer SMS to older methods like phone calls, emails, or internal business memos. To illustrate this, consider the following facts:

  • People read texts quickly–in fact, 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being received (and nearly 100% are read by the end of the day they were received). Compare this to emails, which are seldom read before the end of the day!
  • More than 1/3 of people check their cell phone within five minutes of waking up in the morning. People even check their phones during mealtimes and breaks.

Finding the Right SMS Provider for Your Business:

The variety of SMS texts we’re talking about are a little more complicated than your average text message. For maximum efficacy, you want to be able to quickly and easily send group messages.

For businesses, this typically means the use of an API platform, which can convert and format these messages into a highly-effective SMS communication. While you could accomplish this by yourself, why would you want to spend valuable time and man-hours on ineffective marketing or hard-to-read communications?

These days, finding an API platform is just a matter of some dutiful web research. API platforms offer many different services, depending on the platform, including targeted marketing messages, urgent news SMS, and even confirmations of shipment, delivery, etc. No matter what your needs are, you can find SMS companies that can cater to you.

Improving Your Business’s SMS Strategy:

Texting is a very different beast than emails or phone calls. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing your business-related texts for mass distribution:

  • There’s a 150-character limit per SMS; use short, simple words that communicate ideas in the easiest fashion.
  • Business texts are different than personal commmunications: get straight to the point, there’s no time for salutations or trivial info.
  • Use SMS to manage expectations, and to promote a better understanding of your products, services, and deadlines.
  • Try to adopt a friendly tone–this makes your business appear more personable, approachable, and up-to-date with modern technology.

We wish you the best of luck in adopting the power of SMS business communications; you’ll be very glad that you did!

Edward Schinik is the Chief Operating Officer with the Investment Manager.

3 Strategies for Managing a Mutual Fund Portfolio

3 Strategies for Managing a Mutual Fund Portfolio

Establishing a regular savings program is essential for securing a future retirement, but ensuring that money continues to grow is the real secret to accumulating wealth. Take a look at three common methods for managing a mutual fund.

Dollar Cost Averaging:

This is a good plan for those who are able to invest a set dollar amount on a regular, preferably monthly basis. If you invest in a mutual fund in this manner, clearly in certain months you are acquiring more shares of the fund than in other months. This may seem counter-intuitive to some as you are buying more when the price is down. However, this approach removes any emotion from the equation and relies on the belief that over a period of time, despite cyclical trends, the market will rise. Over time, the costs average out, but you have acquired more shares in the down market.

Index Funds:

An index fund is a type of mutual fund that is designed to track the performance of a specific index of the market. Obvious ones include index funds based on the S & P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average but can include any groups of stocks with similar characteristics. Index funds typically have lower costs associated with them than other mutual funds because no ongoing research, analysis or projections are necessary and there is a strong tendency to maintain the same securities in the fund for a longer period of time, which reduces transaction fees.

Go with your Gut:

While this is most often the least successful investment strategy for mutual funds, it is probably the most common one for the individual investor. You may look at your portfolio and see what you don’t have and look to add something different. You may ask what friends have done with their money and try to replicate what has worked. Unfortunately, you will likely be chasing the past cycle and end up on the wrong side of the market. Even if you have some success with certain investments, this strategy almost always creates the least positive returns.

Any investing requires a fundamental assessment of your goals as an investor. Diversification is always a good rule of thumb, but you also need to pay specific attention to your age, when you will most likely need your money and, importantly, your personal risk tolerance.

Edward Schinik has been with the Investment Manager since 2009.

3 Great 401(k) Features Everyone Should Know About

3 Great 401(k) Features Everyone Should Know About

It was just a few decades ago that most employees had a nice pension and a gold watch waiting for them when they turned 65. That’s no longer the case. Today, more employers offer a 401(k) plan or a similar defined contribution plan for their employees. Many people decry this shift, but there are some great features that come with 401(k) plans. Here are three that you should take into consideration before deciding not to participate.

401(k) Plans Allow You To Save On Taxes:

For every dollar you put into a 401(k) plan, you’ll save your marginal tax rate on that dollar. If your marginal tax rate puts you into the 12 percent tax bracket, you’ll actually only see 88 cents for every dollar you save taken out of your paycheck each pay period as long as you save on a pre-tax basis. If your tax rate is higher, the tax benefits get even better and could hit as much as 37 percent in 2018. Additionally, you don’t have to pay any taxes on the gains that you experience within your 401(k) until you decide to take the money out when it comes time to retire.

You Can Save Big Money:

Not only can you save money that would otherwise go to Uncle Sam, there are other benefits that come with saving in a 401(k) plan. Starting with the 2018 tax year, you can save up to $18,500. This number goes up periodically, depending upon the rate of inflation. This is money that you can shelter from taxes as noted above, and it can add up to a massive amount of money over the course of a working career. Additionally, if you are 50 years of age or older, you can save $6,000 more each year. This catch-up contribution would bring your total possible contribution to $24,500 for the year, and this amount will start to add up quickly.

Your Employer Might Add Funds:

One of the best aspects of saving in a 401(k) comes around for those who are lucky enough to have employers who throw in matching funds. This means that for every dollar that you put in up to a certain percentage of your pay, your employer puts in a specified amount. A common matching level is a 50 percent match for the first 6 percent of an employee’s pay. This means that you’d save $3,000 on an average $50,000 salary. Then your employer would kick in an additional $1,500. At this level, you’d effectively be saving 9 percent of your annual salary, which is getting pretty close to the 10 to 15 percent that financial planners recommend. Your employer match is free money, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity.

Saving for the future is a must if you’re looking to have a relatively secure retirement. The decline in pension plans does not have to be a negative. If you take advantage of tax-deferred retirement plans like 401(k) plans along with an employer match, your money can really start to compound to an impressive sum over time.

Edward Schinik is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Yorkville Advisors.

3 Ways to Invest In Real Estate without Buying Property

3 Ways to Invest In Real Estate without Buying Property

Finding unique ways to invest your money is very important. While most people invest a portion of their assets in the public stock markets, it would also be a good idea to find other ways to invest to diversify your total investment portfolio. One type of investment that can provide you with great long-term returns on your investment is real estate. Unfortunately, owning investment real estate can be time consuming, stressful, and capital intensive. For those that would like to invest in real estate but are wary of actually owning real estate assets, there are three great ways to invest in the industry without ever having to worry about owning or managing a property.

Publicly Traded Real Estate Companies:

One of the best ways that you can invest in the real estate market is to invest in publicly traded real estate companies. There are dozens of real estate companies including REITs, real estate developers, and property management and brokerage firms that are publicly traded. These companies can provide you with a great long-term investment return, regular dividends, and other investor benefits. Furthermore, you will never have to worry about owning properties directly. Instead, you can enjoy the investment returns and leave all of the hard work to the professionals that lead these publicly traded companies.

Real Estate Mutual Fund:

Another way that you can invest in the real estate market is by investing in a real estate mutual fund. Today there are several actively managed real estate mutual funds that will provide you with an even more conservative and diversified investment option. These funds will invest in a wide variety of different companies in the industry including those that own, develop, and manage real estate investment properties. The funds tend to increase in value over time along with improvements in the overall real estate market. You can also expect to receive regular dividends to provide you with instant cash flow and investment returns.

Micro Investing and Lending:

For those that are looking to invest in more specific real estate projects, there are also a variety of micro investing and lending platforms available today. With a micro-investing website, you will be able to invest a specific amount of money towards the purchase, renovation, and management of a property. While you will own a small share of the property and project, it will be very limited and you will have no management responsibilities or controls. With these investments you will earn a preferred return on investment. If you are interested in providing debt, there are also micro lending websites that are geared to providing loans to real estate investors.

Edward Schinik has been with the Investment Manager since 2009.

5 Steps to Investing Your Health Savings Account

 5 Steps to Investing Your Health Savings Account

Health saving is one of the types of bank savings, but they are different when compared with the standard savings which will serve as the emergency fund, or vacation fund, the money that will be saved for health will only be used to take care of health care expenses. There are so many healthcare plans to choose from you have to select the right one. Some will be excellent because they will have the low deductible health care plan with a coverage that is amazing but others will not be that fortunate. The money set aside for the healthcare can be used to cater for annual physical visits, dental work, office visits and any other cost. Continue reading to understand the five steps of investing in your health saving account.

Determine Eligibility:

The health saving account will not be a good thing for everyone. To qualify for the account, you must have the high deductible health insurance plan. As from 2013, for someone to be eligible for the health saving account, the minimum annual deductible has been $1250, and if you have families, it’s $2500. The state that you live in must have accepted the health saving account, but if the other health insurance already covers you, the policy has to be the one that has the high deductible plan.

Review your Finances:

To fully benefit from health saving, the cash saving has to be deposited in the account. The limits that the IRS will have will be on how much you can contribute annually to the account $6250 for families and $3100 for individuals.

Open the saving account through your employer:

If in the company that you work in the employer will cover the health insurance expense, the only option that you can have is the high deductible plan. Since the only thing the cover will take care of is the major medical expense. But some employers will go out of their way to pay for the deductible plan with health saving account, that way as the employee you will have the chance of opening the account when they enroll the health plan.

Get the health saving account on your own:

Every bank will offer the health saving account or the credit union. If the employer has not provided the saving account, then check with your bank. The bank will provide you with the debit card that will be attached to the saving account, making the whole process easy to pay the amount in the saving account. If you don’t have the time to visit the bank you can set up the account online.

Check Competitor Fee:

If the bank that holds your checking and the one that you have been saving with has high fees, you don’t have to open the health saving account with them. There will be fees that will be accompanied with health saving accounts like the annual fees and maintenance fees. If you are not careful, the fees will cost you a lot. Check several banks comparing the fees before going ahead and opening the account.

Edward Schinik is the Chief Operating Officer with the Investment Manager.

Top Tax-Advantaged Investing Alternatives Beyond Company 401(k) Plans

Top Tax-Advantaged Investing Alternatives Beyond Company 401(k) Plans

Saving for retirement and other long-term financial goals is very important. For those that are looking to prepare and save for the future, taking advantage of tax-advantaged savings accounts and investment strategies can be a great option. While most people are aware of the advantages that come with investing through a 401k, there are other savings and investment accounts that can provide tax advantages as well.

Life Insurance:

One conservative investment that you can make is to invest in whole life insurance policies. Whole life insurance will provide you with life insurance protection and can also be a very conservative type of investment. When you purchase a whole life policy a portion of your premiums will go into an account that can be liquidated. This account will appreciate in value over time. While payments are made post-tax and the income earned will be taxed when it is withdrawn, the tax rate will likely be much lower since you will be in retirement.

Roth IRA:

Similar to a 401k, an IRA account will provide you with great tax advantages. With a Roth IRA, the contributions that you make into the account will be made on a post-tax basis. When it comes to retire, you will not be charged any tax on your withdrawals. This will allow your account to grow tax free and will provide a great long-term benefit. One downside is that the maximum amount you can put into the account each year is limited to $5,500 if you are under 50 years old and $6,500 if you are over 50.

Manage Your Own Index Fund:

Another way that you can manage your tax liability on your investments is to manage your own index fund. Index funds are very popular investment options because they diversify investments across the board and have low costs. One downside is that all of your capital will be in one investment, which could put a lot of tax liability on your shoulders when you finally sell. A better option would be to purchase industry and sector specific funds. These funds can cost a little bit more but will allow you to sell certain investments and hold others depending on what makes sense from a tax perspective.

Tax Free Investments:

Finally, another good investment option to minimize your tax liability is to invest in tax-free investments. These investments, which incur a variety of municipal and other bonds, can provide you with a steady and low-risk return on investment. Furthermore, your investment income will not be taxed. However, there is a limited return on investment potential that can make them a less than attractive option for someone that is looking for any kind of growth.

Edward Schinik has been with the Investment Manager since 2009.