Not Enough Money for a Savings Plan? Think Again

SavingsFinancial experts offer plenty of advice when it comes to effectively managing your money. A quick online search for money tips yields millions of results, each providing readers with unique perspectives about what is required to live a fiscally responsible life. Yet, if you take some time and peruse the top 10 articles, or the top 100, you’ll find one tip repeated again and again: save more money.

Whether contributing to a retirement plan, building an emergency fund or simply depositing a small percentage of your take-home pay into a savings account, growing a nest egg is one of the smartest actions you can take to improve your financial situation. Financial advisors all agree that resolving to set aside between 5% and 10% of your monthly salary for savings is a resolution that you will be happy you made.

Why So Few of Us Save

For many, increasing our savings is not new advice. Experts have been touting the importance of building our financial reserves for decades. Despite this well-established advice, few of us actually do it. According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, over 20% of Americans fail to set aside any of their annual income for short or long-term goals. And of those who do save, another 20% save 5% or less of what they earn. Financial advisors contend that we are in the midst of a savings crisis and these statistics support their claim.

If savings are the key to financial success, why do so few of us actually make an effort to save more? The answer lies in a common excuse. “I don’t have enough money to save,” is the number one reason survey respondents commonly cite as to why they do not have a savings plan. Although it’s true that we are increasingly finding ourselves under more and more financial pressure as the cost of living continues to rise around the globe, this excuse reveals something important about the act of setting aside money, namely, you’ll never feel like you have enough of it to save.

Developing a Savings Mindset

It’s a common misconception that savings plans require you to set aside large sums of money each month. The first goal of any savings plan is to get you into the habit of saving. Starting with as little as 10 dollars a week can be a great way to boost your savings mindset. Once setting money aside has become a habit, you can adjust your weekly or monthly targets as your circumstances change. For example, if in the future you receive a pay raise at work, your savings mindset will encourage you to reflect on your long-term savings goals and set aside a proportion of your promotion towards achieving them.

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Grow Your Savings with Micro Investments

Developing a savings habit is important. No matter how much money you are able to set aside each month. And thanks to technology, there’s another way to amplify your savings and get your money working for you. I’d like to introduce you to Micro Investing. Micro investing applications are eliminating barriers to traditional investing. With micro-investing, you’re purchasing fractional shares, which means you can reap the benefits of economic growth without requiring a large outlay of cash. Thanks to interfaces that guide your investment decisions based on your unique financial situation and goals, these apps make it easy to invest your money.

Popular micro-investing platforms include Betterment, Stash, Acorns and Robinhood. The majority of micro-investing apps allow users to purchase small shares of ETFs or exchange-traded funds. ETFs are inherently diverse because they track a broader set of assets instead of a single stock. Diversification is ideal for cautious investors, and it’s something micro-investing apps help you achieve with carefully curated portfolios that match your risk tolerance and financial goals.

If you’re new to the complex world of investing or simply lack the funds required to purchase complete shares, micro-investing apps can offer you a way to grow your savings with limited risk. Although micro-investing will not yield explosive financial growth, it can be an excellent way to learn more about investing and your personal risk tolerance.

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Disclaimer

SolidTrust Pay is not an investment advisor or fiduciary and this content is provided for educational purposes only. Before purchasing any investment, please evaluate your financial situation and personal risk tolerance.


Get Paid Faster with SolidTrust Pay’s Free Invoicing Solution

Invoicing

Whether you’re a freelancer working in the gig economy or are scaling your small business to new heights, how you collect payments says a lot about your company. The more complex this process becomes, the more effort you must devote to managing your payment system. As order management, on-time billing and reporting become essential to the success of your company, cumbersome financial platforms can negatively impact the amount of time spent running your business, a trade-off that takes you away from doing what you do best – solving your customer’s problems.

According to data from SAP Concur, 73 percent of small businesses rely daily on manual processes to send and collect payments. Relying on paper records may have worked in the past, but the outdated process can make it difficult to track outstanding payments. Customers can readily fall through the cracks, preventing you from collecting your full dues. Fortunately, thanks to technology, integrated payment platforms can simplify much of the billing and invoicing process saving you time and reducing human error. Sifting through piles of invoices and receipts becomes a thing of the past, as all your payment information is neatly displayed online whenever you need it.

The 3 Keys to Simple Invoicing

1) Simplify the Payment Process

The first rule of effective invoice management is to streamline the entire payment process. Avoid the temptation to use invoices to market to your clients and instead embrace a simple design that clearly articulates what services or products were rendered and what is now due. This logic also extends to the payment process itself. When delivering digital invoices to your customers, ensure that they can pay using a credit or debit card and minimize the number of pages that they must navigate through to finalize their payment. This will prevent errors and helps guarantee faster payment.

2) Automate Payment Reminders

We’ve all been there, a bill arrives and we set it aside to be paid at a later date only to discover three weeks later that we have yet to actually pay it. Payment reminders are a quick and easy way to save time and resources when dealing with late accounts. Online invoicing solutions allow you to resubmit an invoice to a client as a reminder that payment is due. When looking for an invoicing platform, make sure this service is included.

3) Streamline Tracking and Reporting

Your invoicing system must enable you to quickly track the status of your payments. Once identified and sorted, you may then choose to close and properly file the invoice, extend the invoice’s payment terms or send a payment reminder to your customer. Proper invoice analysis also helps in forecasting the demand for goods and services, while helping you maintain appropriate inventory levels. A simple and easy to navigate dashboard with export functionality is essential to streamline your tracking needs.

Woman reading payment bill

Send Professional Invoices for Free with Click2Pay

Our convenient Click2Pay service lets you send digital payment requests to anyone, anywhere in the world. Simply input their email address and the amount, and our free invoice system will notify them immediately. When we created Click2Pay, we streamlined the invoicing process. Your customer can pay you with their credit or debit card and they are not required to create a SolidTrust Pay account.

Your client’s payment is instantly credited to your secure STPay e-wallet and our easy-to-use dashboard allows you to easily track all your payment requests. Your invoices can be sent on a date and time of your choosing and our integrated payment reminder allows you to easily remind your clients about outstanding payments that may be overdue.

Let us take care of your invoicing needs so that you can take care of what really matters – growing your business. To start sending free invoices, log in to your secure STPay eWallet and go to My Money > Invoices/Click2Pay.

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Is Your Cryptocurrency Safe & Secure?

CryptocurrencyRisk

2019 may already be a distant memory for many of us, but if you own cryptocurrency, the year was marked by some exciting highs and disappointing lows. Fortunately, prices are again rising and experts predict that 2020 could be a breakout year for bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies. Whether or not you trust the predictions of digital currency pundits is completely up to you. After all, security titan John McAfee famously predicted that bitcoin would be valued at $1 million by the end of 2020. McAfee has now changed his tune. Earlier this month on Twitter, he confirmed that his prediction was nothing more than a “ruse to onboard new users.”

Despite the widespread dissemination of misleading, contradictory and downright false information about the cryptocurrency market, decentralized digital currency adoption continues to climb. But this news hides an insidious fact: cryptocurrency theft is rapidly increasing. According to blockchain analysis firm Chainanalysis, hackers successfully breached 11 cryptocurrency exchanges in 2019, stealing more than $283 million worth of cryptocurrency. If you look at data from the last decade, these hacks represent the highest number of security breaches at digital currency exchanges in a single year. For comparison, only 6 major exchangers were breached in 2018.

Fortunately, these numbers hint at some good news. Thanks to improved security and transaction verification systems, hackers are escaping with less and less cryptocurrency from exchanges. The $283 million loss is less than one-third of the $875.5 million worth of crypto that hackers stole in 2018. Of course, hackers are by no means only targeting exchanges. Their operations are for more complex than that. According to security provider Carbon Black, the first half of 2019 saw nearly $1.1 billion in cryptocurrency fall into the hands of cybercriminals. Exchanges comprised only 27% of attacks, with businesses (21%), private users (14%) and government (7%) accounting for almost 70% of documented cryptocurrency theft.

Why Hackers Target Cryptocurrency?

Blockchain, the ledger technology on which cryptocurrencies like bitcoin rely on, is very secure. The problem rests with who is able to make transactions on the blockchain. The answer to that question is anyone. Because the identity of individual cryptocurrency wallet holders is never known, digital currency’s anonymity and personal privacy conspire to make it the perfect tool for scammers and hackers. In this manner, the decentralized peer to peer nature of cryptocurrencies that draw users to it, also conspires to work to the advantages of individuals determined to use it for illicit purposes.

How To Protect Your Digital Assets

Whether you’re a seasoned financial strategist of a first-time cryptocurrency investor, you’ll want to take the necessary time to thoroughly scrutinize your chosen digital currency exchange. Look for third-party audits, which are an excellent sign that the organization you are considering purchasing cryptocurrency from is well-run and safe.

Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure that your cryptocurrency wallet is secure. Cold wallets that rely on hardware authentication and that are physically disconnected from the internet when not in use, provide you with the highest security of any cryptocurrency wallet. There are no known incidences of hardware wallets being compromised, and when used correctly, experts single them out as the ideal cryptocurrency storage solution.

Buy & Sell 10 Different Cryptocurrencies with SolidTrust Pay

Did you know that you can now buy and sell 10 different cryptocurrencies directly from your secure SolidTrust Pay e-wallet? At SolidTrust Pay, we’re looking towards the future. That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to buy and sell cryptocurrency using your secure STPay e-wallet. To begin, simply add your cryptocurrency wallet to your SolidTrust Pay account and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your smartphone or desktop computer. You can learn more about setting up 2FA HERE. Your Bitcoin deposit is then instantly converted to U.S. dollars. Read our handy get-started guide HERE.

To withdraw your SolidTrust Pay funds into your cryptocurrency wallet, go to My Money > Withdraw Funds and select the Altcoins option. Please ensure that you have enabled 2FA on your account and have added an external digital currency wallet before proceeding with a cryptocurrency withdrawal. For step-by-step instructions, please click HERE.

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Protect Your eCommerce Accounts from Threats

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Which category of shopper do you fall into? Would you rather purchase everything you need from the comfort of your home over the internet, or do you enjoy the sensory and tactile experience of venturing out to a store? Despite predictions of a coming “retail apocalypse,” in which online shopping would do away with our need for bricks and mortar stores, retail establishments continue to thrive in the digital age. Yet, a new report commissioned by UK law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, suggests that by 2028, 53 percent of all retail sales will be made online. If this statistic is correct, the global retail industry will undergo unprecedented change in the near future as retailers innovate and cater to the changing desires of shoppers.

From its humble beginnings in 1994 with the sale of the Sting album “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” to the creation of the platform economy which includes companies like Airbnb, DoorDash and Uber, e-commerce has rapidly evolved into a trillion-dollar industry. Advances in mobile technology, artificial intelligence and faster internet speeds are poised to push e-commerce even further. Already, on-demand delivery, auto-replenishments and augmented reality are slowly finding their way into the industry, giving online businesses improved ways to interact with their customers.

Your Private Data is Under Threat

Despite these exciting advances, it may surprise you to learn that e-commerce is under threat. These sites are a favourite target for hackers who will do whatever it takes to gain access to your personal data. According to a report by cybersecurity firm Shape Security, more than 90 percent of an e-commerce site’s global login traffic comes from cybercriminals. Hackers use specially designed programs to flood a site’s login fields with stolen data procured from the dark web. These attacks are called “credential stuffing” and are successful as often as 3 percent of the time. This may not sound like a high percentage, but the costs quickly add up for online businesses. Last year, this type of fraud cost the e-commerce sector around $6 billion.

In a credential stuffing attack, criminals will purchase usernames, email addresses and passwords from large data breaches and test them on nearly every website and mobile app that they can access. Eventually, hackers will input your stolen information in a login field and gain unauthorized access to an account. They will then collect any pertinent information about you that can be monetized. Credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers and answers to security questions are all desirable targets because hackers can use this information to access additional accounts you may have or bundle the data and sell it to other nefarious criminals.

If you believe e-commerce sites are doing their best to safely secure your personal information, new research questions that common assumption. According to Magneto, roughly 22% of online merchants are neglecting security best practices and are putting their customers’ data at risk. Overlooking PCI compliance, requesting unnecessary information and failing to keep software updated are the most commonly overlooked practices. And if you think that a business will promptly notify you about any data breaches, thereby enabling you to quickly change your login credentials on accounts that may be vulnerable to a hack, think again. On average, it takes 15 months from the day credential data is stolen to the day an intrusion is revealed. This means that criminals often have more than a year to try out your credentials on an endless number of sites before you are even aware that your personal data has been compromised.

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Don’t Fall Prey to Credential Stuffing Attacks

So, if you can’t trust e-commerce sites to protect your personal and financial information, what can you do to prevent yourself from falling victim to a credential stuffing attack? The easiest solution is to change your passwords often. Cybersecurity experts now recommend that you change your passwords every 30 days and store them in a secure password manager like KeePass or LastPass. These services not only ensure that you don’t have to remember your passwords, but they can also automatically generate complex passwords for you.

You will also want to avoid using the same password for each of your online accounts. This way, if one password falls victim to a data breach, your other accounts remain secure. Ideally, you should have unique login credentials for every site you use. Finally, it’s important to create strong passwords. Safe&Secure is a poor choice for a password because it can be easily cracked by a brute force attack. Instead, try the sentence method. First, think of a random sentence and transform it into a password by taking the first two letters of every word. So, “I was born in South London on Saturday,” becomes IwaboinSoLoonSa. You can also add numbers and special characters to make the password even more secure.

It is our hope that this post has encouraged you to reevaluate how you create and use online passwords. As one of the easiest steps you can take to safeguard your personal and financial information on the internet, we urge all of our valued members to use strong, unique passwords for each of your critical accounts.

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